(WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for the series mentioned. Proceed with caution.)
Television can be a tricky medium. A show can seem top of the heap at one moment before a drop in ratings sees it cancelled, with writers scrambling to wrap up years' worth of storylines in a single season, or if the cancellation is particularly sudden, a single episode. Even when the creators of a series choose to end it on their own terms, as #JossWhedon did with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a plot thread or two can still be left hanging.
However, this may be beginning to change. With the resurgence in the popularity of #comics, many once loved #television shows are being continued or revived in comic book form. Others have used novels, or in the case of Doctor Who, audio dramas, to wrap up loose ends. Here are some examples of unresolved stories that were ultimately finished in other mediums.
1. Where Did Nightcrawler Go After X-Men 2?
Quickly becoming a fan favorite after his introduction in X2: X-Men United, fans were surprised when Nightcrawler failed to appear in the third film, leaving his unknown whereabouts one of the biggest unanswered questions of the initial trilogy. The simplest answer is that actor Alan Cumming declined to return. However, an in-universe answer is provided in X-Men: The Official Game.
Beginning soon after the events of X2, Nightcrawler's segment opens with the X-Men discovering that William Stryker still possesses parts of Cerebro that he had stolen during the film. Nightcrawler's ability to teleport makes him the obvious choice to retrieve them. Through the events of the game, it is revealed that Nightcrawler is being haunted by the voice of Jason Stryker after leaving him behind while rescuing Professor X in the film.
Jason has been split in two — his mind is the kind-hearted boy the Professor once taught, while his physical form is a malevolent being molded by his Father. Jason eventually gives his own life to help Nightcrawler, destroying his evil physical self. Saddened by this turn of events, Nightcrawler leaves the X-Mansion, needing a break from all the fighting.
2. What Caused The Sixth Doctor To Regenerate?
Of the many regeneration sequences that have taken place throughout both the new and classic series of Doctor Who, the transformation of Sixth Doctor Colin Baker into Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy is by far the most widely disliked. This is mostly because Colin was not even present, meaning the Sixth Doctor's final moments are just Sylvester filmed from behind in a curly blonde wig. Adding to this, the reason given for the regeneration — that The Doctor suffered a very nasty bump on the head during a turbulent trip in the TARDIS — is just, well, stupid.
Thankfully, these mistakes were corrected in the four-hour audio drama The Last Adventure. Over the course of four stories set at various points during the Sixth Doctor's tenure, The Valeyard, — described here by The Doctor as "a distillation of all my negative impulses" — slowly builds a devious plot. This plot comes to a head in the final story, "The Brink Of Death."
After one final confrontation with The Valeyard, The Sixth Doctor begins to succumb to the effects of radiation leaking from the damaged TARDIS, with the story concluding just as the regeneration process begins. This new ending blends seamlessly with the beginning of the first Seventh Doctor story, "Time And The Rani." Rather than being the cause of his regeneration, the crash was a symptom of the dying Sixth Doctor losing control of the already damaged TARDIS.
3. Xander And Anya Get Closure On Their Relationship
For many Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans, one of the most heartbreaking moments of the series finale is seeing Xander desperately calling for his ex, Anya, unaware that her dead body lies just a few feet away from him. While the pair were not technically together at the time, they still had strong feelings for one another. With Anya's death, it appeared as though neither one of them would ever truly have closure on the relationship.
This changed in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 10 comic book. Suffering relationship troubles with his current girlfriend, Dawn, Xander is shocked when Anya's spirit began appearing to him. At first fearing for their friend's mental state, the Scoobies eventually discover that Anya's spirit is real, summoned as part of a plot by D'Hoffryn, the leader of the Vengeance Demons. Believing he has turned Anya against the Scooby Gang, D'Hoffryn restores her to corporeal form, along with the full range of her demonic powers.
Instead, Anya double crosses D'Hoffryn in order to protect Xander from harm. Angered, D'Hoffryn inflicts Anya with fatal burns, and a devastated Xander is left to hold her as she dies for the second time. Buffy avenges her friend's death by finally killing D'Hoffryn. Though tragic, many fans have come to prefer Anya's second death, as it gives the character a heroic end more fitting of her full story arc, as well as allowing Xander the chance to say goodbye.
4. What Happened To Zuko's Mother?
While "Sozin's Comet," the final episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, is easily one of the most satisfying endings to an #animated series in recent memory, the show still left a number of dangling plot threads, one being the whereabouts of Zuko's mother, Ursa. In the show, we learn that Ursa was banished, leaving the Fire Nation immediately following the death of Fire Lord Azulon, pausing briefly to say goodbye to Zuko.
"Zuko, please, my love, listen to me. Everything I've done, I've done to protect you. Remember this, Zuko. No matter how things may seem to change, never forget who you are."
While Zuko often questions his father and sister about Ursa's whereabouts in the latter part of the series, he never gets a straight answer.
All is eventually revealed in the three-part graphic novel The Search, taking place a few years after the TV series ended. Forming an uneasy truce with his insane sister, Azula, Zuko enlists the help of Aang and the rest of Team Avatar to help keep her in line as they embark on a search for their Mother. When they finally locate Ursa in her Hometown of Hira'a, they find her having assumed a new identity (Noriko), complete with a brand new face. Zuko also had the chance to meet his stepfather, Noren, and young half-sister, Kiyi. After saving Ursa/Noriko from an attack by Azula, who angrily viewed Kiyi as her replacement, Zuko happily invited his new family to stay in the palace with him.
5. What's In River Song's Diary?
The relationship between The Doctor and his wife, River Song, is a rather unusual one, both because their adventures together often occur out of order, and also because a great many of them happen off-screen. Viewers get to see a snippet here and there, but for the most part, we are left to fill in the gaps ourselves.
Thankfully, there are now quite a few pieces of expanded universe material that help with this. The video game The Eternity Clock gave players a few peeks within the pages of River's Diary, describing how she made her way to Luna University after the events of "Let's Kill Hitler," as well as a brief encounter with the First Doctor, and various alien fact files.
Meanwhile, a comic book adventure titled "The One" has River use information inside the diary to ensure The Doctor is exonerated from a charge of war crimes. The novel The Legends Of River Song describes the events of River and The Doctor's "Picnic At Asgard," referenced a few times on the show.
This story also provides an explanation as to why River and The Doctor probably never had children together. River plans to broach the subject with him on the trip to Asgard, but when she plucks up the courage to do so, discovers that The Doctor is distracted and not really listening to her. Soon after, everything erupts into The Doctor's usual brand of chaos, and River, quietly heartbroken, comes to the decision that it would be too dangerous for The Doctor and her to have a child.
'Mystery of the Universe,’ I said, breathing out and trying to let go of the idea of that extraordinary thing I yearned for; life that remakes life on and on and on. That no matter what the science tells you, the fact that something alive can grow inside you, something brand new and unique — even though it is made of the same mix of stardust and honey and hope as everything else that ever lived — is a mystery; that every baby is a piece of magic.
Finally, we have the Big Finish audio series The Diary Of River Song. Aside from giving us a few more glimpses at River's solo adventures, these stories have begun to describe exactly how River came to know all of The Doctor's faces. She has so far encountered the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, with a possibility of more to come.
6. Why Doesn't Darth Vader Recognize R2-D2 And C3-PO?
Some of the biggest complaints regarding the #StarWars prequels stem from the multiple plot inconsistencies between them and the events of the original trilogy. Among them, the one most often referenced is that #DarthVader never seems to recognize R2-D2 or C3-PO, despite the fact that Anakin Skywalker built C3-PO as a child, and both droids are frequently in his company throughout the sequels.
This question is at least partly answered in "Thank The Maker," a story featured in issue six of the Star Wars Tales comic book. While the bulk of the story is set late in Empire Strikes Back, it is sprinkled with flashbacks taking place pre-Phantom Menace. As the comic begins, Vader orders the broken C3-P0 destroyed. His subordinates fail to carry out the order, instead bringing the pieces of the droid to Vader in the belief its memory could hold important information. Interspersed through all this are flashbacks of young Anakin finding a broken droid (the future C3-P0), and beginning to rebuild it. The final flashback bleeds back into the present, as Anakin's Mother reminds him of his responsibility to the droid he is building, and leaves him with these words:
Unless you are prepared to care for something, you don't deserve to have it.
The memory of his mother's words clearly affect the present Darth Vader, who spends a tender moment with his old droid before, to the surprise of his men, he orders that all of C3-P0's parts be returned to Chewbacca.
7. What Happened To The Crew Of Serenity?
Joss Whedon's cult classic space western #Firefly will forever be one of the most tragic examples of a TV series cancelled before its time. While huge fan campaigns and high DVD sales led to a small miracle in the series sequel film, Serenity, any hopes of further sequels or a series revival were dashed as the film also left multiple, dangling plot threads.
Enter comics to save the day once again. As well as filling in the gaps of events both before and after the TV series — such as A Shepherd's Tale finally revealing the backstory of Shepherd Book — later comics dealt with events occurring after the film. The popular comic miniseries Serenity: Leaves On The Wind included the birth of Zoe and Wash's daughter, Emma, nine months after her father's death, and also showed that River's mental state had improved enough that Emma was occasionally left in her care. Perhaps most important of all, the comics let fans know that Mal and Inara finally ended up together. Yay!
8. Who Survived The Battle Against The Senior Partners?
It is a well-known fact among fans of Joss Whedon's work that the #Buffy spin-off Angel was not supposed to end with its fifth season. After it was unexpectedly cancelled, writers scrambled to create a satisfying ending for fans. What they got was Angel and his surviving friends standing together as they entered an apocalyptic battle, complete with a dragon emerging from the sky. This ending, while fitting Angel's darker tone and the theme of his never-ending search for redemption, understandably disappointed those fans who had been expecting an epic, definitive conclusion similar to the one Buffy had the previous year.
Thankfully, like its parent series, Angel was eventually continued in a comic format. Angel: After The Fall picks up almost immediately after the series conclusion. Angel and his friends are quickly separated during battle, just before the Senior Partners plunge the entire city of Los Angeles into hell. The city becomes divided into evil factions each led by a separate Demon Lord. Angel initially plans to reclaim Los Angeles by slaying the Demon Lords, but soon discovers that it is not that simple.
His friend/rival Spike had re-assumed his evil identity to become the Lord Of Beverly Hills, while secretly smuggling innocents to another friend of Angel's, the empathic demon Lorne. Lorne ruled as the Lord of Silver Lake, making the area a Sanctuary for any benevolent being who reached it. Angel enlists their help to defeat the other Lords, while also fending off attacks from Gunn, who had sadly become a vampire.
After defeating the Demon Lords, Angel briefly instates Lorne as the Lord of all Los Angeles. Remembering that Wolfram and Hart need him alive for some yet-to-be-revealed purpose, Angel allows Gunn to kill him, forcing the Senior Partners to perform a time fold that reversed the city's fall to hell and everything that happened afterwards, meaning Angel and all others killed during the fall were restored to life, and Gunn was returned to human form.
9. What Are The Details Of The Time War?
For much of the revival series of Doctor Who, the Time War was nothing but a mysterious and tragic event in The Doctor's past that left him as the last living Time Lord. While the events that ultimately ended the War are seen in the 50th anniversary special "Day Of The Doctor," diehard #Whovians were still left with many questions.
Now, just over a decade after the Time War was first mentioned onscreen, the four-volume War Doctor audio set, and the novel Engines Of War have finally provided some answers. Among describing many of The Doctor's adventures during the War, one story in the War Doctor set reveals the answer to the often asked question of what happened to former Fourth Doctor companion Leela after the war broke out. Engines Of War occurs closer to the events of "Day Of The Doctor," revealing the tragic fate of companion Cinder as the catalyst that prompts The War Doctor to finally end the War.
10. What Happened To Everyone?
In 2016, fans of #horror series #PennyDreadful were left surprised and saddened when the show unexpectedly ended at the conclusion of its third season. While the series' central character, Vanessa Ives, was killed off in the final episode, the fates of many other characters were left up in the air, and multiple plot lines unresolved.
While these questions have not been answered yet, hopefully they soon will be. Titan Books has announced a Penny Dreadful comic series, picking up six months after the show left off, to be released sometime in 2017.