The Coolest Cliffhangers in TV History

Cliffhangers- they can be agony, they can be ecstasy – but they work. They keep us glued to the screen, chatting afterwards and coming back for more the next season.
So whether you find them frustrating or a reason to live, let’s take a look at some of the most unforgettable cliffhangers in TV history.

Spoilers Ahead!
“Orange Is the New Black just made all other TV deaths this year look cheap.” - Vanity Fair


Orange is the New Black Season 4

Deya shooting policeman in OITNB

Will Daya pull the trigger? The season 4 cliffhanger was the most tense and nail-biting ever - and took this series to the next level as it had a timely resonance and parallels with the Black Lives matter movement which was creating headlines across the U.S. at the time. After fan favourite Poussey’s shock death in the penultimate episode, the finale saw Daya standing over despicable guard Humphrey pointing a gun to his head as the whole prison encouraged her to shoot.
Cut to black.

Now that Season 5 is upon us, we know that Daya did in fact shoot – first the wall above Humphrey and then his leg. She didn’t shoot to kill, she shot to make a point. The whole cliffhanger premise has thrown OITNB into darker, more unexplored territory – and we can’t wait to re-enter it.


Game of Thrones
Season 5


Jon Snow dying in Game Of Thrones cliffhanger

He looks dead. He acts dead. He was dead. And then he wasn’t. Who could forget the worldwide shock and awe that Jon Snow’s apparent death caused – it went on for months. There were hints from cast members, there were sightings of Kit Harrington near the sets, yet there were also Kit’s continued affirmations that Snow had hit the snow for the final time. But then Game of Thrones never plays by the rules; and Jon Snow rose from the dead to face a winter that is still coming.


The Walking Dead Season 6

Glen Rhee death in The Walking Dead
Source: [AMC]

How do you top a cliffhanger? Deliver two at once. Season 6 ended with the villainous Negan killing an unknown cast member - but we knew it would be someone important. As everyone waited for season 7 to unfurl, speculation was rife on who it would be. So as the new season got underway, major shocks were in store. Not only was the tough-as-nails Abraham confirmed on the death list, but a second major surprise was already locked and loaded – one of only three main leads since the series began was about to be exterminated. That brave bed-rock and fan favourite Glenn Rhee was killed off in spectacular fashion, cementing The Walking Dead’s place in the Cliffhanger Hall of Fame.


Dallas Season 3

Dallas cliffhanger
Source: [Warner Bros. Television]

”Who shot J.R.?” Perhaps the most ground-breaking and influential cliffhanger ever, creating 8 months of hysterical international buzz. This is the cliff hanger by which all others are judged, so famous it was even spoofed on The Simpsons.


The Simpsons Season 6


Mr Burns dying in The Simpsons cliffhanger
Source: [Twentieth Century Fox Television]

A classic Simpsonesque cliffhanger was a long time in the coming – but when it did, it was a doozey. The fact that the anaemic, execrable Mr. Burns took a bullet wasn’t the surprise; it was who fired the gun that caused the sensation. Such was the mania to discover the culprit, a special phone line was set up where fans of the show could offer their own theories. FOX even aired a special called ‘Springfield’s Most Wanted’ breaking down all the different theories. Btw: It was Maggie - not so innocent after all.


Sherlock Season 2


Sherlock cliffhanger ending
Source: [BBC]

In the Reichenbach Fall episode, we witness Sherlock throw himself off a building following his final confrontation with arch nemesis Moriarty. This is done in broad daylight with Watson watching on in horror... and Watson even sees Sherlock’s lifeless body being carried away. Stunned audiences had to wait two long years to discover how Sherlock brilliantly faked his own death, even tricking his only true ally and friend, John.


Friends
Season 4


Ross and Emily getting married cliffhanger ending
Source: [Warner Bros. Television]

“I take thee...Rachel.” #awkward
Ross and Rachel: will they, won’t they, should they, dare they... the long-running dilemma finally came to a head at the altar when Ross is about to say ‘I do’ to Emily. As Rachel had made an unexpected dash to London after finally realising she did indeed want to get back with Ross, she saw how happy he was and gave up hope. Then Ross did the unthinkable in his vows- creating one of the most shocking, hilarious and dramatic cliffhangers of the ‘90’s.


Breaking Bad Season 5

Hank in Breaking Bad cliffhanger
Source: [AMC]

This unforgettable series blew minds like no other; consistently and with astounding panache. Just when the White household seem to have put their drug-empire days behind them, sh*t really hits the fan. The criminal that DEA agent Hank has been obsessively hunting down, couldn’t be more close to home: his best friend and brother-in-law Walter White. It’s a priceless moment when Hank realises Walter is in fact Heisenberg.  A peerless modern classic.




Recommended articles

Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke Me Before You Movie

The Hunger Game of Thrones

Game Of Thrones and The Hunger Games... Two titans of entertainment.
Sansa

The Unlikely Heroes of TV and Film

Some characters are so brimming with hero potential, you just KNOW they’re going to rescue someone.
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Season 4

Which Sherlock are you?

The world’s most infamous sleuth has been played by a host of A-List stars since the deliciously named Basil Rathbone first graced our screens in 1939. There may be over 70 incarnations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s heroic anti-hero but we have 3 all-time favourite Sherlock’s... and they couldn’t be more different.

Get the latest movie updates sent directly to your inbox!

Want more from inside of Australia's biggest movie and home entertainment company? Join the crew today for news, exclusive offers and competitions.

Thanks. We'll be in touch soon.