Sequelitis

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As the number of films in a series swells, the probability of an entry that is unmitigated crap jumps to a number greater than 50% with the second installment, and approaches 100% thereafter. For example, a successful film has a sequel that is decent but nothing compared to the original film. Suddenly a third movie appears and is may not even be produced or directed by the same people as the other two. If there are any more sequels, it just goes downhill from there if none of them are entertaining.

Sequels to movies, generally unplanned ones (as opposed to a planned trilogy for example) and created on the impetus of box office revenue (Roger Ebert, in his Bigger Little Movie Glossary, defines "sequel" as "a filmed deal"), are rarely as good as the movie they're a sequel to. If there is a third installment, it will frequently mark a sharp downhill turn even when the second movie turned out all right. And even if there's a good trilogy, going beyond that has an even greater chance of crap.

Note, however, that this only applies to unplanned sequels. Numerous examples exist of planned sequels which have been extremely good. It can also happen in the case of unplanned sequels (Ghostbusters 2 comes to mind as a sequel that, while perhaps not stellar, at least wasn't completely horrible) as well; it's just a lot more rare in that case, as noted above.

Common symptoms of Sequelitis (that is, things which contribute to a sequel not being as well received as the original) include, but are not limited to:

  • TYPE I: The casual (and sometimes callous) bumping off of beloved characters whose actors either refused to or couldn't return for the sequel.
    • Low-budget cash-in sequels may take the alternate route of simply recasting almost every recurring character with a fresh batch of B-list actors, not just those formerly played by child actors now grown too old and big name stars now busy elsewhere.
    • Occasionally the reverse situation happens—the filmmakers bumped off a beloved character in the first film, but find a contrived way to bring them back.
    • It's not uncommon for a main or supporting character from the original movie to disappear with no explanation for the sequel, usually because the actor(s) didn't want to return and the filmmakers didn't want to bother with recasting the part.
    • Another possibility filmmakers take when they can't get most/all of the original cast back is to center a story around the previously unmentioned relative/friend of a beloved character, assuming that a connection to the original character will help make the new character just as good and beloved as the original. This can often lead to In Name Only.
  • TYPE II: The mysterious unexplained departure of a hero's love interest (either because the actor or actress refused to return for the sequel or because the producers thought the Shippers would lose interest in the hero if he or she was married.) At most, there may be a throwaway line that poorly explains why he or she isn't there.
  • TYPE III: Wacky Wayside Tribes begin choking the plot to conceal the fact that the writers have basically run out of story.
  • TYPE IV: It's natural for producers to try and recapture the magic and atmosphere which made the first movie so successful. However, oftentimes they'll think to themselves: "Hmm. X worked really well in the first movie. If we ramp X up and show ten times as much of it in the second movie, people will love it!", "X" usually being toilet humor, sadistic slapstick violence, or something else along those lines.
  • TYPE V: A tendency for the property to escalate into more science fiction, fantasy, or all around cartoonish elements, when the original at least made some attempt at being realistic (or at least low-key and consistent in its unrealism).
    • Or to become louder, brasher and more violent at the expense of other aspects of the original.
    • Inversely, it is also possible for a property that was initially wacky and intentionally unrealistic in the name of Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny, etc to try and ground itself and be more realistic, losing its original charm in the process. However, this seems to be far less common an occurrence than its inverse.
  • TYPE VI: Many sequels begin to suffer from Pandering to the Base. Although it may seem like a good idea at the time—who better to try and get onside than the fans of the franchise? -- this rarely ends well; usually, trying to please the fans ends up both (a) isolating a potential new audience and (b) annoying the fans, who are often made to realize that what they think they want isn't necessarily what they actually want, and are very quick and loud to say so. Many filmmakers often have little actual understanding of what fans do want, having merely perused a handful of message boards and assuming they speak for all fandom, if they even do that much research; in essence they end up catering to a Straw Fan. This is particularly the case when bringing back a much beloved character who unexpectedly won the audience over in the first movie, only to do nothing interesting with them or, worse, Flanderize them so much that they end up being a one-dimensional caricature of the charming and multi-faceted character they fell in love with in the first place.
  • TYPE VII: The increasing insistence these days of any successful blockbuster movie to be stretched out to make a trilogy, whether the plot or characters particularly call for one or not; as such, a high-quality and self-contained first movie will often be artificially extended (with or without a Sequel Hook) into two bloated, incoherent sequels with the plot extended beyond its limits and stretched too thin between them.

Do note also that Sequelitis can and does incorporate several of these types at once.

The format of the sequel also enters the equation. If it's a Direct to Video sequel, chances are high that it sucks. After all, a lot of people assume a Direct-to-Video sequel is a movie that wasn't good enough to become a box office failure in theaters.

The dreadful compulsion on the part of writers and filmmakers to add new chapters to perfectly good works has been likened to an addiction, sometimes termed sequelholism. The writers sometimes seem aware of this, and as a run of sequels are produced they may drop numbering the movies entirely and start adding cliché subtitles. This only makes it harder to guess the order to watch for new fans. If they aren't aware of this, then, in the end, odds are First Installment Wins.

The inverse is a Surprisingly Improved Sequel or Even Better Sequel (depending on the quality of the original). Contested Sequel is when there is considerable division about the sequel's quality. Distantly related to Adaptation Decay. For a strangely divergent sequel, see In Name Only. For a sequel that retains the monster or villain but features none of the original heroes, see Villain Based Franchise. Can be caused by a poor choice in Sequel Escalation, and lead up to Franchise Zombie. Backlash against sequels has made many reviewers Sequelphobic. Some fans treat such sequels with Fanon Discontinuity. See also Sophomore Slump, The Problem with Licensed Games.

Not to be confused with Egoraptor's new web series.

Examples of Sequelitis include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The reception to Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad, 1984, created the Super Bowl Special phenomenon and made the Apple Macintosh a household name before the computer was available to purchase. The reception to Apple's 1985 Super Bowl ad, Lemmings, caused Steve Jobs to be fired.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode, a two-volume manga sequel, ended up being penned by a different writer (the artist of the original series), but taking place in a universe explicitly the same as the original, something many anime explicitly avoid in order to start fresh. And that's the mildest of its many, many problems.
  • SHUFFLE! Memories is not a sequel, but a summary of the series set ten years later. Though some fans say it's terrible, other fans say that the Fan Service-laden last episode was more than enough to make up for the terrible recap of SHUFFLE!.
  • To Heart: Remember My Memories turned a Slice of Life series into a Harem Drama Cliché Storm, with sub-par art, choppy animation and bad voice acting. The story focused on an android who lost her memories, with Hiroyuki turning from a kind, sensible guy into a jerk and Akari getting a major case of Out of Focus.
  • Dragon Ball GT is seen by some of the Dragon Ball fanbase as a combination of this and Franchise Zombie due to being done by Toei Animation, declared non-canon by the creator, and only featuring a couple of his designs.
    • Return of Cooler, Broly – Second Coming and Bio-Broly are among some of the worst Non-Serial Movies in the series.
  • If the subpar ratings in Japan and overall lack of accrediation beyond loads of magazine previews (keyword here) are anything to say, the Uncancelled fourth (Revolution) and fifth (Evolution-R) seasons of the Slayers anime are this. Most countries outside Japan (including the States) gave the seasons positive reviews, but 'most' of the viewers were older fans of the series, so that still doesn't help in the long run.
    • A bizarre inverse of this trope occurs with the Slayers Smash novels, which are a part of the book series that takes place before the main storyline. Whereas the main series ended in 2000, the prequel books came out two years after the first original novel came out and are still ongoing. Sales have been dropping, and many fans agree that the adventures of Lina and Naga are being uncessesarily dragged out. Unfortunately, the man who created the novels has no intention of continuing the main storyline.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in The Simpsons comic book storyline "When Bongos Collide!", in which everyone in Springfield gets superpowers as a result of a nuclear explosion. Troy McClure's alter-ego, The Sequelizer, has the power to "create an infinite number of copies of [himself] -- although each is only 50% as powerful as the one before."


Films -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • Disney Animated Canon + Direct to Video Sequels = What Were You Thinking?? The only exception being The Rescuers Down Under, which is a part of the Animated Canon anyway and the first movie to use CAPS.
    • Money, Dear Boy. Also copyright renewal, while they keep lobbying Congress to extend copyright indefinitely.
    • This includes a sequel midquel to the classic 1942 film Bambi. That's right, a direct-to-video sequel to Bambi that came out more than six decades after the original was released. The Bambi midquel is arguably one of the better direct-to-video sequels in terms of both writing and animation (and even earned a theatrical release in some areas).
    • One of the conditions Pixar put when they joined with Disney was that they wouldn't be required to make sequels. In fact, because one of the parts of the merger was putting Pixar's people in charge of Disney's animation studio, one of the first things they did was halted production of Disney's own Toy Story 3 and began working on the title in-house. Consequently, both the third movie and the entire Toy Story trilogy have been lauded as cinema classics. They did, however, make a sequel to Cars, widely considered one of their worst movies, resulting in what is widely considered their worst movie, Cars 2.
    • Pocahontas 2: Journey to the New World brings the title character slightly closer to her historical, real-life counterpart (her romance with John Rolfe, visiting England), and also shows her making more mature decisions. However, the quality of the movie itself was met with more varied opinions.
    • The Emperors New Groove managed to really break the mold in terms of Disney animated movies, but its sequel was rather generic, playing out more like three episodes of a TV show strung together than an actual movie. Fittingly enough, there actually was later a TV series called The Emperor's New School, complete with a new voice actor for Kuzco and apparently having all of the soul of the first movie surgically removed and replaced with more slapstick.
    • Downplayed by the two DTV sequels to Aladdin, The Return of Jafar and The Prince of Thieves. While clearly inferior to the original, they were nowwhere near horrible.
    • The good news is that, after Walt Disney Feature Animation got a new man-in-charge, he explicitly said that there were to be no more straight-to-DVD sequels.
    • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time was considered one of the best direct-to-video sequels Disney had ever produced by several reviewers and even several of those who weren't usually pleased by the sequels, even being stated to be "when the sequels started getting good." However, it was the last of the direct-to-video sequels to be made, so it's unknown if further sequels would've improved in quality.
    • The Lion King's sequels were more favored than most other Disney sequels for their plot (Simba's Pride) and their theatrical-like animation (1 1/2/Hakuna Matata).
  • The Land Before Time was a great movie. However, although the quality of the series is up and down from movie to movie (rather than a permanent nosedive, as some may have been led to believe) and may range from good to utter crap depending on who you ask, one constant is that none of the thirteen (!) sequels (or the TV show, for that matter) can hold a candle to Bluth's original film. Not even close. The fourteenth movie was thought to be an unlikely rumor after a nearly decade-long gap since XIII and the series, but nope -- The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave was released in 2016, keeping the franchise going almost three decades after the original. General consensus is that the series starts off weak with Great Valley Adventure being not bad but not great, gets a bit better with Time of Great Giving, nosedives with Journey Through the Mists gets slowly better through Mysterious Island, Secret of Saurus Rock and Stone of Cold Fire, vastly improves with Big Freeze, Journey to Big Water, and Great Longneck Migration, becomes even less serious with Invasion of the Tinysauruses, improves a bit with Great Day of the Fliers, and completely loses any respect with Wisdom of Friends. The fans seemed to give backlash to the very last sequels more so then even the earlier ones due to it getting Lighter and Softer each sequel. In the end, you know sequelitis has set in when they stop mentioning the number it is. They even went as far as to retroactively remove the numbering from the older movies, too.
  • All of Don Bluth's classic films got hit with Sequelitis: in addition to the above-mentioned Land Before Time, there were also sequels for An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven (which also got a TV series), and The Secret of NIMH. An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West though Lighter and Softer than the original is actually considered a quality follow up due to a higher budget theatrical release, The Secret Of NIMH 2: Timmy To The Rescue however is considered terrible by the majority of fans of the original. In all of those cases, Bluth was not involved with any of the sequels; the only sequels he was ever actually involved with making were the video game Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp and the Anastasia direct-to-DVD sequel Bartok the Magnificent, which became a classic that we've all heard of. Incidentally Bluth was originally to have involvement in the other aforementioned sequels, but had to turn it down due to heavy development on his own projects at the time.
  • Like in Don Bluth's franchises mentioned above, Balto had a case of Sequelitis. The sequels caused so many plot holes that many fans asked for the release of one that fixes everything so that the franchise can rest in peace, but given Universal Pictures' irrational hatred of the movie, they opted for making more The Land Before Time sequels until their traditional animation studios were closed for good. And then they changed to computer-tradtional mix, resulting in a more vivid colour scheme, but considerably better quality animation.
  • The first Shrek movie is a much beloved hit. The second movie was a worthy follow-up, or even better than the original, YMMV (it certainly grossed almost twice as much). The third movie is...kinda polarizing. Consensus on the fourth is that it's... okay, but far better than the third. And so far, word on the Puss in Boots prequel is that it's actually pretty good.
  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat was not written or directed by Ralph Bakshi, the maker of Fritz the Cat, or Robert Crumb, who created the original comic. The only people involved with the first film who returned for the sequel are producer Steve Krantz and voice actor Skip Hinnant. Even Duke, one of the characters from the first film, is voiced by a different actor.
  • Averted with The Nightmare Before Christmas. There was plans for a sequel, but Tim Burton talked to Disney and convinced them to leave the film alone and not ruin the integrity of the movie for fans. Instead we get a video game which averts The Problem with Licensed Games. Especially relieving considering the plans for the sequel would have it made in CGI instead of stop-motion.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Most Slasher Movies tend to suffer this fate. At the time of writing (2012) there are eight A Nightmare on Elm Street movies and a remake, eight Halloween movies and a remake and a sequel to that remake, and ten Friday the 13 th movies and a remake. And that's just the names most horror fans would be familiar with. One particularly painful example: The original Sleepaway Camp was surprisingly deep for its genre, and possessed a genuinely unexpected (yet not nonsensical) Twist Ending that hasn't succumbed to It Was His Sled. The sequels, by comparison, are almost parodies of their predecessor. According to writer/director Robert Hiltzik, only the most recent sequel, Return To Sleepaway Camp, is canon (he had little to nothing to do with 2 and 3).
  • Scream is considered a great movie. The second one is pretty awesome too. Then comes the third one... and it gives plenty of reasons to be treated as The Scrappy be the critics and the fans. The fourth one is, thankfully, pretty good again.
  • S. Darko. Despite having one actress from Donnie Darko, Daveigh Chase, returning for this sequel, most Donnie Darko fans won't even acknowledge its existence.
  • The Police Academy series. The first movie was a critical and commercial success, and jumpstarted the careers of several actors who would go on to bigger projects (Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Bobcat Goldthwait), but as the sequels progressed, the humor became increasingly lowbrow and cast members started leaving throughout the franchise. By the time the seventh and final film, Mission To Moscow, was released in 1994, only a handful of original characters remained, and it failed to surpass the $200,000 mark.
  • Battle Royale 2 suffered heavily from this. Even the most enthusiastic fans of the sequel will admit that it isn't anywhere near the caliber of the original (whether it be novel, manga or movie).
  • Most Superhero film franchises follow the same formula: The first film introduces the characters and usually goes through the origin story. It meets with general approval. The second film, not being burdened by the need to rehash all that old stuff, is very good and is considered by many to be better than the original. The third film makes you wonder why they didn't stop at two. If a fourth film is even made, it makes the third film look like Citizen Kane. Then the series is dead for several years until another sequel is made with massive Retcon (sometimes to the point of Re Boot).
    • Batman and Superman have taken separate paths after their fifth installments, with Batman Begins a massive success and Superman Returns a Contested Sequel; while the Batman series later went on to produce the one of the most popular movies ever, the Superman series is now enacting what is essentially another reboot.
    • Superman Returns arguably suffers from some Sequelitis, as one of the frequently-raised criticisms was that the producers didn't seem to be able to make up their minds as to whether they were actually making a continuation of the earlier film sequence, or whether they were making a completely fresh start.
    • X-Men is a different case: two beloved movies, followed by a Contested Sequel. Since continuing after The Last Stand would be hard, they decided to make prequels instead. First was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which also divided everyone; then came X-Men: First Class, but it completely averted sequelitis and is now considered the best in the series since X2: X-Men United; a sequel/stand-alone story to Wolverine, simply titled The Wolverine, is in the works, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will avert this trope.
    • Iron Man 2 is often considered good, but not as spectacular as its predecessor. Reasons for this consensus usually include feeling far too much like an advertisement for the upcoming Avengers movie than an Iron Man story capable of standing on its own, and loosely adapting Tony Stark's "Demon in a Bottle" arc and playing it for laughs.
  • Scary Movie expressed the tagline, No mercy. No shame. No sequel, but as we all well know, did have one anyway (with the tagline "We lied"), which could qualify as borderline pornography. It got closer back to its roots of satirizing horror movies in the third, but then stepped back again and had that Tom Cruise couch jump parody in the fourth. Rumor has it that a fifth is on the way.
  • Tremors: An interesting case. The first movie was basically a semi-Black Comedy with Kevin Bacon. Not having to pay Bacon's salary meant the second could afford lots more Stuff Blowing Up. The third is notable for reassembling the entire (surviving) supporting cast of the first, with no characters Put on a Bus.
    • Each movie also has its own style. The first two are (relatively) serious monster movies with a healthy dose of comedy, the third puts more focus on comedy than seriousness, and the fourth is more serious than the first two with very little comedy.
  • The American Pie series may be descending into this, as they seem to be releasing one movie a year. Now up to six films total, the latest few (American Pie Presents) have been direct to DVD releases... with predictable results.
    • It's worth noting that the sole main cast member reprising a role from any of the first three movies is Eugene Levy, which is depressing in a "ordering fast food from your dad" kind of way.
  • The Crow was a powerful, emotionally-gripping comic book, that had an equally powerful film adaptation—with a kickass soundtrack, to boot. It had several sequels in both media, and none of them were anything close to the original, or even enjoyable. Thus, The Crow uniquely has severe Sequelitis in two media.
    • The second movie, City of Angels, in particular, suffered - tortuously - from the writers attempting to take the "framework" of the original story and try to swap out the plot details, replacing the original compelling story with a particularly unsubtle morass of "IKEA Pathos." That, and apparently no one on the film team even noticed the visual aesthetic of the original, since not even the barest effort was made to retain it. Add to this wooden acting, a notable dearth of memorable lines or dialogue, an obvious, over-the-top ass-pull ending, the utter absence of verisimilitude between the visual (and linguistic) environment depicted in the film and the real-life Los Angeles it was allegedly based on, and a particularly blatant bridge drop at the end, and you have a shameful attempt at remaking - even cloning - The Crow, with essentially none of the things that made the original great. You might say the series Came Back Wrong.
  • Jaws 2, 3, 4, ad nauseam. Ken Begg's series of reviews chronicles the slide in quality from Jaws to Jaws 2 to Jaws 3-D to the completely awful Jaws: The Revenge.
    • So much that it was mocked in Back to The Future 2: a Jaws 19 poster can be seen during the 2015 sequence.
    • When October 2015 came around, Universal poked fun at themselves and made a fake trailer for Jaws 19 in which they laid out the "premises" of the movies in between.
  • With a title like The Neverending Story, one would expect the movie to have at least a few sequels or follow-ups. The first movie is a very nice fantasy film; the second movie is not as good as the first one (with a dramatic drop in production values), but still watchable, at least compared to the third movie, which had to invent a plot out of whole cloth and ended up with a lot of cringe-worthy sitcom-style humor.
  • The first Weekend at Bernies is a amusing little comedy, with Terry Kiser stealing the show as the titular dead guy. Then they went and made a sequel. The female character one of the heroes spent the entire first movie obsessing over/wooing vanishes without even the most cursory attempt at Handwaving, and it was all downhill from there.
  • Opinions are divided over whether The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Jurassic Park 3 is worse, although the latter usually wins out in such arguments. Neither of them holds a candle to the original, despite several actors inexplicably agreeing to reprise their roles.
  • Airplane! II: The Sequel, which wasn't produced by James Abrahams and the Zucker brothers who did the brilliant Airplane!!. Most of its jokes and plot were re-hashed from the original movie, Leslie Nielsen didn't return, and it did so badly at the box office that the planned second sequel was canceled. The best parts were the courtroom scene and the self-parodying performance by William Shatner.
  • The Matrix was generally well-received and a major game-changer for action movies. The second and third movies are usually seen as overly long and pretentious, while the prequel The Animatrix ranges from decent to bad.
    • The Animatrix has range because it's anthology of nine short films based on The Matrix, with the CGI The Second Renaissance considered the best (reason to purchase the rest). The other eight, again, vary.
  • Movies based on video games aren't exempt from this rule, either, even though very few of them get sequels in the first place (and usually deservedly so). Just ask anyone who paid to watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation or Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life.
  • Ghostbusters 2 fell victim to this, as the plot reads like a Mad Lib rewrite of the first movie: An ancient (god/warlock) is resurrected in modern New York, possesses Dana Barret's nebbish (neighbor/boss), and needs (her/her baby) as part of its plot to destroy New York. She gradually falls for Peter's quirky charm, while the rest of the Ghostbusters try to convince the skeptical mayor and a sleazy (EPA agent/mayoral aide) that the world's in danger, until the big finale has the heroes facing off with the (god/warlock) in a gothic (skyscraper/library) now overrun by evil, while a giant walking mascot (terrorizes/saves) the city by stepping on things. It's all made even more implausible given how easily all the world-changing events of the first movie seem to have been swept under the rug, and the end result was so lackluster, both critically and financially, that the director and other three stars were completely turned off from Dan Aykroyd's plans for a third movie.
    • Atari released a Ghostbusters video game that reunited the cast and acts as the third story. So far it's been well received. It expands on things from the first movie, provides closure on the Librarian ghost and explains where the mood slime from GB2 came from. The experience was so good that an actual Ghostbusters 3 is in the works.
  • The Rocky series had one of the longest cases of Sequelitis ever. The series started out gritty and realistic, but gradually became more over-the-top to the point where the first movie won an Oscar for best picture and the fifth, after a drawn-out decline, is generally regarded as terrible. After a 16-year Sequel Gap, a sixth entry was made, and successfully took the series back to its roots, as well as providing closure to Rocky's career.
  • The Austin Powers series, once it became insanely popular (i.e. by the first sequel), started becoming a caricature of the first movie, with its taking Refuge in Vulgarity and especially their tendency to take gags that were most memorable from the previous movie and exaggerating them in the next. The first was intended to be an Affectionate Parody of the movies Mike Myers used to watch with his father. After the first became a cultural phenomenon on home video, more writers were brought in to create something Denser and Wackier. By the time the third movie came around, the series was repeatedly breaking the Fourth Wall and just generally making a mockery of itself. Still, some fans regret that the token Character Development Austin went through in the first movie had to be systematically scrapped for the sequels to work.
  • Lampshaded twice in Die Hard 2: Die Harder: "Another basement, another elevator--how can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
    • Of course, by this point, the Die Hard franchise has succumbed anyway. Each film is slightly less believable than the one which preceded it. This has resulted in John McClane being Made of Iron by Die Hard 4, and nobody ever bleeding, despite the original's highly praised realism. (though the decision to lower to PG-13 is to blame for the Bloodless Carnage) And of course the plot is as convoluted as in the campier Bond films, as well as the marriage he was trying to save in the first film getting only a cursory mention (as being long over).
  • Friday was a great comedy with good performances from Ice Cube as Craig and Chris Tucker as Smokey, the latter of whom is widely thought to be the funniest part of the film. A sequel, Next Friday, was released in 2000 and is generally considered inferior - mainly due to the lack of Smokey (Tucker had chosen to do Rush Hour instead and had become a born-again Christian after making Money Talks), who was replaced by Mike Epps as Day-Day - but the movie still has its defenders. 2002's Friday After Next, however, has been almost universally panned.
  • The first Return of the Living Dead is an almost perfect mix of black comedy and horror and is also a Deconstruction and/or Affectionate Parody of the Romero's "Dead" series. It's a Cult Classic.
    • The second uses a lot more comedy than the first making which makes it less scary.
    • The third disregards continuity from the first two and makes it Darker and Edgier. More scary but without the charm.
    • The 4th and 5th aren't well regarded at all.
  • The Godzilla films often fall under this considering there are 27 sequels to the original Japanese film and one remake. The first film is regarded as a classic and a few sequels are beloved by the fans. However, many films (Especially the ones made in the 1960s-1970s) are considered to be So Bad It's Good.
  • Two trivia questions. 1. How many sequels to Jim Carrey movies has Jim Carrey appeared in? (Answer: 1 - Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.) 2. How many sequels to Jim Carrey movies has he not appeared in? (Answer: 4 - Son of the Mask, Dumb And Dumberer, Evan Almighty and Ace Ventura Jr..)
  • Shock Treatment was originally planned as a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but was re-written as Something Completely Different after Tim Curry refused to be typecast as Frank. The second movie features Brad and Janet, but the events of Rocky Horror are never mentioned. Taken on its own, it has its merits, but proved a massive disappointment for people expecting an actual sequel.
  • Both averted and straight in The Karate Kid. Part II was different enough from the first movie to avoid falling into this trope, but Part III fell here hard. And don't get us started on The Next Karate Kid.
    • Which also now has a remake, with everything changed so much that the only remaining pieces from the original are: 1) the basic plot layout, and 2) the name. The name, mind you, that is no longer valid, as being set in China, there is little karate (being a predominately Japanese practice); it's now kungfu, taught by Jackie Chan, but still called The Karate Kid.
  • In the Star Wars series, this started with Return of the Jedi, which wasn't considered quite as good as the two movies before it, but still good. Then came prequelitis, with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones widely considered the two weakest films in the series. Revenge of the Sith (the final film in the series), however, was generally thought to bean improvement, but that's not saying much.
  • Nicely averted by the Evil Dead movies, which stayed great. There's an arguable case that they even got better as they went.
    • Despite confusion over the bizarre half-remake half-sequel nature of Evil Dead II is generally considered better than the first.
    • For the sequels fans are generally divided on whether Evil Dead II, which stuck closely to the horror premise of the first but has more fun with it and plays it up to both hilarious and frightening extremes (sometimes at the same time) or Army of Darkness which turns into a truly campy and over the top action/horror movie with loads of awesome is the better film.
      • The story (well, at least one of the endings to Army of Darkness) is continued in a video game.
      • And that's not taking into account the extremely campy musical, that reconciles I and II into one plot, while throwing in loads of references to and lines from Army of Darkness, making it a truly bizarre experience.
  • The Fly 2. No Goldblum. No Davis. No Cronenberg. No point.
    • To be fair, The Fly was a remake of an older movie called The Fly, which had a sequel about the son of the titular Fly, so they apparently decided to remake the movie and its sequel. Though, in the original sequel the son was normal till he rebuilt the teleporter and went in with a fly again (sometime before the man who ended up part hamster) rather than being born quite strange. Nevertheless, the remake had a rather similar revenge story to it.
  • The Scanners franchise. The original film was a landmark in sci-fi horror, and had David Cronenberg and Michael Ironside doing some of their best work...but then came a pair of Direct to Video sequels that stopped going for shock value and settled on B-movie cheese focusing on various scanners' unsuccessful attempts to start a revolution, backed by shoddy effects and weak performances by the main cast. This later produced a spinoff series, Scanner Cop, which also went DTV and just had more of the same.
  • Just ask Highlander fans about the sequels, and you'll be told, "There should have been only one!"
  • The Pink Panther movies escalated the slapstick comedy, wacky disguises, and whatnot quite a bit in the 1970s entries, even bringing in science fiction elements in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. There were also new female leads in each entry, whether they became Inspector Clouseau's love interest or not. The series also hit Franchise Zombie status with Revenge of..., which United Artists commissioned for summer 1978. Still, they were all hits—the franchise jumped the rails in The Eighties when director-writer-producer Blake Edwards attempted to continue the series in spite of the death of Peter Sellers, who played Clouseau. It turned out that without Sellers, people weren't interested in more of the same hijinks.
  • RoboCop (and its sequel, Robocop 2) were violent, edgy and full of satire on mid-80's corporate culture. While the second film was derided for focusing too much on shock value and having less of the satirical humor, the franchise was still doing pretty well for itself (an animated series was created during this time, and the films performed very well at the box office). Unfortunately, studio executives (likely smelling several marketing opportunities) toned down the violence in the third film, Robocop 3, to appeal to younger viewers. While there were some elements that remained from the previous films (Basil Poledouris' score, a return to the silver armor from the first film, most of the surviving cast members returning and some of the satire), the end result was too juvenile for most audiences, and the film bombed both financially and critically. Although there were attempts to resurrect the franchise over the years (a mid-90's Canadian-made TV series bombed after one season, a late-90's cartoon was...critically panned and a miniseries (also filmed in Canada) was made-for-TV), it never really flew with audiences. Various attempts to get a franchise reboot have been unsuccessful - part of this stems from the fact that the main character is indelibly linked with 80's culture.
  • Interview with the Vampire vs. Queen of the Damned. Case closed.
    • A somewhat interesting case, actually. The two movies were made over ten years apart, with completely different studios, directors, and actors. The themes and tones of the movies were vastly different, and no references were made to characters or plots from the first film, but it was explicitly set afterwards. Both movies being relatively self-contained, Qot D was less of a sequel and more like the closest thing to a Continuity Reboot without actually doing so.
  • Grease is a hugely popular 50s nostalgia musical funfest. Grease 2 has only a few characters returning from the original (Frenchie, Eugene, the principal and her assistant, and the coach. All brief roles.) and introduces Sandy's cousin Michael in some weak attempt to connect the two movies. The plot is basically a Gender Flip of the first movie's plot and the results are... well, let's just say most Grease fans like to pretend it doesn't exist.
    • Incidentally, Grease 2 unwittingly stopped the franchise from experiencing what would likely be more sequelitis. There were plans for two more movies and a TV series, but they were scrapped after Grease 2 was a flop.
  • Saw fans debate whether the series has suffered from Sequelitis, and if so, at what point. This argument is closely tied to the one over Jigsaw's successors.

Some fans believe that the series should've stopped at the third movie, which acted as a solid conclusion to what had been until then a trilogy. Others feel that the fourth movie was still good, but that the fifth was the series' jump-the-shark moment. Oddly enough, even they usually agree that the sixth film was a surprising improvement over the fifth. Opinion on the seventh (and final) film is too wildly varied to pin down any fan consensus. A few believe that there shouldn't have been any sequels, or that only the second film counts as a proper continuation.

  • The Ju-On/The Grudge film series, which began life as a Takashi Shimizu's V-Cinema TV special but is now up to a second special (which recycled most of the first,) two theatrical Japanese films, two Japanese shorts, an American remake, and two American sequels. Special honors to the first American film because it reenacted, almost scene-for-scene in some cases, the exact same plot as the first Japanese theatrical movie, though somehow keeps the main star/character (Sarah Michelle Geller) alive through the end.
  • Similarly, the The Ring franchise has suffered from this. While each of the three "original" films has been well-received (Japanese, American, and Korean, respectively,) their sequels have met with various degrees of scorn and failure to the point that the very first sequel, a film adaptation of the novel's follow-up Spiral, is so bad it's considered Canon Discontinuity by the Japanese producers, who went on to make The Ring 2 instead.
  • The original Species was a decent (if not spectacular) sci-fi horror film that had Natasha Henstridge running around (mostly naked, to boot) while a team of scientists tried to stop her. A sequel was inexplicably made five years later that combined a nonsensical plot (the scientists clone the original alien, then act shocked when she escapes to mate with another member of her species), cheesy effects and a cast that appeared to be going through the motions, and the following TV movie, Species III, was made by filmmakers who thought the entire franchise was composed of gratuitous violence and sex. The fourth film, The Awakening, seems to be an odd inversion, however - most viewers seem to regard it as a decent B-movie.
  • Terminator: The first was iconic. The second, one of the single greatest sequels of all time. The third was a Base Breaker, and resulted in an entire TV series being made on the principle that T3 never happened. The fourth, while visually impressive, lacked substance and ended up being an underperformer at the box office, which then led to the death of its production company and the rights being sold off. Although Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on for a fifth film (which is delayed while he sorts out his marital issues), the future of the franchise is anyone's guess.
  • A few James Bond films suffered from this, specially You Only Live Twice (the formula is starting to age), Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker (all three for being overtly stupid), A View to a Kill (Bond is too old, girl is annoying, plot is a rehash), and Die Another Day (silliness, dodgy special effects).
  • Star Trek has the "odd-number curse" - the first (which can be considered a sequel to the series), third (This one in actually alright, but still not as good as 2), fifth, seventh and ninth films are considered letdowns. It was broken when the tenth was a disappointment, leading to a wildly successful reboot (though some try to make the curse still work by considering the Affectionate Parody Galaxy Quest the tenth movie)
    • See Television below.
  • Be Cool. The sequel to Get Shorty was loosely based on the novel that was the sequel to the novel Get Shorty, but was so crammed full of actor allusions, cameos and industry in-jokes (for both film and music) that it had none of the spark of the first movie.
  • The sequel to Miss Congeniality arguably suffers from sequelitis, as many a fan (girl) was probably very disappointed that the second film did not see the return of Benjamin Bratt as Eric Matthews.
  • Averted in the Mad Max series. Mad Max was a very well-received, if slightly Aussie-indie revenge tale. The first sequel, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior not only defined the post-apocalyptic genre but is universally hailed as one of the best movies from the 80s. It's even one of just a handful of movies that, as of this writing, holds a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The second sequel, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was nowhere near as good (and had Tina Turner's infamous hair), but still a solid movie. A third (and fourth!) sequel, Fury Road and Furasia have been greenlit after years of Development Hell, with Tom Hardy playing the lead character.
  • Carrie is considered one of the landmark horror films of The Seventies, and its success helped to establish Stephen King, the writer of the book it was based on, as one of the biggest names in horror literature. Twenty-three years later comes The Rage: Carrie 2, a film that, while most definitely enjoyable in a certain way, fails to hold a candle to the original, and was a box office disappointment. Part of this may stem from the fact that The Rage was originally written as a separate film called The Curse, and was turned into a Carrie sequel presumably after somebody saw the obvious similarities between the two films.
  • Both the original King Kong and the 1976 remake were followed by forgettable sequels (The Son of Kong and King Kong Lives, respectively).
  • The original Children of the Corn film has suffered from a attack of Sequelitis, spawning six sequels - The Final Sacrifice, Urban Harvest, The Gathering, Fields of Terror, 666: Isaac's Return and Revelation. Oh, cliched titles, how we love you so.
    • Both The Amityville Horror and The Howling, which also started out as literary works, also had an unusually high number of sequels, most of them direct-to-video. With Amityville, it also extended to the book series, which eventually became pure fiction, and got progressively weirder and surreal.
  • The first two Hellraiser films are usually seen as pretty good, while the third is often looked down upon for being more "mainstream" and slashery. The fourth tried returning to the series roots, but suffered severely from Executive Meddling, resulting in an extreme case of What Could Have Been. Mileage tends to vary on the direct-to-video films (which often seem to suffer from Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch) though Hellworld seems to be the only near-universally disliked one (consensus saying it could've been a decent standalone film, but as a Hellraiser film, it falls flat).
  • The first Lethal Weapon is generally considered the best, despite making far less at the box office than its sequels. Lethal Weapon 2 lacked some of the tension, but traded it in for a lot of gags making it funnier. The third one seemed to get a little more tired and the fourth one gives us fake-looking sharks, Anvilicious (and hypocritical) political sentiments and a sympathy-pouch-wearing Renne Russo who's supposed to be 9-months pregnant yet able to fight martial-arts trained mooks.
  • Oh, God! is generally remembered as a quirky little Carl Reiner comedy, while the next two movies are ignored almost to the point of being Fanon Discontinuity. The changes in creators definitely didn't help.
  • Caddyshack II. Chevy Chase was the only star returning for the sequel, which lost all of what made the first movie funny.
  • The first Speed movie was a huge commercial and critical success. The sequel was almost universally panned while barely avoided being a box-office flop.
  • Shortly after Diane Thomas agreed to write a sequel to her first screenplay Romancing the Stone, she was killed in a car crash. The studio went ahead with the sequel and created The Jewel of the Nile, a film so bad that one college screenwriting professor made an exam out of pointing out all the flaws in it.
  • Let's not forget Final Destination, the first of which was as "final" as Final Fantasy.
  • First played straight, then turned on its head, by the Transformers movies. Critical consensus has the first being nothing special and the second downright bad, while the third has no real consensus.
    • Let me explain, the first movie was a solid sci-fi action-thriller that gave a semi-realistic tone to the franchise along with recognizing that most fans are in their teens/college years leading to some well sprinkled moments of humor (such as the famous "Sam's happy fun time" scene). But the second movie lost that touch and became an over the top action movie with tons of unneeded adult humor (Such as the pot smoking mom, the racist robots and mechanical testicles) not to mention the generic plot. Finally the third movie tried to please everyone and lowered the screen time for the robots (even though they are the title characters), made the first half almost a sort of parody (which led to the return of Sam's parent's who by now are nothing more than The Artifact) and the second half a sci-fi war movie that dropped Bridges on many characters.
  • Both the Dirty Harry series and the Death Wish series suffer heavily from this, getting sillier and sillier with each installment.
  • The second |Dungeons and Dragons movie is often said to have inverted this trope in spite of being released as a Syfy Channel Original, which is normally a step worse than Direct to Video.
    • It helps that the first was so campy and fargone from what D&D was (or was expected to be be) that the few fans left felt it had nowhere left to go but up.
  • The original Men in Black was well received by both critics and audiences, but the sequel (while still being a hit at the box office) was generally considered to be a dud. After a decade in Development Hell, Men In Black 3 was released, and managed to not only be another big hit at the box office, but got very good reviews from the critics as well.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Piers Anthony's series of Xanth novels has reached over 30 novels. It Jumped the Shark a long time ago, and currently consists almost entirely of puns and plot developments suggested by readers.
  • Most sequels to works in the public domain are awful, or at least so inferior to the originals that fans will invariably be disappointed. One reason for this is that only the very best books survive the test of time: perhaps a sequel to Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South would be comparable to the original, but any sequel to Pride and Prejudice would pale in comparison. Another is that anyone, no matter how dreadful a writer they may be, can publish a sequel to a public domain work. That's not possible for a work under copyright, where the copyright holder can prevent the publication of any unauthorized sequel.
    • Susan Kay's Phantom is generally considered to be pretty good by the phandom, and is even accepted as (admittedly dubious) canon by some. The sequel to the Phantom of the Opera musical may not be so lucky (see Theater below).
      • Even Kay suffers from her share of criticism. While it's generally agreed that the first two-thirds of her book (actually a prologue to the original story describing Erik's backstory) are well done, a lot of fans strongly dislike the way she portrays the Erik/Christine relationship and its aftermath in the final third.
    • Not always, as Stephen Baxter's The Time Ships, a sequel to The Time Machine is considered quite good.
      • Largely because it averts the 'anyone can do it' part; Baxter is a fairly major SF writer, and was authorised by the Wells estate.
  • River God, by Wilbur Smith, was quite interesting and different to mainstream fiction. The sequel Warlock went from the engaging and amusing first-person narrative style to third-person, which allowed for us to see scenes from several characters' perspectives, but mostly allowed for gratuitous shoehorning- in of sex scenes to pad out the already inflated-but-largely-empty plot. The most recent installment, The Quest, has almost completely dispensed with any ties to the Ancient Egypt pantheon, instead substituting some vaguely New-Agey mumbo-jumbo universally-recognised quasi-religious belief system.
  • James P. Hogan's Giants series. It's not as if the sequels are bad - it's just that they tend to detract from the previous books. The first book, Inherit the Stars is the story of a bunch of scientists trying to wrap their brains around a massive enigma. The second one, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede brings in aliens, but is fairly similar. The third one, Giants' Star alters the style by bringing in conflict.
    • The third also adds the idea that the reason people are evil is because evil time-travellers have made them that way. The fourth expands this to the evil time-travellers were actually taken over by aliens who lived inside a computer.
    • And the books retconthings established in the previous ones to an annoying degree.
  • The sequel novels to The Bourne Series, which contain, in the first addition, Dropped A Bridge On two of the most important characters in the first twenty pages, a character who is canonically supposed to be dead suffering from Parental Abandonment, Comic Book Time, and much, much, much, much Canon Defilement. The second addition is no less Egregious, including Dropping A Bridge On Marie In Between Books, having Bourne abandon all common sense, ridiculously atrocious pseudoscience, almost downright offensive portrayals of Washington, DC, and Bourne suddenly becoming an expert on everything, including knowing every language from Arabic to an obscure Ethiopian dialect, when in canon he's just supposed to be a professor of Oriental Studies. Seriously. Also, he carries around a Playstation 3 for no other reason than it looks cool.
    • The Bourne Deception is plain humiliation. Bourne visits a Balinese shaman, sleeps with a woman who was formerly his friend's girlfriend, and mentions virtually nothing about his children. In The Bourne Ultimatum he is fifty, and that is when Soviet Union still existed; the book mentions the timeline had passed 2005 since Indonesian Bali Bombing. The new author pretty much transforms this tortured amnesiac soul into ageless James Bond-wannabe.
  • Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series started as a quite cool detective series, but degraded from book five onward.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin completed the original Earthsea Trilogy in 1974. Sixteen years later, she wrote a fourth book Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, which suffers from Mood Whiplash, Writer on Board and a lack of plot. And it wasn't even the last book.
  • 55 years after publication of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett, an "authorized" sequel appeared. Critics were not impressed.
    • Another sequel, Rhett Butler's People also appeared. The critics panned that one too.
  • Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series started putting more and more focus on magical history, Objectivist philosophy and the main character's role as a leader after the second book. Your Mileage May Vary on the results, but the common opinion on this site is that it Jumped the Shark, with each book getting worse and worse. Goodkind gave the last three books a rather good attempt to emulate the first two's plot and style, at least.
  • Robert Aspirin's Phule's Company series; the first two books are decent, the rest can go rot. But this is partly the fault of Real Life Writes the Plot issues.
    • His Myth Adventures series, while maintaining a high standard for quite a while, has also begun to sag for pretty much the same reason.
    • Arguably, this developed for the Myth series in part due to Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • The Rocheworld series by Robert Forward likewise has a great first book, a moderately good second, and utter crap dragging along behind.
  • The Ringworld series by Larry Niven has succumbed to this as Niven has caught Retcon Fever and begun tearing down the conventions of his own universe.
    • Ringworld's Children retcons ... practically everything established about the Known Space universe. (OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but still.)
  • Most(?) people have the latter half of Stephen King's Dark Tower series falling into this trope. It became especially evident when he had elements of DT leak into his non-DT novels (especially Hearts in Atlantis and Insomnia). Even if you do like the later installments for their writing or whatever, it definitely shows by the end that King didn't actually know where he was going with the story to begin with and had to just come up with something without the benefit of having planned in advance.
  • Orson Scott Card with his Ender and Shadow saga (the first of each series being parallel, and the rest a split following different characters). While the sequel to Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, is widely considered to be just as good if not even better than the first, the final two in that saga are overly pretentious and bloated philosophical works that could have easily been cut into one shorter volume. They also leave on a horrible cliffhanger that rivals that of Chapterhouse: Dune which Card has had 13 years to end, but instead written a midquel between the first and second books as well as a short story collection. The Shadow series fairs even worse, with the first book being equal to or better than the parallel Ender's Game (Your Mileage May Vary) but taking a steep decline starting with the second. While not as bloated in narrative as the Ender saga's latter books, the Shadow series instead destroys most of the mystery behind Peter's unification of earth by making him into nothing but an annoying schoolchild, and literally doing absolutely nothing. A fourth sequel is planned, thus putting the entire series at 11 books.
    • The irony of it all? Some copies of Speaker for the Dead are prefaced with an introduction that talks about how reluctant the author was to revisit Ender just for a second book.
  • Don't talk to many fans of Roger Zelazny's Amber series about the sequel series focusing on Merlin. Just don't.
    • And don't even dare mention the John Betancourt knockoffs, officially sanctioned or not.
  • Redwall, partially because the plot that worked for the first five or six books gets a bit stale when it's pulled out for the twentieth time. It does not help that the Wacky Wayside Tribes started to replace "plot relevance" with "annoying habits" around the time of "The Pearls of Lutra".
  • The sequels to Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama (which are actually written primarily by Gentry Lee) suffer from this.
  • Gregory Benford once wrote a sequel to Arthur C. Clarke's amazing Against the Fall of Night, called Beyond the Fall of Night. It's awful, primarily because Against sets up a massive battle between good and evil with a disembodied intelligence called Vanamonde battling the evil Mad Mind. Benford completely ignores that and makes Beyond be about a very strange track of evolution and Vanamonde barely appears right at the end, and is almost completely superfluous, having the Mad Mind being defeated by a specific branch of humanity. Against the Fall of Night is loved by science fiction fans, but Beyond the Fall of Night tends to be hated.
  • The Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel The Quantum Archangel could be considered a Type IV and VI. A sequel to "The Time Monster", which the author claimed was intentionally "the ultimate in Fan Wank", it's basically "The Time Monster" ONLY BIGGER! So the TOMTIT machine that affects space-time is replaced by a more advanced version called the TITAN Array that affects Calabi-Yau space (the "extra" dimensions in superstring theory). TOMTIT was secretly created by the Master to trap a Chronovore; TITAN is comandeered by the Master to wipe the Chronovores out and give himself their powers. The Third Doctor disrupts TOMTIT with an arangement of forks and winebottles; the Sixth Doctor builds a much bigger version to disrupt TITAN. The Third Doctor and the Delgado Master go on a jaunt to Ancient Atlantis; the Sixth Doctor and the Ainley Master visit a forgotten planet from the beginning of the universe. Stuart Hyde gets temporarily youthed instead of aged, the Doctor attempts to Time Ram the Master's TARDIS, and Kronos again Deus Ex Machinas everything at the end. Even the throwaway gag that "E = MC cubed" in the Vortex gets reused and amped up; in Calabi-Yau Space, apparently, E = MC to the fourth power. Your Mileage May Vary: it's so blatant about it that some feel it goes beyond conventional sequelitis and becomes good, or at least successfully does what it wants to do.
  • Robert E. Howard's most famous creation Conan The Cimmerian suffers horribly from this. Not only are there endless continuations, prequels and other adventurers of vastly varying quality by many different authors but the original stories were rewritten in places to make them sync up with the sequels. However even the original stories occasionally suffer from sequelitis. Because of the characters popularity Howard knew he could sell just about any Conan story to Weird Tales and wrote some very cliched tales (such as The Devil in Iron) which were effectively knock-offs of his own earlier efforts when he needed quick cash.
  • A subversion comes with JRR Tolkien's abandoned sequel to the Lord of the Rings. Called The New Shadow he got as far as coming up with some characters and setting it in the fourth age of Middle-earth where a dark cult rose up in the lands of Gondor. However he abandoned it after only a few pages as he felt it would not be as epic or up to the standards of his other work, then suffered Author Existence Failure. Meaning it's highly unlikely this will be finished, however there is a fan made mod known as Fourth Age Total War which makes this concept and expands on it.
  • Warrior Cats. The 1st arc of novels is treasured by fans. The second arc is usually seen as good, but not as good as the original. The third arc...is very polarizing. Since the series is so financially successful, and has a vast and dedicated fanbase, the books just keep on coming. Most complaints about the later series cite the reused plot devices, the ridiculous amount of mostly flat and undeveloped supporting characters, and the smaller focus on nature and survival in favor of more anthropomorphized themes like love and family issues. It's often compared to a soap opera. And this doesn't even touch on the vast amount of mangas, field guides and other companion books, which generally entertain diehard fans but hold little literary merit. It's hard to say when the franchise will actually end, because the fans are always eager for new books and the authors, who keep in touch with their fanbase regularly via author chat, don't want to disappoint them.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, and how! The first book was stunning and awesome, and the second and third that followed were, while having their problems, quite good. Unfortunately, she kept writing, and things went to hell in a handbasket. She contradicted established canon from one book to the next, couldn't keep names, ages, and places straight, and the plots devolved into pathetic monstrosities.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Even more than the film examples, Star Trek suffered this in its series. The Original Series was considered an uneven novelty, a series that was either teeth grating crap, or, the very pinnacle of science-fiction, depending on the given episode. The Next Generation has been formally recognized as being among the top 100 shows ever made and a crowning achievement of television. Paramount came down with Sequelitis, commissioning three follow-up series (one of them was a prequelitis). The critical reception deteriorated with each successive series, along with the ratings (though a few preferred Deep Space Nine in later years). The last one only made it to four seasons, the fourth season was only made so that the series could be syndicated, and not end up a total failure.
  • Dead Ringers had a sketch in which different versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger came back from the future to warn him not to sign up for any more lousy Terminator sequels, eventually reaching Terminator 23 before Sarah Connor shot the present Arnie to save the future. To her dismay, another Arnie came back and revealed she is now his co-star in Kindergarten Cop 14! Nnnnnoooooooo!


Music[edit | hide]

  • Critics wanted E.S. Posthumus's work in Makara to be more powerful and action-filled songs; this causes the songs to have less variation as well as losing the flow and developed tunes in Unearthed and Cartographer.
  • No genre features more numbered albums than hip-hop. It usually works like this:
    • 1. Rapper releases album that's deemed a classic or has massive success.
    • 2. Rapper's followup albums don't perform as well.
    • 3. Rapper returns to "the series" to get "the magic" (and brand recognition) back.
  • The above rarely ever leads to any sort of comeback, so it's easier just to list aversions:
    • Lil Wayne's Tha Carter II is universally considered to be an improvement over Tha Carter; some fans still consider II to be his best album, in fact. While Tha Carter III massively outsold II, debate still rages on the better album. However, a consensus has emerged on Tha Carter IV - namely, that it's a steaming hunk of shit compared to the previous two Carters. As two albums came between III and IV (including the rock album), IV ended up playing the rule straight.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The musical Of Thee I Sing, a cheerful satire on the American political system, opened on Broadway late in 1931 to immense popular and critical acclaim, which not only made it one of the longest-running shows of the decade but won a Pulitzer Prize for its writers; it was the first ever musical play to win the award. Almost two years later, a sequel, Let 'Em Eat Cake, appeared from the same authors, with the same principal actors and even the same producer. It was not a commercial success; many of its jokes were recycled from the earlier show, and a bewildering series of plot complications (involving, among other things, a baseball-playing League of Nations) stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far.
  • Bring Back Birdie was a sequel to Bye Bye Birdie, produced and set twenty years later. It was written by the same authors as the original show, and featured the same characters, with Chita Rivera once again starring as Rose Alvarez. Most people who saw the show during the less than a week it ran on Broadway agreed that it was horrible. Somewhat infamous for a moment where the actor playing Birdie lost the beat to one of the songs then marched off stage, saying, "You sing it! I never liked this song anyway!"
  • The musical Annie similarly had a sequel written by the same authors (including composer Charles Strouse, who had also done Bye Bye Birdie and Bring Back Birdie, though lyricist Martin Charnin seems to have been the ringleader in this scheme), with several of the older members of the original cast reprising their roles. In the implausible plot of Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge, Daddy Warbucks was ordered to find a mother for Annie, which provided the opportunity for Miss Hannigan's scheme (conceived with a good deal of Motive Decay) to first become Warbucks's wife and then a widow without any dependents. When the eagerly awaited show had its pre-Broadway opening in Washington, D.C. in January 1990, audiences were stunned at how unfunny the show was. Massive rewrites ensued, and continued in earnest even after the show's Broadway booking was canceled and several star actors dropped out, including Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan. Miss Hannigan was ultimately written out in favor of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute (though the plot remained mostly the same), and the authors' desperate efforts to get their show into New York finally resulted in its opening off-Broadway in 1993, as Annie Warbucks. Critics recognized the show as an unnecessary sequel, and it failed to catch on with audiences.
  • The musical The Boy Friend also suffers from this despite being not as well known as some others out there. Its sequel is so ridiculous that it has to be seen (or read) to believe. The name? Divorce Me, Darling!
  • Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, is being slammed by many fans of the original.
    • The Australian run of Love Never Dies was extensively reworked by Andrew Loyd Webber, with the greatest improvements being made to the characterization (of nearly all the characters) and the plot. Needless to say, the current run is leagues better then when it first started showing. If it lives up to the original however is still very much YMMV.
  • Though the one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti has never ranked among Leonard Bernstein's best-known works, its reputation is considerably better than A Quiet Place, the three-act sequel Bernstein decided to write three decades later. The libretto reads like a bad soap opera, and the music is generally dull except for the parts of the second act which incorporate Trouble in Tahiti in its entirety as a flashback.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • Many rides in Disney Theme Parks fall prey to this. Perhaps the most puissant example of this trope in a Disney ride is the "Imagination" rides featured at the EPCOT theme park in Disney World. The original ride, Journey Into Imagination, was a much beloved and very creative ride centering around the world of a child's imagination and starred the Dreamfinder, a red-bearded eccentric who collected dreams and creative thoughts, and his pet purple dragon Figment. Executive Meddling involving a potential change in sponsors caused the ride to close in 1998 for a complete overhaul. It was reopened in 1999 as "Journey Into Your Imagination", a completely redone ride featuring none of the charm possessed by the original and with both Figment and the Dreamfinder MIA. The new ride set a record for the most complaints received over a new attraction at a Disney Park. The revamp was received so badly, it was closed a mere 2 years later in 2001. In 2002 the ride received its most recent update, "Journey Into Imagination With Figment". Though it is a notable improvement over the second version of the ride, most long time Disney parkgoers tend to agree that the ride's first incarnation was by far its best.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Opinion differs on whether Master of Orion or Master of Orion II is the better game, but almost no-one thinks Master of Orion III is anything but unmitigated crap.
  • X-COM: UFO Defense (or UFO: Enemy Unknown, depending on where you live) was a surprise hit, with its great atmosphere, fine management section, and superb tactical section. Microprose decided to ride the wave and, after less than a year, released X-COM: Terror From The Deep: under a shiny package of new graphics and sound, the game was exactly the same, only taking place underwater, with difficulty re-balanced for the worse, and bugs that could block the tech tree, making the game unwinnable. X-COM: Apocalypse was from the original developers but, sadly, it completely lacked atmosphere and, while trying to be more complex, it became cumbersome. X-COM: Interceptor (a mediocre Wing Commander clone) and X-COM: Enforcer (a shallow Third-Person Shooter) followed and were quickly and deservedly forgotten, while more interesting projects were cancelled thanks to the mismanagements of Microprose and Hasbro Interactive.
  • Nearly any Lemmings game after Lemmings 2: The Tribes.
  • Tomb Raider 2 was generally considered almost equal or an Even Better Sequel on release, 3 and 4 both involve heavy amounts of Your Mileage May Vary as to where you place them. By 5 the series had firmly fell into this trope and Angel of Darkness was the last straw before the series began recovering by being moved to another developer.
  • Earthworm Jim was a weird and well-received game. The second game was even better in nearly every aspect. Then the series met the Polygon Ceiling courtesy of a different developer, and anything resembling quality went out the window. Then Shiny Entertainment themselves threw their own quality off their windows some time after dumping Jim.
  • Mega Man has been all over the place with this. At some point a given series starts sucking hard and a spinoff is made. It starts off great, then slowly slides into crap until a spinoff is made and the cycle begins anew. From the sound of it, this could be blamed on Executive Meddling; Kenji Inafune, the creator of Mega Man, wanted to end the classic series at 6 and the X series on 5, but Capcom wanted to make more money.
    • 7 was released after the series' first Sequel Series, and it and its following installments are considered massive improvements. Some fans still consider 2 and 3 to be the pinnacle of the series, however. Also, Your Mileage May Vary when it comes to Mega Man & Bass.
    • Mega Man X 8 was also surprisingly good despite the enormous amounts of Fake Difficulty. Apparently Capcom sequels go in cycles. 9 supports this theory.
    • Mega Man Battle Network actually really improved for the last installment, although the two proceeding ones were pretty mediocre.
    • Mega Man Star Force had the same situation. The first was alright, the second was bad, but the third is largely agreed to have been fantastic.
  • The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series has succumbed to this, somewhere around the Underground era.
  • Devil May Cry moves back and forth with this. Devil May Cry 2 is generally considered to be far inferior to the original, what with its lousy story, bland combat, and greatly lowered difficulty level. Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, thank god, is usually seen as much better (sometimes even better than the original). Devil May Cry 4 is also seen by some as inferior, though mileage varies more often on that one. As for the forthcoming DMC: Devil May Cry, its quality remains to be seen, although the fanbase already hates it for changing Dante's character design.
  • Perfect Dark is considered one of the best Nintendo 64 games. Prequelitis ensued with Perfect Dark Zero, you can essentially call it a In Name Only prequel. The continuity of of the first game is only glanced upon, Joanna is a spunky oddly clad girl with red hair and a penchant for one liners. The Carrington Institute makes an appearance.....with Carrington himself having become 200% more Scottish complete with a kilt. The aliens are non-existent only hinted, the main antagonist being a company connected to dataDyne being run by a small stereotypical Chinese man. The gameplay? The game was developed by a different team (because the original developers left Rare) that speaks for itself.
  • Star Control was a fun turn-based strategy game. Star Control 2 was an epic action-adventure. Star Control 3, made by none of the people involved with the first two, is a game most fans try to forget about.
  • Some fans of the Need for Speed series argue the series got really bad after the third or so installment, especially when it started drifting into GTA territory.
  • There's a lot of flame wars out there about whether this applies to Final Fantasy. Seeing as the Final Fantasy title is pretty much just a way of adverting that it's a JRPG that Square Enix put a lot of money into, this is somewhat nonsensical.
  • Arika's Tetris the Grand Master series got better with each new release for its first three installments. Then came the very un-TGM-like title Tetris: The Grand Master ACE, the tragic byproduct of The Tetris Company's and Microsoft's Executive Meddling. Most of the trademark TGM gameplay mechanics have been stripped (including Master mode, and by extension the unique TGM-style leveling up and grade system), you get a variation of infinite spin (limit of 128 rotations and 128 movements) as opposed to TGM's "step reset" lock delay, and you need an Xbox Live Gold membership to unlock proper TGM rotation. Good Tetris, but bad TGM.
  • The Army Men franchise was initially insanely popular. Then somewhere the lack-luster spin-offs and In Name Only sequels slowly choked off sales until the company finally went bankrupt in 2003. Even with the parent company dead, other companies are still trying to make cash off of the brand, the latest entries getting some of the worst reviews in shooting games.
  • Manhunt was a well-received game for its creepy tension, innovative use of sound, complex enemy AI, and wide variety of kill moves. Manhunt 2 was a step back from that, with less intelligent enemies, less menace and tension, and a confusing story. At least the Gorn is still good.
  • The original Double Dragon was a fairly innovative beat-em-up that introduced some of the conventions used in later games of the genre like two-player co-op and obtainable weapons, while the arcade version of Double Dragon II was mostly a Mission Pack Sequel with a fairly improved NES version. Double Dragon 3 on the other hand, featured crappier "realistic" graphics, replaced half of the original game's moves and weapons with ineffectual new ones, and added a gimmicky shopping system where you can purchase power-ups for your character (including a replacement character) by inserting more tokens to the machine. There were a few more Double Dragon games after the third one, but the series never achieved the same level of popularity it once had with the first two games.
  • Shift 4 lampshades this in the ending, aware that it is now a quadrilogy. "Who is the game that risks its rep on Sequel Shame? Shift!"
    • Of course, some people do think that the second game was a vast improvement, but the third and fourth installments were pretty average at best.
  • Backyard Sports. It started off as a decently enjoyable game series with clever characters and a good sense of humor. After Atari's buy-out from Humongous Entertainment, the series began a noticeable drop in quality. Then when the 2007 titles came in, it was pretty much agreed the series had lost all respect.
  • Homeworld averted this, barely, with 'standalone expansion' Cataclysm, despite it being a literal Mission Pack Sequel. It caught some flak for the dramatic shift in narrative tone and the new tech and ship designs were a bit hit-or-miss, but it did some pretty cool stuff with the existing graphics engine and generally came across like the development team at sub-contractee Barking Dog had at least played the original. Homeworld 2 was a bit less fortunate, however; a lot of the original creative team had moved on in the interim, and Relic massively over-extended themselves trying to create game environments with 'megastructures' straight out of the best kind of Space Opera and generally go Serial Escalation, and much of the more Crazy Awesome stuff failed to make the final cut. The end result was by no means bad -the graphics stand up quite well six years later and it's a lot more mod-friendly than the previous two- but the finished product had several minor but annoying bugs and balance issues and generally felt rushed. The gulf between Relic's original vision and what we actually got didn't help.
  • Thunder Force VI. Released over 10 years after Thunder Force V, it came to be a massive disappointment amongst fans. Very short game length (even by shmup standards), the lack of the "direct" control scheme from V, bosses that are made pathetically easy thanks to a certain ship's Limit Break, excessive Internal Homages, and stages that pale in comparison to the rest of the series; the last stage, for instance, looks like a cheap version of Thunder Force V's Stage 4. The developers of this game stated that they might do more games if this game does well. Well, bad news: judging by this game's lackluster sales, you won't be making new games.
  • The fourth game in the Avernum series switched from the antiquated engine and sketch-like, endearing graphics of the first three to something more powerful and (theoretically) more realistic, and hence got hit with They Changed It, Now It Sucks. Since the new engine was taken from Geneforge, it also got hit with They Copied It, So It Sucks. And since the plot was quite similar to that of the third game, it was also subject to Its the Same So It Sucks. Then there were the complaints when the game was taken on its own merits...
  • The Spider-Man movie spinoff games demonstrated much the same path as the movies: the first one is good, the second is awesome, then things go a bit downhill. Fortunately, Web of Shadows was there to fix matters after Friend or Foe, which we do not talk about
  • The Shining Force series really was the SRPG series in the Sega Genesis era topping off with an amazing if little-known three part finale on the Sega Saturn. Attempts to branch off into the action-adventure genre have varied between mediocre-but-passable (SF Neo, SF EXA, Shining Soul II) to forgettable (Shining Tears, the original Shining Soul). Atlus and Sega did a competent job with the Game Boy Advance Enhanced Remake of the first Shining Force. Fans have been waiting for years to see if a remake of Shining Force II will surface, but it's looking increasingly unlikely every day.
  • Many famous pre-Halo shooters did NOT age well with time. The reboots of Turok and Wolfenstein were pretty much run-off-the-mill regenerating health shooters (to speak nothing of Oblivion), Deus Ex Invisible War was panned by fans who hated how the game was simplified. Only Marathon and Doom made it out unscathed.
    • On the other hand, all of Wolfenstein 3D's sequels were critical and commercial successes, while Doom 3 now seems to be experiencing a spot of retroactive Hype Backlash.
  • Madden NFL and similiar sport game series are notorious for being continued every year, usually with next to no changes in gameplay or even graphics. The main difference is updated statistics and players.
  • The arcade version of Beatmania IIDX 9th Style didn't go so well with fans. The judgment timing windows are inconsistent from song to song; one song may be ridiculously easy to score on, another may feel very tight, another may be off, etc. In addition, 9th Style took out the Effector, a staple of the series, and a Game Breaking Bug sometimes causes the game to crash upon selecting "Quasar".
  • Spyro the Dragon was a great platforming-game with nicely designed, varied levels and really good music. Spyro 2 and 3 were arguably even better. Then came Enter the Dragonfly, which suffered from uninspired level-design, Loads and Loads of Loading, (they even had loading-screens for the loading-screens!) terrible graphics, terrible voice-acting, and being so glitchy that achieving One Hundred Percent Completion was basically impossible.
  • Bloody Roar. First game: New and unbalanced concept, but some fun novelty. Second game: Takes everything good about the first game, polishes it up, adds a decent story and you have a surprisngly simple yet tactical fighter. Third game: Needlessly dumbed down and possibly worth playing if you can't find Soul Calbiur. Fourth game: extremely dumbed down and unbalanced, with the old staff long since having left, and featuring new (terrible) character designs, and making it much, much easier to spam (this also defining the reputation the series has). Fifth game: As sequels go, its on par with Batman and Robin. But with worse acting.
  • Sonic fell into this once the series went 3D. The Sonic Adventure series was considered excellent despite minor flaws. Sonic Heroes was considered good, but not as good as Sonic Adventure and made some of the problems worse. It reached a low point in |Sonic 2006, a rushed, glitch-ridden mess that is near-universally despised by gamers and critics alike. The trend finally began reversing with Sonic Unleashed, with the subsequent Wii version of Sonic Colors being lauded by fans as the best 3D title in the franchise.
  • Call of Duty is starting to get this with a new game getting released yearly with 8 games so far and people starting to realize they are paying for the exact same game with a makeover.
  • Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge is somewhere between this and Contested Sequel. It was beyond rushed to the shelves, and the final product a very extreme case of Loads and Loads of Loading, dull and lifeless voice acting, painfully linear gameplay, no replay factor, a removal of a lot of characters, little explanation to anything, and mediocre animation.
  • The first two episodes of Eye of the Beholder, while not revolutionary, were excellent dungeon crawlers and the second is recognized as an Even Better Sequel. Then Westwood went on to work on Lands of Lore but SSI decided to make another sequel anyway. The result was a game that brought back many of the flaws of the original and even amplified them, with absurd mazes and frustrating difficulty, and suffered from a mediocrely programmed engine too.
  • The general consensus of the Star Fox series after Star Fox 64. There's so much Fan Myopia that it has lead to one of the most broken series of all time. Nintendo themselves have caught on to the decrease in sales, and even though Miyamoto joked about it, if sales for Star Fox 64 3D weren't decent, then the series probably would've been down the tubes.
  • The first two Flat Out games were well-known for their destructible environments and ragdoll driver physics - the most amusing parts being the mini-games that involved the player launching their driver out of his car into various targets and watching him flop around in pain. Five years separated the second and third games, and development was taken up by Team 6 Games (of European Street Racer infamy) while Bugbear Interactive worked on Ridge Racer: Unbounded. Unfortunately, Team 6's FlatOut game looks ugly, is riddled with bugs, and none of the tracks are fun to navigate.
  • Earnest Evans isn't so well regarded as El Viento, in part due to poor gameplay and design and most infamously, poorly done graphics, especially on the titular hero, who is made up of multiple sprites put together to create the illusion of more fluid movement, but only succeeded in making Earnest look like a deranged marionette. The cutscenes in Earnest Evans are commonly poorly done, though they were removed completely from the American version, which tried to make it a sequel rather than a prequel to El Viento. The Earnest Evans trilogy ended with the Japan-only title Annet Futatabi, a Golden Axe ripoff whose most outstanding points were cutscenes and copious Fake Difficulty.
  • A Super Mario World hack series, Super Sig World is arguably the ultimate example of poorly done sequels in large numbers, with TWENTY FIVE installments in about two or three years. It's debatable how terrible each individual game is (although the best ones are merely average, and the amount of reused content is kind of staggering), but still making a 70 level game every three months seems like overkill.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Static Shock and The Zeta Project are part of the DCAU, which also contains such well loved classics as Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Batman Beyond, all acclaimed for their mature story lines, great characters and voice actors, and excellent animation. However, those two are considered far less intruging, as they are taken to much lighter tone, as they lack many aspects that made the DCAU so memorable. While the two were far from terrible, and they still had their fair share of likeable characters, and a few good episodes, they are far below the other series. Part of this reason is because of the lack of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. (Though Dini wrote a few Static Shock episodes.)
    • There is also Gotham Girls, a web-series. It is considered more of a parody series, and its official place in the DCAU is disputed. There is also a web-series based off of Lobo, and as with Gotham Girls, its continuity status is not known. Lobo is not considered too good, however.
  • Even though it's still running, this is the general consensus of Planet Sheen, the spinoff-sequel to Jimmy Neutron.
  • The popular opinion of The Cleveland Show, an Expy-filled "spin-off" of Family Guy.


Meta[edit | hide]

  • Andrzej Sapkowski named it as one of major SF&F plagues in his No Gold in the Grey Mountains article - though added two Hypocrisy Nods on this topic: for eagerly awaiting 10th tome of The Book of Amber and for his own pen marathon, The Witcher.

I myself, while considering myself an attentive inspector of the news of fantastics, sometimes don't buy the freshly released sixth book of a saga because my attention somehow failed to register previous five. But much, much more frequently I decline to buy tome one if its cover grins with a warning: 'First Book Of the Magic Shit Cycle'.

Marty: Doc, are you sure this time machine works?


  1. And a TV Series. And a plentiful amount of Licensed Games. All of which are painfully Lighter and Softer.