14 Great Movies With One WTF Subplot

List Rules
Vote up the most inexplicable subplots in otherwise great movies.

No matter what some movie fans will try to tell you, no film is perfect. Even the undeniable masterpieces of the artform have flaws. If they didn't, George Lucas wouldn't have tried to improve on the original Star Wars multiple times over the years. And many great films have one subplot that just defies all reason.

For example, why did the Nolan brothers and David S. Goyer decide to have an accountant try and blackmail Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight? And why did Rocky Balboa decide to give Paulie a robot butler in Rocky IV? And why did Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios decide to force a Thor: Ragnarok subplot into Avengers: Age of Ultron for no reason? The following scenes aren't a reason to dislike the movies they're in - they just stand out as odd inclusions in otherwise fantastic movies.

Vote up the random subplots that made you raise a bit of an eyebrow.

  • Honestly, you can chalk this one up to the fact that Rocky IV was released in the mid-1980s - and there is nothing more ridiculously mid-'80s than putting a robot maid in a movie. It's the way of the future, man! Alas, the future people were envisioning in the 1980s didn't really come to pass. Take one look at the 2015 of Back to the Future Part II and you'll see proof of that.

    If you want to go back and watch Rocky's iconic showdown with Ivan Drago, you'll have to struggle through the subplot where Paulie is given a robot by everyone's favorite boxer. This little machine butler has become such a sticking point for Rocky fans over the years that Sylvester Stallone caused a bit of a stir in 2020 when he announced he was working on a director's cut of the film that cut the robot entirely. This caused the robot's creator to lash out in response, claiming Stallone was trying save money... so just a lot of hubbub over a movie character 35 years after the fact for no reason. The aforementioned robot-less version, retitled Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago, was released in 2021.

    104 votes

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  • If there was ever a subplot to seemingly come absolutely out of left field, it is the one involving the characters of Dez and Edele Hansel from 2006's Running Scared. Bruce Altman and Elizabeth Mitchell star as the married couple who apparently spend their free time kidnapping children so they can do unspeakable things to them? For a relatively straightforward action/thriller about Paul Walker's Joey trying to recover a stolen gun used to execute two cops, this plot thread feels entirely out of place.

    Running Scared isn't a black comedy or a horror film - so why is this couple involved at all? As soon as they appear, Vera Farmiga's Teresa arrives to free her son as well as the other kids before killing the couple after they bribe her with $100,000 worth of diamonds. It is a momentary detour that is somehow both the most memorable and the most forgettable thing about the movie.

    62 votes

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  • 3
    119 VOTES

    Saving The Racing Animals From Captivity In 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

    Star Wars "fans" have found numerous reasons to hate on The Last Jedi in the years since its 2017 release. While many gripes people have with the sequel aren't really all that justified, one major problem that stands out with the film is the entire sequence that takes place at Canto Bight. As if Rose needs to teach Finn, a former child soldier brainwashed into being a stormtrooper, that the universe is an ugly place.

    On one hand, it is awesome to see a group of downtrodden kids help Rose and Finn escape the casino town. On the other, watching two Resistance heroes in a pointless, extended chase scene atop the race horse-like Fathiers isn't exactly the best idea in the middle of a Star Wars film. There is a lot to like about Rian Johnson's effort to try something a bit different with the Star Wars franchise, but this scene certainly isn't one of them.

    119 votes

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  • If there has been a Marvel Cinematic Universe film that struggled to handle the weight of setting up other movies in the franchise, it is Avengers: Age of Ultron. After the Scarlet Witch gets inside the minds of the various Avengers and they retreat to Hawkeye's family home, Thor decides it's a good time to run off and find Dr. Erik Selvig to set up Thor: Ragnarok. Nick Fury is busy giving the Avengers a motivational speech and Thor is nowhere to be found because... he has to go to a cave and have a vision about the future?

    Between Age of Ultron and Destiny's infamous "loot cave," the mid-2010s were a great time to be a pop-culture cave. The Avengers sequel runs for nearly two and a half hours and was always going to suffer from the prerequisite MCU plot distension, so throwing in a pointless vision about Ragnarok that doesn't even match the tone of Taika Waititi's 2017 film feels even more useless. But, hey, at least we all got to see Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off again. We can't go too long in the MCU without that majestic sight.

    64 votes

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  • While the excellent fight scene choreography and simple storytelling of the John Wick franchise continues to be an excellent boon for the series, what made the movies stand out from the jump was the engaging and realistic world they inhabit. We wouldn't be getting a television series that dives headfirst into the hidden world of assassins if this wasn't the case. With all this in mind, what the heck was going on with the magical desert in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum?

    Halfway through the movie, Keanu Reeves's eponymous hitman heads to a desert because he is told the only way to find the Elder (the only person who sits above the High Table that wants Wick dead) is to roam in the sands until he cannot walk anymore. You know, something that makes no sense. Again, the world Wick and his cohorts inhabit is relatively grounded, which makes this addition to the lore of the series stand out all the more. It is a subplot that feels like it belongs in a completely different film series.

    76 votes

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  • Nobody watches Michael Mann's 1995 classic to see Kevin Gage's Waingro. That's not a knock on Gage's performance - he's quite good as the sadistic scumbag - but in the grand scheme of Mann's screenplay, the dude is only a bit player. Waingro is only really in the film as a plot device: He murders a guard at the beginning of the film for no reason, which sets everything in motion, and he continues to exist in the story to give Robert De Niro's Neil McCauley a reason to not leave town immediately at the end of the film for dramatic tension.

    So, is there a point to Waingro's murder of a teen prostitute at a motel? Is anyone watching Heat and going, "Yeah, I think Waingro is a good guy" before that point in the movie? Heat is almost three hours long as it is... couldn't they just have cut the subplot out entirely? Give us more Pacino, De Niro, and Val Kilmer, thank you very much.

    58 votes

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