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Literary Necrophilia

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"The Warble, Peddle and Leek Publishing Company proudly announces Romeo and Juliet II—a sweeping saga of lust and passion that begins where the best-selling original left off! The story begins with the discovery that the two lovers didn't really stab themselves hard enough to die, and follows them through their lustful and passionate efforts to escape the clutches of their warring families and find a peaceful life of lust and passion! Now on sale at every drugstore and supermarket in the world."
Dave Barry, "Compressed Classics"

This is what happens when you write a sequel to a series that was finished long ago, or continue the work of a dead author without his or her permission. Not to be confused with literal necrophilia or Literary Mash-Ups that involve zombies.

Some authors, such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, are famous for avoiding this by virtue of a throng of fanatic fans. (Not in Russia though.)

See also Outlived Its Creator and Sequel Gap. Franchise Zombie is when the franchise was supposed to die, but against the creator's blessing continued.



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  • The Hastings Embroidery was created in 1965 as a companion to the Bayeux Tapestry, telling the story of the 900 years in between.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Jean Rhys's The Wide Sargasso Sea relates the plot of Jane Eyre from the POV of Rochester's mad Creole wife. It's unimaginably brilliant.
  • Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind.
    • And The Wind Done Gone, telling the original story from the point of view of the slave characters.
    • And Rhett Butler's People, from the point of view of... guess. The difference is, this one is authorized, and it adds a new ending.
  • Jane Austen's work are very prone to this treatment:
    • Pride and Prejudice:
      • There are a billion and one sequels to this novel. Readers apparently can't stand No Hugging, No Kissing and never seeing the act happen on-page. E.g. Wild And Wanton Pride & Prejudice includes all the dirty naughty bits that readers have been hungering for. Jane Austen's ghost will come to haunt Michelle Pillow yet...
      • For every continuation of the original story, there must be at least ten versions of the original novel told from Mr. Darcy's perspective.
      • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a twofer zombification of the original.
    • Joan Aiken:
      • She did a continuation of Mansfield Park, featuring Fanny's lively young sister Susan and Edmund's brother Tom, called Mansfield Revisited.
      • She wrote a Perspective Flip of Emma called Jane Fairfax.
  • The Time Ships is a sequel to The Time Machine written by Stephen Baxter.
  • Flatland, of all things, has many, including one penned by the original square's granddaughter, Victoria A. Line.
  • The Tripods is a weird double example. The original trilogy is essentially a sequel to The War of the Worlds, written 70 years later. Then 20 years after the conclusion of the original trilogy, John Christopher decided to write a prequel to his old series, which winds up being basically The War of the Worlds all over again.
  • The Night of the Triffids was published 50 years after The Day of the Triffids, and 30 years after the death of the original author (though with the permission of his estate). It adds extra gunfire and explosions and throws in some Hollywood Evolution as well, yet still manages a pretty fair stab at emulating John Wyndham's style of writing. Not exactly high art, but a decent page-turner.
  • The Dune series purportedly received a number of prequels, pre-prequels, interquels, midquels, and finally sequels written by the original author's son Brian Herbert and the inimitable Kevin J. Anderson. Their reception is famously summed up in this Penny Arcade strip.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has 39 official sequels, 26 of which were written by other authors after L. Frank Baum's death. The unofficial sequels number in the hundreds - Wicked is just the most famous of them.
  • All Public Domain Characters. This plus the First Law of Resurrection means that Dracula will never stay in the ground.
  • The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has approved one such attempt at a new Sherlock Holmes novel. In this case, it's by Anthony Horowitz.
    • Of course, given the above point about Public Domain Characters, people were coming up with new adventures for Holmes and Watson long before this. At least one has sardonically parodied this by noting that if Dr. John Watson wrote everything that has been published purporting to be a newly discovered Sherlock Holmes case, then he would have been among the most prolific authors to have ever lived.
    • Another noteworthy example is the Enola Holmes books, which stars Sherlock's irrepressible younger sister, whom he managed to never mention in all his adventures.
  • H: The Story of Heathcliff's Journey Back to Wuthering Heights by Lin Haire-Sargeant, covers what exactly Heathcliff did during his three years spent away. It eventually turns into a crossover with Jane Eyre, as Heathcliff turns out to be the son of Rochester and his mad first wife.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has Alice Through the Needle's Eye by Gilbert Aldair, Automated Alice by Jeff Noon, and the revisionist series The Looking-Glass Wars.
  • Peter Pan has fallen victim to this countless times. Examples include:
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has Becky: A Novel, basically a romantic drama Perspective Flip with feminist leanings, centered around Becky Thatcher as a grown woman. It retcons most of the original book by explaining that Mark Twain was their Unreliable Narrator buddy who idolized Tom and skewed the story for the sake of Rule of Cool. (For instance, Injun Joe was falsely accused, and Becky accompanied the boys on all their adventures. In other words, what really happened was a lot more PC.)
  • And while we're at it, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has the Perspective Flip prequels Finn, about Huck's dad, and My Jim, about Jim's wife.
  • Grendel by John Gardner goes all the way back to Beowulf and, like the previous example, has philosophical overtones which make it a school staple.
  • Mistress Masham's Repose by T. H. White is a two-and-a-half-centuries-later sequel to the Lilliputian parts of Gulliver's Travels.
  • Susan Hill's Mrs. De Winter is a sequel to Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
    • ... which in its turn was followed by Sally Beauman's Rebecca's Tale, which veers into Prequel territory in part of its narrative.
  • Les Misérables has two sequels... both of which are titled "Cosette". Laura Kalpakian's Cosette: The Sequel To Les Misérables (1995) follows the plot of the musical rather than the original novel. François Cérésa's Cosette, or the time of illusions is also an act of literary necromancy, bringing Inspector Javert back from the dead to take a central role, and got Cérésa sued by Victor Hugo's heirs.
  • The Bourne Series: After the death of Robert Ludlum, Eric Von Lustbader carried on with the Bourne adventures, writing eleven novels at last count.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Death's too good for them. Eight years after Douglas Adams' death, Eoin Colfer wrote And Another Thing..., improbably picking up where Mostly Harmless left off.
  • The Millennium Trilogy: With original author Stieg Larsson having died before the first book of the series was published (though he had completed three), the publishers hired David Lagercrantz to write further books in the series. Lagercrantz has written three Millennium books to date.
  • John Gregory Betancourt wrote a prequel series to Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber. This was criticised by authors like Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin, because even though Betancourt had received permission from the Zelazny estate, Zelazny himself had stated that he did not want other authors writing Amber books. In any case, the series was cut short when Betancourt's publisher went bankrupt.
  • The Hand of the Dead Man is a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo written by Alfredo Possolo Hogan but attributed to Alexandre Dumas.
  • The Phantom of the Opera examples:
    • Susan Kay's Phantom fleshes out the backstory Gaston Leroux gave Erik and goes on to retell the novel's events from the points of view of Erik, Christine, and Raoul.
    • The Phantom of Manhattan is a Frederick Forsyth novel that follows on from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical rather than the novel (with a lengthy preface in which Forsyth justifies doing so), as it originated from the early development of a sequel to the show. Many elements of it wound up in the actual stage sequel Love Never Dies.
  • The Aeneid was written as a sequel to The Iliad and The Odyssey, which were composed several hundred years before at least. Given that The Aeneid itself is now over two thousand years old, we can safely assume that this trope has been around for a long time itself.
  • Andrzej Stojowski wrote W ręku Boga (In God's Hand), a sequel to Henryk Sienkiewicz's Trilogy.
  • George MacDonald Fraser lifted the character of Flashman from the 1840s boarding school adventure Tom Brown's Schooldays. At least two of the books in the series revisit characters from the original book as adults, and the first book, Flashman, directly begins with the school bully's expulsion in disgrace from Rugby School. Now MacDonald Fraser is himself deceased, it remains to be seen which author takes up the challenge to complete unfinished Flashman stories. The one involving Flashman in The American Civil War, for instance.
  • Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is a sequel to the original Winnie-the-Pooh books. It was published in 2009, 83 years after the original. Followed by The Best Bear in All the World in 2016 to mark the 90th anniversary.
  • Older Than They Think: Orlando Furioso (Ludovico Ariosto, 1516) is much more famous (it has a TVT entry, QED) than its predecessor "Orlando Inammorato" (Matteo Maria Boiardo 1494, unfinished)
  • A man claiming to be the original author's illegitimate son wrote a sequel to A Confederacy of Dunces called A Cornucopia of Dunderheads that focused on Ignatius' adventures in New York.
  • Sophie Hannah has written three Hercule Poirot novels: The Monogram Murders (2014), Closed Casket (2016) and The Mystery of Three Quarters (2018).
  • After completing Dorothy L. Sayers' unfinished Lord Peter Wimsey novel Thrones, Dominations in 1988, Jill Patton Walsh went on to write three original adventures for Lord Peter: A Presumption of Death (2002), which was loosely inspired by Sayers's magazine column The Wimsey Papers, The Attenbury Emeralds (2010), based on the Noodle Incident of Peter's first case, and The Late Scholar (2013).
  • Old Toffer's Book of Consequential Dogs, written by Christopher Reid and published by Faber and Faber in 2019, is the canine companion to Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats that T. S. Eliot occasionally talked about but never actually wrote.

    Live-Action TV 

  • William Shakespeare examples:
    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard is a perspective flip of Hamlet and a hallmark of Theatre of the Absurd.
    • The Virgin Queen – by F.G. Waldron from 1797, is a sequel to The Tempest, in which Prospero returns home, bringing along Caliban, who causes trouble.
    • Fortinbras, by Lee Blessing, 1991. Set immediately following William Shakespeare's Hamlet, the play recounts the events after Hamlet's death that go on throughout Elsinore. The play includes almost every character from Hamlet returning as a ghost.
    • Juliet in Mantua by Robert Nathan from 1966 presents Rosaline from Romeo and Juliet as a fully developed character. In this sequel, in which Romeo and Juliet did not die, the pair live ten years later in exile in Mantua. When Rosaline shows up in Mantua with her husband County Paris, both couples must confront their disillusionment with their marriages.
    • After Juliet, written by Scottish playwright Sharman Macdonald, tells the story of Rosaline after Romeo dies. A main character in this play, she struggles with her loss and turns away the advances of Benvolio, who has fallen in love with her.
    • The Doctor of Rome, by Nat Colley, takes up from The Merchant of Venice, following Daniel, Shylock’s grandson, as he re-opens the decades-old court case of the previous play. Portia must once again appear in drag to defend herself.
    • The Thyme of the Season by Duncan Pflaster takes place three months after the events of A Midsummer Night's Dream, on Halloween Night, when the fairies must sacrifice a human soul to hell.
    • Romeo & Juliet & Zombies by Melody Bates begins with Act V of Romeo and Juliet and gives them a second chance at love, as the living dead.
    • Dunsinane, by David Greig, follows the wife of Macbeth after he dies, with an emphasis on historically accuracy (Shakespeare’s play was based on actual events, but he took several liberties).
    • Ephraim Kishon wrote a play titled Oh, Oh, Juliet. It's a sequel to Romeo and Juliet, in which it turns out they both faked their death and went on to live Like an Old Married Couple.
  • Figaro Gets a Divorce, Ödön von Horváth's 1936 sequel play to Beaumarchais' 1778 The Marriage of Figaro.