Do Spoilers have Expiration Dates?

Oddly enough, I’ll try to avoid spoiling anything from class in this post. I will talk about spoilers as a concept, though.

I am re-watching Game of Thrones in preparation for the season 5 premiere this weekend, but this time I’m joined by people who are watching for the first time. Those of us who have previously watched the show or have read the books talk in hushed whispers away from the others who watch for the first time. We do this to not spoil anything. After all, who wants to know all the surprises before they arrive?

While the TV show is still quite new, the Song of Ice and Fire novels were first published almost a decade ago. Despite this, I along with many people still wouldn’t dare drop secrets for those who have yet to experience the story for themselves. When the Half Blood Prince first came out, I accidentally spoiled the death of an important character to a friend who was only part way through the book. I felt pretty bad about that. Yet today, if you google the word “snape,” one of the first results is “snape kills dumbledore.” Follow that link and you find video clips and gifs making jokes about the scene.

spoilers from older media are now the subject of jokes
some jokes even make fun of jokes about spoilers

If older spoilers can be joked about, then is there a point where a spoiler “expires?” At what point can a plot point of character death be considered “safe” to share with people? For me personally, I try to avoid spoiling things because I’ve had thing spoiled for me in the past. It’s one of the reasons why I still have to get around to finishing the original Bioshock. I had the entire second half of the game spoiled for me when it had first come out, and it’s been a little hard getting into the game since.

So how about you? I know it’s probably hard to comment and discuss media without spoiling things, but what do you think? Do spoilers “expire” or should we try to avoid spoiling media regardless of release date?

4 thoughts on “Do Spoilers have Expiration Dates?

  1. There are a lot of factors here. I think people spoil Harry Potter because so many people read it and it was going on for so long that by the time the series concluded there weren’t many people for whom the series could be spoiled. In the case of GoT, since its still ongoing I feel like more people are hopping on the wagon and It won’t be cool to mention any plot lines until the series is over.

    1. You certainly have a point. It was almost weird if you didn’t know the “spoilers” of Harry Potter when the series was at its most popular

  2. I feel at a certain point when the subject itself is no longer a big deal in the media or if it has been widely available for an extended period of time, you can talk about spoilers. I usually get spoiled when people talk about something that has been around for years but not accessible until recently.

  3. I agree with the other commenters, with the caveat that no matter how old something is, thou shalt not be That Guy and talk about spoilers WHILE someone is watching the show/reading the book/playing the game. It doesn’t get much more inexcusable than that.

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