Created By: Mr.BillDoor on May 25, 2011 Last Edited By: MrBillDoor on July 12, 2017

Left Turn Sequel

A sequel that takes the story in a direction that is inconsistent with the ending of the original.

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So you've just finished the first book in a series and loved every minute of it. You immediately run out and pick up the sequel, hoping it will be just as good.

But what's this? The heroes are on the run from the bad guys? But they won in the first book! And why did the hero and his girlfriend break up? What the hell is going on here?

What you have here is a Left Turn Sequel - a sequel that breaks assumptions that the reader made based on the ending of the original. This may involve some kind of Plot Twist, but it doesn't have to, and not any Plot Twist would qualify either. If your first reaction to a sequel is to do a double-take or say "What the hell?", there's a good chance that it's a Left Turn Sequel.

May involve a Retcon, although it doesn't have to.

Note that a Left Turn Sequel isn't necessarily a bad thing - many Left Turn Sequels turn out to be worth successors or even Surprisingly Improved Sequels. After all, plenty of stories end with a victory that seems a little too convenient when you think about it - The Empire may not fall just because you killed The Emperor (unless...).

If the left turn undoes the changes of the previous work, you have a Sequel Reset. See also Sequelphobic, which is a common reaction to a sequel that sounds like it might fall under this trope.

As a trope about endings, BEWARE UNMARKED SPOILERS!

Do We Have This One?? There doesn't seem to be a clear match under the Sequel tropes, but if it isn't indexed...

  • The Empire Strikes Back opens with the Rebel Alliance in dire straits, despite the fact that Star Wars ended with a major victory for them. The EU also contains too many stories to count that involve some new leader taking Emperor Palpatine's place after Return of the Jedi.
  • Starcraft ends with the destruction of the Zerg Overmind. Earlier in the story, the death of the Cerebrate Zsaz weakened his Zerg brood and made them a danger to the rest of the Zerg Swarm, but in Brood War the leaderless Zerg are apparently more dangerous than ever and proceed to destroy most of Aiur. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.
  • In the Foundation series, the ending of Second Foundation implies that the Seldon Plan is back on track. Later sequels reveal that it didn't actually work, and that it doesn't matter anyway because the Seldon Plan is fundamentally flawed.

Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • May 25, 2011
    Terminator 3 basically had the idea that you can't change the future, after T2 says you can.
  • May 26, 2011
    • What Were We Fighting For - The heroes completely won at the end of the previous installment but at the start of the sequel the situation is even worse than when they started.
  • May 26, 2011
    The end of the first Aladdin movie pretty strongly indicated that Aladdin and Jasmine got married. Come the sequels, and oops! They're just engaged. And actually, in the television series they tend to refer to each other as simply boyfriend and girlfriend (probably just dumbing down the vocabularies for the kiddies, but still...)
  • May 26, 2011
    • Maybe the Cars sequel. We'll know in a few weeks.
  • May 26, 2011
    This happened somewhat in War Craft. In the first two games, the player would choose to play Humans or Orcs, with the two storylines being mutually exclusive. The second game assumed that the Orcs had won the first, and the third game assumed that the Humans had won the second.
  • May 26, 2011
    We Have This I Swear... I think.

    In any case, Alien3 probably counts, given that everyone from Aliens but Ripley is revealed to have died during the opening credits.
  • May 26, 2011
    The Hulk. :P
  • May 26, 2011
    Holy crap. This is What Were We Fighting For. I knew I had a good reason for starting that trope. :3
  • May 27, 2011
    This appears to me to be a Super Trope of What Were We Fighting For. Note that the Laconic is "A sequel that takes the story in a direction that is inconsistent with the ending of the original."

    Thus it includes all sequels which start off very differently from the ending of the previous installment, whether for good or bad.

    It would help if the wording of the description were changed to indicate this and not concentrate on negative changes.
  • May 27, 2011
    Not sure if this is an example, but since the episode is actually named "Turn Left", I'll mention it anyway.

    Doctor Who: Donna is put in an alternate universe in which, because she turned left instead of right at the traffic lights one time, she never met The Doctor. Since she never met the Doctor, he drowned when she was supposed to be there to save him. Since he's dead, everything that attacked Earth since she was supposed to meet him succeeded. But in this universe, someone succeeds in destroying the multiverse, so Rose arrives to help Donna leave and get a message to the Doctor.

    I think this is an example because we see how a Left Turn Sequel could have gone, so we know what's at stake in the next couple of episodes.
  • July 3, 2017
    Isn't this related to In Name Only and Sequelitis?
  • July 12, 2017
    The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh ended with Christopher Robin announcing that he's leaving the Hundred-Acre Wood to go to school, which is represented in the movie by leaving a sign on his door saying "GONƎ TO ƧKOOL" for everyone to see, and everyone more-or-less accepts it. Poohs Grand Adventure The Search For Christopher Robin, however, begins with Christopher Robin leaving a jar of honey for Pooh with a note explaining that he's leaving for school, apparently without notifying anyone else in the Forest. Pooh shows the message to Owl, who reads "school" as "Skull" and sends Pooh and his friends on an adventure to save Christopher Robin.
  • July 11, 2017
    At the end of Big Bad Mama (1974), Angie Dickinson's character Wilma dies after having been shot. But in the 1987 sequel, it turns out she was only wounded.

    In Cocoon (1985), the humans who decided to go with the Antareans are told they would be leaving Earth for good. Guess what happens in the 1988 sequel, Cocoon: The Return.
  • July 12, 2017
  • July 12, 2017
    Golden Sun: The first game ends with the heroes (having failed to prevent two of the elemental lighthouses getting their beacons lit) boarding a ship to pursue what's left of the enemy party (and their hostages) and prevent any more lighthouses from being reactivated. The second game has you play as said remnant and their hostages, and your goal is to see the beacons lit. You and the first party keep missing each other for most of the game, and are finally reunited with a common goal during the last portion.