Wrap It Up
Some shows get chopped down in their prime, leaving their fans champing at the bit for more. Sometimes these shows - like Family Guy
, 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. See also Fully Absorbed Finale
, for when a multi-work franchise devotes an episode or short arc of a continuing work to wrapping up a cancelled one.
Compare Post-Script Season
, Cosmic Deadline
. An intentionally short-term version of Un-Canceled
- 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.
- When Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog underwent a Cosmic Retcon (brought about by the lawsuit over continuing to use Ken Penders' characters necessitating them all being written out), many long-running storylines either got the ax or were quietly retooled to fit in the new reality. But the King Naugus story doesn't even get that dignity — the first issue post-retcon has Naugus be traumatized by memories of the old world, to the point that he abandons the throne without a fight and literally runs away, never to be seen again (though a Suspiciously Similar Substitute does appear some time later).
- A film series example - Saw 3D was written to wrap up the Saw series after the sixth movie underperformed at the box office.
- 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.
- 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," although the series itself had a pretty conclusive final episode. Final Break simply provided more concrete explanations for a few developments in its epilogue.
- 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.
- Due to Warehouse 13's final season being cut down to a mere six episodes, several plot lines from the previous season received this treatment. Most notably, Paracelsus's takeover of the Warehouse is handled by the end of the season premiere, while Myka's cancer scare is quickly resolved within the first ten minutes.
- HBO's Looking was cancelled after its second season, not ending on a cliffhanger but still not everything was resolved for Patrick. A made-for-TV movie aired a year later, giving the series a proper feeling of closure.
- Sense8 was one of Netflix's most expensive original programming. The company never disclouses ratings of their own shows, but it was known that the audience never reached the expected levels. The second season was released a year and a half after the first, and just weeks later it was announced that it had been cancelled. There was massive uproar in social media (considering the second season ended on a cliffhanger) and even The Wachowskis said that there was nothing they could do. Until it wasn't, and the company comissioned a final two-hour special to send off the show.
- BIONICLE skipped arcs about the Element Lords and Bota Magna in 2010 in order to get right to the final battle with Makuta, and instead of producing the planned sequels for the movie The Legend Reborn, LEGO had Michael Dorn record a web-exclusive audio retelling of the events in character. Although fans had Web serials, BZ Power, and the wiki to expand on some of the left-out storylines, these were eventually left hanging as well.
- 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.
- The Massive Multi-Fandom RPG had a "season 3.5", created in an effort to wrap up the storyline of the never-completed Season 3. For that purpose it discarded the complicated setup of the previous season—with travelling all over the world, etc.—in favor of a straightforward series of missions, interspersed with socializing at a safe home base. Unfortunately, this season ended up dying as well.
- "Phantom Planet" was a special the Danny Phantom team had to make when the show didn't get picked up for a fourth season.
- Back in 2000, Craig Bartlett's creative team was producing two feature-length movies as a way to close out the Hey Arnold! series. The first was a Made-for-TV Movie called Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, which had Helga finally confess to Arnold her love for him, and the second one was a theatrical film called Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, which would have Arnold and his class going to the jungle to find his long-lost parents, while also addressing his feelings for Helga. Unfortunately, Executive Meddling put the TV movie on theaters instead under the title of Hey Arnold! The Movie, which then proceeded to flop, essentially killing Nick's interest in the Jungle Movie, and cheating the series out of its Grand Finale. Understandably, fans were not happy about the series being Cut Short, and in 2009, they began campaigning to save the Jungle Movie. They eventually made enough of a buzz to make Nick notice the demand for the movie, and in 2015 (over a decade after the Jungle Movie was originally cancelled), Nick announced that they were working with Bartlett and his team again in order to make the Jungle Movie and wrap up all the loose ends the series left hanging. That's right; the Jungle Movie got Un-Canceled 15 years later!
- Episodes 3 and 4 of Bionicle: The Journey to One had to wrap up the story and cram plot details LEGO had likely planned for the 2017 storyline into a few minutes, because the toy-line (and the cartoon along with it) got cancelled midway through production.
- Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars aired on TV in 1991, but was cancelled. In 1992, Konami released an arcade Beat 'em Up that served as the Grand Finale, showing Bucky and his allies's final battle with the Toad Empire.