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—
! ...Thief.

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):
  1. First Installment
  2. Numbered Sequel
  3. Numbered sequel + subtitle (or 3D).
  4. Subtitle
  5. Recycled Title
  6. 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.
    • Related, often when a video game comes to a new console generation, it will drop the number to attract gamers who didn't play the series on the previous console generation.
  • 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.


    open/close all folders 

    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 

  • 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.
  • Uncle John's Bathroom Reader broke free of the "Uncle John's Nth Bathroom Reader" naming scheme after the 7th book, instead opting for subtle Toilet Humor ("Uncle John's All Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader"), Added Alliterative Appeal, or a pun.
  • Goosebumps had Night of the Living Dummy books 1-3, then Bride of the Living Dummy, Slappy's Nightmare, Revenge of the Living Dummy and Son of Slappy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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).

    Video Games 
  • The Castlevania series only had three numbered sequels to the original NES game ( Castlevania II: Simon's 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 fulfilled the trope (Marathon Infinity: Blood Tides of Lh'owon)
  • The Need for Speed series, leading to the pretty awkward numbering of the Hot Pursuit subseries (Need for Speed III: 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.:
    • The 2D series did this after Super Mario Bros. 3 (not counting the Japanese version of Super Mario World, which bore the subtitle of Super Mario Bros. 4). 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". Note that the original Super Mario Advance, a remake of Super Mario Bros. 2, was not named anything other than "Super Mario Advance".
  • 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). And the games had some internal number in their product IDs (The Legend of Zelda Oracle games were 7 and 8).
  • 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: Tiberian 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 third game in the series for home consoles following the NES versions of Contra and Super C, with the actual third game being Operation C for 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 at one point. Despite its portable origins on the PSP, the game was written and directed by series' creator Hideo Kojima (in contrast to the series' prior PSP release, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, which he only served as a producer) with many of the same staff members from Metal Gear Solid 4 also working on it. Kojima stressed out the importance of Peace Walker, going as far as to commission the HD Edition port for PS3 and Xbox 360. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which continues the events from Peace Walker, is numbered with a Roman numeral, in contrast to the Arabic numbers used by previous sequels.
  • 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 (the fifth game, which featured a bloodied "V" as part of its logo), Mortal Kombat Deception (sixth) and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (seventh). The Continuity Reboot is officially titled Mortal Kombat, which is considered by the developers to be "Mortal Kombat 9", since they consider the crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe to be the eighth entry in the series. The tenth installment will be titled Mortal Kombat X (as in the letter "X", not the roman numeral for ten).
  • 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), Black Ops, Modern Warfare 3, Black Ops 2, Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, and Black Ops 3.
  • 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: The Belkan War, and Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception 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 (released as Ace Combat Joint Asssault) 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 KOF Maximum Impact 2 (a 3D spinoff to the mainline KOF series) was released in the United States as The King of Fighters 2006.
  • The SimCity series for PC had a good streak of numerical titles: SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000, and SimCity 4. The fifth entry, released in 2013, was simply titled SimCity.
  • 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 and Wii U installments are numbered instead of having a subtitle or the platform's name on the title. 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) and Mario Kart 8 (Wii U).
    • The numbering does not count the arcade entries ( Arcade GP, Arcade GP 2 and Arcade GP Deluxe).
    • One has to be curious what title Nintendo will come up for the 64th entry (if the series ever ends up having that many games), considering there's already a Mario Kart 64.
  • The Assassin's Creed franchise has gotten a little silly with this over the years:
    • Initially there was a logic of each numbered entry featuring a new protagonist and Era, Assassin's Creed was followed by Assassin's Creed II, shifting from Middle East/The Crusades to Italy/The Renaissance and Altair to Ezio. Ezio Auditore proved to be a Breakout Character and spawned two sequels - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which was effectively Assassins Creed 2.1 and then ACII star Ezio Auditore's swansong Assassin's Creed: Revelations. This was followed by newcomer Connor Kenway's Assassin's Creed III which shifted to the Era of The American Revolution.
    • After this, Ubisoft changed their minds and gave a number and a subtitle for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, used to differentiate it as a Genre Shift pirate game. The protagonist was the grandfather of Connor Kenway and the setting is still North America, so it still made sense.
    • Then, as of 2014, the latest two games- Assassin's Creed: Rogue and the major new entry, Assassin's Creed: Unity- have seen Ubisoft just give up completely on the numbering system, with Rogue seen as a continuation of the North American/Kenway story but featuring a character, Shay Cormac, who is separate from the three Kenways, while the other game is set among a new cast in France during the Revolution and is a Next Gen overhaul moreover. Ubisoft has since stated that Unity is left unnumbered because it is a new beginning, and there are no plans to continue numbering Assassin's Creed titles. This is confirmed by the next entry in the series being called Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, moving the storyline to 19th century London with Jacob Frye as the protagonist.
  • Crash Bandicoot stopped numbering after the third game, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, which was incidentally the last platformer entry produced by the original team at Naughty Dog, although the Wrath of Cortex and Twinsanity were retitled Crash Bandicoot 4 and 5 respectively in Japan.
  • Spyro the Dragon
  • 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 since Vice City and San Andreas were actually prequels set before the events of Grand Theft Auto III during the '80s and '90s respectively - after two portable spinoffs that also served as prequels, the Roman numerals picked up right where they'd left off with Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, which were set in a separate continuity from III and its prequels.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: One supposes they thought it was getting ridiculous.
  • The Hitman series after Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
  • Thief (2014) was originally Thief 4, but since it was a reboot, the publisher dropped the 4. The series had already dropped the 3 from Deadly Shadows.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War was originally Deus Ex 2: Invisible War, but the 2 was dropped when development began on the Xbox version. Deus Ex: Human Revolution kept the non-numbered sequel thing going. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided continues the trend.
  • Halo kept numbering straight, with the exception of Halo: Reach, which was a prequel and they didn't want to call it Halo 0. Halo 5: Guardians was initially called just Halo for the new console (Xbox One), but Microsoft later gave it a proper 5.
  • Though Ruins Chaser was meant to be titled as Lufia III, the game that came out after it was cancelled was simply Lufia: The Legend Returns. Then again, Lufia II was a Prequel to the first game...
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda, as the developers have stated it is meant to be the start of a new adventure rather than a continuation of Commander Shepard's story. It didn't quite stop the fandom from referring to it as Mass Effect 4 until its title was announced.

  • 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 lines) and Vista, but then averted with Windows 7, Windows 8 (and 8.1), and Windows 10. (Windows 9 was an Un Installment.)
  • 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.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma radio hosts Brent Douglas and Phil Stone created the Roy D. Mercer character for the purpose of Prank Calls which they would play on-air. These skits became so popular that they started releasing them on Capitol Records in The '90s. The first seven compilations were simply titled after Roy's Catch Phrase: How Big a Boy Are Ya? Seven volumes of How Big a Boy Are Ya? were released before they broke away fom the volume numbers and gave each subsequent album its own title.