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Trilogy Creep

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"The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately-named Hitchhiker's Trilogy."

The strange tendency of trilogies to expand and see more and more works added to The 'Verse. Mainly found in books, but may also occur with movies.

SF author Orson Scott Card has suggested that this is the result of Executive Meddling; rather than allow an author to just write the books they want to write, publishers pressure them into producing sequel after sequel in order to take advantage of the preexisting fanbase and milk a Cash Cow Franchise bone-dry.

Two-Part Trilogy is somewhat related, typically the result of a one-part story expanding into a trilogy. Contrast Divided for Publication, which is when a work is split into more parts than the author originally envisioned, due to excessive length, and Divided for Adaptation, which is when a work, particularly if it's the final book in the series, is split into two or more parts in an adaptation.


See also Franchise Zombie. Capcom Sequel Stagnation is a related trope for Video Games.


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    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • Kick-Ass was supposed to be three issues, which then changed to four by the second issue; then it was eight. By the time it ended the comic was now a trilogy consisted of three volumes comprising eight, seven and eight issues respectively, as well as a five-issue Hit-Girl miniseries. And then the franchise was rebooted with a black female protagonist.
  • Runaways was originally going to be a single miniseries, but the series' success caused Brian K. Vaughan to create an ongoing, which was supposed to end with a run by Joss Whedon, but instead led to a third series, a slew of guest appearances and event tie-ins, a new, In Name Only incarnation, and Nico Minoru and Victor Mancha getting promoted to off-shoots of The Avengers.
  • The Chilean comic Zombies en la Moneda, by Mythica Ediciones, was originally planned as a trilogy, and the third volume presented a satisfactory ending, however its great popularity motivated to create a sequel also in the form of a trilogy, moving the action from Santiago - the capital of Chile- to Valparaíso, the main port of the country. There were plans for a sequel (where the zombies would invade The White House) and spin-off, but the death of Marco Rauch, founder and owner of Mythica Ediciones, has put all these plans in doubt.

    Fan Works 
  • Turnabout Storm is an interesting case. Originally a 4-part series, the episode count increased to five when Part 3 was split into two episodes via Simultaneous Arcs, but with the final part still being called Part 4 — At least until Part 5, the real conclusion, was confirmed via Cliffhanger.
  • In the case of The Calvinverse, this happened to two different trilogies at the same time - Swing123 and garfieldodie both made their own separate Calvin and Hobbes trilogies, and ultimately Retro Chill served as a crossover between the two (cementing the series as a universe, it could be said).
  • The Elemental Chess Trilogy of Fullmetal Alchemist stories was originally exactly that, but has been expanded to include a Prequel, a Distant Finale, and a collection of side stories. Despite this, it's still called a trilogy.
  • The Rival Prefects Trilogy started out as a one-off story that the author later decided needed a sequel. Then he wrote a third story to make it a trilogy. This was followed by a companion piece and finally a follow-up.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The American Pie trilogy, direct-to-video spinoffs aside, later got a fourth movie: American Reunion. A fifth movie has been stated to be likely.
  • One of the taglines for Scary Movie 4 was "The Fourth and Final Chapter of the Trilogy"... Then Scary Movie 5 came out. In France, Scary Movie 3 had the tagline "Best trilogies are in three parts."note  For that matter, it wasn't even the first time they had pulled such a stunt. One of the taglines for the original Scary Movie was "No shame. No mercy. No sequel." One of the taglines for the second film was "We lied."
  • Alien³ is the definitive ending for the story of Ellen Ripley, who died by simultaneously falling into molten lead and giving birth to a Xenomorph queen. However, Alien: Resurrection brought the character back as a clone who finally made it to Earth. Up until the release of the Alien Legacy box set in 2000, the first three movies were still packaged in one case as the "Alien Trilogy", with the fourth film packed in separately. It's also been released as a "Quadrilogy"note  and an "Anthology" (to say nothing of the spinoff Alien vs. Predator films or the 2012 pseudo-prequel Prometheus).
  • The Indiana Jones trilogy was expanded with a fourth movie after a nineteen-year hiatus. Justified in that the Indiana Jones series was originally intended to be five or six movies long anyway, but things just kept getting in the way of development. In the meantime, much material was added to the Expanded Universe.
  • Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard. Something of a stretch, since the Die Hard series doesn't really have an overarching storyline anyway.
  • Spy Kids. However, the film is not really a continuation of the first three, since it's centered around a new family (the family of the previously-unmentioned aunt of the original spy kids, to be exact), though the original spy kids, now grown-up, do appear.
  • The View Askewniverse, which started out as the Jersey Trilogy and became the Askewniverse Chronicles. There are six films released, with Clerks 3 on the way.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean. However, the fourth film is an entirely new adventure featuring Jack Sparrow, rather than a continuation of the previous films' arc. A fifth film was later made.
  • After a trilogy, Paranormal Activity came out with a fourth film in an obvious attempt to get more money from the fans, followed by Latino-focused spinoff, and apparently finished with The Ghost Dimension. Then in 2019, a seventh film was announced.
  • Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI, formerly referred to as the "Star Wars Trilogy") was later expanded with a new "Prequel Trilogy" of movies (Episodes I-III), as well as multiple television series, games, books and comics in spin-off material. Though many had believed the saga was completed with Revenge of the Sith in 2005, a new "Sequel Trilogy" (Episodes VII-IX) went almost immediately into production following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, as well as new spin-offs. Justified in that Star Wars was not originally intended to be just a trilogy, with initial plans aiming for a twelve-movie saga including prequels and sequels. Then George Lucas shortened to nine following the first movie, and settled on six after the second.note  The sequel trilogy has seen the release of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Saw I was originally intended to be a stand-alone film. Because of the astounding success of that one, they decided to end on the third movie. Obviously, they came back after the third one and just decided to flesh out a story and keep writing until they came up with the perfect ending. They came up with an additional 5 scripts. The trope was slightly subverted when they had to cut down to 4 scripts because of the success of the Paranormal Activity franchise, which would later end the Saw franchise in 2010. It was revived however in 2017 with Jigsaw, with a followup, Spiral, scheduled to be released in 2021.
  • Almost occurred with the Spider-Man Trilogy, with a fourth film in development after Spider-Man 3 had wrapped up the current plot threads, but due to Creative Differences the franchise was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man instead.
  • George A. Romero's Living Dead Series. The original Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) stood as a trilogy for 20 years and became a hallmark of the zombie film genre before receiving a fourth installment in Land of the Dead, which got some great reviews but was viewed by some fans as a disappointment. Two more installments, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead, came out in rapid succession, to very little cultural impact.
  • Scream 4, though given that this is the Scream series, it took a couple digs at this.
  • The credits for Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom read "End of Trilogy". Cue another sequel, Karl the Butcher vs. Axe, eleven years later.
  • Deadly Dares: Truth or Dare Part IV, made thirteen years after Screaming for Sanity: Truth or Dare 3.
  • Rambo (2008), which is more informally known as Rambo 4, arrived in theaters a full two decades after the final installment in the original First Blood trilogy that introduced the character to movie audiences. The fourth film isn't really that gratuitous, however, since it allows John Rambo some closure by having him, at the film's very end, finally return to his father's ranch in Arizona, which he has been away from for close to 40 years.
  • The Bourne Series was seemingly a full-circle trilogy... until a Spin-Off fourth installment, The Bourne Legacy came out in 2012. Then a fifth film, Jason Bourne, came out in 2016 by the same team as the first three films (minus scriptwriter Tony Gilroy).
  • Mad Max was a trilogy for 30 years - and then came Mad Max: Fury Road, which even required a change of lead actor and filming location. George Miller has stated it will start a whole trilogy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • The fourth Avengers film, Avengers: Endgame, is the first time a sub-franchise is more than a trilogy. That said, the story arcs of individual characters such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have evolved over the course of their solo film trilogies in addition to the other films they appear in, blurring the distinction of what constitutes an individual film series and the franchise as a whole. Further, Endgame is supposed to act as a culmination of the previous ten years of film, but the MCU continues after that.
    • Thor will be the first character to headline more than three solo films, with Thor: Love and Thunder being the fourth. Though Thor: Ragnarok found a solid ending for his arc, the Happy Ending Override from Avengers: Infinity War means he's at the start of a new arc.
  • The Omen series initially ran for three films that were released between 1976 to 1981 with the third being billed as the last of the trilogy. A fourth film though was released in 1991 (although, unlike the previous 3, it was a tv movie).
  • J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was initially announced as a trilogy, then bumped to five films before the first was even released. Because why have three films set in the universe of one of the best box-office grossing franchises of all time when you can have five?
  • Ip Man 3 was initially intended to be a trilogy capper for the Ip Man film series, with a spinoff without the title character (Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy) coming out after it. Then Ip Man 4 was announced, and Donnie Yen was paid a hefty sum to return, seemingly for the last time.
  • The Matrix Revolutions concluded the Matrix trilogy... then a fourth film was ordered over 15 year later, and is due to come out in 2021.

  • L. Frank Baum tried to end the Oz series at the sixth book, stating that there would be no way to ever contact the Land of Oz anymore. That didn't happen, of course, and he wrote eight more books before dying, at which point the publishers handed the series off to Ruth Plumly Thompson.
  • Orson Scott Card, who discussed this trope above, is no stranger to this.
    • The Tales of Alvin Maker: The fourth book of going-on-seven opens with a chapter-length rant from the author that's titled "I Thought I Was Done" and justifies its existence by meandering into and out of setting background.
    • Ender's Game began as a novelette. When he tried to expand it into the novel Speaker for the Dead, he realized it would have a very slow, boring beginning—but if he stretched that beginning out even further, and turned it into a novel of its own, he'd be able to add details and character development and make it more interesting. Then his publisher accidentally wrote out a contract for "the Ender trilogy," and he had to rewrite a planned standalone called Philotes into the third book. Then he realized just how long Philotes was, and split it into two books, Xenocide and Children of the Mind. Killing off the main character nearly ended the series, but then he realized the thousand-year Time Skip between books 1 and 2 allowed for plenty of Interquels. Now the series is up to double digits, including one that takes place during the Time Skip at the end of the first book.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • Douglas Adams' "trilogy" eventually ended with the fifth book, Mostly Harmless. He Lampshaded it by calling it a "trilogy in four parts" after the fourth book came out and an "increasingly inaccurately-named trilogy" after the fifth. The first three books go together quite well, and the last two seem a bit awkwardly tacked on. The fifth book seemed to be a case of Torch the Franchise and Run, but he later revealed that the ending was more due to his mood than anything and he regretted it. He would have un-torched the 'verse in a sixth book, but alas, unfortunately...
    • Eoin Colfer (writer of the Artemis Fowl books) has written And Another Thing..., making this a trilogy of six. The book emphasizes the idea of "no endings" throughout, and while it could be a conclusion to the series, it points furtively in the direction of an ongoing story. The book's cover states that it is "Part Six of Three".
    • The Salmon of Doubt, which contains excerpts from an additional Dirk Gently novel that Adams was developing at the time of his death, includes notes that he was beginning to feel Mostly Harmless was not the appropriate place to end the Hitchhiker's series (it was a bad Creator Breakdown, ending with all Alternate Universe Earths destroyed and and 80% of the main cast dead.), and implies that Salmon would either have been retooled into the sixth part, or a crossover.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation: In the early 1950s, all of the stories from the setting were re-edited for publication as The Foundation Trilogy. Dr Asimov's publishers would repeatedly ask him for more stories in the Foundation setting, until he finally caved in and published Foundation's Edge in 1982. At this point, he began consistently publishing Novels in the setting every few yearsnote . Many of the newer stories also tie the original trilogy to other settings, such as The Empire Novels and his Robot Series. Both he and his estate also authorized other authors to write additional works within the Foundation setting. The entire setting now covers over a dozen books, and The Foundation Trilogy now refers to only the original nine short works.
  • When Bernard Cornwell was inspired by the popularity of the Sharpe television series to write some more novels, he wrote three books set prior to the Peninsular War setting of the existing novels. They were quickly dubbed the prequel trilogy by fans. Then he wrote two more. (Although as the first three concerned Sharpe's adventures in India and the other two dealt with the earlier part of the Napoleonic conflict, they seemed to have been rebranded the India trilogy.) In the end, he only moved on to other projects when he ran out of early 19th century wars for Richard Sharpe to fight in. The quality of writing remained consistently good throughout.
  • Margaret Weis seems particularly prone to this:
    • The Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy received a fourth book, Dragons of Summer Flame, which wasn't written until after several other series and standalone works had been made in the same verse. It was written 14 years after the third book, took place 30 years after, and didn't star any of the characters from the originals (though some of them did have supporting roles). Many feel that the only reason it was dubbed part of the Chronicles series was for marketing purposes.
    • The Darksword "trilogy" by Weis and Hickman consists of four books. The fourth is written in a somewhat different style than the rest (taking place after a Time Skip and being narrated by a new character), but does conclude important plot threads that the third book left dangling. There is also another book (Darksword Adventures) which is half novella set in the same setting as the trilogy, and half RPG system.
    • Weis's solo series The Star of the Guardians had its third book conclude with the main character rightfully crowned king and all the main characters getting what they deserved... Including the Nominal Hero, who faked his death and returned to a life of penitent obscurity in light of his now-dead One True Pairing. Then Weis published a fourth book to clean them up. (And, even better, she then took her version of the Magnificent Seven to Ascended Extra levels by publishing a trilogy about them! They're not really related, and main characters from Guardians rarely appear in Mag Force 7, but, still.)
  • Dune is an interesting example. Dune was actually conceived as one long book, with the sequels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune fitting directly after the first. Messiah was fleshed out while writing Dune and eventually became its own novel, which due to its expansion then warranted Children to be expanded as well and also became its own book. God-Emperor of Dune and the last two in the series, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune are genuine examples of a trilogy creep, though the fact that the story is now over 10,000 years past in the originals, it's fair to say that they're a trilogy of their own. Before he died, Herbert planned to write a seventh book which would've been the last of a trilogy, with God Emperor serving as a bridge between the first and second trilogies. With this all said, someone "found" notes in a safe/vault/deposit box supposedly with a lot of notes on how the series was supposed to end. What happened? A prequel trilogy leading up to the original Dune novel. Followed by a pre-prequel to the whole series set in the distant past. And finally the closure of the series... followed by more books in the form of interquels(?). The canonicity is up for debate among fans.
  • The Wheel of Time was supposed to be a trilogy. Eleven books later, the author died. And what was meant to be the twelfth and final book has since expanded to form its own trilogy. At World Con 2008 Tom Doherty of Tor Books finally put this long-standing rumour to rest: it was originally planned to be six books when Robert Jordan proposed the series to him in 1984, before he even started writing the first book. It's also been stated that Jordan planned for it to be three but Doherty made it a six-book deal due to Doherty's knowledge that Jordan always wrote more than he thought he needed in the first place. Jordan's original plan was for Rand to get Callandor at the end of the first book.
  • Inheritance Cycle also got a fourth book. The page was originally called The Inheritance Trilogy until the announcement. In this case, it's because the fourth book didn't expand the story, the third and fourth book just got too long to release as one. The last book is 866 pages long. The third book, Brisingr, is another 750 pages so splitting it up was a logical choice. In 2018, a new series of short stories The Tales from Alagaesia, which would continue the series, was announced.
  • For many years there were three novels in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea setting, and they were called the Earthsea Trilogy. Then came Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, and the series was renamed to the Earthsea Cycle. "The Last Book of Earthsea" was followed by another novel. And that's without mentioning the short stories.
  • The Belgariad was planned to be a trilogy ("Belgarion", "Ce'Nedra" & "Torak"). Eddings explains in The Rivan Codex that due to length and the publishing standards of large book chains at the time, his publisher convinced him to do a pentalogy instead. Then, when he was writing book four, he realised that he was going to have plenty of material left over, and the second pentalogy was planned. And when that wasn't enough, they went and planned a prequel, that in fact saw the light as two... Of two books each. The Elenium, on the other hand, was a trilogy that received another trilogy of sequels.
  • Piers Anthony lampshades this by marveling at how long the Xanth "trilogy" has become in the afterword to one of the books. He then mentions the possibility of working on more books in the Apprentice Adept series, since that trilogy was "looking a little sparse" at only three books. It eventually reached seven. The first Xanth "trilogy" happens to have 27 books, with the last of these being titled "Cube Route" (and since 3 cubed is 27, this is another of Piers' in/famous puns). In fact, this seems to happen to Anthony a lot. The Cluster trilogy ended up being supplemented with two Interquels. The Incarnations of Immortality series, though never a trilogy, ended up three books longer than originally planned. As for the Apprentice Adept Trilogy - it's now two trilogies and a seventh standalone.
  • Mickey Zucker Reichert's Renshai trilogy started out as a stand-alone trilogy. Then she wrote a sequel trilogy. And then she wrote a sequel to the sequel trilogy.
  • Mostly averted by Tad Williams; his novels are about as Doorstopper as they come, but his series last exactly the number of books that he intends them to last. However, To Green Angel Tower (of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy) was split into two books for the paperback edition and at least one translation. This inadvertently happened with another trilogy of his, in that the book became so huge that it had to be split in half. It's not so much "trilogy creep" as "trilogy overflow."
  • Robert Rankin's Brentford Trilogy has seven books. The Armageddon series, perhaps in reference to this, is called an Octology, despite there only being three books in it.
  • Stephen King declared in his afterword to The Gunslinger that he foresaw The Dark Tower eventually comprising six to seven novels, spanning 3,000 or so pages, and taking anywhere from 20 to 300 years to write. He made good on the letter of his promise; the finished series is seven books and runs a little over 3,000 pages, but the series itself spilled over into over a dozen of his other novels, which amounts to tens of thousands of pages overall.
  • In the foreword for Blandings Castle, P. G. Wodehouse jokes about this by referring to the 'saga affliction' that grabs the attentions of unwary authors and forces them to think up more and more ideas for what was intended to be just one story.
  • John Marsden's Tomorrow, When the War Began series was originally a very tightly written trilogy, that afterwards ended up seven books. There is also a post-war series, which did actually manage to end at three books, but effectively forms part of a single narrative bridging all ten volumes.
  • Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga was written as a trilogy (Magician, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon). The first book was edited for size by the US publisher. Later, for the paperback edition the original content was restored, but the resulting text was split into two books (Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master). The UK publisher still produces Magician as a single volume.
  • John Christopher's The Tripods had a prequel added to it about 20 years after the original. This was not a bad story by itself, but some felt it was a poor fit to the classic series.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire was originally slated to be three books. By the end of book two, the writer realized he couldn't do it in three, and so expanded it to four. Since then, he's expanded that to six, and then splitting the fourth book in two, making it seven. If he can keep it that way, it would be fortuitous, as within the world of the books seven is an important number.
    • The French translations of large fantasy cycles almost never use the words "trilogie", or "tetralogie", or whatever, even when they were used for the original. This is because the publishers smelled the cash-cow and made it an habit to split each book into two, three, or even four parts. The French version of A Song of Ice and Fire is currently a dodecalogy and this bizarro-version of the Trilogy Creep will eventually require the French speaking fans to shell upward of 200 euros just to get the completed series in paperback.
    • In the UK, books three and five of A Song of Ice and Fire were each published in two parts, so as of 2012, there are already seven books in the series.
  • John Scalzi's ''Old Man's War" trilogy has now gained a fourth book, retelling the events of the third book from another character's POV.
  • Stephenie Meyer's publishers wanted her to stop at three books about Bella and Edward. She took four books to finish out their story, and planned on writing the first book from Edward's point of view, but that was scrapped when the rough draft was leaked online.
  • Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series gained a fourth book years after the first three were originally published, but this wasn't a change of plan: book three had an author's note explicitly stating that "This is not a fantasy trilogy; it's a series that happens at the moment to be three books long".
  • David Gerrold originally planned for his The War Against the Chtorr series to be a trilogy, before he realized he was going to need more room. It's currently up to four books.
  • Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Series has a clear ending in book three, as Bourne/Webb finally kills his nemesis Carlos the Jackal. After Ludlum's death Eric van Lustbader continued the series. Interestingly the film adaptations of the books, which bear only the most superficial resemblance to their source material, also provide a definite ending in the third entry. But then they started making Bourne 4.
  • Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels Trilogy has six books (and a short story/novella) collection. Averted in that the first three books are a coherent trilogy (all with titles Noun of the Noun), followed by a prequel, followed by the collection which has prequel, inter, and epilogue stories, followed by two epilogue novels.
  • The Maximum Ride series was originally planned to end after Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. Many fans think that this should've happened, as it resolved everything except the Fang/Max subplot (In that version of the plot, Jeb really was the voice), and there was a significant drop in quality after that book. Angel was supposed to be the next finale to the series, then the next book Nevermore was, and then Maximum Ride Forever was released.
  • Diana Gabaldon's Outlander was originally supposed to be two books, then three, then four, then a double-trilogy. The seventh book came out in Fall 2009. The author never explicitly said to her publishers that it was supposed to be a trilogy— only that she had at least two more books after the first in her, and she ran with that. Several of the Lord John stories exhibit short story creep, since Gabaldon's idea of a short story grew into a publisher's idea of a complete novel.
  • Harry Turtledove, particularly since it was unexpected: his TL-191 series started with a one-off prequel, How Few Remain, then a trilogy called The Great War. All of which fitted the planned releases that had been "Coming Soon" in the fronts of his novels for years. Then suddenly the one round-up book that would have dealt with events later on, called The Great War: Settling Accounts, grew to seven huge books, the American Empire trilogy and then the Settling Accounts tetralogy. The vast amount of padding and repetition involved in these seven, along with what is broadly considered to be a significant decline in writing quality, has led some to accuse Turtledove of deliberately writing Doorstoppers to put his kids through college.
  • Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Trilogy became the Pit Dragon Chronicles when a fourth book was released... over two decades after the trilogy "ended."
  • The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg was originally intended as a trilogy, but the third book was split into two. It is even more noticable in the original Swedish titles, where the fourth book has an Odd Name Out (The Emigrants about leaving Sweden, The Immigrants about arriving in America and traveling to where land is handed out, The Settlers about starting up farming in a new country - and The Last Letter Home continues that story). The second book is normally called Unto a Good Land in English.
  • Scott Westerfeld dedicated "Extras" to "everyone who wrote to me to reveal the secret definition of the word 'trilogy'". Proving Tropes Are Not Bad, "Extras" is essentially a companion piece with some trilogy characters as Special Guests.
  • Chris Walley's Lamb Among the Stars trilogy is actually an aversion in that when the third book was written and found to be a Doorstopper, Walley went back and edited the first two books into a single book. The new third book ends the series in such a way that it would be incredibly difficult to continue it. This was a case of subverted Executive Meddling, since Tyndale asked him to do it. Subverted in that having three similar-sized books works much better than two small and then two large.
  • Cassandra Clare's The Shadowhunter Chronicles provide a rather outrageous example. She originally only planned to write the first three books of The Mortal Instruments, but then expanded it to six books. It's particularly blatant because the main conflicts really do tie up in book #3; a secondary villain escapes and there's some Maybe Ever After in the side pairings, but overall things are done. The last three books are a de facto Sequel Series. Since then we've added two completed trilogiesnote , two ongoing trilogies note , three anthology novels note  and a few other companion books, such as The Shadowhunter Codex. Clare also hinted at one more planned trilogy, The Wicked Powers, which will hopefully conclude the franchise. Since it started in 2007, there has been one Shadowhunter book churned out every year except 2015, when Clare instead published the ten short stories that got collected into the aforementioned Tales the following year.
  • The Icemark Chronicles was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but the author has announced he intends on writing a fourth, set before the trilogy.
  • The first three books of The Last Dragon Chronicles form a definite trilogy, with a complete story, and a very definite ending. The rest do continue it, but begin a new story arc altogether.
  • The Secret Histories series was originally planned to be a trilogy, but the series proved so popular that Simon R. Green decided to make it into an ongoing series.
  • From John Ringo:
    • His Troy Rising series was originally planned to be a trilogy, but word on the Ringo forum on Baen's Bar is that his Muse is insisting on continuing the series, much to the joy of many of his readers. The current plan is for five books total, unless Ringo's Muse insists on more.
    • As mentioned in the foreword for Strands of Sorrow, there were originally only supposed to be three main books in the Black Tide Rising series, with at least one collection of short stories written by various writers set in the Black Tide Rising universe, but Ringo's Muse wouldn't let go, and at the insistence of a wife that was getting tired of his pacing around Strands was written.
  • Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries series was planned to be a trilogy, and the first three books do make for a complete story, but Cabot kept writing books until they reached the number of ten, not counting spin-offs.
  • The "The New Prophecy" arc in Warrior Cats was conceived of as a spin-off trilogy, but turned into a six-book sequel series.
  • Mattimeo, the third book in the Redwall series, ended on a note that was clearly supposed to be a wrap-up. Trouble is, author Brian Jacques got addicted to the universe he'd been writing in and had written 22 books (plus additional material) by the time he died.
  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was originally intended to be a single, self-contained story. Then Lewis decided to write a sequel. Then he wrote a third book, and made sure to make it very "final": the characters sail over the edge of the world and find themselves in Aslan's (IE God's) country, the two protagonists remaining from the first book are told that they will not be returning to Narnia, and Aslan reveals to them his full glory. He ended up writing more books, but stopped at seven, deciding it was a good number to end on.
  • Just before Silence — the third book of the Hush, Hush trilogy — came out, the author announced that she would be writing a fourth book (Finale)too.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko originally just wrote Night Watch (Series) as a single novel. Following its success (in Russian-speaking countries), he continud with Day Watch and Twilight Watch with the co-author of Day Watch writing a spin-off featuring none of the main characters. Then followed Final Watch... and New Watch. Many fans agree that the series has long ago jumped the shark. In 2014 Lukyanenko published Sixth Watch, stating it to be "the last novel about the magician Anton", and where shark jumping became a spectator sport. Earlier the same year he turned the series into a Shared Universe, inviting younger authors and promising strict quality control over what gets published. As of 2015 fans' reaction to new collaborations is yet mixed and undecided.
  • Spike Milligan's war memoirs started with Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall and were planned as a trilogy. Eventually, there were seven books, extending out significantly beyond the actual war.
  • Averted with The Lightbringer Series. The author intended for it to be a trilogy, but purposefully named it "Series" just in case he went over. And indeed, he later started with a fourth... and a fifth.
  • Brian Lumley's Necroscope series was supposed to be a trilogy, and book three does have a fairly solid Bittersweet Ending, but then he figured it was too much of a downer and wrote two more books which ended the series on another bittersweet ending. This was expanded by another three books (Necroscope: Vampire World) providing another bittersweet ending to the series. Which was then continued in a pair of Interquel works which ended on a flat out Downer Ending just to shake things up. Finally another three books followed in which, not only was there another bittersweet ending, but also Lumley decided to Torch the Franchise and Run. Which closed out the former trilogy on book thirteen. Except for the novella, short stories, and another Interquel book he later wrote.
  • S. Andrew Swann's Moreau Series had a fourth book, Fearful Symmetries, added on five years after the original trilogy was completed.
  • Lois Lowry's The Giver (1993) had two sequels, Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004), and was fittingly referred to as "the Giver trilogy" for eight years. Eight years later, Son was released, definitively tying up loose ends and making it a quartet.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: It was a trilogy, then along came the announcement of a prequel. The page is still called "The Bartimaeus Trilogy", even after the release of the prequel. This is reasonably fair, though, as the prequel book is very much a self-contained story and only features two characters seen in the original novels: Bartimaeus himself and his long-time antagonist, Faquarl. That said, the series is now known officially for advertising/publication purposes, and on The Other Wiki, as The Bartimaeus Sequence.
  • An odd case in the case of the Green-Sky Trilogy. The first book set up the story, the second was more or less a Perspective Flip from Teera's POV, the third dealt with the fallout of the events on the first two books. But... Snyder decided to play Death by Newbery Medal on a lead character and realized she shot herself in the foot. Then, a software designer shows up, wanting to make an adaptation of her books. Cue what was perhaps the first video game to be called a canon sequel.
  • Inverted with The Lord of the Rings: when Tolkien finished it, it was in six 'books', with Tolkien wanting it published either all at once or possibly in two volumes. His publishers split it into three volumes ("trilogy" is inaccurate because it is still a single novel).
  • Early editions of The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters had "Percy Jackson & the Olympians Trilogy" written on their spines. There ended up being 5 books in the series, plus a sequel pentalogy featuring characters from the original pentalogy, plus two spinoff trilogies exploring the Egyptian and Norse mythologies, plus a second Greek sequel pentalogy starring a new protagonist. And that's not mentioning the myriad short stories, crossovers, and supplementary materials that Rick Riordan churns out every so often.
  • Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series was originally a trilogy. It was followed a few years later with two novellas, Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North, and another full novel, The Book of Dust, was expected... and ended up morphing into a trilogy of its own.
  • For the first two books, the The Lost Years of Merlin was advertised as a trilogy. With the third book, T.A. Barron claims that Merlin himself told him that two more books would be needed, turning it from a "trilogy" to a "saga". Later, two new sequel trilogies (The Great Tree Of Avalon and Merlins Dragon) were written after, plus a guidebook that basically recaps everything. Nowadays the twelve books are marketed as the Merlin Series/Saga.
  • When the first novel of the Wind and Sparks cycle was published, Alexey Pehov said that the story got too long for a single book, but he'd wrap it up in the second one. Then in the third. It ended up as four novels and two prequel short stories. The irony? It was inspired by The Wheel of Time (but less epic, a bit darker, much snarkier), with a helping of Thief and Garrett, P.I..
  • A 1979 boxed set refers to A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet as the Time Trilogy. Officially it's the Time Quartet (as of Many Waters) or the Time Quintet (including An Acceptable Time).
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was a trilogy, everything nicely wrapped up in Library of Souls. Nobody was really expecting another installment; however, A Map of Days was released in October 2018. This book is said to be the start of a new trilogy, but it takes place following the events of the third book and features the same characters on a new adventure.
  • Lucy and Stephen Hawking originally intended George's Secret Key to the Universe to be a trilogy. However, in 2014 a fourth book was published, and the series went on to be six books long. However, books 4-6 are arguably even better than the first three.
  • The original The Mysterious Benedict Society series featuring Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance could be considered a trilogy (the final book having been released in 2009), as the other two books were a prequel set well before their adventures and a supplementary book of puzzles and games and such. However, on September 24, 2019, a new title was released featuring more of the adventures of the Mysterious Benedict Society as well as a new member, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages.
  • Anthony Horowitz intended to end the Alex Rider series in 2011 with the ninth book, Scorpia Rising (barring a prequel focusing on the backstory of Yassen Gregorovich, a character from the first and fourth books), in part because he was worried he was running out of ideas. However, a few years later his publishers decided to collect a number of short stories set in the series' universe previously published in magazines, newspapers and other stories together in a new anthology, and Horowitz felt some of them were too short or sketchy to justify such a release and rewrote them to make them more substantial. The rewriting went well, and Horowitz decided to write a few new short stories for the collection as well. The first new story became one of his favourite things he'd ever written, and he realised that he missed writing for the characters so much, and that he still had plenty of ideas, and he decided to revive the series with an entirely new novel, Never Say Die (released in 2017). He expects there to be at least two more books in the series after that.
  • Victoria Aveyard originally planned for Red Queen to be a trilogy, but she eventually settled on a tetralogy, plus two short story collections.
  • The Hunger Games ended up taking this path when in 2019, Suzanne Collins announced out of nowhere that she was writing a new entry to the series. To be fair, it ended up being a prequel, so the books focusing on Katniss Everdeen remain a trilogy.
  • Steve Perry's Matador Series started as a Two-Part Trilogy in The '80s, The Man Who Never Missed, Matadora, and The Machiavelli Interface. Perry penned a prequel in 1988, then another prequel, then three sequels, and finally an Origins Episode for the series' main Fantastic Fighting Style after a thirteen-year hiatus.
  • Poor Unfortunate Soul was advertised as the last novel in a A Tale Of... trilogy when it was released, but it ended with a Sequel Hook and Mistress of All Evil arrived the following year.
  • Jennifer A. Nielsen's Ascendance Trilogy has become this, with her planning on writing at least two more books in the series.
  • Marie Lu's Legend Trilogy ended with a Distant Finale that proved conclusive but very bittersweet. Four years later, Lu wrote two novellas that somewhat addressed this, but eventually decided to write a fourth novel, Rebel, which provided the happy ending that fans longed for.
  • Brandon Sanderson managed to do this with not just a trilogy, but a trilogy of trilogies. The Mistborn series was intended to be three sets of three books each, but after the first trilogy, he decided to write a short story, The Alloy of Law set in between the first two trilogies. That short story became a full novel, and that novel became a series on its own, with three published books and a fourth book planned to come out soon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Den-O's third movie was explicitly called "Farewell Kamen Rider Den-O: The Final Countdown", and features a Passing the Torch aspect with the introduction of a new Den-O, and on a meta level it was believed to be the end of the series because star Takeru Satoh was moving on to other roles. Another three / five Den-O moviesnote  have come out since then. Possibly lampshaded in the DVD release of "Final Countdown", where a short extra cartoon has one character remark that, for all the talk of "final" and "conclusion", that doesn't stop them from making more sequels.
  • For some reason, CBS advertised the Person of Interest episodes "The Cold War," "If-Then-Else," and "Control-Alt-Delete" as a trilogy, but the next episode "MIA" is a key part of the arc.


  • Though Der Ring des Nibelungen was not originally conceived as a trilogy, it was already four plays by the time Richard Wagner began composing the music, and is not commonly thought of as a trilogy, its official heading being "a stage festival play for three days and one evening before."
  • It is believed by some scholars that William Shakespeare wrote the three Henry VI plays out of sequence: first Part II, then Part III, then finally Part I. Moreover, from a critical and performing standpoint, they are often lumped together with Richard III as an overall "Wars of the Roses" story.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 


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