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Series Fauxnale

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He's just become the strongest man on Earth, defeated the King of Demons (twice), turned down a God Job and gotten married. And it's not even the halfway point...

A Series Fauxnale is an installment of a work that was originally planned to serve as its conclusion, but ultimately becomes known as just another (if particularly impressive) episode.

Perhaps the creators were uncertain of the future, so they produce something that can quickly tie up the big loose ends in the event they aren't able to continue, but then they were told they could. Perhaps they actually did complete the Myth Arc and this was the Grand Finale they always planned, but the work's immense popularity has the powers that be demand for them to continue onward. Whatever the reason, a series finale of some kind was created, but the series went on after that, making that previous series finale a "fake" one.

It is likely to have all the attributes of Stock Series Finales. The natural result of a Post-Script Season, though some shows last for many, many years thereafter. If the following years of the work are considered lackluster, there'll be more than a couple of fans that claim Fanon Discontinuity on it, and say that this was when it really ended.


Can overlap with Status Quo Is God if the new season, book or film downplays, reverses, or just plain attempts to ignore anything done in the Series Fauxnale that would prevent the characters from engaging in their usual hijinxs.

Given the nature of this article, several spoilers have been left unmarked. Read at your own Risk.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Done deliberately in Attack on Titan with the "Return to Shiganshina" arc, which gathers all the heroes and villains in the place Where It All Began. A massive battle ensues, tons of characters die and it all ends with Eren and co. reaching the long-rumored basement and learning the truth about the Titans and supposedly solving the Ontological Mystery that drove the series. The anime goes even further by also making it a giant throwback to Season 1 with an OP that directly referenced Season 1's intros, brought back tons of songs during the episodes not heard since then, and even used the Season 1 animation style of thicker black lines and shading during the episode when the basement was finally opened. But alas, the manga would pick up where the story left off after a Time Skip, and the anime would follow suit with The Final Season.
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • The Jinyo arc was likely written as a potential end for the series, taking up most of the third volume (when short-lived Shonen Jump manga tend to end). It leads to Shirogane's Heel–Face Turn, Matsuri restored to male form, and him realizing he's in love with Suzu, resolving a good part of the manga's major conflict... but for the important details that Matsuri goes back to being female after a few hours, and Shirogane no longer has the power to change him back. Shirogane even interrupts Suzu and Matsuri's hug to declare "You're still a far cry from a happy ending!"
    • The end of the tenth volume, right before the series changed magazine, is a two-chapter story where Suzu is given the chance to reverse Matsuri's gender transformation by altering history so it never happened in the first place. Suzu ends up deciding against it because, even if they still want Matsuri to be a boy again, his transformation lead to his life significantly improving in ways they didn't want to lose.
  • A strange example in the Black Cat anime, which reaches the end of the manga with Train defeating Creed and foiling his plans. Then suddenly, with only a single minor scene of Foreshadowing (and an entire story arc revolving around Eve's creator and her origins being strangely absent), several members of the Numbers are revealed to be The Mole for a whole other organization, and the series ends in a four-episode anime-only story arc instead that changes Eve's origins entirely. It can't even be explained away as a Gecko Ending, since the anime started a whole year after the manga ended.
  • Nanako Tsujimura believed The Case Files of Jeweler Richard would end after four volumes, and so introduced a sort of wrap up. Fortunately, sales were good enough that book after book kept coming.
  • Cyborg 009:
    • At first, fans assumed that the Mythos Cyborg arc might have also been intended as a finale. The arc ends very abruptly, with an explosion destroying everything and the narrator noting that there were no traces of any of the cyborgs left behind (leaving viewers to assume they'd died). However, the reality is that Ishinomori had trouble with the editorial department in Weekly Shonen King, who decided to drop the series as they felt the Mythos arc was too confusing and complicated for children to understand. Thus when given the final chapter, he ended things off in a rushed and ambiguous manner.
    • The actual original ending was the Underground Empire arc in 1967; however, fans did not take very well to the bittersweet (yet now considered iconic) finale in which Cyborgs 002 and 009 fall to Earth, dying upon re-entry and becoming a "shooting star" seen by two children. The brother wishes for a toy gun, but the sister wishes for peace. Fan outcry convinced Shotaro Ishinomori to resume the series soon enough, and he threw in a retcon for that ending. Although, as far as the Sega CD game in the '90s goes, this moment is where the series ends, and although the 2001 anime also loosely adapted the prologue of "Conclusion: God's War" as a post-series OVA, this moment was also intended to end the series.
  • It is pretty apparent that Doraemon was supposed to end at Chapter 106, the last chapter of Volume 6. In it, Doraemon returns to the future and bids goodbye to Nobita, who promises to become a good kid even in his absence. However, the popularity of the series and editorial demands led series creators Fujiko Fujio to revert this with the very next chapter, which provides a Deus ex Machina for Doraemon to be able to travel back again.
  • Dragon Ball had multiple instances where the series might have ended, but didn't. Here are some of the better known cases:
    • The Dragon Ball manga initially was not very popular. While Akira Toriyama did take steps to address common criticisms of it as soon as the first arc concluded, the third arc in which The Red Ribbon Army is the central antagonist, was written in such a way that the story could have a satisfying ending if it was indeed canceled. The arc was a hit, however, and so Toriyama decided to continue. The comic becomes turbulent from here on, as Toriyama keeps writing what he thinks will be a good way to end things only to decide to continue instead.
    • The 23rd Budokai, where Goku defeated Piccolo. For the anime, this was the conclusion of the original series with the story continuing as Dragon Ball Z after a Time Skip. While time skips are routine in Dragon Ball, there usually being one between each Story Arc, this was the longest one yet (and would remain so until the one after the Cell Saga), which is a large part of why the anime adaptation treated this as the end of Dragon Ball and what came after as the Sequel Series Dragon Ball Z. In the manga, Master Roshi broke the fourth wall to confirm that the story will in fact be continuing.
    • The end of the Cell Saga very much does feel like a finale, with Goku dying in one last Heroic Sacrifice while Passing the Torch to his son Gohan, who finally unlocks the great potential that's been hinted at ever since his introduction years earlier and defeats the Big Bad who Goku couldn't. It actually was the finale of the Re-Cut Dragon Ball Z Kai before it was Un-Canceled.
    • Ironically, Dragon Ball GT was considered this for a long while for the Dragon Ball series. Then, 20 years later, after the warm reception to the Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! special short, the folks over at Toei decided to try their luck again with Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, and Dragon Ball Super, both retconning GT and fulfilling this trope at once.
  • Durarara!! ended in 2010 but was surprisingly renewed for another season in 2014. It helped that the first season only adapted the first 3 books of the series, and that it ended with a few lingering plot threads to be potentially explored in future episodes.
  • The Southern Cross story arc of Fist of the North Star (the first ten chapters of the manga and the first 22 episodes of the anime) was written so that it could stand on its own in case the manga wasn't picked up. Shin's status as Kenshiro's Token Motivational Nemesis (being the guy who engraved Ken's seven scars and stole his girlfriend) is cemented afterward when the manga continued beyond his death.
  • Fushigi Yuugi gives us an epic battle between Nakago and the Suzaku Seishi (and Seiryuu and Suzaku themselves!) in Tokyo before fast-forwarding to three and a half months later to symbolically wrap things up with Cherry Blossoms. This was supposed to be the Grand Finale for both the anime and the manga, but... y'know.
  • GaoGaiGar has a similar example to that of Pretty Cure's, with Big Bad Pasder being defeated for good in episode 30. Then the Primevals happened. This one's entirely a case of Your Princess Is in Another Castle!. It had only filled out half the episodes of any Brave Series and made it known by revealing King J-der's lovingly animated design and Stock Footage.
  • Happened multiple times with Gintama:
    • Episode 201 abruptly ended with Kagura breaking the fourth wall and saying "Happy Merry Last Episode!" followed by the usual credits sequence being replaced with a montage of moments from throughout the show's history. Despite the strong implication that this was meant to be the end, the show returned for another season the following year.
    • Following another 64 episodes, the anime seemingly ended for good with the 2013 release of a Big Damn Movie that acted as a Grand Finale. However, the success of the movie led to the show being revived again in 2015. The season premier even poked fun at the whole affair by having Gintoki give a press conference where he apologized for the show having returned again despite the seeming finality of the film.
    • Meanwhile, the manga seemingly reached its conclusion with Silver Soul, an epic arc that brought back nearly every character who'd ever appeared in the series for a huge Save the World plot. Then, at the last moment, it was revealed that the series would continue online with an epilogue arc that ran for another 36 chapters before finally ending once and for all.
    • Then, in 2018, the anime began its adaptation of Silver Soul, with this season promised as the last one for real this time. Despite this, the season once again finished with the characters breaking the fourth wall to apologize for the lack of a proper ending, followed by an announcement that another movie would be released in 2021 to finish the story. As if to lampshade the whole thing, said movie is titled Gintama: The Very Final.
  • The second season of Hell Girl ultimately became this due to a third season coming along. In the second season finale, Ai becomes mortal and sacrifices herself to save a young girl, resulting in Hell Correspondence dissolving and each member going their separate ways. Come the third season, however, and Ai gets revived and forced to reunite the group to continue making deals with mortals.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was the very first TV anime of Seven Arcs and was The Anime of the Game to boot, so it ends in a rather final way with the Big Bad dead, the MacGuffins safely secured, Fate having a tearful farewell with Nanoha, the last scenes showing everything going back to the way they were, and... whoops, looks like Seven Arcs' first attempt at a series was successful enough to kickstart a franchise! Contrast the finales of the subsequent seasons, whose "Where Are They Now?" Epilogues are unambiguous in its intent of setting things up for the next season.
  • The Pain arc from Naruto which ended with Naruto returning to the village as a beloved hero, considering his beginnings as a lonely outcast, it feels conclusive to his character as a whole and the series could've ended there perfectly (for some fans they wish that was the case), if it wasn't for the dangling threads of a still missing Sasuke, Tsunade being put in a coma and Danzo taking control of Konoha, and Tobi's evil plot. But barring that, there's the Fourth Shinobi World War which serves as a very definite Final Battle for all involved and the Final Battle ends with Naruto and Sasuke finally reconciling, aside from a few loose ends being left unwrapped, like the fates of Orochimaru and Team Taka, there was the Distant Finale which felt like the definitive conclusion and finally answered which were the Official Couples. This of course was just the platform for the franchise's New Era Project consisting of Naruto Gaiden, Boruto: Naruto the Movie and Boruto: Naruto Next Generation.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The end of the Diamond and Pearl series is significant in that it's the first series that didn't contain any kind of obvious Sequel Hook for the next generation, with Ash simply returning home to Pallet Town after his journey in Sinnoh. It's also notable as the official sendoff for Brock, who had been a mainstay since Episode 5 of the original series; he explicitly tells Ash that he's changing his goal and can no longer continue traveling with him, thus putting their partnership to an end after 13 long years. It's not too hard to see this episode as something of a Grand Finale for the "classic era" of the anime, especially as the next series served as a Soft Reboot that reset Ash and overhauled many other aspects. Every series since has similarly retooled the show to fit a certain direction, each one more different than the last.
    • The end of the XY series also gives off a feeling of finality, as for the first time a series ended with a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue sequence (featuring Ash's rivals no less) and montages of the highlight moments of the (human) party members, with Ash's being a full-fledged Credits Montage. The episode even ends with "And to each [their] own way" rather than the usual "Next Time - A New Beginning!" However, this was not because this was the end of the anime,note  but because much of the staff who had been on the anime for years were leaving at once. note 
  • Pretty Cure:
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica ended with Madoka becoming a goddess, and rewriting the laws of the universe so that magical girls wouldn't become witches. Thanks to runaway popularity, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion appeared, introducing new conflict between Madoka and Homura, and ending on a Sequel Hook. Several years on, though, it seems likely that the sequel movie itself was an inversion, since nothing more than vague implications that a followup might eventually come out have been produced.
  • Sailor Moon (both the manga and original anime) was supposed to have ended with original Big Bad Queen Metalia's defeat, but the manga persisted for another 46 chapters and the TV show for another four seasons. This was especially noticeable in the anime, as the first season finale was very clearly intended to be the end of the story, complete with the Sailor Senshi all losing their powers and memories after Metalia's defeat. Because of this, the first two episodes of the second season had to hastily reassemble the girls and give them their powers back to fight a new threat.
  • The sports fest arc of School Rumble ends with Harima and Eri dancing together and it even says "THE END" (well, not really).
  • Sgt. Frog sort of does this in Episode 51. In this episode, the Keroro ("A.R.M.P.I.T.") Platoonnote  receives a message from headquarters ordering them to return to Keron... or they will die. There are even scenes that show them packing everything up, and erasing everyone's memories (including the Hinatas'). It turns out though, that they only had to return for a regular medical checkup, and as a result they never really had to leave "Pekopon" after all.
  • Parodied in the first episode of Space Dandy, which ends with almost the entire main cast dying when Dandy's ship explodes and takes out an entire nearby planet, complete with "The End". Then the next episode preview happens, with QT asking "Didn't we all just die?", and the second episode continues on as if it didn't happen. This actually becomes plot important in the actual finale, as it foreshadowed Dandy's timeline-hopping nature long before it was revealed.
  • Sword Art Online had this with its Alicization arc. SAO was originally a web novel written from 2001-2008 with Alicization being the final major story arc completed before the series became an officially published light novel in 2009. It has many hallmarks of a series finale, with the Underworld project being the culmination of the Seed technology developed by Akihiko Kayaba, Kirito's worst and oldest enemy, the leader of Laughing Coffin a.k.a. the "Prince of Hell" finally returning for one last showdown after being missing for much of the series, another one of Kirito's worst enemies Nobuyuki Sugou also playing a major role as a background antagonist, and almost all of the friends and allies he and Asuna have made throughout the franchise such as the original Aincrad crew, Sinon, General Eugene, Sakuya & Alicia, the Sleeping Knights, and even the digital ghost of Kayaba all returning in his darkest hour. For 10 years, Alicization was indeed the ending of the franchise... but in 2018, Reki Kawahara began publishing the beginning of the Unital Ring arc, which continues the story beyond Alicization's end.
  • Episode 52 of Voltron (which is where the original source material of GoLion, which they dubbed over to make Voltron ran out) has the Voltron Force successfully attack Planet Doom, defeating Zarkon and Lotor, destroying their armies, and freeing all the slaves. Then the American studio that did the dubbing commissioned twenty more episodes, which had Planet Doom suddenly become a threat again, featured very bad writing, and ended on an episode that didn't really resolve anything.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Deliberately invoked during The Death of Superman storyline. The last issue of the second arc, "Funeral for a Friend," ends with Superman's body being returned to its final resting place, Lois accepting that her fiancee is gone now, Luthor getting past being unable to be the one to kill Superman himself, and Jonathan Kent apparently succumbing to a grief-induced heart attack as the last page shows him flatlining. The title of the story was even called "The End," and both the title and issue credits came at the end of the comic, and the issue was filled with tons of Continuity Porn flashing back to key events from Superman comics since the Post-Crisis reboot began. After that all the main Superman books went on hiatus for a couple months, with only a few specials and one-shots getting published during that period, before the books finally came back and began the "Reign of the Supermen" arc. In reality, DC was never intending to end Superman for good, and only put the books on hold to help build up the hype for Superman's eventual return.
    • Also invoked years earlier with Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, a story intended as a finale for the character of Superman before he was to be rebooted in the miniseries The Man of Steel.
    • Supergirl (2005) has two false conclusions. Knowing he was being kicked out of the book, Sterling Gates used his final story arc Day of the Dollmaker to tie up most of his run's last ongoing subplots. By the end, Supergirl is an experienced super-hero who has greatly matured since her career's beginnings, has defeated most of her enemies and is presently happy with her life. You would be forgiven to think it was Post-Crisis Supergirl's final story, but her book went on for eight issues more. This is not my Life, the book's final arc, ends with Kara making several life-changing choices, and subtly asking the readers to not forget about her before the Supergirl (2011) reboot.
    • Reign of Doomsday worked as a grand finale by the Post-Crisis Superman before the 2011 reboot. By the end of the story, the Superman family is alive and well, Earth has been saved, and most of Superman's enemies are dead, banished to the Phantom Zone or similarly disabled.
  • Batman: After Bruce Wayne's apparent death in 2009, the character of Batman received his own finale with Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? – once again it was a two-part out-of-continuity story, with one part in the Batman comic and the other in Detective Comics. Both series then went on hiatus, replaced by the three-part miniseries Battle For the Cowl. Afterwards, both series then picked up right they'd left off, with Dick Grayson as the new Batman.
  • Mister Miracle (2017) is an interesting case in that while it ostensibly fits in with canon of the DCU and especially the New Gods mythos, it is a very self-contained story designed with finality in mind, shattering the status quo entirely by the endOrion, Highfather, and Darkseid are all dead, the war on New Genesis and Apokolips begins to wane, Scott Free and Barda stay Happily Married and with children, etc.. However, the narrative itself makes it clear that whatever reality Scott and the series takes place in isn't real, implicitly because of some kind of Lotus-Eater Machine, but leaving specifcs up in the air, allowing the possibility for future writers of the character to pull him out and return him to the "real" DCU. The book itself is also seemingly aware of this, as evinced by Scott's final conversation with Oberon:
    Oberon: Scott, listen, that world, that other world Metron showed you. All those crises and continuities that never really make sense. That world full of superheroes who always end up hunky-dory? You think that's more "real" than that wife of yours? [...] Kid, all this, it'll break your heart. Can't escape that. But if you're good, if you stay good, you'll know... there's someone out there who'll help you put it back together.
  • A company-wide version of this happened just before the New 52, with all the characters with running series "signing off" In-Universe at the end.
  • The intended finale of Milligan's Shade, the Changing Man was supposed to be a Downer Ending, at the end of the "A Season In Hell" arc. Executive Meddling forced the creator's hand, and what followed may have made a better story under a different title (as Milligan probably intended.)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) Issue 50 certainly has that final issue feel to it — Dr. Robotnik was dead, Sally (who was thought to be dead) was alive, everyone was safe from Robotnik's tyranny and, if the series stopped there, things wouldn't have felt off. Granted, though, this was probably due to Executive Meddling forcing them to alter the comic.
  • Spider-Man: On one extreme, it could be argued that the controversial One More Day served as the 'finale' to the original uninterrupted 1963-2007 continuity for the original 616 variation of the wall-crawler, but many other fans argue the conclusion of Nick Spencer's run on the Amazing Spider-Man title is a more fitting conclusion, as it addresses and resolves an entire Dork Age of stories from the last decade, including the equally divisive Sins Past and culminating in the happiest both Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson had been in years, with a hopeful future for their daughter and the ultimate defeat of the devil himself, Mephisto, teased.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers (Marvel) may have ended with Issue 75, which functioned as a Grand Finale: The Autobots and Decepticons unite to save Cybertron from Unicron, resulting in a large battle in which several people are killed (including commanders Optimus Prime and Scorponok) but the Transformers emerge triumphant. The title ran for another five issues, during which Optimus Prime was resurrected.
    • The title was originally planned as a four-part miniseries, with Issue 4 (actually entitled "The Last Stand") ending with all the Decepticons collapsing after their fuel is poisoned. Two endings were prepared: One had Optimus Prime making a speech declaring the end of the war but the one used had new Big Bad Shockwave suddenly appearing and gunning down the remaining Autobots.
  • The Transformers (IDW) had a deliberate example. Issue 31 of the ongoing series is purposely written so that it can be used as the final issue for the entire IDW continuity. As such, exactly what's happened between the previous issues and Issue 31 is unclear. It takes place hundreds of years in the future, Ironhide and Alpha Trion are some of the few remaining members of the original Autobots, the Transformers live on Gorlam Prime instead of Cybertron, and Megatron and Optimus Prime have disappeared. This has since been Jossed; The Transformers: Dark Cybertron saw Gorlam Prime destroyed and left Ironhide concerned and suffered with depression that the happy ending he saw will not come to pass.
    • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Just in case editorial had the series cut short, James Roberts, the author, did script a finale to conclude the series, but since he was given the go ahead for Season 2, this all got released during the season's second arc. It has all the signs of "finality" in it, as the mysteries set up in the very first issue of Season 1 (Brainstorm's briefcase, how the Sparkeater got into the ship, who sent the foreboding message from the future) are answered in a time travel plot that also details the start of the war (notably Megatron's birth), and we even learn how the ship the series takes place on, the Lost Light, was created. It also closes out the trilogy of Flashback arcs that were sporadically told throughout Roberts's and Costa's runs.

    Fan Works 
  • The Halloween Unspectacular series was supposed to end with the conclusion of its Myth Arc in its fifth volume in 2014, due to the author getting tired of coming up with new entries each year. This seemed to hold up as 2015 came and went with no sixth volume, only for said sixth volume to come out in 2016, kickstarting a new Myth Arc and effectively serving as a Continuity Reboot, all thanks to the author getting back into the swing of things.
  • I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC: After ten years of Marvel and DC butting heads and comparing their movies, the failure of Justice League (2017) and the hype behind Avengers: Infinity War has pretty much made the DC heroes disillusioned as hell about their franchise and the vitriol their arguments set off. Fed up with how their cinematic universe has been mocked to hell and back, the DC heroes concede that Marvel has won the debate. Both sides shake hands and head out to see Infinity War as friends, with Spider-Man telling a customer that Stan's Bar is closed... Then Deadpool appears and reveals he's hatching a plan with Rorschach to get the heroes to complain about each other again.
  • The Loud House fanfiction Lincoln's Memories: Someone in the comments of "Nothing But the Tooth" thought it was going to be the last chapter, when really the last one was the next in line.
  • Notably averted by The Pokémon Squad. The series was originally meant to end with Season 7 due to a lack of new episode ideas, so three episodes were written to send it off: "Sailor Pikachu Gets Put on a Bus", "The Exiting", and "The End". The series managed to survive, so the three episodes were scrapped (two other episodes, "We Lied!" and "Sailor 'Chu R" were written after the series was Un-Canceled, but since the endings were scrapped, so were these).
  • Ultra Fast Pony's Season 1 finale, "The Longest Episode", plays out like an ending for the entire series. It ends with an oddly sincere Friendship Moment between the main cast, and is followed by a text "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. Then the end credits are extended, with the series creator Wacarb thanking everyone who's helped or inspired him. However, in his notes on the video, Wacarb states that he fully intends to continue with a season two. Sure enough, the second season followed, a few months later.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien:
    • Aliens ends with the only known xenomorphs in the entire universe being turned into a cloud of vapor the size of Nebraska in a thermonuclear explosion. Yes, it was a good bet that other eggs existed somewhere out there, but the chances we'd run across them by accident was literally astronomical. Of course, the writers found another way...
    • Sigourney Weaver came back for Alien³ only on the condition that Ripley be killed so that she wouldn't be asked to make any more Alien movies. A few years later, she changed her mind.
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes was originally meant to be the final entry in Planet of the Apes franchise, which is why it ends with Earth being blown up by a nuclear weapon. However, the producers wanted to squeeze more money out of what had become a Cash Cow Franchise, and decided to continue the series by using Time Travel to take the surviving protagonists back to the period in history just before the apes took over.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum ended with Jason Bourne helping blow the whistle on Treadstone and its successor agency Blackbriar. The franchise was subsequently followed by two more movies, The Bourne Legacy (an interquel that gave this film a Happy Ending Override), and a direct sequel, Jason Bourne.
  • The Final Destination, the fourth film in the Final Destination series, was meant to close out the franchise for good (hence the The in the title) and offered a (controversial) reason for Death to allow the premonitions to happen. It promptly became the highest-grossing film in the series and was followed by Final Destination 5. Subverted in a way, in that the twist ending reveals Final Destination 5 is actually a prequel, thus leaving The Final Destination as the finale chronologically.
  • Friday the 13th:
  • Furious 7 was built up to be the Grand Finale of The Fast and the Furious series, even going as far as to give a fitting sendoff to Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car accident prior to the movie's release. However, Vin Diesel signed up for three more installments.
  • Godzilla:
    • Destroy All Monsters was going to be the last Godzilla film, as it takes place in the future, the Big Bad is killed, and they all live happily ever after. But it wasn't.
    • It would be attempted again with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, where everything comes full circle with the birth of a monster from the very thing that killed the original Godzilla to the death of the then current Godzilla. After Godzilla (1998), however, Toho decided to show everyone how it's done by making more Godzilla movies, coming to a head with Godzilla: Final Wars.
    • And even Godzilla: Final Wars wasn't the true end to the franchise! After the success of the 2014 American remake, Toho decided to bring the series out of retirement and released Shin Godzilla two years later.
  • Halloween:
  • Iron Man 3 was made so that it could serve as a conclusion to the Iron Man character just in case Robert Downey Jr. did not want to reprise the role in future MCU films (as it was the final movie on his original contract with Marvel), which is presumably why it ended with Tony destroying all of his Iron Man suits and promising to devote himself to his girlfriend Pepper. While Downey would go on to play the character for another 6 years until Avengers: Endgame, no other solo Iron Man movies were ever produced.
  • James Bond: Spectre ends in a way that it simultaneously wraps up Craig-Bond's story, while also having a note of And the Adventure Continues. Daniel Craig was contracted to appear in one more film but struck a deal with the studios; of course "James Bond Will Return", but for a time it was touch-and-go on whether or not Craig would be back. He finally confirmed he would be reprising the role for one final outing, No Time to Die.
  • When A Madea Family Funeral was released in 2019, Tyler Perry said that it would be the last outing of the Madea character. However, a few years later, he worked out a deal with Netflix for a new film, A Madea Homecoming, which furthermore was meant as a backdoor pilot for a prequel TV series made with Showtime.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean :
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was advertised in multiple media as The Final Chapter of the Epic Trilogy since it was supposed to be the end of the series. Despite that, there have been two more movies and one more coming in the way (although they follow a different story that is slightly connected to the first three).
    • In a similar way Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was announced as The Final Adventure Begins which make fans wonder if this was supposed to be the final movie or just the beginning of the final adventure (which could be from 2 or 3 movies). The movie itself can work as a conclusion with Will and Elizabeth finally ending up together and Jack Sparrow sailing in the Black Pearl to the horizon in a similar way to the first movie finale until we get to The Stinger where it turns out Davy Jones has revived and tries to kill Will and Elizabeth.
  • Saw III was clearly intended to finish the Saw series since it wraps up everything pretty nicely. There was even a box set released of the "Saw Trilogy". A few Sequel Hooks were added (Jigsaw's brief flashback, as well as the wax-covered tape and Amanda's letter) so that the series could continue. And then Saw 3D aka Saw: the Final Chapter was meant to be the last before Jigsaw was announced.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was supposed to be the Grand Finale for Star Trek: The Original Series and the Star Trek franchise itself, since the TV spin-offs didn't exist at the time. A lot of this came down to the Troubled Production and lukewarm reception to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, leaving Paramount with feelings that that the franchise was at an end, but wanting to recoup something of the bloated budget of TMP. Further, it was known that Leonard Nimoy had cooled to playing Spock any more note , and with no Spock, there really was no Star Trek as he was the show's Breakout Character. But a couple of funny things happened on the way to shutting the franchise down — first, general audience reaction to test screenings was overwhelmingly positive, leading executives to think they could have a hit on their hands. Further, Leonard Nimoy was having second thoughts about completely parting ways with Star Trek.note  Because of this, and fan despondency surrounding the scene of Spock's death, which was much more final in the original test cut, a scene was shot with Spock putting his katra into McCoy's mind in case Nimoy wanted to return for any sequels.
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was intended to be the last movie made, while chronologically Return of the Jedi was meant to be the Grand Finale. However, in 2012, Disney brought the rights to Lucasfilm and decided to develop the Sequel Trilogy, with The Rise of Skywalker being the true finale of the saga (though Disney will still be making movies after the release of Episode IX, no future movies will officially be part of the Skywalker Saga).
  • Terminator:
    • The original alternate ending of Terminator 2: Judgment Day showed the now aged Sarah and the grown up John playing with his child at the park.
    • VERY averted with Salvation, Geny.. Gine... the fifth one, and Dark Fate, each of which was supposed to be the beginning of a second trilogy. However, none of them made quite enough money at the box office for those trilogies to materialize.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon was going to be the last Transformers movie, as it ended with Cybertron being destroyed and all of the Decepticons killed off. The film was obviously a box-office hit, so the series was Retooled with Age of Extinction.

  • The Alex Rider series ended pretty conclusively in Scorpia Rising, with Alex losing Jack, the closest thing he had to a living parental figure and moving to America, seemingly done with adventuring for good. To drive the point home, the next book was a prequel. Then Horowitz decided to continue the series anyway. By the end of Never Say Die, Jack has turned out to be alive after all and Alex is back in England, the status quo restored.
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness was a six-book series with the last one published in 2009, ending with the main characters heading into the unknown. Ten years later, Michelle Paver decided to write three more sequels, with the first, Viper's Daughter, released in 2020.
  • The third book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series finished off all the content from the web comics, with a big "THE END" at the end of the book, but because the series became more popular in book form, the books continued for more installments.
  • The Harry Potter series was supposed to end definitively with Deathly Hallows. Then came a sequel, not in book form, but in theater: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a Spin-Offspring that deals with the aftermath of the "happy ending" of the last book, which turns out to be not that happy. And of course, there is no shortage of post-series supplementary materials churned out regularly by the author, many of which were released before Cursed Child was even a thing.
  • When, after five books, L. Frank Baum grew tired of writing Land of Oz novels despite their popularity, he issued The Emerald City of Oz in 1910 as a finale to the series, going so far as to state in the final chapter that with Oz now magically cut off from the rest of the world, there would be no further installments, as Dorothy could no longer communicate with him. Three years later, the financially struggling Baum, finding that his non-Oz books weren't selling, resumed the series with The Patchwork Girl of Oz, offering the in-universe explanation that the "wireless telegraph" enabled further communication between him and Dorothy. Thereafter Baum published seven more Oz volumes before his death, and the official series, under various writers, continued until 1963.
  • An in-universe example in Misery, where Annie forces Paul to write a sequel to Misery's Child, even though he had intended it to be the last of the series, and had gleefully killed off the main character.
  • Mog: "Goodbye, Mog" was initially meant to be the last book in the series and Mog appeared to be dead, but then "Mog's Christmas Calamity" got written and she was alive and well again.
  • The Mortal Instruments was supposed to end with the third book, City of Glass. Compared to later series finales, it doesn't have as many hanging plot threads, and could have served as a satisfiable finale. The second half of the series was originally conceived as a standalone spin-off centered on Simon Lewis. This is why the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, puts so much focus on him, but the following two books don't.
  • Ramona Quimby: Ramona Forever definitely reads as if it were meant to be the last book of the series, ending with the birth of a new Quimby sister and with Ramona reflecting on all the past misadventures of her young life, with subtle Shout-Outs to events from the previous books. But fifteen years later, Beverly Cleary followed it up with the true series finale, Ramona's World.
  • Most famously, "The Final Problem" for Sherlock Holmes, in which Arthur Conan Doyle killed Holmes off in a struggle with Professor Moriarty. Because of public outcry, he eventually retconned the death and resumed the series.
  • Warrior Cats: The Last Hope was intended to be the finale of the series as a whole, with there being a large climatic battle sequence, cameos and appearances from many characters, and a new era of sorts for the Clans. While new books did get released, the next few were mostly prequels. However, the releases of Dovewing's Silence, Bramblestar's Storm, and then further arcs and side books quickly proved that the series wasn't going to end soon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 has the fifth season finale, which wraps up most of the major character arcs, and brings the plot to a circle from the beginning, with the idea that the characters will be able to try to find a new home again, this time with a unified front and the benefit of experience, and looking to the future with hope. It even concludes with the credits "End of Book 1", making it clear that the first five seasons are of a piece.
  • 24:
  • 1000 Ways to Die was supposed to finish up with Death #1000, which showed a woman visiting her elderly father as he's about to die in the hospital from natural causes (and the narrator concluding that 1000 Ways to Die isn't just a sleazy show depicting the many horrific ways people can die, but it's also a guide to how to live, as most of the people who died on the show weren't good people, while the old man who died led a good, morally upstanding life). Then, the show was un-cancelled...
  • The half season episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. titled "Crystal Hawks" was structured in case the series wasn't extended for a full season: Brisco catches John Bly, forms a partnership with Lord Bowler, resolves a No One Could Survive That! moment from the pilot, and finally gets some vague information on the series MacGuffin, the Orb. The final scene where Socrates tells Brisco that Bly had escaped Diabolus ex Machina style was put in once the full season order had come through.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't renewed for a Season 6 until about a week before the Season 5 finale aired. Thus, said finale is designed very much like an ending (even being titled "The End"), and wraps up with Coulson and May leaving the team and going to Tahiti in order to spend Coulson's last days in peace. Meanwhile, the rest of the team flies off on another mission.
  • All in the Family:
    • "The Stivics Go West", which wrapped up Season 8 with Mike, Gloria, and Joey bidding a tearful goodbye to Archie and Edith and moving to California. Norman Lear had indeed intended for this to be the show's finale, but CBS executives (along with Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton) convinced him to let the show continue for another season without his participation.
    • It can be argued that the show's actual finale, "Too Good Edith", was this as well, since All in the Family was then Retooled into Archie Bunker's Place, which lasted for four more seasons. Ironically enough, that show — and thus the entire 13-year story of Archie Bunker — never got a proper finale.
  • Arrested Development:
    • The Season 1 finale, "Let 'Em Eat Cake", which ends with George Bluth escaping prison, Tobias and Lindsay reconciled, George Michael deciding not to pursue Maeby, and Michael Bluth deciding to let the family fend for themselves.
    • Almost of the show's season finales were like this. Most noticeably, the Season 3 finale, "Development Arrested", was the actual finale for many years until the show was brought back for a Netflix revival in 2013.
  • Arrow:
    • If it weren't for confirmation of a Season 4 literally right as it ended, you'd be certain that Season 3 was its last. Oliver retires to live a life with Felicity knowing that the city is in safe hands with the other superheroes around in Black Canary and Speedy, Diggle is hinted at becoming the new Green Arrow, Ray gets plenty of set-up for his spin-off show, Malcolm becomes the new Ra's Al-Ghul thanks to his deal with Oliver, and Nyssa returns to the League of Assassins in order to bide her time until she can avenge Sara's murder. Even in the flashbacks, Oliver is show to be capable of returning to Starling City when he wants but holds it off for his own reasons. Essentially all the major players and plots are accounted for in a fashion that doesn't leave viewers hanging in case the show couldn't have gotten renewed.
    • Similarly, despite already being renewed for Season 6, the Season 5 finale also had all the markings of a Grand Finale — it returns to Lian Yu, Where It All Began for both the show and the Arrowverse in general and which ends up entirely destroyed; has a Rogues Gallery Showcase of many of the series' most popular antagonists; and features a Final Battle with a Big Bad whose origins trace all the way back to Oliver's actions as the Hood back in Season 1. Plus, the Myth Arc of having flashbacks depicting Oliver's "five years in hell" backstory finally come to a conclusion, bringing the series full circle as it revisits the show's opening scene of Oliver being rescued from the island.
  • Happened to Babylon 5 when it appeared that it was going to be canceled at the end of its fourth season (five seasons had been planned). So J. Michael Straczynski (the show's creator and writer) squeezed the first half of the fifth season's plot into the three penultimate episodes at the end of Season 4 in order to resolve most of the major story arcs, resulting in season four's second half containing nothing but Wham Episodes. Then the show got Un-Canceled, Season 5 happened on schedule, and JMS had to scramble to fill the gap in season five's plot by stretching out what was planned as a minor continuing storyline into a half-season-long arc. Most fans agree that the first half of season five is the weakest stretch of the entire show. It's worth noting that they filmed the last episode of the fourth season as the series-ending finale, but rather than run it there it was pushed to the actual end of the series.
  • The Season 4 mid-season premiere of Battlestar Galactica, "Sometimes a Great Notion", was written with the intent of serving as a finale in the event that the 2007 writer's strike prevented the remaining episodes from being made. It would have been quite the cliffhanger.
  • Blake's 7: The third season ends with the destruction of the protagonists' almost-magical spaceship, the Liberator. It also kills off both chief villain Servalan and (off screen) original series lead Blake, leading to hasty resurrections when the show came back. In the fourth season, the actual series finale very strongly suggested the protagonists were all killed, but left a little wiggle room in case there was a fifth season. (There wasn't.)
  • The Season 10 finale of Bones ended this way, with Angela and Hodgins deciding not to move to Paris after all but to stay in DC, Booth recovering from his lapse into his old gambling addiction and reconciling with Brennan, and the two of them deciding to leave DC for a quieter life in Kansas, in order to protect both Christine and their as-yet-unborn second child. The show was still on the bubble at the time, so the producers wanted to end on a quieter And the Adventure Continues note in case this was the last season, but the show was renewed shortly before the finale aired.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Though not explicitly, the Season 4 finale was written to invoke a feeling of And the Adventure Continues, since Vince Gilligan was not sure about a fifth season due to struggles between AMC and Sony.
    • Season 5's second cour was dubbed "The Final Season" and its definitive ending is partly what made the series so famous. However, the franchise continued with the spin-off prequel series Better Call Saul, and the announcement of a sequel film focusing on Jesse Pinkman after the events of Season 5.
  • The Brittas Empire: "In The Beginning..." was intended to be the final episode of the show, and was a Distant Finale which gave everyone a happy ending. However, the BBC renewed it for two more seasons, although it was made without the original writers or Laura.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: When The WB refused to renew Buffy for a sixth season, Joss Whedon assumed that this meant the end of the show, so he ended it in the most spectacular and final way possible: by killing Buffy. This left him with a very difficult hole to dig out of, so to speak, when UPN picked the show up for another two seasons.
    • Graduating high school at the end of season 3 also would have been a perfect series finale.
  • Bunk'd was originally set to end with the third season finale "Up, Up and Away", given that the Ross kids have accepted once-in-a-lifetime opportunities with their family and since none of them will be here next summer, Camp Kikiwaka has to be sold. In the end, they sell it to their longtime friend Lou. However, the show has gotten extreme popularity, and because of that, it continued on after its third season without the Rosses from there, and eventually became the first live-action Disney Channel show to exceed four seasons.
  • Castle ended its seventh season on a quieter note without any glaring cliffhangers, unless you count whether Beckett will decide to accept the rank of Captain or take Kaufmann up on his suggestion to run for State Senate, and ended with Castle and his family and friends having dinner together and looking forward to the future. As with the Arrow and Bones examples cited above, the series was on the bubble at the time the finale was produced, but renewed around the time it aired and lasted one more season.
  • Central Park West's first season concluded with an episode that functioned as this, given the show was in danger of being cancelled due to middling ratings. Lead character Stephanie Wells returns to her publisher job (having been shuffled off to a retreat in the previous episode) and reasserts her dominance at Communique, humiliating her managing editor in the process, before she and her husband decide to leave New York and take their chances back in Seattle, having had enough of the politics and backstabbing and wanting to save their marriage. Despite this feeling of finality, the episode did set up additional story arcs, including newspaper columnist Alex deciding to fake her pregnancy so she can marry Peter Fairchild, and a media tycoon comes to New York and enlists stock broker Gil to help him take over Rush Media.
  • Charmed:
    • In Season 1, the episode "Wicca Envy" was meant to act as the finale should the show not get renewed for more episodes. It features the closure of the Rex/Hannah story arc and features a nice uplifting ending where the sisters proclaim themselves "witches for life".
    • The seventh season ended with the gals forsaking magic and assuming new identities, due to the possibility that the show might not be renewed.
  • Chuck: Since the show lived in a state of perpetual doubt, it was peppered with a good number of them.
    • Season 2 had "Chuck Versus the Ring", with Chuck and Morgan both quitting the Buy-More only to return the very next season, Chuck's nemesis dying a Heroic Death, and Chuck losing the Intersect only to get a new, more powerful one.
    • Season 3 had "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", in which Chuck's nemesis died and Chuck and Sarah resolve their Unresolved Sexual Tension, and "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" has the Buy-More destroyed only to be rebuilt by the CIA in time for the next season.
    • Season 4 was originally planned as a 13-episode season, before being extended to 24; and the show's future was still in doubt. The mid-season one was "Chuck Versus the Push Mix", where Ellie gives birth to Clara and Chuck and Sarah get engaged. Episode 24 ended with Chuck and Sarah getting married, Vivian happily reunited with her father (and leaving the newlyweds Volkoff Industries), Chuck and Sarah getting the team back together for their own private spy venture... and Morgan becoming the Intersect. The title? Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger.
  • The intended finale of Citizen Smith got turned into a Fauxnale due to Executive Meddling. Originally, the series was going to end with Wolfie Smith being chased out of Tooting by an irate local gangster. The BBC decided that they didn't want the series to have a Downer Ending though, and so they took an episode that was originally intended for the middle of the final season and repurposed it as a Christmas Special, implying that the whole mess seen in the finale blew over and Smith's life went back to normal.
  • Community:
    • With its lagging ratings and mid-season hiatus, the series' continuation into a fourth season was uncertain. The third season finale ended with a Last Episode Theme Reprise, a relatively happy ending for the main characters, and a sense that "if it ends here... that's not too bad."
    • The fourth season had one of these as well, since they didn't expect the last second renewal for a fifth season. The finale ends with Jeff and Pierce finally graduating from Greendale and Jeff giving a touching speech about how his friends have changed him and made him a better person throughout the course of the series. He then states that even though he's leaving, he'll still pop in from time to time to hang out with his old friends. It's ambiguous enough to both serve as a Grand Finale moment (but not as blatant as the Season 3 finale) and open the door for future episodes.
    • The fifth season also has one of these, since nobody involved could have predicted that the series would be picked up by Yahoo Screen. This finale involved the discovery of the original founder of Greendale and his massive wealth, allowing the study group to prevent Greendale from being turned into a Subway Sandwich University, only for Chang to take all the money and spend it on replacing his teeth with diamonds without anyone (apart from a concerned Abed) noticing. The ending also had Abed commenting that, if they weren't coming back the following year, it would be because an asteroid has destroyed human civilization. ("And that's canon.")
  • Corner Gas' Season 4 finale "Gopher It", where Hank pitches an idea that takes off, eventually leading to Corner Gas and the Ruby getting bought out by a large chain gas station, Emma being elected mayor, and Lacey leaving Dog River to open up a restaurant in Toronto (among other things). At the end of the episode, it is all revealed to be one giant Imagine Spot by Hank after Brent, Wanda, and Lacey told him to think about his idea before pitching it. It was actually a parody of Grand Finales; the show's creator did end it on his own terms two years later, with a much more subdued finale.
  • CSI: NY did this in its seventh season with "Exit Strategy", which had Mac leave the NY crime lab to work on identifying the remains of 9/11 victims. It turned into a 10-Minute Retirement, and he came back in Season 8. In Season 8's finale, Mac was shot by a drug store robber and spent the episode in a Near-Death Experience. The show was renewed for a ninth season, which ended up being the last, and its finale concludes with a heartwarming voice-over monologue from Mac, followed by the scene many fans had been hoping for ever since he professed his love to Christine, an equally tear-jerking marriage proposal.
  • The second season of the Dallas 2012 Revival ended with a plot that more-or-less wrapped up the overarching storyline that stretched back all the way to the beginning of the original series, as the showrunners didn't know if they'd be renewed for a third season. The Ewings finally beat Cliff Barnes once and for all, by framing him for J.R.'s death, putting him in prison for a life sentence and winning Ewing Oil back in the process. While there were still a couple of lingering plot threads (namely, Elena turning bad and going down to Mexico to ally with a childhood friend, John Ross cheating on Pamela with Emma), the entire plot was resolved and all the characters were happy. Compare this to the third-season ending, which concluded with multiple cliffhangers (Christopher seemingly being blown up in an explosion, Pamela having medical issues, Southfork being set on fire again) that were never resolved due to its cancellation.
  • The Season 1 finale of Dead Like Me was filmed as an adequate ending to the series, with George finally accepting her life as a Reaper and her family reconciling with her death, but the series ultimately got one more season... and then a direct-to-DVD movie five years after that. Though a lot of fans choose to ignore that last one.
  • Defiance ended its first season on a cliffhanger with several long-running questions about the Myth Arc unanswered, but ended its second season spectacularly, with all questions answered and all plot threads neatly resolved. Then it got renewed for a third season and the writers clearly had no idea where to take the story...
  • Doctor Who:
    • The last episode of "Survival" at the end of Season 26 was thought likely to be the last episode ever, so a closing epilogue was added:
      "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace — we've got work to do!"
    • Death Comes to Time might have been intended as this for Doctor Who. It came out in 2001, when the show had been off-air for 12 years, save a TV movie in 1996, although the huge Expanded Universe was still running. It has a universe where the Time Lords have either been mostly killed off or are withdrawing, possibly tying into the Eighth Doctor Adventures at the time. It also has the Doctor dying in a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy rogue Time Lord Tannis and save his companion Ace, and Ace gaining Time Lord powers, bringing about a new age for the Universe. However it, oddly enough, features the Seventh Doctor instead of the Eighth, who was the current Doctor, and in many ways feels unlike Doctor Who, with aspects like changing Time Lords from Sufficiently Advanced Aliens to Reality Warpers. Thankfully Doctor Who was revived fourth years later, and Death Comes to Time is now generally regarded as an Alternate Continuity, though some fans use it to de-canonize the TV movie and revived series.
    • In a downplayed example that concerned an era rather than the entire show, the two-part Series 10 finale "World Enough and Time"/"The Doctor Falls" was supposed to be the Grand Finale for the Twelfth Doctor. It wraps up his Myth Arc, gives definitive fates to both of his companions, his Arch-Enemy Missy, and her previous incarnation Harold Saxon, and has a spectacular Final Battle against several generations of Cybermen which results in the Doctor having to regenerate. However, when incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall informed outgoing Steven Moffat that he didn't want to use the annual Christmas Episode as the Thirteenth Doctor's debut story, and Moffat then learned that there would be no more Christmas episodes if a year was skipped, he rewrote the story to give a "Ray of Hope" Ending to the Twelfth Doctor that directly led into his actual final episode, "Twice Upon a Time", which wraps up a few more loose ends before he becomes Thirteen.
  • Dollhouse has one of these as its DVD-only 13th episode of the first season, jumping ahead a decade or so and showing that the technology showcased has, not unsurprisingly, been used for terrible purposes. The end result? Worldwide apocalypse! Shockingly, the show was not canceled, but the second (and now final) season moved in a direction that indicates that episode is the likely conclusion. This is a Joss Whedon show, so a happy ending was probably never likely anyway.
  • Downton Abbey Season 2 ended with Mary and Matthew getting engaged and Sybil getting pregnant.
  • Due South:
    • The second part of "Victoria's Secret" was intended to be a series finale, since it wasn't known if the show would return after the first season. When it was renewed, "Letting Go" was filmed to give the storyline a happy ending.
    • The second-season finale, "Flashback", is a clip show that was intended to be the final episode (finishing with a "journey continues" ending) after it was cancelled by CBS... then it was picked up by CTV Television and resumed in Canada.
    • The third-season finale, "Mountie on the Bounty," ended with Fraser choosing to stay on with the Chicago Consulate and had a definite finality to it... and then the show was renewed again for a fourth and final season. Though whether MotB is a finale or not depends on your region—some areas air the third and fourth seasons as a single season.
  • Elementary had "Whatever Remains, However Improbable", the Season 6 finale, which was written to be the last episode of the series and had Sherlock and Joan transfer over from New York to London, the traditional Holmsian setting. But CBS ended up ordering a final, 13-episode season, after having already increased the number of episodes in Season 6 from 13 to 21.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had "Philadelphia Story" which was supposed to be the finale but when NBC brought the show back, they had NBC reps kidnap Will and bring him back to Bel Air in the beginning of the next season.
  • Friday Night Lights: "State", the Season 1 finale, where the Panthers go to the state championship. The third season finale "Tomorrow Blues" also served as this in case the move to DirecTV didn't work.
  • The writers of Glee weren't sure the show was going to be picked up for a full first season. The 13th episode (which was as many as they had confirmed at first) was specifically written to be decent enough series finale if they got cancelled. (Glee club won their competition and the major plots of the first 13 were adequately wrapped up) However, the show ended up being a hit and got picked up for at least three seasons before the first season was finished.
  • As Gotham is an origin story for the familiar Batman mythos we all know and love, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Season 3 finale is the final episode of the series — all the Canon Foreigners are Killed Off for Real or revealed to have been a Canon Character All Along, Penguin not only retakes his spot as Gotham's top crime boss but also opens his famous Iceberg Lounge, Gordon is more determined than ever to be the cop Gotham needs (setting him up for his role as The Commissioner), Selina is taking her first steps towards becoming Catwoman, and in the final scene, Bruce is on his first outing as a vigilante (complete with proto-Batsuit). However, the show had already been renewed for a fourth season by the time the episode aired.
  • Strangely, the Volume 4 finale to Heroes feels like one of these. Sylar is seemingly defeated once and for all, and all the Heroes come together to contemplate the future and start "a new beginning". There's just two little hitches in the plan...
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The first 13 episodes ended with "Drumroll Please" in which Victoria would be the mother. When more episodes were ordered, Victoria was retconned into being just another of Ted's girlfriends. Similarly the last episode of Season 3 was created with the idea that Stella would be the mother if the show didn't get renewed.
    • The Season 4 episode "The Leap" was also written as a possible send off for the characters which could easily function as a series finale.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O ends on a satisfactory note, but was so popular movies were made to follow it. Then there was "Farewell, Kamen Rider Den-O: The Final Countdown." That sounds like a done deal, right? Nope, then came The Onigashima Warship, and the Super Den-O Trilogy. The name "trilogy" makes the third of those films final-sounding... but then came "OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go, Kamen Rider!" And so, the climax goes on.
  • The first two season finales of Leverage were written to be possible series finales. "The Second David Job" (Season 1) ends with Nate getting Blackpoole ousted from IYS and the team splitting up. "The Maltese Falcon Job" (Season 2) ends with Nate shot and about to be arrested while the team escapes. The show ended up running five seasons.
  • Little House on the Prairie wraps up things at the end of Season 4. Mary comes to terms with her blindness and the entire citizenship of the now financially crippled town of Walnut Grove gather at the church one last time to say goodbye. The show was then picked up for a fifth season.
  • Unlike previous seasons, the fourth season of Lucifer does not end with a Cliffhanger and features no Sequel Hook. Chloe finally accepts Lucifer for what he is and confesses her feelings, but has to part ways with him as he reluctantly retakes the mantle of the King of Hell to prevent more demons from invading Earth. Since the series started in the first place because Lucifer abandoned his post in Hell to essentially have fun, by returning back, it neatly closes the series' Myth Arc and shows Lucifer's Character Development as he chooses to do what is needed instead of what he wants. Other plotlines resolved include Amenadiel's difficulty to accept the complexities of the human world, Dan's struggle to move on from Charlotte's death, Ella's Crisis of Faith, and Maze's decision to carve a separate life of her own. If Netflix didn't choose to renew it for a fifth season, it could have been a definitive end for the series (albeit a very bittersweet one).
    • The fifth season and its finale were produced with the intent of being the final season leading to major developments like Chloe and Lucifer finally hooking up, Dan learning about Lucifer's true nature, Maze and Eve getting back together, and a final arc which ends with Lucifer becoming the new God. Once again, Netflix decided to renew at the last minute. The producers dealt with this by cutting out the ten-minute epilogue that was supposed to follow Lucifer's ascension so they could expand the storylines into season 6.
  • MA Dtv's final episode on FOX was the Season 14 episode called "MADtv Gives Back", which is really just a Clip Show of the show's best sketches framed around a pledge drive, featuring celebrity guests and the show's most memorable recurring characters taking calls. This was back in 2009. Seven years later, the show was revived for a limited-run 15th season on another network.
  • Magnum, P.I.'s episode "Limbo" in which Magnum walked off into the sunset - after having been shot and in a coma, visiting his friends one last time as a spirit.
  • The third-season finale of The Mentalist would have been the big finish if they hadn't been renewed, given that it ended with Jane finally killing Red John. Then season four happened after all, and the first episode hastily re-establishes the status quo by revealing it wasn't him after all, and letting Jane off with the murder.
  • Miami Vice features a very interesting example of this. The show, which premiered in 1985, faced dismal ratings when it aired and was in danger of being canceled. To that end, the producers Retooled the series with a two-part episode that also served as a finale if the show was canned. The 2-parter, "Calderone's Return", killed off Crockett and Tubbs' commanding officer, resolved Crockett's relationship with his ex-wife Caroline and completed Tubbs' quest for vengeance against the man who killed his brother...then the series was renewed for a second season, and the show continued.
  • Murder, She Wrote: Season 5 ends with a two-parter in which Jessica meets an opposite number of sorts, who makes her question whether her workaholic approach to mystery writing is a good thing, and concludes with her instead deciding to take some time off with Doc Hazlett. While Angela Lansbury was seriously considering giving up the role due to the exhausting schedule required, they instead moved to the format where many episodes would feature Jessica's friends, or stories she was writing, with her just introducing the story.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Season 7 finale, the last on Comedy Central, where Mike and the Bots escape the SOL and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and Dr. Forrester is transformed into a baby.
    • Season 10 ended with Pearl accidentally sending the SOL crashing down to Earth, and Mike and the Bots living in an apartment. This was the ending for 15 years, before Joel Hodgson brought the show to Kickstarter, where it was successfully funded for a full new season.
    • Season 11 ends with Jonah eaten by Reptilicus Metallicus during his forced wedding to Kinga Forrester, as there was no guarantee of Netflix greenlighting another season when it was shot. Season 12 was announced a few months later (during the Turkey Day marathon), and after it aired the show was canceled... only for Joel to announce in April 2021 via another Kickstarter campaign that he was planning to start his own streaming platform so that he could bring the show back yet again.
  • Word of God says that the episodes of NewsRadio at the end of seasons two, three, and four were made with the expectation that they would be the finale. The actual finale was also made with enough wiggle room in case the show could continue.
  • Night Court: Season 8 is over. Dan quits his job and loses the Phil Foundation fortune. More importantly, Harry and Christine have professed their love to one another. OK, that's the end. What's that? We've been renewed? Oh, crap!
  • Northern Exposure: "The Quest", where the show's main character finishes his work in Alaska.
  • Odd Squad: Much like the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) example below, the show follows the idea of "writing every season finale as the series finale".
    • The Season 1 finale, "O is Not For Over", revolves around Olive being promoted to the Management department from Investigation, and Otto having to deal with her being gone while also being an easy target for Odd Todd's latest evil scheme. By the end of the episode, Otto, having defeated Odd Todd for good, is also promoted to the department alongside his partner, and the two leave Precinct 13579 to co-run Orville's precinct. This episode would also mark the final time Dalila Bela and Filip Geljo would play the role in the show (they would go on to do voiceovers for their characters in OddTube, and briefly reprise their roles in Odd Squad: The Movie). However, the show was renewed for a second season months before "O is Not For Over" premiered, and both the episode and the Season 2 premiere, "First Day", had its same-day airdate changed from March 7, 2016 to June 20, 2016 so they could be tied together for the Odd Squad: Agents of Change event airing on PBS Kids.
    • The Season 2 finale also got this treatment. The event Odds and Ends, which is comprised of "Who is Agent Otis?" and "Odds and Ends", aired in January of 2019, and revolves around Otis being discovered as a former villain, with him and Oprah getting kicked off Odd Squad and Ohlm taking over while revealing himself as the true Big Bad of the season. It also has Oprah being promoted to the position of the Big O at the end of the episode. Like the previous season finale, this would mark the final appearance of an actor: Isaac Kragten as Otis, and it seemed to be the case for Anna Cathcart (Olympia), Olivia Presti (Oona) and Millie Davis (Oprah) as well before it was revealed that they would reprise their roles in some form or another. note  However, two months after the finale aired, the show was picked up for a third season entitled Odd Squad Mobile Unit, which can either serve as a third season of Odd Squad or as a Spin-Off of the show depending on mileage.
    • The Season 3 finale was a three-parter comprised of the episodes "16-and-a-Half Blocks", "Follow the Leader", and "End of the Road" that was compressed into one event titled Odd Squad: End of the Road. It features the Mobile Unit attempting to expose the identity of The Shadow and stop her from causing oddness around the world with her Villain Network, and also has Opal departing the group to help The Shadow (now going by Olizabeth), revealed to be her younger sister, repair the damage she caused in numerous countries. Three months before the finale aired in the United States, however, it was announced that an extension of the season was in production. A month after that, Mark DeAngelis, the showrunner of Odd Squad, announced that production had ended on the show, but left it ambiguous as to whether the final episode of the season extension will serve as the Grand Finale or not. Whether PBS Kids will market it as Season 4 of Odd Squad also remains to be seen.
  • While the seventh-season episode of The Office (US), "Goodbye, Michael", is not technically an instance of this trope (as the show was always intended to continue past the departure of Steve Carrell's Michael Scott), it certainly feels like it could have brought a serviceable end to the series. Interestingly, for such a major change in the show's history, "Goodbye, Michael" wasn't even the season finale, there was still three more episodes left.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • "Going Home", where the entire plot of the series is wrapped up completely in a Bittersweet Ending up until a very literal Sequel Hook shows up at the last minute. A strange case of this trope since it was only the midseason finale, with another eleven episodes already in production when it aired, so the makers of the show obviously already knew it wasn't going to be the end when making it.
    • "The Final Battle" in Season 6 is a more straight example, as it once again wraps up the series' plot and gave sendoffs to most of the main cast, but the creators did not know for sure if there would be another season afterward. As it turns out, there was, and it would be that following season's finale that was the ending of the series.
  • One Tree Hill had many of these:
    • First, with the gang graduating high school and then Lucas and Peyton driving away with their baby.
    • Then at the end of season 7, the cast is shown playing on a snowy hill, and the parting shot was to have been all of them walking up the hill. When a renewal was assured, a cliffhanger scene was tacked on after that.
    • The final scene in Season 8 recreates the first scene of the series, with Jamie replacing Lucas as he dribbles a basketball across the bridge.
  • Only Fools and Horses: The December 1996 trilogy of Heroes and Villains, Modern Men, and Time On Our Hands were originally intended to be the Grand Finale for the show (the final episode pulling 24.1 million viewers), but another trilogy broadcast between 2001 and 2003 soon came.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): The Season Six finale "Final Appeal" was intended as the final episode as the series had been cancelled by Showtime but it was picked up for a seventh and final season by the Sci-Fi Channel.
  • Parks and Recreation, according to co-creator Mike Schur, has done this several times, due to the show's shaky ratings.
    • The showrunners were worried that, since Parks was a midseason replacement in season 3, that it would be cancelled soon after. So they wrote the season 3 finale, "Lil Sebastian", as a possible series finale.
    • The season 4 finale, "Win, Lose or Draw" was also written as a respectable finale with Leslie winning the city council election.
    • The season 5 episode "Leslie and Ben" was also written as a series finale because it was the last episode of the front 13 produced.
    • A unique case with the Season 6 episode "Moving Up" with Leslie accepting a new job with the National Parks Department, the Unity Concert, and a 3-year time skip. The show had already been renewed but the storylines of Season 6 were well in place pre-renewal. So they just went with it and Season 7 was a Post-Script Season.
  • Planet Ajay's finale episode, "Highlights Show", is set up to be like this, and likely would have been a straight example if the show went on any longer after its only 13-episode season. The episode is a Clip Show where Chips the robot is trying to remind Ajay, who is packing up to go on a 2,517-year-long trip around the universe, of all that his friends did for him on Planet Ajay, but he fails to persuade him not to take the trip. Ajay decides against going on the trip at the last second, however, and he instead decides to throw a party for everyone on Planet Ajay... but he makes this decision right around the end of his 30-minute stay on Planet Ajay (Ajay travels to the planet via a magic ring whose magic wears out after 30 minutes), and he has to travel back to Earth.
  • Power Rangers has had a bunch of these; even if you don't consider the Super Sentai formula was adopted after Season 6, making every season finale a series finale, because of the amount of times it has been Un-Canceled:
    • Due to a lack of understanding and faith in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers for long-term survival by the various networks, when it was finally given its chance by Fox it was only meant to last for one season of 40 episodes total, only to be replaced by a more suitable long-term show once found. The show's intended series finale would have been the two-part episode "Doomsday" in which Rita Repulsa would have been permanently defeated in a similar manner as her counterpart in Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. Due to the show's unforeseen popularity however, the ending of "Doomsday" was changed at the last minute to leave open the possibility of future episodes. In addition, new suits and footage were quickly and specially commissioned from Toei by Saban to expand the first season to 60 episodes total, as Saban had only minimal usable footage of Zyuranger left after the first 40 episodes. At the same time Saban also secured the rights to use footage from subsequent Super Sentai shows for future Power Rangers seasons.
    • The finale of Power Rangers in Space, "Countdown to Destruction," was also made to end the series, with almost all the villains of the past and present launching a full-scale conquest of the universe, only for Zordon's death being required for his power to spread through the universe, reducing the overwhelming majority of the villains to dust and purifying a small handful of fan-favorites into non-evil humans.
    • Wild Force was also meant to serve as the last season for the series, as the plan was for Disney (who'd bought out the series) to end it and put it into syndication. The seasonal content reflected this; in addition to featuring a 10th anniversary special that had every Red Ranger ever return, the two-parter finale was tellingly named "The End of the Power Rangers." And then someone convinced Disney to move filming to New Zealand and cut costs by a third.
    • The season finale of Power Rangers RPM was supposed to be the series finale until Saban picked up the rights to the franchise again. It is the finale for Disney's ownership of the show, for better or worse. Its predecessor, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, was also intended to be the last season, but Bandai, who made the toys, begged them into one more season - RPM.
  • The frequent uncertainty over the future of Red Dwarf since it was Un-Canceled in 2009 means that each series finale has had to be written bearing in mind that it might be the last ever (excluding the eleventh series, as it was filmed back-to-back with the twelfth series). Including the original 1988-99 run, there are five different episodes that could have served as the last ever. The more recent ones have more consciously tried to serve as potential last ever episodes; "The Beginning" provides a Bookend to the very first episode, and "Skipper" is largely based around Continuity Porn.
  • Saturday Night Live has several:
    • The last episode of season five hosted by Buck Henry with musical guests Andrew Gold, Andrae Crouch, and Voices of Unity. It even ended with the remnants of the original "Not Ready for Primetime" cast running out of the studio as the "ON AIR" light flashed off for (what seemed like it would be) the final time.
    • ...Then along came NBC's decision to continue the show, which, at first with Jean Doumanian and her cast (save for Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo), was a bad idea. The last Doumanian-produced episode hosted by Bill Murray was also written as the last one...until Dick Ebersol stepped in as Doumanian's replacement.
    • The last episode of season 11 (hosted by Anjelica Huston and Billy Martin with musical guest George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic) was written as the series finale as well, due to the low ratings and terrible reviews the show had gotten during the season. The final scene had everyone in the cast (except for Jon Lovitz) locked in a room that Lorne had set on fire. When the show was given a second chance at life, the final scene (and everything about season 11) was written off as All Just a Dream ("...a horrible, horrible dream").
    • The last episode of season 20 (hosted by David Duchovny), much like season 11, was also a series fauxnale that had a large majority of cast members killed off (as seen in the "Beastman" cold opening and the last sketch where the popular male cast members all throw themselves in a polar bear cage exhibit at the zoo).
  • Scrubs was intended at least two years beforehand to end with its eighth season. It almost didn't get an eighth season due to the TV Strikes, but Channel Hopped from NBC to ABC (who owned the show) and ended with a Grand Finale that both poked fun and emulated most series finales... before being picked up for its ninth season, with a mostly new cast.
  • seaQuest DSV:
    • "An Ocean on Fire", where the titular sub is destroyed.
    • Happened the following season: "Splashdown", where the titular sub is abducted by aliens, brought to an alien planet to save one faction from the genocidal evil faction, realize they're actually working for the evil faction and try to stop the evil faction, have most of the main cast trapped in an underwater facility which they blow up (either being incinerated or drowned), the sub being sunk in combat with a huge hole punched through the ship, and only Lucas (a boy genius), Dagwood (a genetically engineered gentlegiant), and Darwin (a regular dolphin) having escaped. Episode ends with Lucas promising Dagwood they'd somehow find a way back to earth and make sure the seaQuest's fate wasn't forgotten... followed up with the caption "seaQuest DSV will return..."
  • 7th Heaven is a weird case, as they weren't told to wrap it up because they were being canceled—they were intending to end the show after 10 seasons. Then The CW told the writers that they wanted the show around to help with the transitional period after the merger, so make an eleventh season. It... wasn't as well-received as the previous seasons.
  • Season 1 of Sledge Hammer! ended with a very large bang, as Inspector Sledge "Trust me, I know what I'm doing" Hammer attempted to disarm a nuke... and failed. When the show got picked up for a second season, the cliffhanger was handwaved away by setting the new episodes "five years earlier", while continuing all ongoing story elements and character development unchanged. More precisely, they explained that the Season 1 finale took place five years later.
  • Stargate SG-1 had four of these throughout its run: the finales of seasons 5, 6, 7 and 8:
    • The first two came when the writers were almost sure the network would end the series, and both ended on cliffhangers that were intended to lead up to a follow-up theatrical movie, which in turn would set up the spinoff series Stargate Atlantis; both times, the series got renewed for a new season after all.
    • For season 7, the planned theatrical movie was reworked into a two-episode Grand Finale that would lead directly into Atlantis — but the series was renewed yet again, resulting in the finale's ending being rewritten so that Atlantis would be set in a different galaxy (to limit crossovers, as it was going to be contemporary with SG-1 rather than replacing it).
    • Season 8 had a full-blown multi-part Grand Finale that ended with an epic battle, the defeat of every major antagonist in the series, and the resolution of 8 years worth of character threads and plotlines. In fact, it wrapped things up so completely that the next season necessitated a complete Retool of the show. Ironically, when the series was actually cancelled after season 10 the writers were expecting an extra year, so they weren't able to make a proper Grand Finale — instead, the series ended with most major storylines unresolved, and the planned arc for season 11 was reworked into a direct-to-DVD movie follow-up Stargate: The Ark of Truth.
  • Supernatural:
    • The second season finale saw the Winchester brothers finally defeat the enemy they'd been pursuing since the first episode, as due to the series not quite yet being one of the iconic shows on the CW and renewal had yet to be confirmed, which is one reason that plotline was wrapped up so in case the show didn't return it at least would have an acceptable ending. Although there was a slight cliffhanger with Dean selling his soul and only having a year to live, it wasn't as in your face about it as most other cliffhangers, having more of a "just business as usual" feeling rather than a big Oh, Crap! moment like the others.
    • The fifth season is a pretty good example, even with the Sequel Hook at the very end. The story that had been building for the past 5 seasons had finally been resolved, the Big Bad was defeated, series creator Kripke stopped writing the show, and it could have all been over. Except it wasn't, it was only a third of the way through the series.
  • When Super Sentai suffered its lowest ratings with Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman to the point that it was facing cancellation, it was ultimately decided that Choujin Sentai Jetman (inspired by Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, which was one of the major influences for the franchise itself) would be the final season. Jetman's finale ended with a bittersweet "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue taking place three years after the show in which Gai (now a businessman) gets stabbed by a mugger after saving a woman who got mugged by him and spending his last dying moments sitting on a bench, but on a happier note, Ryu and Kaori get married, Ako becomes an idol singer and Raita is now a farmer. The good response actually saved the show from being cancelled and the show has continued airing since then.
  • Today's Special: The fifth-season episode "Live on Stage" was intended to be a Grand Finale for the series, where Jeff was finally able to join his friends outside the store, but then the series got Un-Canceled for another two seasons.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth, the third series of Torchwood was written with the possibility of it being the final series in mind, as the BBC seemed very unlikely to renew it for a fourth series, despite higher than ever viewership. So to make it conclusive, Ianto is Killed Off for Real, Torchwood as we know it is wiped from the records, and Jack leaves Earth forever, too plagued by the guilt of his grandson's murder to stay. Oh, and Gwen is pregnant. However, the series was picked up by Starz and BBC Worldwide, and a fourth series, Torchwood: Miracle Day was aired two years later.
  • Season 5 of Veep ends with Selina leaving office without any chance of taking part in the new administration, while her staff all go their separate ways onto new things. However, by the time this episode aired, the series had already been renewed for a sixth season.
  • Wheel of Fortune: Happened twice in the summer of 1980, as Fred Silverman was desperately trying to retool his daytime schedule to get rid of all game shows. The first time, a mock-up schedule scrubbed Wheel in favor of a 90-minute (and, some claim two hour) daytime talkfest hosted by David Letterman. Although Silverman was prepared to give Chuck Woolery time to say goodbye for the June 20, 1980 program, Wheel ultimately was spared, but almost wasn't as lucky later in the summer when Silverman ordered an hour-long version of Another World and a new soap opera called Texas. In this latter case, a finale was ordered for August 1, 1980, with host Chuck Woolery inviting then-wife Jo Ann Pflug onstage to thank the viewers for "5-1/2 wonderful years," and kissing both her and hostess Susan Stafford on the lips after Stafford said her farewells. The show was completed sometime in early July 1980 ... but then NBC decided instead to trim Letterman's struggling show to 60 minutes, meaning Wheel again was spared. That meant a hastily edited program airing on Friday, August 1, editing out Woolery's farewell speech (although an extended full-length closing credits was still shown); on the following Monday, Woolery laughedly explains why they were back so soon.
  • The finales to seasons 1 and 3 of The Wire were written as potential series finales, wrapping up all existing plot threads and concluding with a distinct air of finality, because in both instances the creators didn't know whether the series would be renewed for additional seasons.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place wrapped up nicely with an hour-long last episode in which Justin wins the Wizard Competition but decides to hand the baton to Alex. Then comes the second movie in 2013.
  • The X-Files:
    • The first movie was meant to be the ending of the show, then Fox decided to hang onto their cash cow a while longer. The film's third act shows definite signs of being hastily rewritten to leave things open enough for the series to continue (Cigarette Smoking Man showing up in Antarctica and then leaving without actually doing anything being the most obvious).
    • Word of God says that "Requiem", the last episode of season seven, was written to serve as a series finale if they didn't get picked up again. Some X-Philes actually use it that way.

  • ABBA's The Visitors was written in the midst of fierce inter-member conflicts and was written with the intent of making it their last bow, with the group disbanding not too long after its release. While it remained their finale album for 40 years, the band eventually regrouped and released a more proper Grand Finale album, Voyage, in 2021.
  • AJR invokes this with Neotheater, especially with the final track "Finale (Can't Wait To See What You Do Next)". Feeling that they've gone harder than they ever had, the brothers consider ending their careers on a high note and acknowledge the possibility that they have nothing left to offer for their listeners. However, a chorus of presumably fans, friends, and family urge them to not go and continue doing what they do, promising to support them in their future endeavors. Within the context of the song however, the band is still on the fence about following it up due to fears of Tough Act to Follow. Neotheater was indeed not their final album and OK Orchestra was announced for 2021.
  • Bathory intended for their final album to be 1991’s Twilight of the Gods. Perhaps an example of where this shines best is the final listed track Hammerheart, which reads out like a man’s final speech on his deathbed, using the more solemn, calm tune of Thaxted with an orchestra, rather than the more metal-oriented sound of the rest of the album, and the only instance of a guitar is in the ending line. After some years, though, in 1994, they would release their next album Requiem.
  • For around a decade, David Bowie's Reality was treated as his de-facto finale thanks to his heart attack-induced retirement and the finality of that record's closing track, "Bring Me the Disco King". After two years of recording in secret, Bowie returned to releasing music with 2013's The Next Day before making his actual Grand Finale in the form of 2016's , which released just two days before his death from cancer.
  • In 2010, Judas Priest decided that it was time to retire and announced their farewell Epitaph World Tour. However, they stated both in press conferences and online that they will release at least one more studio album afterwards. And then, they decided not to retire after all and would continue touring.
  • Queen's 1989 album The Miracle was made after Freddie Mercury's HIV/AIDS diagnosis, which he disclosed only to his family and bandmates. Since viable antiviral medications for HIV weren't available at the time, the virus was a functional death sentence, leading Freddie to record the album under the impression that it'd be his last with Queen. However, he was miraculously able to live long enough to record 1991's Innuendo and much of 1995's Made in Heaven before his passing in November 1991 (with his bandmates filling in the gaps on the latter), leading them both to serve as the collective finale to Queen's career with Freddie.
  • After escalating Creative Differences, Yellow Magic Orchestra intended to wrap up their careers with their fifth album, Technodelic, with the closing track "Epilogue" in particular being intended as their Grand Finale. However, due to contractual obligations, they were only able to go on a hiatus at most, and put out two more albums— Naughty Boys and Service— before being allowed to split up in 1984. Even that didn't last, with them eventually reuniting to make Technodon in 1993 and a few non-album singles in the 2000's, continuing since then as an on-and-off live act.
  • Eminem intended Encore to be his final album, with lyrical content based around settling scores, apologising for his past bad behaviour, and passing the torch to his protégés. He followed it up with a Greatest Hits compilation, (and Torch the Franchise and Run Bottom of the Barrel Joke humour), and those close to him made statements saying he'd achieved all he felt he wanted to in rap, intending to focus on production and running his label. However, in reality, he was in fact suffering from a severe drug addiction that was muting his ability and drive. After suffering an overdose that almost killed him, he got clean and rediscovered his love of rap, resulting in a Career Resurrection and a second imperial phase for him as an inspirational pop artist.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The 2015 revival of Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling could have ended after a year with FMW For Whom the Glory is Final ~ FMW Disbands Immediately If it Doesn't Become a Full House Special. The turnout was apparently adequate, though, as it kept going.
  • As it wasn't clear if Lucha Underground would get picked up for a second season, the first season ended with Femme Fatale Catrina, Wrestling Monster Mil Muertes, and Terrible Trio the Disciples of Death capturing most of the championships and taking control of the Temple, while Corrupt Corporate Executive Dario Cueto had to go on the run.

    Puppet Shows 
  • According to this Defunctland podcast, the final episode of Bear in the Big Blue House was going to be "And To All A Good Night", which had several signs of it being a finale, with the most notable being the scene where every character who ever appeared on the show sang the Goodbye Song together and having different closing credits than any other episode of the series. This was because the cast was not sure if the show would be renewed for a third season.
  • A Show Within a Show example in Between the Lions; the author of the Cliff Hanger books decides to end his series with Cliff finally getting off the cliff and washing onto a beach because he has run out of ideas for his books. However, due to the lions helping him remember how to get ideas (as well as the fact that the helicopter singers from the books were bothering everyone), he soon starts the series back up with Cliff being washed off the beach and getting blasted back onto the cliff by a whale (presumably the same one that helped him get off).

  • LEGO Ninjago was originally intended to end in the first half of 2013, with the sets' boxes even being labeled as "The Final Battle", not to mention that the storyline in the TV series was also wrapped up with a series finale depicting the events of said Final Battle. And then? LEGO releases this teaser image, signalling the toy series' comeback and the announcement of a season 3 for the TV series.
  • BIONICLE was supposedly originally planned to only last for three years, hence why 2003 ended with the Big Bad Makuta seemingly defeated by Takanuva. In spite of this sense of finality, there's still The Reveal of Metru Nui and behind the scenes concept art that show that the twist of the Matoran Universe actually being within Mata Nui who is a giant robot was planned from the very beginning.
    • This eventually expanded even to the actual Grand Finale of the toyline, as the storyline continued in the form of online serials... that were ultimately Left Hanging.

    Video Games 
  • The first five games of Assassin's Creed were focused on the story of Desmond Miles and his ancestors, with Assassin's Creed III set up as the Grand Finale of his exploits; The franchise was followed immediately with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and the subsequent games now follow the consequences of Desmond's adventures and are more Myth Arc driven than actually following a single storyline.
  • Though Baldur's Gate wasn't supposed to end at its second instalment, its DLC had the main protagonist Charname face off against a Big Bad who was involved in the start of the reason behind all of the adventuring, and ended the Bhaalspawn Saga. Yet in October 2020 Baldur's Gate 3 got released in Early Access, and though as of writing this entry in March 2022 the game hasn't released fully, the "Saga" around Baldur's Gate continues. note 
  • beatmania IIDX 16 EMPRESS + PREMIUM BEST was intended to be the final consumer version of beatmania IIDX, featuring the usual bells and whistles of an arcade-to-PS2 port as well as a PREMIUM BEST disc that features a compilation of songs from the original IIDX to beatmania IIDX 15 DJ TROOPERS, with 198 playable songs between both discs. However, beatmania IIDX INFINITAS would come along for PC six years later.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ was intended by Edmund McMillen to be the final DLC for the remake, with its new ending clarifying several plot points established by previous endings. But a popular Game Mod, Antibirth, was released just a couple weeks earlier, and Edmund liked it so much that he decided to officially re-release it as part of the Repentance expansion.
  • Traveller's Tales wanted to end Crash Bandicoot with The Wrath of Cortex, which billed itself as the game where Crash defeats Cortex for good and seemingly makes good on its promise in the real ending where Cortex and Uka Uka are banished to the arctic. Vicarious Visions then got hold of the series, releasing The Huge Adventure, N-Tranced, and Crash Nitro Kart, which are set in VV's own timeline and give Cortex a Snap Back, before TT continued the series with Crash Twinsanity, which is set 3 years after Wrath and starts with Cortex escaping his banishment.
  • Dead Space 3 seems to end on a decisively final conclusion for Isaac, the Markers, and the Necromorphs. Then the Awakening DLC comes along to continue the story, ending on a grim cliffhanger. Shortly afterwards the series was put on indefinite hiatus due to "poor" sales performance, leaving the plot hanging on a very dark note.
  • While Diablo and its sequel both had open/cliffhanger endings, the expansion pack Lord of Destruction ended on a pretty final note. All of the Prime Evils' Soulstones had been destroyed, permanently killing them off. Of course, that didn't stop Blizzard from making Diablo III: The Search for More Money.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: BioWare fully admits they didn't know if the game would sell well enough to launch a franchise, so they added more detailed player choices, lasting consequences, and epilogue slides detailing the fates of each character and location for decades to come to wrap things up. When Origins sold well enough to launch the Dragon Age franchise, BioWare gently retconned the end slides to be in-universe "rumors", and avoided adding too detailed player choices and end slides for subsequent games, to keep future stories open.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 had an air of finality to it and was supposed to be the finale, with the game taking place 30 years after Freddy Fazbear's Pizza closing down for good, the Purple Man getting his punishment for his actions, and the murdered children being set free after decades of being stuck inside the animatronic. Overall, it felt like a fitting end to the series that never happened.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 4 was supposed to be the finale like the third game, showing some of the first events in the series, what happened at Fredbear's Family Diner, and possibly explaining the origins of one of the characters in the series, but too many mysteries were left, which led to the creation of the following games.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location was also supposed to be the finale, focused on the Purple Man (now revealed to be called William Afton) and his family. But the ending left many questions in it, with it ultimately getting a sequel.
    • Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator was probably the closest to the Grand Finale: The last surviving robots are brought together, mysteries from the past are solved, and it all ends with the animatronics (including Afton), the protagonist (the same person as in Sister Location) and Henry, the Greater-Scope Paragon who was the founder of Freddy's and mastermind behind the events of the game, all dying in a fire, seemingly ending the legacy of Freddy Fazbear for good. The game following it, Ultimate Custom Night, is heavily implied to be the epilogue where William Afton gets tortured for eternity... but then Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted came out, and all the games following it. Looks like we're not getting a true finale anytime soon...
  • Fortnite: The Season 10 finale event ends with the island, all of the skins and the universe being sucked into a black hole. The game then goes offline, only showing the black hole, with its social media pages blacked out, and even being removed from the Epic Games Store banner. Serious dedication.
  • Gothic III's Golden Ending not only solves the main conflict of the series (the proxy war between the gods), it also places the Nameless Hero into an entirely new world with no return. It's directly stated that peace will ensue and that there is no way this happy ending could be reversed. However, thanks to Executive Meddling by the publisher, the infamous Gothic III: Forsaken Gods was made, in which the war didn't end, so the Nameless Hero had to return to Morgrad, which turns the original Gothic III into this.
  • Halo 3 was meant to be the conclusion to the Halo series. It was even marketed with the tagline, "Finish the Fight". But seeing as how Halo is Microsoft's main series, they couldn't stop making Halo games, so they made some spin-offs, and then a direct sequel to 3. To be fair, the new saga does deal with a different fight.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has not only one, but two fake grand finales:
  • Kirby Star Allies presents itself as the finale of the 2D Kirby games. The game features many game mechanics previously exclusive to certain earlier games, such as a modified Helper system from Super Star, Ability Mixing from Kirby 64 (albeit in the form of elemental weapon imbuement more resembling Squeak Squad), and four-player co-op from Return to Dream Land. Additionally, the game features a multitude of playable characters in addition to Kirby and the regular Helpers in the Dream Friends, comprised of the other three playable characters from Return to Dream Land in addition to many returning characters such as Rick, Kine, Coo, Gooey, Marx, Daroach, Magolor, and Susie who likewise represent other individual games. While it wasn't the end of Kirby as a whole, due to the game's direct mainline successor, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, being the series's Video Game 3D Leap, Star Allies can still be viewed as the ultimate culmination of the series to that point.
  • While it was unlikely to be the end of the franchise as a whole, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is clearly written to be a finale to the loose "Hero of Time Saga" started by Ocarina of Time and continued by Majora's Mask. Wind Waker itself takes place in the timeline left behind by the Hero of Time when Zelda sent him to a new timeline that would lead to Majora's Mask, and Wind Waker reveals throughout the game that Ganon escaped his imprisonment and destroyed much of Hyrule with no hero to stand up to him, leading to the survivors pleading to the gods to intervene, itself leading to the creation of the Great Sea and the ruined Hyrule put in stasis. The game as a whole also delivers a Central Theme of "let the past go", with Ganondorf wanting to bring back Hyrule as part of his stubborn refusal to give up his ambitions and the old King Daphnes wanting to let Hyrule and Ganondorf wash away beneath the waves. Overall, it served as a fitting end to the legacy of the Hero of Time, but Wind Waker's direct successor, Twilight Princess would further explore the consequences of the Hero of Time being transported to the timeline of Majora's Mask, albeit in a way that didn't factually invalidate Wind Waker due to Twilight Princess being concurrent in the Alternate Timeline.
  • The Mass Effect games followed the adventures of Commander Shepard against the Reapers and Mass Effect 3 was the conclusion to the "Shepard Saga"; however the franchise continued with Mass Effect: Andromeda.
  • Most Mega Man subseries have had this at least once:
    • The classic Mega Man games were evidently intended to wrap up with Mega Man 6; this is apparent in the tone of the music, particularly the songs used for the title screen, final stages and final boss, and after the final boss Mega Man arrests Dr. Wily. note  Mega Man 7 came along and opens with Wily escaping from prison six months later, then 8 came along and became another Series Fauxnale before 9.
    • The Mega Man X games were intended to end with Mega Man X5 then segue into the Mega Man Zero series, until they made X6 without Keiji Inafune's involvement and the series continued with X7, X8 and Command Mission.
    • Mega Man Zero 3 would have concluded the trilogy if Zero 4 wasn't made. Despite all the revelations thrown in the player's face and the climax involving Zero—in an inferior copy of his original body—facing off against said original body followed by the implied deaths of X and the Four Guardians, the developers realized they had one major plot thread left hanging: the Big Bad of 3 was still alive and now in control of Neo Arcadia...
    • Mega Man Battle Network was evidently intended to end with 3, and much like Mega Man 6 had an air of finality in some parts of its soundtrack, but still continued for three more games and several spin-offs.
  • Mega Man X: Mavericks seemed like its fourth game was going to be the last. It pretty clearly concluded the plotline that had been set up since the first game and brought back all the party members for the final showdown. It even lacked a stinger like the previous installments. It turned out to be this when a fifth game was announced a few years later.
  • For the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots goes to painstaking lengths to make sure no potential for sequels exists after its ending. Solid Snake is an old man with a few months left to live; the mystery surrounding The Patriots is cleared up right before they're promptly destroyed, the off-screen fates of several characters from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater are revealed; EVA, Vamp, Naomi, Ocelot, Zero and Big Boss all die; the remaining characters finally get their happy ending and the game recontextualizes all the canon games up to that point as specifically leading up to Guns of the Patriots. This didn't stop Konami from trying to continue the story in several ways: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V are main series interquels that focus on gameplay and themes rather than the overarching plot (with MGSV specifically revolving around clearing up a single plot hole that the extended series caused in the first gamenote ), while Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a spin-off sequel to 4 that's contrived to the point of parody.
  • The Metroid series has had two of these:
    • Super Metroid was originally meant to be the ending of the series. In this game, the Metroid species goes extinct, and all of Samus's enemies in the Space Pirates are destroyed for good. And for a long time, this game was indeed the end of Metroid: it took another 8 years for new installments in the franchise to release, with Metroid Fusion being a continuation.
    • For the Metroid Prime games, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was also meant to be the end of that series: in that game, Metroid Prime/Dark Samus is Killed Off for Real, and all Phazon in the universe is destroyed. Then ten years later, Metroid Prime 4 was announced (although it's arguable that one year earlier, Metroid Prime: Federation Force already resulted in this).
    • Defied with Metroid Dread: series creator Yoshio Sakamoto confirmed that Dread will be the end of the Metroid story arc that began with the first game, but it will not be the end of Samus Aran's adventures.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver were designed with the assumption they would be the last installments in the franchise, as nobody at Game Freak was certain at how long the series' popularity would last. The main story features the dissolution of Team Rocket, and the second half of the game focuses on the player revisiting the Kanto region and challenging the old Gym Leaders. The game climaxes with a fight against Red, the player character from Red & Blue and the True Final Boss. Ultimately, Gold & Silver were wildly successful and proved that Pokémon had enough staying power to continue work on the franchise.
  • The Professor Layton series was initially planned to be a trilogy (and was announced in Japan as such), which is why Professor Layton and the Unwound Future wrapped everything up. But neither the fans nor the staff wanted the series to stop at three games, and Level-5 continued the series by announcing a trilogy of prequels (similar to Star Wars minus the giant gap in release dates).
  • Resident Evil 5 seems like it was designed to be the finale of the series. Original protagonists Chris and Jill reunite (under some very unique circumstances) and series Big Bad Wesker finally takes direct action after several games of plotting from behind the scenes. The game also brings the Umbrella Corporation to a final end with the death of founder Oswell E. Spencer, and reveals the true origins and motives of the evil pharmaceutical company. In the end only a few plot threads were still left hanging, mostly involving Sherry and Ada Wong. Subsequent games have either been interquels or had the feel of a post-script game (or a post-script interquel). And then Resident Evil 7 came out, extending the series in an entirely new way while maintaining the same overall themes.
  • R-Type Final was supposed to be the last of the series. However, it was soon followed by R-Type Tactics in 2007 and R-Type Tactics II: Operation Bitter Chocolate in 2009, with a sequel to Final being announced in 2019.
  • Sakura Wars originally ended with Fall in Love, Maidens, which concluded Ichiro Ogami's storyline from the first four games. However, Sega released the next mainline title, So Long, My Love, in 2005.
  • The endings of both the second and third Sly Cooper games were designed so the series could feasibly end there. Then came Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time in 2013.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Adventure 2 is suggestive of this, likely because Sega knew the Sega Dreamcast would be discontinued that year. Officially it was the most ambitious game in the series at the time, serving as a celebration of Sonic's 10th anniversary. It ends with all the characters — including Dr. Eggman — teaming up to save the world, and ends on a solemn note as they bond over Shadow's supposed death. The real kicker is the preview to the Hero Story, which outright says: "Farewell, Sonic. Forever." However, Sega became a third-party company and released Sonic Heroes three years later.
    • While Sonic Adventure 2 wasn't the last story-driven 3D Sonic game, there still hasn't been a true Sonic Adventure game since it. note  As such, it could still be considered the Adventure series' Grand Finale.

    Visual Novels 
  • Though the localizers realized the game wasn't gonna end with him too late, the Ace Attorney originally had the phocus, sorry, FOCUS, on Phoenix Wright. By the time the Third Instalment was brought to America for the Nintendo DS, however, a sequel was already in development. So however Phoenix' (and several supporting characters') story arcs came to a close, a bunch of them got a Happy Ending Override with Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Since then the Happy Ending Override itself got a an override, with two more sequels, a crossover, and two prequels set in ye olden Victorian times.
  • Week 7 of Melody was supposed to be the final week of the story. However, as the story grew, it became the halfway point instead. However, some of the early elements for this planned finale were kept.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!'s hosts had to release a video soon after the Season 1 finale battle between Goku and Superman ended with the Earth being destroyed, letting fans know that there's going to be more Death Battle — this was just a Season Finale, not the Series Finale.
  • Eddsworld's final Legacy episode "The End" was originally intended to be the series finale, as it was the last full-length eddisode produced with Thomas Ridgewell as showrunner. However, shortly after the release of "The End (Part 1)", Edd's mother Sue Gould revealed on twitter that she would be taking over as showrunner, which was later confirmed by Edd's sister Vicky Gould.
  • Happy Tree Friends: The season 1 finale "Happy Trails: Part 1" was going to be the final episode of the series, but once Mondo Media requested additional episodes, this became the first part of a season-bridging two-parter that was concluded nearly a year later. The show went on to have four additional internet seasons and a TV series.
  • The end of each story arc of Red vs. Blue, especially Episode 100, which actually served as a Grand Finale when it was released. Notably, it had multiple endings thanks to the magic of the internet, and wrapped up the five seasons of the Blood Gulch Chronicles and could easily have ended the series. The endings of Season 8, 10 and 13 are all deliberately poignant and could serve as series finales.
  • Sonic for Hire originally ended in 2013 after seven seasons. The series eventually got revived for an eighth season in 2019 after the rights to the show were given to Rooster Teeth following the abrupt shutdown of Machinima, where the series was originally uploaded at. And then around 2020, Lowbrow Studios, the actual creators of Sonic for Hire, got the rights to the show back and confirmed production of a ninth season.
  • Translations Gone Wrong: The translation-gone-wrong for "I'll Fly" has a montage of previous translations and the words "The end", because Nevel the creator wouldn't have enough time on his hands to make more videos for a while... but when that while ended, he started making more translations.

  • Back when the Mega Man Sprite Comic was just a series of Filler Strips, Bob and George ended the sprite comic in September 2000 by having Dr. Wily kidnap the Author and kill him, paving the way for the intended real comic (a hand-drawn one) to be launched the following month. After more than a week of the hand-drawn comic, the Author felt it wasn't working out, so he abruptly brought the sprite comic back for good and had the storyline be about the title characters stuck the Mega Man universe.

    Web Original 
  • Originally, Dream's "Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters FINALE" and the rematch was going to be the final episode of the 1v3 Minecraft Manhunts. Two weeks after the rematch, however, due to popular demand, Dream released a grand finale that would be the end to all 1v3 Minecraft Manhunts.
  • Dream SMP: The Disc War Finale and thus the end of the Disunion Era saw Dream stripped of his power, turned on by just about everyone on the server (except George and the Anarchists), and imprisoned in Pandora's Vault. The server celebrated the end of a tyrant, and everyone believed it was the end of the conflict (Tommy's stream was even titled the finale of the SMP). However, there are still several unresolved issues (the Anarchists and the Crimson Egg among others), several unanswered questions (such as DreamXD and the End Portal), and that's not mentioning that Dream might not be down for good (as Wilbur's spirit warns Tommy that Dream is too dangerous to be left alive, not to mention that Dream still has his favor from Technoblade). It's fitting for what seems to be the Season 2 finale, but there's clearly still more to come.

    Web Videos 
  • Epic Rap Battles of History: "Nice Peter vs EpicLLOYD 2" had so much Reality Subtext and so many personal potshots between the two that fans became genuinely concerned that the two had grown disillusioned with their baby and were calling it quits with this season finale, not helped by the ending directly implying that working on the series was causing rifts in their friendship and the realization of that convinces them to take a break. Thankfully, the hiatus seems to be just that and ERB came back swinging about two years later.
  • Phelous's Jacob's Ladder review, which sets up what seems to be Phelous's final death. His living room, usually covered in his toy collection slowly empties, and upon realizing he's pretty much gotten everyone he possibly can to cameo on his show already, he resorts to having his Real Life self cameo instead. By the end of the review, Phelous realizes that he's been dead since the Mac and Me review and exits his house, saying goodbye to his audience. Come the next review, Phelous comes back to life and continues to review things. Though, considering he no longer dies in his videos, the Jacob's Ladder review did serve as a finale of sorts.
  • The Spoony Experiment nearly ended with the Final Fantasy VIII series. Noah was having camera issues, and was about to move out of his parents' house, and didn't know whether or not he'd be able to pick up where he left off so he killed off :"The Spoony One" leaving in a Sequel Hook by a Linkara cameo.
  • To Boldly Flee was intended to be the end of The Nostalgia Critic, as Doug Walker felt he had exhausted any new ideas for the character. However, in "The Review Must Go On", it was announced that the Critic would be coming back due to Doug coming up with more ideas to do with the character. The show also underwent a slight Retool to aid in relieving production stress; reviews were scaled back from weekly to bi-weekly, with editorials from the Critic filling the gaps. note 
  • Video Game Legends by Brainfreezerrr Studios was supposed to end in January 2014 with its 14th episode. There was even an in-episode montage of the series up to that point. Cue 'Reunion' not even five months later.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • "Mortal Folly" and "Mortal Recoil" were originally intended to be the final episodes of the show in case Cartoon Network didn't renew the show for a third season.
    • The original series ended with "Come Along With Me", an hour-long finale that concluded many of the show's major plotlines, most notably Betty's quest to cure Simon of being the Ice King. Two years later, a series of specials called Adventure Time: Distant Lands began streaming on HBO Max, following various characters after the events of the Grand Finale.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has the aptly titled episode "The Finale", the final episode of the show's second season. The episode parodied the notion of negative continuity by showing that everything the Wattersons have done in the series had serious consequences, leading to them being imprisoned and, at the end, mobbed by the entire town who wants them dead. The show would end up running for another four seasons, seemingly concluding with the cliffhanger ending of "The Inquisition" before a television movie was put into production two years later to tie-up the remaining loose ends.
  • American Dad!:
    • The infamous season 7 opener, "Hot Water", was written to be aired as a finale when the writers weren't certain Fox would renew the show. When it was announced that American Dad! would continue, the episode became a non-canon season premiere.
    • "Blagsnarst: A Love Story" is another, with the entire series revealed to be Stan reading a story that chronicles how Kim Kardashian was born and putting a book called American Dad! on FOX on a shelf next to some classic novels (The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick, From Whom the Bell Tolls, and War and Peace).
  • Archer: Despite the massive Cliffhanger ending in which the main character is seemingly murdered, the Season 7 finale was this. By Word of God, they weren't sure if they were going to get renewed or not, but felt that Archer's death would be a good place to end the series if they didn't. However, they also included a few hints towards ways the Cliffhanger could be resolved if they did get renewed, which, luckily for fans, they did.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • The series played with this by naming one Season Finale "Last Last One Forever and Ever" and ending it with the titular trio moving away, with Carl poignantly saying, "Truly, they were an Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Then it was revealed that the producers were already planning new episodes, and the next aired episode revealed that the Aqua Teens moved into the other house next to Carl's. At the end of the episode, the Rabbot from the first episode returns and destroys the house. The Aqua Teens fully expect a Snap Back, but it doesn't happen, so they go back to their old house.
    • The episode "The Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time) (We Fucking Mean It)" plays off as a Grand Finale, which ends with Shake and Frylock dead and Meatwad starting a family. Three days later, the real final episode, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" was leaked onto the Adult Swim website (and aired on TV a week later), which was more in line with a typical Aqua Teen episode.
      Shake: Come on, really?
      Carl: So that's it? That's how they end it, the series?
  • As Told by Ginger has "Butterflies Are Free". For a show largely centered around the junior high experience, it focuses on graduation from junior high and even contains a retrospective montage with clips from earlier episodes at the very end. Despite this they do not Graduate from the Story. There's another season dealing with the characters in high school, and especially Ginger's maturing love life.
  • According to Bob Forward, the writing staff of Beast Wars didn't know if they were going to get renewed, so they gave the first season a Downer Ending, and the second season a massive Sequel Hook.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: The "War of the Worlds" 2-parter has a very Grand Finale-esque feel, with Ben having saved the entire universe from the Highbreed (including the Highbreed themselves), and thus reaching his peak as a hero. The episode also ends with the Omnitrix resetting itself, with Ben implying that he had yet again been locked into another new set of 10 alien heroes, an obvious Bookend to both the original and Alien Force pilot episodes. Of course, this wasn't actually the end of the series (and nowhere near the end of Ben's adventures overall), with him going on to have many, many more adventures afterward. The Here We Go Again! ending was also retconned to Ben only having unlocked a single new alien, which he starts using in the third season.
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: Even though a third season would be confirmed and the ending to the second season did leave plot points unresolved, there was still a lot of finality to the episode, to the point where it could've served as a satisfactory Grand Finale and one could be forgiven if they thought it was. Wasabi, GoGo, and Honey Lemon graduate from SFIT, Hiro accepts Tadashi's honorary degree, Chief Cruz exonerates Big Hero 6 and Globby and is allowed to know their secret identities, and the threat that was started in the beginning of the series is completely neutralized.
  • The third season of The Boondocks was supposed to be the last, with "It's Goin' Down" to serve as the Grand Finale.
  • The Crumpets: "Sound The Alarm" was the final episode of the second season and the original batch of episodes. It features the developing relationships of the teenagers Caprice and Marylin, and Pfff and Cassandra, then it concludes with a Concert Climax and Pa mentioning a "happy ending". Afterwards, two more seasons were made and also focuses on the teenagers. The episode retrospectively serves as a bridge to the events of the newer episodes; however it is the last episode of the original episodes' English dub which has its own voice cast and due to the show's partial YouTube release and geographic availability it's difficult to find some of these episodes including this one. The newer episodes have probably yet to be released in its entirety in English.
  • The Season 3 finale of Craig of the Creek is a five-part episode called "Capture the Flag" and wraps up a long running plot-line featuring the king from the Other Side of the Creek in a massive event where characters from the entire series unite to defend their side of the Creek. However, a fourth season of the show was greenlit, making this no longer the show's swan song.
  • Meet Dexter's Laboratory, the show so nice it did this twice! First was the Season 2 closer, "Last But Not Beast", a crossover where Dexter and his family, Monkey, and the Justice Friends battle a Kaiju. Genndy Tartakovsky didn't think this episode was a satisfying conclusion so he made an hour-long TV movie, "Ego Trip", where Dexter teams up with versions of himself from other time periods. Three years later, Cartoon Network noticed the amazing ratings even the reruns were pulling down and produced two more seasons without Tartakovsky's involvement.
  • The Dragon Prince: The Season 3 finale was written before the show was renewed for Season 4, and it shows. The show's main Myth Arc is resolved, as the heroes reunite the titular dragon with his mother, and there appears to be a chance for peace between humans and elves after they join forces against Viren's mystically mutated army, while Viren himself is given a Disney Villain Death. Even then, however, a Sequel Hook is thrown in at the last scene, where Claudia resurrects Viren and reveals that Aaravos' familiar has entered a cocoon, implying that the latter's own agenda is going forward.
  • DuckTales (1987): "Til Nephews Do Us Part" ended the first season of sixy-five episodes. All the major characters, and many one-time characters, appear as guests at the wedding of Scrooge and Millionairia Vanderbucks. Scrooge finds out at the last minute that Millionaira is only marrying him for his money; but that doesn't save him from being chased into the parking lot by his old girlfriend, Goldie, brandishing a shotgun! DuckTales would go on to have an even hundred episode and a cinematic motion picture. The real Grand Finale was the two-part (save-the-world) episode "The Golden Goose".
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • The Season 4 finale, "Take This Ed and Shove It", had Eddy refusing to grow up and dreaming he and the neighborhood kids have gotten old. This was followed by a fifth season which had its own Fauxnale, titled "A Fistful of Ed", in which the Eds finally end an episode being fully content. This was followed by a handful of specials and two more episodes, before the series was definitively wrapped up in the movie.
    • Another one that almost happened for Ed, Edd, n Eddy was a series finale known as "All's Ed That Ends Ed". It was written specifically to act as the series finale, revolving around the Eds and the rest of the kids trying to stop the cul-de-sac from being demolished for a construction project.
  • The Fairly OddParents and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius had the final Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, which was the intended finale for both shows. However, both series were renewed and the crossover rewritten as a result.
  • Futurama has had FOUR of these. Five if you include the video game.
    • "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings" rather sweetly concluded the fourth season, and it was canceled for several years... until the straight-to-DVD movies, culminating in the second finale, Into the Wild Green Yonder, which ended with all of the major characters flying into a wormhole, not knowing where in the universe it would bring them, but admitting it didn't matter if they never found their way back to Earth, as long as they had each other. Then the show was completely Un-Canceled, and it was revealed that the wormhole led straight to Earth.
    • Between the fourth season and the DTV movies, the Futurama video game (the story of which was written by the show's writers and so is considered official canon) also acted as a finale for the series, with Fry, Bender and Leela all dying at the end and the game forming a Stable Time Loop. After the series was Un-Canceled, the events of the game fell into Canon Discontinuity.
    • Season 6's "Overclockwise" was a third series finale in which Bender overpowers himself and Fry and Leela worry about their future together. The show writers created it in case Comedy Central didn't pick up any more seasons. The network ended up greenlighting another season though.
    • Season 7's "Meanwhile" was a fourth series finale in which Fry and Leela get stuck in frozen time together due to a time-reversing button being broken. Stuck in that instant, they make the most of it, get married, and grow old together. Once an unstuck Professor fixes the time button and sets it to make time go back to before the button was conceived, the events of this episode are undone, Fry and Leela content with living their lives over again. To add to the feeling of finality, Comedy Central followed up the premiere of this episode with the pilot episode. From it's airing in September 2013 to the February 2022 announcement of 20 more episodes from Hulu set to air sometime in 2023, it was the longest-lasting of the show's finales.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): The season 2 finale plays a lot like the end of the series with the Justice League being honored, Gotham City restored, and Ivy and Harley driving off into the sunset with their new relationship. The show's crew themselves appear to have no idea whether they'd get a third season while the episode was made, given the final "The End?".
  • Justice League had two: "Starcrossed", which is the Grand Finale to the original series, and "Epilogue", and episode of Justice League Unlimited that was the chronological end to the DCAU as we know it. It should be mentioned that every season finale was a multi-part blowout in case they didn't get picked up again. The reason for this is because the previous DCAU series (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Superman: The Animated Series) never got any major pay-offs due to being dropped unexpectedly. When the creators got to do Justice League, they decided to always end each season with a bang, just in case there weren't anymore.
  • Kaeloo: The episode "Let's Play Bye Bye, Yoghurt" was originally intended to be the series finale, and it had the characters re-create moments from past episodes and ended with a Pet the Dog moment between Mr. Cat and Quack Quack. The show wound up getting renewed, but this was the final episode of the English dub.
  • Kim Possible: The Made-for-TV Movie So the Drama was expected to be the end of the show as a result of Disney Channel's then-ironclad 65 episode rule, complete with Last-Minute Hookup. Then they got another season due to fan demand. Oddly enough, So the Drama debuted while there were still five unaired episodes (including one Two Shorts episode) that nominally took place before it, and one of those episodes didn't even air until over a year after So the Drama, by which time the Postscript Season was in the works.
  • King of the Hill had the episode "Lucky's Wedding Suit," in which Lucky and Luanne got married (and, in a shining example of Continuity Porn, many single-episode characters showed up). The show was later renewed for three more seasons (with the final episode being "To Sirloin with Love" where Hank finally discovers that Bobby has a talent that doesn't embarrass himnote  and the series ends with everyone gathering for a small, neighborhood barbecue and showing that Kahn can give his daughter a break in studying, Luanne and Lucky are happy together as a married couple and parents, Dale can please his wife better than John Redcorn, and Boomhauer has a job as a member of the Texas Rangers...and then there were the four Missing Episodes only viewable on syndication (both cable and free-to-air TV) and streaming sites, with "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day"note  as the final broadcast episode).
  • The final episode of The Legend of Korra's first season, "Endgame", with the show first planned as a one-season Mini Series. As such, it wrapped up all the major plot points: Amon's true identity is revealed and he is defeated, Korra enters the Avatar State for the first time, the love triangles are resolved by Korra and Mako getting together, and Korra learns how to restore the bending that Amon had taken away from others. Nickelodeon would go on to commission a second season partway during production, followed later by a third and fourth during that season's production.
  • Each season of Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is a major example of the idea "write every season finale as if it will be your last." Season 1 ended with an episode where protagonist Blythe moves away to another state for a few years. Season 2 ended in a two-parter in which Blythe's amateur fashion design gained international recognition and she was on the fast track to going pro. And Season 3 ended on another two-parter with Blythe founding her own convention and becoming a celebrity via the talents her friends and family have demonstrated over the previous two seasons, even ending in a Climactic Music sequence. Every single time, the following season would begin with the Reset Button being hit, with the prior events being handwaved (if even addressed at all), and things returning to normal.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had a shortened, 13-episode third season due to the series being intended as a 65-Episode Cartoon. The season finale was a Musical Episode that changed the status quo when main character Twilight Sparkle authored her own magic, Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, and returned as an alicorn princess. However, the overwhelming popularity of the series resulted in a fourth season of the show and a Spin-Off being ordered, leading to the episode being rewritten to loosely be the first part in a three-episode arc to be continued the following season. The main show would go on to have nine seasons, a movie, and a few specials, while the Equestria Girls spin-off would see several movies, specials, and shorts in its own right.
  • A rather Genre Savvy example: the season one finale of Phineas and Ferb titled "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted" was actually produced halfway through the first season; that way the producers had a final episode that they could neatly wrap up the series with all ready to air, in the event that the Disney Channel didn't renew the show for a second season or ended up cancelling it prematurely. The series naturally went on to become one of the longest-running shows in Disney Channel history.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) originally ended with the season five episode Musical Episode, "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey" in which the girls make a deal with a reality-altering gnome to rid Townsville of the villains plaguing it in exchange for their powers. Realizing that evil still lurks in Townsville in the form of a cult formed by Gnomey, and that evil will always exist as long as there is good, the deal is broken and they go to stop him. For years, this episode never aired in the United States, only becoming available years after the show's run through the complete series DVD set and digital download.
  • ReBoot ended its third season assuming that there wouldn't be a fourth season, wrapping things up nicely. It unexpectedly got renewed for a fourth season and the creators went into that with the expectation they would have at least five seasons... and promptly got canceled again.
  • Although there aren't many loose ends to tie up, most Robot Chicken season finales involve the show being canceled, should life imitate art. Given the show's high ratings during it's peak led to things like two-season orders, at this point, it's purely a Running Gag.
  • The original run of Rugrats ended with an episode where Angelica was moving away, and Tommy told the others he would miss her. When the others asked for clarification, Tommy explained how it was Angelica who made them all friends, complete with a flashback origin story. It turned out Angelica didn't have to move, but it ended up in one of her purest Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, and because of that the series later got renewed.
  • Samurai Jack had the episode "Aku's Fairy Tales", a largely comedic episode centered around Aku telling fables to a group of young children, altered to feature him as the protagonist and Samurai Jack as the villain. After failing to entertain them, Aku leaves frustrated. The kids tell their own story, wherein Samurai Jack reaches a portal to his own time period after striking down Aku once and for all. This episode, despite taking place in the imagination of children, was meant to provide some semblance of closure if the show were not renewed.
  • The Simpsons: The season 23 episode "Holidays of Future Passed" was slated to be the final episode, as FOX was having budget issues with the show. Once everyone agreed to take a pay cut in order to keep the show afloat for at least two more seasons, this was re-framed as a Christmas Episode. The show is currently on track for 34 seasons. Even before this, "Behind the Laughter" back in Season 11 has an air of finality to it. Given its setup and how most of the old staff left after this, it feels like this was the backup in case the show ended here.
  • South Park did this with "You're Getting Old". Many people at the time believed that it was, in fact, a surprise finale, as the show's creators said they were exhausted from working on it.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The ending narration of the Lost Episode, "The Sponge Who Could Fly", implies that it's truly the last episode. Regardless, a few episodes were made soon after to start production back in preparation of the then- upcoming The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
    • Said movie was indeed supposed to be the finale, but naturally, the series carried on due to Executive Meddling, and even spawned more movies (albeit with no direct links to the first one).
    • "SpongeBob's Last Stand" was thought to be the Grand Finale (and its name also suggests this), with a Near-Villain Victory (Plankton has successfully driven away business from the Krusty Krab, and Mr. Krabs was ready to hand over the Krabby Patty secret formula, until a bunch a jellyfish stopped that from happening by going on a rampage, making it a Didn't Think This Through moment for Plankton).
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: After it was cancelled in 2013, the show's truncated sixth season was released on Netflix, culminating in "Sacrifice", an episode focusing on Yoda that brought the show to something of a conclusion. At the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that a seventh and final season was coming to Disney+, eventually premiering in February 2020.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Season 1's "Mirror Gem"/"Ocean Gem" was approached as though the network would decide not to renew the series for a second season. The episode revealed that the Crystal Gems are aliens rather than mystical beings, that all the monsters they've fought are also Gems, and has Steven successfully use his abilities on command for the first time. The episode's ending conversation between Garnet and Pearl was also originally meant to be more conclusive. The show ended up being renewed for more episodes early enough that it was replaced with a vaguer exchange that would help set up the remainder of a now extended season, with the two-parter now being a midseason finale.
    • Season 5's finale "Change Your Mind" concluded the show's Myth Arc (the Crystal Gems defeat the Diamonds and convince them of the error of their ways, the Corrupted Gems are cured, Steven makes peace with his mother’s legacy, Homeworld is heading towards a brighter future, and most of the major plotlines are conclusively wrapped up). Creator Rebecca Sugar believed that this would be the final season, as the network was adamant that they wouldn't order more, forcing her to argue for a handful of extra episodes so she could even wrap things up. Then the network changed their minds, not only allowing her to do the television movie she wanted, but also greenlighting a sixth season which she decided to turn into the mini-series Steven Universe: Future.
  • Teen Titans: The three-part finale of the fourth season, meaningfully titled "The End", pitted the Titans against Trigon in a post-apocalyptic wasteland for the sake of the entire universe. Then the show was renewed for a fifth and final season, with two separate endings: a straightforward Grand Finale featuring every major character in the show, and a much more downbeat Dénouement Episode focusing on Beast Boy and a Back from the Dead Terra.
  • The fifth season of Totally Spies! ended with the spies leaving WOOHP and saying their goodbyes to Jerry. This was later followed by the Spin-Off The Amazing Spiez!, in which they made occasional cameos, and a sixth season in 2013.
  • The "Contest of Champions" arc from Ultimate Spider-Man was written to serve as a Grand Finale for the show, but at the last second, Disney XD picked up the cartoon for one more season, making it the longest-running Spider-Man adaptation to date.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: "Defender of All Universes", the Season 6 finale, has a sense of coming full circle in its conclusion that makes it feel a lot like a series finale, even when it was made with the full knowledge that they had two more seasons. If not for the fact that Honerva was still out there, the story could have wrapped up in that episode. There's even a unique credits sequence for it. Quite possibly a Mythology Gag referencing the original Voltron, which as mentioned above, also had a Series Fauxnale as its 52nd episode.
  • Winx Club was clearly intended to end with the first film, where Bloom finally finds her birth parents after three seasons searching for them and Sky asks her to marry him. But then we're given a Sequel Hook where the Ancestral Witches (whose spirits were freed when Bloom saved her home) possess the Trix. The creator of the series, Iginio Straffi, said in an interview that he always planned the show to end after the third season. The show was eventually renewed for more seasons and given two more movies (the first of which resolved the Sequel Hook), but Straffi wasn't heavily involved with them.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series:
    • Episode 13, "The Final Decision", has a number of arcs cleanly tied up in case the series wasn't renewed: The Sentinels are defeated, Beast is released from prison, Senator Kelly stops his anti-mutant rhetoric, Magneto and Xavier form a truce, Rogue and Gambit share an Indirect Kiss, and Cyclops asks Jean to marry him. It ends with a clearly-tacked-on voice-over by Mr. Sinister (and it sounds nothing like the actor who eventually played Mr. Sinister! It was all very quick-and-dirty.) to set up the next season's arc.
    • There was also "Beyond Good and Evil", written to be the finale. It was a massively massive four-parter where damn near everybody takes part in an epic that crosses time and space, from ancient Egypt to the present to Bishop's future to Cable's future and Deathbird (who was standing in the background when Fabian Cortez met Apocalypse back in "Sanctuary;" you knew there was something to that!) shows up. In the end, Apocalypse appears to be defeated once and for all. And they get renewed. The second of the intended series finales was more quiet and emotional than either of the blockbuster epic finales: Professor X is dying, and we get some Tear Jerker moments, character exploration, and one fight that ends when Magneto is told he can help save Xavier's life. As it ends with Xavier leaving for intensive care in the Shi'ar galaxy, with those he taught as the caretakers of his dream, it is named "Graduation Day". Several decades later, Disney renewed the series for another season, to premiere exclusivley on Disney+.


Video Example(s):


"Shredder & Splintered"

Believe it not, this episode was meant to be the finale for this intended mini-series, hence Shredder and Krang being sent to Dimension X. Due to the show's rapid success, it continued for 9 more seasons.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SeriesFauxnale

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