Total Nerd 15 Wildly Successful Movie Franchises (That Only Have One Great Film)  

Zack Howe
577 votes 119 voters 3.9k views 15 items Embed

List Rules Vote up the movies that make the other films in their franchises look like crap.

Movie franchises often vary in quality from one movie to the next. Many of them have a few passable movies, but how many movie franchises have only one good movie? A lot. Which logically makes them bad movie franchises. One great movie is often enough to keep viewers coming back to a franchise. Movie series with one single solid entry are real head scratchers. The one good movie is a reminder of all the seriously missed opportunities.

There are some movie franchises that went off the rails after an initial success. And then there are those rare instances when a sequel turned out better than the first installment. Here are a bunch of movie franchises with one good movie that stood out over all the rest. Spoiler: Some of these might make you mad. Oh, and like, actual spoilers ahead, as well.


Pirates of the Caribbean Franc... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Wildly Successful Movie Franchises (That Only Have One Great Film)
Photo:  Walt Disney Studios

The One Great Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Why It's The Best: Well, for one, because it's the first. Pirates of the Caribbean was an instant phenomenon because it was so fresh and fun. It was the first Disney park-inspired film to put the gimmicks aside and focus on a more natural story of swashbuckling adventure. That iconic Hans Zimmer score doesn't hurt either. But people quickly cooled to Johnny Depp's zany, androgynous character despite it being one of the things that made the first film great in the first place. Disney thought the strength of Jack Sparrow would carry the franchise, and the second and third films fared well at the box office, but the final films proved they'd lost touch with the heart of the original. 

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#12 on The Greatest Movie Themes

#9 on The Very Best Movie Franchises

#5 on The Best Disney Live-Action Movies

#18 on The Funniest Comedy Film Franchises of All Time

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The Matrix Franchise is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Wildly Successful Movie Franchises (That Only Have One Great Film)
Photo:  Warner Bros.

The One Great Movie: The Matrix

Why It's The Best: Not only was The Matrix a reimagining of the Chosen One archetype, the subject of the film was a radically innovative dive into a deep philosophical question: What if our world isn't real? It blew people's minds. And then the sequels came along, and they became CGI action flicks. And the CGI was the stuff of uncanny valleys. Well, it was then. Now it's just crap. 

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#23 on The Very Best Movie Franchises

#8 on The Best Science Fiction Franchises of All Time

#12 on The All-Round Greatest Action Film Franchises, Ranked

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Men in Black Franchise is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Wildly Successful Movie Franchises (That Only Have One Great Film)
Photo:  Columbia Pictures

The One Great Movie: Men in Black

Why It's The Best: Men in Black was unique and fresh. It is a perfect blend of action, humor, and genuine sweetness. The dynamic between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is perfect and brought it all home. And it has a surprisingly tender ending. And then the filmmakers undid all that with the film's sequels, even resorting to putting testicals on an alien's chin. The franchise unraveled after the first film. They should have quit while they were ahead.

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#25 on The Very Best Movie Franchises

#16 on The Best Science Fiction Franchises of All Time

#15 on The All-Round Greatest Action Film Franchises, Ranked

#16 on The Funniest Comedy Film Franchises of All Time

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Jaws Franchise


Jaws Franchise is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Wildly Successful Movie Franchises (That Only Have One Great Film)
Photo:  Universal Pictures

The One Great Movie: Jaws

Why It's The Best: Jaws is perfectly paced, alternately scaring the hell out of audiences when they least expect it and also slowly building up tension. It's perfect suspense and perfect horror, which is why it spawned an entire genre of shark movies. Including the garbage sequels that immediately followed. It's never a good sign when a franchise takes off without it's founding director and the sequels were unsurprisingly not helmed by Steven Spielberg. 

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#13 on The Best Horror Movie Franchises

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