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The History and Impact of the Cliffhanger

The cliffhanger has become increasingly common in television as a means to sustain an audience’s interest. Explore the history of when and how the cliffhanger originated. Also analyze the impacts of the cliffhanger? Does it engage an audience and make them want to continue watching the show to see what happens? Does a cliffhanger’s impact depend on the duration of wait time between episodes or seasons? Or is the cliffhanger losing impact and resulting in frustrated viewers?

  • I believe with most trends in television show narratives they are designed to manage flow across (extended watching in a daypart) and through (continued watching in a week), which are programming principles. Ratings data is more powerful when there are "blocks" of programming, so networks (used to) bundle a series of new or anchor shows in primetime in the hopes of branding things like "Must See TV" for example. Sadly, I wish there was something more interesting afoot with cliffhangers, but they really are the oldest trick in the book that dates back to radio serials of the 30-40's. – Jason052714 8 years ago
  • No, no please don't dis the cliffhanger. As long as the conclusion is satisfying and delivers then it is okay to use it. Maybe the writer of this topic could look at the some of the greatest cliffhangers of all time. Remember "24"? The solutions were as Byzantine and created more questions than answers. – Munjeera 8 years ago
  • Maybe talk about why cliffhangers effect us and how they effect us. What is the science behind why they make us want to watch more or why they anger us so much. Look at how fans reacted to cliffhangers and why they reacted in this way. Even maybe explore why writers of the show use cliffhangers and if they are useful to keep people interested in show. – Mel 8 years ago