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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
A practice that in recent years I have come to abhor
But I'm willing to ignore, 'cause they're making a—
! ...Thief.

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.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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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    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 

  • 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".

  • 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 

  • 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 Catch-Phrase: 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.


Example of: