I have read many books, seen many television shows and movies, and actually written some stories that contain plot holes. It’s not easy to prevent them. Even some of the most successful authors and movie makers are guilty of falling into plot holes.
Hopefully, though, you can keep them to a minimum. There are various types of plot holes. Some of those are…
- When a character knows something they have no way of knowing.
- Characters taking the hard way out of a problem when an easier solution is at hand.
- An event or action that takes place for convenience sake, rather than staying true to the story.
- A character doing something that is out of character without a good reason.
- Something in a story that just does not make sense, period.
Below I have provided a few examples of movie/tv show plot holes. I am not meaning to be critical. I actually LOVE most, if not all, of these shows. But let’s face it, no one’s perfect, so once in a while, even the top notch writers will make a mistake. It’s also possible there is a good explanation that I missed, so if you have insight, please feel free to share.
SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION: Andy Dufresne is in prison and has been carefully tunneling a hole in his wall over several years and covering it with a poster. He finally makes his escape and the warden comes into his cell and finds the hole behind the poster. How did Andy replace the poster after he went through the hole?
DEXTER: (This one pains me greatly, because Dexter is my favorite show ever, and he’s perfect. But I did notice something that didn’t quite ring true)
In the opening episode of Season 6, Dexter has been apparently stabbed and he is on the phone calling for help. An ambulance arrives and as the EMT’s are administering aide, Dexter jabs M99 into their necks and knocks them out. These two men are bad guys and his intended targets. How did Dexter know these men in particular would be the ones to come?
21 AND OVER: This was a comedy, so the plot hole is okay, but I still thought I would point it out. The movie is about two college guys who take their college friend (Jeff Chang) out for his 21st birthday, even though he has a scary father who has warned them that his son has an important interview that can make or break his future, and scary father is picking his son up the next morning at 7 to take him to the interview. Of course, they go out anyway, and Chang gets so wasted, he passes out. His friends can’t remember where he lives so they spend the entire night trying to get him home before his father arrives the next morning and learns what they did. This goes on for the ENTIRE night, and of course, all kinds of awful, dangerous (and hilarious) things befall them. Although I found the movie very funny, and comedies are allowed to have contrived situations, I couldn’t help but think–all they had to do was fess up to the father. He wasn’t going to kill them. A few minutes of his wrath would have been preferable by far to what they dealt with. But then, if they’d done that, there wouldn’t have been a movie.
HUNGER GAMES: Okay, to me, there were quite a few holes in this movie, but my main problem was the end. I felt it was contrived, just so Katniss and Peeta could both survive, even though in 74 years, the Game was a fight to the death with only ONE winner. Halfway through the Game, the Capital announced there could be two winners if they were from the same District. Then at the end, they changed their minds and ordered that there could only be one winner after all. Katniss had the idea for the two of them to eat poison berries and commit suicide so that the Capital did not have a winner. (I think she was bluffing, but nevertheless) The Capital then decided there could be two winners after all. HOLE: This was contrived so both characters could survive. Now, it’s been explained to me that the Hunger Games MUST have a winner and the Capital did not want to be humiliated or to look weak or whatever by allowing Katniss and Peeta to defy them and kill themselves. However, that doesn’t work for me. They allowed the two to defy them by giving in to Katniss’s threat, so that there could be two winners after all.
TITLE WITHHELD: I reviewed a manuscript for The Wild Rose Press where the hero was insanely worried about the heroine and was at her house to protect her. He received a call from his partner who wanted to see him, so he left her there, defenseless. Of course, the bad guy came and almost killed her. This was a convenience hole, in that the author wanted her alone so the showdown could take place. In order for this to work, the hero needed a DAMN good reason for leaving.
As your writing your story, keep asking ‘How’ ‘Why’ and ‘Why not’, so that you are sure there is a plausible explanation for everything that happens. (Plausible in the realm of your story world. It’s probably not possible that a young girl would travel to a tropical island and learn it’s inhabited by vampires (which is what takes place in my YA Vampire Novella, Liberty Awakened.) However, once you build your world, you must stay true to the world you’ve created.) Also, DO NOT create a situation or have a character act a certain way simply for the convenience of your plot. That is a sure fire way to frustrate a reader.
I must caution you though, when you’re watching a television show or a movie with another person, and you notice these inconsistencies, it’s best to keep them to yourself, if you can. I sometimes find it impossible. Oddly, though, people get irritated when you point them out. Go figure.
What are some movie/tv/book plot holes you’ve noticed? Maybe some you’ve written?