A Response to Esquire’s “A Comprehensive List of Star Wars Plot Holes”

By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for every Star Wars movie including The Last Jedi. Don’t read this if you’re new to Star Wars and still watching the movies for the first time.

Also, Note: If you’re looking for someone to trash the Esquire article and its author then you’ve come to wrong place. Sure, I’m going to write about why I have a problem with some of these plot holes (and why some of them are fair questions) but I’m taking this as an opportunity to positively engage with the Star Wars story and to show that there are answers in some great novels and comics.

Over the weekend, Matt Miller of Esquire published “A Comprehensive List of Star Wars Plot Holes.” Some of them aren’t really plot holes, some of them have answers in other mediums of the ever-expanding Star Wars universe, and some of them are actually fair questions. I just wanted to take a moment and go through this list and give my thoughts.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Why does Obi-Wan say Yoda is the Jedi Master who trained him when that was clearly Qui-Gon Jinn?

Of course, the out-of-universe answer to this is that George Lucas had not yet thought of Qui-Gon Jinn when Empire Strikes Back was released. The in-universe answer is that Obi-Wan, and all Jedi, were trained by Yoda before becoming the padawans of other Jedi knights and masters. We saw in Attack of the Clones that Yoda was training a class of younglings in lightsaber techniques. In the season six episode of The Clone Wars “Voices” Obi-Wan says, “All of us have apprenticed to master Yoda.”

Qui-Gon uses Jedi powers to win a bet. Why doesn’t he use them to ensure Anakin’s podracing win?

I always assumed Qui-Gon had some noble reason such as not wanting to use the Force to influence a gambling event. However, according to Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group in a since-deleted tweet, Qui-Gon really wanted to observe how Anakin would do in order to see if there was anything to this whole Chosen One prophecy. That’s something that never occurred to me and I like that idea.

Why is technology so much more advanced 32 years before the events in the original Star Wars?

Pablo Hidalgo had an answer for this too and it’s that sleeker doesn’t mean more advanced. My alternate response to this is that the Galaxy has been living under an imperial dictator for almost 20 years at the time of A New Hope so of course things won’t look shiny and new. The Emperor wasn’t advancing the Galaxy, he was stripping it if its resources in order to advance his own agenda.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

How the fuck did walking lampshade Jar Jar Binks become a politician?

I’m not going to get into a political discussion here; all I’m going to say is look at some of our past and current politicians and draw your own conclusions. Other than that, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Palpatine, who is from Naboo like Jar Jar, orchestrated that appointment so he would have one more “ally” in the Senate that he could manipulate.

Why was it never explained why Jedi Master “Sifo-Dyas” ordered the clone army?

This was a fair question for a very long time but it has since been answered in The Clone War series. I can’t blame the writer, or anyone else, for not knowing this. If you’re interested in the answer, watch the season six episode “The Lost One.” It’s worth your time.

Why does Count Dooku just tell Obi-Wan the Sith’s strategy for undermining the Senate?

He’s trying to turn Obi-Wan to the dark side. Remember, Qui-Gon was Count Dooku’s apprentice and friend. Dooku’s original motivation for leaving the Jedi Order was to hunt down the Sith Lord that was responsible for his friend’s death. Along the way, he came to discover that he shared many of the ideals of the Sith and fell to the dark side himself. Despite that, I think there was still a small part of him that wanted revenge for Qui-Gon’s death.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

If Chewbacca always knew the Jedi were real, why didn’t Han believe him?

Lots of people knew the Jedi were real and Han didn’t believe them either because he never saw any evidence of the Force himself. He’s a skeptic and skeptics aren’t convinced just because someone tells them a thing is real.

Why’d they hide Luke on Vader’s home planet and even have him keep the Skywalker name?

Here’s another fair question with an answer; it’s the one planet in the Galaxy they knew Vader would never return to. In Marvel’s Darth Vader # 7 from 2015, Vader, after learning that he had a son, visited Tatooine and went to Obi-Wan’s home. He said to himself, “Hiding the boy in the one place I would never return was cunning.”

As for the last name, I don’t know. Maybe it didn’t matter because Vader would never look on Tatooine anyway. Maybe it didn’t matter because Vader didn’t even know he had a son at all.

Why does Yoda go into exile instead of just going back to kill Vader and Palpatine?

If it were that easy he would have simply killed Palpatine the first time. That didn’t work out too well for him so he bided his time until the children of the Chosen One could learn the ways of the Force.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If C-3PO’s memory was wiped at the end of Episode III, how does he know R2D2 here?

His memory was wiped 19 years ago and they’ve been together on the Tantive IV ever since.

How can a man with a stick disable a whole group of armored stormtroopers?

Because the Force is working through him, plus he’s hardly the first blind warrior in a movie.

Episode IV: A New Hope

Why doesn’t Obi-Wan recognize R2-D2 or C-3PO?

Maybe he does and doesn’t say anything. There’s a bunch of stuff he didn’t tell Luke that day.

What happened to all that advanced technology?

See my answer about living under the rule of an imperial dictator for almost 20 years.

Why did the Death Star need to travel around the moon to destroy the rebel base? Couldn’t it just blow it up?

I don’t know the answer to this other than it made for a more suspenseful story. Maybe there was an important Imperial facility there although it seems unlikely that the Rebel Alliance would put a base there if that were the case. Maybe Yavin was rich in a rare resource and the Empire didn’t want to simply destroy it. Who knows, but the absence of an answer doesn’t make it a plot hole.

How did Luke get around the blockade of Hoth?

I don’t know. Pablo Hidalgo didn’t have an answer either.

Why does the Empire only disable the Millennium Falcon hyperdrive and not the whole ship?

Pablo Hidalgo didn’t have an answer for this either. My best guess is that the Empire hoped Leia would escape and lead them back to other Rebels? That just a guess but it comes with so many other questions.

Luke became a Jedi Master by training with Yoda for only a few days?

 This is another one that was a good question for a very long time but we’ve since gotten an answer to this. Luke spent the three years between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back learning everything he could about the Force and how to use. We saw this in the novel Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne and we’re seeing it in the ongoing main Star Wars series from Marvel. He’s found the journals of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s collecting any texts about the Force he can find, and he’s encountering other Force-sensitive people (the Jedi and the Sith aren’t the only Force users around). So, his time with Yoda wasn’t his first exposure to the Force since his time with Obi-Wan.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

How can Leia remember her mother, when Padme died in childbirth?

We don’t have a definitive answer to this. Maybe that one moment Padme held Leia as a newborn was enough to make an impression on a Force-sensitive child. Lucasfilm seems to be answering plenty of little questions like this one in the comics and novels so maybe we’ll get a good answer one day.

How can two trees destroy an armored battle vehicle like an AT-ST?

Mythbusters tested this with 10 ft. long eucalyptus trees. With a 5 ft. diameter the trees weighed 10,000 pounds each. The trees were swung at a van and an armored truck, doing considerable damage to both. The team even dressed a crash test dummy as a Stormtrooper and placed it in one of the vehicles; the dummy was destroyed. So, this is entirely plausible.

How did the Ewoks have a dress in Leia’s size?

I’ll leave this one to Pablo Hidalgo: “They made it. Not sure why it’s a mystery.”

Why do all the force ghosts appear to Luke as he knew them in his life, except Anakin?

This is a good question. It’s been implied that the Anakin returned to his appearance when he was a Jedi and aligned with the light side of the Force, but I hate that explanation because I feel like it negates Vader’s redemption on the Death Star. It’s also worth noting that this is not how the scene was originally filmed, it was added in the Special Editions. It also happens to be my least favorite change of the Special Editions.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens

How did Poe Dameron survive the crash landing on Jakku?

He ejected, just like Finn.

How has Han never used Chewbacca’s gun?

Because it was Chewbacca’s gun, not Han’s. Or maybe he has and this is the first time he’s using it since Chewbacca made it more powerful. He never actually said, “I like that and can’t believe I haven’t used it in over 40 years of friendship with you.”

If the Millenium Falcon was old garbage, how did it have any fuel?

Rey said it was junk, Unkar Plutt thought it was worth stealing, keeping, and, in the film novelization, tracking down to Maz’s castle on Takodana. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Why didn’t they just use a droid to pilot the Resistance ship on the kamikaze mission?

Maybe it was too important to entrust to a droid.

How did Snoke become a dark lord if there were no Sith left after Return of the Jedi?

Snoke and Kylo Ren aren’t Sith and they don’t refer to themselves as lords. The Jedi and the Sith aren’t the only Force users in the Galaxy.


So what do you think of these answers? Do you have any different ones for these questions? Do you have any other questions from the Star Wars films that you want an answer to? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading!