Most Shocking TV Cliffhangers

One of the benefits of getting hooked on a TV show is the possibility of surprises from week to week. While movies often have twists or shocking endings, the art of the cliffhanger is something that has been perfected by TV studios. There have been several famous cliffhangers, but the device was thought to have been first used in Dallas – which we’ll talk about later.

Since that day in 1980, the cliffhanger has been used both effectively and incredibly ineffectively – but either way, it piques your interest and makes you return for more. Here are some of the most shocking cliffhangers from TV history, and a bit about what made each of them so exciting. As always with this subject matter, spoilers inbound.

Game of Thrones: Is Jon Show dead?

There has been no show as popular as Game of Thrones in the six years that it has been on the air. Although we now take for granted the idea that we can watch as much of a TV show in one sitting as we want, the producers behind Game of Thrones have fought to preserve the once-a-week structure of each new season. They know their loyal fans will tune in.

Even though it took them six seasons to use a cliffhanger, they have truly perfected the art of suspense. The first true cliffhanger came in the final episode of season five, when we see Jon Snow stabbed by his Night’s Watch brothers and left for dead. As the camera panned out, Jon Snow lay motionless on the grounds of Castle Black, staring lifelessly up into the camera.

Since Game of Thrones was not in the habit of utilizing cliffhangers, people were shocked and spent the entire next year debating whether Jon Snow was still alive.


Sherlock: The Fall

Not many shows can pull off a cliffhanger where you actually know that everything is okay in the end. Sherlock did exactly this, when they had Sherlock fake his own death in order to take Moriarty down. Audience members knew that Sherlock was alive, but most of the characters didn’t, and everyone had to wait until the next season to discover just how he pulled off that magnificent feat.

Luckily, the premiere of season three brought all the answers that both fans and John Watson were seeking. We also got to meet John Watson’s fantastic new mustache, and beautiful new fiancée, Mary Morstan.

Breaking Bad: Hank finds out

Walter White became the epitome of the anti-hero in the six years that Breaking Bad was on the air. His fall from high school chemistry teacher to notorious drug kingpin was chronicled with reverence by the show, and viewers knew that it was only a matter of time before his actions caught up with him.

The final season was split into two parts to heighten the suspense even further, and the ending of the first part of season five was a major cliffhanger. The DEA agent Hank, who had been tracking Walter and also happened to be his brother-in-law finally realized that his target had been under his nose the whole time. Viewers had to wait until the final part of the season to find out what happened next.

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