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.
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 UniverseG 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 Particularly tragic in that Mark Simmons' excellent fansite "Gundam Project" was shut down after he was hired by Sunrise to run GundamOfficial.com. 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.
Gundam's death knell in the United States most likely came sooner than Gundam SEED. The first bit was with Mobile Fighter G Gundam's... toys. Bandai over-saturated the market with G Gundam figures to the point where you couldn't find the main heroes nor the villains... just lame one-shot Gundams like the Matador Gundam and the Mandala Gundamnote Mandala Gundam's quirky design and badass pilot made it fairly popular in Japan. It apparently never occurred to Bandai that the same might not be true in America.. SD Gundam Force continued that trend as fans were turned off by the incredibly Lighter and Softer aspect the series gave and, in terms of toys, left figurines of Captain Gundam and Zakos hanging on the shelf as Super-Deformed versions of the Gundam and other Mobile Suits were swept up. Gundam SEED merely was just icing on the cake.
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.
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.
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 Snarlnote Tenchi in Tokyo was revealed halfway in its run to be a separate universe from Tenchi Universe, at the same time, a third movie was released based on a series of novels that diverged from the first six OVA episodes, ignoring the late ones, with the film itself taking place in the Tenchi Universe timeline.. 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. No other animated Tenchi media has come since.
Slayers: the third anime season, 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.)
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.
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.
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 ending suddenly.
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 Which included "Endless Eight." Eight episodes of the same events happening over and over again, wasting over half the series' content on the non-events of a short, 1-chapter story from the light novels. This really didn't help the franchise's reputation. and the well-received Disappeareance 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 more profitable for them in the long run than animating Kadokawa's IPs (including Haruhi) and the demotion of Atsushi Ito, the man at Kadokawa who primarily pushed for Haruhi in anime, 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.
Jewelpet Kira Deco! is a rare inversion of this. It was intended to be the anime's last season but its very poor reception (and apparent failure) resulted in at least one more season being ordered so the franchise wouldn't go out on a bad note.
Originally, there was actually going to be a third film in The Rescuers series movies by Disney. 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.
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.
Speaking of The Black Cauldron, that movie itself almost became the franchise killer of the entireDisney 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 most of the remaining staff in the traditional animation department laid off.
Similar to The Rescuers above, 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.
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.
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 (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.
The failure of Happy Feet Two 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.
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.
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 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.
Speaking of Beverly Hills Cop, the first two 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 was 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.
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 Jeff Shaara (son of Michael), 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.
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.
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 Alienł couldn't kill.
Jurassic Park III. A fourth film languished in Development Hell, but when Michael Crichtondied, 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.
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 (lead 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.
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).
A reboot film came out in 2011, and if the incredibly poor box office (barely half of its cost) and a lawsuit filed by SLM—a company in bankruptcy that's supposed to have been dormant for a decade, mind you—over the rights to the franchise are any indication, it seemed to have killed the franchise all over again...until another Arnold-helmed Conan movie was announced. Similar to Superman Returns, it is reported to be a direct sequel to the original film that will ignore the events of Conan the Destroyer.
Mortal Kombat, while not a blockbuster hit, is a decent action flick. The second movie 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.
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.
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.
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 lay 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 Mummy Trilogy franchise's third film is widely considered to be inferior to the first (a very fun Indiana Jones style romp) and second (the first film on steroids) films. Probably not helped by the seven year gap between the second and third films - it badly misses Rachel Weisz, who was replaced by Maria Bello (Weisz's and Fraser's chemistry in the first two films is obvious whereas Fraser and Bello are totally unconvincing as a couple). The omission of Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) robs the film of those actors abilities to stretch beyond the schlock setting and craft believable and human characters. Jet Li is criminally underused in the Dragon Emperor role, spending most of his screen time as an CGI dragon. Michelle Yeoh is wasted in her role also and the sequence with the yetis stretches willing suspension of disbelief too far. Critically panned with poor fan reactions it made LESS money than either of the first two despite seven years worth of inflation and has probably killed the main franchise (though the The Scorpion King spinoff series continues).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III put the movie series on hold for 14 years. The 2007 animated film made a decent-but-not-spectacular showing at the box office, but poor reviews have led to the series being rebooted in live-action once again (if it continues at all).
Ryan Reynolds had such a bad experience making the GL film that he's stated he has no interest in doing a Justice League movie unless he knows that it'll have a quality script and director.
Batman & Robin was so awful (lead actor George Clooney even said "I think we killed the franchise") that it convinced Warner to let the Batman fields lie fallow for a while, then let someone elsetake a crack at the series. Some Marvel Studios high-up is on record for saying that Batman & Robin was the most influential comic book movie, on account of it definitively showing to movie studios that they can't shovel out crap comic movies and expect the fans to like it.
The Blade trilogy ended up being permanently dead 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 trilogy will never continue. The film rights have since reverted back to Marvel.
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 Ćon Flux, which were also lambasted by critics for being poor-to-mediocre in most aspects.
Following the critical savaging and box office failure of Punisher: War Zone, Lions Gatecouldn't do any morePunisher movies and had to give the film rights back to Marvel Studios/The Walt Disney Company as a direct result. Marvel has since then announced that they are planning a Continuity Reboot of the franchise (even though every attempt at a Punisher movie has not linked itself to the previous effort in any way).
After Spider Man 3, the Spider-Man 4 film was cancelled in favor of a Continuity Reboot right before filming started, after a release date had been announced. 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 franchise's death. The true culprit for the death/rebooting 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 Marvel Studios' hands instead of, you know, acknowledging the murder of the golden egg-laying goose.
And to top it all off, as of 2013, Sony said that they are NEVER EVER going to let Spidey go anytime soon.
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.
Television series based films
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:
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 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 new TV series burned at the stake by critics and canceled after four episodes were airednote possibly an instance of Screwed by the Network, as ABC had to know it wasn't going to get much of anything by dumping the show against The X Factor and The Big Bang Theory, it's not so much "Good morning, Angels" as "Goodbye, Angels."
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.
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.
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. More recently, there's been a reappraisal of the film and a borderline case of Vindicated by History (it helps that today's audiences have a better understanding that with David Lynch, Mind Screw comes with the territory) and Lynch might actually be able to bring it back if he tried, but he's said in interviews that the whole thing is a bit too painful to revisit.
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.
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 franchise was already entering uncertain territory as production had to be moved from England to Mexico in order to save money. Not only that, but 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 of recent memory 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 "Cubby" Broccoli (not to mention the last Bond movie to take place during the Cold War). There wouldn't be a Bond movie released for six years (the longest such delay in franchise history) due to legal wrangling over control of the series. 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 performed badly (it was the best performing of the series until Casino Royale) it was deemed ridiculous by many, and received at best mixed reviews. Soon after, Brosnan was dismissed and the franchise rebooted 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 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.
Fantasy Leader, a Blogspot user, created a detailed essay on what was almost the Franchise Killer for Super Sentaihere. To recap: the coincidental collision of a gradual Broken Base that built up starting with Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman five years ago (within the fandom) and a pair of Genre Killingreal-life incidents (outside of the fandomnote The sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway and the Great Hanshin Earthquake, both in March of that year, made the 1995 season's Darker and Edgier plot very untenable) 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.
Heroes Volumes 3 and 4 (both making up season 3) qualify as such. The second season was a major letdown, 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. Season four (Volume 5) got to happen, and while it still had its 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 they can't even get a greenlight in regards to a miniseries for a last hurrah, meaning due to the failure of the last few seasons Cut Short wound up in play.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Thankfully averted three times with Let's Make a Deal. One revival came in 1990 (a year flooded with mediocre game shows, many of which were one-season revivals) with inexperienced host Bob Hilton. Due to falling ratings, original host Monty Hall returned to try and prop the show up, but it didn't work. An "edgier" remake in 1996 called Big Deal (hosted by Mark DeCarlo) lasted a whopping six episodes on FOX in 1996, and a 2003 revival for NBC — with host Billy Bush and equally phony attempts at being "hip" — lasted three episodes. CBS finally got it right in 2009 with Wayne Brady as host; this revival entered its fourth season in 2012.
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.
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 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.
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. Most of the fanbase has effectively disavowed Seven Sorrows' existence, allowing the series to have gone out on a high note with Dark Legacy, instead.
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.
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."
Although it wasn't exactly bad, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter was such an incredible deviation from the rest of the Breath of Fire games (a series that's usually very big on continuity, to boot) that the series came to a screeching halt. Several years and a new console generation later, the series has shown no signs of reawakening. Even when another company offered to buy the license to make a new Breath of Fire game, Capcom refused. Eventually, a new episode, Breath of Fire VI, was announced... on PC and handheld devices. To add insult to injury, the official website shows sprites of a red-haired boy: both heroes of franchise, Ryu (who is blue haired since the first game) and Nina, are nowhere to be seen.
Due to poor sales and, more specifically, Executive Meddling, the Darkstalkers series hasn't seen a new release since 1998. Yoshinori Ono (Street Fighter IV producer) has been working vigorously towards a new installment, but it's unlikely to get any sort of release due to low sales of Darkstalkers Resurrection (a downloadable re-release of the second and third games released March 2013).
Mega Man, once a staple in Capcom's line-up and one of the faces of the company, has had this happen to several of its offshoots. Things have complicated even further with Keiji Inafune, the man most associated with the franchise, leaving Capcom altogether following the cancellation of a planned Mega Man Legends revival (along with other highly questionable decisions by the company in the years afterwardnote the cancellation of Mega Man Universe, the poor iOS port of Mega Man X, and Rockman Xover being just three of them).
Mega Man 8, due to various factors (including widely reviled voice acting and some poorly devised weapons and items), resulted in the core part of the franchise being left fallow for twelve years. And while the eighth game is still in continuity (deliberate references to it were made in both Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10), the gameplay and design aesthetic reverted back to that of the second installment, widely considered the Magnum Opus of the Classic series.
However, Mega Man 10 shows that trying to milk the nostalgia cow dry can have negative effects, as fans were already split by the intentional backstep to the 8-bit days. 10, while having generally positive reception and sales, was seen as more of the same and not as good as the ninth game, and turned off even more fans by once again deliberately ignoring staple game mechanics that also originated in the NES era (like the Slide and Charge Shot) in favor of writing another love letter to MM2 and throwing out more teasing about connections to Mega Man Xthat went nowhere. Between MM10 and Inafune's departure from Capcom, it seems that fans will likely never receive another Mega Man platformer, let alone a clear bridge between the Classic series and MMX. Added to the above and coupled with the fact that only three of the seven Mega Man sub-series have not ended on a Cliff Hanger (Battle Network, Zero, and Star Force), it's easy to see why Mega Man fans are so angry nowadays.
Steel Battalion Heavy Armor seems to be the death knell for what was otherwise a highly immersive and otherwise decent Humongous Mecha franchise. While most of the reviews praise the concept behind Heavy Armor, such as its story and the desired gameplay effect, almost everyone takes umbrage with the execution, which is to say the mandatory Kinect interface and its inability to accurately translate player motions into in-game actions. Between scathing reviews and sales figures below even those of the original Steel Battalion (which was a break-even affair in the first place), Capcom has made no mention of sequels to redeem the title or even a patch to smooth out the control issues.
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.
Red Faction met an untimely end with the underwhelming reception of Armageddon and the multiplayer-focused Battlegroundsnote the latter being based on the successful Red Faction: Guerilla. 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.
The MX vs. ATV franchise was killed off after the various changes in gameplay to MX vs. ATV: Alive left fans cold.
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.
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.
Xenogears was intended to be a 6-part series but was heavily underfunded. 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 below).
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. Time will tell if the Nintendo 3DS game will bring it back from the brink again.
On a similar note, 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.
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.
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 InstallmentAlex 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.
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:
Shenmue II, as listed above, suffered from awful sales and ended with an unresolved cliffhanger.
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.
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).
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).
Likewise, the Sonic 4 saga, which was planned to span three episodes, was cut short 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. Upon release, Episode II received a more mixed reception and lower sales than the first episode, and since then no comments regarding the state of the series had been issued since. On top of that, the PR manager, which had been part of the Sonic 4 saga since it was first announced, has left Sega for Sony.
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.
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.
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.
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 series has since been taken "out of rotation"note A new MOH game was meant to be released every other year, with Battlefield filling in the gaps between releases. 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.
Dead Space 3 also fell short of expectations after two reasonably well-received entries, leaving the future of the franchise in doubt. The inexplicable addition of microtransactions to the game when the other two had none certainly didn't help.
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).
On a similar note, Rock Band appears to be hanging up on its traditional five-button gameplay, possibly due to the rather disappointing 82,000 units Green Day: Rock Band sold, and has chosen to expand on the Pro Mode from Rock Band 3.
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.
Similarly to Darksiders II, 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.
Fatal Frame III's poor reviews and worse sales killed the franchise outside of its native Japan, where a fourth game was releasednote but never left Japan due to game breaking bugs that neither Nintendo or Tecmo wanted to take responsibility for (and Nintendo not wanting to bring over a very imperfect game), as well as a remake of the second game on the Wiinote which was also released in Europe and Australia.
Five years elapsed between Win Back and its sequel, which in the end turned out completely awful and flopped.
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.
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. The only signs of survival the franchise currently has in any media is a webcomic series on Shifty Look.
Although Xenosaga was meant to be a six-part series, it ended after three games. None of the games individually was 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.
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...Until now.
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 news ideas to the series.
The poorly-received Metroid: Other M seems to have put the Metroid series on ice for the time being. Despite good initial sales, the game failed to sell as well as Nintendo had hoped. Several higher-ups have maintained that Retro Studios, who made the very well-received Metroid Prime sub-series, have top priority for any new Metroid game, but Retro focusing on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for an initially-planned 2013 holiday release serves to indicate that they don't have anything Metroid-related in their development queue for the time being.
Betrayal at Krondor was supposed to be the first of a revolutionary series of games that combined adventure novel-style storytelling with interactive gameplay, in a setting based on The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond Feist. And while the game itself was very much successful, its sequel, Return to Krondor, was ruined by Executive Meddling and license problems and was released woefully unfinished and underpolished, making this a bad enough experience for Feist that he's been unwilling to risk a repeat experience.
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-clonedDriv3r and Parallel Lines by going back to the style of the original two games.
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.
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 even worse treatment before it also saw it's 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.
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.
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 no interest in the seriesON THE ORIGINAL FANBASES' CHOSEN PLATFORM!
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.
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 Boltsmay had also been the final straw for the old Rare as well-as of 2010 has hardly any of the staff from it's 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 it's older I Ps anymore.
Turok: Evolution managed to kill off the 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. Probably no coincidence that publisher Acclaimwent 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.
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 haven't done any party-based role-playing games with it.
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.
Blood II: The Chosen is the reason Caleb won't live again anytime soon.
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.
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.
There was a fourth Descent game planned, but it was cancelled due to poor sales of Descent 3 and Interplay going bankrupt. Interplay has recently come out of bankruptcy and reregistered the trademark, and there are rumors that the fourth game may yet be made.
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.
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 critical flop, with reviewers pointing out the confusing controls, poor character balancing, and ugly graphics.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laudestumbled 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.
Majin Tensei was a decently-received Mega Ten 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 an eventual virtual console release of the original and a WiiWare sequel that's been in Development Hell for years, the series has been completely dormant ever since.
The Infinity series of visual novels by KID were doing well in spite of Executive Meddling and finance issues, the last installment 12Riven, which would be a spinoff called the 'Integral' series, did less than stellar sales and put an end to both Infinity and bankrupted KID. KID was later bought off by Cyber Front and released the official sequel to Infinity called Code18; however, we don't talk about Code18 which means talks of another installment is deader than dead.
Vietcong 2, which got lower reviews than the original or Fist Alpha thanks to its dumbed-down gameplay.
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.
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. It should be noted, however, that while the cartoons were put on ice, Felix still ran in newspaper and magazine comics for quite a long time.
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; afterBeast Machines, no Transformers series would be developed in the West until almost a decade later.
It should be noted that the '90s era Marvel cartoons never had an official, streamlined or solidified continuity as with the DC animated universe because of the different animation houses and production teams. Robert Hays, who provided the voice of Tony Stark on the solo Iron Man series reprised his role in the Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk animated series from this era. Likewise, Chuck McCann and Beau Weaver, who voiced The Thing and Mr. Fantastic on the Fantastic Four animated series, reprised their roles on The Incredible Hulk. Most importantly, the cast from the X-Men animated series crossed over to Spider-Man.
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.
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.
If anything, things were set in motion for Yogi by the failure of Yo Yogi! three years prior.
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.