Ten Star Wars Plot Holes That STILL Drive Us Crazy
The thing about watching any movie more than once is, you’re eventually going to start noticing some flaws. And when you watch a movie as often as many people watch Star Wars, you’re going to start noticing a whole heck of a lot of them.
And honestly, that’s okay. No movie is perfect and a movie about space wizards fighting each other with laser swords is bound to fall apart under close, close scrutiny. But everyone takes the Star Wars movies so terribly seriously that it can become frustrating to realize just how wonky they really are. The original trilogy had plot holes and logical inconsistencies everywhere, and the problems only got worse when George Lucas decided to make a prequel trilogy that, for whatever reason, actively contradicted the original films at nearly every turn. (One can only imagine what’s going to happen if The Force Awakens comes out and screws something up all over again.)
So we’re actually going to be kind to Star Wars, even as we say that it sometimes pisses us off. We’re going to forgive the plot holes that can easily be explained away by “The Force,” like the fact that Luke Skywalker just happens to land on a planet within walking distance of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, or the fact that Leia can somehow remember her mother’s face even though she only saw Padme for a few seconds after being born. We’ll even forgive the fact that Leia never graduated to “Queen” after her parents died, since with Alderaan being exploded and everything, “Princess” was at most an honorary title by that point.
No, we’re only going to focus on the ten Star Wars plot holes that – no matter how many times we see these movies – completely drive us insane. Some of them are big plot holes, some of them are little, but they’re all enormously distracting, every single time. (And if any of them are explained in the expanded universe, that’s not canon anymore, so it doesn’t count anyway. We’re only going by what the movies actually explain.)
We probably left a few out that drive you a bit batty. Which Star Wars plot holes drive YOU totally nuts?
Anakin Never Learned How to Become a Ghost
“If you strike me down,” Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Darth Vader in A New Hope, “I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” And sure enough, Darth Vader strikes him down, Obi-Wan disappears, and Darth Vader looks at Kenobi’s empty clothes like he has no idea what’s going on.
That’s because Darth Vader actually doesn’t have any idea what’s going on. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda explains to Obi-Wan Kenobi that Qui-Gon Jinn has discovered how to conquer death itself. In other words, Qui-Gon was the first Jedi to learn how to do that. That’s why, after Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader slaughter the whole Jedi order, there aren’t hundreds of Jedi ghosts wandering around Coruscant spreading the word and telling anyone who will listen who killed them.
What’s more, Yoda tells Obi-Wan at the end of Revenge of the Sith that he will have to spend his exile training to overcome death itself. So it’s not just a switch you can flip on and off by, like, calming yourself before death. You have to actually know how to do it, and you have to train really, really hard. That’s why it pisses us off that Darth Vader becomes a ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi. He literally didn’t even know it was possible, and he sure as hell didn’t train for it.
Sure, some might argue that Darth Vader was such a powerful Jedi that he would be able to do it anyway, but there’s a difference between being powerful enough to do something and actually doing it. For example, you might technically be capable of running a five-minute mile, but you’re not going to do it by accident. You actually have to train yourself first. And Darth Vader obviously didn’t, since – unlike the Jedi who actually did become ghosts – his body didn’t disappear when he died. He didn’t go through the process to become a ghost, but there he is anyway, at the end, ghosting it up.
And don’t even get us started on the whole de-aging thing. That’s just stupid.
Obi-Wan Forgot He Knew Leia Existed
Lots of people get annoyed with the fact that just about everything Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker about his father is, if not a lie, then an enormous distortion of the truth. The biggest whopper seems to be the idea that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are two entirely different people, which has less to do with an actual split in personality (which never happens) and more to do with poetic license.
But it’s easier to accept Obi-Wan’s baloney if you remember that he only knew Luke Skywalker for about a day and decided it would be easier to ease him into the truth than lay it on him all at once. It’s a lot harder to accept the notion, presented in The Empire Strikes Back, that Obi-Wan Kenobi had no idea that there were two Skywalker children… even though he was present for both of their births at the end of Revenge of the Sith.
“That boy is our last hope,” Obi-Wan tells Yoda as Luke flies away to rescue Han, Leia and Chewbacca from Darth Vader. “No,” Yoda responds, dramatic as hell. “There is another.”
“What’s more,” he presumably added in a never-before-seen extended cut. “You knew all along that there was another. You saw her come out of Senator Padme Amidala’s body. You held the baby up to her face when she named it ‘Leia,’ and you helped conspire with Bail Organa to adopt her, so it’s not like you could have possibly been confused about what happened to her, especially since you died rescuing her from Darth Vader. Go home, Ghost Kenobi. You’re drunk.”
Or something like that, but in Yoda-speak. “Drunk you are, Obi-Ghost Kenobi… Home you must go.”
This isn’t a situation in which Obi-Wan needed to lie, either. He was alone with Yoda, and they could speak freely about all the secrets of the Star Wars universe. And he actually forgot there was a second Skywalker. Yeesh. Maybe he’s just senile.
R2-D2 Knows Everything Luke Needs to Know
Okay, so if we accept that Obi-Wan Kenobi kept Darth Vader’s real identity a secret from Luke Skywalker, with the intention of softening the blow (or simply because he’s senile), that still doesn’t explain why R2-D2 never said a damned thing about it.
The droid R2-D2 was present for most of the events of the prequel trilogy, fighting alongside Anakin Skywalker in several prominent battles during the Clone Wars, and he was – in the end – well aware that Skywalker turned to the Dark Side, and that Luke and Leia were siblings. And yet he says nothing to Luke Skywalker about it, not even when Leia kisses her own brother in The Empire Strikes Back, right in front of the droid’s… face? Optic panel? Whatever.
Let’s assume for a moment that R2-D2 was playing along with Obi-Wan Kenobi at first (he’s a good little soldier after all), but after the events of The Empire Strikes Back young Skywalker is torn by confusion. He winds up learning the whole story from the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi, even though R2-D2 was right there the whole time, torturing the poor guy with his silence.
Granted, R2-D2 can only speak in little beeps and boops. It would take some sort of high tech interpreter robot to translate R2-D2’s story to Luke Skywalker in the first place… you know, exactly like C-3P0, who is always by R2’s side. So there’s no excuse, robot. None whatsoever. C-3P0’s memory was erased at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but R2-D2’s memory very specifically wasn’t, so he obviously just liked watching Luke Skywalker suffer.
The Empire Didn’t Need to Frame Sand People for Murder
This one’s a little thing but it’s always ticked us off. In A New Hope, Luke and Obi-Wan come across a crime scene of slaughtered Jawas, who were the victims of Imperial Stormtroopers searching for C-3P0 and R2-D2. What’s more, these Stormtroopers manipulated the crime scene to make it look like the Jawas were victims of Tusken Raiders, a.k.a. Sand People. (Side note: does referring to Tusken Raiders as “Sand People” sound a little racist to anybody else?)
But the question that never gets answered is, why would they even bother with this subterfuge? The stormtroopers are operating under the orders of a fascist empire. They’re already basically Space Nazis. They’re not worried about tarnishing their reputation. Heck, they’re getting ready to commit mass genocide on a scale never before considered in fact or fiction, by blowing up entire populated planets. Why would they care if they get blamed for killing a few Jawas when they’re about to issue a press release announcing they’ve just killed billions of innocent people because they felt like it?
And another thing: Obi-Wan Kenobi recognizes the stormtroopers’ deception when he notices that the assailants’ marksmanship was too accurate. “Only Imperial stormtroopers are so precise,” he says, before we as an audience discover that they can’t see a damned thing in those visors. (Luke says so himself.) But even for us, that’s a nitpick. We’re willing to let that go.
Nobody Ever Recognized The Droids
Droids are, at best, second class citizens in the world(s) of Star Wars. They’re not even served in bars, although that probably has something to do with the fact that they have no need for food or beverage, and would just take up valuable space that could be used for paying customers. But we digress.
The point is, we understand not recognizing a droid you’ve only met a few times. But a droid you lived with for many years, had conversations with and depended on for your continued existence? You would remember that droid in at least the same way you would remember your college roommate, decades later, if he or she was right in front of you. You would at least go, “Oh yeah! How have you been?”
So when Obi-Wan says he never owned a droid, that’s true, but there’s no reason why he wouldn’t at least have winked at R2-D2. The two of them rescued Emperor Palpatine in the middle of The Clone Wars, and that’s not the sort of relationship you forget. But even if you accept that Obi-Wan was playing his cards ridiculously close to the vest, that’s no reason why Uncle Owen doesn’t notice that he’s buying back his old droid at the beginning of A New Hope.
To recap: Anakin built C-3P0 before leaving Tatooine and left the droid in the care of his mother. When Shmi Skywalker married a farmer named Lars, C-3P0 spent years working with her stepson Owen Lars, who would one day adopt Luke Skywalker and one day buy back C-3P0 to work at the exact same farm.
Bear in mind, this isn’t a toaster we’re talking about. This is a sentient being with a distinctive personality and the exact same name he had while he was working with Owen Lars for several years. If you must compare C-3P0 to an appliance, this would be like buying back your old used car: it’s the same make and model, the same license plate, the same bumper stickers, and the same rattling noise when you shift into third gear. You’d probably know it was the same car, and yet… nothing from Owen Lars. He doesn’t even bat an eye when C-3P0 introduces himself.
It’s almost like George Lucas didn’t think this plot point out at all. That, or Owen Lars is just really, really racist against droids.
Yoda Went Into Exile for No Reason Whatsoever
So Palpatine has been unmasked as Darth Sidious, and he has begun executing Jedi all over the galaxy. He obviously has to be stopped. Fortunately, the most powerful Jedi has survived the purge and confronted the so-called “phantom menace.” It’s Yoda vs. Sidious, evenly matched, kicking each other’s butts all over – and with – the senate floor.
It’s not an easy fight, but Yoda has Sidious on the ropes for a while. Then, Yoda runs away for no reason and decides, “Into exile I must go.” But why, Master Yoda? It’s not like you were roundly defeated. Sidious knocked you to the ground but you got up again and could have easily resumed the fight. You know very well that only you have the power to defeat Sidious, and that leaving Sidious in control of the galaxy is a recipe for disaster.
But instead of marching right back up there and finishing the job, Yoda flees to Dagobah in the hopes that one day Darth Vader’s kids are tough enough to kick the Emperor’s ass for him. And why? Because he got knocked to the ground, not because Sidious was actually proven to be more powerful or more skilled with a lightsaber. (It must have been going around that day: this happened at the same time that Obi-Wan was defeating Darth Vader for no better reason than he had “the high ground.”)
Lazy you are, Yoda. Irresponsible too.
The Empire Spared The Droids Out of Laziness
At the beginning of A New Hope, Princess Leia stashes a secret message into R2-D2 and sends him to Tatooine to find Obi-Wan Kenobi. So far, so good. R2-D2 and C-3P0 jump into an escape pod and fly down to the planet’s surface. Okay, that makes sense too. Everything’s coming up Star Wars.
And then the Empire notices that an escape pod has been released, debate whether or not to destroy it, and then decide to let it go because there are no life signs on board. Because it’s not like anyone would have any reason to throw something off the ship unless it was alive. It’s not like the whole reason you’re boarding Leia’s ship was to acquire an inanimate piece of information like, oh, say, Death Star plans.
Come to think of it, even if you take into account the possibility that the lowly gunners might not have known that the Death Star plans needed to be retrieved/destroyed, there’s still no reason why they wouldn’t have annihilated R2-D2’s and C-3P0’s escape pod, because droids are commonplace in Star Wars. They would know that it was entirely possible that the escape pod could have sentient beings inside of it, with important information and possibly even a mission of their own, even though there were no life signs aboard, simply because they knew that droids existed.
Yoda’s not alone. Lazy they are too.
Han Solo’s Bounty Could Have Been Paid at Any Time
Speaking of laziness…
Throughout A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo is understandably concerned with the fact that Jabba the Hutt has placed a bounty of his head. He keeps trying to leave the rebellion to pay it off – which he can easily do, because Leia is rich and she agreed to pay it – but instead of helping him resolve this clerical issue and save his life, she repeatedly guilt trips him into staying.
It’s a dramatic device that is probably supposed to prove that, deep down, Han Solo has a good heart. And in A New Hope, when he only gets sidetracked for one mission – The Battle of Yavin – it works that way. But at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, which takes place THREE YEARS after the events of A New Hope, he STILL hasn’t been able to pay Jabba the Hutt back.
Three whole years of having a bounty on his head, three whole years in which he could afford to pay the bounty himself, and three whole years in which Princess Leia didn’t let him. Hell, if Han was so important to the Rebellion that he couldn’t leave, Leia could have easily sent someone else to Jabba’s palace to pay the bounty for him. Then Han wouldn’t have been so distracted, and the Rebels wouldn’t have had to divert valuable time and resources just to rescue the guy after Boba Fett captured him and dragged his carbonite ass all the way to Tatooine.
Which raises another annoying point…
It Shouldn’t Have Taken a Whole Year to Find Han Solo
At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Lando Calrissian announces that they will search for Han Solo to rescue him from Jabba the Hutt. Then one whole year takes place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. And where did Jabba the Hutt turn up after that year-long search? On Jabba’s home planet, in his home town, where he’s always been since Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
The Hutts are not obscure in the Star Wars universe. They are notorious gangsters who make regular public appearances at sporting events like pod races. Luke Skywalker grew up a stone’s throw from Jabba the Hutt’s base of operations. Even if, for some reason, Jabba the Hutt wasn’t actually on Tatooine at the moment they started searching for Han Solo, they knew that Jabba was coming back eventually. Lando Calrissian didn’t have to search for Han Solo, he just had to say, “Chewie and I are going to Tatooine. We’ll meet you there.”
The Empire Forgot That the Death Star Destroys Planets
This one is infuriating. At the end of A New Hope, the Death Star arrives to destroy the rebel base at Yavin IV. Actually, the Death Star arrives to destroy Yavin IV itself, because that’s the whole point of a Death Star: it can destroy whole planets.
Fortunately, Luke Skywalker is able to exploit a weakness in the Death Star before Yavin IV can be destroyed. How does he have the time necessary to do this? Because the Death Star is incapable of destroying Yavin IV, because a planet is in the way. (Or a moon, whatever. It’s a big giant thing in space.)
Think about that for a moment. The Death Star bothers to move all the way around a celestial body, making it vulnerable to attack. Granted, Grand Moff Tarkin is cocky as all hell and cannot imagine a scenario in which the Rebels would win, but he also has a Death Star and he’s not using it. This is like saying you can’t reach a beer can in the refrigerator because there’s a beer can in the way. They say when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but somehow the Empire failed to recognize an actual nail.
They deserved to get blown up. That’s what we’re really saying here. Um… for several, perhaps obvious reasons.
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.
Character Posters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens