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The Life and Death of a Franchise

The 5 stages your favorite stories go through.

By BlankmarksPublished about a year ago 5 min read
The Life and Death of a Franchise
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Warning: I go a bit off the rails with the morbid humor here and there. If you don’t want to see me get a bit too personal, don’t read this.

Despite my short life, I’ve seen franchises come and go. From my personal experience, there are 5 stages to a franchise’s life.

Today, I want to examine and explain for anyone curious. Also to look back at the good times and lament the dark ages.

This is only talking about entertainment franchises like movies and TV shows.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the beginning.

Growing Pains

This is when the story or world just starts out. Its identity is still not fully formed.

The audience is small and its range is niche. It might not know what it’s doing but it has the spirit.

The sky is the limit for a franchise at this point. All it needs are loving and sensible fans to grow into something that stands the test of time.

With enough time and love, it will either enter the silver or golden age.

Golden/Silver Age

This is the peak of a franchise. Yep, only 2 stages in and it already peaked.

From what I’ve seen and remember, this used to take place over years or decades.

But now, franchises seem dead set on passing this phase as quickly as possible. As if they see death as something sweet.

This phase is when the audience explodes and the high quality is more consistent.

Any long-term story plans will reach their climax during this phase. Think Infinity War and Endgame.

But there are two versions of this, Golden and Silver.

Silver: It never escapes its niche but makes a good amount of money. The fans love it and that’s all that matters. Can end gracefully.

Golden: It blows out of its niche and enters the mainstream. So much money…so much new attention…

Regardless of the version, it’s truly a time to be alive during this time. Your favorite franchise is getting the attention and budget it deserves.

With attention comes floods of money and new fans. But with those blesses come snakes in the grass.

Oh, This Is A Business Now

It’s not over yet but the cracks are starting to show. The franchise you’ve grown up with is starting to make money and it needs to keep doing that.

The stockholders demand it to keep making more money every year. The franchise complies and more of its soul is slowly shaved away.

The plans they had before are over. The story and world weren’t made to go on this long. This is the time when the company throws everything at the wall and hopes something sticks.

Some new fans come in and don’t notice this. They act as if they were here from the jump and think this degradation isn’t happening.

These lyrics perfectly capture this process:

“I’m offended. People love to sit and talk about them trenches. But not one of you got mud on you from diggin’. I was in this back when no one saw the vision. How you come in like you’ve been here; so offensive.”

From KILL, A Departure to the Land of Forgotten Smiles

Replace I’m and I with we’re and we then you’ll get the picture. Sadly, It gets even worse.

A percentage of the new “fans” don’t really like the franchise you love. Maybe they like a tiny bit of it but that’s not enough. They want to change it to suit them alone.

They don’t do this to improve the quality but to bring the franchise into the mainstream collective.

Another cog in the machine to box up and ship. Yes, the thing you once loved is nothing more than a cheap product now.

Simply a Product

Now, it has one foot in the grave. Continuity, integrity, and any decency be damned.

The wicked and corrupt have finally won the day. They have full control on both sides to do whatever they want with what you love.

The new “fans” and general consumers will back anything the business slings at them.

The franchise is too big to fail after all. It supports too many people and the business itself. Whether it be money or politics, your favorite franchise is nothing but a mouthpiece for it.

Soon or later, hopefully soon, this can only lead to one thing.


This doesn’t have to happen due to foul play but simple disinterest, lack of money, or bad timing.

But in most cases, it’s never a natural death. The story and world don’t bow out gracefully. It is slowly suffocated by people that had nothing to do with its creation.

The franchise you know, whether physically or morally, is dead. The business will put it on ice and find another franchise to do the same thing to.

But, maybe it’s better this way. It could be much worse.

Walking Dead

There are two ways this can happen.

• Your favorite story ended gracefully, lucky you! Oh, what's this? Did your favorite story make a lot of money or impact culture? Sorry to say but I got some news for you buddy.

• Your favorite story has died long ago, it’s just being dragged through the street as if it didn’t. The quality didn’t just decrease, it was pushed off a cliff.

Anything for a profit or to send a message. Your favorite world and characters aren’t who they once were. Corrupted or even destroyed right in front of you.

This is the fate of every story you love. Unless it stays at stage 2, the silver version, it won’t escape this.

Even stories owned by sensible creative people alone. Even if they don’t have external backers or third-party influences, they won’t escape. Time will claim those franchises eventually.

The snakes will find a way when the creators are dead and buried.

There’s nothing you can do but accept it. It’s not like we can stop time or end all life. No life, no dead dreams.


Sorry if this was depressing and a bit harsh in some places. I didn’t want to remove them for the sake of transparency and honesty.

Next time I’ll write an article about how to delay the end for your own budding franchises. That will have a lighter tone.

Until then you can read these 3 articles to get started.

How To Create A Modern Myth

How To Deal With Your Favorite Franchises Dying (Just in case this post got you down)

How To Start A Shared Universe

After that, tell me in the comments what franchise this post made you think of.

With that, I’m done.

moviepop cultureentertainmentcomics

About the Creator


I’m Blankmarks and I love magic and fiction. I’ll write about various magic types and concepts not only for fun but to help writers create new magical worlds. I'll also post short stories, writing tips, and more.

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