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"More often than not, movie franchises end on a low note. Sometimes one truly awful entry in a series can kill an audience's appetite for any additional follow-ups. Other times, a series will follow a long, slow decline that ends in apathy. But every now and then, you come across a franchise killer that is actually worth watching."

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    Animation — Disney 
  • The Black Cauldron almost became the franchise killer of the entire Disney Animated Canon. The film wasn't well received and was a massive box office flop. The film cost the studio so much money they could only barely manage to get back up. Understandably, it took Cauldron until 1998 to get released on home video, despite there being talks about a home video release as early as 1989. No further movies based on The Chronicles of Prydain have been made since either. However, there was once a show at Tokyo Disneyland called "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" that focused on the Disney villains and included the Horned King. The show lasted long after Disney had given up on the franchise, running for over twenty years after the film was released.
  • Diminishing home market sales and surprisingly disappointing merchandise sales (compared to the popularity of its sister Disney Princess franchise and later Frozen) were the reasons given by execs to discontinue DisneyToon Studios' direct-to-video Disney Fairies franchise, with the 2015 film Legend of the NeverBeast marking the end of that series. DisneyToon Studios themselves was shut down not too long afterwards.
  • The failure of DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp killed off any chance of a sequel, and also prevented the making of movies based on other Disney Afternoon series such as Darkwing Duck and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. However, the latter franchise would receive its own live-action film 32 years later.
  • To a lesser extent, Home on the Range killed Disney's traditional animation department and made them move into CGI starting with Chicken Little. An attempt to move back into traditional animation in the late 2000s/early 2010s with The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh was unsuccessful as the two films were written off by the company as financial disappointments, and led to ten members of the staff in the traditional animation department being handed their walking papers.note  Years later, Disney would ultimately bring back 2D animation in the 2D segments of Disenchanted (2022).
  • Originally, there was actually going to be a third Disney animated film based on The Jungle Book where Baloo and Shere Khan are both captured and sold off of a circus, and as a result, Mowgli, Shanti, and Bagheera all had to save them both. And over the course of the film, Shere Khan (who went into Knight of Cerebus mode in the second) would have regretted his hatred against humanity because of his capture and would have eventually reformed over the course of the film. However, due to the commercial and critical failure of The Jungle Book 2, this film was ultimately scrapped, and Khan's fate at the end of the sequel remained ambiguous. By contrast, a live-action/CGI version of the original film was released in 2016 to highly positive reviews and incredible box-office success.
  • There was originally going to be a third film in The Rescuers movie series. However, due to The Rescuers Down Under's financial failure (it's the only animated Disney movie released during The Renaissance Age of Animation for the studio to ever suffer this fate), combined with the death of actress Eva Gabor (Miss Bianca), the idea for a third Rescuers movie was scrapped.
    • The box office failure of The Rescuers Down Under is also largely responsible for dissuading Walt Disney Animation Studios from making sequels to films within the Disney Animated Canon for nearly three decades; subsequent followups to existing works were instead handled by the former DisneyToon Studios department, the majority of which were relegated strictly as direct-to-video fare. Following Down Under's release in 1990, it would take until 2011 until the Disney Animated Canon received a new sequel in Winnie the Pooh, followed by Ralph Breaks the Internet in 2018 and Frozen II in 2019.
    • The poor reception of The Rescuers Down Under also discouraged Disney from making any Animated Classics without musical numbers until Dinosaur in 2000, followed by Atlantis: The Lost Empire in 2001.
  • The box office failure that was the Teacher's Pet movie made it clear that Disney would never make another theatrical film based on one of their animated TV shows and haven't made any more since then. A planned live-action/animated Phineas and Ferb languished in Development Hell before being Retooled for Disney+ and Alex Hirsch shot down a proposed Gravity Falls TV movie unless it was going into theaters.

    Animation — Other 

    Comedy franchises 
  • Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II were the second and third highest-grossing films of 1984 and 1987 respectively. Beverly Hills Cop III wasn't released until 1994, when it was treated as a desperate attempt to revive Eddie Murphy's floundering career (Murphy would later disown BHCIII while appearing on Inside the Actors Studio). As it turns out, BHCIII ended up number 34 on the list of 1994's top-grossing films, barely beating Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground and earning $2M less than Jean-Claude Van Damme's Timecop, leaving the franchise dead in the water. (Eddie Murphy admitted that the scripts that he was offered for a potential Beverly Hills Cop IV never really felt right.) A pilot TV series for CBS centered on Axel Foley's son was created, but CBS dropped it. Likewise, the interest surrounding the pilot was able to get a fourth film (once again) greenlit with Murphy reprising his iconic role, though the film appears to have stalled out in Development Hell since 2016.
  • The Carry On franchise was killed by the triple whammy of Carry On England, That's Carry On! and Carry On Emmannuelle. An attempted reboot was made in 1992 that also sunk the franchise even further.
  • The first two "Crocodile" Dundee films were tremendous hits, each grossing over $100 million at the North American box office alone. However, series star Paul Hogan and company took thirteen long years before making a third Croc picture, which ultimately underperformed at the box office (opening at #4 and grossing roughly $25 million domestically). Besides the long gap in-between the previous film, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles seemed less serious than the previous two films (coming off as more of a broad family comedy) with a plot that felt left over from Beverly Hills Cop.
  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series from 20th Century Fox started off with the first film getting mixed reviews but performing well at the box office. The second film, based on the second book in the series, Rodrick Rules, received less favorable reviews and underperformed its predecessor. After that film failed to meet Fox's expectations, it was decided that the third film combine plot elements of the next two books, The Last Straw and Dog Days, receiving the latter title in post-production. Despite minor improvements from the previous film and better box office gross than the previous installments, fans and critics were still unimpressed, and Dog Days didn't do well enough to keep Fox from scrapping a fourth film, a fact Zachary Gordon (who played series protagonist Greg Heffley in the original trilogy) later announced. Of course, the fact the child cast was growing up so fast meant Dog Days would need to be the last with those actors, as the characters are Not Allowed to Grow Up (to the point Fox rushed the film into production). Series author Jeff Kinney tried to pitch the sixth book, Cabin Fever, as an animated television special instead of a movie, but it was scrapped and Fox instead went ahead and started production on an adaptation of the ninth book, The Long Haul, which despite not being a reboot had the entire cast replaced. The Long Haul received worse reviews and made less money than the previous films, resulting in future movies getting shelved. The books, on the other hand, are still going strong to this day.
    • Following the mass purge of unproduced Fox films due to poor box office numbers of Dark Phoenix, Disney (who currently owns Fox) announced that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise would get yet another reboot, in the form of an animated movie for Disney+.
  • Dorm Daze was released in a limited amount of theaters and did O.K. enough to get a Direct-to-DVD sequel in 2006. Then, for some reason, Dorm Daze 3 or Transylmania was actually released nationwide in 2009 and only grossed $397,000 dollars on a $10 million dollar budget and a $15 million dollar marketing budget. Another movie in the franchise hasn't been produced since.
  • After Home Alone 3 flopped at the box office, FOX didn't release another Home Alone movie in theaters again, two subsequent movies were Direct-to-TV releases, and a third (called Home Sweet Home Alone) made after Disney's buyout of Fox was released on Disney+.
  • The Pink Panther film franchise was both rebooted twice, then killed three times:
    • Peter Sellers had written a script for a Grand Finale movie titled Romance of the Pink Panther and submitted it to United Artists just before suddenly suffering a fatal heart attack. The project was ultimately canceled and producer Blake Edwards (who was supposed to have no involvement with Romance) decided to continue the series, writing out Inspector Clouseau and replacing him with American detective Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass' only starring film role) and taking deleted scenes from the fifth film to make two additional films that were shot simultaneously: Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther. The poor taste and box office failure of these films resulted in Sellers' widow successfully suing Edwards and the studio for defamation, and Wass' request for additional films was rejected and the series was put in a coma.
    • An attempted reboot of the original franchise, Son of the Pink Panther, replaced Sleigh with Clouseau's illegitimate son (played by then up-and-coming actor Roberto Benigni), and underwent a rather messy production. It ended up sealing the franchise's fate for good, having become an enormous critical and commercial flop and nearly derailing Benigni's then-fledgling career until Life Is Beautiful saved it. A sequel was immediately canceled soon after. It also had the misfortune of being Edwards' last film he produced (he ended up retiring from film after Son's massive failure became too much for him) as it was for, in another sense, composer Henry Mancini (who died before another film could be released).
    • In 2006, the original story was given a major, modernized retooling in the form of a Continuity Reboot, with Steve Martin filling in for Sellers for his Clouseau character and the film dismissing the events of Trail of..., Curse of... and Son of.... The film was ravaged by critics, but performed well at the box office to become a Cult Classic, prompting the studio to order up a sequel for release in 2009. That sequel underperformed the first film and was ravaged even further by critics, thus putting plans for a third, trilogy-making film to a screeching halt; compounded by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filing for bankruptcy the following year. Even though MGM has since emerged from bankruptcy primarily as a production company, plans for a third Martin Pink Panther all but dissipated, and eventually another reboot of the series was announced in 2020 in the form of a hybrid live-action/CGI film, to be helmed by Jeff Fowler.
  • The Police Academy franchise managed to defy scathing critical reviews with commercial success until Police Academy 6: City Under Siege—the first film in the series to not claim the top spot in its opening weekend and underperform at the box office. Considering that up to that point, Warner Bros. had churned out a Police Academy film for six consecutive years, it's not too surprising franchise fatigue had finally kicked in. It took Warner Bros. five years until they tried again with Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow, a revival attempt with barely any of the original cast from the previous films. Released just before Labor Day weekend in 1994 in a very limited theatrical run, it managed a staggering gross of barely over $100,000. While the series had been slowly withering since Steve Guttenberg left after the fourth film, this was not even a tenth of what City Under Seige had managed to pull in. By then, film critics who used to curse the films' success had completely forgotten it even existed. A relaunch has since then languished in Development Hell.
  • Vegas Vacation was so out of touch with the previous films that it wasn't just this to the National Lampoon's Vacation series, but presumably to the remnants of the original National Lampoon magazine as well. The decline was largely due to the sharp drop in financial profits for the magazine in the late 1980s, causing the magazine to be published less frequently by 1986; the failure of Vegas Vacation appears to have been the breaking point for the once-beloved humor magazine.
    • As for the movie series, it only gained one miserable made-for-TV sequel in 2003, focusing on Cousin Eddie. It was then revived 12 years later as a partial reboot - which while slightly profitable, was so badly received there's no hope for further movies (at most, an HBO Max series is under consideration).

    Drama franchises 
  • The four-hour epic movie Gettysburg, based on a novel by Michael Shaara, had its franchise killed by the theatrical release of the sequel/prequel Gods and Generals, based on the novel written by Michael's son Jeff Shaara, which had promised a third entry, The Last Full Measure, also based on the Jeff Shaara book. Some blamed the large-scale cutting of filmed scenes from the theatrical version as the result of post-production discussions between Ted Turner, Maxwell, and Warner Bros. Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, both Gods and Generals and Gettysburg were released on Blu-ray with new scenes added. Gods and Generals got just about everything that was originally taken out of it put back in.
  • While the first two films in The Godfather franchises are regarded as classics, The Godfather: Part III is considered much less so. That, and director Francis Ford Coppola's declining health, effectively killed discussions about a fourth film. Mario Puzo dying prevented the rumours from coming back.

    Fantasy/Sci-fi franchises 
  • Alien:
    • Alien: Resurrection differed so much from the tone of its predecessors and eliminated so much of the series' mythology (including the USCM and Weyland-Yutani) that it managed to kill a franchise that even Alien³ couldn't put down. An officially licensed novel/Fix Fic, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, came out nearly two decades later and attempted to retcon some of the material in the film (via resurrecting Weyland-Yutani as the Big Bad and reversing the damage caused to Earth).
    • The studio then refocused its efforts on spinning off the popular crossover series Alien vs. Predator into film territory; the first film of the same name was successful, only for the sequel Requiem to quash that branch rather quickly.
    • Then Ridley Scott returned to the series to helm an Alien prequel in the form of Prometheus. Prometheus did well enough for Scott to announce it as the first of a prequel trilogy; even if follow-up Alien: Covenant underperformed at the box office and Fox was purchased by Disney, the third one is still planned.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia ended with the third installment, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which got mixed reception from critics and the audience and was a box office disappointment, though many people would say it's the second installment, Prince Caspian, which killed the franchise. Though it was warmly received by critics, the film actually made even less money than Voyage and wasn't able to gross twice its budget, a surefire way for a film to be considered a bomb.
  • Conan the Destroyer was critically panned and didn't perform well at the box office, dropping many things of what made the original what it was, plus its Lighter and Softer tone turning away fans of the first movie while failing to attract younger audiences. Its flop put a possible third Conan movie into Development Hell, and the Red Sonja movie, where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an obvious Captain Ersatz of Conan, discredited the whole idea of adapting Howard's works for more than 20 years (the only attempt, Kull the Conqueror, was a flop).
  • The critical and box-office failure of The Divergent Series: Allegiant caused Lionsgate to punt the fourth and final movie, Ascendant (which would have been based on the second half of Allegiant, the third Divergent novel) over to its TV division to turn into a Made-for-TV Movie followed by a spinoff TV series, without the original cast. Said fourth film has since fallen deep into Development Hell, with Lionsgate confirming that it is no longer in active development, leaving the films Cut Short on a cliffhanger. A long way to fall for a film franchise that was once seen as The Rival to The Hunger Games...
  • The Godzilla films made during the Turn of the Millennium had tepid box office performances, so Toho decided to make Godzilla: Final Wars as a Grand Finale to the Millennium series while they put the franchise on temporary hiatus. Of course, even if they hadn't planned to shelf the King of the Monsters for the time being, they probably would've done so anyway after Final Wars ended up being the lowest-grossing of all the Millennium films. Toho eventually gave American company Legendary Pictures the rights for a 2014 reboot. Surprisingly, the reboot was a critical and financial success, which convinced Toho that the time had come for Godzilla's hibernation to end and released Shin Godzilla in July 2016. Before this, Terror of Mechagodzilla back in 1975 had box office returns so low it killed the series until nearly a decade later.
  • Gamera:
    • The final film in the Showa Era of the Gamera series, Gamera: Super Monster is widely considered one of the worst of the franchise, having some truly terrible acting and special effects, nearly half of it being Stock Footage from previous movies (including almost all the scenes of Gamera), and an unlikeable main character. It was made when Daiei was still recovering from bankruptcy, and they attempted to make a Gamera film as cheaply as possible to bring in a little more money, but it unsurprisingly disappointed at the box office and killed the franchise for nearly fifteen years (the writers were even so disappointed by the film's quality during production that they deliberately killed Gamera at the end). The revival trilogy that came after was much more successful and considered some of the best kaiju films ever made.
    • The last film in the Heisei Era of the Gamera series, Gamera the Brave, was intended to reboot the franchise with a Lighter and Softer tone. It got decent reviews, but was a box office bomb, killing off the prospect of any potential sequels and, as of writing, has so far put to rest the long-running film franchise, with only a proof-of-concept short film having been released since then.
  • The Highlander franchise has had numerous sequels and spinoffs of dubious quality, but it was finally killed off for good by the dire Made-for-TV Movie Highlander: The Source. Despite this, Summit Entertainment has talked for years about making a Continuity Reboot of the series.
  • Jurassic Park III had mediocre critical reception, and despite technically being a box office success (more than $360 million on a $93 million budget), it made considerably less than Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. A fourth Jurassic Park film languished in Development Hell, but when Michael Crichton died, producer Kathleen Kennedy initially decided against making more, and then, in a subversion, Steven Spielberg revealed at 2011's Comic-Con that a fourth film should be released within the next two to three years. The result was 2015's Jurassic World, a Soft Reboot which received far superior reception to III and smashed countless box office records (even domestically out-grossing Avengers: Age of Ultron), successfully reviving the franchise.
  • While there may have been no particular plans to try to continue the franchise beyond that point, The Matrix Revolutions received so much criticism for being anticlimactic and not as action-packed as its predecessors that it ended up killing any interest in the Matrix universe for years. Warner Bros. would not officially announce another film in the series until 2019 when they announced a fourth movie titled The Matrix Resurrections for release in 2021.
  • The Neverending Story: The third film in the series was so awful on every level (which subsequently resulted in the film bombing at the box office) that there have been no sequels or reboots in the 25+ years since it was made.
  • RoboCop:
    • RoboCop 3 was critically panned for its banal subject matter compared to the previous two installments and, when audiences took notice, flopped at the box office and single-handedly killed the RoboCop franchise for over twenty-one years. Between that time, attempts to continue the popularity of the franchise through a second animated television series, a comic book series, a live-action miniseries and a video game from Titus Software didn't really help matters.
    • A Continuity Reboot released in 2014 received lukewarm reviews and despite recouping its budget globally, it fell roughly $80 million behind a $130 million budget (with the $30 million of that budget spent on marketing costs, which added to the dismal results) domestically, possibly thanks to opening the week after The LEGO Movie, which retained its number one spot at the box office while the RoboCop reboot grossed an abysmal $21.5 million on its first weekend. As a result, Sony canceled the planned sequel and the rights went back to MGM. who four years later announced that it would reboot the franchise, making it a direct sequel to the first film and disregarding the sequels and the 2014 film completely.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie was a box office success and regarded as a decent action flick, surpassing the low standards of video-game-to-movie-adaptations. The sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, was a slopfest of one-shot character cameos, terrible dialogue, and (for the series) an inexplicable plot. After several rumors of a possible sequel/reboot by New Line were killed by Warner Bros. buying the Mortal Kombat franchise and all rights therein from the ashes of Midway Games, WB opted for the cheaper idea of a web series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy. The success of the web series, combined with the continued success of the video game franchise; allowed for the release of the animated Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge as well as a Darker and Edgier live-action Continuity Reboot for release in 2021. Mortal Kombat (2021) saw release both theatrically and on HBO Max that April, garnering significantly better reception than Annihilation (especially among fans).
  • The live-action adaptations of Percy Jackson and the Olympians only went up to the second installment. Both The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters were poorly received by critics, got middling reception from the audience, and were hated by fans for taking liberties with its source material. The first film was only saved by its international box office gross, only for the second film to bomb even harder (its first-week domestic gross was half that of the first) for Fox to just call it quits with the franchise. Rick Riordian being displeased with the changes made from the books didn't help either. After Disney acquired Fox, they announced the series would be rebooted for streaming on Disney+.
  • Planet of the Apes initially died with the terrible Battle for the Planet of the Apes, sequel to the not much better Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Tim Burton's movie in 2001 made some money, but the proposed sequel was scrapped. In all fairness, each Apes sequel was written to be the last in the series, and further movies were only created because 20th Century Fox demanded them. Battle merely put an end to needlessly prolonging the series, which had already wrapped up its loose ends in the previous films anyway. The franchise was later successfully rebooted with the critically-acclaimed release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and its two equally successful sequels — the entire trilogy ironically being a reworking of the two original Franchise Killers!
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had been struggling with declining critical favor for some time, but the death knell for the franchise eventually came with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The film, which was released six years after On Stranger Tides and suffered from a tumultuous production cycle due to Johnny Depp's continued domestic violence troubles, became the lowest-scoring film in the franchise on Rotten Tomatoes, and only barely surpassed the worldwide total for The Curse of the Black Pearl while under-performing against all the other movies. Indeed, the film's box office performance is what caused Disney to scrap plans for another sequel and go for a full Continuity Reboot, although a spinoff starring Margot Robbie has managed to beat the reboot out of the production gate. Disney had publicly decided to part ways with Depp but any lingering hope for his return in some capacity was more than likely killed when he lost a high-profile domestic violence defamation case in the UK in November 2020 since he was fired from two other projects after the ruling.note 
  • The Predator franchise originally went missing in action for two decades, following Predator 2, which was considered a significant box office and critical disappointment compared to the original. The belated revival, Predators was decently reviewed and a commercial success, which naturally got a sequel put in development...only for that film to kick around for nearly a decade in Development Hell and end up being The Predator, which underperformed at the domestic box office and sparked polarizing critical reactions across the board over its undecided tone and muddled focus. Two additional sequels were planned, only for them to be canned and the series being put on the shelf again after an eight-year hiatus. Not helping matters was that the film was released at the time Disney was preparing to take over Fox, with its film slate cut drastically as a result. Tellingly, the first film's screenwriters Jim and John Thomas would soon exercise their copyright grant termination rights to the intellectual property, meaning that Disney would lose the rights to the series by 2021 and freeze all activity with the franchise unless a deal could be worked out. Eventually, the now renamed 20th Century Studios managed to put a fifth film, Prey, into production, which, despite being released direct to Hulu, was a critical and ratings success, meaning the franchise still has some life left.
  • Snow White & the Huntsman was planned to be the start of a fairy tale franchise Universal conceptualized to compete with Disney's line of fairy tale films. Although the film wasn't a critical success, it did well enough to justify a sequel. However, when director Rupert Sanders was revealed to have had an affair with star Kristen Stewart, he and Stewart were booted off the sequel (in Stewart's case, an alternate story goes that she left on her own accord because the proposed scripts weren't up to snuff). The result, The Huntsman: Winter's War, failed to outgross its predecessor on its opening weekend and became a box office bomb that cost Universal $70 million, ensuring that their dreams of a fairy tale franchise would be put in a coffin for good.
  • Solo was the second "Star Wars Story" film in the Star Wars series, which was evidently meant to be a long run of anthology movies in the Star Wars universe, but Solo's poor performance prematurely put an end to the prospect of future anthology films. Films being the operative word, as Star Wars anthologies simply shifted into the medium of television with big-budget Disney+ shows, including the planned Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett films being realized as Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett.
  • Terminator Salvation was intended to be part one of a second trilogy, but instead killed off the company that made it. The rights went on sale, but no one was that interested and they ended up in the possession of... a hedge fund that had invested in the company. In 2011, it was reported that Annapurna Pictures (led by Megan Ellison, daughter of the Oracle founder) had bought the rights (she eventually passed them to her brother David's Skydance Productions in partnership with Paramount). Four years later came the fifth movie, a Continuity Reboot called Terminator Genisys, with Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the series. While it made some bank overseas, it underperformed in the States and was savaged by critics, convincing Skydance and Paramount to scrap plans for another new trilogy. Four years later, they tried again with the sixth movie, Terminator: Dark Fate, which not only featured Schwarzenegger again, but also brought back original Sarah Connor actress Linda Hamilton and series creator James Cameron as a storywriter and producer (directing duties, however, went to Deadpool helmer Tim Miller), and ignored the previous three movies, serving as a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But despite being the best-received installment of the series since Terminator 3,note  if not T2, audiences seemed to had gotten sick of the series by that point, not helping was the decision to kill John Connor off at the start of the movie, and Dark Fate proceeded to perform even worse than Genisys, both domestically and internationally this time, making only $261 million worldwide against a combined production and advertising budget of $335 million, and losing about $123 million - one of the biggest bombs of 2019. Future films in the series were immediately shelved after its failure, and with the rights to the Terminator property slated to fully revert to Cameron and franchise co-creator Gale Anne Hurd by November 2020, the franchise is officially done and over unless a deal between the two groups is reached.
  • Transformers: The Last Knight brought the end of the Michael Bay-helmed Transformers Film Series in its previous form due to breaking the trend of getting poor critical reception but making buttloads of money at the box office by losing Paramount over $100 million due to poor box office performance. As a result, Paramount scrapped plans for a direct sequel and a Shared Universe involving the previous films. The next film, Bumblebee, initially intended as a prequel for the previous film universe, was retooled into a reboot (without much involvement from Bay) as the start of a new universe, with the announcement for a 2022 Transformers movie clarifying that it is not a follow-up to The Last Knight.

    Horror franchises 
  • After the surprise success of The Blair Witch Project, plans were made for a trilogy, but the second movie, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, killed those dreams. While the original film's creators had long wished to get the franchise going again, a third film remained in Development Hell until 2016. That third film, titled simply Blair Witch, was originally marketed as a separate film called The Woods, making the reveal of its actual title just two months before release something of a Stealth Sequel.
  • The Child's Play series went dormant for seven years after the third film in 1991 met diminishing returns, the killer Chucky having lost his edge and the film losing the mix of Black Comedy and frights that characterized the first two films; even series creator Don Mancini sees this as the worst film in the franchise. Bride of Chucky in 1998 successfully brought the franchise into the age of Postmodernism, fully embracing Chucky's cheekier image and becoming a successful horror-comedy, but the 2004 followup Seed of Chucky was criticized for leaning too hard on the comedy (most notably with the infamous doll sex scene), its middling box-office returns and negative reaction putting the killer doll in storage for several years. Old Chuck finally got back into the swing of things with a pair of well-received Direct to Video releases, 2015's Curse of Chucky and 2017's Cult of Chucky, while MGM (who owns the rights and concept to the original Child's Play film) greenlit a theatrical Continuity Reboot, released in 2019.
  • The success of Darkman gave Sam Raimi enough clout to get a third Evil Dead film, titled Army of Darkness, off the ground. While it met a warm reception from critics and has since become a Cult Classic like its predecessors, its box office failure killed the franchise for over 20 years. Outside of comic book and video game spin-offs, the franchise remained dormant until the 2013 remake, with a direct follow-up to the original trilogy coming two years later with the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series. While that show was acclaimed by critics and fans alike, it struggled in the ratings and was cancelled after three seasons. With Bruce Campbell announcing his retirement from the Ash Williams role soon afterwards (though he would ultimately reprise the role again in video game projects) and a planned sequel to the 2013 film languishing in Development Hell, the franchise seemingly returned to dormancy until 2020, when a fifth movie titled Evil Dead Rise, serving as another Soft Reboot, officially entered production with a release date set for 2022.
  • Though there was one more entry after it, Final Destination 4 was the film that set the Final Destination series on the road to the point of no return.note  It was by far the biggest box-office hit in the franchise, largely thanks to the addition of 3-D, but it was so poorly received by critics and fans alike that people stayed away in droves from Final Destination 5. While that film managed to earn the franchise's best reviews and be liked by fans too, it only really made money internationally (the domestic gross barely made back its budget), driving the final nails into the series' coffin. Tony Todd, who played the Creepy Mortician Bludworth in three of the films, has stated that he doesn't expect to ever see a reboot or a sixth film enter production as, because of the massive set-piece disasters that open each film, they require considerably bigger budgets than most horror films and therefore bring in smaller profits. (in fact, the necessary big set piece was stated by the series creator as the reason why a sixth movie that was announced in 2020 got stalled once the COVID-19 pandemic hit)
  • The Friday the 13th series was on unsteady ground in the late '80s. It had already taken a hit when the seventh installment, 1988's The New Blood, got heavily Bowdlerised by the MPAA to avoid an X rating, producing one of the most bloodless Friday films yet. While it marks the beginning of fan-favorite Kane Hodder's turn as Jason Voorhees, it's also viewed as the beginning of the series' Audience-Alienating Era. A double-header of bad films that followed it proved to be the breaking point.
    • The first blow came with the eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan, a year later. Despite its gimmicky title, its low budget prevented it from actually delivering on its promise of Jason in New York until the last thirty minutes. Fans at the time viewed it as the series' nadir, and its failure led Paramount, which had always been somewhat ashamed of the series' success, to sell the rights to the first film's director Sean S. Cunningham. He in turn sold the rights to New Line Cinema, which had been hoping to get a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street off the ground.
    • New Line's subsequent attempt to revitalize the series, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, finished what Jason Takes Manhattan started and sent the franchise to Hell. Turning Jason into a body-surfing demon who possesses people to kill, with the man himself only appearing for about fifteen minutes in the beginning and end, didn't go over well with the fans, nor did its complete jettisoning of the other films in the series past the second. As such, it is often ranked high on many horror fans' lists of the worst films in the series, and it took another nine years before another Friday film was released.
    • Since Jason Goes to Hell, there have been periodic attempts at reviving the Friday series, but none that managed to get the franchise going again in a serious way. The film that broke the drought, the guilty pleasure Jason X in 2002, was made only to restore fans' interest in the series before the release of the long-awaited Freddy vs. Jason, which finally came out the following year after over a decade in Development Hell. However, while it was the biggest hit in both the Friday and Nightmare franchises and, by and large, won the approval of fans of both series, plans for a sequel were restricted to the realm of comic books. A remake came out in 2009, and while it was a hit, it wasn't a big enough one to convince New Line not to sell the rights to the series back to Paramount. The two tried once more to reboot the series in 2017, but financial turmoil at Paramount and low box office numbers for Rings led to the reboot getting canceled and Paramount's rights expiring for good. Since then, an ongoing lawsuit between Cunningham and the first film's writer Victor Miller over the rights to the franchise has not only put the brakes on any new movies, it's also forced the developers of Friday the 13th: The Game to cancel all new content they had planned (effectively killing the multiplayer-focused game) after receiving a cease-and-desist letter.
  • Halloween. Hoo boy. This long-running series has experienced this up to five times depending on how you count it. Given that there have been thirteen Halloween films, this means that more than a third of the films in the franchise can be said to have made the creators rethink whether or not to make another sequel. Only with Halloween Ends did any branch of the franchise ever receive what could be properly termed a definitive, deliberate ending.
  • The Hannibal Lecter film series initially came to a close in 2002 with the release of the film adaptation of Red Dragon, rounding out what was, until then, a trilogy of film adaptations of Thomas Harris's trilogy of Hannibal books (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal in chronological order) all helmed by Anthony Hopkins portraying the eponymous character, Hannibal Lecter. Then Dino De Laurentiis (who owned the film rights to the books) announced he was producing a prequel/origin film, and told Harris that if he didn't write a book for the film to be based on, he would produce it anyway without Harris's involvement. Harris complied, and the results were the 2006 book Hannibal Rising and a 2007 film adaptation of it (in which Harris also wrote the screenplay). The book received a mixed reaction, while the movie received a negative critical reception and (unlike the previous three films) was a box office disappointment, dissuading Harris from further continuing the Hannibal book series. The series as a whole was dead in the water until Hannibal, a Continuity Reboot television series made without Harris's involvement. Despite being well-received by reviewers and fans of the series, the show was axed by NBC for unsatisfactory ratings. The franchise made another attempt at success in 2021 with a new spin-off series starring Clarice Starling, so it's not completely gone yet.
  • The Hellraiser franchise is an odd case. Hellraiser: Bloodline was the last theatrical release in the series before it became a Franchise Zombie of straight-to-video Dolled-Up Installments, but it was better received critically than Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, which most fans agree derailed the whole series. In addition, thanks to its lack of a budget and its poor replacement of Doug Bradley's performance as Pinhead, Hellraiser: Revelations locked this franchise in the Lament Configuration for seven years. Another sequel, Hellraiser: Judgment, popped up Direct to Video in 2018 and got a better response than Revelations though not by much.
  • Many fans of Jaws tend to disavow all of the sequels, which were made under constant Executive Meddling without the involvement of the original film's director Steven Spielberg, but while the second and third films both made money despite mixed-to-negative reviews, Jaws: The Revenge killed the franchise stone-dead with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 0%. The film also ended the boom of "killer animal" movies, and especially shark movies, that tried to cash in on the original Jaws, which such films usually not taken seriously today (with The Shallows being a rare exception).
  • The Leprechaun series went on hiatus following the sixth installment Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood though it wasn't due to it performing badly as it was a Direct to Video series at this point. Treatments were written for where the Leprechaun would wind up next, like The Wild West or on spring break, and Warwick Davis even showed interest in a seventh film, but Lionsgate took too long to greenlight another sequel, and momentum dried up. Years later, they decided to reboot the series with Dylan Postl replacing Davis, resulting in the Darker and Edgier Leprechaun: Origins. Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics and fans alike for being both an In Name Only installment and an overly generic horror film, effectively soiling chances of follow-ups. The series, however, did make a comeback with the 2018 SyFy original movie Leprechaun Returns, which, like Halloween (2018), ignored all the previous sequels and served as a direct sequel to the 1993 original.
  • With the exception of a few direct-to-video films, The Mummy franchise laid dormant through most of the 2000s. That changed in 2008 with the release of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, an attempt at reviving the franchise with a new director and a mostly new cast. Although there were plans in place to continue the film series well beyond that movie, Dragon Emperor killed off any remaining interest that the public had in the franchise. A Darker and Edgier reboot in 2017, starring Tom Cruise, tried to bring the franchise back into the public consciousness to start Universal's long-mooted horror cinematic universe, but it instead received worse reviews and flopped in the United States, smothering Universal's planned "Dark Universe" in its cradle and possibly killing the franchise for good.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • This was barely averted when the poor reception of the second film, Freddy's Revenge in 1985, almost killed the series before it could ever take off. It was only a pitch by Chuck Russell, in which he envisioned embracing the supernatural dream-demon nature of Freddy Krueger's powers to go wild with the dream sequences, that convinced New Line Cinema to make a third film. That film, Dream Warriors in 1987, turned the series into a blockbuster franchise.
    • Said franchise eventually self-terminated with the combination of the fifth film, The Dream Child, in 1989 and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991. The former film was poorly received by fans and was the lowest-grossing film in the franchise up to that point, causing New Line to pull the trigger with Freddy's Dead, a film that, despite making a bit more money, is today regarded as the series' rock bottom.
    • Much like its rival Friday the 13th series, several revival attempts were made later on to revive the series, only for them to frequently peter out. 1994 brought Wes Craven's New Nightmare, a stand-alone spinoff that New Line produced because they liked the script and it could be produced cheaply. It was very well-received by critics and fans, and is now regarded as one of the best films in the series from a pure horror standpoint, but it did even worse than at the box office. 2003 brought Freddy vs. Jason, described above in the section on Friday the 13th. Finally, the 2010 remake of the original film, despite being a box-office hit, was utterly ravaged by series fans and viewers, and almost strangled lead actress Rooney Mara's career in its cradle (before David Fincher swooped in and saved it).
  • Even if Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension hadn't been intended as the series' final chapter, its ravaging by critics and fans and middling box office returns (not helped by a VOD distribution strategy that caused some theaters to boycott the film) likely would've killed the franchise regardless. At least until 2019, when Blumhouse decided to continue the franchise with a seventh film, albeit as a direct-to-streaming film on Paramount+.
  • Koji Suzuki's novel Ring was successfully adapted to film in Japan in 1998 (as Ringu) and in the US in 2002 (as The Ring), with both films receiving sequels. The Japanese franchise was killed by Ring 0: Birthday, a prequel released in 2000 that many dismissed as a poor man's version of Carrie, while the American franchise was killed by The Ring Two in 2005, which, despite boasting the involvement of Ringu director Hideo Nakata, was ravaged by critics as an incomprehensible mess. Both franchises would lay dormant for twelve years before receiving sequels/quasi-reboots, the Japanese franchise with Sadako 3D in 2012 and the American franchise with Rings in 2017.
  • Saw: Saw VI was by no means a flop overall, and was widely considered by critics and fans of the series to be a much better film than the previous two movies released before it. However, it was by far the lowest-grossing film in the series, especially at the domestic box office, where its intake of just $27.7 million was barely half that of the first and fifth films (the previous lowest-grossing entries in the series). When combined with the box office failure of similar films in the late 2000s and the blockbuster success of Paranormal Activity, the film that Saw VI competed with that October (and which couldn't have been more different in terms of tone), Lionsgate saw the writing on the wall and pulled the plug after the next installment. While Saw 3D was a hit internationally (with its box office intake outside North America setting a series record), it wasn't enough to save the franchise, not with its domestic box office performance being the second-worst in the series behind only Saw VI. Whereas new Saw movies had come out annually before Saw 3D, to the point where ads for later films credibly marketed it as a Halloween tradition, it would be seven years after that before the franchise got a new installment, and it took another four years to get yet another film.
  • Scream and Scream 2 each made just over $100 million at the domestic box office, while Scream 3 clocked in at just under $90 million. Scream 4 didn't even reach the $40 million mark (although it's far from universally loathed). The international box office gross saved the film from outright flopping, but it was considered a disappointment. Having a gap between the third and fourth films longer than the period in which all three previous films were released may not have helped. (Of course, so did Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but that was the second most successful film of its year — unlike Sidney Prescott or Ghostface, Indy is a genuine icon.) While The Weinstein Company initially didn't rule out another sequel, the chance of more films gradually faded away, as the franchise ended up rebooted by MTV as a television series, which was followed by series director Wes Craven's passing in 2015. The TV show later ended up being killed due to the series' connection to the disgraced Harvey Weinstein, and was later retooled into the miniseries Scream: Resurrection. It wasn't until 2022 that a fifth installment (simply named Scream) was released. Fortunately, it was more successful.
  • The 2006 film adaptation of the Silent Hill games was surprisingly well-received (at least by fans and moviegoers), especially by the standards of video game adaptations, and made some money at the box office. As such, in 2012 they released a sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, which was based on the third game in the series (a direct sequel to the first). Since Adaptation Decay had been a common complaint from series fans about the first film, this one attempted to be more faithful to the source material, but in doing so, it mangled its predecessor's lore and storyline in a manner that infuriated fans of both the games and the movie. The rest wasn't much better, the budget having been cut by more than half compared to the original and most of the film being a parade of jump scares. While it was a modest box-office hit (albeit mostly overseas), its scathing reception from both critics and fans ensured that no new Silent Hill movies would be made for another decade. What's more, despite Revelation ending on multiple clear Sequel Hooks, the subsequent film, titled Return to Silent Hill, is set to follow through on none of them and will instead adapt Silent Hill 2.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise suffered from one in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Not only did this film claim that the Sawyer family (here inexplicably renamed the "Slaughter" family) were government agents set up to horrify teens for reasons never elaborated upon, but also had a wholly annoying and unlikeable lead for the family who is ultimately killed after being hit by a low-flying plane, again for no reason. The series has undergone several reboots since then, most of which stick true to the original film.
  • The V/H/S franchise of found-footage horror anthology films was derailed for seven years when the third film, 2014's V/H/S: Viral, was roasted by critics and fans alike for a nonsensical "viral video" wraparound that abandoned the theme of the past two films (people discover old VHS tapes containing horrifying scenes), and the actual anthology segments not being much better. After three years of annual installments, it took until 2021 for the next film, V/H/S/94, to get made, and that film was a full Continuity Reboot of the franchise. That said, the "Amateur Night" segment from the first film was later adapted in 2016 by its creators into the standalone, feature-length Siren, which was fairly well-received.

    Superhero franchises — Dark Horse Comics 
  • After the flop of Son of the Mask, Dark Horse Entertainment (the publisher of the original The Mask comics) didn't make or release anything related to The Mask series until Itty Bitty Mask—a comic book that was released nine years after Son of The Mask.
  • The first Sin City film is a lauded action flick faithful to its source material, especially considering creator Frank Miller co-directed the film with Robert Rodriguez. The second movie, A Dame to Kill For, however, was criticized for the nine-year-long release gap between films and its outdated special effects and garnered controversy for its teaser poster featuring a half-nude Eva Green portraying Ava Lord. Consequently, bad word-of-mouth resulted in audiences staying away and the film flopping instantly on its opening weekend. This turn of events may put the Sin City franchise on hold yet again, or perhaps result in a Continuity Reboot.
  • Barb Wire was savaged by critics and fans of the original comic and flopped at the box office, resulting in Dark Horse yanking the film license and refusing to allow any more Barb Wire movies.

    Superhero franchises — DC Comics 
  • Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin was so awful (lead actor George Clooney even said "I think we killed the franchise") that it convinced Warner to let the Batman fields lie fallow for a while, then let someone else take a crack at the series. Some Marvel Studios higher-up is on record for saying that Batman & Robin was the most influential comic book movie, on account of it definitively showing to movie studios that they can't shovel out crap comic adaptations and expect people to see them. Schumacher continued to catch heat for his direction of the film for the rest of his life, with the film following him to his grave in 2020—the punchline everyone thinks of when they remember his (otherwise excellent) career. It seems that, in the case of Batman Forever and B&R, Schumacher was likely just a hired hand — a technician who labored under the studio's close guidance. Basically, they wanted a more marketable Batman, and he became so cynical about the project that he announced each take with, "Okay everyone, remember: we're making a toy commercial" through a megaphone.
  • Green Lantern (2011) was supposed to launch the DC Comics equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and eventually lead to a Justice League film. The movie was panned by critics and had lukewarm box office results, which led to these plans being shuffled onto Man of Steel in the hopes that it would kick start their movie universe the right way. Another Green Lantern was eventually put on the film slate for the DCEU, but it has yet to leave the pre-production stage. Ryan Reynolds had such a bad experience making the Green Lantern film that he's stated he has no interest in doing a Justice League movie unless he knows that it'll have a quality script and director.
  • Superman III was bad. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was in some ways an improvement; but where it did go wrong, including glaring Special Effect Failure, it broke Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The series went comatose for nearly twenty years and when it came back, Superman Returns was a sequel to Superman II and ignored the continuity of Superman III and Superman IV. Returns was decent (even taking into account the Broken Base and it being a Same Plot Sequel with a story evocative of Superman: The Movie), but didn't perform well enoughnote  to keep the franchise resurrected without another reboot (which, despite mixed reviews, was a major commercial success). The version of Superman in the film was able to get another second chance when he appeared in the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) (which was likely thanks to Superman Returns star Brandon Routh being in one of that universe's series).
  • The failure of Supergirl (1984) not only prevented the heroine from becoming a film franchise like Superman but was also partly responsible for the character getting killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths. She would not make any appearances outside the DCAU until Smallville. Fortunately, said TV show together with her then-current solo book renewed interest in Supergirl once again until she got her own television series and an appearance in The Flash.

    Superhero franchises — Marvel Comics 
  • The Blade Trilogy series died off when Blade: Trinity underperformed and received poor reactions from critics and fans, leading to the film's star Wesley Snipes suing New Line Cinema (which distributed the films) and director David S. Goyer for cutting him out of the filmmaking process. Snipes also going to federal jail for tax evasion didn't help matters much, either, and ensured that the series will never continue. New Line did attempt to continue on television with the short-lived Blade: The Series, but the film rights have since reverted back to Marvel, who later announced a Continuity Reboot with Mahershala Ali as the title character.
  • The Daredevil movie wasn't quite bad enough to kill Daredevil 2. Elektra, on the other hand, was. That film and Halle Berry's Catwoman (2004) squashed rumors of a new spate of super-heroine movies, which was also not helped by a sudden glut of similarly themed Action Girl movies coming out at the same time as well, such as Ultraviolet (2006) and Æon Flux, which were also lambasted by critics for being poor-to-mediocre in most aspects. Fox did at one point have plans to completely reboot the Daredevil/Elektra franchise in the early 2010s, but ended up letting the film rights lapse back to Marvel Studios in order to focus more on their Fantastic Four reboot. Marvel has since released a made-for-Netflix show starring the character, but obviously independent of the earlier films and being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thankfully, said Netflix show completely redeemed the character in the public eye.
  • The Fantastic Four (2005) films from 20th Century Fox never enjoyed critical or fan reception, but the underperformance of Rise of the Silver Surfer caused Fox to cancel plans for the Silver Surfer spinoff movie in favor of a Continuity Reboot, which was green-lit in 2013. The reboot was released in 2015 after a lengthy Troubled Production, and was universally trashed across the board by fans and criticsnote , receiving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 9%, making it the lowest-rated superhero movie since Catwoman (2004). The subsequent box office failure led to Fox quietly taking a proposed sequel off its release schedule. Disney's subsequent purchase of Fox all but ensured that the rights would revert to Marvel, and yet another reboot within the Marvel Cinematic Universe was announced by Kevin Feige in December 2020. And when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had a cameo from Reed Richards, it was telling that, unlike the various characters from Spider-Man: No Way Home (see below), Patrick Stewart as Professor X, or even Anson Mount as Black Bolt, none of the prior actors for Reed Richards were invited back to reprise the role, instead casting John Krasinski as a variant who had never been seen before in any other media.
  • While the first Ghost Rider film did well on its initial release, it was viewed by the filmmakers (as well as by star Nicolas Cage) as being too corny to pass as a real Ghost Rider film. In the wake of films like The Dark Knight, the studio felt that people were finally willing to accept a more gritty take on the character, and green-lit Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The film did poorly at the box office and received terrible reviews, with Cage later admitting that they'd dropped the ball a second time in regards to the film series. A year later, Sony gave the film rights back to Marvel Studios, who stated that they had no immediate plans to feature the character in their films, though a version of the character appeared in the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was very well-received.
  • Following the critical savaging and box office failure of Punisher: War Zone, Lionsgate gave up on the Punisher film series and let the rights go back to Marvel Studios. It was later announced that the character would be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe via the second season of the Daredevil TV series, but not as a movie. However, this version of Frank Castle was so well received by fans that Netflix ordered a Punisher TV series that was aired in 2017.
  • After Spider-Man 3, Sony cancelled the Spider-Man 4 film right before filming started, after a release date had been announced, in favor of a Continuity Reboot in the form of The Amazing Spider-Man. This is actually a subversion, though, as Spider-Man 3 (which got mixed reviews but made a huge profit) was not the cause of the Raimi Spider-Man franchise's death. The true culprit for the death of the franchise was Executive Meddling — director Sam Raimi walked out only because he felt he couldn't deliver the level of quality he wanted in the deadline he was given. Meanwhile, the rebooting was done because Sony didn't want the Spider-Man film rights to fall into Marvel Studios' hands instead of, you know, acknowledging the murder of the golden egg-laying goose. Spider-Man: No Way Home, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would give the universe a second chance when a magic spell gone wrong brings in Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and Spider-Man.
  • Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ended up killing that franchise, as it received a more divisive reception and failed to meet Sony's financial expectations despite being a box office successnote , causing Sony to change their original plans from releasing a Spider-Man movie every year and delaying the proposed third movie to 2018. After looking through options such as a "soft reboot" with a new Spider-Man actornote  and merging production of the Sinister Six and Venom movies, Sony decided to share the rights with Marvel Studios after the Sony hack revealed that Sony wasn't sure on how to continue the movies. Spider-Man was soon rebooted in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with an appearance in Captain America: Civil War being very positively received, leading to a more well-received Spider-Man film with Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017. Still, the intent of making those villain movies still came off the ground, starting with Venom the following year. Ultimately, Spider-Man: No Way Home ended up reviving this Spider-Man film franchise too when the magic spell brings Lizard, Electro, and Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a brief Franchise Killer for the X-Men movies, since it was intended to take the franchise in a different direction following the original trilogy (as the title indicates, the plan was for a series of Origin Story movies for key characters of the franchise; X-Men Origins: Magneto would have been the next installment), but the terrible reaction to it killed these plans and a different (and much more successful) direction was chosen in the semi-reboot X-Men: First Class (which itself was partially an adaptation of the proposed Magneto-led movie). It also killed off a potential Deadpool film, until a 5-minute test reel with a CGI Deadpool (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) was leaked online in September 2014 to a very positive response, leading Fox to put the movie back in development, which was released to great reviews and the film (somehow) becoming Fox's highest-ever grossing Marvel adaptation. The film was so reviled that it, along with X-Men: The Last Stand, were both rendered Canon Discontinuity via Cosmic Retcon in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The Deadpool movie is a reboot that completely ignores Wolverine, except for a brief Take That!.
    • The franchise would ultimately meet its end with Dark Phoenix, which suffered a headache of a production and got mockery from audiences long before its release in the aftermath of Fox ultimately getting acquired by Marvel parent Disney, as everyone knew the franchise would be done at some point to prepare for the characters' integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Indeed, the film was opened to largely negative reception (even worse than Origins Wolverine) and opened to an abysmal $33 million domestically and ended up only making $252 million worldwide against a combined production and advertising budget of $350 million, the lowest-grossing X-Men film in history. With Disney ending up with a $133 million loss on the film, the biggest such loss of 2019, it's safe to say any thought of the franchise continuing in some way as is is now out of the question, and the property will spend at least 5 years on hiatus due to the tightly-knit nature of the MCU. An intended spin-off film, The New Mutants, instead ended up being the last in the series, though that only ended up being the case because of the film being delayed at least four times over two years (due to the Disney-Fox merger, planned reshoots that never materialized due to conflicting schedules and ultimately the COVID-19 Pandemic - and given it only fulfilled its theatrical obligations as most screens were shut down by the pandemic, the box office returns were even worse than Dark Phoenix).

    Superhero franchises — Other 

    Television series-based films 
  • The Charlie's Angels series hasn't had much luck with revivals. While the 2000 Charlie's Angels film did well financially and received fairly approving reviews, the same can't be said with its 2003 sequel Full Throttle, which while still relatively successful had a more negative critical reception and underwhelming box office intake. (To give you some perspective, the sequel turned out to be 29% more expensive than the 2000 original at $120M, and also made less worldwide, $259.1M to $264.1M.) In addition, the deaths of both Charlie's voice (John Forsythe) and replacement Bosley character (Bernie Mac) left the prospects for a third movie in the foreseeable future unlikely. Then came the second theatrical continuation directed by Elizabeth Banks, which was released in November 2019 to average reviews and disappointing returns with less than $9 million in a third-place finish. Compounding the misfortune was the 2011 TV series reboot produced in the meantime, which was burned at the stake by critics and canceled after four episodes were aired. note 
  • The Live-Action Adaptation series based on The Flintstones started with the 1994 film, which became the sixth highest-grossing movie of the year despite negative reviews from critics, resulting in a sequel being ordered. However, Development Hell ensued, resulting in the sequel becoming a prequel instead and the main characters were recast after the original cast walked off production. The prequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, which chronicles how Fred met Wilma, was released six years after the original film was released, but despite slightly more positive reception it flopped, resulting in no further theatrical Flintstones movies being made since then. A handful of Direct-to-Video animated Flintstones films have been released since then, however.
  • The Jay Ward Live-Action Adaptation series of films was prematurely killed by the failures of both Dudley Do-Right and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. After both films bombed, Universal gave up the Jay Ward film license and canned a proposed live-action adaptation of Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
  • Although the popularity of Mr. Magoo had been in decline since the 1970s, many people consider the 1997 live-action film the final nail, more or less, in the blind man's coffin. One of the numerous "revivals" of cartoons in live-action form in the 1990s, with several other examples from Disney killing their respective franchises, the film, mainly because of its perceived yet unintentional offense to the blind and near-sighted, also lost $1.1 million in its two weeks in theaters; obtained negative reviews from critics; was a major Star-Derailing Role for Leslie Nielsen, who would fall from the A-list with Wrongfully Accused the following year; and proved to be a Creator Killer in the West for director Stanley Tong, as it is his only English-language film to date. Not helping matters were the film's closing disclaimer or the animated title sequence with The Other Darrin Greg Burson as Magoo. It would not be until 2010 that he reappeared with the direct-to-video release of the animated film Kung Fu Magoo, but it too proved mediocre, so Magoo's fate at this moment remains unknown.
  • A live-action Scooby-Doo film was released in 2002 (notably the last project that William Hanna ever worked on before his death the previous year). Despite negative reviews, it was a success at the box office and seemed destined to spawn a franchise. Then came 2004's Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed, which received even worse reviews, won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Remake or Sequel, and under-performed the first film. As a result, Warner Bros. cancelled plans for Scooby-Doo 3 and ended the theatrical live-action films; although they did produce two tangentially-related prequel films at the end of the decade, plus one spinoff. Eventually, Warner Animation Group opted to do an animated Continuity Reboot in SCOOB!, which was released in 2020, but even that was destined to fail as it was released during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and was criticized for replacing nearly all of the series' regular voice cast except for Frank Welker as Scooby himself (despite Frank being replaced as Fred in favor of Zac Efron).note 
  • Serenity, the feature-film continuation of the Firefly television series, drastically underperformed in the theaters, much like Firefly itself. Interestingly, Serenity was only green-lit due to the impressive sales of Firefly DVDs, and Serenity's failure killed the idea that DVD sales can be used to extrapolate a fanbase's ability to support a motion picture.
  • The negative reception and domestic box-office underperformance of Sex and the City 2 killed off that franchise, as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall seem decidedly less interested in making a third film than their costars. Parker and Cattrall's long-simmering (and long-rumored) hatred for one another spilling out into the public in 2018 finished off any hope of a new film being made, though a revival of the series on HBO Max, And Just Like That..., was later made - without Cattrall to solve the lingering issue.
  • Star Trek has had several run-ins with this, with many of them affecting not just the films, but the entire franchise as a whole. To wit:
    • For Paramount, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was very nearly this. Cast and crew all believed that the sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would be the final film in the franchise, and the last Star Trek production ever. It was this, and not (contrary to popular belief) any antipathy Leonard Nimoy may have had in playing Spock that spurred Spock's death at the end of the film. But then Star Trek II turned out to be an unexpected smash hit, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was promptly green-lit to capitalize.
    • The major critical and box office disappointment for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier almost killed the franchise as a whole, as Paramount, in response to the poor financial returns, at first slashed the budget of the then-in-development sixth film to a degree where making a movie simply wasn't a viable option. The only reasons why sixth movie even eventually managed to get made, was because Nicholas Meyer called in a personal favor with the head of Paramount and because the studio wanted a movie to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek.
    • Star Trek: Nemesis. The plot contained a Sequel Hook, and there were reportedly plans for a sequel film that would officially serve as the Grand Finale for the The Next Generation cast but the film's financial and critical failure ended any chance the TNG crew had of getting another film. Then again, this section of the franchise may have been killed shortly before the release of this film because Brent Spiner (who played the android Data) refused to participate further because he was visibly aging and straining suspension of disbelief (though in an alternate future of the TV series' finale, Data had cosmetically altered himself to simulate aging anyway). You can't do TNG without Data, and Paramount's marketing department knew it, hence the tagline:
      "A Generation's Final Journey Begins".
      • In a broader sense, Nemesis is also seen as being part of the decline of the Star Trek franchise. The TV show, Enterprise hadn't been too popular when its first season aired, and the box office failure is reportedly why executives decided to limit it to only four seasons. Even some cast members including Patrick Stewart felt that Nemesis suffered from a fair bit of franchise fatigue. While Star Trek returned to the silver screen with the 2009 reboot, it did so by returning to the twenty-third-century era depicted in Star Trek: The Original Series. On television, Star Trek: Discovery (unrelated to the film series) continued that trend, being set a decade before Kirk's Enterprise. So Nemesis had, it seems, permanently killed off the possibility of any more films and TV shows set during the twenty-fourth-century era depicted in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.
      • This last bit has now been Subverted with the announcement that Patrick Stewart will be returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a new series set roughly two decades after Nemesis. Said series, Star Trek: Picard, managed to revive that era of the franchise successfully, not only for The Next Generation, but also Voyager (due to a prominent role from Voyager character Seven of Nine).
    • Star Trek Beyond in 2016 would become this for the rebooted Kelvin timeline that started in 2009. Although the film was well-received by fans and critics, it bombed compared to the huge budget, and Paramount's attempt to reduce costs made stars Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth drop out of a possible fourth film since they were unwilling to settle for reduced salaries. It seemed only an unrelated movie with Quentin Tarantino of all people directing was in the works... until in November 2019, the fourth film resumed development with Noah Hawley taking over as director and writer, meaning that the Kelvin timeline is far from over - only struggling to get into production (a fate which Tarantino's film also got).
  • After the Twin Peaks TV series ended, the movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, was made, with the intention of leading into a trilogy of films and then maybe starting up the show again once David Lynch had consolidated his control, freeing the show from the Executive Meddling that had caused the cancellation in the first place. The movie was both a critical and financial flop, as audiences were caught off-guard by its Mind Screw nature and unexpectedly dark tone, and there has been no Twin Peaks since. A sequel series finally got released in 2017 on Showtime, after 25 years of floundering.
  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe came 6 years after the show ended and 10 years after the previous movie, and instead of resolving or even referencing the series' Myth Arc, it presented a Monster of the Week story involving a Pedophile Priest that fans and critics found to be in very poor taste. Its box-office failure ended plans for a third movie to answer any questions, although a six-episode revival of the series aired in 2016 and another miniseries followed later.

    Other franchises 
  • The 1995 Casper movie, while not a critical darling, was enough of a box office success to get a sequel greenlit, but the character's owners at Harvey, who weren't exactly thrilled with the final project, were allowed to do a largely unrelated prequel film that they would produce Direct to Video with Saban Entertainment. The disappointing sales and lackluster reception of the resulting film, Casper: A Spirited Beginning and its sequel Casper Meets Wendy convinced Amblin Entertainment to call off the sequel, along with the fact that it had been in Development Hell for so long they felt that interest had worn off.
  • The Cat in the Hat killed off the live-action Dr. Seuss movie franchise that had started with How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, not so much because of its box-office receipts (which were not as bad as the scathing critical reviews, though still remarkably low) but because Theodore Geisel's widow Audrey was disgusted enough by its overly raunchy humor to deny any further live-action adaptations for the rest of her life. Plans were laid out for a sequel based on The Cat in the Hat Comes Back but never materialized as a direct result of the sanction from Mrs. Geisel. Later Dr. Seuss movies starting with Horton Hears a Who! have been made purely with CGI.note  Amazingly, Dr. Seuss would continue to be made by Universal for years afterwards, with the sole exception of Horton, which went through 20th Century Fox, before the Geisel estate finally cut ties with Universal before The Grinch came out and moved to Warner Bros. for all future films.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard killed off the Die Hard franchise after five films. Critics were lukewarm to negative toward its clichéd The New Russia technothriller plot and choppy action scenes. Fox seemed to sense a turkey on its hands, as the film was dumped into theaters on Valentine's Day. A Good Day to Die Hard was the first in the series to fail to recoup its budget domestically, though (outside of Russia for obvious reasons) the film did considerably better business overseas. All attempts to make another Die Hard film have stalled out, and it was first of a series of bombs that sent Bruce Willis into a steep career decline before his retirement in 2022 due to aphasia.
  • The Expendables 3, in contrast to the last two films, met with an underwhelming reaction from fans largely put off by the PG-13 rating and mostly failed to make its money back. It's telling that afterwards, Sylvester Stallone decided to return to the Rambo series, which he had abandoned specifically to make The Expendables.
  • The film adaptation of Fat Slags (a strip in British comic Viz) was so bad that their creator allegedly claimed he was going to kill off the strip as a result, though this later turned out to be misquoted/misreported.
  • The failure of Grease 2 prevented further Sequelitis. There were studio plans of having at least three more sequels and a TV series, but they were instantly scrapped after Grease 2 bombed.
  • James Bond:
    • This series is the exception to the rule of a real franchise killer, as they have been continuously produced by the same family-owned production company, Eon Productions, since 1962. That said, a few films in the series have had brushes with this trope.
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service was at the time of release viewed as a major disappointment as it continued a downward spiral in grosses that had begun with You Only Live Twice, despite the very different approaches taken with those two films. For the next film, Diamonds Are Forever, the studio was desperate and lured Sean Connery back for one last time in exchange for a hefty paycheck. However the film following Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die with Roger Moore as James Bond, proved that the series was still a very profitable commodity, despite a change in the lead role. The film has been Vindicated by History since, being generally considered a superior effort to all of those that followed it at least until The Spy Who Loved Me.
    • Licence to Kill, the 16th official movie (and the second and last one to star Timothy Dalton) seemed to do this for a while. With inflation in account, it's the lowest-grossing film in the franchise. The film was one of the most polarizing Bond movies due to its decidedly Darker and Edgier, Miami Vice-influenced plot, and coming out during a busy summer season with subpar marketing didn't help its chances. LTK felt like an End of an Age (dating back to the Sean Connery era) as it was the last Bond movie to have any involvement from director John Glen, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, cinematographer Alec Mills, and producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli (plus the last Bond movie to take place during the Cold War). There wouldn't be a new Bond movie released for six years (the longest such delay in franchise history) mostly due to litigation from 1990-1993 between the co-owners on the sale of television licensing rights, not to mention a fraudulent acquisition of MGM. In the meantime, Dalton's contract expired, Pierce Brosnan was hired, and the 17th movie started being Saved from Development Hell.
    • While Die Another Day by no means flopped (it was the highest-grossing Bond film at the time), it was deemed ridiculous by many and received at best mixed reviews. More importantly, however, was that with this film and the preceding The World Is Not Enough, the box-office grosses simply did not match the increasing production budgets and marketing costs, and made very little profit for franchise co-owners Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Broccoli/Wilson's Danjaq. For MGM, their co-ownership in the James Bond franchise is their single-most important IP asset, and for a studio with an otherwise weak output, Bond must provide large profits for the studio to survive. Soon after, Brosnan was dismissed and the franchise went into hibernation before rebooting with a back-to-basics movie starring Daniel Craig as Bond. Word of God mentions that the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks also played a part because the writers felt they couldn't justify the franchise's campiness after such a traumatic event. According to Daniel Craig, the Austin Powers films were responsible for the James Bond series' Darker and Edgier reboot in the '00s. That series ruthlessly lampooned the more outrageous tropes of the Bond movies and made them impossible to take seriously anymore, while also becoming pop-culture sensations that arguably overshadowed the Pierce Brosnan-era Bond films from that same time period. This also led to the success of The Bourne Series in the '00s, whose edgier, more realistic concepts and action were the benchmark for the Daniel Craig movies. (at least until Skyfall made the producers decide to bring back many of the series' traditional elements).
  • The Next Karate Kid was poorly received by fans and critics, and made less money at the box office than The Karate Kid Part III, putting the series on ice until the release of The Karate Kid (2010), a Continuity Reboot starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, and the original continuity didn't return until the 2018 YouTube Sequel Series Cobra Kai, which has gained rave reviews and fan love aplenty.
  • The box office failure of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl killed any future theatrical adaptations of the American Girl books and associated dolls. The series has had some mild success as Straight-To-DVD features, however; for a long time, they stuck to adapting their modern Girl of the Year stories, but they've since returned to historical movies.
  • The Legend of the Lone Ranger ended any chance of further Lone Ranger adaptations for the next two and a half decades with ITC's behavior, especially toward the classic Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore (such behavior would become ITC's undoing, as following the well-deserved and spectacular failure of the film it only survived while Sir Lew Grade was still alive). In 2013, a feature film rebooting the franchise failed with both critics and the box office.
    • Disney chose not to renew their first-look contract with Jerry Bruckheimer Studios, who had up to that point produced films for Disney (including the Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure series) for 20 years, not long after the massive box-office failure of the aforementioned The Lone Ranger reboot (following a series of other flops from the production company). Disney head Alan Horn however claims the partnership break-up had to do more with Creative Differences over the films the executives wanted and the films Bruckheimer wanted to produce.
  • Disney produced a film adaptation of P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins in 1964. After she saw the film's premiere, Travers was upset with the Disney adaptation despite the critical acclaim and awards the film received. Thus, she asserted creative control over any future developments of the property, resulting in creative differences between her and Disney which stalled any new Mary Poppins projects until after her death in 1996 - the original film was adapted for Broadway the following decade, and sequel Mary Poppins Returns hit theaters in 2018.
  • While the Live-Action Adaptation of CLAMP's Rex: A Dinosaur Story was the biggest native blockbuster of 1993 in Japan and a surprise hit for Kadokawa Shoten and Shochiku, it was pulled from theatres after director Haruki Kadokawa was accused of cocaine smuggling. Ever since, no one else, even within Kadokawa Shoten, has tried to adapt any of CLAMP's stories into anything other than animation.
  • The colossal failure of the big-budget adaptation of Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic! in 1980, combined with Cussler's distaste for it, led him not to sell the rights to any of his other Dirk Pitt novels (which producer Lew Grade had hoped to use as the basis for a franchise of his own) for over 20 years.
  • The Rocky series died initially with Rocky V, which underperformed the other films and was scathed by critics and audiences. Sylvester Stallone himself disowned the film, expressing disgust toward United Artists rejecting the original script that called for Rocky's deathnote . United Artists then decided to scrap plans for a sixth film and left the series dormant until Rocky Balboa in 2006, which ignored Rocky V. It served as a good enough Grand Finale for the series, though the studio still decided to continue with a spin-off about Apollo Creed's son, with Rocky in a supporting role as his trainer. The success of that inspired Stallone himself to co-write a sequel.
  • Anthony Horowitz had high hopes for a potential film franchise based on his Alex Rider series. Unfortunately, the first film, Stormbreaker (based on the first book of the series, of the same name), divided fans and critics and bombed at the box office. Horowitz revoked the film license from The Weinstein Company after its failure, thus his dream of a film franchise was never realized, later opting instead to adapt the series for television.
  • The critical and financial meltdown of the Live-Action Adaptation of Super Mario Bros. convinced Nintendo that the film business wasn't fruitful for them, and refused to grant the film rights to any of their franchises for the next few decadesnote . They made exceptions for some of their games and characters appearing in movies as cameos: Bowser and a Super Mushroom appear in Wreck-It Ralph, and Mario, Donkey Kong, and the dog from Duck Hunt respectively appear in Pixels. It would not be until 25 years later before both an American movie based on a Nintendo game was made and the announcement that Universal's Illumination Entertainment acquired the Super Mario movie rights and are doing an animated movie that completely disregards the 1993 film, set to be released in 2023.
  • Despite its later acclaim, the box office failure of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, along with Creator Backlash, led to Roald Dahl actually stating in his will that a film based off Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator could never be made.
  • The Billy Jack series of independent action films was never popular with critics but found an enormous audience among the '70s counterculture... at least, until Billy Jack Goes to Washington in 1977, a two-and-a-half-hour, hippie-era remake of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington which was deemed so bad that it couldn't get a wide theatrical release, even though series creator Tom Laughlin had pioneered this release strategy with the prior films. It was also a Creator Killer for Laughlin, who spent the rest of his life trying to get a fifth Billy Jack film out of Development Hell. (He came closest in 1985 with the Troubled Production of The Return of Billy Jack, which was never finished.)
  • The Airport franchise was finished off by the one-two punch of The Concorde: Airport '79 (titled as Airport '80: The Concorde in some territories), which was seen as little more than self-parody and is widely considered to be the weakest entry in the franchise, and the highly successful disaster parody Airplane!, the latter which also took down the disaster genre for some time.
  • The Nutcracker in 3D fared poorly enough at the box office that the very property became box office poison to the point where even several years later, Disney's vastly superior adaptation also bombed.
  • The film adaptations of romance novelist Nicholas Sparks' books were never popular with critics, but they nonetheless earned a substantial fandom in the 2000s and 2010s, especially with the decline of the Romantic Comedy genre during that time making Sparks the standard bearer for big-screen romance. 2004's The Notebook, Sparks' Breakthrough Hit as both an author and in film, is now remembered as one of the greatest romantic films of the 2000s. However, Sparks adaptations quickly hit diminishing returns around the mid-2010s, with The Last Straw coming with 2016's The Choice. Made on only a fraction of the budget of a typical Sparks adaptation ($10 million, whereas in the past they got budgets of $20-30 million), this still wasn't enough to make it a success, and no further adaptations of Sparks' books have been made.
  • The Halloweentown series of Disney Channel Original Movies was killed by its fourth installment, Return to Halloweentown in 2006. The film met bad publicity right out of the gate when it recast the series' protagonist Marnie, replacing Kimberly J. Brown with Sara Paxton even though a) Brown was available and b) Paxton looked nothing like her. This turned out to be the first in a series of questionable casting decisions, particularly an expansion of Lucas Grabeel's role from the previous film, a move that seemed designed purely to cash in on his newfound stardom from High School Musical. The writing was also seen as reflective of the Disney Channel's Network Decay, tilting away from the family comedy of the prior three films and straight into the Girl-Show Ghetto. While the film garnered the strongest ratings of any film in the series, its poor reception by fans ensured that no new Halloweentown films would be made, and the death of Debbie Reynolds (who played the key supporting character Aggie) in 2016 merely poured more dirt over the grave.
  • Shaft in Africa came out amidst a glut of Blaxploitation films, many of them ironically cashing in on the success of the first two Shaft films, whereupon it met mixed reviews and became a Box Office Bomb. Afterwards, Shaft was shoved over to CBS' Tuesday Night Movies block, where low ratings meant that it only lasted a single season. It was nearly thirty years before a new Shaft film was made, by which point the franchise was old enough to have become nostalgic.