Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why The Big Lebowski Never Got A Sequel

It's been almost 20 years since Jeffrey Lebowski, a.k.a. the Dude (or His Dudeness, or Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing) made his indelible mark on Hollywood in the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski. The slacker noir starring Jeff Bridges, along with familiar Coen collaborators like John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro, has the kind of cult following most movies can only dream of, including an annual Lebowski Fest where fans put on their best bathrobes, lace up their bowling shoes, and sip on White Russians all night long in honor of their hero.

Yet despite its lasting popularity and profound cultural impact, there's one thing The Big Lebowski doesn't have: a sequel. Here's why.

Nobody knew Lebowski was going to be so big

After winning an Oscar for Fargo in 1996, Joel and Ethan Coen tried something different with The Big Lebowski—and unfortunately, the pivot didn't pay off. Compared to the critical and commercial success of Fargo, Lebowski was a bit of a disappointment, earning only $46 million at the box office despite positive reviews. So even if the Coens were in the business of serializing their material, there was no reason to think that The Big Lebowski was fertile ground for a sequel when it had underperformed so badly the first time around. And by the time it became clear that audiences would, in fact, like to spend more time with the Dude and his ragtag posse of colorful weirdos, the Coens had too much forward momentum to be particularly interested in returning to old material.

Nobody can even decide what a Big Lebowski 2 should be about

The best thing about The Big Lebowski is what a vast and complex universe it inhabited; the Dude's little brush with the other Jeffrey Lebowski was just one story within a huge, tangled web of intriguing plots, featuring memorable characters who could easily have held down their very own feature films. Unfortunately, the best thing about the original is also one of the worst things about trying to create a followup film: with such a rich tapestry of potential plotlines to choose from, opinions are seriously split on just what kind of movie the sequel would be.

Some fans want to see more of Maude and her "strongly vaginal" art; some just want to watch the Dude smoking blunts in a bathtub for another two hours (with or without the intrusion of German nihilists and their pet marmot); and some would rather go totally off the rails and follow Sam Elliott's mustachioed cowboy stranger into the sunset for a tangential Lebowski adventure. Even the stars of the original can't agree on how best to revisit the material—Jeff Bridges is pulling for the "son of Dude" angle (working title: The Little Lebowski), while John Turturro is all about a spinoff featuring his character Jesus Quintana (more on this later). The only thing everyone can seemingly agree on is that a sequel would be fantastic...but that brings us to the next problem.

The Big Lebowski's fans are their own worst enemy

Sometimes, an enthusiastic fanbase is exactly what a movie needs to get the sequel it deserves. But in the case of The Big Lebowski, the clamoring for another film seems to be having the opposite effect; people want to believe in a sequel so badly, and the media has cried wolf about a potential followup so many times, that they've effectively smothered any hopes of a Big Lebowski 2. False-alarm reports of a new Lebowski movie have been ubiquitous over the years; at one point, they even picked up so much steam that Snopes did an official debunking. And while the Coens might have been tolerant of questions about a sequel once upon a time, playing Whack-a-Mole with the recurring rumors is definitely getting on their nerves. In fact...

The more people ask for a sequel, the less the Coens want to make one

In 2013, as the 15th anniversary of The Big Lebowski prompted a fresh wave of interest in seeing the Dude and company back onscreen, reporters caught up with the Coen brothers at Cannes to ask whether a sequel was out of the question—and got a response that was tepid bordering on testy.

"John Turturro, who wants it, talks to us incessantly about doing a sequel about his (bowler) character Jesus," Ethan Coen said. And Joel Coen was even more unequivocal, saying, "I just don't like sequels."

In short, the men responsible for The Big Lebowski (and who hold all the relevant copyrights) have only gotten more vocal over the years about their total lack of interest in revisiting it. And while the Coens aren't immune from being manipulated by their collaborators into doing certain projects (their 2016 movie Hail, Caesar!, was reportedly written after George Clooney forced their hand by telling reporters that it was his next big role), they've stated unequivocally that they won't be guilt-tripped into any more Lebowski.

"In this case, I don't think we'll oblige," Joel Coen told Variety in 2016.

But where the Coens won't bite, John Turturro will — and that's the good news

The Church of the Latter-Day Dude may be out of luck when it comes to seeing their deity back onscreen, but all is not lost...if you just put your faith in Jesus.

As previously mentioned, John Turturro—so very memorable as the purple pants-wearing pederast Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski—has always been keen to revisit the role, and in 2016, his persistence finally paid off. Because the character of Jesus Quintana was largely Turturro's creation in the first place, the Coens gave their longtime friend and collaborator permission to make his own spinoff movie featuring Jesus, and only Jesus. The 2017 film will be titled Going Places, and it's not exactly a Lebowski sequel—no other characters from the Coen brothers' movie will appear in Turturro's project, which is loosely based on a 1974 Gerard Depardieu film of the same name—but it's the closest we'll ever get to one now that the Coens have so thoroughly kiboshed any notion of putting The Dude back onscreen. And while Going Places won't have the Coen imprimatur, fans of The Big Lebowski have good reason to hope Turturro will deliver a film with all the offbeat appeal that made the original such a hit. In the immortal words of a certain bowler extraordinaire: nobody f***s with the Jesus.