| by Kenneth Chase | 16 comments

When Do Star Wars Plot Holes Matter?

The most famous line from one of cinema’s
most revered films is probably a plot hole. (Kane)
“Rosebud.” (narrator)
In the opening sequence of Orson Welles’
1941 classic, Citizen Kane, we see the final moments of Charles Foster Kane. With his last breath, Kane whispers his cryptic
final word launching a probe into the man and his past. Who or what is Rosebud? Was it a former lover? A riddle? Why was Rosebud on his mind moments before
his death? All these questions provide the basis for
the greatest character study in film history. There’s only one problem. Who was even in the room to hear Kane say
Rosebud? (music playing) There’s a
lively debate on whether Rosebud is actually a plot hole or not. It’s hard to claim that the nurse
who handles Kane’s corpse heard the whisper through a closed door in the other room. Later in the film, Kane’s butler claims
to have heard “Rosebud,” (Kane’s Butler)
“He just said Rosebud.” (narrator)
but if we are to believe that, why wouldn’t we see the
butler in the room? Also, are we supposed to accept that the butler
just hung out in the corner of a room, letting Kane die? (Kane’s Butler)
“He said all kinds of things that didn’t mean anything.” (Reporter)
“Sentimental fellow aren’t you?” (Kane’s Butler)
“Hmm…” (narrator)
On top of this, there’s an apocryphal claim
that when an interviewer asked Welles about this plot hole, he urged the question not
be brought up again. Who knows if it’s a plot hole? And even better question–who cares? Even if it was an accident, this doesn’t
take anything away from the film. If a viewer’s major takeaway from Citizen
Kane, a movie packed with some of the best examples of filmmaking, is gripes with a plothole,
they are probably missing the point. But Kane and the “Rosebud” incident do
bring up an important question concerning plot holes: when do they matter and why? To understand this more, let’s take a look
at the Star Wars saga, a movie series rife with plot holes. What’s most interesting about the plot holes
in Star Wars is how audiences respond so differently to them. How could a small inconsistency become a major
problem for a viewer, while a serious breach in logic and plot structure goes by unnoticed? Let’s first take a look at an example of
plot failure in each episode of Star Wars. Then we can determine why some affect us more
than others. (“Star Wars Opening Theme” playing) The invasion of Naboo presents some problems. (Jar Jar Binks yells) First off, if Sidious orders the viceroy to (Darth Sidious)
“Wipe out, all of them.” (narrator)
during the film’s major battle, why do the droids later take prisoners? (Padme)
“Put down your weapons, they win this round.” (narrator)
There’s another Naboo plot hole made infamous
by the biggest fan of the prequels, Mr. Plinkett, in his 2009 review of The Phantom Menace. (Mr. Plinkett)
“Why not land right outside the city, or in the city.” Why would the trade federation begin their
invasion from the hemisphere opposite the capital. This strategy seems, at best, far from optimal. (music playing, blasters firing) During the battle on Geonosis, the ship carrying
Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme is blasted by an enemy, rocking Padme off the spacecraft. (Anakin)
“Padme!” (narrator)
When a clone later finds her lying on the
ground, she orders him to take her to the hanger where Anakin and Obi-Wan are dueling
Count Dooku. There is no explainable reason why she would
know where those three ended up. (music playing) In one of the larger plot holes of the saga
in its entirety, Obi-Wan and Yoda decide to place Luke in the foster care of his Uncle
and Aunt on Tatooine. If the goal was to hide the whereabouts of
Anakin Skywalker’s son, why would they put the boy on Anakin’s home planet, and keep his name Skywalker. There’s always the possibility that Anakin
didn’t have the heart to seek out his son, but the Emperor? (music playing, blasters firing) Under siege by Darth Vader and the Empire,
Princess Leia sends C3P0 and R2D2 away in an escape pod to the nearest planet, Tatooine. When spotted by the Empire’s forces, the
commander orders his squad to… (Commander)
“Hold your fire. There’s no life forms” In a galaxy filled with battle and spy droids,
why would the Empire only care about life forms? And if they spared the pod because they were
trying to cut costs for their laser batteries, they didn’t seem all that concerned with
economy moments earlier when they began their attack. (Darth Vader breathing, Chewbacca yells) During Han and Leia’s mixup on Cloud City,
Luke is under the tutelage of Master Yoda on Dagobah. Unless Luke’s master course in Jedi-ism
only lasted a few days, it makes no sense that he would later meet up with the team
back on Cloud City. (Princess Leia)
“Luke, don’t! It’s a trap!” Either time has stretched or Luke goes on
a massive training regime, confronts his darkest fears, and explores the depths of the Force
in light speed. (music playing, Darth Vader breathing) The Emperor is one of the smartest people
in the galaxy, but why does he sign off on a second Death Star with a design flaw? Maybe it’s hubris. Still, that’s transparently a bad idea. But it’s not just the Emperor with a stupid
plan. Luke’s plan to rescue Han at the beginning
of the film makes no sense at all. (Luke)
“I present you with a gift. These two droids.” (Threepio)
“What did he say!?” (narrator)
Even after you give him points for having
the Force on his side, it still makes no sense why he would take so much unnecessary risk. And what about Leia’s attempt to rescue
Han? (Jabba The Hut laughing) (Han)
“I know that laugh.” (narrator)
Even if she would’ve succeeded, Jabba would
still be alive to send more bounty hunters after Han, he’d still have the droids, and
Chewie would be doomed. Oh, and if these weren’t enough, the entire
film relies on a race of human-eating teddy bears outmaneuvering the Empire’s finest
troops. (music playing, Rey panting) Starkiller base makes about as much sense
as a second Death Star, but even worse, how did the First Order even construct such a
massive weapon secretly. (Han)
“So, it’s big.” (narrator)
The Republic has a horrible intelligence unit. Speaking of intelligence, Maz Kanata is supposed
to be a shrewd, perceptive pirate queen, (Maz)
“If you live long enough, you see the same eyes in different people.” (narrator)
yet she hides her most valuable possessions in
an open basement and she doesn’t notice the two spies hiding out in her castle. In a seemingly fatal crash on Jakku, Finn
survives and notices that Poe has disappeared. It’s assumed he is dead, but later in the
film, Poe pops up relatively unannounced with close to no explanation on how he got there. Kylo leaves Rey, the most valuable prisoner
in the galaxy, under the guard of just one single stormtrooper, the universe’s most
inept infantry unit. (Stormtrooper)
“…and I’ll drop my weapon” (narrator)
You get the point. Plot holes run rampant in the galaxy far,
far away. But why do only some register, while others
are ignored or completely forgotten? For instance, many of the fans who grew up
on the original trilogy often cite the plot inconsistencies of the prequel films as a
major deterrent from enjoying the first three movies While some who grew up on the prequel trilogy
often pinpoint the plot flaws in The Force Awakens as a barrier to their appreciation. All the while almost no one mentions the plot
puzzles in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, despite those two films having some
of the most egregious examples of porous plot points in the entire saga. The most likely explanation is that plot holes
are only a concern when the audience has other underlying problems with a film. If you’re having to think about how a plot
hole could be possible, the movie is failing. You rarely notice a plot hole if a film is
working. And if you do, you are quick to dismiss it. You realize how unimportant it is. For instance, if the Mexican standoff finale
of Reservoir Dogs engrossed a viewer, he or she is not likely to notice no one is aiming
a gun at nice guy Eddie and that when the guns fire, there’s no reason for him to
die. Likewise, rarely does anyone watch Toy Story
and have the experience suffer from the film’s internal logic falling apart when Buzz Lightyear,
a toy convinced he is real, (Woody)
“You actually think you’re ‘the’ Buzz Lightyear?” (narrator)
still behaves as a toy when a human enters a room. Plot holes rarely take you out of the movie
unless something else isn’t working. If you can get over the confounding and nonsensical
life cycle of the alien in Prometheus, you probably didn’t have a problem with the
film’s empty symbolism, forced situations, flat characters, and complete lack of self-awareness. This is to say, arguing that a film falls
apart because of its plot holes almost always amounts to putting the cart before the horse. This is one of the interesting aspects of
Star Wars. Despite plot holes spread evenly throughout
all the films, audiences often obsess over some while completely ignoring others. A viewer who disapproves of one instance of
head-scratching plot points and not another probably has greater issues with the filmmaking
style or characters. If not, then plot holes are an odd thing to
ruin a film for someone. Maybe the eagles could have flown Frodo and
Sam right up to Mount Doom, avoiding all the rigmarole of the Lord of the Rings films. But knowing that shouldn’t detract a viewer
from appreciating the master blend of image and sound that make up the trilogy. And with Star Wars, gripes with plot make
even less sense than with other films. At the end of the day, Star Wars is a mythology
and mythology is riddled with plot holes. It necessarily follows that Star Wars would
share in the tradition’s inconsistencies. And so, to take things full circle, the next
time you watch Citizen Kane, you can save your energy appreciating the film’s psychological
insight, groundbreaking editing, and mind blowing cinematography. And if after the movie you’re left with
a question, hopefully it isn’t “Who heard Rosebud?” but instead, “Who cares?” (music playing)


Audial Architect

May 5, 2017, 3:02 pm Reply

About the TPM plot hole, If you look at the Trade Federation Transporters, you can see that they're landing all over the Planet and that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan just happened to get on two Transporters that flew to the other side of the Planet. This is also why the Federation got to Theed before the Jedi despite the Jedi going through the Planet and the Federation going around it.


May 5, 2017, 7:19 pm Reply

What people think are plot holes, especially in the prequels, aren't really plot holes.

Danielle Rush

Jun 6, 2017, 8:34 pm Reply

There are plot holes in all eight STAR WARS films. Only the bashers like to pretend that most of them are in the Prequel Trilogy.

Jeffrey Savage

Sep 9, 2017, 8:11 pm Reply

I. Your complaint in TPM is that the droids don't "wipe them all out" but take prisoners instead. Sidious' command was to wipe the "primitive army assembling in the swamp". He still wanted to capture Queen Amidala, he NEEDED her to sign a treaty.

II. I'm not sure how Padme knew about the hanger, maybe she could see where they were headed, they did land shortly afterward. But that's not even the biggest plot hole in that scene. Obi-Wan and Anakin face off against Dooku, and then Yoda takes a turn, and they're all fighting all over the hanger to stop Dooku. Why didn't anyone simply slash his SHIP with a lightsaber? It's just SITTING right there, a good cut through the cockpit would have stopped Dooku from going anywhere.

III. Padme was buried (or maybe cremated I guess) with the illusion that she was still pregnant. Vader & Sidious didn't even KNOW there were any children. No reason they would be looking for Luke, or anyone else named Skywalker.

IV. The Empire was looking for the tech specs for the Death Star. If they had destroyed the escape pod, they would never even know if the plans were on it.

V. I don't find the timeline issue problematic. Part of Luke's training took place while Han & Leia were making their way from Hoth to Bespin… with no functional hyperdrive. The trip could have taken them months.

VI. The second Death Star didn't have the same design flaw. There was no "thermal exhaust port right below the main port". There were barely any WALLS! They just flew right in to the reactor. An un-finished superstructures isn't a design flaw. And Luke's rescue at Jabba's palace was planned according to what he foresaw through the Force. He put everyone in place just where he needed them to be. He wanted Leia's rescue attempt to fail, so they would all head for the Sarlaac pit where R2 could deliver the lightsaber and enable Luke to take down the Hutt's entire gang. The Ewoks, while small and cuddly, were fierce warriors who knew the terrain and environment. The stormtroopers were simply unprepared for fighting that kind of an enemy.

VII. I believe there is backstory which shows Leia trying to get the Republic to take a stand against the First Order, but they weren't buying it. The galaxy is a VERY BIG place, it seems perfectly plausible that even a major construction project could go unseen. And Maz Kanata, while "no Jedi", was still very keen on the Force, and believed that the Skywalker lightsaber "called" to Rey. It's likely then that it's location was chosen by the Force, so that Rey would find it, and Maz just let the Force guide her to put it there. There is also backstory (from the novelization) which explains Poe's return to the Resistance base. It's really not much of a story element, anyway. He got back somehow, that's all we needed to know. Kylo Ren thought that Rey was just a scavenger, who had no experience with her own Force sensitivity. He had no reason to expect her to be able to carry off a Jedi mind trick.

There are always explanations. Except for Dooku's ship, they should have gutted that thing.

bruce wayne

Nov 11, 2017, 7:15 am Reply

Good video. Another movie from another genre that perfectly illustrates this point is The Dark Knight. If you think about it, the plot of the movie is absolute bananas. It's littered with plot holes and all the Joker's plans are nonsensical and illogical. But no one noticed because everything else about the movie is PERFECT.

Brian Yount

Jan 1, 2018, 8:33 pm Reply

More relevant now after the "controversial" Last Jedi than ever! Well done!

leonel mora

Jan 1, 2018, 11:18 pm Reply

The main plot hole in "the force awakens" is that it's just a copy of Ep IV


Jan 1, 2018, 3:04 pm Reply

After I saw the Last Jedi I had to go back and watch Revenge of the Sith. Revenge of the Sith has a epic coherent story filled with depth, heart, emotion, amazing battles, the best and most lightsaber battles. Plus the way Palpatine manipulated Anakin to turn to the dark side by his using Anakin's own wife is great story telling at its best. The plot makes perfect sense. The Last Jedi had none of these qualities.


Jan 1, 2018, 3:05 pm Reply

Revenge of the Sith is amazingly awesome. The Last Jedi is amazingly aweful.

Dan Waldman

Jan 1, 2018, 3:33 am Reply

On that Plinket complaint on the invasion landing so far from the city, from what was shown, I was under the impression that it was a global invasion. Some troops landed near the city, others far away to try to subdue or minimalise a would be resistance force from anyone living on the outskirts.

Dan Waldman

Jan 1, 2018, 3:35 am Reply

The Emperor didn't know that Luke and Leia were alive. Also, Anakin would never want to set foot on Tatooine again.

Dan Waldman

Jan 1, 2018, 3:42 am Reply

For Luke's rescue on Return of the Jedi, I presumed Luke was using the Force to see the future and various possible outcomes, with each scenario allowing everyone to get out alive, or else getting everyone into the right position for Jabba to be destroyed.

Jay Lawrence

Apr 4, 2018, 4:28 pm Reply

Some of those plot holes do have logical explanations
Hide Luke on the last planet Vader would ever be again
Hide him with family and keep his last name
In case Leia needs to find him and bail for some reason isn't around to tell her who he's with.


Jun 6, 2018, 4:41 pm Reply

Where did Rey learn to use a Jedi mind trick?

Leon K

Jan 1, 2019, 2:10 pm Reply

I actually asked myself the very same question about Toy Story recently, so I was surprised when you brought it up. Great and interesting video, by the way! Although I'd argue that it can be quite entertaining to discuss a movie's plot holes and inconsistencies, it shouldn't distract from the overall enjoyment. For instance, I can still enjoy the Harry Potter films, even though those a riddled with inconsistencies and continuity errors.

Most importantly, I think the Star Wars saga has much fewer plot holes than people often claim. I'm sure Pablo Hidalgo would agree with me. 😉


Feb 2, 2019, 2:32 pm Reply

JarJar isn't a plot hole!
Why have him on the thumbnail?
The Prequels have No plotholes.
You want plothole city?
The last Jedi has countless!!!

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