The Fate of the Furious being a seventh sequel shows that it’s not the biggest of deals anymore for movie franchises to rack up the installment count. In fact, the current trend in Hollywood seems to be all about longstanding franchises adding to their impressive tallies– the fifth Transformers movie hits this year, a sixth Mission: Impossible is in the pipeline, and Star Wars is poised to surpass ten installments in the near future. Even several of the individual Avengers’ series are trilogies already.
Those are just the ones we all know about. For every big-name franchise with a number of installments that anyone can easily count, there are countless others that you’ve never heard of with sequel counts in the double digits, or ones you have heard of but might not realize have been quite so prolific. Horror movies are good for having high sequel counts in addition to body counts, and kids’ movies are also notorious for cranking out follow-ups. You’ll find examples of both of those genres on this list, along with some others that aren’t normally known for being sequel factories.
Here are 15 Movie Franchises You Didn’t Know Had So Many Sequels.
15. Revenge of the Nerds – 4 installments
Despite the fact the first Revenge of the Nerds movie is morally problematic and socially irresponsible in retrospect, it’s nonetheless generally considered one of the great wild comedies of the ’80s. Sequel Nerds in Paradise traded in the raunchiness and gratuitous nudity– and also, the sexual assault– for a PG-13 rating, and still did perfectly fine at the box office. That tends to be where most people’s Nerds knowledge ends.
However, Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong both returned as Lewis and Booger, respectively, for two further sequels. First was The Next Generation, which despite the title was still primarily about a grown-up Lewis and his struggles to reconnect with his true nerd self. That was followed by Nerds in Love, focusing on Booger getting married and featuring both 3D segments and parts where viewers were instructed to physically scratch cards and sniff them in accordance to things happening on the screen.
14. Psycho – 4 installments
Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho is considered one of the great horror thrillers of all time, and one of the rare 50+ year old horror movies that completely holds up today. That latter fact is precisely what made Gus Van Sant’s “shot-for-shot” 1998 remake completely unnecessary. Even not counting that or the strange comedic 1987 spin-off Bates Motel (not to be confused with the recent TV series of the same name), there were actually three canonical sequels to Psycho. And astoundingly, all four starred original Norman Bates performer Anthony Perkins, playing the role over a remarkable thirty-year span.
What’s even more surprising than three Perkins-starring Psycho sequels existing in the first place is that they aren’t all terrible. Okay, Psycho IV: The Beginning kind of is, but the second and third installments did an admirable job of both recapturing the feel of the original while also bringing the franchise up to more current (for the ’80s) slasher film standards. There are numerous essays online from horror fans calling for the two middle films to be reexamined and get the respect they deserve. Psycho III in particular, which Perkins himself directed, has a strong fan base and is considered the one that got the closest to the spirit and quality of the original.
13. Home Alone – 5 installments
When a movie grosses nearly $500 million worldwide– especially on a budget of less than $20 million– you can pretty much guarantee a sequel is in the cards. So it went for Home Alone and its also ridiculously profitable sequel, both of which are now counted among the movies that people love to re-watch every year for Christmas.
Even after Macaulay Culkin aged out of the role, John Hughes wasn’t done writing stories about kids who have to fend off adult burglars using slapstick violence. He penned and produced Home Alone 3 five years later (featuring an early appearance by a then-13-year old Scarlett Johansson). Despite the third movie featuring a different character from the previous two movies, the lesser-known Home Alone 4 strangely decided to name their new lead kid after Culkin’s character from the first two movies, Kevin McCallister. This is made even weirder still by the fifth movie changing up the lead character yet again.
12. Tremors – 6 installments
Although Kevin Bacon considers his role in the first Tremors to be one of the lowest points of his career, the movie was well-received for its mix of horror and tongue-in-cheek humor. There is such a strong following for the series, in fact, that four more sequels have been made in the ensuing 27 years, with a fifth on the way. There was also a short-lived Tremors TV series that took place between the fourth and fifth films canonically– yep, the Tremors franchise even has a consistent universe.
Not everyone involved in the first movie was embarrassed by it; star Michael Gross had been in every single installment until the upcoming Tremors 6. In fact, following Bacon’s departure, the Family Ties dad had eventually moved into the title role and cover star of the series, and had join the elite ranks of Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone as actors still doing action movies into their 60s. Way to go, Mr. Keaton!
11. Police Academy – 7 installments
Another franchise that began with a hard-R comedy but turned into more family-friendly fare for additional installments, the Police Academy series was an annual franchise from 1984 to 1989, after which it took five years off to release the seventh and final installment. The franchise was a star-making vehicle for several actors– most notably Steve Guttenberg and Bobcat Goldthwait– and also featured future stars like Sharon Stone, Ron Perlman, and Claire Forlani in minor roles. When Guttenberg left after the third movie, the series became much more of an ensemble piece rather than having any one primary protagonist.
While each subsequent entry saw diminishing box office returns, the franchise remained a solid draw for much of its run, with even the fifth installment still debuting at #1 at the box office. It saw a steep decline after that, but the series as a whole has grossed a respectable $500+ million adjusted for inflation. Talk of a reboot pipes up every few years with various actors old and new attached, but nothing ever seems to pan out.
10. Living Dead (George A. Romero originals) – 7 installments
The total number of Romero-inspired movies with the words “…of the Dead” or “Night of the…” in their titles creeps past thirty. There is also the complex matter of Dawn of the Dead being released as Zombi in Italy, which then spawned its own separate Zombi movie series. Then there are the three direct remakes of George A. Romero’s Living Dead movies– Night of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Zack Snyder’s career-making Dawn of the Dead. Even taking all of these out of the equation, just the mainline Romero-directed Living Dead series boasts a surprising 7 installments.
The series kicked off all the way back in 1968 with the pioneering Night of the Living Dead and has continued for six more sequels through 2009’s Survival of the Dead. That 41-year span of one director being involved in entries in the same franchise certainly has to be one of the longest stretches of time in cinema history that a single director has worked on one franchise– George Miller gets close, but there was only 36 years between the first Mad Max and Fury Road.
9. Beethoven – 8 installments
How many different hilarious situations can a huge dog get himself into? Considering that the Clifford the Big Red Dog books having been going strong for over 50 years… a lot, apparently. More specifically, how many movies can be made around the antics of a specific St. Bernard? The answer is obviously eight, as that is how many movies have been made about a St. Bernard named Beethoven.
One interesting thing about the Beethoven series is that all eight movies canonically star the same dog, rather than swapping him out for his kids or just different dogs of the same breed as most dog-based franchises tend to do. We follow Beethoven from his humble beginnings as a family’s big, bumbling dog, to becoming, and subsequently losing his job as, a movie star. Such a sordid state of affairs. Along the way, Beethoven inexplicably switches owners as he travels the world by himself. Sure, original stars Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt weren’t going to stay aboard for all eight movies, but if Beethoven was going to stay a consistent character, shouldn’t his family have also remained the same characters?
8. Bloodfist – 8 installments
It’s certainly not unusual for an American martial arts movie to spawn a baffling number of sequels– Best of the Best had three sequels, American Ninja had four, and Kickboxer hit five installments plus two more via a reboot. Bloodfist is remarkable in that its original star, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, stayed on board for the first seven installments, something that doesn’t tend to happen with these types of franchises.
Wilson clearly had an affinity for the kickboxing-based Bloodfist series; he was plenty prolific as both an actor and sport martial artist and this franchise was far from the only thing he had going on. In fact, the workaholic fighter has not only appeared in a whopping eight movies since 2014, was still competing in ranked kickboxing competitions as recently as 2002– when he was 47– and finished his competitive kickboxing career with a stunning 72 wins and only 5 losses.
7. The Pink Panther/Inspector Clouseau – 9 installments
Younger generations may only know The Pink Panther as a cartoon cat, a Steve Martin movie and sequel, and one of the strangest licensing agreements in history– Pink Panther as home insulation mascot? Huh? But The Pink Panther was originally a series of Peter Sellers movies where he starred as Inspector Clouseau, a bumbling French private investigator. Blake Edwards helmed eight Pink Panther movies: six with Sellers, one with Roger Moore, and one with Roberto Benigni as Clouseau’s son.
While a ninth film, 1968’s Inspector Clouseau, was made without Edwards and Sellers due to scheduling issues and personal conflicts between the two, it was still considered at the time to be an official Pink Panther film as it was made by the same production company. Much like Never Say Never Again, for which fans retroactively can’t seem to reach a consensus regarding its status as a “real” James Bond film, there is much inconsistency with Inspector Clouseau‘s place in the Pink Panther legacy. It was notably left out of a 2004 Pink Panther DVD set, but was then included in another collection released four years later.
6. Ernest – 9 installments
Besides Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman, few actors have so fully become a character the way Jim Varney did with his creation Ernest P. Worrell. Beginning as a pitchman for regional businesses before moving on to TV specials and movies, Varney’s Ernest character became a celebrity in his own right, making in-character public appearances and cameos in other works. While Varney had notable non-Ernest work, from playing the film version of Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies movie to voicing Slinky Dog in the first two Toy Story movies, the bulk of the actor’s career was his work as Ernest.
In addition to a short-lived TV series and a handful of specials, Varney made a remarkable nine different feature films starring Ernest beginning with 1989’s Ernest Goes to Camp. Ernest had so much cache in his early days that Disney actually distributed his first four films (via their Touchstone imprint). Even after Disney dropped the franchise following Ernest Scared Stupid, Varney and his longtime collaborator John R. Cherry III kept right on making movies and distributing them themselves. The duo put out five additional Ernest movies on their own, from Ernest Rides Again through 1998’s Ernest in the Army.
5. Ju-On – 9 installments
It’s possible that you haven’t heard of Ju-On, but you’ve mostly likely heard of The Grudge; the American remake of the third Ju-On film. The fourth Ju-On film has the subtitle of The Grudge 2, but the second and third American Grudge movies pretty much do their own thing.
The first seeds of the world of Ju-On— roughly translated in English as “Curse Grudge”– were sown in 1998 as two short films within a Japanese TV horror movie called Gakko no Kaiden G. Those shorts were expanded on in the franchise’s feature film debut Ju-On: The Curse (as its only known outside of Japan, since that title is obviously extremely repetitive in Japanese). The Ju-On films continued through a direct follow-up to the first film, six more films that were each their own two-part sub-series, and finishing up with a crossover with another Japanese horror franchise, Ring.
4. Disney Buddies – 12 installments
Okay, this is going to take some explaining, so try to follow along. First, there was Air Bud, a live-action movie about a dog that plays basketball with humans. That was followed up by four additional Air Bud movies, where Buddy the golden retriever also plays football, soccer, baseball, and volleyball. Unfortunately, the real-life Buddy passed away a year after Air Bud; he didn’t even get to see his movie turned into a full-fledged franchise. At least he also got to be the Tanners’ dog on the original Full House, though.
After the fictional Buddy worked his way through five different sports, the offspring of he and his partner Molly tackled their own adventures in Air Buddies. This continued for six additional Buddies films that took the pups on various holiday-themed adventures, an Indiana Jones-esque adventure, a ride into a space, and the inevitable conclusion of gaining superpowers in Super Buddies. This brings the entire franchise collectively known as Disney Buddies to a dozen installments– and that tally doesn’t even consider the two further Christmas-specific spin-off Santa Paws series. Woof.
3. Puppet Master – 12 installments
A mere seven Chucky movies? That’s child’s play. The much more prolific franchise about toys come to evil life is Puppet Master. The 1989 original is about puppets that are animated by an Ancient Egyptian spell (as is always the way) and go on a killing spree when they are disrespected by humans. Over the course of 11 sequels, the puppets are at various points the villains, the heroes, and somewhere in between, in a canonical story that begins in the early 20th century and continues to present day.
Along the way, the puppets interact with Nazis, see taxidermist-stuffed dogs come back to life, and cross over with David S. Goyer’s similar Demonic Toys franchise. Not surprisingly, the Puppet Master franchise is better-liked by viewers than critics, as evidenced by Puppet Master 4‘s 0% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and its 66% user score. Of course, they wouldn’t have made 12 installments of a franchise nobody liked, and critics tend not to appreciate the finer points of horror movies about dolls that come to life and murder people.
2. The Land Before Time – 14 installments
It’s easy to forget what a huge deal the original Land Before Time was. The 1988 animated feature was a collaboration between Don Bluth, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, with a score by James Horner. With the second collaboration between Bluth and Speilberg following An American Tail, the duo definitely had Disney against the ropes in the mid-’80s. But creative differences forced the two apart following TLBT, and both men completely left behind the promising new dinosaur franchise they started, with neither continuing to champion it or even fight to keep the rights.
That would’ve been the extinction-level event for most franchises. However, Universal snatched up TLBT and decided to make an annual series out of it, which they did from 1994 to 1998. The franchise took a year off, and was right back with parts seven through ten from 2000 to 2004. After another quick break, three more sequels hit each year between 2005 and 2007. Once a couple of years actually passed without a new TLBT movie, it looked like the workhorse franchise was finally going to retire at a baker’s dozen.
Not so fast– after a nearly decade-long hiatus, The Land Before Time came roaring back in 2016 with its 14th movie. Not bad for a franchise that was abandoned by its creators nearly 30 years ago.
1. Red Shoe Diaries – 20 installments
While this softcore erotic film franchise might seem like it isn’t worth mentioning on a list of “legitimate” series, there are a few things to consider. First off, a pre-X-Files David Duchovny starred in the first one– the same year he was also in the first Beethoven film, helping to tie Red Shoe in with the rest of this list. Secondly, the series reached far more installments than related sexploitation franchises, which tend to only get a few sequels at most. Third, the Red Shoe Diaries movies are listed on websites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes that don’t typically list straight-up dirty movies. And finally, twenty installments is damned impressive no matter what kind of series it is.
The fact that there was still an audience for feature-length, direct-to-DVD erotic movies as recently as 2006– considering what most of the world had free, high-speed access to on the internet at that point– surely speaks to the quality of the films… doesn’t it? Okay fine, maybe we’re reaching.
We’ll just close out this entry by sharing some of the more amusing Red Shoe Diaries subtitles: Luscious Lola, Temple of Flesh, Girl on a Bike, Another Woman’s Lipstick, and the (we hope) Princess Bride-inspired As She Wishes.
What other movies have a surprising number of sequels? Let us know in the comments!