Is it possible to use an intentional plot hole as a literary device? If not as a literary device, can you use a plot hole intentionally for other reasons? I am wondering if there are authors who use plot holes intentionally in order to achieve something.

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    Yes, it is possible. Yes, it has been done: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_Godot#Interpretations
    – wetcircuit
    Jul 18, 2021 at 20:11
  • A "plot hole" used this way isn't really a plot hole anymore. It's foreshadowing.
    – DWKraus
    Jul 19, 2021 at 5:27
  • Question is kind of vague - do you mean as a form of deliberate abstraction / surrealism / comedy? Or in an otherwise "straight" story? Or is it that it only appears to be a plot hole, but actually serves to highlight that "all is not as it seems"?
    – komodosp
    Feb 16 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


Depends on what you mean. If there is something in the story that seemingly doesn't make sense based on the information presented to the audience, and this is deliberate to highlight some inconsistency or plot element to the audience that the characters don't see, then what you have looks like a plot hole but isn't. The truth is that "under the hood" the story is logically consistent, the characters and point-of-view just aren't showing the whole story. This would be considered foreshadowing.

Other times, entire stories have been created based on what was initially a plot hole (by which I mean a real one, not a fake one used as foreshadowing). For example the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue" was inspired when fans of Batman Beyond pointed out it was genetically impossible (or at least very, very unlikely) that the blonde Warren and the redheaded Mary would produce two brunette children (because blonde or red hair only occurs with double recessive genes whereas brunette hair is the dominant phenotype). However, whereas this was a plot hole when it was first pointed out (the creators admitted they hadn't thought about the implications of that when designing the series), the subsequent retconned explanation meant it was no longer a plot hole (regardless of one's feelings on "Epilogue").

The reason I say it depends is that an actual plot hole by itself is considered a bad thing. A plot hole is a point where the story fails to follow its own presented logic and the sequence of events make no sense. An unaddressed plot hole that is never filled in is always a bad thing, because it takes the reader out of the story and makes it harder for them to follow the plot. From a logical perspective, it is a non sequitur in the argument the story is trying to make.

The only time I've actually seen a plot hole used and not filled in to become a "fake" plot hole is in comedy, in which the lack of logic is used as bathos to produce humor, as the original context of the meme below from The Emperor's New Groove provides a good example of.

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What it sounds like you are asking about with your question is the first example, a "plot hole that is not really a plot hole", with the lack of explanation being a feature, not a bug. However, what is important in these cases is to make it clear to the reader that the story seemingly "jumping the track" is intended and not an accident, which can often be done by having the characters react to the so-called "plot hole" in as much confusion as the readers would be, showing that the unexpected appearance is intentional. Be warned, though, because as an author doing this means you're making a promise to your readers that eventually they will get some context as to what is going on.

tldr: "Fake" plot holes are useful literary devices, but a real plot hole that is not subsequently retconned or otherwise filled in to become a fake plot hole are almost invariably a literary flaw, not a useful literary device


Yes. There are rare cases when an international plothole can be used to show how unfathomable a character/entity or reality is. To essentially show that both explanations can't be right....but yet they are.

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