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'Glee,' 'Gossip Girl,' 'Alias': TV's best cliffhanger crashes

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Glee Quinn Car On My Way
Fox

If you haven’t seen last night’s Glee, then you better put this post aside, lest you stumble upon a SPOILER ALERT! If you already watched the winter finale, “On My Way,” then click through to discuss some other shows that have used a similar plot device to raise the stakes. So what tension-inducing turnabout did the Gleeks endure last night? It was…

Glee Quinn Car On My Way
Fox

…a shocking car crash involving Quinn! Ms. Fabray is just the latest in a long line of car accident cliffhangers that primetime soap writers have pulled out to up the ante before a hiatus. Below, we survey some of the crash-tastic highlights of the last 10 years.

For climactic collisions, one must start with The CW. Gossip Girl delivered a real doozy in December when Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) experienced the Princess Diana moment for which she never could have hoped. Having finally decided to would abandon her prince fiancé for Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), the flash of paparazzi distracted her limo driver and sent the star-crossed lovers careening into a Central Park barricade. (All to the tune of Florence + The Machine’s propulsive “Heartlines.”)

The damage: 4/10 (Nothing a doctor, a prayer, and endless back-and-forth couldn’t fix)

90210‘s Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes) has been affected by not one but two hit-and-runs — first when she drunk-drove straight over a homeless man in the season 1 finale, then during this season’s fall finale when her off-again boyfriend Liam (Matt Lanter) was the victim of a smash-and-dash. 

The damage: 5/10 (They both ended up in new relationships with people intimately involved in their accidents — gross)

It’s become somewhat of an inside joke among One Tree Hill fans that nearly every character has been in an automobile collision during the show’s nine seasons. Most dramatic was a car crash suffered by Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) on his way to break up with one girl for another. Three seasons later, time Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) threw herself in front of a car to save Nathan (James Lafferty) from his vengeful rival. More recently, Peyton (Hilarie Burton) found herself facing the same fate as her adopted mother when she ran a red light, was hit by another car, and threatened the life of her own unborn baby. Unlike her mom, Peyton survived.

The damage: 6/10 (Like I said, the show has lasted nine seasons… and it wasn’t by killing off its characters)

Probably the twistiest cliffhanger was seen in Ugly Betty‘s season 1 closer. Newly introduced transgender villain Alexis (Rebecca Romijn) was driving her drunk-and-drugged brother Daniel (Eric Mabius) to the hospital after a bitter confrontation. Her adrenaline — and the odometer — had spiked before she realized she was driving her estranged father’s car with severed brake lines. Why? Because Alexis had hired a hitman to stage her father’s death. Whoops! 

The damage: 7/10 (No loss of life, but bonus points for complexity)

Alias‘s fourth season ended on a stunning note when Vaughn (Michael Vartan) revealed just hours after getting engaged to Sydney (Jennifer Garner) that he had been harboring a secret identity and might be working against the CIA. Before he could explain himself fully, his car was slammed into silence. So much for that engagement party!

The damage: 8/10 (Talk about being blindsided)

Returning to The CW, the Winchester clan left viewers wringing their hands at the end of Supernatural‘s first season when both boys and their father were T-boned by a truck on the way to the hospital to save their demon-possessed father. Did I mention he had also been shot? By his own son? After a very long hiatus, John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had to make a deal with a demon to save the life of his son Dean (Jensen Ackles).

The damage: 9.5/10 (Buckle up for the bumpiest summer ever!)

Last but certainly not least, Glee‘s home network Fox also hosted an epic cliffhanger when The O.C.‘s Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) was blindsided by troublemaker Kevin Volchok (Cam Gigandet) on the season 3’s graduation night climax. Unlike the preceding wreckees, Marissa didn’t survive to see the next season. 

The damage: 10/10 (Totaled)

Will Quinn go the same way as Marissa, PopWatchers? I’m reserving my judgment on the damage inflicted by this plot development until her fate is decided. Until then, barrel down to the comments to tell us your favorite car crash cliffhanger!

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