6 Movie Franchises That Absolutely Refused To Die
95 percent of Hollywood movies today are sequels, reboots, or Adam Sandler atrocities. Audiences have become accustomed to studios milking the bejeezus out of a property until there's nothing left but a desiccated husk vaguely shaped like Ben Affleck. But sometimes the exploitation reaches the point of absurdity. And other times it blows right past absurdity, leaving it on the side of the road, coughing up exhaust fumes.
Bill And Ted Wore Out Their Welcome With An Unwatchable Sitcom
If you're aware that Bill and Ted went on an Excellent Adventure in 1989, chances are you also know they undertook a Bogus Journey a few years later. If you didn't pay attention, you probably assumed that was the end of it, notwithstanding a few weird toys and games.
There have been rumors of another sequel since, uh, the last sequel, but as much fun as a new romp starring a barely aging Keanu Reeves and that other guy might be, Hollywood already went in a different direction. Specifically, a hastily produced children's cartoon. All the major stars from the film reprised their roles for the first season, but when the second season debuted without Carlin, Reeves, or that other guy, the series abruptly folded.
This provided an important lesson for the keepers of the franchise: The only reason the concept worked in the first place was that viewers were invested in the original actors (see also: Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd). But studios being studios, they decided to throw common sense and decency to the wind and bring forth a live-action TV abomination so heinous that even the girl from Small Wonder shuddered to think of it.
The heretofore-delightful duo were replaced by Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy, respectively, and let's just say that they're the only main actors on the show's Wikipedia page without hyperlinks. As Variety described the situation in a review, "the problem lies in Richards' and Kennedy's charmless acting. They have none of the wit needed, and their dumbness is not endearing, only grating."
The Mighty Ducks Goes Sci-Fi
The Mighty Ducks was a box office smash in 1992, spawning a trilogy of rapidly diminishing quality, as well as a lot of ill-fated juvenile hockey careers. By the third film, Emilio Estevez could only be bothered to cameo. On the other hand, this was happening for him that same year, so ...
The Mighty Ducks even shared their name with an actual Disney-owned NHL team, and eventually their own cartoon show. It was not, as you might expect, about a ragtag group of kids getting into scrapes and learning life lessons, but anthropomorphic alien duck-people who came to Earth to fight crime, and incidentally also play hockey. It featured the voice talents of Dennis Franz and Tim Curry, the young people's favorites.
Pretty much the only upside of the whole venture is that it gave Jim Belushi a much-needed paycheck -- and no, this is not the last time he'll come up in this article.
The Blues Brothers Won't Ever, Ever, Ever Stop (Ever)
Long ago, when Saturday Night Live was young and they had only barely begun to run their best sketches into the ground, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi had a great thing going with the Blues Brothers. You of course know the classic comedy and the more questionable sequel that came 20 years later, but did you know that it went even further? Oh gosh, so much further. Even further than can be forgiven when considering Dan Aykroyd's adorable lack of restraint. First came a new album featuring an entirely different Belushi brother:
It was followed by an animated series, which Aykroyd described as "the Blues Brothers living in America and utilising all-new technology to make and promote their own records, seek out and record new artists and avoid law enforcement -- and all while fighting for truth, justice, and a better breakfast sandwich." It would be weird enough if it ended there, but there was also, let's see, a video game ...
... action figures ...
... and a radio show, in which Aykroyd remains in character as Elwood Blues to talk blues music.
Just to be clear, Aykroyd himself is a lifelong blues music fan, and a famous one. There's no reason he couldn't do a show like that as himself to equal if not greater success. He chose instead to play the less cool and charismatic half of a duo that was tragically split up decades ago. Call us, Dan. We're worried about you.
Planet Of The Apes Has Theme Park Rides
Planet Of The Apes is the classic story of ape vs. man vs. Charlton Heston. It's beloved by generations, even some of the ones who got the Mark Wahlberg version. The franchise began, as so many science fiction epics do, as a French novel by the WWII spy who wrote Bridge Over The River Kwai, which was turned into the 1968 movie we all know and love, which was followed by an increasingly strange series of sequels.
To give you an idea of how strange things got, the entire Earth and all life on it is destroyed in a nuclear cataclysm in the first sequel. Then they made three more. At that point, the copyright holders realized there were other mediums they could infect with their madness, and they expanded into a shitty TV series:
This was followed by an even shittier animated show:
And a number of different comic book series:
There was a terrible PlayStation game ...
... which had an even more terrible Game Boy version:
Even weirder is all the terrible merchandise the franchise spawned, for some reason made for children. Kids love interspecies war, right?
That's not the only way they overestimated the juvenile audience for nuclear ape-ocalyptic fiction. There have been not one but two different Planet Of The Apes theme park rides. One's being built in, of course, Dubai:
The other was in, of course, New Jersey in the 1970s:
Highlander Eventually Became A Terrible Post-Apocalyptic Cartoon
Highlander began with a simple question: What if there were ancient Scottish people, like, today? Far out, right? This is the stuff long-running series are made of. There was Highlander: Original Flavor, swiftly followed by a legendarily misguided and terrible sequel that completely rewrote the canon, and then things went really off the rails. A TV show dispensed with the main character in favor of his more budget-friendly cousin, and they started pumping out increasingly shitty movies like they knew the Highlander bubble economy was about to burst.
Along the way, those cool '80s aesthetics were lost and it turned into a literal cartoon. Twice.
It also got turned into this abomination of an Atari Jaguar game:
You play as the last descendant of Christopher Lambert in a post-apocalypse that's also kind of medieval. So, pretty far from the one-on-one sword battles in a parking garage. We haven't even gotten to the book series or the spinoff TV show featuring zero MacLeods.
And of course, what every thrilling action fantasy series needs is a Magic: The Gathering-style card game, featuring cool sword warrior cards like these:
Last but not least, there was a plethora of toys and merchandise that definitely appeared to be marketed toward children, moving somewhat away from the original audience of adults into beheadings and topless scenes.
What happened to the simple, beautiful dream of a Scottish man beheading someone for personal gain?
Stargate Has Been Spun Off In Almost Every Type Of Media Possible
In 1994, MGM released the science fiction film Stargate, starring James Spader and Kurt Russell's respective hairdos, and the entertainment world was never the same. Sure, you might be familiar with Stargate SG-1, the show that ran for ten seasons. But what about Stargate Atlantis, the SG-1 spinoff that lasted for five years? Or Stargate Universe, which lasted only two? Did you know there was a Stargate children's cartoon called Stargate: Infinity that ran 26 episodes, or a webseries called Stargate Origins, which dropped just this past year?
Looking for something more adventurous? You could ride the Stargate SG-3000 ride at Six Flags! Keep in mind, this all started with a movie that Roger Ebert argued was the legacy of Ed Wood. Imagine you fell into a 20-year coma and woke up to find that Chappie spinoffs had taken over the world, which would be a much better parallel universe story than the original Stargate ever was.
Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs.
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