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No Ending

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You think there's some pithy comment here? Well, you're—
"There is no real ending. It's just the place where you stop the story."

You say you want a resolution? Well, you know, we all want to see the end. But when you talk about a conclusion, you know that you can count this work out: a work intentionally ends unresolved, the Story Arcs are unconcluded, and you can believe whatever you want about what happens next.note 

When the main plot is resolved but other threads aren't, that's a different trope: Left Hanging. If the story ends right before a big fight scene it's a Bolivian Army Ending. When the lack of ending is passed off as being a good reward, it's A Winner Is You. If the writer ends the story in a way where the viewer or reader must decide by his own interpretation how it ended, it's an Ambiguous Ending. This trope may be combined with Negative Continuity, if the last episode's problems simply disappear. But when a big story arc is dismissed with a handwave, it's an Aborted Arc.


If external factors end the story, it is Cut Short: see Cancellation or Died During Production. If the author's comments about the ending are similarly ambiguous, it's the Shrug of God. Compare End-of-Series Awareness, No Romantic Resolution, Dead Fic (in fanfiction), Offscreen Inertia, The Resolution Will Not Be Identified, Drop the Cow, Endless Game and Non Standard Game Over.

Occasionally the story picks up later with a Remake or Spin-Off. If this is to build tension for a sequel, it's a Cliffhanger. If not, expect a pissed off fanbase, in which case a Continuation Fic may pick up where the official story left off.

As with all Ending Tropes, there will be unmarked spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.



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  • Enforced in the I Saw Your Willy PSA, which ends with Alex still embarrassed and not knowing what to do about his Internet humiliation, to drive home the point that sharing the wrong thing online can be a disaster.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The final (not counting specials) episode of .hack//SIGN features the buildup to a huge battle... which then doesn't take place because they got shunted to other materials instead.
  • Aku No Higan Beyond Evil ends shortly after Viktor reveals his backstory, with him observing Gota fight off several thugs who are attacking his family and appreciating the latter's growth, as this means that Gota is getting closer to being able to fulfill Victor's goal of killing the beast locked within him.
  • The Bamboo Blade manga ends right in the middle of Tama and Sakaki's first fight. Apparently the author decided that the outcome of the fight wasn't as important as the fact that Tama finally has a rival that's her equal.
  • Deliberately invoked in Bluecomet SPT Layzner, as the creators found their series Cut Short due to low ratings and Executive Meddling, and had to extensively rewrite the ending. The Hallmark 2000 OVA fixes it with two recap episodes and a completely new one that ultimately says "Earn Your Happy Ending".
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo: The anime ends abruptly as the gang is running up the stairs towards the final battle. Bo-bobo makes note that the series has run out of funding, with most of the most sane characters reacting as you'd expect them to. The manga, however, goes on for much... much longer.
  • The anime adaptation of A Centaur's Life ends with Himeno winning the arm wrestling tournament, then asking why they were even competing in the first place. At that point, the title card is shown, followed by the ending credits and a still image of Himeno that says "Thank you for watching."
  • The last episode of Corpse Princess ends with a Smash to Black right in the middle of the final fight between Makina and Hokuto.
  • Dai-Guard doesn't end when all the Heterodynes are destroyed, it ends when all the characters realize that the Heterodyne attacks are simply a fact of life in 2030 Japan the same as earthquakes and hurricanes and the point is not about putting an end to them, but how you deal with them. From protecting the lives AND livelihoods of the civilians and working with the military and your allies (rather than against them) to deal with the situation properly.
  • Dallos ends where a Gundam series would begin. Shun and Rachel have radicalized and joined Dog's crew to fight against the Earth while their surviving elders go back to work, the Earth has refused to make any concessions to the Lunar colonists even in the face of war, and Dallos' giant eyes are glowing green - and that's it. We don't see the outcome of the uprising, and we never learn what the deal is with Dallos.
  • Episode 13 of Digimon Adventure 02 had two characters encounter the minions of a Big Bad called Dagomon (a thinly-veiled Expy of H.P. Lovecraft's Eldritch Abomination Dagon). While the episode's immediate conflict is resolved, questions like what the heck Dagomon is (or what the heck his Mooks are, for that matter), are never properly resolved. Even more frustrating considering that the end of the episode shows him rising oh-so-ominously from the Dark Ocean (complete with glowing red eyes), strongly implying that he will become the Big Bad (or something comparably important) later on, but never came to be.
    • It doesn't help that Dagomon was originally planned to have more involvement, but this was scrapped due to meddling from Bandai and disputes among the writing staff.
  • Doraemon which ends up with the fans creating their own endings in doujin comics. One happy endingnote  (which was legendarily Jossed from orbit, with nuclear fire by the publishers due to the art being picture perfect to the original series and the ending being more or less beloved by the entire fanbase) and two Downer Endings, one of which was lifted from St. Elsewhere.
    • The Fujiko duo did try to end the series when it appeared that the franchise was losing popularity in the early 70s, resulting in the final story in Volume 6 of the manga. When the franchise suddenly picked up in popularity again shortly after the release of the said volume, they were forced to Retcon that particular story in the first story of Volume 7 of the manga.
    • The 1973 series did have an ending, where Doraemon returned to the future and Nobita promised him to grow up to be successful.
  • Two English publications of Fist of the North Star end just before or after important plot events. One ends after Kenshiro defeats Jagi (where Jagi reveals that Toki and Raoh are still alive), while the other ends just before the first battle with Raoh.
  • Glass Mask has an in-universe example with the book-turned-play Bianca the Pirate. Maya plays the pirate Bianca, who confesses to the masses on a courthouse-ship her past as a noble, how she disguised herself as a man to live as a pirate and was now found out. The play ends with a narrator saying, 'Her name disappears at this point in history... in the distance, you can see a small ship sailing away with some figures in it. What became of Bianca? You will have no answers from the mediterranean sea'.
  • The last line in the He Is My Master manga is "Izumi's debt is still *insert huge amount here*". It doesn't conclude. As a mirror to the Bo-bobo example above, however, the anime actually has an ending.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers has a Valentine's Day strip end rather abruptly just as one of the main characters seems to be remembering something about another...
  • Hikaru no Go ends after Hikaru's team loses the Hokuto Cup, and Hikaru vowing to continue playing Go — which he has pretty much been doing throughout the entire series. Given that the point of the story is for Hikaru to become a master, ending when he's not even close to reach his goal is... unsatisfactory to say the least.
  • The His and Her Circumstances anime infamously ends (or fails to end) this way, with an episode consisting of a slideshow of drawings that still doesn't resolve anything.
  • I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up ends with Hana deciding not to move out, and more or less deciding to stay with her senpai and "wife," Machi, on a permanent basis. After that, life goes on for the married couple... and that's it. Because of that, some people were surprised that the manga ended after only three chapters.
  • Initial D, no need to say! "The challenge continues into the far future."
  • The first anime adaptation of Inuyasha ends with No Romantic Resolution and the heroes running off into the sunset, still having yet to defeat the antagonist, but proudly proclaiming that someday they will. Eventually the show was Un-Canceled to finish out the rest of the series. Though it doesn't cover all the manga stories from where the original series left off, just the main conflict with Naraku.
  • The Kill la Kill manga adaptation ended after Ryuko's first confrontation with Nui, about halfway through the story, an encounter that shakes up the status quo and doesn't offer much of a conclusion.
  • The 2017 anime adaptation of Kino's Journey ends with Kino taking a nap in a field on a beautiful day, declaring that it's the end of her journey, and when she awakens, another one will begin. In The Stinger, she wakes up and sets off on Hermes once again.
  • The OVA of Kujibiki Unbalance represents episodes 1, 21, and 25 of a fictional 26-episode TV series, meaning that we never get to see the conclusion. Just to heighten the annoyance, episode 25 ends with Ritsuko about to announce the conditions for victory in the tournament. (The manga of Genshiken, which featured it as a Show Within a Show, clarifies that the last episode was never aired due to a typhoon, so it is sort of justified.)
    • The Genshiken manga itself doesn't really have any real ending, the idea being that just because the members graduate doesn't mean that club is going anywhere. More members will join and life (and doujinshi) will go on.
    • The second season fully embraces this trope, while doing the preview for the final episode Madarame loudly proclaims: YES! MIKAN IS BESTO ENDO!!!
  • The ending of the Macross Frontier TV show, on the surface, would seem like every "Good Guys Live Happily Ever After" plot. However, considering that the Love Triangle, a central theme across the Macross franchise, is left unresolved, one could make a case that the story has an unresolved ending.
  • A Manga With Too Many Premises ends suddenly as the main characters mysteriously swap bodies after kissing. The entire point of the manga was to cram as many premises for yuri manga as possible into a single one-shot, so it doesn't really have a plot.
  • Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation specifically follows the life of Rudeus Greyrat. As such his death is the ending of the story. Despite this the main plot of defeating Hitogami goes unresolved as the final battle will occur decades later.
  • The manga adaptation of the Persona 3 side of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth ends after the second labyrinth, less than halfway through the game.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors ends with D leaving Tokyo and Leon, with their relationship unresolved, the continuation of the plot not only introduces a replacement for Leon, but also makes clear that the latter is chasing D all over the world, but even then, they seem to never find each other and their relationship is unclear again.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Futari wa Pretty Cure:
      • One of the last few episodes of focuses on the heroines' class entering a chorus competition. The episode ends immediately after their performance, with absolutely no indication of whether they won.
      • An earlier episode focuses on the science club entering a competition and, like the chorus episode, ends without revealing the outcome. A full year later, Max Heart finally revealed that Verone won... as part of the discussion on what to do for this year's competition, and once again, the episode ended without indicating how they did.
    • HuGtto! Pretty Cure
      • Episode 31 has this in regards to the conflict between Hana and Eri, the one who Hana stood up for in the past and got shunned by her peers for. When it looked like Eri was about to apologize to Hana, Takumi and Jinjin attack, freezing everyone in place forcing the Pretty Cures to fight them off. By the time they were dealt with, the episode never goes back to Eri's apology, instead opting to have Hana and the others watch her cheer-leading recital before cutting to the main team taking a selfie together. It should be noted that Eri has never been seen since that episode.
  • Ranma ½ is a two-fer. The anime version was Cut Short and ended with Nodoka's first appearance; the final shot of the episode was Ranma and Akane discussing their need to get going, and waving a farewell to the audience. The manga, meanwhile, got all the way up to an attempted wedding between Ranma and Akane. Which got blown up. The second-last panel of the manga is the two arguing over whose fault it was that the wedding was wrecked, and the last was a shot of them heading off to school again with a caption stating that "the game of love... has gone into overtime".
  • In Reborn! (2004), in spite of the final arc ending with the curse being lifted from the Arcobaleno, there is no clear resolution for Tsuna or the other guardians. Tsuna is still failing his way through school and sports, still hasn't confessed to Kyoko, and is still dependent on Reborn for guidance and all of which is lampshaded mercilessly. He still defiantly opposes being the Vongola boss but offers no alternative for his future. The only difference between the beginning and ending of the manga is that he has friends.
  • School Rumble: It's not so bad in the anime adaptation, since it ended before the series took a turn for the Tear-Jerkingly Serious. The manga leaves the audience hanging in such a bad way that some have debated whether the author was just saying "screw you" to the audience.
  • Subaru: The titular heroine Subaru is being chased by employees of the Immigration Department, with her ballet troupe trying to get her to flee with them and Alexander holding them off. But then Alexander admits that he and Subaru will never have a future together, so Subaru willingly falls into the hands of the Immigration Department. What exactly happened after that moment isn't told. Unless one reads ''the ''sequel''.
  • To Love Ru Darkness has no conclusive ending with Rito yet to choose anyone as his official girlfriend, despite his obvious preference for Haruna. This leaves the girls in his harem more determined than ever to win his affections. In an e-mail for her mother, Momo writes life will go on the same way as before.
  • The anime of UFO Princess Valkyrie ended with just a normal episode. This, along with the fact that the last season was all of two episodes long, gives the impression that the series got cancelled unexpectedly.
  • Underdog ended with Naoto escaping from a Deadly Game coming back home to find an email telling him that he is about to enter the second round. This series was presumably cancelled prematurely.
  • Urusei Yatsura does this almost constantly. Many episodes follow this formula: Lum or one of the other aliens introduces a new device or power. One of the other characters misuses it for selfish reasons. Things rapidly spin out of control until the entire town is engulfed in chaos. And... that's it. The episodes often end just when things are at their craziest, without even considering how the cast will get out of this mess.
    • The series itself ends this way, too. The final storyline is one big lampshading of the fact that after all these years, Ataru still refuses to tell Lum he loves her. He literally is willing to risk the destruction of the world to avoid doing this. When the townsfolk discover this, they form a mob and hunt Ataru down to try to force him to say he loves Lum. He still won't, and the series ends with him about to be beaten to death.
      • To be specific, the series doesn't exactly conclude with No Ending, but more of an "adventure continues" type of ending. Ataru chases after Lum, who refuses to disable an amnesia device (which will make all the aliens forget their memories of Earth) until he tells her he loves her, but she stops when she notices he kept the chunk of her horn he pulled off all the way back in chapter one. It's enough to convince her, but she tells him she'll get him to say it one day. Ataru says he'll say it on his deathbed, and the series ends there, much to the cast's annoyance (someone even tosses a can at Ataru's head in the very last panel).
  • ×××HOLiC:
    • The Beach Episode ends with a ghost girl looking out the window to the protagonists. The issue is never mentioned again.
    • The whole series apparently ends with Watanuki and Doumeki talking about a dream of Yuuko's. Except that it's Doumeki's grandson and Yuuko's dream is telling Watanuki that he can leave the shop at last. Nothing about the fates of Kohane, Himawari and her husband, the original Doumeki, the unhatched egg that's now a Doumeki family heirloom, and Xiaolang is ever resolved.
  • Yo-Kai Watch often toys with this trope in various segments, as some of them never had a proper conclusion. This often laps with Aborted Arc or Left Hanging.
    • Both Kyubi's and Manjimutt's segments have this. Kyubi plans on trying to win Katie's after his second appearance, but nothing else afterwards.
    • The last episode of "The Great (Dog) Escape" has Manjimutt getting a visit from Charlie, who is a serial killer. What happened to Manjimutt after that is unknown, though we see in a later episode that he is still fine.
    • Gusty Bones's debut ends with Nate almost winning, when two yo-kai added more prize balls in the machine.
  • Yukino Plan is the story of a manipulative and possessive girl named Sana who plots to ensure that her friend Yukino belongs to her. The series is only two chapters long and ends with Sana reiterating her desire to make Yukino hers, but no real resolution.
  • Yuri Moyou ends after 41 chapters with no real resolution to any of the sisters' romance plots, save for Serina's boss calling her by her first name, and Ryou giving Hikari a kiss on the cheek. The final chapter is only unique in that it gives a page to each sister, instead of focusing on a single one of them.
  • The Zatch Bell! anime ends after Gash and company beat Faudo. Kiyomaro and Gash (whose book is still golden) are about to fight Sherry and Brago in a grassy meadow. No outcome is shown and the anime ends there. The manga took a few cues from the anime near the end, up to the point where the final fight between Gash and Brago is in a grassy meadow. However, expectedly, Gash wins this fight and becomes King of Makai.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Season 3 premiere of Crazy Candies, "Have a Class", is about the employees of the local baozi dumpling restaurant, the Bao House, learning from Uncle Twinkie that their restaurant is losing customers because of the lack of variety in their menu and being taught to make other food items besides baozi dumplings to get business back again. While its plot point of the teacher threatening to send his students to the moon if they don't behave themselves is resolved when Mr. Seed interrupts the class and gets the moon pod launch punishment, the restaurant menu plot point that started the episode is never resolved, as it cuts to the end credits after Mr. Seed gets sent to the moon and we never see if they learn how to make a hamburger properly.

    Comic Books 
  • The Novelization of Knightfall. Alfred is gone and Bruce hasn't decided whether to resume being Batman. The final lines of the book are potent.
    "Bruce, is there still a Batman?" Tim asked finally.
    "Damned if I know," Bruce said. note 
  • Often a case in comic books, especially when a comic ends abruptly. Occasionally the plotline will be picked up again in another book or resolved if a series is brought back into publication. Trade paperbacks are also infamous for this sometimes, as far as leaving storylines unresolved or ending in the middle. Famous examples would be:
    • X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams, which ends with Xavier collapsing and near death (in part because the subsequent issue, wasn't drawn by Neal Adams).
    • Daredevil: Typhoid Mary ends with Typhoid Mary having kicked Daredevil's ass and leaving him in a burning building, as she gloats about having broken his heart and messed with his life.
    • X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David V4 leaves an entire storyline dangling (X-Factor going to Genosha, after the US decides to deport a bunch of Genoshan mutates seeking asylum) because David left the storyline after the first issue due to executive meddling. Not to mention reprinting the X-Cutioner's Song storyline tie-in issues.
    • Fans of Jim Lee's X-Men run have suffered this as well, as his last couple of issues of X-Men have never been published, leaving "Mutant Genesis" with major cliff-hangers as far as the Mojo/Longshot storyline.
    • The Essential Nova and Spider-Woman TPBs have this in spades as well. Essential Spider-Woman V2 omits the issues of Avengers that deal with her final battle with Morgana LeFey and losing her powers, while the Nova TPB not only omits the Fantastic Four issues that wrap up the Sphinx subplot (which ends abruptly in the last page of the TPB, with a proclamation to read Fantastic Four to find out what he's up to), but also the story where Rich Rider loses his powers. Granted the latter's omission is due to the fact that that story takes place in Rom (which can't be reprinted due to copyright problems), but the former is just insane.
      • Essential Howard the Duck doesn't reprint the last few issues of the original series, most likely because they weren't written by Steve Gerber.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) ended with Cobra brainwashing Storm Shadow and other turncoat Cobra members, effectively restoring Cobra to full strength after years of decline due to the defections of Storm Shadow, Destro, Baroness, and Zartan. The last issue is a one-off issue where Snake Eyes writes a letter to his army friend's adopted son about life in the military.
    • G.I. Joe has been restarted by IDW, with Larry Hama picking up where he left off, and with time having passed between then and now. The old numbering has even been resurrected for the series. Of course, seeing as Hama is a Vietnam veteran, there might be a question of whether or not he can finish up this time.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers: Generation 2 suffered this: Transformers ended with Megatron and Optimus Prime striking a truce/alliance against the "second generation" Transformer Empire, with Liege Maximo (head of the second generation Transformer Empire) gloating on his throne about how the alliance between the two sides won't last and him already plotting his next move against the Autobots and Decepticons.
    • A more infamous case would be the Dreamwave Transformer books, in particular "The War Within: The Age of Wrath". Three issues were done but due to Pat Lee running his company into the ground, the remaining issues will never see the light of day.
    • Transformers has done something similar as G.I. Joe under IDW, only they threw out the Generation 2 comics altogether and started a series called "Re-Generation One", picking up from issue #81, to follow #80, the last G1 comic.
  • Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the United States ends with a note saying that historians never have to write endings, as history will never truly end. He then trails off abruptly in mid sentence.
  • The Hush Returns arc of Gotham Knights was left completely unresolved, in a sort of bizarre Mexican Standoff between Batman, Hush, and the Joker armed with a remote-controlled pace maker inside Hush's chest. The resolution of the fight was revealed in Hush's subsequent appearances; turns out Batman left Hush to die and the Joker gave Hush a massive heart attack. He came back, but not without a long recovery.
  • The X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics, set before the X-Wing Series books, end with the Mandatory Retirement arc. Great arc end. Bewildering series end. Apparently it was canceled. Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole actually scripted a six-issue arc, The Reenlistment Of Baron Fel, that would transition the X-Wing comics to the X-Wing books and to The Thrawn Trilogy, but cancellation stopped that from being produced. The authors shrugged and turned the script into one of the four-part novellas that they've collaborated on before. ...And this is even now sitting on their hard drives, unsold.
  • Illustrated novel Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection, positions itself as being the recovered journal of a young doctor who tried to survive the initial stages of the Zombie Apocalypse in 2012. The journal traces his journey from the middle of infected Seattle to The Farm, a safe haven set up by a small group of civilians in Western Canada, and after the destruction of The Farm, his journey to another (far better defended) safe haven in the highly isolated town of Churchill. There he's treated with suspicion from the locals, and his Evil-Detecting Dog reacts badly to the people. In a journal entry, the writing suddenly trails off mid sentence, and there are hints of blood spatters on the edge of the page. An afterward simply says that no one knows what happened to the doctor, and no survivors were found in Churchill.
  • In the ElfQuest short "The Heart's Way" one of Skywise's three girlfriends (yeah!) is upset with him because she wants commitment rather than just fun. Another character suggests she take her time. The ending shows her standing outside the hut where Skywise and the other two girls are making out, but the ending lampshades the ambiguity of whether she joins them or walks away.
  • Happens in the old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons comic. A lich has kidnapped one of the characters because he wanted her as a "wife". Everything was set for a rescue, but the series was dropped, resulting in just one final unconnected special and a new Spelljammer line.
  • Marvel Comics' Thor/Loki: Bloodbrothers is a story about Loki having finally taken over Asgard, and now being faced with the decision of whether or not he will execute his brother. The entire story makes it seem as though there will be some big battle between the title characters at the end, but instead all that happens is that Thor escapes his dungeon, and as Loki begs for mercy, Thor strikes his hammer down and that's it. No epilogue, no resolution, no conclusion. Not a satisfying one anyway, at least not at first. Though one could argue that the abrupt ending is more powerful and tragic, it's still really frustrating and unsatisfying to the reader at the moment.
  • The Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane series ended up having this type of ending. After spending a lot of time building up the Peter/Mary Jane hook up, the final scene of the series ends with Peter and Mary Jane reaching to hold each others hands. To everyone's annoyance, the follow-up series (which is not written by Sean McKeever) does not follow up on this and establishes M.J. and Peter are still just friends. They have a nice moment in the final issue sharing a pizza together, though. According to later interviews with McKeever, Peter and M.J did indeed become a couple in his version of events and some plans he had for follow-ups would have involved a love triangle with Johnny Storm, but that Peter and M.J would still come out of it as a couple
  • The 2009 Doctor Strange ends with Dr. Strange's would-be apprentice Casey Kinmont getting sucked into an alternate dimension by a malevolent entity. Dr. Strange, allied with the demon who owns Casey's soul, vows to rescue her. And...scene.
    • We later get a resolution in Doctor Strange (2018). Turns out Strange spent the better part of a year looking before his obsession with finding her nearly gets him and the Earth annihilated by a monster called Jundo. He temporarily removed his memories of Casey to focus himself on sealing Jundo away, but not before she kills the demon Strange entrusted the memories to without Strange noticing. Now Casey's back nine real-time years later feeling betrayed and pissed, impersonating the good Doctor while he was out in space (long story).
  • I Hate Gallant Girl ends with Tempest having just survived a vicious attack from the title "heroine" and just itching for the chance to get back at her. You'd almost think the book was Cut Short halfway through.
  • Métal Hurlant / Heavy Metal Magazine married this trope and had kids. Just about every other story in it ends this way.
  • Anything involving Captain Britain. Alan Moore's departure, the cancellation of the original strip, and the final issue of Excalibur all end with a tag saying "Never The End" instead of "The End". This may be a reference to King Arthur, who Brian was often compared to, and whose own tombstone noted that his story wasn't over yet.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) played this straight twice. The original universe was in the middle of a story arc where New Mobotropolis was being manipulated by Naugus while Sonic was chasing after a robotized Sally among a slew of other storylines going on. Just as they succeed in capturing her... their universe ended up going through a Cosmic Retcon thanks to a ugly legal battle, ultimately leading to a lot of storylines never being resolved. The post-reboot comic, while wrapping up the first major story arc, was canceled in part 3 of a Milestone Celebration of past games, leaving ongoing plotlines unresolved.
  • Twisted Dark: The story "Paranoia" ends with the robbers who broke into Keith Conatser's house approaching his position, unaware he's waiting for them, a gun in each hand.
  • Watchmen: Ozymandias asks the omniscient Dr. Manhattan if his terrible actions to stop World War III will be justified "in the end." Manhattan's response is a warning that history will keep on going, and the future will always have new problems. The real world can't be guaranteed an eventual happy ending. Sure enough, the comic itself ends with Rorschach's journal being considered for publishing (admittedly, at a somewhat disreputable right-wing publication that refused to publish it shortly before the climax), when it contains the truth that Ozymandias orchestrated the current Roman peace.
  • "What If? Hulk's Girlfriend Jarella Had Not Died?" ends with the good guys winning a battle against the bad guys, but not the war, and some relic appears as Chekhov's Gun but is never fired. It's as if the story was supposed to be longer, or receive a Sequel Episode, but that never happened.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Calvin and Hobbes strip has Calvin ask his dad to tell him a story with him and Hobbes in it. Dad proceeds to recap Calvin's day up until noon, and when Calvin complains that he doesn't continue on Dad explains that the story has no end, for Calvin and Hobbes will go out and write more of it the next day.
  • For a long time, it looked like Little Orphan Annie would not only end like this, but on a cruel cliffhanger. When the strip was officially cancelled on March 10th, 2010, Annie was in Guatemala with her kidnapper, the terrorist leader the "Butcher of the Balkans". Warbucks has no idea where she is, or even that she's still alive, and the Butcher tells Annie that he neither will let her go nor kill her — for fear of being captured and because he will not kill a child despite his many political killings — and adds that she has a new life now with him. The final panel of the strip reads "And this is where we leave our Annie. For Now—" However the story restarted with a glimmer of hope in 2013 in another strip, Dick Tracy, where Warbucks enlisted the detective's help to find her. Eventually, Annie was located after a letter from her came up, revealing her location and the Butcher's true identity. A final Belated Happy Ending wrapped Annie's story up on October 12th of the same year. (She has since appeared as a guest star in the strip on occasion.
  • Retail ends with a mass resignation of the main staff in the face of Grumbel's bankruptcy. The actual final strip shows a nameless mall worker taking down the Grumbel's sign while the space advertises that a Dollar Admiral would be coming soon, leaving the fates of most of the characters unresolvednote .

    Fan Works 
  • Ash's Return ends mid-word.
  • Christian Humber Reloaded ends with the main character having just defeated the president, and ends up naming his new form "Chaos Hunter Form." While this is the end of the most recent conflict, it seems to be where the author stopped writing the story, rather than a proper ending.
  • Coveralls, a fanfic of The X-Files written by an AI, ends on an unresolved "to be continued".
  • The Great Starship Battle ends with a future incarnation of the Doctor, strongly implied to be the Valeyard, destroying the Borg Cube. However, numerous plot threads and the fates of all the other characters are left unresolved.* Done in the purposeful literary sense with In the Service: the character the story was following has completed his arc, even if the war that forms the background for the story isn't over.
  • legolas by laura: It ends in mid-sentence.
  • My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series ends with Twilight enlisting Spike, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack in helping her come up with ideas for a friendship report. Mostly just take thats to the premises of later episodes. But unlike other examples, Greg, the series creator officially reveals that he's cancelling the series to move on to other things through text at the end of said episode.
  • My Immortal ends with Ebony about to try to kill Voldemort with Avada Kedavra, with no indication as to whether she'll succeed or fail.
  • Quarter-Life: Halfway To Destruction ends with an unknown villain ambushing Gordon Freeman, followed by the author telling the reader to decide what happens next, thanking them for reading, and begging them to buy his book.
  • What Have You Done ends quite abruptly with most of the characters inside the chamber of the Elements of Harmony, when the Elements have rejected their bearers for "abandoning" Twilight, with Changelings swarming outside. To drive it home, the last line is the titular question. The sequel is meant to pick up this thread, but it was not yet conceived during the outlining of the original, which has this trope in full effect.
  • This Pokémon spoof. Just when the Pokémon are about to butt heads in their final strikes, the video cuts to the cast singing the theme song and we never see the outcome.
  • My Dream Is Yours ends with Orchid, Orson and Oren all still uncured of Dream-Transfer-itis, with Orson in particular becoming a new victim.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 400 Blows famously ends with Antoine looking exhausted in a Freeze Frame in the middle of an unresolved chase scene.
  • 28 Hotel Rooms: The plot has no clear resolution. At the end, the man and woman seem to be considering rekindling their relationship, but how it will all work out (or not) is left hanging.
  • Already Tomorrow In Hong Kong has two strangers meeting and falling for each other in the course of two nights. Ruby reveals that she's actually engaged and will be moving back to America next week. They acknowledge that they've been emotionally cheating on their spouses, but are unsure what to do next. The film cuts off before either of them decide whether they'll part now or start a relationship.
  • American Psycho. The ending throws into question everything we saw happen in the film and we never get an answer as to what really happened.
  • The Birds: The titular bird attacks on the town are never explained, nor are they stopped. During one of their "calm" periods, a tense peacefulness which also is unexplained, the protagonists get to their car and evacuate the town. Cue the end of the movie.
  • Being a So Bad, It's Good homage to The Birds, Birdemic ham-fistedly hits all of the films' major points, including the sudden ending. The sequel also apparently decided to forgo any kind of proper ending to make a Sunset Boulevard reference instead.
  • Blame (2017): The film ends before we learn what becomes of the protagonists and the plot is just left unresolved once Melissa claims Mr. Woods raped her. However, given it's parallel with The Crucible the result is probably not good.
  • Blood Debts ends with the main character shooting the villain with some sort of rocket derringer, causing him to explode. The film ends the instant he detonates, with a title card essentially acting as the entire dénouement.
  • Breaker! Breaker! ends with JD landing the finishing blow on Strode, a fade out to the burning remains of West Texas... Then credits. This brings up What Happened to the Mouse? on a near total scale. We don't even know if the last blow on Strode killed him or merely knocked him out.
  • With Cake being a Slice of Life about a woman dealing with chronic pain, this is expected. The final scene of the movie has Claire and Silvana laying some flowers on Nina's grave and then getting back into the car to drive home. Showing how this can still be used positively Claire - who for the rest of the movie had preferred to ride in the car lying down - chooses to ride in the car sitting up. This at least hints that she's making progress.
  • Cast Away. At the very end Chuck is literally at a cross-roads in a large open area.
  • The Castle, adapted from the Franz Kafka novel by Michael Haneke, emulates the novel's abrupt ending by cutting to black in mid-narrative and offering no resolution to the story.
  • The Cavern infamously did this. Towards the end of the film, the caveman Petr brutally kills one of the remaining survivors and rapes the other, and the film just ends right there. This ending presses the Berserk Button of Film Brain so badly he verbally tears it apart, saying the movie can go fuck itself as a result of it.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore movie Change of Habit famously ends this way, with MTM trying to decide whether she will remain a nun or leave the order to pursue True Love with Elvis Presley.
  • At the end of Cross of Iron, Sgt. Steiner and Capt. Stransky are fighting together for survival during the final Soviet assault. When they cross the railroad tracks, Stransky shoots two Soviets, emptying the magazine of his MP-40. He trips and falls, and Steiner shouts at him to get up. Stransky panicking at his empty gun, begs Steiner to tell him how to reload. A Soviet boy soldier shoots at him and knocks of his helmet as Steiner begins to laugh manically. The screen freezes with a shot of Stransky putting his helmet on backwards, then cuts to the boy soldier trying to fire a jammed MP-40 and shaking his head in disgust, and finally to Steiner limping away laughing hysterically. The film ends rather ambiguously with a shot of an explosion and Steiners maniacal laugh continuing into the credits. This abrupt ending was due to budget issues demanding improvisation and rewrite of the final scene.
  • The horror movie Creature infamously not only has no ending but no third act either. The film's climax of the main character fighting the creature is done off-screen and the end credits roll after the second act. Critics called out the director (and his Small Name, Big Ego) on this and called it a ripoff to release a film that was basically unfinished.
  • Cthulhu (2007). As Things Fall Apart and the Fish People stagger out of the ocean, the protagonist is offered a chance by his father to sacrifice his lover and become the immortal leader of the cult. Although we see him raising his stone cudgel angrily, the movie ends before showing us whether he kills his father or his lover.
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). The Earth is hurtling towards the Sun, but a series of massive nuclear detonations in Siberia may avert the catastrophe. The last scene shows the journalists waiting in the print room with two next editions ready for printing, one saying WORLD SAVED and the other WORLD DOOMED. The American version of the film ends with church bells ringing, implying the world had been saved.
  • The Devil Inside infamously did this. The third act is about to start, our protagonists are driving somewhere- SMASH! Car crash. Everyone's dead. A title card appears, reading, "The events of this film have never been fully explained. Visit for more information on the ongoing investigation." The end. To make matters even worse, the site was taken down and now appears to be some sort of phishing page. Sucks if you bought the movie after the theatrical release.
  • Doubt doesn't have a closure. Instead the viewer is left with the question who to believe, Father Flynn or Sister Aloysius? The resolution, as it were, is Aloysius, full of iron-clad conviction throughout the story, finally lets the cracks show in the final line:
    Aloysius: [sobbing] I have doubts!...I have such doubts!
  • The Dreamers: We don't find out how their parents react to their incestuous relationship. The trio wander out into a riot and the film ends with a Bolivian Army Ending as Isabelle and Theo hurl a molotov cocktail at charging police.
  • Extinction (2018): The movie ends with Peter and his family, along with many other Androids, on a train bound for a safe underground hideout from where they hope to strike back against the invading humans, while the invasion is still going on.
  • In Five Easy Pieces, after failing to achieve emotional catharsis with his estranged family, pianist-turned-laborer Robert Dupea is traveling back home with his girlfriend Rayette, whom he doesn't really love. They stop for gas. He impulsively hitches a ride on a logging truck, abandoning her. Then the movie ends.
  • The Fly (1986) had several ending sequences filmed that all answered the questions of what Veronica, having put the creature who once was her lover out of his misery, would do about her potential Fetus Terrible (which she intended to abort) and whether Stathis would be part of her life or not from that moment on. None of them went over well, so the film just ends with her shooting Seth/Brundlefly and bursting into tears. The Fly II picked up the dangling plot threads.
  • Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys ends with Gamera missing an arm and severely wounded from his battle with Irys, preparing to go into battle against thousands of Gyaos.
  • Most of Godfrey Ho's movies immediately end the moment the final bad guy dies.
  • None of the five vignettes in The Great New Wonderful have a definite ending. We also never learn the fate of Charlie Burbage.
  • Halloween (1978): Famously ended with Dr. Loomis looking down to discover that Micheal Myers body has disappeared, implying that he somehow survived being shot six times and his rampage isn't over yet. Though the sequel does pick up immediately afterwards.
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch ends with Tom Atkins' character calling up the local cable company and demanding they stop showing the "commercial" that would turn the Silver Shamrock masks deadly. He is able to get all but one of the stations blocked, and the film ends with him screaming "Stop It!" over and over into the phone. We never find out if the signal is indeed stopped, or the fate of all the kids watching that night.
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour is a story of a Japanese man and his French lover, in which she tells him much of her life story, including her doomed wartime romance with a German soldier. The woman gets upset while telling the man this story and leaves him for a while. Finally, they meet again in her hotel room. The woman, sitting on the bed in her room, tells the man that his name is Hiroshima. The man tells the woman that her name is Nevers (her home town in France, where she met the soldier). The End. No resolution as to whether she will stay in Japan with him or go home.
  • The Hug: Aiden's hand bursts out of Pandory's mouth. Roll credits.
  • The Ides of March ends on a scene designed to resonate with the film's message, but cuts it off right before the protagonist answers a specific question. The scene hints at an Author's Saving Throw to come, but the film as a whole suggests a stick to the status quo.
  • Into the Forest: The film ends with the sisters and their newborn camping in the woods, without a home or a clear idea of how they'll survive. There is no indication of whether the Big Blackout will ever end.
  • In The Italian Job (1969), the films ends with the robbers in a literal Cliffhanger, with their bus hanging halfway over a cliff. Croker then says, "Hang on, lads. I've got a great an idea." Then the film ends before we find out what the idea is, if it works, and if anyone survives, much less gets the gold. This was in deference to the production codes of the time, which still would not allow criminals get happy endings. Rather than show them punished, the film simply lets you imagine what happens. Many theories have been floated around as to exactly how they are supposed to get out of their situation and possible theories as to how the plot would continue.
  • At the end of Jason and the Argonauts Jason has defeated the skeletons and the Argo is about to sail away from Colchis with the Golden Fleece, but even assuming they're not attacked by Thessalian warships they still have to find a way back through the Clashing Rocks, navigate all the way back to Thessaly and kill King Pelias. Zeus says "For Jason there will be other adventures", but they were never filmed. This is probably for the best, because Jason becomes a total Jerkass in the original myth.
  • Ju-Rei: The movie is shown in chapters presented in reverse order, counting down from "Chapter 10" to "Chapter 1" and finally to a "Prologue." The prologue does not show the origin or cause of the curse, or lend any special significance to the chronologically final chapter (the first one shown), or really resolve anything; it just shows an event that had already been mentioned in an earlier (later?) chapter. Again.
  • Kill List: In the last twenty minutes of this Kitchen Sink Drama/thriller hybrid, the film undergoes a radical Genre Shift and becomes a modern Folk Horror. The cult that the movie has been building force the protagonist, Jay, to fight a figure only defined as the Hunchback. After he kills it, it's revealed that the Hunchback was his wife carrying their son on her back. Jay is crowned by the cult (now revealed to be other characters in the movie), and as they applaud and Jay stands over the bodies of his family, the movie ends.
  • Killer/saurus ends with Professor Peterson and Kayleigh abandoning the project and starting to flee the facility. Then the screen cuts to black and the credits roll.
  • John Sayles' Limbo ends with the three main characters on an island, waiting for a plane to come and either rescue them or kill them. Before you find out which, it fades to white. According to John Sayles, ending the movie with either a rescue or a killing wouldn't have felt right.
  • Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Tom decides to dispose of the shotguns that are the only evidence of the crime he and the other protagonists have committed. As he prepares to dump them off a bridge into the Thames, his buddies discover that the weapons are rare antiques, each worth a fortune. The movie ends with Tom hanging over the side of the bridge, poised to drop the guns in the river, and his cell phone clutched between his teeth (put there to avoid it falling into the river while he is hanging over the edge) - and it rings.
  • In Lone Star, Pilar and Sam learn they're half-siblings after falling in love and consummated their relationship; Pilar says, "Forget the Alamo", hinting that they will continue even though they know they're related.
  • Love (2015) ends with Murphy breaking down holding his toddler son in the bathtub, hallucinating that he's holding his ex, Electra. He then says or thinks "I will love you until the end" and immediately afterwards 'THE END' flashes over the screen, followed by the credits. Electra is still missing, possibly dead, Murphy hasn't reconciled with his current girlfriend Omi, and it's not clear what Murphy's declaration of love combined with the ending card means, if anything.
  • In Mean Streets, Michael, having been pushed too far by Johnny Boy, sets up a drive-by ambush as Johnny, Charlie, and Teresa are driving to Brooklyn. The gunfire from Michael's mook causes Charlie to crash the car. Johnny is shot in the neck and Charlie in the hand, but all three exit the car alive. Then the film ends.
  • Meek's Cutoff: The film ends before we find out whether the pioneers found civilization or where the Native American guide was taking them. As a consequence, the film never says whether the Native American is a villain and never presents the westward expansion of the pioneers as a good or bad thing.
  • Melinda and Melinda. The serious story has no ending. The Framing Device ends the film justly:
    Sy: We just got to accept it and enjoy it, because it can end... like that. (Snaps Fingers. Quip to Black. Credits Roll.)
  • At the end of Mom and Dad, Carly, Josh and Damon have the parents tied up for the time being, but have no idea how to proceed from there, and they still have no idea what caused the crisis and when or if the effect will ever wear off, and then the film just ends in mid-sentence.
  • Monos: Very little is left resolved in the end. Did Doctora eventually find refuge somewhere? What did the soldiers do with Rambo? What happened to Bigfoot and Boom-Boom after they dove into the river? Did Lady kill those kids? Did Smurf ever escape his bonds? What's to become of the surviving Monos as a group, now that they have dwindled to so few?
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Just as Arthur and his newly acquired cavalry are about to storm the final castle, they're all arrested in connection with the murder of a historian that occurred earlier on in the picture, in what audiences would have assumed was just a dopey throwaway joke. There were big plans for this scene- including a full-on war between the French and Arthur's army. Unfortunately, at the end of filming, the budget and time just abruptly ran out and they opted for a joke instead in true Python fashion.
  • My Dinner with Andre doesn't really resolve the philosophical disagreement between Wallace and Andre or determine a winner, pretty much ending because both men had finished dinner and it was time to go their separate ways.
  • In Nine Days of One Year, Gusev, a nuclear research scientist, is dying from radiation poisoning. He is in the hospital, where he's about to undergo an experimental bone marrow donation that may save his life. His wife and best friend are in a waiting room outside. Gusev has a nurse carry a note to his wife and friend, in which Gusev suggests that if his friend can find him some pants, they can all go out to dinner. The End.
  • No Man's Land. One of the characters falls on a live landmine. The rest of the film revolves around how the warring parties of the Yugoslavian Civil War and the United Nations peacekeepers interact during the incident. At the end of the film, both warring factions retreat and the UN troops from Germany and France also pull out, unable to defuse the mine. The unlucky soldier is left in place, still alive and laying on the landmine at the end of the film.
  • Loriot's Pappa ante portas has been mistaken for this by some. The characters meet their extended family, then Heinrich and Renate are briefly seen playing their recorders for their son and cleaning lady. The intended conclusion is that the two have realized they're not the hopeless case they thought they are, their relatives being even worse, but this is not made explicit.
  • The Quiet Earth. Zac Hobson finds himself... somewhere. There's no explanation given, and there's no resolution to anything, just Scenery Porn.
  • A Quiet Place: The family learns the monsters' weakness and kills one of them, but two more are on the way. The mother and daughter prepare for them. Cut to black.
  • The 1994 Dolph Lundgren sports drama/action thriller Pentathlon stops at his character Erik finally killing his evil former coach Hutch after almost getting shot by him as he finishes first in a footrace. No show of the consequences, just roll credits.
  • Robot World ends with the astronaut seeing aircrafts coming in the distance... and then the screen goes black and the credits roll.
  • In the drama film Safe (1995), the main character develops the mysterious multiple chemical sensitivity disorder and goes through treatment in the second half of the film. The film ends with her having fully embraced the treatment center and being around people who accept her, but it's completely left open whether she is recovering at all or only getting worse.
  • Scarred: The final shot of the movie settles on Marley having all the fish hooks pierced into her face being pulled, causing her to scream as they're ripped from her flesh. Smash Cut to black, followed by a creepy line from Tiny. Then roll credits.
  • A Serious Man ends right after implicating that Larry Gopnik is very ill, with his son Danny staring at a tornado. The film has many subplots, which remain unresolved. It's another climax to all the rest of his suffering through the rest of the film.
  • She Dies Tomorrow: We never find out why a growing number of people believe that they'll die tomorrow. In the morning of the day, a wide range of people await their perceived imminent demise, but the film ends before anything happens or is revealed.
  • Skyline, as part of an obvious Sequel Hook, but since the movie bombed, it's probably not happening.
  • In The Street Fighter with Sonny Chiba, the Anti-Hero defeats the final villain, stumbles to his feet on the brink of death, lurches off balance, and then the film freezes frame, with no indication whether he lives or dies. Subsequent sequels, however, clear that question up.
  • Sleepaway Camp. After the big twist that Angela was really a boy the whole movie...the movie just kinda stops and the credits just roll. One of the sequels ends the same way.
  • The Sword of Doom, a remarkably grim and nihilistic samurai movie, has the (anti)hero cornered, fighting, probably doomed — and then the film ends in mid-slash on a freeze frame. The reason for this: a sequel was intended but never filmed. (But given the general aura of nihilism in the film, this no-ending actually works better than one more definitive.)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley, though the existence of sequels implies that he got away with it.
  • The Thing (1982) ends with the two surviving heroes still stranded in Antarctica, unsure of whether the other is actually an alien.
  • The finale of They Might Be Giants features the hero, who's convinced he is Sherlock Holmes, and his love interest, who just happens to be named Mildred Watson. After escaping from a mental hospital and a climatic fight in a grocery store, the two end up waiting by a tunnel in Central Park at midnight for the infamous (and supposedly fictitious) Moriarty to emerge. There are hoofbeats, then Fade to Black. That's it.
  • Two-Lane Blacktop centers around a cross-country road race from the Southwest to Washington D.C., but the movie ends with one driver entering a competition at a speedway in Tennessee while the other takes to the road again. The film stock appears to burn up and the fates of both races and all the characters are left unresolved.
  • The Warped Ones. Akira is a street thug who raped and impregnated Fumiko. Yuki is a bar prostitute who had sex with Fumiko's boyfriend Kashiwaga and also got impregnated. Akira takes Yuki to the hospital to get an abortion. There they meet Kashiwaga and Fumiko. Akira pushes Yuki at Kashiwaga, grabs Fumiko, and says they should switch girls, since Fumiko's carrying his baby while Yuki is carrying Kashiwaga's. Akira and Yuki mock Kashiwaga, laughing maniacally. Cue Freeze Frame ending.
  • Westworld ends with the deaths of virtually everyone except the protagonist, but it still lacks a proper ending inasmuch as the main character has collapsed in a seeming breakdown, and it is uncertain whether he can find his way out of the theme park alive.
  • Wings: Nadya, missing her Glory Days as a World War II fighter pilot, is given to visiting the airfield and chatting up the pilots. When one pilot has to go back to the hangar, Nadya climbs up into his plane on a whim. The pilots, who all know her, start pushing the plane around the field. Nadya gets an odd look on her face. To everyone's surprise, she starts the engine and takes off. There's another POV shot from a plane soaring through the air. конец.
  • A Woman Under the Influence is about Mabel the housewife's Sanity Slippage that eventually leads to her being committed to an asylum. She comes home, but her mean, constantly shouting husband Nick winds up provoking a relapse within hours after her return. After an ugly scene that involves Nick hitting Mabel and Mabel cutting her hand, they both calm down. He bandages the cut on her hand and they go to bed. Roll credits.
  • Yakuza Apocalypse: At the end, Kageyama and Kyoko look up and see a mountain-sized version of Kaeru-kun over the town. Kageyama transforms into a human-bat monster and flies upward, presumably to engage it in combat... roll credits.

  • The Jewels of Nabooti of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, took this to its Logical Extreme: there were a series of choices that made an infinite loop.
  • The Cretan Chronicles trilogy, after going through three excruciatingly difficult adventures, ends with the player's hero, Altheus, reaching a Downer Ending where his homeland is destroyed. The story then states that Altheus' daughter with Ariadnne, hundreds of miles away, is prepping to go on a quest to seek her father, and the adventure ends at that point.
  • Sometimes appears in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series. An extreme example of this is one decision in Night in Werewolf Woods. You could hit a button labeled "Stop" which literally ends the story then and there.

  • 2666: All of the chapters ended abruptly with no resolution.
  • In Animorphs, Rachel takes the secret of David's fate — whether she killed him or returned him to the island — at book 48's end to her grave.
    • Also, the entire series ends on a cliffhanger, albeit a kind of tacked-on one.
    • Additionally, in another book, Jake wakes up as an adult in a Yeerk-controlled future. In the end, it turns out to be All Just a Dream some unknown beings (presumably aliens) put him through in order to study humans. However, it's never revealed what choice he made at the end of the dream (to either save Cassie or save the world; all we know is that the aliens remark on it being an "interesting choice") and it's also never explained who or what the aliens were.
  • Daphne du Maurier's short story "The Birds", the basis for the Hitchcock film, ends abruptly with no suggestion as to how the plot might proceed from there, as the protagonist throws the pack of cigarettes he's just finished into the fireplace and watches it burn.
  • Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book: A bitter arms race culminates with the leaders of the butter-side-up and butter-side-down armies both about to employ a weapon of mass destruction, while a child who's been following the conflict watches the tense standoff. It was nearly the victim of Executive Meddling, as Geisel was pressured to change the ending to a happy one by his publishers. It is appropriate to the story as a parable about the Cold War, since it, quite thankfully, ended without a definitive resolution.
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon ends just as Oedipa makes any real headway in solving the mystery.
  • Bret Easton Ellis
    • The novel American Psycho ends with the words "This is not an exit" (on a sign that the protagonist reads).
    • The Rules of Attraction ends as it began - in mid-sentenote 
  • Everworld also ends on a cliffhanger — Loki has freed Odin from his trap and they, combined with Merlin and the Old Worlders, freed Thor and Baldur from Hel. They have plans to unite all the gods against Ka Anor. Smash Cut to a news story about the five teens having disappeared.
  • The Handmaid's Tale ends with Offred fleeing Gilead with the help of La Résistance, but the reader never finds out whether or not she survives. The epilogue is set many years after Gilead has collapsed, with the main story revealed to be a record she left on audio tape. It notes that (in-universe) historians consider "the Handmaid's Tale" to be a valuable resource, but don't know much more about her than we do.
  • The Illuminatus! Trilogy ends with the main characters, menaced by a giant undersea monster, deciding to retire from the bridge of their submarine and discuss the literary symbolism of said sea creature. The story then switches perspective to an obscure character who has only been mentioned a handful of times in the entire series, who proceeds to die in an earthquake. The End.
  • Infinite Jest: The novel goes on for over one thousand pages and practically all the main plot points are unresolved at the end. On the other hand, we see one of the main characters after the main events in the first chapter, so...
  • Stephen King:
    • The novella The Mist "ends" on a very ambiguous note, with the surviving protagonists driving off to... Hartford. The King-approved movie version has a very definitive, very Cruel Twist Ending. Watch at your own risk.note 
    • King's also used this kind of ending in several of his works, but the ones that pop to mind immediately are "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" from Different Seasons (which the movie gave a definite ending to) and Pet Sematary.
    • Cell also lacks any definite resolution, ending with Clay dialing 911 on the cell phone he has, then holding it up to his semi-phoner son's ear.
    • This was a very common complaint about the third book in The Dark Tower. It ended just as the riddle contest was beginning, and fans had to wait a very long time to see it resumed.
  • Frank Richard Stockton's short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is possibly the earliest use of this trope. Instead of revealing whether the princess has chosen to send her lover to another woman or to death by tiger, the narrator declares himself unable to answer the question and leaves it to the reader to decide. The contemporary audience was so playfully insistent on getting the official answer out of Stockton that they once tried to trick him into choosing between platters of food shaped like a lady and a tiger. (He politely refused.)
    • He later did a sequel, "The Discourager of Hesitancy." It's essentially the same story with a slightly different twist; instead of two doors that give no clues, there are two women who give different indicators (one smiles, the other frowns). At the end, the narrator of the story tells his guests that if they can decide which woman was the correct one, he will tell them whether the lady or the tiger came through the door. Cue groans and sighs of resignation from the reader.
  • Marianne de Pierres' Parrish Plessis series ends suddenly and abruptly when the titular character commits suicide rather than succumb to The Corruption. Since Parrish is a first-person narrator, we don't find out the resolution to any of the plot threads that she doesn't. If she never sees a character again, then neither do we, no matter how important that character was.
  • The Princess Bride ends this way (with explicit reference to "The Lady or the Tiger"), with William Goldman as "the editor" giving his own opinions on how the story ends, continuing to screw with the audience because he wrote the friggin' story himself.
    • Many years later, he did an updated version which says what happened (basically, Westley's crew ambushes Humperdinck's men, the heroes manage to reach his ship and escape, and a "blood clogger" saves Inigo's life). But then he adds some future snippets, specifically after Westley and Buttercup's child is born. To make a long story short, a bitter rival of Westley's kidnaps the baby, Fezzik confronts him, and the rival tosses the hapless girl off a cliff. Fezzik leaps after her...aaaand, that's it. Not a word since.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. The final book is called The End, but it is anything but. While the plot is resolved at its absolute-most-basic, i.e. the fate of the Baudelaires and Count Olaf and who Beatrice was, the numerous questions and plot threads accumulated over the course of the series are pointedly dropped as part of an unconventional "you can never have all the answers" Aesop. The story also ends with the Baudelaires sailing away from the island with Kit Snicket's daughter. Understandably, many readers were frustrated.
  • Finnegans Wake by James Joyce deconstructs all aspects of novel and language, and also lacks an ending. The book opens mid-sentence and ends by beginning that first sentence: "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. ......... A way a lone a last a loved a long the"
  • Paul Auster's City of Glass also ends abruptly, because the narrative is a reconstruction of events based on Daniel Quinn's notebook, and ends when he runs out of room to write. A short epilogue states that Quinn was never found, and lays a lot of the blame on Auster. It's that kind of book.
  • Stuart Little ends with zero resolution; Stuart simply affirms his determination to find his friend, roll proverbial credits. Apparently author E.B. White was concerned about his health, and decided to end the book at the best place he could find rather than keep going with it and risk leaving it unfinished at an even less satisfying point. However, even after he recovered and lived another 40 years, he never went back to finish the book.
  • Pretty much anything written by Neal Stephenson is liable to end with the suddenness of a deliverator ploughing into a brick wall. Snow Crash and The Baroque Cycle both manage to pull this off well, ending in an emotionally satisfying way while still leaving many plot points unresolved. Done not so well in The Diamond Age, which could probably have used another hundred pages or so to treat more fully with all of the characters. Cryptonomicon does have a suitably epic ending, it's just that by that point, the POV character has lost interest, resulting in a highly condensed treatment of the book's Grand Finale, boiling a month's worth of events into five pages of text.
    • Taken to the other extreme in REAMDE (Stephenson's caps), where the culminating chase after the big bad goes on for 300 pages. The thing is though, by the time this happens, the initial premise that gives the book its name (an ingenious scam using an MMORPG video game as its vehicle) has been abandoned by the author and we never get know how it ends. A bit of a twist on Artifact Title.

  • The Star Trek novel I, Q is written by John de Lancie and Peter David, from Q's first-person point of view as he, Picard and Data try to save his family, Lady Q and q, and stop the universe from ending. They progress through several bizarre realms and realize that each is a representation of the universe itself going through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. In the end, they accomplish basically nothing and stare down the actual vortex sucking the universe, literally, down the drain. Q, at this point, desperate for options and knowing that absolutely none exist, manifests a literal message-in-a-bottle in his hands, containing a copy of the book, declares that he is Loki himself and that the universe isn't allowed to end until he says so before throwing the bottle in. The book cuts off mid-sentence, and the following pages are absolutely blank until, finally, the word "heh" starts appearing in the middle of each page. Normal text soon resumes; the bottle washes up on a beach where a young woman, shown in the novel's beginning to be the being responsible for the end, remembers briefly meeting Q by chance while reading it. The fact that Q, of all people, has learned even before the end of the universe to value life and living, is enough to convince her that the universe should continue, and she undoes the end.

  • The ending of Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings trilogy resolves very few, if any, of the many outstanding plot threads. They're tied up a little better in the following Tawny Man trilogy.
  • The Red Pony seems to come to an abrupt stop, at least to tenth grade English students. Jody feels sorry for his grandfather and offers to make him some lemonade.
  • One of the oldest examples ever is a thousand years old, Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji which doesn't so much end as quietly fade out, as the author Died During Production.
  • Piers Anthony's Mute was supposed to be the beginning of a series. Instead, it ends with a Grand Canyon sized cliffhanger, and the author has said that he will not be revisiting that universe.
  • The Michael Crichton novel The 13th Warrior ends ibn Fadlan's account with "Now it happened that" and suddenly cuts off. Footnotes explain that the rest of the account was never found. Since the main narrative (Beowulf in the 10th century) had already concluded at that point, not many readers complained.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy didn't really end as such, it just ground to an abrupt halt in the middle of the action. Fortunately, Adams got much better at writing endings for the later books. The story goes that when writing that book Adams, who had a legendary ability to miss deadlines, was sufficiently late that the publisher just told him "look, finish up the page you're on and we'll send someone to get it in an hour."
    • In-universe, Arthur reads a Bartledanian novel wherein the main character dies of thirst in the penultimate chapter because of a plumbing issue briefly mentioned in chapter two. The rest of the book talks about road mending until it ends at precisely one hundred thousand words, which is how long novels are on Bartledan.
  • Robert Silverberg's Up the Line ends with the hero hiding from the Time Service in an obscure era where with any luck they'll never find him. He knows however that his respite is only temporary, since instead of killing him directly they can cause him to never have existed in the first place, and even as he speculates this, his narration — just as he predicted — is cut off short in mid-sentence.
  • Rachel Preston's Tent Of Blue. While also it leaves you hanging, many questions that are aroused in the reader's mind towards the end are never answered at the end. How did Yvonne get her son, Anton, out of the mental asylum without Harold's consent? Never mentioned. Not once.
  • C. S. Forester's last Horatio Hornblower novel was left without ending, as the author Died During Production.
  • The Canterbury Tales has no ending, and critics have argued about whether or not it is actually unfinished, or if it was due to the author's death.
  • Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ends with a note saying that when you're writing about adults, you can end it with a Happily Ever After or something like that, but when you're writing about kids, you just need to find a good stopping place. It didn't stop him from writing sequels, however, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock ended without a resolutionnote . It later received one, in the form of the previously unpublished final chapter, which sees the missing women ending up in Mind Screw land (time warp, Limbo, Dreamtime, you guess), and basically replaces a No Ending with a Gainax Ending.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket ends in the middle of things, allegedly because Pym died before he could recount the end of his tale.
  • Several unfinished stories of H. P. Lovecraft's, such as "Azathoth", have been mass published.
  • One of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections features the urban legend of the medical students who pull the prank on one of their peers by cutting a hand from a cadaver and tying it to the pull string of the light in her room. The ending was apparently deemed inappropriate for children, so the story ends with the prankster returning and discovering the girl sitting on the floor of her closet and muttering to herself, apparently driven mad. The narration: "The joke had worked. But no one was laughing." End of text. For the curious, the usual ending to this story is that the students break into her room and discover she has been driven mad and started to eat the arm.
  • Starship Troopers ends with Rico successfully completing his second crack at Officer Candidate School and taking command of the Roughnecks. What happens from there, including the outcome of the war, isn't shown, mostly due to it being more of a Coming of Age story if anything.
  • Special Topics In Calamity Physics plays with this: the book ends with a "multiple choice exam", the answers to which suggest a few ways to tie up the loose ends.
  • In The Remembering, Steve Cash's third book of The Meq trilogy, most of the characters "cross over" and finally start to age after centuries of immortality in childlike bodies. The previously immortal characters grow up and start having kids. However, questions that remained unanswered throughout the entire series are never explained or resolved, such as the mystery of what the Meq are, where they came from, why they were semi-immortal and possessed strange powers, what their purpose is on Earth in relation to humans, etc. The third book keeps hinting at the resolution of all these questions right up to the end, but they are never answered and by then the characters don't even seem too curious anymore about their origins.
  • The poem Humpty Dumpty recites to Alice in Through the Looking-Glass ends abruptly in mid-sentence.
  • The Brothers Grimm story "The Golden Key," which is basically one long paragraph, tells a story of a boy who discovers a key in the snow, then discovers a locked wooden box. The boy imagines what wondrous things might be inside the box. He searches the box for a keyhole, finally finds it, and inserts the key... but the reader will have to wait for him to turn the key before finding out what's in the box. End. What's more, it's generally put at the very end of the brothers' collection; many scholars think that this was a purposeful choice, indicating that folklore itself always leaves something more to discover.
  • One of Orson Scott Card's earliest novels, Hart's Hope, is entirely epistolary, explaining the adventures of main character Orem and his efforts to defeat the Big Bad. However, by doing so, Orem temporarily usurped the rightful king, and the novel is to that king from his wife, begging him (the king) not to execute Orem for treason. The final lines are her asking him what he decided.
  • David Lodge's novel Changing Places has a deeply lamp-shaded No Ending in which the characters (two of whom are professors of literature so it makes sense) discuss the idea of endings and point out that a film can suddenly end with no warning while a book can't, since the reader can see how many pages remain.
  • Zadie Smith's White Teeth ends with the author proposing several endings that various demographics might find appealing, but without endorsing any of them. Why yes, it's postmodern.
  • Jorge Luis Borges short story "Averroe's Search" ends with all the characters and his surroundings suddenly disappearing, except maybe the Guadalquivir River. For very Postmodern reasons.
  • Clive Barker's Weaveworld begins with an assertion that it has no ending, but once it finally gets there, the conclusion is actually a case of And the Adventure Continues. The Weaveworld itself is a wonderland for grownups, after all.
  • Nadine Gordimer's works often end this way. The Late Bourgeois World has the main character still considering her dilemma. July's People, in which the apartheid government collapses amid violence, switches from past tense to present for the short last chapter, in which the main female protagonist is running towards a helicopter that contains either "saviors or murderers".
  • The Grapes of Wrath doesn't end so much as run out of pages, with Rose of Sharon breastfeeding a sick man, some of the Joads gone from the group or dead, and the rest just weathering the storm.
  • Ouida Sebestyen's The Girl in the Box is a story of a girl who is abducted and left in a dark cellar, with only a typewriter to entertain her, and regular rations of stale food and water to keep her alive. The book ends with the girl still in the box, and her ultimate fate is never revealed.
  • Occurs in-universe The Fault in Our Stars. The main characters’ favorite book ends mid-sentence, leaving several plot lines unresolved, and one subplot of the novel deals with the characters trying to find out from the author what happened to the characters.
  • The first and currently only CLAMP's Yumegari ends up with Tatsumi falling victim to her Dream Weaver job, and her partner Kyousuke deciding to go save her from it.
  • Mary Brown's Master of Many Treasures ends with the heroine being very badly injured. A Distant Epilogue describes two stories told about the aftermath, one where she dies and one where she recovers and lives a long life with the hero. A sequel set many years later, Dragonne's Eg, deliberately does not clarify the outcome.
  • Samuel R. Delany:
    • Dhalgren ends in the middle of a sentence. It starts in the middle of a sentence as well, and grafting the two together Ouroboros-fashion results in a sentence that makes sense grammatically. How much sense it makes in any other way is considerably more ambiguous.
    • Nova, which is loosely based on the search for the Holy Grail, tells us how many writers have died before finishing tales of the Grail, and then deliberately omits the very last word of the book.
  • Robert Musil's epic novel The Man Without Qualities. Musil couldn't figure out how to conclude the final volume.
  • Alex Scarrow's Timeriders series ended with half the main characters in the middle of trying to save the human race, and other half deciding whether to join them. The author encourages the reader to come up with their own ending.
  • Nutshell ends with the woman giving birth to her unborn child while she and her lover are in the middle of packing their bags to flee from the police.
  • North To Benjamin ends with Edgar, Caroline, and Victoria looking out over the Yukon River after laying Benjamin's body to rest in the Paddle Wheel Cemetery.
  • The Neverending Story purposefully leaves almost all subplots — such as what happened to the four messengers, Cairon's fate after meeting Atreyu, the adventures of Hero Hyrneck, what became of Ghemmal and of Sikanda — hanging. Hence the title. However, Bastian's main plot is resolved.
  • Lampshaded to make a point in Verge: Stories' "The Pull". The story stops before we learn the fate of the characters because, ultimately, their survival should not be reassuring when countless others like them are still in peril.
    This story has no ending.
    We put children into the ocean.
  • Smilla's Sense of Snow/Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow ends with the eponymous narrator chasing the villainous Tørk Hviid across the Greenlandic snow, hoping to head him off and initiate a Final Battle. We never get to see it, though, or learn its outcome; we're also left hanging on the future of the romantic subplot and the true nature of the MacGuffin. As Smilla ends the book by pointing out, life seldom observes neat story lines.
  • War and Peace ends right as political unrest is beginning to swell in 1820, and one of the deceased main characters' sons has an ominous dream about taking part in a revolution. It's implied that this revolution divides all the main characters into two camps who will have to fight each other.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bunk'd: "Game of Totems" ends with Emma getting sprayed right in the mouth by a skunk offscreen with no resolution how she got rid of the smell out of her mouth.
  • Drake & Josh: Played with in nearly every episode. There can be no resolution, bad finale or a cliffhanger in some sorts.
  • Everybody Hates Chris paid homage to The Sopranos in its last episode, except with Bon Jovi taking the place of Journey.
  • Farscape had been axed by whichever money-people were in charge. The fans knew this, naturally. Imagine their horror when, at the end of the last episode of the series, which, while it hadn't tied up some of the really big Story Arcs of the show, had at least come to a fairly satisfactory finishing point, showed us the hero and his utterly badass love interest are sharing a passionate kiss in a boat after he'd proposed to her; when a random, unexplained alien starfighter comes tearing out of the sky and shoots them. They shatter into a multitude of tiny plasticy cubes as the words "TO BE CONTINUED..." appear on screen. Fan outcry was enough to convince the studio to greenlight a two-hour Wrap It Up miniseries which, while it had to drop some storylines was at least able to give the fans some degree of closure on the main characters and major arcs.
    • There was also a Post-Script Season in the form of a comic series, which further answered questions and expanded the universe. Given everything was planned and written by the actual series writers, it was well-received by fans.
  • iCarly: Used a couple of times.
    • One being the end of "iBelieve In Bigfoot" where the gang and some other guys are left stranded when their RV gets stolen... by the said Bigfoot they were trying to find.
    • The end of "iThink They Kissed". The trio have been tied up by escaped convicts, and Carly ends up asking if they liked the kiss. Freddie and Sam look at each other for a bit, then Spencer busts in with his banjo, plays a few chords and the episode ends without Carly knowing if they did.
  • Mystery Hunters has had episodes where the mysteries discussed end up still being unresolved.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • The episode "Doubt," which was Ripped from the Headlines of the Kobe Bryant rape case, ended with a fadeout before the jury's verdict. On the first airing, viewers were invited to vote on the outcome, but the show has not revisited the subject. (For the record, the poll results showed 20% believed it was rape, 60% believed it was consensual, and 20% felt more information was needed.)
    • Another from the season eleven episode "Savior." A young prostitute goes into premature labor and her baby is put on life support. The mother then runs away, giving power of attorney to Olivia, effectively giving Olivia the choice of whether the baby lives or dies. The episode ends with the baby needing immediate brain surgery and the doctors hammering Olivia for a decision that she never gives. Neither the mother nor the baby are ever mentioned again.
    • In "Infiltrated", a side plot deals with a rape case that it looks like the victim is going to lose because Olivia, the arresting officer, is busy working on an undercover investigation for the FBI. Once Olivia finds out about the trial and makes it to the courtroom ready to testify, the episode ends with no conclusion to how the trial turned out.
    • In "Info Wars", a conservative speaker is beaten and raped at a campus rally after an angry mob chases her off the stage, and the detectives narrow it down to two suspects on opposite sides of the political spectrum; an Antifa member who was carrying the sign she was sexually assaulted with and whose DNA was under her fingernails, and a Neo-Nazi who she rejected the night before. Barba dismisses the indictment against the Antifa member due to the jurors' political biases making a fair trial impossible, and the episode ends without anyone knowing for sure which one really did it.
  • Another Law & Order example, this time from the original: "Vaya Con Dios," the tenth-season finale, focuses on the prosecution of a Chilean national which for a number of reasons escalates until McCoy is arguing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The episode ends with a court clerk approaching the characters, presumably with a ruling in hand, leaving the matter unresolved. note 
  • The Lodge ended abruptly after two seasons, with the second ending with the titular hotel on fire with no resolution afterward.
  • A MacGyver episode featured Mac unveiling a massive Neo-Nazi conspiracy to infiltrate the government and institutions of five West Coast states to create the "New Aryan Nation". The episode ends with Mac looking at the map featuring the many infiltrated institutions all across the region and the issue is never mentioned again.
  • In NYPD Blue the series ended with a No Ending: rather than some sort of redemption storyline wrap-up or some kind of resolution for all the characters, it was just one more day of solving crimes. The final episode ended with Sipowicz alone in his office, not because everyone had abandoned him, but because he was still working. The creator did this deliberately to show that no matter how far you grow as a person, there's always tomorrow, and today is just another day. About the only probable conclusion it has is Sipowicz serving as a better boss than what would have been his hardass replacement.
  • Princess Agents infamously ends with a cliff-hanger.
  • Sam & Cat ended abruptly after its 36th episode due to Executive Meddling and the stars wanting to move on from the show. This meant that unless it's resolved with a Reunion Show, Cat went to jail for assaulting a hair model and her grandmother doesn't know because of Sam lying about Cat's whereabouts for two weeks to get free food and someone doing her chores. For all anyone knows, Cat will be in jail indefinitely. Also, Dice has nobody to take him home since his mom is still sick, his babysitter (Cat) is in jail, Sam apparently has taken a level in jerkass and doesn't care about her friends anymore and where the hell did Goomer (who usually picked him up and drove him around for the rest of the series) go anyway? So, in short, it ends with Cat in jail, Sam being totally Out of Character, Dice (a 12- to 13-year-old kid, may we remind you) stuck alone in a city around 400 miles away from his home and Goomer completely missing. The episode that aired before that one would have been a better ending, as in, at least it resolves all plotlines from the episode, unlike this one.
  • The Sopranos infamously ended with a simple Smash to Black mid-scene, which was met with extreme backlash at the time. A common defense is that the whole point is that whatever happens, it no longer matters: Tony is either literally dead from a hitman, or figuratively dead from the wreck of his life, and both are equally awful hells for him to encounter.
  • Veronica Mars:
    • It never reveals what happens to Grace Manning.
    • Also the show itself because it was cancelled. It ends with Veronica standing in the rain after her father has been arrested covering for her. It did up end getting a continuation in a Veronica Mars movie, and a much later new series of the show, though.
  • Victorious does it a lot. "Rex Dies" ends with Cat being kept in the mental ward at the hospital. Cat still is in the next episodes, and it's never mentioned again. "Wifi In The Sky" uses it as well. The last episode to air ends with Cat and Robbie sitting in a trashcan in their underwear and Tori, Jade and Trina being chased by giant mice...
  • Both Without a Trace and The Practice have had "Death Row" episodes, which employed this trope.
    • In the Without a Trace episode, "Two Families", the protagonists were fighting to save the life of someone on death row with new-found evidence (somehow missed in the previous 10 years). The characters spend time talking about the morality of Death Row, while doing their best to uncover what really happened. They find evidence that exonerates the character, and now must race against the clock to work the legal system. Show ends with the clock saying 11:57, and a closeup on a non-ringing phone. Cut to credits.
    • Without a Trace did this again with their Missing White Woman Syndrome episode, “White Balance." The team investigates the unrelated disappearances of two teenagers, a white female and an African-American male. They are both found: "One alive, one dead." Roll credits.
  • The X-Files:
  • Extracurricular: The whole series is left dangling. Ki-tae catches Ji-soo in his apartment, and stabs him in the gut a few times before Gyu-ri shows up and knocks Ki-tae unconscious. A gut-stabbed Ji-soo makes it to the stairwell, leaving a trail of blood, where Gyu-ri finds him. When Detective Lee makes it to the apartment complex, all three—Ki-tae, Gyu-ri, and Ji-soo—are gone. With that, the show ends. The fourth main character, Min-hee, has been whisked to the hospital after taking a Staircase Tumble, but the series doesn't reveal her fate either.
  • The Prisoner (1967) ended the series with Number 6 getting home, flash of lightning, wait... it's the opening credits!
  • In Boston Legal plenty of loose threads are unresolved, such as whether the experimental medicine Denny now had would even work on his Alzheimer's, or whether Alan would get fired from Chang, Poole, and Schmidt, or whether, indeed, the litigations department would even survive.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of the British Comedy TV Series Mr Don & Mr George in which the titular characters comment on how neatly all the plot elements of the episode were wrapped up, which is immediately followed by an montage of all the other characters asking 'what about...?' with references to the many plot holes.
  • The original gravedigger episode of Bones ends with the characters being re-united with their friends. Who the gravedigger is and whether he was ever caught is not addressed. This was eventually followed up, but not for another two seasons, making it seem like a classic No Ending for quite some time.
  • Parodied and played straight on M*A*S*H (in the same scene, even): The entire camp shares a murder mystery chapter by chapter. Once they reach the ending, the murderer is revealed to be— nothing, the last page is missing. They go so far as to hunt down and contact the author at her home across the globe to get the answer, with some difficulty (she's so old she has trouble even remembering which novel it is). Then, the kicker: later on Colonel Potter notices and announces that her answer couldn't possibly have been the murderer due to several in-story scenes that contradict that. The episode then ends with Hawkeye humorously declaring himself to be the murderer so that the M*A*S*H unit crew wouldn't think they did all that reading for nothing.
  • Hancock's Half Hour used a similar plot over a decade earlier. Hancock becomes obsessed with a murder mystery where the final page is torn out of the book. He tries tracking down the author at home only to find that he's been dead for several years, he can't find another copy of the book, and every attempt to solve the mystery on his own ends up failing. Eventually he hits upon the idea of looking up the British Library's file copy...whereupon he learns that the author died before finishing the book, so it was published with no ending.
  • A number of the Doctor Who Unbound audio series end this way:
    • "Full Fathom Five" ends with the Doctor's companion standing over the Doctor, preparing to shoot him if he regenerates. Since there's no way out, the ending would be pretty obvious, except that this is more or less exactly the sort of situation the Doctor gets out of at least once a serial — and the TV series has since shown one way a Time Lord could laugh off that particular threat.
    • "Exile" ends with the Doctor under house arrest in the TARDIS, having been told that she'll die if she tries to dematerialize. Then she finds a note from the Time Lords, saying that, off the record, she'll be fine and they'll turn a blind eye on her "escape." But just as she's taking off, it occurs to her, and the audience, that they might have lied to get her out of the way. And then the audio ends. Just like that.
  • The Department Store episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus ended with one character in the "End Of Show Department", trying out different endings. The salesman demos several endings, such as the "walking into the sunset" ending, before finally suggesting "what about the sudden ending?" Cut to black.
    • Monty Python was notorious for not ending their sketches or shows. Most of the time, the characters would simply walk off, or the Colonel character would show up and disrupt things, or the sketch would be invaded by another sketch, or things would simply trail off inconclusively as the characters just sort of
    • Lampshaded in the Abuse/Cannibalism sketch:
    Wife (Eric Idle): Oh I don't like that. I think it's silly. It's not a proper sketch without a proper punchline. I mean I don't know much about anything, I'm stupid. I'm muggins. Nobody cares what I think. I'm always the one that has to do everything. Nobody cares about me. Well I'm going to have a lot of bloody babies and they can bloody well care about me. Makes you sick half this television. They never stop talking, he'll be the ruination of her, rhythm method!
  • Spike Milligan's sketch shows often did the same thing. Often the characters would just pause in mid-action and then all sidle offstage chanting "What are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do now?"
  • Rather than ending with the hospital closing and everyone moving away/getting new jobs/getting married, ER simply ended much in the way it began. A hectic day at work, first day on the job for a new doctor, and a mass trauma coming in and everyone rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.
  • Sanctuary has a season two episode in which Magnus and Will crashed the helicopter down a borehole, and when not fighting the monster of the week, exhausted every possible method of escape and communication. At the end, the camera zooms away, with Will saying "Seriously, how are we going to get out of here?" The next episode implies they got out, but the event is not explained or even mentioned.
  • The Bridge (US) had an episode where two cops get in serious trouble when they disregard protocol in order to save an injured boy. They are supposed to wait for the ambulances but in that neighbourhood ambulances can take hours to arrive so they take the boy to the hospital themselves. They are suspended, get sued and become a bargaining chip in the politics between the police department, city hall and the police union. At the end Frank Leo (the protagonist head of the union) saves them and they are in the clear. However, the episode ends with them back in the same apartment with the boy's mother ODing and the cops asking Frank what they should do
  • A few episodes of Are You Being Served? have ended this way. One in particular is "The Hold-Up". A couple of burglars have broken into the store and taken Miss Brahms prisoner. Cpt. Peacock and Mr. Spooner pretend to be policemen to rescue her, but are taken prisoner themselves, and Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Humphries, and Mr. Harman pretend to be gangsters to trick the burglars. At the end of the episode, Mr. Rumbold shows up with some policemen, pretends he doesn't recognize Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Harman, and they are arrested. Then the burglars show up, and act threateningly towards Mr. Rumbold, and the episode ends there.
  • Brazil has an unusual version of it for its imported Tokusatsu shows. It's not that the shows themselves weren't finished; however, the company that was showing them had a 'no ending' rule set up, so that the final episode would never be shown, in order to keep the fans wanting to find out what happened. Sometimes the companies just didn't had the final episode because they ordered the tapes up to a certain quantity of episodes, so if the series had 41 episodes, they would get 40 and the last one would get stuck there.
    • The same thing happens in the Philippines with a similar manner- that's how Hikari Sentai Maskman, Kamen Rider BLACK, Kousoku Sentai Turboranger and Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman ended without getting to the finale- at the specific point in the show and then restarting the show again from episode one (And in the case of BLACK and Fiveman, They were near the end, only to start again). Lather, rinse and repeat, until the show gets replaced with another show. Thankfully fansubs are there so those who watched them in the childhood will see the end, but it will not be in Tagalog (nor have the Dub Name Change on them), and are only in English.
  • Kamen Rider Decade ends on a cliffhanger because Executive Meddling cut it short by about 17 episodes. The movie All Riders vs. Dai-shocker finishes part of the plot and establishes a less abrupt open end for the rest. It is stated there is no endinmg indeed for the protagonists, since the story will go on, even when Tsukasa/Decade and Kaito/Diend get to Kamen Rider Zi-O.
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One had the bad luck of starting shortly prior to the pandemic of 2020. So after rewrites and general uncertainty destroyed most of the plot's coherence, it was also cut short by five episodes with only the immediate conflict resolved. The main plot, the subplots, the consequences of everything - nothing was cleared up. The movie sequels pick up the pieces to some extent.
  • Moesha never revealed whose positive pregnancy test was found in the trash at Moesha's dorm, nor did it reveal what happened to Myles after he was kidnapped by a rival gang that was after Dorian.
  • The Wayans Bros. had one of these as well.
  • The final episode of Benson cuts off just before the results of the climactic governor's election are announced. The makers had actually shot three different endings: one where Benson wins, one where Gatling wins, and one where the third candidate wins. However, test audiences didn't like any of them, so the show ends before the result is announced.
  • An episode of Dad's Army begins with Pike getting his head stuck in a gate...and ends with his head still stuck in the gate.
  • The episode "The Deadliest Man Alive" of Walker, Texas Ranger falls under this category in the greatest manner possible. Walker has just sent an international assassin nicknamed "The Viper" tumbling out of a stadium, keeping him from trying to kill the president attending a football game in Dallas. Walker is about to question his involvement in the J.F.K. assassination, but the Viper immediately tells him that if the truth were revealed, Walker wouldn't live to see Monday. Out of spite, he finally agrees- but gets only two words out when a bullet rockets into his chest and kills him instantly, shot by another sniper in some unknown area of the vast stadium. Walker has no idea where the shot came from, as he heard only a sharp echo resonate through the walls, and it was drowned out by sounds of cheering crowds, meaning Trivette, the security guards, and Secret Service alike couldn't hear the gun go off, letting the culprit slip away virtually unnoticed. Walker never finds the second assassin, as the episode closes out respectively to the way we see Kennedy's murder in real life - riddled with conspiracy theories, and the actual truth behind it never made clear.
  • The children's TV show Aquila ended on the second season. after introducing us to a brand new character, the boy's falling out over Jeff's new girlfriend and the last thing they show the viewer is the characters finding a cloaked battle-cruiser in orbit. It was based of a book series and 10 years later the author did release a new book but it just ignored the battle-cruiser cliffhanger.
  • In The Nine Lives of Chloe King, the titular character still has seven of her nine lives and has failed to even remotely attempt to fulfill her prophecy. In addition, her love interest is dying in her arms, and we are left without knowing his ultimate fate.
  • Seinfeld would occasionally end episodes when they'd reached a comedic peak, even if the story hadn't been resolved. One of the most famous of these was actually an accident. The episode "The Parking Garage" focuses on the Main Characters wandering around a parking garage, trying to find their car so they can go home. In the original script, the episode ends with them finding the car and just driving away. However, during shooting, the car being used for the scene wouldn't start, so the episode ends with the characters trying and failing to start the engine, still stuck in the parking garage. You can actually see Seinfeld, Alexander, and Dreyfuss Corpsing trying to cover their laughter.
  • Retro Game Master:
    • Dig Dug II is an Endless Game which loops after level 72. The staff apologizes for making Arino play a game that doesn't end and then draw two endings: Taizo eating a banana and Taizo standing over an enemy, sword-drill in hand. Arino prefers the first one.
    • After finishing Umihara Kawase and finding out it only has a credits roll, Arino is told that the game forces an end-level after 30 minutes of play. If he quickly takes the fastest possible route to the last end-level, would he see a real ending? He fails this (it is considered a draw), the staff eventually beats the route, only to find out the game really doesn't have an ending at all.
  • The Series Goal of Merlin was to see Arthur reinstate magic back into the kingdom. He dies before this ever happens, and though the episode (sans coda) ends with the image of Guinevere taking the throne after having realized that Merlin has magic, we're given no indication whatsoever about how her reign went, whether Merlin returns to Camelot, or how the magic issue is resolved.
  • The L Word... had an ending, it just never happened. Infamously viewership hated Jenny is found dead at Bette and Tina's house during a party, which kicks off the season after an inexplicable scene-for-scene rewind of the last few minutes of the previous season. The remainder of the season ostensibly pivots around the Jenny's murder whodunnit, with slightly larger-than-average arcs for most of the other characters. The show ends with an insanely stylized walk of the cast to the police station to give their statements about Jenny's death. As far as show-only content, THAT'S where the series ends! The whole season's overarching plotline (and to which most every plotline was party to) never even slightly resolved. Showtime released character testimonies weekly to drum up interest, but most of them were a little sparse in terms of details. Series creator Ilene Chaiken planned a spin-off called The Farm where Alice was found guilty of murdering Jenny (with no word on her actual guilt or innocence) and would revolve around Alice serving time. She pitched it to Showtime initially and then other distributors, but no one picked it up, so the end will forever be oddly abrupt, even assuming that Alice either did murder Jenny.
    • However, the sequel series The L Word: Generation Q has Bette revealing that Jenny committed suicide, thus negating the whole arc.
  • Person of Interest "Cura Te Ipsum" ends with Reese staring down a serial rapist, debating whether to let him go with the knowledge that he'll be watched or to just kill him and be done with it.
  • Half&Half ends with one of the sisters finally deciding between her two boyfriends. She calls him on the phone to tell him, and the scene ends before we ever learn who she chose.
  • Happens in-universe in an episode of Small Wonder. Jamie has to do a book report, and ends up doing his report in the form of a short film. The book is a murder mystery, but Jamie decides to end the movie right before the culprit is announced, telling the class that if they want to know who did it, they should read the book themselves.
  • Saban's Beetleborgs ends with the heroes having possession of both Humongous Mecha and a Super Mode, while the villains lost their steady supply of Monsters of the Week. Unfortunately, the villains are still at large. This is due to Beetleborgs being an adaptation of the Japanese shows B-Fighter and B-Fighter Kabuto, of which there was no more footage left of to use on other episodes, resulting in the series being cancelled.
  • VR Troopers, also created by Saban, just abruptly ends with a simple villainous plot of the week episode, with the troopers not being any closer to finding out who the Big Bad is and how to defeat him, which were the main plot points in the second season. The reason is the same as the aforementioned Beetleborgs: The creators ran out of action footage, the source of it being the Japanese shows Space Sheriff Shaider, Jikuu Senshi Spielban and Choujinki Metalder.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg, another one of Saban's creations, ended with Queen Maeve, one of the two Big Bads, defeated, but the other one, the dark faerie Midar, joining forces with the evil witch Nemain. There was a second season in the makings, called Mystic Knights Battle Thunder, in which these plot points would be addressed, but since Power Rangers was starting to regain popularity, all budget that would be used for the new Mystic Knights season was transferred to Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, essentially cancelling Mystic Knights.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, instead of a Grand Finale, the series ends with a very awkward episode ("Turnabout Intruder") about female captains not being allowed in Starfleet. Of course there are followups to the adventures of the Enterprise crew, beginning with Star Trek: The Animated Series.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Downplayed. There IS an ending. Voyager reaches Earth.....and that's it. No epilogue, no reunions with their loved ones, no parting of the ways, no "Where are they now?", nothing. Seven years of trying to get home and that's all we get.
  • The first season the NBC sci-fi series Surface ended with a scientist and a deep-sea diver who found out that a secret government agency was orchestrating a new world order by releasing giant sea monsters, and flooding the world to make that happen. There was also a plot where a nerdy teenager, and his popular girlfriend found and adopted a baby sea monster, and were raising it as their pet. In the final episode, the four of them ended up together as the sea levels rose dramatically, separated from their respective families. As they managed to find safety on the top floor of a building, they watch a news reporter get swallowed whole by a sea monster. How they managed to ultimately survive, how the world would react to the planet being ruled by giant monsters, and what would become of the pet was supposed to be covered beginning in the second season. Despite leaving those issues unresolved, the series was canceled shortly thereafter.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Storyteller", Dorothy Livingston and her niece Heather follow a man believed to be Micah Front, whom she taught in 1933, to a hotel room in order to determine if he has managed to keep his great-great-great-grandfather alive by telling him stories and not finishing them until the next night. If he has done so, the old man would be almost 200 years old in 1986. As Dorothy is about to open the door, it is revealed that it is part of a story that she is telling her mother. The episode ends with Dorothy saying that she will have to wait until the next night to hear the resolution.
  • Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, much like Beetleborgs and VR Troopers, just suddenly ended with a normal episode because the creators ran out of footage from Denkou Choujin Gridman to adapt. The series did attempt to have a proper ending midway through, at a time when the producers thought the show was getting cancelled. When they found out that the series had been picked up and they suddenly had to make more episodes, they simply tacked on a Reset Button Ending onto the intended finale that undid all the events of the episode, hurriedly restored the status quo, and erased everybody's memories of the whole thing. Unfortunately, with that footage already used up, the producers were left with no way to actually end the series when the time really did come.

  • The Boards of Canada album Geogaddi is a dark, twisting, vaguely conceptual nightmare filled with backmasking, references to cults, and eerie songs with evocative names. It reaches its climax with the haunting "You Could Feel the Sky," then suddenly cuts to the peaceful, droning "Corsair," which closes the album. The result is that the album doesn't feel so much like a complete story told through music, but rather a fever dream with scattered chronology and no definite resolution other than "Corsair" being the moment that the fever dream ends. It's done so well that fans wouldn't want it any other way.
    • Likewise, Radiohead's Hail to the Thief. Based on comments from Thom Yorke, most of the album signifies a nightmare, and "A Wolf at the Door" is the horror of waking up only to find that while you slept, the world has become just as bad as the nightmare. It's all very metaphorical and political.
  • Tends to happen quite a bit in Rock Opera;
    • The grand finale of The Who's Tommy features Tommy's followers rejecting him, followed by a soliloquy on Tommy's part. Listeners and reviewers at the time were divided on what it was supposed to mean, with some opining that Tommy's followers kill him and others believing he reverts back to his self-imposed deaf-blindness. The Movie and the Broadway musical clarify it somewhat, but take two completely different takes on it.
    • The Who's Quadrophenia ends with the singer trapped on a rock in the middle of the ocean. He yields himself to love and reconciles his inner nature, or something, but he's still trapped on a rock in the ocean. Then it ends.
    • Our House by Madness from The Rise & Fall, The Madness musical has two possible paths of the protagonist's life leading to two possible endings right from the start, with no indication of which one actually happened. However, after those are both sort-of resolved, halfway through the reprise of the title song, we're treated to a third possibility which, if it was real, would mean that neither of those endings could have happened, and absolutely nothing is resolved, or indeed, actually happened at all.
    • Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds has two endings; the first, lifted from the book, in which the Journalist wonders to himself whether Earth is truly safe or whether even now the Martians are preparing a second assault; and a second, invented by Wayne, where a NASA-sponsored mission to Mars in the 1970s appears to be interrupted by a new Martian attack.
    • Rush's 2112 ends with an unidentified, ominous mechanical-sounding voice proclaiming "ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION - WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL." Whether this is meant to symbolize the triumphant return of the Elder Race as imagined by the protagonist, or the priesthood's spiritual domination of him, is left up to the listener's imagination.
    • Likewise, Pink Floyd's The Wall ends with the wall coming down, but whether Pink's being "exposed before [his] peers" will be for good or ill is much less certain. In order to get a more conclusive ending, you need to listen to the song "The Final Cut," which describes Pink having trouble reintegrating with society, unsuccessfully trying to shoot himself, and then his wife reaching out to him during another suicide attempt. It's a bittersweet ending, as the world blows up two songs later...
  • Bal-Sagoth tell a lot of original stories in their songs. Many of them end in a To Be Continued.
  • In a melodic, rather than plot-based, example, a few of P.D.Q. Bach's pieces end just short of the note you know they have to resolve to, such as the Adagio Saccharino from the Schleptet in E Flat Major (5:40-6:25), or the theme from the Tema con Variazione in the Concerto for Horn and Hardart (8:17-9:30).
    • One of the funnier examples is the "Prelude to Einstein on the Fritz," which, if you listen closely, is a adaptation of the Prelude in C Major from Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier, which stops short just before reaching the final chord of J.S. Bach's original piece.
  • "Untitled" by D'Angelo ends like this in the album version, where the song is cut off mid-sentence.
  • The Beatles did this with both sides of the Abbey Road album.
    • "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" has a lengthy musical outro which abruptly cuts to dead silence in the middle of a riff.
    • "Her Majesty", the last track on the second side, cuts out the last note. The reason for this is that "Her Majesty" was originally supposed to be a part of the medley, between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam". Listen to it in that order and it makes perfect sense musically. note 
  • "Pull Me Under" by Dream Theater cuts out the last note. The band was apparently on a big Beatles spree around the time it was recorded, and this is possibly inspired by "Her Majesty".
  • Prog-rock band Genesis did this at least twice:
    • "Harold the Barrel" ends with the titular anti-hero stuck on a window ledge above a town square full of people, preparing to jump, and we're not given any clue how the scene is resolved. Except for the way the final "running jump" fades as if the singer is falling away from the listener.
    • "One for the Vine" is effectively a Möbius-loop song with a never-ending plot; a people who live in mountainous terrain, beset with enemies, have found a saviour-figure to lead them in battle. One of those who don't believe in this hero escapes up the mountain, only to slip and fall onto a plain like the one he calls home, complete with a tribe just like his... who, because of his "miraculous" appearance, hail him as their saviour. At first elated at having landed on his feet (figuratively and literally), he becomes horrified when he realises that he's back in the situation from which he was trying to escape — this time right in the middle. The song (but not the story) ends with him seeing one of his disciples who's lost faith in him flee up a mountain...
    • The concept double-album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway: since it's based on Peter Gabriel's own dreams, it goes without saying that the narrative is odd, to say the least. Basically, a New York street punk named Rael winds up in some bizarre, alternate underground New York City. After going through many increasingly bizarre locales and situations, he finally sees a way back to the real New York. But he's forced to choose between escape and saving his drowning brother John, who in all previous appearances had refused to save him. Rael dives into the water, rescues his brother, pulls him onto dry land, and then, according to the lyrics, "Something's changed, that's not your face! It's mine, it's mine!" And, um, that's it.
  • The Neil Young classic "Cortez The Killer" becomes a lengthy jam session that fades out abruptly as the band still plays, due to a power outage that led to the rest of the song, as well as a final verse (much of which is still unknown), being lost. When informed of the power failure, Young said, "I never liked that verse anyway", and used the incomplete take.
  • In David Bowie's "Space Oddity" from Space Oddity, last thing we know is they lose communication, no clue is left as to what happens after that. "Ashes to Ashes" later reveals that he may have survived.
    • Peter Schilling's take on the same story in "Major Tom" assumes that he did survive after losing contact, although it's not clear what happens next.
  • Utada Hikaru has the song "Take 5", where the very abrupt ending is supposed to symbolise either death or Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Type O Negative does this with the majority of their own songs, each of them ending with an abrupt digital cutoff. This is most apparent on the album closers, which stop right in the middle of a climactic buildup. One of them, the final track on World Coming Down, just so happens to be a cover—guess who and what it's a cover of.note 
  • Many, many music videos end this way.
  • "The Goin' Gets Tough from the Getgo" by Ween. As Dean Ween explains at the end of one performance (lyrics NSFW), "It doesn't have a real ending, it just like... dribbles to a halt."
  • Dinosaur Jr.'s cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" stops dead just before the second chorus.
  • Blue Öyster Cult's "Flaming Telepaths" on Secret Treaties ends mid-sentence of the repeated phrase "and the joke's on you".
  • Franz Schubert's infamous "Unfinished Symphony" No. 8 is probably the Trope Maker in the genre.
  • Mozart's famous Requiem was this trope, until his student Franz Süssmayr completed it after Mozart's death.
  • Death Cab for Cutie's "Pity and Fear" builds up into a huge, climactic, distorted repeating riff, and then cuts out halfway into a riff. Apparently, whatever they were using to record the song broke in the middle of the recording, and they just ended up keeping it because it sounded better.
  • In Johann Sebastian Bach's Art of Fugue, the largest and presumably last fugue in the cycle abruptly cuts off mid-passage, as a result of the piece being unfinished before he died.
  • Alexander Scriabin's late works often seem to vanish into thin air rather than reaching a conventional ending. This is particularly noticeable in his Piano Sonata No. 5 (and in most of the rest of the piano sonatas after it).
  • This is also a common feature of Franz Liszt's experimental works from near the end of his life, such as Nuages gris and the various La lugubre gondola pieces.
  • The second movement of Charles Ives's Fourth Symphony ends in a bombastic circus march section, which cuts off in mid-phrase, leaving only a viola line, which trails off after a measure. In his posthumous piano piece The Celestial Railroad, which is essentially the same symphony movement in a condensed form with fewer sections, the ending is even more abrupt.
    • Although the endings occur more naturally than the above, his Concord Sonata is notable for its various non-resolutions: the second movement ("Hawthorne") has a shocking burst of dissonant notes, while the first ("Emerson") and last ("Thoreau") seem to fade into infinity at the lowest dynamics possible. By contrast the third movement, "The Alcotts", ends on a more conventional C major.
  • Cunninlynguists' "Falling Down" begins with one singer describing his situation, then going through a mental breakdown and shooting a man. As he heads to the pawn shop to buy more ammunition and "take care of some business," another singer takes over, who due to different circumstances also goes through a breakdown and also winds up headed to the pawn shop with blood on his hands. The third singer's rampage, and the song, end with a declaration that two guys who happen to be walking to the pawn shop are "about to get it too." One can only assume that this will not end well.
  • "Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini".
  • Smokie's song Living Next Door To Alice. In the final verse the narrator's other friend Sally tells him that she has been waiting 24 years for him to take an interest in her. His reply is not recorded, as we are just told that the big limousine disappeared.
  • Elvis Costello's "Night Rally", which cuts off a noisy buildup and a repeating of the title. Some versions of This Year's Model pull a Mood Whiplash by putting Costello's upbeat single "Radio Radio" immediately afterwards.
  • The last line of La Dispute's "King Park"
    I left the hotel behind, don't want to know how it ends.
  • Frank Zappa's album / play Thing-Fish is about mutated black stereotypes performing an offensive play, then capturing the last two audience members, who are chained up and made to witness audacious and outright bizarre events. The whole thing ends with everyone randomly having anal sex while dwarves spill out of the stage.
  • Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" from Machine Head could easily be mistaken for having this kind of ending, as many radio stations only play it up to the second verse, which leaves the story hanging. The full song finishes the story and depicts whether or not they actually win the "race" that night.
  • The Vocaloid song series Karakuri Burst has a really confusing one. The song ends when Rin and Len remember their past, and they both stare at each other…and then it ends. But wait! There's more! The producer released two other songs…which give no elaboration to anyone else, and only address what happened to them. And the last song just ends with Rin telling Len 'good night until you wake up from this bad dream'. What does it mean? Who are the other characters? Why do Lily and Gumi appear on the cover of the album? Will Rin and Len ever get closure? It won't ever be addressed.
  • Emilie Autumn has "Opheliac", the title track of her most popular album. The song ends right before she can finish the chorus, probably to symbolize the unpredictable nature of the narrator (the eponymous Opheliac):
    It's not the way I wanna be
    I only hope that in the end you will see―
  • "Nothing Really Ends" from Pocket Revolution by dEUS is about a relationship where the lovers wonder whether they should end it or start over again. The song ends with an open ending, where the music dissolves into a mysterious Last Note Nightmare:
    I once told a friend that nothing really ends, no-one can prove this
    So I'm asking you now: "Could it possibly be that you still love me?"
    Do you feel the same
    Do I have a chance of doing that old dance again
    Is it too late for some of that romance again
    Let's go away, we'll neer have the chance again
    I'd take it all from you
  • Shiina Ringo's "Souretsu", the last song on Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana, gradually gets louder and then suddenly cuts off. The ending of Shouso Strip does almost the exact opposite: it starts to fade out, but suddenly cuts off before it fades completely. Incidentally, both of these end their respective albums at very precise lengths: KSK at 44:44.4, and Shouso Strip at 55:55.
  • Todd Rundgren's "La Feel Internacìonále" just cuts off suddenly with no ending.
  • Daniel Amos's "Endless Summer" (from ¡Alarma!) says outright in the chorus that the protagonists won't ever find what they seek:
    We were looking for an endless summer
    We're still looking for an endless summer
    It's no surprise we'll be looking endlessly
  • Opeth did this twice, as "Serenity Painted Death" and "Closure" both cut off abruptly. In the former it is intentional to indicate the capture of the protagonist, while in the latter it is an ironic pun on the title of the song (as the abrupt ending means the song has no closure).
  • Enslaved provide another example of this with their song "Bounded by Allegiance" from the Isa album. Like several of the other examples above, it stops abruptly.
  • "Ascension Day" by Talk Talk cuts off abruptly at the six minute mark, during a chaotic improv section.
  • Alban Berg's Lyric Suite for strings ends with a deliberate lack of motivic resolution. The concluding "Largo desolato" movement instead fades out anticlimactically on a slow viola tremolo, and Berg insists that the lower note of this tremolo must not be played last.
  • Miracle of Sound's "Trip to Vegas" (a song about Fallout: New Vegas) abruptly ends when the game crashes (as it often does).
  • "Me" by Mabel Pines cuts off abruptly at 1:57 with the line "I'm just a puff of smoke and soon I will be gone".
  • Warren Zevon's song "Life'll Kill Ya" doesn't end so much as abruptly stop.
  • In Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral, regarding individual songs, both "Ruiner" and "Big Man with a Gun" end abruptly on a hard, digital stop. In particular, "Ruiner" ends in mid-sentence, with the Madness Mantra of "You didn't hurt me, nothing can stop me now" suddenly cut off on the word "stop". The Concept Album itself uses this for Mood Whiplash, with the increasingly loud, intense and aggressive "Big Man with a Gun" abruptly cut off by "A Warm Place", a quiet and somber instrumental.
    • Similarly, "The Perfect Drug" from the Lost Highway soundtrack: The coda consists of the repeated lyric "without you, everything falls apart / without you, it's not as much fun to pick up the pieces", but on the final repetition, the last syllable of "pieces" gets abruptly cut off.
  • They Might Be Giants: "The Lady and the Tiger" from their album Join Us is a Perspective Flip on the Frank Stockton story "The Lady, or the Tiger?", where the Lady and the Tiger are waiting restlessly for a resolution that will never come. It ends with them still in that same situation; even the music ends on a rather abrupt note after the last verse.
    The hall remains, it still contains
    A pair of doors, a choice
    Behind one door, a muffled roar
    Behind the other, a voice

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Egyptian myth of "The Doomed Prince", dating back to the 18th Dynasty, written in hieratic text, probably had an ending originally, but it may never be known, as the scroll with that part was destroyed before the rest could be deciphered. The story is one where the King of Egypt prays for a son, as his wife seems barren; the gods grant his wish, and his wife finally bears him a son. However, the day the prince is born, he is visited by the goddess Hathor at birth in her guise as the Fates, who prophesies that he will die by a snake, crocodile, or dog. After living a sheltered, lonely life due to his father who tries to protect him, the prince finds out about the prophecy, and decides he'd rather face it with dignity. He later wins the love of a princess, and with her help is able to kill a snake that attacks him in his sleep. Then, however, the dog he raised from a puppy attacks him, and he flees, only to be ambushed by a crocodile — who offers to spare him in exchange for his help in a fight against a water demon. This, however, is where it breaks off. (Most scholars believe it probably had a happy ending with a Screw Destiny or Prophecy Twist theme somewhere at the end, with the hero and the princess living Happily Ever After.)
  • The Bible has several examples.
    • The Book of Jonah ends with God asking Jonah "Shouldn't you be concerned for that great city [Nineveh]?" While this question may serve as the moral of the story, Jonah's reply is lost to posterity.
    • In the New Testament, the book of Acts doesn't really have an ending. The outcome of Paul's trial before Caesar, which he was still awaiting at the end of Acts, is disputed among scholars to this day.
    • The earliest surviving manuscripts of Mark end not with the resurrected Christ's appearance to his disciples, but with a mysterious, unnamed man telling Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome that Jesus has risen, and that they should tell the apostles and go see him for themselves; however, they don't tell anyone, because they're afraid. The End. Indeed, in the original Greek of those manuscripts, the last verse arguably breaks off in mid-sentence with the word "for," an unusual construction.
    • The last parts of Book of Judges points out Israel's moral decay and need for a king.


    Print Media 
  • MAD Magazine's parody of Hill Street Blues deliberately does this.
  • A magazine in the 1960s for members of the National Education Association (NEA) played this trope straight. Each issue included an open-ended story that was designed for students to write and/or discuss possible resolutions.
  • In Zillions, a recurring comic strip called "Daze of Our Lives" is a parody of soap operas and focuses on a cast of teenagers, usually ends on a cliffhanger(for example, one girl gets confronted by a boy she'd been avoiding) or a difficult choice (one boy has to choose whether to buy new clothes for school or go to the amusement park with his friends), with the narrator inviting readers to decide what happens next.

  • Episodes of The Goon Show almost never had real endings, but sometimes they made it completely obvious, such as:
    Greenslade: What do you think, dear listeners? Were they standing on Rockall? Or was it Napoleon's piano? Send your suggestions to anybody but us.
    • They did end some episodes, but that was mainly through careful application of rapidly descending livestock.
    • The last regular episode ended with a brief announcement: "That was it - the last of them." The 1972 reunion show "The Last Goon Show of All" ended just as inconclusively as a regular episode.
  • The first The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio drama was 6 episodes long, and had a definite ending on ancient Earth. When fans clamored for more, Adams had to invent all sorts of hoops to jump through so that he could un-end the story. He made sure that the second 6-episode radio drama did not have a definitive ending, and left all sorts of dangling loose ends for when the third radio drama got written. Further sequels were created posthumously.
  • For The Brewing Network most shows that ended simply stopped being made with no announcement it was happening. Only twice has the ending been acknowledged in the last episode- Lunch Meet and Shinerunner. The Jamil Show, Homebrewed Chef, Bikes + Beer (though they only made two episodes), and unless their absence is temporary due to covid Hop and Brew School, and Sour Hour all stopped with nothing said about it.

  • Survival of the Fittest V2 ends with Danya gives this big evil speech and Bryan Calvert attacks Danya, and nothing else happens. As of v4, people still don't know what happened after that. There was supposed to be a part two, but at this rate we'll never know other than Danya and Wilson got out of the situation alive. A final end may or may not be upcoming.

  • Luigi Pirandello's Absolutely! (Perhaps) tells the story of a family who become fascinated by their new neighbors, as one of two completely different scandalous stories is true depending on the true identity of one of them. At the end, this person finally appears but refuses to tell them who she is because their attempts to find out have been so intrusive. She leaves with "I am...whoever you believe me to be." The one member of the family who wasn't interested in the mystery at all then turns to the audience and says "Are you satisfied?" before laughing hysterically as the curtain comes down.
  • Harold Pinter's Old Times.
  • John Patrick Shanley's Doubt never tells you either what happened to Donald Muller or whether or not Father Flynn was guilty. The original Sister Aloysius, Cherry Jones, said that the first act was the play itself and the second act was the discussion amongst the audience afterward.
    • According the IMDB, the only people who know are John Patrick Shanley and the actors who have played Father Flynn. Good luck getting one of them to tell you.
  • Bertolt Brecht's play, The Good Person of Szechwan ends abruptly, without solving any of the conflicts. An actor steps out, and asks the audience to find a resolution.
  • UMO Ensemble's adaptation of Les Chants de Maldoror ends with the cast announcing "New arrival!" just as at the start of the play, but it fades to black right there, without us finding out who or what the "new arrival" is.
  • The libretto for the opera Moses und Aron concludes the story with a third act, but Arnold Schoenberg never composed any music for it, perhaps feeling that the theological conflict between the title characters was unresolvable.
  • The musical Drood, based on the unfinished mystery by Charles Dickens, lets the audience vote on the ending. Also bringing in a healthy dose of No Fourth Wall.
  • At the end of Laura Marks' Bethany, after signing the lease, Crystal breaks down in tears, takes a drink from the sink, then stands center stage looking up. Cue the mysterious strobe lights, droning music, and flash to black, followed by the curtain call.
  • Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot doesn't end, it simply seems to... repeat.
    Estragon: Well, shall we go?
    Vladimir: Yes, let's go.
    (They do not move.)
  • The script for Deathtrap has a coda involving two minor characters, but some productions seem to feel it's better to do an abrupt blackout just as soon as Clifford, who has been fatally shot with an arrow, pulls the arrow out and stabs Sidney with it. Given that all three main characters are dead or dying, it does sort of make sense to stop there.
  • Eurydice ends without resolution as Orpheus arrives in the Underworld, newly dead, and can't read the letter Eurydice left for him.

  • The Slizer line of LEGO Technic toysnote  was unceremoniously wrapped up shortly after its twelfth kit was released, without resolving either of the two plot points it had been given. The final lines had something of a Sequel Hook, but it's probably a safe bet that we won't be seeing them again.
    • The follow-up line RoboRiders met a similar fate, as it ended before the Big Bad's identity could have been revealed. In fact, LEGO was so eager to just cancel Bionicle that the creators, wanting to avoid another No Ending, had to convince their higher-ups to do just one more set and comic-line, so that at least the main plot could see a satisfactory conclusion. They did that, and even allowed the writer to continue the story without the toyline... which then got Left Hanging.

    Video Games 
  • Almost all of Assassin's Creed. It's remarkable that after Altair and Ezio's lives have been, via multiple games and various promotional videos, completely fleshed out right up to the moments of their deaths, the next six main characters not would get just a single game apiece and we'd learn almost nothing of what they did afterward.
    • Assassin's Creed ends with Altair's story mostly wrapped up, but Desmond's is left almost entirely unresolved. The game just rolls to credits as soon as you exhibit Eagle Vision and see the mad scrawlings on the floor and walls from the previous occupant. None of the slowly accumulated foreshadowing in the game becomes relevant until Assassin's Creed II, leaving that particular plotline hanging.
    • 3: Connor makes one last visit to his destroyed village, then finds Davy Crockett and has a melancholy farewell chat with him. In Rogue, someone in the present day hints that he had a troubled marriage, and that's the last we ever hear of him. (The comics later retcon this bit into an Abstergo lie, he had a happy marriage with a native woman and his daughter was trained as an Assassin, and had even stronger Eagle vision then him)
    • 4/Black Flag: Edward proudly introduces his son Haytham to a friend. In the spinoff Freedom Cry, we learn that the Jackdaw sank (just to put in perspective, this was the vessel which took out multiple fortresses, at least several dozen men-'o-war, and five superpowered ships which ate every one of their past challengers for breakfast). Later material gives vague allusions to Edward's daughter being captured and treated horribly, him being killed at home in a cowardly ambush, and Haytham's anger at this driving him into the arms of the Templars. None of this is ever shown or explained in the games, but the expanded universe shows it all in detail.
    • Rogue: Shay kills Arno's father and reaffirms his loyalty to the Templars, kicking off the events of Unity. He's not seen or mentioned even once in that game, or any other game, for that mater.
    • Unity: Arno gazes over a cemetery and quietly reflects on his life and what the Creed truly means. The bonus pack ends with him watching Napoleon being arrested and taken away. Like Shay, he simply disappears afterward.
    • Syndicate: Jacob and Evie receive knighthoods and assist Queen Victoria in a few missions. Given that there's been no successor to Desmond Miles, and the next game, Origins, takes a huge jump into the past (and also severely downplays the present-day plot), it looks like Ubisoft is no longer interested in connecting the Assassins' lives in any way, so it looks like what we've seen is all we'll ever see.
  • Backyard Football on the Game Boy Advance has no ending at all. Not even a trophy for winning the Cereal Bowl.
  • The arcade Battletoads (an action-oriented revamp of the NES and SNES games). After smashing the last boss, Robo Manus, someone, presumably the Dark Queen, hisses "I'll be back!" The heroes crash-land on a lifeless planet and use their portable transporters to instantly zap back to base. Mission accomplished! Meanwhile, the Dark Queen is still alive and plotting, the heroes are still stuck in the forms of overgrown amphibians, and Volkmire is still lurking around somewhere. Issues which will never be resolved, as Rare never produced a direct sequel to the arcade game.
  • Chakan: The Forever Man seems to have an ending after all, but after the end credits, you're suddenly attacked by some strange HR Giger-ish boss with no explanation why and which you only get one shot at beating. If you do manage to beat it, the game goes to the hourglass graphic from the beginning of the game... and does nothing else, because the true ending was never programmed in (probably because the developers never expected anyone to get that far). If you wait around on that screen long enough, the words "Not the end" appear, and the game goes back to the title. Needless to say, no sequel was made.
  • Action 52's sequel Cheetahmen II after defeating the Apeman, the game gets stuck on the boss screen (where it was supposed to switch to the next set of levels by swapping the PRG ROM), making the game Unwinnable. If you hack to the last two levels, there's no ending after the Final Boss either.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho ends on a particularly frustrating note. The squad decide to go through the portal to fight the Firstborn, as opposed to sealing it away like all the previous Jericho Squad forerunners, to see if they can kill it for good and stop its efforts to try and break into the human world. They go through, encounter the Firstborn, fight the Firstborn, and... after Church weakens the Firstborn with her magic, Arnold Leach, one of the main villains, turns against his former master (after previously learning the hard way that the Firstborn was merely using him), flies off with him into a portal of light, the remaining Jericho members (after having lost two of their number to the Firstborn's wrath) dive into a nearby water source to escape... and that's it. Not even a little something after the ending credits. No way of finding out if the Firstborn is really dead, no way of finding out the fates of the rest of the squad. A sequel is apparently planned, however...
  • In the arcade DJ Boy, you play a breakdancing, skating brawler taking on the street gang that swiped your boom box. Even says so right on the cabinet: "DJ BOY'S BEEN RIPPED OFF! HELP HIM GET HIS BOOM BOX BACK." After slugging your way through a multitude of bruisers (and some pretty weird bosses), your final, climactic battle is...a couple of ordinary bosses. Well, okay, a victory is a victory. The ending? 1. DJ Boy does the same fade-to-black dance bit he did at the end of each of the previous levels, just a bit longer. 2. Credit scroll. That's it. You never even find out if he recovered his boom box!
  • Due to its rushed release, the fourth Double Dragon game, Super Double Dragon, gives the player a clearly tacked on text-only epilogue after defeating the final boss instead of the originally planned ending. The Japanese version, Return of Double Dragon, despite being a more complete game in every other aspect, doesn't even bother with such pretense, but instead skips straight to the end credits.
  • A possibility in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: if a plot-essential NPC is killed, the main storyline cannot progress. The game will inform you that "the thread of prophecy is severed" and give you an option to reload before the essential character's demise, or continue playing and "persist in the doomed world you have created".
  • Fable II. At the end, Big Bad Lucien is shot either by you or your partner Reaver, falling down to his apparent death. Theresa allows you to make a wish, then takes the Spire for herself and teleports you back into the world. The See the Future DLC: Theresa shows you a vision of your character as king/queen, and with a child (the future protagonist of Fable III). She then declares your exploits insignificant compared to your child's, and kicks you out again.
  • Final Fantasy VII ends during the climax of the game, with nothing more than a vague "500 Years Later" cutscene showing a field of flowers where the city of Midgar once stood and Red XIII in it, implying either a Green Aesop or that humanity at least survived. This has since been remedied by Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and various spin-off games, though whether or not this is any better is hotly debated in the fandom.
  • Grand Piano Keys: No matter how well you do, the round stops after 20 seconds without a satisfying ending.

  • The ZX Spectrum newsgroup comp.sys.sinclair had this as a local meme; in a parody of the dropout messages provided by ancient Hayes modems, FLGT@:WEV:#l;[;#~@V:W~V@É+++ NO CARRIER +++ was a common way to end a post.
  • The story of the Time Management Game Fix-it-up: Kate's Adventure fits, according to one review.
  • The original Japanese computer versions of Snatcher ended with the Snatcher menace still a threat and the Junker agency left without its Chief after he was killed and replaced by a double. The ending could be seen as a cliffhanger to the sequel, but was actually intended to be a cut-off point for the third and final act, which was left out due to time constraints. The proposed ending would later be included in the CD-ROM remakes of the game.
  • Because Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords got rushed for the Christmas season, most of the final planet was cut out, leaving the final fate of most of your party unknown and with little idea of what the hell just happened. The ending has somewhat been restored with fan-made mods trying to piece together unused material, but it still leaves many unanswered questions.
  • The adventure game Myst "rewards" you by letting you wander open-endedly around the Ages that you've just thoroughly explored, while Atrus sits at his desk writing and says nothing other than a slightly annoyed request to use the linking book to return to Myst. This left many players wondering whether they'd actually won.
    • There are two subtle indicators of your success, the red and blue books being destroyed (although you don't learn Sirrus and Achenar's true fate until much later) and the music when you quit the game being softer and more cheerful. Nonetheless, there's no actual indication that you leave the Ages of Myst. Furthermore, at the start of the second game, Riven, it's very strongly implied that you never left.
  • In Razing Storm, after completing Stage 4 (the true final stage you get after surviving the third stage boss' attacks), your squad receive a message that Bravo Team (the other team) was intercepted and captured. As your squad gets ready to rescue them, credits roll. The Playstation 3 version eventually gave the plot closure, but only on the separate First-Person Shooter mode.
  • Blue's scenario in SaGa Frontier. Upon dealing enough damage to the final boss, the screen will freeze mid-attack, fade to gray, and send you back to the title. Supposedly this is supposed to represent Blue fighting the Final Boss over and over again for all eternity, but it would have been nice if there was some text actually explaining this.
  • Mega Man X8: Axl is damaged by a desperation attack, and the crystal in his helmet seems to be corrupted with...something. This issue is left unresolved mainly since Mega Man X: Command Mission chronologically occurs after X8, in which Axl appears perfectly fine, thus making the aforementioned event a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. Unfortunately Command Mission itself is guilty of this trope, ending with the heroes getting stranded in the middle of the ocean after falling from space inside a damaged space station.
    • Really, almost all the Mega Man sub-series are guilty of this. ZX and Legends ended on cliffhangers, and so far neither are getting more entries. Battle Network, Star Force, and Zero are the only series out of the seven that have proper conclusions.
    • Mega Man Zero ends with Zero defeating the apparent Big Bad and escaping his collapsing lair right into a Bolivian Army Ending, with no closure for the Resistance characters and most of the antagonists still alive and loyal to the cause. The second game picks up right where it left off, though. (And as mentioned above, the Zero series got a conclusive ending with its fourth entry.)
    • Speaking of Mega Man, the Mega Man 2 ROM hack Rockman Exhaust simply resets to the title screen after Wily starts begging. The glitched ending isn't any better.
    • Also, Mega Man's Soccer does have an ending, but due to poor programming, the game simply takes the player back to the title screen after defeating Dr. Wily's team.
  • Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic, an old 80s RPG for the Commodore 64 and PC: The reward you get for defeating the final boss is — wait for it — it returns you to the DOS prompt! Ah, sweet, sweet victory....
  • A wretched ZX Spectrum example is Kraal, where completing the last level loops you back to the start of the game - you don't even get to keep your hard-won points.
  • Cursed Crusade ended with Denz and Esteban searching for Denz's dad in Egypt, with the main antagonist still at large and caught up with Denz's dad to steal the last holy relic. Kind of a letdown unless the developers are planning for a sequel...
  • Shadow Keep: The Search for the PC has this. After defeating The Shadow King, you... keep on playing. You can explore a bit, look around all the various maps, etc. If you'd already defeated all the monsters, there's nothing else to do. If you quit the game, you're called a coward and a knave — even if you've already defeated the Shadow King!
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey ends with Zoe falling into a coma, April stabbed and falling off-screen, Kian arrested for treason, and the Big Bad's plan seemingly succeeding. How exactly the latter part happened after Zoe destroyed Eingana, whether April really died, and what fate awaits Kian is left open. However the sequel, Dreamfall Chapters continued the story right where it left off and resolves all of the major plot threads.
  • The arcade version of Shinobi actually had an ending, which for some reason was not carried over to the Sega Master System adaptation. Instead, the player is awarded with a blank Game Over screen after defeating the final boss, the same screen the game gives when the player loses all of their lives.
  • Quite a few of the alternate endings in Chrono Trigger count as this. A couple are basically just glorified credits reels, one has Marle and Lucca Breaking the Fourth Wall and commenting on some NPCs, and the most famous one of them all dumps Crono into the Developer's Room.
    • The DS-exclusive ending that happens after the party fights the Dream Devourer also cuts short right after the fight, with the final battle against Lavos never being shown.
  • The normal ending of Chrono Cross treats you to a brief animation of the Eldritch Abomination final boss escaping through a portal, then a title card saying 'Fin'. The good ending, meanwhile, is firmly cemented in Gainax Ending territory.
  • Dwarf Fortress can only end in two ways. First, more common, is the fortress getting destroyed by something, ranging from a pack of goblins, to endless demon hordes, to all your dwarves throwing themselves into spiral of murder because of a lone kitten. However if you manage to survive all that, eventually and inevitably your fortress will grow so large that your computer will be unable to keep up and the FPS drop will force you to abandon it.
  • The PlayStation 3 game Girl Fight has several files detailing information on each girl's background and objective, and hints at a plot involving cyberspace and a seemingly helpful AI trying to aid you against a shadowy organization called The Foundation. Yet when you fight through the arcade mode and defeat the final boss, your "ending" is a sexy digital pinup of your chosen fighter, and that's it; your character's goal, along with all the AI and Foundation hooey, is just completely dropped. One could argue that you shouldn't expect a throwaway shovelware game to bother with proper endings, but it's very easy to argue back that if a developer won't provide any closure to a fighting game's story, they might as well save time and leave out the story altogether.
  • In Lost in the Static, after you pass the giant, you get a bunch of extremely easy screens. At the last one, the static fuzz which makes up the game's graphics start getting more and more indistinct until you see nothing but a screen full of static (normally, you can discern the various objects in the game by how the static moves in a specific place), then the static starts to fade until you have a white screen, and then the game closes.
  • Sonic Chronicles. Intended to be a Sequel Hook, but the game never got a sequel. It ends with Sonic and friends learning that Eggman has taken over the world. Then they thank BioWare for being awesome.
  • If Gekitotsu Dangan Jidousha Kessen: Battle Mobile is played on easy, it cuts to the End screen (a picture of the hero and the deceased wife he's avenging) after the fifth boss. Playing on a higher difficulty lets you fight the final boss and see the actual ending, which is a simple "drive peacefully through a highway as beautiful video game music plays". Also, if by chance the game was finished on the extra high difficulty where everything is a One-Hit Kill, then a random running granny follows the car just before the credits end. Yes.
  • In Blades of Time, after a lot of nonsense and some eleventh-hour plot twists, the protagonist and two companions finally escape back through the sphere to the other world, where they find themselves locked into a building. Then the Big Bad emerges through the sphere for the final stage of the final boss battle. After finally grinding him down, he stabs your male companion before sort of collapsing into a vortex. You and your female companion cling to the scenery as the vortex pulls your injured friend into it. He's gone. Cut to black. Credits roll.
  • The plot of Eba & Egg: A Hatch Trip, only shown on the game's official Twitter page, is that Eba sees an incoming bird of prey and rolls their younger sibling - the titular Egg - away from home on a quest to relocate to safety so that said Egg may hatch. After twenty-eight levels (twenty-nine if you count the tutorial stage), you're rewarded with a playable credits sequence, after which you're promptly booted back to the title screen with the Egg still unhatched.
  • TRON 2.0 has an ending that leaves more open than it resolves. Sure, Jet is able to rescue his father and the pair of them make it back from cyberspace, their rocky relationship a little smoother now. Ma3a is uploaded to safety, and it's implied that Mercury makes it to safety as well. Thorne dies, ending the threat of the Z-lot invasion, and the plan to launch a horde of Datawraith mercenaries to conquer the digital world is halted. However, Crown, Popoff, and Baza are stuck on a hard drive with Alan in no hurry to free them. Their mysterious boss (implied to be Dillinger) is still at large, and Alan cuts him off in mid-threat in the final scene. Encom is still a company in trouble, and still might be taken over by the bad guys from F-Con, and there is absolutely no word at all about what happened to all those Datawraiths already shot in.
  • The original release of Steam game Dark Matter ends abruptly with a text ending that provides absolutely no closure right in the middle of the game because the dev team ran out of money and apparently decided to release the unfinished game anyway.
  • Freedom Wars ends with you and your party flying into the sky with the help of a character who was forced into a Heel–Face Turn. The part where you were supposed to save the world from its current state is never addressed.
  • The penultimate mission in Judgment Rites. Kirk and company board a strange alien ship that's about to land on a Federation colony. The ship turns out to be populated entirely by mentally-damaged individuals, but the main computer has been sabotaged and only vague clues as to the ship's origins can be located. Finally, after a lot of messing about, the away team manages to reach the ship's database and access it. It offers an explanation as to the ship's origins, but that explanation conflicts with other data in the computer. When Kirk points this out, the computer suddenly reveals that it was all just a test by an alien civilization that has nothing to do with the ship or the people on board, and you move on to the next mission.
  • The adventure game Blue Ice had no ending screen whatsoever, and no indication that you've completed all the puzzles. The ultimate goal was to find all the clues necessary to decode a secret phrase, and send the solution to the authors in hopes of getting a prize. The authors didn't put in an ending screen to prevent players from cheating their way into the ending and claiming the prize — the only way of finding out if you won was... to ask the authors if your guess was right (or just look up the solution on the net).
  • The original release of EarthBound Beginnings simply ends after Giegue is forced to retreat by the Eight Melodies. The three playable characters simply face the screen while credits roll in the background. The English localization and the Japanese Mother 1+2 GBA re-release add in an extended ending, in which everyone is shown alive and well (including Teddy, who was implied to have died in the original).
  • Mind Zero: After you defeat the final boss, Shizuku (the girl you spend half the game trying to rescue) is pulled through the unsealed door to the inner realm because "She is going to be made the Empress of the MINDs." The final boss laughs and says something about "Those old men must be scared shitless right now!" then dies. Kei (the protagonist) screams NOOO, then the scene switches to the two cops who helped the party throughout the game and their car explodes for literally no reason. Only the young cop survives, also screaming NOOOOO. Then the scene shifts to some guy in a white suit talking on the phone, then hanging up and wondering if he'll ever meet the party in person. The game finally ends with a black screen of text saying "This is only the beginning."
  • Bravely Second ends with time coming to an end. You're allowed to walk around and talk to people in the now-grayscale world all you want. You never even fight the main villain aside from the Hopeless Boss Fight at the start of the game. So you ought to go back and beat him when you had the chance.
  • Escape Velocity Nova's Pirate storyline ends up somewhere between this trope and Left Hanging in relation to the other five storylines — the immediate personal story does get resolved, but what the other storylines suggests is the common story of Nova (resolving the wars and beginning the process of unifying humanity again) is left entirely untouched in the Pirate storyline — all you provide is a (in the grand picture fairly minor) strategic gain for the Rebellion, which unlike the immediate political changes in other storylines isn't even represented in-game once you complete the storyline. The Pirate epilogue also only extends to what happens right after you complete the final mission, while the other storylines' goes at least a few decades ahead.
  • Journey to Silius has very little plot as it is, but the ending is a single still image with no text, and then the credits roll.
  • While Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain does have a credit screen along with a Distant Finale Stinger, the game doesn't end there! It goes about for another four missions that are all rehashed version of levels that players have already beaten in the previous chapter. Completing these level doesn't progress the story and there is no new content from that point on. There was supposed to be a true final mission which resolves the conflict between Eli and Diamond Dogs, ending in a Final Boss fight against Sahelanthropus, but the mission was left unfinished and removed from the game, leaving the game with literally no ending. That being said, The Reveal that Venom Snake is not Big Boss, which drastically changes Big Boss's characterization in Metal Gear 1, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, is a shocking moment on which to end, providing some closure.
  • Space Station Silicon Valley actually invokes this trope. When you clear the final level, you are told by Dan that you shouldn't bother waiting for a grand finale, because he sold it to buy a new ship.
  • If you get the bad ending in Charlie Murder, the game abruptly stops after you defeat Lord Mortimer, with no last hoo-rah or cutscene, and instead skips to the credits. The good ending path continues in Hell and you fight the True Final Boss.
  • After completing the final level of Eldritch Lands: The Witch Queen's Eternal War, the player receives a dialogue with the necroshroom itself... but that's it, the necroshrooms are still a problem and most of the mysteries are still open to be solved. The second necroshroom dialogue is just a developer message in which he thanks the player, and tells them to keep their eyes open for a sequel.
  • Seraph, by Dreadbit Games, makers of Ironcast, offers the player a choice after defeating the final boss: Join him, or kill him. Whatever you pick, the game immediately cuts to the credits. And that's it. Word of God confirms this as intentional.
  • In Splatterhouse 2010, a reboot of the franchise: The game ends with Rick using the power of the terror mask to defeat Dr.West and West's Eldritch Abomination Masters, The corrupted. During the final moments of the portal that connects the corrupted overlord to the human realm, something slips out and possesses Jennifer, Rick's girlfriend who was kidnapped at the beginning and is Rick's motivation. Rick's then told by the Terror mask that the deal made hasn't been fulfilled, so he can't remove it. While Dr. West is killed, by Possessed!Jennifer, the narrative then stops with a cut to credits. Due to a layoff variant of Cancellation of the whole development team of the game and no details of if they had a direct sequel in mind out in public as of April 2018, the potential cliffhanger became a no ending.
  • STAY (2018): We never really get an answer as to who kidnapped Quinn or why.
  • Obscure Playstation 2 game kill.switch revolves around a character that can be controlled remotely through his neural implants, and who is being used to heat up regional conflicts into dangerous wars. The game ends when he manages to kill the person that was controlling him against his will, with no real indication on what happened as a result of the wars that he instigated.
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta abruptly ends after Adol defeats the Final Boss and recovers his final missing memory, leaving a lot of questions unanswered and the fate of the main cast unknown.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the Coffin Ending is the exact same as the True Ending, except it abruptly ends before you make it to the final room because the characters get stuck at the coffin. You need to see the Safe Ending in order to get the passcode to open it and rescue Snake.
  • In ClockUp's Euphoria:
    • If you choose more than one girl to enter the "Keyhole" rooms to have sex with Takato, in the end the characters escape from the white room complex and discover they are very near of their school. Takato and Kanae go to search help and... roll credits.
    • Some bad endings end like this, like the ones with Rika. Takato just falls unconscious in the middle of the action and the credits roll, without resolution to the situation.
  • Remember11 is not only infamous for having no ending, it also "ends" on a cliffhanger with many plot points left unsolved, leading to much Wild Mass Guessing.

    Web Animation 
  • Battle for Dream Island Again abruptly ends after the final part of episode 5, without an actual conclusion. Some say this is because Cary and Michael Huang were blocked out of their Adsense account for several years which gave them profits from displayed advertisements. IDFB does continue from where BFDIA ended, but the entire story is dropped come BFB. At least, until the very end of BFB.
  • Bunnykill: Word of God is that even if he hadn't canceled the series, the "Episode 5 saga" was never going to get a resolution.
  • This is the way Double King ends. The Double King obtains the crown of Agatha, Matriarch of Death and runs away with it, falling into the void outside the planet. Cut to credits.
  • The last episode of Girl Chan In Paradise ends on a cliffhanger, where Kenstar is about to use his secret bloodline technique against Swirly Glasses after he reveals himself as "Captain Taisho Bushido Blaster Buster #1". That was back in 2010, and since then Word of God is that the show is on indefinite hiatus.
  • Super Mario Bros. Z's final episode was only a few minutes long as opposed to many of the others in the series and right before a climactic battle no less! As a result, several events never got resolved that were established in previous episodes. This is all due to the creator's refusal to continue working with sprite animation, although the ending credits suggest otherwise.

  • The 'Flower Knight' side story Drowtales, which ends with the titular knight going off into the world to get revenge on the creature that killed his family and kingdom. If he got his revenge, or died is never revealed, because no one knows.
  • This is pretty much the case for most orphaned webcomics.
  • RPG World had a particularly horrendous non-end. The characters reach the final boss, begin fighting the final boss, and then... nothing. As it turns out, the creator just plain got tired of working on the comic and axed it until the Fully Absorbed Finale in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes.
  • The last page of Killroy and Tina looks like the end of the latest chapter. Then nothing. Then six months later, Justin Pierce started up The Non-Adventures of Wonderella and that was that. What makes this example egregious is that the bottom of the last non-Filler page said "To Be Continued".
  • Velia Dear ended on a cliffhanger concerning Velia and her dying mother, asking the audience what they thought should happen... to no real avail, as the story was never continued.
  • Achewood had an arc that involved Ray becoming possessed whenever a note was played on a mystical banjo. The last strip in the arc had Ray telling Pat to say good things about his penis as Pat called him while being dragged down the sidewalk by the banjo come to life, which was followed by a hiatus when Chris Onstad's daughter was born. When the strip resumed, the banjo was never mentioned again, although Onstad does promise that before Achewood ever comes to a close, we'll find out what happens to the banjo.
  • Parodied in one arc of xkcd that was riffing on Firefly. Two characters prepare for all-out combat, then "Final battle canceled by FOX."
  • Ansem Retort stopped updating during what seemed to be the climax of Season 8.
  • MS Paint Adventures:
    • Jailbreak was originally Cut Short in favor of other works but eventually got an ending several years later. To wit, it ends with a pony falling asleep in an elf's bed and all the other characters still trapped, stranded, or otherwise in conflict.
    • Bard Quest was Cut Short for the same reasons, so the last panel shows the main party meeting a wizard in the middle of wading through a swamp. They show up again in Problem Sleuth, having not budged an inch in the meantime.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the "Blood Runs in the Family" Story Arc ends with such a complicated twist on this that it's hard to label it as any recognized form of Playing with a Trope. It's sort of invoked by Elan to defeat his Genre Savvy father who wanted him to either join him in ruling his Empire or to kill him so he'd live on in legend. Elan eventually abandons him in the desert, after countering his efforts to force the plot to do what he wanted, and the Order gets on with the main plot. However, while the villain of the story thinks of this as No Ending, it's only because he's Wrong Genre Savvy in thinking the main plot has to be what he thinks it is. The actual conflict of this storyline was that he seemed to have an iron grip of the story with unflappable Genre Savviness and a Xanatos Gambit that made him impossible to defeat, so his having an impotent Villainous Breakdown over the fact that the story isn't doing what he wants it to is a perfect resolution for that story.
  • You Say It First ended in what seemed at the time more of a chapter wrap-up than a finale, wrapping up most of the last chapter's plotlines neatly and Brisbane and Kimberly turning in for the night.
  • While Exploitation Now did conclude the main plotline of Jordan and the organization she was fighting against, the comic ends just a few pages after the final battle without addressing what happens after.

    Web Original 
  • H! Flash. 51 chapters, the last few of which definitely feel like they're leading to some closure, and this is how it ends? With a piece of fluff from nowhere? What about all of the plot threads? What about Yummi-chan and her weird agenda? They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot...
  • Improfanfic is notorious for this, due to various factors. Among the things that can kill an Impro dead:
    - A writer's part is simply too difficult to follow up on, and future writers skip rather than try to tackle it.
    - A series of skips and a complete lack of signups when the queue runs dry more or less torpedoes the fic.
    - The admin for a given story just stops caring, doesn't prod writers, doesn't run queue signups, and probably leaves IFF entirely.
    - The story is in "ending mode" with a fixed final queue, and the last author never bothers writing the last chapter. (This most famously happened to m.t.c.f.f. ULTRA, the original flagship of IFF, which still has not been ended a decade later, and still lists an author who abandoned writing the finale as the final author.)
  • Most plotlines in NationStates end this way, as posters become uninterested or disconnected and move on to other things. It'll be a cold day in the Rejected Realms, as it were, when you see an actual epilogue. The good ones have sequels, though, so it's not as much of a problem as you might think.
  • The Green Wanderer doesn't end with Marrox finally succumbing to his illness, nor does it confirm or deny that Marrox succeeding in redeeming himself. Instead, it ends with Marrox and a goblin named Dollik talking for a while, before they say that "it's a nice day today."

    Web Videos 
  • Red vs. Blue: The season 13 finale ends with the Blood Gulch Crew, aboard Hargrove's ship, having just shut down the Mantises laying siege to the people of Chorus. Tucker has donned The Meta's armor and the rest of the gang have armed themselves with the various other weapons in Hargrove's trophy room. The ship full of mercenaries are about to breach the door and Church enters Bullet Time and records one final message to his friends, saying that The Meta's armor can get them through this fight, but he'll have to use up what processing power he has left to run the suit, and that he'll be gone by the end of the fight. The screen fades to black just before the mercs enter the room, season 14 is an anthology season, and season 15 picks up right onto the next main story arc.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • The episode, "Chef Poo Poo's Kitchen Disaster!" has the titular character making a mess in the kitchen while serving as a substitute for Chef Pee Pee. However, Bowser's mother, Margaret ends the episode by asking if anyone wants to take her clothes off, and the mess hasn't been cleaned up yet.
    • "Cody's Sister!" ends with Junior and Joseph angrily suggesting to end the video after finding out that Cody's sister, Katy already has a girlfriend, a "limited edition, never been opened, 50th anniversary, summertime" Barbie doll. They don't even say goodbye to her before she leaves for Wisconsin, and she's still staying at their house.
    • "The Cat in the Hat" ends with the titular character's head exploding from trying to think of a rhyme for "Orange", and Junior wondering who's going to clean up the mess the Cat made. Cody points out to Junior that the Cat usually cleans up his messes after he makes them, but since the Cat's dead, he can't do that. He then asks Junior when he's going to Military School, and the episode promptly ends without any resolution to either the mess being cleaned up or Junior being punished.
  • In the Third Rate Gamer's review of Yoshi's Island, he parodies The Sopranos' use of this trope in its final episode.
    Third Rate Gamer: This game is dumber than that last episode of The Sopranos where they— [Smash to Black]
  • Most videos in the Ace Attorney According To An AI series end without a clear ending, but #2 and #4 stand out. Those episodes end with court being temporarily adjourned without a verdict being handed down, and are never continued.
  • Ultra Fast Pony sometimes does this:
    • The episode "Making Babies", has the Cutie Mark Crusaders learning how to turn adults into babies and promptly do just that to The Mane Six. The episode then follows the now regressed ponies through several short skits before abruptly ending with no real resolution or explanation for how they're back to normal by the next episode.
    • In "Time", Twilight is visited by somepony that looks just like her and claims to be her from the future, but suspiciously doesn't know information about her past self that she should by all rights know, making her claim of being future! Twilight questionable. But before this can really go anywhere, she is pulled back to wherever it was she came from and nothing in the episode is really resolved.

    Western Animation 
  • Many episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force end arbitrarily with little to no conclusion, the first being "Bus of the Undead".
  • Danger Mouse had several episodes with anticlimactic (non)endings, including "The Tower of Terror".
  • Some of the Looney Tunes shorts would just end abruptly with no real ending.
  • The Animaniacs episode "Ups and Downs" ends with Wakko and Dr. Scratchansniff still stuck in the elevator, right after an elevator maintenance man named Goyt Furman manages to also get himself trapped in the elevator with them. Thankfully, this fanfic resolves the story.
  • The Proud Family once did a Very Special Episode with Penny making friends with a Muslim girl and realizing that several post-September 11th stereotypes about Islam are wrong. After a post-Ramadan dinner that she attended with the family, they come to their house to find it T'Ped and the phrase "GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY" written in spray paint across the roof and front of the house. The episode continues with An Aesop where Penny learns about intolerance and gives a speech, but we never learn who did it or how the family reacts.
  • Teen Titans (2003): "Revved Up" focuses on the Titans' efforts to retrieve a mysterious briefcase critical to their fight against the Brotherhood of Evil. Cut to black the moment Robin opens the case, the contents of which are never revealed afterwards.
  • VeggieTales:
    • The song "The Song of the Cebu" ends this way, to much annoyance on the part of Archibald and the audience in general. Jimmy stated that he wanted his money back.
      Audience: No more song about cebu
      Need another verse or two
      Audience is standing, and leaving,
      Bye-bye moo moo, Bye-bye moo moo, Bye-bye moo moo, moo moo.
    • The show's retelling of the story of Jonah ends extremely abruptly, with Jonah in the middle of a hissy fit after God has rebuked him for wishing death on the repentant city of Nineveh. This follows the original Biblical account, where the story ended equally abruptly.
  • The Simpsons lampshades this trope often.
    • The Season 12 episode "The Great Money Caper" intentionally leaves the entire story unresolved. Just as Lisa is about to reveal an important plot point (after pointing out that, without this bit of info, the events of the episode would seem "absurd, perhaps even insulting to your intelligence,") Otto bursts into the room and yells "Hey, everybody! SURF'S UP!" The scene then cuts to everyone surfing, and the episode ends there.note  The DVD Commentary reveals that they wanted to make the ending as unexplained as possible, as a nod to all "caper" themed movies.
    • In Season 11's "Missionary: Impossible", Homer becomes a missionary, goes to a tropical island, builds a church and then rings the bell so loud a volcano(!) erupts. Just as Homer and a native girl he calls "Lisa Jr." are falling into the lava (presumably to their doom) a PBS-style fundraising pitch cuts in and the episode ends. This tied in to the start of the episode, where a Britcom he's watching on PBS gets cut short by the announcement of a pledge drive. This episode also qualifies as a "Shaggy Dog" Story.note 
    • "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" ends with the Simpsons still trapped on The Island. Come next episode and they're back in Springfield like nothing happened.
    • Crossed with Gainax Ending for "Das Bus", with the audience only knowing the children were saved thanks to a narrator who says they were saved by "well, let's say... Moe". In that case, it's a parody of Lord of the Flies ending.
    • "We're on the Road to D'ohwhere" plays this even further. At the start of this episode, Homer ends up having to drive Bart (who's on a no-fly list) to a correctional facility after a prank, all the while annoyed that he's missing a Las Vegas trip with his bar buddies, and Marge and Lisa have a garage sale. In the very last scene, Lisa checks the answering machine and learns that Marge has been arrested for drug trafficking, Homer is in prison after brawling with a pit boss, and Bart's gone missing. Lisa says she always knew it'd come down to her and Maggie and that she'll look for work in the morning. The episode ends there.
    • In "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson", Marge starts a pretzel company, and to one-up her rivals, Homer hires the Mafia to take them down a notch. However her rivals do some tit-for-tat of their own by hiring the Yakuza, which leads to a massive gang battle on the Simpsons' front lawn. The episode ends abruptly in the middle of the fight with no resolution. According to the audio commentary, the writers were stumped for an ending.
    • "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again": The family is stranded on Antarctica. We then see Bart as an old man but how/when they were rescued is never explained.
    • "E Pluribus Wiggum" never reveals how Ralph's presidential campaign turned out. We see a fake ad asking the people of Springfield to vote for him and then... credits.
    • In "Milhouse of Sand and Fog", Bart builds a dummy of himself for Milhouse to throw off a cliff, to get his parents' attention. Milhouse breaks his glasses and accidentally rams the real Bart off the cliff, although Homer and Marge are able to save him. Milhouse still believes that he has killed Bart and jumps off, into the rapids that end with a steep waterfall drop. Marge asks if Milhouse can swim, to which Bart sarcastically responds, "What do you think?" Then the episode ends abruptly with no resolution.
    • In "Fear of Flying", after Marge has conquered her fear of flying, she and Homer board a plane. The plane then crashes into the ocean, Homer tells Marge that a carp is swimming around her feet, and then the episode cuts to the credits without any explanation of whether or not they were rescued.
  • The Chowder episode "Paint the Town" ends with Chowder leaving Mung Daal, Truffles and Shnitzel stuck in an alternate dimension with no way home...then it suddenly goes to black on their cries for help...which Chowder doesn't hear.
  • The Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Cow Tipping" was about Beavis and Butt-head going cow tipping and it results with Butt-head pushing over a cow that crushes Beavis. Just then the crazy farmer appears and calls the cow as good as dead and gets his chainsaw. Beavis tells the farmer to kill the cow and not fades to black and all we hear is Beavis scream, the chainsaw running and the farmer laughing. By the next episode, Beavis is fine with no explanation.
  • Ned's Newt:
  • Adventure Time:
    • In "The Duke", Finn and Jake are attacked by the Marquis of Nuts and an angry squirrel as the episode suddenly ends.
    • "The Chamber of Frozen Blades" ends with Finn and Jake punching the Ice King for kidnapping Dr. Princess.
    • At the end of "Evicted!", Finn and Jake discover their tree house is being flooded with worms, and they get hypnotized by its king. Do they snap out of it and fight him? (cue the end credits) Three seasons later "King Worm" shows them confronting him, but in a way that makes no sense as a followup.
    • "Box Prince" just ends with the matter of which cat was the real prince left unresolved, the legitimacy of the Box Kingdom being questioned, and Finn getting licked by a bunch of cats.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is to this trope what The Simpsons is to the Halfway Plot Switch and Family Guy is to the Cutaway Gag. Here are some highlights:
    • "Krusty Krab Training Video" ends right before the eponymous video discusses what the Krabby Patty secret formula is. Taken Up to Eleven with the premiere, where it did this with a Smash Cut directly to the post-show commercials, even skipping the credits (nowadays, with reruns the the show squeezes the credits in on the side during the buildup, somewhat killing the joke by making it clear the end was coming up).
    • "I Was a Teenage Gary": SpongeBob and Squidward turn into snails and meow at the moon with Gary, with no explanation how they turned back to normal by the next episode.
    • "Wormy" ends with Sandy coming home and catching Wormy-turned-butterfly, and SpongeBob and the others cheer her for catching the "monster" while she thinks they're happy she came home. The LeapPad adaptation fixes this by adding an extra scene where Sandy explains to SpongeBob and Patrick that the "monster" was Wormy all along.
    • "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV" has everyone and everything in Bikini Bottom (except Plankton) being shrunken down thanks to Mermaid Man's Utility Belt - the episode stops there with no explanation as to how everyone got back to their normal sizes.
    • "Doing Time": Mrs. Puff being sent to solitary confinement turns out to be All Just a Dream. SpongeBob gets arrested for crashing the boat during the test... only for an officer to point out that Mrs. Puff's already served her sentence. This results in another cop out where SpongeBob isn't driving the boat; one of her cell mates is. Mrs. Puff wakes up yet again and says, "Ah, forget it!" to close the episode.
    • "Club SpongeBob" ends with SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward still in the kelp forest with no resolution how they got home.
    • In "Gullible Pants", Mr. Krabs goes into the Krusty Krab, only to see SpongeBob, whom he had left in charge, dancing in front of a crowd that's cowering in fear. Then the episode ends without resolution (only Mr. Krabs being demoted to busboy).
    • "Dear Vikings": After SpongeBob saves the viking ship from sinking, it ends. Do he and Squidward make it back home? We don't know.
    • "Chum Caverns" ends with the Krusty Krab buried underground with captive customers.
    • "That Sinking Feeling" ends with every building sunk under Bikini Bottom and everyone digging it out. It's unknown how they got back to normal afterward.
    • In "Ghoul Fools", the Flying Dutchman sucks everyone into "the void", then the episode shows the Krusty Krab in the void with new workers and customers - then the episode stops with no explanation as to how SpongeBob and co. got out of the void.
    • "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm" ends with Patrick and the people of Bikini Bottom pushing the town elsewhere... then the titular "Alaskan bull worm" lands on them, crushing the city and everybody in it, then the worm says "Ouch" to close out the episode. By the next episode, Bikini Bottom is back in its usual spot and everybody is fine.
    • "Dying for Pie" ends with SpongeBob accidentally tripping while holding one of the explosive pies. The pie hits Squidward in the face, and it blows up Bikini Bottom in a nuclear explosion, with Squidward, who somehow survived, closing out the episode by saying "Ouch". Again, by the next episode Bikini Bottom is back to its usual state.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Agent Doof", the brothers are turned into babies by an invention of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's, and Doof happened to defect to the good side at the time. While the plot with OWCA ended, the subplot with Candace trying to show their mom that the boys turned into babies stops at where everybody in the room except for Candace being turned into babies (who then hopes things go back to normal by the next episode).
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show:
    • The episode "Big Flakes" has the eponymous characters still trapped in the cabin and now reduced to eating nails and wood. It then cuts to outside the cabin, and all the snow has melted except the snow that's still covering the cabin. Everyone outside is oblivious to the snowed-in cabin. The End.
    • "The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball": Stimpy appears to be dying, because "When a cat loses its hairball gland, it's over." Ren suddenly repeats "It's over!" cheerfully. Stimpy hops up to echo him just as happily, and the characters dance briefly before the credits roll.
  • American Dad!:
    • "Max Jets" ends just as Roger was about to explain everything that happened.
    • "Pulling Double Booty" ends with Hayley about to go into another psychotic rage as Stan desperately tries to explain why he's impersonated her boyfriend Bill (he's Stan's body double and he dumped Hayley to try to get with Francine). It was originally going to end with Hayley burning down a forest, but was changed due to a recent forest fire in California.
    • In "Criss-Cross Applesauce: The Ballad Of Billy Jesusworth" Steve's subplot, a Random Events Plot sung to the tune of R Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" is cut short when Francine interrupts his telling of the story.
  • "Retakes Not Included", possibly the most meta episode of Taz-Mania, has no ending because Buddy Boar literally forgot to include the final scene.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
  • The Amazing World of Gumball, like Seinfeld, ends many episodes abruptly right after the climax without any real denouement.
  • The Angry Beavers: The episode where Norbert (who is deliriously ill with an ear infection) and Daggett are invited to Stump's family reunion ends with Norbert's head swelling to tremendous proportions (read: bigger than a mountain) and Daggett and the remaining Stump family members heading for the hills. The final scene is Norbert peeking over the side of the mountain, laughing insanely as he presumably is about to give chase and then...fade to black.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum offends this trope, combined with Status Quo Is God, Reset Button and Negative Continuity. Many episodes end with the characters turning into things, suffering a fatal accident or revealing a dark secret about someone, but by the next episode with no explanation, everything is completely back to normal.
  • One episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends features Mac and Bloo creating an insanely expensive movie for a film festival, and fail spectacularly. Mac laments that even if all but the beginning of the movie hadn't been taped over by Eduardo, the movie still had no ending. Bloo counters that it didn't need an ending, because Smash Cut "The End" Card.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Billy Gets an 'A'", Grim creates a Bizarro Universe when he magically changes Billy's test score to an A and has to travel through time with Mandy to prevent it from happening. Eventually, he and Mandy reach prehistoric times, leading Grim to ask "How will this ever end?" Smash Cut to a "The End" card.
    • Even though not an episode, In "The Schlubs", Grim watches Billy's My Troubled Pony DVD set and Mandy says it has no ending because it was never made. And the pony falls of a volcano which ends the series and Grim was devastated from this.
  • The Adult Swim pilot That Crook'd 'Sipp just ends with Gray finding out her real father is the Swamp Monster and her being too late to stop the wedding between her mom and her fake dad and then a random shootout happens, not showing who survived.
  • The final episode of Duckman concludes with the somewhat messy but successful triple wedding of Eric Duckman and Honey Chicken, King Chicken and Bernice, and Cornfed and Beverly. Then Beatrice, who had been presumed dead for the entire series, and even gave a postmortem final farewell in an early episode, not only shows up alive and well, she's genuinely surprised that anyone thought she ever died. Cornfed, who (apparently) knows the truth, says "I can explain"...and then "TO BE CONTINUED...?" appears on the bottom of the screen. It wasn't.
  • Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat:
    • The episode "Up, Up, and Away" ends with Fu-Fu carrying Dongwa over a sunset, with no explanation of what happened afterwards. Though we assume they made it out okay.
    • "Fur Cut" has both actual and in-universe examples: In-universe is about the story of how Sagwa got the patches on her fur and abruptly ends with her and the dragon planning to stop the forest fire. She ended after she told the truth. The actual episode ends with just Sagwa retelling what exactly happened earlier.
    • "Ba-Do and the Lantern Festival" ends with Ba-Do and Sagwa separated from their family but enjoying the last of the lantern festival... and then the episode just abruptly stops without any explanation as to how Ba-Do got back home. As a result, we're left to assume the Magistrate and Tai-Tai realized one of their daughters and pets were both missing and were able to find them.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water was canceled with its Myth Arc nowhere near completed, as the titular Pirates had only secured eight of the Thirteen Treasures of Rule. To really hammer the point home, while Cartoon Network was showing reruns of the show, they ran a bumper that flat out said the show was never finished and not to hold your breath for an ending.
  • ReBoot infamously ends on a cliffhanger, with Megabyte within the Principal Office and claiming he will begin hunting the protagonists down. There was a conclusion planned in another movie, but over 2 decades later no movie has been made, and no resolution has been televised.
  • Ready Jet Go!: "The Plant From Bortron 7" ends with Mindy announcing that she has planted more seeds. Then, more giant plants emerge, and the kids scream in terror. That's it. That's the ending.
  • Nature Cat: "No Bird Left Behind" ends with the gang stuck with Honduras after Brooks the Oriole reunites with his flock there and Daisy calls Houston who asks her what he can do for her. That's that. The End.
  • The Smurfs (2021) episode "The Majestic 5" ends with Dimwitty, who has recently saved every Smurf from Gargamel, driving off a cliff, causing the Smurfs to start screaming, but the episode ends abruptly from there.

Statler: Why didn't they include an ending?
Waldorf: Because it still wouldn't make this page any better.
Both: Doh-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!


Video Example(s):


You Don't Need an Endi-

Bloo claims as long everything is cool, they don't need an-- [sudden end card].

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoEnding

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