Series Franchise

A collection of distinct series which are often considered as a collective unit under a blanket title. They often, but not always, share a common continuity; even when they do not, they are more closely bound than Spinoffs.

While characters may come and go, formats may change from live action to animated and back again, and even production houses/creators may change over time, the thing that remains constant for a franchise is the universe in which it takes place.

In the US, series franchises are fairly rare, and usually result from a series spawning several successful Revivals, though in recent years, an increasing number of successful US series have spawned concurrent franchises, where more than one installment has aired simultaneously.

Franchises are more common in other countries, especially in the Anime and Toku genres of Japan. However, they are frequently implemented by way of Alternate Continuities that employ the same core cast in slightly (or greatly!) different settings, rather than alternate casts in the same continuity. This version is also very common in video games.

Reality shows are also often counted as franchises, with each season being counted as a distinct series in its own right. (Thus Survivor is considered a Franchise, whose installments include Survivor: Borneo, Survivor: The Australian Outback, et cetera.)

Examples of concurrent US franchises:

Examples of concurrent UK franchises:

Examples of consecutive US franchises:

Examples of Anime and Toku franchises:

  • Gundam (Eleven series, plus OAV releases, movies, in-canon games and even a ride, some in the same continuity, some not)
  • Super Sentai (35+ series since 1975)
  • Tenchi Muyo! (one OAV series, two TV series, and three movies, one of which is in a different continuity than any of the series)
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World (three series in continuity, plus a fourth that's an alternate version)
  • Digimon (6 series and 9 movies across five continuities, 6 manga series and at least 40 games)
  • Macross (now on its fourth TV series, with three OAV series, three moviesnote , and a number of other OVAs.
  • Kamen Rider (split between the Shotaro Ishinomori eranote  and the Post-Ishinomori era note )
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! (a long-running card game, five anime series, and countless video games, as well as several manga series, one of which being where the series started from.)
  • .hack (3 anime series, 7 games with a tie-in OAV each, plus manga and light novels) and growing! It now includes a movie (sadly non-canon) more manga and games, a few ova, a 4Koma series.
  • Pokémon: Six distinct series (original: 1997-2002; Advanced Generation: 2002-2006; Weekly Pokémon Broadcast's sidestory episodes (US: Pokémon Chronicles): 2002-2004; Diamond & Pearl: 2006-2010; Best Wishes: 2010-2013); XY (2013-present) and 17+ annual movies. The anime franchise is just about as big, if not bigger, than the actual video game franchise; see below.)
    • In the English dub, the main series anime gets divided up even more, in a setup like typical television seasons.
  • Yatterman (2 TV series (1977-1979 and 2008-2009), a 2-episode OVA, a 2009 live-action movie and a 2009 anime movie)
  • Mai Hime: Mai Hime, Mai-Otome, the Otome-verse spinoffs (Mai-Otome Zwei, Mai-Otome 0~S.ifr~), and Mai-HiME Destiny.
  • Toei produced all of the early Magical Girl shows, starting with Sally the Witch in 1966, meaning that "Magical Girl" was more of a Series Franchise than a genre. This lasted until Ashi Productions' Magical Princess Minky Momo hit the airwaves in 1982.

Examples of Video Game franchises:

Examples of literature franchises:

  • Most of Frank Herbert's books and short stories (especially his non-Dune works) share many common historical aspects, despite being set across vast expanses of spacetime.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space, which includes the Ringworld series of novels, the Man-Kzin Wars series, and even a Star Trek: The Animated Series episode (which is why TAS isn't in continuity with the live-action Star Trek series.)

Examples from Western Animation:

  • DC Animated Universe (DCAU for short) — a group of animated series based on DC comics characters, all in the same continuity.
  • Avatar — two animated series set in the same universe.

Examples of cross-media franchises:

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Five seasons on radio and one on television, five books (six if you count And Another Thing...), two short stories, a computer game, three theatrical performances (including one musical), two singles, a feature film, three comic books, two records, and two bath towels — all in their own continuities mutated off the first two radio series and last three books — the result is that, for all that mess, it covers somewhere around six installments of one story.
  • .hack is just plain ridiculous about this:
    • The first wave, Project .hack, originally consisted of the .hack//SIGN anime, the Infection, Mutation, Outbreak and Quarantine games (which were each bundled with an episode of the OVA series .hack//Liminality), and the .hack//Legend of the Twilight manga. Other canon included the .hack//AI Buster light novels. Then there were two manga adaptations of the games, XXXX and Another Birth (from BlackRose's point of view), neither of which are canon.
    • The second wave consisted mainly of the second anime, .hack//Roots, and the Dot Hack GU (Rebirth, Reminisce and Redemption). There was also a CGI movie adaptation, a manga adaptaion and a light novel adaptation of the games, all of which were done differently.
    • The third, and probably final, wave consists of the anime .hack//Quantum and .hack//LINK, which could refer to a manga or a PSP game that (as far as I can tell) follow the same story. There's also a movie in the works.
  • Lupin III was much more successful than initially expected, to the point that some of the titles have been retroactively renamed to differentiate between them. It began as a Manga, but is much better known as an anime, even in Japan. The Lupin-verse is held in place through a combination of Broad Strokes, Negative Continuity, and Mythology Gag.
  • My Friend Irma was once a very famous American franchise centered around a Dumb Blonde character named Irma Peterson (played by Marie Wilson.) Aside from the original radio series (which ran 1947 to 1953) it was also a television series (1952 to 1954), two feature films (My Friend Irma in 1949 and My Friend Irma Goes West in 1950) and a comic strip published by Marvel Comics writted and drawn by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo (1950 to 1955).