Finding success with an original TV show is never easy, which means writers and creators are usually more concerned with earning another season than planning years in advance. But sometimes, the minds behind our favourite TV shows have a grand plan in mind – and drop plenty of clues to help viewers connect the dots to see what’s coming. Whether it’s a punchline that takes years to arrive, or a clue to solve the mystery, the following video contains plenty of spoilers – you have been warned.
Arrested Development may have been cancelled after 3 seasons, but most critics and writers agreed it was ahead of its time - jam-packed with too many punchlines and running gags to catch the first time around. When the Bluths' stunted sibling Buster lost a limb to a loose seal, the door was opened to a world of hook and hand-based humor. But fans may not have noticed just how far ahead of time the writers planned the move, planting gags long before the event ever took place. The jokes only land on repeat viewings, showing just how much the writers relied on fans re-watching the series to catch every detail.
Every sci-fi fan knows that changing the past can be just as much fun as exploring the future, and showing the audience they've been fooled all along is a clever tool for any writer. With Futurama, that meant revealing that the show's hero being frozen for 1,000 years was no accident, but a plot carried out by the team's super-intelligent alien pet, Nibbler. Making Fry the universe's last hope was taken as a clever rewrite - but the pilot episode really DID show Nibbler's shadow beneath Fry's chair. The fans didn't spot it, and the writers waited four full seasons to reveal the true story behind the entire show.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan turned the story of a chemistry teacher turned Crystal Meth kingpin into one of TV’s greatest shows ever – with visual bookends, repeated imagery, and yes, clues early on to just how far Walter White would go into the world of Crystal Meth. The clues can be small, like when Walter urges his partner Jesse to disappear, obscuring a license plate to read “WYR UP” - wire up - one episode before Jesse does just that to help bring his friend down.
Or they can be far grander. When select episodes in Season 2 opened with black-and-white glimpses of the future, fans took it as a sign that Walter’s drug op would be discovered by the season’s end. But the titles of those same episodes promised a very different finale: “Seven Thirty-Seven”, “Down”, “Over”, “ABQ" or Albuquerque, Walt’s hometown.
Game of Thrones
The Red Wedding of author George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series may get most of the headlines, but King Joffrey's death at Season 4’s Purple Wedding is just as important. It's the king's uncle and the innocent Sansa Stark who end up blamed for the king's poisoning, but the fans are never told explicitly how the plan was carried out - or were they? It turns out Sansa played a role in the plot, whether she, or the audience, knew it. In the episode before the Purple Wedding, a court jester who Sansa had rescued from Joffrey gives her his mother's necklace as a thank- you.
She wears the necklace to King Joffrey's wedding, and the ladies of House Tyrell put their plan into action: Olenna distracts Sansa long enough to pluck one of the poison jewels free, meaning Margaery only has to take Joffrey's cup moments later so the poison can be planted. After that, the rest took care of itself.
American Horror Story: Coven
In the third season of the anthology series American Horror Story, it’s a coven of Salem witches who take the spotlight. But when the coven’s leader Fiona is stricken with cancer, she claims it’s a sign that a new Supreme – a single witch able to wield the Seven Powers – is rising to power. She begins to pick off her witches one by one, hoping to kill the new Supreme before being replaced. In the show’s opening credits, it’s actress Sarah Paulson whose name is placed is first shown next to a skeletal saint, known to those in Mexico as Santa Muerte, also known as the Lady of the Seven Wonders. If only Fiona had noticed, she would’ve known it was Paulson’s character, Cordelia who would lead the coven, a secret spoiled in the first episode for those paying attention.