What do religion, politics, and television cliffhangers all have in common? All three can be extremely divisive and lead to heated debate. Case in point: The Walking Dead’s season six finale. (Spoiler Alert) After the show aired, frustrated fans and critics alike were left left asking: “Who did Negan kill?!"
Critics have called the head-scratching cliffhanger “terrible” and fans of the horror series have gone as far as to petition AMC—who airs the show—to explain the ending. As of the writing of this article, the Change.org petition has garnered 9,846 signatures out of 10,000.
“I would like AMC to show us who Negan killed in the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead,” wrote petition organizer Mason Cade Packer. “We want this either in an interim episode that borders Season 6 and 7, or a short R-Rated webisode that shows us the death in all it's bloody glory. Either of these are fine as long as it's released before May 30th.”
Luckily for television fans, not every season finale has been as disappointing as The Walking Dead’s cliffhanger. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best cliffhangers in television history.
Episode: A House Divided (1980)
Even if you’ve never watched the popular ‘80s soap opera drama Dallas, you’re probably familiar with the phrase “Who shot J.R.?” The surprise shooting of the show’s nefarious J.R. Ewing gripped the nation and was the highest rated TV episode at that time. The episode has been parodied by everyone from Saturday Night Live to The Simpsons. Fans had to wait eight months until Kristin Shepard, J.R.'s scheming sister-in-law was revealed as the shooter.
Episode: Who Shot Mr. Burn’s? Part One (1995)
A parody of the famous Dallas episode, The Simpson’s season six cliffhanger caused almost as much speculation as its source material. After the episode aired in 1995, Fox offered a contest challenging fans to identify the culprit and aired a special episode entitled “Springfield’s Most Wanted” that aired prior to the show’s season seven premiere. In case you don’t recall, Maggie (the baby) did it.
Episode: Through the Looking Glass (2007)
Considered one of the greatest episodes in television history, Lost’s two-hour season three finale continued the show’s theme of providing more questions than answers to viewers. The highly-watched episode not only featured the death of Charlie Pace, it also contained the show’s first flash-forward. The episode was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards and has been routinely ranked as one of the show’s best episodes.
Episode: Gliding Over All (2012)
It wasn't a matter of if, but of when. In Breaking Bad's season five mid-season finale, DEA agent Hank Schrader learns that his brother-in-law Walter White is in fact Heisenberg—the drug kingpin he has been investigating. As Hank comes to the uneasy realization, the audience was left to anticipate what the DEA agent would do when the series returned. The episode gets its name from a poem in Walt Whitman'sLeaves of Grass, which is prominently featured in the episode and the series.
Episode: The One with Ross’s Wedding (1998)
Although there are a plethora of Friends season finales that are worthy of this list, there are none better than the two-part season four final episode. The memorable cliffhanger concludes with the camera focused on a shocked Rachel after Ross mistakenly says, “I take thee, Rachel” while standing at the alter about to marry Emily. The cliffhanger left fans eagerly awaiting whether Ross and Rachel would get back together and also featured one of the show’s most memorable twists in which Chandler and Monica end up in bed together.
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