"Somebody at Sony must have at least fast-forwarded through the second film and given an ultimatum for them to fill it with explosions or get the fuck off their property, since this one is comparatively action-packed. Unfortunately, they forgot to be specific, and so the action consists mostly of divine intervention and high-stakes Bible heists. WE'VE GOTTA GET THESE BIBLES OUTTA HERE."
A new film franchise has a lot of work to do. In only a couple hours, you have to introduce the characters, the premise, and all the Phlebotinum
you're going to be using for the rest of the series, and
you need to have a plot to tie it all together. Because of this, the first installment in a film series tends to be slower paced.
Starting with the second film, though, the Back Story
is already established, everyone has already met everyone
, and the budget for the movie is often much larger, allowing it and subsequent sequels
to fall increasingly into the 'Action' genre, even if the original didn't have that much action. If it did, the sequels become outright over the top in their action
Tends to happen with horror films. Occasionally, as with Alien
, it's because the director feels the first was perfect and tries to do new things. Other times, it's because anyone who survives
a horror movie graduates with a few levels in badass
, and when you put a badass
into a horror movie, it becomes an action movie.
This can also happen in some video games, particularly those in the horror genre. Often, the first installment will be based on survival, not combat, and encourage you to avoid the enemies rather than fight them directly. Possibly in an effort to appeal to a wider audience (after all, survival is hard, but blasting shit is fun
), subsequent games will add more ammo and weapons, or go into a full Genre Shift
. Of course, it can happen to other genres as well—as technology has improved, the RPG genre as a whole has become faster paced and more action-oriented, for example.
open/close all folders
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series is significantly more action-packed than the original strip.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Its Always Sunny In Fillydelphia involves Applejack going on a date with Soarin of the Wonderbolts (her only customer in the season 1 finale "The Best Night Ever") and the two of them falling in love. Its sequel, "Semper Fidelis", plunks the two of them in an action-packed adventure inspired by the G1 My Little Pony special "Rescue at Midnight Castle".
- In the same fandom, there's a fanfic called "A New Home." The first three sagas in The Verse:
- Original story: An abused five-year-old in the human world wishes for a loving family on the same night Fluttershy wishes she had a child or a younger sibling to take care of. With a little help from Princess Luna, they both get their wish. Most of the story is about Fluttershy as a new mommy and poor Toby slowly learning that no, here he's not going to be mauled for breathing the wrong way, and the others trying to figure out where he came from and such. There are sad moments and about as many Tastes Like Diabetes moments.
- Holidays With Toby: How it goes with Fluttershy, her new adopted son, and the gang at different pony holidays.
- A Queen's Revenge: Queen Chrysalis shows up and tries to Take Over the World, and definitely Would Hurt a Child, especially one connected to one of the Element bearers. It's not as dark as the Gorn fics that follow in the footsteps of Cupcakes, but compared to the tone of the previous arcs it's like expecting the next episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and instead getting one of the movies. However, the fourth and current arc, The Quest for the Lost Locket, doesn't continue this progression.
- YouTube James Bond Fan Film Property of A Lady contains somewhat greater proportion of action than its direct predecessor Diamonds Cut, mainly because it increased length and shed on Padding.
- Windfall by Warren Hutch was a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic about the Mane Six Putting the Band Back Together to be there for the birth of Fluttershy's first child, full of laughs and WAFF. The sequels, while still largely comedies, are rather more action-packed:
Films — Animated
- Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is very much this to its predecessors. Lady Tremaine uses the Fairy Godmother's magic to change the outcome of the original story in her favor, and Cinderella and her friends must overcome the alterations in order to reunite her with Prince Charming.
- Kung Fu Panda 2 is also this. Thanks to Po getting past his training, he can now join the Furious Five in their missions and become a Rookie Sixth Ranger.
Films — Live-Action
- Though not advertised as a sequel, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland uses the events of the original book as backstory, with Alice now a young woman who becomes an Action Girl and slays the Jabberwock.
- Alien is a suspense movie about a creature hidden in the labyrinthine corridors of a space ship. Aliens sends in the clones for all-out war. This was because James Cameron (who also wrote Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Rambo: First Blood Part II) thought Alien was perfect at what it did and wanted to do something different. Notably, Aliens is considered a great film in its own right, and some consider it even better than Alien.
- Superman II is a textbook example as it begins with Superman saving Lois from a terrorist attack, features a few scenes of the evil Kryptonians causing havoc and has a climax involving a huge battle between Superman and the three villains. Contrast with the first film, which had no fight scenes and overall, relatively light action more akin to a disaster movie than the kind of superhero blockbusters it inspired.
- The shared continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe allowed The Avengers to play this trope for all it's worth; since each of the characters got their own movie detailing their origin story and character backgroundnote the writers could afford to make the majority of the exposition be about the team as a whole, rather than focusing on each character's history.
- Tim Burton's first Batman movie (in 1989) had to set up a lot of plot exposition and could get draggy at times, but it still had a fair amount of action. Its sequel, Batman Returns, had even more action, but paradoxically seemed less action-packed because the non-action sequences and story themes were so powerful. Batman Forever and Batman & Robin both had tons of action, often for no other reason than to have an action sequence.
- The Cannonball Run was about a group of eccentrics (mostly broad stereotypes) who take part in a cross-country road race. The sequel is about a group of eccentrics who take part in a cross-country road race while a group of inept gangsters attempt to kidnap the race's backer. Although this does have the side effect of making the fight scene near the end seem less tacked on and actually plot-relevant (for what little plot there is).
- Carrie is an example of this happening with remakes rather than sequels. The first adaptation in 1976 was shot on a budget of just $1.8 millionnote , meaning that they couldn't film Carrie's rampage as it was described in the book (with her burning down the whole town). As a result, the special effects were limited to just the prom and a handful of other scenes. When the film was remade as a TV movie in 2002, it cranked up the rampage to near-Disaster Movie levels. And if the teaser for the 2013 version is anything to go by, it looks like it's following the same path... only this time, the destruction has an actual budget behind it as opposed to the '02 version's Conspicuous CG.
- The sequel to Cars. The first movie was about Lightning growing up and learning to appreciate the people around him in time for a big race. The sequel involves him and Mater being mistaken for American spies by British intelligence, leading to chase sequences and plenty of Stuff Blowing Up.
- Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace - Even though the first was an action movie, the sequel did take this to ludicrous proportions. The Jitter Cam didn't help.
- Pitch Black to The Chronicles of Riddick. The former is a horror movie in which a group of space crash survivors have to escape a planet filled with alien monsters, the latter is a big-budgeted sequel in which the Conan-esque Riddick has to defeat an evil empire of death-worshipping warriors.
- Crocodile Dundee was a weird example - the first was a Fish out of Water comedy about an Australian from the Outback trying to adapt to life in New York. The second pitched him against a gang of crooks in the Outback.
- Death Wish and Death Wish II were vigilante revenge dramas. Death Wish 3 and Death Wish 4 The Crackdown turned up the action to eleven for the day, with 3 featuring Charles Bronson's biggest bodycount ever.
- The Evil Dead (1981) was a low-budget early '80s horror movie, with the male lead as the sole survivor. It was good. Six years and 12 in-movie hours of experience later, Bruce Campbell stars as the now badass survivor, who still makes mistakes but kicks Eldritch Abomination ass, and kicks even more ass in 1992 in Army of Darkness, "The Ultimate Ass-Kicking"!
- First Blood was a moody piece about a troubled Vietnam War vet trying to adapt to a regular life again and failing disastrously. Rambo: First Blood Part II and later sequels take that vet and put him back where he is killing people and taking names.
- Godzilla's debut, the original Godzilla (1954), was a somber allegorical horror film about the dangers of the atomic bomb. The first sequel, Godzilla Raids Again set up the action-based formula of "Monster VS Monster" (in this case, Godzilla VS Anguirus).
- Parodied in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are seen to be filming Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. Will Hunting uses a shotgun to end arguments.
- Koi...Mil Gaya starring Hrithik Roshan is a Filmfare Award-winning movie about a developmentally disabled young man (Roshan) who tries to continue the work his father did in communicating with extra-terrestrials from outer space, which leads to something miraculous and wonderful. Its sequel Krrish? That young man's son (also Roshan) was given his dad's superpowers and becomes a superhero, Twenty Minutes into the Future.
- The Mad Max progressively movies added more action with more budget.
- Parodied by Family Guy with The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This! (which from the trailer appeared to be Rush Hour with Jesus instead of Jackie Chan),
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows spends considerably less time on investigation sequences and focuses the bulk of its plot on chasing the villain across Europe in the hopes of unraveling his scheme. This results in a lot more explosive and high-octane moments of action compared to the original movie. This is true to the Sherlock Holmes story it is based on, "The Final Problem," which lacked a mystery and was essentially Holmes vs. Moriarty the entire way.
- More of an Actionized Remake, but The Simpsons parodies this when Mel Gibson stars in a remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Homer convinces him to make some changes. The resulting film ends with Smith killing everyone in Congress after his filibuster, and then decapitating the president.
- Star Trek films.
- The Terminator is a horror movie about being chased by an unyielding, unstoppable menace. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is ROBOT FIGHT CITY.
- UHF shows a preview for the fake movie Gandhi 2. All of his arguments are solved with killing his opponents. He likes his steak bloody rare, and the movie title is spelled out as he fires a submachine gun across a restaurant because someone said "Hey baldy!"
- X-Men had a few fight scenes, but much of the screentime was devoted to explaining mutants and setting up the character relationships. X2: X-Men United, however, had several fight scenes and let Wolverine really cut loose, and The Last Stand turned it up further.
- Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starts with Willy Wonka and the Bucket family's journey back to the factory via the titular flying elevator going awry. Accidentally sent into orbit, they spend the first half of the book exploring a space hotel and thwarting an invasion by carnivorous aliens. The Halfway Plot Switch (in which, once they're back on Earth, the grandparents being offered reverse-aging pills goes awry) is more in line with the events and tone of the first book, albeit with slightly higher stakes and an Orphean Rescue.
- Actraiser II, no doubt. The simulation portion from its predecessor is completely nixed and the player character has more special moves and is a lot more nimble overall.
- In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the only way to get rid of the monsters is to hide from them, or in some cases, run until another area is reached. Some enemies, like a few versions of Kaernk, could be killed, but it's mostly a case of Good Bad Bugs. However, there were also significant puzzle elements and the need to provide lightning for yourself to avoid going insane. The sequel took all those out and reduced the game to avoiding monsters and turning valves.
- The first Condemned game, Criminal Origins, had firearms mostly as an afterthought- guns were pretty rare, you couldn't reload, and it was entirely possible to go through the game without firing a single bullet. In the second game, Bloodshot, guns are a bit more plentiful, and there are a few parts where having a gun is necessary for survival. The melee elements are also enhanced with the addition of combos and chain attacks.
- Dead Space 2 made certain Necromorphs easier to kill (the Pregnant monsters died after getting their sack ruptured, whereas in the first game they would continue to crawl alongside their brethren), rebalanced weapons and allowed player to dispatch Necromorphs by blowing out windows to space. Zero-G movement was also streamlined: instead of jumping from surface to surface with the aid of his RIG's magnetic boots, Isaac moved by way of a Jetpack integrated into his RIG. However the game still maintained most of the original's atmosphere.
- Dead Space 3, however, took actionization so far many players refused to consider it horror. Necromorphs no longer had to have their limbs surgically shot off: sufficient body damage was also enough. The balanced weapons of previous games were replaced by the extensive weapon-crafting system that allowed for extremely overpowered combos, and universal ammo eliminated most of inventory management. To compensate for this, the game threw dozens of Necromorphs in waves, as well as easily slaughtered Unitologist mooks. To deal with the latter, Isaac also learnt to crouch, take cover and perform combat rolls.
- The first Dino Crisis, like the Resident Evil series, focused on survival, and barely gave you enough ammo to deal with the dinosaurs you encountered. Dino Crisis 2 is a full-on action shooter, letting you slaughter them by the dozens, and rack up combo points to buy ever larger guns.
- The first Doom game spaced most of the combat out a bit, and often the largest groups of enemies faced at once were placed in a confined, maze-like space (both to keep things tense, and to keep you from being swarmed right off the bat). Doom II was more willing to throw large groups of enemies at you all at once, and in general the new types of enemies introduced added more variety and lethality. The two versions of Final Doom (Plutonia in particular) turned things Up to Eleven, setting a precedent for later swarm-based mods such as Hell Revealed. Oddly, Doom 64 went back to a slower pace that created more suspense. Even before Doom 64 was also the PlayStation and Saturn ports of Doom, which changed the memorable rockin' soundtrack for dark and atmospheric music, and in the PlayStation version, colored lightning that give the original Doom games the feel of a survival horror game.
- Doom 3 goes from the run-and-gun shooter, a landmark of the previous games, to a scary, moody, slow horror shooter. BFG Edition, however, went back to the run-and-gun gameplay of the first two games by giving the player more ammo, changed the lighting to make the game less dark, slightly faster player movement, etc.
- Dragon Age II had been heavily actionized in comparison to its predecessor. Whereas first game typically had 5-6 enemies per room that took a while to kill and had most of the same skills the player party had, here you fight dozens of much weaker enemies per encounter, usually in several waves that often teleported out of nowhere. The combat became far more over-the-top, with rogues jumping several metres through the air and even heavily armored templars able to do backflips, every kill led to a shower of blood (if not someone exploding outright) and enemies were lucky if they could two-three skills. Relatively rare and challenging mini-bosses like Revenants and Desire Demons were also downgraded to Elite Mooks.
- Non-combat parts of the game were also trimmed: there were less dialogues on the whole, they became simpler (3 choices as opposed to 4-5), non-violent alternatives to combat appear once in a blue moon and the (already limited) exploration aspect is practically non-existent due to Cut-and-Paste Environments.
- The first two Fallout games were straight-up turn-based RPGs. Starting with Fallout 3, the series became either an RPG with heavy FPS elements or an FPS with heavy RPG elements depending on who you ask; either way, it became a lot more action-packed.
- The Final Fantasy series is still firmly in the RPG genre, but has slowly becoming more action oriented, with action commands in battle, and a shift to more real-time combat. Spin Offs like Dirge of Cerberus or Crisis Core are a full Genre Shift.
- Front Mission ventured into this when Gun Hazard was released as the second video game in the franchise. A side-scrolling shooter with 2 player co-op, it was a complete change of pace from the original Front Mission. This was followed up by the release of Alternative two games later. Alternative plays out in real-time strategy albeit there is an action element as the game lets players control the action in first-person ala an FPS. After the releases of 3, the Front Mission remake 1st, and 4, yet a third action spin-off was released - Online. An MMO third-person shooter with FPS elements, the action took place in real-time and focused heavily on team-based play such that it never truly lost the Front Mission appeal. Evolved continued the trend a few years later as the second TPS title (also has a bit of FPS in it), although it completely abandons a lot of the Front Mission appeal (teamwork, slower-paced gameplay). Instead, it better resembles Armored Core with some unusual additions (regenerating health, arcade-y gameplay). Although it wasn't developed by the core Front Mission team, Evolved was hated by all fans, even by the hardcore who know that Front Mission isn't all about turn-based strategy and were eagerly awaiting a new action title.
- 3 follows suit. With large amounts of its tactical nature being scaled back (number of playable units dropping from 12 to 4, missions taking place on tiny maps, customization made bare bones), it is comparatively more action-oriented as far as TRPGs go than its predecessors. 4 returns back to much of its roots.
- In contrast to the slower pace of the original, Shenmue II positively brims with action and quick time sequences, in addition to other major changes.
- Jak and Daxter was an action game already, but it was more of a standard platformer. Sequels introduced gunplay and somewhat less straight-up platforming.
- The Kingdom Hearts series. The first game had about equal amounts of combat, platforming, and puzzle-solving. The combat in the first game was very simple, as you could do basic sword swings, a few spells, a few summons, and by the end of the game Sora gets exactly 4 "special attacks", and upgrading attacks in that game was nothing more than adding a few more hits to his basic swing and making the hits pack more of a punch. The second game - at which point the series had already set forth the motion that Sora was basically the Messianic Archetype and now needed to prove just exactly what made a 15 year old boy better than grown, experienced men and women with supernatural powers- focused mainly on combat. As a result, the player was given a ridiculous number of ways to kick ass: Drive Forms, more elaborate Summon Magic, much more powerful and varied Spells, Limits, the ability to equip whole new combat techniques as well as being able to upgrade basic swings like in the first game, and, perhaps most infamously, Action Commands worth of the Matrix (whew). The next few games put some more emphasis on platforming, but continued to refine the combat system.
- Mass Effect 2 has more and faster-paced action than its predecessor. Best exemplified by the Vanguard class's new ability - a gravity-powered Foe-Tossing Charge - or the increased variety of heavy weapons, which range from a Grenade Launcher to a borderline Too Awesome to Use personal nuke.
- Mass Effect 3 also doesn’t disappoint on that front. In particular, melee combat does far more damage in the third game, as every class either has access to a personal Laser Blade or a biotic punch, and weak enemies can be pushed away with a gun-butt before they attack.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots made the run n gun style of gameplay an option as compared to earlier titles which were more stealth focused and were more difficult to run n gun. There's also the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance spin-off, which almost completely ditches stealth and focuses on the action.
- Metro 2033 was a heavily atmospheric and very unforgiving game, where the combat was against mainly small (3-4) groups of mutants who killed you in a couple of hits. Encounters against similar-sized groups of humans were rarer and could often be avoided by stealth. Ammo was very rare as well, (having 100 of ANY kind is a sign of extraordinary luck). Metro: Last Light increases the action dramatically, and balances the amount of time you spend fighting humans and the time you spend fighting mutants. In some missions, you may face as many human enemies as you fought in the entirety of Metro 2033. Combat has been streamlined, with the melee attack now being done with a quick button tap, and health regeneration taking noticeably less time. Gunplay has been improved and tightened immensely. Weapons and ammo are proliferated immensely, and it's possible to modify the guns. The Bastard you get early in the game can easily and comfortably stay with you as your weapon of choice, remaining a viable option even in the endgame, whereas pretty much everyone dropped their Bastard for a 74 in 2033 the moment they could.
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, compared to the first previous two games. There are a lot more actionized setpieces (like dropping a giant bomb on a leviathan shield, the demolition trooper escort mission, Hypermode, the free-fall Ridley fight) and less isolated parts. It is also more linear, but mostly due to level design, as you fly around several planets and the areas are smaller. There is still plenty of exploring to do, but combat takes a strong precedence over it.
- Metroid: Other M takes it even further by giving Samus loads of melee attacks, dodging and other combat-related abilities.
- Zig-Zagged with Need for Speed series: some games are about kicking arses and taking credits in illegal street racing, some others are about professional, Gran Turismo-esque racing. Examples of the former are Most Wanted, Carbon, and Hot Pursuit, the latter are Pro Street, Shift 1, Shift 2.
- The Neverhood is a claymation-based adventure game with a bizarre sense of humor. Its sequel, Skullmonkeys, keeps the claymation and humor but shifts to a platformer.
- The first three Rainbow Six games (Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear and Raven Shield) we about careful planning and one-hit-kill gameplay. Lockdown gave you a health bar and removed the tactical planning part. Vegas and Vegas 2 are about three guys with Regenerating Health mowing down a massive army of mercenaries and terrorists.
- The Ratchet & Clank series likewise placed more of a emphasis on combat with each successive sequel (given the close relationship with Jak and Daxter above, it could be considered a feedback loop), until Deadlocked pretty much became all T/FPS. They backed up to a more balanced mix for Tools of Destruction, however.
- Resident Evil:
- Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, unlike the previous games, have a much more action-packed gameplay style, with fully functional manual aiming, (conditional) melee attacks, and generally more combat-friendly environments. Many players agree that they are more like action games than survival horror. As one analysis explained, the series shifted from aiming for "scary" to aiming for "tense". Or put another way, it goes from survival horror to adrenaline horror. Resident Evil 6 follows the same path.
- To a lesser extent, both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis increase the action segments due to the wider availability of ammo and the dodge ability, but they're otherwise much less action-packed than the post-Umbrella adventures.
- Towards the end of the Adventure game era and the rise of the FPS genre, Sierra Entertainment attempted to actionize their franchises. It backfired with King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, which sold badly enough to sink the franchise.
- Quest for Glory V was similarly actionized. However, it was already the conclusion of the series, so its sales didn't matter.
- Police Quest is a rare exemption, the games franchise re-inventing itself as Police Quest SWAT and later just SWAT. This series lived on to make 4 more games after their last adventure game precursor.
- Although not to the same extent as Resident Evil 4 or 5, Silent Hill: Homecoming has a much more developed melee combat system, including combos, a powerful dodge move, and a lock-on camera that turns every fight into a one-on-one duel. This (plus stronger healing items and propensity of enemies to get stunlocked) made melee combat viable by itself, whereas previous games favoured fleeing or using up precious ammo. Enemy encounters are still spaced out evenly and the game's overall pace is still pretty slow and brooding. It didn't work too well, so the next installment, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories took out all combat completely. 2012 Silent Hill: Downpour balanced somewhere between two extremes.
- Before that, the franchise zig-zagged with the action quotient as well. Silent Hill 2 had less action then the first, and included the option to disable combat completely. Silent Hill 3 was significantly actionized due to better weapons like the katana, quicker pace, more monster encounters and the addition of a submachine gun, which made boss fights a (relative) breeze. Silent Hill 4 scaled back the action significantly, with clunkier controls and weaker weapons. Silent Hill Origins downplayed it: on one hand the protagonist had less health than usual and all melee weapons broke after several hits. On the other hand, assault rifle made a comeback and you could pick up almost anything to use as a melee weapon and carry it in your infinite inventory.
- Splinter Cell Conviction turns up the action and gives badass Sam Fisher another level in badass., with rather mixed reactions from the fans. Splinter Cell: Blacklist downplayed it by making stealth a viable approach again while allowing for the Conviction-style or even regular TPS gameplay.
- The original Tomb Raider had even balance between combat and platforming/puzzle solving. Its sequel shifted focus closer to combat by letting Lara start with a shotgun in addition to her trademark pistols and adding greater quantity of both monster and human enemies.
- The first two Turrican were slow, methodical Metroid Vania platformers while the console sequels and Turrican 3 were fast-paced run & gun shooters more akin to Contra.
- The first Zone of the Enders had some open-exploration as you travel between different areas of Antilia, a space colony orbiting Jupiter, went on fetch missions, the occasional S.O.S. missions, and find sub-weapons to perform tasks needed to advance the game. Its sequel, The 2nd Runner, ditches all of that and opt for much more action-driven gameplay and linear level progression.
- Epyx's Temple Of Apshai, a quasi-real-time Dungeon Crawling RPG, received an actionized prequel, Gateway to Apshai, four years later.