What’s the Most Notable Plot Dangler That You Can Think Of From a TV Series?
Today, I’m looking to see what notable plot danglers you can think of from TV series.
Pop Culture Theme Time is a feature where I put a question to you to see what you think about a particular theme. I might later revisit the theme for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns or Top Five.
My pal Wayne suggested this one to me. Obviously, if you’re a comic book fan at all, you’re well acquainted with the idea of the “plot dangler,” which is a plot that is introduced but then never resolved. It is just left there, hanging.
I’m curious about some notable examples of these plot danglers from TV series. I don’t mean things like a cliffhanger on a show that was canceled, but shows that ended on their own terms and yet never resolved a plot (or, in the alternative, current shows that have not YET resolved a plot and probably never will).
My pick is the iconic “Pine Barrens” Sopranos episode, where Christopher and Paulie are meant to kill a Russian gangster but he gets away and it is just never explained what happened to him (as I noted in an old TV Legends Revealed, David Chase came close at one point, but he decided to just leave it unresolved).
That’s similar to another old TV Legends Revealed about how How I Met Your Mother almost revealed the mystery of the pineapple in its final season…
before deciding not to and choosing instead to ruin the show with a terrible finale.
Okay, so that’s my pick (plus a bonus pick and a bonus complaint about the awful the How I Met Your Mother finale was)! How about you?
And feel free to suggest future Pop Culture Theme Time topics to me at email@example.com! Thanks to Wayne for this suggestion!
5 thoughts on “What’s the Most Notable Plot Dangler That You Can Think Of From a TV Series?”
First one that comes to mind is Negaduck, from the 2017 DuckTales series.
The episode in question was great and a really clever way of handling it, being a stealth origin for Darkwing, but ending with the revelation that Jim Starling is actually this continuity’s version of Negaduck. He makes a sinister vow to play the villain for real and to get his revenge…and he never appears again, even in the Darkwing-focused episodes that followed.
“POWER RANGERS TURBO,” the 5th season of the overall POWER RANGERS franchise (circa 1997), introduced a mysterious Phantom Ranger who aided the heroes in several episodes across that season and the next, “POWER RANGERS IN SPACE”. His identity was never officially revealed. His final appearance, in the sixth season finale “Countdown to Destruction,” from 1998, included a scene which was filmed which confirmed his identity, but when Fox cut the finale from 3 episodes to 2, it was cut. That finale was intended to be the end of the entire franchise (or at least the Americanized version of Japan’s SUPER SENTAI), but the ratings proved to be still high, so it endured. Boy, has it endured.
Fan theories as to the Phantom Ranger’s identity abounded. Producer Shuki Levy gave some interviews about it and his original plans, and eventually BOOM! Studios comics (written years later by others) clarified things. But to the TV viewers, it’s remained a mystery.
One of the ones that’s stuck with me is Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s episode from Season 1 “Teacher’s Pet.” At the end of the episode, it does the rather cliché “but some of the monster’s eggs managed to survive” bit (see also 1998’s Godzilla). Given how tightly entwined some bits from later seasons became, it’s a bit surprising that this creature never showed up again. I’m not even sure that it was addressed in the comics like Alex’s example; the creature was mentioned, but the eggs never led to a plot point in a future episode.
The logical place probably would have been the second-season episode “Bad Eggs” which also dealt with an egg-laying monster under the school, but nope.
In the case of 1998’s “GODZILLA,” the fate of the eggs is revealed in the spinoff animated TV series, GODZILLA: THE SERIES, which aired on FoxKids for two seasons from 1998-2000 and was actually very, very good. Almost good enough to justify the film that spawned it. Almost.
Kevin Dunn and Michael Lerner even reprised their roles from the film, as Maj. Anthony Hicks and NYC Mayor Ebert, respectively.
Fascinating, Alex! I don’t think I’ve done “Wrap It Up” for this site yet (my feature about plot points wrapped up in other series), so that’d be perfect for that!