An etiquette guide for TV spoilers in the modern age.

Something really emotionally traumatic happened to me last night. I’m still recovering. I’m getting really upset even trying to write these words down right now.

Somebody posted a major Game of Thrones spoiler on Facebook. Like, REALLY FREAKING MAJOR.

And, like every TV fan‘s worse nightmare, I saw it before I watched the show, and it ruined my entire life.

(Before we go any further – because I’m a good person, I will tell you right now that this post contains spoilers about last night’s Game of Thrones episode. So if you haven’t watched, I’m thoughtfully telling you right now to click away from this post.)

I’m even going to scroll down to make sure you don’t see anything.

Okay. That’s enough. There will be spoilers from this point on.

I got home from work, made dinner, had a shower, then settled down on the couch to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I recorded it, so I was watching it after it had been broadcast on TV, but only by a few hours.

But then, just before I switched it on, I glanced down at my Facebook news feed, only to be faced with this:


If you just winced, gasped or shook your head in disbelief, you’ll understand the gravity of what happened to me last night. I was so upset when I saw that Facebook post, I had actual tears in my eyes.

Because of this thoughtless TV-spoiling knob cloud, I found out that King Joffrey had died before I got to watch and experience the shocking and unexpected scene in which KING JOFFREY DIED.

When you are emotionally invested in a TV show, seeing a spoiler like that actually leaves you traumatised. I thought everybody knew this. I thought everybody knew the rules.

Apparently fucking not.

This isn’t the 90’s people – we don’t watch TV the way that we used to. People have smart TVs, people record, people download (legally and illegally but that’s a whole other post), people live in different countries and different time zones… It’s ridiculous to assume that everybody finished watching the latest episode of something at exactly the same time.

But I guess some people (i.e. Facebook friend that I WANT TO PUNCH IN THE FACE) don’t understand this, so I would like to provide some helpful pointers.

Here is an etiquette guide for TV Spoilers in the Modern Age.


1. If you want to talk about the show on the Internet, the general rule is a 24-hour lock down on spoilers. You may say on Facebook that you CAN’T BELIEVE THAT BIG THING THAT HAPPENED OMFG CRAZY, but you may not mention specific names of people who died or specific events that took place. (Or, in the case above, FREAKING PICTURES OF THE DEATH ITSELF.)

2. If you want to talk about the show in person, you need to be careful for a week. Leave the room, talk in private, make sure nobody can hear your conversation. But, after 7 days, if somebody doesn’t want to hear spoilers, it’s their job to leave the room. You can’t be expected to keep quiet forever.

3. It’s your job to stay off Twitter. This isn’t fair, but that’s the way it goes. Tweeters should be following the 24-hour rule here, but Twitter is a place where people have hashtag conversations about shows as they happen, so you just can’t be too careful.

4. Always, ALWAYS provide a warning when you’re about to reveal spoilers. If a show is still on the air, no matter what season, it’s just common courtesy to say that you’re about to talk about plot-twists before you start. Have you noticed how the press do it? They never release details in headlines, and they always provide ample warning when there’s going to be spoilers in an article. Everyone should follow that rule of thumb. People can look/listen if they want – but at least you’ve given them the option.

5. That being said, anything no longer on air is free rein. It’s still good manners to provide a warning, but if people haven’t started watching by the time an entire series finishes, that really is their problem.

6. Game of Thrones is based on a series of books. You need to assume that anyone watching the TV show HAS NOT READ THE BOOKS. Always, always ask before you start talking. Some websites even post two versions of the same article about the show each week – one for people who have read the books and one for people who haven’t. That’s how serious this is, people.

7. Don’t try and sneak spoilers in. When someone explicitly tells you they don’t want to hear something, and you keep saying, “But I promise this doesn’t give anything away!” – it probably does give something away. If you’re breaking any of the above rules, just DON’T FREAKING SAY IT.

Okay, that’s it. Those are the rules.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and passive aggressively post this on someone’s Facebook wall.

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Here’s some other TV shows that it should be against the law to spoil: