6 Game-Changing Bits of Foreshadowing in Famous TV Shows


The shocking plot twist is a staple of TV fiction, especially in an era in which shows are competing for our attention with stuff like games, social media, and massive, massive amounts of free porn. The people who write non-naked characters have to keep us on our toes -- but, at the same time, they can't help dropping hints about their upcoming revelations when they know you're not paying attention. Probably because you're looking at porn.

Here are the game-changers you totally should have seen coming.

Breaking Bad -- One Song Gives Away the Entire Ending

Walt in the rearview mirror

The Twist:

The best part about Breaking Bad was that you never knew what the hell was going to happen next -- the show kept us constantly wondering, "How is that wacky Walter White gonna get out of this one?" By the time we reached the final episode (and that's your cue to scroll down to the next entry if you haven't seen it), Walter is on the lam for meth dealing, but he decides to return to New Mexico anyway to tie up loose ends. This includes setting up a drug-money trust for his son, saying goodbye to his wife, and gunning down some neo-Nazis in a meth lab.

Struck by a stray bullet, Walt takes one last nostalgic stroll around the meth lab before dropping dead. Man, who could have seen all of that coming?

Walter White's Death
Calling it "thematically inevitable" doesn't count as predicting it, Dan.

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

You, if you'd paid attention. Because the entire plot is revealed at the beginning of the episode. In the opening scene, while Walt is searching the glove compartment of the car he stole to go back to New Mexico, a cassette tape falls out: "El Paso," by Marty Robbins.

Marty Robbins Smiling in a car

Walt pops it into the tape deck and drives off, and check out what the lyrics are predicting for him:

I saddled up and away I did go, riding alone in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow, a bullet may find me.
Tonight nothing's worse than this pain in my heart.

Well, that doesn't bode well, but when you look at the story told by the rest of the lyrics, it gets downright spooky:

A cowboy falls for a girl named Felina -- which happens to be the title of the episode -- and, stealing a horse, flees town to New Mexico after he kills a man who threatens their relationship. Later, the outlaw returns, explaining, "My love is stronger than my fear of death," and during a shootout he is struck by a stray bullet. The cowboy dies in the arms of Felina, his true love. Just like Walt died accompanied by his true love: no, not his wife or his family. Meth.

Arrested Development -- The Company Mole Is Revealed in a Throwaway Joke

Annyong spying on the Bluths

The Twist:

If you're not a fan of Arrested Development and can't understand why the Internet won't shut up about it, the following might clue you in. In short, the show was a complex, rapid-fire succession of hidden background references, call-backs, and in-jokes that are easy to miss even on the 10th viewing. The first time you catch one of them, you feel like you're in the club with the cool kids. Like the ridiculous plot twist below that, in reality, the show spent more than a year setting up.

At the end of Season 3, in what would have been the series finale had those impertinent upstarts at Netflix not meddled with the wishes of the gods of television, it's revealed that the person responsible for most of the Bluth family's misfortunes is a minor throwaway character who'd only been in a few scenes -- the family's adopted child from Korea, whom they ignorantly call Annyong (since that's the Korean word for "hello," the first thing they heard him say).

In the big twist, it's revealed that the kid had been a mole for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is investigating the Bluth Company for fraud. Even more shockingly, it also turns out the Bluths have been more right about Annyong's name than we thought: He's actually called "Hel-loh," which is Korean for "One Day," and he says he's been plotting vengeance against the Bluth family from the beginning for stealing his real family's idea of opening a stand to sell frozen bananas.

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

We know he's telling the truth about the "from the beginning" part because, more than a year earlier in the Season 2 episode "Afternoon Delight," Michael Bluth finds the family banana stand has been vandalized. Did you notice what the graffiti said?

Bluth Banana Stand

It appears to read "I'll get u Bluth," and underneath that, you can just make out the word "Hello." Or, you know, "Annyong." On the same episode, it's also mentioned that Lucille sent Annyong/Hel-loh to boarding school to teach him a lesson, though she can't remember what, so we know he had a reason to be pissed off. They might as well have written "mole" across his che-

Annyong Arrested Development

... oh. That's from even earlier in Season 2, by the way. So, yeah, in retrospect that was kind of obvious.

Thanks for once again making us feel dumb while entertaining us, Arrested Development.

The X-Files -- A Crazy Person Tries to Warn Scully About Her Cancer


The Twist:

Late in its fourth season, The X-Files' usual "will they/won't they/OH CRAP ALIENS!" dynamic gets abruptly interrupted by a harsh dose of reality when Agent Dana Scully finds out she has brain cancer. Of course, it later turns out the government gave her that cancer for some reason, and she gets cured through a magic chip implant, but for a while there, her struggle with the disease was a driving force for the plot of the series -- so much so that there are now dozens of fan-made music videos on YouTube dedicated to "Scully's cancer," as if it were a character in the Twilight movies or something.

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

Scully could have avoided all of that, if only she had let a crazy person jam a screwdriver into her forehead.

Perhaps we should explain: Months earlier, on the second episode of Season 4, Scully wakes up strapped to a dentist's chair, having been kidnapped by a nutjob named Gerry Schnauz, who keeps abducting women and giving them shoddy lobotomies. He explains that he does it to remove what he calls "howlers" in people's brains that make them act crazy, because crazy people are clearly something this guy just won't tolerate.

Gary Schnauz
He made the brain tissue into Schnauzages and ate them.

Unfortunately, according to Schnauz, Scully's got just a dreadful case of the howlers, and helpfully points out exactly where they are. Take a look:

Scully's Howler
"Your partner Mulder has them all over his body, too."
"No, that's syphilis."

Now look at this X-ray of Scully's brain tumor from later in the season -- sure enough, it's right there where Schnauz said the howlers were:

Scully's Cancer
We cropped out her butt to help you focus.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- Willow Comes Out of the Closet a Season Early in an Alternate Universe


Buffy and Willow
Mutant Enemy

The Twist:

For a show that was ostensibly about a teenager who hunts undead monsters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's most memorable moments had to do with boning: Buffy humps her vampire boyfriend and turns him evil, Buffy humps her vampire enemy and turns him good, etc. Of these, the most genuine was probably the plot in Season 4 where Buffy's best friend and budding witch, Willow, has an epiphany that so many other young women experience during that special time known as freshman year of college: she realizes she's gay.

While this was a groundbreaking moment in pop culture history, it was also completely unexpected from the bookish, naïve, I-like-boys Willow from the earlier seasons. Or not, if you had paid any attention.

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

In an episode from the previous season, "The Wish," we get a glimpse of an It's a Wonderful Life-like alternate universe where Buffy never came to Sunnydale and the city is, predictably, filled with vampires, one of which is Willow. When regular-universe Willow gets a load of her vastly different vampelganger, she comments, "I'm so evil and skanky. And I think I'm kinda gay."

Double Willow
Mutant Enemy
Fondling yourself means you're gay? Then we don't know many straight folk.

Buffy assures Willow that vampires don't retain any trace of the human they once were, but Angel starts to correct her, and he's a vampire so he should know. It's an awkward moment that, in hindsight, is a whole lot more awkward than anybody realized, because Willow being gay does indirectly turn out to make her evil -- when her girlfriend gets randomly murdered in Season 6, Willow starts flaying dudes alive and threatening to destroy the world.

The only thing that's missing is the "skanky" part, but presumably she would have gotten there if her friends hadn't turned her good again.

How I Met Your Mother -- The "Shocking" Death Was Spoiled Two Seasons Earlier

How I Met Your Mother gang in Minnesota

The Twist:

In the Season 6 episode "Bad News," the How I Met Your Mother gang spends the entire episode awaiting the arrival of, uh, bad news. We're led to believe that Marshall and Lily, having spent the episode agonizing over their potential infertility, are going to receive the news that they're never going to have children, and in the end Marshall finds out that his swimmers... are just fine. Oh, and also, his dad died. Psyche?

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

...but in this case you really should have known, because this show is constantly showing us the future. In fact, they told us ol' Marvin Eriksen wasn't long for this world more than two years earlier, in the Season 4 episode "The Fight." In it, there's a quick flash-forward to Thanksgiving at the Eriksen family home, set three to five years in the future. But look around the table. Who's missing?

How I Met Your Mother Thanksgiving

Uh oh. Where's Marvin? He's not seen, heard, or mentioned. Marshall addresses his mother, but notably not his father. It's easy enough to miss, because the focus of that scene is Marshall carving the turkey with a sweet-ass lightsaber that damn well better show up by next year or we're suing the crap out of CBS.

Marshall carving a turkey with a lightsaber
In a tragic flash-forward, it decapitates the mother.

The revelation becomes even more obvious once you consider one thing: Even if Marvin was sitting at the other end of the table or went to the bathroom at that moment, why is Marshall the one carving the turkey? Isn't that a duty typically reserved for the male head of the household? Does Marvin Eriksen seem like a man who would pass up the opportunity to pull rank over decimating a bird corpse with a laser sword?

Mad Men -- A Suicide Is Telegraphed for an Entire Season

Mad Men Office

The Twist:

Spoilers for a Mad Men episode from a year ago (or 46 years ago, depending on how you're counting): Near the end of Season 5, the "Pryce" in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is suddenly dropped as a partner in the ad agency, and then he hangs himself in his office. Lane Pryce had been depressed for a while due to legal, financial, and "having a terrifying dad" problems, and after being caught embezzling money from the company, he finally decides to end it all. OK, so that's some pretty heavy shit, but nobody could have predicted that things would end so tragically for Lane, right?

... right?

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

The guy was always a little morbid: Two seasons earlier, Lane mentions to Don that he's been reading Mark Twain and feels like he just witnessed his own funeral and didn't like the eulogy. This is a guy he just met, by the way. Then in the first episode of Season 5, Lane jokes on the telephone in his office, "I'll be here for the rest of my life!" Presumably not knowing that he literally would be.

In a different episode, Peter Campbell comments that their company's life insurance policy pays out even in the event of suicide. We're gonna go ahead and guess Lane noticed that too. Then we have a bunch of visual omens (collected by Vulture in this neat compilation) that seem innocent on their own, but creepy as hell if you put them together -- like Joan exiting an office with a scarf around her neck and dangling down her back like a noose, then lingering on the door, which places her in a similar position as Lane's corpse.

Lane hanging in Mad Men

And if that's too much of a reach for you, let's take a look at what Don Draper has been sketching on his notepads during this season:

Don Draper drawing a noose

Aaaaaand we're done. We're just done.

Related Reading: We've got more Easter eggs where those came from. That club scene in Black Swan gives away the whole film. Not done? In The Departed, X marks every character who gets iced. Prefer your Easter eggs with a musical twist? Read up, friends.

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