These days, it feels like every show on TV is competing for the biggest, buzziest season finale each year. Whether it is a surprise twist, the reveal of a big mystery, or the fate of a character being left up in the air, writers utilize cliffhangers to ensure that viewers will spend all summer obsessing and then tune back in when the show returns. These fifteen cliffhangers are some of the most shocking, insane, and frustrating cliffhangers in TV history: some changed the game, some were never resolved, but they all left viewers with their jaws on the floor.
Game of Thrones – Season 5: Is Jon Snow Dead?
Game of Thrones is known for fast-paced action and shocking twists. Still, few season-ending cliffhangers left Thrones viewers as shocked as the fifth season finale, which left off with one of the series’ main protagonists, Jon Snow, stabbed to death by members of the Night’s Watch. What was particularly agonizing was the nearly yearlong wait for the sixth season premiere. Game of Thrones had made a point of letting the audience know that no character was safe as far back season one when Ned Stark was shockingly beheaded in front of his own daughters. Even so, Jon Snow had become perhaps the series’ most iconic character, and producers swore over the long break that Snow was indeed dead. In truth, he was resurrected by the end of the sixth season’s second episode.
Alias – Season 4: “My name isn’t Michael Vaughn.”
Before Lost, J.J Abrams was behind ABC’s intense spy-thriller Alias, which starred Jennifer Garner as CIA agent Sydney Bristow. The series made a name for itself by expertly executing insane plot twists and white-knuckle cliffhangers during nearly every episode. In particular, no show did season finales quite like Alias. For four years, Sydney worked alongside her one-time handler Michael Vaughn, who eventually became her fiancé. In the fourth season finale, the happy couple are driving to Santa Barbara after Sydney accepts Vaughn’s proposal. As the two make plans to elope, Vaughn interrupts that he needs to tell Sydney the truth about something – he says that they didn’t meet by chance, and that depending on whom she’d ask, he could be considered a ‘bad guy.’ “For starters, name isn’t Michael Vaughn.” Before Sydney can react, they are in a head-on collision.