How to Avoid Movie and TV Spoilers

Published 6 months ago by

Avoiding Spoilers Rules and Etiquette How to Avoid Movie and TV Spoilers

“No Spoilers!” It’s become a common term in a culture where media consumption is a customizable hobby. Where once we all had to watch shows and movies as they were aired on TV or premiered in the theater, advancements in technology have given us increasing options as to how, and when, we engage a show or film. Of course, with those increases in choice have come inevitable fractures in the flow of discourse surrounding TV and cinema: not everyone sees everything at the same time, so therefore we cannot all discuss things at the same time.

Though the cultural zeitgeist still seems to move at a real-time pace, there are definitely fewer and fewer surfers riding that initial wave, leaving scores of people floating on choppy waters, where unwanted information can suddenly come splashing into their face. Hence, a warning system – SPOILER ALERT – was created to help protect those who don’t yet want to be inundated with information before they’re ready to take the dip.

By now, most people reading this surely know: the current system is no real protection. Within the last two years, you or someone you know has been affected by spoilers – and you’ve probably wished that you had some sort of better strategy for staying unaware of the big twist, reveal or development in that show you’ve been diligently watching or that movie you haven’t yet been able to see. Well, we’re here to help you do just that.

Here’s the How to Avoid Spoilers:

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AVOID THE INTERNET

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I’m sorry – did you think this was going to be a long essay full of bullet point 1-2-3 strategies for avoiding those nagging spoilers? Sorry to burst your bubble (pun intended, as you’ll soon see), but the answer is really quite simple: Want to avoid potentially upsetting information? Then avoid taking a spin down the information super-highway.

Game of Thrones Spoilers Meme 1024x576 How to Avoid Movie and TV Spoilers

Some people reading this may be too young to recall a time when the Interwebs were referred to as the “information super-highway,” but it’s a fitting term in this case. The Internet is literally a place where information is traded at stunning speed, with expansive reach; it’s pretty much a fallacy to believe that all of that information, with all of that reach, can be controlled or tailored in a way that allows one to decide what they will or will not see when they go surfing on the Web. Especially when you add in the wildcard variable of social media; there is no way to predict or control what another human being is going to say or promote on their own personal Internet platform.

But therein lies the current problem: the continued fallacy that Internet can be a customized and filtered bubble tailor fit to our individual specifications.

Isn’t that the latest trend? Sites or apps or plugins that offer us the ability to craft a warm Internet bubble around ourselves? Where only the information we WANT to see penetrates that bubble? We set our “feeds” to feed us only the material we want; turn off awareness of conversations we no longer want to engage in; banish “friends” or “followers” if/when they express something that displeases us; etc. Everyone’s internet is their own world and they are master of it – up until that SPOILER comes crashing in to pop the bubble.

The angry fanboy How to Avoid Movie and TV Spoilers

Isn’t that the anger behind the anger? That someone not only ruined a show or movie for us – they violated the sovereignty of our bubble! How dare they? We reign over this Net space – and your trespass is not allowed! I’m as guilty of this as anyone, to be sure – which is why I suddenly had the opportunity to realize something fascinating:

About 98.9% of my tragic spoiler stories were Internet-based.

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Avoiding The Internet = Avoiding Most SPOILERS

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You might be shocked to find out that non-digital life is mostly free of spoilers. When engaged in an activity that does not require a screen, I rarely find myself in a situation where I’m being showered with unwanted information. A stroll outside or time spent reading a book doesn’t tend to ruin Breaking Bad for me (restrain yourself if you think it’s clever to point out that reading a book based on a show or movie is a spoiler).

breaking bad How to Avoid Movie and TV Spoilers

On those rare occasions I find myself in a public place where people are discussing potentially spoilerish TV or movie topics, I’ve been shocked to discover that a friendly request for discretion (“Hey, couldn’t help to overhear your conversation – I’m not caught up yet.”) almost always results in the other party voluntarily agreeing to preserve the sanctity of your viewing experience. (Apparently, real people tend be more kindly than the psychopathic mobs on the Internet. They care that you enjoy the experience as they did – it’s this mythical thing called “empathy.”)

In those few instances where etiquette fails, I can either walk away or tune out unwanted discussion. The one time in life I had a rude person purposely ruin a movie for a group of people in earshot (Se7en, doesn’t get much bigger than that), unlike the Internet, I got to enjoy first-hand watching people turn on that guy and let him have what he deserved. In general, non-digital life is a pretty reliable system for avoiding spoilers.

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We CAN Improve Internet Etiquette, Too. 

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Am I saying that the Internet should NOT have to reflect the etiquette, empathy and civility that most people tend to extend toward one another in day-to-day interactions? Nah. The Interwebs are often weird, crazy and savage (trust me, I know), and it could definitely use some maturation. Maybe when a generation is living in the shadow of regretful posts and tweets from their youth, society will finally understand that the Internet is not an outhouse with a bottomless pit under it – but that’s a whole other discussion.

Rude Spoiler People How to Avoid Movie and TV Spoilers

Dealing with the reality of the moment: right now, you simply can’t count on your fellow human beings to keep their mouths shut about what happened last night on The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Sad but true. So, if you want to truly preserve the sweet satisfaction of an unspoiled viewing experience, better think long and hard (phrasing) before you pick up that smartphone or tablet – or turn on your computer around the release date or air time of that movie or TV show you eventually want to see.

…One wrong look, and your precious little bubble could end up getting burst.

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ALSO: The Truth About Spoiler Alerts

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Follow me and talk movies @ppnkof

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TAGS: agents of shield, arrow, batman, batman vs superman, captain america 2, game of thrones, spider-man, superman, the amazing spider-man 2, the avengers, the avengers 2, the walking dead, x-men, x-men days of future past

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  1. Honestly, yeah one has to avoid the web. Which is nearly impossible anymore. Also one needs to avoid television or at least commercials altogether. Since movie trailers and sometimes even TV promos put waaaaaaaaay too much info and even spoilers in them.

    • Exactly. Internet it horrible for it, but I’ve also tried to cut myself OFF of trailers and promos, especially as the release date nears for something. It’s like they’re so worried about you not wanting to watch the movie, they’re trying to tell you the whole story before hand. Urg.

  2. “Apparently, real people tend be more kindly than the psychopathic mobs on the Internet.”

    This is a beautiful statement. There really is something about face-to-face interaction that brings out the civility in us all.

    mac :]

    • I actually think that the Internet brings out what people truly feel and think, and that real life interactions are hidden behind societal niceties.

      I’m not say it’s right, mind you.

      • telling it like it is.

    • Difference face to face conversation have set of etiquette, don’t cause boredom toward your friend, got to read body language and figure out next set of conversation in your head. While internet persona you can edit it immediately such as in forums have html code to hide spoilers. Yet anime website still lacking in spoiler tag.

  3. The amount of times people in the US complain about everyone else around the world with “you should watch online then, the internet actually exists, use it if you want to catch up and avoid spoilers for episodes you haven’t seen yet” is more than I could possibly think to count.

    Saying that, it’s always nice when they get spoiled because something they care about has released everywhere but their country so they get a good dose of their own medicine.

    Stephen Amell’s good for telling fans on his Facebook page what he thinks of those who spoil things for non-US viewers of Arrow and HBO and Sky Atlantic have teamed up to air Game Of Thrones live at 2am for the UK at the same time the US gets the show instead of airing a day later like they usually have and risking British viewers getting annoyed at American feeds on social media ruining possible plot point.

    • I’ve noticed a lot of guys in the US only seem to notice certain things when it’s happening to them, like how US Gamers get special treatment most of the time and the instant we guy in the EU or Asian regions get anything we see a legion of comments about how “IT’S NOT FAIR! WHY DOES THE EU/ASIAN REGIONS GET SPECIAL TREATMENT?!”

      Also I hate the idea that we should watch the shows illegally online, are the Americans in such a rush to talk to us about certain shows that they think we should watch the shows in a way that doesn’t support any of the cast, crew or creators of the freaking show?! I waited for Agents of Shield since I knew when it was coming back and I wanted to watch it when I knew it wouldn’t screw with the ratings yeah I’m just one guy but if everyone had that mentality then guys like Clark Gregg would be screwed now wouldn’t they?

      You ever notice something strange? It’s like the less concerned you are with spoilers correlates almost directly with the amount of free time you have to watch it and your availability to certain content (E.G – You live in America where let’s face it most of the good content comes from)

    • I notice that you tend to whine about people in the US a lot.

      A LOT!

      • Ok Ok, whine is too harsh a word. Sorry.

        Lets replace “whine” with “complain” or “make negative observations”

        And I will also point out that I wasnt attempting to invalidate your observations or say that you are wrong, just that you seem to bring it up a good deal.

  4. Spoiler alert: The Titanic sinks at the end.

  5. I learned my lesson the hard way in regards to staying off the internet. The deaths in the last three episodes (you would’ve thought I would learn after one, lol) of season two of The Walking Dead were spoiled for me by Twitter trending topics. Since season 2 was such a bore I watched it on the DVR the next day but the deaths would still be trending 24 hours later. I tend to avoid comment sections on things that I haven’t seen yet. I know there will always be spoilers there.

    But my final straw for comments on articles was when some troll started out his comment as something about the then upcoming season 3 of GoT then decided to throw in a complete summary of The Red Wedding chapters in A Storm of Swords. It had absolutely nothing to with his comment. It’s like he was just looking to spoil people that weren’t book readers. Ugh that pissed me off. My question is, am I at fault for wanting to read peoples thoughts on the upcoming season of a show when I hadn’t read the books? Or was he at fault? Either way, that resulted in me picking up the books and reading them so something like that couldn’t happen again. Lol.

    • I’m usually the kind of guy who loves reading all the fan reactions to new episodes of shows, but I have to completely isolated myself from the Game of Thrones internet circle. It actually kind of feels like I’m less involved in the show because of it, but you can’t blame people for wanting to talk about the book in relation to the show, especially when it looks like things might happen a bit differently than it happened in the source material (more, uh, “Guests” at the Red Wedding, for example.)

      I know that I love talking about the Walking Dead comics in relation to the show, and trying to deduce what elements from the comic are going to be adapted and which are going to be changed. Every comic reader could see the events of the third to last episode of Season 4 happening almost immediately after those characters were introduced at the beginning of the season, for example, and so even though the events occurred under wildly different contexts, I was seeing spoilers for that episode almost at the very beginning of the season in the comment sections of every episode review article on every site I visit.

      I guess my point is; I don’t think it’s necessarily fair for people who HAVE read the source material to not be allowed to talk about the source material in places where the episode is being discussed, and that people who haven’t read the source material should know well enough to stay away. I stay away from practically every Game of Thrones related article I see, even though I love that show way more than The Walking Dead.

  6. “I’m sorry – did you think this was going to be a long essay full of bullet point 1-2-3 strategies for avoiding those nagging spoilers?”

    No, I didn’t think that. I already know your “I don’t give a **** and **** you!” stance on that topic. We’ve already been through all that and my stance remains unchanged as well: a bit of courtesy and smart writing goes a long way toward protecting people from getting hit with spoilers without a fair warning and without chasing them off the internet (and your site, which is your source of income). If you call yourself an “editor” that much of editorial professionalism isn’t too much to ask.

    And again, just to avoid confusion: write about spoilers all you want, but don’t put them in the headlines. People should be able to choose themselves which spoilers they want to read and which they don’t, without having to stay off Screenrant altogether. It’s called “customer service”.

    Are spoilers completely avoidable? No, of course they aren’t. But neither are car crashes, and both can be greatly reduced in numbers by taking responsibility and not provoking them by recklessness.

    • Nice Rant, but I wasn’t talking about us, websites, so much as social media – where most things get spoiled most often for people.

      But nice to know your thoughts ;-)

      • might want to clarify that in the article becuase i read the article and thought why is this website telling me not to go on it?

    • I would LOOOOOOOOOOVE for you to give an example of ScreenRant putting a spoiler in a headline…?

      • When Brian died on Family Guy. Then, one of the SR editors wrote a lengthy article about internet spoilers and told people to basically F off because he/she is doing us a service by writing entertainment news.

        This is a rehash of that article.

    • +1 It’s not hard to leave spoilers out of Headers or to note that the inside article will contain spoilers.

      There was a site that I use to visit daily that decided to put major spoilers in it’s TWD article within 90 minutes of the episode finishing with total disregard for anyone who had not seen it.

      After getting into a dscussion with the site owner who disregarded my concerns completely, the site was taken off my favs and have not been there since.

      For the most part, SR is good at avoiding spoilers in titles and generally notes it if it will be in the article.

    • EXACTLY TLW… I mean I love screen rant for all things movie news. It’s the whole Headline thing. One too many times.. Spoilers right in the headline. I mean they are smart people.. they could craftily write around things if they wanted too and still draw people in to read the articles.

  7. Not exactly on topic but that picture of Neo from the “Matrix” – from the scene where Agent Smith interrogates him – is an example of one of the worst SFX make up / prosthetics ever committed to film.

  8. I myself never spoil things for people, or at the very least try to truly avoid it, but I just simply don’t get how knowing some twist of a movie ruins it, as if that twist is the only thing in a movie that matters, since more often than not twists are quite predictable. A twist doesn’t make a movie good, it’s the characters, how the story grows into the twist and since film is a visual medium also how the visuals work with the story or in some cases how they work on their own. The only time I’ve spoiled something was the end of Lost but that is the prime example where if that spoiling that ending ruins your viewing experience well then something is wrong with you. Nonetheless since so many people find spoilers to be the cardinal sin, well it doesn’t hurt me in anyway to not spoil something.

  9. Actually, that last meme is wrong, because he is NOT Dick Grayson in “The Dark Knight Rises”. His name is Robin… Yup! Worst superhero movie ever, don’t know why everyone loves it. He is like 20 something years old and “Robin” is his real name, not Dick, not Richard…ROBIN!! That probably explains why he will just jump right into Nightwing with no training or being the first and best sidekick ever. And that’s just ONE of the bad things in the movie out of the countless other stuff.

  10. I over heard the ending of breaking bad while sitting on a bus.But I kind of knew it was going to happen anyway.

  11. Relax people! Studies show that knowing spoilers ahead of time enhances your enjoyment! The University of California did a series of experiments a while back that had test subjects presented with a story. Some were spoiled at the twists and endings while others weren’t. Surveys afterwards determined that those who were spoiled beforehand had greater enjoyment of the story than those who weren’t spoiled.

    • So by that logic, knowing the end of The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, or The Usual Suspects, just to name a few, enhances the experience?
      I call bull manure. That only applies after seeing the movie at least once, then watching it again and picking up on things that you wouldn’t think of during the first viewing. Granted, some people don’t care about spoilers, but that study was probably conducted on a small group of people. If you were to do a nationwide poll the results would vary. Also, being told a story and watching a movie are two separate experiences. The you factor in the people who “have read the book”. His or her experience will also be different.

  12. Please stop using the terms meta and zeitgeist. It makes you sound pretentious.

    • C’mon, that’s Kofi’s thing. Like Ben Kendrick’s “for sure”. :P Just their verbal signatures. Haha

    • You’re being meta-pretentious.

  13. SPOILER ALERT : the giant blue aliens won in Avatar.

    • Well everyone knew the Kree were going to kill those stupid Navi, you know in Avatar 2 where it turns out Avatar takes place in the MCU. I liked the part where Jake and Tony Stark fought the Robo-General.

  14. Simply going offline will not protect you from spoilers. A dumbass from college was going around spoiling The Book Of Eli and then laughing about it, now I wasn’t really interested in seeing the movie but knowing how it ends completely put me off. And simply watching the latest episode of a show when it airs still doesn’t guarantee a spoiler free life as I’m sure some of you have learned by having Game Of Thrones spoiled by someone who’s read the books. Then there are sites that subtly spoil things for whatever reason e.g. IGN with an article headlined “Who dies in The Walking Dead next week?”. Call me naive but I wasn’t expecting a death, at least I wasn’t considering it but now it won’t be as effective when I watch it.

    I take spoilers seriously as I love film and television so when that dumbass (online or in person) goes around spoiling everything for a laugh it really pisses me off. I always give a spoiler warning when I’m discussing something with a potential spoiler as that’s how I’d like to think others would and should do.

  15. Hi everybody, I’m Jake. I just wanted to say that it’s true that the “no bullet points” and “don’t get on the Internet” phrases aren’t a panacea that solves every spoiler problem we encounter but I actually find it helpful. I’m a regular internet user and I have found myself denying the fact that I should avoid the Internet if I want to stay innocent. It helps to hear someone else say it and now I can hold myself accountable to stay dark if I want to enjoy the surprises. I’ve now moved on to the next step to spoiler recovery: anger.

    I’m Jake and I’ve been spoiled.
    (Usual Suspects spoiled in 2008, House of Cards spoiled in 2014)

  16. I have been using the internet for years and I have never seen or read a spoiler for a movie I did not want to. To me it’s just common sense. If you don’t want to know about a movie, don’t search for it, watch videos, or even go where people are talking about it. It’s not like they just pop out of nowhere.

  17. The only show I go on full internet & social media blackout for is Game of Thrones.
    More than any other show it seems like there’s a group that loves to spoil the show for others. Even between seasons if I read an article or post about the show and I leave a comment I usually never look at the replies.

    Other than that I just try to be careful and avoid comment sections and Twitter. If I get spoiled than it’s my fault. I don’t expect everyone else in the world to cater to my movie/tv watching routine.

  18. I think the real problem is a lack of decency from people. Multiple times in the last week some a-holes have gave away very important details for the new captain america movie or ruined small easter eggs in that movie and its ridiculous how many people cant keep their discussion in the spoiler section that shows up in all the articles. Social media hasnt ruined the movie, a lack of common decency has.

  19. You know you could just not post spoilers in the title, so people not actively looking for them don’t have things spoiled for them. I mean if you click on an article that reads “WALKING DEAD SEASON 4 FINALE DISCUSSION” then that’s on you but if it’s entitled “DARYL DIES?! ROBO-ZOMBIE SHANE WALKING DEAD DISCUSSION!” then you can’t blame someone for accidentally scrolling,

    It’s easy to just say avoid the internet but for certain people like me that’s not an option. My point is that it’s easy to have a place where you can talk about the spoilers, there’s no law stopping anyone from giving them away but it’s just kind of a jerk move.

    Also please Kofi don’t get the wrong impression here but you’ve made a few of these and their beginning to read out as “I should be allowed to post spoilers” which as others have pointed out, that’s totally fine just not in the headlines and sure I get the whole avoiding social media but I’d say the guys I know are cool enough to not post spoilers or make sure we’re all on the same page so we can all talk about the same stuff. Like for example how I’m 5 or 6 episodes behind the US with Agents of Shield (Thanks Channel 4! You’re the best!)

  20. Stop defending yourself and other people that moan and complain that things are getting spoiled for them!!! It is a really quick and easy fix to avoid spoilers: STAY OFF MOVIE WEBSITES. 98% of the problem would be solved with that method…Oh, you don’t want to be completely out of the loop when it comes to movie news? Ok, well, don’t click on any articles that relate to the movie or content you have watched yet…boom. 96.7% of the time you won’t be spoiled.

    Thank you for finally writing this article. People complaining about spoilers all the time is getting out of control…Sorry if you haven’t seen it within a week or month of the air-date, I think that is enough time watch the material if you are really excited to watch it. Yet again, 2 months in and you still haven’t seen it? Refer to what I mentioned earlier, problem solved.

    • This is referring to spoilers in the headline, it’s hard to avoid a spoiler when it’s right in your face also a month is long enough if you live in the country where the show airs and you have enough free time to catch up on all your favorite shows. Saying avoid the internet is stupid, a lot of watch a lot of shows and plan to watch a lot of the latest movies so what do we do?

      Just avoid the internet till we catch up on everything? I can tell you there’s always something I need to catch up on. Also most of the time the only people who get slack anyway are the guys who are clearly posting spoilers to get at other people. (Not that Kofi is one of those people).

    • It’s not that simple, spoilers are everywhere. I had GTA5 spoiled for me in the comments on a youtube video completely unrelated to the game, the fact is there are a lot of people that do it for fun.

  21. Like the article states, it’s fairly simple, STAY OFF THE INTERNET. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the whole world must stop talking about something just because you haven’t seen it yet (by the way I’m not from America, so that accusation cannot be thrown at me). Talking from experience, if you have just seen a show that’s had a huge impact (ala How I met your Mother finale) or did something completely unexpected of exciting, you want to be able to share your views and opinions with everyone and at the same time, you also want to be able to read other peoples views and reactions to the show (for reference, I watched the HIMYM finale a day after it was aired, so it’s very possible to avoid spoilers).

  22. Yeah I mean.. yeah.

    Lucky me I know where to go on the net.
    Plus, I rarely see anyone else comments. whether they are spoilers or not, on SR or not, on facebook or not.I know its kinda selfish…but thats the way I am and I think that defends me for any spoilery situation.

  23. People should limit their time online….period. It goes way beyond movie spoilers.

  24. All it would take is a dedicated team of editors. If a comment was objectionable and or gave to much spoilerific info it would be flagged and removed.

    If you had actual people who cared about what people wrote in the comments section, and could edit the articles themselves for this maliciousness hat seems prevalent here, maybe this site be the leader in how spoilers and community commenting could be addressed on the internet.

    Sidenote, you do need a proofreader and someone who can help draft headlines as a whole on this site. You do have people capable here that would volunteer. Don’t think I’m targeting you guys because Zergnet is even guiltier on all fronts.

    • Your missing what the article is talking about. Kofi isn’t talking blogs and websites but things like Twitter and Facebook where there is NO moderation. That’s where its up to you to actively avoid spoilers and not assume others will talk about things spoiler free (which they don’t have to if they don’t want to).

  25. I hate to say it but SR spoiled Game of Thrones “purple wedding” for me simply by including the episode title (too close to “Red Wedding” and a dead give-away) and with the picture they used to go with it. It didnt take Sherlock Holmes to fugure out what had happened!

    Mr. Outlaw is correct, the ONLY way to avoid spoilers is to avoid the internet.

  26. I don’t really get it that only a tiny percentage of people hates spoilers spread which has an advantage that’s easy to read which part of anime can be refer and disadvantage is html code doesn’t add the spoiler tag.

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