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Franchise Killer
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.

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 so that no one can continue it without using Prequels, Retcons or just rebooting the whole thing.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 

Gundam

  • The 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. The last televised installment to take place in the Universal Century continuity, Victory Gundam 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 shows 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 ∀ Gundam (although the series continued on Video and Film with The 08th MS Team and Endless Waltz). It was not until the massively successful Mobile Suit 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 SyFy revived the franchise by airing Mobile Suit Gundam 00.
  • Its sequel 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 SyFy, 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.
    • A movie meant to tie up the Cosmic Era timeline has been stuck in Development Hell for years (due to the declining health of one of the writers), and its fate is uncertain.
    • And well before the fallout of G Gundam and Gundam SEED, there was Toonami's broadcast of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, a series that was made in 1979 and has yet to receive any sort of modernization. It didn't help that Mobile Suit Gundam was following onto Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, a series that (at the time) was one of the more modern Gundam series (made in the 90s and all). The result? Mobile Suit Gundam never finished its initial run, with Cartoon Network claiming that it had been pulled due to 9/11. 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 no less), and as a result Toonami ran the final two episodes of the series (specifically the Battle of A Bao A Qu) 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 darkest 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. The overall reaction and viewership decline of the series resulted in Gundam being kicked off of the Tokyo Broadcasting System, where it had been part of the lineup for years. 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.

Other Series

  • The anime Digimon Frontier, which followed the popular Digimon Tamers, killed the anime franchise for three years due to leaning back on a Henshin Hero concept instead of the Mons that the entire intellectual property is based on.
  • 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 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 El-Hazard: The Magnificent World through to its completion.
  • After the first season aired, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the hottest otaku property around. Fans clamoured 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. What little did anyone know at the time is that during those three years and counting were planted the roots of death: 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 man at Kadokawa who primarily pushed for Haruhi in anime form, all coalesced into no person being left around to champion for Haruhi, and so the series died a slow and painful death out of inactivity; nowadays, it's only the hardcore fans left wanting a third season. It's also telling that out of all the major properties for which Bandai Entertainment still had licenses at the time it left the North American anime market, Haruhi is the only one of them whose license has yet to be picked up by another company. Even the first anime adaptation to be greenlit in years is an adaptation of one of its spinoffs.
  • Shugo Chara!'s third season, Party! bombed so badly that it prevented the rest of the manga from getting adapted, and may have even had a hand in the manga itself's abrupt demise.
  • 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 one year earlier with Tenchi in Tokyo. Despite being in most regards worse than El-Hazard: The Alternative World, 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 the big screen were financial and critical failures, and the release of numerous alternate-timeline Tenchi media created a massive Continuity Snarl note . The poor critical and fan reception of GXP and OVA 3 (both of which went back to Kajishima's original OVA timeline) put a nail in the coffin for the traditional Tenchi lineup, and Sasami Magical Girls Club killed the Pretty Sammy stuff. What would come after (War on Geminar) didn't feature any returning characters from the franchise, and only vaguely connected with any other part of Tenchi. The only thing the franchise has going for it now are shorts to promote tourism.
  • The Animated Adaptation of CLAMP's Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 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. They 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.
  • Subverted with Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO! GO!. Its unpopularity both ratings and sales wise caused Bandai to make each season a stand-alone instead of a sequel to the previous one.
  • Zoids: Fuzors is often accused of being one of these by the English-speaking Zoids fanbase, 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.
    • Similarly, in Japan, Zoids Genesis was a franchise killer; the anime 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.

    Films — Animation 

Disney

  • There was actually a counter-service restaurant at Walt Disney World that opened in 1986 (replacing the "Lancer's Inn" that was around since the park's opening in 1971) called "Gurgi's Munchies and Crunchies" that was supposed to promote The Black Cauldron. Though the movie flopped, the restaurant itself lasted until 1992 (it was first replaced by a Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant called "Lumiere's Kitchen", and now replaced with a Robin Hood-themed restaurant called "The Friar's Nook"). That said, no further movies based on the Chronicles of Prydain have been made since.
    • There was once a show at Tokyo Disneyland called "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" that focused on all of the Disney villains up to the Horned King. Similar to the restaurant example above, the show lasted long after Disney had given up on the franchise, running for over twenty years after the film was released.
    • The Black Cauldron itself almost became the franchise killer of the entire Disney Animated Canon. It cost the studio so much money they could only barely manage to get back up. Understandably, it took Cauldron till 1998 to get released on home video, though the success of The Little Mermaid was also to blame for that (Disney did intend to release Cauldron on video back in 1989).
    • To a lesser extent, Home on the Range killed Disney's traditional animation department and made them move into CGI. An attempt to move back into traditional animation in the late 2000s/early 2010s with The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh seemingly went nowhere as the two films (especially Pooh) underperformed at the box office, thus resulting in 10 members of the staff in the traditional animation department laid off.note 
  • The failure of DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp killed off any chance of a sequel, and also prevented the making of movies based on Darkwing Duck and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Originally, there was actually going to be a third film based on The Jungle Book where Baloo and Shere Khan are both captured and sold off of a circus, and as a result Mowgli, Shanti, and Bagheera actually all had to save them both. And over the course of the film, Shere Khan (who went into Knight of Cerebus mode in the second) would have actually regretted his hatred against humanity because of his capture and would have eventually reformed over the course of the film. However, due to the commercial and critical failure of The Jungle Book 2, this film was ultimately scrapped, and Khan's fate at the end of the sequel remained ambiguous.
  • Similarly to The Jungle Book above, there was originally going to be a third film in The Rescuers movie series. However, due to Down Under's financial failure (it's the only animated Disney movie released during The Renaissance Age of Animation for the studio, to ever suffer this fate), combined with the death of actress Eva Gabor (who voiced Miss Bianca), the idea for a third Rescuers movie was scrapped.

Other

  • The failure of Happy Feet 2 at the box office pretty much put the kibosh on a potential Happy Feet film series. To this day even George Miller isn't sure how he's going to pull off a third film.
  • When Looney Tunes: Back in Action failed in the box office, a new batch of Looney Tunes shorts being made for theaters were cancelled in mid-production. Heck, even future Tom and Jerry shorts that were pre-conceived at the same time were canned and tossed away.
    • The failure of the film pretty much caused the Looney Tunes (who were still riding off from their successful entries into television and feature films) to nearly fade into obscurity until around 2010-2011 (Looney Tunes were even canceled from television reruns in October 2004 until being put back in regular rotation on Cartoon Network in March 2011), mostly with the introduction of The Looney Tunes Show.
  • The critical failure of Rugrats Go Wild! (a crossover film between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys) actually prevented the making of a fourth Rugrats film and a third Wild Thornberries film.
  • The critical (but not financial, as it was the second-biggest moneymaker in the series) failure of Shrek the Third resulted in Dreamworks abandoning their planned fifth film Shrek Pleads the Fifth, and instead made the fourth installment, Shrek Forever After, the final entry of the film franchise. Forever After was followed by a Surprisingly Improved Spinoff, Puss in Boots. Jeffrey Katzenberg still hopes the fifth movie may happen.
  • The critical and financial failure of the infamous Tom and Jerry: The Movie (the one where the famously silent cat-and-mouse duo talk and sing) prevented the making of another theatrical Tom and Jerry film. Warner Bros. has been said to be working a live action-CG hybrid for the characters, but nothing is currently known.
  • The disappointing sales for Wonder Woman led to the cancellation of a planned adaptation of Batgirl: Year One. The subsequent failure of Green Lantern: First Flight led to the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line steering clear of any film not starring Batman, Superman, or the Justice League. To make matters worse, the Green Lantern live action movie wasn't successful either.

    Films — Live-Action 

Comedy franchises

  • The first two Beverly Hills Cop installments were the second and third-highest-grossing films of 1984 and 1987 respectively. The third wasn't released until 1994, when it was treated as a desperate attempt to revive Eddie Murphy's floundering career (Murphy would later disown Cop III while appearing on Inside the Actors Studio). As it turns out, Cop III ended up number 34 on the list of 1994's top-grossing films, barely beating Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground and earning $2M less than Jean-Claude Van Damme's Timecop, leaving the franchise dead in the water. (Eddie Murphy admitted that the scripts that he was offered for a potential Cop IV never really felt right.) A pilot TV series for CBS centered on Axel Foley's son was created, but CBS dropped it. However, the interest surrounding the pilot was able to get a fourth film (once again) greenlit with Murphy reprising his iconic role.
  • The first two Crocodile Dundee films were tremendous hits, each grossing over $100 million at the North American box office alone. However, series star Paul Hogan and company took thirteen long years before making a third Croc picture, which ultimately underperformed at the box office (opening at #4 and grossing roughly $25 million domestically). Besides the long gap in-between the previous film, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles seemed less serious than the previous two films (coming off as more of a broad family comedy) with a plot that felt left over from Beverly Hills Cop.
  • After Home Alone 3 flopped at the box office, FOX didn't release another Home Alone movie in theaters again-the next two movies were instead Direct-to-TV releases.
  • The Pink Panther film franchise played this trope straight, three times:
    • Peter Sellers had written a script for a Grand Finale movie titled Romance of the Pink Panther and submitted it to United Artists just before suddenly suffering a fatal heart attack. The project was ultimately canceled and producer Blake Edwards (who was supposed to have no involvement with Romance) decided to continue the series, writing out Inspector Clouseau and replacing him with American scrappy Clifton Sleigh and taking deleted scenes from the fifth film to make two additional films that were shot simultaneously: Trail of... and Curse of.... The poor taste of these films resulted in Sellers' widow successfully suing Edwards and the studio for defamation, and internal requests for additional films were rejected.
    • An attempted continuation of the franchise, Son of the Pink Panther, replaced Sleigh with Clouseau's illegitimate son (played by then up-and-coming actor Roberto Benigni). It was an enormous failure, receiving heavy criticism for Benigni's performance from both critics and fans alike. A sequel was then pretty much inadmissible. It also was a Creator Killer for Edwards (he ended up retiring from film after Son's massive failure became too much for him) - as it was, in another sense, for composer Henry Mancini (whose final film it was).
    • In 2006, the original story was given a major, modernized retooling, with Steve Martin filling in for Sellers for his Clouseau character and dismissing the events of Trail of..., Curse of... and Son of.... The film was ravaged by critics, but performed well at the box office. The studio, viewing the film as a Cult Classic, decided to order a sequel for release in 2009. That sequel underperformed the first film and was discovered to be even worse, thus putting plans for a third, trilogy-making to a screeching halt. Odds are, it seems unlikely that another Pink Panther film will see the light of day (and thanks to the studio's bankruptcy, the future of the franchise seems to be certain).
  • Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow was released just before Labor Day weekend to a staggering gross of barely over $100,000. While this was a franchise that had been slowly withering since Steve Guttenberg left after the fourth film, that wasn't even a tenth of what Police Academy 6 had managed to pull in. By then, film critics who used to curse the films' success had completely forgotten it even existed. A relaunch is expected in 2014.
  • Vegas Vacation was so out of touch with the previous films that it wasn't just this to the National Lampoon's Vacation series, but presumably to the remnants of the original National Lampoon magazine as well.
    • The decline largely due to the sharp drop in financial profits for the magazine in the late 1980s, causing the magazine to be published less frequently by 1986. Vegas Vacation appears to have been the breaking point for the once-beloved humor magazine.
  • Muppets from Space received mixed reviews and flopped at the box office, and consequently caused The Muppets film series to be put on ice for twelve years, though Disney spending the 2000s decade securing the Muppets license among other Jim Henson franchises is also to blame (which is also why Jim Henson Productions's film division has not produced a Muppet film since). Disney would later successfully bring the Muppets back to the silver screen at the start of The New Tens with The Muppets.
  • Dorm Daze was released in a limited amount of theaters and did O.K. enough to get a Direct-to-DVD sequel in 2006. Then, for some reason, Dorm Daze 3 or Transylmania was actually released nationwide in 2009 and only grossed $397,000 dollars on a $10 million dollar budget and a $15 million dollar marketing budget. Another movie in the franchise hasn't been produced since.

Drama franchises

  • Sadly, the four-hour epic movie Gettysburg, based on a novel by Michael Shaara, had its franchise killed by the abominably executed sequel/prequel Gods and Generals, based on the novel written by Michael's son Jeff Shaara, which had promised a third entry, The Last Full Measure, also based on the Jeff Shaara book. The shocking thing about Gods and Generals is that there was a lot of very good material that wasn't used; in effect, the whole franchise was killed by bad editing.
    • Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, both Gods and Generals and Gettysburg were released on Blu-ray with new scenes added. Gettysburg just had a few small scenes added, whereas Gods and Generals got just about everything that was originally taken out of it put back in, greatly improving the film. Had this version been the one released in theaters, we'd have seen a film of The Last Full Measure by now.
  • While the first two films in The Godfather franchises are regarded as classics, The Godfather Part III is considered much less so. That, and director Francis Ford Coppola's declining health, effectively killed discussions about a fourth film. (Mario Puzo dying prevented the rumours from coming back.)

Fantasy/Sci-fi franchises

  • Alien: Resurrection differs so much from the tone of its predecessors and eliminates so much of the series' mythology (like the USCM and Weyland-Yutani) that it managed to kill a franchise that even Alien³ couldn't kill.
  • Conan the Destroyer was critically panned and didn't perform well at the box office, dropping many things of what made the original what it was, plus its Lighter and Softer tone turning away fans of the first movie while failing to attract younger audiences. Its flop put a possible third Conan movie into Development Hell, and the Red Sonja movie, where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an obvious Captain Ersatz of Conan, discredited the whole idea of adapting Howard's works for more than 20 years (the only attempt, Kull the Conqueror, was a flop).
  • The film of Eragon inexplicably altered so many plotlines and cut so much (even given it is based on a Door Stopper), including the entire Dwarf race that a sequel based on the plot of the second book would have been impossible even if it wasn't an awful film.
  • The Godzilla films made during the Turn of the Millennium had tepid box office performances, so Toho decided to make Godzilla Final Wars as a Grand Finale to the Millennium series while they put the franchise on temporary hiatus. Of course, even if they hadn't planned to shelf the King of the Monsters for the time being, they probably would've done so anyway after Final Wars ended up being the lowest-grossing of all the Millennium films. Toho eventually gave American company Legendary Pictures the rights for a 2014 reboot, but it doesn't seem that Toho themselves will be producing another Godzilla movie anytime soon.
  • The Highlander franchise has had numerous sequels and spinoffs of dubious quality, but it was finally killed off for good by the dire Made-for-TV Movie Highlander: The Source.
  • Jurassic Park III. A fourth film languished in Development Hell, but when Michael Crichton died, producer Kathleen Kennedy initially decided against making more, and then, in a subversion, Steven Spielberg revealed at 2011's Comic-Con that a fourth film should be released within the next two to three years. There are hopes to build a new trilogy around Jurassic World, as it's being called, so we'll have to wait and see how that goes.
  • The Matrix Revolutions received so much criticism for being anticlimactic and not as action-packed as its predecessors that the Matrix craze quickly faded out. Then again, there may have been no particular plans to try to continue the franchise beyond that point.
  • RoboCop 3 was critically panned for its banal subject matter compared to the previous two installments and, when audiences took notice, flopped at the box office and single-handedly killed the RoboCop franchise for over twenty-one years. Between that time, attempts to continue the popularity of the franchise through a second animated television series, a comic book series, a live-action miniseries and a video game from Titus Software didn't really help matters. A Continuity Reboot released in 2014 received lukewarm reviews and despite recouping its budget globally, it fell roughly $80 million behind a $130 million budget (with the $30 million of that budget spent on marketing costs, which added to the dismal results) domestically, possibly thanks to opening the week after The Lego Movie, which retained its number one spot at the box office while the RoboCop reboot grossed an abysmal $21.5 million on its first weekend. The franchise may yet again be withheld from cinema screens as a result of the disappointing performance domestic-wise.
  • Mortal Kombat, while not a blockbuster hit, is a decent action flick. The second movie, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, is a slopfest of one-shot character cameos, terrible dialogue, and (for the series) an inexplicable plot. After several rumors of a possible sequel/reboot by New Line were killed by Warner Bros. buying the Mortal Kombat franchise and all rights therein from the ashes of Midway Games, WB opted for the cheaper idea of a Web Original series, Mortal Kombat Legacy, instead of a movie.
  • Planet of the Apes initially died with the terrible Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Tim Burton's movie in 2001 made some money, but the proposed sequel was scrapped. In all fairness, each Apes sequel was written to be the last in the series, and further movies were only created because 20th Century Fox demanded them. Battle merely put a end to needlessly prolonging the series, which had already wrapped up its loose ends in the previous films anyway. The franchise was later successfully rebooted with the critically-acclaimed release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011.
  • Terminator Salvation not only apparently killed off the movie franchise (it was intended to be part one of a second trilogy), but also the company that made it. The rights went on sale, but no one was that interested and they ended up in the possession of...a hedge fund that had invested in the company. In 2011, it was reported that Annapurna Films (led by Megan Ellison, daughter of the Oracle founder) had bought the rights, and two years later the fifth movie, a reboot called Terminator: Genesis (still with Arnold) was dated for 2015.

Horror franchises

  • After the surprise success of The Blair Witch Project, plans were made for a trilogy, but the second movie, Book of Shadows, killed those dreams.
  • Halloween: Resurrection (and Producer Existence Failure) killed the original series.
  • The Hellraiser franchise is an odd case. Hellraiser: Bloodline was the last theatrical release in the series before it became a string of straight-to-video Dolled-Up Installments, but it was better received critically than Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, which most fans agree derailed the whole series.
  • The Jaws franchise died with the flop Jaws: The Revenge, which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 0%. This film, along with the other two sequels to Jaws, were made thanks to constant Executive Meddling, and consequently were made without the involvement of Steven Spielberg, the original film's director. Many fans of the original film also tend to disavow the existence of the sequels. The film also destroyed the shark movie genre as today's shark movies are not taken seriously.
  • With the exception of a few direct-to-video films, The Mummy franchise laid dormant through most of the 2000s. That changed in 2008 with the release of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, an attempt at reviving the franchise with a new director and a mostly new cast. Although there were plans in place to continue the film series well beyond that movie, Dragon Emperor pretty much killed off any remaining interest that the public had in the franchise. A Darker and Edgier reboot has since been announced.
  • The A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise self-terminated with the combination of the fifth film, The Dream Child, in 1989 and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991. The former film was poorly received by fans and was the lowest-grossing film in the franchise up to that point, causing New Line to pull the trigger with Freddy's Dead, a film that, despite making a bit more money, is today regarded as the series' rock bottom.
  • Saw VI was by no means a flop, earning $68.2 million against a $11.5 million budget. However, it was by far the lowest-grossing film in the series, and when combined with the failure of other "Torture Porn" films at the box office and the blockbuster success of Paranormal Activity, the film that Saw VI competed with that October (and which couldn't have been more different in terms of tone), Lionsgate saw the writing on the wall and pulled the plug after the next installment. While Saw 3D: The Final Chapter was a hit, it wasn't enough to save the series.
  • Scream (1996) and Scream 2 each made just over $100 million at the domestic box office, while Scream 3 clocked in at just under $90 million. Scream 4 didn't even reach the $40 million mark (although it's far from universally loathed, and is the only film in the series to have done better outside North America). Having a gap between the third and fourth films longer than the period in which all three previous films were released may not have helped. (Of course, so did Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but that was the second most successful film of its year - unlike Sidney Prescott, Indy is a genuine icon.)
    • Only the movies may have been killed (the studio says a fifth and maybe sixth film are possible, but writer Kevin Williamson stated he's not interested), because MTV is doing a Scream TV series.
  • The Hannibal Lector series seemed to have come to a close in 2001 with the release of the film adaptation of Red Dragon, rounding out what was until then a trilogy of film adaptations of Thomas Harris's trilogy of Hannibal books, all helmed by Anthony Hopkins portraying the titular Hannibal Lector character. Then Dino De Laurentiis announced he was producing a Hannibal prequel/origin film and told the series's author Thomas Harris that if Harris didn't write a book for the film to be based on, he would produce it without Harris's involvement. Harris complied and the results were the 2006 book Hannibal Rising and a 2007 film adaptation of the same name. The book received a mixed reaction, while the movie received a negative critical reception and (unlike the previous three films) was a box office disappointment, convincing the series' author Thomas Harris from further continuing the Hannibal Lector book series (and by extension the film franchise as well). The series as a whole was dead in the water until it got a Continuity Reboot on the small screen six years later, which lacks any input from Harris whatsoever and is an original prequel series to Red Dragon (though showrunner Bryan Fuller still plans to adapt the events of the original three books at some point in the show).

Superhero franchises

DC Comics

Marvel Comics

  • The Blade series died off when Blade: Trinity underperformed and gained a poor reaction from critics and fans, leading to the film's star Wesley Snipes suing New Line Cinema (which distributed the films) and director David S. Goyer for cutting him out of the filmmaking process. Snipes also going to federal jail for tax evasion didn't help matters much, either, and pretty much ensured that the series will never continue. The film rights have since reverted back to Marvel.
  • The Daredevil movie wasn't quite bad enough to kill Daredevil 2. Elektra, on the other hand, was. That film and Halle Berry's Catwoman squashed rumors of a new spate of super-heroine movies.
    • Which was also not helped by a sudden glut of similarly themed Action Girl movies coming out at the same time as well, such as Ultraviolet and Ĉon Flux, which were also lambasted by critics for being poor-to-mediocre in most aspects.
    • Fox did at one point have plans to completely reboot the Daredevil/Elektra franchise in the early 2010s, but ended up letting the film rights lapse back to Disney/Marvel in order to focus more on their Fantastic Four reboot. Marvel has since announced a made-for-Netflix show starring the character, but obviously independent of the earlier films.
  • The Fantastic Four films' poor reception ensured that the standalone Silver Surfer movie will never happen. A reboot of the franchise was announced in late 2013.
  • While the first Ghost Rider film did well on its initial release, it was viewed by the filmmakers (as well as by star Nicolas Cage) as being too corny to pass as a real Ghost Rider film. In the wake of films like The Dark Knight, the studio felt that people were finally willing to accept a more gritty take on the character, and green-lit Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The film did poorly at the box office and received terrible reviews, with Cage later admitting that they'd dropped the ball a second time in regards to the film series. A year later Sony gave the film rights back to Disney/Marvel, who stated that they had no immediate plans to feature the character in their films.
  • Following the critical savaging and box office failure of Punisher: War Zone, Lions Gate gave up on the Punisher film series and let the rights go back to Disney/Marvel as a direct result. Not much is known about the future of the character in film, but Marvel has hinted that he may be a major figure in their Daredevil reboot.
  • After Spider-Man 3, Sony cancelled the Spider-Man 4 film right before filming started, after a release date had been announced, in favor of a Continuity Reboot in the form of The Amazing Spider-Man. This is actually a subversion, though, as Spider-Man 3 (which got mixed reviews but made a huge profit) was not the cause of the Raimi Spider-Man franchise's death. The true culprit for the death of the franchise was Executive Meddling — director Sam Raimi walked only because he felt he couldn't deliver the level of quality he wanted in the deadline he was given. Meanwhile, the rebooting was done because Sony didn't want the Spider-Man film rights to fall into Disney/Marvel's hands instead of, you know, acknowledging the murder of the golden egg-laying goose.
    • After the moderate success of the The Amazing Spider-Man film, Sony announced their plans to make a new Spider-Man film every two or so years as well as spin-off movies focusing on the villains, so they clearly intend to hang on to the film rights for a very long time.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a brief Franchise Killer for the X-Men movies, since it was intended to take the franchise in a different direction following the original trilogy (as the title indicates, the plan was for a series of Origin Story movies for key characters of the franchise; X-Men Origins: Magneto would have been the next installment), but the terrible reaction to it killed these plans and a different (and much more successful) direction was chosen in the semi-reboot X-Men: First Class.

Television series based films

  • The negative critical reception and underwhelming (but still relatively successful) box office intake for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (not to mention the deaths of Bosley #2 Bernie Mac and Charlie himself, John Forsythe) means that the prospects for a third movie in the foreseeable future are unlikely. And with the TV series reboot burned at the stake by critics and canceled after four episodes were airednote , it's not so much "Good morning, Angels" as "Goodbye, Angels."
  • Serenity, the feature-film continuation of the Firefly television series, drastically underperformed in the theaters, much like Firefly itself. Interestingly, Serenity was only green-lit due to the impressive sales of Firefly DVDs, and Serenity's failure killed the idea that DVD sales can be used to extrapolate a fanbase's ability to support a motion picture.
  • The negative reception and domestic box-office underperformance of Sex and the City 2 seems to have killed off that franchise, as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall seem decidedly less interested in making a third film than their costars.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis' plot contained a Sequel Hook, but its financial and critical failure ended any chance the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew had of getting another film. Then again, this section of the franchise may have been killed shortly before the release of this film because Brent Spiner (who played the android Data) refused to participate further because he was visibly aging and straining suspension of disbelief (though in an alternate future of the TV series' finale, Data had cosmetically altered himself to simulate aging anyway). You can't do TNG without Data, and Paramount's marketing department knew it, hence the tagline:
    "A Generation's Final Journey Begins".
  • Semi-example with the live-action Thomas the Tank Engine movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad: while it was bad enough to kill off Shining Time Station (a Framing Device for the series in the U.S.), the actual Thomas and Friends stories and stand-alone cartoon are still going strong to this day.
  • After the Twin Peaks TV series ended, the movie, Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, was made, with the intention of leading into a trilogy of films and then maybe starting up the show again once David Lynch had consolidated his control, freeing the show from the Executive Meddling that had caused the cancellation in the first place. The movie was both a critical and financial flop, as audiences were caught off-guard by its Mind Screw nature and unexpectedly dark tone, and there has been no Twin Peaks since.

Other franchises

  • The Cat in the Hat killed off the live-action Dr. Seuss movie franchise, not so much because of its box-office receipts (which were not as bad as the scathing critical reviews, though still remarkably low) but because Theodore Geisel's widow was disgusted enough by it to deny any further live-action adaptations. Plans were laid out for a sequel but unfortunately never materialized as a direct result of the sanction from Mrs. Geisel. Later Dr. Seuss movies have been made purely with CGI.
  • The film adaptation of Fat Slags (a strip in British comic Viz) was so bad that their creator allegedly claimed he was going to kill off the strip as a result, though this later turned out to be misquoted/misreported.
  • The failure of Grease 2 prevented further Sequelitis. There were studio plans of having at least three more sequels and a TV series, but they were instantly scrapped after Grease 2 bombed.
  • James Bond:
    • The James Bond film series is the exception to the rule of a real franchise killer, as they have been continuously produced by the same family-owned production company for the same studio since 1962.
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service was at the time of release viewed as a major disappointment as it continued a downward spiral in grosses that had begun with You Only Live Twice, despite the very different approaches taken with those two films. For the next film, Diamonds Are Forever, the studio was desperate and lured Sean Connery back for one last time in exchange for a hefty paycheck. However the film following Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die with Roger Moore as James Bond, proved that the series was still a very profitable commodity, despite a change in the lead role.
    • Licence to Kill, the 16th official movie (and the second and last one to star Timothy Dalton) seemed to do this for a while. With inflation in account, it's the lowest grossing film in the franchise. The marketing for the movie was subpar at best (it's to date, the last Bond movie to be released during summer). Add that to LTK itself, being one of the most polarizing Bond movies due to its decidedly Darker and Edgier, Miami Vice-influenced plot (especially considering the Lighter and Softer Roger Moore era was still fresh in the general public's mind). LTK felt like an end of an era (dating back to the Sean Connery era) as it was the last Bond movie to have any involvement from director John Glen, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, cinematographer Alec Mills, and producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli (not to mention the last Bond movie to take place during the Cold War). There wouldn't be a new Bond movie released for six years (the longest such delay in franchise history) mostly due to litigation from 1990-1993 between the co-owners on the sale of television licensing rights. In the meantime, Dalton's contract expired, Pierce Brosnan was hired, and the 17th movie started being Saved from Development Hell.
    • While Die Another Day by no means flopped (it was the highest grossing Bond film at the time), it was deemed ridiculous by many, and received at best mixed reviews. More importantly, however, was that with this film and the preceding The World Is Not Enough, the box-office grosses simply did not match the increasing production budgets and marketing costs, and made very little profit for franchise co-owners Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Broccoli/Wilson's Danjaq. For MGM, their co-ownership in the James Bond franchise is their single-most important IP asset, and for a studio with an otherwise weak output, Bond must provide large profits for the studio to survive. Soon after, Brosnan was dismissed and the franchise went into hibernation before rebooting with a back-to-basics movie starring Daniel Craig as Bond. Word of God mentions that the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks also played a part, because the writers felt they couldn't justify the franchise's campiness after such a traumatic event.
  • The Next Karate Kid was poorly received by fans and critics, and made less money at the box office than The Karate Kid III, putting the series on ice until the release of a Continuity Reboot in 2010 starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.
  • The box office failure of Kit Kittridge: An American Girl killed any future theatrical adaptations of the American Girls dolls. The series has had some mild success as Straight-To-DVD features, however.
  • The Legend of The Lone Ranger ended any chance of further Lone Ranger adaptations for the next two and a half decades with ITC's behavior, especially toward the classic Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore (such behavior would become ITC's undoing, as following the well-deserved and spectacular failure of the film it only survived while Sir Lew Grade was still alive). In 2013, a feature film rebooting the franchise failed with both critics and the box office.
  • Mary Poppins was adapted by the Disney company into film in 1964. As soon as the book Author P. L. Travers saw the screening of Mary Poppins, she was upset with the Disney adaptation despite the critical acclaim and awards the film received. She decided that Walt Disney and his team would no longer make anymore sequels based on Mary Poppins. P. L. Travers decided to have Mary Poppins on Broadway without any American film producers or the Sherman Brothers involved.
  • While the Live-Action Adaptation of CLAMP's Rex: A Dinosaur Story was the biggest native blockbuster of 1993 in Japan and a surprise hit for Kadokawa Shoten and Shochiku, it was pulled from theatres after director Haruki Kadokawa was accused of cocaine smuggling. Ever since, no one else, even within Kadokawa Shoten, has tried to adapt any of CLAMP's stories into anything other than animation.
  • The fact that in the 30-plus years since Robert Altman's Popeye flopped so badly no one has even talked about reviving the franchise in an animated format, much less live-action, puts that film firmly in this trope.
  • The colossal failure of the big-budget adaptation of Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic! in 1980, combined with Cussler's distaste for it, led him not to sell the rights to any of his other Dirk Pitt novels (which producer Lew Grade had hoped to use as the basis for a franchise of his own) for over 20 years.

    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 Who out of business for good. "Attack of the Cybermen" is a strong candidate, being that 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 through it was beginning to win critics back over, 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.
    • A major problem for Classic Who was its large audience: Many were impressionable children, but others were simply grown-up fans who expected a level of maturity from the show. These two factions did not get on with each other: A cabal of Moral Guardians attacked the Tom Baker era, with its Hammer Horror tropes for being too scary for kids (famously derided as "teatime brutality for tots" by Mary Whitehouse); in a bid to curvy favor with them, the show's producers dialed down the horror in favor of light comedy. The politics was the next to be thrown overboard, as the UK under Margaret Thatcher was no place for the peace-loving, anarchic tone of the Classic Series. The series became bloodier and very, very eighties, with head writer Eric Saward spending more time fleshing out his amoral, Clint Eastwood-style bad guys than the show's stars. Finally, in a last bid to win back the alienated fans, producer John Nathan-Turner overloaded the show with continuity nods and call backs, often forgetting the context of where the references came from. It wasn't until much later that Doctor Who considered writing serials based on the turmoil backstage: "Vengeance on Varos", itself a parody of sensationalist TV, and "The Happiness Patrol", set in a Mary Whitehouse-themed dystopianote , where being unhappy is a crime, and where stormtroopers forcibly paint the TARDIS bright pink so as not to look 'depressing.'
  • 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). In 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 be changing their minds on key plot points three times per episode. Best known is Sylar's Heel-Face 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 can't even get a greenlight for a miniseries to give Heroes a proper last hurrah. NBC plans on rebooting it with Heroes Reborn, set in the same universe, but with a new cast of characters.
  • 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 series is doing well and has been picked up for a seventh series. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit continues to carry the torch in the US, as well, but its continued existence seems to be almost entirely a function of ratings impotence from the rest of the network.
  • Lets 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 helmed by Bob Hilton, who was far more experienced as an announcer 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. Went down quickly due to phony attempts at being "hip" and "modern".
    • 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 from 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. A controversial, but lucrative reboot film by JJ Abrams seems to have resurrected the franchise.
    • The much hated (by both the fans and the cast) final episode "These Are the Voyages", was purely adding insult to injury. The relaunch novel series couldn't retcon it fast enough. Note that this is the only episode in the history of Star Trek (counting the animated series, that's 725 episodes) that's ever been directly and intentionally contradicted by a novel.
  • Fantasy Leader, a Blogspot user, wrote a detailed essay on what was almost the Franchise Killer for Super Sentai here. To recap: the coincidental collision of a gradual Broken Base in the fandom that built up starting with Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman five years ago and a pair of Genre Killing real-life incidents outside of the fandomnote  led to show ratings falling to a new low in Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and Toei was prepared to pull the plug... until they noticed that Ohranger toy sales somehow reached a monstrous new high for Sentai overall.
    • 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. 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 two other Dinosaur Sentai together!", with the Go-Busters getting little-to-no additional closure.
    • On 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 was because Jetix Europe and Bandai respectively asked them to for each series.
  • 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).

    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.
  • 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.
  • Similarly, after the violence at Woodstock '99, the owners of the Woodstock name have gone on record to say it will never be used again.

    Video Games 

Activision

  • Crash: Mind Over Mutant, while it has its fans, sold poorly and got a generally negative fan reception, resulting in the death of the Crash Bandicoot franchise and was one of the causes of death for Radical Entertainment along with Prototype 2.
  • The Guitar Hero franchise came to a halt after Warriors of Rock lost out to Rock Band 3. It didn't help that fans had gone through exposure fatigue with the release of several different attempts at spinoffs in the previous two years (Band Hero, DJ Hero) within several months of each other. Activision, for their part, have recognised that they spent so much time and creative energy on DJ Hero that they forgot that GH might have needed some love too (four spinoffs != love).
    • As for the Rock Band series, it was likely the tepid performance of Green Day Rock Band (released a few months before 3) that confirmed suspicions that interest in the genre was waning, and prompted Viacom to start the process of dropping Harmonix (and with it, the MTV Games brand). Without Viacom's backing, Harmonix's ability to get licenses for popular music started to dwindle, and a year or so after the spin-off (but DLC-compatible) game Rock Band Blitz, DLC releases reached their end.
  • Prototype 2 fell victim to overly-optimistic sales expectations. A heavy marketing push couldn't help the game reach its expected goal of 4 million units, or even the 2+ million moved by the first Prototype, spelling the end for both the series and its creator, Radical Entertainment.
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback doesn't fit with the canon of the first two games, and it doesn't help that it ends with a cliffhanger that will likely never be resolved. This isn't surprising, since it was made by a completely different developer and released as a budget game.
  • Tony Hawk: Ride was meant to revive a franchise that was long stagnated and decaying by forcing the player to use a skateboard peripheral that didn't work as well as advertised. Combined with Hawk himself claiming anyone who disliked the peripheral had decided to hate the game before it came out (since, of course, people spend $200 on games they expect to hate), gamers weren't likely to be interested in a sequel, as the poor sales of Shred eventually convinced Activision to shelve the series, with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD (a downloadable "back-to-basics" reboot that was viewed as mediocre) and Tony Hawk's Shred Session (an mobile game that has been blasted by fans of the series for being an on-rails skateboard-themed clone of Temple Run) being the only worthy games of note since.

Atari, Inc. (Infogrames)

  • Atari just about killed not just a movie-based franchise, but an entire medium with their hideous overreaching on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The game was a poorly-designed, hard to understand, Christmas Rushed mess, they printed more cartridges than there were consoles, and overcharged for the privilege. The whole thing led to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 and probably ensured the movie itself never got sequels or additional tie-in merch.
  • The poor critical reception of Alone In The Dark 2008 killed off the series. It's even worse when you consider that even though the game developers delayed the release of the game for three years to try to stave off the bad publicity generated by Uwe Boll's failed film adaptation, some elements from the film still made it into the new game.
  • After Atari's buy-out on Humongous Entertainment, the company tried to continue the Backyard Sports, Putt-Putt and Pajama Sam series. Putt-Putt's last game wasn't all too bad — it had some poor voice acting, had way too much recycled content, and was boring; but it's at least playable compared to their attempt at Pajama Sam, which had a very cringe-worthy choice of voice actor, a lame plot, Loads and Loads of Loading, and several other things. They didn't sell or score well enough to continue onward. As for the Backyard Sports series, it continued to get an even worse treatment before it also saw its coffin sealed shut—no games for it have been announced since they lost the last leg the series was standing on (the major sports licenses) and saw their two attempts to Win Back the Crowd (Sandlot Sluggers and Rookie Rush) fail miserably.
  • Driv3r, which was not particularly good, ends on a Cliff Hanger with the protagonist flatlining after being shot by the Big Bad. Then Infogrames made an In Name Only sequel, Parallel Lines, and that didn't perform so well either. It took several years (and a new publisher) for the franchise to return to form with Driver: San Francisco, which has taken strides to distance itself from the Grand Theft Auto-cloned Driv3r and Parallel Lines by going back to the style of the original two games.
  • Godzilla: Unleashed, made in 2007, had such poor reviews and sales (especially considering it was released to the massive install bases of the Playstation 2 and the Wii) that there haven't been any more Godzilla games since then.
  • Master of Orion and Master Of Orion 2 were classics in the turn-based strategy genre. A toxic combination of Executive Meddling, Sequelphobic developers, and some other bad decisions resulted in a Master Of Orion 3 that bore a striking resemblance to doing one's taxes and was about as much fun. The game bombed hard on release, and since then there has been little hope that the series will be revived. Brad Wardell of Stardock expressed interest in making a fourth game in 2008, but his comments were mere speculation and there has been no follow-up.

Capcom

Electronic Arts

  • The Command & Conquer franchise got killed off after the release of its fourth game of the main series, and that was only a few years after solid hits by the third games of both the main series and the Red Alert spin-off series. With EA having so many other Cash Cow Franchises at the time, Tiberian Twilight came and tanked, there's little possibility they would give the franchise another chance now. EA later announced that it planned on developing a multiplayer only online-focused free-to-play sequel to Generals, but it has also been cancelled.
  • Following a decently-received revival of the Medal of Honor franchise in 2010, Medal of Honor: Warfighter was panned for its uninspired storytelling and a mess of bugs, even after a ridiculously large day-one patch. The game was also so hated it became a walking punchline for "Bad Modern Military Shooters". The series has since been taken "out of rotation"note  after failing to live up to EA's expectations, and developer Danger Close was closed as a result, which was then occupied by Battlefield creator DICE, making it DICE Los Angeles.
  • EA Sports' NBA Live series was to be renamed NBA Elite for the 2011 year. However, the game's demo was so awful that they yanked it and cancelled the game weeks from release. It didn't help that their primary competitor, Take Two's NBA 2K11, is widely considered one of the best sports games of all time. The same thing happened with the next two years' NBA Live games, forcing EA to concede the basketball sim market to 2K Sports, saving its big comeback for the PlayStation 4/Xbox One generation...only to get schooled once again by 2K's sports sim, taking a vicious beating from players and critics.
  • Though Ultima IX: Ascension was already planned to bring the third trilogy of games to a close, it resulted in a horribly Broken Base. Development nevertheless started on Ultima X, which was never finished.

Konami / Hudson Soft

  • Bloody Roar 4 is considered the worst entry in the franchise by its small but dedicated fanbase, and no new entries have been made since then (a prospect especially unlikely nowadays with the demise of Hudson Soft). Luckily, the developer Eighting survived, and went on to develop other licensed fighting games since as the Naruto: Clash of Ninja series, Fate/unlimited codes and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
  • Dance Dance Revolution X basically killed the franchise outside of East Asia, not because of the game itself, but because of the Bad Export for You fiasco surrounding the arcade hardware. In East Asia, Konami offered upgrade kits for old machines as well as brand-new redesigned cabinets with HD monitors. But in North America and Europe, Konami contracted things to Raw Thrills and Betson, who didn't offer upgrades and only sold a cheap knock-off of the redesigned HD cabinets. The RT/Betson cabinets were inferior in quality to the Japanese ones and broke as easily as peanut brittle, yet they were still thousands of dollars more expensive than upgrading an old cabinet would've been. This led to lots of arcades buying a new machine only to find out it was crap. Konami would later dump Betson and announced another redesign to be less rubbish and more similar to the Japanese cabinets, but the damage was already done. To this day, there are still old, broken-down RT/Betson DDR X cabinets scattered around North American arcades.
  • Rumble Roses suffered from a Broken Base before it was even released, with both Anime and Professional Wrestling fans interested in the game. During development it became obvious the game was designed to cater to anime fans, but it was a decent enough wrestling game that the pro wrestling camp wasn't fully alienated. Then came the sequel, Rumble Roses XX, with a labyrinthine and ludicrously time-consuming unlocking system, a completely pathetic create-a-wrestler feature, and a boring street fighting mode that no one liked. The killer, though, was the "Queens Match Mode", done in a style of Japanese erotica that, through Values Dissonance, came across as extremely creepy Fan Disservice elsewhere, evaporating most of its international fanbase. To make matters worse, RRXX was released on a different platform (Xbox 360) than the original game (PlayStation 2), killing much of its built-in audience. Plans were to eventually port but higher-ups claimed there simply was not enough interest in the series to make a PlayStation 3 version viable.
  • With the surprise success of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, LucasArts decided to take a similar property in development and rework it into a sequel. Ghoul Patrol was a bomb, with tedious, confusing gameplay and none of the original's fun spirit. At least there's still the Wii Virtual Console release of the original game.

Midway Games / Atari Games

  • Blacksite: Area 51 is an interesting chicken-or-the-egg case. While the game was so atrociously bad that it ensured no future Area 51 games would be made, the game's Obvious Beta glitches and other over signs of poor quality were an indication that Midway Games was already on the brink of collapse. Sure enough, the entire company folded soon after the game's release. To paraphrase Word of God: "This project was so fucked up. I just wasn't excited about this Area 51 game."
  • Gauntlet was a fairly decent hack-and-slash arcade-style adventure series, until Seven Sorrows came along. Developed by Midway's San Diego studio after the former Atari Games had been closed down, it was an Obvious Beta, with a lot of old standby techniques gone (like not being able to shoot potions), and none of the "new features" touted for the game anywhere. Any plans for the franchise after that were effectively shelved. Warner Bros. plans to try to bring the franchise back from the dead a decade after the release of Seven Sorrows, hoping to have much better success than they did when they tried to revive Spy Hunter (see below).
  • LA Rush was billed as a Spiritual Successor to San Francisco Rush, but ended up as just another average street racer.
  • Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run was intended to be a tie-in to a cancelled movie. Needless to say, the game flopped belly up, sinking the franchise altogether. An attempt by Warner Bros. and TT Fusion to reboot the series with a 30th anniversary game on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita went nowhere, garnering even lower review scores than Nowhere to Run.
  • After the third and final arcade Cruis'n game Exotica was ported to the N64 in 2000, the Cruis'n series didn't really have any future as a viable series after the fifth-generation era (with the average GBA game Velocity being the only noteworthy game released since then). But that didn't stop Midway from taking their port of the 2004 arcade videogame adaptation of The Fast and the Furious they had at the time, removing all traces of the film in the game, and releasing it simply as Cruis'n in 2007 (this was done because they lost the film license during the development of the arcade game, which to their credit had similar to the Cruis'n games in terms of gameplay). Any possible viability the series might had have were shot dead by the critical drubbing it received for its datedness and poor sales.

Namco Bandai

  • Baten Kaitos: Origins came out near the end of the GameCube's lifespan, four months before the Wii launch. Despite improving massively on the flaws of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, it was overlooked by a gaming community clamoring for next-gen consoles and never sold particularly well. With the rumored Nintendo DS installment canceled, the future of the series looks bleak.
  • The 2009 Wii remake of Klonoa: Door to Phantomile bombed so badly in sales, that it not only killed any possibility of the proposed Klonoa 2 remake getting greenlit, but probably put the entire game series on ice, as no new Klonoa games have been announced or released since. It did live on as a webcomic on Shifty Look for a bit, but then Shifty Look closed down, sealing the coffin on the series completely.
  • Although Xenosaga was meant to be a six-part series, it ended after three games. None of the games individually were primarily responsible for the premature end, but altogether the games didn't perform as well as expected. Episode II performed so poorly that part of Episode III's selling point was that it (debatably) coherently summarized Episode II, removing the need to play it to understand the story. Players were thankful, but after the blow Episode II had dealt the franchise, almost every industry commentator observed that Episode III would have to be perfect in every way to keep the series afloat.

Nintendo

  • F-Zero GP Legend was this for the F-Zero series. In addition to performing poorly sales-wise, it didn't help either that poor word-of-mouth effectively sunk the accompanying Animated Adaptation before it even hit North American airwaves. While there was only one other sequel to GP Legend (2004's F-Zero Climax), it was never released outside of Japan due to GP Legend's overall poor reception in North America. This was all also combined with Shigeru Miyamoto admitting to having Writer's Block in terms of bringing new ideas to the series.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening was a commercial and critical success in Japan and the West but came close to being a franchise killer, due to stagnating sales of previous Fire Emblem titles, as revealed in an interview with a Spanish website — if the game sold fewer than a quarter million units, it would have been the last game in the series. Thankfully it became one of the best selling titles in the franchise.
  • The poorly-received Metroid: Other M put the Metroid series on ice for a second time (counting the long hiatus between 1994 and 2002 after Super Metroid). Despite good initial sales, poor word-of-mouth took its toll and new copies were rapidly marked down to bargain price. And Yoshio Sakamoto, the franchise co-creator who was heavily involved with Other M, said at the time that he didn't plan to return to Metroid or any of his other traditional video game creations any time soon. Only four years later, at E3 2014, Nintendo confirmed that new installments for both 2D and 3D-style Metroid games entered the planning stages.
  • Planet Puzzle League was a perfectly good game on its own, but received extremely negative consumer reception in Japan for almost completely ditching the kawaisa aspect it had previously sold itself on. Other than a few Virtual Console rereleases of the original Panel de Pon, there hasn't been a new game in the series since.
  • The Broken Base which started in Star Fox Adventures may have managed to finally come back to bite the franchise in the ass with Star Fox Command. It was the poorest selling game in the series to date and, barring the Nintendo 3DS remake of Star Fox 64, it took nine years before a new Star Fox game was announced for the Wii U.

Sega

  • Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle flopped so badly that Sega ditched the titular character as their mascot, and replaced him with Sonic the Hedgehog. While Alex probably didn't have much of a future as Sega's mascot anyway, since the company wanted a more "hip" audience for the Genesis, his series would probably have survived if Enchanted Castle had been better received. Instead, he appeared in the Dolled-Up Installment Alex Kidd in Shinobi World and has not had a new game of his own since, though he has appeared as an unlockable character in Sega Superstars Tennis, as well as Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing and its sequel, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed.
  • Golden Axe: Beast Rider was a failed attempt to translate the gameplay of the classic side-scrolling beat-em-up series to 3D, and did enough lasting damage to put an end to any further games in the franchise.
  • Sakura Wars is seemingly dead, due to the result of weak sales of the fifth title and its tie-in merchandise and anime. The weak sales of the fifth game in the US in 2010 have also apparently destroyed any hope of seeing the first four games released in America (though there was an attempt to localize the rest of the games in the series for digital distribution that sprang up on Facebook in 2012).
  • Shenmue was a Franchise Killer after the first episode in the US owing both to the end of the Sega Dreamcast and slow gameplay, but the second episode (of a proposed four) was released on Dreamcast to the rest of the world, and was exclusive to Xbox in America. Unfortunately, the second episode managed to fail financially on both the Dreamcast and the Xbox, rendering its huge and startling cliffhanger the end. As the mastermind behind the series, Yu Suzuki, has left Sega, there is little hope of revival.
    • Shenmue was also something of a Sunk Cost Fallacy that killed off the old Sega. Depending on who you believe, at the time, the Shenmue project cost anywhere from from $47 million to $70 million to create. That's a sizeable chunk of change, and the latter figure would have been an industry record. During this time, Sega's finances were none too good and the Dreamcast ultimately underperformed. The game most likely didn't profit, and it's probably fair to suspect it depleted money from the company at a time where they couldn't afford to. Sega did survive to go third-party after the DC went bust, but didn't last much longer before being bought by Sammy Corp. and "retooled". It hasn't been quite the same since.
    • It has also been estimated that the game was so expensive, and the install base so small, every Dreamcast owner would have to have bought at least two copies just to break even.
  • Sega's Shinobi franchise was killed quite dead by the poor Shinobi Legions installment in 1995, not returning until a reboot in 2002. It died again in 2004 with Nightshade (Kunoichi), which itself was a perfectly good game, but had little to no marketing and its link to the Shinobi franchise was not played up, so it sat in obscurity. As for the Nintendo 3DS game, it got decent reviews, but doesn't seem to have sold well enough to properly re-vitalize the series.
  • As for Sega's very own Mascot with Attitude, he's managed to avoid this despite the infamous reception (due to him being one of the company's few cash cows), but in terms of sub-series:
    • There were only two games in the spinoff Storybook Series', as Sonic and the Black Knight'' failed to impress.
    • The Sonic the Hedgehog 4 saga was originally planned to span three episodes, but was put on ice by the second episode. Word of God said no further episodes were in the works as they wanted to see how Episode II would perform before continuing the series, presumably as a precautionary measure as a result of how fans responded to the first episode. Upon release, Episode II received lower sales (and a decidedly more mixed reaction from critics) than the first episode. Although no comments regarding the state of the series had been issued since, the departure of the PR manager from Sega to Sony (who had been part of the Sonic 4 saga since it was first announced) and the admins at the Sega Forums archiving the official subforum designated for the game a couple of years after it was released are subtle hints that the saga is no longer active.
    • After Sonic Rush Adventure underperformed in sales, all handheld Sonic games since then have been handheld counterparts of Sonic Team's console games, rather than their own individual series, something the franchise hadn't completely done since the Game Gear port of Sonic Spinball.
  • Virtual On MARZ killed its series. The game was changed from a 3D Fighting Game to an arena-based Beat 'em Up (of sorts, Virtual On has guns), it became single-player, had a horrible, generic anime-like plot, and the English version was plagued by "Blind Idiot" Translation. Ironically enough, most of the cameos Virtual On has gotten elsewhere (outside of indie circles) are more heavily based on MARZ than any other part of the series, namely in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, in which the robots had human voices, and featured Hatter, who only appeared in MARZ.
  • During the early 2000s, Sega made new, Xbox-exclusive installments of previous franchises. While a lot of these installments were pretty good, these franchises were never seen again because they suffered from awful sales, so you could basically call the Xbox "The killing ground for Sega games". Examples:
    • Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller: While it got decent reviews, it sold poorly and other than a few ports of the first game on modern systems, there has not been another Crazy Taxi game since then.
    • Jet Set Radio Future, despite receiving large amounts of praise and a huge cult following, did not sell well (then again, it was kind of Sega's fault, they chose to advertise the Gamecube port of Sonic Adventure 2 more, making it very rare to see the JSRF commercial). When it and Sega GT 2002 were packaged with Xboxes during the Holiday season of 2002, it boosted sales, but still wasn't a top-seller, and the series never got a third installment.
    • Panzer Dragoon Orta: Just like Shenmue II and JSRF, it got lots of praise and a big cult following, but suffered from bad sales. Plus, a majority of the console's demographic wasn't into rail-shooters or fantasy settings anyway.
    • Shenmue II, as listed above, suffered from awful sales and ended with an unresolved cliffhanger.
    • Toejam And Earl 3: Mission to Earth: It wasn't just this game's sales that killed the series, it was also the fact that the game itself was very negatively received (by both critics and long-time TJ&E fans alike).

Sierra

  • Betrayal at Krondor was never supposed to be part of a series, and the team that made it was disbanded before Sierra realized they had a hit on its hands. Once they saw how well it did, though, they decided to kick off an entire series with a sequel, Return to Krondor... which, unsurprisingly, was woefully unfinished and underpolished, making this a bad enough experience for Feist that he's been unwilling to risk a repeat experience.
  • Empire Earth III was a commercial and critical failure and is widely thought to be responsible for the end of the Empire Earth series and Mad Doc Studios. Mad Doc even removed any trace of the game from their website before getting bought by Rockstar Games.
  • Homeworld 2 didn't exactly flop, but it had a Troubled Production and the finished article failed to deliver on the promises of its early trailers. Sales were modest and critical reaction mixed at best, and despite rumours that they were open to the idea of a third game, Relic never quite got around to it before the company was wound up. But all is not lost, because the original Homeworld development team ended up forming their own company and started working on a Spritual Successor of sorts called Hardware: Shipbreakers... at which point Gearbox Software, who'd acquired the Homeworld IP at publisher THQ's bankruptcy auction, offered them a deal to make it an official sequel.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity started with a very unwelcome Genre Shift, taking a franchise that prided itself on emphasizing a creative, non-violent option whenever possible and making a hack-and-slash third-person action game, with a Darker and Edgier tone that sharply veered from the gentle humor and fairy-tale style of the previous seven games. What really iced the cake was that none of the Daventry royal family got speaking parts — the Player Character might as well have been from a different franchise entirely. Some of the fan sites refuse to call it a King's Quest game at all. Even the Sierra "King's Quest Collection" quietly ignores it, and Roberta Williams herself was so dissatisfied with it that she refused to call the game King's Quest VIII, removing the numeral from the title altogether. Mask of Eternity's dubious status is reflected in the Fan Remake of King's Quest II, as you will receive full points whether or not you choose to knight Connor (acknowledging him as part of Mask's story arc).

Sony Computer Entertainment

  • Cool Boarders 2001 was the lowest-grossing entry in its franchise aside from the original game, and the last game released (to date) for the series. It featured an infamous Sequel Difficulty Spike comprised of Nintendo Hard trick challenges within the tutorial course and first stage, focused more on realism than any of the prior installments, and got lost in the shuffle during a glut of similarly-themed snowboarding games. Two other attempts to jumpstart the franchise bombed as well - Cool Boarders: Code Alien, an entry released the year before in Japan, never sold well enough to make the jump to North America, and Cool Boarders: Burrrn! (released as Rippin' Riders for the Sega Dreamcast) failed to make any impact. A planned sequel to 2001, Sold Out, was canned in early production, and the series hasn't seen another installment since.
  • Jet Moto 3 was a decent game, but it sold poorly, resulting in the planned fourth game being cancelled. So far, there are no plans to revive the series.
  • The two Syphon Filter games that were released on the PlayStation Portable (Logan's Shadow and Dark Mirror) were respected by critics, but according to Sony Bend Studio's John Garvin, the games didn't sell well enough to justify any further entries in the series.

Square Enix / Eidos Interactive

  • Actraiser II was an In Name Only sequel that lacked the original game's popular Simulation Mode. The unGodly difficulty level couldn't have helped it out at all, either.
  • Commandos: Strike Force effectively killed off the Commandos franchise by essentially being a different game to its predecessors by being a pretty generic first person shooter and changing the cast. Even Pyro Studios doesn't acknowledge it any more.
  • Dawn of Mana effectively killed off the World of Mana series with frustrating and nonsensical gameplay and a level system that reset whenever you started a new chapter, which meant Loads And Loads Of Grinding.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War was the much anticipated sequel to the seminal Deus Ex. It was so poorly received (by the community; it received decent marks from critics) that developer Ion Storm: Austin was driven to collapse, and the spin-off title Deus Ex: Clan Wars was changed to Project Snowblind to remove negative association with the ballyhooed franchise. Another title in the series wouldn't be made until 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
  • Front Mission Evolved crashed and burned hard, and its poor ratings/sales have more or less ended the future of Front Mission video games. For a while, the franchise soldiered on through other media, including the popular Dog Life & Dog Style manga (ironically, among all things, Evolved was panned for its terrible storytelling), but with the end of the manga series and many of the major Front Mission players all having left Square Enix, it's safe to say that the franchise is done for good.
  • Unlimited Saga was released in 2002, after a very long wait for an new entry in the franchise. While the game's art and music were amazing, the gameplay was questionable at best; an over-reliance on the incredibly gimmicky "Reel System" (which was used for everything from attacks to leveling up) and a skipped beta phase meant the game had a patched-together feel. It received generous reviews from Japanese publications, but only mediocre ones from American sources, and ended up with miserable sales. As a result, not only have the only new SaGa games have been remakes of existing games in the series, but none have seen American release.
  • Xenogears was intended to be a 6-part series but was heavily underfunded and even the one installment we got was barely able to get completed by the deadline. Despite positive reception, the series was effectively dead since the creators left Square. It was attempted to be revived in a spiritual sequel known as Xenosaga, but that is another story (see the Namco Bandai section).

Tecmo / Koei

  • Fatal Frame III's abysmal sales killed the franchise outside of its native Japan, where a fourth game was releasednote , as well as a remake of the second game on the Wii (the only non-Japanese regions to receive the remake were Europe and Australia, as the lack of an American release might be because Nintendo of America considers the Wii dead and would rather focus all their attention on the Wii U). Its spin-off title, Spirit Camera, was released outside of Japan but received poor reviews and may endanger the future of the series.
  • Rygar: The Legendary Adventure was a good game, but didn't perform well enough to continue the series. It was less-than-spectacularly ported to the Wii several years hereafter, sealing the fate of the franchise. At one point, there was a Rygar 2 announced, but it ended up being vaporware.
  • Five years elapsed between Win Back and its sequel, which in the end turned out completely awful and flopped.

THQ

  • On November 6, 2012, THQ released a statement saying that Darksiders II needed to have sold over 4 million copies for them to even consider continuing the franchise, but it only sold 1.4 million. This is likely more because of the dire financial situation THQ was in at the time than the quality or reception of the game (both games enjoyed fairly high critical ratings), as the company had to file for bankruptcy only a month or so after the Darksiders statement. Whether or not this story has a positive ending depends on what its new publisher, Nordic Games (who won a last-minute bid for the series and its developer in the THQ auction), decides to do with it.
  • The death of the Destroy All Humans! series can be blamed squarely on two lackluster sequels - Big Willy Unleashed for the Wii, and then Path of the Furon for PS3/Xbox 360 - developed in 2008 after original developer Pandemic Studios was snapped up by Electronic Arts. Neither game managed to successfully capture the spirit of the first two games, and sold terribly as a result.
  • The MX vs. ATV franchise was killed off after the various changes in gameplay to MX vs. ATV: Alive left fans cold. A new game, MX vs. ATV: Supercross has been announced for a 2014 release under new publisher Nordic Games, time will tell if that game brings the series back from the dead.
  • The Nicktoons Unite series died after Nicktoons: Globs of Doom's poor reception. THQ had since given up on Nicktoons licensed games, so the game that followed Globs of Doom was 2K Games' Nicktoons MLB, a crossover between Nicktoons characters and real MLB players.
  • Red Faction met an untimely end with the underwhelming reception of Armageddon and the multiplayer-focused Battlegroundsnote . Most of the negative reception from Armageddon came from it switching from the open-world destruction that made Red Faction: Guerrilla a hit to a generic underground corridor shooter. Ironic, considering the plan according to the developers was to bring the game back to its roots.

Other

  • The Another Centurys Episode series was supposedly going to end with the third game (actually subtitled The Final), but then along came ACE:R for the PlayStation 3. The game was ripped apart for discarding the series' well-defined control system in favor of a clunky new system built around a tension gauge, as well as a lazily-executed plotline made more shameful since R marked the series debut of several popular anime like Code Geass, Macross Frontier and Full Metal Panic!. The follow-up ACE Portable was an admitted apology that went back to basics, and the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn game did well enough to be called "The game ACE:R should have been."
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts to not only Banjo-Kazooie, but to almost every other Rare franchise too, as due to its low sales and negative fan reception because of its change from a platformer to a driving game, Microsoft cancelled the sequels to Conkers Bad Fur Day, Killer Instinct, and others. Nuts and Bolts may had also been the final straw for the old Rare as well—as of 2010, Rare has hardly any of the staff from its golden age in the 90s, and the company has only worked on Kinect Sports games. And as of 2013 starting with the Killer Instinct reboot, it's not making new games for its older IPs anymore.
  • Battle Assault 3 starring Gundam SEED is another case of a Video Game 3D Leap that killed off a fine series, though this game was fairly well received.
  • Blood II: The Chosen is the reason Caleb won't live again anytime soon.
  • Bubsy did well enough to get a few 2D sequels and a short-lived cartoon show. Then came Bubsy 3D, seen as one of the worst games ever made, which smashed head-first into the Polygon Ceiling and destroyed any possible future for the series as a whole.
  • The double whammy of Clayfighter 63 1/3 and Clayfighter X-Treme ultimately killed the Clay Fighter franchise. 63 1/3 was an Obvious Beta with dated graphics, annoying voice clips and broken gameplay. Although the game was a modest commercial success, its critical reception was very poor. So bad, in fact, that Interplay released a Director's Cut six months later that addressed some (but not all) of the gameplay and balancing issues of 63 1/3. Meanwhile, X-Treme never even saw release, since it was behind schedule. Other than the eventual Virtual Console release of the original, the series has been completely dormant ever since.
  • Crystal Kingdom Dizzy ended up being this for the Dizzy series of Spectrum games. A full-priced title with a drop in quality from the previous budget titles, its relative failure would mean the planned next game Wonderland Dizzy would never be released.
  • There was a fourth Descent game planned, but it was cancelled due to poor sales of Descent 3 and Interplay going bankrupt.
  • Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is this for the Epic Mickey series, since its failure wiped out Junction Point entirely. A big reason was the fact that Epic Mickey 2 failed to fix any of the problems of its predecessor (unstable frame rate, camera and control problems, etc.) and added new issues on top of it. Probably a big reason it bombed and the development studio closed was because the designer, Warren Spector, thought that the game was perfect as it was and the technical problems were part of the game's charm. Critics and fans alike did not share his sentiments.
  • Fade To Black, the 3D sequel to Flashback, slammed into the Polygon Ceiling head-on, crushing hopes of further sequels.
  • The Infinity series of visual novels by KID (Never 7, Ever17, etc.) were doing well in spite of Executive Meddling and financial issues. A spinoff installment, 12Riven, sold less than spectacularly, putting an end to the series and bankrupting KID. KID was later bought off by CyberFront and released an official sequel called Code18 without the involvement of the series' previous writers.
  • The Western version of the first Kunio-kun game was a surprise hit in Britain, and Renegade became a spinoff series. The first two games were beloved by ZX Spectrum owners, but the third game — with its bizarre Time Travel plot, graphics that were monochrome even by Speccy standards, and gobs of Fake Difficulty resulting from poor controls, missing moves, and strict time limits — spelt an end to the series.
  • Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude stumbled into, but ultimately survived its transition into 3D. Its follow-up game, Box Office Bust, added platforming, shooting and brawling elements, none of which the game did well at all. Reviewers everywhere ripped the game apart, giving it some of the lowest composite scores of any game on PlayStation 3/Xbox 360, unintentionally making it the most apt title for a failing title. Don't quite think B.O.B.'s developers intended THAT sort of "bust".
  • Lunar: Dragon Song seems to have done this for the Lunar series; stemming from poor sales, bad reviews, and absurd gameplay mechanics. There hasn't been a non-remake Lunar title since Dragon Song's release.
  • The ninth installment of the main Might and Magic series is generally regarded as the reason New World Computing stuck with the Heroes spinoff from then on; this was mainly due to the fact that the graphics of the engine had to be extensively upgraded in order to compete. However, all of the company's resources went into that and not into, say, a very good plot.
    • A large part of the reason for the game's state was the fact that 3DO was well on its way to going down at the time and the game was in fact released after the last Heroes by NWC. That said, it did probably contribute to the fact that the company who picked up the IP didn't do any party-based role-playing games with it until a decade later.
  • Myth III: The Wolf Age wasn't especially terrible, though it was significantly worse than the first two, and used the much-reviled Gamespy Arcade for multiplayer instead of Bungie.net, killing all hopes for a fourth installment.
  • No One Lives Forever was killed by the terrible interquel / Gaiden Game Contract J.A.C.K, causing Monolith Productions to abandon the series entirely.
  • Codemaster's separate successor to the original Operation Flashpoint series went down the drain after its second installment, Red River. Unlike the first one, Dragon Rising, Red River took what made the series unique, threw nearly all of it out and turned itself into a generic Modern Warfare clone, a move that appealed to fans of neither series, so guess how well that went... Worse yet, Red River doubled as a Creator Killer, since Codemasters promptly closed down its Guildford studio after the game's failure. Meanwhile, OFP's original creators, Bohemia Interactive, are still going strong with their ARMA series, apparently being the winner in the Dueling Games affair they had with the Codemasters' Spiritual Successor.
  • Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike suddenly introduced half-assed Third-Person Shooter levels to the series, among other negative aspects, resulting in much backlash. Then Lair put the final nail in Factor 5's coffin.
  • Majin Tensei was a decently-received Shin Megami Tensei spinoff in the Strategy RPG genre, which ended up doing well enough to receive one more successful sequel. Then came Ronde for the Saturn. Development was farmed out to Access while Atlus worked on other games, resulting in a game so legendarily awful that the release of a preview demo caused literally thousands of canceled preorders — numbers that were virtually unprecedented in Japan at the time. Not only did it kill the Majin Tensei series (the only release in the series since was a cell phone game that came out 10 years later), but Atlus wouldn't release another Strategy RPG Mega Ten until Devil Survivor, twelve years later, which had entirely different gameplay from the earlier series to boot.
  • While SNK had previously attempted to move the Samurai Shodown franchise into the third dimension with Samurai Shodown 64 (on the Hyper Neo-Geo 64 arcade board) with limited success (average review scores, but new characters Shiki and Asura have appeared in other SNK games, such as Neo Geo Battle Coliseum), most of the other games in the series were strictly 2D until they tried again with Samurai Shodown Sen (an interquel to the SamSho 64 games) more than a decade later. The game was a flop, with reviewers criticizing Sen for its confusing controls, poor character balancing, and ugly graphics.
  • Turok: Evolution managed to kill off the Turok franchise, no thanks to silly elements such as Tobias Bruckner, the cyborg cowboy riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex, along with the game's numerous other problems. It's probably no coincidence that publisher Acclaim went bankrupt shortly after the release of this and BMX XXX. The 2008 Turok relaunch wasn't a bad game, exactly — it just had the bad luck to be an average shooter during a time when great shooters were glutting the market. A sequel was planned, but was cancelled.
  • Vietcong 2, which got lower reviews than the original or Fist Alpha thanks to its dumbed-down gameplay.
  • Virtual Hydlide, the attempted reboot of Hydlide in 3D, killed off a series that had been moderately well appreciated in Japan during the 8-bit era.
  • This nearly happened to the Ys series, with the fifth installment, Kefin, The Lost City of Sand. Kefin, perhaps, wasn't bad bad - but the game was only available on the Super Nintendo (with a franchise that had deep roots on the PC and PC Engine), had very bland, generic graphics that looked like every other game of its era (which was even worse in context since the setting was supposed to be very exotic) and the music was all simple MIDI-synth (when Ys had become famous partly due to its powerful CD-supported Red Book-audio soundtracks). Fan backlash in Japan was intense, and it would be seven years before a new Ys game was made; the only thing that prevented the total death of the franchise was the good performance of remakes of the first two games, which were already in development when Kefin came out and were put out to recoup development costs.

    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.
  • 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.
    • If you're still confused over why it's considered a Franchise Killer, let's just say this; up until Beast Machines, all Transformers franchises were made in or spun off from ones made in the West; after Beast Machines, no Transformers series would be developed in the West until almost a decade later.
  • 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 hole 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 an unsuccessful retool in the second season quickly brought Felix to an early grave yet again.
    • 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 whilst the cartoons were 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 original cast members save for '80s pop starlet Tiffany voicing Judy Jetson 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 a sound-alike. 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.
  • 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 and 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 TV's animation block, thus taking down Stripperella (which was also hampered by a lawsuit) and Gary the Rat along with it.
  • Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights helped to kill off the franchises of Yogi Bear 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.
    • If anything, things were set in motion for Yogi by the failure of Yo Yogi! three years prior.
  • For Popeye, see above under "other" in live-action films, though even before the film put the final nail in the coffin, Popeye's cartoon series (already suffering heavy Seasonal Rot at the hands of Famous Studios) ended with the onset of The Dark Age of Animation, and an attempt to bring him to television fell flat because, as most cartoons of the period, violence had to be severely toned down. The franchise had been in limbo until the live action movie came along.


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