This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I'm talking about God?"
11945 members | you are not logged in | 21 December 2014




Tweet







September 16 2010

The best SF/fantasy cliffhangers ever shown on television. Buffy and Angel make their obligatory appearances. Spoilers for Tuesday night's Warehouse 13 finale.

Should have been Mentioned. Dollhouse Episode 11 (?) when Victor's face's gets slashed and you realise he's not a bumbling Wash type character BUT ALPHA. That was a good one.
I'd put BSG's Lay Your Burdens Down pt2 at the top of this list, hands down. Watching the end of that one for the first time left my jaw on the floor and a knot in my stomach.
"Die me, Dichotomy" was a corker but the end of 'Farscape' season 4 was a huge cliff-hanger, particularly given that by that stage we knew there wouldn't be a series 5. And Ats' 'Tomorrow' was a great cliff-hanger too. 'Star One' was good but was it really a cliff-hanger ? I mean, it's the Liberator with Avon leading versus, what, maybe a few hundred alien ships ? You almost have to feel sorry for them ;).

Totally agree with 'The Stolen Earth', best Who cliff-hanger IMO and up there with the best ever (even if, as the article mentions, the resolution was a slight cop-out). 'The End of Time Pt 1' and 'The Pandorica Opens' were decent too (and I particularly loved the paradoxical time-loop resolution to the escape-proof box, wibbly wobbly indeed - when faced with an immoveable object, only The Doctor would have an unstoppable force in his back-pocket ;) though the new show is slightly hampered by the amount of behind the scenes information available these days (it's nigh impossible for them to have a surprise regeneration for instance - wasn't easy with classic Who but at least it was possible).

And "Best of Both Worlds Pt 1", of course. Best ever ? It's up there anyway.
Saje--Well, yeah, but "cliffhangers because a show was canceled and there's still story left to tell..." could (and probably should) include NFA as well...

JMS' original plan was to end B5 S4 with "Intersections in real time"--that might have made the list, had it turned out that way. An interesting choice, to end a season with your hero not facing death, but interrogation, presumably until the breaking point eventually...

I'm not sure I would have taken Red Dwarf seriously enough, having watched it all, to consider anything they did remotely permanent.

If we're going for unresolved cliffhangers, SGU's cliffhanger has to be up there somewhere in terms of jeopardy. I can only think of one series regular who isn't gravely wounded, captured, or facing imminent death.
I think "I Was Made to Love You" is a huge one, that end shot still haunts me.

Also "Briar Rose", "Stop-Loss" and "Getting Closer".

Dollhouse is too underrated *cries in a corner*
I skimmed the article cause there's plenty I haven't seen, particularly Warehouse 13, but I agree with several inclusions like Farscape (I have to finish watching that someday),Angel,Buffy,X files and particularly BSG.
Saje--Well, yeah, but "cliffhangers because a show was canceled and there's still story left to tell..." could (and probably should) include NFA as well...

Well, yes and no jclemens. It was a huge cliff-hanger anyway but they only did it because they "knew" they were coming back for the promised fifth season. With NFA on the other hand, correct me if i'm wrong, that was pretty much the season finale anyway and Joss et al knew they were cancelled far enough ahead to change it if they wanted but decided to let it ride (because it was also a nigh perfect series finale).

The SGU one was pretty good, agreed. Stargate in general has had some decent cliff-hangers (the Atlantis one from season 3 to 4 was a doozy and though the series finale wasn't really a cliff-hanger it was a helluva "game-changer") although because SG1 was perennially on the verge of cancellation they tended to resolve their later seasons on the assumption that they weren't coming back.
Yeah, there are SG1 fans who treat S8 as the final season and ignore 9 & 10, and I can kinda see their point, and they're probably a more representative minority than those who ignore Buffy 6 & 7.

Yes, my recollection of NFA vs. Farscape's S4 finale, and the cancellation notification timeline matches yours. That was, of course, the fear with "Intersections in Real Time" as well--much of the planned B5 S5 action got shoehorned into the last few episodes of S4 because JMS didn't want to leave everything hanging if there was no S5.

I gotta agree, SGA S5 was a fantastic way to wrap up a show. I'm still wondering if they're ever going to use that resolution in SGU at some point...

Buffy has always done a great job of wrapping up its seasons well, which was Joss' intent all along IIRC. Buffy would have been a radically different story if it'd been cut short at any particular point, but it wouldn't have lacked resolution like Farscape did...
The Season 2 finale of the The 4400 was stupendous for cliff hangers. I don't think I've ever seen so many.
Still not watched it (and may never do given the cancellation - though I seem to remember you saying it was a cliff-hanger that you could see as an ending too Simon ?).

Buffy has always done a great job of wrapping up its seasons well, which was Joss' intent all along IIRC.

Which is something I really appreciated personally. I like a good cliff-hanger but given the way US TV works, i'd rather have them within a season, having them at the end sets the audience up for (sometimes crushing) disappointment if the show doesn't return.

(I know some writers like season finale cliff-hangers because they give you an instant in to the next season, resolving them gives you one or even two episode stories effectively "for free" but as I say, it's kinder to the audience to resolve the season IMO, even if you don't answer every question the show asks)
I very, very nearly put my foot through the TV when I saw the S4 finale of Farscape, despite knowing (and having on front of me to watch next) there was a mini series.

I agree most seasons of Stargate shows usually have good cliffhangers as a regular thing, though I didn't really like the finale of SGA, a lot of potential but way way too rushed for me.

I think S2 of Buffy is my favourite Whedon cliffhanger ever, especially because at that point I was convinced Angel was dead for good.
I very, very nearly put my foot through the TV when I saw the S4 finale of Farscape, despite knowing (and having on front of me to watch next) there was a mini series.

So imagine it before 'Peacekeeper Wars' was even a twinkle in anyone's eye Heavs. Stung a bit, to say the least (where previously shows would just not come back and i'd shrug and move on, 'Farscape' was the first TV show where I signed petitions, pledged money etc. to try to bring it back. It was kind of my gateway show to online fandom in that sense).
Getting Closer. Absolutely no contest. It would have been high on my list just on the strength of the Bennett moment, but That Ending made me shriek aloud at the TV, which has never happened before or since.

Come to think of it, at least half of Dollhouse S2 was made up of rather marvellous cliffhangers. It made for a very tense few weeks.

The Stolen Earth should get an honourable mention, just because it's amazing they managed to keep even a fake regeneration out of the papers. And I thought the Professor Jaggart reveal in S2 of Being Human was pretty neat.
Normally I don't agree with these kind of lists, as they always have glaring omissions, but this seemed pretty comprehensive.

My favourite was Star One, the season 2 finale for Blakes 7. I think this was one of the earliest end of season cliff hangers, and one of the best.

I'm still convinced that Blakes 7 was a big influence on Joss When for both Firefly and Dollhouse (as well as the makers of Farscape).
It's possible I guess (Joss was at school in Winchester around the time "Blake's 7" was airing and being a sci-fi geek he may have seen it - although interestingly, he apparently never watched 'Doctor Who' while he was here) though it's also possible that it's just one of those ideas that crop up from time to time (space pirates/criminals aren't exactly new, neither are dystopias/oppressive regimes, particularly in sci-fi - combine the two and you have both 'Farscape' and 'Firefly' in [very] broad strokes).

If it's either of them then my own feeling would be 'Farscape' more than 'Firefly' since the characters in 'Farscape', at least initially, share an unsympathetic vibe with most of "Blake's 7" (it's worth remembering that the crew in "Blake's 7" were on the run from an oppressive regime BUT they were also pretty much all actual criminals i.e. murderers, burglars, fraudsters etc. Not really the cuddly rogues with hearts of gold - or completely respectable citizens - that the 'Firefly' crew were). And the crew of mercs in 'Alien: Resurrection' feel a lot like a kind of proto 'Firefly' crew (though where the idea for them came from only Joss knows - as I say though, it doesn't need to be anywhere specific, in broad strokes it's not a huge leap IMO).
Total agree with you regarding the crew of the Betty in Alien Resurrection. They have strong similarities to the Firefly crew. Johner = Jayne, Annalee = Kaylee, Frank = Mal.

I always thought there were strong similarities between both shows in terms of crew dynamics, that both featured a crew that had been forced together, and didn't particularly get on with each other. I used to feel that their were similarties in the relationships between Blake & Avan and Mal & Simon.

That I said, Firefly is definately it's own beast, unlike Farscape which does at times appear to have crossed over from "influenced by" to "ripping off".

Joss has on many occasions spoken of having watched Dr Who while living in the UK during his youth. Also, back in 2001, Joss was a guest at the N3K convention in London (sadly his only UK con appearance), and I attended it.

One of the dealers at the event had Jacqueline Pearce sitting at their booth selling autographs. When Joss Whedon found out she was there he went into the dealers room and purchased her autograph.

I remembered that incident when Dollhouse premiered, as I saw strong parallels between Servelan and Adelle DeWitt.
Dollhouse is too underrated *cries in a corner*
Winchester | September 16, 17:26 CET


Not by me, if it makes you feel any better. :_) I just haven't thought of individual eps in terms of cliffhangers.
Grr. Netflix does not even know of this phenomenon called "Blake's 7"
Personally I haven't seen it since it aired jclemens, it'd be interesting to see how it's weathered the years. Even at the time I was aware it had very dodgy "special" effects (the "wobbly set" curse of all UK sci-fi from the period) and some fairly scenery chewing performances but it also had an edge to the characters and a sort of cynical world-view that was fairly unusual in e.g. US sci-fi up until comparatively recently. Worth a look if you can see past the defects (or hopefully anyway, like I say, been a while ;).

Joss has on many occasions spoken of having watched Dr Who while living in the UK during his youth.

You don't happen to have a link by any chance SeanHarrry ? I can't find it at the moment but i'm 99% certain that there's an interview/post on here wherein he says he'd never watched classic Who (but had seen the pilot for nuWho). I remember commenting at the time that that answered a question i'd had for a while.

One of the dealers at the event had Jacqueline Pearce sitting at their booth selling autographs. When Joss Whedon found out she was there he went into the dealers room and purchased her autograph.

Aha, good intel, ta. So he probably saw "Blake's 7" then and enjoyed (at least) her performance (although she obviously did other stuff too so I guess he could've been a fan independently).

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.



joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home