Sequel First

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Jackie Chan made a movie called Armour of God, and the sequel was called Armour of God 2: Operation Condor. Well, when that came out in the US, there was a little difficulty. Armour of God wasn't out yet, so they decided to release the sequel here first, and change the title to just Operation Condor. Well, after that, Armour of God actually did make an American release, and it was called Operation Condor 2: Armour of God! A complete reversal!"

A later installment of a series gets released somewhere (in another country, or in a group of Compilation Rerelease, etc.) before its original installments. A series is finally localized, thus averting No Export for You, but for whatever reason the company decides to begin with the latest title in the series rather than start from the beginning.

This is common in the video game industry due to their technological nature: a video game franchise that the developers originally didn't deem suitable for one market might be brought there later; if the original game was released for a platform that has since been discontinued, then the company will instead localize one of the more recent games in the same series for a current platform.

Related is Adaptation First, a tendency for a startlingly large number of video game franchises in Japan to have their ancillary products (such as anime series or manga) cross the Pacific without the actual games making the jump. See also Marth Debuted in Smash Bros and Novelization First.

Examples of Sequel First include:

Anime and Manga

  • Technically speaking, the FUNimation dub of the original Dragon Ball anime aired before Dragonball Z, but only the first thirteen episodes were translated before Funimation decided to skip straight to the sequel. The remainder of the series was only translated after Dragonball Z was successful in America.
    • An even earlier dub attempt by Harmony Gold aired sometime around '87-89, but only lasted five episodes along with movies 1 and 3 due to poor network reception. Not too surprisingly, you rarely hear of this version.
  • 1995's Gundam Wing was the first part of the venerable Gundam franchise to make it big in other countries; this, among other factors, gave the 1979 original series an uphill battle when it was also aired on Cartoon Network.
  • Ultimate Muscle, aka Kinnikuman Nisei, was actually a sequel to the original Kinnikuman manga and anime, which was never officially translated (but the merchandise was brought over under the localized name of M.U.S.C.L.E.)
    • Hillariously enough, when the sequel did come here, it was actually MORE popular than in Japan, so much so that 4Kids funded the second season when it was cancelled in Japan.
  • Voltes V and Daimos came out in the Philippines before Combattler V and achieved much greater popularity.
    • And because of this some viewers there have mistaken Combattler V as either a strange sequel or a cheap knockoff.
  • The FUNimation dub of One Piece falls into this trope. When FUNimation picked up the series from 4kids, they also optioned the rights to dub movies. At the request of Toei Animation, FUNimation started on Movie 8, skipping all of the other movies in the One Piece film series. However, the stickers on the DVD identify it as "#8", so they don't appear to be reordering them number-wise.
  • Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a good example of this trope. Jojo is split into "Parts", each part including a different main character. When the show was adapted into an Anime, only Part 3 "Stardust Crusaders" was adapted, and they started with the final arc of Part 3, before going back years later and doing the earlier part of the series. This was later released in America, along with a Part 3 Video game by Capcom, and thus Part 3 became the most popular Part of the story in the US. Because of this, when Viz optioned the rights to the Manga, they skipped parts 1 and 2 and went straight to part 3, but removed the "Stardust Crusaders" subtitle, simply showing it as "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure", with no apparent plans to release the first two Parts yet in any form yet.
  • When Lupin III was allowed to air on Adult Swim. Pioneer, the company dubbing it, aired the second season rather then the first.
  • In France, the second Tamagotchi film came first instead of the first film!


  • The North American release of the Jackie Chan film Armour of God II: Operation Condor, retitled simply Operation Condor, came six years after its release in Hong Kong... before the original Armour of God. When the original finally made it across the Pacific (direct-to-video, no less,) it was retitled Operation Condor 2: The Armour of the Gods. Confused, yet?
  • Mad Max II/The Road Warrior got a bigger world-wide release than the original Mad Max.
  • The movie A Shot in the Dark was filmed a year before The Pink Panther, but was shelved. It was only released because of the success of The Pink Panther.
  • Fulci's Zombi 2 was titled as such to capitalize off the success of Zombi, which was actually the Italian recut of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. When it was released in the U.S. it was retitled Zombie. Subsequent sequels weren't retitled, leaving many Americans wondering where the mythical second Zombie film could be found. If that doesn't hurt the mind to begin with, the issue was corrected in a two disc re release of the original titled, you guessed it, Zombie 2, leaving a whole new generation of horror fans to wonder where the hell the first Zombie picture could be found.
    • The Italian cut (which removes humor) of Dawn of the Dead is now out in America as Zombie: Dawn of the Dead. Whether this makes things more or less confusing is up for debate.
  • In Italy the Maniac Cop series received the same treatment: "Maniac Cop 2" became "Poliziotto sadico" ("Sadist Policeman") while the first movie was retitled as "Maniac Cop - Poliziotto sadico 2".
  • Film fans who pay attention to the credits must have wondered why the poster for Missing in Action has the credit "Based on characters created by Arthur Silver and Larry Levinson and Steve Bing." Cannon filmed Missing In Action 2: The Beginning FIRST (as Battlerage) but it was decided the actual sequel, in which Braddock (Chuck Norris) goes back to Vietnam, was the stronger of the two and hence Cannon released that first.
  • The fourth and eleventh of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt adventures, Raise the Titanic and Sahara, received film adaptations first.


  • Peter Robinson's book series about the police detective Alan Banks so far numbers 18 titles. The Swedish translation starts only at book number 10 (A Dry Season).
  • Warrior Cats: The Lost Warrior manga trilogy, which involves events that don't happen until part way through the second series of books, is already being published in Germany, despite the fact that they haven't finished translating all the books in the first series.

Live Action TV


  • Elton John's first album to be released in North America was his self-titled second album in 1970. He had released an album before that in Britain, Empty Sky, which was not released in the US until 1975.
  • The second album by The Move was released in the US before their debut album.
  • In 1999, Muse's debut album, Showbiz, was greeted with indifference by American audiences. Their next album, Origin of Symmetry (released in 2001 in the UK), did not receive an official release in the United States until 2005, the year after their third album, Absolution, found an audience in the States.
  • Within Temptation's fourth studio album, The Heart of Everything, was the band's first album to be released in the United States in 2007. Their first album, Enter, and the EP The Dance followed a few months later. Their second and third albums (Mother Earth and The Silent Force) didn't see a stateside release until 2008.
  • For some reason, the American leg of the Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour was scheduled to happen before the often difficult to follow Concept Album had even been released in the US. The band ended up playing the entirety of the album to audiences who hadn't heard it yet and certainly weren't expecting anything like that.
  • Nirvana's debut album Bleach only saw a wide international release after the success of follow-up Nevermind.
  • The Clash's first album wasn't released in the US because the record company over there thought it was too controversial. Their second album "Give Em Enough Rope" was their first released in the US, albeit with the cover text in a different font and the title of the last track changed. After the "I Fought The Law" from The Cost Of Living EP was a hit, the record company wanted to capitalise on its success so they put out a butchered version of The Clash's first album in the US including the track and several of their recent singles replacing some of the songs they had deemed controversial. This caused an odd situation where stuff released after their second album was included on a rerelease of their first.
  • Opium, KMFDM's 1984 debut album, was initially only released in Germany as a limited cassette run and didn't get an international release until 2002.

Video Games

  • EarthBound (Mother 2), the second in the Mother series, and the first (and only) one to be released in the US. The original Mother was originally slated for a North American release under the title Earthbound, but was scrapped after being completed; when the prototype surfaced years later, the hackers that made the game playable in emulators also changed the title to MOTHER 1 to avoid confusion.
  • Final Fantasy VII was the first one to be released in PAL regions, and at that time only three of the first six (I, IV, and VI) had been released in the US and Canada.
    • Squaresoft tried to cover this by retitling the American versions of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI into Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III respectively, but went back to the actual numbering with Final Fantasy VII. Naturally, this caused a lot of Americans unfamiliar with the Japanese version to wonder why the series jumped from III to VII.
    • On the subject of Final Fantasy, there's Chocobo's Dungeon 2, an iteration in the Mystery Dungeon series. The US got 2 first, but it wasn't re-numbered.
  • Growlanser Generations is a compilation of second and third game in the Growlanser series. Growlanser: Heritage of War is the fifth.
  • Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken (The Sword of Flame) was the first Fire Emblem game officially released in English, leading to the confusing retitling of the game to simply Fire Emblem (no subtitle) only to retcon it back to being Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade in Fire Emblem Heroes over a decade afterwards. This is noteworthy considering the original game for the Famicom, Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Ken (The Dark Dragon and the Sword of Light), was released in 1990, 13 years before the series' English debut in 2003. The Sword of Flame is actually the second GBA game in the series and the seventh installment overall. Adding further confusion, The Sword of Flame is actually a prequel to the previous GBA game, Fuuin no Tsurugi (The Sword of Seal), which was never released internationally (despite the appearance of that game's protagonist, Roy, in Super Smash Bros.. Melee).
  • Cosmic Fantasy 2 was the first of the series of four games to be released outside Japan, and also the last, as it turned out.
  • Dragon Quest VIII was the first game in that series to be released in PAL territories as well, and they dropped the numbers to hide that fact.
  • The first Pokémon Stadium game released internationally was actually the second released in Japan. The first was skipped over entirely because it actually did not have the full roster of Pokémon at the time.
  • Super Robot Wars, although that's for a very good reason (specifically, straightening up all the licencing rights for the games which aren't Original Generation would be a nightmare).
  • Europe never got Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere (not that anyone outside Japan has ever gotten the original game), so installments 04, 5, and Ace Combat Zero had the numbers dropped from the PAL release. 4 and 5 also had their subtitles changed into absolutely awful ones for no apparent reason.
  • The Front Mission series debuted internationally with its third game (which remains the only one ever released in Europe).
  • Advance Wars, released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001, is actually part of the long-running series which dates back to 1988 with the release of Famicom Wars. Ironically enough, the Japanese version of Advance Wars, Game Boy Wars Advance, was not released in Japan until 2004 when it was included in a two-in-one cartridge with its sequel.
  • PAL countries got We ♥ Katamari but not the original Katamari Damacy.
  • Similiarly, Europe only got Xenosaga Episode II with an extra DVD containing the cut-scenes of the first game.
  • In Europe, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney came out before Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations.
  • Though not necessarily a true example, it is worth noting that Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, a remake of Sonic Adventure 2, came out before Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, a remake of Sonic Adventure.
  • Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals was released in Germany as simply Lufia because the original never made it to Europe. The name "Lufia" is mentioned only in the secret epilogue which appears after playing though the game for a second time. The solution for this problem? Renaming the Dual Blade "Lufiasword". Then they kept this up in the sequel, leading to a Dub-Induced Plot Hole in the prologue of Lufia 3.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story was the first game in the series to be released outside Japan.
  • Tales of Destiny was the first game in the Tales series to be released outside Japan.
  • Again in the PAL territories, Digimon World 3 was renamed Digimon World 2003 because Bandai skipped Digimon World 2. Strangely enough, despite Japan dropping the number after 3, the PAL release of the next game was given the American title, Digimon World 4.
  • North America is the last of the three major regions to get Gradius II in some form, having been officially introduced to it 2006, 18 years after its initial Japanese release and long after the North American releases of III, IV, and V.
    • Before that, Konami of America did promote the Gradius spinoff Life Force (aka Salamander) as a sequel to the original Gradius, causing players that didn't know any better to assume that Life Force was the missing sequel.
  • Beatmania IIDX 14 GOLD would've been the first American arcade release of beatmania IIDX out of what was then 15 Japan-exclusive arcade installments of the series. It didn't get past the location test stage.
    • Though its predecessor series beatmania was given 3 limited arcade releases in the US under the new title "Hip Hopmania".
  • Disgaea was released in North America before its predecessor: La Pucelle.
    • And the Rhapsody series, which La Pucelle is vaguely a sequel of, has only had one of its three games released outside Japan.
  • Atelier Iris was the first of the Atelier to be released outside of Japan. Its predecessors still haven't been.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (SMTIII) was released in North America despite the fact that the first two games had never been released, and the same goes for the first two Devil Summoner games as well when the third, Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army was released. Persona 2 is a particularly awful offender, as the game came in two parts, the first of which was never released in North America. Oddly enough, they decided to release part two in NA, despite the fact that it was a somewhat direct sequel.
  • The first Thunder Force game to be released outside of Japan was Thunder Force 2. In fact, the first Thunder Force (which was a rather dull Xevious clone released on three Japanese microcomputers) is so obscure that there's a review out there calling Thunder Force 2 the first game in the series.
  • Three games in the Custom Robo series were released in Japan without coming out anywhere else. You know what they called the GCN game Custom Robo: Battle Revolution? We just call it Custom Robo.
  • Wario Ware: Touched! came out before WarioWare: Twisted! in America and Australia. This is a problem in itself, since the latter game obviously serves as 18-Volt's real introduction in the series.
    • In addition to this, Twisted unlocks a secret video in Touched when Touched is played with Twisted in the GBA slot, thus meaning that the Wario Ware game that game out three months AFTER Touched did unlocked a video in Touched.
    • Twisted was skipped entirely in Europe, meaning the above character had no introduction.
  • The fifth game in the Densetsu no Sutafī series, Densetsu no Sutafī Taiketsu! Daiiru Kaizokudan, was the first to be released outside of Japan as The Legendary Starfy.
  • The Game Boy Advance rhythm game Rhythm Tengoku was never released outside of Japan. However, its Nintendo DS sequel, Rhythm Tengoku Gold, was released in North America as Rhythm Heaven, and in Europe as Rhythm Paradise.
  • The very first game in the Metal Gear series barely averted this. Whereas the original MSX2 version of Metal Gear wasn't released in America, American players still managed to get the game in the form of its now-infamous NES port. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on the other hand was only released in Japan, and that was during the twilight days of the MSX2. It didn't even get an overseas release until its inclusion in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Players who wanted to know what happened between the events of the original and Metal Gear Solid in the meantime had to download the fan-translated version of the game from the internet or settle with just the plot summary included in Metal Gear Solid. To make matters more confusing, there was a non-canon Metal Gear sequel for the NES titled Snake's Revenge, aimed specifically at Western players and released prior to the "real" Metal Gear 2. People who didn't know any better (which meant most overseas players) mistook both games as one and the same.
  • The first Ganbare Goemon game released outside Japan was Legend of the Mystical Ninja for the SNES (the series had previous installments for the Famicom), in which for no reason Goemon and Ebisumaru were renamed "Kid Ying" and "Dr. Yang". The two Nintendo 64 games that were later localized kept the characters' original names.
  • Stinger, aka Moero!! Twinbee, was the second Twinbee game for the Famicom and the only one released in North America for the NES. Pop'n Twinbee was later released in the PAL region for the SNES. The second arcade game, Detana!! Twinbee, also saw an overseas release as Bells & Whistles, while the PC Engine port eventually got an overseas release via the Virtual Console (albeit, untranslated). The original Twinbee arcade game was also included on the Nintendo DS compilation Konami Classic Series: Arcade Hits under the name of Rainbow Bell.
  • The Sakura Taisen series will finally see the light of day in the US with a remake of the fifth game. Which is not even the most recent game, mind you. Well, whatever, at least someone has the guts to try marketing a Dating Sim to North Americans, which common industry wisdom says will never work and webcomic authors seem to think will.
  • The Genesis and Turbografx ports/remakes of Valis 1: The Fantasm Soldier weren't produced until after Valis IV was released in Japan (and Valis II in the US). Only the former port made it to the states.
  • Zanac for the NES was actually a port of the MSX Zanac EX, which was the sequel to the original MSX-only Zanac.
  • Tombs & Treasure, an NES adventure game, was a port of a PC-88 game called Taiyou no Shinden Asteka II. As the name indicates, this was a sequel to a game called Asteka (a command line-driven text adventure with some graphics), which was never translated into English.
  • Before Clock Tower on the PlayStation, there was the No Export for You Clock Tower: The First Fear on the SNES.
  • The iPhone port of Espgaluda II was released in North America in 2010, seven years after the still-Japan-only Espgaluda.
  • As an example of this happening in Japan, the console versions of the medieval-themed FPS, Hexen, a sequel to Heretic, were released there, though they never got Heretic itself.
  • Mega Man 6 was never released in Europe, but 7 and Mega Man 8 were and both used their original titles.
  • Monster Rancher DS was released in Japan in 2007, and a sequel was released in 2008. Monster Rancher DS 2 was released in the US in 2010, under the title Monster Rancher DS.
  • Animal Forest was a Spring 2001 N64 release only in Japan. Its Game Cube sequel, Animal Crossing, was released outside Japan.
    • It actually WASN'T a sequel but a port of the original. Which adds more confusion seeing as the port itself was later released in Japan.
  • Irem had two Major Title games, the first of which wasn't released in America. The sequel was released under the title "The Irem Skins Game".
  • Axis: Bold as Love from The Jimi Hendrix Experience hit the Rock Band platform a few months before (a modified edition of) Are You Experienced, which was released first originally. The platform in general has had this plenty of times; a hit song is released, and then an earlier hit from the same band sees its way on the platform later.
  • Outside Japan and North America, the Mario RPG spinoffs came out of nowhere and started with Paper Mario, which of course made the call backs confusing. As a result, in those regions Paper Mario is often used to describe the series. The original 1996 Super Mario RPG did, with a little bit of bowdlerising, eventually make it to PAL regions... in 2008. Three generations and three sequels later.
  • What North America got as simply Culdcept in 2003 was the PlayStation 2 port/expansion to Culdcept Second in Japan. The original Culdcept for the Sega Saturn came out in Japan in 1997.
  • For some reason, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project was never released in Europe. That didn't prevent the SNES port of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles in Time from being called Hero Turtles IV in Europe.
  • Inverted with the Wonder Boy series. Monster World II (aka Wonder Boy III the Dragons Trap) was originally made for the Sega Master System. This version came out in North America and Europe, but not in Japan (due to the decline of the Mark III, the Japanese version of the Master System). Japan got the game after it was ported to the Game Gear, which came out after the Japanese release of Monster World III for the Mega Drive.
  • Penguin Land for the Sega Master System was actually a sequel to the original Doki Doki Penguin Land, which was never released outside Japan.
  • The first Parodius game released in Europe was actually Parodius Da!, the second game in the series. Many of Konami's MSX games had European releases, but not the original Parodius.
  • The first Sonic Drift game was Japan-only until long after the demise of the Game Gear. The sequel was released internationally, and was still called Sonic Drift 2 in its U.S. release.
  • Exile was originally released in Japan for the PC-88, PC 98 and MSX2 under the title XZR II; the original XZR, to which it was a direct sequel, wasn't localized (and had no console port). However, the versions of Exile that were localized, for the Sega Genesis and Turbo Duo were titled without number even in Japan, and the following game for the Turbo Duo, Exile: Wicked Phenomenon, was Exile II in Japan.
  • Samurai Ghost for the TurboGrafx-16 was a localization of the sequel to the Namco game Genpei Touma Den. The arcade original wasn't released outside Japan until it appeared on Namco Museum Vol. 4, where it was titled The Genji and the Heike Clans.
  • Arcus Odyssey for the Sega Genesis was a Gaiden Game in the otherwise Japan-exclusive Arcus RPG series by Wolf Team.
  • The Fist of the North Star NES game was actually a localization of Hokuto no Ken 2 for the Famicom.
  • The game released internationally by Maxis under the title A-Train was actually the third game of the long-running series. The original game was Japan-exclusive, but the second game had previously been released in the US as Railroad Empire.

Western Animation

  • In Germany, only the first two seasons of Justice League Unlimited were aired. The preceding two seasons that ran under the simple title Justice League were never shown, and neither was the third season of JLU. The reason for this apparently was that Justice League is technically a different show than its successor Unlimited, and the German network was only offered the rights to the latter.
  • In a strange example, the first movie of the latest Care Bears reboot (Share Bear Shines) has only been released in Australia, with only the movies that come after it (To The Rescue, The Giving Festival) airing in the US, despite the fact that a character introduced in the first movie also shows up in the third.