Posthumous Collaboration

"...if [George R.R. Martin] dies early, Hollywood will pay somebody a lot of money to finish the books from his notes. Probably Brandon Sanderson or Kevin Anderson or someone whose name rhymes with either of them. If you’re a fantasy writer looking to make it in the big leagues finishing other peoples’ work, you could do worse than to change your name to 'Ganderson.'"

Author Existence Failure can be a sad thing. When a famous author dies and they leave only partly-completed works, never to be finished or seen by the general public. Or will they?

A Posthumous Collaboration is when an unfinished work is completed by someone else for the sake of the fans.

The new author may have been close to the original one, or even helped with the work while the original author was alive, or just working off some discovered notes on what the original author had planned, but what's important is that the work has to have already been started by the original author before their passing; it doesn't count if someone just creates a brand new work using the dead author's characters or universe.

See also Literary Mash-Ups.


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  • "Siege", a Batman arc in Legends of the Dark Knight, was written by James Robinson working from an outline by the late Archie Goodwin.

  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence was started by Stanley Kubrick and finished by Steven Spielberg.
    • This one is a bit special, as it was started by Kubrick, who then handed it to Spielberg, with plans to direct it. But once Spielberg did it, it was always he who was to direct it.
  • After the Rain was written by Akira Kurosawa, who was planning on directing it; after his death Koizumi Takashi took over.
  • A variation of this occurred with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Heath Ledger passed away during filming, so Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to play the same role and help finish the film.
  • The songs for The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and Kiss Me, Stupid were written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin after George's death.
  • The screenplay for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was started by Douglas Adams and finished by Karey Kirkpatrick. Adams actually originated a lot of the changes, including Humma Kavula and the POV gun.
  • The 2015 Lifetime TV movie (NOT a Lifetime Movie of the Week) Turkey Hollow was adapted from an unproduced Thanksgiving special that was devised by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl (who died in 1990 and 2005, respectively) in 1968. The script that Henson and Juhl produced was itself adapted into a graphic novel, under its original name The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, the previous year. The story's fascinating journey from script to screen can be found here.

  • Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman.
  • The Gathering Storm, Towers Of Midnight and A Memory Of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh
  • Fall of Kings by David Gemmell and Stella Gemmell
  • The Wanderer by Cherry Wilder and Katya Reimann
  • The Children of Húrin and The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien
  • Hooray For Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky
  • Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson, working from copious notes
  • Grumbles from the Grave by Robert and Virginia Heinlein
  • Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts by V. C. Andrews and Andrew Neiderman
  • Antagonist by Gordon R. Dickson and David W. Wixon
  • Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman by Walter M. Miller, Jr and Terry Bisson
  • Eternity; Home, Sweet Home 2010 A.D.; The Other Time; Trojan Orbit; Deathwish World: Mack Reynolds and Dean Ing
  • The Double Tower; Prince Alcouz and the Magician; The Scroll of Morloc; The Descent into the Abyss: Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith
  • Nekht Semerkeht by Robert E. Howard and Andrew J. Offutt
  • Psychoshop by Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny
  • Donnerjack and Lord Demon by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold
  • Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker
  • The Watsons by Jane Austen and Catherine Hubback, John Coates, Laura Wade, or Helen Baker; each one showed up with a different version.
  • Through the Ice by Robert Kornwise and Piers Anthony
    • In this case, the living author is actually the more famous one.
  • Whistle by James Jones and Willie Morris
  • The two concluding books of the Dune series, ''Hunters of Dune'' and ''Sandworms of Dune,'' supposedly based on Frank Herbert's notes, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
  • The prolific David Foster Wallace left a large cache of notes behind before he died and so others were able to step in and finish his long-awaited novel, The Pale King.
  • When young adult author John Bellairs died, he left behind two unfinished manuscripts and outlines for two other stories. The finished versions of those four books, completed by Brad Strickland, were so well-received that Strickland has since been commissioned to write several more books in the series.
  • E.B. White, up until his death, kept adding to and revising William Strunk's The Elements of Style, to the point where he was even credited as a co-author. Now since White's own death other editors have been doing the same, uncredited.
  • "The Shuttered Room" and certain other fragmentary stories were completed after H.P. Lovecraft's death by August Derleth.
  • The Family, a novel about Pope Alexander VI and his family, the Borgias, by Mario Puzo, was completed after his death by his girlfriend Carol Gini. Notably, the last chapter features a woman mourning the death of her lover though in the novel, her lover is also her brother.
  • Titus Awakes, the fourth of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, was incomplete at the author's death: only a single chapter had been completed and the rest was illegible due to Peake's advanced case of Parkinson's Disease. He did, however, leave behind a list of tropes he wanted to include in the next novel. His widow, Maeve Gilmore, completed the book, using the notes as a guide.
  • With the unfortunate death of Vince Flynn, the Mitch Rapp series is being taken over by Kyle Mills for at least three titles in the series, one complete and two in the works.
  • Archaia Entertainment examples
    • The graphic novel Tale Of Sand was based on an unpublished movie script by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, both of whom died long before the book came to fruition.
    • They also adapted Henson and Juhl's The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow into a graphic novel, which gave it enough attention to become an actual TV special, bringing it full circle.
    • The Storyteller was adapted to comic form via some scripts from the late Anthony Minghella that were never used in the actual show.
  • The Painted Queen by Barbara Mertz (AKA Elizabeth Peters) and Joan Hess.
  • Averted in the case of Terry Pratchett, who requested in his will that the hard drive containing his unfinished works be flattened by a steamroller so that nobody could do this. This was carried out by his long-time assistant in August 2017

  • Country singer Jim Reeves went through this twice after his death from a plane crash.
    • In the late 1970s, with Reeves' previously unreleased music still selling as well as it did prior to his death, RCA Records producer Bud Logan had the bright idea to remix three previously recorded-but-unreleased songs and old album cuts from Reeves' catalog - "Don't Let Me Cross Over," "Oh How I Miss You Tonight" and "Take Me In Your Arms and Hold Me" - and mix them with up-and-coming artist, singer-songwriter Deborah Allen. All three remixes were top 10 hits during 1979-1980.
    • In 1981, with interest in newly remixed tracks by Patsy Cline also high, another RCA employee came up with a double-posthumous collaboration involving Cline and Reeves, who never recorded together in their lifetimes (and ironically enough, both died in plane crashes). Both artists recorded their solo versions of "Have You Ever Been Lonely, Have You Ever Been Blue" and released them on various albums. Since both versions were the same key and tempo, it was the perfect song for RCA engineers to use to create the "duet." The original vocal tracks were lifted from the original stereo tapes and spliced together with a new musical backing recorded, resulting in top 5 country hit and even generating minor airplay on pop stations(!), which is undeniable proof that Dead Artists Are Better.
  • Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Süssmayr
  • Symphony no. 10 by Gustav Mahler and Deryck Cooke
  • Free as a Bird and Real Love by John Lennon and the rest of The Beatles. In this case, the songs were credited to the Beatles and not John Lennon, since the new recordings were created in conjunction with the Beatles' rarities collection Anthology. It still counts as this trope, though.
  • Brainwashed by George and Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne
  • The Doors' An American Prayer combines poetry Jim Morrison recorded prior to his death with music the rest of the band added several years later.
  • Made In Heaven by Queen was planned in advance by Freddie Mercury to be completed after his death, as he didn't think he had enough time left to create whole songs (and he was sadly correct). He just did his parts and let the rest of the band finish them after he died.
  • Slogans by Bob Marley and the Wailers with guitar solo by Eric Clapton. This song was just a solo home demo by Bob but was overdubbed to make it sound like he was playing it with a full band.
  • In Your Life and Take Me to Heaven Tonight by Melanie Thornton and the rest of La Bouche
  • Countless posthumous collaborations between Tupac Shakur and others, eg "Pac's Life" with Ashanti and T.I.
  • Country singer Keith Whitley's posthumous tribute album, in addition to the usual famous stars' covers of songs (including "When You Say Nothing at All" being Covered Up by Alison Krauss & Union Station) and never-released studio tracks, includes a duet with his widow Lorrie Morgan that fits this trope.
    • And taking it a step further, a DJ spliced the Alison Krauss version of "When You Say Nothing at All" with Keith Whitley's.
  • Adagio in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni and Remo Giazotto.
  • The Mermaid Avenue albums by Billy Bragg and Wilco, which set old unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics to new music.
    • Dropkick Murphys also set unpublished Guthrie lyrics to new music, first with "Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight", then with their Signature Song "Shippin' Off To Boston".
  • Although not nearly as many as Tupac yet, Ol' Dirty Bastard has also had a steady stream of posthumous guest appearances. And while it was released while he was still alive, the album The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones was made without his involvement while he was in jail: acapellas from unfinished songs (or sometimes even previously released songs) were set to new beats, with many guest appearances filling in the gaps.
  • After Johnny Mercer's death, lyrics of his were set to new music by Barry Manilow.
  • Nico by Shannon Hoon and the rest of Blind Melon. Though the album also included some outtakes that were in fact finished before Hoon's death, as well as a few of his solo demos that the band didn't add anything to at all.
  • Hank Williams, Jr. did this twice with his father Hank Williams Sr.
    • The first was his 1989 hit "There's a Tear in My Beer", which incorporated a vocal track recorded by his father. The elder Hank's recording was made in 1950 but never released until Hank Jr. got a hold of it. Its video digitally inserted Hank Jr. into a performance of Sr.'s.
    • The second time, he corralled his son Hank Williams III into doing an album called Three Hanks: Men with Broken Hearts, which combined previously recorded vocals by Hank Sr. and newly recorded vocals by Hank Jr. and Hank III. Hank III doesn't even acknowledge this album's existence, because perhaps he agreed with a reviewer who deemed it morbid and unnecessary.
  • In the same vein as the Hank Williams example above, "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett and "All The Way" by Frank Sinatra and Céline Dion.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd did this with "Travelin' Man". Ronnie Van Zant's vocals were lifted from a live recording of the song and mixed into a duet with his brother.
  • "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong and Kenny G.
  • Yo Yo Ma's venture into tango music includes a track on which he "collaborates" with deceased tango legend Astor Piazzolla using preexisting recordings.
  • Michael Jackson's segments from "We Are The World" were re-used on the 2010 remake for Haiti, given his then-recent death and his heavy involvement in the original. Janet Jackson even sang along with her late brother in the remake.
    • "Hold My Hand", featuring Akon, was Michael's last known song before his death.
    • Another such collaboration, "Love Never Felt So Good" featuring Justin Timberlake, was the lead single for the 2014 album Xscape, comprised of previously unreleased songs mixed with re-recorded instrumentation.note 
    • "Slave to the Rhythm", also from Xscape, also has an alternate mix featuring Justin Bieber, which was not fully sanctioned by Jackson's estate.
    • When Michael was alive, his 2001 recording Invincible featured posthumous vocals from other people: "Unbreakable" has a guest vocal from The Notorious B.I.G. (whose verse was taken from Shaquille O'Neal's "You Can't Stop The Reign"), and Rod Serling also made an appearance via audio from The Twilight Zone.
      • Ironically enough, Justin Timberlake's hit "Rock Your Body" was written (by Pharrell Williams) for Invincible over a decade before "Love Never Felt So Good".
  • Japanese R&B singer Music/Ken Hirai has a "duet" on his Cover Version album Ken's Bar with noted Japanese pop singer Kyu Sakamotonote , who died about 20 years before the album was recorded, covering Sakamoto's song "Miagete Goran Yoru no Hoshi wo".
  • In 1969, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash recorded a version of the former's "One Too Many Mornings", which was often bootlegged, but never really saw official release. The 2012 Bob Dylan tribute album Chimes Of Freedom, released almost nine years after Cash passed away, took this recording and added some additional vocals by The Avett Brothers. Kind of an odd example, as the song wasn't "unfinished" to begin with.
  • Six months after the death of rapper Lisa "Lefteye" Lopes, TLC's fourth album 3D was completed by the remaining two members with posthumous vocals by Lopes on four of the songs.
  • Anita Cochran did a very strange one in 2004 when she recorded "I Wanna Hear a Cheatin' Song". She wanted to include the voice of Conway Twitty, who died in 1993. Cochran and producer Jim Ed Norman achieved this feat by splicing his part together from various other recordings of his.
  • Rodney Crowell's 1992 hit "What Kind of Love" is the inverse of the Johnny Mercer/Barry Manilow example above. Crowell and Will Jennings wrote lyrics to a melody that Roy Orbison had composed shortly before his death.
  • The last album of Russian rock group Kino, one of the most influential in the 1980s, was finished after the death of their singer and songwriter Viktor Tsoi. He had recorded draft voice tracks before he was killed in a car crash. The album is officially named "Kino", but is best known as The Black Album.
  • "Who's Got The Action" by Dean Martin and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • In 2014, Barry Manilow released an entire album of these, entitled My Dream Duets. Its lead single is a version of "The Look Of Love" with Dusty Springfield, other artists featured include Whitney Houston, Sammy Davis Jr., John Denver and Louis Armstrong.
  • Queen and Michael Jackson had another odd example. Their team-up "There Must Be More to Life Than This" was originally recorded in 1983 as simply a Mercury/Jackson duet. The sessions fell apart and the song didn't see the light of day until the 2014 sort-of Greatest Hits Album Forever featured a remastered version. As with the Reeves/Cline version of "Have You Ever Been Lonely" mentioned earlier, "There Must Be More To Life" ended up as a double-posthumous collaboration.
  • An odd subversion is Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, an album that was recorded by Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) as a Solo Side Project but was unfinished when he suddenly died. As a result this 1968 recording was only made available to the public in 1971. And even then it's not really a collaboration. It was merely produced by him, but doesn't feature him on vocals or instruments at all - it's actually just an album by the Master Musicians of Jajouka, a Moroccan folk group, with Jones' name tacked onto it for sales purposes.
  • Eva Cassidy had one when her cover of "What a Wonderful World" was remixed to add the vocals of Katie Melua, resulting in one of the favorites to win the Christmas Number One for 2007 (it ultimately lost to another X Factor winner).
    • Michael Bolton also sang with pre-recorded vocals of Eva Cassidy for the song "Fields of Gold" on Gems: The Duets Collection.
  • Several years after Christmas Duets, Elvis Presley released a "new" album in 2015, entitled If I Can Dream, which features his vocals from live performances edited with a new orchestral backing track. One of the cuts, "Fever", features a duet vocal from Michael Bublé. Another, "It's Now or Never", features vocals from classical crossover trio Il Volo.
    • Another such album called The Wonder of You was released in 2016. It featured a posthumous "duet" with Helene Fischer called "Just Pretend".
  • Hellyeah, a supergroup including Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, added a pre-recorded guitar track from the late Dimebag Darrell to their version of Phil Collins' "I Don't Care Anymore". Dimebag's guitar part was sourced from an unfinished recording session of Damageplan, the group he and Vinnie had formed after the breakup of Pantera.
  • Sarah Brightman did a duet of "Hawaii '78" using the recorded voice of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. This was released as a bonus track on certain editions of her 2013 album Dreamchaser.

    Live-Action Television 
  • One Sesame Street segment is a remake of the song "I Don't Want to Live On the Moon" as a duet between Ernie (performed by Jim Henson) and Aaron Neville. The segment was recorded in 1993, three years after Henson passed away. The song used his original track and another puppeteer performed Ernie to Henson's vocals.
  • A rare example of a trope being prepared for well in advance occurs with Game of Thrones. In 2013, George R.R. Martin, author of the book series upon which it was based, indicated that he'd briefed the showrunners of the series regarding his planned ending of the novel cycle, in order to allow the producers to both plan ahead, and also continue the story should Martin be unable to complete the novels.

  • The Girl in Pink Tights, a musical that opened on Broadway in 1954, three years after the death of its composer, Sigmund Romberg, had this unusual credit: "Music developed and orchestrated by Don Walker." It has been speculated that Walker, a legendary Broadway orchestrator who occasionally dabbled in songwriting, may have composed some numbers by himself.
  • Sir Arthur Sullivan died before completing the score for The Emerald Isle. Some numbers were largely or fully written, others partially, some not at all. Edward German finished the work so skilfully that it's not obvious (definitely not grating on the ears) which songs were by which composer.
  • Euripides' last three plays—The Bacchae', Iphigenia in Aulis and (probably) Alcmaeon in Corinth''—were produced posthumously by his son (or possibly nephew) in Athens in 405 BC, and the prize was awarded posthumously to Euripides.
  • Charles Dickens died while writing a novel (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) which was turned into a musical called Drood. Unique in that the audience at each performance gets to vote for whom they think the murderer is, so each suspect has to be ready with his confession number that he may not get to sing. So, this was written by Charles Dickens and the audience.

    Web Animation 
  • Before Edd Gould (the creator of Eddsworld) passed away after a long battle with cancer, he made it clear he didn't want the series to die with him. So his friends and fellow cast members will continue the series with a new animator and a new voice for Edd's character.
  • Similarly, Season 3 of RWBY became this after showrunner Monty Oum died unexpectedly on Febuary 1, 2015. Oum had already finished a few scenes before his death, and was also very open about his plans for the series through season 7, so it is not likely to end anytime soon.

    Web Original 
  • Prior to his death, JewWario had been working on a miniseries based on his tokusatsu character, the FamiKamen Rider. After he died, MarzGurl and her husband Josh took it upon themselves to make sure Justin's character was remembered, eventually producing the full length Farewell Fami Kamen Rider.