Standalone Stars: 14 Movies That Should Never Have Been Part of a Franchise

john wick

Hollywood loves a good film franchise, with sequels, prequels, and spin-offs that keep a movie series bringing in the money. One film fan on a popular online forum asked, “What movie would you enjoy a lot more as a standalone film” rather than being part of a franchise. Here are the top 14 responses.

1. Die Hard (1988)

die hard 1
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Movie lovers think Die Hard is a perfect example. One film fan said that while Die Hard 3 is good and has some connections to the original, Die Hard works perfectly fine as a standalone movie. They also pointed out that all of the films except Die Hard 5 are based on unrelated books. 

2. Jaws (1975)

jaws 1
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Some movie lovers said Jaws works best as a standalone film, given its iconic status. One person noted, “Not too many franchises where you can say it has one of the best and worst films ever made.” 

3. Terminator (1984)

The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger
Image Credit: Orion Pictures.

Terminator is a classic. One fan loved the original Terminator movie so much, they said they should have left it at that. Another fan agreed, pointing out how the second film “ruined the Terminator character.”

4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

mark hamill and darth vader return of the jedi
Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

There are strong feelings when it comes to Star Wars films, with one fan noting, “Star Wars should have ended after Return of the Jedi.” Another movie fan pointed out how the “writers feel like they have to tie it to one of the main story beats or characters from the original trilogy.”

5. Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park/World
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Based on Michael Crichton's novel, Jurassic Park tells the story of a theme park filled with genetically engineered dinosaurs. After a power failure, the dinosaurs escape and wreak havoc on the island.

Fans consider Jurassic Park the best installment in the franchise because of its groundbreaking special effects, thrilling action, and iconic characters like Dr. Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm.

6. The Matrix (1999)

Image from the movie The Matrix
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The Matrix is a science fiction film that explores the concept of a simulated reality controlled by machines. The movie follows Neo, a hacker who discovers the truth about the world and joins a rebellion against the machines.

Fans believe The Matrix is the best film in the franchise due to its innovative visuals, mind-bending plot, and unforgettable action sequences. 

7. The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover
Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

The Hangover is a comedy film about friends traveling to Las Vegas for a bachelor party but waking up the next day with no memory of the previous night's events. They encounter various obstacles and zany characters as they search for the groom.

This film's fresh take on the comedy genre, hilarious performances, and quotable one-liners made it an iconic film franchise, but the movies became progressively worse and less original.

8. Taken (2008)

Taken Movie
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Taken is an action-thriller film about a retired CIA agent who uses his skills to rescue his daughter after she is kidnapped by human traffickers. Fans believe Taken is the best movie in the franchise due to its intense action sequences, gripping storyline, and iconic performance by Liam Neeson as the unstoppable Bryan Mills.

While you can argue the first sequel was okay, Taken 3 is overkill.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

pirates of the caribbean movie
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl introduces viewers to Captain Jack Sparrow, a charming pirate who teams up with Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann to save the governor's daughter from the cursed crew of the Black Pearl.

Fans consider Curse of the Black Pearl the best movie in the franchise because of its swashbuckling action, memorable characters, and witty humor.

10. First Blood (1982)

Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Rocky IV (1985)
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures/United Artists.

First Blood is an action-thriller film that follows John Rambo, a former Green Beret who becomes the target of a small-town sheriff's harassment. As Rambo fights back, a manhunt ensues, and he must use his survival skills to evade capture.

Fans believe that First Blood is the best movie in the Rambo franchise due to its gritty realism, intense action, and poignant exploration of the effects of war on veterans.

11. Men in Black (1997)

Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

This science fiction comedy film is about a secret organization that monitors extraterrestrial activity on Earth. The movie follows Agent J and Agent K as they investigate a plot by an intergalactic terrorist to destroy the planet.

Fans consider it the best movie in the franchise because of its inventive premise, quirky humor, and excellent chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

12. Saw (2004)

Saw (2004)
Image Credit: Lions Gate Films.

Saw is a horror film about two men who wake up in a room with no memory of how they got there and must solve a series of deadly puzzles to escape. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that a twisted mastermind known as Jigsaw is behind the trap.

Fans say Saw is the best movie in the franchise because of its clever plot twists, suspenseful atmosphere, and gory yet imaginative death traps. This film created a new subgenre within horror, but the sequels are just the same story played out repeatedly.

13. John Wick (2014)

john wick
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

John Wick is an action-thriller about a retired hitman who seeks revenge after a gangster's son accidentally kills his beloved dog, the last gift from his late wife. As Wick navigates the criminal underworld to seek justice, he becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Fans believe that John Wick is the best movie in the franchise due to its stylized action, intricate world-building, and Keanu Reeves' iconic performance as the titular character. However, none of the sequels have added anything new to the franchise's premise.

14. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

As the third film in The Fast & the Furious franchise, this is the only film in this list that is not the first film of the franchise. The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift is an action film that follows high school student Sean Boswell as he moves to Tokyo and gets involved in the underground world of drifting.

While there are many fans who would prefer the first film of the franchise, Tokyo Drift has a cult following that considers this the best movie due to its thrilling race sequences, unique setting, and introduction of fan-favorite character Han Lue.

Source: Reddit.

Film & Culture Writer | Website | + posts

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.