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Franchise Killer

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/franchisekiller_2015.png
And then they had to reboot it again, seven years later.

"I think we might have killed the franchise."
George Clooney on Batman & Robin (and until 2005, he was right)

Sometimes a sequel sucks. Sometimes it sucks, but leaves the possibility open that the followup will be better and that this is just a blip in the quality of the franchise. Then sometimes it sucks so much that it kills the franchise stone dead, destroying the producers'/publishers' hopes for further sequels. In the most extreme cases, it can even take the producer/publisher down with it. Or even the entire genre itself.

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

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

For many Video Game companies, shipping a Franchise Killer is also a Creator Killer, either through bankruptcy, no-one wanting to forward them the funding to continue making games, or in the modern world of mega-corporations owning every studio as a subsidiary of the larger corporation, the executives in charge of the conglomerate deciding to shut the studio having wrung the last vestiges of profit out of the intellectual property the studio was bought for, or using them as scapegoats for poor performance financially speaking. Or in some cases, actual poor performance as a studio.

Compare Torch the Franchise and Run, where a writer is deliberately trying to kill a franchise by making such a big mess of it that no one can continue it without using Prequels, Retcons or just rebooting the whole thing. See also Tough Act to Follow, where one work in a series is seen as so good that subsequent installments are seen as not worth the time and money.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga 

Digimon

  • The anime Digimon Frontier, which followed the popular Digimon Tamers, is often blamed by Western fans for killing the anime franchise for three years. However, the harsh truth is that while Tamers was a critical darling for older fans, it was not popular amongst Digimon's target demographic of young children. The derided Henshin Hero gimmick of Frontier was a hasty attempt to win back the viewers (and merchandise sales) that Tamers had lost, a patch-job that ultimately failed to reverse the decline.

Gundam

  • The Gundam franchise had been on shaky grounds for several years, in part due to low ratings, but also the conflicted leadership of Sunrise, the studio behind the series. Victory Gundam, the last televised installment to take place in the Universal Century continuity, was under massive pressure from main sponsor Bandai, resulting in a reshuffling of early episodes to showcase the titular mecha of the show earlier, and the addition of several toyetic mechs later in the show's run. Yet the show did not prove to have satisfactory sales, and combined with Sunrise being bought out by Bandai, was replaced with the extremely different Alternate Universe G Gundam, which featured many, many Gundams, and has an extensive toyline. The ratings for the series did not improve, but the toy sales went up, setting a precedent for future TV shows to always be set in alternate universes. The Universal Century still lives on though, quite successfully at that, with OVAs like The 08th MS Team and Gundam Unicorn setting sales records.
  • Gundam X's ratings almost killed the franchise, presumably due to there having been Gundam on screen every week for 4 years at that point. The series disappeared off TV for 3 years until the similarly unsuccessful Turn A Gundam (although the series continued on Video and Film with The 08th MS Team and Endless Waltz). It was not until the massively successful Gundam SEED that the series was revitalized. Gundam X is one of only two Gundam TV series to be cut short of a full two-season run. The first? The original Mobile Suit Gundam; it's easy to forget given what a massive franchise it has become when the original installment had poor ratings.
  • In America, it was Gundam SEED that killed the franchise. In this case, one can blame the heavy edits Toonami made. Desperate to air the show in a daytime slot, Cartoon Network's cuts turned the show into a complete mess, most notably by forcing the series to Never Say "Die", drastically changing battle scenes, and featuring the use of the notorious "Disco Guns." In spite of the show's serious nature, the bizarre and drastic edits caused the fanbase to not take the show seriously and it showed in the ratings. By episode 26, the series could only be seen at Friday at midnight. After its shaky run, Gundam would go back to being only seen on DVD until Sci Fi Channel revived the franchise by airing Mobile Suit Gundam 00, and Toonami didn't air ANY new Gundam series until 2016, when they got Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.note .
    • Gundam SEED Destiny managed to kill Sunrise's official English-language Gundam message board (the centerpiece of the English language website), despite not even airing outside of Japan until years later (and even then it only aired in Canada). Numerous American fans were watching fansubs of the SEED Destiny episodes within days of their air dates (or even sooner in the case of American fans who speak Japanese, which in the Gundam fandom turns out to be a surprisingly large number) and thus it was the biggest topic of discussion the message board (without, of course, the fansub aspect being mentioned; it was the official message board after all). The extremely divided fan opinion about SEED Destiny is well known, but the disagreements were kept mostly civil. And then the final episode aired, and the opinions voiced on the message board were almost universally (and often quite vehemently) negative, even among those who'd generally approved of the way the story had gone in the second half. Shortly afterward (and without advance notice), Sunrise pulled the plug on the message board entirely, leaving GundamOfficial.com little more than an empty shell that to this day no longer gets updated (when Gundam 00 aired on Sci Fi, it was given its own separate English-language website).note  In fact, given that the SEED Destiny finale aired in Japan less than six months after the SEED finale aired in North America (many Gundam fans, especially those newly-introduced to the franchise, went straight from watching SEED in English to watching fansubs of SEED Destiny), this incident may have even played a role in Gundam's long disappearance from American TV broadcasts, with Sunrise drawing the (ridiculously false) conclusion that negative reaction to the SEED Destiny finale meant that Americans just didn't like Gundam.
    • Seedís success once even started talks that the Cosmic Era timeline could become the new Universal Century in terms of production of sequels and side-stories. However, production troubles involving Destiny and the subsequent release and success of non-CE series Gundam 00 have since dashed those hopes. A movie meant to tie up the Cosmic Era timeline has been stuck in Development Hell for years (due to the declining health and in 2016, eventual death of head writer Chiaki Morosawa, the wife of SEED and SEED Destiny director Mitsuo Fukuda), and its fate is uncertain.
  • There was Toonami's broadcast of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, a series that was made in 1979 and had yet to receive any sort of modernization. It didn't help that Mobile Suit Gundam was following on from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, a series that (at the time) was one of the most modern Gundam series (made in the 90s and all). The result? Mobile Suit Gundam never finished its initial run, with Cartoon Network using 9/11 as an excuse to pull the show a good chunk of episodes from the end. That being said however, it was briefly revisited during a New Year's Eve special, in which series belonging to favorite Toonami block villains (as voted upon by fans) were broadcast on the Midnight Run. Surprisingly, Char Aznable was voted near the top slot (beating out The Joker as he appeared in Batman: The Animated Series, no less), and as a result Toonami ran the final episode of the series in his honor.
  • In Japan and amongst the world, the almost-franchise killer was Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. Stylistically, it was attacked for appearing to be a "kiddie" version of Gundam, but the series was actually one of the darker stories in Gundam canon, with the series being introduced during a violent invasion attack, featuring a Villain Protagonist, and the first major antagonist being a seven-year-old. During much of the series, it was criticized as being the Cliché Storm of Gundam, drawing forth all the various tropes and themes that were utilized in the other installments to fill out the story. It would have killed off the franchise if not for the release of Gundam Build Fighters, which made up for the countless flak it received. The main point of contention towards AGE was the Kio/Three Generation Arc. Up until that point, the series had actually been doing good, especially with its more likable second protagonist Asemu Asuno. When Kio took over, things looked like it was going to head in that same direction, but when Kio took Kira Yamato's famed pacifism to new levels that infuriated fans, that is when AGE's quality and popularity took a nosedive. Presumably Sunrise was looking to exploit the fact that regardless of his base-breaking Hostile Show Takeover in SEED Destiny, Kira Yamato is one of the franchise's most enduringly popular characters... but it never occurred to them that just because he is popular doesn't mean a cheap knock-off would be.
  • While the Gundam franchise itself is still strong, and its merchandise and home video sales did well enough, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans's mixed reviews and low ratings stemming from Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy as well as the equally low ratings for My Hero Academia has led to the cancellation of the for the very popular Sunday 5PM slot by TBS/MBS in favor of a variety show; though the latter received a Network to the Rescue by Yomiuri TV, which is really rare in Japan given the fact that TV channels often take part in the production through fundings. note 

Zoids

  • Zoids: Fuzors is often accused of being one of these by the Zoids fanbase in North America, but it was in fact the fan-favourite Zoids: Chaotic Century that killed the franchise, having gotten such low ratings during its run on Cartoon Network that it was cancelled, with the final four episodes only being shown after complaints from the fanbase. Fuzors was more of a last-ditch effort to salvage what was already a doomed franchise.
  • In Japan, Zoids: Genesis got a so-so reception, but The Merch failed to sell, effectively dooming the chances of another Zoids anime being made any time soon, and causing Tomy to change its marketing strategy by pandering exclusively to Otaku rather than general audiences as they did before.

Other Series

  • Anime International Company's El-Hazard: The Alternative World performed poorly to the point that it was Cut Short with the show's way too many plots being wrapped up (very poorly) in only a single episode. It also killed off the El Hazard franchise, with no further work of any kind being done in the decade since. And we never get to see the Stable Time Loop established in the original The Magnificent World through to its completion.
  • After the first season aired, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya became one of the most popular anime franchises. Fans clamored for a sequel for years. Then the sequels finally happened... three years later, in 2009/2010 with a second seasonnote  and the well-received Disappearance movie. However, during those three years, the roots of death were planted: A Schedule Slip of the light novels since 2007 and still going, Kyoto Animation realizing that self-owned IPs would be economically more profitable for them in the long run than animating Kadokawa's IPs (of which Haruhi is one) and the demotion of Atsushi Ito, the Kadokawa executive who primarily pushed for Haruhi in anime form, all coalesced into no person being left around to champion for Haruhi, bringing the series to an abrupt halt. Funimation secured the North American rights to Haruhi, which was one of the last licenses that Bandai Entertainment had around the time of its shutdown. Even the first anime adaptation to be greenlit in years is an adaptation of one of its spinoffs and failed to save the Haruhi series.
  • The poor reception and behind-the-scenes issues plaguing Jewelpet: Magical Change forced it to become the final Jewelpet anime. It was also Cut Short to only 39 episodes.
  • Shugo Chara!'s third season, Party!, bombed so badly that it killed off any chances of adapting the remainder of the manga, and may have even had a hand in the abrupt demise of the manga itself.
  • The third season of the Slayers anime, which diverged from the continuity from the light novels, wasn't as well-received when it came out, but even then, most prefer it now, because the new fourth and fifth seasons that came out eleven years after it were received poorly (and not well-made - Continuity Snarl, Conspicuous CG, and extreme Flanderization of the leading heroine, all thrown together with a sloppy plot).
  • Tenchi Muyo!, another Anime International Company franchise, barely escaped this fate in 1997 with Tenchi in Tokyo. Despite having a worse reception as opposed to El-Hazard: The Alternative World in most regards, Tenchi in Tokyo managed to last for a full 26 episodes, and only set back the franchise by 5 years instead of killing it altogether. In the same timeframe, attempts to adapt Tenchi Universe to film were financial and critical failures, and the release of numerous alternate-timeline Tenchi media created a massive Continuity Snarl note . Even the negative reception of Tenchi Muyo GXP and OVA 3 (both of which went back to Masaki Kajishima's original OVA timeline) consequently caused the traditional Tenchi lineup to be put on ice for eleven years. Meanwhile, Sasami: Magical Girls Club prompted AIC to scrap any plans for a future Pretty Sammy series. After that, AIC produced War on Geminar, which didn't feature any returning characters from the franchise, and was only vaguely connected with any other part of the series. Eventually, AIC successfully revived the series when they produced shorts to promote tourism in 2014 and later produced a fourth OVA series in 2016, bringing Kajishima back to the fold as chief director.
  • The Animated Adaptation of CLAMP's Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- by Bee Train came to a screeching halt after a lackluster second season that had almost nothing but Filler episodes when there was so much more material left to adapt. Production I.G tried to Retcon it in the Tokyo Revelations OVA (the adaptation of the Acid Tokyo arc in the manga), but the damage had already been done. It doesn't help that Bee Train went dormant since 2012 and its founder and director Koichi Mashimo retired from the anime industry which any future adaptation of the series uncertain.
  • While the Pretty Cure series has always aired consistently since it first appeared, there have been aspects that have been killed off during its 11+ year run:
  • Anime no Chikara, A-1 Pictures and TV Tokyo's joint original anime project in 2010 (inspired by Fuji TV's noitaminA timeslot), was scrapped after the mediocre ratings and BD/DVD sales of its three original anime (Sound of the Sky, Night Raid 1931, and Occult Academy). Regardless of the project and the timeslot's failure, it did inspire creators to release more original anime in 2011 where some of them (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Tiger & Bunny, Ano Hana, Mawaru-Penguindrum, Hanasaku Iroha, etc.) became very successful. Aniplex president, Koichiro Natsume, mentioned in his ANN interview that a lot of lessons were learned from the project and they were able to make more successful original anime.
  • The mixed-to-negative reception and low BD/DVD sales of Blood-C nearly killed the Blood franchise. The movie, Blood-C: The Last Dark, attempted to fix the damage. While it performed modestly with home viewers, it flopped at the Japanese box office. Five years later, an Interquel entitled Blood-C: The Last Mind was released as a stage play written by Junichi Fujisaku, co-writer of the Blood-C and Blood+ and a live-action prequel of the series was released on August 2017. The stage play was released well but the live-action movie completely bombed in Japan. In the end, Production IG doesn't have plans for any new anime adaptation of Blood in the future.
  • The Umineko: When They Cry anime received negative reception and low DVD sales, putting any further adaptations of Umineko or any 07th Expansion Visual Novel series on hold.
  • Fans are probably never going to see an adaption of the Jinchuu arc of Rurouni Kenshin all thanks to the Reflections OVA which got a lot of backlash from fans including Nobuhiro Watsuki who declared it non-canon. Of course, the TV series ended 3 years before Reflections and by then, the last episodes were purely filler which wasn't received well by fans leading the show to be axed. Though years later, the success of the live-action movies made fans hoping that the Jinchuu arc will be adapted and movie producers are keen enough that they would probably show it in the future. Watsuki released a spinoff manga set after the end of the original manga in 2017 just to keep the franchise alive. The future of the franchise was put in further jeopardy after Watsuki was charged with possession of child pornography, halting production of the manga for the time being.
  • Infinite Stratos will probably never get a third season thanks to its lackluster second season and the light novels were taking too long to be released because of the author's health problems. Volume 11 and a new PC game were released in 2017 just to keep the franchise alive.
  • This isn't unheard of with anime slots (or television as a whole), and not the first time a popular timeslot was replaced. The same network used to have a Saturday 6 PM slot, for similar anime that was incredibly popular with all demographics, and was launched by the very successful and highly-rated anime, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Fullmetal Alchemist. However, starting with Blood+, ratings started to go down heavily, due to its mixed reception (though BloodCs own reception would end up making Blood+ look better in comparison) note , combined with Major's Sleeper Hit success on NHK-Education, hurt the ratings badly, with Ayakashi Ayashi being Cut Short probably marking when the network decided to put the block to sleep, after the first half of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Though a new Sunday 5 PM slot was opened up, and eventually went on to run longer and be relatively more successful. until 2017, which is mentioned in the Gundam subsection. note 
  • Robotech saw itself in freefall thanks to the failure of its toy line, which also resulted in its midquel Robotech II: The Sentinels getting only a feature-length pilot set between the events of The Macross Saga and The Robotech Masters (and happened to be a phenomenon that took down quite a few of its Western-made contemporaries, as the Genre-Killer page can attest to), and a severe miscalculation of the audience for Robotech: The Untold Story at its test screenings in Texas. While it proved to be rather successful, being a fair match for Aliens and beating the hell out of Cannon stablemate Pirates, it was discovered that more adults went to the screenings than did children, and so Cannon pulled the film until it could be further retooled. Unfortunately, it happened at a time when Cannon was drowning in its excesses, and so a proper North American release ultimately never materialized.
  • Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, from which the aforementioned The Robotech Masters was derived, proved to be the final season of the Super Dimension anthology series due in no small part to low ratings which resulted in an early cancellation and a hasty conclusion. Unsurprisingly, it's the only installment in the series, and also the only one from which Robotech was adapted, that's not yet been released on Blu-ray as of writing.

    Comic Books 
  • The Crisis Crossover Ultimatum is one of the reasons why Ultimate Marvel ended up being cancelled. It was poorly received, and ended up killing writer Jeph Loeb's career as a comic book writer as well. Several characters had died, including much of the X-Men, and many others such as the Ultimate version of Doctor Doom and Daredevil also deceased. With so many characters dead, many titles, such as Ultimate Fantastic Four and Ultimate X-Men were cancelled. Afterwards, what started as a new-reader-friendly Adaptation Distillation devolved to a strange Alternate Universe Fic with a thornier Back Story than the line than had been around since the '60s. The Ultimate Universe would finally end in Secret Wars (2015), with Ultimate Spider-Man the only remaining title at the time.
  • An odd case concerning Supergirl - the Box Office Bomb that was her movie ended up souring DC so badly that they allowed Marv Wolfman to kill her during Crisis on Infinite Earths. This also had the effect of DC declaring a "Superman is the sole survivor of Krypton" mandate that also exiled characters like Krypto the Superdog and popular villain General Zod. While a Supergirl would show up a few years later, the concept of Supergirl being Kara Zor-El, Clark's Kryptonian cousin, would not happen for 18 years afterwards.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite, the second crossover between Sonic and Mega Man, ended up pulling a hat trick and did this for four comic book series. The intention was that the crossover would use character from other Sega and Capcom series, but this meant Archie comics had to sink a lot of money into licensing fees and paying various artists to do so with the hope it would make back the money. It was also a last ditch attempt to save the Mega Man comic which was suffering in sales by that point. Sadly however the response was lukewarm at best and Archie was barely able to recoup their losses. As such the Mega Man comic was put in indefinite hiatus. Sonic Boom was cancelled not shortly after due to negative reception from the Rise of Lyric game. Ultimately, this even ended up affecting the main Sonic comic and its spin off Sonic Universe, since the crossover ended up stalling the main storylines of those series and contributed to poor sales. With all the cuts Archie was doing due to the relaunch of their own comics, July of 2017 saw them lose the publishing rights for the North American Sonic comics to IDW Publishing, who enacted a full Continuity Reboot and effectively put an end to the Archie franchise.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who was technically canceled three times: First, a break during the summer of '85 while the network deliberated over bringing it back; a six-month "hiatus" while fans badgered the BBC to restore the series to air; and finally a 16-year cooldown period before the 2005 revival. For this reason, it's debatable which serial is the one that put the original Doctor Who out of business for good. Attack of the Cybermen is a strong candidate, since it's the embodiment of everything the show's critics hated. The Trial of a Timelord arc, conceived as a last saving throw for Doctor Who, impressed no one and ended in the hiatus; the trial was comprised of four hastily-written, convoluted serials, the most baffling of which would have to be Mindwarp. This series managed to stagger on for an additional three seasons, and though it was beginning to win critics back over, the last two seasons being considered some of the best in the later Classic Season run, the BBC decided Doctor Who wasn't worth the bother. An American reboot was attempted in 1996, which resulted in the maligned Doctor Who TV Movie.
  • In 1986, ABC decided to tap Lucille Ball to star in a third spiritual successor to I Love Lucy, Life with Lucy, in which Ball's character helped run a hardware store she inherited after her husband died. ABC was so confident of Ball's track record—even though she was now 75 years old—that they gave her full creative control, and greenlit it without any pilots or market research beforehand. With Ball and a slew of I Love Lucy alumni among the cast and crew, what could possibly go wrong? Firstly, ABC scheduled the series on Saturday nights at 8 p.m., which had recently become a death slot for the network. An executive also insisted on incorporating the slapstick comedy that was a trademark of her earlier sitcoms; rather than fuel nostalgia for I Love Lucy, the notion of the 75-year-old Ball performing comedic stunts made critics and viewers fear for her life instead. Ratings for the premiere were fairly good, but when ratings began to steadily fall, ABC cancelled the series after 8 episodes; 13 were produced in total, but Ball was not informed about the cancellation until production wrapped. She was emotionally devastated, believing she was no longer wanted on TV. She died three years later.
  • Major League Baseball's Saturday afternoon Game of the Week went on a two year hiatus (1994-95) after CBS, who took over from long runner, NBC in 1990 lost half a billion dollars off of their contract. During the CBS period (1990-93), they didn't air a Saturday afternoon game for all 26 weeks of the regular season (instead covering about 18 on an inconsistent or sporadic basis). On the weeks that they didn't cover a baseball game, they would air other sports programming like golf. Even when FOX received an MLB package beginning in 1996 (following the failure of a joint venture between Major League Baseball, ABC and NBC called The Baseball Network), they didn't start their baseball coverage until Memorial Day weekend. It wasn't until 2007 (18 years after NBC aired their final GOTW), that the Game of the Week was once again broadcast for each week of the regular season.
  • Heroes Volumes 3 and 4 (both making up season 3) qualify as such. The second season was a major letdown compared to the strong premier season, but people forgave it because half the season had been derailed by the 2008 WGA strike and The Powers That Be did the best they could. When season three came along, they expected a return to form; what they got was a Random Events Plot with characters acting wildly Out of Character as the writers seemed to change their minds on key plot points three times per episode. The best-known example is Sylar's HeelĖFace Revolving Door, but it was like that with everything. By the end of that season, most of the fans had given up on it. There was a fourth season (Volume 5), and while it still had problems many of the remaining fans felt it to be something of a return to form, but by that point few people cared about the show anymore. Not only was the TV series cancelled at the end of that season, but the graphic novels were also scrapped as well, and the writers and producers couldn't even get a greenlight for a miniseries to give Heroes a proper last hurrah. NBC rebooted it in 2015 as Heroes Reborn, which is set several years later and features Noah Bennett as the nominal main character alongside a mostly new cast... which was then 'concluded' after a single season that received low ratings and mixed reviews.
  • The weak reviews and bad ratings of Law & Order: Los Angeles (despite NBC's Wolverine Publicity of the show) served to kill off that franchise in the US. However, the UK remake of the show fared better, lasting for seven seasons. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit continues to carry the torch in the US, but its continued existence seems to be almost entirely a function of ratings impotence from the rest of the network.
  • Let's Make a Deal (original run: 1963-77, plus revivals in 1980-81 and 1984-86), frequently averted this effect:
    • 1990-91: The year was flooded with mediocre game shows, many of which were one-season revivals. With original Deal host Monty Hall in semi-retirement (although he stayed on as executive producer), the 1990 Deal revival was hosted by Bob Hilton, who was far more experienced as an announcer than a host, and considered a poor fit. Due to falling ratings, Hall stepped out of retirement and hosted the rest of the season with intentions to scout out a new host for Season 2, but the show was canceled instead.
    • 1996: An "edgier" remake called Big Deal (hosted by Mark DeCarlo) lasted a whopping six episodes on FOX in 1996 (although it was slated to be Un-Cancelled in March 1997), and it went down quickly due to phony attempts at being "hip" and "modern" (and constantly being preempted for NFL doubleheaders).
    • 1998: A pilot hosted by Gordon Elliott was proposed by Buena Vista TV (Disney) but also fell through.
    • 2003: Hosted by Billy Bush for NBC, and canned after three episodes for many of the same reasons as Big Deal.
    • 2009-: With Wayne Brady as host, Let's Make a Deal has finally started thriving again on CBS daytime. Between 1993 and this version's debut, daytime television had no game shows at all other than The Price Is Right (also a CBS property).
  • By 2008, Little Britain was already suffering badly from Seasonal Rot and the Ricky Gervais-led backlash against classic Brit Coms and sketch shows. However, the Little Britain USA series proved to be the final nail in the coffin, getting awful viewing figures and critical reactions on both sides of the Atlantic, and being heavily criticized for worn-out characters and situations, the new characters being even less funny than the existing ones had become, and over-use of the Laugh Track.
  • The downfall of NBC's Thursday night "Must See TV" block, can be attributed to the combination of oversaturation of sitcoms all across NBC's line-up (to put things into proper perspective, during the 1997-98 season, NBC had about 18 sitcom slots on Mondays-Thursdays and Sunday), which for the most part seemed nearly identical to one another (i.e. multi-camera shows about young, affluent white people living in New York City), the mismanagement of Jeff Zucker (which on its own, can be considered a Dork Age of NBC), who because of his "super-sizing" concept for Friends, made it much harder to nurture another show right after it, the lack of strong shows to replace staples like Seinfeld, Frasier and Friends (which in the meantime, were usually sandwiched in-between otherwise mediocre or forgettable shows like The Single Guy, Suddenly Susan, Caroline in the City and Veronica's Closet) such as the disastrous American adaptation of Coupling, other networks' (i.e. CBS and ABC) Thursday night line-ups becoming increasingly stronger by around 2004, and The Apprentice moving into the 9 p.m. timeslot.
  • Stargate Universe was a Soap Opera IN SPACE! that couldn't be less like Stargate. Unlike many of these examples, it had a nice little fanbase, but not enough to keep it afloat, and with its failure came the official announcement of the indefinite hiatus of the awaited Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis projects - the kind of 'hiatus' that means you start dismantling sets.
  • With the 1987 premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek was once again a TV staple, and thanks to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, the franchise was still healthy in 2001. Then came Star Trek: Enterprise. Plagued with Executive Meddling, a title ambiguous to the general public, a horrible theme song, and two rather weak seasons, the third and fourth seasons, though improved, couldn't keep the show on the air, and it was cancelled in 2005, meaning there was no new Star Trek television for fans to anticipate for the first time in 18 years. And on top of that, Enterprise was given an infamously awful final episode that essentially served as a giant middle finger to the fans and cast via making it a nonsensical tie-in to The Next Generation instead of any sort of actual ending to the Enterprise story. A controversial, but lucrative reboot film by JJ Abrams seems to have resurrected the franchise.
    • RedLetterMedia's Mr. Plinkett argues that the true Franchise Killer was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Dominion War arc - though successful in itself, it showed the Federation in a state of warfare that had never been displayed by the franchise, when previously, averting such a conflict without firing a shot was usually the main plot. Everything afterward had the choice of either trying to duplicate the success of the Dominion War's high-stakes epic battles with worse writing and lower tension, or trying to go back to the old practice of teasing a conflict before resolving it peacefully, which just looked quaint now. Essentially, the Dominion War burned the series out by being a Tough Act to Follow for an entire franchise. It also did not help that the Dominion War arc was very divisive. No one's going to argue that it wasn't great television, but many old-school Trekkers saw it as a major violation of Roddenberry's ideals (bombing entire planets to get one criminal? Killing an innocent man to trick a government into joining your war? Being morally okay with both?), a higher-rent rip-off of Babylon 5's Shadow War arc (the accusation that DS9 was essentially stolen from B5 did not help), a test-run for Ron Moore's gritty and bleak Battlestar Galactica or all the above.
    • Generally most Star Trek fans blame Star Trek: Enterprise for ending the series due to uneven writing, inane plots and attempting to recreate the Kirk/Bones/Spock dynamic at the cost of the other characters of the show. Add an unlikable Captain who takes his dog on diplomatic missions and abandons said mission when his dog gets hurt. Then you get a show that not only kills the franchise but forces a reset of the whole universe in order to make it marketable again.
      • Chuck Sonnenburg of SF Debris points to the episode "A Night in Sickbay" as the breaking point for both Enterprise and the franchise as a whole, referring to how the episode in question received fairly high rantings when it aired, but the show's overall rantings started plummeting afterwards and never managed to recover from this downwards spiral, despite attempts to retool the show, and the otherwise well-received fourth season would turn out to be the last.
  • As detailed here, the Super Sentai Series had been on a gradual ratings slump from 1986's Choushinsei Flashman until its nadir in 1990's Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman, not helped by some serious mismanagement killing toy sales.note  However, just when Toei was ready to pull the plug on Sentai, the next season became a smash hit, with high ratings due in part to a Periphery Demographic and toy sales.
    • Years later, Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters did so poorly sales- and ratings-wise that it's rumored that Bandai actually approached Toei and Saban Brands and asked them to skip it in favor of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, leading to the creation of Power Rangers Dino Charge.note  Not only that, but the annual crossover essentially derailed it from being a crossover between Go-Busters and Kyoryuger to basically "hey, let's get the other two Dinosaur Sentai together!", with the Go-Busters getting little-to-no additional closure. This is additionally telling with that crossover's post-credits scene where an upgraded version of Go-Busters' Big Bad shows up, completely late for the movie and ends up getting defeated by the passing-by Sentai cameo.
    • In the West, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive was the defining factor in Disney's grinding the franchise to a halt and selling it back to Saban in 2010.note  The only reason Power Rangers Jungle Fury and Power Rangers RPM were made (2007-08 and 2009 resp.) was because Jetix Europe and Bandai respectively asked them to for each series.
  • Although Kamen Rider has avoided this fatenote , the same cannot be said for the show that used to hold the position of airing alongside Sentai series, Metal Heroesnote . Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack, which increased the Lighter and Softer elements that had been introduced with B-Robo Kabutack and was aimed more towards kids, had such low ratings that Toei ultimately decided to pull the plug. While the series has seen new movies as of late, said movies are revivals of already existing shows, and no new TV series have been made since.
  • The combination of aging sitcoms like Family Matters and Step by Step moving to CBS (who started (and ended) their own family-friendly Friday night sitcom line-up in 1997-98 called "The Block Party"), the oversaturation of supernatural/magic type shows (Sabrina the Teenage Witch and new series You Wish and Teen Angel, which both lasted only one season), the failure of Two of a Kind (which was the last sitcom produced by the previously reliable Miller-Boyett group) starring the Olsen twins the following year, and ultimately the ending of Boy Meets World after seven seasons and Sabrina... moving to The WB after the 1999-2000 season, killed off ABC's TGIF block (although ABC would bring back the TGIF brand for the 2003-05 seasons).
  • Double Dare had a respectable seven year run and even continued for a few years afterward in re-runs. Then came Double Dare 2000 which was cancelled after two half-seasons, and panned for having an overly loud overbearing host/announcer team who paled in comparison to the iconic Marc Summers/Harvey. Since then, there have been no plans to revive the franchise.
  • CSI: Cyber did not necessarily kill the CSI franchise, but it was the final nail in the coffin. The franchise's popularity had waned in recent years, with the original show and spin-offs being shuttered in the four years leading up to Cyber's premiere. Cyber launched concurrent with the flagship's final seasons and struggled from the beginning with mixed reviews and low ratings. As many fans noted itís not the same as the original CSI and there are a lot of mistakes which would made an IT expert (or in some cases, anyone who used a computer) roll their eyes. Changes in the second season failed to bring in viewers and Cyber closed out the sixteen-year-long franchise with a reduced season.

    Music 
  • The violence at Altamont killed not only Meredith Hunter but the whole idea of the "peace, love and music" late-'60s outdoor rock festival that Monterey had pioneered and Woodstock made legendary.
  • Similarly, after the violent and criminal tragedies of Woodstock '99, the owners of the Woodstock name have gone on record to say it will never be used again.
  • The death blow to The Love Parade was delivered by the stampede at the 2010 event, where bad design of the location led to the death of 21 people.
  • Australia's Big Day Out festival seems to have been killed by its disastrous 2014 shows. Two shows were planned for Sydney, but the second was cancelled after Blur pulled out and many people accepted the offer of a refund. Most ticketholders treated the event as a very expensive Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire double bill. The festival's director AJ Maddah then stepped down and sold his share to the Texan company C3 Presents, which was already a part owner. C3 has not staged a Big Day Out in the two years since.
  • Guided By Voices' album Same Place the Fly Got Smashed was almost this. Frustrated by their lack of success, the band intended Propeller to be their last album, but that album was far more popular than any that came before it and led to even greater success later on.
  • Linkin Park's 2017 record One More Light was initially this due to its change to a poppy, emotional sound alienating old fans in droves and failing to attract new fans due to the group being long ignored by radio programmers. Since the suicide of Chester Bennington two months later, it's been viewed in a more sympathetic manner.

    Tabletop Games 

    Web Original 
  • In 2009 and 2010, EQAL, the production company behind lonelygirl15, ran a contest called The Show Is Yours for fans of the show to create an officially-sponsored, canonical spinoff. With the Great Recession causing them to struggle financially, EQAL had to put LG15: the resistance (the franchise's flagship show at the time) on hiatus, leading to this effort to crowdsource the show — which was already struggling under the weight of a Kudzu Plot and multiple spinoffs — and use it as a springboard to launch a social network called Umbrella. The first spinoff produced through The Show Is Yours, LG15: The Last, mostly came and went uneventfully, but the second one, LG15: Outbreak, was a disaster that suffered from a heavily Troubled Production. Gregory Austin McConnell, the creator of Outbreak, goes into more detail here about what went wrong. The Show Is Yours, and Outbreak in particular, essentially ended the franchise for six years until a revival was announced in 2016.

    Western Animation 
  • The failure of The Avengers: United They Stand was the final nail in the coffin of the (loosely defined, but still there) Marvel animated universe that aired on Fox Kids throughout the '90s. All subsequent Marvel cartoons have taken place in other continuities and aired on other networks. It wouldn't be until Ultimate Spider-Man that Marvel would nurture the idea of a shared animated universe againnote .
  • After Beast Machines there was supposed to be a sequel series (complete with prototype toys made) called Transtech and it would have continued even further into the series timeline. While Beast Machines still had solid ratings, the reception was mediocre and the toys themselves were subpar and didn't sell. Recognizing they had taken the Beast era franchise as far as it could go, Hasbro scrapped Transtech and imported Transformers: Robots in Disguise while they worked on a complete Continuity Reboot with Transformers Armada. This did have the interesting effect of splitting Transformers into many Alternate Universes rather than just Alternate Continuities.
  • Blue's Clues has several moments that potentially killed the show. Steve Burns leaving in 2002 was the first one. For some reason, some parents and fans of Steve just didn't find Donovan Patton Adorkable enough. However, the show managed to pull on for another 5 years with Patton as host. The second, much clearer one, was the Spin-Off, Blue's Room, in 2006. The many inexplicable changes made to the spinoff- specifically, non-appearance of many of the cast from the main show and that Blue can now talk, aside from the change to puppetry, gave the franchise one year to live before production of both shows ceased in 2007 and the franchise slowly faded off of Nick Jr.
  • Ever wondered why you don't hear much about Felix the Cat anymore outside of merchandising or that 2004 direct-to-video film? You can pin the blame on the failure of Felix the Cat: The Movie. Lull Destruction, poor animation and lip-syncing, a Random Events Plot (and a poorly executed one at that) and numerous plot holes can make this movie painful to watch for even the most avid Felix fan. The 90's cartoon The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat attempted to revive the franchise, but poor ratings for the first season, prompting an unsuccessful retool in the second season (which did even worse in ratings), quickly brought Felix to an early grave yet again. Don Oriolo, who formerly held the rights to the character and related intellectual property, then tried to bring Felix to the CGI world in the form of another cartoon, but that went nowhere and the rights to Felix and related properties were eventually passed on to DreamWorks Animation and Universal. Neither studio has a concrete plan to resurrect Felix.
    • Even before those was the failure of the early 30's sound cartoons; Pat Sullivan made little effort to upgrade the Felix cartoons to sound (not helped by his private life being in shambles due to his wife's alleged suicide and his heavy alcoholism) and when he did, they were rushed, sloppy, and far behind the times, resulting in the Felix cartoon series getting forgotten by the far more popular Mickey Mouse shorts—Sullivan's subsequent death put the final nail in the coffin for his animation studio. An attempt to revive the cartoons was done in the mid 1930's by Van Beuren Studios; while the cartoons were seemingly well received despite having little in common with the character's previous appearances, when RKO negated Van Beuren's contract in favor of distributing Disney, it caused Van Beuren to go belly-up, thus sending Felix to an early grave yet again, after only three color shorts. What caused the franchise to not fully die out, is that despite the cartoons being put on ice, Felix still ran in newspaper and magazine comics for quite a long time.
  • After the second season of Gargoyles, creator Greg Weisman jumped ship, and a third season called Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles sank the franchise on TV. Greg wrote a comic series to replace the third season, but unfortunately it didn't sell well enough to keep up once Disney hiked up the licensing fee.
  • The Holly Hobbie and Friends direct-to-DVD series has an interesting case of this when the producers of the show decided to change several aspects of the franchise from the fifth DVD on. Said DVD, Fabulous Fashion Show, was so badly reviewed across the board, with an overall 1.3/5 on Amazon with 18 reviews, compared to 4+ star averages for the others, that it all but killed the franchise. The subsequent DVD, Marvelous Makeover, rebounded to 3.3 stars, but the various changes that had been made to the series, such as moving to 22 minute stories and replacing most of the voices, were still generally poorly regarded. Making things worse was the shoddy voice replacement job- the new cast sounds nothing like the old one, and while they opted to use a Non-Singing Voice for the titular character, the singing voice and speaking voice wasn't even matched either. Aside from that, the characterizations were all botched and the characters were passing the Idiot Ball around. The show's final picture book release was seen a bit later in 2008, and afterwards, production on all media was discontinued entirely.
  • Universal released an animated The Jetsons feature film in 1990, complete with Conspicuous CG, a Green Aesop played out with a Gang of Critters that was essentially a rewrite of an old episode of Star Trek, and reuniting nearly all of the surviving original cast membersnote  save for Judy Jetson being voiced not by Janet Waldo but by '80s pop starlet Tiffany thanks to Executive Meddling. The film also marked the last performance ever of noted voice artist Mel Blanc (Mr. Spacely), who was still recording while in the hospital (as he had years before then) and died before the film was completed, as well as George O'Hanlon (George), who by that point had to have the lines read and acted to him before recording, who also passed away before he could quite finish the film. Both Blanc and O'Hanlon's remaining lines had to be completed by Jeff Bergman Penny Singleton did not die during production like Blanc and O'Hanlon, but the movie remained her last acting role until her death thirteen years later. Coming on the heels of the 1980s Jetsons revival (the new syndicated episodes and two TV movies), this film's disappointing box office and harsh critical reviews were apparently enough to send the franchise back into hibernation. It has stayed there ever since, a potential live-action film being stuck in Development Hell for years notwithstanding. A direct-to-video film crossing over with WWE was released in 2017.
  • In a rare example of a character being a one-person Franchise Killer, Elmyra managed to be the prime cause for the untimely demise of Pinky and the Brain. This is even pointed out in the new theme song for Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain:
  • The negative reception and ratings failure of Planet Sheen has killed off all interest in the Jimmy Neutron franchise in the forseeable future.
  • The abrupt cancellation of Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon put the series on the kibosh, as no plans to revive the series have come about. The lackluster sales of the DVD sets didn't help this. It also helped put an early end to the entirety of the then-new Spike's animation block, thus taking down Stripperella (which was also hampered by a lawsuit) and Gary the Rat along with it, although the former was at least popular enough once it hit DVD... only to see more negative reception pile on over the years.
  • Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights helped to kill off the franchises of Yogi Bearnote  and Magilla Gorilla, as this was Magilla's last animated appearance, and the final cartoon by Hanna-Barbera to feature Yogi Bear and Scooby-Doo, although the latter was revived with great success in 1998 by Warner Bros. with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, making Scooby a Cash Cow Franchise for them in the years since. Yogi Bear has since had a few new cartoons by John Kricfalusi, but hardly anybody's seen them, as well as a financially successful, but critically ravaged, live-action film.
  • The ratings failure of Super Mario World, along with the cancellation of Captain N: The Game Master and the closure of NBC's Saturday morning cartoon block, killed off any further attempts to keep the Super Mario Bros. on television. The only subsequent Super Mario Bros.-related television series made since then was The Super Mario Challenge, a live-action game show from the United Kingdom that aired and ended around the same time as World (although one could also count the Donkey Kong Country CGI cartoon). However, Super Mario World may be one of the rarest examples of a cartoon being Vindicated by YouTube Poop.
  • The Rugrats: Tales From the Crib series was a direct-to-DVD series of Fractured Fairy Tale-esque movies, which attempted to make the original series popular again after it ended. However, there were only two entries in the series; "Snow White" and "Three Jacks and a Beanstalk", as the latter failed to impress. This also forced the "Pre-School Daze" spin-off (which had its episodes included as bonuses on the DVDs) to end at only four episodes.
  • The failure of Beware the Batman (not helped by lack of advertising and few reruns), along with the success of Teen Titans Go!, led to the death of DC Nation as well as action-adventure series on Cartoon Network (at least, those without heavy comedy elements) in general for the next three years.
    • Regarding family friendly DC animated shows, the creators and producers started relying more on DVD and digital services, along with sites like YouTube, hence the longevity of shows like DC Super Hero Girls .
  • With The Boondocks, when series creator Aaron McGruder left after Season 3 due to a contract dispute with Sony Pictures and [adult swim], Season 4 was developed without him. Due to heavy fan backlash against what would be the show's final season, along with aborted plans for a crowdfunded live-action feature-film based around the supporting character Uncle Ruckus, it's unlikely that the franchise will continue.
  • Dora the Explorer, Nickelodeon's longest-running pre-school show, got cancelled after it was losing in ratings to Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. Nickelodeon got jealous of how popular those shows were, and decided to create Dora And Friends: Into The City!, an aged-up spin-off where Dora and her friends help others in their city by using magical charm bracelets to cash in on how both shows had characters who used magical items to help their friends. However, it failed for quite a few reasons: First, Dora's animal friends from the older series, as well as Swiper, were replaced by human girls and a boy. Secondly, Nickelodeon made the decision to schedule it against the two aforementioned Disney Junior shows and Teen Titans Go! note  repeats. The third reason was that the timeslot of the show was often shuffled around, and many episodes had months-long delays. Another reason was that the toys for the show were poorly made and often broke apart. However, the biggest reason was that their newer program Paw Patrol was becoming a massive hit amongst preschool aged kids, so Nick started cashing in on that instead. After the failure of the show, Nickelodeon pulled it from their morning schedule and shoved any Dora-related content in early-morning or late-night timeslots to hide their shame on the Nick Jr. channel.
  • The ratings bomb that was Sonic Underground led to DIC Entertainment losing the license to produce Sonic the Hedgehog television series and left the West without an in-house Sonic cartoon for 15 years, until Sonic Boom in 2014. Unlike the previous series, however, Sonic Boom is co-produced by Sega in-house.
  • The poor scheduling by networks of The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin led to the death of any new stories being produced for the Teddy Ruxpin franchise, and also had a hand in bankrupting Worlds of Wonder.
  • Hey Arnold!: Despite making five times its budget, Hey Arnold! The Movie was still considered a Box Office Bomb and was critically panned. The failure of this film led to the cancellation of Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (until it was Uncancelled 15 years later) and likely why the remaining episodes of Hey Arnold! were aired sporadically until the final one aired in 2004, three years after production of the series ended.

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