Series where each subsequent installment is better than the one before it

The inspiration for this thread is a book series, but why limit it there?

Can you think of a series where each subsequent installment is better than the one before it? TV shows tend to have a net positive by series end, but there’s always a dud season or two somewhere in there, but what media are out there that truly improves every time?

Thanks to my coworker, I’m currently reading The Night Watch series and each book I’ve read (I’m on number three) is better than the last. Not only that, the books are broken up in mini stories (kinda sorta) and each mini story is better than the last.

It’s the only series I’ve ever known that is like that…anyone have any others?

If we can limit examples to trilogies that just happen to have more examples afterwards.

I think most people will say Dr. No -> From Russia With Love -> Goldfinger is an example of each subsequent movie being better than the last. Even if hardcore James Bond fans think FRWL is the far superior movie, Goldfinger was the movie that made the franchise a hit.

The Star Wars Prequels. Episode 2 trumps 1 and Episode 3 is better than 2 (in fact I like Episode 3 quite a lot but I know that is an outlier).

I don’t personally agree, but the IMDb ratings suggest that most fans think Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy got better over time.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) 8.0/10
For a Few Dollars More (1965) 8.3/10
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) 8.9/10

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Well, to a point, in his last couple his mental issues were showing.

But the first couple are just Ok parodies of Fantasy tropes. They they get better and better.

Likewise for Chris Evans and his three ‘Captain America’ movies: each one got better reviews, and grossed plenty more money, than its predecessor — even if you can find folks who’ll declare for the second one’s ‘70s-style conspiracy-thriller vibe.

Trial & Error was really good in the first season, but inspired in the second season. Not clear yet if there will be athird.

I’ll take your word for it that each one got better reviews, but, for my money, the first one was the best of the lot, by far. Admittedly, I like rousing WWII Nazi-punching movies a lot more than dreary, '70s-style conspiracy thrillers or whatever sub-genre Civil War was supposed to be, but even so, I thought just about everything about First Avenger was pitch-perfect for what it was trying to do, while Winter Soldier and Civil War had some serious flaws.

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%->89%->91%.

I think it’s fair to say that the original trilogy of Evil Dead movies monotonically improved, though that series is kind of weird: Dead By Dawn was really more of a re-make than a sequel, though it added some more stuff that probably improved it. And Army of Darkness was a camp comedic adventure as a sequel to a gory horror movie.

I don’t know how the recent TV series fits in for quality.

Maybe the Gap series by Stephen R. Donaldson.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve read them, but maybe the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

Eh, I think it’s more of an outlier to think that episode 2 is better than 1. They are both crap, but at least there were some good parts in 1. 2 was just all crap from start to finish.

I dunno; Ep 2 was certainly flawed, but it was flawed in completely different ways than 1. Lucas learned from his mistakes. I give it enough credit for that that I rate it higher, too.

Of course, if you consider the prequels part of the larger series, then it certainly doesn’t fit (in numerical nor chronological order), since almost everyone agrees that Return of the Jedi was worse than the first two.

They were all great movies but I think you can make a good argument that each Toy Story movie was better than the preceding one. (I’m not counting the shorts or the Buzz Lightyear movie as part of the main series.)

Unfortunately, I expect that Toy Story 4 will break the streak.

Not really the cream of the crop (and certainly not well known) but there’s an anime series called Burnup. (My only real excuse for watching it is that I watched basically everything that had ever been produced, due to insomnia and living near a video rental in Tokyo that was open late.)

Burnup was a paint by numbers cash-in on the general idea of hot girls in powered suits, kicking butt. Not too interesting.

Burnup W upped the fan service a bit, but was more or less the same.

Burnup Excess, however, they cranked the fan service up to parody levels and took the whole industry to task, spoofing Evangelion (featuring a giant, butch drag queen doing a forward flip attack, using the same angles and movements as an Eva), including racist stereotypes of Osaka people, as compared to Tokyoites, etc. They took the “excess” in the name literally and - if you get all the references - it’s quite hilarious. Probably a bit dated now, and not real high brow by any means, but at the time it was fairly decent and at least had a reason to exist that the predecessors lacked.

An other item that I can think of in anime land would be the 2000 Vampire Hunter D film, which is really a good film (genuinely). That compared to the 80s OVA, it’s like night and day. The old one is interesting for its willingness to not skimp on the body horror and gore, but the art is too cheesy for that to work and there’s no real story or anything else to recommend it.

Another similar item might be Battlestar Galactica versus Battlestar Galactica. I haven’t seen the original, but the general consensus is that the original didn’t need to exist. The new one didn’t end terribly well, but it was some great TV for at least a while.

Stieg Larsson’s novels about Lisbeth Salander. I thought they got progressively better.

Sure, but no way is each subsequent installment better than the one before it. Over the course of 40+ books, there were better ones and worse ones quite a bit.

IMHO - Toy Story was great, Toy Story II was even better, and Toy Story III better still.

Wait, they’re making a fourth one? Are you serious about that, or is it just a presumption based on the profit they made? Because they brought the story to its complete and logically inevitable conclusion. At some point, any storyteller needs to know when to stop.

Somehow I missed Little Nemo’s mention of Toy Story before mine. Sorry about that.