18 Awesome Sci-Fi Movies That Got Away with Not Explaining Major Things

By 389 votes 121 voters 21k views 18 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Vote up the sci-fi films that were better off for never explaining that one thing. Vote down the films where the lack of explanation doesn't really work.

If you’re a film buff, you know there are unexplained things in sci-fi movies all the time. Someone will tech the tech or a robot can suddenly fly and no one bats an eye. Sometimes these scifi movies with unexplained plot points work wonderfully without keying the audience in on their artistic choices, but some scif-i films with unexplained moments leave the viewers scratching their heads, trying to figure out what they just witnessed. In the world of film, the suspension of disbelief is necessary for you to go along with a farm boy from Tatooine harnessing a magical force and defeating an army, but suspension of disbelief doesn’t really work when you have him falling in love with his sister.

There are plenty of science fiction films where audiences are willing to overlook simple things like characters showing up in a new room, or knowing how to drive a time machine despite never actually seeing one before. However, if you focus on these things, you start to lose the magic of the film. While some scifi films can get away with never explaining their scenes, there are a few that lose viewers completely when they try to pull some of the downright disrespectful jive that you’re about to see.   

Vote on the sci-fi films that were better off for never explaining that one thing. Vote down the films where the lack of explanation doesn’t really work. 

Collection Photo:  dreadnought
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    Yeah. So. The whole T2 thing. To recap, Sarah Connor, mother of John Connor (who the Terminator comes back to protect this time, because he's been reprogrammed by some human rebels), decides to kill Myles Dyson, creator of Skynet, so he can't create Skynet or develop terminators. This would ostensibly save the world. 

    What do we learn when she goes to kill him? He developed terminator technology using pieces of the terminator that came back in the first movie. Which means, if the terminator never went back in time in the first place, terminators wouldn't exist. There's surely some philosophical argument to be had here about fate - Sarah Connor does, after all, carve the phrase "no fate" into a picnic table at one point - but this is never explicitly addressed, so the audience is simply left to wonder, "What in the f*ck of all f*cking f*cks is happening right now?"

    And one more thing - if the humans reprogram a terminator to protect Sarah and John, why would they make it look exactly like the terminator (albeit aged 8 years) that tried to kill Sarah in the first movie? It never occurred to them how traumatizing that would be? And if the terminator never went back in time in the first movie, John Connor wouldn't have been born, because the guy sent to protect Sarah... wait, hold on. If Sarah was never visited by terminators, she never would've trained her son to fight them... he's Jesus, isn't he? John Connor is Jesus. Which negates all logic in and of itself. 

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    Arrival makes some beautiful points about the reality of the human condition, and it makes audiences rethink narrative filmmaking in ways that haven't happened in blockbuster cinema before. But when it's revealed that learning how to speak Heptapod allows you to see everything that happens in your life without making it fit into a straight line, does that mean anyone who learns their language can mess with the future?

    Theoretically, you could actually pull the Bill and Ted stunt of reminding yourself to put a key somewhere in the past, and then grab that key in the present. Or it might even allow you to fix the stock market, or something even worse on a global scale. Is that a thing in this movie or are the filmmakers just going to ignore it? Unless everything is predetermined. Where's a Tralfamadore to explain things when you need one? 

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    Star Wars may be the face that launched a thousand fandoms, but it's also guilty of some of the biggest unexplained moments in cinema history. Honestly, pick a movie and there's something very important no one talks about and we all accept it because it's great. Or, in the case of The Phantom Menace, you try to forget it ever happened.

    By way of example, everyone knows Star Wars takes place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. But the vast majority of the primary characters are human. And speak English. With an American accent. And have '70s haircuts. At least Star Trek openly deals with the notion of humans vs. aliens in its cast. Seriously. Are they humanoids aliens? What's the likelihood they evolved to look exactly like humans?  And speak the same language? And are all white? What kind of white people naturally inhabit a desert? Why isn't Luke covered in sun burns? 

    The Star Wars universe has also developed the annoying habit of explaining things post-hoc. In A New Hope, where the hell did the plans for the Death Star come from? Enter Rogue One, filling the gap. What the f*ck are the clone wars? Oh, well, here's an animated series and some burdensome geopolitics explaining in the prequels. And one more thing, before this is dropped - WHY IS ET IN THE GALACTIC SENATE? That species survived for "a long time" in a galaxy with a billion of things to explore and decided to get stuck on Earth in the Reagan years? Way to go, dumbass. 

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    This unexplained moment can probably be explained in a deleted scene, or by texting Ridley Scott late at night (if you have his number, which you probably do, since he has a habit of hanging out at IHOP at 3:00 am in a different city every night, giving out his cell number), but how did the titular creature get on the escape pod for the final scene? Like, seriously? How did the f*cking thing get past Ripley? And the closed doors? And that cat? Because that cat don't play. 

    The answer probably lies somewhere between "alien vanishing powers," and "there was no money to shoot the alien entering the craft wearing a fake mustache."

  5. 5
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    The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 18 Awesome Sci-Fi Movies That Got Away with Not Explaining Major Things
    Photo:  MGM

    Why doesn't the T-800 know what Sarah Connor looks like? This robot, or cyborg (or whatever), is from a future where Sarah Connor gave birth to John Connor and every computer in the world has that on record, but there are no pictures of Sarah Connor anywhere in their vast libraries of information? Not even a Polaroid of her from a friend's birthday? Admittedly, selfies weren't a way of life in the '80s the way they are in the 21st century, but it's ridiculous that the first quarter of the movie is spent watching a robot call people on a pay phone. 

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    The Back to the Future franchise is filled with major questions that either aren't addressed or shrugged off in passing. But the time travel nerd in all of us knows there's something inherently wrong with Back to the Future II. How does old Biff know how to use Doc's time machine? It's not like they give time machine lessons to everyone in 2015. And if they do, shouldn't there be a line where Old Man Biff says, "Sure am glad I took those time machine lessons?" And how does Marty not hear a Delorean with a jet engine going off?

    Please �� Explain ��  This ��  Robert ��  Zemeckis��

  7. 7
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    Shut up, nerds. David Lynch's Dune is great. But there's a huge moment that's glossed over with the biggest cross-dissolve in history. When Paul finally accepts his fate as becoming the boy witch of Arrakis (a decision we all must make at some point), he gets all the powers in the world, which is great; but no one tells the audience what's going on and viewers are left to fend for themselves in the final hour of the film. In a movie that loves a good voice over, this scene sure could have used someone to explain what the eff was going on. 

  8. 8
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    The Fifth Element is one of the most fun, stylish science fiction films of the 20th century. It deserves a place among the science fiction greats. But there's something kind of weird about the movie. You know the scene where Korben comforts the Diva Plavalaguna as she's dying and fishes the stones out of her body? How long was she carrying those around in her stomach? If she's a singer, wouldn't having a bunch of really heavy rocks in her body affect her voice? Surely, your body vibrates differently if you've carrying a hundred extra pounds. And why wasn't Korben more surprised? Maybe he'd seen enough weird stuff in the last week that an alien carrying ancient rune stones in its body wasn't a big deal. 

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