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Stopped Numbering Sequels

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Oh look, they're going to spell it with a "4" instead of "E"
That's completely fucking bonkers, but let's just wait and see!
No wait, they've changed it back, so I guess that point is moot
Oh no wait, they're taking off the 4 to call it a
"reboot"
A practice that in recent years I have come to abhor
But I'm willing to ignore, 'cause they're making a—
! ...Thief.
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A common subversion to Numbered Sequels. As the number of installments of a series goes up, the less likely it has a number behind.

Usually the series and sequel titling go in the following order (although only some series go through all five steps):

  1. First Installment
  2. Numbered Sequel
  3. Numbered sequel + subtitle (or 3D).
  4. Subtitle
  5. Recycled Title
  6. At this point, anything can happen, including the subtitle becoming the main title.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Creators might be embarrassed that they have made so many sequels.
  • The plotline of the story is nonlinear and there are lots of prequels and midquels.
  • Especially among video games, the franchise may have Gaiden Game subseries. However, then it can easily be Double Subverted, depending on situation.
  • The studio might feel that a sequel numbered too high might be avoided by audiences that could perceive a Continuity Lockout.
    • Related, often when a video game comes to a new console generation, it will drop the number to attract gamers who didn't play the series on the previous console generation.
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  • Four Is Death in Asian markets, which explains why games originating from there tend to stop numbering after 3.
  • To avoid bringing up previous numbered installments that most people don't want to acknowledge, perhaps even one where you don't want to ignore every detail.
  • Finally, it's difficult to stop doing once you've started; after an installment or two without numbers, people will have completely lost track (which Mortal Kombat game are we on again? Exactly. Oh, the answer is below.).

See also Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo, Word Sequel, and Numbered Sequels.


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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Land Before Time gave up on numbering after a while... as in, somewhere near the end of the twelve sequels.
    • Starting with the eighth film, "The Big Freeze" the roman numeral was nowhere to be found on the FRONT of the cover, instead, you will find "Volume VIII" on the SPINE of the VHS cover. However, with the thirteenth film, "The Wisdom of Friends" the roman numeral doesn't even appear in the film at all. The opening titles just say "The Land Before Time" shortly followed by "The Wisdom of Friends".
  • The Shrek series starts normally, then makes a play on words with "Shrek the Third", and the fourth film has several alternate titles, including "Shrek Goes Fourth" (likely the working title), "Shrek: The Final Chapter" (used in marketing), and "Shrek Forever After" (the official title). A fifth film was planned but never made; rumor has it the working title was "Shrek Pleads the Fifth".
  • Minimalist example: How to Train Your Dragon was followed by just one numbered sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, before adopting this trope for its final installment, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Many novel series start of with subtitles like, "The Second Novel of X Series" before switching to "A Novel of X Series". Sometimes there's a reason for this: The second novel gets labeled as such so it's easier to identify the sequel when it first comes out, while subsequent books are not necessarily set in stone in terms of numbering or continuity.
  • Melisa Michaels' Skyrider series was originally intended to be a trilogy, and the first book was initially published as Skyrider 1: Skirmish. None of the other books in the series ever had a number, and reprintings of Skirmish omitted the "Skyrider 1" part as well.
  • Uncle John's Bathroom Reader broke free of the "Uncle John's Nth Bathroom Reader" naming scheme after the 7th book, instead opting for subtle Toilet Humor ("Uncle John's All Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader"), Alliterative Title, or a Pun-Based Title.
  • Goosebumps had Night of the Living Dummy books 1-3, then Bride of the Living Dummy, Slappy's Nightmare, Revenge of the Living Dummy and Son of Slappy.
  • The first paperback editions of Equal Rites and Mort had a subtitle reading "The [Third/Fourth] Discworld Novel". Later editions of the first two novels with that trade dress followed suit (originally The Colour of Magic had an X Meets Y description of the book and The Light Fantastic had "A sequel to The Colour of Magic, because nobody, least of all Terry Pratchett, knew it was going to be a series). From Sourcery, it just says "A Discworld Novel".

    Music 
  • New wave band Daniel Amos created a series of four linked concept albums. They all had different titles, but the first three had the subtitle, The Alarma Chronicles Volume [number]. However, the final album, Fearful Symmetry, dropped the subtitle. In fact, it didn't mention The Alarma Chronicles anywhere on the front or back cover.
  • Canadian Punk band Billy Talent's albums: Billy Talent, Billy Talent II, Billy Talent III, Dead Silence

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia started with (in order) 1st edition, 2nd edition, 5th edition (later declared an "unproduct"), and 3rd edition (unpublished). Then it was revived with XP (formally dropped after Microsoft complained, so this version was just called "Paranoia") and 25th Anniversary Edition (a reprint of XP with some additional material).
  • They developed the Nth edition formula for the bi-yearly "Core" sets for Magic: The Gathering, up until 10th Edition. Then, they switched to numbering them by the year they come out (and do them yearly).

    Video Games 
  • The Castlevania series
    • The original Castlevania was followed by Castlevania II: Simon's Quest and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, all three on the NES, and Super Castlevania IV on the Super NES. The sequels stopped using numerals afterward when they started appeared on non-Nintendo consoles, particularly with Castlevania: Bloodlines on the Genesis.
    • Castevania II: Simon's Quest was titled Dracula II: Noroi no Fūin in Japan and was the only one of the above sequels with a numbered title. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is otherwise known as Akumajō Densetsu (although it had the working title of "Dracula III"), while Super Castlevania IV is simply titled Akumajō Dracula (same name as the first Famicom game). While Akumajō Dracula X: Chi no Rondo was technically the tenth installment, the "X" on the title is a letter and not a number (and the title would be reused years later for a direct sequel).
    • Castlevania: The Adventure had its own numbered sequel, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, both being Game Boy games. As a result, Castlevania II could refer to either, Simon's Quest on the NES or Belmont's Revenge on the Game Boy. There's less ambiguity with the Japanese titles, as the two games were part of a side-series titled Dracula Densetsu and Dracula Densetsu II respectively.
  • The Marathon series' second game had both a number and a subtitle (Marathon 2: Durandal), then the third fulfilled the trope (Marathon Infinity: Blood Tides of Lh'owon)
  • The Need for Speed series, leading to the pretty awkward numbering of the Hot Pursuit subseries (Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit -> Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 -> Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog series. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is named as such simply for in-universe chronology reasons and because its in the style of the original numbered games.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Red Faction series after II.
  • The Legend of Zelda is an odd example, the sequel was simply titled Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the rest of the series just used subtitles, making the second game a black sheep in naming (though The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is sometimes known as "Zelda III" as a shorthand). Some of the games do have the internal number noted during production or in their product IDs (The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games were 7 and 8, for example).
  • The Star Wars: Dark Forces Saga, see Colon Cancer for what it would look like.
  • Tomb Raider series, starting with the fourth game, The Last Revelation. While later games are not numbered, fans still refer to them by number in casual conversation, and the desktop icons for The Last Revelation and Chronicles stated that they were Tomb Raider IV and Tomb Raider V, respectively; Capcom actually used the numbers when it published those two games in Japan.
  • Interestingly, that was inverted with Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series by the third game, as otherwise Tiberian Sun would've been named as Command & Conquer 2.
  • Subverted with the Contra series. The first sequel was Super Contra, otherwise known as Super C on the NES. Contra III: The Alien Wars for the SNES was actually the third game in the series for home consoles following the NES versions of Contra and Super C, with the actual third game being Operation C for Game Boy. There were further Contra sequels afterward, but none of them were numbered except for Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS, which was titled as such because it was set between Contra III and Contra Hard Corps (it was really the eleventh game in the series, excluding ports).
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was going to be titled Metal Gear Solid 5 at one point, being the fifth MGS game directed by original creator Hideo Kojima. The numeral was dropped from the finalized title due to the fact that it was a portable game and not originally designed for home consoles in mind like previous numbered entries (although it did get a remastered port as part of the HD Collection). Peace Walker does try to set itself apart from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, the previous portable MGS title (going as far as to throw some shades at it) and the game does set up the story for what eventually became the official Metal Gear Solid V.
  • Repton. The first three games had no particular setting, so the next three dropped the numbering in favour of titles that advertised the fact that Repton was now going around the world and through time. Next comes Repton Infinity, which includes a subgame called Repton 4, but there's also the entirely separate Ego: Repton 4 —. To add to the confusion, the PC remakes don't include Repton Infinity (and so don't include either Repton 4). The result is that no-one can agree on what number comes next, so all subsequent games have been unnumbered.
  • The Mortal Kombat sequels went from Mortal Kombat II to Mortal Kombat 4 and after that (when the series no longer had arcade releases) we got Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (the fifth game, which featured a bloodied "V" as part of its logo), Mortal Kombat: Deception (sixth) and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (seventh). The Continuity Reboot is officially titled Mortal Kombat, which is considered by the developers to be "Mortal Kombat 9", since they consider the crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe to be the eighth entry in the series. The tenth installment was titled Mortal Kombat X, as in the letter "X", not the roman numeral ten. And then the eleventh game returned to being numbered.
  • Call of Duty 2, 3, 4: Modern Warfare, then Call of Duty: World at War, Modern Warfare 2 (which actually dropped the Call of Duty name in some places), Black Ops, Modern Warfare 3, Black Ops 2, Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, and Black Ops 3.
  • Advance Wars dropped the numbers for the third and fourth games on the Nintendo DS.
  • Guitar Hero has gone back and forth, as the sequels are II, III: Legends of Rock, World Tour, 5, and Warriors of Rock.
  • The second main game (the third overall) in the Kingdom Hearts series was called Kingdom Hearts II. Kingdom Hearts III, depending on how you count, is at least the tenth installment in the series. The interim games used subtitles, even the "Episode 0" game, Birth by Sleep. Oddly enough, two of these possess a "3" in the title, despite not being main games or the intended KHIII: the interquel 358/2 Days and 3D for the Nintendo 3DS, which picks off where II (and Re:coded) ended.
  • The Ace Combat series (produced in Japan, mind you) fought a long and hard battle against sequel numbering starting with the fourth. Its first sequel was simply Ace Combat 2; the second added a subtitle to Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere. When making the fourth title became inevitable, they padded it with a zero to make sure it doesn't blow up: Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. It didn't. So they made Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War—and stumbled again. In the following three years, Ace Combat Advance, Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, and Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception were released. The final swan song for Numbered Sequels was Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. After that, Namco couldn't take it anymore: an Ace Combat Xi: Skies of Incursion and an Ace Combat X2 (released as Ace Combat: Joint Assault) later, they have finally announced a full-blown Continuity Reboot with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
  • Inverted with The King of Fighters (somewhat). From 1994 to 2003, the series numbered its installments with the year of its release. Starting with XI, SNK chose to go with the installment number instead of the year (probably because XI took more than a year to release due to SNK spending some time messing around with new hardware; SNK also wanted to do away with their previous model of working around the clock to churn out a new title each and every year). This gets confusing because KOF Maximum Impact 2 (a 3D spinoff to the mainline KOF series) was released in the United States as The King of Fighters 2006.
  • The SimCity series for PC had a good streak of numerical titles: SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000, and SimCity 4. The fifth entry, released in 2013, was simply titled SimCity.
  • Hudson Soft's Power League baseball game series for the PC Engine dropped the Roman numerals for its sixth installment, which was titled Power League '93.
  • Atari Games' RBI Baseball series stopped using numbered sequels the same year, jumping from RBI Baseball 4 to RBI Baseball '93.
  • Prince of Persia after Prince of Persia 3D. Since then we've had a new trilogy, a Recycled Title, and then a Trilogy Creep to the aforementioned trilogy.
  • Zigzagged with Puyo Puyo. The early sequels used Japanese pun-based titles to indicated their placement in the series such as Puyo Puyo Tsu (2), Puyo Puyo Sun (3), and Puyo Puyo-n (4). Afterward, we had Puyo Puyo Fever and Fever 2, which ditched numbering to indicate a Soft Reboot, and then Puyo Puyo 7 returned to numbering. In-between Fever 2 and 7 was the Milestone Celebration 15th Anniversary, which wasn't counted in the numbering. Following that, none of the installments are numbered: 20th Anniversary, Quest, Tetris, Chronicle, and Champions.
  • The Assassin's Creed franchise has gotten a little silly with this over the years:
    • Initially there was a logic behind each numbered entry featuring a new protagonist and setting. Assassin's Creed was followed by Assassin's Creed II, shifting from Middle East/The Crusades to Italy/The Renaissance and Altair to Ezio. Ezio Auditore proved to be a Breakout Character and spawned two sequels - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which was effectively Assassins Creed 2.1 and then Assassin's Creed: Revelations. This was followed by newcomer Connor Kenway's Assassin's Creed III which shifted to the Era of The American Revolution.
    • After III, Ubisoft changed their minds and gave a number and a subtitle for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, used to differentiate it as a Genre Shift pirate game. The protagonist was the grandfather of Connor Kenway and the setting is still North America, so it still made sense.
    • After Black Flag, the two 2014 console entries- Assassin's Creed: Rogue on the last-gen consoles and Assassin's Creed: Unity on current-gen- have seen Ubisoft just give up completely on the numbering system, with Rogue seen as a continuation of the North American/Kenway story but featuring a character, Shay Cormac, who is separate from the three Kenways, while the other game is set among a new cast in France during the Revolution and is a next-gen overhaul moreover. Ubisoft has since stated that Unity is left unnumbered because it is a new beginning, and there are no plans to continue numbering Assassin's Creed titles. This was confirmed by the 2015 entry in the series being titled Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, moving the storyline to 19th century London with Jacob Frye as the protagonist.
  • Crash Bandicoot stopped numbering after the third game, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, which was incidentally the last platformer entry produced by the original team at Naughty Dog, although the Wrath of Cortex and Twinsanity were retitled Crash Bandicoot 4 and 5 respectively in Japan.
  • Spyro the Dragon.
  • BioShock, BioShock 2, BioShock Infinite. Though in this case it's more to separate Infinite from the Rapture storyline.
  • Only Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is numbered in the Monkey Island series. The others are just called The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island and Tales of Monkey Island. Justified as Fanon Discontinuity by many, since creator Ron Gilbert planned a trilogy but left LucasArts after the second. The third game had to retcon some things in order to tie in the plot. Ron Gilbert remains interested in some day releasing "the real Monkey Island 3" (his words). If it is ever made, it is unknown how it will fit into the chronology.
  • Syphon Filter after the PS1 trilogy.
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback was produced by a budget-title/shovelware developer, and its plot is completely unrelated to the first two (numbered) games.
  • The BEMANI games have slowly stopped numbering their sequels, of the eight actively supported games in the franchise, only two (beatmania IIDX and Nostalgia) still number their sequels (though Jubeat has never numbered its sequels, and Dance Rush only has one installment at the moment).
  • Alone in the Dark used numbers for the original trilogy of DOS games and some of their ports, but not the later Multi-Platform games.
  • The third installment of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy drops the numbering that Final Fantasy XIII-2 had.
  • In the U.S. and Europe, Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter became simply Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and fittingly so, as it marks a major divergence from the first four Breath of Fire games.
  • Metroid was followed by only one numbered sequel, Metroid II: Return of Samus, but the two others that followed it had "Metroid 3" (Super Metroid) and "Metroid 4" (Metroid Fusion) on the opening screen. Given the series' Anachronic Order, then it went all over the place. The Metroid Prime subseries also had two numbered sequels, along with one that didn't as it was an Interquel (Metroid Prime: Hunters), plus a pinball remake.
  • Donkey Kong Country stopped after the SNES trilogy. The follow-ups were Donkey Kong 64 (last one by Rare) and Donkey Kong Country Returns (first to use the "Country" subtitle again).
  • Densetsu no Stafy had numbered sequels for the first four installments, but for the fifth went for a subtitle ("Densetsu no Stafy Taiketsu! Daīru Kaizokudan", meaning "The Legendary Starfy Confrontation! Dairu Pirate Squad").
  • Dragon Age: Origins was followed up with Dragon Age II and later Dragon Age: Inquisition, although the latter was initially marketed as Dragon Age III: Inquisition before dropping the III before release.
  • The Silent Hill series tacked on a subtitle for the fourth game, and dropped the numbers afterward once they started being outsourced to western developers.
  • Grand Theft Auto took the odd approach of, after three numbered games, naming the next two after their locations rather than more numbers, despite them being full-length games with ever-larger game worlds and upgraded mechanics. The idea may be that they are not numbered sequels since Vice City and San Andreas were actually prequels set before the events of Grand Theft Auto III during the '80s and '90s respectively - after two portable spinoffs that also served as prequels, the Roman numerals picked up right where they'd left off with Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: One supposes they thought it was getting ridiculous.
  • The Hitman series after Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. Though the games were sometimes referred to by numbers as short-hand, the franchise itself has two games that use the name "Hitman"; those being Codename 47 (released in 1999) and the colloquially-named HITMAN (2016) (released in 2016, go figure). There are also another two games that use the name "Hitman 2" too; Silent Assassin (released in 2001), and HITMAN 2 (released in 2018)
  • Thief 2014 was originally Thief 4, but since it was a reboot, the publisher dropped the 4. The series had already dropped the 3 from Deadly Shadows.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War was originally Deus Ex 2: Invisible War, but the 2 was dropped when development began on the Xbox version. Deus Ex: Human Revolution kept the non-numbered sequel thing going. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided continues the trend.
  • Halo kept numbering straight, with the exception of Halo: Reach, which was a prequel and they didn't want to call it Halo 0. Halo 5: Guardians was initially called just Halo for the new console (Xbox One), but Microsoft later gave it a proper 5.
  • Though Ruins Chaser was meant to be titled as Lufia III, the game that came out after it was cancelled was simply Lufia: The Legend Returns. Then again, Lufia II was a Prequel to the first game...
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda, as the developers have stated it is meant to be the start of a new adventure rather than a continuation of Commander Shepard's story. It didn't quite stop the fandom from referring to it as Mass Effect 4 until its title was announced.
  • In the Wing Commander series, the fifth "main" game dropped the numbering of sequels from earlier games, the series stepping back from the extensive Full Motion Video of the previous two installations to more of a focus on gameplay, after creator Chris Roberts left Origin.
  • The third game in the No More Heroes series, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, doesn't use a number. The debut trailer jokingly hints that this is because of the nearly decade long gap between the second and third game's releases. Ironically, the fourth game would be announced under the name No More Heroes III not long after, reintroducing the numbering.
  • Narrowly averted by The Sims 4. It was originally conceived as an MMO titled The Sims Olympus before gears changed late in development to turn it into a single player game akin to previous entries in the series.
  • Ratchet & Clank zig-zags this trope to hell and back once you compare the regions. Officially, the original NTSC titles for Going Commando and Up Your Arseanal don't have numbers in them, just the visual motif in their logo designs. The Japanese versions and certain PAL versions however do include the number, and in Japan the numbering continues through to "Ratchet & Clank 4" and "Ratchet & Clank 5". Lastly, the Japanese title for A Crack in Time begins with "Ratchet & Clank Future 2." (Which makes Quest for Booty...?)
  • Ryu Ga Gotoku 7 is titled Yakuza: Like A Dragon in the west, reflecting the genre shift from real-time action to turn-based RPG.

    Other 
  • Windows:
    • "Client" editions stopped using version numbers after 3.1 on the DOS-based versions and 4.0 on the NT versions, opting for sequel numbers based on the year of release. Then came XP (which combined the DOS and NT lines) and Vista, but then averted with Windows 7, Windows 8 (and 8.1), and Windows 10. (Windows 9 was an Un-Installment.)
    • The internal version numbers followed the public numbers up until 4.0, then went different (Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 were internally 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 respectively) until they jumped straight to version 10.0 for Windows 10.
    • "Server" editions have been using year numbering ever since Windows 2000 (though using the suffix "R2" for versions close to the previous one), with names mostly consistent since Windows Server 2003 (companion to Windows XP) up to and including the current Windows Server 2016 (companion to Windows 10).
  • Similarly, Apple stopped marketing new versions of macOS under their version numbers after 10.1 because they decided the internal codenames, named for species of big cats, were more interesting. And then they ran out of big cats (not really, but that was their excuse) and switched to landmarks in California. The really weird part was that most of them are alternate names for the same cat.
    • Though Apple stopped referring to the 10.x numbers, they still continued to sell their OS as Mac OS X. Weirdly, the next time they changed the name, in 2012, they Averted this by dropping the Mac part and not the number, leaving it as just OS X, despite the diminishing number of Mac users who would remember Mac OS versions 1-9. Then, in 2016 they reversed course and dropped the number for good and brought back the Mac part, renaming the OS yet again to just macOS.
  • Computer chip maker Intel made personal computer CPU chips named 8086, 80186, 80286, 80386, 80486...and then went with "Pentium" because rival chipmaker AMD was using the same numeric designation for their chips, and Intel was informed that they couldn't trademark a number. Since then, they've branched out into different "lines", which often ended up with numbers attached — Pentium III, Core 2, etc.
  • Normally, at the start of an episode of Jeopardy!, announcer Johnny Gilbert will state how many days the returning champion has been reigning ("…whose x day cash winnings total y dollars…"). When Ken Jennings went on his hot streak, they eventually stopped declaring how many days he'd been champion (he made it to 74 before losing his 75th game). The practice resumed once Jennings was defeated.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma radio hosts Brent Douglas and Phil Stone created the Roy D. Mercer character for the purpose of Prank Calls which they would play on-air. These skits became so popular that they started releasing them on Capitol Records in The '90s. The first seven compilations were simply titled after Roy's Catchphrase: How Big a Boy Are Ya? Seven volumes of How Big a Boy Are Ya? were released before they broke away fom the volume numbers and gave each subsequent album its own title.
  • Porn Film Series usually subvert this trope. It is not uncommon to have the same title series run into the 30s, 40s, 69, and beyond (without skipping an installment). If they do have a "reboot" of the series, they will usually add the word "new" or something similar to the title and additional titles become "New Title 2" and so on.


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