What is the single best science fiction or fantasy franchise?

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
If Star Wars' star has fallen so far for you to not even be worth discussing I understand, but beware... it was a very different story at the franchise's reputational height (before the dark times... before the Phantom Menace), and whatever franchise you're going to bat for may yet suffer some variation of the same fate.
If we were stopping right after the hits (although I think RotJ is a mess, myself), then Alien and Terminator would arguably be the top two franchises of all time, quality wise. But it's cheating to discount the bad parts of the franchises. If Alien: Covenant and Terminator: Genisys count, so do Rise of Skywalker and the Holiday Special.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
For fantasy, and overall, I'm going to go for the various Tolkien Middle Earth works, mainly on the basis that I don't think any other modern work better and more consistently walks the line of of being functional and satisfying as popular entertainment while simultaneously feeling like it has real literary weight. Maybe you can think of a work that achieves the same, but Lord of the Rings was the bestselling novel of the 20th century, and whatever you're thinking of probably can't compare with that impact wise. And practically the whole fantasy genre exists to some degree in Middle Earth's shadow (if in many case's only in the sense that they employ world-building and Tolkien is far and away the most influential worldbuilder there ever was). Adaptations have been a mixed bag, but that shouldn't be held against the underlying work, and some of the adaptions have been impressive achievements in their own right.

But seriously, page three of this thread and Star Wars has only been mentioned (dismissively) once? Has the galaxy far, far away fallen so low? Look, prequels, Disney Star Wars, one or another lame novel from the 90s, an infamous holiday special... these things shouldn't matter. The original trilogy has more iconic things per minute than anything else ever committed to film except maybe Casablanca, to an extent that it's hard to really appreciate and easy to take for granted. Those movies are an achievement unto themselves, and I just don't think anything else Sci-Fi is really comparable. Whatever Star Wars media has come since is just a feather in the franchise's cap when its good, and when it is bad... well that should be insignificant compared to the power of the Force.

If Star Wars' star has fallen so far for you to not even be worth discussing I understand, but beware... it was a very different story at the franchise's reputational height (before the dark times... before the Phantom Menace), and whatever franchise you're going to bat for may yet suffer some variation of the same fate.

Star Wars nerd here. To inconsistent if you cherry pick the best yes.

Being generous thumbs up

OT thumbs up. (3)

PT 1/3 (1)

ST 1/3 (1).

5/9

TV shows similar pattern except animated (broadly thumbs up).

More like thumbs up, thumbs down and somewhere in the middle but you get the idea. Star Trek is even worse espicially season 1.

Trek and Star Wars cherry picking the good bits sure. There's some stuff that's just to obscure as well eg holiday special, Star Trek animated, Ewok movies they get a pass no one cares to much.

Terminator and Alien even more inconsistent than Trek/Star Wars.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
For fantasy, and overall, I'm going to go for the various Tolkien Middle Earth works, mainly on the basis that I don't think any other modern work better and more consistently walks the line of of being functional and satisfying as popular entertainment while simultaneously feeling like it has real literary weight. Maybe you can think of a work that achieves the same, but Lord of the Rings was the bestselling novel of the 20th century, and whatever you're thinking of probably can't compare with that impact wise. And practically the whole fantasy genre exists to some degree in Middle Earth's shadow (if in many case's only in the sense that they employ world-building and Tolkien is far and away the most influential worldbuilder there ever was). Adaptations have been a mixed bag, but that shouldn't be held against the underlying work, and some of the adaptions have been impressive achievements in their own right.

But seriously, page three of this thread and Star Wars has only been mentioned (dismissively) once? Has the galaxy far, far away fallen so low? Look, prequels, Disney Star Wars, one or another lame novel from the 90s, an infamous holiday special... these things shouldn't matter. The original trilogy has more iconic things per minute than anything else ever committed to film except maybe Casablanca, to an extent that it's hard to really appreciate and easy to take for granted. Those movies are an achievement unto themselves, and I just don't think anything else Sci-Fi is really comparable. Whatever Star Wars media has come since is just a feather in the franchise's cap when its good, and when it is bad... well that should be insignificant compared to the power of the Force.

If Star Wars' star has fallen so far for you to not even be worth discussing I understand, but beware... it was a very different story at the franchise's reputational height (before the dark times... before the Phantom Menace), and whatever franchise you're going to bat for may yet suffer some variation of the same fate.

I think Star Wars as a franchise suffers from being entirely derivative, sure it did some things well and the universe is fun, but none of it is trope setting or ‘definitive’ for its genre (whatever its genre is).
Star Trek is clearly in the Space exploration genre and the federation, swashbuckling captain and Vulcans sets various tropes (while being still familiar), the sme can be said of Middle Earth

Star Wars maybe is so good at blending genres that it has no tropes to set
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Doc Savage. Those little pulp novels are full of action, adventure, fantasy, AND science-fiction. I bought the whole run of them once from a little used bookstore in Topeka, KS and could not put them down. Absolutely riveting stuff!
Nice. My next big reading project is hitting as many Doc Savage and The Shadow pulps as I can scrounge up.
 

If we were stopping right after the hits (although I think RotJ is a mess, myself), then Alien and Terminator would arguably be the top two franchises of all time, quality wise. But it's cheating to discount the bad parts of the franchises. If Alien: Covenant and Terminator: Genisys count, so do Rise of Skywalker and the Holiday Special.
Completely disagree. The question was "best" not "most immaculate". But even if it is "most immaculate" you either have to allow cutting off your canon of what is the franchise somewhere, or else we might as well not have the discussion, because all great franchises will eventually meet their Waterloo. If nobody wants to dig them up someday to give them a terrible, embarrassing entry then they probably lack ongoing cultural relevance.

But yes, thank goodness there are only two Alien movies that count, and two Terminator movies that count. Now in the case of Terminator I do think the other sequels are worth examining as evidence of overall franchise fundamentals to a degree, because they have effectively tried to make a Terminator 3 four times now and it has sucked every time, which seems like evidence that there just isn't more story worth telling in the Terminator-verse, but even there I'd say that doesn't really detract from my love of the franchise's two good movies.

I understand it feels arbitrary, but surely we must draw lines somewhere. Surely Tolkien's works are no better or worse for the existence of this:

I feel like franchises are being rewarded or penalized based on whether their worst entries happen to be in the same medium as their best entries. If a great book series gets a terrible adaptation... well the books still stand. But a great film gets a terrible sequel and it is never again allowed to stand apart from it. It makes sense to an extent, but if we're going to compare all franchises in all mediums we should be aware of this bias.
 

I think Star Wars as a franchise suffers from being entirely derivative, sure it did some things well and the universe is fun, but none of it is trope setting or ‘definitive’ for its genre (whatever its genre is).
Star Trek is clearly in the Space exploration genre and the federation, swashbuckling captain and Vulcans sets various tropes (while being still familiar), the sme can be said of Middle Earth

Star Wars maybe is so good at blending genres that it has no tropes to set
I think you're just more aware of the trope lineage of Star Wars because George Lucas has been very upfront and public about his influences. But rest assured, there is nothing new under the sun.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Completely disagree. The question was "best" not "most immaculate". But even if it is "most immaculate" you either have to allow cutting off your canon of what is the franchise somewhere, or else we might as well not have the discussion, because all great franchises will eventually meet their Waterloo. If nobody wants to dig them up someday to give them a terrible, embarrassing entry then they probably lack ongoing cultural relevance.

But yes, thank goodness there are only two Alien movies that count, and two Terminator movies that count. Now in the case of Terminator I do think the other sequels are worth examining as evidence of overall franchise fundamentals to a degree, because they have effectively tried to make a Terminator 3 four times now and it has sucked every time, which seems like evidence that there just isn't more story worth telling in the Terminator-verse, but even there I'd say that doesn't really detract from my love of the franchise's two good movies.

I understand it feels arbitrary, but surely we must draw lines somewhere. Surely Tolkien's works are no better or worse for the existence of this:

I feel like franchises are being rewarded or penalized based on whether their worst entries happen to be in the same medium as their best entries. If a great book series gets a terrible adaptation... well the books still stand. But a great film gets a terrible sequel and it is never again allowed to stand apart from it. It makes sense to an extent, but if we're going to compare all franchises in all mediums we should be aware of this bias.

Terminator: Sarah Connor chronicles is really good.

But yeah the rest of the movies are mixed. I actually liked T3;) Rest meh.

I wouldn't count Terminator franchise as best though.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Terminator: Sarah Connor chronicles is really good.

It was unreasonably good. Better than some of the movies in the franchise, in fact. The idea that they teased there at the very end
(that there may be two AIs pitched against each other, Skynet and another mysterious AI working for/with humanity)
was the most imaginative thing to come out of the franchise for years (possibly ever).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
It was unreasonably good. Better than some of the movies in the franchise, in fact. The idea that they teased there at the very end
(that there may be two AIs pitched against each other, Skynet and another mysterious AI working for/with humanity)
was the most imaginative thing to come out of the franchise for years (possibly ever).

I would put it ahead of all the movies except 1st two. And wouldn't be insulted if people included it there. Different format though.

Comics did also resolve the Skynet/humans things in a way I would have done it similar to TV show.
 
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