The Most Frustrating Cliffhangers Ever

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.

This is the type of picture Stephen King would staple to his bedroom wall.

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.


22 thoughts on “The Most Frustrating Cliffhangers Ever

  1. Alphas. I loved Alphas so so much. And then they cancelled it. Same with The Secret Circle. Two extremely good series that ended with so much potential and then they just stopped. I won’t give away any spoilers for anyone who chooses to watch them, but both series end with a bang and a major cliffhanger, yet neither were able to fulfill it. I wanted to cry.

  2. I don’t really know if this counts or not, but a favored online author left all her fans (including me, of course) on the edge of our seats, 40 something chapters in, and peomptly disappeared, without warning. Worse, she had been working on another novel as well and had left that at a cliff hanger as well. It was terrible. For more than a year, she was gone and we had no clue what had happened.
    Then two days ago she was back, and of course I happy danced all over the place.

    1. That sounds horrible. I’m not sure how’d I react if someone did that to me. Sure I”d be happy, but first I’d be commenting in all caps saying “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!”

      1. That’s what happened! In seconds, there were hundred of comments asking where she’d been and cheering over her arrival. It was very intense and I think I cried at the new chapters >.<

  3. I loved Dexter but the very end of the series really sucked big jobbies!! I won’t tell you what happened in case you are still watching but it was really stupid and unbelievable. 😦

    1. Indeed. Also, you just reminded me of the ending of Gliding All Over, where the fans had to wait almost a year to find out how Hank would react. I didn’t start watching until the beginning of this summer, but that was still one hell of a cliffhanger.

  4. Ooh, that cliffhanger was probably a big reason I disliked Catching Fire.
    And speaking of cliffhangers, I’m wondering how Desolation of Smaug will end. I’m gonna see it this afternoon and the ending will probably be weird since they’re chopping up the book.

    Pff, a 1998 birthday. Young whippersnapper, I was around in the Dark Ages. 1996!

    1. I haven’t seen either of the Hobbit movies yet, but if I were to guess, I’d expect the second movie to end right before Smaug attacks Esgaroth. My guess is that the first movie ended right after Bilbo escaped the goblins.

      1996? Is it true that dragons were still around back then? I can’t be sure.

  5. Wow, you were really born in 1998? Here I am, thinking all along that you were at least a year or two older than me (I was born in 1996). Mind blown.

  6. I can assure you that it has in fact been torture waiting for the 3rd season of Sherlock. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait but a couple of weeks for the second to show up on Netflix when I first got into it. It’s been so long that there have been memes created around all of the things that would come back before the 3rd season of Sherlock. Harry Potter is a popular one.

  7. The thing about Reichenberch is that, when Doyle was writing the short stories, he decided he was tired of writing Sherlock Holmes, and so he invented Moriarty to kill him off. That’s the Final Problem, if you ever do read the things. Holmes and Moriarty wrestle beside a cliff, and they both fall over. Public outcry demanded Holmes be brought back, so Doyle brought him back. Hence the episode.

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