I Spoil Movies and I’m Proud of it

John Whipple • October 5, 2023

It’s movie night at your friend’s house and the theme is superheroes. Your friend recently lost a loved one in a car accident. Which movie should you watch?

Movie posters for Spider-Man Across the Universe, Thor Love and Thunder and Spider-Man Far From Home.

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  2. Thor: Love and Thunder
  3. Spider-Man: Far from Home

One of these movies includes a fatal car accident that will profoundly alter your friend’s mood. No one would blame you for picking the wrong one. JustWatch.com lists 225,513 titles available to stream. How could you possibly know which movies are safe and which will ruin your evening?

Rise of the Trigger Warning

I started DoesTheDogDie.com in 2011 to help people avoid movies where a dog dies. Soon after launching the site, I began receiving requests to track other questions like, “Does the cat die”, “Are there depictions of pregnancy” and yes, “Are there car crashes.” From then on, the number of requests only increased.

Graph showing the increasing number of new triggers requests over time.

The site currently tracks over 180 categories of “triggers” but the number of requests for new trigger categories has swelled to 2,413. Critics of DoesTheDogDie argue that spoiling major plot points makes it impossible to tell an impactful story. However, the data makes it obvious that there is an unmet need for very specific content warnings for all forms of entertainment. So why are people so willing to ruin a story by looking at spoilers?

Not Just Dogs

DoesTheDogDie was originally created for animal lovers. What it’s grown into is something else. Take a look at the top twenty most popular trigger categories:

  1. Does the dog die?
  2. Is someone sexually assaulted?
  3. Are animals abused?
  4. Does someone self-harm?
  5. Does a cat die?
  6. Does someone vomit?
  7. Does someone die by suicide?
  8. Does an animal die?
  9. Is there eye mutilation?
  10. Is a child abused?
  11. Are there jumpscares?
  12. Is there dog fighting?
  13. Is someone tortured?
  14. Are there incestuous relationships?
  15. Is there domestic violence?
  16. Is there sexual content?
  17. Does a kid die?
  18. Does a horse die?
  19. Is someone raped onscreen?
  20. Is there finger/toe mutilation?

It seems like ruining the story is the least of people’s concerns.

The reality is that terrible things happen to us all and we do our best to live one day at a time. Users of DoesTheDogDie are just trying to stay sane. In fact, I have been contacted by several mental health professionals saying that they routinely recommend DoesTheDogDie as a resource to their clients.

While researching another article I and came across an analysis of CDC statistics on U.S. gun deaths by The Pew Research Center. A somber 48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in 2021. Even more distressing was that more than half (54%) of the deaths were suicides. There’s a crisis in this country.

Being surprised by imagery of the things that haunt us is not entertainment, it’s a trigger for unhealthy thoughts. I’m proud to spoil movies because everyone deserves a chance to preserve their mental health.

Join the Cause

To date, DoesTheDogDie users have given over 10 million ratings across 16,000 movies, 4,000 TV shows, 1,800 books, and 1,700 video games. I routinely get emails thanking me for starting the site. People tell me they always check DoesTheDogDie before watching something so they can avoid becoming an emotional wreck.

DoesTheDogDie.com started with dogs but ended up helping humans. Proof again that dogs really are our best friends.