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->''"Every question met with another question. Never an answer. Only 'why?'"''
-->-- '''Mohinder Suresh''', ''Series/{{Heroes}}''

''If the fans decide that the writing team will never resolve its plots, then they will probably stop following the work.''

It's said that no one ever went broke [[LowestCommonDenominator underestimating the taste of the viewing public]], but sometimes a show comes along that promises stories so complex and subtle that they'll make ''Literature/WarAndPeace'' look like "[[Literature/FrogAndToad Frog and Toad Are Friends]]". If it's [[TheProducerThinksOfEverything done right]], then this is catnip to [[TroperDemographics a certain sector of the viewing public]], who will often give such a show a surprisingly long time to set up its plot arcs before getting antsy for a resolution. The catch for the creator is that, the longer an arc runs and the more complicated it gets, the more awesome its payoff must be for it to feel satisfying to the fans. It's much easier for a writer to [[KudzuPlot keep kicking the can]] -- piling mysteries on top of mysteries -- rather than finish storylines. This trope was invoked in the British TV serial ''Series/TheSingingDetective'', in which mystery novelist Philip Marlowe asserts that fiction, like life, should be "all clues and no solutions."

That said, most audiences are savvy enough to recognize a framing device when they see one. Plots resting on a single DrivingQuestion (Where is [[Anime/SamuraiChamploo the Sunflower Samurai?]] Who is [[Series/HowIMetYourMother Mrs. Mosby?]]) are [[StatusQuoIsGod allowed some leeway]]; otherwise, the production team would be out of work and the story would end. The Chris Carter Effect happens when a work is wholly focused on twists or not building up to a satisfactory resolution, but on the other hand, the plotting sometimes becomes so bloated that there can no longer ''be'' a satisfactory resolution (see EndingAversion). Another contributing effect could be the unsatisfactory resolution of long running side-plots. At this point, even the most ardent fans will start to feel jerked around, or at the very least channel flip to something else.

Sometimes, the lack of a resolution is not the writers' fault: the network might have [[ScrewedByTheNetwork pulled the plug early]] or [[ExecutiveMeddling compromised the original vision]] by having it focus on more [[MerchandiseDriven merchandisable elements]] or to keep adding to or expanding on the author's intended story.

See also KudzuPlot and CommitmentAnxiety. Specifically, the combination of a KudzuPlot with WebcomicTime can have a similar effect on the audience, even when a finale is in the works, if the piece stretches out long enough that the fans lose track of the original premise of the series. ArcFatigue is this trope on a smaller scale, in which just a single story arc goes on for too long without any resolution rather than the entire series.

If fans are suspicious that such a show will even ''survive'' to tell its story and don't bother tuning in, that's TheFireflyEffect. Compare WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants.

[[TropeNamer Named for]] Creator/ChrisCarter, creator of ''Series/TheXFiles'',[[note]][[NamesTheSame (not the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman or the electronic music pioneer)]][[/note]] which some believe to be the godfather of this trope.

It has nothing to do the former Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver, Cris Carter. Note the missing "H" in the name of the latter.

Contrast FanDislikedExplanation.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime seems to have no real set goals for the characters in mind despite having heavy references to Pokemon mastery and the like. None of the characters have truly achieved any of their goals as of yet. Thus, many fans have given up on ever seeing any of the characters' stories really wrapped up at any point in the foreseeable future... of course, seeing as the target demographic is eight to twelve years old, it also doesn't seem to matter all that much, as [[FleetingDemographic some fans give up on it]] (and are replaced by younger fans) before this trope becomes much of an issue.
** Even region-long plot threads have been known to go either unaddressed or at least awkwardly addressed, especially after Sinnoh started. Team Plasma just seemingly vanished off the face of the earth, making fans wonder if planned episodes for them were cancelled. [[note]]Actually, they eventually did show up right after the Unova League for an arc which was resolved, but the two episodes they were meant to be introduced in were [[{{Retcon}} retconned]] away.[[/note]] Paul has been abusive to his Pokemon for all of Sinnoh, but his "comeuppance" is simply losing to Ash and walking away while people say rather nice things about him, given what they know about the guy. And both the Contest Champion and the Pokemon League champion are characters only introduced for those events, leaving all the rivals hanging as well as the protagonists. Sinnoh has the only major exception to date; [[spoiler:the contest champion is Zoey, who had been a significant rival and supporting cast member since the region began]].
** This has almost become an enforced trope in regards to Ash and his Pokemon. After Hoenn he almost never even mentions any Pokemon from prior regions besides Pikachu, meaning if any of those Pokemon or even most trainers from those regions had outstanding plots, they will never be resolved. Also, Ash will never win any Pokemon League, thus making an endgame for the series genuinely impossible. His best achievements in that area were the Battle Frontier which was, again, in the Hoenn series, and the Orange Islands, which was filler. The only way this can come to an end is if someone among the upper echelons who has control of the show gets everyone to abandon the status quo (''The First Movie'' was originally planned to be the finale for Ash and company, if that means anything).
** Any MacGuffin that Ash obtains that compels him to travel to a particular region, if it's not in a movie, will become a case of WhatHappenedToTheMouse as Ash and his companions get caught up in something else, and they'll eventually leave it with someone never to be seen again (such as the GS Ball) or it's completely wiped from existence or anyone's memory (Misty's bicycle). With the GS Ball, however, there was WordOfGod on it: The GS Ball originally was supposed to contain Celebi, but that plotline was reappropriated into one of the movies, so the producer decided to quietly remove the GS Ball from the story in hopes everyone would forget about it. And as for Misty's bike, right before Misty leaves the company of Ash and Brock in Johto, we ''finally'' get closure regarding it when the Nurse Joy from the Pokemon Center Ash went to in the second episode of the Kanto saga (where Misty cornered him and chewed him out for Pikachu frying her bike and it was actually pivotal to the episode as a ChekhovsGun) [[ThrowTheDogABone reveals she restored it to mint condition in the time Misty has been gone]] (because Misty abandoned it there in the Pokemon Center knowing it was no use to her anymore).
* ''Manga/DragonBall'': Subverted. Although the manga's creator, Akira Toriyama, has stated several times that he was just making stuff up as he wrote each chapter, he actually managed quite brilliantly to solve most of them as time went on instead of leaving them hanging. Heck, even the fact that Goku had a tail was explained, and Oolong even suggested the theory that Goku was a space alien a long time before Toriyama decided to make it so, giving the story unintentional foreshadowing.
* There is, of course, the [[LongRunners long-running]] ''Manga/DetectiveConan'', which hasn't progressed its "plot" by much in ''16 real-life years''...
** ... until the Bourbon arc goes out of its slow start and then the series features at least a bit of plot advancement in every single case. It is still debatable whether the plot is really advancing or not, but the reveals of the true identities of the newcomers, the gambit to [[spoiler:make the Black Organization believe Sherry is finally dead for real]], and [[spoiler:Bourbon getting directly interested in Conan for his crime-solving ability and connections to the FBI]], can certainly be called plot advancements.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': A big complaint within the fandom was that Tite Kubo seemed to have so many hanging plot threads that he didn't seem to be paying any attention to. The final arc began the process of tying up all dangling plot threads, character issues and back stories, even covering events the fandom had been convinced Tite Kubo had forgotten all about and addressing issues that the fandom had completely missed the original significance of. Unfortunately, due to the declining health of the author and Shonen Jump insisting a quick end, the manga was CutShort and it is likely that the unanswered questions the author didn't get to will never be resolved.
* ''Anime/TheLostVillage'' lost fans due to the slow start and the fact that the mystery didn't really seem to go anywhere, things get better after episode 7, but due to that slow start, some fans still think that the ending was rushed.
* Episode 4 of ''LightNovel/HumanityHasDeclined'' was theoretically a satire/parody of modern manga business practices, but mostly ended up addressing this. When the characters find themselves needing to make a popular manga, the local mangaka explains that the way to make a bestselling manga is not to craft a consistent plot, but to keep stringing viewers along with constant cliffhangers, since they won't realize the plot holes until the end. However, once the audience catches on, the popularity of their manga drops like a stone.
--> ''The greatest entertainer is the greatest swindler!''
* ''Manga/{{X1999}}'' remains on hold since 2003 with 18 volumes out of a planned 21 with a few chapters which is supposed to be for the 19th volume. Nanase Ohkawa, the lead writer of CLAMP, mentioned that they're still looking for a magazine willing to publish the remaining chapters. However, a decade had already passed and CLAMP put [[Manga/{{Gate7}} two]] [[Manga/LegalDrug more]] works on hold to work on ''Tsubasa World Chronicle'' and ''xxxHolic: Rei''. Fans of ''X/1999'' are not pleased with this and doubt that the manga will ever continue at this point. It doesn't help that several plot points have been left hanging for a decade such as Kamui's "true" wish and most importantly, who wins between the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth.
* ''Manga/XxxHolic'' started off very well developing the cast until it got too closely intertwined with ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'' which complicate things such as Watanuki's and Yuko's backstories. And then, [[spoiler:Yuko "dies" and Watanuki inherits the shop with a new purpose which is to wait for her]]. It doesn't help that the manga ended [[NoEnding without a resolution]]. Later, CLAMP continued the manga with ''xxxHolic: Rei'' which brought the return of Yuko as the shop owner with the possibility that Watanuki's stuck in a dream. However, readers find that the new manga brought nothing new to the story or that CLAMP is dragging the direction too long.
* ''LightNovel/TrinityBlood'' became this after Sunao Yoshida unexpectedly died in 2004. The novels were completed by his friend and like the anime, it only stop at [[spoiler:Ester's coronation as Queen of Albion]] while Abel and Ion traveled around the world to stop Cain. The manga is said to end at that part as well. So even if one would continue the series with the notes left by Yoshida, the resolution between Abel and the humans vs. Cain and the Rosenkreuz Orden remained unsolved because the last notes stopped at the final battle between the two brothers without the result.
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'' suffers from extreme Schedule Slip, and hasn't come close to resolving many plots as a result, such as the Phantom Troupe and the Dark Continent arc. The series began to inch forward in stunted segments due to constant {{Hiatus}}, making little gains until 2016 finally saw the ball rolling with several [[WhamEpisode bang-up chapters]] before another long drought. In 2017, despite another hiatus, the story finally gets down to business, because this is the first time in a ''long'' time that Yoshihiro Togashi has taken a hiatus and promised to '''come back''' at a set return date and has found a nervous rhythm that is giving the story momentum.
* ''VisualNovel/DiabolikLovers'' went two seasons with no resolved sexual tension and no new progressions in the plot, unless one counts the plethora of new, entirely unforeshadowed characters that show up in the second finale and have absolutely no relation to the preexisting characters. [[DrivingQuestion Who will the new Adam be?]] You can be sure the viewers don't know.
* ''Manga/{{Nana}}'' was going on at a steady pace, until Ai Yazawa's leave due to disease, which put the series in hiatus. That was in 2009. She recovered the following year, but seven years later, she's yet to pick up the story and resolve details such as, who is really the father of Hachi's daughter, whether she will stay with Takumi or break up with him[[note]]about this, the only thing that is known is that, while not divorced (yet), Hachi and Takumi are estranged[[/note]], whether someone will find Nana O. in Europe or she will get in touch with her friends first, and so on.
* ''Anime/DigimonAdventureTri'' is this in regards to its overall plot points. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the burning questions are answered slowly across six movies. The first one being released in 2015 and its finale being released around 2018. Not only that, but the overall answer, especially early on, is either "we don't know" or never brought up. Perhaps the most JustForFun/{{egregious}} plot point of this is the fate of the 02 kids, as no one tends to question what happened to them, even when one of them shows up, [[spoiler:only for it to be revealed to be a disguise for their old mentor turned evil]]. As of Movie 5, we still don't know what happened to the kids.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Many of the plot elements related to the Spider-Totem introduced by Creator/JMichaelStraczynski during his run on ''{{ComicBook/SpiderMan}}'' from 2001 to 2007 gave readers a lot of doubletalk and mystical mumbo-jumbo, but very little in the way of concrete resolution, like exactly why Peter had to "evolve", why one cosmic entity wanted to bring him back from the dead while another thought he should stay deceased, the mysterious entities that resurrected Mysterio and Miss Arrow and what they wanted with Peter, etc. None of this was ever really explained.
** A degree of resolution was achieved in the ComicBook/SpiderVerse storyline, which explained the origins of the Inheritors, and had Spider-Man and his allies defeat them.
* ComicBook/{{The Clone Saga}}. Originally, the story was supposed to wrap up after a few months, after an already complicated narrative. However, due to the [[ExecutiveMeddling efforts]] of Marvel executives, the story was extended for another year, with plot twists being reversed constantly, and supposedly dead characters appearing, reappearing and then dying anticlimactically. The story finally limped to its conclusion with another plot twist that had almost nothing to do with most of the events that proceeded it ([[spoiler:ComicBook/NormanOsborn was back]]). It should be noted that, when the saga started, it was Marvel's highest-selling group of books. The act of stretching it to the limit for so long caused sales to slump, and fans turned away in droves.
* Most of the plots in the book during "Spider-Man's" ''ComicBook/BrandNewDay'' storyline essentially went nowhere. Mysteries such as who was Jackpot, what Mr. Negative was going to do with Peter's blood, what happened to erase Peter's memories, why Harry was alive, and more were given an anti-climactic resolution, dragged out for several years, or worse, both. The explanation for Harry Osborn's return was that the goblin serum revived him, which made no sense since it was the thing that killed him in the first place. Jackpot was a character that the character's never met before and was killed off during the same story. Mysteries such as the secret to how Peter's identity was made a secret again were resolved in a manner that most of the audience figured out already, leading many to question why it was kept a secret for three years. After a while, it became clear that the writers had no real major arc planned for the character and his mythos, and were just making it up as they went along.
* ''ComicBook/StrangersInParadise'' featured a series of flash-forwards that never actually resolved or were explained. Writer Terry Moore went so far as to include not one but TWO fake-out reboots (one in which the comic's story turned out to be a book a new character was writing and another in which it turned out to all be a dream) which were then immediately discarded the very next issue. Eventually the last third of the series sort-of righted itself and all of the immediate conflicts were tied up by the end, but much of the first half of the run remains unexplained.
* ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'' had a problem with this during the Penders/Bollers era. Everyone and their mother had some super-extraordinary destiny that they must fulfill (Knuckles and the mysterious dream his dad Locke had, Tails and the Great Harmony, Sally and whatever the Source wanted with her, etc.), but everyone seemed to forget that this was ''Sonic's'' comic and whenever he showed up, he was incredibly inefficient at being a hero - half of the time, he was ''grounded'' for one reason or another. It got to the point where the two head writers were at each other's throats and were forced off the title, Ian Flynn being forced to take over.
* The entirety of Scott Lobdell's run on ''ComicBook/TeenTitans'' had this problem. He'd introduce plot threads, most of which would go nowhere. Those that actually went somewhere led into ''more'' questions, which led into ''more'' questions. The linchpin of his entire run was the villain Harvest, a guy from the future who knew how to plan ahead for everything, and was doing what was best for humanity and was this DarkMessiah figure and... turned out to be a generic villain whose plans made no sense. Skitter was called away in the middle of a crossover... and returns over a year later without that plot thread amounting to anything. Basically everything that wasn't a self-contained arc was being made up as it went along.
* Creator/BrianKVaughan's creator-owned long runners ''ComicBook/YTheLastMan'' and ''ComicBook/ExMachina'' both suffered these, especially Y, which had a lot of the questions brought up during the run unanswered. Vaughan later admitted he believes that since this is how real life works (not all questions are answered) that he chooses to write this way. He also doesn't believe in [[DownerEnding happy endings.]]

* The ''Franchise/{{Saw}}'' series is a rare example of a film franchise running into this, which started once it was [[FranchiseZombie taken out of the hands of its creators]] from [[Film/SawIV the fourth film]] onward. As new twists were thrown into the overarching story, it became less about a madman who forces people into {{Life or Limb Decision}}s in order to prove a moral point, and more about the [[KudzuPlot increasingly convoluted]] machinations of the people fighting over that man's VillainousLegacy. Eventually, many fans had given up on following the plot and [[JustHereForGodzilla were just there for the over-the-top gore effects]]. Once diminishing box-office returns started setting in with the later films, the writers finally started to make an effort in tying off the many loose threads, but the ultimate resolution proved [[BrokenBase fairly divisive]].
* The hasty attempt to manufacture a SharedUniverse in the form of the Franchise/DCExtendedUniverse without doing the requisite heavy-lifting, the sudden abrupt shifts and changes in reaction to the complaints of the preceding one, and shameless chasing after trends has made more than a few fans skeptical or outright dismissive of any of DC[=/=]WB's long-term plans and commitments. The SequelHook set up in ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' (the Knightmare sequence, the Darkseid nods, Flash's warnings) mostly became {{aborted arc}}s, and most of ''Film/{{Justice League|2017}}'' {{retcon}}ned parts of ''Batman v Superman''. Even Creator/GalGadot claimed that the set-up that her character walked away from mankind was a mistake and that ''Film/WonderWoman2017'' more or less retcons that away, as would the sequels of that film going forward.

* Robert Jordan's {{Doorstopper}} series ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' spent 11 books spinning out a KudzuPlot, and Jordan himself seemed adamantly opposed to resolving any plot threads before the 12th and final book. Despite this, he stated that he would conclude the series with book 12 "whether it's 15,000 pages, Tor has to invent a new binding system, or it comes with its own library cart," since it was very unlikely that he could write a coherent thirteenth book. This turned out to be true, but for other reasons than he expected: AuthorExistenceFailure. Creator/BrandonSanderson, the writer tapped to finish the series in Jordan's stead, eventually decided that resolving every arc properly would take no less than ''[[http://www.brandonsanderson.com/article/56/Splitting-AMOL three]]'' books. It did. Three, huge, ''massive'' books.[[note]]Sanderson did intend to publish the ending as a single book, but the publishers persuaded him to split it. Nobody wanted to experiment with binding, and retailers don't like boxed sets. Besides, [[MoneyDearBoy three separate books are more profitable than one]].[[/note]]
* Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler deliberately exploited this. The theme at the end of ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' is that not every mystery could easily be solved, not every question could easily be answered, and there are many mysteries in the world that simply will never get solved. Handler claims this was his intent from book one. Thus the final book "The End" [[NoEnding is anything but]], though it does answer the series' most important question: [[spoiler:that Beatrice was the Baudelaires' mother.]]
* ''Literature/{{Remnants}}'' by Creator/KAApplegate. It spends the first ten or so books setting up a bunch of mysteries (why do some of the humans have superpowers now? What is the Ancient Enemy, and how is it connected to Billy and/or the Troika? What happened to the missing five humans?), but promptly switches to basically a new plot for the last few books, with ''none'' of the questions answered. Granted, the plotline at the end was pretty good and ''somewhat'' more coherent until the GainaxEnding... but it's like the first ten books were wasted with a destination of ''[[StealthPun nowhere.]]''
* ''Literature/{{Everworld}}'', by the same author as ''Remnants'', is just as bad. Each successive book begins an entirely new plot and never goes back to answer any of the questions raised along the plot. The series [[ScrewedByTheNetwork doesn't even have a concluding novel]]; the twelfth ends with the two primary antagonists ([[BigBad Ka Anor]] and [[BlackShirt the]] [[PsychoForHire Sennites]]) still alive and well after Senna herself gets [[spoiler: [[DroppedABridgeOnHim killed off suddenly]]]], and does nothing to explain the myriad questions raised over the course of the series, such as the identity of the watcher in the void.
* Lets go for the Trifecta. ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' does it too. While the main plot is technically resolved, it's still got EndingAversion. Plus, the Ellimist/Crayak stuff is still on-going, some of the info in ''Megamorphs'' is never brought up again, some of the pre-finale stuff comes out of the blue. Oh, and the ending introduces a new arc. Plus, there's that group of 'friendly' Yeerks, Ax's desire to avenge his brother...
* ''Literature/TheNeverendingStory'' intentionally invokes this trope by starting many more story arcs than it intends to finish. One by one, they are dropped off with "that is another story, and shall be told, another time". [[spoiler:This is also the last line at the end of the book itself]]. Of course, given [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the name]]...
** Also used as a plot device [[spoiler:as Bastian is told by the Water of Life that AURYN will not permit him to leave Fantastica until he's finished all the stories that he started. Atreyu and Falcor agree to do this in his stead.]]
* This is beginning to happen with George R.R. Martin's ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. The series was supposed to be a trilogy, [[TrilogyCreep but has ballooned to at least seven books]]. The first three are very well written and gripping whereas the fourth is slower paced and focuses mostly on sideplots with hardly any of the series' main protagonists featuring. The massively delayed fifth gets things on track a little bit (no doubt due to fan favourites like Tyrion and Jon returning) but it's still very slow and Martin doesn't even manage to fit in the planned climax of the book.
** Some fans are no longer convinced that Martin even knows how the series is going to end due to this slowed pace, but in all fairness the meanderings of the last two books are because of them being designed to fill in a five-year TimeSkip that was eventually scrapped. It does seem from preview chapters that book 6 will be closer in pace to the original books.
** Martin is aware of this fear to an extent. On several occasions he's mentioned that he does know the broad-strokes of the overall story's events and more importantly has known the ending from the outset. Actually getting there however became more complicated than he realised. He's also stated that there will be no more new POV characters in future books. And half-jokingly claims that he needs to start [[AnyoneCanDie killing off]] more characters in ''The Winds of Winter''.
** Even worse, it's hard to ''follow'' the plot of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'': it's a vicious DeconstructorFleet and almost always breaks genre conventions. While this makes for an exciting read, it also means that nobody has any idea what the final book will be like, and only the vaguest idea of what the overall MythArc even ''is''. Add in the absolutely shameless AnyoneCanDie approach to the series, with books 1, 3 and 5 involving the deaths of major fan favorites, and Martin has a ''lot'' of DarknessInducedAudienceApathy to fight off if he wants to still have a fanbase for the seventh and (supposedly) final book.
* ''Literature/MaximumRide'' suffers heavily from this, though it doesn't really become apparent until ''Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports''. As what was intended as the final book of a trilogy, you'd expect it to finally start resolving plot arcs, but instead it just keeps throwing in wackier and wackier twists while deliberately avoiding answering any questions.

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheXFiles'':
** [[TropeNamer Named for]] Chris Carter, creator of ''Series/TheXFiles''. For the first half of [[TheNineties the 1990s]], the fans were convinced that Carter had plotted an elaborate and minutely thought-out web of deceit and lies for his FBI agents to unravel. Forests of EpilepticTrees sprouted around every new tantalizing hint revealed. No reference was too obscure for devoted X-Philes, who cheerfully threw themselves into history, folklore, myth, science, or any other branch of human knowledge that seemed like it might shed some light on the story. By mid-decade, though, the MythArc story had churned along for years without really answering any of the questions raised. It had, in fact, mutated into a dense KudzuPlot, and fans began to suspect that there ''was'' no intricately plotted story - he'd just been making it all up as he went along. (Carter eventually confirmed this suspicion.) Fans were irritated by the resolutions to side plots that were long running, such as the fate of Mulder's sister--[[spoiler: turns out she was spirited away by the fairies]]! This eventually went on into the finale which made promises of resolving the MythArc which not only fails to do so but also in the last ten minutes presents a teaser for an alien invasion set to occur in 2012 (which to this day looks like it may never be resolved at all).
** When the series was given an [[UnCancelled unexpected revival]] in 2016, it didn't take this trope long to hit it again. The first episode begins with a massive RetCon that makes a hash of a lot of the previous mythology, [[spoiler: aliens not having much interaction with humanity at all, and most of their supposed crimes being the work of humans using stolen alien technology--despite the numerous aliens who've been on the show before]]. Most of the season was filler, and the season finale ends on a CliffHanger, despite another season not being greenlit at that point and the principal actors not signed on for more. Fans who were hoping to finally get some closure after years of waiting were left sorely disappointed; at best, they might finally get a resolution in another few years, at worst, the show gets cancelled again and they're right back to where they started.
* Also by Chris Carter, ''Series/{{Millennium}}'' is a good example of this. The show got increasingly bizarre and difficult to follow as it went on, and the end of the third (and final) season provided no closure at all. Each season had a different show runner(s), each with a ''very'' different idea of what the show should be (Are Frank Black's flashes simply a visualization of his deductive skills or psychic visions? What is the Millennium group's agenda?) and [[ProtectionFromEditors no one from above willing to set boundaries]]. After the cancellation, the whole thing was put into the laps of ''The X-Files'' team. This resulted in a FullyAbsorbedFinale for ''Series/{{Millennium}}'' within ''Series/TheXFiles'' that also failed to resolve anything.
* This trope is a suspected contributor to the failure of ''X-Files'' spinoff ''Series/TheLoneGunmen''.
* Carter's Amazon series ''The After'' was ultimately called off because of this trope. Amazon wanted a "show bible" before the first season was made, Carter preferred to make it up as he went along.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}''. At any given time, exactly half of its fanbase believed that the show's creators were making the next ''Series/TwinPeaks'' and had no idea what endgame they desired, while the other half argued that the threads were finally coming together, and a satisfactory revelation was all but guaranteed. In the end, it's a matter of opinion how it all turned out. The most diplomatic way to phrase it would be to say that there were two groups of fans: those who thought it was about the characters, and those who thought it was about [[MythArc the plot and mythology]]. The former seem to have generally been pleased by the ending, while the latter were generally very upset and firm believers that this trope was in effect. Generally, science fiction can have an open ending as long as the fates of the most interesting characters are resolved. Unfortunately, on ''Series/{{Lost}}'', a large chunk thought the island was the most interesting character.
* In general, the works of Creator/JJAbrams often have this problem. Website/{{Cracked}} put it best: "A creative visionary and genius... for approximately two seasons, after which point he cracks, panics and starts [[AWizardDidIt rambling on about magic]] instead of writing a coherent plotline." To a certain degree, even ''Series/{{Felicity}}'' fell prey to this, as did ''Series/{{Alias}}''. Luckily it seems that ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' is averting this trope with the "Parallel Universe"-arc that's been the series' main plot thread since the end of season 1 being given a very emotional bittersweet ending towards the end of Season 4, which also answered the mystery of the Observers, [[spoiler: they're the human race from the future]]. Season 5 introduced a new storyline [[spoiler: in the form of the Observer occupation of present day Earth]] which is moving at a pretty fast pace, answering questions as it drops more (but less than it answered). It's been doing fine so far and it might help that a fair number of the episodes are already borderline ramblings about magic.
** Walter Bishop did quote ClarkesThirdLaw word for word in response to a particularly bizarre case. There [[ItRunsOnNonsensoleum aren't really any limits]] set for ''Fringe'' to break, though.
** WordOfGod is that they did have an ending and a way to get there, plotted over several seasons. However, said ending could be adjusted and deployed on short notice in case they didn't get as many seasons as they planned for; this is obvious given the sheer pacing of Season 5's storyline.
* Demonstrated failure of ''Series/TwinPeaks''. But really, what did they expect from Creator/DavidLynch? Writer and committed Lynch fan David Foster Wallace opined in an essay that Season 2 was some of the best television he'd ever watched, in that it was some of the ''worst'' television he'd ever watched. If you watch it all in a row, it's pretty clear that it's one long nervous breakdown on the part of Lynch as he never intended the mystery of Laura Palmer's murder to be solved, with the series intended to be more of an exploration of the characters. ExecutiveMeddling forced him to solve the mystery mid-Season 2, which left him with literally no idea where to go from there and hence he opted to work on other projects.
** As a result, Lynch was hardly involved with the rest of Season 2 — he didn't write or direct any of the next 14 episodes and returned only to direct the finale. There's a consensus among ''Twin Peaks'' fans that the episodes directed by Lynch are the best of the series.
** Basically, it seems to be an inversion of this trope: a show's downfall caused by the resolution of a plot thread that was never intended to be solved. ''Twin Peaks'' had a KudzuPlot driven by a DrivingQuestion that was mistaken by ABC executives to be this, and the forced closing of plotlines led to SeasonalRot and cancellation.
** The series did eventually get a concluding season ''25 years'' later with a set number of episodes.
* ''Series/PrettyLittleLiars'' used this to sustain itself. Every time someone looked like they might be the stalker of the girls - known only as A - they inevitably turned out not to be and old characters were brought back to deepen the web. By the fifth season, fans were growing tired that A was still running rings around the main characters and progression was made in the sixth season.
* Perhaps the ultimate example is ''Series/ThePrisoner1967'', which posed lots of ongoing questions — Who runs the Village? Why did Number Six resign? Who is Number One? — but ended with an [[MindScrew utterly incomprehensible]] GrandFinale [[GainaxEnding that answered none of them]].
** The series did a sequel via the "Shattered Visage" graphic novel that did at least attempt to bring closure to Number Six. It's apparently more or less official, as the famously cranky Patrick [=McGoohan=] "didn't hate" the plot.
* Strictly speaking, ''Series/ThePretender'' never resolved any of its over-arching plots. The show creators joked that a detailed master plan for the narrative was hidden "inside the pickle jar" and buried in their backyard, but in actuality the writing sessions were becoming increasingly devoted to impromptu games of poker among the staff. This may explain why, though the exact circumstances and reason for series protagonist Jarod's abduction as a child remained unclear, nearly every character in the show was revealed to have [[LukeIMightBeYourFather uncertain parentage]] or [[LongLostSibling a long-lost relative]]. Following the [[CutShort unintentional finale]], two successive {{Made For TV Movie}}s, both of which ended with {{Cliff Hanger}}s, introduced more questions than answers.
* This was pretty much what got ''Series/TheFortyFourHundred'' canceled. The long-awaited elaboration of the fabled 'Future People' was half-answered very late in the show, but then about twice as many new questions cropped up. The cancellation then abruptly cut off any hope of the rest of it being resolved. Damn shame, really.
* The first season of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' was hailed as great, tightly-plotted and well-written storytelling, with a clear goal in mind. Its second and third seasons, though, were prime examples of the Chris Carter effect in action — the writing team flailing around, directionless, at war with its own continuity — and it only started to re-establish its arc as of Volume 4. Unfortunately, the writers had envisioned each "volume" to be about a different set of heroes with a different set of problems to solve, but fans just wanted more cheerleader beheadings.
** The fans actually wanted a resolution, but it's said that the writers got [[PanderingToTheBase too focused on giving into the demands of whatever the message board consensus was this week]] and lost track of, y'know, the plot. And it got them {{Cancelled}}.
** In their defense in regards to season two, they had planned a long, elaborate 2-volume (i.e. season-long) arc in which all the seemingly-loose plot threads would have come together. In the original ending of volume two, [[spoiler: Peter wouldn't have caught the virus vial, and it would have been let loose in Odessa, causing the pandemic seen in Out of Time. Volume Three would have been about the pandemic. Claire's blood's healing properties were going to be used to heal virus victims, and resident [[TheScrappy Scrappy]] Maya would have [[MissedTheCall used her powers to absorb the virus and sacrifice herself to save the world]]]]. Unfortunately, the writer's strike cut the season in half, and instead of waiting an undetermined amount of time to resolve plots new viewers wouldn't be up to date on, they chose to wrap up the season and abandon all planned story arcs. This explains why the plot seems muddled and full of red herrings; they quite literally aborted entire character arcs, causing most of the established developments in season 2 to become redundant.
* ''Series/BurnNotice'' based itself on there being some sort of big GovernmentConspiracy that was behind Michael getting fired from the CIA. Each season does manage to shake up the MythArc, it goes from everything being a complete mystery to him having a love/hate relationship with the organization that burned and eventually gathering evidence to bring to the CIA that they actually exist and work with them to start dismantling it. The issue fans have with the status quo is built on four parts:
## The show's deliberately set and filmed in Miami (trying to avoid CaliforniaDoubling) and thus Michael can't do too much globetrotting,
## Each episode is consistently split in half between an episodic story and a MythArc story that makes for a rather detached A and B story,
## The episodic story often becomes more about the accent Michael has to use,
## ... And even the myth arc story is organized as Michael following a trail of bread crumbs that leads him to the big twist of the season.
** Still, Seasons 5-6 managed to really change up the WeHelpTheHelpless monotone of the episodic story and managed to merge both the myth arc and episodic plots as working together.
* ''Series/DesperateHousewives'' features a single ongoing mystery for every season which is solved in the season finale. There's widespread suspicion among the fanbase that the solution to season four's mystery was changed halfway through after Marc Cherry decided he wanted to keep Dana Delany (one of his favorite actresses and the original choice for regular character Bree) on the show.
* The rebooted ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' was accused of this on several occasions — the effect can be traced back as far as Season 3, when the decision to largely abandon the show's carefully crafted MythArc in favor of a series of standalone episodes almost resulted in its cancellation (and eventual pushback from the producers to get the plot back on track). Still, the showrunners were open about the fact that [[WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants they were mostly making things up as they went along]]. A series of open questions and mysteries were raised over the length of the show, and ended with [[HandWave handwaving]] and the revelation that [[spoiler:[[DeusExMachina God was responsible for many of the mysteries, and they may have been being literal in this]]]]. As a result of the series bible's publication after the show finished airing, fans now know that none of the plot points introduced in Season 3, such as the Final Five and Starbuck's death/resurrection, were things the producers were aware of at all during the first two seasons — they'd exhausted their stockpile of potential plotlines.
** The "Final Five Cylons" debacle, which dominated the show since Season 3 began. Realizing that the gradual reveal of the promised "Twelve Cylon models" was boring, the writers broke their own established rules by making major recurring characters Cylons who logically couldn't be. One of them was married and had fathered a child; the cardinal rule about Cylons until then was that they're sterile. They handwaved it off by ham-fistedly retconning that his wife had an affair (after they dropped a bridge on her). To make it worse, they had already revealed that one of the Cylons was "Model Number Eight", and 8 + 5 = 13, not 12. They had to invent a backstory that there used to be a Number Seven model, but he got killed. The ''BSG'' writers didn't just apply MagicAIsMagicA to their work in the end; they fell back onto "divine intervention" to explain plot twists which, if you analyzed them objectively, didn't add up.
** While [[Series/BattlestarGalactica1978 the original series]] was sometimes viewed negatively by fans of the new show, most of the best-loved plot elements were re-imagined versions of original series episodes and plotlines. The show started meandering and falling apart precisely when the writers ran out of material and had to begin coming up with a metaplot of their own.
** The "Death of Starbuck" ruse: in the first two seasons, the writers often boasted that they respected the intelligence of their audience and didn't walk them through plot points. At the end of Season 3, with ratings dropping and the writers running out of ideas, they pretended to kill off Starbuck. Even in real life, the writers and cast were ordered to act like Creator/KateeSackhoff left the show (Sackhoff was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and they did not know how long she will be gone for). The episode she was killed in bizarrely and obviously set up new plot points for her. She wasn't randomly shot or captured; she randomly flew into a storm due to a newly revealed religious plotline. It was confusing even then. Starbuck's "dramatic surprise return" was therefore predictable; writers who once said that they respected the audience's intelligence were now stooping to comic book deaths, though they insisted that this was a stroke of genius. All of this was supposedly related to Starbuck's "destiny", but they never fully explained (even in the finale) why Starbuck had to die and literally be resurrected by the Gods to lead the Fleet to Earth.
** Made worse by the fact that the intro crawl text assures viewers that the Cylons "have a plan" which explains their seemingly bizarre and illogical actions. Ron Moore openly admitted after the finale, word for word, that David Eick had called him up on the phone and said "it will be a great way to hook viewers in Season 1 if we put 'the Cylons have a Plan' into the opening credits." Ron was hesitant at first, and actually said back into the phone "but there is no frakking Cylon Plan!" They had never sketched out the motivations, goals, or even full backstory and social structure of the Cylons. WordOfGod... there ''never was'' a "Cylon Plan", and they were lying the entire time. Eventually, the whole thing is hand-waved when a character says "plans change". After the show was canned, a TV movie called "The Plan" finally revealed the plan. It was a desperate attempt to ''retcon'' an explanation, which gave the simple answer "the Cylon Plan was KillAllHumans but it didn't work".
** There was also "the secret of the opera house", something that was being hinted at being something of great significance since season 1. In the finale, it takes up about 5 minutes to resolve, has little to do with any opera house at all, and is utterly pointless. It involves a 2 minute kidnapping of a character who was just rescued from a much longer and bigger kidnapping, and a cease fire between the Cylons and Humans that lasts all of two minutes before shit hits the fan, and the kidnapper is simply shot. So the whole plot ends with a kidnappee being rescued and the Cylons shooting at Galactica. Which is the exactly the situation before this all-important resolution of the opera house plotline. You could have fallen asleep during the resolution and you wouldn't have missed a thing.
* The pilot of ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' left the audience wondering who the shadowy individual directing new bad guys the Suliban was. At the end of the series, they're still wondering and apparently no-one behind the scenes gave it much thought either. Instead of answering the questions the Temporal Cold War threw up or explaining characters' motivations, the show instead introduced more and more factions, their motives and goals just as nebulous as the ones that were already there. When a new showrunner took over for the beginning of Season 4, he introduced yet ''another'' new faction who were apparently the worst of the lot, blew them up and announced that the war was over and indeed had never happened (even though several events that were a direct result of the war clearly still had). Uh-huh?
** Then again, a lot of people were just happy to see Temporal Cold War go away forever, regardless of whether or not it was resolved properly.
** Even after the show's cancellation, the identity of "Future Guy" remained muddled. Rick Berman claimed that they had never established his identity, while Manny Coto and Brannon Braga said he was probably a Romulan, only for Braga to later go back on that claim he had always intended him to be Archer. Meanwhile, the EU novels took his character in a different direction than any of those stated possibilities, making him Jamran Harnoth, the leader of a eugenics movement who was also using time travel to ensure his own existence (being of Suliban, Tadaran, ''and'' Romulan descent).
** As evidence that even the crew had no idea who Future Guy was, the term "Future Guy" - which the crew themselves used - was taken from Website/SFDebris' reviews. Instead of even ''having a name'' for the main villain, they used a title taken from ''a guy being sarcastic about the show''.
* ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'' on Creator/{{HBO}} created this in one scene. Early in the show, one of the characters has a vision of Ben and Sofie kissing as a nuclear warhead detonates in the background. Since the show took some pains to ground itself in the real timeline, this would put the vision in 1945. But the show was set in 19'''3'''5, and the pace of the plot meant that some fans immediately concluded that it'd never pay off. They were right. Knauf had planned a five-year time skip between Seasons 2 and 3, which would have brought the show to 1940, with further seasons to bridge the rest of the gap between then and the Trinity test, but then the show got canned.
* The 1980s ''Series/WarOfTheWorlds'' series was based on the idea of humans discovering that the aliens from the original 1953 invasion had survived and were now resistant to radiation. Season 1, while obviously lacking in special effects, built up a number of story arcs that were intended to be long-term: the humans working to discover the identities of the aliens and out them to the world, allies which made guest appearances (and then promised to come back in the future), an alien "invasion force" that was set to arrive in just a couple of years, etc. With Season 2 (and an entirely new production team), all the carefully constructed work that went into Season 1 was tossed out the window. Half the characters were killed (including the villains of Season 1), several angles were simply [[RiddleForTheAges forgotten about]] and the theme of the show even changed. When fans tuned out (which caused the series to end its run prematurely), several arcs from Season 1 were left unresolved and there were more questions than answers.
* Franchise/StargateVerse:
** ''Series/StargateUniverse'' seemed to have this problem. Rather than simply go the episodic or mini-arc route, the producers introduced a half-dozen secret soap opera storylines at once, storylines that sometimes overshadow the genuinely dramatic plotlines on the show. While this may not have been the only reason the series was cut short, it certainly didn't help.
** The series' predecessor, ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' eventually began to head in this direction, although ''Atlantis'' was still far more episodic than ''Universe'' ever was, which may be part of the reason ''Atlantis'' ran for 5 seasons to ''Universe'''s 1.5.
** [=SG1=] and SGA had arcs too, it's just that ''Universe'' was ''about'' the soap opera storylines, and the "run-down spaceship we can't actually steer" setting was just the reason why they were all crammed into the same place. Even the planets they visited to collect supplies were always uninhabited - going through the Stargate doesn't mean "Soap opera over, enter the new Goa'uld/Ori/Wraith!" but instead "the same argument from before is continued in the desert." The sci-fi plots anyone who was watching because it was ''Stargate'' wanted to see were ''never'' intended to take center stage, and the clearer that became, the fewer people watched.
** The Stargate franchise's biggest offender was The Ancients. Introduced in season 1 as 1 of 4 unnamed old and intelligent races, they gradually grew in scope, with each new addition making their backstory a bit more convoluted. Atlantis's addition that they had left the Milkyway after the plague, leaving it to repopulate itself, didn't break things too badly. But when Season 9[[note]]Seasons 9 & 10 were originally slated to be a spin-off series, but the network was afraid it wouldn't bring in as many viewers so they tacked it onto [=SG1=] as additional seasons[[/note]] retconned their origin right out of the Milkyway entirely and turned them into a splinter faction that had fled here from a distant galaxy to pursue science instead of religion 10s of millions of years prior, well, things just got nuts. Then came Universe...
* ''Series/BreakingBad''[='s=] third season was admitted to have been written purely episode to episode [[WordOfGod by]] show creator Vince Gilligan. While the honesty was appreciated, the pacing of the episodes in the season was painfully turbulent from week to week, and there was certainly a lot of purposeless building of characters who just ended up as {{Red Herring}}s. The series in general ran on WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants (with the exception of season 2, which ''was'' planned out in advance and ''still'' manages to end with a contrived, pointless CliffhangerCopout).
* ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'' has an infamous amount of this and it has gotten worse as the seasons have gone on. It is common for them to stretch a single question across an entire series. A running joke amongst fans is that Jax always says he will get to the bottom of something, but doesn't. Season 6 is particularly directionless both due to [[AdoredByTheNetwork FX letting every episode be 90 minutes or longer]] leading to [[{{Padding}} a surplus of pointless subplots in every episode]] and the planned season long Big Bad having to be offed four episodes in [[RealLifeWritesThePlot due to the actor's schedule]]. Thanks to this there is no main driving conflict for much of the season but instead several plotlines piled on top of one another with none really taking primacy.
* ''Series/TheEvent'' was like a drinking game of both characters informing each other of things we already know and ineffectively teasing us. "You know what happened last time!" Um, we don't, so how about you tell us?
** As mentioned in a few other places, ''The Event'' was so bad about building itself up that some felt it hit tropes like this one '''before it ever premiered.''' Seriously, for months, viewers were subjected to the upcoming "event", often several times per commercial break. By the time it aired, many were so annoyed with the campaign they either lost interest, thinking it couldn't possibly live up to the hype it created for itself, or just didn't watch out of spite for taking up so much of their time.
** Ironically, the show's creator had planned the story arcs to unfold over five seasons, and promised in his tweets after the first episode that the show would resolve most of its mysteries within an episode or two of introducing them—which it generally did. Due to declining ratings during the fall, [[ExecutiveMeddling NBC forced him]] to speed up his timetable after the hiatus so that plot developments he had planned for the second season instead took place during the second half of the first, with [[CutShort predictable results]].
* ''Series/TheKilling'' eventually answered the central question of "Who killed Rosie Larsen?" at the end of Season 2. Problem is, throughout Season 1, fans started to feel that the show kept throwing out RedHerring after RedHerring... and when the season finale finished with nary a hint as to who might actually be responsible, professional critics actually ''flipped their shit'', with [[http://www.aoltv.com/2011/06/19/the-killing-season-1-season-finale-recap/ at least one]] saying they had absolutely no reason to want to keep watching.
** Thankfully, they averted this in Season 3, and the killer was revealed (as promised) in the same season.
* Semi-enforced on ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'': although the creators intricately plot out certain subplots during each season in advance, they were never guaranteed more than one season at a time, so they were forced to keep their options open enough to be capable of making shit up for how Ted met his kids' mother in case they got cancelled. When they were guaranteed two more seasons near the end of Season 6, the show visibly hiked up the foreshadowing (mainly in the form of flashforwards and/or Future!Ted casually Jossing possibilities or stating facts about the future) of a far denser and more detailed plot in the later episodes of Season 6 and the earlier ones of Season 7. Still, Season 9 ''is'' the end.
** This was actually referenced as a common criticism of the series finale. The show ends with [[spoiler:the entire nine-season story being a thinly veiled excuse for Ted to justify to his kids that he's going to get back together with "Aunt Robin" after the mother/Tracy's death]]. The footage used for this reveal was actually shot during season two, as the kids look ''much'' younger than they are in the rest of the clips from said finale. The reveal was criticized by people for being a last-minute ShockingSwerve in a series that had seen all manner of extraneous storylines, Ted going through numerous relationships and eventually coming to the realization that he would never have Robin (and seeing her literally floating away in his mind after they both realized that love just wasn't enough) and a decade's worth of characterization in the interim. Fans complained that the only way the ending made sense is if you disregarded the last eight seasons of development, and the poor reception may have been a factor in why the SpinOff ''How I Met Your Father'' got stuck in DevelopmentHell (due to viewers shying away from another long-term MythArc that never pays off).
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' headed this way during Seasons 6-7. Since the showrunner changed at the end of Season 5, fans in general have become increasingly less happy with the course the show is taking, feeling that the new showrunner had abolished most of the important plot threads [[spoiler:and as of Season 7 secondary characters]] that were popular with the fandom and a large part of the show's success in previous seasons, and is now relying purely on a series of one-shot guest stars to maintain viewers. In addition to the showrunner's apparent insistence on writing out well-loved characters in favour of [[ReplacementScrappy poorly received]] [[SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute suspiciously similar substitutes]], this approach has not worked as intended.
** General consensus seems to that since Sara Gamble's departure and Jeremy Carver's debut, the show - while still not as good as the earliest seasons - has managed to get back on course, having completely abandoned the boring Leviathan mythology, and returning to the Angel and Demon mythology.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** In the original incarnation of the series, Seventh Doctor Sylvester [=McCoy=]'s tenure was marked by the Lungbarrow Plot (aka the Cartmel Masterplan), a multi-season story arc designed to reset the continuity of the series and re-establish the mystery of the title character. This really was written in advance, and the payoff for the audience really was there... until ExecutiveMeddling led to the show being cancelled early. The seeds which began to be sown in Season 25 continued to grow in the subsequent ''New Adventures'' novels (leading to a wonderful climax in, appropriately, ''Lungbarrow'')... but never addressed in the 2005 revival thus far.
** Series 7B had to contend with the aftermath of old companions leaving, the Doctor possibly leaving his travels, the Doctor possibly being on his very last incarnation, meaning a way had to be found for their life to be extended to allow a new incarnation to replace Matt Smith, ''and'' the retconning of the Last Great Time War. The resultant [[LivingMacGuffin "Impossible Girl"]] arc was criticized for robbing new companion Clara of some much needed character development in favor of tying up some plot threads, and was followed by establishing a ''new yet old'' incarnation of the Doctor to be responsible for the Last Great Time War ending in the 50th anniversary special. Finally, the Christmas special had to wrap up ''everything else'' in the Eleventh Doctor era (namely the Silence arc) rather abruptly. Much of this resulted in calls for showrunner Creator/StevenMoffat to leave.[[note]] In fairness, he himself admitted via an interview in ''Doctor Who Magazine'' that this was a mess, and that he had been trying to run two shows ''and'' work out the 50th anniversary all at the same time, making it a variation of AuthorExistenceFailure. [[/note]]
** Moffat however remained for Series 8-10, the Twelfth Doctor era, which didn't have '''as''' bad a case of this trope going -- Series 8 and 9 actually spent a lot of time patching up leftover plot threads from 7B, such as the identity of the woman in the shop who brought the Doctor and Clara together (and from there how and why she did so) and Clara's personality. Series 9 went on to use its SeasonFinale to [[spoiler: get the Doctor back to Gallifrey at last]] and its ChristmasEpisode to reveal [[spoiler: the circumstances of the Doctor and River's final night/proper wedded life]], partially because Moffat went into the season intending it as his last. But come Series 10 he never did resolve the ''new'' plot threads that the Series 9 finale left dangling regarding [[spoiler: Gallifrey and the Doctor's relationship to it]] in favor of giving this Doctor's MythArc, his complex relationship with ArchEnemy Missy, a proper conclusion.
* Lampshaded in the expanded universe of ''Series/{{Castle}}'', believe it or not. On the Richard Castle website, Castle wrote an article about what he called a Ponzi Plot. He explained that if you don't eventually resolve it, you lose your viewers.
** This was posted a week before the Season 4 finale, where [[spoiler:Castle and Beckett finally resolve their four-year will they/won't they arc by doing it]].
** Left still unresolved at that point was the mystery of the Case of Beckett's Mom, which many fans had also claimed was an example of this trope. Some fans speculate that [[WordOfGod Andrew Marlowe]] posted the article not to explain why [[spoiler:Castle and Beckett finally hooked up]] but instead to reassure fans that [[spoiler:the Beckett case really does have a solution, that it won't drag on forever, and the viewers really will like it]]. Sure enough, while this case still hasn't actually been ''closed'', the mystery was solved in the Season 5 premiere.
** It helps that ''Castle'' is primarily episodic, and so has never depended on its meta-plot to keep viewers interested. The show-runners were never worried that the fans would lose interest, and sure enough reactions have been very positive.
** And now with the end of season 6, the storyline about Beckett's mother's murder has also been resolved.
* Happened with ''Series/{{Smallville}}''. The show kept dicking around with viewers wanting to see Clark's development into Superman by focusing more on his on-again off-again relationship with Lana most of the time, and then by the time she was finally gone from the series in Season 8 they still managed to get renewed two more times and drag things. It didn't help that they also seemed to be finding increasingly complicated ways of making Clark do "Superman" things without actually coming out and making him Superman. The series finale wasn't exactly that satisfactory to certain sections of the fanbase either.
** Of course, since ''Smallville'' is a prequel to the Superman mythos, they actually knew ''exactly'' where all the key plotlines were going--it's just, since it took ''ten whole seasons'' to get there, they ended up coming up with any number of sub-plots to fill up the space; in that regard, it's actually an inversion. At the end of season 4 onwards--likely, longer than they expected the show to last--they changed tack and began bringing in supporting characters and villains that Clark would normally only have met ''after'' he left Smallville, such as ComicBook/{{Brainiac}} and Lois Lane (ComicBook/LexLuthor, in some versions, really did live in Smallville and was friends with Clark, so he made sense). By the end of the show he's met most of his major allies and villains ''and'' started the Franchise/{{Justice League|of America}}, all before he even puts on the cape!
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' also suffered this as it went on, as several plots and characters got discarded and forgotten about in favor of new ones with each passing season.
* Nearly every plot thread in ''Series/{{Primeval}}'' is left unresolved, be it the fate of Claudia Brown, the motivations of the villain in Series 2, the origin of the future city in Series 3, the significance of Patrick Quinn, etc. No matter how significant something is played up in one series, you can be sure it'll be forgotten about in the next one. Rather than try to resolve any of them, the latest series ended by introducing a completely out-of-the-blue twist merely for the sake of a cliffhanger, and given it's unlikely to be renewed for another series, it's unlikely even ''that'' will ever be expanded on.
* ''Series/TheMentalist''. The Red John MythArc has become far more elaborate and convoluted than originally intended. While it appears that Bruno Heller always knew who Red John was going to be (or picked his possible choices early on, at least), the character went from a particularly devious SerialKiller who knew how to cover his tracks, to a SerialKiller who knew a few other killers, to a SerialKiller with a shadow army of fanatically devoted, loyal-unto-death brainwashed followers. In season 6 they took his catchphrase ("Tiger, Tiger") and decided to turn what looked like a cult into a sophisticated criminal organization that nobody had heard of, and made Red John a possible member, to a possible ''senior'' member, and finally into the apparent mastermind of the whole thing. Oh, and he's repeatedly performing "psychic" feats that make Jane look like an amateur, that are never explained. Beyond a certain point he's basically a supervillain and you have to start wondering why he ever resorted to anything as trivial as serial murder in the first place. TheReveal that he is [[spoiler: Sherriff [=McCallister=]]] only raised further issues, as many clues that were dropped about Red John turn out to be irrelevant (his height, for instance--the actor in question is taller than Red John was stated to be). Practically all of the clues that pointed to him were only dropped in the sixth season, the one he was revealed in; most ones from previous seasons were never mentioned again.
* ''Series/TwentyFour'':
** This was an unfortunate side-effect of the 24-hour format. The producers often had to write storylines in advance, and would often resort to filler or sidestories to kill time until the next important revelation. Likewise, the villains almost always changed midway through the season, which often threw out the carefully-set up goals and motivations for the enemies and often resulted in TheManBehindTheMan being revealed and fans getting tired of it, even if it made no sense in the long run.
** Done by necessity in Season 1. The production team had no idea if they would be renewed for the back half of the season, so they closed off the storyline by having Jack rescue his wife and daughter in the thirteenth episode and all plots being tied up. When Kiefer Sutherland won a Best Actor Golden Globe and the show was suddenly renewed thanks to the hype, the producers suddenly had to throw in a number of ridiculous plotlines (including a heretofore-unrevealed second assassin showing up who is having a relationship with one of his target's staff members, Jack butting heads with a sniper who hates him for something he did in the past, the StuntCasting of Creator/DennisHopper, Teri's EasyAmnesia, Kim getting kidnapped ''again'' and the AssPull that [[spoiler:Nina was the mole in CTU]]).
** The eventual resolution of the three-season arc that began with the assassinations in Season 5, made of equal parts GambitPileup and AssPull. It is revealed that the businessman Alan Wilson- a character introduced near the end of season 7 and defeated within a handful of episodes- is the [[GreaterScopeVillain ultimate enemy]] overseeing a chain that passes down from himself, controlling a cabal that includes Jonas Hodges (who was working with Benjamin Juma to overthrow the White House), controlling another group led by Jack's brother Graem (being controlled by his father, who is working with the Chinese government), who is advising PresidentEvil Charles Logan (which was itself caused by one of the writers asking midway through the fifth season, "Hey, what if the President was [[ForTheEvulz evil]]?) and finally to the group of assassins that [[spoiler:murdered David Palmer and Michelle Dessler]]. The failure of season 6 (and the stalling plot arc that was created by this mess) is what forced the show to undergo a {{Retool}} and move to the other side of the country in order to get things moving and resolve it. Even then, most fans weren't happy with the outcome - Wilson becomes a KarmaHoudini who basically gets away scot-free with his crimes. While the show generally implied that ''someone'' was the ultimate DiabolicalMastermind behind these various villains and events, the character of Wilson was a complete AssPull as he was an entirely new bad guy who had an at-best tenuous connection to a handful of characters, before being very quickly captured and the whole arc being declared wrapped up afterwards. He never appears again on the show.
* A major factor in ''Series/{{Revolution}}'' only lasting two seasons. Season one piled on the secrets and {{macguffin}}s (Who killed the power, how did they do it and why? What are the pendants? Why can they restore power just like that) while answering very few questions. Season two simply ignored many of S1's questions while adding all new questions (Sentient nanomachines?) and not answering those questions either.
* ''Series/UnderTheDome'' is one of the most extreme examples since the turn of the millennium. While the first season was reasonably coherent in its storytelling, the next two quickly turned into an utterly incomprehensible mess of dangling plot threads, introduced new AssPull twists in every other episode, almost never resolved anything, and even in the rare case some question was answered, the solution was usually far-fetched to the extreme while creating a whole bunch of new mysteries that never went anywhere. It's little wonder the series rapidly lost market shares and was cancelled after three seasons, although - credit where it's due - the final episodes did their damndest to resolve the story in a satisfying way. Viewers are split on how well it managed to do that, but points for trying anyway.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Pro wrestling has its own jargon for this: "hotshot" booking. This is when a show is literally written as it is being performed, either because the writers aren't prepared, a wrestler is suddenly unable to work a match during a live show requiring an abrupt change in his angle, or because the bookers are trying to be daring and edgy. Hotshot booking rarely produces anything but failure, however.
** Eric Bischoff was notorious for this during the Monday Night War. He would often rewrite ''Wrestling/WCWMondayNitro'' while it was actually airing to counter-program WWF's ''[[Wrestling/WWERaw Raw]]''.
** Wrestling/VinceRusso became an even more notorious example during his stint as writer for Wrestling/{{WCW}} toward the end of the Monday Night War. Characters turned and won and lost titles so often that fans lost track, [[AbortedArc numerous angles were abandoned midstream]] (most famously Wrestling/StacyKeibler's "pregnancy"), wrestlers would retire "forever" only to show up next episode (quick even by wrestling standards). There is a reason bad and nonsensical booking leads to {{c|rowdchant}}hants of "[[XPacHeat Fire Russo!]]" even in promotions he's never worked for.
*** A lot of Russo's unanswered questions have become [[MemeticMutation memes]] within the IWC, such as "Who Drove The Hummer?"
** At Wrestling/{{WWE}}, the concept was put in writing as part of the company's "Wellness Program", which states that any "Superstar" fired for doping offenses must {{job|ber}} his or her title/finish an angle in the ring immediately and without pay.
*** This was demonstrated in 2009, when Wrestling/{{Rey Mysterio|Jr}} was given a Wellness Vacation and dropped the Intercontinental Championship he was holding at the time to Wrestling/JohnMorrison (which [[BrokenBase promptly caused some fans to complain]] about Rey not dropping the title to Wrestling/DolphZiggler, who'd been in the hunt for the title for some time).
** Injuries force a not ''quite'' as urgent example of this trope, too. Injured wrestlers can usually finish the match they're in (unless the injury is really bad), but they won't be back next week, and if they were in the middle of a storyline you've got a week (if you're lucky) to rewrite it. An example from the WWE: in 2009, Edge and Wrestling/ChrisJericho had formed a tag team, won the Unified Tag Team Championships, and were just starting off an arrogant heel run with the belts...and then Wrestling/{{Edge}} tore his Achilles tendon, putting him on the shelf for the rest of the year. WWE Creative, backed into a pretty unpleasant corner, had Jericho cut a promo on Edge for having the gall to get injured during their title run; he then hyped up his new mystery partner (who was much better than Edge)...who he'd be debuting at the next PPV. This bought them enough time to actually get a new story together.
*** In that example, it actually worked out great, as Jericho's partner was Wrestling/TheBigShow, and the team (known as "[=JeriShow=]") went on to dominate the tag team division for a good part of the year.
* A subsect of hotshot booking is "hotshot" title changes - title changes that happen fairly quickly and result in a number of different title reigns, often for no real reason. Like with hotshot booking, this is done either to cover for an injury or to change an angle on the fly. Unfortunately, such title changes - if they happen too often - can "devalue" the belts (in other words, fans will stop caring about who holds the titles, and thus stop caring about seeing wrestlers compete for the titles, making them worthless as an attraction). These kinds of title changes can also become somewhat predictable if used very often; if you know the belt's going to change hands every other week, why even bother to watch the champion defend their title? Hotshot title changes are one of the many reasons WCW is now out of business, and it's one of the many, many, many, many, [[OverlyLongGag many]] reasons TNA is so reviled amongst a good majority of the IWC.
** An example of a hotshot title change from 2009: Wrestling/JillianHall defeats Wrestling/MickieJames to win the Divas Championship on the October 12 ''Raw''. Her title reign lasts just a few short minutes, as Wrestling/{{Melina}} - just traded to ''Raw'' from ''Smackdown'' - comes in and wins the title in short order. (Of course, it was around this time rumors of WWE punishing Mickie for [[HollywoodPudgy being too fat]] and/or behavioral issues came to light, which caused some fans to look at the hotshot reign as a punishment: rather than drop the title to Melina and look good in the process, Mickie dropped it to Jillian - essentially a JokeCharacter in WWE's Divas division - and had to watch Melina win it minutes later.)
** One of the funniest examples prior to its retirement was the Hardcore Championship belt, which also carried a 24/7 defense rule - whoever owned the belt had to be paranoid about being ambushed anytime, anywhere, with such highlights as Crash Holly fighting off two opponents at Fun Times USA (a children's indoor playground), or the rapid-fire changing of the title during Wrestling/WrestleMania 18, where Wrestling/{{Christian}} wound up holding it for a brief span after unwittingly knocking out Wrestling/MollyHolly [[TheDoorSlamsYou with a door]].

* Greg Farshtey, the writer for ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'', refers to this as the "Sizzle and Steak" effect — the sizzle is what lures people in, but sooner or later you have to produce the steak. Many Bionicle fans were unhappy with the series [[DoingInTheWizard phasing out the fantasy elements and replacing them with very soft science fiction]], especially the revelation that [[spoiler:the Matoran universe was inside a HumongousMecha]], but as Greg pointed out, a major theme in ''Bionicle'' is people being wrong, and the truth will have to come out sooner or later or the audience will get frustrated.
** Sadly, an enormous ScheduleSlip, as well as the fact that Franchise/{{LEGO}} considers ''Bionicle'' to be dead means that the steak will be shriveled up and indigestible, for the sizzle's taking too long and there's no plot resolutions in sight.[[note]] Or in other words, ExecutiveMeddling canceled the story with several {{Myth Arc}}s in the process of being resolved. Greg himself tried to resolve everything, but several arcs have still been left hanging, never to be resolved.[[/note]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Some have accused Creator/TetsuyaNomura of doing this with the ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' series. Each new game ties up the previous one's loose ends, but opens up twice as many new ones...
** The series was deliberately designed with plot holes to fill because Nomura was unsure if it would really be worth it to make a sequel to the original game, and also because he wanted his fans to create their own theories about how things happened (which he succeeded at). Nomura then confirmed that he always will make plot holes and bizarre, mysterious elements in a game, and make up the explanations while working on the next game. Rinse and repeat.
* The ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' series seems to be suffering from a fatal case of Chris Carter. Eidos never really knew what to do with it after Crystal Dynamics stole it from Silicon Knights (and told SK to throw their carefully-plotted story ideas for a sequel in the trash). Crystal Dynamics' next decision with the franchise, having multiple titles in development at the same time with different teams working on them, did little to gel any sort of solid story. The meat of the stories after the first game seemed to follow [[OurVampiresAreDifferent immortal, nigh-indestructible evolving vampires]] traveling through time and fighting extra-dimensional demons. The series' timeline spans thousands of years, and each additional game either flagrantly {{retcon}}s and/or {{reset button}}s the previous installations, including at least one cliffhanger ending that not only drew cries of the game being released incomplete, but wasn't actually resolved in the next game. It still could turn out to be one of the greatest series ever, provided they manage to put a bow on it. However, so far news from the developer seems to suggest that another sequel is unlikely.
** One example: all the events of ''Blood Omen 2'' (released 4th) happen between the events of ''Blood Omen'' and ''Soul Reaver'' (released 1st and second) in a timeline created in ''Defiance'' (released 5th) and destroyed in ''Soul Reaver 2'' (released 3rd).
* The ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' series is working on averting this after having fallen into this trope for a time. In its first decade, many elements of the universe were introduced and then never brought up again, such as what the MacGuffin Forerunner Crystal from ''Literature/HaloFirstStrike'' was supposed to be, how many Spartans had survived to the present, what happened to the ''Spirit of Fire'' after ''VideoGame/HaloWars'', etc. After the series was turned over from Creator/{{Bungie}} to Creator/ThreeFourThreeIndustries, the new studio began a ''massive'' effort to finally give answers to all the loose threads, sometimes by the dozens within the same work.
* Any new partner characters, second-string villains, or "B" plots in the ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' series are typically met with derision because, so far, only one out of nearly a dozen of these characters has ever reappeared in any other games. As a rule, many fans tend not to get too invested into these characters when they know they'll just end up PutOnABus anyway.
* ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' was accused of this, as early as the Ezio trilogy. ''Website/{{Cracked}}'' even [[http://www.cracked.com/video_19740_why-assassins-creed-makes-absolutely-no-sense.html made fun of the series]] for falling into this trope, alleging that its status as Creator/{{Ubisoft}}'s CashCowFranchise ensures that there will never be a proper end to the story.
** Many fans were expecting Desmond to get his own game set in the modern era, as the first few games clearly point towards the character being trained in the Assassin arts and getting better at fighting Abstergo agents. This took a hard right turn in the fifth main game, ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'', in which [[spoiler:Desmond haphazardly sacrifices himself in a last-minute twist to save the world]]. As of 2016, there have been four main games since then (not to mention numerous tie-in games), and this aspect of the plot hasn't been addressed at all, instead being focused on periphery characters who are sneaking around ostensibly finding out little tidbits of information about Abstergo. It got to the point that ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedUnity'' had ''no scenes at all in the present day'', instead being a simulation run entirely through a console by two assassins who act as MissionControl. This may have been the reason why Creator/{{Ubisoft}} opted to slow down the production schedule of the series in 2016 and take a longer time to complete each installment.
** ... and then there's [[http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Juno Juno,]] the mysterious entity who [[spoiler:Desmond sacrificed himself for]] in ''III''. At the end of the game, she promised to help save the world, but as of ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedSyndicate'', all she's done is float around computer systems and give cryptic information to various parties. It doesn't help matters that the KudzuPlot is so complicated and stretched out across so many games that it requires reading a wiki page to understand it, and the goal of the entity can be boiled down to [[GrandTheftMe stealing a human body so she can inhabit it]].
** The resolution of Lucy's character. In the first few games, Lucy was the MissionControl/sidekick who initially busted Desmond out of Abstergo and helped him fight against them. The first three games had a relatively consistent character arc for her, but when voice actress Creator/KristenBell left the franchise during production of ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood'', the writers threw in a ShockingSwerve that had [[spoiler:Desmond randomly stab her at the urging of Juno]]. The writers then promised that there would answers to this plot twist, but it wasn't fully answered until the "Lost Archive" DLC for ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRevelations'' two years later -- [[spoiler:it turns out she was a triple agent, who decided to break Desmond out despite actively working for the Templars and doing villainous things]]. Part of the fanbase was angry for the haphazard conclusion, and it's clear that this twist and revelation made no sense in the overall narrative.
*** This was also annoying for the reason that in order to learn this, you had to get and play through the DLC (which used a platforming system different than the main series). If you didn't bother with the DLC, then you wouldn't learn why until ''ACIII'' and even then you'd just have people referring to her [[spoiler:as a traitor]].
* ''Franchise/FiveNightsAtFreddys'':
** Owing to the {{Jigsaw Puzzle|Plot}} KudzuPlot spread out across the series, many plot threads are often LeftHanging with no explanation, or are difficult to work out and piece together, all while new threads are brought up with each game. Thus some question just how much is planned out, and how much is Creator/ScottCawthon {{retcon}}ning things and/or [[WritingBytheSeatOfYourPants making it up as he goes along]].
** While the first three games formed a mostly coherent story, [[VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys4 the fourth (and at-the-time final) game]] confused many fans since despite seemingly depicting [[spoiler:the once-mentioned [[BrainFood Bite of 87]]]], there's strong evidence suggesting it takes place years before then (not least being that [[spoiler:the culprit was a character whose restaurant had been closed for years by 1987]]). There's also the fact that a box which, quoth Scott, contained "all the pieces put together," ended up being [[MissingSecret left unopened]] as opposed to being unlocked with a later update as initially planned.
** ''[[VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddysSisterLocation Sister Location]]'' only confused things more by raising more questions and answering none, what with it taking some elements from ''[[Literature/FiveNightsAtFreddysTheSilverEyes The Silver Eyes]]'' (which is [[AlternateContinuity separate from]] the story of the games), putting into question just what [[RealAfterAll really happened]] [[BigBrotherIsWatching during]] ''4'', and the Custom Night's plot twists, amongst which is the implication that [[spoiler:Springtrap is {{retcon}}ned from being the GreaterScopeVillain, to his ''son'' instead, significantly affecting ''Videogame/FiveNightsAtFreddys3''[='=]s story]].
*** Though some WordOfGod would later clarify the spoiler above. [[spoiler: Specifically, that Springtrap ''is'' the GreaterScopeVillain, and not his son, as previously believed.]]
** ''Finally'' [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] with the [[VideoGame/FreddyFazbearsPizzeriaSimulator sixth game]], which actually answered most of the above questions and [[spoiler:resolves the plot by having all the souls trapped inside the animatronics be released, and their souls pass onto the next world.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'' has a fairly interesting plot about the titular organization PuttingTheBandBackTogether while the nefarious [[NebulousEvilOrganization Talon]] gathers its forces and stokes tensions while the world limps toward a second RobotWar. As an exclusively multiplayer title, this story is told through [[AllThereInTheManual external sources]] released sporadically online. Very sporadically. The kind of sporadic that means the rate of actual progress is better measured by ''seasons'' rather than by weeks or months. Nowhere is this more evident than with the issue of seeing Overwatch itself [[OrderReborn reformed]], the core premise upon which the lore has built itself. A story cinematic released in March of 2016 established that a "recall" order had been issued to all former operatives to call them back into service and rebuild the organization. The issue of the recall then sat dormant and unmentioned for ''seventeen months'' until another story cinematic released in August of 2017 confirmed ''one'' new agent to respond. And during the interim, developments consisted mostly of the villains effortlessly pursuing their agenda and [[HappyEndingOverride undoing the heroes' few victories]] while the latter either failed to stop them or accomplished little of consequence at all. So, not only does the lore progress at a glacial rate, but the progress it ''does'' make is often trivial or demoralizing. Even fans who were enthusiastic with following the story from day one have grown increasingly fatigued and skeptical of [[Creator/BlizzardEntertainment Blizzard's]] ability or intent to follow through with their promises, especially since the tone of the lore has gradually [[CerebusSyndrome become more melancholy with very little worth cheering for]].
** To top it off, the often ''long'' periods between new releases compound the issue with a meta effect: when new information comes out, it will often clash with long-standing and cherished [[{{Fanon}} fan theories]] that have developed in the meantime, inevitably resulting in a backlash that drives some fans to either stop theorycrafting or stick to their guns and [[FanonDiscontinuity ignore what contradicts them.]] Either way, morale in the lore-minded sections of the community is often volatile.


[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Parodied in one of ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'''s Strong Bad Emails, where a fan asks Strong Bad to "resolve all the cliffhangers". As there ''were'' no cliffhangers in the series, he obligingly created some just so they could be resolved seconds later. [[LiteralGenie Can't nobody say Strong Bad never did nothing for the peoples.]]
* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'' began attracting criticism during volume 4 for its habit of introducing game-changing new plot elements then failing to resolve them in a timely manner. The show's slow pacing and light release schedule also make it so that whenever answers ''are'' given, the fans have usually [[IKnewIt already figured them out]] months or even years earlier.
** The mystical nature of Ruby’s unique silver eyes was hinted at in the first episode, very briefly touched upon at the end of volume 3, and hasn’t been explored at all since.
** The show’s BigBad Salem, introduced at the end of volume 3, and alluded to earlier, is still a total enigma. Next to nothing about her origins, powers, or motivations has been explained despite her being the driving force behind the entire main plot. Her subordinate [[TheHeavy Cinder]] fares no better.

* A common problem for long-running webcomics with an overarching plot. Since WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants is common for this medium, it's easy to get carried away. Combined with ScheduleSlip this may make finishing the comic within the author's lifetime highly unlikely and may lead to the comic [[{{OrphanedSeries/Webcomics}} being dropped by the author]].
%%* ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' has been suffering from this problem for some time. During the first 6-7 years of the strip's existence, artist Pete Abrams created a veritable arsenal of {{Chekhovs Gun}}s... then stopped firing any of them. To make matters even more frustrating, Abrams often spends many months working on side plots that don't play a major role in advancing the numerous plot threads he already created. Things are beginning to move again, but at this point it's hard to believe Abrams could possibly wrap up the strip in less than 4-5 years, even if he created ''no'' new plot elements. Every resolution adds a few more questions. Arguably, though, Abrams has been lampshading this with the "fate spider" comics.
%%** Several things ''have'' been resolved, others clearly advanced; what seems like a majority of readers (on the forums) are confident enough Pete can pull it all together given (lots of) time. He has done it before on a more limited scale, and proven himself a master of planning in advance. So, averted in that faith has not been lost.
%%** [[http://www.sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/070122 Erica Henderson]] did a very good job parodying this during her guest week back in 2007, pulling at several loose plot threads and even introducing "Pete" as a ''Wizard of Oz''-type god.
%%** The real irony? Back when ''Series/TheXFiles'' was still on the air, he made jokes at Chris Carter's expense about the need to resolve plotlines lest the reader lose faith or believe the writer is just making things up as he goes along.
%%** As of the start of 2013, the new Mohkadun arc began, and has been firing off said Chekhov's Guns at an astounding rate, explaining large amounts of the K'z'k plotline, which has not been given more than the occasional ominous nod since 2005, and covering a large variety of minor mysteries.
* After some 1,200 comics, the ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' foursome could probably have figured out a clever way to defeat Chaos and win the day as they did with all their other extremely powerful foes, but the story instead had them depowered and sent off somewhere to muck about, formulating some kind of plan to go back up against the BigBad.
%%** Of course, in this case, the AntiClimax was awesome. [[spoiler:Chaos defeated by four White Mages, which [[BrickJoke completes the joke]] set up some ''1,400'' strips before?]] ''YES!''
%%*** This gets MUCH, MUCH more reasonable, when you realize the author is the second-biggest troll on the internet, next to Homestuck's author.
* There was some fear that this would happen to the venerable ''[[http://www.goats.com Goats]]'' would fall into this as the Infinite Typewriters Mega-Arc continued to add weirdness. [[WordOfGod John Rosenburg]] has assured us that it's all mapped out to 2012... despite the announcement of [[CreatorBreakdown the strip ending afterwards]]. Granted it was pointed out that, if Goats was a person it would be time for its Bar Mitzvah.
* According to [[http://blog.immelmann.net/2010/10/08/the-end-of-concession/ the author]], this is why ''Webcomic/{{Concession}}'' is ending.
* For ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', ScheduleSlip trouble + Dan Shive's love for ChekhovsGun + his own tendency to occasionally forget stuff he did/didn't do = we should probably give up on getting answers to all of the questions. He has been trying to get things sorted out by establishing things alluded to and having situations progress, as well as having several FourthWallMailSlot bits between stories and a renewed effort to keep the strip updating 5 times a week (his 2012 average is probably 3.5 a week, which is pretty good, all things considered), so we'll have to see how he does.
** Particually bad with some plot lines. For example the last time Graces brothers were seen was over 10 years ago.
* ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare'' has been headed quickly in this direction since CerebusSyndrome kicked in, and especially since the Calendar arc was (semi-)resolved. Creator Paul Taylor claims that it's all part of an extended story that he plotted at the comic's start; but many think he's simply making it up as he goes. The fact that all of the subplots and storylines involving the various personal relationships were unceremoniously dropped shortly after the start of the Golem Girls arc, with no attempt at a resolution, would seem to support this opinion. A few believe that the increasingly bizarre supernatural recent events may indicate something of a CreatorBreakdown.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', ever since about the end of Act 2, very early on in the comic's story, and continuing all the way to the very end. Around the time of Act 5, a common fandom joke was that the story will focus long enough to resolve one plot thread... and then make you realize that it introduced three others to do it.
* ''Webcomic/{{Megatokyo}}'' suffers from this, and the [[ScheduleSlip schedule slips]] don't help matters any.
* Played with in ''[[http://negamaki.thecomicseries.com Negamaki]]''. The plot points are introduced and wildly discarded, except it's acknowledged and played for laughs by the characters. Characters have, more than once, decided to "wait out" a current turn of events or attempt to ignore a twist with the knowledge it will just go away when the author gets bored.
** A WordOfGod post in the comments section declared that each page's plot is basically made up as it's being assembled.
* ''Polymer City Chronicles'' started as a silly gaming comic, eventually slipped to longer storylines involving space aliens ({{Blue Skinned Space Babe}}s, TheGreys, {{Body Snatcher}}s, crystal life forms, PettingZooPeople refugees of interstellar war and so on), PiratesWhoDontDoAnything, and other things reminiscent of Fred Perry's ''ComicBook/GoldDigger''. The author kept switching to new stories leaving previous plots hanging. He stopped updating the comic when finishing only the ongoing plots would've taken him 70 years (taking his usual ScheduleSlip into the account).

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Many of the plot elements from Season 1 of ''WebVideo/{{lonelygirl15}}'' seem to have been completely forgotten. Cassie, anyone?
* ''WebVideo/KateModern'' is much more successful in this regard, but still left a few threads hanging at the end.
* The Literature/WhateleyUniverse was supposed to run more-or-less in real time, and staying ahead of the actual date... but the series started in 2004 and has barely gotten into Winter Term of the ''first year'' of school, with some stories still stuck back in the Fall. Some fans are wondering if the authors will live long enough to finish the main story arc. It's been joked that the stories will wrap up any century now.
** And it has now hemorrhaged just about all of the original authors, except for Bek. With Diane Castle, the main person who moved things forward for three years, gone, it teetered on the edge of becoming DeadFic, until several new writers infused it with fresh blood (and a few earlier writers started talk of returning).
* WebVideo/MarbleHornets is a found-footage format series whose driving force was the events behind the titular student film. However, even after the initial fourteen entries that establish the initial mystery, things don't let up from there and Jay's own investigations end up adding mystery after mystery. Parts of the larger MythArc included the Masked Men, Jay's enigmatic stalker totheark, the whereabouts of the mysterious girl Jessica whom Jay meets in season two, and of course [[Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos the Operator]] itself. By the end of the series, many of these are left unexplained or open to interpretation. Much like ''Lost'', how effective this was depends on whether you prefer the show being left open to interpretation or having these answers explained.
** In an interesting case for this trope, the creators of the series were honest with themselves in that they had no initial idea for a long-term plan to the series, and most of the mysteries created in season one where done so more out of RuleOfScary rather than any necessity to the plot or MythArc (considering the show was made on a whim and they planned on wrapping it up at the end of the first season, it makes sense). However, once production on season two started, they decided they would up the ante and actually make sense of those non-nonsensical ideas they initially made.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Averted with ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'': Despite initially thinking about a three-season MythArc, Creator/AlexHirsch explicitly stated in interviews that he compressed many of the show's plot threads and ended the series after two seasons in order to avoid this trope.
* ''{{WesternAnimation/Archer}}'': Season 7 ends with Archer being mortally wounded and left comatose. The following two seasons are elaborate dream sequences within the coma where Archer imagines himself and the other main characters in different settings. [[WordOfGod Series creator Adam Reed]] has even gone on record saying he's not sure he wants Archer to ever wake up. This has caused quite a bit of frustration among fans, many of whom see the dream sequences as pointless filler, or feel that Reed is no longer invested in the actual story and world of Archer and is merely using the show to push other ideas with the established characters.