When Sons of Anarchy debuted on FX in 2008, it was an immediate hit for the network. It focused on the title motorcycle club working out of the small California town of Charming. It was a Shakespearean tale, as young Jax Teller takes over leadership of the club his father had once run. Jax soon finds himself struggling to move the club towards a better future as their dark past keeps pulling them back.
While motorcycle enthusiasts obviously loved the show, regular viewers were enthralled by its powerful stories, excellent cast, and stellar writing. For seven seasons, the show was a success with fans and critics alike, even as it produced some thrilling television.
Yet like any long-running TV show, SOA had its share of problems. Some plotlines failed to connect as well as the producers hoped and were seen as letdowns. Some of the “surprising twists” just didn’t work and the bumping off of some popular characters angered many fans. There’s also how the show seemed to take some baffling turns that created huge plot holes and confusing twists.
The final season was marked by several subplots being ignored or left unresolved, which make it harder to enjoy the show for fans who were committed to years of mostly excellent TV. Here are 15 of the biggest plot holes from SOA that marred an otherwise entertaining series—fair warning, many spoiler alerts ahead.
SAMCRO constantly reinforces how the club is the first loyalty of all the members. Yet that doesn’t explain just how far the members are willing to go for that. Even after learning Tig was responsible for his wife’s end, Opie continues to work alongside him. Ditto for Clay and Jax, after each tried to take out the other for leadership of the club. There’s also how the loyalty tests for new members seem to involve just doing trivial tasks. Plus, there's the blind faith they all put in Jax despite how so many of his plans go sideways in the worst way possible. With just a few exceptions (such as Clay), the crew still hangs together when logic states they should be at each other’s throats.
The passing of John Teller dominates the first season of the show. While he seemed to meet his end in a crash, Jax suspects something else. That grows when he reads some letters of his dad indicating he wanted to move the Sons out of the criminal life. It’s soon indicated Gemma and Clay tampered with the bike because they didn’t like John’s plans. However, later seasons see Jury White reveal that John knew of the plan all along. He felt that a sacrifice such as that could shock the gang into getting out of their criminal ways and move on. It seems like a bit of a cop-out and the show never explains what exactly happened to a key character given all that build-up.
Wayne Unser was always a great character for the show. The local police chief, he regularly turned a blind eye to the Sons’ activities while still trying to maintain order. He’s clearly a veteran approaching retirement age when in Season One, he reveals he has cancer. That seemed to add more to the character, struggling to face his end as he steps down from the job. However, Unser keeps working with SAMCRO and even running interference with other cops. The only real effect of his illness is needing to sell his house and move into a trailer to pay for treatments. His end isn’t even due to the disease at all, which makes it confusing to saddle him with the weight in the first place.
The final scene of the show has Jax taking a ride on the freeway ahead of a pack of cops. He then ends up being creamed by a semi-truck. It’s a bizarre end already but made all the more so because of who’s driving the truck. Milo is played by Michael Chiklis, best known for starring in FX’s first dramatic series hit, The Shield. He had been introduced in a previous episode, giving Gemma a ride to her father and they have a nice talk. That he’s the one who ends Jax seems more than a bit suspicious, especially given how Jax had just punished Gemma. It just seems too much of a coincidence that a big name actor plays a guy who just randomly finishes off the main character.
Whenever Jax or Gemma were considering some rash action, they would suddenly meet up with a strange homeless woman, played by Olivia Burnette. Her presence was bizarre and she seemed to just come and go without warning. A major fan theory is that she’s the ghost of Emily Putner, the woman who perished in the same crash that killed Jax’s dad. There’s also how she’s an angel preparing to carry people over to the other side. Her final appearance has her handing Jax a blanket and telling him, “It’s time,” before his fateful ride. It may seem strange but given that SOA was always a Shakespearean tale, an actual ghost would make sense—and yet, the lack of an answer still confuses fans.
Gemma was no saint by any means but she crossed the line in the final season after taking out Tara. She clearly loved grandsons Abel and Thomas and would often talk to Jax about ensuring they didn’t follow him into the biker life. In her final appearance, Gemma bids her grandsons goodbye as they go to live with relatives. She then gives Abel a Sons rings, seemingly ensuring he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps. After all the pain the club put her and her family through, the idea that Gemma is okay with her grandson following that path makes little sense. She would want them to be their own men rather than the path that ruined their father.
Played by veteran Annabeth Gish, Aletha Jarry showed up in the final season as a cop helping investigate SAMCRO. She and Chibs immediately hit it off and Jax soon pushes Chibs to use Jarry for some information. This leads to a hook-up that many fans of the show find utterly laughable. They have a fight about how, as much as she likes Chibs, Jarry is a cop at heart and can’t just keep supporting the Sons. She does tell Chibs about the APB on Gemma and that’s the last we've seen of her. It’s left up in the air if they broke up or if Jarry met a darker fate. Either way, it’s a confusing end to an already confusing relationship.
It’s one thing for the populace of Charming to put up with the Sons, considering all the chaos they cause. But it makes as little sense for the crew to use Charming as their base of operations. Given all the various activities they’re into, picking a town of 14,000 people makes the Sons really big fish in a really small pond. It also makes it a lot easier for the law to keep track of them, as proven by the many investigations the show involves. SAMCRO would be better off relocating to a larger city where their actions can be easier to overlook. They may prefer sticking to their home locale yet from a business perspective, Charming is too small a place for the club’s actions.
A major plot for the entire show was Jax fighting to get the Sons out of their various questionable activities and into legit sources of money. This led to his ownership of Diosa, which, to be as polite as possible, is a “house of ill repute.” Jax talks a lot of how this is a great legitimate source of cash that doesn’t stray into the wrong side of things. Except that it does. Between their various “services” and some other antics, the ladies of Diosa are involved in numerous activities banned by California statutes. And that's not to mention how disturbing it is to be making money off Diosa's business. Jax’s claims of Diosa being a “clean break” for the Sons just don’t ring true.
In Season Four, Juice finds himself being targeted by Lieutenant Roosevelt as part of his plan to take down the Sons and the IRA. It seems Juice has been hiding how some of his past heritage is African-American. This is a huge violation of the longstanding SAMCRO rule against letting anyone of such a background into the club. Juice is clearly shaken by this enough to agree to be a mole. The thing is, the club really hasn’t shown any tendencies to care about that. They work with scores of other ethnic groups. Jax clearly is open-minded enough to bend the rules on Juice, so his fear of an outdated law negates a lot of the plot.
A sad tendency of the show was to build up subplots and then drop them way too quickly. A major example would be the Church Land plot of Season Seven. After accidentally taking out a minister, the Sons try to make up for it by protecting the man’s wife and family. This leads to conflict with boss August Marks, who wants the church’s land for his own enterprises. It looks like it’s going to build up to something big but instead, the Sons easily get Marks set up and taken down. That’s the last of the entire plotline, as Marks never returns and his crew just lets the land go. It’s confusing that the show started this plot with no end in sight.
Margaret Murphy was Tara’s supervisor at the hospital and the two would often clash on rules and behavior. Margaret was just a normal woman when she and Tara were nabbed by some rival bikers. When Tara claimed Margaret had nothing to do with it, the crew's leader pulled up Margaret’s shirt to reveal her entire back covered with tattoos. It turned out Margaret had run with a biker club in her youth, which nearly cost her her life. She cleaned herself up and says she keeps the tattoo, “As a reminder of what I left behind.” Given how tight the biker culture is, the idea that Margaret could keep this so secret seems unlikely. Plus, it’s never mentioned again, making it a strange turn.
From the start, the entire partnership of the Sons and the IRA never made any sense. First off is the idea that a bunch of Irish guys were going to pick a motorcycle gang in a small California town to work with, especially since Chibs was excommunicated from the IRA. Also, given how much of a federal risk the IRA are, the Sons are bringing huge heat on themselves with this deal. That’s proven by the ATF investigation by Stahl that wreaks massive havoc on the club. Even after the IRA takes his son, Jax still seems willing to work with some factions, which is even more confusing than how this deal ever got started in the first place.
When one looks at SAMCRO’s history, it quickly becomes clear that they’re more trouble than they’re worth. It’s easier to count the number of deals and schemes they’re involved in that don’t go massively wrong. Indeed, a few of these deals can devolve into huge messes and often get law enforcement involved in no time. Yet somehow, various organizations feel it’s fine to work with the Sons as if they have a terrific track record. When things do work out, it’s more just pure luck than any actual smart business moves the Sons make. While it’s obvious how the show had to keep going, it makes little sense why the Sons are seen as good business partners.
The fourth season of the series builds up to what looks to be a major showdown between the Sons and the US Attorney’s office. The main attorney is about to lead a huge bust on the crew at a deal when the cartel shown earlier in the season shows up. They reveal they’re actually CIA agents and call the bust off, as they need the Sons to track down a bigger fish. This twist came out of nowhere and basically allows too many of the subplots of the season to be written off without consequences. Even the show’s biggest fans slammed this turn as a major deus ex machina that was clearly just used to get the crew out of a jam.
Sources: TV Tropes, IMDb, and The AV Club.