AskDefine | Define sequel

Dictionary Definition



1 something that follows something else [syn: subsequence]
2 a part added to a book or play that continues and extends it [syn: continuation]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈsiːkwəl/, /"si:kw@l/


  1. A narrative that is written after another narrative set in the same universe, especially a narrative that is chronologically set after its predecessors, or (perhaps improper usage) any narrative that has a preceding narrative of its own.

Related terms


Extensive Definition

A sequel is a work in literature, film, or other media that portrays events following those of a previous work.
In many cases, the sequel continues elements of the original story, often with the same characters and settings. A sequel can lead to a series, in which key elements appear in a number of stories. Although the difference between more than one sequel and a series is somewhat arbitrary, it is clear that some media franchises have enough sequels to become series, whether originally planned as such or not.
Sequels are attractive to creators and to publishers because there is less risk involved in returning to a story with known popularity rather than developing new and untested characters and settings. Audiences are sometimes eager for more stories about popular characters or settings, making the production of sequels financially appealing.
If the main character dies at the end of the first work, a new character (perhaps a son or daughter, or a supporting character) may take up the role in the sequel. In other cases, the main character is simply brought back, or determined not to have died, or simply replaced by a new character.


There are a number of ways that subsequent works can be related to chronology of the original. Various neologisms have been coined to describe them.


The most obvious approach is for the events of the second work to directly follow the events of the first, either picking up dangling plot threads or introducing a new conflict to drive the events of a second story. Because this is most common, there is no special term for it.


A sequel that portrays events which precede those of the original work, called a "prequel". These can often avoid the plot problems associated with having to deal with the consequences of the original (e.g. the death of an important character). However they pose the challenge of maintaining dramatic interest when the outcome is already known from the original work, so the focus is usually on the character interactions and/or revealing how the characters and situations of the original work developed.


When there are already two or more completed works, a sequel can portray events which happen between them, bridging one story to the other. An "interquel" is therefore a sequel to one work and a prequel to another. The video game Metroid Prime was released after Metroid and Metroid II, but takes place between them; the same is true for Devil May Cry 4 which takes place between Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2. This is more common in ancillary works in other media rather than works in a popular series. For example, the novel The Godfather Returns takes place between the events of the films The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and the Star Wars multimedia project Shadows of the Empire takes place between the films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.


Similarly, a midquel can take place during a chronology gap within a single previously completed work. For example, the video game Daxter takes place during a two-year gap in Jak II, between the moments when the character of Jak is taken prisoner and when he is rescued. Another "midquel" would be the film Bambi II, which starts out shortly after the death of the young deer's mother in Bambi, but before the later scenes in which he is an adult. In recent work the horror movies Saw III and Saw IV run at the same time and meet up at one point in the end.


A sequel can portray the events of a previously completed work from another perspective. As with a prequel, the focus is not on the outcome, but on the characters and previously unrevealed information. For example, the novel Ender's Shadow covers the events of the previous novel Ender's Game from the point of view of a supporting character in the original. The film The Lion King 1½ is a "parallel" of The Lion King; the same story is told, only from the point of view of Timon and Pumbaa, secondary characters in the original film. The first three novels in author E. E. Knights Age of Fire series all take place at the same time, yet each book is told from a different character's point of view - the first, Dragon Champion, from grey scaleless dragon Auron's; the second, Dragon Avenger, from his sister Wistala; and the third, Dragon Outcast, from his unnamed copper brother.


Sometimes there is a large chronological interval between the events in a completed work and its sequel. This can allow the creators additional freedom, since the characters and settings will not be expected to have as much in common. A distant sequel allows time for new conflicts to develop, and a distant prequel need not directly establish the setting for the original. Speaker for the Dead is an extreme example of this, set 3,000 years after the novel Ender's Game. Some of the sequels and prequels in the Chronicles of Narnia series are separated by centuries in the chronology of the fantasy land and/or decades in the chronology of the real world. The series Star Trek: The Next Generation follows the events of the original Star Trek by several decades. More moderate chronological distances can result from works being set in "the present" but released years apart, such as The Terminator and its sequels, released in 1984, 1991, and 2003.


A variety of sequel that allows substantial creative freedom is one that is set in the same "universe" as the original work, but with unrelated plots, and sometimes unrelated characters. Screenwriter David Peoples described his film Soldier as a "sidequel" to Blade Runner (which he co-wrote). When done with the intention of launching a new series of stories, these are often called "spin-offs". See also: gaiden.

Companion piece

A companion piece is a creative work that is produced as a complementary work to another stand-alone project, but storywise has nothing to do with its predecessor. While a companion piece does not necessarily need to take place within the same "universe" as the predecessor, it must follow-up on specific themes and ideas introduced in the original work. It must also be intentionally meant by its creator to be viewed alongside or within the same context as the earlier work. Examples would include Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood's companion piece to his earlier picture, Flags of Our Fathers), the Road to... pictures starring Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, and Bob Hope, and films featuring the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, or the Tramp.


Very rarely, a sequel to a sequel is called a "threequel" or (less commonly) "triquel". When the third work is (or is expected to be) the last, the works may be collectively known as a "trilogy". If there are exactly three sequels, it may be called a Quartet, such as the Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle. When more than two or three sequels are produced, they are commonly called a "series," or, less commonly, an "anthology."

Media franchises

In some cases, the characters or setting of an original film or video game become so valuable that they develop into a media franchise. Generally a whole series of sequels is made, along with merchandising. Multiple sequels are often planned well in advance and actors and directors may sign extended contracts to ensure their participation. A huge example of this is Pokemon.

Media shifting

Sequels are most often produced in the same medium as the previous work (e.g. a film sequel is usually a sequel to another film). Producing sequels to a work in another medium has recently become common, especially when the new medium is less costly or time-consuming to produce.
A sequel to a popular – but discontinued – television series may be produced in another medium, thereby bypassing whatever factors led to the series cancellation. Noteworthy examples include the Star Trek films , Serenity (based on the Firefly series), and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series was continued after cancellation for another "season" as a comic book.
Some highly popular movies and television series have inspired the production of multiple novel sequels, sometimes rivaling or even dwarfing the volume of works in the original medium. An ongoing series of novels (largely interquels) begun in the 1970s were based on the original Star Trek series, with more following with the sequel films and TV series. The novels and graphic novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe are sequels, prequels, and interquels to the films.
Computer games are an increasingly common medium for sequels to films. The Matrix Online, Stranglehold, and Scarface: The World is Yours are sequels to the films The Matrix, Hard Boiled, and Scarface, respectively.
Whether these alternate-medium sequels are considered canonical varies. Final Fantasy VII Advent Children was produced by the same company responsible for Final Fantasy VII and is therefore canonical, but other sequel or prequel films based on video games, such as Resident Evil, are not. Bungie Studios, the developer of the Halo video games, considers the novel sequels to be canonical. The novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe are considered canonical by Lucasfilm, the films' production company, though this is often debated amongst fans. Likewise, the Blade Runner sequel novels are authorized and officially considered canonical, but the issue is also a topic of debate amongst fans.

Unofficial sequels

Sometimes sequels are produced without the consent of the creator of the original work. These may be dubbed unofficial, informal, unauthorized, or illegitimate sequels. In some cases, the work is in the public domain, and there is no legal obstacle to producing sequels, for example Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea as a parallel to Jane Eyre. In other cases, the original creator or their heirs may assert copyrights and challenge the creators of the sequels. For example, the estate of Margaret Mitchell sued over Alice Randall's novel The Wind Done Gone, a parallel of Gone with the Wind told from the perspective of the slaves; it was successfully defended as parody. Unofficial sequels to works that are still under copyright may change the names of the characters and alter the settings in an attempt to avoid legal action.

Sequel titles

The producers of sequels have taken a variety of approaches to titling their works.
In the early years of film, sequels were generally given titles similar to the original and usually made use of the main character's name. When the William Powell-Myrna Loy mystery film The Thin Man (1934) turned out to be a hit, the studio produced several more films featuring the characters, such as After the Thin Man and The Thin Man Goes Home, even though the original "thin man" was the subject of the mystery and not the detective. After the success of A Family Affair (1937), there came a whole series of films starring Mickey Rooney reprising the Andy Hardy character in titles such as Love Finds Andy Hardy and Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.
The James Bond franchise, however, stuck to the titles of Ian Fleming's novels until they ran out, then fashioned new titles with similar forms, none of which use the name "James Bond 007" or a number. The Pink Panther series started out with a different title for each (The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, Inspector Clouseau) in the 1960s. When the series was resumed after a six year gap, the new approach was to append phrases to "The Pink Panther", many of which came from classic horror films, i.e. Son of Frankenstein, The Mummy's Curse. Even if the actual Pink Panther diamond that the series takes its name from is not involved in a given sequel, they were named with "Return of", "Strikes Again", "Revenge of", "Trail of", "Curse of" and "Son of" the Pink Panther to clearly associate them with each other.
Numbered sequels (particularly using Roman numerals) became very popular in films and video games in the 1970s and 1980s. The Godfather Part II (1974) was the first major motion picture to use Part II in the title. The success of The Godfather, Part II began the Hollywood tradition of numbered sequels; the first sequel to designate itself as such simply by using a number in the title was 1975's French Connection II, and the trend continued with films such as Rocky II, Jaws 2 and Halloween II. Occasionally, a homophonous word is substituted for the number, such as in the case of Look Who's Talking Too, the sequel to Look Who's Talking, or the upcoming film Fletch Won, which is a prequel to the film Fletch. As sequels developed a reputation of being inferior to the original works, the numbering of sequels became less common, or sometimes used for humorous effect. Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult is simply the third in the Naked Gun series. Leonard Part 6 had no predecessors, while History of the World, Part I was made with no intention for a sequel. Many sequels use subtitles instead of numbers or in addition to them, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Underworld: Evolution, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. In other cases, sequels use titles similar to their predecessors, such as Analyze This sequel Analyze That, Meet the Parents sequel Meet the Fockers, and Day of the Dead sequel Land of the Dead. Some such titles give a playful nod to the numbering practice, as with The Whole Nine Yards sequel The Whole Ten Yards, or Ocean's Eleven sequels Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.
Throughout this period of numbered sequels, like-named sequels remained somewhat popular, and sometimes the original film was renamed when it was released on home video to match the naming of the sequels. What was once known as Star Wars is now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark is known in its current video release as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark to better align it with its prequel and sequel, and the DVD of Pitch Black was renamed "The Chronicles Of Riddick: Pitch Black" to help promote it as a predecessor to its sequel The Chronicles Of Riddick.
With the rise of pre-planned series such as The Lord of the Rings, filmmakers turned more to long titles that include the franchise name and the title of the film separated by a colon. Examples of these include Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Sequel-naming in translation varies. Following the success of Home Alone in Germany (German title: "Allein zu Haus" "Alone at home"), some of Macaulay Culkin's other films were retronymed to capitalise on the success (Uncle Buck became "Allein mit Onkel Buck" "Alone with Uncle Buck"), even though the two films were not linked in the same continuity. When Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy under the title Zombi, a similar but unrelated Italian film was in production, which was released as Zombi 2.
Numbers in the titles of sequels sometimes indicate the order in which the sequel was produced, regardless of the chronological events in the story. For example, the video game Devil May Cry 3 was the third title in the Devil May Cry series to be produced, though it is a prequel that takes place before the events of Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2. The upcoming Devil May Cry 4 is an interquel set between the original game and Devil May Cry 2. However, while the sequel to the Japanese movie Ring was called Ring 2, the subsequent prequel was Ring 0.
Occasionally a work is designated as a sequel to an unrelated but similar work strictly for marketing purposes. After releasing the computer game Quake, developer id Software decided to name its next game Quake II, despite the fact that the two games are completely unrelated. Quake III is also unrelated to either of the previous Quake games, although Quake 4 continues the story of Quake II.
In recent years, many sequels have been given the name of the title character, to imply a new beginning for a series. For example, the sixth Rocky film was titled Rocky Balboa; the sixth St Trinian's film was titled St. Trinian's; and the fourth Rambo movie, following on from First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo III was called Rambo.
sequel in Danish: Sequel
sequel in German: Fortsetzung
sequel in Spanish: Secuela
sequel in French: Suite d'une œuvre
sequel in Italian: Sequel
sequel in Dutch: Sequel (amusement)
sequel in Norwegian: Oppfølger
sequel in Polish: Sequel
sequel in Russian: Сиквел (искусство)
sequel in Albanian: Sequel
sequel in Simple English: Sequel
sequel in Swedish: Uppföljare
sequel in Ukrainian: Сиквел

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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