In today's film industry, where a story's marketability is king, some movie franchises seem to embrace the motto “more is better” when it comes to sequels. From enduring classics to modern blockbusters, these 24 films have left us wondering if there's such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”
1. The Amityville Horror (1979)
The original haunted house tale spawned numerous sequels that ventured into different horror subgenres, making it difficult to keep track of the franchise's identity. 1979's The Amityville Horror, based on a true story, sent shivers down spines as it explored the eerie and malevolent forces at play in a haunted Long Island house.
However, as the number of sequels increased, some fans felt that the franchise lost the subtlety and psychological terror of the first film, instead relying on more overt and supernatural elements. Amityville Horror is the biggest offender on this list, with more than twenty films spanning the franchise.
2. Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone, released in 1990, is a heartwarming yet uproarious holiday classic that has captured the imaginations of audiences for generations. The first two films delivered holiday hijinks, but the franchise continued with new characters and diminishing returns, leaving fans longing for the innocence of Kevin McCallister's original adventures. The jury is in: the verdict reads that there is no Home Alone without Macaulay Culkin.
3. The Terminator (1984)
James Cameron's 1984 sci-fi thriller, The Terminator, introduced audiences to the relentless killing machine known as the Terminator, portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film's gripping blend of action, suspense, and time-travel elements left an indelible mark on the genre. The franchise's complex time-traveling narratives have led to numerous sequels and alternate timelines, leaving audiences wondering if they'll ever reach the end of the machine war.
4. Highlander (1986)
The 1986 film Highlander introduced us to Connor MacLeod, an immortal swordsman, and his quest for survival. The movie's mix of historical settings, epic sword fights, and the enigmatic Kurgan made it a cult classic. “There can be only one,” they said, but there were multiple sequels and even a TV series, diluting the unique concept of immortals battling throughout history.
5. Ice Age (2002)
Ice Age made a chilly but heartwarming debut in 2002, bringing to life a delightful group of prehistoric creatures. The franchise's initial charm lay in its tale of friendship and survival amidst a frozen world. However, as the series continued, it seemed to venture into uncharted territory with an ever-increasing number of sequels. While each new installment introduced new adventures and characters, some fans felt that the franchise had stretched the concept too thin, with six films in total.
6. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
A franchise that started with street racing quickly shifted gears into heists, espionage, and global adventures. With twelve movies in the cinematic universe, an animated series, some short films, and seemingly no end in sight, it's become a high-octane juggernaut that's gotten way ahead of itself.
7. The Mask (1994)
Released in 1994, The Mask catapulted Jim Carrey to superstardom with his portrayal of Stanley Ipkiss, a timid man who transforms into the charismatic and zany “Mask” when he dons a magical artifact. The film's blend of physical comedy, cartoonish antics, and special effects made it a hit, appealing to audiences of all ages.
While the franchise attempted to capture the original's magic with an animated series and a standalone sequel, Jim Carrey's iconic performance remains the heart of its enduring appeal. The problem with the follow-up film Son of the Mask is it removed the soul of the film — Jim Carrey, instead replacing him with Jamie Kennedy. The movie has a 2.2 rating on IMDb and was so bad it arguably ruined Kennedy's career.
8. Jurassic Park (1993)
Dinosaurs are captivating, but after five movies, the once groundbreaking franchise faced the challenge of keeping the thrill alive while not becoming extinct itself. Most fans of Jurassic Park agree that The Lost World was a worthy sequel that holds its own in the franchise, and some even believe revisiting the story with a fresh take in the form of Jurassic World was a fun, nostalgic trip.
However, there's no denying that the endless onslaught of Jurassic World films we're being punished with year after year has reached irredeemability, and it's transparently a cash grab to bank on people's nostalgia and inability to let go.
9. The Crow (1994)
What began as a haunting and unique cinematic experience with The Crow in 1994 gradually lost its dark magic as the franchise expanded with multiple sequels. Each subsequent installment struggled to capture the raw intensity and melancholic beauty of the original, diluting the essence of the original's tragic narrative. While The Crow remains a cult classic, the franchise's decline serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of overextending a captivating and emotionally charged story through too many sequels.
10. Halloween (1978)
Michael Myers' relentless pursuit of his sister has resulted in multiple timelines and reboots, leaving fans divided over which sequels deserve a place in the horror canon. As the franchise expanded, it ventured into complex narratives and alternative timelines with sequels, reboots, and reimaginings.
Some entries sought to delve deeper into Michael Myers's enigmatic character, while others explored Laurie Strode's enduring trauma. The series also introduced fresh faces and creative directions, but it often faced the challenge of living up to the legacy of the original.
By the time Michael Myers is finally defeated, it takes 13 films to get there. This interfered with the suspension of disbelief over the previous films, where it was clear Myers was going to be continually resurrected.
11. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
What began as a swashbuckling adventure turned into a seemingly endless treasure hunt. With five films and counting, Captain Jack Sparrow's escapades have sailed far beyond the horizon, and without Johnny Depp onboard any longer, this ship is in desperate need of sinking.
12. Toy Story (1995)
While each installment is beloved, the franchise's longevity and emotional complexity have raised questions about whether it's time to let these toys retire from the big screen. There have been five films if you include the spin-off prequel Lightyear, and Pixar has announced they are working on another sequel, which will be Toy Story 5. I think the film executives may have taken the notion that you're never too old to play with your old toys a little too seriously. It's okay to walk away and move on, I promise.
13. Pitch Perfect (2012)
The Pitch Perfect series hit all the right notes with its 2012 debut, offering a hilarious and tuneful take on competitive acapella singing. Anna Kendrick's Beca and her acapella group, the Barden Bellas, delivered catchy performances and witty humor. The franchise's success led to two sequels, with the Bellas navigating new challenges and harmonizing their way through college life.
While the series maintained its musical charm, some fans felt that the later films struggled to capture the magic of the original, leaving them yearning for the simplicity of their aca-origins. The second one had much of the same spirit as the first, but we did not need a third. With such a simple premise, stretching it out over three films is going to get tiresome and repetitive.
14. Thor (2011)
The God of Thunder's solo adventures expanded into a trilogy, but the character also appeared in multiple other Marvel films, leaving fans wondering if Thor had too much hammer time. While most Thor fans thoroughly enjoyed Thor 3, it's number 4 that went too far, getting unanimously panned by audiences and critics.
15. Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars is a beloved space opera, but the sheer volume of films, spin-offs, and anthologies has left even die-hard fans debating which ones truly belong in the canon. George Lucas's 1977 space epic, Star Wars, spawned an iconic franchise that has spanned decades. Beginning with the original trilogy, it revolutionized filmmaking with its timeless themes. Expanding into prequels, sequels, and spin-offs, the franchise has sparked ongoing debates about character treatment and storyline expansion, making it a continually evolving cultural touchstone.
16. John Wick (2014)
While beloved for its stylish action, the franchise's future sequels faced the challenge of maintaining the high standards set by the original. While the John Wick franchise isn't the biggest offender in drawing out a premise with just four films (as opposed to some audacious offenders like the F&F franchise), there's no denying that all four films are the same. If you've watched the first movie, you've seen all of them. While the franchise pulls it off well, and plenty of fans are happy with all four films, some of us left the final film feeling exhausted.
17. Transformers (2007)
Giant robots in disguise initially thrilled audiences but soon rolled out into a full-scale war. The Transformers saga has spawned multiple sequels and spin-offs, leaving fans with more Autobots and Decepticons than they can keep track of. While the first two films had their charm thanks to the chemistry between the two title characters, all the soul left this franchise long ago, leaving us with constantly evolving casts we have little investment in. Transformers is now all spectacle with zero heart.
18. The Land Before Time (1988)
This beloved animated series about young dinosaurs is heartwarming, but the numerous direct-to-video sequels may have stretched the franchise's charm a bit too thin. The first film was a masterpiece, but its uplifting legacy has unfortunately been tainted by the 13 direct-to-video sequels and an animated series that was canceled after just one season.
19. Hellraiser (1987)
Clive Barker's Hellraiser initially captivated audiences with its dark and sadistic horror, introducing the enigmatic Cenobites and their infamous puzzle box. While some sequels maintained the eerie atmosphere and philosophical themes, others veered into more conventional horror. Exploring the Cenobites' origins and puzzle box history added complexity.
Still, the franchise's increasing number of sequels and varying quality left fans divided, with some longing for the original film's simplicity and originality. The journey from intimate terror to a sprawling universe of pleasure and pain remains debated among horror enthusiasts.
20. The Expendables (2010)
Action icons like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Statham team up in this franchise, but the ensemble cast grew with each installment, making it difficult to keep up with the ever-expanding list of mercenaries. The upcoming fourth installment adds Megan Fox to the roster of recognizable Hollywood names. With each new film, it feels like they're trying to fill the void of a storyline with the bankability of certain celebrities.
21. Jaws (1975)
The shark that terrified us in the original film returned in several sequels, each with diminishing returns and increasingly ludicrous plots. As the franchise evolved, it introduced viewers to more shark-related horrors, including a massive great white stalking the Bahamas and a genetically engineered super-shark. However, none could quite recapture the primal fear and suspense of the original.
22. First Blood (1982)
The original Rambo film was a gritty character study, but the sequels transformed John Rambo into a one-man army, stretching the franchise's original premise. The movie's blend of intense action, gripping storytelling, and Stallone's compelling performance resonated deeply with audiences.
It tackled themes of post-war trauma and the treatment of veterans, striking a chord during a time of heightened awareness of these issues. Most fans feel the later films didn't quite capture the poignant depth of the original, leaving First Blood as a standout classic in the series.
23. Friday the 13th (1980)
The iconic hockey mask-wearing killer, Jason Voorhees, first stalked the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake in the 1980 slasher classic. While the original film and its immediate sequels maintained the suspense and terror that defined the franchise, the subsequent movies took increasingly fantastical turns.
Jason faced off against telekinetic teenagers, dueled Freddy Krueger in a crossover event, and even found himself in outer space. The sheer number of sequels and the escalating scale of Jason's carnage left fans fascinated and bewildered, sparking debates about the franchise's evolution from a simple campfire horror tale to a sprawling saga of supernatural horror.
24. Police Academy (1984)
Police Academy began with a successful comedic premise about misfit recruits training to become police officers. However, as it progressed through numerous sequels, it relied increasingly on formulaic humor, repetitive gags, and an ever-expanding cast of characters. This approach led to a decline in quality and creativity, ultimately diluting the charm of the original film and serving as a cautionary example of the pitfalls of producing too many sequels — seven films and two TV series, to be exact.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.