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What Makes a Sequel Worth Telling?

Sequels are almost always what follow a successful film but what actually makes a sequel as good or better than the original? Everyone’s seen a sequel that they thought was either an obvious step down from the original or didn’t have a real reason to exist but a sequel that surpasses or keeps up with its previous iteration are much rarer. So what are the factors that actually make the story in a sequel story worth telling? Obviously if the production is good then you could make a case for it but what narrative factors influence the worth of a sequel being told? And what are the unique characteristics of those sequels that did actually surpass their originals? What made them great?

  • I think this is a good discussion topic, especially seeing all the new sequels coming out. Could you give some examples to help narrow down the discussion? – birdienumnum17 4 years ago
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  • I would say some really good ones to talk about would be the Harry Potter series, Hunger games, Divergent series and Fast and Furious. These are the ones I could think of from the top of my head :) – claraaa 4 years ago
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  • You're right I should have included some examples. The specific upcoming films that gave me the idea were actually Blade Runner 2049 and the new Pirates of the Caribbean. I think these would be good to talk about as the latter will probably fall into the "doesn't need to exist" category while the former could really go either way (I have unrealistically high hopes.) – JakeV 4 years ago
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  • I think this question is also applicable to book and television series.The largest draw for me to continue on with the sequel is if I find the main characters' stories unfinished. If readers or the audience are only there for compelling characters they genuinely care about, and those characters have "completed their arc" so to speak, there isn't really much motivation to pick up the sequel (in my opinion) where in most cases, are sustained through the introduction of new characters and less-than-spectacular plots that sometimes mar the main characters' consistency and lack purpose. What is the point in writing this sequel? (Perhaps for commercial purposes/ entertainment value if the first book/movie/season is well-received?) (I guess this wasn't so much a "helpful note" as it was an opinion. Apologies!) – autumnlights 4 years ago
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  • You could also look at Blade Runner 2049 and the new seasons of The X Files and Twin Peaks and Prison Break that have come out decades after the original. Isn't there a reason there wasn't a Blade Runner sequel in the 80s - and a reason all those shows were cancelled? – sophievannan 4 years ago
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  • My primary reason to watch a sequel is, did the characters make me say, "I want to see what happens to them next?" Did they make me say, "I miss/want to spend more time with these people?" If not, then it's likely I won't watch that sequel. – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
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  • If you run out of examples, you could even expand on this and talk about the modern remakes they're doing of movies. What makes these new elements worth telling? Doesn't the original stand on it's own? – Dani 4 years ago
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  • I think this is a more interesting discussion in the context of stories that didn't specifically set out to be a series. My favourite example is Toy Story. Toy Story 2 is a great movie and many would say better than the first. What makes it a sequel worth watching? It doesn't directly continue the story of the first film, instead it presents the characters with new challenges that build on the growth seen in the first film. – MarcoMorgan 4 years ago
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