Stopped Numbering Sequels
Oh look, they're going to spell it with a "4" instead of "E"
That's completely fucking bonkers, but let's just wait and see!
No wait, they've changed it back, so I guess that point is moot
Oh no wait, they're taking off the 4 to call it a
A practice that in recent years I have come to abhor
But I'm willing to ignore, 'cause they're making a—
A common subversion to Numbered Sequels
. As the number of installments of a series goes up, the less likely it has a number behind.
Usually the series and sequel titling go in the following order (although only some series go through all five steps):
- First Installment
- Numbered Sequel
- Numbered sequel + subtitle (or 3D).
- Recycled Title
- At this point, anything can happen, including the subtitle becoming the main title.
There are several reasons for this:
- Creators might be embarrassed that they have made so many sequels.
- The plotline of the story is nonlinear and there are lots of prequels and midquels.
- Especially among video games, the franchise may have Gaiden Game subseries. However, then it can easily be Double Subverted, depending on situation.
- The studio might feel that a sequel numbered too high might be avoided by audiences that could perceive a Continuity Lockout.
- Four Is Death in Asian markets, which explains why games originating from there tend to stop numbering after 3.
- To avoid bringing up previous numbered installments that most people don't want to acknowledge, perhaps even one where you don't want to ignore every detail.
- Finally, it's difficult to stop doing once you've started; after an installment or two without numbers, people will have completely lost track (which Mortal Kombat game are we on again? Exactly. Oh, the answer is below.).
See also Oddly Named Sequel
, Word Sequel
, and Numbered Sequels
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Anime and Manga
Films — Animated
- The Land Before Time gave up on numbering after a while... as in, somewhere near the end of the twelve sequels.
- Starting with the eighth film, "The Big Freeze" the roman numeral was nowhere to be found on the FRONT of the cover, instead, you will find "Volume VIII" on the SPINE of the VHS cover. However, with the thirteenth film, "The Wisdom of Friends" the roman numeral doesn't even appear in the film at all. The opening titles just say "The Land Before Time" shortly followed by "The Wisdom of Friends".
- The Shrek series starts normally, then makes a play on words with "Shrek the Third", and the fourth film has several alternate titles, including "Shrek Goes Fourth", "Shrek: The Final Chapter", and "Shrek Forever After." A fifth film was planned but never made; rumor has it the working title was "Shrek Pleads the Fifth".
Films — Live-Action
- Friday the 13th dropped its numbering after the eighth part when the series was moved to New Line Cinema mostly due to it being an artifact of Paramount still owning the Friday the 13th name, while New Line owning character, concept and everything else.
- Though usually listed with numbers on video boxes, posters and such, the fourth and fifth Friday the 13th movies already didn't technically have numbers in their titles (none were shown in the onscreen title cards).
- The Halloween series goes all over the place with its sequel titles.
- Jaws series dropped the numbering on the fourth installment.
- Police Academy series. The seventh installment officially doesn't have number as a title.
- Rocky series. Justified because there was over 15 year hiatus between Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. Plus a lot of stuff in Rocky V did not happen.
- The Rambo series which has oddest title-evolution of them all, going from First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II to Rambo III to the 2008 sequel, (John) Rambo. Discussed in a Rambo NES review by The Angry Video Game Nerd.
"I was making fun of Rocky 6
being called Rocky Balboa
, so I made a sarcastic comment: 'What are they gonna do, call it John Rambo
?' And that's what they did!
And I feel bad, like I picked on a retard or something: 'Hey, whaddya, RETARDED?! ..oh. I'm sorry."
- The Star Trek movie series dropped its numbers with 1994's Star Trek: Generations, as it was felt that with the The Next Generation cast taking over the franchise, it was best to make a fresh start for marketing purposes. However, the Blu-Ray Discs of these movies have numbers VII-X on their cases.
- The 2009 movie (a continuity reboot) is simply called Star Trek with no numbers (although some refer to it as Star Trek XI) or subtitles.
- The fourth Karate Kid film was called The Next Karate Kid, which makes sense since it has nothing to do with Daniel this time.
- The fifth one is a remake of the first (while incorporating elements of the sequel) simply called The Karate Kid, even though the martial art focused on the film is Kung-Fu, not Karate (they try to justify the title in the movie). The film is called The Kung-Fu Kid in some countries.
- The Highlander film series dropped the numerals with its fourth film.
- Hellraiser dropped the numbering after Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth.
- Children of the Corn managed to keep its numbering to the sixth installment.
- Unless you go by the onscreen title cards, in which case the fourth film had already forgone a number - a "IV" was just put on the video box.
- The Fast and the Furious: The sequel was called Two Fast Two Furious, the third film had a subtitle (The Fast And The Furious Tokyo Drift) and the fourth film is called Fast And Furious (although there is a small "IV" on the side of the DVD box, underneath the title; some countries still called it Fast and Furious 4). The fifth film is called Fast Five. Guess they took anger management.
- And in Britain Fast Five was renamed Fast & Furious 5, presumably because the marketers were concerned that people would see the pictures of Vin Diesel in a big car and not be able to work out which series the movie was part of.
- Final Destination went for the Recycled Title on its fourth installment.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street series stopped its numbering on the sixth film Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
- The Howling stopped numbering on its seventh (and ultimately final) installment.
- Every Terminator sequel from Terminator Salvation (the fourth one) and onward will be subtitle only.
- The Exorcist's dropped its numbering for the prequel, which morphed into two separate films.
- The Amityville Horror series stopped its numbering when it went to straight-to-video hell.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series stopped its numbering after the third film, which is fitting because not many wants to remember the fourth film.
- Alien is weird about this. The second movie didn't use a number (Aliens), the third did (Alienł), but then the fourth didn't (Alien: Resurrection).
- Predator stopped numbering at the 2010 film Predators.
- When counting the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator Cross Over films as part of a singular franchise, the idiosyncrasy becomes maddening: Alien is singular for the first, third, fourth and "seventh" installments, plural in the second and "eighth", and numbered for 3 only (where it is the fifth film); Predator is always singular except for the "ninth" installment, and only numbered for 2 (the fourth film overall). The quantum continuity status that Prometheus presently holds is the only thing keeping a fan's skull from imploding at this point.
- Jurassic Park dropped numbering on the second film and returned it for the third film.
- Bloodsport series dropped the numbering from the fourth film.
- Die Hard series went for the Oddly Named Sequel on its subsequent installments. In the case of Live Free or Die Hard (the fourth movie), Europe renamed it to Die Hard 4.0, though France chose a new title altogether.
- Leprechaun series dropped numbering when the fourth film recycled the whole thing IN SPACE!
- Saw can be criticised for many things, but it was doing so well with its numbering. Sequels had Roman numerals... until its send-off, Saw 3D.
- They did sort of save face on home video though by calling it The Final Chapter instead which is less confusing.
- While the Harry Potter films never had numbered titles, the DVD spines were labeled "Year 1", "Year 2", Year 3", etc. (This is taken from the U.S. editions of the Harry Potter books, which labeled the book spines the same way.) When Deathly Hallows, Part 1 hit DVD, it was labeled "Year 7: Part 1" on the spine. For some reason, this is where they stopped and the Hallows, Part 2 DVD has a blank space where it should logically say "Year 7: Part 2".
- The Marine was followed by The Marine 2, but the third film will be The Marine: Homefront. Note that each film has a different main character and lead actor, so dropping the numbering makes some sense.
- Mission: Impossible had two numbered sequels, and then a subtitle in the fourth (Ghost Protocol).
- Universal Soldier tried its luck with two numbered and subtitled direct to video sequels first, them dropped the numbering but not the subtitles for a new shot at a theatrical part two. The next installment rebooted the series again as a new part two, but kept the same naming convention, as did the part following that one. The full lineup is now: Universal Soldier, Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms, Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business, Universal Soldier: The Return, Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (also known as Universal Soldier: A New Dimension).
- Many novel series start of with subtitles like, "The Second Novel of X Series" before switching to "A Novel of X Series". Sometimes there's a reason for this: The second novel gets labeled as such so it's easier to identify the sequel when it first comes out, while subsequent books are not necessarily set in stone in terms of numbering or continuity.
- Melisa Michaels' Skyrider series was originally intended to be a trilogy, and the first book was initially published as Skyrider 1: Skirmish. None of the other books in the series ever had a number, and reprintings of Skirmish omitted the "Skyrider 1" part as well.
- Paranoia started with (in order) 1st edition, 2nd edition, 5th edition (later declared an "unproduct"), and 3rd edition (unpublished). Then it was revived with XP (formally dropped after Microsoft complained, so this version was just called "Paranoia") and 25th Anniversary Edition (a reprint of XP with some additional material).
- They developed the Nth edition formula for the bi-yearly "Core" sets for Magic: The Gathering, up until 10th Edition. Then, they switched to numbering them by the year they come out (and do them yearly).
- The Castlevania series only had three numbered sequels to the original NES game (Castlevania II Simons Quest, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, and Super Castlevania IV) and one for the Game Boy game Castlevania The Adventure (Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge). The series stopped using numerals once sequels were being released for other companies' platforms.
- The numbering stopped earlier in Japan, where Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin (Simon's Quest) for the Disk System and Dracula Densetsu II (Belmont's Revenge) for the Game Boy were the only numbered sequels. The Japanese version of Dracula's Curse was titled Akumajō Densetsu (although the ending credits refers to the developers as the "Dracula III Staff"), while Super was simply titled Akumajo Dracula (justified, since it was a retelling of Simon's first adventure and not a continuation of the earlier Famicom games).
- The Marathon series' second game had both a number and a subtitle (Marathon 2: Durandal), then the third fulfiled the trope (Marathon Infinity: Blood Tides of Lh'owon)
- Need for Speed series, leading to the pretty akward numbering of the Hot Pursuit subseries (Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit -> Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 -> Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit)
- Sonic the Hedgehog series. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is named as such simply for in-universe chronology reasons and because its in the style of the original numbered games.
- Super Mario Bros. series after Super Mario Bros. 3 (not counting the Japanese version of Super Mario World, which bore the subtitle of Super Mario Bros. 4)
- However, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the first numbered sequel on consoles since the leap to 3D. The general idea seems to be that each console has its own series of Mario games, and the N64 and Gamecube only had one game each.
- Hilarity ensues when you look at the remakes that were released on the Gameboy Advance. Each remake is chronologically numbered, but the games weren't remade in any real order... so you get names like "Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World" and "Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3". (At least they avoided Colon Cancer with "Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island" since the original full name of Yoshi's Island was "Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island".)
- To make it even more confusing, the original Super Mario Advance, a remake of Super Mario Bros. 2, was not named anything other than "Super Mario Advance". The next two were then named "Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2" and "Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3", but then they flipped the title for the fourth (and final) installment, "Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3".
- Red Faction series after II.
- The Legend of Zelda is an odd example, the sequel was simply titled Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the rest of the series just used subtitles, making the second game a black sheep in naming (though The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is often known as "Zelda III", especially in Europe).
- The Star Wars: Dark Forces Saga, see Colon Cancer for what it would look like.
- Tomb Raider series, starting with the fourth game, The Last Revelation. While later games are not numbered, fans still refer to them by number in casual conversation, and the desktop icons for The Last Revelation and Chronicles stated that they were Tomb Raider IV and Tomb Raider V, respectively; Capcom actually used the numbers when it published those two games in Japan.
- Interestingly, that was inverted with Command & Conquer's Tiberium series by the third game, as otherwise Tiberian Sun would've been named as Command & Conquer 2.
- Subverted with the Contra series. The first sequel was Super Contra, otherwise known as Super C on the NES. Contra III: The Alien Wars for the SNES was actually the fourth game in the series, the actual third game being Operation C, a side title released for the Game Boy. There were further Contra sequels afterward, but none of them were numbered except for Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS, which was titled as such because it was set between Contra III and Contra Hard Corps (it was really the eleventh game in the series, excluding ports).
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was originally going to be titled Metal Gear Solid 5, being the fifth MGS game directed by Hideo Kojima, but Kojima dropped the numbering due to the fact that it was a portable game rather than a console release like previous numbered entries. However, Kojima considers Peace Walker to be an important entry in the series (more so than the previous PSP game in the series, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, which he did not direct) and even went as far as to carry over elements from that game into Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
- Repton. The first three games had no particular setting, so the next three dropped the numbering in favour of titles that advertised the fact that Repton was now going around the world and through time. Next comes Repton Infinity, which includes a subgame called Repton 4, but there's also the entirely separate Ego: Repton 4 —. To add to the confusion, the PC remakes don't include Repton Infinity (and so don't include either Repton 4). The result is that no-one can agree on what number comes next, so all subsequent games have been unnumbered.
- The Mortal Kombat sequels went from Mortal Kombat II to Mortal Kombat 4 and after that (when the series no longer had arcade releases) we got Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (fifth), Mortal Kombat Deception (sixth) and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (seventh). The Continuity Reboot is officially titled Mortal Kombat, but everyone, including the game's own developers, are simply calling it "Mortal Kombat 9" (yes, they are counting Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe as the eighth Mortal Kombat game, go figure). Its sequel returned to numbered titles with the name Mortal Kombat Xnote . It should also be noted that Deadly Alliance did feature a bloodied "V" as part of its logo.
- Call of Duty 2, 3, 4: Modern Warfare, then Call of Duty: World at War, Modern Warfare 2 (which actually dropped the Call of Duty name in some places), Call of Duty: Black Ops, Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and Call of Duty: Ghosts.
- Advance Wars dropped the numbers for the third and fourth games on the DS.
- Guitar Hero has gone back and forth, as the sequels are II, III: Legends of Rock, World Tour, 5, and Warriors of Rock.
- The second main game (the third overall) in the Kingdom Hearts series was called Kingdom Hearts II, and all subsequent games used subtitles, even the "Episode 0" game, Birth by Sleep. Nomura is unclear if there will be a "Kingdom Hearts III". Oddly enough, two games possess a "3" in the title, despite not being main games or the intended KHIII: the interquel 358/2 Days and 3D for the Nintendo 3DS, which picks off where II (and Re:coded) ended.
- The Ace Combat series (produced in Japan, mind you) fought a long and hard battle against sequel numbering starting with the fourth. Its first sequel was simply Ace Combat 2; the second added a subtitle to Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere. When making the fourth title became inevitable, they padded it with a zero to make sure it doesn't blow up: Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. It didn't. So they made Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War—and stumbled again. In the following three years, Ace Combat Advance, Ace Combat Zero, and Ace Combat X were released. The final swan song for Numbered Sequels was Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. After that, Namco couldn't take it anymore: an Ace Combat Xi and an Ace Combat X2 later, they have finally announced a full-blown Continuity Reboot with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- Inverted with The King of Fighters (somewhat). From 1994 to 2003, the series numbered its installments with the year of its release. Starting with XI, SNK chose to go with the installment number instead of the year (probably because XI took more than a year to release due to SNK spending some time messing around with new hardware). Gets confusing because the second Maximum Impact game (which is an Alternate Continuity Spin-Off series) was released in the United States as The King of Fighters 2006.
- The PC games of the SimCity series had a good streak of numerical titles. SimCity,SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000, and SimCity 4. The next game of the series is titled: SimCity Societies.
- This may have been intentional because the gameplay of SimCity Societies is significantly different from its predecessors.
- Played straight with the 2013 release of Sim City which is a Recycled Title.
- Hudson Soft's Power League baseball game series for the PC Engine dropped the Roman numerals for its sixth installment, which was titled Power League '93.
- Atari Games' RBI Baseball series stopped using numbered sequels the same year, jumping from RBI Baseball 4 to RBI Baseball '93.
- Prince of Persia after Prince of Persia 3D. Since then we've had a new trilogy, a Recycled Title, and then a Trilogy Creep to the aforementioned trilogy.
- Inverted with Puyo Puyo. The early sequels used Japanese pun-based titles to indicated their placement in the series such as Puyo Puyo Tsu (2), Puyo Puyo Sun (3), and Puyo Puyo-n (4). Afterward, we had Puyo Puyo Fever, Puyo Puyo Fever 2, and Puyo Puyo 7.
- Inverted by the Mario Kart series, where at the end of a long series the 3DS game is numbered instead of getting a subtitle. So it goes Super Mario Kart (SNES), Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA), Mario Kart: Double Dash (GC), Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7 (3DS) andMario Kart 8 (Wii U).
- The numbering does not count the arcade entries ( Arcade GP, Arcade GP 2 and Arcade GP Deluxe).
- This makes us wonder what title Nintendo will come up for the 64th entry (if the series ever survive that long), considering we already got a Mario Kart 64.
- Assassin's Creed II was follwed by Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations because numbered sequels are reserved for new ancestors in new eras. Assassin's Creed followed Altair; 2, Brotherhood and Revelations followed Ezio. Assassins Creed 3 features a new main character, Connor Kenway.
- Crash Bandicoot stopped numbering after the third game, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped.
- Spyro the Dragon stopped numbering after the second game, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage.
- Done again with the GBA Spyro games. After the second, Spyro 2: Season of Flame, they stopped being numbered.
- BioShock, BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite. Though in this case it's more to separate Infinite from the Rapture storyline.
- Only Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is numbered in the Monkey Island series. The others are just called The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island and Tales of Monkey Island. Justified as Fanon Discontinuity by many, since creator Ron Gilbert planned a trilogy but left LucasArts after the second. The third game had to retcon some things in order to tie in the plot.
- Ron Gilbert remains interested in some day releasing "the real Monkey Island 3" (his words). If it is ever made, it is unknown how it will fit into the chronology.
- Syphon Filter after the PS1 trilogy.
- Soldier of Fortune: Payback was produced by a budget-title/shovelware developer, and its plot is completely unrelated to the first two (numbered) games.
- The Pop N Music series averted this up through pop'n music 20: Fantasia, but the 21st game in the series has been announced and has no number in the title, opting for only a subtitle instead.
- Alone in the Dark used numbers for the original trilogy of DOS games and some of their ports, but not the later Multi-Platform games.
- The third installment of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy drops the numbering that Final Fantasy XIII-2 had.
- In the U.S. and Europe, Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter became simply Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and fittingly so, as it marks a major divergence from the first four Breath of Fire games.
- Metroid was followed by only one numbered sequel, Metroid II: Return of Samus, but the two others that followed it had "Metroid 3" (Super Metroid) and "Metroid 4" (Metroid Fusion) on the opening screen. Given the series' Anachronic Order, then it went all over the place. The Metroid Prime subseries also had two numbered sequels, along with one that didn't as it was an Interquel (Hunters), plus a pinball remake.
- Donkey Kong Country stopped after the SNES trilogy. The follow-ups were Donkey Kong 64 (last one by Rare) and Donkey Kong Country Returns (first to use the "Country" subtitle again).
- Densetsu no Stafy had numbered sequels for the first four installments, but for the fifth went for a subtitle ("Densetsu no Stafy Taiketsu! Daīru Kaizokudan", meaning "The Legendary Starfy Confrontation! Dairu Pirate Squad").
- The third game in the Dragon Age franchise was originally marketed as "Dragon Age III: Inquisition", but they've since taken out the III.
- The Silent Hill series tacked on a subtitle for the fourth game, and dropped the numbers afterward.
- Grand Theft Auto took the odd approach of, after three numbered games, naming the next two after their locations rather than more numbers, despite them being full-length games with ever-larger game worlds and upgraded mechanics. The idea may be that they are not numbered sequels because they're part of the same continuity as Grand Theft Auto III - after another two games also set in that continuity, the Roman numerals picked up right where they'd left off with Grand Theft Auto IV, which is set in its own distinct continuity from GTA3 and its sequels.
- This logic is kind of broken now that we have Grand Theft Auto V, which is set in the same universe as IV.
- King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: One supposes they thought it was getting ridiculous.
- The Hitman series after Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
- Windows. Stopped using version numbers after 3.1 on the DOS-based versions and 4.0 on the NT versions, opting for sequel numbers based on the year of release. Then came XP which combined the DOS and NT linesnote , and then Vistanote , but then averted with Windows 7, Windows 8 and now Windows 8.1. Which, as it turns out, are actually 6.1 and 6.2 respectively if you look up the System Info.
- Similarly, Apple stopped marketing new versions of Mac OS under their version numbers after 10.1 because they decided the internal codenames, named for species of big cats, were more interesting. And then they ran out of big cats (not really, but that was their excuse) and switched to cities in California.
- The really weird part was that most of them are alternate names for the same cat.
- Computer chip maker Intel made personal computer CPU chips named 8086, 80186, 80286, 80386, 80486...and then went with "Pentium" because rival chipmaker AMD was using the same numeric designation for their chips, and Intel was informed that they couldn't trademark a number. Since then, they've branched out into different "lines", which often ended up with numbers attached — Pentium III, Core 2, etc.
- Normally, at the start of an episode of Jeopardy!, announcer Johnny Gilbert will state how many days the returning champion has been reigning ("…whose x day cash winnings total y dollars…"). When Ken Jennings went on his hot streak, they eventually stopped declaring how many days he'd been champion (he made it to 74 before losing his 75th game). The practice resumed once Jennings was defeated.