This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Unfinished Episode

This is where an episode for a TV series is considered to be made, but ultimately ends up not being produced due to complications (the most common being "The show was cancelled before it could be completed," but other roadblocks that can lead to unfinished episodes include, but aren't limited to: writers'/actors'/directors' strikes, a tragedy that makes the news and turns the episode into a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment or Harsher in Hindsight, budget restraints, and issues with cast and key crew members). In some ways, this can be considered a Missing Episode. The only difference between this and Missing Episode, however, is that while a Missing Episode is an episode that has been made, this is where an episode for a TV series never gets made.

Compare Development Hell and Vaporware, for when an episode, film, project, or product is not officially canceled but doesn't seem likely to ever be finished.

Compare Missing Episode and Banned Episode.

See also What Could Have Been.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Peter David's final issue of The Incredible Hulk is a Distant Finale with a Daily Bugle reporter talking to Hulk's sidekick Rick Jones about various stories that had happened. These plots would have been written had David not quit the series over creative differences with executives.
  • The last issue of Boris The Bear includes teasers and cover art for upcoming issues, but no more were produced.
  • An unpublished Howard the Duck story by Steve Gerber would have established the non-Gerber written Howard the Duck stories as creations by the Krylorian Chireep, much like the Rampaging Hulk stories were retconned to being the work of the Krylorian Bereet.
  • A Justice League/Avengers crossover was created 20 years before JLA/Avengers came out. The script was completed and George Perez started illustrating it but then Marvel and DC had a falling out. By the time the reconciled enough to try again the cast lineups and universe history changes necessitated scrapping the original script and starting from scratch.
  • Rumor has it that had Mark Millar not defected to Marvel Comics, there would have been one more arc of The Authority in which the team battles against Jesus Christ.
  • There were plans for The Little Mermaid comics to expand on Ariel's mother. It was scrapped for being too dark. The character was later expanded on in Ariel's Beginning, the third movie, but vastly different. In the comic, dubbed Portrait of Life, her name was Atlanta and she befriended a human named Duncan. She dies saving Duncan from an avalanche Triton made. In the movie her name is Athena and she dies by being crushed by a ship, saving her oldest daughter.
  • Dreamwave's bankruptcy and closure put a halt to the Transformers Generation One and Energon ongoing series, as well as leaving the miniseries The War Within: Age of Wrath (3 out of 6) and Transformers/G.I. Joe: Divided Front (only 1 out of 6) unfinished. Beast Wars: Shell Game didn't even get a single issue finished, although Simon Furman would recycle elements of the planned story into Beast Wars: The Gathering for IDW. A complete list of books that had been solicited and/or planned can be found on TFWiki.net here.
  • BIONICLE:
    • "Comic 12.5" of the Ignition series never got finished, though the script was made available online. It was just a short filler story anyway.
    • Graphic Novel #10: Power of the Great Beings was to be the second graphic novel with fully original content, but it never got beyond having its cover designed. It got canceled when the two previous graphic novels produced poor sales, concurrently with the toy-line ending.
  • The Valiant Comics Unity 2000 mini-series was going to cross over and merge the VH1 and VH2 universes, and a third universe would be introduced and destroyed, showing potential ideas from before the VH2 era. The mini-series was cancelled before its resolution, ending at issue #3 of 6.

    Film 
  • Ivan the Terrible Part III has a complete script, but its production was stopped by the political troubles that held up the release of Part II, and Author Existence Failure put an end to plans to resume it.
  • The fifth BIONICLE Direct-to-Video movie was scrapped along with the toy series (and the planned sixth film). The story writer shared a potential early plot synopsis online, though it's not considered canon.

    Literature 
  • Seeker Bears: A tie-in manga called Lusa's Tale was meant to be released; it got far enough that it had cover art released. However, it was cancelled when Tokyopop closed its North American operations.
  • Warrior Cats: There was to be a guidebook called Allegiances of the Clans, about the political, friendly, and romantic relationships in the Clans; however, this was cancelled by the publisher for unknown reasons. Secrets of the Clans was also to contain a short story about Fernpaw and Ashpaw leading the dogs to the gorge, but this didn't make it into the actual book.
  • BIONICLE Legends 7: Invasion was only partially written before being canceled due to poor sales. Then, the writer's computer crashed, deleting it for good.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Memory Alpha made a list. Highlights include:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series was originally going to have an episode entitled "He Walked Among Us", which would have guest starred Milton Berle. In the episode, Berle would've played a sociologist pretending to be God in a primitive community, and it would've showcased Berle's dramatic acting range. However, Gene Roddenberry was enraged when he discovered that the script for the episode had been rewritten as a comedy, so he ordered for the episode to be scrapped.
    • A Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called "Blood and Fire", featuring an openly gay couple and an AIDS allegory. Rick Berman shot it down due to the former, but it was later produced as part of the Fan Vid series Star Trek: New Voyages.
    • A Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode where Ens. Sito Jaxa from the TNG episode "Lower Decks" returns as a PTSD patient after having been imprisoned in inhumane conditions. Some elements were used in season 4's "O'Brien must suffer" episode "Hard Time".
    • A Star Trek: Voyager episode where the Doctor is forced to kill someone to protect a patient, bringing him into conflict with the Hippocratic Oath.
    • The entire planned fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise, due to the cancellation. Season 5 was to show the beginnings of the Federation and the roots of the Earth-Romulan War, and much of the material would be used in the Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch novel series.
  • M*A*S*H had a ton of them, although most were unsolicited "spec scripts" that were probably never actually considered for production.
    • "Hawkeye on the Double," the most infamous example, was originally written for the first season, in which Hawkeye is secretly seeing two different nurses at the same time, and when they both find out about each other, they both pretend to be pregnant to get back at him. The subject matter was considered too risque for television at the time, so the episode was never produced; the original script is a special feature on the complete series DVD set.
    • "Father Hawkeye Knows Best," was also written for the first season, and dealt with Frank's wife visiting the 4077th with the Congressman of Indiana, so the gang try to cover up Frank's affair with Margaret by having Margaret pretend that it's Radar she's seeing, and Frank is simply her confidant. In the end, it turns out Louise is actually cheating on Frank as well with the Congressman.
    • "The Contract," was written for Season Seven, and dealt with Klinger saving Charles's life after he was nearly killed by mortar fire when collecting rare spices in the Korean countryside; afterwards, Charles wants to repay Klinger for saving his life, while Klinger wants it in writing. (The Klinger-saving-Charles premise was later used as a subplot in Season Nine's "Operation Friendship", albeit without the contract element.)
    • "A Toast to Mildred," was written for Season Nine and has the subplots of Hawkeye indulging in a lobster cookbook from home, Klinger making his own perfume to sell, and B.J. suspects Potter is cheating on his wife with Margaret, even though they're both simply emotionally drained from Army life and had been leaning on each other's shoulders.
    • "Peace is Hell," was originally written for Season Ten, and deals with a rumor that Klinger started that a ceasefire is in effect, and the war will soon be over, which starts a chain reaction of craziness among camp; it's possible this episode wasn't produced because it's virtually recycled from Season One's "Ceasefire."
    • Reportedly, there are many other unproduced M*A*S*H scripts in existence as well; titles for these scripts have been released, but no other details are available. They: "War's a Grind" (written for Season One), "The Fighting 4077th" (written for Season One), "Yankees 7 - North Korea 8" (written for Season Two), "Hawkeye Go Home" (written for Season Three), "A Matter of Time" (written for Season Three), "The Tub" (written for Season Three), "The Key," or "Hawkeye for the Defense" (written for Season Three), "Dear Everyone" (written for Season Three), and "Up the Flagpole" (written for Season Five). Interestingly, "A Matter of Time," was written by Allan Katz & Don Reo who were later hired as producers for the show during Season Five, while, "The Tub," was written by Elias Davis & David Pollack, who were added to the writing and production staff later in Season Nine.
  • Seinfeld. "The Gun," was written as something completely different, in that it was more of a seriocomic episode that dealt with Elaine buying a handgun for self-protection and Jerry betting her that she'll never even use it; meanwhile, Kramer returns from a trip and claims to have had sex with the flight attendant in mid-flight and Jerry and George try to track her down betting that Kramer's story is bogus. The script made it to table reading, but the cast felt it was too dark and not very funny, so it was shelved and ultimately never made.
  • Douglas Adams wrote a couple of Doctor Who serials which were never filmed and later recyled:
  • Red Dwarf had scripts written for "Bodysnatcher", which was to be the second episode of the first series, and "Identity Within", which was to be a Cat episode in series 7. They were eventually included as DVD extras with storyboard images narrated by Chris Barrie. Another, "Dad", was supposed to be the first episode of series 3, resolving the series 2 cliffhanger of Lister's pregnancy, but the writers couldn't get it to work without seeming sexist. Its plot summary was included as Unreadably Fast Text at the beginning of that series.
  • A fourth season of Gilligan's Island was planned, but cancelled at the last minute. Story treatments of the Season 4 episodes are available, though a TV retrospective suggested that actual scripts had already been written.
  • There were going to be episodes of Quantum Leap where Sam leaps into an animated character and a dog.
  • One planed episode for season 2 of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (which got cancelled after the first season) had Brisco becoming the sheriff of a town.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati was going to have a 5th season Story Arc where it's harder to stay a top rated radio station than to become one, but the show was cancelled after season 4.
  • Hogan's Heroes
    • Both Werner Klemperer and Richard Dawson have hinted that a seventh season of the series, which would have included a proper finale in which the war ends and the prisoners of Stalag 13 were liberated, was in the works at the time The Rural Purge happened, thus axing the series for good after its sixth season.
    • In The '70s, Larry Hovis began work on an After Show that would have focused on the original Heroes' children fighting in Vietnam; plans for the series were abruptly halted when Bob Crane was murdered.
  • According to a Monk episode guide, there was going to be an episode where the detective solves a murder while on a cruise. The cruise line company that owned the ship was okay with it until they started making numerous demands. The producers eventually decided it was more trouble than it was worth and scrapped the episode. The script didn't go to waste though; it was adapted into the 2014 novel "Mr. Monk Gets on Board".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: A sketch John Cleese found in poor taste was written but not filmed. (There is actually some controversy amongst the Pythons themselves as to whether it was filmed or not, but certainly never broadcast.) It involved a wine connoisseur showing off his wine cellar to a visitor, and after each tasting he reveals that it's "wee wee."
  • Emergency! had several. "Richter Six" got axed due to a writer's strike, but Chet breaking his shoulder during a rescue seems to have been used in another ep. "The Long Weekend" and "High Rise" are more. "High Rise" has a similar plot to "The Steel Inferno" movie but whether it was changed into the movie cannot be proven for sure.
  • An unproduced 1960s Batman episode written by Harlan Ellison was to have featured a very psychodelic Two-Face.
  • According to her memoir, Lena Dunham once pitched an episode of Girls, based on an incident from her own life, in which Hannah has a sexual encounter that might be construed as rape. The other writers shot it down, believing that rape just isn't funny.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures was cut short because of the untimely death of star Elisabeth Sladen. Planned episodes included a season finale titled The Battle for Bannerman Road that would have seen a return appearance of Jo Grant and the destruction of the main character's neighborhood, an episode where Sarah Jane's supercomputer becomes human, an episode that would revealed Sky is technically The Trickster's "daughter", and an episode featuring the first reappearance of Ace since her departure in Doctor Who explaining through flashbacks how she and the Doctor parted ways and what she had been up to since.
  • Torchwood creators were in talks with ABBA to do a musical episode. The plan never got off the ground.
  • During the Firefly reunion, Nathan Fillion talked a bit about an idea for an episode that never got made due to the series being cancelled.
  • When Sam & Cat was abruptly cancelled, four episodes were left unfilmed, cutting its 40 episode order down to 36. Nothing is currently known about these scripts.
  • The Other Wiki has an extensive list of unmade Episodes of The X-Files.

    Web Comics 
  • Nebula: The Mercury comic, which never ended up formally published due to a Troubled Production and is not official canon. It was quietly released on a side-blog, and remains an interesting look at the comic in varying stages of development (ranging from "completely done but not colored in yet" to "a bunch of red scribbles").

    Web Original 
  • Steve D'Monster has a few of these, and most were the result of a number of artistic and/or technical difficulties.
    • "Steveazoid," which was being written for the third season, was Something Completely Different, in that it was going to be an animated episode that was both a tribute to and a parody of Freakazoid!, however, all of the original source material was somehow wiped out from the external drive they were stored on.
    • One episode intended for Season Six was to parody pine beetle PSAs that say to burn firewood where you buy, by having Steve accidentally set fire to a grocery store because that's where he bought his firewood and that's where he had to burn it. It was ultimately never produced because of then-unsuitable editing programs that weren't able to properly chromakey blue or green screen.
    • Both the six-part "Steve Inefficient Christmas" (from Season Six) and "A Day at the Gym" (Season Seven) were ultimately shelved in the end; the former because the computer used for post-production edited had its sound destroyed by a virus, the latter because it required extensive on-location filming and property owners were not generous with time. While "Steve's Inefficient Christmas" never made it beyond pre-production, some of "A Day at the Gym" had been filmed and is available for viewing.
    • One unproduced episode that was intended to be one of the final episodes had Steve find what he believes to be a $50 bill, and trying to haggle with a diner into letting him have $50 worth of desserts, only to find out that the $50 bill was actually a brochure for an insurance company.
    • Towards the end of Season Six, an Easter Episode was written where Steve goes on an easter egg hunt, by going to the library and hunting down Easter Egg; creator Joseph Scarbrough scrapped the idea on the grounds that it somewhat defeated the purpose of Easter Egg as a character, and figuring that any local library would probably not give him permission to film the entry.
  • Part 2 of Naruto: The Abridged Movie has been scripted and at least some of the voices have been recorded for years, but given the reception to Part 1, is unlikely to ever be finished.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd had this with Secret Scout on the NES.

    Western Animation 
  • Several other adaptations of The Railway Series stories were planned during the early seasons of Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • The second season was supposed to feature an adaptation of "The Missing Coach". Half the episode's footage was filmed, however mid way through production the story was considered too complicated for young audiences so canned (leaving missing plot points in Donald and Douglas' introductory story as a result).
    • An adaptation of "Gordon Goes Foreign" was planned during Season Three, though low budgets prevented them being able to produce the story's original scenery and characters.
  • Prior to John Kricfalusi's firing, several more episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show had been scripted for Season Three by Spumco's staff. Some were produced into episodes of the Games Animation seasons and the Adult Party revival, though often retooled to some degree. In addition, at least nine episodes were scheduled for Adult Party, however Kricfalusi's second firing led to its cancellation after only six episodes. Among the three planned episode, "Life Sucks" had already been storyboarded and its dialogue recorded.
  • According to Word of God, around 90 episodes worth of scripts had been made for TUGS. It was dropped after one thirteen episode season.
  • Story plans had already been made for a third season of Sonic SatAM, in which Naugus and Snively would take turns as Big Bad and Tails would develop into a main character. ABC ensured the series would never last past two seasons.
  • Dialogue was recorded for The Angry Beavers series finale titled "Bye Bye Beavers", but it was never finished or aired, as per a rule stating that Nickelodeon series finales should not have self-referential humor about the series' end. (Supposedly, Nick considered breaking the rules for it, but ultimately left it unfinished due to the fact that the episode ended with the Beavers going to Cartoon Heaven, which was thought to be too sad for kids.) It was supposed to be paired with an episode called "A Tale of Two Rangers", of which no trace exists.
  • Twenty-one planned episodes of the second season of Invader Zim were unfinished at the time of its cancellation. Of these, seven were far enough along in production to have audio and storyboards included in the Zim's House Box Set DVD release (but not, ironically, in the so-called "Complete Invasion" Box Set).
  • According to Lauren Faust, there was going to be an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic where Applejack and Rainbow Dash stumble upon a pony who belonged to a deer family, hence thinking they were a deer; the focus of the episode was whether or not the girls should tell them about his true self or just let him be who he wants.
  • SWAT Kats was canceled so abruptly that three episodes were left unfinished; they were storyboarded and the voice tracks were recorded, but they were never animated. More information (but not much) is available here.
  • When Mission Hill was cancelled, there were five episodes in varying stages of production. One, "Pretty in Pink (or Crap Gets in Your Eye)", has a full animatic, at least one, "To Grandmother's House We Go (or Freaky Weekend in the Crappy Crudwagon)", has a partial animation and the rest exist only as scripts.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has some episodes from season one that were scrapped for unknown reasons (leaving the season with 36 episodes instead of the planned 40) and one from the second season was abandoned partway because they realized it would go over budget (the season still ultimately had 40 episodes as planned). Two from the first season that were scrapped were named "The Mom" and "The Pizza", while the second season episode was called "The Rex." The latter is the only one with anything known about the actual episodenote . It's not know whether or not season three's "The Mothers"note  and "The Pizza"note  are the same as the scrapped episodes.
  • At least three such episodes are known from Beast Wars. The most famous is Dark Glass, a planned Season 3 episode which would have detailed Rattrap's attempts to upload the memories of the original Dinobot into Dinobot II, thus partially filling in a major Plot Hole in the Series Finale. It is believed to have been scrapped because the story was too dark and not action-packed enough, although the writers have, likely due to misremembering, at times suggested other reasons. Two other unproduced episodes were given the working titles A Greater Ape and "Bitch Wars" — the former was about Optimus believing himself to be a real gorilla, even joining a group of them, and was canceled because of CGI limitations; the latter was to be Girls' Night Out Episode but the concept didn't make much sense.
  • The banned Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Boston" which was intended to open the 5th season, was rejected by [adult swim] from being able to air before the creators could finish it, leaving portions of the episode not fully animated.
  • The Father of the Pride episode "The Lost Tale" was not finished when the show got cancelled, and thus is included on the DVD in animatic form.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: A few unmade episodes are known:
    • "Midnight", in which Batman is captured by a drug lord who will auction him off at midnight, leaving Robin to play detective and find where Batman is and save him. (It's unknown why this was unmade, seeing as how it gave Robin a starring role, something the network had been constantly asking for.)
    • "Mind Games", in which Hugo Strange wipes Batman, Robin, and Alfred's memories of their crime fighting ways, allowing for the villains to go on a crime spree. They soon rediscover their identities with the help of Leslie Thompkins and Batman and Robin go out to stop Strange and get their memories back. The ending would've had Hugo Strange lobotomized, somewhat similar to his fate in The Batman.
    • Another unmade episode that has yet to be named was about Batman infiltrating Blackgate Prison to stop a crime boss called Mr. Big from raising an army from inside the prison; in the end, Riddler would have saved Batman, saying that "as long as he can help it, a few lowly jailbirds won't defeat the Dark Knight."
    • Another one included Robin being forced to become more responsible and save Batman's life as Poison Ivy's toxin slowly kills him.
    • Another episode involved Bruce Wayne and a bunch of rich people being hypnotized by a magician called The Mad Maestro.
    • And yet another unmade episode concerned a friend of Bruce Wayne's turning out to be a sadistic hunter who captures Catwoman and attempts to hunt her down.
    • An adaptation of the classic story "Night of the Stalker" (where Batman mercilessly stalks a gang of robbers through the woods for killing a couple in front of their son) was planned but never filmed. Show artist Darwyn Cooke later used the idea for a short story called "Deja Vu" in his issue of the Solo anthology. Cooke has noted the line "Heh. That Starks. What the character." after Starks throws both him and Batman off a cliff seemingly to their deaths was actually written by Bruce Timm during the brainstorming sessions for the idea.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants had several unfinished episodes during its third (and originally final) season when it was cancelled. However, they were saved when the show was uncancelled, as they were finished and aired as fourth season episodes. These episodes were: The Lost Mattress, Krusty Towers, Whale of a Birthday, and Mrs. Puff, You're Fired.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnfinishedEpisode