A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.
The phrase is believed to come from the end-of-episode situation in adventure silent films of the early 1900s days, with the protagonist literally left hanging from the edge of a cliff, although the oldest usage the Oxford English Dictionary has is from 1937. Some serials end with the caveat "To Be Continued..." or "The End?" In television series, the following episode usually begins with a recap sequence.
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