A plot hole, or plothole is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that creates a paradox in the story that cannot be reconciled with any explanation. These include such things as illogical or impossible events, and statements or events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.
While many stories have unanswered questions, unlikely events or chance occurrences, a plot hole is one that is essential to the story's outcome. Plot holes are usually seen as weaknesses or flaws in a story, and writers usually try to avoid them to make their stories seem as realistic as possible. However, certain genres (and some media) that require or allow suspension of disbelief—especially action, comedy, fantasy, and horror—are more tolerant of plot holes.
Writers can deal with plot holes in different ways, from completely rewriting the story, to having characters acknowledge illogical or unintelligent actions, to having characters make vague statements that could be used to deflect accusations of plot holes (e.g. "I've tried everything I can think of..." to keep critics from asking why a particular action was not taken). The nature of the plot hole and the developmental stage at which it is noticed usually determine the best course of action to take. For example, a motion picture that has already wrapped production would much more likely receive an added line of dialogue rather than an entire script rewrite.
Examples of plot holes
- In Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane says his final word of "Rosebud" with seemingly nobody around to hear him, yet this is the one piece of evidence that the character Jerry Thompson decides to investigate. This is often referred to as one of the biggest plot holes in cinema history. However, it is actually stated later in the film that his butler Raymond was in the room with Kane when he died, but was not visible in the shot, leading to the confusion.
- In King Kong, Kong scales the Empire State Building at the end of the film. However, if he can climb to the top of a skyscraper, he should have been able to climb over the wall that the natives built to keep him at bay on his island. Similarly, the natives built the door in the wall tall enough for Kong to walk straight through.
- In Marnie, the main character is afraid of anything red but wears red lipstick.
- The 2000 film adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth is rife with plot holes, e.g. the Psychlos enslaving humanity for gold for 1000 years despite the presence of Fort Knox.