Most spin-offs are pure trash, nothing more than a desperate attempt to latch onto the success of one show and get the advertising cash to keep rolling. As such, many spin-offs fail. But sometimes, whether they are good or bad (and a select few have been very good), a spin-off can reveal some very important information. Whether it be a TV show, straight-to-DVD movie, low budget video game, paperback novel, or comic book, the fates of many popular characters have only been revealed in spin-off projects.
Here are 12 fairly important characters that left viewers hanging, only for their story to be continued (or ended) in some other format — in some cases, one that very few people ever heard of.
The first Saw movie was a unique and twisted take on the horror genre when it was first released in 2004. The many sequels that have come since just aren’t as good. Adding a bit of star power to the original, though, was Danny Glover, who played obsessed David Tapp, a former police detective who had become obsessed with catching the Jigsaw Killer after his partner was murdered while pursuing him.
As Tapp slowly puts the pieces together, he chases Jigsaw’s unwilling accomplice Zep into the sewers near the end of the film, but ends up taking a bullet to the chest. Viewers assumed he was left for dead, but instead he reappeared in the Saw video game in 2009. Turns out that Jigsaw nursed Tapp back to health, sewed a key inside his chest, and trapped him in an abandoned insane asylum. The canon ending of the game has Tapp saving a bunch of people, but letting Jigsaw get away in the process. He eventually commits suicide out of guilt, a fate that was then confirmed in Saw V when his face was part of a police memorial.
There is another ending, though, which involves Tapp literally going crazy over Jigsaw’s violent mind games, and being institutionalized.
David Boreanaz played Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a vampire with a human soul who becomes an ally (and lover) to Buffy Summers, the woman chosen as “the Slayer.” Obviously, the relationship is complicated. After a couple of seasons on Buffy, Angel was given his own self-titled spin-off show that features him working as a private detective in Los Angeles. But if you thought this section was about that series, you’re wrong! Angel concluded with an open ending, when Angel and his allies engaged in a battle with a large group of monsters. Then the show was cancelled, never revealing his eventual fate.
After Angel was cancelled in 2004, the character’s official story was carried on in a series of comic books — Angel: After the Fall (2007–2009), Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (2007–2011) and Angel & Faith (2011–2013). Angel continues to battle the outside forces of evil, along with the evil within himself. Buffy and Angel don’t end up together, and he lives on (he’s an immortal vampire, after all) to continue fighting demons.
The Matrix trilogy has a happy ending, right? Neo sacrificed himself for the sake of humanity, defeated the virus known as Agent Smith that the machines could no longer control, and brought peace to Zion. So what happened to Lawrence Fishburn’s character of Morpheus, who spent the entire trilogy dedicating his life to finding The One and ending the war.
In The Matrix Online, a moderately successful video game that attempted to turn the fictional universe into an online RPG, the story continued. Morpheus demands that the machine return Neo’s body, but they refuse. In response, Morpheus begins performing terrorist attacks inside the Matrix, forcing those who are still plugged in to panic (and sometimes forces them awake before they are ready). During one such attack, he is shot and killed by a masked figure known only as “The Assassin.” And everyone knows, if you die in the Matrix, you die in real life. The only possible hope that Morpheus could still be alive, however, is the fact that no one has found his body in the real world yet — just like Neo’s.
As long as movie fans keep buying tickets, the machete wielding Summer camp killer Jason Voorhees will never actually die for good. But Jason X was truly a departure from the normal, as the movie was set in the year 2455 and took place entirely in space. Yeah, it was weird.
Along the way, Jason gets an upgrade thanks to nanite medical microbots and murders a bunch more teens. Eventually, the chaos results is the spaceship exploding as Uber Jason falls to the surface of Earth Two (because humans wrecked the first one), apparently being incinerated when entering the atmosphere.
However, a series of novels like Death Moon, To The Third Power and Planet Of The Beast tell more tales of Uber Jason, as he continues to kill in the 25th century (and even ends up with a son, conceived through some sort of advanced future artificial insemination).
Maybe we’re cheating a bit with this one, because even though Fraiser started as a spin-off for the popular Cheers character Frasier Crane, the new series was wildly popular and successful all on its own. Running for another 11 full seasons and 264 episodes, Frasier shows that Dr. Crane divorces Lilith (off-screen) and moves from Boston to Seattle to star in his own telephone therapy call-in radio show.
At the end of the series, Frasier is offered a job hosting his own television show (probably a Dr. Phil style affair) in San Francisco, which he accepts. However, he’s last seen boarding a plane to Chicago, presumably to rekindle his relationship with Charlotte Connor (Laura Linney).
Rosemary’s Baby was a twisted and controversial film when it was released in 1968. The plot, for anyone who doesn’t know, involves an unwilling and naive young woman (Mia Farrow) becoming pregnant with the spawn of Satan. No, not a particularly fussy and stubborn infant, but the literal child of the Devil himself. Although she is understandably horrified when she learns the truth, the movie ends with her seemingly accepting the child’s origin.
Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby is a little remembered straight-to-TV movie that aired in 1976. The first act of the movie involved Rosemary and her son Adrian (now 8-years-old) trying to escape the Satanic coven. Unfortunately, the dark followers catch up with her and trick her into getting on a bus, which Rosemary thinks will transport her safely away. Except the bus is possessed and doesn’t even have a driver. It drives off with a hysterical Rosemary inside, and she’s never seen again. Later, after a 20-year time jump, Adrian is told that his parents were killed in a car accident.
Remember President David Palmer from 24? Yeah, the same guy in those annoying Allstate Insurance commercials. Well, if you watched through enough seasons of the hit Fox drama series, you know that President Palmer was assassinated in the opening moments of Season Five. His brother Wayne (D.B. Woodside), who was acting as a presidential advisor, attempts to track down his brother’s killer.
In Season Six, Wayne Palmer is elected president himself. After a really rough day (which is the whole premise of the show, really), President Wayne Palmer collapses during a press conference and is whisked away by medical staff. His status was officially “unknown” until the made-for-TV movie spin-off 24: Redemption was released in 2008. A newspaper clipping shown in the film reveals that Wayne never woke from his coma and passed away in the hospital. A bit anticlimactic, but at least fans weren’t left wondering.
Cleveland Brown was one of Peter Griffin’s quirky but lovable neighbors, living across the street from the Family Guy patriarch for the first seven seasons of the show. When he got divorced from his wife Loretta in Season Four, it was only a matter of time before Cleveland left Cuahog and started his own show, The Cleveland Show, in his hometown of Stoolbend, Virginia. He married a different woman (Donna Tubbs) and became a stepfather to her children.
After a series of misadventures in Virginia, Cleveland would eventually return to Cuahog in 2013 after Fox cancelled The Cleveland Show. Peter and the gang initially gave him a hard time for “spinning off” on his own, but he was eventually welcomed back into the fold, along with his new family from Stoolbend.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial never had a sequel, despite being a huge success. Such a thing would be unheard of these days, although Steven Spielberg did actually start working on another chapter of the story — there was even a rough script at one point. It involved Elliot and his friends being kidnapped by a group of mean aliens who are trying to track down E.T.
The movie obviously never got made, but Spielberg did allow it to get turned into a novel, which was titled E.T.: The Book Of The Green Planet. It had a bunch of big differences from the original script, and basically featured E.T. returning to his home planet only to discover that his entire species were very angry at him. He gets demoted and become a social outcast. Meanwhile, Elliot is on the verge of becoming a teenager and gets a crush on one of his female classmates. Filled with raging hormones and teen angst, Elliot’s strong emotions can still be felt by E.T., all the way across the galaxy. E.T. decides to once again leave his home planet, and boards a spaceship back for Earth. The book ends before he lands.
The actual fate of Jimmy McGill aka Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad is yet to be determined. But Vince Gilligan, the creator of both shows, has gone on record saying this spin-off will actually take place before, during, and after the events of Breaking Bad. We’ve seen plenty of the “before” part already, as we’ve watched three seasons of Jimmy try to avoid slipping into the Saul persona. Sadly, we know he eventually fails.
We’ve also seen short snippets of Gene, the identity that McGill adopts after the events of Breaking Bad. In an effort to escape the heat from the whole Heisenberg investigation, he takes a job managing a Cinnibon store somewhere in Nebraska. By the time the series concludes, we should know exactly how Jimmy’s story really ends. If it’s anything like the rest of the Breaking Bad universe, it probably won’t be a happy one.
If you’re only a casual Star Wars fan, the last thing you remember about Darth Maul is probably him being sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and falling into a large reactor pit. Instant death, right? Wrong. George Lucas granted the producers of The Clone Wars animated series to bring Darth Maul back, and they conceived a somewhat believable explanation for him not being dead.
When Maul was sliced in half, the heat from the lightsaber actually cauterized the wound. Although the lower half of his body did fall to certain doom, he managed to grab a ledge while falling into the reactor pit and pulled himself out. He manages to escape and build himself robotic legs. After that, he continues to clash with the Jedi on a quest for revenge. Ultimately, Maul catches up with Obi-Wan, only for the Jedi master to once again get the upper hand and land a fatal blow on the Sith lord.
Jar Jar Binks
Yes, we’re ending with back-to-back Star Wars characters. After all, it’s one of the most diverse and expansive fictional universes in the entirety of pop culture. Jar Jar Binks was a major character in the prequels, but his all-CGI creation and incredibly annoying mannerisms caused fans to revolt against him. He was so hated that George Lucas begrudgingly reduced his roles in Episodes II and III.
By the end of Revenge of the Sith, Jar Jar was mostly a forgotten character. His ultimate fate was only revealed in the novel Star Wars: Aftermath — Empire’s End, which detailed the events between Episodes VI and VII. In what is basically a throw away line by one of the other characters, it’s revealed that Jar Jar has been reduced to the lowly role of a street performer on the planet Naboo after society turned their backs on him for the role he played in the Galactic Empire’s rise to power. Sorry Jar Jar, but we’re not sorry.