Many of the greatest movies are best enjoyed with a healthy dollop of imagination; we’ll leave the laws of physics at the door to disappear into impossible adventures, and love every minute. But sometimes the biggest blockbusters leave us with more questions than answers – especially when a major plot hole seems to contradict the movie’s entire set-up. Here are 20 huge plot holes from some cinematic classics.
While filming the space disaster film Armageddon, star Ben Affleck already had his doubts about the plot.
On a commentary track for the film, Affleck recalled: “I asked [Michael Bay], ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to train astronauts to drill than to teach drillers how to be astronauts?’ To which he replied, ‘shut the f*** up, Ben’.”
Affleck also joked about how quickly the drillers train to become fully-fledged astronauts.
“One whole week? Now you know how to fly into space?” Affleck noted on the same commentary.
However, these confusing details didn’t stop the movie from performing very well at the box office.
Armageddon became the highest-grossing movie of 1998 globally, and it won Michael Bay the Saturn Award for Best Director.
19. Star Wars
Fans have long enjoyed finding plot holes in the Star Wars franchise, but the largest one is hiding in plain sight.
In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi volunteers to hide the young Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader.
“Hidden, safe, the children must be kept,” Yoda declares, and Obi-Wan agrees: “We must take them somewhere the Sith will not sense their presence.”
Owen Lars is chosen as Luke’s guardian – even though Owen is the step-brother of Darth Vader himself.
So why does Obi-Wan conceal Luke Skywalker with a totally unaltered name, with a closely related family?
What’s more, why on earth does he leave Luke to be raised on Vader’s home planet of Tatooine?
18. The Karate Kid
The first Karate Kid movie is meticulous in reminding us about the rules of the karate tournament.
And one pretty major rule is that you cannot kick an opponent in the face.
Nevertheless, Daniel’s winning move against Johnny happens to be a wince-inducing crane kick to the head.
We can’t hold this rule-breaking against the classic movie, though – surely one of the most beloved films to emerge from the 80s.
Star Ralph Macchio, for one, has nothing but pride over his role in the franchise.
He even named his son, born in 1996, Daniel – after his most famous role to date.
17. Ocean’s Eleven
The Ocean’s Eleven bank heist hinges on a trick where a fortune in paper money is swapped for Las Vegas flyers.
But who carried out the switcheroo? Everyone is seen to be busy at the time of the crime, and there is no moment to spare for the swap.
Director Steven Soderbergh even says on the movie’s commentary that he’s not quite sure how Ocean’s team pulled this off.
But making a logically seamless movie was never Soderbergh’s main priority.
He wanted to “make a movie that has no desire except to give you pleasure from beginning to end, a movie that you just surrender to, without embarrassment and without regret,” he famously said.
With George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts sweeping us along on this adventure, we’re inclined to agree he succeeded.
16. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
The most iconic scene of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial sees the alien hero sailing into the sky on a bicycle.
He can levitate – and yet he was first stranded on Earth as his spaceship fled without him, pursued by government agents.
This means E.T. could have flown himself right up to the departing spaceship, which was not far away at all.
But such a move would’ve cheated us out of a fantastic adventure!
Critics raved about this movie, which became the highest-grossing film of all time for 11 years.
As critic Kathleen Carroll put it, “The marvel of this extraordinary movie is that it captures for even the most jaded grownup that pleasurable state of innocence and awe that only children are fortunate enough to experience.”
If there’s one thing we certain of about Roger Moore’s Bond, it’s that he is clearly a dab hand at makeup.
With five minutes to spare before a bomb detonates in a circus, he transforms into a sad clown with pristine face paint and costume.
He then tries to convince the crowds of the peril and fights his ways through them in full clown garb.
At the last moment, he disarms the bomb with the help of Octopussy, a millionaire smuggler and cult leader.
The 13th James Bond film, Octopussy met with a mixed reception when it came out in 1983.
The more comedic elements, which also saw Bond don a gorilla costume, were an unexpected change for Moore’s character.
In this 2002 sci-fi thriller by M. Night Shyamalan, an alien species invades Earth.
These aliens can only be defeated by water, which scalds them horribly upon the slightest contact.
Our beautiful blue planet certainly seems like an odd choice for these hydrophobic critters.
But what’s more, their aversion to water is inconsistent over the course of the film.
They are seen running through a dewy cornfield with no adverse effects early in the movie.
But this didn’t stop the movie from grossing $408.2 million at the box office.
1973’s Westworld features an amusement park filled with violent robots, to entertain thrill-seeking guests.
But Delos, the company running the park, promises that no visitors can be hurt or killed within the experience.
With explosions, human-on-human fighting and shattered glass everywhere, this guarantee is totally unrealistic.
How Delos wasn’t steeped in lawsuits from day one is anyone’s guess.
When things take a turn for the worse at the park, however, the chief supervisor offers some clues about the park’s mind of its own.
“These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms,” he says of the robots. “In some cases, they’ve been designed by other computers. We don’t know exactly how they work.”
12. The Fly
This hugely popular 1986 classic sees a scientist step into a teleporter alongside a stray housefly – and their DNA is inadvertently mingled.
As Seth Brundle takes on a horrific human-fly hybrid form, we’re still left wondering about all the other foreign DNA in the teleporter.
Scientists estimate that we have around 39 trillion non-human cells living on and inside us.
If the teleporter ‘fuses’ DNA from the different living organisms within, surely poor Brundle would end up part-dust mite and part-bacteria, as well as developing superhuman insect qualities?
However, with its small cast and spectacular effects, this film wowed audiences and has become a sci-fi cornerstone.
Many were shocked that Jeff Goldblum wasn’t nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor that year – reportedly the Oscars held horror movies in lower regard.
11. Indecent Proposal
Towards the end of the movie, Woody Harrelson’s character David Murphy ends up donating $1 million to a charity auction, winning back his wife’s respect.
But Murphy is steeped in solicitor’s fees by this point, and certainly does not have the full $1 million in his account anymore.
His cheque inevitably would bounce, landing him with some serious criminal charges.
We reckon this development would have somewhat spoiled the film’s touching ending.
There are a few seemingly simple rules when it comes to caring for the Mogwai, according to the 1984 movie Gremlins.
You must never expose them to sunlight or water, and most importantly, you must never feed them after midnight.
But with 24 time zones around the world, how can this midnight deadline possibly work?
And navigating daylight saving hours must be a nightmare for any Mogwai owner.
Many animals rely on an internal clock – or circadian rhythms – to judge when to sleep, eat and hunt.
So we’d recommend you just steer far away from any night-time snacks when it comes to these unpredictable pets.
One of the most mocked scenes of 1978’s Superman occurs when our hero, devastated by the death of Lois Lane, turns back time.
He races around the Earth to reverse its orbit, somehow altering the course of events on our planet.
Physics aside, we have more pressing concerns about Superman’s newly found power.
Lois Lane is killed by the effects of a missile that causes mass destruction. And when Superman turns back time, we see the destruction reversed.
But Superman never intercepts the missile either, leaving viewers questioning why the same course of events didn’t play out again.
However, to quote Lex Luthor, “We all have our little faults. Mine’s in California.”
Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Gravity was no mean feat to create.
Its special effects took three years to build, and they appear in 80% of the entire movie, which sees our heroes drift into a space disaster.
However, experts disagree on whether Lieutenant Matt Kowalski’s ultimate self-sacrifice was at all necessary.
Matt unclips himself on a space walk and drifts away to his death, in order to save Dr. Ryan Stone.
Among others, Neil deGrasse Tyson has noted that because of momentum in space, Ryan could save Matt with the gentlest tug on their connecting ropes.
However, this sci-fi Rose-and-Jack scandal has been defended by the movie’s scientific advisor Kevin Grazier, who argued back that the pairs’ deceleration would make this manoeuvre impossible.
7. The Hangover
From a tiger in a bathtub to a chapel full of gangsters, The Hangover is hardly meant to be taken seriously.
But given this movie’s location and central conundrum, we can’t help but point out one major plot hole.
The unfortunate groom-to-be Doug goes missing at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and is eventually discovered on the roof.
If his days-long survival without food or water in the blazing desert heat isn’t surprising enough, Doug is also on top of a casino.
Considering that casinos are absolutely crammed full of CCTV, it’s impossible he went undiscovered for days.
This movie was mostly filmed on location at Caesars Palace, where visitors reportedly like to quote The Hangover to staff to this day.
Aside from Ocean’s Eleven, another classic movie directed by Steven Soderbergh suffers from a major plot hole.
In 2011’s Contagion, Beth Emhoff, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, passes away from a mysterious virus.
As this first case escalates to a full pandemic, we are surprised that medics missed one very valuable detail.
The husband of Patient Zero appears to be completely immune to the disease that killed his spouse.
Why aren’t medical staff rushing to run some tests on him, to detect the source of his immunity and pursue a cure?
In fact, we never learn the secret behind the immunity of Beth’s husband Mitch, played by Matt Damon.
5. Freddy vs. Jason
This slasher romp from 2003 is a crossover between two franchises: Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
At one point in the movie, it seems the title is about to be answered when Freddy plunges Jason into Camp Crystal Lake.
The film reveals that Jason has a phobia of water, due to his death from drowning back in 1957.
However, in earlier films in the Friday the 13th franchise, Jason absolutely takes to water like a fish.
In Friday the 13th: The New Blood, Jason drowns Sandra Casey in a lake.
And Friday the 13th: Jason Lives also sees the antagonist attack from underwater.
4. Batman Begins
In the first film of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Scarecrow plots to unleash a madness-inducing toxin on Gotham’s residents.
He releases it into the unsuspecting city’s water supply, intending to later vaporize the entire area’s water resources.
The toxin lies inactive as long as the water containing it isn’t turned to steam.
But Scarecrow has failed to account for all the regular uses of water that would trigger such an event.
For example, anytime a city resident boils a kettle or runs a hot bath, presumably they would get a whiff of the dangerous chemicals.
We are disappointed that no hysteria-struck tea lovers featured in this movie.
3. The Stepford Wives
A 2004 remake of the 1975 movie of the same name, The Stepford Wives made several major changes to the original tale.
The 2004 version was more of a black comedy than a psychological thriller.
Most importantly, the eerie wives of Stepford are revealed to be humans controlled by brain implants.
This stands in contrast to the original, in which the wives are fully robotic replicas of real women.
Yet the 2004 version at times shows the wives, confusingly, to have robotic abilities – despite being fully human.
They are impervious to flame, and one of them can dispense dollar bills from her mouth like an ATM.
2. The Hunger Games
In the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second instalment of this blockbuster franchise, Katniss Everdeen destroys the Hunger Games arena in the middle of the Games.
This event is heralded as the first time the Hunger Games does not have a single Victor.
Instead, the lucky survivors escape with the help of District 13.
But the Hunger Games are notoriously indiscriminate in their violence, unleashing mass destruction on players.
It beggars belief that, in all of 75 Games, there has never been an event that killed everyone and left no survivors.
Perhaps this phenomenon will be further explained in the upcoming spin-off, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
As many fans have noticed, there’s something particularly odd about the behaviour of mischievous twins Fred and George in this movie.
They give Harry their treasured Marauder’s Map, which can see through any enchantment or invisibility cloak to name and locate every resident of Hogwarts.
Yet despite owning the Map for years, the twins never noticed a disturbing presence in the Gryffindor common room.
Ron’s pet rat Scabbers, as we discover in this movie, is in fact the infamous Peter Pettigrew in disguise.
It’s possible that Fred and George barely paid attention to their prized possession.
But we find it intriguing that they never made note of Peter Pettigrew sharing a bed every night at Hogwarts with their brother George.