We’ve all seen a trailer or two in our lives that we could only respond to with, “That really doesn’t need a sequel.” Sequels, prequels, needless remakes, and reboots can definitely be the apocalyptic pests that destroy the whole crop of a film franchise. Many a good movie ending has been ruined by a sequel. We all say that we’ll never see that sequel, but curiosity often kills us before the poor plot and broken continuity can. Unfortunately, in a world where sequels mean more money for filmmakers and producers, there will be much more crappy and unnecessary ones in our future.
Some of these sequels totally ruined the endings of the previous films, while others were so bad that the whole franchise was soiled. Other sequels ruined the continuity of their universe and plot, while still others went in a direction that made no sense.
Check out these 15 Great Movie Endings That Were Ruined By Sequels.
15. Police Academy / Police Academy 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8?
There aren’t many people who will defend Police Academy as the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time. But the original 1984 film was at least entertaining and a cult phenomenon. The ending was also ridiculous, pretty funny, and paired well with “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” by Jack Mack, The Heart Attack.
But what ensued after Police Academy ended was an onslaught of six (yes, six) sequels that grossed less and less after each release. Some of these sequels had their moments, but overall their plots were overkill and the same rehashed stuff we’d expect from the Police Academy franchise. The sequels are what make a lot of people moan about how terrible Police Academy was. This is unfortunate because the first film in the franchise was pretty entertaining. It was the excessive and unwanted flurry of sequels that ruined the first film, ending appropriately with one of the most sloppy and obnoxious movies ever, Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow.
14. Saw / Saw II, III, IV, V, VI, VII
Nobody would disagree that the original Saw and every sequel that followed was unapologetic torture porn. But the first Saw movie did something with gory shock horror that was interesting and unique. Instead of just watching attractive women run around in their underwear and trip and fall before a knife-wielding psychopath, Saw put us in a strange and uncomfortable psychological place. It made us ask ourselves, “Would I harm another person to save myself? Would I engage in this game?” The twist was fantastic as well.
What wasn’t fantastic was the excessive amount of sequels that came out year after year. Even after Jigsaw had died and we thought it was all over (and the story could have just ended with his death) we still had to see more boring, cynical, and uninteresting attempts to draw from the original spark. Saw V was one of the worst. Saw VI at least tried to take a different approach to the franchise, but still missed the mark. The final film’s entertainment value was at least a little bit better because the ending was so ridiculous that even hardcore fans of the series burst into laughter. The omniscient genius of Jigsaw in the original Saw had become a tired joke.
13. Shrek / Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After
Shrek was one of the first (and best) computer animated films to make it big and boost Dreamworks’ profile. It was silly, yet not too cheesy. It had entertainment value for adults and children alike.
The sequels, while a great way to pull in those dollar bills, were completely and totally unnecessary. The first two films ended really well and the (story) book should have been closed for good. Shrek was happy with his girl, friends, and life. Why push more needless scenarios and plot lines that weren’t even entertaining?
The first Shrek sequel, Shrek 2, wasn’t even that bad. It had a lot of the same comedy as the first film but also had a lot of campy adult themes that made the film seem more marketed to adults than children. Unfortunately, after Shrek the Third came out, the whole franchise did a nosedive. It made quite a bit of money (nearly $800 million to be exact) but the film was boring, cold, and was clearly a grasp for more big box office dollars. Shrek Forever After was even worse and was a poor way to end the plummeting franchise.
12. Rambo: First Blood / First Blood Part II, Rambo III, Rambo
The first Rambo film is a classic that looks into the experience of veterans of the Vietnam War after coming home with PTSD. Sylvester Stallone portrayed his tough yet vulnerable character very well. There wasn’t a ton of action-packed fight scenes and oiled-up shirtless machismo, but the film was honest and dramatic in its own way.
However, when we think of Rambo we usually think of bandana-wearing machine gun manly man action. This is because of Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, and Rambo. The sequels deviated so far away from the original that it is difficult to put them together as the same franchise. The franchise started as a dramatic look into the lives of Vietnam vets and became a series of mindless shooter films for which the word “Rambo” is associated with today.
To be honest, the sequels weren’t the worst in the world and didn’t take themselves too seriously. The final film had a few redeeming qualities, for sure. It is just kind of bizarre that a film about the destructive effects of battle would turn into a franchise that celebrated it.
11. The Matrix / The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions
When The Matrix first came out, it was huge. Super huge. And its fame was well-deserved, for sure.
The ending of the first film had the perfect amount of closure and mystery. A sequel wasn’t entirely needed, but it was expected to happen. Reloaded was packed with all the engaging action scenes of the original film and had an ending that kept us on the edge of our seats. Revolutions, however, was far from satisfactory and didn’t do the previous films justice. We all patiently waited for that final battle between Neo and Agent Smith, but what we got was a complicated, overstimulating explosive battle that left series fans pretty disappointed. The ending was overloaded with vague symbolism and was surprisingly anti-climactic for such an aggressive film.
The Matrix will always have a place in its fans’ hearts, but that final film did too much damage to the original’s reputation. It was miles away from an empowering voiceover and a hero who flew off into the sky.
10. Jaws / Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, Jaws: The Revenge
How many movies can you make about a really big pissed off shark that eats people? Four, apparently.
The original Jaws was a classic look into that ’70s brand of sometimes silly, but still somehow terrifying horror films. The concept was exciting and the film ended up being an icon of cinema. However, the inevitable sequels started to pour in with some breathing room of years in between. Jaws 2 didn’t quite capture the essence of the original– that essence being that Jaws had never really been done before in cinema. Jaws 2 was kind of ridiculous but still pretty fun, and fans of the original were satisfied. Then Jaws 3-D happened.
Jaws 3-D was part of the original ’80s nausea-inducing 3-D glasses craze. Not only did these glasses barely work, but the film itself was a vapid, purposeless sequel. That didn’t stop them from doing another movie that left a bad (shall we say, fishy?) taste in audiences’ mouths and less money in producers’ pockets. The original Jaws ended with a singular explosion that destroyed a singular beast. The films that followed just muddied the waters.
9. The Godfather, The Godfather Part II / The Godfather Part III
The first two films in this legendary Italian-American classic trilogy are considered two of the best films ever made. This alone could have convinced Francis Ford Coppola to stop, but he didn’t. And that’s how we got The Godfather Part III.
The Godfather Part III‘s legitimacy as a bad film has been the subject of arguments among critics and fans alike since its release in 1990. The reason it gets a spot on this list is because of its (and Coppola’s) sheer audacity. If you have the luck and talent to create two cinematic masterpieces that will seal your name in history as The Guy Who Made The Two Greatest Films Ever, why would you even try to make a third? Why would you risk it? The second film’s ending was perfection and art on its own, but Godfather Part III came along and defaced it with poor continuity and replaced actors.
8. Kick-Ass / Kick-Ass 2
Kick-Ass 2 had a lot of controversy brewing before it even came out. Jim Carrey talked about how he thought the film was too violent and Mark Millar, the creator of the franchise, made some pretty ignorant comments about using rape in his comics. Still, fans of the first film had high hopes for the sequel. And then many fans were let down.
The rushed and poorly edited Kick-Ass 2 featured a lot of sell-out gross humor that didn’t really match the original film. Kick-Ass had a lot of dark humor, satire, drama, and gore, while the sequel had a lot of petty humor. The second film also sexualized the hell out of Hit-Girl, reducing her to a silhouette of her previous self. It was unavoidable, as people obviously grow up and go through puberty, but Hit-Girl was reduced to a hormonal teenager and her character suffered greatly.
The first film ended with Hit-Girl and Dave realizing the folly of their reckless, vigilante ways and learning to lead normals lives. Kick-Ass 2 did away with all of that and the heroes’ lives were completely demolished as a result. Talk about dark.
7. The Descent / The Descent: Part 2
The Descent was a surprisingly engaging and exciting horror film that gained quite a fan following after its 2005 release.
The original film was a victim of poor studio recuts that sullied the film’s vastly superior original ending, which has since been (thankfully) released. Fans of The Descent can agree that the idea of a sequel is pretty lame after witnessing the awesome first film’s perfect ending. That didn’t stop the studio from grabbing at that cash and releasing The Descent: Part 2 with almost none of the original The Descent filmmakers connected to it. The direct to video sequel had stereotypical cop drama and tension, unnecessary gore, ambiance that didn’t match the first film, and convenient amnesia.
If you can avoid the sequel, do so. The original film is always going to be worth watching, but the sequel really put a damper on the first film’s legacy. But really, what can you expect from DTV sequels?
6. The Blair Witch Project / Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
The Blair Witch Project was one of the first found footage films to captivate and scare the hell out of audiences. The atmosphere of the original film put viewers into the shoes of the film crew and made for an eerie, uncomfortable good time. Knowing that most of the reactions from the actors were real only added to the appeal of The Blair Witch Project.
Of course, a sequel would be at least somewhat as good, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. If the sequel matched the found footage feel of the original, it might have had a chance. But Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was filmed like an actual movie and felt more like an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer than an uncomfortably spooky found footage gem. The twist was lame, the acting was lame, it didn’t need to happen.
5. Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II / Back to the future Part III
The Back to the Future franchise is beloved by many. However, plenty of fans were pretty mad about Back to the Future Part III, with many believing that it totally ruined the awesomeness of the first films.
The first sequel was up for debate (and still is among fans) for its flaws. But the second sequel left hardcore fans pretty disappointed. In Part II, Marty restores the normal timeline and a lightning bolt sends Doc spiraling into nothingness. We find out that he’s been transported to the Wild West and the premise for the third film is set up.
Unfortunately, the third film never made the most of this thrilling set-up. Part III has a lot of unreasonable plot holes including historical accuracy. Much of the drama in the third film could have been avoided if Doc just paid Mad Dog Tannen the 80 big ones he owed him. The plot felt cheaper than the set of the film (Vincent Canby famously criticized it as shadily as he could by saying the set “looks as if it could be the beginning of a continuing television series.”) and was a true hiccup compared to the rest of the franchise.
4. Speed / Speed 2
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock captivated audiences in 1994 with Speed. The film is loved for its precise ability to be exciting while being centered around a fairly simple plot. The action left audiences on the edge of their seats, the chemistry between the two stars felt genuine, and the ending wasn’t too self-absorbed. As a self-contained single film, it was the bomb.
However, the second film tossed the relationship between the two characters out of the window almost immediately at the sequel’s beginning. There’s no explanation, really, either. It was hard to care about a character that just kind of showed up in Speed 2 after getting invested in the romantic relationship between Bullock and Reeves’ characters. Come on, we were all rooting for them to finally get together in the first movie! It felt cheap, boring, and the film wasn’t the best even with this glaring flaw put aside.
3. The Exorcist / The Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Exorcist III: Legion, Exorcist: The Beginning
The genuine terror that was The Exorcist could have done well on its own with its appropriate ending. But what ensued was a franchise of bomb after bomb that never even touched the genuine terror and good writing of the original film. The Exorcist III: Legion had some redeeming qualities, such as its disturbing nature, but still didn’t quite get there.
Long after the original came out, a prequel was made, called Exorcist: The Beginning. The film was a total disaster and focused on everything but the most beloved elements of the original film. Not only was it boring, nonsensical, and all-around ridiculous, but it desperately tried to incorporate a psychological element of mystery into the film that would make audiences wonder who was really possessed. Only nobody got invested enough in the slow plot to care.
Let’s hope The Exorcist television show doesn’t do more damage to The Exorcist franchise than these cruddy additions did. Ironically, the very human soul of The Exorcist, as evidenced by its heroic and tender ending, was the thing that these sequels all lacked.
2. Taken / Taken 2, Taken 3
The original Taken may not have been the most beloved movie by critics, but it was a decent enough action-packed thriller that kept audiences engaged. Not only was it an intense action film, but it was also an interesting portrayal of fatherhood. Who would have thought that Liam Neeson’s character Bryan could get into more family-related Taken trouble multiple times? Sounds like bad parenting.
The ending of the first film had enough closure to break our hearts a little bit and could have been left alone. Taken 2 was a sloppy and lazy sequel that was dumber than the first film and less enticing. Much of the character development in the sequel required flashbacks to the first film to work, and it didn’t work well. Taken 3 was an even bigger disappointment. While the third film did have some well-orchestrated chases and fight scenes, it felt like all of the actors were even more bored than we were.
1. Robocop / Robocop 2, Robocop 3
The good old ’80s cyberpunk action thriller Robocop still has entertainment value today. It’s rare to find a film that is both campy and intelligently critical of capitalism, gentrification, and human nature.
Robocop‘s sequels, however, were pretty disappointing. Robocop 2 relied on a redundancy that wasn’t entirely awful, but the blood lust and in-your-face tech scenes were desensitizing and exhausting to watch from beginning to end. It was confusing and almost felt unfinished. Just as well, Robocop had a sense of optimism about the future that made it charming, while Robocop 2 felt like a French nihilist film. Robocop 3 was even worse with its desperate attempts to be acceptable for PG-13 audiences and the exhausting, slow plot was far from memorable.
Robocop could have been left alone as a really good action-packed thriller with imagery that is iconic to this day, but it just had to be sullied by a couple of dud sequels that burned the original. Like with The Exorcist, the Robocop sequels forgot the human element that was reinforced with Murphy’s final lines in the original film.