Follow TV Tropes


Trilogy Creep

Go To

"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. This is mainly found in books, but has also happened frequently with movies, and can occur with any other type of media as well.

Science Fiction 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 and Sequelitis. Capcom Sequel Stagnation is a related trope for Video Games.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Originally, the Rebuild of Evangelion series was to be two individual features followed by two shorts packaged together as a third "film". After the resounding success of 2.0, however, plans apparently changed and 3.0 and 3.0+1.0 were both expanded and made into feature-length movies themselves.

    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 consisting 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 

    Films — Animation 

    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 prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant).
  • 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. A fifth movie would then happen, but with only Harrison Ford left.
  • 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 New Jersey Trilogy. There are eight films released as of 2023.
  • 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 which is more connected to the original trilogy than its predecessor.
  • 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 (getting finished in 2019), 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 Saw franchise is easily one of the largest examples of this trope. To put it through: Saw was originally intended to be a standalone film. Because of its astounding success, the creators decided to make two sequels in order to finish with a trilogy. Due to Executive Meddling after the larger success of those movies, 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 movies, but due to further meddling they had to condense the last two into Saw 3D, which would have originally ended the franchise in 2010. However, it was revived in 2017 with Jigsaw, with a ninth entry, Spiral, being later released in 2021.
    • According to Darren Lynn Bousman, the director of Saw II, III, IV and Spiral, there are currently five more movies in development, which include two direct follow-ups to 3D (with the Working Titles Saw IX and X), a direct sequel to Jigsaw, and two sequels to Spiral, which is also set to get its own TV series.
  • 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) 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 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 the first in a trilogy, then bumped to five films right before it released. Rowling says the trilogy announcement was a placeholder while she was still working on the series’s outline and before she’d nailed down the firm number. Ultimately subverted, the poor performance of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore led to the franchise being shelved.
  • 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: 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 Resurrections:
    • The Matrix Revolutions concluded the Matrix trilogy... then a fourth film, the rather aptly titled Resurrections, was ordered over 15 years later.
    • Resurrections is also metafictional, and features Neo as a game developer whose "beloved parent company Warner Bros." is forcing him to make a sequel to his successful trilogy.
  • The 2010s Planet of the Apes trilogy (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes) saw a fourth film that should have initially been a Continuity Reboot, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.
  • The Transformers Film Series met a fitting conclusion with the third film: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, with all Decepticons dead and the Autobots accepting Earth as their new home. But it made so much money they ended up making Age of Extinction and The Last Knight.
  • The third All Night Long film had the subtitles The Final Chapter and The End. It was followed by All Night Long R, All Night Long O and All Night Long 6.

    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 
  • The Animator vs. Animation series was originally supposed to end with Animator vs. Animation III, which ended with the Animator's computer being destroyed, taking the stick figures down with it. Two years later, the fourth installment was announced, and a year after that, Animator vs. Animation IV was released, and since then the series remains alive with new installments coming out.
  • Fallen Kingdom: Or rather, Tetralogy Creep. "Dragonhearted" was released in November 2016, and everyone thought it was the end of the story... until "Rising Kingdom", a prequel, was released in December 2022. Lampshaded in the latter video's description:
    After 6 years, we revisit the not yet Fallen Kingdom.
  • The Lazer Collection was originally only going to be three parts long, but when requests for a fourth part were continuously made, the author eventually made it, but it's a case of Stylistic Suck with a subtext of "Now Shut Up." There's also a Part Five.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied and exaggerated in the first act of the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Skip". Lilo and Stitch want to go watch Wasp Mummies III. After they skip ten years in the future so Lilo would be old enough to watch the film, they find that the Kokaua Town Cinema (or now Cinemas) is now showing the ninth Wasp Mummies film, Wasp Mummies IX: Return of Another Final Chapter – Part 2.
    Lilo: I guess we missed a few sequels.