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Unfinished Episode

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This is where an episode for a TV series is considered to be made, but ultimately ends up not being produced due to complications (the most common being "The show was cancelled before it could be completed," but other roadblocks that can lead to unfinished episodes include, but aren't limited to: writers'/actors'/directors' strikes, a tragedy that makes the news and turns the episode into a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment or Harsher in Hindsight, budget restraints, and issues with cast and key crew members). In some ways, this can be considered a Missing Episode. The only difference between this and Missing Episode, however, is that while a Missing Episode is an episode that has been made, this is where an episode for a TV series never gets finished. However, it may have dialogue recorded, and/or storyboards or animatics made.

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Compare Development Hell and Vaporware, for when an episode, film, project, or product is not officially canceled but doesn't seem likely to ever be finished.

Compare Missing Episode and Banned Episode. A subtrope of What Could Have Been.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Peter David's final issue of The Incredible Hulk is a Distant Finale with a Daily Bugle reporter talking to Hulk's sidekick Rick Jones about various stories that had happened. These plots would have been written had David not quit the series over creative differences with executives.
  • The last issue of Boris The Bear includes teasers and cover art for upcoming issues, but no more were produced.
  • An unpublished Howard the Duck story by Steve Gerber would have established the non-Gerber written Howard the Duck stories as creations by the Krylorian Chireep, much like the Rampaging Hulk stories were retconned to being the work of the Krylorian Bereet.
  • A Justice League/Avengers crossover was created 20 years before JLA/Avengers came out. The script was completed and George Perez started illustrating it but then Marvel and DC had a falling out. By the time they reconciled enough to try again the cast lineups and universe history changes necessitated scrapping the original script and starting from scratch.
  • Rumor has it that had Mark Millar not defected to Marvel Comics, there would have been one more arc of The Authority in which the team battles against Jesus Christ.
  • There were plans for The Little Mermaid comics to expand on Ariel's mother. It was scrapped for being too dark. The character was later expanded on in Ariel's Beginning, the third movie, but vastly different. In the comic, dubbed Portrait of Life, her name was Atlanta and she befriended a human named Duncan. She dies saving Duncan from an avalanche Triton made. In the movie her name is Athena and she dies by being crushed by a ship, saving her oldest daughter.
  • Dreamwave's bankruptcy and closure put a halt to the Transformers Generation One and Energon ongoing series, as well as leaving the miniseries The War Within: Age of Wrath (3 out of 6) and Transformers/G.I. Joe: Divided Front (only 1 out of 6) unfinished. Beast Wars: Shell Game didn't even get a single issue finished, although Simon Furman would recycle elements of the planned story into Beast Wars: The Gathering for IDW. A complete list of books that had been solicited and/or planned can be found on TFWiki.net here.
  • BIONICLE:
    • "Comic 12.5" of the Ignition series never got finished, though the script was made available online. It was just a short filler story anyway.
    • Graphic Novel #10: Power of the Great Beings was to be the second graphic novel with fully original content, but it never got beyond having its cover designed. It got canceled when the two previous graphic novels produced poor sales, concurrently with the toy-line ending.
  • The Valiant Comics Unity 2000 mini-series was going to cross over and merge the VH1 and VH2 universes, and a third universe would be introduced and destroyed, showing potential ideas from before the VH2 era. The mini-series was cancelled before its resolution, ending at issue #3 of 6.

    Film 
  • Ivan the Terrible Part III has a complete script, but its production was stopped by the political troubles that held up the release of Part II, and Author Existence Failure put an end to plans to resume it.
  • The fifth BIONICLE Direct-to-Video movie was scrapped along with the toy series (and the planned sixth film). The story writer shared a potential early plot synopsis online, though it's not considered canon.
  • There were several planned films in the Carry On... that were due to be created but many never saw past the scriptwriting.
    • Carry On Smoking was planned to be released in 1961 that was set in a fire station, which had a plot similar to Carry On Constable, but there has been no reason given to why it was scrapped.
    • Carry On Again, Nurse was attempted to be brought back a couple of times — the first being in 1968 after Carry On Doctor, and then again in 1977, and finally in the 1980s. The latter try was stopped abruptly when the deaths of Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey occurred within a few months of each other.
    • Carry On Flying was abandoned in 1962, which was about RAF recruits — presumably a bit like Carry On Constable.
    • Carry On, Spaceman was set to be about a British (or rest of the world) POV of the stupidity of the Russia vs USA space race, but it was shelved for later and then abandoned.
    • Carry On Dallas faced controversy and threats of lawsuits from the creators of the popular TV show Dallas and was immediately abandoned.
    • Carry On Down Under was going to be filmed in Australia, but the production company realized that the budget wouldn't survive the big move.
  • James Bond:
    • When it was clear that Roger Moore was serious about retiring from the role, the original plan for the 15th film in the series (and the 25th anniversary) was to be a prequel. In the original version, a twenty-something James Bond teams up with a senior agent named Burton Trevor on a mission to infiltrate the jungle compound of a Chinese warlord named Kwang. Trevor would die helping Bond escape, Bond would hunt down and kill Kwang and subsequently be promoted to the Double-0 section, taking Trevor's old number "007". The story would end with Bond getting the mission for Dr. No. Albert R. Broccoli rejected this, claiming that no-one wanted to see James Bond as a rookie. Despite Broccoli's wishes to the contrary, Casino Royale (2006) would depict Bond as a newly-promoted 00 agent.
    • Had Licence to Kill not underperformed at the American box office, Timothy Dalton would have done a third film. It would have been called The Property of a Lady and would be about an attack on a Scottish nuclear facility that threatens to set off World War III and Bond’s efforts to stop it taking him to Tokyo and Hong Kong. It would also feature Bond’s battles with another 00-Section spy, Denholm Crisp (played by Anthony Hopkins), who had been his mentor but had become a traitor. Legal disputes prevented it from being made and during the long hiatus, Dalton moved on.
  • Peter Sellers planned to star in a sixth official The Pink Panther film - The Romance of the Pink Panther as a Grand Finale to the series. It would have seen Clouseau fall in love with a jewel thief named "The Frog" played by Pamela Stephenson and turn evil. Due to hostility between Sellers and Blake Edwards, Sidney Poitier would have directed the film. Two drafts were written before Sellers' death, each with different endings. Edwards attempted to replace Sellers first with Dudley Moore (who turned it down due to not wanting to fill Sellers' shoes) and then with Rowan Atkinson (who was rejected for not being well-known enough) before deciding to take a different route with Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther.
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    Literature 
  • Seeker Bears: A tie-in manga called Lusa's Tale was meant to be released; it got far enough that it had cover art released. However, it was cancelled when Tokyopop closed its North American operations.
  • Warrior Cats: There was to be a guidebook called Allegiances of the Clans, about the political, friendly, and romantic relationships in the Clans; however, this was cancelled by the publisher for unknown reasons. Secrets of the Clans was also to contain a short story about Fernpaw and Ashpaw leading the dogs to the gorge, but this didn't make it into the actual book.
  • BIONICLE Legends 7: Invasion was only partially written before being canceled due to poor sales. Then, the writer's computer crashed, deleting it for good.

    Tabletop Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Nebula: The Mercury comic, which never ended up formally published due to a Troubled Production and is not official canon. It was quietly released on a side-blog, and remains an interesting look at the comic in varying stages of development (ranging from "completely done but not colored in yet" to "a bunch of red scribbles").

    Web Original 
  • Steve D'Monster has a few of these, and most were the result of a number of artistic and/or technical difficulties.
    • "Steveazoid," which was being written for the third season, was Something Completely Different, in that it was going to be an animated episode that was both a tribute to and a parody of Freakazoid!, however, all of the original source material was somehow wiped out from the external drive they were stored on.
    • One episode intended for Season Six was to parody pine beetle PSAs that say to burn firewood where you buy, by having Steve accidentally set fire to a grocery store because that's where he bought his firewood and that's where he had to burn it. It was ultimately never produced because of then-unsuitable editing programs that weren't able to properly chromakey blue or green screen.
    • Both the six-part "Steve Inefficient Christmas" (from Season Six) and "A Day at the Gym" (Season Seven) were ultimately shelved in the end; the former because the computer used for post-production edited had its sound destroyed by a virus, the latter because it required extensive on-location filming and property owners were not generous with time. While "Steve's Inefficient Christmas" never made it beyond pre-production, some of "A Day at the Gym" had been filmed and is available for viewing.
    • One unproduced episode that was intended to be one of the final episodes had Steve find what he believes to be a $50 bill, and trying to haggle with a diner into letting him have $50 worth of desserts, only to find out that the $50 bill was actually a brochure for an insurance company.
    • Towards the end of Season Six, an Easter Episode was written where Steve goes on an easter egg hunt, by going to the library and hunting down Easter Egg; creator Joseph Scarbrough scrapped the idea on the grounds that it somewhat defeated the purpose of Easter Egg as a character, and figuring that any local library would probably not give him permission to film the entry.
  • Part 2 of Naruto: The Abridged Movie has been scripted and at least some of the voices have been recorded for years, but given the reception to Part 1, is unlikely to ever be finished.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd had this with Secret Scout on the NES.

    Western Animation 
  • Several other adaptations of The Railway Series stories were planned during the early seasons of Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • The second season was supposed to feature an adaptation of "The Missing Coach". Half the episode's footage was filmed, however mid way through production the story was considered too complicated for young audiences so canned (leaving missing plot points in Donald and Douglas' introductory story as a result).
    • An adaptation of "Gordon Goes Foreign" was planned during Season Three, though low budgets prevented them being able to produce the story's original scenery and characters.
  • Prior to John Kricfalusi's firing, several more episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show had been scripted for Season Three by Spumco's staff. Some were produced into episodes of the Games Animation seasons and the "Adult Party Cartoon" revival, though often retooled to some degree. In addition, at least nine episodes were scheduled for Adult Party, however Kricfalusi's second firing led to its cancellation after only six episodes. Among the three planned episode, "Life Sucks" had already been storyboarded and its dialogue recorded.
  • According to Word of God, around 90 episodes worth of scripts had been made for TUGS. It was dropped after one thirteen episode season.
  • Story plans had already been made for a third season of Sonic Sat AM, in which Naugus and Snively would take turns as Big Bad and Tails would develop into a main character. ABC ensured the series would never last past two seasons.
  • Dialogue was recorded for The Angry Beavers series finale titled "Bye Bye Beavers", but it was never finished or aired, as per a rule stating that Nickelodeon series finales should not have self-referential humor about the series' end. (Supposedly, Nick considered breaking the rules for it, but ultimately left it unfinished due to the fact that the episode ended with the Beavers going to Cartoon Heaven, which was thought to be too sad for kids.) It was supposed to be paired with an episode called "A Tale of Two Rangers", of which no trace exists.
  • Twenty-one planned episodes of the second season of Invader Zim were unfinished at the time of its cancellation. Of these, seven were far enough along in production to have audio and storyboards included in the Zim's House Box Set DVD release (but not, ironically, in the so-called "Complete Invasion" Box Set).
  • According to Lauren Faust, there was going to be an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic where Applejack and Rainbow Dash stumble upon a pony who belonged to a deer family, hence thinking they were a deer; the focus of the episode was whether or not the girls should tell them about his true self or just let him be who he wants.
  • SWAT Kats was canceled so abruptly that three episodes were left unfinished; they were storyboarded and the voice tracks were recorded, but they were never animated. More information (but not much) is available here.
  • When Mission Hill was cancelled, there were five episodes in varying stages of production. One, "Pretty in Pink (or Crap Gets in Your Eye)", has a full animatic, at least one, "To Grandmother's House We Go (or Freaky Weekend in the Crappy Crudwagon)", has a partial animation and the rest exist only as scripts.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has some episodes from season one that were scrapped for unknown reasons (leaving the season with 36 episodes instead of the planned 40; the final season had four extra episodes to compensate for that) and one from the second season was abandoned partway because they realized it would go over budget (the season still ultimately had 40 episodes as planned). Two from the first season that were scrapped were named "The Mom" and "The Pizza", while the second season episode was called "The Rex." The latter is the only one with anything known about the actual episodenote . It's not know whether or not season three's "The Mothers"note  and "The Pizza"note  are the same as the scrapped episodes.
  • At least three such episodes are known from Beast Wars. The most famous is Dark Glass, a planned Season 3 episode which would have detailed Rattrap's attempts to upload the memories of the original Dinobot into Dinobot II, thus partially filling in a major Plot Hole in the Series Finale. It is believed to have been scrapped because the story was too dark and not action-packed enough, although the writers have, likely due to misremembering, at times suggested other reasons. Two other unproduced episodes were given the working titles A Greater Ape and "Bitch Wars" — the former was about Optimus believing himself to be a real gorilla, even joining a group of them, and was canceled because of CGI limitations; the latter was to be Girls' Night Out Episode but the concept didn't make much sense.
  • The banned Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Boston" which was intended to open the 5th season, was rejected by [adult swim] from being able to air before the creators could finish it, leaving portions of the episode not fully animated.
  • The Father of the Pride episode "The Lost Tale" was not finished when the show got cancelled, and thus is included on the DVD in animatic form.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: A few unmade episodes are known:
    • "Midnight", in which Batman is captured by a drug lord who will auction him off at midnight, leaving Robin to play detective and find where Batman is and save him. (It's unknown why this was unmade, seeing as how it gave Robin a starring role, something the network had been constantly asking for.)
    • "Mind Games", in which Hugo Strange wipes Batman, Robin, and Alfred's memories of their crime fighting ways, allowing for the villains to go on a crime spree. They soon rediscover their identities with the help of Leslie Thompkins and Batman and Robin go out to stop Strange and get their memories back. The ending would've had Hugo Strange lobotomized, somewhat similar to his fate in The Batman.
    • Another unmade episode that has yet to be named was about Batman infiltrating Blackgate Prison to stop a crime boss called Mr. Big from raising an army from inside the prison; in the end, Riddler would have saved Batman, saying that "as long as he can help it, a few lowly jailbirds won't defeat the Dark Knight."
    • Another one included Robin being forced to become more responsible and save Batman's life as Poison Ivy's toxin slowly kills him.
    • Another episode involved Bruce Wayne and a bunch of rich people being hypnotized by a magician called The Mad Maestro.
    • And yet another unmade episode concerned a friend of Bruce Wayne's turning out to be a sadistic hunter who captures Catwoman and attempts to hunt her down.
    • An adaptation of the classic story "Night of the Stalker" (where Batman mercilessly stalks a gang of robbers through the woods for killing a couple in front of their son) was planned but never filmed. Show artist Darwyn Cooke later used the idea for a short story called "Deja Vu" in his issue of the Solo anthology. Cooke noted the line "Heh. That Starks. What the character." after Starks throws both him and Batman off a cliff seemingly to their deaths was actually written by Bruce Timm during the brainstorming sessions for the idea.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants had several unfinished episodes during its third (and originally final) season when it was cancelled. However, they were saved when the show was uncancelled, as they were finished and aired as fourth season episodes. These episodes were: "The Lost Mattress", "Krusty Towers", "Whale of a Birthday", and "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired".
  • When the Walter Lantz studio closed for a brief period in 1948, two Woody Woodpecker shorts, Puny Express and Sleep Happy, had already been written. After the studio reopened in 1950, they were the first new shorts to be put into production.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Bob Clampett was in production on a short titled For He's a Jolly Good Fala, which would have been about President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his dog Fala, before FDR's death caused the project to be scrapped. It is rumored that some of the completed footage was used in Chuck Jones' short Fresh Airedale.
    • Warner Bros. planned to create a series of new theatrical Looney Tunes shorts, but cancelled the project after Looney Tunes: Back in Action bombed at the box-office; only six shorts were completed, while many others were left on the drawing board.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: The episode "The Return to the Acme Acres Zone" was to have featured a short titled Hi, Spirits that would have been written and animated by John Kricfalusi and his team at Spumco. Storyboards were drawn and the voices were recorded before the story was scrapped and rewritten as Boo-Ha-Ha; the Spumco story was later adapted into the Ren & Stimpy episode "Haunted House".
  • Adventure Time has a number of scrapped episodes known from the series pitch (which seemingly didn't go any farther than synopses) and for the first season (which had concept art, but not storyboards or recording). Many of the ideas from the latter were eventually incorporated into different episodes.
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