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Should Franchises Be Allowed To End?

Should Franchises Be Allowed To End?

A Cycle of Ongoing Legacies: How Much is Too Much?

There have been franchises that have come and gone, while others have been ongoing for multiple decades. They have played pivotal roles in pop culture by having their stories unfold across pages and movie screens along with the collective imaginations of their audiences. From the world of wizards in Harry Potter, the galaxies that take place in Star Wars, and the goofy scenarios that occur with The Simpsons in Springfield, these universes have provided a means to escape reality into the very fabric of certain identities. With each franchise’s massive success comes an inevitable question; should some of them have a definitive end, or should they continue for centuries and persist and leverage their immense popularity? 

The current trend leans heavily towards the latter. In a place dominated by blockbuster sequels, spin-off, remakes, and reboots, the idea of conclusively ending a franchise often seems inconceivable, if not financially misguided. The guaranteed profits of well-established names for producers and studios can pull, but are reluctant to confirm, an epilogue. But is this reluctance a testament to the power, pressure, and potential of a franchise, or is it a disservice to drag on its initial charm and classic essence?

The Artistic Merits of Concluding the Story 

Stories at their core serve to replay experiences, emotions, and lessons. They thrive on certain arcs: beginnings that set the scene and hook the readers or spectators in, middle that builds the tension, and of course the ending and finales that provide resolution. A conclusive ending often brings emotional satisfaction, tying up loose ends and bringing characters full circle. While life rarely provides neat endings, art has the luxury to craft these. A well-concluded story can often feel like a symphony, with every note leading to a climactic end. The narrative becomes more touching, more meaningful, and stands the test of time. Think of classics like The Lord of the Rings. The satisfaction derived from its ending is hard to parallel. You can also take the case of Breaking Bad. The series was acclaimed not just for its riveting plot, but also its well-thought-out conclusion. However, when franchises become victims of their own success, they might be stretched beyond their logical or creative limits. Characters might be forced into arcs that don’t resonate with their foundational traits. New plots may seem contrived, and the charm that initially drew audiences in can fade, replaced by a sense of obligation to see things through. In the end, art’s integrity can be compromised for potential commercial benefits. On the contrary, franchises that drag on can often lose their way, diluting the very essence that made them special. Dragging on stories can lead to repetitiveness, inconsistencies, and plot contrivances, detracting from the original allure and disenchanting audiences.

Should Franchises Be Allowed To End?

Financial and Business Implications

From a business standpoint, ongoing franchises are goldmines. Merchandising, licensing deals, and box office sales can generate billions. The assurance of a ready audience for sequels and spin-offs minimizes investment risks. It’s undeniable that the entertainment industry thrives on revenue. And what better way to ensure revenue than with a tried and tested formula? This mindset has given birth to a multitude of sequels and spin-offs. For instance, the Marvel universe isn’t just about individual superhero tales but an interconnected web that ensures fans return for more. Yet, there’s a caveat. Just as an over-exploited mine runs dry, franchises can lose their sparkle when over-extended. Audience intelligence has evolved. They’re quick to spot when stories are dragged on for sheer commercial intent. Additionally, with every new addition to a franchise, there’s a monumental task of maintaining consistency and quality. One weak link can not only affect its individual performance but can also tarnish the reputation of the entire franchise. In the race to monetize, the delicate balance between artistic value and commercial intent becomes paramount. However, there’s a flip side. Over-saturating the market with incessant sequels or poorly developed offshoots can lead to franchise fatigue. Moreover, there’s the risk of alienating original fans with drastic changes or overused tropes. Balancing financial aspirations with artistic integrity becomes crucial in this delicate arena.

Fanbase Perspective and Emotional Investment 

Franchises don’t just sell tickets or books; they cultivate communities. Fans invest emotionally, discussing theories, crafting fanfiction, and attending conventions. For many, an ongoing franchise means prolonged engagement and the excitement of new content. Yet, there’s a dichotomy. While fresh content is always awaited, there’s also a deep-rooted desire among fans for satisfying closures, for characters to find their destinies, and for narratives to reach their rightful conclusions. The challenge is to discern when to fuel the fandom’s passion with new tales and when to grant them the closure they sometimes don’t know they need. The bond between a franchise and its fanbase is symbiotic. While franchises offer a universe to escape, reflect, or relate to, fans breathe life into these universes, making them cultural phenomena. They wear their allegiance proudly, debate plot points passionately, and create content that adds layers to the primary narrative. To many, these stories are more than entertainment; they are a part of their identity. However, with this deep emotional investment comes great expectations. Fans yearn for stories that honor their commitment. They look for growth in characters they’ve grown with and seek depth in plots they’ve followed ardently. When franchises are perceived to prioritize commercial gains over content quality, it’s not just disappointment that fans feel; it’s a sense of betrayal. Therefore, while it’s tempting to extend a franchise to cater to its eager fanbase, it’s equally essential to recognize when a story has reached its organic conclusion.

Should Franchises Be Allowed To End?

The Marvels (2023) Official Marvel Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Michael Zabalou is a writer and storyteller based in Minnesota who is currently studying Creative Writing at Metropolitan State University. Michael intends to publish more of his work through several mediums.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.