Entertainment

The Best Third Films In A Movie Series 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated February 3, 2020 27.9k votes 2.2k voters 59.5k views 107 items

List Rules Only movies that have been released count, not future installments of franchises

Threequel: the third (and often final) movie in a series. A third film that follows the original and the sequel. With the newly released Iron Man 3 tearing up the foreign and domestic box office, it's a good time to look at other movie threequels and see how they stack up against each other. Many of the best movies of all time are part of a series of movies that make up the best movie franchises ever. While many of these are the third installment in a movie trilogy, more still are part of ongoing series or much longer movie series like Harry Potter and Star Wars

Iron Man isn't the only franchise to produce a critically lauded and financially successful third movie, but it is faring particularly well compared to some of the other entries in the third film of the movie franchise. For ever Dark Knight Rises there's a Superman III, Godfather 3, and Spiderman 3. Perish the thought.

What are the best third films ever? What movie series have the best film threequels? This greatest third movie in a series list is here to let movie fans decide which third entries in a movie franchise are the best and the worst movies compared to each other. If your favorite threequel isn't on the list of the best threequels ever, make sure to throw it in the mix. Your third movie in a film franchise can't be much worse than Red Dragon, right? 

list ordered by
1
Star Wars: Episode VI –R... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1983

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand, and the third and final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. After a daring ...more

More Star Wars: Episode VI –Return of the Jedi 

#16 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #17 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

2
The Lord of the Rings: T... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

Released: 2003

Directed by: Peter Jackson

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic fantasy drama film directed by Peter Jackson based on the second and third volumes of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is ...more

More The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 

#39 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #2 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

3
Indiana Jones and the La... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix

Released: 1989

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the third installment in the ...more

More Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 

#29 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies The Best Characters in the Whole Indiana Jones Franchise, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Toy Story 3 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Keaton

Released: 2010

Directed by: Lee Unkrich

Toy Story 3 is a 2010 American 3D computer-animated comedy film, and the third film in the Toy Story series. It was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. ...more

More Toy Story 3 

#334 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #329 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time The Best Toy Story Characters in the Whole Series, Ranked

5
The Good, the Bad and th... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1966

Directed by: Sergio Leone

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The screenplay was written by Age ...more

More The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 

#1 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #174 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #45 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked

6
The Dark Knight Rises is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman

Released: 2012

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight Rises is a 2012 superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character. Eight years after the Joker's reign of anarchy, Batman (Christian Bale), with the ...more

More The Dark Knight Rises 

#15 of 165 The Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time #9 of 184 The Best Superhero Movies Ever Made 'The Dark Knight Rises' Is Anti-Revolutionary Corporate Propaganda

7
Harry Potter and the Pri... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Gary Oldman

Released: 2004

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. ...more

More Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

#88 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #37 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck The Best 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' Quotes

8
Die Hard with a Vengeanc... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons

Released: 1995

Directed by: John McTiernan

This film is a 1995 American action film and the third in the film series. It was produced and directed by John McTiernan, written by Jonathan Hensleigh, and stars Bruce Willis as New York City ...more

More Die Hard with a Vengeance 

#136 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #181 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

9
National Lampoon's Chris... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
bojanthebest added Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chevy Chase, Juliette Lewis

Released: 1989

Directed by: Jeremiah S. Chechik

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a 1989 Christmas comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik. It is the third installment in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, and was written by ...more

More National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 

#20 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #14 of 1,009 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films The Funniest Lines From 'Christmas Vacation'

10
Star Wars Episode III: R... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson

Released: 2005

Directed by: George Lucas

(19 Years before Episode IV) Three years after the onset of the Clone Wars, the noble Jedi Knights have been leading a massive clone army into a galaxy-wide battle against the Separatists. When ...more

More Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 

#219 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #216 of 219 The Worst Sequels Of All Time

11
The Bourne Ultimatum is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Brian Cox

Released: 2007

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 American-German action spy thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass loosely based on the Robert Ludlum novel of the same title. The screenplay was written by Tony ...more

More The Bourne Ultimatum 

#107 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Suck The Best Characters in the Whole Jason Bourne Franchise, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Goldfinger is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Garry Marshall

Released: 1964

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

Goldfinger is the third film in the James Bond series and the third to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The film ...more

More Goldfinger 

#131 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #919 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
ImaadShahrukh added Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

Released: 2012

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Skyfall is the twenty-third James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. It features Daniel Craig in his third performance as James Bond, and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film's villain. It ...more

More Skyfall 

#343 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #364 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

14
Rocky III is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young

Released: 1982

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

Rocky III is a 1982 American sports drama film directed by Sylvester Stallone, and the third film in the series. After winning the ultimate title and being the world champion, Rocky (Stallone) ...more

More Rocky III 

#510 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #32 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #252 of 324 Movies with the Best Soundtracks

15
Back to the Future Part ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Michael J. Fox, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd

Released: 1990

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future Part III is a 1990 American science fiction Western film. It is the third and final installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and ...more

More Back to the Future Part III 

#60 of 67 Every Movie Coming To Netflix In February 2020 #113 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #217 of 219 The Worst Sequels Of All Time

16
Army of Darkness is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Bridget Fonda, Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi

Released: 1992

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Army of Darkness is a 1992 American dark fantasy action comedy film directed by Sam Raimi. It is the third installment of The Evil Dead franchise. The film was written by Sam Raimi and his ...more

More Army of Darkness 

#291 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #505 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #83 of 799 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

17
Lethal Weapon 3 is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Mel Gibson, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo

Released: 1992

Directed by: Richard Donner

Lethal Weapon 3 is a 1992 American buddy cop action comedy film directed and produced by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo and Stuart Wilson. It is the ...more

More Lethal Weapon 3 

#30 of 74 The Best Action Movie Sequelslisted on The Highest Grossing 90s Movies

18
Mission: Impossible III ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Maggie Q, Keri Russell, Michelle Monaghan

Released: 2006

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Mission: Impossible III (stylized as M:i:III) is a 2006 American action spy film directed by J. J. Abrams, and the third film in the Mission: Impossible series. Retired from field work, IMF ...more

More Mission: Impossible III 

#12 of 12 Genius Jokes Hidden In The Credits Of Your Favorite Movies #23 of 75 The Greatest Movies About CIA Agents & Operatives

19
Pirates of the Caribbean... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Keith Richards

Released: 2007

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is a 2007 American fantasy swashbuckler film and the third film in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The plot follows Will Turner, Elizabeth ...more

More Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End 

#87 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #152 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies The Best Characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies

20
Men in Black 3 is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Will Smith

Released: 2012

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld

Men in Black 3 is a 2012 American 3D comic science fiction-action film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin. It is the third installment in the ...more

More Men in Black 3 

#1,067 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #80 of 165 The Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time

21
Iron Man 3 is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
crsone1 added Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley

Released: 2013

Directed by: Shane Black

Iron Man 3 is a 2013 superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to 2008's ...more

More Iron Man 3 

#466 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #59 of 165 The Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time #42 of 184 The Best Superhero Movies Ever Made

22
Clear and Present Danger... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
bojanthebest added Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones

Released: 1994

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 spy action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, based on Tom Clancy's book of the same name. It was preceded by the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October and ...more
23
A Nightmare on Elm Stree... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Zsa Zsa Gábor

Released: 1987

Directed by: Chuck Russell

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a 1987 American slasher fantasy film and the third film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Chuck Russell, written by ...more

More A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 

#321 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #265 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #7 of 13 Crowd-Pleasing Horror Movies You Can Put On During A Party

24
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdo... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Tina Turner, Mel Gibson, Rebekah Elmaloglou

Released: 1985

Directed by: George Ogilvie, George Miller

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, also known as Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or simply Mad Max 3, is a 1985 Australian post-apocalyptic action adventure film co-directed by George Miller and George ...more

More Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 

#185 of 219 The Worst Sequels Of All Time #200 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #69 of 157 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies

25
Thor: Ragnarok is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Third Films In A Movie Series
Nicholas Borg added Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

Released: 2017

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 American superhero film directed by Taika Waititi. Four years after the events of Thor: The Dark World, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must win a gladiatorial duel against an ...more

More Thor: Ragnarok 

#40 of 165 The Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time #25 of 184 The Best Superhero Movies Ever Made All The Easter Eggs Hidden In Thor: Ragnarok