"The battle's done and we kind of won, so we sound our victory cheer...where do we go from here?"
Well, they all said your show was too good to last. You fended off Executive Meddling
, and stayed true to your original vision of the series
Of course, you got cancelled, but that's to be expected. Fortunately, you had plenty of warning and were able to do a Grand Finale
. It was a huge spectacle, full of guest stars and special effects and you tied up all the loose ends so that everyone could go home happy with a sense of closure. Nothing left to do now but record the DVD commentary track and sell the props on eBay
Wait, what's that? The network just called. The fans, bless their hearts, launched the biggest letter-writing campaign ever, and the ratings
on the finale were through the roof. They've decided to renew you for another season
Oh no. What are you going to do now? You killed off Lord Voldemort
, got Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant
, sank the Bismarck
, resolved all the sexual tension
and/or saved the galaxy
. There's nowhere else for the story to go
But, hey, don't let that stop you. After all, you got yourself another season. Other producers would kill for a chance like this, so why not just go ahead? The problem is, unless you're very
careful with how you go about the new season, you might end up Jumping The Shark
The Post Script Season
is what happens when a show is renewed after it has resolved its plot arc. You end up with a season, maybe two, where the show is forced to try out a whole new premise. This seldom goes well. In the first place, you've got to shoehorn these existing characters into a new premise that doesn't quite fit them. Expect Character Derailment
. Secondly, you've already had a Grand Finale
, and it's going to be hard to top that
. You've already shot your dramatic wad. No wonder fans of other media get just a bit
of dissonant feelings when they hear about how you threw away a perfectly good ending just because you wanted more.
However, not all Post Script Seasons are unmitigated disasters
. There have been a few creators who've handled their new seasons with care and presented material just as satisfying as (if not more than) the material that preceded. For the most part, however, Post Script Season successes only occur with shows that aren't dependent on large, overall story arcs spanning the entire series.
A form of Retool
. Sometimes results in Plot Leveling
. Can suffer from Final Season Casting
. Compare After Show
, and Trilogy Creep
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Anime & Manga
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross: When the series was extended by several episodes in the middle of production, the writers added a Postscript Story Arc set After the End.
- GaoGaiGar had an OVA which retconned the title mecha's original purpose of construction from "fighting the Zonder" to "fighting the new A God Am I villain we just came up with". It actually went a lot better than it sounds, largely owing to sheer force of over-the-top-itude. Definitely goes under Tropes Are Not Bad.
- The TV series itself had a "postscript last couple of episodes." The Big Bad Man Behind the Man was finally, decisively and explosively defeated. Happily ever after, right? Unfortunately years before the series began a spore for a "New Machine Species" implanted itself in Mikoto's nervous system and took her over, leading to a new, powerful and nigh indestructible foe to give GGG a hard time. While it reeked of an Ass Pull (there was some foreshadowing, but it was only apparent in hindsight), it somehow managed to wrap itself up nicely.
- GUNNM: Last Order might be seen as that, because when road accident forced Yukito Kishiro to Wrap It Up, he tacked a Happy Ending onto the series and left it for half a decade, until he returned to it in Last Order. However, as the "Post Script Season" is at this moment even longer than the original series, and it completely disregarded said happy ending, it is more like a cross between the sequel and the Revival now.
- Dragon Ball: After Akria Toriyama decided to officially conclude the manga with the Majin Buu storyline, Toei (the producers of the anime version) did their own Sequel Series titled Dragon Ball GT.
- The Dark Dragon story arc of Dragon Ball GT was itself a post-script season. Originally, the show was intended to last only through the Baby storyline, but Bandai asked Toei to kept the show going afterward in order to help promote their Dragon Ball Final Bout fighting game for the PlayStation.
- This was parodied with "After The End," an official audio drama parody released by the cast and crew of Neon Genesis Evangelion. The plot involves the show unexpectedly being renewed for a second season (despite the ending making that unlikely), and the cast subsequently struggling to come up with a decent way to continue the franchise. Among other things, they contemplate Retooling it as a Super Sentai program, a teen drama, and even a reboot...IN SPACE!
- YuYu Hakusho was meant to end with the Chapter Black saga, but the editors had Yoshihiro Togashi make another arc, which was terribly contrived and rushed through in both the manga and its subsequent anime adaptation (especially the manga, where the final battle is barely even shown!)
- In many ways, Transformers Energon seemed to suffer from this in its final quarter, which featured a story that essentially had nothing but the most tangential connection to any of the plot that had come before it (the villains had obtained their main objective and were defeated three-quarters of the way through the show, leaving nothing for anyone to actually do). The frustrating thing, though, is that it's not strictly a postscript - the show was always intended to run to 52 episodes, and this final arc was simply filling out that requirement, even though the actual story of the series had been finished.
- The Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) manga was renewed by Shueisha after completing its originally planned three-year run. Raoh, who was originally established to be Kenshiro's greatest adversary and possibly the greatest warlord in the post-apocalyptic world, was killed off as he literally ascended himself to the heavens. Because of this, Buronson and Tetsuo Hara had to come up with new adversaries for Kenshiro to face, as well as explain why they weren't around during the earlier storyline, resulting in quite a few ass pulls. The most egregious example is the whole Kingdom of Shura storyline, which revealed that Kenshiro and Raoh had other siblings that the reader weren't aware of before: namely Hyo, Kenshiro's actual blood-related elder brother, and Kaioh, Raoh's identical-looking elder brother.
- It may not look like it, but the original plan for the Pokémon anime was to cover only the first generation games, while giving sneak peaks to the Pokémon of Gold and Silver, which would launch shortly after the anime's end. This was due to the fact that video game adaptations to other media have not had good track records. Of course, things turned out a bit differently than what they planned for.
- When World Events Productions was first editing/dubbing Voltron, the plan was to edit three short-lived, similar but unrelated Combining Mecha Anime shows (Go Lion, Dairugger XV, and Albegas) into one series for a combined total of 125 episodes to put into syndication. But with the unexpected popularity of Lion Voltron (GoLion) followed by the equally unexpected backlash against Vehicle Voltron (Dairugger), plans to dub Albegas were scrapped, leaving WEP 20 episodes short. So WEP actually hired Toei Animation to animate 20 new Lion Voltron episodes that are not a part of GoLion at all.
- Season 3 of Monster Rancher featured Genki returning and reuniting with his friends, followed by a Tournament Arc to try and prevent the Goldfish Poop Gang from getting their hands on a disc capable of reviving the Big Bad Moo.
- Season 3 of Sonic X. Ratings had been mediocre in Japan, so the anime was unable to get past the initial 52 episode order and had to quickly wrap up its Trapped in Another World premise...and then it became an absolute hit in the international market, resulting in a somewhat Darker and Edgier season that had barely anything to do with the rest of the series before it. A bit of an odd case in that this season has never actually aired in Japan, possibly due to the low ratings during its initial run.
- Notably, this is one of the few cases in which the general consensus is that the post script season is actually better that the seasons before it.
- Season 2 of Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, AKA Ronin Warriors. Originally everyone was supposed to die in the final sequence except Nasti and Jun ("Mia" and "Yuli"), but the producers were notified that the network wanted a second season ... just when Episode 17 was about to air. They then stalled and rewrote the last two episodes to produce a happy ending — and introduce a Crowning Moment of Awesome Hand Wave Deus ex Machina that became the central and driving force behind the next season. The second season, unlike many of these things, turned out to also be possibly better than the first.
- The final two (half-)seasons of The Slayers leave this impression. They were drawn ten years after the main series was complete in an attempt to revive it, feature antagonists that are nowhere as awesome and world-shattering as Fibrizzo and Dark Star, and, to boot, are new versions of old enemies Zanaffar and Rezo-Shabranigdo.
- Shining Heresy, Phantom Arc and Alone Again, the sequel OVAs for Armored Trooper VOTOMS.
- The original Space Battleship Yamato ends with the crew successfully making it to Iscandar and back with the Cosmo Cleaner D in order to save the Earth from the Gamilas' radioactive polution. About two years later, a new movie retelling the original story premiered followed by a sequel that many viewers were unhappy with. This lead to the creation of the second series, which was then followed by a TV movie, a third theatrical movie, and a third series.
- Then, two years after the third series ended, there was a fourth movie that seemed to retcon the events of the previous TV series.
- The original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman originally ended with Joe making a Heroic Sacrifice in order to defeat Galactor once and for all, with there being no sequel apparently planned note . Then four years later, a second series premiered in which Joe is revealed to be alive and well, having been brought back as a cyborg. note
- After the K-On! manga and its anime adaptation ended with most of the main characters graduating from high school, the manga was relaunched on two separate magazines, one strip following the graduated characters in college, and the other following the remaining characters still in high school. Both of these spinoffs were cancelled after one volume each.
- The maxiseries Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld was originally going to be just a twelve-issue series. At the end of the series, the protagonist and her allies triumph, the Big Bad is killed off, and the heroine returns to her normal life on Earth after peace is restored to the Gemworld. However, the series was so successful that DC Comics decided to do an ongoing series. The first twelve issues, done by the original creative team behind the maxi-series, weren't too bad. But when they left, the new creative team changed the direction of the series drastically, and did a series of Retcons designed to drag the series kicking and screaming into the mainstream DC universe and let's not get started when the First Crisis joins in. The series was cancelled soon afterward.
- Runaways was only supposed to be eighteen issues, and after Alex was revealed as the mole and the Pride was all killed, there wasn't really anywhere to go, but the series got a second volume with the original creative team that lasted another few years, and continued after they left, and it was recently relaunched again. Many fans liked the new characters and new directions, but the overall sense of suspense was lost, and, after the original creative team left, it just wasn't as quality.
- Marvel's original Micronauts series concluded with a Bittersweet Ending. The Big Bad was finally Killed Off for Real, but the heroes' Homeworld had been reduced to a lifeless ruin. With Homeworld in ruins and the war over, the Micronauts decide to go off and explore the Microverse as the series ended. Then the series was relaunched as Micronauts: The New Voyages. Under a new creative team, the series picked up where the original left off, but the series ended up being mostly dull and pointless as the Micronauts (and the story) wandered aimlessly. Eventually, they returned to Homeworld to restore it to life as the series ended.
- All of the character arcs and plot lines in Cerebus had been pretty much resolved by issue 200, yet Sim kept the series going for another 100 issues (arguably for the sole reason that he'd publicly declared the series would run for 300 issues total). The new issues were...not well-received.
- According to Hergé, The Adventures of Tintin concluded with Tintin In Tibet and the works afterwards (The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714, Tintin and the Picaros and the unfinished Tintin and Alph Art) were basically this. However, they actually were well received, and still continued the nature a little bit, showing that this trope is not always a bad thing.
- The main aim of Rogue Trooper was to find the Traitor General responsible for the massacre of his comrades. Then he did. Unfortunately, as the character was one of 2000ADs most popular, cancellation was not an option. So he kept going as an intergalactic bounty hunter, then he was replaced with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute who had a Suspiciously Similar Mission to the original character, then there was a massive Continuity Snarl before they just decided to screw it and write a series of stories set before the original Rogue completed his original mission.
- For those who took Latin in high school, one can't help but wonder if the writers of the Cambridge Latin Course textbook thought they wouldn't get their contracts renewed after Book I. Vesuvius blows and everybody dies, Caecilius dying onscreen and his son's fate left in question... until next semester. Also, Book IV had a lot of filler arcs, don't you think? Who cares about Those Two Guys at Bath and random weddings? Get back to Salvius and his evil!
- Dean Koontz's Frankenstein ends the third book by killing Victor, resolving the Unresolved Sexual Tension, and otherwise tying up its loose ends. There is a mention of Victor's clone surviving, but otherwise everything is settled. Book Four came out in 2010, and Book Five is coming out in 2011. And many, many people really wish they hadn't/aren't.
- Peter and the Starcatchers appeared to end with "Secret of Rundoon". However, in 2009, a fourth book called "Sword of Mercy" was written, taking place after a large timeskip (directly before the events of Peter Pan for that matter.) One probably would have wondered if Barry and Pearson thought their contracts wouldn't get renewed so they wrapped up the arc in "Secret of Rundoon". However, the Big Bad wasn't as easily defeated as they assumed in the original series...
- Warrior Cats' main storyline lasted four series, and ended with all the past villains' spirits being made Deader than Dead after ganging up to take on the Clans in a huge battle, and with Firestar, the main character since book one, dying. They had no plans to continue the series outside a few Expanded Universe books, but HarperCollins asked the authors to write a fifth series, so they chose to make it a Prequel about how the Clans first formed. Due to fan demand, they are also releasing a single extra-long book that takes place after the fourth series.
- After 2 novellas and 2 short story collections, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended for the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Final Problem" to kill off the main character for good, as he felt that Holmes' popularity was overshadowing his "serious" historical novels. Public outcry (and sheer profitability) lead Doyle first to write the Interquel novella The Hound of the Baskervilles and then to definitively resurrect the character in "The Empty House" for another 20 years of adventures. However, most of the iconic cases were written in the early era, and later stories often suffer from a lack of continuity.
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., was designed to be a one season show. They wrapped it up brilliantly...too well since they were renewed for additional episodes and had nowhere to go but down.
- All in the Family wrapped up its eighth season with Mike, Gloria, and Joey moving to California. Actors Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers had announced they were leaving the show, and producer Norman Lear couldn't imagine continuing it without them, so having the Stivics say goodbye to Archie and Edith was conceived as a perfect Tear Jerker ending to the show...until CBS executives offered Carroll O'Connor $100,000 an episode to come back as Archie, and he agreed. Not only did the show continue for a ninth season (without Reiner, Struthers, or Lear), it got an After Show in Archie Bunker's Place.
- The last (fifth) season of Angel was, in its own way, a Post Script Season—albeit one that didn't arise from being renewed at the last second. The long story arc of the third and fourth seasons had come to a close, the characters had moved on to a completely different setting (the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart), several characters set out to be or were forcibly retooled, everyone except Angel had their memories of Connor erased and replaced by a false past, and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was added as as regular cast member. The change was apparently done at the network's request. Then, due to conflicting accounts, including the high per-episode cost, the show was cancelled anyway. What makes it a Post Script Season instead of a retool is that, while it was intended to cover multiple seasons, the cancellation aborted the arc.
- The final season of The A-Team, which resolved the main premise of the show - the team is pardoned by the government, and works for them instead of hiding out in the L.A. underground. In turn, it also had a post-script finale.
- Babylon 5 was originally plotted to a five-season arc. When the PTEN syndication network crumbled around it and the show was not renewed for a fifth season, the fourth season storyline was reworked to complete the entire arc. The show was subsequently granted a fifth season, but with almost all of its major plot threads resolved. The fifth season that resulted was much weaker, and was composed of a lot of stories that had been cut from earlier seasons for various reasons.
- Blake's 7 ended its third season with the destruction of the Liberator and the (apparent) death of the Big Bad. When the fourth season opened, they had to take the show in a radically different direction to compensate for the changes.
- In Boy Meets World, the highschool graduation season finale had changes like Mr. Feeny retiring and moving away, and Shawn deciding to take a job as a photographer instead of going to college. But when the series was renewed, both of these changes were reversed so that Shawn and Mr. Feeny could be part of the college experience along with Cory, Topanga, and the rest.
- The fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended with Buffy dying heroically to save Dawn and, by extension, all reality; the episode even ended with a shot of her gravestone ("She saved the world. A lot."). It was picked up for two more seasons on a different channel. Season six opened with her friends bringing her Back from the Dead for fear she might be stuck in a hell dimension. She actually went to heaven. The characters themselves commented on their uncertainty, lack of direction and how underwhelming their current enemies were after years of occult super-beings. Years later, the UPN years of the series remain contested among the fans to say the least. Even after the series was cancelled for good, it received a comic book continuation starting with Buffy: Season 8.
- The seventh season finale of Charmed was at first planned as the series finale. Just think about it: Darryl promised his wife he wouldn't help the Charmed Ones anymore, then they destroyed their own source of power so the Big Bad would die in the explosion as well, and finally changed their faces and started living normal lives! Not to mention their dead sister Prue was mentioned a lot, and even the episode title was a mirror of the title of the pilot episode. Then, after being on the bubble all season, the writers found out a week before the last episode aired that they got renewed, leading to another season (which was heavily panned).
- The ultimate example is probably Coronation Street, which has essentially been on a series of postscript seasons since 1960. It was originally intended to be 13 episodes long, with Coronation Street bulldozed in a Made-for-TV Movie. However, it proved so popular that a new series was commissioned, and it's been broadcasting more or less continuously to the present day.
- The seventh season of the Canadian coroner drama Da Vinci's Inquest ended with most of the major plot threads tied up (including the arrest of the series' Big Bad, who was prevalent throughout the last three seasons) and most of the characters getting a decent send-off. Although the series ended with a vague Sequel Hook (in which the main character, Dominic Da Vinci, announces his intent to run for Mayor of Vancouver), it was pretty much the end...until the show was retooled a year later as Da Vinci's City Hall, skipping the entire process of the mayoral election and going straight to Da Vinci in office. Although the postscript season still integrated a handful of characters from the previous seasons, the show bled viewers and was subsequently cancelled at the end of its season.
- Doctor Who went on hiatus twice: First, an 18-month break between Colin Baker's two seasons, and again after it was canceled in 1989. The latter was most likely caused by the behind-the-scenes havoc of returning to air for Season 23. Lead writer Eric Sward walked out in disgust, leaving his epic "Trial of a Timelord" story unfinished, the BBC was horrified by the finished product, fans were left hopelessly adrift by a nonsensical storyline, and Colin Baker went down in a hail of carrot juice.
- Earth: Final Conflict neatly resolved its entire premise in the penultimate season, wiping out the entire species responsible for the action of the plot. As a result, an entirely new random alien race had to be introduced to keep the plot afloat.
- The third season of Eastbound And Down ended with Kenny Powers faking his death in order to spend all his time with his family. When HBO insisted on a fourth season, Kenny ended up resurfacing in public, even having to go to jail for tax fraud.
- The episode order for the fourth and last season of Felicity was increased after production had wrapped. The original finale resolved the existing storylines and gave a brief synopsis of the characters' lives for the next two years. The extra episodes, rather than simply being written to take place and be aired before the finale, instead created a new five-episode arc set after the two year fast-forward, in which Felicity magically travels back in time to the beginning of the season in order to make different choices. The show had never included fantasy elements before, and the whole arc, while interesting, felt undeniably tacked on to an otherwise finished product.
- On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the third, fourth and fifth season finales were written as respectable farewells in case the show didn't get another season.
- Every season of Friday Night Lights after the third season, although this is a rare case of a postscript season done right. The main narrative arc concludes with the Panthers losing at State despite a big comeback when everyone expected them to be eliminated early, as well as most of the main characters' arcs being wrapped up...that is, until the fourth and fifth seasons, where Coach Taylor (who was forced out of his job) is hired at a newly-reopened school and teaches a new team with lesser equipment, budget and facilities, training them from scratch. However, the narrative (coupled with cameos and updates on the characters who were previously put on a bus) made it just as well-written as the previous seasons.
- John Esmonde and Bob Larbey's (now little remembered) National Service sitcom Get Some In! was cancelled after its fourth season in 1977. Esmonde and Larbey decided to end on a high note, with Corporal Marsh demoted to Aircraftman for cheating on a nursing exam and posted to a remote RAF base in Labrador, while "erks" Jakey, Ken, Matthew, and Bruce received a cushy posting to an RAF hospital in Malta. However, the News of the World successfully campaigned ITV to renew the series (citing audience figures of over 14 million), and the fifth season premiere in 1978 saw the plot developments at the end of the fourth season reversed as the "erks" were immediately recalled to Britain and found themselves once again under the heel of Marsh (who had returned a supposed hero and restored to Corporal). The cast and audience alike were unhappy with the result, doubly so because Robert Lindsay, who played Jakey Smith, had accepted the title role in the John Sullivan-penned sitcom Citizen Smith during the hiatus and was replaced by future Brush Strokes star Karl Howman. The fifth season proved to be the last, and ended on a much less final note than the fourth season.
- Combined with After Show, this happened with The Golden Girls. Bea Arthur decided to leave the show after the seventh season, and the series ends with Dorothy getting married and moving to Atlanta. However, her mother Sophia decides to stay in Miami with the roommates, setting up the premise for said After Show, The Golden Palace, as the girls buy a struggling high-end hotel. It wasn't well received, but has gained something of a cult following in subsequent years.
- Heroes features a variant of this. The original plan was to make the show an anthology series, with the first season's group of heroes story ending with the battle at Kirby Plaza, and then being replaced with an entirely new cast each season. However, the ratings for S1 were so successful, and the show became such a hot property that the finale was hastily changed to end with a cliffhanger where Hiro time-travels to feudal Japan. The following season wasn't planned, and began a precipitous slide in both quality and ratings that ended with the show's cancellation at the end of its fourth season.
- Kamen Rider Wizard has a rather short example. The plot of the series wraps up in episode #51...but they apparently had two weeks to kill before the start of the next series, Kamen Rider Gaim. So a two-part special was made that aired as episodes #52 and #53. It includes previous Kamen Riders as well as Gaim's Early-Bird Cameo.
- La Femme Nikita. Despite being the USA Network's top rated drama during its 4th season (even with no advertisement by the network), the cancellation was announced. After the large fan campaign to bring the series back, in September 2000 a truncated 5th season was announced. It did help out with some of the Cannon Fodder they had left behind, but gave one hell of a Bittersweet Ending.
- Magnum, P.I. had such a definitive finale at the end of season seven, they aired commercials explaining that despite the main character being killed, tying up loose ends up as a ghost, and then being sent off to the afterlife, things weren't really over. It lasted another season.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was originally a completed series at a mere 40 episodes, with a conclusion similar to the ending of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger (the Japanese basis for the first season) where Rita Repulsa was re-captured and thrown back into space in her dumpster after the defeat of Cyclopsis. However, the explosion in merchandise sales early into the series convinced Saban to pay Toei to film more action footage to extend the first season to 60 episodes (some which were left over and eventually used for the second season), as well as enter a contract for adapting whole future seasons. Traces of the original series finale are evident in the VERY choppy Command Center scene at the end of the aired version of "Doomsday Part 2" (in which Zordon offers the Rangers a chance to retire, even though Rita is still loose).
- Power Rangers in Space was also initially set to be the final season following Power Rangers Turbo, and made great strides to finish off existing plot threads, even killing off established characters and redeeming others. The ratings were so good for In Space that the series was recommisioned.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 ended its seventh season by resolving its entire premise, so the eighth season (on a new network) had to begin with a Reset Button, the shifting of the setting five hundred years into the future, and the introduction of a new antagonist. It survived for three more seasons, mostly because the plot of the series was never much more than a Framing Device for the slapstick and snark.
- Night Court: Season 8 is over. Dan quits his job and loses the Phil Foundation fortune. More importantly, Harry and Christine have professed their love to one another. OK, that's the end. What's that? We've been renewed? Oh, crap!
- 30 Rock devoted an episode to the idea that several of the characters on that show were unhappy with the Season 9 ending to Night Court, so they staged a "fake" episode, reuniting several of the actual cast members, and they had Harry and Christine get married.
- Only Fools and Horses: The British sitcom about two poor wheeler-dealer street-market trader brothers ended after 15 years (7 seasons and four sets of Christmas specials) with the Trotter brothers finding an antique watch in their garage, and becoming millionaires at last. The three episode finale, where the Trotters are finally shown in luxury penthouses and expensive sports cars, was shown over Christmas 1996 and attracted massive viewing figures for The BBC. A few years later they convinced writer John Sullivan to reprise the ever-popular characters for three more Christmas Episodes. Having the Trotters lose their investment money in a stock market crash (based on one in real life) and return to their original lifestyle only to gain some of their lost fortune back and allow Rodney and Cassandra to finally have a child of their own, the specials were panned by critics and viewers alike, and no more have been produced since 2003. To add salt to the wound, "Time On Your Hands" was featured on Sky1's often repeated Top Fifty TV Endings feature...completely ignoring the three 2001-2003 specials.
- Parks and Recreation has had shaky ratings from the start. According to co-creator and producer Mike Schur, every season finale after season 2 (with possibly the exception of season 5) has been a potential series finale. As such, pretty much every season has been a postscript season. The upcoming season 7 may be an obvious example, since season 6 ends with a 3 year Time Skip.
- Primeval, due to its huge budget, by British television standards, has spent most of its runtime on the verge of being cancelled. On top of that the actor playing the lead hero wanted out during season 3. This season, while containing some big fat Sequel Hooks, killed off not only him but also the main villain (his wife). While the gimmick driving the series was still there the writers had to develop a completely new storyline when they were eventually greenlit for a season 4 and 5. (Season 5 ended on a similar note, if the series gets revived again there will be another post script season.)
- Prison Break was an odd case of unplanned seasons. While the creators mentioned the show was only designed for two seasons, Fox squeezed a third season out of them in 2007-2008. This unfolded the same year when...you guessed it...the writer's strike happened. As a result, the third season was truncated to 13 episodes, and forced the writers to produce a fourth season to wrap up the show. Depending on who you ask, the fourth year was either a creative resurgence from the mediocre third season or a godawful train wreck of epic proportions. The controversial series ending was even more polarizing. And let's not even get into the cash grabbing DVD movie, The Final Break.
- Remington Steele married off Laura and Steele, as the show's cancellation looked certain and Pierce Brosnan had been offered the role of James Bond. However, because Brosnan got the Bond role, NBC decided to renew the show, bringing it back for a very lame half-season which lacked all of the charm of the preceding seasons and effectively scuttling Brosnan's big movie break. Brosnan didn't end up playing Bond for some years.
- As Roseanne neared the end of its eighth season, which had been expected to be its last, the ratings improved enough for the network to ask for one more season, in which the show completely lost its moorings as the Conners' lottery win allowed the writers to indulge in all the "what-if" plotlines they had never otherwise dared to touch.
- Sort of happened on Saved by the Bell. The show had finished taping its finale (which centered around the characters' high school graduation) when NBC ordered more episodes. Which shouldn't have been a problem, as the finale hadn't aired yet, and they could simply air the new episodes prior to the finale—except that the actors' contracts had expired, and everyone but Tiffani Amber-Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley decided to sign new ones. As a result, Kelly and Jessie were replaced with a new character named Tori Scott. No explanation was given for Kelly and Jessie's absence in the new episodes, and since the finale was already in the can, no explanation could be given for Tori's absence at graduation.
- Scrubs' had a lot of stays of execution:
- The sixth season built up to wrapping up the various plot-lines: Elliott was getting married to Keith, who brought out the best in her; Turk and Carla had a lovely family set up with their baby daughter, Izzy, and the same was true of Dr Cox and Jordan with their kids, Jack and Jennifer Dylan; JD was as neurotic as ever, but mostly unchanged and dealing with the alienation that his dislikable habits led to; Laverne had been Killed Off for Real ... and at the last minute, they got renewed for season seven. Suddenly, JD finds out that Kim lied to him about her miscarriage, Elliott's dysfunctions with Keith got turned Up to Eleven, and instead of the (admittedly kind of depressing) ending that things had been shaping up for, we got a cliffhanger season ending and a season premiere that really only served to once again point out that JD and Elliott were the endgame couple.
- Season 7 would have been the last season if it weren't for the 2007-2008 writers' strike.
- The show's Grand Finale occurred at the end of its eighth season. It was then picked up for a ninth where it was retooled to focus on a completely different group of characters in a setting only tangentially related to Sacred Heart.
- SeaQuest DSV also had this happen twice. It was not known if the show would be renewed, so at the end of the first season, they destroyed the SeaQuest. The show was picked up, so there was a retool and a new SeaQuest was constructed. Then at the end of the second season, facing a similar situation, the SeaQuest was transported to another planet and then destroyed. The show was picked up, so it was renamed SeaQuest 2032 and moved ten years into the future. Partway into season three, it was Cut Short.
- 7th Heaven had a grand series finale at the end of the 10th season. They got all the original cast back, had a big almost-wedding, and every married Camden child was expecting twins. Then, like the Jesus that the Christian characters never mentioned, the show was revived three days later because the executives mistook the finale's high ratings as a sign that people wanted the show to continue. For the 11th season, the writers were forced to find a way out of the corner they backed themselves into with the twins, as well as deal with a much smaller budget. Their way out of these problems was to make Lucy have a miscarriage over the summer, have the longest-running (and highest paid) actors not appear in every episode, bring in a bevy of cheaper teen actors, and have Reverend Camden homeschool the twins to save money on a classroom set and extras. The results were dismal.
- Sledge Hammer! nuked its town in the first season finale, not expecting renewal. With the renewal, the second season was set "five years earlier", with all ongoing plotlines continuing uninterrupted. It worked because it was comedy show.
- Stargate SG-1 had this happen multiple times, with seasons 6, 7, 8 and 9. The show was expected to be cancelled after five seasons, and so ended on a decent (but not Grand) finale ("Revelations") — the expectation was that they would then move on to The Movie (to be called "Stargate: The Lost City" or something similar) which would segue into the Spin-Off (Stargate Atlantis, which was very different in concept at this stage). Then the show was renewed for a sixth season, and so was given a Grand Finale ("Full Circle") which introduced the planned concept of The Movie. Then the show was renewed for a seventh season, so The Movie was cancelled and its concept was rewritten as a season-long arc that would finish with a two-part Grand Finale ("Lost City") which would segue into the Spin-Off instead. Then the series was renewed for an eighth season, so the Grand Finale's ending was changed to make more of a cliffhanger to be resolved in the Season 8 premiere, and Stargate Atlantis started running concurrently to Stargate SG-1. It was expected that the eighth season would be the last, however, so the end of the season was once again devised to close the book on the series: both major galactic threats were taken away in a three-episode arc ("Reckoning" Parts 1 & 2 and "Threads" — interestingly, these came just before the Grand Finale), and then the series ended with yet another two-part Grand Finale ("Moebius") involving time-traveling to ancient Egypt. The show was then picked up again for a ninth season, and was given a retool which replaced several cast members and introduced a new Big Bad. Season 9 was made knowing that the show would be renewed for at least another year — and then, finally, the show was cancelled after the end of Season 10. Whether the final episode ("Unending") was a Grand Finale is doubtful; the real resolution of the series happened in the DVD movie Stargate The Ark Of Truth. And then there was another DVD movie, and more planned... until Stargate Universe underperformed. Ooops.
- After an unprecedented (at the time) letter-writing campaign saved Star Trek: The Original Series from cancellation, fans were "rewarded" with a third season containing many of the show's weakest and/or goofiest episodes (even by the standards of the series), including the infamous Spock's Brain as season premiere. Since the series was always purely episodic, the usual reasons for a lackluster Post Script Season don't apply; what really killed the show was that the network promised a solid Tuesday night slot and then was moved to a Friday... er, Saturday Night Death Slot, violating a verbal contract with creator/producer Gene Roddenberry. He left the show in protest and had little involvement in the third season. That said, some strong episodes did churn out.
- Star Trek: Voyager germinated as a post-script season for Star Trek: The Next Generation. You could easily swap the roles around — Troi for Kes, Worf for Tuvok, Riker for Chakotay — and not lose anything in the transfer, especially during Seasons 1 and 2.
- Season 5 of Supernatural ended with Sam making the ultimate sacrifice to put Lucifer back in his cage and Dean giving up his demon hunting ways and settling down. It was a very touching episode and would have made the perfect series finale, cliffhanger aside. And then they got a sixth season. The show creator walked away but his co-producer kept it going. The season 8 showrunner claims to have a three-season plan which would end the series at 10 seasons.
- The seventh season finale of That '70s Show was clearly supposed to be the series finale: first, Red FINALLY caught the guys smoking pot in his basement. Then he finally said to his son he loved him without insulting him in the process. And, of course, at the end of this episode, the main character Eric left the series. Aside from an open ending of the Kelso-Jackie-Hyde love triangle storyline, there was nothing more to add to the story.
- The open ending was clearly tacked on after it was known the series was renewed. Jackie and Hyde's relationship had already had its ups and downs, and they were resolved... only to be thrown more obstacles at the tail end to provide material for new episodes.
- 24 pulled this twice:
- The seventh season ended with a large number of plot threads being resolved (including Tony Almeida confronting, and Renee Walker presumably killing, the mastermind behind the Myth Arc of the last four seasons) and bringing things full circle with Kim Bauer returning to save Jack from a weaponized virus via a transplant. There was lots of uncertainty for a time, but the show was unexpectedly renewed and brought back for another year. In response, the producers moved the show all the way to the other side of the country (New York), introduced an entirely new cast of characters, reworked a previously-good supporting character into the season's Big Bad and indicated that the previous mastermind, Alan Wilson, got off scot-free for his crimes.
- Ratings for season 8 suffered and the show was not renewed as a result. However, the last stretch of episodes were highly praised for shaking up the series' status quo dramatically (and ended with Jack on the run and President Taylor disgraced and forced to resign from office over her role in the Russian treaty). A year-and-a-half later, it was announced that the show would return in a limited series called 24: Live Another Day.
- Twin Peaks sorta went downhill like this after Laura Palmer's killer was revealed, the main plot being resolved (due to Executive Meddling, no less - the writers had other plans). It felt incredibly awkward to have Dale Cooper still hanging around in Twin Peaks, even though he didn't have a reason to stay after the killer had been found. Windom Earle was more of a stand-in for Laura Palmer's killer than a real villain.
- The X-Files faced retool after retool as they tried to wring a few more seasons out after the feature film. The seventh season is particularly guilty of premature closure. It "explained" the conspiracy arc, killed off nearly all the Syndicate antagonists, and perhaps most significantly, resolved the long-running mystery of Mulder's missing sister.
- This happened to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in its original radio incarnation, which had to get Arthur and Ford off of prehistoric Earth and rescue Marvin and Zaphod from a carbon copy of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal so they could go on further adventures. (While poor old Trillian got a one-line Put on a Bus.)
- The bus came back later, when they started making radio versions of the book series.
- Henry V - After the roguish Prince Hal won a loyal fanbase in Henry IV parts one and two, the author eventually decided to extend the story, even after bringing Hal's relationship with the Ensemble Dark Horse Falstaff to a satisfactory conclusion in the finale. The reboot ended up being much Darker and Edgier, and contrary to the author's promises didn't include Falstaff at all.
- BIONICLE ended mid-2010, and the entire toyline, comics, movies and novels have become discontinued. Just about all of the main story threads got neatly, if abruptly, wrapped up and the final speech delivered, but many side-stories were still unfinished and a lot of mysteries unsolved, thus (and also because the "ending" had set up a ton of new possibilities) LEGO agreed to keep the story going for at least another year and a half, but only the main writer, Greg Farshtey remained as the sole storyteller, as the other members of the former Story Team had moved on to other projects.
- Mega Man X5 ended the story and left Zero Killed Off for Real. Capcom produced a sequel anyway, without Keiji Inafune's involvement. X6's mostly pointless story tried to combine all 3 of X5's endings, used one of the worst Ass Pulls ever to bring Zero back (a fact that wasn't even kept hidden), and demoted Big Bad Sigma to Anti-Climax Boss status. It even included a robot shark for easy jumping purposes.
- It doesn't help that Zero's explanation that he repaired himself between games is mentioned in a cutscene and the truth that he doesn't know who really fixed him is revealed in an optional event where Zero gets an armor part from Dr. Light. Maybe if the development team didn't make that wretched Nightmare stage gimmick, they'd had more time to make the game make sense.
- Sigma's state of being is partially justified in that he, after the stunt he pulled in X5, was too weak to be anything other than a (mostly) incoherent robot zombie (that, and Gate likely bungled his revival of Sigma, which only took place a few weeks after the previous game as opposed to somewhat longer periods of inactivity and recovery).
- The less said of Axl, and the 2 further sequels, the better.
- There's also the fact that X5 was supposed to lead up to the Zero series note .
- Where Zero was killed Deader than Dead in its finale.
- That would be the fourth game. The third game was supposed to be the last one of the Zero series. Capcom is really bad with this trope.
- And then returned as a Biometal in ZX. Maybe. (The jury's still out on whether or not Model Z is Zero's actual Soul Jar.)
- Halo 3 suffered from a variation on this. The developers have been very frank in saying that a need to meet a publisher-enforced deadline for Halo 2 not only deprived them of much-needed game polishing time and various chunks of gameplay, but forced them to cut off the game's actual ending. They had to come up with a way to pad out a game's third act into an entire new, console-selling, killer-app extravaganza. They didn't do a bad job gameplay-wise, but the storyline suffered from the resolution of most of the plot points in the previous title.
- However, 343 (a new company made up of remnants of Bungie that wanted to stay with the series after Bungie split after making Halo: Reach, plus some other designers from other game companies) announced plans for a new Halo trilogy at E3 2011, so that might solve the story problems of part 3.
- After years of Final Fantasy games existing as standalone games, the success of Final Fantasy X and the intrigue created by a promotional video expanding on the game's Bittersweet Ending led to production of Final Fantasy X-2 scant months after the game's Japanese release. Since the world had already been saved in the previous game, this sequel had a Lighter and Softer tone, especially compared to the heavy drama of the first. It also added Fanservice by the truck load and starred three women. Finally, it also addressed the Bittersweet Ending, leading to many outcries from people that had assumed Tidus died, despite the ending of Final Fantasy X showing him returning to Spira and Final Fantasy X-2 using that exact scene to show his return.
- In a sense, the entire Final Fantasy series could qualify. Squaresoft expected the original to be its last game before closing its doors forever. However, the game was so successful that it saved the company and spawned an entire franchise. Interesting, though, in that each installment generally stands alone with its own characters, plot, and setting.
- Final Fantasy XIII ended quite conclusively — the heroes saved Cocoon, their loved ones they were trying to save were restored, the villains were dead, and humanity was facing an uncertain but hopeful future on Pulse. But Word of God is that fan demand for a sequel was high, so they made one. Said sequel follows the main heroine's little sister and a new character with the original party members having gone missing or playing supporting roles, features a new antagonist never even hinted at in the first game, and features a storyline almost entirely detached from the original, focusing on time travel and undoing paradoxes in the timeline.
- According to the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology, the real purpose of the Fal'Cie is "entering the unseen realm". Considering the plot of the game ends when the door opens, it might be less conclusive than it seems.
- Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow. The eponymous virus and the Consortium, which were dealt with in the previous installment, are no longer part of the plot, which instead involves a classic Middle Eastern terrorist plotting to blow up a dam with devices invented by Lian's ex-husband.
- Super Robot Wars does this all the time, often including a series after its plot has been resolved simply to pad out the cast list (or because they want to pair it up with another show).
- Super Robot Wars Alpha and Super Robot Wars Z in particular have a rather large number of Postscript Series, since they're multi-game epics and just having characters disappear into the ether when there are still enemies to fight wouldn't make sense. Though Alpha does lose a few series along the way, like Gundam 0080 and Brain Powerd, and Z replaces some older series with new incarnations, like Mazinger Z -> Shin Mazinger.
- Strangely enough, in the first part Super Robot War Z3, GunBuster is first introduced in the Z continuity after the final battle of it's home series, specifically after Noriko detonated one of Gunbuster's engines near the end of the series, sending her 12,000 years into the future and unable to find her sister and co-pilot, Kazumi.
- Shin Super Robot Wars takes place after the events of the Dancougar TV series, as in one scenario, Sara commiserates with Usso Evin about his first love being a traitor as it Shin reenacts the moment where Katejina Loos defects to the Zanscare Empire V Gundam, but tells him that better lovers can be quite close at hand (referring to Shinobu in Dancougar).
- In Super Robot Wars UX:
- Gundam SEED Destiny characters are pretty much integrated into the Fafner cast, with Shinn Asuka and Lunamaria Hawke helping them battle the Festum after their war ended (Cagalli Yula Athla is their sponsor; this implies Shinn has made some peace with ORB).
- Team D, from Dancougar Nova, has retired, yet received Laser-Guided Amnesia and went back to their ordinary lives, leaving only Eida and the R-Daigun for a good chunk of the game.
- BB Senshi Sangokuden is another "just there to support the other plots" series, since they had already shown Souken Gundam, Ryuubi Gundam and Sousou Gundam's final battle (or the middle of it) in the UX prologue. Yet Ryofu was conveniently Back from the Dead despite he was killed way before the finale.
- UX explicitly happens post-Dunbine, to which the original series was a Kill 'em All ending.
- The Another Centurys Episode franchise also did this in 3: The Final (with Macross and Metal Armor Dragonar, both of whom had their plots finished in 2) and R (Gundam SEED Destiny, the only series in the ACE franchise to debut with its plot resolved).
- The original Another World ending was meant to be Left Hanging, but Interplay went ahead and made a sequel without Chahi's involvement, where you play as Buddy, and Lester, the original protagonist, dies near the end.
- Leisure Suit Larry after 3. Al Lowe had written himself into a corner with 3's ending and couldn't figure out how to logically continue the series, so he skipped part 4 and made its absence the main plot point of 5.
- Resident Evil 5 rendered series Big Bad Wesker Deader than Dead, yet the series is slated to continue with RE6, needless to say sans Shinji Mikami. Looks like it may be becoming a Franchise Zombie (how very meta.).
"Yahtzee" Croshaw, Extra Punctuation:
So the series became this endless struggle between the unstoppable force of Umbrella versus the immovable object of the Redfields or Leon or whoever was carrying the torch that day, and neither entity changed or moved from that position
. Then Umbrella was shut down and the series had nowhere to go, so the role of villain is now being filled
by something completely nebulous - the entire concept of heartless business or the entire concept of terrorism, and it's hard to get a grasp on what, exactly, the protagonists need to do to put a stop to it all.
- Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Chronicles, and Angel of Darkness, all of which became Canon Discontinuity after the reboot.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, while well-received, pretty much qualifies as this. Metal Gear Solid 4 had already revealed the secret behind the Patriots, ended their rule, and made Big Boss repent. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is therefore a mostly Filler Interquel which mostly serves to explain something that was already explained by a previous Filler game (Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops) in a way slightly more congruent with Metal Gear Solid 4's retcons. Fortunately the plot on its own is a lot of fun, and the game is also really entertaining.
- The second half of the Megaman Battle Network games suffer from this. The ending of 3 is the typical "It looks like the hero's about to die. No wait, he survives." script, while being overly sentimental and dramatic, as well as finally beating up the World Three, the main villain group. It's pretty obvious that 4 was made with absolutely no thought put into subsequent games (the villain is a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, dark chips seem to be a one-off gimmick, and the plot is very bare-bones). 5 builds on the dark chips and the new villains, the Nebula organization, but kills them off in the game, making all the development meaningless, and 6 switches gears back to World Three, the group you were assured were finished in 3, while bringing back older characters from all the other games, except, oddly fitting, from 3.
- The original Guild Wars story ended with the Eye of the North expansion as an obvious setup for the sequel. Three years later the developers began releasing new stories for the original game in order to renew interest in the series. The new stories continued existing plots from the original games and were of considerably higher difficulty.
- A number of episodic 90's-era First-Person Shooters used this formula, introducing new episodes or expansion packs that continued things after the main story.
- Ultimate Doom features a fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed, taking place after Doomguy kills the Cyber Mastermind and returns to Earth, but before Doom II takes place. Doom 64 takes place after Doom II, which ended with Doomguy pretty much annihilating the forces of Hell, and had to bring in a special demon to resurrect the hellspawn so there'd be something left to fight. The non-canon, but still officially released Final Doom WADs are treated as this as well.
- Heretic ends with Corvus killing D'Sparil. The extra episodes introduced in the Shadows Of The Serpent Riders expansion has Corvus getting trapped in D'Sparil's domain after the final battle and having to fight his way out.
- Hexen, similarly, ends with the player killing the second Serpent Rider, Korax, and getting trapped in the Land of the Dead in Deathkings Of The Dark Citadel, having to fight their way out.
- Quake I continues after the death of Shub-Niggurath with Scourge of Armagon and Dissolution of Eternity, with the player having to take out remnants of Shub-Niggurath's forces when they attempt another invasion of Earth.
- Wolfenstein 3D avoids this by having the 3 episodes after the death of Hitler and the proper sequel, Spear of Destiny be prequels to the original trilogy.
- The Ace Attorney series creator Shu Takumi intended to end the story with the third game, so he set out to tie all the loose ends and give a proper send off to his characters. The problem? The game became a smash hit in Japan and surprisingly, it got a huge reception overseas as well. This soon prompted Capcom to make a new game for the series but Takumi, whose story with the original characters was closed in the third game, wanted to create a whole new story with brand new characters. Capcom thought the game would become a failure if it didn't have the original protagonist so they forced his inclusion in the game. The result? A game that can very well be its own story, but at the same time, suffers from the lack of connectivity to the older games.
- Takumi also intended to end the series with that game but, once again, Capcom pushed for a new game. This time though, Takumi stepped out and left the series future to another team.
- Justice League Unlimited finished its plot arc in its second season, ending with an epilogue to the entire DC Animated Universe, set after Batman Beyond. The series went on for one more season, however, with an entirely different storyline involving Luthor and Grodd forming the Legion of Doom; however, unlike many other examples on this list, it managed to maintain its high quality until the end. The series' creators have stated that after Batman Beyond ended without any significant fanfare, they made every season finale a possible Grand Finale, since they never knew whether or not they would get another season.
- Teen Titans also got renewed for one additional season (season five) that year. The surprise of this development could be seen in that the three-part finale for season four was titled simply "The End".
- Kim Possible was originally set to end with The Movie So the Drama, but was renewed for another season. However, the following season retained high quality and the true series finale finished up the remaining story arcs the original left hanging, such as Ron finally managing to master his Mystical Monkey powers.
- Recess was supposed to end with the Continuity Porn episode "Lawson and his Crew", and then wrap everything up with The Movie, Recess: School's Out, where the characters leave fourth grade. Because the movie was such a huge sucess, Disney renewed the show for another season, putting the main kids back in the fourth grade, getting rid of both Butch and Miss Grotke after the season premiere, adding Anvilicious morals, and the season only lasted 5 episodes before it hit Disney's notorious 65 episode limit. Many fans believe that this was when the show jumped the shark.
- The Legend of Korra was originally supposed to be a twelve episode Mini Series, which results in the first season being a self-contained story with no obvious Sequel Hooks. It was renewed for three more seasons* of 14, 13, and 13 episodes, which are all meant to lead into each other and end the series.
- After Season 5's Grand Finale with the spies leaving WOOHP, Totally Spies! was unexpectedly renewed in 2013.