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The 15 Best Sequels of All Time

Today the Question of the Day on Twitter was, "What is the best sequel of all time? " And I defined "best" as "improving the most on its predecessor."  I received hundreds of votes, and the top 15 choices are as follows:


1. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan

This was the runaway favorite, and with good reason: the first Star Trek sucked, and Wrath of Khan was a fun film which many people consider a classic.



2. Terminator 2


3. Evil Dead 2



4. Empire Strikes Back


5. Aliens


6. The Godfather 2


7. The Dark Knight



8. X2: X-Men United


9. The Road Warrior


10. Spider-Man 2


11. Superman 2


12. (TIE)

Dawn of the Dead


The Devil’s Rejects

Back to the Future 2


13. Gremlins 2: The New Batch


14. Toy Story 2


15. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army


Given the established parameter – that we’re defining best by which movies improve the most on the film that came before it, here are my choices:

1.    EVIL DEAD 2

Whether this movie is a sequel or a remake is in question, but I think the “2” kind of clinches it.  It’s one of my favorite all time action/horror/comedies that’s a follow-up to an inventive but ponderous film.  The gap between the two is huge, so this takes the top spot for me.  It still breaks my heart that the producer told me that Evil Dead 1 still outsells it on DVD year after year, simply because people aren’t so open to horror-comedies (nor with things that have “2” on the end of them).


I found Before Sunrise, the Richard-Linklater-directed Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke talkathon to be insipid.  However, I thought this follow up – with all the same players – was a fantastic, subtle, and powerful film. 

3.    TOY STORY 2

Again, Toy Story 2 is one of my favorite films of all time.  The first one I really didn’t care for, and the stilted animation put me off as well. 


Unlike many of you, I’m not a huge Star Trek or Wrath of Khan fan.  That said, the original Star Trek movie would have to be right up there as one of the most boring films ever made.  That this movie managed to capture my attention with some light fun is an enormous testament to it’s superior sequel-ness.


This is a Hong Kong film classic – right up there with Fong Sai Yuk and The Killer.  The first is just another kung fu movie.


What can I say?  A tight, Hellish movie which Rob shot the fuck out of, and it improved by leaps and bounds on its predecessor, House of 1,000 Corpses.  

7.    SHREK 2

I’m surprised this film didn’t receive a single vote.  I found the first Shrek boring, stupid, unsure of what it was, and at times strangely offensive.  Shrek 2, however, was a blast.

8.    SUPERMAN 2

God, the first film is ridiculous, with that Lois Lane poetry voice over, making time go backwards by making the earth turn in reverse, a wig-wearing Lex Luthor with a slapstick bumbling sidekick… it would make a decent Mighty Morphin Power Rangers film, but Superman?  Fuck you. The sequel is a blast, and has foes who are actually threatening. 


This follow-up to A Fistful of Dollars is Sergio Leone’s most underappreciated film.  I actually think it might be better than The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  It’s a perfect little Spaghetti Western.  And although I quite enjoy its predecessor, this film is a great step forward, and was the movie where Leone truly mastered his style.


I may be one of the few who finds Bourne Supremacy the weakest of the series.  However, this is one of my favorite action movies of all time.

11.    X2: X-MEN UNITED 

I actually enjoyed the original X-Men, but thought this one was a great step forward.


This film also didn’t receive a single vote.  I despise Tim Burton’s original Batman with every fiber of my being.  This one was silly, but fun, and a big improvement.  Michelle Pfeiffer in a tight cat-suit alone made it better.

Others I think are big leaps forward: Terminator 2, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Gremlins 2, Spider-Man 2, Casino Royale, The Road Warrior, The Bride of Frankenstein, Star Trek IV, The Dark Knight, Desperado, Final Destination 2.

Others I think may be better, but aren’t significantly enough better to warrant being on this list: Aliens, The Godfather II, and (I’ll get slammed for this) Empire Strikes Back.

And a few people voted for these films I don’t think are as good as their preceding film: Back to the Future 2, Crank 2: High Voltage, 28 Weeks Later, and, yes, even the original Dawn of the Dead (only because Night is a masterpiece, and there’s no pie/seltzer water fight in it!)

More Questions of the Day on Twitter, and their results, coming soon.  To take part just follow me there.

P.S. Yesterday, I forgot to put PORKY’S 2 on my own personal worst sequels list.




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  • Hey, thanks Linda! For the CockadoodyCompliment and makin’ a great site run schmoov.

  • Just Linda

    Anybody who uses “cockadoody” in a sentence is ok by me.

  • Man, I forgot to mention Star Trek. Actually, I really enjoy Star Trek: The Motion Picture. When I was a kid I really didn’t understand the premise of V’ger in the first movie. I didn’t understand that it was the Voyager project that evolved into a living entity. Hell, I was 6. I was like, “Man, this is boring and my Sprite’s got too much ice in it!” Well, that’s all I remember of that movie-going experience when I was at that age. Well, that and the long line that snaked around that theater in the Long Beach sun. My friend got sunburned in the middle of winter! Then a couple decades later, I’d decided to sit down and watch all the Star Treks in their entirety in chronological order. It turned out that I loved Motion Picture and Wrath of Khan equally. Both great films. Conceptually, Motion Picture is just interesting and very well structured from a dramatic sense. I enjoyed Wrath of Khan a lot too, but that was more visceral and had battles and blew up the Enterprise for fucksake!

  • To me, Terminator 2 is the best movie that should never have been made. … Don’t jump on me yet, I swear I really like T2 and wish it no ill. No that it need fear me what with it’s mimetic poly-alloy endo-exo-evro-skeleton.

    It’s just that the elegance and tin-drum-tightness of T1’s premise and execution are rather inspiring to me; the original did something often attempted and rarely achieved; it made us accept that EVERYTHING rides on the outcome of a brief, clearly defined struggle told from the perspective of a very average person thrust into the roll of hero. To wit: On an ordinary LA night in 1985, a meek, work-a-day waitress becomes the indispensable hero in the FINAL BATTLE of makind’s ultimate war. Our hero’s “mission” is simple, primal, and urgent: survive. All will be won or lost TONIGHT; There is no stopping the war; there will be no more battles: THIS IS IT.

    So, when a sequel was announced I felt like someone walked in and said : “oh, yeah, there was also ANOTHER last battle … and we CAN stop the whole war thing (cause frankly thinking about that thing is a downer).” I was a pissed off little jewboy.

    I know that I sound like Kathy Bates in Misery: (“He didn’t get out of the cockadoody car!”). Don’t mean to but I can feel it happing … (Cockadoooody!). I’m glad T2 got made; it’s a cool action flick with some great ideas. I don’t wanna change the timeline or nothin’ so that it was never made … although I wouldn’t mind going back in time to degauss Sarah Conner’s voiceover tracks ..

    I just kinda think it’s interesting (and very cool) that movies/stories can end up being pretty great in defiance of crassly commercial, creatively impoverished or wrongheaded origins. I can’t imagine why that would interest me, living in Hollywood.

  • thedre438

    I have to go on record to say, that I think Mad Max is a FAR better movie than ANY other Mad Max sequels! Thanks for the list though and for being awesome, have a great day all!

  • Yeah, wasn’t a fan of the Scissorhands score or movie.

    But on another note, if I was around at the time of this vote, I woulda voted for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. That flick was fuckin’ kickass.

  • I’m talking about the original Superman movies.
    I think T2 is significantly better than T1 but neither hold up fantastically all these years later.
    The first Aliens is revolutionary. In some ways Aliens is better, but in some ways it’s a bit more dated too. All that rtrue-to-life stuff in the first Alien is hard to beat.
    Best Burton Elfman score is Edward Scissorhands.

  • You’d have to specify which versions of the Superman movies you’re talking about seeing that there are a three versions of the first and two versions of the second. I thought the Richard Lester version of part 2 was way better than the weird incomplete Donner Cut–even with the weird flying S.

    Terminator and Terminator 2 is a weird experience for me. I think T1 is great from a bare bones, gritty horror/action film which was what it felt like in 1984. The camera work was simple, but effective. T2 is basically the same movie with the same dialogue and many repeated action sequences. But as much as they are the same, I treat them differently and that’s due to the dramatic budget difference. When I watch T2, I don’t see a $100-mil movie. In fact, I wonder where that money went. But it’s not as interesting to watch almost 20 years later. I still find it entertaining, but I happen to enjoy T3: Rise of the Machines a lot more. Not talkin’ quality, talkin’ entertainment value which I hold above aesthetics.

    Empire Strikes Back is probably the only Star Wars film I like. In fact, I love Empire. It’s the movie that made me WANT to be a filmmaker.

    Aliens is a great movie! What a way to build on top of an already established mythology! And that’s what I give not just that movie, but the series in general. Walter Hill and Giler should be proud. Oh, and I love the 154-minute version better than the original theatrical cut.

    Funny thing about Batman Returns. Hated both Tim Burton films. But I love what Burton was attempting to do with part 2. It was kinda creepy. But that fuckin’ ridiculous and damn near pointless programmable Batarang with the TV monitor on it was just lame. Why not just throw the fuckin’ thing? But it was my favorite of the Burton-Elfman movie scores. Awesome would be the word for that musical collaboration.

  • wnyxmcneal

    Weird. We have the opposite viewpoint on the Shrek series. Shrek 1 is a blast, while Shrek 2 has too much emo Shrek.

  • *Standing Ovation* Yes! Evil Dead 2! Agree with you 100% there. And Sheri Moon Zombie looked amazingly hotter (if that’s even possible) in The Devil’s Rejects so that was an added bonus right there.

  • Thomas – I am huge fan of HK cinema, especially the new Kung Fu boom of the early to mid nineties. I have a couple hundred of HK movies on videotape from that era. Someday I’ll list my favorites, but Drunken Master II is definitely among them, not to mention quite a few that most people have never heard of (Passion 1995, anyone?)

  • opsin

    Certainly, like you say, I’ve tended to go with Identity over Supremacy. Ultimatum I’ve only seen the once though… I remember liking it, but will definitely have to go back to them soon. Have to track down Ultimatum on disk…

  • I’ll jump in and agree with everyone about Evil Dead II but I just want to give you credit for Drunken Master II. One of my favourite films of all time, by far the most watched film I have in my collection and unfortunately one of Jackie Chan’s most underrated films. And credit too for mentioning The Killer (another of my most-watched favourites). I didn’t know you were such a Hong Kong cinema fan.

  • I 100% agree with you on For A Few Dollars More, James.

  • Tracy!

    I don’t think I ever even seen Shrek 2. What happens in that one? And I’m glad that there is someone out there that likes TOY STORY 2 as much as me.

  • ‘Harold’ (John Cho) from ‘Harold and Kumar’ as Mr. Sulu and Simon Pegg as Scottie. They could have gone for the hat trick and scored Jason Bateman as Mr. Spock. I’m looking forward to it.

    ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘A Few Dollars More’ I like.

    In the Bourne Ultimatum, how Bourne got into the CIA building to steal the documents was a little to “magic” for me.

  • jcove

    I am very happy Evil Dead 2 is up there. For me, Evil Dead 2 is the best movie ever made!!!!

  • I imagine the next category has to be best remakes BUT…
    After that ….

    Best Movies from TV? The Fugitive was stunningly good and, EVEN MORE:
    I have always marveled at what the sceenwriter did with THE BRADY BUNCH. Some idiotic exec decides to make the film and a screenwriter does something that brilliantly funny!?!? Come’on! Wow!

    In fact: best movies that should never have been made is another category … and brady bunch is right up there.

  • I really don’t have any complaints with the exception of Hellboy II; the first one was solid but the Golden Army only looks nice, the story is lame.

    Return of the Living Dead II was a good one “Get that Screwdriver out of my head” has always been one of my fave movie lines.

  • I’ve probably only seen a little more than half of the films listed (not a big fan of Action or Sci-Fi) – and have forgotten what most of them were like (good or bad). I thought about naming The Devil’s Rejects, because I do agree it’s better than House of 1,000 corpses – but, I like that movie too, so I refrained. Side note: I didn’t really care for Before Sunrise, but I’m somewhat intrigued by Before Sunset now, after reading your mini-review.

  • ThatGermanGuy

    Just a few days ago I caught the first Star Trek movie on TV again and I seriously think that, while I can see why people don’t like it, it is a pretty good movie. (But yes, ‘Khan’ is without a doubt better.)
    And I still don’t get all the love for ‘The Dark Knight’. To me it’swatchable, but also forgettable. Full of the typical action movie cliches, unnecessary subplots that lead to nothing (and always end with new bomb that the Joker set up somewhere), characters that I don’t care for in any second, in-your-face 9/11 analogies and Ledger’s Joker is as annoying and unthreatening as Tommy Lee Jones in ‘Batman Forever’.
    I also don’t think that ‘Aliens’ is better than ‘Alien’. It’s a great action movie, but part 1 still scares the shit out of me!
    And I disagree on ‘Final Destination 2’, because that they from now on played the deaths seriously ONLY for laughs, is in my eyes a huge step back. (But the movie starts with one of the greatest car crashes in movie history. I have to give it that.)
    And while I read this list I wondered where my head was today, because I got no idea why I didn’t think of ‘Hellboy 2’, ‘Evil Dead 2’ and ‘Batman Returns’. (Pfeiffer & DeVito show Ledger how it’s done right: Over the top, but not silly!)
    Anyway, for any reason I always enjoy these lists, doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with them. I just love lists. I love to make them and I love to read them. (What does that say about me?)

    Have a nice day. :)

  • I’m very much on board with Evil Dead 2.

    If we go with under appreciated sequels, I’m throwing Temple of Doom out there. For some reason, people like to hate on that flick. He takes the dude’s heart out! Come on!

    In terms of horror, I really enjoy Bride of Chucky. Of course, I also enjoy Jason X and Freddy vs. Jason, so don’t listen to me.

  • I’m glad Evil Dead II is on there, but I do prefer the first.
    I don’t really have a ABSOLUTE best sequel list, but films on it would be: Evil Dead II, Terminator 2, Blood Feast 2, Demons 2, Ginger Snaps 2 (pretty equal with the first), Return Of The Living Dead 2 (also equal), and so on.

    Take care, Gunn!
    Ronny – FilmBizarro.com (I’m likely to review Tromeo & Juliet, Slither and Lollilove there in the future. PG Porn is already there.)

  • tonicat

    I agree with your whole list..
    That’s exactly the list I would’ve written…

  • Glad to see Evil Dead 2 getting the love it deserves. I had a friend house-sit for me so I made sure he had both Evil Deads to watch. He now thinks I am sick and depraved. I find it to be an effective tool for weeding out unworthy friends.

    But… The Dark Knight? Really?? I thought it was great but Batman Begins was more cohesive and had more heart, I believe.

    BTW, BttF2 is hiding up there under #12. Very sneaky. That Christopher Lloyd is sly.

  • Nice list. I never thought of The Devil’s Rejects as a sequel for some weird reason. Evil Dead 2 is better than the first.

  • Nope, not a single vote for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

  • Swykk

    Ditto on your Bourne Trilogy assessment, James.

  • Swykk

    No love for Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey…too bad. Overall, a fine list, though.

    Would you believe that I just saw Star Trek 2 for the first time yesterday and I’m 30?

    In gearing up for tomorrow’s reboot, which I was skeptical of (more on this soon), being that I don’t care for Star Trek very much (in ANY of its forms), it was suggested that I watch Wrath of Khan. I’m glad I did, it’s a good movie!

    The reboot/prequel…when I first heard about it, like I said, I wasn’t interested but then when casting news broke, I started paying more attention and when the actual trailer hit (not the boring voice over building the Enterprise teaser), I knew I had to give it a shot. Plus, Simon Fucking Pegg for fuck’s sake!

  • For me Bourne is 1) Ultimatum, 2) Identity, 3) Supremacy.

  • opsin

    Nice to see you put BttF2 in the list of films people were wrong about… That series went downhill from it’s beginning. First movie was great, the second was alright, and the third was dumb as nuts.
    But I’m with you on Aliens and Empire too.

    As for Bourne, I really like them, but I haven’t quite worked out how I feel they stack up against each other. For ages I’ve felt that the first one was slightly better shot than the second, though everyone says that Greengrass improved the direction. I’m going to have to go back and watch them all to decide, but I always felt we could see less of the fight sequences in the second, and given they put so much effort into making them interesting it seemed like an oversight, for the sake of the frenetic feel.