Prequel-itis: Causes, symptoms, and cures

Symptoms of prequel-itis, in TV shows specifically, include 1) pointless cameos and foreshadowing for the sake of fan service and 2) backtracking to keep the plot from progressing "too far," which would result in the show ending. Examples of victims include Gotham, Smallville, and Merlin.
What I don’t know about, and what I’d be interested in reading, is possible cures for this problem. I am unfamiliar with the Star Wars cartoon prequels, but I’m told they do a better job, so they may hold answers.
Another possible piece of this topic is causes of prequel-itis. Why do prequels exhibit these problems so often? Is there something inherently problematic with prequels in general?

  • Sounds like a good topic in my opinion. Although a more specific definition of prequel-itis would definitely help. You might also include a third point to them. Which is: retroactively improving the already established lore and story of the series. The best example for this include the Walking Dead, as well as Flash. Looking forward to reading about this topic :) – shehrozeameen 7 years ago
  • @shehrozeameen Prequel-itis, as I see it, is like a syndrome, a set of symptoms that commonly occur together. There isn't really a definition other than "a set of symptoms experienced by prequels including x, y, z...." If the author of the topic could think of a specific definition, of course, he/she'd be welcome to apply it. – noahspud 7 years ago
  • I'd certainly be interested to read this. Would you also consider doing one for sequelitis, because there are a ton of bad sequels out there. Disney is particularly guilty when it comes to both prequels and sequels. They're also fond of the midquel for some reason. – Stephanie M. 7 years ago
  • To be clear, this topic is a suggestion for someone else to write (that's how this works). Also, you do have a point, but sequelitis is a separate thing, and I felt that prequelitis was a topical subject that hadn't gotten much attention. – noahspud 7 years ago
  • I think this is a very interesting topic but I disagree with Merlin being placed in the prequel category. Although the show did begin before Arthur was King, the show very much did hit every major event in Arthurian Legend. It included everything from the sword in the stone, knights of the round table, Guinevere's Affair and Arthur's (spoiler alert) eventual death in the series finale. I'd argue that rather than backtracking, the show fast forwarded a bit to hit all these plot points before their pre-decided series end in season 5. The only real difference was that Merlin was depicted as young rather than a wizened old sorcerer adviser. (The series has a host of finale issues that I could probably write a whole different article about but that's not relevant to this comment) – LC Morisset 7 years ago
  • Fair point. Except for the first, what, three seasons, Arthur isn't king, Morgan isn't evil, and Merlin isn't a respected advisor. So it certainly begins as a prequel, and it does indeed backtrack: Arthur starts to think magic is okay. Merlin almost tells his secret. Something bad happens. Arthur is once again convinced that magic is bad. Repeat. Morgan dies as punishment for her bad deeds. Oh wait, she has more to do later. Let's bring her back and let her sit in a cottage for a year. All the Arthurian mythology stuff happens in those last couple seasons, and we see the set up for all of them: the lady in the lake, Excalibur, each major knight of the round table, and Morgan's descent into villainy. I call that a prequel. – noahspud 7 years ago

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