There are a lot of stories that feature mysterious characters or events. And it's hard to stop watching until there are answers. But sometimes those answers never come. Or they do, and they're stupid. Or the reveals open up plot holes instead of giving us answers. Here are some of the top offenders.
Needless to say, spoilers ahead.
1. Doctor Who "Doomsday"
If you start an episode with a character saying, "This is the story of how I died," that person has to then die. Otherwise the conclusion set up with that sentence isn't rewarding, but frustrating. It's not even that "Doomsday" wasn't a good send-off for Rose Tyler. In many ways, it was. But "getting trapped in a parallel universe" isn't "death." It just felt cheap.
2. Roswell (Season 1)
The first season of Roswell featured Julie Benz as Kathleen Topolski, a new teacher. Both the audience and Liz Parker are meant to suspect Topolski is a government agent looking for aliens. Instead, she's revealed to be the new guidance counselor. It does subvert expectation, but it also raises the question of why a guidance counselor is pretending to be a teacher in the first place. It's not exactly going to get trust from students.
3. The Cube series
The entire premise of The Cube is that a group of people find themselves stuck in a cube-shaped structure with cube-shaped rooms, many of which try to kill them. While trying to get out, they also attempt to figure out how and why they got there. In the first one, there's no real answer. In the second, there's a suggested creator. In the prequel, Cube Zero, it's revealed that the cube was created by a government funded company. And with that answer never comes an explanation for why the government would have a contract for a rube-goldberg style death box.
4. Alias and The X-Files (tie)
TV Tropes has an entry called "Gambit Pileup," and that's the exact problem both of these shows ended up with. Both are good shows that, years in, became the victims of their own complicated mythology. They tried to straddle the line between providing some answers while still keeping their respective conspiracies going. As a result, both shows also required detailed flow charts to keep track of everyone's goals, plans, and motivations.
5. Blake's 7
The final episode of Blake's 7 put every single hero in inescapable mortal danger. The plan was to reveal who survived and how at the start of the next season, but the show was cancelled. That's a pretty big un-reveal.
The reveal that Boyd Langton, who had previously been established as a kind ex-cop with moral reservations about the work of the dollhouse, was the evil head of the Rossum corporation threw a lot of things out of whack. His plan seemed to hinge on Echo being repeatedly imprinted, even though that meant that both he and Echo nearly died. Repeatedly. Some plot holes can't just be waved away with "he's insane."
7. Highlander II
Immortals are aliens exiled to Earth. How's that for an answer that contradicts everything previously understood? No wonder the premise of Highlander III was that Highlander II never happened.
8. Planet of the Apes (2001)
The Planet of the Apes remake faced a pretty big challenge. The original had an iconic ending, a famous reveal. So the temptation to subvert expectations is understandable. Instead of recreating the famous Statue of Liberty ruin, this version went with an ape-ified Lincoln memorial. Which means that, instead of taking place in the future, it takes place in a parallel world? Maybe? It's more confusing than shocking.
9. Life on Mars (American version)
This show suffered a similar problem as the Planet of the Apes remake. The British original vacillated between Sam Tyler dreaming he was in the past (while in a coma in the present day) and actually having traveled through time. Until the finale, that is, which seemed to settle on the former as the explanation. Like the 2001 Planet of the Apes, the American show tried to subvert the expectations created by the original. Instead of being in a coma or traveling through time, they put all the characters in a virtual reality machine. On a spaceship. In 2035.
10. Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III
This is almost too obvious for this list, but if anything is the poster child for "ruined by explanation," it's the prequel trilogy. More information about characters ended up making things more confusing. Anakin built C-3PO? Midichlorians? Stormtroopers are clones? Jedi aren't allowed to love? Qui-Gon Jinn taught Obi-Wan and Yoda how to become ghosts? There seemed to be a lot of answers to questions no one actually needed answers to. To paraphrase Patton Oswalt: I don't care where the stuff I love came from, I just want to love the stuff I love.
Bonus round: Lost
We could write an entire series of articles about the wrongness of the big reveals in this show. Start with the "actually we were all in purgatory" ending, and work your way back, and count how many times a reveal ended with a giant facepalm. Yes, there were some good times with reveals on this show. But there were many, many bad times too.