The Actual Plot Holes in Doctor Who

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Gustaff Behr investigates just how many there actually are.


If you don’t understand why the picture to the right is a plot hole, then chances are 1) you haven’t seen the aforementioned episode yet, 2) you’re not very observant, but chances are that you fall into category 3) you don’t understand what a plot hole actually is.

unit-headquartersTo help explain the picture: UNIT is meant to be top secret according to various UNIT officials…so why do they have a large sign outside informing the general public where they are and who’s in charge? Thank the lord these people are defending us. I feel safer already.

Nowadays, people complain that Steven Moffat’s stories are riddled with plot holes. This phrase gets memorized, put on t-shirts and tossed around by people who don’t understand what a plot hole is. A plot hole is a gap in a story where things happen without a logical reason. It’s not something that happens that you yourself can’t explain. That’s just you not being very imaginative. There are four types of plot holes in fiction:

  1. Something happens that other events specifically prohibit.
  2. Events contradict previously established events.
  3. Characters have knowledge of things that haven’t been passed to them yet. For example: Person A addresses person B by name before actually learning it.
  4. Solutions to problems that seem obvious are ignored for whatever reason. Also, don’t expect a writer to think of every possible explanation. Sometimes we the viewers are a bit more creative than they are.

Also be careful of Type-2. In time travel fiction, it’s the easiest one to confuse for a plot hole. Note that Skaro not being blown up in the 1996 TV Movie or in Asylum of the Daleks is not a plot hole, even though it looks like a Type-2. The movie could simply take place during a time prior to the events of Remembrance of the Daleks (from the Daleks POV). Also, in Asylum, Skaro is reconstituted, but the Daleks are seen to have rebuilt their whole empire, so why not their planet as well?

Please note that there is a major difference between a plot hole and a continuity error. Also note that a continuity error isn’t what you are now trying to substitute for your smashed concept of what a plot hole is. A continuity error is where continuity is portrayed as inconsistent regarding the characteristics of people, objects and even places as observed by the viewer. One of the oldest mistakes are clocks showing different times during different camera shots. This is a continuity error, not a plot hole. Drinks hopping from one hand to the next, loose/fixed ties or changing hairstyles are also continuity errors, not plot holes.

Believe it or not, the Classis Series of Doctor Who actually contains a lot more plot holes than the new series does. The old series has reportedly 70 or so plot holes spread across the 26 years of broadcast. The new series only has about ten or so on which even the TV critics agree. TV Critics: The people who are paid to complain about the work of others. Let’s take a look:

Togda pochemu vy zvuchit, kak vy s severa ?

Not a plot hole in our language (English), but the Russian dub of Series One gave the characters common Russian voices, but forgot to exclude the line where Rose asks the Ninth Doctor about his Northern accent in Aliens of London. This is a plot hole because the Russian voice-over artist would sound perfectly normal as he isn’t using a foreign accent, so the question makes no sense to the viewers. This mistake is also present in some other dubs and is very common in shows that are dubbed into other languages.

Final End – The Angels Take Manhattan

angels-take-manhattan-promo-pics-(3)If you somehow managed to explain this one for you, good for you, but most critics agree that this incident is a plot hole. Amy and Rory are sent back in time by the Weeping Angels. The Doctor explains that due to the risk of causing permanent damage to the fabric of space-time, he cannot go back in the TARDIS and rescue them. Not only that, but he can’t ever visit 1938 New York ever again. Yet it is stated that River will use the vortex manipulator to go back later on.

So if River can visit the Ponds, then why not take them back when she returns? Or better yet, park the TARDIS in Brooklyn or Jersey. Someplace close by and take the subway. This plot hole can actually be forgiven as it can be attributed to every companion farewell. Why doesn’t the Doctor just go back and save them? It’s not just the Ponds, it’s every bad companion ending out there. Type-4 Plot Hole

Telepathic Circuits – The Christmas Invasion

harriet-jones-doctor-who-Penelope-WiltonIt’s been established onscreen that the TARDIS only translates languages for people who have been inside the TARDIS. The Sycorax Leader started speaking English as soon as the Doctor woke up in the TARDIS, but his speech should only have been translated for Rose and Mickey as they were the only ones who’d been in the TARDIS. Harriet Jones and her translator have not, so they should’ve only heard gibberish. Type-1 Plot Hole

We’re identical – Journey’s End

meta-crisis-doctor-bad-wolf-bayIf you’re that concerned with companion farewells not leaving plot holes behind, RTD is just as guilty folks. He has the Meta-Crisis Doctor explain that he has all the memories/experiences of his full-Doctor counterpart, and has the half-Doctor go with Rose so that he can learn to be a better person, but there’s a problem with that already: If the half-Doctor does possess all those memories/experiences, then he should already remember the time the full-Doctor spent with Rose, so he knows not to commit genocide or even need Rose to help him be a better man because he already is (or should be). Type-2 Plot Hole and Reverse Type 3 Plot Hole

Whistle Whistle! – The Empty Child

nancy-empty-childNot a very long explanation here. Just informing you that it should be impossible for Nancy to whistle with her fingers in her mouth whilst wearing gloves. This is repeated (sort of) by Clara when she snaps her fingers (with gloves on) and opens the TARDIS door in The Day of the Doctor. Type-1 Plot Hole

Running when you can barely walk – New Earth

doctor-who-new-earth-zombie-patientsThose zombie patients in New Earth, did you notice how they can’t run, just blunder like Resident Evil knock-offs? They even lack basic hand eye coordination as they struggle to put one hand over the other. Well, did you notice how fast they can climb after Rose and the Doctor? Given their normally slow pace, it would be impossible to catch up to the TARDIS duo without the help of the scriptwriter. Type-1 Plot Hole

900 Controversy – Aliens of London

eccleston-doctor-who-9thA part of continuity that have slipped the minds of various complainers of Moffat’s plot holes, this declaration of age by the Doctor is one of the biggest plot holes in Doctor Who. The Sixth Doctor boastfully claimed to be 900 and the Seventh Doctor said he was 953, so are we led to believe that the Eighth Doctor and the War incarnation lived for negative 53 years in total? This slip up was fixed in the The Day of the Doctor when the Doctor finally explained that he wasn’t sure of his age. Before that though…Type-2 Plot Hole

The Speed of Plot – Blink

BlinkContrary to what sceptics believe, Blink does actually contain a plot, albeit just one. During the episode, Weeping Angels are seen (or not, but you know what I mean) moving across a busy street with hundreds of people around who might/could see them. However, when confronting Larry and Sally later on, the Angels have a tremendously hard time covering a couple of feet in the span of two whole minutes. Plus, I’ll add to that the fact that there were only two witnesses during this incident. Type-2 Plot Hole

Is it 1986 or 1987? – Father’s Day

doctor-who-energize-bad-wolfIt is established in Aliens of London on a missing person poster that Rose Tyler is 19 years old in March 2005. The poster also claims that Rose has been missing since March 6, 2005. If math hasn’t changed since I was at school, then that means that Rose must have been born before March 1986. The date in Father’s Day is given as November 7, 1987. Here Rose is still a baby in her mother’s arms, but in a universe where mathematics reigns supreme, she should be approximately age two. Type-2 Plot Hole

DETONATE – THE – REALITY…ah forget it – Journey’s End

davros-stolen-earth-palmAnother one from Journey’s End that might’ve been too timey-wimey for some to have noticed, but Davros claims that the reality bomb will destroy all parallel universes. The bomb doesn’t go off in the primary universe (the one we watched in the episode), but the Doctor explained to Donna at the end of Turn Left that every decision made creates a new parallel universe. So isn’t it logical to assume that there exists at least one universe where the Tenth Doctor was killed before he could regenerate (hey, I’m talking about the Turn Left universe), which means there was nobody to stop the Daleks from invading and nobody to stop Davros from detonating the reality bomb in a parallel universe which would also destroy all universes (including the one we watched) as the bomb would only have to go off in one universe for Davros’ plan to succeed. So either out of the trillions and trillions of exponentially expanding parallel universes constantly being created around us every second of the day, there isn’t at least one in which Davros wins? Statistically speaking, this is closer to impossible than it is too improbable. Reverse Type-1 Plot Hole and Type-2 Plot Hole


I will be the first to admit that time travel fiction can seem riddled with plot holes, but in this fandom’s case, most of the time it’s just another way to say ‘I don’t like what I’m seeing’. Looking back at the article, I count 6 of the plot holes coming from Russell T Davies’ scripts and only 3 from Steven Moffat. How come nobody noticed that RTD’s scripts contain more of them than his successor? Could it be a case of using plot holes as an excuse to berate someone? If you care so much about plot holes, Moffat is the wrong person to blame.

Actually, there isn’t a ‘right’ person to blame as both have made mistakes. Expecting anyone to write perfect scripts all the time and to have memorized every detail of an impossibly large canon spread across various media is not only selfish, but also very naive. They’re human – who do their best to try and entertain us. They make mistakes. It happens! It’s not a numbers game people. If it was, then the Classic Series writers deserve your scorn more because as I mentioned, there are over 70 plot holes there. One writer isn’t better because his score is less. That is not how entertainment value is determined and that isn’t how Doctor Who works. And if anyone tells you otherwise – they’re LYING!