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  • iCarly had Carly and Spencer's father appear near the end of the series finale. He had been away on an extended tour with the United States Air Force.
  • Little House on the Prairie: The final two episodes of Season 9 introduced two new characters that were possibly intended to become regulars, with the hopes the show would have been renewed for a 10th season. Alas, that wasn't the case, and aside from appearances in the three follow-up movies (which comprised the unofficial "10th season"), there was virtually no time to flesh out and truly develop their characters. Those characters, by the way, were:
    • Rachel Brown, who marries Willie Oleson in the second-to-last original episode, "May I Have This Dance." Had the series been renewed, their stories would have revolved around her learning to get along with her mother-in-law (the dastardly Mrs. Olesen) and becoming part of the town. A "newlywed" story was dedicated to her and Willie in the finale, "Hello and Goodbye" (which aired the following week), but from there her appearances were fairly limited in the follow-up movies, as more time was spent on Albert and Charles (in the two non-Christmas movies), and on Laura and Almonzo (in the holiday flick). On top of this, actress Katherine MacGregor did not choose to return for any of the specials and her absence was Hand Waved by Harriet going off to visit relatives and coming down with a prolonged sickness; thus, there was no further conflict to be had (some might be thankful for that). Then the final movie effectively broke up the entire cast and sent whole of Walnut Grove to other lands.
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    • Sherwood Montague, the eccentric Englishman who settles in Walnut Grove in the final 60-minute episode, "Hello and Goodbye." Undoubtedly, his plots would have involved the clashes of culture and adjusting to life in small-town Minnesota. His time is limited in "The Last Farewell," although he does make a sizable appearance in "Bless All the Dear Children" (a plot centering on his cynical attitude toward Christmas softening, thanks to little Jason Carter).
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has the Raven King, John Uskglass show up in a non-speaking (but important) role in the final episode. A painting of him was scene in a previous episode and he was mentioned in nearly every episode but only showed up in person for the last.
  • Smallville: With its constant rumours of being cancelled, it has a lot of these. Vessel (season 5) had General Zod. Phantom (season 6) had Bizarro. Doomsday (season 8) had Major Zod (long story). Prophecy (second-to-last episode of entire series) had several evil extras who do absolutely nothing just like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Solomon Grundy, Captain Cold and Black Manta.
  • Power Rangers:
  • In 24, the character of Morris (Chloe O'Brien's ex-husband) is introduced in the Episode 23 of Season 5.
  • Several of the Doctor's regenerations in Doctor Who take place at the end of a series. The ones to debut right at the end of a series are the Fourth, Fifth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctors. (The Second Doctor is sentenced to forced regeneration at the end of season 6, but we don't see the Third Doctor until the beginning of the following season in 1970) Although the new Doctor is technically the same individual, in terms of personality and actor they're fundamentally a new character.
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    • Also, while she wouldn't become a regular for another couple of years, Donna first appeared at the end of the Season 2/28.
    • The War Doctor technically counts due to appearing at the end of Series 7B and comprising a major Cliffhanger going into the 50th anniversary special, and because the Eighth Doctor shows up for one more outing in a mini-episode that is effectively his last story, where his long-unexplained regeneration finally takes place into said incarnation of the Doctor.
    • Of all the people to show up, Santa Claus appears at the end of Series 8 as an unexpected arrival in the TARDIS. Or perhaps not unexpected, as by then it had become standard practice to set up the yearly Christmas special at the end of each series of the revival era Doctor Who.
  • Ryan on Joan of Arcadia, who would have played a big role in the third season, had there been one.
  • On Angel, Gunn, Fred, and Connor were introduced in the last three to four episodes of the season before the one in which they were bumped to main character.
  • During the final episode of the Metal Heroes series Space Sheriff Gavan, the baddies are ganging up on Gavan and are about to win when a new Sheriff suddenly pops up to even the score. He turns out to be Sharivan, the new hero of the upcoming sequel show Space Sheriff Sharivan, which would start airing the next week. Also, surprisingly, he would turn out to be a character that had been featured before. A previous victim of the day who had been sent to the Sheriff planet for treatment several eps before and forgotten about.
  • On Lost:
    • Ana Lucia had a flashback cameo in the first season finale before returning in the second episode of the second season as a regular.
    • Jacob's appearance at the end of Season 5 also qualifies. Lost actually does this a lot during season finales, even with locations and situations rather than people, in part due to the disjointed order of the narrative.
  • The last two episodes of Season 1 of Desperate Housewives gave a glimpse of the Token Minority Applewhite family moving in, implying that they'd get more focus in Season 2 (sort of happened) and perhaps become permanent members of the cast (definitely didn't happen).
    • The series finale introduced a woman who moves into Susan's old house. In the last shot, she hides a mysterious decorated box. Just another day on Wisteria Lane.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva: Wataru's son comes to interupt Nago and Megumi's wedding to warn them of the Neo-Fangire. Four Riders and three Monsters Kick ensue!
  • Molly Evans, aka Trudy's daughter in Monk.
  • In The Prisoner (1967), two entirely new characters were introduced in the last episode to make the already Gainax Ending even more of a Mind Screw. They were played, however, by actors who'd already appeared on the show (in wildly different roles, and pretty much unrecognizably).
  • Stargate SG-1's Jonas Quinn showed up in the last episode of season 5 and became a main character next season.
  • Teased, but ultimately averted (because Real Life Writes the Plot) in That '70s Show. Charly was introduced towards the end of the seventh season as a future Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Eric, but as the actor had landed another role before the season eight premiered, his character was unceremoniously killed off and was only seen in flashbacks in the season 8 premiere episode.
  • In Charmed, Chris was introduced in the final two-parter of the season five. He was a regular character during season six.
  • True Blood has done this in every season; in the last couple of episodes new characters and tiny bits of new storylines are introduced, this is of course a Cliffhanger in disguise as they know another season is coming. This often leads to rage from fans because, well, Waiting Sucks.
  • Percival was introduced in the last episode of season three of Merlin. And season four does it again, introducing Tristan and Isolde in the first part of the season finale. Tristan survives, but Isolde is killed in the second part's battle.
  • Zaf was introduced in the last episode of season three of Spooks and became a regular for the fourth series.
  • The third season finale of Holby City introduced the new ward sister, Chrissie Williams. She has been on the show more or less continuously ever since, making her the show's longest serving character.
  • The final episode of Ultraman introduced Zoffy, Ultraman's superior officer from Nebula M78. Zoffy goes on to become a key recurring character in subsequent Ultra shows and movies.
  • Mike gets introduced in the last episode of Breaking Bad's second season and becomes a regular in the next season.
  • Gossip Girl: Ivy Dickens was introduced as a guest character late in the show's fourth season and her true identity wasn't revealed until the final episode of the season. She would return as a regular the next season thanks to the departures of two other cast members.
  • The season two finale of The Neighbors introduces a new human family that moves into the neighborhood after all the Zabvronians except the Bird-Joyner Kershees have left, hinting at a change of format for the show. Unfortunately, the show wasn't picked up for a third season.
  • Grimm's Season 1 ended with the reveal of the identity of the huntress who was stalking Akira throughout the episode (and kicked his ass): Kelly Burkhardt, single mother and legendary Grimm:
    Kelly: Nick, NICK, NICK, CALM DOWN. It's me.
    Nick: Mom?!
  • 2point4 Children had the last episode of Series 7 introduce Declan, a homeless child whom the Porters foster after their daughter leaves for university.
  • The Season 2 fall finale of Gotham features a stinger in which we see an innocent man getting chased into an alley by an unknown assailant. Eventually, it's revealed that the man chasing him is none other than Mr. Freeze.
  • The Grand Finale of Downton Abbey introduced Bertie's mother Mrs Pelham as a last-minute obstacle to the match between him and Edith.
  • The final episode of The Wizard introduced H.E.N.R.I. VIII, a robot that Simon had created. Simon clears the robot of murder, and the last segment has H.E.N.R.I. talking about how he's going to cook, clean, and go on adventures with everyone. Had there been a second season, he would have been a regular character.
  • The last scene of the third season finale of The Big Bang Theory introduced us to Amy Farrah Fowler, who became a series regular in the following season.
  • How I Met Your Mother's titular mother, while mentioned throughout the show's run, does not make a proper appearance until the Season 8 finale. The Reveal of her name does not happen until a season later during the last minutes of the Grand Finale.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Hot Pie and Lommy Greenhands make their debut in the Season 1 finale. Jaqen H'ghar also debuts here, though the one who will reappear later is implied to be a different character wearing the same face. Furthermore, the dragons are officially introduced in the Season 1 finale after Dany successfully hatches their eggs in the funeral pyre.
    • Ternesio Terys was introduced during the Season 4 finale.
  • Arrowverse:
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Michonne makes her debut in the Season 2 finale.
    • Gareth makes his debut in the Season 4 finale.
    • Negan makes his debut in the Season 6 finale.
  • One Tree Hill:
    • Peyton Sawyer's biological mother makes her debut in the Season 2 finale.
    • Jamie, Nathan and Haley's first son, makes his debut in the Season 4 finale.
    • Lucas and Peyton's daughter makes her only appearance in the Season 6 finale.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): District Attorney Samantha Reyes makes her debut in the Marvel Netflix shows in the season finale of Jessica Jones before having a recurring role in season 2 of Daredevil (2015).
  • The Season 7 finale of Shameless (US) has Monica's father, Bill, come to town to not only beat on Frank, but also give his daughter a proper funeral.
  • After being noticeable by her absence throughout the entirety of Black Sails (this being a show that features all the other famous figures during the Golden Age of Piracy), Mary Read is finally introduced in the very last minutes of the Grand Finale.
  • Supernatural:
    • Season 1's finale introduces longtime fan-favorite Bobby Singer, a surrogate father figure to Sam and Dean who would continue to accompany them on their adventures throughout the series.
    • While unseen, Season 4 ends with Lucifer being freed from Hell.
    • Originally, it was intended for Season 5 to be the last season of Supernatural. Archangel Michael and Archangel Raphael were established as being the commanders of Heaven within the first few episodes, Meg Masters, a demon from Season 1, gets brought back with a new vessel, and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse wreak havoc on the world. However, the best example of this from Season 5 is Crowley, the King of the Crossroads and originally meant to play a smaller role as a demon who aids Sam and Dean, who would later become the King of Hell after Season 5 and a recurring Big Bad, with his actor, Mark Sheppard, eventually being promoted to regular status.
    • The last few episodes of Season 8 introduce the Scribe of God, Metatron, who usurps Crowley and Naomi as Season 8's Big Bad in the finale, by casting all of the angels out of Heaven and closing its gates.
    • Dean gets reborn as a demon after dying in the Season 9 finale.
    • The Darkness is revealed to be the ultimate Big Bad of Supernatural and the original source of evil within the series in the Season 10 finale, and is freed from the Mark of Cain in the final moments of the episode.
    • Lady Toni Bevell and a British chapter of the Men of Letters are introduced in the finale of Season 11. Mary Winchester is also resurrected by Amara AKA The Darkness in the final moments of the episode.
    • Season 12 takes this to the logical extreme, by introducing an entirely new dimension where the Apocalypse came to pass, and where Angels and Demons are locked in a constant war, with humanity caught in between, complete with a parallel counterpart of Bobby Singer. And in the last few minutes of the episode, the Nephilim child of Lucifer, Jack, is Born as an Adult.
    • The very last episode of the series introduces Sam's son Dean Winchester II, who was born after Sam retired from being a hunter.
  • ER had several new interns, including one played by Alexis Bledel, show up in the series finale, as a way of showing that life in the ER would continue.
  • The three-part series finale of The Fosters is set a few years after the last full season. Stef and Lena are fostering yet another child.
  • Alias:
    • The final scene of the first season finale has Sydney come face to face with her supposedly-dead mother (played by an extra standing in shadow, as the role wasn't cast until the first episode of the next season), a major figure in the remainder of the show.
    • More obliquely, the season 2 finale featured a Time Skip where Sydney lost two years of her life - the cliffhanger final scene included the revelation that Vaughan got married while she was 'dead', with his wife becoming a main character in season 3.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • The Season 1 finale has Johnny returning home after winning the Karate Championship and finding his old sensei, Mr. Kreese. He becomes a major character in season 2, taking over the dojo with his aggressive teaching methods.
    • The Season 2 finale episode ends with Johnny getting a Facebook friend request from Ali, Daniel's high school girlfriend not seen since The Karate Kid (1984).
  • Teen Wolf: the flash forwards in the finale introduce Alec, a young werewolf chased by hunter who gets recruited by Scott for his pack.
  • Robin Hood: With star Jonas Armstrong leaving after the third season, in the last three episodes the creators introduced a hitherto unknown half-brother named Archer who would be the main character in season 4. The third season was widely despised and hemorrhaged ratings, however, so... a new protagonist wasn't needed after all.
  • Loki (2021) The Season 1 finale has Loki and Sylvie meet with He Who Remains, the true power behind the Time Variance Authority. He explains that he's been pruning alternate timelines in order to prevent more malevolent Variants of himself from coming into existence. When Sylvie kills He Who Remains anyways, freeing the multiverse, the last shot of the show is of Loki looking in horror at a statue of the Variant that's arisen to take control of the TVA, Kang the Conqueror.

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