As we’ve all learned the hard way, there are movies that never should have had a sequel—Dumb and Dumberer, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, and the horror flick Caddyshack II. For me, all of these follow-ups are the cinematic equivalents of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
The same holds true for books. Of course, every reader has her own opinion, but Five Shades of Grey would have been more than plenty for me. And when it comes to vampires, the original 1897 Dracula by Bram Stoker will suffice. (But what do I know about modern culture? I don’t even like cupcakes or hashtags.)
Some writers were wise enough to let their original creations stand alone and sequel-less. And thank heavens, because no one wants to read these 10 sequels:
1987, by George Orwell (1984)
Ronald Reagan undergoes prostate surgery, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken opens in China, and Debbie Gibson releases “Out of the Blue.” People worldwide wish a dystopian planet had to come pass, but instead they’re left with the option of seeing Throw Momma From the Train or Adventures in Babysitting.
I Guess We’d Better Turn Around, by Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)
It’s like the children’s poetry playbook to lowering the bar, giving up on your dreams, calling it a day, and going home.
The Older Man and the Nursing Home Aquarium, by Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea)
After eighty-five days of unsatisfactory napping, Santiago finally has a good snooze in front of the assisted living saltwater tank. He dreams of applesauce that isn’t served at room temperature.
Rhett’s Butler, by Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind)
This is kind of like a turn-of-the-20th-century Mr. Belvedere, but without any humor, and with more humidity. (If this book were ever written, publishers could just use a screen grab from the show for their book cover.)
Run, Friar Laurence, Run by William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)
Spoiler alert: Friar Laurence isn’t much of an athlete.
Is It Hot in Here? Or Is It Just Me, Margaret? by Judy Blume (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret)
Newly single and going through “the change,” Margaret runs into Philip Leroy at a local bar. She barely recognizes him in his bifocals, but that’s because she’s not wearing hers. They have a couple of wine spritzers, but Margaret has to cut things short when she realizes that it’s almost time for “Storage Wars.”
101 Recipes for Lentil Loaf, by Upton Sinclair (The Jungle)
And also a decent babaganoush.
These Phonies Aren’t Half Bad! by J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)
Holden Caulfield returns to Pencey Prep for his 15th high school reunion to find he’s pleasantly surprised—shocked, really—at how tolerable his former classmates are. “I can’t believe we didn’t hang out more!” he says throughout the book. “What is UP with that?!” The novel ends with Holden winning the karaoke contest. “Doesn’t this place smell EXACTLY the same?” he asks into the microphone. “I mean EXACTLY! Dude. Guys. Seriously. We should do this more often.”
Squeeeeeee!!! by E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web)
I think we all know what happens to Wilbur after Charlotte passes and her children are left to defend him. The internet is invented, and instead of slaughtering pigs, humans watch funny videos of them on BuzzFeed. Wilbur gets his fifteen minutes of fame, is even featured on The Soup, but his tour bus is sideswiped by the One Direction tour bus, and Wilbur is killed in the wreckage.
The Big Red B, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter)
While being a big ole “B” isn’t necessarily immoral, it is nice to let people know when one is entering the village. “Where my B’s at?” one villager asks. They’re everywhere.
What books do you think would have yielded terrible sequels?