The classic cliffhanger is a great way to tell a story and to keep the audience hooked and coming back for more. The cliffhanger has been used to great effect, and particularly on TV shows, the cliffhanger is used to make sure that the audience comes back for the next season; the cliffhanger is the hook that people want to see resolved.
More often than not these TV shows get to run their course and answer all the questions that the shows ask and resolve any cliffhangers that they created. However, given that the fate of a TV show is often out of their hands, sometimes a show can get cancelled out of nowhere and they leave an unresolved cliffhanger in the air, much to the annoyance of the audiences. Who died? Who’s coming back? What happened? Viewers will unfortunately probably never know. Here are 15 TV shows that left off with huge cliffhangers, but because of their unexpected cancellation, we will never have a resolution to them.
15. Where’s Behrooz? – 24
When 24 hit our screens back in 2001, it was a revelation. Redefining what a TV show could be, 24 took all the best action and storylines and repackaged it into real time episodes where each episode was an hour of real time. The adventures of Jack Bauer took the world by storm and became a huge smash hit.
However, 24 was often guilty of setting up a few cliffhangers and questions and then just leaving them unresolved and moving on with the next story. One such incident is what happened to Behrooz Araz. The teenage son of a family of terrorists, Behrooz actually had a change of heart, and wanted to help stop his family’s plans. Behrooz was then taken hostage and the tracker he had implanted was destroyed. Everything looked bad for Behrooz during this season finale, but then nothing happened. He was never seen again or was never even mentioned. He was such a big character for season four that this was a bit of a let down for the fans of the show.
14. Mary Jane Watson – Spider-Man: The Animated Series
During the 1990s, and long before the MCU kickstarted the golden age of comic book movies and TV shows, Marvel were not doing so well and in fact they came very close to bankruptcy. Because of that, Marvel didn’t have great success with movies and TV shows, so it was a big joy to fans when Spider-Man: The Animated Series hit our screens. Although mainly for children, Marvel fans everywhere lapped it up and became fans.
Over the course of its run, Spider-Man finally marries his one true love Mary Jane Watson. Only it turns out it’s not Mary Jane, it is in fact a clone, the real Mary Jane had been thrown into an interdimensional portal by The Green Goblin. Once he realized this, Spider-Man rushed off to save his love and then…We don’t know what happened next, because the show got cancelled. Many fans were left truly annoyed by this and because Marvel these days are all about the MCU, it’s unlikely we will ever get a resolution to this.
13. Who Is The Daddy? – My Name Is Earl
The next entry on our list follows the adventures of Earl. After an accident, Earl has a rethink about his life and decides that karma, and in particular bad karma, is a real thing. So he goes about righting every wrong he’s ever done and apologizing to everyone he’s ever wronged or been bad to.
Running for four seasons, My Name Is Earl managed to right many wrongs but what it didn’t do was resolve a big question that we will now never know the answer to. Earl’s ex, Joy, had kids by different men. The last episode revealed that Earl was the father of Dodge, but Earl Jr, who we all assumed was joy’s boyfriend Darnell’s child, turned out not to be. The episode ended with the dreaded caption To Be Continued…. but the show was quickly cancelled and we will now never know who the father is.
12. Did Michael And His Family Survive? – Now And Again
You’ll be forgiven if you didn’t catch out next entry when it was on TV. Not many people did, hence the cancellation. But Now and Again was actually a very good, and very underrated, science fiction show. Although it was short lived, Now and Again did manage to cultivate a bit of a fanbase and all of them are upset at the unresolved ending.
Now and Again told the story of Michael, a middle-aged family man who unfortunately gets killed in an accident. But then he wakes up. Not only does he wake from death but his mind is in a new, younger, and stronger body. Being used now as a weapon by the military, Michael is forbidden to contact anyone from his previous life, including his wife and daughter. As the series went on, Michael tried to get back his family as well as take down an evil terrorist named Eggman. So a cliffhanger was set up: Eggman was on the war path and wanted to take it out on Michael and Michael had escaped from the government and ran off with his family. We waited for the next season to see this played out…. But the show was quickly cancelled and the fate of our hero will never be known.
11. Everyone’s Fate – Sliders
Aww, Sliders. Many people out there put Sliders down as the most wasted opportunity a TV show has ever had. The premise was pretty amazing; a group of people “slide” from parallel world to parallel world in order to reach home. The first season was hugely popular and set up a potentially great franchise. However, over the following seasons, due to cast changes and lack of great stories, Sliders started to fall in the ratings.
On the last episode, our heroes had the chance to find the right world and go home. Rembrandt, who was now the group’s leader, goes ahead first and tells the others to wait and see if he makes it or not. So season six was set up and we would learn the fate of Rembrandt and the others, but there was no season six. So did Rembrandt make it? Did the others follow? There was talk long ago of a Sliders movie that would resolve this, but as that never happened we will never know.
10. Sam’s Leap Home – Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap was a hugely successful science fiction show about a man, Sam, that could “leap” through time and space but never as himself. He would always leap into another person’s body. Fixing whatever problems that person needed at the time, Sam would then leap into the next body as he roamed time and space saving people, and he was always aided by his best friend Al, although no one else could see him as Al’s body was still in the future.
The show still has a die hard fanbase and many of those fans are still begging for the show to be revived, because of the way it ended. In the final episode, Sam jumped into his own body, he meets a mysterious bartender who tells Sam that he can “leap” home anytime he wants to. But in this incarnation, Sam goes to Al’s wife, as Al is a prisoner of war at this time, and assures her that he will be safe and they will be happily married forever. Then Sam “leaps” and seemingly “leaps” forever. Once the show was cancelled an epilogue was tacked onto this episode, but it left a lot of fans unhappy and the outcome very much unresolved.
9. Time Vortex – Mork And Mindy
This is the sitcom that made Robin Williams a superstar. Mork and Mindy was a spin-off from the very popular Happy Days. Having made an appearance in Happy Days as an alien that wanted to take Richie Cunningham to his home planet, the character of Mork proved very popular so instead of the traditional “it was all a dream” ending, the writers had Mork erase everyone’s memory instead. So a spin-off show was born and Mork and Mindy were a true odd couple.
Mork was an alien sent to observe human life and Mindy was the normal human woman who just wants a happy life. The show proved very successful right up until it was cancelled after four seasons. The show ended on a big, and weird, cliffhanger. Mork and Mindy were now married and they end up in a time vortex with their faces missing. WTF?
8. Whose Baby? – The New Adventures Of Superman
Before the MCU and the DCEU started forming their universes on the movie and the TV screens, the superhero genre wasn’t seen as a good thing. The 1990s saw many failed superhero movies and TV show. But in between those failures we got Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The show was essentially a romantic comedy drama about Lois Lane and Clark Kent with Superman being very much in the background. Believe it or not, this show was actually surprisingly popular, or at least it was until the fourth season.
The ratings went down fast and the studios decided to axe Lois and Clark. However, that wasn’t before the two left us with one big cliffhanger. The fourth season saw Lois and Clark finally get together and were married, and the last episode saw the couple find a baby; the baby which was wrapped in a giant S. But who was the baby? Who did it belong to? These questions will never be answered.
7. The Evil Tru – Tru Calling
Tru Davis was a medical student who finds herself working in the morgue. When the dead bodies start coming in, Tru realizes that she has the power to relive the day and prevent the murders from happening and save the victims. The show started along nicely as Tru’s powers had a big scope for possible storylines. On top of that, a love interest in the form of Jason Priestley shows up.
To complicate matters further, a big cliffhanger was dangled in front of us as Priestley’s character had the same abilities as Tru but he was her opposite and it was his job to make sure that things stayed the way they should and the victims stay dead. This pushed the series in a completely different way and added an extra “good vs evil” battle that was just starting to get going. Unfortunately, the show was pulled and we will never know.
6. Andi’s Soul – Reaper
TV networks have a bad habit of cancelling shows before they can really get going and find their feet. A good example of this is the comedy Reaper. Due to ill health, a couple make a deal with the Devil in order to survive but at the cost of their first born son. When that son, Sam, turns 21 the Devil claims his soul and he becomes the Reaper. Working for the Devil, Sam must track down all the souls that have escaped Hell and he must return them there.
The show and the premise were pretty good and Reaper looked set to be the next big thing, until it was swiftly cancelled. The show left us with a big cliffhanger: after Sam challenges the Devil to a game, in which it’s a draw so therefore Sam loses, Andi, Sam’s girlfriend, puts up her own soul as collateral so that Sam can challenge the Devil again and hopefully win. But we will never know what the fate of these characters was and if Andi got to keep her soul.
5. Pretty Much All Of Season 8 – Red Dwarf
For those of you out there that are unfamiliar with this British Science Fiction sitcom, Red Dwarf tells the tale of the last human alive. Millions of years in the future, Dave Lister is the only survivor and he’s left roaming space alone. Well, except for a hologram, Rimmer, a creature that evolved from a cat, known as Cat, and an android known as Kryton. The show may not seem like the premise for a great comedy, but it has a huge fanbase and cult following around the world.
The original run of the show ended with season eight. In that season, the entire crew of the space ship Red Dwarf had been revived and Lister and co. were no longer alone. However, the last episode of the season saw a virus attack the ship and everyone was seemingly dead. All except Rimmer. He is the only one left on the ship and is suddenly face to face with Death, who he kicks in the nuts and runs way. When the show is revived years later, the entire eighth season is ignored and the crew of Red Dwarf, and Rimmer’s fight with Death, is never mentioned again. Season eleven will be with us soon, so maybe one day we’ll get some answers.
4. The Second Flash Forward – FlashForward
This very short lived TV show followed a group of people as they tried to figure out what happened to the world when everyone on Earth seemed to lose consciousness for two minutes and seventeen seconds. While in this state, everyone had a vision or a “flash forward” to what was going to happen six months in the future. A small team then investigates the events of the “flash forward.”
If rumors are to be believed then the writers and creators of Flash Forward wanted to create a long show and actually set up a five season arch for the series, but the show was pulled after only one season. Not only did a lot the first season get unresolved but the last episode had everyone having another “flash forward,” only this time decades into the future. It was a great cliffhanger to get everyone back for season two but there was, unfortunately, no season two.
3. Erasing The Terminator Franchise – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
It’s fair to say, and many people out there will agree, that Terminator and Terminator 2 are two of the most perfect science fiction movies out there. Telling the story of John Connor, who, in the future, is the leader of the resistance against the machines, aka Skynet. So Skynet send back some Terminators in order to kill Connor in the past so he can’t save humanity in the future. The first two movies tell a great story, and unfortunately none of the sequels comes close to the same standard.
However, when the Terminator franchise hit our TV screens, The Sarah Connor Chronicles added something a bit different to the story. But because of cancellation, we’re left with one massive cliffhanger that completely undermines everything that’s come before. A young John Connor manages to jump forward in time but no one has heard of him. He’s supposed to be the savior and yet he doesn’t seem to exist. If that’s the case then why would Skynet send back the first Terminator in the first place? None of this makes sense and we need answers, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any.
2. Valery’s Fate – The Sopranos
Okay, so we know that the ending of The Sopranos wasn’t a cliffhanger, since it was planned, much to the hatred and dislike of the fans. But even with such a bad ending, which a show as good and popular as this deserved a lot better than, we’re not actually talking about the ending of Sopranos but a character’s storyline that never got resolved.
Valery, supposedly the invincible Russian, owed some money to Paulie and Chris. They go to collect the money and they all start fighting which seems to end with Valery dead. So they take him into the woods to bury the body but Valery isn’t dead. They all fight again and then he runs away, after being shot in the head. But he still keeps running. Chris and Paulie find out that Valery was an ex special forces soldier so a massive showdown was expected at some point, but it never happened. Valery was never seen or heard of again.
1. The Final Battle – Angel
The number one entry on our list comes from Angel. This spinoff show from Buffy the Vampire Slayer became hugely popular in its own right and acquired a big fanbase that was separate from its source show. The show followed Angel, a vampire with a soul, as he helps the helpless in L.A. Over the years, Angel and company had been fighting against the big and evil corporation Wolfram and Hart. Season five saw Angel take control of this big evil as he tried to take it down from the inside.
So the season five cliffhanger had Angel and his friends finally take the fight to the senior partners at Wolfram and Hart. An apocalyptic battle was set as the senior partners sent down Hell on Earth for Angel and his friends to face and as the battle commenced… the show ended. We never saw the fight or what happened afterwards. Unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ended on its own terms and therefore a more completed story, Angel was cancelled and the planned sixth season never happened. Although the characters and the story has been continued in comic book form, it’s not the same and a lot of fans are angry at how the show ended.