Why Do People Spoil? The Psychology Behind the Spoiler
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Why Do People Spoil? The Psychology Behind the Spoiler

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | April 15, 2014 | Comments ()


There have been countless articles written on the Internet devoted to the rules of spoilers: When they are appropriate and in what venue. Should you wait a week? A day? AT LEAST UNTIL THE WEST COAST HAS SEEN IT? Where can spoilers can be advertised (never on Facebook!) and even the appropriate use of spoilers in headlines.

The issue comes up a lot, naturally. We live in both the Internet age, and in the age of surprise twists, and the two “ages” often conflict. Sunday night’s Game of Thrones (NO SPOILERS) was just such an example: A huge event happened in the episode, and for many people, that event was spoiled within seconds after it happened or — in some cases — weeks, months, or even years before by book readers.

I work on the Internet, so if something can get spoiled ahead of time, chances are that I’m going to be spoiled. I don’t really care because — like Steven Lloyd Wilson — they don’t ruin my enjoyment. I don’t seek them out, but I can’t think of a single spoiler that has ever irrevocably tarnished an episode for me, and — like Steven — I think that an episode of television or a movie should be good enough to transcend the trickery of surprise. Though I sort of absorbed the spoiler by Internet osmosis, I felt that Sunday night’s Game of Thrones definitely didn’t need the element of surprise to succeed. If anything, my foreknowledge of the event only increased my anticipation. The only thing I really get annoyed by are negative spoilers: When someone tells me that something is not going to happen in a particular episode, because takes away the thrill of anticipation.

But this post isn’t about spoilers; it’s about a much less discussed topic: Why do people spoil? And the answer is: I don’t really know.

I mean, I understand why some pop-culture websites might do it. If you’re a blog devoted to television, and something huge happens, you want to be able to direct your readers to the appropriate place to discuss it because you’re trying to collect as many page views as possible. Of course, you also run the risk of pissing off more people than you attract, as I suspect was the case on Sunday night when Mashable spoiled Game of Thrones seconds after it aired on the East Coast, which led to an unfollowing campaign. I mean, that is really not cool. On the other hand, it sucks, but Twitter and Facebook is where many people process their feelings about twists and turns in television shows, so it’s probably ill advised to be on social media during primetime. It’s a bummer for people who with second lives on the Internet, but it’s somewhat unavoidable.

But if there’s not a financial incentive to spoil, then why? Why do some people feel so compelled to acknowledge a twist or surprise as soon as it happens? What do they gain? Even if you’re not revealing a plot point, but simple an “OMG! I can’t believe that happened!” what is gained by it other than everyone knowing that you’re watching a certain show? Is acknowledgement that important? Does it increase one’s self value for everyone to know that they’re watching Game of Thrones or Dexter or Justified?

Because my response to spoilers — and I think this is true of most people — has never been, “Oh My God! You’re so cool. You’re watching The Walking Dead!” If I’m behind, it’s either going to annoy me or increase my anxiety, because I’m going to feel like I’m missing out on something. If I’m watching a show live and see spoilers, I guess I’m still a little annoyed on behalf of other people if it’s something monumental, although there is also some value in it for me to see how others are reacting and if my reaction jibes with the consensus. But on the other hand, it does not increase my opinion of the person spoiling a show.

I don’t think people that spoil are trying to be assholes. I guess I feel like people want to be able to self-identify with a show and that we live in a culture where we all want to chime in, where we all want to be a part of the conversation, and maybe people who drop spoilers believe that, by identifying themselves with that show, people will gravitate toward them, and social media conversations will be had. A part of me gets that. Very few in my real-life peer group keep up with television in the same way that I do, so in order to have a real-life conversation with someone about The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad, I often have to wait a year until it arrives on Netflix. That’s why a place like Pajiba is so valuable to me, because it allows me to discuss something I feel passionate about with other people who have experienced it. Often, I want to be able to discuss it as soon as possible, but I don’t feel like alienating those who haven’t seen it yet is the best way to go about it.

I guess what I’m suggesting here is that, before spoiling something in social media, be mindful of why you’re doing it. What are you gaining? How many of your Twitter followers or Facebook friends are going to be annoyed? How many will be responsive? I think that especially on Facebook — where more folks tend to lag behind — you’re not going to gain much at all at least until after an episode airs, although I think that the following morning is a smarter time to attempt to create a conversation. You’re more likely to alienate people than you are to attract them. On Twitter, I think immediate reactions are more acceptable — because they are expected — but you’re still going to rub a few people the wrong way, and you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. How many more friends or social media connections are you going to make? Is it that important to you for everyone to know you may or may not be experiencing something along with them?

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Valar

    Some people do it to feel superior, because the fact they've read books about fictional events makes them awesome. Others get off on ruining plot twists for people.

  • Cowtools

    "I can’t think of a single spoiler that has ever irrevocably tarnished an episode for me"

    But how would you know?
    That's my problem with spoilers: once something's been spoiled, you can never watch it clean; that's an experience you'll never have.

  • JohnB

    Spoilers also come in the way of these blogs. For instance, I pretty much know everything that happens in the new Spiderman 2 movie cause its not only in almost every blog but they give away a lot of what they're saying in the title of said blog. BUT I also cant stop looking at these sites so, theres the rub.

  • Jack V. Butler Jr.

    Its not really spoilers when the information has only been publicly available for fifteen or sixteen years. I'm sorry if your inability to read causes you grief, but how is that the problem of those of us who've known what's going to happen for a long, long time? Because really, the fact that Olynna of Highgarden and Lord Petyr Baelish arranged to have Joffrey poisoned, and arranged for Tyrion to catch all the blame for it, has only been out there since the year 2000.

    As Jordan Raskopoulos put it, "Don't talk to me about spoilers! Winter's been coming for sixteen f*cking years."

  • Alan David

    Your logic doesn't hold up. It's called respect. You don't spoil things for people regardless of your personal opinion. You don't know their life, you don't know what they like, dislike, you don't know shit about them. It's not your place to assume an absolute authority on someone's reading ability. I've read a plethora of books throughout my life, some for college, some for personal pleasure, but I have not read the GoT series. Why? Because I simply don't want to. There isn't some symbolic reason, nor any trickery. I simply don't give a shit about reading the series. I read Lord of the Rings, but will I read GoT? No. So why is it that people like you develop this childlike mentality of wanting to act like pathetic minded imbeciles and spoil someones enjoyment? There's a time and a place for everything. If you haven't learned that yet I really hope it's because you're a child and not an adult because then it would be pathetic.

  • BKBorn1

    I find it funny that some people who are sensitive to spoilers still expect the masses to restrain themselves rather take the personal responsibility to avoid soilers.
    For example ,on certain fan pages, people naturally will get excited and want to talk about the show they are watching. But though this to be expected and often happens, a few people will still complain that about the spoilers.
    This causes me to think #1. Why are you here reading the discussions and #2. Why are you allowing these fan pages to post directly to your news feeds if spoilers are a sensitive issue for you.
    Spoilers exist and always will. So Its your job to avoid spoiling yourself.

  • Alan David

    Your logic could be used for any type of worldly act like murder and fall apart instantly. "It's not the murderers fault, it was the victims fault because they didn't do a good enough job of avoiding murder." Come on now use your brain. It's called etiquette and it's sad that we live in an age where people try to come up with excuses for moronic behavior. There's a time and place for everything and respect is a two way street bud.

  • BKBorn1

    Are you serious? Bringing murder into the equation?
    Murder is wrong. Spoilers are just an inconvenience.
    if you are serious about not being spoiled, then its probably a good idea to not read comments until you see the episode.
    Instead of expecting tens of thousands of others to all conveniently accomodate you.
    You not liking fans spoiler "etiquette" isnt going to make it go away.
    So try helping yourself by avoiding spoilers as much as possible. If people would not mention spoilers, that would be cool. But ,No one owes you a spoiler free life.

  • causaubon

    i find it very interesting, that in all this back-and-forth about why spoil, does spoiling piss you off, what steps you take to avoid possible spoiling, how awful spoilers are and on and on and on... nobody has yet asked the questions: "when did this become a such big deal?" and "why should anyone really give a shit?" ("who cares?" and "so what?" could also be included in this list).

    3 or 4 office lackie types standing around the water cooler.

    LACKIE #1
    ...so Cooper rewinds and then plays the tape recorder and you can hear the magpie say what sounds like "Leo, no! Leo, no!" but if you ask me it was really saying -

    LACKIE #2
    Pete, shh - here comes Steve. He hasn't seen last night's episode yet. Better not spoil it for him.

    25 years ago the above situation happened exactly never. Instead, Steve would've walked up to "the gang" standing around the water cooler and asked them what they were talking about. They would've replied that they were talking about last night's episode, Steve would've replied "Oh, I didn't see it. What did I miss?" and the gang would've filled him in. Nobody got their tits in a knot about something getting spoiled. One of the biggest things in 1992 was the "surprise" at the end of The Crying Game yet every one that saw it immediately spoiled it for everyone they knew that hadn't seen yet the next day and gave absolutely zero fucks about it. And nobody else cared, either - even people who hadn't seen it yet. hell, Billy Crystal even made a spoilerific joke about it at the '93 Oscars, a mere 4 months after the film came out, and nobody cried "wah".

    "Spoilers" weren't an issue.

    Spoilers were such a non-issue that people getting butt-hurt about spoilers were the butt of jokes in sitcoms (eg: Seinfeld with the Mets game; Dan Rydell with the Orioles exhibition game featuring Orlando Rojas).

    seriously, when did this become a big deal?

  • causaubon

    btw - at the end of The Crying Game, turns out that one chick has a dick and the magpie was saying "Leland, no!", because Leland killed Laura Palmer.

    get over it.

  • JarekM

    You could say this about a lot of things, but it's just sort of the way pop culture has evolved. Personally, I don't understand the appeal of sports, but I'm not gonna begrudge someone for being bummed that their team lost; I'm not gonna rant and go, "who cares life goes on brah." People have different priorities when it comes to entertainment.

    Also, I feel like the "spoiler" debate wasn't an issue 25 years ago because neither social media nor streaming content were available. More people could be lax and say, "Oh, what'd I miss?" because if you didn't set a timer on your VCR, you were shit out of luck. Now, if someone is a regular viewer of, say, GoT but just didn't catch the latest episode, they might want to watch it on HBO GO that night after work, so walking into a conversation and hearing "Oh, but what about when [redacted] happened?" might ruin the experience for them.

    TL; DR - Of course it's not life and death, but being invested in something and having it spoiled for you is still shitty.

  • I have inadvertently spoiled things twice that I'm aware of in Pajiba land. One time I made a realtime comment in the walking dead group on the facebook page (I misunderstood the purpose of the group - I honestly thought that is what it was for.). The second was an offhand comment in a completely unrelated thread about someone finding a new show since they'd been killed off their last show more than a month previously. Whoo, boy. Did I get torn up one side and down the other with each. I apologized sincerely, but have stopped commenting on tv related items because it gets me in too much trouble.
    Seriously, will someone please come up with a formula that everyone can agree on about when you can stop worrying about spoiling something?

  • crispin

    Count Pajiba as one of the websites that spoiled what happened in the episode the following morning by highlighting articles the pictures and gifs of Joffrey.

  • Bibliophile

    I think a lot of it stems from the same place that makes journalists scramble to break news, co-workers gossip viciously about each other and douchebags type "FIRST!" in the comments section. There is power in being the first person to have a piece of information, and people like to flex their muscles.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Short version: people are often kind of a-holes.

  • Al

    The second the death occurred on the show someone posted a picture of his dead face on Twitter with no hashtag. That's a dick move. If you've seen the show live, the picture adds nothing. If you haven't seen the show - it's spoiled. The ONLY reason to do that is to spoil the show. If you're not adding to the conversation then you're just being an asshole.

  • LK16

    Why spoil? What do I gain? To me, it can feel really important to connect with other people and commiserate/celebrate something together right after it's just been experienced. I make a conscious effort not to spoil as much as possible, especially around those friends who have stated they really hate it. But when something big happens on a TV show that affects me emotionally -- and I'll just mention the development on The Good Wife a few weeks back -- I want to TALK about it.

    I don't get gratification out of spoiling people, I don't want to ruin anyone else's experience or have a weird 'I beat you to this plot point' mentality. I'm emotionally affected by something that happened to a character I care about in a show I watch regularly, and I just need to talk about it! I live alone, and social media is right there, providing me with a place to communicate with other people and to know that, even though I feel kind of crazy for getting emotional over a piece of fiction, I'm actually NOT crazy, because all of these other people feel this way, too. I have a community, I'm not alone, we're going through this together. I guess that's why I spoil.

  • Modiano

    I get where you're coming from because I TALK about it all the time! I have figured out who's "safe" to talk to about certain shows though. I never spoil because I text my friends that I know watch the show...or email...or call...or have a group chat...or speak to them in person. Anything I post on a public timeline on Twitter/FB is going to be vague and un-spoilery OR with a big warning first so no one reads it who doesn't want to.

    We all have lots of people we're "friends" with online that we do not call on the phone or text. I can't conceive of blasting all those people (who's tv habits I really don't know) with my emotional reactions to things they might also emotionally react to a week or a year from now depending on their lives. I would feel bad. I've managed to find lots of people willing to engage in discussion without spoiling anyone this way.

  • I just blogged on this. Fans of the show want to talk about this exciting thing that happened ASAP! That's why they go to Twitter and Facebook, not to spoil it for others. Anyone who is upset about having the show spoiled should either watch the show live (and Tweet with the rest of us - it's fun!) or they should PVR and avoid social media until they watch the show later that night. If you're on the West Coast, avoid social media all night. The other option is adopting the attitude that you have, i.e. spoilers are not the end of the world.

  • Songkhla

    In a way I think it’s almost a form of modern day gossip. Being the first one with the juicy details is exciting and makes one feel important. And much like gossip it can really tick people off. I believe there is a camp who genuinely just wants to discuss what they have just seen/experienced and those who just want to be the first ones to tweet/blog/tell everyone what happened.

  • Kate

    See, to me talking about a show with other people who've seen it on Twitter or Facebook or wherever isn't spoiling. The person who hasn't seen the show has the option of not reading or unfollowing.

    To me spoiling is having a conversation where one person says they've just started watching a show, and the other person tells them how it ends...whereas what's described above is like joining a book club, failing to finish the book, and then getting pissy because your fellow members are discussing it in full. If it matters to you, watch it live or stay the hell away from anywhere that might spoil you.

    These days everyone watches things at a different time, there's no safe time to discuss a show because someone will always be just starting it or thinking about starting it. In ten years there will still be plenty of people who haven't yet seen GoT, so how long do you avoid discussing it?

  • Modiano

    I love your comparing the social media discussions to a book club. Most book clubs give plenty of time (certainly longer than a tv schedule) to be fully caught up though.

    I try to be very respectful and always ask my co-workers or friends, "Did you see it yet?" for every show, not just GOT. If someone hasn't, those of us that have will go to another room and discuss.

    As for the book club that is social media, I think anything specific without a big "SPOILERS" and lots of spaces is rude. You should give people a choice who might stumble on it, even if its as short as a tweet. Shows that are still unfinished or have only been finished in the past few years? I refuse to spoil anyone's enjoyment if they don't seek it out. There's nothing wrong with putting a big bold warning on the things you write or discuss online to be considerate of others. On the other hand, if they joined a GOT Discussion Group and get pissed at being spoiled...they're just silly.

  • Jericho Smith

    Why is it my responsibility to not "spoil" something for you?

    Isn't it your responsibility to consume media at the earliest opportunity? Even if it costs you $100 a month for cable & HBO?

  • Repo

    So as a show watcher, you're totally cool with the book readers letting you know everything that is probably coming up on HBO, right?

    Because you totally could have read the books years ago. Even if it cost you nothing for a library card.

  • Jericho Smith

    I tried the books years ago, got bored a few hundred pages in.

    And I've never seen the show.

  • "Isn't it your responsibility to consume media at the earliest opportunity?"

    Gotta pick your poison there. There's too much great television to watch in live these days. It's almost impossible for full-time TV writers to cover it all in real time, let alone average people with jobs and families. That's why screeners and DVRs exist.

    So because someone chooses to watch, say, Silicon Valley/Veep on Sundays at 10 instead of Mad Men, that's tough shit for them as far as Mad Men plot developments go?

    Again, spoilers are avoidable to some extent. Strange to see someone take such a militant stance about it, though.

  • pajiba

    I'm not arguing about whose responsibility it is, I'm just asking "Why spoil? What do you gain?"

  • Jericho Smith

    We're sort of kinda talking about GoT here, so is it any surprise I find your pain pleasurable? Your pain, my gain.

  • Alan David

    So you're sadistic? Okay good excuse, now go enjoy hurting your dolls son.

  • Jericho Smith

    Wow! Not only is the party over, but we've cleaned up and got our security deposit back.

    And they are "Action Figures".

  • periwinkled

    I'm generally pretty good at avoiding spoilers, but Sunday's Game of Thrones was spoiled for me by someone who actually put the spoiler across a photo from Community. I wasn't guarding against it, so it caught me by surprise. Just seemed needlessly malicious.

  • Roxtaf

    Homo Sapiens Sapiens spoils everything, why would they not spoil on the internet ? O.o

  • JazzCat

    Also: I don't know if this was intentional by Pajiba or not, but that photo of Natalie Dormer is from The Tudors, not Game of Thrones.

  • pajiba

    (It was intentional. I didn't want to be accused of spoiling anything).

  • crispin

    Because Pajiba already did that yesterday by posting pics of Joffrey to go along with the articles.

  • JazzCat

    I thought as much. Just making sure! :)

  • Tinkerville

    Spoiler alert: Anne Boleyn's head gets cut off.

  • Vivianne ValdeMar

    Complaining about spoilers regarding anything that closely follows source material that's been around for centuries will frankly only garner a lot of "Bless your heart!"'s from anyone I know.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I had thought it was a play on that, to be honest.

  • Jericho Smith

    But I haven't seen The Tudors yet!!

    I keep meaning to get around to it, but....

  • JazzCat

    Some people (like me) prefer simply to preserve as much of the "moviegoing" process as possible. By that I mean, when we were kids in the '80s, all we had to go on about a movie was the one sheet we saw at the cineplex and maybe a tv spot if we were lucky enough to catch it. Thus, the entire world of a film could open up to us as we watched it, rather than knowing every last damn detail weeks before going into the theater. Imagine the joy of a film like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ask yourself -- would you have enjoyed such a film as much as you might now had everything been leaked before you even had a chance to sit down to watch it?

    With regard to TV, it's essentially the same thing. Think about Battlestar Galactica or LOST or even How I Met Your Mother and all the twists and turns and reveals included in shows like them. I would much prefer discovering each of them as I watch rather than knowing in full beforehand. I don't skip to the end of the book when I'm reading a great novel; I don't do that with TV either.

    I do think that some people feel this way. I do also think that there are those who do not feel this way and who are perfectly justified to do so. But I think the real problem also stems from another contingent of people who go out of their way to soak up every last bit of information, every last morsel of spoilerific knowledge about whatever Hollywood production is "in" and then broadcast it whenever they see fit out of some perverse desire to not only self-identify with said production but also so they can look "cool," look "in the know" and somehow be associated with that show or film as some sort of expert vs. just an aficionado.

    Still worse are the people who believe they know "better" than the actual content creators what to do, how to do it, and what would be better for their productions. The recent outrage over the How I Met Your Mother finale is a perfect example of this, as myriads of viewers suddenly were experts at writing single camera sitcom finales. This shouldn't suggest that they aren't right to feel what they feel, but rather that the majority of viewers are not television writers in Hollywood. You reach a certain point then where that audience is just lacking in experience and can't really comment in any meaningful way on the ins and outs of television writing and production.

    Now I'm sure that last comment is going to piss off some of you because you'll interpret it as some sort of censorship or declaration that you're wrong, but it's not meant that way. It's not meant specifically about How I Met Your Mother or any other show, but it does apply to those shows and it does apply to some of you and more to the wider audience in general.

    What does this have to do with spoilers? It's the same stem of thought processes -- people want to think they "know" what they're talking about. They want to be "in" on the zeitgeist or at the very least "get" what writers are trying to do with their shows. (I would submit, this is also why some people just plain don't care for Mad Men -- they just don't "get" it.) In a similar vein, some people spoil because it's a way for them to be on "the inside." They know what's going on, they're in the loop and can lord it over others.

    The thing I don't care for (and as a result, have blocked, unfollowed or just plain hidden friends for) is the complete and total lack of understanding that spoilers and how they get delivered in social media basically boils down to simple common courtesy. A lot of people don't stop to think about that when they share things and it's just rude.

  • Peezy

    Stephen fucking King, of all people, spoiled Game of Thrones on Twitter this week for me (and countless others). It hadn't even aired on the west coast yet and he was blabbing about what happened. And when people called him out on it, he got all dickheaded about it. "The books have been out 15 years. Spoiler alert, Romeo and Juliet died too."

    You'd think a guy who creates stories for a living would be a little more aware.

  • Serious question: if you live on the West Coast and wanted to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers, why were you on the internet at 7 pm PT? You had to know you're running a risk, right?

  • Peezy

    That's a fair question. For starters, I'll just say that I don't generally follow assholes, and out of all the people I follow, Stephen King was legitimately the only person to spoil anything, which I just found weird coming from a guy who's entire career is built on the magic of storytelling.

    As for why I would be on the internet, yes it's running a risk, and I suppose I should have expected it to happen eventually, but that doesn't make it right. I shouldn't have to avoid the internet because people don't use common courtesy. The onus is on them to not be dicks, not on me to go out of my way to avoid said dicks.

  • I am a book reader, but I wasn't exactly sure if what happened was going to happen this week...so I stayed off until after I'd watched. I think we all know by now, that's the choice one has to make.

  • An interesting one for me was a certain site *may* have put a Hannibal spoiler in the URL, of all places (the article itself didn't reference it. I still don't know if it's true and I'm trying not to think about it, but it pissed me off.

    People can be assholes; that's all I've got.

  • I think the question "why do people spoil?" is ridiculous and implies that people "spoil" things on their end. I've never got that "you spoiled it for me" sentiment, as if the person casually talking about their favourite show is at fault rather than the person who has attached a really weird emotional response to hearing information they aren't ready for yet.

    If you're asking about the very few people who literally get off on trying to spoil things (yelling spoilers at people waiting in line for a movie, for example), the question is valid I guess, but if you're just asking why people talk about what happened on their favourite show, the answer is obvious.

    if you're the type of person who gets worked up about spoilers, then it's your job to watch the latest episodes of your show in a timely fashion and avoid the people and social media that are likely to spoil it for you. It's not the rest of the world's job to tip-toe around you you fucking baby. :)

  • But, just to look at the other side for a moment, I never read The Hobbit all the way through. Its one of my brother's favorite books, and each Christmas we go see the movie. I was talkign to a friend of mine about this plan, and the fact that I had not read the book. She immediately launches into a reminiscence of reaidng the book as a kid, and spoils a major death in the book/eventual thrid movie. As her friend, I was pissed off because I had *just* told her that I didn't know the way the book ended. Isn't that a legitimate "you spoiled X for me" reaction? Obviously I've since forgiven her, but I make sure to avoid talking about GoT with her.

  • Seems legit to me.

  • Three_nineteen

    The more interesting question to me is why Game of Thrones seems to be special in this regard. For most other adaptations, there's a mild warning about not spoiling, and if someone accidentally says something, there's some mild complaining. Didn't almost everyone get spoiled about Khan in the movie? Yet there was no huge outcry for vengeance. Heck, for Hannibal, Fuller's published his six-year plan for the plot, and everyone on most comment threads I've read is discussing which book this character is introduced in, whether that character dies in the books, how something from last week's episode was different from the books and how it will affect the book plot going forward, etc.

    For GOT, it is different somehow. For Hippie Pete's sake, people on the West Coast know that East Coast people are going to talk about GOT immediately after they see it. Get off the internet for three hours if you don't want to be spoiled. Go read a book. In fact, go read GOT, then you won't be spoiled. That's what I did.

    ETA: OK, so I had an entire middle paragraph about how book spoilers are different than spoilers about an episode that just aired, but something happened to it. Basically, I think that talking about book events before they happen in the story is not nice, but that talking about the differences between the book and the show is perfectly fine, and talking about the episodes between the East Coast and West Coast showings is inevitable.

  • Guest

    Some Game of Thrones book readers seem to spoil as a way of bullying show fans into reading ASOIAF so as to immunize themselves from future spoilers. Last year I came across numerous spoilers for Man of Steel's ending because someone hated it so much they felt it was their duty to make sure no one wanted to see it. Some think they are so witty that the world needs to see their oh so clever mockery of a movie before it even comes out. Bret Easton Ellis did that with Gravity, just spoiled it with wiseass cracks before most people could see it for themselves. I remember reading that within days of release of a Harry Potter book someone had hired a pilot to skywrite that a major character had died in an act I can only assume was motivated by pure meanness. Sometimes it's just enthusiasm getting the better of someone after seeing something they truly loved, but there are definitely plenty of assholes who spoil to ruin something for everyone that they possibly can.

  • Kim Voeks

    I have the other side of that question. How long are we supposed to wait on the people who haven't seen it or read it, to catch up? Are we all banned from discussing it because someone else doesn't have cable and has to wait on Netflix? We do a running commentary on a couple of shows on twitter and FB. No one is supposed to say anything because others haven't seen it? Why is it more appropriate to say that everyone must refrain from talking about it, than to just avoid social media until you have?

  • toasty

    Is it so hard to just type "SPOILERS AHEAD" at the beginning before you saying anything about events that haven't occurred in the tv show yet? That's what I do, no one can complain that I spoiled it for them since I warned them in all caps to draw their eyes away from my spoiler talk.

    Example - SPOILERS AHEAD: I loved GoT season 3, the red wedding really messed me up, but the purple wedding made up for it.

  • To me, once it airs in your time zone, any discussion is fair game. I try to avoid spoiling GoT events for non readers. But at the same time, the book is 15 years old and I wouldn't complain if I hadn't read it and I caught wind of an event.

    Shows, films, books -- they're designed for discussion. Be as respectful as you can, but at the end of the day, the anus is more on the non-participant to avoid spoilers.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    See, I seriously disagree with this idea that, just because the books are 15 years old it's somehow the viewer's fault for not reading them. That's preposterous, and yet it gets dragged out all the time.

    "Well, that's your fault for not reading the incredibly dense, complex fantasy saga that spans 10,000 pages, you dummy!"

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Are you still upset about having Nicholas Nickleby spoiled for you?

    (but I do get your point, since they only reason we're even discussing GoT with any urgency is because it's on TV)

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    I'll never forgive the bastard who told me that Smike was Ralph's son. RUINERS OF ALL THE THINGS.

  • It's not a fault thing. It's just reality. What the timeline for when spoilers are acceptable? 15 years feels like an awfully long time.

    Again, there's a difference between some taintgobbler blowing loads because he intentionally ruins GoT for people, and the book reader who simply wants to have a discussion about how events in the television show relate to those on the page. If the latter occurs in a TV-viewers only post or a post totally unrelated to the topic, that's a dick move. But at some point we're out of eggshells to walk on.

  • The Other Agent Johnson

    Yes, but - and I know this is tenuous, but it's nonetheless valid - we're not talking about the books. We're talking about the television show, and for some reason, those who read the book seem unable to separate those two things. There are countless forums out there (Pajiba has one too) that are specifically about both the show and the books.

    That's the crux of it, really. Acknowledging that, for the purposes of entertainment consumption, the show and the book are not the same thing. Who cares if the books have been out for 15 years when the show has been out for 15 hours, or hasn't even been broadcast. That's not a useful argument for these purposes. If this was a conversation about spoiling the books -- or, for that matter, spoiling a 15 year-old tv show, that'd be a different animal. But that's not the issue.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Don't you dare edit that error, Byrd!

  • That was not an error. It was a Dewey Crowe homage.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Heh heh. Anus.

  • *Spoilers for GoT below*

    Anyone follow Vulture on Twitter? They didn't explicitly spoil what happened in their tweets, but when I see "Interview With Jack Gleeson on Game of Thrones Wedding Shocker!" that pretty much gives it away.

    I feel like a lot of sites/publications have followed that logic and figured out ways to post spoilers without directly spelling it out. Kinda sucks.

  • Exactly. There's no way around it. Especially with the current Internet business climate where you're directly incentivized to be first.

  • JJ

    The "what are you gaining?" question is a good one. From my experience, it seems that nothing is being gained specifically. It's those that just have SO MANY FEELINGS coupled with their compulsive need to share ALL of their reactions online for the attention. On Facebook, they are the people I refer to as "The Hidden."

  • Blake Shrapnel

    "I don’t think people that spoil are trying to be assholes."

    You might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment...

  • "I suspect was the case on Sunday night when Mashable spoiled Game of Thrones seconds after it aired on the East Coast, which led to an unfollowing campaign. "

    By-product of the shitty internet business model. A lot of people live on the East Coast. They want to Tweet/engage about a very popular show they just watched that had a very shocking ending. Not doing that costs Mashable clicks/buzz/whatever, which eventually costs them money.

    Game of Thrones, though, is a really unique spoiler situation because it lends itself to book vs. TV show comparisons...which are impossible discussions to have sans spoilers. It's also a show that lends itself to speculation (especially last week's ep). Book readers can't engage in that speculation with non-book readers (Illiteratti?) b/c they're privy to information the other wants to avoid. So we're left with two camps. And the Internet doesn't lend itself well to that type of setup.

  • Maddy

    I'm just so glad I read all the books before GOT started so I got to experience it the first time through without being spoiled. I feel like I spend my life protecting people who just watch the show from being spoiled.

  • BWeaves


    Some people just want to feel superior. It's like the asshole who walked by some kids waiting in line to buy the last Harry Potter book. He bent down and said loudly, "Harry dies!"

    It didn't matter that JK Rowling had written the ending so he both died and lived. The asshole just wanted to feel superior.

    Then there are the people who just want to discuss what they just saw, "OMG, I can't believe that just happened." They don't do it out of spite. They just can't wait.

    I'm in an interesting situation. Darling husband (DH) is reading GoT, and is just done with the most current book. I tried reading it, but didn't like Martin's writing style. We have to watch GoT's on DVD, so we're always a season behind. However, I happen to love spoilers, so I've read up on everything that happens on the Wiki pages. So when discussing the story with DH, I have to think about where he is in both the book and the viewing, because I actually know a bit more about what has happened story wise, and I love reading the Pajiba reviews of the latest HBO episodes. I try very hard to NOT spoil it for him, but he's in a different place in books and DVD so I really have to think hard, and not say, "Has this happened yet?" and instead, "Where is Arya right now?"

  • That is EXACTLY how you have to talk about GoT. Although the first rule is "Don't ask questions about the books." Usually people won't believe the answer anyway. After I finished Storm of Swords last summer (and stopped for now) my wife said "Now do you see why I couldn't answer anything you asked?" and it really made sense. Friends that are not as far along will ask something and I will ask them where so-and-so is to gauge what is happening. It's a funny thing, I don't think there is another series like this as mainstream and with these challenges to enjoy it and remain spoiler free no matter where you are in the books or series.

  • Ben

    Honestly for me avoid spoilers all I do is avoid twitter and facebook before watching the show/game. The shitty thing when it comes to Game of Thrones is that in my social group there is a 50/50 split between people who have read the books and illiterate bastards who scream that we cannot discuss something has been known about for 14 years.

  • BendinIntheWind

    100% agree. If you care THAT much about a show, that you will be heartbroken if it's spoiled before you catch the episode, just STAY OFF THE DAMN INTERNET.

    I have never seen an episode of "Breaking Bad". I intend to bingewatch the series when I have some free time this summer, but I will be able to do so completely unspoiled, despite being a prolific internet-er. Stay out of the comment sections, don't read cast interviews discussing the "shocking developments" of the most recent episode, scroll right past the blog posts. IT'S NOT HARD.

  • JazzCat

    How is that any more unreasonable though? The internet is the primary meansof mass communication today. It's patently ridiculous to suggest that people should "stay off the internet" to avoid spoilers when, if those prone to discussing spoilers could just as easily show the slightest modicum of common courtesy. How hard is it, on Facebook, to start a status update with "Game of Thrones! (Spoilers in comments) and then make your damn spoilerific comment in the first post?

    Answer: It's not hard at all. And if it is, chances are you're an asshole.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Why am I an asshole for taking cautious steps to preserve my own enjoyment of a some piece of pop culture at a later date? If I'm the one missing a big cultural event that other people want to talk about. (GoT, Super Bowl, Oscars, whatever), *I* am the one who takes a few easy steps to stay away from the info.

    Why should I inconvenience everyone else? "Oh you want to talk spoilers? Cool, I'll be back later." Not "OMG NO ONE ON FACEBOOK CAN TALK ABOUT THIS BECAUSE I HAVEN'T SEN IT YET!" The onus is on me as an outlier to avoid whatever I don't want to see.

  • As a book reader exasperated with hear people whine about the slightest sentence that might spoil GoT, I still think it's harder to avoid these things on the Internet than you're making it out to be. Between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, pop-culture sites, and more, it's nearly impossible to steer clear of major TV events. Simply seeing a picture associated with a particular headline often tips the hand.

  • I've often found that the header pictures tip the hand in the wrong direction (especially around here). I watched all of Breaking Bad in a run up to the final season, but still managed to be behind for the final 3 or so episodes. I was sure that a header pic here had spoiled a plot point for me, but it turned out, I was very, very wrong.

    Admittedly, its tough, but its do-able. As a non-book reader for ASoIaF I've come to terms with the fact that my friends (the vast majority of whom do read or have completely spoiled themselves for the plots) are going to want to talk about the events. Its up to me to avoid the conversations that they have the right to have.

  • What's worse are the nonreader friends who ask you questions, but don't really want answers. Those are the worst people.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I disagree. I am constantly behind on some series by a season (SoA & Justified) because my cable provider doesn't carry FX (THANKS BELLOBAMA!) and, being Canadian, (strike three) I don't have legal access to Hulu et al (I'm aware that I could but whatever). I have yet to be spoiled on either of those shows despite hanging around here and on other similar, yet vastly superior, sites. It really is quite easy.

    I also don't twitter or twatter or whatever the hell you kids do these days. (parenthesis)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I just avoided online yesterday until I could watch last night. I went on Pajiba yesterday, saw a headline about someone dying, and noped myself away.

    But I do think the onus is on me to avoid, and I guess I'm lucky that GoT is not water cooler conversation at my office.

    But anyone who has ever tweeted or posted about a sports play knows it's mostly about sharing the excitement. It's the reason things get liveblogged. Hell, it's the reason CNN exists.

  • I think we should give those people, the non readers, a surname similar to the bastards in the Westeros universe. Any ideas?

  • Sean Van Damme

    The Ice and Fire fandom already calls them the Unsullied.

  • JJ

    Given both this website/region and the treatment therein, I nominate "Mock."

    JJ Mock

  • But I'm mocking you with love! Well, most of you.

  • SottoVoce


  • Laura


  • lowercase_see

    I spoil the shit out of Game of Thrones when I've been drinking. Unlike Tyrion, I cannot hold my wine. So, sorry, friends, that I told you [name redacted] was a sociopath two seasons ago. Just wait. It gets worse.

  • pajiba

    Drunkenness! A totally acceptable answer.

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