Shows that are good, despite not having a finale

I really enjoyed No Ordinary Family. Who else has seen it?

I can think of a few shows that work even better without a clear resolution.

Nowhere Man

**What’s that? - **A 1995 one-season show starring the great Bruce Greenwood as a photographer who’s suddenly involved in a ridiculous conspiracy with apparently unlimited reach and funds.

Was it any good? - It was A-mazing. Normally I’d be using words like “nonsensical” and “paranoid acid trip” as ways of describing bad storytelling- but this show took the crazy premise, run with it and ended up in the side of greatness. It’s like “The Prisoner” on drugs. Well, different drugs, at least.

The cliffhanger - Cancelled after the season finale, at least two explanations are given at the end of the season to explain the protagonist’s true origin. And maybe one is the truth, maybe both are red herrings. And it’s good that it was never explained, because any attempt at making sense of the whole thing would be just plain lame. Better to just imagine the possibilities.

Do Over

**What’s that? - ** 2002 one season comedy, starring a youn Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl fame. Joel Larsen is an unhappy office worker nearing middle age whose brain travels back in time to the 80’s, when he was fourteen, due to a silly accident.

Was it any good? - It wasn’t bad. Maybe the writers never got around to using the intriguing premise to its full potential, but during that first season, Joel transitioned from a fairly passive protagonist to one that ended up understanding that his crappy life was caused by his own apathy.

The cliffhanger - There wasn’t exactly one, but at the end of season 1 he had changed somewhat the future of his family, but we’ll never know if he ever got back to the future. By other means than just waiting a few years, I mean. And that’s fine, it was never the point of the show.


**What’s that? - ** Donald Logue and Michael Raymond-James are respectively a former alcoholic cop, and a former burglar- they start a sort of seedy detective agency.

Was it any good? - One of the best shows you’ll ever see. Believe me, I didn’t follow up after the pilot episode because I was done with procedurals, but its later cult following convinced me to give it another chance, and, oh boy, this is a top notch modern take on Raymond Chandler. The main plot is engrossing and the episodic cases are wonderfully well-crafted.

The cliffhanger - Terrific. At the end of the season, and I don’t want to spoil anything, the characters need to make a decision that would impact the next season, no matter what they chose. And it’s terrible that it was cancelled but, you know, this wasn’t a show that should have had a nice, clean resolution, because real life doesn’t have those either.

Kinda. We know that Jessica ended up in a coma in South America because she tells Benson this in his TV show. It’s not a great ending but given an opportunity to give the show a proper wrap up they chose to go with a coma which strikes me as true to the soap opera premise of the original show IMHO.

Journeyman. A really good time travel show that was building up an interesting arc. Cancelled due to low ratings, though if any show got its ratings now it would be considered a hit.

I would hesitate to call this show good but I did watch every episode!

Transporter: The Series (the TV version of the films) lasted two seasons. The first season was pretty much devoid of story arcs. The second season changed most of the supporting cast and had a vague arc.

The final episode ended with the Transporter (Frank Martin), having been forced to make himself a wanted criminal, driving his car at full speed down a narrow alley while the bad guy is driving towards him at an equally high speed. Unknown to the Transporter his female partner has been shot in the stomach and is lying on the pavement eyes open - TV code for ‘She could live… Or she could die…’

And there it ends.


IIRC there was a throwaway line in the first episode of Raising Hope that covered this - a television announcer saying “a small-time crook with a long list of wrongs he was making amends for has finally finished, and you’ll never guess how it ended.” But that’s all we got.

Yeah, that was a disappointment. All we’re left with is a reassurance (and angelic lightshow) from Steve that God’s got a plan.

Seen it. I really wanted to like it as I’m a Michael Chiklis fan but there was a fair amount of stupid in it and it couldn’t decide whether to be light or serious. Also, the goofy black friend/sidekick was awfully close to stereotype, even if he was an ADA (who never seemed to do any work, btw). I can’t say I’m too upset over its passing.

It is probably a good thin that John Doe ended when it did, because where they were going was IMHO suboptimal.

(this spoiler is in the link)

Make that someone who looked like John’s friend. The villain unmasked in the finale was actually just a Phoenix member with some fancy facial reconstruction. Turns out, the Phoenix believed Doe was the Messiah and its members were actually protecting Doe from a second group, which wanted him dead. The truth: Doe was injured in a boating accident. That mark on his chest? A scar left by a piece of shrapnel from the explosion. His Überbrain? A by-product of transcending his body during a near-death experience, traveling to a spiritual plane where all the universe’s questions are answered

The Fugitive has to be one of the first shows to have an actual finale, right?


WKRP in Cincinnati is probably the earliest example I can personally recall of a dangling cliffhanger, and I highly recommend the show regardless.

Oh wow, I had no idea they did this*!* I never watched Benson much, it was less ‘edgy’ than *Soap *and more of a traditional sitcom. That’s all they mentioned, Jessica? No word if Burt the Sheriff survived the ambush?

Fawlty Towers simply ended with another solid 1/2 hour of laughs without any indication the show had come to an end.

I’d say Jericho, although I heard that the series was continued in comic books or graphic novels or something. The show had a final episode, of course, but I would have really liked to see where it was going after that.

Well, it did include Basil having finally passed out on the floor (and Manuel dragging him away) having exerted the absolute last bit of civility he could possibly muster to keep the health inspector satisfied…

Gilligan’s Island

Leave it to Beaver had a finale, kind of. A Clip show.

Pushing Daisies. I still miss it.

That makes sense if your show is purely episodic–but if it has arcs, then it wasn’t the same even when on the air.

A finale doesn’t have to end everything, just bring some plot line or character arc to a satisfying conclusion. Consider “All Good Things” from TNG. They were still going on. But there was still a finale–you still got some weight at the end.

Similarly, the Nanny continued on, but there was a big situation at the end–Fran had a baby. Sure, it’s a different chapter in their lives, but it’s not as if you can’t still imagine her and Mr. Sheffield out there, doing their thing.

I will admit I find it odd when they wrap up things that weren’t a thing, however. Like Fresh Prince and leaving the house.

Actually I was fine with the way it ended, to go further in my opinion would have been outside the scope of a tv show.

As an aside, there is now a current show called Jericho, its not the same.


They did a TV movie. Long story shot: they got off the island, hated returning to civilization, and were happy when they all got on a boat and ended up marooned again.

Freaks & Geeks.

Brilliant show, ended way too soon after just one season.

And it happened like two more times (they made at least three TV movies*!*)