Semi-Stupid Tuesday Questions: Reverse Spoilers

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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77 Responses

  1. Pinky says:

    July 2nd and 3rd were humanity’s worst days, thinning out the population by several billion. We won, but only sort of.

    There’s an anime named Neon Genesis Evangelion. Its ending was so bizarre and so low-budget that everyone in Japan complained. So the creator produced a full-length movie alternate ending – which was arguably more bizarre, and even more poorly-budgeted. There are also manga and new movies, some of which are set in alternate universes, apparently. Anyway, I was sort of spoiled for parts of the ending, but I’m still not sure which parts, or which continuity. The good thing is, the movie was so lousy that by the end of it I didn’t care.Report

  2. Gabriel Conry says:

    I’m not sure this counts, but before I saw “The Graduate,” I somehow believed that Mrs. Robinson was Hoffman’s teacher/professor and not a friend of the family.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    The New Yorker described the ending of Independence Day as the “characters standing around as if they won a volleyball match.” Now that is what I call devastating criticism.

    Now onto your actual question…

    I don’t think so.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    I am generally more interested in how or why something happens in a story than what happens. Plot is important but there are other considerations.Report

    • @saul-degraw I actually kind of agree. It depends on the movie, though. A lot of the time I judge a movie to be really good in part because I can enjoy it despite knowing full well how it ends or the Big Reveal.

      That being said, for a lot of movies there is something special about watching such a movie for the first time, not knowing.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        I generally lose interest in a movie if I figure out the Big Reveal before it’s shown, like “I’ve solved the puzzle, we’re done now”. So I was kind of bored during the last hour of Tbar Tvey and most of Qrngugenc (jurer gurl gbyq hf bapr gbb bsgra gung Qlna Pnaaba unq n urneg pbaqvgvba.) I’d probably enjoy them more if I knew it to begin with.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    True Detective.

    I mentioned something about how the show was spoiled for me because I found out that “gur fubj vf n pbc qenzn gung gnxrf cynpr va n Ybirpensgvna havirefr.” (Rot13 link here.)

    James Pierce told me “That’s not my reading of the show at all…” and that the article that I had read about the show “got it wrong. Big time.”

    Now, in my little twisted way, I had interpreted what was said to mean that the red herrings provided by the show meant that jr ner gur zbafgref naq Ehfg vf, va snpg, bar bs gur znva onq thlf.

    Instead, it turns out that, in the final scene, Ehfg rkcynvaf gung “gur yvtug vf jvaavat.”

    And so I spent the last few episodes dreading the finale. When, really, it wasn’t so bad.Report

  6. James Hanley says:

    I don’t know if it counts, but growing up with black and white TV, I only realized The Wizard of Oz shifted to color while watching it in a friend’s dorm room in college. My ignorance was good for a laugh from all the other guys there, at least.Report

  7. Tod Kelly says:

    The obvious one for me is The Last Temptation of Christ, which I saw as a movie before reading the Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel (which made me a big Kazantzakis fan).

    I had heard and read about the movie for a couple of months before I saw it, and I went in expecting a kind of John Waters-esque attempt to blaspheme just for the tacky pleasure of offending the prudish. And since I do’t particularly like offending people just to offend them, I assumed I would either squirm all the way through or walk out.

    What I saw was something entirely different, of course.

    The controversial last bit of the movie and novel was, for me, a kind of revelation. I had grown up being taught the Jesus was a kind of superhero whose supposed sacrifice I could never really understand. Kazantzakis helped me understand in a way I was unable to prior to the movie and book.

    To this day, I cannot for the life of me understand why so many conservative Protestant Christians despise it so — their reaction to it truly baffles me. I can’t understand why they don’t love it.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I had heard enough about the ending that it didn’t surprise me. But I agree with the revelatory aspect of the ending, which in large part was what Kazantsakis was pursuing in the book (I also loved the book, which I read after seeing the movie*).

      And like you, I don’t understand why conservative Christians don’t like it. I had one person tell me that it showed Jesus sinning, which of course it doesn’t, and read a letter to the editor complaining that it showed Jesus being tempted, which they thought never happened, despite the gospels explicitly saying so. (Of course I’ve long disliked the story of Jesus’ temptation because it doesn’t actually feel like he was really tempted–it reads like Satan attempted to tempt him, but Jesus never felt the urge to succum. One of these days I’ll finish my short story/one act play about how that meeting really played out.)

      *I do read some books. 😉Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        Jesus never felt the urge to succum.

        No comment.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        I doubt that most of the people who hate it know anything about it besides what they’ve been told, and have the same impression Tod had before he actually saw it. The main sticking point seems to be that it shows Jesus having sex, and the facts that it’s a fantasy sequence and that in the fantasy they’re husband and wife don’t seem to matter.Report

      • North in reply to James Hanley says:

        I understand your confusion. I have never understood why the hell Christians hated the movie Dogma of all things.Report

      • Que? One of that movie’s central conceipts was that a non-trivial number of religious people are doing it wrong. It seemed completely understandable to me that those so accused would object to said film.

        (For my own part, I kinda liked it when it came out, but my opinion of it has progressively soured. Now it’s among the least favorite Smith movies that I’ve seen.Report

      • James K in reply to James Hanley says:


        One of these days I’ll finish my short story/one act play about how that meeting really played out.

        Just so you know, you’ll be up against some stiff competition.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Oh, yeah, that’s a good one. Mine’s quite a different take, though. Which is good, because I couldn’t top that knew if I went that route.Report

    • Gabriel Conry in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      For me, the only reason not to like The Last Temptation is that all but the last revelation sequence are (for me) kind of boring. I might like to read the book, though.Report

  8. Michael M. says:

    I was the perpetrator rather than the victim of a “reverse spoiler” for the movie Scream, though it wasn’t a spoiler for the way the film ends. Someone spoiled (for me) the fact that Drew Barrymore, who was being billed as the film’s star in all the advertising, dies in the first scene. It kind of pissed me off that this was spoiled because it is a neat trick and not one that filmmakers attempt very often — Hitchcock, I think, was one of the few, with Psycho, but by the time I saw Psycho (which was made before I was born) I was already familiar with the famous shower scene where Janet Leigh meets Mrs. Bates. Anyway, a few friends and I were going to see Scream opening weekend and I was trying to talk another friend into coming with. She wasn’t a fan of horror films but was a fan of Drew Barrymore, so I talked it up by telling her I had heard that Barrymore was great in it. She decided to join us and I at least got the vicarious thrill of being surprised by the supposed star of the movie getting killed 10 minutes into its run time through her reaction. Luckily, she enjoyed the film anyway. Wes Craven was smart enough to have a really appealing cast doing excellent work, which helped make up for Barrymore’s early exit.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Michael M. says:

      One of my favorite brainless action movies is Executive Decision, in large part because Steven Segal (who got a top billing) died early. I didn’t know that bit before I went in, but I was told that it deviated from the formula (that Segal and Kurt Russell were not going to bridge their difference and part friends or with that typical grudging respect for their differing ways of doing things).Report

  9. j r says:

    I once watched the first half of Waterworld before losing interest and falling asleep. The next day a friend told me that I’d fallen asleep before the best part, so I put it back on and watched the rest expecting something particularly exciting to happen. And it wasn’t till the movie was over and saw him snickering that I realized that I’d been had.

    Although technically, I had fallen asleep before the best part: the end.Report

  10. Guy says:

    Before I started reading Homestuck, I read about it on tvtropes. My resulting impression was absolutely nonsensical, and my reading all the “spoilers” wound up spoiling very little.Report

  11. dragonfrog says:

    If you read the novel Wicked, you could say that anti-spoilered the ending of the musical. I’m not sure if that counts though, as the musical spoiled its own ending by making it a ludicrous an un-fitting happy one.Report

  12. Kazzy says:

    Quasi related, I always wondered how cool it would have been if the original “Jurassic Park” had simply billed itself as a family movie about a dinosaur theme park and then BLAMMO! dino attack. That’d have been awesome. At least until the secret got out.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

      Since it’s based on a book, the secret would have gotten out pretty fast.


      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        But how much of the target audience for the film do you think read the book? I mean, they were targeting teenage boys, right? At least, that is what I thought. I didn’t even know it was a book. Then again, I was 9 when it came out and (sadly) had to wait until it was on VHS to watch it.

        When “Independence Day” came out, I remember thinking, “No way I’m missing this in theaters!” And as I sat through the previews, I was proud of myself for making it happen. Then I realized ID4 couldn’t hold a candle to JP (especially for someone who grew up loving dinosaurs) and felt much the fool.Report

      • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

        They could have marketed Jaws as a summer beach and bikini romp…..then blammo!!!Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        I just think in JP it wouldn’t’ve worked.

        But it’s a digital, CGI, fix-it-in-post-production world now, so I say we take the basic idea and run with it, in even more stealthy campaigns than were possible then.

        Like, you turn on Downton Abbey, and BLAMMO! – dinosaur attack.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        Certainly, @glyph . This is what I thought as a 10-year-old. If I wasted the one fool-proof plan I had in life at that age on this idea… well, ugh…Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

        How awesome should Cowboys vs. Aliens have been?Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

        I was 9 when it came out and (sadly) had to wait until it was on VHS to watch it.

        Wait, Kazzy remembers VHS! He actually remembers something from our generation! It’s a red letter day, and for once I don’t hate Kazzy’s youth with the heat of ten thousand hells. 😉Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        @kazzy @glyph Did you guys ever see the trailers for Red Eye? Seriously, check it out.

        And an extended trailer here.

        Seriously, if you’ve not seen it,.check it out.Report

      • Michael M. in reply to Glyph says:

        @kazzy I got depressed about the book publishing business when I looked up the sales figures for Jurassic Park at a time after the movie had been released. Suffice it to say that the numbers were underwhelming, despite it being one of the blockbuster novels of the 1990s.

        @greginak Jaws was the first novel I read that featured sex scenes. I think my parents might have dissuaded me from picking it up had they realized that Spielberg had made a PG-13 film version of an R-rated novel.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

        JP the book was a huge bestseller and pretty much everyone in the world knew the premise. It would have been like pretending that Jaws was a family comedy set in a quaint fishing town.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        @mike-schilling @michael-m

        Again, I think the movie targeted a different demo than the book did. Crichton didn’t write for teenage boys. But the movie seemed geared toward them.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


        Dude, I remember going to a non-Blockbuster video store! That had those weird saloon-swinging doors that separated the “adult section”! WHAT’D YOU GUYS DO BACK THERE?!?!Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Glyph says:


        When I was in college, I attempted to leave the adult section of the video store when I saw the mayor of my town and his wife in the main section. So I had to wait for them to leave. The best part is that she was a teacher of mine in middle school.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Glyph says:

        @will-truman Well, yeah, that looks like the trailer sort of gives the twist away. But didn’t they kind of have to do that? You’re just not going to buy that Wes Craven directed a date movie, and you’re not going to make a Wes Craven movie without publicizing that Wes Craven is the director. And if you sell the movie as a romance or a rom-com, and then it turns into a thriller, you’re going to neither attract the sort of audience that wants to see the actual movie and the audience you do attract is going to feel ripped off.

        Is the movie enjoyable? Or have you even actually seen it?

        On an unrelated note, aren’t both Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams are British? How odd that they’d both have to do American accents.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

        “Crichton didn’t write for teenage boys.”

        When your heroes are paleontologists that battle dinosaurs, historians that battle medieval knights, and a computer programer that battles an evil ex-girlfriend, you are definitely writing for teenage boys.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @burt-likko – if someone named “Cillian Murphy” isn’t Irish, I’ll eat my hat.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

        “Crichton didn’t write for teenage boys.”

        I’ve read lots of Crichton’s books but not a single one after my twentieth birthday. So…Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Glyph says:


        Murphy is Irish and McAdams is Canadian, eh?Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Glyph says:

        Yes, I looked into it and @scarletnumbers is correct. So the American accent is not a big deal for the lovely Ms. McAdams.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

      I see Greg got there first.

      Ummm, Titanic as a rom-com set on a luxury cruise ship.Report

  13. Burt Likko says:

    FWIW, I still haven’t played Mass Effect because I’m told it ends badly. There was so much stink about how it ends badly that I wound up reading criticism of the ending itself and it only half made sense since I never played it at all, but I was really reminded of the climax of Foundation’s Edge in the description of the last sequence that got everyone so very very upset.Report

  14. Brandon Berg says:

    I don’t know if they still do it, because I no longer have a cable subscription and just use Hulu and Netflix, but back in the early 2000s, it was common for some TV shows to have next episode trailers that appeared to have major spoilers, but were actually just red herrings.Report

    • Damon in reply to Brandon Berg says:


      That’s why I stopped paying attention to that crap. When you see the trailer and then the show and realize they cobbled together sound/video that didn’t even go together….reality tv did that a lot too…still do…Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Damon says:

        I thought it was some first-rate trolling. Every time I’d think, “Whoa! Spoilers. Not cool,” and then a week later, “They sure got me! Well played, Fox. Well played.”Report

  15. Mike Schilling says:

    When I was on college, I bought The Who By Numbers, which is mostly very dark songs about Pete Townshend being near-suicidally depressed. Sample lyric:

    But however much I booze
    There ain’t no way out

    I noticed it had a song on it called Squeeze Box and thought it was interesting that it had the same name as that awful polka-ish “Momma’s got a squeeze box” thing I’d heard on the radio.


  16. DensityDuck says:

    The movie “Serenity” wasn’t so much wrong-spoiled for me as it was incompletely spoiled.Report

  17. Hoosegow Flask says:

    At an old job, someone had the ending to Armageddon spoiled (big loss, I know) and “Oehpr Jvyyvf qvrf va gur raq” became a running gag around the shop when discussing movies. When Sixth Sense came out, I hadn’t seen it yet, but people at work were talking about it and someone said the typical “Oehpr Jvyyvf qvrf va gur raq” and my boss said “ab, ur qvrf va gur ortvaavat”. At first I thought it was joking, but the look on his face told me otherwise. Given the ample promotion at the time, I was instantly able to figure out the movie’s twist. I didn’t let on that he had just ruined the surprise for me.

    (They’re old movies, but I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on spoilers.)Report

  18. ScarletNumbers says:

    I am posting this here only because last week’s Linky Thursday is closed, but the grandfather from Gilmore Girls died yesterday.

    He was also the voice of FDR in the most recent Ken Burns documentary.Report