ToBe DIScontinued! - The Hall of Unresolved TV Cliffhangers: 2001 On
Even in the new millennium, the networks still turn to season ending cliffhangers to draw the viewers in. Of course, that didn't mean the networks have stopped cancelling shows that used the ploy...
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Show: The Lone Gunmen
Genre: Drama
Network: Fox
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "All About Yves"
Details: This X-Files spin-off ended its short season with the gunmen getting captured. However, Chris Carter, the Executive Producer of The Lone Gunmen and The X-Files, later announced that the Lone Gunmen cliffhanger ending would be resolved in one of the upcoming episodes of the X-Files, where they would continue to have guest appearances. (Thanks Maureen Goldman! No email address, the one attached to the news message was an obvious spamblock.)
It sounds like the Gunmen ended up biting the dust on the X-Files.
Show: The Fugitive
Genre: Action Drama
Network: CBS
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "Thanatos" ("Death" in Greek)
Details: Tim Daly gained entry to the double-hanger Hall of Shame through this remake of the classic series. Though the original show's finale still is one of the top 50 programs of all time (according to the World Almanac), this show's finale had nothing to talk about, except maybe the show's cliffhanger where the FBI man in the episode shot Lt. Gerard (Mykelti Williamson, cliffhanger victim of WKRP), then cornered Kimble (Daly) and the one-armed man (Stephen Lang). As the shots for the latter two rang out, the screen went black -- and THAT WAS IT!!!
Note: The 2nd remake to go cliff... see "Dark Shadows".
Show: Popular
Genre: Teen Drama
Network: WB
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "Promblems"
Details: Through some manipulation by Brooke & Sam (Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope), Harrison (Christopher Gorham) ended up at with both of them at a restaurant where he was required to make a choice between them. Meanwhile, Nicole (Tammy Lynn Michaels) showed up at Brooke's house, considerably drunk after her current plot against the girls had gone awry; she confronted Brooke's father (Scott Bryce), angrily swearing vengeance against Brooke. He tried to keep her there, but while he stepped out of the room for a moment (to phone her mother, I believe), she stole his car keys and his car. In the closing scene, Brooke was running from the restaurant in tears (evidently Harrison chose Sam over her) into the middle of the street, and then in the last scene she was seen about to be hit by the car Nicole was driving. The show ended right there, even though show creator Ryan Murphy had ideas for the 3rd (and, under his intention, final) season: Brooke was going to be in a coma for 4 months as a result of the crash. The same ep also saw Mary Cherry (Leslie Grossman) discover she had a twin sis (Baby Honey Chile, also played by Grossman), and they were both borne of a drag queen (played by RuPaul, who interestingly shares the same birthday as Bibb). That storyline was also due to come into play the following season, with Chile later getting shot dead by a girl gang. And would you believe that Ryan had planned to have Mary buy Melrose Place to end the show? (It is unlikely that UPN will pick up the show, like it did for "Buffy" and "Roswell".) (Thanks David Samuel Barr!)
(Latest News: Ryan Murphy's writing several TV-movie installments of the show that will resolve many storylines, including the cliffhanger.)
Barr explains the business with cliffhangers:
"Well, there are also plenty of shows which used cliffhangers which ran for many years, e.g. Dallas, Dynasty and ST:TNG, just to name a few off the top of my head. With cliffhangers having become almost de rigueur for series television as the trend has moved towards continuing storylines rather than self-contained episodes, in many cases producers plan for and write cliffhangers each season before they know they're being cancelled (and as often as not, those decisions aren't even made by the networks until the shows are already in the can), especially when a show manages to last through May. It's more likely that when a show has been on a few years they can see the end coming farther in advance and so will write towards a closing episode rather than a cliffhanger, or at least try not to leave things hanging. Also, you get situations like Martial Law, which had its first season end on a cliffhanger, but between seasons had the original producers replaced with a new team who decided to go in a new direction and just ignore the cliffhanger without even any mention of its resolution."
Bonus trivia: Barr also once worked with RuPaul for one of his albums. (He wrote and was supposed to conduct the string arrangements, but the new producer brought in midway into the project instead played his own synth-strings because he wasn't told the record company had agreed to pay for a live orchestra.)
More bonus trivia: Although RuPaul had filmed quite a few scenes concerning him and Mary, almost all of those scenes were cut, leaving just him introducing himself to Mary.
Sheesh, here's more from Barr... this time, about why many of the shows that ended on a cliffhanger lasted just one (or two) seasons:
"[Season finales] are produced with cliffhangers in the expectation of a second season renewal and then get cancelled after production is over and they're left stuck with an open ending. Overall, there are far more shows that get cancelled after one (or two) seasons than there are long-running shows; if everyone goes for cliffhanger season-enders, then it stands to reason that there are that many more one-season cliffhangers than long-term ones."
Show: Tucker
Genre: Sitcom
Network: NBC
Last Aired: 2001
Details: After being cancelled after just 4 eps in its initial run, the remaining eps were aired in a late-night slot. Things were just left unresolved after 13 episodes as Rucker, the 14 year old played by Eli Marienthal, never really got to square things with his HS crush who was in love with Seth Green (AKA Dr. Evil's son from the Austin Powers flicks). (Thanks Mediajock!)
Show: Two Guys and a Girl
Genre: Sitcom
Network: ABC
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "The Internet Show"
Details: Ashley (Suzanne Cryer) was offered a residence in Stamford. ABC had the viewers vote online on who was pregnant among the girls on the show (thus the ep title), and Ashley ended up being voted. She left everyone, including boyfriend Pete (Richard Ruccolo), and viewers were left to wonder if she'd leave for California or eventually patch up things between herself and Pete. (Thanks Michael!)
Show: Spiderman Unlimited
Genre: Animated Sci-Fi Action
Network: Fox
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "Destiny Unleashed" (some guides add "Part 1" to the title... from this page)
Details: The High Evolutionary (Richard Newman) kidnapped Spiderman (Rino Romano), Venom (Brian Drummond), Carnage (Michael Donovan), John Jameson (John Payne) and his rebels. Spidey stopped the High Evolutionary (just barely)... but he then found out that the Synoptic (a "hivemind" producing spores that turned people into its mindless slaves) releasing symbiotes all over Counter Earth (where the series took place). (Thanks Aaron Carlisle, for the pointer!)
Show: Moesha
Genre: Sitcom
Network: UPN
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "Paying the Piper"
Details: UPN canceled this show right after this season finale cliffhanger where we would find out which one of the female characters was pregnant, as Jerome (Lahmard Tate) had found a positive pregnancy test in the bathroom of the apartment the title character (Brandy Norwood, otherwise known as just Brandy) was living in. Also, Moesha fainted upon learning that her brother Myles (Marcus T. Paulk) had been kidnapped. Lamont (Theron Benymon) was holding him captive until his demands were met, in this case, half interest of Dorian's (Ray J Norwood... Brandy's brother perhaps?) band. These were supposed to be resolved on "The Parkers," the sitcom's spinoff, but the producers didn't want to continue it. Brandy's breakdown and frustration on with the show's title character contributed to the cancellation. (Thanks MegaMorphJ!)
Interesting note: "Two Guys and A Girl" was originally submitted with the same cliffhanger as this one.
Show: ReBoot
Genre: Animated Adventure
Network: ABC, then Cartoon Network
Last Aired: 2001
Episode Title: "My Two Bobs" as a telefilm, "Crouching Bonome, Hidden Virus" as a separate ep
Details: The show detailed life inside a computer, with all the various programs and subroutines taking the form of a city called Mainframe (incidentally, the name of the production company as well), complete with inhabitents. These inhabitents battled various computer viruses, particularly one named MegaByte. The last episode of the show, to date, was made in 2001, and ended with MegaByte finally in control of Mainframe's central office, and preparing to hunt down the various main characters who were scattered and on the run. Mainframe was (is?) willing to make more episodes, but neither of the networks who aired the show (CN and YTV in Canada) offered to provide the needed money. It's a shame; it was a very good show. (Thanks Geoduck!)
Show: Hey Arnold!
Genre: Animated Comedy
Network: Nickelodeon
Last Aired: 2002
Episode Title: "The Journal"
Details: The first Nicktoon ever to end with a cliffhanger, the finale aired on YTV (in Canada) months before it aired in the US. This ep saw the title character (Alex Linz... previously, Spencer Klein, Toran Caudell, and Phillip Van Dyke) finding this journal that, among other things, talked about his parents' (series creator Craig Bartlett and writer Antoinette Stella) travels. And at the end, he suddenly discovered a map in the journal, probably telling where his parents had gone when they left him.
This case is special since almost all the other shows on the list made a season-ender in the hope of getting renewed and getting a chance to resolve the 'hanger. In this case however, Hey Arnold! was intending to use "The Journal" as a lead-in to a second Hey Arnold! film (the first film being about Paul Sorvino threatening to replace Arnold's neighborhood with a huge mall). Previously, the first film was intended as a telefilm to close out the series... when it was changed into a theatrical film, 3 more eps were commisioned, with "The Journal" (counting as 2 eps) now closing out the series (the other commisioned ep was an April Fools' Day special).
However, Bartlett has had some troubles with Nick leading to the suspension of production of the 2nd film. Read it all here: The Unofficial Rugrats Online.

Show: Dark Angel
Genre: Sci Fi
Network: Fox
Last Aired: 2002
Episode Title: "Freak Nation"
Details: James Cameron pulled out all the stops in order to keep this show. The 90 minute season finale ended with all the transgenics revealed to the world and all of them stuck in Terminal City. The show was even renewed! However, Fox also had another expensive show started. A big wig pulled her weight and ended up getting Dark Angel cancelled a day after it was renewed for the show Firefly even though Fox hated the first pilot. Firefly was later cancelled. Karma? You betcha. (Thanks, AXmili!)
Show: The Lost World
Genre: Adventure Drama
Network: Syndicated
Last Aired: 2002
Episode Title: "Heart of the Storm"
Details: Okay, you better sit down for this. In 2002, the show was renewed for a season 4. And so, the writers wrote cliffhangers for various characters getting into trouble with various figures in history. They got Marguerite (Rachel Blakely) with Druids, Roxton (Will Snow) with Conquistadors, Challenger (Peter McCauley) with futuristic machines, newcomer Finn (Lara Cox) with slavers, Veronica (Jennifer O'Dell) looking at her mother's pendant, and (shades of Silver Surfer, anyone?) the implosion of the Lost World. They got a resolution where an euqal and opposite force spit the World back out again. Only one problem... like Dark Angel (above), the syndicators flaked on the renewal. The writers eventually posted this general outline for season 4. In more recent news, New Line Television offered reruns of the show to independent stations being orphaned by the WB/UPN merger in 2006. (Thanks Geoff Akiki! However, I have gotten the info from other sources.)
Show: First Monday
Genre: Political Drama
Network: CBS
Last Aired: 2002
Episode Title: "Family Secrets"
Details: Take a liberal law clerk (Hedy Buress) and a lawyer who happens to be the daughter of a conservative justice (Gail Strickland) walking to a restuarant. Have a car run into the daughter. Bingo, instant season-ending cliffhanger. (This show was apparently so obscure, no one ever submitted it, and I only found out about this 'hanger through Wikipedia!)
Show: Wolf Lake
Genre: Supernatural Drama
Network: CBS, then UPN
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "If These Wolves Could Talk"
Details: This show was put on a rather long hiatus (usually the death knell for any show) after the "Excitable Boy" ep where (according to Mariah): "The alpha wolf guy played by Bruce McGill [Willard Cates] got caught in an animal trap and was then murdered by someone unknown. A preview for the next episode also shown the town sheriff Matthew Donner (played by Tim Matheson) being shot. They are other plot points that weren't resolved but that's the big one that jumps to me." Later on, from David S. Barr: "apparently Wolf Lake is going to have the rest of its unaired episodes burned off by UPN in April, so to some extent its cliffhanger-ended status will be eliminated at that point." And later still: "UPN also gave up long before they got to the last of the few filmed episodes. I can't imagine there was any kind of 'hanger other than that created just by getting cancelled twice."
When they finally got around to showing the last of the eppies.. things were left dangling, with Kanin (Lou Diamond Phillips) almost done figuring out about the clans, Sophia (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) starting to change, and the viewers closer to finding out who shot Willard. (Thanks, Josh Hadley!)

Previously on my site, I put up the following from the Media Guardian when it wasn't sure whether the British soap "Footballers' Wives" was to be renewed for a 2nd season:
Six million viewers were left hanging last night after Footballers' Wives came to an end with more cliffhangers than a England penalty shoot-out.
And ITV bosses are intent on keeping viewers waiting to find out whether the thuggish Earl's Park captain, Jason (Cristian Solimeno), leaves his wife, Tanya (Zoe Lucker); whether Donna (Katherine Monaghan) and Ian (Nathan Constance) get their daughter Holly (Billie Wackrill) back from the kidnappers; or what team manager Frank (John Forgeham) does when he finishes with his flashbacks.
ITV's head of drama, Nick Elliott, says he has to "commission more research" before he decides whether to request a second series of the drama that ITV bosses hoped would be Britain's answer to Dallas.

In the end, however, it was renewed... once again, from the Media Guardian:
In a cliffhanger worthy of the show itself, ITV has recommissioned Footballers' Wives after keeping fans of the show waiting on tenterhooks for more than a month since the first series finished.
The second run of the ITV1 show, which features the off-pitch affairs and intrigues at fictional premiership club Earls Park, will go into production in the summer.
Nick Elliott, the ITV controller of drama, also confirmed that the main cast members, whose storylines were left dangling in the frenetic final episode of the first run, will be returning for the second series.

Not only that, it's already been commisioned for a 3rd season too.

Show: John Doe
Genre: Drama
Network: Fox
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "The Rising"
Details: At the very end, one of Doe's (Dominic Purcell) best friends, Digger (William Forsythe, son of John Forsythe, of Dynasty fame), or perhaps someone who looks like him, was revealed to be a leading member of the Phoenix Organization, the mysterious group who have been watching Doe, and possibly have the key to his forgotten past (his past and identity being just about the only things he doesn't know... he knows, for example, how many blue cars there are in Washington state... think about it). (Thanks, Kevin Johnston!)
Extra, from Ryan Coulter: "I read something I believe at about the secret of "John Doe". One of the producers spilled the beans after the show was officially cancelled. John Doe was part of an experiment involving near-death experiences run by the Phoenix Organization (doesn't MacGyver work there too? lol). They believed that all the knowledge and secrets of life were revealed to you upon your death. So they killed him and then brought him back to life in order to learn what he learned."
Show: Fastlane
Genre: Action Drama
Network: Fox
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "Iced"
Details: It ended with Tiffani Theissen's Billie character kidnapped by this psycho chick (who, at the very end, shot her up with heroin - Billie was an ex-addict), while Deaq and Van (Bill Bellamy and Peter Facinelli) were having Jay Mohr take over as their boss (and very likely to lose their jobs). (Thanks, (Ian J. Ball!)
Show: The Agency
Genre: Action Drama
Network: CBS
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "Our Man in Washington"
Details: CIA agents Terri (Paige Turco) and Stiles (Jason O'Mara), with an explosive collar on the former... enough said. Meanwhile, there's also the matter with CIA agent Joshua (David Clennon) and a bunch of North Koreans.

Show: Farscape
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Network: SciFi
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "Bad Timing"
Details: This series was already signed up for another season so they had a cliffhanger with Season 5 in mind since they always had a cliffhanger to pull you to the next season. However, SciFi backed out. The series ended with John Crichton (Ben Browder) and Aeryn (Claudia Black) crystalized by an alien race while he was proposing to her in a boat, and another character, Chiana (Gigi Edgley), blind. The kicker? When "Bad Timing" was made, it was already known that the series was canned.
A short story set in the future written in the Offical Farscape magazine by one of the writers shows us that Aeryn/John do indeed die but returned, Chiana has her sight back with two husbands, D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) becomes a general, and Rygel (a puppet voiced by Jonathan Hardy) dies back on the throne, passing the throne to his niece. (Thanks, AXmili!)
Latest news: Thanks to fan demands, SciFi made and aired a miniseries, "The Peacekeeper Wars", to resolve these 'hangers. Comes replete with Crichton explaining the premise of the series, and the final few moments of "Bad Timing", to the alien guys who crystallized him at the start.

Show: Free For All
Genre: Animated Comedy
Network: Showtime
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "Tall Tails"
Details: Take the Moldavian Massacre. Replace the Moldavian coup with a deranged Home Shopping guy. You basically get this show's cliffhanger ending, as this one ended with a Home Shopping guy gunning down all the main characters (Thanks, candy17!)

Show: Clone High
Genre: Animated Comedy
Network: MTV
Last Aired: 2003
Episode Title: "Changes: The Big Prom: The Sex Romp: The Season Finale" (really!)
Details: Benson ended on a freeze frame. This show ended with a flash-freeze. John Stamos and Principal Scudworth (Phil Lord) flash-froze all the main characters and a few government officials (not to mention Stamos... hey, someone had to pull the switch!) while they were at the school prom, dancing the conga. And like Duckman, the final moments of the series was a slide caption saying "To be continued...?!"

Show: Angel
Genre: Fantasy Drama
Network: Fox
Last Aired: 2004
Episode Title: "Not Fade Away"
Details: Shades of Blake's 7, as a few regular characters got killed, and a bunch of other regular characters got ready to fight against a dragon. "Right. Let's get to work."

Show: Carnivale
Genre: Drama
Network: HBO
Last Aired: 2005
Details: The main plot was first resolved, then neatly unresolved just as the episode ended. As a bonus, Clancy Brown had a major role in the show, which brings him up to four cliffhangers. (Thanks, Elana Tomomi Dote!)
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