What Is a Cliffhanger in a Story?


Quick Answer

A cliffhanger in a story occurs when the author leaves the reader or viewer unsure of what happens to the main characters involved. The story ends suddenly, almost in mid-scene, with no real resolution to the plot. Cliffhangers are popular in books, television shows and movies where sequels are planned.

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Full Answer

The purpose of the cliffhanger is to create suspense and interest in a sequel or coming chapter. According to Literary Devices, the cliffhanger dates back to ancient literature. In the story "One Thousand and One Nights," a king orders the death of the queen. In order to avoid her fate, she tells him a story each night that ends in a cliffhanger, and he continues to delay her death to find out what happens next.

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