Franchise Killer

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Franchisekiller 2015.png
"I think we might have killed the franchise."
George Clooney on Batman and Robin (and until 2005, he was right)

Sometimes a sequel sucks. Sometimes it sucks, but leaves the possibility open that the followup will be better and that this is just a blip in the quality of the franchise. Then sometimes it sucks so much that it kills the franchise stone dead, destroying the producers'/publishers' hopes for further sequels.

Occasionally a few Franchise Killers over too short a period (or one really bad one) can put a whole genre out of favour for a while. Even the executives could tell when it's time to stop following the leader.

Note that sometimes the franchise turns out to be Not Quite Dead, and can be salvaged with a Continuity Reboot. If the franchise experiences what should have been a Franchise Killer but carries on regardless, it's a Franchise Zombie. Occasionally it's a Stillborn Franchise, an all-new product for which plans for sequels were made and then scrapped when it was discovered that the product was crap, or so hyped up that the creators have unrealistic expectations of its success. Or it just didn't profit enough, even though it was a Cult Classic. If the Franchise that was killed also happened right as the creators were setting up for a new installment to the series, it will overlap with Cut Short.

Examples of Franchise Killer include:

Anime & Manga

  • El Hazard: The Alternative World performed poorly to the point that it was Cut Short with the show's way too many plots being wrapped up (very poorly) in only a single episode. It also killed the El Hazard franchise, with no further work of any kind being done in the decade since. And we never saw the Stable Time Loop established in the original El Hazard: The Magnificent World through to its completion.
    • Tenchi Muyo!, another AIC franchise of the same era, barely escaped this fate one year earlier with Tenchi in Tokyo. Despite being in most regards worse than El Hazard: The Alternative World, Tenchi in Tokyo managed to last for a full 26 episodes, and only set back the franchise by 5 years instead of killing it altogether.
  • Post-Chars Counterattack, Mobile Suit Gundam's Universal Century continuity entered an agonizing death-spiral. This started off with Mobile Suit Gundam F91 being developed as a TV series, but crammed into a movie loaded with so many dangling plot threads that it took a manga-only sequel to resolve them all. The next series, Victory Gundam, was Yoshiyuki Tomino's gigantic middle-finger to the franchise before departing. However, the true death blow was when Gaia Gear and G-Saviour were produced; Sunrise does not list them with other UC productions. While the continuity continued to live on in OVAs covering events from the One Year War to the Gryps conflict, most subsequent TV production has been in an Alternate Continuity, with the UC timeline being revisited in OVAs like Gundam Unicorn, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, and Gundam Reconguista in G, the latter taking place in the distant future of UC.
    • This probably has something to do with the fact that Tomino was planning on ending it with Counterattack (in fact, he'd never even wanted to do any sequels in the first place, as his original plan had been to kill off pretty much any future threat from Zeon), but his sponsors just kept trying to squeeze blood from the stone. It's very telling that when they finally wised up and let Tomino bow out of the franchise and hired directors who were actually enthusiastic about the material they produced some of the most highly regarded work not only in the Gundam franchise, but in all of '90s anime.
    • Gundam X almost killed the franchise, where due to consumer fatigue, the series entered an ice age for 3 years (if you don't count Endless Waltz). Gundam X is one of only two Gundam TV series to be cut short of a full two-season run. The first? The original Mobile Suit Gundam; it's easy to forget given what a massive franchise it's become that the original installment had poor ratings.
    • In America, it was Gundam SEED that killed the franchise. In this case, one can blame the heavy edits Toonami made. Desperate to air the show in a daytime slot, Cartoon Network's cuts turned the show into a complete mess, most notably by forcing the series to Never Say "Die", drastically changing battle scenes, and featuring the use of the notorious Disco Guns. In spite of the show's serious nature, the bizarre and drastic edits caused the fanbase to not take the show seriously and it showed in the ratings. By episode 26, the series could only be seen at Friday at midnight. After it's shaky run, Gundam would go back to being only seen on DVD until Syfy revived the franchise by airing Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
      • Its sequel Gundam SEED Destiny managed to kill Sunrise's official English-language Gundam message board (the centerpiece of the English language website), despite not even airing outside of Japan until years later (and even then it only aired in Canada). Numerous American fans were watching fansubs of the SEED Destiny episodes within days of their air dates (or even sooner in the case of American fans who speak Japanese, which in the Gundam fandom turns out to be a surprisingly large number) and thus it was the biggest topic of discussion the message board (without, of course, the fansub aspect being mentioned; it was the official message board after all). The extremely divided fan opinion about SEED Destiny is well known, but the disagreements were kept mostly civil. And then the final episode aired, and the opinions voice on the message board were almost universally (and often quite vehemently) negative, even among those who'd generally approved of the way the story had gone in the second half. Shortly afterward (and without advance notice), Sunrise pulled the plug on the message board entirely, leaving Gundam little more than an empty shell that to this day no longer gets updated (when Gundam 00 aired on Syfy, it was given its own separate English-language website). In fact, given that the SEED Destiny finale aired in Japan less than six months after the SEED finale aired in North America (many Gundam fans, especially those newly-introduced to the franchise, went straight from watching SEED in English to watching fansubs of SEED Destiny), this incident may have even played a role in Gundam's long disappearance from American TV broadcasts, with Sunrise drawing the (ridiculously false) conclusion that negative reaction to the SEED Destiny finale meant that Americans just didn't like Gundam.
    • A movie meant to tie up the Cosmic Era timeline has been stuck in Development Hell for years (due to the declining health of one of the writers), and its fate is uncertain.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE nearly killed off Gundam altogether, thanks to the lackluster reception, fierce backlash from fans and a host of other factors. It wasn't until the release of Gundam Build Fighters that the franchise was able to recover.
  • The Animated Adaptation of CLAMP's Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle came to a screeching halt after a lackluster second season that had almost nothing but Filler episodes (when there was so much more material left to adapt). They tried to Retcon it in the Tokyo Revelations OVA (the adaptation of the Acid Tokyo arc in the manga), but the damage had already been done.
  • Zoids: Fuzors is often accused of being one of these by the English-speaking Zoids fanbase, but it was in fact the fan favourite Zoids: Chaotic Century that killed the franchise, having gotten such low ratings during its run on Cartoon Network that it was cancelled, with the final four episodes only being shown after complaints from the fanbase. Fuzors was more of a last-ditch effort to salvage what was already a doomed franchise.
    • Similarly, in Japan, Zoids Genesis was a franchise killer; the anime got a so-so reception, but The Merch failed to sell, effectively dooming the chances of another Zoids anime being made any time soon, and causing Tomy to change its marketing strategy by pandering exclusively to Otaku rather than general audiences as they did before.
  • In a similar vein to El Hazard: The Alternative World, Great Dangaioh's performance was bad enough to have the show get cancelled and leave things hanging in episode 12 (out of a planned 26). This effectively ensured that the Dangaioh franchise would never get a proper ending (let alone resolve the OVA's events).
  • Sailor Moon had two franchise killers happen. The first was the anime, which was dealing with declining ratings and it ended after exactly 200 episodes. Then six years later, a live action version of the show. After a year later, it ended and effectively killed off what was left of the Sailor Moon franchise.

Films -- Animation

  • Originally, there was actually going to be a third film in The Rescuers series movies by Disney. However, due to Down Under's financial failure (it's the only animated Disney movie released during the 1990s to ever suffer this fate, combined with the death of actress Eva Gabor (who voiced Miss Bianca), the idea for a third Rescuers movie was scrapped.
    • And actually it did more than that, as Disney vowed never to release theatrical sequels again and from then on they were direct-to-video, which had a negative effect on their quality for the most part. They've started to get back to theatrical sequels in recent years, though only sporadically, as seen with with a few Winnie the Pooh movies as well as Return To Neverland and The Jungle Book 2.
  • The critical and financial failure of the infamous Tom and Jerry movie (the one where the famously silent cat-and-mouse duo talk and sing) prevented the making of another theatrical Tom and Jerry film.
  • There was actually once a restaurant at Walt Disney World that opened in 1986 replacing the "Lancer's Inn" that was around since the park's opening in 1971 called "Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies" that was supposed to promote The Black Cauldron. However, the movie failed and as a result the restaurant was immediately closed down (it was first replaced by a Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant called "Lumiere's Kitchen", and now replaced with a Robin Hood-themed restaurant called "The Friar's Nook"). No further movies based on The Chronicles of Prydain have been made since.
    • There was once a ride at Tokyo Disneyland called "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" that focused on all of the Disney villains up to the Horned King. Since Disney found out that the Horned King was actually one of the villains featured in that ride, it too was closed down as well. Disney eventually changed its mind about the Horned King, who is on the way to being an official Disney Villain, but not yet the Prydain series itself (circa September 2011).
  • Speaking of The Black Cauldron, that movie itself almost became the franchise killer of the entire Disney Animated Canon. It cost the studio so much money they could only barely manage to get back up. Understandably, it took Cauldron till 1998 to get released on home video.
  • The failure of the DuckTales (1987) movie, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, prevented the making of movies based on Darkwing Duck and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • The critical failure of Rugrats Go Wild (a crossover film between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys) actually prevented the making of a fourth Rugrats film and a third Wild Thornberries film.
  • When Looney Tunes Back in Action failed in the box office, a new batch of Looney Tunes shorts being made for theaters were cancelled in mid-production.
  • Similar to The Rescuers above, originally, there was actually going to be a third film based on The Jungle Book where Baloo and Shere Khan are both captured and sold off of a circus, and as a result Mowgli, Shanti, and Bagheera actually all had to save them both. And over the course of the film, Shere Khan (who went into Knight of Cerebus mode in the second, and according to this film's plot, is revealed to have survived falling into a volcano at the end of that film) would have actually regretted his hatred against humanity because of his capture and may have eventually reformed over the course of the film. However, due to the failure of The Jungle Book 2, this film was ultimately scrapped, and Khan's fate at the end of the sequel remained ambiguous.
  • The critical (but not financial, as it was the second-biggest moneymaker in the series) failure of Shrek the Third resulted in DreamWorks abandoning their planned fifth film Shrek Pleads the Fifth, and instead made the fourth installment, Shrek Forever After, the final entry of the film franchise.

Films -- Live-Action

"A Generation's Final Journey Begins".

Several attempts were made later to revive the series, none of which went anywhere. 1994 brought Wes Craven's New Nightmare, a stand-alone Spin-Off that New Line produced because they liked the script, and moreso because it could be produced cheaply. It was very well-received by critics and fans, and is now regarded as one of the best films in the series from a pure horror standpoint, but it did even worse than at the box office. In 2003 Freddy vs. Jason, the long-awaited Crossover with Friday the 13 th, won the approval of fans of both series and was the highest grossing film in either franchise, but plans for a sequel have largely been restricted to the realm of comic books. The 2010 remake of the original film, despite being a box-office hit, was utterly ravaged by series fans and viewers, and almost killed co-star Rooney Mara's career (before David Fincher swooped in and saved it).

  • The film adaptation of Fat Slags (a strip in British comic Viz) was so bad that their creator allegedly claimed he was going to kill off the strip as a result, though this later turned out to be misquoted/misreported.
  • While the first two films in The Godfather franchises are regarded as classics, The Godfather: Part III is considered much less so. That, and director Francis Ford Coppola's declining health, effectively killed discussions about a fourth film. (Mario Puzo dying prevented the rumours from coming back.)
  • Mortal Kombat, while not a blockbuster hit, is a decent action flick with solid characters. The second movie is a slopfest of one-shot character cameos, terrible dialogue, and (for the series) an inexplicable plot. After several rumors of a possible sequel/reboot by New Line were killed by Warner Bros buying the Mortal Kombat franchise and all rights therein,[1] WB opted for the cheaper idea of a Web Original series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, instead of a movie.
  • Sadly, the four-hour epic movie Gettysburg, based on a novel by Michael Shaara, had its franchise killed by the abominably executed sequel/prequel Gods and Generals, based on the novel written by Jeff Shaara (son of Michael) which had promised a third entry, The Last Full Measure, also based on the Jeff Shaara book. The shocking thing about Gods and Generals is that, having seen a variety of pre-release scenes, unreleased scenes, and different (superior) cuts of shown scenes in the film that there was quite a lot of good footage that simply was not used; in effect, the whole franchise was killed by bad editing.
  • Jurassic Park 3. A fourth film languished in Development Hell, but when Michael Crichton died, producer Kathleen Kennedy initially decided against making more, and then, in a subversion, Steven Spielberg revealed at 2011's Comic-Con that a fourth film should be released within the next two to three years.
  • Spider-Man 4 managed to do this without even being released, being canceled in favor of a Continuity Reboot right before filming started, after a release date had been announced. It's hard to say if it was justified, but Felicia Hardy (a.k.a. Black Cat) becoming a female Vulture isn't something many will mourn the loss of. The true culprit for the death/rebooting of the franchise was Executive Meddling—director Sam Raimi walked only because he felt he couldn't deliver the level of quality he wanted in the deadline he was given. Meanwhile, the rebooting was done because Sony didn't want the Spider-Man film rights to fall into Marvel Studios' hands instead of, you know, acknowledging the murder of the golden egg-laying goose.
  • Terminator Salvation not only apparently killed off the movie franchise (it was intended to be part one of a trilogy), but also the company that made it. The rights went on sale, but no one was that interested and they ended up in the possession of...a hedge fund that had invested in the company. In 2011, it was reported that Universal Pictures and Annapurna Films are working on two more films in the franchise, and the fifth is expected to herald the return of... SARAH CONNOR!
  • Halloween Resurrection (and Producer Existence Failure) killed the original series. Then Platinum Dunes buying the franchise from Dimension Films killed the Rob Zombie remake series, though whether or not that's a good thing due to the involvement of Platinum Dunes is up for debate.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III put the movie series on hold for 14 years. The 2007 animated film made a decent-but-not-spectacular showing at the box office, but poor reviews have led to the series being rebooted in live-action once again. Unfortunately, said reboot is being produced by Michael Bay and reportedly involves making the characters aliens from space...
  • Conan the Destroyer was critically panned and didn't perform well at the box office, dropping many things of what made the original what it was plus its Lighter and Softer tone turning away fans of the first movie while failing to attract younger audiences. Its flop put a possible third Conan movie into Development Hell, and the Red Sonja movie, where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an obvious Captain Ersatz of Conan, discredited the whole idea of adapting Howard's works for more than 20 years (the only attempt, Kull the Conqueror, was a flop).
    • A reboot film came out in 2011, and if the incredibly poor box office (barely half of its cost) and a lawsuit filed by SLM—a company in bankruptcy that's supposed to have been dormant for a decade, mind you—over the rights to the franchise are any indication, it may have killed the franchise all over again.
  • The failure of Grease 2 prevented further Sequelitis. There were studio plans of having at least three more sequels and a TV series, but they were instantly scrapped after Grease 2 bombed.
  • Planet of the Apes initially died with the terrible Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Tim Burton's movie in 2001 made some money, but the proposed sequel was scrapped. In all fairness, each Apes sequel was written to be the last in the series, and further movies were only created because 20th Century Fox demanded them. Battle merely put a end to needlessly prolonging the series, which had already wrapped up its loose ends in the previous films anyway.
  • The negative critical reception and underwhelming (but still relatively successful) box office intake for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (not to mention the deaths of Bosley #2 Bernie Mac and Charlie himself, John Forsythe) means that the prospects for a third movie in the foreseeable future are unlikely. And with the new TV series burned at the stake by critics and cancelled after four episodes were aired,[2] it's not so much "Good morning, Angels" as "Goodbye, Angels."
  • Licence to Kill, the 16th official James Bond movie (and the second and last one to star Timothy Dalton) seemed to do this for a while. With inflation in account, it's the lowest grossing film in the franchise. The franchise was already entering uncertain territory as production had to be moved from England to Mexico in order to save money. Not only that, but the marketing for the movie was subpar at best (it's to date, the last Bond movie to be released during summer). Add that to LTK itself, being one of the most polarizing Bond movies of recent memory due to its decidedly Darker and Edgier, Miami Vice-influenced plot (especially considering the Lighter and Softer Roger Moore era was still fresh in the general public's mind). LTK felt like an end of an era (dating back to the Sean Connery era) as it was the last Bond movie to have any involvement from director John Glen, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, cinematographer Alec Mills, and producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli (not to mention the last Bond movie to take place during the Cold War). There wouldn't be a Bond movie released for six years (the longest such delay in franchise history) due to legal wrangling over control of the series. In the meantime, Dalton's contract expired, Pierce Brosnan was hired, and the 17th movie started being Saved From Development Hell.
    • While Die Another Day by no means performed badly (it was the best performing of the series until Casino Royale) it was deemed ridiculous by many, and received at best mixed reviews. Soon after, Brosnan was dismissed and the franchise rebooted with a back-to-basics movie starring Daniel Craig as Bond.
  • The film of Eragon inexplicably altered so many plotlines and cut so much (even given it is based on a Doorstopper), including the entire Dwarf race that a sequel based on the plot of the second book would have been impossible, even if it wasn't an awful film.
  • The Cat in the Hat killed off the live-action Dr. Seuss movie franchise, not so much because of its box-office receipts (which were not as bad as the reviews) but because Theodore Geisel's widow was disgusted enough by it to deny any further live-action adaptations.
  • The Legend Of The Lone Ranger ended any chance of further Lone Ranger adaptations for the next two and a half decades with ITC's behavior, especially toward the classic Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore (such behavior would become ITC's undoing, as it only survived while Sir Lew Grade was still alive).
  • Scream and Scream 2 each made just over $100 million at the domestic box office, while Scream 3 clocked in at just under $90 million. Scream 4 didn't even reach the $40 million mark (although it's far from universally loathed, and is the only film in the series to have done better outside North America). Having a gap between the third and fourth films longer than the period in which all three previous films were released may not have helped.
  • The first two Crocodile Dundee films were tremendous hits, each grossing over $100 million at the North American box office alone. However, series star Paul Hogan and company took 13 long years before making a third Croc picture, which ultimately underperformed at the box office (opening at #4 and grossing roughly $25 million domestically). Besides the long gap in-between the previous film, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles seemed less serious than the previous two films (coming off as more of a broad family comedy) with a plot that felt left over from Beverly Hills Cop.

Live-Action TV

  • Fantasy Leader, a Blogspot user, created a detailed essay on what was almost the Franchise Killer for Super Sentai here. To recap: the coincidental collision of a gradual Broken Base that built up starting with Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman five years ago (within the fandom) and a pair of Genre Killing real-life incidents (outside of the fandom[3]) led to show ratings falling to a new low in Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and Toei was prepared to pull the plug... until they noticed that Ohranger toy sales somehow reached a monstrous new high for Sentai overall.
  • Stargate Universe was a Soap Opera IN SPACE! that couldn't be less like Stargate. Unlike many of these examples, it had a nice little fanbase, but not enough to keep it afloat, and with its failure came the official announcement of the indefinite hiatus of the awaited Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis projects - the kind of 'hiatus' that means you start dismantling sets.
    • This probably could have been foreseen by the fact that for some reason, a lot of the promotion leading up to the project involved insulting the previous entries in the franchise and their fans. They basically told the established fanbase "We don't even want you to watch!"... and they didn't.
  • Heroes Volumes 3 and 4 (both making up season 3) qualify as such. The second season was a major letdown, but people forgave it because there was the big writer's strike and The Powers That Be did the best they could. When season three came along, they expected a return to form, but got a Random Events Plot with characters acting wildly Out of Character as the writers seemed to be changing their minds on key plot points three times per episode. Best known is Sylar's being more evil, then less evil, then more, then less constantly, but really, it was like that with everything. By the end of that season, most of the fans had given up on it. Season four (Volume 5) got to happen, and was better than season three but it wasn't without its problems, and really, by then, nobody cared anymore. Because of this, not only is the TV series cancelled, but the graphic novels were also scrapped as well, and they can't even get a greenlight in regards to a miniseries movie about Heroes for a last hurrah.
  • Enterprise killed Star Trek on TV for the foreseeable future, with the ratings and fan reception being so bad that it didn't even last the full seven year run that had become standard for a Trek series. It's highly likely that any future TV projects will be based on the new continuity established by the "preboot" films. Despite its franchise killer status, the people in charge of the franchise seem to have issued some sort of mandate to keep shoving stuff from Enterprise down the fanbase's throats in the EU, as if to say "WHY DIDN'T YOU LOVE IT?!"


  • After the violence at Woodstock '99, the owners of the Woodstock name have gone on record to say it will never be used again.

Video Games

Midway Games

  • Gauntlet (1985 video game) was a fairly decent hack-and-slash arcade-style adventure series, until Seven Sorrows came along. It was an Obvious Beta, with a lot of old standby techniques gone (like not being able to shoot potions), and none of the "new features" touted for the game anywhere. Any plans for the franchise after that were effectively shelved.
  • Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run was intended to be a tie-in to a cancelled movie. Needless to say, the game flopped belly up, sinking the franchise altogether.
  • LA Rush was billed as a Spiritual Successor to San Francisco Rush, but ended up as just another average street racer.
  • Blacksite: Area 51 is an interesting chicken-or-the-egg case. While the game was so atrociously bad that it ensured no future Area 51 games would be made, the game's Obvious Beta glitches and other over signs of poor quality were an indication that Midway Games was already on the brink of collapse. Sure enough, the entire company folded soon after the game's release. To paraphrase Word of God: "This project was so fucked up. I just wasn't excited about this Area 51 game."


  • Dino Crisis 3 stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief beyond all hope of recovery when it put dinosaurs on a spaceship in the future. That's not even getting into the gameplay, which stunk due to the inclusion of anti-gravity without the controls to make it bearable, or the plot, which discarded the running story of the previous games despite the fact that part 2 ended on a cliffhanger!
  • Although it wasn't exactly bad, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter was such an incredible deviation from the rest of the Breath of Fire games (a series that's usually very big on continuity, to boot) that the series came to a screeching halt. Several years and a new console generation later, the series has shown no signs of reawakening. Even when another company offered to buy the license to make a new Breath of Fire game, Capcom refused.
  • Due to poor sales and, more specifically, Executive Meddling, the Darkstalkers series has no foreseeable future.
  • Ditto for Mega Man, once a staple in Capcom's line-up and one of the faces of the company. With series creator Keiji Infaune's departure from the company, any further games starring the Blue Bomber are looking very unlikely.
    • Mega Man 8, due to various factors (including widely reviled voice acting and some poorly devised weapons and items), resulted in the core part of the franchise being left fallow for twelve years. And while the eighth game is still in continuity (deliberate references to it were made in both Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10), the gameplay and design aesthetic have reverted back to that of the second installment, widely considered the Magnum Opus of the Classic series.
    • The Mega Man Legends series died at its second official game, with the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS revival's cancellation sparking a very angry reaction from passionate Legends fans looking forward to the project.
  • Final Fight: Streetwise proved to be a critical dud and put an end to any further games in the Final Fight continuity. Most of its characters now live on as part of Street Fighter canon.


  • The Nicktoons Unite! series died after Nicktoons: Globs of Doom's poor reception. THQ has since given up on Nicktoons licensed games, so the game that followed Globs of Doom was 2K Games' Nicktoons MLB, a crossover between Nicktoons characters and real MLB players.
  • THQ released two Destroy All Humans! games in 2008 - Big Willy Unleashed for the Wii, and then Path of the Furon for Play Station 3/Xbox 360 - after original developer Pandemic Studios was snapped up by Electronic Arts. Neither game managed to successfully capture the spirit of the first two games, and sold terribly as a result.
  • With the underwhelming reception of Red Faction: Armageddon and the multiplayer-focused Battlegrounds, THQ has announced that it won't be doing any more RF games for a while. Of course, if they listened to the fans who made the second to last game Red Faction Guerrilla a hit, they'd have continued RFG's open world destruction gameplay style instead of making a generic underground corridor shooter.
  • The publisher also canned its MX vs. ATV franchise after the various changes in gameplay to MX vs. ATV: Alive left fans cold.

Square Enix / Eidos Interactive

  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness didn't sell well, so Eidos passed the franchise's development rights on from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War was the much anticipated sequel to the seminal Deus Ex. It was so poorly received (by the community; it received decent marks from critics) that developer Ion Storm: Austin was driven to collapse, and the spin-off title Deus Ex: Clan Wars was changed to Project Snowblind to remove negative association with the ballyhooed franchise. Another title in the series wouldn't be made until 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
  • ActRaiser II was an In Name Only sequel that lacked the original game's popular Simulation Mode. The unGodly difficulty level couldn't have helped it out at all, either.
  • After Unlimited Saga was released in 2002, the only new SaGa games have been remakes of existing games in the series.
  • Dawn of Mana effectively killed off the World of Mana series with frustrating and nonsensical gameplay and a level system that reset whenever you started a new chapter, which meant Loads And Loads Of Grinding.
  • Front Mission Evolved crashed and burned in Japan, but it has been generally better received in America. The poor ratings/sales have more or less ended the future of Front Mission video games (the franchise still lives on with its manga and novels, which remain very popular in Japan due to its high storytelling qualities). Ironically, among all things, Evolved was panned for its terrible storytelling.


  • Sega's Shinobi franchise was killed quite dead by the poor Shinobi Legions installment in 1995, not returning until a reboot in 2002. It died again in 2004 with Nightshade (2003 video game), which itself was a perfectly good game, but had little to no marketing and its link to the Shinobi franchise was not played up, so it sat in obscurity. Time will tell if the Nintendo 3DS game will bring it back from the brink again.
  • On a similar note, Shenmue was a Franchise Killer after the first episode in the US owing both to the end of the Sega Dreamcast and slow gameplay, but the second episode (of a proposed four) was released to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the second episode managed to fail financially on both the Dreamcast and the Xbox, rendering its huge and startling cliffhanger the end. As the mastermind behind the series, Yu Suzuki, has left Sega, there is little hope of revival.
  • Virtual On MARZ arguably killed its series. The game was changed from a 3D Fighting Game to an arena-based Beat'Em Up (of sorts, Virtual On has guns), it became single-player, had a horrible, generic anime-like plot, and the English version was plagued by Blind Idiot Translation. Ironically enough, most of the cameos Virtual On has gotten elsewhere (outside of indie circles) are more heavily based on MARZ than any other part of the series, namely in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, in which the robots had human voices, and featured Hatter, who only appeared in MARZ.
  • Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle flopped so badly that Sega ditched the titular character as their mascot, and replaced him with Sonic the Hedgehog. While Alex probably didn't have much of a future as Sega's mascot anyway, since the company wanted a more "hip" audience for the Genesis, his series would probably have survived if Enchanted Castle had been better received. Instead, he only appeared in the Dolled-Up Installment Alex Kidd in Shinobi World before disappearing off the gaming map.

Electronic Arts

  • Though Ultima IX was already planned to be the last game in the third trilogy, the way it turned out ensured that there would be no fourth trilogy.
  • The Command & Conquer franchise got killed off after the release of its fourth game of the main series, Tiberian Twilight, due to poor reviews and various ill-received departures from the series' conventions. And that was only a few years after solid hits by the third games of both the main series and the Red Alert spin-off series. With EA having so many other Cash Cow Franchises at the time Tiberian Twilight came and tanked, there's little possibility they would give the franchise another chance now.
  • EA Sports' NBA Live series was renamed NBA Elite for the 2011 year. However, the game's demo was so awful that they yanked it and cancelled the game weeks from release (as well as the 2012 edition). It didn't help that their primary competitor, Take Two's NBA 2K11, is widely considered one of the best sports games of all time.
  • Medal of Honor: Warfighter is widely seen as having effectively killed off the series for the foreseeable future and viewed by some as a low point in military-themed FPS games. Among its many faults are subpar graphics, multiple bugs and tedious, trite gameplay that bore little semblance to its more distinguished predecessors.


  • Tony Hawk: Ride was meant to revive a franchise that was long stagnated and decaying by making the player use a skateboard peripheral that didn't work as well as advertised. Combined with Hawk himself saying critics decided to hate it before it came out, gamers weren't likely to be interested in a sequel, as the poor sales of Shred eventually convinced series publisher Activision to shelf the series for a while before announcing a "back-to-basics" reboot with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD... which turned out to be a Porting Disaster. Activison eventually released Pro Skater 5 which seems to have been an intentional franchise killer: Released just months before their license expired with no fanfare just to sink the value of the license out of spite.
  • The Guitar Hero franchise came to a halt after Warriors of Rock lost out to Rock Band 3. It didn't help that fans had gone through exposure fatigue with the release of several different attempts at spinoffs in the previous two years (Band Hero, DJ Hero) within several months of each other. Activision, for their part, have recognised that DJ Hero was the Guitar Hero Franchise Killer - they spent so much time and creative energy on DJH that they forgot that GH might have needed some love too (four spinoffs != love).
    • On a similar note, Rock Band appears to be hanging up on its five-button traditional gameplay, possibly due to the rather disappointing 82,000 units Green Day: Rock Band sold, and has chosen to expand on the Pro Mode from Rock Band 3.
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback doesn't fit with the canon of the first two games, and it doesn't help that it ends with a Cliff Hanger that will likely never be resolved. This isn't surprising, since it was made by a completely different developer and released as a budget game.


  • Turok: Evolution managed to kill off the franchise, no thanks to silly elements such as Tobias Bruckner, the cyborg cowboy riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex, along with the game's numerous other problems. Probably no coincidence that publisher Acclaim went bankrupt shortly after the release of this and BMX XXX. The 2008 Turok relaunch wasn't a bad game, exactly—it just had the bad luck to be an average shooter during a time when great shooters were glutting the market. A sequel was planned, but was cancelled.
  • Betrayal at Krondor was supposed to be the first of a revolutionary series of games that combined adventure novel-style storytelling with interactive gameplay, in a setting based on The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond Feist. And while the game itself was very much successful, its sequel, Return to Krondor, was ruined by Executive Meddling and license problems and was released woefully unfinished and underpolished, making this a bad enough experience for Feist that he's been unwilling to risk a repeat experience.
  • Although Xenosaga was meant to be a six-part series, it ended after three games. None of the games individually was primarily responsible for the premature end, but altogether the games didn't perform as well as expected. Episode II performed so poorly that part of Episode III's selling point was that it (debatably) coherently summarized Episode II, removing the need to play it to understand the story. Players were thankful, but after the blow Episode II had dealt the franchise, almost every industry commentator observed that Episode III would have to be perfect in every way to keep the series afloat.
    • And of course Xenosaga pretty much exists because its spiritual parent, Xenogears, was a stillborn franchise.
  • The ninth installment of the main Might and Magic series is generally regarded as the reason the developer stuck with the Heroes spinoff from then on; this was mainly due to the fact that the graphics of the engine had to be extensively upgraded in order to conpete. However, all of the company;s resources went into that and not into, say, a very good plot.
  • Bloody Roar 4 is considered the worst entry in the franchise by its small but dedicated fanbase. No new entries in the series were made after this one,[4] but Eighting Raizing has since gone on to develop other licensed fighting games since as the Naruto Clash of Ninja series, Fate Unlimited Codes and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
  • With the surprise success of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, LucasArts decided to take a similar property in development and rework it into a sequel. Ghoul Patrol was a bomb, with tedious, confusing gameplay and none of the original's fun spirit. At least there's still the Wii Virtual Console release of the original game.
  • Bubsy did well enough to get a few 2D sequels and a short-lived cartoon show. Then came Bubsy 3D, seen as one of the worst games ever made, which smashed head-first into the Polygon Ceiling and destroyed any possible future for the series as a whole.
  • The poor critical reception of the 2008 Alone in the Dark game killed off the series. It's even worse when you consider that even though the game developers delayed the release of the game for three years to try to stave off the bad publicity generated by Uwe Boll's failed film adaptation, some elements from the film still made it into the new game.
  • The video game adaptation of E.T.: The Extraterrestrial deserves a dishonorable mention here for temporarily acting as a partial medium killer. The other half is the disastrously bad Atari 2600 port of the arcade classic Pac-Man. The makers were so confident in Pac-Man's success that they made more game cartridges than there were consoles to run them on. Smart, guys. Real smart. It has been theorized numerous times that Atari expected a significant rise in 2600 sales after the release of E.T., so the additional cartridges would have make sense had it worked out that way.
  • Fatal Frame III's poor reviews and worse sales killed the franchise... except in Japan, where there has been another game released, and could conceivably be more.
    • III's performance had nothing to do with the reason IV did not get localized. IV was not localized because of game-breaking bugs that both Nintendo and Tecmo refused to take responsibility for (and Nintendo not wanting to bring over a very imperfect game). A remake of II is being made, however, which will test the franchise's viability anew.
  • Five years elapsed between Winback and its sequel, which in the end turned out completely awful and flopped.
  • Blood II: The Chosen is the reason Caleb won't live again anytime soon.
  • Myth III: The Wolf Age wasn't especially terrible, though it was significantly worse than the first two, and used the much-reviled Gamespy Arcade for multiplayer instead of, killing all hopes for a fourth installment.
  • Driv3r, which was not particularly good, ends on a Cliff Hanger with the protagonist flatlining after being shot by the Big Bad. Then Infogrames made an In Name Only sequel, Parallel Lines, and that didn't perform so well either. It took several years (and a new publisher) for the franchise to return to form with Driver: San Francisco, which has taken strides to distance itself from the Grand Theft Auto-cloned Driv3r and Parallel Lines by going back to the style of the original two games.
  • Jet Moto 3 was a decent game, but it sold poorly, resulting in the planned fourth game being cancelled. So far, there are no plans to revive the series.
  • The first two games in the Double Dragon series were pretty successful at the arcade and on consoles. The first NES game even sold out on the day of its release. But then came Double Dragon 3, which was farmed out to an external developer, featured a poorly-thought out plot involving Mineral MacGuffins, flat level designs, fewer moves than its predecessors, and an ill-conceived shopping gimmick obviously added as a transparent means of inserting more tokens into the machine. There were a couple more Double Dragon sequels after the third game, but the series never quite recovered from there: the NES version of the third game (while considered to be an improvement from the arcade version) is ridiculously hard, the SNES-exclusive fourth game was an Obvious Beta, and the last two games made before Technos went out of business were standard competitive fighting games that did nothing to stand out from an already overcrowded market. The movie "adaptation" of the series wasn't helping matters either...
  • Rumble Roses suffered from a Broken Base before it was even released, with both Anime and Professional Wrestling fans interested in the game. During development it became obvious the game was designed to cater to anime fans, but it was a decent enough wrestling game that the pro wrestling camp wasn't fully alienated. Then came the sequel, Rumble Roses XX, with a labyrinthine and ludicrously time-consuming unlocking system, a completely pathetic create-a-wrestler feature, and a boring street fighting mode that no one liked. The killer, though, was the "Queens Match Mode", done in a style of Japanese erotica that, through Values Dissonance, came across as extremely creepy Fan Disservice elsewhere, evaporating most of its international fanbase. To make matters worse, RRXX was released on a different platform (Xbox 360) than the original game (PlayStation 2), killing much of its built-in audience.
  • Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike suddenly introduced half-assed Third-Person Shooter levels to the series, among other negative aspects, resulting in much backlash. Then Lair put the final nail in Factor 5's coffin.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity started with a very unwelcome Genre Shift, taking a franchise that prized itself on emphasizing a creative, non-violent option whenever possible and making a hack and slash third-person action game, with a Darker and Edgier tone that sharply veered from the gentle humor and fairy-tale style of the previous seven games. What really iced the cake was that none of the Daventry royal family got speaking parts—the Player Character might as well have been from a different franchise entirely. Some of the fan sites refuse to call it a King's Quest game at all. Even the Sierra "King's Quest Collection" quietly ignores it, and Roberta Williams herself was so dissatisfied with it that she refused to call the game King's Quest VIII, removing the numeral from the title altogether. Mask of Eternity's dubious status is reflected in the Fan Remake of King's Quest II, as you will receive full points whether or not you choose to knight Connor (acknowledging him as part of the story arc).
  • Empire Earth III was a commercial and critical failure, derided for its myriad bugs, dubious development choices and one of the worst examples of "dumbing down" gameplay in a RTS. In addition to contributing to Sierra's downfall, it's widely thought to be responsible for the end of the Empire Earth series and Mad Doc studios. Mad Doc even removed any trace of the game from their website before getting bought by Rockstar Games.
  • Fade To Black, the 3D sequel to Flashback, slammed into the Polygon Ceiling head-on, crushing hopes of further sequels or a revival.
  • There was a fourth Descent game planned, but it was cancelled due to poor sales of Descent 3 and Interplay going bankrupt. Interplay has recently come out of bankruptcy and reregistered the trademark, and there are rumors that the fourth game may yet be made.
  • The Broken Base which started in Star Fox Adventures may have managed to finally come back to bite the franchise in the ass with Star Fox Command. It was the poorest selling game in the series to date and while it didn't put the kibosh on the Nintendo 3DS remake of Star Fox 64, it might be a long time before any "new" Star FOX games are seen.
  • Master of Orion and Master Of Orion 2 were classics in the turn-based strategy genre. A toxic combination of Executive Meddling, Sequelphobic developers, and some other bad decisions resulted in a Master Of Orion 3 that bore a striking resemblance to doing one's taxes and was about as much fun. The game bombed hard on release, and since then there has been little hope that the series will be revived. Brad Wardell of Stardock expressed interest in making a fourth game in 2008, but his comments were mere speculation and there has been no follow-up.
  • No One Lives Forever was killed by the terrible Interquel/Gaiden Game Contract J.A.C.K, causing Monolith Productions to abandon the series entirely.
  • One could argue F-Zero GP Legend was this for the F-Zero series. In addition to performing poorly sales-wise, it didn't help either that poor word-of-mouth effectively sunk the accompanying Animated Adaptation before it even hit North American airwaves. While there was only one other sequel to GP Legend (2004's F-Zero Climax), it was never released outside of Japan due to GP Legend's overall poor reception in North America.
  • This nearly happened to the Ys series, with the fifth installement, Kefin, The Lost City of Sand. Kefin, perhaps, wasn't bad bad - but the game was only available on the Super Nintendo (with a franchise that had deep roots on the PC and TurboGrafx-16), had very bland, generic graphics that looked like every other game of its era (which was even worse in context since the setting was supposed to be very exotic) and the music was all simple MIDI-synth (when Ys had become famous partly due to its powerful CD-supported Redbook-audio soundtracks). Fan backlash in Japan was intense, and it would be seven years before a new Ys game was made; the only thing that prevented the total death of the franchise was the good performance of remakes of the first two games, which were already in development when Kefin came out and were put out to recoup development costs.
  • While SNK had previously attempted to move the Samurai Shodown franchise into the third dimension with Samurai Shodown 64[5] with limited success (average review scores, but new characters Shiki and Asura have appeared in other SNK games, such as Neo Geo Battle Coliseum), they tried again with Samurai Shodown Sen (an Interquel to the SamSho 64 games) more than a decade later. The game was a critical flop, with reviewers pointing out the confusing controls, poor character balancing, and ugly graphics.
  • Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude stumbled into, but ultimately survived its transition into 3D. Its follow-up game, Box Office Bust, added platforming, shooting and brawling elements, none which the game did well at all. Reviewers everywhere ripped the game apart, giving it some of the lowest composite scores of any game in the modern console era.
  • The Western version of the first Kunio-Kun game was a surprise hit in Britain, and Renegade became a Spin-Off series. The first two games were beloved by ZX Spectrum owners, but the third game—with its bizarre Time Travel plot, graphics that were monochrome even by Speccy standards, and gobs of Fake Difficulty resulting from poor controls, missing moves, and strict time limits—spelt an end to the series.
  • After Atari's buy-out on Humongous Entertainment, the company tried to continue Putt-Putt and Pajama Sam. Putt-Putt's last game wasn't all too bad, it had some poor voice acting and way too much recycled content as well as was boring, but it's at least playable compared to their attempt at Pajama Sam, which had a very cringe-worthy choice of voice actor, a lame plot, Loads and Loads of Loading, and several other things. They didn't sell or score well enough to continue onward, while the Backyard Sports series continued to get a worse treatment.
  • Lunar: Dragon Song seems to have done this for the Lunar series; stemming from poor sales, bad reviews, and absurd gameplay mechanics. There hasn't been a non-remake Lunar title since Dragon Song's release.
  • Baten Kaitos: Origins came out near the end of the Game Cube's lifespan, four months before the Wii launch. Despite improving massively on EWLO's flaws, it was overlooked by a gaming community clamoring for next-gen consoles and never sold particularly well. With the rumored Nintendo DS installment canceled, the future of the series looks bleak.
  • Majin Tensei was a decently-received Mega Ten spinoff in the Strategy RPG genre, which ended up doing well enough to recieve one more successful sequel. Then came Ronde for the Saturn. Development was farmed out to Access while Atlus worked on other games, resulting in a game so legendarily awful that the release of a preview demo caused literally thousands of canceled preorders—numbers that were virtually unprecedented in Japan at the time. Not only did it kill the Majin Tensei series (the only release in the series since was a cell phone game that came out 10 years later), but Atlus wouldn't release another Strategy RPG Mega Ten until Devil Survivor, twelve years later, which had entirely different gameplay from the earlier series to boot.
  • Codemaster's separate successor to the original Operation Flashpoint series went down the drain already after its second installment, Red River. Unlike the first one, Dragon Rising, Red River took what made the series unique, threw nearly all of it out and turned itself into a generic Modern Warfare clone, a move that appealed to fans of neither series, so guess how well that went... Worse yet, Red River doubled as a Creator Killer, since Codemasters promptly closed down its Guildford studio after the game's failure. Meanwhile, OFP's original creators are still going strong with their Arm A series, apparently being the winner in the Dueling Games affair they had with the Codemasters' Spiritual Successor.
  • Crystal Kingdom Dizzy ended up being this for the Dizzy series of Spectrum games. A full-priced title with a drop in quality from the previous budget titles, its relative failure would mean the planned next game Wonderland Dizzy would never be released.
  • Virtual Hydlide, the attempted reboot of Hydlide in 3D, killed off a series that had been moderately well appreciated in Japan during the 8-bit era.
  • Rygar: The Legendary Adventure was a good game, but didn't perform well enough to continue the series. It was less-than-spectacularly ported to the Wii several years hereafter, sealing the fate of the franchise. At one point, there was a Rygar 2 announced, but it ended up being Vaporware.

Western Animation

  • Ever wondered why you don't hear much about Felix the Cat anymore outside of merchandising or that 2004 direct-to-video film? You can pin the blame on the failure of Felix the Cat: The Movie, as well as the surprisingly good Twisted Tales of Felix series (Then again, Felix is getting a supposed upcoming CGI series, but still).
  • After Beast Machines there was supposed to be a sequel series (complete with prototype toys made) called Transtech and it would have continued even further into the series timeline. While Beast Machines still had solid ratings, the reception was mediocre and the toys themselves were subpar and didn't sell. Recognizing they had taken the Beast era franchise as far as it could go, they scrapped Transtech and imported Transformers: Robots in Disguise while they worked on a complete Continuity Reboot with Transformers Armada. This did have the interesting effect of splitting Transformers into many Alternate Universes rather than just Alternate Continuities. If you're still confused over why it's considered a Franchise Killer, let's just say this; up until Beast Machines, all Transformers franchises were made in or spun off from ones made in the West; after Beast Machines, no Transformers series would be developed in the West until almost a decade later.
  • After the second season of Gargoyles, creator Greg Weisman jumped ship, and a third season called Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles sank the franchise on TV. Greg wrote a comic series to replace the third season, but unfortunately it didn't sell well enough to keep up once Disney hiked up the licensing fee.
  • In a rare example of a character being a one-person Franchise Killer, Elmyra managed to be the prime cause for the untimely demise of Pinky and The Brain.
  1. after Midway Games, the franchise's original publisher, fell apart
  2. possibly an instance of Screwed by the Network, as ABC had to know it wasn't going to get much of anything by dumping the show against The X Factor and The Big Bang Theory
  3. The sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway and the Great Hanshin Earthquake, both in March of that year, made the 1995 season's Darker and Edgier plot very untenable.
  4. rumors of a new entry in the series due out in 2012 were revealed to be a hoax
  5. as in the Hyper Neo-Geo 64 arcade board, not Nintendo 64