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Series Fauxnale
He's just become the strongest man on Earth, defeated the King of Demons (twice), turned down a God Job and gotten married. And it's not even the halfway point...
So... you're the creative force behind a television show. You've managed to get your concept off the ground, and into the homes of millions. But you're just not sure if it has been enough millions. Ratings are wavering, the advertising isn't selling as well as you've hoped, and the network has made it not at all clear whether you'll be picked up for another season. You're not certain if you've told the complete story that you've wanted to tell, and are far from certain that you'll be granted the forum of a TV-Movie in order to Wrap It Up.

But still, there are the thousands of fans out there, signing petitions, talking about it on their favorite television wiki, and generally supportive in every facet of your show. Don't they deserve closure? Don't they deserve to not be Left Hanging? Of course. So, with the Season Finale looming high, and it almost certainly the last episode to be aired, you decide to go out with a bang and give the folks at home a nice curtain call. It's the Grand Finale after all!

... then you get Only Barely Renewed... heck, maybe even Un-Cancelled, if your series has rabid enough fans who do all but commit suicide in order to get the series back.

The Series Fauxnale is an episode of a series that was planned to serve as an adequate, even great, final episode of the show, brought upon by how its future on television was uncertain. Often precedes a Post Script Season, though some shows last for many, many years thereafter. It is likely to have all the attributes of the Stock Series Finales. If the following years of the show are considered lackluster, there'll be more than a couple fans that claim Fanon Discontinuity on it, and say that this was when the show really ended.

Will more often than not overlap with Status Quo Is God.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Southern Cross story arc of Fist of the North Star (the first ten chapters of the manga and the first 22 episodes of the anime) was written so that it could stand on its own in case the manga wasn't picked up. Shin's status as Kenshiro's Token Motivational Nemesis (being the guy who engraved Ken's seven scars and stole his girlfriend) is cemented afterward when the manga continued beyond his death.
  • Fushigi Yuugi gives us an epic battle between Nakago and the Suzaku Seishi (and Seiryuu and Suzaku themselves!) in Tokyo before fast-forwarding to three and a half months later to symbolically wrap things up with Cherry Blossoms. This was supposed to be the Grand Finale for both the anime and the manga, but... y'know.
  • The 26th episode of Futari wa Pretty Cure appears to have been written under the assumption that it would probably be the last. The Big Bad is unambiguously killed off by a climactic Theme Music Power-Up, the last of the Quirky Miniboss Squad is eliminated, the Garden of Light is restored, the Queen gives Nagisa and Honoka a heartfelt thank you, and there's even a happy reunion between the main characters and the Mons in the final scenes. This was the series that kicked off Pretty CurePost Script Season doesn't really cover it. Amusingly, everyone in the series spends the next few episodes confused and not exactly sure where things were going now.
    • It happens again in Smile Pretty Cure! with episode 23, defeating all four members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, gaining a brand new form to beat Pierrot with...then the next episode starts out with everything back to square one: they still have their new powers, but the bad guys are still alive and they're back to collecting MacGuffins again. In Smile's case it wasn't actually intended as a finale in the first place, but more likely as a homage to the original Pretty Cure.
  • Sgt. Frog sort of does this in episode 51. In this episode, the Keroro ("A.R.M.P.I.T.") Platoonnote  receives a message from headquarters ordering them to return to Keron...or they will die. There are even scenes that show them packing everything up, and erasing everyone's memories (including the Hinatas'). It turns out though, that they only had to return for a regular medical checkup, and as a result they never really had to leave "Pekopon" after all.
  • Season 1 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was the very first TV anime of Seven Arcs and was The Anime of the Game to boot, so it ends in a rather final way with the Big Bad dead, the MacGuffins safely secured, Fate having a tearful farewell with Nanoha, the last scenes showing everything going back to the way they were, and... whoops, looks like Seven Arcs' first attempt at a series was successful enough to kickstart a franchise! Contrast the finales of the subsequent seasons, whose Where Are They Now Epilogues are unambiguous in its intent of setting things up for the next season.
  • Sailor Moon (both the manga and original anime) was supposed to have ended with original Big Bad Queen Metalia's defeat, but everyone knows that didn't happen....
  • GaoGaiGar has a similar example to that of Pretty Cure's, with Big Bad Pasder being defeated for good in episode 30. Then the Primevals happened.
  • The second season of Hell Girl ultimately became this due to a third season coming along.
  • Dragon Ball was originally going to conclude with Goku defeating the Red Ribbon Army and restoring Upa's father back to life. If you read the series all the way up to there from the beginning it does really have a "finale" feeling to it, with things coming full circle by having Goku once again defeat Pilaf and encounter his grandfather Gohan for one final goodbye. Interestingly enough, the more famous example among fans that Akira Toriyama was originally going to end the series at the Freiza saga is only a rumor and has never actually been verified, and there were not-yet-fired Chekhov's Guns that would indicate otherwise. The end of the Cell saga, however, very much does feel like a finale, with Goku dying in one last Heroic Sacrifice while Passing the Torch to his son Gohan, who finally unlocks the great potential that's been hinted at ever since his introduction years earlier and defeats the Big Bad who Goku couldn't.
    • A notable case that wasn't a finale (okay, technically in the anime's case it sort of is since the original series concluded and continued as Dragon Ball Z) was Goku's defeating Piccolo during the 23rd Budokai. Just to assure readers that this wasn't going to be the end, the last chapter has Master Roshi breaking the fourth wall to confirm that the story will in fact be continuing.
  • A strange example in the Black Cat anime, which reaches the end of the manga with Train defeating Creed and foiling his plans. Then suddenly, with only a single minor scene of Foreshadowing (and an entire story arc revolving around Eve's creator and her origins being strangely absent,) several members of the Numbers are revealed to be The Mole for a whole other organization, and the series ends in a four-episode anime-only story arc instead that changes Eve's origins entirely. Not even the script having to resolve itself in a Gecko Ending due the manga not being finished yet can explain why this happened, as the anime started a whole year after the manga ended.
  • Parodied in the first episode of Space Dandy, which ends with almost the entire main cast dying when Dandy's ship explodes and takes out an entire nearby planet, complete with "The End". Then the next episode preview happens, with QT asking "Didn't we all just die?", and the second episode continues on as if it didn't happen.
  • Cyborg009 was to originally end at the Underground Empire arc in 1967; however, fans did not take very well to the bittersweet (yet now considered iconic) finale in which Cyborgs 002 and 009 fall to Earth, dying upon re-entry and becoming a "shooting star" seen by two children. The brother wishes for a toy gun, but the sister wishes for peace. Fan outcry convinced Shotaro Ishinomori to resume the series soon enough, and he threw in a retcon for that ending. Although, as far as the Sega CD game in the '90s goes, this moment is where the series ends, and although the 2001 anime also loosely adapted the prologue of "Conclusion: God's War" as a post-series OVA, this moment was also intended to end the series.
    • Even before the Underground Empire arc, fans assume that the Mythos Cyborg arc might have also been intended as a finale. The arc ends very abruptly, with an explosion destroying everything and the narrator noting that there were no traces of any of the cyborgs left behind (leaving viewers to assume they'd died). However, the reality is that Ishinomori had trouble with the editorial department in Weekly Shonen King, who decided to drop the series as they felt the Mythos arc was too confusing and complicated for children to understand. Thus when given the final chapter, he ended things off in a rushed and ambiguous manner.
  • Like the Boondocks example below, Durarara!! ended in 2010 but was surprisingly renewed for another season in 2014. It helped that the first season only adapted the first 3 books of the series, and that it ended with a few lingering plot threads to be potentially explored in future episodes.
  • The sports fest arc of School Rumble ends with Harima and Eri dancing together and it even says "THE END" (well, not really).

    Comic Books 
  • Occasionally, comic books undergoing a Cosmic Retcon present a variation of these, tying up previously ongoing story-lines to a certain degree before a new continuity takes over. The most famous example is Alan Moore's Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?.
    • A company-wide version of this happened just before The New 52, with all the characters with running series "signing off" In-Universe at the end.
  • The intended finale of Milligan's Shade, the Changing Man was supposed to be a Downer Ending, at the end of 'A Season In Hell' arc. Executive Meddling forced the creator's hand, and what followed may have made a better story under a different title (as Milligan probably intended.)
  • IDW's Transformers comic recently had a delibirate example. Issue 31 of the Ongoing is purposely written so that it can be used as the final issue for the entire IDW continuity. As such exactly what's happened between the previous issues and issue 31 is unclear. It takes place hundreds of years in the future, Ironhide and Alpha Trion are some of the few remaining memebers of the original Autobots, the Transformers live on Gorlam Prime instead of Cyberton, and Megatron and Optimus Prime have disappeared.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog issue 50 certainly has that final issue feel to it - Dr. Robotnik was dead, Sally (who was thought to be dead) was alive, everyone was safe from Robotnik's tyranny and, if the series stopped there, things wouldn't of felt off. Granted, though, this was probably due to Executive Meddling forcing them to alter the comic.
  • As comic books are generally collected into trade graphic-novel collections every 6 issues or so, newer, smaller, or struggling titles usually have a nice wrap-up of a storyline every 6-12 issues where you could safely end things in case they get shelved.

    Film 
  • The Final Destination, the fourth film in the series, was meant to close out the franchise and offered a (controversial) reason for Death to allow the premonitions to happen. It promptly became the highest-grossing film in the series and was followed by Final Destination 5.
    • Subverted in a way, in that the twist ending reveals Final Destination 5 is actually a prequel, thus leaving The Final Destination as the finale chronologically.
  • Friday the 13th
  • This may or may not have been the case with Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. It all depends on whether Freddy vs. Jason was a sequel to that movie or an interquel set earlier in the franchise, something that not everyone agrees on.
  • Likewise, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later was very clearly meant to be the definitive final film in the series. Then Halloween: Resurrection came along, retconning the ending of H20 into a Downer Ending to set the stage for yet another slash-by-numbers affair, which ended up failing to revitalize the franchise anyway, so it was all that for nothing. The series then got rebooted to a new continuity with Rob Zombie at the helm.
  • Destroy All Monsters was going to be the last Godzilla film, as it takes place in the future, the Big Bad is killed, and they all live hapilly ever after. But, it was not, as a REALLY bad sequel followed, as did others, that were not quite as bad.
    • It would be attempted again with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, where everything comes full circle with the birth of a monster from the very thing that killed the original Godzilla to the death of the then current Godzilla. After seeing the failure that was Godzilla (1998), however, Toho decided to show everyone how it's done by making more Godzilla movies, coming to a head with Godzilla Final Wars.
  • Saw III was clearly intended to finish the series since it wraps up everything pretty nicely. There was even a box set released of the "Saw Trilogy". A few Sequel Hooks were added (Jigsaw's brief flashback, as well as the wax-covered tape and Amanda's letter) so that the series could continue.
  • Return of the Jedi was the last Star Wars film in the original trilogy. Cue the prequel trilogy and Episodes VII-IX.
  • The original alternate ending of Terminator 2: Judgment Day showed the now aged Sarah and the grown up John playing with his child at the park.
  • Iron Man 3 was made so that it could serve as a conclusion to the Iron Man character just in case Robert Downey, Jr. did not want to reprise the role in future films. While Downey will return in future Avengers sequels, Iron Man 3 definitely is the last solo Iron Man movie.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon was going to be the last Transformers movie, as it ended with Cybertron being destroyed and all of the Decepticons killed off. The film was obviously a box-office hit, so the series was Retooled with Age of Extinction.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was supposed to be this for Star Trek: The Original Series and the Star Trek franchise itself, since the TV spinoffs didn't exist at the time.

    Literature 
  • An in-universe example in Misery, where Annie forces Paul to write a sequel to Misery's Child, even though he had intended it to be the last of the series, and had gleefully killed off the main character.
  • Many Rainbow Magic books were written this way. It's still ongoing.
  • When, after five books, L. Frank Baum grew tired of writing Oz novels despite their popularity, he issued The Emerald City of Oz (1910) as a finale to the series, going so far as to state in the final chapter that with Oz now magically cut off from the rest of the world, there would be no further installments, as Dorothy could no longer communicate with him. Three years later, the financially struggling Baum, finding that his non-Oz books weren't selling, resumed the series with The Patchwork Girl of Oz, offering the in-universe explanation that the "wireless telegraph" enabled further communication between him and Dorothy. Thereafter Baum published seven more Oz volumes before his death, and the official series, under various writers, continued until 1963.
  • Most famously, "The Final Problem" for Sherlock Holmes, in which Arthur Conan Doyle killed Holmes off in a struggle with Professor Moriarty. Because of public outcry, he eventually retconned the death and resumed the series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Downton Abbey season 2 ended with Mary & Matthew getting engaged and Sybil getting pregnant.
  • The season 4 mid-season premiere of Battlestar Galactica, "Sometimes a Great Notion", was written with the intent of serving as a finale in the event that the 2007 writer's strike prevented the remaining episodes from being made. It would have been quite the cliffhanger.
  • Chuck: Since the show lived in a state of perpetual doubt, it was peppered with a good number of them.
    • Season 2 had "Chuck Versus the Ring", with Chuck and Morgan both quitting the Buy-More only to return the very next season, Chuck's nemesis dying a Heroic Death, and Chuck losing the Intersect only to get a new, more powerful one.
    • Season 3 had "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", in which Chuck's nemesis died and Chuck and Sarah resolve their Unresolved Sexual Tension, and "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" has the Buy-More destroyed only to be rebuilt by the CIA in time for the next season.
    • Season 4 had "Chuck Versus the Push Mix", where Ellie gives birth to Clara and Chuck and Sarah get engaged.
      • Season 4 actually had two of these - it was originally planned as a 13-episode season, before being extended to 24; and the show's future was still in doubt. Episode 24 ended with Chuck and Sarah getting married, Vivian happily reunited with her father (and leaving the newlyweds Volkoff Industries), Chuck and Sarah getting the team back together for their own private spy venture... and Morgan becoming the Intersect. The title? Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger.
  • With its lagging ratings and mid-season hiatus, Community's continuation into a fourth season was uncertain. The third season finale ended with a Last Episode Theme Reprise, a relatively happy ending for the main characters, and a sense that "if it ends here... that's not too bad."
    • The fourth season had one of these as well, since they didn't expect the last second renewal for a fifth season. The finale ends with Jeff and Pierce finally graduating from Greendale and Jeff giving a touching speech about how his friends have changed him and made him a better person throughout the course of the series. He then states that even though he's leaving, he'll still pop in from time to time to hang out with his old friends. It's ambiguous enough to both serve as a Grand Finale moment (but not as blatant as the season 3 finale) and open the door for future episodes.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had "Philadelphia Story" which was supposed to be the finale but when NBC brought the show back, they had NBC reps kidnap Will and bring him back to Bel Air in the beginning of the next season
  • Magnum, P.I.'s episode "Limbo" in which Magnum walked off into the sunset - after having been shot and in a coma, visiting his friends one last time as a spirit.
  • The half season episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. titled "Crystal Hawks" was structured in case the series wasn't extended for a full season: Brisco catches John Bly, forms a partnership with Lord Bowler, resolves a No One Could Survive That moment from the pilot, and finally gets some vague information on the series MacGuffin, the Orb. The final scene where Socrates tells Brisco that Bly had escaped Diabolus ex Machina style was put in once the full season order had come through.
  • All in the Family: "The Stivics Go West", which wrapped up season 8 with Mike, Gloria, and Joey bidding a tearful goodbye to Archie and Edith and moving to California. Norman Lear had indeed intended for this to be the show's finale, but CBS executives (along with Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton) convinced him to let the show continue for another season without his participation.
    • It can be argued that the show's actual finale, "Too Good Edith", was this as well, since All in the Family was then Retooled into Archie Bunker's Place, which lasted for four more seasons. Ironically enough, that show - and thus the entire 13-year story of Archie Bunker - never got a proper finale.
  • Arrested Development: Season 1 finale, "Let 'Em Eat Cake", which ends with George Bluth escaping prison, Tobias and Lindsay reconciled, George Michael deciding not to pursue Maeby, and Michael Bluth deciding to let the family fend for themselves.
  • Happened to Babylon 5 when it appeared that it was going to be canceled at the end of its fourth season (five seasons had been planned). So J. Michael Straczynski (the show's creator and writer) squeezed the first half of the fifth season's plot into the three penultimate episodes at the end of season four in order to resolve most of the major story arcs, resulting in season four's second half containing nothing but Wham Episodes. Then the show got Uncanceled, season five happened on schedule, and JMS had to scramble to fill the gap in season five's plot by stretching out what was planned as a minor continuing storyline into a half-season-long arc. Pacing Problems result, with most fans agreeing that the first half of season five is the weakest stretch of the entire show.
    • It's worth noting that they filmed the last episode of the fourth season as the series-ending finale, but rather than run it there it was pushed to the actual end of the series.
  • Blake's 7: the third season ends with the destruction of the protagonists' almost-magical spaceship, the Liberator. It also kills off both chief villain Servalan and (off screen) original series lead Blake, leading to hasty resurrections when the show came back. In the 4th season, the actual series finale very strongly suggested the protagonists were all killed, but left a little wiggle room, in case there was a fifth season. (There wasn't.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Most finales, except the second, were intentionally designed to serve as possible series-enders in case the show was unexpectedly canceled. Out of all possible finales, the only one that would be really unsatisfying as The End is season four's Dénouement Episode, which is wall-to-wall cryptic foreshadowing for future episodes in the fifth season ("Be back before Dawn!").
    • Even season two would be an effective Downer Ending, resolving all the main ongoing plotlines and ending with Buffy walking away from her life after being forced to kill Angel.
  • Corner Gas' Season 4 finale "Gopher It", where Hank pitches an idea that takes off, eventually leading to Corner Gas and the Ruby getting bought out by a large chain gas station, Emma being elected mayor, and Lacey leaving Dog River to open up a restaurant in Toronto (among other things). At the end of the episode, it is all revealed to be one giant Imagine Spot by Hank after Brent, Wanda, and Lacey told him to think about his idea before pitching it.
    • That was actually a parody of grand finales. In actuality, the show was a huge hit for CTV throughout its run, and would only have ended if creator, showrunner, and star Brent Butt had wanted it to. He did end it on his own terms two years later, with a much more subdued finale.
  • The last episode of Survival at the end of season 26 of Doctor Who was thought likely to be the last episode ever, so a closing epilogue was added:
    "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace — we’ve got work to do!"
  • Dollhouse has one of these as its DVD-only 13th episode of the first season, jumping ahead a decade or so and showing that the technology showcased has, not unsurprisingly, been used for terrible purposes. The end result? Worldwide apocalypse! Shockingly, the show was not canceled, but the second (and now final) season moved in a direction that indicates that episode is the likely conclusion. This is a Joss Whedon show, so a happy ending was probably never likely anyway.
  • Friday Night Lights: "State", the season one finale, where the Panthers go to the state championship. The third season finale "Tomorrow Blues" also served as this in case the move to Direc Tv didn't work.
  • Strangely, the Volume 4 finale to Heroes feels like one of these. Sylar is seemingly defeated once and for all, and all the Heroes come together to contemplate the future and start "a new beginning". There's just two little hitches in the plan...
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 7 finale, the last on Comedy Central, where Mike and the Bots escape the SOL and Dr. Forrester is transformed into a baby.
  • Word of God says that the episodes of NewsRadio at the end of seasons two, three, and four were made with the expectation that they would be the finale. The actual finale was also made with enough wiggle room in case the show could continue.
  • 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!
  • Northern Exposure: "The Quest", where the show's main character finishes his work in Alaska.
  • Once Upon a Time: "Going Home", where the entire plot of the series is wrapped up completely in a Bittersweet Ending up until a very literal Sequel Hook shows up at the last minute. A strange case of this trope since the makers of the show knew it wasn't going to be the end when making it.
  • Only Fools and Horses: The December 1996 trilogy of Heroes and Villains, Modern Men, and Time On Our Hands were originally intended to be the Grand Finale for the show (the final episode pulling 24.1 million viewers), but another trilogy broadcast between 2001 and 2003 soon came.
  • Power Rangers has had a bunch of these; even if you don't consider the Super Sentai formula was adopted after Season 6, making every season finale a series finale, because of the amount of times it has been Un-Canceled.
    • Due to a lack of understanding and faith in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers for long term survival by the various networks, when it was finally given its chance by Fox it was only meant to last for one season of 40 episodes total, only to be replaced by a more suitable long term show once found. The show's intended series finale would have been the two part episode "Doomsday" in which Rita Repulsa would have been permanently defeated in a similar manner as her counterpart in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. Due to the show's unforeseen popularity however, the ending of "Doomsday" was changed in the last minute to leave open the possibility of future episodes. In addition, new suits and footage were quickly and specially commissioned from Toei by Saban to expand the first season to 60 episodes total, as Saban had only minimal usable footage of Zyuranger left after the first 40 episodes. At the same time Saban also secured the rights to use footage from subsequent Super Sentai shows for future Power Rangers seasons.
    • The finale of Power Rangers in Space, "Countdown to Destruction," was also made to end the series, with almost all the villains of the past and present launching a full-scale conquest of the universe, only for Zordon's death being required for his power to spread through the universe, reducing the overwhelming majority of the villains to dust and purifying a small handful of fan-favorites into non-evil humans.
      • Debatable as an example, they knew they the show was getting another season well before Countdown to Destruction was even scripted due to an upturn in ratings.
    • Wild Force was also meant to serve as the last season for the series, as the plan was for Disney (who'd bought out the series) to end it and put it into syndication. The seasonal content reflected this; in addition to featuring a 10th anniversary special that had every Red Ranger ever return, the two parter finale was tellingly named "The End of the Power Rangers." And then someone convinced Disney to move filming to New Zealand and cut costs by a third.
    • The season finale of Power Rangers RPM was supposed to be the series finale until Saban picked up the rights to the franchise again. It is the finale for Disney's ownership of the show, for better or worse. Its predecessor, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, was also intended to be the last season, but the toy company begged them into one more season - RPM.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O ends on a satisfactory note, but was so popular movies were made to follow it. Then there was "Farewell, Kamen Rider Den-O: The Final Countdown." That sounds like a done deal, right? Nope, then came The Onigashima Warship, and the Super Den-O Trilogy. The name "trilogy" makes the third of those films final-sounding... but then came "OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go, Kamen Rider!" And so, the climax goes on.
  • Prison Break: "Sona", the second season finale.
  • Scrubs was intended at least two years beforehand to end with its eighth season. It almost didn't get an eighth season due to the Writers Strike, but Channel Hopped from NBC to ABC (who owned the show) and ended with a Grand Finale that both poked fun and emulated most series finales... before being picked up for its ninth season, with a mostly new cast.
  • SeaQuest DSV: "An Ocean on Fire", where the titular sub is destroyed.
    • Happened the following season: "Splashdown", where the titular sub is abducted by aliens, brought to an alien planet to save one faction from the genocidal evil faction, realize they're actually working for the evil faction and try to stop the evil faction, have most of the main cast trapped in an underwater facility which they blow up (either being incinerated or drowned), the sub being sunk in combat with a huge hole punched through the ship, and only Lucas (a boy genius), Dagwood (a genetically engineered gentlegiant), and Darwin (a regular dolphin) having escaped. Episode ends with Lucas promising Dagwood they'd somehow find a way back to earth and make sure the seaQuest's fate wasn't forgotten... followed up with the caption "seaQuest DSV will return..."
  • 7th Heaven is a weird case, as they weren't told to wrap it up because they were being canceled—they were intending to end the show after 10 seasons. Then The CW told the writers that they wanted the show around to help with the transitional period after the merger, so make an eleventh season. It didn't quite work out.
    • Well, technically it worked out in that the 11th season did happen. It just wasn't as well-received as the previous seasons.
  • Season 1 of Sledge Hammer! ended with a very large bang, as Inspector Sledge "Trust me, I know what I'm doing" Hammer attempted to disarm a nuke... and failed. When the show got picked up for a second season, the cliffhanger was handwaved away by setting the new episodes "five years earlier", while continuing all ongoing story elements and character development unchanged.
    • More precisely, they explained that the Season 1 finale took place five years later.
  • Stargate SG-1 had four of these throughout its run: the finales of seasons 5, 6, 7 and 8. The first two came when the writers were almost sure the network would end the series, and both ended on cliffhangers that were intended to lead up to a follow-up theatrical movie, which in turn would set up the spinoff series Stargate Atlantis; both times, the series got renewed for a new season after all. For season 7, the planned theatrical movie was reworked into a two-episode Grand Finale that would lead directly into Atlantis — but the series was renewed yet again, resulting in the finale's ending being rewritten so that Atlantis would be set in a different galaxy (to limit crossovers, as it was going to be contemporary with SG-1 rather than replacing it). The fourth and final Series Fauxnale was a full-blown multi-part Grand Finale that ended with an epic battle, the defeat of every major antagonist in the series, and the resolution of 8 years worth of character threads and plotlines. In fact, it wrapped things up so completely that the next season necessitated a complete Retool of the show. Ironically, when the series was actually cancelled after season 10 the writers were expecting an extra year, so they weren't able to make a proper Grand Finale — instead, the series ended with most major storylines unresolved, and the planned arc for season 11 was reworked into a direct-to-DVD movie follow-up Stargate: The Ark of Truth.
  • The seventh season of Charmed ended with the gals forsaking magic and assuming new identities, due to the possibility that the show might not be renewed.
    • Before that, way back in season 1 the episode "Wicca Envy" was meant to act as the finale should the show not get renewed for more episodes. It features the closure of the Rex/Hannah story arc and features a nice uplifting ending where the sisters proclaim themselves "witches for life".
  • The first 13 episodes of How I Met Your Mother ended with "Drumroll Please" in which Victoria would be the mother. When more episodes were ordered, Victoria was Retconned into being just another of Ted's girlfriends. Similarly the last episode of season 3 was created with the idea that Stella would be the mother if the show didn't get renewed.
  • Episode 13 of the first season of 24, written when the producers were unsure they'd be coming back for another half-day, has Jack rescuing his wife and daughter, and has all the hallmarks of a climactic happy ending. Only the addition of a couple of scenes, revealing a new threat, were necessary for the show to keep on going. This led to one of the hallmarks of the series: invariably, the problem that started the arc of the season (and the villains behind it) always turned out to be Disc One Final Boss material as either the real plan was helped by the heroes efforts, or the bad guys adjust their strategy and plan B is even worse than plan A. Whatever the season was advertised as being about is long-forgotten old news by episode 15.
    • Season 6 definitely had a finale vibe. We were introduced to the rest of Jack's extended family, Chloe is pregnant and Bill & Karen are allowed to resign without being prosecuted.
  • The Movie of The X-Files was meant to be the ending of the show, then Fox decided to hang onto their cash cow a while longer. The film's third act shows definite signs of being hastily rewritten to leave things open enough for the series to continue (Cigarette Smoking Man showing up in Antarctica and then leaving without actually doing anything being the most obvious).
    • Word of God says that "Requiem," the last episode of season seven, was written to serve as a series finale if they didn't get picked up again. Some X-Philes actually use it that way.
  • Police, Camera, Action! has had this trope. Not once, not twice, but... 'four times'. Is this a record?
  • The intended finale of Citizen Smith got turned into a Fauxnale due to Executive Meddling. Originally, the series was going to end with Wolfie Smith being chased out of Tooting by an irate local gangster. The BBC decided that they didn't want the series to have a Downer Ending though, and so they took an episode that was originally intended for the middle of the final season and repurposed it as a Christmas Special, implying that the whole mess seen in the finale blew over and Smith's life went back to normal.
  • The fifth season of The A-Team was already a Postscript Season, then after the supposed Grand Finale, "The Gray Team", they made one more episode, "Without Reservations".
    • "Without Reservations" was intended to be the next-to-last episode (as indicated by Murdock's "Almost Fini" T-shirt), but got lost until the show went into reruns.
  • The fifth season of Supernatural is a pretty good example, if you ignore the cliffhanger at the very end. The story that had been building for the past 5 seasons had finally been resolved, the Big Bad was defeated, Kripke stopped writing the show, and it could have all been over. Except it wasn't...
    • There was also the second season finale, which saw the Winchester brothers finally defeat the enemy they'd been pursuing since the first episode, as due to the series not quite yet being one of the iconic shows on the CW and renewal had yet to be confirmed, which is one reason that plotline was wrapped up so in case the show didn't return it at least would have an acceptable ending. Although there was a slight cliffhanger with Dean selling his soul and only having a year to live, it wasn't as in your face about it as most other cliffhangers, having more of a "just business as usual" feeling rather than a big Oh Crap moment like the others.
  • The Season 1 finale of Dead Like Me was filmed as an adequate ending to the series, with George finally accepting her life as a Reaper and her family reconciling with her death, but the series ultimately got one more season.
  • While the seventh-season episode of The Office (US), "Goodbye, Michael", is not technically an instance of this trope (as the show was always intended to continue past the departure of Steve Carrell's Michael Scott), it certainly feels like it could have brought a serviceable end to the series. Interestingly, for such a major change in the show's history, "Goodbye, Michael" wasn't even the season finale, there was still three more episodes left.
  • One Tree Hill had many of these:
    • First, with the gang graduating high school and then Lucas and Peyton driving away with their baby.
    • Then at the end of season 7, the cast is shown playing on a snowy hill, and the parting shot was to have been all of them walking up the hill. When a renewal was assured, a cliffhanger scene was tacked on after that.
    • The final scene in Season 8 recreates the first scene of the series, with Jamie replacing Lucas as he dribbles a basketball across the bridge.
  • Miami Vice features a very interesting example of this. The show, which premiered in 1985, faced dismal ratings when it aired and was in danger of being canceled. To that end, the producers Retooled the series with a two-part episode that also served as a finale if the show was canned. The 2-parter, "Calderone's Return", killed off Crockett and Tubbs' commanding officer, resolved Crockett's relationship with his ex-wife Caroline and completed Tubbs' quest for vengeance against the man who killed his brother...then the series was renewed for a second season, and the show continued.
  • This happened to Due South - twice. The second-season finale, "Flashback", is a clip show that was intended to be the final episode (finishing with a "journey continues" ending) after it was cancelled by CBS...then it was picked up by CTV Television and resumed in Canada. The third-season finale, "Mountie On The Bounty," ended with Fraser choosing to stay on with the Chicago Consulate and had a definite finality to it...and then the show was renewed again for a fourth and final season.
    • Though whether MotB is a finale or not depends on your region-some areas air the third and fourth seasons as a single season.
    • The second part of "Victoria's Secret" was intended to be a series finale, since it wasn't known if the show would return after the first season. When it was renewed, "Letting Go" was filmed to give the storyline a happy ending.
  • The third-season finale of The Mentalist would have been the big finish if they hadn't been renewed, given that it ended with Jane finally killing Red John. Then season four happened after all, and the first episode hastily re-establishes the status quo by revealing it wasn't him after all, and letting Jane off with the murder.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth, the third series of Torchwood was written with the possibility of it being the final series in mind, as the BBC seemed very unlikely to renew it for a fourth series, despite higher than ever viewership. So to make it conclusive, Ianto is Killed Off for Real, Torchwood as we know it is wiped from the records, and Jack leaves Earth forever, too plagued by the guilt of his grandson's murder to stay. Oh, and Gwen is pregnant. However, the series was picked up by Starz and BBC Worldwide, and a fourth series, Torchwood: Miracle Day was aired two years later.
  • Little House on the Prairie wraps up things at the end of season four. Mary comes to terms with her blindness and the entire citizenship of the now financially crippled town of Walnut Grove gather at the church one last time to say goodbye. The show was then picked up for a fifth season.
  • CSI: New York did this in its seventh season with 'Exit Strategy', which had Mac leave the NY crime lab to work on identifying the remains of 9/11 victims. It turned into a 10-Minute Retirement, and he came back in season 8. In season 8's finale, Mac was shot by a drug store robber and spent the episode in a Near Death Experience, in another finale. The show will be back for awas renewed for a 9th season, which ends up being the last.
  • Not explicitly, but the season 4 finale of Breaking Bad was written to invoke a feeling of And the Adventure Continues, since Vince Gilligan was not sure about a 5th season due to struggles between AMC and Sony.
  • The writers of Glee weren't sure the show was going to be picked up for a full first season. The 13th episode (which was as many as they had confirmed at first) was specifically written to be decent enough series finale if they got cancelled. (Glee club won their competition and the major plots of the first 13 were adequately wrapped up) However, the show ended up being a hit and got picked up for at least three seasons before the first season was finished.
  • Saturday Night Live has several:
    • The last episode of season five hosted by Buck Henry with musical guests Andrew Gold, Andrae Crouch, and Voices of Unity. It even ended with the remnants of the original "Not Ready for Primetime" cast running out of the studio as the "ON AIR" light flashed off for (what seemed like it would be) the final time.
    • ...Then along came NBC's decision to continue the show, which, at first with Jean Doumanian and her cast (save for Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo), was a bad idea. The last Doumanian-produced episode hosted by Bill Murray was also written as the last one...until Dick Ebersol stepped in as Doumanian's replacement.
    • The last episode of season 11 (hosted by Anjelica Houston and Billy Martin with musical guest George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic) was written as the series finale as well, due to the low ratings and terrible reviews the show had gotten during the season. The final scene had everyone in the cast (except for Jon Lovitz) locked in a room that Lorne had set on fire. When the show was given a second chance at life, the final scene (and everything about season 11) was written off as All Just a Dream ("...a horrible, horrible dream").
    • The last episode of season 20 (hosted by David Duchovny), much like season 11, was also a series fauxnale that had a large majority of cast members killed off (as seen in the "Beastman" cold opening and the last sketch where the popular male cast members all throw themselves in a polar bear cage exhibit at the zoo).
  • Wizards of Waverly Place wrapped up nicely with an hour-long last episode in which Justin wins the Wizard Competition but decides to hand the baton to Alex. Then comes the second movie in 2013.
  • Parks and Recreation, according to co-creator Mike Schur, has done this several times, due to the show's shaky ratings. The showrunners were worried that, since Parks was a midseason replacement in season 3, that it would be cancelled soon after. So they wrote the season 3 finale, "Lil Sebastian", as a possible series finale. The season 4 finale, "Win, Lose or Draw" was also written as a respectable finale (with Leslie winning the city council election). The season 5 episode "Leslie and Ben" was also written as a series finale because it was the last episode of the front 13 produced.
    • A unique case with the Season 6 episode "Moving Up" with Leslie accepting a new job with the National Parks Department, the Unity Concert, and a 3 year time skip. The show had already been renewed but the storylines of Season 6 were well in place pre-renewal. So they just went with it and it's looking as though Season 7 will be a Post Script Season
  • Wheel of Fortune: Happened twice in the summer of 1980, as Fred Silverman was desperately trying to retool his daytime schedule to get rid of all game shows. The first time, a mock-up schedule scrubbed Wheel in favor of a 90-minute (and, some claim two hour) daytime talkfest hosted by David Letterman. Although Silverman was prepared to give Chuck Woolery time to say goodbye for the June 20, 1980 program, Wheel ultimately was spared, but almost wasn't as lucky later in the summer when Silverman ordered an hour-long version of Another World and a new soap opera called Texas. In this latter case, a finale was ordered for August 1, 1980, with host Chuck Woolery inviting then-wife Jo Ann Pflug onstage to thank the viewers for "5-1/2 wonderful years," and kissing both her and hostess Susan Stafford on the lips after Stafford said her farewells. The show was completed sometime in early July 1980 ... but then NBC decided instead to trim Letterman's struggling show to 60 minutes, meaning Wheel again was spared. That meant a hastily edited program airing on Friday, August 1, editing out Woolery's farewell speech (although an extended full-length closing credits was still shown); on the following Monday, Woolery laughedly explains why they were back so soon.
  • The finales to seasons 1 and 3 of The Wire were written as potential series finales, wrapping up all existing plot threads and concluding with a distinct air of finality, because in both instances the creators didn't know whether the series would be renewed for additional seasons.

    Toys 
  • LEGO Ninjago was originally intended to end in the first half of 2013, with the sets' boxes even being labeled as "The Final Battle", not to mention that the storyline in the TV series was also wrapped up with a series finale depicting the events of said Final Battle. And then? LEGO releases this teaser image.
  • BIONICLE originally ended in 2010 with only 6 half-scale figures and a blatantly rushed finale to the comic with Mata Nui destroying Makuta Teridax and creating a new home for his people, so the series could be replaced with the more kid-centric Hero Factory. The latter largely proved to be a failure, so Bionicle is slated to return in 2015.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 conveniently wraps up all the plot threads and cliffhangers from previous Metal Gear titles, leaving little room for further sequels... which is why the installment that follows it, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, is another prequel like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
    • This one is more complicated than that. MGS4 wasn't supposed to be a final end to all things Metal Gear. What it is meant to close off is the story of Solid Snake. Interquels continue to be released, including Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain which detail Big Boss's activities in the years between MGS3 and the original Metal Gear.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, originally intended to be an interquel set between the events of Sons of Liberty and Guns of the Patriots, ended up being rewritten as a sequel to the latter. Solid Snake is not featured, so Guns of the Patriots remains the Grand Finale for him as intended.
  • The Professor Layton series was initially planned to be a trilogy (and was announced in Japan as such), which is why Professor Layton and the Unwound Future wrapped everything up. But neither the fans nor the staff wanted the series to stop at three games, and Level-5 continued the series by announcing a trilogy of prequels (similar to Star Wars minus the giant gap in release dates).
  • The classic Mega Man games were evidently intended to wrap up with Mega Man 6; the title screen and Wily stage themes having a somber "beginning of the end" feel, the final boss theme has an urgent "our final battle" feel, and after the final boss Mega Man arrests Wily. Mega Man 7 came along and opens with Wily escaping from prison, then 8 came along and became another Series Fauxnale before 9. Mega Man 10's ending seems to serve as the real finale... for the moment.
  • The endings of both the second and third Sly Cooper games were designed so the series could feasibly end there. Then came Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time in 2013.
  • Kingdom Hearts II was made, according to Word of God, to serve as a potential Grand Finale, with nearly all lose ends from Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories wrapped up. But it ended up being a huge success, and of course Disney and Square aren't going to let a money-maker like that go.
  • Halo 3 was meant to be the conclusion to the series. It was even marketed with the tagline, "Finish the Fight". But seeing as how Halo is Microsoft's main series, they couldn't stop making Halo games, so they made some spin-offs, and then a direct sequel to 3. To be fair, it does deal with a different fight.
  • Travellers Tales wanted to end Crash Bandicoot with The Wrath of Cortex, which mentioned that it would be the game where Crash defeats Cortex for good and seemingly makes good on its promise in the real ending where Cortex and Uka Uka are banished to the arctic. Vicarious Visions then got hold of the series, releasing Crash Nitro Kart, The Huge Adventure and N-Tranced, which are set in VV's own timeline and ignore the ending of Wrath of Cortex, before TT continued the series from the latter with Crash Twinsanity, which is set 3 years after Wrath and starts with Cortex escaping his banishment.

    Web Original 
  • Episode 100 of Red vs. Blue (notable for having multiple endings thanks to the magic of the internet) wrapped up the five seasons of the Blood Gulch Chronicles and could easily have ended the series. The Recollection trilogy (seasons 6-8) and the Freelancer Saga (seasons 9-10) continue this pattern.
  • The Spoony Experiment nearly ended with the Final Fantasy VIII series. Noah was having camera issues, and was about to move out of his parents' house, and didn't know whether or not he'd be able to pick up where he left off so he killed off :"The Spoony One" leaving in a Sequel Hook by a Linkara cameo.
  • To Boldly Flee was intended to be the end of The Nostalgia Critic, as Doug Walker felt he had exhausted any new ideas for the character. However, in "The Review Must Go On", it was announced that the Critic would be coming back due to Doug coming up with more ideas to do with the character. The show also underwent a slight Re Tool to aid in relieving production stress; reviews were scaled back from weekly to bi-weekly, with editorials from the Critic filling the gaps. note 
  • Ultra Fast Pony's season one finale, "The Longest Episode", plays out like an ending for the entire series. It ends with an oddly sincere Friendship Moment between the main cast, and is followed by a text "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. Then the end credits are extended, with the series creator Wacarb thanking everyone who's helped or inspired him. However, in his notes on the video, Wacarb states that he fully intends to continue with a season two. Sure enough, the second season followed, a few months later.
  • Video Game Legends was supposed to end in January 2014 with its 14th episode. There was even an in-episode montage of the series up to that point. Cue 'Reunion' not even five months later.

    Western Animation 
  • The original run of Rugrats ended with an episode where Angelica was moving away, and Tommy told the others he would miss her. When the others asked for clarification, Tommy explained how it was Angelica who made them all friends, complete with a flashback origin story. It turned out Angelica didn't have to move, but it ended up in one of her purest Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, and because of that the series later got renewed.
  • The original final episode of The Legend of Korra - "Endgame" - has become one of these. When the series was written Nick had only commissioned one season as a Sequel Series to their very popular Avatar: The Last Airbender. As such it wrapped up all the major plot points: Amon's true identity is revealed and he is defeated, Korra loses the ability to waterbend, firebend, and earthbend but finally manages to airbend, The spirits of past Avatars give her the ability to earthbend and firebend and waterbend again, she enters the Avatar State for the first time, the love triangles are resolved by Korra and Mako getting together, and Korra learns how to restore lost bending ablilties thus potentially ending the short-lived series. However, it's popularity meant that Nick commissioned another 3 seasons.
    • The finale episode of the second season, "Light in the Darkness", has become another example of this trope, as it was made before Nick commissioned the following 2 seasons. As such, we learn the origin of the Avatar, which ties in to the present threat, which bonds with a human host to create a DARK Avatar that DESTROYS the Avatar spirit and breaks the whole cycle. Korra's own human spirit then has an epic battle with the Dark Avatar, destroying him and reclaiming her Avatar spirit, but now being the first Avatar in a new cycle. She then decides to keep the portals to the Spirit World open, changing the Avatar's role in the world and ushering in a new age. It feels very conclusive to the series and the Avatar franchise as a whole, but it was not to be.
  • Justice League had two: "Starcrossed", which is the Grand Finale made before the decisions to change it into Justice League Unlimited, and "Epilogue'', expected to be the last episode of the DCAU, before another season was ordered.
    • It should be mentioned that every Justice League and Justice League Unlimited season ended with a multi-part blowout that would serve as a finale in case they didn't get picked up again. The reason for this is because the previous DCAU series (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Superman: The Animated Series) never got any major pay-offs due to being dropped unexpectedly. When the creators got to do Justice League, they decided to always end each season with a bang, just in case there weren't anymore. That said, Epilogue was the most final of these finales, and it went on one more season after that.
      • In addition, Epilogue, even if not the last episode of the DCAU to air, is indeed the chronological end to the DCAU as we know it.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants: Despite the blatant Negative Continuity the show has, the creator made it clear that no matter how long the show goes for, the movie will always be the series finale canon-wise, no matter how little sense it may make due to material in any given post-movie episodes... but then the series carried on due to Executive Meddling, so either the movie wasn't canon, or it was a case of They Just Didn't Care. (And if that was not enough, Word of God says that there's a sequel coming out sometime this year, and it may indicate that the first movie may or may not be canon, or a potential finale, with said movie being another potential one.)
    • SpongeBob's Last Stand was thought to be the Grand Finale, with The Bad Guy Wins very nearly happening (Plankton has successfully driven away business from the Krusty Krab, and Mr. Krabs was ready to hand over the Krabby Patty Secret Formula...until a bunch a jellyfish cut negoations short by stopping that from happening by going on a rampage, making it a Didn't Think This Through moment for Plankton).
  • Teen Titans: The three-part finale of the fourth season, meaningfully titled "The End"...which came before the show was renewed for a fifth and final season...with the Grand Finale ending with No Ending, leaving plotholes left unfilled...and then Teen Titans Go! premiered in 2013, in which everything got Denser and Wackier from there.
  • Dexter's Laboratory, the show so nice it did it twice! First was the Season 2 closer, "Last But Not Beast", a crossover where Dexter and his family, Monkey, and the Justice Friends battle a Kaiju. Genndy Tartakovsky didn't think this episode was a satisfying conclusion so he made an hour-long TV movie, "Ego Trip", where Dexter teams up with versions of himself from other time periods. Three years later, Cartoon Network noticed the amazing ratings even the reruns were pulling down and produced two more seasons without Tartakovsky's involvement.
  • Kim Possible: The Made-for-TV Movie So the Drama was expected to be the end of the show, complete with Last Minute Hookup. Then they got another season.
    • Oddly enough, though, So the Drama debuted while there were still five unaired episodes (including one Two Shorts episode) that nominally took place before it, and one of those episodes didn't even air until over a year after So the Drama, by which time the Postscript Season was in the works.
  • Futurama has had two of these. "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings" rather sweetly concluded the fourth season, and it was canceled for several years...until the straight-to-DVD movies, culminating in the real finale, Into the Wild Green Yonder, which ended with all of the major characters flying into a wormhole, not knowing where in the universe it would bring them, but admitting it didn't matter if they never found their way back to Earth, as long as they had each other. Then the show was completely Uncanceled, and it was revealed that the wormhole led straight to Earth.
    • In fact, season 6's "Overclockwise" was a third series finale. They say they wrote it in case Comedy Central didn't pick up any more seasons (indeed, they picked up two more seasons, with the option of more). Though if anything can end three times and still come back, it's Futurama.
      • And now, we have "Meanwhile" as yet another potential finale. While it does feel that the show is over (Fry and Leela finally get married and live life as a married couple before the Professor presses the reset button, erasing everything that has ever happened), there are rumors that Matt Groening is going to revive the show once again (or, at the very least, put out a made-for-DVD movie, concluding the series once and for all) and an upcoming Simpsons episode will have a Futurama crossover.
  • According to Bob Forward, the writing staff of Beast Wars didn't know if they were going to get a second season... So at the end of the first, there was a Detonation Moon, Optimus Primal "died", and the Predacons soon would outnumber the heroic Maximals by a game changing margin. A similar thing happened at the end of the second season, which ends with Megatron causing the fabric of time itself to start unraveling. In both cases, this was meant to imply that if there wasn't another season, it meant the world had ended. Of course, over the course of season 2 it was revealed that they were on Earth All Along, and if either Bad Ending was completed it would have meant both the end of the Beast Wars and the Ret Gone obliteration of all of Transformers Generation 1, so it's a good thing that didn't happen.
  • The Season 4 finale of Ed, Edd n Eddy, "Take This Ed and Shove It", said that the entire series was all just memories being remembered by Eddy in his old age. Season 5 then came along and retconned this, also having its own Fauxnale titled "A Fistful of Ed".
    • Another one almost happened for Ed, Edd, N Eddy before then. Believing that the they may not get another season, the crew wrote up a series finale known as "All's Ed That Ends Ed". It was written specifically to act as the series finale, revolving around the Eds and the rest of the kids trying to stop the Cul-De-Sac from being demolished for a construction project. It ends up tying up every single plot idea in the series.
  • The Fairly Oddparents did this at least twice: the TV movie Abra-Catastrophe, and the 1-hour special Fairy Idol.
    • Many also think that Wishology may have been intended as a series finale. It certainly has a "finale" like feel to it, especially if you read the original script drafts. However, it was renewed for two more seasons, so it's definitely not a finale. Whether or not it was intended as one is still an open question.
    • Any of the TV movies would have worked as a finale. The final "Jimmy Timmy Power Hour" was supposed to be the finale but they keep getting renewed.
    • Then came the live-action movie, Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, which serves as the finale to the series. Even though they made some more episodes after the movie aired, it still potentially serves as the series' conclusion, and completely retcons the ending to Channel Chasers (Mainly because (among a couple other things) Negative Continuity suggests that Timmy's held back in the 5th grade).
      • T.U.F.F. Puppy has the episode segment "Mom-A-Geddon" which was at first to be written to be the Grand Finale despite being five episodes in the series (Granted that if it were then the alternative ending would have shown that Dudley having his license to serve being revoked, and gotten in big trouble with his mother for not telling the truth.).
  • King of the Hill had the episode "Lucky's Wedding Suit," in which Lucky and Luanne got married (and, in a shining example of Continuity Porn, many single-episode characters showed up). The show was later renewed for three more seasons (with the final episode being "To Sirloin with Love" where Hank finally discovers that Bobby has a talent that doesn't embarrass himnote  and the series ends with everyone gathering for a small, neighborhood barbecue...and then there were the four Missing Episodes only viewable on syndication, with "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day"note  as the final broadcast episode).
  • The Powerpuff Girls originally ended with a Musical Episode, "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey" in which the girls make a deal with a reality-altering gnome to rid Townsville of the villains plaguing it in exchange for their powers. Realizing that evil still lurks in Townsville in the form of a cult formed by Gnomey, and that evil will always exist as long as there is good, the deal is broken and they go to stop him. The episode ended up being banned for unclear reasons: Some say it's the alleged Communist undertones, while most place the blame on the strobe lighting effects that would have caused epileptic seizures in sensitive viewers (much like the Pokemon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon.") The episode is available for viewing on the complete series DVD set and is also available as a digital download where available (If you're willing to pay money that is). It's even more ironic since it's a season 5 episode.
  • Episode 13 of the 1990s X-Men cartoon, "The Final Decision", has a number of arcs cleanly tied up in case the series wasn't renewed: The Sentinels are defeated, Beast is released from prison, Senator Kelly stops his anti-mutant rhetoric, Magneto and Xavier form a truce, Rogue and Gambit share an Indirect Kiss, and Cyclops asks Jean to marry him. It ends with a clearly-tacked-on voice-over by Mr. Sinister (and it sounds nothing like the actor who eventually played Mr. Sinister! It was all very quick-and-dirty.) to set up the next season's arc.
    • There was also "Beyond Good and Evil", written to be the finale. It was a massively massive four-parter where damn near everybody takes part in an epic that crosses time and space, from ancient Egypt to the present to Bishop's future to Cable's future and Deathbird (who was standing in the background when Fabian Cortez met Apocalypse back in "Sanctuary;" you knew there was something to that!) shows up. In the end, Apocalypse appears to be defeated once and for all. And they get renewed. The actual finale was more quiet and emotional than either of the blockbuster epic finales: Professor X is dying, and we get some Tear Jerker moments, character exploration, and one fight that ends when Magneto is told he can help save Xavier's life. As it ends with Xavier leaving for intensive care in the Shi'ar galaxy, with those he taught as the caretakers of his dream, it is named "Graduation Day."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had a shorter Season 3 that would have officially made it a 65-Episode Cartoon. The finale of Season 3 is a Musical Episode that changes the status quo when main character Twilight Sparkle authors her own magic, Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence, and returns as an alicorn princess. More hints of a fourth season appeared in the weeks before the finale, and the day before it aired, one of the writers stated that she considered it the first in a three-episode arc.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force played with this by naming one Season Finale "Last Last One Forever and Ever" and ending it with the titular trio moving away, with Carl poignantly saying, "Truly, they were an Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Then it was revealed that the producers were already planning new episodes, and the next aired episode revealed that the Aqua Teens moved into the other house next to Carl's. At the end of the episode, the Rabbot from the first episode returns and destroys the house. The Aqua Teens fully expect a Snap Back, but it doesn't happen, so they go back to their old house.
  • The third season (2010) of The Boondocks ended with Huey foiling a fake terrorist attack, and Granddad stating that it might be time to move. That was it until the fourth season began airing....in 2014.
  • ReBoot ended its third season assuming that there wouldn't be a fourth season. Aside from the Daemon story started in season 3 everything was wrapped up nicely. However, the fourth season ended up being the last one...with a massive Cliffhanger ending that was supposed to lead straight into season five.
  • Although there aren't many loose ends to tie up, each Robot Chicken season finale involves the show being canceled, should life imitate art. Given the show's high ratings leading to things like two-season orders, at this point it's purely a Running Gag (With the 100th episode being an exception).
  • Johnny Test did this with the finale episode "JX5: The Final Ending". It actually did serve as the finale for a few years...until the show was renewed in 2010.
  • American Dad!'s infamous Season 7 opener, "Hot Water", was written to be aired as a finale when the writers weren't certain Fox would renew the show. When it was announced that American Dad would continue, the episode was turned into a season premiere that was wildly non-canon and meant to be a special stand-alone episode.
    • Similarly, Family Guy's "Meet the Quagmires" (where Peter travels back to the 1980s, kisses Molly Ringwald, and goes back to a reality where Lois is married to Quagmire and Peter is married to Molly Ringwald) and later, the 100th episode "Stewie Kills Lois/Lois Kills Stewie." (That explains why the episode ends with a mid-sentence cut-to-black parody of The Sopranos series finale, just be glad that you don't hear Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" playing in the background.)
  • The first Winx Club movie was clearly intended to be a proper ending to the series with Bloom finally finding her real parents (after three whole seasons of searching for them), and Sky asking her to marry him, but then we're given a Sequel Hook in which the Trix are possessed by the ancestral witches...and a desire for revenge. Afterwards, the fourth season premiered in Italy...
  • A rather Genre Savvy example: the season one finale of Phineas and Ferb titled "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted" was actually made halfway through the first season; that way the producers had a final episode that they could neatly wrap up the series with all ready to air, in the event that the Disney Channel didn't renew the show for a second season or ended up cancelling it prematurely.
    • It probably helped that both of the show's creators had worked in television animation since the early 1990s (one of them was actually a director for Family Guy at the time of that show's premature cancellation), so both of them had enough foresight to anticipate something like that happening.
  • South Park had one in its 15th season. The episode "You're Getting Old," which aired shortly after the dispute over Comedy Central censoring the Season 14 DVD, seemingly wrapped up several series-long storylines, notably Stan, the normally happy and sensible one, falling into depression, Sharon finally divorcing Randy after years of putting up with his nonsense, and lifelong rivals Cartman and Kyle finally getting along. To increase the impact, the song "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks played over the episode's final montage showcasing these changes. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook erupted immediately following the episode's broadcast, with many speculating that the episode was a surprise series finale. Four months later, however, the season resumed with another episode that brought everything back to normal (complete with a parody of the "Landslide" sequence), and the series is still going strong.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot was supposed to end with the main protagonist defeating the Big Bad for good in the hour-long movie "Escape from Cluster Prime" before the lost fourth season came along.
  • The fifth season of Totally Spies! ended with the spies leaving WOOHP and saying their goodbyes to Jerry. This was later followed by the Spin-Off The Amazing Spiez, in which they made occasional cameos, and a proper resurrection of the main series in 2013.
  • The Grojband episode "Six Strings of Evil". Trina breaks Corey's Guitar, Corey buys a new one which turns out to be evil, and it all culminates with the destruction of the dam and the city of Peaceville itself, cue the very lengthy mid-season hiatus in the US and Canada, which is taking even longer in the US, compared to the gap between episodes 41 and 42 of Schlag den Raab (understandable, as both season 8 of said show, and the series premiere both fall under the same year as each other, albeit in different countries), and it getting Screwed by the Network.
    • Nearly a year later the series returned on the network, albeit online rather than being on the air, but regardless, casual viewers would probably think of "Metrognome", as not only does it end with Corey and Laney accidentally kissing each other, but also the song played in the episode shows is a tribute to the what the band accomplishes so far with highlights from previous episode and judging on the look on Corey's face after the kiss, this is most likely when he develops feelings for Laney.
    • And there's "Hear Us Rock!", which ends with every member of Grojband saying "Thanks for coming out everyone!"
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has the aptly titled episode "The Finale", which deconsructed the series Negative Continuity and revealed that the Wattersons' past actions had long term consequences. The episode definitely has the feel of a series finale, but the show was renewed for another season. Just as well, anyway, considering the episode ends with the Wattersons' implied death at the hands of just about the whole populace of Elmore, which has finally had enough.
    • Considering the entire episode is based around the fact that their circumstances have always reset after their past antics and, at the end, Gumball is hoping out loud that a magic device will reset everything when he's interrupted right at the end of his sentence by the episode suddenly ending, the implication was that they'll be fine yet again and just keep causing problems for the foreseeable future.
    • Worth noting that the third season renewal actually happened a full year before the second season finale aired, so it's hard to say if "The Finale" would have ended that way were it truly meant to be the final episode.
  • Dan Vs. was cancelled (or at least put on indefinite hiatus) after the third season. It seems likely that the showrunners had some inkling of the impending cancellation, because the last two episodes seem to be deliberately written with enough closure to serve as a good finale, but just enough open-endedness to leave room for future seasons. Specifically, the penultimate episode has Chris, Elise, and Elise's parents finally reconcile (somewhat) and air the secrets they'd been hiding from each other since the first season. Of course, a Reset Button Ending happens shortly afterwards, but the characters remember just enough of the first time loop to make the second loop play out differently—though it's left to the viewers' imaginations just how differently it plays out. Then the final episode is a flashback to When It All Began, specifically how Dan and Chris first met, and how Dan pulled off his first revenge scheme.

Serial Killings, Specific TargetInfauxmation DeskShrouded in Myth
Sequel EpisodeEpisodesVery Special Episode
Senseless ViolinsJust for PunSerkis Folk

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