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Revisiting the Collective: Famous Plot Holes in Popular Movies and My Attempt to Fix Them


(CS: Plot holes were all the rage in the mid 2010s it appears, or at least, I wrote four different pieces about them for the Collective Publishing. You can read my reposts for one and two here. This one I had a bit more fun with it as I presented the supposed plot hole along with my solution. This was initially posted on March 19, 2014.)

In between commenting on dancing cat videos and getting important news from friend’s Facebook pages, the favourite past time on the internet is uncovering and discussing plot holes in popular movies. (CS: My guess is 'important news' from friends in 2014 meant updates about their life, because I don't think it became the top news source for crazies until a few years after this. Also, plot hole discussion and dancing cats have become 'old news'.) I’m just as a huge fan of plot holes as any other pop culture nerd as I’ve written about them not once but twice. (CS: I already posted the link, man. Get with the program. Is that a thing people still say?) Plot holes don’t necessarily ruin a great work of fiction but rather it can sometimes add to the fun. Many viewers meticulously scan over a motion picture in an attempt to discover a gaping hole that they can then rant about. Often a plot hole isn’t as damaging as some would believe, and a person just needs to have a bit of creativity and imagination to patch things up. (CS: This is right around the time I started realizing plot holes are rarely actual flaws to a movie, but just something you notice more when other aspects of a movie are failing.) Here are some of the more talked about plot holes in famous movies and my attempt to create a bridge to fix them up.

It should be obvious, but the following is filled with spoilers on movies that have been out of cinemas for years (or even decades). (CS: I can't remember if pointing out potential spoilers of years or decades old movies was a request from my editor after several readers got upset with some of my articles that contained them, or if that was something I did on my own, because I just got tired of the SPOILER! comments.) 

Star Wars 

Plot Hole: C-3PO and R2-D2 get off the Empire boarded Rebel ship via an escape pod, but it is instantly detected by a Star Destroyer commander who, after a scan reveals no sign of life, allows the pod to get away. Darth Vader and crew are “tearing the ship apart” in attempt to uncover the stolen Death Star plans, so all officers have been put on high alert. They live in a universe that is filled with droids that you’d think any commander with half a brain would be aware wouldn’t be picked up by life scanners. Yet he just assumes nothing is inside the pod and that definitely the plans couldn’t be on them. (CS: Well, to be fair to the commander, he never outright states that definitely the plans can't be in the pod.) The entire series essentially relies on that commander forgetting about droids and not just blowing up the escape pod just to be safe. 

Solution: Fascist governments have to be a pain in the ass to work for, and they likely pay awful. I’ve worked for big giant soulless corporations before and they can suck the life out of you, but the Empire has the added downside of a boss who can choke you to death with the flick of his fingers if one mistake is made. The poor commander’s heart probably just wasn’t in it, and he was just doing the bare minimum to get by. He also didn’t want to be bothered with the massive paper work he’d have to likely fill out for blowing up a possibly empty escape pod. Big ruthless galaxy ruling governments love their paperwork, and it just isn’t worth the hassle. (CS: Sadly, I don't think we ever see that commander again, so his dislike of paperwork may have led to an offscreen force choking.) 

(CS: Another theory, what if the Empire IT guy is really bad at remembering to back things up, and what was missing was the hard copy of the plans. They couldn't rick blowing up such valuable information. Maybe that is why they never got around to fixing that faulty exhaust port.)

Back to the Future 

Plot Hole: Marty McFly’s adventures in 1955 ended up drastically changing his family’s future. He was now responsible for getting his parent’s together, taught his father to stand up to Biff, and was the inspiration for his father to become a successful science fiction novelist. Yet despite all that, his parents not only seem to have forgotten the mysterious “Calvin Klein” but also don’t notice their youngest son looks exactly like him. 

Solution: He was only in their life for about a week and it was 30 years ago, so he probably isn’t someone that comes up in a lot of discussions. My own high school days were about 20 years ago (CS: Now approaching 30, ugh) and there are many people who played an important part in my life at the time that I now only have a vague recollection of and sketchy visual image. (CS: I barely remember the names of some people I saw every day in high school for 4 years, so I'm more inclined to this not even being a plot hole or my memory is just really horrible.) They didn’t take any photographs of him either, so recalling how he looked is totally reliant on that deceptive memory. Marty’s parents would have seen their own son for almost every single day since his birth and seen him grow from infant to teenager, so it isn’t like he just magically started looking like a guy they vaguely remember from their past. It also is rather unlikely that even if they still thought about “Calvin Klein” that suddenly one day they’d look at their son and think “time machine!” (CS: I addressed this supposed plot hole and several others in Back to the Future for NerdMuch a few years back.)

The Shawshank Redemption 

Plot Hole: Andy Dufresne escapes prison after a few decades of creating a tunnel through his prison wall with a rock hammer. The warden discovers this when he tears down the Raquel Welch poster that was covering up a giant hole. The major question is how did Andy put the poster back up from inside the tunnel? 

Solution: Andy would have only needed to tape the two top corners and then lift up the poster so he could slip inside the tunnel. He’d obviously taped all four all the years he was covering up the hole, but that fateful night he wouldn’t have needed to do such a thing. Now, the argument going around the internet is that there would have been a breeze coming from the tunnel, which would have lifted up the poster and foiled Andy’s plan. Considering the fact he has spent countless years chipping away a giant hole in his cell, it is likely safe to bet the guards weren’t the most observant bunch. (CS: That is the part that always got me. People were annoyed that guards would totally notice a breeze lifting up a poster, but a guy bashing away at a prison wall is something they apparently feel could easily go unnoticed.) Plus the discovery happens the very next morning after his escape, so it isn’t like it needed to be the world’s best poster hanging. 

Signs 

Plot Hole: Evil aliens with a master plan to take over Earth and have the technology to travel a gazillion of miles on a high tech spaceship seemed to have failed to note that over half the planet is covered with water, which is a thing they’re deathly allergic. You’d think they would have done a little research before their take-over attempt. 

Solution: They’ve obviously never encountered water before on any of the other planets they’ve been on. They didn’t know what it was, and they definitely didn’t know they were deathly allergic. As for the problem of not at least making sure the planet was inhabitable for them, it is likely the water looks like a liquid they have on their own planet and they assumed it was the same thing. There is also a very good chance this was a rogue group that went against their government’s order, which is why they were so hasty and ill-prepared. Obviously, humans never ever invade a place without getting their facts right and have all the proper data. (CS: This statement still holds up.)

Ocean’s Eleven 

Plot Hole: This has to be one of the most brought up plot holes among countless movie sites. The big pay-off to the picture’s major heist is crooked crime boss Terry Benedict finally tracking down the bags of stolen money to only open them up to realize they’re full of fliers for hookers and strippers. This distraction then allows Danny Ocean’s crew to sneak the real money out of the vault. The important part is that the bags full of X-Rated fliers were in the vault at one point, but how did they get in there? It is actually a question that even director Steven Soderbergh can’t answer. 

Solution: It is Vegas, and the one thing more common than gambling is magic shows. Ocean’s part-time gig is obviously that of a magician and he pulled the ultimate sleight of hand. Plus Danny forgot to tell everyone that he is great-great-great-great-great nephew of Merlin, so far-fetched tricks are obviously in his blood. (CS: If you want 'because magic' to explain away the plot, then Now You See Me usurped this movie.)

Citizen Kane 

Plot Hole: It is considered by many respected critics to be the greatest movie ever made. It has one plot hole that plagued many fans, because it is the entire driving force of the narrative. Many reporters spend the entire picture trying to uncover the meaning behind Charles Foster Kane’s dying words, “Rosebud.” The big problem is that nobody is in the room to hear it.

Solution: There is one thing that I’ve learned about eccentric millionaires from my years of watching movies and reading novels. It is that they always have maids or butlers who are eavesdropping on their every word and have glasses up against the door to try to uncover secrets. It is the help’s favourite hobby when they aren’t fetching caviar and vacuuming bear skin rugs. There must have been a server nearby to gobble up those words and ready to sell it to the highest bidder. If there wasn’t then clearly a helper was willing to make up those last words since it still pays the same. (CS: This always felt like a 'please hold my hand' type plot criticism, where it would have just dragged down the pacing to explain how people found out.)  

What are some of your favourite plot holes that you’ve been able to find a solution? Let us know in the comments. 

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