Definition of cliffhanger in English:



  • 1A dramatic and exciting ending to an episode of a serial, leaving the audience in suspense and anxious not to miss the next episode.

    ‘it will take more than outrageous cliffhangers to win the ratings wars’
    as modifier ‘a cliffhanger ending’
    • ‘Every week they would perform a half-hour show in a pub, each ending in a cliffhanger designed to persuade the audience to return the next week.’
    • ‘Of course, in keeping with the name of the program, each episode of each serial ended with a cliffhanger.’
    • ‘The film ends with a cliffhanger, leaving the audience hungry for more.’
    • ‘Most rewarding are seemingly unrelated stories, like Toby's impending fatherhood, that end up having a poignant payoff within the cliffhanger ending of the season.’
    • ‘Complications arise during the surgery, but a cliffhanger ending leads the audience to wonder if Dr. Brown has managed a second miracle.’
    • ‘This season was also notable for the excellent way it would end episodes with cliffhangers that dovetailed smoothly into next week's installment.’
    • ‘And then, like a dramatic cliffhanger, the day ended.’
    • ‘The cliffhanger from the previous episode gets resolved offstage, so that everyone can stand around having conversations.’
    • ‘Honest serials play fair with these cliffhangers, putting the hero into danger and giving the audience a week to sweat over how he will escape the peril.’
    • ‘The cornerstones of the old time serials, such as a cliffhanger ending, a brief recap at the beginning, and brisk pacing made for exciting television.’
    • ‘The doc says that there's a problem just so we can get that faux - dramatic cliffhanger before the commercials.’
    • ‘Be warned though, if you get into it, the cliffhanger ending is going to drive you nuts.’
    • ‘The second movie ends with a cliffhanger and Silver felt fans would want to see the conclusion as quickly as possible.’
    • ‘The only real problem is the final episode ends in a cliffhanger, as Kira, his friends, and their Alliance allies seek haven from the pursuing ZAFT forces.’
    • ‘Once you are in the trash zone, you will be hooked and unable to wait for the follow-up to the fantastic cliffhanger fade-out.’
    • ‘The unique format (the chapter format rather than a conventional narrative) and the cliffhanger endings kept me in my seat from start to finish.’
    • ‘All the comedy, tatty eccentricity and devil-may-care cynicism are utterly gone - and of course the ambiguous cliffhanger ending is unthinkable.’
    • ‘It forces the audience to wait and wait with cliffhangers during and at the end of each show.’
    • ‘This is probably nowhere more true than in ‘Venom,’ the season-ending two-part episode that sets up a cliffhanger for the beginning of season two.’
    • ‘Ok, you were probably expecting this chapter to take place right after the first one and for the little cliffhanger ending of the first chapter to be resolved.’
    1. 1.1 A story or event with a strong element of suspense.
      ‘the match was a cliffhanger right up to the final whistle’
      • ‘It's going to be a cliffhanger, and you're going to have the same story in 2000.’
      • ‘The cliffhanger nature of serial fiction, exploited by everything from 1940's B-features to modern soap opera, is an easy target for the satirist.’
      • ‘As a two-part cliffhanger, these episodes are not as dramatic as they could be, because the outcome is all but certain.’
      • ‘A sound boom tore the skies after India won a cliffhanger to take the one day series 3-2.’
      • ‘New York made it to the National League Championship Series as a Wild Card team last October, losing a cliffhanger series to the Atlanta Braves.’
      • ‘The girls defeated Carrigallen from Leitrim in a tense and exciting cliffhanger on a scoreline of three goals to two.’
      • ‘States that were not competitive in the previous election might subsequently produce cliffhangers.’
      • ‘Knights supporters took over South Leeds Stadium yesterday and witnessed the latest in a long line of heart-stopping stories stolen from the script of a comic-book cliffhanger.’
      • ‘At the end of last season's cliffhanger final episode, he was heard shouting, ‘Weapons of mass destruction!’’
      • ‘Chen achieved re-election by just 30,000 votes, beating Nationalist party leader Lien Chan, after a cliffhanger campaign.’
      • ‘He agreed the threat of a dramatic cliffhanger vote on a flagship policy was ‘not a good situation’ for a government with a Commons majority of 161.’
      • ‘However, as punishment for staying beyond a year, he had to figure out how to resolve the cliffhanger episode ‘Best of Both Worlds.’’
      • ‘Good handicapping meant clashes like the Jane Fletcher Memorial Cup match between Chowbent B and Metro A stayed a cliffhanger until the final games.’
      • ‘I see it turning into a mystery, cliffhanger story.’


1930s: from early film serials in which episodes ended with characters in desperate situations such as hanging off the edge of a cliff.