Some shows get chopped down in their prime, leaving their fans champing at the bit for more. Sometimes these shows — like Family Guy or Jericho (2006), for example — are Un-Canceled due to massive DVD sales or fan campaigns (and, in the case of Jericho, re-cancelled afterwards). Many more, of course, just disappear, having not built up enough support to be worth renewing.
But there's an uneasy middle-ground that every network fears: one where there are enough fans and supportive critics to make them look bad for cancelling the show, but not enough to make a new series profitable. In this instance, the safest thing to do is to commission a TV movie or miniseries to Wrap It Up, answering all the hanging questions and providing the fans with enough resolution that they won't send tins of baby food to the network or spam message boards with claims that the executives are idiots.
Alternatively, there will be a Conclusion in Another Medium, via hanging questions from the TV series being wrapped up in a theatrical release, OVA, comic book or other medium while sometimes still leaving room open for further flicks. These are, of course, pretty rare. See also Fully Absorbed Finale, for when a multi-work franchise devotes an episode or short arc of a continuing work to wrapping up a cancelled one.
Compare Post-Script Season, Cosmic Deadline, Finale Season. Also compare Make Room for the New Plot; although that trope is about stories that are guaranteed to be continued, the effects the on-going plot threads tends to be the same. An intentionally short-term version of Un-Canceled.
- In a non-television example, DC Comics had an entire backup series entitled "Whatever Happened To...?" in the early 1980s devoted solely to short wrap-up stories for obscure, often long-cancelled characters.
- ElfQuest has built up quite a few unresolved plot threads over the years due to its various stories being repeatedly Cut Short. Final Quest is addressing these with a vengeance to finally bring closure to the series.
- When Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) underwent a Cosmic Retcon (brought about by the lawsuit over the continued use of Ken Penders' characters, necessitating them all being written out), many long-running storylines either got the ax or were quietly retooled to fit in the new reality. But the King Naugus story doesn't even get that dignity — the first issue post-retcon has Naugus being traumatized by memories of the old world, to the point that he abandons the throne without a fight and literally runs away, never to be seen again. The series itself was canceled shortly after.
- A couple of years after Saucer Country, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly, was cancelled by Vertigo Comics, it was picked up by IDW Publishing for a twelve-issue finale miniseries (with a lengthy hiatus at the half-way point) called Saucer State. IDW also republished a complete TPB of Saucer Country under their own label.
- Alien Nation received five TV Movies to tie up loose ends after FOX canceled the show.
- The last season of Black Hole High got hastily boiled down into a Made-for-TV Movie called "Conclusions" after it was cancelled.
- Dallas and Dynasty (1981) got wrap-up movies.
- After it was canceled, Farscape was given a miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars, to finish it off.
- A year after Homicide: Life on the Street was canceled, the TV Movie Homicide: Life Everlasting was made to wrap it up, and featured appearances from every Regular Character that the series ever had — even the dead ones.
- The Pretender, which ended in multiple cliffhangers and little resolution of the major series plots, resulted in two TV movies. (And there's still threads hanging. The creators say that they can finish wrapping it up if they're given one more TV movie, but so far they haven't been given the opportunity to prove it.)
- Prison Break was wrapped up in the direct-to-DVD "The Final Break," although the series itself had a pretty conclusive final episode. Final Break simply provided more concrete explanations for a few developments in its epilogue.
- Ray Donovan was cancelled after its seventh season despite a cliffhanger ending. A year later, Showtime commissioned a wrap-up film after receiving vehement backlash from fans and critics, even from those who didn't really like the show.
- Although Stargate SG-1 made it through 10 seasons before being cancelled, it still needed two TV movies to complete the story threads left over. One finished off the post-retool Ori villains, while the other was wrapping up the final end for the Goa'uld, the main bad guys for the entire run of the show.
- Due to Warehouse 13's final season being cut down to a mere six episodes, several plot lines from the previous season received this treatment. Most notably, Paracelsus's takeover of the Warehouse is handled by the end of the season premiere, while Myka's cancer scare is quickly resolved within the first ten minutes.
- HBO's Looking was cancelled after its second season, not ending on a cliffhanger but still not everything was resolved for Patrick. A made-for-TV movie aired a year later, giving the series a proper feeling of closure.
- Sense8 was one of Netflix's most expensive original programming commissions. The company never discloses ratings of their own shows, but it was known that the audience never reached the expected levels. The second season was released a year and a half after the first, and just weeks later it was announced that it had been cancelled. There was massive uproar in social media (considering the second season ended on a cliffhanger) and even The Wachowskis said that there was nothing they could do. Until it wasn't, and the company commissioned a final two-hour special to send off the show.
- Shadowhunters was canceled in the middle of the third season's break, giving time for the writers to wrap up the plot in the season's second half. A two-hour Grand Finale was also ordered to give them more room to properly conclude the series.
- While not a plot-driven show, the original Mythbusters crew knew going into the 2016 season that it would be their last and were able to plan appropriately. Nearly every type of myth, from cars to zombies to duct tape, was able to be covered, and a final episode was filmed as a grand send-off for the show that was accompanied by a host reunion episode to act as an epilogue.
- After being cancelled then Un-Canceled after the first season and then canceled for real after the second season, Timeless fans did manage to make enough clamour to get NBC to do a 2 hour Grand Finale to tie up the loose ends of the series.
- After Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist was canceled by NBC following its second season, Roku commissioned a feature-length film to wrap the series up.
- Firefly got a wrap up movie, Serenity to tie up storylines.
- BIONICLE skipped arcs about the Element Lords and Bota Magna in 2010 in order to get right to the final battle with Makuta, and instead of producing the planned sequels for the movie The Legend Reborn, LEGO had Michael Dorn record a web-exclusive audio retelling of the events in character. Although fans had Web serials, BZPower, and the wiki to expand on some of the left-out storylines, these were eventually left hanging as well.
- Angry Birds Star Wars: Star Wars II’s final levels are all an extremely abridged version of the remaining portion of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith rather than longer versions of each story (by comparison, much of The Phantom Menace is covered). One gets the feeling that Rovio Entertainment was running out of time to use the license and thus had to finish the game somehow.
- Weregeek had the Hunters vs. Geeks plot running in the background since the beginning, and the author's original intent was to have it run right up to the (currently far-off) penultimate storyline. According to Word of God, this metaplot became less interesting to write than the personal lives of the characters, and was instead brought to an end with the first chronicle of the series. Opinion is divided on how well this was handled.
- The Massive Multi-Fandom RPG had a "season 3.5", created in an effort to wrap up the storyline of the never-completed Season 3. For that purpose it discarded the complicated setup of the previous season with travelling all over the world, etc. in favor of a straightforward series of missions, interspersed with socializing at a safe home base. Unfortunately, this season ended up dying as well.
- Adventure Time is an interesting case. The staff assumed that they'd be getting a full tenth season that they could use to wrap up all the show's plotlines, only to be told in the middle of producing the ninth season that the show wouldn't be renewed. This gave them enough time to write a one-hour finale the conclude the show, while the network would restructure the eighth and ninth seasons to function as Seasons 8-10. The show would be Un-Cancelled after the airing of the Grand Finale, however, leading to the Adventure Time: Distant Lands miniseries and the episode "Together Again" functioning as the show's true finale.
- Episodes 3 and 4 of Bionicle: The Journey to One had to wrap up the story and cram plot details LEGO had likely planned for the 2017 storyline into a few minutes, because the toy-line (and the cartoon along with it) got cancelled midway through production.
- The staff behind BoJack Horseman thought they'd be getting a full order for a seventh season, only to learn after they'd completed writing the sixth season ("Xerox of a Xerox" being intended as a season finale) that they wouldn't be renewed. Netflix gave them an additional four episodes to wrap up any loose ends, resulting in the season's two-part structure.
- Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars! aired on TV in 1991, but was cancelled. In 1992, Konami released an arcade Beat 'em Up that served as the Grand Finale, showing Bucky and his allies' final battle with the Toad Empire.
- Gravity Falls is a rare example where the creator themselves tried to invoke this. The show almost ended after season one, not because of the network, but because creator Alex Hirsch was so burnt out from his experience as a first-time showrunner that he couldn't imagine doing more. After several colleagues, including fan of the show Jon Stewart, freaked out when Hirsch confided his plans to end the series on a cliffhanger, he decided, after taking a year off to recover, to produce one more season for the sake of properly concluding the series' Myth Arc. Even then, he tried to argue for a truncated order of 10-to-13 episodes, but Disney insisted on a full-length season due to the show's popularity.
- Motorcity got the axe in mid-production, leading to a two-part series finale to close things off.
- Ian Jones-Quartey was told that OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes wouldn't be renewed again early into the production of the third season, on top of the season order being shortened from 40 episodes to 20 (10 half-hours). Since the production team had only just finished outlining episodes at that point, he was able to easily convince the executives to let them scrap that work in favor of restructuring the entire season into a more serialized format that would conclude its various story arcs.
- The Owl House third season functions as this, as instead of the full 20 half-hour episode order that the creator expected, the show received a truncated order of three hour-long specials instead. The second half of season two has a couple of jabs surrounding this decision.
Eda: Wouldn't you rather, oh I don't know, have a beach day?
Luz: Maybe if we had time for 20 more adventures, but we don't.
- The second season of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was initially written with more episodes in mind, until it got cut in half due to low toy sales. This lead to a series finale that, in the words of the creators? Had to cram THREE SEASONS worth of material into 45 minutes making it feel very disjointed. We would eventually get a proper finale with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars was canceled after the fifth season in 2013, due to Lucasfilm being bought by Disney, leaving the sixth season as nothing more than a pile of scripts. In 2018, it was given it a 12-episode mini-season to wrap up the last arcs and write the Grand Finale they never got to.
- This was a backup plan for if Star vs. the Forces of Evil wasn't renewed for a fourth season, as the third season's cliffhanger ending was written prior to knowing whether Disney would order more episodes. Creator Daron Nefcy stated that she would have argued with the network for at least another half-hour episode in order to resolve that plot thread.
- For Steven Universe, creator Rebecca Sugar had to argue for an additional six episodes to quickly wrap up the series, as Cartoon Network had wanted to conclude the show with the episode order that featured the story where Ruby and Sapphire get married, wanting to avoid the issue of revoked funding from overseas countries that had anti-LGBT laws. She also ended up arguing for a finale movie, which ultimately resulted not only in Steven Universe: The Movie, but also a sixth season (which became Steven Universe: Future).