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Your Princess Is in Another Castle!

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Ghosts 'n Goblins, immediately before forcing the player to replay the entire game

The plot has been resolved... but the work isn't actually over yet. Before long, there's a twist thrown in. Alternately the plot looks all resolved, and we've almost reached the end, so it actually seems like everything's working out... but then the writers pull a Cliffhanger situation to finish everything off.

In terms of providing a genuine surprise, the trope works to varying degrees in different media, from being nearly unusable in books (the reader can tell how much is left by page count, but unexpected sequels can occasionally catch one by surprise) to completely effective in single-media computer games, particularly RPGs. For some reason, there has been a trend of including a segment which transparently pretends to be the climax or endgame when it obviously isn't, not just because there are vast expanses of the map you haven't explored yet or plot threads that haven't been tied up yet, but because you're still on Disc 1 of 4. Expect to see The Man Behind the Man make his first appearance, perhaps offing the guy you thought was the Big Bad, as well as a Climax Boss or two and maybe a traitor. The heroes may find that a minor crime has revealed a major plot.

When done at the end of a movie, it is used as a tease for a sequel. Of course, that could depend on whether the movie is good/successful enough to warrant a sequel. A Sequel Reset or Happy Ending Override often invalidates previous accomplishments of the hero.

In Crime and Punishment Series, this trope usually results in the detained suspect being Acquitted Too Late. In RPGs, this often takes the form of a Disc-One Final Dungeon. See also Snicket Warning Label, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, "Shaggy Dog" Story and Hope Spot. Closely related to You Can't Thwart Stage One and Heads I Win, Tails You Lose; may also overlap with Failure Is the Only Option. May result from someone Moving the Goalposts.

Compare Victory Fakeout and Trick Boss. If the twist never comes, Ending Fatigue awaits. Contrast Left Hanging and Spoiled by the Format. See also The Stinger.

Derives its name from Super Mario Bros., where after all but the final castle level, a rescued Toad thanks Mario but tells him "Our Princess is in Another Castle."

As an Ending Trope (or at least a Reveal Trope), all spoilers on this page are unmarked.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • 20th Century Boys is all about a group of friends reuniting to stop a masked cult leader known only as ''Friend'' from taking over the world, based on a pretend evil plot that they dreamt up in their youth out of boredom. The first part of the series is all about them trying to uncover the cult's plot, which they learn involves destroying Tokyo with a giant mech on the final day of the Twentieth Century. Eventually the attack happens and they set out to stop it. Seeing as how everything so far's been building up to this moment, we must be at the climax of the series, right? Nope, you're only 5 volumes into a 24 volume series, buddy. Turns out that Friend was using the robot (which is actually a fake) so he could destroy it himself and make him and his cult look the hero, whilst framing the actual heroes. Suddenly, the story jumps forward 15 years and Friend is now the leader of an oppressive Japan, with most of the main characters scattered, in prison, or presumed dead. Oh crap.
  • Bakuman。: The main characters consistently come really close to accomplishing their dreams, only to have to restart from the beginning due to some unforeseen reason.
  • Black Cat leaves you in disbelief when it pulls this off in episode (if you are watching it on DVD and so realise that it has to end somehow at Episode 24). So, at Episode 20, Creed Diskenth is finally defeated, and carried off by Echidna Parass after Eve disables the nano-machines in his body, making him mortal, and then Mason suddenly turns up, accompanied by Doctor, Shiki and several Chrono numbers, announcing that they plan to shape a new world order, resulting in an arc that is even more extravagant than the Apostles of the Stars arc, but that lasts just 4 episodes.
  • In Code Geass R2 Episode 15, Charles pulls this on Lelouch. After Lelouch geasses Charles to die, which he does, he realizes that he didn't get any answers out of him and starts regretting killing him right off the bat. Wait, Charles is immortal?! Oh, Crap!.
    • Episode 22 of the first season: Wait, Euphemia's peace proposal is genuine, viable and she knows about Lelouch? My, this could not only solve the episode's issues, but the whole season's main conflict. All they need to do is to walk to the stage and announce it. But the episode is only halfway through...
  • Episode 11 of Cowboy Bebop has most of the cast in a position (suffering from an unknown poison and days away from coming into human contact) where we're left to assume they all died, apparently. Episode 12 begins with Spike waking up scared from a really bad nightmare.
  • Death Note: About two thirds of the way through the full story line, Light Yagami uses Misa and Rem to defeat L and then assumes his identity, becoming the 2nd L. L-Kira exalts in finally becoming the God of the New World... Five years later, Light is delighted to discover that 1st L had made provisions for his defeat; he has successors eager to avenge him and show their worth by defeating the one who killed their hero.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon the party finally slays the Red Dragon, gets Laios's sister back (with complications), and is preparing to return to the surface with the mission a success. All's well that ends well, right? But then a dark elf who is apparently the Lunatic Magician who rules the dungeon appears, drops most of the party through a hole in the ground to what is almost certain death, and takes Falin away, having plans for her as she is now half-dragon (due to being revived by Marcille using the red dragon's corpse as components. Now, Laios begrudgingly accepts that they have to return to the surface to restock on supplies so they can tackle the dungeon again and save his sister. Again.
  • In Digimon Frontier, after a long and fierce battle, the Legendary Warriors finally defeat Cherubimon, who has been seen as the Big Bad of the series. Then it's revealed that Cherubimon was actually an Unwitting Pawn, having been corrupted by the Man Behind the Man — Lucemon.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Goku teleports himself and Cell, who is about to self destruct and take Earth with him, to King Kai's planet. Cell explodes, destroying the planetoid and killing Goku, King Kai, Bubbles and Gregory and Cell himself. It looks like the nightmare's finally over. Then Cell comes back, having managed to regenerate from nearly nothing and having received a massive power-up thanks to his Saiyan DNA (Saiyans receive a power-up after recovering from near-death), and gaining the ability to return to Earth via Goku's Instant Transmission because Cell can learn any technique he's exposed to.
    • Later, during the battle against Majin Buu, Vegeta, after a lengthy ride through the Heel–Face Revolving Door, sacrifices himself in a final attempt to vaporize the Majin. It looks like he actually pulled it off... Then Buu regenerates.
      • This happens a lot with Buu. Vegeta thinks he's vaporized Buu with his suicide attack? Buu's regeneration can overpower that. Mr. Satan manages to befriend and talk down Buu? Cue a couple of moronic gunmen shooting him and unleashing Buu's Superpowered Evil Side. Super Buu is blown to bits and then burned in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber? His regen's got that covered. Trapped in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber? He can tear holes between dimensions by screaming. Gohan is now powerful enough to overpower Super Buu? Buu absorbs him. All the Z warriors plus Fat Buu are torn out of Super Buu, reducing him to a childlike form? This one's the worst of them all, because what he lacks in power he more than makes up for in sheer insanity.
    • This is practically Dragon Ball's hat. You defeated the evil green demon lord with a headbutt through the stomach! Hey, what was that coming out of his mouth? Oh well. You defeated your evil brother from space! ...His much more powerful friends will be along shortly. You defeated the alien warlords! ...But the Plot Coupons that can revive your fallen comrades are on another planet, being hunted by their boss. You defeated their boss and have an "Everybody Laughs" Ending! ...He rises up and kills your best friend. Okay, you DEFINITELY killed him this time! ...He comes back as a cyborg. This cool new guy killed the cyborg! ...Andro-what-now? Wait, these androids don't seem like much of a problem... turns out, these aren't the real androids, and the real ones are far more powerful. Okay, so the new androids have turned out to be pretty chill — now who's that mysterious green dude drinking people with his tail?
    • Zamasu in Dragon Ball Super continues the trend, having to be killed three times to finally put him down. Beerus atomizes him in the past? Because of time travel shenanigans, his future selves continue to be a problem. Being bisected from the groin up after enduring a brutal beatdown from Vegito? Hi there, Infinite Zamasu. In the end, after either merging his soul with the Future Trunks multiverse or cloning himself indefinitely with each clone having all the power of Fused Zamasu, it takes Future Zen'o causing a Apocalypse How to the timeline to finally put him down for good.
  • Fairy Tail: After everybody combines their strength to prevent the lacrima from crashing into Extalia, Erza Knightwalker shoots Pantherlily In the Back, and her army arrives to attack the heroes.
    • The end of the Tenrou Island arc. The group manage to fend off the dark guild Grimoire Heart and protect the island. All seems well and the only matter now is to have the heroes heal up... And then an evil dragon unintentionally summoned appears.
  • Fist of the North Star
    • The TV series has a literal example of this trope as Kenshiro enters the hideout of his rival Shin to rescue his kidnapped fiance Yuria, only to be told by Shin's informant and Filler Villain Joker that Shin has moved his army to a new hideout. This also happens in The Movie, when Kenshiro arrives too late to Southern Cross after Raoh has beaten Shin and taken Yuria.
    • Another example is when Rei and Kenshiro are looking for Juda to fight him, so that Rei can take revenge on him for Mamiya's honor, but Juda has already moved to another hideout, wasting one of the precious few days that Rei has left in his life.
  • Well, Ed, after only a couple of volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist spanning a few years of misadventures and a recent attack by a serial alchemist-killer, you've finally found a guy who has the thing that will solve all your problems: the Philosopher's Stone. Wait, he won't give it to you? It's got a terrible secret? Well, crap.
  • Occurs in Fushigi Yuugi. Miaka's quest to summon the god Suzaku looks like it's on track to succeed, but when they finally get all the warriors together for the critical ceremony, it's sabotaged. This requires the good guys to go searching for the Cosmic Keystones that will allow them to try again, which takes up the second half of the series. And ironically, as a direct result of their efforts to sabotage the Suzaku ceremony, the Seiryuu warriors also are prevented from summoning their god, and have to go looking for the same magical items.
  • GaoGaiGar FINAL serves up a variation in the form of a battle with a bit of a Lensman Arms Race thrown in. Several times during the final battle between 3G and the Sol Masters, it looks as if one side or the other has won the fight only for the other side to come back and kick some more ass. First, all the good guys transform/combine and bust out their best moves, only for the Sol Masters to regenerate and "kill" the heroes. Then Mamoru gets a Determinator moment that kicks off a slew of My Name Is Inigo Montoya moments from the defeated heroes, coupled with more than a few Limit Breaks and Eleventh Hour Superpowers which seem to defeat the villains for real... only for the villains to regenerate in droves, and seemingly kill off any hope for the heroes to win...
    Palus Abel: It appears that you've lost, doesn't it?
    Soldato-J: think so?
    * Cue the dropping of hammers*
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, the main characters are all dead, there's a nice ending monologue, and everything looks wrapped up... in the fourth episode. Turns out it is over... Onikakushi-hen, anyway...
  • Towards the end of Idolmaster: Xenoglossia, Turiavita is destroyed, their island vaporized, and their attack on the city over. However, since all five idol cores were in the same area, Auryn appears where the moon once was and threatens the world, requiring the heroines to stop it in the next (and final) episode.
  • Inuyasha: Happens a lot to Team Inuyasha whenever they battle Naraku; by the time he goes down for good, they've been to as many castles and killed as many fake Big Bads as Mario himself.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes has 'invasions to end the war' happening near constantly. Given that the show is 110 episodes long, no one is really expecting invasions in Episodes 20 or 40 to really succeed.
  • Subverted in Magical Circle Guru-Guru. After our heroes have defeated their first boss, Kasegi Gold, the stage he appeared on lights up and the heroes freak because they think something worse is about to show up. The good news is, it's just the Old Kita Kita Man. The bad news is that, given Kita Kita Man is an old guy in a hula skirt who dances non-stop, he is arguably worse than Kasegi Gold.
  • Mazinger Z: Big Bad Dr. Hell is defeated before the final episode... and, needless to say, the final episode wasn't just a peaceful day. Basically, one of the Co-Dragons was a Dragon with an Agenda was working for a Greater-Scope Villain, and he sent several Robeasts to destroy Mazinger-Z, more powerful than anything Dr. Hell had ever built. They completely succeeded in destroying all Humongous Mecha of the heroes and their Home Base, but before Kouji got killed, he was saved by Tetsuya Tsurugi and his brand-new Humongous Mecha performing the first of his many Big Damn Heroes. All of it was done to set up the sequel, Great Mazinger.
  • The central plot of My-HiME seemingly gets resolved with the defeat of the Searrs Ancient Conspiracy. Even the end credits change... except that can't possibly be it, as it's only Episode 15 of 26. In the next episode, a rather cruel twist is promptly thrown in.
    • The manga version also throws this in halfway through, when the HiME unite to defeat Nagi and the Orphans. Right after their celebration, Searrs arrives on the scene and shoots everything to hell by deposing Mashiro as headmaster and effectively holding the entire school hostage, stating that she and the HiME have outgrown their purpose now that the Orphans are "no longer a threat".
  • Naruto: Well Sasuke, you finally killed your brother and avenged your clan... wait Itachi was doing it because higher-ups at Konoha told him to? Fuck.
    • In the Land of Birds filler arc, Naruto, Tenten and Neji seemingly prove that the Strategist impersonated the Cursed Warrior in order to plan a coup at the end of the second episode in the arc. The arc gets more complex from there.
  • One Piece: Well, Luffy, it seems you finally got to the Sixth Level of Impel Down to rescue your imprisoned older brother. Sure it literally took ten years off your life and you had to suffer eighteen hours of excruciating agony to be healed after being wiped off the floor by the head warden, but at least you got there in ti— Oh, Crap!, it looks like you just missed your brother being transferred to his execution site! Tough break, buddy.
  • Near the end of Pokémon the Series: XY, during the climax of Team Flare's plot, Ash, Alain, and Malva manage to defeat Lysandre (who seems to jump off Prism Tower) while Clemont shuts off the device controlling both Zygarde and Serena and Marian rescue Marian's Chespin, Chespie, meaning Team Flare has been stopped. WRONG! Chespie is then sucked into the Megalith at Lysandre Labs, which takes on the form of Zygarde and heads for the Anistar Sundial with the intent of consuming it and creating an energy wave that will end all life. However, Ash and Alain enter the Megalith and rescue Chespie, with the thing shutting down. All over, right? WRONG AGAIN! Lysandre is revealed to still be alive and is now controlling the Megalith, keeping it on its destination.
  • Happens in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion. Everything seems to be all neatly wrapped up and set for a moderately happy ending... when suddenly Homura decides that she's had enough of Madoka sacrificing her own life for everyone else's sake and uses The Power of Love to become the Satan to Madoka's God, forcibly seal her powers and creating a Lotus-Eater Machine world for her to live in. This is the "rebellion" the title was referring to, and it happens within the last 10-15 minutes or so of the movie. There were hints that this would happen, but they were so vague and subtle that the ending took almost everyone off guard.
  • At the end of Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0, Shinji apparently starts Third Impact, which those who have watched the original know marks the end of things. This early? Even those who haven't would guess that it's not over given that four films are intended. Well, nope. A lance impales Unit 01 and Kaworu descends in Unit 06. Time to wait for 3.0!
    • The trope actually pulled double-duty; way to stop Third Impact there, Kaworu, you saved the human race! rong, Third Impact happened in those ten or so seconds. More than 90% of the already barely surviving human race is dead and gone. Almost the entirety of 3.0 is one side or the other of the civil war between the remnants of NERV (Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Rei and Kaworu) and everyone else seemingly about to win only for enough plot twists to arise to make M. Night Shyamalan get dizzy!
    • 3.0 pulls this trope again: according to Kaworu, he and Shinji can use the two spears buried deep beneath NERV to undo the damage from (Near) Third Impact. But when they get there, there are two identical spears, instead of the two different ones Kaworu expected to find. Shinji tries to use them anyway, and ends up causing yet another Impact. Kaworu kills himself to stop it, thoroughly traumatizing Shinji and putting everyone else back to square one.
  • A couple of good examples from R.O.D the TV: In the first episode, a nameless villain tries to take out Nenene with a bomb. He gives a little speech and gets beaten up by the Paper Sisters. Nenene waves goodbye and boards her plane back to Japan. Cue credits? Nope, turns out the bomber's brother is waiting for her on the plane. Later in the series, the sisters are sent back home to Hong Kong and what follows is a sweet episode about Anita saying goodbye to her friends at school, and Hisa trying to work up the nerve to express her feelings to Anita. The girls have their positive moment, and just when you think it's over, Lee strolls in, reveals that he actually works for Dokusensha, and kidnaps Nenene with a group of armed guards.
  • Happens in many Magical Girl series, but notably in Sailor Moon S. The Dragon is cornered, Sailor Moon is powering up her attack, it's even playing the Moon Spiral Heart Attack stock footage — but it's way too early in the episode for it, the stock footage is intercut with the Dragon's reaction, and the background music hasn't segued into Sailor Moon's theme ... you're not even supposed to think this is going to work.
  • Episode 23 of SoltyRei ends with Ashley and Eunomia defeated, and the city rebuilding, complete with Hard-Work Montage. Unfortunately, Solty discovers that Eirene is about to pull a Colony Drop on the city. Not good.
  • In the 1980's Speed Racer episode "The Race for Life", Speed managed to have the antidote to save the mayor of a South American village from snakebite poison delivered on time, thwarting the local crime boss's plan to take the mayor's place and get the village's treasure while also exposing that the crime boss was the one behind the mayor's poisoning. Everything should be wrapped up, only for the crime boss to then declare that if he can't be in charge of the village, then there will BE no village, his henchmen setting the village on fire, releasing bulls to trample over it, and him taking the treasure during the chaos, prompting Speed to chase after him.
  • Happens in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Simon leads an army of rebels to destroy the evil king that's forcing humanity to live underground. The mission is a success, the empire is destroyed, and everyone lives happily ever after... until it's revealed years later that the king was keeping them underground to hold off a larger enemy in space. Guess what happens next?
  • Used in Voltes V, in regards to the whereabouts of Professor Kentarou Go. One of his sons' and disciples' main goals is to find him. And they do. But Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You guys...
  • In The World God Only Knows, great job, Vulcan! Thanks to you, the cursed knife is pulled out, and Kanon is saved! Huh? Why isn't she waking up...? Apollo put herself in magical stasis to survive the curse, and we need to find your sister Mercury to get through to her? Here We Go Again!.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Just when Seto Kaiba is about to save his little brother, Pegasus traps Mokuba's soul in a trading card. Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, when Pegasus actually says: "I'm afraid your Princess is in another castle, Kaiba-boy."
    • Also a common structure for individual episodes: if the hero's just played a game-winning combo, the victory music is swelling, and there's more than three minutes left in the episode, something's about to go wrong.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Captain Marvel story, Billy Batson is forced to storm a tower in his normal form to rescue his sister. (The tower was indestructible, and the openings and passages are really small because the villains were tiny aliens). After going through hell, when he finally reaches the top... Mary was in the next tower over all along.
  • The Ultimates: You would think that, once the Hulk has been defeated and the team had its baptism of fire, and some view over the consequences of said battle, the series would be done. Not Quite. Remember those aliens that Cap fought in WWII? They are back... and it's still the same miniseries, not a sequel one.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: In Volume 7 "Le Couvent des soeurs de sang", Requiem has sneak in to the eponymous convent to rescue his love interest Rebecca, who was taken there to join Dracula's harem of brides. He ends up finding out from the women inside that she was taken somewhere else by another vampire.
  • Scott McCloud's Zot! featured a story dealing with a high school girl who is experiencing attraction to another girl. The second girl is known to her classmates to be a lesbian, and is tormented because of it. The first girl is trying to suppress her feelings. The story ends with the second girl passing the first in the hallway, and trying to be friendly. The first girl ignores her, looks very sad, and then the letters page appears, which traditionally is printed at the end of a comic. But after the letters page, the first girl calls back to the second girl, and a later issue shows them to have started a happy relationship. (In the collected edition, the letters page was replaced with commentary by McCloud, so it still works.)

    Fan Works 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Case 5: Turnabout Substitution: So, you've proven Judge Chambers innocent of the murder against Robert Erlenmeyer, even proving Erlenmeyer was never killed to begin with. And in one day, too! Good job! But wait! Shortly afterwards, you get a new defense request, and this time someone really is dead: Judge Chambers. And the defendant is Robert Erlenmeyer, too. Good luck with that.
  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
    "Can I just say…if you thought that this story was nearly over…it's barely even begun."
  • In the Pony POV Series this happens in Dark World: the heroes manage to redeem themselves, storm Discord's palace, defeat or purify all his minions, defeat The Dragon, and finally challenge him...only to discover that the same situation has played out over and over again for Discord in a "Groundhog Day" Loop for several hundred million years. This means they still have to defeat the actual villain who reduced Discord to a tortured Puppet King, Twilight's potential future self Nightmare Eclipse, before she can delete the timeline again.
  • In Multiverse of Madness: Clea Cut, just when the dimensionally- displaced heroes have returned to their world and America seems to be talking Clea down, Mordo stabs Clea in the back and takes America’s powers for himself with the goal of destroying magic across the multiverse.
  • The Equestrian Wind Mage: Season 2 does this twice with its Final Battle. First, when Vaati and the Mane Six show up at the Crystal Empire to finally face down Ganondorf, his armies have been broken and he's been greatly weakened by fighting the Princesses. But he realizes that in this state he'd lose, so he grabs the unconscious Princesses and flees back to occupied Canterlot, in order to regain his strength, with the heroes following in the hopes of defeating him while he's still weakened. And then, even when they do so, it just results in Demise being reborn out of his body, leading to an entirely different fight against him.
  • Parodied in this My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic deviantart.
  • Ruby and Nora: In the technically final story, Cold, Jacques Schnee's tyrannical rule over Atlas has fallen by the titular characters and the resistance, but then Salem acquires the Sword of Destruction from Vacuo and comes to Atlas with all four Relics to finally awaken Void, setting the stage for the final battle.
  • Ranma Saotome manages to combine this with Snipe Hunt in Ranma Restart: Bid for Freedom. After returning to his six-year-old body, Ranma left a note addressed to Genma from Hideki Yamamura saying that he found Ranma and had taken him as per their marriage agreement. Meanwhile, he sent a letter to Hideki saying that he had freed Ranma from his father Genma and detailing some of his fathers misdeeds, addressed from Seto Tachibana, Seto got a similar letter addressed from Naoto Tozawa...meanwhile, Ranma went in a different order from what the people following the letters would follow in order to annul all of the marriages his father had conned the other Martial Arts and Crafts masters of Japan into.

    Film - Animated 
  • In Aladdin, Aladdin, in his prince guise, has won Jasmine's heart, freed the Sultan from Jafar's mind control and exposes his true nature, forcing him to run. Unfortunately, Aladdin realizes that he can't continue his charade without Genie and therefore cannot grant his freedom, harming their friendship. Even worse, Jafar learns Aladdin's secret and has Iago steal the lamp and take over the kingdom.
  • Early on in Bands on the Run, the bands make their way to a gas station and get picked up by kids, which is exactly what the bands wanted. Then, the kids' mother stops them since she thinks the rubber bands are just trash, and they get thrown out.
  • In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, SpongeBob and Patrick finally make it back from Shell City with King Neptune's crown and save Mr. Krabs from being executed, only for Plankton to plant a bucket mind-control helmet on King Neptune himself!
    SpongeBob: Plankton cheated.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Air Force One has been secured, the (surviving) hostages freed, the hijackers killed, and the evil general has been stopped from getting out of prison. Of course, they are still in the middle of hostile airspace, with enemy MiGs now closing in with the failure of the hijacking plot, and Halo Flight's F-15s still haven't had the chance to do anything really cool. Oh, and the traitor still hasn't been caught.
  • Aliens. Ripley rescues Newt from the Hive, they escape the planet along with Hicks and Bishop just before the fusion reactor explodes, and all seems well. Then it turns out that the Queen Alien hitched a ride.
  • American Dreamer has a fake out ending, where it turns out Cathy's antics under Easy Amnesia got her into trouble with drug lords.
  • In Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin gets Dr. Evil arrested in the very beginning, making it clear that something will inevitably go wrong. Dr. Evil even does a musical number pointing this out ("Austin caught me in the first act/it's all backwards, what's with that"?).
  • In Big Game, the Pentagon quickly scrambles Navy SEAL teams to the location of the escape pod's homing beacon. Unfortunately, it fell off the pod during the crash and leads them to a farm in rural Norway instead.
  • Casino Royale (2006) featured a lovely ending: Le Chiffre has lost and died and James Bond gets the Bond Girl he's been eyeing for the entire movie. They kiss and begin a romance, with Bond deciding to quit MI6. Everything is hunky-dory ... then Vesper betrays Bond, running away with the cash to pay her fiancee's ransom.
  • In Clash of the Titans, Perseus frees the city of Joppa from its curse fairly early in the film, and the good guys throw a big party — only for a much worse crisis to then present itself before they're even through celebrating.
  • Happens in The Dark Knight — it looks like Dent is being set up for a Sequel Hook, then the other third of the movie happens. Or, arguably, even earlier. Joker's in the MCU and Batman can rest easy... then MCU blows sky-high, as does Rachel Dawes.
  • In Destroy All Monsters, after Godzilla and his friends barely manage to defeat King Ghidorah, they don't even have time to rest before the Kilaaks unveil their second trump card, the Fire Dragon.
  • In Doomsday, the protagonist has dealt with both Sol and Kane, and is on her way to the border with the MacGuffin. Sol shows up for round 2.
  • Dragonslayer. The villagers celebrate when Galen causes an avalanche to block the dragon Vermithrax's cave entrance, despite never seeing the dragon actually die or taking into consideration that there might be more caves leading out of its lair. All Galen did was piss it off.
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, William Cage's connection to the alien Hive Mind starts to give him visions of the Omega alien's location. Much of the movie is spent with him using his "Groundhog Day" Loop ability to try to find a survivable path to it. After numerous setbacks and failures, he finally reaches the location on his own only to discover that the visions were a trap, and that the Omega was never really there.
  • The Final Destination series do this constantly. There are even cases where it is done more than once.
    • The first film has the events after Alex saved Clear from being electrocuted. The movie cuts to Paris, where Alex, Clear, and Carter celebrate beating Death. A vehicle abruptly crashes on the restaurant, making it clear that Death is not giving up catching them. When Carter asks Alex who is going to die next, a neon sign swings to him from the back before it Smash to Black.
    • Final Destination 2 has two cases. The first is when Kimberly and Thomas see Isabella giving birth to her child, which apparently stops Death's List. Then a fire abruptly breaks out of Eugene's room, killing him and Clear. Kimberly realizes that Isabella was never meant to die in the pileup and has nothing to do with their predicament. Bludworth's "new life defeating Death" is not a literal new life coming out of someone, but someone being resuscitated after near death. She boards an ambulance and speeds into a nearby lake to drown herself before being resuscitated, which finally stops Death's List...until the very end, where a kid who was inadvertently put in Death's List gets blown to bits, hinting that Kim and Thomas might not be safe forever.
    • Final Destination 3: With Wendy, Kevin, and Julie saving each other from their near-deaths in the Fourth of July fair, it seems that Death's plan is derailed. The movie cuts to three months later, where they reunite while boarding a subway. Wendy suddenly remembers something crucial which puts everyone in danger. The subway crashes, killing everyone on board. Oh wait, that was just Wendy's premonition. The trio try to stop the subway before it Smash to Black and the sound of the crash is heard, leaving their fate unknown.
    • Final Destination 4: Nick and Lori successfully save Janet and George from being killed. Lori and Janet celebrate by watching a movie. However, Nick remembers that there is a survivor unaccounted for from the stadium collapse and tries to save him, but fails. George is then killed, leaving Nick racing to save Lori and Janet, but he fails again. Oh wait, that was his premonition. He is unable to save George, but manages to save Lori and Janet. They celebrate several months later in a restaurant. Nick suddenly comes to a realization that since having a premonition is what's putting people to Death's List, this means Death is really the one behind the premonitions. A vehicle crashes through the restaurant and kills all three of them. The end.
    • Final Destination 5: Sam kills Peter before he is able to murder Molly, which Bludworth predicted would add Peter's lifespan to his. The movie cuts to the JFK airport, where Sam is scheduled to move to Paris to work at a restaurant, with Molly tagging along. The two watch a ruckus going on nearby, where a high schooler named Alex Browning is escorted out of the plane, followed by a few of his friends and teacher. It is Flight 180 and the year is 2000.
  • In Godzilla (1998), the military blows up Madison Square Garden just after Nick and the others manage to escape, destroying Godzilla's offspring and ending his species, Nick and Audrey have reconciled, triumphant music is playing and it looks like the movie is over...but then Godzilla bursts out of the ground, having survived his Disney Death from earlier and, enraged over the death of his children, pursues the group in a final Chase Scene.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: After successfully breaking into Orgocorp and getting the information they need to deactivate the kill-switch, it looks like the The Guardians have won... Only to find out the High Evolutionary is two steps ahead of them and has removed the code needed to save Rocket, meaning they now have to go to Counter-Earth, and into an obvious trap.
  • In The Haunting in Connecticut, after Reverend Popescu finds Jonah's remains and removes them from the house, he assures the Campbells that the house should now be safe, and drives away. As it turns out, this only makes things worse — Jonah wasn't a malevolent spirit, but was trying to protect the family from the real evil force in the house, the angry ghosts of the people Aickman desecrated with his necromancy.
  • Like the musical, the halfway point of Into the Woods serves as a sort of fake out "happy ending"; Cinderella and her Prince get married (as do Rapunzel and her Prince), Jack and his Mother become wealthy, the Witch regains her youth and beauty, and the Baker and his Wife finally get the child they've always wanted. Right in the middle of the royal wedding, everyone (including the narrating Baker) is interrupted by the quaking stomps of the Giantess, and it is then that the darker second half begins.
  • In Jack Reacher, the titular hero takes out the bad guys guarding a building where he assumes a hostage is being kept, only to find out the building is empty and the hostage is in another building close by.
  • Jack the Giant Slayer: Roderick is dead, the princess is saved, the beanstalk has been chopped down, stranding the giants in their land... Shame on you if you expected the movie to end at this point.
  • John Wick. Did you really think John would be able to bag Iosef at the nightclub? Or that it would be over once John gets his man, with an irate and not quite rationally-thinking papa wolf of a mob boss?
  • L.A. Confidential, Lt. Det. Edmund Exley has killed the runaway culprits of the Nite Owl massacre, he is condecorated by the Chief of Police and considered a hero... But there's something off. Bud White feels something in the resolving of the Nite Owl that is really wrong.
  • Letters to Juliet: Sophie's boss wonders this about her article.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Sam initially think their journey is over after they get the Ring to Rivendell for safekeeping at around halfway through the movie. Unfortunately, Elrond realizes that they cannot keep it there, and Frodo accepts the task of destroying it.
    • There is another moment around this time, after the council of Elrond, when the Fellowship is formed. The nine stand in a pretty line, Elrond pronounces "you shall be the Fellowship... of the Ring!", the theme swells and half the audience start to retrieve coats, finish off drinks and generally make ready to leave. Then find out there's another hour and a half to go. And, in some cases, hadn't realised that even then there were two more films before ring meets lava.
    • Also, Sam thinks his journey is over when the fellowship reaches Redhorn Mountain, which he confuses with Mount Doom. Not that it isn't a mountain of doom by itself.
    • In the book you would think everything is done once the Ring is destroyed, but then we have the Scouring of the Shire, which was left out of the movie for both this reason and lack of time.
  • Toward the end of The Lost World: Jurassic Park the main characters have escaped the raptors, they're on the helicopter, and all seems right with the world. Oh wait, we have a half hour left? Time for the T. rex to romp through the city.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie (which set up a sordid sequel). Shang Tsung is dead and Liu Kang won the tournament, preventing the forces of Outworld from invading the Earth Realm. Everyone is about to leave the island and head home when the Emperor, Shao Khan, appears and announces his plans to invade anyway. Raiden says "I don't think so," and everyone enters an Ass Kicking Pose as the credits roll.
  • In Poltergeist, Tangina Barrons successfully tells the malevolent ghosts to cross over, sends Diane in after Carol Anne, declares "This house is clean", and departs. The next scene feels like you should be reaching for your coat and gathering up your empty popcorn buckets; the family is happily reunited and getting ready to leave the house forever. But then all hell breaks loose, the "Beast" attacks again, the sinister clown you've been waiting all movie to go berserk finally does, coffins erupt out of a swimming pool, and the entire house implodes. THEN the movie is over.
  • The Ring movies lead to a (seemingly) climactic scene in which the heroine goes inside the well to find the earthly remains of the Cursed Video's creator. These scenes are filled with dread and anticipation, as the heroine is minutes away from the 7-day deadline (and so, it's a race against her own death.) When they do find the body, the movies release the tension as though the whole plot had been a "give the ghost a proper burial and give her peace." The American remake is particularly blatant about this angle. Cue the heroine returning home, having defeated the curse... only to find out her ex-husband didn't, finding the body did nothing, and the terror comes back full-force. "You weren't supposed to help her." Gee, thanks, Aiden, you could have told us that half an hour ago.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does this multiple times. Scott defeats the Big Bad who turns out to be Not Quite Dead and then kills Scott. Scott has an extra life, though, so he comes back and defeats the Big Bad again, who turns out to be Not Quite Dead again, but this time Scott is prepared and defeats him once and for all. Then it turns out Scott has to defeat his evil alter ego, Nega-Scott, but this "battle" takes place off-screen rather than becoming Ending Fatigue.
  • Se7en. You think the movie is about catching the serial killer, do you? Well, he gives himself up when there's half an hour of movie left.
  • In Species, the protagonists prematurely celebrate when the creature apparently dies in a car crash, but in fact she faked the whole thing.
  • Speed did this multiple times. First it appears that the Big Bad will be caught when they figured out who he is. It turns out it was a trap. Then later they managed to get all the passengers out of the bus safely without the villain knowing and sets a trap to capture him. But he caught on and the movie still goes on. Then the villain is finally killed. Yet there's still a couple more minutes of movie time left.
  • Happened in Spy Game. Robert Redford thinks he's successfully plotted to rescue Brad Pitt, starts walking out of the building, hands his tag to the security guard, jubilant music plays... and we're only an hour into the movie.
  • The Star Wars saga became this as of December 18th 2015....That big Ewok dance party/Pan-Galactic celebration montage and the triumphant defeat of The Empire in Return of the Jedi now feels like Tangina in Poltergeist saying "The house is clean".note 
  • Taking Lives, in which a police chief says, "Ah, it's over", after about 70 minutes. Naturally, it isn't.
  • In 12 Monkeys, James Cole finally figures out who the Army of the Twelve Monkeys are: Relatively harmless pranksters. Convinced that the Bad Future was just a figment of his imagination, he books a flight to the tropics with Kathryn. But before he can board the plane he receives another message from the future: The End of the World as We Know It is at hand and he can still stop it.
  • At around the two-hour mark of Vertigo, Judy's makeover into Madeleine is complete, Scottie is happy (the same can't be said for Judy), and they have an Orbital Kiss, then we fade to black. So, movie's over, right? But wait a minute: Scottie never found out that Judy was Madeleine. Hitchcock even holds it in black a couple of seconds longer than a typical transition, to turn it into a Fake-Out Fade-Out. But we fade back up to Judy and Scottie, then Scottie recognizes her necklace and the real climax begins.
  • WarGames: Deciding to ride out the second strike, the military officials at NORAD realize there was no Soviet threat, so it's over, right? Wrong. JOSHUA is trying to find the password to launch the missiles himself.
  • In Zardoz, the scene where Zed reveals how he learned Zardoz was actually The WiZard of Oz makes you think the movie's wrapping up when, in fact, there's still almost an hour to go.

  • Subverted in the final book of the Sorcery! series, The Crown of Kings - it turns out you were in the right castle in the first place.

  • Agent Angel does this in the second book, "Losing The Plot". Mel and her friends think the Elizabethan mission is over, but they get back to Heaven, and they can tell something is wrong. They realize they weren't finished after all, go back down in the middle of the night and have another try at their mission.
  • David Eddings' The Belgariad has a very bad case of this. We're repeatedly told that the fight between Garion and Torak is going to be the end of all the fighting, the war between dark and light, all of it. And then suddenly the Malloreon comes along and tells us that no, the fight was a big event, but actually there's another thing that has to happen, and then it's going to be over.
    • Or, to be more accurate, then it will begin as the world will finally be released from the recursive loop it's been in since 'the Prophecy' split two for one.
  • Used in Binary by "John Lange" (a then pen-name of Michael Crichton, not to be confused with "John Norman", a pen name used by Dr. John Frederick Lange, Jr. to write his Gor novels). The Big Bad, John Wright, plans to release nerve gas in San Diego, killing the President and a few hundred thousand bystanders. When Wright finds out that federal agent John Graves is investigating him, and that Graves is likely to stop at the obvious solution, he devises two release mechanisms for the nerve gas, one obvious, one invisible.
  • Agatha Christie is the queen of this trope. If there are more than twenty pages left to go, there's a twist on the way.
  • Discworld:
  • In Dora Wilk Series, a large chunk of the final novel is devoted to dismantling the organization of a man who's said to be holding Varg prisoner for Bruno. When Dora finally raids his compound, it turns out Varg was never among the trapped shifters and the search has to start anew.
  • Jim Butcher does this on the last page of Changes. And it's a doozy.
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, the Old Man Whateley prophesied a grandson of him will cry the name of his father on the mountaintop. Not many paragraphs later Wilbur Whateley screams the name of Yog-Sothoth on the top of the mountain... but the story still has six chapters to go. Turns out Lavinia Whateley had another son.
  • The Armageddon Inheritance makes good use of this. You've destroyed the enemy vanguard with a supernova, you've successfully lured the main body of their fleet into a trap and what's left is running away with their tails between their legs. Wait, what do you mean they've still got another quarter of a million ships, which just happen to be their largest and most powerful designs? But we've not even got two dozen ships left! And our flagship has engine damage!
  • In the third Fablehaven book it turns out that one of the artifacts has been moved. When Kendra and her allies attempt to retrieve the artifact hidden in the Lost Mesa, it turns out that Patton Burgess, a previous Fablehaven caretaker, had long ago moved the artifact to a new location in Fablehave for safekeeping... shame that three people had already died getting in before they found that out.
  • In Fengshen Yanyi: the protagonist Jiang Ziya knows very well that before the western domain of King Wu can move against the corrupt emperor, King Zhou, the land of Xiqi must first survive 36 invasions from various enemies. After the defeat of general Hong Jin, Jiang Ziya is promoted to Commander of the counter attack and leads the forces eastwards to start the campaign, but faces an incredibly strong resistence from yet another general, Kong Xuan. At this point he does the math and realizes that Hong Jin was the 35th invasion, which means that he must overcome the seemingly-invincible Kong Xuan before he can actually begin the counterattack.
  • In John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman there are not two but three endings, the first of which comes about halfway through the book.
  • Halfway to the Grave, the first Night Huntress book, is drawing to a conclusion when 30 pages from the end a new plot twist develops for a Cliffhanger / Downer Ending.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and friends capture Peter Pettigrew, the traitor who caused the death of Harry's parents, and seem set to hand him over to the authorities and clear Sirius' name. Then Pettigrew escapes, Sirius is forced to go on the run and Harry realises a prophecy he heard means Pettigrew is going to bring back Voldemort...
    • In Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore risk life and limb, and give Draco the opportunity to invade the school, to get their hands on one of Voldemort's horcruxes. Dumbledore dies, Snape betrays them all, Neville is seriously hurt, and Bill is permanently scarred. And then the Horcrux turns out to be a fake; the real one was stolen years ago. Sorry Harry, but your Horcrux is in another castle.
    • In Deathly Hallows, when they go to Godric's Hollow because they think Gryffindor's sword is there, they end up being ambushed by Nagini disguised as Bathilda Bagshot, and as it eventually turns out, the sword was never there after all — Snape had it all along.
  • At the start of the H.I.V.E. Series, we're under the impression that the first major villain, Overlord, is dead. In book three, we find out he was never actually dead, but Otto and H.I.V.E.mind kill him, only for him to return two books later. He apparently is defeated again in book five by Laura, but then he returns in book six, when he is finally killed. We think.
  • In the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy, Kate sacrifices herself to the goblin King, Marak, and becomes his wife in order to save her sister, Emily. Sad ending, right? Nope. The story then skips ahead more than a year for the last few chapters and introduces a new sorcerer villain who is out to enslave the goblins.
  • The Soviet fleet carrying out The Hunt for Red October has withdrawn after the eponymous sub's apparent scuttling and the defectors seem home free about 80% into the book. Cue one lingering Soviet attack sub and its attempt to take the October down.
  • In the first Kate Daniels novel, Kate finds the bad guy right where they were supposed to be, foils the evil plot and the evil back up plot, and even manages to go on a semi-successful date. Only something keeps nagging her — catching the bad guy was too easy and there are too many loose ends. None of the other characters believe her, but the reader does because we're only 75% through the book. And sure enough, the next chapter has another body turn up.
  • Every Lensman book that stars Kimball Kinnison (Galactic Patrol, Grey Lensman, Second Stage Lensmen, and possibly Children of the Lens) end with him and the rest of Civilization thinking that they've finally for real this time finished off the Boskonian empire.
  • There's a fairly nasty use of this in Tad Williams' epic fantasy series Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Near the end, as the heroes are fighting their way into Green Angel Tower for the final confrontation with the Storm King, they encounter Evil Sorcerer Pryrates finishing off the last of the heroic army's decoy soldiers. Miriamele catches him by surprise and apparently kills him with a Norn arrow. Of course, it's not that easy, as he proceeds to get up a moment later, complete with Evil Gloating.
  • Near the end of Mr. Wrong, Mr. Wrong feels happy that Mr. Right made him smart. He lived happily, and right, ever after, right? WRONG. Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong both became the opposite of each other.
  • Done superbly in Laurens Van Der Post's "A Story Like the Wind." It initially seems like a story about a French boy growing up in Africa, coming of age, dealing with the death of his father, and falling in love. The book winds down with most of the plotlines reasonably tied up... then in the last eleven pages, revolutionaries show up and kill almost everyone. Then you realize that the entire first book was there to convince the reader that Francois really is awesome enough to pull off all the crazy stuff he does in the second book, beginning with him sneaking past enemy lines back to his house and blowing it up.
  • In Warrior Cats: Omen of the Stars book The Fourth Apprentice, the heroes are about to have their confrontation with the beavers, but there is still a quarter of the book left. Cue the heroes being on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle and having to find a different way to defeat the beavers.
    • Also in Warrior Cats, during the Graystripe's Adventure spinoff, the plot was about getting home to the Clans. At the end of Warrior's Refuge, Graystripe and Millie finally manage to reach Graystripe's forest, but as everyone who was following the series knows, the forest was destroyed and the Clans left to find a new home. This led to the events of the final book in the spinoff, Warrior's Return.
  • By the end of Part 3 of The Wild Ones, Kit has successfully retrieved the Bone of Contention. Ankle Snap City can now be saved, Titus and the Flealess will back off, and then — NOPE. Turns out Basil betrayed the Wild Ones, and he immediately devours the bone and slithers away.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story should end once the Wizard has been exposed, all the companions have what they were looking for, and he can take Dorothy home, right? However, when the Wizard leaves, there's still another third of the book where Dorothy has to get help by asking Glinda, the Witch of the South, and has more adventures on the way to finding her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 does this so frequently that it can be considered a mainstay of the series. Any time the good guys raid a location in which they suspect the Big Bad is hiding, you only have to check the episode number to know how the scene will end. If they do capture him, either he'll escape, The Man Behind the Man will reveal himself, or some other terrorist will come forward with some new plot.
    • The sixth season plays right into this by having Jack stop the terrorists seven hours early. The plot then changes to focus on the Chinese holding Jack's assumed dead girlfriend hostage.
    • After spending twelve hours running around L.A. as a glorified errand boy, Jack kills Big Bad Ira Gaines in only the thirteenth episode of the first season. However, CTU soon learns about a heretofore-unmentioned second assassin who has flown in to kill Senator Palmer.
    • Midway through Season 4, Jack and Paul Raines hole up in a sporting goods store and defeat a group of military commandoes. This is accomplished with twenty minutes left in the episode, leading people to suspect something's up. Then, the guy who hired the commandoes (who wasn't quite dead) shoots a supporting character, and the focus turns to saving one of two critically-injured people in CTU's medical wing.
    • Season 7 did it again in Episode 10... the master list of every government official on Dubaku's payroll has been found and safely delivered to the FBI. Of course, The Mole tries to crash the system and erase the file...only for Chloe to get it back. Since we hadn't yet hit the halfway point of the season, there has to be more...and there is, as the previews have a very confusing montage of people running, another terrorist attack and President Taylor almost(?) getting killed. Sorry, Jack, but it's only six p.m... what did you expect?
    • Most of the season finales fall under this:
      • In the final episode of Season 1, Jack kills Andre and Victor Drazen before the episode is half over, leading people to think that he's solved the main plotline. He gets to talk to his daughter, and promises that everything's alright...then, when he's driving back to his office, he gets the surveillance footage for Jamey Farrell's holding cell when she died earlier in the day, and realizes that Nina is the mole.
      • Jack kills Peter Kingsley at the end of Season 2 (and the main plot regarding falsified audio recordings is solved)… but there's still twenty minutes left in the show, which means several cliffhangers are set up.
      • The first ten minutes of the Season 4 finale are spent with Jack successfully stopping the terrorists and destroying the nuclear missile headed towards Los Angeles. Except there's still half-an-hour left in the show, which is spent detailing Jack faking his own death and going on the run.
    • President Logan is arrested in the Season 5 finale! And Jack even gets to make a phone call to Kim, who he hasn't talked to in...wait, why are there fifteen minutes left in this episode?
  • The end of "Phase One" of Alias. The Alliance has been destroyed, Sydney and Vaughn have kissed... then Francine gets offed with a headshot by someone who's been genetically altered to look like her.
  • In The Amazing Race, this is used on the contestants themselves in Seasons 7, 8, 9, and 14. The teams get a clue telling them to go to mat and find Phil, only to have him tell them that the leg is not over, and hand them their next clue.
  • Happened on quite a number of occasions on American Gothic (1995). The two most memorable would have to be "Resurrector", when after a morality tale of a radio talk-show host, his seemingly murdered wife, and Buck in one of his most despicable acts of Magnificent Bastardry, the interspersed attempts of Caleb to bring Merlyn's spirit back to him results in decidedly mixed results; and "The Buck Stops Here", where after the sheriff is killed and Caleb becomes a regular little Damien, nearly killing Gail and bringing the whole town, even Selena, under his thrall, we are treated to the last shot of Buck's eyes opening in his grave.
  • Babylon 5 ends the major conflict that drove the show (the Shadow war) just six episodes into Season 4. The remainder of Season 4 was mostly about resolving the secondary conflict of the show (President Clark's regime on Earth), and the entirety of Season 5 consisted mainly of tying up loose ends.
    • The story had originally been planned with a five-season arc (though the Shadow war would have, even in the original plan, been wrapped up during Season 4). Then, at the beginning of writing Season 4, the creators were told that they were not going to get a fifth season, so they set about compressing the original plotline so they could wrap almost everything up by the end of Season 4 (with the exception of the Centauri Prime arc, which would've been resolved in the canon novels). Then they discovered they were getting a fifth season after all on a different network, but by that time it was too late to rewrite. As a result, what would've been most of the first half of Season 5 is compressed into 3 episodes at the end of Season 4, and the arc with Byron's telepaths was stretched out over the broadcast fifth season's first half in order to fill the gaps.
    • It's also another remnant of the parallels between B5 and The Lord of the Rings — there's the entire "Scouring of the Shire" part after the Ring is destroyed, and there are quite a few similarities between that storyline and the rest of Season 4.
  • "Lay Down Your Burdens", the second season finale of Battlestar Galactica. At the 55-minute mark everything seems returned to the status quo, even if Roslin had a rig an election for it. Then Gaeta uncovers the fraud, and the extended-length episode runs for another 30 minutes setting up the first story arc of Season 3.
    • Played straight with freaking "Revelations". They find Earth, huzzah! But there's still half a season left, and all is not joyous as it seems.
    • The cliffhanger version of this trope happens in "Kobol's Last Gleaming". Boomer discovers beyond all doubt that she's a Cylon, but blows up the basestar as ordered. It appears next season will be about how Boomer copes with this newfound knowledge. Instead her Cylon side forces the issue by shooting Adama twice in the chest.
  • The season 8 Bones opener. Brennan’s cleared of killing someone and Pelant is in custody, but then Caroline, the district attorney, says he was released because he didn’t match Pelant’s ID. He hacked the computers and totally changed his identity.
  • The title character of Castle, being a Genre Savvy mystery writer, seems to be very good at spotting these moments.
    • He keeps digging in the pilot after the seemingly obvious suspect has been arrested because his writer's sensibilities are offended by the killer's identity being 'too easy' ("The reader would never buy it!"), and he's often quick to point out when he thinks a likely suspect is a Red Herring.
    • Done extremely effectively in one episode when, after the killer commits suicide, Castle is shown going over crime scene photos with about 5 minutes left in the episode, only to deduce that the body they found was Not Left Handed, the real killer faked his death, and Beckett's life is still in danger. Very effective if you didn't realize that this episode was the first half of a two-parter.
    • The episode "Recoil" has an interesting variation. Beckett is the one to notice this time, after Castle argues that it is an Open-and-Shut Case. While never said outright, it is likely that Castle wanted the plot to succeeed and kill Bracken.
  • This happens so often in Chuck that it's almost become part of the usual plot formula.
    • The second season finale is particularly bad. The bad guy's been defeated, the wedding was ruined, the wedding was saved, everything's set up for the next season! And there's still another ten minutes to go.
  • In the final episode of Cowboy Bebop (2021). Vicious takes Jet's daughter Kimmie hostage to force Spike out of hiding. Spike and Jet appear to have defeated Vicious' goons, but when they try to Shoot the Hostage Taker they find the bullets go straight through Vicious, as he and Kimmie are holograms transmitted from another location. Then even more goons arrive and put laser dots on them, forcing their surrender.
  • CSI: NY: "Hung Out To Dry", the first ep of the multi-season Shane Casey storyline. The ep's over and he's arrested, everything's tied up. Whoops, he just escaped from custody...
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Daleks": At the end of Episode 4, the Doctor and his friends have escaped from the Dalek city and saved the Thals from the Daleks' ambush. They're all set to get back in the TARDIS and continue their travels... until Ian remembers the Daleks took a vital TARDIS component from him, meaning they're stuck on the planet. Cue perilous trek back into the Dalek City... (Note that this was only Doctor Who's second story and the first was four episodes long.)
    • A similar example at the end of Episode 5 of "Marco Polo": The travellers have outwitted their hosts/captors and regained control of the repaired TARDIS. Then, as Susan is about to join the others inside, Tegana grabs her from behind.
    • At the end of Episode 6 of "The Daleks' Master Plan", the Doctor and company escape from the Daleks, having rendered their doomsday weapon useless, and go off for a fun Christmas episode involving Hollywood producers and Liverpool policemen and...hang on, the Daleks are back. Is this still the same story?
    • Episode 2 of "The Ark" ends with the Doctor curing the plague that had infected the Ark and departing in the TARDIS. Then they rematerialise back in the same spot, except now the statue that was meant to take 700 years to complete is finished... and has a Monoid's head.
    • "The Invasion of Time": The Doctor's Xanatos Speed Chess against the Vardans has paid off, and everyone's ready to celebrate, but wait... what's this? Sontarans?! Oh, Crap! Partially spoiled by the BBC announcer who called it a six-part serial from the start, confirming that things wouldn't be resolved by the end of Episode 4.
    • In "The Creature from the Pit", main villain Lady Adrasta is killed with about 20 minutes to go, seemingly leaving the Doctor to simply arrange a treaty between Chloris and Tythonus. Then the Tythonians decide to destroy Chloris in retribution for her actions and various minor villains get in the way of the Doctor trying to stop them.
    • At the end of "The Keeper of Traken", the Master has been defeated and possibly killed and the Doctor has left. Then the Master reappears, kills Tremas and gains a new body, and it turns out to be the first part of a trilogy.
    • The Doctor manages to kill the Borad with about 10 minutes to go of "Timelash". Then the Bandrils decide to attack Karfel anyway. Then it turns out the Borad who was killed was a clone...
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": Lazarus has been seemingly defeated, and his prone body is being loaded into an ambulance. But it's only the beginning of the third act, so he turns back into a monster and kills the ambulance crew.
    • The show also does something similar in "Utopia". Up until then the new series had only had two-part season finales. That season seemed to follow this, as the problem of the episode had been solved by the end... but a new problem shows up at the same time, as the Master comes back, leading to a Cliffhanger into the last two episodes.
    • The very end of "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" two-parter. The day has been saved, including restoring CAL and bringing back Donna along with four thousand other vanished people, but River died in a Heroic Sacrifice stopping the Doctor from doing the same. The camera lingers on River's diary and sonic screwdriver as the Doctor and Donna walk sadly away, with a voiceover from River musing that travel with the Doctor always ends, and everyone dies eventually... but the Doctor will never accept that, and he dashes back onto the screen, grabs the screwdriver, and goes into a mad rush to save River with a minute left in the episode.
    • "A Good Man Goes to War" pulls this, as the Doctor's plan succeeds brilliantly with almost no loss of life... except the episode's only half over, the Headless Monks may still be lurking around, as they have no actual life signs to monitor, Melody is revealed to be part Time Lord, and everything generally goes to hell as the monks launch a counter attack. Then, the bad stuff begins to happen. Madame Kovarian pulls the rug out from everyone by showing she still has Melody, and the "Melody" they thought they had rescued was just a Ganger, and, oh, yeah, River Song reveals herself to be Melody, all grown up.
  • Every season of Farscape ends on one of these, with the cliffhanger usually resolved in the first episode of the next season. Season 4's finale was especially flagrant, as it teased the viewer with the prospect of an actual happy ending in the Farscape universe before shattering that pipe dream.
  • Friends: In the series finale Ross and Phoebe rush to JFK airport to try and stop Rachel from going to Paris. They hurriedly buy tickets to get through security but Ross can't find Rachel's flight on the departure board. He calls Monica to check the flight number, which he has correct, only for Monica to reveal that Rachel's at Newark airport...and a cut reveals she's already boarding her plane.
  • Game of Thrones: As Littlefinger tells Sansa in "Valar Morghulis", Joffrey's new compromise with Margaery does not mean she's to be set free nor does make her safe from Joffrey if he still wants to take her while married to another woman.
  • Multiple episodes of House seemingly end with House and his cronies having cured the patient du jour, only for them to develop a crazy (and often, violently disgusting) new symptom, deepening the mystery. One episode did the opposite; they let their patient die, but then, just as they start the autopsy...
  • In the first season finale of The Inside Man, "Checkmate," the Handler tells Mark Shepherd that it doesn't matter if he's put a stop to him, that there are much bigger fish in play who will keep coming.
    Handler: Well, isn't that great? You saved the day. As in one day.
  • One episode of Joan of Arcadia has Joan and her friend Grace resolve their differences and then sit on the porch while the camera pulls away, a song plays, and the screen fades out. There was still twenty minutes left.
  • In order to save The Multiverse, Kamen Rider Decade was tasked with the mission of going over to 9 worlds of the Heisei Riders and helping the Riders there. Once he's finished with all 9 worlds, Decade and crew seemingly return to their home dimension. However, Decade soon learns that it's not over; not by a long shot. The dimension they returned to was not their home. Decade's Quest for Identity, which was his ulterior motive in this mission, still draws blank. There's Dai-Shocker waiting in the shadows for their Great Leader to return so that they can start their conquest. Finally, The Multiverse is still on the brink of destruction.
    • This happens again in Double. The duo finally defeat Ryubee Sonozaki and it seems that everything is coming to a close. Cut to Kazu carrying Wakana's body. The kicker? Shotaro even knows it's not the end due to them not finding Wakana's body.
  • Nearly every episode of Law & Order is like this; if they don't have the wrong suspect in the beginning, then the case is quickly wrapped up only for something leading to the investigation of a more horrific or serious crime to appear, such as an episode where a simple open-shut case of a peeping tom pedophile reveals that one of his victims was also the victim of parental child abuse.
    • One episode of starts with the detectives investigating the robbery of a safe deposit box vault and the murder of a guard. This case is solved quickly, but amongst the loot recovered from the thieves is a gun used in a 30 year old murder that had been in one of the boxes. Cue segue into a new investigation.
    • There was also the time the perp was caught and plead out by about :20, only for McCoy to decide to go after the makers of the illegally modified pistol used to commit the crime.
    • There was the time there was a rash of serial killings of young teenaged black boys that looked like copycat killings of a white supremacist McCoy successfully prosecuted years ago. The detectives discover the killer is a black religious fanatic who confesses to everything...and reveals he was no copycat. He was the original serial killer all along. The white supremacist was innocent. The rest of the episode focuses on the mounting legal troubles McCoy faces for this blunder. It turns out his female assistant (and lover) at the time deliberately withheld evidence that would not only have cleared the white supremacist, but also pointed to the real killer. This became a Once Done, Never Forgotten moment for McCoy (though it didn't stop him from eventually becoming the head DA).
    • One of the spin-off shows, SVU, has a habit of doing this in a bizarre way. Occasionally, the investigation of a sexual crime will uncover a bizarre and extensive Government Conspiracy worthy of Fox Mulder.
      • One of the best examples is an episode which starts off with a murder that is resolved in the first twenty minutes — then out of nowhere it's discovered that one of the possible suspects is not the father of the boy he thinks is his son. This thread goes on for a while and it ends with his arrest for murdering his wife so that he can keep his son — but there's still twenty minutes left. Turns out while Eliot was arresting the perp, his wife went into labor *and* got in a car crash...
  • Leverage does this every week. Their plan is working perfectly, then somewhere between the 20 minute mark and the 40 minute mark something goes awry and they have to improvise.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: It looks like the plot of season 1 is resolved by episode 6. Adar and the Orcs are defeated, Sauron was Killed Offscreen by Adar sometime before the show began, thus ending Galadriel's mission to find him, and the Southlanders found their long awaited king in Halbrand. But Orodruin just had to erupt and ruin everyone's good time. Oh, Adar escapes, and two 2 episodes later is revealed that Halbrand is Sauron. The future is looking bright.
  • Naturally, a twist-loving show like Lost does this a few times.
    • A notable example is the third season finale, at the end of which Jack has called a boat that appears to be coming to rescue them, the Others have been largely defeated, Ben is a captive, the Rousseaus have been reunited, and everyone is cheering and ready to leave forever. This seems like a good time to end the season and perhaps even the series (massive unanswered questions notwithstanding). But there are still 4-5 minutes left in the episode, just enough time for one final flashback revealing the episode's flashbacks have actually been flashforwards to a time when Jack and Kate have been rescued, and Jack desires to return to the island.
    • The Season 5 finale seems to resolve both major plotlines (the hydrogen bomb and pilgrimage to Jacob) by the end of the episode, but cuts back to 1977 for one final, short scene in which a still-living Juliet whacks the bomb until it explodes.
    • There are three episodes that involve a sudden final flashback to a character uninvolved with the main centricity, usually revealing a plot twist. The first is Season 2's "Dave", where a Libby flashback shows she was in the same mental ward as Hurley. The second is Season 6's "Ab Aeterno", where a flashback shows the Man in Black conversing with Jacob in 1867 about the former's attempt to kill the latter. And the third is Season 6's "Everybody Loves Hugo", where a Desmond flashsideways shows him intentionally hitting Locke with his car, then speeding off.
  • Ditto for Sunday night detective dramas like Midsomer Murders. If the detectives have it all neatly worked out, and there's more than twenty minutes left of the two hours, then they've missed something. (Or someone else is about to drop dead.)
  • This trope is abused (like so many other tropes) in the Monty Python's Flying Circus skit "Secret Service Dentists".
  • Two in a row in this example. In Odd Squad's famous season finale, "O is Not for Over", Agent Otto defeats Odd Todd and the other agents, including Olive, the new Ms. O, reveal themselves. Everyone congratulates Otto on doing so...before Agent Ohlm races up and accuses him of working with Odd Todd. In a flashback, Otto tells the story of How They Got Here, and thus, the conflict is resolved...until everyone realized Otto opened up all the doors in Headquarters and run to the bullpen to fight everyone released.
    • "Rise of the Hydraclops" has Olive, Otto and Oscar going to search for the ultimate weapon that will defeat the eponymous creature. However, every time the two Investigation agents are led to a treasure chest by Oscar, it just contains another map to the chest where the weapon is buried, much to their annoyance. Eventually they manage to find it and defeat the Hydraclops.
    • In "Villains in Need Are Villains Indeed", every time Odd Squad thinks that Benny the robot is destroyed for good, a villain will pipe up that he is indestructible and has emerged from whatever threat he is steered toward. The eventual solution is to have him go in a square between four different areas until something kills him (since he runs on long-lasting battery power).
    • In "It Takes Goo to Make a Feud Go Right", Olympia, Otis and Ms. O settle things with Queen Goo and King Berry...just before Ms. O realizes that she invited a third Goo person over for lunch.
    • In "Teach a Man to Ice Fish", Orla, Oswald and the other Arctic agents manage to slide the Arctic precinct's large computer across the floor by making it icy. However, Orla and Oswald find out that the outlet they need to plug the computer into isn't on the bottom floor — it's on Arctic Mr. O's desk, which is on an elevated floor that has no ramp.
  • In the penultimate episode of Once Upon a Time Season 1, "An Apple Red as Blood", Snow White and friends successfully launched a daring rescue for Charming... only to find that her prince was in another castle.
  • Peep Show episodes almost invariably have a moment around the twenty-minute mark where, if the show ended there, everything would be fine. But of course It Gets Worse.
  • Power Rangers:
  • Partly subverted in the original Prime Suspect. From the start the police have an obvious suspect and appear to be well on the way to solving the case. They even anticipate beating the force record. But if you thought "it can't be him", you're wrong. It was him, and at no point is there any suggestion that they had the wrong suspect. It just turned out to be a bit more difficult to prove it than they thought.
  • In Prison Break, it happens all the time, but the worst is the series finale when the gang are all cleared with twenty minutes to go. Michael and Sarah are walking down the beach, talking about their future, when Michael starts bleeding from the nose. The flash forward has him dead.
  • In the Psych episode "Tuesday the 17th", it was clear something else was up when the mystery was solved at the half hour mark. The fact that the first part was a spoof of April Fools should have been a clue for what was coming next.
  • You can count on this happening two or three times on any Quantum Leap episode, as Al's suggestions for how to set things right wind up having worse consequences and Sam has to change something else.
  • Similar to the Sherlock example, one episode of Scrubs has Turk being stuck in surgery, making him late for his wedding. His boss lets him leave early and he arrives at the church Just in Time (the priest is about to leave), only to accidentally arrive at the wrong church. Though when Turk later goes to check on a patient after the wedding, the patient is revealed to be a priest, so he and Carla are still able to get married that night. If you pay attention, you might remember Carla mentioning that they recently changed the venue for the wedding.
  • Sherlock: In "The Great Game", Sherlock's infamous arch-nemesis Moriarty, having seemingly left Sherlock and John unharmed following a tense showdown involving explosives and a sniper, returns at the last minute, declaring "I'm so changeable!" as additional snipers reveal themselves. At this, Sherlock aims a handgun at the previously mentioned explosives, before the shot cuts to a Black Screen of Death... Cue a year-long wait for Season 2.
  • The Grand Finale of The Shield sees Vic all set to go out as a Karma Houdini; instead, he is hit with a Humiliation Conga, where he ends up being an office drone. Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, indeed.
  • Happens from time to time in Sliders. Whew, we're home! No, we're not. It's just very similar. Dang.
  • Square One TV: In one Mathnet story, "The Case of the Parking Meter Massacre", the culprit, played by celebrity guest Wayne Knight, was caught on Wednesday. Naturally, there was a copycat criminal out and about.
  • Stargate SG-1 had a tendency to play this trope, notably in the search for the lost city of Atlantis, and the quest for the Holy Grail/Sangraal/Anti-Ori weapon. In the latter case, the team was actually presented with what they thought was the object, only to discover that it was a hologram.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Aquiel," both people (Morag and Aquiel) suspected of being the coalescent organism are taken into custody — and just in time, too, as it seems Geordi was only seconds away from being absorbed. But there are still four and a half minutes left in the episode! Cut to Riker in Geordi's quarters, telling him he's had a rough couple of days and that he should get some rest, all while Geordi is petting Aquiel's dog Maura. Then Riker leaves, and Maura starts acting kind of weird...
  • In Teen Wolf, The Driving Question of Season 2 was "Who is the Kanima?" Mid-season, it was revealed to be Jackson's Superpowered Evil Side, and the question became "Who is the Kanima's master?"
  • White Collar: "Free Fall", Neal, in the belief that he had finally found his Love Interest Kate, storms into a hotel room to rescue her. She is not there.

  • The Fake-Out Fade-Out is the music world's version of this. A famous example would be the one in "Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles. Sometimes it's just a little postscript riff, like in "Wonderwall" by Oasis. Also, "Mr Slator's Parrot" by The Bonzo Dog Band...
  • Encores at concerts. Although audiences usually expect them (especially if a band hasn't played its biggest hit yet), bands will typically pretend the show is over at the end of the main set, maybe even thanking the audience and saying good night.
  • The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" also does this. Twice. Which turns into a video games example when songs containing one show up in Rock Band or Guitar Hero.
  • Used to superb effect in "Over The Hills And Far Away" by Led Zeppelin, as well as "Anne's Song" by Faith No More.
  • Rob Cantor's "Shia LaBeouf" tells the story of survival against the eponymous actors attempts to eat you. Halfway through the song, the narrator describes killing Shia LaBeouf with a stab to the kidneys. But the song isn't over yet...
  • The video for Tupac Shakur's "Changes", the first song released after his death, does this very impactfully. For two verses Tupac raps about social issues and the problems of the black underclass over clips from his previous videos and from rare home videos. At the end of the second verse, we see a collage of video and audio clips from Tupac's life, while in the background Tupac speaks over a fading chorus. It ends with the collage resolving into a mosaic depicting Tupac's face, a fitting memorial to his life and work... and then the third verse starts up with the words, "And still I see no changes; Can't a brother get a little peace?"
  • A few years before Tupac's death, Oingo Boingo recorded a song called "Change" that glides to a comfortable ending after 15 minutes, only to return for the final verse and chorus.
  • Subverted in one version of the children's song "Be Kind To Your Fine Feathered Friends," which cuts off — much earlier than you'd expect it to — with the words "You may think that this is the end...and it is." The other version ends "You may think that this is the end...and it is, but there is another ending. This is it."
  • Could also be the 'hidden tracks' on some albums as well. Jay Z did this on his album The Blueprint, with the final song 'Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)' ending, then two more full songs, 'Lyrical Exercise' and 'Girls Girls Girls Remix' playing on the same song number of the CD.
  • Richard Strauss's "Also sprach Zarathustra" has a fake ending somewhere about halfway through, where a thrilling double fugue culminates in the entire orchestra blasting out the opening theme in a seemingly triumphant manner, pipe organ and all. After a moment of silence, the orchestra resumes playing what it had been, only much more slowly and faintly. (The actual ending is quiet and deliberately anticlimactic.)
  • The Monty Python's Flying Circus song I'm So Worried has three verses that could be the last verse in succession, with the latter two being about the singer's concerns that he should have ended the song with the previous verse.
  • Stone Temple Pilots' Plush seems to end about 3/4 of the way through, for only about half a second, when it picks up again.
  • An alternate recording The Beach Boys made of "Help Me, Rhonda" has the repetition of the refrain and the end with alternating stanzas fading out then slamming in at normal range on the ensuing stanzas.
  • They Might Be Giants' "Everything Right is Wrong Again" halfway through has the repeated lyric, "And now the song is over now, the song is over now," but the song continues for another minute or so after that.
  • the Mountain Goats have a song by the name "Thank You Mario, But Our Princess Is In Another Castle!", with a bit of a Perspective Flip — it's from Toad's viewpoint.
  • This happens in Carpenters' "I Believe You". The first time you hear what appears to be the final verse that slows down and stops a bit, you think it's over but then, BAM! A repeat of the bridge and the final verse again, this time once more.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Shane McMahon pulled this on Triple H when he faced Mideon and Viscera in a handicap casket match. Triple H had put Mideon in the casket and thought he had won, but Shane, who had been assaulted by Triple H not long ago, clarified the ruling that he had to put BOTH Mideon (nearly 300lbs) and Viscera (nearly 500lbs) in the casket at the same time. Obviously, Triple H didn't stand a chance.
  • After Low Ki had clearly beat Xavier for the Impact Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Title, perched atop him and two ladders holding the title belt high, Xavier slipped off and the both of them crashed down, the belt landing on Xavier and the referee, in a particularly jarring instance of incompetence, declared Xavier the winner. When another referee disputed this, it led to the match being restarted.
  • The Black Birds were awarded the NWA Mid-South Tag Team Championships on October 14th 2005 only to then lose them to the New Bounty Hunters.
  • Any time Money in the Bank is cashed in right after the Champion had already won a hard-fought title match. Notable examples include Edge cashing in on John Cena after an Elimination Chamber, CM Punk cashing in on Jeff Hardy after a ladder match with Edge, and The Miz cashing in on Randy Orton after a title match with Wade Barrett. The last one is particularly notable because it happened on an episode of Raw and anyone who looked at the clock after Orton beat Barrett would have guessed that something like this would happen.
  • RoH's Glory by Honor VI: Night One, Chris Hero made Nigel McGuinness tap out, only to not be awarded the World Championship due to McGuinness being underneath the bottom rope at the time and then was forced to submit himself, giving Nigel another successful retention.
  • A double example: in 2009, CM Punk attempted to cash in on an exhausted Edge, only for Umaga to storm the ring and give Punk a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • At Elimination Chamber 2010, Batista pulled this on John Cena after his grueling match by simply requesting an immediate title shot from Vince McMahon.
  • Averted at Money in the Bank 2011 by CM Punk, who kicked Alberto Del Rio in the head and fled the arena before Del Rio could cash in his contract following Punk's hard-fought WWE championship victory over John Cena.
  • Often, a wrestler will win a hard-fought match, only to be assaulted from behind by another wrestler whom they weren't feuding with (yet). For example, in 2011 TNA, Velvet Sky had just handily defeated Winter, Angelina Love, Jeff Jarrett, and Karen Jarrett. She had declared that she will put these rivalries behind her and get into the Knockouts Title hunt. She starts saluting the crowd and walking to the back... only to be assaulted by ODB, who hasn't been seen in about a year. A few weeks later, Velvet beats ODB in a street fight... only to be assaulted by Jackie Moore, who hadn't been seen for about two years.
  • Another instance, this time involving The Nexus. After months of tormenting WWE, attacking almost every single superstar on the roster, including The Undertaker, and even getting John Cena fired for a little while, leader Wade Barrett suffers a pretty decisive defeat from Cena, leading everyone to assume the group was done. However, two weeks later, CM Punk, one of the most talented, charismatic, but also one of the most ruthless wrestlers in WWE, decided to become Nexus' new leader after being fed up with Cena's attitude. Uh oh.
  • Probably one of the biggest examples of 2013 happened at SummerSlam. It was Daniel Bryan going up against then WWE Champion John Cena for the title. After a long, hard fought match, Bryan pulls off what people thought he never could when he entered the company, and defeats Cena with a new finisher to finally claim the WWE Championship. He's celebrating, Triple H is congratulating him (he was Special Ref for the match), the streamers are coming down. History has been made...then Randy Orton storms down with the Money in the Bank briefcase. The good news for Bryan at the time was that A) he still was healthy enough to at least attempt to fight off Orton and B) Orton had pretty much reminded everyone every week that he would probably cash in at SummerSlam. Orton seemed to agree and started to walk away, and thus Bryan resumed his celebration. THEN Triple H turns him around and Pedigrees him. Orton hands in the briefcase, pins Bryan, becomes the new Champion and thus a new Corporation-like faction was born.
  • In February and March 2019, Kofi Kingston was on a roll after replacing an injured Mustafa Ali in the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship and lasting an hour in a Gauntlet match for the final entrance in that match. He was the final man eliminated in the Chamber match (won by defending champion Daniel Bryan), and then Shane McMahon names him #1 contender to the title at Fastlane. Only to be removed from the match by Vince McMahon and replaced by Mustafa Ali, while he gets promised a triple threat match, but instead gets a 2-on-1 match against Sheamus and Cesaro. And then Vince tells him on SmackDown that he'll get the match if he can win ANOTHER gauntlet match, this time against Sheamus, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe and Erick Rowan. Sure enough, Kofi wins the gauntlet, only to be told 30 seconds later by Vince that he must beat Bryan as well to earn his Wrestlemania match. Of course, Bryan defeats him easily.

  • During Nothing Is Sacred's Duelist Kingdom Arc, a successive series of obstacles continuously appears to prevent Stella from finding the perpetrator who took Abidos' soul. The action taken violates the rules of the Chosen, necessitating the Monarchs to step in and rectify the situation? The perpetrator has yet to accept their position as Chosen, meaning that they are not yet bound by the Monarchs' rules. You've successfully retrieved your friend's lost deck and can question the spirits inside on the culprit's identity? The Gadgets turn out to be both incapable of human speech and awful artists. You've discovered the location of and gained access to the server room containing information on both your suspect's identity and their deck composition? Your suspect used their administrative access to wipe all records of their battle from the system. You've gained entrance to the island's castle and confronted someone who perfectly matches the description of the assailant? Only the gadget most focused on physical appearance thinks he is the culprit, while the other two do not.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Imagine magazine #5 adventure "The Taking of Siandabhair". The Player Characters are sent on a mission to rescue Princess Siandabhair from the underwater lair of the Old Woman of the Bay. When they search the lair, they find that the Princess has been moved to the home of the Old Woman of the Lough. And once they explore that place, they discover that she's been moved to a third location, that of the Old Woman of the Mountains. After they fight their way through that area, they can finally rescue her.

  • In The Fantasticks, the cast also appears to get their Happily Ever After at the end of Act 1. It doesn't work out the way everyone hoped.
  • This trope is the raison d'etre of the Sondheim musical Into the Woods. At the conclusion of the first act, all the subplots are resolved and every fairy tale character is literally singing Happy Ever After. After the intermission, of course, consequences of the first act unfold, and everything goes to hell.
    • Averted with Into The Woods Junior, a Bowdlerised version of the play for children's school and community theater productions that literally omits the entire second act.
  • At the end of Mamma Mia!, after what appears to be the final bow, the company reprise the title song, then Donna & The Dynamos come back on stage in ABBA-esque shiny outfits and perform "Dancing Queen" and "Waterloo" beneath disco lighting, inviting the audience to dance along.
  • The Merchant of Venice. Shylock has been defeated! The eponymous Merchant is saved! Mercy's quality avoids straining! Everything the audience cares about is over! Meanwhile, in Act Five...
  • The Physicists by Dürrenmatt. The main conflict is resolved, all strings tied up, the scientific notes destroyed, Möbius, Einstein and Newton have agreed to remain locked away from the world for its safety. Then, in the final scene, the head nurse reenters, proves herself to be the only real insane in the asylum and declares her intentions to take over the world through the discoveries, she had already copied, with the protagonists helpless in their self-imposed prison. The End. Due to its brevity, the twist even works in book form.

    Theme Parks 

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Case 1-4 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Despite a bit of interference, you manage to prove Edgeworth isn't the murderer... and then it turns out the whole trial was a Batman Gambit by Manfred von Karma to get Edgeworth to confess to his own father's murder 15 years ago.
    • In Case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, after you prove your client innocent of theft by proving that he was in another place at the time. Right after the verdict, it is found that at the same time as the theft, there was a murder exactly where you proved he was. At which point you then have to prove that the guy that you've proven as the real thief is actually the real murderer, despite the fact that he did indeed pull off both crimes, which happened at the same time. Phoenix understandably freaks out several times. A very memorable case.
    • In the DLC case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Phoenix proves that the orca isn't responsible for the aquarium owner's death on the first trial day, only for the prosecutor to immediately have her trainer arrested for murder.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Korekiyo invokes this when he admits that he killed Tenko and taunts Himiko that even though she hates him, she can't do anything to him because Monokuma states they're only looking for Angie's killer...unfortunately for Korekiyo, he left behind evidence that he did indeed kill Angie too.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! seems to be about to reach its story's climax with the school festival — although things have got a little worrying by then — but then it suddenly gets derailed and you get what seems to be a Bad Ending. However, what is really happening is that to advance the story, you have to start the game again from the beginning, and this time it will be... different. Let's just say different.
  • Little Busters!: In a rare example where the revelation that the ending was fake is actually a good thing, at the end of Refrain Little Busters comes to an apparently conclusive (if extremely depressing) Downer Ending, and it's only after three minutes of credits (and, likely, sobbing on behalf of the player) that the game goes black...and then gives you one final choice, which leads to the epilogue and the true ending. (Or, if not the true one, at least a much happier one.)
  • Tsukihime: After killing Nero Chaos, Shiki assumes that all the vampire problems are over. Arcueid points out the obvious fact that Nero didn't leave corpses and couldn't have been the vampire responsible for most of the incidents. And the savvy reader realizes the story is way too short otherwise.

  • In the "To Thine Own Self" arc of General Protection Fault, the alliance between GPF, the UGA and La Résistance of the Nega-Verse manages to capture Emperor Nicholas, Duchess Ki and General Duncan, as well as freeing the captured Nick. At that moment, the aliens with whom Nicholas had been fighting a Hopeless War attack, and the heroes discover that they are unable to use the Mutex to get home or contact the people in their dimension.
  • The debut strip of It Sucks to Be Weegie! opens with Luigi having reached the end of a castle only to be told by a Toad, who identifies him as "skinny gay Mario", that the princess, well you know the rest. Luigi decides he doesn't really care to save a princess and just wants someone to talk to, but the Toad cruelly sends him away. Just another day in the unfair life of Luigi, the tall guy perpetually stuck in his shorter brother's shadow.
  • The Order of the Stick teaches us that people should not trust instructions given by a jerkass to a member of their group that they didn't get along with in the first place. It turned out that the coordinates Girard gave Soon for the location of his gate turned out to be a random spot in the middle of the world's largest desert. Because he didn't trust him. For a while, the Order of the Stick was stuck back at square ZERO because not only did they not have any idea where to go, this time they couldn't fall back on the Sapphire Guard for information.
    • The joke is lampshaded by the same guy in this strip. Although THAT is later revealed to be a subversion: the cube in the strip is actually a lead-lined container for the actual gate, and Girard was Genre Savvy enough to realize that the Genre Savvy adventurers looking for the gate would be successfully turned away by a lame joke and some magic-blocking lead.
  • Invoked in the 2005 installment of the annually-published Platypus Comix story "Keiki's Huge Christmas Epic". While trying to help Andrea escape government officials wanting to take advantage of her wish-granting powers, Beefer asks Keiki if they'll get to resolve the story "this year". Keiki, suspecting they'll have to add a chapter the following year, simply asks, "What do you think?" Indeed, on the very next page, Andrea gets trapped, and tries to escape by wishing she and her friends were the President (sic) of the United States, creating yet another Cliffhanger.
  • Return To Player begins with Sehan the only survivor of humanity. He has no reason to think this is anything except the of the world… until offered a second playthrough of the game.
  • In the Square Root of Minus Garfield strip NESField 3, Garfield goes to a castle find frozen pudding pops only to find Jon has gotten there first.
  • Hilariously played with in Zero Effort, when the protagonists fought the dragon only to find out the reward is not what they wanted.
    Princess: Well... You didn't by any chance come here... in search of something, did you?
    Zeef: Yeah. Treasure.
    Princess: Oh, of course. Nope, no treasure here. Sorry.
    Zeef: Great. What a waste of time. What the heck would a dragon guard besides treasure?

    Web Original 
  • In Doctor Who: The Movie, the Doctor and Lucy spend most of the movie arriving just too late, defeating the monster left behind in this or that timezone by the Master only to realize that he has already moved on to the next one. Since two or three of the locations are in fact castles, the Doctor even gets to say "According to my time readings, he's in another castle", thus not only playing this trope straight, but even almost verbatim!
  • In Grandmaster of Theft, Cassidy has successfully won the challenge to steal Undine's Tear from Narcissa. Or so it seems, it turns out it was a fake and she lied about even bringing the real one in the first place.
  • Search for Sandvich: In "the Plot Thickens!", the mercs find a bakery with sandwiches... but they've lost the Medic, so they leave the bakery without a sandwich so they can start looking for the Medic too.
  • the ending of Wolf Song: The Movie plays out like this. Kara stabs the Death Alpha using the horn courtesy of her enhanced form and he twitches a couple times, but instead of dropping dead, he reveals he has one last nasty surprise for Kara: the brief moment of hesitation has allowed him to use the Stone she had used against him to take control of her father, forcing Kara to make a difficult choice that would determine the actual ending the next minute.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • In "The Earth King", a couple of minutes before the end of the episode everything seems to be going well. The Earth King has granted his support for the invasion, the Evil Chancellor has been imprisoned, Sokka is about to meet his father for the first time in two years, Toph's just heard her own parents are in town and are willing to forgive her for running away, and the Kyoshi Warriors are on their way. Sokka, rather happily, announces "Everything is going to work out perfectly." Within the next minute and a half, it's revealed Dai Li agents are still taking orders from Long Feng. The "Kyoshi Warriors" are actually the Quirky Miniboss Squad in disguise, lead by Azula, and they now have the complete trust of the Earth King. Oh yeah, and the thing with Toph's parents was actually a trap set by people trying to kidnap her.
    • When Aang goes to the Royal Palace to fight the Fire Lord, he isn't there. When Team Avatar goes to the underground bunker, the Fire Lord's chamber, surprise! He still isn't there. Azula's there to stall them until their time window ends instead. Zuko finds and confronts the Fire Lord, though.
  • In Class of the Titans, the heroes actually defeat Cronus at least twice, but he always escapes before he can get thrown back into Tartarus.
  • Freakazoid! hilariously exaggerates this trope when an episode appears to be concluded in under two minutes. The show then cuts to a Warner Bros. board meeting:
    Steven Spielberg: I don't get this. What is this? Dexter gets eaten, then fade out? The end? Where's Freakazoid?
    Man at meeting: Well, he's not in this episode.
    Steven Spielberg: Not in it? He's the star of the show. What are you thinking?
    Second Man: Well, we were thinking of maybe ending the episode early today.
    Woman at meeting: And showing some Animaniacs reruns.
    Steven Spielberg: Oh. I like that.
    • Followed by the Animaniacs opening theme. Spielberg then has a change of heart and decides that the preceding segment was just a dream.
  • There was an episode of Garfield and Friends where Garfield cost the mailman his job. Garfield looks at the ex-mailman, who is sitting on the sidewalk and crying, and says "Gee, what a sad way to end a cartoon." and walks off. A U.S. Acres cartoon seems to start, but Garfield interrupts it and says "You didn't think I was really gonna let him stay fired, did you?" and the cartoon continues to show Garfield getting the mailman his job back.
  • Hey Arnold!, "Phoebe's Little Problem": The bit with Phoebe's teacher talking to her seems to have been written with this trope in mind. For a moment it seems that he's just talked her back into returning to school... until he accidentally makes a Freudian Slip and says "fart" when he meant to say "Let's make a brand new start".
  • The Season 2 finale of Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 has all the Big Bads defeated, the Red and Blue Sentients making peace, and the eons old interdimensional war has come to an end...then Rawkus reveals that the Ancient Ones have awakened and the battle is far from over.
  • Jumanji did this a lot. Anytime Judy and Pete got out of the board game with more than a few minutes left it meant one of a few things 1) Pete/Judy did something stupid/unethical and will spend the rest of the episode having to fix it 2) Something bad is going to happen.
  • The episode "Over the Moon" of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack had Flapjack and Captain K'Nuckles see and nearly touch Candied Island...but since it wasn't the Grand Finale, the moon's gravitational pull grabbed them back and they were forced to watch the sugar-coated island float off into the distance. At least Flap was able to taste it...
  • A Mighty Mouse cartoon does this with a To Be Continued... Right Now slant. The cartoon is coming to the climax when it starts irising out and the narrator telling patrons to watch for the conclusion next week. It suddenly freezes frame as the narrator suddenly says we can't wait till next week and pleads the cartoon's conclusion go on.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The episode "Applebuck Season" has a great example. Applejack, stubbornly refusing help with the eponymous Applebuck Season, proudly shows off that's she's harvested the whole crop by herself. Only for her injured brother, Big Macintosh to point out, she hasn't even finished half. She finally collapses from exhaustion after the revelation.
    • Played in a more literal sense in "Twilight's Kingdom Part 2" when Lord Tirek attempts to steal magic from the three other princesses. He thinks he's all-but conquered Equestria after draining and disposing of them, until a stained glass window reveals there's a fourth princess.
  • An Al Brodax Popeye cartoon has Popeye and Brutus as competing farmers at a county fair. The final event is eating spinach and testing its strength. Brutus offers to shake hands with Popeye to make it fair, but he double crosses him and flings him across the field.
    Brutus: (to us) You didn't think I was gonna play fair with that runt and take a chance against his spinach!
  • In the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode about Daphne's room being stolen, they (of course) manage to catch and unmask who did the crime, a security guard, and the gang citing the "And you would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for us meddling kids." line for him. Suddenly, the guard says "What makes you think I still can't get away with it?!" and the robot dog (revealed to work for the guard), that was trying to usurp Scooby with solving the mystery captures the kids and Daphne's parents, forcing Scooby to now fight the robot dog.
  • The Simpsons:
    • There's a classic Lampshade Hanging on this in the "Homer and Apu" episode as, almost exactly halfway through the episode, Homer comments that everything has wrapped up "much quicker than usual." Cut to Apu (who's been fired from the Kwik-e-Mart) lamenting that he wants his job back.
    • In the episode "Brawl in the Family," the plot (a social worker being assigned to teach the family how to cooperate) appears to be resolved halfway through the episode, prompting Lisa to almost break the fourth wall by suggesting that now the family's getting along so well, this may be the "end of our series...of events". Then Homer's and Ned's Vegas wives from a previous episode turn up...
    • In "Lisa's Sax", Homer's story of how Lisa got her saxophone turned into a story about Bart starting kindergarten, which ends early in the episode.
      Homer: And that my children, is the story of Bart's first day of school.
      Bart: Very nice.
      Homer: Yeah.
      Lisa: Yeah. Except you were supposed to be telling the story of how I got my saxophone!
      Homer: (Beat) D'oh!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), "The Doomsday Project", has a season-ending Cliffhanger version. You see that the main characters have defeated Robotnik, and are celebrating... and then you see that Robotnik's nephew Snively has a new mystery villain. It ended up being the final episode, so the new mystery villain remained that way. The writers said it was intended to be Naugus, however.
  • One SpacePOP episode leads the viewers to believe the princesses are finally going to rescue their parents only for the parents to be taken away to another dungeon, resulting in the quest having to continue.
  • In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants it is King Neptune's Birthday, except he's depressed because his son Triton is not there to celebrate with him. He was locked in a cage on the Island in the Sky thousands of years ago. So SpongeBob and Patrick, feeling sorry for Triton, go off to free him and reunite him with his father, even after learning that he was he was locked away for a reason... although not as good a reason as Neptune thought at the time. It turned out, Neptune was actually depressed because of traumatic memories of having to seal away his son for showing interest in the affairs of mortals, which he himself saw as un-godlike behavior, and the 1,000 years Triton spent in that cage had left him bitter, which SpongeBob did not know until it was too late. Cue Triton causing destruction throughout Bikini Bottom as revenge against his father.
  • Totally Spies!, "A Spy Is Born", has a similar Cliffhanger. You see that the girls have captured a rogue filmmaker, and that he's been put on a plane... and then you see in the final scene that he's escaped and captured Alex. Cue part two of the season finale...Which comes after a truckload of episodes before that (which confused a lot a fans).
  • The second season finale of Transformers: Animated seemed like it was going this way. Decepticons defeated, day saved, Sumdac rescued, status quo restored...and then Sari is revealed to be cybernetic. Roll credits (and bickering).

    Real Life 
  • A distaff version happened in 1238 when assassins tried to kill King Henry III of England by stabbing him to death in his chamber. They broke in to find he wasn't there. He was actually in the separate chamber of his Queen, Eleanor of Provence, having sex with her.note 
  • When Napoléon Bonaparte invaded Tsarist Russia, he made it all the way to Moscow and seized the city, and expected the war to be over and the Russians to surrender. However neither the Tsar nor most of the city's population and resources were there and the Russians didn't even dream of giving up. Faced with the onset of winter and exhausted troops, Napoleon had no choice but to return to France, as continuing the war was out of the question.
  • ESPN College Football analyst Lee Corso's Catchphrase is "Not so fast, my friend!" He usually says it to one of his co-hosts who has made a pick in an upcoming game he disagrees with. It is typically lampshaded with graphics or some other way to call special attention to it when he says it.
  • Most of religions eschatologies are like this: the Judaism is waiting for the coming of the Messiah since 4 000 years ago. Jesus appeared in the first century but eventually left, saying he would come a second time for the Judgment Day to truly establish the Kingdom of God, and thus the Christians are also waiting since the time. In 622, Muhammad told the same more or less, adding "corrections" and notably details about the Mahdi, so Muslims are also waiting for somebody. In 1844, an Iranian called "the Bab" pretended to be the Mahdi, announcing the cycle of Apocalypse as foretold by the (Islamically corrected) Scriptures. He was eventually shot for blasphemy, and his adepts funded a new religion (the Bahaism) to continue his prophetism, but anyway, the Apocalypse looks stalled since the time. The Hinduism too got a lot of gods' avatars, but is still waiting for the "Krta Yuga" (the Golden Age). Same for the Buddhism, that 27 Buddhas taught to the World before the last we know, Siddhartha Gautama, and is still waiting for the great collapse of the world to begin a new cycle (which is not exactly the definitive end, however, just from our point of view). Whichever is true, anyway, everybody is still waiting in the meanwhile.
  • World History is like this, notably about the coming of an everlasting peace. After World War I ended, people told it was the "war to end all wars" and the League of Nations was created to prevent this to ever happen again. Cue World War II which started two decades later, and after this one, everybody created the United Nations, swearing never, ever, ever, ever again. Then the Cold War began, yet less disastrous because the great confrontation was divided and relocated in lot of smaller wars in third countries. After the Cold War ended, and the fall of the Berlin Wall and USSR in 1989-91, Francis Fukuyama predicted that it was the end of History, and Capitalism would expand all over the World to bring prosperity and peace to everybody. After a not so peaceful decade (Yugoslavian War, The Gulf War, Rwanda), The War on Terror began...
  • Parallel to this is the question of economic growth and whether or not the pattern of boom and bust will ever end. Every few decades the idea that a permanent high of economic productivity has been reached will gain traction, so far none have stuck. However, people have steadily gotten vastly wealthier over time.
  • This is inverted in The Beautiful Game: What people consider to be the FIFA World Cup for association football/soccer is referred to as "the final tournament". FIFA considers the entire four-year cycle of qualifications leading up to the "Finals" to be part of the actual FIFA World Cup.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): False Ending, Our Princess Is In Another Castle, Not So Fast Bucko


The Hubble Telescope

After an intense space battle, the forces of Earth seemingly destroy the Omicron mothership...only for the real one to appear, hundreds of times bigger than Earth's flagship. Turns out they had blown up the (surprisingly well-armed) Hubble Space Telescope.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / NegatedMomentOfAwesome

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