Even before the age of social media, television shows and films have made a habit of inadvertently sharing spoilers within individual episodes. These were often hard to ignore, as anyone who watched The Sixth Sense (I see dead people, anyone?) could testify.
Make no mistake; however, the proliferation of social media and sites such as Twitter has made spoilers an inescapable part of modern, TV viewing.
Twitter in particular has been responsible for some truly shocking plot spoilers during the last decade, with some seminal TV moments ruined for millions of viewers across the globe. In this post, and in no particular order, we will look at three of the most famous occasions when Twitter ruined television.
The Red Wedding, Game of Thrones (aired on 06.02.2013)
Recently, ParcelsPlease.com developed a fiendish Halloween service in which customers could send their friends key plot spoilers and reveals in a harmless looking parcel. This was based on the fact that 64% of Brits have admitted to spoilers ruining their enjoyment of certain shows, with Game of Thrones the most likely to be disrupted.
Back in 2013, Twitter certainly spoiled the infamous Red Wedding episode for a number of viewers. In this particularly harrowing episode, Robb Stark, his new bride and hundreds of others in his party were slaughtered in an ambush at the hands of Lord Walder Frey and the Lannisters.
While Stark’s death at the hands of Frey was hardly a surprise given his breaking of a marriage pact and the structure of the narrative, the sheer scale of the massacre and its brutality was being dissected on Twitter within minutes of the last dagger being plunged.
If you were unlucky enough to miss the first airing of the show, those pesky Twitter followers would have made sure that there was little point in watching it the next time around.
Gus Fring dies, Breaking Bad (aired on 10.09.2011)
Once again, the death of Gus Frings at the end of Breaking Bad season four did not come as a surprise. After all, the entire season was focused on the growing tension between Walter White and his ruthless boss, while the evolution of the former as a drug-lord in his own right meant that the franchise was no longer big enough for the pair of them.
In a show like Breaking Bad, however, it is the skilful execution of these narratives and Fring’s death that make the show so alluring. This is where Twitter managed to spoil Gus’ dramatic demise, with real-time references to ‘two-face’ and ‘The Terminator’ serving as huge spoilers about the nature of the chicken superemos death.
This is an unforgivable sin, and one that Twitter followers commit on an all-too regular basis. With that being said, the death scene is so spectacular and well executed that even spoilers could not stop it being essential viewing.
Russo’s Murder, House of Cards (aired on 02.01.2013)
House of Cards was a trail-blazer in many ways, not least because it managed to make ‘breaking the wall’ an acceptable TV practice. It was also one of the first shows that Netflix released as entire seasons’ enabling viewers to watch each one at entirely different paces.
This was fine for those who like to binge-watch, but for anyone who needs to stagger their viewing habits it raises the risk of being exposed to plot twists and potential spoilers through the medium of Twitter.
This was evident during the dramatic season one finale, when local bad boy Peter Russo’s attempt at redemption is brutally ended by the sociopathic Frank Underwood. This was a seminal moment in the whole franchise, as while we always new Underwood was ruthless his transition into a cold-blooded killer who willing to get his hands dirty still came as something of a twist.
Unfortunately, many viewers were well aware of this twist long before they got the chance to see it, while Twitter’s reaction and muted and staggered across a period of weeks.