The 50 Greatest Movie Franchises of All Time


Now more than ever, the motion picture industry runs on franchises. There’s no point, it seems, to making a big budget movie any more if you aren’t already planning to spin it into three, four, ten or twenty follow-up films. And although the old adage claims that “sequels suck,” audiences are discovering more and more that this doesn’t have to be the case. Some of the best films of the past few years have been sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots of beloved properties, proving that movie franchises can be as artistically valid as any other form of media.

With movie franchises now seemingly the norm in Hollywood, CraveOnline has decided to take this opportunity to determine which long-running series of films are the best ever produced. Our four film critics – William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold, Brian Formo and Fred Topel – each nominated 50 movie franchises, ranked from 1-50, which were then pooled together to come up with our cumulative 50 Greatest Movie Franchises of All Time.


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What qualifies as a movie franchise? Each series must be at least three films long, either taking place in the same world or distinctly marketed as a thematically connected series of films. (Example: John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” wouldn’t qualify, but Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors” Trilogy would.) If a reboot of a franchise has already produced more than three films set in an all-new continuity, then that qualifies as a new franchise. (Example: Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are a new franchise, Marc Webb’s Spider-Man movies are not… yet.) Exceptions could be made for “soft” reboots, like the James Bond franchise, but those decisions were left to the critics’ discretion.

Most importantly, each franchise was judged based on the average quality of all the films within it; meaning that if a beloved series had three great installments and three terrible ones, it could average out to a lower overall ranking than you might expect. 


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Did your favorite movie franchise crack the Top 50? Find out here, and then scroll down to see the 49 other films which received votes from our critics, just not enough to make the final list.

Which franchises did we miss? Which ones should have ranked higher or lower? Let us know in the comments below!


Slideshow: The 50 Greatest Movie Franchises of All Time


49 More Recommended Movie Franchises:

The Mick Travis Trilogy (Three Films)

M. Hulot (Four Films)

Mission: Impossible (Four Films)

Basket Case (Three Films)

X-Men (Seven Films)

Child’s Play (Six Films)

Yojimbo (Four Films)

Hammer Dracula (Nine Films)

Hammer Frankenstein (Seven Films)

Halloween (Ten Films)

George Smiley (Three Films)

Coffin Joe (Three Films)

The Ninja Trilogy (Three Films)

Death Wish (Five Films)

Rambo (Four Films)

The Marx Bros. (Fourteen Films)

George A. Romero’s Living Dead (Six Films)

Tetsuo (Three Films)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Four Films)

Police Story (Seven Films)

Lethal Weapon (Four Films)

The Howling (Eight Films)

Superman (Six Films)

Jason Bourne (Four Films)

The Matrix (Four Films)

The Naked Gun (Three Films)

The Stepfather (Four Films)

Shaft (Four Films)

Karate Kid (Five Films)

Honey, I [Blank] the Kids (Three Films)

El Mariachi (Three Films)

The Pink Panther (Eleven Films)

L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies (Twelve Films)

Paranormal Activity (Five Films)

Maniac Cop (Three Films)

Hannibal Lecter (Five Films)

Police Academy (Seven Films)

Beverly Hills Cop (Three Films)

Species (Four Films)

Psycho (Six Films)

Undisputed (Three Films)

Universal Soldier (Six Films)

Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy (Three Films)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Seven Films)

Highlander (Six Films)

The Love Bug (Six Films)

Resident Evil (Five Films)

American Pie (Eight Films)

The Omen (Five Films)


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