When the original Harry Potter series concluded in 2011, studios were scrambling to find the next big hit. The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games stuck around to pick up the coattails for a few years, but producers were reading anything they could get their hands on in a desperate plea to dethrone the boy wizard’s place at the top of the young adult box office.
Of course, Warner Bros. didn’t have to look too far.
Rather than staying up all night reading dystopian novels and teen romances, the studio has simply invented a prequel to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World to continue the money-making machine indefinitely.
Meanwhile, other producers are scrambling to launch the next must-see franchise. This tactic occasionally produces some hits (like The Maze Runner trilogy or even the recent revitalized Series of Unfortunate Events for Netflix).
However, most of the time, the first and maybe second entry of a beloved young adult series of books is given a rushed adaptation, only to make a measly dent at the box office. After this, it is abandoned completely.
For television series, it can be even more tragic, with pilots never seeing the light of day.
Whether they’re tragic losses or narrowly missed bullets, disposed trash or neglected treasure, there are some young adult series that are doomed to remain stuck in limbo forever.
Here are the 16 YA Franchises That Flopped (And 5 We’ll Never Get To See).
22 Flopped: The 5th Wave
After her Kiss-Ass breakthrough, Chloë Grace Moretz’s career has, unfortunately, been plagued by unnecessary remakes and hopeful franchises that are far below her abilities.
One of the latest, and hopefully last, was The 5th Wave, which was based on Rick Yancey’s trilogy of alien invasion novels.
Luckily, the movie wasn’t quite as abysmal as rival extraterrestrial warfare blockbuster, Independence Day: Resurgence, but it still failed to capture the imaginations of a substantial audience.
Though some outspoken fans of the movie apparently exist and are demanding a sequel, Sony has released no news so far.
21 Flopped: Tomorrow, When the War Began
As The 5th Wave demonstrates, movie studios love giving a bunch of young adults posing as teenagers a crate-load of lethal firearms, dressing them up in combat fatigues, and letting them loose either on each other or some alien, invading force.
Tomorrow, When the War Began keeps the threat homegrown, as it features a group of teens returning from a camping trip only to find that their hometown has been overrun by a foreign army.
Straying into Red Dawn levels of xenophobia, the movie failed to win back its budget at the box office, and any plans to adapt John Marsden’s six further books in the series were promptly abandoned.
20 Never got to see: The Selection
Shamelessly combining the class-dominated, competitive dystopia of The Hunger Games with its natural partner, the world of fairy tales, this seemingly incompatible YA genre hybrid from Keira Cass has seen two TV pilots try and fail to make it to series.
The Selection was then optioned by Warner Bros. for a potential movie adaptation, but no news has emerged on that front since 2015.
Perhaps this has to due with karma, as Cass and her agent engaged in a Twitter conversation in which a reviewer on Goodreads was called nasty names after they left a negative review.
She even went on to suggest a way to manipulate the website into boosting positive reviews.
19 Flopped: Maximum Ride
His books (usually about 5-6 each year) have sold more than 300 million copies, but the majority of attempts to bring the works of James Patterson to the big screen have been shaky at best.
If you’re ever tempted to feel sorry for Patterson, just remember that he’s one of the wealthiest author’s alive, second only to Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.
His Maximum Ride books offered an edgier, more violent alternative for the YA crowd before The Hunger Games popularized teen-on-teen violence.
A disastrous adaptation of the first half of the first book was cobbled together back in 2016, and we’re doubtful anyone’s even seen it, let alone considered making a sequel.
18 Flopped: I Am Number Four
Alex Pettyfer isn’t a terrible actor, but he doesn’t mesh well with potential YA franchises.
With an intriguing title that implies suspense, mystery, anonymity, and, most importantly, sequels, I Am Number Four adapts Pittacus Lore’s first book in a series of seven science fiction adventure stories for teens.
Despite a promising supporting cast (including Dianna Agron and Timothy Olyphant), and some competent action set pieces, the movie was a disappointment with critics and audiences alike.
It looks like we’re never going to find out who Number One is – at least not on the big screen.
17 Flopped: The Golden Compass
In the wake of Harry Potter, it was crushingly disappointing that fellow British fantasy series, and pre-cursor to Rowling’s Wizarding World, His Dark Materials, received a feeble first effort.
Ending on a promising cliffhanger, the movie’s limp performance meant that the adventures of Lyra Belacqua were cut short on the big screen.
However, there is some good news. While the sun has set on the two expected sequels to The Golden Compass, the BBC are in early pre-production stages of a series that will adapt the entirety of Phillip Pullman’s masterful trilogy.
Logan’s breakout star, Dafne Keen, is expected to star as Lyra.
Only time will tell if the series lives up to fans’ expectations.
16 Never got to see: The Keys to the Kingdom
If you were a book-obsessed teen growing up during the turn of the millennium, you were probably very familiar with Garth Nix.
The fantasy author for young adults dominated the late-’90s and early-2000s with his Lord of the Rings-esque epic sagas, Old Kingdom, The Seventh Tower, and The Keys to the Kingdom.
Both Kingdom series were primed for movie adaptations, and a script was even finalized by Nix and co-writer Dan Futterman (Capote) for the first book in the Old Kingdom chronicles, Sabriel.
However, a writers strike got in the way of the adaptation.
Also, according to Nix, his desire to have a “high degree of involvement” in the screenwriting process of a potential Keys to the Kingdom adaptation has scared studios away.
15 Flopped: Vampire Academy
Love it or hate it, you have to admit that The Twilight Saga gave us a few good things. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are at the top of the list, while 50 Shades of Grey is right there at the bottom.
One of the worst outcomes of The Twilight Saga was the endless copy cats and rip-offs that even big fans can agree are ten times worse.
One of the most egregious offenders was the Vampire Academy series of books, which was a formula of the steamy romances and teenage angst of the Stephanie Meyer’s quadrilogy set within the intimate, boarding school confines of a Hogwarts lookalike.
Thankfully, the next five books never made it to screen, even despite the support of an Indiegogo campaign.
14 Flopped: Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
Perhaps the fall from grace of this next potential teenage spy franchise could explain why Charlie Higson’s Young Bond never got off the ground.
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Anthony Horowitz’s series about an international adolescent super spy made for riveting bestsellers, but the first movie didn’t live up to expectations.
It could have been all down to the cast. It starred crowd-favorites like Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, and Andy Serkis. Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker also tried to launch a comeback for a ridiculously dressed Mickey Rourke.
The strange additions of Alicia Silverstone as Alex’s sushi enthusiast guardian and Stephen Fry as his Q-like mentor gave the movie with more farce than thrills, and any plans for sequels were abandoned.
13 Flopped: Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Picture a pitch meeting in 2008. Twilight and Harry Potter are in full swing. Vampires, magic, and brooding loners are still in fashion. Enter Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant – it’s like Twilight, but for boys.
Completely missing the point of what made Stephanie Meyer’s vampire saga so popular, Cirque du Freak ditched the soppy romance (although not really), tried to find actors who didn’t look lifeless (but failed), and had the misfortune of believing that a circus of CGI characters was an appropriate setting for a movie released in 2009.
It’s almost a shame that the movie flopped so hard, as the rest of Darren Shan’s series gets weird in a big way.
12 Never got to see: Uglies
Scott Westerfield’s dystopian novel Uglies was well ahead of its time in 2005.
Using a young adult perspective to shine a critical light on the damaging value that we place on aesthetics, attractiveness, and human improvement, it predicted the boom in harrowing yarns about cracked utopias by about five years.
However, The Hunger Games swooped in and stole Westerfield’s thunder in 2008.
An upcoming spin-off series, The Imposters, is set to renew interest in the series.
However, there has been little to no news regarding a movie adaptation since 20th Century Fox bought the film rights all the way back in 2006.
11 Flopped: The Giver
Lois Lowry’s The Giver seemed perfect and more than overdue for a movie adaptation.
Released in 1993, the book explores a seemingly utopian world that has removed pain, color, and empathy from its society.
Filmmakers tried to bring back black and white movies in a big way with 2014’s The Giver to emphasize the dreary “Sameness” of the dystopian world, but, combined with unconvincing CGI, the movie just looked bland.
The movie also managed to make actors like Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep look boring, and the two new leads weren’t able to do much to pick up the pieces.
The inclusion of pop sensation Taylor Swift only made matters worse.
Overall, the movie failed to bring any color to the box office and the next three instalments have yet to be made.
10 Flopped: The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
The big difference between The Seeker: The Dark is Rising and other fantasy YA series that are similar to The Lord of the Rings is that Susan Cooper’s original books were published in 1965, which is only eleven years after the publication of J.R.R. Tolkein’s magnum opus.
Far from a Harry Potter clone, it was one of the first major fantasy series to benefit from the genre boom caused by the epic Middle-earth trilogy.
As the first, and last, movie in the adapted series, The Seeker was slated for its blatant disregard for the source material.
Mistakes included aging up the central character, the inclusion of teenage crushes, and completely writing characters out of the story.
Needless to say, no one’s clamoring for a sequel.
9 Flopped: Eragon
Christopher Paolini’s fantasy debut about a young boy who embarks on a journey to save a kidnapped princess was criticized endlessly for its resemblance to other works, such as Earthsea, The Lord of the Rings, and, most notably, Star Wars.
It’s hard to be too critical of Paolini, though, as he finished the first book when he was only in his teens.
Though his Inheritance series is considered a success story for young writers, the movie adaptation is an infamous trainwreck.
It is incomprehensible, over-acted, and, above all, boring. It was also unfaithful to the book, and thus any sequel plans were abruptly canceled.
8 Never got to see: Young Bond
The 50 year old Daniel Craig is set to star in his final Bond movie next year, and rumors are running wild that the 45 year old Idris Elba could take over the mantle. Action films are dominated by actors primed for a mid-life crisis, and the Bond franchise especially is in dire need for some young blood.
This is where Charlie Higson found his niche.
Returning to 007’s Eton roots, Higson explored the secret agent’s teenage years in a series of five books.
Although there’s been some interest in adapting the series, the movie rights to 007 remain firmly with Eon Productions, so we expect a middle-aged Bond for the foreseeable future.
7 Flopped: Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia’s Caster Chronicles is one of the most recent Twilight-like series. Two monickers can be accurately applied to Beautiful Creatures, the 2013 adaptation of the first book in the series: Twilight but witches, or, our favorite, Twilight but Southern.
Almost every performance is delicious, with British thespians Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson giving their best South Carolina drawl. Alden Ehrenreich also appears in the movie.
Sadly, by 2013, Twilight was no longer in fashion, and this adaptation flopped like a fish out of water.
6 Flopped: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is yet another 2013 YA adaptation that proves that movie studios really were panicking following the conclusion of the Twilight Saga in 2012.
There’s not much we can say about the aesthetic of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones that doesn’t include the word “leather.”
The series was a completely uninspired trudge through worn out supernatural concepts, demons, magic, hidden worlds, and symbols.
A sequel that would have added Sigourney Weaver to the roster but it was pulled due to weak box office returns.
Though The Mortal Instruments’ future on the big screen was cut short, the series lived on in Shadowhunters.
5 Flopped: The Divergent Series: Allegiant
While this series came so close, it still had a long way to go.
Adapted from Veronica Roth’s best-selling and chart-topping trilogy that merged The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and with a dash of Twilight for good measure, this unholy amalgamation of the Big Three was all set to become the next big thing.
That is, until the third entry in the franchise, Allegiant, became one of the worst reviewed movies of 2016.
Intended as a two-parter, the upcoming Ascendant was canceled in favor of a TV movie and spin-off show. Given that Shailene Woodley is reluctant to return, the back-up plan may not come to fruition, either.
4 Never got to see: Fearless
Pre-empting James Patterson’s method of presiding over a group of ghostwriters to release a handful of books each year, author Francine Pascal produced 181 books in the Sweet Valley High series alone.
Pascal has also contributed to several other YA series.
Her spy series, Fearless, ran up to 34 entries (puny compared to Sweet Valley High).
Though the pilot that was filmed for The WB, its time slot was eventually replaced by One Tree Hill.
The show would have starred ’90s heartthrob Rachael Leigh Cook, but overall, it was considered too “unfocused” to make for good television.
3 Flopped: Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters2
While some fans may be satisfied with the two competent, albeit poorly translated adaptations of the first two books of the Percy Jackson series, but most fans certainly weren’t.
Essentially the American answer to Harry Potter, Rick Riordan’s fantasy series practically created a whole generation who will now be obsessed with Greek mythology for their entire lives.
Logan Lerman has said, since the release of The Sea of Monsters, that he will not be returning for a third movie.
However, now that Disney has bough 20th Century Fox, fans are keeping their fingers cross that the canceled series could eventually be resurrected.
1 Flopped: Ender’s Game
Since Ender’s Game was published in 1985, fans of the book have been hoping for a movie adaptation, and we finally got what we were waiting for in 2013.
Starring Asa Butterfield and Hayley Steinfeld, with Harrison Ford trying his best not to look bored, the adaptation was an admirable attempt, but failed to capture that undeniable magic of the book.
A script for a sequel exists out there somewhere, but budget and box office limitations mean that there aren’t any official plans yet.
This may be due to the controversies surrounding author Orson Scott Card.
Can you think of any other YA franchises that failed? Are there any others that we’ll never get to see? Sound off in the comments!
Read more: screenrant.com