Wrap It Up

Some shows get chopped down in their prime, leaving their fans chomping at the bit for more. Sometimes these shows - like Family Guy or Jericho, for example - are Un-Canceled due to massive DVD sales or fan campaigns (and, in the case of Jericho, re-cancelled afterwards). Many more, of course, just disappear, having not built up enough support to be worth renewing.

But there's an uneasy middle-ground that every network fears: one where there are enough fans and supportive critics to make them look bad for cancelling the show, but not enough to make a new series profitable. In this instance, the safest thing to do is to commission a TV movie or miniseries to Wrap It Up, answering all the hanging questions and providing the fans with enough resolution that they won't send tins of baby food to the network or spam message boards with claims that the executives are idiots.

Alternatively, The Resolution Will Not Be Televised, and hanging questions from the TV series will be wrapped up in a theatrical release, OVA, comic book or other medium while sometimes still leaving room open for further flicks. These are, of course, pretty rare.

Compare Post Script Season, Cosmic Deadline. An intentionally short-term version of Un-Canceled.

Examples:

  • Alien Nation received five TV Movies to tie up loose ends with after FOX canceled the show.
  • The last season of Black Hole High got hastily boiled down into a Made-for-TV Movie called "Conclusions" after it was cancelled.
  • Dallas and Dynasty got wrap-up movies.
  • "Phantom Planet" was a special the Danny Phantom team had to make when the show didn't get picked up for a fourth season.
  • After it was canceled, Farscape was given a miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars, to finish it off.
  • A year after Homicide: Life on the Street was canceled, the TV Movie Homicide: Life Everlasting was made to wrap it up, and featured appearances from every Regular Character that the series ever had — even the dead ones.
  • The Pretender, which ended in multiple cliffhangers and little resolution of the major series plots, resulted in two TV movies. (And there's still threads hanging. The creators say that they can finish wrapping it up if they're given one more TV movie, but so far they haven't been given the opportunity to prove it.)
  • Prison Break was wrapped up in the direct-to-DVD "The Final Break."
    • Though the series itself had a pretty conclusive final episode. Final Break simply provided more concrete explanations for a few developments in its epilogue.
  • A film series example - Saw 3D was written to wrap up the Saw series after the sixth movie underperformed at the box office.
  • BIONICLE skipped arcs about the Element Lords and Bota Magna in 2010 in order to get right to the final battle with Makuta. Fortunately, we have Web serials, BZ Power, and the wiki to expand on that.
  • Although Stargate SG-1 made it through 10 seasons before being cancelled, it still needed two TV movies to complete the story threads left over. To be fair, much of what had to be wrapped up was from after the show's Retool at the beginning of season 9, making them relatively new arcs.
  • In a non-television example, DC Comics had an entire backup series entitled "Whatever Happened To...?" in the early 1980s devoted solely to short wrap-up stories for obscure, often long-cancelled characters.
  • ElfQuest has built up quite a few unresolved plot threads over the years due to its various stories being repeatedly Cut Short. Final Quest is addressing these with a vengeance to finally bring closure to the series.
  • Webcomic/Weregeek had the Hunters vs. Geeks plot running in the background since the beginning, and the author's original intent was to have it run right up to the (currently far-off) penultimate storyline. According to Word of God, this metaplot became less interesting to write than the personal lives of the characters, and was instead brought to an end with the first chronicle of the series. Opinion is divided on how well this was handled.