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Cosmic Deadline

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"As you approach the final confrontation with the villain, events will become increasingly awkward, contrived and disconnected from one another — almost as if some cosmic Author was running up against a deadline and had to slap together the ending at the last minute."
The Grand List Of Console RPG Clichés, item #182 ("Compression of Time")

A phenomenon where the rate of character death and stray plotline resolution is inversely proportional to the number of pages left in the book.

As the end of the story nears, antagonists suddenly start dying at an incredible rate, MacGuffins that eluded the heroes for the whole story are recovered, couples suddenly get together after spending the whole plotline up to now playing Will They or Won't They? or as Just Friends, other couples suddenly break up with little or no explanation why, and mysteries are quickly wrapped up. Now this can be normal for a story as it reaches its climax, but in this case the rate is so absurdly high compared to before that it's almost as if some invisible cosmic author realised that he has one hundred pages left of a thousand-page book to write and has yet to resolve most of the stray plot threads.

A good author carefully plots everything out to come to natural conclusions. In the event of a Cosmic Deadline, a bad author will hammer on resolutions as quickly as possible regardless of the impact on the story's quality. See Deus ex Machina for a common symptom of this.

In fairness, in some cases this may not necessarily be the fault of the author. If something is cancelled prematurely, for example, writers often have no choice but to rush the ending in order to wrap things up in a semi-satisfactory manner; it's either that or No Ending. Things can be even worse if the series gets renewed after the writers did their best to tie everything up in time.

Other times, the Troubled Production is just that troubled and everyone just wants to be done with it.

And, sometimes, authors die before finishing what they've planned.

Depending on the medium, this may lead to or exacerbate problems with being Spoiled by the Format.

In videogames, this is particularly common because developers know full well that reviewers usually won't be able to play the full game. Even normal players often won't finish it, meaning they'll never see the last sections; so it makes logical sense to devote much more time and effort to early segments, and rush the later parts, resulting in Disappointing Last Levels. Of course, it's just as common for them to be running out of time and/or money. Sometimes, this may be the result of a game being rushed for whatever reason.

Do not confuse with Celestial Deadline. Contrast Exponential Plot Delay (though it's not unheard of for a series to have both at different times).

This is an Ending Trope, so expect spoilers! A common result of this trope is the Gainax Ending. Particularly extreme examples may result in an Audience-Alienating Ending.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Beastars: A bizarrely self-imposed example. The creator just got bored of writing the series, and the result pretty much killed the franchise. One minute she was writing what has all the hallmarks of a second act climax and the next she's making a beeline for the ending. An even bigger mystery is why the Shonen Champion editors signed off on any of this. It would seem you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who will tell you "no" when you're not only the daughter of the guy who made the magazine's most popular series ever but the creator of a juggernaut of a franchise in its own right.
  • Code Geass: After getting a whole extra season to play with, the plot suddenly races off around the 20th episode of the Oddly Named Sequel. It probably didn't help that Executive Meddling changed the staff's original plans and forced the first several episodes to basically recycle the plot for the new audience though.
  • My-Otome, starting roughly with episode 23. It seems almost like the writers planned ahead for ten more episodes than they eventually got, and thus spent what is now the first half of the series on exposition and complicated setup, then struggled to resolve at least the most essential plots when it became clear that there was not much screen time left.
  • While the showrunners of Pokémon the Series: Black & White did try to keep the pacing of the Best Wishes! brisk, the League was aired about a year earlier than it normally would, and had Ash lose to Cameron in a 5-on-6 match in order to make room for N's arc and an Orange Islands-esque filler arc. The end results were not pretty.
  • Scrapped Princess is an example of a series that really needed two more episodes. The death of Cz is caused by her Cin personality suddenly taking over and letting herself die — which would have been really touching had they had time to establish it.
  • The ending of the The Vision of Escaflowne series is notorious for feeling rushed. At almost the last minute, the Big Bad is defeated, the heroic Love Triangle is resolved, Allen finds his long lost sister, the war ends, and the heroine goes home. The ending of the war is particularly egregious considering that it involves an allied army that had never been mentioned before showing up and destroying The Empire's forces with a Fantastic Nuke that hadn't been foreshadowed in the least. The last bit is also pretty inexplicable since —although there were hints throughout the series about how bad it might be for this world were Hitomi to remain in it—viewers were still expecting her to remain in Gaea with Vaan. She didn't seem the least bit distressed about leaving him. Her separation from him seemed as though it should have been milked for more drama, but wasn't because, hey, it was the last episode, and it was time for the writers to wrap things up. Part of the reason for the series' rushed feeling may be that it was originally slated to be 39 episodes long, and was later cut back to the standard 26, making edits and pacing speed-ups necessary.
  • The manhwa Les Bijoux starts off fine in pacing, but picks up speed after the first volume until the fifth and final volume, where the hero suddenly has a fellowship of people we've never met before with about a page each of really interesting stories and characterizations of how they met and came together and then wow, doesn't time fly, everyone is dead.
  • Spoofed hilariously in the Sword Master Yamato segment in Gag Manga Biyori: A mangaka learns that his shounen adventure series has been canceled and has to tack on an ending in only three pages, so he fast-forwards through the rest of his epic story instead of resorting to a simple No Ending, resulting in dialogue like this.
    Beelzebub: Yamato, before we fight, there's something I want to say. It is said that you need the Holy Stone to defeat me... Turns out you don't need it after all, and as reward for your courage, your parents have been released to the nearest city.
    Yamato: I've got something to say too, I seem to have said before that I have a long lost sister, turns out that I don't!
  • Benimaru Itoh was slated to draw an eleven-issue Super Metroid comic, which Americans may know from its appearance in Nintendo Power. For annoying reasons, he was abruptly forced to write a conclusion in the fifth issue. The result? The titular Metroid is killed by two minor characters in a brief side scene, the bosses are killed in a two-page spread, Ridley flees and is never seen again, and the battle against Mother Brain is resolved in about three pages.
  • Various Yoshiyuki Tomino series tend to end like this, mainly because his quirk of having his works hitting the ground running with the first couple of episodes having lots of info dumped all at once before slowing down to a crawl for most of the run before then trying to resolve everything in short order during the final couple of episodes.
  • The ending of the original Battle Angel Alita was rushed because Yukito Kishiro wrote it on what he thought would be his deathbed. When he recovered he revived the series as Last Order, which mostly ignores the final volume of the original.
  • The first two rounds of Flame of Recca's Tournament Arc are at a glacial pace: each fight takes 2 or 3 episodes to resolve, a bunch of unimportant minor characters get long flashbacks to their backstories, etc. Suddenly, the heroes are winning matches by default when the minor characters withdraw from the tournament, Recca goes through a super-accelerated Training from Hell to gain the power he needs to fight the Big Bad—clearly the show was cancelled abruptly and the creative team only had a half-dozen episodes to wrap-up the plot.
  • Street Fighter II V was supposed to last 50 or so episodes, but due to low ratings, it was truncated to only 29 episodes. Because of this, M. Bison comes out from out of nowhere during the Spain arc with no foreshadowing and a lot of different sub-plots begin to occur at the same time (Ken and Chun-Li are kidnapped and taken to M. Bison's base; Guile and Charlie are hired by Ken's father to rescue him; M. Bison sends out Zangief to kidnap Ryu; and Balrog hires Cammy to assassinate Chun-Li's father, which results in a confrontation between Cammy and Fei-Long when Chun-Li's father ends up in a coma).
  • Heat Guy J spent so much time introducing the characters episodically that it didn't develop them (or the main plotline) enough. After a Filler, everything started to pull together, as quickly as possible, so as to wrap up the series in 26 episodes. In fairness, it was left open for a sequel, but that never materialized (and in all likelihood, will not.)
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion spent a great deal of time building up the mysterious Third Impact and its repercussions. As the show approached the last two episodes, however, Gainax began to run out of money. The resulting series finale was a two-parter that was simultaneously very cheap and very avant garde. The Movie, however, managed to wrap up the rest.
  • Symphogear. There is a popular belief that the episode count was halved after it started airing. This is absolutely untrue—what actually went on is that they had too many ideas to fit in one season, and they were only given enough funding to do one season. End result: The Dark Magical Girl's Heel–Face Turn proceeds ludicrously quickly, the Big Bad's nature and plan comes out of nowhere, and there's little to no explanation for the nature of the magical stuff. Fortunately, the series got another four seasons to actually fit more stuff in.
  • Due to a desperate race between the publisher and Ken Akamatsu for the copyrights, Negima! Magister Negi Magi ended up concluding the Myth Arc with all the abruptness of a rocket car hitting a brick wall right around the time the characters were seven eighths of the way through the fights at the Gravekeeper's Palace. The following quests (including the one to defeat the Big Bad) took place entirely offscreen, and what few of the innumerable dangling plot threads were actually given anything resembling resolution was in an unsatisfyingly brief and vague "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue montage.
  • One Piece: The first twenty-something chapters of the Marineford arc have a pacing that by fans is often described as anything from mediocre to downright terrible - a slow pacing, that is. Essentially, nothing happens other than the characters of the different factions fighting each other, but having their fights interrupted before anything can really happen. The pacing gets a little better when Luffy finally manages to get the scaffold and free Ace. From chapter 574 and onwards, all the important things that really define the arc and change the One Piece world forever happen: Ace gets killed by Akainu, Whitebeard curb-stomps Akainu, the Blackbeard Pirates appear, Whitebeard reveals that the treasure of One Piece really exists and implies a great war in the future, the Blackbeard Pirates kill Whitebeard, Blackbeard steals Whitebeard's Devil Fruit and starts destroying Marineford, Akainu wakes up and goes on a massive rampage, Coby gathers the courage to call the Marines out on their needless killing, Shanks appears, Shanks stops the war. All of this happens in a course of 8 chapters.
  • Digimon:
    • Appears to happen in Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time. After the end of the first Xros Wars season, which focused primarily on the bonds between goggle-boy Taiki and comrades Nene and Kiriha, YHWLTT focuses on a new protagonist Tagiru. Even though Yuu and Taiki from the previous series are featured as additional protagonists, they consistently play second fiddle to the new kid. What makes this fit the trope: after 21 episodes with a monster of the week setup, while also hinting that there's something going on behind the scenes, and a big hint toward future crossover with earlier seasons (at least Digimon Adventure and Digimon Savers), the rest of the season is resolved in 4 episodes, with one seemingly monster-of-the-week episode revealing the big bad, and hastily reintroducing past characters. The last three episodes go by so quickly with showing off how powerful the Big Bad Quartzmon is, a betrayal, a twist on that betrayal, many past Digimon and their partners conveniently showing up (it's not that they're not vital to the plot, it's how conveniently the appear, most without even having their names reintroduced) and final battles that it becomes obvious to anyone who's watched any anime series, particularly any Digimon series, that this is an extremely rushed ending. Unlike other shows which reintroduce past characters like this in homage (Kamen Rider Decade, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger) people who just started watching this season/arc would have NO idea who these characters are and would still be in the dark at the end.
    • The first season of Digimon Adventure would have ended this way if it did poorly in ratings. After they defeated Devimon, Gennai would have appeared, thanked them and then sent them back to summer camp.
  • Bleach:
    • The ending of the Arrancar Saga is curiously rushed given how notoriously drawn out the arc as a whole is. Aizen has achieved great power and trashed everyone who stood in his way of annihilating Karakura Town. When Ichigo confronts him, instead of an epic battle that has both characters throwing everything they have at each other, Ichigo's latest power up has put him so far above Aizen that all Aizen can do is stall him. Once Ichigo is finished letting Aizen realize how outmatched he is, he easily beats him and Aizen's power is sealed away. The final fight wasn't the only abrupt thing about the arc either. When the Soul Society arc ended, the story took the time to show how the supporting cast was doing and how they were dealing with the events of the arc. By comparison, Deicide only showed the fate of a handful of characters, with most of them being left in limbo for a year or so while the next arc focused on other characters.
    • "The Thousand Year Blood War" arc: Despite going on for a mere 4 years compared to the whole time of the manga's publication (15 years), it resolved a heck lot of plotlines and contains as many stories as there are in all previous arcs combined. Most of the bankais are revealed herenote , it finally answered many questions that have been left hanging, some since the very first arc (the circumstances of Masaki's death, the massacre of the Quincies, why Ichigo looks uncannily like Kaien), and some more. Don't forget the plot-related deaths, too (goodbye, Chojiro, Yamamoto, Unohana, Ukitake, and probably Komamura), and those are actual final deaths for you, not mere grave injuries that the series is known for. Its Distant Finale ending in August 2016 almost left more questions that it provided answers.
  • Nononono. After spending numerous chapters on an epic tournament that introduces scads of new characters who all have their own interesting backstories... we get slapped with the final chapter which ignores all of them, and doesn't even let us know if Nono achieved her goal of winning a gold medal.
  • Ryosuke Takahashi's series after Fang of the Sun Dougram and Armored Trooper VOTOMS also tend to end like this via cancellation. Nowhere is it any more obvious than in Blue Comet SPT Layzner, which got hit with a Gainax Ending so severe that it took an OVA to wrap things up somewhat reasonably.
  • The finale of YuYu Hakusho in the manga ends like this: The Tournament Arc that he story was on is abruptly ended in place of a Distant Finale full of talking heads telling the reader how it ended, along with a major game-changing plot twist being mentioned almost in passing. But it then subverts this trope by going on for several chapters of inconsequential one-shots afterwards, culminating in a major character dying and passing on off-screen and ultimately a very strangely-paced and frustrating finale.
  • Citrus ends this way. The last volume is spent dealing with Mei's second Arranged Marriage, a problem that was only introduced in the previous volume, but after a few chapters of angst, the problem is resolved in the course of a single conversation that takes up half the final chapter, before cutting to the Distant Finale.
  • Valvrave the Liberator: The final episode was not so much an episode as a breakneck rush to resolve as many plot threads as possible. The going theory is that the show's creators were expecting it to get a third season, which would explain the pacing for much of the second season and the buildup where S2 would end on a Cliffhanger with The Masquerade being publicly exposed to the entire world. In the final product, the unmasking happens at the end of the 2nd-to-last episode, and then the finale just rushes through tons of plot points in its runtime, and still ends with plenty of questions left to ask, including new questions that are brought up in its last minutes (such as mysterious gelatin-like aliens that wander in out of nowhere).
  • Black Knight: The series was forced to cobble together a loose, over-dramatic story when publication was cancelled, with the rebel prince suddenly revealing he was an evil overlord all along, the love interest getting permanently crippled when she was tortured to near-death, the protagonist killing all of the remaining Saints at once, the sidekick suddenly deciding she was no longer an ethical slut, etc.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS appears to have gone through this, being the shortest major Yu-Gi-Oh! series (120 episodes, when every series since 5Ds was at least 144), and having a very visibly abrupt feel to its ending. Most of the final arc ends up being a gauntlet of battles where Ai's whole plot comes to its resolution, and it feels like it's about half as long as it should be. What's particularly conspicuous is that it makes VRAINS the only series thusfar to lack a "Ceremonial Duel"-esque miniarc to close out its plot, instead ending right after Ai's defeat.
  • Dr. STONE revolves around the main characters collecting materials and using science to build whatever invention Senku needs. After a second global petrification happens and the main characters are revived, they start doing this much faster, with inventions (even significant ones like the internet and spaceships) taking only a few pages or less rather than multiple chapters, so the main plot point of facing off with the Why-Man on the Moon can be resolved faster. At least there's the justification that any possible threat has been petrified, so there's nothing except time and resources stopping the heroes from doing whatever they need.
  • Queen Millennia: By the final chapter, the Millenial Thieves are still yet to confront Leader Larela, and the population of both worlds still need to be return where they came from. Selene gets killed off-screen, all the villains as one decide to give up on their motives and leave unpunished, Yayoi leaves with them, and all problems get solved off-screen before the final page.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash: Geoff Johns' run was concluded with a six-part arc entitled "Rogue War." The jump between plots in the final arc (a civil war between the Flash's rogues and a rematch with the new Zoom) is very sudden and very noticeable. These two plotlines were almost completely unrelated and if anything were likely intended to be two separate arcs, but with him leaving the title were likely compressed into one story so he could end his work on the title by its 225th issue.
  • "Death of the Family": The finale is a special extra long issue. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then Batman Incorporated #8 came out a week later and saw the death of Robin. Which was leaked a few days before release, the fact that every Bat book the following month was a mini Batfamily Crossover dedicated to Robin suggests Batman writer Scott Snyder was forced to wrap up his epic Joker story sooner than planned.
  • When Dan DiDio was fired from DC Comics and his "5G" initiative was cancelled, DC scrambled to figure out what the new direction was going to be. Dozens of people were fired and a significant number of books were cancelled at very short notice with their final issues set for November 2020. Reading stories from around that time, you can visibly see the writers rush to conclude their existing storylines. Aquaman in particular basically resorts to a montage in its final issue.

    Fan Works 
  • Tealove's Steamy Adventure: The story spends about 13000 words escalating the conflict, and then just 500 words resolving it (with a blatant Deus ex Machina, no less). This came about because it was a Round Robin fic, and a bunch of the authors who had signed up wound up dropping out at the last minute. So almost all of the authors were planning for the story to be several chapters longer, except for the guy who got "You're the last author so find some way to wrap all this up," dropped in his lap. And that guy was working under a real-life time crunch. Fortunately, everything up to that point was a bizarre Random Events Plot, so the abrupt ending was oddly appropriate.
  • A New Hope (Danganronpa): The final trial of the Killing Game is slightly faster in pace than most of the others, particularly due to the comet approaching that will destroy the space station.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Rise of Skywalker is an entire movie plagued by this issue. The start of the trilogy, The Force Awakens, was directed by J. J. Abrams, and its sequel, The Last Jedi, was directed by Rian Johnson. However, Johnson had a very different approach to the trilogy than Abrams, so its planned Big Bad was killed off, Luke Skywalker was portrayed in a very different and controversial manner and then killed off, and the Resistance was reduced to a dozen people or so with no-one willing to help them. Abrams was back on the saddle for the conclusion, and he was obviously not happy with what Johnson did to the story he envisaged. To make matters worse, The Rise of Skywalker was planned to focus on Leia, whose actress, Carrie Fisher, died between movies. As such, it had to establish a new Big Bad which ended up being the old one from the previous trilogies, give the Resistance a viable path to defeating him, give Rey a backstory (that ended up contradicting the one in the previous movie), and resolve her relationship with Kylo Ren (that was already resolved), all under a director whose vision directly contradicted with the film's predecessor (further compounded by the fact that the original director of the movie, Colin Trevorrow, had been dropped taking his own vision of the film with him). The result is a movie that quickly jumps between locations and relies on coincidences to rush characters along their plotlines, as well as creating Continuity Snarls between it and the rest of the trilogy.

  • The last bit of the Animorphs series was the only part in which any major characters got killed off. And a lot of them died then.
  • Brandon Sanderson is known for what his fans and editors call "the Brandon Avalanche" - most of the book is spent with various characters setting up the dominoes until someone, by decision or accident, sets the entire thing off over the last five chapters.
    • In Elantris, Hrathen learns that he's been the decoy in his high priest's plans the entire time, and his assistant has authorization to massacre the country they've ostensibly been under an ultimatum to save.
    • In Mistborn: The Final Empire, Kelsier destroys the atium mine at the Pits of Hathsin.
    • In Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, Vin and Elend threaten Straff Venture by burning duralumin and brass at him.
    • In Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, Ruin kills Preservation.
    • In The Way of Kings (2010), Sadeas betrays Dalinar and abandons him to die.
    • In Warbreaker, three or four characters simultaneously figure out who's behind the war, just before the war actually starts.
  • Cryptonomicon seemingly resolves half its plot in the last fifty pages.
  • The last two books of The Dark Tower sped things up intensively, and characters finally got started on solving problems present from the third book. Interestingly, the last three books in that series were written shortly after Stephen King himself almost died (this fact became a plot point). Apparently, he suddenly realised he wouldn't live forever, and made an intense effort to finish the series before another car hit him. Among fans, the results are controversial.
  • A few of David Gemmell's books, mostly from earlier in his career, suffer from sudden lurches into top gear for the final hundred pages or so, with dangling plotlines swiftly wound up or abandoned altogether and final confrontations feeling rushed and anticlimactic. At least in the case of Morningstar, he admitted this happened due to an impending editor's deadline and expressed regret at not getting to use the ending he originally had in mind.
  • The Diamond Age suffers from this a little. After the leisurely progress of the rest of the book, the last 100 pages or so run at a breakneck pace. Fortunately, it's well written enough that you don't mind the dizziness too much.
  • This occurred often in the early Discworld books, with a plot being set up in the first 200 pages, and then resolved in five.
  • Lampshaded in The Divine Comedy: There are only nine lines left in Purgatorio by the time Dante starts to bathe in the river of good memories, so Dante admits that he doesn't have enough space to do the river justice and just assures the reader it was important for allowing him to get into Heaven.
    "[S]ince all of the pages pre-disposed for this, the second canticle, are full, the curb of art will not let me continue."
  • The Earthsea novel Tehanu is fairly slow-paced and low-key until the last handful of pages, when suddenly the main characters fall into a trap laid by an evil wizard who had previously been a background character. He savagely beats them then attempts to force them to jump off a cliff to their deaths, prompting their adopted daughter to reveal that she's actually a dragon in human form by summoning a bigger dragon to come burn the evil wizard off the face of the world.
  • One of the complaints to the finale of The Heroes of Olympus is how suddenly and unsatisfyingly the plot is resolved. After spending the series on a slow trip to Greece while confronting and failing to permanently kill a single Big Bad one book at a time, the heroes reach the Acropolis. Suddenly, all the Big Bads are dispatched off, most of them offscreen, without so much a struggle. Then, through a literal Deus ex Machina, they are immediately transported to Long Island (so no more slow boat trip), into the fight with the Greater-Scope Villain, who is also similarly dispatched without a struggle. It doesn't help that the series is slower-paced than its predecessor (thanks to multiple POVs and a more dedicated attempt at Worldbuilding), so the abrupt change of tone is more keenly felt.
  • All of the books in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, with the exception of Gardens of the Moon, become veritable blood baths near the end as the story comes full circle and doomed characters are killed off.
  • All of Richard Hooker and William Butterworth's M*A*S*H Goes to... sequels are subject to this, more pronouncedly as the series continues. The books have six to ten plots and subplots that get more and more convoluted and intertwined until roughly page 170. Then suddenly everything is resolved (happily for the protagonists and the young lovers, of course) in the space of 10 to 15 pages.
  • It's endemic to most of Mercedes Lackey's books. She loves a Prolonged Prologue and to write hundreds of pages of worldbuilding and character-heavy prose, exploring the setting, the characters' place in it, their relationships, their emotions, and having them address and resolve minor problems. Most of a given book is, after its introduction which can be quite long, almost Slice of Life with sometimes only rare suggestions of a greater plot or threat. Then in the last quarter (or less!) of the book, the main threat - and often the main villain, for the first time! rears its ugly head and things happen much faster and without anything like the loving detail of the rest of the book, resolving in a great rush with often only a page or two of denouement.
    • Heralds of Valdemar has many, many examples.
      • Villains in the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy are definitely Orcus on His Throne, far away from Vanyel and his perspective and only ever seen or spoken to at the very end of the book, so that they seem to have very little presence until that last quarter where suddenly they've been behind everything and are important, and get killed after just a few pages of confrontation. The third book, Magic's Price, does slow things a little.
      • Most of Winds of Change is basically Slice of Life and worldbuilding, with several small crises and various gestures at the existence of the Big Bad without him actually doing anything. Then in the last quarter of the book Firesong arrives and Nyara rejoins the heroes, Falconsbane decides to act, Tre'valen is killed, Darkwind and Elspeth are jealous of Firesong, the heroes shatter the Heartstone, and Nyara takes Need on an assassination attempt.
      • Each of the three books of Mage Storms goes this way, compressing the climax into the very end. The tail end of the finale has several major characters from elsewhere in the series - the spirit sword Need and the ghosts of Vanyel, Tylendel/Stefan, and Yfandes - get brought in and have one scene each, never seen talking to each other or incorporating into the daily life cycle shown in the rest of the book, before it ends.
      • Brightly Burning spends half of its page count on Lavan's terrible school life before his Traumatic Superpower Awakening and subsequently being Chosen. That leaves some space to explore his life as a Herald-Trainee and his moral discomfort with his powers before he's hurriedly promoted to full Herald and shoved out into the war, where he rapidly is corrupted by said powers until having a Superpower Meltdown.
      • The last part of Exile's Valor, prequel to the first Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, rushes to cover many of the background events mentioned in those books.
    • Joust is all about Vetch's life in the dragon compounds, his relationship to Ari and Kashet, his emotional turmoil, and the fantasy Egyptian setting. Things move a whole lot faster when he steals a dragon egg, even though it takes months for Avatre to grow large enough to ride.
    • Jolene has its Big Bad appear once, and be talked about as a danger only that once, before the end. The heroine's family debt also comes calling in the last few pages and she calls on the boon the titular Jolene gave her to pay it on literally the last page.
  • Night's Dawn ends in between 50 and 100 pages, after taking more than 3000 to get to that point.
  • The Once and Future King more or less takes 500 pages to carefully getting all the pieces in place so that in the final 100 pages it can smash the board against the wall. Every mistake a major character made in the earlier sections (including some that the reader wasn't even made aware of at the time), as well as plenty of mistakes their ancestors made, lead to a pileup of of betrayals, murders, exiles, and finally an all-out war, the ending of which we don't even get to see.
  • The first Resident Evil book is a good example of this, as the first third of the game takes up about two thirds of the book, with the remaining two-thirds crammed into the last sixty pages or so.
  • In many of his early novels (particularly the "juveniles"), Robert A. Heinlein would wrap up the plot in a page or two, often passing over major plot elements and/or leaving the story unresolved. This was probably due to word count/length limitations. Some blatant examples are Between Planets, Glory Road, The Puppet Masters, The Rolling Stones (1952) and Space Cadet (Heinlein).
  • The Ship Who... Won has a long first section establishing Keff, Carialle, and their relationship and circumstances. The rest of the book takes place on the planet Ozran and mostly consists of First Contact Farmers, being captured by mages and dining with them, a wild escape with Plennafrey, and Rescue Sex followed by a resumption of the chase. Discovering the mages' source of power, talking them into reducing their influence, meeting the Precursors, and resolving the whole situation afterwards is altogether rather compressed.
  • Song of the Lioness, Tamora Pierce's first series, was edited from a longer single book to fit in with the ironclad page limit rules of 80s young-adult fiction. As a result, huge swathes of time (sometimes even years) tend to get passed over with just a few sentences, with subplots happening mostly off-screen.
  • The Sum of All Fears spends approximately the first three quarters of the book dealing with the protagonist's miserable personal life. Then the nuclear bomb finally goes off and the plot that everyone came for is wrapped up in under 200 pages.
    • Most of Tom Clancy's books operate to a cosmic deadline — this is a conscious decision on his part. The intent is to show how crises start small, then snowball and snowball. His other reason is to illustrate how much planning goes into military operations. He can spend 300 pages getting all the pieces in place for 100 pages of fast-paced action. It's his style.
  • The Oracle's Queen, the last book in the Tamir Triad, ends so quickly after the Final Battle that the MacGuffin doesn't even get a mention in the epilogue and is instead reduced to an author's note. (Although, to be fair, the MacGuffin was primarily buildup for a plotline that not only would happen hundreds of years later in-universe time, but had been published ten years earlier in real world time.)
  • Vampirates has five books slowly build up to a war between the vampirates, pirates and Nocturnes, only for most of the war to get fought offscreen between the fifth and sixth book, and the event-packed sixth book rapidly concludes the plot, with an ancient prophecy getting introduced out of nowhere, three more crews similar to the Nocturne again coming out of nowhere, two different love triangles getting solved, the surprise comeback and vampirisation of one character, the near death of two characters, and then the actual deaths of several major characters.
  • Many of the books in The Wheel of Time series have far more plot in the last 50 to 100 pages than they do in the several hundred it takes to get to that point.
    • The only book to have any major good guy offed is the fourteenth and last in a series of Door Stoppers.
    • The three Sanderson-penned volumes aren't exceptionally fast-paced by most standards, but still count as this trope in comparison to the... leisurely pace of the half-dozen that precede them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Animorphs: The series finale has no less than 8 subplots. This, combined with the small number of episodes (Season 2 is only 6 episodes long: Face-Off Part 3, two normal episodes, and the three part finale) strongly suggests that the series was abruptly cancelled, and each of the subplots was originally going to be its own episode.
  • The late fourth season of Babylon 5 had to wrap up some plot threads more rapidly than J. Michael Straczynski had planned, because renewal for a fifth season was still up in the air when the scripts were written. Unusually for this trope, most of these episodes are considered pretty good by most of the fanbase; general consensus is it's the fifth season that suffered, because most of its planned plotlines were stuffed into the last half of season four and they had to cobble something together from leftover b-plots.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: The Ark of Truth. The really screwy thing here is that SG-1 had several season finales that could have easily served as series finales, each with increasing amounts of closure for the series (including ending the conflict that ran throughout the whole series), and then they cancel it mid-plot. This is mostly due to Executive Meddling of a sort; the producers were worried each year that they'd be cancelled, so they ended each season as if it were a series finale. Then after ten seasons, they felt certain that they'd get renewed for an 11th season, and so ended the season with many plot threads still open. And then the network canned them.
  • Joss Whedon has really fallen afoul of this one.
    • Firefly/Serenity. The show was canceled without any resolution to the plot, so the major would-have-been-a-two-season-long-arc (according to Word of God) got tied up over the course of a movie barely longer than the pilot episode.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer was supposed to have another season at least to help tie up various character threads including Willow's feelings about magic and Dawn's feelings about being the key, but Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) wanted to quit the show to work on her movie career so Dawn's plot was all but dropped and Willow was shoe-horned into a new relationship and her uneasiness about magic magically healed. The characters became wise to the fact that this happened every season too, with Buffy remarking that it "usually blew around May."
    • Angel was cancelled by the network early into its 5th season but was allowed to finish out the year, meaning the writers had to hurry to let Angel defeat the series long big bads Wolfram & Hart as well as tie up romantic loose ends like finding Angel a new werewolf girlfriend and pairing off Wesley and Fred (who also died in a plot that would have been a much longer arc otherwise). The shanshu plot thread was dropped as well, magically. Subverted in the episode "Awakening" (which aired in the middle of the fourth season), in which the breakneck happy ending is at last revealed to be a mind screw, an illusion designed to give Angel a damning moment of perfect happiness. Incidentally, the episode is quite a stunning display of the writing staffs' skills, showing how, no matter how knotty and overheated the narrative has become, it can be satisfyingly resolved anytime at the drop of a hat.
    • Dollhouse. While the plot got wrapped up more or less satisfactorily in the second season, anyone could see that Joss had to rush it.
  • The final episode of Arrested Development has more plot twists than the entire rest of the show due to the show's impending cancellation.
  • Point Pleasant. When it became evident that the show was going to be cancelled the writers started rushing to resolve things, and the results were actually kind of thrilling. Prior to this the show had featured demon-sponsored dance-off with the characters facing the horror of...a disco ball coming unscrewed.
  • The second season of Heroes suffered from this. The writers' strike hit halfway through production of the season, and the writers were basically forced to end the season in about half an episode, instead of another 11 or so. This caused several plot lines, which eventually would have been woven into the main thread, to be left completely hanging, most notable being Peter stranding Caitlin in a horrifying alternate future, never to escape according to Word of God.
  • This is also incredibly apparent in the last few episodes of Dead Like Me, which had been canceled.
  • This happened to 1999 Brazilian soap opera Brida, a loose adaptation of the Paulo Coelho novel. Thanks to a network crisis stemming from increasing debts, the 52nd episode ended with narration summarizing everything that would happen in the planned ending.
  • In season 5 of Lost, the flaming arrow attack on the camp slaughters every minor background character because the show was due to end in season 6 and they needed to be gotten rid of before then.
  • In the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise, the kind of story arcs the fans have been waiting for the whole time (birth of the Federation, the Romulan War) finally started to get told. But it was too late to save the show from cancellation, and so the last episode was a Distant Finale. We learn that the Official Couple broke up in the meantime, and that the fans' favorite recurring guest star fathered a daughter, and went into hiding for reasons not fully explained. The Romulan War, although it also must have happened during this missing chunk of time, never even gets mentioned. The birth of the Federation on the other hand is a plot point in this episode. Archer is about to deliver a historic speech at the founding ceremony, but we never get to hear it, because the episode ends before that. For this and some other reasons, this episode gets filed under Fanon Discontinuity by many. In fact, it was such an unpopular ending that the Star Trek Expanded Universe novels also treat it as discontinuity (or rather, misinformation).
  • Doctor Who has a lot of this in the revival series, due to most stories being half the runtime of the classic series.
  • Kamen Rider is notorious for this due to a format regarding taking what would be a single episode's worth of plot and expanding into a two-parter, regardless of whether this is needed or not. The results vary from Rider to Rider, but the rate of big name characters dying left and right coupled with increasing battles over MacGuffins in the end game establishes this trope. Some special notes include:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki, which has an In-Universe Cosmic Deadline for the Rider War. It's easier to see this in The Movie, where the person running the fight gathers the remaining Riders and simply tells them "Okay, we're running out of time. Kill each other already!"
    • Kamen Rider Fourze has the Horoscopes, the commanders of the Zodiarts. While most of them are intimidating enemies that last several episodes, this trope takes effect when one of them gains the ability to see people with the potential to become Horoscopes, thus filling out the remainder by reducing them to being glorified monsters of the week.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost inverts this trope. Like Ryuki, there's an In-Universe deadline: the main character dies in the first episode and is given 99 days to find the MacGuffins needed to resurrect himself or else he's gone for good. Every episode's introduction even has the hero saying "I've got (number) days left". Episode 4 starts with 87 days left, but then Episode 5 decides to do a Time Skip of twenty days for no apparent reason other than, well, this trope. Which has the side-effect of making the protagonists look lazy, ineffectual, or callous since they spent three weeks not making any effort to save their friend's life. Worse, the show presses the Reset Button twice, with increasingly flimsy justifications, seemingly just because Kamen Rider shows last a whole year and the writers realized they'd written themselves into a corner with the 99-day time limit.
    • Downplayed with Kamen Rider Zi-O, in which almost each Rider gets their appropriate tribute/Another Rider with no need to rush through them. The reason it's downplayed is because, close to the end, the remaining two Another Riders make their debut in the same arc. They still get their respective tribute appearance from alumni, though. Funny enough, due to continuity issues regarding the Drive cameo in The Movie, the show never had Sougo make a proper Drive Ridewatch and thus complete the collection proper before the endgame.
    • Inverted and Subverted in both Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Build, in which the Gashats and Full Bottles respectively have been completely collected by the end of the first quarter, but they were merely one phase of a much bigger plan by their Big Bad.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger inverts this trope by having the Gokaigers unlock a bunch of the Greater Powers of the Super Sentai in one movie after their first quarter. A justified version of this plays near the end where they unlock the remaining five Greater Powers, but that's because someone else had stolen them and the Gokaigers simply took it from him.
  • How I Met Your Mother spends 8 seasons not revealing the identity of The Mother and only leaving a handful of clues on who she is. It's only in the Season 8 finale where the viewers get to see her face. But Season 9 spends 22 episodes on one wedding weekend where Ted meets the Mother and few flashfowards on them being a couple. Then series finale crammed the fates of the main characters after the wedding in two hours where Barney and Robin divorced after 3 years of marriage, Robin spending less time with gang due to her job and her jealousy with the Mother, Barney becoming a single father after his latest conquest got pregnant, Marshall working again in a corporate law firm until he decided to become a judge, Ted and the Mother being together and getting married and The Mother dying of some fatal disease. And these events occurred within 17 years until the year 2030 where Ted told the story to his kids. The direction, going from funny to sad and vice verse, became such a big Mood Whiplash and this is likely one of the reasons for the Broken Base reception of the finale.
  • Hell on Wheels was victim of this after the series was cut short amid declining ratings, forcing a number of rapidly introduced plots to be wrapped up just as quickly in a fifth season split in half over two years.
  • The now-infamous Season 8 of Game of Thrones, as it unfolded, significantly suffered in this way starting from "The Long Night" and not letting up. Pivotal events which could have been better developed have been squeezed to one episode each and character choices (especially ones that lead them to Jump Off The Slippery Slope) are done with significant violation of established personality. The series finale has caused a massive Broken Base to this day.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Brütal Legend has an accelerating example. The first part of the game is very spaced out, and your battles with Lionwhyte have other missions between them where you acquire more followers. The enemies you're fighting are supposed to be low-level lackeys, but it takes up at least 2/3 of the game. The second part has you mostly fighting Ophelia and the Drowning Doom, and while there are about the same number of battles there are almost no other missions and the other arcs are all either already resolved or abandoned at this point, with the previously constant parade of new kooky characters coming to an abrupt halt. After that arc ends the Big Bad Doviculus shows up and you immediately have a boss fight on the same field as the final battle with Ophelia; you don't even get a proper stage battle with him since he relies entirely on gimmicks.
  • Chrono Cross dumps about a third of the plot in an Exposition Dump in the last few hours of gameplay.
  • The Devil May Cry games (at least the first one) because the bosses keep running away to try again later, so you end up fighting most of them for their third and final round right near the end. Onimusha 2 did the same thing.
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time has an odd case that occurs after the 11th Dimension world is completed. Up to that point, the plot is evenly paced, with each Quantum Mask being acquired roughly two worlds apart. The twist of N. Tropy intending to rewrite the multiverse with a new partner occurs before you get the last Quantum Mask in the next world, and the world after that, Bermugula's Orbit (which is in outer space, no less), has a bunch of events happen in short order as the main part of the plot gets wrapped up (the Dingodile subplot ending with Alternate Tawna having found him offscreen, the Bandicoot siblings and Dingodile quickly patching up their differences, and the introduction and defeat of the N. Tropy duo, with the battle itself ending after two hits. There's still two other worlds left afterwards, dealing with Cortex trying to delete Crash from history.
  • Darksiders II has quite a lot of content and sidequests to do in the Forgelands and Land Of The Dead. However the last world Shadow's Edge is an incredibly small world with it's one dungeon being much shorter than the preceding ones, even Lostlight which was still smaller than the first two worlds still had some content. Likely had to with THQ being on the verge of bankruptcy at the time.
  • The first third of Dark Void preps you on cover-based shooting and eases you into the gameplay before giving you the promised jet pack. The second third is your cannonball playground, but it feels like some story bits are missing - one level was clearly meant to be a Hub Level, but you just time skip from there to the next stages. In the final third, you blow up a city-sized monster inside its stomach, your Mad Scientist friend dies without fanfare, an Oracular Urchin throws a prophecy at you and your character gains undefined magic powers to fight the final boss, which is a three-headed dragon, all with no buildup.
    The thread that proves it? The first "episode" had six levels. The other two have four.
  • Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. Well written and immersive until about two thirds through the game, at which point it goes absolutely batshit crazy. Apparently the game was planned as what we would today call an episodic game, and when the money ran out they were forced to cram all the highlights of several episodes into the third act, while cutting out all the plot development that (supposedly) would have made it all make sense.
  • Fallout 3's main plot is a serious offender - after hunting for a series of loose plotlines, everything is suddenly resolved with one fight that would be epic, if the player could actually participate beyond taking potshots at the few enemies who survive the overbearing might of your allies.
  • F.E.A.R. 3, especially when you consider that it was meant to wrap up the entire plot of the series. The game has a clear beginning, middle, and finale, but jumps abruptly from the middle right to the finale without any sort of build-up or transition in between. The game basically feels like it skipped straight from the middle of the game to the final boss fight, something Zero Punctuation noted.
  • Final Fantasy is prone to this:
    • Final Fantasy VIII's ending is pretty trippy and incomprehensible compared to the game's pacing before it. In fact, "Compression of Time" in the Trope Namer intro quote is specifically referencing this game.
    • Final Fantasy IX's Very Definitely Final Dungeon goes past 'trippy' and into 'incomprehensible,' introducing 'the source of all life' with no build-up, followed by famed Giant Space Flea from Nowhere Necron.
    • Final Fantasy XI's fourth expansion, Wings of the Goddess, suffered from slow story updates due to the fact that the writing team was writing not one but four storylines: one primary expansion storyline and one past national storyline for each of the three starting nations. This came to a head when suddenly corporate ordered them to start working on the story for Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, forcing them to quickly wrap up the main WotG story by suddenly having the Eldritch Abomination threatening to eat one of the timelines start negotiations with the player character instead.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • It happened in Stormblood, contributing to it being seen as the weakest of the expansion packs. Even though Stormblood is actually the longest aside from A Realm Reborn in terms of quests, it still feels compressed. The problem is that two rebellions (Doma and Ala Mhigo) occur during the expansion pack - and even though Doma takes up a huge portion of Stormblood's questlines (ie everything between levels 61-67) it still feels as if everything showing off the culture and country of Doma was rushed so that the player can go back and quickly resolve everything with Ala Mhigo, which didn't receive the same treatment in terms of lore. This even carried into Stormblood's post story arc, in which everything is resolved within one patch for Ala Mhigo and then double the content is devoted to resolving Doma's issues.
      • The same thing happened with Endwalker. Allegedly, it was planned to be two expansions, but Executive Meddling caused them to decide to combine it into one and finish all of its plot beats at launch in order to prevent the opposite problem. This unfortunately means that the confrontation with Garlemald is rushed and the entire continent-spanning empire is reduced to only one zone. The plot still constantly drops beat after beat at a rapid pace until its Astral Finale.
    • The biggest example is with Final Fantasy XV - once you complete Chapter 9, the game's plot kicks into huge overdrive, the Wide-Open Sandbox closes up and becomes a linear story, all kinds of events and character deaths happen off-screen, and the final act of the game feels very rushed with much content cut out. It was probably inevitable given the game's massively Troubled Production. It took 2.5 years worth of DLC being released to patch up the holes and expand the post-Chapter 9 content to something bigger and more coherent.
  • Guild Wars 2:
    • Thanks to a combination of various things (Internal trouble, COVID-19, and End of Dragons being greenlit seemingly out of nowhere) the Icebrood saga ends up dropping a lot of its early plot points and, in its final episode (Champions) moves at a break-neck pace to conclude everything.
    • End of Dragons, released in 2022, was the conclusion to the "Dragon cycle" arc that had begun at launch (2012). Unfortunately, once the player leaves the Seitung province the story speed revs up into overdrive and leaves the player with very little room to breathe and take in the various plot revelations. The player learns very little about Soo-Won before the influence of the Void starts overtaking her mind.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts II: Naturally, the Big Bad Organization XIII have to be killed off before the end of the story. But they could have come up with a better way to clean up the last few membersnote  than having Sora come across a room with a locked door that will only open if all the members are dead, and have the room equipped with convenient portals that teleport him directly to the remaining members.
    • Kingdom Hearts III: The plot only really gets going in the last four or so hours of the game (out of a total of about 15 hours of gameplay, not including grinding), starting with the Anti-Aqua boss battle. During that timeframe, every single hanging plot thread from all previous games save χnote , which spanned 17 years, are resolved. Note that this does not include hanging plot threads introduced in this game, of which there are quite a few.
  • Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords got hit with this hard. Thanks to being Christmas Rushed it had the most non-endingest of non-endings ever witnessed. The Restored Content Mod added extra cutscenes that at least give the story a semblance of closure, but they were inherently limited by available assets and voice lines.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver ends very abruptly as a result of the deadline its developers were under. The finished game contains foreshadowing to the chopped out bits, which were eventually worked into the later titles in heavily modified forms. This is probably one of the few instances where a Cosmic Deadline actually benefited a series as a whole: The original ending effectively closed off the series to any more sequels, with Raziel wiping out the vampires and restoring the Pillars finally. While the cliffhanger was infuriating to many, the resulting plotline was well worth it.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The third and last Goddess Pearl is given to Link directly by the Sea Spirit Jabun, without the former having to go through a dungeon beforehand as in the case of other Zelda games with three or more Plot Coupons. A third dungeon was planned, but had to be scrapped to time constraints, with Eiji Aonuma saying the said the dungeon concept was eventually reused in a subsequent Zelda entry, though he'd never specify.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The first three dungeons take the longest to locate (the very first one in particular). But from there, each dungeon takes less time than the previous one, with the exception of the City in the Sky. The last two dungeons merely require Link and Midna to go where they are, which takes little, if any, effort. It doesn't help that the very last dungeon houses the Final Boss that hijacked what was supposed to be the last opponent, whose residing dungeon had at least some smooth buildup.
  • The Longest Journey:
    • The game has a Cosmic Deadline to the Arcadia story. April Ryan needs to collect four pieces of the stone disc to open the Guardian's realm. Two are procured through a small quest. However, the last two are pretty much procured within ten minutes of each other... which follows the end of the story arc of capturing the first two. Then after that, the plot... pretty much stops and you're sent back to Arcadia. However, in true Longest Journey fashion, when April is simply handed the pieces of the disc, she says "Well, that was a lot easier than I thought!"
    • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey also brings the Arcadian plot to a dead halt. It can be interpreted as this, since Zoë is sent to Stark and does not return to Arcadia, leaving the fate of everything else ambiguous. Of course... that's not to say the ending to the game is any better...
  • Mars: War Logs. The first chapter is about a Great Escape, the second is an exploration of a ruined Film Noir city in search of La Résistance. The third (and final) chapter is basically an attempt to cram the entire Dune series into seven maps, none of which is bigger than a football field.
  • Parodied in No More Heroes - Jeane's backstory is literally fast-forwarded in game to get to the "final" boss. Not only a cosmic deadline, but a cosmic limitation. The characters seem to believe there's a limit to how much messed-up stuff they can say before the game gets cancelled/delayed. If the scene is replayed at a slowed rate, the story becomes understandable. It is notable as an example that combines terror and No Fourth Wall as Jeane's backstory goes from Tear Jerker to unimaginablely screwed up quickly, making the reaction portrayed beliveable. And then comes the true ending, where Travis finds out that Henry, the assassin who killed Dr. Letz Shake earlier in the game, is his twin Irish brother and the husband of Jeanne, and at that point what little that remained of the fourth wall was done away with.
    Travis: "That's the craziest shit I've ever heard! Why would you bring up something like that at the very last minute of the game?"
  • Psychonauts, thanks to rushed development, is much faster paced and less well-written (although still quite funny) toward the end. This complaint was also leveled at Brütal Legend, though Tim Schafer does not have development time as an excuse for that one - just Executive Meddling.
  • In the Devious Four Chronicles (aka Super Mario World hack) Randorland 3, this is the case with the final world or so of the game. Until this point, the game has mostly been filled with a lot of exposition and slow paced levels with cutscenes and the odd boss fight in between. Then in the final world... cue long difficult levels, lots more boss battles, an absolute ton more exposition than before and a Marathon Level with about 30 odd rooms in it to cap off the whole thing at the last possible minute.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape, you have to collect the Four Masks of Polokus. Three are in long levels and guarded by a boss, but the fourth and last one is given after you rescue the baby Globoxes shortly after the third one. You don't even meet a boss. Averted in the PS2 version, which adds in a boss fight for the fourth mask.
  • Rise of the Third Power: Starting with the destruction of the Resistance HQ, the game's plot accelerates to freeing Prince Gage from Udingrad, taking back Cirinthia, and getting Prince Gage to the final dungeon Peren Desh, with little character development for the newly recruited prince. The Grandmaster sidequests also feel rushed compared to earlier ones, with all the bosses getting very abrupt introductions before getting being defeated.
  • Shadowrun Returns:
    • The game has an in-universe example; "Knight-Kings of Lightninghold'' was a total fiasco of a TV-series which was so bad it got cancelled halfway through the first season. The directors desperately tried to tie up all the loose ends in a hastily compiled seventh episode retcon, but destroyed what little of the plot continuity they had left.
    Blitz: "Titonius Rex and his elf sweetie's dad make up, a bunch of elves fight the Jubuthons and get their asses kicked, and the whole 'Karabork the Demon Lord' subplot is dropped because the show's effects budget got cut. In the end, Titonius saves Lightninghold by rallying a peasant revolt. It comes out of nowhere, barely makes sense, and the whole thing ends in a vomit-inducing love scene. It's a goddamned train wreck."
    • The DLC for the Hong Kong expansion seems rushed, even for an epilogue to the main story. There are only three story missions and two side missions, and the ending forces you to choose between alienating your brother and abandoning your team, which left a sour taste to go with the genocidal mecha accompanying a military force that will take over Hong Kong entirely no matter what you do.
  • Star Ocean is well paced at first, but when you expect you're halfway done, you get sent to an Ass Pull final dungeon and introduced to a new (final) villain who monologues, explaining what would have been the second half of the game. The games' remakes were criticised for including this particular aspect too and not expanding it.
  • Super Robot Wars:
  • The second half of Star Fox Adventures is much shorter because of this. After a lengthy set of introductory tasks where the only Plot Coupon retrieved is the first Krazoa Spirit (by Krystal), Fox starts looking for the Spellstones and later the Krazoa Spirits. The first two Spellstones and the next two Krazoa Spirits take a while to find. The other two Spellstones and three Krazoa Spirits are gotten in a more rushed way. The very last Spirit, in fact, is supposedly earned after defeating Big Bad General Scales, until Andross interrupts the battle, orders Scales to give Fox the Spirit and, when the latter places it in its spot in Krazoa Palace, a sudden battle between Fox and Andross ensues. And then the game ends.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of the Abyss has this, with the recurring bosses you've been fighting for 60 hours suddenly going from "you beat me, I'd better retreat" to "you beat me, blarg I am dead" all at once. Also, one character who dies onscreen comes back later with no explanation whatsoever.
    • Tales of Vesperia interestingly does this when the story is only in its final act - once the second act concludes with the defeat of Alexei, a new threat (The Adephagos) appears and forces all the conflict of the game to surround around removing it. This would not be so much of a bad thing, were it not for the fact that all the character plots and subplots that aren't abandoned outright are relevated to easily missable sidequests and skits - past games have actually done a much better job of keeping characters' plots and subplots going even as the game reaches its final act.
    • Tales of Xillia was rushed for the series 15th anniversary, and it shows in the later half of the plot. Developments move at a rapid pace and many threads are aborted and left to sidequests. The main issue comes with the Halfway Plot Switch to a Save Both Worlds story. It'd probably work a lot better if the second world had more than four visitable areas. At least the second world got to be explored much more in-depth in the sequel.
    • Tales of Arise featured this once the party goes to Lenegis. Lenegis itself only includes one dungeon with a handful of sidequests. But then the party goes to Daeq Faezol for an extended Wham Episode. While everything was foreshadowed, it feels as if all the revelations are dropped with mulitple cutscenes and it should have had maybe a couple more playable exploration and/or segments to allow all the wham lines to settle in.
  • Undertale gives a rather simple premise, but there is actually more going on to perhaps no surprise. Unfortunately, the extent of just what is going on doesn't get revealed to the player until a massive info-dump moments before the game's supposed final boss battle. Likewise, the pacifist ending also includes a big Info-dump, but it at least is more spread out than the player being interrupted while walking on a path.
  • Xenogears had a two year deadline and was staffed with newbies with new technology, resulting in them running out of the time to complete the game. As a result, so they didn't release something with an unfinished story, the game's final disc adopted the infamous "interview chairs" design, wherein the main characters simply narrate to the player the remaining third of the plot with the occasional boss fight sprinkled in.
  • Xenosaga Episode III is written as if the creators sat there with a checklist of every major plot thread that needed to be resolved by the end. Considering that this was supposed to be a six-part series that suddenly found itself cancelled due to poor sales, this probably was the case. And they may have only learned this partway through production as well, if the rate at which the villains collect the Vessels of Anima is any indication. One is collected early on, another presumably just after, cut ahead a long time, and the rest are collected within the span of two or three hours. There are twelve of them in total. Naturally, the villains can't take the four being used by the heroes for obvious reasons, but still.

  • Narbonic, starting around the time when Shaenon K. Garrity announced its pending end, pretty much just mashed together nearly every single plot element over the course of a relatively short and disjointed Story Arc in order to hastily resolve pretty much everything.
  • Lampshaded by Belkar in this The Order of the Stick strip, though the plot slows down again after that burst of accomplishment.
  • Powerup Comics. Since the artist was departing for college, necessitating the end of the comic, every single plot twist and dramatic reveal from a few years' worth of story lines was crammed into the final weeks' comics. Of course, since the author and artist were fictional, too, this was completely intentional.
  • Mega Man Dissonance was always intended to simplify the platforming action of the games for the sake of the story and fight scenes. However, this came to a head in the final chapter, in which the Light Numbers fight and defeat 4 of the Element 5, while Mega Man and Proto Man storm the Big Bad's weather-manipulation device fortress. The resulting raid consists of a grand total of two battles with the main villains, with nothing else in-between apart from backstory explanations. Considering that the author drew the comic for years at that point, it's no wonder.
  • Not a poorly handled instance, but the author of Sabrina Online admitted to struggling to keep writing weekly material for the strip in its later years. When he recognized the 20th anniversary was approaching in 2016, he decided to unleash all the story ideas he had held back and reveal various character details to set up the wedding of the titular character and her longtime boyfriend. The result is the last few years of the strip feel like a major rush of plot advances compared to the more stagnant "slice of life" format before it. Ironically the author's forced deadline to "end" the strip reinvigorated his passion for it, and the "post-cancellation" comics since 2017 to the present day now are about equal in content to what the original run took two decades to create.

    Western Animation 
  • Bionicle: The Journey to One was likely planned to go on for another season or two before LEGO canceled it. So the final two episodes burn through a slew of ideas they had for the following year's arc: Umarak finds the scattered pieces of the Mask of Ultimate Power within the first few minutes, the concept of a Shadow Realm which swallowed up the capital city and its citizens is introduced, and suddenly there exists a prophecy that tells everyone what to do, freeing them from the burden of having to figure things out.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Cleveland Show. The episode is broadcast "live" and inevitably falls to a number of problems that take up air time, leaving Cleveland about thirty seconds to wrap up everyone's arc through half-hearted exposition.
  • Danny Phantom was not only given a shortened 13-episode third season as opposed to the 20 episodes of prior seasons, but creative differences between creator Butch Hartman and head writer Steve Marmel resulted in the last season having an entirely new set of writers. The end result was a divisive final season home to a lot of compressed storylines as they attempted to incorporate whatever story ideas they could, supporting characters such as Valerie falling by the wayside, and the romantic subplot concerning Danny and Sam going from a slow burn to constant Ship Tease moments up until their Last-Minute Hookup in the finale.
  • Gravity Falls: Alex Hirsch was adamant about wrapping up the show in its second season due to the first season causing him creative burnout, resulting in the back half of said season needing to quickly introduce and conclude a story arc about the Author of the Journals and The End of the World as We Know It, with any lingering plot points and conclusions to character arcs having to be relegated to post-series books Gravity Falls: Journal 3 and Gravity Falls: Lost Legends in the following years. For years, some fans were certain that the plotline was actually a condensed version of a planned Season 3.
  • Moral Orel gained a lot of attention for the Drama Bomb Finale of Season 2, in which Orel's Hilariously Abusive Childhood was given a massive Cerebus Retcon when a drunken Clay shoots him in the leg. The higher-ups initially let the creators to lean into this more dramatic direction...with the result being one of the darkest, most depressing cartoons ever made. After execs watched the season's bleakest episode "Alone", which dealt heavily with sexual assault, they quickly canceled the show, forcing several plotlines and character arcs to be wrapped up quickly and anti-climactically (namely Ms. Censordoll's attempt to take over Moralton), with the finale focusing on the collapse of Orel's family...only to abruptly flash-forward and end on Orel's somehow Happily Married adult life.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's season three finale, which was initially intended to be THE finale, crams together two very ambitious stories (the Mane Six's cutie marks being switched around and Twilight becoming an alicorn) into 22 minutes. The result was a Musical Episode where the writers resorted to using multiple musical montages to make the concept workable in just two acts rather than three.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes had its creative team learn that the show's third season would be its last partway through writing the episode outlines for said season, which was early enough for the network to let them scrap all the work that was already done in order to conclude all ongoing plot threads had to be addressed. As a result, the season has a rather frantic pace — especially in comparison to the more laidback first two seasons that focused more on episodic hijinks than the larger Myth Arc. This is even lampshaded in-universe in the episode "Big Reveal", in which Lord Boxman complains that he had expected to draw out the titular reveal "for at least another season!"
  • The Owl House, despite its growing popularity, only received a third season consisting of three double-length specials. This forced the show's creative team to scrap, rework, and speed through many of the ideas and story beats they had planned for Season 2B onwards in favor of a brand-new storyline that could be more easily fit within the remaining time. This is lampshaded by Luz in "O Titan, Where Art Thou".
    Eda:...Wouldn't you rather, I don't know, have a beach day?
    Luz: Maybe if we had time for 20 more adventures, but we don't!
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) special "Powerpuff Girls Rule!" was originally an hour-long, but was later cut down to half an hour due to Executive Meddling, resulting in the plot going at a breakneck pace and a lot of character dialogue being spoken quickly.