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SPOILER

"Fire!" isn't the worst thing you can yell in a crowded theater. It's "Bruce Willis is dead".
Lucky, King of the Hill

Information relating to surprises and character entry/exits in an episode were revealed ahead of transmission. The surprise was spoiled.

The most common kinds of spoilers are thus:
  • Someone de-bagged the cat in an online forum or in more conventional conversation;
  • Plot points got out by way of the media;
  • A show aired overseas first and overseas fans were talking about it.

The overseas type occurs frequently with anime airing in Japan before a dubbed version reaches the west and Europe due to the transatlantic delay. If the show airs in the States first, American viewers will be talking about it before Europe sees it; the same applies if the show airs in Europe first, when European viewers will be talking about it before Americans see it.

Subtypes of the media type of spoiler:
  • TV Guide Spoiler — An episode review makes a big emphasis on the fact of a major revelation or character death. They'll say it is being closely kept under wraps. Except, obviously, it isn't. For example, in Britain, TV guides for the following week (Sat-Fri) go on sale on the previous Tuesday. If the episode with the mysterious revelation is on Wednesday, all you have to do is look at next week's episode guide and the revelation is revealed.
  • Yet another type is the commercial spoiler, or for movies, the trailer spoiler, where, in attempting to advertise, they directly quote all the big surprise moments. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is somehow a major offender of both the above and the opposite.
  • Preview Tapes Not Available — critics are sent tapes of the episodes before they're shown so they can review them. However, producers want to keep stuff under wraps will not give out preview tapes, as has happened with Doctor Who. By season 4, they came up with another way to prevent spoilers-cutting out the most shocking bit when showing it to critics...and hoping the critics don't complain about the episode seemingly not having an ending.

Happens more for main networks.

When a spoiler becomes Common Knowledge in the mainstream — such as Darth Vader turning out to be Luke Skywalker's father — it's no longer spoiler fodder and gets demoted to It Was His Sled. When a sequel to a work spoils its predecessors, it's a Late-Arrival Spoiler. Not to be confused with a spoiler that happens early or late in the work.

Posting spoilers on a fan forum will almost always get the forumgoers royally pissed off at you, but when the show's actual owners start using or threatening legal action against people who spoiler, you should Spoil At Your Own Risk.

Not to be confused with the DC Universe character Spoiler (though there's a reason she's called that; see below). Or with Double Spoiler, for that matter.

For a few tips on how we treat spoilers around this wiki, see Handling Spoilers.

See Spoilered Rotten for tropes about spoilers, and tropes where spoilers are almost inherent.

In-Story Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Weaponized during a sparring match in Naruto - during the repeat of the "take the bells from Kakashi" bit, Naruto threatens to spoil the plot of the next Icha-Icha book. Kakashi considers this worth clapping his hands over his ears and shutting his eyes, as his Magical Eye automatically reads Naruto's lips.

Comic Books
  • In the Batman comic books, the Cluemaster, a B-grade Riddler knockoff, got over his compulsion to leave hints behind at crime scenes after thorough psychiatric counseling ("Thank you, Arkham"). Stephanie Brown, his daughter, became disgusted with his villainy and decided to give up the information in his place, calling herself "the Spoiler." The name, however, became an Artifact Title soon afterwards as Stephanie continued to fight criminals beyond her father and no longer left hints or clues, instead directly intervening herself. She eventually became the fourth Robin and then Batgirl.

Literature
  • The concept of spoilers is mentioned — and briefly discussed — in The Kite Runner: the narrator/protagonist discovers, after revealing to a stranger the ending of a western, that Americans aren't very keen of the whole "telling people what happens in the end" thing — as opposed to life in his home country, where everyone floods the moviegoer with questions after he watches a movie.
  • In "Little Red Running Shorts" from The Stinky Cheese Man, Jack the Narrator gives away the entire plot before the story even starts. The characters get so ticked at this that they just leave, causing the remaining pages reserved for the story to be blank.
  • Applicable to the TV and radio versions as well (with radio being the original version), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features a spoiler at the start of the missile attack sequence, which reveals several key plot points in the interest of reducing stress from the suspense of not knowing, while keeping one rather trivial item (the identity of the person who suffers a bruised arm) hidden to preserve some suspense, even though it has no plot relevance, and is only revealed as a stinger at the end of the chapter/episode.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who: River Song, another time traveler who has already met the Doctor (in her timestream) refuses to talk about stuff that has already happened to her but is still in the future for the Doctor. As such, this is basically her catchphrase. Shh, Spoilers! And when the Doctor meets an early version of River Song, her first time meeting him, he repeats this back to her.
  • The famous "No Hiding Place" episode of Brit Com Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads features the two main characters trying to avoid spoilers for the final result of an England football match, so they can watch the highlights later on. Naturally a friend takes great delight in trying to spoil it to them.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • There's an episode in which the main characters attempt to NOT find out what the score of the Super Bowl was.
    • Another episode, entitled Spoiler Alert, was all about pointing out someone's incredibly irritating habit which had gone unnoticed (for example, Ted's new girlfriend never stops talking, Robin constantly misuses the term "literally", Ted is always correcting people over small details, and Barney's entire personality is completely obnoxious). Once these annoying traits are pointed out to people, they become impossible to ignore (thus "spoiling" the person) and the gang is quickly at each other's throats.
  • Frasier:
    • One episode involves Frasier intent on catching up on the latest episode of a television series he's taped the night before without being spoiled. Naturally, everyone else seems just as intent on spoiling it for him.
    • In another, Niles brings over some videos to watch on a rainy night. Daphne, Frasier and Martin manage to comprehensively spoil Casablanca, plus the ending of The Way We Were.
    Daphne: Oh, I just love that movie. Is there any more heartbreaking moment in all of film than when Humphrey Bogart tells Ingrid Bergman to get on that plane with Victor Laszlo, even though Bogey loves her? Oh, what an ending.
    Niles: Well, there goes my need to finally see that one.
  • In The IT Crowd, Roy is desperate to see a pirated copy of the latest Tarantino movie unspoiled. This eventually culminates in him slapping a police officer.
  • An episode of Scrubs begins with Dr. Cox ruining the end of The Sixth Sense for the Janitor (He was dead the entire time!) and ends with the Janitor not ruining the score of the basketball game Dr. Cox had recorded. But Dr.Kelso did.
  • In an episode of the fifth season of Chuck, Morgan has forgotten the Star Wars saga completely, and as he heads to re-watch them, Casey (who's still bitter after his incredibly jerkish attitude in the previous episode) spoils the truth about Darth Vader being Luke's father and Leia his sister.
  • On an episode of House, Foreman is trying to prep Taub for an up-coming medical examination, but Taub is not interested in preparing for it and instead asks Foreman if he wants to watch The Usual Suspects, since he hasn't seen it yet. Foreman, annoyed by Taub's procrastination, simply tells him to enjoy the movie. Then, as he is leaving, he blurts out: "Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze!".
  • In a 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, the Solomons saw an Alien Invasion movie and were upset by the portrayal of aliens as evil monsters. Harry decided to warn the people waiting to see the movie how inaccurate it was:
    Harry: Attention, ticket holders. Listen up! At the end of the movie when the President turns out to be an alien [crowd groans] and he barbecues all the Congressmen, don't believe it, okay? Because aliens hate barbecue!
  • Portlandia has an entire sketch centered on spoilers. Spoiled items include, The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, The Wire, True Blood, and Dexter.
    Fred: Michael C. Hall in the van!
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation": Leonard fights with Sheldon after Sheldon spoils the ending of the Harry Potter book that Leonard is reading, and Penny reveals how relationships developed. Finally, Sheldon gives away a major plot-point from The Walking Dead. The concept of spoilers is used and played with in this episode.
  • In season 6 episode of Murdoch Mysteries, Dr. Emily Grace is vexed when her boyfriend Constable George Crabtree tells her the whole plot of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She bought tickets to see a theatre adaptation, and he has read the book and enthusiastically told her the whole thing, never realizing that she wouldn't want to.

Theater
  • An interesting No Fourth Wall example in Urinetown: At the beginning of the show, Officer Lockstock, the narrator, says that Urinetown is "a place you won't see until Act Two". Halfway through Act One, he explains that it would ruin the suspense if he just revealed to the audience that "there is no Urinetown, we just kill people!"

Website
  • College Humor provides a comprehensive video "Official Spoiler Rules" which tries to establish spoiler etiquette. You know, so that we could stop fighting and enjoy talking about our favourite shows. See it here. The video is spoiler free.

Western Animation
  • In an episode of The Legend of Korra, Bolin tells Asami the ending of the movie he's starring in, and then adds "Oops… spoiler."

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • It's more or less impossible to mention Baccano!'s Claire Stanfield without spoiling a good amount of the Grand Punk Railroad/Flying Pussyfoot arc. So most of the time, he's split into two characters for explanation purposes until a certain point. They are the Young Conductor and Claire/Vino.
    • The character could be split into four names and there would still be certain users who compulsively conceal the ones that remain trivial even after The Reveal.
  • Some Cowboy Bebop fans are fond of spoiling the ending for their friends, with the blunt phrase, Spike dies. At this point, it's become a kind of joke. This particular spoiler is revered for being solid spoiler gold: it is final, powerful, massively important to the plot, extremely well-done, and occurs at the very end of the last episode of the series.
  • In a similar vein as the above example, "Ladies' Night" eventually became code for the point in the Death Note anime where L was killed.
  • Code Geass does the spoiler-in-the-title thing just enough to be EXTREMELY ANNOYING to people who have preview lists that include titles of upcoming episodes, like the now-aired "Emperor Lelouch", where the NAME spoils the previous episode's end result. There have even been cases where the title for a particular episode spoiled a shocking twist from later on in the very same episode, such as "Bloodstained Euphemia"
  • Special mention also goes to Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Some seemingly random writing in the background on the wall of an abandoned building in Episode 2 that was supposed to be a Rewatch Bonus, quickly turned into this when released in Germany (or viewed by German viewers in general). It's a quote from Faust, which is mandatory to be read during German classes in a lot of Germany's schools. Therefore having no problems recognising it, German viewers could easily predict the parallels the plot later draws to said story.

Comic Books
  • The interesting thing about comic book spoilers is that the media doesn't seem to have any compunctions against publishing them. The newpaper's movie page would never think of putting, "Darth Vader is Luke's father" in the movie review, but they have no problem putting, "Captain America dies in the next issue!" on the front page of the entertainment section— especially strange since the media doesn't generally review comics at all.
    • Not strange at all. When major market media spoils the plot of an upcoming comic book, the reason is because the comic's publisher sent them the spoiler as a press release in order to increase sales. This was especially common during the speculator bubble of the 90's, with the Death of Superman being the most glaring example.

Film
  • Dark City spoils itself over its own course, with a studio-imposed monologue at the beginning explaining multiple plot twists which are repeated quite clearly later on in the film. Many fans advise first-time viewers to turn the sound off until the end of the monologue.
    • Alternately, you can pick up the Director's Cut DVD, which takes out the monologue and adds in new footage to boot.
    • Another problem with Dark City is that it's hard to discuss it as a sci-fi film, or commenting on how cool the spaceship in the movie is, because even its genre is a spoiler to a great extent.
  • An infamous review of Scream 4 by a disgruntled reviewer spoiled the murderer's identity... in the very first words of the very first sentence (and the spoiler shined proudly on the Rotten Tomatoes website for quite some time). People weren't pleased, and general drama ensued.
  • Probably the biggest example by sheer number of people affected: shortly after the theatrical release of The Others, a member of the Spanish government thought it appropriate to bring up the biggest reveal in the film as a metaphor... during a key televised debate in Parliament. Yep, the guy actually spoiled the film for the whole country.
  • Promotional material for Captain America: The Winter Soldier (including a "First Look" on the Thor: The Dark World blu-ray and the television special "Assembling a Universe") have been very open about the fact that the Winter Soldier is actually Cap's best friend Bucky Barnes, who appeared to die in the first film. While most comic book readers already know this (being a near-direct adaptation from the comics), there are plenty of moviegoers who are fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but have never picked up a comic book.
  • After having nearly 25 years to think about it, director James Cameron has apparently come to the conclusion that giving away the fact that Robert Patrick's character was also a terminator in the promo material for Terminator 2: Judgment Day was probably a mistake.

Literature
  • A spoiler from the sixth Harry Potter book actually managed to become an Internet meme. Someone who found out that Snape kills Dumbledore went out to the Internet, posted it everywhere, and now you can even see image macros in the biggest Web forums with this spoiler that, on top of that, is as short, powerful and final as the one from Cowboy Bebop. There's even a story about a fanboy who killed himself after he accidentally stumbled upon it!
    • The Voldemort-kills-Harry-then-has-battle-in-Hogwarts has become this, too. As a result, ridiculously elaborate precautions were taken to keep the 7th book under wraps until it was in the hands of bookstore customers; the printers worked in darkness, the manuscript was kept in a safe, etc. etc. etc.
  • The title of the Babysitters Club book "Jessi's Gold Medal" gives away the fact that Jessi wins a gold medal in synchronized swimming.

Live-Action TV
  • During the 2012 London Olympics, NBC was showing the time delayed segment of a Woman's swim event. They cut to commercial asking "And will Misty win Gold in the final? Stay tuned to find out" and immediately cut to the promo of the Today show interviewing Misty and asking her how she felt winning gold.
  • The Bill has this happen frequently.
  • Star Trek: Voyager fans call this Previews Always Spoil.
  • Sci-Fi Channel commercials for the season finale of Doctor Who, spoiling the end of the penultimate episode. The network seems to have trouble with this in general.
    • The network was pretty bad with this on Battlestar Galactica too, most notably a week before the episode "The Ties That Bind" aired when they clearly showed Cally being killed by Tory.
  • In advertising the championship match of the 2006 World Series of Pop Culture, VH1 put up the names of the teams who would battle it out... even though one of the semifinal matches was not finished yet.
  • Brazillian soap operas: at least 80% of the newspapers have a complete spoiler of the current episodes of all the soap operas airing on open TV. Oddly enough, most of the audience actually reads the spoilers and watches the show anyway.
  • British TV guides and women's magazines love to discuss upcoming plots. When I pointed out that these magazines always spoil plots and yet she still reads them, my mother said she likes how it's played out, not what happens.
    • A particularly noteworthy example is the first episode of the notorious flop Eldorado. This involved characters talking about their friend Bunny, who was returning to Spain from England with his new wife. The thinking was that they knew Bunny, but we didn't, so they could drip-feed us information about him, while they were as in the dark about his new wife Fizz, as we were. This would keep us hooked throughout the episode, and we'd be shocked at the end when chubby, middle-aged Bunny turned up with beautiful young Fizz in tow. The reality was that Bunny and Fizz were heavily featured in all the publicity, to the extent that Fizz was the cover star of that week's Radio Times, so the viewers already knew everything. The non-existent mystery made for a very boring episode indeed. Eldorado never recovered.
    • The main exception is the final episodes (usually the last two), especially if there is a "who killed X" plot. In the last case, often several variations of The Reveal are filmed, with different culprits, to prevent leaks (only one of them is actually broadcast).
  • On the Next trailers are a frequent source of spoilers, to the degree that many fans refuse to watch them in order to remain "pure". 24 and the 2000s Battlestar Galactica are major offenders in that category.
    • Battlestar Galactica even went a step further, and put spoilers for each episode in its own opening credits. They flashed by at high speed, but some people still could see them clearly, and had to close their eyes through the credits or else have every episode spoiled.
  • The British TV guide Radio Times is bad at this; so bad, in fact, that one of the writers of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, once went onto a massive Doctor Who forum and warned everyone to stay away from it. Ironically, said magazine is made by the same people who make Doctor Who in the first place.
  • Many Doctor Who stories have been spoilt by the title, particularly when featuring popular and prominent villains such as the Daleks and the Cybermen. As such, many a big dramatic surprise reveal and cliffhanger that these feared adversaries appeared in would be completely ruined by the fact that the story was titled '(Something) of the Daleks / Cybermen', thus priming the audience to expect them to appear at some point. The new series isn't entirely free of this; guess what appears in the episode called 'Dalek'?
    • Russell T Davies caught some flak for them putting Dalek Sec on the front cover, he'd decided to go for the cover than the surprise.
    • "Bad Wolf" did not have its title revealed until some weeks into Season 27/1.
    • In season 30/4, the producers have tried to avert this with the twelfth episode, which remains unrevealed several months after the other titles have been revealed.
    • In "Silence in the Library" the Doctor berates Donna for trying to look in some history books from the future as they'd contain spoilers for reality.
    • The episode's subsequent 'Next Time' trailer then ended with two characters repeating the word "spoilers", followed by a third shouting "No, don't tell, you mustn't tell!" into the camera. Knowing what Steven Moffat's like, it's not hard to imagine that the trailer was edited that way deliberately.
    • A notable aversion occurred in 1982, when the Cybermen returned to the series for the first time in seven years. The episode title ("Earthshock") doesn't mention them, the TV guide listings were carefully crafted to avoid TV Guide Spoilers, and the then producer actually turned down a Radio Times cover story in order to keep the surprise.
      • Another clever aversion from Earthshock came in the fact that the companion Adric was listed in the cast for the next story, Time-Flight so that viewers would think nothing untoward was going to happen. In fact, the Adric in the latter story was just a vision, but this preserved the shock of Adric being killed off at the end of Earthshock.
  • The Jon Pertwee serial "Invasion of the Dinosaurs": The title was simply "Invasion" until the big reveal, after which the complete title was shown.
  • Advertising for the fifth season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and the series finale, from the WB's perspective) blatantly spoiled Buffy's death, by running ads featuring Buffy's tombstone.
  • The March 24th, 2008 episode preview for two game shows - Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Deal or No Deal - revealed the results of the games.
  • Stargate SG-1's fourth-wall cracking, in-joke spouting, lampshade-hanging 200th episode...called, of course, "200" (for reasons both related and not to this fact)...featured the return of Richard Dean Anderson's character General (formerly Colonel) Jack O'Neill for the first time on the show since the beginning of season 9. This exchange says it all:
    Daniel: There'll be spoilers.
    Sam: Are you kidding? It'll be in the commercial.
And it was.
  • Complete scene by scene spoilers for LOST's 3rd and 4th season finales made it to the internet before those episodes aired. In the case of season 4, some fans thought the spoiler was actually a foiler because the "frozen donkey wheel" seemed so crazy. In an effort to keep the whole thing from being spoiled, multiple versions of the revelation that it's Locke in the coffin were filmed, with various characters.
  • A plot-point concerning the winners of Prom in an upcoming episode of Glee was just very publicly spoiled over Twitter. Creator Ryan Murphy has made it very clear that he is not happy with the leak.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Skin of Evil" killed off Tasha Yar but the fans saw it coming as it was known that Denise Crosby wanted to leave the show. It was also known that she wanted to leave the show in a way that had never been done before on Star Trek; namely killing off a central character permanently. At the time, there were few complaints about the foreknowledge of Tasha's impending death. Everyone tuned in out of curiosity mostly because this was a revolutionary move for Star Trek for which the general rule up until then has always been: Death Is Cheap unless you are a Red Shirt.
  • Most Reality Shows have previews for next week's episode DURING the episode we are watching. When an elimination-style show is trying to make us believe that someone might be going home, it's spoiled by seeing footage of that person still playing the following week.
  • There was a reveal in a season 5 episode of Angel which was genuinely out of left field and, with no foreshadowing before the very brief scene to which it belonged, was pretty much impossible to guess. However, a fan saw some of the filming of the episode and posted it on the internet. Fortunately they did so in such a way that no one would have read it accidentally. As most people don't intentionally spoil shows for themselves (and especially so back then), the reveal was not widely known until after the episode aired.
  • When Twin Peaks was first airing in Spain, it was a huge success, an outright cultural phenomenon. The "who killed Laura Palmer?" was almost a meme. At some point a popular magazine spoiled in advance who the killer was, just to boost sales. The magazine argued that the series de-emphasized the reveal and the whole "who is the killer?" question in later episodes, and thus revealing the killer isn't such a big deal. While this might be somewhat true, it was still a dickish move that got a lot of backlash.

Professional Wrestling
  • Most wrestling websites prominently post spoilers for shows that are taped before they air. WWE.com even got in on the act for a short time.
    • The most egregious use of spoilers in wrestling was done by WCW, against the then-WWF. WCW's Monday Nitro was aired live, while WWF's Monday Night RAW was taped a week in advance; thus, right before 9:00 (when WWF RAW started), the WCW commentary team would spoil the WWF's main event for the evening, in order to coax viewers into continuing to watch Nitro instead. This backfired, however, when Tony Schiavone revealed that Mick Foley — then wrestling as Mankind — would be winning the WWF Championship that evening; he jokingly said "yeah, that'll put butts in seats". An estimated half a million viewers switched over to RAW, an act which killed Nitro's ratings, gave the WWF the upper hand in the Monday Night Wars, and caused fans to start bringing "Mick Foley put my butt in this seat" signs to WWF shows. It also didn't help that the night in question also featured WCW's biggest Jump the Shark moment, the "Fingerpoke Of Doom".

Theatre

Visual Novels
  • At one point in Little Busters!, Haruka happens to catch the ending of a popular TV series, so to get people watching it she writes a summary on the blackboard. Except she goes too far and ends up revealing who the killer is. Naturally, the students aren't pleased, and Riki agrees, saying that 'spoilers are a serious crime.' She passes it off by claiming that what she wrote was just her theory, though, which the others accept, even praising her on coming up with such a realistic idea.

Web Comics
  • A plot point was spoiled for the webcomic And Shine Heaven Now when the author posted the relevant trope on the comic's page on this wiki two days before posting the corresponding comic. While spoilers are a common enough occurrence here, it usually does not happen that way.

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , "Sozin's Comet" was originally supposed to be a shocking and incredible SERIES finale. Unfortunately, the third midseason was back scheduled to fill out Nickelodeon's summer schedule. Even more unfortunate, was that nobody told the publishers of the junior novelization of said series finale, as they released on schedule. Boom.
  • Leave it to Pinkie Pie to spoil the events of episode 16 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic all the way back in episode 5! Of course, you're just as liable as Twilight Sparkle to disregard the whole conversation as it is tucked away in The Teaser.
  • In the opening credits of the Chilly Willy cartoon "Chilly Chums", Grace Stafford is credited as "Woody's voice", thus ruining the cartoon's joke cameo of Woody Woodpecker.

Exceptions:

Film
  • The big twist in Psycho was considered so integral to the enjoyment of the film that Hitchcock didn't let anyone come into the movie casually (as people were allowed to walk into films late at the time) and specifically requested at the start of the film to not talk about the plot to any of their friends. He even went so far as to purchase every copy of the book he could get his hands on when the film was greenlit so people couldn't go out and read it before seeing the film.

Live-Action TV
  • Some fans got the series 7 finale of Doctor Who early when the DVDs were accidentally shipped out a week early. Moffat requested that people not talk about the final scene and, surprisingly, people obeyed.
    • Yet again upheld when a rough cut of the entire first episode of series 8- the first adventure with the Twelfth Doctor- leaked on the internet.

Theatre
  • At the end of The Mousetrap the actors on stage swear the audience to secrecy so as not to spoil it for people who haven't seen it yet. Of course, we all know who the killer really is. The real killer is someone... didn't expect that, did you?

Western Animation
  • New Zealanders really know how to keep their mouths shut. While the Kim Possible finale episode "Graduation" has already aired there, none of the lucky fans who got to see it said even a single word, and no trace of the episode appeared at any internet file-sharing sites.

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