Friday, 23 June 2017 / 4 Comments

Let's talk about spoilers

Discussion posts aren't something I do often, but this has been playing on my mind, so let's give it a go.


Some people love them, some people hate them, some people will happily carve out your tongue if you even hint at a spoiler. I used to love them. In fact, my search for spoilers is how I met my husband (it's a long story). However, I changed my mind, and now I'm the type of person who would carve your tongue out or chop off your fingers if you spoil something that I'm looking forward to.

Why the change? It was Buffy. Back in 2003, before streaming was a thing and when broadband was something you could only dream about in suburban Australia, we had to wait until the network decided to air a show some months after it had been shown in the US. It was the season finale, the final episode ever, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. So, I went online and read a recap. It might have been on the great Television Without Pity, or somewhere else, it doesn't matter really (although the TWoP recap is still available here), what matters is that it was, of course, full of spoilers. And I wanted that, I really did. I couldn't wait several months to watch to find out what happened, I needed to know immediately. 

I won't spoil it for you, just in case you haven't managed to catch it in the last 14 years and still want to do so some time in the future, but a major character dies. It happens quickly and without fanfare and if you blinked, you'd miss it. If I hadn't known it was going to happen, it would have had an incredible impact. But I knew that it happened, and so it just left me cold. The reaction when the other characters found out still made me sob, but the moment itself was lost to me.

That's what spoilers do, they steal the impact from moments that have been created with such care by authors or script writers, actors and directors. Emotion can come from different things - it can come from the slow build up (character has cancer, they're going to die, everyone knows it, but you still sob when it happens), or it can be sudden and unexpected. Or it can be a combination. You know The Fault in Our Stars isn't going to have a happy ever after ending when you go into it, but you don't know what form that will take, and nor should you.

The book that has sparked this particular rant is Lord of Shadows, by Cassandra Clare. Clare loves tormenting her readers, and life isn't easy for her Shadowhunters. There are forbidden romances, prohibited by ancient laws, war is never far away, and Shadowhunters don't have the best life expectancy. Friends turn out to be enemies, evil is at every turn and for some, the entire world seems to be conspiring to keep them apart. I was thoroughly enjoying Lord of Shadows and had made it through 600 of the 700 pages when I went online to look up a particular family tree. Someone kept being told they looked familiar, and I was trying to figure out why (I may not like spoilers, but I do like figuring things out in advance). And there it was. A character who was still very much alive in the book was listed with their date of death.

That was it. You know there's a very high likelihood of someone dying in one of these books, they don't come without a body count, but at this point of the book, it was going to be a shock, and it was going to be heartbreaking. So I spent the next 100 pages waiting for this person to die. And when it happened, what should have torn me to shreds barely got a sniffle. Knowing what I knew ruined the impact of the ending so much, that I only gave the book 4 stars. Now, it's not the fault of the book or the author, but I review based on how much I've enjoyed the book, not purely on its merits.

Being spoiled in this way was an accident. I couldn't know it was going to happen, and no one intentionally set out to spoil me, but there are people that do.

So, the point of all this is to say don't spoil things for people. Don't be an arsehole who needs to tell everyone the ending of the film, or the twist in the TV show, or the climax of a book. Let people discover it for themselves. Let them have that joy or heartbreak for themselves. Don't rob them of that.

And if you update a wiki site for a popular series, maybe don't update the characters' death dates until a few months after the book is released (or you know, stick a spoiler warning in at the top of the article).

Have you been spoiled recently? Do you love spoilers and disagree with me wholeheartedly? Let me know in the comments.
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  1. I completely agree! I detest spoilers, and will avoid them by any means necessary! I feel like I'm being robbed out of something really amazing, that impacting moment when you finally get the mystery, or when a character dies, etc. It's like life, really. I wouldn't want someone to tell me how my life is going to play out, even if they knew what its outcome would be: I'd rather know it when I get to it! Thanks for the post!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

    1. Yes! I want to be able to live that moment, whether it's real, or in a book or film.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. My friend spoiled the twist in The Wasp Factory for me 25 years ago (without even telling me the name of the book, so I didn't even realise for a while that it was spoiled... until it all sounded very familiar) so I like to avoid if possible. (I haven't watched Buffy yet so thanks for not spoiling that...) but at the same time sometimes I know I won't read something and want to know what happens anyway. The spoiler hider on Goodreads is a useful thing.

    1. I haven't read that one, but how could you not have seen Buffy? Go watch immediately!


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