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"And yet it's still coming! It won't stop! How do you kill a Star Trek show that's already dead?! Muhhuhhhhh!!"
SF Debris, in his review of the Star Trek Enterprise episode "A Night in Sickbay"

Franchises are often created with tender loving care by writers, directors, authors, game designers, etc. These individuals have something specific in mind, and put a lot of life into their creations, and it really shows, especially when the creation becomes very popular.

But sometimes, the creation does so well, that an Executive Meddling, a publisher, or someone else with a lot of power, demands the franchise continue. The author is told to write more books (or discovers that nothing else draws in the money). The game designer is told to make more games. The director is told to make a movie sequel.

Sometimes this happens when the creator really doesn't want to keep going, and would rather try out different things. But the creator doesn't have much choice -- it's either do the sequel yourself, or let someone else do it, perhaps less adequately (thereby tarnishing the image of the original) -- and keeps going anyway. The result is sometimes a lifeless franchise, a franchise that has had all the originality and creativity -- all the life -- sucked out of it, but keeps stumbling forward anyway. This often has the tragic effect of souring the creator on their own work, sometimes preventing a more natural follow-up or continuation. If this happens, then the franchise can go on indefinitely, continued by the company long after the creator has tried to put a definitive end on the series and backed away from it permanently - or even after the creator has died. At this point, since it is effectively immortal, the phenomenon might be known as a Franchise Vampire.

Increasingly common in the game industry. Modern games take such a large amount of time and money to develop compared to older games thus making Smash Hit 3 and a new intellectual property at the same time unfeasible. Some developers have remedied this by buying or hiring other development companies to work on cash-in sequels while they work on their next big thing.

A subtrope of Executive Meddling (and sometimes Cash Cow Franchise). See also Sequelitis, Fallen Creator, Post Script Season, Only the Creator Does It Right. Compare Capcom Sequel Stagnation, a different style of milking.

Can frequently lead to Creator Backlash. Outlived Its Creator is the pinnacle of this trope. Contrast with Franchise Killer and Torch the Franchise and Run. See also Undead Horse Trope.

Examples of Franchise Zombie include:


Anime and Manga

  • Legend has it that this happened to Dragon Ball. According to the story, Akira Toriyama wanted to stop at several points (the Piccolo Jr. Saga of Dragon Ball, then the Frieza Saga of DBZ and finally the end of the Cell Games Saga), but meddling executives wanted to take advantage of its extraordinary success and told him to keep going. He couldn't end it at the Cell Games Saga, and thus had to do the Majin Buu Saga. Because of Goku's massive popularity in Japan, Toriyama never got to do what he had wanted to do when starting DBZ: pass the main hero mantle from Goku to Gohan (In reality, he had no concrete plan of where to end it, he just wanted to stop and it was fan demand more than executives that kept him going).
    • Eventually, he did leave, and Dragon Ball GT happened without his input... mostly. The GT-exclusive character Giru actually was from one of Toriyama's designs and he did character designs for all of the characters at the beginning of GT... even the infamous mustached Vegeta (this is frequently given as further evidence that Toriyama was absolutely fed up with it - the designs have several obvious oddities, like mustached Vegeta, and all reek of Writer Revolt).
      • A later MMORPG, Dragon Ball Online based around the Dragon Ball Z universe (but set at least a hundred years after the end of the Majin Buu Saga), has Toriyama's direct input. However, and of interesting note, the game completely ignores Dragon Ball GT in its canon. This means everything that happened in GT, ranging from Majin Buu dying (he even procreates a completely new, selectable race) to Goku being turned back into a 12-year-old boy, will be rendered moot in the game. Since Toriyama is directly involved in this, some may see this as Word of God.
  • Kazuki Takahashi of Yu-Gi-Oh! fame can't leave the series. He's been repeatedly been called in for material for the newer series, such as 5Ds, and recently made a set of new artworks for the Anniversary Pack of the card game.
  • Urusei Yatsura got to the point where one of the movies not-so-subtly encouraged the audience to let go of it so the creators could get on with their lives.
  • The rumor mill states that the Sailor Moon manga was supposed to end after the first story arc, with the original creator allegedly planning a Kill'Em All Downer Ending. Then, it was supposed to end after the third story arc and finally ended after a fifth arc. Ironically, later manga arcs are often considered to be the better ones from the series - in contrast to the corresponding anime seasons that were being produced at the same time - so in the case of the manga, "zombifying" was not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Fist of the North Star was originally planned to wrap up with Kenshiro finally defeating Raoh and riding off into the wastelands with a terminally-ill Yuria. However, due to its popularity, the manga was renewed for a couple more years, forcing authors Buronson and Tetsuo Hara to continue the story beyond its intended conclusion. Even Buronson admitted that it was hard for him to continue writing the manga after killing off Raoh and doesn't remember much of what happened afterward.
  • Monkey Punch originally intended for Lupin III to be another one of his adult parody manga series that only lasted a few chapters like most of his past works. However, Weekly Manga Action, the magazine that serialized it, started selling like hotcakes because of this and lead to him continuing the manga till it lasted five years. Afterwards, TV series, movies and specials have kept the series going for about forty years. Even Monkey Punch himself expressed complete surprise over the series' sudden popularity. This hasn't stopped him from continuing to work on it with subsequent sequel manga, though.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino did not plan to do anything to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise after the original show. And given the unimpressive ratings in its original run (low enough that its length was cut from a planned 52 episodes to 43, and even that was after Tomino managed to negotiate up from 39 episodes), it seemed unlikely that anybody would ask him to. However, due to the great success of rebroadcasts and the subsequent movie trilogy, along with Bandai taking over the merchandising and making a killing on model kit sales, Sunrise demanded Tomino to make a new show, which would become Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. To make sure that Zeta Gundam would be the last in the franchise, Tomino proceeded to kill off most of the main cast and turn the protagonist insane. This still didn't stop Sunrise from demanding new shows, and the not-so-successful Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ was created. Tomino attempted to end the franchise again in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack by killing off Amuro and Char. Another attempt made in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam in a rejected plot that the V2 Gundam goes berserk and wipe out humanity with its Wings of Light. His final attempt was Turn A Gundam, which is set thousands of years after the stories of all other Gundam shows (including those broadcast after it) in a post-apocalyptic rebuilt Earth. It still failed to end the franchise, and Tomino quit doing it altogether.

Film

  • The Land Before Time. Currently on the thirteenth installment (and Don Bluth was only involved with the first)...
    • They've finally stopped making them, but only because Universal shut down their animation department.
  • Jurassic Park can be considered this. While the novel Jurassic Park was intended to be a standalone work by author Michael Crichton, after the massive financial success of its 1993 film adaptation, the film's producers pressured him into writing a sequel novel so they could make a sequel film. He reluctantly wrote The Lost World, which was published in 1995 and retconned a lot of the first novel's plot points (The most notable is that Ian Malcolm is The Lost World's protagonist, despite him dieing from injuries sustained in the T-rex attack in the first book; the fact that he survives in the film may have something to do with this). It was quickly adapted into the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, which only recycled the basic plot premise from the book. While Crichton helped write the screenplay for the first Jurassic Park film, he had no involvement in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Despite The Lost World receiving mixed reviews, a third film, Jurassic Park III was released in 2001, which wasn't based off any novel and again had no involvement from Crichton. It, too, was met with mixed reviews and is generally considered an unnecessary sequel. By this point, the film franchise has taken on a longer and much different continuity than Crichton originally created in the books. Despite Crichton's death in 2008, a fourth "Jurassic Park" film, titled Jurassic World, was made and released in 2015.
  • Planet of the Apes. The second movie ends with an Earthshattering Kaboom that would prevent further sequels. The third uses time travel to continue in the present day instead of After the End, and had an ending that was originally only envisioned as a connection to the original movie instead of a Sequel Hook... but it then led to two more sequels (with the fifth being the absolute worst). And to make matters worse, the studio slashed the budget for every new movie!
  • Francis Ford Coppola had no intention of making any sequels to The Godfather. It's typically said that the only reason he made Part II was to get the funding to make Apocalypse Now, which lead to further executive pressure and a Part III as well. (Hence the often-quoted line "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.")
  • The sixth entry in The Pink Panther franchise, Revenge of..., was essentially commissioned by United Artists just to have a big film for summer 1978. By the time it was done, the long-strained working relationship between Peter Sellers (Inspector Clouseau) and Blake Edwards (writer-director) had snapped. Sellers planned a continuation he could put his heart into with Romance of the Pink Panther, which he was co-scripting and Edwards was paid not to participate in, but the project died along with Sellers in 1980. Edwards decided to continue the series himself with Replacement Scrappy characters...
  • ZAZ has made it quite clear that they had no part or interest in the Airplane! sequel (in the first one's DVD commentary, they admit they've never even seen it), thinking that all of the good ideas had been used. Indeed, half the jokes in the sequel were recycled from the first film...
  • When his father died suddenly in 1956, Leo Gorcey decided he could no longer continue with the Bowery Boys movie series. (His father Bernard Gorcey played sweet shop owner Louie Dumbrowski in those movies.) The fact that Gorcey had top billing in the movies didn't prevent Republic from continuing the series, replacing Gorcey with Stanley Clements. The series limped along with seven flat movies before ending two years later.
  • In a 1982 interview, John Carpenter stated that Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis both died at the end of Halloween II and that he intended to make the series into an anthology "like The Twilight Zone but on a larger scale." After the financial flop of Halloween III Carpenter opted out of doing any more and signed away the rights to producer Moustapha Akkad. Michael Myers went on to appear in five more films after his canon death, not counting the remakes.
    • Rob Zombie's has shown disappointment at the studio's intent to resurrect Michael for a third remake film, despite his insistance (and refusal to direct) that H2 was the end of the franchise. However, in 2018, a new Halloween film was released that ignored Rob Zombie's reboot AND any Halloween film after the first one, and picked up where the first left off, though several years later.
  • Wes Craven wanted A Nightmare on Elm Street to be a single movie. Then when he returned to co-write the third film, he wanted that to be the last.


Literature

  • The Rev. W. Awdry originally intended for book 12, The Eight Famous Engines, in his famous Railway Series books to be the final volume. The publishers insisted that he keep going. Considering how popular the books were and are, it's understandable.
  • Michael Crichton intended for his 1990 novel Jurassic Park to be a standalone work. After its film adaptation, which he helped write the screenplay for, became a huge financial success, its creators pressured him to write a follow-up book so they could make a sequel film. Crichton reluctantly agreed and published The Lost World in 1995, which retconned a lot of the plot points from Jurassic Park. After The Lost World's publishing, Crichton has had no involvement in the Jurassic Park film franchise, which has the potential to carry on despite his death in 2008. This is further elaborated on in the film section.
  • The success of Goosebumps led publisher Scholastic to bet everything they had on it and tell author R.L. Stine to keep going. He did, and the quality suffered. The books ended up Strictly Formula and became shorter. Their popularity dropped as a result. It's been rumored that Stine became so fed up with this that many of the later books were ghostwritten.
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio was supposed to end with Pinocchio getting killed off for being such a sociopa...er, "bad little boy". Carlo Collodi's editor forced it so that Pinocchio was saved from death, and 20 more chapters were written.
  • In-universe examples: In Sharyn McCrumb's Bimbos of the Death Sun, author Appin Dungannon is enslaved to writing sequels to a series of Conan-wannabe novels despite wanting recognition as a serious author because the first few were so popular. As a result, the author is cantankerous and rude to sci-fi fans in general, and violent towards fans of his own books. He comes to hate his barbarian hero so much that he writes several humiliating death scenes for the character. One reaction to this sets the plot rolling.
    • And in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, right down to the Robert E. Howard knockoff plotting to kill off his creation once and for all. Unfortunately for him, his creation comes to life and abducts him.
    • Something similar kicks off a short story by Terry Pratchett, with similar results.
  • In-universe example: In Dan Simmons' Hyperion, Martin Silenus could have ended The Dying Earth more or less immediately after the first installment, a long poem. He keeps going for the money. Eventually, it leads to him "losing his muse", and spending the next several decades looking for it.
  • Sherlock Holmes died because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had grown tired of writing him and wanted to devote more time to his historical novels. Public and editorial pressure forced him to bring Holmes back. In stories written years later, Holmes reappeared, having survived. This is thus also an example of a (metaphorical) character zombie.
  • Quite similarly, French author Maurice Leblanc tried to kill his hero Arsène Lupin but had to resurrect him for several new books due to popularity.
    • Another French writer, Pierre Ponson du Terrail, pulled a "Doyle" when he killed off his pulp hero Rocambole, then eventually brought him back from the dead due to public pressure.
  • L. Frank Baum of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz fame never really intended for the original book to spawn a series, and by the third sequel he was growing tired of writing about the Land of Oz. Unfortunately, none of his other books sold. He even tried creating something of a Backdoor Pilot by writing an Oz novel in which Dorothy and company take a backseat to a new set of characters who later showed up in an unrelated book. But it didn't work, and financial troubles forced Baum to keep writing Oz books for the rest of his life. In the introduction to one book, the narrator actually tells the reader that he knows many stories not related to Oz, and wishes he had a chance to tell them.
    • Even Baum's death could not stop the series the author himself didn't want to continue. A sequence of different authors were hired by Baum's publisher to serve as his "heirs", and for the next six decades a dozen more sequels were churned out, of greatly varying quality.
  • Robert Jordan's epic series The Wheel of Time was originally conceived as a standard fantasy trilogy, then expanded to a planned 6 books. At the publisher's insistence, this was expanded to 8, then 12 volumes. Author Existence Failure occurred during the writing of the 12th volume; but Brandon Sanderson was hired to complete the series, which is now expected to run to 14 volumes.
    • According to most reports, the publisher insisted on increasing the volume count because they didn't have a way to publish 2000+ page books, though.
  • Thomas Harris only wrote Hannibal Rising because Dino De Laurentis threatened to make the movie without his involvement. Given the poor critical and box office reception the movie received, the franchise is probably really dead now.
  • RA Salvatore has been said to have wished that he had killed Drizzt Do'Urden off years ago. In fact, he had once withdrawn from the franchise only to have Wizards of the Coast go so far as to solicit a manuscript by another author for a new Drizzt novel Shores of Dusk. The novel even appeared in catalogs for an August 1997 release. Salvatore caved and the solicited novel disappeared. That was ten novels ago.
  • Even Author Existence Failure hasn't stopped V. C. Andrews, who's still publishing in 2010 despite having died in 1986. It's like the Stratemeyer Syndicate with an actual real name.
  • In-Universe example in Stephen King's Misery: the main character of the novel is so fed up of the trashy Victorian-esque novels he writes, he conclusively kills off the main character of the books he writes. Then he crashes his car and gets taken in by a huge fan of his... who ties him to a bed and forces him to write another sequel, making him have to resurrect the extremely dead character.
    • It actually turns out to be the best book in the series. He takes it with him and publishes it after he escapes.
  • Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, "Author! Author!", about a mystery writer forced by his publisher to write endless novels about his famous detective, Reginald de Meister, despite his desire to write a serious novel. Unfortunately for him, De Meister seems so real to fans that he actually becomes real and demands not only that more "Reginald de Meister" stories be written, but that the quality be improved.
  • Winnie the Pooh. Supposedly, Milne wanted to kill Pooh off, but that failed. He hated the series because it made people ignore his adult works. It Got Worse when it was picked up by Disney.
  • Ian Fleming allegedly wanted to end his James Bond novels at one point (sources vary as to whether it was after From Russia with Love or You Only Live Twice, both of which end in such a way that the books could have concluded, although Bond is not left in a good state in either), only to be coaxed back to write more.
  • Regarding Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels; Trojan Odyssey shows every sign of being the last book. Pitt, Gunn, and Giordino are promoted to desk jobs while Sandecker becomes VP. Long-running subplots are finally resolved with Dirk marrying Loren and finally recognizes the strange man named Clive Cussler he meets at the wedding as the stranger that helps him every adventure, and he is introduced to his adult children he never knew about. This was six books ago.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers is an interesting case in that she zombie'd her own franchise with no help from publishers whatsoever (though they were undoubtably grateful that she did). She originally wrote Strong Poison, introducing the character of novelist Harriet Vane, because she was tired of Lord Peter Wimsey and wanted to get rid of him by marrying him off - at the time it was held that a detective-series hero could not be married without breaking the 'rules' of the genre. However, when Sayers finished drafting the novel she realized that in Harriet she had created a character with more integrity and interior reality than her series hero had, so she had to go back and write almost as many novels again featuring Lord Peter before he reached a point of psychological complexity and reality enough that she could feel comfortable letting Harriet marry him. She then wrote a novel about their honeymoon and had plans to continue the series further, but moved onto other projects and never completed the next manuscript.


Live-Action TV

  • According to Word of God, The Prisoner is a rare case of a project becoming a Franchise Zombie in pre-production. In this 1977 interview, series creator and star Patrick McGoohan said, "I thought the concept of the thing would sustain for only seven episodes." However, meddling executives wanted the episode count raised to 26. In the end, 17 episodes were filmed, but McGoohan claimed that only seven of them ("Arrival", "Dance of the Dead", "Check Mate", "Free For All", "The Chimes of Big Ben" and "Once Upon A Time"/"Fall Out") "really count".
  • Power Rangers creator Haim Saban considers the Disney era of his franchise (Power Rangers Wild Force to Power Rangers RPM) to be a personal zombie period to him, saying in his own words that "Disney did not develop the property and exploit it in the way that it deserves."
    • Showrunner Jonathan Tzachor deems only Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to Power Rangers Wild Force as "counting", but then again, Jonathan's concept of canonicity is strange. [1].
    • Later semi-clarified by Paul Schrier at Comic-Con 2011 that, while the current Saban Brands production regime does not like the Disney seasons and wishes they did not exist, they are in-continuity and have not been disowned.
  • Reportedly, Chris Carter wanted to end The X-Files after the sixth or seventh season, but had to stick around with it because Fox threatened to keep making it, with or without him.
    • It sure didn't stop him from making another movie years after the series had ended.
  • Norman Lear planned to end All in The Family after Season 8, with Mike and Gloria moving to California (thereby eliminating the intrafamilial conflict that was the heart of the show). But CBS ended up dangling a huge salary increase and production deal to Carroll O'Connor, and the show not only limped along for another season (without Lear), but was retooled as Archie Bunker's Place, which itself lasted four seasons.
  • John Cleese was reportedly frustrated about the later seasons of Monty Python's Flying Circus, as he felt they had used up all of their original ideas, but the rest of the team carried on for a single season of the show, which was renamed Monty Python.
    • In a recent documentary about the Monty Python troupe the rest of the group conceded that the quality severely dropped and that the way Terry Jones and John Cleese butted heads over what and what should not be included was their main source of quality control.
  • Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence wanted to end the series several times, but was forced to keep going. In its 9th season, with most of the original cast leaving and the setting moved to a new location, he tried to change the name to separate it from the previous eight seasons but wasn't allowed to. It was finally canceled after said season.
  • The show Weeds is starting to become this as the creator always seems to announce that the current season will be the last only for Showtime to renew it midway through that season.
  • In-Universe in Castle. The main character is a writer who has got so tired of his creation that he has him shot in his last book. This causes angst with with his publisher (an ex wife).
  • Anne of Green Gables falls into this category. As he describes in the DVD featurette "Kevin Sullivan's Classic", producer/writer/director Kevin Sullivan only intended to do one mini-series adapting the original novel in 1985. Afterwards, the network pressured him to make a sequel, though he chose to only loosely adapt some later Anne novels rather than pick one for a close adaptation. Afterwards, demand remained high so inspired by a short story collection by LM Montgomery he created the long-running series Road to Avonlea. In 2000, more than a decade after the second mini-series, he reassembled the original cast for a wholly original, Darker and Edgier sequel set during World War I (completely messing up the continuity of both the first two movies and and books). Sullivan couldn't let Anne rest, however, and brought her back in a near-fantasy animated reimagining, Anne: Journey to Green Gables in 2005 (which added a Disney-like villain to the story), and in 2008 he produced a live-action movie A New Beginning, now set in World War II as a middle-aged Anne reflects on her life before the events of the first movie. Fortunately, except for the animated film which has fallen into obscurity, the frequent revisits to Avonlea to Sullivan's credit are generally critically lauded and popular with viewers (if criticized by the Anne equivalent of Trekkies).
  • The Apprentice seems to combine this with Adored by the Network. The ratings for the past few seasons have been horrible (one season finishing below a 2 in ratings week after week), however it keeps getting renewed despite awful ratings and flagging interest. In fact, some even wonder if Donald Trump's short lived attempt to run for President was nothing more than an attempt to increase viewership and keep the show running for more seasons.
    • Of course, that nowadays seems to apply solely to the Celebrity version. That season that was stuck in the 1s (and even went below a 1 on Thanksgiving night)? It was an attempted REVIVAL of the non-Celebrity version after a THREE-YEAR HIATUS. Needless to say, that version of the show is now dead and buried.
  • Tony Garnett, producer of Between the Lines, publicly said that he felt the third and final series of the show fell into this trap when he was asked why he decided not to make a third season of his popular series This Life.
  • Supernatural could also qualify for this trope since Eric Kripke only intended the show to run for five seasons. The show has finished its seventh season.
  • The Onion News Network reports that Warner Bros. will split the final minutes of the last Harry Potter movie into seven separate films.


Video Games

  • The Mega Man X series was supposed to end with X5, and then progress to the Mega Man Zero series in the future. Unfortunately, Inafune was forced to keep going until X8. This was somewhat difficult plot-wise, as X5 ended with Zero dead. X6 then ended with him in the capsule not supposed to be opened until Mega Man Zero making his appearances in X7-X8 awkward. Players were then told to think of the scene in X6 as a bonus ending for the series, rather than something happening directly after the game.
  • Both Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon were the mascots of friend developers Naughty Dog and Insomniac. Both then split off from Vivendi Universal for different reasons (Naughty Dog's contract with Vivendi ran out, while Insomniac was unpleased with the limitations of Spyro's character designs and walked off on their own) and moved onto different styles of games (Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank), leaving their old mascots to their owner... who then ran both of them into the ground. Vivendi has since been absorbed into Activision, who have reduced Crash to starring in (admittedly entertaining) smartphone games, while Spyro was rebooted (yet again) in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (which is in all honesty more a new franchise that just happens to include a name character).
    • Regarding the new series of Crash games, the co-president of Naughty Dog once said "It's a little bit like watching your daughter do porn".
  • Speaking of Vivendi, Leisure Suit Larry has become this as a result of Magna Cum Laude, released in 2004 for the PC, PS2, and Xbox. It was created without any input from series creator Al Lowe and he criticizes the game on his website. The sequel, Box Office Bust (at which point the franchise isn't in the property of Activision anymore because it didn't print money.), has received even further drubbing from critics.
    • The weirdest part is that Al seems to be fine with more LSL games, as long as he's involved with them, and wonders on his website why they don't consult him. But he's also glad that he's not involved when they crash and burn.
  • Various interviews from developers at Core have shown that Tomb Raider 1-4 were genuine attempts to improve on each entry, whether they could be considered to have succeeded or not, however, the "Lara dies" twist at the end of the fourth was a serious attempt to either finish the series or buy time for a next-gen debut. But then they were talked into making Tomb Raider Chronicles, a game where Lara's closest friends reminisce about Lara's previously unseen adventures, as an easy moneygrab; and being distracted by that quite possibly had a small part in the failure of Angel of Darkness'. Of course, it managed to recover after the franchise moved over to Crystal Dynamics' hands and rebooted.
  • Resident Evil (Biohazard in Japan) maybe falls under this trope, and not only because it has zombies. The franchise had many spin-offs (including some attempts at online gaming for PS2, some light gun games, some mobile phone games, and a portable Gaiden game), but little outside the properly numbered sequels (including Zero and Code Veronica) or the Chronicles series is worth playing.
    • Despite Wesker's killing off, and Shinji Mikami's departure, Capcom has an RE 6 and RE 7 in the works.
  • Katamari Damacy was never supposed to have a sequel, according to the creator of the original game.
  • Hideo Kojima originally didn't intend to direct any Metal Gear sequels beyond Metal Gear Solid, but due to the immense success of the game, he was pressured by his superiors to direct Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, which featured a twist ending that he never intended to explain away. Afterward, he wrote the basic outline for Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, with the intention of handing it out to another director, but no one was willing to take the job. The same thing happened with Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots: although he had already named a successor, fans demanded that he return to personally direct the game (which allegedly included death threats). And as the entry on Writer Revolt for that game shows, he didn't take it nicely. And the series is still going on....
    • He also didn't intend to make a sequel for the first Metal Gear but a coworker who developed Snakes Revenge somehow convinced him to make a real one.
  • Twisted Metal was briefly this. Sony and Singletrac split up after Twisted Metal 2, resulting in Sony owning the Twisted Metal name but Singletrac owning the engine. As a result, Sony had No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, and the third and fourth games received relatively poor reviews. Luckily, former Singletrac employees founded Incog Inc. (and later Eat Sleep Play) and Sony handed them back the series from Twisted Metal Black onwards.
  • Halo: Rumors suggest the franchise was only intended to consist of two games, but scheduling issues forced Bungie to release the original Halo 2 in a semi-complete state (only about 3/4 done). Then Halo 3 was billed as the big finale of the series. Then... Bungie made the Gaiden Game ODST and the prequel Halo: Reach (considered by some as the best game in the series) before jumping ship and leaving the series with Microsoft's hands, who've independently churned out Halo Wars and announced a whole trilogy of new games. Guess the fight wasn't quite finished yet, huh?
    • It is worth telling though that in the entry annex of Bungie's offices, they have a poster-print of this Penny Arcade strip, signed by the author and artist. Make of that what you will.
  • Star Control had a brief go at this. The original developers had long since moved on to other projects, and they actually retained rights to all the creative content apart from the name "Star Control". The publisher wanted another game out in the series, even if it lacked any familiar content that would tie it in with the previous games. In the end, the developers gave in, figuring that it was the lesser evil for the series. The game was actually made by completely different people, though. Oh, and there was a novel too, which most people prefer to forget about.
  • Gunpei Yokoi intended for Metroid to end with Super Metroid in order to have a neat, contained trilogy. After his death, the franchise was revived in 2002 with Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion, and new games have come out at a steady pace ever since.
  • Max Payne was revived with a new developer, Rockstar Games, for its third game.


Western Animation

  • Show Within a Show example: Ralph Bighead in Rocko's Modern Life was forced to create another show to get out of his contract, but he secretly detests it. Thus, he gets Rocko and his friends to create a terrible show, "Wacky Delly", to get kicked out of his contract. Unfortunately, it was a huge hit. The show goes on with his trying over and over to make it worse and worse, including having nothing but a jar of mayonnaise for 10 minutes on-screen, but it keeps getting more and more popular. It wasn't until he actually tried to make it better that it failed.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants was supposed to end after the third season and The Movie, but popular demand has kept it going since.
  • The Simpsons creator Matt Groening stated in an interview that it was getting harder to keep the series fresh, and that while it would be around for the next couple of seasons at least, he wanted it to leave on a high note. A few weeks later, he did a public recantation: The Simpsons was fine, and would be continuing for the foreseeable future. That was in 1999.
  • Craig McCracken wanted to end The Powerpuff Girls. Former Cartoon Network executives said that no one would watch the reruns, so the show continued. Ironically, Tom and Jerry was one of the network's highest-rated series...and it's 100% reruns.
  • Also on Cartoon Network, Dexter's Laboratory and Johnny Bravo were drastically retooled after the departure of their respective creators after Dexter's second season and Johnny Bravo's first.
  • Ben 10 was created by a four-man group called Man of Action. After the series was through, Cartoon Network continued the franchise without them with Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, both spearheaded by Glen Murakami and Dwayne McDuffie.
  • The previously mentioned Tom and Jerry was subject to this as well, after Hanna and Barbara left MGM, changing hands many times throughout the decades.
  • Seth MacFarlane was asked about this in an interview (the question was if he planned Family Guy to be as long as the The Simpsons). Seth said that he didn't want Family Guy to be that long, and that he wanted to end the show in a a high note, before it becomes stale.
    • In the third Star Wars parody, the opening crawl starts out and then suddenly cuts in with something to the effect of "You know what? Screw this. We didn't even want to do a third one. FOX is making us because the first two did so well."
  • Beavis and Butthead. Although Mike Judge doesn't like the last few seasons, claiming that they were forced on him by MTV, their supposed lack of quality is more of an Informed Flaw considering that the show remained hilariously funny right up to the Grand Finale.
    • The 2011 revival, on the other hand, does not fit as both Judge and MTV wanted it.
  • Popeye the Sailor was originally a minor character in a comic book series called Thimble Theater. After Fleischer Studios lost control of the franchise it continued directly under Paramount's banner for several years, before moving to other companies up until the beginning of the 1980s when they finally allowed the nearly 50 year old franchise to die.

Notes

  1. To clarify, each season is in its own continuity including Mighty Morphin-In Space, with the three MMPR seasons in three separate continuities
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