While the world of anime production runs on very different rules than American TV shows, there’s still one end result that every fan fears: an unfinished series. It’s rare for anime to be “canceled” in the way that American programs are – that is, pulled off the schedule and ended mid-run, in part because the success of an anime is determined by Blu-ray sales more than TV ratings. Despite that, though, it’s exceptionally common for an anime series to begin adapting a light novel or manga series, only to abruptly stop. Some of these series are of extremely high quality, but for whatever reason, only a small part of the overall story is adapted.

What follows is a list of 10 highly-regarded anime series that ended with a lot of material left to adapt, ranging across a variety of genres. Because it’s almost impossible to rank things that are so incredibly different from each other, the items on this list aren’t ordered in any particular way.



10 Deadman Wonderland

Deadman Wonderland character header art

Deadman Wonderland is a 2011 series about an ultraviolent prison system where prisoners with blood powers, known as Branches of Sin, are forced to compete in gladiatorial games for the entertainment of the masses. Protagonist Ganta Igarashi is an ordinary high school student who sees his class slaughtered by a mysterious figure and has a strange gem implanted into him. Investigators quickly pin the crime on the innocent boy, sending him to the deadly prison/theme park known as Deadman Wonderland. Ganta has to fight in these gladiatorial games to survive, as well as navigate the prison culture, all while trying to find a way to clear his name. While the premise had potential, the series ended after 12 episodes (plus one later OVA), covering about 20 chapters, with still over half the story of the manga left to tell.

9 Ranma 1/2


Rumiko Takahashi’s gender-bending tale is a classic of late 80s/early 90s anime, and was a bit of a breakthrough for comedic anime series. The story follows Ranma, a boy who during a trip to China fell into a cursed spring where a girl once drowned, causing him to transform into a girl any time he’s splashed with cold water. Hijinks ensue, of course, but the story of the anime abruptly ends right as Ranma’s mother enters the story. What happened was that Ranma 1/2‘s anime caught up to the manga, necessitating the creation of filler, but the production studio went bankrupt shortly after, leaving the story unfinished forever. The manga continued for another three years after the anime ended.

8 Fruits Basket

Characters from the second season of Fruits Basket.

Fruits Basket is a romantic comedy/slice-of-life story with supernatural elements. It follows Tohru Honda, a girl rendered homeless by cruel relatives after her mother’s tragic death, and how she comes to know the Sohma family, who are cursed to transform into different creatures from the Chinese Zodiac when stressed. Fruits Basket was first adapted into an anime in 2001, which lasted 26 episodes before stopping abruptly. Reportedly, the director of the anime and the creator of the manga had major creative differences, leading to mangaka Natsuki Takaya disliking this first adaptation. While the 2001 anime never continued, fans finally did get a second, complete adaptation of Fruits Basket in 2019.

7 Spice and Wolf

Characters from Spice and Wolf sitting on a horse drawn carriage

Spice and Wolf is a fantasy series about merchant Kraft Lawrence, who travels the world selling his wares until ending up in the town of Pasloe, where an ancient goddess known as Holo was once worshiped. Holo was actually sealed away and unintentionally freed by Lawrence; she then asks to travel with him and see how the world has changed while she was sealed. The anime lasted for two 12-episode seasons, released in 2008 and 2009, but then abruptly stopped. The Spice and Wolf light novel series ran for a whopping twenty-four books, though, meaning there’s a huge amount of content that never got adapted, which is sadly common with series based on light novels.

6 Kaze no Stigma


Also based on a series of light novels, Kaze no Stigma follows Kazuma, a boy who was exiled from his clan for being defeated in a bout over possession of a legendary sword that would’ve made him the clan’s successor. Throughout his exile, Kazuma mastered Wind Magic, and eventually returned home, although not for some big confrontation, but just a demon-slaying gig. Around the same time, though, Kazuma’s family members start to be murdered, and the culprit appears to use Wind Magic. It was adapted for a 24-episode series in 2007, which does cover a fair amount of the 6 main-story light novels. Unfortunately, the author of Kaze No Stigma‘s light novels, Takahiro Yamato, passed away in 2009, meaning this is one story that never had a chance at ending well.

5 No Game No Life

Characters pose in No Game No Life

Yet another series that started as light novels, No Game No Life follows Sora and Shiro, two siblings, as they win a game of chess against the god of games, who brings them to a new world where all matters are decided by high stakes games. The siblings conspire to take over the world using their gaming skills and become the new gods of games. No Game No Life received a 12-episode anime in 2014, at the peak of the series’ popularity, but was dropped entirely after that. The series would get a prequel film, No Game No Life: Zero, in 2017, but the anime’s story never got a proper conclusion. The anime only covers the first three volumes, while the film covers the sixth volume, leaving volumes 4 and 5 out.

4 Baccano!

Baccano! anime key art featuring the main cast of characters.

The pattern continues with Baccano, another series that started as light novels. Baccano‘s story is complex, told in a non-linear fashion with scenes spread across three time periods in the anime. The 2007 anime lasted for 13 episodes, and is reasonably conclusive, with 3 more bonus episodes that add more detail. However, once again this is only the tip of the Baccano iceberg; at this point, there are 22 volumes of light novels, often identified by the year in which they’re set, spanning from 1705 to 2002. The original anime was very well regarded, especially for its music, so it’s a shame that the series wasn’t able to continue adapting this absolutely wild world.

3 Rave Master

Poster of Rave Master

An earlier manga series by Fairy Tail‘s Hiro Mashima, Rave Master was an incredible fantasy series with some big ideas. The English version of the anime also infamously featured an opening theme by Ska band Reel Big Fish. The anime ran for 51 episodes, which seems quite respectable, but those 51 episodes only covered about one-third of the manga, which ran for three more years after the anime ended. Mashima has a special love for Rave Master, and has often hoped to get the series a full adaptation. In the meantime, though, fans of Rave Master may want to check out the crossover episode with Fairy Tail, as it’s the last major content featuring these characters.

2 The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The characters in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Endless Eight arc

The anime of Haruhi Suzumiya was massively popular when it first came out in 2006, and it maintained its popularity long enough to see two seasons of 14 episodes and a movie in 2010, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. The exact circumstances of the anime’s ending aren’t known, but its second season included the highly controversial “Endless Eight” arc, which saw the same exact episode re-recorded and reanimated 8 times, which fans felt was a colossal waste of budget and effort. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya only covers up to the 4th light novel, though, with 8 more books that remain completely unadapted. For how popular the series once was, it’s shocking to see how much remains in book form only, and many fans have hoped for a revival for years.

1 Bubblegum Crisis


By far the oldest example on this list, Bubblegum Crisis is an OVA (Original Video Animation, similar to direct-to-video) series that was released from 1987 to 1991. The series only lasted 8 episodes, but it’s considered highly influential, particularly in the realm of cyberpunk anime. Bubblegum Crisis is also unique in that it’s an anime original, not adapted from manga or light novels, so there’s no telling where the story would’ve gone. It is known that more episodes were planned, but a legal dispute between the two studios who jointly owned the rights meant that the series never saw a proper ending. Bubblegum Crisis did eventually see a reboot, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, which ran from 1998 to 1999, and many consider this version superior. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what ending the original series might’ve had planned.

Unlike most American TV shows, anime’s penchant for adapting from other media means that dedicated fans can still find out what happened in (most) canceled anime series, but that doesn’t do much to soften the blow of knowing it’ll never be finished on screen. Perhaps some day, these anime series might be rebooted, like Trigun, and given the chance to be adapted with a proper ending at last.

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