Why is it so hard make a great last third of a trilogy? Time and again, successful and popular movies beget franchises with hugely disappointing conclusions. People talk about filmmakers’ sophomore slumps; with franchises, it’s more often the third that’s a turd.

Part of the reason why could just be a matter of probability. So many things have to go right in order for a movie to become a hit — the script, the director, the casting, supporting studio executives — that it’s basically a miracle when it does. Getting three miracles in a row, well, that’s like a double rainbow of miracles. It’s almost mathematically impossible.

Picking the worst final thirds of movie trilogies is tricky, though, and not just because there are so many candidates to choose from. In making our list, we decided to limit ourselves to movies that legitimately ended a franchise, mostly because that restricted us to true film trilogies (as opposed to series with more than three movies in them). Plus, if a franchise continued past a bad third film, how awful could it really be? For example, X-Men: The Last Stand is a pretty underwhelming third film, and if you want to be really technical about it, it did conclude that initial X-Men movie trilogy. But then Fox made 10 more X-Men movies! It was hardly the end of anything.

With that in mind, here are our picks for the 15 worst conclusions to movie trilogies. And before you ask, no Spider-Man 3 is not on the list. That’s because Spider-Man 3 is not a bad movie. (Ditto The Godfather Part III.) There are much much worse third films than those two — see for yourself below.

The Worst Third Films in Movie Trilogies

For some reason, it’s very hard to nail the finale of a movie trilogy. And here is the proof.
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