Whenever we watch movies, it goes without saying that viewers need to suspend their disbelief, because movies are usually not going to be completely realistic, and some movies are completely far-fetched. With that in mind, most viewers will simply go along for the ride and the let the film entertain them.
However, what is not so entertaining is when aspects of the film’s plot make absolutely no sense or do not add up, making viewers wonder, “what the hell?” or “wait a minute!” These are moments that contradict other events in the film or the logic the setting of the film has already set up. Many of these plot holes would have been overlooked or dismissed by the screenwriters or the director because logic got in the way of telling an entertaining story.
While it is fair to dismiss these plot holes by saying “it’s just a movie,” these plot holes are one of those pet peeves that movie buffs cannot look past, no matter how good the movie is. While the films on this list vary from winning Oscars to “winning” Razzies, regardless of their quality they all have one thing in common: plot holes that ruin the logic of the story that have left audiences scratching their heads.
10. Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984)
Gremlins is one of those still beloved family films from the 1980s from the same ilk as The Goonies and The NeverEnding Story. However, the story falls apart by the three not-so-simple rules of having a Mogwai as a pet.
One of the rules of taking care of a Mogwai is to not feed them after midnight. But the film does not take international time zones into consideration, meaning it is always after midnight somewhere in the world. What if the Mogwai travels to another part of the world, meaning its normal body clock would not be in sync with the local time? What about daylight saving time?
Another rule is that Mogwais cannot get wet, otherwise they will multiply and cause chaos. While this is a justified caution, it would be nearly impossible to uphold. If the Mogwai is outside, it would at some point encounter rain or get wet in some form. Surely its owners would want to wash their pet Mogwai when it starts to smell, right?
Mogwais also cannot be exposed to sunlight, otherwise it will die. Although you could theoretically always keep a Mogwai in a dark room, like how you could keep a goldfish in a fishbowl, it would be hard to do.
9. The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
The Hangover, one of the most popular comedy films of the past decade, is about a group of men who have a reckless bachelor party in Las Vegas, only to lose the groom-to-be, and it spawned two sequels. Many viewers laughed away at the silly shenanigans on screen, perhaps so much so that they have overlooked how improbable the catalyst for the film is.
The aforementioned missing buddy, Doug (Justin Bartha), has been stuck on the roof of the Caesars Palace casino for two days. How did Doug not get noticed by anyone? Surely the security cameras of the casino would have noticed a guest on the roof when he should not be there, and therefore alert the security guards to Doug’s plight.
He does throw a mattress down to get attention, but seemingly just gave up after that, just sitting on the roof for two whole days under the hot Nevada sun. Since the windows to the hotel rooms do not open, a maintenance worker would have had to remove the mattress stuck on the statue, and would have realized something was amiss and have inspected the roof, hence finding Doug. Perhaps, as the title suggests, he was simply too hungover to think of any of this.
8. Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995)
Naturally, a movie about living and talking toys was never going to be the most realistic or logical movie ever made. It is a fantasy movie that children and adults have equally adored since 1995. Viewers of all ages would let themselves be enamored by the fantasy of toys living their very own secret lives when no one was around.
The premise of Toy Story, though, is that the new toy Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) thinks he is a real space ranger and does not believe the other toys when they tell him he is in fact a toy. If Buzz Lightyear thought he was real and not a toy, then why did he also freeze and act lifeless whenever Andy appeared? That seems very convenient.
The toys can definitely interact with humans, as seen when the toys scare the bully next door for torturing and disfiguring toys. So there is absolutely no reason for Buzz to not be himself in front of Andy if he thinks he is real.
7. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012)
The Dark Knight trilogy is almost universally loved by both Batman fans and movie buffs in general. The acting is superb, the action is thrilling, the look and feel of Gotham is as dark as it is beautiful, and they are just so entertaining. Perhaps it had the advantage of following up from Joel Schumacher’s maligned Batman films, so almost any Batman movie made after them would look great. However, The Dark Knight films were spectacular.
However, the last entry in the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, ends on a huge plot hole that kind of ruins the integrity of the overall story arc. Batman (Christian Bale) flies the Batplane and the nuclear bomb Bane (Tom Hardy) sets into the ocean; it explodes, presumed to have killed Batman in the process. If the nuclear bomb could wipe out an entire city and its population, then a man sitting just above it would seemingly have no chance of survival.
Yet somehow, Alfred (Michael Caine) bumps into Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) at a restaurant in Florence. How did Bruce escape? It is to be assumed that Batman ejected himself out of the Batplane before the bomb went off. His escape not being shown on screen would have been to keep the sombre mood of the film, since everyone thinks Batman has died. But it is still very confusing, as he would have been right in the vicinity of the nuclear blast.
Also, Bruce Wayne is a billionaire, therefore the whole world would know who he was simply because of him being known in the media. Could you imagine real life billionaires like Richard Branson or Rupert Murdoch faking a very public death, and then simply walking down the street without raising any eyebrows? Not likely.
6. Battlefield Earth (Roger Christian, 2000)
Many consider Battlefield Earth to be one of the worst films ever made, and there are gaping plot holes that help justify the film’s bad reputation. The film is set in the year 3000, one thousand years after the Psychlos took over Earth. How it has taken a whole millennium for the humans to finally fight back is silly in itself, but how they try to do it presents even bigger plot holes.
The human rebels learn, in just one week, how to fly Harrier jet fighter planes. Not only does it take years to learn how to fly these complex military machines, but how have these planes not rusted over the thousand year period that they were just sitting in the hangar, and how are they still in working order despite the lack of maintenance in a millennium?
Also, keep in mind that one thousand years have passed since the Psychlos took over Earth, when the military was using these Harriers that were so easily defeated. In fact, it is said that it took only nine minutes for the Psychlos to take over Earth! So if Harriers were not enough to fight against the Psychlos for a measly nine minutes a thousand years earlier, then how could these jet fighters possibly compete against Psychlo technology that has advanced by another thousand years?
The humans use the gold they find at Fort Knox to pass off as the gold they have mined in order to use their time to prepare their uprising. If the Psychlos primarily use Earth to mine for gold, then how is it that they have never come across Fort Knox, where the US government keeps its gold bullion? Either the Psychlos are even more arrogant and lazy than they appear to be in the film, or the writing is just plain terrible (it’s the latter reason).
5. Alien 3 (David Fincher, 1992)
Alien 3 has always had a bad reputation for being inferior to its predecessors, the creepy Alien and the explosive Aliens. But overall, Alien 3 is a solid sci-fi thriller, and it would have been a great dark finale to the series had it not continued with Alien: Resurrection. It was director David Fincher’s feature debut film, and was impressive that he was able to helm the sequel of a highly successful film franchise when he had only directed music videos beforehand.
However, there is a gaping plot hole at the very start of the film that spoils it. There is an alien egg that hatches inside the Sulaco that causes all the trouble, and makes most of the crew die during the crash onto the penal colony planet Fiorina 161. But how did the egg get there? There is never any explanation for this. The queen alien in Aliens did get onto the Sulaco, but it was no longer able to lay any eggs due to its egg sac being destroyed, and it certainly could not carry an egg in its claws.
The original cut of Alien 3 made it appear that one Facehugger impregnated both the dog and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), which contradicts how Facehuggers could only impregnate one person before dying. So does that mean there were two eggs on the Sulaco?
To be fair, the Assembly Cut of Alien 3 shows that a superior version of the Facehugger that creates queen aliens was also on board, but the original cut of the film left out this crucial detail that would have cleared up a lot of things. This still does not explain how the alien egg got on board the Sulaco, though.
4. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
Back to the Future is one of the most beloved movies ever made, and rightfully so. It is full of laughs, great characters, adventure, interesting science, and above all, a big heart. What it also has is a huge plot hole.
At the end of the film when Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) goes back to the alternate and better version of 1985, how is it that his parents George (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine (Lea Thompson) have seemingly forgotten about Marty’s alter ego Calvin Klein, who was friends with them back in high school?
It could be argued that since 30 years have passed since they last saw Klein, they simply forgot all about him. But Klein was the person who both got George and Lorraine together, and encouraged George to become the science fiction author that he has become in the new 1985. Despite only having known Klein for such a brief time, they should remember Klein since he made such a significant impact on the direction of their lives.
Aside from all that, how did George and Lorraine not get suspicious when the fashion designer also named Calvin Klein became famous, especially as his name was stitched on his underwear? And most importantly, how their son looks exactly like Klein? Did George ever suspect Lorraine of cheating on him with a boy she had a crush on in high school? Also, why would the McFlys employ Biff to clean their cars, since he both bullied George and sexually harassed Lorraine?
Finally, the Marty McFly we view throughout the movie is from the original version of 1985. But once he arrives in the new 1985, is there another Marty McFly who has been living in this version of his life now? In this regard, perhaps the film should have been called “Back to the Drawing Board”.
3. The Matrix (The Wachowskis, 1999)
There is no question that The Matrix is an awesome sci-fi/action film that just oozes cool. The special effects are amazing and it raises a lot of philosophical questions about our perception of reality. Despite all its technical achievements, coolness, and long and detailed explanations about the world where the film is set, one basic storytelling issue the film did not explain was its major plot hole.
When Neo (Keanu Reeves) is awoken into the real world and joins the resistance aboard their hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar, he is told how the Matrix works, including needing someone on board the ship to monitor those have been plugged into the Matrix to help them get in and out of it.
Of all the important details about The Matrix, this one thing is what causes a huge plot hole in the film. If there needs to be an operator to monitor what the rebels dialed into the Matrix are doing from the Nebuchadnezzar, then how did Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) dial himself into the Matrix to discuss his deal with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) without having help from someone else on board the ship? There is no explanation for this.
Another gaping plot hole that was hilariously addressed in The Nostalgia Critic’s satirical review of The Matrix asks why the Matrix computer simulation was needed at all. Why bother to make the effort to make the humans being plugged into the machine for their energy think they are living in the real world? Why not lobotomize them instead?
2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
Citizen Kane is often called one of the best and most influential films ever made. While it certainly is a great film that has aged well, in no small part due to its terrific sets and cinematography, it has one of the most famous plot holes in cinema history.
The famous line “Rosebud” that Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) utters just before dying and dropping the snow globe is the film’s most iconic scene. All the other characters in the film frantically try to discover who this mysterious Rosebud was that Kane thought enough of to be his final thought.
But no one was in the room to hear him say the word Rosebud, and even if they had been, they would had to have been right next to Kane in order to hear such a softly spoken line. Logically, this means the events of the film could not have happened (although the search for Rosebud was unsuccessful anyway).
It should also be pointed out that Kane’s best friend Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten) is somehow able to tell journalist Jerry Thompson (William Alland) all these detailed recollections of events that happened in Kane’s life that he himself was not present at. It could be argued that he is simply saying what Kane had told him previously, and that the scenes are for the sake of telling the story, but still.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991)
The Terminator films are glorious action blockbusters that have been very popular since the first film wowed the world in 1984 and made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star. While there is no question that Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a great sequel, and arguably the best film in the series, the time travel aspect of the film causes enough plot holes to give viewers who give it too much thought a headache.
John Connor’s (Edward Furlong) age in Terminator 2 causes problems in the overall story arc. Although he acts like a 13-year-old, his character is meant to be 10 years old.
This is confirmed when the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) uses the computer in the police car to find out where John lives, which states his age. It states that John was born on February 28, 1985, and that he is 10 years old, meaning the film is set in 1995, although there is no indication in the film at all that the film is set in the future, so most viewers would naturally assume the film is set in 1991.
To be fair, the John Connor with the teenage attitude is far more interesting than a more realistic childish 10-year-old, but still. This further contradicts a statement the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) makes when he says that Cyberdyne become the largest supplier of military computer systems in three years time. That would occur in 1998, which is after Judgment Day on August 29, 1997.
It is known in the Terminator lore that non-living organisms cannot go through time, hence one of the reasons why Terminators that look like humans can go through, and why both humans and Terminators do not wear any clothes when time traveling. However, as awesome as the T-1000 is, it should not be able to time travel. It has no organic matter at all, as opposed to how the T-800 has human tissue placed on top of its metal skeleton.
Also, how is it possible that the T-1000’s police uniform would not tear when being shot or change when the T-1000 transformed itself to appear as someone else? The police uniform is still clothing, not part of the T-1000 itself. It could be argued that Skynet has simply found a way around the issue of allowing non-organic matter to time travel. But if so, then why does the T-1000 still have no clothes? His nudity is then pointless.
On that note, it is mentioned in the first Terminator film that it was Skynet who created the time machine, and it’s confirmed in the beginning of Terminator: Genisys. So if Skynet created the time machine, how was it not able to design the machine to allow non-organic tissue to travel through the time portal? Perhaps this was a design flaw that Skynet could not overcome, or perhaps they thought it was best to have a human-looking T-800 roam around in 1984 to avoid suspicion and allow it to carry out its mission.
But the biggest contradiction of all in Terminator 2 is that at the end of the film, the arm and microchip of the T-800 from the first film, as well as this film’s T-800 and the T-1000, are destroyed in the molten steel. If Judgment Day had been prevented, then Kyle Reese would never have traveled back in time and gotten Sarah Connor pregnant, hence John should have just vanished out of existence right after the T-800 has melted.
To be fair, this could be the start of an alternate timeline that correlates with the events of the film, and Terminator 3 did prove that Judgment Day did indeed happen at a later date. Time travel movie paradoxes are mind-boggling.
Originally published here at tasteofcinema.com on Tuesday 2 May 2017