The first rule of television is to never know if you’re going to cancel. It’s probably something else, to be honest, but it’s a good rule of thumb because the ever-increasing competition for TV means the threat of your story being canceled before it’s finished is a very real possibility to consider.
Some shows do better than others, they predict it will be canceled and because they end their shows, they still continue to satisfy despite their short time on air. And other times, they don’t prepare for it or don’t see it coming at all, leading to some of the best TV cliffhanger endings that are remembered for all the wrong reasons. Some of these endings have been unresolved for decades and can be a must-see point for anyone looking to get into these shows.
Updated by Hannah Saab on February 22, 2023:
with recent shows like Relatives and Let the Right in canceled after just one season, it’s clear that the annoying trend of leaving fans hanging isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And while these latest cancellations aren’t as frustrating as some of the more legendary cliffhangers in small-screen history, they continue the troubling practice of mass TV cancellations that is reshaping broadcast as viewers know it.
10 An Unfinished Final – ‘Mork & Mindy’ (1978 – 1982)
While the series originally began as a life happy days spin-off, Mork and Mindy he became his own beast, demonstrably Robin Williams at the height of his comedic talent and becoming one of the best sitcoms on television at the time. Ratings were never as high as the other shows, and by the fourth season, ABC was starting to mess with the show.
Eventually, the show was canceled, ending with the three-part finale “Gotta Run”. Mork and Mindy stuck in prehistoric times. It’s been 40 years since those episodes aired, and Robin Williams has since tragically passed away, possibly leaving this finale unfinished forever.
9 A Jaw-Dropping Betrayal – ‘Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt’ (2010)
Anime is no stranger to cliffhanger endings, as most anime are intended to promote source material such as manga or novels. However, in the case of Socks and Hosiery with Garterbeltoriginal and underrated anime series with no prior source material, no excuses here.
The ending, which is one of the worst in anime history, ends with Stocking revealing himself to be a demon and tearing Panty apart 666 times before escaping. This strange plot twist, while on the surface it was meant to parody this type of ending that the studio responsible for the show was known for, left fans scratching their heads as well, and it’s still one of the most questionable endings in anime.
8 Mary Jane Is Missing – ‘Spider-Man: The Animated Series’ (1994-1998)
Animated shows tend to suffer this fate less than live-action shows, as animated shows usually find ways to wrap up their storylines in advance if they know they’re being canceled. But Spider-Man: The Animated Series it was a series that didn’t get that chance, even though its circumstances were much uglier behind the scenes.
The show was a huge hit on Fox Kids, and when it came time to renew the series past its initial 65-episode order, they hoped to renew it. But then… nothing. disagreements between Avi Arad and the head of Fox Kids nixed the discussions, and the series ended after the Spider-Wars storyline, which left Mary Jane’s whereabouts unknown.
7 A Shocking Death – ‘Carnivale’ (2003 – 2005)
A show way ahead of its time. Carnival It’s one of the best HBO shows ever. Its strange yet intriguing mythology, unique characters, and fantastic setting created a unique story that would probably thrive in today’s age of serialized stories. But, unfortunately, in 2003, the public was not ready for such shows.
The show ends on a cliffhanger, as the creator Daniel Knauf he refused to compromise his bold vision in the face of studio persuasion. Brother Justin and Ben face off one last time, which ends with Brother Justin killing Ben, although we’re not sure considering the show was going to last for six seasons, it’s highly likely that he would have survived if the series continued. .
6 The Mystery Child – ‘Lois & Clark’ (1993 – 1997)
It’s one thing to be blindsided by a cancellation, but it’s another to completely change your initial plans mid-season. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman it was very popular at the time and a fifth season seemed assured. ABC agreed, and the fourth season was filmed in its entirety on the assumption that Season 5 was a dud.
And then ABC pulled the plug at the last minute. Ratings continued to slide, and last-minute time slot changes couldn’t save it. They ended up reversing their decision, leaving Season 4 as the final season and ending the show in one of the biggest TV cliffhangers of all time – with the implication that a mysterious child stayed with the couple is also a Kryptonian. If there’s one ’90s superhero series that deserves a fitting ending, it’s this one.
5 The Re-introduction – ‘Pushing Daisies’ (2007 – 2009)
A quirky little show from the late 2000s, Pushing daisies it’s one of the weirdest shows you’ll ever see. Following a cake maker who is able to bring someone back with a single touch, because if they touch them again, they will die again and forever. The premise is great and the final show is strangely magical and whimsical despite some morbid subject matter.
The series only aired for two seasons before it was quietly cancelled, ending with a cliffhanger that saw the protagonist’s love interest return to the world, having been dead for quite some time. This would have huge implications for the rest of the series, but for the show to end before exploring that is a crime.
4 To Be Followed – ‘My Name is Earl’ (2005 – 2009)
A unique and beloved happy-go-lucky sitcom, My name is Earl It was a cult hit, but always struggled with ratings. When it came time for the fourth season, the show was abruptly canceled after airing as a creator Greg Garcia he hoped a fifth season would be greenlit. He was so sure of it that he ended the show with the title “To Be Continued”!
The cliffhanger ending, which sees Earl Jr. having a different father than he originally assumed, was meant to be set up for the aforementioned fifth season, and while there have been discussions of a film sequel since the end, this show is very likely. it will never get the ending it deserves.
3 A Literal Cliffhanger – ‘Hannibal’ (2013 – 2015)
To some extent, Hannibal it has a literal cliffhanger, with the two main characters jumping off a cliff at the end Sherlock Holmes-style, but it’s still one of the most famous in recent memory. Hannibal It was never the most popular of the shows, but it had a very active and passionate cult following and was prominent in NBC’s production.
So this cliffhanger that ends after the show is canceled has a lot going for it, not just because of the unresolved storylines, but because it’s so clear. Hannibal It was one of the best shows on television in its career. NBC never gave him a chance, and he deserved much better than what he got.
2 Just Faded Away – ‘Angel’ (1999 – 2004)
To spin-off Buffy the Vampire Slayer it looks just as good if not better than its impactful cousin, though the angel it always struggled in the ratings due to its darker tone. And by the time the fifth season arrived, the show’s final days had arrived, and it was eventually canceled for its fifth season.
The finale, “Not Fade Away,” is a great stand-alone episode, but its cliffhanger ending still stings. When Angel and his band of supernatural warriors begin to battle the forces of Hell, the show fades to black, and we never see the outcome. It’s likely that this would have carried over to Season 6 had the show been renewed, but this ambiguous final moment is how Angel’s story ends.
1 The Unseen Shooter – ‘Agent Carter’ (2015 – 2016)
Agent Carter It’s not the only MCU show that’s been canceled, actually Agents of SHIELD All previous Disney+ MCU shows were canned, but it has perhaps the most disappointing ending of all because of how little it resolves. The season dealing with Zero Matter apparently ends on a nice little loop with Carter staying in Los Angeles to be with Sousa.
But suddenly, Thompson is shot and apparently killed by an unseen gunman, and Carter’s file is taken by the attacker. Who might want those files? Who shot Thompson? These questions will probably never be resolved, and with that Avengers: Endgame apparently putting a cap on Peggy Carter’s story, it looks like this one will be left incomplete.
NEXT: All Netflix shows canceled in 2022