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Spoilers are major plot points that give away canon details that people may not want to know before having had the chance to read/watch/listen to the canon themselves. The term can also refer to fanworks which include spoilers for recent episodes of a series.

Many kerfluffles can break out if a fan does not follow the "rules" of a community regarding spoilers. Many communities, for example, ask that spoilers in a story must be warned for in the story header. On LiveJournal sites, spoilers must generally be put behind cut-tags. Even user icons and avatars can be considered "spoilers" on some sites.


Historical Definitions

The following definition dates to February 1999 on cmshaw's Fan Glossary as specific to media fandom:

spoiler, header. Fanfic which uses events in recently aired eps of the originating show (specific eps are usually named).[1]

The following definition dates to May 2001 in the West Wing fandom:

Spoilers: statements, quotations, references, or anything that will give away the plot content of an unreleased movie or unaired episode of a TV show. Basically, it's any information about an upcoming episode beyond what you can read in TV Guide. See the Netiquette section for "spoiler space" and how to use it. [2]

The following term dates to August 1, 2003 in the Sentinel fandom:

spoiler - reveals details about an episode. Anyone who makes a post containing a spoiler must include sufficient spoiler space at the top of the spoiling details to warn readers who haven't seen the episode yet, something like this:
E [3]

The following term dates to 2005 in the Lord of the Rings fandom:

Spoiler - Telling another something they did not know about a plot twist or surprise in the media. example: "Yeah, I really liked the character of Teebrin, it was so sad when he died like that!". You have just 'spoiled' the suprise of finding something out for the other person who has not seen/ read the media yet. When posting comments about a new movie/ book release it's polite to remember that not everyone in the world gets to see it at the same time. Some people like spoilers, some don't. Be respectful and put spoiler in your heading if it contains such.[4]


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