Bart: Hey, Dad. How come they're taking The Cosby Show off the air? Homer: Because Mr. Cosby wanted to stop before the quality suffered. Bart: Quality, schmality! If I had a TV show, I'd run that sucker into the ground! Homer:Amen, boy. Amen.
Franchises are often created with tender loving care by writers, directors, authors, game designers, etc. These individuals have something specific in mind, and put a lot of life into their creations, and it really shows, especially when the creation becomes very popular.
But sometimes, the creation does so well, that an executive, a publisher, or someone else with a lot of power, demands the franchise continue. The author is told to write more books (or discovers that nothing else draws in the money). The game designer is told to make more games. The director is told to make a movie sequel.
Sometimes this happens when the creator really doesn't want to keep going, and would rather try out different things. But the creator doesn't have much choice — it's either do the sequel yourself, or let someone else do it, perhaps less adequately (thereby tarnishing the image of the original) — and keeps going anyway. The result is sometimes a lifeless franchise, a franchise that has had all the originality and creativity — all the life — sucked out of it, but keeps stumbling forward anyway. This often has the tragic effect of souring the creator on their own work, sometimes preventing a more natural follow-up or continuation. If this happens, then the franchise can go on indefinitely, continued by the company long after the creator has tried to put a definitive end on the series and backed away from it permanently - or even afterthe creator has died. At this point, since it is effectively immortal, the phenomenon might be known as a Franchise Vampire.
Increasingly common in the game industry. Modern games take such a large amount of time and money to develop compared to older games thus making Smash Hit 3 and a new intellectual property at the same time unfeasible. Some developers have remedied this by buying or hiring other development companies to work on cash-in sequels while they work on their next big thing.
A subtrope of Executive Meddling (and sometimes Cash Cow Franchise). See also Sequelitis, Fallen Creator, Postscript Season, Only The Creator Does It Right. Compare Capcom Sequel Stagnation, a different style of milking.
Can frequently lead to Creator Backlash. Outlived Its Creator is the pinnacle of this trope. Contrast with Franchise Killer and Torch the Franchise and Run. See also Undead Horse Trope.
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Anime and Manga
Legend has it that this happened to Dragon Ball. According to the story, the creator of the manga, Akira Toriyama, wanted to stop at several points (the final arc of Dragon Ball, then the Frieza arc of DBZ, then the end of the Cell saga and the advent of Gohan outleveling everyone), but meddling executives wanted to take advantage of its extraordinary success and told him to keep going. He couldn't end it at the Cell saga, and thus had to do the Buu saga. And because of Goku's massive popularity in Japan, Toriyama never once got to do what he had wanted to do when starting DBZ: pass the main hero mantle from Goku to Gohan (in reality, he had no concrete plan of where to end it, he just wanted to stop and it was fan demand more than executives that kept him going).
Eventually he did leave, and GT happened without his input...mostly. The GT-exclusive character Gill actually was from one of Toriyama's designs and he did character designs for all of the characters at beginning of GT, even the mustached Vegeta (this is frequently given as further evidence that Toriyama was absolutely fed up with it — the designs have several obvious oddities that — like mustached Vegeta — all reek of Writer Revolt).
A later MMORPG, Dragon Ball Online based around the Dragon Ball Z universe (but set at least a hundred years after the Buu saga), has Toriyama's direct input. However, and of interesting note, the game completely ignores ''Dragon Ball GT'' in its canon. This means everything that happened in GT, ranging from Majin Buu "dying" (he even procreates a completely new, selectable race), to Goku being kidified, will be rendered moot in the game. Since Toriyama is directly involved in this, some may see this as Word Of God.
Mazinger Z was supposed to wrap up at episode 58. However, the series was so wildly successful it continued for another thirty-five episodes. And then two movies were made. And two sequels. And more movies. And crossovers. And spin-offs. And reboots. And remakes. AndGo Nagai stated that he got offers for a Mazinger-Z live-action movie...
Kazuki Takahashi of Yu-Gi-Oh! fame can't leave the series. He's been repeatedly been called in for material for the newer series, such as 5D's, and made a set of new artworks for the Anniversary Pack of the card game. Overall, he has only influence over it in name and some artwork.
Urusei Yatsura got to the point where one of the movies not-too-subtly encouraged the audience to let go of it so the creators could get on with their lives.
The rumor mill states that the Sailor Moon manga was supposed to end after the first story arc, with the original creator allegedly planning a Kill 'em AllDowner Ending. Then, it was supposed to end after the third story arc and finally ended after a fifth arc. Ironically, later manga arcs are often considered to be the better ones from the series — in contrast to the corresponding anime seasons that were being produced at the same time — so in case of the manga "zombifying" was not necessarily a bad thing.
Fist of the North Star was originally planned to wrap up with the conclusion of the Raoh saga. However, due to its popularity, the manga was renewed for a couple more years, forcing authors Buronson and Tetsuo Hara to continue the story beyond its intended conclusion. Even Buronson admitted that it was hard for him to continue writing the manga after killing off Raoh and doesn't remember much of what happened afterward.
Monkey Punch originally intended for Lupin III to be another one of his adult parody manga series that only lasted a few chapters like most of his past works. However, Weekly Manga Action, the magazine that serialized it, started selling like hotcakes because of this and led to him continuing the manga till it lasted five years. Afterwards, TV series, movies and specials have kept the series going for about forty years. Even Monkey Punch himself expressed complete surprise over the series' sudden popularity. This hasn't stopped him from continuing to work on it with subsequent sequel manga, though.
Gundam is a very odd example. Creator Yoshiyuki Tomino didn't expect it to go beyond the original Mobile Suit Gundam, especially after it was nearly cancelled. However, its runaway success in reruns (and especially the recut movie trilogy) led to its becoming an overnight success, and for over a decade he continued to work on sequels. In 1994, fed up with Executive Meddling, Tomino sold the rights to the franchise to Sunrise and went off to work on other series. Not willing to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, Sunrise started producing the Alternate Universe series (like Gundam Wing and Gundam SEED), while occasionally dipping back into the Universal Century timeline. As of its 34th anniversary in 2013, Gundam consisted of 12 TV series, 7 OVAs, and 13 movie adaptions note only three, UC verse's Char's Counterattack and Gundam F91, and the (comparably) recent Gundam 00's A Wakening Of The Trailblazer are original; the others have are recuts, and God only knows how many manga, video games and other media, and it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
It's become something of a popular fandom myth that Tomino hates Gundam and has actively tried to sink it for years, usually attributed to his reputation for Kill 'em All. In the novelization of the original series, Tomino actually kills off main character Amuro Ray; however, he explained that he was just thinking of the novels as a stand-alone story, and if he had given consideration the the possibility of a sequel, he wouldn't have killed Amuro.
This myth was reportedly debunked by the man himself when he momentarily returned to direct ∀ Gundam and later the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam movie trilogy. During either of these two points, Tomino all but outright admitted that Gundam was his greatest creation and that, while he has some regrets, he still takes certain pride in its development. Along that line, it should be noted that either of the two series are a dramatic switch from usual Tomino storytelling methods, with Turn A being a more lighthearted character drama and the Zeta trilogy omitting many of the darker elements of the original series, which included replacing the ending with a far happier one where Kamille wasn't mentally crippled by Scirocco, the AEUG remains intact and Axis never goes to war with the Earthsphere. The latter even closes with an optimistic dialogue spoken by Sayla Massnote specifically leftover recordings from original seiyuu Yo Inoue, who died in 2003.
X-Men. Although American comics are meant to be published for as long as they sell (except for mini series) X-men has produced more spin-offs than any other Marvel comic since the 80's. Virtually every X-Men related hero (and even a couple of its villains!) has had a series or miniseries of his or her own. And most recently, a new title, Uncanny Avengers, actually merges the group with Marvel's other leading franchise!
It's a remarkable accomplishment for a series that was canceled in 1970 and relegated to bi-monthly reprints for nearly five years.
The Land Before Time got as far as the thirteenth installment (and Don Bluth was only involved with the first)... They've finally stopped making them, but only because Universal shut down their animation department.
Jurassic Park can be considered this. While the novel Jurassic Park was intended to be a standalone work by author Michael Crichton, after the massive financial success of its 1993 film adaptation, the film's producers pressured him into writing a sequel novel so they could make a sequel film. He wrote a second novel, which was quickly adapted into the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, which only recycled the basic plot premise from the book. While Crichton helped write the screenplay for the first Jurassic Park film, he had no involvement in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Despite The Lost World receiving mixed reviews, a third film, Jurassic Park III was released in 2001, which wasn't based off any novel and again had no involvement from Crichton. It, too, was met with mixed reviews and is generally considered an unnecessary sequel. By this point, the film franchise has taken on a longer and much different continuity than Crichton originally created in the books. Despite Crichton's death in 2008, a fourth Jurassic Park film is in the works and set to be released in 2014.
Planet of the Apes. The second movie ends with an Earth-Shattering Kaboom that would prevent further sequels. The third uses time travel to continue in the present day instead of After the End, and had an ending that was originally only envisioned as a connection to the original movie instead of a Sequel Hook... but it then led to two more sequels (with the fifth being the absolute worst). And to make matters worse, the studio slashed the budget for every new movie!
Francis Ford Coppola had no intention of making any sequels to The Godfather. It's typically said that the only reason he made Part II was to get the funding to make Apocalypse Now, which led to further executive pressure and a Part III as well. (Hence the often-quoted line "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.")
The sixth entry in The Pink Panther franchise, Revenge of..., was essentially commissioned by United Artists just to have a big film for summer 1978. By the time it was done, the long-strained working relationship between Peter Sellers (Inspector Clouseau) and Blake Edwards (writer-director) had snapped. Sellers planned a continuation he could put his heart into with Romance of the Pink Panther, which he was co-scripting and Edwards was paid not to participate in, but the project died along with Sellers in 1980. Edwards decided to continue the series himself with a Replacement Scrappy character in Curse of..., which flopped instantly and led to the original franchise's death...
ZAZ has made it quite clear that they had no part or interest in the Airplane! sequel (in the first one's DVD commentary, they admit they've never even seen it), thinking that all of the good ideas had been used. Indeed, half the jokes in the sequel were recycled from the first film...
When his father died suddenly in 1956, Leo Gorcey decided he could no longer continue with the Bowery Boys movie series. (His father Bernard Gorcey played sweet shop owner Louie Dumbrowski in those movies.) The fact that Gorcey had top billing in the movies didn't prevent Republic from continuing the series, replacing Gorcey with Stanley Clements. The series limped along with seven flat movies before ending two years later.
In a 1982 interview, John Carpenter stated that Myers and Dr. Loomis both died at the end of Halloween II 1981 and that he intended to make the series into an anthology "like The Twilight Zone but on a larger scale." After the financial flop of Halloween III: Season of the Witch Carpenter opted out of doing any more and signed away the rights to producer Moustapha Akkad. Michael Myers went on to appear in five more films after his canon death, not counting the remakes.
Rob Zombie's has shown disappointment at the studio's intent to resurrect Michael for a third remake film, despite his insistance (and refusal to direct) that H2 was the end of the franchise.
As neatly summed by this: George Lucas had enough of Star Wars movies after finishing the prequel trilogy (partially because the Unpleasable Fanbase will always complain about anything he does). Then Disney purchases Lucasfilm and announces an Episode VII.
Jaws had three unremarkable sequels. The book's author and Steven Spielberg had nothing to do with them (the director in particular stated that "making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick", though Spielberg later admitted that he could have done Jaws 2 if he didn't have a horrible time with the first).
Lethal Weapon 4 was made six years after the previous installment mainly because Warner Brothers was running into financial trouble and the series was just about the only Cash Cow Franchise it could count on to deliver a good box office return.
The Rev. W. Awdry originally intended for book 12, The Eight Famous Engines, in his famous Railway Series books to be the final volume. The publishers insisted that he keep going. Considering how popular the books were and are, it's understandable.
Michael Crichton intended for his 1990 novel Jurassic Park to be a standalone work. After its film adaptation, which he helped write the screenplay for, became a huge financial success, its creators pressured him to write a follow-up book so they could make a sequel film. Crichton reluctantly agreed and published The Lost World in 1995, which retconned a lot of the plot points from Jurassic Park. After The Lost World's publishing, Crichton had no involvement in the Jurassic Park film franchise, which has the potential to carry on despite his death in 2008. This is further elaborated on in the film section.
The success of Goosebumps led publisher Scholastic to bet everything they had on it and tell author R.L. Stine to keep going. He did, and the quality suffered. The books ended up Strictly Formula and became shorter. Their popularity dropped as a result. It's been rumored that Stine became so fed up with this that many of the later books were ghostwritten.
Possibly averted with Stine's recent ''Goosebumps Horrorland'' books and their spinoffs. If anything, these books are getting longer and more complex (if not necessarily better) as the series goes on.
The Adventures of Pinocchio was supposed to end with Pinocchio getting killed off for being such a sociopa... er, "bad little boy". Carlo Collodi's editor forced it so that Pinocchio was saved from death, and 20 more chapters were written.
In Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos Of The Death Sun, author Appin Dungannon is enslaved to writing sequels to a series of Conan-wannabe novels despite wanting recognition as a serious author because the first few were so popular. As a result, the author is cantankerous and rude to sci-fi fans in general, and violent towards fans of his own books. He comes to hate his barbarian hero so much that he writes several humiliating death scenes for the character. One reaction to this sets the plot rolling.
In Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, Martin Silenus could have ended The Dying Earth more or less immediately after the first installment, a long poem. He keeps going for the money. Eventually, it leads to him "losing his muse", and spending the next several decades looking for it.
Stephen King's Misery. The main character of the novel is so fed up of the trashy Victorian-esque novels he writes, he conclusively kills off the main character of the books he writes. Then he crashes his car and gets taken in by a huge fan of his... who ties him to a bed and forces him to write another sequel, making him have to resurrect the extremely dead character. It actually turns out to be the best book in the series. He takes it with him and publishes it after he escapes.
Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, "Author! Author!", about a mystery writer forced by his publisher to write endless novels about his famous detective, Reginald de Meister, despite his desire to write a serious novel. Unfortunately for him, De Meister seems so real to fans that he actuallybecomesreal and demands not only that more "Reginald de Meister" stories be written, but that the quality be improved.
Sherlock Holmes died because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had grown tired of writing him and wanted to devote more time to his historical novels. Public and editorial pressure forced him to bring Holmes back. In stories written years later, Holmes reappeared, having survived (although the first story published after Conan Doyle's eight-year hiatus, "The Hound of the Baskervilles", was set before "The Final Problem"). This is thus also an example of a (metaphorical) character zombie.
Quite similarly, French author Maurice Leblanc tried to kill his hero Arsčne Lupin but had to resurrect him for several new books due to popularity.
Another French writer, Pierre Ponson du Terrail, pulled a "Doyle" when he killed off his pulp hero Rocambole, then eventually brought him back from the dead due to public pressure.
L. Frank Baum of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fame never really intended for the original book to spawn a series, and by the third sequel he was growing tired of writing about the Land of Oz. Unfortunately, none of his other books sold. He even tried creating something of a Backdoor Pilot by writing an Oz novel in which Dorothy and company take a backseat to a new set of characters who later showed up in an unrelated book. But it didn't work, and financial troubles forced Baum to keep writing Oz books for the rest of his life. In the introduction to one book, the narrator actually tells the reader that he knows many stories not related to Oz, and wishes he had a chance to tell them.
Even Baum's death could not stop the series the author himself didn't want to continue. A sequence of different authors were hired by Baum's publisher to serve as his "heirs", and for the next six decades a dozen more sequels were churned out, of greatly varying quality.
Robert Jordan's epic series The Wheel of Time was originally conceived as a standard fantasy trilogy, then expanded to a planned 6 books. At the publisher's insistence, this was expanded to 8, then 12 volumes. Author Existence Failure occurred during the writing of the 12th volume; but Brandon Sanderson was hired to complete the series, which is now expected to run to 14 volumes. According to some reports the publisher insisted on increasing the volume count because they didn't have a way to publish 2000+ page books.
Thomas Harris only wrote Hannibal Rising because Dino De Laurentis threatened to make the movie without his involvement. Given the poor critical and box office reception the movie received, the franchise is probably really dead now.
RA Salvatore has been said to have wished that he had killed Drizzt Do'Urden off years ago. In fact, he had once withdrawn from the franchise only to have Wizards of the Coast go so far as to solicit a manuscript by another author for a new Drizzt novel Shores of Dusk. The novel even appeared in catalogs for an August 1997 release. Salvatore caved and the solicited novel disappeared. That was ten novels ago.
Ian Fleming allegedly wanted to end his James Bond novels at one point (sources vary as to whether it was after From Russia with Love or You Only Live Twice, both of which end in such a way that the books could have concluded, although Bond is not left in a good state in either), only to be coaxed back to write more.
Regarding Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels; Trojan Odyssey shows every sign of being the last book. Pitt, Gunn, and Giordino are promoted to desk jobs while Sandecker becomes VP. Long-running subplots are finally resolved with Dirk marrying Loren and finally recognizes the strange man named Clive Cussler he meets at the wedding as the stranger that helps him every adventure, and he is introduced to his adult children he never knew about. This was six books ago.
Dorothy L. Sayers is an interesting case in that she zombie'd her own franchise with no help from publishers whatsoever (though they were undoubtably grateful that she did). She originally wrote Strong Poison, introducing the character of novelist Harriet Vane, because she was tired of Lord Peter Wimsey and wanted to get rid of him by marrying him off - at the time it was held that a detective-series hero could not be married without breaking the 'rules' of the genre. However, when Sayers finished drafting the novel she realized that in Harriet she had created a character with more integrity and interior reality than her series hero had, so she had to go back and write almost as many novels again featuring Lord Peter before he reached a point of psychological complexity and reality enough that she could feel comfortable letting Harriet marry him. She then wrote a novel about their honeymoon and had plans to continue the series further, but moved onto other projects and never completed the next manuscript.
Rambo is also technically a zombie. The author David Morrell's novel First Blood featured a former Vietnam veteran John Rambo - who is shot in the back of his head with a shotgun at the end of the novel. Rambo dies, period. Then they changed the ending in the Stallone movie and Rambo survived. David Morrell then went on and wrote the second and third Rambo novels that were based on the movies. He even stated in the beginning of his second Rambo novel that in his original book Rambo died, but the new book is based on a movie and now Rambo lives. A sort of disappointing moment to the author to write novelizations based on a movies based on his own original book.
It's easy to notice the numerous times John D. Fitzgerald tried to end the Great Brain books. The first and longest book ends with Tom suddenly reforming out of nowhere, but the second book reveals this was just a ruse to get a new bicycle for Christmas. That book ends with Tom being Put on a Bus to the Academy in Salt Lake City, and the third book focuses on John getting a new adopted brother and saving him from an outlaw, while the fourth focuses on Tom's adventures at the Academy, and the fifth focuses on Tom's adventures upon returning home after his first year. That book ends with Tom being put on "trial" and told all the kids in the town will give him the silent treatment if he swindles anyone again. But then came a sixth and seventh book, which placed an academy right there in Adenville (avoiding rehashing the fourth book) and having Tom get sneakier at his plots so as to avoid invoking his suspended sentence. The seventh book ends with Tom turning thirteen and... um... "discovering girls", losing interest in his old plots, and even that book seems to leave the door open for yet more sequels at the very end (though Fitzgerald died before he could finish them).
Smallville becomes one of these after season seven, when the original writers left and the name becomes an Artifact Title.
According to Word Of God, The Prisoner is a rare case of a project becoming a Franchise Zombie in pre-production. In this 1977 interview, series creator and star Patrick McGoohan said, "I thought the concept of the thing would sustain for only seven episodes." However, meddling executives wanted the episode count raised to 26. In the end, 17 episodes were filmed, but McGoohan claimed that only seven of them ("Arrival", "Dance of the Dead", "Check Mate", "Free For All", "The Chimes of Big Ben" and "Once Upon A Time"/"Fall Out") "really count".
The 90's sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch was arguably this. Lasting from 1996 to 2003, the series lasted beyond Sabrina's teenage years, and spun-off two animated shows. The first animated series generally gets some sympathy, but the second does not.
Power Rangers creator Haim Saban considers the Disney era of his franchise (Power Rangers Wild Force to Power Rangers RPM) to be a personal zombie period to him, saying in his own words that "Disney did not develop the property and exploit it in the way that it deserves."
Showrunner Jonathan Tzachor deems only Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Power Rangers Wild Force as "counting", but then again, Jonathan's concept of canonicity is strange. note To clarify, each season is in its own continuity (like Super Sentai, Power Rangers' Japanese source material) including Mighty Morphin-In Space, with the three MMPR seasons in three separate continuities.
Later semi-clarified by Paul Schrier at Comic-Con 2011 that, while the current Saban Brands production regime does not like the Disney seasons and wishes they did not exist, they are in-continuity and have not been disowned.
Reportedly, Chris Carter wanted to end The X-Files after the sixth or seventh season, but had to stick around with it because Fox threatened to keep making it, with or without him. This didn't stop him from making another movie years after the series had ended, though.
Norman Lear planned to end All in the Family after Season 8, with Mike and Gloria moving to California (thereby eliminating the intrafamilial conflict that was the heart of the show). But CBS ended up dangling a huge salary increase and production deal to Carroll O'Connor, and the show not only limped along for another season (without Lear), but was retooled as Archie Bunker's Place, which itself lasted four seasons.
John Cleese was reportedly frustrated about the later seasons of Monty Python's Flying Circus, as he felt they had used up all of their original ideas, but the rest of the team carried on for a single season of the show, which was renamed Monty Python.
In one documentary about the Monty Python troupe the rest of the group conceded that the quality severely dropped and that the way Terry Jones and John Cleese butted heads over what and what should not be included was their main source of quality control.
The Office US is considered to have become this after the departure of Steve Carell, which led to Michael Scott, the main character, being written out of the show.
Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence wanted to end the series several times, but was forced to keep going. In its 9th season, with most of the original cast leaving and the setting moved to a new location, he tried to change the name to separate it from the previous eight seasons but wasn't allowed to. It was finally canceled after said season.
The show Weeds is starting to become this as the creator always seems to announce that the current season will be the last only for Showtime to renew it midway through that season.
In-Universe in Castle. The main character is a writer who has got so tired of his creation that he has him shot in his last book. This causes angst with with his publisher (an ex wife).
Anne of Green Gables falls into this category. As he describes in the DVD featurette "Kevin Sullivan's Classic", producer/writer/director Kevin Sullivan only intended to do one mini-series adapting the original novel in 1985. Afterwards, the network pressured him to make a sequel, though he chose to only loosely adapt some later Anne novels rather than pick one for a close adaptation. Afterwards, demand remained high so inspired by a short story collection by LM Montgomery he created the long-running series Road to Avonlea. In 2000, more than a decade after the second mini-series, he reassembled the original cast for a wholly original, Darker and Edgier sequel set during World War I (completely messing up the continuity of both the first two movies and and books). Sullivan couldn't let Anne rest, however, and brought her back in a near-fantasy animated reimagining, Anne: Journey to Green Gables in 2005 (which added a Disney-like villain to the story), and in 2008 he produced a live-action movie A New Beginning, now set in World War II as a middle-aged Anne reflects on her life before the events of the first movie. Fortunately, except for the animated film which has fallen into obscurity, the frequent revisits to Avonlea to Sullivan's credit are generally critically lauded and popular with viewers (if criticized by the Anne equivalent of Trekkies).
The Apprentice seems to combine this with Adored by the Network. The ratings for the past few seasons have been horrible (one season finishing below a 2 in ratings week after week), however it keeps getting renewed despite awful ratings and flagging interest. In fact, some even wonder if Donald Trump's short lived attempt to run for President was nothing more than an attempt to increase viewership and keep the show running for more seasons.
Of course, that nowadays seems to apply solely to the Celebrity version. That season that was stuck in the 1s (and even went below a 1 on Thanksgiving night)? It was an attempted REVIVAL of the non-Celebrity version after a THREE-YEAR HIATUS. Needless to say, that version of the show is now dead and buried.
Tony Garnett, producer of Between The Lines, publicly said that he felt the third and final series of the show fell into this trap when he was asked why he decided not to make a third season of his popular series This Life.
Supernatural could also qualify for this trope since Eric Kripke only intended the show to run for five seasons. The show is on its eighth season and has been renewed for a ninth.
Army Men. The series featured the absolute worst GameRankings scores, and still new titles were released once or twice a year.
The Mega Man X series was supposed to end with X5, and then progress to the Mega Man Zero series in the future. Unfortunately, the series continued without Inafune's knowledge into X6, and his only input afterwards was Maverick Hunter X and minor designer's advice regarding Axl.*
In fact, it got to the point that when Capcom proposed Command Mission, he adamantly refused.
This was somewhat difficult plot-wise, as X5 ended with Zero dead. X6 then ended with him in the capsule not supposed to be opened until Mega Man Zero making his appearances in X7-X8 awkward. Players were then told to think of the scene in X6 as a bonus ending for the series, rather than something happening directly after the game.
Similarly, the Mega Man Battle Network and Zero series were each supposed to end after three games each, but Battle Network lasted for three more games, and Zero for one more. You can see that the endings of the third game of each series were meant as the end of each. Also, with four of battle network, you kinda get the sense that the creators of the games were trying to go the Kojima route of getting out of it.
Regarding the new series of Crash games, the co-president of Naughty Dog once said "It's a little bit like watching your daughter do porn". The heads of Insomniac, on the other hand, feel every Spyro game between their own and Skylanders to be garbage but don't mind Skylanders itself one bit, praising Activision for managing to resurge Spyro among a new generation.
Speaking of Vivendi, Leisure Suit Larry has become this as a result of Magna Cum Laude, released in 2004 for the PC, PS2, and Xbox. It was created without any input from series creator Al Lowe and he criticizes the game on his website. The sequel, Box Office Bust (at which point the franchise isn't in the property of Activision anymore because it didn't print money.), has received even further drubbing from critics.
The weirdest part is that Al seems to be fine with more LSL games, as long as he's involved with them, and wonders on his website why they don't consult him. But he's also glad that he's not involved when they crash and burn.
Various interviews from developers at Core Design have shown that Tomb Raider 1-4 were genuine attempts to improve on each entry, whether they could be considered to have succeeded or not, however, the "Lara dies" twist at the end of the fourth was a serious attempt to either finish the series or buy time for a next-gen debut. But then they were talked into making Tomb Raider Chronicles, a game where Lara's closest friends reminisce about Lara's previously unseen adventures, as an easy moneygrab; and being distracted by that quite possibly had a small part in the failure of Angel of Darkness'. Of course, it managed to recover after the franchise moved over to Crystal Dynamics' hands and rebooted.
Resident Evil (Biohazard in Japan) maybe falls under this trope, and not only because it has zombies. The franchise had many spin-offs (including some attempts at online gaming for PS2, some light gun games, some mobile phone games, and a portable Gaiden game), but little outside the properly numbered sequels (including Zero, Code Veronica and Revelations) or the Chronicles series is worth playing.
Despite Weskerhaving been killed off, and Shinji Mikami's departure, Capcom has an RE 6andRE 7 in the works. However, starting with 4, the series has inched towards Genre Shift, so Capcom is aware of the need to liven things up to keep a franchise going.
Hideo Kojima originally didn't intend to direct any Metal Gear sequels beyond Metal Gear Solid, but due to the immense success of the game, he was pressured by his superiors to direct Metal Gear Solid 2, which featured a twist ending that he never intended to explain away. Afterward, he wrote the basic outline for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with the intention of handing it out to another director, but no one was willing to take the job. The same thing happened with Metal Gear Solid 4: although he had already named a successor, fans demanded that he return to personally direct the game (which allegedly included death threats). And as the entry on Writer Revolt for that game shows, he didn't take it nicely. And the series is still going on....
He also didn't intend to make a sequel for the first Metal Gear but a coworker who developed Snakes Revenge somehow convinced him to make a real one.
The story behind this is pretty interesting. Kojima met the man who developed Snakes Revenge on the train to work. He didn't know the man, but the man recognized Kojima and talked with him about Snake's Revenge. Apparently he was proud of the game, but he felt it wasn't a true Metal Gear game and mentioned that Kojima could've done better. Kojima later claimed that by the time they reached their stop, he'd already had the entire plot of the canon Metal Gear 2 mapped out in his head.
Twisted Metal was briefly this. Sony and Singletrac split up after Twisted Metal 2, resulting in Sony owning the Twisted Metal name but Singletrac owning the engine. As a result, Sony had No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, and the third and fourth games received relatively poor reviews. Luckily, former Singletrac employees founded Incog Inc. (and later Eat Sleep Play) and Sony handed them back the series from Twisted Metal Black onwards.
Halo: Rumors suggest the franchise was only intended to consist of twogames, but scheduling issues forced Bungie to release the original Halo 2 in a semi-complete state (only about 3/4 done). Then Halo 3 was billed as the big finale of the series. Then... Bungie made the Gaiden GameODST and the prequel Halo: Reach before jumping ship and leaving the series with Microsoft's hands, who've independently churned out Halo Wars and announced a whole trilogy of new games. Guess the fight wasn't quite finished yet, huh?
It is worth telling though that in the entry annex of Bungie's offices, they have a poster-print of thisPenny Arcade strip, signed by the author and artist. Make of that what you will.
Star Control had a brief go at this. The original developers had long since moved on to other projects, and they actually retained rights to all the creative content apart from the name "Star Control". The publisher wanted another game out in the series, even if it lacked any familiar content that would tie it in with the previous games. In the end, the developers gave in, figuring that it was the lesser evil for the series. The game was actually made by completely different people, though. Oh, and there was a novel too, which most people prefer to forget about.
Gunpei Yokoi intended for Metroid to end with Super Metroid in order to have a neat, contained trilogy. After his death, the franchise was revived in 2002 with Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion, and new games have come out at a steady pace ever since.
Guitar Hero is an interesting example as it turned into a zombie but was able to remain competitive with its Spiritual Successor, Rock Band, as well. After Harmonix and Activision parted ways following Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, the series reins were given to Tony Hawk developer Neversoft (whose first entry was Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock) and Harmonix moved on to MTV Games in order to begin producing the Rock Band series. Guitar Hero and Rock Band would remain Dueling Games for three years until 2010, when Warriors of Rock finally saw Activision shelve any future projects in the series.
Upon its release in 1995, Worms turned out as the biggest success for developer Team 17, which keeps riding on it to this day: little of their production since hasn't been related to the Worms franchise, which has currently nearly 20 titles between main episodes, expansions and spin-offs on various platforms. Unfortunately, most if not all the episodes after the earlier ones (especiallythe 3D ones) haven't been as good, not even the most recent Worms Revolution which was intended as a return to form. It is telling that Worms Armageddon is still considered the best episode, more than 13 years after its release.
Neurotically Yours started in 2003 and for 8 years, the series was about Germaine struggling with her life and her own self while Foamy belittled her for being stupid and ranted on about the current idiotic problems in the world. The series was starting to show it was becoming stale after a while, but the creator was making money off of the show and needed the show to keep running since he had to make a living somehow. Rather than keep the show strictly formula, the creator decided to give the series a reboot to introduce new storylines and new characters in order to keep the series fresh.
Show Within a Show example: Ralph Bighead in Rocko's Modern Life was forced to create another show to get out of his contract, but he secretly detests it. Thus, he gets Rocko and his friends to create a terrible show, "Wacky Delly", to get kicked out of his contract. Unfortunately, it was a huge hit. The show goes on with his trying over and over to make it worse and worse, including having nothing but a jar of mayonnaise for 10 minutes on-screen, but it keeps getting more and more popular. It wasn't until he actually tried to make it better that it failed.
The Simpsons creator Matt Groening stated in an interview that it was getting harder to keep the series fresh, and that while it would be around for the next couple of seasons at least, he wanted it to leave on a high note. A few weeks later, he did a public recantation: The Simpsons was fine, and would be continuing for the foreseeable future. That was in 1999.
Ben 10 was created by a four-man group called Man of Action. After the series was through, Cartoon Network continued the franchise without them with Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, both spearheaded by Glen Murakami and Dwayne McDuffie.
The previously mentioned Tom And Jerry was subject to this as well, after Hanna and Barbara left MGM, changing hands many times throughout the decades.
Seth MacFarlane was asked about this in an interview (the question was if he planned Family Guy to be as long as the The Simpsons). Seth said that he didn't want Family Guy to be that long, and that he wanted to end the show in a high note, before it becomes stale.
In the third Star Wars parody, the opening crawl starts out and then suddenly cuts in with something to the effect of "You know what? Screw this. We didn't even want to do a third one. FOX is making us because the first two did so well."
The 2011 revival, on the other hand, does not fit as both Judge and MTV wanted it.
Popeye the Sailor was originally a minor character in a comic book series called Thimble Theater. After Fleischer Studios lost control of the franchise it continued directly under Paramount's banner for several years, before moving to other companies up until the beginning of the 1980s when they finally allowed the nearretly 50 year old franchise to die... until a cyberpunk-set comic of Popeye, that crashed very fast due to being horrible under every possible light.
The Nostalgia Critic has become this. Doug Walker ended his long running web series in order to finally begin his next major project: Demo Reel. Hyped as his "dream project", Doug invested every dime he had into production only for it to fail in view counts. That Guy with the Glasses struggled with the loss of viewers who stopped visiting the website with Critic gone. Walker later recast the "Demo Reel" as a purgatory type state of being in the universe of the Nostalgia Critic, when the character was brought back.
Invoked by SF Debris during his review of the infamous Star Trek: Enterprise episode "A Night In Sickbay": "And yet it's still coming! It won't stop! How do you kill a Star Trek show that's already dead?!"