Whether you see movie sequels as heartless cash grabs or as amazing opportunities to continue the story of your favorite films, there’s no doubt that Hollywood has been sequel-crazed in recent years. From the inevitable follow-up to one of the most successful films of all time (like Avengers: Age of Ultron) to the next chapter of a cult comedy that came out 13 years prior (like Zoolander 2), there’s no escaping sequels.
Unless of course Hollywood just can’t get its act together and put the pieces in the right order to make a movie follow-up happen. Such is the case with the below 10 films. One way or another, these sequels were in active development before dying an under-the-radar death at the hands of one star, director, writer, or studio executive. No matter what you think might have been, these films weren’t meant to be.
Here are 10 Insane Sequels to Popular Movies That Almost Happened.
10 Forrest Gump 2: Gump & Co.
After the enormous success of Forrest Gump, culminating in Oscars for Best Actor, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture, Paramount was high on the idea of a Gump sequel, and they started moving the train in that direction after buying the rights to Winston Groom’s sequel book, Gump & Co., for a reported seven figures. While Groom’s book was poorly received, differing wildly from the beloved character Tom Hanks made Gump into, the studio forged ahead and hired Forrest Gump screenwriter Eric Roth to pen the screenplay based on the book.
After various delays, the script was finally turned in the night before 9/11. It was a very Gump-esque coincidence, but given that the world changed the next day, Tom Hanks, Robert Zemeckis and Eric Roth all decided that the film they wanted to make was no longer relevant. While the movie was set to take place two minutes after the first film ended, Roth explained that they ultimately figured that some things should be left as they are.
9 ET II: Nocturnal Fears
Bad title aside, E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, was being planned even before the first E.T. film went on to become a mind-blowing hit, grossing $792 million worldwide and becoming a cultural touchstone for anyone with a soul. The story goes that Universal knew they had something amazing with E.T., so they hired screenwriter Melissa Mathison to pen a sequel. Days before the original movie’s release, Mathison submitted a 9-page outline (which you can read HERE) that would’ve followed Elliot out of school for the summer and tried to deal with the loss of his Reece’s Pieces loving friend.
While everything that’s held up over time about E.T. is due to Spielberg’s spellbinding, family-friendly touch, Nocturnal Fears looked to throw all that away in exchange for some evil aliens and a plot where Elliot and his friends get kidnapped. Not that we’re saying the original E.T. didn’t have its fair share of dark moments – remember when Elliot basically watched E.T. die? – but Nocturnal Fears just doesn’t seem to stack up to the film we all know and love, so this is one example of a sequel that rightfully never saw the light of day.
8 Mrs. Doubtfire 2
Perhaps more so than any film on this list, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 had everything worked out and was ready to shoot – a number of times – but it was never meant to be. In the works since the early 2000s, a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel was the fuel of many an internet rumor for years, but anytime star Robin Williams was interviewed about it he revealed that he and director Chris Columbus could never agree on a concept.
Eventually, around 2013, the duo finally found a concept worth reviving Euphegenia Doubtfire for and plans were set in motion. Of course, those plans were immediately scrapped after Williams’ tragic 2014 suicide, and everyone involved in the film has since made very clear that there will never, ever be a Mrs. Doubtfire 2 without Williams.
7 Elf 2
Although Will Ferrell seems to be the king of sequels that take more than a decade to make – after Anchorman 2 and Zoolander 2 – the one sequel he’ll never do is Elf 2. Though the studio was keen on a follow-up to the hit Christmas film directed by Jon Favreau, the movie stalled right out of the starting gate when Ferrell turned down what was reported to be a large chunk of money to reprise his role as Buddy the Elf.
Will Ferrell has gone on record saying that “it would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back in the elf tights.” Ferrell then joked that a sequel would need to be about “Buddy the middle-aged elf.” But maybe that’s not such a bad idea. We’d certainly watch it.
6 Breakfast Club 2
The Breakfast Club was a once-in-a-generation film that remains an important part of film history to this day. But writer and director John Hughes’ original plan was to make The Breakfast Club a film not just for one generation, but for every generation. Reportedly, original plans of Hughes were that he wanted to make a follow-up every 10 years, although it’s not clear if those films would’ve followed the same group, or an entirely new one.
As those plans eventually faded away, a more traditional sequel to The Breakfast Club was planned, with Emilio Estevez having signed on to appear in the sequel back in 2005. Estevez explained that Hughes’s idea for the sequel was that the Breakfast Club are now mature aged students at college, all doing time again, and that each character would be the opposite from how they were in high school. Sadly, these plans also stalled, and the last hopes of a true Breakfast Club sequel were dashed after Hughes’ death in 2009.
5 Se7en 2: Ei8ht
Does anyone else strongly suspect that a proposed sequel to Se7en, to be titled Ei8ht, was only suggested because someone squinted at the letter “g” in “eight” and thought it looked like the number “8?” Because that’s the only way we can explain the executives at New Line Cinema developing a sequel that features Morgan Freeman’s characters developing psychic powers and chasing a serial killer.
While a script was written and sent to David Fincher, Fincher – the purveyor of good taste that he is – knew that it “didn’t make a lot of sense,” and later – in the most Fincher way possible – explained that he’d rather have cigarettes put out in his eye than do Ei8ht. So thankfully this one will never happen, because if that box would’ve been opened we would never be able to close again.
4 Inside Man 2
Inside Man remains one of the most underrated films of the past decade; expertly showcasing a unique twist on the heist genre mixed with stylish direction and career-high performances. That’s why it still hurts that Inside Man 2, put into development in 2006, never got further than a script.
Set to follow Clive Owen’s character after the events of the first film, Inside Man 2 would’ve featured another robbery and another matchup with Denzel Washington’s hostage negotiator. All actors, including Jodie Foster and Chiwetel Ejiofor were set to reprise their roles, but after years of stalled start-dates, the film was eventually canceled in 2011 after proper funding couldn’t be secured.
3 Back to the Future 4
Back to the Future was outstanding. Back to the Future 2 was a masterpiece. Back to the Future 3 was… a film that existed. So what would Back to the Future 4 be had it been made? Well, it would’ve been a box office smash, and that’s why Universal was big on the idea of a revival.
After approaching director and co-creator Robert Zemeckis and co-creator Bob Gale about a sequel, both gave a hard pass to furthering the story of Marty McFly. The creators insist that there will never be a Back to the Future 4 as long as they are alive; and we should probably trust them considering they both hold the rights to the characters in the films.
2 Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Another Day Off
Another John Hughes non-sequel, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Another Day Off would’ve followed Ferris in college or at his first job as he, you guessed it, took a day off. While star Matthew Broderick explained that “the same kinds of things would happen again” in the sequel, both Broderick and Hughes thankfully realized that there wasn’t an exciting enough hook to warrant a sequel.
While the lack of a Ferris sequel means we will definitely never know if the whole day off was inside Cameron’s head, we can at least breathe a sigh of relief that the idea is at rest now, and there won’t be a nostalgia-tinged attempt to revive Ferris any time soon.
1 Gladiator 2
Another film that doesn’t seem to warrant a sequel, another story about a sequel that would’ve made no logical sense. Once Ridley Scott’s Gladiator became a massive hit and swept the Academy Awards clean, Dreamworks wanted a sequel; regardless of the aliveness of the first film’s protagonist.
To get around this problem and force Gladiator 2 into existence, Dreamworks solicited pitches for the film, hearing ideas about prequels and spin-offs to the franchise. While none of those panned out, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott eventually suggested that eccentric musician Nick Cave write a sequel that shows Maximus overcoming obstacles following his death; essentially meaning, he’d be kicking ass in the afterlife. And that’s exactly the script that was written, including an ending with Maximus being reborn time and time again to fight history’s greatest battles; the Crusades, WWII, the Vietnam War, and ending with Maximus in the present-day Pentagon, sitting in the war room and deciding who to kill next.
So yeah, there’s a movie sequel for you.
Which of these movies do you wish saw the light of day? Which are you happy will never be made? Let us know in the comments!