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Sequel Escalation

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"There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate — more blood, more gore. Carnage candy."
Randy Meeks, Scream 2

Sometimes a sequel is just the same story as the last one (Capcom Sequel Stagnation), or downgraded by being Direct to Video (Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation), or a different story set in the same world (The Godfather Part II, the Star Trek films), or just the next part in an ongoing series (Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings books and movies), or even a Dolled-Up Installment (Super Mario Bros. 2).

This trope, on the other hand, is when a sequel is made to be "bigger and better" than the last film, by taking one or more elements from the first film and expanding upon it. The film makers feel a need to "top themselves" in a sort of way.

Take an action sequel, which has more explosions and fist/gun/martial arts fights than the previous film. Or a slasher sequel, which has more deaths, in more gory (and less realistic) ways. Sometimes what get expanded is the plot: What started as a simple and straightforward plot in the first part may become significantly expanded, deeper and more intricate in sequels.


How often this works depends on if the expanded element is the one the audience liked. Choose the wrong element(s), and it will be at the expense of the right element(s), and the audience will not be pleased. Wrong elements can often be the toilet humor, sexual situations, flanderization or meaningless action sequences.

However, choose the right element(s), and the sequel may even be considered superior to the first film. Usually these elements involve the human element, expanding on the characters we care about, telling a dramatic (or hilarious) story, and making the action sequences revolve around that.

Usually, the result is somewhere in the middle, often debated upon by the fans.

To avoid just rehashing examples from Sequelitis, examples here should discuss the expanded element(s) of the sequels.


A Sub-Trope of Sequel. A Sister Trope to Serial Escalation.

Compare Actionized Sequel, Sequel Difficulty Spike, Prolonged Video Game Sequel, Send in the Clones, Up to Eleven, Sorting Algorithm of Evil, Power Creep. Big Damn Movie is this trope applied to a film adaptation of a serial. Darker and Edgier often, but not always, accompanies the upping of the stakes in sequels.

Contrast Lensman Arms Race and Plot Leveling (both of which could be seen as symptoms of this trope's presence), Sequel Difficulty Drop (difficulty getting lowered, although that doesn't preclude this trope in other ways).


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    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput does something like this - the expanded element is the length, in this case. Season 1 has 15-second microshorts, season 2 introduces 2-minute episodes, and season 3 introduces 5-minute episodes.

    Comic Books 
  • Borderline example: in the first generation of X-Men, the strongest person on the team was Beast, who was just, like, "two-normal-guys" strong. In the second generation, the strongest person is Colossus, the man of steel. Then we got Rogue, who for a long time was just as strong as Colossus, and could fly. Dunno where we're at now, but considering the current lineup includes Namor (who's stronger than the Incredible Hulk so long as he's underwater), Hope (who has All Your Powers Combined) and Magneto (who once almost destroyed civilization), safe to say that escalation has been maintained.
  • Ultimate Marvel started as a grounded reimagination of the characters and events of Marvel Comics. Ultimatum, the first Crisis Crossover, had a Kill 'Em All plot, and after it, Hickman's The Ultimates and Spencer's Ultimate X-Men took the action to unprecedented levels.

    Fan Fic 
  • Peter Chimaera's Troll Fic, Digimon savez teh wrold has a sequel called Digimon 2: Return of Digimon. In the first story digimon has to stop the evil scientist from destroying the road, in the sequel he's up against an evil digimon who wants to destroy all the roads so no one can go on them. Also features FIGHTING IN SPACE!
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Windfall is a short, fluffy fic showing the Mane Cast—all of whom have gone their separate ways and are now Older and Wiser—reuniting to witness the birth of Fluttershy's first foal. The sequel, Earth and Sky, has a much more detailed Story Arc, with multiple interconnected subplots, dealing with somewhat more serious themes and actual antagonists, and even ends up being four times as long as Windfall.
    • Pony fanfic Post Nuptials and its sequel Families are much like the above Pony fics in terms of how they escalate, except the first story is about the main cast dealing with immediate emotional fallout caused by Queen Chrysalis' invasion—namely by trying to reconcile with Twilight after they ignored her warnings—and the sequel deals with more serious ramifications of the invasion and everyone's actions prior to it, including psychological trauma and a conspiracy to mire Princess Celestia's public image.
    • Not to mention how many of the longest MLP fanfics are the sequel to something much shorter. note  From the first two pages of Fimfiction's "longest" list:

    Films — Animated 
  • The more Toy Story movies get released, the more they become depressing and serious. However, it gets a lot more positive reception than many Disney sequels or the other Pixar sequels.
  • Cars 2. The original is about an egotistical race car getting lost in a small town and learning humility, while the sequel is about his tow truck friend Mater being mistaken for a spy and having to stop a large crime ring's evil plan. And one car DIES (off-screen, mind you, but still). And there's lots of explosions and gun fighting. This movie is rated G, right?
  • While the original Kung Fu Panda centers on a small mountain valley, and the villain has mostly personal motivation and acts alone, Kung Fu Panda 2 involves a big city and a villain who wants to Take Over the World and has an army of wolves, gunpowder cannons, and a freakin' river fleet at his disposal. Kung Fu Panda 3 escalates the stakes by introducing a villain with supernatural powers and an army of ghosts of former kung fu masters at his service.
  • The more My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movies get released, the bigger and more magical they become.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The second and particularly the third Pirates of the Caribbean films feature more and more insanely over-the-top CGI and action sequences, epic plotlines and 300-million budgets. The fourth movie, however, is intentionally scaled back, returning to the more modest and character-driven style of the first film. While the fifth film is certainly less action-packed than second and third movies due to shorter running time, it drops the trend of back scaling style of Stranger Tides, somewhat returning to the escalated plot of the previous films.
  • Some comic book movie sequels are considered superior by escalating the characterization and themes of the first film, that made the comics hits anyway. When they falter, it's often from adding new villains at the expense of the characterization and themes.
    • The Avengers plays it straight — after all it's living up to five movies' Sequel Hooks.
    • The second Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron is even more bigger and more complex than the first movie, and has a much more global scope (with the action shifting to South Korea, South Africa, and the fictional nation of Sokovia), three new heroes (Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and The Vision), three new villains (Ultron, Baron von Strucker and Klaw), several new supporting players, numerous subplots, way more action scenes, and a climax that involves the villain trying to use an anti-gravity device to try to raise an entire city into the sky and then drop it onto Earth. Most of the frequent criticisms of the film are essentially along the lines of "It had too many things going for its own good." Ironically, director Joss Whedon initially wanted the movie to be smaller than the first one.
    • The third Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, brings back all but two of the heroes introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far as this time it's an universe-level threat. Which is brough back in the fourth, Avengers: Endgame, which in the climactic battle has the good side with all the heroes (including the two absent, plus two heroines introduced in the year between movies), reinforced by four armies,note  to show it's one hell of a Grand Finale for what was estabilished in 22 movies.
  • Parodied in Machete: "Machete will be back in... Machete Kills!... and Machete Kills Again!."
  • The Matrix:
    • The sequels seemed to choose the right elements: the Wuxia martial arts and the philosophy. What the Wachowskis missed was that the martial arts were mixed with suspense, and the philosophy was mixed into the story, not just spouted out of nowhere.
    • In The Matrix, Neo fights Agent Smith who (almost) kills him. In The Matrix Reloaded, Super-Neo fights dozens of Agent Smiths who almost kill him. In The Matrix Revolutions, Super-Neo fights Super-Smith who (almost?) kills him.
  • James Cameron decided to escalate the numbers of Aliens when he made that sequel, but since one was dangerous enough, the characters would have to be soldiers just to have some kind of chance. But he did not let that get in the way of the suspense, even with turning it into part action film.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day had the highest film budget at the time and is widely considered as good or better than the first film. The Terminator (1984) had a Killer Robot in human disguise, with a punch strong enough to penetrate you, assigned to kill the mother of a future hero before he was even born with only a Badass Normal sent to protect her. Terminator 2 had a Voluntary Shapeshifting Killer Robot, who could imitate almost anybody and form it's appendages into sharp weapons, sent to kill that future hero himself when he was still a kid with a reprogrammed Terminator (of the same model as the Big Bad in the first film) protecting him despite being an obsolete design.
  • Jaws 2 ramped up the body count. Also, they tried to increase the shark's "scariness" factor by scarring it with fire. Jaws 3D increased the size of the shark from the still-believable 25 feet of the first two films to an impossible 35 feet. Jaws: The Revenge had the shark be 35 feet long and have a vendetta against the Brody family as well as psychic abilities.
  • The immediate sequels to Scary Movie and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle upped the raunchy humor. Fans are split as to whether this was a good idea.
  • The Godzilla series often does this.
    • The first film was dark and down-to-earth (or at least as down-to-earth a movie about a giant dinosaur could get). The sequel added another monster, but the realistic tone remained for the most part. However, King Kong vs. Godzilla not only gave the series a much larger scale, and a bigger budget, but it was a lot lighter than the previous two. Mothra vs. Godzilla was bit darker, but the film did explore into fantasy elements. The next two films featured beings from space, and the tone on the two was light. The following two had no space elements, but were still very light in tone, and featured many monsters. Destroy All Monsters, originally intended as the finale, not only had aliens, but 11 monsters, and a fun, light, tone. The next film, brought the series to a whole new level, gearing it towards little kids, and having Godzilla be portrayed as a fictional character. The films from the seventies were filled with aliens and monster, and had over the top stories, and very light tones. However, 1975's Terror of Mechagodzilla, while still had aliens, was given a far darker tone, and while the film has been well-received by critics, the film failed at the box-office, leaving Godzilla on a 9-year hiatus.
    • On the American side, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) remedied a common criticism that Godzilla (2014) didn't have enough Godzilla, while also adding Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, even more destruction, and revealing that the world is full of monsters (including a tease for a giant ape that will fight the Big G in a sequel). Reviewers and some fans even criticized that the movie went too far on the escalation, both on the action front (as some deem the scenes border sensory overload), and the plot, which goes from a simpler "monsters emerged, better stop them" to a much more complicated one even featuring ecoterrorists that want to use the monsters for their purposes.
  • Friday the 13th is particularly egregious with how each sequel escalates the threat Jason Voorhees poses. He goes from being The Ghost in the first film to the main villain in Part 2, then a main villain who survived what should've been fatal wounds in Part 3 before finally being Killed Off for Real in Part 4. After being a Red Herring in Part 5, he returns as a nigh-undefeatable Revenant Zombie in Part 6 before contending with a psychic protagonist in Part 7, taking Manhattan in Part 8, and being revealed to be a literal spawn of Hell in The Final Friday. Then he takes his campaign of terror into space in Jason X.
  • Speed 2: Cruise Control was likely the worst choice of the element to escalate. Did it increase the suspense? The Danger? The velocity of the vehicle? Nope. It merely just escalated the size of the vehicle, and actually downgraded the other elements.
  • The Karate Kid Part III inverted this, and got a lot of criticism for it, among ... other things. After the first film ends with Daniel winning a tournament, the second film has him fighting for his life, even including the line "This is for real." Then the third film goes back to ending with a tournament.
  • High School Musical 2 was a bigger and better sequel, and High School Musical 3 went even biggerer and betterer than HSM2 by getting a cinema budget and a cinema release. The dance scenes become almost absurdly more elaborate, and the sets improve noticeably. It's even lampshaded in the song "I Want It All" when Sharpay notes that "sequels pay better."
  • The first follow-up to The Pink Panther (1963), the Dolled-Up Installment A Shot in the Dark, proved that focusing on Ensemble Dark Horse Inspector Clouseau was a wise move. Once Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers revived the series in 1975 (The Other Darrin that was Inspector Clouseau went on without them), they in essence picked up where that movie left off and began escalating the best points of Shot in The Return of the Pink Panther: Clouseau's increasingly thick accent and odd disguises, his battles with manservant Cato, Dreyfus' insanity and murder attempts, and the overall level of slapstick. This worked very well, and two more films (The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Revenge of the Pink Panther) were similar successes, though they also shaded into Flanderization and Sequelitis.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series: The first film excels in how much more subtle it is compared to the other movies, which got more and more action oriented as the series moved forward. In fact, in the first movie, Ethan Hunt only ever loaded, held and pointed a gun in one or two scenes in the movie and never fired it once. You definitely can't say the same thing about the films to come.
  • Transformers Film Series:
    • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had this trope in abundance given that Michael Bay has managed to convinced the Department of Defense to provide him not only with top of the line military hardware and personnel, but managed to get them to sign off on what the DOD is calling the single largest collaboration with a Hollywood movie ever. Case in point, the primary focus of the first film was to just show the robots, make them believable, and make sex jokes. Good and done. For the second movie, there are several times more Transformers, explosions, and deaths, all manner of designs that go far beyond "car turns into metal human." note  Oh, and there's Devastator.
    • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a great example of both sides of this trope. Michael Bay threw in an almost impossible amount of robot violence, with half of the new villains being at least four times bigger than any of the heroes, along with much much more of the sex jokes and cool military stuff from the first movie. The people who liked these things had to change their pants at least three times during the course of the movie. The people who didn't like it tended more towards a murderous rage.
    • The third film had a)raised stakes, and b)about five million plot twists. The fourth film tried to go the same way, and even went more international with a third act in China.
  • The first James Bond film, Dr. No, had the tight budget of $1 million — and sometimes it's easy to see it. The huge success of that movie allowed the next movie, From Russia with Love to double the budget, with more action scenes and locales to shoot. And many installments in the series try to top their predecessors since then.
  • The Die Hard series is a clear example of this:
  • Several instances in Star Wars:
    • In Episode IV, the Empire pursues Rebels in a Star Destroyer. In Episode V the Empire pursues Rebels in a Super Star Destroyer that is many times the size of a Star Destroyer and is the flagship of a fleet of Star Destroyers. Episode VI shows dozens of Rebel ships fighting the Super Star Destroyer, even more regular Star Destroyers, and the second Death Star, which is much larger than the first.
    • Episode IV introduces TIE Fighters, Episode V introduces TIE Bombers (with two cockpits), and Episode VI introduces TIE Interceptors.
    • Each installment adds another climactic scene at the end happening simultaneously. In Episode IV, there is just the battle against the Death Star. Episode V has Luke confronting Darth Vader with the rest of the heroes escaping Cloud City at the same time. Episode VI has Luke against Vader and the Emperor, Han, Leia and Chewbacca taking out the shield generator, and Lando blowing up the second Death Star itself, going on almost all at once. Episode I then goes a step further, with Padmé infiltrating the palace to arrest Gunray, Anakin blowing up the control ship, the Gungans fighting the droid army to keep them away from the city, AND Qui-Gon and Obi-Van's duel against Maul.
    • Even further, Episode II brings in just about every Jedi turning on their lightsabers all at once and a massive Clone Trooper/Battle Droid War Sequence. Then Episode III has a huge Space Battle right off the bat, multiple simultaneous wars, the extermination of the Jedi, and almost as many lightsaber battles as the rest of the trilogy combined.
    • Once the series was revived, Episode VII harkened back to the original trilogy, and escalated on that too: an attack of massive creatures throwing back to the Rancor and Dianoga; a lot of foot battles; and Starkiller Base, a "Super Death Star" built out of an entire planet. Then Episode IX took the Earth-Shattering Kaboom idea way past eleven with an entire fleet of Star Destroyers armed with planet-busters.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge was really aiming for this trope, as later described in interviews by the creators. The idea was that, if Freddy is really scary in his victims' dreams, then how much scarier would he be if he were in real life? Though the film had its moments, general consensus is "not very" and its often seen as the Oddball in the Series.
  • The Blues Brothers broke the record for most vehicular collisions in a single movie, and its sequel made sure to smash the record again.
  • The first Back to the Future movie was fairly low-key compared to its sequels. It's rather obvious they got bigger budgets after the first one became a hit.
  • The Resident Evil movies. In the first movie, the T virus was confined to the Hive. In the second movie, it had spread to all of Raccoon City. In the third movie, it infected the entire world, and there are tougher and faster Super Undead.
  • The Rambo series counts definitely, since the first movie's action is more about guerrilla warfare, hunting and survival, while the sequels are pretty much just loads of machine gunning, shotgunning, bow-and-arrowing, explosive bow-and-arrowing and knife throwing, with the occasional melee kill. All the strategy of the first movie is shrunk down to a single montage, and even then the kills are more flashy and improbable.
  • Crank, big time. While Crank was already over-the-top, they pulled all stops on second one and included more violence, sex, Squick and general absurdity in the second one.
  • Home Alone II: Lost In New York is very Recycled In SPACE in terms of plot, but the traps are much more brutal. One of them even ending in an explosion!
    • The third Home Alone movie is even worse about this, with one of the traps being a lawn mower falling on a man's face. They also change the bad guys from petty thieves with big aspirations to terrorists/smugglers and make the traps much more elaborate; at one point the main character has a budgie riding a remote-controlled car strike a match to light some dynamite to blow up the criminal's leader.
  • You can tell from the opening disaster alone that the filmmakers intended to take Final Destination 2 Up to Eleven. And the sequels kept on growing and growing, to the point where the over-the-top deaths were parodied in Final Destination 5.
  • A Fistful of Dollars was a fairly low budget movie, with a small cast and a story confined to a single small town. For a Few Dollars More, its sequel, had much more action and featured several locations, as well as a larger cast. The prequel, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is nothing short of epic, with a cast of thousands, huge battle scenes, impressive set pieces, more elaborate music, a staggering body count, and nearly double the runtime of either of the previous movies.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968) was a very low budget, low-key movie about some people in a farmhouse fending off a few dozen zombies. Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) had two more groups of people, in a shopping mall and an underground base, fighting hundreds of zombies. Land of the Dead had an entire city defending itself from thousands of the undead. Also note that the level of gorn increases in each movie ... by a lot.
  • Here's a little experiment you can do at home: go watch The Human Centipede, a film about three people who get sown together by their mouths and anuses. Note that its sequel has the subtitle The Full Sequence. Look at an actual centipede. Then look back at the three sown-together people. This experiment goes out the window for the last instalment in the trilogy, Final Sequence, which features a centipede composed of 500 people. Even Tom Six himself has stated that upping himself for a fourth movie is all but impossible unless he resorts to stitching up the Earth's entire population.
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure sent the characters through time, but Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey sent them through both Heaven and Hell.
  • True to the title, Hellbound: Hellraiser II took a few of the same characters from the first film, which was essentially a haunted house story, and placed them in, well, Hell. The makers of the third film, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, tried to get around the problem of topping Hell itself by promising a film where the series' antagonists, the Cenobites, are unleashed in an urban setting. The end result was not well-received, to say the very least. Hellraiser: Bloodline has not one but three different stories about the Lament Configuration, and the framing story doesn't even take place on Earth.
  • Scream 2 lampshades this trope as it pertains to horror movies, providing the page quote in the process. It also tops the original by having, among other things, a murder in a crowded movie theater and the killer crashing someone's car.
  • Many viewers who watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) forget that, for all the hype and controversy surrounding the film's content (a group of teenagers stumble upon a Cannibal Clan in the American backwoods), the violence and gore were almost all off-screen. Director Tobe Hooper, in fact, was going for a PG ratingnote  when he made the film. The sequel, however, took Leatherface and his family from the farm into the big city, ramped up the Squick factor, and added in copious amounts of Black Comedy and over-the-top violence.
  • Lampshaded in Last Action Hero. Fictional action movie star Jack Slater moans that his adventures seem to get tougher and tougher. Danny comments that the sequels are supposed to get harder. Jack's not amused.
  • The Saw sequels saw the traps and "games" becoming increasingly elaborate, and the violence much more explicit (most of the violence in the original film was offscreen: the two most gruesome acts in the film, Lawrence sawing off his own foot and Adam beating Zepp to death with a toilet lid, happen almost entirely offscreen). Curiously, the original film's twisty plot structure and use of Anachronic Order was something also escalated by the sequels, to the point that trying to synopsize the overarching plot structure is a very challenging task indeed.
  • King Kong Lives adds a female Kong to the equation, and more destruction.
  • The Lord of the Rings escalates in a way that works quite well with the progression of the story. The Fellowship of the Ring has a few fights, but focuses mainly on the beginning of the journey and the formation of the titular Fellowship. The Two Towers has two large battles. The Return of the King has the largest battle of the Third Age, and boy does it show. The number of effects shots for the Pelennor Fields battle alone is as high as the total for the first film.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past is an adaptation of one of the most epic and ambitious storylines in the X-Men comic's history, upping up the stakes, action, and the sheer number of mutants.
  • Sharknado:
    • Sharknado 2: The Second One increases the scope set by the first movie by having the sharknados made by, rather than just a hurricane, a hurricane combined with a blizzard into a superstorm. And instead of just focusing on the anti-shark struggles of a small handful of characters, the sequel sees the sharks fought by the NYC mayor, the police, scores of survivors armed with chainsaws and other melee weapons, and the folks at The Weather Channel.
    • In Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, the heroes are fighting the sharks from Washington to Florida and even in SPACE!
    • In Sharknado: The 4th Awakens the series adds a lavanado, bouldernado, electricitynado, cownado, and nuclearnado to the mix.
    • Sharknado 5: Global Swarming had the sharknados appearing everywhere on Earth plus ones spawned by an artifact resembling a Swirly Energy Thingy, culminating in the world's population being wiped out.
    • The series comes to an end in the most over-the-top way possible in The Last Sharknado: It's About Time, which featured time travel and such.
  • The Fast and Furious franchise has this in spades, that juxtaposing the original film with any of the sequels highlights just how self-aware and over-the-top it has become:
    • The original movie can best be described as "Point Break with cars". It's a fairly small-scale story whose climax is Brian rescuing one of Dom's team from a trucker with a shotgun, and it has barely (if any) CGI. Beginning with 2 Fast 2 Furious, the series began introducing more CGI and over-the-top chase sequences, to the point that Fast & Furious 6 involves a tank chase on a highway and Furious 7 has the team outracing a military drone. Lampshaded by Owen Shaw when he first meets Dom, who notes how far the latter has come from simply stealing truckloads of DVD players.
    • In the first film, Dominic Toretto is a small-time racer and mechanic who owns a garage and family restaurant, and his major claim to fame is stealing several loads of DVD players. By Fast Five (his third major appearance in the series), he's built a massive operation that is capable of pulling multi-million dollar scores, and by Furious 7, he and his team are called upon by the U.S. Government to help them stop a terrorist operation.
    • The villains. In the first film, Johnny Tran was a small-time criminal. In the second, Carter Verone was a major drug dealer. In the third film, DK was also small time but had a Yakuza uncle. The fourth film has Braga, the leader of a major cartel. The Fifth film has Reyes, who has pretty much everyone in Rio in his pocket. The sixth film has Owen Shaw, who has his hands in almost everyone's pockets, including the CIA and the DEA. The seventh has Owen's brother, Deckard, who's played by Jason Statham, alongside Thai martial artist Tony Jaa and a terrorist leader played by Djimon Hounsou.
  • Jurassic Park: Isla Nublar goes from hosting a handful of VIPs taking a preview tour of a few barely-functioning attractions in Jurassic Park to a fully open and populated resort zoo with hundreds of dinosaurs and thousands of guests in Jurassic World. The effects, action, and deaths scale up commensurately.
    • Similarly, the climax of The Lost World: Jurassic Park involved a bull Tyrannosaurus rex being brought to San Diego and wreaking havoc before he's recaptured and returned to Isla Sorna. In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, numerous dinosaurs are taken from Isla Nublar and brought to Northern California...and instead of going back to the island, they're unleashed on the United States.
  • According to Matt Damon, Jason Bourne is said to be even bigger than the first four movies in The Bourne Series.
  • The sequel to Jack Reacher, Never Go Back, features more shootouts, fights, car chases, and explosions, the last of which didn't occur in the first movie.
  • The Airport series went this way. Airport had a bomb go off in the cabin forcing a landing during a snowstorm Airport 75 had a hole in the cockpit sucking out the crew and the mid-air insertion of a pilot. Airport 77 had the plane crash and sink into the ocean. Also, in each film, the plane was the most modern jumbo jet. Aiport 79 used The Concorde.
  • In Halloweentown, Marnie doesn't realize she's a witch until several minutes in, and proceeds to help defeat a threat that remains isolated to the eponymous town. In Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge, Marnie (who now has two years' worth of magical training under her belt) performs witchcraft throughout the story, and helps defeat an enemy threatening both Halloweentown and the mortal world.
  • The Star Trek Continuity Reboot films, regarding what happens to the Enterprise.
    • In the first one, she takes battle damage but is still capable of warp speed and combat.
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, she's severely damaged to the point of falling out of Earth orbit and nearly crashing before restoring power at the last minute. It takes a year of repairs before she can fly again.
    • In Star Trek Beyond, she's finally destroyed.
  • In the first John Wick, the titular character was fighting The Mafiya in New York City. In the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2, he's fighting an organization of assassins in Rome.
  • 2-Headed Shark Attack is followed by 3-Headed Shark Attack and 5-Headed Shark Attack, with a 6-header on the way.
  • Deadpool has an escalating triple Take That!: In the first movie, he (played by Ryan Reynolds) begs that his supersuit not be made green or animated, claims Ryan Reynolds has no acting ability, and claims he had to blow Hugh Jackman to get his own movie. Deadpool 2 opens by spoiling the ending of Logan where Wolverine dies, and ends with Deadpool not only going back in time to shoot the mouthless version of himself from [1], but shooting Ryan Reynolds himself before he can ruin the Green Lantern movie.
  • The Riddick trilogy plays this straight and subverts it. Pitch Black is a Survival Horror with a group of ship passengers trying to escape a planet while avoiding deadly creatures. The Chronicles of Riddick has the titular character fighting a fleet of space undead, whose leader has superpowers. Riddick then returns to its roots and essentially rehashes the plot of the first film.

  • Matthew Reilly has this trope as a self-stated aim. In each book, he tries to include more action, More Dakka, bigger threats... and tries to make it go faster. After Scarecrow, he did a change of genre to escape from this, and immediately started all over again with his new trilogy.
  • With a few exceptions, the Honor Harrington series sees Honor move up to command a larger navy in a larger plot for larger stakes up to Book 12 at least. She maxes out in book thirteen, where she commands an allied fleet consisting of Manticoran, Grayson, and Havenite fleets of ships-of-the-wall. The climax of the first book is a duel between a ship that can launch 2 missiles at the time and one that can launch 6. Book 12 features a Curb-Stomp Battle with an opening salvo of 50.000 missiles. From the losing side.
  • The Lord of the Rings is this to The Hobbit, albeit not a deliberate example; it "grew in the telling". The Silmarillion is an even-more-escalated prequel with a scope that includes the creation of the universe, battles between angels with powers we would associate with gods, the rise and fall of multiple civilizations and the sinking of a couple major continents.
  • Inverted in L. Sprague de Camp's "Johnny Black" stories. In the first story the titular uplifted black bear saves the world, in the final one he saves his creator from getting fired. In an afterword de Camp apologized to the readers for that, saying he had forgotten while writing them that the next story wouldn't seem as good if it didn't top the previous one.
  • The violence and level of dystopia seems only to increase with each Hunger Games installment.
  • Zig-zagged in the Harry Potter series. The second book downgrades the stakes (it's the fate of the school rather than the entire world), but upgrades the set pieces (encountering one creepy guy in the Forbidden Forest vs. encountering a colony of Giant Spiders in the Forbidden Forest, for example). The third book has the lowest stakes of any book in the series, as the danger is essentially only a threat to one specific individual (Harry) and even that turns out to be an illusion. Then there is a true threat towards only two wrongfully accused: Sirius Black and Buckbeak. After Voldemort returns to power, the stakes remain constant (the entire world, again), but with Voldemort's power constantly increasing. The last book itself is the biggest and most epic in the series.
  • The Dresden Files: The scale of just how powerful the people involved in the plot are increases over time. In the first book, Harry can channel lightning. Third book, he empowers an army of ghosts to fight for him. Seventh book, he raises a Tyrannosaurus rex from the dead, and in Changes, he genocides the Red Court of Vampires.
  • Ian Fleming's James Bond novels escalated very quickly in the beginning. The first novel, Casino Royale, essentially boils down to Bond playing a high-stakes game of cards with a communist agent followed by a car chase. By the time the third book, Moonraker, came about, Bond was battling Neo-Nazis planning on destroying London with a nuclear missile. Later Bond stories would weave back and forth between fairly mundane crimes like diamond smuggling and more extravagant situations like nuclear warheads being stolen.
  • The Heroes of Olympus seriously ups the stakes from its predecessor series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Instead of fighting the Titans to stop Olympus from crumbling, the second series involves fighting Gaea, the progenitor of the Titans aka the Earth itself.
  • Inverted by Sword Art Online. The series starts with ten thousand people trapped in an online death game. Then the sequel lowers the stakes to just a few hundred survivors of the first incident now stuck in a coma and being used as test subjects by a Corrupt Corporate Executive. The third arc lowers the stakes even further, focusing on a murder mystery with a relatively small body count. The fourth arc is simply a quest to obtain an in-game sword in a perfectly safe MMORPG.
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the Actionized Sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, has a first half set in outer space as Willy Wonka and the Bucket family wind up in orbit in said elevator and manage to rescue most of the crew of a space hotel from carnivorous aliens. After a Halfway Plot Switch, the heroes are back in the factory, but the three still-bedridden grandparents have a misadventure with Fountain of Youth pills that requires an Orphean Rescue of Grandma Georgina. In both halves, the stakes are life-and-death and taken a bit more seriously than in the first book. As well, Willy Wonka is the protagonist this time rather than Audience Surrogate Charlie, and his eccentric hijinks are given a lot of page time (e.g. a stretch in which he basically trolls Earth by claiming he and his companions are aliens), and besides three new Oompa-Loompa songs, there are also several songs/poems for Willy Wonka and even one for the President of the United States's nanny/vice president!
  • A Song of Ice and Fire just started on the whoddunit (Jon Arryn's death and Bran Stark's crippling) which led to the discovery of Cersei and Jaime's Twincest and that their three children are illegitimate heirs to the Iron Throne and that escalated to Ned Stark's death and the War of the Five Kings. The third book increased the death count with the Red Wedding and revelation on how the war actually started. The fourth and fifth book (actually it's supposed to be one book) seemed to downgrade the stakes only that there are new players in the game of thrones, squandering on the aftermath of the war. While majority of the characters are busy with their shennanigans in the south, the army of the undead led by the Others are marching from the North.
  • The first Madeline book is a realistic portrait of the little girls' everyday lives and of Madeline going to the hospital with appendicitis. The second and third books are more action-driven, but keep the everyday Paris setting and realistic tone. Then come the adventure-driven fourth and fifth books, which involve traveling with a gypsy circus and taking a trip to London. The Christmas book (the last by original author Ludwig Bemelmans) goes back to the boarding school setting, but introduces fantasy with a magician character. Most of the recent books, written by Bemelmans's grandson, have also kept the adventurous/fantastical tone of books #4, #5 and #6.
  • Daniel Arenson seems to be particularly fond of this. Each trilogy in the Dragons of Requiem series starts out with a fairly tame Big Bad, but things get darker and more gruesome with each book. Take the Song of Dragons trilogy, the first written but chronological second trilogy. The villain of the first book is a human with an army of humans and gryphons behind him. For the second a legion of non-corporeal soul-eating shadow creatures is unleashed. The third caps things off with an army of manufactured undead creatures which make Frankestein's Monster look like a children's doll; cutting off a limb results in a disembodied limb attacking you alongside every other body part you've severed, and they include dragon sized amalgamations of human body parts. Only fire effectively kills them, too bad the heroes can't Shape Shift into dragons in their presence, because the stone which animates them nullifies all magic in a several hundred foot radius.
  • Nursery Crime: The second book raises the stakes considerably, adding an escaped serial killer and a government conspiracy, whereas the first merely involves a few murders.
  • Darkness Falls: The main Darkness Falls trilogy has this. The first novel has the Family fighting for only their lives against the Elders and Luna. The second book raises the stakes to the entire planet. The third and final book escalates this to a battle for every realm and creature in existence.
  • Given that Life, the Universe and Everything was originally supposed to be a Doctor Who episode, the Pinball Protagonists of the previous two The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels are now on a quest to save the universe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Each subsequent season of The Wire explored a new element of Baltimore (in addition to the cops vs. drug dealers element introduced in the first season) while adding many, many new characters each year, many of whom stayed on the show till its end.
  • The second season of The Mandalorian widens its ties to the Star Wars universe by featuring the likes of Cobb Vanth, Boba Fett, Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, Dark Troopers and even Luke Skywalker. It also reveals the backstory and name of Baby Yoda: Grogu, a survivor of Order 66 and features the Jedi homeworld of Tython as one of its new locations.
  • The locales for the first three seasons of Survivor became progressively harder for the contestants to live in. During "Borneo", the contestants were merely very uncomfortable. During "Australian Outback", Elisabeth almost died of starvation, Barramundi's camp was completely flooded out, and early on there were wild fires near Ogakor's campsite. During "Africa", which had the most oppressive heat of any season by far, several contestants contracted various illnesses which took them months or even years to recover from, plus the extreme scarcity of water and the very likely chance that one of the players could have been eaten by one of the wild animals roaming around. Season 4, which was supposed to take place in Jordan (apparently it was supposed to be called Survivor: "Arabia") would have continued this escalation, but the events of September 11th stopped this dead in its tracks.
  • The first season of 24 was primarily based around Jack trying to prevent an single assassination attempt. The second season was around trying to prevent a nuclear weapon from destroying Los Angeles. The third was around trying to stop a biological weapon that could cripple the United States (and possibly the world). After that, you can always just assume the stakes are really really high.
  • Person of Interest starts off as a relatively low stakes Police Procedural, with a vigilante hero gaining information from a mysterious source. It is eventually realized that the source of the intelligence the characters are receiving is The Machine. A second AI, Samaritan is eventually developed, with the stakes rising further each season that it exists. The season 4 finale ends with The Machine going offline.
  • Adam-12's first season's title sequence had the police car simply cruising along as it receives its calls from the dispatcher. In subsequent seasons, the cops are alerted to a crime in progress and told to handle it "Code-3" (With lights and sirens engaged). A later season ups the action still more as an Emergency Squad Scramble with the cops rushing to their cruiser to rush the action in Code-3.
  • Many reality and talent TV shows began as series of simple and sensible elimination episodes, with the last remaining ones battling for the title in the "final" episode. A dozen years later, a typical season includes something like twenty semifinals, five finals, and one "superfinal" episode. Patiently waiting until several superfinalists will have to face each other in a "hyperfinal" episode or something.

    Newspaper Comics 



    Video Games 
  • Ar tonelico has the first game where you fight a single rogue Reyvateil that caused the end of the world, the second one has you create a floating continent, and the 3rd one has you restoring the planet to its past self. And in Ar Nosurge you create a PLANET. However, it's also partially subverted in Ar nosurge's prequel Ciel nosurge, as you do nothing but keep an amnesic girl company and restore her memories.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • The series Zig-zags this. Assassin's Creed II was a major improvement over the first one, but Brotherhood and Revelations, while adding some cool new weapons and mechanics, were more or less Mission pack sequels to II. Assassin's Creed III added even more to the map, and offered some new mechanics, such as crafting. IV followed on III's footsteps by having even more map, but much of it was water to sail on, and a few on foot weapons were removed. While Assassin's Creed: Unity didn't restore everything that IV threw overboard, it focused more on the smaller details, greatly improving the graphics, Parkour animations and cities.
    • Inverted with the Hidden Blade. In the first game, it offered one hit counter-kills even on bosses, having a very small countering window, and blocking and normal attacks weren't possible with the blade. The sequel allowed blocking and attacking, as well as one hit-counter kills, but not on bosses anymore. Brotherhood expanded the countering window, as did revelations... From ACIII to Assassin's Creed: Rogue it was just an another weapon, losing it's uniqueness. From Unity forward, it lost it's combat abilities, as became an assassination-only weapon.
  • Bloons Tower Defense series, in terms of both towers and enemies:
    • Tower varieties:
      • The first game only has five towers: Dart, Tack, Bomb, Ice, and Super. The second adds Boomerang to the mix, while the third adds the Spike-o-pult (later fused with Dart) and the supportive Monkey Beacon.
      • The fourth game doubles the tower varieties by adding Glue Gunner, Ace, Mortar, Wizard/Apprentice, Buccaneer, Dartling Gun, Spike Factory, and the money-generating Banana Farms.
      • The fifth game adds six towers on top of all the previous ones: Sniper, Ninja, Engineer, Bloonchipper, Heli, and Submarines.
      • The sixth game tones it down with only two new towers, the Druid and Alchemist. On the other hand, it introduces heroes, which are capable of levelling up by themselves. As of version 11 of the game, there are eight heroes in the game.
    • Tower upgrades:
      • In the first two games, each tower has two separate upgrades and that's it, with fairly basic effect like "attacks faster" or "more range".
      • The third game adds "second tier" upgrades that need the first tier upgrades to be bought first, for a total of four upgrades per tower. The effects are still pretty basic, such as "attacks even faster".
      • The fourth game only have one upgrade path per tower, but with four tiers. The third and fourth tier upgrades usually affects the tower in a pretty significant way. For example, the Tack Shooter turns from shooting small tacks into larger saw-blades, and then further into emitting rings of fire. The Buccaneer's final upgrade triples its attack speed, massively increasing its power.
      • The fifth game also have four tiers of upgrades, but now each tower has two upgrade paths to choose from. In addition, the top upgrade in the second path also gives the tower an activated ability. For example, the Glue Gunner can choose whether to upgrade into shooting highly corrosive glue or shooting normal glue faster with an ability to glue all bloons at once. In addition, because the upgrades are split into two paths, the overall power level is higher than the fourth game. The fourth tier upgrade that grants Buccaneer triple attack speed above? Now it's now only a third tier upgrade, with the fourth tier turning the boat into a carrier that shoots miniature planes.
      • The sixth game improves the upgrade choices into three paths, as well as having fifth tier upgrades that are so powerful you can only have one of each type. Think the Juggernaut's giant spiked ball is impressive? Now you have the Ultra Juggernaut, which shoots even bigger spiked balls, which then split into multiple spiked balls. The Tack Shooter in 5 can choose between shooting flames or a storm of buzz-saws. Now it has a third choice: Keep shooting tacks, but a lot more tacks and a lot more faster.
    • Bloons:
      • In the first game, the strongest Bloon types are the Black and White Bloons. They're unique that they're immune to explosion and freezing, respectively.
      • Second game introduces the Lead Bloon, which is immune to sharp attacks, and contain Black Bloons inside them. The strongest, however, is the Rainbow Bloon, which has no immunities but spawn two Blacks and two Whites when popped.
      • Third game introduces Ceramic Bloons, which actually need multiple hits just to break the ceramic layer, after which it spawns Rainbows. It introduces the first blimp of the series, the MOAB, which takes a lot of hits to be destroyed, and spawns into Ceramics.
      • The fourth game upped the ante with BFB. It's slower, but much tougher than a MOAB. But when destroyed it spawns four MOABs. It also inserts the very fast Pink and the multiple-immunity Zebra into the Bloon hierarchy and introduces the Camo mechanic.
      • The fifth game topped it up with the ZOMG. As you may guess, it's much tougher than the BFB, and spawns into four BFBs when destroyed. It also introduces the Regrow property besides Camo. The spinoff Bloons Monkey City introduces the DDT, which in a subversion is much weaker than the ZOMG, but much faster and has all of Camo, Black, and Lead properties at once.
      • The sixth game now has the BAD. Not only it's five times tougher than ZOMG, it can also shrug off any attempts at slowing its progress. It pops into two ZOMGs and three DDTs, which can catch players off guard. In addition, it has the Fortified property, which doubles a Bloon's health, and can be applied to blimps.
  • In Boogeyman, the titular monster has four ways to get into the Player Character's room. A vent, a closet, a door, and a window. In Boogeyman 2, all those entryways remain, but a small tent has been added as a means of entrance for the boogeyman.
  • Portal started out as a simple proof of concept with some witty writing and some brand new game play. In other words, a test. Now look at Portal 2: the full length single-player campaign is 3-4 times longer than the original, has a lot more areas to explore, a lot of new gameplay mechanicsnote , a very well written story without saying outright what happened, some very memorable characters, and some scenery that will make any other laboratory feel insecure (admit it, Lower Aperture Laboratories took quite a few elements from fictitious 1960s nuclear bunkers, the Modern Laboratories have bottomless pits [still above the older labs] and testing rooms that might remind some people of the floating mountains from Avatar.) Now this is just single player, the co-op missions have two players with two portals of their own to shoot, and as a result, the puzzles are a lot more complicated.
  • Resident Evil 2 ups the scale from one mansion to the whole town.
  • Resident Evil 2 mostly takes place in the city's police station, but Resident Evil 3 allows you to visit more places such as the Downtown and Uptown portions of the city, a Hospital, and a Park.
  • Granblue Fantasy: The Anniversary / Birthday Milestones annually introduce or tease plenty of gameplay mechanics and additions, as well as quality-of-life improvements, and changes based on community feedback. Such mechanics like the Eternals, and Seraphic Weapons were released during these anniversary events.
    • Lore-wise, What Makes the Sky Blue: Paradise Lost, the 2018 sequel to the 3rd Birthday event turns things Up to Eleven by starting with Lucifer's defeat at the hands of Beelzebub, and his head severed. Gameplay-wise, the 2018 event is also evident of the changes made since the game's state on March 2017 - The free event character is an SSR, compared to the 3rd Birthday's SR. Paradise Lost also introduced free and gacha SSRs that have Sub-Auras (something that only the Arcarum Summons introduced in Late 2017 have), the Honor / Badge rewards now give Arcarum-related items, as well as the inclusion of Impossible-difficulty raid battles.
  • Grand Theft Auto started a Sequel Escalation after taking the jump to full 3D. Grand Theft Auto III and Liberty City Stories take place in a very small Liberty City, Vice City and Vice City Stories take place in a larger Vice City, and San Andreas finally ups the ante and places the action in an entire state. Then it seems to have crossed something akin to the Bishōnen Line and shrank back down to a Darker and Edgier version of the small Liberty City with Grand Theft Auto IV. Grand Theft Auto V is bigger than the maps of San Andreas, IV, and Red Dead Redemption combined, however. The GTA4 version of Liberty City is of comparable size (but not quite as big) as San Andreas, though, but with greater detail in the area depicted.
  • The first Gran Turismo had at least 150 cars. Then Gran Turismo 2 came out and they added a whooping 500 cars to the list. Gran Turismo 3 however inverts this due to the Generation Jump, but 4 does it again. Then 5 came up and managed to have a total of 1000 cars. AND THEN 6 got released and had 1200 cars. There are some drawbacks of this, such as in 5 they imported a lot of the cars from the previous games with no change at all and most of the cars being Japanese and from Nissan.
  • Hideo Kojima did this semi-purposely in the Metal Gear series to keep it from getting stale. The villains in the games up to the original Metal Gear Solid were basically just extraordinary soldiers. In order to keep fans interested he gave the villains in Sons of Liberty super-powers. In the next installment, Snake Eater, the player fought World War legends, one of which attacked the player with bees. This maybe an accidental subversion as well since in Snake Eater the player takes control of the future Big Boss, the antagonist of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, meaning that Solid Snake has already beaten the toughest character in the series all along.
    • There were super-soldiers in the first game too, in fact if anything FOXHOUND were more impressive than Dead Cell, as only Vamp had genuine super-abilities (and Fortune isn't technically a "boss fight" in any meaningful sense). In FOXHOUND, Vulcan Raven is a giant Shaman, Psycho Mantis is a powerful psychic, and Liquid is a literal super-soldier genetically engineered for the purpose (Solidus, from the second game, is also a such a person but Liquid was designed to be the superior). You also have to take on a cyborg ninja version of another legendary soldier, whereas in the sequel a lesser version of this character actually helps you out. As far as the villains go, the first lot were superior to the second, in terms of supernatural abilities.
    • The latest model of Metal Gear itself was always the penultimate boss in each game up until Metal Gear Solid. In Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden fights not just one, but a whole bunch of them that were built to overpower the last model from the previous game. In Metal Gear Solid 4, Old Snake fights a pseudo-Metal Gear model called Gekko as a common enemy in the very first level.
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake fights a HIND helicopter piloted by Liquid Snake. In Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden fights a Harrier Jet piloted by Solidus Snake.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance throws logic to the wayside and has Raiden fight armies of cyborg mooks, plus a Metal Gear RAY, and near the end of the game, Metal Gear EXCELSUS, a Metal Gear big enough to eat other Metal Gears for breakfast. EXCELSUS's pilot, The final boss, is in short, the most absurd and over-the-top thing in the Metal Gear series: a fusion of man and nanomachines. However, this could be excused due to this game being partially developed by PlatinumGames, who is used to developing over-the-top games.
  • Gears of War did this to phenomenal effect, largely because the first game was already over-the-top, but it also left many fans wanting so much more. For example, the first game hinted at a major boss battle featuring a bipedal dinosaur-like creature called a brumak, but you never got to fight it until the PC version. In the sequel, one level has five of these ... at once. But they not only ramped up the scale, they also included a surprisingly powerful character story with Dom searching for his wife.
    • Gears of War 3 keeps things rolling by fleshing out an entire new faction only previously mentioned (the Lambent Locust). It also shows humanity to be in widespread disarray and on the verge of collapse with no real government remaining. The final parts of the campaign are the resolution of the question of which of Sera's three sentient species will annihilate the other two — and it's a very close race.
  • Halo:
    • Pretty much every game, in one way or another, ups the scale of the combat; for example:
      • Halo 2 gave you one Scarab to fight, which already took half a level to defeat. Halo 3 gives you four.
      • A vehicle combat example; in Halo: Combat Evolved, you're the only good guy who can drive, there isn't much dog-fighting, and even in a tank you're mostly fighting scattered infantry and a few vehicles. In Halo 2, there are a few allied vehicles fighting besides you, some extended dog-fighting moments, and vehicle sequences where you're taking on small armies. In Halo 3, you're often leading your army of vehicles against theirs, with massive vehicle battle sequences (both on the ground and in the air) that can flow right into each other.
      • Halo 4's Spartan Ops was an effort to one-up Halo: Reach's Firefight by turning the four-player-vs-environment mode into an entire campaign. People ended up missing Firefight, but Halo 5: Guardians's Firefight made up for it by dramatically upping the scale even compared to Spartan Ops, with tons more players, weapons, enemies, while still keeping the traditional Firefight format.
    • The first game was a straightforward and relatively small-scale story about the Chief preventing largely impersonal enemies from taking one ringworld in an obscure corner of the galaxy. Halo 2 widens the scale of the plot considerably; it has fighting in multiple worlds ranging from Earth to a giant alien city-ship to another ringworld, the politics of an entire alien empire, massive scale battles going on just in the background, two galaxy-saving protagonists, two galaxy-ending Big Bads, and galaxy-shaking events where Nothing Is the Same Anymore.
    • The scale of threat was practically exponential in the original trilogy. Your main threats in the first game are a single small Covenant fleet and an early stage Flood infestation, and no one (except you, really) comes close to destroying the galaxy. In Halo 2, you're fighting a massive combined Covenant fleet and an advanced Flood infestation on the verge of breaking out, and Earth itself comes under attack. In Halo 3, you're fighting the personal fleet of the Covenant's head honcho and a space-capable Flood infestation, with both on the verge of killing every one; as one character points out, "The fate of every sentient being in the galaxy rests in your hands." But y'know, no pressure.
    • Bungie's final two games may be on a slightly smaller scale compared to the main series, but they still have this trope going on relative to each other: Halo 3: ODST is a Lower-Deck Episode focusing on a squad of Badass Normals fighting against an already weakened Covenant, and taking place in a single city over the course of the day. Halo: Reach focuses on a squad of Super Soldiers fighting against the full might of the Covenant across an entire planet (and in space) over the course of an entire month.
  • Turrican II took the first Turrican's already large levels and made them ludicrously enormous. It worked amazingly.
  • Tetris: The Grand Master peaks out in speed and difficulty when pieces start dropping instantly. Tetris: The Grand Master 2 made the game even faster and more Nintendo Hard than its predecessor by gradually decreasing the delays for piece appearance and piece lock delay, shortening the line clear animation after you reach instant-drop speed, and adding an invisible credit roll challenge to get the titular Grand Master rank. Tetris: The Grand Master 3 shortens these even more, and scores you on finesse during the credit roll challenge, in addition to requiring you to get a Grand Master-worthy score 4 out of 7 games before giving you the Promotional Exam in which you can actually earn the rank.
  • Supreme Commander was fairly involved in terms of creating and managing your army, with the final mission putting you up against one of the Aeon experimental units as a sort of Boss Fight. The Forged Alliance standalone expansion sics a Serphim experimental on you in the very first mission, and it only gets more intense from there.
  • The console installments of the F-Zero series crank up the maximum speed with each new installment. In the first installment, you normally can't go faster than 478 km/h, but dash arrows allow you go up to about 970 momentarily. F-Zero X sets the norm to 700-800 km/h, with boosts enabling you to reach about 1,300-1,400. F-Zero GX brings average speeds to the 970-1,100 range, with boosts speeds going beyond 2,000.
  • Kid Icarus is the story of Pit the angel fighting to defeat the evil goddess Medusa. Kid Icarus: Uprising features more-or-less the same story ... for the first third of the game. After Medusa's defeat, Hades promises to make Medusa look like "a cute, cuddly bunny" compared to him. From there, Pit must butt heads with a nature goddess with an arsenal of Fantastic Nukes at her disposal, an alien race determined to consume the world, an ancient monster that possesses his goddess Palutena, and various members of the Greek pantheon of Gods on his way to fight Hades. It's almost like they crammed the stories of several games into one to make up for the 25 year Sequel Gap the series had.
  • Ace Combat: The first superfighter, the XFA-27 in 2, didn't have anything particularly OTT apart from being able to launch four missiles in one salvo. If we skip over the planes from 3, the X-02 Wyvern from 4 is next, still not OTT in weapons although it has switchblade wings now. The ADF-01F Falken from 5 was the first (ignoring 3, as aforementioned) to mount a laser weapon. The ADFX-01 Morgan from Zero added the nuke-like MPBM. Then the CFA-44 Nosferatu from 6 swaps the MPBM out from the cluster missile ADMM. X may fit in there somewhere...
    • It does, the Fenrir has the ungodly LSWM, which if you hit the missile at a specific target, the blast radius will be enough to destroy all the targets and win you the match, in theory...
    • When it comes to the amount of enemies and the scale of battlefields, the series has zig-zagged all over the place, but 04 and especially 6 both played this trope straight (being the first installments for the PS2 and the Xbox 360 respectively is no coincidence), and both also had the following installment heavily inverting the trope. However, when it comes to the amount of flyable aircraft, they invert it, particularly 6 which has the lowest amount of aircraft in the main series.
  • Giga Wing: 14-digit scores. Giga Wing 2: 17 digits. Giga Wing Generations: 20 FREAKING DIGITS.
  • Left 4 Dead intro video. Left 4 Dead 2 intro video.
  • Sony's Resistance 2 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are bigger than their originals in every way.
  • The first game in the Super Robot Wars Original Generation sub-series deals with civil war between The Federation and a Well-Intentioned Extremist, while throwing in an extraterrestrial invasion in the second half of the game. The sequel throws in the first again, but adds in an Alternate Universe faction deciding to perform War for Fun and Profit and an Eldritch Abomination bent on committing a Kill 'Em All scenario on a planetary scale.
  • The first Glider was a 15-room adventure (1 room = 1 screen). "The House" of Glider 4.0 went on for 62 rooms. Finally, Glider PRO's "Slumberland" filled 403 rooms, including outdoor areas which previous games had nothing like.
  • Rhythm games tend to do this with their "boss" or "extra" songs:
    • Guitar Hero II had "Free Bird". Guitar Hero III upped the ante with "Through the Fire and Flames".
    • Dance Dance Revolution started with a difficulty scale from 1 to 8 footprints. Then came the escalation:
      • DDR 3rd Mix introduced 9-foot ratings.
      • DDRMAX (6th Mix) introduced the Extra Stage system, with MAX 300, a song with a tempo of 300 BPM (beats per minute) with 555 steps (18 of which were jumps, and 2 Freeze Arrows) in a minute and a half, which initially had to be played at 1.5x Reverse scroll and a life bar that wouldn't replenish, and was later assigned a 10-foot rating. Completing MAX 300 with a grade of AA or better would earn you the One More Extra Stage, which was Candy, a normal song but played on 3x Reverse, and you fail if you get less than a Great on any step or release a Freeze Arrow too early.
      • DDRMAX 2 (7th Mix) added MaxX Unlimited with 555 steps 45 jumps, and 56 Freeze Arrows, which started at 300 BPM and would speed up and slow down many times, eventually screeching to a halt before jumping to 320 BPM and staying there for the rest of the song, and was to be played on 1.5x Reverse Dark (couldn't see the gray arrows that told you when to step). The One More Extra Stage song became Kakumei, which was slightly significantly more complex than Candy.
      • DDR Extreme set the bar even higher with The Legend of MAX, at 333 BPM and 1.5x Reverse, plus a faster-depleting lifebar. One More Extra Stage was a song titled Dance Dance Revolution, which was actually not any harder, but rather a tribute to previous DDR songs.
      • DDR SuperNOVA had Fascination MAXX and Fascination -eternal love mix-, both of which went up to 400 BPM and would repeatedly halve or double its speed, down to 100 BPM, in addition to pausing briefly at certain points. Extra Stage retained 1.5x Reverse. The One More Extra Stage was CHAOS, which turned the Interface Screw Up to Eleven with its pauses, in addition to disallowing modifiers (no 3x Reverse, either), which actually made CHAOS harder to read.
      • DDR SuperNOVA 2 changed the Extra Stage to use the Oni Mode lifebar, where you lose one segment every time you get less than a Great on any step or release a Freeze Arrow too early, and you fail when you lose the last segment. In addition, the Extra Stage system was slightly overhauled - you actually have to EARN lifebars for it!note  (However, it does allow picking mods.) And of course, there's Pluto, Pluto Relinquish, and Dead End Groove Radar Special.
      • DDR X made a well-needed adjustment to the difficulty scale by re-rating every chart on a scale that goes up to 20. Thanks to how it was done, existing "non-flashing" 10's were ranked around 15 and 16, and the harder "flashing" 10's now got actual difficulty counts, usually either as 17's or 18's. No songs had been introduced that rate as a 19 or 20 yet.
      • DDR X2 adds Replicant-D-Action on top of the usual extra stage system for even more boss song unlocking goodness, including the nasty New Decade, which is a 17 on expert and runs at 400 bpm. After you're done with all 6 of those boss songs, you immediately take on Valkyrie Dimension, which is an 18... on expert. Yes, Challenge difficulty was DDR's first 19! Plus the requirement to get Extra Stage was increased to getting a AA rank on every stage, not just the final stage.
      • DDR X3 vs 2nd Mix adds Paranoia Revolution and Tohoku Evolved. In the former, it had to be unlocked in 2nd Mix mode, which meant 1x, Flat (no colour difference between 4th and 8th notes etc.) and difficulty unheard of in the source game. A Nostalgia Level with its Expert chart made of the hardest parts of older boss songs, it doesn't seem to warrant an 18, until you notice that it ends with the steps of Challenge Fascination Eternal Love Mix, Pluto Relinquish and Valkyrie Dimension. It's Challenge chart is the only other 19 footer and breaks the DDR record of fastest interval between notes - 16ths at 360bpm! The latter breaks the record for highest reading speed - a random corner jump at 1020 bpm.
    • beatmania IIDX started with a 1-7 difficulty scale. 5th Style had the kanji for "forbidden" for some harder 7's, which were later displayed as "flashing 7's" and even later named as "7+". Eventually, the 7+ difficulty became an 8, and the 8+ was introduced. The scale now ranks up to 12.
    • For most of the series' history, Guitar Freaks and Drum Mania have had a scale with a 2-digit number for difficulty, with the boss songs usually having a rating in the 90's on Extreme difficulty. In V5, performing well on the Extra Stage earns you the Infinity Stage, with the song Rock to Infinity, which is rated infinity on Extreme and gives "Through the Fire and Flames" a run for its money.note 
    • Rock Band 2 ups the ante by having more metal than the first game, pushing the boundaries for drums and guitar, but the maximum difficulty is really pushed in Rock Band 3, which introduced the pro modes (while keeping the normal ones). The number of buttons on the guitar fretboard jumped from 5 to 102 (68 for bass), with the other hand handling six (four) 'strings' instead of one. Drums just added cymbals, jumping from 5 inputs to 8, and Keyboard, which was new anyway, jumped from 5 keys to 25. Moreover, some of the drum charts in RB3 (pro or not) are just insane. The main Rock Band games also present an inversion of this trope storyline-wise. The final challenge (barring the Endless Setlist) in the first game has you playing to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, whereas the second has you playing to be featured in Rolling Stone magazine.
  • The Ace Attorney series keeps upping the odds and the drama with each case.
    • The first of the Phoenix arc is simply rescuing your long-lost best friend from a false murder charge, the second involves intrigue in show business and the kidnapping of your assistant/friend Maya as insurance against the (guilty) client being found guilty, and the third has Phoenix facing off against the vengeful spirit of his serial killer ex-girlfriend before the true murderer is even found. Apollo Justice deals with a seven-year-old Batman Gambit and pushing through a completely new trial system, while Investigations puts Edgeworth against a smuggling ring that is responsible for or connected to every murder in the game.
    • Investigations 2 starts off with the assassination of the Zheng Fa president. It ends with a successful one. Of a body double, that is, who pulled a successful one on the real president years ago. And you get to solve that case too.
    • This goes Up to Eleven in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies thanks to a transfer from Nintendo DS to Nintendo 3DS. It starts with a courtroom bombing and gets bigger from there.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice starts with Phoenix taking on trials in a country that made being a lawyer punishable by death, and deals with a full-on revolution. Oh, and who's the Big Bad of the game? The current Queen of said country, who controls the entire legal system and can re-write the law whenever she wants. By the end of the trial, everyone is held up at gunpoint by her guards. And yes, you do get to take her down.
  • DonPachi:
    • Each game progressively gets crazier with even more Bullet Hell and a True Final Boss that takes Bullet Hell to progressive levels of insanity.
    • The combos. Getting a 100 combo in DoDonPachi is an achievement, while in DoDonPachi it simply takes some effort. DoDonPachi dai ou jou's Hyper system makes that trivial, and in DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu? Come back when you get a 10,000 combo.
    • In an inversion of this trope, most players regard Dai-Fukkatsu's first loop as easier than those of its predecessors. No one's listening, though.
  • Final Fight 2, the straight-to-Super NES sequel to the original Final Fight, changed the setting from Metro City to various cities around the Eurasian continent. Despite this, the game is barely that different in terms of gameplay compared to the original game and was mostly made to make up for the lack of a 2-Player Mode in the original SNES port.
  • In the first Double Dragon, the player's mission is to rescue Marian; in the second game, the objective is to avenge her death.
  • Mass Effect features cool teammates, action cutscenes, epic badassery, emotion and geek humor. Mass Effect 2 features more teammates, more action cutscenes, More Dakka, more epic badassery, more emotion and more geek humor. You may guess the results. Mass Effect 3 is taking this even further by starting the game with the massive invasion of a race of Eldritch Abomination Abusive Precursors by the thousands who have wiped out all galactic civilization countless times before, who are very angry with the player character.
    • Mass Effect 2 is kind of an aversion: the first game has the fate of all organic life in the Milky Way at stake, whereas the second focuses on attacks that only target humanity; sure the Collectors kill hundreds of thousands of people, but if Sovereign had succeeded, the death toll would have been at least in the hundreds of billions. Played straight when comparing 3 to its predecessors: while the threat to the galaxy is the same throughout the series, it's much more direct, and the odds of success much worse, in the third game.
  • In Devil May Cry 1, the Kick13 move was a single roundhouse and its Devil Triggered version was a punch-kick combo. In 4, the combo is now standard and the DT version has even more hits. In 3 the Drive move was a single, somewhat slow shockwave, while in 4 it comes out faster and Dante can use three in a row. In 3, the You Will Not Evade Me move was only available as a situational part of the Stance System, while in 4 it becomes integral to the combat
  • The "Meet the Team" videos in Team Fortress 2 become a lot more ambitious as they go. Compare Meet the Heavy and Meet the Spy for the best example. Meet the Medic takes it to new heights. And then there was Meet the Pyro.
  • In going from Modern Warfare to Modern Warfare 2, the killstreak rewards got bigger and better. There's also the fact that America gets invaded, you get to play as more people and the plot takes you to locations all around the world. And of course, the Twist Ending.
  • In the first Metal Slug, basic enemies were limited to the usual Rebellion Army soldiers, the only Slug you used was the basic tank, and the final boss was Morden in a helicopter. By the time Metal Slug 3 rolls around, that very same final boss and level are only the halfway point of the game, and you've already fought zombies, mummies, man-eating plants, and the Mars People. The final fight of 3 takes you to space to battle the Mars People mothership, and to even access the interior you have to fight Metal Slug 2's final boss again. The actual final battle is a free fall to Earth versus Rootmars, the alien commander.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the first game, the main characters had about 30 HP to start, which grew to about 500-750 by the end. The final boss here had exactly 4000 HP. In Final Fantasy VIII, the starting HP is about 500 and it's about 2500-3500 HP near the end. This game's final boss has over A QUARTER MILLION HP, and you can only hit four digits of damage. And that's not even counting Final Fantasy XIII — there are trash mobs with health in the millions.
    • The magic and summon animations also have gotten flashier and longer as the series progresses. What used to take nothing more than a few seconds to watch Bahamut blast every enemy on the field in the earlier games evolved to an extended sequence showing Bahamut flying up high in the sky, charging his attack, and then watching the attack shoot down to the ground and explode on all enemies. Depending on the game, some players may find it easier and faster to level grind and just smash everything with swords than to use powerful magic that takes a while to finish its animations.
    • Final Fantasy XIV started off having relatively little story content at launch (but one of the many criticisms leveled against the original release). Near the end of the 1.0 version's run, The Empire came knocking while summoned Primals formed another threat against the world. The relaunch, A Realm Reborn, continued the story from a near-apocalypse inflicted upon the realm of Eorzea, with each expansion thereafter adding more areas to explore and new threats to contend with: a Corrupt Church and an army of dragons in Heavensward, the aforementioned Empire's conquered territories in Stormblood, and The Multiverse in Shadowbringers.
    • In terms of sheer content: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has just over 70 songs, not including DLC. Its sequel, Curtain Call, has more than three times that number at 221.
  • Kingdom Hearts does this to a smaller extent than Final Fantasy. The first game has bosses that have about 300-1500 HP (according to the Guide) which are represented by bars. A boss with four was considered a lot, and the Bonus Boss Sephiroth has about six. Meanwhile in Birth By Sleep? There are enemies with a lot more than just four health bars, even if the health bars deplete faster after II. (this includes Chain of Memories)
    • Compare any of Sora's limits from the KHI or KHII to what Ven, Terra, or Aqua can do with their normal fighting styles. Sora's Trinity Limit almost pales in comparison to some of their attacks, and it was the strongest move in the original game and took all Sora, Donald, and Goofy to use, the BBS trio travel alone all the time, and perform moves that make the Maleficent dragon boss battle seem like a cake walk compared to her first dragon encounter from the first game. This is at least justified since Aqua is a Keyblade Master, Terra is only a few good deeds short and all three got training from an actual Keyblade Master, where as Sora learned from his own experience.
  • Star Wars Starfighter:
    • The game is all about destroying a single battle droid construction factory and then moving to help out at the Battle of Naboo. Jedi Starfighter is about shutting down all production of a synthetic virus that could wipe out beings in mere seconds, and then moving to prevent the Separatist scientist who invented it from using it in the Battle of Geonosis or after.
    • You can't destroy the Trade Federation landers no matter what, and the last level revolves around the battle against the Droid Control Ship, the only capital ship in the game. In Jedi Starfighter, you destroy one TF Lander in the first level, and several capital ships over the course of the game, including three in the last level alone.
  • During Nintendo's E3 2010 Presentation, while Reggie Fils-Aime mainly placed emphasis on the social element of Dragon Quest IX, he does have this to say about the rest of the game's content:
    Fils-Aime: You could describe it just by the numbers: with 120 mini-quests and additional wi-fi mini-quests, over 300 monsters, over 900 items to customize your character, and an infinite number of randomly generated treasure maps. But that would be selling it short.
  • The SimCity series was originally developed with this in mind. While the games share a lot of the same core gameplay elements, the range of facilities that could be built and the size of land at the player's disposal grew exponentially, peaking in SimCity 4, where utterly large regions containing significant numbers of connected cities could be created. Will Wright would later comment that the series has ended up being inaccessible to new players due to its sheer complexity, which led to the reformulated but simplified SimCity Societies.
  • The Sims changes significantly with each sequel. Even customization options and the way the Sims can change themselves is dramatically different: in the first game, there are adult Sims and child Sims, and never the twain shall meet. In the second game, your Sims age and die, and can also gain and lose weight in a "pop" effect. In the third game, your Sims can age and die and changes due to weight gain and loss, muscle gain and loss, and pregnancy are subtle and incremental. And that's not even including the expansion pack options...
  • BioShock is an interesting case. The sequel has an equally good story, but the villain has the opposite philosophy as the first one. The combat, on the other hand, is so far escalated to be ridiculous. Dual Wielding, playing as a Big Daddy with equally scaled up weapons (from crossbow to spear gun for instance), and the plasmids... The Incinerate alone goes from tossing fire, to tossing exploding fire, to being able to shoot a solid stream of fire. Word of God even states that Jack wouldn't have survived Rapture if he came at this time.
  • We Cheer 2 in terms of the Virtual Paper Doll and Character Customization.
  • Mega Man 2 upped the number of bosses and special items, but also gave a massive increase in the size and variety of the regular enemies you fought. Compare the Mooks of Mega Man 1 to Mega Man 2.
  • Pokémon:
    • Back in Pokémon Red and Blue and Pokémon Gold and Silver, the villains were a bunch of common thugs, with the focus of what little plot the games had being on beating the Elite Four in Gen1 (and Red in Gen2). The Legendaries generally stayed Out of Focus in favor of the To Be a Master/Gotta Catch 'Em All messaging of the marketing, except for Suicune in Crystal. Then we hit Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, where the villains were out to expand the land or sea, and where the Legendary Pokémon played a role in that plot. But it wasn't over yet: Cyrus, head of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl's Team Galactic, was actively out to destroy the universe and remake it in his own image. Beating him involved, depending on your version, catching either the god of space, the god of time, or an Eldritch Abomination personification of antimatter that had a few parallels to Satan. And then you could catch God Himself, if you attended a Nintendo event or used a cheating device. Every generation after than has since zig-zagged in the level of world-ending disaster that the villain's schemes will cause, from Pokémon Black and White wanting Pokémon and humans to be forever separated, to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon having the entire multiverse at risk of destruction.
    • Each generation adds new mechanics to gameplay, but most notably, the number of Pokémon that are catchable greatly increases as well. Pokémon Red and Blue started it off with a total of 151 Pokémon. Gold and Silver upped the ante with 100 new mons. Ruby and Sapphire began the trend of starting the player with a Regional Pokédex of over 150 mons, the majority of which being new additions to the franchise, with all other Pokemon from previous generations being catchable during the post-game. To date, the installment to add the most new Pokemon was Pokémon Black and White with 156 brand new monster, while Pokemon Xand Y has the largest regional at a whopping 450 Pokémon. Oh, and the total number of Pokémon in the series? 807.
    • In terms of Pokémon abilities, the game added new features like latent abilities, weather effects, and so forth over the course of the series. Come Pokémon X and Y, however, a major addition was made in the form of Mega Evolutions, a Super Mode usable by some species of Pokémon that ramps up their capabilities considerably, in addition to changing their appearance. Pokémon Sun and Moon retained Mega Evolutions while also adding Z-Moves, special attacks that, like Mega Evolutions, are only accessible to a certain selection of Pokémon and are far more powerful than other moves, but at the cost of only being usable once per battle. Pokémon Sword and Shield would consolidate Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves into Dynamax, a new Super Mode that allows Pokémon to grow to the size of a building, their stats also skyrocketing with their size while their moveset is temporarily replaced with powerful Max Moves. Unlike Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves, every Pokémon can Dynamax and use Max Moves, although a few species are capable of Gigantamaxing.
    • The names of the games themselves were an escalation from primary colors to increasingly precious metals and stones. Eventually, they couldn't go any further than Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, so the next game series were simply Black and White, which also served as a reboot with a more scaled down plot, and the subsequent games were based on concepts other than colors or minerals.
  • Not necessarily a "sequel", per se, but the continuation of the Spider-Man set of games: In Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, the final mission revolves around blowing up a single S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, an aircraft roughly the size of a small building, to take down Venom once and for all. In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, the Carnage level has one Helicarrier pre-crashed as an integral part of the first fight with Carnage, and Ultimate Spidey has to outrun another crashing Helicarrier later in the stage.
  • Zig-zagged in the Dragon Age series:
  • Diablo. Your most powerful attack is a fireball followed by a magical sword and Nova is forbidden magic relegated to scrolls only, while a mob of six enemies is trouble on the highest difficulty. In the sequel, multishot arrows, chain lightning spear attacks and screenwide frost spells are commonplace. And in Diablo III, even warrior characters are capable of causing avalanches and earthquakes, and you get rewarded for killing 50 demons in a few seconds. Meanwhile the scope of the hostilities escalates from a cursed cathedral in the first game, the entire world in the second game, and the High Heavens in the third.
  • Bug Too! to the original Bug!!. It did take out certain elements (especially the zap cap) but added many new ones in, such as curved platforms, ability to run and hover for the characters, and level selection for each world. It may not have been a good thing, though.
  • Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter will start in the Cruiser-Fusion era and have a "tech forest", multi-planet systems, even bigger ships and generally lots more options to play with.
  • Paper Mario has enemies with HP averaging from 10-20 points for most of the game while bosses hovering around the 50s more or less and the Final Boss and Bonus Boss having 99 HP. Mario's HP and FP can only max out (without the use of badges) to 50. The sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, ramps this up greatly; Mario's HP and FP can reach higher than 50 thanks to the level cap being raised, but boss enemy HP is beefed up as well, pushing near 70 by the last quarter of the game. The Final Boss has 150 HP and the Bonus Boss has 200 HP! By Paper Mario standards, that's a crapton of HP. It's stretched even further in Sticker Star. All bosses after the first have at least 300 HP, and the final boss has 500 HP!
  • The Saints Row series:
    • In the first game, you're a nobody in a downtrodden neighborhood who gets caught in a gang fight, joins a new gang and buys a pistol to "clean up the hood".
    • The second game features lots of explosives, radioactive waste, chainsaws, a gang boss with a minigun, and eventually you fight a private military contractor.
    • The third game features regular mooks with miniguns, airstrikes, hoverbikes, battles against entire enemy platoons of tanks, laser guns everywhere and you blow up two aircraft carriers, including a flying one that's bombing the city into rubble.
    • The fourth game features a full-scale alien invasion where you play as the president of the United States who gets kidnapped by the aliens, is put in The Matrix and then fights them with superpowers.
    • The stand-alone expansion after the fourth game features your character (now God-Emperor of the Universe) kidnapped by Satan, with Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kinsington diving into the depths of Hell to save him...with flaming swords, weaponized recliners, and super powers of their own.
  • Generally speaking, Fighting Game sequels — especially those created within a couple of years of each other — like to increase the number of fighters from one game to another. Street Fighter Alpha is a perfect example. There are exceptions — the Soul Series seems pretty consistent at around 20 characters per game, and the Marvel vs. Capcom series stayed between 15 and 16 non-pallete swap characters for the first 3 games — but an increased headcount is usually on the menu for a sequel.
  • The original Super Smash Bros. features only twelve characters. The sequel, Melee, features over double that number, with the third game, Brawl, having 39 characters, including third-party Guest Fighters Sonic the Hedgehog and Solid Snake. The fourth game has 50 characters, or 52 if you count each Mii fighter type as a different character, with more characters released as DLC. The fifth game - appropriately titled Ultimate - takes this even further by bringing back every character who was ever in a previous game, and then adding new ones on top. The count is at 74 official fighters (many of whom are from non-Nintendo series), plus Echo Fighters (such as Daisy and Dark Pit) and functionally identical reskins (such as the Koopalings and Leaf) who increase the total even further. And that's not counting all the stages, items and extra modes each game adds!
  • Banjo-Tooie is this compared to its predecessor Banjo-Kazooie: The latter was a kind of enhanced Super Mario 64, with more transformations, more collectibles, the ability to shoot eggs, and some other moves. Then Banjo-Tooie retained (almost) all the old moves of the first game since the beginning, introducing more new moves than the total number of moves in the previous game, five new types of eggs, transformations in every level, and these aren't even all the new gimmicks of the game. The size and scale of each stage also increased dramatically, making the first game's stages feel claustrophobic by comparison.
  • The second Devil Survivor game is this. While the first one started its gameplay with the protagonists suddenly being attacked by demons spawning out of their COMPs, the second one kicks off the main storyline by having a subway de-rail and nearly kill off the main characters (after showing them their horrific deaths before it happens). The second game also has FAR more on-screen deaths (one instance being the Eldritch Abomination-of-the-day incinerating four bystanders), a more epic scope (complete with a shadowy underground organization dealing with Japan's paranormal issues over the years and Eldritch Abominations wreaking havoc), more characters, more locations (taking place in multiple cities as opposed to the first one's single place), more cursing, more difficulty, and bigger cup sizes.
  • Devil Survivor 2 got an Updated Re-release that includes a full-fledged second campaign taking place after the first. Where the original campaign ended with the protagonists taking on the Administrator of the Akashic Records, the second campaign has a being of identical power as only the third boss, with the final boss being the system that created the Administrators and the Record, which involves turning the main characters into gods as step one for fighting it.
  • The Super Mario Bros. series: Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 (Mushroom Kingdom and Subcon, respectively) —> Super Mario Bros. 3 (multiple kingdoms). There's also Super Mario 64 (a castle) —> Super Mario Sunshine (an island) —> Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (the entire universe); Super Mario 3D Land dialed it back to Mushroom Kingdom, then Super Mario 3D World changed the setting (Sprixie Kingdom) and Super Mario Odyssey took Mario into multiple kingdoms across the Mario world plus the moon.
  • Present and accounted for in the Quest for Glory series:
    • Quest for Glory I has few particularly powerful threats for you to deal with. There's the Kobold Wizard and Baba Yaga, but the ominous Brigand Warlock turns out to just be the local court jester, who has little real magical power and left the castle to find the Baron's missing daughter. There's not even really a Big Bad to speak of, unless you count Baba Yaga, as the Brigand Leader is the Baron's enchanted daughter, and is "beaten" with a dispell potion.
    • In Quest for Glory II, the Hero must square off against four powerful elementals, each of which can destroy the city of Shapeir, before confronting the wizard attempting to release an evil djinn on the world.
    • Quest for Glory III raises the stakes even further, with the plot of the game being manipulated by a demon attempting to cross its master over into the world (the Quest for Glory series is RIFE with Sealed Evils attempting to be released). Notably, the Coles have specifically said that Wages of War was not part of the original story, and was added specifically because the Hero would not have been strong enough to face the enemies of the next game.
    • Quest for Glory IV, in which the Hero now faces undead in spades, the resurrected Ad Avis and his Dark Master, the vampire Katrina. Oh, and now he's trying to stop a full-blown Eldritch Abomination from being freed! Notably, Baba Yaga, who in the first game pretty thoroughly outmatches the Hero, by the fourth is no longer quite so menacing.
    • Quest for Glory V at first seems like it's going to be an inversion, as the Hero arrives to effectively investigate a murder plot. At least until the world-destroying Dragon of Doom is unleashed by the Big Bad (have we mentioned the series' love of Sealed Evils?)
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel Batman: Arkham City. From the scope of the plot to the cast to the playable area to the combat mechanics to the sidequests, everything got bigger and more complex. City even started Batman out with almost all of his gadgets from the end of Asylum before throwing even more his way. Batman: Arkham Knight has at least triple the playable area City had. Asylum had two (PS3) playable characters; City had four; Knight has eight, with one being a Palette Swap of Batman with harder challenges and less gadgets.
  • There are exactly two things which New World Computing did not escalate between Heroes of Might and Magic I and II: the number of campaigns (four to two — but see below) and the scale of the war (the sparse story of I was a free-for-all war over the throne of Enroth between four contenders, II was a war over the throne of Enroth's succession with two claimants). Everything else — the number of towns, how many artifacts there are, how much actual story there is in the campaigns, how different the campaigns are from each-other (I's were literally the same except for your starting town and each campaign lacking the map about attacking your own stronghold), the number of creatures, the complexity of the skill system, how many spells there are, etc — gets escalated.
  • Zombies, Run!: We'll let the developers explain.
    The story’s even more tense, the risks even greater, and the rewards higher — if things go right you, Runner 5, might just save the world.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series:
  • Xenoblade Chronicles featured a massive world, but planet Mira from Xenoblade Chronicles X is five times as big. It's so massive, there were doubts as to whether it would all fit on a Wii U disk.
  • Borderlands:
    • The first game had a lot of neat boss fights, decent story with an OK villain, an intimidating final boss, and a neat Bonus Boss in Crawmerax. Then Borderlands 2 came along and... totally blew it out of the water. The boss fights were more intense, often had hazards littered about them with extremely inventive fights, a story that plays out amazingly (so much so you'd swear they purposely wrote everything very basic in the original just to expand it further with its incredible plot twists, a Big Bad to top all Big Bads, Handsome Jack, the manipulative sociopathic monster who is always two hundred steps ahead, a final boss that is far harder to kill and is NOT a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, and a new bonus boss in Terramorphous, who makes Crawmerax look like a chew toy. They increased the guns, increased the areas, and total went balls out on making everything new.
    • This applies to the DLC as well. General Knoxx, Island of Dr. Ned, Moxxi's Underdome, and the Claptrap invasion were okay, but Captain Scarlet's, Campaign of Carnage, Big Game Hunt, and Assault on Dragon's Keep clearly had way more effort put into them, and the last one especially seems to be taking the game engine and what they can do with it as far as they can, playing with the characters themselves and just having fun exploring how nuts the gameplay can get when they go all out on it, along with trying out how silly objectives can get. Additionally, the four campaigns from two seem to be more generally received by critics on websites like IGN and Game Informer, whereas General Knoxx had the unfortunate inability to make multiple fast travel stations in the DLC, forcing you to painstakingly make your way back to where you were every time you needed to get there, and Moxxi's underdome was often far too difficult for a solo player to handle, giving an individual much less incentive to play it unless with friends... and they dragged on and on.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy invokes this trope in regards to the scale of the adventure. In Metroid Prime, Samus must contain the threat of Phazon and the mutated Metroid Prime on Tallon IV and prevent the Space Pirates from exploiting it, but the planet itself is mostly scenery. In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Samus must reverse the outcome of a war and save Aether itself and its inhabitants from its Phazon-created dark twin. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption involves the rescue of several such corrupted planets from Phazon itself, with the fate of the entire galaxy at stake. Gameplay-wise, Echoes shifts the balance between puzzle-solving and action towards the latter, and Corruption introduces Hypermode, with represents both a significant power boost for Samus and a personal stake in the outcome, as she has been corrupted as well.
  • A meta-example with Blizzard Entertainment games — with every new game, the game engines' capacities have increased, and thus the Level Editor has gone from Map Editor (War Craft II), Campaign Editor (Starcraft), World Editor (War Craft III), to Galaxy Editor (Starcraft II). For the games themselves, WarCraft II featured Cosmetically Different Sides, a Good/Evil divide, missions consisiting of "kill the enemy base", and Isometric Projection. WarCraft III had four completely different factions, some murkiness on the good/evil, extremely varied missions and a lot more dungeon crawls, cutscenes, leveling hero units, mercenaries, and was in 3D.
  • Each World of Warcraft expansion has pushed all conceivable limits of stat escalation. In classic, with a level cap of 60, even the absolute best geared raiding tank had only a few thousand HP, the hardest raid bosses had a couple million HP, and individual raid geared DPS was measured in hundreds (800 was considered good for Patchwerk, classic's preeminent DPS check). By the end of the 4th expansion, level cap 90, non-tanks were breaking 1 million HP, bosses were dancing around a billion, and individual DPS was easily several hundred thousand and could burst into the million range. Things got so bad the servers couldn't handle crunching all the numbers involved and Blizzard was forced to implement a "stat crunch" which cut everything for current content to roughly 10% of what it had been (though you could still pull the same DPS against legacy content). Two more expansions later, level cap 110, and things went and surpassed the pre-stat crunch levels once again. Tanks pushed past the 3 million HP mark and everything else just increased to keep up.note 
  • The Shockwave games increase in scope with each installment:
    • Invasion Earth is a defense of Earth against an invading force; the Omaha does not go further than the moon.
    • Operation Jumpgate sees the Omaha traversing the solar system to go on the offensive and fight the aliens back through the jumpgate before they finish preparing for a second invasion.
    • Shockwave 2 opens twenty years after the Omaha has been lost been lost through the jumpgate, and has the crew of the Cortez exploring other solar systems, searching for the jumpgate code that will send them home.
  • The first Kamen Rider Battride War gave almost all the Riders the ability to access their final forms temporarily; the sequel takes it a step further with "Ultimate State", which grants some Riders access to their movie-exclusive Eleventh Hour Superpowers, such as Kamen Rider OOO' Super Tatoba Combo or Kamen Rider Fourze's Meteor Fusion States.
  • Pikmin series:
    • The second game has five types of Pikmin that need to be managed, a far larger array of enemies, much longer gameplay in the form of caves, introduces powerups in the form of sprays, and removes the day limit. The number of collectable items shoots up from 30 to 201.
    • The third game increases the number of Onion-grown Pikmin the player has to manage, has a more flexible day limit than the first game, balances out the usefulness of the types, and has areas so large that even the Distant Spring from the first game (the biggest map of the first two) feels claustrophobic by comparison. However, it also removes some of the additions from the second game, toning down on the enemy types and axing the caves.
  • Every game in the Five Nights at Freddy's made the animatronics worse and worse. The first were (mostly) normal-looking, and all their creepiness came from their behaviour and murderous intent. The second had the new, shiny "Toy" versions as well the old ones — who have been used as sources for spare parts and are mutilated as a result. The third had Springtrap, who looks like he literally rotted as well as "Phantom", hallucinatory versions of past animatronics. The fourth features nightmare-esque corruptions with more mutilations and sharp teeth.
  • Persona 3 and Persona 4 run off the same basic engine framework, have no proper cutscenes (all dialogue sequences consist of the characters Going Through the Motions with a camera angle that rarely changes) apart from the rare, 2D-animated ones, and are simplistic in their exploration, with randomly-generated dungeons that have few setpieces or puzzles. Fun, but rather basic and very obviously held back by limited budgets. Persona 5, which is almost certainly going to be Atlus' biggest game yet, is a completely different beast, with proper cutscenes, a larger overworld with minigames and masses of NPCs, a protagonist that seems to have a real personality, and actual dungeon designs with new methods of traversal like stealth and platforming.
  • The Neo Nectaris campaign is 50% longer than that of the first game, which it also includes.
  • The original Nexus War was one battle in an eternal cycle of universes ending and beginning anew. The second game made the death and rebirth of the universe a repeatedly occurring event in game mechanics terms.
  • Each Mortal Kombat game is Bloodier and Gorier than the last. The first game already managed to drum up some controversy with its Fatalities, of which each character had one. Mortal Kombat II not only added more characters, but gave each of them two different fatalities (as well as the more humorous Babality and Friendship finishers). By the time the series went 3D, fatalities had turned into longer cinematic sequences that mutilate the loser in increasingly creative and gruesome ways.
  • Bayonetta significantly toned up the action by its sequel. The first game already had large-scale, intense fights against giant enemies, but the second one gives a first boss from the Prologue that could pass as a Final Boss in another game. Bayonetta goes from exclusively fighting forces of Paradiso to fighting both infernal demons and the god of the human world (which is a distinct plane from heaven or hell) in addition to both old and new angels, and we finally get to see what Inferno looks like after the first game never revealed it. The Mirror Boss fights are significantly flashier: Jeanne from 1 summoned portions of demons for her battles, while the Masked Lumen in 2 summons the bosses in full-scale as they fight with Bayonetta's own demon summons in the background.
  • The first BoxxyQuest game, The Shifted Spires, was a simple gag RPG made in a few months for the members of a small forum. Its sequel, The Gathering Storm, is an utterly massive, commercial-quality game, despite still being freeware. This change is also reflected in the narrative. The first game’s plot involved saving one forum from a moody guy and his robot henchmen. In the second, we’re dealing with threats to the entire Internet, and an increasingly convoluted pileup of Mechanical and Eldritch Abominations hellbent on consuming all of reality.
    • In Spires, no enemy ever had more than five digits of health, not even the final boss. Meanwhile, in Storm, the True Final Boss has 540,000 HP, and the most difficult Bonus Boss has a whopping 790,000.
  • Telling Lies, a Spiritual Successor to Her Story, has the same gameplay, but in broader scope: about five times the video footage, four central characters instead of one, and several central mysteries.

    Web Animation 
  • The Litigation Jackson movie franchise in the Homestar Runner universe. The poster for the first movie shows the main character diving out of an exploding building with a box that says "legal documents." The sequel's poster shows a similar poster only now the box says "important legal documents." Clearly the stakes have been raised.
  • Animator vs. Animation is basically this trope.
    • The story of the original video isn't any more complicated than the title -an animator fights with something he drew that came to life; a stick figure named Victim. The battle stays contained to the drawing program, and Animator wins by closing the program without saving.
    • In the second video, Animator names the stick figure The Chosen One, who has a much easier time wrecking the drawing program and screwing with Animator due to his fire powers and laser eyes. The Chosen One actually escapes to the main computer, where he causes legitimate damage. Animator wins by activating the antivirus software, and ends up using Chosen One's fire powers as a popup blocker.
    • The third and final part of the original trilogy starts with The Chosen One escaping and causing damage to the computer again. In an attempt to beat The Chosen One, Animator draws a second stick figure named The Dark Lord who is supposed to defeat The Chosen One. Instead, they team up, and no one wins because the computer is completely destroyed, complete with the Blue Screen of Death.
    • And then there is a fourth video that takes place three years later in-universe, and it is more complicated than the last few. It introduces four characters aside from the drawn stick figure (who names himself The Second Coming). Second Coming manages to temporarily destroy Animator's mouse pointer, and at one point, he enters Animator's phone, before returning to the computer again. The video ends with Animator winning by successfully trapping Second Coming in a box. Then he points out that Second Coming is a good artist, and offers to let him free if he helps him animate and doesn't wreck the computer. Second Coming accepts, ending the stick figure reign of terror once and for all.

    Web Original 
  • The first anniversary of That Guy with the Glasses was a gigantic crossover brawl involving The Nostalgia Critic, The Angry Video Game Nerd, Linkara, Angry Joe, Spoony, The Nostalgia Chick, and many, many other popular internet personalities. So how did they top it for the second anniversary? Why, they got even more people together and invaded the micronation of Molossia, of course, in a six-party mini-series spanning about 90 minutes. Then, for the third anniversary, they make a 2 hour and 10 minute fantasy film called Suburban Knights, with roughly the same amount of people, but with more plot. And the Forth (To Boldly Flee) is even longer and with even more plot, more character development and more references.
  • In the first Llamas with Hats, Carl killed a man. In the second, he sinks a cruise ship. In the third, he topples a South American government (after pushing the resistance leader into a giant fan... for trying to stop him from pushing other people into a giant fan). In the fourth, he tracks mud on the carpet. And nukes an entire city.
  • The Cartoon Man is a live action comedy with some animated effects near the end. The sequel has a more complex plot, animated effects throughout, and an over-the-top cartoon chase scene as its climax. The third is a straight-up epic that mostly takes place in an animated world, and concludes with the biggest cartoon battle yet.
  • A series of YouTube videos that takes YouTube comments that criticize Dark Side Phil, particularly his run on the Metal Gear Solid franchise, the first one is only a mere 57 minutes long. The second one, centered around Metal Gear Solid 3, was around 2 hours, and the third one is around 20 minutes longer, and demonstrates what the poster feels are Phil's most prominent flaws.
  • PONIES The Anthology. The first one was conceived as an epic compilation of AMV Hell-esque sketches, to the point of releasing its own intro scene ahead of time as a teaser. It's 24 minutes long. The second is almost an hour longer, including an extended parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the end. And this was coming on the heels of the show's own hard-to-top second season finale.
  • At first, Dream's Minecraft Manhunt finale video and the rematch was going to be the end of the "3 Hunters" series of Manhunt videos (it's later clarified that Manhunt as a whole would have continued but in a different manner). But then, one week after the Unsolved Mystery of Herobrine video released, the grand finale released because the last Minecraft Manhunt video got over a million likes. In a day.

    Western Animation 
  • Total Drama is an example of season escalation. The first season was a parody of reality shows, and the cast did standard Survivor-style challenges on an island. The second season, Total Drama Action, put them on a larger abandoned film set where the challenges were based on movie genres. The third season, Total Drama World Tour, was about (you guessed it) the contestants going around the world, and every episode had a no-excuse rule that contestants had to break out into song spontaneously, since Chris wanted to piggyback on the success of Glee. The fourth season, Total Drama Revenge of the Island, had a new cast on the same island as before, but this time everything was radioactive and there were mutant animals all over the place. The fifth season, All-Stars, saw the island cleaned up, only for it to be destroyed in the finale. The sixth season, Pahkitew Island, featured a completely new island that was artificial and full of robot animals. Chris McLean, the host of the show, also gets gradually more sadistic as the series goes on. Case in point: Season 1's eliminated contestants left the island by boat. Season 6's left by being launched out of a cannon.
  • In Blinky Bill, the series got grander and more plot focused. The first series was mostly self contained episodes which could be watched in any order save the last few. Series 2 had more a storyline with the gang lost but again you could watch most episodes in any order. Series 3 meanwhile was even bigger. Blinky traveled around the world in what was easily the most arc based (characters regularly left the group once home so one could easily miss such episodes) and there were actual villains for the first time since the original movie.
  • Family Guy's Running Gag, known as the Chicken Fight, has Peter Griffin fighting a giant chicken named Ernie. With each fight, the carnage, length, brutality and ridiculousness increase.
    • The opponents can count as this as well. For the first five fights, it's Peter against Ernie, then Homer Simpson, and then Donald Trump!

    Real Life 
  • World War II: Although calling it a sequel might be a bit disrespectful, World War II followed as a consequence of World War I, which itself had the Franco-Prussian war as a background precursor due to France's involvment in both conflicts, and was fought on a scale that will hopefully never be seen again. Most of the world had a connection to a conflict during the time period, be it by way of occupation, direct involvement in the primary conflict, resuming old rivalries, or simply having colonial garrisons reinforced to protect against other colonial powers' opportunism. World War I, by comparison, was mostly fought in Europe.
  • Evel Knievel, famed daredevil of The '70s, built his career on this trope; each successful Ramp Jump he performed would inevitably be followed by another, bigger one.


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