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17 Shocking TV Twists That Fans Actually Predicted

HUGE SPOILERS FOR LOTS OF TV SHOWS

 

CBS

1. How I Met Your Mother – The Mother Was Dead All Along

Let’s be real; the How I Met Your Mother creators had only so much of the series planned in the initial pitch. And as time went on, fans would naturally question Bob Saget’s “Future Ted” telling his kids all about life in the city with Barney, Marshall, Lily and “Aunt Robin,” without ever hearing the mother’s perspective. The natural presumption was that Ted wanted to comfort the kids after their mother’s passing (why else would they sit on that couch for nine years?), but stranger still was the actual ending circling back to validate another bonkers theory from years’ past. Where Cristin Milioti’s Season 9 arrivaldispelled theories Robin might somehow turn out the title character, the story really was all about her all along. Ted only talked up Robin so his kids would accept him running back to his old girlfriend after the real mother’s death a few years prior. Yeesh.

NBC

2. The Good Place – This Is The Bad Place!

No one necessarily knew The Good Place would leap from pleasant afterlife comedy to Machiavellian mindfork, but eagle-eyed fans caught at least a few clues. Both Eleanor and Jason made early allusion to the fact that they were either “in an alien zoo, or on a prank show,” while Chidi’s repeat anxiety and stomachaches called attention to the oddity of human suffering in Heaven. Best of all, Janet’s inability to lie offered abstract interpretations of her comments about the neighborhood, and sneaky second meaning to her refusal to discuss The Bad Place with Eleanor and Chidi.

BBC

3. Sherlock – The Third Holmes Sibling

Sherlock creator Steven Moffat has a … “complicated” relationship with fans, having repeatedly trolled explanations of Sherlock’s survival in Season 3. It’s fair to say that fan-fervor nudged him toward what little explanation we got, just as obsessive theories of a “third Holmes brother” led to Season 4 subverting that with Sherlock and Mycroft’s sister, Eurus. To be fair, Sherlock did make vague references to “the other one” of the Holmes family, as well as a non-canonical “Sherrinford” (many even anticipating Tom Hiddleston in the role). What really tipped viewers was the unwillingness to use male pronouns, as well as the show’s habit of skewing Sherlock’s childhood memories. No one necessarily guessed “Eurus is a mad, violin-playing super-genius who can control men by talking to them,” but by the time mysterious new women kept popping up in John Watson’s life, fans were very much anticipating the big reveal.

NBC

4. This Is Us – Jack Isn’t Alive in the Present

Boy, the pilot episode of This Is Us dropped a bomb whose wreckage we’ve been sorting ever since. Once we knew that Jack and Rebecca’s storyline took place in the past, it was only a matter of time before we caught up with Kevin, Kate and Randall’s parents in the present, old-age makeup and all. That said, the elder Rebecca marrying Jack’s friend Miguel set off immediate alarm bells for the family patriarch’s present absence, and viewers were well ahead when episode 5 revealed Jack as an urn on Kate’s mantle. We still have 8,000 other questions about Jack’s death, but this one was a no-brainer.

USA

5. Mr. Robot – Elliot Was Secretly in Prison All Season 2

All too often, series predicated on first-season twists leave fans laser-focused on unraveling the second. Such was unfortunately the case with Mr. Robot, a series whose unreliable narrator and focus on the computer-savvy underground begged to be torn apart by Reddit. And while the first season reveal of Mr. Robot’s true identity wasn’t meant as some grand shock, Season 2’s attempt to obscure Elliot’s imprisonment was arguably apparent from the first episode. It wasn’t just that fans were eager to spot the twist, but also that logistics of Elliot’s isolation never added up. Even if he’d tried to distance himself from the hacker life by living at home with his mother, why would visitors like Darlene or Gideon appear one at a time, sitting at the same kitchen table under supervision? Why was Elliot allowed only sporadic calls from a wall-mounted phone, and why eat lunch at the same diner (with no waiters?) three times a day? Even if eagle-eyed viewers couldn’t discern the exact nature of Elliot’s incarceration, Season 2’s attempt to keep up the ruse over an extended run weighed heavily.

BBC

6. Doctor Who – Missy Is The Master

Rumors of The Master’s return swirled long before Peter Capaldi made his Doctor Who debut in Season 8, but it didn’t take long to sniff out something amiss with “Missy.” Michelle Gomez made her early debut as “Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere,” whose odd habit of referring to The Doctor as her “boyfriend” belied at least some gender fixation. It wasn’t a huge leap from there to realize Steven Moffat’s affinity for wordplay could make “Missy” short for “Mistress,” a female inversion of “Master.” Bringing a gender-bent Master back in response to the absence of female Time Lords seemed like a perfectly Steven Moffat thing to do, and that was exactly the revelation we got in Season 8’s penultimate hour.

HBO

7. Game of Thrones – Cersei Will Destroy King’s Landing With Wildfire

Game of Thrones is rarely one for shocking swerves, but recent seasons make habit of spoiling callbacks in their “previously on” segments. That habit extended to episodes themselves in Season 6, as character after character seemed to reference King’s Landing’s cache of “Wildfire” under the city from Aegon’s reign. It came in handy in Season 2’s battle of the “Blackwater,” but fans overwhelmingly recognized its role in Cersei’s explosive Season 6 endgame. The moment was beautifully underscored by Rawin Djawadi’s “Light of the Seven,” but lost impact with repeated foreshadowing of Cersei “burning cities to the ground” for her children, or Tyrion practically screaming “REMEMBER THE WILDFIRE” in Season 6’s penultimate hour. Heck, Bran’s earlier visions even showed the wildfire explosion, hiding it in a memory of the Mad King himself.

AMC

8. The Walking Dead – Abraham and Glenn Are Negan’s Victims

The Walking Dead’s slavish reference to the comic is often its undoing; deaths are spoiled years in advance, and diversions from the source material inevitably veer back. That grew especially complicated in Season 6, as the arrival of Jeffrey Dean’s Negan almost certainly meant the end for at least one major cast member; overwhelmingly predicted as that of comic victim Glenn. Had The Walking Dead simply bit the bullet and killed off the Steven Yeun fan-favorite, we might have accepted it. Instead, The Walking Dead’s attempt to turn Negan’s victim into a summer-long guessing game guaranteed fans would sniff out the true answer, especially given a demonstrable set absence of Yeun and Michael Cudlitz’s Abraham. Worse yet; Abraham’s own comic death was given to another character episodes earlier, leaving both Abraham and Glenn the most narratively expendable –and thereby likely targets – regardless.

The CW

9. The Flash – Savitar Is Future Barry

Both Flash and Arrow have awkward habits of attempting to obscure villain identities; almost always finding some roundabout way back to the comics. Season 3’s adaptation of hulking “speed god” Savitar might have broken the mold, if not for the show’s insistence that someone familiar pilot that silver and blue armor. And where had we seen an armored Flash with blue light peeking through the seams before? Why, that would be the comic Barry Allen’s “Future Flash” look; a phrase that not-coincidentally fell right in line with Savitar’s repeat insistence that “I am the future, Flash.” Comma placement really is everything.

HBO

10. Westworld – Bernard Is a Host Copy of Arnold

If there’s one upside to viewership obsessively picking apart clues, it’s that Westworld got to have its cake and enjoy it with Bernard’s true identity. Sure, the intentional obfuscation of Ford’s partner Arnold meant we’d likely explore some deeper mystery behind the character, as did the show’s nature belie someone revealed as an unwitting Host. Still, bread crumbs like Bernard’s backstory, the timing of his interactions with Dolores or the spacing of a simple photograph had fans outright assured some big reveal was coming. Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard was also the beating heart of the series; adding an extra layer of tragedy to his chilling “It doesn’t look like anything to me,” and Theresa’s subsequent – if predictable – murder.

Showtime

11. Dexter – There Was Only One “Doomsday Killer”

Few Dexter fans would argue that the series peaked with John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer in Season 4, but a lackluster fifth year (gosh, remember Lumen?) left fans hungry for more compelling villains in Season 6. And while the one-two punch of Colin Hanks’ Travis Marshall and Edward James Olmos’ Professor Gellar as “Doomsday Killers” staging apocalyptic tableaux made for intriguing visuals, fans were all-too-quick to pick up that Gellar never spoke to, or interacted with anyone beside Travis. In reality, Travis had killed the real Gellar and hallucinated him as an accomplice the entire time, but Dexter took until Season 6’s ninth hour to reveal the Fight Club-style twist fans had been shouting since episode three.

ABC

12. LOST – Everyone Was Dead the Whole Time

Ah, LOST. Patron saint of “They were dead the whole time” fan theories. To LOST’s credit, endless supernatural frick-a-frack after an actual plane crash put more than a few points in the purgatory column, though producers swore they weren’t building to anything so banal. Until they were. The show’s best twists all involved inverting perspective on what we’d seen – whether Season 3 turning the flashbacks into flash-forwards, or Season 5 adding time-travel to the mix. The final season’s “flash-sideways” meant to show an alternate timeline in which characters hadn’t crashed at all, but never quite answered why the main island story continued. As such, no one was surprised when the series finale revealed that yes, the castaways really were dead all along (in a way), but the flash-sideways were merely reconnecting them in the afterlife.

USA

13. Mr. Robot – Elliot Hallucinated His Dead Father as Mr. Robot

The first season of USA’s Mr. Robot offers the rare example of an obvious twist put to good use. The Fincher-esque hacker drama wore its Fight Club inspiration proudly, even borrowing The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” for an instrumental tribute. As such, it wasn’t hard to guess that Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot was somehow an extension of Elliot’s psyche – or split personality based on his late father – but that was exactly the point. By smugly assuring themselves they’d solved the puzzle before anyone else, Mr. Robot viewers completely missed that Carly Chaikin’s Darlene was actually Elliot’s “forgotten” sister, and had behaved as much in all their prior interactions.

HBO

14. Game of Thrones – Jon Snow Lives

Game of Thrones found itself in a tight spot with Jon Snow’s Season 5 end, as the character’s seeming demise caught up with the published – and technically canon – works of George R.R. Martin. That said, book and TV fans alike were quick to point out that Jon Snow had far too much unexplored significance to stay dead, plus Jon’s wouldn’t be the first resurrection to grace the Song of Ice and Fire. No one necessarily doubted our pouty, curly-haired Lord Commander would return to take on the Night King (we even kept watch on Kit Harington’s hair). We were none-too-surprised by his true heritage either, but let’s say George R.R. Martin had at least a few other options in that instance. Now finish those books, so we can double-confirm it!

HBO

15. Westworld – The Man in Black Is William 30 Years Later

The Westworld reveal is tricky. On the one hand, HBO’s adaptation of the 1973 sci-fi classic preyed heavily on the Reddit crowd’s appetite for puzzles, and arrived with enough fanfare that readers and bloggers alike understandably pored over every detail. On the other, some sites floated the “Westworld takes place in two different timelines” theory after only the second episode, largely based on advance clues from the third and fourth. It became impossible to ignore lacking interaction between certain characters and storylines, to the point that those engaging with the show knew by the ninth and tenth hours exactly what grand twist lay in store. Don’t get us wrong – the slow-burn reveals of William as the Man in Black and the park’s early days were expertly handled, but the thought of Season 2 falling into a similar mystery pattern should give us all pause.

AMC

16. The Walking Dead – Glenn Survived a Zombie Horde Under a Dumpster

Ah, the deadly fake-out that kicked off The Walking Dead’s slow, agonizing descent. TV fans are no strangers to shocking deaths, and Steven Yeun’s Glenn was already on notice by the impending arrival of new big bad Negan, who famously murdered our beloved pizza-boy in his comic debut. Switching Glenn’s death to an early hour of Season 6 might have subverted expectation, but few bought the awkwardly-staged “Thank You” ending that saw Glenn falling off a dumpster, and seemingly torn apart. For one, no significant characters were around to witness Glenn’s ignominious end, and the scene was clearly staged with another character landing atop Glenn, thus providing the blood and guts. After that, fans literally threw themselves under dumpsters to prove salvation a short crawl away, and no one was amused (or surprised) when that exact explanation was given episodes later. Worse yet – The Walking Dead kept Glenn’s subsequent comic death as-is, even dragging out its reveal through Season 7.

CBS

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17. Star Trek: Discovery – Voq and Ash Tyler Are the Same Person

We’ve got to give Star Trek: Discovery credit for thinking outside the box. Few noticed in the chaos of Discovery’s early production that Shazad Latif switched from a Klingon role to that of human series regular Ash Tyler, but a few red flags popped up when the character appeared only five episodes into the season. Not only that, but internet sleuths were quick to uncover that Klingon character “Voq” was played by Javid Iqbal, an actor with zero credits or internet presence beyond his Star Trek role. And wouldn’t you know it, Voq disappeared under mysterious circumstances just one episode before Tyler ingratiated himself with the crew. Star Trek has a history of aliens altering their physiology for undercover purposes, and the transformation fit with L’Rell’s suggestion that the nationalistic Voq’s new mission would cost him “everything.” Granted, we don’t yet know the full nature of the twist, but Discovery’s 2018 premiere all-but-confirmed that Ash Tyler is somehow the Klingon leader in disguise, albeit without his memories.
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