Plot holes that will ruin your favorite movies
Have you ever been watching a film and thought — wait, that doesn’t make sense! Sometimes the revelation comes to you after watching the movie a second or third time, but once you notice the error, it’s pretty hard to unsee it. Here are some glaring plot holes found in your favorite films.
WARNING: SPOILERS (obviously).
‘Toy Story’ — What makes Buzz play dead?
The plot of the first Toy Story hinges largely on Buzz Lightyear believing he’s really a space ranger from another planet. So if he really doesn’t know he’s a toy, how come he lays still like all the other toys every time Andy comes around?
You can’t argue that there’s some kind of magic that prevents the toys from moving in the presence of humans either — the toys literally stage a rebellion and scare Sid into hysterics in the movie’s climax.
The ‘Spider-Man/Avengers’ timeline makes no sense
In Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers are able to undo Thanos’ genocidal finger-snap. After five years of being dust, half the universe returns to the realm of the living. This begs the question, did the people that return age five years like the people that stayed living the whole time? Unclear. But here’s an even simpler question that points to a glaring plot hole.
If all of Spidey’s friends were in high school during Endgame, how come they’re still in high school five years later, when Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place? They can’t all have been held back. Jimmy Kimmel asked the cast the question, and only one of them had a response. “It might be one of the biggest plot holes of all time,” Jacob Batalon responded. Yikes.
‘Batman Begins’ — Using a giant microwave emitter would have had some gory consequences
Maybe we shouldn’t be too critical about realism in a story about a billionaire orphan raised by ninja-assassins that beats up a colorful cast of criminals. On second thought, why not?
Ra’s al Ghul’s evil plan employs the use of a microwave emitter designed to “vaporize an enemy’s water supply.” So when the League of Shadows turns the device on, why aren’t all the humans in the area — who are around 70% water — vaporized along with it?
More Batman blunders to come.
‘Ant-Man’ breaks its own rules
In Ant-Man, our eponymous hero’s suit allows him to shrink down to microscopic sizes without changing his mass; this gives him the power to punch other tiny objects with super strength. If this is true — how come he’s able to ride ants? Wouldn’t the mass of a full-grown Paul Rudd squash his insect assistants? There are other problems, too.
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) often shrinks his lab down to carry it like a briefcase. How is he able to lift an entire building? Also, you’d think someone in the city would notice a mysterious building that keeps disappearing and reappearing.
‘The Matrix’ — Who plugs in and unplugs Cypher?
In the first Matrix film, Cypher betrays his crew after meeting with Agent Smith in secret and selling out his friends. Over what seems to be a lovely steak dinner at an imaginary fancy restaurant in the Matrix, Cypher and Smith hash out their evil plan.
There’s just one problem — it’s established in the plot that you need someone to unplug you from the Matrix to escape back into the real world. Since Cypher’s the only one that knows about the meeting, who unplugs him back on the Nebuchadnezzar?
Man, maybe ignorance really is bliss. *Harp strums*
‘Home Alone’ — Kevin can order pizza but his mom can’t reach him
When Kevin’s stuck Home Alone in the first film, the phone lines on his street are down. This prevents his mom from contacting him from Paris (and keeps him from calling the police for help), yet he’s still able to pick up the phone and order a pizza. What gives?
Also, the police don’t seem to care too much about a missing child. After Kevin’s mom calls them, they send one cop to the McCallister residence to knock on the door. When no one answers the door, the officer just gives up! I guess that explains why the two bumbling crooks Marv and Harry have no fear of the cops.
‘Jurassic Park’ and the flying T. Rex
This plot hole occurs during one of the most gripping moments in the movie. The hungry Tyrannosaurus rex stomps after our heroes stranded in the Jeep, knocking one of the cars off the fence to a dizzying drop. But wait a minute …
How did the T. Rex get there? The scene shows the giant predator snap the wires and stomp onto the road — from the same direction the Jeep ends up being flung down a 100-foot drop. Unless she can fly, this scene makes no sense.
‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ — Statistical snafu
In Catching Fire, the Capitol’s President Snow makes a big deal out of the 75th edition of the Hunger Games. To celebrate, the districts will each send two of their previous champions — one male and one female — to compete in the Hunger Games. Uh oh, it’s time to do some math.
Only problem is, according to a crucial piece of dialogue in the first film, “career tributes” from Districts 1 and 2 won the Hunger Games almost every year. If career tributes from those districts won just over 50% of the games (38 career tributes) and we subtract the winners who’ve been identified before, we’re left with barely enough winners (30 winners) to distribute among the remaining 10 districts (three to be exact).
It’s extremely implausible that it would work out so each district could contribute exactly one female and one male winner, especially considering at least a handful of winners would have died of old age by then.
‘X-Men’ — Magneto should give helmets to his henchmen
Magneto doesn’t wear his signature helmet for fashion. He wears it to keep Professor X from being able to get inside his mind. It also keeps the professor from learning Magneto’s location. All well and good, but …
If keeping himself hidden is so important to his plans, shouldn’t he give his henchmen versions of the same helmet? All Professor X would have to do to foil Magneto’s plots is find his right-hand man and send in the X-Men.
‘Cinderella’ and the magical glass slipper
This seems to be a problem with the source material and not the multiple film adaptations. If the spell is broken at midnight, and the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and the horses back into mice, how come Cinderella’s glass slipper doesn’t disappear (or at least turn back into a Croc)?
I know it seems silly to get nitpicky about a story that’s set in a world where animals sing to people and fairy godmothers exist, but fictional universes still have to follow the rules that were created for them.
Also, if the slipper fits her like a glove, why did it come off so easily?
‘Monsters University’ — Mike and Sully meet (again?)
Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters, Inc. In it, Mike and Sully meet for the first time in college, where they’re taught to be experts in scaring. But wait, in the original Monsters, Inc., Mike tells Sully, “You’ve been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade.”
Did they forget meeting before college, only to remember later? Director Dan Scanlon explained the issue.
“You have to do what’s right for both stories in the long run,” he told SlashFilm. “And so we made a tough decision to just have them be in college and put that line aside.” Nice to see someone acknowledge an inconsistency.
‘Gravity’ doesn’t understand gravity that well
The scene in Gravity where Kowalski (Clooney) tells Stone (Bullock) to let go of the rope and let him float off into space (and presumably to his death) is one of the most poignant and tearful parts of the film. Unfortunately, science says it’s also BS.
With no gravity, all it would take is for Stone to simply tug on the the line, and Kowalski would float toward her instead of drifting out into nothingness. As NASA astronauts, shouldn’t they know this?
Coming soon: more Gravity mistakes.
‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’
Whenever time travel is involved in a movie, you’re better off not pulling at threads. Unless, of course, your job asks you to write about plot holes in films — in that case, pull away!
If Harry and Hermione could use the Time-Turner to go back in time to save Buckbeak and Sirius, why not go further back in time and stop Voldemort from doing any number of horrible things?
Even author J.K. Rowling admits that she “went far too light-heartedly into the subject of time travel in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” However, Pottermore provides an explanation not found in the movie or book: Reportedly, five hours is the furthest you can go back in time “without the possibility of serious harm to the traveler or to time itself.” Fair enough, but shouldn’t that be explained in the story?
‘The Hangover’ — Doug would have died
Or at least needed immediate medical attention. Have you ever been to Las Vegas in the summer? The temperature easily reaches triple digits. Imagine being stuck on a rooftop with no shade or water for many hours — you’re gonna have worse than a sunburn.
Combine that with the dubious substances Doug had consumed the night before, and there’s no way you’re making that wedding, let alone a sequel. To be fair, an ending like that would’ve really brought the mood down.
‘The Dark Knight’ — Batman abandons hostages
When the Joker tosses poor Rachel out of the window in front of dozens of rich socialites at Harvey Dent’s campaign fundraiser, Batman leaps out after her, saving her just in the nick of time. Questionable physics aside, we’re left with one burning question …
Is anyone going to go check on what the Joker and his henchmen are doing to those people back upstairs? Even if the Joker decides to abandon his plan to kidnap Harvey Dent, it seems unlikely he’d leave quietly, or that Batman would leave those people up there with a madman.
We’ll be returning to Gotham soon; sorry, Christopher Nolan.
‘The Shawshank Redemption’ escape scene
We hate to do this to one of the greatest films of all time, but there’s a lot wrong here. First, many people have pointed out the way the Raquel Welch poster is left perfectly in place to hide Andy Dufresne’s escape tunnel, and how this seems impossible.
But we’re willing to look past that — maybe after 20 years of digging he had enough practice to be able to hang the poster back up from the inside. OK, but when he hits the sewage pipe, spewing refuse everywhere — how is there pressure in that pipe? There’s literally a gaping hole at the end of it, which Dufresne uses to escape. Also, the amount of noxious gas in that tunnel would be more than enough to suffocate the escapee. People have tried it.
‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ — You again?
When James Bond encounters Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Blofeld is unaware that Bond is Agent 007. Why would he be, you ask? Bond’s a secret agent, after all.
Because they’ve met before, in Thunderball. Granted, that was when James Bond was played by Sean Connery, but that shouldn’t matter in the Bond universe, right?
In a scrapped version of the script, it’s revealed that Bond underwent plastic surgery to disguise himself, but that’s not included in the final cut, leaving a gaping plot hole.
The eagles in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy
This one is pretty simple, and lots of people have pointed it out: Frodo and the fellowship of the ring have to get to Mordor to destroy the ring, which leads them on a perilous journey where many of their friends lose their lives. After succeeding in their mission, Sam and Frodo collapse on Mount Doom and await certain death.
Suddenly, giant eagles appear and taxi the hobbits off to safety. It’s a great, cathartic scene, but it does call into question a pretty glaring plot hole. If the eagles were able to carry the hobbits to safety from Mount Doom, why couldn’t they have taken the hobbits all the way from The Shire to Mount Doom in the beginning?
‘Armageddon’ — Oil drillers vs. astronauts
There’s a lot wrong with this movie — many different scientists have pointed out how drilling a hole into an asteroid wouldn’t be an effective or efficient way to save the planet. But we’ll look past that. This glaring plot hole was hilariously pointed out by none other than Ben Affleck in the Armageddon DVD commentary.
“I asked Michael (Bay) why it was easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it was to train astronauts to become oil drillers and he told me to shut up. So that was the end of that talk … like eight months is not enough time to learn how to drill a hole, but in a week we’re gonna learn how to be astronauts.” There’s really no better way to say it.
‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ — Luke is a fast learner
While Luke gets some valuable training with Yoda, his sister and Han Solo are on a journey to Bespin, a trip that probably takes a day or two. Evidently that’s all the time it takes for Luke to become a skilled enough Jedi to take on his dad by himself (seriously, why didn’t Yoda come with him to help?).
Assuming Luke’s training took at least a few weeks, the timeline is just not plausible, unless you decide to go the Interstellar route, and assume that Dagobah’s different gravitational pull and rotational speed affects time in some way that — ah, sure, why not? My head hurts.
‘Gravity’ — Another science slipup
The plot of Gravity revolves around (no pun intended) two central characters — Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) — as they deal with disaster while orbiting the Earth.
At one point in the film, Kowalski and Stone float to their space station from the Hubble Space Telescope, using jetpacks. Problem is, these two items are in completely different orbits, hundreds of miles from each other. We’ll let astronaut Michael Massimino explain exactly how unrealistic that rescue is: “To have the movie astronauts … zip over to the space station would be like having a pirate tossed overboard in the Caribbean swim to London.”
‘Transformers’ — The Decepticons can hack the military but can’t buy glasses on eBay
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) makes a bad mistake by putting an old pair of glasses on eBay (the glasses happen to be imprinted with the map to the AllSpark), however his mistake pales in comparison to the one made by the evil Decepticons, who are beaten to the glasses by the benevolent Autobots who find Witwicky and the glasses first.
So, if the Decepticons are technologically savvy enough to hack the U.S. military’s entire military network (as we see later), what stopped them from copping the glasses on eBay before the Autobots arrived?
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ — The underground police force
When Bane conquers Gotham, he imprisons almost the entire city’s police force underground. In a few months — enough time for Bruce Wayne’s broken spine to heal completely and for him to escape from his imprisonment in a deep well — Batman returns to Gotham and saves the day.
The point is, those cops have been down there for quite a while. So how come when the GCPD is released from their underground prison, they’re all still in their uniforms, clean-shaven, and look well-fed? Donner, party of 50?
‘E.T.’ — E.T. can fly
This iconic moment in the film, where E.T. and Elliott escape into the woods by flying away, silhouetted against a full moon — and later, when E.T. pulls the same move, this time with Elliott’s friends in tow — leaves us with a puzzling question …
Why didn’t E.T. use this power when his ship first crashed into Earth, and the evil government agents were chasing him? It seems like E.T. could have flown away earlier and saved himself a lot of trouble.
‘Back to the Future’ — George and Lorraine don’t wonder why their son Marty looks just like ‘Calvin Klein’
Even if it had been 30 years since the events that brought George and Lorraine together, you’d think they’d remember the face of the young teen that had such an impact on them and their town as a whole.
But of course they don’t — or if they do remember, Doc told them not to let Marty know they’re aware to avoid further complicating the timeline. But wouldn’t other people in the town (like Biff) remember him, too?
Coming up later: Back to the Future Part II is given similar treatment.
‘Star Wars: Episode III’ & ‘Star Wars: Episode IV’ — Obi-Wan doesn’t hide Luke very well
Anakin’s evil now, so to hide his son from him, Obi-Wan comes up with a pretty questionable plan: He brings Luke back to Anakin’s home planet and leaves him with his family. If that wasn’t bad enough, Obi-Wan doesn’t even bother changing the kid’s last name. Can we even call this a hiding place?
For a guy who seems hell-bent on turning his kids to the dark side in the later films, Darth Vader doesn’t seem particularly concerned with seeking out his son.
‘Skyfall’ — Here’s the bad guy’s computer, let’s plug it into our top-secret network immediately
Silva, the antagonist in Skyfall, is able to hack into MI6 by leaving his computer behind to be collected as evidence. As it becomes apparent their system has been hacked, Q asks, “Can someone tell me how the hell he got into our system?” It’s because you’re really bad at your job, Q.
Anyone that’s worked in cybersecurity will tell you: Before you plug a suspicious item into your system, analyze it in isolation first. We’re supposed to believe that Q — a guy who can turn a boom box into a rocket launcher — didn’t know this? Come on.
‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1’ — The Bride’s arms work fine
Four years is a long time to be in a coma. Long enough for all the muscles in the Bride’s (Uma Thurman) lower half of her body to atrophy. That’s believable, but how come her arms work well enough to overpower two grown men?
A possible explanation is that the brain injury she sustained paralyzed her from the waist down. It’s also possible for someone to regain the use of their legs after a similar kind of trauma — but it would definitely take you longer than 13 hours in the back of Buck’s [truck] trying to “wiggle your big toe” to be able to drive.
‘Back to the Future Part II’ — Marty changes nothing
In Back to the Future Part II, Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer must journey to the future to keep their son out of trouble. It’s a wild ride full of laughs and adventure, but at the end we’re left with a burning question.
How would changing events in the future prevent them from happening? When they return to 1985, events leading up to 2015 will unfold naturally, and odds are the same things will end up taking place.
‘Edward Scissorhands’ and the mysterious ice sculptures
First off, what keeps these beautiful sculptures from melting in the warm suburban climate where the movie is set? Where’s he buying the ice from if the whole town thinks he’s dead? Also, if Edward can’t even put on a shirt, how’s he able to move these things around?
There are a lot of unanswered questions here. Reportedly, Tom Cruise almost landed the role, but he kept asking pragmatic questions about Edward’s anatomy (i.e., how does he go to the bathroom?) — director Tim Burton was unwilling (or maybe unable) to answer them, so Cruise passed on the role. I think we can all agree it was for the best.