As the number of films in a series grows, the probability that the latest entry will be terrible increases geometrically. Generally, the chance that the first sequel will be terrible is near to 50%. If it's Direct-to-Video, the chances that the third one is nothing but unmitigated crap is already close to 100%.
In other words, Sequels to movies, generally created on the impetus of box office revenuenote Roger Ebert, in his Bigger Little Movie Glossary, defines "sequel" as "a filmed deal", are rarely as good as the movie they're a sequel to. If there is a third installment, it will frequently mark a sharp downhill turn even when the second movie turned out all right. And even if there's a good trilogy, going beyond that has an even greater chance of crapitude.
Note, however, that this only applies to unplanned sequels. Numerous examples exist of planned sequels which have been extremely good. And good unplanned sequels do exist; but the vast majority of sequels are on a downhill slope.
Common symptoms of Sequelitis — the elements that contribute to the sequel not being as well-received as the original — can include, but are not limited to:
Making a sequel just because the original was successful and the executives want more money, regardless of the potential for a sequel that it has and regardless of the fans wanting a sequel or not.
The contrived revival or return of a beloved character who was killed off or kicked out in the first film.
The recasting of the returning characters with a cheap batch of B-list actors (and not just those formerly played by child actors who are now too old, or big name stars now busy elsewhere).
The mysterious unexplained departure of a main or major supporting character from the original movie, usually because the actor(s) didn't want to return and the filmmakers wouldn't or couldn't recast the role.
Likewise the casual (and sometimes callous) killing off of beloved characters.
The mysterious unexplained departure of a hero's love interest, usually because the producers thought the Shippers would lose interest in the hero if he or she was married. At most, there may be a throwaway line that tells us 'it didn't work out'. This doesn't stop the hero getting a new love interest.
The sequel revolving around the (often previously unmentioned) relative/friend of a beloved character whose actor can't or won't return, in hopes that a connection to the original character will help make the new character just as popular as the original. This can lead to In Name Only.
The sequel being Lighter and Softer than the original, to the point of being labelled a kid's movie and alienating most or all of the original's fanbase, or being Darker and Edgier just for the sake of it when it wasn't necessary and it doesn't make it any better, just not as good for kids.
Potential new audience members become victims of Continuity Lockout when knowledge of the first movie - or the source material - is required to understand what's going on.
Existing fans become irritated when elements they liked in the first movie are overused or used poorly. They typically say so, quickly and loudly. This can be caused by the filmmakers having a limited or poor understanding of what the general fanbase liked, leading to their catering to the Fan Dumb.
This is particularly the case when bringing back a character who unexpectedly won the audience over in the first movie, only to do nothing interesting with them - or worse, Flanderize them so much that they end up being a one-dimensional caricature of the charming and multi-faceted character the audience fell in love with in the first place.
The opposite can happen, where an intentionally wacky story based on Rule Of Cool and Rule of Funny tries to ground itself and be more realistic in the sequel, losing its original charm in the process. However, this seems to be a far less common occurrence than the reverse.
With adaptations or remakes, when all the source material was already covered up in the previous movie(s), keeping on making sequels but with original stories, especially when the author of the original source material doesn't come to help despite being available and bonus if the new stories aren't faithful to the originals, looking like bad fanfics.
The attempt to turn a standalone movie into a Two Part Trilogy, resulting in two bloated, incoherent sequels with too little plot stretched between them.
Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode ended up being penned by a different writer (the artist of the original series), but taking place in a universe explicitly the same as the original, something many anime explicitly avoid in order to start fresh. And that's the mildest of its many, many problems.
Battle Royale 2 suffered heavily from this. Even the most enthusiastic fans of the sequel will admit that it isn't anywhere near the caliber of the original (whether it be novel, manga or movie).
SHUFFLE! Memories. Though some fans say it's terrible, other fans say that the Fanservice-laden last episode was more than enough to make up for the terrible recap of SHUFFLE!.
If the subpar ratings in Japan and overall lack of accreditation beyond loads of magazine previews (keyword here) are anything to say, the Un-Cancelled fourth (Revolution) and fifth (Evolution-R) seasons of the Slayers anime are this. Most countries outside Japan (including the States) gave the seasons positive reviews, but 'most' of the viewers were older fans of the series, so that still doesn't help in the long run.
A bizarre inverse of this trope occurs with the Slayers Smash novels, which are a part of the book series that takes place before the main storyline. Whereas the main series ended in 2000, the prequel books came out two years after the first original novel came out and are still ongoing. Sales have been dropping, and many fans agree that the adventures of Lina and Naga are being unnecessarily dragged out. Unfortunately, the man who created the novels has no intention of continuing the main storyline.
In hindsight, this seemed more accredited to either season not following upon the novel storylines (not even reaching the point where Gourry finds the Blast Sword), and instead simply repeating the first series in reverse. Otherwise, Slayers fans had been demanding a follow up for quite some time, partly for the aforementioned and partly to alleviate the mediocrity that was Slayers Try.
Pocahontas 2: Journey to the New World brings the title character slightly closer to her historical, real-life counterpart (her romance with John Rolfe, visiting England), and also shows her making more mature decisions. However, the quality of the movie itself was met with more varied opinions.
Also, there has probably never been a more hated product by the Disney company - all because Pocahontas ended up with a different guy in the sequel, completely destroying the Pocahontas/John Smith romance. Never mind fidelity to real life, or that said John Smith romance probably never happened in reality...
The Emperor's New Groove managed to really break the mold in terms of Disney animated movies, but its sequel, Kronk's New Groove, was rather generic, playing out more like three episodes of a TV show strung together than an actual movie. Fittingly enough, there actually was later a TV series called The Emperor's New School, complete with a new voice actor for Kuzco and apparently having all of the soul of the first movie surgically removed and replaced with more slapstick.
The Atlantis: The Lost Empire sequel actually was three episodes from a planned TV series based on the movie that fell through.
According to The Nostalgia Chick, most of the direct-to-video sequels were made by the same division responsible for the TV series spin-offs, which is why so many of them feel like several TV episodes stitched together. One of the Aladdin sequels was essentially rescued from the planned finale of that TV series.
Downplayed by the two DTV sequels to Aladdin, The Return of Jafar and The King of Thieves. While clearly inferior to the original, they were nowhere near horrible. Ditto for The Lion King's sequels, for their decent plots (Simba's Pride) and their theatrical-worthy animation (1 1/2 / Hakuna Matata).
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time was considered one of the best direct-to-video sequels Disney had ever produced by several reviewers and several of those who weren't usually pleased by the sequels, even being stated to be "when the sequels started getting good." In fact, when Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time came to Blu-Ray together, the trailer featured so many highlights from A Twist in Time, that Dreams Come True (which lots of Disney fans hate anyway) only got four or five clips in. note One of those "clips" is actually audio from Dreams Come True played over animation from A Twist in Time.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is probably one of Disney's darker and more mature movies. Its sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2, was largely criticized for inferior animation, generic songs, and because of how out of character many of the characters were. It was largely created to give Quasimodo a girlfriend but viewers were not even happy with Madellaine, for various reasons.
One of the conditions Pixar put when they joined with Disney was that they wouldn't be required to make sequels. In fact, because one of the parts of the merger was putting Pixar's people in charge of Disney's animation studio, one of the first things they did was halted production of Disney's own Toy Story 3 and began working on the title in-house. Consequently, both the third movie and the entire Toy Story trilogy have been lauded as cinema classics. They did, however, make a sequel to Cars, widely considered one of their worst movies, resulting in what is widely considered their worst movie, Cars 2.
This was probably a case of even Pixar having to compromise artistic beliefs with economic realities - Cars merchandise is insanely popular - sales topped five billion dollars after the first movie - a sequel was inevitable at that point.
The Land Before Time was a great movie. However, although the quality of the series is up and down from movie to movie (rather than a permanent nosedive, as some may have been led to believe) and may range from good to mediocre to poor, most agree that none are a match for Bluth's original film. General consensus is that the series starts off decent with Great Valley Adventure being not bad but not great, gets a bit better with Time of Great Giving, nosedives with Journey Through the Mists gets slowly better through Mysterious Island, Secret of Saurus Rock and Stone of Cold Fire, vastly improves with Big Freeze, Journey to Big Water, and Great Longneck Migration, becomes even less serious with Invasion of the Tinysauruses, improves a bit with Great Day of the Fliers, and nosedives sharply in quality with the last sequel Wisdom of Friends. The fans seemed to give backlash to the very last sequels more so than even the earlier ones due to it getting Lighter and Softer each sequel. In the end, you know sequelitis has set in when they stop mentioning the number it is.
The first Shrek movie is a much beloved hit. The second movie grossed almost twice as highly. The third movie is... kindapolarizing. Consensus on the fourth is that it's... okay, and at the least is far better than the third. And word on the Puss in Boots prequel is that it's actually pretty good. note However it's worth noting that Puss In Boots has next to nothing to do with the rest of the Shrekverse and everything to do with capitalising on how sexy Antonio Banderas is, even as an animated cat.
Parodied In-Universe in Tropic Thunder. Tugg Speedman stars in the Scorcher series, which revolve around the Earth stopping to spin and becoming a giant fireball. The 6th one, Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown, changed the fate into a frozen wasteland because the previous films had exhausted the previously mentioned concept.
Scream 1996 is considered a great movie. Scream 2 is pretty awesome too. Then comes Scream 3, which gives plenty of reasons to be treated as The Scrappy by critics and fans. Scream 4 is, thankfully, pretty good again.
The Police Academy series. The first movie was a critical and commercial success, and jumpstarted the careers of several actors who would go on to bigger projects (Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Bobcat Goldthwait), but as the sequels progressed, the humor became increasingly lowbrow and cast members started leaving throughout the franchise. By the time the seventh and final film, Mission To Moscow, was released in 1994, only a handful of original characters remained, and it failed to surpass the $200,000 mark.
Most superhero film franchises follow the same formula: The first film introduces the characters and usually goes through the origin story. It meets with general approval. The second film, not being burdened by the need to rehash all that old stuff, is very good and is considered by many to be better than the original. The third film makes you wonder why they didn't stop at two. If a fourth film is even made, it makes the third film look like Citizen Kane. Then the series is dead for several years until another sequel is made with massive Retcon (sometimes to the point of Reboot).
Spider-Man follows this formula perfectly. The first one is considered very good, the second excellent, the third a massive Base Breaker. Then The Amazing Spider-Man reboots the franchise with an all-new cast and is met with mixed reception. Time will tell how further sequels fare.
Demonstrating that this trope can even apply to good sequels, the Batman threequel The Dark Knight Risestechnically suffers from Sequelitis despite being widely acclaimed. It received excellent reviews, like the first two movies, but otherwise it's either considered better or weaker than Batman Begins by some, and not as good as The Dark Knight by just about everyone. (not counting those downright disappointed)
Superman Returns arguably suffers from some Sequelitis, as one of the frequently-raised criticisms was that the producers didn't seem to be able to make up their minds as to whether they were actually making a continuation of the earlier film sequence, or whether they were making a completely fresh start.
X-Men had two beloved movies, followed by a Contested Sequel. Since continuing after The Last Stand would be hard, they decided to make prequels instead. First was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which also divided everyone; then came X-Men: First Class, but it completely averted sequelitis and is now considered the best in the series since X2: X-Men United (somehow fitting the "fifth is reboot" above); a sequel/stand-alone story to Wolverine, simply titled The Wolverine, is in the works, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will avert this trope.
Iron Man 2 is often considered good, but not as spectacular as its predecessor. Reasons for this consensus usually include feeling far too much like an advertisement for the upcoming Avengers movie than an Iron Man story capable of standing on its own, and loosely adapting Tony Stark's "Demon in a Bottle" arc and playing it for laughs.
Scary Movie expressed the tagline, No mercy. No shame. No sequel, but as we all well know, did have one anyway (with the tagline "We lied") It got closer back to its roots of satirizing horror movies in the third, but then stepped back again and had that Tom Cruise couch jump parody in the fourth. A fifth is on the way, but mostly everyone from the previous films is out of it.
The spinoffs of the franchise have been even worse, starting with Date Movie, billed as "from two of the six writers of Scary Movie", and somehow running on to three more (so far...)
Tremors: An interesting case. The first movie was a semi-Black Comedy with Kevin Bacon. Not having to pay Bacon's salary meant the second could afford lots more Stuff Blowing Up. The third is notable for reassembling the entire (surviving) supporting cast of the first, with no characters Put on a Bus.
The American Pie descended into this for a while. The American Pie Presents series were direct to DVD releases...with predictable results. The sole main cast member reprising a role from any of the first 3 movies is Eugene Levy, which is depressing in a "ordering fast food from your dad" kind of way.
Inverted with American Reunion, which brought back the principal cast and was a much better film than the DVD cash-ins that preceded.
The Crow was a powerful, emotionally-gripping comic book, that had an equally powerful film adaptation—with a kickass soundtrack, to boot. It had several sequels in both media, and none of them were anything close to the original, or even enjoyable. Thus, The Crow uniquely has severe Sequelitis in two media.
The second movie, The Crow City Of Angels, in particular, suffered - tortuously - from the writers attempting to take the "framework" of the original story and try to swap out the plot details, replacing the original compelling story with a particularly unsubtle morass of "IKEA Pathos." That, and apparently no one on the film team even noticed the visual aesthetic of the original, since not even the barest effort was made to retain it. Add to this wooden acting, a notable dearth of memorable lines or dialogue, an obvious, over-the-top ass-pull ending, the utter absence of verisimilitude between the visual (and linguistic) environment depicted in the film and the real-life Los Angeles it was allegedly based on, and a particularly blatant bridge drop at the end, and you have a shameful attempt at remaking - even cloning - The Crow, with essentially none of the things that made the original great. You might say the series Came Back Wrong.
With a title like The Neverending Story, one would expect the movie to have at least a few sequels or follow-ups. The first movie is a very nice fantasy film; the second movie is not as good as the first one (with a dramatic drop in production values), but still watchable, at least compared to the third movie, which had to invent a plot out of whole cloth and ended up with a lot of cringe-worthy sitcom-style humor.
The first Weekend At Bernie's is a amusing little comedy, with Terry Kiser stealing the show as the titular dead guy. Then they went and made a sequel. The female character one of the heroes spent the entire first movie obsessing over/wooing vanishes without even the most cursory attempt at Handwaving, and it was all downhill from there.
Fans regard TLW as a worthy sequel to JP though with JP 3 usually regarded as the abomination.
Airplane II The Sequel, which wasn't produced by James Abrahams and the Zucker brothers who did the brilliant Airplane!!. Most of its jokes and plot were re-hashed from the original movie, Leslie Nielsen didn't return, and it did so badly at the box office that the planned second sequel was canceled. The best parts were the courtroom scene and the self-parodying performance by William Shatner.
The Matrix was generally well-received and a major game-changer for action movies. The second and third movies are usually seen as overly long and pretentious, while the prequel The Animatrix ranges from decent to bad.
The Animatrix has range because it's an anthology of nine short films based on The Matrix, with the CGI The Second Renaissance considered the best (reason to purchase the rest). The other eight, again, vary.
Movies based on video games aren't exempt from this rule, either, even though very few of them get sequels in the first place (and usually deservedly so). Just ask anyone who paid to watch Mortal Kombat: Annihilation or Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life.
Ghostbusters II fell victim to this, as the plot reads like a Mad Lib rewrite of the first movie: An ancient (god/warlock) is resurrected in modern New York, possesses Dana Barret's nebbish (neighbor/boss), and needs (her/her baby) as part of its plot to destroy New York. She gradually falls for Peter's quirky charm, while the rest of the Ghostbusters try to convince the skeptical mayor and a sleazy (EPA agent/mayoral aide) that the world's in danger, until the big finale has the heroes facing off with the (god/warlock) in a gothic (skyscraper/library) now overrun by evil, while a giant walking mascot (terrorizes/saves) the city by stepping on things. It's all made even more implausible given how easily all the world-changing events of the first movie seem to have been swept under the rug, and the end result was so lackluster, both critically and financially, that the director and other three stars were completely turned off from Dan Aykroyd's plans for a third movie.
Atari released a Ghostbusters video game that reunited the cast and acts as the third story. So far it's been well received. It expands on things from the first movie, provides closure on the Librarian ghost and explains where the mood slime from GB2 came from. The experience was so good that an actual Ghostbusters 3 is in the works.
The Rocky series had one of the longest cases of Sequelitis ever. The series started out gritty and realistic, but gradually became more over-the-top to the point where the first movie won an Oscar for best picture and the fifth, after a drawn-out decline, is generally regarded as terrible. After a 16-year Sequel Gap, a sixth entry was made, and successfully took the series back to its roots, as well as providing closure to Rocky's career.
The Austin Powers series, once it became insanely popular (i.e. by the first sequel), started becoming a caricature of the first movie, with its Vulgar Humor and especially their tendency to take gags that were most memorable from the previous movie and exaggerating them in the next. The first was intended to be an Affectionate Parody of the movies Mike Myers used to watch with his father. After the first became a cultural phenomenon on home video, more writers were brought in to create something Denser and Wackier. By the time the third movie came around, the series was repeatedly breaking the Fourth Wall and just generally making a mockery of itself. Still, some fans regret that the token Character Development Austin went through in the first movie had to be systematically scrapped for the sequels to work.
Lampshaded twice in Die Hard 2: Die Harder: "Another basement, another elevator—how can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"
By this point, the Die Hard franchise has succumbed anyway. Each film is slightly less believable than the one which preceded it. This has resulted in John McClane being Made of Iron by Die Hard 4, and nobody ever bleeding, despite the original's highly praised realism. (though the decision to lower to PG-13 is to blame for the Bloodless Carnage) The plot is as convoluted as in the campier Bond films, as well as the marriage he was trying to save in the first film getting only a cursory mention (as being long over).
Friday was a great comedy with good performances from Ice Cube as Craig and Chris Tucker as Smokey, the latter of whom is widely thought to be the funniest part of the film. A sequel, Next Friday, was released in 2000 and is generally considered inferior - mainly due to the lack of Smokey (Tucker had chosen to do Rush Hour instead and had become a born-again Christian after making Money Talks), who was replaced by Mike Epps as Day-Day - but the movie still has its defenders. 2002's Friday After Next, however, has been almost universally panned.
Jim Carrey so thoroughly detested working on When Nature Calls that he declared that he would never do a sequel ever again. (As for Batman Forever, that predated the Ace Ventura sequel and didn't follow on from one of his films.)
Both averted and straight in The Karate Kid. The Karate Kid Part II was different enough from the first movie to avoid falling into this trope, but The Karate Kid Part III fell here hard. And don't get us started on The Next Karate Kid.
Which also now has a remake, with everything changed so much that the only remaining pieces from the original are: 1) the basic plot layout, and 2) the name. The name that is no longer valid, as being set in China, there is little karate (being a predominately Japanese practice); it's now kungfu, taught by Jackie Chan, but still called The Karate Kid.
The Scanners franchise. The original film was a landmark in sci-fi horror, and had David Cronenberg and Michael Ironside doing some of their best work...but then came a pair of Direct-to-Video sequels that stopped going for shock value and settled on B-movie cheese focusing on various scanners' unsuccessful attempts to start a revolution, backed by shoddy effects and weak performances by the main cast. This later produced a spinoff series, Scanner Cop, which also went DTV and just had more of the same.
Just ask Highlander fans about the sequels, and you'll be told, "There should have been only one!"
The Pink Panther movies escalated the slapstick comedy, wacky disguises, and whatnot quite a bit in the 1970s entries, even bringing in science fiction elements in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. There were also new female leads in each entry, whether they became Inspector Clouseau's love interest or not. The series also hit Franchise Zombie status with Revenge of..., which United Artists commissioned for summer 1978. Still, they were all hits — the franchise jumped the rails in The Eighties when director-writer-producer Blake Edwards attempted to continue the series in spite of the death of Peter Sellers, who played Clouseau. It turned out that without Sellers, people weren't interested in more of the same hijinks.
Robocop (and its sequel, Robocop 2) were violent, edgy and full of satire on mid-80's corporate culture. While the second film was derided for focusing too much on shock value and having less of the satirical humor, the franchise was still doing pretty well for itself (an animated series was created during this time, and the films performed very well at the box office). Unfortunately, studio executives (likely smelling several marketing opportunities) toned down the violence in the third film, Robocop 3, to appeal to younger viewers. While there were some elements that remained from the previous films (Basil Poledouris' score, a return to the silver armor from the first film, most of the surviving cast members returning and some of the satire), the end result was too juvenile for most audiences, and the film bombed both financially and critically. Although there were attempts to resurrect the franchise over the years (a mid-90's Canadian-made TV series bombed after one season, a late-90's cartoon was...critically panned and a miniseries (also filmed in Canada) was made-for-TV), it never really flew with audiences.
As of 2013, another reboot attempt is coming down the pipe. Time will tell..
A somewhat interesting case, actually. The two movies were made over ten years apart, with completely different studios, directors, and actors. The themes and tones of the movies were vastly different, and no references were made to characters or plots from the first film, but it was explicitly set afterwards. Both movies being relatively self-contained, Qot D was less of a sequel and more like the closest thing to a Continuity Reboot without actually doing so.
Incidentally, Grease 2 unwittingly stopped the franchise from experiencing what would likely be more sequelitis. There were plans for two more movies and a TV series, but they were scrapped after Grease 2 flopped.
Saw fans debate whether the series has suffered from Sequelitis, and if so, at what point. This argument is closely tied to the one over Jigsaw's successors.
Some fans believe that the series should've stopped at the third movie, which acted as a solid conclusion to what had been until then a trilogy. Others feel that the fourth movie was still good, but that the fifth was the series' jump-the-shark moment. Oddly enough, even they usually agree that the sixth film was a surprising improvement over the fifth. Opinion on the seventh (and final) film is too wildly varied to pin down any fan consensus. A few believe that there shouldn't have been any sequels, or that only the second film counts as a proper continuation.
Honestly, the series was supposed to stop at the third film, but when Lionsgate saw how much money it was bringing in, they demanded that the script to Saw 3 be changed to allow more movies to be made. The suckiness of Saws 4 and 5 and sequelitis in general are the fault of Executive Meddling.
The Ju On/The Grudge film series, which began life as a Takashi Shimizu's V-Cinema TV special but is now up to a second special (which recycled most of the first,) two theatrical Japanese films, two Japanese shorts, an American remake, and two American sequels. Special honors to the first American film because it reenacted, almost scene-for-scene in some cases, the exact same plot as the first Japanese theatrical movie, though somehow keeps the main star/character (Sarah Michelle Geller) alive through the end.
Similarly, the The Ring franchise has suffered from this. While each of the three "original" films has been well-received (Japanese, American, and Korean, respectively,) their sequels have met with various degrees of scorn and failure to the point that the very first sequel, a film adaptation of the novel's follow-up Spiral, is so bad it's considered Canon Discontinuity by the Japanese producers, who went on to make The Ring 2 instead.
The original Species was a decent (if not spectacular) sci-fi horror film that had Natasha Henstridge running around (mostly naked, to boot) while a team of scientists tried to stop her. A sequel was inexplicably made five years later that combined a nonsensical plot (the scientists clone the original alien, then act shocked when she escapes to mate with another member of her species), cheesy effects and a cast that appeared to be going through the motions, and the following TV movie, Species III, was made by filmmakers who thought the entire franchise was composed of gratuitous violence and sex. The fourth film, Species The Awakening, seems to be an odd inversion, however - most viewers seem to regard it as a decent B-movie.
Be Cool. The sequel to Get Shorty was loosely based on the novel that was the sequel to the novel Get Shorty, but was so crammed full of actor allusions, cameos and industry in-jokes (for both film and music) that it had none of the spark of the first movie.
The sequel to Miss Congeniality arguably suffers from sequelitis, as many a fan (girl) was probably very disappointed that the second film did not see the return of Benjamin Bratt as Eric Matthews.
Averted in the Mad Max series. Mad Max was a very well-received, if slightly Aussie-indie revenge tale. The first sequel, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior not only defined the post-apocalyptic genre but is universally hailed as one of the best movies from the 80s. It's even one of just a handful of movies that, as of this writing, holds a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The second sequel, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was nowhere near as good (and had Tina Turner's infamous hair), but still a solid movie. A third (and fourth!) sequel, Mad Max Fury Road and Furasia have been greenlit after years of Development Hell, with Tom Hardy playing the lead character.
Carrie is considered one of the landmark horror films of The Seventies, and its success helped to establish Stephen King, the writer of the book it was based on, as one of the biggest names in horror literature. Twenty-three years later comes The Rage: Carrie 2, a film that, while most definitely enjoyable in a certain way, fails to hold a candle to the original, and was a box office disappointment. Part of this may stem from the fact that The Rage was originally written as a separate film called The Curse, and was turned into a Carrie sequel presumably after somebody saw the obvious similarities between the two films.
Both the original King Kong and the 1976 remake were followed by forgettable sequels (The Son of Kong and King Kong Lives, respectively).
The original Children of the Corn film has suffered from a attack of Sequelitis, spawning 6 sequels - The Final Sacrifice, Urban Harvest, The Gathering, Fields of Terror, 666: Isaac's Return and Revelation. Oh, cliched titles, how we love you so.
Both The Amityville Horror and The Howling, which also started out as literary works, also had an unusually high number of sequels, most of them direct-to-video. With Amityville, it also extended to the book series, which eventually became pure fiction, and got progressively weirder and surreal.
The first Lethal Weapon is generally considered the best, despite making far less at the box office than its sequels. Lethal Weapon 2 lacked some of the tension, but traded it in for a lot of gags making it funnier. The third one seemed to get a little more tired and the fourth one gives us fake-looking sharks, anvilicious (and hypocritical) political sentiments and a sympathy-pouch-wearing Rene Russo who's supposed to be 9-months pregnant yet able to fight martial-arts trained mooks.
Oh, God! is generally remembered as a quirky little Carl Reiner comedy, while the next two movies are ignored almost to the point of being Fanon Discontinuity. The changes in creators definitely didn't help.
Caddyshack II. Chevy Chase was the only star returning for the sequel, which lost all of what made the first movie funny.
The first Speed movie was a huge commercial and critical success. The sequel was almost universally panned while barely avoided being a box-office flop.
Shortly after Diane Thomas agreed to write a sequel to her first screenplay Romancing The Stone, she was killed in a car crash. The studio went ahead with the sequel and created The Jewel Of The Nile, a film so bad that one college screenwriting professor made an exam out of pointing out all the flaws in it.
First played straight, then turned on its head, by the Transformers movies. Critical consensus has the 1st being nothing special and the 2nd downright bad, while the 3rdhas noreal consensus. The 1st movie was an okay sci-fi action-thriller that gave a semi-realistic tone to the franchise. The 2nd movie lost that touch and became an over the top action movie with tons of unneeded adult humor (Such as the pot smoking mom, the racist robots and mechanical testicles) and a generic plot. Finally the 3rd movie tried to please everyone and lowered the screen time for the robots (even though they are the title characters), made the first half almost a sort of parody (which led to the return of Sam's parents who by now are nothing more than The Artifact) and the second half a sci-fi war movie that dropped bridges on many characters.
Both the Dirty Harry series and the Death Wish series suffer heavily from this, getting sillier and sillier with each installment.
It helps that the 1st was so campy and fargone from what D&D was (or was expected to be be) that the few fans left felt it had nowhere left to go but up.
The original Men In Black was well received by both critics and audiences, but the sequel (while still being a hit at the box office) was generally considered to be a dud. After a decade in Development Hell, Men In Black 3 was released, and managed to not only be another big hit at the box office, but got very good reviews from the critics as well.
Raging Bull was one of the greatest movies ever made, and considered the best sports movie of all time. No De Niro, no Scorsese, what could possibly be the purpose of Raging Bull II?
The original Planet of the Apes had four sequels - most entering Franchise Zombie; Charlton Heston even asked the second to end with Earth being destroyedso it would be the last, but didn't work - with varying levels of quality, mostly due to lowering budgets, culminating in the terrible Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Thankfully it only continued afterwards in TV series and reimaginings.
The third movie, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, considered the best of the sequels, was the only one deliberately written open-ended with a sequel in mind. The fourth movie, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, would have been the last (APJ was already considering a TV series), but profits were good enough to justify a fifth movie.
Air Bud - oh, god, Air Bud. From a touching story about a dog escaping an abusive owner, helping a young boy find his place, and leading a small-town sports team to victory, to a wacky comedy about talking puppies. (For the record, in the first movie, the dog could not talk.)
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).
The Trial of Billy Jack: The first two movies in the series, The Born Losers and Billy Jack are both awesome. Trial of Billy Jack, on the other hand, is up there with Highlander II The Quickening and Batman & Robin as one of the worst sequels ever made.
The 2009 comedy The Hangover, quickly became regarded as a well-done, raunchy comedy, making $467 million of a $35 million budget. A sequel was made only two years later. Unfortunately, it played out as a carbon copy of the first film, only far more dark and raunchy without any of the surprise. While it managed to make even more money than the first, many people didn't like it for the above reasons. A third film came out another two years later, doing worse critically than even the second, despite trying not to rehash the same concept.
Most sequels to works in the public domain are awful, or at least so inferior to the originals that fans will invariably be disappointed. One reason for this is that only the very best books survive the test of time: perhaps a sequel to Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South would be comparable to the original, but any sequel to Pride and Prejudice would pale in comparison. Another is that anyone, no matter how dreadful a writer they may be, can publish a sequel to a public domain work. That's not possible for a work under copyright, where the copyright holder can prevent the publication of any unauthorized sequel.
Susan Kay's Phantom is generally considered to be pretty good by the phandom, and is even accepted as (admittedly dubious) canon by some. The sequel to the Phantom of the Opera musical may not be so lucky (see Theater below).
Even Kay suffers from her share of criticism. While it's generally agreed that the first two-thirds of her book (actually a prologue to the original story describing Erik's backstory) are well done, a lot of fans strongly dislike the way she portrays the Erik/Christine relationship and its aftermath in the final third.
Not always, as Stephen Baxter's The Time Ships, a sequel to The Time Machine is considered quite good.
Largely because it averts the 'anyone can do it' part; Baxter is a fairly major SF writer, and was authorised by the Wells estate.
River God, by Wilbur Smith, was quite interesting and different to mainstream fiction. The sequel Warlock went from the engaging and amusing first-person narrative style to third-person, which allowed for us to see scenes from several characters' perspectives, but mostly allowed for gratuitous shoehorning- in of sex scenes to pad out the already inflated-but-largely-empty plot. The most recent installment, The Quest, has almost completely dispensed with any ties to the Ancient Egypt pantheon, instead substituting some vaguely New-Agey mumbo-jumbo universally-recognised quasi-religious belief system.
James P. Hogan's Giants series. It's not as if the sequels are bad - it's just that they tend to detract from the previous books. The first book, Inherit the Stars is the story of a bunch of scientists trying to wrap their brains around a massive enigma. The second one, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede brings in aliens, but is fairly similar. The third one, Giants' Star alters the style by bringing in conflict.
The third also adds the idea that the reason people are evil is because evil time-travellers have made them that way. The fourth expands this to the evil time-travellers were actually taken over by aliens who lived inside a computer.
And the books retconthings established in the previous ones to an annoying degree.
The sequel novels to The Bourne Series, which contain, in the first addition, Dropped A Bridge On two of the most important characters in the first twenty pages, a character who is canonically supposed to be dead suffering from Parental Abandonment, Comic Book Time, and much, much, much, much Canon Defilement. The second addition is no less egregious, including Dropping A Bridge On Marie In Between Books, having Bourne abandon all common sense, ridiculously atrocious pseudoscience, almost downright offensive portrayals of Washington, DC, and Bourne suddenly becoming an expert on everything, including knowing every language from Arabic to an obscure Ethiopian dialect, when in canon he's just supposed to be a professor of Oriental Studies. Seriously. Also, he carries around a Playstation 3 for no other reason than it looks cool.
The Bourne Deception is plain humiliation. Bourne visits a Balinese shaman, sleeps with a woman who was formerly his friend's girlfriend, and mentions virtually nothing about his children. In The Bourne Ultimatum he is 50, and that is when Soviet Union still existed; the book mentions the timeline had passed 2005 since Indonesian Bali Bombing. The new author transforms this tortured amnesiac soul into ageless James Bond-wannabe.
Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series started as a quite cool detective series, but degraded from book five onward.
55 years after publication of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett, an "authorized" sequel appeared. Critics were not impressed.
Another sequel, Rhett Butler's People also appeared. The critics panned that one too.
Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series started putting more and more focus on magical history, Objectivist philosophy and the main character's role as a leader after the second book. The common opinion on this site is that it Jumped the Shark, with each book getting worse and worse. Goodkind gave the last three books a rather good attempt to emulate the first two's plot and style, at least.
The Rocheworld series by Robert Forward likewise has a great first book, a moderately good second, and utter crap dragging along behind.
The Ringworld series by Larry Niven has succumbed to this as Niven has caught Retcon Fever and begun tearing down the conventions of his own universe.
Ringworld's Children retcons ... practically everything established about the Known Space universe. (OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but still.)
Most(?) people have the latter half of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series falling into this trope. It became especially evident when he had elements of DT leak into his non-DT novels (especially Hearts in Atlantis and Insomnia). Even if you do like the later installments for their writing or whatever, it definitely shows by the end that King didn't actually know where he was going with the story to begin with and had to just come up with something without the benefit of having planned in advance.
Andrzej Sapkowski named it as one of major SF&F plagues in his No Gold in the Grey Mountains article... and didn't forgot to add a Hypocrisy Nod.
I myself, while considering myself an attentive inspector of the news of fantastics, sometimes don't buy the freshly released sixth book of a saga because my attention somehow failed to register previous five. But much, much more frequently I decline to buy tome one if its cover grins with a warning: 'First Book Of the Magic Shit Cycle'.
Orson Scott Card with his Ender and Shadow saga (the first of each series being parallel, and the rest a split following different characters). While the sequel to Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, is widely considered to be just as good if not even better than the first, the final two in that saga are overly pretentious and bloated philosophical works that could have easily been cut into one shorter volume. They also leave on a horrible cliffhanger that rivals that of Chapterhouse: Dune which Card has had 13 years to end, but instead written a midquel between the first and second books as well as a short story collection. The Shadow series fairs even worse, with the first book being equal to or better than the parallel Ender's Game but taking a steep decline starting with the second. While not as bloated in narrative as the Ender saga's latter books, the Shadow series instead destroys most of the mystery behind Peter's unification of earth by making him into nothing but an annoying schoolchild, and doing absolutely nothing. A 4th sequel is planned, thus putting the series at 11 books.
The irony of it all? Some copies of Speaker for the Dead are prefaced with an introduction that talks about how reluctant the author was to revisit Ender just for a second book.
Gregory Benford once wrote a sequel to Arthur C. Clarke's amazing Against the Fall of Night, called Beyond the Fall of Night. It's awful, primarily because Againstsets up a massive battle between good and evil with a disembodied intelligence called Vanamonde battling the evil Mad Mind. Benford completely ignores that and makes Beyond be about a very strange track of evolution and Vanamonde barely appears right at the end, and is almost completely superfluous, having the Mad Mind being defeated by a specific branch of humanity. Against the Fall of Night is loved by science fiction fans, but Beyond the Fall of Night tends to be hated.
The Doctor WhoPast Doctor Adventures novel The Quantum Archangel. A sequel to "The Time Monster", which the author claimed was intentionally "the ultimate in fanwank", it's basically "The Time Monster" ONLY BIGGER! So the TOMTIT machine that affects space-time is replaced by a more advanced version called the TITAN Array that affects Calabi-Yau space (the "extra" dimensions in superstring theory). TOMTIT was secretly created by the Master to trap a Chronovore; TITAN is comandeered by the Master to wipe the Chronovores out and give himself their powers. The Third Doctor disrupts TOMTIT with an arangement of forks and winebottles; the Sixth Doctor builds a much bigger version to disrupt TITAN. The Third Doctor and the Delgado Master go on a jaunt to Ancient Atlantis; the Sixth Doctor and the Ainley Master visit a forgotten planet from the beginning of the universe. Stuart Hyde gets temporarily youthed instead of aged, the Doctor attempts to Time Ram the Master's TARDIS, and Kronos again Deus Ex Machinas everything at the end. Even the throwaway gag that "E = MC cubed" in the Vortex gets reused and amped up; in Calabi-Yau Space, apparently, E = MC to the fourth power. It's so blatant about it that some feel it goes beyond conventional sequelitis and becomes good, or at least successfully does what it wants to do.
Robert E. Howard's most famous creation Conan The Cimmerian suffers horribly from this. Not only are there endless continuations, prequels and other adventurers of vastly varying quality by many different authors but the original stories were rewritten in places to make them sync up with the sequels. However even the original stories occasionally suffer from sequelitis. Because of the characters popularity Howard knew he could sell any Conan story to Weird Tales and wrote some very cliched tales (such as The Devil in Iron) which were effectively knock-offs of his own earlier efforts when he needed quick cash.
A subversion comes with J. R. R. Tolkien's abandoned sequel to the Lord of the Rings. Called The New Shadow he got as far as coming up with some characters and setting it in the fourth age of Middle-earth where a dark cult rose up in the lands of Gondor. However he abandoned it after only a few pages as he felt it would not be as epic or up to the standards of his other work, then suffered Author Existence Failure. Meaning it's highly unlikely this will be finished, however there is a fan made mod known as Fourth Age Total War which makes this concept and expands on it.
Warrior Cats. The 1st arc of novels is treasured by fans. The second arc is usually seen as good, but not as good as the original. The third arc...is very polarizing. Since the series is so financially successful, and has a vast and dedicated fanbase, the books just keep on coming. Most complaints about the later series cite the reused plot devices, the ridiculous amount of mostly flat and undeveloped supporting characters, and the smaller focus on nature and survival in favor of more anthropomorphized themes like love and family issues. It's often compared to a soap opera. And this doesn't even touch on the vast amount of mangas, field guides and other companion books, which generally entertain diehard fans but hold little literary merit. It's hard to say when the franchise will actually end, because the fans are always eager for new books and the authors, who keep in touch with their fanbase regularly via author chat, don't want to disappoint them.
Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series has this. The first book was stunning and awesome, and the second and third that followed were, while having their problems, quite good. Unfortunately, she kept writing, and things went to hell in a handbasket. She contradicted established canon from one book to the next, couldn't keep names, ages, and places straight, and the plots devolved into pathetic monstrosities.
Even more than the film examples, Star Trek suffered this in its series. The Original Series was considered an uneven novelty, a series that was either teeth grating crap, or the very pinnacle of science-fiction, depending on the given episode. The Next Generation has been formally recognized as being among the top 100 shows ever made and a crowning achievement of television. Paramount came down with Sequelitis, commissioning three follow-up series (one of them was a prequelitis). The critical reception deteriorated with each successive series, along with the ratings (though a few preferred Deep Space Nine in later years). The last one only made it to four seasons, the fourth season was only made so that the series could be syndicated, and not end up a total failure.
Dead Ringers had a sketch in which different versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger came back from the future to warn him not to sign up for any more lousy Terminator sequels, eventually reaching Terminator 23 before Sarah Connor shot the present Arnie to save the future. To her dismay, another Arnie came back and revealed she is now his co-star in Kindergarten Cop 14!Nnnnnoooooooo!
No genre features more numbered albums than hip-hop. It usually works like this:
1. Rapper releases album that's deemed a classic or has massive success.
2. Rapper's followup albums don't perform as well.
3. Rapper returns to "the series" to get "the magic" (and brand recognition) back.
The above rarely ever leads to any sort of comeback, so it's easier just to list aversions:
Lil Wayne's Tha Carter II is universally considered to be an improvement over Tha Carter; some fans still consider II to be his best album, in fact. While Tha Carter III massively outsold II, debate still rages on the better album. However, a consensus has emerged on Tha Carter IV - namely, that it's a steaming hunk of shit compared to the previous two Carters. As two albums came between III and IV (including the rock album), IV ended up playing the rule straight.
The musical Of Thee I Sing, a cheerful satire on the American political system, opened on Broadway late in 1931 to immense popular and critical acclaim, which not only made it one of the longest-running shows of the decade but won a Pulitzer Prize for its writers; it was the first ever musical play to win the award. Almost two years later, a sequel, Let 'Em Eat Cake, appeared from the same authors, with the same principal actors and the same producer. It was not a commercial success; many of its jokes were recycled from the earlier show, and a bewildering series of plot complications (involving, among other things, a baseball-playing League of Nations) stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far.
Bring Back Birdie was a sequel to Bye Bye Birdie, produced and set twenty years later. It was written by the same authors as the original show, and featured the same characters, with Chita Rivera once again starring as Rose Alvarez. Most people who saw the show during the less than a week it ran on Broadway agreed that it was horrible. Somewhat infamous for a moment where the actor playing Birdie lost the beat to one of the songs then marched off stage, saying, "You sing it! I never liked this song anyway!"
The musical Annie similarly had a sequel written by the same authors (including composer Charles Strouse, who had also done Bye Bye Birdie and Bring Back Birdie, though lyricist Martin Charnin seems to have been the ringleader in this scheme), with several of the older members of the original cast reprising their roles. In the implausible plot of Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge, Daddy Warbucks was ordered to find a mother for Annie, which provided the opportunity for Miss Hannigan's scheme (conceived with a good deal of Motive Decay) to first become Warbucks's wife and then a widow without any dependents. When the eagerly awaited show had its pre-Broadway opening in Washington, D.C. in January 1990, audiences were stunned at how unfunny the show was. Massive rewrites ensued, and continued in earnest even after the show's Broadway booking was canceled and several star actors dropped out, including Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan. Miss Hannigan was ultimately written out in favor of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute (though the plot remained mostly the same), and the authors' desperate efforts to get their show into New York finally resulted in its opening off-Broadway in 1993, as Annie Warbucks. Critics recognized the show as an unnecessary sequel, and it failed to catch on with audiences.
The musical The Boy Friend also suffers from this despite being not as well known as some others out there. Its sequel is so ridiculous that it has to be seen (or read) to believe. The name? ''Divorce Me, Darling!''
The Australian run of Love Never Dies was extensively reworked by Andrew Loyd Webber, with the greatest improvements being made to the characterization (of nearly all the characters) and the plot. Needless to say, the current run is leagues better then when it first started showing. If it lives up to the original however is still very much YMMV.
Though the one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti has never ranked among Leonard Bernstein's best-known works, its reputation is considerably better than A Quiet Place, the three-act sequel Bernstein decided to write three decades later. The libretto reads like a bad soap opera, and the music is generally dull except for the parts of the second act which incorporate Trouble in Tahiti in its entirety as a flashback.
Many rides in Disney Theme Parks fall prey to this. Perhaps the most puissant example of this trope in a Disney ride is the "Imagination" rides featured at the EPCOT theme park in Disney World. The original ride, Journey Into Imagination, was a much beloved and very creative ride centering around the world of a child's imagination and starred the Dreamfinder, a red-bearded eccentric who collected dreams and creative thoughts, and his pet purple dragon Figment. Executive Meddling involving a potential change in sponsors caused the ride to close in 1998 for a complete overhaul. It was reopened in 1999 as "Journey Into Your Imagination", a completely redone ride featuring none of the charm possessed by the original and with both Figment and the Dreamfinder MIA. The new ride set a record for the most complaints received over a new attraction at a Disney Park. The revamp was received so badly, it was closed a mere 2 years later in 2001. In 2002 the ride received its most recent update, "Journey Into Imagination With Figment". Though it is a notable improvement over the second version of the ride, most long time Disney parkgoers tend to agree that the ride's first incarnation was by far its best.
Opinion differs on whether Master Of Orion or Master of Orion II is the better game, but almost no-one thinks Master of Orion III is anything but unmitigated crap.
X-COM: UFO Defense (or UFO: Enemy Unknown, depending on where you live) was a surprise hit, with its great atmosphere, fine management section, and superb tactical section. Microprose decided to ride the wave and, after less than a year, released X-COM: Terror from the Deep: under a shiny package of new graphics and sound, the game was exactly the same, only taking place underwater, with difficulty re-balanced for the worse, and bugs that could block the tech tree, making the game unwinnable. X-COM: Apocalypse was from the original developers but, sadly, it completely lacked atmosphere and, while trying to be more complex, it became cumbersome. X-COM: Interceptor (a mediocre Wing Commander clone) and X-COM: Enforcer (a shallow Third Person Shooter) followed and were quickly and deservedly forgotten, while more interesting projects were cancelled thanks to the mismanagements of Microprose and Hasbro Interactive.
Firaxis Games' remake, XCOM: Enemy Unknown (note the lack of a hyphen), was well received by critics and fans.
Nearly any Lemmings game after Lemmings 2: The Tribes.
Tomb Raider II was generally considered almost equal or an Even Better Sequel on release. By Chronicles, the series had firmly fell into this trope and The Angel of Darkness was the last straw before the series began recovering by being moved to another developer.
Mega Man has been all over the place with this. At some point a given series starts sucking hard and a spinoff is made. It starts off great, then slowly slides into crap until a spinoff is made and the cycle begins anew. From the sound of it, this could be blamed on Executive Meddling; Kenji Inafune, the creator of Mega Man, wanted to end the classic series at 6 and the X series on 5, but Capcom wanted to make more money.
7 was released after the series' firstSequel Series, and it and its following installments are considered massive improvements. Some fans still consider 2 and 3 to be the pinnacle of the series, however.
Mega Man X 8 was also surprisingly good despite the enormous amounts of Fake Difficulty. Apparently Capcom sequels go in cycles. 9 supports this theory.
Mega Man Battle Network actually really improved for the last installment, although the two proceeding ones were pretty mediocre.
The progression goes: 1 was bad but an Obvious Beta so it was forgiven, 2 got the formula right, 3 was still a very solid game and regarded one of the best along with 2 and also would have wrapped everything up nicely if it had ended on that, 4 most people would rather forget and was pretty out there even for the games, 5 the game started to get back on track but not quite there, 6 returned to to the formula that made 2 and 3 good but still wasn't considered good enough to be masterpiece as 2/3.
Mega Man Star Force had the same situation. The first was alright, the second was bad, but the third is largely agreed to have been fantastic.
Mega Man Zero, on the other hand, averted this entirely; all four installments are universally beloved, with the largest complaint from reviewers being that they were too same-y.
Its sequel spin-off series, Mega Man ZX, on the other hand, falls directly into the pit of Sequelitis with its second installment, which most fans agree markedly lacked the charm of the first.
Devil May Cry moves back and forth with this. Devil May Cry 2 is generally considered to be far inferior to the original, what with its lousy story, bland combat, and greatly lowered difficulty level. Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening is usually seen as much better (sometimes even better than the original). Devil May Cry 4 is also seen by some as inferior, but by some as being decent but not as good as 1 or 3. As for the reboot, DMC: Devil May Cry, it is widely despised by fans due to its "Westernized" approach, overly simplified combat system, and Dante becoming unattractive and his dialogue being completely immature and unfunny.
Perfect Dark is considered one of the best Nintendo 64 games. Prequelitis ensued with Perfect Dark Zero, you can essentially call it a In Name Only prequel. The continuity of of the first game is only glanced upon, Joanna is a spunky oddly clad girl with red hair and a penchant for one liners. The Carrington Institute makes an appearance.....with Carrington himself having become 200% more Scottish complete with a kilt. The aliens are non-existent only hinted, the main antagonist being a company connected to dataDyne being run by a small stereotypical Chinese man. The gameplay? The game was developed by a different team (because the original developers left Rare), that speaks for itself.
Some fans of the Need for Speed series argue the series got really bad after the third or so installment, especially when it started drifting into GTA territory.
There's a lot of flame wars out there about whether this applies to Final Fantasy. Seeing as the Final Fantasy title is just a way of adverting that it's a JRPG that Square Enix put a lot of money into, this is somewhat nonsensical.
The few direct sequels / prequels have had mixed results. Some of them, like Crisis Core, have been considered worthy follow-ups. Some of them, like Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, and Final Fantasy X-2, start flame wars.
Final Fantasy XIV, on the other hand, was universally considered to be subpar upon release. The reception for the game was so bad that many of the staff working on it were laid off, and Square Enix had to make the game free to play in order to keep fans around. Because of this, the game is also undergoing a complete overhaul in order to fix the many problems that were addressed by reviewers.
The Army Men franchise was initially insanely popular. Then somewhere the lack-luster spin-offs and In Name Only sequels slowly choked off sales until 3DO finally went bankrupt in 2003. Even with the parent company dead, other companies are still trying to make cash off of the brand, the latest entries getting some of the worst reviews in shooting games.
Manhunt was a well-received game for its creepy tension, innovative use of sound, complex enemy AI, and wide variety of kill moves. Manhunt 2 was a step back from that, with less intelligent enemies, less menace and tension, and a confusing story. At least the Gorn is still good.
The original Double Dragon was a fairly innovative beat 'em up that introduced some of the conventions used in later games of the genre like two-player co-op and obtainable weapons, while the arcade version of Double Dragon II was mostly a Mission Pack Sequel with a fairly improved NES version. Double Dragon 3 on the other hand, featured crappier "realistic" graphics, replaced half of the original game's moves and weapons with ineffectual new ones, and added a gimmicky shopping system where you can purchase power-ups for your character (including a replacement character) by inserting more tokens to the machine. There were a few more Double Dragon games after the third one, but the series never achieved the same level of popularity it once had with the first two games.
On home consoles, the NES edition of Double Dragon 3 is still seen as a very good game despite its absurdly high difficulty. The series didn't start getting nailed into its coffin until Super Double Dragon which was rushed to the point that it hit shelves as an incomplete game, and the dismal Double Dragon V which, despite being a numbered sequel, threw out the beat 'em up formula and swapped it for lackluster one-on-one fighting.
Shift 4 lampshades this in the ending, aware that it is now a quadrilogy. "Who is the game that risks its rep on Sequel Shame? Shift!" Some people do think that the 2nd game was a vast improvement, but the 3rd and 4th installments were pretty average at best.
Backyard Sports. It started off as a decently enjoyable game series with clever characters and a good sense of humor. After Atari's buy-out from Humongous Entertainment, the series began a noticeable drop in quality. Then when the 2007 titles came in, it was agreed the series had lost all respect.
Homeworld averted this, barely, with 'standalone expansion' Cataclysm, despite it being a literal Mission Pack Sequel. It caught some flak for the dramatic shift in narrative tone and the new tech and ship designs were a bit hit-or-miss, but it did some pretty cool stuff with the existing graphics engine and generally came across like the development team at sub-contractee Barking Dog had at least played the original. Homeworld 2 was a bit less fortunate, however; a lot of the original creative team had moved on in the interim, and Relic massively over-extended themselves trying to create game environments with 'megastructures' straight out of the best kind of Space Opera and generally go Serial Escalation, and much of the more Crazy Awesome stuff failed to make the final cut. The end result was by no means bad -the graphics stand up quite well six years later and it's a lot more mod-friendly than the previous two- but the finished product had several minor but annoying bugs and balance issues and generally felt rushed. The gulf between Relic's original vision and what we actually got didn't help.
Thunder Force VI. Released over 10 years after Thunder Force V, it came to be a massive disappointment amongst fans. Very short game length (even by shmup standards), the lack of the "direct" control scheme from V, bosses that are made pathetically easy thanks to a certain ship's Limit Break, excessive Internal Homages, and stages that pale in comparison to the rest of the series; the last stage, for instance, looks like a cheap version of Thunder Force V's Stage 4.
The Spider-Man movie spinoff games demonstrated much the same path as the movies: the first one is good, the second is awesome, then things go a bit downhill. Fortunately, Web of Shadows was there to fix matters after Friend or Foe, which we do not talk about.
The Shining Series really was the fantasy series in the Sega Genesis era topping off with an amazing if little-known three part finale on the Sega Saturn. Attempts to branch off into the action-adventure genre have varied between mediocre-but-passable (SF Neo, SF EXA, Shining Soul II) to forgettable (Shining Tears, the original Shining Soul). Atlus and Sega did a competent job with the Game Boy AdvanceEnhanced Remake of the first Shining Force. Fans have been waiting for years to see if a remake of Shining Force II will surface, but it's looking increasingly unlikely every day.
Many famous pre-Halo shooters did NOT age well with time. The reboots of Turok and Wolfenstein were run-off-the-mill regenerating health shooters (to speak nothing of Oblivion), Deus Ex Invisible War was panned by fans who hated how the game was simplified. Only Marathon and DOOM made it out unscathed. On the other hand, all of Wolfenstein 3D'ssequels were critical and commercial successes, while Doom 3 now seems to be experiencing a spot of retroactive Hype Backlash.
Madden NFL and similiar sport game series are notorious for being continued every year, usually with next to no changes in gameplay or even graphics. The main difference is updated statistics and players.
The arcade version of Beatmania IIDX9th Style didn't go so well with fans. The judgment timing windows are inconsistent from song to song; one song may be ridiculously easy to score on, another may feel very tight, another may be off, etc. In addition, 9th Style took out the Effector, a staple of the series, and a Game-Breaking Bug sometimes causes the game to crash upon selecting "Quasar".
Bloody Roar. First game: New and unbalanced concept, but some fun novelty. Second game: Takes everything good about the first game, polishes it up, adds a decent story and you have a surprisngly simple yet tactical fighter. Third game: Needlessly dumbed down and possibly worth playing if you can't find Soul Calbiur. Fourth game: extremely dumbed down and unbalanced, with the old staff long since having left, and featuring new (terrible) character designs, and making it much, much easier to spam (this also defining the reputation the series has). Fifth game: As sequels go, its on par with Batman and Robin. But with worse acting.
Sonic fell into this once the series went 3D. The Sonic Adventure series was considered excellent despite minor flaws. Sonic Heroes was considered to be average, but the series reached a low point in Sonic 2006, a rushed, glitch-ridden mess that is near-universally despised by gamers and critics alike. The trend finally began reversing with Sonic Unleashed, with the subsequent Wii version of Sonic Colors and the X360/PS3/Steam versions of Sonic Generations being lauded by fans as the best 3D titles in the franchise.
Sequelitis has also occured within the Sonic 4 series itself-the second episode has received a noticeably lower critical and commercial reception than the first episode, which according to Word Of God will determine the future of the saga.
Call of Duty is starting to get this with a new game getting released yearly with nine games so far. Some people*
though not its teenage target audience
are starting to realize they are paying $60 for the exact same game with a makeover.
While we're on the subject of LEGO, their more recent games would certainly qualify. The first game, LEGO Star Wars was somewhat enjoyable for kids, and since that focused on the prequel trilogy it made sense to eventually follow it up with a sequel based on the classic trilogy. However since then, discounting minor additions they've essentially been using the exact same gameplay and simply applied it to different liscensed themes, having now done two based on Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Batman, and Marvel Super Heroes. Aside from the last two, all the games are basically made up of levels loosely based on scenes from their respective movies (with cutscenes that are literally just cheesy re-enactments with no dialogue) and some hanging out in a notable location from the respective franchise in between.
The first two episodes of Eye Of The Beholder, while not revolutionary, were excellent dungeon crawlers and the second is recognized as an Even Better Sequel. Then Westwood went on to work on Lands of Lore but SSI decided to make another sequel anyway. The result was a game that brought back many of the flaws of the original and amplified them, with absurd mazes and frustrating difficulty, and suffered from a mediocrely programmed engine too.
The general consensus of the Star Fox series after Star Fox 64. There's so much Fan Myopia that it has lead to one of the most broken series of all time. Nintendo themselves have caught on to the decrease in sales, and though Miyamoto joked about it, if sales for Star Fox 64 3D weren't decent, then the series probably would've been down the tubes.
The first two Flat Out games were well-known for their destructible environments and ragdoll driver physics - the most amusing parts being the mini-games that involved the player launching their driver out of his car into various targets and watching him flop around in pain. Five years separated the second and third games, and development was taken up by Team 6 Games (of European Street Racer infamy) while Bugbear Interactive worked on Ridge Racer: Unbounded. Unfortunately, Team 6's FlatOut game looks ugly, is riddled with bugs, and none of the tracks are fun to navigate.
Earnest Evans isn't so well regarded as El Viento, in part due to poor gameplay and design and most infamously, poorly done graphics, especially on the titular hero, who is made up of multiple sprites put together to create the illusion of more fluid movement, but only succeeded in making Earnest look like a deranged marionette. The cutscenes in Earnest Evans are commonly poorly done, though they were removed completely from the American version, which tried to make it a sequel rather than a prequel to El Viento. The Earnest Evans trilogy ended with the Japan-only title Annet Futatabi, a Golden Axe ripoff whose most outstanding points were cutscenes and copious Fake Difficulty.
A Super Mario World hack series, Super Sig World is arguably the ultimate example of poorly done sequels in large numbers, with TWENTY FIVE installments in about two or three years. It's debatable how terrible each individual game is (although the best ones are merely average, and the amount of reused content is kind of staggering), but still making a 70-level game every three months seems like overkill.
Ninja Gaiden III was a major departure from what made the first two Xbox/PS3 entries memorable, stripping Ryu of most of his arsenalnote only his sword, his bow and arrows, and one of his ninjutsu were carried over; the rest are available in the game's multiplayer mode via DLC packs and nerfing the previous games' punishing difficulty to the point that battles are no longer challenging or fun.
The general consensus of Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is that while the original game's controller was bulky and gimmicky, at least it worked. Heavy Armor's hybrid Kinect/traditional controller setup was meant to mimic this feeling without the use of as many buttons, but the implementation is sloppy and the game is barely playable as a result.
Despite all the pre-release buzz and excitement for Street Fighter X Tekken, it has gone on life support in the competitive fighting game community very quickly. It has been dropped from most weekly streams and is getting shunted into "B-list" spots at tournaments less than six months after its release, and it could possibly die completely after Evo 2012. It is so slow, limited in scope, ugly, and crappy to watch compared to otherentriesinthe series (bar Capcom Fighting Evolution, which was perceived to be just as bad) that people start booing if it looks like people might win - not because they like the other player, but because they just want the SFxT part of the tournament to end.
Also raising ire among the less tournament-minded SFxT players is that most of the in-game content (Gems, custom colors, preset combos, and even a dozen extra fightersnote on the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions; the PlayStation Vita port had everyone available right from the start) needed to be purchased to be used, instead of being unlockable within the game.
The Mario Party series is filled to the brim with this trope. Every sequel had a few new gimmicks and mini games to stand out from the game before it, but eventually, the games started to rehash older mini games/boards/gimmicks with a slight tweak to them. Fan favorite Donkey Kong was quickly shunted to the side as an NPC after being a playable character in a few games and has even completely vanished from some of the party games as well. Other characters kept coming and going like a revolving door; characters like Toad and Blooper would appear in only one or two games while others like Birdo and Dry Bones only appeared in certain other games. Since the party games kept being released every year or every other year, fans started to notice just how stale the series had gotten and it may explain why Mario Party 9 came out 4 years after the 8th party and having revamped the basics of the game.
Dragon Age: Origins is pretty much universally praised by those who have played it, not perfect but engaging and with a few semi-unique gameplay twists. Dragon Age II is very much in the Contested Sequel territory, thanks to "streamlined" combat that appeals to some but puts off those that prefer a more tactical approach, heavily reused area maps, and a much more fatalistic storyline where things ARE going to hell, you're caught up in the middle of it and apparently just making everything worse as you try to help, and best case is you get to choose what side of the brewing civil war you want to be on. Some hope was raised for the announced third game, which BioWare announced would go "back to its roots" with both tactical fighting and more total map-space than the prior two games combined.
Silent Hill was good. 2 and 3 were better. 4 was debatable. Origins and Homecoming... were really debatable. Although some people think Downpour is helping the series get back on track, but is still the subject of debate.
Resident Evil 6 got an overall mixed reception compared to previous installments, with most of the professional reviews being extremely polarized as really positive or really negative.
This series was already heading this way starting with the third game which re-hashed the second game only giving more emphasis on the Raccoon City outbreak. Code Veronica (the technical fourth game) hardly added anything new to the formula save some improved camera angles. The remake of the first game picked up some interest but that fell with Zero which coasted by on a gimmick that let you switch between the two characters. After a few side games (Survivor, Gaiden, Dead Aim, the Outbreak games). It did an overhaul with RE 4 which was praised as one of the better games. Then part five came and it was considered more of the same only with co-op added. The less said about Operation Raccoon City the better.
Guitar Hero started with two great games that were considered genre-busting (though beaten long ago by Guitar Freaks, Hero is just considered less punishing), but fell hard into this after the release of the third game, with the following games trying to ride the coattails of the competing Rock Band series (which used multiple instruments) and ultimately losing.
The Paper Mario games have this. While the second is usually considered superior to the original, it's also seen as the high point of the series. Super Paper Mario and Paper Mario Sticker Star have their fans, but SPM is considered a step down for completely changing the genre, and Sticker Star is derided for removing most of the elements that made the first two games iconic.
Another World wasn't intended to have a sequel, but Interplay, who brought the game to the U.S. (as Out of This World), decided they really needed to produce one. The result was Heart of the Alien, a mess of a game which only confirmed Eric Chahi's initial doubts.
Static Shock and The Zeta Project are part of the DCAU, which also contains such well loved classics as Batman The Animated Series, Superman The Animated Series, Justice League, and Batman Beyond, all acclaimed for their mature story lines, great characters and voice actors, and excellent animation. However, those two are considered far less intriguing, as they are taken to much lighter tone, as they lack many aspects that made the DCAU so memorable. While the two were far from terrible, and they still had their fair share of likable characters, and a few good episodes, they are far below the other series. Part of this reason is because of the lack of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. (Though Dini wrote a few ''Static Shock episodes.)
The other reason probably has to do with the fact that Static and Zeta aren't DC characters; Static was from Milestone Comics (though DC was their publisher), while Zeta was from a Poorly Disguised Pilot in Batman Beyond
There is also Gotham Girls, a web-series. It is considered more of a parody series, and its official place in the DCAU is disputed. There is also a web-series based off of Lobo, and as with Gotham Girls, its continuity status is not known. Lobo is not considered too good, however.