How much do you need to fear spoilers for your most eagerly anticipated TV shows and movies? It really depends on how susceptible to spoilers the movie or show is, and how much you care. We've classified 20 upcoming bits of science fiction entertainment, based on how likely you are to know what happens in them already, and how likely you are to care. There are no spoilers in this post, except for stuff that's been in trailers, promo materials or other publicity stuff.
We ranked each TV show and movie from 1 to 10 for how pre-spoiled they are, and how much people seem to care. For level of impossible-to-avoid spoilage, we looked at obvious factors: Is it based on a book that you may have already read? If so, how closely does it seem like it'll stick to the source material? Do the trailers give away tons of plot info? Has a particular character's appearance been announced everywhere? For the ranking of how much people seem to care, we pretty much just went with our guts.
How pre-spoiled is it? 10. It's based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave GIbbons that everybody has read. (Or if you haven't, we don't care about you.) The production has been releasing tons of official "production diaries" designed to convince everyone that it's very close to the original.
How much do people care? 10. Fans are asphyxiating on their tongues with anticipation for this one.
How pre-spoiled is it? 8. Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that a certain veteran Trek actor will be in this movie. It's also not really much of a secret that it features Kirk, Spock and the others as youngsters, getting their space legs in Starfleet. When the movie's first full-length trailer comes out, it'll probably sell that idea at the very least. So it's not much of a spoiler to say Kirk probably ends up being captain of the Enterprise.
How much do people care? 10. Dude, it's Star Trek, done by J.J. Abrams.
How pre-spoiled is it? 8, maybe. It's based on a comic book by Will Eisner, and director Frank Miller will probably try to stick pretty close to the source material in many ways. Plus, you pretty much know what to expect from a Miller story at this point. There will be hawt babes, there will be guttural monologues, a rough-and-tumble guy will get beaten within an inch of his life but keep going. There'll probably be some corrupt cops, too.
How much do people care? 6. Frank Miller still has a huge following, and comics fans still love The Spirit.
The Dark Knight
How pre-spoiled is it? 7. Well, it's based on the comics, so when you meet a character named Harvey Dent you may have an inkling how things will turn out for this guy. ( But unlike Watchmen, we'll forgive you for not having read the Batman canon.) The official production has put out literally 100 clips, trailers and TV spots that dole out tons of key plot points, but the last third of the movie remains a mystery.
How much do people care? 10. People were excited about this movie a year ago, and their excitement has been building to a massive rupture in the space-time continuum. So yeah.
The Day The Earth Stood Still
How pre-spoiled is it? 7. We're going to assume you at least know something about the original 1951 movie, and have seen bits of it. So you know there's an alien named Klaatu, and his robot named Gort. And there's a plucky woman and a kid. And everything stops dead at one point, hence the title. The official trailer shows a few twists, like Klaatu being interrogated. It's a safe bet the remake will deviate from the original in some ways, but we don't know how for sure.
How much do people care? 3. It's Keanu Reeves, who's not as fun as he was back in the day. Some people are lukewarm about yet another remake. But the trailer looked cool.
Life On Mars
How pre-spoiled is it? 7. It's based very closely on a cult British show that aired on BBC America, but you may not have seen it. And since the pilot went back for a total reshoot and rethink, it's entirely possible we'll end up with something completely different. At the very least, the trailers want you to know the basic storyline: a cop gets knocked on the head in 2007 and wakes up in 1972, still a cop. It's a good bet that there will be more twists and turns, since the British version only lasted like 16 episodes total.
How much do people care? 1. Either you've never heard of the British version, or you're outraged they're desecrating it. I haven't talked to anyone who is jazzed for this, even before it went into the same kind of behind-the-scenes chaos that hit the Bionic Woman remake last year.
How pre-spoiled is it? 6. It's very, very loosely based on a 1970s classic, so you may be able to guess there's a guy in a mask driving like a maniac. The trailers want you to know he's a prisoner who's forced to take part in a race that's broadcast online. Plus, it's an action movie starring Jason Statham. You pretty much know what's going to happen. Crazy stunts, punching, swearing, two and a half wisecracks, and maybe Statham will die at the end, like he did in Crank.
How much do people care? 4, maybe. It's got cars and shit blowing up. Statham is always fun to watch. If you don't think of it as a remake of Death Race - and really, you shouldn't - you can enjoy it for what it is.
How pre-spoiled is it? 6. It's another show based on a cult British TV show, which almost nobody in America has seen. And the trailers give away at least the basic setup: Rufus Sewell is a scientist whom the government calls in to deal with abuses of science. Things like dead clone babies. Marley Shelton is his sexy bodyguard, because every scientist needs one of those.
How much do people care? 6. People like Sewell and Shelton, and there are vague predictions this will be one of the fall's big hits, along with Fringe. But so far, I don't hear people freaking out about this show as much as they are about Fringe. Maybe because it's Jerry Bruckheimer instead of J.J. Abrams?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
How pre-spoiled is it? 6. You know Anakin and Obi-Wan can't die during this movie and TV series exploring the territory between Episodes II and III of the Star Wars prequels. Anybody who pops up for a split second in Episode III is safe. Only new character Ahsoka Tano has an unknown future. Also, the trailers for the August 15 theatrical release make some stuff clear: Jabba the Hutt's son has been kidnapped, and the Jedi have to find him. Meanwhile, the baddies want to use this to drive a wedge between the Jedi and the Hutts.
How much do people care? 4. People may go see the movie, because it's Star Wars. But it hasn't gotten the kind of buzz the live-action SW movies got.
How pre-spoiled is it? 5. It's not based on any source material. But there have been some TV promos that give away the fact that some people you might have thought were dead aren't really dead. Plus, dude, it's Heroes. Nobody is ever dead, the latest dystopian future never comes to pass, and the family drama never stops.
How much do people care? 5. I don't hear from too many people who are crawling out of their skin to see Sylar do his dystopian Daniel Day-Lewis impression again, but the show still has lots of goodwill.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
How pre-spoiled is it? 4. The TV spots make it clear that a certain character didn't get destroyed in the season finale, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Plus, if you've ever watched any television show ever, you'll know that nobody named "Connor" is ever going to die on this show. And they're probably not going to destroy the evil future-cyber-overlord Skynet any time soon either.
How much do people care? 5. It had a good first season, and people liked it, but I don't hear that many people shouting to the rooftops about it.
How pre-spoiled is it? 4. The first episode of J.J. Abrams' mad science/FBI show leaked online, and it seemed like a deliberate leak from the folks at Fox, to stir up excitement for the show. As with everything Abrams-related, there's a ton of viral marketing ramping up, which inadvertently will drop bits of info here and there. (There's something called the Pattern, and it's bad.) There have been officially released clips and trailers, which show that something bad happens to an airplane, and there's a crazy guy who dabbles in pseudo-science.
How much do people care? 8. It's early yet, but the show is starting to gather buzz. See above, re: Eleventh Hour. And again, it's J.J. Abrams, who is red-hot right now.
How pre-spoiled is it? 4. It's Chuck. You pretty much know what's going to happen in almost every episode: the loveable micro-nerd with a spy computer in his brain has a flash of spy knowledge that drops him in the deep end, plus his crush on Sarah the spy goes nowhere and his Buy More coworkers are wacky. On the other hand, the return of the supposedly dead Bryce shook things up a bit, and there are hints season two will shake things up more.
How much do people care? 5. People like this show, but there isn't a raucous fan club for it, that I'm aware of.
How pre-spoiled is it? 3. There's already a trailer and an officially released clip, which give a fair amount of the show's backstory away. Creator Joss Whedon would like people to go in understanding the show's basic format, because it makes his job easier. So you'll probably at least know that Echo (Eliza Dushku) is a mind-wiped puppet who can be programmed to have any personality or skillset for paying clients (or "pro bono" gigs), and an FBI agent is investigating this illegal operation. Any plot twists beyond the first half hour of the pilot are shrouded in mystery.
How much do people care? 9. It's Joss Whedon, man! The only reason it's not a 10 is because the premise seems to leave some people cold.
How pre-spoiled is it? 4. Well, it's been widely reported that the Justice League will be back, and Lex won't. And all the promo stuff highlights the Lois-and-Clark dynamic coming to the fore. Plus, Smallville just isn't that surprising a show any more.
How much do people care? 3, maybe. It's not as popular as it once was.
How pre-spoiled is it? 3, maybe. I mean, you know the basic format: it's a guy with a smart talking car, doing cool stuff and fighting baddies. But supposedly it's been totally revamped since the TV movie that aired at the start of the year, so there may be a whole new format. And if there's an arc other than "guy with car stops bad people," it's shrouded in mystery.
How much do people care? 2, maybe. The TV movie did surprisingly well, but nobody expects the ongoing series to set the world on fire.
How pre-spoiled is it? 2. The first trailer is coming out soon, maybe with The Dark Knight. It seems likely that you'll be expected to know that John Connor is in it as a grown-up, and it's after the apocalypse, and he's fighting Skynet. And Sam Worthington is a new character, who's mysterious. It's likely that by next May, you'll have seen a million clips from this film though.
How much do people care? 7. It's yet another Terminator film, plus it's directed by non-fave McG. But it's Christian Bale, and chances are he'll make it worth watching.
X-Files: I Want To Believe
How pre-spoiled is it? 2. Not very. There are trailers that let you know Billy Connolly is a nutty guy who runs through the ice and digs for stuff. Mulder and Scully have issues. The actual plot of the movie has been kept very tightly under wraps.
How much do people care? 8. It's not the height of X-Files mania any more, but there are still plenty of people clamoring for this film.
How pre-spoiled is it? 1. At this point, it's not back until 2009 anyway. We know that "Jeremy Bentham" has to wind up in a coffin at some point, and it just makes logical sense that the Oceanic six get back to the island at some point — or there wouldn't be much of a show. But almost no details have come out officially, and it's a show that works to surprise people.
How much do people care? 10. The most recent season was a return to form, and a lot of people who'd checked out seem to have checked back in, thanks to the "flash forwards" and stuff.
How pre-spoiled is it? 1. Like Lost, it's not coming back until 2009. We saw a little trailer with some scenes from the rest of the final season, but it was mostly pretty mystifying. We know that "all will be revealed," because we've been told that over and over.
How much do people care? 9. It's not quite the flawless thrill-ride it once was, but it's still pretty addictive. And the last couple of episodes before the break were stellar. Plus, people want answers, dammit!