Spoilers: To Read or Not To Read?


by Ashley Binion

We now live in a society of instant gratification, where any information we want is at the tip of our fingers. This begs the question, are we even capable of being surprised anymore? Or, do we even want to be surprised?

Arguably, the biggest pop culture moment of 1980 was the famous Dallas cliffhanger, “Who Shot J.R.?” It was such a huge scene that Time magazine even had a cover story about the shocking moment. This moment transcends generations. Even if you weren’t alive during that time, you have at least heard of it. Today, I doubt something that huge would remain unspoiled by the media and that’s a shame.

Will we have another moment like that in television history? Probably not. Media and entertainment reporting has changed so much that the audience is privy to the ins-and-outs of the most secretive plot changes. Because of this, writers and show runners have become so tight-lipped that they give nothing away. However, that doesn’t change the fact that someone else will let something slip or some photographer will snap a picture.

Personally, I made a decision before Lost’s final season that I would watch the all episodes unspoiled. I achieved my goal, but goodness gracious it was excruciatingly difficult. But in the end, I felt my experience was heightened. I was genuinely surprised by the twists and turns.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, I was spoiled for the Gossip Girl (I know, bear with me) series finale. I stumbled upon paparazzi pictures of the two big weddings, and because of this, much of the series finale was somewhat predictable. I am positive if I wouldn’t have seen the pictures I would have been more delighted and surprised at the final five minutes of the finale.

Because of my extremely satisfying experience of going unspoiled for Lost, I decided during the final season of Fringe, I wouldn’t read spoilers, I wouldn’t watch sneak peeks, nor look at promotional photos, and by this I have been rewarded by being shocked at the unexpected deaths and plot twists.

I now understand why show runners and writers keep their cards close to their vests. They want the audience to have a genuine TV watching experience. As for me, I will try my hardest to give it to them.

What are your thoughts on spoilers? To read or not to read?
Photocredit: Threadless


  1. DaniellaJanuary 7th, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I agree with you completely. Not to read, I say. Spoilers ruin the overall experience of a show/movie. Scripts are written to trigger emotion responses, if we know beforehand, these responses are not experienced in the way they were intended, and therefore the overall enjoyment of a story is lessened. Avoid spoilers like the plague.

  2. AmyJanuary 7th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I try to avoid spoilers. I will watch an occasional sneak peek or look at a promo picture but I try to stay away from major plot spoilers. Social media makes it really difficult though. I’ve had things spoiled by my east coast friends. I’ve learned not to even get on FB or twitter during that two hour time delay so I can remain spoiler free.

  3. FringespoilersarebetterJanuary 7th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Fringe season 5 is so predictable,
    that I hoped it would be more based on the set photos I saw,
    but the episodes were a deception.

    Olivia having to be found , anticlimax, Olivia in episode 2, looked like she got a role to play, gone,
    episode 7:
    Olivia on the set photos with Nina, they had all together 2 scenes , and 1 phone call,
    and this is supposed to be a mother-daughter thing.

    ( Walter and Peter had plenty of moments this season and millions before, but who cares for Olivia, the only relationship she was allowed to have was with Peter, who lies to her, deceives her and treats her like his little wife, and Anna Torv has to do all the hard work for that, as with Olivia having to do all the emotional stuff, with Josh Jackson chewing gum, talk about disrespect, he is not going to that with John Noble)
    Episode 10:
    I saw Olivia with the child actor, Anna Torv playing with him etc, so I had my hopes up that finally Olivia would get a storyline , but even that had to go to Walter.
    So Fringe spoilers and set photos made a better and more interesting Fringe than what we got.
    Anna Torv is awesome, only thanks to Anna there is an Olivia, as she gets no storyline, hardly any decent writing and with that a lot of bad cliche writing( Olivias arc according to Wyman: say I love you, I need you and I do not want to lose you Peter as often as possible)
    Wyman has treated Olivia Dunham horrible and Anna Torv with disdain.
    The End:
    And with that I dare predict that the last scene will be Olivia and Peter in the parc, and Olivia being pregnant again.

  4. JustineJanuary 7th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I think that spoilers also take away the most rewarding moment for the writers. Those are the moments were they try to surprise the watchers. I always try to avoid the spoilers (which is definitely getting harder every day).

  5. underdogJanuary 7th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I hate being spoiled and try to avoid spoilers as much as possible. It ruins the experience of what is going to happen if I already know what it is. I have been spoiled on a couple of shows recently by a co-worker and was not happy at all about it. I don’t talk to her about a show unless I have seen it now.

  6. JuarhelaJanuary 7th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    I used to read the Harry Potter series until the Half-Blood Prince came out. I was a couple days behind in reading because of work, but my friend finished reading it in one day. When I told her I hadn’t read it yet, she thought I was kidding and said, “Yeah right – whatever – like you don’t know Snape kills Dumbledore…” I never picked up the books again – completely ruined it for me.

    I avoid spoilers like the plague.

  7. MattJanuary 7th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I’m kind of weird about spoilers – in some cases I’ve gone to extreme measures to avoid them, as in the Potter books, but in other cases I actively seek them out (Walking Dead). I can’t really explain why, but even in the situations where I get spoiled, I’m still interested in seeing how the writing and acting happens to bring the story to that point.

  8. JackieJanuary 7th, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I use to read spoilers like crazy. I didn’t want to wait to find out what happened to all of my favorite characters! But then, two things happened in the same set of May sweeps: I read the spoilers regarding unnamed deaths on two shows (Bones and Castle), and thus it was blatantly obvious who both would be (Bones: started seeing reports of a new show with one of the squinterns. Castle: the penultimate episode, we suddenly meet Montgomery’s entire family. No duh.). So I wasn’t at all worked up over their deaths, and instead exasperated at how blatantly obvious it was (especially Castle).

    On the other end of the spectrum, I had mostly stopped watching The Mentalist, but when I got home for the summer, my parents had proudly learned to work the DVR and had saved the season finale for me. I didn’t watch it for months, because I didn’t feel like watching the whole season to catch up. I finally did, and when my beloved Bradley Whitford showed up in the final moments… SO GOOD. I literally shouted with surprise, which I’m not sure I have ever done in my life. From that moment on, I have striven to be spoiler-free. So much more satisfying, even if I do have to delay my gratification.

  9. nerditaJanuary 7th, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I want to compliment the illustrator for this article-I really enjoyed the Spoilers visual representation- Nerdtastic!

  10. Cathy GJanuary 8th, 2013 at 6:24 am

    I also avoid spoilers. Even when watching movie trailers, I’ll close my eyes if the movie might be one I’d like to see. So many trailers reveal more than is necessary.

  11. hazelJanuary 8th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    For me, it all depends on the show. For the most part, I avoid spoilers b/c I want to be surprised. However, there are some shows that wreak such havoc on my emotions that I want at least a little bit of a heads up to keep from going crazy.

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