8 Amazing TV Cliffhangers That Ultimately Disappointed Everyone
Much as we might protest, everybody loves a good cliffhanger ending—the wait (however long) might be agony, but they always ensure we're back next season, or even just next week.
But the truly great examples have a pay-off to match the set-up: there's nothing worse than a limp resolution to an epic cliffhanger. Here are a few times some of our favorite shows couldn't quite get themselves out of a very dramatic hole...
(Warning: Spoilers below.)
1| True Detective - Colin Farrell is (not) shot dead
Season two of HBO's murky mystery thriller introduced us to Colin Farrell's Detective Ray Velcoro—then, just two episodes in, he's shot by a mystery assailant, with a shotgun, at point blank range. Fade to black!
What a great twist, killing off your movie star lead early on. Did not see that coming.
Oh, hold on. Ray didn't die. Turns out he was shot with "riot shells", as we discover minutes into the next episode. This naff twist was but one of many reasons why the True Detective sequel was less well-received than its predecessor.
2| The Simpsons - Who Shot Mr. Burns?
Perhaps saying that this particular cliffhanger fizzled out is a bit unfair as 'Who Shot Mr. Burns?' Part 2 is pretty damn hilarious. But the actual resolution and explanation—that baby Maggie shot the most hated man in Springfield—while very funny, doesn't quite live up to the set-up.
Years later, the show itself even recognized this, in season 9's 'The Cartridge Family', with Homer misremembering that Smithers shot Mr. Burns. "That would have made a lot more sense," Lisa commented wryly.
3| The X-Files - Mulder's big death fake-out
In the opening minutes of the season 4 finale, Scully (Gillian Anderson) enters Mulder's apartment and, while standing over a dead body, is asked if it's "him." She replies in the positive.
The episode even ends with Scully confirming that "Agent Mulder died late last night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head." NO!
No, indeed. He was still very much alive.
The next season begins with the revelation that Scully was lying. The body wasn't her partner's, it was man-in-black Ostelhoff, who, it transpires, had been killed by Mulder. What a gip!
4| The Walking Dead - The zombie swarm in 'Start to Finish'
This midseason finale from 2015 shocked fans by ending with the character Sam calling out for his mother as a zombie horde descended, drawing attention to himself and Rick Grimes. Cut to black. Great way to go out.
The following episode—aired the following year—picks up moments later, revealing that the flesh-eating walkers couldn't care less and our heroes escape intact. No harm done.
Unsurprisingly, according to Rotten Tomatoes, 'Start to Finish' is the worst-reviewed installment of The Walking Dead, receiving just 35%.
5| Sherlock - Enter Eurus Holmes
Sherlock has a sister? Great. Interesting twist. Love it.
But we love less the resolution to this cliffhanger reveal, which also had Eurus shooting poor old John Watson (Martin Freeman) in the face.
The next we see of Watson in 'The Final Problem', he's running around Mycroft's place like nothing happened. We later discover that he was shot with a tranquillizer (and not in the face).
6| 24 - David Palmer's not-so-near-death experience
After shaking the hand of assassin Mandy, President David Palmer is infected with a virus – the show's second season ends with Palmer falling to the ground, gasping for air while the audience hear his fading heartbeat and the panicked babble of the crowd around him.
Classic season finale death!
Except...nope. The third season opens three years later (bah!) and, bar some scarring on his hand, Palmer's fine.
7| Doctor Foster - Gemma plots murder (twice)
Series two of the hit BBC One soap—sorry, drama—opened strong with a bleak first episode, as a revenge-thirsty Gemma Foster ( Suranne Jones) first dissolved her wedding ring in acid, then prepared four syringes—a wicked glint in her eye—as we watched her ex-husband Simon happily sitting down to dinner with his son, new wife and baby.
Spoiler: she did not kill them.
Later on, in episode 5, the penultimate instalment closed on a desperate Gemma behind the wheel and about to mow Simon down.
Spoiler: she did not kill him.
8| Line of Duty - Roz and Tim's kitchen clash
Look, we all love Line of Duty and we all know what a great show it is. But didn't the opening episode of series 4 go just a bit too far in its attempts to dupe us?
Said opener ended with a seemingly dead Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton) about to be hacked up by her panicked nemesis Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins). Then, at the final second, millions gasped as the DCI opened her eyes—cue titles. Brilliant. Love it.
Cut to next episode and, instead of an immediate pay-off, we have DS Fleming (Vicky McClure) interrogating suspect Michael Farmer. We had to wait aaaaages for confirmation as to what happened between Roz and Tim. (She fought him off and he was killed in the process, all off-screen.)
From: Digital Spy
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.