Aborted Arc

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"It's like the writers were just looking for little subplots to fill up the script, and when they got bored of it, they just abandoned it and moved on to something else."
Chris Stuckmann on The Amazing Spider-Man's Uncle Ben revenge subplot, from his review of the film.

When An Arc disappears off the face of the storyline without warning, never to be heard from again.

For a long while viewers will likely be under the impression that the disappeared major Plot Point will pop up any minute now—an impression which will eventually give way to a dawning comprehension that the story has moved on, none of the factors that made this plot point important matter any more and it would be just ridiculous for someone to suddenly recall the whole thing now, after all this time.

Why did this happen? It's anyone's guess, most of the time. Maybe the fans complained. Maybe a crucial cast member quit the show. Maybe the powers that be didn't like it. Maybe the writers just realized it was a lousy idea. Maybe They Just Didn't Care. This weighs rather heavily on the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but sometimes the best way to execute an Author's Saving Throw and get rid of an element that isn't doing the story any favors is to just pretend it never happened.

Mainly a series trope; writers will usually avoid this if they can, and you can always go back and edit a stand-alone work before publishing, unless the deadline is really pressing. At best, it's a gross violation of The Law of Conservation of Detail; at worst, this is done for no reason whatsoever and rends the plot asunder to create a fresh new Plot Hole.

Cases where there is a resolution eventually, no matter how trite or sudden, aren't this trope—though really bad cases of Four Lines, All Waiting or Out of Focus usually end up emulating the effects for all intents and purposes; when the plot point does get brought out of cryogenic suspension, fans have long since lost all hope for it or interest in it.

Compare with: What Could Have Been, Kudzu Plot, The Chris Carter Effect, Creator Breakdown, Franchise Killer, What Happened to the Mouse?, and They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. See also: Dummied Out, Left Hanging, Cut Short and The Resolution Will Not Be Televised.

Examples of Aborted Arc include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The manga based on the Galaxy Angel gameverse starts up a Mint storyline... but then drops it to focus on Ranpha and Milfie, not even ending Mint's plot.
  • In the Pokémon anime, the GS Ball was a MacGuffin that loosely guided the overall plot for about a season and a half, spanning 60 episodes. A Poké Ball that nobody could open, Ash was supposed to give the GS ball to Kurt, the leading Pokéball expert, in order to discover whatever secrets the ball held. After giving the ball to Kurt, however, neither the GS Ball nor its contents were ever brought up again. The GS Ball was supposed to hold Celebi, a legendary Nature Spirit Pokémon, that would be the focus of the next arc, but the writers later decided to give Celebi a starring role in a movie, hoping that viewers would eventually forget about the GS Ball. They didn't, and haven't.
    • In the Best Wishes iteration of the anime, we have a case of an aborted conclusion to a near-finished arc. The subplot with Team Rocket and the "Meteonite", a space rock with special destructive powers, is built up for several episodes and just as the epic two-part conclusion to this subplot is about to air, an earthquake devastates Japan and the episodes are pulled from rotation. It has yet to be seen when the episodes will air, but as it stands, the storyline just abruptly stops.
      • The worse part? Those 2 episodes were the debut of Team Plasma! Ash is on his 7th gym badge as of the current Japanese airing. It may look like Team Plasma will be absent from the anime altogether. In terms of current storylines, the only two things that even come close are the Don tournaments and pretty much what Ash does in every canon region.
        • There are hints that the Meteonite arc will be recycled (if not give it once was) in Best Wishes 2, which will feature Team Rocket and Giovanni once again. The GS Ball - or at least, the plot involving Celebi travelling with Ash - is to be reimagined with Meloetta travelling with Ash and Co. (which certainly explains her reputed presence in the Pikachu Short for Movie 15). Talk about Arc Welding...
  • The Mahou Sensei Negima manga was going to have a brief sub-arc during Mahorafest featuring Zazie and the Nightmare Circus event, but it was cut because Mahorafest was getting really long as it was (at the time, roughly half the manga). It's implied that Negi did go to the circus, but we never actually get to see it, thus making the series' most enigmatic character even more enigmatic.
  • In the Ranma ½ manga, Ranma's attempts to conceal his curse are quietly dropped in the middle of the "Full-body Cat's Tongue" arc and the story goes from no-one at school knowing about his curse to everyone (except Kuno, of course) knowing about it with hardly a ripple or comment from anybody, signaling a general shift from dramatic arcs to episodic comedy.
  • The penultimate chapter of School Rumble throws both major shipping factions a bone by having Harima suddenly get (pretend) engaged to Eri but move in with Yakumo. The final chapter mentions none of this, instead going with a time skip and an infamous "pie end" that resets what little development Harima had managed to obtain.
  • A famous example: Dagomon and the Dark Ocean from the second season of Digimon Adventure 02.
  • Code Geass lost a couple of important story elements thanks to the time slot shift for the second season and the Retool intended to prevent a Continuity Lock Out on new fans. This includes an explanation for Suzaku's superhuman abilities (and any possible connection to the Geass) and the possibility of finally revealing C.C.'s name. And yes, the fans were upset.
  • Pokémon:
    • Judging by the presence of a volume number, it would seem that Phantom Thief Pokémon 7 was intended to have a sequel, but it's been a few years and there hasn't been any sign of another volume. The series even ends with a continue page. Judging from the authors previous problems with publishing, it may just be going through Development Hell.
    • Similarly Pokémon Golden Boys ended abruptly after three volumes. It didn't finish the Johto arc and despite numerous references to Red we never see him.
  • Kurohime seems to be made entirely of these.
  • Inu Yasha seemed to be going somewhere with mysterious demon parasites, especially since the Big Bad was interested in them, but then a bunch were found dead and nothing more was said of them.
  • This is a major complaint by fans of Bleach.
    • Orihime decided to use her powers to erase the Hogyouku from existence. This was never heard from again.
    • There were evidently insinuations that Orihime was modified by Aizen, which was never explored.
    • A huge chunk of characters and plot points are left unresolved at the end of the Arrancar saga. Either they will be expanded at a later point, or never brought up again. At best, we'll see what happened to them in the next characters' databook.
    • The backstory of Ginjou and Tsukishima.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Cerebus the Aardvark: This occurred at least once in an early story arc where Cerebus and a band of mercenaries capture a commander named Krull as part of an elaborate military campaign. A later story even depicts them having difficulty keeping Krull imprisoned; seeming to foreshadow an upcoming conflict or complication. However, the author suddenly and unceremoniously dumps the story line, ultimately having it resolve itself offscreen. Not only that, it is never mentioned how (or even if) Krull affected the campaign's outcome.
  • A constant problem in DC and Marvel Comics of the last few years, especially in series about second- or third-division characters, as character or plot arcs are constantly derailed by massive Crossover events. A lampshade was hung on it in the penultimate issue of Dan Slott's She Hulk run, in which the characters were forced under threat of death to give the reader a high speed run-through of how all the arcs were intended to have worked out, before being interrupted by the Civil War and World War Hulk crossover events.
  • Green Lantern
    • Hal Jordan met a rogue Lantern named Malvolio, who used a Batman Gambit to get Hal to replace his own ring with Malvolio's and leave. What this was supposed to accomplish was never followed up on, though many fans pointed to it later as a way to press the Reset Button on Hal's badly done Face Heel Turn. (In the end, the Button was pressed a different way.)
    • Another example is Gerard Jones' characterization of the Guardians of the Universe. Throughout his 45 issues on the book, Jones planted many clues that related to his plans for the Guardians. When Executive Meddling changed the plans, many of the odd behaviors of the Guardians (and characters' observations of same) were left dangling and unresolved.
  • For readers versed in Golden Age superheroes, it is almost obvious that supporting character Mary Kramer from Stars and STRIPE was intended to be the new Merry the Gimmick Girl. She had a similar name (Mary Kramer vs. Merry Creamer), had red hair and was good with technology. She was even seen looking into a box with Merry's costume. This never happened, however, since Stars and STRIPE was canceled and the Star-Spangled Kid moved to Geoff Johns' other book, JSA (where she eventually became Stargirl). Perhaps the fact that the original Gimmick Girl is one of the few living Golden Age heroes also factored into the process. Gimmick Girl later turned up again in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series.
    • The Seven Soldiers also featured Gimmix, a relative of the original Merry who used a hilariously low-budget version of the identity, but still didn't follow up on Mary Kramer.
  • Elf Quest
    • Several storylines used to be published in an anthology title from 1996 to '99. Future Quest, taking place some 900 years after most other stories, was put on hold indefinitely to avoid spoilers for other planned stories. Then the anthology was discontinued for financial reasons. Wolfrider wrapped up neatly in the trade paperback. Mender's Tale and Wavedancers had additional chapters been made available online in 2008, partly in script- or unfinished form; Wavedancers still has no conclusion.
    • Similarly, the Summer Special Recognition was meant as a teaser for a new trade paperback, but then DC Comics bought the publishing rights for Elfquest, and did not want to pick that title up. Additional parts are available online now, but there is no conclusion yet.
  • X-Men: The End, was an attempt to bring each and every one of the seemingly hundreds of aborted arcs introduced over the decades. So the Arc to End all Aborted Arcs itself was aborted.
  • In the Doctor Who spin-off comics a lengthy planned character arc for Dark Action Girl turned companion Destrii was dropped when the TV show was revived, and it was decided that the Ninth Doctor comic strips would be tied strictly into the TV continuity.
  • In 2010, the Transformers Collector's Club dropped their "Nexus Prime" plotline which had been running for about five years across various continuities, after Hasbro themselves took charge of stories regarding the thirteen original Transformers.
  • In The Death of Superman arc, Doomsday was originally supposed to be an escapee from an intergalactic insane asylum. You can see hints of this origin in his first few panels, where he commits random acts of violence with maniacal laughter drawn in. When mental health advocates caught wind of this and protested the treatment of the mentally ill as dangerous lunatics,[1] this explanation was dropped and Doomsday was treated as a Diabolus Ex Nihilo. He was later given an origin as a Kryptonian-created juggernaut.
  • As a Long Runner, Sonic the Hedgehog gets this a lot, but two memorable aborted arcs include the mystery of Tails' destiny as the "Chosen One" (a prophecy of him being a bigger hero than Sonic or Knuckles combined that faltered several times, due to arguments over exactly what that was supposed to mean), and the Eggman-backed Dingo invasion of the Echindas' homeland (which petered out when the story shifted to an equally-aborted arc regarding a civil war in the Dark Legion). Both stories were hyped up something fierce, but disappeared so quickly and completely that even the writers have no idea how exactly they were supposed to end. Tails' "Chosen One" destiny was resolved either when he stopped Mammoth Mogul from destroying The Multiverse or when he was used by A.D.A.M. to gather all the Chaos Emeralds in the galaxy in one place and fuse them together. And the Dingo invasion/Dark Legion civil war stories were interconnected (as the latter allowed the former to gain more ground), and were both brought to an end when Knuckles was tricked into becoming Enerjak.
  • In 52 the original Booster Gold/Skeets arc involved the duo fixing the time-stream after it had been damaged during the Infinite Crisis. Several issues into the series, after Skeets had already noticed discrepancies between events as they happened and as they were recorded in the future, the writers decided that this plot was overused and too generic. They switched to a new malevolent threat that intended to manipulate time and reality for its own gain and this leads to the return of Mr. Mind, who had appeared in the early issues.
  • Happened entirely too often with Rob Liefeld's creator-owned work. Most quarter bins will have issues from series that never went past the first couple of issues, set-ups for crossovers that never actually happened, storylines that were abandoned mid-plot... the list goes on. Some of the most prominent examples include:
    • Youngblood: Imperial and Youngblood: Bloodsport minis
    • Supreme Sacrifice crossover, which would have involved the 90s-era Supreme escaping from Supremacy and wrecking havoc.
    • Supreme: the Return storyline.
      • Seeing as Supreme has been relaunched, it did continued from The Return storyline while featuring a 90s-era Supreme.
    • And most of Alan Moore's plans for Awesome Comics line in general.
    • There was even a crossover planned between Youngblood andPower Rangers Zeo. The Zeo comic didn't get past issue one, though.
  • Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four epic, The War of the Four Cities. The four blocs are the Lost City of the High Evolutionary (tied to Silver Age villain the Mole Man), the floating city of the Universal Inhumans (tied to, well, the Inhumans), the hidden lives of the Cult of the Negative Zone (tied to Annihilus), and the Last Kings of Old Atlantis (tied to Namor the Sub-Mariner)... who kind of... died suddenly. Presumably when Hickman realised that with Namor and the surviving Atlanteans living under Utopia meant there was no way to hold the X-Men off until the Grand Finale. Never mind, we were then treated to the addition of the Kree to the storyline.
  • In a guest-writer spot on Justice Society of America, Jerry Ordway, author of Power of Shazam, seemed to be setting up an ongoing storyline about the Shazam characters; it involved Billy and Mary being depowered (undoing the Dork Age where Billy was the wizard and Mary was evil), the wizard acting irrational, and the introduction of the Rock of Eternity's Evil Counterpart, the Rock of Finality. While Ordway never got the chance to continue this, Edgar Wallace's subsequent Shazam one-shots seemed content to keep things in a holding pattern until he did, while adding other elements such as the return of Blaze. Then Flashpoint and the New 52 happened, and Captain Marvel was one of the characters who got completely reset. Not only is the arc aborted; in current continuity none of it happened.


Comic Strips[edit | hide]

  • In as much as there is continuity, one Dilbert comic involved Dogbert raising an army of cloned vegetables. It was supposed to be longer, but Scott Adams found it wasn't as funny as he thought it would be, so he actually stated in comic he was ending the arc by "skipping ahead to the big finish." Another arc, featuring the death of Dilbert, was also resolved quicker than planned when Adams ran out of ideas.
  • A two-week 1995 FoxTrot storyline had Paige getting the role of Cleopatra in the school's Antony and Cleopatra play, (with Morton playing Antony, of course). The story ended before the play started, with Roger noticing Paige's name in the play program. After that strip, the story suddenly ended, with no actual strips of the play being performed, and the story was never mentioned again.
  • In the newspaper comic Luann, creator Greg Evans had planned a storyline which revealed the reason Shallow Love Interest Aaron Hill was so uninterested in Luann's (or anyone else's) advances: he simply wasn't interested... in girls. Evans got cold feet, fearing he didn't have enough of a subscriber base to absorb the potential loss of paper slots, like Lynn Johnston did when she pulled a similar storyline. So he altered the story so that Aaron was hiding a relationship with the much older Dianne. Both characters were soon Put on a Bus after this story was done.
  • Doonesbury decided to celebrate its 20th anniversary year (1990) with a big epic storyline in which all the strips' various plotlines and characters converged together, with practically the entire cast all ending up at Mike's apartment. Creator Garry Trudeau ended up writing himself into a corner with the arc, which had everyone together but didn't give them anything to do. The arc got weirder when Mike's house was mistaken for a crack den and raided by federal agents. Trudeau decided the whole thing had gotten out of hand, and undid the entire arc by revealing that the last several months worth of strips had been All Just a Dream.
  • Heart of the City story arcs often end suddenly with no further explanation. An example is an arc where Heart's mom agrees to go on a date, which Heart dreads until she learns that the man is a talent agent. After that, the arc ended.
  • Lampshaded in a Peanuts strip in which Snoopy is writing a novel. One part of the plot involves a king living in luxury while his people starved. In tying up the plot threads, Snoopy left him out.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • In I Am Legend, Robert Neville lays a trap that captures a female dark seeker. Shortly after, a male dark seeker goes to look, even briefly exposing himself to sunlight. Neville theorizes that the dark seekers have started to lose their remaining higher brain functions, and with them some of their basic survival instincts. However, the next day Neville is caught in a trap very similar to the one he set, hinting that the dark seekers may be more intelligent than he thinks. In the original ending, the dark seekers come to rescue the female dark seeker and spare Neville's life; due to bad test audience reactions and Executive Meddling looking for a Sequel Hook, the ending was changed and the implication ignored. As Cracked.com put it, "The original ending is available as a bonus scene on the recent DVD release, where it is advertised as the "controversial original ending." Yes, coming to a peaceful reconciliation with your enemies is now more controversial than blowing them right the fuck up".
  • The X-Files -- I Want To Believe features a controversial paedophilic priest with "psychic" powers around which most of the publicity hinged. However, about halfway through the film goes off at a tangent about a totally different character, the only reference to Father Joe being his death announcement at the end.
  • Julianne Moore notably has prominent billing in the film of The Fugitive, despite her lack of screentime. This is because the original plan was to have her be a romantic interest for Harrison Ford's character after his wife's death, but the film ended up having a faster-than-expected pace, and such a relationship made his character seem callous.
  • Both Friday the 13 th: The Final Chapter and Friday the 13th: A New Beginning set the character Tommy Jarvis up to be Jason's replacement as the main villain of the series. These plans were canceled due to the unpopularity of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and Jason was brought back to life in the very next film.
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers has Michael's young niece Jamie Lloyd seemingly inherit whatever evil drove him to kill, as at the end of the film she stabs her stepmother with a pair of scissors in a manner almost identical to how Michael killed his sister Judith in the original film. The prospect of Jamie replacing Michael as the main villain of the series was abandoned by producer Moustapha Akkad, much to the disappointment of Danielle Harris (Jamie) and Donald Pleasence (Doctor Loomis). In the fifth film Jamie is back to normal and is retconned into merely wounding her stepmother in the previous film, instead of killing her.
  • The Hellboy film builds up Sammael as a basically undefeatable enemy due to his ability to duplicate himself every time he is killed. If you don't kill him then he lays eggs all over the place, which hatch into even more clones. By the end of the movie there are at least dozens of Sammael-clones and more hatching—so, how do they deal with him? Well, a whole raft of other plot points had come up, including the Big Bad and his chum, so they pretty much just set all the ones they could find on fire and called it a day. Note that we already know from earlier in the film that Kill It with Fire doesn't stop him duplicating, and they only bother looking for clones in one room of a very large underground complex halfway around the world from his last hangout. Once they leave the room, Sammael is never so much as mentioned for the remainder of the film. It does however appear in The Stinger, so it wasn't totally forgotten.
  • The Room loves this trope so much it uses it at least three times: In one subplot, Denny has a brief run in with a drug dealer; In another, Michelle's boyfriend Mike are shamed by Lisa and Claudette walking in on him with Michelle in Johnny and Lisa's living room; and another one - and here's the kicker - has Claudette telling Lisa that she has breast cancer, something that NOBODY ELSE MENTIONS. Not even CLAUDETTE HERSELF. All of these subplots are introduced and immediately forgotten.
  • In the third Halloweentown movie (Halloweentown High), the main point of the plot is Marney trying to get humans and the Halloweentown denizens to integrate, culminating in a scene where the humans discover the true identities of their real friends, and they decide that it doesn't matter that they're different. In the 4th movie (Return to Halloweentown), Marney (now played by a different actress) is off to magical college, with absolutely no reference to the integration of the worlds. Plus, both her and her mother seem to have lost all Character Development they got in the first three movies.
    • There's a vague Hand Wave where Marnie says that she can't be open about her magic because "a few people" still have Fantastic Racism, but other than that, nothing. The Hand Wave is more about it being the first-year creatures other than witches are allowed at the university, and therefore not all creatures have magic and it wouldn't be fair for witches to use their magic to do work. The reason for other creatures being allowed is because lots of witches were going to college in the human world and there weren't enough students for the university. This could work to make humans finding out about other creatures the whole reason for the story, but since the portal was opened in the second movie so they could leave their world anyway, it's still an aborted arc.
  • In the end of The Ghost of Frankenstein the Monster is given Ygor's (late Dr. Frankenstein's assistant, played by Bela Lugosi) brain, enabling the Monster to speak once again. This portrayal was supposed to be continued on Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, but the negative reaction from the test audiences made the executives to cut out all the Monster's dialogue and returning him to the Man Childish brute for the rest of Universal Horror movies featuring the character.
  • In The Final, when the outcasts are setting up their torture chamber, they mention how they are rigging the place with webcams in order to send a message to high school students all across the country. This is never brought up again.
  • The opening scene of Johnny Mnemonic establishes that the protagonist needs to do One Last Job in order to have enough money to afford an expensive "procedure" that he can have done to restore lost childhood memories. This charachter motivation sets the rest of the plot in motion, but the importance of needing money for the procedure and needing the procedure itself to restore the protagonist's lost memories is abandoned as soon as the scene ends.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel Queen of Slayers, capped off with Buffy becoming psychically pregnant with an embryo that was the composite daughter of both Spike and Angel—Buffy's most popular love interests over the course of the series. Of course, it's ignored by later authors for obvious reasons, though Spike and Angel being told about it would probably be hilarious. It's also one of the many spin-offs and fanfics that were retconned out of existence by the S8 comic's revelations about what was really going on in Italy.
  • Wild Cards had some plots abandoned, presumably because some creators left, probably taking their copyrighted characters with them. Tachyon's infection with the Typhoid version of the virus is treated as something that can be cured by another character who disappears from the series. Tachyon is also jumped into a different woman than his girlfriend, a Chris Claremont creation.
  • The Animorphs once encountered a new type of Controller called the Garatron, which was incredibly hard to defeat given that it could run ridiculously fast. After finally managing to defeat one after an entire book they comment there's a good chance they'll be fighting more of them soon. They never do.
  • K.A. Applegate's series Remnants suffered major Chris Carter Effect, meaning many arcs were left undone—most egregiously, what the "Ancient Enemy" was and how both the Troika and Billy related to it.
  • A major hazard of the multi-author format of the New Jedi Order series. Perhaps most notable were the arcs dealing with the Insiders, a conspiracy set up by the heroes that was to keep La Résistance going even if the Yuuzhan Vong destroyed the New Republic, and Tahiri's possible destiny as a half-human half-Yuuzhan Vong Dark Messiah, but smaller arcs were dropped as well.
  • Jurassic Park ends with the revelation that some dinosaurs have escaped to the Costa Rican mainland. Once Site B is introduced, no mention is made of them. This is briefly discussed in the second book, where on character mentions that they tried to look for them and found nothing, but the jungles of Costa Rica are dense enough that they could easily remain hidden there.
  • Perry Rhodan, given its nature as an extreme Long Runner written by a team of authors, is quite full of plot lines that simply disappear and/or come to a sudden (and usually bad) end after a lot of buildup. It's actually quite common for a new character to be introduced - or for a formerly random Mook to be given an upgrade to Mauve Shirt along with Nominal Importance and a half-chapter Backstory - only to be killed off-screen in the next issue. One particularly bad example from the early days of the series includes a hobo-turned-scientist (with the long and poignant backstory this implies; it takes up about half an issue)... who is killed on his first mission. By a falling tree. On Venus. Very slightly after it seemed he might experience happiness for just about the first time in his life.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Wings of Fire, one plotline involves Sky Masters, Inc. being the victim of a takeover, with the heads of the purchasing company having a Child Prodigy daughter that really impresses Jon. All this is seemingly forgotten by the next book.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch novels switched authors after book four, and there's at least one major Aborted Arc. By the end of the Spirit Walk books, arch-foe the rogue changeling had taken control of the government on the planet Kerovi. No-one knew he was there, and he was clearly up to something dangerous. It seemed as though the arc was being set up to be a big one, but it was swiftly dropped in Full Circle, the first novel from the second author. He was discovered, and arrested by the Kerovi authorities. In fact, the changeling then dies off screen. We don't even visit Kerovi in Full Circle.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • From The Bill: Very near to the end of Paul Marquess' time as executive producer of the series (2005), there is an episode where WPC Kapoor and PC Valentine work together to uncover the corruption of a uniformed Sergeant over at Barton Street nick. The episode even ends with a Sequel Hook, with PC Valentine informing her that he'll support her if she chooses to follow-through with her allegation, although it will likely drag both of them through the mud (coppers who grass on other coppers, even ones who are genuinely in the wrong, tend to be looked on very unfavourably by their colleagues). Given the heavily serialised nature of the programme at that stage, you might have expected this storyline to be followed up in further episodes, exploring the fallout of this affair. But it wasn't. It was dropped completely. The (off screen) outcome did get a belated mention in WPC Kapoor's final episode three years later, though.
  • The fourth season of Charmed where Phoebe becomes impregnated with the Son of the Source of All Evil had such potential for exploring the morality of killing a child (albeit a psychopathic killer baby, which is such an awesome plot point in itself: imagine them attending school) to prevent future evil, or even an Aesop about redemption (or lack thereof). Instead the child is disowned, retconed into a surrogate child, casually dispatched and never mentioned again—all within the last few minutes of the penultimate episode of the season. It could have been such a cool Big Bad.
  • Highlander the Series' first season made frequent mention of The Gathering as in the films. It was the very reason Christopher Lambert's Connor came to see Duncan in the first episode with that very title. The murder of Darius and the Watcher/Hunter storyline took over from this, and the emergence of new Immortals in later seasons seemed to belie a final battle being close at hand.
  • The disjointed, episodic nature of Sliders made it easy for them to follow up good ideas or drop bad ones with each new reality. They could even tease an interesting idea by giving a glimpse of it in an upcoming world or one our heroes just escaped, but never have to flesh out the details. Many abortive arcs came from the network shooting down creator Tracy Torme's attempts to inject continuity into the show—and being shown out of order, they lost what little continuity they had. One episode suggested that Professor Arturo had been replaced by his Evil Twin, but this was never followed up on. Arturo's terminal illness from another episode was mentioned once again and then forgotten. Quinn's evil female double in another episode was meant to be a recurring character, but was never seen again. A new member of the group was added in the first-season finale and then written out in a single line at the start of season 2. The Kromaggs were dropped after their initial appearance and not revisited until the show moved to the Sci Fi Channel two seasons later (and they were heavily retooled there from their original form, less monsters and more Nazis). The third Season Finale ended with Quinn and Maggie getting separated from the others, and sliding into a city of big glowy crystal-like buildings and flying cars. "I think we just slid into the future!" exclaims Quinn. The entire "future" concept is never even referenced again.
  • Red Dwarf ended its second season with Lister (a male character) falling pregnant to his female Alternate Universe counterpart. The writers had planned to spend an entire episode on it, but found their proposed script was misogynistic and—more damningly—not very funny. Season 3 wrapped up the storyline with a Star Wars-style text opening that scrolled so quickly it was literally unreadable unless viewed in slow motion on tape/DVD. This text also halfheartedly explained the sudden recasting of the characters Holly and Kryten. (Neither case was inconspicuous: the former gave himself a sex change; the latter was an obscure one-off character "rebuilt" into to a permanent cast member, acquiring a new look and personality in the process.) This gave the distinct impression of missing several episodes of major character developments; perhaps even an entire season.
  • Seinfeld's transgression had Jerry and Elaine get back together at the end of Season Two, then started Season Three with them apart (with no explanation). Creator/executive producer Larry David had always hated the idea of the two of them being together, and had only written that episode that way because he thought it was going to be the series finale.
  • Babylon 5, the archetypal Arc show, had several of these over the years, usually as the result of actors leaving the show. To their credit, the important parts of those arcs were relocated and reassigned to other characters.
    • One aborted and unaborted arc: Lyta Alexander was in the pilot episode and had mental contact with Kosh; she was supposed to get closer with the Vorlons, rebelling against Psi-Corps, and the other things that happened to her character later. When Pat Tallman didn't return after the pilot, Talia was invented, and a new mechanism (a gift from Ironheart) to give her enhanced telepathic powers was created. When Andrea Thompson left the show and Tallman came back, the substance of that arc was handed back to Lyta. With the way Talia was removed from the show, however, her personal arc hit a brick wall and died, after being kept alive in the viewer's mind for so long.
    • The whole The Mole arc which was originally intended to revolve around Laurell Takashima (who only appeared in the Pilot) and was shortly revisited on "Spider in the Web" was "unaborted" when Andrea Thompson left the show, making Talia The Mole. Furthermore if you believe in the Word of God, Takashima was originally intended to shoot Garibaldi, which was then transferred to his right-hand officer.
    • The original plan for "Sleeping in Light" involved Commander Sinclair returning to Babylon 4 to travel back in time and become Valen as per War Without End. When Captain Sheridan inherited the commander's arc, Sinclair's premature aging in War Without End, and Sheridan's limited lifespan post-Z'ha'dum were the patches allowing Sheridan to take Sinclair's place in Sleeping in Light.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • The episode "Conspiracy" introduces a race of mind-controlling slugs that threaten to infiltrate The Federation. The episode ended with the revelation that the aliens had sent out a homing signal into deep space, presumably as a prelude to a full-scale invasion. They were never seen nor heard from again in any TV series (though they showed up in the non-Canon novels as being tied to the Trill). They were intended to be a way of introducing the Borg, who were later introduced by other means. The expanded universe goes back to this one sometimes; in the comics, Geordi stumbles on their second invasion attempt, they're trying to start slower by going after a less-advanced race. In the Shatnerverse, Captain Raddison explains to Kirk that her super-secret division exists to protect The Federation from things that would keep even him up at night. Among her list of incidences, "Parasites of unimaginable power that have three times tried to take over the Federation from within. Ask Picard to tell you about the time he knows about."
    • And speaking of those other means, the Season 1 finale involved outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone being mysteriously destroyed, with each side at first thinking the other was responsible. The Borg were meant to be this new threat, but that doesn't track with their debut appearance the following season. In "Q Who?" it's explicitly suggested, if not outright stated, that the Borg destroyed the Neutral Zone outposts. On the other hand, later Borg retcons also don't track with that debut appearance, and make the Neutral Zone thing more logical.
    • There were also the extradimensional abductors in the episode "Schisms", who released a probe into "our" universe which the Enterprise lost track of in an obvious attempt to establish them as a continuing menace. They were never seen nor mentioned again (although these guys, like the above-mentioned parasites, were followed-up upon in the comics).
    • Also, there was the whole "warp drive damages reality" problem they introduced in the sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and then only mentioned once the following season. This had the potential to be either really cool or really stupid, but we will never know which. Word of God says that the "variable geometry pylons" on U.S.S. Voyager were the Federation's stopgap solution to the problem, thus explaining why the Enterprise-E and other ships produced thereafter has fixed pylons. Was later retconned to having to due with a Star Trek TOS episode involving the federation trying to make an omega molecule and it destroying subspace in the entire sector. And by the time of The Next Generation it's a closely guarded secret in the hands of only a few that the federation destroyed this entire sector of space's subspace field.
  • Doctor Who
    • The malevolent unknown force in the middle of the TARDIS, mentioned by the newly regenerated fifth Doctor in the story Castrovalva. This was intended as a reference to another story that would follow it in that season (where the Doctor and crew would indeed discover that there's something evil hidden at the very centre of the Doctor's ship), but the script for this other story was eventually dropped. The reference to it in Castrovalva wasn't, and it remains unanswered to this day (even in the Expanded Universe).
    • Then there is the Cartmel Masterplan that was supposed to introduce more mysteries about the Doctor's origin and nature. The Old Series was cancelled before anything could come from it, but the Expanded Universe saved some plotlines.
    • The season-long Trial of a Time Lord introduced Mel, a future companion of the Doctor who showed up to rescue him at the end despite them not having actually met from his point of view. The producers had planned to show this first meeting, but were forced to just plow ahead with Mel as the current companion when Colin Baker was fired.
  • In Strange Luck, Chance's brother mentioned that he'd made a friend in the FBI who could help them. His name was Mulder. The series was canceled before this crossover could happen (although a character suspiciously similar to Chance Harper later appeared in the X-Files episode "The Goldberg Variation").
  • Stargate SG-1 is infamous for introducing characters, races, and enemies that are never seen again. Examples: Nem (an advanced alien who befriended Daniel in the first season), Nyan (a man who supposedly became Daniel's assistant), the Re'tu faction (who supposedly wanted to wipe out all humans), and the general idea of the great alliance introduced in the "Fifth Race" (Asgard and Ancients get their share of plot, but Nox are never to be seen after helping free Skaara; the Furlings are more a running gag than anything). All planets whose Stargate has been lost/destroyed have not been mentioned again even after the SGC started building ships (such as Heliopolis, on which the "meaning of life" machine is housed).
    • Forgetting Nem becomes infuriating in the later seasons. Nem's entire motivation was to find out the fate of his wife, Omaroca, who is revealed by Daniel to have been killed and torn apart by Belus. If this sounds familiar, it's because Belus and Omaroca are also known by the slightly less obscure names of Marduk and Tiamat. In show, Marduk is a Goa'uld who has spent the past five thousand years locked in a ziggurat, and the Eye of Tiamat is part of the same set of MacGuffins as the Eye of Ra. Since Marduk is in possession of the Eye when he's released, one could assume that Omaroca tried to use the Eye as a weapon against the Goa'uld occupying Earth, but failed and was killed by Marduk, information that Nem would certainly want to hear. This connection is never made.
    • Strangely, though the Re'tu are never seen again, they are mentioned practically every instance when someone is attacked by something invisible or when there is a threat of unknown origin.
    • Jonas Quinn did get a proper send-off and even turned up in a later episode, but it had been hinted, especially in "Prophecy", that his brain was special in some potentially plot-important way, and it was never revealed what this was or what it had to do with anything. His brain was special because he could memorize all Jackson's notes in between seasons. If they ever explained why it was special, but as for how it was special, his super-learning made him a good Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
      • His planet gets a guest appearance on SGU, he doesn't. Blink and you'll miss it—his planet is mentioned as one of those which fell to the Ori in season 9 or 10.
  • Stargate Atlantis was far from better. What effect did Sheppard's "Blending" with an ascended being have? None. What about the last Asgards? Or the travelers after their brief help in fighting the Asgards. Or what about Lt. Ford, whom Sheppard was convinced had survived? Or that Ancient-worshipping cult that hoarded a ZPM? The list goes on...
    • On the subject of the Asgard Outcasts, The heroes have a Magical Database containing all of the achievements, both scientific and cultural, of the mainstream Asgard race, something that could be used to negotiate an alliance with those Jerkass Asgards who have been reduced to using vastly inferior technology to their extinct mainstream counterparts. There could have been a whole plot on the rebirth of the Asgards. Presumably the series just ran out of time to tell it.
  • So Weird, the Disney Channel's version of The X-Files, took this a step further—it abandoned the entire Myth Arc which had been mapped out for three seasons when the lead actress left the show after season 2. After this, she was replaced by an unrelated character and Executive Meddling ensured everything that had built up was quietly dropped with little explanation in the span of a single episode. Floating around on the internet is a Word of God summary of how season 3 was supposed to go, and it was the culmination of the Myth Arc of the first two seasons.
  • The Dead Zone television series started an arc concerning the villain from the book of the same name, Greg Stillson — a racist, sociopathic, corrupt President who ends up starting a nuclear war that causes The End of the World as We Know It. Later, the television writers tried to downplay the arc, as they thought viewers would prefer a Monster of the Week format where they wouldn't have to watch episodes in a certain order or keep track of story arcs at all. The Stillson Arc was increasingly downplayed until he pulls a Heel Face Turn (which later turns out to be a trick masking his true evil agenda). This was a result of Executive Meddling — they were finally allowed to get back to the arc right at the end of Season 6, and the series was promptly cancelled.
  • Desperate Housewives is notorious for this, resulting in glaring Plot Holes.
  • Heroes
    • It was planned for the Shanti Virus to be released in the middle of Season 2. When the WGA strike cut the season short, the show runners decided that they didn't want to leave the virus arc unresolved. The ending of episode 11 was reshot to have Peter destroy the virus, and the cliffhanger ending was changed from Nathan collapsing from the virus during a speech thanking the people of Odessa for having the courage to quarantine themselves to Nathan getting shot during a speech intended to reveal the existence of super powers just before he was going to say that he can fly.
    • When season 3 degenerated into a Random Events Plot this happened so much. Sylar is a killer because his Intuitive Aptitude gives him a hunger. So, when Peter goes to the future and obtains the Intuitive Aptitude, he's pretty fucked because he now has the hunger to open up people's skulls, despite the fact he absorbs powers by proximity. Next episode, just Peter is starting to unleash his inner Big Bad, Arthur takes away all his powers, including Intuitive Aptitude. Speaking of the hunger, Sylar was trying to override it until Noah tells him Angela and Arthur were lying to him, and then he just drops all pretense of being good and instantly becomes evil again. There's also the entire arc about the twelve villains that were supposed to be the worst villains ever, but all the characters stopped caring after Arthur came back to life. Then the Eclipse mini-arc, which was dropped almost as quickly as it was picked up. Adam was dug up, because Angela said he was the key to everything; turns out that was a lie as well, since nobody even bothered looking for him after Arthur killed him. Knox said that all he thought about during his time in level five was revenge on Noah, the man that put him there—also dropped after his first appearance.
    • There's also the issue of Peter's season 2 girlfriend Caitlin, who got lost in an alternate future that no longer exists. They kind of completely forgot about her after that, and Peter doesn't seem too concerned with getting her back. (In an interview, one of the writers jokingly said that no, Peter didn't really care, then backpedaled and said that she was originally meant to be rescued in the second half of season 2. "But sadly that will never happen...")

Aron Coleite: ... So we're going to have to find another way to rescue Caitlin from a future that doesn't even exist anymore.

    • Also, when it was decided that the show would continue following the central characters of season 1 (and not a new group each year, as Tim Kring had planned) numerous possible future arcs were hinted, but ultimately never came to be. Many of them can be seen in Isaac's paintings, such as one of Hiro facing down a T. rex (obviously, the show never had the budget to do that one). That one actually was wrapped up; right after stealing the sword, Hiro runs into a T. rex display in a museum.
  • Lost
    • There's a story arc involving two characters named Nikki and Paulo, who actually had quite a bit of backstory and Plot setup to them. They were introduced as background characters who had suddenly acquired more dimension. The problem? The creators didn't use the extras that had long been on the show, any of the recurring minor survivors (eg, Steve), or any mentioned but unseen characters (Tracy, Neil); the new characters' abrupt appearance caused quite a bit of fan backlash. The intricate plot set up for the two was condensed into a single episode, and the two were summarily killed off.
    • Another aborted arc resolves around Libby, who was revealed to have been in the same mental hospital as Hurley. The next episode, she was killed. The Powers That Be originally said her story will be told, later said her story is over and no longer relevant, then reversed again when they brought her back in season 6 where her time in the mental facility starts to make more sense for the story.
    • Recently, the producers have revealed that they had a intricate four season arc planned for Eko, until the actor decided to leave. Parts were given to other characters, but the main thrust of it-the conflict between Eko and Locke for the position of "spiritual leader of the Island"-was lost.
    • The War between Widmore and Ben hinted at during seasons 4 and 5 was replaced with the conflict between Jacob's followers and MIB's followers. Widmore returned to the Island without mentioning Ben once, focusing on MIB, until the penultimate episode.
    • The producers have also said that Walt will only be seen again in a DVD-exclusive. Indeed, many hinted at arcs from earlier seasons have been forgotten in favor of Jacob and MIB.
    • Many people found Ilana's promotion to series regular baffling, given that she had almost no role in the plot outside of "Dr Linus", appeared only once in the flash-sideways and got blown up randomly. According to Zuleikha Robinson (though her account may be wrong), she originally had a longer arc that would have featured her as Jacob's daughter. Sadly, a lack of time made them decide to focus on the original characters more, explaining her quick departure.
  • The 4th season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch introduced the character of Dreama, a naive young witch Sabrina was supposed to be tutoring for her Witches License. The story line never really got off the ground and Dreama mostly spent her fairly limited screen time as Greek chorus for Sabrina and a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Sabrina's former best friend Valerie. In her final two appearances her character arc was not mentioned at all and she vanished without trace in the penultimate episode of the season, without the show ever bothering to mention if she got her License and what happened to her then.
  • News Radio's writers made a point of intentionally abandoning every arc the network forced on them, since they preferred stand-alone episodes to arcs. For example, the storyline about Lisa wanting a baby plodded along for several episodes, never went anywhere, and was quietly dropped.
    • Possibly the most jarring example of this trope was in the "Andrea" arc. Station owner Jimmy James hires an "efficiency expert" named Andrea, who proceeds to fire Matthew, demote Dave from News Director to reporter and fill the vacant Director's office by promoting Lisa. It was also not-so-subtly implied that she was a lesbian with a fairly violent criminal history and a crush on Lisa. After four episodes, Andrea disappeared without so much as an off-camera farewell, Matthew was un-fired by Mr. James and given back his old job, all other changes made by Andrea were undone (except for Dave and Lisa's job-swap, which took a few more episodes to resolve) and not a single explanation was ever given.
  • Nip Tuck frequently abandoned whole subplots or characters, sometimes bringing them back many episodes (or even seasons) later in order to hastily close the loose ends.
  • Farscape: The Nebari are built up to be huge threats - one of their cargo ships took out the Peacekeepers' strongest Command Carrier; their "Establishment" deals with contentious citizens by infecting them with a sexually transmitted virus that will throw worlds into chaos and them sending them into the galaxy at large; they're apparently capable of blowing up planets; and they wear lots of eyeliner. And we never hear of them again after "A Clockwork Nebari".
    • Though it's later implied that the Nebari aren't really interested in anyone who doesn't get in the way of their forced utopia and the ones we see are just out tiding up loose ends.
    • It wasn't a "cargo ship" that took out the Command Carrier, it was according to them one of their "standard host vessels." Presumably since the Nebari place great emphasis on "peace" this is just an unusual euphemism for a warship.
  • Lois and Clark
    • Towards the end of an arc, the Corrupt Corporate Executive was defeated and killed, and his (apparently) dumb-blonde trophy wife Mindy was last seen saying that she would be in charge from now on, with an implication that perhaps she had been the prime mover all along. She made one subsequent appearance (again successfully framing someone else for her crimes), and was never mentioned again.
    • Similarly, the character of Cat Grant vanished without explanation at the end of Season 1 (removing one-third of the recurring female characters); Word of God says Cat had to be dropped because she was considered too racy for a PG show.
  • This is lampshaded in Friends, where Joey gets a job working at the coffee house, and then simply stops working there. A few episodes later, he and Gunther realize this, and Joey reveals that he quit but forgot to tell him.
  • Power Rangers had quite a few of these after it started regularly using Story Arcs.
    • Power Rangers Turbo had Dimitria's missing twin sister. She was implicitly Divatox, judging by the fact that they were both played by Carol Hoyt... then again, she was a replacement while the actress who played Divatox in the Pilot Movie, Hilary Shepard Turner, was on maternity leave.
      • When Divatox is "purified" in "Countdown to Destruction", she's wearing an outfit identical to Dimitria's, which is as good an answer as we're ever going to get about the twin sister thing.
      • Turbo also left the identity of the Phantom Ranger and his apparent budding relationship with Cassie up in the air.
    • The original MMPR Productions version of Ninja Storm would have continued the mythology of a Ranger Alliance first mentioned by Wes in Reinforcements from the Future and shown in Forever Red. Head writer Amit Bhaumik had elaborate plans for both Tommy and the Phantom Ranger dashed, like the season, by Executive Meddling. Upon announcement of Tommy's return in Dino Thunder, some well connected fans made showrunner Doug Sloan aware of those plans and they were incorporated into the broader backstory of Dino Thunder. A subverted case of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, as Bhaumik would not have left the Ranger alliance intact by season's end. Still would have been nice to see most of the Ranger teams on Earth lose their powers as Hayley mentioned, though. Had Sloan continued on for another season we would have gotten that very same mythology used as the backstory of SPD, making this a TWICE Aborted Arc.
    • In Dino Thunder, Devin was originally planned to become a Sixth Ranger, but this was aborted when it was clear his intended powers were in fact a power up for Red Ranger.
  • In Kamen Rider Faiz we never hear about Mari's hairdressing again and in Kamen Rider Kabuto Hiyori being a Worm is also dealt with rather quickly.
  • During one of the later seasons of Cheers Kirstie Alley got pregnant, so a story arc was created in which she and Sam decided to have a child together (while still just being friends). Kirstie Alley had a miscarriage and the arc was abruptly dropped.
  • During Frasier's 10th season, an arc was slowly built up where it was suggested that Roz had feelings for Frasier and was jealous over his relationship with Julia Wilcox. In the first episode of Season 11, the old writers from earlier seasons rejoined the show and quickly ended the arc by saying Roz's father had remarried and thus she was scared of losing Frasier as a friend. The characters made up, and nothing more was ever said.
  • The entire high school element of The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 1, with incomplete arcs involving a mysterious suicide, implications of teacher-student sexual exploitation, and a male student lusting after Cameron, was just dumped with no explanation at all once Season 2 started. Word of God says that the creators decided that it was unnecessary and that the show worked better if the central characters weren't even trying to pretend to have a normal life. Also there was a writers strike.
  • In the revised Battlestar Galactica Reimagined:
    • The latter half of Season 3 was going to have a story arc about the Sagitarrons. The story goes that during the New Caprica arc, the rest of the colonials had run low on food, but the Sagitarrons, being close-to-nature, had grown enough. The Colonial government made the decision to seize their food in order to feed everyone, a kind of reverse ant-grasshopper parable. The only remnants of this arc are: the episode The Woman King, and Baltar whispering to Gaeta during Baltar's imprisonment, which was supposed to tie into this arc. The latter was repurposed for the minisodes Face of the Enemy. It might also explain what Tyrol was protesting immediately after the Time Skip—and given a hint to the decision made by Apollo in the finale.
    • Bulldog's mysteriously one-off appearance—originally, the character was intended to recur, but scheduling issues prevented that from playing out.
  • NCIS spent a few seasons setting up a plot in which Director Jenny Shepherd learns that her apparently dead father was, in fact, still alive (despite the fact that he'd shot himself in the head and she was the one who found his body). Just as she's beginning to accept it may be true, she's killed in a gun-battle related to one of her first cases as an agent, and so the whole story is now apparently done, with no resolution either way.
    • This was actually explained in a blink and you'll miss it scene. Midway through the season Abby speculates that this was a plot by someone (most likely from the CIA) to make Director Shephard look mentally unstable. Leon Vance's remark that Abby is smarter than she looks is about the only answer we'll ever get. It is believed that the reason this plotline was swept under the rug was due to Donald Bellasario stepping down as showrunner and his successor deciding to drop the arc quickly.
  • ER had a notorious one involving the return of Anna Del Amico's supposedly reformed junkie ex-boyfriend, and a romantic rivalry developing between him and Carter. Problem is, this was all set up at the end of the season. When Maria Bello didn't return for the following season, the writers had no choice but to drop the whole thing.
  • Fez and Laurie's marriage on That '70s Show. At some point, Red and Kitty wanted the marriage to end, but to no avail, and decided to postpone the divorce when they started receiving wedding gifts. Next season, Fez is acting like a single again, Laurie is said to be in Canada, and the marriage is never mentioned again. The fact that Laurie was recast and given much less screen time didn't help. There's also Grandma Bea who was invited to stay at the Formans', but vanished a couple episodes later.
  • Around episode 300, the original Dark Shadows had a storyline where Victoria and Burke were going to move into a house, Seaview, after they get married. The house was strangely unoccupied and Elizabeth agrees to sell it even though the deed says it shouldn't be sold. The popularity of Barnabas Collins probably led to this arc being canceled; it turned out she wasn't allowed to sell the house after all and what was wrong with it was never followed up on.
  • On The Unit, Tiffy, Kim (reluctantly), and whoever Grey or Hector was seeing at the time, got to digging around in Molly's past and found out that she is not totally who she says she is. Molly found out and confronted the nosy bunch, even telling them that she was going to tell Jonas but before that could happen, the storyline was dropped the very next week, never to be mentioned again.
  • In the first and second series of Robin Hood a huge amount of time and effort is put into two very distinct plotlines: the assassination attempt by Guy of Gisborne to kill King Richard and Robin's attempts to expose him; and the sheriff's conspiracy to help Prince John usurp the throne by mustering the Black Knights and having them sign the Pact of Nottingham to ensure their loyalty (a MacGuffin that one regular character actually dies for). Then in the season finale of S2 Marian is murdered by Guy of Gisborne. By the third season the Pact, the Black Knights, and the assassination attempt have been dropped entirely to deal with the repercussions of Marian's death. But then, even this is aborted in favor of melodramatic family dramas and convoluted love triangles thanks to the introduction of Isabella and Archer and Kate. The political ramifications of the time period and the basic "rob from the rich to give to the poor" mantra are simply afterthoughts.
  • In The 4400, there was a lot of buildup about Diana's relationship with her father: in the first episode, she calls him when she thinks Earth is about to be destroyed, but he doesn't pick up. Later, she tells Tom that she wishes her father was as good to her as he was to Kyle, and at one point she comments "when you lose your trust in a person, especially a parent, you can never get it back." This arc is promptly dropped. In fact, in one episode where the characters all see people from their pasts, she sees an ex-fiance she's never mentioned before, while Tom sees his father, who had also never been talked about.
  • During Season 6-7 of The X-Files, the Syndicate was destroyed at the hands of the Alien Rebels. The writers at the time spoke of their plans for a new Syndicate, headed by Alex Krycek and Marita Covarrubias, which was essentially set up in Season 7 finale Requiem (Krycek and Covarrubias deliberately disobey CSM's orders and eventually attempt to murder him) but never resurfaced. Covarrubias disappeared, and Krycek was killed in Season 8.
  • When season 2 of Friday Night Lights was cut short by the writers' strike, the showrunners decided to cut their losses and abandon several storylines, including Smash Williams' decision to play football for a small, academically-minded historically black college after losing his scholarship, Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity's will they or won't they subplot (season 3 began with them together), Lyla Garrity's Christian radio career, and the entire character of juvenile delinquent-turned-star defensive player Santiago Herrera.
  • Lots and lots on Alias, most notably the idea that Sydney's whole life had been tinkered with as a top secret CIA project set up by her dad. Not only did the final cut of the episode where it was introduced cut out most of the more obvious references (which mistakenly ended up in the ABC.com recap of the episode for a few hours), but it was dropped completely in the next season opener. Well... sort of. They changed it into something else that contradicted what we DID learn from what we saw of the incriminating file. And they deleted a scene that explained much of what happened that season, only to address it vaguely in the next episode as if we should know what they meant (those who went to ABC.com during another brief window found out). Oh, and the whole plot of Season 3 was cut in half and resolved with Sydney basically being an idiot but still destroying centuries-old magical semen. AND the driving plot behind the series was suddenly dropped in the middle of the second season to make the show more accessible. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot more.
  • In Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it was hinted that Mr. Snyder was conspiring with Mayor Wilkins to eliminate Buffy as a threat by bullying her, and later by expelling her from school on trumped-up murder charges. Season 3 revealed that while he was doing some work with the mayor, Snyder was still as much in the dark about what was going on as the rest of the adults of Sunnydale.
  • Brothers and Sisters strongly implied in its third season finale that Rebecca was bipolar (even tying in the events of the episode to her otherwise forgotten backsgtory). They promptly dropped any references to the storyline in the fourth season.
  • Kate Lockley's storyline was dropped from Angel after Elisabeth Rohm got a better job offer from the folks at Law and Order.
    • Another notable one is the cyborg plot that was in "Lineage". We never saw any more of it or found out where they really came from.
    • Planned storylines for season 6 were either dropped or expanded in After the Fall.
  • The Office
    • During Season 6, there was an arc featuring Dwight trying to hatch a scheme to legitimately get Jim fired, which included forming an alliance with Ryan and planting a bug in Jim's office. It would be one thing if this was Ryan on his own accord (who crossed into Jerkass territory two seasons prior), but the writers apparently forgot that there was a begrudging respect between Dwight and Jim despite their rivalry, from Dwight preventing Roy from attacking Jim to the two actually having a successful traveling sales run, and even co-running the Party Planning Committee together for a while.
    • Jim destroyed Dwight's respect when he went over Michael's head to Jo and talked himself into the Regional Manager job that Dwight thinks belongs to him. In Season 8, Andy gets the same job after Dwight screwed up his chance and Dwight immediately turns on him too.
  • Season 2 of Burn Notice had, in the first half, a mystery as to what the mysterious organization was having Michael do (personal shopper for a sniper), then what that guy was doing (killing someone). Then at the midseason finale, everyone dies and Michael gets half blowed up. And we never hear about this plot again. Kind of justified in that, by the end of the season, the people involved are dead and the organization has abandoned Michael. And Michael's handler might have been acting on her own, without the blessing of Management, for that mission.
  • Dexter has some.
    • Maria La Guerta has a crush on Dexter in the first episode of the first season, something that is never mentioned again.
    • Also, after Debra kills one of the Fuente brothers, the other Fuentes brother is still on the loose and is never mentioned again.
    • At the Season 4 ending, there is an implication that Debra is about to find out Brian Moser had a brother while at the same time suspecting that Dexter is hiding something. Come Season 5, that plot thread is weakly relegated to Quinn.
  • In Dawson's Creek, infamously annoying Eve Whitman was introduced in season 3 as a new Love Interest for Dawson who later finds out she's Jennifer's half-sister. Dawson tells Jenn's mother about his discovery and it's never heard of again. Of course, Eve disappears by the end of the season. Lampshaded in one of the series' final episodes, when a character who wasn't around for season three asks about her:

Audrey: Who the hell is Eve?
Jack: Long story. Ambiguous ending.

  • Eureka
    • Despite The Artifact being one of the central plot points of the first two seasons, everything concerning it and The Consortium was inexplicably dropped, without any sort of closure or explanation. Fridge Logic makes this even worse, due to one of the characters explicitly saying that "Power of that magnitude doesn't just disappear." Ed Quinn (Nathan Stark's actor) actually left the show due to this, as Nathan Stark's obsession with The Artifact was his defining character trait.
    • season four brought back the consortium but with new plot line about having to send someone from the future (a.k.a. jack) or Dr. Grant who was from time displaced from the past in order to save the history of the consortium. they also teased TWICE that stark had returned. he did not.
  • On Home and Away, the toxic waste buried in the construction site probably being the cause and justification of all the cancer causes of the series, plot line ended with Belle being hospitalized and then shifted over to her drug-abuse arc. The toxic waste has not been touched upon again, not even when Belle herself was dying of cancer!!
  • The West Wing
    • In a second season episode, the White House is politically out-maneuvered by the Republican Majority Leader's new Chief of Staff, played by Felicity Huffman. The episode ends with White House staffers realizing that the majority leader is running for President, with Huffman's shrewd, capable character set up as a major antagonist. Then Huffman took a role on Desperate Housewives, and the majority leader's presidential bid was later dispensed with in a cursory fashion.
    • The West Wing was somewhat notorious for this—the arcs of a number of major characters abruptly ended without resolution and with the characters disappearing without explanation. Fans called the phenomenon "being sent to Mandyville." It happened to characters as major as Mandy, Sam and Amy Gardner.
  • Many times in Glee. One example is the Sam/Mercedes romance arc that was left as a cliffhanger in 2x22 was dropped. Sam's actor left the show and Mercedes got a new boyfriend.
    • This plotline may actually be resuming, with Sam's return to New Directions.
    • This also happened earlier in season two with the same character when Sam Evans's original planned coming-out arc was dropped in favour of the developing relationship between Kurt and Blaine and the subjective "chemistry" Dianna Agron and Chord Overstreet shared.
    • In the penultimate episode of season 2, Sue's Evil League is completely abandoned, Terri leaves the show and actually manages to help New Directions. To top it off, in the same episode Quinn gives a vague threat of doing something to sabotage the club in New York only to just get a haircut the next episode.
    • Quinn and Puck's entire relationship (including him confessing his love for her) was completely dropped once they gave their daughter, Beth, up for adoption. The relationship (or, really, Beth in general) would not be brought up again until Season 3, where the show treated their romance as a one-off fling.
  • The first series of Primeval ends with Nick Cutter going through an anomaly into the Permian era, and coming back out to find that his actions have somehow altered the timeline so that his love interest Claudia Brown has become a different person named Jenny Lewis, as well as a few other changes. The second series makes many references to this mystery (as well as wondering why relatively little has changed) but never explains it. In Series 3, the still unexplained arc is apparently abandoned as Cutter is killed off and Jenny leaves the show: apart from a few brief references, it has not been touched upon since.
  • In season 3 of Thirty Rock, Liz Lemon decides to adopt a child after a pregnancy scare at the end of last season. This plan becomes nonexistent after being an integral part of a handful of season 3 episodes, though it was Lampshaded in the season 5 episode "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning".

Kenneth: I couldn't put the memo in your mailbox because it's full of unread adoption materials.
Liz: (uninterested) Yeah.

  • Happened often on Twenty Four:
    • Season two ended with a massive tease of a plotline that had apparently been building for two seasons. Alexander Trepkos (the man who advised Peter Kingsley, the season's Big Bad) puts in a call to a German arms dealer named Max and tells him that "Plan B" is a go. (In a deleted scene on the boxset, it's revealed that Nina is also with Max, and that the German contact she was in touch with in the first season was Max's associate.) "Plan B" kicks off with the (attempted) assassination of President Palmer...and nothing else. In the third season, Palmer says that the people who tried to kill him were brought to justice. The Max plotline is half-heartedly resolved in 24: The Game (which was released during the fifth season-airing of the show and focuses on events between seasons two and three, long after everyone stopped caring), and never mentions what happened to Trepkos.
    • Famously, Behrooz Araz disappears three-quarters of the way through the fourth season after his mother is executed by Marwan (and after having a majority of the season focused on his survival under ridiculous circumstances). His fate is resolved in a deleted scene - he's rescued by Curtis before Marwan's men execute him (and learns about his mother's fate) - but most viewers likely wondered where the hell he went during the original television airings.
    • The first eight episodes of season one focus on an assassin who gets plastic surgery to obtain a new identity and get close to Senator David Palmer at a morning rally. Jack never meets the guy until their one and only encounter, but successfully throws the assassin off Palmer by implicating himself as an enemy. The assassin runs away when Jack gets arrested...and never shows up again, despite having plenty of chances afterwards to kill his target, in any of the episodes or seasons following this. The producers supposedly forgot about the character.
    • There's a whole arc in the second season where Presidential aide Lynne Kresge tries to get incriminating evidence on Mike Novick to David Palmer. She falls down several flights of stairs while attempting to outwit one of Novick's guards, and has to be wheeled into an ambulance (while still having the knowledge). She never appears in the series again, and fans continually complained about it (pointing to Novick's duplicitous nature) in every season that followed. The producers even yo-yo'd on whether she would be brought back in a later season or if she died as a result of her injuries.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The release of the album "Fangs!" seemed to be something of a new beginning for the experimental rock band Falling Up. It was both a New Sound Album and a Concept Album that was the beginning of a story arc... then the band broke up. The band reunited in 2011, but their most recent album doesn't really continue the story line of Fangs
  • David Bowie's 1995 concept album 1. Outside was supposed to be the first of a series leading up to the millennium. However, further albums continuing the "non-linear gothic drama hyper cycle" never appeared. Almost 15 years on it's probably safe to classify this as an aborted arc.
  • Sufjan Stevens has discontinued his "50 states project", which started with Michigan and Illinois. Looks like there won't be any more.


Pro Wrestling[edit | hide]

Years ago, before the advent of live cable television on Monday nights and the internet, feuds were planned out months in advance rather than week-by-week, meaning that even if an angle were not living up to expectations (e.g., apathetic fan response), it would continue until the earliest opportunity to quietly end the feud. But even in the pre-Attitude/pre-Monday Night Raw era, unplanned events – a wrestler's unexpected death or departure, or a major legit injury, for instance – would often force major changes to a carefully planned storyline, and often force promoters to hastily edit explanations into the already-completed films that were to be distributed to local TV stations.

  • In the WWE, 2007's "Who Killed Vince McMahon?" was abruptly halted when 2–3 weeks after the storyline began, Chris Benoit killed his family, and then himself. It was later explained that "Vince" had faked his death.
    • It would've eventually been revealed that Mr. Kennedy was involved.
    • A year later, the Raw set was sabotaged, with equipment falling on Vince McMahon. The perpetrator was never revealed, and it wasn't mentioned again after a week or so.
  • In WCW, 2000's "Stacy Keibler is pregnant" arc was halted following Vince Russo's departure from WCW. Of course, this is Vince Russo we're talking about.
    • She gave birth to a stack of Shawn Stasiak photos. Sadly, it's only the 2nd strangest thing a woman has given birth to in a wrestling storyline.
  • In 1999, WWE ran a reoccurring vignette featuring short Caught in the Act videos of Superstars doing rather embarrassing things under the title of "GTV." The plan was originally for Goldust to be revealed as behind it (as per writer Vince Russo), but his sudden departure from the company meant it never came to be. The WWE continued to run the vignettes afterwards, though with much less regularity, before quietly retiring them.
    • The very first vignette actually called it "GDTV" a much less subtle implication that Goldust was the culprit.
    • The arc actually did get something of a send-off on Sunday Night Heat, when Glen Ruth (formerly Headbanger Thrasher) displayed GTV footage to acquit Chaz (formerly Headbanger Mosh) in his own domestic violence angle.
  • Anyone remember the Fake Kane? Started out as Kane being confronted by someone dressed as his old masked persona, but the whole thing was dropped after about a month of build-up and never mentioned again.
    • This one actually ended. WWE.com had a Kayfabe page on this and similar arcs. Smarks know the man was Drew Hankinson.
  • Not a big aborted arc, but when John Heidenreich debuted on RAW in 2003, he always told people his actions were all done for someone named "Little Johnny". Heidenreich was taken off TV before the identity of Little Johnny could be revealed, but said later in an interview that it would've turned out to be a doll that represented his younger self when he was overweight. He also claimed he could've made the angle work (as people know what it's like to be picked on) but the writers messed it up by making every discussion about "Little Johnny" seem like a Double Entendre.
  • In February 2001, The Kat entered an angle where Jerry Lawler lost a match on her behalf and she was forced to join the Right to Censor group. The next episode of Raw had them forcing her to wear a burlap sack to the ring and it was implied the storyline would continue. However The Kat was released the very next day and the excuse was apparently that Val Venis had slept with her and she escaped out the window. Apparently she ran out into the night and got lost, never to be seen again.
  • The Katie Vick angle of 2003, involving Triple H and Kane, was more-or-less hastily ended after near-universally negative reviews. The angle was innocuous enough: the heel Triple H – hoping to play mind games with Kane (in the midst of his tortured soul/sympathetic face persona) – claimed that he had evidence that Kane had killed a young woman named Katie Vick, with whom he had an unrequited crush; said accident happened as Kane was driving Katie home. The angle began going south after Triple H showed video footage of "Kane" having sex with Katie's corpse. Actually, Triple H was dressed as Kane, and making out with a mannequin.
  • One 2007 episode of Smackdown featured Krissy Vaine debuting after a match with Torrie Wilson and Victoria and beating the crap out of Torrie. She had one backstage segment next week and was never seen again. Behind the scenes she decided wrestling wasn't the right career for her and promptly left. Of course she also injured Torrie's back while training and that resulted in Torrie having to retire from wrestling completely.
  • Recent examples from TNA would be Samoa Joe's abduction (...by ninjas) and the mystery Ace of Spades assailant. Both seem to have been dropped in favour of another mystery angle. Again, Vince Russo.
  • Before a Pay-Per-View match, Booker T and John Heidenreich were in a locker room when a manila folder was slipped under the door which was addressed to Booker. Inside it was just a piece of paper that said "I still remember". It was never mentioned again.
    • Allegedly, this was going to be a note from Goldust that would facilitate his return, but it ended up never happening.
  • Hey, remember when David Otunga threatened Wade Barrett that he was going to reveal the reason The Nexus attacked The Undertaker and cost him his "Buried Alive" match with Kane? The Creative team apparently doesn't.
    • It was allegedly supposed to push Barrett vs Taker at Wrestlemania 27 but it was aborted when Triple H came back.
  • Now we have the Anonymous Raw General Manager storyline to add to the list. For months on end, an anonymous General Manager was making matches on Raw through a laptop at the side of the ring, next to the commentary tables. The storyline has apparently been ditched without the audience ever discovering the GM's identity.
    • A similar but far worse case would be the "GM-less" era. Back in December 5, Eric Bischoff was leaving the company(being fired in kayfabe) leaving the position of Raw GM vacant. For the first few weeks, this was treated as a huge deal; Raw was in a state of anarchy with no one to keep things under control. Various people were teased as the next GM, such as Shane'o'Mac and Dusty Rhodes, and various wrestlers schemed to convince Vince to give them the job. Eventually the storyline was dropped with Vince more or less running the show but with the GM's office remaining vacant. The issue wasn't addressed for a year and a half, when Vince decided it was time for him to get off tv.
  • WCW never did reveal who Diamond Dallas Page's mystery benefactor in the white gloves was.
  • Speaking of WCW, the mystery of the Hummer driver went on so long, it seemed like it would eventually wind up here, until finaly they did reveal who it was, but so far after the fact that no one really cared anymore.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Vampire: The Masquerade had innumerable half-finished non-runners, especially when it came to details like the end of the world. Most notable was the pathetic Rasputin plotline, wherein Rasputin (THAT Rasputin) was actually a Tremere who had somehow found a way to essentially become Caine, so that God/Karma could kill him instead, thus averting complete obliteration of the vampire species.
    • Vampire: The Requiem has a lot of potential aborted arcs. The possibility that Anoushka (Vlad Dracula's daughter) is The Unholy (superpowered urban legend force of nature) is toyed with again and again, and finally thrown away in the Immortal Sinners supplement. Thankfully, the in-character artifact clanbooks allowed the various freelance writers to wrap up their pet storylines, with the unfortunate side effect of so many of those favorite storylines being given pat Word of God bullshit tie-ups to shut the fans up.
    • The "Glass Armonium" MacGuffin shut down many plot hooks.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The American version of Kristina från Duvemåla cuts out the significant plot point of the majority of the immigrants being killed in a Sioux attack after Kristina's miscarriage. (Presumably for the sake of political correctness, since the songs are left in their full length but with different lyrics, thus saving no time.) However, the event is still foreshadowed in "Queen of the Prairie"/"Wild Grass" through the fur trader's warnings, leaving it as a unresolved thread to audiences unfamiliar with the original story.
  • The Taming of the Shrew begins with the premise that the play is a play within a play being presented to a drunkard named Christopher Sly, who is being fooled into thinking he is actually a rich and prestigious man as a prank. After the initial set-up, this is never brought up again.
    • Some adaptations bring back Sly in an epilogue.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • Sometimes, at Disney Theme Parks, Imagineers will add something to an attraction while it's being built for some purpose, only to eventually go in a different direction, leaving an element in the attraction that leads nowhere. Some examples:
    • The nods to dragons and unicorns in Animal Kingdom were hinting towards a land that they ended up never building, Beastly Kingdom, focusing on fantasy creatures. The only things left of that (so far) are a dragon shaped rock formation near Camp Minnie Mickey, a bridge that looks like the entrance to a castle, and the big dragon who appears on the park's logo to the confusion of many a guest. The concept of including mythological creatures into the park was eventually picked up by Expedition Everest's Yeti, but has yet to be paid off in full.
    • The animatronic raven in The Haunted Mansion was originally going to be the "narrator" of the ride, which ended up being much better implemented with the "Ghost Host" being piped in through the Doom Buggy's individual speakers. The ravens, however, are still situated throughout the ride, flapping and beaking as if they were saying something.
    • In the super-secret-invite-only Club 33 restaurant, several disused animatronic animal heads hang from the wall. Walt had planned to be able to speak through them to his guests. The idea was abandoned because it was deemed too silly for a high-class restaurant, and because of privacy concerns. The idea sort of came to fruition at the recently shut-down Adventurers' Club in Disney World's Pleasure Island.
    • These are also a form of Dummied Out.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • After the Tamagotchi fad died out in the late 1990's, Bandai America cancelled the planned release of an insect-themed virual pet, known as Tamagotchi Garden.
    • Much later, Bandai US also cancelled the release of a planned update to the Tamagotchi Music Star product (known as the "World Tour Edition"), in order to introduce the Tama Town By Tamagotchi line. This edition would have involved the player's character performing in venues all around the world.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Near the beginning of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Gepetto explains that Yuri is gathering a great deal of Malice, hatred spawned by slain demons. (This was an important game mechanic in the original.) His Malice even spawns a Boss Battle, Arachne. After that fight, the Malice is never mentioned again until Stupid Nicolai unleashes it all on the world, which sets up the plot of From the New World.
  • In Primal, Scree grills Jen about her Power Tattoo, saying the symbol is very important, and asking where the designer saw it. While the same symbol is seen all throughout the game, we're never told why it's so important, or what it means.
  • In the early days of Toontown Online, there was a video played during the download that featured a giant robot who was brought to life by Scrooge McDuck that creates the first Cogs, who would then go on to endlessly manufacture more. This video was taken down on some countries' versions of the site, particularly the American one. Since then, the releases of the Cog HQ's have made it seem like the four types of Cogs are separately ruled by four different bosses. However, defeating the CEO results in hearing a bit of his dialogue about the "Chairman," who some fans think will turn out to be the robot from the download video, but several still disagree.
  • All Mega Man X games up through X5 shed some light into the backstory of Zero, hinting time and again that he's originally a Robot created by Dr. Wily of the previous series, and that he (Zero) is the true cause of the Maverick uprisings. X5 is supposed to be the Grand Finale of the X series, so this was naturally a given that the plot be somehow resolved in that game. And then, Post Script Season kicked in, and aside from a few nods here and there this plot twist was never adhered to again, and the X series moved on to a different story direction. Ironically, even if fans disregard the post-script series, Mega Man Zero didn't fare too well on elaborating Zero's backstory either.
  • Happens occasionally in City of Heroes.
    • A few epic archetypes, the Avilians and Blood of the Black Stream are referenced in the game but never seen while Incarnates were promised early on but never appeared until it was revealed that a certain few NPCs are of this type but the archetype is still not available to players. Also there is The Coming Storm, which has been coming for well over a year now and has not had any updates in just as long.
    • Each contact (Quest giver) has at least one group of missions that tells a story between them. Since you're not obligated to accept future missions from a contact if you don't want to, you can abandon arcs all on your own.
  • The "runner assassins" in Mirrors Edge are dropped without a trace. They appear in one mission and are made a big deal of, show up in one more mission as enemies, and then just disappear. Word of God has it that great swathes of her storyline were hacked out of the final product due to time constraints.
  • There are so many of these in World of Warcraft that they could form a folder all to themselves, although it's worth noting that Blizzard Entertainment has been revisiting some of them. A very concise summary:
    • The Chained Essence of Eranikus quest line from Sunken Temple ended with the Plot Coupon being handed to an NPC in Winterspring, with a promised followup that never occurred. Later, Eranikus was summoned and redeemed by players as part of the Ahn'Qiraj opening quest line, but the quests themselves are completely unconnected in gameplay terms.
    • The Discs of Norgannon quest line, available to players after defeating Uldaman, was left hanging after the discovery of Uldum in Tanaris. This lasted for close to three years before Brann Bronzebeard began investigating Ulduar in Storm Peaks, using a similar set of discs as the Plot Coupon. That, too, was left hanging until the opening of Ulduar as a raid dungeon in patch 3.1. Uldum itself was be opened as part of the Cataclysm expansion, reveal to be an entire zone which was previously hidden. However, the disks found in Uldaman (and the second set of disks that you were told that you needed to enter Uldum), turned out to be unnecessary and were forgotten about.
    • The Missing Diplomat quest line started in Stormwind and took players up to the reveal of King Varian Wrynn's abduction by the Defias Brotherhood. It was never followed up in-game, but did receive extensive treatment in the tie-in comics and novels. Come Wrath of the Lich King, Varian suddenly reappeared in charge of Stormwind with a Darker and Edgier look and a microscopically thin in-game explanation.
    • The human kingdom of Kul Tiras is not even shown on the map, despite the fact that a large number of NPCs are stated to have come from there (including the entire human population of Theramore). Blizzard has openly admitted that there are presently no plans to formally add the island nation to the game. Gilneas was in a similar situation until Cataclysm was announced.
    • The supposed alliance between the Blue Dragonflight and the Ethereum during the Nexus War in WotLK.
    • The "Purification of The Ashbringer" subplot. The Ashbringer is a powerful holy sword, owned by the paladin Alexandros Mograine and lost when he fell to darkness. The corrupted version could be acquired in old Naxxramas, kicking off a quest chain that ended with the promise of purifying the Ashbringer in a future expansion. Come Wrath of the Lich King, Darion Mograine, the son of the original bearer, gives it to uber-Paladin and general messianic Badass Tirion Fordring in the midst of a Heel Face Turn. Tirion's faith in turn purifies the Ashbringer. Players who owned the original sword were left disappointed.
    • The Vashj'ir storyline, and the war between the naga and Neptulon's forces. Toward the end of the storyline, Neptulon is forced to retreat to the Throne of the Tides, and at the end of the Ozumat encounter, he is abducted by Ozumat again after players reduce Ozumat to around 10% HP. There was going to be a 5-man dungeon in the Abyssal Maw, in which players would go inside the third ancient of Vashj'ir, and among other enemies, fight the Battlemaiden they had been controlling in the past visions quests. Blizzard scrapped the Abyssal Maw zones, deciding that Throne of the Tides was the conclusion to the storyline.
  • No less than two separate examples of this in Breath of Fire IV:
    • Thanks to Capcom's Bowdlerization of non-Japanese, non-Playstation versions of the game, there is an Aborted Arc where Fou-lu is stabbed by Soniel...and then after Fou-lu looks astonished, the game fades to black. In the Japanese versions, this goes to Fou-lu dementedly laughing about foolish mortals, then the screen goes to black-on-red silouhette as Fou-lu goes Ax Crazy and decapitates Soniel with the very sword he pulled out of his own back. This would normally fall under What Happened to the Mouse?, but as this is actually a major plot-point in the game, it's better treated here.
    • Game designers were intending to kill Yuna off in the original script. In fact (according to Word of God) they had not one but two proposed methods: Mauling By Fou-Lu's Foo Dogs, or General Rhun killing him—neither of these got implemented, though, because the game ended up on a very tight schedule due to (at the time) a very real fear of Game Publisher Existence Failure and they didn't have time to code that part of the script. Yuna's death ended up just not happening.
    • The manga adaptation of IV gave some satisfaction on one end, and Much Cursing Ensued on the other. The manga adaptation of the scene between Fou-lu and Soniel features Fou-lu literally backstabbed and run completely through--with Fou-lu manifesting an energy sword and decapitating him whilst still having the Dragonslayer sticking through him; Fou-lu then shoves this out by hand. Truly a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Yuna, on the other hand, survives—and this is especially maddening, seeing as other material in the artbook that didn't get the chance to be included in the game was included in the manga. This also pretty makes Yuna a complete Karma Houdini.
  • Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier gave Daxter a Dark Eco-powered Evil Side just like his buddy Jak. It had interesting story potential since the Exclusively Evil Dark Makers were Precursors corrupted by Dark Eco, and Daxter was revealed to be a Precursor in the third game. Of course, this proceeded to go absolutely nowhere.
  • The bundled documentation of Escape Velocity Nova mentioned TCTLIDS, and its use to create a Fantastic Drug called FATE. The game's FAQ reveals that TCTLIDS was supposed to stand for "The Creature That Lives In Deep Space" before being removed from the Nova universe during its development.
  • Capcom left the original Dino Crisis story hanging, in favor of Dinosaurs In SPACE In the Future for the third (and final) installment.
  • It has been speculated that Chrono Cross was originally intended to contain a subplot going into greater detail about Serge's role as the Arbiter of the Frozen Flame. More generally, there are suspicions that Chrono Cross was intended to be significantly longer than it was, as many of its plot threads are concluded only in the form of a massive Info Dump right before the final battle that was added to the North American version of the game.
  • In chapter one of Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth decides to commit a vampire's name to memory after hearing about it after performing soul transfer on Belenus. However, we don't actually meet this vampire.
  • In the second Black Mirror game, there is talk early in the game of a woman named Kerry who committed suicide in the small Maine town. You never hear of her again once you leave the town.
  • In Gears of War 2, Delta Squad visits New Hope, an abandoned COG research facility filled with horrible humanoid mutants called "Sires." They are never explained in the game canon, the only evidence about them came from an Epic developer's post on the official forums where he claimed their story had been cut from 3. Essentially, they were performing horrible research on humans and Myrrah was one of the subjects. With her Human/Locust hybrid DNA, she was able escape and become leader of the Locust horde.
  • In Super Princess Peach, there are a series of cutscenes that talk about Perry (Peach's talking umbrella), and how he was once human. However, this never expanded upon and we never learn who was responsible.
  • Freya in Final Fantasy IX appears this way as she and her relationship with Fratley was never explored. We'll never know what's his deal.
  • In Mass Effect 2, much is made of a star that is aging too quickly, and one of the few mandatory missions involves recovering data on it. This data is considered important enough that the Quarians are willing to sacrifice whole teams of elite commandos in order to obtain it. Come the third game, this is never mentioned again. This was originally going to be the motive behind the Reaper cycle. Use of the Mass Relays causes dark energy (which is what was prematurely aging the star) to spiral dangerously out of control, threatening the whole galaxy. The Reapers cull advanced civilizations to stop this from happening. However, the departure of several key dev members caused Bioware to change it to the, uh, controversial motivation that we actually got.
  • Ike and Elincia had a far amount of Ship Tease in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, which pretty much dissappeared without a trace in the sequal, Radiant Dawn.
  • In The Devil on G-String, if you take Tsubaki or Mizuha's paths, the entire story around international mafia overlord Maou is straight up abandoned. Unlike many examples of this trope, the abortion, at the very least in the Tsubaki route, is fully acknowledged by Haru saying to leave the Maou issue to her during the final scene in the school, followed by a few lines in the final scene reminiscing about how she was only there for 3 months and left.
    • It persists for a little bit if you take Kanon's route, given the nature of the story.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • El Goonish Shive
    • The comic was going to have Ellen become an alcoholic, but Dan felt that would be too dark. Considering the Cerebus Syndrome of recent arcs, this seems kind of hypocritical. The way Dan gets out of this is beautiful in its Lampshade Hanging. A Foreshadowing sequence has Ellen out all night, Fairy-Doll-Nanase crying, and a six-pack of beer missing from the Dunkels' fridge. One How We Got Here sequence later, all this has been resolved without the beer even being opened, and Eliot puts it back behind the Red Herring in the fridge.
    • Sensei Greg, Lord Tedd, and several other characters have disappeared or show up almost never. Sensei Greg has now returned, but whether or not Lord Tedd's arc will actually be concluded is still up for grabs. Dan has admitted that he introduced the Lord Tedd thing a LOT sooner than he really should have, but he still intends to get back to it and wrap it up eventually. Just don't hold your breath on it.
    • The Susan school uniform storyline was recently given a very abrupt, almost Ass Pull-level resolution, thanks to the Ellen and Nanase storyline running way, way too long (though the characters don't think it was any less abrupt than the readers did).
  • Megatokyo
    • As of this writing, the webcomic has abandoned the "conscience" arc, supposedly because Fred Gallagher took offense at some fans calling them "insects" (particularly because the arc's protagonist is based off his own wife). Seraphim, Asmodeus, and Boo only have the occasional appearance nowadays, while Seraphim's sister has more or less disappeared entirely. The last two chapters also did not have a CEA "check-in" at the end, as had been the norm; however, a new aspect was introduced in chapter 8 ("big mode"), so there's hope yet.
    • Specifically it was the "Seraphim's sisters" arc that was pulled to a quick close and never revisited. It's likely the original three consciences have fewer appearances these days because there's little time for them given everything else that's going on. It also can be argued that Piro and Largo need their help less and less as the story progresses.
    • Not to mention the complete abandonment very early on of what was essentially the founding premise of the series: trying to get back to America.
  • Occurs in an arc of Pv P, where the characters had travelled back in time, but quickly wrapped up halfway through due to fan complaints. The writer later said he regretted buckling under the pressure.
  • Melonpool abandoned three arcs back to back in favor of continuity reboots.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, the older Dr. Crabtree arc was concluded rather abruptly with her death by an EMP (long story...) with Torg, unaware of this event, saying he sensed a million plot threads crying out at once and suddenly stopping.
  • Steve, a secondary character in Questionable Content, fell off the map for a while after getting a new girlfriend, Meena, who was living with her ex-boyfriend, Dave, who she broke up with because he was "too perfect" for her. Recently, he reappeared, revealing in a series of flashbacks that Meena had married Dave, and then we see a series of almost nonsequitur flashback images that have nothing to do with this point.
  • X-Entertainment's photo comic Cobra's Chia Plot, in which some Cobra soldiers grow a Chia Pet. The fourth installment ended on a cliffhanger where one of the Joes asks the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for help, but the fifth installment was never posted.
    • The 2008 Advent Calendar was put in a similar limbo. The 2009 calendar dedicated much of its time with making up for it.
  • Furry webcomic Fuzzy Things had an ongoing subplot about spoiled sparrow Shiva trying to find the whereabouts of her old teacher. Eventually, kid genius Rex was able to get her access to a restricted database that contained the answer she was looking for. This subplot is then never brought up again.
  • In order to keep the self-imposed PG rating, Housepets decided to drop the catnip arc early. Considering the one comic that he put up in the extras section was especially squicky...
  • Nedroid often has story arcs that quickly dissolve and quietly buried.
  • Scary Go Round had a time travel segment that dropped suddenly. Two girls travel to the 1800's and are getting caught up in a cult and prophesy. Then their comrade from the present alters time at the moment they steal a time-pot
  • At the beginning of Looking for Group, the main plot revolved around the group searching for a mysterious "Sword of Truth" that would ostensibly be used to settle a debt owed by one of the group members to a powerful Commander from the Legaran military. But once the group went to war with Legara, the Sword seemingly dropped off the map, with the closest thing to a mention being the "Fork of Truth" that shows up from time to time as a joke. While some foreshadowing hints that the Sword will have a major part to play in the end of the story, the search for the Sword has seemingly disappeared.
  • The Japanese Beetle started a storyline where America was meant to be the villain...just before 9/11, at which point author Dave White openly admitted to dropping the idea, saying that it felt inappropriate. This also happens in-story, as the original plot is literally interrupted by the World Trade Center attack, and both the plot and the new character introduced specifically for it simply disappear.
  • Webcomic Tweetics spent a considerable amount of time building up to a plot to take over the Vatican before the entire plot (and characters) were dropped entirely with no resolution.
  • A yearly tradition at Platypus Comix involved the addition of a new chapter to Keiki's Huge Christmas Epic," which detailed the consequences of Santa Claus giving Andrea an infinite number of wishes for December. The comic began in 2002, but the author hasn't added any chapters since 2007. Word of God says there was never a definite plan for a story, and the previous chapters didn't get many hits.
  • The love letter arc from Original Life. Maybe. It has the tendency to pop up whenever people least expect it and then get dropped again right away.
  • This conversation from Homestuck explains the abortion of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff's nacho party arc.

DAVE: making a ten part story about nachos was always a bullshit idea

  • Duane from Penny and Aggie, in the era when the authors still hoped to make it a print comic, uses the phrase "that's just gay," and Aggie, while she doesn't comment, is startled at his homophobia. Over the coming years, the relationship between the eponymous pair becomes a Slap Slap Kiss lesbian romance, and the Coming Out Story of Sara and, to a lesser degree, Stan, becomes a major subplot... and T (Gisèle having left) would rather write it off, despite his earlier assurance that it would be a plot point.
    • The filler story "Min-Jung", which took place in South Korea and featured none of the regular cast, was initially explained to have great impact on the latter stages of the comic. When years passed and "Min-Jung" never got a reference again, T eventually admitted he hadn't found a place for it. The rather hostile reaction to the arc probably aided this. In the strip's epilog, Yun-Sung, the main character, finally puts in a small appearance as Duane's girlfriend at a 5-year high school reunion. She was really just used as an exposition device for the a few dangling plot threads related to Duane and Charlotte.
  • The Bandit Ringtail guest comic from Nip and Tuck ended with one of these. Bandit meets Sierra and she calls him out on getting into a fight that he couldn't hope to win, and then she kisses him on the cheek. The guy that Bandit fought mocks him for losing, then gets challenged to a fight by a very large, very muscular female boxer. And then it cuts out. There's no scene of the guy getting his butt kicked, no scene of Bandit leaving Malarky County, nothing.
  • Good Luck Eyepatch-tan! has the Pokémon/Kamen Rider Divurtle arc, which ended abruptly on strip 48 due to technical difficulties. While Nocchifire, the author, initially promised that it would return, he eventually abandoned that idea and decided to scrap that arc altogether.
  • What's referred to as the Black and White Era of Voodoo Walrus aborted what looked to be a story arc involving the duo being forced into a making a movie.
    • Word of God suggests that this occurred to artistic burnout which quickly led to a year long hiatus for the comic.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Given that the basis of Survival of the Fittest is for characters to be killed off, this tends to happen a good deal. Many a character has died before fulfilling every goal their handler wanted to achieve with them. Outside circumstances—such as other characters in the planned arc being unavailable, also contribute to this occurring.
    • For example, Madelaine Shirohara (of the first game) was originally supposed to be killed by Psychopathic Manchild Cillian Crowe, then his handler abruptly disappeared. The arc that replaced this one, though, was arguably one of the best in SOTF history, so it isn't all bad.
  • Tech Infantry was full of aborted arcs, thanks to its multiple-author nature and Creator Breakdown.
    • A planned subplot with the Von Shrakenberg family getting involved with a Corrupt Corporate Executive was quietly dropped when Erich got too busy trying to fight a losing war.
    • Icarus Hicks' planned Batman Gambit using mind control to fix EVERYTHING wrong with the universe died when his character was killed off due to Creator Breakdown.
    • Andrea Treschi's capture by the crew of the EFS Schaumburg was originally supposed to lead to both groups being forced to become anti-Federation rebels and go on the run together. The plan was aborted when the authors involved couldn't agree on a coherent plan for how to go about it. The various Author Avatar characters among the crew quietly drifted off to other assignments and other plot threads.
    • The mysterious Mr. Agli as supposed to tempt Erich Von Shrakenberg into rebelling against the Federation with warnings of an even worse plot to topple the Grand Council. The author involved couldn't make the plot work, so it was quietly dropped shortly thereafter in favor of trying to stop another character's planned overthrow of the government through different means.
      • Which led to another Aborted Arc when Andrea Treschi's Batman Gambit involving bringing disgraced politician Samuel Wall back from retirement and exile was brought to an abrupt end when Erich Von Shrakenberg turned down Wall's tempting offer and beat Wall's skull in with his own fireplace poker.
    • The entire Tech Infantry: Exodus spin-off project was aborted when the authors involved got too interested in world-building and map-creation and suddenly realized they'd forgotten to come up with a plot or characters to place in this 'verse.
    • And many, many more.
  • An early scene in Awkward has Lester remarking that Ernie's name rings a bell, which Kevin brushes off. This was originally supposed to lead to a confrontation between Lester and Ernie, complete with backstory, but had to be scrapped when Ernie's actor bailed on the project; Jermaine was brought in as a substitute jerkass for Lester to butt heads with and overcome.
  • An early plot in Valenth involved mysterious interdimensional entities known only as "the Presences" appearing and causing havoc, bringing hordes of imps with them. It Got Worse very quickly, with the near-extinction of several major species and a prominent NPC turning into a giant nightmare monster and going on a rampage. After one of the Presences was captured by Mad Scientists the others summoned their "master", Xilas the Cold—and the entire plotline was abruptly dropped. Almost a whole year later, after much Wild Mass Guessing by the userbase that every subsequent plot event had something to do with the Presences, the creator announced that the entire arc had been retconned away. It was never intended to be more that a small silly story for Halloween, but it had gotten completely out of hand and didn't work in canon.
  • MSF High Forum: Any time a GM quits, or a character with significant plot lines leaves.
  • The plotline about Willie's other allegiances was dropped midway through in the Anti Cliche and Mary Sue Elimination Society. Now subverted, as it's being reposted, albeit very slowly.
  • The Irate Gamer started an arc involving robots and said the next episode will be a finale. However, the next episode was about He-Man, with no mention of the robots.
    • Even earlier than that, the end of the |Aladdin episode had the Genie take refuge in IG's Game Genie. Three years later and this plot thread still remains hanging.
  • Behind the Veil has several, mostly due to players leaving and never returning. Key mention would be the long-running feud between Kathleen Allan and May Lawrence which ended when the latter's player disappeared and never returned.
  • Bionicle web-serial examples:
    • The arc: Four of the Barraki reuniting and leading a humongous army against the city of Metru Nui. What became of it: They just turned back, kinda. Reason: Writer's Schedule Slip.
    • The arc: The Shadowed One finding a cache of long-lost viruses, killing Ancient (his crime partner and a double agent for the good guys in secret), with the intention of using the viruses to take over the universe. What became of it: Nothing, just the needless killing-off of a potentially interesting character (and plot). Reason: Schedule Slip.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Danny Phantom: Vlad's plans with Fright Knight, the Crown of Fire, his Elaborate Underground Base, and his acquirement of Axion Labs. Executive Meddling played a part in it all. For that matter Danny and Valerie's Dating Catwoman plotline.
    • Not to mention the return of Danny's evil older self, which was hinted at at the end of his sole appearance.
    • At the end of the last episode beforethe Finale, Valerie discovers that Vlad (who gave her her weapons) and Danny's "cousin" Danielle are halfas. She implies she'll do something about it. Then comes the finale, and nothing happens.
  • A Season 4 episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ended with the people of the USA becoming aware of the turtles' existence after the president (no, not him; different guy in this) came face to face with them and mistook them for aliens. Three seasons later and so far this hasn't been addressed or mentioned. More glaringly, an ongoing plot in the series' sixth season, featuring Corrupt Corporate Executive Darius Dun, was aborted when the series was re-retooled and the turtles were sent back into the present.
    • A LOT of the 2003 TMNT series' story arcs went nowhere due to Executive Meddling. Not only was the sixth season's story (Fast Forward) supposed to continue so that it could wrap up the hanging threads there, but the shoehorned seventh season's story arc (Back to the Sewer) was also supposed to wrap up ALL loose plot threads in an arc called "The Shredder Wars"... before the series was canceled. Granted, the series was then finished off with a mega-crossover love letter to fans TV movie, but that never wrapped up anything other than the final fate of a couple of series regulars.
  • In the Season 2 finale of Code Lyoko, Franz Hopper, in his diary, mentions that Lyoko and XANA were originally created to stop a certain "Project Carthage", a military program designed to "disrupt enemy communications". This led to the expectation that the next season would deal with the Project somewhat, while delving into Lyoko's history some more. Not so. Season 3 took off in an entirely different direction, and other than the Fanon assumption that "The Men in Black" seen throughout the show are from this organization, Project Carthage is never, ever mentioned again. For two seasons. Not even when the show ends.
    • As well as the unresolved storyline with the fate of Aelita's mother that was teased throughout season 4 and never resolved.
  • In Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable has a romantic arc with Zita Flores, a cute girl who seems to share his interests in gaming and entertainment, albeit not identically (she is a fan of sword-and-sorcery RPG's, whereas Ron is a straight FPS and Action/Adventure gamer). After two episodes and a meeting in a movie which might be construed as a first date, followed by joining forces in an MMORPG plot, she is not seen until the Grand Finale, where she's randomly paired off with Felix the wheelchair guy.
  • The season one finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender features Aang meeting the potent character Koh the Face Stealer, who ominously says "We'll meet again," as Aang leaves. They never did, but it can be easily fanwanked that Koh was talking about a future Avatar.
    • In a series of flash games that take place between seasons 2 and 3, they do meet again and Koh is more than a little eager to pay Aang back for escaping the last time they met.
    • Zuko's mom, who was brought up several times (even in the epilogue of the final episode), has not been heard of. Even with the implication that she might not be dead. Then again, this may be less of an Aborted Arc and more of some kind of Sequel Hook.
    • In one episode of the third season, Iroh reveals that Zuko is descended from Avatar Roku and gives him the crown Sozin wore when he was a prince. What comes out of it? Nothing. The incident is never spoken of again and the crown is never seen again.
      • The incident is never spoken of again, but when Zuko ascends the throne in the finale, you can see him wearing it.
  • Birdboy's debut episode in Birdman ended with Birdman promising to help him find his father, and the search was occasionally brought up in Birdboy's later appearances. However, nothing ever came of it.
  • Word of God has confirmed that Justin's role as antagonist in the earlier episodes of Total Drama Action was deliberately dropped because they realized that he was way too self-absorbed to ever fully put his head in the game; his claims of being a master strategist were all his ego talking. Alejandro, a character that debuted in the following season, is essentially what they wanted with Justin.
  • In an early Gargoyles episode, Demona is left thinking that Elisa is dead, which Goliath says is probably for the best for now. Nothing really came of it before she saw Elisa alive again in the season one finale, probably because the writers realized how hard it would be to keep Elisa's existence a secret from Demona while she was still living her normal life.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle had a storyline about Boris counterfeiting cereal box tops to procure all the prizes from cereal promotions and ruin the world economy. This did not sit well with General Mills, the show's sponsor (and owner, who likely thought it was inappropriate case of Biting the Hand Humor), and "The Great Box Top Caper" was stopped after a few episodes.
  • In the third series of Transformers Generation 1, Blitzwing began to have doubts about the Decepticon cause, and a deleted scene even has him considering joining the Autobots. The writers wanted him to become an Autobot in a later episode; however, the editors forced them to instead give this arc to new toy Octane.
  • Two cases in Max Steel; a flashback shows that Jefferson Smith's predecessor as CEO of N-Tek (and, by extension, the man in charge of the secret espionage division) was a man named Marco Nathanson, who bore an uncanny resemblance to season one Big Bad John Dread. According to the original producer, this was actually meant as a Red Herring, though later said by others to be exactly what it looked like, but neither interpretation is followed up on. Even more blatant, the episode Truth be Told features real-life athlete Jeremy McGrath discovering that the protagonist and his friends are ex-secret-agents-turned-vigilantes, and he suggests bringing in one or two friends he has on the sports circuit who could help the heroes save the day on occasion. This is the final scene of the episode, except the episode is also the Series Finale. Along with half the premise of the show, this was never picked up on in the subsequent made-for-TV movies.
  • As Told by Ginger has a particularly jarring one in the episode Wicked Game: a deeply involved plot about a plan involving Ginger's best friends to break her and Darren up. In a series that normally follows things through, the sudden lack of consequence to this episode is especially jarring.
  • In the third season of King of the Hill, an ongoing plot thread dealt with Hank and Peggy attempting to have another baby but failing due to Hank's narrow urethra. What made this more aggravating for the Hills was that Hank's father Cotton had somehow managed to impregnate his wife Didi, with Cotton being 75 and Didi the same age as Hank. This thread followed only into the first episode of the following season and was then dropped.
  • Due to being Screwed by the Network, Batman the Brave And The Bold had to abort the Shards of Equinox arc, an arc that would have focused on finding the various personality shards of Equinox that were scattered through the universe.
  • Due to being Screwed by the Network, Transformers Animated left a few plot threads hanging, such as Meltdown making a return, Waspinator coming up with a plan while putting himself together, where Sari's protoform came from, and both Lockdown and Swindle escaping.
  • Inverted in Season Three of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Governor Roshti from the Kidnapped arc was originally going to be a friend of Ahsoka Tano's parents, but the writers didn't intend to do anything with this, so it was cut so that the fans wouldn't think it was this trope.
  1. Where were these people when every Batman villain ever was introduced?