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TV Show Plot Holes Confirmed By Creators

Don't let the "South Park" manatees fool you, TV writing is hard! Unlike movies, which can take years to film, television shows often begin production while some of the episodes are still being written. You're at the mercy of the network for things like budget and runtime, and oftentimes, shows don't know if they'll be coming back until it's time to start writing again. There's no way to plan. As a result, long-running shows can sometimes fall to plot holes. How is a writer supposed to keep dozens of episodes of information in their head at all times?

Now, what the internet thinks is a plot hole and what a writer admits can be wildly divergent. Armchair critics risk sounding like the nerd on "The Simpsons" that complained about Scratchy's rib producing two different tones when played as a xylophone. But there are plot holes that even writers, directors, actors, and showrunners can cop to. Let's take a look at some of them.

Whither Dr. Marvin Monroe?

Speaking of "The Simpsons," that show has had lots of continuity whoopsies over its three decades. Sometimes the Simpson house has a rumpus room, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the old Simpson farmstead burned down, sometimes it didn't. When did Homer and Marge get married? You are in for a world of hurt asking that question, buddy. But one plot hole that actually got addressed on the show was the fate of Dr. Marvin Monroe.

Monroe was first introduced in Season 1's "There's No Disgrace Like Home," when he treats the Simpson family for its dysfunctionality. He shows up sporadically from then on — sometimes as a talking head on TV, sometimes pulling a Frasier and hosting a radio show. But in "Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 2," we hear that Burns is being treated at the Marvin Monroe Memorial Hospital. His death is confirmed in the "138th Episode Spectacular," and we see his tombstone in the episode where Maude Flanders dies. But he shows up alive and well in the Season 15 episode "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife." Monroe explains his absence by saying he had just been "very sick" for several years.

In DVD commentaries, showrunner Al Jean explained that they originally killed off Monroe because it was very stressful on Harry Shearer's voice. In "Treehouse of Horror XXV," the writers once again draw attention to Monroe's plot hole status by claiming that the character exists in a terrible limbo between life and death.

Morgan Matthews' long time out of Boy Meets World

"Boy Meets World" is another show that directly addressed a plot hole in dialogue. At the start of the show, the Matthews family had three kids: Eric, Corey, and little sister Morgan. Played by Lily Nicksay, Morgan leaves the kitchen to watch TV in Season 2's "Home." And that was a series wrap on Lily Nicksay!

This happens on sitcoms. Regular performers leave the show and no explanation is given for their disappearance. Fans call it Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, after the lost older brother of Richie and Joanie on "Happy Days." Kate on "Angel," Judy Winslow on "Family Matters,' and Topanga's sister Nebula have all lost their battles with this deadly syndrome. Morgan Matthews eventually recovered, although she was played by a different actor.

When Morgan reappeared halfway through Season 3, she explained her absence thusly: "That was the longest time out I've ever had." It makes sense that "Boy Meets World" would hang a lampshade on this plot hole. The show was never shy about meta humor, explaining that the rules of "The Flintstones" would apply directly to Cory's dilemma in Season 4's "Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound Men" and acknowledging that new character Kenny would be first to die in the slasher parody "And Then There Was Shawn," as he just wasn't as important as the rest of the cast. Both Morgans cameoed on "Girl Meets World" to really hammer the joke home.

Who was filming the Pawnee Parks Department?

"Parks and Recreation" was a spiritual successor to "The Office," and as such, had that classic mockumentary style. The staff of the Pawnee Parks Department explains important plot details in talking heads, the camera is always a beat behind trying to chase the action, and when things get dicey, you know somebody is going to look directly at the camera. But unlike "The Office," "Parks and Rec" never explained who was doing all this documenting.

Furthermore, there were some pretty big inconsistencies with what people would really feel like sharing on-camera. Would Ron Swanson really consent to be filmed for seven years? He refuses to give any medical information to a doctor, but signs a waiver to let someone film that exchange? Doesn't add up.

Co-creator Mike Schur told The A.V. Club that "Parks and Rec" was always less slavish to the mockumentary format than "The Office." "At 'The Office,' we had incredibly strict rules about how it could be shot, how it could be edited, and how the actors should be," he said. 

"Parks and Rec" used some of the clichés of documentaries because of the storytelling options it affords. "[I]t's a device for showing the ways people act and behave differently when they're in public and private," Schur explained. "You can see people behaving a certain way around the corner or through some blinds, then you can interview them and they'll spin like crazy, hiding their feelings."

How many kids does Constance have on AHS: Murder House?

In the first seasons of "American Horror Story," people didn't know what to expect. The anthology style of the show hadn't been announced, every other character turned out to have been dead the whole time– real cats and dogs living together insanity. One piece of weirdness that stuck in viewers' craws was Constance Langdon's children. How many did she have?

Jessica Lange's unhinged Southern belle mentions that she had four children while living in the house. During the season, we meet three of them: Tate (Evan Peters), Addie (Jamie Brewer), and Beau (Sam Kinsey). So who's the fourth?

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk acknowledged that they were short one Langdon kid at a 2012 Paley Fest Q&A. "We know who the fourth child is, it was something that we had written and talked about and removed," Murphy said, via The Hollywood Reporter. "But we have not lost sight of the fourth child...But we do have that story and that's something we'd talked about. That was the one thing that we did not answer but we want to answer that." The "AHS" crew did eventually fill this plot hole, giving us the eyeless Rose Langdon in "AHS: Apocalypse."

The X-Files: Mulder's wife?

The Season 5 episode of "The X-Files," "Travelers," was a big deal for several reasons. It featured actor Darren McGavin, whose "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" TV series was a big inspiration for Chris Carter in creating the show, per Yahoo. The episode shows McGavin's character, Arthur Dales, founding the titular X-Files. The episode also paid tribute to blacklisted screenwriter Howard Dimsdale, who, after being denounced as a communist in the '50s, wrote under the pen name Arthur Dales. But Mulder/Scully shippers remember it best for Mulder's wedding ring.

The episode takes place in flashbacks (and flashbacks-within-flashbacks). As Gillian Anderson was busy filming "Fight the Future," the episode takes place before Mulder and Scully ever met. In several scenes, Mulder is clearly shown wearing a wedding band. But Mulder never mentioned having been married, getting divorced, or having any manner of spouse abducted/eaten by space lizards/whatever.

David Duchovny copped to including the wedding band in this flashback ep. "That was just me, you know, fooling around," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I had recently gotten married, and I wanted to wear it." When Chris Carter noticed, he wasn't pleased. Duchovny defended his decision by saying it was "so Mulder" to have a (former?) wife he never discussed.

Moms trapped in the basement on Pretty Little Liars

"Pretty Little Liars" wasn't exactly known for its tight continuity. How did Charlotte bankroll all those life-size dollhouses? What did Maya know? How did Ezra never lose his teaching license? The world may never know, even with a reboot in the offing. But one plot hole was explained by the show's creator, I. Marlene King. 

In the Season 6a finale, A.D. locks all the liars' mothers in one of her trademark basements of horror. How are the moms going to get out of this one? We never found out, as the show did a five-year time jump with all the mothers safe and sound. Nia Peeples, who played Pam Fields, even joked about the moms-escaping-the-basement Noodle Incident in the series finale. The mystery finally, maybe, got solved on Shay Mitchell's Instagram stories. 

Mitchell visited the "PLL" museum at Warner Bros. in 2017 (via Glamour), and she grilled King on how the mothers got out. "[The moms] were in there a long time and they had to probably climb on top of each other," King said in Mitchell's stories. "Pam ... had to take her clothes off, and they put oil on her and slid her out of the window." Is this a real answer, or confirmation that there never was a real answer to that question? Let's just say it wasn't King's A-game.