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The Best Sci-Fi Movies That Never Got A Prequel, Sequel, Remake Or Reboot

While there is a wealth of new content available for audiences, you also can't help but notice the sheer number of remakes, reboots, prequels, and sequels out there — on the big and small screens. Hollywood evidently understands that nostalgia and familiarity equal big business (via Forbes), and this idea is reflected in the seemingly endless roster of follow-ups and new franchise installments. 

Generally speaking, audiences are often most comfortable with characters, universes, and stories that they already know — and it seems like we're in a time where filmmakers are more likely to put a spin on an old story rather than risk introducing a totally new one. With this in mind, it's surprising to consider some of the incredible films out there that have never been given this treatment — especially in the genre of sci-fi. The possibilities in sci-fi are endless and the vast universes lend themselves to remakes, prequels, and sequels — with "Star Wars" perhaps being the best example. The first film was released in 1977, and yet — more than 45 years later — there are still new stories emerging from the galaxy far, far away. 

Given the rise of "cinematic universes" and expansive franchises, why are there some amazing sci-fi films out there that just had a one-and-done story? Here are some of the best sci-fi movies that never got a prequel, sequel, remake, or reboot.


Tom Cruise is no stranger to sci-fi, having starred in films such as "Minority Report" and "Edge of Tomorrow." One that is often overlooked, however, is 2013's "Oblivion." Directed by Joseph Kosinski, "Oblivion" thoughtfully explores ideas of isolation, love, and survival. Not only is the movie visually stunning, but it also includes the supporting talents of Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Morgan Freeman, and features a breathtaking soundtrack composed by the French electronic band, M83.

Cruise plays Jack Harper, a technician who lives on a remote base in a post-apocalyptic world. He and his partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are seemingly the only humans on Earth and are tasked with protecting the ruins of the planet from alien scavengers. Harper believes that he and Victoria will rejoin the remaining human colonists on Saturn's moon once they have completed their objective. However, as they go forward with their task, Harper begins to question who and what he is, and if what he and Victoria are doing is right.

While "Oblivion" does leave us with lots of questions that could be expanded upon, it is the kind of story that would really lend itself to a prequel. It would be interesting to see a film explore how the war-ravaged Earth ended up this way, and what Harper's life was like beforehand. With Cruise still in great shape — and the advancements of de-aging technology — a prequel with the same cast wouldn't be out of the question.


In this 2018 sci-fi film, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is a mechanic living in a futuristic world run by technology. One day, he and his wife are attacked when their hi-tech car malfunctions. The thugs murder Grey's wife, and he is left as a quadriplegic following damage to his spine. Not helped by the trauma of what happened, the previously anti-technology Grey suddenly becomes completely reliant on it when he signs up to be a test subject for an experimental technology to help him walk again.

"Upgrade" shows what someone is capable of doing when they're left with no choice, and the film's ending leaves plenty of room for more exploration. The experiment leaves Grey as an overpowered supercomputer with no empathy for humanity, and this offers so much opportunity for a sequel or franchise. 

The good news is the filmmakers agree, and Deadline announced in 2020 that director Leigh Whannell and producer Jason Blum were turning the movie into a television series. Taking place a few years after the events of the film, the series will focus on a new host, as well as the ways that the government is using evolved technology to deal with criminals and illegal activity. It might not be an easy road to getting the series made, however. In 2021, Blum told Collider that the first scripts didn't make the grade, saying, "We're working on the scripts again, so that we can get an order." Since then, it has gone quiet on the state of the project, but hopefully, it'll get off the ground soon.


Directed by Josh Trank, "Chronicle" was a surprise critical success and box office hit when it was released in 2012. The found-footage film takes the idea of a superhero's origin story and flips it on its head to tell us a villain's origin story instead — delivering a film that is heartfelt, suspenseful, and even uncomfortable at times.

Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) is a high school student, who gets bullied by his peers and father. One day he — along with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and popular jock Steve (Michael B. Jordan) — stumbles across a meteor that gives them telekinetic powers. At first, they use their abilities to enhance their lives, however, as Andrew's suffering grows, so does his need to take power. Consumed by rage, he begins to see himself as an apex predator and believes everyone else is beneath him and should be destroyed. "Chronicle" ends with Matt promising Andrew that he will do good with his gifts. But now that the world has seen their powers, what will Matt do? And how will Andrew's actions and death haunt Matt into his adult life? Only a sequel can answer that. 

While screenwriter Max Landis had penned a sequel, Trank did not want to move ahead with it. The director told Polygon, "I really didn't ever want to see 'Chronicle 2' happen. That was my worst nightmare." Unless he has a change of heart, a follow-up seems very unlikely.


Sci-fi series "Firefly" was something of a cult hit when it was released, with Rotten Tomatoes even naming it as the 12th best sci-fi series of all time. Sadly, this western-turned-space opera never got its chance to shine and was unceremoniously canceled after just one season in 2002 (via The AV Club). Fortunately, the story picks up with the 2005 film "Serenity." The movie follows the same ragtag group of outcasts on the Serenity spaceship, whose lives get upended when River Tam (Summer Glau) — a woman with psychic powers and a strange past — hides on board.

Unfortunately, "Serenity" suffered the same fate as the series — namely, not enough people watched it. The budget for "Serenity" was approximately $39 million (via SyFy), but the movie only made around $40 million worldwide, so the studio vetoed any more talk of sequels. 

While the diehard "Firefly" fans have been calling out for more big-screen adventures for years (via Wired), they are yet to materialize. Star Nathan Fillion told Entertainment Weekly that if he won the lottery, "the first thing I would do is buy the rights to 'Firefly,' make it on my own, and distribute it on the internet." In a later interview with Esquire, Fillion said that this comment "accidentally rallied the troops," as fans started raising money for him to get the rights.

Edge of Tomorrow

Audiences are used to seeing Tom Cruise play the dashing hero, but 2014's "Edge of Tomorrow" offers something new: The character he plays is a bit of a coward. Cruise plays PR officer, Major William Cage, a man reluctantly thrust into a raging war between humans and a seemingly unbeatable race of aliens. At one point, Cage gets infected with alien blood just before dying, and miraculously wakes up hours prior seemingly as the only person with memories of his time on the battlefield. It's "Groundhog Day" meets an alien invasion story, as Cage dies repeatedly in combat. Forced to relive the same battle, he eventually becomes a better fighter — under the tutelage of Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who suffers from the same fate. 

Talk of the next chapter of "Edge of Tomorrow" began almost immediately and in 2016, director Doug Liman told Collider that he had plans to do a prequel. He was thrilled because the story was "much better than the original film" and would "revolutionize how people make sequels." In 2019, Entertainment Weekly confirmed that an "Edge of Tomorrow" prequel was in development at Warner Brothers but just two years later, it (ironically) seemed to be stuck in a loop. Emily Blunt told Entertainment Weekly in 2021 that she had read the treatment for "Edge of Tomorrow 2" and it "was an amazing script, but I just don't know what the future holds for it."


While technically, "Dredd" is a reboot of the 1995 film "Judge Dredd" starring Sylvester Stallone, however, the 2012 film bears very little resemblance to the previous movie and they appear to be connected in name and title character only. As the only film in its particular universe — currently at least — 2012's "Dredd" earns a place on this list.

In a dystopian city called Mega-City One, the judges are the only form of law — with the authoritarian power to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Dredd (Karl Urban) takes the rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) with him to a 200-story apartment to investigate a murder. The building is under the control of a violent drug lord named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), and while she is a formidable foe, she meets her match in the unshakable Judge Dredd. 

Critics praised "Dredd" and fans have subsequently turned it into a cult classic, but unfortunately the movie failed to recoup its $50 million budget with a meager worldwide haul of $41 million (via Box Office Mojo). While the 2018 comic "Dredd: Final Judgment" is an official sequel to the film (via Comic Book Resources), we have yet to see anything new on-screen. Olivia Thirlby expressed her enthusiasm for a "Dredd" sequel, telling Collider in 2021 that she "was always the number one advocate" for another film and "If there is still talk of there being a sequel 10 years later, I am all for it."


Robert Zemeckis' 1997 feature "Contact" — based on a novel of the same name by Carl Sagan — follows Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), a communications specialist who finds proof of alien life. Tasked with going to space in order to make first contact with them, the journey tests her questions about the universe in ways she never anticipated.

Much like 2016's "Arrival," "Contact" is a layered and heavily philosophical story that just happens to be sci-fi as well. It's not a big blockbuster action flick like "Independence day," but instead it offers a slowly building story that will leave you questioning the nature of life and what it means to make true connections. 

Jodie Foster is not an actor who likes to do sequels — she famously passed on reprising her role as Clarice in the sequel to "Silence of the Lambs" (via The Guardian) — unless the plot is exactly what she wants. Similarly, "Contact" is a movie that she holds very close to her heart, making a sequel unlikely. Speaking to Vulture, Foster said that being responsible for the legacy of Carl Sagan — who died while the film was in production — "feels just like a really big deal in my life." A sequel to "Contact" isn't totally out of the question. Co-screenwriter Michael Goldenberg told Vulture that he has a pitch for a limited series, but so far, nothing has come from that.  


Christopher Nolan likes to take audiences on unexpected journeys, and his 2010 sci-fi film "Inception" does just that. The ambitious film plays around with dreams and how they can be powerful motivators. Although much of "Inception" plays like a heist film, the story is ultimately about the lengths a father will go to in order to be with his family. 

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a man wrongly accused of murdering his wife. To avoid arrest, he fled the country and he hasn't seen his children since. Cobb works as an "extractor," using experimental dream technology to infiltrate a person's subconscious to extract information for his clients. When businessman Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) approaches him and asks him to commit to an impossible job, Cobb agrees as he is promised he can finally return home to his children if he pulls it off. 

The ending of "Inception" is deliberately ambiguous, with audiences never finding out if Cobb is in the real world with his kids or still in the dream world. While it is an audacious way to end a film, we'd love to learn more. What about the rest of the characters? If Cobb is trapped in a dream, how will it affect them? What happens if he ever wakes up? Nolan mentioned during a press conference in 2010 that he had ideas of developing "Inception" into a video game (via Wired) and said in a 2021 interview that while he "went fairly far down the road" with it, the game never came to fruition.

Minority Report

2002's "Minority Report" has an incredible amount of talent both in front of and behind the camera, with Tom Cruise in the leading role and Steven Spielberg — responsible for some of the greatest sci-fi films of all time — in the director's chair. Cruise plays Chief John Anderton, the commanding officer of the "Precrime" unit — an experimental prototype program designed to stop murders before they happen. Initially, John wholeheartedly believes in Precrime, until he witnesses a murder that he's about to commit in the future. Once John starts investigating, he uncovers damaging evidence regarding the supposedly fool-proof unit.

The premise for "Minority Report" is instantly engaging, and it feels like a story that could expand into a franchise or multiple installments. The Precrime unit uses the special abilities of three humans called "precogs," who have the ability to see the future and witness crimes before they happen. With their skills proven to be fallible, it opens up a number of questions about them that a sequel could address.

One of the rare exceptions on this list, "Minority Report" was brought back as a television show, airing in 2015. The story takes place a little over 10 years from the film and follows one of the precogs who still retains their ability. Unfortunately, the series was canceled by Fox (via CinemaBlend) after just one season, but there's still room for the story to continue once more on the big screen.

The Martian

Based on the book by Andy Weir, Ridley Scott's 2015 film "The Martian" stars Matt Damon as botanist Dr. Mark Watney. After finding himself stranded on Mars, Watney is tasked with trying to survive on the inhospitable planet while NASA works on a rescue mission to bring him back home. 

Set in the year 2035, "The Martian" effectively rallies audiences behind its protagonist, and by the end, we're all rooting for Watney to make it. This sci-fi film offers a fresh take on the genre, with a focus on pure survival rather than the discovery of alien creatures — the biggest challenges Watney faces are finding and rationing the basic necessities like food and water and trying to maintain his sanity. 

"The Martian" was loved by audiences and critics alike and it was nominated for a total of seven Oscars, but it is unlikely that a sequel will materialize. However, the rights to Andy Weir's follow-up novel "Artemis" — described as "an adrenaline-charged crime caper" — have been acquired by 20th Century Fox and New Regency with no further details released yet (via Deadline).


Based on Katsuhiro Otomo's manga series, 1998's "Akira" imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which Tokyo has become Neo-Tokyo, a dark place filled with violence and corruption. Shotaro Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata) is the leader of a motorcycle gang, who discovers that there's a group of people with telekinetic powers living in Neo-Tokyo and there are others who want to use that power for their own means. 

"Akira" introduces a bleak and violent world, but one that is also thought-provoking and challenging. Since its release, it has been the subject of hyperbolic praise, with Dazed declaring it, "the most important animation of all time." It is a film still referenced to this day, with filmmakers like Jordan Peele paying homage to it in 2022's "Nope" (via Empire).

While there have been numerous attempts to turn "Akira" into a live-action movie — with Warner Bros. first acquiring the rights to it in 2002 — so far, nothing has emerged (via Comic Book Resources). While the story presents a number of challenges, that's not to say people haven't been trying to bring it back. Taika Waititi is the most recent director tipped to do the live-action remake but his plans got pushed so he could do the "Thor" movies (per Variety). In 2021, he told Wired that he still wants to do the film, saying "I'm still trying ... I don't wanna give up on that." 

Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" — adapted from the Ernest Cline novel — brings together nostalgia, pop culture, and a hugely enjoyable adventure story. In a dystopian future, people find solace in the virtual reality game called "OASIS." In the game, you can be whoever and whatever you want. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is a lonely teenager, who goes by the name of "Parzival" in OASIS. When the founder of the game dies, it's announced that whoever can solve a puzzle and find the golden key will become the new owner of the game. Wade is determined to win and embarks on a treasure hunt that takes him to places he never dreamed of.

By the film's end, Wade makes a decision regarding OASIS that changes the course of every single person's life on the planet. It's such a huge moment, and we'd love to see what the repercussions of his decision have on humanity. Fortunately, a sequel to the novel, "Ready Player Two," was released in 2020 — although it was universally panned by critics (via NME). In the same year, Cline told Inverse that the feature film adaptation of "Ready Player Two" is in the early stages of development but time will tell whether it will make it to the big screen given the novel's muted reception.  


As the debut feature from writer and director Andrew Niccol, "Gattaca" is a pretty impressive first offering. The movie stars Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law, and is a thoughtful exploration of the meaning of life in an advanced society that uses genetics to determine a person's place in the world. In the not-so-distant future, parents are able to splice together the best part of their genes to make a genetically superior child. Anyone that's born the "old-fashioned" way is considered to be inferior and given a lower standing in society because of it.

Hawke portrays Vincent Freeman, one of those unlucky children. He meets the genetically superior Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law), a former Olympic athlete who's become paralyzed. The two decide to cheat the system, and Vincent pretends to be Jerome. With his now superior standing, Vincent gets a job working at Gattaca as a navigator for a space project to Saturn's moon. The film ends with Vincent being allowed to keep Jerome's life, and he leaves for his mission. What happens to him and the world that has been introduced is anyone's guess, but a sequel — or even a prequel — could discuss the moral implications of genetic advances and what this means for the people who will ultimately get left behind because of it.

Unfortunately, Niccol seems to have closed the door on a sequel project. In an interview with Fandom, he conclusively said "I don't know that there needs to be a sequel. Once you've said it, do you need to say it again? We'll leave it to your imagination. Better that you write the sequel in your mind than I write it."

Galaxy Quest

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Tim Allen, "Galaxy Quest" is a sci-fi cult classic that everyone needs to experience. While on the surface it looks to be a film that just pokes fun at "Star Trek," it really is so much more than that — with a fun story about how fame and fortune can ruin relationships, and sometimes you just need a quick trip around the universe to make things right again.

The film follows a group of actors from the canceled fictional sci-fi show, "Galaxy Quest." For the most part, the cast can't stand the show's original lead — and William Shatner's stand-in — Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen). However, when a group of aliens abducts the cast — believing what they've watched to be fact rather than fiction — the actors face the biggest challenge of their careers: Being actual heroes. 

"Star Trek" is a franchise that seems to run and run, so it is only right that "Galaxy Quest" should receive the same treatment — especially as the film ends with the cast getting their show renewed. Collider reports that Amazon Prime is poised to revive "Galaxy Quest" as a television series, however, following the tragic passing of Alan Rickman, they paused their plans. Weaver shares that if the revival series does move forward, it will focus on a younger "Galaxy Quest" cast joining forces with the remaining original cast members for another adventure in space.

The Fifth Element

When you talk about cult-classic sci-fi films, no list is complete without 1997's "The Fifth Element." The film stars Milla Jovovich as Leeloo — the embodiment of the titular fifth element — who must combine herself with the other elements to stop "The Great Evil" from destroying everything. Luckily, she falls into the cab of New Yorker, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), and he helps her on her journey to save the world. 

In many ways, "The Fifth Element" could be considered as hugely ahead of its time — a sentiment that director Luc Besson agrees with (via Entertainment Weekly). Besson recalls that not only was the movie more comedy than action, but it also had a woman as the main action star. This combined with the outlandish costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, and the decision to have one of the main characters unable to speak English made the film a hard sell. Audiences didn't quite know what to make of it, and this was reflected in its disappointing initial box office figures, putting a stop to any talk of a sequel (via MovieWeb). However, given our receptiveness to the weird and wonderful, and the subsequent cult status of "The Fifth Element," a sequel would still be welcome. Just because Leeloo and Dallas saved the planet once, doesn't mean that they can't do it again.  


Directed by Christopher Nolan, 2014's "Interstellar" explores the possibilities of wormholes, time displacement, and above all else, family. It's an emotional tale of a father who leaves his children in the hopes of giving them a better life. With food running out and the planet growing closer to mass-level extinction, Earth can no longer sustain humanity and so an alternative place to live must be found.

Matthew McConaughey plays single dad, Cooper, who is tasked with leading a team to find a new habitable planet. While "Interstellar" tells a beautifully poignant story, it ultimately has a sad ending for Cooper. After doing all he can to save the world — and motivated by the desire to return to see his children — when Cooper eventually gets back home, his young daughter is now on her deathbed as many years have passed since he embarked on the mission. 

"Interstellar" ends with Cooper leaving once more to find his mission partner, Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), who is still traveling alone in space somewhere with no idea about what happened to Earth and humanity. A story about their adventures would be an intriguing tale, especially after the success that "Interstellar" enjoyed upon its release. While doing the press tour for "Interstellar" in 2014, McConaughey told Sky News that a sequel was "possible," but nothing has come of this suggestion yet.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is one of the defining sci-fi films in pop culture, from the director who has arguably made a number of such films in his career, Steven Spielberg. With the perfect blend of nostalgia, whimsy, and effective storytelling, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is the blueprint of how to make a successful family-friendly sci-fi movie. 

The film tells an emotional tale about a young boy, Elliott (Henry Thomas), and his new alien friend, E.T., who finds himself stranded on Earth. The two form a beautiful bond that transcends species — connecting over their shared experiences of being separate from their family. Most of the adult characters in the film react to E.T. with fear and suspicion, but Elliott recognizes the gentleness and the good in him. The film ends with E.T. going home — his mission from the beginning — but there is undoubtedly heartbreak when he has to say goodbye to Elliot.

While the idea of seeing these beloved characters in another feature would be welcome, it feels that if a sequel was going to come to light, it would've happened already. Following the success of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," the studio did push the idea of a follow-up, but nothing came of this. Speaking to Slash Film about the possibility of a sequel, Thomas said "I think it should be left alone." A sequel of sorts did emerge in 2019, with some of the original cast — including Thomas — reuniting with the lovable alien for a holiday commercial. The former child star went on to say, "I think the commercial was as close as we're going to get to a sequel and that's why Spielberg okayed it."


What "Galaxy Quest" does for "Star Trek," "Spaceballs" does for "Star Wars," offering an exceptionally goofy take on the familiar tropes of the well-known franchise. While occasionally brutal in the way it pokes fun at some of the more ridiculous plot points in "Star Wars," "Spaceballs" is a film that doesn't take itself too seriously and its loving, carefree approach to its pastiche is instantly charming.

The film follows the kidnapping of Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), who is being held hostage by Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis). The Darth Vader-esque baddie holds her to ransom in the hope of obtaining air, as his planet has depleted its air supply. Fortunately, she is rescued by bad boy space pilot Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-man, half-dog partner, Barf (John Candy). 

Many fans of the film assumed that another story was in the works, especially after "Spaceballs" teased various titles for sequel films — however, nothing has come out yet. At a Q&A event in 2017, Mel Brooks talked about the possibility of doing another film, especially after the first film developed into a cult classic (via Paste). Unfortunately, as many of the original cast members have now passed away, any new stories would need to feature a new cast and be respectfully told to honor those who came before.