Plot holes are usually created unintentionally, often as a result of editing or the writers simply forgetting that a new event would contradict previous events. However, the term is also frequently applied incorrectly—for example, a character intentionally written to take irrational action would not constitute a plot hole, nor would "loose ends" or unexplained aspects of the story.
Types of plot hole include:
- Factual errors
- Historical anachronisms, or incorrect statements about the world.
- Impossible events
- Something that defies the laws of science, as established for the story's setting.
- Out-of-character behavior
- A character acting in a way that, based on their understanding of the options available to them, they would not realistically choose.
- Continuity errors
- Events in the story which contradict those established earlier.
- Unresolved storylines
- One of the plot lines is not resolved by the end of the story, or a character who is expected to reappear does not.
- Agatha Christie's seminal mystery play The Mousetrap is known for its large number of plot holes. One of them is that the detective, despite knowing the identity of the murderer, lets him proceed to kill further people, rather than arresting him on the spot. This is considered a plot hole because there is no reason for the audience to believe that the detective would want more murders to take place.
- At the end of the Star Wars episode Revenge of the Sith, it is considered imperative to hide Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader, but Obi-Wan Kenobi does so in plain sight on Vader's home planet, even using Luke's real name. He himself only slightly alters his name and makes no secret of his Jedi heritage.
- At the end of the Lord of the Rings story The Return of the King, after destroying the One Ring, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are rescued from Mordor and taken to safety by the giant eagles. Some readers regard this as a plot hole, arguing that the eagles could have flown the Ring there without being corrupted by the Ring or seen by Sauron's all-seeing eye, obviating the need for Frodo to go in the first place.
- "plot hole | Definition of plot hole in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
- Shattuck, Catia. "6 Types of Plot Holes and How to Catch Them". Book Cave.
- MasterClass staff (7 December 2021). "How to Fix Plot Holes in Your Story". MasterClass staff. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
- Brown, Dennis. "A Talented Cast Can't Overcome Flaws in Agatha Christie's Mousetrap". Riverfront Times.
- "Review of The Mousetrap". www.theatreguidelondon.co.uk.
- Miller, Matt (Jan 19, 2018). "A Comprehensive List of 'Star Wars' Plot Holes". Esquire.
- "14 Star Wars Plot Holes Bigger Than The Death Star". Ranker.
- "Why The Fellowship Couldn't Use The Eagles in Lord of the Rings". Screen Rant. 23 September 2019.
- Screenrant's 16 Movie Plot Holes That Aren’t Actually Plot Holes
- Star Wars Fan Debunks Huff Post's "40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in The Force Awakens"
- Ten Debunked Movie Plot Holes