Several networks have shifted into what is now the ever-popular CW - a hub of drama, superhero intrigue and some of the most outrageous yet compelling teen scenarios ever on television. Plot twists are as common on the network as teen-drama couples, but they're not always for the good of the show. In fact, some plot twists are so detested that they hurt TV shows, resulting in lower ratings, fan complaints, and sometimes even downward spirals that were hard to recover from, if not impossible. Fans are simply left dumbfounded, wondering what exactly happened to the series they once loved.
Plenty of CW fans also cradle their favorite plot twists to their chests, geeking out over YouTube replays whenever possible. While not all of these moments are remixed to fan soundtracks, montages of "Best Moments of All Time" compilations, and full series playlists, they do often have the power of saving a show from ruin, redeeming it in the eyes of its fans and critics as well as shepherding in lots of new viewers in the process.
They're not always positive moments for the protagonists. In fact, some of the most popular moments in TV history are the most controversial.
Love them or hate them, here are 10 CW Plot Twists That Hurt TV Shows (And 10 That Saved Them).
20 Saved: One Tree Hill - Derek Is A Fake
Peyton's brother Derek was a fake-- when he was wasn't Derek.
When Ian Banks pretended to be Peyton's estranged brother on One Tree Hill, it proved to be an exciting plot twist that enthralled viewers and brought them back for more drama. Not only was Ian not who he claimed to be, but he was a Peyton-obsessed stalker who ended up kidnapping both her and Brooke. The deceit was especially painful since Peyton doesn't know her biological mother or brother well and had no real proof but the closeness she and Derek began to share. Watching Derek do everything from sniff Peyton's hair to hire a someone to beat up while wearing a Peyton wig may have been too much for some viewers, but many couldn't wait to see where the over the top drama would go next.
One Tree Hill is known to exhibit some pretty messed up ideas; with the premise of leaving your webcam on all of the time, it would be difficult to avoid danger and drama. The fake Derek storyline was over-the-top and entertaining, but more importantly, it helped besties Brooke and Peyton reunite after a long feud, and it created an empowering storyline for Peyton when she met her real brother.
19 Hurt: Supernatural - Sam And Dean Have A Brother
Before "Adam Ruins Everything" debuted on College Humor, Adam Winchester ruined everything on the creepy CW drama Supernatural.
Really, it was John Winchester who did the ruining and not his surprise son, considering that he never told his elder sons about Adam or allowed them to lead the normal life that Adam was able to lead. Either way, resentment was had by all parties and Adam ended up with the short straw when he was trapped for all eternity.
Fans demand to know why Adam was trapped in the cage when Michael and Lucifer duked it out, a role that he had no business taking even if he did face it like a boss - much better than Sam and Dean did. To add insult to injury, four seasons later we're reminded that Adam is still in the cage. The Winchesters look guilty upon acknowledging this fact, but they never try to do anything to save their little brother when they've literally moved Heaven and Hell to save one another.
As awesome as Supernatural is, it's a common theme in the show to discard characters so thoughtlessly. From survivors who became victims by association to Ellen and Jo, Adam isn't the first character to deserve better, nor the last.
18 Saved: The Flash - Harrison Wells Returns
When Harrison Wells was revealed to be Reverse Flash, it was a delightful shocker. Not only did Tom Cavanagh get to play the double agent, alternating between the supportive mentor Harrison Wells and the evil Eobard Thawne, but it also meant that the audience could watch him do it while Barry remained clueless. You just can't beat that kind of dramatic tension, so when Wells returned from the future in order to face The Flash again audiences ate it up.
What better villainy is there than to be the trusted confidant of your arch nemesis without his knowledge?
It seemed as if writers banked on this same scenario working out for them multiple times given that they attempted to put Barry up against other versions himself without nearly as much success. Perhaps they felt overused at that point but it was more likely due to Cavanagh's excellent portrayal of Wells, whom audiences welcomed back with open arms much more than other villains of the show.
It's just too bad that it happened so early on. We get that first seasons need to be as gripping as possible to stay afloat, but it's also a bummer when the best villains can't be saved for last.
17 Hurt: Riverdale - Black Hood Reveal
The big Black Hood reveal in Riverdale last year proved to be underwhelming, to say the least. After so many well-planned episodes, not to mention previously established big reveal moments in other CW shows that set the bar so high to begin with, it all came down to... the janitor.
This was such a letdown. It reeked of Scooby Doo, and for an entire season to be built around just who this person was seemed like a giant disappointment once he was finally unveiled.
The only thing this episode did was finally prove that Archie isn't always right - which has often been the case. He insisted that the custodian, Mr. Svenson, wasn't the Black Hood and that seemed to be the end of things - until the following week's revelation that it had been Svenson all along.
The entire scenario was so disappointing an stupid that people kept denying it on Twitter, saying things like, "So nobody's buying that Mr. Svenson was actually behind all this, right?"
What made it even more eye-roll inducing is the fact that Svenson wasn't even introduced until late in the season, making it even more difficult for the revelation to pack a punch. Now it seems like Svenson was indeed a fake-out, but that doesn't fix the sting of this initial twist.
16 Saved: Supergirl - Hank Henshaw Is Martian Manhunter
Moments where someone isn't who they are expected to be can make or break an episode, and when Hank Henshaw turned out to be none other than J'onn J'onnz on Supergirl, fans dug it deeply.
Those red eyes, that penetrating stare - who wouldn't believe that Henshaw was a crazed madman or evil villain?
But Supergirl, already known for breaking boundaries and stepping outside the comfort zone, totally broke the red eye stereotype and welcomed Henshaw as not a baddie but a good guy.
He's really J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter who is one of the last of his kind due to a disaster on his own planet. His ominous expressions and apparent lack of emotion fooled everyone into believing he wasn't the trustworthy ally that he turned out to be, which pleasantly surprised everyone.
Plenty of other surprises were in store following this one, from the survival of J'onn's own father, who had been imprisoned for hundreds of years, to his posing as Kara in order to save her life, but J'onn's real identity was one of the biggest show shockers that helped foster more trust and growth in the show. When J'onn became Cyborg Superman it almost didn't even matter after his due diligence and care of Kara previously.
15 Hurt: The Vampire Diaries - Elena Falls Under a Sleeping Spell
It was the moment that completely ended The Vampire Diaries for lots of people. With Elena and Bonnie's lives tied together under the course of a single spell, fan favorite Nina Dobrev exited The Vampire Diaries and left a gaping void in her place. Kai's spell felt like a huge cop out that should have been solved in an episode or two rather than the series-changer that it was intended to be.
Rumors about why Dobrev had to exit the show, from cast drama to break-up awkwardness, ran rampant, but ultimately it was the show's extreme departure from its own main point that made this move such a heinous crime in the eyes of fans. After all the show was about Elena's vampire diaries.
Although it didn't immediately end the show, which was renewed, it completely changed its direction and fell even further from its original source material than ever before. Sure, there was the big reunion with the series finale when Bonnie's heart momentarily stopped (this was the "duh" moment fans had hoped for years earlier), but it never seemed to make up for all of that time fans felt was wasted on side plots.
14 Saved: iZombie - The Zombie Secret Comes Out
When the season 3 finale of iZombie finally revealed zombies to the world, it saved the entire series from its blatant demise, earning it another season and engaging fans with a new conflict: how humans would handle this news.
Even though this proved to be engaging at first, most season four ratings were similar to those of season three, rendering the future of the show unpredictable.
Seattle's zombie havens status served as an interesting twist at first, mirroring the current political climate and pressing people to examine their own prejudices, but now what?
With such a great premise, it's hard to pinpoint why iZombie went off the rails so often, resulting in a wobbly timeline of interesting episodes versus lukewarm ones. Many fans of the comics obviously point towards its exclusion of most of the comic itself, given the fact that the show is very loosely based off it. While the revelation may have saved the show for another season, fans continue to wait with bated breath on whether or not a fifth season will be released.
Rahul Koli is giving the show a 50-50 estimate at a shot of renewal himself. Striking a balance between the show's comedic value and political commentary may be the key.
13 Hurt: The 100 - Lexa gets shot
Fans of The 100 waited with bated breath for Lexa and Clarke to finally get together already, but the payoff didn't last long. She was shot shortly after the two consummated their relationship, enraging fans who felt betrayed by the decision.
Angry fans took to writing threats and other hateful messages to the writers at CW. While most fans expressed their pain with respect, those rabid letters depicted an ugly side of the show's fans. Many other fans ached over the fact that Lexa's hookup with Clarke changed her from the positive portrayal of a LGBTQ character in a much underrepresented genre to a TV trope who was written off. The fact that she had a lesbian relationship, after it was introduced, was largely ignored instead of further developed as it should have been.
There's a general paucity of LGBTQ characters on TV to begin with but to condemn Alexa to the stereotypical buried lesbian is pretty unforgivable. Although there was no excuse for the nasty fan threats, their outrage was justifiable. While some argue that her sendoff was a poignant moment for the show, that doesn't change the fact that it fits snugly within the Deceased Love Interest and Bury Your Gays tropes.
12 Hurt: 90210 - Silver's Cancer
Jessica Stroup's character on 90210, Erin Silver, was the character who least deserved to get cancer in her life-- not that any character deserves cancer. After her estranged mother lost her life due to cancer and Silver went through so many other tragic moments and hardships, from the loss of her sister to her own bipolar disorder, she should have gotten some kind of break eventually.
Her reputation was ruined at school, her best friend went crazy on her, her boyfriend turning out to be gay, her not getting into college, and the loss of her surrogate baby just weren't enough to pile on her.
Writers decided that they not only needed to also give her cancer, but that they should do it as the show ended to leave it as unresolved and painful as possible.
Does she lose her life? Does she get treatment and find a better life, maybe becoming a life-saving paramedic or super ninja? We have no idea since it was the finale and that's all the writers deemed her worthy to receive. Ouch.
Many consider it one of the worst cliffhanger endings of any show, especially considering how the rest of the cast mostly received positive, or at least conclusive, endings.
11 Hurt: The Flash - Savitar Is Evil Barry
Although alternate universe scenarios are commonplace among superhero sagas, when Savitar was revealed to simply be an evil version of Barry fans were not amused.
The fact that Barry will eventually turn into this awful, villainous person gave viewers the inclination to quit the entire series, even if they understood that wasn't quite how it would pan out.
What would the payoff be, after all, to only witness him turn into this future version of himself - a god who did everything in order to become a god in order to dull his own pain?
After Barry had already faced both Zoom and Reverse Flash, fans felt themselves tapping their fingers in irritation. Why does The Flash seem to only go up against evil versions of The Flash?
While we all enjoy the Man vs. Self story now and then, it shouldn't be the backbone upon which a series is built-- especially a superhero series with so much potential and so many other villains to choose from.
This arc simply felt like a regurgitated story and nothing new for viewers who've been watching since day one. This repetition could have been both avoided and redeemed had writers opted to simply table it for a future season.
10 Saved And Hurt: Arrow - Sara, Alive And Back Again
Coming back from the grave is something of a science for the CW, but in this case it was a yo-yo tactic that truly toyed with fan emotions.
When Sara was originally written off Arrow, fans revolted in a passionate fury, priming the pump for her return in Legends of Tomorrow. Not only was Sara as The Canary a popular choice among both viewers and comic fans, but it helped Caity Lotz rise to stardom in the process, earning her the beloved status she retains to this day.
Here's where it turns dark: ecstatic that Sara returned, fans found themselves absolutely livid when she was again written off in the season three opener of Arrow.
In fact, Sara's passing is the number one complaint about the show from many fans.
Having aThea shoot Sara up with three arrows also just adds insult to injury. It's like she didn't even get a legit end after she was resurrected just to loser her life again in the first place. It's a cheap shot to fans who were excited to see Lotz return (not to mention enjoy another female superhero presence onscreen) only to make them watch her perish again.
9 Hurt: The Originals - Cami's Fake-Out Fate
It was a case of cheating Hades only to fall into the underworld later in the show. After Cami survived becoming a vampire only to succumb hybrid bite on The Originals, fans practically rioted. For Lucien's bite to end her that effectively after she'd just been thought to be gone in the same season was too much for them to bear, even if she was able to profess her love to Klaus before going and give viewers a decent farewell scene before leaving this world.
It far from ended the series, but Cami's passing generated so much distrust among fans that it still hurt the show.
It didn't even matter that her loss gave Klaus, Elijah and Freya the resolve to finally end Lucien (and free the show to chase after some new villains). It didn't matter that she urged Klaus to be the light in his own life not for himself, but for Hope. Nope. Fans weren't having it and even when writers brought her back in season four as a treat it felt more like another slap in the face.
Even so, it wasn't nearly as ugly as the time fans took to Twitter to call Leah Pipes terrible names just for kissing Joseph Morgan.
8 Saved: Crazy Ex Girlfriend - Rebecca and Greg's Dad
When Rebecca wound up with Greg's dad on Crazy Ex Girlfriend, the world entered into chaos. Everyone had already assumed Rebecca couldn't sink any lower after her entire past had been discovered and she became paranoid about conspiracies between Josh, her friends, and everything else.
With the entire world seeming as if it knew about her previous criminal history and institutionalized time, Rebecca turns on everyone who cares about her and literally goes "full Swim Fan" on Josh. It seems as if she has hit rock bottom, but writers who'd heard the refrain quickly replied, "Here, hold my beer," before they launched her into bed with Greg's dad.
Yes, this was a horrific circumstance but it saved the show by finally sending Rebecca home to get help. She needed to know that she had officially passed the turning point where she needed to stop and really reassess her life and the changes she had to make. If hearing that Greg had moved on and was happy wasn't enough to help her understand that she, too, needed some forward movement and growth, winding up with his dad was definitely a deep enough wallow into misery and regret to get her packing and help her enter a new direction.
7 Hurt: The Tomorrow People - Jed Is Psycho
With great power may come great responsibility, but Roger of The Tomorrow People may have found that to be a pretty unfair trade, particularly after spending most of the season cryogenically frozen before sacrificing himself for the good of the world and destroying The Founder in the process.
While fans expected loss and Roger made a sensible choice after having enjoyed so little air time already, it still felt like a cheap shot for the recently awakened character. What was even more astounding and truly hurt the show, however, was the revelation of Jed's true nature.
After Jed shoots his brother in an attempt to save the world, it is revealed that he is actually an evil psychopath after all. No, it didn't exactly come out of left field, but there had been enough ambiguity each episode to make audiences speculate about whether he was good or not.
With John as his new super soldier via Jed's own brother's DNA (how cold is that?), he stood on the precipice of becoming the show's new villain. With too few viewers, this betrayal wasn't even worth it all in the end and CW ended the show entirely without renewing it for a second season.
6 Saved: The Flash - Jay Garrick Is Henry Allen
The Flash is one of the most popular superhero series on the CW, but a lot of that stems from the nostalgia it clings to for its original '90s incarnation. Between references, one-liners, and even guest stars, the show is easily as much an homage to the original Flash series as it is a beloved entity of its own making.
One such moment wrapped itself into a shocking plot twist when Barry's father Henry returned from beyond the grave - well, sort of. No, he wasn't a zombie or put through a lazarus machine, but Henry Allen returned to the show in the form of Jay Garrick.
During his imprisonment, the mysterious Garrick's identity had been kept secret, so his big reveal was made even more splashy by the dramatic tension.
Many viewers had predicted the results and were not surprised by the doppelganger moment, but the moment did happen to please enough fans saddened by Henry's tragic passing, not to mention fans of the original show, to keep them returning for more of The Flash. It also gave the Garrick arc a satisfying conclusion after so much speculation and sensible-to-weird fan predictions had preceded it.
5 Hurt: Jane The Virgin - Michael's Fate
A giant plot twist is never a surprise on Jane the Virgin. Even though each season has carried a seriously shocking finale, the passing of Jane's husband Michael threw viewers for a major loop.
Not only was Michael one of the show's major characters, but Brett Dier who played him was also a favorite actor for many fans who watched the series. To be fair, fans did expect him to lose his life eventually given that they were told in the very first episode that the cop would want to be with the titular character until "his very last breath," foreshadowing that his last breath would eventually be an issue to deal with. It still felt way too soon for most viewers who took their rage out upon the network with some pretty intense letters.
Fans were also pretty taken aback when show runners decided to immediately leap three years into the future to carry the show forward.
Not only did this seem a disservice to Michael but it also feels like lazy storytelling, as if writers didn't want to deal with the trauma and darkness Jane would have to endure immediately following Michael's passing. Michael had already survived the shooting only to fall to complications following it, which also made viewers feel cheated. Anytime a character survives insurmountable odds only to fall later seems like a cheap shot to the audience. The recent finale has left fans even more unsure about Michael's fate.
4 Saved: Smallville - Lex Takes Out Lionel
Before anti-heroes and sympathetic villains were all the rage, Lex Luthor paved the way for the complicated relationship between good and evil on Smallville.
Constantly at odds with his own relationship with Clark Kent, Luthor alternates between the forces of light and darkness, serving as both a fan favorite as well as the eventual villain all knew he would eventually have to become.
From blackmail to intimidation and other manipulative tactics to inhumane projects and experiments, Luthor's path proved to be a long and winding one into Eviltown. The ultimate act that many people agree to be his complete tipping point from which there was no return was the moment Lex eliminated his own dad, Lionel Luthor.
No, this act did not save Luthor's soul, but it saved the show by cementing in the villain it deserved once and for all.
Until then, Luthor presented a Mercutio-type problem, and as Shakespeare knew well, you take out your side characters and besties when they become more interesting and well-loved than your main one. In this case, Lex's own villainy saved him as a character. It was by far not his first or last crime but it was the one that made him embody Lex Luthor of the comic books.
3 Hurt: Arrow - Oliver Lives To Hunt
Knowing that Oliver Queen only took lives out of necessity kept his character human and likable, as it does for most characters.
When it was revealed that he actually loves to take life like your common variety sociopath, it broke everyone's heart. Once he'd slain Damien Darhk, Queen went back to hunting again. Since he'd lost his allies, it only added insult to injury and brought more questions than answers to light. Once Prometheus, who was really Adrian Chase, got him to admit that he enjoyed taking lives, all hell broke loose. Fan outrage radiated from the blogosphere and hate mail flocked to the studios, and although it wasn't a continuous plot point that Arrow show runners really stuck with, it was enough to ruin the season for many viewers.
Aside from a few superheroes, like Frank Castle, most good guys save the day by avoiding lost lives at all costs, even if they do break a villain to the point of requiring hospitalization, mental or otherwise, and a lifetime of therapy, physical or otherwise.
Vigilantes get away with it, even if some punishments they issue seem worse than losing a life, but those who do so for the sheer joy of it are rendered as bad as the villains they slay.
2 Saved: Supernatural - Cas Survives The Leviathan Destruction
By now the coming and going of both Winchesters and their angelic buddy Castiel are so routine they fail to surprise us, their deaths so common that they've become endless Internet meme generators. But remember the time we really thought Cas was gone after season 6's big Leviathan possession and Dean even carried around his trench coat while he pined for him?
Dean just didn't know how to quit him, and as devastating as it was, we all knew Cas deserved it after deceiving the Winchesters and working with Crowley for so long.
And yet, the moment became even sweeter when Cas came back, even if his memories were obliterated at first. The entire season was not only saved but built around Cas's various transformations and atonement for his previous sins. It had to be because, without forgiving Castiel, it would have been impossible to move on with him in the show.
It's not the first nor the last time Cas disappoints Dean, but it does lead us to Cas's hilarious eventual convenience store adventure complete with a magazine and him demanding, "You don't understand. I need pie!" It also not the last time that Cas seems to be destroyed for good only to return, but it was the last time that it was a real surprise.
1 Hurt: Gossip Girl - Dan is Gossip Girl
Some fans were downright outraged regarding the big reveal of the identity of Gossip Girl. It wouldn't be so unbelievable to not have Dan as the narrator of the show - in theory.
There are plenty of hints throughout, even from the very first episode, that point toward his identity, and from his own comments to his placement in each episodes, fans have traced back clues to prove that he could, in fact, be Gossip Girl.
The issue that fans have is that there also happens to be heaps of evidence that prove he can't be Gossip Girl.
There was the time he looked shocked while reading a post he'd written. This wouldn't be unheard of for any writer, but Dan's face appeared to be shocked regarding content rather than his own abilities. He was alone in the scene and there was no benefit to pretending.
He's even asked to have his own secrets kept before blasting them himself. From pointing at his own creepy affair with a teacher to ruining his own sister's reputation to that stupid video post that makes no sense unless he's a supersonic blogger, there are too many issues for it to be Dan, yet here we are.
What other plot twists on the CW stick out as being good or bad? Let us know in the comments.