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Cliffhanger
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{{Other uses}}{{Redirect|To be continued|other uses|To Be Continued (disambiguation)}}File:Perilsofpauline.jpg|thumb|Poster of the 1914 Perils of Pauline, which popularized the term cliffhanger in the medium of film.]]A cliffhanger, or cliffhanger ending, is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episodeSome are placed before commercial breaks of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.Some serials end with the caveat "To Be Continued…" or "The End?" In movie serials and television series, the following episode sometimes begins with a recap sequence.

History

Cliffhangers were used as literary devices in several works of the medieval era. The Arabic literary work One Thousand and One Nights involves Scheherazade narrating a series of stories to King Shahryār for 1,001 nights, with each night ending on a cliffhanger in order to save herself from execution.BOOK, Snodgrass, Mary Ellen, Encyclopedia of the Literature of Empire., 2009, Infobase Publishing, New York, 1438119062, 292,weblink BOOK, Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E., Gender in History: Global Perspectives, 2011, John Wiley & Sons, 9781444351729, 86,weblink en, Some medieval Chinese ballads like the Liu chih-yuan chu-kung-tiao ended each chapter on a cliffhanger to keep the audience in suspense.BOOK, The Columbia History of Chinese Literature, 797-798, Mair, Victor H., Columbia University Press, 2001, 9780231109840, Cliffhangers later appeared as an element of the Victorian serial novel that emerged in the 1840s, with many associating the form with Charles Dickens, a pioneer of the serial publication of narrative fiction.NEWS, The curious staying power of the cliffhanger.,weblink The New Yorker, 28 November 2017, no,weblink 1 December 2017, Grossman, Jonathan H. (2012). Charles Dickens's Networks: Public Transport and the Novel. p. 54. Oxford: Oxford University Press. By the 1860s it had become a staple part of the sensation serials, while the term itself originated with Thomas Hardy in 1873 when a protagonist from one of his serials, Henry Knight, was left hanging off a cliff.

Victorian serials and term origin

Cliffhangers became prominent with the serial publication of narrative fiction, pioneered by Charles Dickens. Printed episodically in magazines, Dickens’s cliffhangers triggered desperation in his readers. Writing in the New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum captured the anticipation of those waiting for the next installment of Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop;
The impact of Dickens' serial publications saw the cliffhanger become a staple part of the sensation serials by the 1860s.Allen, Rob (2014). "Serialization in Popular Culture". p. 41. Routledge The term "cliffhanger" is considered to have originated with the serialised version of Thomas Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes (which was published in Tinsley's Magazine between September 1872 and July 1873) in which Henry Knight, one of the protagonists, is left hanging off a cliff.WEB, Diniejko,, Andrzej, Thomas Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes As a Cliffhanger with a Post-Darwinian Message,weblink The Victorian Web, 27 January 2017, no,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20170202032925weblink">weblink 2 February 2017,

Serial media

Cliffhangers were especially popular in 1920s and 1930s serials when movie theaters filled the cultural niche later primarily occupied by television. Cliffhangers are often used in television series, especially soap operas that end each episode on a cliffhanger. Prior to the early 1980s, season-ending cliffhangers were rare on U.S. television. The first such season-ender on U.S. TV was in the comedy send-up of soap operas Soap in 1978. Several Australian soap operas, which went off air over summer, such as Number 96, The Restless Years, and Prisoner, ended each year with major and much publicized catastrophe, such as a character being shot in the final seconds of the year's closing episode.Cliffhangers are commonly used in Japanese manga and anime. In contrast to American superhero comics, Japanese manga are much more frequently written with cliffhangers, often with each volume or issue. This is particularly the case with shōnen manga, especially those published by Weekly Shōnen Jump, such as Dragon Ball, Shaman King, and One Piece.BOOK, Mylonas, Eric, Dragon Ball Z: Super Sonic Warriors, 2004, Prima Games, 0761546758, 3,weblink JOURNAL, Brandweek, Volume 47, Brandweek, January 2006, 47, 79,weblink Adweek L.P., en, During its original run, Doctor Who was written in a serialised format that usually ended each episode within a serial on a cliffhanger. In the first few years of the show, the final episodes of each serial would have a cliffhanger that would lead into the next serial. Dragonfire Part One is notable for having a cliffhanger that involved The Doctor literally hanging from a cliff. This has been frequently criticised by fans for being a pointless cliffhanger, but script editor Andrew Cartmel gave an explanation for the reasoning of it in an interview.{{citation needed|date=December 2018}}Cliffhangers were rare on American television before 1980, as television networks preferred the flexibility of airing episodes in any order. The phenomenal success of the 1980 "Who shot J.R.?" third season-ending cliffhanger of Dallas, and the "Who Done It" fourth-season episode that finally solved the mystery, contributed to the cliffhanger becoming a common storytelling device on television.NEWS,weblink TELEVISION; When J. R. Was Shot The Cliffhanger Was Born, The New York Times, 1995-05-07, June 14, 2012, Meisler, Andy, no,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20130511043521weblink">weblink May 11, 2013, Another notable cliffhanger was the "Moldavian Massacre" on Dynasty in 1985, which fueled speculation throughout the summer months regarding who lived or died when almost all the characters attended a wedding in the country of Moldavia, only to have revolutionaries topple the government and machine-gun the entire wedding party.The two main ways for cliffhangers to keep readers/viewers coming back is to either involve characters in a suspenseful, possibly life-threatening situation, or to feature a sudden shocking revelation. Cliffhangers are also used to leave open the possibility of a character being killed off due to the actor not continuing to play the role.Cliffhangers are also sometimes deliberately inserted by writers who are uncertain whether a new series or season will be commissioned, in the hope that viewers will demand to know how the situation is resolved. Such was the case with the second season of Twin Peaks, which ended in a cliffhanger similar to the first season with a high degree of uncertainty about the fate of the protagonist, but the cliffhanger could not save the show from being canceled, resulting in the unresolved ending.The cliffhanger has become a genre staple (especially in comics, due to the multi-part storylines becoming the norm instead of self-contained stories). To such a degree, in fact, that series writers no longer feel they have to be immediately resolved, or even referenced, when the next episode is shown,WEB,weblink The IT Crowd: Tramps Like Us, Noise to Signal, 2012-11-21, no,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20130311215959weblink">weblink 2013-03-11, variously because the writer didn't feel it was "a strong enough opener,"WEB,weblink …and we like tramps! « Why, That’s Delightful!, Whythatsdelightful.wordpress.com, 2012-11-21, no,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20120324010610weblink">weblink 2012-03-24, or simply "couldn't be bothered."WEB, Ben Falk,weblink One of the IT Crowd | Manchester Evening News - menmedia.co.uk, Manchester Evening News, 2007-08-24, 2012-11-21, The heavily serialized television drama True Blood has become notorious for cliffhangers. Not only do the seasons conclude with cliffhangers, but almost every episode finishes at a cliffhanger directly after or during a highly dramatic moment.WEB,weblink 'True Blood' Finale Sets Up More Cliffhangers, Buddytv.com, 2009-09-14, 2012-11-21, no,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20121020081054weblink">weblink 2012-10-20, Commercial breaks can be a nuisance to script writers because some sort of incompleteness or minor cliffhanger should be provided before each to stop the viewer from changing channels during the commercial break. Sometimes a series ends with an unintended cliffhanger caused by a very abrupt ending without a satisfactory dénouement, but merely assuming that the viewer will assume that everything sorted itself out.Sometimes a movie, book, or season of a television show will end with the defeat of the main villain before a second, evidently more powerful villain makes a brief appearance (becoming the villain of the next film). Occasionally an element other than a villain is also used to tease at a sequel.

See also

References

{{reflist}}

Books

  • Vincent Fröhlich: Der Cliffhanger und die serielle Narration. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2015. {{ISBN|978-3837629767}}.

External links

{{Narrative modes}}

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