->'''Meep:''' We've been falling for quite a long time, haven't we?\\
'''Doofenshmirtz:''' Oh, right, joke about the commercial break. That's really how I want to spend my last few seconds!
-->-- ''''WesternAnimation/{{Phineas and Ferb}}'': After a commercial break in the middle of the two characters plummeting to their doom.''

A CliffHanger that is set just before a commercial break, to ratchet up the suspense within the given episode. It's used to keep viewers' attention on the screen -- preferably all through the commercial break -- lest they miss the crucial moment of resolution. Some reality shows do this as well, normally right before big announcements of winners or people getting kicked off.

If done well and used with discretion, it can really draw out the suspense. However, there are also quite a few ways it can go awry:
* When American shows not made for {{Creator/HBO}} (which doesn't have commercials) are broadcast in countries where the frequency of commercials is lower, or when an American show goes out on [[Creator/TheBBC BBC Two]] or is released on DVD, with no commercial breaks at all. This results in dramatic cliffhangers which fade out... then fade back in right away, sometimes [[AdBreakDoubleTake repeating the last line said before the break]], which, if you're any bit familiar with the SaturdayMorningCartoon during an age such a thing existed on network TV, was prevalent to the point of ubiquity.
** Conversely, the BBC as often as not now makes shows with an eye to the export market, and ''deliberately introduces'' Commercial Break Cliffhangers to make the show more palatable to overseas commercial channels (or UK cable channels, as there are some that screen BBC shows with commercials). Which just looks completely jarring and ridiculous when screened for domestic consumption on the BBC.
* When a show does this too often, especially if it also tends to return from the break and [[ViewersAreGoldfish review what just happened before the break]] before the resolution. Viewers will catch on and see it coming a mile away, which may cause them to preemptively lose attention and change the channel. Particularly frequent in game and reality shows, which has caused this trope to become somewhat of a DiscreditedTrope in those genres.
* When the EyeCatch or AdBumpers causes accidental MoodWhiplash, completely killing the tense mood.

PseudoCrisis is a specialized version of this trope. Compare ChargeIntoCombatCut, when the show cuts to an unrelated scene at the beginning of a fight.


* Believe it or not, this is actually done with a Gushers commercial! [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3LSqlydf9k This is the full commercial]], and the cliffhanger usually takes place halfway through.
* A 2014 ad campaign for Stanley Steemer (a professional cleaning company specializing in carpets) comes in two parts, one airing toward the beginning of the commercial break and the other toward the end. One example: a young couple (dressed in casual clothing) is shown rearranging the furniture in their living room only to be bemused by the contrast between the very clean cream-colored carpet areas where the furniture used to be and the ashen carpet that had been exposed at the same time. That commercial ends. The second half shows a Stanley Steemer employee steam-cleaning the carpet, then the couple (now dressed professionally) looking at their sparkling clean living room with great satisfaction.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* While often combined in anime with the {{Eyecatch}}, this can occasionally backfire. An example is the dramatic cliffhanger reveal of Rau Le Creuset as a clone in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'', the rather dramatic conclusion of his long expository rant revealing several significant bits of backstory to the series' universe. The characters that are witness to this reveal are shocked...only to suddenly cut to a completely unrelated and relatively cheery eyecatch of another character playing in a meadow, thus providing the audience with the dramatic equivalent of a face-first, high speed collision with a brick wall.
* ''LightNovel/{{Slayers}} Next'' usually uses these quite well. One memorable instance occurs when dramatic tension mounts until Gaav is about to attack the gang, Martina appears and the main characters scream "MARTINA!" in comical fashion. Cue cheerful EyeCatch, followed by Martina making a complete fool of herself to her signature comical tune. They don't always work very well though - the cliffhanger/eyecatch combination jarringly backfires when Lina casts the perfected Ragna Blade and Gaav looks worried for the first time, almost ''afraid''. The dramatic mood is sliced to bits by the cheerful EyeCatch.
* ''Manga/FruitsBasket'' also made good use of [[{{Eyecatch}} eyecatches]], creating different ones to fit the episode (even having two separate ones for either side of the commercial break. For the latter darker episodes, fitting plain black eyecatches were used.
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' does this sometimes. Usually, it's only once an episode or so, though.

* ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' was originally shown in theaters with an intermission. The scene immediately before the intermission? Dave and Frank talking in the pod, thinking HAL can't hear them...and HAL reading their lips.

* Parodied in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' after Ax, the only alien on the team, has been watching too much Earth TV. He says something dramatic, then freezes in place. When the others ask him what he's doing, he responds that he has to remain silent until they get to "These Messages", at which point the others realise he's doing a "soap take".
* In ''Literature/{{Redshirts}}'', the writers of ''The Chronicles of the Intrepid'' have a tendency to have someone say something dramatic before cutting to commercial. What the character says and does once the Narrative lets them go is much more sensible.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In general, ever since the success of ''Series/WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire'', game and reality shows frequently use this in an attempt to [[WhoWantsToBeWhoWantsToBeAMillionaire emulate its success via heavily dramatic presentation]]. By the late 2000's, nearly every (new) game and reality show would do it at every available opportunity. It seems to have lapsed into cliche territory around the turn of the decade, and critics (and fans) will now often trash a show for trying to do it too often. Even ''Millionaire'' itself seems to have become the victim of SeinfeldIsUnfunny in this aspect (especially since the American version didn't actually use the cliffhanger that much. As for other countries, however...)
* Chris Tarrant, the UK presenter of ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' has a reputation for dragging out the "Is that your final answer?" bit until he can announce a break immediately after the answer has been confirmed, but before he says if it's correct. This includes Judith Keppel's million-winning question, which led to frustrated gasps from everyone else. There even was one instance in which he was about to announce the final answer, but the siren went off and Chris declared we'd have to wait until tomorrow!
** Similarly, Eddie [=McGuire=] of the Australian version was infamous for cutting to commercial before announcing correct answers, and was the subject of many a parody for this.
** Also the Japanese version is notorious for this like other Japanese on-studio shows for cutting to commercials before revealing the results without the studio's awareness. After a contestant locked in an answer on a difficult question, the host stares at the contestant for a minute give or take before he reveals if he/she answered correctly or not. A commercial break interrupts sometimes during the drum roll.
** On the other hand, the American version averts this; the closest it ever got to happening there was if a contestant switched out a high-level question and the replacement is only shown after the break, and even then, the answer to the first question was shown before cutting to commercial.
* Japanese game shows in general get their own example. Quite often, they will smash cut to commercial in the middle of a game round with no warning, especially if the main game is nearing its conclusion.
** BONUS ROUNDS, on the other hand, are the MOST GUILTY offender. Take ANY Japanese game show with a bonus round where [[OneHitPointWonder any wrong answer ends the game in a loss]]. If it cuts to commercial at any point before the final question, it is a 99% guarantee that the bonus game will be lost after returning from the break. It completely destroys the tension for anyone who recognizes this pattern. One wonders if Japanese TV editors genuinely believe that their ViewersAreMorons.
* Chuck Woolery on ''Series/{{Greed}}'' was, at least until ''Series/DealOrNoDeal'' came along, the undisputed master of this in game shows. The episode leading up to Daniel Avila's famed $2,000,000 attempt was the biggest example; the particular episode only featured one team who answered all but the last question in the Tower of Greed... but this means they got through just '''seven''' questions in the entire hour, which was [[{{Filler}} padded]] by '''two''' recaps near the end. After the first forty minutes, just about everything was filler to put off the choice to go for the top prize until next week.
* Speaking of GameShows that leave you hanging, this is a favorite of Howie Mandel on the U.S. version of ''Series/DealOrNoDeal''. "Open the case...when we come back!"
* Jeff Foxworthy tries to imitate Howie on ''Series/AreYouSmarterThanAFifthGrader'', but he talks so slowly that you can see the commercial coming a mile away. It's even worse there because one can easily look up the answer on Wikipedia before Foxworthy even announces the commercial break.
** Its sister show ''Series/DontForgetTheLyrics'' also plays this trope.
* ''Series/{{Duel}}'' played with this a bit one day. The contestants had just given their answers to a question, and then one of them griped that, well, of course now we're going to go to commercial. ({{beat}}) "Just for that..." Cue commercial.
* ''[[Series/{{Boom}} BOOM!]]'' occasionally does this after a contestant cuts a wire, with the voice counting ''"3... 2... 1..."'' before cutting to black.
* NBC must be contractually obligated to use this trope in [[Series/TheBiggestLoser every]] [[Series/AmericanGladiators single]] [[Series/AmericasGotTalent show]] [[Series/DealOrNoDeal they]] [[Series/MinuteToWinIt run]].
** ''Series/MinuteToWinIt'' in particular appears to be making a valiant attempt to top ''Greed'' and ''Series/DealOrNoDeal'' at this. At the end of one episode, the contestant had to make a stack of martini glasses and Christmas tree ornaments which would stay standing by itself for 3 seconds for a guaranteed $250,000. She finishes the tower and lets go, and three... two... one--TO BE CONTINUED. Though any viewer who's watched the show before probably saw that one coming a mile away. Ten bucks says the outcome won't be shown until after at least one commercial break into the next episode.
*** Unless you happened to catch a promo for the [[TrailersAlwaysSpoil same contestant doing a different game]].
** ''Series/WhosStillStanding'' is an example of how this can go wrong and kill the tension - they repeatedly cut to commercial ''in the middle of a question'', with rather clumsy editing too. The music (which was very obviously added in post-production) would swell up to the point of nearly drowning out everything else and [[MusicalSpoiler blatantly give away]] nearly every commercial break 15 seconds in advance.
* Any episode of ''Series/AmericanIdol'' that ends with a winner uses this trope (along with a nice healthy serving of {{Filler}}) so often that Ryan Seacrest gets hate mail about it.
** Subverted in exactly one episode of ''Series/CanadianIdol''. The host said he will reveal the winner. After a second delay, the audience announced it to be after the break, but the host replied "right now, actually".
* ''Series/TheDukesOfHazzard'' typically had these, accompanied by a freeze-frame shot, a dramatic musical {{sting}}, and a [[QuipToBlack pithy comment]] from {{narrator}} Music/WaylonJennings.
* If a patient on ''Series/{{House}}'' suddenly has a seizure/heart attack/projectile vomiting/stops breathing/anything involving bleeding/bizarre rash out of nowhere, expect the screen to go black in about 3 seconds...
** Note, that in 5 years of the show's run, no patient has '''''ever''''' died during the commercial break. The show will always return from the adspot with a somewhat-stable patient, and a their doctors will be in a completely different part of the hospital.
* ''Series/{{Bones}}'' must get a cookie for this one: The team figures out that the remains that has been dead for a month was in fact raised in the 19th century. ''da-da-dum!'' Cue opening. Was it time travel? No, 30 seconds in the actual show it turns out the kid was Amish.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' does this. Repeatedly.
** A particularly awesome (or frustrating, YMMV) one was in the finale, when Jack and the Man in Black faced off in the rain on an actual cliff. Just as Jack charged at MIB, it cut to commercial.
** Channel 4 tried to stick with the US advertisement frequency when showing ''Lost'', because of its cash-printingly huge popularity, but got [[http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1647935,00.html a pile of viewer complaints and a rap on the knuckles from a regulator for their trouble]].
* The Brazilian versions of ''Big Brother'' and ''American Idol'' are infamous when it comes to this trope. It begins with a flashback of the performance of the contestants who may or may not leave, then a long philosophical dissertation regarding what the contestants should have learned during that time, then the commercial break, then flashes of the families of those who may leave the competition/win the prize, to THEN declare who leaves or wins. After that, massive hysteria for the rest of the show time.
* Totally subverted on ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]]''. Because the show is played in real time, there can't be any cliffhangers before the commercials, because that would mean that either all of the action would play out during the commercials, or none of the characters would do anything for 4 minutes.
* ''Series/HellsKitchen'' does this in a ''very'' predictable pattern. 1) During the challenge of the day, cue the long dramatic pause on who the winner will be, COMMERCIAL! 2) Dinner service starts, drama ensues, Ramsay gets pissed off and yells at the chef who screwed up and seems to want them out, COMMERCIAL! 3) Elimination comes around, one chef is asked who they voted to kick out, dramatic pause, COMMERCIAL! Also, at some point during the episode, someone will probably cut themselves or trip over something... COMMERCIAL!
** ''Series/TopChef'' seemed to be ripping the first one off in their Washington DC season. Normally on quickfires, the winner is announced right after the challenge, but they started putting a commercial break in. No idea why, and they've gone back to their normal style for All Stars.
* If not every episode, 95% of the episodes of ''Series/PrisonBreak'' have ''at least'' one of these.
* For a while, ''Series/GetSmart'' had a lot of these before the last segment where it looked like Max had been killed. Of course if it ''had'' happened, the show wouldn't have gone much further...
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** On at least one occasion syndication cuts, to make room for more commercials, created one - Giles is getting drunk with old friend/nemesis Ethan Rayne, who casually tells him "I put poison in your drink...you'll be dead in an hour." There's some dramatic soundtrack, then he laughs "Just ''kidding!''". A commercial break was put in between the two lines.
** The most notorious example in ''Buffy'', however, was the commercial break during the original US screening in the middle of [[spoiler:Spike trying to rape Buffy]], which was widely seen as emotionally inappropriate and further intensified the controversy over whether the scene was in character.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': There's a rather glaring one in the last episode of the first season. Spock is ambushed by a deranged man holding a heavy instrument. Spock wards off one swing, then the two face each other to the tune of a dramatic cue. Cut to commercials. When we get back, Spock easily neutralizes the man within about 2 seconds. Onwards with the episode.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' loves this trope. Something alarming happens just before a commercial break, dramatic music swells and the camera very slowly zooms in on a character's concerned expression. It's amazing how often Star Fleet officers are frozen in place for several moments when decisive action is needed.
* Another game show, ''Series/CashCab'', has done this after an answer is locked in.
* ''Series/FearFactor'' does this whenever a stunt might go wrong.
* And then, there's the French version of ''[[Series/TheMillionPoundDrop Money Drop]]''. My god, it might not be the TropeCodifier, but it happens at the '''very last moment'''. We wait about 30 seconds to see what is the wrong answer, and suddenly, at the very last second, there's the commercials.
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'' did this very frequently. A notable subversion occurs in "Hell Bound".
-->'''Fred:''' Spike told me where he goes when he disappears. It's...hell. He's slipping into hell. ''(suspenseful music cue)''
-->'''Gunn:''' Kinda figured.
-->'''Wesley:''' Of course.
-->'''Gunn:''' Where else would he be going?
-->''(cut to the next scene)''
* ''Series/FearItself'', the NBC version of Showtime's ''Series/MastersOfHorror'', used a lot of Commercial Break Cliffhangers. The thing is, while that's fine for ''suspense'', since it (ideally) keeps the audience in their seats to see what happens next, it's not so good for ''horror''. Commercial breaks take the audience out of the action and remind them that they're just watching a TV show, which kills the mood (and horror's all about mood).
* ''Series/StorageWars'' does this '''''Every. Single. Commercial. Break.''''' [[DrinkingGame Take 2 shots]] if it shows someone opening a trunk, chest or safe. Three if it's Barry.
* The Food Network's chopped does this with the first two chefs to be cut. The host Ted Allen then averts this with announcing the last contest to be "chopped", which in turn reveals the winner. If you watch the show enough, you can time the commercials breaks to the second and the winner will always be announced in the last three minutes.
* All 3 ''Series/{{CSI}}'' series do this repeatedly, but especially toward the end of an episode. And they love it even more when a main character is in some kind of danger.
* Happens all the time in ''Series/TheChase'', especially when there's a 'one question shootout at play' (ie the contestant has to get the question wrong to go through else the Chaser will probably catch them). In some amusing examples, the contestants have either noticed this and groaned just before the commercial break cuts in, or in one strange case, actually announced the break with 'see you after the breaks folks!' when the host was too busy laughing.
* Given that ''Series/TheWildWildWest'' used an ArtisticTitle that froze the last frame of each act into a panel, it's unsurprising that they used this trope at least OnceAnEpisode (and usually more than once - some episodes, like "The Night of the Gypsy Peril" and "The Night of the Hangman," had cliffhangers for three of the four acts!).
* ''Series/CutthroatKitchen'' ''always'' does this in the first two rounds, just as the judge is about to announce who's being eliminated. This trope is generally common in cook-off shows like ''Cutthroat Kitchen'', being used in similar shows such as ''Series/{{Chopped}}'' and ''Series/MasterChef''.

[[folder:News Media]]
* News programs exploit this with irritating frequency. Advertisements for the day's news promise information on some dangerous thing that "[[CouldThisHappenToYou you must watch out for]]" (especially if you have children), and during the news program itself, refrain from showing until almost the very end, but continually remind you before they cut to commercials that it's "coming up next". Of course, this means that the segment doesn't play until it's time to put the child(ren) to bed, making the report miss its target audience.
** This is spoofed on a sbemail in ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' where Strong Bad runs a local news program that constantly alludes to a "World in Crisis" story coming up. At the end of the news show, he says to tune in next time for the "World in Crisis" story.
** And by George Carlin back in the 60's: "The sun did not come up today, huge cracks are appearing in the earth's surface and big rocks are falling from the sky. Details at 5."

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Believe it or not, Wrestling/{{WWE}} programs do this on a frequent basis. Whenever a wrestler gets tossed outside the ring, expect the announcer to cue up the oncoming commercial break by asking if the aforementioned wrestler can make a comeback when the show returns. However, due to the nature of the program, the match will pick up from the break, still in progress. Any action during the break is shown via split-screen.
** ''[[WWESmackdown Smackdown]]'' has recently averted this, with picture-in-picture of the match off to the side as the commercials play.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the original broadcasts of the WesternAnimation/JoeOrioloFelixTheCat cartoons, each episode was split into two parts with a cliff hanger at mid point, and the narrator would say "What will happen to Felix in the next exciting adventure of Felix the Cat?" and in the next part, the theme song would play again before the second half (hence why each second half of an episode does a recap of the previous half). [[EditedForSyndication These parts were cut in the late 70's by tv stations trying to add more commercials.]] The DVD releases of the show use these syndicated edits.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' parodied this rather well. Fry, Leela, and Bender had to deliver a package to a robot planet, and Bender gets caught. Leela then exclaims: "If only I had two or three minutes to think about it!" Cut to commercial.
* Done with ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' as well. After the family is tricked by a commercial [[spoiler:into a trap set by Sideshow Bob]], Homer proclaims that the next time a commercial comes on, he'll close his eyes, cover his ears and scream. Fade to black, cue Homer screaming, cut to commercial.
** Another episode features the Power Plant in danger of meltdown and Homer tries to work out which button he must press before it happens. He presses a button and...cut to black!
** Also, it's done in another episode, where Bart finds a phone while picking up golf balls on a golf course, and he says "Hey! you can watch commercials on it!" and holds the phone up to the TV, and then it goes to a commercial.
** And in another episode, with Sideshow Mel narrating the story of Lisa's comedy rise to fame, he says something along the lines of "We'll find out what happened in three... two... one..." fade to black.
** Parodied in "And Maggie Makes Three":
--->'''Homer:''' ''(seeing Bart and Lisa walking off)'' Hey! Where are you going?\\
'''Bart:''' Dad, you can't expect a person to sit for thirty minutes straight.\\
'''Lisa:''' I'm going to get a snack, or maybe go to the bathroom.\\
'''Marge:''' I'll stay here, but I'm going to think about products I might like to purchase. ''(closes eyes)'' Ooh...mmm...ooh, I don't have that.
** Yet another episode has Sideshow Bob threatening to explode a nuclear warhead. The commercial break starts right when Bob finally pushes the detonator button and an explosion is heard. [[spoiler: Turns out the nuke is expired and doesn't work.]]
** Occurs in "Separate Vocations" complete with the words "To Be Continued..." popping up as a LampshadeHanging. At the end of the first act Bart is stuck in an alleyway and about to be run over by Snake.
** In "Black-Eyed, Please", Homer tells Ned he'll only forgive him if he lets him have his wife. We get a commercial break, and afterwards Homer elaborates that he only wants her to help get rid of a substitute teacher that's been bullying Lisa.
* ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'', although it was a self-aware cartoon, didn't do this too often. In the pilot episode, Buster and Babs use the commercial break to get most of their work on the future show accomplished. In the Christmas episode, the trope is played much more straight in that a panicky Buster is ready and desperate to wish everything back to normal but he is told that he has to wait until after the commercials.
* An episode of ''TheUprightCitizensBrigade'' used a variation of this trope by claiming that they had succeeded in creating a batch of mind-numbingly unbearable commercials, then pressing play and treating the actual commercials as the ones they were referring to. It was claimed before each subsequent break that an even worse batch than the last one was cued up to play.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'' tried to inform us that there would be no commercial breaks, to better assist our viewing pleasure. These announcements were, of course, cut short at every opportunity. And when it came back, it always looked like some scene was missing in between.
* Done with the season premieres and finales in ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretSaturdays''.
* Oddly, the punchline to a cutaway gag on WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy was cut off.
* Done in most of WesternAnimation/TheDisneyAfternoon cartoons.
* In ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'':
-->'''Ed:''' [[NoFourthWall I should have all the feeling back in my feet after this word from our sponsor, Double D.]]
-->'''Edd:''' Curse broadcasted commercialism!
-->''(cut to commercial)''
* ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' TV adaptations do this all the time with intense music.
* ''WesternAnimation/AlvinAndTheChipmunks'' played with this in the 1988 episode "Food for Thought" (in which Alvin and Simon are helping Theodore prepare for a history test). One scene shows Alvin (portraying General George Custer) about to be ambushed by the Indians during the Battle of Little Big Horn.
-->'''Alvin (as General Custer):''' Quick! Cut to a commercial!
-->''(cue commercial)''
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' episode "Him Diddle Riddle" ends its first half as Him gives the girls a really long riddle, then tells them to solve it in 2 minutes, 45 seconds. By the time the commercial break ends, the girls have solved the riddle by [[spoiler: bringing Him a rocky road ice cream cone]].
* The ''WesternAnimation/EarthwormJim'' cartoon played this for all it's worth, complete with the [[LargeHam hammy narrator]] asking multiple "Will Earthworm Jim escape from Psycrow's diabolical trap?"-style questions. A frequent RunningGag is that one of the cliffhanger questions is about something completely inconsequential, like Peter getting a winning hand in a poker game going on at the same time.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'': The first episode has Korra take a few thugs down. Saihkan and the other officers arrest them and order her arrest. Come back from commercial sees him laying out the charges, and Officer Song giving chase.
* ''WesternAnimation/GreenLanternTheAnimatedSeries'': "Larfleeze" has the titular character unleash Glomulus onto Razer and Kilowog, it begins to swallow them whole. Will the heroes get out of this one? Find out in... of course they do.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' does this at ''least'' OncePerEpisode, give or take.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Jem}}'' does this in pretty much every episode. They nearly die or get into some danger only to be fine after the commercial break.
* ''WesternAnimation/ToadPatrol'' Does this in every single episode. Most notable is at least two occasions where the cliffhanger in question was a literal one.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Here's some FridgeBrilliance: What happens when you get really shocking overwhelming news? You may pass out. What does it look like when you pass out? FadeToBlack and then you come to 3 minutes later.