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Television viewers are a fickle bunch. We often demand deep, rich histories from our entertainment, but when shows with complex mythologies make it on the air, sometimes people simply don’t give enough of a crap. People don’t tune in, ratings drop, and before you know it, shows are cancelled and we’re left dangling with series-ending cliffhangers that will never be resolved. Here are six TV shows that ended on maddening cliffhangers. (Of course, a massive SPOILER ALERT for each of these ill-fated shows)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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For my money, there is no greater time-travel mythology than the Terminator franchise. Through multiple films with varying levels of quality and success (I’m looking at you, Rise of the Machines), we’ve tracked the adventures of John and Sarah Connor as they fought to save the future from … itself … or something. After its second season in 2009, The Sarah Connor Chronicles came to an end when John Connor was launched into a future where not a single person knows who the hell he is. No resistance, nothing. Where does any of this fit in the canon?! Did it ever even happen?! Is it all a goddamned fever dream?!

Alcatraz

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Alcatraz was a criminally (lulz) underrated show that aired back in 2012, starring Hurley from Lost and Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park, who may or may not have been reprising each of those characters (they weren’t). In it, hundreds of inmates and guards disappeared from Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary and reappeared in the present. You know what would’ve been awesome to see before its cancellation at the end of season one? A freaking explanation. Yep, the show was murdered in cold blood before we ever got an answer as to why these criminals just arbitrarily time-jumped against their will. I would’ve accepted both “smoke monster” and “dinosaurs” as potential explanations.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

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After four seasons of Lois & Clark, 1997 saw Clark Kent finally marry Lois Lane. Everything’s going fine (well, unless you ask Brodie from Mallrats, who has famously strong opinions on the dangers of Super-baby-making), when at the very end of the season, the newlyweds find a baby in the Bassinet of Solitude (unofficial name, but c’mon, who wouldn’t call it that?) Along with it is a note claiming that the baby belongs to them. THE. END. This super-frustrating ending lived on in canon until 2011, when executive producer Brad Buckner explained that the baby would turn out to be Kryptonian royalty who would grow up at a rapid rate before leaving his new folks to return home. I feel like every show should feature a rapidly aging alien prince. Tell me that wouldn’t get you to watch more Downton Abbey.

Twin Peaks

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For all of the weirdness that David Lynch brought us with Twin Peaks, it makes a certain amount of sense that it would’ve ended on such a frustrating note. In the 29th and final episode, we see Agent Dale Cooper possessed by the evil Killer BOB, smashing his head into a mirror and laughing uncontrollably. We never learn anything past that (since the movie, Fire Walk With Me, was a prequel), but the scene would go on to inspire Jim Carrey’s terrifying bathroom scene in Liar, Liar. That’s not true at all, but how scary was that scene? That one haunted my dreams for years.

 

Carnivale

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Carnivale was all about a traveling carnival (natch) back in 1930s, led by that little guy from Twin Peaks (how rad is that?!). There is so, so much mythology to explore in this show, but it involves nuclear testing, religious cults, supernatural powers and the like, stories originally planned to be told over the course of six seasons. Sadly, it only made it to two, with several main characters ending the show having been shot, stabbed, knocked out, etc. Luckily, this would definitely be the last time HBO ever ended anything on a cliffhanger, right?

The Sopranos

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Damn it. The final episode of The Sopranos has lived in infamy for the better part of a decade due to its ambiguity. Tony cues up “Don’t Stop Believin’” on a diner jukebox while a man in a Members Only jacket sits nearby. He gets up and passes the table, Tony looks up, possibly about to meet his fate and then CHECK THE GATE, ROLL CREDITS, END SERIES. You know, I can forgive a cliffhanger ending, but starting the plague that was the years-long resurgence of “Don’t Stop Believin’”? You can go right to hell, Sopranos.

 

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6 TV Shows That Ended on Maddening Cliffhangers

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