What is a sequel


As Sequel is the continuation of an artistic work. This means that the term can be applied to films as well as literary and dramatic works and is also used in relation to plays and musical products that continue the previous history of the original work. It is essential for the sequel that it was not planned at the time of the release of the previous work, but always represents the continuation of a previously completed story. As a result, sequels are primarily used to maximize profit when a film or novel has been particularly successful. Most of the time, the same characters appear and continue the plot seamlessly. In some cases, however, the plot begins decades later and only loosely relates to the previous one. The counterpart of the sequel is the prequel. The prequel is also a sequel, but does not continue the story, but shows content that precedes the narrative (prehistory).


The term comes from English and is derived from the Latin verb sequi starting with consequences translates. As a result, the origin of the word already reveals what it is basically about: namely a thing that follows and therefore a successor in the figurative sense. As a result, the action of the sequel begins after the narrated time of the previous work (see multi-part).

The graphic above illustrates the principle described using the example of the film series Rockywhich now comprises six parts. When Sylvester Stallone's first film in the series was released in 1976, there was no telling that it would one day be one of the most successful films of all time. However, when the financial success set in, more and more sequels were written and shot.

Numbering of the sequel

In most cases, rows of films can be recognized by their numbering, as is also the case in the example above (Rocky, Rocky II ...), or by the fact that they always have the title of the series in the work title (The Lord of the Rings: The Companions, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ...).

Most of the time, however, it is the numbering that connects the sequels. One of the first cinematic works to be characterized by sequential numbers is probably the science fiction dilogyQuatermass II are designated. Countless series of films followed in their footsteps, such as the Godfather trilogy(The Godfather, The Godfather Part II ...), the Terminator series and many other productions.

The reason for this is obvious: For the same reasons why there is usually a sequel at all (expected profit), the individual parts of the series are numbered. This makes it easier to classify them, which increases their recognition value for the audience and therefore their success at the box office. Thus the numbering of sequels is a successful means of marketing. Sometimes the number is also played with in order to address specifics or the target group, such as with Die Hard 4.0 (Allusion to the version numbers of software).


As Threequel becomes a play on words (see suitcase word), that is derived from the English numeralsthree, the three means, and the nounsequel composed, designated. The threequel means the circumstance or trend that successful films are continued into "infinity", whereby the focus is exclusively on profit maximization. This is particularly typical for Hollywood productions.

The term is usually used disparagingly and is to be understood as a criticism. This formation of opportunities consequently denounces that films are continued to increase profit and in this way approach the (television) series. Sometimes this can also jeopardize the positive public perception of an original work.

Brief overview: The most important things at a glance
  • A sequel is the continuation of an artistic work. The term can be applied to cinematic, literary, musical and dramatic works and can also be found in the (computer) games industry.
  • The main characteristic of such a sequel is that it was not planned in advance. This means that it only appears because the original work was (financially) successful. Accordingly, such sequels mostly serve to maximize profits.
  • In order to reinforce this effect, the following works in such a series are usually only numbered and rarely given individual titles. This increases the recognition value on the part of the audience and is part of the film marketing.