by Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Spoiler alert: I hate having to write “spoiler alert” before show recaps.

By its very definition, a recap is a shortened retelling of something that has happened, namely, a TV show. In today’s world of social media, spoilers are everywhere. It should be the readers’ responsibility to avoid them, not a writer’s responsibility to pussyfoot around a reader’s feelings. Don’t click on something you know will have a spoiler like, say, a recap. Don’t go on Twitter if you know someone will be discussing it there. And for god’s sake, don’t search the tag on Tumblr! A writer must write a recap as soon as possible so fans can discuss what happened on the show while it’s still fresh on their minds and consequently, should not be criticized for doing their job.

I personally never put spoilers in the first few sentences of my recaps or before anything behind a cut. By doing so, it gives the reader the chance to decide whether they want to read it or not. If they choose to click further, they are now accountable for anything they read. It should be a pre-determined understanding that “Hey, if I click this recap, I may encounter spoilers and I’m willing to take that risk.”

The avoidance of spoilers begs the question – what is the shelf life of a spoiler? Is there a cultural understanding of spoilers you do and don’t talk about? What if I told you Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father? Would you get mad? What about if I said Rick Castle proposed to Kate Beckett on Monday’s Castle season finale? What is the determining factor of when something is no longer considered a spoiler?


  1. AmyMay 17th, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I agree that it is the responsibility of the individual to avoid spoilers. If I’m unable to watch a tv show when it airs or see a movie opening weekend I know that it’s a possibility that I will be spoiled. Recently, due to a schedule change, there was an episode of Castle floating around on the web before it aired. It was an episode that I did not want to have spoiled for me so I avoided any sites (tumblr, pinterest, twitter) that I knew would have pics/gifs posted.

    Where I have a problem is people that purposefully post spoilers just to get a reaction out of people. When I was standing in a line to purchase my HP6 at midnight a truck full of people drove by the line and yelled that Dumbledore dies. It was done just out of spite, a form of mocking those standing in the line, and it was just rude. When someone spoils something maliciously it just low and completely uncalled for.

  2. AnnaMay 17th, 2013 at 11:28 am

    While I completely agree that it’s the responsibility of the viewer to avoid spoilers, I think that the word SPOILER at the beginning of an article or recap isn’t asking too much. Personally, I do not have cable, but I watch TV via the internet and TiVo. Because of this, I avoid recaps. Since recaps are omnipresent at this point, not having cable mostly helps to avoid any spoilage. BUT, I used to watch a show that recapped the previous night’s television. They used to throw up a spoiler alert if what the hosts were saying was a spoiler, so I would fast forward and still remain blissfully ignorant. One day, for some reason, the writers must have felt it unnecessary to add one little line, and a the season ending of one of my favorite shows was ruined. I see both sides of the issue, but a little compromise could go a long way.

  3. MikeMay 17th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I completely disagree with you. It doesn’t take much to write the ONE WORD, you know, “Spoilers” just before recapping/reviewing/summarizing an article. A reader is the consumer, the writer is the creator and producer of the content. It should be the writer’s responsibility to inform their audience of what it is they’re consuming. If you’re going to write you’re producing content to be consumed. You’re basically calling your audience stupid if they get spoiled for clicking your article after they complain about spoilers.

    Maybe I agree with you about the audience responsibilities as well, but that’s just the nature of internet. When I’m watching a show that night I stay away from twitter and facebook. But what about the fact that sometimes you forget the following day if you haven’t watched the episode because you have a life and were unable to watch it then? Obviously we’re so connected that we eventually log on and boom spoilers. How realistic is it to avoid spoilers? It’s pretty hard. So if you’re directly contributing to writing articles you should have the decency/courtesy to at least provide a simple one word warning. If you have a distribution method that will link and constantly advertise your article it’s just courtesy.

    I’m sure people of their reasons for clicking a link be it impulse or whatever. Maybe there was someone who was trying to read articles about the show/movie to help them come up with a decision to invest their time to start watching/reading/playing/consuming. Also your shelf life examples include are very different from each other and you also spoil a recent Castle episode.

    If you’re going to contribute by knowing you’re going to talk about it, then what’s seriously what is the harm in putting one word up?

  4. EstherMay 17th, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I love spoilers. When my kids were younger I would use them to preview shows that might be iffy for them. Now I like them because I pay more attention when the event happens. I do not have the time to ever watch anything more than once. So this way I savor the moment. And for some things, I like to be spoiled so I can avoid wasting time. This is especially true for awards-type shows.

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