One of the most commonly used plot devices in TV shows, books and movies is the cliffhanger, and it’s pretty easy to figure out why. This list is not about the best cliffhanger endings (that would be Breaking Bad’s Crawl Space, no doubt), this is about the cliffhangers that have you yelling at the screen/book, saying “That’s It?!”
Caution: Spoilers for, #2, and #4 below. Read at your own risk. #1 and #3 are only vague spoilers. Read at your own risk.
1) Catching Fire.
I remember seeing this with my friends who didn’t read the books (they’ll all on Team Gale by the way, because “he’s so much hotter”), and they all loved the movie—except for the ending. They were all bummed that they had to wait another year to see how the story ended, so I was more than happy to announce that the third book was being split into two movies, which I’m sure they were thrilled about.
Most people’s problem with Catching Fire is that it can’t stand on it’s own, unlike Mockingjay and The Hunger Games. The book spends the whole time building up to the revolution, and it ends right as the real story starts.
2) The Waste Lands, by Stephen King.
The third installment of Stephen King’s so far amazing Dark Tower series ended with the main characters trapped in a super intelligent, evil, suicidal train that plans to kill them. This book may as well have stopped in mid-sentence.
But that’s not the worst part. No, the worst part is in the section after the story ends where Stephen King promises that the next book would come out in the “Not-too-distant future.” It took him SIX YEARS to write the next book.
One of the perks of being born in 1998* is that I don’t have to wait six years for the next installment of the series. Wizard and Glass is sitting right next to me as I type, and I can start it any time I want. For some reason, when I know I could read the book at any time, the urge to read it is not as strong. I’m sure if I was around to read this book when it first came out, I would by dying to read the next installment.
3) BBC’s Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall
My second favorite episode of the show, this episode is the most shocking one yet. Or at least for those who haven’t read the books, which would be me. (Don’t judge me; the whole thing’s like two thousand pages long.) We see Sherlock jump off the building. We saw his arms flail around, and the next thing we know we hear his body hit the ground. John comes running over (not before hitting a suspicious biker) and sees Sherlock’s body, and checks his pulse to find none. All the evidence points to the fact that Sherlock is, in fact, dead.
But he’s not, as shown in the final scene. How? The fans are given two full years to try and figure that out. TWO YEARS. *Cries.* I’ve had it easy, since I’ve only gotten into the show about six months ago, but I can only imagine how the people watching it live must have felt.
4) Flashforward: Future Shock
Does anyone remember this show? It played on ABC from 2009-2010. I was looking for a show to replace Lost, (which is the king of cliffhangers, by the way), and this was the closest thing to it. This show wasn’t nearly as good, but it was still entertaining and had en excellent premise: one day, for two minutes and seventeen seconds, the entire world blacked out at once. People just collapsed on the spot, and while they were out, everyone saw a short vision of where’d they be on March 28th, 2010. About six months later.
It’s up to the main characters to find out what caused the flash forward, and also to deal with the troubling things they saw in their visions. One character was being attacked by masked men, one saw herself having an affair, another character saw herself being drowned to death, and one character didn’t see anything at all.
I don’t remember everything that happened in that episode, but I remember a bunch of things exploding, a bunch of revelations being made, and it ended with another flash forward. It was a huge cliffhanger, one that had me counting the days until the next season aired.
Except the next season never aired, because stupid ABC canceled the show. I (and a bunch of other heartbroken fans) will never get answers.
So what were some cliffhangers you found particularly frustrating? I’m sure I missed a few. And more importantly, how long did you have to wait for the next installment of the series?
* Another advantage of being born in 1998 is getting to brag to younger kids that you were born a millennium before them.