Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.



Go To

"Actually, yeah. ... See, there was a sequel. Wasn't as good."

As the number of installments in a series grows, the probability that the latest entry will be terrible increases geometrically. While the first sequel of a work is something of a coin toss between "totally awesome" and "mediocre", the more they milk the Cash Cow, the less cream you see. Of course, works that go to theater have high production values. On the whole, their creators are at least trying. But if it's Direct to Video media, the chances that the third one is nothing but unmitigated crap is already close to 100%. This is partially because people assume a DTV work is just something that wasn't good enough to get into theatres. And, as a general rule, they tend to be right.

In other words, Sequels to works, generally created on the impetus of box office revenue, are rarely as good as the work they're a sequel to. If there's a third installment, it will frequently mark a sharp downhill turn even when the second work turned out all right. And even if there's a good trilogy, going beyond that has an even greater chance of crapitude.

Common symptoms of Sequelitis — the elements that contribute to the sequel not being as well-received as the original — can include, but are not limited to:

  • Making a sequel just because the original was successful and the executives want more money, regardless of creative potential or the fans wanting a sequel or not.
  • The sequel being unplanned. Many works are written to have a sense of closure, with the creators not having any follow-ups in mind when they were made. This happens much less often nowadays in movies, since just about everyone in the movie industry is aware of this trope, and almost all blockbuster movies are already made with sequels at least on the table, if not outright planned from the start.
  • Undoing the ending of the previous work when it gave no room for more stories. The backlash can go double for sequels that turn happy endings into the beginning of great suffering, struggle, and conflict.
  • The contrived revival or return of a character (particularly a villain) who was killed off or kicked out in the first work.
  • The attempt to turn a standalone work into a Two-Part Trilogy, with the first work being a single story with a proper ending, but the next two works actually being one story split into two works, resulting in two bloated, incoherent sequels with too little plot stretched between them.
  • After a series of good or bad sequels, the creators want to finish the franchise the best way possible or are sick of delivering bad sequels, so they make a work intended to end the series. They promise this work will be the last, and may even advertise it as the final chapter, but then that promise is broken with yet another sequel.
  • In an inversion of the above, the first work may have a planned sequel, but it was self-contained and could be enjoyed on its own. For the second or third works, though, the producers had plans for even more sequels and spin-offs, and filled the sequel with Sequel Hooks and unfinished plot threads in order to set up upcoming works, as opposed to... you know, making the current one good. This can get even worse with another inversion: those movies are canceled, leaving those plots unresolved.
  • The original work was thematically rich, but then the sequels were either too Anvilicious with topics that require tact and subtlety or only scraped the surface of subjects that needed more tact.
  • Retcons that upset people for whatever reason.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Early in the franchise there were minor flaws, but as new installments roll in these problems just get out of hand.
  • The sequel having a much lower budget than the original. While money alone isn't enough to make a work good, and there are many inferior sequels that have a bigger budget than the original, a bigger budget means that at least the executives have some faith in the work being a big deal. If a sequel is made on a shoestring budget, it typically means they're just farting it out for a quick buck.
  • The recasting of returning characters with a cheap batch of B-list actors (and not just those formerly played by child actors who are now too old, or big-name stars now busy elsewhere).
  • The mysterious unexplained departure of a main or major supporting character from the original work, usually because the actor(s) didn't want to return and the filmmakers wouldn't or couldn't recast the role.
  • The casual, shameless, meaningless, and sometimes callous killing off of beloved characters.
  • The mysterious unexplained departure of a character like a hero's love interest, usually because the producers thought the Shippers would lose interest in the hero if he or she was married. At most, there may be a throwaway line that tells us "it didn't work out". This doesn't stop the hero from getting a new love interest, however.
  • The sequel revolving around the (often previously unmentioned) relative/friend of a beloved character whose actor can't or won't return, in hopes that a connection to the original character will help make a new character just as popular as the original. This can lead to In Name Only.
  • The sequel being Lighter and Softer than the original, to the point of being labelled a kid's work and alienating most or all of the original's fanbase, or being unnecessarily Darker and Edgier and adults-only just for the sake of it.
  • Being too similar to the previous work(s), to the point that it's just the same thing over again. Creators are not realizing that if we want sequels, we want the story to continue, not to be repeated. Comedy films are particularly susceptible to this pitfall, as many comedy sequels tend to rehash not only the plot, but also the most memorable jokes and gags from their predecessors. For the more general trope applying to recycled story arcs, see Fleeting Demographic Rule.
  • Being nothing like the previous work(s), but not because they want to stay fresh or try to innovate, but for other reasons like not being able to do something like the original thanks to the plot/actors/lower budget/rating/licenses/etc, or relying on what is current and/or popular or trying to be more like other successful movies.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribes begin choking the plot to conceal the fact that the writers have basically run out of story.
  • The reuse of some element that was felt to be important to the first work's success, in hopes that having even more of that element will make the sequel even better. If it works for the first sequel, it will be cranked up more and more in further sequels. This may lead to Vulgar Humor, sadistic slapstick violence, or something else along those lines.
  • Pandering to the Base, which can come in several harmful forms that may appear together or separately:
    • Potential new audience members become victims of Continuity Lockout when knowledge of the first work - or the source material - is required to understand what's going on.
    • Continuity Porn annoying fans who get the nods and being downright confusing and jarring to those who might not even know references are being made.
    • Existing fans become irritated when elements they liked in the first work are overused or used poorly. They typically say so, quickly and loudly. This can be caused by the creators having a limited or poor understanding of what the general fanbase liked, leading to their catering to the Fan Dumb.
    • This is particularly the case when bringing back a character who unexpectedly won the audience over in the first work, only to do nothing interesting with them - or worse, Flanderize them so much that they end up being a one-dimensional caricature of the charming and multi-faceted character the audience fell in love with in the first place.
    • The opposite can happen too, where an intentionally wacky story based on Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny tries to ground itself and be more realistic in the sequel, losing its original charm in the process. However, this seems to be a far less common occurrence than the reverse.
  • Making a sequel just to earn more money, but from toys and other licensed products instead of tickets. It's common for successful works to actually make more money from merchandise than the actual work, even works that only had modest returns. Sequels made to sell toys instead of trying to tell a story can warp the script in ways, almost none for the best (e.g. making the movie more "kid-friendly", introducing/focusing on cute/marketable characters, or even completely ditching characters who can't sell toys).
  • All the previous sequels had numbers in the title, but there ended up being so many that they just stopped numbering them since the audience is aware of this trope and a such a high number in the title may be a bad marketing move.
  • In any movie trilogy, a fourth installment is a bad omen, especially when the trilogy not only managed to have three decent or even great movies, but also a sense of closure where a fourth movie feels like a square peg in a round hole, fourth movies do better when they are advertised as some sort of spin-off, not really trying to continue after the finished storyline of the trilogy, and don't have the number 4 in the title.
  • With adaptations or remakes, when all the source material was already covered up in the previous movie(s), continuing to churn out sequels with original stories—especially when the author of the original source material can't or won't help. Worse, if the new stories aren't faithful to the originals, they can end up looking like bad fanfic. This is especially problematic when doing sequels to well-established works, such as those starring a Public Domain Character; the original is such a classic that the sequel can't help but look a bit blasphemous.
  • The writers attempting to up the ante from the previous installments or trying to make the environment bigger and better in the sequel, but working themselves into a corner and making the next sequel a letdown for not living up to the last installment, or for not upping the ante again.

The dreadful compulsion on the part of writers and filmmakers to add new chapters to perfectly good works has been likened to an addiction, sometimes termed 'sequelholism'. The writers sometimes seem aware of this, and as a run of sequels is produced they may drop numbering the works entirely and start adding cliché subtitles. This only makes it harder to guess the order to watch for new fans. If they aren't aware of this, then, in the end, odds are First Installment Wins.

The inverse tropes are Surprisingly Improved Sequel (a good sequel to a mediocre or terrible work) and Even Better Sequel (an awesome sequel to a good original work). Compare Contested Sequel (when there is considerable division about the sequel's quality), In Name Only (when a sequel is strangely divergent from its predecessor), Villain-Based Franchise (when a sequel retains the monster or villain but features none of the original heroes) and Capcom Sequel Stagnation (Where it's the same game, with minor tweaks and additions, re-released over and over like string of mediocre sequels). Can be caused by a poor choice in Sequel Escalation, and lead up to Franchise Zombie if a sequel that should have been a Franchise Killer doesn't destroy the series. Some fans treat such sequels with Fanon Discontinuity. See also Sophomore Slump, The Problem with Licensed Games, and Seasonal Rot. For TV series, this can sometimes be a result of a Post-Script Season. The reason why Sequel Snark and Ridiculous Future Sequelisation became common jokes. And, of course, any and all of this can happen just as easily with Prequels.

See also Egoraptor's web series of the same name.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Rumor has it Yoshiyuki Tomino would kill off all his characters partly to prevent this from occurring, as he routinely claimed to despise sequel work. Obviously it greatly backfired with Mobile Suit Gundam (the franchise continued even after the original principal characters Amuro Ray and Char Aznable died), but most of Tomino's other works, such as Aura Battler Dunbine and Space Runaway Ideon, otherwise ended with their initial series since most of their casts (or their entire setting in the case of Ideon) were killed off.
    • Speaking of Gundam, there have been exactly 4 anime that are sequels to previous TV anime, and three of them had sequelitis:
      • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ has been received pretty poorly compared to the previous two anime for it being much more Denser and Wackier, especially when compared to the dead-serious Zeta. The anime reached its absolute nadir with the Moon-Moon mini-arc, which is considered to be one of the worst, if not the worst, parts of the entire Universal Century as a whole. Thankfully it improves quite a bit as it introduces a few new Ensemble Dark Horse characters in the form of the two Puru sisters, but even then Double Zeta never quite manages to reach the intensity of the final parts of 0079 or Zeta.
      • Tomino's last Universal Century Gundam project, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam suffered from the opposite problem to Double Zeta: it was too dark, and it even managed to outdo Zeta by the sheer gruesomeness of certain moments. The first 4 episodes being rearranged to make the titular Gundam appear in the first episode caused massive problems and Tomino, tired of the constant messing by Bandai, decided to kill the franchise by both cranking up the darkness and adding pointless Bathos moments like the Bikini Bazooka Babes. It worked, and the Universal Century has been relegated to OVAs and movies ever since.
      • Exactly ten years after the debacle that was Victory, the only non-UC Gundam sequel anime, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny hit the little screens after the runaway success of its predecessor. For the first 20 or so episodes everything seemed okay... and then the anime just fell apart due to a combination of a weird shift back towards the protagonist of the previous anime (because everyone and their mom hated Shinn for being too whiney), the head writer turning in scripts late and the director having a nasty argument with one of the voice actresses which caused said director to proceed on a personal vendetta against the actress' character. The fans were not pleased at all.
  • Bubblegum Crisis was canceled after 8 of the planned 13 episodes were produced due to legal issues. However, a 3-episode sequel Bubblegum Crash was made to give the series some closure, but it only ended up raising more questions and altering many characters' personalities, as well as plot details. A 3-episode prequel A.D. Police Files was also released to a decent reception. This was all followed by a pretty good TV series remake/reimagining Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, and got two more spinoff series, A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve and Parasite Dolls, with the former being savaged by fans and critics, and the latter mostly going unnoticed. A sequel to Tokyo 2040 called Tokyo 2041 was once in production, but never left Development Hell.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball GT is seen by some of the Dragon Ball fanbase as a combination of this and Franchise Zombie due to being created entirely by Toei Animation, with very little input from Akira Toriyama beyond designs, which likely led to it being retconned by the new series.
    • Of the Non Serial Movies, two of the most consistently well-regarded are Cooler's Revenge and Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan. Their sequel films (Return of Cooler for the former and Broly - Second Coming and Bio-Broly for the latter) are considered some of the worst - on top of a host of problems, such as a weaker cast of characters in the latter and extremely poor animation in the former, the consensus is that they missed the point of what made the previous films entertaining to begin with.
    • Bardock: The Father of Goku is considered to be one of the best bits of Dragon Ball Z material, frequently being praised for its morally dark grey protagonist, expansion of the universe's lore, and wonderfully tragic climax, immediately turning Bardock into a fan favorite. Episode of Bardock, on the other hand, is far less well-regarded, primarily for undoing everything interesting about the prior special (Bardock actually didn't die tragically and is now a straightforward good guy instead of a violent anti-hero, and he gets to become the first Super Saiyan and beat up Freeza's ancestor instead of being the low-class warrior who stood up against hopeless odds and only accomplished anything by proxy). It doesn't help that its plot (Bardock somehow travels back in time by being hit by Freeza's attack, somehow loses his future vision, and somehow manages to turn Super Saiyan in the name of protecting a bunch of random people he barely knows despite casually having committed genocide beforehand) isn't any better. Team Four Star considered it to be the worst film or special in the franchise, and a vindication of Bardock's Misaimed Fandom.
  • The Eureka Seven fandom was divided on the subject of Eureka Seven AO from its announcement. As the series progressed, barring brief moments of hope, fan outlook grew increasingly bleak, with the ending (and even a few of the plot threads) provoking cries of Fanon Discontinuity. It hardly helped that it contradicted many of the themes of the original series, particularly the ability of humans and Coralians to coexist. That last one was enough to spark the "Dewey was right!" fandom meme.
  • Gunslinger Girl il teatrino was received much more poorly than the original, for several reasons: A new Japanese cast, an emphasis on action, more spotlight on the girls' Precocious Crushes, a new Moe art style, less accurate Gun Porn, Angelica being alive, and averting the fan-preferred Accidental Aesop in exchange for an anime that's clearly just meant to be about cute girls with guns. Oddly enough, il teatrino is truer in spirit to the manga than the first anime season.
  • Pokémon: The Series has, as of 2018, a total of twenty-one movies made. Similar to The Land Before Time, most fans say that the quality of the movies has been all over the place, with the first few movies (Pokémon: The First Movie, Pokémon 2000, Pokémon 3) being superior to most of the sequelsnote , barring a few standouts such as Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew and Pokémon: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice. However, three that have received notably negative reviews include Genesect and the Legend Awakened, Hoopa and the Clash of Ages, and Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel — the latter two of which did so poorly that the next films were set in a new continuity entirely, putting the main continuity of films on ice.
  • This is why Pretty Cure doesn't do sequel series anymore after the poor reception of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 Go Go!. Many of them are realizing, though, that rival series Aikatsu! is heading that way, what with a second sequel series coming up.
  • SHUFFLE! Memories. Though some fans say it's terrible, other fans say that the Fanservice-laden last episode was more than enough to make up for the series being little more than a terrible recap of Shuffle.
  • If the subpar ratings in Japan and overall lack of accreditation beyond loads of magazine previews (keyword here) are anything to say, the Un-Canceled fourth (Revolution) and fifth (Evolution-R) seasons of the Slayers anime are this. Most countries outside Japan (including the States) gave the seasons positive reviews, but 'most' of the viewers were older fans of the series, so that still doesn't help in the long run.
    • A bizarre reversal of this trope occurs with the Slayers Smash novels, which are a part of the book series that takes place before the main storyline. Whereas the main series ended in 2000, the prequel books came out two years after the first original novel came out and are still ongoing. Sales have been dropping, and many fans agree that the adventures of Lina and Naga are being unnecessarily dragged out. Unfortunately, the man who created the novels has no intention of continuing the main storyline.
    • In hindsight, this seemed more accredited to either season not following upon the novel storylines (not even reaching the point where Gourry finds the Blast Sword), and instead simply repeating the first series in reverse. Otherwise, Slayers fans had been demanding a follow-up for quite some time, partly for the aforementioned and partly to alleviate the mediocrity that was Slayers Try. Another contributing factor was the fifth season having the fan-desired between Lina's OVA companion Naga and her TV companions, which include Naga's long-estranged sister Amelia, in a way that completely missed the point as to why the fans wanted it: between Naga being stuck in a different body and her having temporary amnesia, she didn't recognize her sister or old travelling companion, and they didn't recognize her, meaning that Naga's role could literally have been taken by anyone without any impact on the plot.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew à la Mode ended up being penned by a different writer (Mia Ikumi, the artist of the original series), but taking place in a universe explicitly the same as the original, something many manga explicitly avoid in order to start fresh. It renders Ichigo utterly useless (no, really) so that a shiny new character named Berii Shirayuki/Mew Berry can take her place. And that's the mildest of its many, many problems.
  • The 2003 sequel to the original '90s Tenchi Muyo OVA series got poor reception from fans and critics, as well as the spinoff Tenchi Muyo! GXP. The franchise had been dormant for a few years following the poor reception of spinoff Tenchi in Tokyo, and the mixed reception of the three films. The original OVAs and their TV remake/reimagining Tenchi Universe are really the only parts of the franchise with good reception.
  • Twin Princess of Wonder Planet has a sequel series in the form of Gyu!. It took virtually all of the characters out of their unique world and put them into a generic school location and had a similarly generic Monster of the Week format (going along the success of the previous series delving into Magical Girl Warrior later during its run) and Demoted to Extra everyone but Fine and Rein. While it did introduce a handful of good characters, most fans like to pretend "Gyu!" never happened.


    Comic Books 
  • 52 is a well-regarded year-long series that took place after Infinite Crisis, while its follow-up Countdown to Final Crisis isn't, due to it being responsible for the controversial Face–Heel Turn of Mary Marvel and other wide-sweeping character changes. This is not helped by the fact that Dan DiDio once said that Countdown was 52 done right before it hit the shelves and due to its Padding structure.
  • The Nail is one of the more beloved Elseworld stories, with its dark storytelling and interesting showcasing of a world without Superman and how vital The Cape really is to the DCU. You'll find much fewer fans of Another Nail, which featured a far more convoluted and silly plot without any real hook to draw it together.
  • Avengers Undercover was considered vastly inferior to both its immediate predecessors, Avengers Academy and Avengers Arena, and sales were so bad it was canceled at ten issues out of an intended twelve. For reference, cancellation of a book that has a set number of issues from the get-go is extremely rare. Avengers Arena itself was a Contested Sequel at best, with very few fans of Academy or Runaways walking away satisfied. Undercover, it seems, burned through what little goodwill Arena had remaining.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is widely seen as one of the best Batman stories in history. The Dark Knight Strikes Again is at best polarizing, mostly due to the OOC of non-Batman characters, some serious Author Tracts, and shockingly bad color work. Its prequel, the clunkily-titled All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, is generally regarded as So Bad, It's Good. Its sequel Dark Knight III: The Master Race was well-received due to being primarily written by Brian Azzarello rather than Frank Miller himself.
  • Batman: Year One, also by Miller, is considered to be the definitive Batman origin story. By contrast, most people are barely aware that there ever was a Year Two, considered So Okay, It's Average at best. It really only comes up in discussions of how it inspired the much better-regarded Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Year Three is so obscure that wasn't even collected until 2019, and is only remembered for containing the first appearance of Tim Drake, the third Robin.
  • Civil War is a controversial event thanks to some some very inconsistent political strawmanning, but it's somewhat Vindicated by History because it gave the Marvel Universe itself something of a story arc, with Civil War kicking off a saga that led into the darker Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, followed by a triumphant return in Siege and The Heroic Age. That and it didn't actually derail many books for long, and some of the tie-ins and consequences from the run are very well-liked, such as the death of Captain America. Civil War II, on the other hand... it's never talked about fondly. It made everyone unlikeable, set up more ill-received stories such as Riri Williams' turn as Iron Man, Amadeus Cho's turn as the Hulk and Inhumans vs. X-Men, and was so bad that it's considered directly responsible for a huge Audience-Alienating Era that took two years to end.
  • The original Marvel Zombies was a major success, and it's generally regarded as a lot of fun and surprisingly well-written. Marvel Zombies 2, on the other hand, is mostly considered boring, due to trying to eke character growth out of a premise meant for gonzo absurdity and an extensive further story out of a plot where all the most interesting things already happened. 3 moved back into the absurdity and made it fun again, and is considered the major bright point after 2. Then 4 tried to continue on from 3 and was largely okay, but by that point, the premise was starting to run pretty thin. Return tried to give the franchise a finale, and had its moments, but suffered from very weird pacing and attempts at tying up plot points from 2. It didn't work, because Marvel Zombies 5 came out, and was mostly a big joke about how much the premise had been milked dry, with the heroes, having exhausted the zombies on Earth, traveling to other universes to fight variant zombie plagues with new rules. There have been five non-numbered miniseries since then, and most of them have been less about trying to write a good story and more about trying to write a story that does anything with the idea - not helped by the zombie craze being largely dead.
  • Several fans think of Pk2 as this for the excellent Paperinik New Adventures. Many more consider "Pikappa" a definite case.
  • The Punisher suffered from this. He did fine when he started out as an occasional guest star in Spider-Man's comics and did okay when he debuted in his own limited series, and then ongoing series. Unfortunately, when he became more popular and Marvel started to star him in Punisher War Journal and Punisher War Zone, fans started to see what a one-dimensional character he was. In 1995, all three of his comics were canceled due to poor sales; he did gain some popularity back in 2000 as part of the Marvel Knights line, and then much more popularity from the MAX line.
  • Secret Wars (1984) was, and is, widely regarded as the classic Marvel Crisis Crossover, and one that's held up very well since. Secret Wars II, on the other hand, usually gets the response of "There was a second one?" Of course, it's hard to blame one for forgetting; a sequel to one of the most action-packed books in Marvel's history where a lengthy scene is devoted to the main villain learning how to use the bathroom was never going to go down well, and the considerably worse writing (better suited to a Jim Carrey comedy than a superhero event book) did it no favors. The biggest weakness was that it tried to make the story about the Beyonder, whom most readers didn't find very interesting the first time around, and assumed that readers cared about seeing his story resolved when they mostly saw him as a plot device.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons comic book storyline "When Bongos Collide!", in which everyone in Springfield gets superpowers as a result of a nuclear explosion. Troy McClure's alter-ego, The Sequelizer, has the power to "create an infinite number of copies of [himself] — although each is only 50% as powerful as the one before."
  • Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide is beloved by readers of both Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) and Mega Man (Archie Comics) for the unique way everything happened and giving both video game stars a chance to meet long before Super Smash Bros. could. Its sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite isn't as beloved, due to too many characters (seriously, not counting the main four of Sonic, Sonic Boom, Mega Man and Mega Man X, there are twelve franchises represented here), wasting the Mega Man X characters, reducing Sonic Boom to just Sticks, and so on. It ended up causing the deaths of all the series involved.
  • The Ultimates first two arcs, written by Mark Millar, were very well received, for its reinvention of The Avengers and its deconstruction of the superhero genre. Both stories neatly resolve all the subplots in them. But then Jeph Loeb wrote The Ultimates 3 with a sudden genre shift to the worst vices of The Dark Age of Comic Books, and the reception fell off a cliff.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Land Before Time's thirteen sequels are exceptionally infamous. It's a bad sign when there are more sequels than even horror movie franchises like Halloween, Saw, Paranormal Activity, or Friday the 13th. And in-between all of these movies, it got a TV show to boot. It must be said that the quality of the series goes up and down from movie to movie; some are indeed mediocre to poor, but others are surprisingly solid. In the end, though most agree that none are a match for Bluth's original film, some of the sequels got close.
  • Some of Don Bluth's other animated films have also been hit with Sequelitis: there are sequels for An American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven (both of which also got a TV series), and The Secret of NIMH. An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, though Lighter and Softer than the original, is actually considered a quality follow-up due to a higher budget theatrical release. All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 is also considered a fairly solid sequel, even with the rampant They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue on the other hand is considered terrible by practically all fans of the original. Note, however, that Bluth was not involved with any of these sequels. The only sequels he was ever actually involved with making were the video game Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp and the Anastasia direct-to-DVD sequel Bartok the Magnificent, which although not hugely popular, has fared better than some sequels to his films. Incidentally, Bluth was originally to have been involved in the other aforementioned sequels, but had to turn it down to due to heavy development on his own projects at the time.
  • 1995's Balto has two sequels that cause many Plot Holes; given Universal Pictures' dislike of the movie, they opted for making more The Land Before Time sequels until their traditional animation studios were closed for good. From there, they changed to computer-traditional mix, resulting in a more vivid color scheme, but considerably better quality animation.
  • The first Shrek movie was a hit. Shrek 2 grossed almost twice as highly and is considered by many to be even better. Shrek the Third is more polarizing in comparison and muddied up DreamWorks Animation's plans for a 5-film series (though they're still hoping for the 5th one). Consensus on Shrek Forever After is that it's at least far better than the third. The irony of all this is that it was always intended to mock Disney for churning out sequels to their tired old proprieties and making everything more saccharine with each installment.
  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat was not written or directed by Ralph Bakshi, the maker of Fritz the Cat, or Robert Crumb, who created the original comic. The only people involved with the first film who returned for the sequel are producer Steve Krantz and voice actor Skip Hinnant. Even Duke, one of the characters from the first film, is voiced by a different actor.
  • Alpha and Omega: As of 2018 there are eight sequels to the original, and their quality is heavily debated by fans (though the First Installment Wins) but outside of the fanbase the sequels all received scathing reception (and the first wasn’t a critical darling to begin with).
  • The Swan Princess, despite being a minor bomb critically and financially, got initially two sequels. Being made with fairly low budgets and based on films that weren't very good to begin with, they were very poorly received. Then after a Sequel Gap of 14 years, it got bombarded with a variety of all CGI sequels, making the series almost as infamous as The Land Before Time. Most if not all of these late sequels are only ironically liked due to bad animation, lack of tonal consistency and just sheer bizarreness.
  • The Big Damn Movie of Futurama, Bender's Big Score, is pretty well-regarded by the fanbase, and places well in appraisals of the series. The succeeding three films vary in reception but are generally seen as being much worse. The general consensus is that Bender's Big Score feels like a movie, while the other three feel like overstretched episodes of the TV show that probably wouldn't have been very good to begin with.
  • The first Ice Age has a respectable Rotten Tomatoes score of 77%. The first sequel got a mediocre 57% (though it has since become a Cult Classic), and it just went down from there (46%, 38%, and 16%; the last of these, Collision Course, is considered one of the worst films of 2016 and is the first Ice Age movie to get AniMat's "Seal of Garbage", and bombed in the domestic box office in the 2016 Summer Bomb Buster). Although once Disney shut down Blue Sky Studios and made The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild for Disney+, it was widely considered a new lower point - the only thing better than Collision Course was its Tomatometer, a still dismal 22% (and based on a much smaller pool of 32 reviews compared to over a hundred from the fifth film), as viewers couldn't get behind the low production values and shoddy animation, the absence of Scrat, Simon Pegg being the only returning cast member, and a very weak script (for starters, Buck is in the title but most of the focus is on the much less popular duo Crash and Eddie, which is a big reason why AniMat gave it an even worse review than Collision Course).
  • While not reprehensible, Rio 2 is agreed by both critics and audiences to be much weaker than the original Rio.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island was a Darker and Edgier revival of the Scooby-Doo franchise and is widely considered to be the best of the DTV movies, while the ones that came after it are more polarizing.
  • Almost all of the Tom and Jerry DTV movies. The first four movies (Tom and Jerry and the Magic Ring, Blast Off to Mars, The Fast and the Furry, and Shiver Me Whiskers) are considered good though not exceptional, and the fifth (A Nutcracker Tale) is... polarizing. The rest are despised, mocked within an inch of their lives, or both. Each successive movie consists of any Public Domain Character or movie within the writers' reach being given a shot for shot animated remake, occasionally interrupted by Tom and Jerry engaging in their usual antics to pad the runtime. Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory attracts particular vitriol, as not only are large portions of the script and blocking lifted wholesale from the original movie, there were accusations that it was rushed through production—or worse, only exists—to capitalize on Gene Wilder's death.note 
  • The Despicable Me films exhibit a downplayed example. All three (five counting the Minions spinoffs) were box-office successes, but it's generally agreed that the first one is the best and that the sequels, although entertaining in their own right, don't really bring anything new to the table. It's probably not a coincidence that this dip in quality coincides with the Minions' rise in popularity, moving from amusing side characters to having their own subplot to receiving more attention and focus than the actual main character of the series, especially in advertising. The Rotten Tomatoes scores for the films corroborate this—although all of the movies except for the first Minions have Fresh ratings, the score dips lower for each successive installment.
  • Dragon Hill, as a Spanish animated movie franchise, is already obscure enough as it is. The sequels, so cheaply made that they discard the 2D animation for CGI and utterly devoid of what little charm the first had, continuously plummet on the IMDb scores (which were already low for the first installment).
  • While Surf's Up never managed to find much of a wide audience, its unique mockumentary-style storyline earned it cult classic status. So nobody was ready for the Direct to Video sequel, Surf's Up 2: WaveMania, which serves as nothing more than Product Placement for WWE wrestlers. The animation is comparatively inferior, most of the lessons Cody Maverick learned in the prior film are completely forgotten despite being a sequel, and much of the focus is on the wrestlers instead of the main characters. It's also plagued by a subpar script, a desert subplot that has nothing to do with surfing, and an infamous joke about Vince McMahon's character enjoying sucking fish with his tongue.
  • Cat City is a Cult Classic spy movie spoof from 1986, filtered through the sarcastic and low-brow humor of its Hungarian creators. The one agreed-upon positive of its 2007 sequel is that it reunited the still living cast of old, both on screen and behind the scenes. Negatives it has many: corny pop culture references written by people years out of touch with media trends, many returning characters have become elderly losers with unpleasant redesigns pushed aside in favor of far less memorable new faces, the crude CGI effects stand out too much and the final battle is played for laughs as a celebrity in-joke that was already dated and tired at the time of release. While the original film got some flak for its use of national stereotypes (partially stemming from the older movies it was spoofing), this one was blasted in international circles as extremely racist for its depiction of primitive African tribe-cats — though such grossly outdated stereotypes were still widely accepted in that part of Europe well into the 2000s, and debatably still are. The original is a comonly quoted Fountain of Memes, the sequel is meanwhile almost fully forgotten.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Even more than the film examples, Star Trek suffered this in its series. The Original Series was considered an uneven novelty, a series that was either teeth-grating crap or the very pinnacle of science-fiction, depending on the given episode. The Next Generation has been formally recognized as being among the top 100 shows ever made and a crowning achievement of television. Paramount came down with Sequelitis, commissioning three follow-up series (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even a prequel in Enterprise). The critical reception deteriorated with each successive series, along with the ratings (though a few preferred DS9 in later years). The last one made it to four seasons, the fourth one only made so that the series could be syndicated, and not end up a total failure. Although the jury is still out on Star Trek: Discovery (set between Enterprise and The Original Series), the general fan consensus seems to be that it's a good show in its own right, but the Darker and Edgier serial plotline and somewhat forced "mature" tone are a poor fit for Trek. Star Trek: Picard, a sequel to The Next Generation (including the movies... and the film that started the Kelvin Timeline) is also a divisive affair due to its Darker and Edgier approach. As a matter of fact, the Trope Namer is Justin B. Rye’s critical essay on the franchise, from all the way back in 1993. (The same essay also named One-Shot Revisionism.)
  • Dead Ringers had a sketch in which different versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger came back from the future to warn him not to sign up for any more lousy Terminator sequels, eventually reaching Terminator 23 before Sarah Connor shot the present Arnie to save the future. To her dismay, another Arnie came back and revealed she is now his co-star in Kindergarten Cop 14! Nnnooooo!
  • The spinoff/sequel to That '70s Show, That '80s Show, alienated old viewers and didn't get any new ones.
  • The New Monkees had the misfortune of competing with reruns of the series that inspired it. As a result, the series was pulled after only thirteen episodes.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978) was never massively successful but it was popular enough for a large letter-writing campaign to make ABC commission Galactica 1980 which was canceled after only 10 episodes, killing the franchise. The show got a reboot 20+ years later with the critically acclaimed Battlestar Galactica (2003) which had a well-received spin-off-prequel Caprica and two Made-for-TV Movie installments. The final series of the remake was divisive, with a controversial series finale splitting fans. Afterwards it was clear audiences and the studios weren't impressed by the attempt to create another spin-off-prequel with Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome marking the end of the franchise for the near future, at least until the next reboot.
  • Friends spinoff/sequel Joey failed to be as popular as its predecessor and was canceled after two seasons.
  • In-Universe in The Good Place series finale. Shakespeare has written 4,000 plays in the afterlife which are said to not have been as good as his old works, including The Tempest 2: Here We Blow Again.
  • Pretty Little Liars had this happen twice, with two Short Runner one-season spinoffs, Ravenswood and Pretty Little Liars The Perfectionists, both way less regarded than the original.
  • Stargate SG-1 was an initially controversial spin-off from the original film, but became very successful once it found its footing. Its own spin-off, Stargate Atlantis, was also strong in its own right, and both became well-regarded science-fiction series'. However, the third series, Stargate Universe, felt to most fans like a soap opera filmed in a series of shipping containers.
  • The Mandalorian spin-off The Book of Boba Fett suffered from worse critical reception and audience feedback than its parent show. Viewers found the narrative structure too slow-paced, Boba's motivations aren't fully explained and some of the set pieces were a bit clumsily executed. The Required Spinoff Crossover with The Mandalorian helped, but also put the main plot of Boba Fett Out of Focus to set up The Mandalorian Season 3, including a hasty reversal of one of Season 2's biggest changes to the status quo.

  • The first Woodstock Festival in 1969 is often considered one of the best music festivals ever. For the 25th anniversary, music promoters tried to recreate the experience with the mostly-uneventful but not as memorable Woodstock '94. For the 30th anniversary, promoters held Woodstock '99, which featured many top-tier performers but was poorly received — tickets cost much more than other festivals (the first Woodstock was free), attendees were price gouged for amenities like water and food, and organizers seemed unprepared for an event that size, with massive amounts of garbage piling up and portable restrooms frequently overflowing. The final day was marred by riots — most media outlets covering the event abruptly pulled out their crews — and dozens of reports of sexual assault, effectively ending the concert series.
  • Critics wanted E.S. Posthumus's albums to have more powerful and action-filled songs; this caused the pieces in Makara to have less variation compared to the flow and richer tunes in previous albums Unearthed and Cartographer.
  • Lil Wayne's Tha Carter II is universally considered to be an improvement over Tha Carter; some fans still consider II to be his best album, in fact. While Tha Carter III massively outsold II, debate still rages on the better album. However, a consensus has emerged on Tha Carter IV - namely, that it's a steaming hunk of shit compared to the previous two Carters. As two albums came between III and IV (including the rock album), IV ended up playing the rule straight.
  • Chance the Rapper became a breakout star in the early 2010s with his mixtapes 10 Day, Acid Rap, and Coloring Book being well-received, and the latter even earning him a Grammy for Best Rap Album. His first official album, The Big Day, was vehemently ravaged by fans for being too inconsistent and having subpar lyrics. Its critical reception was generally positive, but still a step down compared to his previous efforts.
  • Jay-Z: The Blueprint is widely considered a classic album, among Jay-Z's best, contributed the term "renegaded" to hip-hop lexicon (referring to Eminem's guest appearance on "Renegade"), and helped jump-start Kanye West's career. Blueprint 2 was considered to suffer from too many filler songs, and while Blueprint 3 was a major hit, it had a less positive critical reception.
  • Many people consider Queensr˙che's Operation: Mindcrime to be one of the best metal albums ever. Eighteen years later, after a number of less-well-received albums, they made a sequel, Operation: Mindcrime 2, which most critics and fans saw as mediocre at best.
  • There's a joke about the group Chicago (a band that named most of their albums numerically). The joke is that their first album is rated 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 and that as the number in the name of each album goes up, the number of its rating goes down.
  • Referenced in-work by "You Part 2" by Olivia Lane, which compares an ex who is coming back for more to a bad sequel:
    You know I never liked going to a sequel
    Somehow the second one never is equal to the first one
  • Blackfield and Blackfield II are highly praised collaborations between Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen, while the subsequent Welcome to My DNA and Blackfield IV are considered sub-par in comparison. Some have attributed this to Wilson's limited involvement in the latter releases, especially after he returned to being an equal contributor in the fairly well-received Blackfield V. However, most fans agree that they haven't been able to top their first two albums.
  • Weird Al's "Rye or the Kaiser" (to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger") calls itself the theme to Rocky XIII, featuring the titular Formerly Fit boxer now running a deli.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A common opinion is that the writing in the T.I.M.E. Stories series got worse over time, culminating in Madame having an Audience-Alienating Ending. This was one of the factors causing interest in the series to dry up.

  • The musical Of Thee I Sing, a cheerful satire on the American political system, opened on Broadway late in 1931 to immense popular and critical acclaim, which not only made it one of the longest-running shows of the decade but won a Pulitzer Prize for its writers; it was the first-ever musical play to win the award. Almost two years later, a sequel, Let 'Em Eat Cake, appeared from the same authors, with the same principal actors and the same producer. It was not a commercial success; many of its jokes were recycled from the earlier show, and a bewildering series of plot complications (involving, among other things, a baseball-playing League of Nations) stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far.
  • Bring Back Birdie was a sequel to Bye Bye Birdie, produced and set twenty years later. It was written by the same authors as the original show, and featured the same characters, with Chita Rivera once again starring as Rose Alvarez. Most people who saw the show during the less than a week it ran on Broadway agreed that it was horrible. Somewhat infamous for a moment where the actor playing Birdie lost the beat to one of the songs then marched off stage, saying, "You sing it! I never liked this song anyway!"
  • The musical Annie similarly had a sequel written by the same authors (including composer Charles Strouse, who had also done Bye Bye Birdie and Bring Back Birdie, though lyricist Martin Charnin seems to have been the ringleader in this scheme), with several of the older members of the original cast reprising their roles. In the implausible plot of Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge, Daddy Warbucks was ordered to find a mother for Annie, which provided the opportunity for Miss Hannigan's scheme (conceived with a good deal of Motive Decay) to first become Warbucks's wife and then a widow without any dependents. When the eagerly awaited show had its pre-Broadway opening in Washington, D.C. in January 1990, audiences were stunned at how unfunny the show was. Massive rewrites ensued, and continued in earnest even after the show's Broadway booking was canceled and several star actors dropped out, including Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan. Miss Hannigan was ultimately written out in favor of a Suspiciously Similar Substitute (though the plot remained mostly the same), and the authors' desperate efforts to get their show into New York finally resulted in its opening off-Broadway in 1993, as Annie Warbucks. Critics recognized the show as an unnecessary sequel, and it failed to catch on with audiences.
  • The musical The Boy Friend also suffers from this despite being not as well known as some others out there. Its sequel is so ridiculous that it has to be seen (or read) to believe. The name? Divorce Me, Darling!
  • Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, was slammed by many fans of the original, although the Australian run was extensively reworked by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with major improvements being made to the characterization (of nearly all the characters) and the plot.
  • Though the one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti has never ranked among Leonard Bernstein's best-known works, its reputation is considerably better than A Quiet Place, the three-act sequel Bernstein decided to write three decades later. The libretto reads like a bad soap opera, and the music is generally dull except for the parts of the second act which incorporate Trouble in Tahiti in its entirety as a flashback.
  • While The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro are well known, though mainly due to Adaptation Displacement as operas written respectively by Gioachino Rossini and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, La mère coupable ou l'autre Tartuffe, Beaumarchais' third entry in the "Figaro trilogy," is not so much so. Most people who have seen both operas are upset about the absence of two popular characters, Bartholo (Bartolo) and Bazile (Basilio).
  • Thirteen years after the premiere of Louise, Gustave Charpentier gave Paris the opera Julien, the story of which focused on Louise's boyfriend. It didn't do so well.
  • John Osborne's Look Back in Anger was a groundbreaking work that revitalised British theatre and gave a voice to the working class. Nearly thirty years later, Osborne wrote a sequel Déjàvu which sees the protagonist Jimmy Porter in middle-age. It closed after just seven weeks and was harshly reviewed, with critics calling it a series of monologues in place of a play. It would ultimately be the last play Osborne ever wrote.

    Theme Parks 
  • Many rides at Disney Theme Parks fall prey to this. Perhaps the most puissant example of this trope in a Disney ride is the "Imagination" rides featured at the EPCOT theme park in Disney World. The original ride, Journey into Imagination, was a much beloved and very creative ride centering around the world of a child's imagination and starred the Dreamfinder, a red-bearded eccentric who collected dreams and creative thoughts, and his pet purple dragon Figment with a Clock or Steampunk style. Executive Meddling involving a potential change in sponsors caused the ride to close in 1998 for a complete overhaul. It was reopened in 1999 as "Journey Into Your Imagination", a completely redone ride with none of the charm of the original, with the Dreamfinder MIA and Figment reduced to an extremely brief cameo. The new ride set a record for the most complaints received over a new attraction at a Disney Park. The revamp was received so badly, it was closed a mere 2 years later in 2001. In 2002 the ride received a later update, "Journey Into Imagination With Figment". Though it is a notable improvement over the second version of the ride, most long-time Disney parkgoers tend to agree that the ride's first incarnation was by far its best.
  • Not even roller coasters can escape this trope: King’s Island’s Son of Beast, named after the acclaimed wooden coaster The Beast, was hyped up prior to opening, but increasingly criticized after. Unfortunately, the low quality wood used in construction resulted in unstableness, discomfort, declining ridership, and a near accident in 2006 that caused the removal of the loop, the ride’s most notable aspect. The Son was put down in 2009, but the good news is the original Beast is still up and running after some 40 years as of 2021.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sequel Decay


"Soylent Green" Sequels

"SNL" invents a series of subpar "Soylent Green" sequels

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Sequelitis

Media sources: