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The End... Or Is It?

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Goddamned baby ruining what would otherwise be a happy ending.
"That's all there is! There isn't any more... or is there? Heh heh heh heh heh heh... hahahaha..."
King Dice, Cuphead

An Ending Trope when the closing of the show reveals that a villain, monster, or other major threat is still out there, creating doubt as to whether or not the heroes have achieved a final victory.

This is usually a type of Sequel Hook, and often done as The Stinger. See also Eye Awaken, Finger-Twitching Revival, Not Quite Dead, Here We Go Again!, and Karma Houdini.

Compare Or Was It a Dream?, Real After All, and Schrödinger's Butterfly. Can be subverted by a Shock-and-Switch Ending.

Since this is an ending trope, there will be lots of spoilers. Or will there? Yes, there will.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Code GeassThe ending, Lelouch is dead, right? Still some fans refuse to believe their beloved character has died and reject the Word of God. There's a Really Dead Montage, and the writers repeatedly say he really is dead, they did so in interviews (e.g. Animage 10 and 11, Continue Vol.42, etc), tweets by the director (translation), the official guide book, ..., and Lelouch is listed among the dead in the Death List for R2. C.C. even explicitly says Lelouch is dead in the new epilogue (from 2009). Then it was announced that he was confirmed to be the main character in the sequel which is officially named "Lelouch of the Resurrection", which aligns with the mountain of official statements (database with official statements) about his death. The fans are, generally speaking, split in half over the issue, with the biggest split running along the language barrier: the fan theory is popular in the English speaking fandom, but has only very small support in the Japanese fandom.
  • Dragon Crisis! invokes and lampshades this trope to the T in the episode with the cursed painting — it basically mashed up all of the classic Slasher Movie tropes and played them like a violin. At the end, when everyone has escaped from the painting, and it's been safely sealed, Eriko mentions that if this was a Horror Movie... cut to a burned-out hole in the back of the painting, and the slasher's shadow appearing in the bathroom mirror to write his favorite word on it in red. Of course, it's never brought up again.
  • Sometimes, even the titular teacher in Hell Teacher Nube is unable to put a permanent end to the Monster of the Week — the best he can do is save his students from the threat, or it escapes before he can exorcise it. The series balances this out with frequent Aesops about not trusting that mysterious salesman with the shifty grin, or not talking to strangers (especially if they look suspicious or appear out of nowhere in the middle of the night,) or staying the hell away from the masked killer with the Sinister Scythe.
  • Monster. The last thing shown is Johan's hospital bed. Johan — who was presumably in a coma — isn't in it.
  • The ending of Noir: Sure, Mirielle and Kirika walk off all happy and everything, but... WHAT THE HELL WERE THOSE GUNSHOTS ALL ABOUT?
  • The ending of Oldboy strongly implies that there are still unresolved plot issues.
  • In the TV run of Persona 5: The Animation, the last scene and credits give a massive Downer Ending...until The Stinger, where Ryuji hints that they're not done yet, leading to the two OVAs that cap the series with its good ending.
  • Shaman King. At the end of Kang Zeng Bang, we see Hao still alive and well and doing what he likes. Also followed up in Shaman King: Flowers when Hana, Yoh and Anna's son, is confronted by Hao.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes:
    • At the end of season 4 episode 52, Big M. and Little M. find a tablet with a name list of those who were infected with the virus of Planet Gray. Doctor H. is one of the names on the list. Enter Doctor B., the mind-controlled Doctor H., in the next season.
    • At the end of season 5 episode 52, Big M. and Little M. get the mystic stone (which is a competition reward for 3rd place, which the turtle won) and see the residents of Planet Tuling as holograms.
    • At the end of season 7 episode 52, a smoke emerges on Planet Xing, and a voice can be heard saying Huo Haha's name.
    • In the end of season 10 episode 52, Big M. angrily says that his mission failed again and throws the green liquid outside Doctor H.'s house. It drops on Happy S.' Car Knight and its eyes start glowing red.
    • At the end of season 11 episode 52, a Galactic Prison officer asks Moondance and Shadowstar who sent them for the nuclear power, and then the lights go out, and a possessed Kalo smiles in the corner.
    • At the end of season 13 episode 52, at Star League, Xingyue has an emergency meeting that's about the Dark Demon reawakening. Further events can be seen in season 14 episode 6, where the Dark Demon defeats Justice Happy S. and calls Kafei to "create" a fake Happy S.' Jixie Stone and breaks it for the real Jixie Stone to be taken along with him.
    • At the end of season 14 episode 52, Happy S. has a vision of a diamond with a sword symbol.
  • The Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf season Mighty Little Defenders is about whether or not the goats can befriend the wolves. At the very end of the final episode, one of the wolves (Hao Hao the dolphin, from Rescue Across Time) is upset about the newly-formed friendship and wants to stop it. This suggests that the conflict between the goats and wolves isn't really over yet, and even extends to the seasons Against the Dark Force and Dunk for Victories, though at least said to a few wolves.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: "Spare Parts" ends with the 5th Doctor having apparently changed history by destroying the Cyber-Planner and sending Mondas back towards the Sun. However, a Cyberman has survived and says they will begin again.

    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering during the climax of the Eldritch Moon set the Gatewatch seals Emrakul within the moon, albeit with the help of Emrakul herself. This is revealed at the end with the implication that this version of the spell is temporary, supported by Jace's earlier conversation with some manner of avatar which had complained it wasn't the right time. Yet.

    Comic Books 
  • AtomicRobo Volume 6: Ghosts of Station X ends with a shot of Alan's house. On his island, the "camera" zooms in on a small plant on the side of the house. It's covered in circuitry, implying ALAN is not dead after all, or his plan is not finished.
  • Batman: Thrillkiller: Thrillkiller '62 ends with Bianca dead and her operation shut down, but Harley Quinn manages to escape.
  • The graphic novel Billy Majestic's Humpty Dumpty ends with Humpty Dumpty snarling and attempting to break out of his cage, complete with a caption stating the trope name verbatim.
  • Fantastic Four: In issue #52, the Black Panther has defeated Ulysses Klaw and avenged his father, leaving Klaw behind in his exploding lair. The last page is Klaw crawling towards his sound-construct generating machine and climbing in.
  • In Final Crisis, Luthor charges his power armor, and as part of the denouement, vaporizes Libra, who fades into nothing. An irritated Doctor Sivana comments it's a classic "you haven't seen the last of me" if he has ever seen one.
  • In the Groo the Wanderer story "The Aranja", Groo and Chakaal are hired to kill a Giant Spider that is terrorizing a village. Stumbling drunkenly around the spider's cave, Groo notices something he figures is important and tries to tell Chakaal, who is unfortunately too busy to listen. Soon after, Groo has forgotten the whole thing. As the heroes depart at the end of the story, the readers are shown what Groo discovered: The aranja was a female, and it had laid several eggs, which are just starting to hatch...
  • The Incredible Hulk (1962): The final issue has Bruce Banner saying, apropos of nothing and with no cause to really believe it, that the world may well have seen the last of the Hulk. The narration cuts in to say nope, it has not (though it'd be a few months before he reappeared).
  • One arc of Legends of the Dark Knight follows Batman as he investigates a mysterious, omnipresent cult using the Ouroboros as a symbol. However, he finds out that the cult is a myth, and that a crooked executive is using the idea of the cult to recruit a brainwashed murderer. After he's put the kibosh on the scheme, he receives a letter - an Ouroboros with a message: "thank you".
    • In another arc, a legendary, apparently unkillable sorcerer called the Magician stalks Gotham. He's very good at escaping, and a friend in the mystical side tells Batman that there's magic involved, though he doesn't think it's the Magician. It takes Batman until the very end to realize it's a group of ex-CIA agents in lightweight power armor, but only succeeds in capturing one alive, all others killed by the mob they wanted to rip off. However, when Gordon prepares for a final interrogation of the guy, he finds him dead in his cell, killed with no witnesses despite being in Maximum Security, and a Magician tarot card shoved in his mouth.
  • Oxymoron: The comic ends with Mary finally killing the Oxymoron, but she later finds a note sewn into her dog's abdomen indicating that he might not be truly dead after all.
  • The last page of Revival shows Nithiya Weimar buying a new riverside home. Prominently featured is a copy of Aaron Weimar's Banks of the Broken Creek, indicating that she has the means to spark another Revival in her new backyard.
  • Star Wars: Legacy: Darth Krayt falls in a lightsaber duel with Cade Skywalker and the Empire and Galactic Alliance win the Battle of Coruscant, ending the One Sith order's reign of terror. However, several prominent Sith, including Darth Wyrrlok's daughter and Darth Talon, escape, plotting to work in the shadows to regain power much as Darth Bane once had.
  • Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel, much like the Gothic Horror movies its styled on, ends with one of these — while the Queen had seemingly been killed, the final panels of the last issue show her symbiote attaching to a new host and seemingly swearing revenge.
  • There is parody of this in issue #16 of The Unbelievable Gwenpool (also final issue to be collected in the 3rd trade), which has a "The End" where the heroine's life gets reset as she never enters the Marvel Universe. Then there is the first letters page in the history of the series that she gets to comment on, which prompts a "Wait. What?!" reaction in The Stinger, where she notices the "The End" picks it up, then notices the "To be continued..." replacing it and drops the "The End" in surprise so it shatters.
  • The final issue of Wacky Raceland ends with what was obviously meant to be a Sequel Hook before the series was cancelled — after the destruction of the remains of the Butcher Shop, the remaining racers drive off, to continue surviving the wasteland. But then the final panel shows that a smaller version of the Announcer's Brain in a Jar has attached to the back of Pat Pending's head, apparently determined to continue her plans.
  • Watchmen closes on a shot of Rorschach's journal in the office of the New Frontiersman, implying that there's a possibility Veidt's plan may be revealed to the world, undoing the fragile peace that has been worked together in the aftermath of what everyone assumes is an attack from an Eldritch Abomination. A rare example where a sequel was not planned.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): At the end of this MonsterVerse fanfiction, Ghidorah is killed, and unlike the last time there's apparently nothing left of it to regenerate, and without their master, the Many (if there's any of them left) are directionless. But the final chapter implies that remnants of the Many are probably still absorbing people in Russia; and what's more, an unknown number of the Zmeyevich (heavily implied to be Ghidorah's long game key to coming Back from the Dead again in the future) are still out in the world and unaccounted for by Monarch, plus a certain Evil, Inc.note  have gotten their hands on a couple of the unaccounted-for creatures.

  • Attack of the Teacher Creature has the titular monster being unmasked as a human. However, some of the abilities from what they'd seen before don't match up, and Chapter 7 ends with a dark shadow lurking off somewhere else. Sure enough, in Trouble Island the heroes face off against a bunch of real Creatures.
  • In the Total Drama story, Courtney and the Violin of Despair, the story's closing note of uncertainty is a nod to the sci-fi classics of the 1950s, which tended to leave an opening for a sequel when there were, in fact, no plans for a sequel.
  • Digimon re:GENESIS: In the epilogue, the series ends with the Sovereigns choosing to fix the last thing they left broken, and revive the digimon. Maybe.
  • The Elements of Friendship: Each Book ends with a definitive final scene, followed by a scene wherein The Omniscient Council of Vagueness discusses how the Book's events affect their plans.
  • Hellsister Trilogy: Hellsister's very final scene reveals Darkseid kidnapped Satan Girl and Mordru's baby with the aim of grooming him to be his super-powerful and loyal weapon. The Apokolips Agenda ends with Darkseid surviving the War and plotting his revenge as his enemies believe him dead.
  • Infinity Crisis' final scene shows Thanos joining Zod and Darkseid in an alliance to escape the Phantom Zone and seek their mutual revenge.
  • Rhyme and Reason: The climax finds Ivana Killjoy apparently fall to her death as her hideout collapses. Later, as the Rescue Rangers are celebrating their leader's birthday as they'd originally planned, Chip goes outside the reflect on the events of the story. While there, he discovers a package containing a note from Ivana, as well as a broken mouse mask. The note claims that Ivana not only escaped death, but Chip has no idea what she actually is. Of course she also points out that it would have been child's play to set up the delivery through a third party in case her revenge plans against the Rangers failed. Given no secret came, readers can only speculate.
  • Tealove's Steamy Adventure ends with the villainous cultist running away, and the protagonists lampshade the fact that they'll probably see her again. The very last lines of the story are:
    "Wow." said Skylark. "Anypony think we’ve seen the last of her?"
    "Nah, probably not" said Applejack.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse short Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham ends with a Looney Tunes style circle with text appears reading "The End...?" It then flickers with the colors of the multiverse portal before cutting to the copyright screen.
  • Superman: Doomsday: Superman returns and defeats the clone Superman, who had seemingly killed Lex Luthor slightly beforehand. Then Lex shows up, critically injured but plotting a new scheme agains the Man of Steel.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • There are only ever two endings for Filipino Horror movies: a Cruel Twist Ending (especially in the Shake Rattle And Roll series of anthology films), and this. Either way, it's mandatory. No exceptions.
  • In the classic sci-fi film Four D Man the titular character is shown phasing backwards into a wall after being shot and as his outstretched hand finally disappears it displays 'THE END' but quickly replaces it with a question mark.
  • 976-EVIL: Hoax is thrown into Hell, seemingly taking the force behind the phone line with him. Then the true mastermind is seen answering another call...
  • After the credits of Aliens there is silence and a dark screen. Then the organic squelch of an egg opening can be heard...
  • Apartment 143: Caitlin's psychic issues come to a head, leading her into a mental breakdown. She's taken to a hospital in hopes of treating her, but then the cameras pick up the real ghost.
  • Arachnia: The military destroys the Giant Spider nest, but some babies are shown to have survived.
  • Attack of the Killer Donuts: John and Michelle managed to destroy all the killer donuts by blowing up Dandy Donuts, and are now a couple. The last seen shows them getting under John's bed covers, and the camera pans over to the window. Then a killer donut climbs onto the outside sill.
  • The Babysitter (2017): Cole makes it out alive and kills off all of the cult, but the last shot of the film is Bee rising up and killing a fireman investigating the scene.
  • Back to the Future trilogy:
    • Back to the Future: "It's your kids, Marty! Something's got to be done about your kids!" They didn't even originally intend for that to be a real sequel hook or even a real cliffhanger. It was only tongue-in-cheek at first, and the "TO BE CONTINUED" sign wasn't superimposed over the screen until the film was out on video after a sequel was already in the works.
    • Played straight in Back to the Future Part II; however, it may or may not count as Part II and Part III were made pretty much together, going as far as showing a trailer for Part III at the end of Part II.
  • Catwoman, thought to be dead, shows up in Batman Returns just before the end credits roll.
  • Batman: The Movie: After the "Freaky Friday" Flip that seems to defy the Status Quo Is God, Batman and Robin going out inconspicuously through the window. Then we see The End superimposed in the screen. A second later, they add the word living and a question mark: The Living End?
  • Subverted in Bats, where the closing scene shows the lone surviving bats slowly and menacingly rise up from the dirt in preparation to fly off into the sunrise, only to get run over by the heroes' SUV as they drive off into the sunrise.
  • Bedeviled: The evil app is deleted from the sole survivor's app, but the last scene shows that her mother downloaded it.
  • Used at the end of Big Trouble in Little China. (What is it with Asian villains and this?)
  • Bite ends with two women jogging and discussing their upcoming vacation. One of them is bitten by one of the strange bugs that bit Casey at the start of the film, starting the cycle again. It is furthermore implied that the infection could soon become widespread.
  • The obscure blaxploitation film The Black Six ends with still frames of the title characters, then the caption "HONKY LOOK OUT! HASSLE A BROTHER AND THE BLACK SIX WILL RETURN!!!"
  • Black Swan: On a similarly disturbing level as Shutter Island.
  • The Blob (1958): In the end the Blob is transported to the frozen Arctic and the characters hope that it won't melt. The movie itself even ends with a question mark.
  • The Blob (1988): After the Blob is beaten, a piece of the Blob is shown to be in the possession of the fundamentalist and unhinged town preacher, who declares that he will one day use it to launch the Apocalypse when "the Lord gives me a sign".
  • Blood Harvest: The killer is gunned down by his brother, who saves the final girl. Soon after they leave, the killer's eyes open.
  • Blood Pi: Amber's been seemingly shot dead, and Stephanie, Agnis, Vargas, and the Camp Gay drug dealer are in the safety of the police. The can then zooms in on Amber's eyes, which soon shoot open.
  • Blood Waters of Dr. Z also had a similar ending to Werewolf (1996) (see below), with the woman he tried to turn into a fish monster following the escaping monster into the sea.
  • Bloody Bloody Bible Camp: Homicidal nun Sister Chopper is seemingly killed, but she gets up right after the survivors leave.
  • At the end of Bloody Homecoming, Loren and Jaclyn get out of their car and head into the school for graduation. They are followed by a figure in a graduation robe who drops a sharpened stake out of their sleeve into their hand.
  • At the end of Boar, the giant boar has been killed and the survivors drive away. However, as their truck pulls out of sight, a second giant pokes its snout of the undergrowth and snorts angrily.
  • The Brain (1988): The Brain is blown up, and its henchmen are killed. Then one of its hallucinations appears on screen...
  • Bullshot (1983). The villain is supposedly killed when his plane runs out of fuel, though they Never Found the Body. The movie then concludes with a montage of photos showing the wedding of the hero and the heroine; the last photo shows the villain disguised as their chauffeur.
  • Most people know the ending of Carrie (1976): she dies. The ending of the made-for-TV 2002 remake is notably different, though. In this version, Carrie survives. She skips town and changes her appearance and identity. Regardless, though, she hasn't changed - she's still unstable and sensitive enough to lose control again later. While the endings in the both the book and the movie are final yet creepy (and perhaps the book has a touch of Or Is It? thrown in for good measure), this version implies that the horror is not over.
  • The Car: Road to Revenge ends with Daria pushing the burnt-out remains of the car off the edge of the cliff and into the lake. The final shot of the movie shows the car sitting on the bottom of the lake. And then its headlights turn on...
  • Cemetery Gates ends with the reveal that the mutant Tasmanian devil Precious has given birth to two joeys in the mine tunnels before she was killed.
  • Cherry Falls: After giving her statement to the police near the end, Jodie sees (or thinks she sees) Leonard disappearing behind a bus.
  • At the end of Christine, the metal cube that was once an evil car sits there... and one little corner bends. The original novel also hinted that the cube still had some life in it in the "first" ending, then proceeded to make it very clear that Christine was back in the epilogue.
  • Ciaran the Demon Hunter: All the demons are exorcised, including the one that possessed Ciaran, but that one manages to escape being contained and possesses a church employee.
  • Colonel Kill Motherfuckers: The homicidal zombie Colonel and his mother are both dead, but Nicholas awakens as a zombie.
  • Con Air's Garland Greene escaped. But apparently is just trying to earn some bucks.
  • The Conjuring: Bathsheba the phantom witch is exorcised and the music box the spirits appear in is placed in the Warrens' occult museum. Then it starts playing on its own. Ironically, of all the villains in the franchise, Bathsheba is the only one to not make a return.
  • In the very final scene of Copycat, it is revealed that Darryl Lee Callum from his prison cell tries to manipulate another man into killing Helen. It is heavily implied that he communicated with Foley as well.
  • The Creeping Terror: The Terrors are destroyed, but the information they collected is successfully​ sent to their masters.
  • Danger: Diabolik It ends with the titular Heroic Comedic Sociopath encased in gold and his love interest being carted off to jail. Diabolik manages to sneak a wink at his girlfriend to show her that he's still alive and she shoots him a knowing look back as she's being led away, thus implying that she'll do something to rescue him. The film doesn't elaborate what though, and the ending shot with Diabolik's laughter filling the cave despite him being in what is most certainly a hopeless Fate Worse than Death situation borders on Narm.
  • Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula: Vlad the Impaler is betrayed and killed, but he comes back to life due to being excommunicated, with it strongly implied that he'll become Count Dracula.
  • The final shot in Dark Shadows shows Dr. Hoffman reawakening as a vampire while wrapped in chains at the bottom of the ocean after being dumped there earlier by Barnabas & Willy.
  • After the animals are killed by the US army in Day of the Animals, the ending scene of the film has the eagle that seemingly has been leading the animals flying at the screen, suggesting that more attacks are to come.
  • The Deadly Spawn: The aliens are destroyed by the local authorities, but one the size of a house bursts out of a nearby hill.
  • At the end of Death Line, Inspector Calhoun, Sergeant Morris, Alex and Patricia head off, leaving a darkened tunnel. Then the cannibal's voice shrieks out "MIND THE DOORS!"
  • Played with in Deep Blue Sea. At the end Preacher asks Carter if he was sure that there were only three sharks, and Carter says yes. Then he takes his feet out of the water just to be sure.
  • A different take in Deep Rising. The monster is destroyed, but the survivors wash up on a Isle of Giant Horrors where another unseen monster is tearing through the jungle towards them. The hero can only say in exasperation: "NOW what?"
  • Dobermann ends with the surviving members of the gang laying Sonia to rest, then climbing into their cabriolet and driving off; presumably on the way to their next big score. But then the camera pulls slowly back till it is above the trees. The sound of a helicopter fades in, and crosshairs appear on the screen, slowly focussing in on the car. Roll credits.
  • Don't Kill It: The demon is trapped in a container, which Woodley drops into the Gulf of Mexico. It is promptly eaten by a shark, implying that it'll rampage once more.
  • Don't Look: The film ends with the killer burning inside a barn as Nicole drags Lorena off on a tarp (because Lorena's foot was injured by a Bear Trap earlier). Nicole says their ordeal is over... and then we see a figure walk by the barn.
  • At the end of Dracula 2000, just before the sunlight takes him, Dracula turns Mary back into a human (luckily, after she falls from the roof). The ending voice-over reveals that she and Simon have become the protectors of the vampire's ashes. The final shot is a close-up of Mary's eyes, which suddenly turn an inhuman color.
  • How could one forget Event Horizon, with the door closing at the end... automatically, because no one's standing near it. Right?
  • The original ending for Face/Off ended like this: Sean Archer returns home, but when he looks in a mirror he sees Castor Troy's face rather than his own. Archer screams and his wife attempts to comfort him, but she doesn't notice a psychotic smirk start forming on his face, all of which implied that either Troy survived and was still impersonating Archer, or that Archer's time spent as Troy had permanently damaged his psyche.
  • Fantastic Four (2005): to no one's surprise, as the crate carrying von Doom's remains is shown departing, there's a hint of life.
  • Used famously at the end of Flash Gordon, where we see a mysterious hand retrieve Ming's Ring of Power from his ashes and hear his Evil Laugh. According to his actor Peter Wyngarde, the hand belonged to Klytus, who was to come Back from the Dead and become the main villain in the (sadly, never-produced) sequel.
  • At the end of The Freakmaker, Nolter and Lynch have been killed, Nolter's lab has been burned down—destroying Tony and the mutant plants—and Brian has rescued Heidi before anything could be done to her. Or so it seems. As Heidi and Brian start making out in Brian's car, a close-up of her arms shows leaves starting to sprout.
  • At the end of Fresh Meat, Gigi and Rina kiss, and as they observe the ruins of the house, a charred hand reaches up and grabs Gigi's arm.
  • Happens quite famously at the end of the first Friday the 13th (1980) film and most subsequent ones, insinuating that the threat is not in fact over. Humorously, the first one was just meant to be a final scare, not a Sequel Hook. Obviously, it's become one with all the other movies.
  • Fright Night (1985): Charley saves Amy and all is well, then the final shot of the movie focuses on Jerry's house and we see glowing eyes looking at the pair through the window and hear Evil Ed's voice, indicating he's still alive and the new vampire of the neighborhood.
  • In the Fu Manchu movies starring Christopher Lee, after his evil plan was foiled, he would say "The world shall hear from me again."
  • Ghost Note: At the end of the movie, Eugene Burns and his guitar have been dropped into Mr. Torres' well, which he plans to fill up with cement, which will ensure he can't escape from it. Plus, Rodney got rid of the Ghost Note album by tossing it into the raging rapids. Then we see some kids playing by the side of the creek, and the camera pans over to the Ghost Note album, which is stuck in a tree branch.
  • Godzilla:
    • The 1998 American remake ends with an egg surviving, after all the effort to kill them. While the movie didn't receive a sequel, this was used in the follow-up animated series.
    • The original version of Godzilla vs. Hedorah ended like this as well. Of course, Yoshimitsu Banno was practically exiled from the studio after its completion, so...
    • The American theatrical release of Godzilla 2000 ended with a "THE ? END" as Godzilla set Tokyo ablaze in the final shot. However, the font type used ended up being far too cartoony than the U.S. producers had intended, so the text was removed in the DVD release.
    • The ending of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! shows that Godzilla's disembodied heart is still beating at the bottom of the ocean, heavily implying that he'll return to wreak havoc once again.
  • Grabbers: The grabbers are destroyed in an explosion, except for a few eggs that were ignored. Last shot of the film is one of them hatching.
  • Hack-O-Lantern: Tommy is redeemed and Grandpa is killed, but the latter manages to corrupt Tommy's brother into taking his place.
  • Hallowed Ground: The spirits of the cult's victims manage to slaughter them all, but Hathaway gets up again as our heroes drive off.
  • Halloween (1978): Michael Myers is shot repeatedly and then falls out of a window. But when Loomis goes to look, the body is gone. Turns out he really was the Boogeyman. And the parade of sequels begin...
  • Hayride 2: Steven, Amanda, and Corey have survived Ol' Pitchfork, and years later, are raising Steven's and Amanda's daughter on their home The camera then shows a discarded "Capt. Morgan's Haunted Hayride" sign on the side of the road, and lingers on it for a moment before a bit of a foot steps into the shot. Roll credits.
  • Hellbenders: The Hellbound Saints manage to banish Surtr and aver the apocalypse, but a post-credit scene has one of the experts interviewed for exposition mention that the Hell vortex was mistakenly left slightly open.
  • Hellbinders: The demons are cast back to Hell, and Max gets his soul back, but as our heroes leave the ceremony room some candles light up on their own.
  • Hellraiser: Frank is reclaimed by the Cenobites, who are promptly banished when they try to take Kirsty too. She tries to destroy the puzzle box that started this whole mess, but a winged demon takes it away and it's last seen being sold to another fool.
  • In the film adaptation of Hideaway, The Stinger shows Jeremy/Vassago being revived again at a hospital and promptly starting to murder the surgeons...but when Hatch awakens this time he explains to his wife that he was simply having a nightmare. Not only does this subvert the trope, it sets up a Brick Joke: As she soothes him Hatch laughs, having been reminded of the ending of Carrie (1976), whereupon they revive their affectionate game of naming a movie, an actor in the movie, another movie the actor appeared in, another actor who appeared in that movie, and so on.
  • The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and its sequel. In the first one, the survivors have a group hug as the camera pulls out and reveals that what is presumably another mutant watching them through binoculars. For the sequel, the survivors limp away as the camera pulls out and reveals that what is presumably another mutant is watching them on a laptop that has a long-range heat-sensitive camera.
  • Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers: The Master is chainsawed and his cult are rounded up by the police, but the Master's body disappears.
  • In the final scene of I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, the removed fuel tank of the possessed bike, which Nobby replaced before he realised that it was evil, sucks down a bloodstained rag.
  • Interview with the Vampire: After Daniel finishes his interview with Louis, Lestat confronts him and offers him death or vampirism. It is left ambiguous which Daniel picks.
  • In It Lives by Night Mystery Science Theater 3000 would see an incredibly similar film to Space Mutiny (see below) the following season, with the ending being just about exactly the same (the only tangible differences are that the guy is married to the woman and is a bat man). Well, there's also the one difference of how it came to be in "It Lives By Night", which Mike and the 'bots realize, to their horror to which they end up running out of the theater screaming.
    Crow: Now, wait a minute... how did she turn into a bat? The only contact she had with him was in the hotel, and... [Beat] ...Oh my God.
    Tom: GAH!
    Crow: OH MY GOD! I get the shower first!
    Tom: No, me first!
    Mike: Urgh!
  • Jack-O: Jack-O is killed, and his master is left an immaterial spirit. Our surviving heroes go out for breakfast to celebrate not dying. Then we pan to a pumpkin that starts glowing...
  • Jurassic Prey ends with a shot zooming in on the lake Detective Cutler lured the dinosaur into to drown it... and the dinosaur's head comes out, accompanied by a roar.
  • Just like the comic, Kick-Ass ends revealing Red Mist has gone evil for good and is now a super-villain planning revenge.
  • Killer Under the Bed: The doll has been bound and hanged again, undoing all of Kilee's wishes. The family decide to spend the night in a hotel, not wanting to spend another night in the house with the doll. Then Mandy returns and takes the doll.
  • King Cobra (1999): The giant cobra is trapped inside a snake cage and apparently gassed to death, but the film ends with a close-up shot on one of the two gas barrels (the one they used), which is actually sleeping gas. The snake wakes up and snarls in fury before the credits roll.
  • Kingdom of the Spiders ends with the survivors establishing radio contact with the outside world, only to find there's no mention of the events at Camp Verde. Then they pry a board off the window and look out to see the entire town covered in spider-silk, suggesting that Camp Verde has been completely wiped out. But the tarantulas are still out there, and they're still hungry. The residents of the next town over are in for a nasty surprise. Then there's Phoenix....
  • Kuntilanak: The kids have defeated the Kuntilanak, saved two of their own from her realm, and brought peace to Mr. Lukman by finding his missing son's body. Roll credits... then show a shot of the Kuntilanak's mirror in a flea market... then the head on top of the mirror looks at the audience.
  • The Lair of the White Worm: Angus kills Lady Marsh and the White Worm, only to learn that he mistakenly injected an arthritis cure into himself instead of the antivenom that was supposed to prevent him from being vamped.
  • Lake Placid: The heroes manage to sedate and capture the huge crocodile hanging out in an American lake, but the end shows that she had babies. This is foreshadowed earlier on when a smaller male suddenly jumps up out of nowhere before getting shot.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen does this for Allan Quatermain, who dies in the final battle, hinting strongly that he will be Back from the Dead for a sequel. (However, despite this, it's since been confirmed that there will be no sequel, mostly because Sean Connery didn't want to make one.)
  • The ending of the U.S. version of Legend (1985) has a shot of Darkness (who was apparently destroyed earlier) laughing.
  • Leprechaun: The leprechaun is seemingly destroyed by a four-leaf clover, and his body buried in a well, but at the end his disembodied voice is heard as he vows to return and find his gold.
  • After the title homicidal orangutan of Link dies, the heroine and her boyfriend pick up one of the friendlier chimps in their car. The camera then pans out to reveal the field behind them is full of dead sheep, showing us that the chimp is homicidal too.
  • The film version of the musical Little Shop of Horrors had an Audrey II growing in the garden of Seymour and Audrey's house. (Actually, this ending was a replacement for the original Downer Ending, which test audiences disliked.)
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, as an Affectionate Parody of black and white B-grade '50s sci-fi flicks, naturally ends with a bold white THE END, after which appears a question mark, in turn followed by the inevitable OR IS IT? and some Fauxlosophic Narration in the same intentionally bad dialogue style as the rest of the movie. Oh well. And sure enough, they made The Lost Skeleton Returns Again!
  • Main Street Meats: The secret of Main Street Meats' most popular product is revealed to the public, Floyd's dead, Sis is in jail, and Cherry's car is fixed, so she can continue on her trip to Vegas. Oh, and Neddy's hiding in the backseat of Cherry's car. We're then shown a To Be Continued for Main Street Meats 2: Vegas Buffet.
  • Mandroid: At the end of the movie, after Drago and Smith have been defeated, and Wade and Zana become a couple, we see a scene of a prostitute with a customer. Said customer is Drago.
  • Maniac! (1980): Frank goes off the deep end, hallucinating that his victims have returned to take revenge, stabbing himself in the stomach in his madness. The cops show up to arrest him, and find him lying on his bed. They go get the coroner, and his eyes open the moment they close the door.
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate ends with "The End?", leading Joel and the Bots to question it.
    Crow: "The End?" Yes... no! No, I wanna change my answer!
    Joel: Great. Now I'll always wonder.
  • Skeletor is revealed to be alive at the end of the Masters of the Universe, setting up a sequel that never happened because the movie bombed.
  • Mera Naam Joker opens with the titular Sad Clown Joker giving his "Farewell Performance!" At the very end, just as the show (and movie) are winding up, Joker waves his hands in a "Wait!" gesture, saying "The show isn't over!" The The End title then displays: "Positively not THE END." (But it is.)
  • Most Likely to Die: After Gaby kills DJ and Ray pumps a few more bullets in him to make sure he's dead, a spirit appears next to DJ's body, picks up his mask, and puts it on his face. Although not mentioned, the spirit is thought to be the ghost of John Doe/Dougherty, presumably ready to continue DJ's unfinished business.
  • My Bloody Valentine: The killer is seemingly crushed by a cave-in, but he cuts his arm off and escapes into the night, vowing revenge.
  • Nightbreed: The Nightbreed manage to escape the humans' attack and go on a quest to find a new home. Decker and Eigerman are both dead, but Reverend Ashberry was accidentally mutated into a Nightbreed during the chaos, and vows revenge.
  • Three of the A Nightmare on Elm Street films end this way (most of the others end with Freddy explicitly coming back).
    • Dream Warriors ends with a replica of Freddy's house lighting one of its windows.
    • The Dream Master has Alice briefly seeing Freddy's reflection on a fountain before its surface is disturbed.
    • The Dream Child ends with a shot of the ghost kids reciting the "One, two..." rhyme on the foreground of the oblivious protagonists.
  • The 90s comedy Nothing but Trouble ends with one of these. Valkenvania is destroyed in a massive gas explosion, and the heroes make it back home when a news report reveals that the hick Hanging Judge is still alive and is going to pay his "grandson-in-law" a visit.
  • The last shot in the remake of Ocean's Eleven shows Ocean, free from jail and reunited with his girl, driving past the camera and seemingly off into the sunset, but after a fairly long delay, we are passed by another car which seems to be following them, driven by two mooks of the Big Bad.
  • In Out of Sight, gentleman bank-robber Jack Foley and straight-arrow federal agent Karen Sisco have an affair, despite the fact that she's supposed to put him in jail. At the very end of the movie, after she's apprehended him, he's in the back of a van taking him from Detroit back to prison in Miami when he discovers that Sisco has gone out of her way to transport another prisoner with him: a convict nicknamed Hejira Henry, whose specialty is escaping from jail. Foley realizes that the two have a lot to talk about on the ride back to Miami, and instead of an "Or Is It?" title, we get an extreme close-up of Sisco's smile.
  • Spoofed with The Stinger to Pacific Rim. The corpse of a monster is twitching ominously... then a character who'd been swallowed whole earlier in the movie cuts his way out with a knife.
  • At the end of Patrick, the title character leaps from his bed despite apparently flatlining and crashes into a cabinet in what Dr. Roget assumes is a motor reflex. However, after Kathy closes Patrick's eyes and leaves the room, he awakens again.
  • In Pizza, after the reveal that the haunted bungalow was a hoax that Kunal and Nikita came up with to explain the missing diamonds, Kunal makes one last pizza delivery to a birthday party... which turns out to be for Anjali, the evil spirit introduced early in the film, as the door slams shut behind him.
  • In Q: The Winged Serpent, before the credits roll, an egg of the creature is shown that cracks open, revealing the monster's offspring.
  • Ravenous (1999), a horror Western that uses the idea of the Wendigo to posit that cannibalism makes you superhuman but is addictive, ends with the hero, who has himself become contaminated, killing himself and the main villain in a Heroic Sacrifice. Then a military relief party arrives at the fort, and the General commanding it innocently sits down to eat the stew that was still heating on the fire...
  • Rawhead Rex: Rawhead is seemingly sealed away by an ancient totem, but he bursts out of the ground at the end of the film. Also counts as Spared by the Adaptation since in the original short story, he's killed by an angry mob.
  • Things seem to be going well at the end of Rewind (2013): New York City has been saved thanks to the unpredictable and largely untested power of time travel, the time travelers have beaten all odds to return safely, and mission control is celebrating with a party. Unbeknownst to them, a member of the military brass who helped ensure the mission's success has made his way down to the portal room, ready and waiting for the exact moment when the supposedly unsteady portal opens again. He enters the portal with a handgun, and moments later the heroes (still attending the post-mission party) watch as the sunny, mid-day sky darkens to a night-like blackness in the space of a second.
  • The ending of the American remake of The Ring indicates that, yes, she figured out how to not be killed by the ghost girl, but, as her son points out, what will happen to the person who has to watch the videotape to save her son?
    • The original book has an even more drastic version: Asakawa copies the tape twice more for his wife and daughter, showing the copies to her parents, but as he's driving home, he looks back to see them both dead. Copying the tape wasn't the answer in the first place.
    • And the Japanese movie adaption ends by saying how they'll continue to spread the curse from one person to another, over and over.
  • The Ripper: Richard is gunned down by the police and Jack the Ripper is trapped in the ring once more. The next morning, some kids find the ring and bring it home to their mom.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes ends with the revelation that it wasn't nuclear bombs that destroyed humanity. It was a plague.
  • In Santa's Slay, Santa is destroyed while flying in the sky on his sleigh, but shows up just before the end credits in an airport traveling incognito.
  • Satan's Slave: Darminah is seemingly destroyed by the power of Islam, but the ending has her stalking the protagonists, waiting for their faith to lapse again.
  • Scarecrow (2002): The scarecrow is seemingly burned to ash, taking Lester's spirit with it, but then he shows up in the framing story and kills the guys telling it.
  • Sharkenstein: After Sharkenstein and Duke are blown up in the lighthouse, Madge declares the nightmare will never be over, walks back to the dock, and has a seat in a chair. Then Sharkenstein leaps out of the water right at her.
  • SheChotic: After Maxine's alter ego vanishes and she confesses to the crimes, it's revealed that her half-sister is starting a different scheme, against her this time.
  • In the (original version of the) horror movie The She-Creature, a hypnotist uses a woman in a trance to summon an aquatic monster from beyond time. After being mortally wounded by it, he banishes it forever. But the final shot of the movie shows the ocean, and a big "?" over it.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: At the very end of the film, Watson is typing up the events of the film in his study, and ends it with a simple "THE END". Then he opens up a package Mary just handed him, containing something which implies that Sherlock (whom he had last seen plummeting to his death over a waterfall) is still alive. Watson leaves to ask Mary more details about the package, only for Sherlock (who is sitting in plain sight using the urban camouflage he demonstrated earlier in the movie) to get up, read over the manuscript, and add a single question mark.
  • Subverted in The Silence (2019). The protagonists go Oop North because the vesps don't like the cold, but Ally thinks that they might adapt. We then see a vesp flying across a land covered in patches of snow and landing on a dead animal filled with vesp eggs...only to get shot by an arrow fired by Ally. She then says they'll just have to adapt as well.
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night: The killer is gunned down by the police, but his younger brother repeats his Madness Mantra, implying he'll follow the same path.
  • Slash (2002): The killer and his son both appear to burn alive, but the film ends with the son killing a realtor and announcing his intent to kill more.
  • Slashers: Megan wins the competition and all the slashers are dead, but the film ends with more Slashers episodes being promised.
  • Sledgehammer (1983): The film ends with the killer (in child form) staring down from an upstairs window at the escaping Chuck and Joni.
  • Occurs at the end of Space Mutiny, notable only because of the commentary when it became an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. A slow, meandering shot of the villainous Kalgan's body, and...:
    Servo: And, his eyes open.
    Crow: An-n-n-nd his eyes open.
    Mike: His eyes open.
    Servo: Eyes open.
    Crow: Eyes open.
    Mike: His EYES open.
    Crow: Come ON!
    Servo: Man!
  • In the Street Fighter movie, M. Bison lives, but Raúl Juliá less so.
  • Super Mario Bros. (1993) ends just after Daisy has returned to her homeworld and the two parallel universes are closed off forever... and then Daisy walks in holding a gun and dressed like a soldier, saying, "Mario, Luigi, you're not going to believe this..." This rather extreme kind of sequel-trigger rarely seems to be picked up, although Mortal Kombat: The Movie was an exception.
  • Played with in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Super Shredder is crushed underneath a collapsing dock, The Turtles recover from the collapse, and THEN A HAND SHOOTS UP OUT OF THE RUBBLE! "No one could have survived that!". Then the arm drops with a groan. He's done for. Granted, there is a sequel, but it is not based on the ending of II.
  • Terror Birds: The terror birds have been killed, but they managed to lay a couple of eggs that have managed to hatch into healthy babies.
  • Them!: The giant mutant ants are all wiped out, but it's pointed out that there have been a lot more atomic tests since the one that created them...
  • While this trope debuted in the 1950s version of The Thing from Another World, the 1980s version (simply titled The Thing (1982)) featured a less direct version of the trope. In the end, Macready and Childs are the only two characters remaining. It's not stated whether one or the other, or both of them, are infected by the Thing, with the film ending with their outpost burning, and the two of them deciding to "Wait and see"...
  • The epilogue of Timber Falls. One year has passed since Mike and Sheryl survived their ordeal. The couple put their baby to bed and leave the room. As the movie ends, the camera fades over to the window where Deacon's double blade sickle suddenly appears.
  • The Tooth Fairy (2006): The Tooth Fairy is burned and her victims all go to Heaven. Everybody moves away from the house, due to the traumatic memories. Then the witch appears in the window...
  • Tormented (2009): It looks like Darren has vanished forever after killing all his targets and framing Justine for the murders. However, a scene in the credits shows him going after an asshole soccer coach.
  • Troll: The cornerstone to Torok's world is destroyed and the world collapses around him. Then, as the cops are investigating, Torok grabs one, presumably to take his form.
  • Subtly played with in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, in which the audience realises at the end (or on a second viewing) that the Cold Open is actually an achronological Stinger revealing that Chad has survived his apparent death to become a full-scale slasher-movie villain.
  • The last scene of Varsity Blood shows a hand plucking the carving out of the jack-o'-lantern in the farmhouse window and vanishing into the darkness.
  • Werewolf (1996), in which the movie's final scene takes its own sweet time in revealing that the Love Interest of the werewolf is now also a werewolf, again much to the impatience of Mike and the 'bots.
    Crow: Ending conceived and written by a tube worm.
    Mike: C'mon, dead people know what's going to happen!
  • The Werewolf of Washington: Jack is killed and freed from his curse, but he managed to turn the President into a werewolf beforehand.
  • The first and second Wishmaster films both have this kind of ending. It's made very clear that the Djinn is not permanently defeated when he gets resealed in the fire opal, but after the upbeat ending for the heroes the last shot slowly zooms in as the Djinn is biding his time in his prison, waiting to be awakened again.
  • Witchboard ends with the landlady cleaning the apartment that the climax took place in, finding the shot-up Ouija board and tossing it in the trash, saying that it won't work anymore. Then the planchette moves...
  • The Wizard of Gore: After a series of twists, the movie ends with a textbook "The End... Or Is It?" card.
  • Combined with Oh, Crap! at the conclusion of The Wolfman (2010), as the film ends with Inspector Aberline clutching his bite wounds and realizing he's been infected with lycanthropy too.
  • The extended ending to The Wrong Cheerleader: Back in Action has the stalker Rob take a sinister interest in another cheerleader while she practices outside. This scene wasn't part of the original Lifetime premiere, and the implication is Rob was either never convicted of murder or released very early from prison.
  • Just before the credits roll in X-Men: The Last Stand a depowered Magneto is seen sitting in the park, in front of a table with (presumably) metal chess pieces. He holds his hand forward, and one piece tilts ever so slightly before the screen goes black. Also, it's made fairly clear that Professor X has possessed the body of the brain-dead man they showed earlier on in the movie, who is apparently his twin brother.
  • At the end of Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, Veidt and all of the vampire dogs have been destroyed. however, just before the final credits roll, the audience sees the vampire puppy Zoltan created earlier digging its way out of its grave.


By author

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • The first chapter of his novel of Fantastic Voyage. The characters are hoping a Soviet scientist's defection will turn out well:
    Happy ending?
    [Owens] frowned at the intonation in his mind that had put a question mark after those two words.
    Happy ending! he thought grimly, but the intonation slithered out of control so that it became Happy ending? again.
    • Foundation's Edge: The story ends with the layers of deception and counter-deception being pulled back and explained. Trevize asks Dom to clarify why Gaia had hidden all references to Earth. Dom, however, doesn't understand because they don't know anything about Earth, either. A huge cover-up that is still unexplained.
    (for now)
  • Stephen King does this a lot:
    • The Stand has an epilogue which shows that the villain survived, and is trying to recruit new followers.
    • Christine ends with Dennis (who is writing the whole story down years later) telling the reader that Detective Mercer had Christine compacted into a 2x2 cube of metal. But, says Mercer, a policeman got a bad cut on his hand while feeding the pieces into the crusher; "He said it bit him." Then Dennis recounts a piece he'd read in the paper recently of a homicide-by-auto in California... a drive-in theater worker who just happened to have the same name as the one surviving member of the gang that victimized Arnie and Christine. He's pretty sure it's not over.
    • Needful Things closes with the reader being welcomed to Junction City, Iowa (see "The Library Policeman" in Four Past Midnight), where a new curiosity shoppe called "Answered Prayers" is just getting ready to open....
    • "The Monkey" in Skeleton Crew. At the end, Hal Shelburn and his young son are determined to get rid of the murderous toy, once and for all. They put it into a flight bag weighted down with rocks and drop it into the deepest part of Crystal Lake (not that one). But they can hear its cymbals banging as it sinks, and the boat starts to break apart as Hal frantically rows back to shore. They both get there safely and go home, but Hal wonders if it's over after all, and imagines a day when a young fisherman might hook himself an unexpected surprise. The story closes with a newspaper article detailing the story of a massive fish die-off on the lake.
    • Carrie ends with a woman named Amelia writing a letter to her sister, discussing the fact that her two-year-old daughter has begun to display telekinetic powers. Downplayed, however, in that Amelia is no Margaret White — her only concerns about her daughter's abilities are health related. (She recalls that her grandmother had the same abilities, but that she also had heart problems, and worries her daughter will inherit that, too.)

By work

  • Used verbatim at the end of the Copper-Colored Cupids short story The Resurrection of the Wellsians, which ends with the entire cast (save the villains) stranded on Venus. There's room for them to find a way to make an uneventful return offscreen, but
  • Book two of The Dinosaur Lords ends with the heroes being knighted and pardoned for all, Grey Angel Crusade destroyed and everyone (mostly) happy... before Rob discovers another Grey Angel right behind the leader of heroes' faction.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: The ending of Fire Ascending, though specified as definite by D'lacey, seemed...less then definite. Though the ending was played off as a Nested Story Reveal, Bergstrom had the mark of Oomara which David never knew about, and Gadzooks came alive on Elizabeth's grave...
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only in Death, Hinzerhaus appears to be haunted at first. Gradually, various explanations - not all scientific - are given, until it seems that the phenomena have been explained away. The very last part of the novel, excluding Hark's final diary entry, then suggests that maybe the fortress is really haunted after all.
  • Nearly every Goosebumps book ends with one of these. The last few lines of each book usually reveal that one of the monsters is still out there, that something is still stalking the protagonists, that the safety they thought they gained is probably an illusion, the person they rescued isn't actually safe, or that whatever victory over the monsters they achieved is probably not real. Or might not be real. It's sometimes ambiguous, but not in the "Was it all just a dream?" sense.
  • The Gun, a short story by Philip K. Dick. A spacecraft investigating a planet destroyed by nuclear war is shot down by a robot anti-aircraft weapon. Fortunately they're able to approach the weapon on foot and deactivate it, then repair their spacecraft and take off. They plan to return later and remove the contents of the archive that the gun was protecting, unaware that underground robot repair units have already been sent to put the gun back together again.
  • The ending of The Historian has somebody sending the narrator one of Dracula's dragon books, suggesting that he's either resurrected, or that someone else is continuing his activities.
  • Point Horror Unleashed did this with The Bogle. Peter defeats the titular monster, his brother and best friend make a quick recovery and everyone seems to be getting on better due to the experience. Then the epilogue kicks in, with an American family lost in the Highlands on a foggy night. The final lines remark how close to midnight it is during the dark of the moon (the time when the Bogle appears).
  • At the end of The Relic, the monster has been killed and it seems that everything's okay again. Only one of the scientists at the museum has figured out that the monster was actually a missing explorer who was transformed after ingesting a type of herb. And said scientist has obtained the herb and plans on cultivating it as a drug called "Glaze" that he intends to sell on the streets in order to finance himself. Sure enough, a sequel followed suit two years later.
  • The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror ends with the heroes capturing the bad guy, Wallace Nussbaum, and sending him to be imprisoned in the Chateau D'If. Then, in the last scene, Nussbaum's voice takes over a movie showing, as he announces that he has escaped and will soon reign in terror all over the world.
  • The Wheel of Time has this on a repeating timer - every few thousand years, the Dark One breaks free and brings an apocalypse. It's up to the equally-recurring heroes to clamp down on him - and if they lose once, it's all over for the past, present, and future. However, they can't kill the Dark One, because that would leave the world a vapid, empty shell.
    Duty is heavier than a mountain, death is lighter than a feather.
  • Wicked seems to suggest, with it's last lines, that the main character may have survived her encounter with Dorthy on some level, or at least may be coming back.
  • At the end of the Wings of Fire stand-alone novel Darkstalker, the other main characters, unable to kill the titular Darkstalker because he is immortal and invincible, have enchanted a bracelet to put Darkstalker to sleep and buried him underground. After the epilogue of the book ends, there is a very short post-epilogue that shows the bracelet being broken by and earthquake and Darkstalker awakening.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: At the end of the Season 1 finale "Beginning of the End", the Clairvoyant, presumed killed in a previous scene, is shown alive and crawling into a machine that painfully turns him into a nearly unstoppable cyborg, and laughs that the good guys failed to stop him. Immediately averted as Coulson appears with an alien weapon and blows the guy's head off.
  • An episode of Airwolf involved the eponymous helicopter's designer programming a doomsday failsafe into its main computer, which was supposed to electronically trick the United States and Russia into launching their nuclear arsenals at each other. While the heroes and the special guest heroine (who happened to be a computer expert and "usually beat" Airwolf's creator at chess) were able to regain control and prevent a nuclear war, the light-up key that had initiated the whole thing flickered fitfully just before the closing credits, implying that it could all start over again if the heroes weren't careful.
  • Arachnicide: The spiders are killed and the survivors are rescued, but some mysterious men take the spider corpses for their own purposes.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?:
    • "The Tale of the Final Wish": It was All Just a Dream, or was it? The Sandman appears at the end of the storybook with the closing narration "The little girl went back to sleep, promising never to believe in fairy tales again. If only she knew she never would have gotten into that bed again!", implying that he will continue to haunt Jill.
    • "The Tale of the Hatching": One of the alien reptile eggs is still intact, and begins to hatch.
    • "The Tale of the Curious Camera": The gremlin has been vanquished from both the eponymous camera and a camcorder, but then its insignia appears on a computer screen.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Used in a number of episodes, especially in the early years, which left a lot of What Happened to the Mouse? in its wake. For example, at the end of "Teacher's Pet", slow pan to Mantis eggs hatching under a shelf.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • The episode "Bloodline" ends with the mother of the evil Roma family telling her son "Don't tell them about your brothers". After the team translates what she said, it cuts to a scene involving a family similar to the captured one, getting ready to kill a couple and abduct a girl to be their son's bride.
    • The episode "Solitary Man" has one of the team mention on the ride home the number of "highway serial killers" active in the country at any given time. It then cuts to a dark highway, where a lone hitchhiker is picked up by a truck identical to the one used by the (now dead) killer featured in the episode.
  • Danger: UXB. In "Butterfly Winter" hundreds of German anti-personnel bomblets are scattered over a village and the entire unit has to take part in Bomb Disposal. As the unit drives away at the end of the episode, a bomblet they've missed is shown hanging from a tree above the road.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Second Doctor's debut serial, "The Power of the Daleks", ends with the TARDIS fading out next to the crushed remains of a Dalek... and as it does so, the eyestalk rises to watch it disappear.
    • The next Dalek story, "The Evil of the Daleks", was meant to see the Daleks Killed Off for Real, but at the last minute the production team were instructed to show some indication that some Daleks had survived. Unfortunately, since the last episode no longer exists, accounts differ as to what it was.
    • "The Tomb of the Cybermen" ends with the Cybermen being sealed back in their Tombs. However, as the Doctor and his companions move away, a Cybermat is seen outside the Tombs.
    • Meant to have happened at the end of Davros' debut story "Genesis of the Daleks", to show Davros' life support system still on. However, this detail got left out in production.
    • "Logopolis": After the Fourth Doctor falls from a tower and lies dying while he reflects upon his life, he looks up to his current companions and grins, stating "It's the end. But the moment has been prepared for." and points towards the mysterious watcher. It's quite a moving moment considering that it's made to look like he may not be coming back at all.
    • At the end of the Sixth Doctor serial "The Trial of a Time Lord", the Doctor has overcome all the Valeyard's convoluted plans, and seems to have defeated him, only for the Keeper of the Matrix to turn around and reveal that it is actually the Valeyard, hiding among the "respectable" Time Lords.
    • At the end of "Last of the Time Lords", a mysterious female hand retrieves the Master's ring from his pyre and laughter is heard (a direct Shout-Out to the Flash Gordon example in the Film section). Just over a season down the road, sure enough, the Master is revived using the ring. That time he was possibly killed and there was no Or Is It. Although nobody seriously thought he wouldn't return.
    • "Amy's Choice": At the end, the Doctor sees the Dream Lord's face in the console instead of his reflection, and he smiles. He looks away, worried, and when he looks back his reflection is there.
    • At the end of "Nightmare in Silver", the planet the Cybermen were on has been destroyed. As the Emperor's ship leaves, a Cybermite is seen floating through space.
    • "The Return of Doctor Mysterio": UNIT is raiding the Harmony Shoal's bases and their plan has been scuttled... but the alien brain in the body of Dr. Sim possesses one of the UNIT soldiers...
  • Parodied in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, in which Ray is home alone for the weekend and Robert teases him about it, before adding "Or ARE you?"
  • Goosebumps: "A Night In Terror Tower": The two protagonists and the sorcerer escape execution by traveling to the future, but at the last moment it's revealed that the Lord High Executioner had obtained one of the magic stones. (Though this is only in the TV episode, the book has a happy ending.)
  • The season 1 finale of Heroes, which builds up to the final defeat and killing of Sylar, shows signs he's potentially alive (which it turns out he is for season 2, albeit somehow weakened).
  • The 2007 Hong Kong drama Last One Standing centered around Hei, who was framed for murdering his stepfather. Once he was released, he set out to clear his name, only to learn that the star witness against him, his own cousin Yeen, was the real murderer. The two battle it out with all their wits, with Hei ultimately clearing his name and Yeen in prison and paralyzed. However, the final shot of the drama lingers on Yeen's Kubrick Stare, with a voiceover from him stating that their battle is far from over.
  • Lavalantula: The lavalantula queen is blown up, taking out the whole colony with it, but the last line of the film is "Many have wondered if we have seen the last of the lavalantulas."
  • Played for Laughs during a MythBusters Comic-Con Q&A. A fan has just asked Jamie if the "Clean Up Or Die" signs in M5 are aimed at Adam.
    Jamie: Well, he's still here, isn't he?
    Adam: Or am I?
  • In Power Rangers RPM, the Rangers defeat Venjix and Earth is restored. The last shot of the series is the rangers' morphers, with one of them containing the Venjix Virus, being locked away. This is picked up on in Power Rangers: Beast Morphers.
  • "So, that's all for this hypothetical edition of QI... Or Is It? Yes, it is. Goodnight."
  • At the end of the Red Dwarf episode "Polymorph", we see that the pod containing the titular shape-shifting monster actually contained two of them. We then see the crew walk past a corridor with two Listers in tow. The remastered version has a Revised Ending, with a caption stating that the second polymorph concealed itself in Lister's clean underwear drawer, where it died of starvation many years later.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Parallels" has Worf begin the episode by attending a surprise birthday party and then slowly discovering that he was jumping between alternate universes. Eventually, he ends up on an Enterprise that figures out a way to get him and all the other Worfs to their original universes, though Data notes that he may end up a few days in the past or future. He ends up just before the party with everything seeming normal... except there is no party: Troi knew Worf would dislike the idea of a surprise celebration due to Klingons preferring to spend their birthdays alone. Eh, close enough.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • "Bride of Chaotica" (which takes place in the Captain Proton holoprogram) concludes with Dr. Chaotica dying, whereupon music plays on an imagizer and the words THE END appear... followed by a question mark and Chaotica's Evil Laugh.
    • Played more seriously in the two-parter "Year of Hell", about a scientist who creates a ship that can alter time itself, creating all kinds of hell for himself, countless civilisations, and Voyager. After the vessel is destroyed, history gets a Reset Button back to 'normal' and we see the scientist in a happy moment at home with his wife (who'd previously been wiped from existence). The camera finishes on a shot of scientist's table, on which lie the plans for the timeship.
  • Supernatural:
    • In the episode "Tall Tales", after Sam, Dean, and Bobby leave, the body of the Trickster they'd just staked through the stomach disappears. Turns out it was only an illusion the real Trickster created. He comes back in "Mystery Spot".
    • Another episode called "Monster Movie" is filmed to resemble any of several old horror movies. The end card is "The End...", with a question mark appearing after a moment. Actually, it was The End. They did gank the Monster of the Week with no repercussions since.
    • At the end of the Season Five finale, Dean has gone to live with his old flame and is trying to settle down to life without Sam. Pan back from Dean at the dinner table with Lisa and Ben, to see Sam standing under a streetlight, watching.
  • In Monster of the Week episodes of The X-Files, the show often closed on a shot of the creature under a bed, or the supposedly dead creature opening its eyes, or even a disassembled computer lighting up.

    Multiple Media 
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers ended "Enter The Nightbird" with a shot of Nightbird's optics lighting up just as she's being sealed away. It's not sure why, seeing as she's never used again.
    • The opposite version of "The End?" appears at the end of the second season finale of Beast Wars after Megatron launches a devastating blast of energy into the original Optimus Prime's head, creating a time storm that threatens to destroy the entire universe. Right before the credits, you see "To Be Continued..." followed by "?"
    • Unicron is seen still in one piece and possibly alive at the end of Transformers: Armada. Sure enough, the rest of the Unicron Trilogy confirms this.
    • The infamous The Beast Within comic ends with the eponymous Beast falling off a cliff to his death Jetfire asking if it's over, but Optimus asks him him backif is it really over. The "Ask Vector Prime" online column would later pick up on this, saying that with the large slaughter the Beast did on Autobots and Decepticons, there was nothing that could stop Unicron from destroying this universe.
    • During the end credits of the 2007 Transformers live-action movie, Starscream (who escaped the F-22 Raptors in pursuit because they had bigger fish to fry) flies out of Earth's atmosphere and shoots straight up, presumably returning to Cybertron for reinforcements.
    • Transformers: Animated did this with a few of its one-shot villains, usually to leave open the possibility of their return. So far, most of them have come back at least once, so it's a useful strategy.
    • Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark ends with the eponymous artifact landing in a Generation 1 universe, as the resident Optimus Prime watches its descent and proclaims he feared this day would come.
    • Transformers: Devastation ends with a glimpse of Nova Prime, who was revealed beforeheand to have been corrupted by Unicron during his colinization efforts, awakening.

  • The music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" has Jackson turning into a zombie, summoning his dancing zombie pals, and surrounding his girlfriend in an abandoned building. She then wakes up next to un-zombie Michael Jackson, who looks at the camera revealing werewolf eyes at the very end.
  • The first half of Into the Woods ends on "into the woods and out of the woods and happy ever after. Beat I wish." The second half shows what comes after the traditional endings of interlinked fairy tales, a.k.a. Sondheim and Grimmification.
  • The final track of Sabaton's album The War to End All Wars, "Versailles", begins as a Triumphant Reprise of the opening track, "Sarajevo" (about the outbreak of World War I). "Versailles" begins hopeful that the treaty will bring lasting peace before about 2/3 of the way through, the chorus is replaced with that of "Sarajevo" before finally asking if a war can end all war and if this war will only bring another. Spoiler alert: It did.
    Will this war really end all wars?
    Can a war really end all war?
    Will this war bring another war?
    It’s the war that will end all wars!


  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance's Ivalice was supposed to vanish, right? Well, in its Radio Drama, after the supposed ending in the game ends, the music stops, and a voice from Montblanc says towards Marche that he wanted to meet again in the dream. May it be that the dream Ivalice is still there or that it was Montblanc's Final Speech is still a mystery.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: The end of the first game ended with the godmodder rage quitting, vowing that he would get revenge on everyone.
    • The second game ends with the Godmodder being revealed to be Not Quite Dead after all, setting up a potential DTG3


    Video Games 
  • A common video game use of The End, Or Is It? is to punish the player for not getting 100% Completion: without every MacGuffin recovered, the true villain isn't fully defeated and is alluded to in the end credits (such as in the Kirby games).
    • The extra endings in Chrono Trigger (obtained by defeating Lavos after only completing certain chapters) are chock-full of these. In a particular case, Frog proceeds to face Magus alone, there is a cut to the credits just as the two are clashing, battle noises are heard throughout the credit roll, and in the end a caped silhouette, who might be Frog as well as Magus, stands victorious above Magus' Keep.
    • Especially the Chaos Emeralds from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. At least in the old ones where you actually had to collect them yourself.
    • Though sometimes it's the other way around, and the player's imperfect completion allows them to finish the game with a 'and that's simply the end of the villain' vibe. If the player were to push things, the conspiracy would unwind and further troubles would ensue.
    • True Crime: Streets of LA does this transparently; the conclusive ending isn't available until following false leads to three Or Is It? endings.
  • Another common use is to have everything neatly wrapped up after the main game, and throw that in to doubt upon getting 100% Completion, as a Sequel Hook.
  • Alone in the Dark (1992): when Edward Carnby finally escapes from Derceto, he calls a taxi to go back home... and then it is shown that the driver is a monster.
  • In the finale of Asura's Wrath 870 million years later, all the deities have reincarnated as regular people. But then asura attacks a Meteor just like how he did in the first trailer.......
  • At the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum, one of three villains will reach out of the water and grab a floating crate of TITAN.
  • The last thing we see in Beyond Good & Evil, after the credits have rolled, is a DomZ spore attached to Pey'j's hand.
  • The next-gen Bionic Commando has two for the price of one. After the credits roll, a pair of messages show up in morse code. The first one is translated to English, and suggests that Project Vulture might not be as totally shut down as the ending makes it look. The second stays in Morse Code... but players have translated it into a German message regarding "Phase 2" and "Project Albatross."
  • Blaster Master 2 for the Genesis ends with "THE END", then ellipses fade in to view one at a time, followed by a question mark.
  • Castlevania: The Adventure: After the credits roll and our standard The Ruins I Caused shot, all is well in the world. But wait... what is that bat flying out from the ruins of the castle?
  • After defeating the post-credits boss in Chakan: The Forever Man, you're treated to an image of a slowly-emptying hourglass, and nothing else. But if you are very, very patient, eventually the words "not the end" will appear for a few seconds, and then the game will soft-reset. Ironically, the game never did get a sequel.
  • The Soviet campaign in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 ends with the reveal that Yuri is still alive after his physical body was destroyed along with the Kremlin, and transferred his mind into one of the brains stored in his laboratory.
    Yuri: It would have been good to see inside your mind, General. I still may get a chance.
  • Condemned:
    • Condemned: Criminal Origins ends with a particularly cryptic instance of this. It shows the main character vomiting into a sink, only for him to turn around and show he has the same metallic jaw as the Big Bad, with the skin of his face peeling away grotesquely around it.
    • Condemned 2: Bloodshot also ends ominously. The ancient cult responsible for the sudden increase in violence is revealed to include the President of the United States as a member. Also, SKX, the hero's archnemesis, is revealed to be recruited as well, with the same metallic dental work.
  • Contra: Beat Mission 6 in Shattered Soldier and Neo below an A rank, the True Final Boss turns out to be Not Quite Dead...
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ends with the game's Big Bad Monokuma reawakening and swearing to continue his plan to spread despair to the world.
  • In Namco's classic Shoot 'Em Up Dangerous Seed, after you destroy the alien colony and finish the game, The Stinger reveals that the actual Big Bad is still out there, and that the peace will not last long. It ends with the words "To Be Continued". Unfortunately, there's no sequel for this game.
  • The Darkness puts a twist on this by having a sequence that suggests that the complete defeat of the hero at the hands of his Enemy Within might not be all it seems. Shortly before he's seemingly overtaken by The Darkness, a conversation between Jackie and Jenny ends with the odd exchange:
    Jackie: Am I dreaming?
    Jenny: Yes. You have to wake up.
  • Dead Rising: After completing the final case, "The Facts", the screen displays "ALL CASES CLOSED! BUT..." At this point, there is still about fourteen hours before Frank's scheduled to be picked up from the mall via helicopter, so the player has to keep playing until then to reach the end of the game. The player must also find and talk to Isabella around 10 AM if they're aiming for the best ending.
  • The original Dead Space ends with an indistinct shape in the darkness that appears to be a necromorph lunging at Isaac, showing the face of his dead love interest, overlaid with a red filter covered with alien runes. It has greater significance in the sequel.
  • In Diddy Kong Racing, after Wizpig is defeated a second time, he loses control of his rocket that blasts off into the stars and blows up. Though once the ending is over, Wizpig's ship appears flying over the horizon, capping off with his signature laugh.
  • Heavily implied in the secret ending of Dirge of Cerberus.
    "It is not yet time for slumber... We still have much work to do... my brother."
  • Donkey Kong Country pulls a trick ending on a player while fighting the Final Boss King K. Rool. A brief credit roll with a "The End?" right as he gets up to fight another round.
  • In the second Drakensang game, after defeating the Final Boss, saving Nadoret and Raul's Crown and watching the final cutscene... you're rewarded with a cutscene showing some thorwalian pirates arriving at Nadoret in the middle of the night. Is actually a sort of sequel hook for the expansion.
  • The original Ecco the Dolphin ends with a dolphin asking you if you think that the alien race you just defeated is truly destroyed.
  • Eternal Twilight: The ending seems to show all the locations of the world at peace, until it cuts to Sidamo Mountain, where Minerva is possessed by an unknown entity and claims the dangerous COSMOS relic.
  • F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R Perseus Mandate both have this trope after the credits, though it is noticeably absent from Extraction Point. In the first game, there is a phone conversation between Genevieve Aristide and the mysterious Senator. In Perseus Mandate, a Nightcrawler delivers a sample of Fettel's DNA to the mysterious Senator.
  • A subtle example comes from Five Nights at Freddy's 3: completing Nightmare (Night 6) shows a newspaper reporting how a fire at Fazbear's Fright completely gutted the place, with a lone Freddy figurine against a black background. Brightening the image reveals Springtrap lying behind it, suggesting he survived the fire too, and since the story says that the surviving relics will be sold at a public auction...
    • The "Golden Freddy" mode's cutscene in Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location reveals that Eggs Benedict is still alive, is actually Michael Afton (the son of the murderer). Now he wants revenge against dear old dad for essentially sending him to such a terrible fate to begin with.
  • Played for laughs in a fan-made Frozen Throne campaign, which is supposed to be an unofficial alternate sequel to the original campaign. It ends with Arthas regaining his sanity, standing trial, and getting executed. Kael incinerates his body, leaving behind his crown and his sword. After paths divide, the screen fades to black and THE END appears. The scene shifts to the sword and the crown, and a random civilian called 'a man' picks them up saying 'I wonder who left this here?' The screen fades to black again and the sign '...OR IS IT?" appears.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved: After the ending credits, 343 Guilty Spark is shown "alive", flying in space.
    • Halo 3 has a variation where it's not the bad guys but the hero who is still out there, drifting in a wrecked ship and in a stasis pod, waiting to wake up when he's needed again. In the extended finale available only when beating the game at the hardest difficulty, the wreckage is shown tumbling towards Requiem to start the events of Halo 4.
  • House of the Dead. Both villains are most definitely dead and they're still making plans.
  • In inFAMOUS 2, the good ending has Cole activating the RFI, a device that cures the plague (a radioactive disease with no other known cure caused by Ray Sphere radiation) with the nasty side-effect of killing conduits in the process, including Cole. In the end, Zeke sails out into a storm on a boat with Cole's coffin in tow and the screen goes dark. Just then, a lightning bolt shaped suspiciously like a questionmark lights up the screen over the boat.
  • King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human, in obvious sequel bait.
  • The ending of The Last Ninja 3 is a nearly verbatim example, made hilarious by the total lack of punctuation.
  • Limbo of the Lost uses these exact words in its ending, showing Fate and Destiny about to throw down again with a new human pawn, promising a sequel to pick up where the game leaves off.
  • Mega Man examples:
    • The end of Mega Man 3 gives a glimpse of Wily's saucer escaping.
    • Mega Man 6 appears to have a less open ending than its predecessors (instead of "dying", Wily is finally caught and jailed), but then "To Be Continued..." appears, making it obvious that he's got a plan.
    • The Mega Man X series does this more often than not, from Sigma's ominous message in X1 (wait a while after the credits) to Axl's fate and the question of Reploid destiny in X8.
    • Mega Man Zero 2 ends with an unknown agent activating something called "Omega". This would be a mere teaser for next game, except for one little detail... the bosses you've been fighting in these first two games have all had omega symbols on their health bars.
    • Mega Man ZX Advent ends normally unless you're on Hard. That mode ends with a cliffhangery Man Behind the Man revelation.
    • Mega Man Battle Network games 2 and 3 end with an indication that Bass is still out there. Interestingly, the payoff for BN3's Bass scene comes in the postgame sidequests of that very game, not in the sequel.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Ocelot calling the president about the situation and letting slip that the president is not only involved, but one of the Snakes? MGS2: Otacon finding out the Patriots have all been dead for 100 years? MGS3: That Ocelot has handed the Legacy to the US Government, who he's been working for the whole time? MGS: Portable Ops: Ocelot's in on the true forming of the Patriots?. The Stingers of MGS 4 and Metal Gear Solid V are aversions, however, with 4 providing a pretty unambiguous conclusion to Solid Snake's story arc, and V simply leading into the plots of the already-released Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and Metal Gear Solid.
  • Each of the games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy has one of these as its best ending. In the first game, the end of the credits cuts to the bubbling remains of Metroid Prime, out of which a clawed, eyeballed hand rises, revealing Dark Samus. In the second game, we see the glowing blue particles of Dark Samus reform in space. In the third game, Samus is followed off by the Delano 7, Sylux's ship.
  • Mother:
    • After the credits roll at the end of EarthBound Beginnings, there's a shot of a mysterious man at a telephone, mentioning that "something new has come up". Which leads us to...
    • EarthBound's post-credits epilogue had Ness awakened by knocks at the front door, just like at the beginning of the game — but it's Picky at the door and not Porky, there to tell Ness that he has a note from his brother, proclaiming "Come and get me, loser!" Which, as it turns out, he is not successful in doing.
    • And finally, Mother 3's ending sees the world being completely destroyed as a result of Lucas's pulling the final needle and summoning the Dragon from below the earth. The screen then goes black and reads "END?" By making the word 'walk' around, dialogue from the characters is revealed, saying that they're all fine. Their actual fate is left ambiguous, though, dialogue from the Magypsies and Porky suggests that the world has just been reborn, meaning that they get a new slate after the previous destruction.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, three endings do this. The Coffin Ending ends with "To Be Continued...", while the Safe Ending and the Sub Ending end with "The End... Or is it?". Playing this trope straight.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath features this trope, in addition to a double Tomato Surprise, when the Big Bad, Sekto, turns out to have been a Brain Washed Steef, and the real Sekto was the parasite clinging to his head, which is later seen swimming down the river. Sadly, Oddworld Inhabitants dropped out of the video game business after this game, but they're on their way back.
  • Overlord. With the Jester being blasted with some sort of magical power, accompanied by the line "But evil always finds a way."
    • This is followed up on in the Expansion Pack, Raising Hell, where The Jester is heavily implied to be behind the awakening of the Forgotten God and thus the events of the expansion pack, but as for a full explanation, we'll just have to hope the sequel or one of the spinoffs provides it.
    • The sequel has one, with Gnarl noting that the Overlord may soon be brought down by many threats to his power. Some of which are biding their time...
  • Portal:
    • In Portal the player character destroys GLaDOS and makes her way the eff out of there, and it's all sunshine and rainbows and kittens (putting aside the fact that this takes place in the same universe as Half-Life and she's likely screwed in any case), and just as we're led to believe that there might be some semblance of an ending, the camera meanders through a series of pipes to find the heart of the complex, where GLaDOS seems to wake up again, then begins singing a jaunty tune about how she is Still Alive and you're going to die long before she does.
    • Portal 2 once again ends with a song that suggests that things aren't quite as wrapped up as they first appear — in this case, it both hints that GLaDOS may not have successfully deleted Caroline after all — or else that alone didn't purge her of foreign influence — and that GLaDOS had deeper reasons for letting Chell go than simply deciding to take the "easy way" after killing her had proved too difficult.
      • Congratulations! You've completed the Portal 2 multiplayer co-op campaign! You and your little robot avatar buddy should be very proud that you solved all those devious plots, and secured that completely worthless information that looked possibly like either a way for the GLaDOS AI to escape or schematics for a Kill Sat. The actual ending is you discovering a batch of thousands of cryogenically frozen people who GLaDOS implies will be her new test subjects in the freshly rejuvenated Aperture Science Human Enrichment Center. And then blows up the test robots again.
  • Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy ends with Nick shouting "I remember everything now! and helicopters about to attack... then... it cuts to black with "to be continued".
  • In the credits sequence for Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Razorbeard can be seen flying away. Similarly, at the end of Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, a terrified Red Lum transforms into André.
  • At the end of the "The Trouble with Clones" DLC for Saints Row: The Third:
    Jimmy: "Steelport is safe once again. But who knows when the Saints and their new allies may be called upon to protect her. The end... Question mark?"
  • Secret of Evermore ends with the Big Bad in his unaltered form chuckling with the words "The End?" A Sequel was never made.
  • Inversion in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter — the game starts with one of these. It's in the manual!
  • The end of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus showed one of Big Bad Clockwerk's eyes lighting up on his disembodied head. Somewhat subverted, since the second game reveals that Clockwerk really is dead, and somebody else ends up taking over Clockwerk's body.
  • In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, the sorceress's hand rises out of the lava after the final boss fight. However, if the player gets the one hundred percent complete (collect all the dragon eggs and gems), she can be killed for good.
  • In Star Fox 64, if you reach the planet Venom the easy way, you see Andross's face laughing as the team ventures off towards the sunset. If you reach it the hard way, defeating the real Andross in the process rather than a robotic duplicate, you just see a banner saying "THE END". Either way, he turns out to be still alive in Star Fox Adventures.
  • In Sweet Home (1989), if one gets the perfect ending (all five party members alive), the five characters are seen together, happy. As the ending closes, a face turns around and reveals that it's a monster!
  • System Shock starts with the "hero", a nameless hacker, breaking into the Trioptimum computer system. He gets caught, but escapes jail by unfettering an AI for a corrupt executive. All hell breaks loose as the AI creates a horde of mutants and cyborgs. On completing the game, the hacker refuses all reward and instead goes back to his computer... Only to break into a fresh network and discover yet more genetic experiments going on elsewhere. The sequel, set some time after the first game, has a new hero defeating the same AI once again on a space cruiser. However, the end reveals that it escaped by infecting one of the members of an escape pod.
  • A Tale of Two Kingdoms, for every ending except for the best one (mostly because you left the assassin on the loose...)
  • Once you play all the way to the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan on Game Boy. We get the ending shot of the Turtles having saved April O'Neil, while an epilogue tells us things might not be over... and then we see the Technodrome (presumably) fall into a pit of lava. The credits roll and once they are finished, we see a pic which says "The End" with a still image of Krang below it. Wait a few seconds and Krang villainously laughs (and his face clearly reflects his mood) and "The End" becomes "The End?"
  • Tenchu 2. SUZAKU IS ONIKAGE.
  • They Bleed Pixels. The Book of Claws is destroyed, the protagonist is back to normal, and the evil headmaster is dead! But there are many, many more books just like it in the library, just waiting for another curious little girl to pick them up...
  • Turtle Head: The original version of the game ends with Principal Dale admitting he murdered his son Simon, the titular Turtle Head, before the events of the game. Between the lack of blood and no body being found after he was shot, the implication is that Turtle Head really is a ghost and will come back to haunt the school again someday.
  • A notorious example from Undercover Cops: The True Ending of the game has the heroes survive and succeed in capturing the Big Bad. In The Stinger, although the heroes seem to put the Big Bad inside their minivan to send him to the police station, the next final scene shows empty handcuffs lying on the shaking floor (in the minivan), confirming that the Big Bad escapes from the minivan while it's being driven. Unfortunately, there's no sequel for this game.
  • In Undertale, the true pacifist ending either subverts the trope or plays it straight, depending on how you reached the ending. After "THE END" appears, the screen transitions into static and cuts to Asriel who asks you if you really believed the game was finished. He then changes back into his child form and kindly tells you that you still have the credits for the Kickstarter supporters to watch. After those credits are finished, the end is reached and it's truly the end. However, if you completed a genocide run on your last playthrough and sold your soul to the first Fallen Child, you can get the true pacifist ending as normal, but the ending shows the main protagonist possessed by the Fallen Child and it's heavily implied that they have killed everyone or will get around to it.
  • The Ending Sequence of Wing Commander 2: Special Operations 2 has that Evil Laugh... (and, of course, the message "To be concluded in Wing Commander III" after the credits...)
  • Wizardry IV. "You wonder if there was something you missed..." The best ending follows up with "then you realize there isn't".
  • Wonder Boy in Monster World ends with the words The End on a starry background, then suddenly the boss music plays and the Big Bad flies over the text, changing it to To Be Continued. He then winks and disappears.
  • Beating World of Final Fantasy for the first time unlocks the Trophy "The End?" After your return to the title screen, a new menu option with only one option, "No!" appears. Selecting it begins a new sequence with Reynn in a dive and a voice asking her "You will not accept this? It was your doing. Yours. And now you would refuse to accept the consequences?"
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, Ishizu says Reshef will probably never rise again, and the last thing you see before the credits is Pegasus's ruined castle, then the still shot of him from the opening with the evil grin.
  • The arcade version of Zero Wing shows this Engrish text in the ending before looping back to the start:
    "Congratulation!! AD 2111, all bases of CATS were destroyed. It seems to be peaceful. But it is incorrect. CATS is still alive. ZIG-01 must fight against CATS again. And down with them completely! Good luck."

    Web Animation 
  • Gotham Girls's third season ends with its Big Bad, locked up in a refrigeration unit, suddenly opening her eyes (which are red all of a sudden) and ominously breathing against the glass, cracking it.

  • Used as a deliberate spoof of the trope in this episode of Irregular Webcomic!.
  • Played with in this strip of Looking for Group.
  • Spoofed in this strip of The Order of the Stick. Also invoked in this strip, in which Elan describes how (as far as they know at the time) everything is resolved, paired with panels showing that this is not the case.
  • Spoofed several times in the end of a Sluggy Freelance arc. Each potential last minute plot twist is resolved immediately. Except for the last one, which was a joke. Played straight, too. What happened to Zoe?

    Web Original 
  • Played for laughs at the end of the first final (!) battle between The Angry Video Game Nerd and The Nostalgia Critic, with the Critic's bloody hand raising towards the screen after being defeated by Super Mecha Death-Christ.
  • At the end of the puppet sketch "Dangeresque: Puppet Squad" on Homestar Runner, the two Dangeresques caught the guy responsible for one time stealing their curly fries...
    Sharktooth Bubs: Or did you?
    • Also the end of The theme from Dangeresque II: This time, it's not Dangeresque I.
      Dangeresque: Or did I?
  • At the end of KateModern: Precious Blood, a brief glimpse of Terrence can be seen, cackling gleefully.
  • In the very last episode of lonelygirl15, after even "The Ascension", Lucy posts a video entitled "In My Sights", saying "It's not that easy, Jonas".
  • In Seeking Truth, the final blog post seems to indicate that Zeke Strahm has, indeed, gone crazy... and is now on the run. In Dreams in Darkness, Zeke himself pops up to hint that Damien's Slender-blog was not an in-universe fabrication.
    • He's popped up in a number of other Slender-blogs, and is still sporadically posting semi-cryptic messages on his original blog.
  • Referenced in this wiki-answers article about tides.
    "When the concept of universal gravitation was introduced, it quantified the forces involved and neatly accounted for the ocean tides. Today, anyone can tell you that the tides are caused by the "gravity" of the moon. Or are they?"
  • Shipwrecked Comedy's The Case of the Gilded Lily ends with the words "The End!" Then the exclamation point becomes a question mark, and we get the Sequel Hook.

    Western Animation 
  • A favorite of various 80s cartoon villains, including Mumm-Ra and Megatron. One gets the impression that the writers had a variety of potential "deaths" for the bad guys in mind, and just wanted to get them all out of their system.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius:
    • At the end of "Attack of the Twonkies!" once all is taken care of, Jimmy realizes he and Carl forgot something — they didn't send Sheen's Twonkie (who never mutated due to Sheen's horrible singing) back to Twonkus-3, and it reproduces, its offspring hopping into Retroville, and one of them is seen against a "The End?" screen.
    • Parodied in "Sleepless in Retroville". It shows Jimmy, Carl and Sheen celebrating that they defeated the Pizza Monster, only for it to rise screaming "Fools! Haven't you ever heard of sequels?". Then it's revealed that it was just a dream... of the Pizza Monster.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers pulled this with "Scarecrow." The titular villain is chased off, running away from a burning house and lit on fire. Shane, Niko, and Zozo are back on Ranger-1, preparing for takeoff, speculating on just what the Scarecrow was. As they take off, the technician that was gassing up their ship chuckles and melts, revealing the very much alive Scarecrow.
  • American Dad! spoofed this in its giant James Bond parody episode "Tearjerker". Roger (as the titular villain) falls into an active volcano. The last scene shows the top of the volcano with the words "The End", but a moment later Roger's badly burned hand reaches up and grabs onto the "ledge", as a question mark appears. ...But then Roger loses his grip and falls back, the question mark disappearing as well.
  • In The Angry Beavers episode "Dag For Night", Dagget and Norbert's attempt at finishing the unfinished Oxnard Montalvo B-movie The Not Too Friendly Creature From the Off-White Puddle Who Will Eat You ends with "The End?", except Dagget melodramatically reads it as "The End... Question Mark?" That, and the movie ended with the Earth exploding.
  • The ending of the Archer episode "Edie's Wedding" reveals that Barry's severed robot head is still alive.
  • Played with in "The Laughing Fish" of Batman: The Animated Series. The Joker fell into the ocean very close to a hungry shark. Commissioner Gordon asks Batman a bit later if he thinks the Joker's really dead. Batman says he wishes so, but that he has his doubts. The camera closes in on the Joker card that Harley has thrown into the ocean in mourning and then it's eaten by the same shark, managing to make the viewer certain both that the Joker survived and that he did so only by the skin of his teeth (so to speak) at the same time.
    • In fact, countless TAS episodes end on this trope. Especially when they introduce new villains, the episodes always seem to end with a hint that the villain will return.
    • Happens for good guys, too. At the end of the episode in which Batgirl was introduced, Bruce Wayne straight-up says "I'm sure we'll be seeing her again."
  • Played straight in Batman Beyond: Inque gets one of these. Unsurprisingly, she comes back. Curiously, Big Bad Blight also gets a textbook The End (Or Is It?) in the first season's finale (to the point where Terry himself seems to completely expect that he'll come back), but never reappeared.
  • The CatDog episode "Nightmare" has the titular twins facing off with the movie monster Toothpick Head, only to find it is Winslow in disguise. After a Multilayer Façade, which lampshades the trope with Winslow saying "Or is it?" when he reveals he's wearing a Toothpick Head mask, and CatDog flees the house, Winslow sees the real Toothpick Head raiding the fridge for a midnight snack. The scene then turns black displaying "The End?" dripping in blood.
    Winslow: (after scaring CatDog out of the house) Oldest trick in the book! (sees the real Toothpick Head raiding the fridge and screams)
    Toothpick Head: Second oldest trick in the book! (growls as the scene fades to black)
    (The End? appears dripping in blood)
  • The Danny Phantom episode "The Ultimate Enemy" ends on this. The villain indeed was set to return for the Grand Finale, but the original writer was fired and replaced, resulting in an alternate outcome.
  • Used for humorous effect in Family Guy, when, after Peter Griffin's epic fight with the chicken man, the camera zooms in on its unconscious form to see that it's still alive.
    • At one point, Stewie causes Matthew McConaughey to go down in an air accident and then says that Ron Howard is next. And then denies it. And then invokes The End (Or Is It?) (Scare Chord and all). And repeats those last two steps a few times over.
    • During an early season episode, Death has this awesome line:
      Death: Oh I'll be seeing you all, real soon. Ehehehe, is he joking? Hehehe.
  • In Fanboy and Chum Chum, "Dollar Day":
    Fanboy: Chum Chum! What did you do?! That was our only dollar!
    Chum Chum: Or was it?
    Fanboy: Yes, and you spent it!
    Chum Chum: Or did I?
    Fanboy: Yes! I saw you put it in the machine.
    Chum Chum: Or did you?
    Fanboy: Why do you keep talking like that?
    Chum Chum: Cause I lost our only dollar!
  • Spoofed in one episode of Freakazoid!: "The End. Or is it? Yes, it is!"
  • In the opening credits of an episode of Futurama, "Or is it?" pops up on the title screen.
  • The ending of Gravity Falls. The Big Bad is destroyed, all the loose ends are tied up, and the heroes ride off into the proverbial sunset… but before he died, said Big Bad said a prayer to the Axolotl invoking it's power "that I may return". And the last shot of the show is a suspiciously ominous and lingering shot of a statue in the Big Bad's likeness, resting in the forest…
  • Green Eggs and Ham: The narrator says this word-per-word just before Sam finally recognizes the taste of his mother's Green Eggs and Ham.
  • The Hollow: At the end, when the winners are revealed, Kai looks at Vanessa for her to smile devilishly at him as her eye glitches out. Also, it's never explained what exactly happened to damage the code and cause all the glitches in the game, as the host's reactions imply they were a serious danger and those things weren't planned.
  • Parodied in Johnny Bravo. At the end of The Color of Mustard, Pops concludes his story about Johnny's failed badminton career with an ominous "Or did we?" aimed at the audience. This is more of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment given Pops' tone of voice.
  • My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too ends with a voiceover of Pooh, Darby and Tigger saying "The End" over a streamer in the sky that reads this, followed by Tigger humorously asking, "Or is it?"
  • At the end of The Magic School Bus Spins a Web the movie-within-the-show Stand By Your Mantis ends with a screen saying "The End...Or Is It?" also ending the episode, implying that the movie has created a Sequel Hook about the return of the giant mantis.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Pony of Shadows seems to be Real After All at the end of "Castle Mane-ia".
    • After curing Fluttershy of vampirism at the end of "Bats!", a camera zoom at the end reveals that she still has a hint of fangs.
  • Ned's Newt: At the end of the episode "Happy Blood Altar Ring To You", when Mrs. Flemkin puts on the sacrifice ring, she finds the Jajamojos in her house, much to Ned's horror.
  • Brick Joked in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Invasion of the Ferb Snatchers". At the beginning, Candace watches an SF movie, ending on a shot of the movie setting, and "The End ?" written over it. At the end of the episode, we see the backyard of the Flynn/Fletcher-home, and "The End ?" over it.
    Amanda / Candace:"But it was all right here! Oh, why did I think anyone would believe me? I was a fool! A fool!..."
  • The highly, er... surreal "The Mysterious Mr. Friend" episode of Rugrats ends like this.
  • At the end of the Sandokan cartoon, the eponymous hero has regained his rightful throne of Sarawak, defeated and captured the wicked Rajah who usurped it, made friends with his other enemy Lord James and married his beloved Marianna (Lord James's niece)...but Baron William — Lord James's right-hand man and Sandokan's bitter rival for Marianna's heart — cannot bring himself to end their feud and helps the Rajah escape. The final shot is of the Rajah and the Baron contemplating vengeance as they sail away in a small boat...
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in "Behind the Laughter": "The dream was over. Coming up next, was the dream really over? Yes, it was. Or was it?"
    • "Co-Dependents' Day" featured a Star Wars parody, specifically spoofing the prequels. The entire film is just the galactic senate deliberating on a budget issue. At the end, they finally reach a preliminary consensus, and Yoda, acting as speaker, says "tabled, this motion is.... or IS it?"
    • In "Natural Born Kissers", Bart and Lisa find the alternative happy ending of Casablanca, which ends like this.
    • The "Treehouse of Horror VI" segment "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace", where Groundskeeper Willy was basically Freddy Krueger, ended with Willy seemingly killed in Bart's dream. After waking up and walking outside, Lisa worries that Willy's still out there, waiting to kill them. Cue Willy anticlimactically stepping off a nearby bus and making mock scary faces at them until the bus leaves, forcing him to chase after it because he left his gun on the seat.
  • Used in the final (but not planned that way) episode of the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) series, not with Robotnik, but with Snively... and someone else. Word of God is that the someone else was Naugus, who had escaped the Void.
  • Subverted at the end of the first South Park Halloween episode, "Pinkeye", when Zombie!Kenny bursts out of his grave... only for a statue from a nearby gravestone to fall on him. And then a jetplane crashes into him.
  • Parodied in Spliced, when Peri and Entree are stalked by a golf cart they drove for a while and then abandoned. When they destroy the cart in the volcano, the characters comment that they're glad their ordeal is over. The screen then flashes the message Or Is It?, then shows the volcano again, and then says, "Yeah, it probably is."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: At the end of "Planet of the Jellyfish", when Patrick orders a Krabby Patty without mayonnaise, considering it is the weakness of the Jelliens (aliens that resemble jellyfish), this shocks SpongeBob as he looks suspiciously at Patrick, cutting to a "The End?" card as the episode ends.
  • This is the phrase Early Cuyler from Squidbillies uses to end his threat/prayers:
    Early: Amen... pulls knife Or is it?
  • Much like the rest of the shows in the DCAU, Superman: The Animated Series loved using this trope, especially for its early episodes that introduced most of the rogues gallery:
    • The 3-part pilot concluded with Brainiac being found by a team of alien explorers, which ended with him slaughtering the crew, hijacking their ship, and piloting it on a course to Earth.
    • The first episode with the Toyman revealed that he had escaped the destruction of his hideout and was still at large.
    • "A Little Piece of Home" concludes with Lex Luthor's team searching for more pieces of kryptonite to use as weapons against Superman.
    • Each of Metallo's first two episodes ended with him apparently being killed, only for the very end of the episode to reveal he was still alive.
    • The first episode with the Parasite has him left in a comatose state after accidentally being exposed to kryptonite when he'd absorbed Superman's powers. But then he absorbs the energy from a rat and starts smiling.
    • Livewire's debut concluded with her getting electrocuted after being exposed to a burst of water, which left her apparently brain dead. But during the last shot of the episode with her hooked up to a life support unit, her eyes start lighting up...
    • Even Mr. Mxyzptlk got a moment like this in his first episode. At the end he's permanently defeated by Superman and is stuck in his own dimension, but apparently has given up his obsession with trying to beat the Man of Stee—- oh no wait, no he hasn't.
  • The alternative ending in "The Good, the Bad, and The Tigre" in El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera plays with this. In the "The End" screen, the Narrator questions "Or...does it?" adding a question mark, then clarifying "Yes, it does", thus removing the question mark.

Dun Dun DAH!

Alternative Title(s): The End Question Mark


He Exists Outside Time Now

Even though Danny has won and his future has been altered, it's hinted that the Ultimate Enemy may one day return.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / SequelHook

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