Movies are a form of art, and thus sometimes a few errors or oversights slip through the cracks. When these errors impact the outcome or logic of a story they are known as plot holes and eagle eyed fans love to point them out when given the chance to challenge the cohesiveness or realism of films from some of cinema’s worst to its very best. However not all of these plot holes are really plot holes at all when you take a closer look. I did just that, creating a list of ten supposed plot holes that are actually resolved in the films where they take place.
For this list I took a look at some of cinema’s most popular film plot holes and picked ten that I thought were most interesting that were actually resolved with a little outside-the-box thinking while watching their respective movies. Admittedly some of these require a bit more thinking from the audience where they could have been easily debunked in their films outright, but what’s art without a little bit of viewer interpretation right? Let me know if I missed any of your favorite plot holes that aren’t actually plot holes in the comments below. Also, as usual, SPOILER ALERT!
10. Batman’s Return to Gotham, “The Dark Knight Rises”
“The Dark Knight Rises” may not be the best film in “The Dark Knight” trilogy, but it’s certainly a great film in its own right. Some have faltered the film for numerous plot holes, but one of the most glaring is Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham, with bat suit in hand, after his escape from the pit. While few extensive theories have been presented about how he got back to the mainland from the pit, we do know how he got back into the heavily guarded Gotham City. The previous two films had established that Bruce Wayne’s mansion is not in Gotham. It’s outside the city, and thus he could access it and all his weapons easily before making his way to the city for his final fight against Bane. We also know that he had secret tunnels to access Gotham whenever he needed to. Thus, Bruce had his own ways into the city he kept secret and were likely unguarded making him very much able to enter Gotham at his leisure and bring along his equipment to put an end to Bane’s evil schemes. Some may ask why Bane or Miranda Tate would overlook this seeing as Miranda actually went into Wayne Manor, but it’s important to remember Miranda didn’t see the bat cave, which could have been her intention when wooing Bruce Wayne. That may have been her attempt to not only win his trust, but explore any secret entryways into the city, which didn’t happen because she didn’t get Bruce to trust her enough to tell his superhero secrets. With both Tate and Bane knowing the relative impossibility of Bruce escaping the Pit, they could have easily had the ego to just leave it alone and continue their tirade against Gotham hoping their bombs would catch any hidden passages Bruce left behind.
9. Harry the Horcrux, “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets”
Some plot holes happen in hindsight, thus is the risk you take when creating an extended cinematic universe with multiple directors and writers. Those who read the “Harry Potter” books or watched the eight films are aware that Harry Potter himself was a horcrux, one of several magical “items” endowed with a piece of villainous Voldemort’s soul. This is not revealed until the final movie. The only way to kill the evil wizard is to destroy these items and while we see Harry sacrifice himself (and subsequently return to life) in the final installment many cried foul as they believed he should have been dead much earlier. In the second installment, “The Chamber of Secrets” Harry faces off against the deadly giant snake, the basilisk. We find out later in the series that the fang of the basilisk contains a venom that can destroy horcruxes and in fact that fang is used to destroy one of the first, Tom Riddle’s diary, in “The Chamber of Secrets” after Harry kills the snake, but in that same battle Harry himself gets bitten my the basilisk, so as a horcrux he should have been destroyed right? Wrong! Many fans, and even J.K. Rowling herself, deduced that a horcrux had to be “destroyed beyond repair” and it’s pretty hard to fix a gapping hole in a diary. Following his bite Harry was healed by the tears of the phoenix, Fawkes, thus he was not destroyed beyond repair and lived on to die again another day. This actually leaves a very different plot hole as Harry came back to life after being “killed” by Voldemort and thus was not destroyed beyond repair there either, but there are other solutions to that mystery I’ll let you figure out for yourselves. I’ve only got space for one Potter plot hole here.
8. The Duel Time Machines, “Back To The Future Part III”
The “Back To The Future” trilogy is one of my personal favorites and has its fare share of paradoxes and plot holes. For this list I’m focusing on one that is among my favorites, and it’s one I figured out myself before I saw the solution online so this entry is a bit of personal fanfare. Anyways in the third chapter of the trilogy Marty learns that the 1985 Doc Brown, who at the end of the previous film was literally shocked into the wild west, buried the DeLorean in the mines. After digging it up Marty decides to go back in time to save the Doc after learning he dies at the hands of Mad Dog Tannon. When he makes the trip back the DeLorean suffers damage to its fuel line from a stray arrow from a band of Indians, leaving the Doc and Marty no choice but to use a train to push that same DeLorean to 88 mph to get Marty back home. But the second DeLorean, the one buried in the mines, is still there. Why not use that one? Well that doesn’t solve their problem does it? We already know the Doc is very careful to avoid paradoxes in time and we’ve seen the impact of such things in the first tow films, both good and bad. To avoid another potential paradox the Doc had to leave the time machine he buried in place to make sure Marty could have it intact to travel to 1885 in the first place. So why not replace the fuel lines with the working ones from the other DeLorean? Well again the Doc probably wanted the leave the first one completely untouched to allow everything to happen as it was meant to, but all the same it’s possible it would have been difficult to shimmy a new fuel line using older car parts to work properly on a DeLorean in 1955. So why not siphon the gas from the other DeLorean? Well we still don’t have a working fuel line remember. You really have to stretch your perspective to make this one work, but the fact is this: The Doc didn’t want to use parts from the DeLorean he hid to make sure that everything went as planned along the timeline. As we learned throughout the series, as loose at the rules were, changing one little detail can change everything. It was bad enough Marty was in 1885 to begin with. This could have all been explained in the movie but was probably left out as an oversight or due to time constraints.
7. Forgetting the Journal, “The Watchmen”
One of my personal favorite comic book based films is “The Watchmen” and while I’m in a minority there even I found something fishy about the film’s concluding scene. After Ozymandias presents his plan to his fellow Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan kills the fan favorite Rorschach before he can reveal to the world that the destruction they believe Manhattan caused was actually due to good old Ozy trying to unite the world against a common enemy. The all-seeing Manhattan, who we know can see the future, finds this plan to be an effective solution to the warring nations of the world, but if he went through all the effort of dispatching Rorschach why leave his journal, which was dumped in a newspaper company’s mailbox with all the details of Ozy’s evil deeds, untouched? That’s because Manhattan is smarter than us and he knows it. Rorschach was always seen as something of an extremist and lunatic in the public eye, but as a living person and devoted vigilante could probably do more harm than his written word if he himself were to remain alive. If anything Manhattan realized that the word of a known extremist superhero would amount to nothing without the actual man to back it up. As long as the world feared Manhattan peace would remain and Manhattan knew the journal wouldn’t change that. Not to mention the guy can see the future, which means he probably saw that it was Rorschach himself that could make the difference, not his journal, which is implied by how Manhattan looks pained to have to kill his friend, but seems to understand it was an inevitability to ensure the future he foresaw. While the ending implies that Rorschach would still get his way, Manhattan knows more than anyone he will not.
6. T-Rex Ex Machina, “Jurassic Park”
“Jurassic Park” was a masterpiece of a movie, featuring great CGI and an engaging story as genetically engineered dinosaurs took control of a soon-to-be opened theme park. The final act sees the main characters escaping the clutches of a few raptors and getting cornered before, out of seemingly nowhere, the film’s big star, the t-rex, shows up and saves the day. So how did the T-Rex get into the main lobby of Jurassic Park without crashing through the building? The answer was discovered by an eagle-eyed viewer who noticed that there is a large opening of unconstructed space where the t-rex could have come through. While it doesn’t explain how the t-rex did so without really making a sound, it would explain how the rex was able to get in the building seamlessly and take out her pray. Considering that the park was still very much a work in progress by this point, with owner John Hammond admitting that parts of the park where unfinished, the building itself was probably unfinished and thus we get a solution to one of the film’s many questions, but probably its most annoying one for fans wondering how the hell that massive dinosaur burst into the finale. Heck we even see a raptor come in from that space and that same raptor happens to be the rex’s first meal as she comes in from that same exact spot. You can see the massive opening for yourself clearly upon a rewatch. Notice the raptor that comes out from behind the clear plastic sheeting. There’s the opening and you can see it’s plenty big enough for the rex to fit. She probably noticed the raptor heading into the building and saw a ready meal to chomp on.
5. Who Heard “Rosebud”?, “Citizen Kane”
One of the earliest plot holes in film, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” is often regarded as one of, if not the best film of all time…but one detail still confuses many. Who heard Charles Foster Kane’s last word “Rosebud”? It doesn’t appear anyone is in the room to hear the word when he dies, yet the media is all over it trying to figure out what it means. Well the movie actually answers that. We hear in an interview that Kane’s butler was with him when he died. Many assume this means he was the first to find Kane’s body, but really Kane’s butler was in the room, unseen by the camera, and heard the final word, relaying it to reporters and others later when asked about their bosses passing. Some remain unconvinced that this is really a solution to this plot hole, but even then another theory says that the butler or another employee was walking past Kane’s room and overheard his loud final whisper through a crack in the door before entering to see if their boss was alright. Either way there are plenty of potential solutions to this plot hole which has been a frustrating aspect of one of cinema’s greatest works for years.
4. The Alien Virus, “Independence Day”
“Independence Day” was a groundbreaking sci-fi adventure that saw an epic finale where Jeff Goldblum’s character uses a Mac Powerbook to install a virus into the alien mother ship, destroying the ship and every other small vessel attacking earth. Many fans have cried foul on this as an oversight in logic considering that these aliens should be way beyond human technology right? How would that be possible? What are the chances that aliens used the same technology as earth? That’s bogus right? PLOT HOLE!!!!…or not. It’s actually the other way around. Many fans put the focus on earth using alien technology, but they see it the wrong way. We learn earlier in the movie that much of earth’s technology was inspired by technology the aliens used, especially after finding a crashed ship in Roswell. That technology was adapted to the computers the characters used in that present day, including Mac Powerbooks, so the virus used not only impacted human technology, but the alien technology that inspired it too. I doubt the aliens were prepared with a firewall for that attack, especially if they had never encountered the virus before which, whether it’s a computer virus or a viral biological infection, it always takes the first hit to spark the need for a cure. While it may seem ridiculous in concept, the solution here was explained right in the film as implied knowledge for the viewer to embrace.
3. The Welch Poster, “The Shawshank Redemption”
One of the most glaring plot holes that people love to bring up is seen in the climactic escape in “The Shawshank Redemption when it’s discovered that escapee Andy Dufresne had been digging a hole covered by a Raquel Welch poster for some time. The warden discovers the hole after throwing a rock through the poster, which appears to be well secured. So how did Andy secure the poster over the escape hole from the other side? Well he probably didn’t. It’s as simple as that. You can see the poster itself is pretty stiff and large enough to cover the whole generously. It was secured from the top and simply sat over the hole and when the Warden through the rock through it the poster was heavy enough on its own to stay put. Don’t like that theory? Well another one say that Andy didn’t secure all four corners of the poster, securing only the top two corners and one of the bottom corners, keeping it still enough in place to take the hit by the rock and allowing Andy to sneak behind it from a single corner to enter the hole. Some cry foul on this theory as well due to the poster’s mint condition upon being viewed and the fact that Andy would have probably ripped it climbing behind one side. Well a third theory says he secured the top two corners and then a single bottom corner AFTER climbing in the hole which is humanly possible given enough common sense. The poster simply needed to be secure enough to cover the hole without revealing it. I think the bigger plot hole in this film is how Andy managed to dig such a hole without anyone noticing what was going on for as long as the job must’ve taken him.
2. The Eagles, the “Lord of the Rings” trology
One of the most famous plot holes in movie history is actually not a plot hole at all. Many look at the entirety of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and ask why the Fellowship of the Ring didn’t take the massive eagles right to their destination of Mordor and the answer is simple. They didn’t want to be seen! It was already established that Sauron had eyes and ears everywhere. He was searching or the ring and anyone who could know where it is and the eagles flying through the air straight towards the heavily guarded city of Mordor would have been quite obvious. The fellowship took to traveling on foot to stay hidden and inconspicuous. Notice how the eagles didn’t even show up to help in the final battle until Sauron was defeated himself. The eagles themselves may not have wanted to go near Mordor knowing how dangerous a situation it was while Sauron was still around. Some call it a plot hole, but this supposed overlooked detail was actually consistent with the film the whole time due to the stealthy nature of the mission and the fact that the eagles would probably have been no match for Sauron’s forces on their own. Or you could take a page out of “Family Guy” and just admit the story was about the quest more than the destination anyway.
1. The “Titanic” Door
To this day still one of the most debated supposed plot holes and it is probably the one plot hole on this list that solved itself before it was ever an issue, which is why it’s here at #1. This often criticized plot hole more than any other one on this countdown never should have been debated. The solution was presented right there in the film for any casual viewer to understand. Many fans have screamed at their television screens watching Jack refuse to get on the door with Rose as he floated, dying in the ocean. There’s plenty of room for both of them right? Mythbusters even said so….Well hold on there. They tried that remember? Sure there might have been enough room, but in the heat of the moment, in the freezing cold without a right state of mind, Jack wanting the love of his life to survive, he wasn’t going to keep trying something that almost sent them both in the water the first time. If it failed a second time and they both ended up in the water if the door flipped due to his own weight trying to climb on it would have been a struggle to get Rose back on the door again as their strength was dwindling as it was. This is also why they couldn’t take turns because Jack wanted to Rose to survive and he was stronger then her, established by his previous experience in cold water that he touted earlier in the film before he saved her from suicide in what turned out to be quite the exposition-laden exchange predicting future events. This supposed plot hole was disproven by expert character development and they actually tried to do what everyone wanted them to do. Sure they could have both fit, but when you break down the realistic details of the situation and how human nature works, this was an inevitable conclusion that brought a premature, but fitting end to one of modern cinema’s most beloved on-screen couples.