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.