What makes a good series finale of a television show? The best finales are often praised for their ability to tie up loose ends, giving the audience a sense of fulfillment for sticking with the show the whole way through. Meanwhile, season finales — episodes that are written with the intention of another installment — are especially great when they include cliffhangers. An effective cliffhanger often leaves viewers begging for more, keeping their interest until the next season arrives.
But what happens when a TV series is canceled abruptly, or a network decides to hold off on that final season? In short, it’s chaos. Writers and producers have to scramble to find an ending that makes sense for the series at large, while also honoring the story developments that currently stand. And sometimes, it’s not a clean break. There are plenty of examples of TV shows that end with big plot twists — ones that were clearly written with a follow-up season in mind.
Sometimes, the show’s fanbase rallies with a campaign to get the show back on air. It’s happened before, but there’s no guarantee. No matter how open-ended a show’s season finale is, there’s never a promise of closure. In these cases, we simply have to come up with an ending for ourselves, or make peace with the fact that we’ll never know what happened for sure. Check out these canceled TV shows that ended on seriously unresolved cliffhangers. It goes without saying, but if you haven’t seen these shows, there are major spoilers ahead.