A poll on IMDB inspired me. What a great topic. The given choices were:
The Dark Knight Rises, The Return Of The King, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2, Saw 3D, Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, The Matrix Revolutions, Shrek Forever After, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 2, The Hangover Part 3, Rocky Balboa, Back To The Future Part 3, High School Musical 3, Godzilla: Final Wars, The Human Condition 3, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, The Godfather Part 3, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, Death Wish V, The Dead Pool, Vegas Vacation, Lethal Weapon 4, Delta Force 3, 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain, The Next Karate Kid, Killer Tomatoes Eat France, and Toy Story 3.
From that list, I would say the five best franchise enders were:
1) Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt 2
Let’s face it. Harry Potter went out on a strong note, which is more than I can say for most of the franchises on that list.
2) The Return Of The King
While Two Towers was my favorite of the trilogy, the finale is also quite epic. Another solid way to end the franchise.
3) The Dark Knight Rises
Like the Lord of the Rings franchise, my favorite was the 2nd film, but that doesn’t mean the third film wasn’t good. I really enjoyed the third film, and thought Tom Hardy was a great incarnation of Bane.
4) Toy Story 3
I wrote a while back about how Toy Story 3 wasn’t as good as the first two, but it was a good way to wrap up the franchise… which is more than I can say for the bulk of the films on that list.
5) The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Possibly the most recognizable Man With No Name film. Clint Eastwood at his finest.
I’m leaving off both Star Wars films, because I don’t really consider Revenge Of The Sith to be a series ender, and Return Of The Jedi is generally recognized as being a step down in quality from The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. Not a terrible film, and would rank in the 6-10 category, but not strong enough for the Top 5.
And… some that weren’t great. (And I have to admit I haven’t seen everything on the list).
1) Saw 3D
This franchise lived way too long. Once you lost Jigsaw, you lost your point. They could have done a trilogy, and made it solid, but instead they tried to cash in and do as many as possible, and by the time this franchise ended, everyone wanted it to stay dead.
2) The Godfather Part 3
Probably better than some of the films on this list, but in no way in the same league as 1 and 2.
3) Shrek Forever After
A little bit of a rebound from Shrek The Third, but 3 and 4 in this series are awful compared to 1 and 2.
4) The Hangover Part 3
There really should have only been one Hangover.
5) 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain
Awful. I loved the first 3 Ninjas as a part of my childhood, but by the time this came out, they weren’t even the same 3 Ninjas anymore. None of the original 3 Ninjas did High Noon. When you can’t get the original 3 Ninjas, who basically have no other credits to their name, to return to your film… you’ve got problems. Fun fact: Victor Wong did return to play Grandpa!