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Living on the Edge Take a look back at some of our fave jaw-dropping, what-happens-next cliffhangers. BY NATE MILLADO
I T WAS THE SHOT HEARD ’ROUND the world. CBS primetime soap Dallas capped its third season on March 21, 1980, with a bang: Oily oil baron J.R. Ewing, once described by The New York Times as “the nastiest man on television,” was shot twice before collaps- ing to the ground. Everyone was a suspect! And everyone was obsessed—including England’s Queen Mother herself—over “Who shot J.R.?” After an excruciating eight-month wait, a whopping 83 mil- lion viewers tuned in to see who pulled the trigger. (Spoiler alert: It was J.R.’s former mistress and sister-in-law, Kristin Shepard.) Over the next four decades, TV shows have upped the ante with their own cliffhangers, keeping viewers on the hook over a summer—sometimes over a year!
13 SERIAL KILLERS ESCAPE! “The Storm” (Aired May 4, 2016) After thwarting a prison break and a bomb threat, the Criminal Minds team kicks back with family and friends to celebrate. But the revelry is short-lived: BAU gets word of other prison breaks, and that 13 serial killers they put behind bars are now on the loose, including “Mr. Scratch.” JANE’S DEAD HUSBAND IS ALIVE! “Chapter Eighty-One” (Aired April 4, 2018) Only a telenovela-inspired series can pull off a twist like this : Jane the Virgin heads to her baby daddy
KIMBERLY BLOWS UP THE COMPLEX! “The Big Bang Theory” (Aired May 22, 1995) Melrose Place leveled up to “guilty pleasure” status with the Season 3 finale. Once a respected doc, Kimberly Shaw had an affair with married Michael, “died” in a car crash, then came back from the dead all crazy- pants! The revenge-minded redhead set out to blow Melrose Place to bits. PICARD BECOMES A BORG! “Best of Both Worlds” (Aired June 18, 1990) Star Trek: The Next Gener- ation finally emerged from its predecessor’s shadow with its game-changing
Season 3 finale. The Borg capture and assimilate Captain Picard, whose chilling words, “I am Locutus,” are one-upped by Commander Riker instructing Worf: “Fire!” (Cut to black.) TNG wouldn’t kill Picard … would it? AGENT COOPER GETS SHOT! “The Last Evening” (Aired May 23, 1990) We hadn’t even learned who killed Laura Palmer yet when Twins Peaks thrust us into another mystery. Back at his hotel at the Great Northern, Agent Cooper answers a knock at his door and is shot multiple times by an unknown assailant. We raise a glass (of milk) to you, David Lynch.
Rafael’s apartment expect- ing an engagement—only to be greeted by her presumed dead soulmate, Michael, behind the door. DEXTER FINDS RITA IN A BATHTUB! “The Getaway” (Aired Dec. 13, 2009) Before Dexter offed the Trinity Killer with a hammer in the Season 4 finale, Arthur ominously told him, “It’s already over.” It wasn’t until our serial- killing antihero came home that we realized what his adversary meant: Arthur left Rita to bleed to death in the bathtub with baby Harrison sitting in a pool of her blood. (Yep, it’s the same way Dexter was discovered in his youth.)
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