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10 Most Unforgettable Cliffhangers in TV History

Wait for It

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Cliffhangers have been a staple of sitcoms and dramas since the early days of television. While our favorite characters don’t actually hang from cliffs anymore, they are put in life-threatening situations and encounter game-changing twists that keep us watching. As we await the resolution to last week’s Garfunkel and Oates (What’s going on with Kate’s Peter Pan Syndrome? What about Riki’s eggs?), check out our list of 10 of the most memorable TV cliffhangers.

Oh, and it’s safe to say, SPOILERS AHEAD.

10. Sledge Hammer!, “The Spa Who Loved Me”

The season one finale of this underrated ’80s sitcom spoofed over-the-top cliffhangers by following a nuclear explosion that ostensibly killed off the show’s characters with the onscreen tease, “To Be Continued…Next Season?” When the show returned for season two, it was suddenly set five years before the explosion.


9. 24, “Day 2: 7:00 a.m. — 8:00 am”

During its first couple seasons, 24 excelled at the sort of insane twists that made the show instant watercooler fodder. One of the best season-ending cliffhangers came when President Palmer gets a surprise poisonous handshake courtesy of mystery baddie Mandy.


8. Dynasty, “Royal Wedding”

When it came to twists, the ’80s soap Dynasty always went to 11. So it’s no surprise that the writers topped Dallas‘ “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger by having some terrorists turn Amanda and Michael’s royal wedding into a bloodbath. When the show came back in the fall of 1985, it turned out that only a couple of minor characters had died. Had Twitter existed back then, it’s safe to say #Dynastycopout would’ve been trending.


7. Friends, “The One with Ross’s Wedding, Part 2”

To fully appreciate this cliffhanger, you have to flashback to 1998 when everyone cared about whether Ross and Rachel would end up together. Are you there? Okay. Oh. My. God. Can you believe that Ross said Rachel’s name at the altar?? Do you think he’ll marry Emily? As if! Could he be any more in love with Rachel??


6. Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1”

“I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile.” Noo! Captain Picard has been assimilated by the Borg! And we have to wait until next season to find out what happened??? Sigh, better drown our sorrows in Crystal Pepsi and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pudding pies, this being the ’90s and all.

5. The Simpsons, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?, Part 1”

Long before FXX marathons and Family Guy crossovers, The Simpsons captured the zeitgeist with a season-ending cliffhanger that spoofed the famed “Who Shot J.R.?” episodes of Dallas. FOX held a contest over the summer of 1995 where fans could call a 1-800 number (remember when people actually did that?) and offer their guess for who shot Springfield’s most hated citizen.


4. Lost, “Through the Looking Glass”

“We have to go back.” With those words, Lost changed courses as what viewers thought were pre-island flashbacks were revealed to be flashforwards. Fans were left with tons of questions, most of which would never be answered. Sigh, we were so naive back then.


3. Twin Peaks, “The Last Evening”

Cocreator David Lynch ensured that Twin Peaks got a second season by putting every major character in jeopardy by the end of the season one finale. To make matters worse, the series finale also ended on a cliffhanger with Cooper seemingly possessed by the spirit of Bob. And we didn’t even have Tumblr to post our crazy plot theories and Audrey Horne dancing GIFs on.


2. Breaking Bad, “Full Measure”

Breaking Bad excelled at cliffhangers, often delivering several in the same episode. But the finale scene of season three, which left the fate of both Gale and Jesse’s soul in question, is easily the most heartbreaking.


1. Dallas, “A House Divided”

The “Who Shot J.R.?” mystery set the template for many a cliffhanger to come. The formula is simple: put a major character in jeopardy, make fans wait until the next season for the outcome, and then offer a half-baked resolution that does little to change the status quo.

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

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It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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