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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 subtrope 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 reigns 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).


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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    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.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Stab series, the fictional film franchise that serves as an analogue to Scream within its universe. The first Stab was a fictionalized version of the events of the first Scream, and it's implied that Stab 2 (which is never seen) was based on the events of Scream 2. However, after Scream 3, which saw Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro experience a violently Troubled Production, Sidney Prescott sued the producers of Stab to prevent any further use of the characters. Unfazed, they continued on anyway with a new cast, and by Scream 4 there have been seven Stab films of declining quality, the series having dropped all pretense of being Based on a True Story; by the fifth film, they were throwing in Time Travel. Scream (2022) reveals the eighth Stab tried something different, but the results (which included Ghostface with a flamethrower!) wound up massively disliked. To the point the killers are Loony Fans slicing up Woodsboro so their killing spree can inspire a Stab movie hewing closer to the old ones.
  • Tropic Thunder: The Scorcher action film series, starring Tugg Speedman. Once a top box office but now a commercial and critical failure.
  • Back to the Future Part II: In 2015, there's Jaws 19 ("This time, it's really REALLY personal"). Shark still looks fake, though.
  • 22 Jump Street parodies this in the end credits gag which features increasingly bizarre sequel ideas, from 23 Jump Street: Med School to 29 Jump Street: Sunday School (in which Jonah Hill leaves and is replaced by Seth Rogen) to 2121 Jump Street (Recycled IN SPACE!).
  • A newscast seen within Spaceballs promises a review of Rocky 5000. While Spaceballs never quite establishes whether it's in the future or "a long time ago," it's a safe bet that 5000 movies in, the original creators are no longer the ones in charge.

  • Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, "Author! Author!", 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Castle. The main character is a writer who has got so tired of his creation that he has him shot in his last book. This causes angst with his publisher (an ex-wife).

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has this as a major late-game reveal: within the world of Danganronpa 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Animaniacs (2020), where billboards reference how the Looney Tunes franchise has become one to the point where a billboard displays a reboot featuring zombified versions of the characters.
  • J. D. Salinger defies this in Bojack Horseman on his wildly popular Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let's Find Out!, by canceling the show after just one season. His reasoning? "I told the story I wanted to tell." Not unreasonable... except that this is a trivia game show.
  • Back when she was known as Ralph, Rachel Bighead in Rocko's Modern Life was forced to create another show to get out of her contract, but she secretly detests it. Thus, she gets Rocko and his friends to create a terrible show, "Wacky Delly", to get kicked out of her contract. Unfortunately, it was a huge hit. The show goes on with her trying over and over to make it worse and worse, including having nothing but a jar of mayonnaise for 10 minutes on-screen, but it keeps getting more and more popular. It wasn't until she actually tried to make it better that it failed.

In real life:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Series. It was intended to end after one season, but has remained going to this very day, 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! 5D's, 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 Kill 'Em All. 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 first anime, 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 of a Postscript Season it felt like.

    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.

  • 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Land Before Time is on its fourteenth installment and counting (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.
  • 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 that 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 web manga Spin-Off where Stitch ends up in feudal Japan and befriends an adult male warlord instead. 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. 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—and what's left of the core fanbase have become desperate for a revival of the original continuity.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Highlander certainly fits the bill. Going from a cult classic film with a self-contained ending (the writers wriggled out this one by simply retconning everything), to a series of awesomely terrible sequels, TV spinoffs, cartoons and video games. One might argue that it was the least desired "franchise" of all time. A lot of mixed feelings toward Bill Panzer, the producer of Highlander who died in 2007. On the one hand, Highlander was definitely his baby: Panzer was very active in the Highlander fan circuit, and even appears in the DVD featurettes while revisiting old shooting locations from the TV show. The man clearly cared a lot about the Highlander 'verse and wanted it to succeed. On the other hand, his zeal in pushing for more, more, more Highlander was likely motivated by profit. By the time Highlander: The Source came around, all artistic merit had been drained from the series and nobody had a clue how to prolong the story. There's some hope that the Continuity Reboot starring Henry Cavill can infuse some merit in the live-action corner of the franchise again.
  • Planet of the Apes. Beneath the Planet of the Apes ends with an Earth-Shattering Kaboom that would prevent further sequels. Charlton Heston specifically requested this ending so he wouldn't have to do any more movies (he made two brief appearances in the sequel primarily as a "thank you" to 20th Century Fox). The third, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, uses time travel to continue in the present day instead of After the End, and had an ending that was originally only envisioned as a connection to the original movie instead of a Sequel Hook... but it then led to two more sequels (with the fifth being the absolute worst). And to make matters worse, the studio slashed the budget for every new movie! Only after the fifth movie bombed did Fox finally consent to Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain, so to speak. Of course, that didn't stop the franchise from continuing on TV (and eventually, returning to theaters with a remake, and then a reboot trilogy loosely based on Conquest and Battle but much better received).
  • Francis Ford Coppola had no intention of making any sequels to The Godfather. It's typically said that the only reason he made The Godfather Part II was to get the funding to make Apocalypse Now, which led to further executive pressure and a The Godfather Part III as well (hence the often-quoted line "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."). Part III in particular was not even intended to be a direct sequel—Coppola is on record for saying the film—which was originally titled The Death of Michael Corleone—was intended to be an epilogue to the first two films, as opposed to being a third Godfather installment.
  • The sixth entry in The Pink Panther franchise, Revenge of the Pink Panther, was essentially commissioned by United Artists just to have a big film for summer 1978. By the time it was done, the long-strained working relationship between Peter Sellers (Inspector Clouseau) and Blake Edwards (writer-director) had snapped. Sellers planned a continuation he could put his heart into with Romance of the Pink Panther, which he was co-scripting and Edwards was paid not to participate in, but the project died along with Sellers in 1980. Edwards decided to continue the series himself with a Replacement Scrappy character in Curse of the Pink Panther, which flopped instantly and led to the original franchise's death...
  • ZAZ has made it quite clear that they had no part or interest in the Airplane! sequel (in the first one's DVD commentary, they admit they've never even seen it), thinking that all of the good ideas had been used. Indeed, half the jokes in the sequel were recycled from the first film.
  • When his father died suddenly in 1956, Leo Gorcey decided he could no longer continue with the Bowery Boys movie series. (His father Bernard Gorcey played sweet shop owner Louie Dumbrowski in those movies.) The fact that Gorcey had top billing in the movies didn't prevent Republic from continuing the series, replacing Gorcey with Stanley Clements. The series limped along with seven flat movies before ending two years later.
  • Halloween
    • John Carpenter, in a 1982 interview, stated that Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis both died at the end of Halloween II (1981) and that he intended to make the series into an anthology "like The Twilight Zone but on a larger scale." After the financial flop of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Carpenter opted out of doing any more and signed away the rights to producer Moustapha Akkad, who quickly revived the original formula. Michael Myers went on to appear in five more films after his canon death, not counting the remakes.
    • Rob Zombie expressed disappointment at the studio's initial plans to resurrect Michael for a third remake film, despite his insistence that his Halloween II was the end of the franchise. In Rob's case, it ended up being a zigzagged trope, as although another Halloween was eventually greenlit, it's an alternate sequel to the original film, with no connection to the remakes.
  • Wes Craven wanted A Nightmare on Elm Street to be a single movie. Then when he returned to co-write the third film, he wanted that to be the last.
  • Jaws had three unremarkable sequels. The book's author Peter Benchley and Steven Spielberg had nothing to do with them (Benchley traded the potential sequel rights — "I don't care about sequels; who'll ever want to make a sequel to a movie about a fish?" — for cash payments; and Spielberg stated that "making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick", though Spielberg later admitted that he could have done Jaws 2 if he hadn't had a horrible time with the first). One article even said Jaws: The Revenge Stopped Numbering Sequels because "the studio wanted to hide the fact that ''Jaws: The Revenge'' was the fourth film in a franchise that never needed a second film."
  • Lethal Weapon 4 was made six years after the previous installment mainly because Warner Brothers was running into financial trouble and the series was just about the only Cash Cow Franchise it could count on to deliver a good box office return up until the smashing success of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. For its own credit, the film is a rare case of divisiveness approach instead of typical Fanon Discontinuity.
  • An example regarding only the main actor: Roger Moore wanted to stop playing James Bond after For Your Eyes Only, because it was getting embarrassing at his age to be shown with such young women (In his final appearance as Bond, he was older than the mother of the actress who played the primary Bond Girl), but United Artists kept dragging him back for one more.
  • The Poseidon Adventure was such a success that Irwin Allen decided it had to have a sequel, and commissioned the original book's author Paul Gallico to write a follow-up, even if it followed the movie's continuity due to a massive ending change (the novel has the Poseidon sinking, while the film ends with the ship capsized but still afloat). He died writing it, two years before Beyond the Poseidon Adventure hit book stores, and one prior to the badly received movie adaptation.
  • James Wan and Leigh Whannell wanted to end the Saw series with the third film, closing the book on Jigsaw and Amanda by killing them both off. However, with the first two films having been massive hits, Lionsgate viewed Saw as their new big horror franchise, and instead of decisively ending the series, Saw III featured several small moments designed to leave the door open for further sequels. Indeed, there were four films after that, with new killers taking up the Jigsaw mantle and Wan and Whannell only staying on as executive producers with no creative input. While the later Saw films range in quality, most fans view them overall as a step down from the first three, with the series producing diminishing returns at the box office after its peak with the third film.
  • The Terminator series was intended to end with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which conclusively finished off any chance of Skynet being brought into existence. James Cameron had interest in continuing, but no concrete ideas as he got busy with Titanic and the producers of T2 bought the franchise rights to make a third movie without him. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was one hell of a Contested Sequel, and yet made enough money to get people interested in making more - which unfortunadely wasn't the case with the follow-ups Terminator Salvation, Terminator Genisys, and lastly Terminator: Dark Fate, all underperforming enough to kill planned sequels (and the last one, being the first to get Cameron's input as writer and producer, was supposed to finally get things back on track, only to be a Franchise Killer instead).
  • While George Lucas did envision Star Wars as a nine-part saga at a certain point, he eventually settled for just six with the prequels giving the original trilogy a conclusive thematic endpoint. Then Disney bought Lucasfilm specifically to create a sequel trilogy.
  • Clive Barker signed the Hellraiser story and character rights to the production company before the first film, not realizing what a great success it would be. Hellbound: Hellraiser II still followed a story Barker wrote. The five follow-ups, not at all, and Barker even got mad at seeing his name being used to market the Ash Can Copy Hellraiser: Revelations.
  • The Jurassic Park franchise was never originally intended to be so. Only after the incredible success of the first film, was it turned into a series (see the Literature folder). The number of film adaptations (five and counting) now greatly outnumbers the books they're based on, outlived the original author, and deviate greatly from them in numerous aspects, while still picking out bits and pieces to use as scenes in each movie at random. None of the movie sequels are considered as good as the original film, with general reception ranging from passable but still inferior for the fourth film, mixed opinions for the second and fifth entries, to just plain bad for the third one (which was a Franchise Killer until the series was rebooted fourteen years later). Not helping this is the perceived devolution from trying to portray the dinosaurs as semi-realistic animals and keeping the science grounded, to just another generic action blockbuster that depicts the dinosaurs as plot-convenient movie monsters.
  • Air Bud is a memorable family basketball comedy about a dog that just wants to play basketball. It also had a pretty good sequel that came out the following year. Every sequel after that is direct-to-video and just has Buddy taking on yet another sport. Worse yet is the Air Buddies spinoff series starring Buddy's Talking Animal offspring. They have not only replaced the Buddy character entirely, but with seven different films, it's very clear it's nothing but another cash-grab series. The spinoff series even has a spinoff of its own in the form of the Santa Paws films.
  • There were more than twice as many Friday the 13th films after the one subtitled The Final Chapter (the fourth film in the franchise) than there were before it, such that it has become the butt of many jokes about sequelitis in the horror genre, many lampooning the fact that, from the sixth film onward, they literally brought Jason back as a Revenant Zombie. That said, the general consensus among fans is that, while the movies varied in quality before then, Friday's zombie period really started when New Line Cinema bought the rights to the franchise after it was killed by the eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan, having done so entirely to make a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street. During the Development Hell of what would become Freddy vs. Jason, New Line released two standalone Friday films; the first one, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, is regarded as an In Name Only sequel and one of the worst films in the series, while the second one, Jason X, is more a parody of the franchise than a serious continuation.
  • The Godzilla films were intended to be concluded with the 1968 Monster Mash Destroy All Monsters, set in the far future (of 1999), where the kaiju Big Bad King Ghidorah is finally killed and the monsters are all allowed to live out their days in peace. However, the box office success of the film led to a string of sequels (chronologically set before Destroy All Monsters) generally considered to be of significantly lower quality, even among the campy Showa Era films, beginning with the almost universally reviled All Monsters Attack, and the very wacky Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla vs. Gigan, and Godzilla vs. Megalon, although the last two films of the Showa Era, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla are considered to be a little better, particularly due to the introduction of the popular villain Mechagodzilla. And of course we know the franchise didn't even stop there, and now Destroy All Monsters only represents the quarter-mark in the series.
  • David Cronenberg only ever intended Scanners to be a single film (and it's amazing that film even saw the light of day, given its Troubled Production). Christian Duguay took over and made Scanners II: The New Order and Scanners III: The Takeover about a decade later. The protagonist of 2 is apparently the son of the protagonist of the first film, but that's where the connection ends; the third film onwards feature entirely unrelated characters. This spawned yet another duo of spinoff movies, Scanner Cop and Scanner Cop II. Exploding heads and dueling telepaths are clearly just too awesome not to milk it for all it's worth.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Series suffered from this. After the Spider-Man Trilogy, Sony wanted a fourth movie made specifically to keep the rights from reverting to Marvel Studios, but director Sam Raimi left because he felt he wasn't given enough time to make the movie he wanted. So Sony opted for a full Continuity Reboot, and used it as a launchpad for obvious attempts to copy the Marvel Cinematic Universe's formula for a Modular Franchise with the small selection of Spider-Man-related material that they have the rights to. But with diminishing returns for the franchise and a few reviews for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 essentially using "franchise fatigue" to refer to this very trope, Sony eventually decided to cut the Amazing series short and instead strike a deal with Marvel to have Spider-Man join the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. (Though they're still trying to launch a separate Spider-Man-based franchise, starting with Venom, initially without the actual Spider-Man.)

  • 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 Arsène 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Law & Order ran for twenty years and maintained a fairly consistent groove throughout, thanks to a revolving cast and keeping the focus off — for the most part — its characters. The wheels finally started to come off when several cast members all left at once, and Sam Waterston's ADA was finally promoted to DA. The new cast didn't gel like the old cops and lawyers, and the show ended in 2010. Producer Dick Wolf has said in interviews that his intent was to make L&O run longer than Gunsmoke, but he later conceded that the series had "moved onto the history books". His other L & O series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, also receives cries of this and for similar reasons.
  • Smallville became one of these after season seven, when the original writers left and the name becomes an Artifact Title.
  • The 90's sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch was this. Lasting from 1996 to 2003, the series lasted beyond Sabrina's teenage years, and spun off two animated shows. The first animated series generally gets some sympathy, but the second does not.
  • Power Rangers creator Haim Saban considers the Disney era of his franchise (Power Rangers Wild Force to Power Rangers RPM) to be a personal zombie period to him, saying in his own words that "Disney did not develop the property and exploit it in the way that it deserves." Showrunner Jonathan Tzachor deems only Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to Power Rangers Wild Force as "counting", but then again, Jonathan's concept of canonicity is strange. note .
  • Reportedly, Chris Carter wanted to end The X-Files after the sixth or seventh season, but had to stick around with it because Fox threatened to keep making it, with or without him. This didn't stop him from making another movie years after the series had ended, and two miniseries years after that.
  • Norman Lear planned to end All in the Family after Season 8, with Mike and Gloria moving to California (thereby eliminating the intrafamilial conflict that was the heart of the show). But CBS ended up dangling a huge salary increase and production deal to Carroll O'Connor, and the show not only limped along for another season (without Lear), but was retooled as Archie Bunker's Place, which itself lasted four seasons.
  • John Cleese was reportedly frustrated about the later seasons of Monty Python's Flying Circus, as he felt they had used up all of their original ideas, but the rest of the team carried on for a single season of the show, which was renamed Monty Python.
  • The Office (US) is considered to have become this after the departure of Steve Carell, which led to Michael Scott, the boss of the office, being written out of the show. The series continued for two more seasons without its main character.
  • Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence wanted to end the series several times, but was forced to keep going.
    • The first time this happened was after Season 6. In an example of Tropes Are Not Bad this meant the show shrugged off what would have been a quite depressing ending for JD and Elliot into a much better Season 7 & 8, rebuilding their relationship and fixing it for good, complete with a fairytale Grand Finale as the final episode of Season 8.
    • Then instead of doing a proper Spin-Off, the executives kept the show as "Scrubs" for Season 9 despite a massive change of setting and major cast changes. Any executive with a brain would have distanced the Spin-Off more from the original, but they refused, and the "Med School" Post-Script Season was hated by the fanbase for ruining the show, many refused to watch it entirely and the show was finally cancelled.
  • The show Weeds started to become this as the creator always seemed to announce that the current season would be the last, only for Showtime to renew it midway through that season.
  • Anne Of Green Gables falls into this category. As he describes in the DVD featurette "Kevin Sullivan's Classic", producer/writer/director Kevin Sullivan only intended to do one mini-series adapting the original novel in 1985. Afterwards, the network pressured him to make a sequel, though he chose to only loosely adapt some later Anne novels rather than pick one for a close adaptation. Afterwards, demand remained high so inspired by a short story collection by LM Montgomery he created the long-running series Road to Avonlea. In 2000, more than a decade after the second mini-series, he reassembled the original cast for a wholly original, Darker and Edgier sequel set during World War I (completely messing up the continuity of both the first two movies and books). Sullivan couldn't let Anne rest, however, and brought her back in a near-fantasy animated reimagining, Anne: Journey to Green Gables in 2005 (which added a Disney-like villain to the story), and in 2008 he produced a live-action movie A New Beginning, now set in World War II as a middle-aged Anne reflects on her life before the events of the first movie. Fortunately, except for the animated film which has fallen into obscurity, the frequent revisits to Avonlea to Sullivan's credit are generally critically lauded and popular with viewers (if criticized by Kindred Spirits—the Anne equivalent of Trekkies).
  • Tony Garnett, producer of Between the Lines, publicly said that he felt the third and final series of the show fell into this trap when he was asked why he decided not to make a third season of his popular series This Life.
  • Supernatural:
    • Eric Kripke only intended the show to run for five seasons, which is why the fifth ends on what is, by all appearances, a Grand Finale involving the Winchesters averting Armageddon itself. It has since run for over twice that long, and season eleven was about God reconciling with his sister. There really isn't much room to maneuver on the Super Weight tier chart.
    • The show officially came to an end with its fifteenth season. The final Big Bad? God himself. Yeah.
  • Word of God has stated in various sources that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was meant to end with season 5. It had a very distinct ending that pretty much closed the story out. But then UPN picked it up for two additional seasons.
  • The Andy Griffith Show was supposed to have ended after five seasons. An additional three were produced, minus Don Knotts and with a tired Andy Griffith before both he and Ron Howard left at which point the show was retitled Mayberry R.F.D. and shambled along until The Rural Purge finally put it out of its' misery.
  • Charmed was not expected to last as long as it did. The original creator left after season 2 and the lead actress was gone after season 3. Rose McGowan expected to only be around for two seasons when she was brought in as a replacement for Shannen Doherty (the length of her original contract). She and the show ended up staying around for five additional seasons. Rose has been quoted as saying "each year Charmed would get renewed and each year I would cry". The seventh season was expected to be the last, the finale of that even Book Ending the pilot episode. But an eighth season was ordered - also intending to set up spin-offs featuring Billie, Chris and Wyatt. Season 8 was the definite end, though a continuation in comic book form later resurfaced.
  • CSI: Cyber had the misfortune of trying to revive the failing CSI franchise. This came as the long-running spin-offs had already shuttered and the flagship series was closing out, complete with an after-series special to tie up loose ends. Cyber sacrificed many significant elements from the other series, most significantly actually featuring a CSI department, and failed to outlive the original series by more than a year.
  • Doctor Who was only intended to run for two years. We all know how that went out. It turned out the creators stumbled upon an anthology series format so flexible and interesting that they could do virtually anything with it and the show would work. It didn't stop Executive Meddling and newspaper reviews declaring the series to have run its course and have no further life when:
    • Lead actor William Hartnell left the series and the Doctor was recast with Patrick Troughton (who proved just as popular with the public and more popular with the fandom);
    • The Daleks got Killed Off for Real and Exiled from Continuity (just make the Cybermen into the Doctors' nemesis race instead!);
    • All three lead actors departed at the same time just as general TV production was moving into colour (Retool the show into a spy show set on Earth, in colour, with new actors);
    • The Doctor regenerated from a very popular suave secret agent character into a bug-eyed comedy lunatic played by some bricklayer they pulled off the street (who proved to be even more popular than his predecessor);
    • The Doctor regenerated from a very popular bug-eyed comedy lunatic who had been the only thing anyone wanted to watch into a well-known drama actor just as the show was moved into a twice-weekly soap opera slot (but the actor was very good and the scheduling reversed as soon as possible);
    • Warriors of the Deep" happened, inciting Michael Grade to personally start trying to kill the show off for being an embarrassing 1960s relic (which is what eventually did it in, although it did take him five years and several false starts).
    • Steven Moffat intended his tenure as showrunner and the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) era to end with Twelve's regeneration in the two-part Series 10 finale "World Enough and Time" / "The Doctor Falls", whereupon new showrunner Chris Chibnall would introduce the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) in the 2017 Christmas Episode. But Chibnall wasn't interested in that idea, and when Moffat learned the BBC would no longer greenlight Who Christmas specials if a year were skipped, he came up with "Twice Upon a Time" to keep the tradition going and revised the season finale: in "The Doctor Falls", Twelve starts to regenerate but holds it back due to no longer wanting to change, setting up his actual Grand Finale in "Twice Upon a Time".
  • Highlander: Once the television show reached six seasons and it was clear that its star, Adrian Paul, would not be returning for another one, Panzer devoted the entire season to auditioning female leads for a potential spin-off. Paul does not appear in nearly half of Season Six's episodes. His contract did not require him to be present for more than six episodes out of the remaining thirteen. The producers introduced a revolving door of potential Highlanderettes to don Paul's mantle, including Claudia Christian of later Babylon 5 fame, but none of them fit the bill. The role eventually went to a supporting character played by Elizabeth Gracen. After all that turmoil, Highlander The Raven bombed spectacularly since nobody involved (from the writers to the producers) had any clue where to take the new series; and to top it all off, Gracen's character wasn't even originally written as heroic.
  • Homeland: the show's premise centers on Brody, a returning POW who is suspected of being a turncoat by Carrie Mathison, a bipolar CIA agent. By season 3, Brody's story has petered out, and he dies at the end of the season, but from Season 4 on, the show continues to follow the CIA careers of the remaining characters. Notably, the Israeli series upon which it was based stays focused on the POW story for its entire run.
  • When Top of the Pops was launched at the beginning of 1964, it was only intended to run for a few weeks. As a weekly series, it lasted until the end of July 2006 when, following a slump in ratings, it bowed out in an hour-long special featuring presenters from across the decades. However, classic episodes (minus those withdrawn in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal) are repeated on BBC Four and the Christmas Episode remains part of the BBC's festive schedule more than a decade after the main series ended.
  • What (in theory) Disney attempts to avert by only keeping shows for 3 seasons. An unspoken rule of thumb for almost any Disney show since 2000 has been it won't go beyond three seasons (what the actual episode count of a "season" is up in the air), leading to shows that are extremely popular being suddenly cancelled. However, this trope has been fiddled with, where after the three season stint they create a spin-off featuring most if not all the same characters, just on a new set (ie, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody became The Suite Life on Deck or how Jessie turned into Bunk'd)
  • Police, Camera, Action! became this in 2010 but Real Life Writes the Plot played a part; due to its original host Alastair Stewart no longer being involved after a Role-Ending Misdemeanor, and Adrian Simpson leaving in August 2008 after a short-lived Revival from September 2007 to July 2008 (10 months 1 week and 5 day), it eventually lost most of what made it popular and became too Darker and Edgier with this 2010 series, plus the police footage became The Artifact and it was no longer presenter links as a Framing Device, which alienated some of the audience. At the time, on social media (when that was still in its infancy), some fans called for a Soft Reboot or Continuity Reboot to effectively bring back the franchise for a new audience and fix the show's problems, as the show was back in the public consciousness via re-runs some 5 years earlier and its fandom returned after 3 years off the air in 2005.
  • Saturday Night Live is technically this, although Lorne Michaels has gone back on his original plan. Originally, when Season 5 wrapped, Lorne (along with the rest of the cast and writing staff) wanted to end the show, at least for a few years, and return when they felt less burned out- same cast, same writers (more or less). NBC had other ideas, committing the nearly-fatal mistake of putting Jean Doumanian (the producer formerly in charge of booking musical guests) at the helm and hiring a completely new cast and writing staff. The show suffered horribly, causing Season 6 to be thought of to this day as the worst season in 40+ years. After Jean was fired, Dick Ebersol took over for the next four seasons, keeping the show afloat (thanks in no small part to Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, the only holdovers from the Doumanian era). When Ebersol began talking about dropping the "live" aspect of the show, Lorne Michaels returned, and after a season of fumbling, brought the show back to its original popularity. The rest is history: he's still Executive Producer as of 2018, with no plans to end the show anytime soon.
  • The Big Comfy Couch became this when it was renewed not once, but twice well after the end of its first 65-episode run, thanks to Executive Meddling to bring the total number of episodes up to 100. The last season, in which Ramona Gilmour-Darling replaced Alyson Court as Loonette, is considered by most fans to be the worst.
  • 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.

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

    Video Games 
  • Mega Man:
    • The Mega Man X series was supposed to end with X5, and then progress to the Mega Man Zero series in the future. However, the series continued without Keiji Inafune's knowledge into X6, and his only input afterwards was Maverick Hunter X and minor designer's advice regarding Axl. note  This was somewhat difficult plot-wise, as X5 ended with Zero dead. In fairness, Mega Man Zero would have had to answer that particular red flag itself to even be a thing, but Word of God states Inafune had to alter at least some of his initial plans to accomodate X6. X6 then ended with him in the capsule not supposed to be opened until Mega Man Zero making his appearances in the next two games awkward. Players were then told to think of the scene in X6 as a bonus ending for the series, rather than something happening directly after the game.
    • The Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Zero series were each supposed to end after three games each, but Battle Network lasted for three more games, and Zero for one more. You can see that the endings of the third game of each series were meant as the end of each. Zero 4 manages to work with this due to the Big Bad still being around at the end of Zero 3, so the final game was dedicated to solving that little hiccup and setting up the next Sequel Series to prevent this from happening again.
  • Both Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon were the products of friend developers Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games, as mascot platformers for the original PlayStation. Both then split off from Universal Interactive Studios for different reasons (Naughty Dog's contract with Universal ran out, while Insomniac was unpleased with the limitations of Spyro's character designs and walked off on their own) and moved onto different styles of games (Jak and Daxter and Ratchet & Clank), leaving their old mascots to their owner (Universal, but eventually Activision as a result of several corporate acquisitions and mergers) who then ran both of them into the ground with a wide variety of games of variable quality, with the Crash series eventually undergoing a long hiatus and Spyro being retooled into a part of the Skylanders franchise. However, both series were given a total revival in the late-2010's, with remakes and new games that were beloved by critics and fans alike, and sold extremely well.
  • Leisure Suit Larry has become this as a result of Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, released in 2004 for the PC, PS2, and Xbox. It was created without any input from series creator Al Lowe and he criticizes the game on his website. The sequel, Box Office Bust (at which point the franchise isn't in the property of Activision anymore because it didn't print money), has received even further drubbing from critics.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog became this after the 16-bit era. After the series hit its peak with Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Team, burned out on their namesake series, focused on making original titles. Meanwhile, Sega, not willing to retire their cash cow, tried to continue the Sonic franchise without them to no success. After Sega Technical Institute'snote  Sonic Xtreme — Sonic's intended Video Game 3D Leap on the Sega Saturnfailed to make it to shelves, Sega finally got Sonic Team back to give the series a proper 3D title for the Sega Dreamcast. Even then, Sonic Adventure (which had Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima on board) was the last game with any of Sonic's creators working directly on a Sonic game. Ohshima left Sega after Sonic Adventure finished development in 1998 to form Artoon for unknown reasons. Yasuhara didn't participate in Sonic Adventure because he had quit Sonic Team after Sonic 3 & Knuckles, ultimately leaving Sega for Naughty Dog in 2002. Naka himself left Sega in 2006 to form Prope as he was tired of being stuck with (executive) producer roles for original IPs made by Sonic Team. The series sticks around as it is one of Sega's few remaining cash cows, but it has had wild ups and downs since then. (Notably, the best received game in the series, Sonic Mania, was not made by Sonic Team but is essentially a Fan Remake compilation of the previous games of the series.)
  • Katamari Damacy was never supposed to have a sequel, according to the creator of the original game. The sequel lampshades this by essentially making the plot about the King Of All Cosmos gaining tons of fans due to the success of the first game and deciding to solve their various problems to become even more popular.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Hideo Kojima originally didn't intend to direct any Metal Gear sequels beyond Metal Gear Solid, but due to the immense success of the game, he was pressured by his superiors to direct Metal Gear Solid 2, which featured a twist ending that he never intended to explain away. Afterward, he wrote the basic outline for Metal Gear Solid 3, with the intention of handing it out to another director, but no one was willing to take the job. The same thing happened with Metal Gear Solid 4: although he had already named a successor, fans demanded that he return to personally direct the game (which included death threats). And as the entry on Writer Revolt for that game shows, he didn't take it nicely. And the series is still going on.
    • He also didn't intend to make a sequel for the original Metal Gear but a coworker who developed Snake's Revenge convinced him to make a real one. According to Kojima, by the time they reached their stop, he'd already had the entire plot of the canonical Metal Gear 2 mapped out in his head.
    • As of 2015, Konami announced that Kojima would be leaving the company for good after Metal Gear Solid V, yet they say they wish to make further Metal Gear games. Kojima's response was to create a controversial moment in the final chapter that both altered the canon of the original game and was also a cop-out to the epic finale that fans were clamoring for. It's also a symbolic representation of how Metal Gear had a fair chance of continuing past its Kojima finale, but that you'd have to settle for something less than Kojima. Unintentionally symbolic is that the first Metal Gear title after Kojima's departure is a spinoff title about zombies.
  • Twisted Metal was briefly this. Sony and Singletrac split up after Twisted Metal 2, resulting in Sony owning the Twisted Metal name but Singletrac owning the engine. As a result, Sony had No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, and the third and fourth games received relatively poor reviews. Luckily, former Singletrac employees founded Incog Inc. (and later Eat Sleep Play) and Sony handed them back the series from Twisted Metal Black onwards.
  • Halo: Rumors suggest the franchise was only intended to consist of two games, but scheduling issues forced Bungie to release the original Halo 2 in a semi-complete state (only about 3/4 done). Then Halo 3 was billed as the big finale of the series, but was followed by the Gaiden Game ODST and the prequel Halo: Reach (plus the RTS spin-off Halo Wars, a Dolled-Up Installment made by another studio, to Bungie's disapproval). Bungie jumped ship and left the series with Microsoft subsidiary 343 Industries' hands who then started a new "saga" of FPS games with Halo 4. Guess the fight wasn't quite finished yet, huh? That the IP was not only given to a company that was set up for the express purpose of creating new Halo games, but is even named after a character in the series, has inevitably lead to claims from people that they are little more then a "franchise farm" for the series.
  • Star Control had a brief go at this. The original developers had long since moved on to other projects, and they actually retained rights to all the creative content apart from the name "Star Control". The publisher wanted another game out in the series, even if it lacked any familiar content that would tie it in with the previous games. In the end, the developers gave in, figuring that it was the lesser evil for the series. The game was actually made by completely different people, though. Oh, and there was a novel too, which most people prefer to forget about.
  • Gunpei Yokoi intended for Metroid to end with Super Metroid in order to have a neat, contained trilogy. After his death, the franchise was revived in 2002 with Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion, and new games have come out at a steady pace ever since. These games were all fairly well-received (other than Metroid: Other M and Federation Force). Metroid Prime specifically was hailed by most as a worthy successor to Super, with some going as far as naming it as one of the greatest games of all time.
  • Guitar Hero is an interesting example as it turned into a zombie but was able to remain competitive with its Spiritual Successor, Rock Band, as well. After Harmonix and Activision parted ways following Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, the series reins were given to Tony Hawk developer Neversoft (whose first entry was Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock) and Harmonix moved on to MTV Games in order to begin producing the Rock Band series. Guitar Hero and Rock Band would remain Dueling Games for three years until 2010, when Warriors of Rock finally saw Activision shelve any future projects in the series... for five years until they announced Guitar Hero Live in order to compete with Harmonix's Rock Band 4.
  • Ratchet & Clank started to show signs of this after A Crack in Time, which is regarded as one of the best games in the franchise, released. The following sequels, All 4 One and Full Frontal Assult, were disliked by fans as they noticeably had weaker stories and were Denser and Wackier in tone, focusing on gimmicks instead of the usual third-person shooter gameplay, and redesigning most of the main cast.
  • Pokémon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara stated that Pokémon Gold and Silver were intended to be the final games, and declared that "once we entered the twenty-first century, it would be time for me to do something else entirely." Oodles of cash must have changed his mind, as the series has continued since with no signs of stopping.
  • Upon its release in 1995, Worms turned out as the biggest success for developer Team 17, which keeps riding on it to this day: little of their production since hasn't been related to the Worms franchise, which has currently overly 20 titles between main episodes, expansions and spin-offs on various platforms. Unfortunately, most if not all the episodes after the earlier ones (especially the 3D ones) haven't been as good, not even 2012's Worms Revolution which was intended as a return to form. It is telling that Worms Armageddon is still considered the best episode despite releasing at the Turn of the Millennium.
  • Various interviews from developers at Core Design have shown that the first four Tomb Raider games were genuine attempts to improve on each entry, whether they could be considered to have succeeded or not; however, the "Lara dies" twist at the end of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was a serious attempt to either finish the series or buy time for a next-gen debut. But then they were talked into developing Tomb Raider Chronicles, a game where Lara's closest friends reminisce about Lara's previously unseen adventures, as an easy moneygrab; and being distracted by that quite possibly had a small part in the failure of Angel of Darkness. Of course, it managed to recover after the franchise moved over to Crystal Dynamics' hands and rebooted.
  • The Super Smash Bros. series eventually became this for Masahiro Sakurai. Originally a side project featuring completely original characters, Sakurai's boss Satoru Iwata suggested that he put Nintendo characters into the game. The game became an international hit, but Sakurai felt that more could be done with the game, so the sequel Super Smash Bros. Melee was developed with a much more lavish budget (despite being developed in 13 months). Shortly after the completion of Melee as well as Kirby Air Ride, given that Sakurai is also the creator of the Kirby video game series, he departed from HAL to form his own studio, Sora Ltd. stating that he was dissatisfied with the "sequel process" at HAL and the gaming industry in general. Eventually, though, he made two more Smash games while at Sora in spite of this. He later came out and said that every Smash game past the original was developed under the expectation that he wouldn't make any more Smash games, and that he no longer has any desire to make any more past Smash 4. He then made Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and later stated that he would keep working on the series for as long as Nintendo wanted him to. (And, considering it's one of the company's biggest Cash Cow Franchises, it's hard to imagine they ever wouldn't.) Sakurai is also no longer involved in the creation of newer Kirby games. Note that though Kirby is technically a franchise zombie, it lacks all the negative aspects of Franchise Zombie as many of the newer Kirby games are as good or better than the older games to longtime fans of the series.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon went dormant after the third game, which was released in 2004. After the second game, the lead developer, Chris Sawyer, handed control of the IP to Atari. In 2012, Atari decided to dust off the franchise and release a number of below average to very poor games under its name. Among these title included a 3DS spinoff with stripped down features, two separate microtransaction-heavy Freemium mobile games (the first one, the confusingly titled RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, initially had a price tag), a match-3 mobile game, and a VR rail shooter for some reason. The most infamous releases of the series are RollerCoaster Tycoon World, a game which jumped between three development teams and was rushed to release a day before its (much more well-recieved) competitor, Planet Coaster, with predictable results, and RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, an investor-driven title for the Nintendo Switch where Atari directly asked people to invest in the development of the game for an opportunity to receive a share of its sales, with the end product being an extremely low-effort port of a mobile game that was a port of World, with no indication if any of the investors got their money's worth. The only releases that were met with positive reception were ports of the first three games, and with such a terrible track record of new games, it seems that Atari is only using the series name as a shameless Cash Cow Franchise.

    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.

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants was supposed to end after the third season and The Movie, but popular demand has kept it going since, even with Stephen Hillenburg being less involved with future seasons. Many complain over the supposed deterioration of the main cast's personality traits and the decline of writing quality/general aimlessness of the series these days; but, of course, if you asked any current young child (anybody born 2004+, when the Movie and the show were supposed to wrap it up), the series is absolutely fine enough to go on for many more years. And, of course, SpongeBob remains Nickelodeon's most popular cartoon, running over 20 years straight now with that distinction. However, the show would eventually Win Back the Crowd when Stephen Hillenburg returned to the show in 2015. The show still continues after Hillenburg's death, with an aggressive push towards spin-off series.
  • The Simpsons: Matt Groening stated in an interview that it was getting harder to keep the series fresh, and that while it would be around for the next couple of seasons at least, he wanted it to leave on a high note. A few weeks later, he did a public recantation: The Simpsons was fine, and would be continuing for the foreseeable future. That was in 1999. Quite a number of episodes around season 7-11 made the fact that the writers thought the show would be on its way out into a common gag. Troy claims in one that the series would go on until it became unprofitable, another episode noted that the next few seasons would feature hilariously outlandish plots common to shows on the verge of cancellation, and Season 11's "Behind the Laughter" flat-out proclaims "This'll be the last season." (This is also why a large number of episodes in the Oakley/Weinstein era end on a sunset.) As of this writing in 2022, the show is currently on Season 33.
  • Craig McCracken wanted to end The Powerpuff Girls (1998). Former Cartoon Network executives said that no one would watch the reruns, so the show continued. Ironically, Tom and Jerry was one of the network's highest-rated series... and it's 100% reruns. And once the show finally did end, Cartoon Network later made a Lighter and Softer reboot without any involvement from McCracken whatsoever.
  • Tom and Jerry was subject to this as well after William Hanna and Joseph Barbera left MGM, changing hands many times throughout the decades.
  • Dexter's Laboratory and Johnny Bravo were drastically retooled after the departure of their respective creators after Dexter's second season and Johnny Bravo's first. However, Johnny's creator Van Partible did return for the final season, while Dexter's creator Genndy Tartakovsky worked only on a couple episodes "Chicken Scratch" and "Comedy of Feathers".
  • Ben 10 was created by a four-man group called Man of Action Studios. After the series ended, the creative team continued the franchise with Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, both spearheaded by Glen Murakami and Dwayne McDuffie. Man of Action were also involved in the production of the two series, but when the franchise was expected to end with Ultimate Alien, Man of Action left to focus on working Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Cartoon Network continued with the Lighter and Softer Omniverse, spearheaded by Derrick J. Wyatt, without the creators' involvement although the first two episodes were the last written by McDuffie before his death; fans seemed to dislike it. In 2016 an even softer reboot began airing, which was at least produced by Man of Action this time around.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show was this after the second season of the show, when creator John Kricfalusi got fired. The show was canceled after 5 seasons. It made a resurgence on Spike TV almost a decade later with Kricfalusi back at the helm briefly, but was canned again after the show tanked on account of its Audience-Alienating Premise and overly dark humor. And then in 2021 another reboot was announced for Comedy Central, albeit without the now disgraced Kricfalusi.
  • Seth MacFarlane was asked about this in an October 2011 interview (the question was if he planned Family Guy to be as long as the The Simpsons). MacFarlane said that he didn't want Family Guy to be that long, and that he wanted to end the show in a high note, before it becomes stale. In the third Star Wars parody, the opening crawl starts out and then suddenly cuts in with something to the effect of "You know what? Screw this. We didn't even want to do a third one. FOX is making us because the first two did so well."
  • Beavis and Butt-Head. Although Mike Judge doesn't like the last few seasons, claiming that they were forced on him by MTV, their supposed lack of quality is more of an Informed Flaw considering that the show remained hilariously funny right up to the Grand Finale. The short-lived 2011 revival, on the other hand, does not fit as both Judge and MTV wanted it.
  • Popeye was originally a minor character in a comic book series called Thimble Theater. After Fleischer Studios lost control of the franchise, it continued directly under Paramount's banner for several years, before moving to other companies up until the beginning of the 1980's when they finally allowed the nearly at the time 50-year-old franchise to die... until a cyberpunk-set comic of Popeye that crashed very fast.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold ended by schedule after three seasons specifically to avoid this trope.
  • Alex Hirsch ended Gravity Falls after two seasons to likewise avoid this problem when the show became critically acclaimed.
  • The Fairly OddParents suffered quite badly from this, as the show was cancelled three times by Nickelodeon, only to be brought back on the strength of reruns, each time adding a new character to try to keep the show fresh. Many people were displeased when Poof was created in the Fairly OddBaby special, but due him providing a new perspective on Timmy, Cosmo & Wanda as a surrogate son for the trio, he was tolerated and not widely hated. When loathed characters Sparky & Chloe, however, both of whom were far more irritating and pointless additions to the show, were made, many fans felt the series long overstayed its welcome. The fact that Sparky was removed in Season 10 to be replaced by Chloe certainly didn't help matters, as it felt as if the creators were just adding new characters to cover up a lack of ideas. When the series was finally canceled for good in 2017, most fans considered it a Mercy Kill of a show that had long since became a shadow of its former self... Which didn't stop a new live-action series from being made in 2022.
  • South Park: This article reveals that Parker and Stone had hoped to end their show earlier than the (at minimum) 26-season run (as well as 14 additional movies) that Comedy Central had renewed the series for.
  • King of the Hill was originally scheduled to conclude in season 10, before being renewed last minute in the spring of 2006 (the 11th season finale, explicitly designed as a series finale, was originally produced for it), then being renewed again during season 11 for two more seasons. It finally ended in 2009, although four more episodes (which were skipped over by Fox to make room for The Cleveland Show) aired on Adult Swim in 2010.

Financial Gaaaaaiinnss....