Star Wars is probably the most highly scrutinized movie series ever. Its fans can recite whole passages by memory alone, and they obsess over the most miniscule background characters and plot details. Under such an exceedingly nerdy microscope, it’s possible that the screenwriters (primarily George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan) mixed up rational plotting either as a stylistic choice … or because they just genuinely didn’t think things through. Either way, the series inherited some glaring and egregious plot holes that any Star Wars fan should be familiar with. On the eve of the release of The Force Awakens, which hopefully won’t have to be added to this list, we’ll take a look at some of the worst.
5. Why Didn’t Anybody Realize Luke Was the Son of Anakin Skywalker?
You’re the son of a prominent Jedi who is split up from your biological twin after your mother dies in childbirth and your dad goes schizo. You’re sent to Tatooine, a remote desert planet where no one can possibly recognize who you really are because you’re obviously hidden there under an assumed name, right? Wrong.
Sure, Tatooine is in the middle of nowhere, but this is a planet that seems to be a hub for hundreds of space pilots coming and going. Luke must at least have run into someone familiar with the relatively fresh politics of the Galactic Republic-turned-Empire enough for them to recognize the surname Skywalker. It’s not like the main hero of Star Wars is named Robert Jones or Juan Garcia or Li Wei or something. Skywalker is a weird, memorable last name, especially considering it’s the same one that belonged to a notorious Jedi who also happened to change his name to Darth Vader and attempted to rule the galaxy with an iron — or in this case, robotic — fist.
4. Why Doesn’t Vader sense Luke or Leia Immediately?
Not only does the most evil and powerful dude in the galaxy end up on the same moon-sized battle station as his two children without realizing who they are, but he also can’t even sense them using his powers. Some Jedi he is. Instead of straight up being like, “Whoa, wait a second, that’s my daughter and, whoa holy shit, that’s my son!” Vader just kind of feels a vague sense of uneasiness, mostly because of Obi-Wan. He gets to the Death Star in A New Hope, and says only, “I sense something, a presence I’ve not felt since…” and then just trails off.
He could be talking about Luke and Leia (whom he knows and tortures as a key player in the Rebellion), but he’s really talking about Obi-Wan since he’s waiting for him before their fateful final duel. Granted, this plot hole owes mostly to Lucas probably not having sketched out the whole Luke-Leia-Vader paternity reveal by this point (though that kiss between Luke and Leia in Empire still weirds us out), but it still stands.
3. How Did the Millennium Falcon’s Flight to Bespin Take the Same Amount of Time as Luke’s Jedi Training?
It takes years to become a Jedi. It takes discipline. Why do you think young Padawans put up with those weird braids they make them wear? In The Empire Strikes Back Luke finally starts his training on Dagobah with Yoda to become a Jedi. This is at the same time Han, Chewie, Leia, and the droids escape the Empire and hide out in an asteroid until the heat dies down. They eventually book it to Bespin because Han knows Lando and thinks it’s a safe haven. At the same time they arrive at Cloud City, Luke has a premonition of his friends in trouble, and abruptly ends his training.
Luke’s dad, Anakin Skywalker, was among the most powerful ever; he probably has some innate Force power, but even Yoda admits it’s too soon to leave his specialized training, which basically consists of running around and doing handstands between listening to Yoda lecture him in convoluted Muppet riddles. Warning him about leaving, Yoda reminds Luke of his failure at the surreal incident at the cave, to which Luke says, “But I’ve learned so much since then.” Wait, what? Since when? Han and his crew were basically on that asteroid for a day or two max before they left, which would mean Luke was on Dagobah for give-or-take a long weekend before he bounced. Call it editing for time, or call it what it is: a plot hole you could wave a boulder through.
2. Why Doesn’t Obi-Wan Recognize C-3PO and R2-D2, and Forget Leia Exists?
The Droids don’t remember a goddamn thing, probably because they got their memory erased sometime between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Did Obi-Wan get his memory erased too, or does he just have Jedi dementia? Obi-Wan spends three prequels hanging around Artoo and Threepio, and literally helps deliver Leia and send her off to Alderaan. When Luke shows up with the message from Leia in A New Hope, why doesn’t he recognize her name, and why does he tell Luke, “I don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid,” after Artoo says he’s his rightful owner?
Obi-Wan’s ignorance isn’t technically a lie; the droids were owned by Anakin. But still. Dude, come on. For an all-powerful space priest, you’re kind of outrageously forgetful. Even in Empire Strikes Back Obi-Wan tells Yoda “That boy is our last hope,” as Luke flies off to Bespin. “No,” Yoda responds, “there is another.” The movie cuts away but we assume Obi-Wan’s next line was something along the lines of, “Oh, right, sorry. Heh. Yeah, I totally helped the other kid get born. My bad.”
1. Why Could the Death Star Be Destroyed So Easily?
So you’re saying the biggest, most fearsome power the galaxy has ever known just straight up left an exhaust port undefended, and that this wide-open exhaust port goes all the way to the middle of the Death Star, and that a mere missile or two shot by a technologically advanced targeting computer is all you need to blow the thing to smithereens? The hell, guys?
Perhaps the only thing more ridiculous than this is the fact that in the climax of A New Hope Grand Moff Tarkin charts a course for the Death Star to destroy the main Rebel base on the moon orbiting a planet called Yavin, but the movie sets the battle up as a race against time for the Death Star to clear Yavin in order to have a clean shot at destroying the moon. But, uh, guys, this is the Death Star. It atomizes planets for funsies. It’s not like Tarkin forgets what his battle station can do, he certainly tested its firepower by blowing up Alderaan, and Tarkin is such a twisted dude that he wouldn’t think twice about destroying another measly planet in order to crush the Rebellion. Tarkin got what he deserved, mostly because he forgot everything there was to know about the Death Star.