A lot has been said about Rogue One since it opened in 2016, with still complaints on whether the original version could have been better. But one thing almost everyone agrees on is how the movie does serve an important function. That is explaining the single greatest plot hole in all of Star Wars: Why would the Empire build the Death Star with such a blatantly easy way to destroy it. Rogue answers that by explaining Galen Erso designed it that way as his act of rebellion against the Empire. It’s a great turn to fill in one plot hole but there’s still a lot more out there. Indeed, there are whole websites devoted to examining holes in movies, from small to major, several of which totally derail any realism of the picture and fans hate.
But in several cases, these “huge” plot holes actually have explanations. Most of the time, it’s from deleted scenes, bits that were meant to be in the movie but dropped at the last minute. Other times, the explanation can come from audio commentaries or interviews with the filmmakers who fill in the holes better. And every now and then, this “hole” actually has an explanation in the movie itself and no one realizes it. So many times, fans complain about these plot inconsistencies when there is a reason for it. Here are 15 supposedly “giant’ movie plot holes that are actually explained and something to remember for a rewatch.
SPOILER ALERT for these films.
15. The Lost World: T-Rex Escape
The sequel to Jurassic Park wasn’t quite the same epic smash blockbuster but did do pretty well for itself. The plot revolves around the existence of a second island of dinosaur with Ian and a batch of hunters sent to try and solve problems before they get too crazy. It brings up how Ian is considered a kook for talking about the first movie which Hammond’s company denies ever happening. He’s proven right however, when a ship from the island crashes into San Diego harbor. The crew is dead and suddenly roaring out from a storage compartment is a T-Rex who rampages around San Diego before being brought down.
This led to audiences howling over the insanity of the situation. You can buy the ship under automatic pilot to get to the San Diego port without anyone alive. But how on Earth did a T-Rex break out of his cage, kill an entire ship’s crew, then go back inside and lock himself in? The truth is that the movie was under constant rewrites, which included various different endings before they went for the wild San Diego rampage. Planned was a bit where, as the ship gets underway, a pair of Raptors sneak on board. Investigators would then find the Raptors ripped to shreds, indicating they killed the crew but when the ship crashed, it freed the T-Rex who then ate the Raptors. It just shows you can make a movie ending a bit too over the top to create such holes.
14. Return Of The Jedi: Obi-Wan’s Lie
While Rogue One may have covered up one Star Wars hole, there are still a lot more out there. One of the biggest comes from Obi-Wan’s lie to Luke regarding Vader. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan tells Luke Vader betrayed and murdered his father, Anakin. As everyone now knows, in Empire, Luke discovers Vader is his father. This leads to a confrontation with Obi-Wan’s spirit in Return of the Jedi where Obi-Wan defends himself on how, as far as he was concerned, Anakin Skywalker died on Mustafar and Vader took his place. Thus, Vader did kill Anakin “from a certain point of view.”
That seems like a bit of a cop-out and not quite keeping to the feelings of the elder Jedi. Especially given the connection to Anakin and keeping an eye on Luke all this time. But an answer finally came when the movie was released on Laser Disc (the precursor to DVDs) and contained a scene that would escape notice until the You Tube era. During his talk, the dying Yoda confirms to Luke that Vader is his father. He then adds not to blame Obi-Wan as the Jedi wanted to tell Luke the truth. Yoda, however, forbid it, thinking that knowing Vader was his father would keep Luke from defeating him. It makes a lot more sense than the “certain point of view” line to be sure.
13. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Ferris’ Funding
It’s one of the most iconic 1980s comedies of all time and still considered Matthew Broderick’s signature role. Ferris Bueller was shown as a genius, a teenager who could give scam artists a run for their money with his brilliant plot to take off school and enjoy a day downtown with his friends. Ferris soon has them driving downtown, eating at a swank restaurant, taking in a Cubs game and a parade among other adventures. It’s a fun ride so it’s easy to overlook a major question: How exactly does Ferris pay for all this? That restaurant was a five-star place and a huge payday and Cubs tickets aren’t exactly a cheap get either, especially the seats they had. Yes, Ferris was shown to be smart but how much cash can a teenager manage to bring together?
It was when the movie finally hit DVD that the answer came with a surprising bit. Ferris was shown breaking into his dad’s safe to take out bonds his dad got for him as a kid. He then cashed them in at the bank with a bit of him looking older and thus uses it to finance his adventure. John Hughes wisely decided to cut it as he felt it would hurt the movie. It was one thing to show Ferris as a loveable rogue but this crossed the line to him as a thief and would turn audiences against him. It was probably a good move (not to mention the question of his dad ever finding out) so just chalk up Ferris’ financing to his unique skills.
12. Back To The Future II: Old Biff Vanishing
The sequel to the time traveling hit has Doc Brown bringing Marty to 2015 so Marty can keep his grandson out of trouble. During the trip, Marty buys a sports almanac, intending to make a killing in 1985. Doc warns him of the dangers and he’s right as Biff (now a broken old man) overhears them. Stealing the DeLorean, Biff gives the almanac to his younger self. Thus, Marty and Doc return to a 1985 where Biff used the almanac to become the richest and most powerful man in America, turning Hill Valley into a hellhole and married to Marty’s mom, Lorraine. Before all that, the elder Biff was shown returning to 2015 and seemingly in pain, stumbling out of the DeLorean.
That left viewers confused and more so when a TV special showed a deleted scene of Biff fading out of existence. The explanation is that the script for the movie was being rewritten even during filming. As in the film, Marty would suggest going to stop Old Biff from using the almanac but Doc relates it would just be the future of this altered timeline. But in an early script, Doc would tell Marty that he did go to 2015 and found it changed. He would have then shown a newspaper revealing that in 1995 Lorraine finally got tired of Biff’s abuse and shot him dead. That’s why Old Biff was vanishing, he no longer existed in the future. Roger Zemeckis decided to drop it as far too complex for viewers and how crazy time travel can get.
11. Star Trek 2009: Nero’s Waiting
JJ Abrams’ reboot of the iconic franchise had a lot of doubters but ended up being a big success. The key is that Abrams revealed this wasn’t totally redoing Trek history but rather setting up a completely new timeline. As it’s explained, in the main Trek universe, Romulus is destroyed despite Spock’s attempts to help it. Blaming Spock for its destruction, the mad Nero takes over a massive starship and goes back in time, figuring if he can destroy the Federation in the past, Romulus will live in the future. This kicks off a new timeline where a more angry Kirk (his father killed in Nero’s attack) takes on the Enterprise. Nero is shown on his ship (oddly now missing the point of an ear) to see the time portal opening and the elder Spock of his future coming out and capturing him.
Even if you put aside how Nero could have been waiting for Spock to emerge from a time portal, there is a key issue: Why would Nero, with his massive ship, be flying around 20 years in space rather than just attack the Federation? The movie’s Blu-Ray explains it via a deleted scene revealing that Nero’s ship was damaged in that initial battle and captured by the Klingons. For 20 years, Nero and his crew are imprisoned and tortured (thus Nero’s broken ear) and yet refuse to talk. When he hears his captors talking of energies he recognizes being a time portal, Nero stages a breakout, revealing he could have escaped any time he wanted to. He was just waiting for the elder Spock to make his revenge complete. It shows how bad-ass Nero is, to put up with two decades of torture just for the perfect moment of payback.
10. The Matrix: Cypher’s Betrayal
The groundbreaking 1999 hit has an irresistible hook as hacker Neo discovers the “real” world is nothing more than an elaborate virtual reality world. It’s created by the machines that long conquered Earth, growing humans in pods and using their energies for power. Neo is said to be “the One” who will lead humanity to victory, pushed by Morpheus. He trains Neo in how to enter the Matrix with an “Operator” watching as they go on their adventures. However, one team member, Cypher, has had enough of the crappy real world and believes defeat is inevitable. So he enters the Matrix for a private meeting with Agent Smith and agrees to sell out Morpheus in exchange for a new life without remembering the real world.
This leads to the obvious question of how Cypher could get into the Matrix without an Operator standing by to help him load in and oversee him. The answer is subtle but right before that meeting, Cypher is shown talking to Neo with readouts on the screen before him. He’s startled when Neo enters and that’s because, according to the Wachowskis, Cypher is working on the program to let him enter the Matrix on his own. He’s been planning this for a while and Neo’s arrival is just the final push for him to do it. It’s a small detail but showcases how Cypher’s turn was longer than believed.
9. Terminator 2: Learning Humanity
The rare sequel even better than the original, the 1991 film has the Terminator returning but this time to protect John Connor. Reprogrammed by John’s older self, this Terminator defends him and mom Sarah from the even more dangerous T-1000. At first, the Terminator is the classic model, blank-voiced and tight, no emotions and only defends John because it’s his programming. As the movie goes on, however, the Terminator becomes more protective of John than anything else. It builds up to the big finale where the Terminator sacrifices himself to destroy his technology and telling John “I understand why you cry.” How this machine turns so human can seem a bit off.
But if James Cameron had his way, it would have been explained. Cameron fought hard to keep in a key scene where, after rescuing Sarah from the T-1000, the Terminator lets Sarah and John help him repair damage. When John asks if the Terminator can “learn to be less obvious,” he tells them that Skynet sets his mental chip to “read-only” for his mission but it can be fixed so he can learn. He talks them through it, temporarily off line as Sarah removes the chip. There’s tension as Sarah wants to destroy it but John says they need him and points out “if I’m going to be a great leader, folks need to listen to me.” Sarah agrees and puts the chip back and thus the Terminator is able to learn more and thus gain emotion. A shame it was left out as it nicely explains how the machine became a hero.
8. The Lion King: Nala’s Arrival
Disney’s epic 1994 animated smash hit remains one of their most beloved. After his father, Mufasa is killed, young Simba runs off to the jungle. He falls in with Timon and Pumbaa and soon lives a quiet and relaxed life. But things take a turn when he literally runs into Nala, his childhood friend. She’s surprised to find him alive as Scar put out the story that Simba and his dad were killed at the same time. She lets him know how Scar has turned the Pridelands into a mess and soon Simba returns to face Scar.
It’s an important turn to the movie but a bit jarring that Nala is so far out of the way of the Pridelands. Her line on “finding new hunting grounds” doesn’t make sense given the distance. As it turns out, an early scene was going to be Scar wanting to make Nala his queen and when she refuses, he banishes her. It showcases how Scar is losing his grip and why Nala was so far out of the Pridelands. The scene would end up becoming part of the hit Broadway musical to fill the plot hole even more for audiences.
7. Titanic: Jack Couldn’t Be On The Door
The Oscar-winning epic has long been enjoyed by fans for its fantastic visuals and capturing the horror of the famed liner breaking apart. True, folks rib the story and dialogue but can’t fault the technical side of things. But the ending is something long debated. After the ship goes down, Rose and Jack cling to an overturned door with Rose lying on top of it. Jack swims in the water and when help finally arrives hours later, Rose is heartbroken to see Jack has frozen to death. Ever since, fans have objected to this, saying Jack could have been with Rose on the door as well and didn’t need to die.
MythBusters even argued it would be possible but with a caveat. Yes, the door was large enough to hold them both but only if Rose thought to tie her life jacket under the door. Otherwise, the weight of both of them would have sunk it and both would have drowned. James Cameron himself took issue with this, saying that Jack would have had to dive under the water for several minutes to tie the jackets up and five to ten minutes in the icy cold North Atlantic would have killed him anyway. Of course, Cameron also offers a much easier explanation: “The script said he had to die, so he had to die. I should have used a smaller door.” At least he admits it.
6. Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom: Escaping The Mines
While fans may rip into Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, others cite Temple as even crazier and more implausible (see how Indy and friends survive a fall out of a plane and a mountain in a life raft). The film has Indy finding a Thugee cult using slaves to dig up precious stones. They use a potion to turn Indy to their side but in a fight Short Round burns Indy with a torch, freeing him from the spell. Viewers may be confused as to why he did this but a deleted scene showcased that while in the mines, Short Round saw a guard be hit with some fire. The man then thanked Short Round, now in his right mind before dragged off by guards. Thus, Short Round figured out how to break the spell.
Another issue is how Indy and his pals free the children and we see them race around the palace and then into the streets to escape. Indy, Willie and Short Round, however, have to go into the mines and a dangerous mine car chase. Again, a deleted scene explains that in order to get out of the temple, Indy put a wooden board across the volcanic chasm of the temple for the kid to cross. There would be tension as the heat would cause the plank to catch fire and then break just as the last kid got across. So Indy and friends had to go another route since nothing can ever be easy for Indiana Jones.
5. Die Hard: Hans’ Plan
While many claim this is the perfect action movie, it has some detractors. Patton Oswalt was one with a massive snapping over a plot point: That Hans Gruber is able to get a dozen guys to go in on his plan to rob the Nakatomi Plaza without telling them the key part. Which is tricking the FBI into thinking they’re terrorists in order to shut down the building’s power and thus the vault’s electronic locks. Oswalt says it’s a stupid hole that mars the idea of Hans as a genius. However, it actually proves his smarts. Hans knows that telling the whole plan runs the risk of one guy deciding to go in on it for himself. There’s also how Hans wants to keep details quiet in case something goes wrong so the entire gang won’t be incriminated. He might have told them he’d get the Nakatomi boss to give the codes up when this was his plan and proves how well he thought it out.
Another hole is when McClane meets with Hans, who pretends to be an escaped hostage. They have a good talk before McClane gives him a gun, Hans pulling it on him…and it’s empty. McClane doesn’t tell how he figures it out but the movie’s audio commentary explains it’s a subtle detail. When looking over the bodies of dead terrorists, McClane saw they all wore the exact same kind of watch. Thus when he saw Hans wearing the same type, he knew who he was. It’s a good explanation showing how McClane is smarter than he thinks.
4. Independence Day: Loading The Virus
Despite the failure of its sequel, Independence Day remains one of the best summer blockbusters ever. A mix of sci-fi and disaster movie, the effects of an alien invasion of Earth, wiping out entire cities, made it a monster hit and a guilty pleasure ever since. Naturally, scientists take issue with a lot of problems of the aliens and that includes its finale. Inside a captured alien ship, which somehow has regular seats, David Levinson is able to use his computer to upload a virus into the alien mothership that shuts down their shields, allowing pilots to attack. Ever since, it’s been mocked how easily David could hack an alien system with a 1996 laptop.
But the movie originally had a bit revealing this wasn’t as easy as it sounded. It had the kooky Dr. Okun showing David the ship, explaining they removed the “gooey pods” for regular seats so they had somewhere to sit while examining it. It was already established that David (an MIT graduate) had been figuring out the alien’s code and getting a look at their ship systems allowed him to understand it more. Thus, he was able to use this research to put the virus together and how to upload it. So it turns out it was a whole lot easier than just fixing your Wi-Fi.
3. Major League: Rachel Was The Good Guy?
This beloved comedy plays like a sports version of The Producers. Rich and wicked new owner of the Cleveland Indians Rachel Phelps wants to move the team to Miami. She reasons if they finish dead last and horrible attendance it will happen so she loads up the team with a batch of no-names, over-the-hill guys and outright lunatics. When they figure out her plan, the Indians go on a huge winning streak to get to the divisional pennant. While the movie is liked, fans did note a major issue: If Rachel’s plan was to have the Indians be horrible losers why, when they were winning, would she keep them together rather than send some to the minors or just outright fire them?
The answer finally came in a special DVD that contained an alternate scene. When manager Lou is about to resign, Rachel tells him there was never any deal to go to Miami. She really loves the Indians but her late husband left them in bad shape so she’d have to sell them off after a bad year. So she scouted out guys she knew had the talent to work and merge them together. She acted up being a catty type both to give them someone to unite against and to excuse why she couldn’t afford decent transportation or hotels. She gives Lou a big encouragement speech and is seen cheering the team on.
The writers loved the twist of how the bad lady was actually the mastermind of this whole scheme. However, test audiences didn’t as Margaret Whitton’s performance was so great that they couldn’t buy the sudden turn of her as the good guy. So, it was scrapped with new scenes of Rachel cursing the Indians winning. Thus, this plot hole would have been explained had the original fun twist been kept.
2. Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Surviving The Sub
To many, it remains one of the greatest action-adventure movies of all time. All these decades later and George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s ode to old adventure films is a great thrill ride. Harrison Ford is perfect as Indiana Jones, who tries to save the Lost Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis. True, some cling to the idea that if Indy had just not done anything, the Nazis would have opened the Ark in Berlin and killed Hitler with the wrath of God. But that ignores how it’s openly stated Bellouq always intended to open the Ark on a private island and Indy still helped get it to safety.
However, a much bigger point is when the Nazis have taken the Ark and Indy’s love Marion on a ship and transport it by sub. Indy is shown on the deck of the sub as it gets going and then at the Nazi’s island base. Which leads to the question how he managed to stick to a submarine across the ocean. It was actually the comic book adaptation that answered it by using how, for a relatively short trip, a submarine wouldn’t dive to a major depth. Thus, Indy was able to tie himself to the periscope with his whip and hitch a ride to the base. Yeah, it’s crazy but any more than “nuking the fridge?”
1. Citizen Kane: The Last Words
To many, it’s the biggest plot hole imaginable. Orson Welles’ masterpiece begins with Charles Foster Kane, once the most powerful man in America, dying in his bed. His final word is simply “Rosebud.” A reporter is sent to investigate and find out what it means. As he does, the movie shows Kane’s amazing rise to power and then his fall thanks to his own ego and excess. In the end, the reporter can’t figure it out but in the final scene, as workers toss old items into a furnace, it’s shown how “Rosebud” was the name of Kane’s sled as a child. The man was simply remembering probably the last time he was truly happy, a reminder of how money and power only go so far.
For decades, viewers of the movie have asked an obvious question: It was stated constantly that Kane had withdrawn into his mansion, basically a hermit and no visitors. It was also said he “died alone” so how could anyone know his last words? Film critics (such as Roger Ebert on his commentary) have expressed surprise at this as it’s made clear in the film that Kane’s butler was on hand and thus he was the one who heard the last words. It seems easy to dismiss him as just a servant yet amazing fans go to wild theories (like a parrot repeating Kane’s words) when the truth is quite clearly spelled out.