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Cliffhanger Wall

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A franchise or series has an entry end on a major climactic moment or shocking event that indicates that things are going down in the next installment. Yes, coming up next is a huge shake-up in the Status Quo, or the Final Battle, or the answers to one of the biggest mysteries of the series.

Except... no. The next video game, book, or film isn't about any of that. Actually, the next few stories aren't about any of that. Instead of a proper sequel, we get prequels, interquels, spinoffs, and remakes. The creators just don't want to resolve the storyline they left their audience on years ago, and so leave them staring at a Cliffhanger Wall.

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The reasons for this may vary. Maybe the creators just want to flesh out other elements of the world first, to better setup the resolution. Perhaps they have a serious case of writer's block and can't think of a satisfying resolution, so they're stalling until they can. Or they wrote themselves into a corner, but like the story too much to actually retcon the events.

To qualify for this trope, a series should have a minimum of two entries released after the cliffhanger installment that don't pick up where that story left off, or at least some combination of a prolonged Sequel Gap and a plot unresolving entry. Either way, the creators must have released other works in that franchise afterwards. If they didn't, you've just been Left Hanging instead. Can overlap with Non-Linear Sequel if a series that started off going in chronological order starts to permanently jump around the timeline.

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Subtrope of Anachronic Order. Can overlap with Sequel Gap, where a significant amount of time passes between any releases. Compare and contrast with Stillborn Franchise, as the franchise does continue, but it nevertheless neglects to further the storyline. Not to be confused with Capcom Sequel Stagnation, where the intervening time is filled with a multitude of Updated Rereleases rather than any new stories.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ever since Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force was quietly canceled in 2013 (in the middle of a chapter, no less), the primary timeline of the Lyrical Nanoha series has never advanced past its last chapter. Instead, the creators have only published interquels like ViVid Strike! and outright alternate timelines, like the Reflection and Detonation movies and the INNOCENT games.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • George R. R. Martin released the last mainline A Song of Ice and Fire novel A Dance with Dragons in 2011. Since then he's released no fewer than six books set in the universe but fans are still waiting for him to release the last two planned mainline novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
  • Foundation and Earth ends with half of the path to the Second Empire yet to come, and reflections about how humanity might have to face new threats. However, Asimov never continued further, and instead wrote two prequel novels.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle has not received a proper sequel since 2011. Instead, Patrick Rothfuss seems content with publishing side stories, like the short stories "How Old Holly Came To Be" and "The Lightning Tree", the novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and even a podcast mini-series — all while assuring the waiting fans that he is working on the next (and final) full installment of the Kvothe trilogy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lampshaded in Sledge Hammer!. At the end of the first season, the producers were sure the show would be cancelled so they decided to literally go out with a bang. At the end of the last show of the season, Sledge accidentally detonated a nuclear bomb. Then, much to everyone's surprise, the series was renewed. The first episode of Season 2 started with a repeat of the season one ending where Sledge blew himself up, before showing a "Sledge Hammer: The Early Years!" Title Card; the remainder of the series would nominally take place five years before the events of season one.
  • For 18 years, the last entry chronologically in the Star Trek franchise was the final "TNG" film, Star Trek: Nemesis. After that, the franchise saw the Ultimate Universe "Kelvinverse" films based on a reboot of the Original Series, before returning to the "Prime" timeline with the Star Trek: Discovery television series. Even then, Discovery was a prequel to the original series. At least until the third season, which would Time Skip to the late 32nd century, moving the timeline forward once more. Star Trek: Picard, set several decades after Nemesis, would also debut around the same time.
  • After the cancellation of Twin Peaks left the show with a massive cliffhanger, David Lynch decided to follow up the show with a movie. Infamously, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me decided to focus on the events leading up to the series premiere, barely alluding to the show's finale, leaving events unresolved for twenty-five years before The Return finally put it to rest. Sort of.

    Video Games 

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