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Sequel baiting in movies

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If it ends on cliffhanger that got canceled, it is not happening!

Sequel baiting (or known as Cliffhanger) is a method trope used in a work to suggest that there is a possibility for another story. The original work still has closure, but the writer has made writing a sequel easier by leaving minor plot elements unresolved. This method is so common the audience will identify any unresolved plot element as a hook.

This method is quite common within a variety of media, including good, decent, mediocre, and even bad ones.

Why This Method Usually Sucks

  1. It interrupts the flow and pacing of the movie just to set up future installments, whether they are sequels, spin-offs, crossovers, or even entire shared universes.
  2. Speaking of which, they focus so much on planning to make their own cinematic universes similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe by trying to rush it instead of telling a story that is worth telling before you can tell something bigger, making it cluttered and rushed where the story tries to throw in a lot of any elements without taking that much time to explore much more of those elements. Example are The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro, the infamous 2017 reboot of The Mummy and Scoob!.
  3. Sometimes, they shoehorn in characters that only serve to tease sequels (legacy sequels or soft reboots specifically), when they have nothing to do with the overall plot of the film.
  4. Some scenes with sequel-baiting have pointless fan service that does nothing to progress the overall plot of the movie (e.g. Darth Maul igniting his lightsaber in front of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story).
  5. Some of the set-ups for future plot points (unless its a teaser for a future installment at the ending of a film) also show that the writers are lazy, as they added in plot threads that were left completely unresolved without any sort of payoff intentionally, and instead those threads were supposed to be filled in future installments. What makes this even worse is that they are not likely to be resolved in said future installments (e.g. Star Wars: The Last Jedi ignored plot points that were set up in The Force Awakens, resulting backlash and The Rise of Skywalker ignoring lots of plot points from both movies which resulted into even more backlash).
    • If the film bomb at the box offices and the sequel ended up being cancelled, this will not help it as well.
  6. Depending on the movie, the movie itself would use a cliffhanger method thinking that their movie can come back to the big screen despite otherwise due to how the movie sucked or turned out mediocre. Some examples include Mac & Me, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Astro Boy, Super Mario Bros., Max Steel, The Boy, and Snake Eyes.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Not all the movies were ignored future plot points. Some movies weren't interrupted by the film that hooks the right (example: Incredibles 2, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Zack Snyder's Justice League and Spider-Man: No Way Home).
  2. Depending on what many people says, some movies have an awesome cliffhanger ending, which means that audience will find out soon.

Examples

  1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has multiple plot threads that were left completely unresolved without any sort of payoff intentionally, and instead, those threads were supposed to be filled in future sequels. For example, the movie literally pauses to have Wonder Woman watch teaser videos for Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman.
    • According to some reports, Zack Snyder's intended cut of Justice League was going to have multiple sequel hooks setting up future installments, but thankfully the Joss Whedon version re-edited the film to have fewer sequel hooks.
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is another example of this, as much of the film's content is useless setups for plot points in future installments, ranging from Rey's parentage to the Knights of Ren seen in a vision at one point in the film. The sequel, The Last Jedi, has almost zero payoffs for any of the plot points that were set up in the previous film, resulting in backlash and criticism. It was later resolved for The Rise of Skywalker.
  3. The Lego Movie was the first instalment in The Lego Movie film series (or Lego Cinematic Universe). Unlike most movies that focus on the idea of setting up a cinematic universe for any franchise rather than being an actual movie, this story doesn't actually feel cluttered and rushed since this was being an actual movie, which perfectly explored many elements, such as Green Ninja. It also ends on a cliffhanger with the final scene for "The Man Upstairs" allowing Finn's younger sister Bianca to join them in playing with his Lego sets, means that Duplo aliens arriving at Bricksburg. This is eventually addressed in the sequel, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. Because this sequel hook takes place at the end of the film, it doesn't really interrupt the film.
  4. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is most infamously known for doing this, as their films (excluding Avengers: Endgame) have post-credits scenes that tease future movies and encourage viewers to stay and watch the credits and allow for foreshadowings and setups to take place without interrupting the movie itself. Examples include:
    • Speaking of the MCU, Avengers: Age of Ultron has a scene where Thor has a vision of the Infinity Stones, which was very intrusive because it had nothing to do with the plot and only served to tease Infinity War.
    • Avengers: Infinity War ends with Thanos decimating half of all life in the universe, including heroes such as Spider-Man, which is supposed to set up the sequel, where this plot point is teased in every MCU film between this and Endgame.
    • Avengers: Endgame though to be fair a follow up sequel was to be expected right after Thanos's victory. Additionally, the film featured a post credits scene involving Captain Marvel who was set up for the Avengers: Endgame but in that film she didn't contribute much to the sequel despite being hyped as Mary Sue-level powerful.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home's postcredits scene involves Peter Parker and Mary Jane watching the news to find out that Mysterio framed the hero for his death and reveals his identity on the public broadcast which immediately is a setup for a sequel. Depending on your view, this set up while surprising was a bit too late into the film since not many watch after the credits. However, the viewers who view Spider-Man: No Way Home will still be properly introduced to the sequel's premise as the whole mid-credits sequence for the movie is played at the beginning, so it doesn't interrupt the movie.
  5. Another example is at the end of Finding Nemo before the end credits, where the Tank Gang escapes from the dentist's office as the film ends with Bloat asking, "Now what?", which is supposed to set up a sequel (which would eventually become Finding Dory). Again, it doesn't interrupt the movie due to being the last scene in the film and doesn't add a major plotline to transition into a sequel, it was meant to be a comical epilogue.
  6. The 2019 reboot of Hellboy ends with two scenes: one simply revealing Abe Sapien at the last second, and the other having Baba Yaga plotting to kill Hellboy.
  7. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 focuses more on setting up Sony's then-planned Spider-Man cinematic universe instead of being a movie, a common mistake by studios trying to make their own cinematic universes similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. An example of this is the character Rhino, whose sole purpose was to set up a then-planned Sinister Six film.
  8. Solo: A Star Wars Story has a scene where the character Qi'ra talks to a mysterious figure, who then reveals himself as a cybernetically-enhanced Darth Maul, which is supposed to set up not only the upcoming Disney+ spin-off series focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but also a potential sequel for this film.
  9. The end of A.X.L. is another example of this, as when Miles gets the pairing key from A.X.L, he tries it out, and apparently, A.X.L. is somewhat getting rebuilt from his explosion, and afterward, the end credits play.
  10. Hellboy II: The Golden Army indicated Liz telling Hellboy that she plans to have two kids, setting up the then-planned Hellboy III, but was canceled due to executive meddling, which led to Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman disgusted and leaving the production, which led to the critically-panned reboot.
  11. The Bye Bye Man had a survivor telling a police officer about the Bye Bye Man, setting up another sequel.
  12. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ends with Miles in his dorm listening to music when a portal suddenly opens up above him, with Gwen's voice asking Miles if he's got a minute. Additionally, in the post-credit scene, Miguel O'Hara travels to the universe of the 1967 Spider-Man animated series and argues with its Spider-Man. As a matter of fact, not only we are getting a sequel, but the part one and two was confirmed for 2022 and 2023. It, again, doesn't really interrupted the movie, as the part one sequel hook takes place at the end of the film, while Spider-Man 2099 appears in the movie.
  13. Super Mario Bros. ends on a shameless cliffhanger when Princess Daisy asks the Mario brothers for help, implying that a sequel could happen, and it's never revealed what. A sequel was made in the form of a fanmade comic book, however, they cancelled it after several issues, in favor of an animated adaptation of the video game series being made by Illumination 29 years later, which will follow its own plot.
  14. The 2017 reboot of The Mummy franchise was intended to be the first installment in a canceled Dark Universe franchise compromised of Universal Studio's classic monsters. The film focuses more on setting up the Dark Universe than on being a movie of its own by shoving in pointless side characters such as Dr. Jekyll that exist only to tease sequels. Not only that, the movie obnoxiously flashes the Dark Universe logo despite it being the first (and only) movie in the franchise with nothing properly set up. By comparison, movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn't start showing the MCU-stylized Marvel logo until the franchise was properly established years after it began.
  15. The final scene of The Incredibles has the Underminer rising from the ground as the Parr family puts on their superhero masks, preparing to face a new threat together as a family. Once again, it doesn't interrupt the movie as the sequel, Incredibles 2, continues right from where the first film ended, while ending on a similarly cliff-hanging note at the end.
  16. The ending of the 1994 version of The Lion King has Simba and Nala giving birth. It works as a bookends, as it's how the film started and continues the theme of the Circle of Life, but it also sets up a new character for the following film.
  17. The ending for Mortal Kombat has the main characters (Liu Kang, Raiden, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade) celebrating their victory over Shang Tsung, before Shao Kahn appears to them in the sky, causing the main characters to strike a Kombat stance in preparation for fighting Shao Kahn, setting up the events for Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
  18. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 ends with a visibly-shaken Katniss visiting the hijacked Peeta, who acts like a wild animal in his restraints, while President Coin congratulates the rebels for the successful rescue of the Victors though reminding that the worst has yet to come. One year later, Part Two were resolved.
  19. TMNT ends with Karai suggesting a familiar face from the past will return, suggesting a sequel to the 2007 film would've featured the return of The Shredder.
  20. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday ends with Jason Voorhees’s mask being pulled into the ground by none other than Freddy Krueger’s glove. This was supposed to set up a crossover movie between the two slashers, which was eventually released ten years after.
  21. The Nut Job has a mid-credits scene in which Raccoon and Cardinal are coming up with another plan while surrounded by sharks, which is supposed to set up the sequel, only except Raccoon isn't the villain, but rather the mayor, while the former was reduced to cameo in post-credit.
  22. The 1998 remake of Godzilla has a scene where the only surviving egg in the ruins of Madison Square Garden hatches as the baby Zilla roars just after the New York citizens celebrate over Zilla's demise. But due to the film's negative reception, it never had a sequel, although there was Godzilla: The Series, which continued the story and was well-received due to it being more faithful to the Toho films.
  23. The ending of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen tries to make a big deal out of Quatermain's death, setting it up as a "passing the torch" moment to the younger members of the League, only to then have a blatantly sequel-baiting ending that shows his implied resurrection.
  24. Spaceballs has a scene in the middle of the movie where the character Yogurt says "God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money", though this was just done as a gag. A potential sequel was discussed by Rick Moranis and Mel Brooks, though they were unable to make a deal that would allow the project to continue. An animated series was made, and it barely had anything to do with the film itself, was cheaply-made, and generally considered horrible.
  25. Transformers: The Last Knight has a sequel-baiting ending in which Quintessa appears in human form and offers some scientists that have discovered one of Unicron's horns a method of killing Unicron.
  26. Kung Fu Panda has that in hindsight, the blatant unreveal of why Po the panda has a goose for a father could be considered the sequel hook for the first film, this question finally being answered in the second movie.
    • However, the very last scene of Kung Fu Panda 2 has revealed that Po's biological father and other pandas have survived the genocide caused by Lord Shen and are now living in a hidden village, as he is now suddenly aware that his son is alive, setting up Kung Fu Panda 3.
  27. Toy Story has "wow, a puppy!" Toy Story 2 has "worried about Andy?" Toy Story 3 avoids this, with a conclusion that should've ended the franchise on a perfect note. However, in 2019, there was a Toy Story 4.
  28. Terminator: Dark Fate involved that Sarah and Dani are ready for the next mission, but due to poor box office performance, this was never resolved.
  29. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has Jonathan suddenly sell his club in Beijing for no reason and move to South America, because he thinks there are no mummies there; a caption card then informs us that there are. Because of the movie's underwhelming box-office total, no such sequel was ever made.
  30. Sonic the Hedgehog has not one, but two scenes (one after the film ends and one after the credits), with the former, involves Robotnik being alone on the Mushroom Planet, gaining his iconic bald head and bushy mustache, and claiming he'll be home by Christmas and the latter involves Tails coming out of a portal ring and taking a flight to find Sonic in the post-credits scene. Both of these set up a sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 which was released on April 8, 2022. Said sequel sets up the plot of the third movie during the mid credits scene involving Shadow the Hedgehog and Project G.U.N.
  31. It (2017) ends with The Losers Club swear a blood oath that they will return to Derry as adults if It returns for 27 years. This is eventually addressed in the second half, It Chapter Two. Since the second half hook takes place at the end of the film, it doesn't really interrupt the film.
  32. The Pirates of the Caribbean films:
  33. As with the show it is based on, The Last Airbender ends with a shot of Ozai assigning Azula the task of capturing the Avatar. But of course thanks to the dismal box-office returns and overwhelmingly negative reception, the planned sequels that cover the rest of the series were quickly scrapped.
  34. At the end of Dune, the Harkonnens succeed in taking over Arrakis, killing Leto in the process, and the Baron orders Rabban to take control while Duncan and several other Fremen sacrifice themselves. Paul, after being forced to kill Jamis in a Duel to the Death, ends up joining the Fremen against Jessica's wishes to bring peace to Arrakis. As Chani mentions as the film ends, "This is only the beginning." As a matter of fact, the part two was confirmed by Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures for 2023, after the critical and commercial success for part one.
  35. Scoob! was intended to be the first installment in a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe with Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, all created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears. It mainly focus on the idea for more setting up a Cinematic Universe for the Hanna-Barbera franchise, rather than being a actual Scooby-Doo! movie where it feels very cluttered and rushed where its story tries to throw in a lot of Hanna-Barbara elements without taking that much time to explore much more of those elements, particularly with Captain Caveman's appearance, who, despite his voice actor getting top billing and being featured on one of the international posters, didn't end up getting that much more amount of screen time for much of anything to do, something that can be boiled down to the fact that he's hardly in the movie at all and is then left out and forgotten about after being defeated by Dynomutt into protecting the third skull of Cerberus, before being stolen by Dick Dastardly and joining the gang for the climax (though however, he does appear in end credits). Unlike that, however, the projects of Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe didn't get cancelled. Additionally, the film ends with the gang unveils their official Mystery Inc. headquarters and celebrates with the entire town and The Falcon Force, who in turn gives the gang an upgraded Mystery Machine, before they reignite their team to go back solving another mystery together again, and later in the end credits the Dick Dastardly is escaping from prison. During a matter of fact, a sequel was confirmed. Despite all of this, it somewhat makes sense given that there is a shared Hanna-Barbera TV universe that had been established decades ago, so this isn't too out of the ordinary.
  36. Pacific Rim Uprising has the scenes where during the pre-credits cutscene, Newt — now in custody — says that their victory is pointless because the Precursors' will keep sending attacks and Jake replies that mankind will soon be the ones attacking the Precursors. After the box office disappointment, this was never resolved, not even in the Netflix animated TV adaptation, Pacific Rim: The Black.
  37. The 2021 version of Mortal Kombat ends the scenes with Cole departs to Los Angeles in search of Hollywood martial artist and movie star, Johnny Cage.
  38. Free Birds has a mid-credits scene involved Jake returns to tell Reggie, Jenny and the flock about the turducken, implicating that erasing Standish from history has had unexpected consequences in the future, but due to the negative reception despite box office success, a second movie will very likely never happen.
  39. There is a scene in Despicable Me 3 where Dru is seen stealing Gru's aircraft. Gru and Lucy decide to give Dru a five-minute head-start before engaging pursuit. However, it was revealed that a fourth Despicable Me is in development. Although, some may argue that this has been done as some sort of a comedic ending instead of sequel bait.
  40. A scene at the credits of The Angry Birds Movie depicts a scene where Leonard and the pigs somehow survive during the battle of the birds and pigs. Leonard then mentions that he has a new plan which was later shown in The Angry Birds Movie 2, for about the first 10 minutes.
    • There is also post-credit scene from the first film that seemed to tease that the Blues would have a major role in either the the own show or the sequel. In The Angry Birds Movie 2, they appear in less than 5 minutes in the entire movie, making this character underutilized and wasted. The hatchlings' subplot could have easily been taken over by them.
  41. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul ends with Susan Heffley mentions to Greg how they will be flying for their next vacation, but this was never resolved (at least in the movies), especially considering how it failed in the box office. However, this was resolved when they released the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway, later that year.
  42. Legend of the Guardians ends with Ezylryb and the owls flying off into another storm. While the sequel hasn't confirmed, it might be possible sequel in development.
  43. Eragon ends with Eragon and his dragon defeating the forces of evil. Then shortly before the credits roll, the film's Big Bad slices open a large tapestry to reveal his own Dragon, which would presumably do battle with Eragon in the sequel. However, Eldest (the next book in the series) was never filmed.
  44. Playmobil: The Movie ends with the mid-credits scene where a guard in the museum takes Emperor Maximus' figure out of the cage and places it on top of the mountain, symbolizing his return. But because the movie flopped, this will most likely never be resolved.
  45. The 2019 version of Child's Play has just after a last climax and the massacre throughout the film with Karen and Mike being taken to paramedics and Andy with his friends destroy Chucky's remains, Kaslan made an announcement to recall all the dolls, as many packaged dolls being recalled and put into storage, one of the dolls start functioning as its eyes open and smile at the viewer, which is implying that Chucky is transferred all his consciousness to another doll body. Despite the box office success, there is no sequel confirmation as of now.
  46. Planet of the Apes (2001) ending shows Leo landing into a modern-day world but in this reality, apes swap the role of humans instead in which the ending has ape police officers and reporters at the crash site and arrest Leo. This bizarre ending felt to tease a potential sequel. Despite the box office success, the sequel is officially cancelled.
  47. Batman Begins ends with Lt. Gordon giving Batman a playing card, setting up the Joker's appearance in The Dark Knight.
  48. Street Fighter has a post-credits sequence where the seemingly-deceased Bison is revived once again amidst his ruined command center to reattempt world conquest. The sequel never happened due to the film's negative reception and the death of Raul Julia.
  49. Masters of the Universe has a post-credits sequence where Skeletor rises and declares that he'll be back. No sequel was made because the film flopped.
  50. Flash Gordon ends with a hand picking up the defeated Ming's ring, setting up a sequel that never happened when the film wasn't successful in America.
  51. Freddy vs. Jason ends with Jason Voorhees rising from the lake with Freddy Krueger's severed head, as Freddy's head winks and laughs. however the sequel Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash which was a crossover of The Evil Dead Franchise was scrapped And turned into a comic book in 2007 and a spawned a comic sequel titled Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors.
  52. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension ends with the tag Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League, which didn't happen thanks to the film underperforming.
  53. Jem and the Holograms ends with a post-credits scene where Erica meets The Misfits and enlists them in her revenge against Jem and the Holograms. The film's overwhelmingly negative reception meant that there would be no sequel.
  54. Green Lantern (2011) ends with Sinestro takes the yellow ring for himself, setting him up as the villain for the sequel that never happened because the film flopped.
  55. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ended with a shot of Spock's coffin on the Genesis planet, setting up Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. This scene was a reshoot due to the decision to undo Spock's death.
  56. The X-Men films:
    • X2: X-Men United ends with a shot of the Phoenix in Alkali Lake, informing us that the next film will be an adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga.
    • The Wolverine ends with Wolverine meeting Xavier and Magneto at an airport, setting up X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    • Days of Future Past had a stinger showing Apocalypse, setting him up as the villain of X-Men: Apocalypse.
  57. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) ends with the kids alive and getting in a car to go to school, only to be driven away by Freddy, who grabs Nancy's mother. This was added by New Line Cinema against Wes Craven's wishes, as they wanted to make sequels.
  58. The Evil Dead series:
    • The Evil Dead (1981) ends with Ash Williams getting out of the cabin after he killed the possessed Cheryl and Scotty, the unseen Deadite force breaks through the cabin only for Ash Williams to scream in horror.
    • Evil Dead II ends with Ash Williams sucked by a portal taking him to the medieval times with knights, as a Deadite flys to kill the knights ash blasts its head off with his boomstick the knights Praise him and say "hail!" we see that ash is upset. This was to set up Army of Darkness.
  59. Back to the Future ends with Doc whisking Marty and Jennifer away in the DeLorean to the future to do something about Marty's kids. This was done as a joke, as Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had no intention of making any sequels, but the film's massive success ensured a sequel.
  60. Kick-Ass ends with Chris D'Amico declaring revenge against Kick-Ass, setting him up as the villain of the sequel.
  61. The Fast and the Furious films:
    • Fast Five has a stinger where Monica Fuentes from 2 Fast 2 Furious brings Luke Hobbs a file containing a picture of Letty, who was supposedly killed off in the previous film. Even Michelle Rodriguez had no idea about this until she saw the finished film.
    • Fast and Furious 6 has a stinger replaying Han's death from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, only with Deckard Shaw declaring war on Dominic Toretto.
  62. Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made had an ending scene where Timmy thinks that Crocus was kidnapped by Corrina Corrina and the Russians and sets off with Total to "rescue" him. Though this could be a gag ending in a way.
  63. Halloween (1978) ends with Michael Myers being shot out of a window by Dr. Loomis and seemingly defeated, until his corpse mysteriously vanishes, this sets up Halloween II or Halloween (2018).
  64. The Simpsons Movie had a gag involving the family watching the credits at the end with Maggie saying "sequel" as her first word. Even though it's a gag, there's still a possibility that The Simpsons could be getting another film someday.

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