An Ending Trope
when the closing of the show reveals that the villain, monster or other major threat is still out there, creating doubt as to whether or not the heroes have achieved a final victory.
This is usually a type of Sequel Hook
, and often done as The Stinger
. See also Eye Awaken
, Finger Twitching Revival
, and Not Quite Dead
Compare Or Was It a Dream?
, Real After All
, and Schrödinger's Butterfly
Since this is an ending trope, there will be lots of spoilers.
Or will there? Yes, there will.
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Anime and Manga
- The ending of Noir: Sure, Mirielle and Kirika walk off all happy and everything, but... WHAT THE HELL WERE THOSE GUNSHOTS ALL ABOUT?
- Monster. The last thing shown is Johan's hospital bed. Johan — who was presumably in a coma — isn't in it.
- The ending of the manga Oldboy strongly implies that there are still unresolved plot issues.
- Code Geass — The VERY LAST SCENE. Lelouch is dead, right? Who knows! It depends on what the audience makes of the scene and the existing pieces of Word of God. There's a Really Dead Montage, and the writer says he is, but the director's ambivalent attitude towards whether the ending is supposed to be "happy" or not appears to be a case of Shrug of God. The fans are, generally speaking, split in half over the issue.
- Sometimes, even the titular teacher in Hell Teacher Nube is unable to put a permanent end to the Monster of the Week — the best he can do is save his students from the threat, or it escapes before he can exorcise it. The series balances this out with frequent Aesops about not trusting that mysterious salesman with the shifty grin, or not talking to strangers (especially if they look suspicious or appear out of nowhere in the middle of the night,) or staying the hell away from the masked killer with the Sinister Scythe.
- Shaman King. At the end of Kang Zeng Bang, we see Hao still alive and well and doing what he likes. Also followed up in Shaman King: Flowers when Hana, Yoh and Anna's son, is confronted by Hao.
- Dragon Crisis! invokes and lampshades this trope to the T in the episode with the cursed painting - it basically mashed up all of the classic Slasher Movie tropes and played them like a violin. At the end, when everyone has escaped from the painting, and it's been safely sealed, Eriko mentions that if this was a Horror Movie... cut to a burned-out hole in the back of the painting, and the slasher's shadow appearing in the bathroom mirror to write his favorite word on it in red. Of course, it's never brought up again.
- In the Groo The Wanderer story "The Aranja", Groo and Chakaal are hired to kill a giant spider that is terrorizing a village. Stumbling drunkenly around the spider's cave, Groo notices something he figures is important and tries to tell Chakaal, who is unfortunately too busy to listen. Soon after, Groo has forgotten the whole thing. As the heroes depart at the end of the story, the readers are shown what Groo discovered: The aranja was a female, and it had laid several eggs, which are just starting to hatch...
- Watchmen closes on a shot of Rorschach's journal in the office of the New Frontiersman, implying that there's a possibility Veidt's plan may be revealed to the world, undoing the fragile peace that has been worked together in the aftermath of what everyone assumes is an attack from an Eldritch Abomination. A rare example of where a sequel was not planned, although given the nature of the comics industry lately, it's possible one may be made eventually anyway despite Moore's wishes.
- AtomicRobo Volume 6: Ghosts of Station X ends with a shot of Alan's house. On his island, the "camera" zooms in on a small plant on the side of the house. It's covered in circuitry, Implying ALAN is not dead after all, or his plan is not finished.
- In the Total Drama story, Courtney and the Violin of Despair, the story's closing note of uncertainty is a nod to the sci-fi classics of the 1950s, which tended to leave an opening for a sequel when there were, in fact, no plans for a sequel.
- Attack Of The Teacher Creature has the titular monster being unmasked as a human. However, some of the abilities from what they'd seen before don't match up, and Chapter 7 ends with a dark shadow lurking off somewhere else. Sure enough, in Trouble Island the heroes face off against a bunch of real Creatures.
- From the Alien series:
- Alien leaves open the possibility that the cat that Ripley takes along with her as she flees the soon-to-be-nuked ship has been infected. This is, of course, proven untrue in the second film, and quickly takes a back seat to the fact that the title monster stowed away on Ripley's escape pod. There was also an original Twist Ending planned: the Xenomorph bites Ripley's head off, then records a message in her voice, and relaxes, waiting to get picked up.
- After the credits of Aliens there is silence and a dark screen. Then the organic squelch of an egg opening can be heard...
- The last shot in the remake of Ocean's Eleven shows Ocean, free from jail and reunited with his girl, driving past the camera and seemingly off into the sunset, but after a fairly long delay, we are passed by another car which seems to be following them, driven by two mooks of the Big Bad.
- Actually, if you listen to the dialogue between Danny and Rusty as they approach the car, it is implied that they already know they're being followed and will lose their tail shortly afterwards. At least until the Ocean's 12.
- Occurs at the end of the film Space Mutiny, notable only because of the commentary when it became an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. A slow, meandering shot of the villainous Kalgan's body, and...:
: And His Eyes Open
his eyes open. Mike
: His eyes open. Servo
: Eyes open. Crow
: Eyes open. Mike
: His EYES open. Crow
: Come ON! Servo
Crow: Now, wait a minute... how did she turn into a bat? The only contact she had with him was in the hotel and...
Crow: OH MY GOD! I get the shower first!
Tom: No, me first!
- The Blood Waters of Dr. Z also had a similar ending, with the woman he tried to turn into a fish monster following the escaping monster into the sea.
- Yet another notable Mystery Science Theater 3000 example: the film Danger: Diabolik It ends with the titular Heroic Comedic Sociopath encased in gold and his love interest being carted off to jail. Diabolik manages to sneak a wink at his girlfriend to show her that he's still alive and she shoots him a knowing look back as she's being led away, thus implying that she'll do something to rescue him. The film doesn't elaborate what though, and the ending shot with Diabolik's laughter filling the cave despite him being in what is most certainly a hopeless Fate Worse Than Death situation borders on Narm.
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate ends with "The End?", leading Joel and the Bots to question it.
Crow: "The End?" Yes... no! No, I wanna change my answer!
Joel: No, always wonder.
- Happens quite famously at the end of the first Friday the 13th (1980) film and most subsequent ones, insinuating that the threat is not in fact over.
- Humorously, the first one was just meant to be a final scare, not a Sequel Hook. Obviously, it's become one with all the other movies.
- The film version of the musical Little Shop of Horrors had an Audrey II cutting growing in the garden of Seymour and Audrey's house. (Actually, this ending was a replacement for the original Downer Ending, which test audiences disliked.)
- Used at the end of Big Trouble in Little China. (What is it with Asian villains and this?)
- Employee Of The Month did this about seven times. Yes, seven.
- Skeletor is revealed to be alive at the end of the Masters of the Universe, setting up a sequel that never happened because the movie bombed.
- Subverted in Bats, where the closing scene shows the lone surviving bats slowly and menacingly rise up from the dirt in preparation to fly off into the sunrise, only to get run over by the heroes' SUV as they drive off into the sunrise.
- The ending of the U.S. version of Legend has a shot of Darkness (who was apparently destroyed earlier) laughing.
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate: "The End?" Also, Torgo escaped, albeit missing a hand.
- At the end of the movie adaptation of Christine, the metal cube that was once an evil car sits there... and one little corner bends.
- The original novel also hinted that the cube still had some life in it in the "first" ending, then proceeded to make it very clear that Christine was back in the epilogue.
- The 90's comedy Nothing But Trouble ends with one of these.
- The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, as an Affectionate Parody of black and white B-grade '50s sci-fi flicks, naturally ends with a bold white THE END, after which appears a question mark, in turn followed by the inevitable OR IS IT? and some Fauxlosophic Narration in the same intentionally bad dialogue style as the rest of the movie.
- Just before the credits roll in X-Men: The Last Stand a depowered Magneto is seen sitting in the park, in front of a table with (presumably) metal chess pieces. He holds his hand forward, and one piece tilts ever so slightly before the screen goes black.
- Also, it's made fairly clear that Professor X has possessed the body of the brain-dead man they showed earlier on in the movie, who is apparently his twin brother.
- The ending of the American remake of The Ring indicates that, yes, she figured out how to not be killed by the ghost girl, but, as her son points out, what will happen to the person who has to watch the videotape to save her son?
- The original book has an even more drastic version: Asakawa copies the tape twice more for his wife and daughter, showing the copies to her parents, but as he's driving home, he looks back to see them both dead. Copying the tape wasn't the answer in the first place.
- And the Japanese movie adaption ends by saying how they'll continue to spread the curse from one person to another, over and over.
- The remake of The Hills Have Eyes and its sequel. In the first one, the survivors have a group hug as the camera pulls out and reveals that what is presumably another mutant watching them through binoculars. For the sequel, the survivors limp away as the camera pulls out and reveals that what is presumably another mutant is watching them on a laptop that has a long-range heat-sensitive camera.
- Used famously at the end of Flash Gordon.
- The movie version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does this for Allan Quartermain, who dies in the final battle, hinting strongly that he will be Back from the Dead for a sequel.
- The Super Mario Bros. Movie ends just after Daisy has returned to her homeworld and the two parallel universes are closed off forever... with Daisy walking in holding a gun and dressed like a soldier saying "Mario, Luigi, you're not going to believe this..." We never found out what she meant, which may or may not have been a good thing.
- This rather extreme kind of sequel-trigger rarely seems to be picked up, although Mortal Kombat was an exception.
- Back to the Future: It's your kids, Marty! Something's got to be done about your kids!"
- They didn't even originally intend that to be a real sequel hook or even a real cliffhanger. It was only tongue-in-cheek at first, and the "TO BE CONTINUED" sign wasn't superimposed over the screen until the film was out on video after a sequel was already in the works.
- Played straight in part II; however, it may or may not count as part II and III were made pretty much together, going as far as showing a trailer for part III at the end of part II.
- The ending of Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack shows that Godzilla's disembodied heart is still beating at the bottom of the ocean, heavily implying that he'll return to wreak havoc once again.
- The 1998 American remake of Godzilla ends with an egg surviving, after all the effort to kill them. While the movie didn't receive a sequel, this was used in the follow-up animated series.
- During the end credits of the 2007 Transformers live-action movie, Starscream (who escaped the F-22 Raptors in pursuit because they had bigger fish to fry) flies out of Earth's atmosphere and shoots straight up, presumably returning to Cybertron for reinforcements.
- In the (original version of the) horror movie The She Creature, a hypnotist uses a woman in a trance to summon an aquatic monster from beyond time. After being mortally wounded by it, he banishes it forever. But the final shot of the movie shows the ocean, and a big "?" over it.
- The original version of Godzilla vs. Hedorah ended like this as well. Of course, Yoshimitsu Banno was practically exiled from the studio after its completion, so...
- Bullshot (1983). The villain is supposedly killed when his plane runs out of fuel, though they Never Found the Body. The movie then concludes with a montage of photos showing the wedding of the hero and the heroine; the last photo shows the villain disguised as their chauffeur. But all that is another story.
- In the Fu Manchu movies starring Christopher Lee, after his evil plan was foiled, he would say "The world shall hear from me again."
- In Out of Sight, gentleman bank-robber Jack Foley and straight-arrow federal agent Karen Sisco have an affair, despite the fact that she's supposed to put him in jail. At the very end of the movie, after she's apprehended him, he's in the back of a van taking him from Detroit back to prison in Miami when he discovers that Sisco has gone out of her way to transport another prisoner with him: a convict nicknamed Hejira Henry, whose specialty is escaping from jail. Foley realizes that the two have a lot to talk about on the ride back to Miami, and instead of an "Or Is It?" title, we get an extreme close-up of Sisco's smile.
- Halloween (1978): Michael Myers is shot repeatedly and then falls out of a window. But when Loomis goes to look, the body is gone. Turns out he really was the Boogeyman. And the parade of sequels begin...
- In the Street Fighter movie, M. Bison lives, but Raul Julia less so.
- Catwoman, thought to be dead, shows up in Batman Returns just before the end credits roll.
- Con Air's Garland Greene escaped. But apparently is just trying to earn some bucks.
- The obscure blaxploitation film The Black Six ends with a Crowning Moment of Or Is It? Awesomeness - we see still frames of the title characters, then the caption "HONKY LOOK OUT! HASSLE A BROTHER AND THE BLACK SIX WILL RETURN!!!"
- Fantastic Four; to no one's surprise, as the crate carrying von Doom's remains is shown departing, there's a hint of life.
- While this trope debuted in the 1950s version of The Thing from Another World, the 1980s version (simply titled The Thing (1982)) featured a less direct version of the trope. In the end, Macready and Childs are the only two characters remaining. It's not stated whether one or the other, or both of them, are infected by the Thing, with the film ending with their outpost burning, and the two of them deciding to "Wait and see"...
- The original 1958 version of The Blob, as seen at the end of this clip.
- Also occurs in the remake from 1988 as well.
- Combined with Oh Crap at the conclusion of The Wolfman (2010), as the film ends with the police detective clutching his bite-wounds and realizing he's been infected with lycanthropy too.
- How could one forget Event Horizon, with the door closing at the end... automatically, because no one's standing near it. Right?
- Black Swan: On a similarly disturbing level as Shutter Island.
- The Wizard of Gore: After a series of Shocking Swerves, the movie ends with a textbook "The End... Or Is It?" card.
- Just like the comic, Kick-Ass ends revealing Red Mist has gone evil for good and is now a super-villain planning revenge.
- At the end of Dracula 2000, just before the sunlight takes him, Dracula turns Mary back into a human (luckily, after she falls from the roof). The ending voice-over reveals that Simon and her have become the protectors of the vampire's ashes. The final shot is a close-up of Mary's eyes, which suddenly turn an inhuman color.
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. "I will... never be a memory...."
- Most people know the ending of Carrie 1976: she dies. The ending of the made-for-TV 2002 remake is notably different, though. In this version, Carrie survives. She skips town and changes her appearance and identity. Regardless, though, she hasn't changed - she's still unstable and sensitive enough to lose control again later. While the endings in the both the book and the movie are final yet creepy (and perhaps the book has a touch of Or Is It? thrown in for good measure), this version implies that the horror is not over.
- Played with in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Super Shredder is crushed underneath a collapsing dock, The Turtles recover from the collapse, and THEN A HAND SHOOTS UP OUT OF THE RUBBLE! "No one could have survived that!". Then the arm drops with a groan. He's done for. Granted, there is a sequel, but it is not based on the ending of II.
- Three of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films end this way.
- Dream Warriors ends with a replica of Freddy's house lighting one of its windows.
- The Dream Master has Alice briefly seeing Freddy's reflection on a fountain before its surface is disturbed.
- The Dream Child ends with a shot of the ghost kids reciting the "One, two..." rhyme on the foreground of the oblivious protagonists.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes ends with the revelation that it wasn't nuclear bombs that destroyed humanity. It was a plague.
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows ends with the question-mark variation added by Holmes himself to Watson's typed account of events, to show he's Not Quite Dead.
- Batman: The Movie: After the "Freaky Friday" Flip that seems to defy the Status Quo Is God, Batman and Robin going out inconspicuously throught the window. Then we see The End superimposed in the screen. A second later, they add the word living and a question mark: The Living End?
- After the title homicidal orangutan of Link dies, the heroine and her boyfriend pick up one of the friendlier chimps in their car. The camera then pans out to reveal the field behind them is full of dead sheep, showing us that the chimp is homicidal too.
- There are only ever two endings for Filipino Horror movies: a Cruel Twist Ending (especially in the Shake Rattle And Roll series of anthology films), and this. Either way, it's mandatory. No exceptions.
- The trailers for Tim Burton's Frankenweenie end with "THE END... OR IS IT".
- The final shot in Dark Shadows shows Dr. Hoffman reawakening as a vampire while wrapped in chains at the bottom of the ocean after being dumped there earlier by Barnabas & Willy.
- Played with in Deep Blue Sea. At the end Preacher asks Carter if he was sure that there were only three sharks, and Carter says yes. Then he takes his feet out of the water just to be sure.
- The first and second Wishmaster films both have this kind of ending. It's made very clear that the Djinn is not permanently defeated when he gets resealed in the fire opal, but after the upbeat ending for the heroes the last shot slowly zooms in as the Djinn is biding his time in his prison, waiting to be awakened again.
- In Santa's Slay, Santa is destroyed while flying in the sky on his sleigh, but shows up just before the end credits in an airport traveling incognito.
- The original ending for Face/Off ended like this: Sean Archer returns home, but when he looks in a mirror he sees Castor Troy's face rather than his own. Archer screams and his wife attempts to comfort him, but she doesn't notice a psychotic smirk start forming on his face, all of which implied that either Troy survived and was still impersonating Archer, or that Archer's time spent as Troy had permanently damaged his psyche.
- Spoofed with The Stinger to Pacific Rim. The corpse of a monster is twitching ominously...then a character who'd been swallowed whole earlier in the movie cuts his way out with a knife.
- In Q: The Winged Serpent, before the credits roll, an egg of the creature is shown that cracks open, revlealing the monster's offspring.
Live Action TV
- The Gun, a short story by Philip K. Dick. A spacecraft investigating a planet destroyed by nuclear war is shot down by a robot anti-aircraft weapon. Fortunately they're able to approach the weapon on foot and deactivate it, then repair their spacecraft and take off. They plan to return later and remove the contents of the archive that the gun was protecting, unaware that underground robot repair units have already been sent to put the gun back together again.
- In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only in Death, Hinzerhaus appears to be haunted at first. Gradually, various explanations - not all scientific - are given, until it seems that the phenomena have been explained away. The very last part of the novel, excluding Hark's final diary entry, then suggests that maybe the fortress is really haunted after all.
- The book of Wicked seems to suggest, with it's last lines, that the main character may have survived her encounter with Dorthy on some level, or at least may be coming back.
- Isaac Asimov actually managed to fit one of these into the first chapter of his novel of Fantastic Voyage. The characters are hoping a Soviet scientist's defection will turn out well:
[Owens] frowned at the intonation in his mind that had put a question mark after those two words.
Happy ending! he thought grimly, but the intonation slithered out of control so that it became Happy ending? again.
- Every single Goosebumps book ends with one of these. The last few lines of each book usually reveal that one of the monsters is still out there, that something is still stalking the protagonists, that the safety they thought they gained is probably an illusion, the person they rescued isn't actually safe, or that whatever victory over the monsters they achieved is probably not real. Or might not be real. It's sometimes ambiguous, but not in the "Was it all just a dream?" sense.
- The Stand by Stephen King has a epilogue which shows that the villain survived, and is trying to recruit new followers.
- At the end of Relic, the monster has been killed and it seems that everything's okay again. Only one of the scientists at the museum has figured out that the monster was actually a missing explorer who was transformed after ingesting a type of herb. And said scientist has obtained the herb and plans on cultivating it as a drug called "Glaze" that he intends to sell on the streets in order to finance himself. Sure enough, a sequel followed suit two years later.
- The Wheel of Time has this on a repeating timer - every few thousand years, the Dark One breaks free and brings an apocalypse. It's up to the equally-recurring heroes to clamp down on him - and if they lose once, it's all over for the past, present, and future. However, they can't kill the Dark One, because that would leave the world a vapid, empty shell.
Duty is heavier than a mountain, death is lighter than a feather.
- The ending of Fire Ascending, though specified as definite by D'lacey, seemed...less then definite. Though the ending was played off as a Nested Story Reveal, Bergstrom had the mark of Oomara which David never knew about, and Gadzooks came alive on Elizabeth's grave...
- The music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" has Jackson turning into a zombie, summoning his dancing zombie pals, and surrounding his girlfriend in an abandoned building. She then wakes up next to un-zombie Michael Jackson, who looks at the camera revealing werewolf eyes at the very end.
- In introducing a performance on Britain's Top of the Pops music program, the announcer said before the video played, "These two never actually sung on the record, so here's Milli Vanilli, 'Girl You Know It's True', or is it?"
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's Ivalice was supposed to vanish, right? Well, in its Radio Drama, after the supposed ending in the game ends, the music stops, and a voice from Montblanc says towards Marche that he wanted to meet again in the dream. May it be that the dream Ivalice is still there or that it was Montblanc's Final Speech is still a mystery.
- At the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum, one of three villains will reach out of the water and grab a floating crate of TITAN.
- A common video game use of The End, Or Is It? is to punish the player for not getting 100% Completion: without every MacGuffin recovered, the true villain isn't fully defeated and is alluded to in the end credits (such as in the Kirby games).
- The extra endings in Chrono Trigger (obtained by defeating Lavos after only completing certain chapters) are chock-full of these.In a particular case, Frog proceeds to face Magus alone, there is a cut to the credits just as the two are clashing, battle noises are heard throughout the credit roll, and in the end a caped silhouette, who might be Frog as well as Magus, stands victorious above Magus' Keep.
- Especially the Chaos Emeralds from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. At least the old ones where you actually had to collect them yourself.
- Though sometimes it's the other way around, and the player's imperfect completion allows them to finish the game with a 'and that's simply the end of the villain' vibe. If the player were to push things, the conspiracy would unwind and further troubles would ensue.
- True Crime: Streets of LA does this transparently; the conclusive ending isn't available until following false leads to three Or Is It? endings.
- Another common use is to have everything neatly wrapped up after the main game, and throw that in to doubt upon getting 100% Completion, as a Sequel Hook.
- The last thing we see in Beyond Good & Evil, after the credits have rolled, is a DomZ spore attached to Pey'j's hand.
- Condemned: Criminal Origins ends with a particularly cryptic instance of this. It shows the main character vomiting into a sink, only for him to turn around and show he has the same metallic jaw as the Big Bad, with the skin of his face peeling away grotesquely around it.
- The sequel Condemned 2: Bloodshot also ends ominously. The ancient cult responsible for the sudden increase in violence is revealed to include the President of the United States as a member. Also, SKX, the hero's archnemesis, is revealed to be recruited as well, with the same metallic dental work.
- The original Dead Space ends with an indistinct shape in the darkness that appears to be a necromorph lunging at Isaac, showing the face of his dead love interest, overlaid with a red filter covered with alien runes. It has greater significance in the sequel.
- In inFAMOUS 2, the good ending has Cole activating the RFI, a device that cures the plague (a radioactive disease with no other known cure caused by Ray Sphere radiation) with the nasty side-effect of killing conduits in the process, including Cole. In the end, Zeke sails out into a storm on a boat with Cole's coffin in tow and the screen goes dark. Just then, a lightning bolt shaped suspiciously like a questionmark lights up the screen over the boat...
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, three endings do this. The Coffin Ending ends with "To Be Continued...", while the Safe Ending and the Sub Ending end with "The End... Or is it?". Playing this trope straight.
- F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R Perseus Mandate both have this trope after the credits, though it is noticeably absent from Extraction Point. In the first game, there is a phone conversation between Genevieve Aristide and the mysterious Senator. In Perseus Mandate, a Nightcrawler delivers a sample of Fettel's DNA to the mysterious Senator.
- Seen at the end of the game Gears of War.
- Halo 3 has a variation where it's not the bad guys but the hero who is still out there, drifting in a wrecked ship and in stasis pod, waiting to wake up when he's needed again.
- In the extended finale available only when beating the game at the hardest difficulty, the wreckage is shown tumbling towards
a Dyson Sphere, tying in to the unresolved storyline in the book Ghosts of Onyx. some as-yet undiscovered planetoid with Forerunner stuff on it.
- House of the Dead. Both villains are most definitely dead and they're still making plans.
- Limbo of the Lost uses these exact words in its ending, showing Fate and Destiny about to throw down again with a new human pawn, promising a sequel to pick up where the game leaves off.
- Metal Gear Solid: Ocelot calling the president about the situation and letting slip that the president is not only involved, but one of the Snakes? MGS2: Otacon finding out the Patriots have all been dead for 100 years? MGS3: That Ocelot has handed the Legacy to the US Government, who he's been working for the whole time? MGS: Portable Ops: Ocelot's in on the true forming of the Patriots?
- Each of the Metroid Prime games had one of these as its best ending. In the first game, the end of the credits cuts to the bubbling remains of Metroid Prime, out of which a clawed, eyeballed hand rises, revealing Dark Samus. In the second game, we see the glowing blue particles of Dark Samus reform in space. In the third game, Samus is followed off by a ship that closely resembles Sylux's ship, the Delano 7 from Metroid Prime Hunters. Let the wild speculation begin!
- After the credits roll at the end of the original Mother, there's a shot of a mysterious man at a telephone, mentioning that "something new has come up". Which leads us to...
- EarthBound's post-credits epilogue had Ness awakened by knocks at the front door, just like at the beginning of the game — but it's Picky at the door and not Porky, there to tell Ness that he has a note from his brother, proclaiming "Come and get me, loser!"
- Which, as it turns out, he is not successful in doing.
- And finally, MOTHER 3's ending sees the world being completely destroyed as a result of Lucas's pulling the final needle and summoning the Dragon from below the earth. The screen goes black and reads "END?", but by making the word 'walk' around, dialogue from the characters is revealed. They say that they're all fine, but their actual fate is left ambiguous.
- Well, dialogue from the Magypsies and even the Big Bad (Porky) suggests that the world has just been reborn, meaning that they get a new slate after the previous destruction, a la Noah.
- Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath features this trope, in addition to a double Tomato Surprise, when the Big Bad, Sekto, turns out to have been a Brain Washed Steef, and the real Sekto was the parasite clinging to his head, which is later seen swimming down the river. Sadly, Oddworld Inhabitants dropped out of the video game business after this game, but they're on their way back.
- Overlord. With the Jester being blasted with some sort of magical power, accompanied by the line "But evil always finds a way."
- This is followed up on in the Expansion Pack, Raising Hell, where The Jester is heavily implied to be behind the awakening of the Forgotten God and thus the events of the expansion pack, but as for a full explanation, we'll just have to hope the sequel or one of the spinoffs provides it.
- The sequel has one, with Gnarl noting that the Overlord may soon be brought down by many threats to his power. Some of which are biding their time...
- In Portal the player character destroys GLaDOS and makes her way the eff out of there, and it's all sunshine and rainbows and kittens (putting aside the fact that this takes place in the same universe as Half-Life and she's likely screwed in any case), and just as we're led to believe that there might be some semblance of an ending, the camera meanders through a series of pipes to find the heart of the complex, where GLaDOS seems to wake up again, then begins singing a jaunty tune about how she is Still Alive and you're going to die long before she does.
- Word of God says that Chell escapes, "injured enough to pass out" but alive.
- In fact, Valve has released an update that makes it perfectly clear that there WILL be a sequel. Among other (many other) things, the end game has the injured Chell being dragged away with a voice saying, "Thank you for assuming the party escort submission position."
- Portal 2 once again ends with a song that suggests that things aren't quite as wrapped up as they first appear — in this case, it both hints that GLaDOS may not have successfully deleted Caroline after all — or else that alone didn't purge her of foreign influence — and that GLaDOS had deeper reasons for letting Chell go than simply deciding to take the "easy way" after killing her had proved too difficult.
- Congratulations! You've completed the Portal 2 multiplayer co-op campaign! You and your little robot avatar buddy should be very proud that you solved all those devious plots, and secured that completely worthless information that looked possibly like either a way for the GLADOS AI to escape or schematics for a Kill Sat. The actual ending is you discovering a batch of thousands of cryogenicly frozen people who GLADOS implies will be her new test subjects in the freshly rejuvenated Aperture Science Human Enrichment Center. And then blows up the test robots, presumably for good.
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy ends with Nick shouting "I remember everything now! and helicopters about to attack... then... it cuts to black with "to be continued".
- In the credits sequence for Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Razorbeard can be seen flying away. Similarly, at the end of Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, a terrified Red Lum transforms into André.
- Secret of Evermore ends with the Big Bad in his unaltered form chuckling with the words "The End?" A Sequel was never made.
- The end of Sly Cooper And The Thievius Raccoonus showed one of Big Bad Clockwerk's eyes lighting up on his disembodied head.
- Somewhat subverted, since the second game reveals that Clockwerk really is dead, and somebody else ends up taking over Clockwerk's body.
- In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, the sorceress's hand rises out of the lava after the final boss fight. However, if the player gets the one hundred percent complete (collect all the dragon eggs and gems), she can be killed for good.
- In Star Fox 64, if you reach the planet Venom the easy way, you see Andross's face laughing as the team ventures off towards the sunset. If you reach it the hard way, defeating the real Andross in the process rather than a robotic duplicate, you just see a banner saying "THE END". Either way, he turns out to be still alive in Star Fox Adventures.
- In Sweet Home, if one gets the perfect ending (all five party members alive), the five characters are seen together, happy. As the ending closes, a face turns around and reveals that it's a monster!
- Wonder Boy In Monster World ends with the words The End on a starry background, then suddenly the boss music plays and the Big Bad flies over the text, changing it to To Be Continued. He then winks and disappears.
- Tenchu 2. SUZAKU IS ONIKAGE.
- The next-gen Bionic Commando has two for the price of one. After the credits roll, a pair of messages show up in morse code. The first one is translated to English, and suggests that Project Vulture might not be as totally shut down as the ending makes it look. The second stays in Morse Code... but players have translated it into a German message regarding "Phase 2" and "Project Albatross."
- Played for laughs in a fan-made Frozen Throne campaign, which is supposed to be an unofficial alternate sequel to the original campaign. It ends with Arthas regaining his sanity, standing trial, and getting executed. Kael incinerates his body, leaving behind his crown and his sword. After paths divide, the screen fades to black and THE END appears. The scene shifts to the sword and the crown, and a random civilian called 'a man' picks them up saying 'I wonder who left this here?' The screen fades to black again and the sign '...OR IS IT?" appears.
- Wizardry IV. "You wonder if there was something you missed..." The best ending follows up with "then you realize there isn't".
- A Tale Of Two Kingdoms, for every ending except for the best one (mostly because you left the assassin on the loose...)
- King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human, in obvious sequel bait.
- System Shock starts with the "hero", a nameless hacker, breaking into the Trioptimum computer system. He gets caught, but escapes jail by unfettering an AI for a corrupt executive. All hell breaks loose as the AI creates a horde of mutants and cyborgs. On completing the game, the hacker refuses all reward and instead goes back to his computer... Only to break into a fresh network and discover yet more genetic experiments going on elsewhere.
- The sequel, set some time after the first game, has a new hero defeating the same AI once again on a space cruiser. However, the end reveals that it escaped by infecting one of the members of an escape pod.
- The original Ecco the Dolphin ends with a dolphin asking you if you think that the alien race you just defeated is truly destroyed.
- The Ending Sequence of Wing Commander 2: Special Operations 2 has that Evil Laugh... (and, of course, the message "To be concluded in Wing Commander III" after the credits...)
- The Darkness puts a twist on this by having a sequence that suggests that the complete defeat of the hero at the hands of his Enemy Within might not be all it seems. Shortly before he's seemingly overtaken by The Darkness, a conversation between Jackie and Jenny ends with the odd exchange:
Jackie: Am I dreaming?
Jenny: Yes. You have to wake up.
- Inversion in Serious Sam The Second Encounter — the game starts with one of these. It's in the manual!
- Once you play all the way to the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan on Game Boy. We get the ending shot of the Turtles having saved April O'Neil, while an epilogue tells us things might not be over... and then we see the Technodrome (presumably) fall into a pit of lava. The credits roll and once they are finished, we see a pic which says "The End" with a still image of Krang below it. Wait a few seconds and Krang villainously laughs (and his face clearly reflects his mood) and "The End" becomes "The End?"
- Alone In The Dark 1992: when Edward Carnby finally escapes from Derceto, he calls a taxi to go back home... and then it is shown that the driver is a monster.
- In the second Drakensang game, after defeating the Final Boss, saving Nadoret and Raul's Crown and watching the final cutscene... you're rewarded with a cutscene showing some thorwalian pirates arriving at Nadoret in the middle of the night. Is actually a sort of sequel hook for the expansion.
- Blaster Master 2 for the Genesis ends with "THE END", then ellipses fade in to view one at a time, followed by a question mark.
- Mega Man examples:
- The original series rarely does this, but we get a glimpse of Wily's saucer escaping at the end of 3. And 6 appears to have a less open ending than its predecessors (instead of "dying", Wily is finally caught and jailed), but then "To Be Continued..." appears, making it obvious that he's got a plan.
- The Mega Man X series does this more often than not, from Sigma's ominous message in X1 (wait a while after the credits) to Axl's fate and the question of Reploid destiny in X8.
- Mega Man Zero 2 ends with an unknown agent activating something called "Omega". This would be a mere teaser for next game, except for one little detail... the bosses you've been fighting in these first two games have all had omega symbols on their health bars.
- Mega Man ZX Advent ends normally unless you're on Hard. That mode ends with a cliffhangery Man Behind the Man revelation.
- Mega Man Battle Network games 2 and 3 end with an indication that Bass is still out there. Interestingly, the payoff for BN 3's Bass scene comes in the postgame sidequests of that very game, not in the sequel.
- The ending of The Last Ninja 3 is a nearly verbatim example, made hilarious by the total lack of punctuation.
CAN ANYTHING THREATEN THE WORLD AGAIN
THERE CANNOT BE ANOTHER ENEMY SO STRONG
OR CAN THERE
- Donkey Kong Country pulls a trick ending on a player while fighting the Final Boss King K. Rool. A brief credit roll with a "The End?" right as he gets up to fight another round.
- In the finale of Asura's Wrath 870 million years later, all the deities have reincarnated as regular people. But then asura attacks a Meteor just like how he did in the first trailer.......
- At the end of the "The Trouble with Clones" DLC for Saints Row The Third:
Jimmy: "Steelport is safe once again. But who knows when the Saints and their new allies may be called upon to protect her. The end. Question mark?"
- The Soviet campaign in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 ends with the reveal that Yuri is still alive after his physical body was destroyed along with the Kremlin, and transferred his mind into one of his brains-in-a-jar.
- They Bleed Pixels. The Book of Claws is destroyed, the protagonist is back to normal, and the evil headmaster is dead! But there are many, many more books just like it in the library, just waiting for another curious little girl to pick them up...
- Gotham Girls's third season ends with its Big Bad, locked up in a refrigeration unit, suddenly opening her eyes (which are red all of a sudden) and ominously breathing against the glass, cracking it.
- Used as a deliberate spoof of the trope in this episode of Irregular Webcomic!.
- Spoofed several times in the end of a Sluggy Freelance arc. Each potential last minute plot twist is resolved immediately. Except for the last one, which was a joke.
- Played straight, too. What happened to Zoe?
- Spoofed in this strip of The Order of the Stick.
- Also invoked in this strip, in which Elan describes how (as far as they know at the time) everything is resolved, paired with panels showing that this is not the case.
- Played with in this strip of Looking for Group.
- At the end of KateModern: Precious Blood, a brief glimpse of Terrence can be seen, cackling gleefully.
- In the very last episode of lonelygirl15, after even "The Ascension", Lucy posts a video entitled "In My Sights", saying "It's not that easy, Jonas".
- At the end of the puppet sketch "Dangeresque: Puppet Squad" on Homestar Runner, the two Dangeresques caught the guy responsible for one time stealing their curly fries...
Sharktooth Bubs: Or did you?
- Also the end of The theme from Dangeresque II: This time, it's not Dangeresque I.
Dangeresque: Or did I?
- Played for laughs at the end of the first final (!) battle between AVGN and the Nostalgia Critic, with the Critic's bloody hand raising towards the screen after being defeated by Super Mecha Death-Christ.
- Also a Running Gag used by the Critic, where he'll shout "OR DO THEY?!" as a Sting plays and the camera zooms in on his face. A couple of times he's subverted it by immediately backing off and saying "No, no, they do."
- In Seeking Truth, the final blog post seems to indicate that Zeke Strahm has, indeed, gone crazy... and is now on the run. In Dreams in Darkness, Zeke himself pops up to hint that Damien's Slender-blog was not an in-universe fabrication.
- He's popped up in a number of other Slender-blogs, and is still sporadically posting semi-cryptic messages on his original blog..
- Referenced in this wiki-answers article about tides.
"When the concept of universal gravitation was introduced, it quantified the forces involved and neatly accounted for the ocean tides. Today, anyone can tell you that the tides are caused by the "gravity" of the moon. Or are they?"
- Used for humorous effect in Family Guy, when, after Peter Griffin's epic fight with the chicken man, the camera zooms in on its unconscious form to see that it's still alive.
- In the Angry Beavers episode "Dag For Night", Dagget and Norbert's attempt at finishing the unfinished Oxnard Montalvo B-movie The Not Too Friendly Creature From the Off-White Puddle Who Will Eat You ends with "The End?", except Dagget melodramatically reads it as "The End... Question Mark?" That, and the movie ended with the Earth exploding.
- Unicron is seen still in one piece and possibly alive at the end of Transformers Armada. Sure enough, the rest of the Unicron Trilogy confirms this.
- A favorite of various 80s cartoon villains, including Mumm-Ra and Megatron. One gets the impression that the writers had a variety of potential "deaths" for the bad guys in mind, and just wanted to get them all out of their system.
- Used in the final (but not planned that way) episode of the Sonic Sat AM series, not with Robotnik, but with Snively... and someone else.
- Word of God is that the someone else was Naugus, who had escaped the Void.
- Parodied in The Simpsons, where "The End?" appears in an alternate ending of Casablanca.
- And again in "Behind the Laughter": "The dream was over. Coming up next, was the dream really over? Yes, it was. Or was it?"
- Another episode featured a Star Wars parody, specifically spoofing the prequels. The entire film is just the galactic senate deliberating on a budget issue. At the end, they finally reach a preliminary consensus, and Yoda, acting as speaker, says "tabled, this motion is.... or IS it?"
- One "Treehouse of Horror" segment (where Groundskeeper Willy was basically Freddy Kreuger) ended with Willy seemingly killed in Bart's dream. After waking up and walking outside, Lisa worries that Willy's still out there, waiting to kill them. Cue Willy anticlimactically stepping off a nearby bus and making mock scary faces at them until the bus leaves, forcing him to chase after it because he left his gun on the seat.
- Spoofed in one episode of Freakazoid!: "The End. Or is it? Yes, it is!"
- Played straight in Batman Beyond: Inque gets one of these. Unsurprisingly, she comes back. Curiously, Big Bad Blight also gets a textbook The End (Or Is It?) in the first season's finale (to the point where Terry himself seems to completely expect that he'll come back), but never reappeared.
- The opposite version of "The End?" appears at the end of the second season finale of Beast Wars after Megatron launches a devastating blast of energy into the original Optimus Prime's head, creating a time storm that threatens to destroy the entire universe. Right before the credits, you see "To Be Continued..." followed by "?"
- The Danny Phantom episode "The Ultimate Enemy" ends on this. The villain indeed was set to return for the Grand Finale, but the original writer was fired and replaced, resulting in an alternate outcome.
- The highly, er... surreal "The Mysterious Mr. Friend" episode of Rugrats ends like this.
- Transformers Generation One ended "Enter The Nightbird" with a shot of Nightbird's optics lighting up just as she's being sealed away. It's not sure why, seeing as she's never used again.
- Transformers Animated did this with a few of its one-shot villains, usually to leave open the possibility of their return. So far, most of them have come back at least once, so it's a useful strategy.
- Played with in "The Laughing Fish" of Batman: The Animated Series. The Joker fell into the ocean very close to a hungry shark. Commissioner Gordon asks Batman a bit later if he thinks the Joker's really dead. Batman says he wishes so, but that he has his doubts. The camera closes in on the Joker card that Harley has thrown into the ocean in mourning and then it's eaten by the same shark, managing to make the viewer certain both that the Joker survived and that he did so only by the skin of his teeth (so to speak) at the same time.
- In fact, countless TAS episodes end on this trope. Especially when they introduce new villains, the episodes always seem to end with a hint that the villain will return.
- Happens for good guys, too. At the end of the episode in which Batgirl was introduced, Bruce Wayne straight-up says "I'm sure we'll be seeing her again."
- The alternative ending in "The Good the Bad and The tigre" in El Tigre plays with this.In the "The End" screen,the Narrator questions "Or...does it?" adding a question mark,then clarifying "yes it does",thus removing the question mark.
- In the opening credits of an episode of Futurama, "Or is it?" pops up on the title screen.
- Galaxy Rangers pulled this with "Scarecrow." The titular villain is chased off, running away from a burning house and lit on fire. Shane, Niko, and Zozo are back on Ranger-1, preparing for takeoff, speculating on just what the Scarecrow was. As they take off, the technician that was gassing up their ship chuckles and melts, revealing the very much alive Scarecrow.
- American Dad! spoofed this in its giant James Bond parody episode "Tearjerker". Roger (as the titular villain) falls into an active volcano. The last scene shows the top of the volcano with the words "The End", but a moment later Roger's badly burned hand reaches up and grabs onto the "ledge", as a question mark appears. ...But then Roger loses his grip and falls back, the question mark disappearing as well.
- This is the phrase Early Cuyler from Squidbillies uses to end his threat/prayers:
Early: Amen... pulls knife Or is it?
- In Fanboy and Chum Chum, "Dollar Day":
Fanboy: Chum Chum! What did you do?! That was our only dollar!
Chum Chum: Or was it?
Fanboy: Yes, and you spent it!
Chum Chum: Or did I?
Fanboy: Yes! I saw you put it in the machine.
Chum Chum: Or did you?
Fanboy: Why do you keep talking like that?
Chum Chum: Cause I lost our only dollar!
- Parodied in Spliced, when Peri and Entree are stalked by a golf cart they drove for a while and then abandoned. When they destroy the cart in the volcano, the characters comment that they're glad their ordeal is over. The screen then flashes the message Or Is It?, then shows the volcano again, and then says, "Yeah, it probably is."
- Parodied in Johnny Bravo. At the end of The Color of Mustard, Pops concludes his story about Johnny's failed badminton career with an ominous "Or did we?" aimed at the audience. This is more of a Big Lipped Alligator Moment given Pops' tone of voice.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Suited For Sucess:
Hoity Toity: Rarity, my congratulations. You are the most impressive fashion maven. Would you do me the great honor of allowing me to feature your couture in my best of the best boutique in Canterlot?
Rarity: (happy gasp)
Hoity Toity: Now, I'll need you to make a dozen of each dress for me by next Tuesday.
Rarity: (gulps in fear)
(cut to credits)
- Subverted at the end of the first South Park Halloween episode, "Pinkeye", when Zombie!Kenny bursts out of his grave... only for a statue from a nearby gravestone to fall on him. And then a jetplane crashes into him.
- Much like the rest of the shows in the DCAU, Superman: The Animated Series loved using this trope, especially for its early episodes that introduced most of the rogues gallery:
- The 3-part pilot concluded with Brainiac being found by a team of alien explorers, which ended with him slaughtering the crew, hijacking their ship, and piloting it on a course to Earth.
- The first episode with the Toyman revealed that he had escaped the destruction of his hideout and was still at large.
- "A Little Piece of Home" concludes with Lex Luthor's team searching for more pieces of kryptonite to use as weapons against Superman.
- Each of Metallo's first two episodes ended with him apparently being killed, only for the very end of the episode to reveal he was still alive.
- The first episode with the Parasite has him left in a comatose state after accidentally being exposed to kryptonite when he'd absorbed Superman's powers. But then he absorbs the energy from a rat and starts smiling.
- Livewire's debut concluded with her getting electrocuted after being exposed to a burst of water, which left her apparently brain dead. But during the last shot of the episode with her hooked up to a life support unit, her eyes start lighting up...
- Even Mr. Mxyzptlk got a moment like this in his first episode. At the end he's permanently defeated by Superman and is stuck in his own dimension, but apparently has given up his obsession with trying to beat the Man of Stee—- oh no wait, no he hasn't.
- At the end of the Sandokan cartoon, the eponymous hero has regained his rightful throne of Sarawak, defeated and captured the wicked Rajah who usurped it, made friends with his other enemy Lord James and married his beloved Marianna (Lord James's niece)...but Baron William — Lord James's right-hand man and Sandokan's bitter rival for Marianna's heart — cannot bring himself to end their feud and helps the Rajah escape. The final shot is of the Rajah and the Baron contemplating vengeance as they sail away in a small boat...
Dun Dun DAH!