The Trouble with Trilogies (Alliteration: +100 points for this post)

Ever written a story that couldn’t just fit into one short story/novel? There are just some characters you want to continue with forever.

What I’m talking about–wait for it–is Batman. Okay, but really, let’s speak generally. Why does it always have to be a trilogy? A beginning, a fall, and then a rise from the ashes–Star Wars does this, Hunger Games does this, the latest Batman franchise does this (there’s a trinity for you right there).

What’s interesting in the cases of franchises like Star Wars and Nolan’s Batman is that the second installment is (hardly arguable) the best in the series. They’re also the darkest moments (okay, Bane got considerably close). Why are we drawn to these dark moments? Probably because we feel genuinely threatened by the villains, which makes for a much more interesting story than knowing the good guy is going to flat-out win. It’s also where the heroes shine the most, maybe not in victory, but in their ultimate resolve. Luke Skywalker might have lost the Battle of Hoth and his hand, but he’s still resisted the dark side.

I guess the question for us as writers is whether we should follow the trilogy pattern. I like my protagonist, and I was thinking of having at least a couple books (if I can ever finish the first). Christopher Nolan said after The Dark Knight that he couldn’t figure out how to do a third film, that the story might just end there. But I think it’s safe to say he made a satisfying ending to the story. So it’s possible.

What do you think? Should storywriters in all different media keep doing three-parters or should they experiment? Or should they just write the one installment and get on with their lives? Does this work differently for some genres (e.g. action, fantasy) and not for others? Who is the Batman?

Oh yeah, that’s me.



About Richard S.

M.P.A. Candidate, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs | History buff, econ geek, policy wonk and aspiring author from Los Angeles. Follow me on Twitter @richard_cecil
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One Response to The Trouble with Trilogies (Alliteration: +100 points for this post)

  1. Some good observations there Richard. I think the three-part trilogy is a great approach. Should it continue to be done? Is it getting overused? I don’t think so, the fact is, it works, and people still pay money to see/read it, so hey, if it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

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