A sequel can make or break a franchise. There have been numerous instances where ill-conceived sequels threatened to dismantle the magic of beloved films, once considered the pinnacle of cinema. Some filmmakers who strike gold with a great idea don't know when to quit.
From ill-fated attempts to extend franchises to misguided follow-ups, these 15 terrible sequels came dangerously close to shattering the brilliance of their predecessors.
1 – Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
In this ill-advised sequel to the classic thriller, a vengeful great white shark targets the Brody family, seeking revenge for the events of the original Jaws. With a far-fetched and implausible storyline, weak acting, and lackluster special effects, this sequel nearly destroyed the suspense and terror that made Jaws an iconic film.
However, it didn't act alone in bringing about Jaws' demise. Jaws 2 and 3D were also glaring missteps in the franchise, but this fourth addition put the final nail in the coffin.
2 – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire (2008)
This third installment of The Mummy franchise took a misstep by abandoning the charm and adventure of its predecessors. With a convoluted plot set in ancient China, lackluster CGI effects, and a noticeable absence of crucial cast members, this sequel nearly destroyed the sense of fun and excitement that made the original films so enjoyable.
3 – Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Following the adrenaline-pumping success of Speed, this sequel set sail on a disastrous course. With a plot centered around a cruise ship instead of a bus, the absence of Keanu Reeves, and a lack of tension that made the original film a hit, Speed 2 nearly destroyed its predecessor's thrilling intensity and innovative concept.
4 – The Hangover Part III (2013)
The Hangover series took a regrettable turn with this third and final installment. Straying from the successful formula of the first film, Part III lost its comedic charm and instead focused on a forced and contrived plot. W
With a lack of genuine humor and an attempt to be darker and more serious, this sequel flopped and turned The Hangover franchise into a joke.
5 – Men in Black II (2002)
This sequel failed to capture the magic and originality of the first Men in Black film. With a recycled plot, diluted humor, and a lack of fresh ideas, Men in Black II fumbled the perfect blend of action, comedy, and sci-fi elements that made the first one a blockbuster success.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones didn't maintain the same level of chemistry, the script felt like a recycled idea, and there wasn't nearly enough wit to compete with the first film. We don't talk about Men in Black II. For all intents and purposes, it never happened.
6 – The Next Karate Kid (1994)
This fourth installment in the Karate Kid franchise struggled to find its footing without the presence of Ralph Macchio's iconic character. With an unconvincing plot, weak character development, and a loss of the emotional depth of the original films, The Next Karate Kid just didn't have the same inspirational spirit and martial arts mastery that defined the series.
7 – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
This long-awaited sequel to the beloved Indiana Jones trilogy fell short of expectations. With an overly complex plot, excessive use of CGI, and an ill-conceived storyline involving aliens, it lacked the adventure and nostalgic charm we expected of the franchise.
8 – Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
In a desperate attempt to recapture the comedic brilliance of the first film, this sequel fell flat on its face with recycled jokes, forced humor, and a lack of genuine chemistry between the lead actors. Dumb and Dumber was known for its uproarious wit and clever absurdity, making it a comedic gem. Dumb and Dumber To was a comedic dumpster fire.
9 – Taken 2 & 3 (2012, 2014)
These sequels diluted the intense and gripping nature of the original Taken film. With repetitive storylines, predictable action sequences, and a loss of emotional stakes, these sequels nearly destroyed the raw and relentless energy that made the first film a standout in the action genre. Taken 2 revolves around the family being targeted for abduction yet again. I mean, how many times can one family get abducted?
The third movie is about Bryan trying to clear his name after he is framed to look like the person who murdered his ex-wife. Shocker — he has to go on the run and use his extensive training and resourcefulness to protect his loved ones and uncover this conspiracy. The coma-induced lack of originality doesn't stop there, as Taken 4 is currently under development.
When will it end!?
10 – The Godfather Part III (1990)
Serving as the conclusion to the iconic Godfather trilogy, Part III failed to live up to its predecessors' brilliance. The shift in focus to Michael Corleone's personal struggles and attempts at redemption lacked the gripping intensity and intricate narrative that fans had come to expect, nearly destroying the saga's legacy.
Sophia Coppola's performance was also torn apart for terrible acting that supposedly “ruined the movie.” This was a shocking fall from grace for a franchise that produced arguably the greatest sequel ever with The Godfather Part II.
11 – Grease 2 (1982)
Trying to replicate the success of the original Grease, this sequel stumbled in its execution. With a weak storyline, uninspired musical numbers, and a cast that failed to capture the charm and chemistry of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Grease 2 was more like a cruel spoof than a genuine sequel worthy of the Grease title.
12 – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
This long-awaited sequel to Anchorman fell short of capturing the hilarity and quotability of the first film. While the original was a comedy sensation with its outrageous humor and memorable one-liners, Anchorman 2 struggled to recapture the same magic.
With a disjointed plot and excessive improvisation, the sequel nearly destroyed the comedic genius and irreverent satire that made the original Anchorman a cult favorite. After this unexpected flop, the fate of Anchorman 3 is still up for question.
12 – Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
A lot of fans were pleasantly surprised when Pacific Rim came out in 2013. but when its sequel was released, people weren't into this film. This science-fiction film, while with a lot of the same cast, just didn't land as well. For one, the first movie was directed by the legendary Guillermo del Toro, meanwhile, the sequel was directed and written by a completely different group.
12 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
The first Doctor Strange movie was a smashing success, and many Marvel fans loved the addition to the saga. But when its sequel came out in 2022, a lot of fans felt the movie was confusing and didn't fulfill any of the promises it made.
12 – Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights falls into the same trap a number of the other movies on this list did: it's trying to build off a nostalgic movie for so many, but does it completely wrong. This sequel to Dirty Dancing came over 20 years later, with none of the original cast. The dancing is really the only thing it has in common with the original movie.
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.