In regard to fictional suspense, Carroll argues that the two logically opposed outcomes have a moral dimension. Carroll argues ‘In suspense fictions, the audience is provided, often aggressively, with a stake in one of the alternatives by having its moral sensibility drawn to prefer one of the uncertain outcomes’. So, to Carroll it isn’t the possibility that negative things have a good chance of happening which motivates us to feel suspense; it is the possibility of an immoral outcome materialising. Carroll argues for this by noting that ‘when it comes to fictions, suspense cannot be engendered simply by means of uncertainty; the reader must also be encouraged to form some preferences about the alternative outcomes’. Carroll believes that the way that suspense fiction gets viewers to engage is through the creation of two outcomes: one moral and the other immoral. In the case of Patriot Games, Carroll believes that suspense is created because the viewers are uncertain regarding whether the moral (the vanquishing of the terrorist threat) or immoral outcome (the death of Ryan’s family) will materialise.
To Carroll then, fictional suspense is engendered by the possibility of two logically opposed moral outcomes materializing. However, further to this Carroll believes that the immoral outcome must be perceived to be probable (and the moral outcome improbable). Carroll explains:
Suspense requires not only that consumers rate certain alternative outcomes to be moral and evil; suspense… also requires that the moral outcome be perceived to be a live but improbable outcome, or at least, no more probable than the evil outcome, whereas the evil outcome is generally far more probable than the moral one.
By probability Carroll means as presented in the fictional world. So when television shows like Doctor Who and Batman leave its viewers with a “cliff-hanger” ending they experience suspense if they take it that fictionally-speaking Batman or Doctor Who are in serious danger and that their demise (the immoral outcome) is probable and their escape is improbable. Another way to illustrate this point is to highlight that we wouldn’t experience suspense in a similar cliff-hanger situation if we had been given, through an earlier scene, knowledge (in the fiction) that the protagonist would survive unharmed. That is, if Batman was tied to a large conveyer-belt slowly dragging him into a large wood saw but we knew that inside the mechanism there was no blade and only Robin waiting to untie him we wouldn’t experience suspense, but rather some glee or humour from the dramatic irony of the situation. Therefore, to Carroll, suspense is engendered by uncertainty regarding an unfolding event which has two logically opposed possible outcomes (one moral the other immoral) of which the moral outcome appears improbable and the immoral outcome appears probable.
Carroll’s account of suspense appears to hold uncertainty to be the engine behind suspense. Once we are certain over the outcome of an unfolding scene we no longer feel suspense (it is replaced by some other emotion like pity or joy). Because Carroll appears to hold uncertainty to be an essential element of suspense he is under threat from the paradox of suspense. However, Carroll defends his account of suspense by arguing that rather than actual uncertainty all we need to feel suspense is entertained uncertainty. Carroll explains:
A presumption of the paradox is that the response of suspense on the part of audiences requires that they be uncertain of the relevant outcomes. I understand this to mean that audiences must believe that the relevant outcomes are uncertain or uncertain to them.
To Carroll, the paradox of suspense rests on the false assumption that suspense is only engendered if the viewers believe the outcome of a scene or situation is uncertain. Carroll argues that if we accept that mere thoughts, distinct from beliefs, can cause us to react emotionally we can resolve the paradox of suspense. To defend this claim Carroll first differentiates thoughts from beliefs. Carroll explains ‘To have a belief is to entertain a proposition assertively; to have a thought is to entertain it nonassertively’. With beliefs we are committed to the truth of a proposition whereas with thoughts we are not. So, if we believe in the existence of aliens we are committed to that being true, whereas if we think, or entertain nonassertively, that aliens do exist we are not committed to that being true. While Carroll holds that beliefs and thoughts are differentiated by a commitment (or not) to truth he asserts that thoughts are just as capable of arousing emotional responses. To illustrate this claim Carroll notes that if we are standing on the edge of a secure observation deck of a tall building we can, with just the thought that our footing is not safe, experience a pang of vertigo. According to Carroll merely entertaining the thought that we could fall is enough to produce in us the feeling of vertigo. In regard to fiction we do not react emotionally towards fiction and fictional characters because we believe the protagonist is in danger rather, we react emotionally towards fiction and fictional characters because thoughts are also capable of ‘causing the chill of fear in my bloodstream’. So, narrative fiction like Marley & Me (Dir., David Frankel, 2008) is able to move us to tears – not because we believe that the family shouldn’t put Marley down – but due to us entertaining the heartbreaking thought that Marley, who is so central to the fictional Grogan’s family life, might die. Similarly in Die Hard when John McClain is dangling perilously off the Nakatomi Plaza we experience suspense not because we believe he is in danger but rather because the mere thought McClain could fall to his brutal death (with the further consequence that the immoral terrorists will escape victorious) is enough for us to respond emotionally. To Carroll then just the thought that we, or fictional characters, are in danger or under threat from some harm is enough to cause us to react emotionally. Carroll holds that this ability of thoughts to cause us to respond emotionally can resolve the paradox of suspense. Carroll explains:
The audience may not believe that the relevant outcome is uncertain or improbable but, nevertheless, the audience may entertain the thought that the relevant outcome is uncertain or improbable. That is, even though we know otherwise, we may entertain (as unasserted) the proposition that a certain morally good outcome is uncertain or improbable.
So, Carroll argues that as thoughts are just as capable as beliefs in motivating emotional responses the mere thought that a protagonist is in danger can allow us to experience suspense on repeated viewings. That is, even after we have watched Die Hard four or five times, and know the outcome of every scene and every witty line, we may still feel suspense because entertaining in thought that it is uncertain whether McClain will survive (the morally good option) is enough to create suspense. To Carroll we experience suspense on repeated instances because the ability of thoughts to motivate emotional responses means we are able to experience suspense even though we know how a particular scene or scenario concludes. To Conclude, Carroll denies that actual uncertainty is required to experience suspense. According to Carroll all that is required is entertained uncertainty. The consequence being that as actual uncertainty is not necessarily to experience suspense Carroll’s account resolves the paradox of suspense.
 Noel Carroll, ‘The Paradox of Suspense’, in Peter Vorderer, Hans J. Wulff and Mike Friedrichsen (eds), Suspense: Conceptualizations, Theoretical Analyses, and Empirical Explorations, (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 71-91, p. 77.
Noel Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart, (London: Routledge, 1990), p. 80.
Carroll, ‘The Paradox of Suspense’, p. 85.
 According to Carroll, narrative fictions are well set to do this because they present us with a series of scenes to imagine. That is, Carroll holds that fictions guide us to entertain the thought that a certain protagonist is in danger and that an immoral outcome is likely (and ultimately to feel suspense etc)
 In that he rejects: 1. Suspense requires uncertainty