Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is hitting theaters this weekend, and you would think from its title that it will be the last time director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich would return to the movies increasingly loosely based on the survival-horror video games. But we’ve been around long enough to know that just calling something the last one is no guarantee.
We’re usually sorry to see a beloved franchise go — or relieved/apathetic to see one we don’t like go away. But ends don’t always stick; several film, TV, and game series have released “final chapters” that eventually proved to be anything but, thanks in no small part to profit-loving Hollywood producers and studio heads. And like the sixth Resident Evil flick, a bunch of them have even used that otherwise declarative phrase as their subtitles. But they all continued beyond their “endings,” and some of them are still going today.
Here are 15 entries that wrapped everything up for their series before their creators just broke on through and kept running.
15. The Final Destination
We don’t know if 2009’s The Final Destination was intended to be the last entry in the horror series, but its title sure makes it sound that way.
The series is about pesky and surprisingly common psychics thwarting Death’s plans to kill a group of kids, and their attempts to stay alive while the ominous force of mortality sets up chain reactions to restore the natural order. It’s like Death is playing a bloody, large-scale version of the classic board game Mouse Trap, only instead of trapping its victims under a plastic net, it embeds their heads on pipes or shoots them repeatedly with nail guns. Series heroes had already escaped exploding planes, interstate pile-ups, and roller coasters before the fourth one made many of us even less likely to go to an auto race.
The Final Destination doesn’t do anything new with the series format other than filming in 3D, and its reviews reflect that. With a 29% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it was the worst-received entry since the first (which has a 34%). But it was the highest grossing one, and money is what determines sequels. Final Destination 5 followed two years later, and not only was it nearly as successful at the box office, but it got the best reviews with an impressive (for a horror film) 61% RT rating.
14. Eastbound and Down: “Chapter 13”, “Chapter 21”
HBO’s comedy series centered around Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), a former Major League Baseball player whose ego and general unpleasantness hinder his attempts to recapture his former glory. It was supposed to end after its second season, but it turns out it was only half done by then.
The see-saw of endings and renewals sets up a weird, Sisyphean cycle for Powers. It means that every year, he had to choose between fame and family, and in order to make it satisfying, these episodes have to end with him making the right decision. But the following season premiere has to walk it back enough to stay true to the character, give him somewhere else to go, and not feel cheap. But considering it’s in the lead’s nature to self-sabotage and bring loved ones down with him, that wasn’t necessarily a tall order.
The fourth-season finale, “Chapter 29,” drew a lot of “Are you sure?” from fans when producers announced it would be the real, actual end of the movie. So far we’ve seen no sign of a fifth year, so we’ll assume it’s stuck this time. But we’re keeping our eyes on you, McBride.