Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

I hate spoilers.

For things you actually care about, once revealed, you can never unhear or unread or unsee. It’s incredibly frustrating to be working your way through some material only to have someone blather important plot points to you or inadvertently reveal that a certain character dies later on. As such, I’ve always taken to seeing movies opening night or reading books the day they come out because otherwise, I don’t feel like I can freely browse the Internet until I do.

A little extreme, maybe, but it’s dangerous being a Harry Potter fan when there are trolls roaming the webz with “***** KILLS **********!” flashing in their forum signatures. I’ve never attended a midnight book release for Harry Potter for the same reason — drive-by spoilers. Some people have nothing better to do. I actually blocked a few friends temporarily on Facebook and AIM for the week leading up the Deathly Hallows‘ release because I had zero tolerance for the various nonsense and fake spoilers they were spouting. Spoilers are serious business! Who are you to deprive someone of an experience?

What?! He dies? Noooo!!

What?! He dies? Noooo!!

Spoiler warnings should never really expire either. It doesn’t matter how long something has been out. There is someone that hasn’t seen or read it. Most online communities have spoiler policies lasting several weeks or several months after a release, and that works fine for an contained group where it isn’t completely unreasonable to assume that most members have seen or read something. But for the general populace, it’s not good to assume anything. Case in point: Death Note is a huge franchise and many, many anime/manga fans have experienced it in one form or another by now. I watched the dub with several friends when it aired on [adultswim]. At the beginning of episode 25, one friend commented, “Oh, is this the episode where ******* ****?” Without thinking, she just gave away the biggest spoiler in the entire series ’cause she figured everyone already knew, right? Oh, snap, another friend had not followed Death Note prior to the dub’s broadcast. Experience thwarted! And apologies don’t erase that newfound, unwelcomed knowledge.

Especially with stories that are retold in a variety of medias, it’s impossible to guess who has read or seen what based on the fact that they’re a fan of such and such. The last Harry Potter book came out two years ago. Two years is a sufficient spoiler buffer for people who consider themselves fans, right? The book’s already been released in a majority of other languages too, so there’s no using that as an excuse either, right? No. There are still a ton of fans that only follow the movies (the misguided fools! The books are infinitely better, but movie fans are fans all the same), and the sixth movie doesn’t come out until next month. I can already hear the assholes driving by and yelling the popular spoiler at unsuspecting kids at midnight openings. Some people only read books or manga; some people only watch anime or movies. Don’t spoil something for someone by assuming they read and watch the same version of the series you did.

More recently, I was considering anibloggers who use Twitter to tweet briefly and semi-episodically about series they’re currently following, including myself. The tweets usually consist of vague exclamations in reaction to something that’s happening — presumably nothing spoileristic, but is what you think is a spoiler the same as what everyone else thinks is a spoiler? As noted, I’m currently rewatching Gundam Wing and I’m tweeting about it. Most are relatively harmless no matter how you look at them, but some of them, upon further reflection, could probably be taken as spoilers. Incredibly minor spoilers, but spoilers all the same.

The rest of this post contains minor spoilers of varying degree for Death Note, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Code Geass, and Gundam Wing, though as is the topic of discussion, some of them are debatable in their status as spoilers at all.

Are there universal guidelines for what is to be considered a spoiler? For Death Note, anyone who’s seen or read the series in its entirety can pretty much agree on what the one major spoiler is aside from the ending itself. It’s similar for the Half-Blood Prince. Both cases involve a death, but does that mean all deaths should count as spoilers? (Incidentally, is the fact that I’ve revealed that both cases involve deaths a spoiler in itself?)

Lelouch kills Clovis in the third episode of Code Geass. Clovis is an extremely minor character partially because he dies so early, but his death reveals very little to either Lelouch or the audience. Should Clovis’s death count as a spoiler? Honestly, the very premise of the series can imply Clovis’s death at Lelouch’s hands. Of course Clovis isn’t important enough to be mentioned in general summaries, but if you came into the series knowing that Lelouch intends to destroy Britannia, then you can pretty much guess that Clovis will be a target from the moment he’s introduced in the first episode. So if Clovis’s death isn’t a spoiler then, is it because the event takes place so close to the beginning of the series? Though Clovis is a much less important character, is his death like Yusuke’s death at the beginning of Yu Yu Hakusho or Goku’s death at the beginning of Dragonball Z?

But “close to the beginning” is also a tricky line to draw. Episode 8 of Gurren Lagann is highly spoileristic — is 8 of 27 not close enough to the beginning? Or does it count as a spoiler just because you can’t really see it coming like you could have for Clovis? Perhaps that’s what should define a spoiler then, something that you can’t see coming? In one of my GW tweets, I mention that in episode 7, Treize stages a huge coup de’tat . 7 of 49 is a bit better than 8 of 27 in terms of closeness to the beginning, but I can’t decide if the coup de’tat is something that you can “see coming,” especially considering how haphazardly paced the first dozen episodes in the series are. It’s also debatable as to whether the coup de’tat has a lot of lasting significance since the political factions of the series are also so turbulent.

There’s also the idea that spoilers don’t need to be confined to singular events — should character development and personality details be counted as spoilers too? Sure, if something in a character’s past is a big reveal (if you can’t see if coming), then it should count, but what about things like… the fact that Lady Une has a split personality? In the series, there is no “big reveal,” and even though you may not expect it, it isn’t very surprising. But still, should it count? It isn’t obvious until maybe episode 10, but I already can’t remember since I don’t find it to be that big a deal. Then again, if I hadn’t already seen all of GW, I might consider that a spoiler — I’m usually pretty high-strung about this kind of stuff.


Ahh! It’s a spoiler! Run!

There are many degrees of spoilers, and I’m sure that what one person considers a spoiler might not be for someone else. For my paranoid self, I tend to avoid contact with anything discussing a series I’m interested in and haven’t seen yet. If I inadvertently take a look, I’m the master of skimming things quickly and not picking up more than I need, if anything at all. You can’t be too careful, after all. You only need to be spoiled once.

Note: You can use spoiler tags in the comments with <spoiler></spoiler>. Just kidding! o_O Beware spoilers in the comments! Woo!

(And for the record, this post is actually about 1200 words long. Darn.)

Theoretically Similar Posts:


  1. Ravi on June 25, 2009 10:30 pm

    It’s a tricky line to draw, though. You have to balance the needs of the fans that are keeping up with a series, with those that aren’t. Spoilers suck, but part of the reason they suck is that they’re always major events in the series. How long do you want to tell people that they can’t even talk about so-and-so killing what’s-his-name in their favorite show, in order to protect the people that haven’t seen it yet?

    And then, of course, it gets worse for events that drastically change the course of a series. At some point, you just can’t have a reasonable expectation of not being spoiled if you want to read about it. After a certain amount of time, I’d even go as far as to say that if you’re reading about something that’s been out for a while, and you happen upon a spoiler, it’s your own fault. (Not a hypothetical – I recently came upon some spoilers for BSG on Wikipedia, while I was marathoning the series. I knew what to expect, so even if the Wikipedia article could be less spoilery, I accept that it was my own damn fault.)

  2. kadian1364 on June 25, 2009 10:53 pm

    I think a practical way to think about spoilers is that we don’t want to be spoiled because there is some momentous emotional impact/reaction to be had experiencing the event or revelation the first time that won’t be there if we know it’s coming. So this keys to us what is “spoiler protection worthy” so to say, stuff that one would consider the big highlights of a series or movie or book. We want to experience these highlights ourselves, not be told about them. So Clovis or Yuusuke dying wouldn’t be highlights, but the big ones in Death Note or Gurren Lagann would be.

    Theoretically Minor Spoilers Ahead ▼

    Here’s my breakdown:
    – For highly popular and influential works, 10 years is more than plenty enough time to spoiler protect things. 5 years for the hardcore crowd.
    – Little heard of and obscure works actually deserve eternal spoiler alerts. How obscure and little known is up to one’s better judgment.

  3. kadian1364 on June 25, 2009 10:55 pm

    WTF spoiler tags don’t work?

    This is a spoiler.

    This is not a spoiler.

  4. kadian1364 on June 25, 2009 10:58 pm

    I can see where this might be a problem.

  5. ghostlightning on June 25, 2009 10:58 pm

    LOL. Spoilers didn’t use to bother me, then I started watching more shows and better shows and realize how spoiling plot details could have robbed me of my joy. I avoid them diligently now. I find your analysis useful, since how I write requires the mentioning of plot turns and character moments.

    In any case, here’s a different view (my friend mechafetish): http://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/2008/12/24/anime-is-culture-culture-is-love-what-the-prophet-might-say-about-watching-anime/

  6. RP on June 25, 2009 11:17 pm

    AHHH! Kaidian you ruined Evangelion for me!!!

    I’m overreacting, but it’s true. But I’ll try to forget it, if I ever get around to watching the series. :-)

    This is a tough question. I mean there’s always going to be a case where some portion of the population is “spoilable.” And it all depends on personal definition as well. But at some point, you’ve got to say it’s been long enough, and eventually place the burden on the viewer to make the effort to avoid spoilers – if they really care. At some point, the viewer’s just got to accept that the world can’t revolve around them.

    For example, if you don’t know what happens at the end of the Sixth Sense by now, it’s up to you to try to remain ignorant of the ending. And if by chance you get spoiled, the viewer’s got to accept that it’s their “fault.” The movie’s been out for years, it’s a cultural phenomenon, it’s silly to think people are going to avoid talking about what’s commonly accepted as “public” knowledge.

    It’s hard to say there’s a set time for not mentioning spoilers, but I’d say after a year, everything’s fair game, and the burden shifts to the viewer to avoid spoilers.

    But if you’re going to do a formal blog post or something of that nature, where you know you’re giving away important information, I think it’s always polite to at least warn the reader that there’s imminent spoilers almost without fail, except in certain ridiculous cases like Kaidian mentions.

  7. Kiriska on June 26, 2009 12:19 am

    @Ravi: Well, in terms of fans not talking about things, that is generally what spoiler tags on open forums are for, or otherwise take it to a more dedicated forum for the topic where as mentioned, most people can be expected to know about things. I think on most manga scan boards, the grace period for weekly spoilers is a week or two, which seems plenty reasonable. The concern is just less controlled areas like… real life or unrelated forums and message boards where a user may not expect to find spoilers. Looking up something on Wikipedia is pretty obvious — encyclepedia entries strive to have complete summaries, spoilers and all, but if you found that BSG spoiler in some random /x/ 4chan thread, you’d probably be pissed since /x/ is the freakin’ paranormal board!

    @kadian1364: Boo, sorry about the spoiler tags. Apparently they only work for admin users… need to figure out how to apply it to everyone else — your post isn’t all that spoilery anyway. :P Definitely agree as to why we don’t want to be spoiled. The most obvious spoilers will always be the big turning points, be they deaths or discoveries or plot twists. Personal senstivity is what I was more concerned about in my post since I do think I’m one of those people that feels like they’re having their experience threatened by even minor things.

    Certain pop culture things might be excluded — like “Luke, I am your father” (I’ve never seen anything Star Wars in my liiife~) — just because they’re referenced so often, but even then, I’m sure there are plenty of culturally ignorant people. Or just ignorant people in general: “Passion of the Christ spoiler! Jesus dies at the end!” For anime, I’d be even less confident in judging certain things to be universally known, even among otaku since people tend to focus on certain genres. Walking into Evangelion, I knew that the ending was fucked up, but not precisely that everyone dies. I don’t know anything about Macross still, so that bit is news to me as well. So then there is the question — is it your fault if you’re culturally ignorant? (Probably yes, though I don’t think that the culturally ignorant particularly care about being spoiled in regards to a title they’re so ignorant of.)

    @ghostlightning: I’m pretty sure I’ve always been adverse to spoilers, though I also think that being a Harry Potter fan heightened my paranoia (not necessarily because its plot points are great or shocking, but just because there seem to be so many people out to ruin it for others), and even though that mania is all over now, the paranoia stays. XD Interesting post by mechafetish — I can definitely see how looking up spoilers might save time as far as judging whether or not to continue, but I’d rather take the risk of wasting time with a bad series than the risk of spoiling something that would have been good to witness on my own.

    @RP: I do think there is a certain amount of expectation for a viewer to avoid spoilers, especially if they know that the thing they haven’t seen is something most everyone else already has. It’s worth considering that most viewers don’t care about spoilers for things they haven’t seen and don’t particularly intend to see, but then sometime in the future, they end up seeing that title and remembering the spoiler halfway through. That’s probably the viewer’s fault more than anything else, but it’s still kind of unfortunate.

  8. kadian1364 on June 26, 2009 12:50 am

    Damn, I feel kinda bad now. There were definitely some things I tried to spoiler tag, just in case. That was pretty much the worst case scenario.

    My point is that there will always be people literally born yesterday, and it wouldn’t be practical to step around spoilers all the time just for them.

  9. Kiriska on June 26, 2009 12:58 am

    Hm, edited in the spoiler tags for you because apparently I can do that. :>

    I guess it’s just a matter of striking a balance between courtesy on the part of those in the know and cautiousness on the part of those who aren’t.

  10. Michael | Low on Hit Points on June 26, 2009 2:12 pm

    @ RP

    What kadian1364 said about Eva isn’t really true. It’s a bit more “complex” than that. And it’s definitely (well, probably) not what you’re thinking.

    @ kadian1364

    Have to completely disagree with time being a factor at all. An anime having aired 10 years ago means absolutely nothing to someone new to anime. All of those series are completely foreign to them. Even the “hardcore audience” has not seen or heard of a lot of what you imagine they have.

    So, spoilers are bad, period. No exceptions. Hide them or provide a warning in every case.

  11. Joe on June 26, 2009 5:54 pm

    So I only read half of this because I didn’t want Harry Potter or Death Note spoiled, so excuse any reiteration on my part.

    The most frustrating thing about Harry Potter is that spoilers are inescapable. The obsessed fans, back in the time of Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, were nothing short of rabid. That of course beings on what you mentioned, people who spoil just to incite emotion. I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books for a variety of reasons, but I’d like to someday. Preferably when the zeitgeist has died and it’s just another notable series– probably a year or two after the last movie. Despite not ever being in Potter communities, or even communicating with Potter die-hards I’ve managed to pickup a ton about the series.

    I think spoilers warnings generally already have the appropriate retention time. Simply because those that care to watch/read/experience something will do it within reasonable time. And if I ever stumble across spoilers for something, I’m usually able to sense their coming before I read to far.

    Among the many reasons why I dislike Mark Kneece is because he’s a huge spoiler pants.

  12. Kiriska on June 26, 2009 6:17 pm

    I definitely agree about the HP spoilers, though a lot of what was discussed in the comments thus far is the idea that for culturally significant/widespread series, how reasonable is it for someone to expect to remain unspoiled? With so many inconsiderate people spouting things without warning, would it be better to go ahead with experiencing something just to avoid further spoilers?

    Yeah, Mark kind of just assumes that no one cares about whatever he’s talking about (as is usually the case?), so it’s unfortunate when someone does.

  13. RP on June 26, 2009 9:46 pm

    @ Kadian, Michael

    No prob about the Eva stuff. I will say one good thing about spoilers is luckily they don’t mean much (at least to me) until you’ve become immersed in the show. For example, I could probably say X dies in show Y, and if you hadn’t heard of it, or didn’t know anything about it, it’s easy to forget about.

  14. Netto on June 30, 2009 9:16 pm

    Actually, I don’t mind much about spoilers, although it’s true that they take out the fun out of stuff.

    However, I usually prioritize the journey of going through the story as a more important factor as compared to what happens at the end of the story.

    But then again, human curiosity will always have one or two looking for spoilers just because they want to know (or can’t wait for) the story to continue on.

  15. TJF588 on August 20, 2009 9:25 am

    For the upcoming KINGDOM HEARTS 358/2 Days, someone posted in a thread on a different game’s board, “For [sort of characters/conditions being discussed], look no further than KH’s Xion.” There was also a YouTube link, which I copy+pasted, maybe half-instinctively, and then closed out of once I saw the setting.

    A major point of Days is WTF is up with Xion, the XIVth member of Organization XIII. To’ve given that comment (s)he did, that very narrowed down the range of whose Nobody she is, and even the nature of her non-existence (there are a couple other Nobody characters with wonky conditions).

    I (evetually) played it off as no big thing, but I’m still miffed about it. So many of SQEX’s games I know things about, but I hadn’t for this one aside from speculations. Then, before I even had a chance to play it (it comes out in the States about a month from now), here’s something about a new character who’s pretty put the plot point (or at least the one we don’t know about, since aspects of Days are known/figured from KHII).

    I’m regularly at Danbooru, and I’ve come to use the blacklist not for personal preferences, but for things I haven’t played yet. Especially Persona 4, if not 3, from things such as a character’s physical condition to just the inclusion of a lewdly-shaped Persona and another loli S.Link character (or I assume she is; these “unusual” bond-partners bemuse me, especially with the Internet’s influences). Heck, even the identity of Gabranth in FFXII has been blown for me by fanart, though I think it was something else that first spoiled me.

  16. Kiriska on August 20, 2009 2:19 pm

    You know, I almost didn’t read through this comment because you started to mention 358/2 Days and Xion, which I definitely, definitely do not want to read or know about until I’ve got the game in my hands and finished playing it. So yeah, I’m with you and would definitely be miffed if I’d come across whatever you did. Even small details can potentially be huge spoilers if they start a chain of deductive reasoning. There was a time when I wanted to know everything about the game, but now I’ve taken to just waiting for them and avoiding all news and speculation completely, especially if a game releases earlier in Japan. It’s just not worth the grief and my spoiler paranoia is bad enough as it is.

  17. TJF588 on August 21, 2009 4:56 am

    Ah, maybe shoulda denoted the spoiler-avoidance (and checked my spelling; “evetually” and “put” instead of “much”). BTW, I’ve read your other responses (thnx, Gmail), and do look forward to reading more of this site whenever I glance it on the RSS feeder.