It’s the nature of Hollywood to capitalize on the success of a film with a sequel that brings back the characters and world that audiences loved the first time around. While there are plenty of fantastic sequels that either respected the achievements of the original or even went on to top it, there are far more that took a nosedive. In some cases, terrible movies were follow by films that were somehow even worse. Whatever the case may be, there are countless sequels that should have never been created in the first place. Both audiences and franchises would have been better off without them.
The following 12 film sequels are entries into franchises that should have never existed, even though many do bring some laughs do to how bad they are. For the sake of keeping my sanity, these are all sequels that were released in theaters, so straight-to-video sequels are out of contention, even though most of them should be burned in a deep dark pit.
How Did It Continue the Story? Set after Aliens, Ellen Ripley finds herself jettisoned onto a prison planet with the only survivors of the previous film brutally killed at the very start. It seems as though 20th Century Fox decided bleak and brutal was the best way to keep going.
How Did It Ruin the Series? While Aliens was an action-packed explosion that opened up the world first created by Alien, Alien 3 was a bleak affair that killed any sense of fun found in the series. Instead, the series took a massively dark turn when the beloved Hicks, Newt, and Bishop were all immediately killed off in order to make protagonist Ellen Ripley suffer as much as possible. At actress Sigourney Weaver’s insistence, her hero was killed off at the end in a sacrificial molten metal bath. The series has been trying to course correct through cloning stories, prequels, and spinoffs ever since.
Blues Brothers 2000
How Did It Continue the Story? Coming out in 1998 (?), Blues Brothers 2000 brings back one Blues Brother 18 years after the 1980 original. Since star John Belushi had died in the time since, they decided to kill him off in the film and replace him with no one worthwhile.
How Did It Ruin the Series? Blues Brothers was a single comedy musical spun off from a Saturday Night Live skit for nearly two decades. Blues Brothers 2000 turned it into a franchise built on a cash grab made long after Belushi’s death. No one was interested in seeing this film and the overall bad quality of the entire production meant even fewer people were interested in seeing a belated follow-up that no one asked for. Simply put, Blues Brothers 2000 was a cash grab that only tarnished the name of a cult classic without actually making any money.
Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
How Did It Continue the Story? Released 10 years after the original, writer/director Troy Duffy continued the story of the vigilante McMannus brothers, who have been in hiding doing nothing for a decade. But they get pulled back into the action when they’re framed for murder.
How Did It Ruin the Series? Given the troubled production of Duffy’s original, it’s nearly a miracle the first film was ever finished. This long-delayed sequel adds nothing new to the story and never comes close to capturing the spirit of the cult classic original that made it a fan favorite in the first place. Instead, it just apes what the first did and tries to create a complicated mythology that falls completely flat. Given the cliffhanger ending of this sequel, it’s clear that there are intentions for a third. But with its poor box office and terrible quality, it’s more likely that it just permanently put characters in a place that no one wanted them to be.
How Did It Continue the Story? The 1988 follow-up to 1980’s comedy classic, Caddyshack II is basically just more hijinks at the same golf club, but with an almost entirely different cast, save for the briefly returning Chevy Chase. All to say, the trend of bad comedy sequels continued.
How Did It Ruin the Series? Was there truly any need for a follow-up to Caddyshack? Sure, the first was a hit at the time and is still loved by many, but most comedies don’t call for franchising. Given that nearly everyone from the original did not return for the sequel means that very few thought there was a reason to keep the story going. Nothing is added by going back, there are no well-loved jokes known by everyone, and it’s clear that the film’s name is the selling point rather than the content. Caddyshack II is a quintessential example of Hollywood’s money-focused mentality when it comes to franchising films.
How Did It Continue the Story? Remember how at the end of Ghostbusters the ragtag team came together to save New York from supernatural destruction? Set years later, Ghostbusters II sees them all disbanded and miserable, but forced to come together to face a new threat, which turns out to be some painting of a creepy dude and a bunch of pink slime. Not the McDonald’s kind.
How Did It Ruin the Series? The original Ghostbusters is a classic that still holds up today. In fact, the idea of a sequel isn’t a bad idea given the world that was set up by the first film. But this is simply not how you keep a series going. It’s obvious that the magic could not be recaptured and even if Ghostbusters II isn’t an outright terrible movie, there’s simply no reason to watch the second when you can simply rewatch the first. Given how the film shows us that everyone was worse off after the first film, it even sours the end of the original. It’s clear why Ghostbusters III was impossible to get off the ground that a reboot was the only possible way to get the film going again.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
How Did It Continue the Story? Marking the vast gap between sequels with a sizeable leap in time, KoCS sees a much older Indiana Jones finding out he has a son, getting married, fighting Russians, discovering alien life, and generally not being nearly as fun as he used to be.
How Did It Ruin the Series? In the years after Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, numerous ideas and scripts were created for another entry into the series, but for whatever reason, none of them convinced Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford to bring the character back. For whatever reason, 19 years later seemed like the perfect time to have Indy return. But this is post-Star Wars prequels and a far older Harrison Ford who lacks the energy of his earlier years. Through in a bewildering decisions to stuff the film full of strange looking CGI and give the hero a son played by Shia LaBeuf and the inclusion of aliens isn’t close to being the worst thing about this film. Bringing a beloved and long-dormant character back to the screen for a film like this is a disservice to Indy and his fans alike. Any sequel talk has been slowly replaced with reboot ideas in the time since.
Every Jaws Sequel
How Did It Continue the Story? The blockbuster film that somehow became a franchise saw Brody fight another killer shark, his sons fight one in an aquatic park, and his wife battle another that had revenge on its mind. All to say, they became worse and worse until they couldn’t sink lower.
How Did It Ruin the Series? Spielberg’s original Jaws is a bonafide classic that carved a massive place in film history. The sequels? They range from poor retreads to some of the worst films ever made. While Jaws 2 may not be horrific, it’s absolutely unnecessary. Jaws 3D is bewildering in its creation and poor quality. But Jaws: The Revenge is so terrible that it’s the type of movie that would be thought of as a throwaway background joke in a comedy. But it isn’t a joke, it’s all too real. In a way, it’s almost beautiful in how terrible every single aspect of it is from start to finish. Each one ruined the series in its own way, yet somehow the original remains untarnished.
Speed 2: Cruise Control
How Did It Continue the Story? Somehow turning what is essentially Die Hard on a Bus into a franchise saw star Keanu Reeves ditch the sequel and replace him with actor Jason Patric as a completely different character, who is on a cruise ship with the returning Sandra Bullock. This time, she has to stop a mad Willem Dafoe from running the ship aground.
How Did It Ruin the Series? The real question is how did anyone think this could be a series? Given the incredibly specific nature of the first film’s plot, it’s strange that someone decided to create a sequel, even with Speed’s major success. When Keanu Reeves decided to not come back, it’s even more baffling how someone thought Sandra Bullock’s character and the subtitle Cruise Control could lure audiences into theaters. And the idea of an out of control cruise ship that can’t be stopped? Speed 2 may have crossed the border between supreme stupidity and sheer genius somewhere along the way. But it still resulted in one thoroughly terrible movie.
The Hobbit Trilogy
How Did It Continue the Story? As a prequel to the blockbuster Lord of the Rings franchise, The Hobbit adapts author J.R.R. Tolkein’s first Middle Earth novel and turns it into a three-part overlong and bloated fantasy epic meant to explore young Bilbo Baggin’s journey with a band of dwarves who seek to return to their home and kill the dragon Smaug.
How Did It Ruin the Series? If LOTR is an example of how great a massive Hollywood blockbuster can truly be when done with care and quality, then The Hobbit is an example of what money does to art. Who needed a small and simple children’s story like The Hobbit to be turned into an excessive three-part saga filled with bad jokes, poor CGI, love triangles, and bloody violence? What could have been a fun return to Middle Earth became the mound of excess that buried a truly great story. Given that The Hobbit burned everyone out on Tolkein’s world, including the author’s estate, don’t expect more return trips any time soon.
How Did It Continue the Story? Six years after the events of Saturday Night Fever disco king Tony Manero is trying to break into modern dance on Broadway. Not that this is in any way really connected to the original film. All sorts of weird Frank Stallone songs, spandex, and general jackassery follow in one of John Travolta’s many career missteps.
How Did It Ruin the Series? While 1977’s Saturday Night Fever became a huge hit thanks to its disco soundtrack and rising star in the form of John Travolta, nothing about the film screams for a return to the world of dancing in New York. In fact, Staying Alive (directed by Sylvester Stallone???) doesn’t really have anything to do with the original at all except for the name of Travolta’s character. There is no real continuation of his journey, very few connections to the first film, and a completely different tone. Also, Staying Alive is so shockingly terribly that you’ll start to enjoy yourself once you get used to just how bad it is. Of course, that doesn’t mean it should exist or that anything else should come from this series.
The Godfather: Part III
How Did It Continue the Story? Years after The Godfather Part II, both in story and in real life, Francis Ford Coppola returned to the saga of Michael Corleone and his mafia family. Now an older man, the worn out Michael looks to put an end to the cycle of violence, but only suffers further tragedy. Much like the audiences who were subjected to this film.
How Did It Ruin the Series? It’s clear that The Godfather Part I and Part II were constructed as two halves of a larger whole, although the original easily stands on its own. Part III is the result of Paramount Pictures wanting Coppola to return to the series that was beloved by critics and audiences alike. Given its tacked-on nature and addition to the franchise 16 years after Part II, it’s clear that this follow-up is not truly part of what was envisioned at the start. Throw in the fact that Part III is not even close to the caliber of the first two, some truly bad acting, and a generally botched close of Michael’s story and most viewers will have a bad taste in their mouths should they choose to watch the entire Godfather Trilogy instead of just Parts I and II.
Son of Kong
How Did It Continue the Story? Released only nine months after the classic King Kong, Son of Kong sees filmmaker Carl Denham trying to escape his lawsuits caused by the giant ape’s rampage. Returning to Skull Island, Denham and his fellow adventurers befriend a large albino gorilla, who they name Little Kong. The ape isn’t actually Kong’s son and eventually dies.
How Did It Ruin the Series? When King Kong raked in the big bucks at the box office, RKO Pictures rushed a sequel into production immediately. In fact, so little time was spent in preparation that miniatures from the first were reused for Little Kong. However, both critical reception and box office paled in comparison to the original, squashing any hopes of capitalizing on the burgeoning franchise. Years later, the Dino DeLaurentiis remake of King Kong would follow up its generally good reception with the horrific Kong Lives. And let’s not forget the bloated and boring Peter Jackson remake of 2005. Given the massive success of King Kong, Son of Kong is also the first major movie sequel ever created. So you could say it’s responsible for all of the terrible sequels discussed here.