Cliffhangers are annoying, aren't they? Leaving a cliffhanger constantly unresolved, be it from cancellation or just the way the creators wanted the show to end, makes it no more frustrating.
Let's count down five of these unresolved cliffhangers right now.
5. Sly left stranded in time – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (2013 PS3/PS Vita)
Credit - Sanzaru Games
The fourth title of the much-loved Sly Cooper franchise, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time follows the titular master thief and his buddies Murray and Bentley as they hop from time period to time period with Inspector Carmelita Fox hot on their trail in order to rescue Sly’s ancestors from the nefarious Le Paradox.
This ending isn’t shown upon the completion of the game, you have to work for it which makes it all the more frustrating.
You see, the game ends with Sly on Le Paradox’s blimp that’s on the same trajectory the Hindenburg was circa 1937. This is a bit of a Richard Relocation, or dick move, as we’re not given any indication whether Sly survives or not, which is enough of a cliffhanger on its own but the developers couldn’t resist doubling down with their secret ending.
Once you complete every single challenge and achieve the platinum trophy, the secret final cutscene plays showing Sly waking up in a desert with the camera panning around to show he’s in Ancient Egypt, presumably stuck there for good.
With no murmurs about a fifth title in the franchise for years now and the developer stating they had no plans for a fifth game it looks like that thieving racoon won’t be making it home any time soon.
4. The fate of Rembrandt – Sliders (1995 – 2000)
Credit - Universal Television
Sliders chronicles the adventures of a group of friends, and one unwilling participant, that travel from one parallel dimension to the other using a handheld timer device by ‘sliding’ -hence the name. The group is always trying to get back to their own dimension but for the entire show, they only delve further and further into different dimensions, getting caught up in the events of each dimension as they wait for the time to count down before they can jump again.
After five seasons, with a cancellation by Fox and subsequent revival by the SyFy channel, many fans were expecting the characters to finally get home. The final episode ends with the gang deciding whether they should slide to the next dimension as a psychic they encounter predicts a dire fate for the group if they jump.
Rembrandt, the team leader, decides to go first with the psychic being able to let the group know whether they can survive in the new dimension. The plan falls apart when the psychic dies of a heart attack as soon as Rembrandt slides into the next dimension. This leaves the rest of the group and the audience in the dark on whether Rembrandt survived.
This was done on purpose by the producers of the show when they were told that the fifth season would be the last in order to rally fan support. That idea backfired on them and potential talk of a movie was quashed without so much as a peep from the fans.
If it’s any consolation, quantum mechanics supports the idea that in one of the many, many dimensions Sliders is currently entering its twenty-fifth season…
3. Sam never returns home – Quantum Leap (1989 – 1993)
Credit - NBC
Another show about sci-fi travel, this time everyone’s favourite body-hopping hit, Quantum Leap. The show follows a scientist named Sam and his hologram companion Al as they travel between bodies and various shenanigans ensue. While the storylines weren’t profound, they blended together comedy, drama, and thoughtful sci-fi in a way that wasn’t to the detriment of viewers’ enjoyment in a way that many tv shows fail to understand today.
The final episode of the series opened with Sam leaping back to the bar on the day of his birth. Bucking the series tradition, he didn’t hop into the body of a stranger, rather he was in his own body. He meets the bartender that tells him he can return home anytime he wanted, presumably by clicking his heels together three times and saying there’s no place like home.
Instead of taking the opportunity, he’s spent all series looking for, he decides to visit Al’s first wife and let her know that Al is alive and would be coming home soon. The screen fades to black and we’re told that Al and his wife were reunited and had four children… and that Sam never returned home.
We never find out why Sam doesn’t get home. I’m sure the creator would have liked to tell us but the series was canceled with the episode originally serving as a cliffhanger. Without being able to properly end the series, the creator tacked on the text ending to try to give the viewers some closure… It didn’t work, but at least they tried.
2. Which survivor is infected? – The Thing (1982)
Credit - Universal Pictures
A horror classic from the mind of John Carpenter, The Thing is a film highly regarded for its amazing practical effects, chilling iconic score, and an incredible dower ending.
The final moments of the films leave us with Kurt Russell’s character, MacReady, who has survived the Antarctica base attack from the eponymous Thing after torching and napalming his way to a seemingly happy ending as he has destroyed the base and the creature inside it.
This is shattered as while MacReady sits among the burning ruins of the base, a previously thought dead character, Church, turns up alive and well… and possibly infected. Too weary and defeated to question how Church survived, MacReady hands his companion a drink. This is where the movie ends with the two men resolved to their fate, waiting to freeze to death or for the creature to reveal itself.
It’s an incredibly bleak ending and the internet fanboys debate today about which one of the two was infected. Carpenter has stated that he wanted to make a sequel but the terrible critical and box office reception put any plans for a sequel on ice.
1. The cliffhanger - The Italian Job (1969)
Credit - Paramount Pictures
One of Michael Caine’s best roles, this incredible British comedy follows Caine and his motley crew of thieves as they are released from prison in order to attempt to steal $4 million in Italian gold bullions from an armoured security truck in Turin and escaping to Switzerland.
The crew encounter challenges throughout the job including visits from the mafia, ending with a car chase involving iconic Mini Coopers that is still thrilling end exciting even today (it also led to a love of the old school Mini but that’s beside the point). The film ends with the crew having escaped Italy and on their way to Switzerland, the driver of the bus loses control and crashes, leaving the bus and our characters teetering precariously off the edge of a cliffside. The final shot of the film shows the bus teetering with Michael Caine’s voice announcing that he’s got a plan before rolling the credits.
There was talk of a sequel being concocted up involving the mafia stealing the gold back with Caine and crew launching another far-fetched plot to retrieve it but time marched ever onwards and plans fell to the wayside. I don’t have any problem with this though because even though it’s frustrating, this ending is close to perfect.
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