The 8 Most Surprising TV Plot Twists

These are some incredible TV series plot twists.

By Britta DeVore | Published

jensen ackles supernatural

When it comes to making good TV, the writers’ room is at the center of the action, ensuring that the plot has an overarching flow with plenty of character growth and, if they’re really on their A game, a major plot twist or two along the way. From Supernatural to Game of Thrones, here are GFR’s top eight twists in television history.

8. Twin Peaks

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Mystery after mystery befell the trippy David Lynch series in the early ‘90s with shocking revelations around every corner. While there were a handful of plot twists along the way, the biggest one was in the final moments of the second season when audiences found out that FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) was overpowered by his dopplegänger while confronting BOB in the Black Lodge. A complete surprise to audiences who were expecting the series to wrap up on a clean note, it wouldn’t be until 2017 that viewers would find out what happened next with the show’s third season. 

7. Game of Thrones

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The eight-season running Game of Thrones was jam-packed with a multitude of plot twists from Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) beheading in the first season to the reveal that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was actually a Targaryen, adding a problematic touch to his romantic relationship with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). 

But, perhaps the biggest plot twist of all came in the show’s third season when almost all of the Stark family was wiped out at a bloody event that came to be known as The Red Wedding. While attending the wedding of his uncle, Robb Stark (Richard Madden), his wife Talisa (Oona Chaplin), his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), and the Stark guards and bannerman in attendance were all brutally slain by the Freys for committing a slight against them. A move that many didn’t see coming, the episode was all that fans could talk about in the following weeks. 

6. The Winchesters

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This past year kicked off the series premiere of the Supernatural prequel series, The Winchesters. An origin story of how Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) parents met, the show focused on the eventual couple’s meeting and how the family business got started. Fans were a little bit confused over how things would tie into Supernatural as some bits and pieces just seemed a little off with the lore. In the final episode, we come to find out that The Winchesters doesn’t take place in the same universe as Supernatural with Dean explaining that this time around he wants his parents to have the happy ending they deserve – even bestowing some helpful tools and knowledge to the couple to ensure their happiness. Plot twist!

5. Game of Thrones

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As we said, HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones hit us with a multitude of plot twists so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that another made the cut. For eight seasons, audiences speculated and argued over who would ultimately claim the Iron Throne and what would happen to their favorite characters who fell short. Out of them all, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) was a prime contender – almost considered to be a shoo-in to rule Westeros. After he took it upon himself to kill his aunt/lover Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), things took a turn for Jon’s claim and he was (happily) exiled to the North. Now, fans have more of Jon’s story to look forward to in a sequel spinoff that will see how he’s faring beyond the wall with his wildling pals.

4. The Haunting of Hill House

When Netflix dropped The Haunting of Hill House in 2018, audiences were kept on the edge of their seats trying to keep up with the mystery plaguing the estranged family. While the tail end of the final episode revealed that one of the sisters, Nell (Victoria Pedretti) was a ghost, the real shock came later in the season. Before her death, Nell had constantly been terrified by a ghost dubbed The Bent-Neck Lady. As each episode rolls on, audiences uncover more and more about the horrors that took place in the home before finally learning that Nell died because she broke her neck. Piecing it all together for us, the major plot twist revealed that Nell herself was the haunting specter that had been stalking her for her entire life. 

3. American Horror Story: Murder House

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The first season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, American Horror Story was packed with jaw-dropping moments that pushed what audiences thought they knew about the gorgeously haunted home. With stellar performances from the likes of Evan Peters, Jessica Lange, and Taissa Farmiga, Murder House was a building block for a dynamite franchise. One of the biggest plot twists of the series so far was the unbelievable reveal that Violet (Farmiga) was a ghost – now trapped inside the home with the other specters. 

What we think we see is Violet overdosing on sleeping pills only to be saved by school shooter and ghost, Tate (Peters). But, the plot twist drops, informing us that Tate was too late to save his girlfriend and couldn’t find it in himself to tell her the truth. Reality hits all of us in the face when Violet attempts to leave the property only to be snapped back inside the house, ultimately finding her own lifeless body.

2. Supernatural

Like many other titles on this list, Supernatural was another plot twist-heavy series from the revelation of who Chuck (Rob Benedict) really was to life-altering betrayals many times over. But, audiences were hit with a one-two punch at the end of Season 5 when it appeared that Sam (Jared Padalecki) was killed when he was sucked to hell with Lucifer. A sigh of relief was heard around the world when Sam came back from the bowels of hell but things were about to get worse. The second twist of Sam’s survival arc was that although he made it back to his beloved brother, he had lost his soul in the meantime – meaning that he wasn’t the Sammy we once knew.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Arriving at the top position on our countdown of plot twists is the premiere episode of Buffy’s fifth season. Titled Buffy vs. Dracula, the kickoff to the latest season is light-hearted enough with the Scooby Gang fighting the most infamous vamps in history. But, the final seconds of the episode flipped the dedicated audiences on their heads when it was revealed that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had a sister named Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) who, seemingly, appeared out of thin air. A true WTF moment, we needed to wait a full week for more of the story to come together with the mystery being the main focus of the fifth season.