I am having a question roughly along the lines of the following in mind:

What are the inevitable plot holes in Frank Herbert’s Dune writings?

I read the first Dune novels in pretty quick succession and while the universe is consistent at large, there are a few prominent plot holes, such as discrepanices on the nature of navigators or the requirements and effects of pre-born-ness. Given the nature of the novels, in particular their reliance on consistency, these were unpleasantly confusing to an extent that in my opinion justifies the efforts of creating a list of them. Having such a list would have been something I would have welcomed and also would like to have for a possible re-read.

Hence I am asking: What are the generally acknowledged plot holes in Frank Herbert’s Dune series? To keep the list short, useful and subjective, answers must comply with the following criteria:

  • It’s really a plot hole, i.e., it’s relevant to the plot and not just an athmospheric side note. For example, if somebody’s hair colour changes without explanation, this is only a plot hole if it is relevant to the plot.
  • It’s really a plot hole, i.e., there is a clear contradiction here, to which no satisfying in-universe explanation exist. In particular, plot holes of the “why don’t they?” type are not permitted. Preferrably, the plot hole is generally accepted. [Alternatively: There must be a question about it on this Stack Exchange that did not came up with a good (insert vote criterion) in-universe answer.]
  • It occurs within the six original Dune books by Frank Herbert. Short stories, deleted passages, the Dune Encyclopedia or writings by Brian Herbert do not count into this.

For those not familiar with Dune: This is about six books by one author, who did seem to strive for consistency, and just seems to have failed to remember certain aspects. I personally estimate the number of such plot holes to be between five and twenty. I am not suggesting that asking similar questions about the Star Wars, Star Trek, the Discworld or Doctor Who would be a good match for this site (though some claim that there is a small finite number of plot holes in the new Doctor Who).


  • Would such a question be acceptable?
  • Would the answer to the above question change, if I only allow for answers “backed-up” by another SciFi.SE question?
  • If such a question in any form is acceptable, how should the answers be organised? One anwser for everything or one big community-wiki answer?

2 Answers 2


We generally say a small finite list question is acceptable.

Can everyone agree on the definition of a plot hole?

A plot hole, or plothole is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that creates a paradox in the story that cannot be reconciled with any explanation. These include such things as illogical or impossible events, and statements or events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.

I know sometimes people call poor writing plot holes, where it is really just poor writing.

  • I can agree with that definition. (Also, I do not think one has to draw a line between plot holes and poor writing. Excluding the rare case where plot holes are introduced for good stylistic reasons, they are poor writing.)
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2015 at 8:28

No, the question you're planning to pose is not acceptable.

  • Without border or boundaries, it's basically an open-ended list. There's no "right" answer. Dumping it as a community wiki doesn't make it any more suitable.

  • While finite lists are acceptable, something which could end up running to tens or dozens of entries would not be acceptable. Your estimate is a pure guess.

  • Your definition of a plot-hole is fluffy, at best. One man's mistake is another man's stylistic choice.

  • "What are the generally acknowledged plot holes in Frank Herbert’s Dune?" - Acknowledged by who? And if there's general acknowledgment elsewhere, what's the point of replicating that list here?

  • Concerning the last point: If there is some working explanation around it, it’s not a plot hole anymore. This does not mean that it’s a good explanation. Then it’s not generally acknowledged anymore. Concerning your third point: I consider it safe to assume that Herbert did not intentionally introduce inconsistencies for their own stylistic sake (though he may have intentionally introduced them to make his plot work at all). And even then, it’s not any less a plot hole. Finally: Would your verdict change if I restricted answers to issues addressed in other questions (see my edit).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2015 at 8:26
  • 3
    @Wrzlprmft - Not really. Then your question just becomes a compendium of answers that you or others felt weren't answered to their own satisfaction. Ignoring the fact that that's pretty rude, if you feel like that then the appropriate thing to do is to deal with it on the original question, by researching your own answer, commenting or creating a bounty.
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2015 at 9:05
  • This is seems to be based on the assumption that you can fill any plot hole if you try hard enough. However, at times, an answer can be satisfying if it states “yes, it’s really a plot hole, you did not misunderstand anything”.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2015 at 17:10
  • @Wrzlprmft - No, but merely nit-picking and listing off issues that you feel haven't been dealt with to your own expectations are best left to chat or possibly your own blog.
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2015 at 17:29
  • What makes you think that I feel that some issues haven’t been dealt with to my own expectations?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:01
  • @Wrzlprmft - Because you said so in your original question; "There must be a question about it on this Stack Exchange that did not came up with a satisfying answer"
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:53
  • I see. I considered it clear from the context that satisfying answer referered to in-universe answers only. We could even replace the satisfying with some reasonable vote criterion.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2015 at 21:00
  • @Wrzlprmft - But then you're back to my earlier point. If you don't like the answer on a particular question, it's not a worthwhile endeavour to catalogue them elsewhere.
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2015 at 21:03
  • Again, why would I not like the answer?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 14, 2015 at 22:56
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2015 at 23:11

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