There is a risk every TV lover takes when letting a new show into their hearts, and that is the chance that they will be canceled after just one season or even worse… canceled before they have the opportunity to finish their respective stories, leaving intended finales for canceled shows collecting dust on a writer’s hard drive.
Shows are canceled for a myriad of reasons – stars leave, ratings drop, and the like – and unfortunately, it means dedicated viewers will never get to find out how those canceled TV shows were supposed to end.
Fans of shows long gone may still be frustrated decades after the program was canceled. Fortunately, there are showrunners and creative executives who were equally disappointed over the cancellations, so they have decided to share with fans what would have happened in the TV finales you’ll never see.
So without any further ado, here are some of the most notable TV shows that didn’t get to live up to their full potential, and how the intended finales for those canceled shows would have brought the shows to their organic conclusions.
How It Ended: The show ended just as River became a full-fledged member of the Firefly crew, seemingly hinting at the further continued adventures of Mal and his family in the years to come. The follow-up film, Serenity, attempted to tie up a number of storylines by killing off some key characters and delving further into some of the Alliance’s very disastrous mistakes.
How They Wanted It To End: The show’s second season would have included the pay off of several of the first season’s subplots. Adam Baldwin’s Jayne would finally get to pilot his own ship alongside the Firefly. Wash (RIP) and Zoe would have had a child, as shown in comics created after the show went off air. There would have also been some further development of Inara and Mal’s relationship, which would have been interesting to see unfold, as Inara would have confirmed that she is terminally ill in Season 2.
How It Ended: The existential dramedy had a habit of ending episodes on cliffhangers, so when the show was unexpectedly canceled in May 2018 after Season 4, fans were left wondering what happened to Tandy and the gang. The last episode ends with Tandy and his friends surrounded by something they least expected: people in gas masks.
How They Wanted It To End: In an interview with Vulture, star and writer Will Forte revealed the new survivors entered the bunker shortly after the virus started. Forte says the group had “some kind of medical or scientist who knew, ‘At this certain point, the virus will be dormant. You’ll be safe to get back out.” This savvy group would then quarantine Tandy and co., terrified the virus is still active in their systems.
The new group are right to be afraid: Forte says his group is immune to the virus, but they are carriers. The virus spreads rapidly, and then it is just the six of them again.
How It Ended: The show ended just as Kristen Bell’s titular detective was relegated to being an outcast at her school once again. Seeds of a romantic reunion between her and her ex, Logan were planted as well. Some of this was wrapped up in the subsequent film that was made years later, but fans never really got to see the rest of Veronica’s college career play out.
How They Wanted It To End: Despite Veronica becoming a lawyer in the follow-up film, creator Rob Thomas has said that the original plan was to send her to an FBI training school in the fourth season. This way the stakes would have been raised all over again, and Veronica would have had to become used to an entirely new environment.
How It Ended: Agent Carter ended its second season with Peggy and Agent Sousa finally hooking up, but left a whole lot unanswered as well. That included the fate of Jack Thompson and where exactly Bridget Regan’s Dottie Underwood may have been hiding out at.
How They Wanted It To End: Speaking with THR, executive producer Michele Fazekas teased how Peggy and Sousa’s relationship would have played into the show’s third season story, along with the possibility Dottie’s inevitable return at some point down the line:
“We’re certainly not saying that this is definitely who Peggy Carter ends up marrying. They established in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that she ends up getting married at some point down the line. I would be interested to see Peggy in a relationship. She doesn’t seem like a woman who would just kiss a guy like that and things wouldn’t change. She’s committed to trying to actually be in a relationship with Sousa.
We will put Bridget Regan in as many episodes as she wants to be in. She has like two other jobs. [Laughs] But I know she has said that she has now put it into her contract that she can work on Agent Carter whenever it fits into her schedule. So we will use her as much as we can.”
How It Ended: My So-Called Life ended on such a cliffhanger moment filled with pure heartache: Claire Danes’ Angela decided to ride off into the sunset with Jordan Catalano, despite knowing that Brian was the one who wrote Jordan’s so-called love letter to her. It’s a moment that has left fans talking for decades since its original airing.
How They Wanted It To End: Creator Winnie Holzman revealed to Elle how the show’s second season was supposed to have picked up where the series finale left off:
“I pictured a situation where Angela and Jordan are an item, Delia and Brian are an item, and Angela and Brian are constantly looking to each other for advice and help with their respective dysfunctional relationships.”
The second season would have also included Sharon getting pregnant and Mr. Katimski’s status as a gay man being revealed to the whole school. So yes, there would have plenty of teen drama still to go around.
How It Ended: Freaks and Geeks ended on a notable cliffhanger, with Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) ditching an academic summit to follow The Grateful Dead on the road with her friends… without telling any of her family members.
How They Wanted It To End: Creator Paul Feig revealed the fate of every character from the show back in 2012, much to fans’ delight. Lindsay was going to become a performance artist Greenwich Village after high school, and then move into adult world as a human rights lawyer. In addition, Sam would have become a member of Drama Club, Neal would have gone into Swing Choir, Bill would have transformed into a jock, Daniel would end up in jail, and Nick would enlist in the Army.
How It Ended: Pushing Daisies was never supposed to end with its second season finale, which would explain why so many plot threads were never fully resolved. Instead, the series ended with a major twist, as Ned finally let Charlotte enter back into her Aunts’ lives again.
How They Wanted It To End: While speaking with SyFy, creator Bryan Fuller revealed what the original plans were for the show’s third season:
“We’ve arced it out. The dangling threads from the series with Chuck’s father and Ned’s father and the pocket watches are all dealt with, not secondarily, but there’s a whole new story that happens when there is a flash flood in the cemetery and all the bodies wash past Ned, and it’s Ned versus a thousand corpses.”
How It Ended: Hannibal ended on a literal cliffhanger with its third season finale, as Will and Hannibal finally worked to complete one murder together… before Will then sent the pair hurtling off a cliff’s edge. And just like that, the fates of both Hannibal and Will were sent into question once again.
How They Wanted It To End: In addition to explaining how Will and Hannibal might have survived their fall, creator Bryan Fuller revealed that Hannibal’s fourth season would have further explored the effect that Hannibal’s cannibalistic lifestyle had on Gillian Anderson’s Bedelia. Fans would have seen the payoff of Hannibal’s promise to Alana, with the latter then working with Margot to dismantle all of the Verger slaughterhouses:
“It certainly was going to be a part of season four, and I actually was really excited about exploring the Margot/Alana relationship and how they were going to dismantle all of the Verger slaughterhouses and turn them humane. She was going to completely undo the evils of her family with Alana, like a Joan Crawford sitting at PepsiCo’s table saying “don’t f*ck with me, fellas.” I was really excited about that story for Alana and Margot and seeing more of them, and also seeing what it would be like for them to realize that Hannibal might be coming back into their orbit.”
How It Ended: Carnivale ended on some seriously ominous notes, as Ben and Brother Justin were both left fatally injured from their climactic confrontation. Sofie went to the dark side, and the show seemed to be hinting at the possible end of the world still to come. Unfortunately, viewers did not get to see any apocalyptic action.
How They Wanted It To End: Creator Daniel Knauf said there was originally a five-season plan for the short-lived HBO series. This included Ben eventually re-assembling all of the favorite carnival members together to fight the growing threat that was Brother Justin at the end of the fourth season. But, in case that wasn’t enough, the fifth season would have then dealt with Ben trying to prevent the creation of atomic weapons:
“In Ben’s mind, detonation of the atom bomb is the end of the world. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s just the end of his world… But he’s misinterpreted it. He thinks he’s saving the world, but what he learns before the end is that, “I have to let this happen, because if I don’t let this happen, mankind will remain in a state of adolescence.” He learns that’s really why Sofie is called the Omega. She is the only female, the last Avatar. What it’s all leading up to is two Avatars, she and Ben having this child. They actually have to sacrifice this child in the blast.”
How It Ended: This breakout sports drama ended on a massive cliffhanger, as Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) suffered an arm injury, which resulted in her going to the hospital. Fans never got to learn the extent of her injury, though, or how Ginny’s career would be affected by it in the future.
How They Wanted It To End: Showrunner Kevin Falls told THR that the show’s second season would have revolved around Ginny returning from her injury and starting work during Spring Training the following season:
“We want to start with Spring Training and that first day you arrive at camp. There are four or five months between the end of the season and Spring Training when a lot of personal things happen to players – injuries, surgeries, marriages, changes in the teams, firing of managers. Who is at Spring Training? Who didn’t come back? Who was traded?”
How It Ended: Despite being one of the most beloved comedies on the air at the time, Happy Endingsnever made it to its fourth season. Instead, the series ended with Alex and Dave breaking up and the main crew dancing to Stevie Wonder at a wedding.
How They Wanted It To End: Creator David Caspe revealed to TVLine that the show’s fourth season likely would have focused on the development of a relationship between Dave and Alex:
“We wanted to have them break up in an amicable way so we could go back to telling Dave’s dating stories in a way that was more serious, or Alex dating and what that would mean for the group in a way that was more even-handed. Would Penny have been part of that? Maybe. I think we would have needed to regroup because Penny and Alex are so close and that relationship is so important and they’ve known each other their whole lives… We would have had to handle that. And maybe we would have, I’m not sure.”
How It Ended: In one of the weirdest TV twists ever, Felicity’s final episodes involved the titular character going back in time one year to try and change the future, to where she had chosen Noel over Ben. But when her actions result in the death of a loved one and irrevocable changes to some of her friends’ lives, she decides to go back to her previous, unaltered present timeline.
How They Wanted It To End: J.J. Abrams’ original ending for Felicity was always for her to end up happy with Ben. But when the show was picked up for five additional episodes after that ending was filmed and completed, Abrams and co. concocted that strange time travel plot to try and draw out five episodes’ worth of more tension and uncertainty.
How It Ended: This beloved stoner comedy ended its run on HBO in such a zany way that is all-too-fitting for the show: Jason Schwartzman’s character, Jonathan, realized he’d been sleeping with his half-sister (Isla Fisher), neither of them knowing they were in any way related.
How They Wanted It To End: While fans may never know definitively how the respective stories of Bored to Death‘s characters were going to end, creator Jonathan Ames did reveal how the series’ final revelation would have played into its fourth season:
“I don’t want people to think he wouldn’t tell her. He wants to tell her, but he was just weakened in that moment. And the idea that they’re siblings is so abstract, because he didn’t grow up with her. It’s hard for him to conceptualize. So he kisses her in the moment, but I wanted that last shot to mirror his confusion, so it’s spinning — almost like the start of the season when he’s on the circle with the knives. It’s vertigo. But in the next season, I was going to put her in a sanitarium. She was going to have a total breakdown. And in case Isla Fisher wasn’t available, I’d just need that one shot of her on a bench or in Switzerland, for her incest cure.”