The 5 Most Maddeningly Unresolved TV Plot Lines
Writing TV shows is hard. We think. Actually it probably depends on the show.
Either way, with all those characters and plotlines going on it's apparently really easy to lose track of what you're doing. That's why even good shows have plotlines that they've just discarded like so many Egg McMuffin wrappers on the street.
Peter from Heroes Dumps his Girlfriend... in the Future
In season two of Heroes, superpowered protagonist Peter Petrelli and his girlfriend Caitlin time-travel to a virus-riddled, post-apocalyptic New York City.
Peter's time travel powers conveniently wonk out, stranding Caitlin in the future. Once back in the present, Peter thwarts the world-ending pandemic, thereby altering the timestream, saving humanity and scoring another cheap victory for bullshit TV physics.
But wait! Before you uncork that champagne, Peter, we have one big elephant in the room to address: Where the hell is your time-displaced girlfriend?
Why It's Maddening:
Who knows? And frankly, who cares? Certainly Peter doesn't, seeing as how he never mentions Caitlin again.
It's not actually Peter's fault here. Caitlin was a casualty of the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike. NBC aired only half the season's episodes, effectively shelving Heroes' spring storylines.
When the next season rolled around, Heroes creator Tim Kring was eager to jump-start the flagging series, sans time travel and pointless tertiary love interests. When asked if Caitlin would ever return, he blithely responded, "No, we passed it, we leapfrogged it."
Fair enough, but Peter's total lack of concern for Caitlin raises some disturbing implications for his character. At best, he's left her in a hellish alternate reality where 93 percent of humanity is dead. At worst, he's erased her from existence, or at least consigned her to some unfathomable living death.
Any way you cut it, he's whatever the diametric opposite of a hero is. What's that term? Oh right: douchetard.
Though if NBC had renamed the show Heroes (and One Huge Douchetard) it would probably still beat Chuck in the Nielsen ratings.
"For the last fucking time, I am NOT Jim from The Office."
A Loose End Bugs Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Early in season one, Xander Harris, Buffy's endearingly pathetic sidekick, catches the eye of a substitute teacher who's really a giant, sex-hormone-secreting praying mantis. Sadly, this fling is the apex of Xander's sexual competence throughout the entire series.
She mates with virginal men and kills them post-coitus, thereby sparing them either the embarrassment of losing one's virginity to a giant insect, or at least the burden of a lifelong giant insect fetish, Spider-Woman notwithstanding.
We know spiders aren't insects. We just felt like posting some classy art.
Luckily, Buffy saves the day and preserves Xander's innocence. Unluckily for Sunnydale High, the episode ends with a cache of hidden she-mantis eggs hatching in the science room!
Why It's Maddening:
We never see the creepy sex-mantises again.
Plenty of lesser shows allow minor plots to meander off into nothingness, but this is Buffy, a show notorious for never, ever letting plot threads die, no matter how mind-bendingly convoluted (see: Dawn, Buffy's magical, whiny real-not real hallucination of a sister).
So yeah, Joss Whedon, we're calling you out on this: Where the hell are our sex bugs? And while we're at it, can we have Eliza Dushku too?
Scratch that. You can keep the sex bugs.
We get that the episode's statutory rape subplot may not have jibed with the WB's family-friendlier fare, but this is Buffy. Every other week some vampire/demon/yeti tries to kill Buffy/enslave mankind/take Willow to a gay pride parade. In Sunnydale terms, some Mary Kay Letourneau action would register on the low end of the weird-o-meter.
Mr. Turner Eats Pavement on Boy Meets World
During the season five finale, Cory's motorcycle-riding "cool" teacher Mr. Turner discovers that sometimes, despite the charm of that old Irish saying, you really don't want the road to rise up to meet you. Indeed, he crashes his bike off-screen and ends up in critical condition.
As far as season finales go, it's a doozy. The episode concludes with Mr. Turner still laid up, a young Ben Savage blissfully unaware of his future unemployment, and Topanga looking equal parts totally hot and totally like Janice from The Muppets.
Our libidos have no idea what to make of this.
Like getting gored in the torso with a flaming scimitar, this finale is heartwarming and heartrending. Surely, Mr. Turner will make a full recovery!
Why It's Maddening:
Aaaaaaand that's the last we hear of Mr. Turner. Ever.
In most cases we'd accept this turn of events, as characters on sitcoms vanish all the freaking time. Hell, Topanga's older sister Nebula had already disappeared from the Boy Meets World cast.
The crazy thing here is that Mr. Turner was one of Cory's favorite teachers and an important, recurring character on the show. By the time the season six premiered, Mr. Turner's name was completely verboten. It's like everyone discovered he was a kiddy-fiddler during the off season.
"Your summer reading is Nabokov's Lolita, literature's most famous endorsement of pederasty."
Tony Soprano's Unkillable Russian
In the 2001 episode "The Pine Barrens," Tony Soprano's nephew Christopher and capo Paulie shake down Valery, a mouthy Russian mobster.
Valery proceeds to piss off Tony's muscle to such an extent that Paulie smashes the Russian's prized universal remote control. And his wind pipe.
A broken universal remote is a tragedy, but a broken Russian is all in a day's work for Christopher and Paulie, so they drive to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to dump the body. Unfortunately, Valery isn't dead and promptly beats Paulie's ass with a shovel. As usual, Paulie totally overreacts and puts a bullet in the Russian's head.
To everyone's surprise, Valery shrugs off the headshot and capers off into the woods. At this point, the mooks get a concerned call from Tony:
According to Tony, Valery is a nigh unkillable ex-Russian military man. And what's this? Christopher's car has been stolen! Looks like the NJ Turnpike will run red with borscht and blood tonight!
Why It's Maddening:
This episode hints at an epic Goodfellas versus Eastern Promises style mob war. Valery is bulletproof, Tony's browning his trousers out of fear, and chances are Viggo Mortensen is en route for some naked wrastling with Edie Falco. There's enough material here for a decade worth of story arcs.
That is, if Valery ever reappeared on the show. Seriously, the one guy who could bring the full brunt of the Red Mafia down on the Soprano family never appears again.
Discounting some half-assed foreshadowing from Tony by episode's end ("Paulie, he's your problem, not mine."), the entire cast totally forgets that there's an invincible Ruskie on the loose, plotting his revenge. What's the deal? Is chronic amnesia an obscure Italian stereotype we've never heard of?
"I cut off your leg and I don't-ah know why!"
Anyway, fan reaction to Valery's disappearance has irritated the show's writers so much that they'll just tell you to piss off should you dare bring him up.
Which is too bad. Imagine if instead of the "cut to black" series finale, we got a gunshot to Tony's head, and a pan up to the missing Russian mobster! Holy shit! We'd have bought multiple copies of the DVD just so David Chase could have the extra cash.
24 Silently Impeaches the President
In season four, President John Keeler suffers an audacious aerial assault on Air Force One. He survives, but is hanging onto his life by a thread! To make matters worse, Charles Logan, Keeler's Machiavellian vice president, now controls the Oval Office! Will Keeler pull through?
Why It's Maddening:
Eh, he's just the leader of the free world. Who gives a rat's ass?
See, 24 pulls this stunt so often that fans have a slang term for it: "Behroozing," after Behrooz Araz, a key player from the fourth season who inexplicably vanished from the face of the franchise. This example is particularly insane as the character the writers "Behrooz" is the goddamn President of the United States.
Behrooz, prior to his Behroozing
We realize that a lot of exciting stuff happens in the world of 24. Heck, it's so thrilling that no one has the time to drop a deuce. But the fact that Logan was permanently installed as president kind of indicates that, you know, the actual President fucking died.
Not that the show mentions it, ever again, in any capacity. In the universe of 24 the passing of the leader of the free world was met with no media coverage, no national day of mourning, no US Weekly retrospective. Hell, the writers didn't even bother to placate us with a throwaway line here and there ("We need the extra security for the President's funeral!")
Then again, in the world of 24 they've been through nine presidents in seven seasons, so maybe we can't blame them for reporting a dead president somewhere under the hockey scores.
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