5 Pop Culture Creations Spoiled by Their Own Creators
It's getting tougher and tougher to avoid spoilers nowadays. Faced with endless blogs, Twitter updates and overzealous talk show hosts, it's easy to have major parts of a movie or TV show ruined before you get to watch it. Hell, it's basically expected -- but what's surprising is when the network, studio or publisher itself is the one doing everything possible to give away the ending of the same thing they're trying to get people to watch. This happens more often than you think, like when ...
CAUTION: Major spoilers ahead, in case that needed to be any clearer.
AMC Gives Away a Major Character Death in The Walking Dead
One of the biggest draws of AMC's apocalyptic zombie drama The Walking Dead is that no one is safe. Any character could die at any moment from causes ranging from "zombie bite" to "hillbilly with a crossbow," to the point where the show might as well be called The Walking De- oh, wait, we see what they did there.
Good one. Now kill Carl, please.
Anyway, there's no better example of that than the next to last episode of Season 2, where a major character bites the dust, and then bites the dust underneath that dust, making the drastic transition from living to undead to just plain dead within the span of a few minutes. Shane, a disgruntled ex-police officer played by Jon Bernthal, attempts to kill his former partner and "best friend," Rick (Andrew Lincoln), for reasons you would know if you'd just give in to your friends and watch the damn show already.
Rick is forced to stab Shane, who even in death continues being a douchebag and goes after his buddy again as a zombie. Finally, Rick's son, Carl, shows up and shoots Zombie Shane with a gun in the one instance in this show where the gross parental neglect actually helped anyone.
"Carl, if you shoot me, I'm going to significantly reduce your allowance!"
Shane was maybe the second most important character on the show -- his death was the equivalent of Jerry being forced to brutally kill Kramer, which is why it was saved for one of the final episodes of the season. As such, it came as a shock to many viewers ... unless, of course, they'd seen the following ad on AMC's site a couple of weeks before:
The screwdriver is for your ears during Lori's scenes.
Before the second season had even ended, AMC started promoting pre-orders for the Blu-ray box set of the same season on their website. Which is great and all, but take a closer look at the extras detailed in the description:
"And don't forget to Wikipedia 'Michonne'!"
Wait a minute, "Shane's last episode"?! That's right: With three episodes still to go before the end of the season, someone at AMC carelessly spoiled the fact that Shane wouldn't make it to the next one.
Now, it's true that Shane also died in the comic series the show is based on, but they'd already deviated from the story by making him survive way longer than he did there, so as far as fans knew, he could have stayed alive for the entire duration of the show. Obviously, the auto-spoiler was followed by fan outcry, and AMC even released a statement claiming that the ad was unauthorized and that "the matter is currently under investigation."
NBC Tries Their Hardest to Ruin the Olympics
Look, it's not NBC's fault that the rotation of the Earth means that the day starts in London several hours before it does in America. But NBC's decision to time-delay their broadcast of the 2012 Summer Olympics turned millions of American viewers into that guy at the office who TiVo'd the last episode of Lost and had to spend all day avoiding human contact so that nobody spoiled the ending for him.
"Two dollars is your change, and they were like dead the whole time or something."
And it doesn't help when NBC does the spoiling all by itself.
For example, one of the most anticipated events for U.S. viewers was Michael Phelps' return to the swimming pool. To celebrate Phelps' distinguished career, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams opened the show immediately preceding the race by saying, "And while we try to be sensitive about spoiler alerts for our viewers, Michael Phelps got crushed in the pool today."
"We know you want to be surprised. Sadly, we possess less than half the shits necessary to make that happen."
Then there was the NBC affiliate that warned viewers to mute their TVs if they didn't want to be exposed to any spoilers ... and then showed them this:
"Oh, and if you don't want to see this, look away. Probably should have mentioned that before we told you to mute it."
But the worst example involves 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who went on to win four gold medals in her Olympic debut. Let's say you spend the entire day locked away in a cabin in the middle of the woods with no Internet connection and no phone, just to make sure you avoid all spoilers -- you go through the entire day, then you turn on the TV to watch Missy compete in the women's 100-meter backstroke event. You tune in just in time to catch the presenter announcing that the race is coming up after some ads ...
"Normally I'd fast-forward the commercials, but something tells me I should watch these."
... and the first ad starts with the words "When you're 17 years old and win your first gold medal ..."
"And now we take you to Missy's race, where she came in first and won the first place gold medal!"
Yep, NBC decided to air a Today Show promo featuring Missy's victory right before the competition she went on to win, giving away the ending to one of the most dramatic personal stories the Olympics had to offer. But hey, at least they didn't replace the entire event with Ryan Seacrest's face (that's reserved for more trivial stuff, like tributes to victims of terrorism).
Amazon.com Spoils The Hunger Games in a Billboard Ad
Promoting the last book in a trilogy can be a tricky thing, because you're supposed to build up excitement for existing fans while not spoiling the previous books for everyone else. The moment you announce that the sequel even exists, you're already telling fans that (for instance) the main character didn't die in the last one. But otherwise, you have to keep things vague, because part of the point of doing a sequel is making people go back and buy the original.
"I really wanted to bring the culmination of my artistic vision to life. Also, money."
And then you have what Amazon.com did with the Hunger Games series.
After the massive worldwide success of the first Hunger Games movie, Amazon decided to use Mockingjay (the final installment of the trilogy) as part of their advertisement for their new Kindle e-book reader: They plastered some billboards in Washington, D.C., with the first page of the book, shown within the screen of their big calculator-looking gadget. The problem? That page happens to give away the ending of the previous book, and the shocking twist ending of the upcoming movie, Catching Fire. Here it is:
Thanks to the E Ink display, spoilering has never been so energy-efficient!
For those of you not well-versed in YA literature, Catching Fire ends when the series' protagonist, Katniss, learns that her home "town," District 12, has been bombed to shit, partly because of her actions -- that's the ending twist, the "Luke, I am your father" of the book. Had anyone at Amazon bothered to so much as glance at the page they were about to use in their ads, they probably could have guessed that it was something important. This was either a deliberate ploy to get attention, or an act of supreme laziness.
"There's a lot of books back there ... are we supposed to read all of them before we plaster it on a billboard?"
While Catching Fire was originally published in late 2009 (meaning that fans had three years to catch up on the story), keep in mind that those fans multiplied many times over when the movie based on the first book came out in March of 2012, which was only about a month before this ad went up. Those who decided to watch the movies before reading the books (or just stick to the movies) knew they had to be on the lookout for spoilers, but they probably didn't know this involved "not looking out the window."
Bravo Reveals Its Newest Top Chef Winner a Little Early
Of all the reality TV cooking competitions currently on the air (way more than we ever thought possible), Top Chef was a pioneer of the industry: It was one of the first shows to combine the excitement of watching people cook food with the intrigue of listening to judges critique said food and the privilege of not eating any of that food. As one of Bravo's most popular shows, Top Chef has been causing food boners since 2006.
And occasionally literal ones.
So going into the Season 7 finale, the show's 1.8 million viewers were eager to find out which cook would walk away with the big prize. Would the winner be Kevin Sbraga, the cocksure-yet-courteous New Jerseyite? Would it be Angelo Sosa, the -- OK, fuck it, Kevin won. That was, essentially, how Bravo delivered the information to the show's fans when, hours before the last episode, they posted a spoiler-filled clip on their website that was clearly meant to be had as a dessert, not an appetizer.
The clip is a "reunion" segment with all the participants looking back on the season, but it begins with host Andy Cohen saying, "Before we get into anything, we have to congratulate the winner of Top Chef: D.C., Kevin."
"Just to reiterate, in case the viewers missed it, Kevin Sbraga won the whole shebang. That dude, right there, gray shirt."
"Kevin," the host continues, "how surprised were you when Padma said your name in Singapore?" Probably about as surprised as fans were when they watched that clip expecting a harmless retrospective and got this. The clip then goes on to spoil other particulars from the finale, like Kevin being assisted by previous Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio, or the guy who didn't win being assisted by who gives a shit.
"And here we see *mumble* sucking."
Bravo pulled the video within a few hours, but it was too late: It was soon reposted by other websites, which started announcing the yet-to-be-named winner to foodies everywhere. Many a season finale soiree was ruined that day.
The Trailer for Quarantine Hooks Audiences ... by Showing Them the Ending
Quarantine is a "found footage" horror film in the vein of The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, based on a Spanish movie called REC. The seizure-inducing, Incredible Hulk-tinted trailer made sure you walked away with a whole slew of expectations and an even bigger number of questions. Questions like: What happens to the sister from Dexter and the rest of the helpless people trapped in that building? Are those zombies in there or what? And just what happens after we see Dexter's sister dragged, scratching and screaming, into the darkness in the trailer?
Does Liam Neeson appear and start ruining the zombies' shit?
The answer is: nothing. Nothing happens after we see her dragged, scratching and screaming, into the darkness, because that's the end of the movie. That's the final shot. They literally gave the movie away in the trailer.
Apparently the execs saw the highly successful marketing campaign for Paranormal Activity, where the trailers showed as little as possible from the movie and simply focused on the scared reactions of the audience, and said, "Yes, let's do the opposite of that."
Taken during the new Tyler Perry trailer.
True, those who saw the trailer had no way of knowing they'd just witnessed the very last scene of the movie, but if you think about it, that makes it even worse: You watch the entire movie waiting for that moment to happen, and as you reach what is clearly the climax of the film and the character is trying to escape the monster, you're like, "Oh, wait. I know where this is going."
Also, if you haven't seen Paranormal Activity, try asking a friend how the movie ends: Chances are they'll have a hard time explaining it, partly because there were actually multiple endings, and partly because it's confusing as shit. On the other hand, ask someone how Quarantine ends and all they have to do is point at the poster -- because, yep, they stuck the final scene there, too:
And in the TV spots:
In fact, that's the entire TV spot. So how did this brilliant strategy work out for them? Well, Quarantine made $40 million worldwide, while Paranormal Activity made almost five times that on a similar budget. Plastering the end of the movie everywhere doesn't pay off, it turns out.
When not writing for Cracked, Jacob writes angry letters to his co-workers on his blog.
We aren't finished spoiling shit for you yet -- check out 6 Happy Endings That Accidentally Screwed the Movie's Hero and 6 Horrible Aftermaths Implied by Movies With Happy Endings.