Sequels That Took Forever To Get Made, But Were Totally Worth The Wait

Ashley Hunte
Movie posters featuring Scarface, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Back to the Future.
Unsplash | Samuel Regan-Asante

Sometimes, you go to see a movie and end up loving it so much, the only thing you want is more. And then you read an article with those six magic words: "a sequel is in the works."

But not every movie gets that magic sequel. Or maybe it does, but not for years (Avatar 2, anyone?). The movies in this list got their sequels... eventually. But they were well worth the wait.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

Princess Leia saying "May the force be with you."
Giphy | Star Wars

Ever since A New Hope dropped in theaters in 1977, Star Wars fans have spent years awaiting sequels, prequels, and everything in between. The period of time between 2005's Revenge of the Sith, the third installment of the prequel trilogy, and The Force Awakens, was just 10 years.

But as the start of the sequel trilogy, the wait for a continuation was actually a lot longer.

The characters of Star Wars: The Force Awakens standing in a desert shelter.
Giphy |

Return of the Jedi came out all the way back in 1983, meaning fans were technically waiting 32 years for the story's continuation. But considering how successful (yet familiar) 2015's sequel was, it was well worth the wait.

Before Sunset (2004).

The characters of Before Sunrise aged up in the sequel, Before Sunset.
Giphy |

The Before movie trilogy is unique in that each installment comes 9 years after the last, starting in 1995 with Before Sunrise, then 2004's Before Sunset, and most recently 2013's Before Midnight. And on director Richard Linklater's part, this is deliberate (remember, this is the same dude behind 2014's Boyhood).

And yes, each installment is worth the wait.

The main characters of Before Sunset hugging.

Roger Ebert's review of Before Sunset praised the sequel as a step-up from the original, saying, "Before Sunrise was a remarkable celebration of the fascination of good dialogue. But Before Sunset is better, perhaps because the characters are older and wiser... and perhaps because [Ethan] Hawke and [Julie] Delpy wrote the dialogue themselves."

Twin Peaks: The Return (2017).

Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks (2017).
Giphy | Twin Peaks on Showtime

Unlike most of the entries in this list, Twin Peaks: The Return is a continuation of a show, not a movie (though the original '90s series did have a follow-up film in 1992).

It took 25 years for the next installment to come out.

A man in a suit leaving a convertible with a smiling woman in the driver's seat.
Giphy | Twin Peaks on Showtime

Twenty-five years after the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and 26 years after the end of the show's second season, fans were finally able to see what happens next. And if the high critical and audience praise is anything to go by, it was worth waiting for.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

Several giant vehicles with people standing and holding flags on them driving along a sandy desert.

The world of Mad Max was first introduced to the silver screen in 1980. Then came 1981's Mad Max 2, and 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Then a few decades of production hell. Then finally, 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road.

It only took a mere three decades for the next film in the series to release.

Furiosa walking dramatically next to a vehicle.

I don't think I have to tell you whether this movie was worth the wait or not. After all, its 10 Oscar nominations kind of speak for themselves.

Toy Story 3 (2010).

An animated teddy bear and a baby doll standing in a dark-lit area.
Giphy | Disney

1995's Toy Story is like a cultural landmark for pretty much anyone who considers themselves to be a millennial. Its 1999 sequel hit the mark just as well. And while it took 11 years for Toy Story 3 to continue the story, it effectively aged alongside the original audience, showing Andy growing up and going to college.

Ash vs Evil Dead (2015).

A zombie woman holding a knife menacingly.
Giphy | Ash vs Evil Dead

1981's The Evil Dead spawned an entire film series that spanned the '80s and early '90s. But after 1992's Army of Darkness, fans were left wanting more. And they got it, though they had to wait 23 years.

But the series got revived, this time as a TV show.

Ash (Evil Dead) saying, "Hang in there, it's gonna be worth it."
Giphy | Ash vs Evil Dead

Ash vs Evil Dead took all the charm that fans had come to love, and made a three-season series out of it. With each season getting stellar ratings, it was worth waiting a couple decades for it.

Tron: Legacy (2010).

A black an neon blue glowing hoop.

1982's Tron is a visually impressive cult classic. 2010's Tron: Legacy is also a visually impressive cult classic. It was definitely a movie made for the fans, and while it may not do much in terms of plot, it's still a pretty fun time, and Daft Punk's soundtrack is still amazing.

Bad Boys for Life (2020).

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence pointing at each other while in a bar.
Giphy | Bad Boys For Life

Bad Boys first came onto the scene in 1995. Then, 8 years later, Bad Boys II released in 2003. Seventenn years after that, fans were treated to the third installment, 2020's Bad Boys for Life.

It turned out to be just what 2020 needed.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence giving each other a fist bump at sunset.
Giphy | Bad Boys For Life

I don't think I need to remind you how colossally dreary 2020 was. But movies like Bad Boys for Life, which was fun from start to finish, is probably exactly what we needed that year.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017).

A large hologram of a neon pink and purple woman pointing at a man on a bridge.

1982's Blade Runner is another very distinctly '80s, ultra stylized sci-fi cult classic that took forever to get a sequel. Though, unlike Tron and Tron: Legacy, which may only appeal to a niche audience, Blade Runner and its sequel have a bit more broad appeal.

And as it happens, Blade Runner 2049 hits the mark.

A screenshot of the 2017 movie, Blade Runner 2049, where a character is walking in an orange, hazy cityscape next to a futuristic vehicle.
IMDb | Warner Bros via IMDb

Thirty-five years later, 2017's Blade Runner 2049 is the kind of movie you can go into without knowing anything about its predecessor. In fact, for new fans, it might be better to see it without having seen the original.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020).

Borat driving with a girl who then tries to stand out of the passenger window.

In 2006, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan hit theaters and made waves. Its premise was simple, and yet its comedy resonated with many people at the time, and in the years to come.

So when a sequel released 14 years later, fans were elated.

Borat standing in front of a group of people as well as some pigs in a village.
IMDb | Borat Subsequent Moviefilm via IMDb

In 2020, Sacha Baron Cohen donned his Borat costume once more, and delivered a sequel that was probably way better than people feared it would be. Worth the wait for sure.

Dawn of the Dead (1978).

A group of aggressive zombies rushing into an open elevator.
Giphy | Maudit

1968's Night of the Living Dead is one of horror's most revolutionary films. It has left its mark in horror, helping to popularize several subgenres such as the zombie apocalypse. But it took legendary director George A. Romero 10 years to release a sequel.

But when it came out, it was totally worth the wait.

The main character of Dawn of the Dead (1978) having just taken a swig of Jack Daniels.
Giphy | Maudit

Roger Ebert himself once called Dawn of the Dead "one of the best horror films ever made." If that's not an indication of the series' legacy, I don't know what is.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Tom Cruise as Maverick in the cockpit of a fighter jet
Facebook | Top Gun

Considering an astounding 36 years elapsed between the release of Top Gun and its sequel, you'd be right to worry about fans losing their loving feeling. Nevertheless, Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer made their triumphant return to the cockpit at long last, and audiences have turned out in droves, setting a new record for domestic box office over Memorial Day weekend by pulling in $156 million.