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Franchise Zombie

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Bart: Hey, Dad. How come they're taking The Cosby Show off the air?
Homer: Because Mr. Cosby wanted to stop before the quality suffered.
Bart: Quality, schmality! If I had a TV show, I'd run that sucker into the ground!
Homer: Amen, boy. Amen.

Franchises are often created with tender loving care by writers, directors, authors, game designers, etc. These individuals have something specific in mind, and put a lot of life into their creations, and it really shows, especially when the creation becomes very popular.

But sometimes the creation does so well that an executive, publisher or someone else with a lot of power demands that the franchise continue. The author is told to write more books (or discovers that nothing else draws in the money). The game designer is told to make more games. The director is told to make a movie sequel. The comic book artist is told to draw more comics.

Sometimes this happens when the creator really doesn't want to keep going and would rather try out different things. But the creator doesn't have much choice — it's either do the sequel yourself or let someone else do it, perhaps less adequately (thereby tarnishing the image of the original) — and keeps going anyway. Sometimes, the new installments manage to be well received, and the fans stay happy. But sometimes, it results in a lifeless franchise, a franchise that has had all the originality and creativity — all the life — sucked out of it, but keeps stumbling forward anyway. This often has the tragic effect of souring the creator on their own work, sometimes preventing a more natural follow-up or continuation. If this happens, then the franchise can go on indefinitely, continued by the company long after the creator has tried to put a definitive end on the series and backed away from it permanently — or even after the creator has died. At this point, since it is effectively immortal, the phenomenon might be known as a Franchise Zombie.

Of course, this can only be taken so far (about 15 or 20 years, let's say) before Comic-Book Time becomes necessary in the work's universe. If things get really out of hand, a Continuity Reboot is the only way out.

Increasingly common in the game industry. Modern games take such a large amount of time and money to develop compared to older games, thus making Smash Hit 3 and a new intellectual property at the same time unfeasible. Some developers have remedied this by buying or hiring other development companies to work on cash-in sequels while they work on their next big thing.

A Sub-Trope of Executive Meddling (and sometimes Cash-Cow Franchise). See also Trilogy Creep, Sequelitis, and Postscript Season. Often results in Seasonal Rot and Only the Creator Does It Right, but if the right people are given the reins these tropes can be avoided. Compare Capcom Sequel Stagnation (a different style of milking) and Ashcan Copy (where a work containing the bare minimum aspect of a franchise is quickly and cheaply produced for the sole purpose of preserving the copyright to it). Contrast Cosmic Deadline, which is when a work is ended unexpectedly and forces the creator to come up with a messy and often unsatisfying conclusion for the story.

Can frequently lead to Creator Backlash and/or Later-Installment Weirdness. Outlived Its Creator is the pinnacle of this trope. Contrast with Franchise Killer and Torch the Franchise and Run. Often a source of Fanon Discontinuity, with fans pretending that the series did end when the creator wanted it to. See also Undead Horse Trope.

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Real life:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Series. It was intended to end after one season but continued to run until 2023, though it has had its ups and downs since the original series. There's also the movies, which currently number in the twenties. Not helping matters is that the movies continued to mechanically follow the same formula over time even as the main anime's writing and animation were kicked up a notch. It says something when the announcement of Pokémon: I Choose You!, a nostalgia-based Milestone Celebration movie that also doubles as a Continuity Reboot, was one of the most surprising things revealed for the franchise in years.
  • Mazinger Z was supposed to wrap up at episode 57. However, the series was so wildly successful it continued for another thirty-five episodes. And then two movies were made. And two sequels. And more movies. And crossovers. And spin-offs. And reboots. And remakes. And Go Nagai stated that he got offers for a Mazinger-Z live-action movie…
  • Kazuki Takahashi, creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!, was very apprehensive about the idea of a show after GX, and when he created characters and concepts for Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, it was under the condition that 5D's would be the last one, and he deliberately refused to have input on it. As of this writing, there have been four shows since 5D's, and Takahashi's direct input on the anime seems to have ceased after Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, with his major contributions since then consisting of various art pieces and some work on the films.
  • Urusei Yatsura got to the point where one of the movies not-too-subtly encouraged the audience to let go of it so that Rumiko Takahashi could get on with her life.
  • Naoko Takeuchi intended for the manga of Sailor Moon to end after the Dark Kingdom arc, but the producers for the anime persuaded her to continue. By the time you reach the Stars arc, Takeuchi's frustration is nearly palpable. The villains are, respectively, the Sailor Guardians of the Milky Way Galaxy and the force of pure Chaos, as if Takeuchi is daring her producers to tell her to "top that."
  • Fist of the North Star was originally planned to wrap up with the conclusion of the Raoh saga. However, due to its popularity, the manga was renewed for a couple more years, forcing authors Buronson and Tetsuo Hara to continue the story beyond its intended conclusion. Even Buronson admitted that it was hard for him to continue writing the manga after killing off Raoh and doesn't remember much of what happened afterward.
  • Monkey Punch originally intended for Lupin III to be another one of his adult parody manga series that only lasted a few chapters like most of his past works. However, Weekly Manga Action, the magazine that serialized it, started selling like hotcakes because of this and led to him continuing the manga for five years. Afterwards, TV series, movies and specials have kept the franchise going continuously. Even Monkey Punch himself expressed complete surprise over the series' sudden popularity. This hasn't stopped him from continuing to work on it with subsequent sequel manga, though.
  • Gundam is a very odd example. Creator Yoshiyuki Tomino didn't expect it to go beyond the original Mobile Suit Gundam, especially after it was nearly cancelled. However, its runaway success in reruns (and especially the recut movie trilogy) led to its becoming an overnight success, and for over a decade he continued to work on sequels. In 1994, fed up with Executive Meddling, Tomino sold the rights to the franchise to Sunrise and went off to work on other series. Not willing to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, Sunrise started producing the Alternate Universe series (like Gundam Wing and Gundam SEED), while occasionally dipping back into the Universal Century timeline. As of its 34th anniversary in 2013, Gundam consisted of 12 TV series, 7 OVAs, and 13 movie adaptations note , and God only knows how many manga, video games and other media, and it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.

    It's become something of a popular fandom myth that Tomino hates Gundam and has actively tried to sink it for years, usually attributed to his reputation for killing numerous characters. In the novelization of the original series, Tomino actually kills off main character Amuro Ray; however, he explained that he was just thinking of the novels as a stand-alone story, and if he had given consideration the possibility of a sequel, he wouldn't have killed Amuro.

    This myth was reportedly debunked by the man himself when he momentarily returned to direct ∀ Gundam and later the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam movie trilogy. During either of these two points, Tomino all but outright admitted that Gundam was his greatest creation and that, while he has some regrets, he still takes certain pride in its development. Along that line, it should be noted that either of the two series are a dramatic switch from usual Tomino storytelling methods, with Turn A being a more lighthearted character drama and the Zeta trilogy omitting many of the darker elements of the original series, which included replacing the ending with a far happier one where Kamille wasn't mentally crippled by Scirocco, the AEUG remains intact and Axis never goes to war with the Earthsphere. The latter even closes with an optimistic dialogue spoken by Sayla Massnote .
  • Case Closed was originally meant to end at two volumes. Since the manga is now approaching 100 volumes and the anime is a Cash-Cow Franchise for TMS, it definitely didn't go the way the author thought it would.
  • K-On! ended fairly definitively with the graduation of the original club members and the anime followed suit. However the following year (2011) a movie was released. The manga author, Kakifly, also started a new series of manga chapters (dividing the story between the original four's college experience and Azusa's role as club leader of the high school Light Music Club). The restarted manga is accused of being a zombie that only exists to feed off the movie's buzz (it was often said to be of lower quality compared to the original run, and its abrupt ending after two volumes only added credence to that notion).
  • Cyborg 009 was intended to only be one arc long, even killing the main character. However it proved so popular that Shotaro Ishinomori retconned Joe into surviving, and was still working on the series at the time of his death. His son later completed the original manga using notes he left behind, but animated adaptations, reboots, and expansions are still being made.

  • The Hillman Avenger, a sedan and stationwagon produced in the United Kingdom by Chrysler, then Rootes-Chrysler, went through three different badges in its lifetime, Hillman from 1970 to 1976, Chrysler from 1976 to 1979, and then Talbot from 1979 to 1981 (when PSA Peugeot-Citroen bought the rights to Chrysler Europe and lost the rights to the Chrysler name) and Sunbeam Avenger in Scandinavia. Incidentally, things would come full circle when PSA Peugeot Citroen merged with Stellantis. But that's not the end of the story; in 1982, when the design was 22 years old, it continued until 1991, after Volkswagen Argentina bought the tooling and rights, badging it the Volkswagen 1500, which was available with a 1.5-litre and a 1.8-litre engine, and not a 1.5-litre only as the cubic capacity nameplate suggested. about it here, for those interested. However, it couldn't compete with the then-new Ford Sierra, Chevrolet Monza and Toyota Corona in Argentina, which were more modern and safer to drive, and even Chrysler's own Chrysler Spirit sedan which launched a year later, as some Volkswagen 1500s were sold into 1992 that were surplus stock.
  • Vauxhall had this problem from 2002 to 2005 when some dealers were selling grey import Opel Vectra B models imported from Egypt, which were the previous generation, at a time when they were trying to heavily promote the new-generation Vectra C. In Egypt, a previous generation continuing for a while isn't a bad thing for cash-strapped new car buyers in a market where there isn't as much choice for marques, but British buyers preferred the newer car, and many ended up re-exported by Egyptian expats. In Egypt, the car continued for 3 years after production ended for the UK market.

    Comic Books 
  • Suske en Wiske: The most successful comic book series in the Dutch-speaking world started off in 1945. Quality wise the first twenty years were the best stories. In 1972 the original creator, Willy Vandersteen, left the series in hands of his successors, who failed to duplicate the quality of the originals, but nevertheless the stories kept on selling. After Vandersteen's death in 1990 the creative control vanished and the series itself quickly went downhill. As of today, new stories are still published, but apart from the main characters it has deviated enormously from the original concept. The main reason it still sells today is because of the sheer volume of work and the enthusiastic collectors who keep buying every issue. Virtually every Suske en Wiske fan agrees: it's not what it used to be at all.
  • X-Men (2019): Hickman changed the status quo of the X-Men franchise, moving the cast from Xavier's mansion to the living island of Krakoa, and forming their own mutant nation. This came with many changes, such as working with their former enemies, more political intrigue, Resurrections Protocols to bring back the dead, and mutants succeeding instead of being hunted to extinction. Originally, the Krakoa era was meant to be a temporary thing, and only expanded if the idea proved popular, with Hickman having a planned story to tell. Seeds were already planted for various ways to end the era and reset the status quo, as well as plot points that were going to be expanded to move the overall narrative forward. However, the Krakoa era ended up being so popular with fans and writers that Hickman's plans had to be changed to accommodate the extended stay. The era would go on to outlast its creator, who would leave three years after coming aboard, rushing a conclusion that also threw in some things that were very clearly meant to be set up later.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Land Before Time is on its fourteenth installment (and Don Bluth was only involved with the first). The first movie is widely regarded as a classic. The second movie, and every movie thereafter, was pretty obviously a cash-grab. That makes 13 straight movies of pure zombie, and the only reason they've so far stopped there is because Universal pulled the plug on their animation department.
  • After the Lilo & Stitch franchise's original finale film Leroy & Stitch aired in 2006, the franchise has managed to receive two more Spin-Off TV shows, both of which take place in the countries where those shows are produced after the events of the original franchise and see Stitch get separated from Lilo to become besties with other human girls. Then in 2020, this further included a manga Spin-Off where Stitch ends up in feudal Japan and befriends an adult male warlord instead, and by the following year, Disney rebranded the franchise to have it revolve all around Stitch due to his Wolverine Publicity, to the point where only a handful of characters other than him get regular merchandise, and the other characters are more often included with him instead of being on their own. Original film writer-director (and Stitch's creator and original voice actor) Chris Sanders had no involvement with the franchise after he left Disney in 2007, and even then, he only did voice acting work in the sequel films, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, and other Spin-Off media (including crossover Disney projects made after he left the company); he had no intention of making anything else past the one film. Meanwhile, audiences who did see the Asian spin-offs were put off by Stitch being without Lilo—though both shows did get their share of fans.

  • Ian Fleming first intended to conclude the James Bond series with Bond's death in From Russia with Love. He backed out and made Dr. No (which declares the poisoning was non-fatal). Then there was Bond's amnesia at the end of You Only Live Twice, but the publishers' pressures led to the writing of one final novel before Fleming's death, The Man with the Golden Gun - which wound up published eight months after his death. According to certain rumors, Fleming didn't even write the whole book, and Kingsley Amis (who later wrote Colonel Sun) completed it.
  • Rev. W. Awdry originally intended for book 12, The Eight Famous Engines, in his famous Railway Series books to be the final volume. The publishers insisted that he keep going. Considering how popular the books were and are, it's understandable.
  • Michael Crichton intended for his 1990 novel Jurassic Park to be a standalone work. After its film adaptation, which he helped write the screenplay for, became a huge financial success, its creators pressured him to write a follow-up book so they could make a sequel film. Crichton reluctantly agreed and published The Lost World (1995) in 1995, which retconned a lot of the plot points from the original novel Jurassic Park to match the ways in which the film's plot had departed from it (including bringing back a character from the dead). After The Lost World was published, Crichton had no involvement in the Jurassic Park film franchise, which carried on despite his death in 2008. This is further elaborated on in the film section.
  • The success of Goosebumps led publisher Scholastic to bet everything they had on it and tell author R.L. Stine to keep going. He did, and the quality suffered. The books ended up Strictly Formula and became shorter. Their popularity dropped as a result. It's been rumored that Stine became so fed up with this that many of the later books were ghostwritten.note 
  • Sherlock Holmes died because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had grown tired of writing him and wanted to devote more time to his historical novels. Public and editorial pressure forced him to bring Holmes back. In stories written years later, Holmes reappeared, having survived (although the first story published after Conan Doyle's eight-year hiatus, "The Hound of the Baskervilles", was set before "The Final Problem"). This is thus also an example of a (metaphorical) character zombie. (Though Doyle's fatigue doesn't show in the writing quality until after, in 1917, Holmes was given a proper Grand Finale and it still wasn't enough to keep the fanbase from howling for more.)
  • Maurice Leblanc tried to kill his hero Arsčne Lupin but had to resurrect him for several new books due to popularity.
  • Another French writer, Pierre Ponson du Terrail, pulled a "Doyle" when he killed off his pulp hero Rocambole, then eventually brought him back from the dead due to public pressure.
  • L. Frank Baum of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fame never really intended for the original book to spawn a series, and by the third sequel he was growing tired of writing about the Land of Oz. Unfortunately, none of his other books sold. He even tried creating something of a Backdoor Pilot by writing an Oz novel in which Dorothy and company take a backseat to a new set of characters who later showed up in an unrelated book. But it didn't work, and financial troubles forced Baum to keep writing Oz books for the rest of his life. In the introduction to one book, the narrator actually tells the reader that he knows many stories not related to Oz, and wishes he had a chance to tell them. Even Baum's death could not stop the series the author himself didn't want to continue. A sequence of different authors were hired by Baum's publisher to serve as his "heirs", and for the next six decades, many sequels (24 or so of these were considered 'canon') were churned out, of greatly varying quality.
  • Alan Garner acheived literary fame on the basis of two fantasy novels aimed at older children/young adults, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. He went on to write a long list of books he considered had far more literary merit and worth, and if he didn't actually hate his first two published works, he certainly disdained them. He was certainly annoyed with fans of the first two books who demanded and asked and pleaded for more involving the characters of Colin and Susan (the child protagonists). He made his deep dislike of the books, their premise, and their characters, very clear indeed by taking fifty years to write Boneland, the very long-awaited successor to Brisingamen and Gomrath. In this book Colin has grown up into an over-educated depressive and borderline sociopath with mental health issues, and Susan apparently drowned herself one night when chasing after elves in the starlight. Boneland is pessimistic, chilly, dark and noir and bleak - with none of the magic or optimism of the books it succeeds. Colin may die on a hospital operating table after ECT for his mental health problems (the book is ambiguous on this). Garner very emphatically answered the fans' request for more by providing exactly the opposite to what they wanted, and by killing off the beloved lead characters. And a lot of the supporting cast.
  • Thomas Harris only wrote Hannibal Rising because Dino De Laurentiis threatened to make a Hannibal origins story without his involvement. Given both the book and movie were poorly received, it's hard to see him being forced to do this again. Then there's the television Hannibal, which adds original material but mostly tries to stay in the few years prior to and including Red Dragon.
  • R.A. Salvatore has been said to have wished that he had killed Drizzt Do'Urden off years ago. In fact, he had once withdrawn from the franchise only to have Wizards of the Coast go so far as to solicit a manuscript by another author for a new Drizzt novel, Shores of Dusk. The novel even appeared in catalogs for an August 1997 release. Salvatore caved and the solicited novel disappeared. That was ten novels ago.
  • Even dying hasn't stopped V. C. Andrews, who's still publishing in 2020 despite having died in 1986. It's like the Stratemeyer Syndicate, but with an author's real name.
  • Winnie the Pooh. Supposedly, Milne wanted to kill Pooh off, but that failed. He hated the series because it made people ignore his adult works. It was even harder when it was picked up by Disney.
  • Regarding Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels; Trojan Odyssey shows every sign of being the last book. Pitt, Gunn, and Giordino are promoted to desk jobs while Sandecker becomes VP. Long-running subplots are finally resolved with Dirk marrying Loren and finally recognizes the strange man named Clive Cussler he meets at the wedding as the stranger that helps him every adventure, and he is introduced to his adult children he never knew about. This was six books ago.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers is an interesting case in that she zombie'd her own franchise with no help from publishers whatsoever (though they were undoubtedly grateful that she did). She originally wrote Strong Poison, introducing the character of novelist Harriet Vane, because she was tired of Lord Peter Wimsey and wanted to get rid of him by marrying him off — at the time it was held that a detective-series hero could not be married without breaking the 'rules' of the genre. However, when Sayers finished drafting the novel she realized that in Harriet she had created a character with more integrity and interior reality than her series hero had, so she had to go back and write almost as many novels again featuring Lord Peter before he reached a point of psychological complexity and reality enough that she could feel comfortable letting Harriet marry him. She then wrote a novel about their honeymoon and had plans to continue the series further, but moved onto other projects and never completed the next manuscript. The next manuscript was completed much later, in true Franchise Zombie fashion, by Jill Paton Walsh, who then proceeded to add three novels of her own to the series.
  • David Morrell's novel First Blood featured a former Vietnam veteran John Rambo, who is shot in the back of his head with a shotgun at the end of the novel. Rambo dies, period. Then they changed the ending in the Stallone movie and Rambo survived. David Morrell then went on and wrote the second and third Rambo novels that were based on the movies. He even stated in the beginning of his second Rambo novel that in his original book Rambo died, but the new book is based on a movie and now Rambo lives (a change for which, in the DVD commentary for the first movie, Morrell gives his approval). A sort of disappointing moment to the author to write novelizations based on a movie based on his own original book.
  • The end of the film adaptation of Jack Ketchum's Offspring was changed specifically so that the breakout character would survive and be able to appear in the sequel, The Woman, co-written by Ketchum and director (of The Woman, not Offspring) Lucky McKee.
  • Something similar happened with the House Of Cards novels. Both of the first two books end with Urquhart defeated (in the first he jumps to his death on being exposed, on the second he is left facing an election defeat), only for the TV adaptations to end with him triumphant (throwing the journalist who would have exposed him to his death and easily winning an election). The books then carry on from the TV version instead of the earlier books.
  • It's easy to notice the numerous times John D. Fitzgerald tried to end The Great Brain books. The first and longest book ends with Tom suddenly reforming out of nowhere, but the second book reveals this was just a ruse to get a new bicycle for Christmas. That book ends with Tom being Put on a Bus to the Academy in Salt Lake City, and the third book focuses on John getting a new adopted brother and saving him from an outlaw, while the fourth focuses on Tom's adventures at the Academy, and the fifth focuses on Tom's adventures upon returning home after his first year. That book ends with Tom being put on "trial" and told all the kids in the town will give him the silent treatment if he swindles anyone again. But then came a sixth and seventh book, which placed an academy right there in Adenville (avoiding rehashing the fourth book) and having Tom get sneakier at his plots so as to avoid invoking his suspended sentence. The seventh book ends with Tom turning thirteen and... um... "discovering girls", losing interest in his old plots, and even that book seems to leave the door open for yet more sequels at the very end (though Fitzgerald died before he could finish them).
  • Anne McCaffrey said that Pern began as a short story and took on a life of its own. "One million words later, I'm not allowed to stop!"
  • Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy lasted five books. Life, the Universe and Everything and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish were actually meant to be the end of the series. The latter had mixed reviews and was more noted for the absence of Zaphod and Trillian than it was for the introduction of a new character, Fenchurch. The following book, Mostly Harmless, actually was the end, but more complained about the introduction of unlikeable character Random (Arthur and Trillian's daughter) than complained about the Downer Ending. Many wonder if this was Adams' way of getting back at fans who couldn't let go of the series. Adams also noted that the hard part of creating Hitchhiker's sequels was contriving a way to bring all the characters back together due to their tendency to go separate ways after each story. Many hardcore fans feel that he either lost interest in the series or said all that there was to say in the first two or three books. Eoin Colfer (of Artemis Fowl fame) wrote a sixth book, And Another Thing... that undid the ending of the fifth. Many hardcore Adams fans simply chose not to read this book.
  • The formula of the Anne of Green Gables series was already getting thin as early as Anne of Avonlea, with the introduction of new adoptees Davy and Dora, and L. M. Montgomery firmly intended to end the series with Rilla of Ingleside in 1921, following a dispute with her publisher. Instead, the success of a 1934 movie adaptation of the original book persuaded her to write two Interquels - Anne of Windy Poplars (1936), Anne of Ingleside (1939) - over a decade after their predecessors, and three decades after the first book.
  • Warrior Cats was originally only going to be one book, Into the Wild. It became a trilogy, which later turned into a six-book series. These books did so well that the publisher requested a sequel trilogy, which was later expanded into a full six-book arc. Followed by, let's see, four additional arcs (with yet another arc confirmed by Word of God), ten super editions, five guidebooks, thirteen mangas, and twelve novellas. And counting.
  • Agatha Christie continued writing novels and stories featuring Hercule Poirot well into the 1970s, by which point the quality of the works and Christie's interest in the character had waned - and by which point the character was well over a hundred years old. Christie's death in 1976 followed Poirot's death a year earlier in Curtain, but then in 2014, the first of a series of authorized novels by Sophie Hannah was published.
  • Gregory Mcdonald had intended to end the Fletch series at 1986's Fletch, Too which is even described as the final installment in the inside cover. However, he would relent and write two further novels in the 90's co-starring Fletch's illegitimate son, after which the series would end for real. When asked about his feelings about this trope in a 2002 interview, Mcdonald would state the following:
    I’ve told my family and so forth that if, after I kick the bucket, somebody takes over writing Fletches and Flynns under my name or in conjunction with my name or as a franchise, I will come back from the grave and twist their heads off.
  • The Monogatari Series has been accused of this, what with the light novels seemingly releasing their conclusion in the aptly-named Owarimonogatari (End Story) and its epilogue Zoku-Owarimonogatari, only for more books to continue releasing, which have been criticized for reducing Koyomi and Hitagi's previously well-characterized relationship into a plot device, rehashing plots from earlier volumes, and flanderizing its returning characters. The fact that none of the light novels post-Owarimonogatari have been animated certainly doesn't help with this perception.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has been accused of this—the original web novel ended at two volumes with Nicol's graduation and the end of the year party where the characters promise to stay friends forever, and the anime follows suit by only adapting up to that point. However, the web novel proved so popular that when it was published in print, the series continued after that point. The later light novel volumes have been criticized for all relying on the same plot where Catarina meets a new character and inadvertently fixes their personal problems and causes them to fall in love with her, and for Ship Tease of Catarina and Geordo at the expense of every other pairing, when the earlier volumes were even-handed about teasing Catarina with all her possible love interests equally. When, due to the success of the anime adaptation, another season was made covering the light novel-original material, even professional reviewers who didn't have knowledge of the source material noted the step down in quality and how much it felt like a Postscript Season.

  • Taylor Swift's Live from Clear Channel Stripped 2008' released in 2020 was recorded during the 2008 promotional tour of Fearless and was released by Swift's old label Big Machine Record (whom she had a huge and public falling out regarding the right of the masters of her albums during the time she was with them, one of which is Fearless) without her permission. She completely denounced the album and called it "tasteless" and "shameless greed in the time of coronavirus".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield is a prime example of this trope. While Jim Davis, the creator of the comic, maintains creative control and signs the strips, he now only does the writing and rough sketches while his assistants do the inking and coloring. This is due to the fact that Jim Davis now spends most of his time supervising production and merchandising his characters through his company Paws, Inc. And as of 2016 he is currently an adjunct professor at Ball State University, his alma mater, meaning that he will most likely devote less time to his strip he created forty years ago.
  • Dennis the Menace (US) is a victim of this. Hank Ketcham debuted the strip in 1951, and in 1994 he retired and handed it off to Ron Ferdinand and Marcus Hamilton. Since then, the character has become the Trope Namer for Menace Decay. Where Dennis was once a hyperactive terror with a mean streak who adults genuinely disliked (and for good reason!), the current iteration of the character has more in common with the kids in The Family Circus.
  • Judge Parker fell victim to this in the last decade or so. While it always had a rather unrealistic focus on crime fighting it was still at heart a legal drama focusing on the titular Judge Parker and later attorney Sam Driver. The current writer (introduced in 2016) has no working knowledge of the legal system and refuses to write courtroom scenes because, as he said in an NPR interview, quote, “courtroom scenes are boring,” unquote. In a legal drama.

  • Super Soaker has been this ever since Hasbro disbanded Larami in 2002 and put its Nerf team in charge of the Super Soaker brand.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney franchise was originally intended by Shu Takumi to end with the third entry, Trials and Tribulations back in 2004. As of this writing, there has since been three mainline entries and several spin-offs following it and the franchise shows no signs of stopping in the near future. The games after Trials and Tribulations, while not regarded to be bad, are largely regarded as being inferior to the original trilogy by many fans and critics.

    Web Animation 
  • Neurotically Yours started in 2003 and for 8 years, the series was about Germaine struggling with her life and her own self while Foamy belittled her for being stupid and ranted on about the current idiotic problems in the world. The series was starting to show it was becoming stale after a while, but the creator was making money off of the show and needed the show to keep running since he had to make a living somehow. Rather than keep the show strictly formula, the creator decided to give the series a reboot to introduce new storylines and new characters in order to keep the series fresh.
  • Red vs. Blue is a complicated case, given what was just 6 episodes became 10, then a 19 episode season, which just kept going, all on the creator's choosing; Rooster Teeth have stated that as long as people want and watch the show, it will continue (neatly summed up by Creator Burnie Burns concluded the ongoing plot on Season 10, while having already decided to let one of the season's writers, Miles Luna, become the new showrunner. Miles was responsible for a new and popular story arc, The Chorus Trilogy, that ended with such a Grand Finale that he couldn't find a way to properly follow that, leading to instead supervise an anthology season that would also serve to find who would continue the story. The chosen one, Joe Nicolosi, wrote two divisive seasons, that still led to a well-liked arc closer, Singularity, under another writer and other directors. But then came a point where what could just be another Passing the Torch instead made fans think it was not the same show they followed, as amid restructurings at Rooster Teeth, where Burnie and Miles left, and co-founder Joel Heyman, who also voiced the show's most popular character, was fired, the old characters were mostly ditched (only three appear) by the crew who took on season 18, Zero, which to make matters worse was very poorly received, often considered the worst season.

  • Abnormality talks about "The Zombie Years" that TV shows that go on for too long enter into in "The Complete Series: The Lifespan of a TV Show":
    Beyond the 7th Season: The Zombie Years
    - Should it continue to air, the show will degenerate into a frightful, shambling corpse — a mocking funhouse mirror reflection of what it once was, existing only to ghoulishly maintain the careers/merchandising empire of its sinister creators.
    - The characters are almost unrecognizable from their original incarnations, now merely grotesque, unthinking husks — their personalities long since removed for easier manipulation.
    - Each season beyond the 7th cancels out one of the earlier good seasons in terms of the show's overall legacy — 14 or more seasons rendering a show essentially undead.
    - If a given show is not gracefully canceled or otherwise brought to rest when its lifespan has clearly expired, the best thing to do is get a group of friends together, arm yourselves to the teeth with shotguns and chainsaws, and corner the offending production staff in a parking garage where they can be messily dispatched for the good of civilization. Either that or stop watching the show.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic's Doug Walker ended his long running web series in order to finally begin his next major project: Demo Reel. As he felt it was his "dream project", Doug invested every dime he had into production only for it to fail in view counts. That Guy with the Glasses struggled with the loss of viewers who stopped visiting the website with Critic gone. Demo Reel was then recast as a purgatory type state of being that would bring the Nostalgia Critic back. In his "Review Must Go On" commentary, Doug talked about how making Donnie Critic was to piss off demanding fans, reboot Critic has been literally called a zombie twice, and Welshy used his farewell to call out Doug for bowing down.
  • Invoked by SF Debris during his review of the infamous Star Trek: Enterprise episode "A Night In Sickbay": "And yet it's still coming! It won't stop! How do you kill a Star Trek show that's already dead?!"
  • Epic Meal Time has various spin offs run by the members of the crew just so it isn't stale (and to be fair, they always said they were in it for the money). Despite the departure of the beloved Muscles Glasses and fans complaining it isn't as fun as it used to be, the show still goes on.


    Anime & Manga 
  • Little Witch Academia has the Nightfall series, a thinly-veiled parody of the Twilight series. Thanks to a constant succession of authors using the same pen name (and the same sentient pen), it's been going for 120 years at a rate of three books per year. While it's still pretty popular, the most recent books have attracted enough criticism that the twelfth and current writer has decided to quit the series, though even she opts to pass the torch to Lotte rather than end Nightfall entirely.

    Comic Books 
  • In Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, the Robert E. Howard knockoff plots to kill off his creation once and for all. Unfortunately for him, his creation comes to life and abducts him.
  • In The Multiversity, the Gentry use the power of the Anti-Death Equation to keep Nix Uotan alive so they can corrupt him, a likely allusion to companies refusing to let go of concepts they can squeeze profit out of.
  • MAD Magazine had its "instant movie reviews", where by taking letters from the name they managed to spell out a brief review. ThE LaNd BefOre Time IV: JOUrney ThrouGH The Mist gives us "ENOUGH". Since said movie is on number fourteen and counting, it's pretty evident they didn't listen.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Weaver Option Admiral claims that the Terminator films kept trying to reinvent themselves to stay current with changes in AI technology but largely failed and stopped being any good be M4, two thousand years after the original.
  • Square Root of Minus Garfield's the "Garfield in 2053" series imagines a future in which the comic is still continuing long after Jim Davis is dead, but the current editor refuses to put any effort into it, letting it devolve into a Cut and Paste Comic in which recycled strips are reinterpreted with a single image of Garfield.

  • Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, "Author! Author! (1964)", about a mystery writer forced by his publisher to write endless novels about his famous detective, Reginald de Meister, despite his desire to write a serious novel. Unfortunately for him, De Meister seems so real to fans that he actually becomes real and demands not only that more "Reginald de Meister" stories be written, but that the quality be improved.
  • In Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun, author Appin Dungannon is enslaved to writing sequels to a series of Conan-wannabe novels despite wanting recognition as a serious author because the first few were so popular. As a result, the author is cantankerous and rude to sci-fi fans in general, and violent towards fans of his own books. He comes to hate his barbarian hero so much that he writes several humiliating death scenes for the character.
  • In Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, Martin Silenus could have ended The Dying Earth more or less immediately after the first installment, a long poem. He keeps going for the money. Eventually, it leads to him "losing his muse", and spending the next several decades looking for it.
  • Stephen King's Misery. The main character of the novel is so fed up of the trashy Victorian-esque novels he writes, he conclusively kills off the main character of the books he writes. Then he crashes his car and gets taken in by a huge fan of his... who ties him to a bed and forces him to write another sequel, making him have to resurrect the extremely dead character. It actually turns out to be the best book in the series. He takes it with him and publishes it after he escapes.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has this as a major late-game reveal: within the world of V3, the previous installments in the Danganronpa franchise were the first of a very long series which transitioned from completely fictional to using real people with their memories manipulated. It turns out that V3 is a stylistic way of writing "53", with the current installment being the fifty-third in the franchise. The endgame boils down to stopping this from going on any longer than it already has.

Financial Gaaaaaiinnss....