Updated: 21st April 2018

Are you a Game of Thrones blabbermouth? The 10 rules of spoiler etiquette

In the internet age, plot reveals have become a nightmare but follow our laws of spoilers and you might just make it to the end unscathed

Like charity muggers and Katherine Ryan, spoilers are getting harder and harder to avoid. As TV dramas resort to ever more outlandish plot twists to hold our attention and blockbuster movies pivot on one big reveal, the chances of our flabbers being gasted ahead of time by Twitter blabbermouths have increased especially now that were not all watching at the same time. Then again, someone constantly shouting SPOILER ALERT! can be almost as annoying as spoilers themselves. Is putting Jon Snow on a poster for season six of Game Of Thrones actually a spoiler or just a perfectly reasonable inducement to watch? Weve all accidentally spoiled something for someone at some point, so forgive us our spoilers as we forgive those who spoil against us. And sign up to the Guides 10 spoiler commandments in the hope that we can all work together to avert spoilergeddon.

1 Know the definition of spoiler

First order of business: what are we talking about when we talk about spoilers? As a rule of thumb, think births, marriages and deaths: the sort of life-upending events that disrupt the fabric of your favourite TV shows and movies. Unexpected pregnancies are a reliable, road-tested plot-exploder. Red Weddings aside, marriages might seem less surprising, so best loosen the definition to include surprise couplings remember when Buffy hooked up with Spike? And just like in actual life, death is the ultimate spoiler, so if someone buys the farm, be it on The Good Wife or in a galaxy far, far away, respect their passing as you might at an actual funeral: by observing a period of reflective silence.

2 Keep the spoiler window shut

When is it acceptable to talk about shock beheadings or who you think Hollyoakss Gloved Hand Killer is? Every drama has a spoiler window during which it is bad form to discuss plot points in public, but this differs depending on the method of delivery. For terrestrial TV, wed suggest that while the series is running its best to avoid blurting so as not to offend those following on catch-up. But 48 hours after its over, all bets are off. In terms of subscription TV dramas, not everyone is prepared to line Murdochs pockets, so wait until the box set is out before putting your theories out there, too though in the case of Game Of Thrones, the surrounding clamour is so loud that the onus is on Sky refuseniks to cover their ears. What about streaming services? Well, just because you devoured House Of Cards in one sitting doesnt mean everyones so greedy. Assume people are watching at a weekly rate and calculate accordingly. For movies, wait until it turns up on demand. But once a film enters popular consciousness, you cant be expected to keep shtum for ever. If people are that worried about someone ruining the bear scene in The Revenant, they should watch the bloody thing. Finally, theres soaps. Didnt catch Corrie last night? Your lookout. Weatherfield waits for no man.

3 Observe total spoiler awareness in public places

The Queen Victoria in Walford Square: a good place to avoid TV spoilers. Photograph: Des Willie/BBC

If youve just witnessed the most explosive plot twist since Paul Robinson burned down Lassiters in Neighbours (sorry if thats a spoiler for you), its understandable that you might want to share your excitement with someone. But try to keep a lid on it: if youre still within the spoiler window outlined above, you really should establish where your friends or colleagues are in the series before so much as raising an eyebrow even the suggestion that an episode is highly spoilable can itself be a kind of spoiler. On the other hand, if you know youve got a hot episode sitting on your DVR, you should do your best to avoid spoilerable situations by getting into work half an hour late, neglecting to wash so nobody talks to you, and only socialising in pubs where they never, ever talk about last nights telly, such as the Queen Vic on EastEnders.

4 Read the book? Doesnt mean everyone else has

In fact, its best to assume they havent. If Hollywood thought everyone in the world had read Gone Girl and already knew the ending, they wouldnt have bothered making it into a film. In the original Planet Of The Apes novel, the planet wasnt even no, we cant spoil that for you, weve already probably spoiled the very famous (and different) film ending on the cover (sorry). While were here, It didnt happen like that in the novel bores are just annoying as serial spoilers. If you want to talk books, join a book group.

5 You cant spoil real life

Making A Murderers Steven Avery. Photograph: Netflix

These days, reality shows such as The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off are news, and you cant expect people not to comment on the news as it happens. So, if youre watching on catch-up, its your responsibility to leave the room when people start salivating over last nights battenberg showstopper. And dont turn to page five of Metro, where the axed contestant will inevitably be grinning out at you like a big human spoiler. For real-life crime shows such as Serial or Making A Murderer its more complex. Although you might try to apply the rules of a TV drama, series such as The Jinx have become news stories in their own right as theyve unfolded, thus negating usual spoiler rules (which doesnt mean The Jinx is spoiled by the way; its still grimly compelling TV, even if you know how events play out). The only option is to wolf them down as quickly as possible. Or wait until the hoo-ha has died down and youve forgotten who was meant to have killed whom anyway.

6 Trailer too spoilery? Dont bother with the film

People are always complaining that film trailers are becoming increasingly spoilerific, blowing their big reveals in order to get casual bums on seats. Once youve factored in the teaser trailers, TV spots, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and trailers for the trailer, theres not much left to hold back for the movie itself. Both Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys gave away key plot twists in their trailers (which is a bit much, given that people werent watching them for their sparkling dialogue). If youre concerned about this, online trailers are easy enough to avoid, and you could always go to buy popcorn when they come on in the cinema. But lets apply some common sense here: if a film is basic enough to be laid bare in a two-minute trailer, then it probably isnt worth seeing in full. Transformers: Age Of Extinction wasnt spoiled by a TMI trailer; it was spoiled by its own vapidity.

7 Spoiling games really pushes peoples buttons

For as long as there have been video games, there have been video game spoilers: way back in 1986 Nintendo players who completed 8-bit scavenger hunt Metroid were greeted with the subversive twist that armoured avatar Samus was actually a woman. Now, gamings current mainstream is practically indistinguishable from the deafening audio and big reveals of Hollywood blockbusters. Clever gamers are likely to spot those twists a mile off, but theres also a new generation of short, immersive indie games such as Braid, The Stanley Parable and Soma that cleverly employ rug-pulling moments to devastating emotional effect. They deserve to be experienced as their creators intended, without any prior knowledge, if only gamers would realise that a spoiler isnt just the thing bolted on to the back of your Need For Speed supercar.

8 Watch global, act local

Until recently, most of us thought VPN was some kind of fashion faux pas. Now were all self-taught blackhats circumventing geo-located content restrictions to browse whats on Mexican Netflix. You also might routinely access dodgy download sites simmering with digital gonorrhoea to pirate the hottest new US TV. But until these shows become available legally! in the UK, keep your theories about the mid-season finale of new FBI soap Quantico to yourself. Its not just polite, its less incriminating: GCHQ will probably have tapped your every squalid keystroke, Mr Robot.

9 Tweeting equals cheating

When the world finally found out who shot JR, all Dallas fans could do was turn to the person next to them on the sofa and say Huh?. But in our current overstimulated, under-mannered age of mandatory second-screen viewing, processing a gut-punch plot twist apparently requires a catalogue of tweets or Facebook outpourings comprised entirely of forensic plot specifics punctuated by WTFs. As such, it would be wise for quick-to-anger slowcoaches to restrict their social media exposure on #GoT night. And theres a special place in Westeros hell for anyone who parcels up their spoilerific #GoT hot take with a hashtag.

10 Even gigs come with a spoiler warning

Can music really be spoiled? Of course it can: try listening to Scooter. The music industry has managed to keep a stranglehold on reveals: locking albums in bulletproof sealed rooms, shock-releasing them without warning, that sort of thing. Remarkably, Bowie managed to keep his Blackstar albums heartbreaking twist hidden right up until the last minute. Gigs, however, pose a spoiler emergency. As pulling out something special during a live show becomes increasingly prevalent, so do the chances of people ruining it for others with their shoddy cameraphone footage. If youre going to a gig tonight, especially one where tickets have cost you more than your months rent, avoiding advance reviews and staying off YouTube in the lead-up would seem sensible. Avoiding Scooter, more sensible still.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us