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Last-Second Joke Problem

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So you've reached the end of the story. All the major problems and plot points have been resolved, and it's time for our heroes to ride off into the sunset. It's perfect.

...except, maybe it's a little too perfect. Maybe it would feel a bit unrealistic, or it just wouldn't match the tone of the work, or you just want to end on a joke. That's where this trope comes in. At the very last second, a new problem arises and isn't resolved. Bam! End Credits.

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Unlike the Sudden Downer Ending, this isn't intended to ruin the mood. It's still a happy ending! It's just a happy ending with a small joking nod to how things aren't perfect, and that's ok, and we trust that the heroes will deal with it somehow.

A cousin of And the Adventure Continues, but that trope would set the heroes off on a proper quest that could plausibly be a whole plot by itself. This, in contrast, is just here as a joke. Compare also to The End... Or Is It?, where the villain is suggested to not quite be defeated.

Sometimes a sequel will be based on one of these, in which case the trope is retroactively subverted and transformed into a Sequel Hook. But if it wasn't intended to be taken that way in the first place, it can still be listed as an example of this trope.

May come about as a result of Something We Forgot. May overlap with Here We Go Again! or We Are Not Going Through That Again if the joke problem is similar to a problem from earlier. Or it could just be a Brick Joke coming back for the finale.

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This is an Ending Trope, so spoilers will be unmarked!


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Osomatsu-san Season 1 episode "ESP Kitty" spends its time picking through the inner thoughts of the cast and climaxing on Ichimatsu Matsuno revealing his massive insecurities to his brothers via the kitten. The episode ends with his brothers reassuring him and all of them going off in high spirits...all except Karamatsu, who was still hogtied and strung up from the episode's earlier segment.
  • In the Doraemon episode "Monsters In The House", Doraemon accidentally breaks the Mess-O-Monsters canister, releasing all of the monsters inside and leaving him and Nobi to conceal this fact from his parents. At the end, the company sends an empty canister back in time to Doraemon so they can trap the monsters. All's fine, except Doraemon breaks the thing again, and the next available one is backordered for a whole month, so now they have to go through the ordeal for 30 days instead of one.

    Fan Works 
  • 1.21 Kankerwatts, an Ed, Edd n Eddy fanfic, ends with Marie talking about how she expected this trope to kick in. May proclaims she forgot to eat the TV dinner she was heating up before their power got cut off, which Marie deems acceptable enough.
  • Create Your Own Fate: The Story Arc of the Undine-instigated terrorist uprising ends with Captain Kanril beaming the Undine into her shuttle, whose controls she thoroughly locked down so the Undine will have to physically break out, and "I cleaned it out pretty well." Then she gasps.
    Kanril: Oh no!
    Sheri Walford: What?!
    Kanril: I think I left a butter knife in the kitchenette. (end scene)
  • At the end of The Loud House fanfic Toy Robot Mayhem, the story ends with the robot apocalypse having been averted... only for Lisa and Stella to realise that Leni is still trapped in a net.
  • The Jacket by JuliaFC ends with Adrien and Marinette getting together. Then Adrien states he wants four children, and Marinette says she only has names for three.

    Film — Animated 
  • Astro Boy: Astro Boy sees an alien appear just after Astro finishes defeating the Peacekeeper and President Stone's subsequent arrest, and the film ends with Astro flying off to fight it.
  • At the end of Finding Nemo, after Nemo, Marlin, and Dory have returned to the reef, we cut back to the dentist's office in Sydney to find that Gil and the other aquarium fish have escaped to the open sea — and they're still in their plastic bags, leading to the inevitable "Now what?" The look on Gil's face makes it clear that he hasn't thought this far ahead.
  • Flushed Away ends with the Toad being defeated, Roddy and Rita getting together (resolving Roddy's loneliness), and Sid taking Roddy's place so that Tabitha still has a pet rat. However, Tabitha brings home a "new friend" for Roddy/Sid that's implied to be a cat because a meow is heard.
  • At the end of Toy Story, everything is wonderful until Andy suddenly announces that he got a puppy for Christmas. Woody and Buzz look at each other with nervous smiles.
  • The LEGO Movie ends with Lord Business doing a Heel–Face Turn while The Man Upstairs learns to be a better father. Everything is great in the world of LEGO... and then suddenly Duplo blocks show up and declare war. Roll credits. This retroactively became a Sequel Hook in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, where the Duplo invasion is what causes the conflict of the film.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: All four movies end with Dave yelling, "AAALLLVIIIIIIN!" because of something bad Alvin did, accidentally or not. We never find out how Dave has decided to punish him.
  • The ending of the original Back to the Future was supposed to be this trope, with Doc suddenly showing up to whisk Marty and Jennifer off to the future to sort out their own kids. However, when the film's unexpected success merited a sequel, this bit was retroactively turned into a straight Sequel Hook.
  • Fanboys: Set in 1998, after spending the movie traveling to Skywalker Ranch so their terminally-ill friend could see the then-unreleased The Phantom Menace before his death, his friends finally get to see the film in its official release a year later. As they sit in the theater, waiting in anticipation after camping out on the line, Eric suddenly poses the question: "Hey guys... what if the movie sucks?"
  • Freaky Friday (1976): The last line in the film had the father and son saying, at the exact same time, that they would like to switch minds and bodies themselves. It was a similar simultaneous utterance by the mother and daughter earlier in the movie that led to the movie's plot in the first place.
  • Home Alone:
    • In Home Alone, Kevin defeats the bad guys, reconciles with his entire extended family, and helps his neighbor Marley reconcile with his family in the meantime. The moment is suddenly ruined when Buzz shouts, "Kevin! What did you do to my room?!" But we're left to assume that Kevin will be okay in the end.
    • Home Alone 2 does it again. This time everything is wonderful until Kevin's dad suddenly realizes how much money he spent on room service.
      Buzz: (onscreen) Heh heh, Merry Christmas indeed. Oh, Dad...
      Peter: (offscreen) KEVIN!! YOU SPENT 967 DOLLARS ON ROOM SERVICE?!
  • Subverted in Men in Black 3. After Agent J comes back to 2012 after saving his partner Agent K from being killed by Boris the Animal as well as saving the Earth from a Boglodite invasion in 1969, Agent J reconciles with Agent K at a diner. However, Griffin, an omniscient being with knowledge of alternate outcomes, fears that a meteor will hit the Earth if Agent K forgets to pay a tip. Luckily, he remembers to do so and the meteor hits a satellite instead.
  • At the end of Prince Caspian, when the Pevensies have returned to their own world, Edmund looks at his siblings and asks, in a serious tone, "I don't suppose there's any way to get back?" When they look at him in concern, he explains, "I left my new torchnote  in Narnia!" This gets a Call-Back when Edmund and Lucy go back to Narnia in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: one of the first things Caspian does is return the torch, much to Edmund's amusement.
  • Serenity, despite the loss of two beloved characters, nevertheless ends on a triumphant note. The Alliance's evil has been exposed publicly, the Operative calls it quits, and it really seems that our heroes have made a difference in the end. The ship dramatically lifts off and flies off into space—and then suddenly (in a Brick Joke to the opening credits sequence) one of the flaps of the main thruster breaks off and Mal goes, "What was that?" Roll credits.
  • The Santa Clause: Scott embraces his role as Santa Claus, fixes his relationship with his son Charlie, and smooths things over with his ex-wife Laura. Things look rosy as he and Charlie take off in the sleigh to deliver presents when suddenly Laura starts worrying about how long they'll be gone. The film ends with her yelling at the top of her lungs while happy music plays in the background.
  • Some Like It Hot famously ends with this trope. Jerry, who's been Disguised in Drag as a woman named Daphne for the whole film, has won the affections of Osgood Fielding III. As they drive off into the sunset, Jerry explains why "she" can't marry Osgood, but he happily rebuffs all of "her" arguments. Finally, an exasperated Jerry rips off his wig and reveals his actual gender—"I'm a man!"...and Osgood cheerfully replies "Well, nobody's perfect!" Notably, the writers didn't actually plan on ending the movie with that reply; it was supposed to be a placeholder until they came up with something funnier, but they were never able to top it.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming ends with Peter Parker getting his Spider-Man suit back from Tony Stark and putting it on in his room. However, it turns out Aunt May saw him put it on and shouts "What the f-" just as the credits roll. Later movies show that she is OK with her nephew being Spider-Man as she still lets him go on missions, but there's still the implication that Peter had some convincing to do to keep being Spider-Man.

    Literature 
  • As a Running Gag, early Captain Underpants books always end with someone snapping their fingers near Mr. Krupp, making him transform into Captain Underpants and run away screaming "TRA-LA-LAA!", while George and Harold comment on it. Subverted from the sixth book onwards, when the gag is replaced with a more straightforward Sequel Hook.
  • At the end of the children's book Clayton Parker Really Really Really Has To Pee, Clayton has managed to find a bathroom and relieve himself, but now he has a new problem to deal with when an elephant sprays him in the crotch.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia: During the early stages of the Love Triangle between Han Solo and Leia Organa's new suitor, Prince Isolder of the Hapes Consortium, C-3PO does some well-meaning-but-unhelpful digging to try and help Han and discovers he's descended from Corellia's old royal family (his cousins the Sal-Solos are established in other stories to still be Blue Bloods back home). Way later at the end of the book when Han and Leia have patched things up and are getting married, Threepio comes running up to Luke Skywalker telling him they have to stop the wedding because he made a mistake in his research: Han is actually descended from an infamous pretender to the throne. Luke tells the droid he'll take care of it—and then switches him off and stuffs him in a closet until the wedding is over.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Addams Family: In one episode, Gomez gets hit on the head and loses his memory. At the end of the episode, Gomez's memory has been restored, but Fester got hit on the head in the process and the final line is him asking "Who's Fester?". It's left unclear whether he'd really lost his memory or was just joking, and in the next episode he's fine and it's never mentioned again.
  • Black Mirror: "USS Callister" ends with the Callister crew free of Daly's control and realizing they can now explore the updated Infinity game at their leisure... and they immediately have to escape the quadrant when an obnoxious player promises to "blast them into shit."
  • The Brittas Empire: "Wake Up the Lion Within" ends with the major plot lines of the episode (namely Brittas trying to win the European Award for Excellence and Carole dealing with a bossy alter-ego which turns her into a Bad Boss) resolved. Just then, a lion, which Colin had been keeping a secret from Brittas, proceeds to escape and hitches a ride at the back of the award-giver's car. Roll credits.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: At the end of "Family", after the main trio realizes the importance of family, Red Guy finally opens the bag of Chuddle Dollops that they were trying to open at the beginning of the episode...only to find just two pieces inside.
    Red Guy: I guess we could share-
    Duck Guy: I WANT BOTH!
  • The first season of Doom Patrol (2019) ends with the team managing to get their act together, rescue the Chief and his daughter, and outwit Mr. Nobody... and then they discover that, thanks to the complicated plan that they hatched to defeat Mr. Nobody, they've all become miniaturized. The last scene ends with the camera pulling out while an enraged Cliff drops a Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Frasier: In the season 3 episode Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, just as it seems as though a bribe has managed to get all the handymen out of Fraiser's apartment in time for his party guests arrival, does a loud flush come from the bathroom, followed by the last of the handymen exiting. Cue fade to black.
  • Became a Once an Episode thing when She-Wolf of London was Retooled into Love & Curses. Ian and Randi stop a trio of witches who have been inflicting random transformations onto anyone who's the slightest bit rude to them? The episode ends with Ian messing around with their magic and accidentally turning them both into rabbits. They escape after being sucked into a monster movie that never made it through its first screening by helping it play out to the end? They get sucked into a TV show that lost its ending due to a technical malfunction.
  • A weird example in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lonely Among Us", where — after the crew have been distracted from the two enemy alien races they're transporting by the Energy Being of the week — the "joke" problem is that one alien faction has possibly killed a member of the other group and wants the crew to cook it for them. And this is completely Played for Laughs, with Picard dumping the situation on Riker, and everyone acting like this is a complicated situation, but not a serious one.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Babel" is about a Curse of Babel virus endangering everyone on the station, originally stemming from O'Brien trying to repair the replicators so that Commander Sisko can have a decent cup of coffee. After the crisis is resolved and everyone has recovered, Sisko takes a sip of his coffee, nearly spits it out and snaps "O'Brien!" O'Brien is naturally annoyed that he's back to dealing with this.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action" has Kirk and Spock having stopped the gang war between Oxmyx and Krako, with the implication that Sigma Iotia III is on its first babysteps to becoming a healthy democracy. Then, at the very end of the episode, Doctor McCoy has an Oh, Crap! moment: he accidentally left his communicator down on the planet when they left. Kirk takes it in stride, jokingly pointing out that as good as the Sigma Iotians are at reconstructing culture from one artifact, they may well form their own Starfleet and come looking "for a piece of our action" someday.

    Podcasts 
  • Listen Out Loud (The Loud House's official podcast): One episode ends with Lana realising that she can still see the animals from the shelter even when they are adopted, apologising for being mean to the customers, and the customers adopting their new pets... however, she then realises that she still hasn't adopted out Greg the goat, who then eats her twin sister Lola's lipstick.

    Video Games 
  • Fate/Grand Order: The Part II of the "GUDAGUDA Final Honnoji" event ends with Mash informing everyone that they accidentally left Nagayoshi behind in the simulation and now there is a Singularity run by Berserkers. As Chaldea had just solved a Singularity run by Alter Servants, Demon King Nobunaga decides that they have had enough of nonsense and ends the story right there.
  • At the end of Sonic Heroes, as the cast all begin to head off their own ways, Team Chaotix realise that Eggman hasn't paid them for the detective work he anonymously hired them for, then notice him trying to sneak off and proceed to give chase.
  • Subnautica: In The Stinger, the player is welcomed home to Alterra, but is denied permission to land until they've compensated the company for all the resources they collected and used while marooned on 4546B... which amounts to one trillion credits.

    Webcomics 
  • Fate/Gamers Only: At the end of the Orleans storyline, the cast returns to Chaldea having successfully resolved the Singularity, Rikku hands the Holy Grail to Tomoe, and then runs off in embarrassment from remembering all the cheesy stuff she said. After running outside, it turns out Kiyohime followed everyone back to Chaldea, and the chapter ends with Rikku yelling for Mash's help since she doesn't want to die.

    Web Original 
  • Minilife TV:
    • In "The Splitzies 5000!!!", Chris and Ian advertise a device called the Splitzies 5000 that's designed to perfectly cut objects in half, but when they realize it's not actually available as a product, they apologize to their audience for getting their hopes up. The video ends with an angry mob breaking into Minilife Studios and Chris and Ian making an escape.
    • The next episode, "Making Up Words", has Chris and Ian hanging out at their house as they wait for the angry mob to leave Minilife Studios. When Chip tells them it's all clear after the mob decides to chase after Snowball and Archie, Ian decides to go back there to get a peanut butter and bacon sandwich he left in the fridge. Some ending text says that Ian never got it back because Snowball ate it.
      Ian: Oh, what?! DANG IT! Now I hope that angry mob catches him!

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy hosts a party while his parents are out and encounters various problems, including Sheen bringing back a velociraptor with his time machine (which Jimmy keeps locked in the closet). At the end, Jimmy finally gets everyone to leave and cleans the house before his parents arrive, seemingly having gotten away scot-free. But when Hugh goes to put away his coat...
    Hugh: Honey, how long have we had a raptor in the closet?
  • Adventure Time: In "Memories of Boom Boom Mountain", Finn goes to great lengths to help everyone he meets, even when their needs contradict each other. Just when he has finally managed to make everyone happy, Jake pipes up that he has a problem of his own: a dolphin has fallen in love. Finn declares this "the opposite of a problem" and goes water-skiing on the dolphin's back.
  • Family Guy: "Thanksgiving" ends with the main conflict of the episode (mainly Kevin's return and the reveal that he faked his own death to get out of Iraq) resolved. Just then, another Kevin shows up at the door and claims that the other one is an imposter. Peter says that they have no time to resolve this issue and the episode ends, with no resolution to this plotline after that.
  • Fireman Sam: The climax of "The Great Fire of Pontypandy" has everyone celebrating in the rain... until Radar finds sausages. Norman and his cousin Derek realise that it's their sausages, and everyone is extremely angry at them, because the sausages are the things that caused the forest fire in the first place.
    Norman: Oh, no! Radar has found our sausages!
    Sam: What on earth's that?
    Steele: Sausages?!
    Derek: I think we're the ones who need saving now..
    Dilys: (gasps) So that's why I could smell sausages! Were you cooking in the bushes, Norman?
    Steele: You made a campfire?! Ooooooh... Norman Price! You done it this time! Right! Where's your mother?
    Dilys: I'll make sure he's properly dealt with at home, Station Officer Steele. You naughty boy!
  • Legends of Chima: In "The Joy Ride", after Laval accidentally ruins his father Lagravis' Lion Tank, he and Eris enlist the Beaver Tribe to repair it while they try to stop Cragger's plan to block off the water flowing to the Lion Temple by building a dam. In the end, all seems well when Eris tells Laval the tank was successfully repaired and Cragger's plan was successfully foiled... that is, until she tells him that the Beavers got too carried away with repairing the tank that they decided to make some modifications. Lagravis sees that his tank now has wings and angrily yells out his son's name before the credits roll.
  • Little Princess:
    • At the end of "I Want My Dummy", the Princess has finally given up her dummy (pacifier)... but King, Queen, Chef, Maid, General, and Prime Minister realise that they still made one another give their hobbies up, and they suck their thumbs in disappointment.
    • "I Don't Want a Bath" ends with the Princess no longer hating baths... but unfortunately, she now won't get out of the bath.
  • The Loud House:
    • At the end of the pilot, Lincoln resolves his Potty Emergency... only to find there is no toilet paper left.
    • At the end of "No Guts, No Glori", Lori learns not to be so bossy, while her siblings realise that a complete lack of authority leads to chaos. However, they're still in trouble because they broke Lynn Sr.'s golf clubs.
    • At the end of "Linc or Swim", the Loud siblings have finally found peace and have a swimming pool to share, but baby Lily poops in it.
    • "Homespun" ends with a revelation that the tornado didn't destroy the eponymous house after all. However, when Lynn Sr. goes to open the front door, the doorknob falls off, locking the Loud family out.
  • Martha Speaks: "Martha in Charge" ends with Helen recovered from her laryngitis, the delivery guy who'd been stuck in the doggie door unstuck, Truman realising that Mr. Blaine, the chimney sweeps, and the fire department aren't burglars, and Mr. Blaine, the fire department, and the police now out of the way... only the chimney sweeps are stuck on the roof because the ladder was taken away.
  • The Raccoons: At the end of "Promises Promises!", the Pigs are tasked with repairing a hole in the wall of Sneer Manor caused by an incident with a pressure cooker earlier in the episode. After they finish repairing the wall, they realize they've accidentally trapped themselves inside the room when they can't find a door and they cry for help before the credits roll.
  • The Real Ghostbusters:
    • At the end of "Ghostworld", all the characters who'd been possessed have been exorcised, Egon (who'd had a cold) has recovered, and the ghosts and their demon leader have been caught... however, the final scene reveals that the rest of the Ghostbusters (and Slimer, somehow) have caught Egon's cold.
    • "Something's Going Around" ends with the Ghostbusters' supernatural ailments cured and the ghosts caught. Unfortunately, however, Janine has to stay at the firehouse while her apartment is being renovated and the Ghostbusters and Slimer are made to wait in line outside the bathroom while she takes a bath.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: At the end of "Squeaky Boots", Mr. Krabs takes Pearl on a much-needed road trip, but then he gets the hiccups which produce squeaking, a side-effect from eating the boots he gave SpongeBob.
  • Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave ends with Wallace and Gromit successfully stopping Preston's sheep rustling and mincing operation and clearing Gromit's name, and although Wallace ends up not hooking up with Wendolene because he likes cheese and she's allergic to it, he feels better when he realizes it means more for him. Then Wallace finds Shaun the Sheep eating his cheese, and he finds himself unable to make him stop. Iris Out and roll credits.

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