10 Third Movie Sequels Better Than Anyone Expected

Is the fourth Mad Max movie really the best?

Mad max Fury Road Tom Hardy
Warner Bros. Pictures

There was a time when the trilogy was the gold standard for the movie franchise. From Star Wars to The Godfather to The Matrix, movie series hoped to connect with audiences enough to reap the rewards of the adage 'Good Things Come In Threes.'

But in the 1980s, studios realized through horror franchises like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street that audiences would hang on for longer. SO they started making more and more sequels, letting series run dry of ideas and fans until they exhausted the money well.

That fourth great film is still frequently elusive to franchises. Sometimes you get Toy Story 4, and sometimes you get Men In Black: International. But sometimes, you get something better than you expected. Here are 10 third movie sequels that delivered more than audiences expected.

10. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Mad max Fury Road Tom Hardy
Paramount Pictures

Star Trek fans were on a high with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a no-frills suspense-thriller with an iconic villain back from the original series. Of course, they were also furious at the death of Spock, a longtime favorite.

Creators tried to give audiences what they wanted in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and it did NOT go well. A muddled story, awkwardly concluded plot threads from the last film, and a general sense of aimlessness kept the film from reaching the popular heights of the previous entry, and it seemed possible that there would be no more adventures of the Starship Enterprise.

Then, the series discovered time travel, and its own funny bone. The fourth entry had the crew travel back in time as fish out of water in "modern-day" San Francisco. The film is a light, breezy comedy that gives the normally serious crew a chance to poke fun at their characters (with Scotty and Spock getting the best moments). The series never went fully back into humorous mode after this film, which is a shame because this was an unexpected and delightful comedy detour.


Chris Vander Kaay knows the hidden secrets of the world, but he frequently forgets them. He has them written on a piece of paper along with his passwords, but he seems to have misplaced that as well.