Star Trek Movie Curse

"Sure as day follows night, sure as eggs is eggs, sure as every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shit."
Tim Bisley, played by Simon Pegg, who starred in the eleventh Star Trek movie, and noted the irony.

As a series or franchise goes on and the number of sequels and side works/Spinoffs/etc. increases, it's all but certain that the audience will not find them to all be of uniform quality. However, there are a number of works that show this in one particular way: audiences will generally find that the quality bounces back and forth in a numerically ordered fashion. Typically, this will show up as either the even- or odd-numbered sequels being better than the opposite, although other variants exist.

The Trope Codifier is the Star Trek movies, which have had a long-standing reputation of "the even-numbered movies are a lot better than the odd-numbered ones".


Anime and Manga

  • Star Trek: In the 20th century, the page-naming Curse was fairly consistent (to the point where Insurrection's crew made a point of calling the film "Nine of Ten" on set to stave off the odd number's influence, not that it helped). But this century the Curse seems to have gone off the rails — 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis flopped while 2009's Star Trek was a hit, contrary to their positions in the series. It is unknown whether this anomaly means the Curse has actually been broken, or merely inverted.
    • Among those who do consider 10 bad and 11 good, there are several commonly proposed methods to realign the curse with "reality". One is using the sum of the digits as an indicator, or alternatively including the Affectionate Parody Galaxy Quest as a Star Trek movie, inserting it between 9 (Insurrection) and 10 (Nemesis), as put by Sam Hughes. Another theory states that Nemesis wasn't good because it was a multiple of five, and thus, like Star Trek V, was bad; in other words, the curse has a previously-undiscovered FizzBuzz property. This is followed by the explanation that Star Trek doesn't follow the pattern because of the interference of time-traveling Romulans — besides, it wasn't made by the same crew as the rest. Some have also taken to referring the reboot film as "Star Trek 0," thus placing it in an arguably even spot.
    • Michael Demtschyna, along with Chuck Sonnenburg of SF Debris, have suggested the alternate theory that the movie is bad when any of the main characters sing. These are The Final Frontier, Generations, Insurrection, and Nemesis (with Chuck snarking that Star Trek The Motion Picture doesn't contain singing only because it would distract from the boredom).
    • Some argue that the curse didn't start until Siskel & Ebert listed Star Trek V: The Final Frontier among the ten worst movies of 1989. Star Trek The Motion Picture was financially successful allowing for a sequel, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock accomplished its two primary purposes, resurrect Spock, so they could make more movies, and to establish Leonard Nimoy's credentials as a competent film director.
    • The pattern of the Star Trek films is referenced in El Goonish Shive, where Susan has shelved the odd and even numbered films separately in the rental store she works in.
    • The following film, Star Trek Into Darkness, muddies the waters even further; it was successful critically and financially, but created a Broken Base among fans.
  • The Indiana Jones franchise seems to be the opposite; odd-numbered movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) do well, while even-numbered movies (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) are nowhere near as good.
  • Many fans consider the A Nightmare on Elm Street series to follow the reverse of this, with the even number movies being inferior to the odds. Hilariously, it is still inverted to Star Trek with regard to reboot status, as the Nightmare reboot is considered poor by most fans, unlike the mostly acclaimed Star Trek 2009 reboot.

  • While fans of the Temeraire series of books don't necessarily find the even-numbered books to be bad, there is definitely a pattern of odd being "war and lots of cool dragon battles" and even being "travel and lots of talking". However, both the sixth and seventh books are travel and diplomacy, and the eighth is Napoleon's Russian campaign.

Live-Action TV
  • So far this seems to be the case with American Horror Story. Asylum and Freak Show (even-numbered) have been better-received than Murder House and Coven (odd-numbered). Something to note is that Asylum and Freak Show take place in the past (1964 and 1952 respectively, although Asylum did flash to the present occasionally), while the others are set in the present-day.
  • Supernatural has been following the trope to a tee. Although the show has had its bases regularly broken as early as the third season, it seems to be agreed upon most fans that the odd seasons are better. Season 1 is regarded as a decent start but suffers from a large amount of Monster of the Week episodes as the show was still finding its footing, while season 2 is noted as the show's real moment of Growing the Beard. Season 3 wound up being hit by production troubles thanks to the '07 Writers Strike and also introduced two new characters that took time away from Sam and Dean and were Base Breakers at best. Season 4 wound up introducing fan favorite Castiel and heavily increasing the mythology marking a notable increase in the show's ratings, while Season 5 is a downplayed case as it is overall liked, but fans do have some problems with it, particularly the finale, which has come off as an Anti-Climax to some. Season 6 marks a rare aversion of Only The Creator Does It Right as after a controversial beginning wound up having several fan-favorite episodes produced back to back with some major HSQ thrown in by the end. Season 7 then immediately threw that potential out the window in favor of a heavily disliked Random Events Plot. Season 8 attempted to fix 7's faults, and after a rough start managed to introduce a well received plotline of the brothers trying to close Hell, but 9 came in and introduced yet another Random Events Plot that wound up turning as many people back off, with Sam and Dean's constant fighting doing little to help as it's started to come off more as Wangst to many longtime viewers. Time will tell if season 10 follows this standards and is seen as an improvement.
  • Fans of 24 have noted that odd-numbered seasons are generally the show's better ones, featuring a variety of different terrorist scenarios, while the even-numbered ones always revolve around nuclear terrorism and are generally greatly inferior (except for possibly season 2, which is considered to have a solid core storyline, but let down by the subplot involving Kim constantly being taken prisoner).
  • Power Rangers fans have an unique version with anniversary seasons Turbo (Season 5), Wild Force (Season 10), Operation Overdrive (Season 15) and Super Megaforce (the 20th anniversary celebration but don't ask the exact season number) considered among the worst or most divisive.

  • The odd-numbered Ludwig van Beethoven symphonies are the classics (3, 5, 7, and 9. 1, not so much), whereas the evens (except for 6) don't get as much attention.

Video Games

Visual Novels
  • The Ace Attorney series has two different variants of this trope:
    • Firstly, the odd-numbered entries (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Trials & Tribulations and Dual Destinies) are generally considered to be the stronger ones, while the even-numbered ones (Justice for All and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney) are considered to be weaker. The two Ace Attorney Investigations games generally aren't counted towards this, as the second one has yet to be released outside Japan (and, in all likelihood, never will be). Though for those who do the first is usually considered to be on the "weaker" side and the second on the "stronger" side, which makes the order problematic.
    • Secondly, fans have noted that the third case in any given game usually tends to be the worst, mostly due to the overwhelmingly hated third cases in (ironically enough) the second and fourth games. Dual Destinies is the major exception, as most seem to regard the second case as the weakest; some fans also feel that the first game's first case is weaker than the third, for essentially being a glorified tutorial which doesn't even fully explain the game mechanics.
      • Since the release of the Investigation 2 Fan Translation,it seems to have completely inverted both cases,since fans trend to think that the game is much better than the first Ace Attorney Investigations,and the third case is actually considered the best by some fans.

  • Survivor: Fan Characters, especially later on, follows a trend opposite that of Star Trek: The odd-numbered seasons are quite popular while the even-numbered seasons get lukewarm receptions at best. The author himself has noticed, and hopes season 14 will break the pattern.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Microsoft Windows has had the curse since Windows 3.1, at least when it comes to their major public releases. Windows 98, Windows XP, and Windows 7 have all been popular, while Windows 95, Windows ME, Windows Vista, and Windows 8 all made rather controversial changes, were unstable, or had other problems which made it difficult to recommend upgrading. (Even the Un Favorite releases have their fans, of course.) Windows releases tend to follow a pattern of "revolutionary" - in which many changes are made at once - followed by "evolutionary", or mostly polishing what was in the last one. Thus, every other version has a lot of new bugs and new features, and takes some getting used to; by the time the next version comes out, these issues have mostly been resolved (by patches and service packs for the software, and by users getting used how it looks and works). Another way of looking at it is that Microsoft puts out a "public beta", followed a couple of years later by the final, mostly-working-as-advertised version, charging their customers for both (and for the privilege of testing their software for them).
    • Microsoft have announced that the follow-up to Windows 8 will be called Windows 10. Some detractors have suggested this means they're skipping the next good version and going straight to another broken mess.
  • The San Francisco Giants and "Even Year Magic." They won a World Series in 2010, finished 4 games back of a playoff spot in 2011, won a World Series in 2012, finished fourth in their division in 2013, and won a World Series in 2014.