A cliffhanger is a plot device, in fiction, which features a main character who is faced with a difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. It is used to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the conflict.
A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma. The phrase is believed to come from the end-of-episode situation in adventure silent films of the early 1900s days, with the protagonist literally left hanging from the edge of a cliff, although the oldest usage the Oxford English Dictionary has is from 1937. Some serials end with the caveat "To Be Continued..." or "The End?" In television series, the following episode sometimes begins with a recap sequence. The idea of ending a tale at a point where the audience is left in suspense as to its conclusion (which, in most cases, is then given at another time) may have been a staple part of storytelling for almost as long as the idea of stories has existed.
Contributions by Ungvichian, Philip Stevens, and 126.96.36.199.