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Ellie Billington; Unit 1 Part D: Are cliff hangers irritating?

I have chosen to do this debate about why television series and movies leave us on a cliff hanger? And why they are irritating?

This is because I feel very passionate about this topic and are easily irritated when a TV series or film uses a cliff hanger. This is something which really does annoy me and it has happened in so many television programs and films I have watched. Often the cliff hangers have been used at the end of television series and I honestly find it pointless. I understand that they are used to try and engage the audience and leave them wanting more, however at times I find them extremely inappropriate and in my opinion cliff hangers are a waste of time. I also think that when used incorrectly, programs could be at risk of losing their viewers because people get sick and tired of not getting an end result and are kept waiting around because the narrator leaves it on a cliff hanger. I feel very strongly about this topic it because it just annoys me especially when a show leaves a series on a cliff hanger and we have to wait months until the new seasons come back on screen and when they finally do, you often forget about the previous series and often now in TV shows, they only last a short period of time, this also gets me really annoyed.

I am not alone in this debate; research has shown that there are a lot of people who also share my view;

“When watching series, it gets to a good part then just ends… I don’t understand why they do this… Even worse leaving us on a cliff hanger. This is what gets us annoyed”.

“Because say if they leave it on a cliff hanger then start a new season and we have to wait a couple of months for the next season… then finally when the new season comes out we forget what has happened so we have to watch it all together again, this is really annoying!!!” One example of this is Orange is the New Black…

I have watched this for a couple of years and the last season I watched was left on a really bad cliff hanger where an inmate had a gun pointing to police officers. This seemed to annoy a lot of people. The inmates were having a riot and police officer was left at gun point and this got us all really excited then it just ended… we had to wait 5 months or more for the next season to come out and when it finally did, viewers had forgotten about what had happened.

This image above shows how it ended! With a cliff hanger…

“I just finished watching OITNB season 4, and my chest feels tight.” I actually felt like someone gave me bad news, and the food I was about to eat got cold because I lost my appetite.

“in season 4, the formula failed, and they had a bit too much of both. I walked away from it feeling heavy, like someone had just placed an anvil on my shoulders and didn’t tell me how to get it off. Add a dash of feeling offended and a scoop of downtroddeness and you have some of my feels afterwards.

They went wrong. OITNB took a season-long wrong turn and I am hella disappointed about it”.

When a television series or film leaves their viewers on a cliff hanger, sometimes it doesn’t leave us wanting more and hanging on the edge of our seats. Sometimes it leaves us feeling the opposite as though the unanswered questions are a deterrent to watching the program again, especially when there is a 5-month gap between the next series.

Personally, I think cliff hangers are pointless and that they should finish the story line and not make us wait so long, as people get bored and this will lose peoples interest and sometimes stop watching it.

Some of the best films and TV series didn’t have to finish each story/film/episode on a cliff hanger, so why do some TV programs feel like they have to? For example; Each of the Harry Potter films ended leaving their audiences satisfied, but still wanting more because the narration was so good. Episodes such as Suits start and end with one story and still leave their viewers wanting more. Each episode starts with a new story.

It has been stated that;

“viewers hate cliff-hangers. It presupposes that viewers won’t tune-in but for the cliff-hanger. When, in reality, fans of a television show are more likely to tune-in regardless of the cliff-hanger. That is why they are fans – they keep coming back. Fans by their very nature are dedicated and committed. They do not need to be toyed with and manipulated.”

I agree with the above quote. As a big fan of Orange is the New Black, I watch the program because I enjoy the narration. They didn’t have to annoy me by leaving one of my favourite shows on a cliff hanger. I would have still waited 5 months to watch the new series because I enjoy the program. When it ended on a cliff hanger, I was extremely annoyed and not left wanting but left feeling disappointed.

So why do some TV series and movies think they should leave it on a cliff hanger?

The above comments show some viewer views on cliff hangers. One of them agrees with me and the second agrees that if the cliff hanger is done in an excellent way, the sometimes the cliff hanger is a great way to end a movie.

Some people will disagree with me and think that ending movies on a cliff hanger is brilliant way to end a film;

“The cartoon's sixth-season finale pulled off the best 'Who shot JR?' spoof ever by rounding up a long list of suspects who might want Montgomery Burns dead.

The final off-camera scenes were surprisingly tense at the time, as we tried to work out who was the perp. In the end, it was innocent lil' Maggie, of all people”.

The “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” two-part series was a major milestone for The Simpsons. The contest surrounding the who did it provided fans with an unprecedented opportunity to interact with the show in the search for clues.

It was stated that the “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One” is such an inspired romp that I can’t find a reason to fault the show for not being able to follow through on it 100 percent.”

This was how season 6 of the Simpsons series finished and everyone loved it.

Further research has stated that if cliff hangers are done well, then it will leave people wanting more, but there is a fine line between a good cliff hanger and a bad cliff hanger.

“A good cliff-hanger can leave you itching for more, but an unresolved ending that isn't satisfying can leave you scratching your head”. (

When carrying out research about cliff hangers, A writer named Jennifer Ellis questioning whether cliff hangers were a good idea or not. She stated; “this has made me start thinking a bit more about cliff-hangers are they a good idea or not?”

“cliff hanger endings can cause varying degrees of rage among fans depending on how the person felt the writer handled them”.

After all of the research I have carried out, this seems to be a common theme. If the cliff hanger is done well, then audience members are left feeling more engaged and wanting more. If a TV series ends suddenly leaving the audience with unanswered questions, this can leave the audience feeling extremely frustrated and in my opinion is a bad narration.

After reading through some research about favourite cliff hangers but why they are frustrating, I find that the best cliff hangers are when the show comes to a conclusion but leaves an open question or a what happen next… I think these seem to be when cliff hangers are done correctly, however when a show or film comes to an abrupt end and just finished out of nowhere, these are bad and extremely frustrating.

Overall, my views on cliff hangers on TV series and Films are similar. I would like to watch some of the episodes which I have found during my research to see how these cliff hangers are different from Orange is the New Black to see I they frustrate me in the same way or whether it is because the writing of the ending of the 4th series was written badly.

Because I haven’t watched any TV series which has finished on a good cliff hanger, in my opinion shows shouldn’t use them, but if I maybe watch a show which has really good reviews from its use of cliff hangers, I might change my opinion on whether they should be used or not and if my opinion does change, there could be a secret formula to writing a good cliff hanger which all TV and Movies should use.



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