"You can try to write the 'last Batman story'. But the thing is, people have been writing Batman stories for longer than I've been alive. They will be writing Batman stories after I'm dead. Batman is actually more real than me."If a series becomes popular enough, not even an Author Existence Failure can stop it. If a series keeps going after its original creator has died, then it has Outlived Its Creator. Series that continue on after Author Existence Failure are the ultimate Franchise Zombies. A deceased creator cannot complain about any changes to the casting, style or creative direction of the series. A series which has outlived its creator can (and often is) put through retcons, Character Derailment, Executive Meddling, etc. Sometimes this is simply for financial reasons; other times, it's because the current series-runner is also Running the Asylum. It can even be accidental. When a series outlives its creator, the fans usually watch whoever's continuing it like vultures, waiting to swoop down and proclaim They Changed It, Now It Sucks! On the other hand, if the original creator had Protection from Editors and was driving the series into the floor, the Author Existence Failure may be good for the franchise: there's a chance for the series to be turned around.
open/close all folders
Public Domain examples
- The Oz books: the official series consists of 40 books, of which nearly two thirds were written by other authors (including Baum's grandson) after L. Frank Baum's death.
- Sherlock Holmes
- Peter Pan had sequels produced after JM Barrie's Author Existence Failure in 1937, at least one of which was actually commissioned by his own estate.
Specific still-under-copyright examples
Anime & Manga
- Animated adaptations/reboots of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and other works by Osamu Tezuka are still being produced, over 20 years after the man's death.
- Similarly, Cyborg 009 is one of many Shotaro Ishinomori series to be animated after his death.
- Sazae-san (anime only; the manga ended in 1973)
- Crayon Shin-chan: Creator Yoshito Usui died in a hiking accident in 2009. His assistants and editors who'd worked with him for years decided – with his widow's permission – to continue the manga under the title Crayon Shin-chan Memorial (ending the original run with the already-completed 50th volume). The anime continued as normal, under the original title.
- Many of the older Humongous Mecha shows, due to the popularity of the Super Robot Wars series. Getter Robo for example continues on after Ken Ishikawa's death.
- Noboru Yamaguchi, author of The Familiar of Zero, died of cancer in 2013, with 20th Light Novel volume of the series released 2 years prior but with some material to release the following volume ready. The series was nearing its climax and was a constant hit in sales; Noboru had rough notes and manuscripts of how the series would end. With this, the publisher, Media Factory, decided to pick someone capable of finishing writing the series in his place, 3 more books to end the series at the 23th volume was scheduled. In February 2016, the 21st volume finally reached the stores; the new author's name is being kept secret, and Yamaguchi is being credited as the sole writer as tribute.
- Most Golden Age superheroes: (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc). The creators are long gone, but the Shared Universe continues. In many of these cases, control of the series and franchises was wrested from the original creators long before their deaths, often because they didn't understand the value of their creations. For some prominent examples:
- Superman was co-created by Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and Joe Shuster (1914-1992). They contributed stories from 1938 to 1946, when they tried to claim legal rights over their character and failed. The series continued without them and their deaths back in the 1990s had no effect in the fate of the comicbook or the wider franchise.
- Sub-Mariner was created by Bill Everett (1917-1973), who contributed stories from 1939 to his death. Other writers and artists have continued writing Sub-Mariner stories ever since.
- Batman was co-created by Bob Kane (1915-1998) and Bill Finger (1914-1974). They contributed stories from 1939 to the 1950s (Finger) and 1960s (Kane). The series and wider franchise have continued without them, and their deaths had no real impact.
- Captain America was co-created by Jack Kirby (1917-1994) and Joe Simon (1913-2011). They contributed stories from 1941 to 1942. Kirby was in part responsible for reviving and updating the character in the 1960s. He also took over the series of the character from 1976 to 1977. But both co-creators had no further involvement with the further development of Captain America from the 1970s to their respective deaths. Their deaths had no effect on the popularity of the character.
- Aquaman was co-created by Mort Weisinger (1915-1978) and Paul Norris (1914-2007). Neither man continued working in the series for long after the 1941 debut. The character rose to fame under other writers and artists. Their deaths had no effect on the character.
- Green Arrow was co-created by Mort Weisinger (1915-1978) and George Papp (1916-1989). Neither man continued working in the series for long after the 1941 debut. The character rose to fame under other writers and artists. Their deaths had no effect on the character.
- Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston (1893-1947). He contributed stories from 1941 to 1947. The series continued without him and the character remains popular.
- Scrooge McDuck was created by Carl Barks (1901-2000). He got his own series in 1952, with Barks contributing stories to 1966. The titles has changed publishers several times but is still ongoing. Many other writers and artists have created Scrooge stories into the 21st century.
- Lucky Luke started in 1946 and is still ongoing. His most notable writer was René Goscinny (1926-1977) and his creator and main artist was Morris (1923-2001). Their deaths had notable effects in the direction of the series but not on its longevity.
- Dennis the Menace (UK) and Roger the Dodger in The Beano, and Desperate Dan in The Dandy, as their original artists David Law (1908-1971), Ken Reid (1919-1987) and Dudley Watkins (1907-1969) died decades ago. The respective series are still ongoing. Applies to other characters from those comics as well.
- Johan and Peewit and The Smurfs outlasted Peyo (1928-1992).
- Bob Montana (1920-1975), the original creator of Archie, has been dead for decades. Dan DeCarlo (1919-2001), the codifier of Archie's "house-style" as well as creator of Sabrina and Josie and the Pussycats, died shortly before the Josie film came out.
- Aspen MLT, a comic book company founded by Michael Turner, continues to put out comics, even though Turner himself died in 2008.
- MAD is still in print despite Bill Gaines passing away in 1992. (He's still credited as the "founder" among "The Usual Gang of Idiots". Also, Spy Versus Spy creator Antonio Prohías retired in 1987 and died in 1998, but his strip still appears in the magazine (after several rotating artists and writers, it was taken over by artist/writer Peter Kuper in 1997).
- A surprisingly large number of newspaper comics in North America have outlived their original creators. Indeed, it tends to be a bigger deal when popular strips avert this.
- Peanuts and Krazy Kat are among the few strips that ended with their creators.note Peanuts is an especially notable aversion of this trope; the very last ever Peanuts strip ran one day before the death of author Charles Schulz, who specifically forbade anyone to continue the strip after his death. The only things peanuts-related that are still being produced are adaptations in other mediums, like new television specials or the 2015 movie by Blue Sky. For a while Bill Melendez, the director of nearly every Peanuts special since A Charlie Brown Christmas, was still in charge of the Specials, but then he died too, which also failed to stop new Peanuts TV specials from being made.
- The Comic Strip Doctor despises this trend in newspaper comics. He believes that keeping boring comics around long after their creators have moved on and the premise has run its course is what makes it next to impossible for talented newcomers to get into the business.
- Blondie, which has been running daily since 1930; creator Chic Young died in 1973.
- Popeye is still running new strips even though E.C. Segar died in 1938.
- The two comic strips drawn by Jeff MacNelly, Shoe and Pluggers, are both examples of this. Jeff started the former in 1977, but handed Pluggers over to artist Gary Brookins only four years after starting it in 1993. When Jeff died in 2000, Brookins took over on Shoe, as well as many of the side jobs that Jeff had previously done (mainly political comic strips and the drawings in Dave Barry columns).
- B.C.: Johnny Hart's daughter and grandson continued the strip after he died. Like Dick Tracy, listed below, Hart's death is generally considered to have made the comic better, as over the previous decade he had used it (especially Sunday strips) as a platform for his fundamentalist Christianity.
- Hart's other strip, The Wizard of Id, continued after both Hart and co-creator Brant Parker died in 2007 under the control of Parker's son Jeff. Jeff himself handed the strip over to Mason Mastroianni, Hart's grandson, who also works on B.C.
- Similarly, after The Family Circus creator Bil Keane died in November 2011, his son Jeff (who started inking and coloring the strip in the 2000s) continued to work on it.
- The Born Loser also kept it in the family: Creator Art Sansom died in 1991, and his son Chip Sansom has been the artist since.
- Dennis the Menace (US) creator Hank Ketcham died in 2001, and his former assistants have carried on the strip ever since.
- Shortly before his death, Heathcliff creator George Gately handed it over to his nephew, Peter Gallagher.
- Little Orphan Annie was continued by various other hands after Harold Gray's death in 1968, most successfully by Leonard Starr, who wrote and drew the strip from 1979 to 2000. In the hands of Starr's successor, Jay Maeder, the strip's popularity faltered, and it was cancelled in 2010, over forty years after its creator's death.
- Dick Tracy was continued by other writers and artists after creator Chester Gould's death in 1977. This is generally considered one of those cases where the creator's death improved the series, as Gould had spent the previous 20 years trying gimmick after gimmick in an attempt to keep the strip popular... when he wasn't having his characters go on long rants against the Warren Court's expansions of rights for the accused.
- Alley Oop is on its third set of creators. V.T. Hamlin, who created the strip in 1932, retired in 1971, and his assistant Dave Graue took over. When Graue retired in 2001 (and died a few months later), his assistant Jack Bender took over.
- An interesting case with Big George by Virgil Partch. The comic ended in 1991, seven years after the creator's death. However, this example isn't because somebody else took over, it's because the creator really was seven years ahead with his strip!
- Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian is a prime example. Howard committed suicide at only thirty years old and left a number of stories unfinished, leading first to posthumous collaborations and then later to full-blown original short stories and novels by other authors and an ongoing line of comic books.
- V. C. Andrews' generational sagas about the Dollanganger and Casteel families were continued after her death by a ghostwriter, who then went on to write several more series along similar lines that were published under her name.
- The Wheel of Time series, with the added benefit of having been unfinished when the Author Existence Failure struck.
- Narnia - at least since the live-action movies raised its profile.
- The works of C. S. Lewis in general: there have been Lewis books printed after his death, and some people have wondered whether he actually wrote all of those.
- James Bond. Characters creator Ian Fleming died in 1964 while the third movie was in production. The 24th movie came out in 2015, not to mention subsequent books and video games (some with original plots).
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Adams had been working on the movie for a long time, however since a sixth book was published eight years after his death, it counts).
- The Tertiary, Quandary, and Quintessential Phases of the radio series (based on the later books) also came after his death (though Adams had planned for radio versions of them, even recording himself playing Agrajag). It remains to be seen if And Another Thing... will become the Hexual Phase...
- The Bourne Series has outlived Robert Ludlum.
- The Little House books. Laura Ingalls Wilder's will stipulated that her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, would hold the rights until her death; after which, the rights were supposed to go to a local library in Missouri. Lane's heirs managed to get the rights back, and HarperCollins has resurrected the franchise with sequels, spinoffs and prequels.
- Dune. Since Frank Herbert's death, Brian Herbert (Frank's son) and Kevin J. Anderson have written a number of prequels and sequels.
- Three novels were added to Isaac Asimov's Foundation series by other authors and with permission from the Good Doctor's estate after he passed on to the Great Typewriter in the Sky.
- The Boxcar Children series had only 19 books written by its original creator, Gertrude Chandler Warner. Then, over a decade after her death, Albert Whitman of Albert Whitman & Company resurrected the series, producing over 140 more books due to reinterest (including a kid-friendly cookbook). After Warner stopped writing them, continuity went right out the window and quality noticeably dropped.
- The Godfather books have outlived Mario Puzo.
- The St. Clare's series by Enid Blyton. The St. Clare's series consisted of six novels that spanned the six years set in the school. Three books covered the first year, one for the second, one for the fourth, and one for the fifth. In 2000, Pamela Cox wrote two more St Clare's books, one set in the third year and one in the sixth; at least one was just a pastiche of previous plots with wildly out-of-character moments and anachronistic phrases.
- Likewise, Pamela Cox wrote extra books for Blyton's Malory Towers series, even though the series was considered finished when Darrell Rivers, the main character, left the school in-story. The new books follow her younger sister, Felicity, and are again an Anachronism Stew, filled with modern phrases that would not have been used in The '50s when the story was written.
- Also with The Secret Seven: French writer Evelyne Lallemand wrote about a dozen further novels during the 70s and 80s, most of which were later translated into English and published with Enid Blyton's signature on the cover.
- While Blyton completed the Noddy books in 1963. Newer stories of Noddy started showing up in the 70s years after Blyton's death in 1968.
- Jody Lynn Nye is planning to continue Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures novels.
- Even after Rex Stout's death, and what seemed to be Stout's final story in the series, Nero Wolfe picked up another author, Robert Goldsborough, who called it quits after writing seven additional stories.
- Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series has seen one new novel written by a different author after Leiber's death, although the new book is set between two of the original ones.
- It's been almost forty years since J. R. R. Tolkien's death, and more of his works are still being sorted out and published, with profuse annotations, tweaks, and changes made by his son-cum-editor.
- Michael Kurland, a friend of Randall Garrett, wrote two novels about the Alternate History detective Lord Darcy and his sorcerous assistant after their creator's death.
- The Mr. Men books were written by Roger Hargreaves until his death in 1988. His son Adam took up writing them instead, but Roger's name continues to appear on all the covers, even the new ones.
- Both Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys have outlived their most important creators. Edward Stratemeyer (who created the concept), Mildred Wirt Benson (Nancy's most prominent ghostwriter), Leslie McFarlane (the Hardys' most prominent ghostwriter), and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams (the editor whose borderline Orwellian Retcons of the series kept them from fading away) have all passed away, but new books are still being written.
- The Railway Series by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry is still being continued even after his death in 1997, the torch having been passed to his son Christopher Awdry. The quality remains good, as Christopher (whom the stories were originally created for) has the same innate grasp of the series as his father and is dedicated to making sure it remains high-quality children's literature.
- Tom Clancy died in 2013, shortly before his last book came out. Other authors started publishing sequels to his final work less than a year after his death.
- The Amber Brown books were released from 1994-2004 by Paula Danziger. In 2012, the series was revived by Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy, whom Danziber described as her two best friends, with permission from the family. Reviewers generally agreed that the quality was so good that readers would not know the new books were not written by Danziger if they didn't know she was dead and if not for Coville and Levy's names on the covers.
- Since Steig Larsson passed away before the first book of The Millennium Trilogy was published, he was only able to write three books for his planned decalogy. But in 2015, the publisher decided to hire author David Lagercrantz to write more books in the series, which will be entirely his own invention without any inspiration from Larsson's plans.
- Years after Richard Scarry's death in 1994, the Busy Town series still gets published with new books every few years. Even getting a second animated series by Cookie Jar Entertainment in the late 2000's, but was very short lived unlike "The Busy World Of Richard Scarry" from the late 80's and early 90's.
- Robert B Parker had several series in circulation (including Spenser and Sunny Randall) when he died at his desk in 2012. Some of those series are being continued, with a set author for each one (which would at least help keep the tone consistent).
- Star Trek, whose creator Gene Roddenberry died partway through the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Two of Gene Roddenberry's show ideas, Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda, began after his death.
- Geoff Mcqueen, the creator of The Bill, died in 1995. The series ended in 2010.
- Kamen Rider: Shotaro Ishinomori's death is considered the starting point for the Heisei era, which began with Kamen Rider Kuuga (Ishinomori was working on it when he died).
- "Super Sentai" is another Ishinomori creation, though he stepped away from the franchise after the second series. Just like Kamen Rider it's still going to this day.
- The Ultra Series; Eiji Tsuburaya passed before Return of Ultraman was finished being written.
- The Muppets are still alive and kicking, even after Jim Henson and many of the other people involved with the Muppets have died. There have been several cases of The Character Died with Him that never lasted long, Scooter being a notable example.
- Doctor Who has outlived Sydney Newman (who came up with the initial idea), Verity Lambert (who was the original producer), David Whitaker (the original script editor), and Anthony Coburn (who wrote the first story).
- Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune have outlived their creator, Merv Griffin. The former has outlived its original host-announcer pairing of Art Fleming (d. 1995) and Don Pardo (d. 2014), and the latter has outlived two of its announcers: Jack Clark (d. 1988) and Charlie O'Donnell (d. 2010).
- Family Feud and The Price Is Right have outlived producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. The former outlived its first two hosts, Richard Dawson and Ray Combs, as well as Gene Wood, who announced both hosts' versions. The latter outlived its original creator, Bob Stewart, and its original host, Bill Cullen.
- Going back further in the game show field, The Joker's Wild outlived its creator and original host, Jack Barry, by two years. (Bill Cullen took over shortly before Jack's death.)
- Having outlived its original host, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve continues on with Ryan Seacrest and other co-hosts.
- Password Plus ended up outliving original host Allen Ludden by about a year. Password as a franchise would continue on with two more incarnations, Super Password and Million Dollar Password, over the course of the next two decades.
- Almost anything connected to an extremely popular musician who has suffered Author Existence Failure will fall under this, especially if cashgrabbing relatives or estates happen to be involved. Some of the more notorious examples would be Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, hide, Tupac Shakur, and Michael Jackson.
- Eddsworld's creator, Edd Gould, passed away on March 23rd, 2012 from leukemia. Episodes are still being made (at his request) - with Paul ter Voorde replacing his animation and Tim Hautekiet replacing his character's voice.
- Monty Oum passed away on February 1st, 2015 after a severe allergic reaction. RWBY continued without him, though its third volume was delayed a few months.
- Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and the rest of the Disney gang, to the point where U.S. Copyright laws must be rewritten every decade or so to prevent the original shorts from falling into the Public Domain.note
- Looney Tunes. All of the original creators have now died – the last major one, Chuck Jones, having passed away in 2002. The original shorts are rarely played on TV today, but they live on through DVD collections, new shorts, and direct-to-DVD movies.
- Hanna-Barbera characters have not only outlived the people who created them, but also the company which created them.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks, well outlived their original creator, Ross "David Seville" Bagdasarian Sr., who passed away in 1972.
And half-mentions for the following, which were created by more than one author and have outlived at least one:
Anime & Manga
- Doraemon was created by two cartoonists, Hiroshi Fujimoto and Moto Abiko, who worked together under the pen-name Fujiko Fujio. Fujimoto died in 1996 and while the manga ended with his death, the anime still airs to this day with more than 2,000 episodes made.
- The Pokémon anime has managed to outlive Takeshi Shudo, the head writer of the original series (Kanto, Orange Islands, and Johto); he left the series after Johto concluded in late 2002 and died in October 2010 while the anime was airing its fourth series. The creators of the original video game franchise the series was based on are all alive and well though.
- Astérix (Written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo, Uderzo taking over the writing as well after Goscinny's death)
- And by extension, anything by "Goscinny and X". Goscinny worked as a writer for many artists.
- While Uderzo is only retired, the fact that he approved a new duo to write a new Asterix book, Asterix and the Picts, will make sure the Gaul lives on even if the creator doesn't.
- Jack Kirby's dead, but the New Gods live on. Stan Lee's still alive and kicking (for now at least; as of this edit he's 91). Steve Ditko might die, but we'd probably never know till years later.
- Loudness (began 1982) has outlived original co-creator Munetaka Higuchi (died 2008) and 1992 bassist Taiji Sawada (died 2011)
- The Beach Boys (began 1961) has outlived founding members Dennis Wilson (died 1983) and Carl Wilson (died 1998)
- The Rolling Stones (began 1962) has outlived founding members Brian Jones (died 1969) and Ian Stewart (died 1985)
- Versailles outlived original bassist and co-creator Jasmine You for around two years after his death before going on hiatus—to reform as a new band consisting of every one of the surviving members except the vocalist.
- X Japan (began 1982, obtained these members 1987) has outlived lead guitarist hide (died 1998) and 1987-92 bassist Taiji Sawada (died 2011).
- Pink Floyd (began 1965) released one more album in 2014, The Endless River, after the death of founding members Richard Wright (died 2008) and Syd Barrett (died 2006, though he had left the band in 1968).
- The Doors released two more albums after lead singer Jim Morrison died in 1971, plus the reunion in the 2000s with Ian Astbury of The Cult replacing Morrison.
- A Chorus Line and 42nd Street competed as long-running Broadway musicals of the 1980s, and both productions continued running for years after the deaths of their respective director-choreographers, Michael Bennett and Gower Champion. Champion died before his show's opening performance; producer David Merrick famously announced his death at the Curtain Call, without informing the cast and crew beforehand.
- Metroid outlasted Gunpei Yokoi, the producer of the first three games. The director of the original Metroid, Yoshio Sakamoto, is still alive and has been involved in all of the recent games in some form or another.
- The Wolfenstein franchise has outlived Silas Warner, the creator of the original DOS game Castle Wolfenstein. Although he wasn't involved with further games, he endorsed the use of the name.
- The Tom Clancy's series of games, since 2013.
- Satoru Iwata helped create the Nintendo Switch, which was announced as codename NX in 2014. He passed away a year later before the Switch launched in 2017.
- Video-game website Giant Bomb and its flagship podcast, the Giant Bombcast, continue after the untimely 2013 passing of Ryan Davis, who was a co-founder and instrumental in establishing the tone and direction of the site.