The Resolution Will Not Be Televised
A show that's just unfortunate enough to get canceled before its writers' creative juices have dried up (or the network decided to can their show out of spite, content complaints, or low ratings) will sometimes get a televised epilogue to Wrap It Up
But some aren't that lucky. Sometimes the show's creator or the company that owns the character has to go elsewhere to continue the story. Sometimes that means "downgrading" to comics or novels. Sometimes they can wrangle straight-to-DVD movies or even more rarely they get a shot at the big screen
A recent trend has seen many upcoming summer blockbusters receive comics preceding their release that serve to introduce the film's characters or villains.
Contrast Post Script Season
. See also All There in the Manual
. If it's intentional, then there's No Ending
. If it's a made-for-TV movie or miniseries, see Wrap It Up
. Contrast Expanded Universe
, where a show that did
get a resolution is continued in other media anyway.
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Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Because Gainax ran out of money, the original series had an ending that resolved virtually nothing. Eventually, a more definitive ending was released in movie form, as "End of Evangelion".
- Martian Successor Nadesico's story was meant to be concluded in a sequence of novels and a trilogy of movies. However, due to unknown disagreements among the people involved in the production, the audience was still Left Hanging. There were a few supplementary materials (two video games and the Gekiganger 3 OVA) that did at least wrap up the main story of the show. However, few outside of Japan have ever seen the video games - most annoyingly, the second one, which was supposed to conclude the series once and for all.
- Though each individual series in the UC continuity of Mobile Suit Gundam was fairly self-contained, the story of the original characters got a final wrap-up in The Movie Char's Counterattack.
- The 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist was concluded by the movie Conqueror of Shamballa, which wraps up many of the plot threads left dangling by the series.
- Wolfs Rain ended inconclusively after 26 episodes. The story was concluded by 4 OVA episodes, which bring closure to the plot. Unfortunately some networks (like the UK's Anime Central) omit the OVA episodes from the show's run and leave the story hanging.
- The Big Bad of Dancougar was finally defeated in the OAV Requiem for Victims.
- .hack//Roots is an interesting example of this, in that its 26-episode run was intended as a lead-in to the three part .hack//G.U. video game series from the very beginning. Unless you were already intending to play the games to begin with, the anime's Sequel Hook, Reset Button ending might leave you wondering where the heck the resolution was...
- The anime adaptation of Star Ocean: The Second Story, Star Ocean EX, ended at what was half-point of the game's scenario when Claude, Rena and co leave Expel and go to Energy Nede. The second half of the story, the Energy Nede saga, was completed, but in a series of Drama CDs instead of an anime.
- The anime adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin was actually canceled due to how low the quality of the Filler arcs had became. Shougo was good, Daigoro was all right, Black Knights was bland, and Feng Shui was the reason the show was canceled, what with the hard-to-follow plot, boring characters, almost no action, and random events. Because of this, the last arc of the manga was adapted as an OVA.
- ...which didn't even adapt that right either, instead going in its own direction from the manga.
- Studio Shaft couldn't get airtime for the last three episodes of Bakemonogatari, so they were released as a webcast.
- Air Master introduces the Fukamichi Ranking about halfway through the show's run, and shows Maki competing against several Ranked fighters... until the last episode, where she runs into an abandoned building to fight some amazingly strange (even for this show) numbered white bald guy, which she does, and then goes home to her friends. This is never explained, despite the overall weightier implications of the lead-up to the fight, and isn't that different from all the OTHER fights with weirdoes Maki gets into. It's possible to watch that episode and not know it's the last one until the end credits.
- A combination of bad pacing, being close to overtaking the manga and low ratings ensured that the anime version of Rave Master would not be able to continue its story on the small screen. The last episode doesn't even give an Gecko Ending, it just ends right after the new Big Bad reveals himself.
- A semi-example with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. While the Twelve Episode Anime finished as intended, the sequel was released as The Movie. Word of God explains it wasn't long enough to be a complete second season. (In fact, the sequel was released after a pair of Compilation Movies that retold the anime's story.)
- The Katekyo Hitman Reborn! anime ended its adaptation at the end of the Future arc with Tsuna and company returning to the past. The manga however continued on with the Inheritance Ceremony arc in which the Vongola Guardians go on to battle against the Simon Family, and would eventually lead into the Curse of the Rainbow arc; a battle royale amongst the Arcobaleno babies. Low ratings, atrocious Padding during the Future arc, and dangerously closing the gap to the current manga chapter all took part in the anime's cancellation. Which is a shame since the Curse of the Rainbow arc is considered to be, overall, Reborn's best arc. It most likely won't be animated anytime soon.
- Persona 4 the Animation ends after the defeat of Ameno-Sagiri with Narukami leaving aboard the train, and never touches upon the events of the game's True Ending. The real last episode was released with the last volume of the anime, and reveals that the fake ending was part of a Lotus-Eater Machine created by Izanami.
- Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai! did this twice. The first season had a Gecko Ending, the second had No Ending, and both were properly concluded with a series of un-televised OVAs. The second season's "true" ending found its way to Crunchyroll, but the first season's did not, causing much confusion.
- The final four episodes of Kokoro Connect were released as OVAs. There are two possible reasons for this. Either they couldn't get airtime due to the odd number of episodes (like Bakemonogatari above), or they wanted to provide a good incentive to buy the DVDs after [[Scandalgate Auditiongate]] led to a boycott.
- The Ori plot in Stargate SG-1 was resolved in the direct to video movie The Ark of Truth, and Continuum dealt with Ba'al, tying up the biggest non-Atlantis-related loose threads.
- Dead Like Me had a Direct-to-DVD film that tied up some of the lingering plot threads.
- Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade was the true finale to Recess and was released two years after the show ended. (The first movie, Recess: School's Out was, but the show was renewed, then quickly cancelled again, thanks to Disney's 65-episode limit.) ABC actually wanted to uncancel the show again when they noticed how high the reruns for the sixty-five were, and ordered another season, but Disney declined and three of the episodes were made into this film.
- The earliest of the Star Wars Expanded Universe was Marvel Comics' Star Wars comic, which once it serialized A New Hope made up new stuff until such time as there was another movie to adapt.
- The Star Trek reboot was preceded by a prequel comic entitled, which explored the film's villain Nero. It was later followed-up Star Trek: Spock: Reflections and Star Trek: Nero.
- Likewise, the film's sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness was preceded by prequel comic Countdown to Darkness.
- While the Men In Black film was successful and would later release a theatrical sequel, Sony still contracted series creator Lowell Cunningham to script the Men In Black: Retribution comic sequel. The storyline similarly focuses on K returning to the MIB organization.
- The Super Mario Bros. film ended on a Sequel Hook that was left hanging for 20 years before it was picked up in the form of a web comic by the original screenwriter and several fans.
- Dredd 3 D did poorly at the box office, but due to a massive fan petition for a film sequel 2000AD announced a comic sequel entitled Dredd: Underbelly. A true film sequel is still being pushed.
- Kamen Rider Decade is a rare deliberate example of this trope, with the Grand Finale being a movie so that Toei could make way for Kamen Rider Double.
- Although the show ran its intended course and ended no sooner than planned, Joss Whedon has continued the adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the Season Eight comics, which follow on directly from the end of the TV series, as well as an Angel Season Six comic.
- Although it was originally intended to be the start of a movie franchise, Serenity did a good job of wrapping up one of the larger plot threads from the Firefly TV show — at least, as good a job as one can do when one has to introduce, elaborate, and wrap up a plot element that was originally supposed to take several seasons.
- Dollhouse is getting an interesting version of this: although the series finale "Epitaph Two" resolved pretty much everything, a comic series is being put out called Dollhouse: Epitaphs which takes place before it, just as it becomes After the End, and it shows what happens to several characters that we never see again in the series (like Ivy). We already know how everything ends, but now we can see how it got there.
- The Doctor Who New Adventures series of books directly followed on from Doctor Who's cancellation in 1989, continuing the adventures of the Seventh Doctor (the last to be seen on TV until the TV movie in 1996) and his companion Ace. (They also introduced several new companions, one of whom received her own continuing Spin-Off series.) It subsequently gained a sister series of "Missing Adventures" revisiting earlier Doctors and companions. The BBC would eventually pick up the series after the TV Movie, publishing the adventures of the 8th Doctor and his companions.
- Dark Angel's follow-up novels.
- The 4400 has two novels set after its TV run.
- Space: 1999 had a wrap-up released in 1999, "Message from Moonbase Alpha". Although fan-made, it had the involvement of one of the original scriptwriters and had Zienia Merton reprise her role as Sandra Benes.
- Heroes season four (Volume Five) ended with a shocking turn and the promise of another volume titled Brave New World which would've focused on norms learning about the specials and how the world dealt with it. However, the show wasn't picked up for another season. A thirteen episode follow-up miniseries, Heroes: Reborn, will be airing in 2015.
- The series finale of ALF sees ALF about to be rescued by survivors of his home planet, Melmac. ALF is then captured by the Alien Task Force. The original airing actually even ended with a "To Be Continued." ALF was subsequently canceled, and the result was never seen. Years later, a TV Movie "Project ALF" was aired in an effort to tie things up.
- Cybill series ends when Cybill and her friend Maryanne are captured by the police for murdering Maryanne's ex-husband Dick, with a "to be continued"
- The K Street season finale ends just as a character is about to explain the whole metaplot. There was no season 2.
- My Name Is Earl was cancelled after four seasons, with Earl still not close to resolving everything on his list. A line in Raising Hope (also created by Greg Garcia) explains that Earl did resolve his list, but does not explain how in any way.
- JAG: Last episode "Farewell and Following Seas", in the show's tenth season, ends in the middle of the toss with a coin, is it Harm or Mac who will give up career for love?
- American and British TV history is littered with literally dozens of examples of TV series that ended their runs with a cliffhanger, usually the result of the production anticipating renewal but being unpleasantly surprised. Only on rare occasions, such as with Farscape has a cancelled show been given a chance via a movie or mini-series to resolve such cliffhangers.
- Series 8 of Red Dwarf ended on a cliffhanger. Fans had to wait a full decade before Series 9 (broadcast as a three-episode mini-series subtitled Back to Earth for the series to return ... only problem: the cliffhanger was never resolved on screen. Nor was it referenced when the show produced a full-length Series X. The non-resolution of the cliffhanger has become something of a joke.
- Stargate SG-1 ended with no resolution to the current plot and only later got a direct to video release that wrapped up the current plot. It was not a case of being cancelled too soon, it was a case of writers not knowing when to stop. Ironically, the main plot that started the show off did not get wrapped up within its own show and also saw a single one shot direct to video affair that wrapped up the massive loose ends of the story.
- Las Vegas season five ended with a big cliffhanger revolving around most of the main cast with a To Be Continued tag... it was not picked up for a sixth season.
- Star Trek has Season 4, a direct continuation of the original series. The first issue, in fact, picks up immediately after the last televised episode with them transferring the (imprisoned) antagonist to another ship.
- Irony time: The Legion of Super Heroes cartoon example
abovebelow was to have the story of the third season told in the (cumbersome-named) comic book tie-in Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, which was itself canceled a few months after the show (the 20th and last issue was in November 2008).
- The final Middleman graphic novel acted as a season finale for the canceled TV series, being set in the continuity of the show rather than the previous graphic novels. Just to make things complicated, the previous (pre-TV) run of comics ended on a massive cliffhanger, which has itself never been resolved.
- Jericho had a season 3 comic book.
- Pushing Daisies received a comic book series in early 2011.
- Similarly, Fire Walk With Me was a film which was originally supposed to tie up the canceled Twin Peaks series. But this being a David Lynch flick it actually just raised about a million more questions.
- Police Squad! was canceled after just six episodes, but made millions in the cinema in the form of the Naked Gun trilogy.
- While the first Star Trek movie wasn't intended to wrap up the Original Series storyline, later movies did eventually finish it pretty much conclusively, particularly Generations.
- This is actually the case for many TV series. Back in the early days, the concept of a series finale was not that popular. Shows tended to keep running until the network canceled them.
- As well as books, a number of Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish were made with the original casts during and after the show's hiatus (though their contract with the BBC forbids them from making any play based on the new series - at least until the 2013 anniversary year when this prohibition was lifted and they were allowed to collaborate with Audio GO on one-off stories set in the revival era). Many of these were broadcast on BBC radio.
- Abstract Gender finally laid down and died despite multiple attempts by the author to revive it. He was originally going to create a second webcomic that would feature older versions of the characters and wrap up the various story lines, but it never happened. He was then going to just post the remaining scripts but stopped part way through the last chapter when life got in the way.
- Avalon ended three years of Schedule Slip with a synoptic prose epilogue.
- Chainmail Bikini was finished up with a prose outline after it was discontinued.
- The Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon had its unproduced final episode script released to the internet; it was later performed as a "radio play" on the series DVD set.
- And no, it's not the script passed around on the Internet where they found out they were dead and the world of Dungeons & Dragons is the afterlife.
- Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors had a movie planned to tie off the series. Never happened.
- Samurai Jack has had a feature film in Development Hell for some time since the show ended in 2004. It appears something's finally happening now.
- And ditto with Hey Arnold!. The reason that the film was never made is detailed here. Arnold differs from the two previous examples (and is a bit of an inversion) in that the planned movie was to resolve a relatively small aspect of the plot, Arnold's Parental Abandonment (and just what his last name is, anyway), and the last produced episode was intended as a lead-in into the movie what with Arnold finding a map of where his parents last went and all. Concept art, anyone?
- Winx Club actually got to make their movie and wrap up some outstanding plot lines after season 3. Thanks to its Cash Cow Franchise status, though, that movie didn't exactly end up being the end.
- Following its cancellation by Disney, Gargoyles received a licensed comic continuation with input from series creator Greg Weisman. The series was notable for ignoring the third season produced without his direction and exploring a different story arc. Licensing fees eventually led to the series being left unfinished.
- Reboot is now like this, having been canceled at a cliffhanger in 2001 before finally coming back in 2008 in webcomic form. Depending on how things turn out, though, this could prompt a full-out revival.
- The finale of season 3 of Dragon Booster promised that the adventures of Artha and Moordryd (and everyone else) will continue in Dragon Booster: Academy, which would also presumably wrap up loose ends such as Moordryd's betrayal of his father and Armageddon. The new season never appeared, so the producers gave a major DB fansite an overview of the Academy. It's more of a "this is how the Academy works", rather than "this is what happens to Artha and Moordryd at the Academy", though.
- Legion of Super Heroes was canceled after two seasons when 4Kids took over its airing block in 2008. It even had a fairly archetypal Season Finale Sequel Hook of the "villain's hand claws its way up from the bottomless pit" variety. As for the potential comics spin-off, see
- Sonic Sat AM ended its second season with the apparent resolution of the plot: Robotnik had been defeated, and the Doomsday Machine was destroyed. The Stinger, however, showed his flunky Snively giving an "It's my turn now"-type speech while a pair of ominous glowing eyes shone behind him. We never found out whose, until the writers were interviewed years later. The Archie Comics series attempted to fuse the series' plot with its own ongoing keep-up-with-the-games canon.
- If anyone's interested, the eyes belonged to Ixis Naugus.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes fans who want to see final battles against certain villains have to read the tie-in comics to do so. Most of the comics are written by the show's original head writer, Christopher Yost.
- Recess: School's Out was made to be a theatrical finale to Recess before being Un-Cancelled.
- King Arthur & the Knights of Justice was cancelled after only two seasons with No Ending, but the SNES Licensed Game continued the Knights' mission beyond the series' endpoint.
- After Traveler was canceled, the series' creator posted the outline of the rest of the story in his blog.
- BloodRayne 2 ended showing all the signs of being the second part of a Two-Part Trilogy, the required cliffhanger being the gathering of antagonistic factions for The End of the World as We Know It. The story was continued by the comics published by Digital Webbing until those have been cancelled (leaving their Myth Arc unresolved).
- Comics could not cover material that was to be made into DVD movies or video games. The original comic run of 2001 thus ended with the heroes achieving a small victory, but not fighting the main villain or any of the other hinted-at threats, because LEGO wanted to tell the story via a video game... which got canceled just before release. The story was then wrapped up in the Mata Nui Online Game the same year, save for one fight scene. This got included in the first 2003 novel, Tale of the Toa, and later retconned and rewritten by the 2005 encyclopedia.
- The movie The Legend Reborn ended on a Sequel Hook. When LEGO decided to ax the series, along with the sequel, the story quickly got told in the comics, a novel (published online for free) and an illustrated web-story narrated by Michael Dorn, who had voiced the movie's main character. A rough draft of the canceled sequel's story was also shared, though it was branded non-canon.
- The plot threads were far from tied up when the series got canceled. LEGO allowed the writer to keep continuing the story in online serials, which he didn't get payed for. Sadly, he had to quit after just managing a few chapters due to personal matters and his paying job. The amount of plot-lines that were still waiting to be resolved are painful.