If you’ve ever seen a trailer to a sequel of one your favorite movies, you know what it’s like to be emotionally conflicted. On one hand, you would love to see the characters of a film you love back on the big screen. But on the other hand you really hope they don’t mess it up. Unfortunately, the latter happens all too often. What is a sequel to you — a promise of greatness or the threat of failure?

In a time when Hollywood is cranking out more franchises, remakes, and reboots than ever before, it’s important to understand the differences between the three. And why many sequels are so bad, yet some prove to be even better than the originals. Let’s take a look.

What is a sequel movie?

First, let’s define sequel

There are a lot of terms that come with film franchises and series. But what is a sequel movie? Before we take a look at what makes them bad or good, we must first understand "what does sequel mean?" with a quick definition. 


What is a sequel?

A sequel is a film that comes directly after another film in a series and derives from the story events of that film. A film series itself is defined by multiple sequels. These movies often have overlapping characters, plot elements, and visual characteristics. Many iconic sequels frequently fall under the genre of action, horror, science-fiction, or comic book films. 

Famous Movie Sequels:

  • The Godfather Part II (1974)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  • The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Define sequel 

Sequels vs. reboots vs. remakes

There is often confusion when it comes to the differences between a sequel and a reboot. Let’s clear that up. A sequel must derive from the story events of the first, original film. For example Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) follows Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) because it is a continuation of the original film’s plot with many of the same characters. 

Sequels are commonly mistaken for reboots or remakes. To better understand the differences between the three, take a look at this video that clearly defines the reboot and the remake.

What is a Sequel vs Reboot vs Remake

To recap the video, a reboot is a restart of the continuity of a concept, world, or character without retelling the same story. One of the most frequent and famous movie reboots examples is Batman. While there are various Batman films throughout cinema, including the new adaptation, The Batman, they all roughly tell unique stories in every reboot.

A remake is a recreation of a story that has been told before. In a remake, the story of the film is taken from the story of a film that has been previously created. Some notable examples are Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) starring Gene Wilder and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) starring Johnny Depp. Disney has taken action in remaking plenty of the best animated films into live-action movies. But despite the alteration in visual form, they are still remakes.

Now that we’ve clearly defined the differences between remakes, reboots, and movie sequels, let’s dive deeper into the latter for a few good and bad examples.

What is a sequel?

What makes a sequel good?

A sequel has a withstanding reputation for a being an automatically bad movie. It’s not uncommon to see the trailer of a follow-up to a great film and think, “I hope they don’t mess this up.” With so many movie sequels falling under a variety of genres such as comedy, horror, action, and science fiction, it’s hard to put a finger on what makes them frequently bad.

Instead of focusing on why are so many "part 2's" are so bad, the important question may be, “What makes a sequel good?” This video by Now You See It analyzes some of cinema's best follow-ups and what makes them hold up against their predecessors.

What is a sequel and what makes one good

As mentioned in the video, thinking of these movies as continuations rather than cheaply made remakes with slight alterations is what makes them great. Focusing on how a sequel can continue a story rather than recreate the success of a story is what makes or breaks them.

One of the most common ways great sequels achieve this is through character. Characters within a single feature length film might be limited in development. However, a "Part 2" poses an opportunity for characters to continue to grow and for audiences to develop an even greater connection to these characters. 

Throughout the Toy Story films, we see characters like Woody and Buzz grow and develop in new ways that the original couldn't have done. To get a better glimpse at how filmmakers make them great, let’s take a look at some of the best sequel examples.

Sequel meaning and examples

Best sequel examples

It’s tough watching a bad sequel. Sometimes, it makes you think that there are no good ones out there. Luckily, that isn’t true. In fact, some sequels have grown to be just as good if not even better than the original films.

Here is a video by Cinefix that covers some of the best sequels in cinema history to help you understand the term a bit better.

What is a sequel? Top 5 movies

Sequels often get a bad rap and it's no surprise why. There have been countless sequels that have flopped and failed when trying to ride the coattails of its predecessor. But as the video above proves, it’s not impossible to make a great next part. If only Hollywood would learn from some of these movies, we would waste a lot less time on those that fall into the same traps. 


Best movie sequels of all time

No one wants to waste their time watching a terrible continuation. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best sequels of all time. Which ones hold up against their original predecessors? Which ones are even better? Check out our next article to find out.

Up Next: Best Sequels →
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