Happens inTengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Simon leads an army of rebels to destroy the evil king that's forcing humanity to live underground. The mission is a success, the empire is destroyed, and everyone lives happily ever after... until it's revealed years later that the king was keeping them underground to hold off a larger enemy in space. Guess what happens next?
GaoGaiGar FINAL serves up a variation in the form of a battle with a bit of a Lensman Arms Race thrown in. Several times during the final battle between 3G and the Sol Masters, it looks as if one side or the other has won the fight only for the other side to come back and kick some more ass. First, all the good guys transform/combine and bust out their best moves, only for the Sol Masters to regenerate and "kill" the heroes. Then Mamoru gets a Determinator moment that kicks off a slew of My Name Is Inigo Montoya moments from the defeated heroes, coupled with more than a few Limit Breaks and Eleventh Hour Superpowers which seem to defeat the villains for real... only for the villains to regenerate in droves, and seemingly kill off any hope for the heroes to win...
Just when Seto Kaiba is about to save his little brother, Pegasus traps Mokuba's soul in a trading card. Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, when Pegasus actually says: "I'm afraid your Princess is in another castle, Kaiba-boy."
The central plot of Mai Hi ME seemingly gets resolved with the defeat of the Searrs Ancient Conspiracy. Even the end credits change... except that can't possibly be it, as it's only episode 15 of 26. In the next episode, a rather cruel twist is promptly thrown in.
The manga version also throws this in halfway through, when the HiME unite to defeat Nagi and the Orphans. Right after their celebration, Searrs arrives on the scene and shoots everything to hell by deposing Mashiro as headmaster and effectively holding the entire school hostage, stating that she and the HiME have outgrown their purpose now that the Orphans are "no longer a threat".
Episode 11 of Cowboy Bebop has most of the cast in a position (suffering from an unknown poison and days away from coming into human contact) where we're left to assume they all died, apparently. Episode 12 begins with Spike waking up scared from a really bad nightmare.
Naruto: Well Sasuke, you finally killed your brother and avenged your clan... wait Itachi was doing it because higher-ups at Konoha told him to? Fuck.
In the Land of Birds filler arc, Naruto, Tenten and Neji seemingly prove that the Strategist impersonated the Cursed Warrior in order to plan a coup at the end of the second episode in the arc. The arc gets more complex from there.
Subverted in Mahoujin Guru Guru. After our heroes have defeated their first boss, Kasegi Gold, the stage he appeared on lights up and the heroes freak because they think something worse is about to show up. The good news is, it's just the Old Kita Kita Man. The bad news is that, given Kita Kita Man is an old guy in a hula skirt who dances non-stop, he is arguably worse than Kasegi Gold.
In Code Geass R2 Episode 15, Charles pulls this on Lelouch. After Lelouch geasses Charles to die, which he does, he realizes that he didn't get any answers out of him and starts regretting killing him right off the bat. Wait, Charles is immortal?! Oh Crap.
Episode 22 of the first season: Wait, Euphemia's peace proposal is genuine, viable and she knows about Lelouch? My, this could not only solve the episode's issues, but the whole season's main conflict. All they need to do is to walk to the stage and announce it. But the episode is only halfway through..
Episode 23 of Solty Rei ends with Ashley and Eunomia defeated, and the city rebuilding, complete with Hard Work Montage. Unfortunately, Solty discovers that Eirene is about to pull a Colony Drop on the city. Not good.
A couple of good examples from ROD the TV: In the first episode, a nameless villain tries to take out Nenene with a bomb. He gives a little speech and gets beaten up by the Paper Sisters. Nenene waves goodbye and boards her plane back to Japan. Cue credits? Nope, turns out the bomber's brother is waiting for her on the plane. Later in the series, the sisters are sent back home to Hong Kong and what follows is a sweet episode about Anita saying goodbye to her friends at school, and Hisa trying to work up the nerve to express her feelings to Anita. The girls have their Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, and just when you think it's over, Lee strolls in, reveals that he actually works for Dokusensha, and kidnaps Nenene with a group of armed guards
Happens in many Magical Girl series, but notably in Sailor Moon S. The Dragon is cornered, Sailor Moon is powering up her attack, it's even playing the Moon Spiral Heart Attack stock footage — but it's way too early in the episode for it, the stock footage is intercut with the Dragon's reaction, and the background music hasn't segued into Sailor Moon's theme ... you're not even supposed to think this is going to work.
In Higurashi: When They Cry, the main characters are all dead, there's a nice ending monologue, and everything looks wrapped up... in the fourth episode. Turns out it is over... Onikakushi-hen, anyway...
At the end of Rebuild ofEvangelion 2.0, Shinji apparently starts Third Impact, which those who have watched the original know marks the end of things. This early? Even those who haven't would guess that it's not over given that four films are intended. Well, nope. A lance impales Unit 01 and Kaworu descends in Unit 06. Time to wait for 3.0!
The trope actually pulled double-duty; way to stop Third Impact there, Kaworu, you saved the human race! Wrong, Third Impact happened in those ten or so seconds. More than 90% of the already barely surviving human race is dead and gone. Almost the entirety of 3.0 is one side or the other of the civil war between the remnants of NERV (Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Rei and Kaworu) and everyone else seemingly about to win only for enough plot twists to arise to make M. Night Shyamalan get dizzy!
Death Note: About two thirds of the way through the full story line, Light Yagami uses Misa and Rem to defeat L and then assumes his identity, becoming the 2nd L. L-Kira exalts in finally becoming the God of the New World... Five years later, L is delighted to discover that 1st L had made provisions for his defeat; he has successors eager to avenge him and show their worth by defeating the one who killed their hero.
In chapter/episode 2, Light kills Lind L. Tailor, who claims to be L on live TV. Then the real L, still hidden, challenges Kira.
Well, Ed, after only a couple of volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist spanning a few years of misadventures and a recent attack by a serial alchemist-killer, you've finally found a guy who has that which will solve all your problems: the Philosopher's Stone. Wait, he won't give it to you? It's got a terrible secret? Well, crap.
Legend of Galactic Heroes has 'invasions to end the war' happening near constantly. Given that the show is 110 episodes long, no one is really expecting invasions in episodes 20 or 40 to really succeed.
20th Century Boys is all about a group of friendsreuniting to stop a masked cult leader known only as ''Friend'' from taking over the world, based on a pretend evil plot that they dreamt up in their youth out of boredom. The first part of the series is all about them trying to uncover the cult's plot, which they learn involves destroying Tokyo with a giant mech on the final day of the Twentieth Century. Eventually the attack happens and they set out to stop it. Seeing as how everything so far's been building up to this moment, we must be at the climax of the series, right? Nope, you're only 5 volumes into a 24 volume series, buddy. Turn's out that Friend was using the robot (which is actually a fake) so he could destroy it himself and make him and his cult look the hero, whilst framing the actual heroes. Suddenly, the story jumps forward 15 years and Friend is now the leader of an oppressive Japan, with most of the main characters scattered, in prison, or presumed dead. Oh Crap.
Wow it looks like Ryoga's training won't help him against Ranma! Listen to that victorious fight musi...wait...Ranma can't hurt him...well fuck he's screwed.
Black Cat leaves you in disbelief when it pulls this off in episode (if you are watching it on DVD and so realise that it has to end somehow at episode 24). So at episode 20, Creed Diskenth is finally defeated, and carried off by Echidna Parass after Eve disables the nano-machines in his body, making him mortal, and then Mason suddenly turns up, accompanied by Doctor, Shiki and several Chrono numbers, announcing that they plan to shape a new world order, resulting in an arc that is even more extravagant than the Apostles of the Stars arc, but that lasts just 4 episodes.
In The World God Only Knows, great job, Vulcan! Thanks to you, the cursed knife is pulled out, and Kanon is saved! Huh? Why isn't she waking up...? Apollo put herself in magical stasis to survive the curse, and we need to find your sister Mercury to get through to her? Here We Go Again.
Occurs in Fushigi Yuugi. Miaka's quest to summon the god Suzaku looks like it's on track to succeed, but when they finally get all the warriors together for the critical ceremony, it's sabotaged. This requires the good guys to go searching for the Cosmic Keystones that will allow them to try again, which takes up the second half of the series.
The Fist of the North Star TV series has a literal example of this trope as Kenshiro enters the hideout of his rival Shin to rescue his kidnapped fiance Yuria, only to be told by Shin's informant and Filler Villain Joker that Shin has moved his army to a new hideout. This also happens in The Movie, when Kenshiro arrives too late to Southern Cross after Raoh has beaten Shin and taken Yuria.
The end of the Tenrou Island arc The group manage to fend off the dark guild Grimorie Heart and protect the island. All seems well and the only matter now is to have the heroes heal up. ..And then an evil dragon unintentionally summoned appears.
Bakuman。: The main characters consistently come really close to accomplishing their dreams, only to have to restart from the beginning due to some unforeseen reason.
In Dragon Ball Z: Goku teleports himself and Cell, who is about to self destruct and take Earth with him, to King Kai's planet. Cell explodes, destroying the planetoid and killing Goku, King Kai, Bubbles and Gregory and Cell himself. It looks like the nightmare's finally over. Then Cell comes back, having managed to regenerate from nearly nothing and having received a massive power-up thanks to his Saiyan DNA (Saiyans receive a power-up after recovering from near-death).
Later, during the battle against Majin Buu, Vegeta, after a lengthy ride through the Heel-Face Revolving Door, sacrifices himself in a final attempt to vaporize the Majin. It looks like he actually pulled it off... Then Buu regenerates.
This is practically Dragon Ball's hat. You defeated the evil green demon lord with a headbutt through the stomach! Hey, what was that coming out of his mouth? Oh well. You defeated your evil brother from space! ...His much more powerful friends will be along shortly. You defeated the alien warlords! ...But the Plot Coupons that can revive your fallen comrades are on another planet, being hunted by their boss. You defeated their boss and have an Everybody Laughs Ending! ...He rises up and kills your best friend. Okay, you DEFINITELY killed him this time! ...He comes back as a cyborg. This cool new guy killed the cyborg! ...Andro-what-now?
Scott McCloud's Zot! featured a story dealing with a high school girl who is experiencing attraction to another girl. The second girl is known to her classmates to be a lesbian, and is tormented because of it. The first girl is trying to suppress her feelings. The story ends with the second girl passing the first in the hallway, and trying to be friendly. The first girl ignores her, looks very sad, and then the letters page appears, which traditionally is printed at the end of a comic. But after the letters page, the first girl calls back to the second girl in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, and a later issue shows them to have started a happy relationship. (In the collected edition, the letters page was replaced with commentary by McCloud, so it still works.)
In one Captain Marvel story, Billy Batson is forced to storm a tower in his normal form to rescue his sister. (The tower was indestructible, and the openings and passages are really small because the villains were tiny aliens). After going through hell, when he finally reaches the top... Mary was in the next tower over all along.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Case 5: Turnabout Substitution: So, you've proven Judge Chambers innocent of the murder against Robert Erlenmeyer, even proving Erlenmeyer was never killed to begin with. And in one day, too! Good job! But wait! Shortly afterwards, you get a new defense request, and this time someone really is dead: Judge Chambers. And the defendant is Robert Erlenmeyer, too. Good luck with that.
Chapter 19 of Retro Chill has this. The antagonists have all been trapped in frozen time forever, and the heroes have all gone home. Of course, one of the other villains had been left there to conquer the Earth, and the 20th and final chapter deals exclusively with this.
In Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin gets Dr. Evil arrested in the very beginning, making it clear that something will inevitably go wrong. Dr. Evil even does a musical number pointing this out ("Austin caught me in the first act/it's all backwards, what's with that"?).
The Halloween (2007) remake features the famous exchange in which Michael Myers is compared to the boogeyman. For those who watched the original, movie's over, right? Not exactly ...
Dragonslayer. The villagers celebrate when Galen causes an avalanche to block the dragon Vermithrax's cave entrance, despite never seeing the dragon actually die or taking into consideration that there might be more caves leading out of its lair. All Galen did was piss it off.
In Poltergeist, Tangina Barrons successfully tells the malevolent ghosts to cross over, sends Diane in after Carol Anne, declares "This house is clean", and departs. The next scene feels like you should be reaching for your coat and gathering up your empty popcorn buckets; the family is happily reunited and getting ready to leave the house forever. But then all hell breaks loose, the "Beast" attacks again, the sinister clown you've been waiting all movie to go berserk finally does, coffins erupt out of a swimming pool, and the entire house implodes. THEN the movie is over.
Partly subverted in the original Prime Suspect. From the start the police have an obvious suspect and appear to be well on the way to solving the case. They even anticipate beating the force record. But if you thought "it can't be him", you're wrong. It was him, and at no point is there any suggesting that they had the wrong suspect. It just turned out to be a bit more difficult to prove it than they thought.
The Ring movies lead to a (seemingly) climactic scene in which the heroine goes inside the well to find the earthly remains of the Cursed Video's creator. These scenes are filled with dread and anticipation, as the heroine is minutes away from the 7-day deadline (and so, it's a race against her own death.) When they do find the body, the movies release the tension as though the whole plot had been a "give the ghost a proper burial and give her peace." The American remake is particularly blatant about this angle. Cue the heroine returning home, having defeated the curse... only to find out her ex-husband didn't, finding the body did nothing, and the terror comes back full-force. "You weren't supposed to help her." Gee, thanks, Aiden, you could have told us that half an hour ago.
Or, arguably, even earlier. Joker's in the MCU and Batman can rest easy... then MCU blows sky-high, as does Rachel Dawes.
In Clash of the Titans, Perseus frees the city of Joppa from its curse fairly early in the film, and the good guys throw a big party — only for a much worse crisis to then present itself before they're even through celebrating.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Sam initially think their journey is over after they get the Ring to Rivendell for safekeeping at around halfway through the movie. Unfortunately, Elrond realizes that they cannot keep it there, and Frodo accepts the task of destroying it.
There is another moment around this time, after the council of Elrond, when the Fellowship is formed. The nine stand in a pretty line, Elrond pronounces "you shall be the Fellowship... of the Ring!", the theme swells and half the audience start to retrieve coats, finish off drinks and generally make ready to leave. Then find out there's another hour and a half to go. And, in some cases, hadn't realised that even then there were two more films before ring meets lava.
Also, Sam thinks his journey is over when the fellowship reaches Redhorn Mountain, which he confuses with Mount Doom. Not that it isn't a mountain of doom by itself.
In the book you would think everything is done once the Ring is destroyed, but then we have the Scouring of the Shire, which was left out of the movie for both this reason and lack of time.
Happened in Spy Game. Robert Redford thinks he's successfully plotted to rescue Brad Pitt, starts walking out of the building, hands his tag to the security guard, jubilant music plays... and we're only an hour into the movie.
Se7en. You think the movie is about catching the serial killer, do you? Well, he gives himself up when there's half an hour of movie left.
In The Haunting in Connecticut, after Reverend Popescu finds Jonah's remains and removes them from the house, he assures the Campbells that the house should now be safe, and drives away. As it turns out, this only makes things worse— Jonah wasn't a malevolent spirit, but was trying to protect the family from the real evil force in the house, the angry ghosts of the people Aickman desecrated with his necromancy.
Casino Royale featured a lovely ending: Le Chiffre has lost and died and James Bond gets The Chick he's been eying for the entire movie. They kiss and begin a romance. Everything is hunky-dory ... then Vesper betrays Bond, running away with the cash to pay her fiancee's ransom.
In Doomsday, the protagonist has dealt with both Sol and Kane, and is on her way to the border with the MacGuffin. Sol shows up for round 2.
Air Force One has been secured, the (surviving) hostages freed, the hijackers killed, and the evil general has been stopped from getting out of prison. Of course, they are still in the middle of hostile airspace, with enemy MiGs now closing in with the failure of the hijacking plot, and Halo Flight'sF-15s still haven't had the chance to do anything really cool. Oh, and the traitor still hasn't been caught.
Occurs in Dark Star, where the self-destruct has seemingly been aborted.
In Twelve Monkeys, James Cole finally figures out who the Army of the Twelve Monkeys are: Relatively harmless pranksters. Convinced that the Bad Future was just a figment of his imagination, he books a flight to the tropic with Kathryn. But before he can board the plane he receives an another message from the future: The End of the World as We Know It is at hand and he can still stop it.
Speed did this multiple times. First it appears that the Big Bad will be caught when they figured out who he is. It turns out it was a trap. Then later they managed to get all the passengers out of the bus safely without the villain knowing and sets a trap to capture him. But he caught on and the movie still goes on. Then the villain is finally killed. Yet there's still a couple more minutes of movie time left.
In Zardoz, the scene where Zed reveals how he learned Zardoz was actually The WiZard of Oz makes you think the movie's wrapping up when, in fact, there's still almost an hour to go.
Aliens. Ripley rescues Newt from the Hive, they escape the planet along with Hicks and Bishop just before the fusion reactor explodes, and all seems well. Then it turns out that the Queen Alien hitched a ride.
Jack the Giant Slayer: Roderick is dead, the princess is saved, the beanstalk has been chopped down, stranding the giants in their land... Shame on you if you expected the movie to end at this point.
In Jack Reacher, the titular hero takes out the bad guys guarding a building where he assumes a hostage is being kept, only to find out the building is empty and the hostage is in another building close by.
In Edge of Tomorrow, William Cage's connection to the alien Hive Mind starts to give him visions of the Omega alien's location. Much of the movie is spent with him using his "Groundhog Day" Loop ability to try to find a survivable path to it. After numerous setbacks and failures, he finally reaches the location on his own only to discover that the visions were a trap, and that the Omega was never really there.
Subverted in the final book of the Sorcery! series, The Crown of Kings - it turns out you were in the right castle in the first place.
Agatha Christie is the queen of this trope. If there are more than twenty pages left to go, there's a twist on the way.
In H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, the Old Man Whateley prophesied a grandson of him will cry the name of his father on the mountaintop. Not many paragraphs later Wilbur Whateley screams the name of Yog-Sothoth on the top of the mountain... but the story still has six chapters to go. Turns out Lavinia Whateley had another son.
There's a fairly nasty use of this in Tad Williams' epic fantasy series Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Near the end, as the heroes are fighting their way into Green Angel Tower for the final confrontation with the Storm King, they encounter Evil Sorcerer Pryrates finishing off the last of the heroic army's decoy soldiers. Miriamele catches him by surprise and apparently kills him with a Norn arrow. Of course, it's not that easy, as he proceeds to get up a moment later, complete with Evil Gloating.
In the first Kate Daniels novel, Kate finds the bad guy right where they were supposed to be, foils the evil plot and the evil back up plot, and even manages to go on a semi-successful date. Only something keeps nagging her — catching the bad guy was too easy and there are too many loose ends. None of the other characters believe her, but the reader does because we're only 75% through the book. And sure enough, the next chapter has another body turn up.
The Soviet fleet carrying out The Hunt for Red October has withdrawn after the eponymous sub's apparent scuttling and the defectors seem home free about 80% into the book. Cue one lingering Soviet attack sub and its attempt to take the October down.
In The Colour of Magic, where the words "THE END" are followed immediately by another four pages of story, fooling nobody.
Done superbly in Laurens Van Der Post's "A Story Like the Wind." It initially seems like a story about a French boy growing up in Africa, coming of age, dealing with the death of his father, and falling in love. The book winds down with most of the plotlines reasonably tied up... then in the last eleven pages, revolutionaries show up and kill almost everyone. Then you realize that the entire first book was there to convince the reader that Francois really is awesome enough to pull off all the crazy stuff he does in the second book, beginning with him sneaking past enemy lines back to his house and blowing it up.
The Armageddon Inheritance makes good use of this. You've destroyed the enemy vanguard with a supernova, you've successfully lured the main body of their fleet into a trap and what's left is running away with their tails between their legs. Wait, what do you mean they've still got another quarter of a million ships, which just happen to be their largest and most powerful designs? But we've not even got two dozen ships left! And our flagship has engine damage!
In Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore risk life and limb, and give Draco the opportunity to invade the school, to get their hands on one of Voldemort's horcruxes. Dumbledore dies, Snape betrays them all, Neville is seriously hurt, and Bill is permanently scarred. And then the Horcrux turns out to be a fake; the real one was stolen years ago. Sorry Harry, but your Horcrux is in another castle.
In Deathly Hallows, when they go to Godric's Hollow because they think Gryffindor's sword is there, they end up being ambushed by Nagini disguised as Bathilda Bagshot, and as it eventually turns out, the sword was never there after all - Snape had it all along.
In the third Fablehaven book it turns out that one of the artifacts has been moved. When Kendra and her allies attempt to retrieve the artifact hidden in the Lost Mesa, it turns out that Patton Burgess, a previous Fablehaven caretaker, had long ago moved the artifact to a new location in Fablehave for safekeeping... shame that three people had already died getting in before they found that out.
Used in Binary by "John Lange" (a then pen-name of Michael Crichton, not to be confused with "John Norman", a pen name used by Dr. John Frederick Lange, Jr. to write his Gor novels). The Big Bad, John Wright, plans to release nerve gas in San Diego, killing the President and a few hundred thousand bystanders. When Wright finds out that federal agent John Graves is investigating him, and that Graves is likely to stop at the obvious solution, he devises two release mechanisms for the nerve gas, one obvious, one invisible.
Every Lensman book that stars Kimball Kinnison (Galactic Patrol, Grey Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen, and possiblyChildren of the Lens) end with him and the rest of Civilization thinking that they've finally for real this time finished off the Boskonian empire.
In the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy, Kate sacrifices herself to the goblin King, Marak, and becomes his wife in order to save her sister, Emily. Sad ending, right? Nope. The story then skips ahead more than a year for the last few chapters and introduces a new sorcerer villain who is out to enslave the goblins.
In Warrior Cats: Omen of the Stars book The Fourth Apprentice, the heroes are about to have their confrontation with the beavers, but there is still a quarter of the book left. Cue the heroes being on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle and having to find a different way to defeat the beavers.
Also in Warrior Cats, during the Graystripe's Adventurespinoff, the plot was about getting home to the Clans. At the end of Warrior's Refuge, Graystripe and Millie finally manage to reach Graystripe's forest, but as everyone who was following the series knows, the forest was destroyed and the Clans left to find a new home. This led to the events of the final book in the spinoff, Warrior's Return.
David Eddings' Belgariad has a very bad case of this. We're repeatedly told that the fight between Garion and Torak is going to be the end of all the fighting, the war between dark and light, all of it. And then suddenly the Malloreon comes along and tells us that no, the fight was a big event, but actually there's another thing that has to happen, and then it's going to be over.
Live Action TV
Multiple episodes of House seemingly end with House and his cronies having cured the patient du jour, only for them to develop a crazy (and often, violently disgusting) new symptom, deepening the mystery. One episode did the opposite; they let their patient die, but then, just as they start the autopsy...
"The Lazarus Experiment": Lazarus has been seemingly defeated, and his prone body is being loaded into an ambulance. But it's only the beginning of the third act, so he turns back into a monster and kills the ambulance crew.
The show also does something similar in the episode "Utopia". Up until then the new series had only had two-part season finales. That season seemed to follow this, as the problem of the episode had been solved by the end... but a new problem shows up at the same time, as the Master comes back, leading to a Cliff Hanger into the last two episodes.
"The Invasion of Time": The Doctor's Xanatos Speed Chess against the Vardans has paid off, and everyone's ready to celebrate, but wait... what's this? Sontarans?!Oh Crap. Partially spoiled by the BBC announcer who called it a six-part serial from the start, confirming that things wouldn't be resolved by the end of episode 4.
"A Good Man Goes to War" pulls this, as The Doctor's plan succeeds brilliantly with almost no loss of life... except the episode's only half over, the Headless Monks may still be lurking around, as they have no actual life signs to monitor, Melody is revealed to be part Time Lord, and everything generally goes to hell as the monks launch a counter attack. Then, the bad stuff begins to happen. Madame Kovarian pulls the rug out from everyone by showing she still has Melody, and the "Melody" they thought they had rescued was just a Ganger, and, oh, yeah, River Song reveals herself to be Melody, all grown up.
The very end of "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" two-parter. The day has been saved, including restoring CAL and bringing back Donna along with four thousand other vanished people, but River died in a Heroic Sacrifice stopping the Doctor from doing the same. The camera lingers on River's diary and sonic screwdriver as the Doctor and Donna walk sadly away, with a voiceover from River musing that travel with the Doctor always ends, and everyone dies eventually...but the Doctor will never accept that, and he dashes back onto the screen, grabs the screwdriver, and goes into a mad rush to save River with a minute left in the episode.
The end of "Phase One" of Alias. The Alliance has been destroyed, Sydney and Vaughn have kissed... then Francine gets offed with a headshot by someone who's been genetically altered to look like her.
Naturally, a twist-loving show like LOST does this a few times.
A notable example is the third season finale, at the end of which Jack has called a boat that appears to be coming to rescue them, the Others have been largely defeated, Ben is a captive, the Rousseaus have been reunited, and everyone is cheering and ready to leave forever. This seems like a good time to end the season and perhaps even the series (massive unanswered questions notwithstanding). But there are still 4-5 minutes left in the episode, just enough time for one final flashback revealing the episode's flashbacks have actually been flashforwards to a time when Jack and Kate have been rescued, and Jack desires to return to the island.
The season 5 finale seems to resolve both major plotlines (the hydrogen bomb and pilgrimage to Jacob) by the end of the episode, but cuts back to 1977 for one final, short scene in which a still-living Juliet whacks the bomb until it explodes.
There are three episodes that involve a sudden final flashback to a character uninvolved with the main centricity, usually revealing a plot twist. The first is season 2's "Dave," where a Libby flashback shows she was in the same mental ward as Hurley. The second is season 6's "Ab Aeterno," where a flashback shows the Man in Black conversing with Jacob in 1867 about the former's attempt to kill the latter. And the third is season 6's "Everybody Loves Hugo," where a Desmond flashsideways shows him intentionally hitting Locke with his car, then speeding off.
24 does this so frequently that it can be considered a mainstay of the series. Any time the good guys raid a location in which they suspect the Big Bad is hiding, you only have to check the episode number to know how the scene will end.
The sixth season plays right into this by having Jack stop the terrorists seven hours early. The plot then changes to focus on the Chinese holding Jack's assumed dead girlfriend hostage.
After spending twelve hours running around L.A. as a glorified errand boy, Jack kills Big Bad Ira Gaines in only the thirteenth episode of the first season. However, CTU soon learns about a heretofore-unmentioned second assassin who has flown in to kill Senator Palmer.
Midway through season four, Jack and Paul Raines hole up in a sporting goods store and defeat a group of military commandoes. This is accomplished with twenty minutes left in the episode, leading people to suspect something's up. Then, the guy who hired the commandoes (who wasn't quite dead) shoots a supporting character, and the focus turns to saving one of two critically-injured people in CTU's medical wing.
Season seven did it again in episode ten... the master list of every government official on Dubaku's payroll has been found and safely delivered to the FBI. Of course, The Mole tries to crash the system and erase the file...only for Chloe to get it back. Since we hadn't yet hit the halfway point of the season, there has to be more...and there is, as the previews have a very confusing montage of people running, another terrorist attack and President Taylor almost(?) getting killed. Sorry, Jack, but it's only six p.m... what did you expect?
Most of the season finales fall under this:
In the final episode of season one, Jack kills Andre and Victor Drazen before the episode is half over, leading people to think that he's solved the main plotline. He gets to talk to his daughter, and promises that everything's alright...then, when he's driving back to his office, he gets the surveillance footage for Jamey Farrell's holding cell when she died earlier in the day, and realizes that Nina is the mole.
Jack kills Peter Kingsley at the end of season two (and the main plot regarding falsified audio recordings is solved)...but there's still twenty minutes left in the show, which means several cliffhangers are set up.
The first ten minutes of the season four finale are spent with Jack successfully stopping the terrorists and destroying the nuclear missile headed towards Los Angeles. Except there's still half-an-hour left in the show, which is spent detailing Jack faking his own death and going on the run.
President Logan is arrested in the season-five finale! And Jack even gets to make a phone call to Kim, who he hasn't talked to in...wait, why are there fifteen minutes left in this episode?
One episode of starts with the detectives investigating the robbery of a safe deposit box vault and the murder of a guard. This case is solved quickly, but amongst the loot recovered from the thieves is a gun used in a 30 year old murder that had been in one of the boxes. Cue segue into a new investigation.
There was also the time the perp was caught and plead out by about :20, only for McCoy to decide to go after the makers of the illegally modified pistol used to commit the crime.
There was the time there was a rash of serial killings of young teenaged black boys that looked like copycat killings of a white supremacist McCoy successfully prosecuted years ago. The detectives discover the killer is a black religious fanatic who confesses to everything...and reveals he was no copycat. He was the original serial killer all along. The white supremacist was innocent. The rest of the episode focuses on the mounting legal troubles McCoy faces for this blunder. It turns out his female assistant (and lover) at the time deliberately withheld evidence that would not only have cleared the white supremacist, but also pointed to the real killer.
One of the best examples is an episode which starts off with a murder that is resolved in the first twenty minutes - then out of nowhere it's discovered that one of the possible suspects is not the father of who he thinks is his daughter. This thread goes on for a while and it ends with his arrest for murdering his wife so that he can keep his daughter - but there's still twenty minutes left. Turns out while Eliot was arresting the perp, his wife went into labor * and* got in a car crash...
Babylon 5 ends the major conflict that drove the show (the Shadow war) just six episodes into season four. The remainder of season four was mostly about resolving the secondary conflict of the show (President Clark's regime on Earth), and the entirety of season five consisted mainly of tying up loose ends.
The story had originally been planned with a five-season arc (though the Shadow war would have, even in the original plan, been wrapped up during season 4). Then, at the beginning of writing season 4, the creators were told that they were not going to get a fifth season, so they set about compressing the original plotline so they could wrap almost everything up by the end of season four (with the exception of the Centauri Prime arc, which would've been resolved in the canon novels). Then they discovered they were getting a fifth season after all on a different network, but by that time it was too late to rewrite. As a result, what would've been most of the first half of season 5 is compressed into 3 episodes at the end of season 4, and the arc with Byron's telepaths was stretched out over the broadcast fifth season's first half in order to fill the gaps.
It's also another remnant of the parallels between B5 and The Lord of the Rings - there's the entire "Scouring of the Shire" part after the Ring is destroyed, and there are quite a few similarities between that storyline and the rest of Season 4.
In Mathnet story, "The Case of the Parking Meter Massacre", the culprit, played by celebrity guest Wayne Knight, was caught on Wednesday. Naturally, there was a copycat criminal out and about.
Happened on quite a number of occasions on American Gothic. The two most memorable would have to be "Resurrector", when after a morality tale of a radio talk-show host, his seemingly murdered wife, and Buck in one of his most despicable acts of Magnificent Bastardry, the interspersed attempts of Caleb to bring Merlyn's spirit back to him results in decidedly mixedresults; and "The Buck Stops Here", where after the sheriff is killed and Caleb becomes a regular little Damien, nearly killing Gail and bringing the whole town, even Selena, under his thrall, we are treated to the last shot of Buck's eyes opening in his grave.
"Lay Down Your Burdens", the second season finale of Battlestar Galactica. At the 55-minute mark everything seems returned to the status quo, even if Roslin had a rig an election for it. Then Gaeta uncovers the fraud, and the extended-length episode runs for another 30 minutes setting up the first story arc of season 3.
Played straight with freaking Revelations. They find Earth, huzzah! But there's still half a season left, and all is not joyous as it seems.
The cliffhanger version of this trope happens in "Kobol's Last Gleaming". Boomer discovers beyond all doubt that she's a Cylon, but blows up the basestar as ordered. It appears next season will be about how Boomer copes with this newfound knowledge. Instead her Cylon side forces the issue by shooting Adama twice in the chest.
In the Psych episode "Tuesday the 17th", it was clear something else was up when the mystery was solved at the half hour mark. The fact that the first part was a spoof of April Fools should have been a clue for what was coming next.
One episode of Joan of Arcadia has Joan and her friend Grace resolve their differences and then sit on the porch while the camera pulls away, a song plays, and the screen fades out. There was still twenty minutes left.
This happens so often in Chuck that it's almost become part of the usual plot formula.
The second season finale is particularly bad. The bad guy's been defeated, the wedding was ruined, the wedding was saved, everything's set up for the next season! And there's still another ten minutes to go.
Leverage does this every week. Their plan is working perfectly, then somewhere between the 20 minute mark and the 40 minute mark something goes awry and they have to improvise.
He keeps digging in the pilot after the seemingly obvious suspect has been arrested because his writer's sensibilities are offended by the killer's identity being 'too easy' ("The reader would never buy it!"), and he's often quick to point out when he thinks a likely suspect is a Red Herring.
Done extremely effectively in one episode when, after the killer commits suicide, Castle is shown going over crime scene photos with about 5 minutes left in the episode, only to deduce that the body they found was Not Left Handed, the real killer faked his death, and Beckett's life is still in danger. Very effective if you didn't realize that this episode was the first half of a two-parter.
Every season of Farscape ends on one of these, with the cliffhanger usually resolved in the first episode of the next season. Season Four's finale was especially flagrant, as it teased the viewer with the prospect of an actual happy ending in the Farscape universe before shattering that pipe dream.
In The Amazing Race, this is used on the contestants themselves in Seasons 7, 8, 9, and 14. The teams get a clue telling them to go to mat and find Phil, only to have him tell them that the leg is not over, and hand them their next clue.
In order to save The Multiverse, Kamen Rider Decade was tasked with the mission of going over to 9 worlds of the Heisei Riders and helping the Riders there. Once he's finished with all 9 worlds, Decade and crew seemingly return to their home dimension. However, Decade soon learns that it's not over; not by a long shot. The dimension they returned to was not their home. Decade's Quest for Identity, which was his ulterior motive in this mission, still draws blank. There's Dai-Shocker waiting in the shadows for their Great Leader to return so that they can start their conquest. Finally, The Multiverse is still on the brink of destruction.
This happens again in Double. The duo finally defeat Ryubee Sonozaki and it seems that everything is coming to a close. Cut to Kazu carrying Wakana's body. The kicker? Shotaro even knows it's not the end due to them not finding Wakana's body.
In Prison Break, happens all the time, but the worse is the series finale when the gang are all cleared with twenty minutes to go. Michael and Sarah are walking down the beach, talking about their future, when Michael starts bleeding from the nose. The flash forward has him dead.
You can count on this happening two or three times on any Quantum Leap episode, as Al's suggestions for how to set things right wind up having worse consequences and Sam has to change something else.
In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, every time they thought they'd found the next jewel, it turned out to only be the next clue, which led to the next, and the next, etc. Of course, the clues were also often powerful devices on their own.
White Collar: "Free Fall", Neal, in the belief that he had finally found his Love Interest Kate, storms into a hotel room to rescue her. She is not there.
Stargate SG-1 had a tendency to play this trope, notably in the search for the lost city of Atlantis, and the quest for the Holy Grail/Sangraal/Anti-Ori weapon. In the latter case, the team was actually presented with what they thought was the object, only to discover that it was a hologram.
In the Sherlock episode A Study in Pink, John manages to track Sherlock and the killer to a college composed of two separate, almost identical buildings. After frantically running through one in an attempt to find the pair, he arrives in a room that looks exactly like the one they're actually in only to see that they're in the opposite building, paving the way for a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when John shoots the killer... From the other building, through two windows, with a handgun.
In The Great Game, Sherlock's infamous arch-nemesis Moriarty, having seemingly left Sherlock and John unharmed following a tense showdown involving explosives and a sniper, returns at the last minute, declaring "I'm so changeable!" as additional snipers reveal themselves. At this, Sherlock aims a handgun at the previously mentioned explosives, before the shot cuts to a Black Screen of Death... Cue a year-long wait for season 2.
In the penultimate episode of Once Upon a Time Season One, "An Apple Red as Blood", Snow White and friends successfully launched a daring rescue for Charming... only to find that her prince was in another castle.
Happens from time to time in Sliders. Whew, we're home! No, we're not. It's just very similar. Dang.
CSI: NY 'Hung Out To Dry', the first ep of the multi-season Shane Casey storyline. The ep's over and he's arrested, everything's tied up. Whoops, he just escaped from custody...
Similar to the Sherlock example, one episode of Scrubs has Turk being stuck in surgery, making him late for his wedding. His boss lets him leave early and he arrives at the church just in time (the priest is about to leave), only to accidentally arrive at the wrong church. Though when Turk later goes to check on a patient after the wedding, the patient is revealed to be a priest, so he and Carla are still able to get married that night.
The Fake-Out Fade-Out is the music world's version of this. A famous example would be the one in "Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles. Sometimes it's just a little postscript riff, like in "Wonderwall" by Oasis.
Encores at concerts. Although audiences usually expect them (especially if a band hasn't played its biggest hit yet), bands will typically pretend the show is over at the end of the main set, maybe even thanking the audience and saying good night.
The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" also does this. Twice. Which turns into a video games example when songs containing one show up in Rock Band or Guitar Hero.
The video for Tupac Shakur's "Changes", the first song released after his death, does this very impactfully. For two verses Tupac raps about social issues and the problems of the black underclass over clips from his previous videos and from rare home videos. At the end of the second verse, we see a collage of video and audio clips from Tupac's life, while in the background Tupac speaks over a fading chorus. It ends with the collage resolving into a mosaic depicting Tupac's face, a fitting memorial to his life and work... and then the third verse starts up with the words, "And still I see no changes; Can't a brother get a little peace?"
A few years before Tupac's death, Oingo Boingo recorded a song called "Change" that glides to a comfortable ending after 15 minutes, only to return for the final verse and chorus.
Subverted in one version of the children's song "Be Kind To Your Fine Feathered Friends," which cuts off—much earlier than you'd expect it to—with the words "You may think that this is the end...and it is." The other version ends "You may think that this is the end...and it is, but there is another ending. This is it."
Could also be the 'hidden tracks' on some albums as well. Jay Z did this on his album The Blueprint, with the final song 'Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)' ending, then two more full songs, 'Lyrical Exercise' and 'Girls Girls Girls Remix' playing on the same song number of the CD.
Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" has a fake ending somewhere about halfway through, where a thrilling double fugue culminates in the entire orchestra blasting out the opening theme in a seemingly triumphant manner, pipe organ and all. After a moment of silence, the orchestra resumes playing what it had been, only much more slowly and faintly. (The actual ending is quiet and deliberately anticlimactic.)
The Monty Python's Flying Circus song I'm So Worried has three verses that could be the last verse in succession, with the latter two being about the singer's concerns that he should have ended the song with the previous verse.
Stone Temple Pilots' Plush seems to end about 3/4 of the way through, for only about half a second, when it picks up again.
An alternate recording The Beach Boys made of "Help Me Rhonda" has the repetition of the refrain and the end with alternating stanzas fading out then slamming in at normal range on the ensuing stanzas.
This happens in Carpenters' "I Believe You". The first time you hear what appears to be the final verse that slows down and stops a bit, you think it's over but then, BAM! A repeat of the bridge and the final verse again, this time once more.
Any time Money in the Bank is cashed in right after the Champion had already won a hard-fought title match. Notable examples include Edge cashing in on John Cena after an Elimination Chamber, CM Punk cashing in on Jeff Hardy after a ladder match with Edge, and The Miz cashing in on Randy Orton after a title match with Wade Barrett. The last one is particularly notable because it happened on an episode of Raw and anyone who looked at the clock after Orton beat Barrett would have guessed that something like this would happen.
At Elimination Chamber 2010, Batista pulled this on John Cena after his grueling match by simply requesting an immediate title shot from Vince McMahon.
Shane McMahon pulled this on Triple H when he faced Mideon and Viscera in a handicap casket match. Triple H had put Mideon in the casket and thought he had won, but Shane, who had been assaulted by Triple H not long ago, clarified the ruling that he had to put BOTH Mideon (nearly 300lbs) and Viscera (nearly 500lbs) in the casket at the same time. Obviously, Triple H didn't stand a chance.
Averted at Money in the Bank 2011 by CM Punk, who kicked Alberto Del Rio in the head and fled the arena before Del Rio could cash in his contract following Punk's hard-fought WWE championship victory over John Cena.
Probably one of the biggest examples of 2013 happened at SummerSlam. It was Daniel Bryan going up against then WWE Champion John Cena for the title. After a long, hard fought match, Bryan pulls off what people thought he never could when he entered the company, and defeats Cena with a new finisher to finally claim the WWE Championship. He's celebrating, Triple H is congratulating him (he was Special Ref for the match), the streamers are coming down. History has been made...then Randy Orton storms down with the Money in the Bank briefcase. The good news for Bryan at the time was that A) he still was healthy enough to at least attempt to fight off Orton and B) Orton had pretty much reminded everyone every week that he would probably cash in at SummerSlam. Orton seemed to agree and started to walk away, and thus Bryan resumed his celebration. THEN Triple H turns him around and Pedigrees him. Orton hands in the briefcase, pins Bryan, becomes the new Champion and thus the new Corporation-like faction was born.
Often, a wrestler will win a hard-fought match, only to be assaulted from behind by another wrestler whom they weren't feuding with (yet). For example, in 2011 TNA, Velvet Sky had just handily defeated Winter, Angelina Love, Jeff Jarrett, and Karen Jarrett. She had declared that she will put these rivalries behind her and get into the Knockouts Title hunt. She starts saluting the crowd and walking to the back... only to be assaulted by ODB, who hasn't been seen in about a year. A few weeks later, Velvet beats ODB in a street fight... only to be assaulted by Jackie Moore, who hadn't been seen for about two years.
The Merchant of Venice. Shylock has been defeated! The eponymous Merchant is saved! Mercy's quality avoids straining! Everything the audience cares about is over! Meanwhile, in Act Five...
This trope is the raison d'etre of the Sondheim musical Into the Woods. At the conclusion of the first act, all the subplots are resolved and every fairy tale character is literally singing Happy Ever After. After the intermission, of course, consequences of the first act unfold, and everything goes to hell.
Averted with Into The Woods Junior, a Bowdlerised version of the play for children's school and community theater productions that literally omits the entire second act.
And in the Famicom and Virtual Console versions of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels you have to play through the game seven more times without warping to reach the final four worlds and the true ending.
Super Mario Bros. 3: Parodied when the Princess herself says it as a joke. Also, the entire World 8 is technically this trope. Your original mission was to save the kings of seven different kingdoms from Bowser. You do that and you're supposed to think the game's over, only to find out that while you've been out saving kings, Bowser has taken the princess and you must travel to his world to save her.
Super Mario Land had Mario rescue a fake princess after every boss, which quickly turned into a monster (based on the theme of the world) and ran off.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay has the eponymous character escape from parts of the game's also eponymous prison complex, every time seemingly ending the game, only for Riddick to be apprehended and thrown into a more heavily guarded block. Notably even after the player escapes from the last one (where the prisoners are stored in a cryonic state) the game still pulls this trope by throwing in a last Boss Battle.
The game also lampshades this during the first level/tutorial where Riddick manages to get away before he even enters the jail. The catch? He was dreaming.
Assault on Dark Athena features the entire Butcher Bay campaign (remade with 7th-gen technology) and has a gigantic Not So Fast Bucko by way of the ending leading directly into a new campaign of equal length to the original game.
Done quite right in Final Fantasy V: the "floating continent" incident happens at one third of the game, at the fourth of four crystals; there are still magic and stuff missing. Then you can get almost everything, and go to a convincing and very hard in context The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Once won you get an ending montage; but the worlds still have to merge, several towns have to be swallowed by the void, and you have to go into the Void to finish Exdeath once and for all.
Done once again way back in Final Fantasy Adventure, where you finally meet up with and kill Dark Lord. Then Julius throws you down the waterfall. Again.
Ōkami has two false climactic dungeons: Orochi's Cave one third of the way through the game, and then Oni Island, at about roughly the two thirds point. While before you enter these areas the game heavily portrays them as being The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, once you're actually inside, they have a curiously lighthearted and unhurried atmosphere. The real final dungeon on the other hand is treated with the appropriate amount of melodrama and gravity.
Kingdom Hearts II: You beat Xemnas in suitably epic fashion, albeit with relative ease, along with a good, long cutscene with characters ready to head home. Anyone who took a look at the OST would know that there's one more boss theme left...
The ending of the Journey of Salvation, the pact with Luna, the attack on the Tower of Salvation, and the foray into the Treant's Forest in Tales of Symphonia. Each time the characters are absolutely convinced that this battle will be their last, and each time they are utterly wrong. Of course, most of these occur in Disc 1, which is a dead giveaway that there's more to come.
After defeating Dhaos in Tales of Phantasia. Right at the point where the party members are saying their goodbyes and preparing to go home, having defeated the Big Bad, excitement happens.
Tales of Vesperia does not let you down in this area either. Interestingly enough, you can be sure that Alexei isn't the final boss, but not because of a lack of skills and equipment or because the world map is largely unexplored (quite the opposite for both), but because plotwise, there are still a ton of unanswered questions. You didn't really think they were just gonna forget about the Adephagos, didja? Or that Duke would ever be left unexplained?
Tales of Hearts initial plotline is retrieving several MacGuffins, scattered fragments of a main character's soul. When this is done, the actual plot suddenly bursts forth from it, and the hapless gamer finds that he has about 20 more hours of game to go. (As it should be; the Spirune arc wraps up around the 25-hour mark.)
Tales of Destiny doesn't disappoint either. So you've chased Lydon all around the world, finally cornering him and ending his plans. The Eye of Atamoni is secure beneath Darilsheid castle, the Swordians have gone back to sleep, and our hero says his goodbyes and returns to his tiny hometown. The world is safe once again, right? Cue the second half of the game.
Tales of the Abyss has it, too, in epic fashion. Despite parts of the world being unexplored, you might actually believe it's the final dungeon - it's the longest one in the game, or very nearly so, and the true Big Bad is waiting for you at the bottom, and you sure do (seem to) kill him at the end of the fight, followed by saving the world using the plan you've devised, changing the face of it forever. You've resolved the main plot so thoroughly, there's actually a month-long timeskip between that and the last third of the game.
Tales of the Tempest - yay, we've defeated the Pope, so humans and Lycanths can get along, right? No, the Pope was being controlled by the king, and we still have a pile of plot twists to get through.
The Lava Caves in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Though rather obvious because the time to enter the dungeon comes not too long after a disc change.
In Baten Kaitos: Origins, this is done a little more faithfully. After defeating Verus, the party will begin to leave Tarazed when Wiseman shows up and uses Verus's body to turn into a giant griffon-like monster. This may or may not count, however considering it only happens if you went back in time and defeated Wiseman at Atria before fighting the final boss
This happens repeatedly in Shadow Hearts Covenant. So you've unsealed Yuri's Amon fusion, defeated Grigori Rasputin/Asmodeus and destroyed Idar Flamme, that means you've saved the world (again), right? Wrong, now Nicholai has fused with Astaroth and wants to destroy it. OK, so you've kicked Nicholai/Astaroth's ass, surely THIS time the world is safe? Wrong again, now Ouka's death has driven Kato over the edge and HE wants to destroy the world too. It was arguably one too many, as Kato made for a pretty unsatisfying end boss.
Chrono Trigger has several points like this, particularly the first battle with Magus and the Ocean Palace. On the other hand, if you've been Level Grinding like mad or are playing a New Game+, you can turn one of them into the real ending.
The Trouble Shooters game (Battle Mania in Japan) has a rare fake ending in a non-RPG, where the credits actually start rolling before the villain interrupts them; the real credits appear after the next level.
The first Time Crisis game sets up the main villain as Sherudo Garo, a knife-throwing, somewhat effeminate gentleman who has kidnapped The President's Daughter. Strangely you do battle with him in only the second act (of three). After killing him, you go to release the captive before realising she is now in the possession of Sherudo's Dragon, Wild Dog, who you battle in the final confrontation.
Portrait of Ruin. Let's fight Brauner and finish this game off once and for all, okay, he's been defeated, and—did Death just finish him off and reveal that Dracula is back and ready to go?
Harmony of Dissonance in a way too; you've filled in almost all of the map, clocking at around 80% coverage... and then Death reveals that there are actually two overlapping castles and you're less than half done exploring them.
In Majora's Mask, when you think all you have to do is collect the four masks and stop the moon, you then have to fight Majora.
The second assault on Forsaken Fortress in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Complete it and you've saved your sister, but are only halfway through the game and have a Ganon to defeat.
Played with in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, as Zelda is going to the same dungeons... Link just keeps missing her several times, but makes eye contact with her twice. And then, at the end Link has destroyed the Imprisoned, Zelda is awakened, and everyone gets a happy reunion... until Ghirahim shows up, incapacitates everyone, kidnaps Zelda, and mocks Groose's hair.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You've collected the three Plot Coupons, retrieved the Sword of Plot Advancement, and stormed the castle. Now all that's left is to defeat this evil wizard guy, but that ends up being the hardest part: Agahnim, during the battle, sends Link to the Dark World, and the latter is told by Sahasrahla that he has to rescue seven maidens there. Up to that point, Link had only completed one third of his quest.
Star Fox 1'' pulls this with both of the Venom Surface levels, where the boss you fought in space returns, goes down in a few hits, only to turn One-Winged Angel.
Star Fox Adventures pulls it twice, though the second time isn't that far from the end. The first time, Fox figures that all there is to bringing the planetary chunks back together is... saving the queen's son. Yeah, right. Later, the placing of the four Spellstones does bring the planet back together long enough for him to prematurely declare the mission accomplished, only to find that it's not, and he discovers that those Spirits he's been collecting and releasing are actually important to the mission.
In the original Doom, in Episode 2, Mission 6, "Halls of the Damned", you go through a long corridor, up to a room with an "Exit" sign and a switch, that when you throw the switch the floor collapses into a room with a whole bunch of nasties; it was a trick to make you think it's the end of the level.
A much better example would be Episode 3's secret level "Warrens": it's an exact copy of the episode's first level, "Hell Keep", right down to weapon and monster placement, except significantly easier as you start with more than just the pistol. When you reach the end of the level, the teleporter doesn't bring you to the stat counter - it drops a bunch of walls, revealing new areas filled with new monsters - such as the Cyberdemon standing directly in front of you.
A similar case occurs in E1M6 of Quake where you enter a dark door that looks like an exit, then the room lights up to reveal a Shambler.
In Case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, after you prove your client innocent of theft by proving that he was in another place at the time. Right after the verdict, it is found that at the same time as the theft, there was a murder exactly where you proved he was. At which point you then have to prove that the guy that you've proven as the real thief is actually the real murderer, despite the fact that he did indeed pull off both crimes, which happened at the same time. Phoenix understandably freaks out several times. A very memorable case.
Don't forget the first game. Despite a bit of interference, you manage to prove Edgeworth isn't the murderer... and then it turns out the whole trial was a Batman Gambit by Manfred von Karma to get Edgeworth to confess to his own father's murder 15 years ago.
In Jade Empire, you've worked your way up the command chain to discover that, instead of being a puppet controlled by Death's Hand, the Emperor is truly behind everything that's happened. You defeat the Emperor, rescuing Master Li, and then Master Li walks over to you, congratulates you on how far you've come, and kills you with a few well-placed punches, revealing the plot to be a Gambit Roulette. Cue the lengthy final chapter of the game.
Pulled off brilliantly in Dragon Quest VIII, with the battle against Dhoulmagus. Even though it obviously can't be the Final Boss fight due to the around half the map remaining unexplored, the game does such a good job of matching the feel of a genuine Final Boss battle (multiple forms, extreme difficulty and all) that that while you're fighting it's easy to forget it's not one. The dungeon you explore to get to him is also creepy enough to give the impression of a final dungeon as well.
Dragon Quest III does this as well. After defeating Baramos, returning to the king, and watching a celebration in your honor (this being a common ending theme for DQ games), Zoma suddenly nukes the partygoers and challenges you to come to his world. It's especially effective since your characters are quite powerful by this point, you've (most likely) explored the entire world map, and even have a means of flight. This set up the Dragon Quest tradition of traveling to a Lost World in the final act, though sometimes this is done without a fake final boss.
In Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, Pearl and especially Emerald and Platinum after you beat the game, you have a small island to explore. Also, if you beat the Champion 20 times in D/P/PL, your rival's Pokémon gain multiple levels, in Platinum even if he is the most leveled NPC in any Pokémon.
Due to Black & White being a semi-throwback to the original games, you once again defeat the Elite Four, climb the suitably epic ascent to the Champion to find... (the antagonist) has defeated him with his new uber-dragon. He then raises a GIANT castle, forces you to catch a giant dragon, and fights you. It then happens AGAIN when Ghetsis takes over for the FINAL final boss fight. And then there's the whole rest of the game where you fight the real Champion, Cynthia (champion of Sinnoh) and Shigeki Morimoto, one of the developers. All of whom are much, MUCH stronger than you'll be after you beat the game.
Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 does a fair job of averting it, though you do find out you can board the Team Plasma Frigate one more time after you surf over to the P2 Laboratory, and battle Colress again. His Pokémon took a few levels since the last battle, too. (Although the game does have Bonus Bosses up the yin-yang.)
Gears of War does this. At the end of the third act (out of five), you plant the Resonator to map the Locust tunnels. And... it doesn't work. Luckily, the main character's dad has a complete map at his lab.
In Half-Life 2: Episode 1, you board a train out of the Citadel, having just completed a puzzle-level worthy of being a finale. You think you're out of the city... and the train is derailed by a very large explosion that catches up with you. You then have to fight your way out of the zombie-infested darkness with Alyx to reach the surface and evacuate with the other refugees.
In the Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong, the final world has Mario defeating Donkey Kong in a final battle, with dramatic music playing at the top of the tower...until DK falls off the tower in the cutscene, grows gigantic due to some Super Mushrooms and attempts to finish off Mario once and for all.
Mega Man X Command Mission pulls this off VERY effectively. OK so you defeated the Big Bad who turned out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist. And you've secured the MacGuffin. Time to go home. Wait... What the fu—? Why is our transport shooting at us?!! Our commanding officer turned on us?! WHAAAAAT?!!
In Mega Man 4-6, you have to go through one castle that has the fake villain. After that, you have to storm over to Dr. Wily's castle to defeat him. Worse in 6, because Mr. X is a poorly disguised Wily and you still need to go through two castles.
The World Ends with You. Possibly the most obvious example, because you have yet to understand the roles of just under half of the peopleon the box when the week ends.
Trauma Center does this with Episode 2-9, "Please Let Me Live". You open up the patient, suture a few incisions, and... experienced players restore vitals before they suture the last one. Because when you do, new lacerations burst into view. Meet Kyriaki, the first GUILT virus.
That scene may cause shouts of "IT'S A FREAKING PTERODACTYL."
At the start of Persona 3, you are told that you have "one year" to save the world. You get told that you can do this by defeating all of the Arcana Shadows. You manage this after seven months. Surely nothing can go wrong now.
Persona 3 doubles with Interface Spoiler and Late-Arrival Spoiler in numerous ways: you haven't finished maxing multiple social links (it would be impossible by that point); fusion should reveal personae that are still out of reach due to your level (while the game simultaneously punishes you for grinding, so why are they showing you personae and even a whole new arcana if it's game over?); Tartarus has dead-ended and not all of Elizabeth's 100 requests have appeared; and if you've so much as checked a single strategy guide due to invokedThat One Boss, then you know the game's not over. The game does attempt to mislead you by having two social links max out, suggesting that the endgame has begun, but by the time the "celebration" starts with two crucial characters missing, you should know what's going on. The fact that you're told you have "a year" at the start of the game is another clue that you can't end it all in October. The fact that you were actually building the second castle all this time is when the HSQ goes over 9000.
Then this happens a few more times in Persona 4. The first two are easy to see coming (the random guy spying on Rise isn't the real murderer, and Mitsuo was just a copycat). But THEN if you realize that Namatame's Shadow is acting suspiciously and stop the others from throwing him into the TV it still turns out you haven't caught the right guy. And even after you catch the actual culprit, you can only get the True Ending if you invoke this trope during the ending sequence. In fact, this is basically the theme of the game - you're looking for the truth, and if you stop before you've answered every question (in this case, finding out who gave the culprit the powers he used to commit the crimes), you don't deserve the best ending.
The fourth case of Touch Detective. You manage to figure out that it's not a murder case, manage to get all the evidence that points to this being true, convince Penelope that it's safe to come out of her room, start watching the credits, and Penelope barges in saying "the case isn't solved yet!". Did you really think that this case was only going to be one part long when all the others are 2 parts?
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. You've nearly finished the Virtuous Mission and just need to get to the extraction point. Then one of your Mission Control characters betrays you and after a long cutscene, the opening credits run.
Well, Metal Gear Solid did this with the initial sneaking in, although it was much shorter; and Metal Gear Solid 2 did this with the Tanker mission, although it was significantly longer. They've always been more of a 'pre-credit sequence' than a fake ending, though.
In Izuna Legend Of The Unemployed Ninja, you'll believe you've won the game after defeating Takushiki (the leader of the six gods), as everyone you've helped out in the village thanks you one by one as you exit his dungeon. Only problem with that is Izuna's Grandboss still hasn't returned (in The Stinger, he's shown touching the same sacred crystal that Izuna saw outside the shrine at the beginning of the game), and there's one path leading out of the village that you haven't been able to visit up until that point. This path leads to a forty-floor Final Dungeon.
Lampshaded (along with everything else) by Mao in Disgaea 3, where he pulls of his wicked theft of the Hero title from the hapless Almaz, and apparently goes to face the final boss at the end of the first chapter.
Disgaea 4 does it so often it becomes a Running Gag, in how episode 7 and everything after it is labeled as the "Final Episode", and the stakes just keep getting raised every single time it appears that the heroes have won. The game doesn't actually end before episode 10, which is aptly labeled as the "Real Final Episode".
In Breakdown, a game by Namco for the Xbox, once you get to the penultimate boss and beat him, he gets right back up and kills you, placing you in a room you'd probably forgotten about. The twist that follows turns out to be the defining moment of the plot.
The Super Mario World hack "Super Mario Infinity" does this about FOUR times over the course of the game. First you're fighting through normal levels, and having to defeat Bowser. After getting through the final world, involving fighting him in every other level, it turns out Big Boo and Kamek were plotting against everyone including Bowser; cue another world with boss battles in every level, and a level with TWO 16 stage Marathon Bosses. After this, it still doesn't end, cue an airship and prison level. Then a Pit of 100 Trials. It's at this point some until now unknown great evil has been plotting to destroy reality, so when that plot point becomes known, there's another world to explore, complete with a 100 floor tower and ANOTHER Marathon Boss. Then you get a star in the box at the top of the screen, which allows you to return to the first level and fight a Bonus Boss... In case that was too lengthy, the ends of these videos show what I mean:
After killing Nero Chaos, Shiki assumes that all the vampire problems are over. Arcueid points out the obvious fact that Nero didn't leave corpses and couldn't have been the vampire responsible for most of the incidents. And the savvy reader realizes the story is way too short otherwise.
Razing Storm, Stage 3. So you've sniped off all the Mooks, the Kill Sat has killed the Big Bad, and "Mission complete!" appears on the screen. Wait a minute, that was it? Nope, you now have more Mooks and a boss to deal with.
And near the end of Stage 4: One of your comrades, after all the enemies in the area have been destroyed, gloats "Ha ha, total annihilation!" Given that a "WAIT" prompt shows up over this bit of dialogue, this isn't fooling anyone: a few seconds later, the enemy's mothership-like carrier shows up from above.
Silent Hill 3 has a self-contained example in the Borley Haunted Mansion. After making her way through a series of nerve-wracking but mostly harmless rooms, Heather comes to a door marked "EXIT", and the narrator pipes up with "There's the exit." She steps through the door, and... "That was supposed to be the exit." Have fun running from the red mist of doom!
In an odd variation, some songs in Dance Dance Revolution do this. So, you think the song's over, huh? Well, don't relax yet, there's one last note waiting to ruin your score when you miss it!
Space Quest 3 tricked the player like this when you managed to free the two Guys from Andromeda (the pen name of the game's authors). The game gave you a large chunk of points (used to indicate how many of the puzzles you'd solved) and starts to congratulate you. Then the walls opened up the big, bad, evil guy and his troops are behind them. Your points are docked back off you and the game continues.
In the Wii A Boy and His Blob, the final boss comes at the end of the eighth level of the fourth world. Since all the other worlds up to that point had 10—for an advertised 40 main levels—it's clear that things over yet. Suddenly, the very first world gets two extra levels, and you get an Eleventh Hour Superpower...
BioShock. Your "final confrontation" with Andrew Ryan only leads to discovering that "Atlas" is actually an alias for Frank Fontaine, and that you've been a mind-control Laser Guided Tyke Bomb the whole time. So now it's off to find the antidote for the mind-control and kill Fontaine.
Test Chamber 19 is not the end of Portal. Assuming you realize it and can react fast enough. The fact that the demo of the game featured more than half of the test chambers might have been a tip-off.
In the sequel, Chell and Wheatley successfully replace GLaDOS's head with Wheatley. Wheatley calls up the escape elevator for Chell, she gets in, and the elevator starts rising. Guess what happens next?
Scratches: So you finished crafting the sacred totem, you then used it to confront the cursed mask and exorcise the curse from the mansion, your work here is done, let's leave this place... Wait, what's that sound?
Red Dead Redemption: The end of the New Austin missions, Mexico missions, and West Elizabeth missions are all made out to be the end of the game, so when the real ending does come it's quite surprising.
Dragon Age: Origins: The PC arrives at the fortress of Ostagar, meets the king and is told that an epic final battle is on the cards. Sure, thinks the player, who's done less than an hour's play in a BioWare game, final battle, right... Of course the battle is a slaughter due to a betrayal and things get a lot harder.
Kid Icarus: Uprising pulls this. After defeating Medusa, NES-fashioned credits scroll on, the characters relieved that they stopped her once again, then BAM, Hades, the TRUE lord of the Underworld, is revealed to have been behind everything, including the revival of Medusa.
In Suikoden V, you kill Gizel Godwin and liberate Sol Falena. But since the game doesn't seem to be ready to end right away, what else could there be? Marscal Godwin stole the Sun Rune, and has fled to a temple where he is going to use it to melt a glacier, flooding the Feitas River. Better go take care of that. It figures that there would have to be a Nintendo Hard boss battle before the end.
Suikoden has a liking to do this. Suikoden II has the Hero defeating the Big Bad Luca halfway through the game. Given the time it gets you to reach this point, you might be led to thinking this is the end of the game... but you haven't yet recruited the 107 Stars, have you?
In Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu, after you've beaten the first loop, you're given the possibility to go through a second loop. After doing that, you see your Battle Unit returning to its mother ship and flying through the Time Travel Gate while the Credits Song is playing. Cue the warning of an incoming unknown threat. And then suddenly a giant laser beam appears that destroys your mother ship shortly after you managed to escape with your own battle unit. Guess what that was. Right, it's General Longhena, sitting in his Hibachi unit, ready to kick your ass. He will!!!
In Advent Rising, you think you've won the game, cue credits, and then another boss fight.
Happens in Perfect Dark, after you've blown up the undersea superweapon and saved the world. Time to put on your best dress and meet the President! Whoops, change of plans... time to defend your headquarters against a surprise invasion, get kidnapped, and single-handedly defeat a warlike alien race on its own planet.
In the Twilight Highlands Deathwing engages in personal combat with Alexstrasza which results in the two of them tumbling to the earth. You accompany her son down to where they landed to find a badly wounded Alexstrasza who declares that Deathwing is dead, moments before he rises from where he fell. Fortunately, he is also wounded and retreats before restarting the fight.
In Left 4 Dead campaign The Sacrifice, you activate the generators and lower the bridge, allowing you to escape from the undead hordes unscathed...right? Wrong, the bridge stops short and somebody has to restart the generator, sacrificing himself to allow the others to escape.
The custom campaign "I Hate Mountains" does this on a somewhat larger scale. The second level is engineered specifically to look like a finale stage: relatively short length, a defensible location chock full of items, and a means of calling for help. But after you summon the helicopter and run all the way from the top of the mansion to the helipad, the zombies crash the chopper. No nice clean endings here!
Happens in Baldur's Gate 2. You defeat the Big Bad and everything is fine and dandy, right? Wrongo. Because he's got a chunk of your soul inside him he drags you down to hell with him.
In the obscure NES game Mendel Palace, after clearing all of the doll houses and 9 of the eponymous palace's levels, you are about to face off with the witch...only for her to whisk you off into another palace in the sky.
In Bayonetta - Balder's been killed, Cereza's been taken back to her own time, and Luka's alive, so everything's back to normal, right? Nope! Turns out Balder wanted the older Cereza - Bayonetta herself - to recover her old memories through caring for her younger self, so that she could take her place as the so-called Left Eye of Jubileus herself! But then Jeanne shows up, freed of Balder's mind control, and frees Bayonetta so that she can fight Jubileus, and later helps destroy the god's corpse so it can't still destroy Earth in death.
In Fallout: New Vegas, you spend the first half of the game tracking down the man who shot you and stole the package you were supposed to deliver to Mr House. But when you finally accomplish this, the brewing conflict between the NCR, Caesar's Legion, House and the mysterious Yes Man comes to a head, and you become caught in the middle of it due to that Platinum Chip you just recovered. Whose side are you on?
In Golden Sun, Isaac and friends have finally cornered Saturos and Menardi at the top of Venus Lighthouse and demand the last of the Elemental Stars so the power of Alchemy can be sealed again, along with the hostages. Nope! Saturos gave the Jupiter Star to Felix and sent him ahead with the hostages. Better yet? That's the end of the first game.Damn you, Saturos!
In Dragon Slayer, after defeating the dragon, the remaining task of carrying the four crowns it was guarding back to your home should be simple. But it isn't: ghosts immediately scatter the crowns all over the dungeon, and your home is now surrounded by Mook Makers.
Even Limbo pulls this off. A decent way through the game, you find yourself emerging from an industrial factory area into a little forest with a treehouse and the girl the protagonist is looking for—but then a Brain Slug hops onto your head and forces you to run the other way. If you get the slug off your head and run back, the treehouse and forest aren't there any more... (and you might have guessed the game wasn't going to end yet if you noticed the chapter archive for the various areas).
In Catherine, throughout the entire game Vincent was kept being told that the nightmare sequences will last 8-days and after that he will be free if he survives. He was given freedom and the plot seems to be resolved (even if the ending seems to be less than ideal), until the Plot Twist arrives and this time he voluntarily gets the nightmare for one final night which is the final stage.
Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood seems to wrap everything up...until you realize there's a fifth chapter. It involves getting killed and wandering around the afterlife which includes several rehashed elements disguised as portals. Naturally, you have to enter the real world, return to your body and face the Big Bad again at the end.
Although The Reconstruction doesn't actually wrap everything up when the twist is pulled, it looks like it's on a fast track towards doing so. However, just when it looks like you're about to have some climactic final boss fight and Save The World, Qualstio screams in horror as he finds that the Watchers have all been slaughtered. Also, you failed to stop Donz from activating the pillars, so civilization has been nearly wiped out. So, instead of going along with Fell's advice, the rest of the game revolves around stopping the Big Bad and trying to reconstruct civilization.
In the first Red Faction, the miners' escape shuttle takes off just as you arrive at the docking bay, then immediately gets shot down. "Maybe being slow isn't such a bad thing", says Hendrix.
Heavy Weapon pulls one off after you defeat the "final stage". Your tank driver is about to celebrate the defeat of the Red Star forces, but then he gets a transmission showing that the first 9 bosses were a diversion and that the enemy had amassed an army 10 times greater. Cue the first 9 stages again, except with tougher enemies...
Braid has this message at the end of every world except for the last one, where it turns out that the princess was running away from you all along. Played with in World 4, where time advances when your character walks towards the right side of the screen, reverses when you walk to the left, and freezes when you stand still, causing the message to end up "Sorry, but the princess is in another... hey, where are you going?"
Commander Keen IV requires the player to rescue eight Gnosticene Elders. One level, the Pyramid of the Forbidden, is much more difficult than any other level, and it turns out that the person you rescue at the end is merely a janitor, thus making the level a Bonus Dungeon of sorts.
That would have been nice to know beforehand, since the only way back to the main part of the map is to meet said Janitor. Can't sleep, blue guys will fucking melt me...
Castle Crashers by The Behemoth occasionally does this. You'll chase down the bad guys dragging the princesses along, and go through several bosses before finally beating the end-level boss to fight for one princess while the others escape to be rescued another level.
Sonic Unleashed: "Oh yay, I put all the continents together using the Chaos Emeralds except for one of them! Let's seal that last one-" (Dark Gaia becomes fully powered.) "Aw fu-!"
Sonic and the Black Knight, too. Complete with ending credits before it's revealed that the "Princess" has been in another castle all along.
Sonic Generations: the goal of Crisis City Act 1 gets stolen under your eyes in the most trollish way possible.
Agarest Senki: If you think killing the guy who started the mess was going to be the finish line, you're wrong.
In Modern Warfare 2, it looks like Task Force 141, after heavy losses and a mad dash from Makarov's safehouse, are about to secure the intelligence on Makarov which will spell the end of his entire operation. They reach the extraction point, where General Shepherd and a small army of his troops are ready to evacuate them. Then Shepherd shoots Roach and Ghost to cover up what happened, dumps them in a pit, and sets them on fire. The game continues from there, with Price and Soap setting out to hunt down and kill Shepherd.
In the mission "Heat" from Modern Warfare 1, you fall back from the advancing Ultranationalists to the planned LZ at the farm, only to find out it's too hot due to SAM's, then you have to push back through the lines to get to the new LZ at the bottom of the hill.
In Vigilante, the hero must rescue his girlfriend from a street gang called the "Skinheads". Whenever a boss is fought, the truck holding her captive is right there, but every time the boss is defeated, it drives off, and the hero must continue to the next stage.
Kirby's Adventure: All the pieces of the Star Rod have been retrieved and King Dedede's been defeated! Now Kirby will go to the Fountain of Dreams and restore everyone's dreams, and I'll get to see the happy ending! What the? "Level 8"? How can there be a ...? Ohno.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land: Kirby and company retrieve the broken parts of the Lor Starcutter in the span of five worlds. Then Magolor takes them to Planet Halcandra, where they must retrieve the Master Crown. Cue Worlds 6 and 7.
The same game pulls it yet again. After retrieving the Master Crown from the creature you were meant to destroy, Magolor is revealed to have been evil all along. Cue Gradius-like shooting level and then the REAL final boss.
One quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has the player traipses deep within an undead-infested tomb to retrieve the legendary Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. At the end, you finally reach the coffin itself, to discover nothing more than a note from 'a friend' telling you they've already taken the Horn, and want you to meet them.
Later on the main quest you learn the Dragonrend shout to defeat Alduin, find an Elder Scroll to summon him and engage him in an epic battle atop the Throat of the World. Great you just beat him! Oh wait he flew away and it turns out he can only be defeated in Sovngarde.
No More Heroes: It seems like you're finally the number one assassin; finally defeating everyone else. I guess it's time to use the potty... then before you know it, an assassin busts in and cuts your head off. Unless you get the good ending, where you have to fight your brother.
The Steam version of Eversion references this trope with its "The Princess Is In Another Castle" achievement which you get if you complete Stage 7 without getting all the gems, to make clear that this isn't the game's true ending. It might also be a reference to this popular Eversion fanart (link has spoilers).
Ghosts N Goblins is the quote provider. After defeating the Final Boss it turns out the battle was "a trap devised by Satan". The player is then forced to replay the entire game on a higher difficulty level before finally reaching the true final battle.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals provides an in-game situation where the party think defeating Gades the God of Destruction will end everything until they realize a few years later that there are three more gods to fight.
At the end of P.N.03's first mission, Vanessa faces Sonnenblume, but after hitting it a few times, her client deems her not powerful enough and teleports her out. You finally get to destroy it in the third mission.
Might and Magic VI pulls this twice in quick succession. For the first half of the game you're trying to speak with the Oracle, which requires the approval of all six lords of the land. After running all their quests, it turns out that one council member is still voting no in defiance of his lord's wishes, and you have to run another quest to expose him as The Mole.
Then, after meeting the Oracle, she won't speak to you until after you've run four tough dungeons. (The reason being that the Oracle is actually an ancient supercomputer that has been sabotaged. The four dungeons contain spare parts that you need to repair it.)
In the arcade version of Captain Silver, after apparently defeating the title character, you open the treasure chest, only to read: "Imitation! Go back and find a real one." Then you have go through all the areas again.
In the TurboGrafx-16 version of Bloody Wolf, the President is rescued at the end of the fourth stage, but the getaway helicopter has only one seat available. Thus a new challenge is presented to the player: are you a bad enough dude to rescue the guy who saved the President?
In Mass Effect 3, the Crucible had been activated, Shepard and Anderson having a view of the Earth and for a moment it seems like the game will soon end. But as it turns out, the Crucible is not activating and Shepard ended up getting taken up an elevator and has to make a final choice out of 3 options that will decide the fate of the galaxy.
Played for laughs at the end of Zuma's Revenge when the fake "final boss" dies in one hit, followed by partial fake credits, only for the real boss to reveal that you'd actually just "defeated" his cook. After that you get to fight his "final form," followed by his true final form, followed (and completed) by a dark mirror version of your character.
Multiple times in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. The President gets recaptured, your ride gets blown up/shot down, the nuclear football gets stolen and moved several times, and so on.
In Mech Assault, the Wolf's Dragoons were sent to Helios to disable the Word of Blake's orbital guns so a full invasion can commence. Right after the orbital guns are destroyed, they receive new orders.
Little Busters!: In a rare example where the revelation that the ending was fake is actually a good thing, at the end of Refrain Little Busters comes to an apparently conclusive (if extremely depressing) Downer Ending, and it's only after three minutes of credits (and, likely, sobbing on behalf of the player) that the game goes black...and then gives you one final choice, which leads to the epilogue and the true ending. (Or, if not the true one, at least a much happier one.)
Veigues: Tactical Gladiator has a cutscene that looks like the ending until a huge battleship starts to rise from the ocean.
Killer7 pulls this off at the end of Smile, Part 1. The whole level has various characters building up this chapter as the big climactic finish, and when you finally get to the end of the stage, instead of finding the person you were looking for, you instead find two shadowy figures (Young Harman and Dmitri Nightmare) who just dismissively tell you he's not here and you should go somewhere else.
Happened twice in Saints Row. Finally defeated all those pesky gangs and took over the city, what's that? Being blackmailed by the police chief into doing jobs for him? Managed to kill the bastard, nothing left to do but enjoy- huh? The mayor was really responsible and is planning to destroy the Saints? And then the boat trip happens.
Again in the sequel but a bit more expected. Destroyed the gangs and reclaimed the city? Time to fight the massive corporation that's been dicking around the entire game.
This is the primary game mechanic of The Stanley Parable. No matter which way you walk down that hallway, eventually you'll get to a spot where the game just resets like none of it ever happens. Except when it's actually a continuation. The fact that one Loading Screen reads as "THE END IS NOT THE END IS NOT THE END IS NOT THE END" is fairly prophetic...
ObsCure: The Aftermath combines this with The Stinger, going so far as to actually roll the end credits before the big twist. Just when you think you've beaten the Final Boss and killed the mortifilia outbreak at its source... Professor James reveals himself to be The Mole working for a Bigger Bad and kidnaps the surviving protagonists. Then you find yourself stripped of your weapons and running for your life, before facing the True Final Boss.
In The Binding of Isaac, your mother is the main antagonist. So you make it to the deepest level of the Creepy Basement and defeat your mother. Game over, right? Well, no. Then you get to climb down into a deeper level, titled "The Womb", implied to be your mother's body, where you get to kill your mother's heart. Okay, now it's over, right? Nope. Keep going down into Sheol, or the underworld, where you'll fight Satan. Well, that was a suitably epic final boss...that is, if Satan was the final boss at all. Back at the Womb, you can go forward instead of down to enter The Cathedral, where the final boss is...yourself? Wha...? Okay, so you kill...yourself. Mind Screw aside, that HAS to be the final boss, right? Ha ha ha, no. Enter THE CHEST. This nightmare can only end one way...by defeating the "dead" version of you, implied to have committed suicide by suffocation in The Chest. THAT is the very truly final boss.
Antichamber: After every gun upgrade, and at some points without gun upgrades, you often go by the exit door. It usually just has a wall with a quote about progress and endings immediately behind it. After playing this straight 4 times however, this is inverted in the very end, where if you try to ignore the exit door like you would before, the other door would lead you to a wall and a quote about how you should move on.
FEAR does this constantly, starting from the very first mission where you are sent to assassinate Paxton Fettel, only for him to club you on the head and escape.
The Sega Genesis port of Golden Axe has the players defeat Death Adder and rescue the king and princess just like the arcade version. Here, however, the king mentions the fortress Death Adder appears from, leading to another (even harder) level and a showdown against Death Bringer.
Dark Souls II interestingly pulls this off with a king of all things. The game is gearing you up for a final showdown against King Vendrick in Drangleic Castle. When you battle your way through his most elite knights and directly into the passage where he's supposedly sequestered himself off from the world, you realize he's not there and has long fled the castle. The next part of the game is the process of chasing him down.
At the end of Shockwave: Operation Jumpgate, the Omaha has successfully pushed the invading aliens out of the Sol System and back through the eponymous jumpgate. All seems well until the last thirty seconds or so of the ending cutscene: The Omaha's commander, belieiving the jumpgate's existence to be too great a risk, decides to disobey her orders and destroy it. The Omaha gets a single shot off before the jumpgate's automated defenses retaliate, blasting the Omaha to hell and back, causing it to fall through the gate itself to parts unknown. This is picked up on in Shockwave 2.
Invoked in the 2005 installment of the annually-published Platypus Comix story "Keiki's Huge Christmas Epic." While trying to help Andrea escape government officials wanting to take advantage of her wish-granting powers, Beefer asks Keiki if they'll get to resolve the story "this year". Keiki, suspecting they'll have to add a chapter the following year, simply asks, "What do you think?" Indeed, on the very next page, Andrea gets trapped, and tries to escape by wishing she and her friends were the President (sic) of the United States, creating yet another Cliffhanger.
In the "To Thine Own Self" arc of General Protection Fault, the alliance between GPF, the UGA and La Résistance of the Nega-Verse manages to capture Emperor Nicholas, Duchess Ki and General Duncan, as well as freeing the captured Nick. At that moment, the aliens with whom Nicholas had been fighting a Hopeless War attack, and the heroes discover that they are unable to use the Mutex to get home or contact the people in their dimension.
The Order of the Stick teaches us that people should not trust instructions given by a jerkass to a member of their group that they didn't get along with in the first place. It turned out that the coordinates Girard gave Soon for the location of his gate turned out to be a random spot in the middle of the world's largest desert. Because he didn't trust him. For a while, the Order of the Stick was stuck back at square ZERO because not only did they not have any idea where to go, this time they couldn't fall back on the Sapphire Guard for information.
Hey Arnold!, "Phoebe's Little Problem": The bit with Phoebe's teacher talking to her seems to have been written with this trope in mind. For a moment it seems that he's just talked her back into returning to school... until he accidentally makes a Freudian Slip and says "fart" when he meant to say "Let's make a brand new start".
There's a classic Lampshade Hanging on this in the "Homer and Apu" episode as, almost exactly halfway through the episode, Homer comments that everything has wrapped up "much quicker than usual." Cut to Apu (who's been fired from the Kwik-e-Mart) lamenting that he wants his job back.
In the episode "Brawl in the Family," the plot (a social worker being assigned to teach the family how to cooperate) appears to be resolved halfway through the episode, prompting Lisa to almost break the fourth wall by suggesting that now the family's getting along so well, this may be the "end of our series...of events". Then Homer's and Ned's Vegas wives from a previous episode turn up...
Sonic Sat AM, "The Doomsday Project", has a season-ending Cliff Hanger version. You see that the main characters have defeated Robotnik, and are celebrating... and then you see that Robotnik's nephew Snively has a new mystery villain. It ended up being the final episode, so the new mystery villain remained that way. The writers said it was intended to be Naugus, however.
In "The Earth King", a couple of minutes before the end of the episode everything seems to be going well. The Earth King has granted his support for the invasion, the Evil Chancellor has been imprisoned, Sokka is about to meet his father for the first time in two years, Toph's just heard her own parents are in town and are willing to forgive her for running away, and the Kyoshi Warriors are on their way. Sokka, rather happily, announces "Everything is going to work out perfectly." Within the next minute and a half, it's revealed Dai Li agents are still taking orders from Long Feng. The "Kyoshi Warriors" are actually the Quirky Miniboss Squad in disguise, lead by Azula, and they now have the complete trust of the Earth King. Oh yeah, and the thing with Toph's parents was actually a trap set by people trying to kidnap her.
When Aang goes to the Royal Palace to fight the Fire Lord, he isn't there. When they go to the underground bunker, the Fire Lord's chamber, surprise! He still isn't there. Zuko finds and confronts him, though.
Jumanji did this a lot. Anytime Judy and Pete got out of the board game with more than a few minutes left it meant one of a few things 1) Pete/Judy did something stupid/unethical and will spend the rest of the episode having to fix it 2) Something bad is going to happen.
Freakazoid! hilariously exaggerates this trope when an episode appears to be concluded in under two minutes. The show then cuts to a Warner Bros. board meeting:
Steven Spielberg: I don't get this. What is this? Dexter gets eaten, then fade out? The end? Where's Freakazoid? Man at meeting: Well, he's not in this episode. Steven Spielberg: Not in it? He's the star of the show. What are you thinking? Second Man: Well, we were thinking of maybe ending the episode early today. Woman at meeting: And showing some Animaniacs reruns. Steven Spielberg: Oh. I like that.
Followed by the Animaniacs opening theme. Spielberg then has a change of heart and decides that the preceding segment was just a dream.
The second season finale of Transformers Animated seemed like it was going this way. Decepticons defeated, day saved, Sumdac rescued, status quo restored...and then Sari is revealed to be cybernetic. Roll credits (and bickering).
The episode "Over the Moon" of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack had Flapjack and Captain K'Nuckles see and nearly touch Candied Island...but since it wasn't the Grand Finale, the moon's gravitational pull grabbed them back and they were forced to watch the sugar-coated island float off into the distance. At least Flap was able to taste it...
There was an episode of Garfield and Friends where Garfield cost the mailman his job. Garfield looks at the ex-mailman, who is sitting on the sidewalk and crying, and says "Gee, what a sad way to end a cartoon." and walks off. A U.S. Acres cartoon seems to start, but Garfield interrupts it and says "Did you really think we'd end it that way?" and the cartoon continues to show Garfield getting the mailman his job back.
The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Applebuck Season" has a great example. Applejack, stubbornly refusing help with the eponymous Applebuck Season, proudly shows off that's she's harvested the whole crop by herself. Only for her injured brother, Big Macintosh to point out, she hasn't even finished half. She finally collapses from exhaustion after the revelation.
Played in a more literal sense in "Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 2" when Lord Tirek attempts to steal magic from the three other princesses.
In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, SpongeBob and Patrick finally make it back from Shell City with King Neptune's crown, only for Plankton to plant a bucket mind-control helmet on King Neptune himself!
SpongeBob: Plankton cheated.
In Class of the Titans, the heroes actually defeat Chronos at least twice, but he always escapes before he can get thrown back into Tartarus.
When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Tsarist Russia, he made it all the way to Moscow and seized the city, and expected the war to be over and the Russians to surrender. However neither the Tsar nor most of the city's population and resources were there and the Russians didn't even dream of giving up. Faced with the onset of winter and exhausted troops, Napoleon had no choice to return to France, as continuing the war was out of the question.
ESPN College Football analyst Lee Corso's Catch Phrase is "Not so fast, my friend!" He usually says it to one of his co-hosts who has made a pick in an upcoming game he disagrees with. It is typically lampshaded with graphics or some other way to call special attention to it when he says it.