Spoiler: Should there be a statute of limitations?

Spoiler. Spoiler Alert. In an age of social media, and with the lightning speed in which information comes at us these days, the term spoiler alert seems to be popping up more and more….and more. Just recently, there was a conversation on my favorite radio morning show where they were trying to determine proper spoiler alert etiquette. They didn’t necessarily come to an agreement (some said a month, some said a year, and some said you should never give a spoiler) but it gave me some food for thought…is it even POSSIBLE to come to a conclusion?


Case Study 1: “The Spoiler Alert Segmentation”

"The Spoiler Alert Segmentation" -- When Sheldon (Jim Parsons, right) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki, left) fight, it affects Penny and Amy’s living arrangements, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 7 (8:00 – 8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS © 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“The Spoiler Alert Segmentation” – © 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In Season 6 of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard gets angry because Sheldon “spoils” a key plot point in the final Harry Potter book (if you’ve seen the show, you know what the discussion is. I won’t repeat it, because, well…spoilers!). This leads to a huge fight that really is based on a lot of other issues that Leonard has been holding on to (that’s a topic for a psychology post). However, if you dig deeper into the the actual conversation, it proves to be excellent fodder for discussion. As highlighted in a review of the episode by  Den of Geek, Leonard was reading the Harry Potter book in question nearly TEN YEARS after it was published and several years after the movie was produced. So, ignoring the glaring discrepancies in Leonard’s lack of fandom, should someone really be responsible for saying “spoiler alert” nearly 10 years after something comes out?


Case Study 2: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Co-worker Spoiler Aversion

Spoiler Alert, Spoiler, Star Wars, Star Wars The Force Awakens“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released in mid-December. I saw the movie on “preview night” (the Thursday night before it’s official release on Friday). The next day, I was not able to say anything to any of my co-workers in the office. I got a lot of “What did you think? Was it good? No spoilers though!” I totally understand that. In fact, I had even left a geeky group on Facebook because they advertise being spoiler friendly and I didn’t want to take the risk. Over a month later, there is one lingering co-worker who has yet to see the movie. While it doesn’t seem that he is making a concerted effort to go see it, he does not want anyone to spoil it for him. So, as an office, we have not been able to discuss the movie- except certain individual private, whispered conversations. Not one spoiler has been uttered.

These are two extreme examples of a spoiler alert- from one month to ten years. After talking to various people and conducting a poll on Facebook, the fairly general consensus seems to be:

  • The statute of limitations is different for a movie, book, television show (episode versus series), and video game.
  • The spoiler limitation for a movie can range from one to six months depending on the popularity of the movie.
  • A book, video game, or a television series ending wrap-up should never be spoiled.
  • A television episode shouldn’t be spoiled at least through the end of it’s current season.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you agree?

What are your personal preferences and/or behaviors when it comes the infamous spoiler and subsequent spoiler alert?

Be sure to share with me!

6 thoughts on “Spoiler: Should there be a statute of limitations?

  1. Danielle @ From Girlie to Nerdy

    I don’t think a book should ever be spoiled nor should a TV show finale. Also, I always ask if someone has seen/read something first before I even start the convo and am the first to leave a convo if people are talking about something I haven’t seen or watched 🙂

  2. Liz

    I don’t mind spoilers at all. My father always spoiled everything, so it isn’t a big deal to me. I haven’t seen the new Star Wars yet, but I did corner a friend and force him into walking me through the whole thing… and that got him in trouble with some of our other friends.

  3. Natalie Patalie

    Honestly I think some people get a little too dramatic about spoilers. I mean – no, I will not intentionally spoil something for you, but on the other hand I’m not going to walk around on eggshells, either. Also it’s very different depending on if you’re one on one with a person who doesn’t want something spoiled (if it’s just me and you and you ask me not to talk about it, then obviously I won’t), or with a whole group. For example, that guy at your office. If he doesn’t want the movie spoiled he either needs to hurry up and see it, or leave the room if you’re going to talk about it as a group! You don’t get to make the rules when you’re that badly outnumbered! I hope that doesn’t make me a jerk, hahaha.

  4. Dina

    Book or games should never been spoiled. Everyone walks into those a different times and devote only a certain amount of time to these things. It is shameful to spoil those for someone.

  5. Pepi

    I don’t like spoilers when the movie/show/book is too fresh. But also if I’m someone who arrives late into the fandom, I try to be far away from spoilers. I usually say “no spoilers please” to friends who might have seen the movie, read the book, etc. I hate when they simply just ignore me. Then, it’s when I get mad.

  6. cuteek

    Not forgetting that we aren’t all in the same country! For example Season 5 episode 4 of Once Upon a Time only just aired yesterday here in Spain. This season has been spoiled because of things I’ve seen on Twitter and blogs that I follow.

    It was the same with The X-Files too, we are only a couple of days behind and still the spoilers are all over the place with live tweeting and such. It’s not like I can stay offline until I’ve watched & read everything. I appreciate it when fellow bloggers use ‘spoiler alert’ in their blog title.

    I’m also just getting into Harry Potter, trying to avoid spoilers as much as I can.


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