Follow TV Tropes


Your Princess Is in Another Castle!

Go To


(Player is then forced to replay the whole game, on a time limit)note 

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.

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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • 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 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.
  • 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*
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The central plot of Mai Hi ME 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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! Wrong, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Legend of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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!.
  • 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.
  • The Fist of the North Star 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.
  • Lou Collins in Gunnm: Last Order. Repeatedly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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?
  • 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.
  • Near the end of the Kalos saga of the Pokémon anime, 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Thank you Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, Jason Todd, and Bob the Monitor! But Ray Palmer Is In Another Universe.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • The final line of dialogue of Quarter-Life: Halfway To Destruction.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Taking Lives, in which a police chief says, "Ah, it's over", after about 70 minutes. Naturally, it isn't.
  • Happens in Cloverfield. Twice.
  • 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"?).
  • The Halloween (2007) remake features the famous exchange in which Michael Myers is compared to the boogeyman. For those who watched the original, movie's over, right? Not exactly ...
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Casino Royale (2006) featured a lovely ending: Le Chiffre has lost and died and James Bond gets The Chick he's been eyeing for the entire movie. They kiss and begin a romance, with Bond deciding to quit MI-6. Everything is hunky-dory ... then Vesper betrays Bond, running away with the cash to pay her fiancee's ransom.
  • 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.
  • Australia. The film could easily have been split in two, which might have been for the better.
  • Letters to Juliet: Sophie's boss wonders this about her article.
  • 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.
  • Occurs in Dark Star, where the self-destruct has seemingly been aborted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mortal Kombat (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.
  • American Dreamer has a fake out ending, where it turns out Cathy's antics under Easy Amnesia got her into trouble with drug lords.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 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.
  • In Species, the protagonists prematurely celebrate when the creature apparently dies in a car crash, but in fact she faked the whole thing.
  • 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 
  • 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 neardeaths 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Discworld:
  • 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.
  • Jim Butcher does this on the last page of Changes. And it's a doozy.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • 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...
  • 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.)
  • Doctor Who:
    • "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 the episode "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 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.
    • "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.
    • 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.
    • "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.
    • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 four, 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 seven did it again in episode ten... 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 one, 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 two (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 four 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-five 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?
  • 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.
    • 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...
  • 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.
  • Babylon 5 ends the major conflict that drove the show (the Shadow war) just six episodes into season four. The remainder of season four was mostly about resolving the secondary conflict of the show (President Clark's regime on Earth), and the entirety of season five 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 four (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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • This trope is abused (like so many other tropes) in the Monty Python's Flying Circus skit "Secret Service Dentists".
  • Every season of Farscape ends on one of these, with the cliffhanger usually resolved in the first episode of the next season. Season Four'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.
  • 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.
  • In Teen Wolf, The Driving Question of season 2 was "Who is the Kanima?" Midseason, it was revealed to be Jackson's Superpowered Evil Side, and the question became "Who is the Kanima's master?"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Power Rangers:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the penultimate episode of Once Upon a Time Season One, "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.
  • Happens from time to time in Sliders. Whew, we're home! No, we're not. It's just very similar. Dang.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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....

  • 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.
  • 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 Moral Dissonance. 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 in 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 [[Wrestling/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.

    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.

  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros. series:
    • This trope gets its name from the original game with the Mushroom Retainers (Toads) saying the well known line that actually goes: "Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle!", forcing you to go through four more stages and seven more worlds. Then the Princess also symbolically does this at the end of the game by informing Mario that he was finally successful but there's another quest waiting for him. (Actually the same game with all goombas replaced by beetles and the enemies moving faster.)
      • And in the Famicom and Virtual Console versions of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels you have to play through the game seven more times without warping to reach the final four worlds and the true ending.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: Parodied when the Princess herself says it as a joke. Also, the entire World 8 is technically this trope. Your original mission was to save the kings of seven different kingdoms from Bowser. You do that and you're supposed to think the game's over, only to find out that while you've been out saving kings, Bowser has taken the princess and you must travel to his world to save her.
    • The phrase was actually used in an early draft of the Super Mario Bros. movie.
    • In New Super Mario Bros. Bowser Jr. actually drags Princess Peach from one castle to the next (which is subject to quite a bit of Fridge Logic of its own).
    • Super Mario Land had Mario rescue a fake princess after every boss, which quickly turned into a monster (based on the theme of the world) and ran off.
    • In Super Mario 3D World, once the seventh and final Sprixie is saved, Bowser pulls back the red victory screen, recaptures all seven Sprixies at once, and takes them to the real final world.
    • Played for laughs in NES Remix, during the mission where the Super Mario Bros. 2 incarnation of Princess Peach has to rescue her Super Mario Bros. 3 counterpart after the battle with Bowser. Upon entering the room, SMB3 Peach tells SMB2 Peach that she is in another castle.
  • Abobo's Big Adventure: In reference to the Trope Namer, Toad appears in a secret area within the Zelda level, to inform Abobo of this. Unfortunately for him, Abobo is looking for someone else, so he gets a Bullet Bill in the face for his trouble.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay has the eponymous character escape from parts of the game's also eponymous prison complex, every time seemingly ending the game, only for Riddick to be apprehended and thrown into a more heavily guarded block. Notably even after the player escapes from the last one (where the prisoners are stored in a cryonic state) the game still pulls this trope by throwing in a last Boss Battle.
    • The game also lampshades this during the first level/tutorial where Riddick manages to get away before he even enters the jail. The catch? He was dreaming.
    • Assault on Dark Athena features the entire Butcher Bay campaign (remade with 7th-gen technology) and has a gigantic Not So Fast Bucko by way of the ending leading directly into a new campaign of equal length to the original game.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Ōkami has two false climactic dungeons: Orochi's Cave one third of the way through the game, and then Oni Island, at about roughly the two thirds point. While before you enter these areas the game heavily portrays them as being The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, once you're actually inside, they have a curiously lighthearted and unhurried atmosphere. The real final dungeon on the other hand is treated with the appropriate amount of melodrama and gravity.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: You beat Xemnas in suitably epic fashion, albeit with relative ease, along with a good, long cutscene with characters ready to head home. Anyone who took a look at the OST would know that there's one more boss theme left...
  • The Tales Series does this a lot.
    • The ending of the Journey of Salvation, the pact with Luna, the attack on the Tower of Salvation, and the foray into the Treant's Forest in Tales of Symphonia. Each time the characters are absolutely convinced that this battle will be their last, and each time they are utterly wrong. Of course, most of these occur in Disc 1, which is a dead giveaway that there's more to come.
    • After defeating Dhaos in Tales of Phantasia. Right at the point where the party members are saying their goodbyes and preparing to go home, having defeated the Big Bad, excitement happens.
    • Tales of Vesperia does not let you down in this area either. Interestingly enough, you can be sure that Alexei isn't the final boss, but not because of a lack of skills and equipment or because the world map is largely unexplored (quite the opposite for both), but because plotwise, there are still a ton of unanswered questions. You didn't really think they were just gonna forget about the Adephagos, didja? Or that Duke would ever be left unexplained?
    • Tales of Hearts initial plotline is retrieving several MacGuffins, scattered fragments of a main character's soul. When this is done, the actual plot suddenly bursts forth from it, and the hapless gamer finds that he has about 20 more hours of game to go. (As it should be; the Spirune arc wraps up around the 25-hour mark.)
    • Tales of Destiny doesn't disappoint either. So you've chased Lydon all around the world, finally cornering him and ending his plans. The Eye of Atamoni is secure beneath Darilsheid castle, the Swordians have gone back to sleep, and our hero says his goodbyes and returns to his tiny hometown. The world is safe once again, right? Cue the second half of the game.
    • Tales of the Abyss has it, too, in epic fashion. Despite parts of the world being unexplored, you might actually believe it's the final dungeon — it's the longest one in the game, or very nearly so, and the true Big Bad is waiting for you at the bottom, and you sure do (seem to) kill him at the end of the fight, followed by saving the world using the plan you've devised, changing the face of it forever. You've resolved the main plot so thoroughly, there's actually a month-long timeskip between that and the last third of the game.
    • Tales of the Tempest - yay, we've defeated the Pope, so humans and Lycanths can get along, right? No, the Pope was being controlled by the king, and we still have a pile of plot twists to get through.
  • The Photosphere in Wild ARMs.
  • The Lava Caves in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Though rather obvious because the time to enter the dungeon comes not too long after a disc change.
    • In Baten Kaitos: Origins, this is done a little more faithfully. After defeating Verus, the party will begin to leave Tarazed when Wiseman shows up and uses Verus's body to turn into a giant griffon-like monster. This may or may not count, however considering it only happens if you went back in time and defeated Wiseman at Atria before fighting the final boss
  • This happens repeatedly in Shadow Hearts Covenant. So you've unsealed Yuri's Amon fusion, defeated Grigori Rasputin/Asmodeus and destroyed Idar Flamme, that means you've saved the world (again), right? Wrong, now Nicholai has fused with Astaroth and wants to destroy it. OK, so you've kicked Nicholai/Astaroth's ass, surely THIS time the world is safe? Wrong again, now Ouka's death has driven Kato over the edge and HE wants to destroy the world too. It was arguably one too many, as Kato made for a pretty unsatisfying end boss.
  • Chrono Trigger has several points like this, particularly the first battle with Magus and the Ocean Palace. The latter is particularly clever, as the main character, Crono, is likely close to getting his final ability, or will get it by or during this dungeon. On the other hand, if you've been Level Grinding like mad or are playing a New Game+, you can win the Unwinnable Boss Battle and end the game.
    • Likewise for its sequel Chrono Cross, which has several points like this, particularly the first battle with Lynx.
  • The Forge of Urath in Summoner.
  • The Trouble Shooters game (Battle Mania in Japan) has a rare fake ending in a non-RPG, where the credits actually start rolling before the villain interrupts them; the real credits appear after the next level.
  • The first Time Crisis game sets up the main villain as Sherudo Garo, a knife-throwing, somewhat effeminate gentleman who has kidnapped the President's daughter. Strangely you do battle with him in only the second act (of three). After killing him, you go to release the captive before realising she is now in the possession of Sherudo's Dragon, Wild Dog, who you battle in the final confrontation.
  • Castlevania:
    • Symphony of the Night uses this with a second Dracula's castle that is basically exactly the same as the first...only inverted.
    • Aria of Sorrow. We fight the reincarnation of Dracula, the day is saved, and then... surprise!
    • Portrait of Ruin. Let's fight Brauner and finish this game off once and for all, okay, he's been defeated, and—did Death just finish him off and reveal that Dracula is back and ready to go?
    • Harmony of Dissonance in a way too; you've filled in almost all of the map, clocking at around 80% coverage... and then Death reveals that there are actually two overlapping castles and you're less than half done exploring them.
  • Rogue Galaxy, where the hero actually announces "This...will be our Final Battle!" before the boss fight against Mother...whoops! Another character gets to say the exact same line a few minutes later, as the three Goldfish Poop Gang villains and their Cool Ship get sucked into a pit of volatile magical lava stuff and emerge as The Demon Battleship.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess does this when you obtain the Fused Shadows, but then Zant comes along and mugs you. So you have to go on another quest to find yet another set of Mirror Shards, so that you can get them back.
    • Something similar happens in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with the spiritual stones and the eponymous ocarina. Now all you've got to do is open the Door of Time and pull out the Master Sword, right? Turns out Ganondorf was counting on you to do just that so that he could waltz right into the Sacred Realm and get his hands on the Triforce. Of course, why would they bother throwing in the Master Sword if you're not going to use it?
    • Also at the end of OoT, you fight Ganondorf and seemingly kill him. It's over, right? Not quite. Ganondorf then tries to destroy the remains of his castle with you in it. But that was easy to escape. But as one final twist, Ganon turns into a huge demon-pig-thing.
    • In Majora's Mask, when you think all you have to do is collect the four masks and stop the moon, you then have to fight Majora.
    • The second assault on Forsaken Fortress in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Complete it and you've saved your sister, but are only halfway through the game and have a Ganon to defeat.
    • Played with in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, as Zelda is going to the same dungeons... Link just keeps missing her several times, but makes eye contact with her twice. And then, at the end Link has destroyed the Imprisoned, Zelda is awakened, and everyone gets a happy reunion... until Ghirahim shows up, incapacitates everyone, kidnaps Zelda, and mocks Groose's hair.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You've collected the three Plot Coupons, retrieved the Sword of Plot Advancement, and stormed the castle. Now all that's left is to defeat this evil wizard guy, but that ends up being the hardest part: Agahnim, during the battle, sends Link to the Dark World, and the latter is told by Sahasrahla that he has to rescue seven maidens there. Up to that point, Link had only completed one third of his quest.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. You've collected the three Plot Coupons, retrieved the Sword of Plot Advancement, and stormed the castle. Now all that's left is to defeat this evil wizard guy, but that ends up being the hardest part: Yuga, during the battle, sends Link to Lorule, and the latter is told by Princess Hilda that he has to rescue seven sages there. Up to that point, Link had only completed one third of his quest. ...Wait a minute...
    • Hyrule Warriors tries really hard to make you think the final battle against Cia is the end of the game. You've already beat Ganondorf, the Triforce of Power is recovered, the heroes all return to their respective eras, and Link, Zelda, and Impa all live Happily Ever After... Until Ganondorf comes back and hijacks the plot anyway. For bonus points, you get to play as Ganon during the aforementioned hijacking.
      • This one is at least foreshadowed: Ganondorf's spirit was split into four pieces, and Cia freed three of them before the game starts. The fourth one is sealed by the Master Sword, but the heroes have Link draw it anyway, because it's the one weapon strong enough to beat Cia. Lana is confident that the magic of the place will hold Ganondorf's spirit in check by itself. Yeah, she was wrong.
  • Star Fox:
    • Star Fox pulls this with both of the Venom Surface levels, where the boss you fought in space returns, goes down in a few hits, only to turn One-Winged Angel.
    • Star Fox Adventures pulls it twice, though the second time isn't that far from the end. The first time, Fox figures that all there is to bringing the planetary chunks back together is... saving the queen's son. Yeah, right. Later, the placing of the four Spellstones does bring the planet back together long enough for him to prematurely declare the mission accomplished, only to find that it's not, and he discovers that those Spirits he's been collecting and releasing are actually important to the mission.
  • In the original Doom, in Episode 2, Mission 6, "Halls of the Damned", you go through a long corridor, up to a room with an "Exit" sign and a switch, that when you throw the switch the floor collapses into a room with a whole bunch of nasties; it was a trick to make you think it's the end of the level.
    • A much better example would be Episode 3's secret level "Warrens": it's an exact copy of the episode's first level, "Hell Keep", right down to weapon and monster placement, except significantly easier as you start with more than just the pistol. When you reach the end of the level, the teleporter doesn't bring you to the stat counter - it drops a bunch of walls, revealing new areas filled with new monsters - such as the Cyberdemon standing directly in front of you.
    • A similar case occurs in E1M6 of Quake where you enter a dark door that looks like an exit, then the room lights up to reveal a Shambler.
    • In Quake IV, your team attempts to disable the Tetranode with an EMP bomb, but a Strogg Harvester destroys it and kills several of your teammates. Then you try to go for the coolant pumps and cause a meltdown, and en route the Makron shows up. You fight him for a bit, then he paralyzes you with his Dark Matter Gun and takes you to the Stroggification assembly line.
  • 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.
    • Don't forget the first game. 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 Jade Empire, you've worked your way up the command chain to discover that, instead of being a puppet controlled by Death's Hand, the Emperor is truly behind everything that's happened. You defeat the Emperor, rescuing Master Li, and then Master Li walks over to you, congratulates you on how far you've come, and kills you with a few well-placed punches, revealing the plot to be a Gambit Roulette. Cue the lengthy final chapter of the game.
  • Pulled off brilliantly in Dragon Quest VIII, with the battle against Dhoulmagus. Even though it obviously can't be the Final Boss fight due to the around half the map remaining unexplored, the game does such a good job of matching the feel of a genuine Final Boss battle (multiple forms, extreme difficulty and all) that that while you're fighting it's easy to forget it's not one. The dungeon you explore to get to him is also creepy enough to give the impression of a final dungeon as well.
    • Dragon Quest III does this as well. After defeating Baramos, returning to the king, and watching a celebration in your honor (this being a common ending theme for DQ games), Zoma suddenly nukes the partygoers and challenges you to come to his world. It's especially effective since your characters are quite powerful by this point, you've (most likely) explored the entire world map, and even have a means of flight. This set up the Dragon Quest tradition of traveling to a Lost World in the final act, though sometimes this is done without a fake final boss.
    • Dragon Quest VII has one as well; it might have been better received had there not been an entire disc of game left.
      • A much smaller example with the Nottagen plot, which pulls this twice. First off it seems you've rescued the town... yet dispelling the gloom blocking out the sun caused a plant monster to wake up and destroy the town again. Then when you save the town from the plant, hellworms invade and destroy the town.
  • In Pokémon Red and Blue, the dragon master Lance is set up as the final boss. He isn't. The true champion is Blue/Green/Gary/ Asshat whatever the heck you named him. In the sequel, both Lance and Blue are set up as the final boss at separate points, with Lance qualifying as a Disc-One Final Boss as well. There is actually NO INDICATION Blue is NOT the final boss until you climb to the top of Mt. Silver, you see "......" on the screen, and you KNOW this is going to be epic. The true champion THIS time is Red, the player character from the original games, with the highest-leveled mons in the entire series. (Red briefly lost the "highest level" crown to the Sinnoh rival in Platinum, but regained the title in the remakes of Gold and Silver.)
    • In Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, Pearl and especially Emerald and Platinum after you beat the game, you have a small island to explore. Also, if you beat the Champion 20 times in D/P/PL, your rival's Pokémon gain multiple levels, in Platinum even if he is the most leveled NPC in any Pokémon.
    • Due to Black & White being a semi-throwback to the original games, you once again defeat the Elite Four, climb the suitably epic ascent to the Champion to find... N (the antagonist) has defeated him with his new uber-dragon. He then raises a GIANT castle, forces you to catch a giant dragon, and fights you. It then happens AGAIN when Ghetsis takes over for the FINAL final boss fight. And then there's the whole rest of the game where you fight the real Champion, Cynthia (champion of Sinnoh) and Shigeki Morimoto, one of the developers. All of whom are much, MUCH stronger than you'll be after you beat the game.
    • Well, Nascour... who's facing "the humiliation of total domination" now, bitch? Hi, Mayor, as you can see, I have the situation under... wait, what?
    • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 does a fair job of averting it, though you do find out you can board the Team Plasma Frigate one more time after you surf over to the P2 Laboratory, and battle Colress again. His Pokémon took a few levels since the last battle, too. (Although the game does have Bonus Bosses up the yin-yang.)
    • Lampshaded in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Technically, the first time you beat the Elite four, you are the champion... and Kukui comes in and mentions that even though the player is the champion, s/he technically has to fight one more person for it to count, thus Professor Kukui becomes the True Final Boss.
    • In Gold And Silver, Team Rocket takes over the Radio Tower in Goldenrod City and kidnaps the director. Upon reaching the top floor, the director is actually a Rocket Executive in disguise. The real director is kept in an underground warehouse in the city.
  • Gears of War does this. At the end of the third act (out of five), you plant the Resonator to map the Locust tunnels. And... it doesn't work. Luckily, the main character's dad has a complete map at his lab.
  • In Half-Life 2: Episode 1, you board a train out of the Citadel, having just completed a puzzle-level worthy of being a finale. You think you're out of the city... and the train is derailed by a very large explosion that catches up with you. You then have to fight your way out of the zombie-infested darkness with Alyx to reach the surface and evacuate with the other refugees.
  • In the Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong, the final world has Mario defeating Donkey Kong in a final battle, with dramatic music playing at the top of the tower...until DK falls off the tower in the cutscene, grows gigantic due to some Super Mushrooms and attempts to finish off Mario once and for all.
    • Similar things happen in the spiritual sequels Mario vs. Donkey Kong.
    • Donkey Kong Country's Final Boss starts playing Fake "Kredits" right before he Turns Red.
    • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: When you arrive at Stronghold Showdown, you'd be expecting a grand battle. However, all you see is Donkey Kong tied up, and you'll get a Kremkoin as if you've already won. Donkey Kong is quickly taken away by Kaptain K. Rool and you're forced to go through one more level until you can take on the Kaptain himself. By the way, the free Kremkoin is only for the original SNES version. In the GBA re-release, you will have to defeat Kerozene before earning that Kremkoin.
    • New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS has a variation of this where you defeat the "final" castle, only for a new path to suddenly reveal itself and lead the way to the true final castle.
    • And New Super Mario Bros. Wii pulls the Donkey Kong gambit with a defeated Bowser suddenly becoming super-sized.
  • Mega Man X Command Mission pulls this off VERY effectively. OK so you defeated the Big Bad who turned out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist. And you've secured the MacGuffin. Time to go home. Wait... What the fu—? Why is our transport shooting at us?!! Our commanding officer turned on us?! WHAAAAAT?!!
  • Mega Man Battle Network 3. Okay, so we've got the super weapon and tracked down the Big Bad and defeated The Dragon...wait, what's Bass doing there? Craaaap.
  • In Mega Man 4-6, you have to go through one castle that has the fake villain. After that, you have to storm over to Dr. Wily's castle to defeat him. Worse in 6, because Mr. X is a poorly disguised Wily and you still need to go through two castles. The Game Boy/World spin-off series (except for V/World 5) does this as well, only in a different way. Just when you think that you're getting close to Dr. Wily, he escapes to his second castle (which is usually in outer space).
  • The World Ends with You. Possibly the most obvious example, because you have yet to understand the roles of just under half of the people on the box when the week ends.
  • Trauma Center does this with Episode 2-9, "Please Let Me Live". You open up the patient, suture a few incisions, and... experienced players restore vitals before they suture the last one. Because when you do, new lacerations burst into view. Meet Kyriaki, the first GUILT virus.
    • That scene may cause shouts of "IT'S A FREAKING PTERODACTYL."
  • At the start of Persona 3, you are told that you have "one year" to save the world. You get told that you can do this by defeating all of the Arcana Shadows. You manage this after seven months. Surely nothing can go wrong now.
    • Persona 3 doubles with Interface Spoiler and Late-Arrival Spoiler in numerous ways: you haven't finished maxing multiple social links (it would be impossible by that point); fusion should reveal personae that are still out of reach due to your level (while the game simultaneously punishes you for grinding, so why are they showing you personae and even a whole new arcana if it's game over?); Tartarus has dead-ended and not all of Elizabeth's 100 requests have appeared; and if you've so much as checked a single strategy guide due to invokedThat One Boss, then you know the game's not over. The game does attempt to mislead you by having two social links max out, suggesting that the endgame has begun, but by the time the "celebration" starts with two crucial characters missing, you should know what's going on. The fact that you're told you have "a year" at the start of the game is another clue that you can't end it all in October. The fact that you were actually building the second castle all this time is when the HSQ goes over 9000.
    • Then this happens a few more times in Persona 4. The first two are easy to see coming (the random guy spying on Rise isn't the real murderer, and Mitsuo was just a copycat). But THEN if you realize that Namatame's Shadow is acting suspiciously and stop the others from throwing him into the TV it still turns out you haven't caught the right guy. And even after you catch the actual culprit, you can only get the True Ending if you invoke this trope during the ending sequence. In fact, this is basically the theme of the game - you're looking for the truth, and if you stop before you've answered every question (in this case, finding out who gave the culprit the powers he used to commit the crimes), you don't deserve the best ending.
  • The fourth case of Touch Detective. You manage to figure out that it's not a murder case, manage to get all the evidence that points to this being true, convince Penelope that it's safe to come out of her room, start watching the credits, and Penelope barges in saying "the case isn't solved yet!". Did you really think that this case was only going to be one part long when all the others are 2 parts?
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. You've nearly finished the Virtuous Mission and just need to get to the extraction point. Then one of your Mission Control characters betrays you and after a long cutscene, the opening credits run. Well, Metal Gear Solid did this with the initial sneaking in, although it was much shorter; and Metal Gear Solid 2 did this with the Tanker mission, although it was significantly longer. They've always been more of a 'pre-credit sequence' than a fake ending, though.
  • In Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, you'll believe you've won the game after defeating Takushiki (the leader of the six gods), as everyone you've helped out in the village thanks you one by one as you exit his dungeon. Only problem with that is Izuna's Grandboss still hasn't returned (in The Stinger, he's shown touching the same sacred crystal that Izuna saw outside the shrine at the beginning of the game), and there's one path leading out of the village that you haven't been able to visit up until that point. This path leads to a forty-floor Final Dungeon.
  • Lampshaded (along with everything else) by Mao in Disgaea 3, where he pulls of his wicked theft of the Hero title from the hapless Almaz, and apparently goes to face the final boss at the end of the first chapter. Disgaea 4 does it so often it becomes a Running Gag, in how episode 7 and everything after it is labeled as the "Final Episode", and the stakes just keep getting raised every single time it appears that the heroes have won. The game doesn't actually end before episode 10, which is aptly labeled as the "Real Final Episode".
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you've defeated Bowser and Kammy after beating Grodus, it must be over right? Not so fast, bucko! It seems that Grodus has survived and has taken Peach to a secret chamber! Things can't get any worse, right? WRONG!!
  • In Breakdown, a game by Namco for the Xbox, once you get to the penultimate boss and beat him, he gets right back up and kills you, placing you in a room you'd probably forgotten about. The twist that follows turns out to be the defining moment of the plot.
  • The Super Mario World hack "Super Mario Infinity" does this about FOUR times over the course of the game. First you're fighting through normal levels, and having to defeat Bowser. After getting through the final world, involving fighting him in every other level, it turns out Big Boo and Kamek were plotting against everyone including Bowser; cue another world with boss battles in every level, and a level with TWO 16 stage Marathon Bosses. After this, it still doesn't end, cue an airship and prison level. Then a Pit of 100 Trials. It's at this point some previously unknown great evil has been plotting to destroy reality, so when that plot point becomes known, there's another world to explore, complete with a 100 floor tower and ANOTHER Marathon Boss. Then you get a star in the box at the top of the screen, which allows you to return to the first level and fight a Bonus Boss... In case that was too lengthy, the ends of these videos show what I mean:
  • Gradius ReBirth, Stage 4. Hey, it's the boss of Stage 1, he's going down! Hey, why won't he die? And why is he charging in my direction and going into the background...oh crap.
  • 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.
  • Razing Storm, Stage 3. So you've sniped off all the Mooks, the Kill Sat has killed the Big Bad, and "Mission complete!" appears on the screen. Wait a minute, that was it? Nope, you now have more Mooks and a boss to deal with.
    • And near the end of Stage 4: One of your comrades, after all the enemies in the area have been destroyed, gloats "Ha ha, total annihilation!" Given that a "WAIT" prompt shows up over this bit of dialogue, this isn't fooling anyone: a few seconds later, the enemy's mothership-like carrier shows up from above.
  • Silent Hill 3 has a self-contained example in the Borley Haunted Mansion. After making her way through a series of nerve-wracking but mostly harmless rooms, Heather comes to a door marked "EXIT", and the narrator pipes up with "There's the exit." She steps through the door, and... "That was supposed to be the exit." Have fun running from the red mist of doom!
  • In an odd variation, some songs in Dance Dance Revolution do this. So, you think the song's over, huh? Well, don't relax yet, there's one last note waiting to ruin your score when you miss it!
  • Space Quest 3 tricked the player like this when you managed to free the Two Guys from Andromeda (the pen name of the game's authors). The game gave you a large chunk of points (used to indicate how many of the puzzles you'd solved) and starts to congratulate you. Then the walls opened up the big, bad, evil guy and his troops are behind them. Your points are docked back off you and the game continues.
  • In the Wii A Boy and His Blob, the final boss comes at the end of the eighth level of the fourth world. Since all the other worlds up to that point had 10—for an advertised 40 main levels—it's clear that things over yet. Suddenly, the very first world gets two extra levels, and you get an 11th-Hour Superpower...
  • BioShock. Your "final confrontation" with Andrew Ryan only leads to discovering that "Atlas" is actually an alias for Frank Fontaine, and that you've been a mind-control Laser Guided Tyke Bomb the whole time. So now it's off to find the antidote for the mind-control and kill Fontaine.
  • Test Chamber 19 is not the end of Portal. Assuming you realize it and can react fast enough. The fact that the demo of the game featured more than half of the test chambers might have been a tip-off.
    • In the sequel, Chell and Wheatley successfully replace GLaDOS's head with Wheatley. Wheatley calls up the escape elevator for Chell, she gets in, and the elevator starts rising. Guess what happens next?
    Wheatley: I can't get over how small you are, but I'm HUGE! *Starts laughing, which turns into evil laughing after a few seconds* Actually... why do we have to leave right now?
  • Scratches: So you finished crafting the sacred totem, you then used it to confront the cursed mask and exorcise the curse from the mansion, your work here is done, let's leave this place... Wait, what's that sound?
  • Happens many times in the Resident Evil and Dino Crisis series. If you are escaping by helicopter, train, or plane, it will get shot down (Dino Crisis, Resident Evil 3, and Resident Evil 4), attacked by mutants (Resident Evil 2), or redirected to the enemy base (Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, and Resident Evil: Revelations).
    • Of them all, Resident Evil 2 easily has the most well-done example. The starting "A" scenario for each character ends with a touching moment on their getaway train followed a cut to black. Playing through the same character's "B" scenario continues past this point with them being interrupted by an ominous jostling of the train, and then comes the real climax and ending.
    • In Resident Evil 4, Damsel in Distress Ashley Graham gets recaptured at least twice.
  • Done twice in Cave Story. The first time's highly obvious; you've been sent to the Sand Zone to stop the Doctor getting his hands on the Red Flowers. Of course, You Are Too Late. You immediately get fed a Climax Boss when the Doctor decides to test out the Red Flowers on Toroko, and then get dumped in the Labyrinth. After slogging through the Labyrinth and picking up exposition along the way, you find the heart of the island, which The Mentor has told you to destroy. You defeat it in battle... only for the Big Bad to show up and save it before it explodes, and then teleport out leaving you in a flooded room with no way out. Crap.
  • Red Dead Redemption: The end of the New Austin missions, Mexico missions, and West Elizabeth missions are all made out to be the end of the game, so when the real ending does come it's quite surprising.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins: The PC arrives at the fortress of Ostagar, meets the king and is told that an epic final battle is on the cards. Sure, thinks the player, who's done less than an hour's play in a BioWare game, final battle, right... Of course the battle is a slaughter due to a betrayal and things get a lot harder.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition: After allying with either the rebel mages or the templars, you close the Breach, supposedly fulfilling the goal of the game. However, it comes off as anticlimactic, and it's obviously too early into the plot for it to be the end. Then Corypheus reveals himself and attacks Haven.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising pulls this. After defeating Medusa, NES-fashioned credits scroll on, the characters relieved that they stopped her once again, then BAM, Hades, the TRUE lord of the Underworld, is revealed to have been behind everything, including the revival of Medusa.
  • In Suikoden V, you kill Gizel Godwin and liberate Sol Falena. But since the game doesn't seem to be ready to end right away, what else could there be? Marscal Godwin stole the Sun Rune, and has fled to a temple where he is going to use it to melt a glacier, flooding the Feitas River. Better go take care of that. It figures that there would have to be a Nintendo Hard boss battle before the end.
    • Suikoden has a liking to do this. Suikoden II has the Hero defeating the Big Bad Luca halfway through the game. Given the time it gets you to reach this point, you might be led to thinking this is the end of the game... but you haven't yet recruited the 107 Stars, have you?
  • In Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu, after you've beaten the first loop, you're given the possibility to go through a second loop. After doing that, you see your Battle Unit returning to its mother ship and flying through the Time Travel Gate while the Credits Song is playing. Cue the warning of an incoming unknown threat. And then suddenly a giant laser beam appears that destroys your mother ship shortly after you managed to escape with your own battle unit. Guess what that was. Right, it's General Longhena, sitting in his Hibachi unit, ready to kick your ass. He will!!!
  • In Advent Rising, you think you've won the game, cue credits, and then another boss fight.
  • Happens in Perfect Dark, after you've blown up the undersea superweapon and saved the world. Time to put on your best dress and meet the President! Whoops, change of plans... time to defend your headquarters against a surprise invasion, get kidnapped, and single-handedly defeat a warlike alien race on its own planet.
  • Happens in World of Warcraft in the Trial of the Crusader raid, where the Lich King crashes your victory ceremony to introduce you to the True Final Boss. An Interface Spoiler, combined with most raid leaders' insistence on a Walkthrough for first-timers, makes it a case of It Was His Sled.
    • In the Twilight Highlands Deathwing engages in personal combat with Alexstrasza which results in the two of them tumbling to the earth. You accompany her son down to where they landed to find a badly wounded Alexstrasza who declares that Deathwing is dead, moments before he rises from where he fell. Fortunately, he is also wounded and retreats before restarting the fight.
  • In Left 4 Dead campaign The Sacrifice, you activate the generators and lower the bridge, allowing you to escape from the undead hordes unscathed...right? Wrong, the bridge stops short and somebody has to restart the generator, sacrificing himself to allow the others to escape.
    • The custom campaign "I Hate Mountains" does this on a somewhat larger scale. The second level is engineered specifically to look like a finale stage: relatively short length, a defensible location chock full of items, and a means of calling for help. But after you summon the helicopter and run all the way from the top of the mansion to the helipad, the zombies crash the chopper. No nice clean endings here!
  • Happens in Baldur's Gate II. You defeat the Big Bad and everything is fine and dandy, right? Wrongo. Because he's got a chunk of your soul inside him he drags you down to hell with him.
  • In the obscure NES game Mendel Palace, after clearing all of the doll houses and 9 of the eponymous palace's levels, you are about to face off with the witch...only for her to whisk you off into another palace in the sky.
  • In Bayonetta - Balder's been killed, Cereza's been taken back to her own time, and Luka's alive, so everything's back to normal, right? Nope! Turns out Balder wanted the older Cereza - Bayonetta herself - to recover her old memories through caring for her younger self, so that she could take her place as the so-called Left Eye of Jubileus herself! But then Jeanne shows up, freed of Balder's mind control, and frees Bayonetta so that she can fight Jubileus, and later helps destroy the god's corpse so it can't still destroy Earth in death.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, you spend the first half of the game tracking down the man who shot you and stole the package you were supposed to deliver to Mr House. But when you finally accomplish this, the brewing conflict between the NCR, Caesar's Legion, House and the mysterious Yes Man comes to a head, and you become caught in the middle of it due to that Platinum Chip you just recovered. Whose side are you on?
  • In Golden Sun, Isaac and friends have finally cornered Saturos and Menardi at the top of Venus Lighthouse and demand the last of the Elemental Stars so the power of Alchemy can be sealed again, along with the hostages. Nope! Saturos gave the Jupiter Star to Felix and sent him ahead with the hostages. Better yet? That's the end of the first game. Damn you, Saturos!
    • The Lost Age pulls one of these on you in the final boss battle with the Doom Dragon. Damage from summons is decided by the size of the foe's hitpoint meter, so most bosses, even Memetic Badass Dullahan, can be taken out by spamming summons all at once. The Doom Dragon is unique for having three forms, each with its own hitpoint meter. Instead of ending the boss battle quickly, a summon rush just kills the weaker first form and begins the far stronger second and third forms, with your party massively debuffed from spending all their Djinn on those summons. Oops!
    • Beat Briggs? Congratulations, you've cleared Piers's name, but now his Black Orb has been stolen by the Kibombo and he's gone to retrieve it.
    • Just made it to the top of any of the Rocks? Nice job, but now you have to go through a whole interior labyrinth about twice as long to complete the level.
    • At the Jupiter Lighthouse, you should make it to the aerie a bit sooner than you'd expect for such a climactic level, but you'll probably have a feeling you're missing some stuff... wait, why is the shaft covered? And then you learn why the lighthouse had those side towers on the world map.
  • In Dragon Slayer, after defeating the dragon, the remaining task of carrying the four crowns it was guarding back to your home should be simple. But it isn't: ghosts immediately scatter the crowns all over the dungeon, and your home is now surrounded by Mook Makers.
  • Even Limbo pulls this off. A decent way through the game, you find yourself emerging from an industrial factory area into a little forest with a treehouse and the girl the protagonist is looking for—but then a Brain Slug hops onto your head and forces you to run the other way. If you get the slug off your head and run back, the treehouse and forest aren't there any more... (and you might have guessed the game wasn't going to end yet if you noticed the chapter archive for the various areas).
  • In Catherine, throughout the entire game Vincent kept being told that the nightmare sequences will last eight days, and after that he will be free if he survives. He was given freedom and the plot seems to be resolved (even if the ending seems to be less than ideal), until the Plot Twist arrives and this time he voluntarily gets the nightmare for one final night which is the final stage.
  • Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood seems to wrap everything up...until you realize there's a fifth chapter. It involves getting killed and wandering around the afterlife which includes several rehashed elements disguised as portals. Naturally, you have to enter the real world, return to your body and face the Big Bad again at the end.
  • Although The Reconstruction doesn't actually wrap everything up when the twist is pulled, it looks like it's on a fast track towards doing so. However, just when it looks like you're about to have some climactic final boss fight and Save the World, Qualstio screams in horror as he finds that the Watchers have all been slaughtered. Also, you failed to stop Donz from activating the pillars, so civilization has been nearly wiped out. So, instead of going along with Fell's advice, the rest of the game revolves around stopping the Big Bad and trying to reconstruct civilization.
  • The first act of WinBack has you attempting to access an express elevator to the Elaborate Underground Base, but one of the bosses blows it up in a last ditch move, forcing you to take a much longer route.
  • After defeating the initial Big Bad in Red Faction II, your CO declares himself dictator, becoming the new Big Bad.
    • In the first Red Faction, the miners' escape shuttle takes off just as you arrive at the docking bay, then immediately gets shot down. "Maybe being slow isn't such a bad thing", says Hendrix.
  • Heavy Weapon pulls one off after you defeat the "final stage". Your tank driver is about to celebrate the defeat of the Red Star forces, but then he gets a transmission showing that the first 9 bosses were a diversion and that the enemy had amassed an army 10 times greater. Cue the first 9 stages again, except with tougher enemies...
  • Braid has this message at the end of every world except for the last one, where it turns out that the princess was running away from you all along. Played with in World 4, where time advances when your character walks towards the right side of the screen, reverses when you walk to the left, and freezes when you stand still, causing the message to end up "Sorry, but the princess is in another... hey, where are you going?"
  • Commander Keen IV requires the player to rescue eight Gnosticene Elders. One level, the Pyramid of the Forbidden, is much more difficult than any other level, and it turns out that the person you rescue at the end is merely a janitor, thus making the level a Bonus Dungeon of sorts. That would have been nice to know beforehand, since the only way back to the main part of the map is to meet said Janitor. Can't sleep, blue guys will fucking melt me...
  • Castle Crashers by The Behemoth occasionally does this. You'll chase down the bad guys dragging the princesses along, and go through several bosses before finally beating the end-level boss to fight for one princess while the others escape to be rescued another level.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): "It looks like the Princess was moved to another location." Really?
    • Sonic Unleashed: "Oh yay, I put all the continents together using the Chaos Emeralds except for one of them! Let's seal that last one-" (Dark Gaia becomes fully powered.) "Aw fu-!"
    • Sonic and the Black Knight, too. Complete with ending credits before it's revealed that the "Princess" has been in another castle all along.
    • Sonic Generations: the goal of Crisis City Act 1 gets stolen under your eyes in the most trollish way possible.
  • Agarest Senki: If you think killing the guy who started the mess was going to be the finish line, you're wrong.
  • In Modern Warfare 2, it looks like Task Force 141, after heavy losses and a mad dash from Makarov's safehouse, are about to secure the intelligence on Makarov which will spell the end of his entire operation. They reach the extraction point, where General Shepherd and a small army of his troops are ready to evacuate them. Then Shepherd shoots Roach and Ghost to cover up what happened, dumps them in a pit, and sets them on fire. The game continues from there, with Price and Soap setting out to hunt down and kill Shepherd.
    • In the mission "Heat" from Modern Warfare 1, you fall back from the advancing Ultranationalists to the planned LZ at the farm, only to find out it's too hot due to SAM's, then you have to push back through the lines to get to the new LZ at the bottom of the hill.
  • In Vigilante, the hero must rescue his girlfriend from a street gang called the "Skinheads". Whenever a boss is fought, the truck holding her captive is right there, but every time the boss is defeated, it drives off, and the hero must continue to the next stage.
  • The Kirby series, on occasion:
    • Kirby's Adventure: All the pieces of the Star Rod have been retrieved and King Dedede's been defeated! Now Kirby will go to the Fountain of Dreams and restore everyone's dreams, and I'll get to see the happy ending! What the? "Level 8"? How can there be a ...? Oh no.
    • Kirby's Return to Dream Land: Kirby and company retrieve the broken parts of the Lor Starcutter in the span of five worlds. Then Magolor takes them to Planet Halcandra, where they must retrieve the Master Crown. Cue Worlds 6 and 7.
      • The same game pulls it yet again. After retrieving the Master Crown from the creature you were meant to destroy, Magolor is revealed to have been evil all along. Cue Gradius-like shooting level and then the REAL final boss.
  • One quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has the player traipsing deep within an undead-infested tomb to retrieve the legendary Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. At the end, you finally reach the coffin itself, to discover nothing more than a note from 'a friend' telling you they've already taken the Horn, and want you to meet them.
    • Later on the main quest you learn the Dragonrend shout to defeat Alduin, find an Elder Scroll to summon him and engage him in an epic battle atop the Throat of the World. Great you just beat him! Oh wait he flew away and it turns out he can only be defeated in Sovngarde.
    • One quest has a kid who was summoning an assassin to kill an evil orphanage director who beats and starves the kids and even refuses to let people adopt them. So despite you aren't an assassin, you decide to kill her anyway, the kids rejoice and the one who issued the quest gives you his most prized possession... quest over right? Actually it turns out that since you weren't an actual assassin, you took a mark that was rightfully theirs and they are pissed. So it's either join their guild or die, or take down the entire guild killing them all. Regardless, joining them starts an entire long chain of quests which ultimately ends with you killing the Emperor of Tamriel himself.
  • No More Heroes: It seems like you're finally the number one assassin; finally defeating everyone else. I guess it's time to use the potty... then before you know it, an assassin busts in and cuts your head off. Unless you get the good ending, where you have to fight your brother.
  • The Steam version of Eversion references this trope with its "The Princess Is In Another Castle" achievement which you get if you complete Stage 7 without getting all the gems, to make clear that this isn't the game's true ending. It might also be a reference to this popular Eversion fanart (link has spoilers).
  • Batman: Arkham City: You've found the MacGuffin!—oh, damn, the Joker stole it. Repeat.
  • One in the second Fantasy Quest game takes the form of the actual princesses being in a different castle.
  • "But is the level over?"
  • This trope is more or less invoked at the end of every level in Word Tower except the last level which is more of a Twist Ending.
  • Streets of Rage 3: You're going to defeat Mr. X and it's only the fifth level! Oh, it was Actually a Doombot and you have to keep going (well the latter isn't surprising). Unless you're playing on the lowest difficulty, in which case you get Easy-Mode Mockery.
  • In the NES Monster in My Pocket game, you defeat Warlock and then watch TV as peace has been restored. Then he shows up again, providing the Victory Fakeout quote.
  • Ghosts 'n Goblins is the quote provider. After defeating the Final Boss it turns out the battle was "a trap devised by Satan". The player is then forced to replay the entire game on a higher difficulty level before finally reaching the true final battle.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals provides an in-game situation where the party think defeating Gades the God of Destruction will end everything until they realize a few years later that there are three more gods to fight.
  • At the end of P.N.03's first mission, Vanessa faces Sonnenblume, but after hitting it a few times, her client deems her not powerful enough and teleports her out. You finally get to destroy it in the third mission.
  • Might and Magic VI pulls this twice in quick succession. For the first half of the game you're trying to speak with the Oracle, which requires the approval of all six lords of the land. After running all their quests, it turns out that one council member is still voting no in defiance of his lord's wishes, and you have to run another quest to expose him as The Mole.
    • Then, after meeting the Oracle, she won't speak to you until after you've run four tough dungeons. (The reason being that the Oracle is actually an ancient supercomputer that has been sabotaged. The four dungeons contain spare parts that you need to repair it.)
  • In the Action 52 game Lollipops, since it is unfinished like most of the other games, you never actually find the princess you're supposed to rescue according to the manual. All of the Magical Mystery Doors in the third level lead back to the first level.
  • In the arcade version of Captain Silver, after apparently defeating the title character, you open the treasure chest, only to read: "Imitation! Go back and find a real one." Then you have go through all the areas again.
  • In the TurboGrafx-16 version of Bloody Wolf, the President is rescued at the end of the fourth stage, but the getaway helicopter has only one seat available. Thus a new challenge is presented to the player: are you a bad enough dude to rescue the guy who saved the President?
  • In Mass Effect 3, the Crucible had been activated, Shepard and Anderson having a view of the Earth and for a moment it seems like the game will soon end. But as it turns out, the Crucible is not activating and Shepard ended up getting taken up an elevator and has to make a final choice out of 3 options that will decide the fate of the galaxy.
  • Played for laughs at the end of Zuma's Revenge when the fake "final boss" dies in one hit, followed by partial fake credits, only for the real boss to reveal that you'd actually just "defeated" his cook. After that you get to fight his "final form," followed by his true final form, followed (and completed) by a dark mirror version of your character.
  • Multiple times in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. The President gets recaptured, your ride gets blown up/shot down, the nuclear football gets stolen and moved several times, and so on.
  • In MechAssault, the Wolf's Dragoons were sent to Helios to disable the Word of Blake's orbital guns so a full invasion can commence. Right after the orbital guns are destroyed, they receive new orders.
  • 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.)
  • In Assassin's Creed II you fight a climatic battle with the Big Bad in Venice. In time all your allies appear to help you. Then, the Big Bad escapes.
  • Veigues: Tactical Gladiator has a cutscene that looks like the ending until a huge battleship starts to rise from the ocean.
  • Killer7 pulls this off at the end of Smile, Part 1. The whole level has various characters building up this chapter as the big climactic finish, and when you finally get to the end of the stage, instead of finding the person you were looking for, you instead find two shadowy figures (Young Harman and Dmitri Nightmare) who just dismissively tell you he's not here and you should go somewhere else.
  • Happened twice in Saints Row. Finally defeated all those pesky gangs and took over the city, what's that? Being blackmailed by the police chief into doing jobs for him? Managed to kill the bastard, nothing left to do but enjoy- huh? The mayor was really responsible and is planning to destroy the Saints? And then the boat trip happens.
    • Again in the sequel but a bit more expected. Destroyed the gangs and reclaimed the city? Time to fight the massive corporation that's been dicking around the entire game.
  • One of the endings of The Stanley Parable uses this trope, where the Narrator finishes a playthrough by resetting the game, but subsequent playthroughs continue toward the actual ending. The ending only comes from the game resetting itself after the Narrator finds out he was being Railroaded into completing this ending. The fact that one Loading Screen reads as "THE END IS NEVER THE END IS NEVER THE END IS NEVER THE END" is fairly prophetic...
  • In Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, things happen in such a way that you can actually declare that you're not going to continue through another castle for the princess, and if you do, the princess won't blame you for that decision. However, if you want the best (and canon) ending, get your castle-breaking equipments, for you're in for a serious ride.
  • ObsCure: The Aftermath combines this with The Stinger, going so far as to actually roll the end credits before the big twist. Just when you think you've beaten the Final Boss and killed the mortifilia outbreak at its source... Professor James reveals himself to be The Mole working for a Greater-Scope Villain and kidnaps the surviving protagonists. Then you find yourself stripped of your weapons and running for your life, before facing the True Final Boss.
  • In The Binding of Isaac, your mother is the main antagonist. So you make it to the deepest level of the Creepy Basement and defeat your mother. Game over, right? Well, no. Then you get to climb down into a deeper level, titled "The Womb", implied to be your mother's body, where you get to kill your mother's heart. Okay, now it's over, right? Nope. Keep going down into Sheol, or the underworld, where you'll fight Satan. Well, that was a suitably epic final boss...that is, if Satan was the final boss at all. Back at the Womb, you can go forward instead of down to enter The Cathedral, where the final boss is...yourself? Wha...? Okay, so you kill...yourself. Mind Screw aside, that HAS to be the final boss, right? Ha ha ha, no. Enter THE CHEST. This nightmare can only end one defeating the "dead" version of you, implied to have committed suicide by suffocation in The Chest. THAT is the very truly final boss.
    • ...And then Rebirth comes along. So, you completed The Chest and vanquished the Blue Baby? Good for you!...Except you're not done yet. Now, Sheol has its own equivalent to The Chest, The Dark Room, where you'll battle The Lamb. So that means you're done, right? Did you notice the large golden door in The Chest and The Dark Room now? You need to unlock it by bombing the statues in the Angel Rooms and taking the halves of the key from the angels guarding them. Once you unlock the door, you'll face the game's ACTUAL actual True Final Boss: Mega Satan. Only when you defeat him will the game be over.
      • ...But then there came Afterbirth which added Greed Mode. But that's more its own thing. What really is the final boss is Hush, the decaying "dead" Isaac that was the final boss of the original game turned into some hideous blue mound of flesh... Or it would be if it wasn't for the fact that the REAL final boss was actually in the Afterbirth+ update in the form of Delirium, some mental abomination that transforms into the various bosses encountered during the current playthrough and is as hard as you'd expect from the constant power usurping. Beating it gives an ending labelled as the "Final Ending" and the game means it.
  • Antichamber: After every gun upgrade, and at some points without gun upgrades, you often go by the exit door. It usually just has a wall with a quote about progress and endings immediately behind it. After playing this straight 4 times however, this is inverted in the very end, where if you try to ignore the exit door like you would before, the other door would lead you to a wall and a quote about how you should move on.
  • FEAR does this constantly, starting from the very first mission where you are sent to assassinate Paxton Fettel, only for him to club you on the head and escape.
  • The Sega Genesis port of Golden Axe has the players defeat Death Adder and rescue the king and princess just like the arcade version. Here, however, the king mentions the fortress Death Adder appears from, leading to another (even harder) level and a showdown against Death Bringer.
  • Dark Souls II interestingly pulls this off with a king of all things. The game is gearing you up for a final showdown against King Vendrick in Drangleic Castle. When you battle your way through his most elite knights and directly into the passage where he's supposedly sequestered himself off from the world, you realize he's not there and has long fled the castle. The next part of the game is the process of chasing him down. And then when you finally find King Vendrick... he's long since gone hollow, reduced to a decayed, near-naked zombie shambling mindlessly around his chamber. While you can fight him if you want to, all you need to do is grab his ring from his pile of discarded equipment and quietly leave, because Vendrick never was the Final Boss.
  • The Fire Emblem series does this frequently. In some games, the game does not continue past the "fake ending" if you haven't collected all the Plot Coupons.
    • Mystery of the Emblem: You've defeated Emperor Hardin! Wait... he was just Brainwashed and Crazy? And Gharnef is still out there, planning to resurrect Medeus again? Oh, Crap!. (In the remake, the leader of the assassins working for Gharnef is still at large too, further hinting that you can't be done yet)
    • Genealogy of the Holy War: An extremely cruel example. You've defeated both of the corrupt nobles plotting to seize power, Arvis even turned on them and helped you defeat the last one! And the stage is set for Sigurd's triumphant homecoming... wait, did Arvis just sentence Sigurd to death for treason? And are those mages preparing to execute your entire party?! Guess their descendants will have to fix things after a Time Skip...
    • The Binding Blade: You've defeated the Big Bad... but his literal Dragon is still out there, and is continuing with his plan to "free the world" because Undying Loyalty is basically hardwired into her. And she's not really evil after all, and Roy might know a way to save her...
    • The Blazing Blade: Eliwood finally gets to the Dread Isle to save his father... just in time for him to die in his arms. At which point you find out there's a greater plot involving the Big Bad that you have to stop.
    • The Sacred Stones: Ephriam's route only. You get to the capital of The Empire and kill the emperor... except he was just a reanimated corpse all along, and his son Prince Lyon is the real Big Bad.
    • Path of Radiance: An interesting example because it only counts In-Universe. Ike's army reaches the incredibly ominous looking Daein Keep and prepares for the final battle with King Ashnard. All the characters in-story think this is the end... but the player knows that Ashnard has long since left the castle. Ike doesn't even find out until you have him move into the throne room and not find Ashnard there like he expects, while as a player you can clearly see the chapter's boss is someone else entirely the moment you begin the battle. The chapter is even titled "Without a King".
    • Radiant Dawn itself makes the ending of Path of Radiance one. You thought defeating Ashnard would prevent the Dark God being released from the medallion? That was only the beginning... and later in Radiant Dawn the supposed Dark God is released... and it turns out things are a lot more complicated than they seem.
    • Awakening: You've stopped Validar's plans to revive the Fell Dragon Grima, and averted Chrom's fated death! Hey, remember that Hierophant you were introduced to 10 chapters ago? Turns out that's Grima from the future, and he revives his past self and teams up with him. Oh, Crap!.
    • Fates: Conquest: You've finally put down the Big Bad Garon, and everything's going to be OK! You've saved Nohr and Hosh— [twang, as an arrow of pure darkness passes inches away from your head] ...Uh, oh... Takumi's back, he's possessed, and he's madder then ever! Cue Final Boss battle.
  • At the end of Shockwave: Operation Jumpgate, the Omaha has successfully pushed the invading aliens out of the Sol System and back through the eponymous jumpgate. All seems well until the last thirty seconds or so of the ending cutscene: The Omaha's commander, believing the jumpgate's existence to be too great a risk, decides to disobey her orders and destroy it. The Omaha gets a single shot off before the jumpgate's automated defenses retaliate, blasting the Omaha to hell and back, causing it to fall through the gate itself to parts unknown. This is picked up on in Shockwave 2.
  • The heroes of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch believe that they have defeated the Big Bad and brought peace to the land, only to learn that they had only taken out The Dragon and that the true Woman Behind The Man has moved up her plans for global destruction. In this case the trope is applicable only in-Universe to the characters; cutscenes throughout the game showed The Dragon meeting with the actual Big Bad (the eponymous White Witch, whose presence is also essentially given away by the game's title) so players knew that the in-game celebrations were premature. Then the game goes and plays it completely straight at the end: after talking the actual Big Bad into a Heel–Face Turn, her "council" — previously revealed to be a projection of her own mind — reveals itself to have somehow developed its own independent and malevolent will, leading to the final battle.
  • In Max Payne 3's first chapter, you rescue Rodrigo and his Trophy Wife Fabiana, only for the latter to be captured again in the second chapter and taken away to several more "castles", before ultimately being Stuffed into the Fridge.
  • Near the end of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, you've disabled seemingly all the ND133 virus bombs and captured Big Bad Suhadi Sadono, but The Dragon, Norman Soth, has escaped with the last "pox box" and is preparing to detonate it at LAX.
  • At the end of the arcade version of Astyanax, after defeating the Big Bad, you have to infiltrate a Xenomorph-style alien hive and take out their queen, who is the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Wonder Boy normally ends at Area 7, unless you collected all the Dolls, where upon you go to Area 8 and the True Final Boss.
  • Street Fighter II The World Warrior surprises first time players by introducing three (non-playable) bosses to the world map after the first seven matches against the regular roster. The last of which is Sagat, the final boss of the original Street Fighter and the presumed final boss of the sequel. Upon defeating him however (no easy task), the game returns to the map screen and another boss appears: M.Bison. This is averted in later updates where the bosses are playable and the sequence which introduces them is skipped.
  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, you're told that Team Crystal is the final challenge in Tournament mode... But there's one more: the Arc Stars, which is an exhibition of the company's best known characters.
  • In The Flame In The Flood, you finally make it to the "evacuation site" at Angel Yards, though Scout nearly drowns in the process. It turns out A.N.G.E.L. Yard is a space center, and the only rocket left is long out of commission. Scout's only option left is to keep going down river and hope she makes it to "the Kingdom".
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, the titular characters manage to rescue Tooty from Gruntilda upon clearing her game, although Gruntilda escapes. With Tooty rescued, everyone decides to go back to Banjo's house and throw a party, with a number of side characters thanking you. However, during the party, Tooty barges in and admonishes everyone for celebrating when Gruntilda hasn't been punished for what she did. You'll end up back inside Gruntilda's Lair with the new mission to reach the top and defeat her once and for all.
  • A minor version of this crops up early in the Hell Dimensions arc of The Secret World. Basically, after spending an action mission trying to stop the demonic invasion of Earth from progressing beyond its beachhead, followed by an investigation mission spent trying to find out what happened to Theodore Wicker, players finally get a Dungeon: they have to venture into Hell itself in a desperate attempt to end the invasion at its source and rescue Wicker - who is actually being used as a Living Battery for the demonic army's portals. For good measure, you're led through the Dungeon by a female voice claiming to be a Damsel in Distress allied with Wicker. After a long uphill slog, players finally reach Wicker and unplug him from the machine, with the expectation that the invasion will be over and their target can now go home to all the factions that have been trying to recruit him for the last few decades... only to discover that Wicker doesn't want to leave: now a Demon of Human Origin, he wants to start a revolution among the demons and restore Hell to greatness - and guess who has to help him out over the next few dungeons before this arc's finished? As if to add insult to injury, the voice that's been leading you through Hell is revealed to be Saccharissa, a succubus in Wicker's service, who actually has the gall to taunt you by remarking "Your princess is in another castle!"
  • In Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll, after winning the World Tournament and defeating Dargon, the leader of the Tusk Soldiers, you're told by your Old Master Juan that the Dargon you just defeated was a fake. You then have to play through all of the stages (except for the fighting tutorial) all over again and look for four crystals hidden in statues in the platforming stages to complete the Mandara Talisman and defeat the real Dargon once and for all.
  • In the Christmas Episode of The Darkside Detective, after the Krampus has been defeated and Santa rescued, the "Case Closed" caption appears and the usual outro music plays — and then there's a shout for help from offscreen, and there turns out to be one more puzzle to solve.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4: You reach the enemy capital, resolve the situation with the Fantastic Nuke, and even exchange some civil words with old enemies. Then a giant submarine appears out of nowhere, and you have to defeat it. Then the sub spawns an amphibious tank, and you have to defeat that.
    Marie: You're cleared for deployment, Squad E. Please, let's end this once and for all.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The visit to Meridian. Ryder and squad fight their way through hordes of kett, along with the Big Bad's main henchwoman, learn a few shocking facts, and find... they're not actually at Meridian, they're just at the control hub. The real Meridian is A: Much bigger, and B: Missing, thanks to its creators suffering a case of "Oh, Crap! Let's get out of here!" After a quest of figuring out where it's gotten to, it looks like everything's going to work out... only for the Archon to suddenly steal the Hyperion, SAM, and Ryder's sibling, and nearly kill Ryder in the process.
  • LEGOMarvelAvengers: One quest in Asgard has the player solve a puzzle to unlock Laufey. Just as they do it, the actual Laufey rushes in and nicks his own character token, requiring the player to pummel him a bit so they can get it for real.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Hooray! You defeated Galeem, the Big Bad of Adventure Mode. Surely, the heroes now stand triumphant- Wait a minute, is that a goddamn crack in the sky?
  • A very frequent trope in Uncharted, where Nate will sacrifice life and limb to get to the end of an ancient ruin where the reward might be... only to discover another crumb in the trail, or that it was never there (maybe even moved), and almost certainly means he has to go to yet another far away locale. It's especially prevalent when the characters wind up in the actual city the reward is stowed in, but then practically turn it upside-down in the process of finding it. This trope is especially frequent in the third and fourth games, where the folly of doing this is a central theme of the plot and, in the latter's case, the backstory too.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • This Collar 6 strip.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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 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 Sat AM, "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.
  • 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).
  • 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 they go to the underground bunker, the Fire Lord's chamber, surprise! He still isn't there. Zuko finds and confronts him, though.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • The season two 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 in the middle of nowhere thousands of years ago. So SpongeBob and Patrick free him to reunite him with his father. It turned out, he was locked away for a reason and Neptune was actually depressed because of traumatic memories of having to seal away his evil son, which SpongeBob did not know until it was too late. Cue Triton causing destruction throughout Bikini Bottom.
  • In Class of the Titans, the heroes actually defeat Chronos at least twice, but he always escapes before he can get thrown back into Tartarus.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Real Life 
  • When Napoleon 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 Catch-Phrase 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.

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