Continuity is an important part of telling a story. Whatever the genre, continuity is the reason we carry on watching TV shows year after year, season after season. We become invested in a plot, in the characters, because we want to know what happens in their story, and the world the writers have created. Which is why there is nothing more annoying than a continuity error to ruin the illusion, and sometimes our favorite shows in the process.
Continuity errors can found in everything from movies to video games, but it’s even more irritating when they occur in a TV series because viewers have often spent years following the storyline, only to be left confused by people acting out of character or a plot twist that doesn’t make any sense. TV shows actually hire people to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen, but occasionally things slip through the cracks. Here are 13 Plot Holes In Popular TV Shows That Will Drive You Crazy.
Warning: Once you’ve noticed these errors, there’s no going back!
13 who is the youngest of the Friends
Hard-core Friends fans may have noticed that the character’s ages change constantly throughout the show, sometimes quite drastically. For example, the first time Ross mentions his birthday in a conversation with Joey, he says it’s in December, but a few seasons later he claims it’s October 18th. He also can’t keep track of his age, and is 29-years-old for roughly three seasons despite going through several Christmas and other Holiday episodes.
Ross isn’t the only one who seems to have unlimited access to the fountain of youth. In the season 7 episode "The One Where They All Turn 30," the gang celebrate Rachel’s birthday, and she is the last one to hit the milestone. However, Joey is actually the youngest. In the season 1 episode "The One with The Birth" he says he is 25, while Rachel and Monica are both 26. Fail.
12 the house the burnt down in The Simpsons
Cartoons may not be realistic, but it’s still annoying when they can’t stick to a storyline. The Simpsons is especially bad for this, partly because it’s been on the air for so long that they’re running out of plausible ideas for episodes. Still, this one particularly sticks out.
In the episode "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)," Homer and his family flee from a duel with a mad Texan cow-boy to the farmhouse where Homer grew up. However, Homer and Grandpa accidentally burned the house down in the earlier episode "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy." Still, when the Simpson family return the house is standing, but Homer is struggling to grow any food. A neighboring farmer tells him that was why Grandpa Simpson abandoned the place, but in "Grandpa s. Sexual Inadequacy," Abe says they left because the cows started giving sour milk (which we soon find out is because Homer ran around the barn yelling at them).
11 a baby born too soon on How I Met Your Mother
In How I Met Your Mother, Ted is telling the longest story ever, so it’s understandable that along the way he might make a few mistakes. However, that still doesn’t make it any less annoying that certain details are all over the place. The most annoying is, perhaps, the ever-changing timescale of events throughout the show, which is particularly obvious in the final season when we actually meet the mother and everything is supposed to be tied together in a neat little package.
Many fans have pointed out that the timeline for Ted’s proposal to Tracey and the birth of their daughter Penny is all wrong, based on an episode in season 7. In the episode "Trilogy Time," we get a flash-forward to 2015, where Ted is holding baby Penny. But in season 10, when we actually see Penny being born, Ted is wearing a wedding ring, meaning him and Tracey are already married. However, Ted didn’t meet Tracy until 2013, and didn’t propose until two years’ later, creating a huge continuity error as there is virtually no way Penny could have really been born in 2015. Die-hard fans, such as this one, have tried very hard to make the timeline work and preserve the show’s legacy, but even in their estimates it’s still pretty iffy. Annoying!
10 how did JD meet Turk in Scrubs
In the first episode J.D and Turk meet Elliot and the other new interns together at orientation, and Turk attempts to hit on Elliot by asking if she is "surgical or medical" before leaving her to J.D. However, in a later episode J.D describes his meeting Elliot to Turk in a flashback, completely changing the story of how they met and describing her as having a "flat butt, just how he likes it."
Another part of the storyline that changes is how Turk and J.D meet. This continuity error is particularly glaring, because their supposedly longstanding friendship is a huge part of the show. In season 2’s "My Kingdom," Turk tells J.D that he was a dork right from the moment he met him. There is then a flashback to a few of J.D’s dorkier instances, the first being J.D introducing himself to Turk after showing up at their dorm room on the first day of college.
However, in the season 4 episode "My Changing Ways," J.D and Turk reminisce about how long they’ve lived together, but this time the flashback shows Turk showing up the dorm to find J.D at a computer wearing a wizard’s hat.
9 can vampires breathe in Buffy The Vampire Slayer?
In the season 1 finale of Buffy, Angel says he can’t resuscitate Buffy because vampires don’t breathe. This seems fairly logical, since he’s technically dead, until you consider the fact that the ability to push air out of your lungs and across your vocal chords is crucial for speech.
Maybe we can ignore this, and say that vampires are magic and don’t need to breath to speak (by far not the most farfetched thing in the Buffyverse) but what about all the instances we see vampires smoking? That requires breath, right? In the Buffy novels, it is suggested that although vampires don’t need to breath, they do so out of habit, but this doesn’t explain why, if Angel could breathe, he didn’t try CPR on his beloved.
Not to mention all the times attacks like strangulation are used against vampires that appear to work quite well, like when Spike chokes Drusilla until she's unconscious, so he can drag her off in the season 2 final, or when Spike is being tortured via drowning by the Turak-Han/Super Vamps in season 7. If he can’t breathe, then why would drowning bother him?
8 the broken elevator in The Big Bang Theory
A running in-joke in The Big Bang Theory is the broken lift in Leonard, Sheldon and Penny’s apartment building, which has been out of service since the show began. In the season 1 episode "The Nerdvana Annihilation," Leonard tells Howard while they’re lugging the prop from the Time Machine they got on eBay up the stairs that the lift has been broken for two years.
However, in the season 3 episode "The Staircase Implementation," Leonard tells Penny they were the ones who broke the elevator seven years previously in a scientific experiment gone wrong. This makes it seem strange that Leonard had to tell Howard the lift was broken in season 1, since the later episode shows he was there at the time. This is also confusing when you consider the episode in which Howard claims he can diagnose the problem with the elevator – and states it is definitely broken - which he wouldn’t need to work out since he helped to damage it in the first place!
7 Shireen Baratheon's Hair in Game of Thrones
A rather large twist in season 1 of Game of Thrones is the revelation that Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen are not Robert Baratheon’s biological children, and are in fact the product of incest with Queen Cersei’s twin brother Jaime. This fact is uncovered by both Ned Stark and Jon Arynn separately, and was based on the concept that the children couldn’t be Robert’s because they were all that famous "Lannister blonde," whereas Robert was a brunette.
On the other hand, this seems to have been completely ignored when it comes to Stannis Baratheon’s daughter Shireen, who is also a blonde while both of her parents have brown hair. Clearly neither Ned or Jon had ever heard of recessive genes…
6 just how many regenerations does the doctor have in Doctor Who
An established fact in the Doctor Who canon is that the Doctor has only 13 regenerations. In the long run, this has proven to be an issue when it comes to replacing actors who decide to leave, because more than 13 characters overall have needed exchanging. Although there has only been 12 official Doctors since 1963 – which means he has obviously used up 12 of his regenerations - the Doctor has also used his powers to heal his friends over the years. This means this power should actually have run out long ago, but the doc is still going…
Surely, within the world of Doctor Who, it shouldn't be too hard to come up with some sort of explanation.
5 who is the fourth child in American Horror Story
The Langdon family are a huge part of American Horror Story season 1 (also known as Murder House). Neighbors of the Harman family, the Langdons are constantly harassing Ben, Vivian and Violet in one form or another, whether it’s Constance’s bizarre recipes (raw lamb’s brain anyone?), Tate’s persistent attempts at wooing Violet, despite Ben’s insistence he stay away, and Adelaide’s constant sneaking in and out of the house at all times of the day and night.
However, despite their prominent role in the show, one plot hole involving the family is never filled. In the episode "Home Invasion," Constance claims she gave to birth to four children during her marriage to her late husband, each with some form of physical or mental abnormality. Still, we only ever see Tate, Addy and Beau (the oldest child with severe disabilities that Constance chained up in the attic to "protect" him). The fourth child’s identity remains a mystery, and is never mentioned again in the series after that episode. Gah!
One rumor is that the character was an albino who was scrapped before production, with a few lingering references to him left in the script, but that seems a bit lazy. Still, the show's creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, have given credence to this fan theory, hinting they’d like to revisit the dropped storyline at some point, in a later season.
4 a zombie child in The Walking Dead
One of the biggest twists in season 2 of The Walking Dead is that when we find out religious farm-owner Herschel has been storing zombies in the barn, because he believes they’re still "people," that killing them is a sin, and hopes there will soon be a cure. However, this plan is quickly scarpered when Shane opens the barn and starts shooting the dead that pour out, one of which is Carol’s 12-year-old daughter, Sophia, who has been missing since the start of the season.
There is a major issue with this plot twist. Sophia is the only child to leave the barn, which means she stands out a bit amongst the other zombies. So, if Herschel and his family knew that Rick’s group were looking for a little girl, and they had the only one seen in the area for the entire season locked up in barn, why didn’t they tell Carol and put her out of her misery? At the time they seem just as surprised as the others to see Sophia’s zombified corpse, but who else would have put her in there besides the Greene family?
Even if they kept the fact a secret because they didn’t want the others to know about their plan to hide zombies rather than kill them, it still seems a bit cruel to let Carol agonize over her daughter’s well-being, especially when they know she is already dead. They surely could have at least hinted they’d seen a zombie child about Sophia’s age wandering around the woods. Just saying…
3 Which sister is older in Charmed?
When oldest sis Prue died in the season 3 final, previously unknown half-sister Paige was bought in to reform "the power of three." As this wasn’t the original plan (Shannon Doherty left because of her tumultuous relationship with co-star Alyssa Milano, aka Phoebe), Paige’s creation and entry into the series caused a few continuity errors in the storyline.
For example, in the hundredth episode of the series, Paige sees her grave in an alternate universe, which says she was born in 1975. However, in the episode after she is introduced, Paige is shown to be born on August 2nd 1977. Phoebe is the one who was actually born in 1975, and as Paige was the secret love-child of their mother and a whitelighter, we know they aren’t twins, especially as in a flashback episode we see that Phoebe was a toddler when Paige was born.
Confusing, much? The only explanation is that the writers forgot the date Paige was supposed to be born in - bad, bad writers!
2 An unmentioned wife in The X-Files
In the season 5 episode "Travelers," Mulder is seen wearing a wedding band on his left hand. This can be seen several times throughout the episode, but most notably during the opening scene and when Mulder hides his head in his hand at the end.
This was never elaborated upon in the show, but David once said in a radio interview that it was his idea to give Mulder a wife he never talked about, stating that he thought it would make for some intriguing story ideas in the show later on. Maybe now that The X-Files is back, after a successful tenth season earlier this year, we can finally find out about Mulder's secret wife.
1 Endless high School in That 70s Show
That 70s Show is notorious for dodgy timelines and continuity errors. In the first episode, we learn that Eric and Donna have been neighbors since they were four-years-old. However, in a later season, we see a flashback of their first meeting, at age eight.
Plus, in the first season, which is set in 1976, Jackie is established to be a sophomore, while the others are all in their junior year. However, its five years before they all graduate, meaning they spent a total seven years in high school. Not to mention, it’s another three years after the graduation episode that the gang finally say goodbye to the 70s on New Year’s Eve, 1979. This messed up timeline is caused by the fact that there is a Christmas and Halloween episode in every season, despite the fact that each season supposedly represents less than a year of a character’s life.