->'''Reporter''': The book ends on an ambiguous note. We don't know--do you think [the young lovers] get back together in six months like they promised each other?\\
'''Jesse''': I think how you answer that is a good test if you're a romantic or a cynic. You think they get back together; you don't, for sure; and you hope they do, but you're not sure.
-->-- ''Film/BeforeSunset'', commenting in-universe on the ending of ''Film/BeforeSunrise''

Sometimes the resolution isn't clear-cut. There's a lot left unexplained and the audience is still asking questions.

Compare GainaxEnding, [[MindScrew which makes no sense whatsoever]], and NoEnding, in which there's no resolution, period. Contrast HappyEnding and DownerEnding, where the conclusion is obvious, and BittersweetEnding, which is ambiguous about the ''happiness'' of the resolution, but not on the events themselves.

'''Since this is an EndingTrope, beware of spoilers.'''



* Most infamously, the televised ending to ''Anime/{{Neon Genesis Evangelion}}''. There's mentions of [[AssimilationPlot humanity being merged into a collective consciousness]] and bits and pieces of story here and there, as well as scenes showing certain characters dead, but none of the lingering questions concerning the plot are answered. Instead, the last two episodes do nothing more than show the main characters facing their inner traumas and insecurities, ultimately culminating with Shinji overcoming his own and accepting himself, leading you to believe that it's a {{Happy Ending}}, at least for Shinji. The movie ''End of Evangelion'', which finally concludes the anime's plot, shows that it's a [[spoiler:{{Downer Ending}}.]]
* One of the most classic examples is the ending of ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', where after his final fight with Vicious [[spoiler: Spike, limps down the stairs to find an armed guard surrounding him, only to raise his hand in a gun shape and say "Bang," before collapsing. The series director, Shinichirō Watanabe, purposefully keeps the ambiguous tone in interviews, saying that Spike was "probably just sleeping."]]
* In the finale of the second season of ''Anime/CodeGeass'', [[spoiler: Lelouch is apparently killed by his friend, Suzaku, dressed in the infamous Zero outfit, [[ThanatosGambit after having planned to make the world hate him, so as to unite in peace after his assassination.]] This is all well and good, until at the very end C.C. is being pulled along in a wagon driven by a man with hidden features, during which time she talks about how she was wrong about the isolating nature of Geass, addressing Lelouch as though he may be alive.]] This is further supported by [[spoiler:Nunnally receiving visions of Lelouch's memories upon touching him after his assassination, encouraging the theory that Lelouch absorbed his father's Code during his final confrontation with him, becoming immortal upon getting impaled rather than dying.]]
* The result of the duel between Yugi and Jonouchi in the final episode of the Battle City arc of ''Anime/YuGiOh'' is never shown. Many fans actually beleive that Jonouchi won, seeing as it's the most likely reason why he got his Red Eyes B. Dragon card back (which he told Yugi to keep in an early episode of the arc, but which he has in the next arc; since Yugi and Jonouchi were still playing by Battle City rules, the ante rule presumably still stood). In fact, that was the biggest reason why he told Yugi to hold onto it; he didn't think he deserved to use it until he was a strong enough duelist to prove it.
* Likewise, the ending to ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'' was left deliberately ambiguous. The final episode consisted of a duel between Judai and Yugi, and although there was no official ending, it can be implied that [[spoiler: Yugi]] won.
* The conclusion of ''Manga/ACruelGodReigns''. It's not really clear whether Jeremy and Ian become a couple, or where their relationship will go from there.
* ''Storm Thief'' is probably the best example: the golem is floating randomly in the ocean, unable to control himself; the flotilla trying to escape the island has got away, but what they'll find on land (assuming they reach it) is totally uncertain; and the entire city is in the grip of the mother of all probability storms, meaning pretty much anything is possible there.
* ''Anime/FullmetalAlchemistTheConquerorOfShamballa'' ends with [[spoiler:Alphonse and Edward together but on the wrong side of the Gate. What happens on the right side is a mystery]].
* ''Anime/CaptainEarth'': [[spoiler: Do Daichi and Hana survive the destruction of the Blume, or do they die?]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Manga/ToLoveRu The ending of [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10223400/1/To-Love-DEATH To-Love-DEATH]] ends with [[spoiler: several characters escaping the school by helicopter, but the city has already succumbed to a zombie invasion. The story leaves them still in the chopper.]]

* ''Film/TheGraduate'' ends with a famous MaybeEverAfter / WhatNowEnding. Ben whisks Elaine away from her wedding to some other dude, but their uncertain stares and pensive expressions as they ride away indicate uncertainty as to whether they will repeat the mistakes of their parents.
* ''Film/{{Inception}}'' ends with Cobb returning home to his children after a successful heist. Just to be sure, he spins his totem top one more time (certain objects could act as reality checks to help the owner tell if he was dreaming or not; for Cobb, if the top eventually falls over, he's in real life), but runs off to see his kids before it stops. The screen cuts to black before the audience knows as well, leaving it up in the air if Cobb is still dreaming or not. [[spoiler: Even though, according to most viewers, seeing as the top was his wife's totem, his wedding ring is his totem. If that theory can be trusted, then every time that he was wearing his ring, he was asleep (because in the dream world his projection of his wife was alive), and every time he wasn't he was awake. In the final scene, he isn't wearing it. Therefore, if this theory is true, then he was awake and with his children at the end of the film.]]
* ''Film/BeforeSunrise'': The film ends with Jesse and Celine promising to meet again in six months, with no way of getting in contact before then. Not until the sequel (nine years later) do viewers find out what happened next: [[spoiler:they never made the meet]].
* The end of 2011 British horror ''Film/TheAwakening'' leaves the veiwer uncertain of whether the heroine (Florence CathCart) survived the poisoning attempt and is alive or whether she's a ghost who's haunting Robert. On one hand, many assumed she was dead because she walked past people without them even seeing her (even when she was very, very close) and in the background you can hear the headmaster talking about her as though dead ("Yes, she always ''was'' a bit strange, that CathCart girl"). On the other hand, some thought her alive because she tells Robert she's working on a manuscript for a new book and asks him to get her a taxi back to London, which isn't a activity most ghosts endevour in. The film's ending is purposefully contradictory to add suspence and disettlement.
* ''Film/TheCabinetofDrCaligari'' Did the story Francis tell about Dr. Caligari and Cesare true or just the ravings of a madman?
* ''Film/KPax'': Throughout the film the viewer is challenged to decide if prot is an alien or a mentally ill human being. The ending gives the answer as a "definitely maybe".
* ''Film/{{Dogtooth}}'' ends on [[spoiler:a shot of the father's car outside the factory, with the eldest daughter in it. What happens afterwards is up in the air.]]
* ''Film/ASeriousMan''--After having played the part of {{The Woobie}} for most of the film, things finally begin to look up for progatonist Larry Gopnick. After having been concerned about his job security throughout much of the film, Larry is informed he'll indeed make tenure. And while it's never specifically stated that Larry is reunited with his wife Judith (who had sought to divorce Larry and marry an older man until he died in a car crash), the two are seen smiling and holding hands at their son Danny's bar mitzvah, implying as much. Danny even manages to get his transitor radio back after having it taken away during Hebrew School. However just as the movie seems to take an upbeat turn, Larry recieves a phone call from his doctor, telling him that the results from his physical are in and that he needs to see him in his office; while we are not told what the problem is, we can imply it is most likely a serious medical condition. The movie ends with Danny at Hebrew School when it's announced there is a tornado and the students must be evacuated for shelter. The last shot is Danny staring at the rapidly approaching tornado as the teacher struggles to open the door of the shelter.
* ''Film/TheThing1982'' ends with Childs and Mac in a destroyed arctic camp, with no hope of rescue. it's also left ambiguous as to whether Nauls died (although it is strongly implied he did) or even if Childs himself is a thing.
* ''Film/TheShining'': Before the credits, the very last scene of the film is a zoom in close-up of a photograph in the Overlook Hotel...showing Jack Torrance, seemingly in his 20s or 30s in the photo, at the front of a ball room crowd smiling with the caption saying in cursive, "OVERLOOK HOTEL, JULY 4TH, 1921". The film takes place 60 years after the photograph was taken. No proper explanation has ever been given as to what the ending means.
* ''Film/TheJacket'' ends with the screen going black and the spoken question "How much time do we have?", leaving the audience wondering if the last scene was for real or not.
* The ending to ''Film/BladeRunner'' was so ambiguous, that it had not one, but two other versions that tried to make sense of the film. In the end, it only served to make it even more confusing.
* While the main character of ''Film/GirlInterrupted'' is released, it's never explicitly stated if [[AntiHero Lisa]] ever got out. Susanna claims that she saw some of the girls from the hospital later in life, but doesn't say which.
* ''Film/AmericanPsycho'' ends with Patrick Bateman confessing his crimes to his lawyer, only for it all to be brushed off as a joke. It's left completely ambiguous whether Patrick was actually a murderer or just hallucinating violent imagery.
* ''Film/EaglesGathered'' closes with Silver's death, but never makes it clear what actually happens when you die in the underworld, nor what happened to Gold: successfully rescued, dead, or never existed at all.
* ''Film/SoundOfMyVoice'': Was she really from the future or not? There's evidence on both sides. Law enforcement claims that she's a con artist, but were they really law enforcement? How does she know the girl's ("her mother's") secret handshake?

* The short story "The Lady or the Tiger," written in 1882 by Frank R. Stockton, has an ending that is purposely left ambiguous, with the author saying that he is in no position to reveal how it ended, letting the reader make his own opinion, based on what he believed one of the characters - the princess - would do. The plot of the story is a no-win situation where someone faces a SadisticChoice, and it is up to the reader to decide just which choice she made.
* Somewhat subverted with ''Literature/ThePrincessBride''. It has a BolivianArmyEnding which leaves it questionable whether the heroes where able to escape and survive. However, [[WordOfGod William Goldman]] commented that they ''did'' make it, and seeing as he's the author, you can probably take his word on that.
* The ''Literature/VenusPrime'' series ends with [[spoiler:Sparta and Blake going off in the world-ship, never to be seen again by the other characters]].
* Charlotte Bronte's ''Villette'' [[spoiler: ends with the narrator refusing to tell the reader whether or not her LoveInterest survived his trip to the West Indies and returned to her. She says that the reader can believe so if s/he likes.]] It comes across as a SnicketWarningLabel without what comes after the label - something akin to a BolivianArmyEnding.
* Nadine Gordimer's novel ''July's People'', an imagination of the violent collapse of South African apartheid centered around one white family and their black servant (the title characters) as they try to keep themselves together while fleeing, has this. The last chapter reverts to the present tense, and ends with the mother running toward a just-landed helicopter, unsure whether the occupants could be "saviours or murderers."
** An earlier, shorter novel of hers, ''The Late Bourgeois World'', also ends with the protagonist undecided over whether or not to take an action that would reveal a disturbing family secret.
* Creator/ThomasPynchon's ''Literature/TheCryingOfLot49'' ends with the secret of the titular property, and at least the ''beginning'' of the solution to the novel's mysteries, [[InterruptedByTheEnd about to be revealed]].
* Before the DistantFinale which reveals the entire story is a narrative being presented at an academic conference decades later, revealing its historical validity is not conclusively established, Creator/MargaretAtwood's ''Literature/TheHandmaidsTale'' ends with its protagonist, Offred, being taken away in custody from the estate she lives at by a fellow servant. She believes she's being smuggled out of Gilead, and he's a member of the resistance posing as an undercover member of the secret police. However, it is entirely possible that Offred is actually being arrested.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BeingHuman'' ends its final season this way. [[spoiler: Did Tom, Hal and Alex really become human again and have their happy ending? Or are they still stuck in one of the Devil's dream worlds?]]
* ''Series/TheSopranos'' arguably has the king of all ambigious endings in its series finale. After disposing of his arch-nemesis Phil Leotardo, Tony is seen taking his wife Carmela and son AJ to a diner, later to be joined by their daughter Meadow. It's seemingly an upbeat scene, with the exception of Tony discussing potential legal troubles on the horizon. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" starts playing in the background, and you begin to see curious shots of seemingly random persons in the diner mixed in with shots of Tony and his family happily chomping down on onion rings. Arguably the most curious is a man wearing a Members Only jacket seen walking towards the bathroom. The music swells, and suddenly--cut to black, series over. To this day, fans continue to argue whether this implied that Tony was suddenly shot as the screen cut to black (Perhaps by the man in the Member's Only jacket?), or that it meant nothing at all--Tony and family continued to enjoy their food without interruption.
* In season 2 of ''Series/{{Forbrydelsen}}'', it's unclear whether or not the last thing the killer says is true.

* ''Theatre/AnnaChristie'' ends with a superficial HappyEnding, as Anna has agreed to marry Mat and her father Chris is finally OK with the wedding. But that resolution is promptly followed by anxiousness and melancholy, as the characters worry about the future.

* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' famously ended with a sequence so ambiguous that for years it was a subject of much speculation whether or not [[spoiler:humanity was wiped out by Holy]]. The sequels eventually cleared up the ambiguity.
* You gotta admit, ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'' [[GainaxEnding has such a strange one]] that you can make up whether it is either a HappyEnding, BittersweetEnding or just a downright DownerEnding. The worst part about it is that you never really find out the fate of everyone. It is to sure haunt players for years to come.
* ''YumeNikki'' ends with [[spoiler:[[{{Hikikomori}} Madotsuki]] [[DrivenToSuicide jumping off the balcony of her apartment]]]]. However, some players have interpreted this as a [[spoiler:''happy'' ending, assuming that ''everything'' in the game is [[AllJustADream all part of a dream]], and that her "reality" is in itself a series of false awakenings]].
* ''Videogame/BioshockInfinite'': The ending explains a great many things, but [[spoiler:the final fate of Booker, Elizabeth and Anna are left unanswered.]]
** The DLC Burial At Sea shows that [[spoiler:Elizabeth survived in some form or fashion, only to somehow get killed/lose her powers and then later die for real.]]
* ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'': Both endings only show what happens immediately after the player makes his or her decision, leaving the long-term consequences completely undefined. [[spoiler: Linking the Fire has the player [[HeroicSacrifice sacrifice him/herself]] and [[AndIMustScream burn forever]]. The Age of Fire and the Lords' rule will continue... but the Lords were ambiguous at best and most of them are now dead. The Dark Lord ending has the player refuse to burn and instead become the Dark Lord of the new Age of Dark. This ''may'' be the DeathOfTheOldGods and a golden age for man... or TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt for gods and men alike.]]
* ''Videogame/DarkSoulsII'': It only has one ending, but it's just as ambiguous. After all of the trials the Undead Hero endured, they finally claim the Throne of Want. Then...that's it. The game ends with no indication of whether the Undead Hero claiming the Throne changed anything or simply perpetuated the cycle from the previous game.
* ''TalesOfTheAbyss'' does resolve the issue with the BigBad, but what... or rather, '''who''' exactly the red-haired man is that appeared. Fans are ''still'' debating.
* ''{{VideoGame/Marathon}}'', specifically ''Infinity''. People are STILL CONFUSED, almost 20 years later!
* ''VideoGame/YearWalk'' revolves around a man, Daniel Svensson, who embarks on an Årsgång, a Year Walk, an ancient Swedish tradition steeped in folklore meant to be done during midnight of New Year's Eve which allows the walker a glimpse of the future, in order to find out if Stina, the girl he loves, is going to pick him or a different suitor. After having overcome trials TheFairFolk tasks him with he gets his answer: She doesn't love Daniel anymore. Furthermore he has a vision of Stina lying bleeding on a field... Cue the second act of the game where the player learns about the work of current-time folklore researcher Theodor Almsten who is reading about Year Walking and learns about the fate of Daniel who, according to historical documents, was executed after having stabbed Stina to death in accordiance with a vision he had while year walking. Theodor [[SanitySlippage quickly gets obsessed with the case]] and, convinced that it must be possible to save at least Stina's life, is soon contacted by the Fair Folk. Through signs they provide him he learns of a way to open a box that can connect the future and the past during a Year Walk and, hoping that Daniel will understand, he sends an OminousMessageFromTheFuture: A document detailing Daniel's trial and execution; his last words, "I should have killed myself"; a plead for Daniel to save Stina along with a knife that the Fair Folk left him, hoping that if Daniel kills himself, he'll be unable to harm the girl... The game does not reveal if Daniel ultimatedly ''does'' kill himself with the knife or if Theodor succeeded with nothing except [[StableTimeLoop providing Daniel with the knife he would murder Stina with]].
* The ending of the ''Franchise/GodOfWar'' is pretty conclusive, but the end leaves Kratos' ultimate fate a little unclear. [[spoiler:He appears to die via a HeroicSacrifice in order to purge the world of the evils of Pandora's Box, and then left dying on a beach by Athena. However, a post-credits scene shows his body missing and a trail of blood leading to the sea, making his true fate unknown.]]
* Saying that the final ending of ''VideoGame/{{Hellsinker}}'' is ambiguous is putting it lightly. While most of the endings are somewhat comprehensible ranging from bittersweet to flat out downers, the last one is deliberately unclear on what exactly happened.
* In ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward'' the events that apparently occurred in the Nevada Mars Mission Test Site are vital to the plot, although not much is actually known about what happened. All we know by the end of the game's true path, as well as the epilogues, is: That on December 31 2028 it was the place where Radical-6 first got out, claiming the infection's first victims. The people in the site where on a Mars mission simulation simulating a manned mission to Mars and among those at the site were Sigma, Phi, and a mysterious Woman. Aand the fact that the entire Nonary Game was creating a complex time-loop which would allow both old-man-Sigma and Phi to mind-swap into their bodies from a week before the Radical-6 outbreak, so that they could go to the test site and attempt to stop it and create an alternative history where the entirety of the game's events never happened. All of which explains primarily what's going on in Virtue's Last Reward's plot, so this isn't ''NoEnding'', but it still leaves many things unanswered. The main one of which is obviously whether or not Phi and Sigma succeed in their mission to stop the outbreak.
** The entire Nevada Test Site is full of noodle incidents which are obviously supposed to be left open for the game's sequel. Such as the incident where Sigma apparently lost his arms saving a woman, the moment where Radical-6 somehow got out, and by whom and how all this happened. The sequel itself however is on indefinite hiatus. Meaning we may never get a proper ending.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Doom}} Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil]]''. Did the Marine and [=McNeil=] [[spoiler: both die at the end and are living in the afterlife to honor their [[HeroicSacrifice sacrifices]]?]]
* ''VideoGame/WolfensteinTheNewOrder''. At the end of the game, [[spoiler: did B.J. die from his wounds sustained by Deathshead's grenade, or from the bomb dropped on the compound by LaResistance, or was rescued at the end in a helicopter as heard in TheStinger?]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Website/CollegeHumor:
** Defying this trope is the whole point of "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ntY4Ty3KGU Ambiguous Endings Resolved]]". ''Film/TheWrestler'' ends with Randy possibly jumping to his death, but his doctor suddenly interrupts his match to tell him his heart is actually fine; ''Film/LostInTranslation'' reveals that Bob Harris and Charlotte [[LoveConfession declared their love for each other]] during their hug at the end and discuss how to [[MurderTheHypotenuse kill Charlotte's husband]]; ''Film/NoCountryForOldMen'' ends with the deputy interrupting Sheriff Bell's solemn ending monologue to inform him that they caught Anton Chigurgh; ''Film/TheGraduate'' has Elaine and Ben realizing how inappropriate it was to run away at her wedding; and ''Series/TheSopranos'' reveals what happens after the notorious NoEnding in the series finale--Tony Soprano has been shot and killed by some rival mobsters.
** ZigzaggedTrope by "''Film/{{Inception}}'' [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wee1OlbIkcc Ending Extended]]", which ended by leaving open the possibility that it was AllJustADream. The credits go back and forth between the spinning top, the top stopping, the top spinning again, etc.

* Last episode of {{Cybersix}} ends ambiguously. Cybersix was so close to the exit, did she make it? The BigBad is dead but Jose is shown to have survived and the very last shot is of Lucas wondering the streets, looking up and seeing light in Adrian/Cybersix's window. Since the show was cancelled so we will likely never know what happened.
* The "Unknown Mystery Killer" episode of ''WesternAnimation/CelebrityDeathmatch'' ended with an intentional loose end. The killer - who had murdered Drew Barrymore, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, having the gall to do it ''[[EveryoneHasStandards outside the Deathmatch ring]]'' - simply called Nick and Johnny one last time to taunt them, but was never identified, saying Johnny catchphrase ("Good fight, good night") for him in an evil-sounding voice right before the credits rolled. (Of course, this was likely intentional.)