Lights, camera…wait, what? We all love a good movie, and sometimes that love is blind. It’s true; even our favorite films have some pretty glaring errors — and more than just the glimmer of a continuity error — I’m talking about full-fledged plot holes!
While I’m calling out some of cinema’s most famous titles for having plot holes, that doesn’t mean you should write these movies off. If anything, consider these lapses a fun quirk that’ll make you appreciate them even more. These gaps in logic are a testament to our enduring love for them. After all, it's not about the plot holes themselves; it's about the conversations and debates they spark, reminding us that, even in the most fantastical tales, a little logic goes a long way.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ (2003)
In the realm of Middle-earth, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” delivered heart-pounding battles, breathtaking landscapes, and, as much as I hate to say it, a pretty gigantic plot hole. Toward the grand finale, the Fellowship finds themselves in need of rescuing as they attempt to destroy the Ring, but thankfully the Great Eagles swoop in to help. The quest would have probably gone a lot smoother if they had hitched a ride on the Great Eagles to Mordor to begin with.
LOTR lore dictates that Gandalf (Ian McKellen) calls on the eagle Gwaihir the Windlord, who owes him a favor. In other words, the Great Eagles don’t take flight requests. While this is a plot hole in the movie, the books have this detail covered — it just ended up on the cutting room floor for the film.
In the '90s sci-fi epic “Armageddon,” the world's fate hinges on a group of oil drillers trained to be astronauts. Why, in the face of impending doom, did NASA choose to train oil drillers to be astronauts instead of training astronauts in certain oil drilling skills?
Even Ben Affleck, who starred in the film, couldn't resist poking fun at this cosmic-sized plot hole. Michael Bay's response to Affleck's question? A blunt, “Shut the f*** up.” Remember this fun fact the next time you watch the movie.
‘Toy Story’ (1995)
In the first installment of the “Toy Story” series, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), the charismatic space ranger toy, believes he's the real deal, not just a child's plaything. While this delusion leads to plenty of laughs and heartwarming moments, it also reveals a glaring plot hole.
If Buzz genuinely thought he was an intergalactic hero, there’s no reason for him to play possum whenever a human entered the room. It’s a point that fans have tried to find a solution to over the years. In the meantime, Buzz may go to infinity and beyond — but not beyond our scrutiny.
‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994)
“The Shawshank Redemption” is one of the most classic stories on redemption, the pursuit of freedom, and escape. It’s also home to one of the most well-known plot holes in film.
While Andy Dufresne's (Tim Robbins) escape was a cinematic masterpiece, the audience is left questioning one important detail: How did he reattach that massive Rita Hayworth poster from inside the tunnel? Don’t get us wrong, I’m rooting for him to get out — I’m just wondering how it’s possible.
‘Back to the Future’ (1985)
In “Back to the Future,” a noticeable plot hole that remains unaddressed is the mathematical discrepancy in the scene where Dr. Brown's (Christopher Lloyd) calculations are off. During the crucial moment when Marty (Michael J. Fox) needs to hit the wire and synchronize with the lightning bolt, the DeLorean stalls. Interestingly, Marty manages to hit the wire on time despite leaving late, suggesting that Doc's math was indeed flawed.
It's a head-scratcher that raises questions about the accuracy of Doc's predictions, but the film isn’t without other quirks, like why Marty’s parents don’t notice how much he looks like “Calvin” and why his dad would hire a guy who assaulted his wife in high school. Much like Doc’s math, maybe it’s best not to question it too much.
‘The Karate Kid’ (1984)
“The Karate Kid” shaped a generation — my mom had a huge crush on Daniel (Ralph Macchio), and my dad frequently quotes Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). Its influence has even continued with a remake in 2010 and a sequel Netflix series titled “Cobra Kai.”
Needless to say, this film is well-loved, but that doesn’t grant it immunity from a major plot hole. In the film’s climactic fight between Daniel and Johnny (William Zabka), Daniel wins the match with an epic head kick, one that was absolutely against tournament rules and should have gotten him disqualified rather than a trophy. Even “Cobra Kai” mentions it in an episode!
‘Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope’ (1977)
“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” was the film that started it all — the film that birthed one of the most impressive franchises and fan bases of our time. Sure, the saga itself has plenty of plot holes and inconsistencies (don’t get me started on “The Rise of Skywalker”), but that doesn’t make it any less influential or respected.
In “A New Hope,” two of the most obvious plot holes revolve around two of our favorite droids, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Why didn't Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) remember the droids, even though he worked with them in the prequels and why didn't C-3PO speak Jawa when he was built on Tatooine?
‘Die Hard’ (1988)
After the FBI is alerted to their presence, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his team cut off the building's power grid to facilitate their plan — but why wouldn’t these well-prepared and heavily armed criminals disable the power themselves from the beginning to give themselves an unlimited time frame and avoid the need for a hostage situation altogether?
‘The Mummy’ (1999)
When Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) assembles his body using stolen body parts from American looters, he gets a pair of eyes from a man wearing glasses, so shouldn’t he be squinting through the rest of the movie?
‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)
The fish tank in the dentist’s office never has a lid on it, so the pelican could have rescued them at any time.
Dr. Gordon's (Cary Elwes) infamous decision to saw off his own foot to reach a cell phone left audiences horrified and bewildered, especially when he could have used the saw to nudge the phone closer.
‘A Quiet Place’ (2018)
If the creatures can’t hear people over the sound of the waterfall, why wouldn’t you move your family closer to the waterfall?
‘Black Panther’ (2018)
After losing a fight to Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) lands in a river and floats downstream until he’s rescued by fishermen…from a vegetarian tribe.
‘Knock at the Cabin’ (2023)
When Andrew (Ben Aldridge) chases Leonard (Dave Bautista) through the house, he can’t decide if Leonard is hiding behind a shower curtain or escaped through a small window. While any M. Night Shyamalan film could earn a spot on this list, posing that a character played by Dave Bautista could fit through a tiny window is as flabbergasting as it is hilarious.