An [[TheUnReveal Un Reveal]] executed as a {{Cliffhanger}}.

A What Cliffhanger? happens when a chapter ends with a shocking turn of events, but the author doesn't tell you outright ''what it actually is''. It commonly involves abuse of the word "something", implying that the "something" will be revealed at the very beginning of the next chapter, making you wonder why the author didn't just put [[TheReveal the shocking revelation]] at the end of the previous chapter for untold amounts of extra drama and suspense. Instead, we are left to wonder what the plot twist will be.

Sure, it might get you to read the next part (if it doesn't take too long to get released, or if you haven't figured it out for yourself already), but it's a lot less fun and a lot more annoying than a "proper" cliffhanger.

See Also: CliffhangerCopout, when a creator tweaks with a story's continuity of events when resolving a cliffhanger or outright denies to follow through on a promise to reveal important information from one chapter to the next.

Not to be confused with PseudoCrisis, which at least gives the appearance of a proper cliffhanger before getting resolved in two seconds after the break.



[[folder: Fanfic ]]

* squirrelking's SoBadItsGood Metal Gear Solid fanfic, ''[[ Fight of Metal Gears]]''. Also, ''[[ Halo: Halos in Space]]'' by the same author ends with Joe Chief on the losing side of a battle, and then he "saw something and went to it and picked it up and said "no we win" to himself." Read ahead at your own risk: The next installment reveals that the 'something' was [[spoiler: "big wepon."]] [[{{Narm}} DUN DUN DUNNN]]!


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}'' was famous for doing this practically every other chapter.
* ''Literature/TheDaVinciCode'' had a OneParagraphChapter in which Robert Langdon and his date see a thing inside a box. Whatever the grail was, it wasn't ''that thing''. (The thing turned out to be a cryptex, i.e., a tube that had a puzzle to be solved for it to open.) In fact, done frequently in anything written by Dan Brown. It's pretty much the end of every chapter.
* The fourth book of the ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' series, ''A Feast For Crows'', has a scene in which one character is told to make a choice between death and treachery, refuses the choice, and is about to be hanged for it, and she says an unspecified word... and that's the last we hear of her in that book. In fact, it's the last we hear of the book. [[spoiler: It's implied, by the fact that she shows up alive in the next book, that she chose treachery.]]
* This was baited-and-switched in Creator/RobertRankin's ''The Literature/HollowChocolateBunniesOfTheApocalypse'', proving there's just [[ZigZaggingTrope no limit to recursive subversion of a trope]]. Eddie hands something important to Jack, who asks what it is - "it's a {{Macguffin}}". Except we never get a better explanation than that - it's only ever referred to as a macguffin, and [[ChekhovsGun when it inevitably turns out to be important]], what it actually does is entirely unexplained as well. It's that kind of book...
* ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' reveled in leading the reader to believe something only for it to be contradicted soon afterwards. Especially when the reader is kept guessing what the acronym VFD stands for, only to have it revealed several different times, and most of those times to be false.


[[folder: Live-Action TV ]]

* Happened in the second season of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. For the first 8 episodes, Dean had been keeping a dark and terrible secret from Sam, told to him by their father and also withheld from the audience. The preview for the ninth episode showed Dean saying "Dad told me something... something about you," and Sam asking in consternation, "Dean, what did he tell you...?" Everyone got very excited that The Reveal was finally coming, even though most of the fandom was already fairly sure they had worked out more or less what the secret had to be. When the episode aired, those turned out to be '''the last lines spoken''' before the series went on hiatus for over a month!
* From ''Series/{{Lost}}'': "We ain't takin the plane freckles. We're takin' the sub."
** And of course the season three premiere, which ended by revealing Ben's name. Yeah, it was nice to know the real name of "Henry Gale," but it's really just a random name, with no significance to the story, yet it's played for {{Luke I Am Your Father}} level drama.
*** However, this becomes something of a Subversion as well: new watchers will [[LateArrivalSpoiler probably hear about Ben]], but not Henry, making it a legitimate surprise for {{Spoiler Hound}}s [-unless they read this page-].
* From ''Series/{{NCIS}}'': The last episode of season 7 gave examples of this trope.
* Several episodes of ''Series/DoctorWho'' had this problem. Season 22 was originally shown in the UK in 45 minute chapters instead of the usual 22-25 minute episodes. When that season was shown in America, each episode was arbitrarily cut in half to fit in with the remainder of the syndication package - resulting in the story simply stopping (often in very odd places) instead of ending on a proper cliffhanger.
** One episode of "Death to the Daleks" ends with the Doctor and Bellal about to walk into a room when the Doctor tells him to stop, pointing at the white and red tiled floor for no immediately apparent reason. It was the result of poor pacing, as the episode was scripted to end on a scene of the Daleks getting closer a few minutes earlier.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Done in [[ this]] ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' strip.
** Done much more frustratingly [[ here]]. ''Sluggy Freelance'' updates daily, so nobody suspected that the cliffhanger would go unanswered for [[ nearly three months]], but that's exactly what happened due to ''Oceans Unmoving'', a truly ambitious sci-fi chapter that revisited [[KillerRabbit a long-missing character]] but otherwise introduced an entirely new cast.