Spoilers That Can/Can't Be Spoiled (given the circumstances)

DestinyCall

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I don't know if there can be any hard and fast rules regarding spoilers, since individual examples could fall into either category depending on circumstances. But if you held a gun to my head and demanded answers, I would say these are my general rules for spoiler-free living:

1) It's okay to talk about a spoiler without spoiler tags or any warning if everyone in the group/conversation/chat room/whatever has already seen the content in question. This seems pretty obvious, but I think it still deserves being said. If you are working under the assumption that everyone already knows, then it isn't a spoiler and deserves no special protection. Just be careful that everyone really IS in the know. Otherwise you could accidentally inform someone who didn't realize you were unaware that they didn't know the thing they didn't know ...

2) If the original spoiler event is over five years old and a well-known part of popular/geek culture, spoiler tags are USUALLY unnecessary. This is where I would place things like certain Disney character deaths, original Star Wars trilogy spoilers, and the ending of classic stories, like Romeo and Juliette. If you've somehow managed to avoid being exposed to a spoiler so far, that's a pretty impressive achievement and you should watch the source material as soon as possible if you care enough to worry about possible spoilers. Basically, most people already know or wouldn't care if you did "spoil" it.

There are exceptions to this rule - like if you know your friend has never seen the original Star Wars trilogy, but he's planning to watch it this Saturday ... and you can't resist saying the classic line and giggling like a mad man. I mean, come on, man. That's cold.

3) If you are in a mixed group of people who may or may not have seen the source material and the spoiler is relatively "fresh", you should definitely provide a spoiler warning before leaking important bits of information. The more significant the spoiler, generally the longer it should be protected from casual conversation to avoid accidentally exposing an unaware person.

For example, I would generally not talk about significant events happening in the current season of a tv show without checking to make sure everyone around me is already watching or doesn't care about spoilers. But I wouldn't worry as much about letting Season Two spoilers slip if the tv series is in its fourth or fifth season. Because I assume that most people who would care about those spoilers would have already seen the previous seasons and if they are two years behind on the show, they are already putting themselves at significant spoiler-risk.

Technically anything could be a spoiler, no matter how old. If you've never seen the movie or read the book, anything someone tells you could potentially ruin it by giving you information you were not suppose to know yet. But at the same time, the rest of the world shouldn't have to hold its tongue and never speak of certain things lest there still be one person out there who hasn't gotten around to watching the first season of Lost.
 
Apr 5, 2008
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I generally don't mind spoilers and often actively seek out as much information as I can, be it rumour, hearsay, speculation or otherwise. I also hate cliffhangers and waiting to find out what happens next. It's a compulsion that means I can often watch a show or read a trilogy very quickly. I'd prefer not to know the endings to things but for the most part, I think stories are all about the journey; the destination isn't that relevant. It's why I can re-watch films, shows and enjoy games and books I've already experienced.

IMO, if an element is the basis for a story, I don't really consider it a spoiler. For example, The Avengers film is a movie about a group of heroes (name heroes here) that are brought together to fight Loki. This is established by the movie poster and within the first few minutes of the film. Discussing the nature of the threat or how the film ends however would be a spoiler.

One issue with such things is that we don't live in a vacuum. It's not possible to entirely avoid the real world and other people discussing shows, books, films and popular culture. As an example, Smallville was a story about a young Clark Kent. We know from outside the show that CK grows up to be Superman, that there is another season of the show commissioned and that CK is the main character. As such, any attempts to threaten CK's life are mostly pointless since we know that he can't die. Same with shows like 24, Dexter and the like where we know that the main character can't be killed off.

And lastly, as the above poster said, once something's been around for a while I think the "Best Before" date on spoilers expires. If someone moaned about the One Ring getting destroyed at the end of RotK I'd ***** slap them upside the head for not having a read a literary masterpiece.
 

Folksoul

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End of plot/ major twists spoilers for a game/movie/book that was just released? Ya, I could see people getting upset about that. Spoilers about the first installment of a series that has sequels or an older story whose twist is the most commonly known thing about it? Screw them! Aeris dies. Shiek is Zelda. Rosebud was Kane's sled. Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker. Snape kills Dumbledore. Saren was controlled by his ship ,a reaper, the entire time.

I knew all of these twists and which stories they came from before experiencing them. The Harry Potter one was because someone flipped to the end of the book and started yelling spoilers at the midnight release. It almost heightened the experience because I was now reading with dread and his death carried a bit more weight, but maybe that's just me.

My general rule of thumb is, if a major pop-cultural piece of media is released with a lot of pomp and hype ex. Final FantasyXV+, Half-life/Portal 3(maybe... someday), Persona 5, Elder Scrolls VI+, a new Harry Potter book, or a smash success blockbuster movie/book etc. You have 6 months until I stop caring about spoiling people.

If a story in question has direct sequels, that have already been released, and I'm not allowed to talk about my preferred installment because the premise of the sequel will at least indirectly spoil how Vol.1 ends or "I stopped half way through, haven't touched it in three years but don't tell me what happened in case I change my mind." (I have a friend who does this.)Bite me.

One caveat. If you are showing something to a younger/poorer/disabled/sheltered person who had no way of experiencing it. No spoilers ever unless asked. That's picking on them for circumstances they cannot control. Fair is Fair.
 

DrOswald

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CelestDaer said:
I was talking to someone in my science class... debating Final Fantasy games (this was high school, 8 had just come out), and I suddenly said, "I still don't get why they killed Aeris," or something to that effect, and the classmate on my other side went, "HEY! Spoilers!" and I just had to turn and look at him. "If you didn't already know that happened, in a game that's been out a year... I can't help you."
A 1 year old game is really not that old, especially considering how long video games like that take to play and how much they cost. 1 year is way too short a time to act indignant when someone calls you out on spoiling something. I don't get most games until at least a year after they release, and I know the same is true of many gamers. They cost way too much to buy all new.

Basically, 1 year is way to short a time for big and important spoilers in a medium like video games which take significant investments of time and money to experience.
 

Kenbo Slice

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Jun 7, 2010
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Darth Vader being Luke's father. That isn't even a spoiler anymore, it's so embedded in pop-culture that people who haven't seen Star Wars should know that.
 

DirgeNovak

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Jul 23, 2008
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To me, it's okay to spoil a story when its latest version is more than a year old.
What this means is it was okay to spoil Ned's death in Game of Thrones in 2009 because the TV series didn't exist yet and the book was thirteen years old. It is also okay to spoil it now because that episode aired a pretty long time ago and you should have watched it already if you're interested in Game of Thrones. But it was a dick move to spoil it during the course of season 1 or until around the end of season 2.
 

Zombie Izzard

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Kakulukia said:
To me, it's okay to spoil a story when its latest version is more than a year old.
What this means is it was okay to spoil Ned's death in Game of Thrones in 2009 because the TV series didn't exist yet and the book was thirteen years old. It is also okay to spoil it now because that episode aired a pretty long time ago and you should have watched it already if you're interested in Game of Thrones. But it was a dick move to spoil it during the course of season 1 or until around the end of season 2.
Ned died? Noooo. Next you'll be telling me Rob Stark is also dead.
I think it all depends on how long the thing in question has been out. But personally spoilers don't bother me even if the thing is new. If it's something I care about like say a game I usually avoid anything that might spoil it.
 

DirgeNovak

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Jul 23, 2008
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Zombie Izzard said:
Ned died? Noooo. Next you'll be telling me Rob Stark is also dead.
No, I won't be telling you Robb died, because his death happened less than one year ago.
Oh wait.
 

Yopaz

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Jun 3, 2009
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I hate spoilers myself, but that's why I actively stay away from discussions about games I really want to play. I want to go in blind, I don't want to know the name of the characters before I encounter them and I don't want to know who's the coolest of them.

Now to spoil a huge part of Fight Club for those who haven't watched it. There's a club and people fight. The club is called fight Club.

I remember getting the ending of Arkham City spoiled before the game was out on PC which was annoying as hell. I spent the entire game hoping it was just a dick shouting out things like "Harry dies at the end of the 7th book" without having read any of the books in the series. Sadly it was true and what would have been a good ending was lost on me.
 

Nigh Invulnerable

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Spoilers can be tricky, but general opinion is that if the work in question was successful enough to part of mainstream culture, required reading for a class, etc. and is over 5 years old, I am free to make reference to whatever plot elements I want.
 

Oly J

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okay, seriously, spoilers are spoilers,anything less obvious than "Titanic sinks" should be treated with care, mind you this bothers me particularly because I quite often have things spoiled, many times I've begged a friend not to spoil things for me and the response I get is "ok I won't spoil it but I will just say" and the resultant small amount of information is normally enough to make a major spoiler pretty damn obvious, like "pay attention to this because it'll end up being important" or "look out for that" seriously if someone doesn't want something spoiled tell them NOTHING! you're probably not being as ambiguous as you think you are, any amount of information no matter how small is a spoiler, and I can only speak for myself but the small bits of information are normally enough to figure out the larger ones ahead of time.

as for when it becomes okay, I don't know, I don't really want to see Ender's game, despite not having read the book, because I know the, by now quite famous, twist ending, and that's basically removed any interest I had in seeing it, so I don't believe there should be a time limit on spoilers
 

FoolKiller

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Aris Khandr said:
My rule is "Wait two years for any spoilers, unless it is history." It isn't a spoiler to point out that the Titanic sinks. Or that Germany loses WW2. If you don't know these things, there's no helping you. It might be considered a spoiler to point out that Pompey dies in Egypt during the civil war that followed the collapse of the First Triumvirate. That's not the sort of thing that most people should know off the top of their heads. But I firmly stand by the belief that you can't spoil history.
Those aren't spoilers. Those are historic facts.

Anyways, I feel that forever is the correct time for everything. I have a backlog of over 100 RPGs in my gaming collection. It will take some time for me to go through those and I would be pissed about it being spoiled. And frankly, I try not to spoil anything for others. I have a friend who deliberately does. I've punched him for it. He learned.

And think about it this way. What about someone who was born in 1995. Shouldn't they get to enjoy the experience even if they weren't around during the original release of something like the original Star Wars trilogy?
 

FPLOON

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Wow. I really appreciate all of the different viewpoints in terms of spoilers in general... I realized in my OP that I forgot to explain my reasoning for not caring about spoilers in general, since it's kind of the reason why I started this thread in the first place...

Now, in terms of spoilers ruining the experience of watching or reading something first-hand, that's not something I truly see, given that anything can be a spoil and for someone to truly stay away from ALL spoilers, you can't because all you'll end up spoiling is the inevitable boredom of total isolation... You kinda have to be spoiled in order to enjoy stuff a lot better... If a simple spoiler ruins your experience, then I don't think you would have enjoyed it reading or watching that experience again from the beginning because you weren't spoiled...

You see, whenever I get a book, a show, a movie spoiled for me, then I go back to the simple question of "would I have enjoyed revisiting this piece of entertainment again"... If I can't, then it wasn't worth my time, but if I can, then I enjoy it even more knowing that no matter what I know going in, I will still enjoy myself... probably to the point that I either want to buy it myself or glad that I did buy it... I get how not everyone can have that mindset when they're spoiled of something that they legitimately didn't want to be spoiled in the first place, but think of spoils like this: Most spoilers are just statements, unless told in details. If the statement has details, then it's truly a spoiler, however if it's a just a simple "X kills Y" without any other details thrown in there, then it's not fully a spoil because you don't know how that does play out through the grand scheme of things. Plus, you can assume that the "spoiler" is a "blatant" lie until you see it for yourself... (That's what I used to do before I stopped caring about spoilers all together...)

Now, in terms of historical facts placed in fictional works, as a few people pointed out beforehand, I don't see it as a spoiler if it "spoils" the beginning or the ending, because it's the journey between that that is the spoiler. Yes, "everyone" knows about that particular war in that point in time in our entire history, but the story of that one real-life person that not that many people know about living through this historical period is not a spoiler unless you count his or her journey through this point in time. The beginning and the ending are probably more obvious than spoiler-ish, but everything in-between is the "actual" spoiler... Now that I think about it, there's basically no such thing as a "hysterical spoiler", per se, because history is real-life, it's not fictional, and you're a part of it... If you feel that learning about history, in any way, is a "spoiler", then I see where you stand in life... (Is the spoiler for that have anything to do with "Carpe diem"? Just curious...)

Yes, "everything" is considered a spoiler when you really think about it. However, there will come a time where you would know said spoiler one way or another and the question that would most likely pop up in your mind would be "would I enjoy reading or watching this again"... If the answer is "yes", then it wouldn't matter if you were spoiled or not because you were going to enjoy it regardless and would want to experience it again with the knowledge you know now going back in... If the answer is "no", then (again) it wouldn't have made that big of a difference because you were not going to invest more time re-watching or re-reading it anyway... I still understand the implications of a spoiler ruining the overall experience, but if you think about it, you would realize if there was a point wanting to invest more time into either going into this particular series or movie or continuing through the series, knowing you might not enjoy it either way...


Spoilers are a still a "double-edge sword", though, depending on how you see then and how you're willing to handle them... I see no point hiding from spoilers, however despite everything I've just said, I don't actively seek out spoilers... If given the choice of hearing someone telling me a spoiler or not, I would want to hear the spoiler just to bring my excitement up from whatever it is I'm being spoiled about... Even when experiencing it first-hand, I'm still surprised regardless because I've allowed myself to become invested it it without thinking too much of it, and if you can do that then spoilers become pointless to you... They do not become some crutch to your enjoyment and, since it would sometimes feel like watching or reading something for the second time, they could enhance your enjoyment, especially when you do want to revisit it again...
 

FalloutJack

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Nov 20, 2008
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Well, I have the uncanny ability to forget spoilers even if people tell me. Things I don't want to think about get stored away and I 'forget' about them, at least until their relevant and I go "Oh yeah, I was told about that.".

Now, for Day of the Doctor...it was on the BBC before the theater release in 12D 3D that I wanted to see, but I didn't want to know stuff ahead of time, not even risk it. Why? Well, let's see. It's the longest-running science fiction show in the world reaching it's 50th anniversary special, and I've been watching it since I was a child. Could it be that I wanted to come into it uninformed so that I can absorb the story naturally for fun's sake? Oh yes, indeed. And was I disappointed? Not in the slightest.
 

Guffe

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I don't mind spoilers.
I often watch reviews about movies or games even if they're spoiler tagged.
Example: I watched MovieBobs Thor review (hell all marvel movie reviews) before I saw the actuall movie.

For me, even knowing something beforehand doesn't really change anything, seeing it or playing it is still the main thing. For me when I hear about "Darth Vader is Lukes father", it means I know it, but I don't know how they reveal it.

So I guess more in depth, this means if someone throws a "general spoiler" and sais how a movie/game will end, then it doesn't really bother me. Telling me in detail how it happens, that, I will call a spoiler.
 

Tallim

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FalloutJack said:
Well, I have the uncanny ability to forget spoilers even if people tell me. Things I don't want to think about get stored away and I 'forget' about them, at least until their relevant and I go "Oh yeah, I was told about that.".

Now, for Day of the Doctor...it was on the BBC before the theater release in 12D 3D that I wanted to see, but I didn't want to know stuff ahead of time, not even risk it. Why? Well, let's see. It's the longest-running science fiction show in the world reaching it's 50th anniversary special, and I've been watching it since I was a child. Could it be that I wanted to come into it uninformed so that I can absorb the story naturally for fun's sake? Oh yes, indeed. And was I disappointed? Not in the slightest.
I'm the opposite. I never forget :(

I also can't switch off the little bit of my mind that tries to work out what is happening in a plot and so even minor spoilers can be enough to completely ruin a plot for me as once I finally watch/play the media in question I will connect the tiny spoiler with events and normally work out any big twists etc :/

All of my friends know my policy of spoilers now and they all respect that I simply do not want to know anything *if* I intend to watch/play/read it.

However if I'm not actually that fussed about something then I'm ok with spoilers. My circle of friends do like to discuss media at length and so sometimes they do need to refer to these events.
 

Vladimir Stamenov

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Spoilers don't really matter. Despite what most people on the Internet think, most normal people don't object to spoilers that much. http://io9.com/5302376/why-we-love-spoilers
For me, they don't matter. I knew the ending of Cowboy Bebop and still cried for example, again with Bioshock Infinite.
And if something really is SPOILED after you know of a certain event, then it didn't have much intrinsic value anyways. Like the Witcher book series, I spoiled myself and found out who the Emperor of Nilfgaard really was. But although I felt shitty, it's just that it's badly done. so it was bad even knowing the spoiler unlike, again, Cowboy Bebop.

TL;DR - The important is not the WHAT, but the HOW. With some exceptions of course, when the what and the how are really tightly knit and brilliant and knowing beforehand just ruins it e.g. the ending of Code Geass.
 

Queen Michael

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Kakulukia said:
To me, it's okay to spoil a story when its latest version is more than a year old.
What this means is it was okay to spoil SPOILER in Game of Thrones in 2009 because the TV series didn't exist yet and the book was thirteen years old. It is also okay to spoil it now because that episode aired a pretty long time ago and you should have watched it already if you're interested in Game of Thrones. But it was a dick move to spoil it during the course of season 1 or until around the end of season 2.
Okay, I don't mind getting that spoiled because I don't watch game of Thrones and have no plans to ever do it. But you've got to understand that there are lots and lots of ways a person might be unable to get that far before now.
Maybe their mom didn't allow them to watch it until they were old enough.
Maybe they didn't think it would be any good, but loved the first episode when their friends forced them to watch it.
Maybe they didn't have the time to follow a long series until now.
And in all these instances, a spoiler will ruin the experience.
 

Auberon

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I'm immune to obvious spoilers from narrative conventions, such as the ring being destroyed - Tolkien didn't set out to change traditions THAT much. Same deal with Voldemort.

Other than that, well-known "spoilers" are sort of redundant. You were Revan? Spoiled in the tutorial and back of the box of (KOTOR 2). Aerith dies? Whole FF7-franchise is sort of fixed on that, how could you not know that today.