"Wonder what will happen next...on the Internet?"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. Things can get more complicated if the author dies before finishing his work, because (obviously) he won't continue the story anywhere. A Posthumous Collaboration may attempt to fill the void, by calling some new author to finish the story. Contrast Post-Script Season, Un-Canceled. 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. Note that, with this trope, the resolution may not be televised, but it does exist in some medium. If the work is left without any resolution at all, it's Cut Short. The trope was named after The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron.
— Gerald Bald Z, Perfect Hair Forever
Examples (by medium of origin):
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- Cap'n Crunch commercial "Tidal Sog" has the Sogmaster cause a soggy wave to push the Captain and his ship behind one of three doors which close and lock behind him, trapping him inside. The ad shows two kids who were passengers on board peering over a rock, about to attempt a rescue, before ending with To Be Continued... Then, the "Free The Cap'n Sweepstakes" ad urges viewers to send in three correct answers on specially marked boxes to release the Captain from the Soggy jail. We never see a follow-up ad where the Captain is released from imprisonment. We are left to assume the sweepstakes did its work and some kid got a letter saying "the Captain has been freed". As for the Soggies and the Sogmaster, their crimes are never addressed, except for a brief confrontation with Spider-Man in the comicbook ad "The Amazing Spider-Man in the Free the Cap'n Mystery."
Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Because Gainax ran out of money, the original series had an ending that resolved nothing aside from the main character's personal issues. Eventually, a more definitive ending was released in movie form, as "The 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 Mobile Suit Gundam: 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. The same director did the same trick with Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
- Wolf's 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 Dot Hack GU 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.
- 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.
- Oreimo 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 Auditiongate led to a boycott.
- Played straight and subverted with the 1999 adaptation of Hunter x Hunter. The series originally overtook the source material before the York Shin Arc was even finished, but resolved the story with an OVA and moved on to the Greed Island arc before overtaking the manga again, which finally resulted in the original anime being Cut Short. Fortunately it was rebooted in 2011 by Mad House.
- Ai Yori Aoshi had a resolution in the manga, but not in the anime. People who watched the anime will need to read the last few tankobon to get a finale.
- Bleach had the anime end with the conclusion of the "Lost Agent" arc, but there has been no official confirmation that the manga's final "Quincy Blood War" arc will be adapted.
- Due to the closure of Manglobe, The World God Only Knows only have three animated seasons covering majority of the first 189 chapters (not counting the skipped capture arcs between Seasons 2 and 3). The rest of the manga stretches out towards chapters 190 to 268, covering one final arc in total.
- Happens all too often with anime adaptations that overtake the manga, or only cover the first two or three books in a Light Novel series.
- Jason X ends with a Sequel Hook. The story's continuation is found in comics and novels.
- Star Wars:
- The earliest of the 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 first book of the Expanded Universe, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, was intended to be a possible version of this if the movie wasn't successful enough for a proper sequel. Only featuring Luke and Leia, it was a story in which the two of them fought Darth Vader over a Force crystal. In hindsight, the attraction between the two is rather creepy; though a lightsaber duel in which Luke and Leia both fight Vader is somewhat interesting.
- In general, the Star Wars Expanded Universe filled in gaps between the movies. Though most disliked much of said changes as it often forced on to reconsider the movies in a worse light. It generally is better to simply leave things up to the imagination, as none of the EU stories are required. This is not to mention that it is a sign of terrible writing to have to mention books to justify the plot of a movie.
- 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 3D 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.
- The Grand Finale for Our Miss Brooks appeared on neither radio nor television, but instead took the form of a feature film. Miss Brooks finally achieves her Series Goal and marries Love Interest Mr. Boynton.
- 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 comic titled "After The Fall".
- 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.
- Darkhorse has also been sporadically publishing comics taking place after Serenity, with the 6-issue mini-series "Leaves On The Wind" being the most notable example.
- 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.
- Doctor Who:
- In 1987, the Sixth Doctor never received a proper sendoff story in the TV series because Colin Baker was fired from the role. Almost 30 years later, he finally got one in the form of an expansive audio play.
- 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.
- The Eighth Doctor's regeneration was finally shown in 2013, in a webcast.
- 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.
- Stargate SG-1 ended with no resolution to the current plot and only later got a direct to video release, The Ark of Truth, 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, Continuum, that wrapped up the massive loose ends of the story.
- 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.
- The final The 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.
- Dead Like Me had a Direct-to-DVD film that tied up some of the lingering plot threads.
- 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.
- This actually caused Toei some problems, since PTA groups complained that Decade's final episode was nothing but a 30-minute advertisement for The Movie, forcing them to completely redo the movie and resulting in it bearing absolutely no resemblance to the trailer at the end of the series.
- After Traveler was canceled, the series' creator, David DiGilio, posted the outline of the rest of the story in his blog.
- Marry Me was cancelled before its first season finished. Even though the episodes were finished, they never aired in the USA, even on Hulu. Overseas viewers did get all the episodes, and they did get married.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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. It 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).
- Sonic SatAM 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 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.
- After Recess was cancelled, it was given a theatrical finale, Recess: School's Out. The show was subsequently 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 the direct-to-video Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade.
- 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.
- Wakfu found itself with a "conclusion" of sorts on Steam, with The Quest for the Six Eliatrope Dofus, which is followed by a MMORPG.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars was canceled very suddenly when Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise and did not want to Channel Hop the show to any of their networks as part of the acquisition, nor did they want to keep on Cartoon Network, since this would basically allow Ted Turner to profit off of a Disney property. At this point, Season 5 just ended and multiple episodes up to Season 7 and possibly 8 were already in different stages of production. Much of that material was released in different forms:
- 13 episodes that were finished composed Season 6, which aired on Netflix and was released on DVD/Blu-Ray.
- 2 story arcs of 4 episodes each ("Crystal Crisis" and "Bad Batch") were released on Star Wars.com with incomplete animation, but finished voice-over and sound effects.
- Events of 8 episode scripts were adapted into the Dark Disciple novel.
- Another 4-episode arc was adapted into Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic mini-series.
- 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 paid 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.