Let’s be honest. Peak TV is a blessing and a chore. There are simply too many shows to watch, and there’s also a back catalogue filled with classics that people are constantly recommending. If it all seems a bit overwhelming, then there’s an easy solution. Spoil yourself, and avoid hours on the couch. The shows on this list are well worth watching, of course, but there are also other things that have to be done. Time is finite, unfortunately.
Besides, it’s not like spoilers will truly ruin the experience of watching these shows. For many of them, plot is only a vehicle to deliver laughs, themes, or fairly complex ideas. Spoiling them gives you a sense of which shows may ultimately align with your tastes, and it allows you to appreciate the execution of specific moments even more. With all that in mind, here are 15 Huge TV Shows Spoiled So You Don’t Have To Watch Them.
Westworld set Reddit on fire with theories and predictions about the twists and turns of the show. If you didn’t watch it, most of these things can be summarized fairly quickly. The show takes place inside a western theme park filled with androids designed to please their guests. Over the course of the season, a series of mysteries are set up and explained, and we eventually come to learn that one of the men (Bernard) running the park is actually a robot, and the other (Ford) has been quietly planning a robot rebellion all season.
Meanwhile, the season also follows several robots as they begin to gain consciousness and come to understand that they are being constantly used and abused by the guests of the park. All of these elements culminate in a finale in which the robot uprising begins, and Ford orchestrates his own suicide through Dolores, a robot in the park whose story is actually being told over the course of several decades rather than in the present like everyone else. Now, Westworld appears to be a world for the robots, not the humans.
The story of six friends living through the beginnings of adulthood, Friends’ biggest spoiler comes from the relationship between Ross and Rachel, the on again/off again couple who have a child together before officially pairing off. Along the way, all of the characters fall in and out of love, and they mature in improbably spacious apartments.
In the end, Monica and Chandler wind up together, and the quirky Phoebe finds a husband as well. Ross and Rachel manage to commit to one another in the series finale, and Joey becomes the sole bachelor on the show. Monica and Chandler end up adopting children, and Ross winds up marrying three different women, including Rachel, over the course of the series. Really, though, Friends is all about growing up, and learning from the people who you care the most about. It’s a show about making friends into family, and it’s also a pretty solid sitcom.
13. Stranger Things
There are few shows people have been more excited about this year than Stranger Things. For a brief period this summer, it was the only thing anyone was talking about. Using the ’80s as a cultural reference, Stranger Things is a monster story at its heart, one that begins after a kid named Will disappears from the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. From there, we meet Eleven, a young girl with supernatural abilities who helps the boy’s friends find him. Meanwhile, his mother and the local sheriff also investigate the boy’s disappearance, and discover some shady dealings within the Department of Energy.
Eventually, the characters discover that a monster has taken Will into an alternate dimension called The Upside Down, and are forced to venture into that realm to find him. Meanwhile, the monster invades the local high school, and Eleven appears to sacrifice herself in order to destroy it. The show leaves things there, promising to find Eleven during the show’s second season.
12. Mad Men
The story of Don Draper’s career at an advertising agency was told over seven marvelous seasons on Mad Men, a lengthy series that is admittedly difficult to spoil. As the period drama progresses, Draper loses two wives, and develops a complicated relationship with Peggy, a character who rises up the ranks of the agency as the series progresses. We also discover that Don Draper is actually a pseudonym– one he adopted from a dead man.
Draper’s history with hiding his past is played out over the course of the series, and we also see Draper start a new ad agency, which he eventually runs from as the series ends. After joining a hippie commune in 1970, (the series starts in the 1950s), the final shot shows Draper meditating before he cracks an enormous smile. For a moment, it seems like he’s reached genuine nirvana, but the show quickly cuts to the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad that used a message of peace and love to sell a product. Draper didn’t find comfort. He just had a great ad idea.
11. The X-Files
The X-Files took two simple television ideas: the detective show and the science fiction show, and smashed them together into a completely unique series. Using the “monster of the week” formula for which it is now well known, The X-Files told compelling stories and was hugely influential to the genre TV that followed it.
Scully was the natural skeptic, and rarely believed many of Mulder’s theories about paranormal activity and extraterrestrial life. Eventually, she is forced to confront the supernatural, and becomes a reluctant believer, often using science to explain unnatural phenomena. Mulder and Scully also develop a romantic relationship as the series progresses, and Scully is eventually forced to team up with other agents after Mulder is kidnapped. Mulder also uncovers a conspiracy related to an alien invasion as the series advances, and they are eventually forced to fight against the invasion as the aliens begin to take control of the government. The two end the series as fugitives, capping off an adventure that lasted nine seasons, and a six episode revival.
10. Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica follows humanity on the brink of extinction, after they have been almost completely wiped out by the Cylons. Initially, the show was focused on humans attempting to find Earth, a long forgotten colony that promises salvation. These humans often do battle with the Cylons– sentient machines that humans created themselves. Eventually, humanity joins forces with a faction of Cylons following a civil war within the Cylons,
The surviving humans and Cylons settle on a new planet, and decide to discard their technology and begin again. The series ends in modern day Manhattan, where it’s revealed that the entire show has been a glimpse into our past, not our future. This reinforces the show’s core ideas about cycles of violence, and illuminates the ways in which technological progress doesn’t always correspond with a change in morals. To put it succinctly: all of this has happened before, but will it happen again?
9. Twin Peaks
Surreal from beginning to end, Twin Peaks was way ahead of its time, and probably still is. The show follows FBI agent Dale Cooper, who is sent to a strange small town to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer, a high school girl who shows up dead in the show’s pilot. From there, the show spirals into insanity as the agent investigates the murder, and eventually becomes consumed by the strange goings-on in the town.
The series eventually reveals that Laura, the homecoming queen, was living a double life involving a biker boyfriend and heaps of cocaine. A number of suspects for her murder are examined and discarded, and Cooper is plagued with cryptic dreams that offer hints as to who committed the crime. Eventually, a man is found guilty, but claims to be possessed by a spirit named Bob and eventually commits suicide. Cooper is initially planning to leave Twin Peaks following the revelation, but gets possessed by Bob himself, in a cliffhanger ending. Twin Peaks was pretty weird.
8. The Wire
The Wire was a bold, unique take on the crime genre, and its five season run is certainly worth a watch. The simplest way to spoil The Wire is to explain that its larger point is about a broken system that forces good people to sling drugs and keeps cops, educators and politicians from doing their jobs properly. Omar, a thief who steals from dealers, is undoubtedly the show’s standout character, which is why it came as a shock to so many when he was abruptly killed near the end of the show’s run.
Still Omar’s death, which is probably the show’s biggest spoiler, only serves to reinforce the idea at the center of the series that the world of the show is a brutal and real one. The drug dealers aren’t really bad guys, and the cops aren’t really good guys. Even the most idealistic of men can be corrupted, and it’s our institutions themselves that are broken.
7. How I Met Your Mother
The gimmick with How I Met Your Mother was always that this was a story we were being told. Ted, our protagonist, is explaining to his children exactly how he met their mother, and taking quite a long time to do so. Over the course of nine seasons, we watch Ted and his friends fall in and out of love, switch careers, and do all the normal things sitcom characters do over the course of a wildly popular series. It wasn’t until the final season that Ted actually met the infamous mother, but the show wasn’t done yet.
To the displeasure of its fans, the series ends after the mother has died, and with the kids revealing to their father how stupid he’s been. The story he’s been telling isn’t really about their mother; it’s about Robin, the girl he met in the pilot who he’s actually been in love with this whole time. It’s sweet in theory, but it didn’t actually jive with much of the rest of the series, and actually undercut some of the character arcs that the series had worked so hard to develop throughout its run.
6. The Sopranos
The original prestige drama, The Sopranos is also a long and sprawling series that requires a hefty time commitment. It follows a mafia family living in New Jersey, and takes the time to illuminate the many personalities that inhabit the family. Over the course of the show’s run, dozens of people get whacked, as is fitting a show about a mob boss.
Ultimately, what makes the show so unique, though, is the way it digs deep into the mind of Tony Soprano, who often has panic attacks as a result of his professional and personal obligations. The show’s ending is also one of the most controversial ever produced, as we see Tony sitting in a diner with family, before discovering that a man has pulled up to whack Tony and his family. Instead of showing us this altercation, the camera simply cuts to black. The Sopranos biggest spoiler is one it hid even from its viewers.
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A hugely influential series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s seven seasons are a heck of a lot of content. The series follows Buffy, a chosen vampire slayer who is forced to fight against the forces of darkness while trying to lead a normal young adult existence. Typically, each season is structured around a Big Bad; an entity that must be dealt with in one form or another during the show’s season finale. As the series progresses, these big bads get bigger and badder, and eventually Buffy’s best friend Willow (temporarily) becomes one of them.
Over the course of the series, Buffy dies several times, and is often forced to contemplate her feelings about the world she’s constantly forced to save. She also hooks up with a couple of hot vampires. Although it steers into its B movie aesthetic, Buffy also takes its characters seriously, and uses its extensive runtime effectively. The final is a knock-down drag-out between the forces of evil and an army of newly-created Slayers– younger women across the world whose potential vampire-slaying abilities were activated by a spell Willow cast. Buffy empowered girls right until its final moments.
4. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead should probably be a lot more fun than it often is. The show’s premise uses the zombie apocalypse as a vehicle for examining the darker corners of humanity’s impulses. Unfortunately, that tone can get rather dour, and there’s only so much suffering a viewer can take before it becomes tiresome. Over the course of the series, Rick, the show’s protagonist, kills his best friend, loses his wife, and also many other members of his group.
In recent seasons, the show has introduced mega-villain Negan, a powerful adversary for Rick and the gang who proved his dominance most recently by killing off Abraham and Glenn, one of the few characters who has been a member of Rick’s group since the very beginning. Of course, Glenn is far from the first to die on the show, though he is among the show’s most major deaths and the first vital character killed in quite a while. His death also led many quit the show as it was incredibly drawn out and brutal.
The ultimate theory-feeding show, Lost took six seasons to tell a sprawling epic tale that was often moving and occasionally rather silly. It tells the story of plane crash survivors who end up stranded on a mysterious island, and grow to love one another as they deal with the threats the island poses. Ultimately, some survivors leave the island, only to return to save those they left behind.
Ultimately, Lost is a difficult show to spoil, in part because much of its plot sounds stupider in summary than it plays out on screen. The show raises dozens, if not hundreds of questions, over the course of its run, and it ultimately ends with all of the show’s major players in the afterlife, united by a mutual feeling of affection for one another. Along the way, they run into the island’s native inhabitants, time travel to various points in the island’s past and future, and fight a giant smoke monster and a few polar bears. It’s a wild ride.
2. Game of Thrones
A sprawling series if there ever was one, Game of Thrones follows the political machinations of an entire kingdom, and looks at many of the country’s most powerful players. Over the course of the early seasons, we see a struggle for the throne of power, and also come to understand that the real threat may be coming from the ice zombies that threaten humanity as a species.
These ice zombies, or white walkers, have become a much larger focus in later seasons. Of course, Game of Thrones is also notorious for killing off major characters, usually the heroic kinds, just as they seem to be hitting their stride. This started with Ned Stark, and was followed up at the Red Wedding, where Stark’s wife and heir were ruthlessly slaughtered. Dozens of others have fallen over the show’s bloody run, proving that this world is built, at least partially, on the shocks that it can still deliver to audiences. The recent death that got everyone talking was Jon Snow’s– the illegitimate Stark who seemed poised to be the hero of the series was betrayed and stabbed to death. The show held off on resurrecting him… for two whole episodes.
1. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is undoubtedly a thrilling journey from start to finish, but it can also be kind of a bummer. The show follows a high school chemistry teacher who discovers that he has terminal lung cancer, and decides to start cooking meth in order to ensure that he leaves his family with enough money to get by. Of course, as the series progresses, the cancer becomes less and less important, and Walter White, the protagonist, begins to act more and more out of greed nad malice.
The series tracks Walter as he disposes of opponents, most notably Gus Fring, and also deals with his brother-in-law, who also happens to be a DEA agent. As the series sprints towards a conclusion, many of its characters, including Walt’s brother-in-law and Walt himself, are killed off. In the end, only Walt’s cooking partner and better angel Jesse Pinkman is left standing, hopefully moving toward a future much less horrific than his past.
What show do you wish you’d been spoiled for rather than watching it? Let us know in the comments.