Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Top 10 Biggest Sci-fi Plot Holes

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Posthumous monolith of science fiction Philip K. Dick said that he wrote in that genre because

there wasmore latitude for the expression of truer ideas.”

The focus on exploring ideas that serves as much of the appeal of science fiction means

that, often, writers can get themselves into trouble.

They can litter their stories with all sorts of logical lapses by focusing more on a metaphor

than logical consistency, either in terms of the characters or the aspects of the technology.

Not that this is unique to science fiction at all, but when a storyteller is making up

whole new technologies and worlds, theres a lot more latitude to screw up in ways more

literary fiction doesnt usually have to worry about.

Furthermore, none of these plot holes are in anyway ruinous for their stories.

Its just, wellits sometimes surprising what writers can get away with while the audience

is distracted by the lasers and other wonders of the future.

As always, be ready for spoilers!



Avatar isnt just the most successful science fiction story but the highest grossing film

of all-time (worldwideThe Force Awakens bumped it from the top spot domestically),

to the surprise of many.

In 2009 it was as much the novelty of the gorgeously rendered environments as the story

that drove it to gross $2.7 billion.

The story, about how disabled soldier Jake Sullys consciousness is connected to a

bioengineered alien body to serve as ambassador for humanity to the Navi on Planet Pandora,

seemed practically like an afterthought.

Nowhere is this more obvious that in writer-director James Camerons blatantly slipshod plotting.

During the end of the second act of the movie, the Earth military destroys the main Navi

habitat, the Home Tree.

Pilot Trudy, played by Michelle Rodriguez, decides she doesnt want to take part.

So in dereliction of duty she conspicuously flies away from the bombing.

And yet, she not only isnt promptly arrested for disobeying a direct order in an environment

where bombing a native population is the order of the day, but shes able help Jake Sully

and company escape from the brig with relatively little trouble.

Seems as though few characters would be in a worse position to launch a rescue than conspicuous


Right now theres a lot of uncertainty how interested audiences will be in Camerons

upcoming sequels to his megahit.

Hopefully, hes had enough time to remove holes like these from his follow up scripts.


Blade Runner 2049

Although it failed at the box office during its 2017 theatrical run, the fact it was the

17th bestselling title on home video in 2018 indicated Blade Runner 2049 is gradually developing

its own following.

Serving as one of the most belated sequels in film history, it both attempted to have

firm, direct connections to the 1982 original and go its own way.

These dueling interests unsurprisingly got in each others way a bit.

The biggest hole in the plot concerns the villainous business mogul, Wallace, and his

relationship with the bioengineered clones called Replicants.

In 2049, its explicitly stated that theyve been designed to all be infertile as well

as being outlawed in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack that destroyed all digitally

stored records around the world.

Wallace is of the belief that bringing back replicants is the future of humanitys spread

through the stars, and to that end is both engineering some of his own and on the hunt

for a replicant that supposedly reproduced in defiance of her genetic programming.

But as pointed out, Wallace himself says the inability of replicants to

reproduce was one of the things that allowed people to reassure themselves that replicants

were subhuman.

He also explicitly says that humanitylost its taste for slavery.”

So if he holds those beliefs in his head, keeping replicants with the ability to reproduce

around, as well as the humans that bred with themand their offspringis the exact

opposite of what he would want: destroying anything that could point to the existence

of a fertile replicant if he hopes to sell people on accepting replicant slaves again.

Its the sort of inconsistency thats particularly frustrating in a movie starring

an ostensibly grounded villain.


Star Trek (2009)

JJ Abramss reboot of the Star Trek films was a smash hit, although the series it launched

seems to have stalled in 2016.

Shamelessly emotional nearly to the point of being operatic, it was kinetic and action-packed

enough that audiences didnt have time to question the mechanics of the plot.

However, the villain Neros story made so little sense that it required more effort

not to think about it in the theater seats.

The primary setting for the movie is during the time when James T. Kirk ascends to be

captain of the starship Enterprise.

In the future, it turns out that the planet Romulus is going to be destroyed by a supernova.

Also in the future Spock, another crew member of the Enterprise and essentially Kirks

right-hand man, tries to stop the supernova and fails.

A Romulan from that same future named Nero acquires both a ship and time-traveling ability

and goes back in time to get revenge.

This includes destroying Vulcan (Spocks home planet) and Earth.

What never, ever, for any reason gets addressed in this plot is why Nero doesnt use the

fact he traveled back in time to save Romulus himself if thats his motivation.

With time travel technology he could make numerous attempts to save his planet and offset

Spocks eventual failure.

But no, vengeance for something which hasnt happened and which is no doubt on some level

preventable is only viewed as a reason for him to be a one dimensional villainwhich

unfortunately, at the end of the day, he is.

This goes to show that time travel should be avoided unless absolutely necessary if

a movies story is going to hold up to repeat viewings.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi

If youve been on YouTube for the past year, you probably had some video recommended to

you insisting the storytelling of this hit didnt match real world logic very well.

There were even seemingly erroneous reports that Russian troll farms were used to spread

negative sentiments about it online.

Whatever your feelings about that, theres a particular point that many have used as

the centerpiece of their arguments.

For the dedicated nitpicker, theres very little arguing with it.

At the end of the second act, our heroes are escaping their main vessel, unaware that the

villains in pursuit of them have their escape shuttles dead in their sights instead of being

distracted by the decoy vessel.

Admiral Holdo, in a suicidal last ditch effort, turns the decoy vessel around and sets the

ship to travel at hyperdrive (previous movies in the Star Wars series had portrayed how

carefully ships would pre-program a route to avoid colliding with all sorts of space

hazards) and rammed the villainsflagship with devastating results.

This begs a pretty obvious question: Why in eight Star Wars films was Holdo the first

person to do this?

If it allows such an outsized ship to take out its pursuer, why havent pilots in suicidal

straits rammed the ships of the heros and villains time and again?

Weve been shown numerous pilots willing to give up their lives for the cause (the

movie begins with a scene featuring a pilot doing just that).

It seems as though screenwriter Rian Johnson thought hed found a hole in the canon that

he could cleverly exploit, but what many will do is insist he found a weakness in the design

of the intellectual property that he should never have called attention to.


Star Wars: A New Hope/Return of the Jedi

Before a tag team of Steven Spielberg and James Cameron one-upped this film time and

again, this 1977 smash hit was the most successful in world history.

It made plot mechanics such as the mystical Force and the twist that its villain Darth

Vader is the father of protagonist Luke Skywalker into household reference points.

In Star Wars: A New Hope, Darth Vader takes Princess Leia captive and interrogates her

at length over the hiding place of the main rebel stronghold.

Later, long after Leia and Luke have learned that theyre siblings, Darth Vader uses

the force to learn that his son Luke has a sister so that he can antagonize Luke by threatening

to capture and convert her.

Which opens up a gigantic inconsistency for the first film regarding why Vader wasnt

able to use the Force to discover Leia was his daughter; or, if he was too concerned

about the rebel base to care about that, why he didnt use the Force to learn where the

base was.

By Return of the Jedi Luke is quite attuned to the Force but Leia has no such stated defenses

in the first film.

The only explanation for this is depressingly simple: The Force was largely an afterthought

for George Lucas while writing the film, and he had no consistency in what it could do

while concocting it by the seat of his pants.

Were not going to get on any high horse about what people devote YouTube channels


But anyone who acts as if plot/logic lapses in Disneys new Star Wars films are some

kind of ruinous new occurrence is in for a nasty shock: Plot holes have been prominent

features of the series from its conception.


The Thing

A critical punching bag and box office bomb when it was initially released, this adaptation

of John W. Campbells 1938 Who Goes There? is now one of the most beloved horror-science

fiction works in cinema history.

Its story of a team of American Antarctic researchers stuck in Outpost #31, who have

to deal with an organism that can infect and turn any member of the team into a deadly

monster, is as scary now as it was unpleasant at the time of its release.

Its helped immeasurably by how tightly and believably constructed it is for a movie

about dealing with an alien, except for one big cheat.

The problem with this otherwise tight as a drum story is the need to have a device of

some kind that can handily convince the survey team that theyve conclusively beaten the

the alien.

So, Carpenter wrote that the Antarctic team has flamethrowers.

As critic Scott Ashlin asked, why would a research team have flamethrowers?

If theres some piece of equipment that needs to be thawed in the extreme cold, setting

it on fire is about the worst approach, and the fires a flamethrower shoots are much too

difficult to control in a survival situation.

Fortunately, the scene where the flamethrowers are introduced is so harrowing that the audience

probably wont be stopping to ask many questions.


Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Avatar showed that James Cameron was able to hit pay dirt despite his films having plot

holes, but back in 1984 he practically required it of his work with his groundbreaking variation

on the trendy slasher film model.

A film wherein an artificial intelligence network sends an android assassin back in

time to prevent the existence of a resistance leader while another soldier from the future

tries to stop him?

Thats such a complicated setup that it all but demands paradoxes and inconsistencies

to be woven into the fabric of the film, but this has a pretty clear hole in the basic


In the first film, the reason the T-800, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has organic skin

on him is basic: the time machine doesnt send inorganic, robotic matter through without

a layer of organic material to effectively trick the machine.

But in the 1991 sequel, the artificial intelligence network sends through aliquid metal

robot called T-1000, which is stronger than the T-800 unit and has the ability to shapeshift.

So how can this robot have the vitally important organic layer if its entirely liquid metal?

Its a good thing no one actually mentions that rule in the second film, or audiences

probably would have been asking that from the premiere on.


Time Enough at Last

Stepping away from movies for a moment, lets talk about one of the most influential pieces

of science fiction ever created: The Twilight Zone.

In particular, one of the two most famous and beloved episodes of the original run,

tied only with To Serve Man with itsIts a cookbook!” reveal.

This 1959 episode follows compulsive reader Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) through his

frustrating life, through the destruction of his known world and the rest of humanity,

to the potential sanctum of a library, and then through a hydrogen bomb, and into the

private hell of his glasses shattering just as hes collected all the books he wants

with all the time in the world to read them.

Its one thing to not show the effects of radiation in a TV show shot in 1959, as the

average person barely even understood what radiation was at the time (or you wouldnt

have models getting radioactive compounds applied to their face for makeup tests).

But surely everyone knew how flammable paper is.

So in a bombing powerful enough to kill everyone for untold miles except a man sheltered in

a bank vault, how did a bunch of bookswhich were practically out in the open of a destroyed

librarynot get burned up?


Silent Running

Its hard to imagine a less commercial idea for a movie than an environmentalist and his

robot friends floating through space taking care of a biodome forest.

Alright, so this 1971 sci-fi classic also features a sequence where said environmentalist

Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) saves that forest by killing his three crew mates aboard his

spaceship Valley Forge, but theres well over an hour of running time before that.

While Silent Running is intellectually vigorous and honest in how this story plays out, its

no surprise that today its most significant influence is inspiring the recently rebooted

science fiction comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

A major conflict for the last third of the film is that as the forest in the biodome

begins to die, illustrated by a number of plants wilting and losing their leaves.

After a lot of fretting and impotent rage, Lowell has an epiphany: His forest is dying

because its not getting enough light, as he had to drift away to break off radio contact

with his superiors and claim the ship is grievously damaged.

His solution is to post a bunch of lights throughout the dome, which begs the question

of how an expert in environmental conservation could possibly fail to notice the importance

of light in sustaining a forest for any period of time.

Its a bewildering lapse in environmental logic in a story so passionate about the environment.



This 1984 film is notorious for a contentious production and for its director, David Lynch,

disowning it.

With such popular source material and such striking production design, it couldnt

help but attract a substantial cult following anyway.

Probably didnt hurt that Frank Herbert had some nice words to say about how it was

avisual feast.”

Paul Atreides, the hero of the story, is driven from his home with only his mother Julia at

his side into the horrible deserts of Arrakis when the Harkonnen effectively conquer the


There he trains and equips the Fremen, a race of extremely hardscrabble desert people, with

laser guns (“weirding modules”) that are powered by the human voice.

Theyre instrumental in the final battle when House Atreides reconquers the planet.

The problem is where the hell Paul got these guns.

He and his mother certainly werent carrying them or the raw materials to make them during

their hasty escape!

No one tells Paul how to build one, so even if the Fremen had the resources to make one

he should have no better idea than them.

It might as well be Lynch telling the audienceif you dont get this, the problem isnt

on your end.”

The Description of Top 10 Biggest Sci-fi Plot Holes