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But some aren't that lucky. Sometimes the show's creator or the company that owns the character has to go elsewhere to continue the story. Sometimes that means "downgrading" to comics or novels. Sometimes they can wrangle straight-to-DVD movies. And sometimes - oh so rarely - they get a shot at the big screen.
Whatever the reason, it means the poor schmucks at home have to peel themselves off their couches and - horrors! - leave their houses.
Contrast Post Script Season, Uncanceled. See also All There in the Manual. If it's intentional, then there's No Ending. If it's a made-for-TV movie or miniseries, see Wrap It Up. Contrast Expanded Universe, where a show that did get a resolution is continued in other media anyway.
Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Because Gainax ran out of money, the original series had an ending that resolved virtually nothing. Eventually, a more definitive ending was released in movie form, as "End of Evangelion".
- Martian Successor Nadesico's story was meant to be concluded in a sequence of novels and a trilogy of movies. However, due to unknown disagreements among the people involved in the production, the audience was still Left Hanging. There were a few supplementary materials (two video games and the Gekiganger 3 OVA) that did at least wrap up the main story of the show. However, few outside of Japan have ever seen the video games - most annoyingly, the second one, which was supposed to conclude the series once and for all.
- Though each individual series in the UC continuity of Mobile Suit Gundam was fairly self-contained, the story of the original characters got a final wrap-up in The Movie Chars Counterattack.
- The 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist was concluded by the movie Conqueror of Shamballa, which wraps up many of the plot threads left dangling by the series.
- The same director did the same trick with Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
- ~Wolf's Rain~ ended inconclusively after 26 episodes. The story was concluded by 4 OVA episodes, which bring closure to the plot. Unfortunately some networks (like the UK's Anime Central) omit the OVA episodes from the show's run and leave the story hanging.
- The Big Bad of Dancougar was finally defeated in the OAV Reqiuem for Victims.
- .hack//Roots is an interesting example of this, in that its 26 episode run was intended as a lead-in to the three part .hack//G.U. video game series from the very beginning. Unless you were already intending to play the games to begin with, the anime's Sequel Hook, Reset Button ending might leave you wondering where the heck the resolution was...
- The anime adaptation of Star Ocean the Second Story, Star Ocean EX, ended at what was half-point of the game's scenario when Claude, Rena and co leave Expel and go to Energy Nede. The second half of the story , the Energy Nede saga, was completed, but in a series of Drama CDs instead of an anime.
- The anime adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin was actually canceled due to how low the quality of the Filler arcs had became. Shougo was good, Daigoro was all right, Black Knights was bland, and Feng Shui was the reason the show was canceled, what with the hard-to-follow plot, boring characters, almost no action, and random events. Because of this, the last arc of the manga was adapted as an OVA.
- ...which didn't even adapt that right either, instead going in its own direction from the manga.
- Studio Shaft couldn't get airtime for the last three episodes of Bakemonogatari, so they were released as a webcast.
- Airmaster introduces the Fukamichi Ranking about halfway through the show's run, and shows Maki competing against several Ranked fighters... until the last episode, where she runs into an abandoned building to fight some amazingly strange (even for this show) numbered white bald guy, which she does, and then goes home to her friends. This is never explained, despite the overall weightier implications of the lead-up to the fight, and isn't that different from all the OTHER fights with weirdoes Maki gets into. It's possible to watch that episode and not know it's the last one until the end credits.
- A combination of bad pacing, being close to overtaking the manga and low ratings ensured that the anime version of Rave Master would not be able to continue its story on the small screen. The last episode doesn't even give an Gecko Ending, it just ends right after the new Big Bad reveals himself.
- A semi-example with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. While the Twelve Episode Anime finished as intended, the sequel will not be televised as Word of God says it wasn't long enough to be a complete second season. Instead it will be released as The Movie - after a pair of Compilation Movies re-telling the anime.
- Although the show ran its intended course and ended no sooner than planned, Joss Whedon has continued the adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the Season Eight comics, which follow on directly from the end of the TV series, as well as an Angel Season Six comic, which does likewise, not to mention a thread-tying series for Firefly. The Dr. Horrible comics thus far have been purely character studies.
- Dollhouse is getting an interesting version of this: although the series finale "Epitaph Two" resolved pretty much everything, a comic series is being put out called Dollhouse: Epitaphs which takes place before it, just as it becomes After the End, and it shows what happens to several characters that we never see again in the series (like Ivy). We already know how everything ends, but now we can see how it got there.
- Gargoyles, after several years of limbo, had been restarted with original creator input in the form of a comic book. This ignores the third season of the animated show, except for the first episode, which it retells. Licensing fees eventually led to it being left unfinished.
- Star Trek has Season 4, a direct continuation of the original series. The first issue, in fact, picks up immediately after the last televised episode with them transferring the (imprisoned) antagonist to another ship.
- Irony time: The Legion of Super Heroes cartoon example
abovebelow was to have the story of the third season told in the (cumbersome-named) comic book tie-in Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, which was itself canceled a few months after the show (the 20th and last issue was in November 2008).
- The final Middleman graphic novel acted as a season finale for the canceled TV series, being set in the continuity of the show rather than the previous graphic novels. Just to make things complicated, the previous (pre-TV) run of comics ended on a massive cliffhanger, which has itself never been resolved.
- Jericho had a season 3 comic book.
- Pushing Daisies received a comic book series in early 2011.
- The Ori plot in Stargate SG-1 was resolved in the direct to video movie The Ark of Truth, and Continuum dealt with Ba'al, tying up the biggest non-Atlantis-related loose threads.
- Dead Like Me had a Direct to DVD film that tied up some of the lingering plot threads.
- Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade was the true finale to Recess (The first movie was, but then the show was renewed), released two years after the show ended (thanks to Disney's 65 episode limit)
- Although it was originally intended to be the start of a movie franchise, Serenity did a good job of wrapping up one of the larger plot threads from the Firefly TV show--at least, as good a job as one can do when one has to introduce, elaborate and wrap up a plot element that was originally supposed to take several seasons.
- Similarly, Fire Walk With Me was a film which was originally supposed to tie up the canceled Twin Peaks series. But this being a David Lynch flick it actually just raised about a million more questions.
- Police Squad! was canceled after just six episodes, but made millions in the cinema in the form of the Naked Gun trilogy.
- While the first Star Trek movie wasn't intended to wrap up the Original Series storyline, later movies did eventually finish it pretty much conclusively, particularly Generations.
- Kamen Rider Decade is a rare deliberate example of this trope, with the Grand Finale being a movie so that Toei could make way for Kamen Rider Double.
- Recess: School's Out was made to be a theatrical finale to Recess before being Un Cancelled.
- The New Adventures series of books directly followed on from Doctor Who's cancellation in 1989, continuing the adventures of the Seventh Doctor (the last to be seen on TV until the TV movie in 1996) and his companion Ace. (They also introduced several new companions, one of whom received her own continuing Spin-Off series.) It subsequently gained a sister series of "Missing Adventures" revisiting earlier Doctors and companions. The BBC would eventually pick up the series after the TV Movie, publishing the adventures of the 8th Doctor and his companions.
- Dark Angel's follow-up novels.
- Space: 1999 had a wrap-up released in 1999, "Message from Moonbase Alpha". Although fan-made, it had the involvement of one of the original scriptwriters and had Zienia Merton reprise her role as Sandra Benes.
- Heroes season four (Volume Five) ended with a shocking turn and the promise of another volume titled Brave New World which would've focused on norms learning about the specials and how the world dealt with it. However, the show wasn't picked up for another season. There were talks of doing a wrap-up miniseries (somewhere between 6 and 13 episodes long) but, as of yet, that hasn't happened.
- The series finale of "ALF" sees ALF about to be rescued by survivors of his home planet, Melmac. ALF is then captured by the Alien Task Force. The original airing actually even ended with a "To Be Continued." ALF was subsequently canceled, and the result was never seen. Years later, a TV Movie "Project ALF" was aired in an effort to tie things up.
- It doesn't tie up much, though, spending most of the film having a crazy general find and kill Alf because his mother claimed to have been abducted by aliens. No other Melmacian is shown or mentioned. The Tanners are briefly mentioned to have been relocated and placed under witness protection.
- The K Street season finale ends just as a character is about to explain the whole metaplot. There was no season 2.
- As well as books, a number of Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish were made with the original casts during and after the show's hiatus (though their contract with the BBC forbids them from making any play based on the new series). Many of these were broadcast on BBC radio.
- Abstract Gender finally laid down and died despite multiple attempts by the author to revive it. He was originally going to create a second webcomic that would feature older versions of the characters and wrap up the various story lines, but it never happened. He was then going to just post the remaining scripts but stopped part way through the last chapter when life got in the way.
- Avalon ended three years of Schedule Slip with a synoptic prose epilogue.
- Chainmail Bikini was finished up with a prose outline after it was discontinued.
- The Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon had its unproduced final episode script released to the internet; it was later performed as a "radio play" on the series DVD set.
- And no, it's not the script passed around on the Internet where they found out they were dead and the world of Dungeons & Dragons is the afterlife.
- Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors had a movie planned to tie off the series. Never happened.
- Samurai Jack has had a feature film in Development Hell for some time since the show ended in 2004. The film was eventually cancelled, but a 5th season finally aired on Cartoon Network in 2017 to tie up all the loose ends and bring a proper conclusion to the series.
- And ditto with Hey Arnold. The reason that the film was never made is detailed here. Arnold differs from the two previous examples (and is a bit of an inversion) in that the planned movie was to resolve a relatively small aspect of the plot, Arnold's Parental Abandonment (and just what his last name is, anyway), and the last produced episode was intended as a lead-in into the movie what with Arnold finding a map of where his parents last went and all. Concept art, anyone? The trope was finally reversed in 2017 with the televised release of The Jungle Movie, much to the delight of fans.
- Winx Club actually got to make their movie and wrap up some outstanding plot lines after season 3. Thanks to its Cash Cow Franchise status, though, that movie didn't exactly end up being the end.
- Until the short-lived comic was made, the only way Gargoyles fans found out "what really happened" in the Gargoyles universe after Disney canceled the show was from series creator Greg Weisman himself via the website Station 8.
- Re Boot is now like this, having been canceled at a cliffhanger in 2001 before finally coming back in 2008 in webcomic form. Depending on how things turn out, though, this could prompt a full-out revival.
- With the death of Megabyte voice actor Tony Jay, it's not looking good though.
- The last episode of Dragon Booster promises that the adventures of Artha and Moordryd (and everyone else) will continue in Dragon Booster: Academy, which would also presumably wrap up loose ends such as Moordryd's betrayal of his father and Armageddon. The new series never appeared, so the producers gave a major DB fansite an overview of the Academy. It's more of a "this is how the Academy works", rather than "this is what happens to Artha and Moordryd at the Academy", though.
- Legion of Super Heroes was canceled after two seasons when 4Kids took over its airing block in 2008. It even had a fairly archetypal Season Finale Sequel Hook of the "villain's hand claws its way up from the bottomless pit" variety. As for the potential comics spin-off, see
- Sonic the Hedgehog ended its second season with the apparent resolution of the plot: Robotnik had been defeated, and the Doomsday Machine was destroyed. The Stinger, however, showed his flunky Snively giving an "it's my turn now"-type speech while a pair of ominous glowing eyes shone behind him. We never found out whose, until the writers were interviewed years later. The Archie Comics series attempted to fuse the series' plot with its own ongoing keep-up-with-the-games canon.
- If anyone's interested, the eyes belonged to Ixis Naugus.
- After Traveler was canceled, the series' creator posted the outline of the rest of the story in his blog.
- Blood Rayne 2 ended showing all the signs of being the second part of a Two-Part Trilogy, the required cliffhanger being the gathering of antagonistic factions for The End of the World as We Know It. There have been two movies, and a third currently filming, but they are by Uwe Boll, and therefore have been driven into Fanon Discontinuity.