The 12 Most Insane Cliffhanger Episodes in TV History

Source: WB

To drum up anticipation for the next season, writers will often leave audiences hanging wondering what will happen next in their favorite TV shows.  The usual strategies are killing (or potentially killing) off a main character or revealing major plot twists.  Cliffhangers are also used to keep shows from being cancelled, hoping viewers will demand another season to find out what is in store for their favorite shows. Many series have used this tactic with great success in shows that vary from comedies to dramas, resulting in some very memorable cliffhangers in TV history. Check out some of the best here.

12. Friends

Ross (David Schwimmer) and Emily (Helen Baxendale) are preparing to say ‘I Do’ in London when Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) flies across the pond hoping to get Ross back.  After seeing Ross with Emily, she decides to hold her peace and take a seat to watch the nuptials.  Ross, however, says the wrong name and no one knows until the Season Five premiere what this means for Rachel and Ross, or Ross and Emily for that matter.


11. The West Wing

In the first season finale of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, audiences watch with horror as shots are fired on the President (Martin Sheen) but have to wait for the following season to find out who was hurt…or killed.


10. Dexter

Viewers witnessed Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) shooting LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) in the final episode of Dexter Season Seven. Instead of shooting her serial killer brother, she kills her boss and fans now know they’re just killing for the thrill, not for a righteous cause.


9. Homeland

Season Two of Homeland ends with a bang.  That is, a very literal bang as Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) are thrown when a bomb destroys the CIA headquarters during Walden’s funeral.  Carrie doesn’t know whether Brody caused the blast or Nazir.  One thing is for sure, these two will never be together.

Source: Showtime Network

Source: Showtime Network

8. The Americans

In the Season Three Finale, Paige (Holly Taylor) reveals that her parents, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russel) are Russian spies to her pastor (Kelly AuCoin). What do the ever resourceful infiltrators do now that their cover is blown?

Patrick Harbron/©FX/courtesy Everett Collection

Patrick Harbron/©FX/courtesy Everett Collection

7. The O.C.

O.C. fans were shocked when Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) is dying on the pavement in Ryan’s arms after their car is hit by drunken driver Kevin at the end of Season Three. Viewers were left wondering what her death would mean for the O.C. crew.


6. The Simpsons

In 1995, Simpsons’ fans had a grueling summer of waiting to find out who shot Mr.Burns.  Fans could call Fox with their guesses, but it’s doubtful many came up with the name Maggie Simpson.

TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

5. Lost

Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) allows himself to be drowned to help the group get home using the Looking Glass Station in the Season Three finale.  The audience then realizes that the flashbacks are really flashforwards.


4. Breaking Bad

Did Jesse kill Gale?  In the Season Three finale of Breaking Bad, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) goes to Gale Boetticher’s (David Costabile) apartment with the intent to kill him.  One shot is heard, but viewers have to wait until Season Four to find out if Gale is dead.


3. Vampire Diaries

Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) struggles to choose between Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley).  At the end of Season Three it appears that she drowned after driving off a cliff, only for it to be revealed that she survived, because she had turned into a vampire.


2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) throws herself into a portal that opens another dimension to save her sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) in the Season Five finale.  This episode was supposed to be the series finale, but the show was picked up by UPN and ran for two more seasons. Buffy is resurrected in Season Six.

Source: 20th Century Fox

Source: 20th Century Fox

1. Game of Thrones

The Season Five Finale of Game of Thrones left all viewers shaken and biting their nails until next season’s premiere.  Did Sansa and Theon overcome their fall and meet up with Brienne?  How will Daenerys survive her encounter with the Dothrakis?  Will Cersei go to war with Dorne over Myrcella’s death?  What does it mean for the seven kingdoms when characters are brought back from the dead?  And is this really the end for Jon Snow???

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

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