Continuing my Raiders at 40 celebrations this month, and I’m going to look at a (so called) major plot hole that the film has. This plot hole actually gained some traction a few years back thanks to the not very amusing The Big Bang Theory TV show. However, I actually heard of this goof long before The Big Bang Theory existed. For those not in the know, here’s the plot hole in question:
So basically, people like to claim that Indy had no impact on the resolve of the film at all and that the character was completely pointless in his own movie. Even without Indy, the Nazis would found the Ark, took it to the island and opened it. Ergo, all the Nazis would’ve died even if Indy had just stayed at home and put his feet up. Honestly, loads of sites have brought this plot hole up for a few years now, ever since it was mentioned in The Big Bang Theory. So, Dr Jones was completely irrelevant in his own flick right?
Well no, just as with most of the writing on The Big Bang Theory, it’s utter arse gravy with no thought applied to it. Before I do destroy this so called plot hole, like a Nazi having his face melted and head exploded, I just want to bring up a little incidental of the whole film, Marion Ravenwood.
So, let’s just say that, when Indy was asked to go find the Ark of the Covenant, he turned the offer down and went home instead. The Nazis turn up at Marion’s place in Nepal to obtain Abner’s headpiece for the staff, she gets a bit headstrong (as shown in the film) and the Nazis get rough. No Indy there to save her, Marion dies. Is that not a worthy reason to be in the film? The fact Indy saves Marion’s life?
Other sites and blogs have also brought up the fact Indy saves Marion’s life. But even that’s not 100% accurate. I mean, how did the Nazis know about Marion, how did they know about her very remote bar in Nepal in South Asia… The biggest continent on the planet, how did they know she had the headpiece that would tell them where to Ark was buried? The answer to that actually renders the entire plot hole redundant and proves how things wouldn’t have been the same if Indy wasn’t in the film. It all has to do with a very brief, but important scene. When Indy gets on the plane to Nepal and he travels by (now iconic) map… He’s not alone.
Someone is following him, it’s not actually explained who this mysterious person is. Some assume it is Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht (Ronald Lacey) due to the glasses… But it’s not. The character is an unnamed spy played by Dennis Muren, a special effects artist on the film. As an added bit of trivia, Dennis Muren has won more special effects Oscars than any other person ever. Plus, when put side by side, you can tell that Thot and the spy are not the same actor/character. They are just both wearing a hat and glasses.
So, who is this spy and why are they following Indy? Well, what if he’s a Nazi, a Nazi who reports back to Major Toht when they land in Nepal? Then when in Nepal, Thot and his men follow Indy to Marion’s bar. Indy goes in, talks to Marion while the Nazis wait outside, perhaps even eavesdrop on their conversation. Indy leaves the bar, the Nazis enter, and the film plays out as it does. See, the Nazis only knew about Marion, her bar and that she had the headpiece because of Indy, because he was followed. So without Indy, the Nazis would never have found the headpiece, never found the Ark, never would’ve opened it, never would’ve had their faces melted. My conclusion is that Indy wasn’t irrelevant in his own film and no, the Nazis wouldn’t have opened to Ark without him as they never would’ve found it without him to begin with. Not a plot hole.
Before I move onto more proof that this is not a plot hole. I do know that the Nazis were aware of Abner Ravenwood (Marion’s father), because of a telegram that US intercepted from the Nazis about Abner and the headpiece is mentioned in the film. However, there’s no mention of them knowing who Marion is, or that she possibly had the headpiece they needed. Plus, that telegram states that Abner was in the US… He wasn’t, he was in Nepal. So the info the Nazis had on Abner was vastly out of date. Also as I’ve already mentioned, Marion had a very remote bar in Nepal in the biggest continent on Earth. What are the chances of the Nazis just stumbling on the bar and Marion? So for me, it makes sense that the Nazis had Indy followed.
Still, there is nothing in the flick that says the guy following Indy is actually a Nazi. He could be working for the American government and just on the plane to ensure that Indy is doing what he said he would. I only offered a possible theory there, using what is in the film. You have to admit that it is open to who the spy following Indy is and that it is possible he was working for the Nazis. But even if you want to throw that theory out, I’ve got the main nail to put in the coffin of this ‘plot hole’, *he claims with an knowing and sly Indy-like smirk on his face*…
Removing my explanation, this isn’t even a plot hole anyway. A plot hole is a very specific thing and one can write off any film ever made and create a non-existent plot hole by simply removing the good (or bad) guy from the story. I mean, I could create a ‘plot hole’ in King Kong by saying that, if Carl Denham hadn’t hired Ann Darrow and taken her to Skull Island, then Kong would never have ended up in New York and caused such a ruckus… Plot hole! No, that’s purposely creating an issue, to then find a plot hole within the false narrative that you yourself have just created.
As I said, a plot hole is something very specific. A plot hole is a gap or an inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of the movie’s logic, established by the film’s plot. However, the plot of the film has the American government hire Indy to go after the Ark and bring it to US soil. So then, he is essential to the flick because THAT’S THE PLOT.
Here’s a bit of dialogue between Marcus and Indy about going after the Ark, after Marcus speaks to the American government:
Marcus Brody: “They want you to go for it. They want you to get hold of the Ark before the Naizs do, and they’re prepared to pay handsomely for it.”
Indiana Jones: “And the museum, the museum gets the Ark when were finished?”
Marcus Brody: “Well yes.”
Just to repeat a line of dialogue there… “They want you to get hold of the Ark before the Naizs do”. Aside from the government screwing Indy over at the end and not giving it to the museum, he was being paid to find the Ark, before the Nazis and bring it to the US. If Indy had just said ‘no’ after being asked to find the Ark, went home and put his feet up… Then there never would’ve been a plot hole because there wouldn’t be a plot.
A plot hole (as an example) would be establishing that early in the film, that the Nazis could not be killed by the Ark… For the Ark to then kill them at the end with no explanation as to why. Removing Indy from the film is not a plot hole because Indy is the plot, the driving force of the whole film. As already covered, Indy was hired to find and retrieve the Ark, to then bring it back to the US… Which he did do. The killing of Nazis was not his job, that was not what the American government tasked him to do. So if we say that Indy being in the film or not made no difference because the Nazis would have opened the ark anyway if Indy wasn’t in the film, forget about the Nazis finding and opening it. The main plot point is that the Ark never would’ve been brought to US soil without Indy. The melting of Nazi faces is completely irrelevant, that’s just an added bonus, with or without Indy.
So no, this whole Indy is irrelevant in his own flick is not a plot hole, and nor is he irrelevant. More a case of people not understanding what a plot hole is, or not being able to grasp the fact that Indy was not hired to kill Nazis. He was hired to bring the Ark to the US, which he did do. Without him, that never would’ve happened. So that kind of makes him pretty central to the plot eh? Can we now put an end to all this ‘Indy is irrelevant in his own film’ bollocks now then?
More articles to come in my Raiders at 40 celebrations and next, some Raiders rip offs of varying quality over the years.
Man, the Cobra Kai TV show is far better than I ever thought it would be. I’ve been gripped for all three seasons so far, and with season four coming at the end of this year, I’m pretty damn excited. For those not in the know, Cobra Kai is a sequel TV series that continues the bitter rivalry story of Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid film(s). Of course, there’s much more going on than Daniel-san and Johnny’s dislike for each other as a whole host of other characters join the story. Along with some fantastic returns of other characters from the movies to boot.
Anyway, part of that rivalry between the two leads stems from the original The Karate Kid flick. In Cobra Kai, Daniel is a rich and successful businessman. Beautiful wife, big house, kids, etc, he’s got it all. But Johnny’s life, following the film, went in a very different direction. He’s more of a loser, doing odd jobs to put food on the table, living in a shitty apartment and so on. The two opposing lives are put down to the fact that Daniel LaRusso won the All Valley Karate Tournament in the first film, beating the previous two-time winner, Johnny Lawrence.
When the two first cross paths after so many years in Cobra Kai, the karate tournament that Daniel won (thanks to Mr Miyagi) by beating previous champ Johnny is brought up. So too is the fact that Daniel won via an illegal kick to the face, the famous crane kick move. For many years, even before the TV show, the internet has been swamped with people claiming that Daniel won the tournament illegally, using an illegal kick to the face. Pretty much everyone is stating that Johnny was the rightful winner of the fight as Daniel should’ve been disqualified, or at the very least, shouldn’t have been given the winning point, for using an illegal move. Most people are in agreement that the ending of The Karate Kid and Daniel winning is a major plot hole. So much so that the whole thing has become a very famous meme, then there’s the fact that it has now become canon within the universe as Cobra Kai itself even brings up the fact that Daniel shouldn’t have won in the show. So then to summarise, it is now in-universe fact that Johnny (incorrectly) lost the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament due to Daniel basically cheating. But here’s the question, was the kick to the face actually illegal as many claim, and was it a plot hole that Daniel won?
Well, that’s what I’m here to cover. I’ve done a few of these explorations of plot holes and I always use the same handful of rules. I can only use in-movie universe logic, I can’t just make shit up to suit my own agenda. I can’t use explanations in novelizations, comic books, etc and only what’s in the film(s). Deleted scenes are a bit of a wildcard, depending on why they were deleted. Example, if a scene was removed against the director’s better judgement, because the suits forced it to be cut, then I can think about using it. But if a director cut a scene over something like time constraints, then that’s a bit more questionable as, if the director didn’t think the scene was worth fighting for, then why should I? So, with the rules in place, it is time to destroy this plot hole that Daniel used an illegal move and Johnny should’ve won.
Okay so, getting back to the point. Daniel’s kick to the face was not illegal at all and the many years of memes and videos are wrong. Of course, you’ll want proof of this claim, right? It’s not as if you’ll just going to believe something written on the internet with zero evidence to back it up, are you… Kind of like how this whole thing started then eh? Okay, some proof. First, here’s a little montage of the ending fights, just give it a watch and tell me what you see.
Okay, I’ll bring up a few highlights for you. Starting at 0:53 in the video, Johnny delivered a kick to the face and wins the point. Directly in front of two judges. Perhaps you missed it, well here’s a screengrab for you.
So if kicks to the face are illegal, then why did Johnny win that point? Then later, we have Daniel take a kick to the face from Dutch of the Cobra Kai dojo. Is his opponent reprimanded for the face kick? Nope, he wins the point. Again, screengrab for you.
Aside from the fact that, given the obvious reasons, the kick doesn’t actually connect in real life. Within the reality of the film, it did and the point was awarded to Dutch against Daniel, and in front of the judges too. In fact, if you go back and re-watch the various fights in that final tournament, you’ll see multiple examples of people winning points from kicks to the face. Johnny wins three points via kicks to the face alone, one against Daniel. None of those kicks are deemed illegal either.
So there you go, head/face hits score a point. So given the fact that multiple people win points with blows to the head through the entire tournament… How or why was Daniel’s winning kick illegal? I mean, even Ralph ‘Daniel-san’ Macchio himself has said that the kick was illegal… But it wasn’t. In the article I linked to there, Ralph states that:
“No hits to the face was clearly something when the referee made the list of things what not to do.”
Errrr, no. The ref never says hits to the face are not allowed, neither do any of the other judges. Nobody in the first film says that hits to the face are illegal. Want more eh? Well, here’s a line taken directly from the film where the rules of the tournament are explained to Daniel:
“Everything above your waist is a point. You can hit the head, sternum, kidneys, ribs. Got it?”
The exact opposite is actually said about hits to the face, the movie outright states that hits to the head can score you a point. Now, for the tournament in The Karate Kid Part III, the ref does say that no face contact is allowed, but never in the first film. So I think this is where the confusion lies, people seem to think (Ralph Macchio included) that the no face contact rule is in the first film when it’s not. Several of the tournament rules have been changed between the films too, not just the face contact one. But in the first film, face contact is allowed… Multiple times.
I love the 1997 John Woo action flick Face/Off. In it FBI Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) undergoes top secret surgery to swap faces with his son’s killer and general dickish bad guy Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), in order to work deep undercover to infiltrate Troy’s gang and learn the location of a bomb. Long story short, things go wrong and Castor Troy ends up swapping faces with Sean Archer, leaving Archer stranded in the face of the man he hates most, while Troy enjoys life as an all star FBI Agent… along with the added bonus of porking his nemesis’ wife.
I guess, the basic plot of Face/Off is nothing more than a take on the classic and often used The Prince and the Pauper story, but given a modern and more violent John Woo twist. Anyway, the reason I’m addressing a plot hole in this flick is because Face/Off has been popping up in my newsfeed a lot over the last few days. See, a sequel is currently being developed. To be directed by Adam Wingard, the man behind the very recent Godzilla vs. Kong flick. The sequel is set to reunite John Travolta’s Sean Archer and Nicolas Cage’s Castor Troy once more, though details on the plot are very sparse right now and just how involved in the sequel the original stars will be is up for speculation. Will they be the main characters, or perhaps more of a secondary/cameo thing? Anyway, none of that is important to this article. What is important is the plot hole I need to address.
See, along with news of a Face/Off 2 comes several reports on how the sequel will address and correct a plot hole from the original. Quite a few notable sites have already been talking about this plot hole fixing. Notable sites such as Digital Spy, We Got This Covered, ScreenRant and other entertainment news sites are commenting on the ‘big plot hole’ of the original film. That got me thinking… What plot hole?
Apparently, these sites are saying that the original flick has a major plot hole in that, while Sean Archer and Castor Troy only swap faces, their bodies magically change too. If you read these plot hole articles, then you’ll see things like ‘in the first movie, the bodies of the lead actors change, despite the characters only undergoing face-swap surgery‘ being claimed. Yeah, you can definitely see a big difference between the body types of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. And yes, one would have to question why when they have the face surgery that for some reason, the bodies also change. Even I can’t deny that’s a plot hole, or it would be if you don’t pay attention to the film.
Still, what I like doing is looking at film plot holes and trying to cover them. When I do this plot hole covering thing, I set myself a few rules. I can only use in-movie universe logic, I can’t just make shit up to suit my own agenda. I can’t use explanations in novelizations, comic books , etc and only what’s in the film(s). Deleted scenes are a bit of a wildcard, depending on why they were deleted. Example, if a scene was removed against the director’s better judgement, because the suits forced it be cut, then I can think about using it. But if a director cut a scene over something like time constrains, then that’s a bit more questionable as, if the director didn’t think the scene was worth fighting for, then why should I?
Anyway, you can check out the other plot holes I’ve covered with the likes of Die Hard and the Back to the Future trilogy to better understand my thinking. So with that out of the way, on to this major plot hole in Face/Off.
As covered, this plot hole surrounds the difference in body types between Sean Archer and Castor Troy. You can clearly see in the film that Travolta has a (I’ll declare delicately) ‘chunkier’ body type than Cage, whose body is certainly leaner. So when the two swap faces, those differing body types really would and should stand out to the other characters in the film, but after the face surgery… they have also swapped bodies. However, this isn’t a plot hole as it’s being declared by certain sites, nor does it need addressing and fixing in the sequel either. Because, the original film already covered this in its plot. As proof, I need to jump to the part where John Travolta’s Sean Archer finally agrees to the surgery and has it all explained to him. This occurs at around twenty-five minutes into the flick. The doctor in charge of the super secret face-swapping procedure talks Archer through what will happen and I take the following quote directly from the film. This is not a deleted scene, not a part of the script that didn’t make the final cut. This scene and quote is right there in the film for all to see and hear.
“Hight difference is negligible. Skin pigment, eye pigment, both almost identical. We’ll use laser sheers for the hairline, micro-plugs for body hair. We’ll do an abdominoplasty to take care of those love handles.”
There’s more to that speech of what the surgery entails, but that’s the basic gist. So to summarise. The surgery to swap the face wasn’t just to swap the face as these sites are claiming. Other aspects of the surgery are mentioned in the film, including altering the body via an abdominoplasty and more. Now, one can argue just how ‘realistic’ it is to change someone’s body type so much or so drastically. But hey, you’re watching a film about an FBI agent that swaps faces and then lives his life as his son’s killer and general terrorist-type bad guy (and visa versa), so I think you can apply some of that suspension of disbelief to the body surgery too, if you’re willing to accept the whole face-swapping thing in the first place, right?
Point is, that it’s not a plot hole because the plot of the film addresses the difference in body types and does change them via the surgery. No plot hole and those sites reporting on the plot hole are wrong… as is director of the sequel, Adam Wingard, who is the one saying he’s going to address the non-existent plot hole in the sequel.
So there’s a new Terminator film released today, here in the UK anyway, my U.S. cousins will have to wait until the 1st of November to see it… and I personally couldn’t be less interested. For me, the franchise was terminated a long time ago. I’ll watch it eventually I’m sure, but I’m in no hurry to get to the cinema to see the return of Arnie, Linda and Edward (who I guess will be killed off in the opening). The prospect of James Cameron back as producer hardly gets me excited, nor does the fact the new flick is a direct sequel to Terminator 2 that ignores the other films. Even the high praise the film is currently getting does not excite me. But a new Terminator film does give me an excuse to write an article.
Regular readers may know I enjoy looking at and attempting to cover film plot holes. I’ve done Die Hard as well as the whole Back to the Future trilogy of films. So I thought I’d do the same with T2. Now before I get into this, I need to quickly cover the rules, yes I have rules…
So when looking at plot holes, I can only use the rules established in the universe in which the film(s) exist. I can’t make up my own rules/excuses to explain anything away.
Novels, comic book adaptions and original shooting scripts are also out. Only what is seen on screen can be used for explanations.
Deleted scenes can be a wildcard depending on why they were deleted. If a scene was removed against the director’s wishes due to producer interference (as an example), then I can consider using them. If a scene was removed for something as mundane as ‘time constraints’ then I can’t use them because if a director thinks a scene which explains plot points/character motivation is less important than time, why should I care about it? If a scene was in the original script, but not filmed… see rule 2 above.
Fan theories are definitely a huge no. I’m a fan, I like to come up with my own interpretations of films as much as the next person… but I’m not involved in the making of the film.
Basically, if it’s not in the film(s), it can’t be used.
So those are the rules… and to be honest, they’ve put me in a rather tricky spot. See, when I do these plot hole articles and using my rules. The whole point is to cover the plot holes and explain why they are not plot holes… which I have done in the past. But what happens when the writing of a film is so bad, so full of errors that go against established rules that I just can’t cover them? Well, you get Terminator 2: Plot Hole Day…
The TDE Problem
Nothing dead can use the Time Displacement Equipment (TDE). This is a rule explained and shown to be true in the first film, this is why both the T-800 and Kyle are sent back naked and why no future weapons can be sent either. The T-1000 in Terminator 2 is nothing but dead material, it can not use the TDE, it can not be sent to the past. None of the events of Terminator 2 can happen given established in-universe rules.
Now some people claim that the T-1000 can mimic human flesh and that is why it can use the TDE, except it can’t. We know it can’t mimic human flesh as we are told it can’t mimic anything complex and human flesh is pretty damn complex. Plus when you see the T-1000 get shot in the film, there is no human tissue there (like the T-800) it’s pure liquid metal. So within the opening minutes of this film already contradicts the rules established in the first film. And before people jump in with the comments of a flesh sack, etc… re-read the rules.
Why is there another Arnie cyborg in the film? Yes they are mass produced in a factory (as the teaser trailer shows)… but why would Skynet even build more T-800 (the robot) Model 101 (the skin) terminators when the reason provided in the first film for the creation of the new T-800 is due to the fact the previous machine, the T-600 had rubber skin and was, as Kyle explained “easy to spot”? Surely if Skynet is aware its T-600 units are “easy to spot” leading to Skynet creating the more advanced T-800 with living tissue, bad breath, everything. It would not make multiples of that same unit that look identical as it would be “easy to spot”, in fact easier to spot than the T-600 the T-800 was built to replace, making the existence of the T-800 redundant.
Especially when you take into account the machines are used as infiltration units. Kyle’s nightmare/flashback/forward (it’s complex) in the first film shows what these things do, they get into the human bases by passing themselves off as humans and murder everyone in sight. They infiltrate. So their effectiveness is pretty pointless if they all look like Arnie. Even if Skynet sent multiple Arnie T-800s to various parts of the battlefield, even if there was only a 0.01% chance that these Arine looking machines would be spotted, why would Skynet take the chance when it could create different looking T-800s instead?
Put Some Clothes On
Why is the T-1000 naked when being sent through the TDE (which it can’t do anyway)? We know why the T-800 and Kyle had to be sent through naked as nothing dead will go, so they can’t wear clothing. But the T-1000 can mimic clothing as the film shows us. Skynet is aware clothing is important as the first thing the T-800 does in the first film when it gets sent back is acquire clothing, that is also what it does in Terminator 2. So clearly clothing is something programmed into the machines and obviously important. So why is the T-1000 naked?
‘Default appearance’ is often the excuse, but let’s look at my next point…
He’s In The Nip!
The T-1000 is supposed to be an infiltration unit. Designed and programmed to blend in with humans. It can only mimic what it touches. So if being naked is it’s default appearance… would that not stand out when it was trying to infiltrate? Picture the scene, war ravaged world where humans fight for survival against its AI oppressors. People are dying all around and through the smoke walks a completely naked male figure that is designed to blend in. Does not work does it? Why would a naked form even be part of the T-1000s programming anyway when it’s designed and programmed to kill, in case it ever had to infiltrate a porn film?
Skynet has detailed files about humans, so much so that it can recreate nipples… but not clothing? But as already covered, Skynet is obviously aware of clothing and it’s importance because the T-800 is programmed to find some as a priority.
Lets just go back to the first film and a spot of exposition for a second. As Kyle said: “Its defence grid was smashed, Skynet had already lost” and “Its just him (T-800) and me, nothing else comes through.”. Nuff said. So why is there a sequel and why are more terminators being sent if we have already been told this can not happen?
Perhaps the terminators from T2 were sent back before the one in the first film… maybe? But this makes no sense when you think about it… something I’m covering in a couple more points.
Killer Cyborg That Doesn’t Kill?
Why doesn’t the T-800 kill any of the bikers in the opening bar scene? We know it’s still programmed to kill as the scene with the two guys that come to help John shows later in the film…
John: “You we’re gonna kill that guy.”
T-800: “Of course, I’m a terminator.”
See, it’s programmed to kill, but only roughs up the people in the bar? Now remember that bar scene? The T-800 is attacked, it’s very mission is being hindered, it gets stabbed! That very same make and model terminator killed for much less in the first film, remember the clerk in the gun store? He was killed just for telling the terminator it couldn’t load the gun in the shop. But in Terminator 2, the same make and model kills no one despite being stabbed with a knife, attacked with a pool cue and more?
So within Terminator 2 itself, if that same machine was willing to kill the guy coming the help John later in the film, why not kill anyone in the bar that were getting into the way of it’s mission? The terminator would have left a trail that could’ve been traced if it killed people in the bar… maybe. But wouldn’t roughing people up in front of dozens of witnesses, stealing clothing, a motorbike and even guns also leave a traceable trail?
Skynet Is Stupid In T2
Skynet is supposed to be this amazing, militaristic thinking piece of highly advanced AI. So why would Skynet send the more advanced T-1000 through over the lesser (by then) T-800? Why not just send multiple T-1000s. And seeing as Skynet can send multiple units through as proven in the sequel(s), which contradicts info given in the first film, why send them to different times in the past instead of just sending ALL of it’s machines to 1984 to kill the then unaware Sarah? Skynet’s very existence is at stake here, so why not throw everything it had at the problem? Just imagine Kyle having to fight off numerous T-800s, T-1000s… hell even the lesser T-600s (can’t cos they have rubber skin so cant use the TDE… like the T-1000?), throw in some HKs too, it could send an army. Kyle and Sarah wouldn’t stand a chance and Skynet would win. Terminator 2 makes no sense!
T-1000 The Cop
Why doesn’t the T-1000 fully mimic the cop in the opening? We know it can fully mimic people as the film itself shows us. But instead of fully mimicking the cop, it just mimics the uniform (more on this issue next). Wouldn’t a person walking around in a police uniform that is numbered while also driving a police car that is also numbered not be a little bit suspicious? What if a fellow cop that knew the original cop recognised the uniform/cop car number and realised the person using them was not the cop they knew?
So instead of the T-1000 just mimicking the cop and passing itself off as him, we now have a missing cop and a strange man wearing his uniform and using his car. The T-1000 is supposed to be an infiltration unit remember.
It does the same thing with the motorcycle cop later in the film too.
Equal Size My Arse!
The T-1000 can only mimic things of equal size is the rule established in the film. The cop uniform is not equal size, so it should’ve mimicked the cop fully and not just the uniform. John’s foster mother is also not equal size, nor is the guard at the hospital as you see the size difference as the T-1000 morphs between them. Speaking of the hospital, it mimics the hospital floor and you can bet your arse that is most definitely not equal size. So it can mimic things not of equal size then despite the film telling us it can’t?
John asks the T-800 to swear not to kill, but why? The machine has no concept of human rules and I can prove it.
John: “You can’t just go around killing anyone.”
John: “You just can’t.”
John: “You just can’t OK?”
See, the T-800 does not understand human rules to the point it doesn’t understand why it can’t kill… so why would asking it swear not to kill mean anything to the machine? John never explains what swearing means or its importance/meaning to humans, it’s learning nothing. All the T-800 does is parrot John by holding up his hand and swearing not to kill, it’s programming remains the same and it is still programmed to kill remember. So given what we have learned through the exposition of the film, there is no reason for the T-800 not to kill from that point onward or even before it (bar scene).
But just to add to the pointlessness of the ‘swearing’ scene. Just minutes earlier we, the audience and John learn that the T-800 has to follow his orders, so why didn’t John just order the machine not to kill?
John: “I order you not to kill anyone.”
See, I just wrote T2 better than James Cameron did.
On the subject of John’s orders having to be followed by the T-800. Let’s skip to the end of the film and when the T-800 is lowered into the molten steel. What is it that John says again? Ahhhhh yes…
John: “I order you not to go, I order you not to go.”
Well there you have it, the T-800 can’t ‘die’ as John just ordered it not to go. Not once, but twice But wait, what does the T-800 reply with?
T-800: “I’m sorry John, I can’t do that.”
Wait, what? So now it doesn’t have to follow John’s orders, since when can it do that? If it can choose to not follow his orders then why did it break mission parameters by taking John into direct danger earlier in the film risking the mission just because John orders it to? What danger am I taking about? Next point…
The Stupid Plan
Why would the more mature and future resistance leader, John who knows the entire existence of the human race is on his shoulders allow the T-800 to follow his younger, immature self’s orders? What if that immature version of himself orders the T-800 to rescue his mother, who we are told is not a mission priority and therefore breaking mission parameters and take John into direct danger putting huge risk onto the mission? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the T-800 to be programmed to follow the more knowledgeable and prepared Sarah’s orders?
Another thing about the ending that makes no sense. The T-1000 stabs Sarah in her shoulder and asks her (quite eloquently too) to “call to John”. Why would it do this when we and it knows it can mimic people? Even more so we are told in the film that the T-1000 typically kills whoever it mimics. So why didn’t the T-1000 just kill and mimic Sarah, get close to John and then kill him? Mission complete.
“It glitches, that’s why it can’t mimic Sarah” is the usual response. Yes the T-1000 does glitch… in the extended cut, but not so much the theatrical cut and the one most familiar to everyone. But even if we go the glitch route excuse. The T-1000 still manages to mimic Sarah as the film proves later anyway. So the whole “call to John” bit is inane. Just kill and mimic Sarah, you know that thing the T-1000 had been doing since it’s first scene in the film.
Good Scene, Bad Writing
About that extended cut. There is a scene included where the T-800 has it’s chip removed so it can learn. From a filming perspective, its a great scene that features a mirror image with two T-800s, two Sarahs and two Johns. The amazing thing about this scene is the fact no mirror was used nor were any special effects either. Its a great shot done so using a very simple magic trick. Brilliantly filmed… but from a plot and character perspective is makes no sense.
So the T-800 allows its chip to be removed and therefore is taken offline, meaning it’s no longer capable of doing it’s mission. Why would the T-800 let the happen? What if the T-1000 turned up while it’s chip was removed? Plus it’s chip is removed so a physical switch can be flicked to allow it to learn. So Skynet built a machine with a switch that has to be manipulated physically for it to learn, meaning if Skynet ever sent one of these units out not to learn but then changed it mind later and wanted it to learn. It would have to recall that unit to manually remove the chip and change the switch? But maybe there are two ways to change the switch, one manual and one remotely. Maybe there is, but if the switch can be changed remotely then why would Skynet even bother with a manual switch to begin with? Then if this particular T-800 switch is not set to learn (hence the need to remove the chip)… then how had it been learning anything up to this point in the film. Like swearing not to kill for example? It should still be killing!
The Terminator actually fails it’s mission in the end. Remember it is programmed to protect John. By the end if the film, the T-1000 is destroyed but John is still in danger and in need of protection. He and Sarah are still being hunted by the police for example.
Edit: Or the opening of Dark Fate…
So effectively, the T-800 abandons it’s mission at the end as John was still in danger. Mission failed.
Well there you have it. As much as I tried, I just can’t explain these plot holes in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This is not meant as a dig at the film either, I enjoy the flick as much as anyone… but it’s badly written and just seems to ignore established rules not only with the first film but also within itself.
Well, however Terminator: Dark Fate turns out. I hope it’s better written and respects the original film more than T2 did.
Okay, so I’m no snob that thinks my favorite films are 100% perfect with no problems. All films have problems, goofs and errors because they are made by humans and us humans are not infallible, we make mistakes…all of us, I’ll probably make some mistakes in this article. But I do have a problem with people calling out a film for having a plot hole when no such plot hole really exists. Such as with my look at a supposed “major plot hole” in Die Hard not long back. As with that article, right here I’m going to take a look at some plot holes that people believe they have found in the Back to the Future trilogy. I have scoured the interwebs for videos, comments and other blogs that have brought up the most popular plot holes and I will now attempt to cover the supposed plot holes using only basic logic, information from the movies or from the film makers themselves.
There are quite a few to cover over the entire trilogy and the Back to the Future films can get a little confusing if you don’t pay attention (which is where a lot of the supposed plot holes come from, the lack of attention). So prepare yourselves as this is going to get heavy.
Why Don’t 1985 George & Lorraine Think That Marty Looks Like Calvin Klein From School?
This is probably one of the biggest and most referenced plot holes from the first film. So at the end of the flick, Marty returns to 1985 from 1955 and a lot has changed (more on that later), one of the biggest changes is how in love his parents George and Lorraine now are compared to the start of the film pre-time travel. But seeing as Marty spent time in 1955 interacting with his then teenage parents, why do they not recognise him in 1985? Why doesn’t George think it suspicious that Marty looks just like that Calvin Klein kid from his school?
Okay so this is how I look at it and how I think the film looks at it too. It had been thirty years from when Marty was in 1955 to 1985. There were no pictures of Calvin for his parents to look back on. Do you really expect the now middle aged adults to remember the face of someone they met thirty years previously while they were teenagers with nothing to remind them? Even more so, Marty/Calvin hardly spent any time with George and Lorraine when he was in 1955 under strict instructions from Doc, he only interacted with them when necessary (after messing up the time line). Marty may have been in 1955 for a week but would have spent only a handful of hours with them over those seven days. But people expect George and Lorraine to remember what Calvin Kline from school looked like three decades ago who they only knew for a few hours over the course of a seven day period? Yeah he helped them get together and of course you’d think they would remember that right? Well…
Then to finish, it could be as simple as George and Lorraine just do not remember Calvin/Marty. The film itself even highlights as much in its dialogue. George and Lorraine credit Biff with getting them together and not Calvin.
George: “Ahh… Biff. What a character. Always trying to get away with something. I’ve had to stay on top of Biff ever since High School. Although if it wasn’t for him…”
Lorraine: “We never would have fallen in love.”
Then there is this bit of dialogue too…
Lorraine: “Oh, honey! Your first novel.”
George: “Like I’ve always told you, you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
George uses Marty’s quote about putting your mind to something, which Marty said to his father back in 1955…except he doesn’t credit Calvin with the quote and says “Like I’ve always told you…”. Is that’s George remembering the quote but not necessarily remembering who said it, so credits himself?
So my conclusion is that they just do not remember Calvin from 1955, memories fade especially over a thirty year period. The film itself even spells this out. If they clearly don’t remember him nor have anything to remind themselves of Calvin from 1955 – they would have no reason to think Marty looks like Calvin would they? No plot hole.
Marty Disappearing At The Dance
I didn’t even think this was considered a plot hole (because its not) but as I found this particular one on whatculture.com, I thought I’d address it anyway. They point out how the picture of his siblings that Marty has with him in 1955 shows them slowly disappear after Marty has interfered with his parents getting together. As they say about this plot hole that “Over those first several days, Marty’s brother and sister were gradually erased, as indicated on the photo that Marty so quaintly carried with him before smart phones.” Which is very true, so what is the plot hole here?
Well according to this site, during the dance near the end of the first film, Marty (and I quote) “began to disappear on the stage with Marvin Berry and company at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, but all at once and very rapidly.” Pointing out that Marty’s disappearance was much quicker than his siblings shown in the photo.
So there are two ways to look at this one as far as I can tell. The first can be explained using the ‘ripple effect‘. Basically, how like throwing a stone into a body of water causes ripples to eventually expand across the water. They start out small but become bigger and bigger the longer the effect continues. So one could say that the erasing of Marty was part of that ripple effect that started out small but by the time it make its way through his siblings, the ripples were much larger and made a bigger impact. Makes sense to me anyway. The other way to look at it is to watch the damn film properly as Marty never does begin to disappear (as the site claims) “all at once and very rapidly” at all. ONLY his hand begins to fade, which is most definitely not “all at once”, that’s just a hand, plus its a slow fade too which is not “very rapidly”. Then just to finish, we only see his brother and sister fade via a photo and have no idea how that would be depicted in in “real-life” as it were, for all we know his family could have disappeared EXACTLY the same way Marty began to right?
So I chalk this one up to whoever pointed this plot hole out as just not paying attention.
Marty Being Called Marty
After the big dance and after Marty does his best Chuck Berry impersonation, he bumps into his now very much in love parents to be. After a little humorous exchange of words and advice, Lorraine makes a fun comment after Marty leaves.
Lorraine: “Marty…such a nice name.”
So if Lorraine likes the name Marty so much, why didn’t she name her first born son (Dave) Marty instead of Marty? Major plot hole there eh? Well no. Lorraine just makes a throwaway comment on how the name Marty is nice, she does not say “Marty…I really must call my first born that.” She just likes the name and for all we now she could have called the family dog Marty sometime after these events. Maybe they had an agreement that George would name their first born? There are various possibilities. Even more so, Marty was called Marty even before going to 1955 (because Lorraine has ALWAYS liked the name without Marty’s interference?) so could there be a chance that the name didn’t come from his time-traveling escapades? Oh yeah I got this one backed up too.
Not many people know this but his name isn’t actually Marty, that’s just a nickname as his full name is in fact Martin Seamus McFly and do you know where that name came from? In Back to the Future III, Marty crosses paths with his great-great grandfather, Seamus McFly and it is reveled that Seamus had a brother named Martin, Marty’s great-great granduncle.
Anyway, the point is that Marty’s real name of Martin Seamus comes from his great-great grandfather and great-great granduncle and always has done even before his went to 1955. So Lorraine liking the name Marty is a moot point really as the name is a family one handed down through the generations, though maybe not for every generation. Even 2015 Marty has a son and his name? Martin “Marty” Jr keeping that Martin family name alive.
Rich And Famous George & Lorraine In The Alternate 1985 And Other Changes
So pre-time-travel and the McFly family are a bunch of losers…except super cool Marry of course. Lorraine is an overweight, raging alcoholic. George is a pathetic wimp with greasy hair. His brother, Dave works in a crappy fast food place and his sister Linda is shown to be having trouble with the boys. They live in a shitty little house that is clearly unkempt.
However, post-time-travel and things have dramatically changed. Lorraine is not longer drinking and looks amazing. George is a massively confident and a successful writer with much nicer hair. Dave has a cushy job in an office and Linda seems a bit more successful with the opposite sex…and they still live in the same house but its much decorated much more tastefully.
So much to cover here but I’ll start with an easy one. A lot of people see it as a plot hole that both Dave and Linda are still living with their parents if their lives are so much better. But the film never makes it clear that they still living with their parents. Yeah they are there at the house having breakfast – but how do we not know that a family breakfast on a Saturday morning is not a McFly family tradition? Maybe they always get together on a Saturday morning and Dave and Linda were just there as normal. Maybe Dave and Linda were just passing on their way to work and popped in to say hello? Several possibilities that make sense.
Another one of the most popular plot holes in regard to all the changes. So seeing as George is such a rich and successful writer, then why are they still living in the same house? Well who says that George is rich and successful? Allow me to quickly bring up another quote form the film…
Biff: “Mr. McFly! Mr. McFly, this just arrived. Oh, hi, Marty. I think it’s your new book.”
Lorraine: “Oh, honey! Your first novel.”
His FIRST novel. Does this not indicate that just maybe his is not as rich and successful as people think he is? Maybe his novel will be a huge flop, maybe it was be a worldwide bestseller. Point is, its his FIRST novel so we the viewer do not know how rich and successful he is or if he ever will be. Maybe that is why they still live in the same house, because that’s all they could afford?
Another plot hole people seem to bring up about all these changes is why hasn’t Marty changed and why would he still hang out with Doc? If his parents and family have changed for the better then wouldn’t that lead to a different upbringing for Marty? This is another one of those simple issues that we the viewer just do not see. Yeah I guess Marty would have a different upbringing and he quite possibly did. But this is how I see it. It was Marty going back to 1955 and interacting with his parents that kick-started the changes…so if it was Marry that was the main influence then why would Marty himself change? Would he not still have the same interests (including befriending Doc) if it was ultimately Marty influencing himself? Even more so, he did change as a subtle detail at the end reveals. Pre-time-travel and Marty has serious doubts about sending his band’s demo tape to a music producer as shown when he and Jennifer talk near the start of the film. However by the end, Marty is seen holding an envelope ready to post which has been confirmed as being that same demo tape. So Marty’s confidence has grown after his 1955 trip.
But before I finish up on these non-existent plot holes there is one major factor people seem to miss. The Marty we see at the end of the film is the original Marty from the start of the flick and the one from the original parents. The alternate Marty, the one that would’ve been brought up by the more successful George & Lorraine we see get sent back to 1955 near the end of the film. As we do not get to really see this Marty, he could be vastly different for all we know. Or (going back to a previous point) he could be pretty much the same seeing as it was Marty who influences his family anyway. Point is, there are two Marty’s, the original who wouldn’t really change and the now “new” Marty who has gone to 1955 who could have changed but we just do not see any of that.
Hiring Biff The Rapist
So I’ve always felt that “rape” was a bit too strong a word to use when describing Biff and what he got up to with Lorraine in the first film. Yeah he forced himself on her…but rape? Anyway, regardless of my own personal views and opinions on that particular scene, I’ll allow the rape description for this one. Some people feel its a plot hole that George would hire the person who attempted to rape his future wife to clean and polish his car at the end of the film and call into question why George would put his family in danger like that.
I see this as a massive shift in power and one George relishes in. All through high school, George had been bullied by Biff right up until that day when he (via the help of Calvin) had the balls to stand up to Biff and lay him out with one punch. George’s popularity soared to heights as conversely Biff’s reputation sank. The school began to see Biff for the true coward he really was. Given that kind of a situation, wouldn’t you hire your ex-nemesis as a dogsbody to clean your car as an insult and payback for years and years of bullying abuse? And if you don’t like that reasoning, then maybe Biff’s Auto Detailing is the only car cleaning business in the small town of Hall Valley?
Exactly When Did Lightning Hit The Clock Tower?
So this is one I’ve seen pop up several times. The climax of the film includes a thrilling race against time (irony?) during the infamous Hill Valley electrical storm of November 12, 1955. Where Marty has to drive the DeLorean at 88 MPH towards Doc’s “weather experiment” that will harness and direct the lightning into the car creating the needed 1.21 gigawatts to send it and Marty back to 1985. But the plot hole is how could they know when the lighting would strike? Yeah they knew it would hit the clock tower at 10:04 pm but don’t minutes have little segments to them called seconds so the lighting could strike anytime in those sixty seconds – which would completely throw off the timing of the experiment, hence the plot hole.
The answer to this one is given in the film itself. When Marty and Jennifer are talking near the start of the film, they are approached by the Hill Valley Preservation Society who were raising funds and awareness for their hopes to…well preserve the clock tower in its current state as they feel that the lighting storm and the damage it caused to the clock tower is historically important to Hill Valley. Marty gives them a donation and in return he gets given a flyer. This flyer has all sorts of information on it about the clock tower including the precise time it was hit by lightning – Doc even mentions this himself when coming up with the plan to send Marty back. So they knew EXACTLY to the second when the lighting would hit.
Doc Rips Up The Letter
So during the climax of the first film, Doc discovers the letter Marty wrote to him about the night he is shot and killed in an attempt to save Doc’s life. Doc tears the letter up and throws it away and yet back in 1985 he is wearing a bulletproof vest that saves his life and pulls out the torn up letter now fixed with sellotape. But he threw the letter away so how can he still have it?
This one is a plot hole I see popping up a lot and it really boils down to something so simple and another one of those people just not paying attention things. Yes Doc tears the letter up…but he doesn’t throw it away. If you watch the scene on question Doc just places the torn pieces into his coat pocket. So its pretty safe to assume that Doc simply took the letter from his pocket and reconstructed it sometime after the events of the first film.
Old Biff And Young Biff Chatting
So Doc says that you should avoid running into yourself when time travelling as it could cause the space-time continuum to destroy the universe or maybe you’d just faint? There is quite a big difference between those two factors eh? Anyway, if this is the case then how come 2015 Biff when in 1955 manages to have a lengthy chat with his 1955 counterpart and nothing happens? I mean when 1985 Jennifer sees her 2015 self, they faint. So there’s a major plot hole right there.
Of course its not, have you not got the gist of this article yet? When Doc talks about time travel, he uses a lot of vague speeches that offer no certainties or definites. Yes Doc invented a time machine…but even he does not know exactly how it all works, he has his ideas and theories – but that is all they are, ideas and theories. So yeah, maybe running into yourself via time travel could destroy the universe, maybe you would faint…or maybe nothing would happen at all? That’s the thing about time travel, no one knows.
If you don’t like that explanation, I can offer another. 1955 Biff just did not recognise 2015 Biff to cause any problems. The film itself even makes a point that young Biff does not know who old Biff is and this could be the key. As long as your younger self has no idea who you are then there can not be any space-time continuum universe destroying or fainting. I guess ignorance can be bliss. If you want further proof of this idea then it happens again when 1985 Doc bumps into 1955 Doc during setting up the “weather experiment”. Though the two converse and interact, older Doc keeps himself hidden as much as he can from his younger self. The young Doc has no idea that he is talking to the future version of himself and just as with the whole Biff thing…nothing happens.
Biff Returning To The Same 2015
This one is probably the most popular plot hole of the film. Every Back to the Future fan knows this one but I’ll just do a quick recap anyway. So while in 2015, as Doc and Marty are trying to get the unconscious Jennifer out of the house and back to the DeLorean, old Biff steals the time machine, goes to 1955, changes the time line and returns to 2015. The problem is that Doc makes it very clear later that one can not travel to the same future you came from if you have changed the past as you will be in a future altered from the point the past changed. This is even shown at the end of the first flick when Marty returns to 1985, but its a different 1985 with his improved family. So if the rules of the film(s) point out you can not return to the same future, then how did Biff manage to do just this after coming back from 1955?
Simply put, he didn’t return to the same future. There you go, on with the next plot hole.
Okay so this one does need some explaining. As I said, Biff did return to a now alternate 2015 when he came back from 1955. There are several hints through the film that can be used to back up this claim too. One of the easiest (and laziest) explanations is to go back to the classic ripple effect and say that the changes in the time line from 1955 had not yet caught up to 2015. But I said that Biff did return to an alternate 2015 and the ripple effect just does not cover that claim.
First point to make is that Doc says how the time line changes around the time travelers, he mentions this when Marty is concerned about leaving Jennifer on the porch to pick her up later after they fix the time line. Another point is the location the scene takes place in, Hilldale a residential area that was quite highbrow and affluent in 1985 but a run-down shithole in 2015. Even the police, when they find the unconscious 1985 Jennifer and take her home mention how Hilldale is a rough neighbourhood full of junkies and thieves. As does the cabbie that drops Biff off in Hilldale. So taking these two points and seeing as Biff going back to 1955 made his future self incredibly rich, so much so that he ran Hill Valley into the ground as shown in the alternate 1985 later…exactly what would’ve changed? Hilldale would have changed from a shithole to a slightly more of a shithole? I don’t see that many, if any changes would have caught the attention of Doc and Marty as the timeline changed around them. I mean look at how long it takes them to work out they arrived in an alternate 1985 later compared to how much time they spend in 2015 after Biff returns. If it took a good few hours to realise the timeline has been changed in 1985 I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t notice small changes in Hilldale within a few minutes.
Another factor is the direction of the whole scene. Doc and Marty have already got Jennifer out of the McFly house when Biff returns to 2015. It is said on the commentary for the film that it was shot this very specific way as to get the characters out of the house as the timeline changed so anyone could have been living in the now ex-McFly house due to the changes…we just never see who.
There is also a much bigger clue and that is when Biff exits the DeLorean and is seen to be having some kind of difficulty. He’s struggling to breath and walk…something has changed. There is a famous deleted scene that shows Biff disappear, being erased from existence after returning to 2015. So yeah, Biff does return to an alternate 2015 and not the same one he left.
Lack Of Memories And How Can Marty & Jennifer Exist In 2015?
I suppose this is a pretty big one too. If Marty & Jennifer leave 1985 to go to 2015 then how can they exist in the future if they have skipped over that period of time and even more so, why don’t future Marty and Jennifer know that the 1985 versions of themselves are there?
As Doc says “the future is not written”, it may not be written but it is at least penciled in. I have always looked at it as the future being extrapolated from where they are in the current timeline and the moment you leave the timeline a future is ‘predicted’ using the information of that moment. This would also go some way to explain how Doc is able to go to 2015 and discover that Marty’s son will get into trouble in the future. In fact in Back to the Future III when Marty and Doc are discussing the fact the name on Doc’s tombstone had disappeared – but the stone itself and date of death remains, Doc says this…
Doc: “This photograph represents what will happen if the events of today continue to run their course into tomorrow.”
So the future is not written, but it is at the very least still outlined and if the events of today carry on through tomorrow and the next day, and the next day and so on then that is the future you will have. So, in short the future shown in 2015 is simply extrapolated and penciled in based on the events of 1985 at that time. Does that make sense? The way I see it is the future shown in 2015 is just an estimate drawn from the events of 1985 pre-time travel escapades. This also goes some to to explain why neither future Marty or Jennifer know that their 1985 counterparts are in 2015…because in this future predicted, they didn’t time travel to 2015.
There is another possible explanation. Future Marty and Jennifer exist in 2015 because they will ultimately return to 1985 and live out their lives up to 2015. I can back this one up with in-movie logic too. Where is the 2015 version Doc when they go to the future? We never see him. There are various explanations to this, first the most depressing one, Doc is dead by 2015 and that is why we don’t see him. Second, he is very much alive, we just do not see him in 2015. Third and the one that I think ties in best with the whole theory – Doc never returns to 1985 (as shown at the end of Back to the Future III) to live his life through to 2015 so he can not exist in the future. You can even go back to the first film to find an example of this idea too. When Doc first tests the time machine using his dog Einstein, he sends his faithful pal one minute into the future. When Doc and Marty eventually catch up to that future (all be it only sixty seconds), there is only one Einstein and not two because he never goes back to his original time of one minute in the past to live out that time.
Old Biff Stealing The DeLorean
So while Doc and Marty are busy recusing Jennifer from the 2015 McFly house, old Biff steals the DeLorean and takes it back to 1955 to give his younger-self the sports almanac. But the plot hole many people bring up is how does Biff not only know he is in a time machine but also how to use it?
This is another one of those not paying attention things. Going back to the start of the film and during the re-cap of the end of the previous film as Doc Marty and Jennifer head off to 2015, Biff comes running out of the house and sees the DeLorean time travel. He does not fully understand exactly what is going on then, but its an event he will recall in 2015. Now in the future and Biff sees a flying DeLorean and that kick-starts his memory form thirty years previously – he still has not worked everything out, but he is suspicious, especially when he sees two Marty Jnrs running around. One the real son of Marty from 2015 and one Marty himself from 1985. Then when Doc discovers Marty’s plan of betting on sporting events, he throws the sports almanac away while berating Marty for his idea. While Doc talks about the dangers of time travel, Biff overhears them and now finally has all the pieces of the puzzle. He knows that Doc and Marty have time traveled and he also knows about the sports almanac.
Okay so Biff knows the DeLorean is a time machine…but how does he know how to use it? I have numerous possible explanations to this one too.
See that image? Its taken from the first film when and is (obviously) an interior shot of the car, in particular the time circuits – notice anything? Everything is clearly labeled, time circuits including destination time, present time and last time departed. Even the digital speedometer has a label on it pointing out you need to go 88 MPH. There is a label for the plutonium chamber, one for flux capacitor…everything has a label – seriously next time you watch the film(s) just look at the DeLorean’s interior and Doc has conveniently ensured everything has a label. So all Biff had to do was read and piece things together on how to use the equipment. Here’s another theory, he didn’t know how to use it and just went back to 1955 by accident. I mean, Marty went back to 1955 by accident in the first film when he unintentionally turned on the time circuits while changing gear, even Doc did the same near the end of this film when he goes to rescue Marty from the school and accidentally flips the time circuits on which will eventually send him to 1885. So if both Marty and Doc can unwittingly get sent back through time….why not Biff?
Then there is my final point and one I think people seem to overlook…HE’S IN A TIME MACHINE! Biff could have taken hours, days, weeks, months to work out how the time machine works and just as long as he reruns the DeLorean back to 2015 for Doc and Marty to use, there would be no problem.
Why Go To 1955 To Get The Almanac Back?
That’s the thing about having a time machine, there is not real urgency to do anything as you have all the time in the world. So why do Doc and Marty feel the need to go back to 1955 as soon as they learn that 2015 Biff gave his younger-self the almanac, couldn’t they have waited until sometime in 1956 or 57 or any point after 1955 Biff receives the book? There is even the fact that 1955 Biff doesn’t make any bets until a few years after he gets hold of the book anyway, so there is no rush really.
First thing I need to address with this one is why Biff waits a few years to make his first bet. The film itself points out he was too young in 1955 so had to wait until he was 21 years old to gamble. Then there is the simple fact that Doc or Marty would have no idea where the almanac was after 1955, given the evidence they had discovered in the DeLorean including the receipt of the book and the bag it came in, the top of 2015 Biff’s cane and of course the time and date on the time circuits. They knew for a fact that 2015 Biff must have given the 1955 Biff the book at some time during that period of time. Plus while in the alternate 1985, Biff tells Marty that the old geezer who gave him the book (his 2015 counterpart) told him to keep the book in a safe and the film shows the 1985 Biff take the book from a safe, so it would be safe (no pun) to assume that 1955 Biff would eventually lock the book away making it hard to get to. Taking all of that into account, Doc and Marty really had little choice other than to go to 1955 to where they were sure 2015 Biff would give 1955 Biff the book and try to retrieve it then.
Beloved Clara And Clayton Ravine
So the tombstone Doc and Marty find in 1955 which is the entire plot point of the whole movie, the reason Marty goes to 1885 to save Doc from being killed, the tombstone is erected by Doc’s ‘beloved Clara’. But Clara Clayton falls into Clayton Ravine hence its name but how can she put up a tombstone for Doc if she died?
The main thing to keep in mind here is the fact there are three timelines to remember.
The first original timeline with no Marty or Doc in 1885. In this timeline, Clara turns up at the train station. There is no one to meet her. She hires a buckboard and heads into town. Horse gets spooked by a snake and Clara falls into the ravine. The ravine is named Clayton Ravine out of respect. This is the timeline Marty and Doc know as they were from a future after these events.
The first alternate timeline with only Doc in 1885. Doc is asked by the mayor to meet Clara from the station. They fall in love. Doc gets shot in the back by Buford and dies. Clara lives on in this timeline, erects the tombstone, and has inscribed on it “Erected in eternal memory by his beloved Clara”. This is the tombstone Marty finds in 1955 and of which he takes a photo.
The second alternate timeline with Marty and Doc in 1885. This timeline is a mix of the first two and the one show in the movie. Doc is asked to meet Clara and he agrees. This time Marty turns up, and Doc forgets all about meeting her. You can even see Clara waiting at the train station for her escort in the film as Doc and Marty look at the railway map. Anyway, Clara hires a buckboard and heads into town. Snake, ravine, etc. But this time Doc is there to save her, as shown in the film.
So that is how Clara can erect the tombstone for Doc because of the second timeline shown above. But if Clara lives and doesn’t fall into the ravine thanks to Doc…then why is Clayton Ravine still called Clayton Ravine as Marty recalls? Well I can offer two possibilities.
When Marty tells the story of Clayton Ravine while in 1885, he is talking from his memories from before Doc gets sent to 1885 and before Doc saves Clara because as Doc pointed on in the second film, the timeline changes around the time traveler, so they would retain their original memories . The only way Marty would know what the ravine was called after Doc saved Clara would be to time travel to a point after these events but before the train crash at the end of the film. But he does not, so he keeps his original memories including the name of the ravine. What the ravine is called in 1885 from that point (but before Eastwood Ravine at the end of the film)? Maybe it retained its original name of Shonash Ravine.
Clara (after Doc dies) throws herself into the ravine through depression after losing her true love. The townsfolk call the ravine Clayton Ravine out of respect as they feel sorry for Clara. So, even in the second timeline shown above, it’s possible for the ravine to have still been called Clayton Ravine.
Getting Gas In 1885
So when Marty gets to 1885, he is attacked by ‘Injuns’ and the DeLorean takes an arrow (to the knee) in the gas-line which in turn leaks gasoline rendering the car useless. So Doc and Marty have to come up with a plan to get the time machine up to 88 MPH so they can get back to 1985. But here’s the thing, gasoline was available in 1885, it was not easy to come by, but it was available, I mean kerosene was readily available back then and a by-product of kerosene is gasoline. So if Doc can create a machine that creates ice in 1885, why not a machine that turns kerosene into gas?
I actually can not believe this is being brought up as a plot hole. Yes I guess Doc could build a machine and turn kerosene into gas, in theory this could work. In practice though? Seeing as the plot of the film is Marty going to 1885 to save Doc from being shot and killed and that Doc being shot happens in just a few days…how the hell is Doc supposed to find parts, build and create a machine to make gas given the tight time frame?
The Two DeLoreans Of 1885
One of the most brought up plot holes of the third film and kind of ties onto the previous one. The fact that there are two DeLoreans in 1885. The one Marty travels from 1955 to 1885 in and the one Doc buries in the cave that Marty uses in 1955 to ultimately go to 1885. Seeing as they needed gas in 1885, why don’t they just take the gas from the buried car and put it in the other one?
That makes perfect sense but there is a flaw in this plan. The buried car doesn’t have any gas in it. Here is a line from Doc just before he sends Marty from 1955 to 1885.
Doc Brown: “I’ve put gas in the tank.”
Why would he need to put gas in the tank if it already has gas in it? There is also the fact that anyone with an ounce of basic knowledge would now that when you put a car in storage for long periods of time (like seventy years) you drain the fuel to prevent corrosion and damage to the gas tank.
Plus even if we ignore the draining of the fuel, there is a major paradox risk, If when uncovering the buried DeLorean in 1885 Doc and Marty cause damage to the car, then that damage would be there in 1955 when Marty comes to use it. If the car is damaged then he couldn’t go to 1885… Seeing as Marty is in 1885, that proves that the plan to send him back in time worked, so why risk it?
Why Didn’t Doc Know He’s Going To Die In 1885?
This is another one where I feel people just do not pay attention. So when Marty does get to 1885 and eventually meets up with Doc, Doc is surprised to learn that he will be shot and killed by Buford. But here’s the plot hole – the Doc living in 1885 is the Doc from 1985 and it is while in 1955 with Marty that Doc discovers his own tombstone and the date of his death. So if 1955 Doc is aware he will be shot and killed…then shouldn’t 1985 Doc (who is now in 1885) now know this information and therefore wouldn’t be surprised to learn of his own death?
I see two possible explanations for this one. The first is to go back to the trusty, previously mentioned ripple effect. One can quite simply say that the changes in the timeline – eg: Doc being shot and killed in 1885, have not yet caught up to 1985 Doc.
The other is the more reliable one I feel and goes back to Doc’s idea that the timeline changes around the time traveler. Throughout the entire trilogy it has been shown that the person that does go through time retains their original memories regardless of ‘when’ they are. Going back to the first flick and Marty still remembers his parents meeting and falling in love at the school dance even though it has not yet happened – he remembers this because he is from a timeline where this is exactly what happened. Also, As I previously mentioned in an other plot hole above in regards to the whole Clayton Ravine thing, Marty remembers it being called Clayton Ravine because he comes from a time when that is what it was called despite the fact that Clara no longer dies in the ravine post-time travelling. The same rules can be applied to 1985 Doc who is also a time traveler and would retain his original memories. Originally Doc does not go back to 1885 and so therefore would not be shot and killed by Buford. Ergo, he would not have any memory of being shot because it never happened in his original timeline. Also note that Doc when living in 1885 had no idea that Marty was coming back for him and then there is the funny exchange about the clothing Marty is wearing…
Doc: “Marty, you’re going to have to do something about those clothes. You walk around town dressed like that, you’re liable to get shot.” Marty: “Or hanged.” Doc: “What idiot dressed you in that outfit?” Marty: “You did.”
It was 1955 Doc who picked out Marty’s clothes for his 1885 trip, yet the 1985 Doc was not aware that it was him from 1955 who dressed Marty. Does this not prove that the time traveler retains their original memories? So no, the Doc living in 1885 wouldn’t know he was going to get shot and killed despite his 1955 counterpart learning of it because 1985 Doc would keep his original memories and originally, Doc is not shot and killed. Makes sense to me anyway.
Why Didn’t Doc Change His Letter?
So the reason Marty knows Doc is alive and well in 1885 is due to the letter Doc sends Marty explaining what happened to him and where/when he was. It is this letter that kick starts the whole plot of the third movie when Marty and 1955 Doc accidentally discover that 1985 Doc will be shot and killed while in 1885, the entire reason Marty goes to 1885 to begin with and the reason the DeLorean is damaged and has no fuel to get back to 1985. So here’s a good question…when in 1885, why doesn’t Doc just alter his letter after learning of what will happen to inform Marty of the problems with the time machine, why doesn’t he ask Marty to bring some gas with him from 1955? If you think about it, writing a letter to alter the future works seeing as that is exactly what Marty did in the first film to inform Doc that he will be shot by the Libyan terrorists.
The first problem with this is that by the time Marty gets to 1885, Doc had already written the letter and given it to Western Union to be delivered to Marty in 1955…so he couldn’t really get his hands on it to change it could eh? Yeah he could write another letter I guess, but that brings up another big problem. Just as with messing with the buried DeLorean. Marty is in 1885, the plan worked so why change it? Then there is the whole paradox issue – I mean if Marty brings some gas back with him to use in the DeLorean, then Doc has no need to write a letter asking Marty to bring back gas…so Marty does not bring back any gas, which means Doc has to write a letter telling Marty to bring back some gas, if Marty brings some gas back with him to use in the DeLorean, then Doc has no need to write a letter asking Marty to bring back gas…so Marty does not bring back any gas…and so on. Its a paradox. Best to just leave things as they are then.
Marty’s Hand And The Car Accident
So in the second film we learn that Marty gets involved in a race with Needles which results in Marty crashing into a white Rolls Royce in which he breaks his hand. It is this injury that causes Marty to stop playing the guitar leading to the not so impressive future depicted in the movie. At the end of the third picture, Marty avoids this race and crash by not raising to Needles calling him a chicken, something he learns not to react to after his time in 1885. But here is the plot hole, Marty avoids getting into the race at the end of the film after picking up Jennifer from leaving her on the porch in the second film…but Jennifer would not have been left on the porch in the original timeline where Marty crashes breaking his hand. So if Marty had no reason to go pick up Jennifer in the original timeline, then he wouldn’t have meet Needles, there wouldn’t have been a race and there never would have been a crash to begin with.
This one had me scratching my head for a while I admit, but I think the answer lies in the original flick. A sub-plot in the film is that Marty and Jennifer were going away camping to the lake for the weekend. The race and crash happen on Sunday, so taking the original timeline into account – couldn’t Marty have been involved in the crash originally AFTER taking Jennifer home after their trip to the lake? Its never said that Jennifer was with Marty during the crash of the original timeline, so maybe she wasn’t because Marty had already dropped her off home after their camping trip to the lake and crossed paths with Needles on his way home afterward?
So there you have it, a few of the more popular Back to the Future trilogy plot holes I think I’ve managed to cover pretty well. Can you think of any I may have missed, let me know in the comments and I can include them in an edit if I feel they can work out?
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