Cut Short

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"At that moment, in the town of Coeur d'Coeurs, events occurred that are not, were not, and should never be considered an ending. For endings, as it is known, are where we begin."

Narrator, Pushing Daisies, "Kerplunk" (final line of series)

The polar opposite of a Grand Finale: a series ends abruptly, without resolution of its basic premise, due to some unplanned event such as Cancellation or Author Existence Failure. The story does not end, it simply stops in medias res, possibly with a Cliff Hanger. In a few lucky cases, The Resolution Will Not Be Televised, but goes directly to DVD. In even luckier cases the series will be able to Wrap It Up with a miniseries or theatrical film. More often than not, however, there is no final resolution.

Even more frustratingly, often shows create Myth Arcs haphazardly, stringing viewers along and never really intending to offer any conclusion to the story arcs they tell the first 2/3s of, or answering the questions they raise. This is called The Chris Carter Effect, and it typically occurs when They Just Didn't Care.

Sadly common in Web Comics, since these are often one-man shows, and hobby ones at that, and Real Life Writes the Plot (or doesn't, to be accurate) when the authors get too busy to continue. Moreover, quite a few television shows had also got cut short by The Writer's Strike of 2007. Some did manage to continue, but others were left in the dust. For that matter, pretty much every single Western animated series with a series-long plot arc tends to suffer from thin trope. It'd be easier to just list those that weren't Cut Short.

Compare No Ending, in which there is a deliberate decision to end a work abruptly. Can also happen to curses. If it doesn't deal with the major plot issues, a Gecko Ending will include this. See also Dead Fic, Left Hanging, Orphaned Ser

As an Ending Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Cut Short include:

Anime and Manga

  • Yamato Gensouki.
  • The anime version of Ranma ½ abruptly ended about two-thirds of the way through the story. The manga continued to the Grand Non-Finale.
    • Anime based upon Rumiko Takahashi's manga seem usually subject to this. The anime versions of Ranma ½, Urusei Yatsura, and Inuyasha are all Cut Short. Possibly because Takahashi manga are so long. Urusei Yatsura did get a theatrical wrap-up, though.
      • Inuyasha was eventually finished with a second anime series called Inuyasha: The Final Act, which covered the manga from the point where the first series left off to its conclusion. It has been confirmed that The Final Act will be dubbed into English.
  • The original Bubblegum Crisis OVA is rather infamous for this. It got to about episode 8, which was a big Character Development moment for Nene Romanova and the Mid-Season Upgrade for everyone, and then... a combination of internal politics and budget issues caused a schism between the two companies that produced the show, ending production abruptly. Bubblegum Crash! tried sometime later to tie things up, but didn't have everyone on board, and the result was... not well received by fans.
  • Baccano!, its anime first episode is a huge indication of that, apparently the unknown blond girl sliced Isaac's ear off for no reason; her name is Adele by the way and she is a major character further where the anime left off. It seems Brain Base didn't expect this much of a flop; the series had to be cut short.
  • Silent Moebius ends like this. The manga, however, completes the story... and was released before the series, so its a rare case of the trope working in reverse.
  • The Left Hanging nature of Martian Successor Nadesico was intentional. The non-ending of its movie continuation was not, since it was a planned trilogy that had its second and third installments canceled.
  • Fire Candy ended with a particularly violent Cliff Hanger after only nineteen chapters, leaving the biggest part of the plot entirely untouched.
  • The anime version of Ai Yori Aoshi ended at volume 12 or so of the manga, leaving the "Kaoru and Aoi" plot thread unresolved. (The manga ran for 17 volumes and did have a proper ending.)
  • Gantz, or rather the anime version: due to the very slow updating of the source manga, only the first three arcs were adapted before a confusing filler ending concluded the series.
  • The Love Hina anime finished its first season, began setting up a second... before getting canceled a few episodes in and with zero resolution. Eventually, a few OVAs came out that tried to rush through the missing plot arcs.
  • The first anime version of Berserk notoriously ends at the conclusion of "Band of the Hawks", a very long flashback that explains How We Got Here for the first few episodes. Not only does this leave the series with a massive Downer Ending, it isn't clear how they'd get out (even though you know they do because of the opening episodes), because the Skull Knight - who rescues Guts and Casca in the manga - isn't in the anime.
  • Rozen Maiden, whose anime Overtook the Manga and whose manga tragically ended (but now it's starting again) with a Deus Ex Machina (and an apology) following a dispute between the producers and the publishers.
  • The Pretty Face manga was also cut short. While the ending was clearly intentional, only one of the major plot points was resolved on screen, and a whole additional year passed with the basic premise, with no clear reason why that didn't deserve to be shown, whilst the year we did see did.
    • Ditto Mx0. How the guy was able to continue illustrating after those is an incredible feat altogether.
  • Double Arts, a Shonen manga,had just finished setting up its premise, characters, the Big Bad, even debuted the titular fighting style,and it was really starting to distinguish itself from its generic beginnings... when the person writing the tale closed the book saying, "I may continue it... some other time".
  • Ditto To LOVE-Ru, which had a very very unsatisfying ending due to the Creator Breakdown the artist went through — the Girl Next Door was based on his wife, who turned out to be anything but a Girl Next Door: sleeping around on him, kidnapping their daughter, selling the daughter back to him, stealing his computers and life savings, and then threatening to sue him for the rights of the aforementioned Girl Next Door if he didn't end his hit series. The ending was extremely, extremely abrupt, solved no plot threads, and generally pissed off the fanbase — until Nico Nico Douga and 2Channel put together the news articles about the divorce and figured out what happened.
    • Even though the story has taken a rather drastic change in tone and major characters, it has seemed to successfully subvert this trope and is now continuing.
    • Now Kentaro Yabuki might try to fire back at his ex-wife with Mayoi Neko Overrun.
    • ...which has ben Cut Short as well, and far, far worse than To LOVE-Ru was - at least that had an ending of sorts. The last chapter of Mayoi Neko Overrun is the beginning of an Arc and it even tells the reader to check the next month for the continuation. Which doesn't exist.
  • The second series of Genshiken stops at a point in the storyline just before the eighth manga volume begins. It had previously added to and extended the manga's material in order to have enough for a third series.
  • The Narutaru anime ended at about halfway through the manga's story, giving next to no closure.
  • Depending on who you ask, The Big O qualifies. Some will argue that they tried to wrap it up when they discovered they wouldn't get a third season, others believe they left the end of season two as is in the hopes of getting a season three.
  • The Galaxy Angel anime parodies this. At the end of every single season, a huge cliffhanger is set up, and the next season makes absolutely no mention of it whatsoever.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors only had FOUR episodes made, there's no introduction of the plot from the manga or any explanation of why Count D does what he does, for a ten volume Manga (which is complete and with a sequel in progress) it is very disappointing that the anime didn't get into any of it.
  • The anime version of Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo ended so abruptly, even the characters were shell-shocked.
    • That's because there was a large petition (or something of the sort) from parents in Japan who thought the show was offensive, stupid, and encouraged bullying.
  • The Katekyo Hitman Reborn anime ended this way, right after the Future Arc when they come home, all they do is say that Tsuna needs more training before coming a boss and just stare at the sky right when the credits roll. The manga is still ongoing.
  • School Zone ends with the lead characters discovering what they have to do to put an end to the thirteen ghost stories... and ending the current crisis at the school as they start on it. It ends without their actually finishing their new task... and without fully resolving the subplot regarding the mystery of twins Mako and Miko.
    • The author seems to have a thing for this—or perhaps is just Screwed by the Network—because Presents ends the same way. The main plot thread is never resolved—after we finally get a hint how it might be a few chapters before the end—and the final collection ends with a piece that doesn't even match the theme of the rest of the series.
  • Ero-manga story Junk Story, featured in Eros Comix's Silky Whip Extreme ends with the heroine captured, waiting for a rescue by a character who appears to have been Killed Off for Real. This would just be a Downer Ending combined with No Ending, except for the fact that it leaves every single plot thread unresolved, and even introduces new plot threads that will never be resolved.
  • Final Fantasy Unlimited was cut short from the original 52 episodes to 24, resolving the latter parts with voiced dramas, books and a web novel that never see the light outside Japan.
  • Ah! My Goddess can't help it, since the manga source material shows no signs of proceeding to a conclusion.
    • It's completed now, with a resolution to the story arc that began in chapter 1.
  • OEL manga got hit hard with this around 2005. One example is Off Beat, the third and final volume of which has yet to see the light of day. Not many people read it, but those who did thought it was great.
  • The Aoi Hana anime cuts off right at the crucial moment at which Fumi realizes Akira was her first love. Originally more seasons were planned, but due to disappointing DVD-sales it's highly unlikely any more will be produced.
  • The SWOT manga ended rather abruptly at chapter 20, right after the conclusion of a fight that would've been building up to a Tournament Arc.
  • While Wild Knights Gulkeeva does end with the heroes having a showdown with the Big Bad, it's made clear that the main crisis befalling earth hasn't been averted yet and that the Big Bad's spirit still lingers in the parallel world the heroes hail from and needs to be defeated before earth is totally safe. In addition, The Dragon becomes The Unfought because he doesn't see The Hero as worthy of a battle yet (The Big Bad's physical form was defeated by a Deus Ex Machina partially powered by a Heroic Sacrifice), and on top of all that, a minor supporting character reveals his Face Heel Turn and there's a conversation with The Dragon vaguely talking about an Artifact of Doom MacGuffin. It's clear the show was setting up for another story arc, but was cut due to poor ratings.
  • The anime of Kare Kano got cut off after one season for several reasons, among them Studio Gainax having the usual Studio Gainax problems and, rather more importantly, the manga's author reacting very badly to the direction the anime took and pulling the rights.
  • Faeries Landing started off slow and then built up to ramming speed with the plot, finally hitting important and very well put together plots and scripts, introduced a new love interest, finally had the main heroine meet her parents completely and both the main villain of the heroine and the main villain of the hero attack their respective targets and just as the hero and heroine go towards their targets for battle...... the volume ends. What makes this a problem? The author dropped the series to start on another promising to come back for it and never doing so. Effectively the series ENDS on a cliffhanger just before the resolution!
  • The anime of Psychic Academy ends after the Beach Episode, barely a third of the way through the manga storyline. Not only does it not resolve the love triangle, it barely managed to finish defining it!
  • The Tokko anime ends on a cliffhanger with no resolution to the story. The manga also ends with no real conclusion, only a brief monologue by Ranmaru saying that the world ended two years later. with no further explanation
  • Zombie Powder ends without a conclusion or resolution to the story. Rumor has it that Tite Kubo had a Creator Breakdown that led to its cancelation.
  • A new addition is Domina no Do, where the manga just suddenly ends with no Character Development and nothing resolved.
  • The anime version of Souten Kouro stops suddenly after a minor battle in a new war that was only getting really started. The rest of the story is dealt with in a few screens of white text on black background right where the preview for the next episode would have been, for a very low value of "dealt with".

Comic Books

  • Cross Gen's entire Myth Arc was cut short due to financial collapse, and even the Wrap It Up mini series was nipped in the bud. Especially ironic for fans who were leery over getting involved due to having experienced the same thing with Valiant, a few years earlier.
    • The Cross Gen characters are now owned by Marvel and a revival of some kind is in the works.
  • The collapse of Dreamwave Comics cut several Transformers comics short; none of the titles were picked up by IGN.
  • The second volume of Batman Adventures, which had taken comic book tie-ins to cartoons to a new level; it was set in the DCAU after Batman: The Animated Series and during(ish) Justice League, acting almost like a sequel series with well-written stories that averted the original status quo while also bringing closure to various characters and foreshadowing new ones. It was canceled after only 17 issues to make way for The Batman's tie-in comic. Before going out, they were able to resolve some plot threads: revealing the truth behind the Penguin's mayoral election, having Penguin quit as mayor, making a major revelation about Poison Ivy which acted as her exit from the series, providing closure for the stories of Clayface and Mr. Freeze, and having Batman confront Joe Chill without even knowing it. But that also left various plot threads unresolved... The identity of the DCAU's new Red Hood who was only able to make one full panel appearance, the Phantasm's motivations for allying with him, the Riddler being left in a coma, Talia's reactions to being abandoned by Batman after taking a bullet for him, Eel O'Brien was introduced but never got around to becoming Plastic Man, and so on... On message boards creators Dan Slott and Ty Templeton have spoken of much more awesome sounding ideas for future issues which would tie DC Animated Continuity together in new and awesome ways... they had planned for up to their 40th or so issue!
  • Quantum and Woody was canceled suspended after issue #17, then resumed eleven months later with issue #34 as a meta Time Skip. The comic then resumed at #18, building towards the events in #34, but was canceled for good before that could be shown.
  • The 1980s UK Zoids comic (written by Grant Morrison) was canceled just as the story started to become really interesting.
  • X-Men Forever was intended to be an ongoing series that was cut short due to lackluster sales. it was an attempt for Chris Claremont to wrap up long simmering plot points from his original legendary run with X-Men from '74-'91. While some of the plot points were wrapped up, the comic was cancelled just as a whole new set of plot points had been introduced. However, while for most comic writers, this is a severe annoyance, for Chris, it was just Tuesday.
  • The Maggie the Cat mini-series, a spin-off from Jon Sable Freelance, was cancelled after two issues with no resolution.


  • "Woody's Roundup," the Toy Story 2 In-Universe children's show. The final episode featured Woody and Bullseye attempting to jump the Grand Canyon to rescue their friends the Prospector and Jessie from imminent destruction. The next episode never aired as the show was cancelled due to the launch of Sputnik.
  • An In-Universe example is found in Galaxy Quest; the original TV show the actors were in was cancelled, but the final episode ended with the words "Activate the Omega 13.". Fans had spent years trying to figure out what the Omega 13 might do, since there were no further episodes to show its use or effects.


  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens's last novel, was Cut Short when Dickens died halfway through writing. What made it even worse was that Drood was published serially, like all of Dickens' novels, thus frustrating his readers.
  • This appears to be the fate of the Erast Fandorin series of Russian mystery novels, at least for English-speaking readers. Thirteen books have been published in Russia but book #10, The Diamond Chariot, is the last to be translated into English.
  • Although the principal story is resolved, many, many plot points are never answered in A Series of Unfortunate Events. This is especially noticeable because the author makes the books constantly remind you of these points, and never answers most of them, actually making "you can never know all the answers" a major theme of the last book.
  • .Hack//Zero A series of novels set in the main .hack canon that tells the story of a (female) Heavy Axmen named Carl and her encounter's with Aura and Skeith/Sora. The series abruptly ended with no real resolution after it's first volume relegating Carl's story to side materials (She ends up Data Drained by Skeith apperntly) and since the .hack series as a whole has moved on a good number of years in the timeline(Being on the 3rd version of The World no) it shows no signs of ever being finished. It's also a case of No Export for You likely due to it's unifinished nature.

Live-Action TV

  • Dear John's star Ralph Bates died in 1991, so plans to continue the series were scrapped.
  • American Dreams
  • Ace Lightning
  • Brimstone
  • Commander In Chief
  • Drive
  • My Name Is Earl. While it was a comedy and therefore didn't have a huge Myth Arc or anything, it did have Earl's karma list. Also, for four seasons, viewers had never known who Dodge's father was (though Earl was not a likely candidate for several reasons) and had assumed that Darnell was the father of "Earl Junior" (given that they're both black, while Joy and Earl are white). The last episode suggests Earl may in fact be Dodge's dad, and proves that Darnell isn't Earl Junior's dad. The episode ended just as Joy was about to begin explaining, and then the series got canceled. We don't even know how far along on his list Earl was, or what all he had left to do.
  • Lois and Clark ends with them finding a baby that does not belong to them. There was going to be more explanation of the baby's origins had the show continued.
    • This was the same episode where they were told that Kryptonians are genetically incompatible with humans (or, at least, Clark and Lois aren't), destroying their hopes of starting a family.
  • Hotel Babylon: While not having many, if any, continuing story over the show the finale episode produced a huge amount of development and a rather cruel WHAM episode. This left the main character with a decision choosing between two potential love interests and overall what will happen to the hotel... and no ending was ever given because it was cut short due to low ratings.
  • Marker
  • The 1970s UK sci-fi show The Tomorrow People was cut short due to a strike at ITV. It was meant to end properly with an epic two-parter, but plans had to be scrapped.
  • Stargate SG-1: One of the lucky ones. The Ori Arc is concluded with The Ark of Truth, a direct-to-DVD movie.
    • They also averted it as they were able to wrap up the major, major plot points of the entire series by the end of Season 8. The Ori Arc was subsequently introduced as part of a Retool at the beginning of the ninth season.
    • They were also able to conclude another unfinished plot with a movie. The defeat of the villain Bal, who had been the last threatening Goa'uld in the series with the movie Stargate: Continuum
    • Ditto for Firefly, which got to wrap up several important plot points in Serenity.
  • The spinoff Stargate Universe was unceremoniously cancelled midway through its second season. The series ends on something of a cliffhanger, with no resolution whatsoever to any major plot arc. Almost the entire main cast goes into stasis pods for a projected three-year bypass of the galaxy that the Destiny is in. However, the crew is short by one (1) stasis pod, and whoever remains outside it would have only two weeks to live and attempt to repair it; if he or she leaves the life support on for any longer than that, Destiny will not have enough power to make it to the next galaxy for 1,000 years or more. Eli Wallace, of all people, elects to show that has indeed undergone Character Development, and remains outside the stasis pod. Whether he repairs it successfully or not, and the ultimate fate of the crew of the Destiny, are left completely indeterminate.
  • Time Trax
  • The Time Tunnel
  • Twin Peaks
  • Space Cases ends before any of the various mysteries could be solved or before the characters made it home.
  • Las Vegas
  • V.
  • Farscape; canceled on a cliffhanger, which was later resolved in the miniseries Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.
  • Joan of Arcadia ended right in the middle of a cliffhanger with God and the Devil fighting over her soul as a tick bite throws everything she's ever believed into question.
    • Season two ended with her meeting the mysterious Ryan Hunter, who apparently either also spoke to God in the past or spoke to the Devil or was the Devil.
  • In Hogan's Heroes, the ending may have been a Foregone Conclusion due to it being based on real history (the Allies would defeat the Germans and the characters would be liberated) but it was still never shown.
    • That said, the heroes and Klink had involvement in D-Day, Operation Valkyrie, and scuttling Germany's Heavy Water experiments.
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was canceled before it could resolve its Season Finale Cliff Hanger.
  • Tru Calling is (sadly for its unluckily small cult fanbase) an excellent example of this. Not only was the final episode never actually aired, but even the network's initial episode order for the second season turned out to be only 6 episodes... when the writers had not only obviously been settling in for the long haul by setting up an epic-level Myth Arc, but, according to the writing staff, they had already planned through episode eight of that season. Ouch.
    • Not to mention, the series was cut directly after the episode with extremely important plot lines - namely that Tru had just learned that others have her same powers... that other being her own father and Jason Priestley's character, although they both try to do the opposite of what Tru does i.e. make sure people stay dead..
  • The Pretender was canceled at the end of season four on a cliffhanger. There were two made-for-TV movies that continued the story, but didn't finish it. (There were supposed to be four movies made, but the last two were also canceled.)
    • Although, in the words of series creator Shaun Cassidy, "we saw the ending coming soon enough to wrap the story up," the last episode of American Gothic left a lot of unanswered questions: what did Merlyn's disappearance mean? Was her Heroic Sacrifice a failure, or not? Was she absorbed into Caleb? Does he now possess her powers and innate goodness with which to fight Buck's sinister influence? Will Gail still be under Buck's thrall, or will she snap out of her Chickification and bite him in the balls again? Will Selena ever stop going through that Heel Face Revolving Door? Is Buck going to succeed in corrupting Caleb or not? Even for a mystery show, and one which by its very nature is cyclical, not much makes sense here.
  • Profiler ended on a cliffhanger.
  • Night Court ended with an episode that seemed part Cliff Hanger and part Wrap It Up, with roughly one third of the cast electing to stay in their current jobs and half the cast moving on to some new life outside the courthouse. While some of these career changes seemed poised to start a spin-off series (Christine is elected to Congress) most of them seemed poised to continue the series. Perhaps the strangest of these was bailiff Bull Shannon being persuaded to leave Earth by humanoid aliens who needed a tall guy to reach the things on their high shelves...
  • The final episode of the sci-fi war series Space: Above and Beyond sets up a great cliffhanger, with two of the main characters trapped behind enemy lines, another main maimed and possibly near death, the battle plan Earth Forces had pinned all of their hopes on compromised...and then it's over. We never even find out if Earth wins the war or not. Thanks, FOX!
  • My Own Worst Enemy.
  • The 2002 sci-fi series Odyssey 5 ends with astronaut Angela Perry abducted by the AI's and scientist Kurt Mendel being arrested on suspicion of killing her. Plus the mysterious Cabal, which the team assume have something to do with the AI's and the impending destruction of the Earth, turn out to be a government force trying to stop the AI's and who believe that the Odyssey 5 team are the traitors.
  • Kyle XY ended with Kyle uncovering a nefarious plot and discovering the identity of his mother. It's left at a Cliffhanger with Kyle only partially stopping the plot. It's left unresolved who his true love interest is. Word of God described the rest of the series in broad strokes. Very annoying as the series was cancelled halfway through the season and no moves were made to provide even the slightest of a better resolution.
  • The last episode of John Doe before the cancellation reveals that one of the leaders of the Phoenix Organization appears to be John's best friend. Word of God claims that this is false, though, and the man was supposed to have been revealed an impostor who underwent plastic surgery.
  • The original Battlestar Galactica got cut short after the final episode "The Hand of God", although it did get a follow up of sorts with Galactica 1980, which original series fans prefer not to talk about, and which itself was canceled after only ten episodes. Then it got re-imagined into the retooled 2004-2009 Battlestar Galactica.
  • Sliders was canceled at the end of its fifth season on a Cliff Hanger, after a Psychic had just told the heroes that Everybody Is Going To Die. Fans were not exactly broken up about the finale, as the show hadn't been worth watching for years anyway.
  • The last episode of Carnivale left multiple plot threads unexplained, as well as introducing a Heel Face Turn and a resurrection in the last few minutes.
  • After three seasons of The Future saying that the main character, Tom Baldwin, was the key that would save the world, The 4400's fourth season ends with him contemplating a Promicin injection that he was already prophesized to take. Incoming super-powered badassery? Check. Possible conclusion to the main plot thread? Check. ...And then it got canceled.
  • Riget ended after two seasons with many loose ends due to a rare TV case of Key Person Existence Failure: two leading actors died, the risk of this having been heightened due to the lengthy gaps between seasons and the advanced ages of several characters.
  • Nowhere Man. Ended on a huge cliffhanger. Gets extra points since it was one of UPN's most-watched and most critically-acclaimed shows. Was replaced by a show that was so horrible that it didn't even last 10 episodes.
  • Reunion ended before its murderer could be revealed. A small but dedicated group of fans asked the producers to reveal the murderer, causing the producers to admit that they hadn't decided yet.
  • Angel is an odd example - it cuts short the resolution, as a result of cancellation, but it actually worked as the grand finale for the show - "You never stop fighting..."
  • Dark Angel. Screwed by the Network and replaced with a show that also got cut short.
  • Reaper.
  • The '90s AMC series Remember WENN ended with an unresolved cliffhanger after the network's new management abruptly canceled the show.
  • Soap. Creator Susan Harris had written out a five-season arc for the show, but it was yanked by the network after season four, leaving several unresolved cliffhangers in the finale.
  • The Upstairs, Downstairs spinoff Thomas & Sarah was supposed to have a second series, but this was wiped out by a technicians' strike at ITV. The first series had ended on an unresolved cliffhanger.
  • Besides those examples already listed above, any series which ends with the on-screen notice "to be continued" by default falls into this category.
  • My So-Called Life. Ended on a cliffhanger that would have been answered in Season Two.
  • Heroes ended with a cliffhanger that had clearly been intended to set up another season.
  • Intelligence was cancelled abruptly after two seasons. The last image of the series, therefore, was the main character lying in a pool of his own blood after being shot repeatedly, with no resolution.
  • Defying Gravity, after being Screwed by the Network, ends just as everything appears to be reaching a climax of sorts. The sets were destroyed by the time the episodes were shown, dashing all hopes of a revival. While by that point the identity of Beta was revealed, this only raised more questions than it answered. Word of God helped fill in some of the blanks but not enough to get an idea of where the show was going.
  • Drive only lasted 6 episodes with the final episode showing the main characters robbing a bank and one of them getting shot and bleeding badly.
  • Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior ends on a particularly cruel Cliff Hanger—barring a miracle, either one main character is dead or another killed a man in cold blood, and we'll never find out which it was.
  • Gilligan's Island never got a finale in the show itself. There were, however, a few TV movies that tried to wrap up the series.
  • Keen Eddie only got thirteen episodes, and only a handful were aired before it was canceled. Watching the rest of the episodes, especially the last, shows they were building up to something, and while there thankfully wasn't a cliffhanger, none of the character-arcs were even kinda resolved.
  • FlashForward - with only one season, it was never really given a chance to prove itself, so now the screwed-over viewers are left to wonder what may have been, what D. Gibbons' wall of crazy said, and why 2016 meant "The End".
  • The Black Donnellys ends on a major cliffhanger with many dangling plot threads and the central question (exactly what the cops want to know from Joey "Ice Cream" completely unanswered, or in this case, as it's a question, unasked)!
  • The HBO series Luck had good enough ratings to renew it early in its first season, but they were forced to cancel it when three horses died during production.
  • Being a Sketch Comedy, The Amanda Show itself didn't suffer from this after its abrupt cancellation, but Show Within a Show Moody's Point had ended the final season on a huge Cliff Hanger in which the main character learned that she'd been Switched At Birth and that she wasn't who she thought she was. Even creator Dan Schneider doesn't know what would have happened next, because he never got a chance to write it.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles ends abruptly due to this shortly after Angsty Teen!John Conner gets himself sent to a future where no one recognizes his name due to being pulled out of the timeline.
  • 2 Broke Girls was cancelled in April 2017 after six seasons, leaving the show to end on the sad note of Max and Caroline's broke problems never getting resolved.
  • Victorious was cancelled after three seasons of 57 episodes due to low ratings, with Tori's plan on becoming a pop star never completed.

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • Shenmue. The second installment ended with Ryo finally meeting Shenhua and discovering that the mirror he's been carrying does indeed have some sort of supernatural power. Then Yu Suzuki got the plug pulled on his series, so we'll never know the significance of this, nor Lan Di's ultimate role in the story. Then Suzuki quit at Sega, guaranteeing that we'll really never know how it all would have turned out.
  • The 1999 PC Survival Horror game Nocturne ended on a positively agonizing cliffhanger, which over a decade later has yet to be revisited thanks to the game's storyline morphing into BloodRayne. All is not lost, though: an interview with the developers stated that Nocturne is not Canon Discontinuity, and that they created Bloodrayne specifically to have an intellectual property they could relinquish to Majesco if and when they severed ties with the company. They still hope to release a true sequel to Nocturne someday.
  • Freedom Force 2 ends with the Jean Grey Expy, Alchemiss encountering an entity calling itself Energy X. Unfortunately, there has heen no confirmation one way or the other if we'll ever see a third game...
  • The Legacy of Kain series. The last game does give a glorious send off (of a sort) to one of its two main protagonists and does end on a hopeful note but the Big Bad is still at large and there's plenty of dangling story strings to be resolved. A final game to wrap the series up will almost certainly not be made due to the main writer departing and the death of one of the voice actors.
  • The Mega Man Legends series falls under this trope, in light of the Megaman Legends 3 cancellation by Capcom.
  • It would be easier to list multi-part modules for Neverwinter Nights/Neverwinter Nights 2 that managed to finish their plot than ones that don't.

Web Comics

  • Elf Only Inn, twice.
  • RPG World made it all the way up to the final battle before the Creator Breakdown the author had over people wanting him to finish the story before moving on to side projects finally made him give up on the whole thing.
  • Venus Envy.
    • Seems to be back, if sporadically, as of September 2009.
  • Pictures for Sad Children is an odd example of a webcomic doing this deliberately. The story of Paul and Gary just ended without any resolution; since this, Campbell has continued writing comics in the same style, just with no overarching plot or recurring characters.
  • Yehuda Moon and The Kickstand Cyclery ended in the middle of two story arcs because the artist couldn't fit it in between commitments.
  • It seems traditional for A Modest Destiny to be cancelled just as some sort of epic climax is about to occur (or, is in fact, occurring), only to be once again resurrected. Only to be cancelled again. Then resurrected. Then cancelled. There's a pattern here, is what we're saying.

Web Original

  • Many roleplays on The Gungan Council end short of the planned climatic grand finale.
  • Not quite an episode itself, but Smash Kingdom had the Sonic vs Mario clip, which ended with a cliffhanger as Super Sonic and Super Mario resuming their fight. However, it was not resolved in the last episode of the series.
  • Super Mario Bros Z had something similar happen: The episode sets up a cliffhanger for Episode 9 regarding Basilisx fighting Mario and Mario being at his mercy due to being poisoned. Unfortunately, thanks to a lack of motivation on Alvin Earthworm's part, the series got cancelled before Episode 9 got released.
    • Episode 9's first scene did get released, though. Unfortunately, it leaves it on a bigger cliffhanger with Mario and Luigi squaring down with Basilisx and Shadow with Mecha Sonic... On the other hand, the ending of the trailer, as posted on Alvin Earthworm's Deviant ART account, does have the words "The End?", implying the possibility that he might consider restarting the series at a later date.

Western Animation

  • Samurai Jack, until due to popular demand it got a final season in 2017.
  • About half of all animated adaptations of Spider-Man since the 1990s have suffered this:
    • Spider-Man Unlimited
    • Spider-Man: The Animated Series also suffered from this, cancelled entirely due to a Fox employee's fit of pique. While we did get something of a workable final episode, a few plot threads had to be forgotten; most notably the real Mary Jane was never rescued from limbo.
    • Another example is The Spectacular Spider-Man, who got cut short despite good ratings due to the shuffling of rights.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water was ended before they could gather all 13 McGuffins, or defeat the Big Bad.
  • The two American-made Humongous Mecha Animated Series from The Nineties, Exo Squad and BattleTech, both end with unresolved Cliff Hangers.
    • The last episode of Exo Squad ends with JT Marsh watching in horror as strange alien ships appear out of nowhere, steal Mars (yes, the whole planet), and disappear again.
  • Duckman, which went three seasons without a single Cliff Hanger, ended its run with an episode where the title character (a talking duck, private detective and widower) remarries only to have the wedding disrupted by the return of his dead wife, Beatrice. She asks why he didn't wait for her. He says he thought she was dead. She asks why Cornfed (Duckman's partner) didn't tell him the truth. Cornfed says he can explain everything. And To Be Continued pops up on the screen. Naturally, the one time they ended the season with a Cliff Hanger expecting renewal, the show was canceled.
  • Clone High. At least it was some kind of resolution since it was supposed to be the season finale, but it was a Cliff Hanger.
  • Transformers Animated seems to have fallen victim to this. Due to its abrupt cancellation, it ended with many unresolved plotlines and unexplored characters. The final episode itself only resolved a fraction of the many plot points introduced earlier in the season.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! ended right when the Big Bad had been resurrected and the Hyperforce and all of their previous allies were about to go at him.
  • Sonic Sat AM had a very resolving ending...until the last 10 seconds, where they pull a cliff hanger on the audience. The show was promptly cancelled after that because it was beaten in the ratings by the Merchandise-Driven Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
  • Sonic Underground got screwed for the Dreamcast-driven Sonic Adventure. In some cases, it was cancelled in MID-BROADCAST, leaving the audience hanging.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men: The last episode ended with a scene in which Apocalypse rules in the future leaving no clue as to what's going to happen next. The show only lasted one season.
  • The 2000s reboot of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe only lasted 39 episodes before being abruptly cancelled, leaving many loose ends unresolved.
  • Invader Zim Due to those pesky Nickelodeon execs, the Too Good to Last show was cancelled right when the plot was about to surface. Internet Backdraft abounds. Still, fans cling to the hope of it being Uncanceled, and the possibility remains.
  • Obscure 1980s cartoon The Bluffers centered around a Gang of Critters trying to find out the secret of a villain named Clandestino. It got canceled before they could say what his secret was.
  • Hey Arnold!! never did explain what happened to Arnold's parents on their final mission, all because the show's creator couldn't agree with Nickelodeon over the necessary contract extension. Result: no extension at all. A finale movie (subtitled "The Jungle Movie") which resolved practically everything - Arnold goes back to San Lorenzo to find his parents, and he hooks up with Helga - was finally produced and premiered 13 years after the series ended.
  • King Arthur and the Knights of Justice was unexpectedly cancelled after two seasons and 26 episodes, with its premise (collecting all the MacGuffins and freeing the original King and Knights) far from resolution.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan. The conflict was building up, the show was gaining fans, and the staff was all set to make a second season. Then the show got canceled because it failed to secure any key toy deals. Attempts to get the second season made were fruitless, and Genndy Tartakovsky was so displeased with the way Cartoon Network handled his series that he left them to form his own studio under Sony.
  • The last episode of Xiaolin Showdown ends with all the villains gathering together for a last Xiaolin versus Heylin Cosmic Clash Showdown.
  • The Mighty B! was cancelled before Bessie could collect all of the Honeybee badges, and become the "Mighty Bee".