It’s exceedingly rare to find a sequel that’s better than its original—with Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 pretty much being the only exceptions. Even though sequels are, pretty much by law, inherently worse than the ones upon which they are originally based, everyone is usually aware that they, at least, exist. A list documenting such endeavors (horrible sequels everyone knows about) would be too ambitious of a task to take on, which is partly why we’re not writing about them now.
This list, on the other hand, is a compilation of sequels so atrocious that no one ended up hearing about them, despite many of them being follow-ups to not just commercially successful movies but also critically acclaimed ones.
In this list, some of the ostensible correlations that many of these follow-ups have to their originals (which are usually why they are even considered sequels in the first place) are just so absurd–due to the fact that their “connections” are few and far between–are incredibly weak or are just a complete stretch that it feels as though the “sequels” may have just been made a sequel to the original blockbuster hit as some sort of easy moneymaking scheme to try and reap the benefits that come with such an association. For one movie on this list, this is actually the case.
As you’ll notice, many of the sequels are so forgetful (despite the fact that you probably haven’t even heard of them in the first place, making it impossible to forget them) because they don’t even feature the same actors. In others, they kept the characters we all fell in love with but had them portrayed by a different actor. But the worst ones on this list are those that actually did keep the same characters and same actors…but still sucked.
15 The Land Before Time: Journey Of The Brave
Just like how the setting of the first Land Before Time movie was marketed as a land that existed before there was time, that film will forever be perceived as timeless. But everything else after it now has a timer that went off before their opening credits. Their time ran out just like the dinosaurs.
For those who grew up with The Land Before Time, there’s a running joke concerning its sequels where these nostalgic fans poke fun at how absurdly prolific the writers have been since the first film. The punchline generally involves someone associating the hypothetical latest installment with an outlandishly high number, the best ones being oddly specific like the Land Before Time 152. Well, the actual number of this latest installment is 14: The Land Before Time XIV: Journey of the Brave.
The original gang is all there—Littlefoot the Apatosaurus, Ducky the Saurolophus, Cera the Triceratops, Petrie the Pteranodon, and Spike the Stegosaurus—even though the casting of said characters has changed…many times.
This time, Littlefoot and the gang went out on a brave journey to find Littlefoot’s dad, Bron, who was stranded in the wilderness when the “fire mountain” erupted. There are so many movies now that it’s just ridiculous. Just stop. They found the Great Valley. The story is over. Done! Kapoot! Finished!
14 Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr.
What do all of the following movies—Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and its sequel Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls—have in common? They revolve around the eccentric insanities of the unduplicatable character Ace Ventura, played by the one-of-a-kind actor, Jim Carrey. It’s not that hard to make such a realization. Ace’s name is in the freakin’ title!
Knowing this, you’d think a film called Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr. would also include the eponymous pet detective, Ace. There could be nothing farther from the truth.
The fact that Jim Carrey isn’t in the film is a heresy. His portrayal of Ace has gotten the film’s protagonist ranked as the 60th greatest movie character in a 2008 list by Empire Magazine. (Ace was also voted as one of the most annoying film characters in a British online poll.)
While the main character in Pet Detective, Junior (Josh Flitter), shared his father’s namesake, that was the only connection that we ever got to Jim. Instead, we had to watch Junior through the course of the film, trying to save his mother–not his father–from going to jail, an endeavor that forced Junior to follow in the real Ace’s footsteps.
13 Home Alone: The Holiday Heist
Kevin McCallister is the Home Alone kid. And Kevin should always be played by Macaulay Culkin. There’s a reason why people actually know about the first Home Alone sequel, Lost in New York, because Kevin’s same parents (Peter and Kate) lose him when Kevin takes the wrong plane, going to New York City instead of Florida for a family vacation. And, of course, Kevin runs into the same criminal duo who had tried to burgle his home in the first movie, Harry and Marv.
But then, Home Alone 3 came out with different actors and a different storyline. Then came Home Alone 4, which involved some of the same characters from the first two films (except being portrayed by different actors) and then The Holiday Heist.
Like Home Alone 3, the McCallister family in The Holiday Heist weren’t present, and the kid who ended up being left at home alone wasn’t Kevin, nor was he played by Macaulay.
12 Legally Blondes
Legally Blonde is a guilty pleasure for many men (and macho women who already aren’t inclined to like chick flicks). Even people who can’t stand Reese Witherspoon, can, at least, stand her to some degree in this film.
Reese’s portrayal of the overly blonde Elle Woods was so exaggerated that it’s just freakin’ adorable and, in the worst case scenario, borderline aggravating...but not actually aggravating.
It made such a positive impression on many of us that when its sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, came out, we were at least curious to see what it would be like.
But it was bad. Real bad. So when the franchise spit out a spin-off called Legally Blondes, no one bothered to check it out. Or we just never heard about it.
Although Elle Woods was referenced a good amount of times (so much so that it somehow made the already weak tie-in factor even feebler), Elle never actually made an appearance, not even a brief cameo! Instead, we got Elle’s so-called cousins, Isabelle “Izzy” (Rebecca Rosso) and Annabelle “Annie” Woods (Camilla Rosso). Yuck!
11 Tooth Fairy 2
The first Tooth Fairy was already painful to watch. The only thing that made it “worth” our while was that we got to see Dwayne Johnson’s character, Derek Thompson, wear a tooth fairy outfit. (It’s ridiculous because he’s an overly muscular manly man.)
You might think that the stupidity of a grown dude wearing a costume with wings would be successful (because who doesn’t enjoy a good freak show?).
But that’s not the case. No one was even slightly curious to see what Tooth Fairy 2 brought to the table, where Larry The Cable Guy–and not The Rock–played as the tooth fairy and donned a pink fairy outfit.
Basically, the entirety of Tooth Fairy 2 could have just been reduced to some sort of brief “side story” in the original film to add some extra stupidity to an already stupid release. It doesn’t warrant a whole extra 90 minutes of footage!
10 The Brady Bunch In The White House
Nothing can ever, ever, ever beat the purity and overall classic appeal of the TV American sitcom The Brady Bunch. It’s been culturally referenced hundreds of times across a copious amount of mediums and has more importantly been cited as being a major influence for an endless number of television shows.
But then, years after the series finale, Hollywood thought it would be a great idea to try and bring it back (and in turn, bring back the millions of original fans of The Brady Bunch) by making a film adaptation. That’s when we were all subjected to The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995 and then, again, to its sequel, The Very Brady Sequel, the following year.
While nothing like the TV show, these films were not only successes but received mostly positive praise from critics, save for The Very Brady Sequel. And that’s because the main cast starred in them. But then, along came The Brady Bunch in the White House in 2002. Sure, Shelley Long and Gary Cole were there, but the Brady kids and Alice were recast. In a way, only having part of the original cast return for this bombshell was worse than just casting everyone from scratch.
It was weird seeing Mike and Carol Brady as the parents of different children. It was as though an alien came down, abducted the original children, replaced them, and then swiped Mike and Carol’s memories, making them believe that their children’s replacements were their real offspring. It was creepy and weird and wrong.
Sure, the “purity” of the Brady family seemed legit in the...in the White House movie (Mike Brady found a lottery ticket, tried to return it to the original owner, and when that was impossible, donated it to charity, thus leading to them being invited to the White House), but that ‘70s charm was also replaced with the anything-but-innocent cacophony of the new millennium. There’s nothing adorable or pure about the 2000’s.
9 I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer
The best thing about this sequel is the name. After the first film, I Know What You Did Last Summer, each follow-up took that original word-heavy title and altered it slightly in an amusing way that extended and, in turn, intensified how the “I” in the title knows what the “You” had done in the summer before by going from “still” to “always.” (The second movie was I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and the third, which is the subject of this particular entry, was I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.)
Even though the title of the final installment was not only the best of the three but, grammatically, put the pattern to a close (thankfully), there was nothing in it that really connected it to the previous two.
See, the first and second films not only shared a plotline, but revolved around the same group of people, the most important one being Jennifer Love Hewitt. Meanwhile, the third not only started a completely new plotline, but introduced a new cast of characters without Jennifer Love Hewitt. While the first two “I Know/Summer” films were generic slasher films, they were generic slasher films with Jennifer Love Hewitt. The final “I Know” installment was a generic slasher film without Jennifer Love Hewitt. That makes it just a generic slasher film.
It’s hard...nay...downright impossible to replace Nicolas Cage. That guy is one intense actor, and when we say “intense,” we mean that his overly emphatic acting style can never be successfully emulated by anyone...ever.
And that’s why 8mm2 failed (and why no one knew about it). There was no Nicolas Cage (who starred in 8mm), and there were no references to him or his shenanigans in 8mm2. That’s because 8mm2 literally had pretty much nothing to do with the first one.
In fact, this sequel could have actually been “fine” if Sony hadn’t gotten involved because, before they did, the film was called The Velvet Side of Hell. But when Sony took over, they thought it would be a great idea to distribute it as 8mm2.
The concept was ambitious, but it failed…horribly. Because 8mm2 will forever be associated with 8mm, it will forever be rated on the same scale as 8mm (setting the bar extremely high). In other words, it made the likelihood of 8mm2 becoming a hit close to zero.
It’s quite possible that if the name hadn’t been changed, we could’ve just enjoyed it for being a crappy thriller instead of it being associated to the amazingness that is 8mm. See, the overall premise of the 8mm2 was intriguing because it involved a ménage à trois—you know, the good one (not a devil’s three-way)—and blackmail. But as a sequel, we can only see this ménage à trois as a disturbing stain on the legacy of 8mm in a rather unsettling area.
7 The Butterfly Effect 2
Say what you will about Ashton Kutcher. Heck, say what you will about The Butterfly Effect. You gotta admit that Ashton’s character (Evan Treborn) wasn’t at all like the usual jokester/idiot-type dumba*ses he normally portrays and that this movie wasn’t one of the usual jokester/idiot-type films he normally acts in as that usual jokester/idiot-type dumba*s.
It’s one seriously dark, messed up story. And Evan goes through some seriously dark, messed up stuff. There’s nothing goofy about a dog getting abused. You know what we’re talking about. No need to actually describe it.
Because of how much Ashton diverged from his norm and how intriguing the overall concept of The Butterfly Effect was (even though you may think the script sucked), it gave any sort of potential follow-up the impossible task of actually shining. And The Butterfly Effect 2 did everything but shine.
6 Mean Girls 2
One of the many reasons why Mean Girls worked so well is because Lindsay Lohan was in it. The fact that she was an “actress” in Mean Girls is a good thing, not because of her acting prowess (hence, why we put the word actress in quotes earlier), but since Lindsay portrayed a character (named Cady Heron) who ended up becoming one hell of a b*tch.
And this was definitely a good thing for two reasons. One, because Lindsay is a b*tch in real life (which means that her performance was extremely convincing). Two, it’s easy to hate Lindsay, and Cady is a character who’s so unlikable.
Mean Girls was also written by Tina Fey (which is also a good thing in this case). Tina is extremely funny when she’s in charge of writing a script but isn’t when she’s the one reading the script.
But then, a sequel came out. And you didn’t know about it because it was a straight-to-TV endeavor. Well, that’s not the real reason why you never heard about it, but it was definitely a contributing factor. Cady Heron didn’t make an appearance, which means that, no, Lindsay was not in the film. Tina Fey also wasn’t part of the production either. (At least Tina Fey wasn’t cast.)
The only character from the first Mean Girls who made an appearance was Principal Ron Duvall, played by Tim Meadows. Lame.
5 Starship Troopers 3: Marauder
Every shoot-‘em-up film where the ‘em that’s being shot up are giant space alien bugs should–by rule of awesomeness–well, be awesome.
While always a ubiquitous truth, this certainty was exemplified when Starship Troops came out, which introduced us to Johnny Rico who battled in the interstellar war against an insectoid species known as Arachnids. But, like everything else, there are always exceptions to rules, and the sequels to Starship Troopers are undeniable proof of the existence of exceptions.
Many of the people reading this are probably in complete shock about there having been one sequel to Starship Troopers, let alone two.
But it’s true. Even though Starship Troopers 3: Marauder was actually not that bad (because it was an exact replica of the first movie with troopers on starships, which was a good thing), the fact that the first sequel, Hero of the Federation, was completely awful, made it that much easier for Marauder to just fall off the map. And it did. In addition to featuring a horribly-written plot, the story in Hero of the Federation didn’t involve Johnny Rico. Instead, it followed a new squad of soldiers. And, ironically, Johnny Rico was in Marauder. Such a shame.
4 American Psycho 2
American Psycho was a masterpiece. There’s a reason why it’s been included in various forms of academic work, wherein their authors, in many cases, examined the film through the lens of social criticism.
All that aside, most of its well-deserved praise stems from how psychotic Christian Bale actually made the eponymously labeled American psycho, named Patrick Bateman, most especially how aptly Bale portrayed Patrick’s rather intense downward spiral into madness. Even though the immensely talented Mila Kunis was chosen as the lead in American Psycho 2 (a release that was directed by yet another incredibly talented actor, Morgan Freeman), the film just didn’t work and eventually faded into oblivion.
Even though American Psycho 2 showed Patrick Bateman’s apparent death (except that it wasn’t really Patrick Bateman who died because Patrick wasn’t played by Christian Bale but Michael Kremko in a face mask), the sequel was still a dud. Heck, Bret Easton Ellis, the author of the book, which influenced the first film, has denounced American Psycho 2.
3 S Darko
Donnie Darko is a cult classic. That’s all we really need to say. But, we need more words, so we can’t just stop there.
Due to just how well actor Jake Gyllenhaal portrayed the titular Donnie Darko (as a troubled boy wrestling with Doomsday-related visions) as well as how effectively director Richard Kelly was able to seamlessly create a sinister and dark atmosphere that invited further interpretation made it so when S Darko became its “sequel,” it was a travesty.
Heck, Richard Kelly has shared very strong words about S Darko saying that he hates it when people blame him or hold him responsible for the sequel, “I hate when people ask me about that because I’ve never seen it and I never will.”
Sure, there are elements in S Darko that are “connected” to the original, but said elements are extremely weak and don’t successfully tether the two together. Sure, a Darko is the main star (her name is Samantha; hence, the title of the movie) and there’s sleepwalking involved, but that’s pretty much it.
2 The Sandlot 2
It wouldn’t be pushing it to say that the 1993 coming-of-age baseball film The Sandlot is a classic. It would be, however, pushing it to say that its sequel, The Sandlot 2, is as well. Heck, it’s pushing it to say that The Sandlot 2 is just an okay film.
What made the first (and in our humblest opinion) and only Sandlot movie so great were the kids and, most importantly, their innocence. And they’re all gone in The Sandlot 2. It features a whole new slew of delinquents, which makes the whole thing cringe-worthy. If the casting had been good, then maybe...just maybe...this complete strikeout could’ve been “okay.”
The only “good” thing about this “sequel” is that the kid who played Thurman Merman in the hilariously dark Bad Santa (Brett Edward Kelly). And that’s not saying much. We like Thurman Merman more. A lot more.
Even if the creators of The Sandlot 2 were interested in bringing the original cast back to try and create the same effect as in The Sandlot, the fact that The Sandlot 2 was made over a decade after the first, made such an endeavor impossible. Sure, the creators could have tried to make a flick where the same kids were all grown up, but then it really wouldn’t be a Sandlot movie, would it?
But then again, The Sandlot 2 isn’t really a Sandlot movie.
1 The Star Wars Holiday Special
In a way, this sequel (which is, yes, actually legit) could be known as Episode 4.5 (or IV.V if you’re a purist and only go by the numerations as they’re presented in each episode’s opening narrative scroll) because the Holiday Special came out in 1978, between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
It was horrible. And that’s interesting because George Lucas wasn’t involved at all. Based on the colossally negative feedback the prequel trilogy received (which fans have blamed solely on George Lucas’ shoulders), you would think that since Lucas wasn’t involved in the Star Wars Holiday Special, then it should be good.
It should, but it’s not. You might also think that since the film revolved around Chewbacca’s family, that should make it good. You might really think that it should be good because Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford were in it too.
Nope! Ford called the film “an embarrassment,” and Fisher referred to it as “awful.” Because Lucas also hated it, the holiday special was never released on VHS or DVD. You can find it on YouTube, though.