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When Is It Okay To Talk About Spoilers?

If you haven’t seen your friends or family members recently, there’s a good chance that they have been bingewatching House of Cards. Soon though, the steady stream of spoilery articles, tweets, and status updates will be trickling on to the Internet until it floods our newsfeeds. But say you’re like me and you haven’t had a chance to catch up with the Underwoods and their Machiavellian machinations yet. What do you do? Do you abstain from social media? Do you bite the bullet and just accept your fate? These are the burning questions that are causing us to question our etiquette in our increasingly interconnected digital world.


According to a study by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, spoilers don’t actually diminish one’s enjoyment of a story. Rather, they can actually enhance your overall experience. Still, many of us — myself included — are resistant to the notion of having our favorite series spoiled for us against our will. When it’s okay to spoil stuff? Why do we do it? Is it really that bad? Is there a middle ground to be had? Today on The Dan Cave, we’re going to try and figure it out, once and for all,

Please note: If you’re even entertaining the idea of leaving a comment that spoils Game of ThronesHouse of Cards, you name it, then I wish a pox on both your houses.  If you’d like to have a constructive conversation however, feel free to sound off in the comments below or talk to me on Twitter (@osteoferocious).

You know what won’t spoil anything? Buying an official The Dan Cave t-shirt. While you’re at it, why not pre-order a copy of my new book, 100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die? There might be Marvel Universe spoilers inside, but hey, science says that might make you enjoy Marvel’s Phase III even more. The important thing is that the ball is in your court, right?

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  1. ed says:

    Wasn’t there a t-shirt on this: Vader is Luke’s father… Rosebud is a sled… The kid was dead the WHOLE time… etc?
    That said, I think “spoilers” are a way for your friends/relatives/co-workers to lord over you something they’ve seen/read that you haven’t. As such, the onus is ON YOU to not be “spoiled” and then get all pissy about it when that happens. All those people can’t help it if they’ve seen/read stuff BEFORE YOU.(Or those people are just spoilery assholes anyways.) One way to avoid “spoilers”— see or read the damn thing before they do. And if you don’t invest that time to do so: you really can’t blame them.
    True story: after avoiding all pre-release info on The Phantom Menace, I was “spoiled” on Qui-Gon’s death out of all things, the soundtrack album for the film. I was interested in John Williams’ work, and I went into the movie knowing his fate… Damn you, TARGET.

  2. Fin says:

    I’ve always operated on the seasonal philosophy. Once a new season has started, one can’t be upset when the previous season is discussed openly.
    In the case of shows like GoT, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, it could be nearly a year. If you can’t catch up in that time, clearly you don’t have the emotional investment required to justify getting pissy about a spoiler.

  3. John Sheffield says:

    My enjoyment of “The Sixth Sense” was  definitely dampened when someone told me there was a twist at the end.  I always thought he died after the opening scene where he gets shot, and kept wondering what the “twist” might have been

  4. Jon Russo says:

    It’s simple, really… a rule of 2s.

    2 days for television
    2 weeks for film2 months for books

    The exception is that if someone requests no spoilers on something they haven’t seen or read yet, then the time frames become moot.  At that point, it’s just polite to respect that individual’s request for spoiler space.

    • Jon Russo says:

      Oh, an addendum to this…

      If a book is being presented as a TV series or film, then book spoilers are off-limits until such time as the subject matter has passed the spoiler point of said film or TV series.  (ie. Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, etc.)

    • Jon Russo says:

      Oh, and one more exception:
      The Usual Suspects

      At no point is it ever okay to spoil who Kaiser Soze is.  Period.

  5. Chris says:

    You should have to wait at least a week or more before spoilers for tv shows are acceptable. If you watch shows on Hulu it usually takes at least a week before they are available.

    • Chris says:

      Although the general rule, at least for books, video games, and movies is 10 years. After 10 years spoilers are completely expected.

  6. Nick says:

    I got a certain Walking Dead character’s death spoiled for me by playing Trivia Crack the day after the show aired. This is the type of spoilers that are ridiculous and need to be stopped. 

    • Rich says:

      Well Walking dead much like Game Of Thrones has books. All be it Comic books for walking dead which are much further in advance. I am up to date with the comics and i find it enjoyable to see how the writers change the story a bit. Like the fact that Rick still has both hands. Where in the comic he gets his right arm chopped off by the Governor the first 5 minutes into speaking to him. What im trying to say is TWD, and GoT TV show however great they are. Spin off from the comic books. a few core things will remain the same but. They are both going to be kind of playing free with how the characters are.