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Ending Aversion

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"Because if you try something fancy and screw up, readers are probably going to remember the botched ending more than the well run marathon."

When people get involved in a story, many have the basic expectation that it will have a satisfactory ending. This, in and of itself, is not unjustified: no matter how good Acts One and Two are, if Act Three is unsatisfying, that is all that the people outside the theater will be talking about.

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The thing is, so much conspires against a satisfactory conclusion.

Maybe the show was Screwed by the Network and was canceled before any of the questions it raised could be answered. Maybe as time went on, the story collected so many elements that there was no possible way that they could do each justice. Maybe it was the first part of a series left unfinished by the now-deceased or bored author, leaving the long epic unfinished. Maybe the Series Goal was never achieved. Maybe the writers just plain ran themselves out of creativity by the end of it, and so much Fanon Discontinuity is claimed, you could swear the fandom was composed solely of historical revisionists. Maybe the whole thing devolved into such unspeakable surreality that tainted the rest of the experience. Maybe you know that in-universe material taking place later in continuity actually makes any happy part of the ending a study in Fridge Horror. An exceptionally bad Cruel Twist Ending and/or Esoteric Happy Ending can also be the cause.

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Hearing about all these things makes many people very wary. No one wants to spend dozens of hours dedicating themselves to something that will leave them slowly disappointed. Maybe the overall experience would have more than compensated for any supposed deficiencies of the ending, but the potential viewer has been scared off.

This is Ending Aversion.

Now, of course, someone could make an attempt to keep watching it for as long as they liked it, then turn it off when they didn't. When someone becomes too attached to the characters and the whole story, however, that's easier said than done. This, then, often results in the viewer going online to complain about what happened in the story... and the cycle begins anew.

Ironically, the biggest contributor to Ending Aversion might just be those who consider themselves the most hardcore fans of a work. Criticism is fun to read and to write and fan discussion will inevitably lead to someone choosing to Accentuate the Negative of the shows they love: "They Changed It, Now It Sucks!", "It was better when all the mysteries were still up in the air.", "It was great when it started, but the last couple of seasons never happened", "The movie was actually pretty good until the ending ruined it", and so on.

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And well, it's hard to say that we're not somewhat to blame either.

If a work is avoided because of a Downer Ending, that is Angst Aversion.

Compare to Hype Aversion and The Firefly Effect (wariness of committing to a new show, as opposed to one that has concluded). See also Awesomeness Withdrawal. Contrast Ending Fatigue when the audience starts wanting the story to end.

Warning: Ending SPOILERS below.


Examples and Reasons:

Gainax Ending (It's completely out of left field)

  • St. Elsewhere was one of the first television series to do this, ending with an All Just a Dream revelation. The show was notable for lots of other things in its day, including being one of the first medical dramas, laying the groundwork for all future shows in the genre. However, the twist ending of its final episode and the Tommy Westphall Multiverse Hypothesis theory that resulted from it have completely overshadowed everything else about the show since then — therefore making it not very appealing to new viewers.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is infamous for its Gainax Ending, and is the main reason (but far from the only one) why the studio that produced it, Studio Gainax, became the Trope Namer. The last two episodes make so little sense that some fans might recommend you skip them and go straight to the movie End of Evangelion... except that End is equally as divisive! This makes it the rare work that is a clear example of something hit by Ending Aversion, Hype Aversion, and Angst Aversion.
  • The final episode of The Prisoner (1967), "Fall Out", was so confusing to audiences that creator Patrick McGoohan had to go into hiding from fans who hounded his home looking for answers and clarification.
  • Lost, what with the fact that the ending chose to go for a more metaphysical angle, with several of the questions being unanswered.
  • The Big O ran into a strange version of this. The first season ended on a Cliffhanger but due to the show's lack of popularity in Japan the staff didn't expect to continue it. However, the show became massively popular in America, to the point where Cartoon Network co-produced a second season. Unfortunately the inverse situation happened, with the second season raising far more questions than it answered (there's a reason this show is the Trope Namer for Tomato in the Mirror) with the full expectation that it would get a third season...which didn't happen.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's ending has a sufficient reputation for being bizarre and incomprehensible to bring about this trope. There's some stuff about memes, genetic memory, passing the torch, and America's destiny in a narration by Solid Snake. There's also a little kind-of-but-not-really closure with Raiden and Rose, with a last-second Mind Screw to set up the next part of the series. The general concensus is that the ending is definitely meant to say something... it's just hard to tell what exactly it said.
  • Mass Effect 3 has gained a reputation of being to Video Games what Lost was to Live-Action Television and what Neon Genesis Evangelion was to Anime (something that was made especially infamous by an interview made with the developers pre-release, which mentioned the former example by name and explicitly promised that the ending wouldn't be anything like that). The overwhelmingly poorly received original ending scared off numerous potential players, although the company later released DLC that seems to have made the endings more palatable and is reducing the effect considerably.
  • Roseanne also had a variation of the It Was All A Dream ending which pissed many fans off to no end and has been the biggest barrier of entry for new fans. Naturally when the series was revived decades later, the ending was immediately retconned.
  • Fallout 3 got a bit of a negative reputation after word of the ending, which involves either the Lone Wanderer or Sarah Lyons sacrificing themselves to start up Project Purity, got out. The backlash was more or less mitigated by later DLC, though due to not altering dialog the game still mocks the player as a coward for sending in a radiation-immune character to complete the task.
  • Alone in the Dark (2008) appears to be building up to a climactic confrontation with Lucifer, when it suddenly shoves that aside and presents the player with a Sadistic Choice between which protagonist gets possessed by him.
  • Seto and Ren from Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon head out together in search of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, but the ending narration features an aged Seto in a voiceover claiming Ren has died some time afterwards and he's all alone again. Within context, this is nonsensical because the point of the story was to state how alone Seto wasn't thanks to the number of Non Player Characters who accompanied him on his journey, insisting You Are Not Alone; Seto's monologue essentially puts him back into square one, which he was trying to avoid from the start of the game. What should have amounted into a Bittersweet Endingnote  instead winds up becoming an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • The final book in the Pine Hollow book series ends with the eponymous stable burning down and the deaths of five horses. What's more, the subsequent ending of the book is rather abrupt, not even offering the typical level of resolution for a Downer Ending.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: Is largely seen as disappointing. Its entire 26 episode run builds up the relationship between Van and Hitomi, the latter of whom almost never thinks of Earth. When she does return in Episode 24 (through her own magical pendant, due to being tired of war and death on Gaea), she's so bored with normal life and realizes she loves Van so much that she returns to Gaea to be with him, and in two episodes the strength and purity of their young love defeats the Big Bad and restores peace of Gaea... and then not five minutes later she casually decides to return to Earth forever anyway, despite still loving Van and still having a magic "instantly teleport between worlds" pendant. The fans who've seen Vision of Escaflowne Abridged actually find its ending to be Better Than Canon because it doesn't involve this trope.

Mind Screw (It's incomprehensible)

  • Twin Peaks, which also suffered from seasonal rot in the second series, both of which resulted from Executive Meddling. The writers had no intention of solving the main mystery of the show (Laura's murder), but were forced to come up with a solution by the network anyway. Then the network proceeded to order another season, even though the writers didn't have any plans beyond that. This caused massive amounts of Mind Screw, Kudzu Plot, and The Chris Carter Effect.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: Tsubasa basically ends with the Japanese equivalent of The Clone Saga, which just makes the plot utterly confusing and is a large departure from the originally advertised multi-dimensional adventures through numerous other CLAMP settings. Word of God admits even they don't understand what's going on. The show is no longer remembered as fondly as it used to.

Seasonal Rot (It's not worth the trouble getting there)

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 4 made some decisions that weren't very popular, though the general attitude is that season 5 got better again. Joss Whedon then took a year off during season 6 to focus on "Once More, With Feeling" (and Firefly), and while people do remember and celebrate the musical episode even years later, this meant that he handed off writing duties for season 6 to other writers, and it showed. Things got moving again in season 7 when Joss came back full time, and the story intentionally built up to the final battle, but many still found it to be little better due to problems with the characterization of much of the cast. There may be a slight aversion about "not being worth the trouble" because those who have heard about the issues with seasons 6-7 can simply stop at the conclusion of season 5, which wraps up most dangling threads and has a definite and satisfactory, although bittersweet, ending.
  • Battlestar Galactica: The first two seasons are great, to the point that it won a Peabody Award during the break between seasons two and three. When season 3 got underway, they started running out of ideas, and it was downhill from there. It didn't help that a large portion of the acclaimed writing staff (but not Ron Moore) left the show before season 3 got underway, particularly all of the female writers (who were acknowledged to have been the guiding hand in the writing of the female characters up to that point). Though there is also a large contingent of fans that thinks the second half of season 4 was where things started getting bad. And that's not even getting into the controversy over the series' Esoterically Happy Gainax Ending.
  • Scrubs: Season 8 ended JD's story (our protagonist and narrator for the entire series) on a high note and was intended to be a series finale. Season 9, however, revamped much of the cast (Turk and Cox were still regulars, others were relegated to guest stars), changed the setting, and had a different focus (med school). Series Creator Bill Lawrence initially wanted to rename the show to make it clear that this was a new beginning, but this was nixed by the network.
  • Heroes - Some people think the rot even began with the season one finale. The problem isn't that the writers never planned out the show... it's that they intended the show to have an anthology-format with a rotating cast. Problem was that the season one characters instantly became popular national sensations, so they were forced to come up with new plots for them on the fly. It didn't help that there was a Writer's Guild of America strike which truncated season 2. Viewers started leaving in droves during season 3 when they started just recycling plots from season 1 (how many times can Sylar flip-flop from evil to good and back?).
  • Stargate SG-1 - They'd sort of resolved all of the main story arc by the end of season 7, and a later episode broke the Fourth Wall to say that fans felt they phoned it in for season 8. Still, it ended with a Grand Finale that took out virtually all major galactic threats for good. The real break was seasons 9 and 10, when they introduced an entirely new set of villains, which to be honest were something of a retread of the earlier ones. They were even going to rename the show "Stargate Command" when season 9 began to try to emphasize how different it was, but rather than make a sequel/spinoff, the network felt more viewers would stay if they kept the name intact. The actual final episode isn't really a finale at all, so they had to wrap things up with two DTV movies.
  • Star Trek: Voyager - Depending on who you ask, the mid-series switch from Kes to Seven of Nine may cause this trope to apply to the early seasons. The finale is also controversial, especially the sudden Chakotay/Seven relationship. Old viewers are likely to warn new ones not to get invested in pairings like Janeway/Chakotay and Doctor/Seven for that reason.
  • Bunny Drop - While the second half of the story introduced a Genre Shift and a Time Skip that was disliked by some, what really turned off a larger portion of the audience was the inverted Wife Husbandry aspect of the ending, where the female protagonist Rin is revealed to be in love with the man who raised her for at least a decade, who is her nephew. It follows through 'til the end, and they end up as a couple. Worse, the author randomly reveals they aren't related after all, destroying the central aspect of the series.
  • Robin Hood ended its second season with the murder of Maid Marian at Guy of Gisborne's hands, described enthusiastically by the creators as "a shocking twist" and a chance to "rock the show". Audience reaction ran the gamut from bafflement to disgust, and it became increasingly clear throughout season three that the writers had put little thought into what would happen after removing the show's emotional centre. The show floundered through a range of unconnected plotlines and arbitrary new characters before being cancelled with all the fan-favourite characters dead, the hated Scrappies still standing, and several plot threads dangling. Still, it's quite fun telling non-viewers about Marian's death, they'll invariably pull a face and go: "Huh? Why would they do that?"
  • Many would-be readers are put off by Food Wars!, knowing it ends with a decline in quality by introducing Asahi, who destroys the dynamic of the series by being a Generic Doomsday Invincible Villain, bringing alongside him Serial Escalation breaking the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, and Ass Pull reveals, culminating with the manga having a lack of any real resolution to its plot.
  • The show Alias had two fascinating and complex seasons, but then a series of mistakes on the part of the writers, the producers, a dose of Executive Meddling, and a nasty feedback loop from shippers in the fan community derailed the series in Season 3. Throughout much of S3, the show circled in a holding pattern. Then, in S4 and S5, the ongoing, overarching storylines collapsed and the writers even began to lampshade their own failures.
  • Sliders, thanks to some of the most notorious Executive Meddling, lost the intellectual "what-if" in favor of "movie ripoff of the week" and bridge dropped almost the entirety of the original cast, leaving most fans abandoning ship by the fourth season.
  • Dexter, starting with the fifth season, was heavily criticized for its focus on more less well-received characters, lots of padding resulting in uneven pacing, and often underwhelming resolutions to its plotlines. When the eighth season concluded, a lot of people would recommend newbies to stop at season 4.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: Book eight raised some serious Timey-Wimey Ball questions and was considered inferior to most material preceding it, and books nine and ten are widely considered to be rot because they fail to adequately explain several plot threads, flat-out ignore others, throw in Villain Decay for the series' Big Bad, and hit the Reset Button to pair up the author's preferred couple (and drop a bridge on an Ensemble Dark Horse).
  • The 1980s hit the Classic series of Doctor Who very hard. There are lots of wonderful times to be had in the decade, of course, including a couple of mini-golden-ages, but it eventually just peters out in a little speech from the Doctor in a field after the malicious Executive Meddling and increasingly miniscule budget finally choked the show to death. If you're not the kind of person who gets off on watching a hugely popular show get slowly derailed and destroyed over a decade, binge-watching the entirety of '80s Who is not going to feel good. (Of course, if you're not that kind of person, this may not be the kind of wiki for you either.)
  • For Naruto many fans dismiss everything following the Pain Assault. The following two and final arcs (The Kage Summit and the Great Ninja War) all bleed into one another. Also, not helping matters is Sasuke's Base-Breaking Character status and the Power Creep of the main characters finally reaches its zenith. That the Big Bad was brushed away in favour of a brand new villain out of nowhere doesn't help. Said fans consider the battles unsatisfying and the epilogue has its own bag of worms due to controversy surrounding the final pairings.
  • Aldnoah.Zero: Season 2 already suffered issues, such as everyone surviving the season 1 finale, Inaho becoming even more overpowered and Lemrina being introduced out of nowhere. The ending itself was controversial for several reasons, such as Asseylum marrying a completely different guy and Slaine sentenced to life in prison.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V's ending is generally disliked overall, with complaints about it being rushed, not tying up loose ends, and seeming happy even when it's not, to the point that many fanfiction writers have either altered the ending to the series or just mentally erased it in its entirety. The ending has also hurt people's opinions of the series overall.
  • Danny Phantom's third and final season suffered from a lot of problems that led to a significant decline in popularity at the time. note  Criticism was aimed at how many of the show's subplots from the previous seasons were rushed or downright ignored, a majority of the characters undergoing some slight Character Derailment, and Danny and Sam's romance being present in nearly every episode even when there was no particular reason for it. The show's finale, "Phantom Planet," did nothing to alleviate these issues, especially with how it handled the main plot between Danny, Sam, Vlad, and Valerie.
  • Game of Thrones has a particularly disappointing final season, even compared to the previous three seasons. Low points include the anticlimactic battle with the Night King and his forces in Episode 3, a confrontation that had been built up since the start of the story, and Daenerys Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and torching King's Landing, thereby doing what the Mad King would have done if Jaime hadn't killed him. Said developments sapped many people's interest in the show, and some only continued to see how badly it might turn out.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has its last season. While Season 3 was more divisive on whether or not it was a serious step down in terms of storytelling and characterization, Season 4 was nigh-unanimously agreed to be the lowest point of the series. Though there were fans who still enjoyed what comedy there was to be had, complaints were made towards everything else: from the main story arc mostly being sidelined in favor of excessive romantic drama, to characters being either underutilized, flanderized, or performing spontaneous Face Heel Turns, to the introduction of subplots that were either rushed or straight-up forgotten, to an Arc Villain deemed less intimidating as previous antagonists. The series finale only made things worse by ending with an Inferred Holocaust committed by Star that none of the characters seem to acknowledge or care much about, followed by a forcible merging of two vastly different worlds, with the show treating this all as a happy ending.
  • Star Wars's sequel trilogy has The Rise of Skywalker begins by revealing that the entire sequel trilogy happened because the original Big Bad, Emperor Palpatine, never died (negating Anakin Skywalker's sacrifice at the end of the original trilogy) and had been manipulating the First Order from behind the scenes the entire time, and while he's killed for good this time, the movie ends with the Skywalker bloodline dying and new protagonist Rey (who is revealed to be blood-related to Palpatine) taking the Skywalker family name to safeguard their legacy. However, the movie ends with a more ambiguous And the Adventure Continues tone, lacking a true resolution for the saga, leading to many fans feeling that the sequel trilogy ruined the original trilogy's definitive hard-fought Bittersweet Ending for a more vague and less satisfiying resolution. The fact that there are no plans to show or explain what happens next (as Lucasfilms have decided to focus in the High Republic prequel brand and the Post-Imperial era before The Force Awakens) have also left many fans frustrated with the trilogy.
  • Both halves of season 5, Total Drama's final season, have gotten this reception for different reasons:
    • Few, if any fans, approve of the last episode of All-Stars (the last season to feature the Island or Revenge casts), as it left many loose plot threads hanging and abandoned several beloved characters unredeemed in the show, OR in the fandom. The fact that Fresh TV has abandoned the main series in favor of Total DramaRama only further adds to fans' dislike of it.
    • The ending of Pahkitew Island gets this for the same reasons as All-Stars; several plot threads introduced in the season (such as Amy and Samey's dysfunctional relationship and Dave's ultimate fate) are left hanging without resolution, only exemplified due to it being the absolute last episode of the main series. The finale is also considered disappointing due to it not bringing back any of the previously eliminated contestants beyond Dave and Jasmine and the endings not varying to any significant degree beyond a few seconds at the very end.
  • Sherlock: After a divisive third season, the final one, wich opens with the death of Mary Watson is generally agreed to be a major dip in quality (with a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes from both Audience and Critics). In particular, the finale revolves around the convoluted backstory of Sherlock and Mycroft's even more clever sister and her last minute redemption.

Bolivian Army Ending (Heroes headed to what may well be their doom)

The Resolution Will Not Be Televised (Instead, it takes place in a different medium)

The Chris Carter Effect (Much of the Kudzu Plot goes unresolved)

  • The X-Files, of course. Even attempts at The Resolution Will Not Be Televised did not go so well (the series ends with the protagonists "waiting" for a future cataclysm; the second movie was an unrelated plot that preceded this disaster; the supposed third movie to finally give closure languished in Development Hell; and while there was an Un-Cancelled tenth season miniseries, it started off retconning most of the built-up series mythology and itself ended on a Gainax Ending cliffhanger.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: A particularly frustrating example because although the series repeatedly goes out of its way warn you there won't be a happy resolution, what it doesn't tell you until the last book is just how little will be resolved at all.
  • Chrono Cross pulls more plot threads out of nowhere in one dungeon than some games pull their entire length. Chronopolis is already considered That One Level due to its status as a Marathon Level, a large amount of Info Dumps from NPCs throughout the level, and generally difficult random encounters. However, what really seals the dungeon's (and therefore, the game's) fate is the fact that the plot begins to enter full-on Mind Screw territory here in trying to properly tie it to the events of Chrono Trigger. Few of these plot points get properly resolved, it kills one of the characters from Trigger apparently just for the sake of shock value, and very little of it gets explained outside of the aforementioned info dumps if it gets explained at all.
  • Revolution added three more plot elements for every plot point it addressed directly, reminding viewers unfavorably of Lost.
  • Zero Escape's third and final game didn't follow up on that much from the previous game, and it ignored many promises made by Word of God.

Left Hanging / Cut Short (The central premise goes unresolved, often because outside forces kept it from doing so)

  • The Clone High finale set up the first high-stakes conflict of the show, kickstarted a new romance, and ended with the entire cast getting frozen solid. Unfortunately the first season was cancelled due to low ratings and controversy; a reboot is in the process, but it's unclear if they'll resolve this cliffhanger or start from scratch.
  • Lois & Clark - the series was cancelled after the 4th season ended on a Cliffhanger, with the newly married Lois & Clark finding an infant at their doorstep, and a note claiming that the child belongs to them.
  • Farscape - cut short due to abrupt cancellation at the end of season 4, after they'd already been told they'd get a fifth season, so they didn't plan it as the final season. The show did later get a finale-miniseries which was intended to be the truncated version of the plot developments in what would have been season 5. Surprisingly, this actually provided good explanations and resolution for many of the running plotlines, so ultimately Farscape averted this trope.
    • And now it has comics wrapping things up even tighter, including wrapping up the series-long plot point of Rygel wanting to take his throne back from his traitorous cousin (never done on the show because making and operating so many Hynerian puppets would have been impossible).
  • Stargate Universe: SGU was plagued with issues from the very start, and the steadily dropping ratings convinced SyFy to cancel the show after its second season. As a result, the second season ended on a major cliffhanger, since the writers had assumed they'd have a third season or at least a movie to resolve the remaining plot threads.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which attempted to save the show by coming up with the biggest twist they could think of, only for it not to save the show and ultimately drive fans of the show insane. With a completely unrelated Terminator series on the cards, it seems fans will forever be in limbo.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! was given a rushed ending when Ken Akamatsu fought with the editors regarding property rights over the series and decided to End The Franchise Early And Run rather than surrender them.
    • The first anime also had a very rushed ending as the creators thought they would have multiple seasons to work with (as was necessary to adapt Negima faithfully) and were disabused of this notion with only 1/3 of the season left to wrap it up.
  • Caprica. Not as bad as some of the examples in that the writers were given time after the series' cancellation to write an epilogue to wrap the show up, but the entire thing is just one huge sequence of What Could Have Been.
  • The Event tried to set up an epic Jigsaw Puzzle Myth Arc about an Alien Invasion of Earth, but wound up bungling the setup so badly that it got cancelled after one season, just as it was Growing the Beard and finally moving into the proper meat of the story. You could watch it... if you don't mind sitting through hours of build-up only for the show to end right at the most dramatic part.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The game ended on a massive Cliffhanger that would have been a great Sequel Hook... except that (depending on who you ask) either Sanzaru Games had no plans to make a sequel and wrap up the game's plot, or Sanzaru did want to make a DLC or sequel, but got shot down by Sony. The game itself is a Contested Sequel to the first three games, and with that plus the cliffhanger being a major Downer Ending when taken on its own, fans just don't want the series to end that way.
  • Army of Two: The Devils Cartel: The game had already pissed several fans off by dancing around the fate of a character from the previous two games (I.E. not revealing whether they were alive or just missing) and its major plot twist halfway through the game (which many felt was completely nonsensical and utterly destroyed the characterization of previously good character for no good reason), and then to top it off the final scene throws out some vague hints towards a sequel, which given the games disappointing sales and its studio going bankrupt will likely never happen.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode 2 ends on a major cliffhanger. However, Valve seems to have lost any interest in developing a continuation... at least, until Half-Life: Alyx.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico suffers from this due to Prince Of Darkness (Which was supposed to be the first in a trilogy) bombing from the number of problems with it including breaking from the spirit of the series. Having a Japanese Saturn only game that explains what happens between the end of the series and the movie only made things worse.
    • This also happens In-Universe with Akito hesitant to watch the last episode of Gekiganger. In the final episode, he did...and he said it sucked due to the massive amount of Ass Pull included in one episode.
  • Beelzebub was cut short during the Fuji Arc, resulting in a hurried Final Boss readers found unsatisfying (especially as the Takamiya Arc was a similar but longer version of it) and many plot threads about the Solomon Company left dangling. Thankfully the creator did manage to get an epilogue in, but that still left a lot unanswered.
  • Bionic Commando 2009 has a cliffhanger ending with Spencer falling to an unknown fate after killing Super Joe, and a Morse code stinger telling of the activation of a new Project Albatros[s]. Poor sales of this and the Licensed Game of Terminator Salvation led to development studio GRIN going out of business, and the following (and currently last) game, BC Rearmed 2, was a midquel.
  • Mega Man Legends 2 ended with Mega Man Volnutt stranded on the moon, and Roll and Tron beginning construction on a rocketship to rescue him. Unfortunately, the third game got cancelled and Keiji Inafune left Capcom, so the story will likely never be concluded.
  • Bleach fell into this for a sizable segment of the fanbase. After a very long, drawn-out final arc, the Big Bad abruptly kills all his remaining minions, is himself quickly dispatched with a method that had limited foreshadowing, and for the last two chapters the story fast forwards ten years to an epilogue that leaves multiple questions unanswered and included some controversial romantic pairings. Three months after the conclusion of the manga Kubo revealed on his Twitter that he decided to shorten the manga due to health concerns, though the Grand Finale was in fact what he had always intended from the beginning.
  • Silver Surfer was cancelled early because of Marvel's bankruptcy in the 1990s. So the show concludes on a major Cliffhanger where Thanos the Mad Titan ends all of existence.
  • X1999 (the manga) went into a hiatus since 2003 with the last scene showing Kamui, lying on the ground with Fuuma, preparing to stab him with his sword. A decade has passed and CLAMP became too focused on other projects, not even bothering to touch the series which made fans of the manga feel that the story will never continue at this point.
  • Dark Angel's Season 2 cliffhanger finale was planned to be resolved in the premier of Season 3, but Fox's cancellation of the show left it in limbo.
  • Profiler ended on a season cliffhanger—the Big Bad for most of the final season has been killed by another bad guy, of unknown motives, who is in the middle of carrying out his scheme.
  • The Spectacular Spider Man ended after only two seasons with a real Downer Ending of a cliffhanger in which Harry emotionally blackmails Gwen into staying with him, preventing her and Peter from getting together, the Connors are fired and made to relocate to Florida, and Norman Osborn (aka the Green Goblin) is revealed to have survived his battle with Spider-Man and is thus free to continue his schemes under a new alias. This cancellation resulted from the show being Screwed by the Lawyers (Marvel extending Sony's film rights to Spider-Man in exchange for the character's television rights), as the show was intended to last five seasons.
  • King Arthur & the Knights of Justice ended abruptly after two seasons, with only four of the twelve MacGuffins recovered, and the original King Arthur and his knights still trapped in the Cave of Glass.
  • ALF ended the fourth and final season with a cliffhanger with ALF getting abducted by the government. While there eventually was a followup, a TV-movie made six years later, for starters it's hard to find due to not being widely available like the TV series, and second, the people who have seen it ended up disliking it especially due to having no mention of what happened to the Tanners, leading the same people to disavow its existence.
  • SpacePOP ends season 1 on a cliffhanger with nothing resolved, and due to lack of viewer interest, season 2 was never made.
  • Shenmue III finally came out after nearly twenty years of Development Hell. Not only was the game widely derided for its shoddy technical quality and archaic game design decisions, but it ended the story on yet another cliffhanger, with no certainty of a fourth game ever coming out.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was originally going to be a trilogy, but thanks to the mixed reception of both episodes, the third episode was cancelled and the second episode ended with Little Planet trapped inside the Death Egg Mk. II. Even collecting all the Chaos Emeralds does nothing, as the Sequel Hook cutscene was removed before the game's release.
  • Tripods was cancelled after just two seasons, despite being based on a book trilogy. As a result, the series ends on a massively depressing cliffhanger.
  • Crime Story was supposed to have a five-year run in a story spanning two decades. It was cancelled after two, ending on an unresolved cliffhanger.
  • In a truly stunning bit of bad luck, ReBoot narrowly avoided this with its third season, which warps up the major plot threads and gives a satisfying conclusion to the story, only to get Uncanceled. The creators proceeded to go into season four with the expectation they would have at least five... and instead the show was almost immediately canceled a second time! As a result, the last episode ends on a massive Cliffhanger where the Big Bad takes control of the heroes's headquarters and all hope seems lost. There are quite a lot of fans who suggest to newcomers that they simply stop watching at the season three finale because of this.

Author Existence Failure (Creator didn't live to finish the work)

  • Riget - not the author, just around 4 essential cast members.
  • The last Tintin book, Tintin and Alph-Art, was left incomplete by Herge's death in 1983. The book was published 3 years later (or at least, incomplete notes and rough drawings). The book ends with Tintin about to be executed by liquid polyester

Ending Fatigue (Takes too long to get to that ending)

  • Babylon 5: Faced with uncertainty over the show's renewal, J. Michael Straczynski rewrote Season 4 to resolve the show's Myth Arc. Season 5 was greenlit during production, and JMS' attempts to rework unused story arcs from Season 4 led to Ending Fatigue until the actual finale. Fortunately, the Distant Finale (shot for Season 4 but held back after the show's renewal) is actually really good and satisfactorily wraps up all the remaining plot threads of the series. Many fans just skip straight from the end of the Shadow War (or the end of Season 4, which is after) to "Sleeping in Light." Some further downplay it by skipping the telepaths plot, which is the main source of Arc Fatigue in season 5.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, due to being Christmas Rushed, had two of its planned dungeons scrapped and replaced with a lengthy Fetch Quest of finding Triforce Charts, and paying Tingle to decipher those to find the Triforce Shards themselves. Luckily, the Wii U Updated Re-release simplified this quest so that only three of the Shards require Charts, the rest can be acquired directly.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is infamous for its Disappointing Last Dungeon, YHVH's Universe, being a massive network of teleporters in a dungeon that's not only obnoxiously big but also visually unappealing, with most enemies being simply souped-up versions of previously-encountered demons that can't be scanned and can't be talked to.

No Ending (Too much is just left completely unanswered or unaddressed)

  • The Sopranos is a particularly controversial example. The ending may depict Tony's death but it's left very ambiguous and up to the viewer's interpretation.
  • Stuart Little. It should be noted that this only applies to the original book and not the movies.
  • In a literal example, No Man's Sky: while the game is very open-ended, one of its goals is to get to the center of the galaxy. Upon doing so, players are immediately teleported to a different galaxy, with absolutely no reward for their efforts.
  • To Love-Ru Darkness: The male protagonist chooses none of the girls in his Unwanted Harem, resulting in the awkward situation of everyone continuing to vie for his affections while he still remains oblivious about some of their feelings. To top it off, while he does state that the Girl Next Door/Childhood Friend is his "number one", and said characters are usually the preferred choice in such stories by most Western audiences, said girl is actually a Base-Breaking Character and viewed as the worst choice he could make by fans outside Japan.
  • Retail left some people unsatisfied with the ending, with only vague ideas of what all the leads will do once the store closes, and the final strip showing the Grumbel's sign being taken down so a Dollar Admiral could move into its space. This resulted in some fans making up their own endings for characters. (There were some that did enjoy the non ending though, as that's pretty much what would happen in real life when a store goes out of business: it just closes, is replaced by something else if it's lucky, and one may never know what happens to its former employees.)
  • In 36 Questions, while the ending makes it clear that Jase finally forgave Judith for all the lies she told, it does not make it clear as to whether or not they got back together in the end.

Orphaned Series (Creator just didn't finish what they started)

  • RPG World was dropped in the final arc, right as the hero was confronting the Big Bad. Years later it got a Fully Absorbed Finale of sorts in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes.
  • Every Dead Fic in existence, by the concept's very nature.
  • Keychain of Creation unfortunately came to an end after the artist ran into severe health issues, compounded by regretting some creative choices making them uncomfortable with containing the comic as-is, effectively leaving the story off at the start of a new leg of the adventure.
  • Hiimdaisy left off her Persona 4 comic right after Rise's dungeon, and has stated an active disinterest in finishing it.
  • Edgar & Ellen: The creators seemed to lose all interest in finishing the book series and it's more serious Myth Arc after the TV series was greenlit.
  • The Ballad of Halo Jones was planned as a nine issue comic, but got cancelled after just three, due to a dispute between Alan Moore and his publisher. So, we never got to see Halo's full journey.
  • Joss Whedon planned Dollhouse as a five season show. It was cancelled after just two.

Doomed by Canon (Prequel-specific — knowing what happens to the characters in the original makes it hard to care about their pasts)

Keep Circulating the Tapes (There's an ending, but good luck finding it)

  • Zot!, for quite a while. (The final set of print issues, representing Zot's adventures on our Earth, and often described as some of the best work of the series, had not been collected in trade form until later.)

Cruel Twist Ending (also includes Happy Ending Override and Diabolus ex Machina)

  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion is infamous for its extremely controversial Cruel Twist Ending. Especially troublesome because the original series already had a conclusive ending that was much more positive and hopeful; a sequel movie was never considered until the series became a runaway success, and with their starkly opposed conclusions, fans are forced to choose whether or not to consider Rebellion canon.
  • Far Cry 5 plays mostly like its two predecessors, until you've witnessed all three endings and realize there's absolutely no way to bring the Big Bad to justice. You either capitulate right in the intro cinematic, let him get off scot-free during your final encounter and assumingly get yourself brainwashed into killing all your friends afterwards, or you arrest him and thus trigger nuclear armageddon out of absolutely freaking nowhere, which means this raving lunatic was right all along. Doesn't get much more unsatisfying than that, something that quickly began making its way to prospective buyers from the day after the game's release.
  • In The Stinger of Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, Gabe and Lian, discussing possible retirement, return to their gym hideout to find Lawrence dead and Teresa critically wounded at the hands of Trinidad, who proceeds to gun down Gabe as well, although he takes her out with a Last Breath Bullet. Cue Fade to Black with Lian performing CPR on Gabe. Sony has officially stated that they are done with the series. Years after the release of Logan's Shadow, the series was brought back by Sony in the form of Days Gone, which takes place in the same universe.
  • River City Girls got hit by this fast and hard because of how drastic and out of nowhere the ending initially feels. Kunio and Riki were not only not kidnapped, but it turns out that Misako and Kyoko aren't their girlfriends, Hasabe and Mami are. The entire game was basically two ditzy Stalker with a Crush Ex-Girlfriends tearing up a city for the sake of a relationship that doesn't exist, for two guys who weren't in any danger and don't even know they exist. In response to the backlash, however, a patch has been released that changes the ending to be less mean-spirited with the original ending being Retgone.
  • An early fansub for the Saikano has a disclaimer at the end of the third to last episode in which Chise abandons her duties and runs away with Shuuji saying that if the viewer wants a happy ending they should just stop right there.
    A friendly warning from the team: This is the end of happiness in Saikano. If you would prefer the anime to have a happy end, consider stopping here and pretending there are no more episodes. Continuing will only bring misery and pain. You have been warned...
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender's final episode is disliked by a majority of the fanbase with some complains being about the fates of certain characters such as the deaths of Allura and Lotor, the former being a major woobie and the latter being a very deep and compelling villain who many thought would have more to do, Honerva being a Karma Houdini who gets away with almost destroying the multiverse and for Lance's and Shiro's epilogue with the former becoming an Altean for some reason and Shiro marrying his helmsman who he barely interacted with as a hamfisted attempt at a Author's Saving Throw regarding the way they handled the character of Adam.

Miscellaneous

  • While it was received well by critics, the ending of Adventure Time was received with mixed reception by fans. Some fans praised the ending for being a satisfying conclusion for the series and officialy confirming Princess Bubblegum and Marceline's relationship as canon, but others hated it and considers it an incomplete ending for not having a battle between PB's army and the Candy Kingdom Haters (which were teased at the end of the previous episode before the finale), GOLB not having any character and just being a Generic Doomsday Villain who does nothing, the absence of the Lich, Finn being reduced to a secondary character and a Distressed Dude alongside Simon and Betty during the final battle, the Downer Ending between Simon and Betty's relationship, many plot points being left unsolved, the lack of closure of Finn's relationship with Huntress Wizard (doesn't help that most of the characters have some sort of romantic moment during the episode) and the lack of any scenes with Finn in the ending montage other than the last scene, with other characters such as PB and Marcy getting more focus. With the announcement of the Distant Lands sequel miniseries, fans are hoping that most of these issues get addressed.
    • The post-finale comics somewhat reduces some of these issues. While Season 11 ends with a somewhat decent closure to Finn and the implication that he and Huntress Wizard are still dating, the ending of Marcy and Simon got a very mixed reception. While some are happy that Simon and Betty are finally together, others feel like it negates part of the finale since her sacrifice to save everyone from GOLB was rendered pointless.
  • After School Nightmare alienated multiple fan factions with its ending to a degree that they no longer recommend it, for completely different reasons:
    • The people who were reading for the mystery arc, who thought that the final explanation was simply too silly and bizarre.
    • The shippers, who were unhappy that Mashiro and Sou end up in the real world but with no knowledge of each other or memory of their love.
    • The people who were reading for the exploration of ambiguous gender, who thought that the revelation that Mashiro's gender ambiguity is because they are actually fraternal twin foetuses sharing a mind meant that the situation was either reactionary in implication, or too fantastic to have any possible real-world relevance.
  • The final episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, "The Inquisition", ends on a Sudden Downer Ending wherein the Void starts to consume Elmore (something that had been heavily foreshadowed prior), with the heavy implication that the town and everyone in it is going to be erased from existence. Much of the show's fanbase was not impressed that the show ended with the show's world possibly being destroyed, and all of its beloved inhabitants along with it. Unusually for this trope, the show's creator Ben Bocquelet agreed with the fanbase, claiming that the show was meant to end on a different note than the highly uncertain one that the show ultimately used.
  • BIONICLE was hit by a Kudzu Plot Ending Fatigue which relied too much on Shocking Swerves and was Left Hanging due to a massive Schedule Slip, with only one of the plots wrapped up. Throw The Chris Carter Effect in there somewhere, along with the post-script revelation that almost all the character deaths have been undone or redone off-screen.
  • Citrus ends with Mei leaving Yuzu for another Arranged Marriage, long after her first one ended up falling through, thus forcing Yuzu to pull out all the stops to get through to Mei in time. Not only do many people dislike that Mei doesn't seem to have changed at all, but the situation is also largely resolved off-panel with a montage of dialogue-less panels, before cutting to a standard happy ending in which the two stepsisters/lovers get married. Many people are dissatisfied with the events in the last six chapters of the manga, the rushed conclusion, or both.
  • Corpse Party tends to have some aversion due to its Player Punch endings in Book of Shadows and Corpse Party Bloodcovered, Blood Drive (the game that is in theory the Grand Finale of the Heavenly Host saga, as all manga adaptations and mainline games led to this installment due to time loops) takes the cake for not only causing this trope (in the western fandom AT LEAST) but also causing a huge division in the fans due to its almost downer ending and being a HOPE CRUSHER. Because despite all trailers and promotional material might suggest... Nobody was revived in Blood Drive, which is one of the main plots of the game. To add insult to injury, not only Ayumi was left in a vegetative state and had all the people's memories of her erased (except Yoshiki, that stayed with her) and the survivors didn't even say goodbye to their dead friends is another common complaint. The kicker to top it all off even more? Dead Patient has expies of characters like Seiko, Mayu...
  • The Arrowverse's 2017 crossover, Crisis on Earth-X was mostly well-received, and was on track to being better than last year's own well-received crossover, Invasion!. Of course then the ending happened: the infamous double wedding, where Felicity Smoak interrupted Barry Allen and Iris West just as they were about to seal their wedding vows, so she could selfishly and haphazardly tack on her own wedding to Oliver Queen. And this was after spending almost the entire crossover wangsting about how she didn't want to marry Oliver. This ending pleased absolutely no one except the writers and the hardest of hardcore Olicity shippers; everyone else hated it to the point that it killed whatever was left of Olicity's dwindling popularity and cemented Felicity as the biggest Scrappy in the entire Arrowverse. For many, it was the moment they gave up on Arrow for good.
  • Danganronpa:
  • David Eddings':
    • The Dreamers series. It's generally described as a pretty average series, not as good as the Belgariad/Malloreon or the Elenium/Tamuli, but a decent read overall... except the ending. There are some fans who loved the whole series, but they are vastly outnumbered. Why? Well, the ending had the most powerful gods decide to finally take down the enemy by going back in time and rendering said enemy infertile. Not only was there no reason why they couldn't have done this before, but this had the effect of writing the whole series out of existence, setting everyone back to where they were at the beginning of the series (with some changes- for example, a minor character got brought back to life, though one of the main characters had to stay dead) and making it so that nothing in the previous books had happened. Upon finishing the books and realizing that the first three books were entirely meaningless, most of the fans flipped their shit.
    • To make matters worse, he did the same thing in the standalone novel The Redemption of Alathas: the titular character and his goddess girlfriend go back in time and defeat the Big Bad in the past by waiting until he attacked their cabin and kicking him out of reality. Fans were especially upset when he used such a weak ending a second time.
  • While the ending is a foregone conclusion what with it being a part of history, the ending to Dinosaurs made a lot of people unhappy due to its Sudden Downer Ending where Earl accidentally ends up causing the Ice Age, leading to the inevitable deaths of the entire cast.
  • Towards the end of The Dirty Dozen, our protagonists trap some German soldiers and civilians in a cellar, and then burn them to death. This has made some people reluctant to watch the rest of the film, which is generally good fun.
  • Dragon Ball Super's Future Trunks Saga started off strong; fans were glad to see Ensemble Dark Horse Trunks return, the plot was interesting, and the fights were some of the best-animated in the entire Dragon Ball franchise. But that all came crashing down around the Final Battle; firstly by playing up Goku's Idiot Hero tendencies despite the fact that they put the fate of the world at risknote . Plenty of fans were also unhappy with the Retcon giving the Potara Earrings a time limit seemingly just to bring back Vegito without having to worry about the fusion being permanent. Then came the Diabolus ex Machina at the end, where after being killed by Trunks, Zamasu returns as a bodiless energy being and manages to kill everyone aside from the main characters, followed by the Future Zen-Oh completely destroying the universe, meaning Trunks' efforts were All for Nothing. And the final straw is the denouncement, where Future Trunks and Mai leave for a different timeline (where they'll still have to live alongside the versions of themselves from that timeline) presumably never to be seen again. The general consensus is that the story should have ended one episode earlier, with Trunks killing Zamasu.
  • Dying Light: Both of the endings in The Following result in either Crane being turned into a volatile and spreading the infection outside of quarantine, or willingly activating a nuclear warhead to contain the infection by destroy all of Harran and its inhabitants. Suffice to say, the endings hurt many potential players' desire to play the DLC, or even the original game, for that matter.
  • Gilmore Girls's original ending in season 7, while left things fairly resolved on a positive note, the fact that it (along with season 7) wasn't written by creator Amy Sherman-Palladino left many of the fandom wondering what her true ending was and begrudgingly accepted it for what it was. Come 2016, and Sherman-Palladino revived the series to give it the true story ending that she wanted. Most fans were happy with how Lorelai and Emily's story arcs concluded, but the fact that Rory ends up pregnant and likely to repeat her mother's mistakes and that Jess may or may not still be pining after her like his uncle did with her mother sent most of the fans into a rage and declaring the revival's ending non-canon.
  • How I Met Your Mother's finale is one of the most controversial, love-it-or-hate-it endings on record. Barney and Robin get divorced after only three years; Barney goes right back to his womanizing ways and fathers a child with one of his one-night stands; Tracy (a.k.a. the Mother) is revealed to have died in 2024; the kids encourage Ted to go after Robin yet again. The meltdown among fans and critics was big enough to make the news and is likely to haunt the series for years to come, although some fans have been mollified by the alternate ending released with Season 9's DVDs (which basically just leaves out the unpopular bits at the very end).
  • Homestuck had the one-two punch of Seasonal Rot in the form of the Base-Breaking Act 6 and a borderline Gainax Ending where only the bare-bones conflicts were properly resolved with a number of side characters seemingly vanishing. A number of things, including the fate of the Big Bad, are left to speculation. That the heroes' victory was mainly brought on by introducing a new form of time travel that "retcons" away the old timeline does not help. Also not helping is that the comic is regarded to invert this trope as well, with the Slow-Paced Beginning being seen as the biggest entry barrier for new readers.
    • Three years after the conclusion, The Homestuck Epilogues were released, which helped mend a few issues people had with the later parts of the comic. The concepts of the retcon and "canon" were elaborated upon and deconstructed, a few loose ends were tied up, characters were given more conclusive arcs, and the final battle from canon got a proper conclusion. However, the Epilogues broke the fanbase as well. Common criticisms/points of contention include the way everyone acted and whether or not it was Out of Character, the Mind Screw nature even by Homestuck standards, characters such as the Sprites being inexplicably absent,note  and ending on a cliffhanger despite the title implying otherwise.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, courtesy of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon's barrage of Diabolus ex Machina, Happy Ending Override, and Retcon note  over all the past installments, caused quite a few fans to lose hype for Kingdom Hearts III (which 3D was supposed to build up to).
    • III itself has also gotten flak with the revelation that Xehanort turns out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist after all, and many saw him as too Easily Forgiven by the heroes despite being the man who unleashed darkness across many worlds, the man responsible for ruining countless lives as well as the man who flat out murdered Kairi in the same game just to provide motivation, leaving his defeat to be utterly unsatisfying. There is also the issue that everyone in the cast got their happy ending...except Sora and Kairi as the former has just sacrificed himself to save the latter, leaving him separated once again in a ploy that many fans found it to be a cheap Sequel Hook that could possibly take decades to release. Fortunately, an expansion named Re-Mind set after the events of the story (but before the final scene and The Stinger) with the surviving characters (alongside returning Final Fantasy characters who were absent in the main game) tying lose ends while giving them a chance to shine one last time. While not perfect, it gave a better finale to the characters than the vanilla game, who many felt rushed and unsatisfactory. Of course, you still have to pay 30 US dollars for something that (depending on who you ask) should have already been in the base game.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake got a nasty case of this from the old guard once the ending of the first part came to light. Sephiroth (potentially the same Sephiroth from after the events of Advent Children) manipulates Cloud and his friends into killing the "arbiters of fate", leading to alterations in the timeline, the biggest of which is Zack's survival, with the implication that future events will not happen as they were supposed to as now Cloud and co. are aware of them. A lot of this is a case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! when some became convinced that future installments would veer more heavily from the plot of the original.
  • The anime adaptation of Kumamiko Girl Meets Bear has Machi successfully doing a performance in front of a crowd (with great difficulty and by going to her Happy Place), but once she completes her performance, she hallucinates that the cheering crowd is throwing rocks at her and has a complete breakdown. She continues to falsely believe that the crowd attacked her after she gets home and becomes terrified of the city. Then Machi, broken and dead-eyed, gives up her dream of living in there. Instead of correcting her delusions and getting her psychological help, her friends happily celebrate her decision, with Natsu in particular telling a fragile Machi that she never has to think about anything ever again. The final scene of the series reveals all of Machi's Character Development has been now undone, as her trauma and delusions have led her to mentally regress into a toddler, fulfilling Natsu's own wish that she remain eternally reliant on him... and the show treats all this as a positive thing, with lighthearted music playing throughout. Even the original author of the source material has publicly denounced the show's ending, while one of the anime's writers completely scrubbed all mention of it from their resume after its airing.
  • Although some watchers feel OK about the ending of the Korean movie Love, So Divine, the others disagree due to an Esoteric Happy Ending where the male protagonist finally gives up becoming a priest and go together with his love interest, which is heavily implied that "Love is not like religion, but over religion" for some audiences who are Christians or Catholics.
  • Macross Delta: The finale has the… unenviable position of having to tie up so many loose ends at once, making it clear the production crew was on a deadline. Delta, especially in its second half, suffered from weak pacing, underdeveloped characters and excessive subplots and the finale has to ignore for the sake of the main plot. Executive Meddling is to blame for this one, as it forced Shoji Kawamori to change the plans he had for the show.
  • Magical Starsign's ending is heavily disliked, as not only does the person you were trying to save the whole game die, the epilogue has every character acting against the development they received or getting all-new hopes and dreams. The romance is also left unresolved.
  • Mai Hime, for undoing almost all the character deaths and associated traumas, although those critical of the darker tone in later episodes, among others, disagree.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Mortal Kombat 9 had this thanks to a desire by franchise co-creator; Ed Boon, to create a completely new cast of characters for the next game. For this to happen, they killed off nearly the entire cast at the end of Story Mode in a very sloppy fight scene where the Earthrealm warriors are killed off one by one by Sindel and turned into evil undead revenants. The purpose of this scene was clearly to allow for a roster full of new characters in the next game. However, the ensuing fan backlash over the deaths of iconic characters like Kung Lao, Sub-Zero II, Jax, Kitana and Jade and promising reimagined characters like Smoke forced them to include non-canonical older versions in the roster of Mortal Kombat X (with the exception of Sub-Zero and Jax, who are fully revived). This was most notable with Mortal Kombat 11 as its story brings the younger versions of Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Kitana and Jade (alongside a pre-Character Development Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and a younger and optimistic Jax) into the present to fight their evil undead versions.
    • The ending of the vanilla Mortal Kombat 11 story has also become this as it ends with the current timeline erased and the promise of a new timeline. Aftermath was later released that allowed players to choose between a more fulfilling good ending or having Shang Tsung win.
  • The finale of the Dwarves' quest line in RuneScape was controversial for its big twist. Turns out you'd already won in the penultimate quest and didn't know it, with your victory in that quest convincing the bad guys to give up. The only reason they're fighting you is that you attacked them first in anticipation of an attack that was never going to come. In the end, the two main villains sort-of commit suicide because you won't leave them alone. Yay?
  • Samurai Jack: Creator Genndy Tartakovsky, originally intended to for a movie to end the series. The film kept getting hit with Development Hell until it was ultimately decided to make it a fifth season instead several years later on [adult swim]. Season 5 was well-received but became divisive because of its Cruel Twist Ending where Ashi disappears due to Aku (her father) being destroyed before she was conceived, denying Jack a true Happy Ending. While it makes sense as a solution to what would otherwise be a paradox, it only brings up the other paradox of if Future Jack came back to the past and killed Aku shortly AFTER Past Jack had been flung into the future, how would Future Jack have come back to the past at all? Ashi wouldn't have existed in the future, because Aku was killed, but she was the one who brought Jack back to the past. You end up in a logic loop of "If Ashi exists, Jack erases Ashi's existence, but if Ashi doesn't exist, Jack can't erase Ashi's existence, allowing Ashi to exist.
    • Three years after the series ended, Adult Swim Games and Genndy Tartakovsky released Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time to the public. Collecting every Corrupted Emperor's Kamon in the game and fighting Aku unlocks a revised version of the show's ending, this time with Ashi surviving and marrying Jack, ending the series with them sitting under the cherry tree. Said game is considered canon to the show.
  • Sonic Mania. The game, in a first for the Classic series, ends on a Sequel Hook for Sonic Forces. Considering how divisive Forces is and the ending having Sonic getting sent away, some fans were not happy. This is somewhat reduced however with the Updated Re-release's new Encore Mode who happens after the events of Forces with an ending which doesn't tease anything new.
  • While an unsatisfying winner can taint a season of Survivor (examples being The Australian Outback, Samoa, Kaoh Romg and Game Changers), none hit as hard as the finale of Season 35, Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, which throws a last-minute twist at the very last Tribal Council to save a contestant who was already a major Elimination Houdini and went on to win the game instead of several EnsembleDarkhorses, turning a previously acclaimed season into Seasonal Rot. An even more controversial example is Season 38, Edge of Extinction , in which a castaway who was eliminated third rejoined the game at the final five with an idol (meaning he only had to survive two regular Tribal Councils and was protected for one of them), and also won the game, angering fans of even more EnsembleDarkhorses who believed he shouldn't have won and that the game was rigged for the Edge of Extinction returnee.
  • The ending of Toy Story 4 has earned plenty of controversy from fans of the series, as Woody leaves Bonnie, as well as Buzz Lightyear and all his other longtime toy friends, for a new life as a "lost toy" with Bo Peep and her Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
  • The 2019 revival of Veronica Mars had mostly positive reception. However, it received massive backlash from fans for the last ten minutes of the final episode in which Veronica's love interest Logan is killed in a bombed car shortly after their wedding.

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