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Left Hanging

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"You ran outta ink too, didn't you, you bastards?"

The special feeling that you get when you've watched a show and realized that an unusually large number of loose ends have been left dangling.

This special feeling is usually preceded by a glance at the clock, noting that it is 9:54, and saying, "Wow, they sure have a lot of loose ends to wrap up in the next six minutes. How will they pull it off?" The answer: they don't.

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Some shows, such as The X-Files, actually used the principle of Left Hanging in order to build an aura of mystique and uncertainty around the show. When shows that are more grounded in reality, such as CSI, wander into this territory, the results are rarely pretty.

Occasionally the loose ends are picked up on much later, either as part of a Lampshade Hanging or as an "untold story" in the Expanded Universe. If, on the other hand, they're picked up later in a serious way, they might fit one of Chekhov's tropes; if the entire episode is redeemed by one of more of these, it qualifies as an Innocuously Important Episode. Could also be a great opportunity for a Brick Joke.

See also No Ending. If the hanging thread is trivial to the plot, it's What Happened to the Mouse?. Let the Kudzu Plot grow out of hand, and you have The Chris Carter Effect. If it was going to be explained, but the intended story was canceled, it's an Aborted Arc. If the creators do release some new stories after, but they're prequels or interquels that don't address the loose ends, then you're stuck staring at a Cliffhanger Wall.

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It should be noted that a few of these examples are merely early plot lines that are abandoned once the main plot is kicked off. Why bother tying up loose ends on one matter when they have The End of the World as We Know It to deal with?

Sometimes the result of being Screwed by the Network. This will lead to Canon Fodder and, thus, Fanfic Fuel. See also Cut Short where the series doesn't even get a chance to ignore their loose ends and ends abruptly.

Compare Cliffhanger and Bolivian Army Ending, when deliberately used as an artistic device. Frequently this is an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole, particularly as the result of sudden Gecko Ending that fails to resolve all lingering plot threads. It may also be the result of a Gainax Ending.

Remember this is an Ending Trope, so beware of both marked and unmarked spoilers.

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Not to be confused with High-Five Left Hanging or Hanging Around, which is about the fatal kind of hanging.


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    Advertising 
  • The Eggo Waf-full commercials. The first two commercials had a giant Eggo waffle eating raspberry and blueberry flavored filling. A third commercial featuring apple cinnamon filling was slated to air, but never did.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Chapter 44 of Attack on Titan offers a flashback of Annie and Mikasa about to square off in a training fight, causing all the others to flock around them in excitement over who the winner will be. We're never told however, as that's where the flashback ends. Word of God later confirmed they had been so equally matched the instructor had to interfere and call it a draw.
  • Baccano! wraps up everything which concerns episodes 2 to 16, but the very first episode is a mash up of future events in the show, where there's a particular short scene where a blond girl slices Issac's ear off with a spear. The girl's name, Adele, is not even mentioned through the show as she would later appear in a future arc from the source material right after where the anime ends. The loose ends are lampshaded in the OVAs, where Carol asks Gustav why the story doesn't have a proper ending. Gustav's answer is that life always throws in another plot thread for everyone it ties up, meaning that there's going to be loose threads no matter where you stop, and now's just a good place as any to end things. Carol, on the other hand, thinks it's just a Sequel Hook.
  • The anime of Berserk covers the Golden Age arc... and then it ends during the Eclipse. Since the series begins with a scene set after the Golden Age arc, it means the series never got out of the flashback.
  • The Big O. Everything is left hanging. Everything. Maybe it's the author's love of Mind Screw, maybe it's the lack of a followup season (Adult Swim declined to produce another season). No matter what, a lot is left hanging.
  • Bleach: The manga was cancelled midway through its Final Arc as a result of Kubo's increasingly worsening health since 2010 that leaves him bedridden with increasing frequency; he only kept going for as long as he did as a result of an inspiring letter that he received after the death of a terminally ill child who had enjoyed reading Kubo's manga while bedridden. Many established plot threads were abandoned in order to wrap up the final battle in time for the manga's fifteenth anniversary. These include, but are not limited to, the Ishida family's true history, the reveal of several Bankai (including Ichigo's new one), the fate of Captain Komamura after losing his human form, the exact nature of Yachiru's existence as Kenpachi's Zanpakuto spirit (as well as the rules of Zaraki's Bankai), and whether or not Nel was able to rescue Grimmjow, Yoruichi and Urahara from Askin Nakk Le Vaar's poison prison. The subsequent light novels Bleach: We Do Knot Always Love You and Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World resolve many of these.
  • Mari's fate in the Blue Drop anime after her loved one Hagino dies is never addressed, not even in the huge time skip at the end of the series. This is especially egregious, since Hagino sacrificed herself to save Mari's life, so it would at least have been nice to know how Mari dealt with it.
  • Code Geass actually resolved its main premise, but several subplot threads were apparently lost in the rush or deemed less important somewhere between seasons as the staff had to alter their original plans due to an unexpected time slot change. They include the true nature of Suzaku's superhuman abilities, C.C.'s real name and, perhaps most frustratingly for several viewers, any sort of official explanation for the Geass. In regards to the last one however, the Spin-Off Code Geass: Akito the Exiled and the Big Damn Movie Re;surrection give some hints to it, while simultaneously raising even more questions in the process. Such as just what in the hell that skull was that gave Shin his Geass.
  • The anime adaptation of Durarara!! had a mostly-satisfying ending, but never addressed the fact that Izaya was still in possession of Celty's severed head. This is mostly due to the fact that the Light Novel series the show was based on is still running in Japan, leaving the writers without a proper ending to adapt. With a second season currently airing, however, it's possible that this will eventually be resolved.
  • Fairy Tail ties up nearly every significant plot thread except for one: Lucy's promise to reunite with Aquarius after the Final Battle was over, something that remained unresolved by the one-year Distant Finale. Fortunately, this is addressed by the manga's official sequel, Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, which picks the subplot back up as a major driving force for Lucy.
  • Full Metal Panic! resolves its main plot, but leaves hanging a number of plot threads, most importantly the precise origin of The Whispered (only resolved in the novels) and the Black Technology that seems to be encoded in their genetic structure. One might presume the new season of Full Metal Panic!, "The Second Raid", would answer some of the unresolved issues. It doesn't, and the source material is still going; while there's no absolute guarantee it'll be dealt with, resolving these issues would require making something up just to end the anime.
  • Genshiken - both the anime and the manga, but for different reasons. In the anime, material was added for the second series to ensure enough was left for a third series, but there's no guarantee there ever will be one to finish the job. The manga has the "life goes on"-No Ending that is so typical for Slice of Life series, so it was almost inevitable that not everything got wrapped up.
  • Getter Robo āḥ famously ended with Kamui Sho, having betrayed the Getter Team, creating his own Super Robot, Bug, that left the titular āḥ severely damaged. The Shin Getter Robo G awoke and emerged from the earth. Nothing further was written because Futabasha's Super Robot Magazine, the company publishing the manga, went under, and before a new publisher could be found, Ken Ishikawa died. It appeared the series would be left on this cliffhanger forever. Then an anime based on the manga was announced.
  • At the end of Heat Guy J, Daisuke has been permitted to leave Judoh and go off on adventures, and Kyoko tells him I Will Wait for You (but only for three years), and he promises to come back. Off he goes, Riding into the Sunset and...that's it. Where did he go? What did he do? What became of Kyoko? And Clair? And the others? The world will never know. It appears to have been a Sequel Hook, but that sequel never materialized.
  • His and Her Circumstances: Everything was left hanging. The play that they built up for 6 or 7 episodes never happened, there was no culture fest, and the only way to actually understand what happened between Tonami and Sakura in the final episode was to read the manga.
  • A variety occurs in Koi Koi 7, where everything is set up for the final battle with the Big Bad—only to have everybody inexplicably relax on a beach in the last episode. An attempt is made to explain what happened in a short DVD-only episode, but it's still one heck of a sudden turn.
  • Magical Warfare introduces a number of plot twists and potential story arcs throughout the second half of the show, and then ends suddenly and very strangely without resolving any of them. Takeshi's mother using a ring that boosts her powers but drains her life force in order to train him? Never brought up again. Wizard Brace being accused of historical war crimes? Never brought up again. Ida's sister being kidnapped by the freaking magical FBI? Guess what? Never brought up again! The final episode then delivered the biggest and most confusing plot twist of the whole show, and then promptly ended without explaining anything at all.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico does this twice at least in America- first, the series ends with only a bare acknowledgment of how the war ended, then they made The Movie which takes place after a Time Skip, doesn't explain the war's end either, and ends on its own cliffhanger (it was meant to be the first part of a movie trilogy which was never finished). The first hanger was only resolved through information which is All There In The Japan-Only Sega Games. The last episode of the series even has the audacity to introduce new subplots just to intentionally leave them hanging.
  • While the manga it is based off is still running and does reveal everything that happens past this point, the OVA series for Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt ends with the revelation of who the leader of the South Seas Alliance-based religion is and that he has possession of the once-thought destroyed Psycho Zaku, we never find out how the Federation and the Zeon Remnants handle them.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • The first anime fell into this hard, mainly because it was supposed to go for two seasons, but the general lack of quality and pure Off-Model-ness got it killed after one season, forcing a Gecko Ending and dropping a bunch of newly introduced plot threads. Not that two seasons would have come close to covering everything in the manga, but starting a bunch of B-plots and then ending the series two episodes later is pretty bad.
    • The manga hits the same issue (though much later on and for different reasons), trying to at least resolve as much as it can in the very last chapter and only succeeding partially. If you want to know who the Gravekeeper is, what happened to Arika or any number of other things like that, you won't get to know. And more importantly, who Negi ended with. In fact, we only got that the most likely candidates DIDN'T win, which is even worse than not getting anything at all.
  • The original TV ending for Neon Genesis Evangelion didn't resolve much, and in fact the English edition has a hilarious Easter Egg where Spike Spencer, the English voice actor for Shinji, complained (in-character) about the sheer number of dangling plot threads that were never addressed. Many of these ended up being answered in The Movie finale, End of Evangelion.
  • Parodied / lampshaded (like a bazillion other tropes) in Ninja Nonsense. Onsokumaru and another character have an ominous conversation about Shinobu's hidden destiny. In the last episode the characters realize they forgot all about this plot thread and hastily construct a Magical Girl story to cover.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt pulls this to a seemingly sadistic degree. In literally the last minute, Stocking inexplicably reveals she's actually a demon, chops Panty into pieces, and leaves Brief on a quest to gather them back up. The end. Aside from a tease in the episode itself, there hasn't been a whisper of a new season in the years since to follow any of this up — which was the point, as it was a Lampshade Hanging on other shows with similar conclusions. Geekboy Homecoming ended up subverting this by showing the tail end of that plot thread and how Brief got Panty back, but that just opened a whole new can of worms by throwing in cryptic references to whatever's going on with Stocking and Garterbelt as well as the loose plot threads from a completely unrelated series in its last few pages. No matter the studio, the folks behind P&S really like trolling their audience.
  • Most of Piano is about Miu composing a piece for her piano recital. At the big moment, the story simply cuts off when Miu starts playing, without stating how the recital went or what happens between Miu and her love interest afterward. Sure, the main point is Miu's decision about her music and her life, but it would have been nice to get some more closure.
  • Pokémon: The Series happens to have two plot points that ended up as this. The first being the GS Ball, which after Ash gave it to Kurt in Johto to study is never heard from again.note  In Unova, anything pertaining to the Meteonite became this due to the episodes that were going to wrap up that plot (and introduce Team Plasma) never airing due to the 2011 tsunami.note 
  • A particularly infamous example of this is Ranma ½; the anime version, already criticized for being stuffed to the brim with Filler that had absolutely no bearing on the original manga plot, concluded a full three years before the original manga did, cutting out roughly a full third of the overall plot. For those without easy access to the manga (which, as a note, did not finish officially releasing in English-speaking countries until 2006, ten years after the conclusion of the manga in the original Japanese), this was kind of a huge kick in the pants.
  • The Shadow Star anime cuts off the second half of the story, leaving the entirety of the dragons — where they come from, why they're here, everything — hanging, the Government Conspiracy that's seemingly studying them, and the 'villains' that needlessly kill people with them and talk of making a better world vanish off the face of the earth — mind you, they were so badly characterized nobody cares much anyhow. And wraps it all up with a Shoot the Shaggy Dog ending.
  • Soul Eater managed to end without Eibon, the enigmatic being behind Noah and the Book of Eibon having made an appearance outside of a flashback. Hell, the entirety of Noah, who has the Book of Eibon and Brew and 5 more copies of himself. Only Noah-Greed was given a major role as a villain.
  • Spiral suffers this in Gecko Ending form. It's a mystery series, and its main mysteries are "What are the Blade Children?" and "What happened to Kiyotaka, Ayumu's older brother?" The anime never answers either of these questions, as the manga hadn't yet by the time it finished production. An offhand comment by Kanone might or might not imply that Kiyotaka is dead in the anime continuity, and another compares the Blade Children to cuckoos, but that's it. The manga did ultimately end up clarifying all this.
  • Trinity Blood Overtook the Manga, and the manga seems to in turn have overtaken the Light Novels on which it was based. The death of the original author didn't help matters. Bottom line is that the ending of Trinity Blood anime failed to wrap up any long-running plot threads whatsoever.
  • Ultra Kaiju Anthropomorphization Project Feat Pop Comic Code has not been updated since February of 2020 with Volume 4, presumably due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic the following month; however, readers get a doozy of a reveal: Ultraman's greatest villains did not become the girls we have seen throughout the series when they had been defeated or killed (Mefilas, of course, being the only exception, having admitted defeat, yet still ended up in the Kaiju Graveyard despite never having died, which the others have done), but somehow, through scientific means, these girls were altered physically and mentally to resemble them, down to the last facet of their appearance and personality, as shown when Mefilas and Eleking remember each other as "Rin-chan" and "Eri-chan," respectively. Whatever means in which this was done and whoever was responsible is only able to be revealed once Volume 5 eventually releases...hopefully.
  • Variable Geo ends abruptly on a cliff-hanger, just as the final bout between Yuka and Satomi begins. Who wins, or whether Daisuke receives the medical treatment he needs is left uncertain.
  • Due to the Gecko Ending of the anime, Venus Versus Virus didn't end well. Did Sumire and Lucia die? The manga has a completely different ending arc, so this is never revealed. Though, it is greatly suggested that they did survive, and that all Lucia did was hug Sumire.
  • The World God Only Knows has the entire plot suddenly resolved with the abrupt revelation that a main character (Elsie) is actually a powerful monster and the enemy's ultimate weapon and her using her powers to produce some sort of Cosmic Retcon that makes the good guys win somehow. A very significant number of questions are left unanswered and plot threads unresolved; in particular Lune's whereabouts, what happened to Shoutarou Shiratori, and more importantly how Satyr was able to use Elsie for their plans and what will happen with the girls who still have the goddesses inside their bodies.

    Comic Books 
  • Paperinik New Adventures, full stop. Among the things left hanging:
    • Issue #20, "Mekkano": the eponymous machine, which can break down any other machine for parts and add it to itself, is picked up in Earth Orbit by an alien spaceship, which takes it back to their base. Never seen or mentioned again.
    • Issue #24, "Twilight": the issue's Big Bad is offed in a No One Could Survive That! way, just after proclaiming that with the data from his analysis of Paperinik's Swiss Army Weapon, he will proceed to Take Over the World. Moreover, before leaving to go back to his dimension, Paperinik gives Urk a device which can transmit across dimensions, "In case you need help or something comes up." Neither plot points come up again.
    • Issue #25, "Crossfire": Paperinik meets up with what is, essentially, La Résistance within the Evron Empire. They never show up again.
    • Issue #40, "A Single Breath": it's pretty much stated outright in the ending that the issue's Big Bad, a Straw Nihilist with almost unlimited Psychic Powers, has survived being swept away by the wave caused by the collapse of a dam. Where did he end up? No one knows.
    • Although it has a definite ending, PK2 was severely shortened over the original plans, so the conclusion is quite hasty and leaves no certainty about the future of Everett and his daughters, although one of the last issues of PKNA can be considered a Distant Finale to both series.
    • Might and Power includes many of the plot threads left hanging to continue the story, leading to Continuity Porn.
  • A storyline in Power Pack heavily implied that Toro, the sidekick of the Golden Age Human Torch, was not only still alive, but was also the father of Frankie Raye. This never went anywhere, and the later Avengers/Invaders crossover confirmed that Toro was still dead.
  • Next Men ended with a cliffhanger in #30. Byrne had intended to conclude the story in a second series, but the collapse of the American comic book industry in the mid-1990s made it financially unfeasible for him to do so.
  • When Crossgen Comics folded, they promptly ended every single comic mid-story, right when the overall plot was reaching its apex. Marvel comics said they would publish CrossGen titles, but as of yet that hasn't happened.
  • DC Comics' Star Raiders graphic novel was truncated to half its length due to a cancelled contract; many secondary characters and plot points qualify as a result.
  • The final issue of Captain America and The Falcon Vol. 2 ended with the implication that the Falcon might have been killed by Anti-Cap, as well as the real Captain America finding his abandoned costume fluttering in the wind. Word of God is that the Cliffhanger was meant to be a Sequel Hook for a solo Falcon series by Christopher Priest, but it fell apart when Priest left the project. When the Falcon next appeared in Ed Brubaker's Captain America run, he was back to wearing his costume, and there was no mention of his disappearance or the prior incident with Anti-Cap.
  • Near the end of the first War Machine series, Rhodey's parents claim that he has a son that he's never met. It's left ambiguous as to whether this revelation was true or simply a lie to get rid of his then-current flame, Rae, but it's never resolved one way or the other.
  • Dinocorps ends with Jarek still alive and well, and a shot of several more Saurons still in cryogenic sleep. It's implied that Jarek had a backup evil plan, but no further issues have been published since then.
    • Some inquired on Bunn's social media if he thought Pak would follow up on the Creed/Monet relationship, but Bunn gave no response. Pak was asked in an X-Position panel if he would continue Bunn's work on Sabretooth -since his moral struggle & budding ship with Monet couldn't be wrapped up by Uncanny's end. Pak said he had plans to follow up on the former, but no answer on the latter.
  • Runaways ended with Chase Stein getting hit by a car after chasing a girl who looked suspiciously like his dead girlfriend while the rest of the team contemplated making a deal with Chase's shady uncle. There was also some mystery about the sudden disappearance of Old Lace. When the team later reappeared in other books, Chase's near death was handwaved, and Old Lace's disappearance was explained in a way that raised more questions, but Gert's sudden reappearance was never explained, and Chase's uncle was never heard from again. To this day, there's never been an explanation for the sudden attack that kicked off the story's events, either.
  • Elephantmen ends with multiple subplots unresolved, the most egregious cases being that it's never revealed where Serengheti took Sahara's baby, or if Raven tried to break Dr. Nikken out of prison. This was likely intentionally; the final page ends with Flask and Farrell going on another adventure, and the final words are "Never The End!", implying that while the comic itself has ended, the characters will continue going on unseen adventures.
  • Skrull Kill Krew ends with Captain America enraged upon hearing about the presence of Ryder, implying they've already met before and have some sort of feud together, but this is never brought up again.
  • Spider-Man: The mystery of FACADE would have been simple to resolve in one issue, but then the The Clone Saga took all the attention, until being referenced years later in Dark Reign Files and Amazing Spider-Man #678.
  • The Tintin story Tintin and Alph Art was meant to be Hergé's Grand Finale for the Tintin series; however, he was still working on a very rough draft when he died. Unfortunately, he never told anyone exactly how he planned to end it, and the incomplete story ended on a colossal Cliffhanger.
  • Wolverine: Many hints at Wolverine's past have been ignored with no explanation. One was that Archangel's metallic modifications reminded Logan of the Weapon X facility, and an adamantium skull in Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure also reminds Logan, hinting that Apocalypse was involved in the Weapon X project. This was never followed up on.
  • The Archie Mega Man comic was cancelled due to low sales and ended right at the start of the adaptation of the fourth game. While fans of the games know how things will turn out, there was still the matter of what Mr. X (who in this version is not a disguised Wily, but an aged Xander Payne who got thrown into the past following the Worlds Unite crossover and had to take The Slow Path back to the current time), was planning against all robot kind and how his version of the fifth game would play out.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Due to a lawsuit with former writer Ken Penders, the Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) comic was forced to pull a Cosmic Retcon so that any characters of his were written out to avoid paying him royalties. As such, many storylines that were still in development such as Naugas taking over Geffory's body and still in rule over New Mobotropolis, Bunnie coping with her regained flesh, Antonie still in a coma, Scourge breaking free from the No Zone, whatever Finitivs was planning and Sally still being a robot were dropped indefinitely and will no longer have an official resolution. With the comic book's cancellation as of 2017, this is pretty much the fate of any ongoing plotline, as the IDW series is a Continuity Reboot.
    • The mini-series, Sonic: Mega Drive, was made to celebrate Sonic's 25th anniversary with a original story made in the vein of a original Sega Genesis game. They got through two issues and a third was meant to close out the series, but Archie and SEGA got into financial disagreements in 2017 which caused the book to be put into hiatus, then ultimately cancelled when SEGA broke ties with Archie, leaving the story on a cliffhanger of Eggman having all the macguffins in his possession and Sonic and his friends setting out to find the Chaos Emeralds in order to have a chance at stopping him.
  • The Intimates was abruptly cancelled after 12 issues due to several members of its creative team moving to other, more high-profile books, and thus the series ends on a cliffhanger with the main characters running away from the Seminary.
  • Druuna: Druuna's ultimate fate is never resolved. The last reliable thing we see of her, she's still trapped inside a dream inside a dead person's mind inside a computer onboard a spaceship adrift in the cosmos. Everything that happens afterwards, including the whole clone story, is probably part of the Lotus-Eater Machine, given how various elements from her past make unexplained reappearances.
  • Back in the early days of trade paperbacks, many plot points introduced during an event reproduced for said TPB tend to get ignored as they were only were focused on just that story. For instance, in the TPB for the Superman storyline Time and Time Again, the story ends with Superman in despair as the means of sending him home meant that the Moon of the 30th Century was destroyed. While the storyline was followed up on in Legion of Super-Heroes it was never represented in the TPB.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: The series' cancellation left several story arcs unresolved:
    • The identity of the individual who sent a message to the Enterprise telling them that Captain Pike was on Prairie in "The Flat, God Forever" is not revealed. Pike is concerned that the individual responsible may be an enemy of Commander Kaaj who could pose a threat to the Enterprise in the future.
    • Captain Pike's distant relationship with his father Admiral Josh Pike is not explored after the two-part story "The Fallen" but there were plans to do so in a flashback storyline involving the Federation's first contact with the Klingons.
    • The Will They or Won't They? storyline between José Tyler and Mia Colt is never resolved. Although she agreed to go on a date with him in "The Fallen, Part Two", they had not got around to it by the time that the series ended.
    • The story arc concerning the search for the ancient weapons on the Temazi homeworld and the strange behavior of Admiral Robert April in the final two issues "Thanatos" and "Nemesis" is left unfinished.
  • Billy the Cat: The viewer never finds out what happens to Billy in the end. Does he stay a cat forever? Does he get turned back into a human?
  • Justice League 3000's abrupt cancellation left a ton of subplots unresolved: Who was Lady Styx and where she came from? Why is she so incredibly powerful? What are her real goals? Why did future Lois Lane hate Superman so much? Why did Superman send Supergirl to the far-flung future? Were Lois and Ariel Masters able to escape Lady Styx's death squads? The final issue doesn't even conclude the battle betweeh the League and the Legion of Death, and readers had to read a completely different book -Blue Beetle Vol. 9 #12-13, published one year later- to find out whether the League won or lost that battle.
  • Wonder Woman comics have a long history of arcs going unfinished when a new writer comes on board as new writers almost always dramatically change the status quo. The other frequent way new writers will wrap up an arc is to quickly kill off the key characters in their first issue and then go tell the stories they want to tell.
    • Volume 1: The Saturnian Arc had a rather heavily foreshadowed betrayal that never actually happened. Eviless formed Villainy Inc, and failed to actually escape Reformation Island or overthrow Hippolyte and then Marston died, that was his final issue and no subsequent writer event mentioned any of the Saturnians.
    • Volume 2: The USA had warships parked around Themyscira in what they refused to acknowledge was a blockade with the government being manipulated against the Amazons by one of Diana's villains and then editorial cut the story short for Infinite Crisis and this was never mentioned again.

    Comic Strips 
  • Little Orphan Annie ended in 2010 on a cliffhanger, as Annie was kidnapped by a war criminal called the Butcher of the Balkans, who intended to raise her like his daughter, while Daddy Warbucks was left to believe she had been killed. This cliffhanger was later unofficially resolved in the comic strip Dick Tracy.
  • Nero was published daily for over 55 years. Author Marc Sleen had to work so fast that he made zillions of continuity errors and plot holes that remained unsolved.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The author of this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction wrapped up the main story whilst leaving several plot threads dangling, such as Ghidorah's long-term plans for the Zmeyevich which will implicitly enable it to come Back from the Dead again years in the future and also what will come of Monarch's collaboration with Apex Cybernetics. This pattern reappears in the Timeline, which expands on what canonically happens following the main story's ending up until the eve of the enigmatic "Clash of Titans" in 2024; when Godzilla and the Titans have turned violent, the Hollow Earth expedition is about to launch, and Apex are getting ready to activate Project Talos whilst ignoring the indications that something related to Ghidorah has possessed Mechagodzilla. The author has deliberately left it up to Recursive Fanfiction to explore what happens next in the AbraxasVerse, officially inviting readers to write continuations themselves.

  • New Look Series: Link's New Look was meant to be as twice as long, but only the first half was uploaded due to backlash. Later averted as the author did finish the second half.
  • Ruby and Nora: While the plot of Cold and the series itself is wrapped up with the following epilogue story revealing what became of every surviving character, what became of the Schnee Dust Company in the end due to Jacques having been a genocidal tyrant after being put in charge of Atlas and ultimately killed is never addressed.

    Films — Animated 
  • In-universe example: In Toy Story 2, Woody learns his TV show from the 1950s, Woody's Round-Up, was left hanging during a cliffhanger in the final episode because low toy sales caused its cancellation.
  • The animated The Lord of the Rings notoriously ended halfway through with no warning. There was supposed to a second movie to wrap things up, but it never got off the ground. The Return of the King was produced a few years later by Rankin and Bass, the company who made the animated version of The Hobbit; it did not go as well.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Series was developed to be a sprawling, Marvel-style universe, many plot points that were introduced in the first two films went unresolved.
    • We never do find out who Richard Parker was spying on Oscorp for, or who killed Uncle Ben, or how Gustav Fiers convinced Norman Osborn to fund the creation of the technology for the Sinister Six in the first place.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends with Harry deciding to form a super villain team and forcing Spider-Man back into action. A slew of sequels to retain the character's rights were planned. Then the film's diminishing returns and Sony's problems led them to abandon the idea and instead let Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Looks like we'll never know how Cameron's "little chat" with his father went, despite all the post-credits scenes.
  • Another in-universe example: In Galaxy Quest, the last episode of the titular show when it was cancelled ended on a cliffhanger, with Captain Taggert shouting "Activate the Omega-13!".
  • Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys was given the English marketing title of The Incomplete Struggle - quite fitting, since it ends with the eponymous turtle badly wounded in the midst of a burning city with a horde of Gyaos about to descend upon him.
  • The ending of The Good Son leaves several questions unanswered after Henry's death: Was his body found? It was last seen getting swept out to sea, Did Connie ever come out of her coma? Did Wallace and Susan's marriage remain intact? Did Wallace believe Mark and Susan about what happened to Henry? The tie in novel states that Henry's body was found and he was buried under a tree and Connie came out of her coma everything else was unexplained.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: The theatrical cut of the Hobbit trilogy's final movie never does answer the question of whom will get ownership of the treasure of Erebor, which so much of the fuss was about, nor about who will become the new King under the Mountain following Thorin's death. The latter question is answered in the extended edition, and both questions were answered in the original novel.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • The film ends with a scene where General Ross is approached by Tony Stark, who offers to help him take down the Hulk in exchange for Ross helping out with a team that S.H.I.E.L.D. is putting together. This is never addressed in any of the subsequent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and The Consultant reveals that Ross violently rejected Stark's offer.
    • The movie also never reveals what happened to Samuel Sterns after he was mutated by Banner's Gamma-infected blood. This plot point was resolved in Fury's Big Week, the official comic prequel to The Avengers. We see Sterns being confronted by Black Widow, who subsequently shoots him at the knees and brings him into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
  • It Comes at Night gained notoriety for leaving just about every plot point as an Ambiguous Situation. A few examples include: Where did the virus come from? Was Will lying about his family's past? What did Stanley the dog chase after, and why did he just disappear? Why were Travis and Andrew drawing pictures of ominous people in the woods? Did Andrew get infected? And what the heck does the title even refer to?
  • Men at Work (1990): The movie ends with the protagonists all putting Maxwell Potterdam III through a Humiliation Conga... and the movie kind of stops there. We never see if Potterdam's actions got exposed, what Susan Wilkins decided to do with Jack Berger did, or what happens with Carl or James or Louis afterward. The only thing we get is how Officer Mike and his partner are found in an unfortunate position, and a radio talk show telling the Pizza Delivery Guy's girlfriend to leave him since he didn't come home last night because he was Bound and Gagged with Carl and Louis all that time.
  • Pleasantville: We don't know what's going to happen with the marriage at the end of the film.
  • Scanners ends just after Vale and Revok merge into a single being (though not in a Body Horror sense), but there's still some ambiguity about which consciousness is more in control. Grand Theft Me of Revok by Vale would be the nicer possibility.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: After Polly the reporter takes a photo of Joe, aka Sky Captain, he says that she left the lens cap on her camera, and her looks of joy turned into a big, big sad stare, and cut to black. Whatever happened to the falling animals, the city and their worries about the evil doctor that sent his robots, the people they rescued, and other stuff, is left to wonder. All part of the 30's serial feel of course.
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999): The movie ends with the Headless Horseman put to rest once more and his master dead, and with Ichabod arriving in New York with Katrina and Young Masbeth to start their new lives together. The matter of the movie's first few scenes — where Ichabod was trying to gain support for his Parisian-style forensic methods due to rampant Police Brutality and incompetence, and he was sent to Sleepy Hollow to solve the murder case specifically as a test of his scientific methods' usefulness — is completely overlooked by the ending, and it's unexplained how Ichabod explained the murder case's supernatural resolution to his superiors or how this will impact his initial campaign for crucial police reform.
  • Sound of My Voice: The viewer is left questioning just about everything:
    • Is Maggie really from the future, and is Abigail her mother? If so, why couldn't she think of a single song that was written after 2010?
    • What's wrong with Abigail? Why does she seem to have narcolepsy? Why does she always wear a hat? Why does she build strange sculptures solely from black legos? What kind of shots was her father giving her? Did she need them?
    • Was Carol really from the Justice Department? If so, why does she smuggle her files in clothing boxes? Why does she screen her hotel room for bugs? Why didn't any of the police who arrested Maggie stay around to take statements from anyone else at the scene?

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home narrowly avoided this. The film ends with a huge cliffhanger where Mysterio outs Peter Parker as the villain along with leaking his secret identity to the whole world. However, after the release of the film, licensing talks between Disney and Sony broke down, and as a result Spider-Man was nearly removed from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which would have forced Marvel Studios to cancel a third and fourth movie for Spider-Man for the MCU, leaving Peter's fate forever unresolved. Fortunately, roughly a month after Sony had announced that they were pulling Spider-Man out of the MCU, a deal was reached that allowed the character to return and the aforementioned films to return to production, and indeed the next one is an Immediate Sequel that starts at that ending.
  • At the end of Transformers: The Last Knight, Megatron and Barricade is still at large, there is an implication Unicron is awakening, and Quintessa is shown to have survived. However, the film's terrible reception killed any follow-ups on that, as prequel Bumblebee instead became a Soft Reboot that enabled new stories with little relation to the original five Transformers.
  • W. ends this way, literally. At the end of the film, after he embarrasses himself by being unable to answer a reporter when she asks him what his biggest mistake was while in office, Bush has another baseball fantasy where he runs to catch a long fly ball which never comes down.
  • X-Men Film Series

    Literature 
  • Animorphs:
    • The final book, "The Beginning", ended this way by introducing a new antagonist with absolutely no desire from the author to go further with it about 3 pages before the book and series end (she even admits to leaving the reader hanging in the afterword).
    • Another incident in-series is the fate of Sixth Ranger David. At the end of "The Return" he begs Rachel to kill him rather than force him to live out the rest of his days as a rat. Whether or not she does it is never revealed.
    • The reader never finds out who burned down Joe Bob Fenestre's house. For that matter, we never find out what happened to Joe Bob Fenestre at all.
    • In #41, the whole Bad Future thing turns out to be a mind exercise brought on by some other entity that is studying humans. It's not Ellimist or Crayak... So who was it?
  • The Brothers Karamazov, on any number of plot points. Dmitri is still wrongfully in jail, convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Ivan is still suffering from insanity. The fate of Ilyusha's family is uncertain. Alyosha's fate is uncertain. We've all learned a lesson, though, so they don't need to be cleared up for us.
  • Bonfires and Broomsticks, the second book in Bedknob and Broomstick, ends with Miss Price having gone off to the past and the children walking to the ruins of the house that she would have lived in, only to hear her disembodied voice tell them to get off of the cabbages.
  • In Andrea Chang's The Year of the Book and Honeysuckle House (novels for middle-grade readers featuring Chinese-American characters), it can reasonably be said that what is more or less considered the main plot is wrapped up, but a number of important plot themes are simply left hanging, such as, in Honeysuckle House, whether or not the father of the main character gets his Green Card to work in the United States. The Year of the Book at least has a sequel (May 2013), but no such luck for Honeysuckle House.
  • The Charles Sheffield sci-fi novel Cold as Ice follows this trope to ridiculous extremes as the writer tells the story of several, unconnected main characters. One of these, a standard End of the World plot, is resolved in the main story. The others are swiftly, and without explanation, dealt with in the Epilogue.
  • The Dinosaur Lords series has ended abruptly in middle of the plot, with its third volume — and is unlikely to continue, as the author Died During Production.
  • Discussed Trope in The Divine Comedy; the narration asks the reader to imagine if the story stopped just as a thousand Heavenly spirits from Mercury surround our heroes and begin to sing of a love unknown on Earth. The narrator hopes that making the readers think invoked "They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot" will help them understand how strongly the characters longed to talk to the ghosts of Mercury.
  • Another series by Applegate that ended with the readers left hanging was Everworld, which abruptly cuts off with numerous subplots, and even the main story itself, mostly unresolved. Plot threads left dangling include: Brigid, the coming battles against Ka Anor, the fate of the Sennites, how the introduction of technology will affect Everworld, who will be the next mayor of Atlantis, the Great Scroll of the Gods, etc.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaves the fate of the evil witch Dolores Umbridge up in the air after she is placed in a high level of the government after the Death Eaters take over. J.K. Rowling soon came out and said that Umbridge was prosecuted and imprisoned.
  • Johnny Truant's narrative in House of Leaves ends with an anecdote he once heard about a mother who spent all of three days with a newborn child doomed to die. The kid in the story could be him, meaning that he's been Dead All Along; Zampanò might have written it in as a Downer Ending (this is suggested by the one phrase in purple); none of this is explained. The Navidson Record ends on a higher note, but that's little consolation.
  • Maria Watches Over Us ends before Yumi's graduation, and leaves many questions unanswered. Who will Noriko and Touko's new petite soeurs be? What will Yumi do after graduation? And, most importantly, will Yumi and Sachiko finally enter a relationship, or remain soeurs forever?
  • Piers Anthony had a book called Mute which created an entire well-defined and intriguing universe, with complex characters and hinted-at half-revealed plans, ended it on an unresolved plot Cliffhanger... and then dropped it. Word of God is that he's not going to pick it up again, ever.
  • Serial mystery novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood was Left Hanging when Charles Dickens Died During Production.
  • In The Neverending Story many subplots are deliberately left unresolved: "But that is another story, to be told another time." This ends up being a plot point in its own right - Bastian can't leave Fantasia until he finishes all the stories he started, and he didn't really finish any of them. Atreyu has to promise to finish them for him so that Bastian can go home.
  • Anthony Price retired from fiction writing at the end of the 1980s, leaving at least one planned novel in his spy thriller series uncompleted, for a number of reasons, including ill health. (It's also been speculated that the downfall of the Soviet Union did a number on the series' Cold War-based Myth Arc.) The final published novel, The Memory Trap, does manage to fit in a theme of series protagonist David Audley acknowledging it may be time to pass the torch to the younger generation, but a lot of ongoing plot threads — in particular, Audley's ongoing rivalry with the Russian spymaster Panin, and a story arc about a possible highly-placed Russian sleeper agent — are left dangling.
  • Red Moon Rising (Moore) has no resolutions given with regards to the full effects of Danny's Change, his relationship with Juliet, or the assassination of Huey Seele. It seems unlikely that the book will receive a sequel any time soon.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: While the third and final book did see the coven recovering their grimoire and answered some questions, the details of what happened to it between its original theft and the recovery remained unknown, and Molly and Elsie had yet to fulfill their goal of retiring since they hadn't found a third witch to join Dorothy and Brian.
  • Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Legacy series, which was left unfinished due to copyright issues, since two of the three books were novelisations on Riftwar-based video games. The events that presumably happen during the finale of that series have been referenced in later books, but it is uncertain whether the books will actually ever be written.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • The books never officially explain what the Sugar Bowl secret is, they never explain who actually burned down the Baudelaire mansion... In fact, the series ends with a note that basically says: "Real Life is full of mysteries. Get over it."
    • Also, the fates of the Quagmires, Captain Widdershins and his stepchildren, and Hector.
  • According to Word of God, The Wheel of Time was always planned to end with a few plotlines not fully resolved, because Robert Jordan wanted the reader to be able to imagine his world and the lives of his characters continuing past the end of the final book. Probably the biggest thing left up to the reader to decide is whether the Bad Future that Aviendha saw can be prevented.
  • A Wolf in the Soul ends with Greg defeating the werewolf and returning to normal, but many other subplots, such as his parents' marriage and the reason he was infected in the first place remain unresolved.
  • The final book in the Familiars series, Palace of Dreams, ends on an as-of-now unresolved Cliffhanger, with several loose ends such as where Aldwyn's sister is not wrapped up.

    Podcasts 
  • Cool Kids Table: Despite not completing the story, the group decides that the The Wreck isn't feasible for the podcast because it doesn't have much room for roleplaying or much leeway anywhere. Though they initially suggested they could come back to it, by the time they're referencing it in Sequinox it's clear that they're not very keen on spending any more time with it.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Visual Novels 
  • Remember 11: The characters are basically out of danger, and free to start piecing together the many lingering mysteries surrounding their experience. Then comes an implied imminent infanticide and the credits. And we are barely scratching the surface as Satoru realizes he is not who he thought he was. Many of these problems were allegedly caused by budget problems.
  • Zero Escape:
    • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: Though you may not know it: the True ending seems to imply Junpei finds Akane, right? Wrong. He doesn't. He spends the rest of his life looking for her, and she goes off on some huge, grand scheme that the director only mentioned in passing.
    • The sequel Virtue's Last Reward is even worse: the entire game being training set up by Akane and Future!Sigma to develop Sigma and Phi's esper abilities to send them to the past and prevent the Radical-6 outbreak. Naturally, the game ends with them jumping back in time, and neither epilogue takes place when any of the participants willing to divulge information have yet been in the Mars mission test site. Most of these unresolved hooks are directly or indirectly setting up for the third game, but at least a few of them, not the least being the identity of "?", are unaddressed.
    • Not to mention Zero Time Dilemma, which leaves a good bunch of plot threads unresolved. Who was that religious fanatic? Was he/she found by Crash Keys, or did they doom humanity? Did Carlos shoot Delta or not? What happened to D-Team after the Payoff confrontation with Delta? note  None of these questions are addressed in the story, and unless a fourth game suddenly comes out of nowhere, we're unlikely to ever get the answers.

    Webcomics 
  • While Jeph Jacques did complete Alice Grove, it was done with releases coming at a breakneck pace in the comic's last third or so and the story focusing on directly resolving the most central arc. That, plus an abrupt Time Skip ending, left a lot of dangling plot threads and unanswered questions about the characters and setting.
  • Cheap Thrills spent much of the fourth chapter (among other unresolved subplots) detailing protagonist Jerodie becoming a meth addict due to stress in addition to the deaths of his mother and younger brother in a car crash. Jeordie’s girlfriend Bethany finds this out in the last panel of what wound up being the final published comic. After a five-year hiatus, author/artist S. E. Case ultimately gave the comic an outright Continuity Reboot as Rigsby, WI.
  • Rumors of War frequently ends a Story Arc without resolving all of its plot threads. This is generally viewed as intentional on the part of the author. Not that it's any less frustrating to be left wondering What Happened to the Mouse?
  • RPG World, the heroes invade Galgarion's headquarters and make it to him for a final battle. Everyone's about to throw down and...it just stopped. A combination of creator, Ian J, going into animation and backlash from his fans on certain things they didn't like in the story resulted in him quitting the webcomic entirely, leaving the story unfinished after a seven year run (2000-2007). What's more there was a subplot going on that Rika's robots had stumbled upon a time machine meaning there could possibly be a way to prevent her from being killed by Galgarion. But the series stopped before it could go anywhere.
    • Eventually when Ian got his show, OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, greenlit years later after becoming an animator. He dedicated an episode to Hero and Galgarion ultimately resolving their feud and Hero going back home to Cherry where they later have a child. Ian himself inked a final page as a proper ending. It was about as much closure fans were gonna get of the series despite the other plotlines that were still going on since the webcomic ended.
  • Girls with Slingshots ended with Hazel and Zach sorting out their relationship and settling as Better as Friends, but there were several plotlines that were left unresolved: Will Hazel move in as a roommate with her Dogged Nice Guy Vincent, despite Jamie thinking (with justification) that it's a very bad idea? And what's Vincent's side of the story in this? What about the hints that McPedro is an alien? Although, the author has stated that the story may continue in another form, so these plotlines may get a future resolution.
  • Homestuck ends in this manner, with all of the plot threads that had been developed over the last couple years being abandoned in favor of the ending that had been planned out and worked on for years. However, the credits sequence released six months later ended up resolving many of the threads, and The Homestuck Epilogues came out three years after the comic ended.
  • xkcd has "The Race" series, featuring Firefly actors, which abruptly ended just before the main character and Nathan Fillion duke it out, mocking Firefly's abrupt cancellation mentioned above.

    Web Original 
  • The X-Entertainment 2008 Advent Calendar's last update was the 22nd... right before the traditional final battle. Great.
  • Little White Lie featured a major cliffhanger...and then the creators lost their money and most of the people moved and scattered around the country.
  • The ending to Candle Cove is a mixture of this and The Reveal. The last person discussing the long-forgotten children's show explains that Candle Cove didn't exist at all, and that anyone who watched the show was just watching static for half an hour. It turns into Paranoia Fuel when the participants in the story remember some profoundly scary things from the show.
  • The BIONICLE web-serials ceased being updated long ago, for the simple reason that the writer didn't have time to continue doing them, leaving about a dozen or so different plot-lines hanging, some of them in their very early stages. And as these were the sole story-sources after the cancellation of the toys, comics, books and movies, this effectively means the entire franchise ended this way.
  • The fourth season of TVTome Adventures will likely never happen, which Chris Niosi may never stop hearing backlash about. Granted, he WAS planning on creating a fourth season, but after he went to college, he had less time for the series and the show was cancelled. He later admitted that the reason he didn't finish his series was partially because it was less popular than other his other works such as Brawl Taunts and Parody Rangers, which didn't help public opinion. Still, most of the loose ends can be answered by scrounging Niosi's DeviantArt page. It's a shame, too, since season 4 would have been awesome.
    Gamecrazed:I'm just a virus...
  • Because of a Creator Breakdown, Demo Reel ended up leaving a few things unanswered, most annoying being Donnie's failed marriage. What did he do to make it die? Did she know about his past? How did they meet? We'll never find out.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers the PMD-R arc abruptly ended by leaking into Kanjoh-2 due to most of the playerbase losing motivation, though there have been attempts to properly fill the gaps and close the loose ends.
  • A number of plots in Pokémon: Rise of the Rockets, primarily due to players leaving before finishing what they started—or worse, introducing characters and plots and then not doing anything at all with them. One particular example that comes to mind is Hoenn's liberation from Team Rocket, which was never followed up on again until the GM decided to do something with it himself—which resulted in complaints from the very player who had left it hanging to begin with!
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, any plots introduced by players who disappear afterwards will often be left hanging unless some other players decide to carry on the plots and resolve them instead.
  • The 13th Season of Red vs. Blue. Epsilon-Church deconstructs himself into his fragments, which each go to one of the different Reds and Blues to help them defeat Hargrove's forces, which are about to blast their way into the room they're barricaded in. Church remarks about how the hero who gives his life doesn't get to see the happy ending he helped created. And with the line "Well, ain't that a bitch," the screen cuts to black before anything else happens. Season 15, the next season chronologicallynote , picks up well after this point, and the writers have gone on record stating that they don't intend to reveal how the Reds and Blues escaped the ship.
  • Googlebrains has a video that just leaves you in thin air about what happens next. There is an ending but they say stuff that adds so much possibility for a continuation.
  • Pissed Off Angry Gamer: At the end of the Xbox 360 review, he says his next console review will be of the PlayStation 3. It never happened.

    Other 
  • An old joke around this trope; a man living in an apartment building has fallen into the habit of dropping his shoes on the floor when he gets home and takes them off. This causes his downstairs neighbour to complain about the frequent noise. One evening, the man comes home, takes off one of his shoes and drops it, but then remembers his neighbour's complaint and places the other one quietly on the floor beside the first shoe. Hours later, he's going about his thing when he suddenly hears an anguished cry from downstairs: "For God's sake, drop the other shoe!" Ba-dum-tish.
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