Prometheus Plot Holes

Warning, this post is literally nothing but spoilers for Prometheus. I mentioned in my review that the script had numerous plot holes, and I really need to vent them out, so I’ve listed them below. Do not read this until you’ve watched the film, and if anyone can fill the holes in for me please go ahead. I repeat, do not read this post until you have seen the film.

1.    Why is David riding a bicycle and shooting hoops? Is he trying to impress someone? I understand why he’s developing language skills, as he’s researching things as yet undiscovered, but what’s with the sports? He’s a robot!
2.    When Holloway sees the lines on the planet that prove the alien presence, why does no-one suggest scoping the area out for a while? Even just a little fly around would have been nice.
3.    What exactly are the holograms for? David starts one in the caves and another on the Space Jockey deck, but who are they for? They’re useful for him and us, but who made them? They could be some kind of ship’s log, but if so couldn’t someone have said that in one line of dialogue?
4.    When Shaw, Holloway, David and Ford flee the caves, outside there’s two go-karts and a minibus. Two get on each of the karts, and no-one gets into the bus, yet they all drive off (at the time we assume Fifield and Millburn are in there). Who is driving it? You could argue that there’s a nameless crew member that stayed behind as a driver, and headed off to avoid the storm slightly too early for the others to get in, but there’s no proof of this.
5.    Once David has rescued Shaw and Holloway, Janek mentions they don’t know where Fifield and Millburn are, but there’s a map showing their position! He uses it in the next scene. Plus, Janek seems pretty lackadaisical about two members of the crew being stranded on an alien planet. He practically says LOL. Also, how convenient is it that everyone has a surname beginning with a different letter?
6.    Why does David cave in to Vickers’ threats? He’s a robot, there’s not a lot she could do to him.
7.    Millburn the biologist is supposedly cowardly, as he is easily convinced by Fifield to run away at the site of a decapitated body (understandable), and later when he hears there’s a lifeform somewhere nearby, he says he’s heading in the opposite direction. So why, when he and Fifield go to the vase chamber, does he suddenly want to make friends with the alien there? He can’t even see the entire creature, so for all he knows it’s some giant beasty with a strange proboscis. Why did they even decide to stay in the cave full of weird bubbling vases anyway? It’s the exact room, with the dead decapitated body outside of it, that they ran away from earlier.
8.    Millburn and Fifield die when no-one is watching the monitors, because Vickers and Janek are getting it on in her quarters, right? Firstly, how come Janek didn’t order someone else to watch the monitors, and secondly, even if no-one was there, don’t these guys have TiVo? Just rewind the feed and see what happened. We have it in 2012; I’m guessing it’s still around in 2094.
9.    Why did Janek, the captain and pilot of the ship, go to investigate the disappearance of Millburn and Fifield? Surely he’s pretty integral to the running of the ship.
10.What exactly was David’s plan with the black goo? He gave some to Holloway in his drink; did he know he would have sex with Shaw and impregnate her with an alien? If so, why did he do that too? Was he curious, or trying to kill Holloway? Why?
11.Why did the infected Fifield come back to the ship to try and kill everyone? He was the one character I really wanted to die, and he’s the only one who came back to life! Typical. I thought Millburn would have come back with a chest-burster in him, seeing as an alien went down his throat and Fifield had his face melted with acid. Also, why did they go out and investigate Fifield’s clearly dead body (the helmet is smashed with a deadly atmosphere, and his legs are bent over his shoulders) seeing as there’s no way he could have just turned up there on his own, being dead and all.
12.Why does David tell Shaw she is pregnant? If he wanted an alien specimen, surely telling her will just make her try and abort it, and if he wanted to kill her, then not telling her will result in the alien bursting through her stomach and killing her that way. Being pregnant with a baby alien was probably the last thing she was expecting, especially seeing as she was barren and had only had sex 10 hours ago and not before for 28 months.
13.After she wakes up from being sedated by David, Shaw finds it pretty easy to escape from the medics and run to Vickers’ quarters with no-one chasing her. No-one comes for the entire time she is in there.
14.After the impromptu caesarean I could have done with a scene of Shaw breaking down from the intensity of what she’d just gone through. In the past few hours she’d lost her husband, found out she was pregnant when she thought she was barren, discovered the ‘child’ was in fact a killer alien, had a caesarean whilst fully awake and watching it, had the cut literally stapled shut and then fought the creature that had just gestated inside her. I’d say that warrants a little exasperation.
15.Did I miss a scene where everyone on board found out about, and was cool with, Peter Weyland being on board the ship? After Shaw’s surgery the rest of the crew seems OK with him being there. It was pretty damn obvious he was going to be onboard too, seeing Guy Pearce was highly billed in the opening credits. Stop doing that kind of thing. And making Vickers his daughter is pointless, unsurprising and ridiculous.
16.Ripping David the android’s head off is a nice nod to Ash’s fate in Alien, but is it possible for a robot to survive one of these films? Please?
17.When Vickers and Shaw are running from the crashing spaceship, why in the name of LV426 do they not run sideways? I hate when films do this. There’s something rolling behind you in a relatively straight line, so instead of getting out of the way you decide to race it. Insane. Shaw only survives because she trips and rolls out the way. I did like that the last two alive were the two main women, just like in Alien, and similarly the blonde dies and the brunette survives.
18.Shaw’s air supply is supposedly running out at the end of the film, yet she’s barely been away from the ship. Earlier, Fifield and Millburn were away for longer, and were expected to survive overnight when they got stranded. Yes, they were in the chambers with breathable atmosphere, but they had to keep their helmets up because it was going to get cold, so they must have had to survive on their own air supplies.
19.The alien that Shaw had aborted grows pretty fucking huge seeing as it’s had no organic matter to feed on other than a little blood Shaw left behind.
20.At the end, Shaw is told that there are other ships. Does she check them all for surviving Engineers, or just leave in the first ship she finds? I’d have much preferred that the final shot be of her silhouette, with an axe in one hand and David decapitated head in the other, heading off to take out the surviving aliens.
Wow, I didn’t realise I had so many problems with the script. Am I being too harsh? Or stupid? Was a lot of this explained? Let me know.
*EDIT* Thanks to everyone for all the comments and page views so far, the response I’ve had from this is phenomenal. It turns out my list of plot holes wasn’t quite complete, and many of you have posed a few more. I’ve tried to give credit where it’s due, but apologies if I’ve left someone off. Also, some of these get a bit science-y, and I’ve not researched any of the theories, so please don’t shout at me if they’re wrong. Sections in brackets are from me.
21.   How exactly did they manage to reanimate a head that’d be dead for several thousand years? I’m pretty sure in 77 years time that technology isn’t going to be available. Also, why did it explode? – Anon
22.   Organic molecules do not form in oxygen-rich running water. – Anon
23.    It’d be nice if they’d clarified at some point why the Hell the Engineers wanted to kill humans, and why did they think that the black goo, which creates a completely different, far more dangerous race, would be the best way to do it? (Personally I think it was for sport.) – J/Michael Shaw
24.   The DNA was a perfect match, yet the Engineers are big, bald and pale. (My personal theory is that had the physical differences are due to environmental differences between Earth and LV-223 in terms of gravity, proximity to the Sun, etc.) – J
25.   If the Engineers created humans, did they also create all the other life on Earth? From what, and how are they all different? Did all the different species evolve from that one Engineer? If so, how are we all different? – J/areanimator
26.   The crew are really very unprofessional and lacking in protocol for such an important and well funded mission. (Perhaps these were the only people willing to sacrifice 5 years of their lives for a wild goose chase.) – Anon
27.   Could they not have detected the oncoming storm, seeing as they just arrived from space? And don’t they have larger versions of Fifield’s ‘puppies’ they could send down to scout out the terrain first? (Hell, can’t they send the ‘puppies’ into the caves from the safety of the ship? There could have been aliens waiting just inside the cave for them.) – Anon
28.   You can’t run around after having your body cut open to your uterus, even if the wound was closed with some stitches. Your body goes into complete shock, the stitches cannot make up for the fact tissue was cut and muscles were cut which are essential for your core, and by extension for your body to perform any kind of walking movement. – Anon
29.   The two co-pilots at the end didn’t really need to kill themselves. They say Janek is a bad pilot (really? Weyland paid a fortune for a crappy captain?) but he doesn’t really do a lot of piloting, in fact he even says “Hands off” of the steering to crash into the ship. There’s also apparently a member of Weyland’s security who doesn’t go down to the planet with Weyland and co, who Janek is essentially killing at that point too, but fair enough it’s for the good of humanity. – Anon
30.   Why do the cryo-beds have a function that allows David to see their dreams? (Possibly to see if they’re in distress or suffering some kind of psychological trauma from the cryo-sleep, but that’s a stretch). – Beta Max
31.   Why was the medical machine only male-calibrated? OK, it was probably there to operate on Weyland, but it makes little sense to make machinery just for men or women. – Anon
32.   How did the Engineer survive the toxic LV-223 atmosphere without a helmet when he attacks Shaw at the end? He must have needed the helmet to breathe, yet made it from the crashed ship to Vickers’ crashed pod pretty easily.  – Anon
33.   Why was it a secret that Weyland was on his ship, and why was it pegged as a surprise reveal that Vickers’ was his daughter? (Hollywood tension-generating bullshit.) – Anon
34.   Why did the Engineers point all the ancient civilisations towards a military installation? (My guess: the Engineers thought we might have come back all guns blazing, so sent us to a battle-ready moon/planet instead of their home world.) – Anon
35.   Once they discover that the Engineers have the same DNA as humans, they don’t make the logical connection that what killed the Engineers will probably kill the humans too, and no extra quarantine methods or safety precautions are put in place. – Areanimator
36.   The Engineers were running away from something, yet ran towards a room full of deadly black goo that presumably they manufactured. (The room had the giant stone head in, meaning it could be of religious importance, and they thought prayer was their only option at that point. Alternatively, they may have been running towards the room to trap the black goo inside.) – Areanimator
37.   The hologram of Earth resembles modern Earth, rather than how it looked at the damn of man. –The Movie Waffler
38.   Why did Weyland think he could just rock up to an alien moon, have a nice chat with the Engineers and that they could give him immortality? (He was nearly dead, so was probably grasping at whatever straws he could reach.) – Anon
39.   Apparently the Engineers were trying to leave LV-223 because it had all gone wrong, but how? There was no trace of active aliens on the planet. (They may have been trying to seal off the experiment going wrong into the cave with the vases, but one Engineer tripped and got decapitated by the door?) – Lisa
40.   After decapitation, David’s head manages to stay pretty damn close to his body, even after takeoff, crashing and rolling all over the place. Seems pretty unlikely unless the white ‘blood’ is a damn good glue. – Christophe Abi Akle

Oh, and for those of you looking for a more informed, science-based look at the gaping holes woven together to form the net of this film, check out Stephen Gaskell’s post over at Creepy Treehouse.

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213 thoughts on “Prometheus Plot Holes

  1. Be fair, it's more than 2. I've had this debate with someone else, and most of them can be read as being plot holes, and very few of them were resolved in the script to my knowledge. Plus, the characters having different lettered surnames was more of an aside on another point, and was just something I found amusing, before realising that in fact there was a character called Ford (Kate Dickie) who was in the caves at the same time as Fifield, so it seems Damon Lindelof would have failed Screenwriting 101.

  2. When they checked the age of the aliens head (or helmet really…)You can't use carbon dating on creatures in an alien atmosphere. Carbon dating works on earth due to that sun rays are creating C-14 in the same pace as they are decaying for a certain concentration of C-14. This concentration needs to be known in order to use carbon dating. The atmosphere in the alien ship is totally new to the crew and if no new c-14 is created within this ship its fair to assume that the c-14 would decrease in the air in the same rate as in the dead bodies./Oderion

  3. One question that is driving me insane. Did I miss something? Because I'm 100% positive that after the alien ship nearly landed on Shaw and Vikers, Shaw's suit said "warning, 2 minutes of oxygen remaining" before she made her way back to the ship, was attacked by the alien guy, then went back outside. It was already more then 5 minutes after the suit had gave her the warning, yet she was able to breathe perfectly fine, and even make her way all the way back over to the alien ship? I get that they can breathe inside the alien ship, but to my understanding they could not outdoors, which is why they kept putting their helmets back on when heading back to the ship. Did I miss something? Did she manage to refill her oxygen supply when she got back to their ship, or are we just supposed to assume that she did or she changed suits? lol.

  4. re: #29>but he doesn’t really do a lot of piloting, in fact he even says “Hands off” of the steering to crash into the ship.In motor racing it is standard procedure to take your hands off the steering wheel when you realise you are going to crash. This prevents your wrist from being broken due to high g-forces when you slam into something.Since the three guys know nothing much of them will remain after the crash, this "Hands off!"-command is actually not the worst of jokes.

  5. Why is it that this film is under such a microscope? People are clamoring to point out any little questionable detail like the bratty kid at a magic show. Hardly any of these are plot holes – and it ain't like the original films were perfect either. It's this film and TDKR. Like for some reason people got it in their heads that these films were inherently infallible, and feel proud picking them apart to excess. And most of the time their claims are nothing more than stupid questions/assumptions that could have a million possible answers. It's getting pretty boring.

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  7. David needed the dream reader to communicate with Weyland, who was too weak to wake. There's a scene where David is shown communicating with Weyland using the dream helmet. Spying on the dreams of the others was just curiosity/fun. It is implied that if he had wanted to, David could have had in-dream conversations with any of the crew members at any time; instead, he chooser to be a passive observer, likely to try to gain an upper hand over the humans that constantly treated him like shit.

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