Over the past 25 years, Shortland Street's cliffhangers have become a New Zealand television tradition. 

The cliffhanger weeks are carefully planned in advance, so that several key storylines come to a climax at the end of every year. There's usually a major, unexpected plot twist, and a dramatic turn of events.

Let's take a look at some of the cliffhangers that have rocked Ferndale in the past.  


There was no break the the end of Shorty's first year, but the events at the end of 1992 were Chris discovering that Alison was pregnant and the nurses going on strike. 

Chris and Alison had been engaged briefly earlier in the year but he'd recently broken off the engagement. It took the estranged couple five months to get back together and plan their wedding.


The show's first cliffhanger took place in 1994. 

Jenny was shocked to discover she was pregnant. 

Hone faced a manslaughter charge after defending himself from a violent attacker. 

Michael McKenna announced he was taking a break from being the big boss at Shortland Street. 

Stuart shocked everyone by interrupting Lionel and Kirsty's fairy tale wedding. 


In the last week of 1995, a truck crashed into the hospital. Carmen was struck on the head. She seemed fine at first, but collapsed and died minutes after Guy proposed to her. 

Kirsty suffered amnesia from the accident, telling Lionel that she couldn't remember being in love with him. Their marriage was over.


Rangi and Rachel broke up for good in the 1996 finale. Rangi found himself trapped and helpless when a drunk Rachel locked him the garage with the car running. 

Nick found himself in danger when he discovered the truth about the company he was working for. 

Lionel and Kirsty decided to give their marriage another go, and the year ended with their kiss. 


By 1997, the Christmas Cliffhanger tradition was firmly in place. 

Donna and Rangi's romance came to a halt when they discovered they were brother and sister. 

Tiffany was rushed to hospital following a potentially fatal collapse. 

Caroline was sentenced to life imprisonment for Annabel's murder. As Kirsty and Lionel rushed back to support her, their plane crashed!



The 1998 cliffhanger revolved around the battle of rival villains, Oscar Henry and MacKenzie Choat. 

Oscar's bad deeds caught up with him. Fergus attacked him after discovering Oscar had raped Minnie, and Rachel exposed him for embezzling millions of dollars from the hospital. He was discovered in Ellen and David's dining room, apparently dead. 

Lionel prosposed to MacKenzie, unaware of her villainous activities. 

Ellen and Mike were looking for Minnie when their boat hit a reef and began to sink. Ellen hit her head trying to leap to safety.


1999 was a mixture of romance and heartache. 

Donna discovered Rangi wasn't her brother after all, and tried to make contact.

Rangi and his policewoman girlfriend, Janet, were on the scene at a road crash site. Janet was trapped under a truck, with Rangi by her side, when a second car crashed into the wreckage and sent everything up in flames. 


This year's cliffhanger saw the evil Eamon begging for his life as he hung off the side of a cliff. 

Chris Warner returned as the new head of Shortland Street. 

Angela and Nick's son Lucas was born, but Angela's cancer was spreading. 

Frank treated a murderer, and was later seen in the hospital car park, in a pool of his own blood!


Christmas week in 2001 started with Jack Hewitt's attempt to kill Chris. A scorned lover of Rachel's, Jack then kidnapped her and try to force her into marrying him. 

Nick declared his love for Waverly, and asked her to move away with him. 

Barb's Christmas party turned to tragedy when Marshall's illegal drug lab exploded. 


2002 saw Toni finally dump Adam, Waverly be diagnosed with breast cancer, and Shannon announce she was pregnant. 

Victor's nemesis Kurt Matakuare hunted him down, stabbing Adam with a scalpel in the process. 

Rachel's alcoholism took control and Chris ended their relationship. Rachel was driving drunk, talking on the phone to Chris when she had a serious car accident. 


At the end of 2003, the question on everyone's lips was "who called Geoff Greenlaw?" As Delphi prepared to leave Ferndale, she was horrified to discover that Dom was the murderer. 

Chris Warner's world crumbled, when Donna discovered his infidelity, and he was arrested for sexual molestation. 

At the Christmas party, Waverly fainted. It was because she was pregnant! 

Anne and Tama were trapped when a building collapsed around them. Nelson Copeland tried frantically to get Anne out. 


This year's final episode was a celebratory special, that screened on Christmas Day. 

It was Tama and Shannon's romantic beach wedding, attended by some old favourites. 

The hospital Social Club performed A Christmas Carol charity show.

The year ended with a combined wedding reception and wrap party at Coltrane. 


In 2005 Craig, Sarah, Judy and Maia formed a band to entertain their colleagues at the Christmas party. The chemistry between Craig and Sarah was clear as they sang together, despite them both dating different people at the time. 


This year, the Shortland Street staff headed to the beach to celebrate Christmas. 

 Baxter got in over his head when he accepted LSD from and already high Alice.

A friendly volleyball game turned personal, with TK and Craig both fighting for Sarah's affections. 


2007 was perhaps one of the biggest cliffhangers in Shortland Street history.

The Ferndale serial killer was finally revealed to be Joey Henderson. Joey cornered Tania, and prepared to strangle her. 

Chris finally tracked down his wife, Toni, who had previously fled with their children and Chris's brother Guy. 

As Chris prepared to take them home, Guy panicked and tried to bolt again. Driving erratically, he swerved to avoid a truck, leaving the car twisted and mangled on the side of the road. 

Chris was uncertain whether any of his family survived. 


2008 saw the escalation of Ethan Pierce's dastardly deeds. His connection with a dodgy medical supplies company was revealed. 

A gumnan. intent on revenge, cornered Ethan as he prepared to leave town. He was shot three times and left bleeding. 

Meanwhile, Tania and her gang-member boyfriend were abducted and spirited away to face an unknown fate. 


The cliffhanger in 2009 left audiences shocked and horrified. 

Kieran Mitchell discovered his brother was was planning on burning down the IV, so set out to stop him. Finding his car blocked in, Kieran jumped into Rachel's rental car and drove away, with a drunk, passed-out Rachel in the passenger seat. 

Momentarily distracted, Kieran knocked down Morgan Braithwaite who was wandering the countryside looking for Tania. 

Kieran pulled the comatose Rachel into the driver's seat, effectively framing her for Morgan's murder.



The 2010 cliffhanger was explosive, in more ways than one.

Scotty's battle with PTSD evolved into a more serious illness, leading him to believe his fiance Tracey was an impostor. He lost all control and tried to kill her.

While Evan Cooper was holed up in a student flat, he accidentally started a fire. Trying to escape, he fell down the stairs and knocked himself out.

Rachel was in the building too, when Callum arrived. She told him they were over, she was in love with Chris.

A heartbroken Callum accidentally locked Rachel inside as he left.

Chris noticed the flames from outside. He tried to get in and save Rachel, but was overcome by smoke.

Callum returned just in time to see the flames creeping towards a gas bottle. He heroically threw himself on top of Chris and Rachel to save them.  


In 2010, two of Shorty's most popular characters were thrown into jeopardy. 

Battling a serious drug addiction, Hunter McKay was persuaded to rob a chemist for supplies. His friends Daniel Potts and Jill Kingsbury tried to stop him.

Daniel was hit and knocked out with a crow bar, and Alice was stabbed by the panicked chemist as she tried to calm him. 

Meanwhile, teenage Ula discovered she was pregnant, and Chris Warner fell back into his old patterns, cheating on Rachel with an old flame. 


This cliffhanger revolved around the wedding of two favourites, Bella and Luke. Luke had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, but Bella was determined not to let it ruin their special day. 

Swept up by feelings of love and commitment, Wendy and Murray snuck away to reconfirm their own union. 

TK was woozy, not knowing he'd been drugged by Zac. He got into his car, and drove head-first into Wendy and Murray by accident. 


In 2013, attention-seeker Josh Gallagher met his demise.

Thriving on playing the hero, Josh rigged the LPG tanks at the Warner Bach to explode, right under the deck where everyone was celebrating.

Meanwhile, Vasa attacked her husband when she discovered he'd been lying again. She was then shocked to discover he'd been killed in a hit and run, and she was the prime suspect. 


Taking a different direction from past climaxes, this year's wrap up was all about romantic drama and entertainment. 

Shortland Street's finest men battled it out for the title of Mr. Ferndale. The likes of Vinnie, TK and Dallas all worked their stuff in front of a crowd of screaming fans. 

The final moments saw Nicole give birth to a baby boy, only to suffer a massive brain bleed moments after. 



In 2015, Shorty did it again, leaving the fate of several characters unconfirmed over the break. 

When a crazed gunman snuck into the hospital to seek revenge, his plan escalated and shots were fired all over the hospital. 

Several characters were injured, and Wendy Cooper lost her life. 

In the midst of the chaos, Drew was targeted by a second shooter and left for dead. The mystery of who shot Drew remained unsolved for half of the following year, until Victoria revealed her guilt in her final moments.


Evey thing came to a head in 2016, when TK's girlfriend Trina was kidnapped and beaten by her criminal ex-boyfriend Hayden.

Hayden then came after Kylie, seeking revenge on TK. The two men fought violently, to the death, and TK was shocked by the realisation that he'd killed a man. 

Meanwhile, Ali, Lucy and her father, Glen, were fleeing for their safety after getting tied up in the same crime circle.

They were run off the road by a mystery vehicle. Lucy escaped the wreckage, but to her horror, Glen and Ali were engulfed as the car went up in flames.