cliffhanger

A cliffhanger is a plot device in a book, movie, or TV show that leaves the audience in suspense at the end of a scene or episode. If your favorite show ends its season with a cliffhanger, you'll have to wait months to find out what happens next.

The key to a good cliffhanger is a character in some precarious position — this keeps the plot exciting, and it also ensures that the audience will return to see how dilemmas are resolved. In the case of a book, a cliffhanger keeps you turning the pages. The use of cliffhangers goes back to Homer's "Odyssey," though the word itself dates from 1937, from serial movies that would sometimes literally leave characters dangling from a cliff at the end.

Definitions of cliffhanger
  1. noun
    an episode that ends in suspense
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    type of:
    episode, installment, instalment
    a part of a broadcast serial
  2. noun
    a contest whose outcome is uncertain up to the very end
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    type of:
    competition, contest
    an occasion on which a winner is selected from among two or more contestants
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