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  #1  
Old 03-29-2012, 09:19 PM
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Default Favorite plot holes in fiction


We all know plot holes when we see them: something happens that couldn't have happened, based on what was written before; or, something happens, without the obvious consequences affecting further events.

What are some of your favorite ones.

Mine range from the sublime to less than totally sublime.

Sublime: In the Bible (specifically Genesis 4:17), Cain meets his wife. The trouble is, he is the only surviving son of the first two people ever created. Where did she come from. In an added literary twist, this plot hole was mentioned in Inherit The Wind.

Less Than Totally Sublime: Near the end of Tom Clancey's The Hunt For Red October, another Soviet submarine captained by one Viktor Tupolev attempts to sink the books eponymous sub and fails. Instead the Red October rams Tupolev's sub, killing everyone aboard it. One question remains: how come nobody in Moscow took note of the loss of Tupolev's vessel and the loss of the 100+ hands aboard? This is never addressed anywhere else in the book, nor in any of the subsequent books that Clancy wrote with the same timeline and characters.

In the first case, something happened that events leading thereto made said happening difficult to explain. In the second case, something happened without its obvious consequences being addressed.

Anyway, those are two that come to mind.

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Old 03-30-2012, 01:24 AM
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I don't have favourite plot holes. I love stories and mythologies, so so long as they feel right, sound good, and transport me into the other world, I have promised not to pick apart every hole they come up with--unless of course they use that hole to smack me upside the head with ;-). I do have favourite excuses however, ones that make me laugh in response to those who do PICK apart continunancy (sp) errors etc.

"Because a Wizard did it!"
Frink: "Yes, over here, [...] in Episode BF12, you were battling barbarians while riding a winged Appaloosa, yet in the very next scene, my dear, you're clearly atop a winged Arabian! Please do explain it!
Lucy Lawless: Uh, yeah, well, whenever you notice something like that... a wizard did it.
Frink: Yes, alright, yes, in episode AG04-"
Lucy Lawless: Wizard!
—The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror X"
If I recall once I did notice something that had confused me, I don't think it was a plot hole so much as a scientific mistake, which made me question my own understanding of "Coldblooded" at the time (nevermind the science behind that term alone *chuckles*). In Farscape, they refer to Aeryn Sun as being cold blooded or (something like that I don't remember), and because of that they couldn't tolerate rising temperatures. I remember scratching my head and thinking about the lizards that live in the desert. I am almost positive that "I" missed something, or that I got the facts wrong or something, but whatever the case Heat Delirium was awesome to see...wish they would actually show someone insane as a result rather than the effects but yeah, that's the only thing that ever raised my eyebrow only because it confused me to pieces...
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:24 PM
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Television is full of stuff like this and really, it's not relevant to writing. Look up the TV Tropes article about "fridge logic." The key is, when you are watching TV, you don't have time to notice plot holes, basic continuity gaffes, and the like. Teleplay writers are happy to put them into the script if it propels the plot towards the conclusion in the ~42 minutes that they have to fill an hour-long episode. It's called "fridge logic" because the viewer is not likely to notice it until he is reaching into the fridge for another beer or whatever. Movies are only slightly better in this regard. There will be a quick beat of exchange between two characters that explains away something so they can move ahead.

In prose, people can flip backwards and read something again. This is even easier with e-books. The plot hole is going to be right there and unmistakable.

Scientific and factual errors are a different thing. If the genre is sci fi or fantasy, then who cares? Let the wizard do it! Farscape wasn't hard sci fi anyway so if there's a planet with animals who can't survive above a certain temperature, then that's cool (pun intended). Even some factual errors about real places are okay sometimes: I read Stephen King's The Stand while sitting on the beach in Ogunquit, ME, and got to the first passage in the book that actually takes place there; he made a detailed description of a Dairy Queen and an "old stone pier" in Perkin's Cove, neither of which exist in real life. (The nearest source of soft serve ice cream in the county was about two miles north on Route One and at the time, was not a DQ; moreover, the pier in Perkin's Cove is made of wood.) But who cares? He needed all that for the symbolic imagery in that chapter that established one of the character's motives and personality and that is a lot more important than something silly like a "fact." We're not journalists, here.

What I am talking about are real, honest-to-goodness plot holes: things that happen without a logical cause that could have been established earlier (or that previous events would have made impossible to happen); or things that happen without their obvious consequences affecting the rest of the plot.
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Old 03-31-2012, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
The key is, when you are watching TV, you don't have time to notice plot holes, basic continuity gaffes, and the like.
A lot of hardcore fans of a TV series pay attention to plot holes (and even smaller details aha that make you wonder how did they notice that), and have feelings similar to how readers feel when they come across a plot hole that is quite noticeable. We might ignore them or mention them, but there are groups of us who do notice .

Scientific and factual errors are a different thing. If the genre is sci fi or fantasy, then who cares? Let the wizard do it!
I care. That's why I mentioned it.

Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
What I am talking about are real, honest-to-goodness plot holes: things that happen without a logical cause that could have been established earlier (or that previous events would have made impossible to happen); or things that happen without their obvious consequences affecting the rest of the plot.
I got none then , if it doesn't affect the rest of the plot in an obvious manner than I don't tend to pay attention to them. It's one of those "Who cares" kinda thing in my mind. If it's something that confuses me and has me wondering if I missed something along the way--then I do care. But nope I got none here
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Old 04-01-2012, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
The key is, when you are watching TV, you don't have time to notice plot holes, basic continuity gaffes, and the like...
In prose, people can flip backwards and read something again. This is even easier with e-books. The plot hole is going to be right there and unmistakable.
You not have a rewind button ?

Mine is a sci-fi TV one as well.

When Captain Jack Harkness gets shot what happens to the bullets ? Do they accumulate inside him or kind of disintegrate.

Books don't bother me anywhere much as questions like that with TV shows.
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
Television is full of stuff like this and really, it's not relevant to writing.
Someone writes the scripts with the plot holes in them so I'd say it is relevant to writing and you're using that as an excuse to dismiss anything that doesn't exactly coincide with your personal idea of what you want to talk about re inconsistencies.

But inconsistencies cover all sorts of things from glaring plot holes to an hour out on a clock, and they're not confined to books alone.

And if you're so slow as to be unable to pick up on inconsistencies in films or television shows, maybe you shouldnt be mentioning them, dismissively or otherwise, because ya know, you don't notice them so you're not in a position to make judgements about them.
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CandraH View Post
Someone writes the scripts with the plot holes in them so I'd say it is relevant to writing
If this was a scriptwriting forum, then fine. But writing for the screen is not like writing for the page. There are fewer people who can do the former than the latter, at least, well enough to make a living at it. Taking writing cues from one without being cognizant of the inherent differences between the two media is a mistake and the inherent differences between various media have been the subject of a broad set of research that has been going on since the 1950s.

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
You not have a rewind button ?
I'm talking about writing, not watching. Read my posts before making knee-jerk reactions. Had you done so, you would have seen that I said that viewers do notice genuine plot holes all the time, only they do so long after said plot holes have been played out; hence "fridge logic." (Alfred Hitchcock referred to noticed-later plot holes as "icebox moments." The concept is not exactly new.) My point was, people reading plain prose are more likely to notice that Cain's wife has no parents right away than they are to notice that Sydney Bristow traveled to three different continents to complete a mission in under 24 hours (to use the example from the TV Tropes article) before they head to the fridge during a commercial break.

TV works by making you stop thinking so you can watch. Books force you to think. Plot holes do more damage in prose for that reason and they are less tolerable for that reason as well.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:04 AM
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You'll have to forgive me Another, you started a thread to which some of us can't agree whether Tv Writing/Scripts should count as writing since they aren't the same format as Books and other written forms made to be flipped through. Of course I disagree and there's no doubt we could argue but I understand your logic and mine. My responses and current stories of interest are Game Writing + lore and any other kind of writing that can translate or be translated to the screen (example animation or other), as such my responses tend not to be for books, which when reading for pleasure (rather than doing the actual outline writing bit), I often have to flip back and forth and tend to forget the plotholes to begin with unless they're very big. It's easier and enjoyable to spot in TV, because rather than find that exact page with that exact paragraph in animation/TV I can flip back to the episode and move the forward button to find what happened or in the case of Once Upon a Time go back to see what I missed, and realize that so many of the writers dropped hints of what was going to happen in the episode I just watched--I simply had forgotten! Much easier to do this than with a book in my mind , for this reason I must insist on my focus of what I know well...that and it's 4a.m, took forever to get to sleep, and while being in a writing forum is the last place I want to be, it is the place I have been coming to of late to fill in my waiting periods SO:

My current favourite Plothole

Once Upon a Time:

I am confused because Emma gave birth to Henry outside of storybrooke.

He is adopted by the Mayor with the aid of Rumpel at about 5 weeks old.

Inside Storybrooke all time froze. Time doesn't move at all until Emma steps into storybrooke.

Henry leaves Storybrooke to find Emma at age 10.

How come Henry is the only character in storybrooke who aged? Is it because he's Emma's son. This also means if he is the only one who aged until 10 years old, that he grew but his other classmates stayed the same age!

It reminds me about the time when I was in kindergarten and there was this girl who went to school with me, she was the same age. Every year I would go back to kindergarten (visiting my teacher) and she would still be there looking to be the same size...it was like she was there every year. I wonder what that was like for Henry, which might explain why he doesn't have any friends !

Current favourite plot hole that has me thinking.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:20 AM
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It's a writing forum - scriptwriting is writing, so are poems, comic books etc These days we can flick TV and films as much as we ever could a book. My children don't understand the concept of waiting a week for a TV show, or they can't just pause, rewind or fast forward it as they please. In the UK when I was a kid there were only three channels and then four from 1982. TV watching was a national event, so plot holes were noticed and discussed the next day in a way we would never have discussed a book. Put a plot hole in Dr Who and people notice.

I read a lot of detective fiction so I am used to plot holes and suspending disbelief with it. Clearly none of the literary ones have ever bothered me, whereas I have a long list of TV ones.
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:36 AM
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Arrggh! Never link to TVTropes, it is a black hole of procrastination!

Must not click link, Must not click link...

*clicks* Dammit, see you in a few hours...
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Old 04-03-2012, 07:52 AM
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LOL am I alone in not getting that site ?
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
If this was a scriptwriting forum, then fine.
Get your head out of your pretentious arse. Like Anya said, this is a writing forum and scriptwriting is, ya know, writing.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:53 PM
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I'm completely paranoid about plot-holes in my own work. So much so that I've mapped out a reason for EVERYTHING, and gone back and changed things to make sure they all make sense and match. Alot.

I HATE plot holes and cheap devices, unless they're tongue in cheek of course. And as my partner is an actor, playwright and screenwriter, we really really notice plot holes in telly and film. And we've been known to yell "Continuity!" at the screen more than a few times.
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post

Sublime: In the Bible (specifically Genesis 4:17), Cain meets his wife. The trouble is, he is the only surviving son of the first two people ever created. Where did she come from..
Where does it say that Cain was the only surviving son?
Where does it say Adam and eve were the only people created?

What happened to the other 1400 people on the Titanic?
Are the Bridge officers on Star Trek the only people on the Enterprise?
Were you born dense or have you had third level indoctrination?

You have a great ability to read what isn't there, you should think about becoming an editor.
On second thoughts...Don't
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:08 AM
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First thing's first: 99% of all of the other threads on this entire site are about prose and poetry. There isn't a single sub-forum here about screenwriting; there isn't even one about writing for the stage. Yes, that's writing. Thank you to everyone who pointed out that writing for the screen is still writing; give yourselves a pat on the back for being able to state the obvious forcefully.

The fact remains that there are different conventions in writing for the screen than there are for the page and if you don't believe me, try writing and selling a screenplay, then call me.

But this is the one that made me laugh:

Originally Posted by Ethan Blake View Post
Where does it say that Cain was the only surviving son?
Where does it say Adam and eve were the only people created?
Everything up to Genesis 4:17; in other words, Genesis 1 through 3 and Genesis 4:1 through 16. They were, according to the creation story, the first people and nobody else was created. Cain's wife appeared out of thin air.

What happened to the other 1400 people on the Titanic?
That's a matter of historical record and every screen portrayal of the Titanic's sinking shows massive numbers of people dying in the background, even while main characters are focused upon.

Are the Bridge officers on Star Trek the only people on the Enterprise?
This is another "read my OP before making a thoroughly boneheaded reply." There is a gigantic difference between focusing a story on a few key characters and leaving the consequences of their actions out of the plot, or having things happen that have no logical cause. If you don't know the difference, then there is no point in trying to explain it because you clearly have never studies writing, literature, film, or theater on any serious level.

The thing is, in order to say anything that stupid with a rejoinder such as this:
Were you born dense or have you had third level indoctrination?

You have a great ability to read what isn't there, you should think about becoming an editor.
On second thoughts...Don't
...it would be most probable that you do not seriously believe a single word that you wrote and you are just trying to provoke people.

Maybe you should think about becoming a Level 0 Internet Troll. No wait, on second thought, don't bother; you already are one.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by thisangel View Post
we've been known to yell "Continuity!" at the screen more than a few times.
That can develop into an obsession if you don't keep a close eye on it.

Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
First thing's first: 99% of all of the other threads on this entire site are about prose and poetry. There isn't a single sub-forum here about screenwriting; there isn't even one about writing for the stage. Yes, that's writing. Thank you to everyone who pointed out that writing for the screen is still writing; give yourselves a pat on the back for being able to state the obvious forcefully.
Twat. You're the one claiming this is a writing forum not a scriptwriting forum. But it's funny how prose and poetry and scripts are all forms of writing. Just because there's no specific scriptwriting section on this forum, doesn't mean there are no scriptwriting members. So your claims about scriptwriting not being relevant to plot holes is bullshit and you're just trying to eliminate anything that doesn't correspond to exactly what you want to talk about - plot holes in fiction.

But, by saying "fiction" you also shot yourself in the foot because tv shows can also be fictional. They're not all documentaries or reality shows, you know. Maybe you should have made the title of your thread "Plot Holes in only Prose Fiction". That way, people wouldnt dare talk about their favourite plot holes in tv shows for fear of dismissal and belittlement by you.

Twat.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:11 AM
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Aaaaand if we could just calm it down on the name-calling slightly?
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Dragon King View Post
Aaaaand if we could just calm it down on the name-calling slightly?
Well, alrighty then, smiley face. But only because you asked so nicely.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:38 AM
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quote AnotherMrEd.
[Everything up to Genesis 4:17; in other words, Genesis 1 through 3 and Genesis 4:1 through 16. They were, according to the creation story, the first people and nobody else was created. Cain's wife appeared out of thin air.]

Yet again in your infinite arrogance you choose to add your own interpretation. It doesn't say whether there were other people created.what it DOES NOT SAY, is that creation ended after Eve. If you care to read on, it says that Cain went into the land of Nod and there he knew his wife.
This does NOT say whether he took her with him, or he found her there. Do not put your own slant on what isn't said, try focusing on what is.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:48 AM
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Friend of mine advanced the theory once that he'd... coupled... with a monkey, and that explained evolution (somehow)...

EDIT: By "he", I mean Adam, not my friend. That sounded a little bad
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:46 AM
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Where does the bible say Cain was Adam and Eve's only surviving CHILD? Given Abraham many centuries later seems to have married his half sister ...

Star Trek has spawned many novels, so has Torchwood. You put a plot hole in a Dr Who or Star Trek novel and just see how many people notice.

ok I have one - Elmer the Patchwork elephant why as there seems to be a herd of brightly coloured elephants does he live in a herd of normal grey ones?



And the last I will say on the matter, we do have a sub-forum:
Scripts
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by CandraH View Post
You're the one claiming this is a writing forum not a scriptwriting forum. But it's funny how prose and poetry and scripts are all forms of writing.
My OP was about prose, used examples from prose, and discussed nothing but prose. How many screenplays have you written and sold? How many are you working on right now? The answer to that question is directly proportional to the usefulness of examples from the screen.

Because you have missed the point of every subsequent post that I have made here, I will use plain language to explain my problem with this: if you take writing cues from screenplays in order to write prose, then your work will be crap. If you take writing cues from prose in order to write for the screen, then your work will also be crap. They are different. What works in one does not work in the other. Saying that "they are both writing" is a grammar school level observation that is as obvious as it is useless. I could say that baking a cake is exactly the same thing as making Kraft Dinner, because "both are cooking" and I'd be making the same kind of point.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
Where does the bible say Cain was Adam and Eve's only surviving CHILD? Given Abraham many centuries later seems to have married his half sister ...
Where does it say in the Bible that any human beings whatsoever other than Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel had ever existed prior to Genesis 4:17? Where does it say in the Bible prior to that passage (and for that matter, subsequent to it) that Adam and Eve had any other children?

That is the continuity error that I identified. Similar gaps in prose fiction (and for that matter, non-fiction or journalism) are the result of bad writing and even worse editing.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Dragon King View Post
Arrggh! Never link to TVTropes, it is a black hole of procrastination!

Must not click link, Must not click link...

*clicks* Dammit, see you in a few hours...
MWAHHAAHA You're welcome >: )

Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
LOL am I alone in not getting that site ?

Ahha no you're not alone. Someone linked that to me when I made some comment about not caring about a plot hole in LoTR, when they went on about it. I said the story is GREAT lol (I never read it and only saw half of a movie aha I'm taking the word of other people on this one), sure he could have done X, Y and Z but he did A, B and C instead . My argument sounded like something they remembered and thus that link was linked to me and pocketed
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Old 04-06-2012, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Another Editor View Post
Where does it say in the Bible that any human beings whatsoever other than Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel had ever existed prior to Genesis 4:17? Where does it say in the Bible prior to that passage (and for that matter, subsequent to it) that Adam and Eve had any other children?

That is the continuity error that I identified. Similar gaps in prose fiction (and for that matter, non-fiction or journalism) are the result of bad writing and even worse editing.
It is only a plot hole if you have zero understanding of the culture it came out of. A woman was classed as barren if she had not had any sons even if she had, had five daughters. Daughters were usually mentioned only mentioned if they were relevant to the story in someway. Look at the family histories in Numbers or the Gospels presumably all those men had women in their lives.

After the incident with Cain and Abel they went on to have Seth.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
You not have a rewind button ?

Mine is a sci-fi TV one as well.

When Captain Jack Harkness gets shot what happens to the bullets ? Do they accumulate inside him or kind of disintegrate.

Books don't bother me anywhere much as questions like that with TV shows.
I have often wondered this very same thing. Cool that he's literal immortal and all, but the bullets have to go somewhere!

I feel like I have noticed a few little things like this in Dr Who episodes too, but none come to mind at the moment. Whatever they were I'm sure they had something to do with River Song's tricked up timeline, haha
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by KtConig View Post
I have often wondered this very same thing. Cool that he's literal immortal and all, but the bullets have to go somewhere!

I feel like I have noticed a few little things like this in Dr Who episodes too, but none come to mind at the moment. Whatever they were I'm sure they had something to do with River Song's tricked up timeline, haha
I confess to having missed a couple of series due to issues with the companions. (despite having watched every series broadcast since Peter Davidson was Doctor lol)

Dr Who, Star Trek etc are exactly the sorts of TV were fans do notice plot holes. There is one in a soap called Coronation Street right now were those who have been watching it since it began know that Annie Walker the first landlady in the series sold the pub. When you have long running TV and film series they have dedicated fans.

My other Torchwood one is who makes the boiler suits for the Weevils - do they arrive in them or is there a Weevil sweatshop going on in the sewers ?
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