A plot hole can ruin an otherwise great movie.
Finding a blatant continuity error or heinous anachronism jolts a viewer out of a story and can rightfully be catastrophic. You don’t need to look far on the internet to find gleeful takedowns of popular blockbusters and deep cynical analyses of once beloved movies listing their flaws and mistakes.
Yet when a story by definition deals with impossible or other-worldy events, it can be difficult to draw the line between fair criticism and poking holes for the sake of it. Part of the fun of cinema can be looking for those paradoxes and plot flaws but it is important to remember that without a little suspension of disbelief you probably wouldn’t have a story in the first place.
The movies on this list are all flawed. No movie is perfect. Yet the much maligned "plot holes" in these stories actually make complete sense in the context of the universe being explored and the type of story being told.
If the movie can still be enjoyed despite, or in fact because of, a questionable plot point then who are we to complain?
Here are 15 Movies With Huge Plot Holes That Actually Make Complete Sense!
15 Hiding Luke on Vader’s Home Planet - Star Wars
Star Wars' twins, Luke and Leia Skywalker, were separated at birth, one was given a new planet and a new name and the other was fostered on his father’s home planet.
It has been mentioned that leaving Luke on Anakin’s home planet, running around with Anakin’s surname, was not the most fool-proof of hiding places. Yet there are plenty of reasons that the chosen hiding place was a stroke of genius, rather than a plot hole.
Obi Wan knew that Anakin hated Tatooine and would never return to face his past. If Vader had felt the pull of the force to his home planet, he would be more likely to shrug it off as a pull to his past than suspect to find a secret lost son growing up on the planet. He had no reason to look. Also, he hates sand…
14 How Batman Got Back to Gotham - The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises finished off his grim-dark reboot of the Batman franchise.
Largely well-received, it did spark consternation across the internet for a series of perceived plot holes, one of which involved how Bruce Wayne managed to get back to Gotham from the desert.
When Wayne escaped from the pit, he is essentially stranded in the desert with no money, no gadgets, and left in the torn clothes he is wearing.
There are a few credible theories about how the Dark Knight managed to get back to his city. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the billionaire would have secret stashes of cash at different global locations. Perhaps he simply high-tailed it to one of those and then paid to get himself back?
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne had left his home behind and traveled the world learning to understand criminals. He must have picked up a few survival tricks during that time. It is hardly a surprising skill for the Batman to possess.
13 Why Didn’t The Eagles Take The Ring To Mordor - Lord of the Rings
JRR Tolkien’s fantasy epic can be accused of a little Eagles ex Machina.
On a couple of occasions the Giant Eagles of Manwë turn up exactly when they are needed to rescue our protagonists from harm. We see this in The Hobbit when the heroes are rescued during their battle with the orcs, again in The Lord of Rings when they rescue Gandalf from Saruman, and when they pluck Sam and Frodo from Mount Doom after the One Ring is destroyed.
This begs the question: why didn’t they just take the One Ring there in the first place?
The answer to this is fairly obvious. For a start, Frodo took on the task because he was considered insignificant and, if corrupted, would have been able to do little harm. It is made very clear that the mission to take the One Ring to Mordor is not easy. We know that the Dark Lord watches the skies as the Fellowship hide from Crebain, flocks of crow-like black birds used as spies, on their own journey. More importantly, the Nazgûl also fly with their Fell Beasts and could well have intercepted the Eagles had they been charged with the One Ring.
12 Neo's Desk Escape - The Matrix
Once we have travelled a little way down the rabbit hole in the Wachowskis’ '90s sci-fi masterpiece The Matrix, we realize that the agents who try to hunt Neo in his office physically at the beginning of the movie could have caught him in much more creative ways. When we recognize that Neo’s reality is only a virtual dream, created by the Machines, we wonder why hiding under his desk meant he could evade their capture?
The agents that track him are just utility programs. It is entirely possible they are following programmed parameters. Up to this point, the audience think the world follows normal rules, as does Neo. We do not know how much more information the agents have at this point.
Much of The Matrix follows pre-determined paths and perhaps the universe did not need Neo to be captured yet?
11 Kitty Pryde Can Send Wolverine's Mind Back In Time - X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ellen Page reprises her role as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The story revolves around the team sending Wolverine back to the ‘70s to change history and prevent the doom of both mutants and humans.
Even more unusually, Kitty Pryde has now developed these time travel abilities in addition to her usual phasing abilities. She can send a mutant’s consciousness back in time, which is not a power she possesses in the comics or earlier in the films.
Although not explained in so many words in the movie, these new abilities do make sense. In the wider canon, there is a reference to Secondary Mutations. Secondary Mutation is a phenomenon amongst mutants where they develop secondary or stronger mutant powers. Kitty’s abilities are also a nod to the fact that it was she who actually did the time-traveling in the comics, rather than Wolverine, so it is fair to cut the writers some slack.
10 Engineer's Black Ooze - Prometheus
Ridley Scott’s long-awaited prequel Prometheus was met with a mixed response.
One of the most common complaints was the number of mysteries and leaps in logic that made up the plot. It is undeniable that a lot is not explained, but that is less a plot hole and more a symptom of the desire to make a sweeping mystery trilogy.
A substance not unlike primordial ooze, but black and rather deadly, is a pertinent plot device in the movie and one that raised eyebrows and drew cries of "plot hole!" among fans. This ooze has different effects when interacting with different characters. When the Engineer ingest it, his body falls apart; when the mealworm touches it, they create a worm creature with a face-hugger type mouth; the geologist, Fifield, transforms into a zombie-like creature when he interacts with it.
This is not, in itself, scientifically impossible. Many elements behave different when mixed with disparate settings or hosts. It is confusing and not yet properly explained, but it is not impossible.
9 Ares Waits Till Diana Was Grown to Destroy the World - Wonder Woman
Arguably, one of the weaker aspects of the movie was its antagonist, Ares. In a movie that explored the nuances of the human condition and the nature of justice, the firey God of War was about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
Diana was raised - designed, in fact - as the weapon to destroy Ares. It seems a little strange then that Ares waited all the years while Diana grew up and trained on Themyscira, before he implemented his world-destroying plan.
Yet, this is just not true. Ares’ intention wasn't simply to destroy but to slowly lead humans to destroy themselves. While Diana grew up, he was working on humanity. The Great War was the culmination of his insidious plotting, not the beginning.
8 Buzz Freezes When Humans Are Around - Toy Story
In his iconic high-tech space suit, Buzz Lightyear is a toy space ranger who fervently believes he is real.
While the rest of the cast of Toy Story know they are toys and strive to make Andy happy, Buzz struggles with the knowledge of his toy-state. Yet when humans enter the room, he freezes and remains silent, just like the other toys.
A few suggestions have been made for why Buzz freezes along with the other toys. It could simply be instinct – he is a toy, even if he doesn’t think he is and toys stop moving when humans are around. Alternatively, he is a space ranger, trained to blend in with the natives and he believes this strange custom is the best way to infiltrate the group.
7 Burying The Stargate When The Goa’uld Have Spaceships - Stargate
In 1994’s Stargate, an interstellar transportation device, known as a Stargate, is discovered buried in Egypt. The device can be used to travel to different points in space and a special team of soldiers, scientists, and Egyptologists step through to explore.
They discover that the gate goes to a world similar to Earth, inhabited by a group of people who speak a variation of Ancient Egyptian and think the squad have been sent by their god, Ra. It is revealed that Ra is actually from a powerful race of aliens called the Goa’uld, who have enslaved the humans, and our team strive to free them from his rule.
The plot hole centers around that fact the device is buried in the desert to stop it being used. The flaw with this plan to stop the villainous Goa’uld coming through is that, although the Goa’uld use the gate to travel, they also have spaceships.
Of course, those that buried the gate might not have realized this, as much of the Goa’uld’s hold over their people is based on lies. Burying the gate did stop it being used so that part of the plan is hard to argue with.
6 Where does the ice come from? - Edward Scissorhands
At the end of Tim Burton’s dark fairytale, Edward Scissorhands is left alone in the inventor’s mansion, carving beautiful sculptors out of ice to create snow for the town.
The flaw that many have pointed out is: where did he get the ice?
The magical story of Edward Scissorhands is told from the point of view of Kim. Kim, played by Winona Ryder, was the teenage daughter of the family who took in Johnny Depp’s Edward. Edward fell in love with the young woman and their tragic story forms the backbone of the suburban fairytale.
It is easy to argue that the image of the scene is entirely in her imagination. Edward carving ice and creating snow acts as a poignant reminder to an earlier scene where the two had been together. Much of the storytelling is stylized and could be from her imagined memories more than real life.
Regardless, if a viewer can accept that Edward lived and slept and ate in that ruined mansion, then it is hardly much more of a step to imagine the crazy inventor had a huge stockpile of ice.
5 ET doesn't fly to his spaceship - ET
At the beginning of E.T., our adorable alien protagonist is left stranded by his spaceship.
Yet later on, in one of the movies most beloved scenes, ET and Elliott ride a bicycle into the sky to escape the bad guys. Why didn’t ET use his powers at the start to chase down his spaceship?
There are plenty of reasons for ET not to have used his ability at that point. Firstly, he might not have known the extent of his powers. While a lot is unknown about ET, he behaves in a child-like manner throughout the movie so it is possible he was growing into his skills.
Equally, while we see ET fly in the sky, he may not have wanted to follow the spaceship beyond the atmosphere. We have no idea if he would have survived that.
4 The Three Rules Are Impossible to Follow - Gremlins
Everyone knows the three rules regarding Mogwais: Keep them out of bright light, don’t get them wet, and never feed them after midnight.
There’s a lot of problems with these rules. They are basically impossible to keep. It has been pointed out that "after midnight" is a nebulous time that varies depending where in the world you are. Everything is after midnight, until you wrap back around to midnight.
Even accepting that there is a magical midnight sweet spot, the other rules are flouted in the movie. There is a moment where Billy follows Stripe’s footprints in snow, meaning the creature had been in contact with snow and not multiplied. Surely snow is wet. The Mogwai also drink beer and soda during the movie without incident.
All these rule violations can be explained easily: Gremlins are magical. The creatures magically know when "after midnight" is and magically know when the liquid is water and not beer or soda.
3 Aliens Aren't Hurt by the Moisture in the air - Signs
M. Night Shyamalan’s science-fiction thriller Signs has, not surprisingly, a bit of a twist ending.
After finding a series of crop circles in his corn field, former priest, Mel Gibson, faces up to an alien invasion in order to protect his children.
His daughter, Bo, is unusual in that she leaves half-finished glasses of water around her house. It is these bizarre glasses that save the family as they find out that water burns the alien creatures.
If water burns, like acid, then surely moisture in the air would affect them?
In reality, the level of moisture in the air would at best be an irritant, perhaps with long term consequences. Regardless, invading a planet made almost entirely of water is a little silly for the aliens. Yet we have no idea what the aliens are there for and the location could be accidental or in desperation. There is even a pretty well-thought out theory that the aliens are, in fact, demons - but that’s a story for another day.
2 Why Not Send an Army of Terminators? - Terminator
James Cameron’s Terminator has a simple and familiar premise. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an indestructible cyborg, sent back in time to assassinate a waitress whose unborn son will one day lead a resistance against the machines. He is countered by a soldier from that war who is also sent back to stop him.
It has been pointed out that it would have been a bit more foolproof to send back an army of Terminators, especially when the first one failed.
This is a good theory but it doesn’t hold up in practice. Sending a Terminator back was a last-ditch effort on Skynet's part. The bad guys might not have had the time, money, or troops to pull out a time-travelling army. Not to mention that messing with time travel too much might have caused them all not to exist instead.
1 Who's Funding Ferris? - Ferris Bueller
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off once represented what every ‘80s teenager aspired to be.
A classic coming-of-age flick, Ferris vows to have one last duck-out before graduation and "borrows" a Ferrari to embark on a blow-out across Chicago. Meanwhile his teachers are determined to prove Ferris’ truancy but the teens evade capture through various hilarious means.
The most common question is, how did a high school wise guy pay for it all?
We know Ferris ‘borrowed’ the Ferrari from his friend Cameron Frye, who really had been home ill when Ferris had convinced him to get the gang together for one final trip. The kids attend baseball games, eat at fancy restaurants, and go to museums. Ferris mentions at one point that he has no money, so who pays for the infamous trip?
In a deleted scene, he "borrowed" his father’s bonds, hidden in a shoe box. It is suspected that the scene was removed as it made him look more like a criminal than a lovable scamp.
Are there any other movie "plot holes" that actually make sense? Sound off in the comments!