To be candid, I love cliffhangers as much as I hate them. Nothing quite compares to the adrenaline rush and nail-biting suspense delivered by a well-executed cliffhanger. However, some shows simply take the art of cliffhangers to another level. Here are 19 shocking cliffhangers that left me reeling.
The Disappearing Act – Stranger Things
The first season of Stranger Things concluded with a heart-wrenching cliffhanger when Eleven seemingly sacrificed herself to save her friends. The haunting image of her vanishing into thin air left fans anxiously waiting for the next installment.
The Breaking Point – Breaking Bad
This moment in Breaking Bad had me gasping, as Hank discovered Walter White’s true identity. The DEA agent, while hanging out at Walter’s house on what seemed to have been a perfectly mundane day, goes to use the toilet, picks up a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and discovers that his brother-in-law was the drug lord Heisenberg.
The Lost in Time – Lost
Lost’s Season Three finale has to be one of the best-executed cliffhangers in TV history. The episode takes us through various scenes of a depressed and suicidal Jack Shepeard, which we assume are flashbacks. However, at the end of the episode, Jack tells Kate Austen they must return to the island, indicating that the scenes were flash-forwards and leaving the audience with unsolved mysteries.
The Red Wedding – Game of Thrones
Nothing could have prepared me, and I’m sure the 5.2 million other viewers, for the Red Wedding scene in Game of Thrones. The brutal massacre of the Stark family at the hands of the Freys and Boltons has to be one of the most gruesome scenes in TV history, with an unforgettable emotional impact.
The Dark Nightfall – Sherlock
In the finale of Sherlock’s Season 2, the brilliant detective, being cornered, is shown to have jumped to his death. What’s perplexing however is that Sherlock reappears alive and healthy before the end of the episode. This moment left fans in shock and eagerly speculating how he survived.
Who Did Negan Choose? – The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has always been known for its shocking moments, but the cliffhanger at the end of Season 6 took it to a whole new level. Negan’s deadly game of ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe’ kept us guessing the identity of his victim until the Season 7 premiere.
The Last Supper – Dexter
Season 4 of Dexter concluded with a jaw-dropping moment as Dexter’s sister, Deb, discovered the truth about his dark secret while standing over a pool of blood. This cliffhanger forever changed the dynamic of the series.
J.R.’s Assailant – Dallas
Very few scenes can match the suspense created by the end of Dallas’ Season Three finale. J.R., the main character, is shot twice by an unseen assailant. J.R. drops to the floor and we are left with the questions of whether he survived the attack and who pulled the trigger.
The Final Battle – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In the climactic Season 5 finale, Buffy sacrifices herself to thwart a hell god’s apocalyptic plans. This shocking cliffhanger left fans on edge, anxiously awaiting her resurrection and the fate of the beloved Slayer.
Take thee Rachel – Friends
Admittedly, I didn’t think Ross and Rachel’s off-and-on relationship was really going to end for good, even as Ross prepared to marry Emily in the Season Four finale of Friends. While I expected that the wedding would be disrupted by Rachel, it was Ross himself who did the deed when he uttered the iconic sentence “I Ross, take thee Rachel.”
The Secret of the Tattoo – Prison Break
Prison Break is a show that likes to keep viewers in suspense, with this suspense reaching its peak as Season 2 concluded with the revelation of Michael Scofield’s secret tattoo. The intricate design held crucial information for the escape plan, leaving viewers wondering how this ingenious plot would unfold.
Car Accident – Supernatural
Most TV shows leave their most brutal cliffhangers for later seasons when momentum has been built. Not Supernatural, though. The show dealt viewers a harsh blow in its first season. The finale episode ends with a tragic car accident that left the Winchester brothers unconscious, and the audience holding their breath.
The Return of Dale Cooper – Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks left fans hanging for 25 years until its revival in 2017. The biggest cliffhanger was Agent Dale Cooper’s fate, trapped in the mysterious Black Lodge. The revival finally answered the question, revealing a dark and twisted journey that left fans both satisfied and haunted by the show’s enigmatic conclusion.
The Telling – Alias
JJ Abrams is mostly known for creating Lost. However, the filmmaker also worked on Alias, a show that has its fair share of shocking cliffhangers. Particularly notable is the Season Two finale in which Sydney brawled with an imposter posing as Francie. After shooting the imposter, Sydney collapses and mysteriously wakes up two years later in Hong Kong.
The Heist Goes Awry – Money Heist
The second part of Money Heist reached an electrifying climax when the Professor’s masterful plan seemed to crumble, and a crucial team member faced imminent capture. The high-stakes heist took an unexpected turn, leaving fans anxiously waiting to witness the unfolding consequences.
Who’s Zooming Who – Grey’s Anatomy
Grey’s Anatomy gave the perfect setup to Meredith and Derek’s relationship. An entire season was spent exploring the development of the romance between the two, only to reveal at the finale that Derek was married all along.
What Kind of Day It Has Been – The West Wing
Prior to the finale of the first season, much of the suspense in The West Wing was from political tensions as opposed to violence. The final episode however shows a scene of President Bartlett being attacked by gunmen, sparking chaos and panic. The audience was left speculating on the outcome of this attack for several months.
The Firefly’s Fate – Firefly
In only one season, Firefly managed to captivate audiences, but it was the final episode’s cliffhanger with the mysterious message that the crew was going to “see Mr. Universe” that left fans craving more. The blend of humor, adventure, and intricate characters in this sci-fi gem left viewers desperately hoping for a continuation that sadly never materialized.
Emergency – Green Wing
In a wildly comedic yet tense cliffhanger, the medical sitcom Green Wing left audiences in stitches and suspense. After Guy Secretan discovers that he’d just slept with his mother, he steals an ambulance but loses control. The episode ends with the ambulance hanging in the balance off a literal cliff.