TV shows cancelled just as characters are in mortal danger are the worst; there’s nothing a fan hates more than knowing there’ll never be a resolution. Sometimes we get lucky and there’s a follow-up movie, comic book, or just a post on the showrunner’s blog. Often we’re stuck with ‘what-ifs’ and forced to retreat to the world of fan fiction, but no matter how talented the writer, it’s never the same.
Inspired by this post on satisfying series finales, and the recent cancellation of The Glades – which ended its run with the main character shot multiple times by an unknown assailant in the house he bought to surprise his fiancee, who was waiting for him at the altar – here are eight of the most frustrating cliffhangers that doubled as The End:
- The 4400 – The third season of the USA sci-fi show ended with Promicin – the drug that gave the 4400 their abilities – loose in Seattle, with 50% of those exposed to it gaining special abilities; the other 50% die almost instantly. After a bunch of the NTAC agents responsible for watching and investigating the 4400 become Promicin-positive, they figure they have no choice but to hand control over to Jordan Collier (the 4400 Jesus) and his militia. Seattle is renamed Promise City, the show ends with the threat of a new world order, and we never get to find out if the future people who started all this achieved their ends.
- Farscape – Everything seemed resolved in the 4th season finale of the SciFi original series. Crichton and Aeryn were engaged, she was officially pregnant (makes sense in context), the crew of Moya dealt a blow to the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers, and nobody died. Then, in the very last moment, the happy couple was disintegrated into a pile of red jewels by a previously unknown alien species. To Be Continued? Not for another year, until, mercifully, a miniseries was commissioned to wrap things up, though then the writers were forced to shove a season’s worth of storylines into a couple of hours, and the results were…varied.
- Invasion – The ABC Invasion of the Body Snatchers TV show didn’t survive past its freshman year, but clearly the writers had no idea the axe was about to fall, since the finale saw William Fitchner’s Sheriff Tom carry his wife’s ex-husband’s new spouse Larkin (Lisa Sheridan) to the alien-infested water after she’s struck by a stray bullet. Does she survive? Does she turn into a hybrid like so many others in the Florida town? We’ll never know.
- Popular – Before Ryan Murphy was Glee-ful, he was Popular. It was a weird show, granted, but somehow completely engrossing and often hilarious, since it was frequently a parody of 90210. Apparently the writers had a standing order to end every season with a soap opera-worthy cliffhanger, so the series ended before we got to find out who Harrison chose to take to prom, whether or not Josh and Lily consumated their marriage, or what happened after bitch queen Nicole ran over former-BFF Brooke with her car. That’s a lot of unresolved issues.
- Primeval: New World – The Canadian spin-off of the British ITV series Primeval (which almost had its own worst cliffhanger ending in S3, leaving two of its main characters trapped in the Cenozoic era with the fate of the show undecided) ended with one character potentially sacrificing himself to preserve the timeline, and anomalies in the “Spaghetti Junction” blinking out of existence – signifying some temporal crisis – with two other characters racing for the portal back to their time. Too bad we’ll never get to know what they found when they reached the other side.
- Stargate: Atlantis – The fifth season of the SyFy original series was supposed to be followed by a few direct-to-DVD movies, like its predecessor, but they never materialized, so the series ends instead with the flying city of Atlantis landing (cloaked) in the San Francisco Bay, supposedly ready to start operating from Earth. No clue how they thought they were going to explain that one.
- The Nine – For a period of time just after Lost ended, ABC desperately tried to recapture the phenomenon with a series of failed shows that featured ensemble casts, flashbacks, and deep mysteries. The Nine was one of their better attempts, but it never found its audience, and so it ended with much of the robbery still a blank, and the fates of several relationships up in the air, as well as the answer to whether or not bank manager Malcolm comes clean about his involvement.
- Threshold – The extremely intelligent CBS drama about a disaster expert and an alien invasion was probably doomed from the start, but that doesn’t ease the pains of disappointment when the compelling show ended with a portentous dream about Molly Caffrey’s Threshold protocol, which will supposedly save humanity, though she’s told she won’t be around to see it. According to extras on the DVD, lots of fascinating storylines were already planned for a three-season arc, which really puts lemon juice on the wound. And I still miss Peter Dinklage’s Arthur Ramsey.
Thinking about a show whose end still pisses you off to this day because of unfinished business? Add it in the comments.