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Top 10 Movie Franchises That Were Ruined by Terrible Endings

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake

Gee, these films went from terrific to terrible faster than you can say “Phantom Menace.” From The Godfather to Die Hard, WatchMojo is taking a look at franchises that started out strong, but eventually dipped in quality and ultimately left audiences on the worst note possible.


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Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Movie Franchises That Were Ruined by Terrible Endings

Gee, these films went from terrific to terrible faster than you can say “Phantom Menace.” Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Franchises That Were Ruined by Terrible Endings.

For this list, we’re taking a look at franchises that started out strong, but eventually dipped in quality and ultimately left audiences on the worst note possible.

#10: “The Godfather Part III” (1990)

“The Godfather” franchise (1972-90)

This is one of those sequels that’s hard to get a grasp on, as it has the rare distinction of receiving a Best Picture Oscar nomination and multiple Razzies. To be fair, “Godfather III” isn’t without some impressive production values and an occasional poignant moment. When stacked up against its two near-perfect predecessors, though, it’s hard not to view this final chapter as the black sheep of the trilogy. Sofia Coppola’s infamously panned performance aside, the film feels like an uneven and unnecessary epilogue. Director Francis Ford Coppola actually admitted that his first two films summed up the Corleone saga, but he was motivated to make this third film primarily due to financial desperation. It shows.

#9: “Little Fockers” (2010)

“Meet the Parents” franchise (2001-10)

The premise wasn’t especially original, but “Meet the Parents” took audiences by surprise thanks to its winning cast and quotable one-liners. “Meet the Fockers,” while not as critically well-received, at least offered a few new elements and solid laughs. That’s more than we can say about “Little Fockers,” which came out six years later. We’d say that the film was too little, too late, but this sequel wasn’t even a little funny, relying on lazy jokes with actors who all seem tired of the franchise. Robert De Niro even made fun of the film while accepting the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. How did he go from Godfather to Godfocker?

#8: “RoboCop 3” (1993)

“RoboCop” franchise (1987-)

There’s no denying that 1987’s “RoboCop” is an action classic, complete with bloody violence, memorable characters, and clever satire. “RoboCop 2” might’ve left audiences unsatisfied, but it came MUCH closer to capturing the original’s spirit than “RoboCop 3.” This sequel essentially subtracted everything fans loved about this franchise with no Peter Weller, no interesting commentary, and no hard-R rating. Compared to the first film, this feels like a neutered, family-friendly cartoon. Heck, the actual “RoboCop” animated series had more dignity than this snooze fest. While subsequent attempts to rejuvenate the franchise delivered mixed results at best, we can take solace in knowing that nothing will ever be worse than the original trilogy’s ending. Hopefully.

#7: “A Good Day to Die Hard” (2013)

“Die Hard” franchise (1988-)

While the original “Die Hard” is widely considered the best in the series, the following three sequels all delivered something worthwhile. The second film had several insane set pieces, the third film offered a refreshing change of pace, and the fourth film was a lot of fun even with a PG-13 rating. “A Good Day to Die Hard” just feels phoned in, however, with generic action sequences, forgettable villains, and a stunted runtime of only 97 minutes. It’s truly disheartening to watch the definitive action movie franchise implode into a pale imitation of itself that solely relies on cheap clichés. A more fitting title would’ve been “Old Habits Die Hard.”

#6: “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)

“Superman” franchise (1978-)

Superman isn’t just one of the most iconic superheroes ever, but also one of the most important. The filmmakers exemplified why in the Man of Steel’s first two cinematic outings, but they missed the mark with “Superman III.” We’d gladly take more of Richard Pryor’s failed comedy bits, however, than watch “Superman IV,” a film that sadly can’t be wiped from our memories with a kiss. Featuring a story that makes zero sense, embarrassing performances, and special effects that were abysmal even by 1987 standards, it’s not surprising that Bryan Singer decided to ignore the film’s events when he made “Superman Returns.” Alas, it remains an unfortunate ending to Christopher Reeve’s tenure as Superman.

#5: “Spider-Man 3” (2007)

“Spider-Man” franchise (2002-)

From one superhero franchise to another, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” helped return comic book movies to their former glory and its follow-up set a new gold standard for the genre. Then “Spider-Man 3” came along and the franchise came crashing down the waterspout. Like the aforementioned “Superman” films, this sequel relied far too heavily on campy humor, giving us a dancing, emo Peter Parker who was laughable in all the wrong ways. It additionally packed in too many villains and side characters, none of whom are done the justice their comic book counterparts deserved. Despite being a box office hit, “Spider-Man 3” did so much damage to the franchise’s reputation that it was ultimately rebooted… twice.

#4: “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987)

“Jaws” franchise (1975-97)

Following Steven Spielberg’s game-changing blockbuster, the “Jaws” franchise progressively dug itself into a watery grave - with this fourth installment hitting rock bottom. Even the title is ridiculous. In the first film, it’s stated that the shark does nothing but swim, eat, and make little sharks. In other words, sharks don’t have the mental capacity to plot “revenge!” So how did this one pursue the Brody family all the way from Amity Island to the Bahamas? For that matter, why don’t the Brodys just stay out of the water? Also, what’s Michael Caine doing in this movie? We may never learn the answers to these questions, but it’s obvious why this franchise never reached movie #19.

#3: “Alien Resurrection” (1997)

“Alien” franchise (1979-)

On the heels of two sci-fi masterpieces, “Alien 3” left audiences everywhere with a sour taste in their mouths. Seeing how it killed off Ellen Ripley, though, at least there was no way Hollywood could milk another horrible sequel out of this exhausted franchise… right? Not only did the studio dig up Ripley for a fourth film nobody asked for, but they further proved that any sequel with “Resurrection” in the title is pretty much guaranteed to suck. While you could argue that “Alien 3” was the more unpleasant film to sit through, “Alien Resurrection” is especially infuriating for leaving one of the greatest action heroines of all time on such a lame note.

#2: “Batman & Robin” (1997)

“Batman” franchise (1989-)

We might be able to forgive “Batman & Robin” for its painful puns, scenery-chewing performances, and unapologetically cheesy nature if it were a standalone homage to the Adam West series. What really gets under our skin is that the film apparently takes place in the same universe as Tim Burton’s “Batman” movies. Watching the Caped Crusader go from Michael Keaton’s brooding, complex portrayal to George Clooney’s tongue-in-cheek depiction is agonizing for anyone who grew up admiring this hero. As grateful as we are that Christopher Nolan would eventually come along and restore Batman’s good name, we’ll never be able to get over the fact that this was the final film in the initial series.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions:

“Hannibal Rising”

“Hannibal Lecter” franchise (1991-2007)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” (1993)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise (1990-)

“The Hangover Part III” (2013)

“The Hangover” franchise (2009-13)

#1: “The Matrix Revolutions” (2003)

“The Matrix” franchise (1999-2003)

“The Matrix” opened a door of fascinating possibilities and felt like the beginning of Hollywood’s next great franchise. The story lost significant momentum with “The Matrix Reloaded,” though, and “The Matrix Revolutions” made us wish the Wachowskis had just kept the original self-contained. Nothing interesting is learned about this world’s mythology, major characters unceremoniously die, the action feels uninspired compared to its predecessors - and don’t even get us started on that freaking sunset. Stacked up against some of the other sequels on this list, “Revolutions” may not be the absolute worst per se. As far as endings go, however, this is the most disappointing conclusion imaginable for a franchise that started off so strong.

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