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Orphaned Series

When the author of a series abandons the storyline entirely, either from lack of interest, time, money, inspiration, or pulse, the series is said to be orphaned.

This is a distressingly common problem with webcomics, as many are written part-time by authors who have significantly underestimated the amount of time and effort of scripting and drawing three strips a week; a series may begin to suffer more and more frequent (or longer) schedule slips, until the author either takes an extended hiatus which then becomes permanent, or else simply stops updating the series without warning to the readers. Free comic hosting sites such as Comic Genesis and Drunk Duck are littered with the wreckage of hundreds of such series, some of which have only a single introductory strip to indicate that they ever were even conceived.

On rare occasions, a seemingly Orphaned Series may be resurrected, either by the original artist or by another taking it over. Fans may wait for years in vain for this to happen, but it almost never does.

An even worse case is when the webcomic literally vanishes from the Internet because the account it was hosted on was deleted due to the bill not being paid in a long time.

The more extreme Schedule Slips blur the line. See also Dead Fic. Compare Vaporware, which is something the creator claims not to have given up on — but almost all the fans have. Many a Stillborn Franchise are this, as they could have sequels if not for this. See Author Existence Failure for when the work is orphaned in a more literal sense.

Here's an article in The Other Wiki about it.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The manga Chicago abruptly ended after two volumes, with an apology from the writer stating that she couldn't handle the schedule at the end of the second volume.
  • Akane Chan Overdrive lasted two volumes, the last of which had two chapters that were side-stories, without any resolution of the plot.
  • Manga artist Miwa Ueda orphaned the series Peach Girl: Sae's Story after two and a half volumes, because the birth of her child left her with little time to work on it.
  • Aqua Knight was abandoned by the author in order to work on Gunnm: Last Order. He promises to be back later in the future, but the longer Last Order runs the less likely this seems.
    • For that matter, only two OAV episodes of the Gunnm anime were ever produced. Even if anybody was interested in reviving an anime version, it wouldn't legally be possible until after James Cameron releases his live-action film adaptation... which, in turn, he won't get around to making until after he finishes two sequels to Avatar.
  • The manga Hellsing: The Dawn. 6 chapters since 2007 and then dropped. Not enough to even release a single collected volume.
  • Sailor Moon artist Naoko Takeuchi had several orphaned series in the wake of the end of her hit franchise. The first was PQ Angels, which was discontinued abruptly after only 4 chapters, and Kodansha lost the proofs of the portion that had been written. The manga was never published outside of its original serial run. Her second series, Love Witch, ran for three chapters, at which point Takeuchi had written that she was taking a vacation from which the series never returned outside of a one-shot side story. It was not until the 2005-2006 run of Toki* Meca, expanded from the one-shot Toki-Meka, that Takeuchi saw a series through to its completion again.
  • Shaman King formerly ended with No Ending since the author dropped it. However, the re-release of the manga eventually led to two new volumes to end the series.
  • CLAMP has several of these.
    • Clover had a story that concluded after two volumes. The third and fourth volumes are made of flashbacks, and according to CLAMP, two more volumes are needed to complete the story, but they haven't made anything yet,
    • The Legend Of Chun Hyang was dropped after a single volume, but CLAMP did mention that they would like to continue it in the future.
    • Legal Drug was halted for a few years, but it continued in 2011 under a new title, Drug and Drop.
    • X/1999, perhaps their most infamous example, has been on hold since 2003, with 18 out of a planned 21 volumes released. The magazine that had been publishing it (Monthly Asuka) has since folded, and CLAMP has, supposedly, been searching to put it in a proper magazine - though at this point there are doubts that the group is still making serious efforts to pursue this or continue the work.
      • This one tends to leave CLAMP fans a little more sore, because the existing material ends on a killer cliffhanger, and the story in general was heavily building towards a resolution.
  • Fire Candy's mangaka left off her work after two volumes to begin another, although she did state in her last note that she'd like to return to the series after gaining more experience.
  • One of the more notable OEL titles to go out like this was No Man's Land, which the publisher heavily promoted and commenced work on a Flash adaptation of. Problems with the creator's schedules sadly led to the series dying after only two volumes.
  • The Strawberry Panic! manga.
  • For a long time, the manga D.N.Angel appeared to be an example, having been put on a hiatus for over two years. However, the mangaka has started writing chapters for it again.
    • ...and then proceeded to put it back on hiatus so she could start another series. Yukiru Sugisaki has a history of this (see also Candidate for Goddess above.) At least she stopped at the end of an arc.
      • The manga has once again been picked up. But how long it stays that way is up for grabs.
  • Millennium Snow was orphaned by Bisco Hatori after two volumes after her breakout hit Ouran High School Host Club got popular.
    • The same thing happened with a short lived series Shanghai Youma Kikai, which was put on hold so Hiromu Arakawa could work on Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • Bisco has stated that she intends to continue Millennium Snow however and with the sixteenth (and penultimate) volume of Ouran featuring sketches of characters from Millennium Snow it seems she may be planning to do so soon.
  • Beet the Vandel Buster was 12 volumes into its publication when production suddenly stopped in September 2006, due to artist Koji Inada's sudden illness. The future of the series is still completely up in the air.
    • Considering Beet's writer, Riku Sanjo, is now the head writer for Kamen Rider Double, the likelihood of Beet being picked up again is cast further in doubt.
  • Happens constantly with fan translations of manga and fansubs of anime. If you're lucky, another group will pick up where the last one left off. If not... well, best get learning Japanese.
    • One of the more tragic examples is that of Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl. When AnimEigo licensed the series, the circle that had been fansubbing it stopped out of respect. Then AnimEigo dropped it just a third of the way through its 122-episode run, leaving the series doubly-orphaned.
    • A fansub of the Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl anime has been completed. Check the usual sources.
  • This happened to a number of manga series – both Japanese and OEL – due to the closure of Tokyopop, one of the largest English-language manga and light novel publishers around. Pray another company picked it up, though chances are no one did.
    • Averted, however, in the case of Bizenghast, as author Marty LeGrow has decided to continue the series in the form of ashcan comics.
    • Tokyopop was also hit with this a few years earlier due to a contract dispute with Kodansha that resulted in TP losing a large chunk of their catalog. Among the biggest losses were BECK (stopped a third of the way through the story) and Get Backers (stopped just before beginning the final story arc).
    • The hardest losses to take were titles like Peacemaker Kurogane and ARIA. Both manga were originally published in English by ADV before they went belly-up. Then Tokyopop rescued the series, only to close not long after.
  • Like the Tokyopop example above, when Random House's (Del Ray's) manga division was taken over by Kodansha, only top-tier titles like Negima! and Genshiken were continued or reprinted; everything else was dropped.
  • The decade of the 2000s is littered with the corpses of failed English-language manga publishers, most of whom only had a few series before dying. Casualties include Studio Ironcat, ComicsOne, and DC Comics-backed CMX (who at least got out all of Victorian Romance Emma before Dan Didio killed it).
  • Due to the continuing collapse of the English-language manga market (closely tied to the collapse of traditional bookstores), most of the remaining publishers have at least a few cancelled series under their belt.
  • Net Sphere Engineer was announced to be the sequel to Blame! The first chapter excited many. A second chapter never came. While nobody actually knows what happened to the rest of the story, many opt for the answer that it was abandoned.
  • The story of Final Fantasy: Unlimited was plotted to last two seasons, but only the first season was animated. The story of the second season can be found in various supplemental media (available in Japanese only).
  • Stellvia of the Universe was originally meant to be (at least) three half-seasons, but due to personality conflicts the team broke up at the end of the second. At least it was a natural break-point.
  • Tite Kubo's first manga, Zombie Powder, lasted only four volumes before it was cancelled, due to various issues and complications in the author's life at the time.
  • Yami No Matsuei has been on hiatus since December 20th, 2002, due to Yoko Matsushita suffering a hand injury. Her art style has changed somewhat since because of this and she did work a little more on the manga afterwards. However beyond brief periods of "SHE'S GOING TO FINISH IT!" now and then, there's been nothing else beyond a few chapters after volume 11, all of which are finally being put in a 12th volume. Fans are just pretty much begging to hear how she planned to end the series now.
  • The English translation of the Kingdom Hearts manga ended on Kingdom Hearts II Vol. 2 after TokyoPop decided to discontinue the series due to financial problems.
  • Gun Blaze West only got up to its third volume when it was cancelled due to a combination of low readership and Nobuhiro Watsuki feeling he couldn't go any further with it. The series ends before the heroes even reach the fabled destination.
  • More of Orphaned Spin-Off, one of the manga only arcs of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Utsutsukowashi-hen (Reality Breaking Chapter) abruptly ended after three chapters in 2007.
  • While Chonchu had its first part driven to completion, its second part is still pending 10 years after the end of the first part and there's no prospective date for a release.
  • Dub only example: For unknown reasons, Bandai Entertainment had stopped releasing the dub of Di Gi Charat Nyo! They stopped at episode 72, leaving the remaining 32 episodes with no dub. The company's closure pretty much killed any remaining hope of the dub being completed.

    Comic Books 
  • It took David Lapham several years to find the time to complete the final issue of Stray Bullets. He claimed that after the birth of his child he was no longer able to rely on the inconsistent revenue and heavy time investment of a self-published series and has chosen to primarily seek work-for-hire and creator-owned work at the major publishers. He has often stated a desire to finish the series, or at least the current arc, but a lack of time to do so. He was finally able to finish and release the final issue in 2014.
  • During the 90s Joe Madureira started a comic called Battle Chasers, an epic fantasy story of which the first few issues hinted at a huge backstory. But it quickly started slipping from its schedule, to the point where issue 7 was released 16 months after issue 6. The editorial in issue 9 promised that #10 would be out soon, but then Joe Mad left the comic industry altogether.
  • Artist George Perez's creator-owned series Crimson Plague was ended after its first issue. Perez revived the series a few years later with Image Comics, only to end a second time after one new issue and a reprint of the original comic.
  • Marvel series NYX was slated to be an ongoing series but after numerous delays by both the writer (Joe Quesada) and the artist was declared a limited series simply to finish out the first story arc.
    • Marvel has since announced a follow-up mini-series, with a different driver and artist this time around.
  • The comic M. Rex ended after two issues. About ten years later it received a cartoon that started to delve into the abandoned plots and more.
  • Sokora Refugees, a manga-inspired (in both art and story) comic, was super-popular before its abrupt end after two volumes. The comic's site, after two years in operation, stopped updating in November of 2006 and died completely a few months after. The artist mentioned the author had some personal issues after a few weeks of no new strips.
    • What seems to have actually happened is that the creator landed her own syndicated daily comic strip, My Cage. The demands of doing four panels a day pretty much ensures that Sokora Refugees will remain an orphan unless something happens to My Cage.
  • Alan Moore's miniseries Big Numbers stopped after two issues. This was particularly frustrating due to the more literary, kitchen-sink-drama nature of the series, the audience didn't learn what direction the series was going in, how the groups of unrelated characters were going to interact, or what all the untranslated dialogue in some Indian language was about.
    • The main reason why Big Numbers was canceled was that illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz left the series and he was replaced by a nineteen-year-old assistant of his named Al Columbia. Al Columbia had to replicate the gritty, photo realistic technique Sienkiewicz utilized for illustrating the previous Big Numbers issues, and he had to do so by specified deadlines. Al Columbia cracked under the pressure of such a herculean task and as a result, he not only left his Big Numbers work unfinished, but he destroyed much of his work, including two unpublished issues. Al Columbia, despite having a cult following generated by grotesque works such as The Biologic Show, remains somewhat a pariah in the comic industry.
    • Moore never finished Supreme or 1963 for various reasons that aren't really his fault, either. Moore would later write an setup issue for Erik Larsen to finish up the story of Supreme, however.
  • In the early '00s there was a quirky British comic titled Bazooka Jules, by Neil Googe, about a 16-year-old schoolgirl named Julie Glocke who gets mixed up in a plot involving aliens and super-science and gains the ability to turn into a ridiculously well-endowed Action Girl who can spontaneously pull gigantic pieces of armament out of thin air (that is to say, she has "big guns" of both kinds. *groan*). It was criticized for the underage Fanservice, but fans and critics enjoyed the humor and Googe's expressive art style. Anyway, around issue #3 (it was planned to run for six), Googe took seriously ill and someone broke into the publisher's building, stealing the material for the planned future issues, which were never recovered. Googe got better and planned a relaunch of the series with artist LeShawn Thomas, but before it got off the ground they hit some copyright issues, Thomas left to do animation work on The Boondocks, and Googe himself eventually signed an exclusive deal with DC Comics, where he now works on their Wildstorm imprint. Neil Googe has retained Julie as a sort of signature character, but as a comic, Bazooka Jules seems to be as dead as it gets at this point.
  • Classic fantasy comic Wormy (sort of Dungeons & Dragons meets Pogo) stopped in mid-arc when David A. Trampier dropped off the face of the earth. He became a taxi driver
  • The Tick comic series ended abruptly (right before a big fight with the bad guys) when author Ben Edlund decided to spend time working on the cartoon. He never made it back, and given the current success of Supernatural, it's unlikely he'll be making it back anytime soon.
    • And especially given that the series has been relaunched under writer Benito Cereno.
  • Warren Ellis has a number of these to his name, many of them due to a hard drive crash in 2008 (as explained here). It didn't help things at all that he already had a reputation for Schedule Slippage prior to this. Projects affected by this include Fell, Desolation Jones, New Universal and Doktor Sleepless. Planetary and Ministry of Space both experienced lengthy schedule slips, but were, eventually, completed.
  • Pretty much everything by Rob Liefeld after he and the other Image founders left Marvel. He's become notorious for starting new comic titles (or revamping the existing ones) only to abandon his plans partway through. The list of mishandled crossovers alone can make a significant portion of this list. Most notoriously, He's gone SIXTY TWO MONTHS between issues of a Youngbloods limited series.
  • Mike Baron's Sonic Disruptors (a DC limited series from the late 80s) ended on a cliffhanger after seven of an originally-announced twelve issues, with no explanation given at the time. Eventually Baron admitted he had been making it up as he went along and simply realized he had no idea where the story was going. It may be just as well; after an excellent first issue, it got So Okay, It's Average fast.
  • Xenozoic Tales started in 1987 as a bimonthly, but the artist's increasingly detailed drawings necessitated a gap before issue 4 and a reschedule to come out once every three months. This reschedule lasted only three issues before hitting another gap and ceasing to have a regular schedule beyond "when we get it ready." Space between issues got increasingly long, with only two issues released in 1989. The series had one issue a year each April for the next three years, then skipped 1993 entirely. Issue 13 came out in 1994 and issue 14 came out in 1996. There have been no issues since, though the author/artist has been known to claim in interviews that he will get back to it. Should we hold our collective breath?
  • Six Words; Kevin Smith's Daredevil/Bulleye: The Target.
  • Scud The Disposable Assassin was this for ten years, due to Creator Breakdown. It was finished up, working this into the plot as a Time Skip.
  • Unicorn Isle was a fantasy comic by Lee Marrs, c.1987, originally slated to run for 12 issues but cancelled after only 5 for unknown reasons.
  • Archie Comics once made a comic based on NiGHTS Into Dreams and had made the initial three issue mini-series into a ongoing series in the same vein that the Knuckles The Echidna ongoing spun out of its second mini-series. However, after its second three issues, they put the series on indefinite hiatus and classified issues 4-6 as a second mini-series.
  • When Seven Seas Entertainment was first starting out and before they began to publish licensed manga, they released several original titles in the manga style. Having vastly misread the market for such titles (as well as the rapid decline of the publishing market since the company's founding), several of these series were cancelled due to low sales, while some others were stopped short due to other issues. Seven Seas has since largely switched to either one-volume releases (with sequels as sales demand), printed versions of original web series that have a high enough readership (such as Aoi House), or licensed series. Some of the casualties:
    • Seven Seas debuted with four OEL series, Amazing Agent Luna, No Man's Land, Last Hope, and Blade for Barter. Blade for Barter was cancelled after a single volume (with the conclusion to the cliffhanger published online to make it up to people who actually bought the first volume). Last Hope ran for two volumes with a third teased but then hit a wall when a contractual dispute arose between the publisher and the author that eventually led to the series being cancelled due to market concerns. No Man's Land was originally heavily publicized and also had a flash series started, but both the books and flash series were scrapped originally due to the artist and author having too many other commitments, and have been essentially cancelled due the company's concerns over the declining publishing market.
    • The Outcast sold well and the publisher intended to continue with it, but the author abruptly left it midway through the second volume for other commitments.
    • Both Unearthly and Captain Nemo never moved past their first volumes due to the author, who also runs the company, being forced to stop writing in order to run the company instead.
    • Ravenskull had a teaser for a second volume, but never moved past one. The artist was juggling multiple projects at the time, which led to delays before the second volume was quietly cancelled. No reason was ever given, though looking at Seven Seas response to other properties that have languished in development hell, its probably a safe bet this one won't be returning either.
    • Seven Seas have several manga and light novels they've licensed, and then never released, such as Ryohgo Narita's Vamp. The kicker is that a few of them are fully translated and ready to be printed, but SSE are reluctant to release them due to market concerns (in the case of Vamp!, they're worried that the series won't appeal to the Twilight crowd... which it wouldn't, but they're looking in the wrong place. I doubt those fans would be interested in a novel series featuring a vampire t-rex).
  • Bill Willingham's Coventry went for two issues before it was discontinued. Willingham later wrote two short novels in the same universe. Arguably, his later series Fables may be a continuation of the Coventry universe, so perhaps it was not entirely orphaned.
  • In the mid-90s, three different companies produced comics based on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. The first company, Gladestone, published two mini-series set in Season Two before passing it to Marvel. Marvel did an adaptation to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie and started two series set in Season Three (one with the Rangers in morphed state and a flip book with the team in Ninja form coupled with stories based on VR Troopers). Only six issues of those were made before it was passed over to Awesome Comics where only one issue of a Power Rangers Zeo comic and an ad talking about a crossover between the Zeo team and Youngblood was made.
    • Moral of the story - don't make comics set in an ever-changing continuity.
  • Wildsiderz was abandoned by writer/artist J. Scott Campbell after the second issue. In fact, he stopped doing sequential art altogether around then — now he does pin-ups and covers. Basically, this is a case of "100% uninterested in finishing it."
  • Randy Green's Dollz was, like M. Rex and Wildsiderz, a two-issue series that was never finished. As far as anyone can tell, Green got too caught up with other projects to bother with it. He still, however, produces art of the characters now and then, sort of like Neil Googe does with Julie Glocke.
  • Kevin Smith's second Batman miniseries, The Widening Gyre, follows the events of Cacophony and has been on hiatus after 6 issues since early 2010. Smith's reasoning for the delay boils down to "Being stoned all the time".

     Fan Fiction and Fan Works 
  • Very common: depressingly common among The Other Ten Percent.
    • See Dead Fic for more examples.
    • Given that dead fics are often of the other ten percent, and that the ten percent often Needs More Love, it can be incredibly depressing or frustrating to an author to see that the ninety percent of crap gets more attention than their decently written fic ever will.
  • The Zelda fic Feel Good Hit of the Summer has died...after posting a very well-done Mood Whiplash terrifying scene revealing some serious Break the Cutie in a flashback. (In fairness, it's a sequel to a decent-length complete fic, but still.)
  • The The Legend of Dragoon fic Rebirth of a Legend was four chapters from the end according to the author. He never came back to finish it.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender Azulaang fic "Lanterns" has also gone over two and a half years without an update.
  • Kingdom Hearts The Short and Honest Version posted several chapters of its sequel before both fan fics disappeared into the ether. RIP.
  • The New Students. An incredibly good crossover between Yu-Gi-Oh! and Harry Potter. No, really.
  • Fatal Error definitely qualifies for this. It hasn't been updated for more than one year. However, it could be a non-lethal case of Author Existence Failure, since one of the coauthors hasn't written or updated.
  • Final Fighting Fantasy, in the most frustrating way. It's been 4 years since the last installment came out, and the prognosis for the final installment doesn't look good.
  • Harry Potter and the Breeding Darkness might have run solely on Plot Bunny fuel, but it is very well-written, possibly even brilliant. Unfortunately, the fic seems to have been discontinued due to lack of interest and time to continue writing for it, and has now been put it up for adoption.
  • With Strings Attached was this for a long time. The author, who started it in 1980 and began posting it online in 1997, gave it up in 2002 after her personal life imploded (mother had Alzheimer's, laid off from her job, etc.). The two-thirds of the book she'd finished remained on her website to drive readers nuts. She never thought she would finish it, but in early 2009 she was hit by literary lightning, wrote 300 pages in 3 weeks, and finished the thing. (The final product in book form is over 650 pages long.) She is now working on the long-promised sequel, The Keys Stand Alone.
  • The Nunu Bot Show is in one, with creator Angry Goran not even logging onto YouTube for 2 months.
  • The Shoebox Project is one of the most highly-rated Harry Potter fanfics ever, but it hasn't been updated since 2008 and never got a proper ending.
  • Colonization: First Contact is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic with the typical "human in Equestria" premise, except with a twist: instead of the typical self-insert, it features a space expedition of scientists and soldiers who stumble upon the planet Equestria. Unfortunately, it petered out just as things had started getting interesting; all we got are five chapters, and a piece of the sixth on the author's profile. The author later announced he will not be finishing the fic (and offers it to any enterprising author who would like to finish it.)
  • Several reviews of the Harry Potter fanfic "Our Obligations" assume that the story is an Orphaned Series. This is precisely what the writer wants you to think. He specifically wrote the last chapter as a No Ending just to give people this impression.
  • Yellow Submarine, a Harry Potter fic, was almost finished when its author decided to wrap up an earlier loose end. The related subplot was reintroduced, then abandoned.
  • As mentioned on Dead Fic, pretty much 80% (or more) of fan games and ROM hacks are this. At best you get a single work with a clear story arc/Sequel Hook that never ends up getting a sequel, at worse you get a demo that cuts out after one/two/three/five/seven/however many worlds or levels. Or even just a bunch of screenshots and videos in a forum thread. See sites like SMW Central, Mario Fan Games Galaxy, Zelda Fan Games Galaxy, Sonic Retro, Zelda Classic and various others for a ton of examples.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender series Consequences of Our Pasts was meant to be an exploration of the Avatar cycle starting with Aang and show the results of having no Airbenders left for the cycle to use, as well as explore how events in the distant past made the canon War inevitable. Midway through the second of five projected stories, the author put it on hold for over two years due to Real Life concerns, then expressed dissatisfaction and burnout (as well as belief that Embers expressed his intended themes more effectively) before finally removing it all from Fanfiction Dot Net. Only the first part of the first story, The Aftermath: Aang's Book, is now archived here, and that is mostly setup, to the point where it barely even qualifies as a Dead Fic.
  • Averted with If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em. The author, Meowth Rocket, has publicly said the story will have an ending, despite all the turmoil going on in his life.

    Film 
  • The first two instalments of Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey series, 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey Two have film adaptations, but not 2061: Odyssey Three or 3001: The Final Odyssey. Tom Hanks expressed interest in doing film adaptations of the last two, but this was ages ago, and Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain are now probably too old to do the rest of the series.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia survived a Channel Hop of distributors (from Disney to Fox), but then Walden Media's contract with the C. S. Lewis estate ended, and the series is on hold again.

    Literature 
  • Older Than Print: At the beginning of The Canterbury Tales, the characters are all heading to Canterbury for various reasons, and it's stated that each one will (for a story contest) tell two stories on the way there, and two on the way back. However, it breaks off before they make it to Canterbury or even have one character tell more than one story (in some cases, such as the Cook's Tale, the story is incomplete). Whether or not Geoffrey Chaucer simply abandoned it or meant to finish it but died first is unknown. (An alternative explanation is that the work was completed, but no complete version of the manuscript has been retained or recorded).
  • Some scholars consider The Tale of Genji an example. It cuts off abruptly with the potential for plenty more story.
  • Puffin has apparently announced that the Hagwood Triology, about a shapeshifting, hobbit-like race, has been abandoned by Robin Jarvis. Same fate for Intrigues of the Reflected Realm series?
  • Quest Of The Gypsy by Ron Goulart was supposed to be 6 books long, but stopped after the second book in 1977.
  • Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy was planned to be a decalogy, but was cut short by his sudden death.
  • Kim Newman writing as Jack Yeovil's Demon Download series for Games Workshop's Dark Future universe has been awaiting the fourth and final installment since 1991. Despite GW republishing the earlier works, there's no sign of the final volume ever appearing in print.
  • Tales of the Nine Charms by Erica Farber and J.R. Sansevere had two books published in 2000 and 2001 respectively and claims to be a trilogy. As of 2014, the third book has yet to materialize.
  • The Architect of Sleep by Steven R. Boyett ends on a cliffhanger that may never be resolved. After wrangling with his publisher over the sequel, Boyett took the unusual step of buying the rights back and has stated repeatedly that he no longer has any interest in finishing the series.
  • Charles Stross has explained that he will not be turning The Eschaton Series into a trilogy because he feels he made some mistakes so serious at the end of Iron Sunrise as to make that universe unviable.
  • George R. R. Martin attempted to start a number of short story series (he says in Dreamsongs, "My career is littered with the corpses of dead series") before settling on Haviland Tuf, chronicled in the Tuf Voyaging fixup novel.
  • Changeling and Madwand by Roger Zelazny set a stage for multidimensional conflict of technology vs. magic vs. Eldritch Abominations and just stop there. In over a decade the author never came back to the setting.
  • Roald Dahl's third book about Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka, Charlie in the White House — which would have picked up from the Sequel Hook at the end of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator — never got further than Chapter One.

    Live Action Television 
  • Firefly was a dead-then-resurrected-then-dead series which wasn't able to put out a full season before its final-and-actual cancellation. Some closure was given to the story of River and the Academy with the movie Serenity, by which time Joss Whedon was certain it would not be revived.
  • Chappelle's Show when Dave couldn't handle the fame and pressure after the success of the first two seasons. He literally walked out on the production of the third even after Comedy Central offered a bigger paycheck. He is currently focusing on performing stand-up.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures ended halfway through Series Five following the death of star Elisabeth Sladen (the production team weren't willing to replace her or carry on without her).
  • Twin Peaks. The movie, Fire Walk With Me, rather than concluding the story, was supposed to mark the transition from TV to films, but after its failure at the box office, the follow-up was never made.
  • Technically, you might say this of Sonny With A Chance. Season 3 ended with Sonny Munroe (sort of) reconciling with Chad Dylan Cooper and landing a job singing songs in an outdoor café. Before the fourth season was to continue the plot line, Demi Lovato went to rehab to treat self-harm, bulimia and drug and alcohol abuse, as well as her bipolarity, and she decided at the end that returning to Sonny wouldn't be a good thing for her recovery. So Random!, which only loosely brought back the SWAC characters and cast (with a few additions) as part of their "Show Within a Show Becom(ing) A Show", did not mention Sonny or "Channy" at all, used Chad Dylan Cooper as a Random, and was canceled after one season. Demi never even got to guest on an episode as herself or Sonny.

    Music 
  • The Vocaloid series "Synchronicity" was thought by fans to have been abandoned, since the third and final video in the trilogy has yet to be released. This notion was perpetuated when an incomplete version of the final video was allegedly posted on Japanese video sharing site Nico Nico Douga before quickly being removed. However, the creator of the series, Hitoshizuku, claimed that no such video was ever uploaded, and she has confirmed on her blog that the conclusion to the series is in progress, though she stated that fans might have to wait awhile for it to be released.
  • The 1995 David Bowie album 1. Outside was intended to be the first part of a trilogy of concept albums. Bowie apparently lost interest in the project.
    • Similarly, George Michael's Living Without Prejudice (Volume 1) was intended to be part one of a Distinct Double Album, containing pop-rock and soul influenced tracks. Volume 2, which was intended to be a dance album, was never finished because of disputes with the record company. Michael had recorded 4 tracks for it. He contributed three of them, Too Funky, Do You Really Want To Know and Happy to the Red Hot + Dance anti-AIDS charity album. Too Funky was released as a single with the B Side Crazyman Dance, also recorded for the cancelled album. The Waiting For That Day B Side Fantasy may have been intended for the album as it fits in stylistically. It isn't known if Michael recorded any more songs for the cancelled Volume 2 or carried them over to his later albums Older or Patience. It is unlikely the record company wanted him talking about unreleased material so it may not be known for a while.
  • Shirley Manson recorded a solo album. The studio refused to release it considering it non-commercial, and she also gave up putting the songs out on her own.
  • Simple Minds recorded a promo video for This Is It, and clips were shown in a promo video for the album Graffiti Soul. The song was ultimately not released as a single, and the full video has not been released.
  • Video Micro was a Nordic cover group who made very well-done covers of 80s cartoon openings such as MASK and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. Well, those two were the only ones they ever did, despite promising on their YouTube page that they were here to stay and that there were more to come... in 2009.

    Pinball 
  • The Pinball 2000 line debuted with Revenge from Mars and Star Wars Episode I. Then, Bally-Williams decided to pull out of the pinball business and split apart as companies, despite both machines being well-acclaimed and decent sellers. The company heads at Bally-Williams found venues more profitable than pinball and simply left the business.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In a sort of Show Within a Show style example, this phenomenon got a reference in the RPG sourcebook GURPS Fantasy II, where the greatest poet of a certain ancient civilization has been suffering a writer's block for thousands of years, his magnum opus left one volume short of completion. Rather than an isolated case, this is another symptom of said civilization's stagnated nature.
  • While the game itself has continued without a hitch, Konami is notorious for creating and then dropping various deck archetypes for the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. While the anime-based ones are forgivable, the original ones are not, especially when some of those archetypes are left orphaned with only an opening hand's worth of cards to their name. Fortunately, Konami seems to be realizing that they have those archetypes orphaned, and are starting to readopt them with new support in the game's more recent sets.
  • Mage: The Ascension's revised Convention books, covering the groups of the game's primary antagonist group, the Technocracy. The first book in the series, Iteration X, was released in 2002, proving to be a considerable improvement over the original... then White Wolf went and ended the Old World of Darkness. Fans thought that was it for the Convention books. However, at Gencon 2011, WW announced they'd be doing the remaining four Convention books, and finally completed the set in October 2013.
    • On the subject of the oWoD, both Changeling The Dreaming and Wraith The Oblivion were ended before the other lines, and both were left incomplete. In Changeling's case, Book of Glamour was announced, but never saw light of day, and the Kithbook series was cut short, with the Boggans and Sidhe not done (though Nobles: the Shining Host is considered an unofficial Sidhe Kithbook). Wraith's Guildbook series was also left unfinished, with five of the thirteen Great Guilds not covered.

    Video Games 
  • Any game released on an episodic schedule can be prone to this if the first episodes don't stir up enough interest and the developers are fired (as is the case with SiN Episodes, whose development studio was disintegrated after the release of the first episode Emergence) or lose interest and move on to other, better things (Telltale Games, for example, released only the first two episodes to their Bone series, which were met with lukewarm reviews, before moving on to the much more successful Sam & Max: Freelance Police series).
  • The LucasArts adventure game Loom was conceived as the first game in an epic fantasy trilogy, with an extremely confusing Cliff Hanger ending to get players interested in a potential sequel. For years, many fans speculated that the sequels were dropped because Loom wasn't as critically acclaimed as LucasArts had hoped (it was) or because it didn't sell very many copies (it did), but LucasArts would later confirm that the sequels were dropped because no-one at the company wanted to work on them.
    • Full Throttle sold well enough that the company intended to create sequels. However, two different attempts to put one together fell apart in the process. As the creator Tim Schafer left LucasArts not long after the first sequel attempt to form Double Fine, and LucasArts has now gone under as of 2013, it's safe to call this one dead.
  • Tim Schafer is cursed with these.
    • Psychonauts ended on a cliffhanger with the team speeding off to save Lili's father, but poor sales led to Majesco cancelling the sequel entirely. Tim Schafer eventually got the IP back around 2010 and has repeatedly expressed interest in creating another title, but as no publisher has stepped forward to fund it, the sequel has yet to materialize.
    • Brutal Legend was intended to be the first title in a series and the ending has a Sequel Hook. The second game had even started pre-production at Double Fine when Electronic Arts swiftly cancelled it in response to low sales of the first title. Years later, when EA dropped support for the title, DF gained full rights to the game, allowing them to finally release a PC port, and the fate of the sequel or new content all depends on whether the PC port sells well or not (which, so far, it seems to be doing much better on PC than on consoles).
  • Betrayal at Krondor enjoyed immense success and is now a cult classic. The team that put it together was just starting to work on a sequel when the studio broke up the RPG department and crashed the whole project. A Spiritual Successor, Betrayal In Antara, and a thematic successor, Return To Krondor, eventually appeared, but the first had nothing in common with its predecessor except for the general game engine, and the latter was a sequel in name only. The actual project intended by the creators of Betrayal to expand on that storyline and tie off all the loose ends, called Thief of Dreams, never saw the light of day.
  • This trope seems to have hit Sega particularly hard:
    • Shining Force III was released on Sega Saturn as three "scenarios" which can be played individually, but all 3 must be completed to get the real ending. All 3 were released, but only the first one was released outside Japan.
    • Before being released, 6 episodes for Shenmue were planned. The first episode was critically acclaimed, but flopped financially, so they decided to make the series shorter, by merging episodes 2, 3, 4 AND 5 into a single episode, leaving the series with only 3 episodes. But Shenmue II (still universally acclaimed as an awesome game) flopped even HARDER than the first one (all thanks to the game being released as an Xbox exclusive in America, and the DC dying out in Europe and Japan), plans for future games have been abandoned. There were some small games now and then, but no Shenmue III at sight. The author has stated in 2010 that he wanted to make Shenmue III and SEGA green-lighted it, but he couldn't get financial support for it. The worst part? II ends in a Cliff Hanger! A PC MMORPG was partially developed, then shelved.
    • El Dorado Gate was intended to be released in 24 bimonthly installments. Due to the death of the Dreamcast, the last 14 volumes were canned. Slightly averted in that Capcom planned for this ahead of time, and gave the game a proper ending in Volume 7.
  • Commander Keen ends rather suddenly with an impending battle between Commander Keen and his arch nemesis who intends to destroy the universe. Both Commander Keen 5 and 6 make reference to this impending conflict, but the story was never finished. Unless you count the Game Boy Color version, which doesn't exist.
  • Viewtiful Joe claimed that there'd be 2 more times the world needed to be saved at the end of the first game and the sequel ends on a cliffhanger. Odds of the 3rd game ever coming out are pretty damn low now that Clover Studios doesn't even exist anymore, and most of the employees are working at a different company now, one that isn't associated with Capcom.
  • Legacy of Kain was last seen with the Big Bad still at large and many plot lines still hanging. Due to the death of a major voice actor and the departure of the main writers(and the death of another), the story will never be completed.
    • Though this one might indeed be finished as the game contains time travels and the Big Bad at large was set loose in the past prior to the events of an earlier part of the series in which he is defeated so it is less a case of uncomplete story and more complex interweaved time travel and timeline change that takes hours to untangle to follow the story.
  • Anachronox ended on a cliffhanger. The game was a critical hit with a cult following, but didn't sell too well. Then there's the fact that that the development team was fired the day before the game was released. So no sequel for you.
  • No One Lives Forever was abandoned by Monolith in favor of First Encounter Assault Recon and Condemned.
  • The four-part Swordquest series from Atari was cut short with the release of Waterworld, the third game in the series, thanks to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983.
  • Freedom Force is a pair of light-hearted yet brilliant superhero pastiches that blended pastiche with actual overarching plots and solid gameplay. Unfortunately, they didn't sell that well so development on the third entry died. Since then the studio has become so focused on (and rich by) making the Bioshock series that the cliffhanger ending of the second game will likely never be cleared up.
  • The Croc series ended after two normal games and two mobile games, due to Argonaut software folding. The mobile games have long been unavailable for download, so the only games most people will play are Croc 1 and 2. A 3rd game in the series was announced but never released. The games were serious contenders to Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon at the time, and could have gone on to better things.
  • Sadly, Klonoa has fallen fate to this, the series's last console game released in 2001, and last handheld game released in 2005 (outside Japan). There was a brief revival, when the first game was remade for Wii, but sales were very low, so the series is stuck in limbo again.
  • Breath of Fire, though Camelot Software Planning has offered to revive the franchise; however, this was three years ago.
  • Mega Man Legends has unfortunately become this with 3 being cancelled.
  • Continuing with Mega Man, Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X was intended to kickstart a series of Mega Man X remakes whose story was more in line with Keiji Inafune's original vision. Unfortunately, poor sales killed that idea after the first installment.
  • Bonk also appears to sadly be another victim of this, with Bonk 3DS and Brink of Extinction being cancelled due to the dissolution of Hudson.
  • Shadow Hearts, due to the dissolution of Nautilus.
  • Wild ARMs appears to be orphaned, given the relative inactivity of Media Vision since The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road and the Chaos Rings games.
    • There's still hope since Media.Vision hasn't folded yet. Oddly enough, their most recent game is Valkyria Chronicles III (another RPG with emphasis on firearms).
    • Media.Vision was also announced to be behind the latest Shining game, Shining Ark, although still nothing on a new Wild Arms game.
  • Suikoden hasn't gotten a proper sequel since the fifth, with Konami ultimately announcing on their Facebook page that they had no new announcements on the series, and that the development team behind the franchise had been disbanded.
    • Not quite dead, given the announcement of Genso Suikoden: Centennial Tapestry (official English title, if the game is localized, may differ), although the series that takes place in the same universe has been orphaned for years.
  • Sony left Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow hanging on a cliffhanger, then abandoned the franchise.
  • Blinx, due to the dissolution of Artoon, poor reception from critics and gamers alike, and because Microsoft elected Master Chief as the Xbox mascot instead.
  • The Space Quest series, after ending with a teaser for Space Quest 7, has been abandoned as Sierra, like LucasArts, had moved away from adventure games, and later went under. Some fan made sequels do exist, but nothing official is ever likely to appear.
  • The Dark Cloud series appears to have ended with Dark Chronicle, now that Level-5 has moved on to other projects.
  • The Oddworld pentalogy. It was planned to be at least 10 games. To very few people's surprise, this turned out to be not an easy task. So far, there have been 4. Every year or so there's been news about the company making a new game (At least 3 different sequel ideas have been completely scrapped,) or making sequels in the form of films, but nothing ever comes of it. It seems like they may have finally given up on completing the series. They're working on remakes of their old games instead.
  • The Crash Bandicoot series has now become this with the team who were making the new games being fired by Activision.
  • The World of Mana series, with Kingdom Hearts having replaced it as Square-Enix's flagship action RPG franchise.
  • Lennus (Paladins Quest to North American gamers) got one sequel that remained in Japan, and that was it.
  • Xenogears and Xenosaga due to a really bad case of executive meddling.
  • The Chrono series and its Spiritual Successor Baten Kaitos both had new installments planned, but they were scrapped for unknown reasons. Monolith Soft have been teasing the possibility of a Baten Kaitos game for the Wii U, but the trademark for Chrono Break expired and Square hasn't done anything about it.
  • The Marathon game mod Return To Marathon was planned to be an episodic scenario, but only the first chapter was completed before it was scrapped.
  • With THQ going bankrupt in January 2013 and their Vigil Games studio not being purchased by another company, this is the likely fate of the Darksiders franchise. This was also what happened to De Blob as well, due to THQ going bankrupt, as well as BlueTongue.
  • Also the likely fate of Banjo-Kazooie, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Perfect Dark, Battletoads and just about every other Rare-owned IP, now that Microsoft has them working only on Kinect Sports games. Made worse by the fact each and every one of the Xbox versions of these series has underperformed compared to the SNES and Nintendo 64 titles. note 
    • On a similar note, Silicon Knights, who were very similar to Rareware. Making M-rated games that were published by Nintendo? Check. Being bought out by Microsoft? Check. Making lackluster games at Microsoft, and then dying at the hands of them? Check. Silicon Knights were planning on making an Eternal Darkness 2, but it never happened because after the release of Too Human and X-Men: Destiny, the company folded due to a lawsuit with Epic Games and use of the Unreal Engine.
  • Virus Invasion 7 was announced in 2008, then fell into extreme Schedule Slip; the final nail in the coffin was October 2011, when its creator, Blublub, first announced that it would be done within a week, then dropped off the face of the Earth. There were attempts to salvage the series, first by Pteriforever with a fansequel, Virus Invasion Spectrum, and then by SpeedyVelcro with a generally-inferior Spiritual Successor, Advanced Invasion. Advanced Invasion 4 seems to have been orphaned in its own right.
  • This seems to have been the fate of Jak and Daxter. A highly-successful franchise on the PS2, but when Naughty Dog went on to working on other projects such as Uncharted and The Last of Us, the Jak series was left in limbo. There was a new game released for the PSP in 2009, but it was poorly received, and Naughty Dog has said that they tried to make a Jak 4 or a reboot, but couldn't get it to feel like Jak, so—aside from an HD compilation—it looks like we will never see another Jak game again.
  • Though the Sonic the Hedgehog series is itself going strong, this has happened to many of its spinoffs. The "Sonic Storybook Series" is the best example, as Sega decided to abandon it after Black Knight met with poor sales and even poorer reviews.
  • Zap Dramatic's Ambition ended on a cliffhanger and was supposed to be continued in a sequel series. It hasn't happened yet.
  • Darkstalkers hasn't seen a new installment since 1997. Capcom re-released Vampire Hunter and Vampire Savior in 2013, but Capcom later stated that they had no plans for a new Darkstalkers game, citing poor sales of the re-release.
  • Big Huge Games' Rise of Nationswas found to have had developed plans for future installments. Unfortunately, with the studio's closure, the fate of the RTS series is up in the air.
  • The unfortunately titled 'Insecticide Part 1' released in 2008 and has yet to see a part 2.

    Web Original 
  • TvTomeAdventures was seemingly orphaned for a while because it wasn't getting its creator any money or attention. However, very recently a full-fledged continuity reboot called TOME was released, so this trope was subverted.
  • A well written and hilariously machinima of RuneScape known simply as "The Quest" was started in 2006 only to be left to rot at the end of part two due to the creator's life taking a different turn. Needless to say that should the creator wish to continue the work, they couldn't. Runescape has since had a massive graphics update, making this machinima completely dead. Its fandom isn't taking it well.
  • The Newgrounds series 'Joe Zombie' by Robert Den Bleyker was supposedly meant to be concluded with Episode 7 as said in Episode 6 (from 2006). More than half a decade later however and a final episode has still not been produced.
  • The first incarnation and reboot Darwin's Soldiers on Furtopia were never finished and will probably remain that way.
  • Trinton Chronicles never had a proper finish and was cut short before its final story.
  • In general, this is a very common fate for online roleplays.
  • Similar to the web comics examples, this is an incredibly common result for blogs. Due to lack of time or interest in maintaining regular blog posts, the internet is littered with thousands upon thousands of blogs that are orphaned permanently. Bloggers also often bring their blog Back from the Dead after long periods of orphandom, but frequently this results only in "I've been meaning to get back to this..." and "I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long..." posts showing up at increasing intervals.
  • Homestar Runner is blurring the line. Officially it's just on hiatus, but it's been over 2 years since they last posted an update. (There was a brief appearance at w00tstock in 2013, though.) Fans are worried that the show may be gone for good, despite the official story.
  • Xiao Xiao ended with a demo of a beat-em-up game back in 2002. There have been no signs of that demo or the series ever continuing since then. In fact, the author's whereabouts are unknown as well.
  • Sapphire Spindle Paw is either this or Stillborn Serial. Mystic(TheSpiritWolf) created a prologue video and then a first episode, then posted about his/her intentions to make a third video, and then left the site. Searching "Sapphire Spindle Paw", with quotes, gives around four or five results. There is no sign of an episode 2.
  • Rock Tumbler's Let's Play of Grand Theft Auto IV was discontinued due to his drug use. His former partners have started it up again and finished it.
  • Spoony's Let's Play of Deadly Premonition is looking like it won't ever be continued (at least not any time soon), having only Part 1 up on the site. This doesn't stop fans on the forums starting a new thread every few weeks or so asking when he's going to finish it...
  • Atlas of Medieval America was a very intriguing concept that never got more than a couple months of updates. Alternate History buffs have tried to carry on.
  • Super Mario Bros. Z due to how time consuming it took to the animate the fights. What was meant to be a twenty six episodes ended at eight after the creator called it quits.
  • The SCP Foundation story "Metafiction" (one of the most popular tales on the site) ends with to be continued on a very interesting cliffhanger. The discussion page is filled with requests, pleads and threats to the author to just finish the damn thing already.
  • The webcomic Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has been abandoned for a year now, with no word from the creator, Tessa. Let's just say the fandom hasn't been quite the same since her absence.

    Western Animation 
  • Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings only covered the first two-thirds of Tolkien's trilogy. Those who desire to see the ending will be forced to pick up the books, watch Rankin-Bass's 1980 adaptation of The Return of the King (Which is probably for the better...), or watch the live-action version. A big cause of this was that the costs were massively underestimated, and the final result was pieced together from what they had finished; most of the animation in what was released is incomplete (for instance, every live-action character was supposed to be animated over).
  • Perfect Hair Forever was scheduled to have 17 episodes made for the internet but the creators only made 1 due to lack of interest.
    • On April Fools' Day 2014, an eighth episode was aired as a stealth premiere after a long time of being orphaned with seven episodes.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water eventually simply stopped, after about eight of the thirteen treasures of rule were collected. A lack of budget and Channel Hops were the responsible issues, here.
  • G3.5 of My Little Pony should have lasted at least three years but ended prematurely after only one. It had one special and a few toys, and just so happened to come out while Friendship Is Magic was in development (which ended up being the series to revive the brand).
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles ended abruptly before finishing the final story arc.
  • Disney's adaptation of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series is incomplete, with The Black Cauldron only covering the first two books.
  • Joe Murray spent less and less time working on Rocko's Modern Life after his first wife committed suicide. He needed some time to get stuff in order, and to process what happened, and that not only took a lot of time, but made him less interested in working on the series, until he finally gave up on it all together. He Mis-blamed the series for his wife's suicide.
    • A similar turn of events happened with Camp Lazlo, this time the result of a messy divorce.

Waldorf: These shows aren't getting finished!
Statler: Who cares? They never should have been started!
Both: Do-ho-hoh!

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