A plot hole or plothole is an obvious mistake or missing element in the plot of a fictional work, such as a book, play, film, or TV show. These include such things as illogical or impossible events, and statements or events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.
Plot holes have been defined as "...contradictions in a screenplay... [which] can both be mentioned on paper or implied by the premise and universe of the screenplay."
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 towards 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. A voiceover done over footage from the film can also be used to resolve plot holes after production has wrapped.
Examples of plot holes
- Jaws — on the death certificate for Chrissie, the shark's first victim, the date of death is July 1st. But later, on the reward paper posted by the Alex's (the shark's second victim) mother, it says that the date of Alex's death was June 29th. Alex perished after Chrissie, not before.
- The Sopranos — in the first episode of season 2 Tony tells Janice that he has just put their mother's house on the market. In season 1, the sale of the house was already progressing.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — for the Word Of God challenge, stepping onto the wrong letter tiles will cause the tile to collapse and send the person falling into the mysterious chasm. When Indy steps onto the J tile by mistake, he falls through, but grabs onto several of the other floor tiles to hoist himself back up. The first correct tile, I tile, is nowhere near the J, which Indy fell through, so by grabbing onto the other nearby tiles to hoist himself up Indy would cause them to collapse as well. This is further backed up when Indy steps on the O tile and accidentally touches his heel to the P tile behind it, and just that slight touch causes the P tile to collapse.
- Spider-Man 2 — Harry tells Doc Ock that in order to find Spider-Man he must find Peter first. Doc Ock finds Peter with Mary Jane in the cafe and throws a car through the window straight at them, then later throws Peter against a brick wall. Any normal man would've been killed instantly (or very seriously injured), and Doc Ock doesn't yet know that Peter is Spider-Man. Given that Peter is his only lead on Spider-Man, it makes no sense that Doc Ock would try to kill him.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen — when the doctor robot is projecting Sam's thoughts onto the wall, there is an image of Mikaela leaning on the motorcycle. Sam wasn't there when that scene happened. He was talking to her on the phone, so he couldn't have seen what she was doing.
- Batman Begins — the nerve toxin is waterborne and can only spread if the water is vaporized. In such a case most kitchens and showers in the city of Gotham should have experienced mass nightmarish hysteria for weeks before the climax. They didn't. No one experience the effect of the toxins until Ra's Al Guhl initiated the microwave canon in the end.