After a long fight, the Big Bad is finally defeated, his Evil Plan thwarted, his legions of robotic minions smashed to pieces, his living ones have been safely thrown in jail, The Dragon is dead, and the Quirky Miniboss Squad has decided to go straight and make a new life for themselves.
Congratulations are given, the dead are mourned, the Unresolved Sexual Tension is resolved (or is just about to be)...
Uh-oh, there's another call for help! The Starscream is causing trouble! No rest for the virtuous heroes, it's time to spring back into action!
Say what now?
Kind of a non-ending, we know. This kind of ending can come when a series is canceled before the author can plan out a full ending. Other times it's deliberate. Some stories just end before they can reach the Happily Ever After point. Sometimes, there is no Happily Ever After. Or it may be meant to imply that the adventuring lifeis their Happily Ever After, especially if they have recently contemplated quitting and decided against it, or recently regained their ability to continue.
The purpose behind this idea is to explain that the world that these characters inhabit is much, much larger than the stories that have been written about them. These characters, and all of their friends and foes that were encountered as we watched, continue on living their lives even if we aren't watching the story unfold. We can relax, knowing that they're still out there somewhere, still fighting the good fight, since that's how we saw them last.
Sort of like Here We Go Again, but the tone is usually more optimistic than the good-natured resignation of the former. The series acts as a window into the lives of the characters, and though it may be time for the audience (or the writer) to move on, their adventures or struggles will continue. In this case, there's the implication that the worst is over, and despite the danger, things will be all right for them from now on.
There have been several adventure stories that eliminate any sense of subtlety by featuring this phrase at the end but since it is such a great cinematic technique, most people tend to not care.
Compare Cliffhanger, Sequel Hook, Bolivian Army Ending, End of Series Awareness. This trope is the polar opposite of the Grand Finale. Can potentially serve as a Sequel Hook, should the creators ever decide to make more.
To Fan Fic or Expanded Universe writers, this can instead be like a blank check and a note saying "Go nuts!"
This is an Ending Trope, so spoilers ahoy!
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
Angel Densetsu wraps up the UST and gives us everyone finally acknowledging they are Kitano's True Companions, but the characters' lives are still going on.
Azumanga Daioh offers a very sedate example. The girls' time at high-school is over... they're going to various colleges... the youngest, Chiyo, is moving to America... and it looks like the little world we've come to love over the last 26 episodes is disappearing, as the older girls walk off and Chiyo watches them go.... before they call to her to come on, so they can spend the day together, and Chiyo realizes that while this part of their lives might be over, they'll always be together. *sniffle*
Season 2 of The Big O seems to close with Reset Button Ending, with Roger on his way to yet another negotiation. The sight of Angel and Dorothy watching him drive by, however, indicates that things aren't going to go exactly the same way.
Most forms of Slayers end this way, especially the anime. The only time it could be averted is at the end of the novels, where Gourry insists on coming to Lina's home kingdom. His reason for wanting to do this is ambiguous.
The ending of the Inuyasha anime is like this because it Overtook the Manga. Five years later, when the manga finally did end, a new anime season was made and wrapped the story up appropriately.
In Princess Princess the manga, the anime and the TV series all end with their respective problems solved, but the job of the princesses continue.
Godannar ends with a Mimetic Beast attack, just when the entire restored force happens to all be in one spot.
SD Gundam Force ends with the members of the Gundam Force being called once again to save another world in danger.
Mon Colle Knights ends in a similar way, with the Big Bad beaten but the Goldfish Poop Gang getting away (albeit a bit embarrassingly) and the six treasures scattered to the winds and waiting to be found again.
Dragon Ball ends with Goku going off to train with Uub, and the author promising that they have more adventures, which they solve somehow.
Garterbelt: ...ahem. Go forth, Brief and Chuck! Onward!
Gun Blaze West ended with Viu and his allies managing to pass the Baron's test and being permitted to continue on to GBW. An Indian guide comes to pick them up on buffaloes and they ride on to the next challenge. But not before Viu leaves his now damaged gun behind for his mentor Marcus to find so he can follow after them.
Tsubasa Chronicle. The epic legendary Mind Screw might have been in danger of making something approaching sense had there been any other kind of ending.
Baccano! (the anime only)has a three-part OVA wrap-up that ends many character arcs and putting most of our questions to rest (it even tells us What Happened to the Mouse?). However, rather than end on the same note as the main series, saying "Many Birthdays To Come" (It Makes Sense in Context), which came across as cheerfully final, the OVA ending says the traditional "What's Next On Baccano!", implying the characters' continued adventures.
Kero Kero Chime ends with the pages of the book that could have restored the main character from his curse scattered once again in the process of stopping the Big Bad, and the main cast heading out to gather them all over again.
The anime adaption of Kekkaishi ends with Kokoburo completely destroyed and Yoshimori and the others returning to the real world. Tokine was worried sick after Yoshimori impulsively uses a hidden power to destroy Kaguro, and the entire series wraps up with Yoshimori and Tokine at Karasumori where they continue to stop Ayakashi from claiming it.
The manga continues past it and ends more conclusively.
The Mysterious Cities of Gold ends like this, with Esteban, Tao and Zia setting off on the Golden Condor to find the remaining six Cities of Gold.
The second season of the anime for The World God Only Knows ends this way, with Elsie running up to tell Keima about a large number of Runaway Spirits being detected in the area, followed by a montage of the next several capture targets from the manga.
Super Atragon: The OVA ends with the Ra, repaired after her huge battle against the Liberty and half the subterranean race's weaponry, launching out towards the gigantic hole in Antartica left by the emergence of the black cylinders. Appropriately enough, the view is of the Ra going into the sunset.
THE iDOLM@STER - The characters keep stressing that even though 765 Pro is a huge success, this is only the beginning for them. Plus, they're financially back at square zero after getting scammed by Kuroi.
The first series of Mahoujin Guru Guru concludes with Nike and Kukuiri at the door of the final Boss Room, before deciding, in true RPG fashion, that they're having too much of a good time and are going to go off and level up some more – much to the frustration of said final boss, who was anticipating some form of closure.
The final episode of Popotan has its main characters reunite to continue time travelling. The very last shot sees them arriving in a time period where one of the previously seen side characters has grown up from teenager to adult.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! closes out this way, after all the opponents and obstacles the heroes go through. Tsuna still can't bring himself to tell his love interest he loves her nor decide if he truly will lead his mafia family. Due to this, Reborn decides to stick around for a while longer and continue tutoring him.
The Toonami programming block ends with a simple LATER. More heartwarmingly, the original run also ended this way, more details on that page.
The Sword Art Online anime ends with the cast deciding to run through the newly recreated Aincrad castle from start to finish, only this time without the Death Game aspect.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica ends with the world remade by Madoka's wish into a world without witches, but with wraiths in their place that, similarly, serve as an outlet for humanity's despair and a power source that can reverse entropy. However, magical girls now simply disappear when their Soul Gems are depleted, and Homura continues to fight on in spite of Madoka's absence, inspired by her faith in humanity rather than the desire to save her. There is an ambiguously apocalyptic-looking Distant FinaleStinger, but that scene was evidently not meant to be taken literally.
The sequel, Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, does this again, with extreme ambiguity. Homura de-powers Madoka so she can rewrite the world into heaven for the magical girls, and hell for the Incubators. But Sayaka, and seemingly Homura herself, hates her Well-Intentioned Extremist methods, and some of the other girls would probably agree if they didn't have Laser-Guided Amnesia. She says outright that she can't contain Madoka's power forever and that a, er, rebellion will likely occur. Another sequel to wrap this up is inevitable, but for now, it's basically a universe-sized chunk of Fanfic Fuel (comments from the creators imply this was intentional).
Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL ends with the universe saved and pretty much everybody who was killed in the final battle revived thanks to Yuma and Astral's efforts. Most shocking at all, Yuma and Katori were together, the first time ever a relationship in the franchise had worked out. Then they hear that the Astral World is being attacked by a new threat, and everybody volunteers to travel there and help.
Rosario + Vampire ends with Tsukune training under Issa and the gang going about their usual antics.
The Distant Finale of Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu showed the cast five years in the future. Puria and her cronies, Naoto, and Daiya are living happy lives on Earth, but Daiku Maryu's tentative forays into space are suddenly placed in peril when alien monsters attack. Daiya's Flame Gridder grows hot, signalling that the mechanical dragon is close, and it swoops down and [lucks him from the ground, and together they return to fight the monsters. Roll credits.
Future GPX Cyber Formula ended Sin this way. Naturally, being a series about Formula Onein the near future, it means Hayato continues racing and almost all the other characters, as they do in the real world, shuffle about from team to team and prepare for the next racing season.
Watchmen ends with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre coming out of retirement to fight crime together. Then there's The Stinger, implying that they may have to deal with the fallout from Rorschach exposing Ozymandias' crimes...
Happens a lot in superhero comics, especially ones published by DC and Marvel. Since almost all their series are Long Runners which go on indefinitely, many departing writers finish off their runs on a particular hero's title with this trope; thus putting a capstone on their own run on the character while assuring readers that the hero will be back with new adventures (written by someone else) next month.
The Justice League Unlimited quote listed at the top of the page was anticipated by several years by Grant Morrison, who ended his run on the Justice League comic with a similar scene. Having just saved the entire universe from a rampaging cosmic war machine, the League are given a few precious minutes to relax before receiving word that another of their old enemies is up to no good. Batman sighs, but Superman gives him a grin and says "Come on, Bruce. You know you love it."
The first 12-issue run of Young Avengers ends with this. Everyone on the team except new member Tommy are hanging around Avengers Mansion. Then they hear an explosion from across town, and Tommy zooms in, complete with his new costume and codename, explaining that supervillains are at the UN building. Oh, and he just blew up fighting them, so Billy's got to magically put it back together ("You can do that, right?")
Billy: This is not going to end well, is it?
Teddy: No way. But I have to admit - (everyone starts running) - I can't wait to see what happens next!
At the end of the SLG Gargoyles comic book sequel series, Goliath is almost giddy that his clan has just doubled in size in less than half an hour with the arrival of an older Brooklyn and his family from their timedancing adventures as well as Coldstone and Coldfire to stay. At that, the call that The Pack is on the loose again is not merely an emergency to attend to for Goliath, but also a moment of celebration as the whole clan takes off to kick bad guy butt together with relish.
This type of ending is mocked in The Boys - along with most of the other conventions of comic books and superheroes, unsurprisingly. Jack From Jupiter says, of the winners of "Best New Team", "There's a 'Feels more like a beginning' waiting to happen if I ever saw one", going on to say that when the team inevitably break up and begin their long, painful slide in obscurity and worse, the comic book always ends with one of them "gazing off-panel" and saying that, for an end, it feels more like a beginning.
At the end of the Camelot 3000 comic series, King Arthur is dead and the surviving knights set about rebuilding the civilization of Earth. Meanwhile, on some distant planet, a small alien creature stumbles across Arthur's sword Excalibur (which it then wields against a group of aliens who had been pursuing it) as we are told "The road goes ever on..."
The final line of the ongoing Batgirl series is Stephanie's narration as she swings into the Gotham night for her next adventure.
"Here we go."
The ending of Red Robin is similar since both it and Batgirl ended because the DC Relaunch.
The Incredibles ends with The Underminer emerging from below in a huge Drill Tank, and the titular heroes about to go after him. (The Incredibles is getting a sequel, as of 2014.)
Monsters vs. Aliens ends with the monster heroes responding to an emergency in Paris. Seeing how the team has just triumphed in their first mission and Paris was where Susan wanted to go for her honeymoon before her jerk of a fiance talked her out of it for his career, going on this new mission is definitely a happy ending for them.
The Adventures of Tintin: Amid the treasure recovered by Sir Francis Haddock, Tintin discovered a scroll leading to the rest of the treasure of the Unicorn.
Tintin: What was it you said, four-hundred weight of treasure? How's your thirst for adventure, Captain? Captain Haddock: Unquenchable, Tintin!
The Rescuers ends with the arrival of another call for help (possibly from Australia), and Bianca volunteering herself and a reluctant Bernard. The sequel ends with Bernard and Bianca getting engaged and presumably going off to continue their rescue work.
Films — Live-Action
Backdraft: The firefighting crew are seen to be taking another call just before the credits roll.
The first Back to the Future movie ends this way (not necessarily a guaranteed Sequel Hook, since the "To Be Continued" was added for home video releases). Then they go and continue it directly in the second movie. (The second movie also ends like this, but since they made the second and third movies at the same time, there was never any actual doubt that the story would be continued at that point.)
The Dark Knight Rises seemingly ended with Bruce Wayne dying, until Alfred spotted him in Italy with Selina Kyle. The final shot has Robin Blake standing in the batcave, implying that the Dark Knight will return.
True Lies ends with the Taskers working together on a new mission.
Kirk: Captain's log, stardate 9529.1. This is the final cruise of the starship Enterprise under my command. This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man, where no one, has gone before.
Star Trek Into Darkness: Or rather, the adventure begins, with the film ending as the Enterprise leaves Earth to begin its five-year deep space exploration mission, which was basis for the original series.
The end of The Film of the SeriesS.W.A.T. has the team heading off on another mission, despite their shift having technically ended several hours ago.
The Master and Commander movie, The Far Side of the World ends with Jack Aubrey realizing that the captain of the Acheron (the ship he just captured and sent away with part of his crew) is actually alive and still aboard the ship disguised as a doctor. He immediately cancels his plans to relax on the Galapagos and sails off in pursuit as the credits begin to roll.
Still, Conan the Destroyer still fit the Trope. At the end, Conan's allies choose to stay with Jehnna as members of her court, but Conan himself turns down her offer to rule by her side, saying he will find his own kingdom. The final scene of the film ends with him sitting in a darkened room:
Narrator: So it was that Conan mourned his lost Valeria. At length, he sought adventure in distant lands and trod the jeweled thrones of the earth beneath his sandaled feet, until at last he found his own Kingdom and wore his crown upon a troubled brow.
Caption(With Dramatic Music): But That Is Another Story...
Super Mario Bros. ends with Koopa defeated, the barrier between the worlds restored, and Daisy running the kingdom. But one day, while the Mario Bros. are relaxing...
Daisy:(Bursts in, dressed for war) You're not going to believe this!
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ends with many of the loose ends tied up, but Barbossa once again steals the Black Pearl from Jack Sparrow. Sparrow, meanwhile, appears to know just where Barbossa is headed next, and seems to be looking forward to the adventure of getting his ship back again.
But now there's going to be a fourth movie, so this turned into a Sequel Hook.
The Fourth Movie ended similarly, with Barbossa in command of a different ship of his own now, while Jack has to work to restore the Black Pearl (which Barbossa "wrecked")...along with a whole fleet of powerful pirate ships.
The Specials ends with the team, having patched their differences and renewed their sense of purpose, getting a call from the president. Giant ants are attacking the Pentagon and none of the A-list teams are available, leaving them to jet off and save the day.
The Blade Trilogy movies tended to end in this manner. Like in the first one, after the defeat of Big Bad, Blade is offered a cure for vampirism. "There's still job to be done. You want to help? Make me a better serum." The original planned ending for the third one was going to be this as well. The idea was that they had wiped out the vampires...and now were going to deal with werewolves instead.
Starship Troopers: The movie ends with Johnny Rico in charge of the Roughnecks and a Federation propaganda spot, enticing civilians to enlist for the war effort.
After the credits of the Yatterman movie, a fake "next episode" trailer plays, featuring the Big Bad's brother seeking revenge, Dorombo Gang building a 2.0 version of the mecha used in the final battle, Doronjo in a white version of her usual costume (referred as a "wedding version") and the Yatterpelican.
The ending of The Hurt Locker, though an odd variant. Sergeant James walks back into Iraq for the beginning of another year-long rotation, not just because he's Married to the Job, but because it's the only thing he knows how to do anymore.
By the end of Prometheus, the crew of the titular spaceship has foiled the Engineers' plot to destroy all life on Earth, but Shaw (the sole survivor) still has no idea why they wanted to wipe out the species that they helped create in the first place. So in the movie's final scene, she boards a spare Engineer spacecraft, and with David the android as her guide, plots a course for the Engineers' home planet...
Towards the end of Black Hawk Down, the last we see of Hoot is him grabbing a bite to eat, grabbing his gear, and heading back out into the city to search for the pilot who was taken prisoner earlier in the film. He even casually remarks that it's Monday, the start of a whole new week.
The Falcon movies with George Sanders (and later Tom Conway) always ended with a woman approaching the Falcon and telling him that she's in trouble. Naturally, the Falcon takes her up on her pleas for help.
The first Hoodwinked film ends with Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and the Wolf being offered positions in Nicky Flippers' organization, the Happily Ever After Agency, so that their services can be used again. Similarly, the sequel ends with Red and the Wolf driving off to stop another catastrophe.
Innerspace ends with Jack chasing Tuck and Lydia's limo down a highway after recognizing their limo driver as the Cowboy.
At the end of the 1975 Doc Savage adaptation Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, our hero returns to his office to find an alarming message left on his answering machine by one of the Fabulous Five, causing him to race off in his car. We're then told that Doc will return in Doc Savage: The Arch Enemy of Evil. Due to the mediocre response to the movie by both critics and audience, he didn't.
The Last Airbender closes out the same way it's animated adaption first season did. Aang single-handily stops the Fire Nation from destroying the Northern Water Tribe and Ozai charging Azula with going after the Avatar. Unlike the cartoon however, the film gained too much of a negative reaction that will make it unlikely it'll have any sequels.
Dance Of The Dead sees Jimmy, Lindsey, Jules, George, Jensen, Dave and Coach Keel surviving a prom full of zombies, rescuing the surviving students and blowing up the school. Jensen then suggests making sure that the power plant responsible for the outbreak is shut down, to which Keel responds by recruiting all the students for the task...but not before treating them to pancakes while they discuss battle tactics.
The Black Tattoo: At the end of the book, Jack and friends return home. Jack is somehow once again able to eat human food, but after having nearly sacrificed himself in order to convince an almighty Physical God to not cause Armageddon, and inadvertently convincing said Physical God to spare him in the process, Jack finds himself exasperated by the monotony of being an Ordinary High-School Student again. Then his friends from the Brotherhood arrive to say that creatures from Hell are causing some problems, and that they think he'd be the best person to help out
The five-book main series of the Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller ends like this, with a new character running up to Our Heroes on the second-to-last page of the book to explain that she is in really bad trouble. The book ends on the line:
She nodded. "It's kind of complicated," she started . . .
Several years later, two side-story novels were written to explain the nature of the "complicated" problem, followed by Ghost Ship which picked up where the last book left off.
Sometimes he thought that an endless quest had been set them for some purpose, and that the seeking, not the finding, was their full reward. And it was good.
The final book in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel series ends with both the Story Arc and the storyline of the book itself unresolved (but with a resolution in place, once they have the chance to use it), and the Doctor and his companions leaping into danger.
In Michael Ende's original novel The Neverending Story, many secondary plot threads are left hanging with the phrase "But that's another story, and will be told another time," thus implying that...uh...the adventure continues.
Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes ends with Classy Cat-Burglar Tracy on a flight to Brazil to marry her partner-in-crime Jeff; having pulled off one last big score they intend to go straight. It turns out that her seat mate on the flight is the uber-rich, uber-juicy target Maximilian Pierpont, whom Jeff always wanted to go after, and the lecher wants to get acquainted with her...
The Chronicles of Narnia ends with everyone living in Aslan's perfect kingdom and evil being gone forever. But now the real adventure begins, each chapter more exciting than the last, and never ending.
The final instrumental track of the first Narnia film is titled "Only the Beginning of the Adventure."
More than one book in the Hank the Cowdog series has ended with this tone, implying that the work as Head of Ranch Security never ends.
Hank: Case closed, and back to work!
The Animorphs series ends this way... so much so that the final book is titled The Beginning.
The Harry Potter series ends this way as well. According to Word of God, Harry and Ron do become Aurors after the war (Harry rising to Head of the Auror Office at 27), which means they spend the rest of their lives doing the very same thing they've been doing for the last 7 years: stopping Dark wizards. Add the fact that Dark Lords seem to crop up quite frequently, the last two being active within 30 years of each other, and that wizards live long lives, and the adventure really has just started.
Many fanfics add Hermione's work in the Department of Law Enforcement (which may make her their boss), and Ginny's work as a reporter, to their adventures.
The next generation being sent off to school. If they're anything like their parents, there will be plenty of hijinks going on at Hogwarts.
Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn sets this trope up by having the Sitha woman Aditu recite a prophecy over The Wise Prince Josua's twin children. As the characters openly wonder what it means, they discuss the fact that history isn't going to end with their current woes, and there will be more great deeds and adventures to come once the Storm King is defeated.
Starship Troopers: The book ends with newly commissioned Lieutenant Johnny Rico in charge of the Roughnecks, still assigned to the Roger Young, and reunited with his father, who ended up a sergeant in the unit with him.
The first series of Percy Jackson and the Olympians ends this way with not only another prophecy, but with Annabeth and Percy running down the camp hill and not looking back leaving a very ambiguous feel to what is yet to come.
All of the books in the series seem to end this way for the most part. It usually ends with Annabeth and Percy, or another mix of campers saying goodbye before telling each other they'll see each other next summer.
The Sequel Series, The Heroes of Olympus, ends this way as well. Leo, thought dead by all of his friends, retrieves Calypso from Ogygia, and together they fly off on Festus, neither knowing nor caring where they were headed.
In Miss Peregrines Homefor Peculiar Children, Jacob and Emma defeat the Wight and manage to save Miss Peregrine, but not Miss Avocet. They then discover that the home has been destroyed by a German bomb, disabling their Time Loop and forcing Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children to not live the same day over and over again. Concurrently, Horace discovers that Wights have taken Miss Avocet to an unknown location that could easily be in an alternate loop in any continent at any time. The book ends with everyone rowing out to sea.
Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit ends with Roger bursting into Eddie's office with a new crime for him to solve, adding that he suspects Jessica of dating Cary Grant.
But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
The Sword of Truth grays the difference between this and a Sequel Hook. The main arc does wrap up, but there remains both some very specific things left to be done and some adventures to be had.
Since each book is designed to be somewhat stand-alone, the entire series has this feel. In more than half of the books they end up cleaning up their mistakes from previous books, so it's somewhat justified, bizarrely.
The Orphan's Tales ends with Aerie, Lantern, Solace, Scald, and Sleeve showing up to embrace Sorrow as her family. The prince is sad, as he thinks his role in the story is over... until Sorrow reaches out to him, asking him to join her on her future adventures, and he follows her with great enthusiasm.
The Inheritance Cycle ends like this, with Eragon leaving Alagaesia for good to raise the dragons, leaving Nasuada and Arya the Queens of their respective people, Roran as the new runler of Palancar Valley, and Murtague as the The Drifter. It's implied that, because all the Dragon Riders are almost immortal, most of the magical cast will see each other again, leaving the story open for both C.P. and fanfict writers to return to if they wish. Really, it just leaves open more questions then it actually answers.
The end of Corambis. The author has said she wanted to make it clear that the story didn't end with the narrative, and she definitely did.
This often happens to Rincewind: while everyone else in the book gets an eding, Rincewind is flung towards a new adventure.
The Truth ends with a traffic accident that the Ankh-Morpork Times of course has to cover.
Monstrous Regiment ends with Polly Perks heading off to deal with the threat of a second war with Zlobenia, this time taking advantage of her connections with the Ankh-Morpork Times and Lieutenant (now Captain) Blouse, her status as a sergeant in the Borogravian army, and a list of higher-ranking officers who are secretly women in disguise provided by Sergeant Jackrum.
The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ends with Willy Wonka and the Bucket family getting an invitation to the White House for saving most of a space hotel's crew from carnivorous aliens, and Charlie acknowledging that even after all that's happened between the two books, their adventures aren't done yet. (Roald Dahl did make an abortive attempt at a third novel that would have picked up on this ending.) Perhaps as a tribute to both books' endings having this trope's feel, the Not His Sled ending of the 2013 stage musical adaptation of Chocolate Factory applies this trope to Willy Wonka, who hands ownership of the factory over to Charlie and his family immediately — and reveals to the audience that he's retiring from running it because there's still so much he wants to create.
The Wraith Squadron novel Mercy Kill — the first book published in the X-Wing Series in over a decade — concerned the Wraiths Putting the Band Back Together after being officially decommissioned due to office politics. After the crisis du jour is dealt with, the Wraiths get together and reminisce on events, coming to the conclusion that is was a good last hurrah for the Wraiths. Team Leader, and recently appointed Minister of Intelligence, Face Loran cuts in, saying that since they remain anonymous and not directly connected to the government, it doesn't have to be their last hurrah...
The original run of Doctor Who ends with the Doctor and Ace, having defeated the villain of the week, happily wander back to the TARDIS to continue adventuring, with the accompanying voice over: "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace. We've got work to do."
The Movie ends much the same way, with the Doctor leaving to continue adventuring and another TARDIS malfunction.
The last episode of The A-Team ended with this discussion:
Hannibal: Chasing thugs through the park...it's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Face: It has a terrible ring to it.
Murdock: Just think, if we get a pardon, we may never have to eat a knuckle sandwich again.
B.A.: I wouldn't bet on it, Crazy Man. Looks like Hannibal's on the jazz again.
Face: What, what, wha-
Murdock: No, you - you tell me right now, you tell me right to my face, you tell me that you don't have a plan.
Hannibal: Well I - I was thinking, what are we gonna do when this thing's over? I mean, what are we really qualified to do?
Face: Go after...thugs in the park?
Hannibal: And...outlaw motorcycle gangs, organized crime figures...why, there's a world of slimeballs out there.
Murdock: I knew it. I just knew you had a plan.
Hannibal: Comforting, isn't it?
B.A.: I'll get the van.
The series finale of ER ends as a series of ambulances carrying patients from a mass casualty pulls into the ambulance bay of the hospital, effectively showing that the circle keeps turning, the adventure continues and there will always be work for the doctors of the ER. The series also pays tribute to the old gang; prospective medical student Rachel Greene - daughter of original main character Dr. Mark Greene, who died roughly halfway through the show's run - joins in on the action after being introduced to emergency medicine by a Back for the Finale Dr. Carter, implying that within a few years there will be another Dr. Greene at County General. In a neat bit of Book Ends, Dr. [Mark] Greene called to "Dr. Carter" at the end of the first episode; the series ends with Dr. Carter calling to (future) "Dr. [Rachel] Greene." Meanwhile the old gang - including Drs. Corday, Weaver, and Rasgotra - are shown to be happily settled in to their lives post-County.
Stargate SG-1 ends with the team heading through the gate on yet another mission. Things aren't completely settled, but with the "nullification" (read: death) of the Ori, and the knowledge of the Asgard in Earth's hands, we are confident of a final victory against the remaining, corporeal followers of the Ori (which is shown in the 11th season first SG-1 movie "The Ark of Truth"). Both sequelmovies end in this way too.
On a smaller scale, we have the ending to "Proving Ground", in which a group of cadets have gone through several training scenarios believing that they're the real thing, only for a "real" incident to occur after they finish the last scenario. At the very end, the leader of the group of cadets asks O'Neill if they're really done this time. O'Neill answers yes, just as the SGC's sirens start up again.
Likewise, at the end of Power Rangers S.P.D., though Jack has left the force to pursue his true calling of helping the poor, the remaining Rangers — sporting new colors — stop by to visit, then rush off to another call.
These examples are atypical in Power Rangers history, as in all the other post-Zordon-era series, the finale has the Rangers lose their powers (Dino Thunder, Ninja Storm), return their powers back to their mentor since they are no longer needed (Wild Force, RPM), give up their powers to pursue other vocations (Operation Overdrive, Jungle Fury, Lost Galaxy) or leave the scene (Time Force). Since SPD is set some decades in the future, Lightspeed Rescue is the only series to end with a set of Rangers still active in another city at the time of the following season (Wes and Eric kept their powers at the end of Time Force, but the rest of the team went back to the 31st century).
A rare instance of this trope ending a single episode - in Chuck, one story ended with the title character getting ready to enjoy a short vacation from spy work while his partners/handlers were called away called on another mission. Chuck decides to forego the vacation and come along.
Q: That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars, or studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.
Picard: Q, what is it that you're trying to tell me?
Q: [Leans forward to whisper in Picard's ear and then coyly pulls away] You'll find out. In any case, I'll be watching. And if you're very lucky I'll drop by to say hello from time to time. See you... out there.
Picard: [starts to deal] So, five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky's the limit.
While most episodes have the Enterprise continuing on its mission, the pilot also uses this one:
Picard: Let's see what's out there. Engage.
Star Trek: Enterprise ended its final episode by combining the legendary "Space, the final frontier" narration split between Picard era, Kirk era and Archer Era Enterprises. In this case since the show was a prequel, we most certainly know that the adventure continues. Even though the final episode was sub-par, that was about the best final scene you could hope for.
After Monk finally solved the mystery behind his wife's murder, we see him going to advise on a crime scene before the final credits roll.
In Angel, the final episode ends just as the heroes are just going into the start of the apocalypse battle — message being that "you never stop fighting." There are probably some other reasons for the ambiguous ending, as the show was suddenly canceled by the WB. And the series was picked back up in comic book form, anyway.
Kamen Rider Kiva - just as two major characters tie the knot, Wataru's Kid from the Future comes rushing in, seeking help against the "Neo-Fangire". All the Riders suit up, the Arms Monsters transform, and they all leap at the screen. Wonder if the Neo-Fangire had any connection to Dai Shocker...
Speaking of, Kamen Rider Decade's story ended with the heroes continuing to travel through many worlds, with homeless main character Tsukasa declaring that the journey itself is his home world.
Hill Street Blues: The final scene is the precinct office, still in business after a fire. The last words: a police officer answers a phone with "Hill Street."
Spooks ends on a particularly bittersweet version of this. Ruth is dead, her name added to MI-5's enormous memorial wall note which lists every character who died over the course of the show's ten-year run, but Section D still has a job to do, and despite being in the grips of one of the most painful HeroicBSODs in TV history, Harry picks up the phone and gets back to work.
Really, it's because of the BSOD, and more specifically Harry's inability to see himself living a civilian life without Ruth, that he returns to the Grid and picks up that phone.
'Every episode of Zoboomafoo ends with Zoboo leaping back to Madagascar and the Kratts running off to visit some new environment.
At the end of Brazilian Soap Opera A Próxima Vítima (The Next Victim), the detective was called to solve another murder.
Desperate Housewives ends with the main characters eventually leaving Wisteria Lane, but the ending narration notes that as new neighbors move into the neighborhood, there will still be dark secrets to hide and protect.
Sanctuary: The series finale ends with A presumed-dead Magnus introducing Will to a new, underground version of the Sanctuary with "Shall we begin?"
Mystery Science Theater 3000 ends with Mike and the bots freed from years of having to watch bad movies on the Satellite of Love, so they move into an apartment together and... watch bad movies on the couch.
The finale of Warehouse 13 does it twice. First, as Pete seeks reassurance from Mrs Frederic that the Warehouse won't be moving any time soon, Artie announces they have a ping, and they all start talking at once. The characters gradually fade away ... and we move to "several decades" later, where Claudia is watching a bunch of new agents also all arguing about a ping.
The Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22) ends with Dean loading up the Impala's trunk and saying "We got work to do". They had just defeated the Yellow-Eyed Demon, the Big Bad of the first two seasons, and the show had yet to be renewed by the time this episode originally aired. So despite a few lingering threads it would have served as an overall serviceable finale had the CW chosen not to continue it.
The 2014 revival of Cosmos ends on this note. It uses the discoveries of dark energy and dark matter to highlight that humanity is at the beginning, not the end, of our scientific journey and emphasizes the importance of scientific literacy. The episode closes on a shot of the unmanned Ship of the Imagination, inviting the viewer to explore the cosmos.
The first three Spyro the Dragon games give you that exact line after you beat the final boss and watch the ending cutscene.
In one of Chrono Trigger's Multiple Endings, Crono, Marle, and Lucca end up piloting the Epoch once more to rescue Crono's mom (and 1-11 cats) that accidentally went through a Gate.
The Harvest Moon and its many offshoots are like this. When some game-specific significant event occurs, such as your character's marriage, the credits roll. Then, you can continue playing. In fact, there is often some post-end content such as new seeds, or new NPCs to romance.
Dragon Age: Origins could end this way, though special mention goes to the ending if you romanced Morrigan and decide to try to find her. The DLC module Witch Hunt can end with you and Morrigan stepping off into the unknown together.
A rather epic version of this happens in Alundra, where after destroying Melzas and saving Inoa, Alundra walks off into the proverbial sunset, only to see ominous clouds gathering over a distant valley. Heroic music starts playing as Alundra smiles and walks towards them, signifying the beginning of a new adventure.
Kingdom Hearts II after the credits. "A letter from the King?" And the first installment, with the main party chasing after Pluto who is carrying another such letter.
Freedom Fighters ends with Chris and Isabella getting ready to defend themselves from a retaliatory attack from the Soviet army.
Threads of Fate gets this treatment with a stinger clip after winning both scenarios, with Rue and Mint joining Claus in the search for another relic.
The first ending of No More Heroes ends with Travis being ambushed by a challenger while on the toilet. The "true" ending went straight into Mind Screw territory.
Devil May Cry 4's secret ending ends with one of these, with Dante getting another call and Lady and Trish joining him on another assignment.
Kyle: There's still a whole galaxy of trouble out there. Ready for another mission?
Jaden: As luck would have it, I am. [Credits roll to Star Wars theme]
Batman: Arkham Asylum ends with the Joker apprehended, Arkham reclaimed by Gotham PD, and Batman — who's just been beaten from here to kingdom come in the course of the night — talking with Jim Gordon. When Gordon says he should go home and rest, an APB goes out saying that Two-Face has just robbed a bank... and Batman flies back into Gotham on the Batplane.
Batman: Arkham Origins, too. Once the main plotline is over, the player can continue the game, tying up all the loose ends.
Batman: Well, if you're up for it, I've got a few loose ends to tie up out here - and I could use your help.
Alfred: You can count on it. And when you get home, we can finally have that Christmas dinner I've been keeping warm for you - for our breakfast.
The ending for Mega Man V (otherwise known as Rockman World 5) for the Game Boy. The Stardroids are destroyed, Wily cowers, but leads to a chase.
Similarly, Sonic Adventure ends with Eggman escaping, and Sonic chasing him.
The ending to Quest for Glory IV ended with the main character being teleported out of the middle of his award ceremony in order to save Silmaria. One of the endings to the final game in the series has the main character turning down the chance to be king in order to continue adventuring and fighting evil in other lands.
Dragon Quest IX takes this trope to an extreme. Not only does the ending message say "To Be Continued...", it immediately puts you in the post-game epilogue ready to take on new quests.
Golvellius: Valley of Doom ends with hero Kelesis defeating the title character and freeing Rena. The seven crystals he had collected in his journey enter Golvellius' body and restore him to the side of goodness, and Kelesis and Rena return to their kingdom but both leave almost immediately to search for Kelesis' sister. They're even met on their way by Golvellius who accompanies them.
SaGa 2 ends as the protagonist, this time joined by both parents, set off on another adventure, soon after completing the one that comprised the game's plot.
Ōkami ends with Amaterasu and Waka sailing the Ark of Yamato back to the Celestial Plane. A Sequel Hook of the finest order.
Ōkamiden also ended with one of these, with Kuni leaving home, and saying that this wasn't the last adventure he'd have with Chibiterasu.
Shortly before Portal 2 was officially announced, the ending for Portal was changed from Chell escaping the Aperture Science testing facility to fall unconscious on the ground outside to add an Aperture Science robot dragging her back in.
Happens at the end of Stinkoman 20X6 where after defeating Harvax XVII with his Stinkowing, Stinkoman actually flies toward the villain's castle where his friends Pan Pan and 1-Up are held captive. The game ends with a caption saying "Last Level to Come!"
(Before credits)Apollo: ...And that's pretty much the end of my story. For now, anyway. I've still got a long way to go. And this power of mine... well, it needs some work. But... there's hope now. We'd lost it, but somehow, we found it again. That's why people are smiling again... Hope. Yeah, I think I'll keep at this lawyer thing for a while. Oops, training time. Gotta go. Chords of Steel... here comes Justice!
(After credits)Vera: The door is open. The world is waiting. Thank you.
"This marks the end of an epic battle. The winner emerges with the pride and honor of a hard won victory, but also with a nagging sense of uncertainty. The loser walks away with a heart heavy with shame and anger, ready to make a new start and fight again another day. Both warriors know that this isn't truly the end. Neither one's potential has been truly reached, and there is much hard training ahead. They'll never forget the days of exchanging blows at a fevered pitch. They'll never forget the days of lost hope, of self-loathing. Once they've caught their breath, the warriors will return to the ring. This is the burden of the true fighter. There is no other choice. Who knows where their next opponent lies? This story may be over, but the battle is just beginning!"
The ending of Metal Gear Solid 4. Sort of. Snake knows that he has less than a year left to live, but he wants to stick around long enough to see what a world without the Patriots will look like. He knows that his fight is over, but he decides to take Otacon and Sunny along with him for one last adventure. Cue road trip.
Also invoked in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: After defeating Senator Armstrong and thwarting his plan to spark a global war to take the Presidency and establish a Social Darwinist regime, Raiden leaves his friends at Maverick to continue the fight against Armstrong's PMC, World Marshal, on his terms.
Although they don't really have any "endings," MMORPGs often give this treatment to the aftermath of major global events. The world has been saved and its would-be destroyer is now on farm status, but (barring developer abandonment) who knows what the next update will bring? This is especially evident in games with an Expansion Pack structure.
At the end of Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, before the credits, Dessier says that he knows this isn't the end, but the beginning, as Arls, now part of the Arland Republic, has a bright future. Meruru expresses a similar sentiment and then you get to see a bit of how her adventures continue, based on which ending you qualified for.
The ending of Borderlands 2 has the Vault Hunters discovering that the Vault Key is a map to vaults all over the galaxy.
Most of the Video Game/Metroid games have this after you've gone through the credits and seen how well you did, giving the player the message "See You Next Mission".
Burning Stickman Presents...Something! ended like this, with the main characters, having beaten the villain and saved the world, being sent out to stop an armored car robbery, with Franco remarking, "It's gonna be a good day." The author was going to quote the Justice League Unlimited ending instead, but his brother, on whom Franco was based, objected and suggested the actual ending line.
Red vs. Blue likes this. The original five seasons, or Blood Gulf Chronicles, ended with dialogue mirroring the very first episode. Revelation ends with the Reds and Blues returning to their bases in a box canyon to have more zany adventures. After all they went through - all the crazy things that happened, the people who died, everything - life was going to go on, the same way it had before.
This beautiful amateur animation ends with the two male protagonists riding back into their hometown, dropping the map into the hands of two squabbling friends and riding off with a curvaceous female each. This is exactly the same as the beginning, except there is two of them. It is implied the circle will continue.
Worm's last chapter has the Undersiders, reinvigorated with new members, setting out to take down some bad guys (so that they can continue their own Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters policies) and, in Imp's words, "drop Teacher (the guy set up as the new Big Bad) down an elevator shaft".
The last episode itself has the Titans repeatedly clash with some sort of elementally-metamorphic robot, while Beast Boy's distracted by the apparent return of Terra who insists she's just a regular girl who doesn't know him. Neither of these issues really gets a resolution, as BB decides to leave her be and join his friends in fighting the good fight once again.
The Sam & Max: Freelance Police cartoon ended with the duo defeating their Rogues Gallery, with Sam wondering worriedly now that they've dispatched their long-time nemeses, what are they going to do now. Max assures him not to worry, because there will always be a need for them and looks expectantly at the phone. Then waits some more nervously. Then he yells at the phone to ring, which it does, and Sam and Max are happy to know that their adventures continue. Then they fight each other to pick up the phone.
"Our quest begins." — tells us Toa Mata Nui at the end of BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn. A quest that involves traveling through a dangerous maze, dealing with ancient elemental warriors and finding an energy source for re-powering a dead Humongous Mecha and duking it out with another planet-sized robot that cast Mata Nui's people into slavery. A sequel was planned, but LEGO pulled the plug on Bionicle before the script could have been finalized.
The final episode of Xiaolin Showdown ends with every member of the monks Rogues Gallery standing outside the temple, ready for another battle. The monks happily charge forward, and it's almost certain they'll win again.
Storm Hawks ends this way, with the war over, except that the heroes have departed to the Far Side in pursuit of the Big Bad. The final scene gives us a glimpse of the Far Side and the Storm Hawks' awe-struck reactions before Aerrow simply grins and says: "This is gonna be fun."
At the end of the Adventure Time pilot, after saving Princess Bubblegum, Pen and Jake spot ninjas stealing an old man's diamonds and chase after them.
The 2009 animated movie Wonder Woman polishes off her big adventure, but before the credits roll, a new villain attacks and she launches into action with confidence, as if to suggest that from now on she'll be flattening monsters on a regular basis.
The Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Time Out For Justice!" ends with one of the twelve pieces of Equinox's mind destroyed. The other eleven are out there somewhere in time and space.
Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade ends with T.J. telling the audience that the fifth grade year is going to be their best year yet, right before the movie ends. This was also the "true" ending to the series.
The last episode of the Tintin animated series consisted of an adaptation of Tintin in America, the oldest comic not entirely considered an Old Shame. This episode ends with Tintin receiving a phone call presumably informing him of a disaster he must investigate, then rushing out the door as the epic theme song plays.
Generator Rex's finale stinger: After every EVO in the world has been cured, effectively completing Rex's original job permanently Rex and Six are called in against a giant robotic enemy.
When Scooby-Doo and the gang defeat the Nibiru Entity in the finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, it creates an alternate timeline in their town of Crystal Cove in which the Nibiru entity and the teams of past mystery solvers never existed, and everyone in town is happier due to not being influenced by the evil. Even the Big Bad Professor Pericles gets a new lease on life. However, the Scooby team now have normal teenage lives and there seem to be no more mysteries to solve. At least until they get a message saying there will always be mysteries that need solving. In essence, the series ends where Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! begins.
The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin seems to end with Teddy, Grubby, and Gimmick returning to Rillionia, only for the final episode to end with the trio taking off in their airship for more adventure.
Young Justice also uses this as the Team moves into the Watchtower alongside the League and get ready to go off on another mission.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series ends with Hal Jordan and Kilowog continuing to protect Sector 2814 and Razer believing that Aya is still out there. As Razer flies out to find her, a Blue Lantern ring drifts into the frame.
This page may have reached its end at last, but the creativity of mankind lives on. And as long as fiction exists... so will those who observe and analyze it. This Troper will return.