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A sequel is a work in literature, film, or other media that chronologically portrays events following those of a previous work.

In many cases, the sequel continues elements of the original story, often with the same characters and settings. A sequel can lead to a series, in which key elements appear in a number of stories. Although the difference between more than one sequel and a series is somewhat arbitrary, it is clear that some media franchises have enough sequels to become a series, whether originally planned as such or not.

Sequels are attractive to creators and to publishers because there is less risk involved in returning to a story with known popularity rather than developing new and untested characters and settings. Audiences are sometimes eager for more stories about popular characters or settings, making the production of sequels financially appealing.

If the main character dies at the end of the first work, a new character (perhaps a son or daughter, or a supporting character) may take up the role in the sequel. In other cases, the main character is simply brought back, or determined not to have died, or simply replaced by a new character.

In movies, sequels are quite common. Sometimes sequels have unrelated titles (such as The Jewel of the Nile, the sequel to Romancing the Stone or The Dark Knight, sequel to Batman Begins) but sometimes only a number is added to the original's title (e.g. Lethal Weapon 2, Spider-Man 3). Subtitles are also frequent (e.g. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York).


There are a number of ways that subsequent works can be related to the chronology of the original. Various neologisms have been coined to describe them.


The most common approach is for the events of the second work to directly follow the events of the first, either picking up dangling plot threads or introducing a new conflict to drive the events of a second story.


A "threequel" is simply a sequel of a sequel; i.e. the third in a series of works in chronological order.


A sequel that portrays events which precede those of the original work, called a "prequel." These can often avoid the plot problems associated with having to deal with the consequences of the original (e.g. the death of an important character). However they pose the challenge of maintaining dramatic interest when the outcome is already known from the original work, so the focus is usually on the character interactions or revealing how the characters and situations of the original work developed.


When there are already two or more completed works, an interquel can portray events which happen between them, bridging one story to the other. The interquel is therefore a sequel to one work and a prequel to another. For example, the video game Metroid Prime and its sequels were released after Metroid and Metroid II, but take place between them. This is more common in ancillary works in other media rather than works in a popular series. For example, the novel The Godfather Returns takes place between the events of the films The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and the Star Wars multimedia project Shadows of the Empire takes place between the films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Similarly, the 2008 film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the subsequent television series take place between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The new film Fast & Furious takes place in the time between 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The video game Street Fighter IV takes place after Super Street Fighter II Turbo but before Street Fighter III 2nd Impact. Also, the Street Fighter Alpha series takes place after Street Fighter but before Street Fighter II: The World Warrior.

Another example is the movie franchise Alien versus Predator, which takes place before the initial title of Alien but after the final movie of the other franchise Predator.

Interestingly enough, the Metroid Prime subseries is, as said, an interquel of the overall Metroid series, occurring between Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus, and has three main games, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2 Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. However, set between Prime and Echoes is the FPS spinoff Metroid Prime Hunters, a rare(?) example of an interquel amidst an interquel.


A midquel is a sequel which can take place during a chronology gap within a single previously completed work. For example, the Narnia book The Horse and His Boy takes place during the reign of the Pevensie children, which happens towards the end of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Other midquels would be the films Bambi II, which starts out shortly after the death of the young deer's mother in Bambi but before the later scenes in which he is an adult; and Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, which takes place during Belle's initial captivity. The video game Resident Evil 2 takes place during a brief interlude in its sequel Resident Evil 3: Nemesis; the video game Daxter takes place during a two-year gap in Jak II, between the moments when the character of Jak is taken prisoner and when he is rescued. The film Saw IV takes place during the events of Saw III. The game Halo 3: ODST takes place during the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3 from an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper's perspective on Earth. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, The Han Solo Adventures take place entirely within the events of the novel Rebel Dawn, which itself ends after the start of A New Hope.


A sequel can portray the events of a previously completed work from another perspective. As with a prequel, the focus is not on the outcome, but on the characters and previously unrevealed information. For example, the novel Ender's Shadow covers the events of the previous novel Ender's Game from the point of view of a supporting character in the original. The film The Lion King 1½ is a "parallel" of The Lion King; the same story is told, only from the point of view of Timon and Pumbaa, secondary characters in the original film. Similarly, the animated short BURN-E found as a special feature on the WALL-E DVD, tells the story of a maintenance robot set during, and interacting with, the events of the feature presentation. The first three novels in author E. E. Knight's Age of Fire series all take place at the same time, yet each book is told from a different character's point of view - the first, Dragon Champion, from grey scaleless dragon Auron's; the second, Dragon Avenger, from his sister Wistala; and the third, Dragon Outcast, from his unnamed copper brother.

Another example is Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which focuses on two minor characters from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, including events from Hamlet seen from their perspective. While the aborted animated series (later realized as novels and comics) Robotech II the Sentinels is often called a sequel, it does occur years after the Macross segment of Robotech but its events run concurrently with the Masters and New Generation segments but focus on the later adventures of the Macross era characters. Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned takes place the same time of Grand Theft Auto IV with a different player (Johnny Klebitz) that was featured as a minor character in Grand Theft Auto IV. The game takes place through the view of Johnny Klebitz with him meeting Niko Bellic (protagonist Of GTA IV),and stealing the diamonds Niko was supposed to get for Ray. Other Parallel are: Half-Life: Blue Shift, Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Decay for Half-Life.

Back to the Future Part II played around with the parallel concept by having the protagonist, Marty McFly, go back in time and watch the events of the first movie from a different angle, while never actually changing the effects of what happened.


Sometimes there is a large chronological interval between the events in a completed work and its sequel. This can allow the creators additional freedom, since the characters and settings will not be expected to have as much in common. A distant sequel allows time for new conflicts to develop, and a distant prequel need not directly establish the setting for the original. Speaker for the Dead is an extreme example of this, set 3,000 years after the novel Ender's Game. Some of the sequels and prequels in the Chronicles of Narnia series are separated by centuries in the chronology of the fantasy land or decades in the chronology of the real world. The series Star Trek: The Next Generation follows the events of the original Star Trek by nearly a century. The Legend of Zelda video game series takes place over several hundred years, with many installments featuring various reincarnations of the characters Link and Zelda, who fight the antagonist Ganon, though some games are direct continuations of others. More moderate chronological distances can result from works being set in "the present" but released years apart, such as The Terminator and its sequels, released in 1984, 1991, 2003 and 2009.


A variety of sequel that allows substantial creative freedom is one that is set in the same fictional universe as the original work, but with unrelated plots, and sometimes unrelated characters. One example of this is the Grand Theft Auto series, which contains a multitude of games, each of which follows a different character and storyline, but are set in the same fictional universe. Many of Kevin Smith's films take place in the same continuity, commonly referred to as the View Askewniverse, after his production company, although most feature characters only loosely connected to each other, like most characters common association with characters Jay and Silent Bob and having grown up in the same town, characters also frequently reference prominent events from other movies in passing. Screenwriter David Peoples described his film Soldier as a "sidequel" to Blade Runner (which he co-wrote). When done with the intention of launching a new series of stories, these are often called "spin-off." See also: gaiden.

Companion piece

A companion piece is a creative work that is produced as a complementary work to another stand-alone project, but storywise has nothing to do with its predecessor. While a companion piece does not necessarily need to take place within the same "universe" as the predecessor, it must follow-up on specific themes and ideas introduced in the original work. It must also be intentionally meant by its creator to be viewed alongside or within the same context as the earlier work. Examples would include Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood's companion piece to his earlier picture, Flags of Our Fathers) which saw the same events taking place from a different perspective, the Road to... pictures starring Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, and Bob Hope, and films featuring the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, or the Tramp. Another example is Stephanie Meyer's Midnight Sun which is a project that has been on hold. Another would be Fantasia 2000, which uses the basic ideas of and some elements from Fantasia.

Media franchises

In some cases, the characters or setting of an original film or video game become so valuable that they develop into a media franchise. Generally a whole series of sequels is made, along with merchandising. Multiple sequels are often planned well in advance and actors and directors may sign extended contracts to ensure their participation. A huge example of this is Pokémon and Rocky.


A reboot is a term often used for a sequel that isn't in continuity with the episode or episodes that were released before it. It is often used in media franchises; for example, the James Bond series has been rebooted with the film Casino Royale, and the Batman film series with Batman Begins. It has also been used for the Spyro video game series with a reboot known as The Legend of Spyro.

Media shifting

Sequels are most often produced in the same medium as the previous work (e.g. a film sequel is usually a sequel to another film). Producing sequels to a work in another medium has recently become common, especially when the new medium is less costly or time-consuming to produce.

A sequel to a popular – but discontinued – television series may be produced in another medium, thereby bypassing whatever factors led to the series cancellation. Noteworthy examples include the Star Trek films, Serenity (based on the Firefly series), and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series was continued after ending its run in 2003 for another "season" as a comic book. The Buffy series was itself a continuation of the unsuccessful film Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Gargoyles television series' comic book series, written by series creator, Greg Weisman, was written with a specific agenda to supplant the events of the television property's derided Goliath Chronicles phase.

Some highly popular movies and television series have inspired the production of multiple novel sequels, sometimes rivaling or even dwarfing the volume of works in the original medium. An ongoing series of novels (largely interquels) begun in the 1970s were based on the original Star Trek series, with more following with the sequel films and TV series. The novels and graphic novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe are sequels, prequels, and interquels to the films.

Computer games are an increasingly common medium for sequels to films. The Matrix Online, Stranglehold, and Scarface: The World is Yours are sequels to the films The Matrix, Hard Boiled, and Scarface, respectively.

Whether these alternate-medium sequels are considered canonical, varies. Bungie Studios, the developer of the Halo video games, considers the novel sequels to be canonical. The novels, comics, video games, and other media that comprise the Star Wars Expanded Universe are divided into tiers of canonicity by Lucasfilm, the films' production company, though the subject is often debated amongst fans. Likewise, novel sequels to the film Blade Runner are authorized and officially considered canonical, but the issue is also a topic of debate amongst fans.

Unofficial sequels

Sometimes sequels are produced without the consent of the creator of the original work. These may be dubbed unofficial, informal, unauthorized, or illegitimate sequels. In some cases, the work is in the public domain, and there is no legal obstacle to producing sequels, for example Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea as a parallel to Jane Eyre. In other cases, the original creator or their heirs may assert copyrights and challenge the creators of the sequels. For example, the estate of Margaret Mitchell sued over Alice Randall's novel The Wind Done Gone, a parallel of Gone with the Wind told from the perspective of the slaves; it was successfully defended as parody. Unofficial sequels to works that are still under copyright may change the names of the characters and alter the settings in an attempt to avoid legal action.

Stand-alone sequels

When sequels are set in the same universe but have little or no reference to their predecessors, the work is called a stand-alone sequel. This is often the case of direct-to-video films that follow up on semi-successful works, though there are some mainstream films that are stand-alone. Examples include White Noise: The Light, Boogeyman 2, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, George A. Romero's subsequent Dead sequels after Night of the Living Dead, and City of Men. A notable example in video games is the Quake series as well as many of the games in the legend of zelda series. These works often do not require viewers to encounter the previous installments in order to understand it.

Sequel titles

The producers of sequels have taken a variety of approaches to titling their works.

In the early years of film, sequels were generally given titles similar to the original and usually made use of the main character's name. When the William Powell-Myrna Loy mystery film The Thin Man (1934) turned out to be a hit, the studio produced several more films featuring the characters, such as After the Thin Man and The Thin Man Goes Home, even though the original "thin man" was the subject of the mystery and not the detective. After the success of A Family Affair (1937), there came a whole series of films starring Mickey Rooney reprising the Andy Hardy character in titles such as Love Finds Andy Hardy and Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.

On the other hand, early sequels in world cinema often lacked any particular naming schemes. For example, the three films in Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy (1955-1959) had unrelated titles: Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu). Similarly, Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro (1962) also had an unrelated name from its predecessor Yojimbo (The Bodyguard) (1961). Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy also lacked a naming scheme for its titles: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

The James Bond franchise stuck to the titles of Ian Fleming's novels until they ran out, then fashioned new titles with similar forms, none of which use the name "James Bond 007" or a number. The Pink Panther series started out with a different title for each (The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, Inspector Clouseau) in the 1960s. When the series was later resumed, the new approach was to append phrases to The Pink Panther, many of which came from classic horror films, i.e. Son of Frankenstein, The Mummy's Curse. Even if the actual Pink Panther diamond that the series takes its name from is not involved in a given sequel, they were named The Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, and Son of the Pink Panther to clearly associate them with each other.

Numbered sequels (particularly using Roman numerals) became very popular in films and video games in the 1970s and 1980s. The Godfather Part II (1974) was the first major motion picture to use Part II in the title. The success of The Godfather, Part II began the Hollywood tradition of numbered sequels; the first sequel to designate itself as such simply by using a number in the title was 1975's French Connection II, and the trend continued with films such as Rocky II, Jaws 2 and Halloween II. Occasionally, a homophonous word is substituted for the number, such as in the case of Look Who's Talking Too, the sequel to Look Who's Talking, or the upcoming film Fletch Won, which is a prequel to the film Fletch. As sequels developed a reputation of being inferior to the original works, the numbering of sequels became less common, or sometimes used for humorous effect. Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult is simply the third in the Naked Gun series. Leonard Part 6 had no predecessors, while History of the World, Part I was made with no intention for a sequel. Many sequels use subtitles instead of numbers or in addition to them, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Underworld: Evolution, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In other cases, sequels use titles similar to their predecessors, such as Analyze This sequel Analyze That, Meet the Parents sequel Meet the Fockers, and Night of the Living Dead sequel Dawn of the Dead. Some such titles give a playful nod to the numbering practice, as with The Whole Nine Yards sequel The Whole Ten Yards, 101 Dalmatians sequel 102 Dalmatians, or Ocean's Eleven sequels Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.

Throughout this period of numbered sequels, like-named sequels remained somewhat popular, and sometimes the original film was renamed when it was released on home video to match the naming of the sequels. What was once known as Star Wars is now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark is known in its current video release as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark to better align it with its prequel and sequel, and the DVD of Pitch Black was renamed The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black to help promote it as a predecessor to its sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.

With the rise of pre-planned series such as The Lord of the Rings, filmmakers turned more to long titles that include the franchise name and the title of the film separated by a colon. Examples of these include Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Sequel-naming in translation varies. Following the success of Home Alone in Germanymarker (German title: Allein zu Haus, or Alone at Home), some of Macaulay Culkin's other films were retitled to capitalize on the success (Uncle Buck became Allein mit Onkel Buck, or Alone with Uncle Buck), even though the two films were not linked in the same continuity. When Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy under the title Zombi, a similar but unrelated Italian film was in production, which was released as Zombi 2.

Numbers in the titles of sequels sometimes indicate the order in which the sequel was produced, regardless of the chronological events in the story. For example, the video game Devil May Cry 3 was the third title in the Devil May Cry series to be produced, though it is a prequel that takes place before the events of Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2. Devil May Cry 4 is set between the original game and Devil May Cry 2. However, while the sequel to the Japanese movie Ring was called Ring 2, the subsequent prequel was Ring 0.

Occasionally a work is designated as a sequel to an unrelated but similar work strictly for marketing purposes. After releasing the computer game Quake, developer id Software decided to name its next game Quake II, despite the fact that the two games are completely unrelated. Quake III is also unrelated to either of the previous Quake games, although Quake 4 continues the story of Quake II.

In recent years, many sequels have been given the name of the title character, to imply a new beginning for a series. This is commonly known as a "Stallone," for the actor who has given such outstanding examples of this nomenclature. The sixth Rocky film was titled Rocky Balboa; the fourth Rambo movie, following on from First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo III was called Rambo. Another example of a film to utilize a "Stallone" is the sixth St Trinian's film, titled St. Trinian's.

Box office impact vs. original movie

Although movie sequels don’t always do as well at the box office as the original, they tend to do much better than non-sequels, according to a study in the July, 2008 issue of the Journal of Business Research. The shorter the period between releases, the better the sequel will do at the box office. Sequels also show a faster drop in weekly revenues relative to non-sequels.

See also


  1. Newswise: Researchers Investigate Box Office Impact Vs. Original Movie Retrieved on June 19, 2008.

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