As the number of films in a series grows, the probability that the latest entry will be terrible increases geometrically. While the first sequel of a movie is something of a coin toss between "totally awesome" and "mediocre", the more they push the Cash Cow
, the riskier it gets. Of course, movies that go to theatre have high production values. On the whole, their directors are at least trying.
But if it's Direct-to-Video
, the chances that the third one is nothing but unmitigated crap is already close to 100%. This is partly because people assume a DTV movie is just something that wasn't good enough to get into theatres. And they tend to be right.
In other words, Sequels
to movies, generally created on the impetus of box office revenue, 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 usually 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. The distinction is that unplanned sequels tend to have the feel of being tacked onto a story that was finished and done with, for no reason other than that the first work made lots of money and someone wants to keep that sweet gravy train coming in.
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 creative potential for a sequel and regardless of the fans wanting a sequel or not.
- The original was thematically rich, but then the sequels were either too Anvilicious with topics that require tact and subtlety or only scraped the surface of subjects where Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
- Retcons that piss off people for whatever reason.
- Franchise Original Sin: Early in the franchise there were minor flaws, but as new installments roll in these problems just get out of hand.
- Undoing the ending of the previous film when it gave no room for more stories. The backlash can go double for sequels that turn happy endings into the beginning of great suffering, struggle, and conflict.
- The contrived revival or return of a character (particularly a villain) 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.
- The casual, shameless, meaningless, 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.
- Being too similar to the previous movie(s), to the point that it's just the same thing over again. For the more general trope applying to recycled story arcs, see Fleeting Demographic Rule.
- Being nothing like the previous movie(s), but not because they want to stay fresh or try to innovate, but for other reasons like not being able to do something like the original thanks to the plot/actors/lower budget/rating/licenses/etc, or relying on what is current and/or popular or trying to be more like other successful movies.
- Wacky Wayside Tribes begin choking the plot to conceal the fact that the writers have basically run out of story.
- The reuse of some element that was felt to be important to the first movie's success, in hopes that having even more of that element will make the sequel even better. If it works for the first sequel, it will be cranked up more and more in further sequels. This may lead to Vulgar Humor, sadistic slapstick violence, or something else along those lines.
- Pandering to the Base, which can come in several harmful forms that may appear together or separately:
- 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.
- Continuity Porn annoying fans who get the nods and being downright confusing and jarring to those who might not even know references are being made.
- 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.
The dreadful compulsion on the part of writers and filmmakers to add new chapters to perfectly good works has been likened to an addiction, sometimes termed 'sequelholism'. The writers sometimes seem aware of this, and as a run of sequels are produced they may drop numbering the movies entirely and start adding cliché subtitles
. This only makes it harder to guess the order to watch for new fans. If they aren't
aware of this, then, in the end, odds are First Installment Wins
The inverse is a Surprisingly Improved Sequel
(a good sequel to a mediocre or terrible work) or Even Better Sequel
(an awesome sequel to a good original work) Contested Sequel
is when there is considerable division about the sequel's quality. For a strangely divergent sequel, see In Name Only
. For a sequel that retains the monster or villain but features none of the original heroes, see Villain-Based Franchise
. Can be caused by a poor choice in Sequel Escalation
, and lead up to Franchise Zombie
if a sequel that should have been a Franchise Killer
doesn't destroy the series. Backlash against sequels has made many reviewers Sequelphobic
. Some fans treat such sequels with Fanon Discontinuity
. See also Sophomore Slump
, The Problem with Licensed Games
. For TV series, this can sometimes be a result of a Post Script Season
. The reason why Sequel Snark
and Ridiculous Future Sequelization
became common jokes.
To see Egoraptor
's web series of the same name
, click here
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Anime and Manga
- Rumor has it Yoshiyuki Tomino invented the Kill 'em All trope partly to prevent this from occurring, as he routinely claimed to despise sequel work. Obviously it greatly backfired with Mobile Suit Gundam (the franchise continued even after the original principal characters Amuro Ray and Char Aznable died), but most of Tomino's other works, such as Aura Battler Dunbine and Space Runaway Ideon, otherwise ended with their initial series since most of their casts (or their entire setting in the case of Ideon) were killed off.
- 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.
- 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!.
- To Heart: Remember my Memories.
- Dragon Ball GT is seen by some of the Dragon Ball fanbase as a combination of this and Franchise Zombie due to being done by Toei Animation, declared non-canon by the creator, and only featuring a couple of his designs.
- 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 reversal 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.
- The Pokémon franchise has, as of 2014, a total of sixteen movies thrown in there. Similar to The Land Before Time, most fans say that the quality of the movies has been all over the place, with the first few movies being superior to most of the sequelsnote , barring a few standouts.
- The Eureka Seven fandom was divided on the subject of Eureka Seven AO from its announcement. As the series progressed, barring brief moments of hope, fan outlook grew increasingly bleak, with the ending (and even a few of the plot threads) provoking cries of Fanon Discontinuity. It hardly helped that it contradicted many of the themes of the original series, particularly the ability of humans and Coralians to coexist. That last one was enough to spark the "Dewey was right!" fandom meme.
- This is why Pretty Cure doesn't do sequel series anymore after the poor reception of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO!GO!. Many of them are realizing, though, that rival series Aikatsu is heading that way, what with a second sequel series coming up.
- Fushigiboshi No Futago Hime has a sequel series in the form of Gyu!. It took virtually all of the characters out of their unique world and put them into a generic school location and had a similarly-generic Monster of the Week format (going along the success of the previous series delving into Magical Girl Warrior later during its run) and Demoted to Extra everyone but Fine and Rein. While it did introduce a handful of good characters, most fans like to pretend ''Gyu!'' never happened.
- Gunslinger Girl Teatrino was received much more poorly than the original. There are multiple reasons. A few of which are: A new Japanese cast, an emphasis on action, more spotlight on the girls Precocious Crush's, a new Moe art style, lesser accurate Gun Porn, Angelica being alive, and averting the fan-preferred Accidental Aesop in exchange for an anime that's clearly just meant to be about cute girls with guns. Note it's in fact truer to the original manga than the original anime but that apparently isn't a good thing.
- Bubblegum Crisis was canceled after 8 of the planned 13 episodes were produced due to legal issues. However, a 3-episode sequel Bubblegum Crash was made to give the series some closure, but it only ended up raising more questions, and altering many characters' personalities, as well as plot details. A 3-episode prequel A.D. Police Files was also released to decent reception. This was all followed by a pretty good TV series remake/reimagening Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, and got two more spinoff series, A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve and Parasite Dolls, with the former being savaged by fans and critics, and the latter mostly going unnoticed. A sequel to Tokyo 2040 called Tokyo 2041 was once in production, but never left Development Hell.
- The 2003 sequel to the original 90s Tenchi Muyo! OVA series got poor reception from fans and critics, as well as the spinoff Tenchi Muyo GXP. The franchise had been dormant for a few years following the poor reception of spinoff Tenchi in Tokyo, and the mixed reception of the three films. The original OVAs and their TV remake/reimagening Tenchi Universe are really the only parts of the franchise with good reception.
- Parodied in The Simpsons comic book storyline "When Bongos Collide!", in which everyone in Springfield gets superpowers as a result of a nuclear explosion. Troy McClure's alter-ego, The Sequelizer, has the power to "create an infinite number of copies of [himself] — although each is only 50% as powerful as the one before."
- It's more a case of Base Breaker, but several fan think of Pk2 as this for the excellent Paperinik New Adventures. Many more consider "Pikappa" a definite case.
- The Punisher suffered from this. He did fine when he started out as an occasional guest star in Spider-Man's comics and did okay when he debuted in his own limited series, and then ongoing series. Unfortunately, when he became more popular and Marvel started to star him in Punisher War Journal and Punisher War Zone, fans started to see what a one-dimensional character he was. In 1995, all three of his comics were cancelled due to poor sales; he did gain some popularity back in 2000 as part of the Marvel Knights line.
- Avengers Undercover was considered vastly inferior to both its immediate predecessors, Avengers Academy and Avengers Arena, and sales were so bad it was canceled at ten issues out of an intended twelve. For reference, cancellation of a book that has a set number of issues from the get-go is extremely rare. Avengers Arena itself was a Contested Sequel at best, with very few fans of Academy or Runaways walking away satisfied. Undercover, it seems, burned through what little goodwill Arena had remaining.
- The Nail is one of the more beloved Elseworlds stories, with its dark storytelling and interesting showcasing of a world without Superman and how needed The Cape really is to the DCU. You'll find much fewer fans of Another Nail, which featured a far more convoluted and silly plot without any real hook to draw it together.
- While A Trusted Friend In Science And Ponies is still good, it lacks the humor of the original story, and while the story is more complex, it is much more obviously a fanfiction-style plot compared to the original's simpler, more faithful story.
- The fic is currently being rebooted to bring it much closer to the original, without any of the extra necessities.
- In-Universe in Retro Chill: Galaxoid and Nebular send the protagonists Triassic Park IX and Harry Potter XCIX: The Fifth Hogwarts Reuinion.
- The Hate Fic/Fix Fic My Little Unicorn has four sequels and counting note , and they don't get any better. Beats0me, a DeviantArt member who draws parody comics of MLU, noted that the beginning of the series is So Bad, It's Good, reminiscent of watching a corny old kids' action cartoon. However, the further it goes on, the more Unfortunate Implications, racism, sexism and other disturbing content start cropping up.
Films — Animated
- Disney's run Direct-to-Video sequels from 1994 to 2007 made this inevitable. After Aladdin: The Return of Jafar enjoyed resonable success and kicked off the well-written Aladdin: The Animated Series, it opened the floodgates. While not all of their sequels were disasters, there were far more poor and mediocre sequels than you should expect from their franchise. More specifically...
- 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. It is particularly disliked because Pocahontas has a relationship with a different man in the sequel, destroying her romance with John Smith. The original was far enough removed from historical accuracy as it was; why did they feel this sudden need for it now?
- Bambi has a direct-to-video midquel which was released just shy of the original's 65th anniversary. It wass poorly recieved and is usually seen as average at best. The main complaints stem from that it either adds too little new to the universe of the original, or the changes it did make (i.e. Playing up contemporary humor, humanizing the characters' personalities and using contemporary folk songs mixed in with an orchestrated soundtrack) were not for the better.
- The Emperor's New Groove manages 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 is three episodes from a planned TV series based on the movie that fell through. It's painfully obvious too, despite how desperately they try to connect the three completely unrelated stories together.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2, was criticized for inferior animation, generic songs, and how many of the characters were incompetent. It was also heavily panned for its villain, widely considered one of Disney's worst in a followup to the film that gave us Judge Claude Frollo, who's widely lauded as one of Disney's deepest villains. One of the complaints included that Victor Hugo's novel couldn't have had a sequel because none of the characters survived. It was largely created to give Quasimodo a girlfriend but Madellaine was not a popular character. Some consider it Disney's worst DTV movie.
- Mulan II is decently-animated, but is largely overlooked and ultimately criticized for the even greater liberties taken in its portrayal of Chinese culture, one character taking a level in jerkass, and for leaving the plot in which Mulan must save China once more unresolved; specifically, it was Mulan's mission to escort the Emperor's three daughters to a powerful lord in order to marry his sons, which would secure a union that would safeguard China from an impending invasion by the Mongols. Instead, shocked at the very idea of an arranged marriage, Mulan teaches the princesses to follow their own paths. This would be a meaningful lesson except for the fact that in doing so such a union apparently never took shape by the end of the film, which despite ending on an uplifting note with Mulan's wedding does not address the Mongol invasion that is now sure to happen due to these actions. The sequel earned a rare 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- The Fox and the Hound 2 is hated as well, due to being almost completely In Name Only, and the entire thing is accused of being a case of Tastes Like Diabetes.
- Beauty and the Beast has two. The first one, Belle's Magical World, is extremely episodic and formulaic, clearly written to try and kick off a TV series. While the second one, was recieved slightly better, the plot has little to do with the fairytale, being more of a standard Christmas movie.
- The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea is again, accused of reusing the first film's ideas.
- Cinderella had two. The first was weak and rather episodic, but the second, A Twist In Time, was lauded as "When the sequels started getting good." Unfortunately, it was far too late; people had come to expect a Disney sequel would be episodic and cheaply animated.
- 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.
- With several additional sequels in the pipeline — including Finding Dory (2015), Toy Story 4 (2017), Cars 3 (2018), and The Incredibles 2 (2019) — there's increasing apprehension about Pixar falling victim to this in the future
- For a canon example, Fantasia 2000, while enjoying quite a good reception, is not as well regarded as the original Fantasia; a lighter tone stemming from celebrity hosts and more cartoony pieces speaks of lower artistic ambition.
- The Land Before Time's twelve sequels. The quality of the series is up and down from movie to movie and may range from good to mediocre to poor; most agree that none are a match for Bluth's original film. It's a bad sign when there are more sequels than even horror movie franchises like Halloween, Saw, Paranormal Activity, or Friday the 13th.
- The rest of Don Bluth's animated films have also been hit with Sequelitis: there are currently sequels for An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven (both of which also got a TV series), and The Secret Of NIMH. An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West, though Lighter and Softer than the original, is actually considered a quality follow-up due to a higher budget theatrical release. The Secret Of NIMH 2: Timmy To The Rescue however, is considered terrible by practically all fans of the original. In all of those cases, Bluth was not involved with any of the sequels; the only sequels he was ever actually involved with making were the video game Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp and the Anastasia direct-to-DVD sequel Bartok the Magnificent, which became a classic that we've all heard of. Incidentally Bluth was originally to have involvement in the other aforementioned sequels, but had to turn it down to due heavy development on his own projects at the time.
- 1995's Balto has two sequels that cause many Plot Holes; given Universal Pictures' dislike of the movie, they opted for making more The Land Before Time sequels until their traditional animation studios were closed for good. From there, they changed to computer-traditional mix, resulting in a more vivid color scheme, but considerably better quality animation.
- The first Shrek movie was a hit. The second movie grossed almost twice as highly and is considered by many to be even better. The third movie is more polarizing in comparison. Consensus on the fourth is that it's at least far better than the third.
- The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat was not written or directed by Ralph Bakshi, the maker of Fritz the Cat, or Robert Crumb, who created the original comic. The only people involved with the first film who returned for the sequel are producer Steve Krantz and voice actor Skip Hinnant. Even Duke, one of the characters from the first film, is voiced by a different actor.
- Inverted with the three Madagascar films. Each of the three has a successively higher critical rating than its predecessor on Rotten Tomatoes (the first being the only one to fall into "Rotten" territory), and the third has the highest audience rating.
Films — Live-Action
- Piers Anthony's series of Xanth novels has reached over 30 novels and currently consists almost entirely of puns and plot developments suggested by readers.
- 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
- It is generally considered to be pretty good by the phandom, and is even accepted as (admittedly dubious) canon by some. The sequel to the 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.
- 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 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 Ret Cons things established in the previous ones to an annoying degree.
- The sequel novels in The Bourne Series.
- They 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.
- Ursula K. Le Guin completed the original Earthsea Trilogy in 1974. Sixteen years later, she wrote a fourth book Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, which suffers from Mood Whiplash, Writer on Board and a lack of plot. And it wasn't even the last book.
- The feminist science fiction writer Suzette Elgin conceived Native Tongue with a lot innovative ways to fuse feminism, SF, and linguistics. In the novel, the women use a language she invented to express difference experiences more suited for woman. The novel is excellent, the two sequels on the other hand are chaotic jumbles that create more loose ends than they tie up.
- Gone with the Wind
- 55 years after its publication, 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.
- Robert Asprin's Phule's Company series; the first 2 books are decent, the books co-written after that take a marked turn downwards. But this is partly the fault of Real Life Writes the Plot and Author Existence Failure. His Myth Adventures series, while maintaining a high standard for quite a while, has also begun to sag for the same reason.
- 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.
- It 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 Enders 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, Xenocide and Children of the Mind 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 fares 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.
- Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series
- Don't talk to fans about the sequel series focusing on Merlin. Just don't.
- And don't even dare mention the John Betancourt knockoffs, officially sanctioned or not.
- Redwall, partially because the plot that worked for the first five or six books gets a bit stale when it's pulled out for the twentieth time. It does not help that the Wacky Wayside Tribes started to replace "plot relevance" with "annoying habits" around the time of "The Pearls of Lutra".
- The sequels to Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama (which are actually written primarily by Gentry Lee) suffer from this.
- 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 Against sets 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 Who Past 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 arrangement 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 character's 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 The 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 and fourth arcs are very... polarizing, and the fifth is typically liked a little better than those due to being fresher with the new time period and characters, but still there's a general opinion that the series is dragging on too long. 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.
- George Macdonald Fraser's Flashman series dances around this. There's no fan consensus on what's the best book, though certain sequels (namely Royal Flash and Flashman at the Charge) are generally ranked higher than the original. While the first seven books are considered pretty solid, the last five are somewhat polarizing. Criticisms include Badass Decay, making Flashman less Magnificent Bastard and more conventional Anti-Hero, Fraser injecting political views into the books and increasingly formula storytelling (Flashman gets dragged into danger, meets some historical figures, shags pretty ladies, gets betrayed by everyone yet improbably survives as a hero). Flashman on the March, the very last book, feels like a deliberate attempt to assuage these criticisms — notably evinced by the scene where Flashman kicks his Ethiopian lover down a waterfall.
- Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles are almost universally agreed to suffer from this, with the fourth book, Tale of the Body Thief, or the fifth, Memnoch the Devil, usually cited as the shark-jumping point. Not-so-coincidentally, this is around when Rice decided she had Protection from Editors. It doesn't take a particularly careful interrogation of the text to see that the characterizations are stronger in the first few books, and that's not even getting into the forgotten plot points and frequent passing-about of the Idiot Ball. Upon meeting another Vampire Chronicles fan, it's probably best to ask "what's your canon?" early on, so you can get into discussing the books you both think are good.
- In The Bible, there's the famous story of David and Goliath that everyone's heard of. Another story from the Bible is the one where a guy named Elhanan manages to kill Goliath's brother, Lahmi. That one isn't nearly as popular as the one about Goliath. Had you ever heard of it before you read this?
- Dinoverse suffers this to an extent, though it's only six books long. The first book, which was split into two, was more thoughtful and less Anvilicious than they became. Characters became better people, but it was due to their experiences rather than appearing to be the intention of the M.I.N.D. Machine. Rules and powers set down as rigid later were more flexible then, animals were less anthropomorphized, and there was more depth of character interaction. The last book abandons the idea of traveling through time by astral projecting and possessing other creatures to go with a more standard portal mechanic, and female characters stop being proactive for no reason.
- While V. C. Andrews' Dollanganger Saga aren't exactly critical darlings, they are generally beloved by Andrews' fans, even if the prequel Garden Of Shadows was completed by her ghostwriter. Almost 30 years after Andrews' death, the ghostwriter began the Christopher's Diary series, billed to bring a new prospective on the series (Via Chris). The series has so far been met with disappointment and even loathing from fans for not actually bringing anything new to the table, and for retconing Cory's death, the latter which some readers have called "Disrespectful" to Andrews' legacy.
- 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 prequel). 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 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! Nnnooooo!
- The spinoff/sequel to That '70s Show, That '80s Show, alienated old viewers and didn't get any new ones.
- Critics wanted ES Posthumus's albums to have more powerful and action-filled songs; this caused the pieces in Makara to have less variation compared to the flow and richer tunes in previous albums Unearthed and Cartographer.
- 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.
- Eminem avoided this reaction with The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show. While The Slim Shady LP is widely viewed as a hip-hop classic, the two follow-up albums, especially The Marshall Mathers LP, contained a great deal of the social commentary, controversy, and more substantive songs like "Stan" that helped cement Eminem's legendary status. Played straight, however, with The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - while it's a monstrous hit, reception is a lot more all over the place.
- Kanye West also strongly averted this with Late Registration, the second installment in the "college bear" series of albums, which is widely regarded as a worthy follow-up to College Dropout. Graduation is a bit more controversial - while it achieved massive commercial and critical success, it began Kanye's trend towards different sounds on each album. It should be noted that Kanye has actively averted this trope following Graduation - his subsequent solo albums (808s and Heartbreaks, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Yeezus) are stylistically and sonically very different.
- Jay-Z: The Blueprint is widely considered a classic album, among Jay-Z's best, contributed the term "renegaded" to hip-hop lexicon(referring to Eminem's guest appearance on "Renegade"), and helped jump-start KanyeWest's career. Blueprint 2 was considered to suffer from too many filler songs, and while Blueprint 3 was a major hit, but had a less positive critical reception.
- Many people consider Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime to be one of the best metal albums ever. Eighteen years later, after a number of less-well received albums, they made a sequel, Operation: Mindcrime 2, which most critics and fans saw as mediocre at best.
- 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!''
- Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, is being slammed by many fans of the original.
- 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 than 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 with a Clock or Steam Punk style. 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 a later 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 worsenote , 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 and The Angel of Darkness was the last straw before the series began recovering by being moved from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics.
- Earthworm Jim was a weird and well-received game. The second game was even better in nearly every aspect. Then the series met the Polygon Ceiling courtesy of a different developer, and anything resembling quality went out the window. Then Shiny Entertainment themselves threw their own quality off their windows some time after dumping Jim.
- Mega Man has been all over the place with this. At some point a given series starts sucking hard and a spin-off is made. It starts off great, then slowly slides into crap until a spin-off is made and the cycle begins anew. From the sound of it, this could be blamed on Executive Meddling; Keiji 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' first Sequel 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 X8 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 preceding 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 games two and three.
- 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 (even with, again, an extension beyond how many games Inafune wanted to make), with the largest complaint from reviewers being that they were too same-y.
- Another aversion is Mega Man Legends, which became a massive cult hit but failed to sell well. The fans agree that its sequel improved on its flaws in every way, with some saying that it took the series out of Obvious Beta status. Thanks to a bad case of Executive Meddling, it'll never be known if the third game would've bucked the trend or not.
- The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series started off as a unique concept to the industry and garnered hundreds of fans, with the PS2 port of the third installment being one of the most critically-acclaimed games of its time. As the series progressed through the Underground titles, however, the changes became minimal and predictable, the over-the-top tone got stale really quickly and the series declined in overall quality, with the peripheral-based RIDE and SHRED installments getting intense lashings from critics and fans alike. It didn't help that EA's Skate had pretty much stolen the market from Activision, too.
- 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 unappealingly douchey 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 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.
- Star Control was a fun turn-based strategy game. Star Control 2 was an epic action-adventure Surprisingly Improved Sequel. Star Control 3, made by none of the people involved with the first two, is a game most fans try to forget about.
- 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 advertising that it's a JRPG that Square Enix put a lot of money into, this is somewhat nonsensical.
- Whether and at what point the mainline series has jumped the shark is a matter of great contention, though you generally only hear this complaint starting with Final Fantasy VII, which was a rather large departure in style, tone, and game design to the six games that came before it and came to define the franchise after it in spite of being the seventh title. Despite it literally being one of the best-selling games of all time and a critical and commercial success that no other entry in the series has equaled, fans of the first six games often blame this one first. The claims of "Sequelitis" tend to just grow from there. Final Fantasy VIII, another radically different game in the series, was the first one to really start feeling the harsh blowback, though several games past this point (in spite of most of them reviewing and selling better than most games on the market) tend to get singled out as "the one."
- 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 underwent 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. Then came the dismal Double Dragon V which, despite being a numbered sequel, wasn't even by the original developers, 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 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 the final release version 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 fourth game in the Avernum series switched from the antiquated engine and sketch-like, endearing graphics of the first three to something more powerful and (theoretically) more realistic, and hence got hit with They Changed It, Now It Sucks. Since the new engine was taken from Geneforge, it also got hit with They Copied It, So It Sucks. And since the plot was quite similar to that of the third game, it was also subject to It's the Same, so It Sucks. Then there were the complaints when the game was taken on its own merits...
- 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 Advance Enhanced 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.
- Madden NFL and similiar sport game series.
- They 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 NASCAR games from the same publisher (EA Sports) and developer (EA Tiburon) as Madden suffered a particularly bad case of this, with sales dropping off with each increasingly sub-mediocre entry. The series was eventually killed outright after having a particularly awful faceplant onto the 7th-gen consoles.
- The arcade version of Beatmania IIDX 9th Style
- It 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".
- Ditto Dance Dance Revolution X and X2, especially the console versions.
- Sony's former two PS1-era platformer franchises, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, share a similar fate of both being franchises that started out with a solid first game, followed by two sequels that were better than the first, and then afterwards succumbing to Franchise Zombie territory after being mishandled by the same parent company (Universal Interactive Studios/Vivendi Games). Crash's first outing without Naughty Dog, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, was So Okay, It's Average at best, but it was at least playable compared to Spyro's first outing without Insomniac Games, which was Enter The Dragonfly-an Obvious Beta of a game that suffered from uninspired level design, Loads and Loads of Loading (they even had loading screens for the loading-screens!), terrible graphics, terrible voice acting, and being so glitchy that achieving 100% Completion was impossible.
- Bloody Roar peaked early with Bloody Roar II, and every game since that one hit a drop in quality that ended with Bloody Roar 4. By then, the series had devolved into a mindless Button Mashing game, and was hard to take seriously.
- Sonic fell into this once the series went 3D.
- The first four titles on the Sega Genesis (as well as the obscure installment for the Sega CD add-on) were highly praised at the time of their release, and are still largely considered the best titles in the series. The series was largely out of the limelight during the Sega Saturn, with Sonic Team pursuing different projects and Sega making new Sonic games without them to little success (with the cancellation of Sonic X-treme, what would had been the Video Game 3D Leap for the series, being the most notorious example of this).
The franchise eventually made its 3D leap through the Sonic Adventure series on the Sega Dreamcast. While they were considered excellent games at time of their release, over the years, they have largely been considered to have not aged well in contrast to the Genesis Sonic games.note 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 initially started to reverse with Sonic Unleashed, with the subsequent console versions of Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations being lauded by fans as the best 3D titles in the franchise; but with Sonic Lost World proving to be a serious Base Breaker with critics and fans, whether the next game will continue the series' rebound or take things further south is anyone's guess.note
- A more straight example would be Sonic the Hedgehog 4 compared to its direct predecessor, which is considered the pinnacle of the franchise. For many fans of the Genesis Sonic titles, both episodes in the saga are considered decent games in their own right, but as sequels they are anything but worthy followups.
- Call of Duty is getting this with a new game getting released yearly with ten games so far. Peoplenote are starting to realize they are paying $60 for games very similar to each other every year, as Ghosts has sold less than many of the previous Call of Duty games before it.
- LEGO Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge is somewhere between this and Contested Sequel. It was beyond rushed to the shelves, and the final product a very extreme case of Loads and Loads of Loading, dull and lifeless voice acting, painfully linear gameplay, no replay factor, a removal of a lot of characters, little explanation to anything, and mediocre animation.
- The first LEGO Star Wars game 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 licensed 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 led 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, it took the series almost a decade to get a new game (Star Fox 64 3D notwithstanding).
- The first two FlatOut 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, has 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 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.
- Street Fighter X Tekken
- Despite all the pre-release buzz and excitement, 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. It is so slow, limited in scope, ugly, and crappy to watch compared to other entries in the 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 ) 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 four years after the eighth 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. Thankfully the third game has been largely hailed by critics and fans as a much-needed return to form.
- Silent Hill 1 was good. Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 were better. Silent Hill 4 was debatable. Silent Hill Origins and Silent Hill: Homecoming... were really debatable. Although some people think Downpour is helping the series get back on track, but is still the subject of debate.
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is either loved for its excellent story, or hated for various reasons, including lack of scares and abandoning the series' established formula.
- On the other hand, Silent Hills and the related demo, PT, have received mostly positive responses. Time will tell if the final game will live up to this reception.
- Resident Evil series:
- The series was heading this way starting with the third game which re-hashed the second game only giving more emphasis on the Raccoon City outbreak. Resident Evil: 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 Resident Evil 0 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), the series did an overhaul with Resident Evil 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 Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City the better.
- 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.
- Guitar Hero. When Activision took over the franchise, they released a ton of sequels in a very short time. While the quality of the sequels varies, Activision released so many games that they flooded all interest from the genre and ended up becoming bankrupt.
- The Paper Mario games have this. The second is usually considered superior to the original and is seen as the high point of the series. Super Paper Mario is generally agreed to be a step down in gameplay, but it's said to have the best story out of all the games. Paper Mario: Sticker Star, however, is considered to be a complete step down in both story and gameplay by making battles redundant and revamping combat.
- 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.
- Sword of the Stars II has gotten a lot of flak from the original's fans for dramatic shifts in the mechanics and unneeded extra complexity for no obvious good reason.
- Call of Juarez: The Cartel, riding off the successful Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, shifted the series into a more modern setting and brought with it unresponsive controls, graphical glitches galore, and uninspired level design that penalizes you for going off track. Thankfully, the series was able to quickly get back on its feet with Gunslinger.
- Speaking of cartels, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel also qualifies. The first two games didn't break much new ground in the First-Person Shooter genre, instead embracing the macho "bro" culture for all their worth. The third game in the series does so as well, but strips away the few unique elements the other games did havenote , robbing the series of its charm.
- The first Drakengard was not necessarily a good game, but it did win a small cult following for its unusually dark plot and characters, cementing it as a different offering from Square-Enix's other games. For Drakengard 2, there was pressure to make the game less "offensive", which probably influenced the decision to have the first game's director Yoko Taro off the project. This led to a much Lighter and Softer sequel in Drakengard 2, with a much more typical Idiot Hero JRPG protagonist and actual happy endings for the main characters. While some people who suffered from Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy might enjoy something that isn't as depressing (and with improved gameplay), a lot of fans consider Drakengard 2 to have betrayed the spirit of the series, resulting in this trope. Yoko Taro would later direct a spiritual sequel in NieR, and is now directing a proper sequel in Drakengard 3. Both games are much more similar to the first entry in the series, with melancholic, depressing storylines and bizarre and depraved characters.
- The Hub's Adventure Ponies is an amusing little retraux Flash platformer that, while not amazingly good, is a fun way to kill an hour or two. Adventure Ponies 2: Wait! There's More?! wasn't as warmly received; besides the loss of the colorful backgrounds of the first game in favor of brown forests (???) and caverns, the game is essentially a Mission Pack Sequel to the original game with different characters. Even looking past that, it's a lot buggier than its big brother (the game has been known to crash to a sprite sheet or debug menu on occasion).
- The Destroy All Humans! franchise started with a well-liked game set in the '50s, followed this up with an okay game set in the '60s, and finished up with two games set in the '70s that received such bad reviews they shot the franchise down with a seeker missile.
- Dawn of War and its expansions is generally agreed to have suffered from this. The original Dawn of War was quite liked. The combination of hard counters and the ability to customize armies was hailed as a brilliant move, and though the balance was far from perfect (due to every race but one mostly comprising heavy infantry and thus being especially vulnerable to the Eldar race's use of said hard counters), it was a decent game.
- Then came Winter Assault, which was originally anticipated for its addition of the Imperial Guard and several units for the existing sides. And then it hit, and the fanbase raged. Fresh out of the gate, Chaos players were severely miffed that their Chaos Marines had all their heavy weapons ripped out in an attempt to streamline the tech trees, the hard counter system was gone, and special fury was caused by the fact that Terminators and Obliterators had been nerfed hilariously. Unit obsolescence was also a large problem here.
- Following Winter Assault, Dark Crusade promised fixes on several problems with the original game and Winter Assault, and it was a very bold attempt after the failure of Winter Assault, including an addition of a hard cap system, the return of some CSM heavy weapons, and several problems with Space Marines were fixed. Unfortunately, the game remained riddled with problems, and it introduced one of the most hated "fixes" in the series. Apparently having decided that firing on the move was overpowered, Relic introduced a flat accuracy penalty for firing on the move. 15%. No Dreadnought ever saw a weapon upgrade again, as the assault cannon was not only functionally useless (and all other units intended to fire on the move became useless as well), it hindered the Dread's melee ability, and the Eldar Fleet of Foot ability became tantamount to godmode. This was an ability on practically all Eldar infantry that boosted their movement speed beyond everything in the game, and with the accuracy reduction, there was no reason at all not to use it. A plethora of other glitches also existed. Then, after a 7 month wait for a patch, it came. And not only did it leave many things unchanged, it nerfed practically everything but Eldar, the race that was even before the patch decried by numerous fans as overpowered. In addition to all this, the two new races introduced were also blatantly broken on release.
- And then we got Soulstorm, which balanced a great many things, thanks to Iron Lore. Unfortunately, it was not to be: THQ and Relic forced the addition of flying units, something the engine was never designed to accommodate, in the process cutting the addition of many greatly-demanded units like Ork Wyrdboyz, the Leman Russ Demolisher and the Wraithguard, for example. The game's voice acting and script were also greatly criticized. And then it happened. 19 hours after launch, a game-breaking glitch for the Sisters of Battle was found that effectively killed all multiplayer until after a 9 month wait for a fix, and by that point, the game was well and truly dead. The game also suffered from multiple other glitches and bugs, and the Eldar remained blatantly overpowered.
- Epic Mickey was an average game at worst, suffering mostly from Camera Screw, janky controls, and not living up to the (admittedly impressive) hype. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two took all the problems the original had and left them basically unchanged (if anything, they got worse), and added co-op play with a broken AI, grating voices and song sections, and boring puzzles. The resulting game collapsed with a quarter of the original's sales and took its developer with it.
- The Microsoft Sam Reads Funny Windows Errors subseries Microsoft Sam And The War Trilogy has The Great Final War, which was so poorly received due to its excessive drama tone that it was cancelled and currently undergoing a major revamp.
- 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. The other reason is because Static and Zeta aren't DC characters; Static was from Milestone Comics (though DC was their publisher), while Zeta was from an alleged Poorly Disguised Pilot in Batman Beyond. Gotham Girls, a web-series, is another example. 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.
- This is the general consensus of Planet Sheen, the spinoff-sequel to The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Also suffers from Fanon Discontinuity.
- The popular opinion of The Cleveland Show, an Expy-filled "spin-off" of Family Guy.
- It's a Base Breaker but the general consensus is that All Grown Up! is this to Rugrats, due to being a rather generic Slice of Life show that suffers badly from Most Writers Are Adults, when the original had a fairly unique premise.
- Pinky and the Brain was doing just fine on its own, so no one knows quite why Executive Meddling decided to force the addition of Elmyra into the show (especially considering a previous episode had made it abundantly clear that a third main character would be basically useless). The resultant Re Tool, Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, had a few bright spots, but for the most part was enjoyed by neither viewing audiences nor those working on the show.
- Part of the Ben 10 fanbase considers Ben 10: Omniverse as such, though some would consider the series before it, Ultimate Alien. Alien Force has also been hit by this, owing to the tendency of the sequels to take liberty with the canon at the risk of contradicting one another or the original series.
- Teen Titans Go! compared to Teen Titans, given its worse animation and concentration on goofy humour, whereas the original was a blend of humour and weirdness with genuine plot and character moments.
- Total Drama, depending on who you ask, given the mixed reception of its followups compared to Total Drama Island, which enjoyed the greatest critical acclaim. The trend began with the first sequel Action, which was widely regarded as having failed to recapture the fun and excitement of the original; then came along Total Drama World Tour, considered to have been a major improvement over its predecessor, if not superior to the original, but also suffered from a Broken Base due to several divisive plot points. Revenge of the Island, the first to feature a new cast became a major Base Breaker among fans who still dispute whether the second cast proved a positive addition to the series or not, and for taking the series in a new direction with its shorter length and more "kid-friendly" tone. The next season, All-Stars however has been regarded as abysmal by large sections of the fandom who took issue with the handling of the majority of the returning cast, numerous nonsensical plot points and its controversial ending. Finally, Pahkitew Island saw the debut of yet another new cast and a new island, and was much more warmly received by fans than its predecessor with some even deeming it to be almost as good as Island, despite lingering disagreements over how the third cast compares to the previous two once more.