The Best Movie Trilogies of All Time

Best Trilogies

“Best of” lists are always very difficult. And it’s not tough to offend other movie lovers or blaspheme in some way. This is usually the case because many writers don’t make any distinction between when they’re being objective and when they’re being subjective. In other words, most of these lists are obviously very subjective in nature, but most writers make the mistake or intentional arrogant choice of writing as though their opinion is unchallenged fact.

I’m always careful to avoid such pitfalls and want to make it clear that this list is very, very subjective. And even so, I’m still not even 100% on every position of where something falls on my own list, and those are very much subject to change. But, as best as I can, I’ll list, from my heart and my gut, all the trilogies I enjoy, from the ones I like, to the ones I love, to my absolute #1 favorite.

I have seen each and every single one of these films in all of the trilogies in the main list below. While some of these trilogies in fact later had a forth film or more added to their universe, a TV series, or other spin-offs, remakes, reboots, or whatever, I tried my best to list those trilogies where there is an obvious and original core three films. In the Honorable Mention section and other sections below it, you’ll find other possible trilogies that I’m not quite sure about for one reason or another.

As a completist, I always struggle with any kind of list, because I have the obsession of trying to list ALL items possible of the intended criterion, and that can drive one to madness. So, as much as I love the obscure, for sanity’s sake, I’ll stick mostly to the trilogies I know best (most of which would be considered part of Americana), and I’ll try to acknowledge those that obviously have a high level of popularity (even if I haven’t seen them), but there are many that I’ll miss altogether either intentionally or because I’m simply unaware of them.

For example, I think everyone will forgive me for not paying honor to the 9Β½ Weeks Trilogy, but if there are any important trilogies to cinematic history that I’ve omitted, I’ll take my beatings in the comments below and try to correct my mistake.

Let’s get started…

The Hobbit Trilogy

#33 β€” The Hobbit Trilogy

Rush Hour Trilogy

#32 β€” Rush Hour Trilogy

Spider-Man Trilogy

#31 β€” Spider-Man Trilogy

Men in Black Trilogy

#30 β€” Men in Black Trilogy

RoboCop Trilogy

#29 β€” RoboCop Trilogy

The Ring Trilogy

#28 β€” The Ring Trilogy

The Blair Witch Trilogy

#27 β€” The Blair Witch Trilogy

Blade Trilogy

#26 β€” Blade Trilogy

Iron Man Trilogy

#25 β€” Iron Man Trilogy

Millennium Trilogy

#24 β€” Millennium Trilogy

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

#23 β€” The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Cube Trilogy

#22 β€” Cube Trilogy

Jurassic Park Trilogy

#21 β€” Jurassic Park Trilogy

Die Hard Trilogy

#20 β€” Die Hard Trilogy

Rambo Trilogy

#19 β€” Rambo Trilogy

Ninja Turtles Trilogy

#18 β€” Ninja Turtles Trilogy

Alien Trilogy

#17 β€” Alien Trilogy

The Terminator Trilogy

#16 β€” The Terminator Trilogy

The Matrix Trilogy

#15 β€” The Matrix Trilogy

Poltergeist Trilogy

#14 β€” Poltergeist Trilogy

Once Upon a Time Trilogy

#13 β€” Once Upon a Time Trilogy

The Dead Trilogy

#12 β€” The Dead Trilogy

The Evil Dead Trilogy

#11 β€” The Evil Dead Trilogy

Scream Trilogy

#10 β€” Scream Trilogy

The Godfather Trilogy

#9 β€” The Godfather Trilogy

Mad Max Trilogy

#8 β€” Mad Max Trilogy

Toy Story Trilogy

#7 β€” Toy Story Trilogy

The Dark Knight Trilogy

#6 β€” The Dark Knight Trilogy

Original Star Wars Trilogy

#5 β€” Original Star Wars Trilogy

Indiana Jones Trilogy

#4 β€” Indiana Jones Trilogy

Back to the Future Trilogy

#3 β€” Back to the Future Trilogy

The Dollars Trilogy

#2 β€” The Dollars Trilogy

The Planet of the Apes Trilogy

#1 β€” The Planet of the Apes Trilogy

While my #1 pick may come as a surprise to many people, it really shouldn’t. The new Planet of the Apes trilogy is simply incredible. Despite it being perhaps the most flawless execution of an epic story in trilogy-form ever, it somehow has managed to mostly go under the radar.

I never hear anyone talking about these films, there’s always been very little marketing for them it seems, and not only can I not find this in anyone else’s top list, it’s not even mentioned on any other list of trilogies anywhere, period, not even on Wikipedia!

I can’t quite explain the phenomena, but this trilogy has fallen into everyone’s blind-spot. Perhaps because it offends certain Christian beliefs, perhaps because they’re mostly CGI films, or perhaps because the main characters are non-human in an otherwise live-action universe? Whatever the reason, it has nothing to do with quality. They are sooo fucking good.

Breathtaking visuals and landscapes, award-winning special effects, amazing performances, and an epic story of gigantic proportions. These films took me through the full spectrum of human emotion. They made me cry; they made me laugh; they put me into a state of fear; they made me angry; they made my adrenaline go up; they made me think. At some points, they managed to even tap into those strange, hard-to-describe nuanced places that gave me goosebumps and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

So many trilogies on this list were able to hit some very important sweet spots of thrill and wonder, but nothing so complete as The Planet of the Apes trilogy, who aside from name, actually took very little from the original Planet of the Apes films. It has very much etched out its own place in cinematic history.

Honorable Mentions

There are many other so-called trilogies that aren’t quite traditional enough to be listed above. Some are only thematic trilogies, some have included a sequel in a “you’re reaching” kind of manner, and some I simply haven’t seen and therefore have no right to form an opinion about.

I’ll simply link each trilogy that isn’t obvious to the appropriate Google search, if you’d like to learn more.

Trilogies That Are Only Technically Trilogies

Trilogies that are only technically trilogies because of some distant, straight-to-video third film that came way later. Usually the first or first and second of the series are great and connected by the same actors, production quality, etc. But then, some low-budget, “trying to cash in on the name,” oddball sequel comes along making it a trilogy technically, but not in heart or spirit.

  • Hannibal Lector Trilogy (the true first Hannibal Lector film, and I would argue the best, is Manhunter β€” which is not considered by most to be part of the other films, while some might argue that The Silence of the Lambs was a sequel to Manhunter)
  • Candyman Trilogy (the fist was amazing, the second I enjoyed, but the third…)
  • The Addams Family Trilogy (the fist was amazing, the second I enjoyed, but the third…)
  • The NeverEnding Story Trilogy (the fist was amazing, the second I enjoyed, but the third…)
  • Ace Ventura Trilogy (the fist was amazing, the second I enjoyed, but the third…)
  • Hostel Trilogy (the fist was amazing, the second I enjoyed, but the third…)
  • The Lost Boys Trilogy (the first was amazing, but the sequels…)
  • From Dusk Till Dawn Trilogy (the first was amazing, but the sequels…)

Intentionally Omitted, But With Love

I just couldn’t bring myself to list them alongside these other trilogies. I enjoy these movies, but they just felt out of place.

  • The Mummy Trilogy
  • 3 Ninjas Trilogy
  • The Karate Kid Trilogy
  • The Mighty Ducks Trilogy
  • Look Who’s Talking Trilogy
  • Crocodile Dundee Trilogy
  • Naked Gun Trilogy
  • American Pie Trilogy
  • Austin Powers Trilogy
  • Meet the Fockers Trilogy

Trilogies That Should Have Been, But Never Were

  • Night Watch Trilogy (Night Watch and Day Watch were released, but Dusk Watch never came to be)
  • Tim Burton’s Batman Trilogy (I believe he was actually suppose to make the third one originally, but the studio was no longer digging the increasingly dark and quirky style of Burton)
  • Gremlins Trilogy (a third film was never made)
  • Waxwork Trilogy (a third film was never made)

Anticipated Completion of Great Trilogies

  • Kill Bill Trilogy
  • The New Star Wars Trilogy
  • Tron Trilogy

Alright, that’s it. I’ve kicked the tires on this one just about as thoroughly as humanly possible now. It’s time to let ‘er go into the wild and then slap my forehead moments later when I remember something crucial…

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