Come Drown with Me in the Gaping Plot Holes of ‘FlashForward’


Despite its rather strange premise, I felt obligated to give FlashForward on ABC a chance because A) It’s not a reality show and B) It’s ABC, not Fox, so it’s more likely to not get cancelled midway though it’s first season. I also like to reward networks for take chances, unfortunately in this case, it’s a gamble that’s not paying off.

Without a doubt, FlashForward has THE MOST plot holes I have ever seen in one show, and this is coming from someone who’s watched Heroes for three and half seasons. All the holes stem from one central one: if people see their futures, many of them will do whatever it takes to change it.

Now, when this is something like, Back to the Future or Minority Report, where it’s one or a handful of people who have seen the future, it’s one thing, but when all seven billion people on earth see it? No f*cking way can you force this to make a bit of sense.


“Google if anyone saw me with permanent facial scars.”

What the show is already hinting at is that the scenes that people see in their lives six months from now will all be realized, whether the person wants it to or not, because either their need to make it happen, or the preventative steps to make sure it doesn’t, will all lead everyone right to where their flash forward put them.
Some may say, “Oh, that’s not true, they might be able to change it,” well guess what? That’s not going to happen. Try explaining away half the people changing their future and half of them not. Or everyone ending up in a completely different situation. Even for a show built on plot holes, those would be too big to ignore.
But if the future is inevitable, what’s the point of watching this show? To see the path of events of each character to get there, yelling at them whenever there’s an avenue they could clearly take to change the future if they really wanted?

Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about. The main character, and FBI agent named I-Still-Don’t-Know-After-Six-Episodes, has this “mosaic wall” that he’s built six months into the future, which chronicles a bunch of evidence pertaining to what cause the blackout. He’s using what he saw on that wall to build his investigation in present day. For example, if he saw the name D. Gibbons, he goes and finds whatever he can about D. Gibbons.

One thing on the board is a picture of a burnt doll, so when his investigation leads him to a doll factory, he’s not surprised. Inside there’s a firefight and bunch of dolls get burned. In the aftermath, he walks over to a crime scene photo guy who has just taken a picture of the doll. It’s the same picture from his board! “Get me a copy of that,” he says.

NOW, if the man really wanted to change the future irreversibly, and prove the flash forwards don’t have to come true, he could have done the following.

1) Delete the picture or break the camera

2) Stomp the dolls face in or throw it across the room.

That’s it. The entire scenario disproven. These actions would cause THAT PICTURE of THAT DOLL to never exist, and more importantly, never be ABLE to exist, because you couldn’t recreate a picture of that specific doll in that specific location ever again now. This is a small example of what I’m talking about, and has much larger implications for the show. So let’s get broader.


If you don’t know the context, this looks like a show about a man who fell to earth wearing a bullet proof vest and landed on a car.

A person sees their life in absolute tatters in the future, the prospect is so depressing that the person decides to kill himself, instead of trying to better his life. Might as well, right? Only this CANNOT happen, as the flash forward rules state that if you are dead in six months, you saw nothing, so there is something physically restraining this person form killing themselves, or really, dying in any way. The show might explain this away, with a botched suicide attempt, and intervening good Samaritan, or something like that, but logistically, there are going to be a TON of people who despise their flash forward, and between that and the current state of chaos the world is in, will try to kill themselves. You’re telling me absolutely all of them are going to be saved by divine intervention? And don’t even get me started on the guy who found out the date and time of his murder… GO TO ANTARCTICA, SIT IN A PADDED ROOM LOCKED FROM THE INSIDE, YOU’LL BE OK.

Lastly, there’s one more thing I just thought of after watching this last episode. Everyone knows exactly the date and time of the point in the future their flash forwards take place. So there is clearly from this point on, going to be a worldwide countdown to that moment, and you’re telling me that 99% of people seem to be just going about their daily lives right now? It would stand to reason that the more likely scenario would be 90% of the world sitting around going, “This is my flash forward, this is when my flash forward happened.”

This show does not make a goddamn bit of sense. I’ve spent this entire article talking about how vast and gaping the plot holes are, but I forgot the mention the crawling pace (where the HELL is Dominic Monaghan?), the other ridiculousness that lacks any basis in reality (since when does there need to be a congressional hearing to give the FBI a few billion dollars to keep open a website? And since when does websites COST a billion dollars?) and of course, the stupidity of the entire scenario they’re all trying to unravel. Just because something is a mystery, that doesn’t mean it’s worth solving, and I certainly won’t be sticking around FlashForward long enough to see just how right I am about all this.



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  1. The writers didn`t really think this through.
    THE biggest question would be if the future in your flash is inevitable.
    So you`ve probably seen your hand in your flash.
    Was there a tattoo of Itchy&Scratchy on it? No
    Well get one today! q.e.d. You can change the future!

  2. You’ve missed the point. I think. Maybe I missed it.

    The way the flashforwards work is that they’ve shown people a POSSIBLE future. Obviously given the advance knowledge of what is going to happen, people are going to change things. You used the example of Agent Guy (I don’t know his name either) smashing the dolls to prevent the picture from being taken. Well, he did do something similar; he burned the friendship bracelet his daughter gave him so that he can’t be wearing it in the future. Minor, yes, but it proves things will change (unless he is given an identical bracelet and forgets to burn it a second time).

    The ACTUAL plot hole comes from the fact the Agent Guy’s flash forward showed him working on the case to solve the flash forward, meaning that his vision of the future spurred him to act in the present which made his future true. It is a new spin on the classic time-travel-paradox where an object is created from nothing (Your future self travels back in time to give you a ball. A year from now, you travel back in time and give your past self the same ball. Repeat. But where did the ball originally come from? You’ve just been giving it to yourself in a recursive loop.)

    Otherwise, the BIG problem show is that they keep fucking flashing scenes from five minutes ago in case the viewer forgot something.

  3. @LAO

    I understand that the show is TRYING to portray it as a possible future, but I don’t think there’s any way the show can work if some people are able to change their futures and some can’t. I think the show is buildling to every event leading up to exactly what happens in everyone’s flash forward whether they like it or not, and somehow that seems like “intelligent writing” to them.

    So yes, he will get another bracelet. Mark my words.

  4. Right now I have to respectfully disagree with you. As a big sci-fi book reader, this could be spun in a whole lot of different ways. Also, the book that the show is based on, strangely also named “Flashforward”, has more flashforwards occuring. The difference is that the new flashforwards are different from the previous ones, especially with more people having NO flashforward, supposedly meaning they are dead. I have no idea if the writers have read the book (probably not), but if the do go with the multiple flashforward storyline, then people will realize that things can change in the future. That would clear up a lot, if not most, of the problems you have pointed out.

    Unfortunately, I have little faith that the producers or writers actually read the book (I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive), so you are probably correct that the show will end as a big clusterF’bomb, sadly.

    I mostly like the show, still a bit too much on the cheating wife scenario and other emotional/drama background. It’s also not doing well in the ratings, so it will become part of my personal graveyard of shows that I liked (and most importantly, saw from the beginning) that got canceled. Star Trek Next Gen- didn’t start watching until the 2nd season. Babylon 5- didn’t start watching until 1/2 way through the 1st season. Threshold- yep, from the beginning. Flashforward- yep, from the beginning.

    So you won’t have to worry too much longer!

  5. He already changed the future in a small way. The armband remember? No point in changing other things just for the hell of it. One seems more then enough.

    I also think it’s a bit harsh to judge the sho before we get the twist. They might give a nice theory on the future

    Also I am not sure where you heard billions. From what I remember the bitch senator said that they had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. And considering the site will probably have more visitors then facebook and youtube combined it seems like an acurate amount. And I wouldn’t be surprsed if they need a few more million to maintain it not to mention other operational costs

  6. i really like this show. in fact, i have a theory that this show is directly correlated to the last season of LOST. if you watched the first episode, there were some very not-so-subtle nods to LOST season one. i wouldn’t put it past the writers of LOST to create a whole other show just to tie it in.

    i am definitely going to stick with this one. according to last year’s comic-con rumors, dominic monaghan is coming back to LOST this season and FlashForward was to throw audiences off. i think some of the things you wrote are inaccurate and it almost seems like you haven’t really been watching the show. like, i don’t think the FBI agent is trying to change the future (aside from the drinking) but he honestly thinks that the clues he sees in his FlashForward lead him to solving the reason for the blackout. why would he want to dismiss or destroy the clues when he believes they lead to an answer?

    all in all, i think that this show was built for the LOST audience.

  7. if you read the book.. youll realized that the whole future changing paradox stuff isnt really a plot whole.. the point of the show is to find out who caused the flash fowards..

  8. Mhm, hehe.

    Yeah, after seeing the first episode I thought about the most simple way to explain why the Plot doesn’t work.
    My current explaination would be this:

    Step 1: Take a woman with long hair who was in a crowd at the moment of the flashforeward and that may people saw. (like a teacher)
    Step 2: Cut her hair.

    Future saved.

  9. It’s possible we don’t even know what the show is really about… much like seasons 1 and 2 of LOST. What I mean by that is this:

    When LOST started, the last thing on our minds was time travel, fertility issues, possible Egyptian gods, or non-aging characters. These all came to be (apparently) important concepts to the mythology of the show. FF will probably do the same thing.

    It would be comfortable to know whether or not the show has an ending, or at least an idea of an ending as LOST did when it was conceived.

  10. what you’ve failed to point out is..

    Joseph Fiennes is the shittiest actor to actually breathe air.. i watch the show for the comedy of his laughably stereotypically bad portrayal of a tormented ex-drunk fbi agent..

    watch this dildo.. does he ever not arch his brow?? or have that “deep thoughts” look on his face?? just watch his facial expressions.. then when he opens his mouth to expel those lines in that community college thespian voice.. it’s like a bad SNL skit..

    think of a bad version of Starsky & Hutch..

    Courtney B Vance fits that profile too.. to a T..

    and the lesbian agent is dropped in there just to make it “edgy”.. LOL..

    this show sucks.. no doubt.. but it’s not just because of the plot holes….

    i watch it.. but for the pure comedy… it’s like taking a huge smelly dump, and laughing about how bad it actually smells.. it’s crap, but funny..

  11. The book that the show is loosely based on explains it well. Lots for hard sifi that I dont think would work on a primetime TV show. I would very much urge and sifi fans to read the book by Robert J. Sawyer or listen to the audiobook.

  12. I’m still watching this show, gods know why. I think, in part, to see how much they can tie up all these crap-tacular threads by april. I’m tired of the affair subplot, and the… aww hell, most of the plots I don’t particularly care for, to be honest. And on that note, I ask this….
    WTH can they do with a show after April? Can you rinse and repeat for a second season, with another blackout? Will this be a running theme? As in “Oh, hey, it’s September, lets not go out so I can pass out on the couch… so I can catch my husband sleeping with the babysitter in 6 months.

  13. It’s possible the writers don’t know how they are going to forge the path to the ‘possible futures happens or does not happen’ conundrum. Or maybe gaping plot holes are the new age plot twists.

  14. Okay, I was going to write a whole long response to this about the gaping holes in YOUR article (rather than the show), but I think I will keep really long winded comments to myself. All I will do is beg you to look back at all of the popular sci-fi/mystery series there have been in the past 5-10 years and think about their first 6 episodes… Lost, Heroes, 24, Battlestar Galactica, any of them…. Granted, they may have developed plot holes later on, but is it not the whole point of these series to come across with the APPEARANCE of plot holes in the beginning to keep their audience guessing?? That’s how shows pull you in: right when you think you know what’s going on, they totally change your reference point completely.

    Not to mention the fact that you obviously are not experienced in the classic film use of time travel beyond your menial references to Back to the Future. I don’t think this show has stated for a fact that all of these visions will come true. In fact they have been very open with hints that it could go either way. And yes, the show still functions if only SOME of the vision come true. Why you may ask? Because, yes, there will be people that just sit at home and try to avoid their future (and may succeed), but others (like our main character guy) truly believe it is their destiny. He will drive towards it no matter what because he truly believes it will bring the answer. Yes, he must have been able to get these clues the “first time” without visions to be able to start the loop of his reference to his flash forward, but I feel the show has given great subtle references to where he may have found most of his leads without the help of his vision. His daughter knowing something about D. Gibbons, the German guy sending in his information, the entire Mosaic website etc. All the evidence is there already, he’s just using his vision to try to get to it faster. And the validity or invalidity of these visions and their implication of “destiny” really doesn’t matter in the plot, because the plot is trying to find out WHO caused this to happen, how they did it, and why it was beneficial to them.

    For example, (assuming time travel is possible) if I told you that I was from the future and that next week on Wednesday at 5:00pm you would be robbed, there’s a few thing you could do. You could stay at home with some friends with guns, you could just go about your life and forget about it, or you could try to get more information to find out who it was going to be and find a way to catch them before they do it. Hypothetically, none of those thing invalidate the fact that had I not said anything you still would have been robbed. And on that note, this implies the possibility that none of those actions could stop it either. Now you have a choice on whether you want to try to change the future or not, but actually changing the future it not entirely up to you beyond small details (like tearing up a picture). Tearing up a picture did not stop the existence of what was already there. The doll factory was there, a lead was there, tearing up the picture wouldn’t stop that from happening.

    I admit, Flash Forward is not the best show on TV right now. And yes, I doubt it will last beyond a first season. But I think it is WAY too early to start proclaiming such large plot holes as you are suggesting. This is classic storytelling technique: you give your audience something that APPEARS impossible, and then justify how it really did happen. The WHOLE POINT of these new types of extended mystery shows is to hold you in the “guessing” moment as long as possible (usually several seasons). Look at freaking LOST! I’ve been totally lost on that show for years now, but you can’t deny that it’s still a halfway decent show….

    I respect your opinion dude, and your right to post it here, but you sound like a 14 year old preaching about the injustice of loosing your recess time. Grow up!

    ….I guess I was long winded despite. Couldn’t help it, sorry…

  15. You all are missing the point. The show is NOT about the flash forward!

    They said the will reach the flash forward in the first season! So the show then will take a complete new direction for the next seasons.

    Like lost:

    S1: what are we doing here
    S2: 4 8 15 16
    S3: the others
    S4: flash forwards (haha)
    S5: time travel

    FF will take the same path…


  16. the absolutely ONLY thing that bothers me about this show is the fact that the lesbian’s flash-forward shows her getting an ultrasound… however the flash-forward is supposed to be at 10pm PST which is a pretty late hour to be having a pre-natal check-up. of course, i placate myself by thinking she is in another time zone or it was a special circumstance. this show has promise. and to all the people that say “where will it go after season one?”… who cares? what’s wrong with them creating a one-season show? it’s better than letting it run until it’s crap like some other shows.

    @Jake- thanks for writing a compelling argument…. also, @Josh – i know the writers of LOST wrote it… that’s why i said that i wouldn’t put it past them to develop this entire show to tie-in with LOST.

    and also, to all the people that are bashing it… why watch it? i love how the show unravels like LOST….

    there are shows out there that are for the masses and mindless and there are shows that make your brain work. sadly, most americans aren’t into cerebral activities.

  17. I also feel there are plot holes, but I don’t think the premise of the show is by itself a plot hole. (As suggested, a lot of people won’t like their flashforward. One of them is going to go kill one of the people they saw in the future. However we, the audience, haven’t seen that yet, so we don’t know how that plays out.)

    As far-out as the premise is, my general rule is to grant the author suspension of disbelief for one thing, however major it might be. But even if we don’t understand the starting point, the story should unfold logically from there, or we just can’t identify with the characters.

    My particular gripe (and who knows, maybe it will be resolved… in fact since I watch on hulu which has a time delay, maybe it already has been resolved) involves crows.

    The FBI gets a key piece of information that crows had died. The tip checks out… because the audobon keeps a world wide census of crows on a web site, and the bird census folks obviously didn’t have anything better to do with their time other than count crows. Not like anything earth-shattering occurred, right? Except the line on the graph shows a decline. Now an absolute drop-off to zero.

    Everything else about the flash forward seemed to be global, not local. But despite a large scale death of crows, which wasn’t global, only one person seemed to have noticed and mentioned it to the FBI. (Scientists have been checking on gamma ray fluxes and things like that, according to one line in the script — wouldn’t someone have taken an interest in the dead crows?)

    That’s minor enough I might skip over, but now we’ve postulated something in the past. In one particular area, apparently the following happened: people blacked out; crows died; strange sci-fi looking towers were built.

    Of these three facts, which one was entered into a database where the FBI could find it later as a clue? Yep, you got it, the one about the crows. The other things apparently weren’t very important.

    I’ve always called this Ludlumesque plot twists. (After Robert Ludlum, who wrote griping spy/action novels as long as you didn’t think too much about the plot and were willing to be swept along to the dramatic conclusion.) Clue A by itself leads t clue B in a logical fashion. But given what Clue B tells you, Clue A shouldn’t have happened by itself. It’s logical for the clue about the crows to lead the FBI to the other events. But it’s bizzarre that no one investigated those other events previously.

    What was described above I wouldn’t call a plot hole but a premise hole. For me it’s still entertaining enough that I’m watching it, but it’s getting close to the cutoff line.

  18. here´s the big problem for me:

    everyone´s flashforward shows people going about their everyday lives, not knowing that that´s their “flashforward moment”. EXCEPT for agent whats-his-name, who WAS WORKING IN THE CASE and knew the date and time of the flashforward.

    if he was studying this case, he not only KNEW THE TIME AND DATE (the exact opposite of the REST OF THE WORLD) but also knew that there would be guys in ski masks and big guns after him. (quick parenthesis: everyones flashforwards were in a 1st-person view, except for agent whats-his-face, wich has several cameras and editing)

    imagine that moment, 6 months from now: agent whats-his-name is obessing about the case, drinking and stuff. he knows the flashforward is coming. his boss, the black guy, goes to the toilet to take a sh*t, in the EXACT TIME of the flash forward. he is reading the newspaper, and the main story is not “FU*K THIS IS IT! FLASHFORWARD IS TODAY!!!”

  19. I totally agree. There are a lot of plot holes. I also wanted to add that in the episode where Janice stops the mole at FBI, Simon figures out that she’s a mole in that same episode. Then he disappears for awhile, so we think, “oh, Janice did something to him” or whatever. Then, he just COMES BACK!! He doesn’t say a word about Janice’s involvement, and he acts like nothing ever happened!! AAAH!!!

  20. This show does have lots of plot holes and which can be explained(well most of them I believe was done to make a significant effect OR leave viewers guessing).

    Firstly, agent benford, the male lead, trying to omg omg save me omg please 17 countryside road please omg soemonecall the cops pls omfg please HELP ME THERE’S SOMEONE DOWNSTAIRS PLS HELP CALL POLIC PLS PLS I BEG YOU PLA

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