We’re tackling the greatest movies trilogies in the history of cinema at Goliath today, but before we proceeded to list what we think are the greatest threepeats around, we wanted to tell our esteemed readers just how we chose the trilogies you’ll read about here today. While we’ve tried our damnedest to make sure the films here exist in trilogy form, in today’s contemporary cultural climate (where sequels and reboots reign supreme), there’s nothing that movie studios love more than bastardizing treasured intellectual property with gibberish sequels produced only as a quick cash grab. While we’ve done our best to hone in on series that work best as trilogies, do remember that we can’t control studio execs and their wanton greed any better than we can convince Nicholas Cage to start taking real movie roles again. With that in mind, we think there’s some great trilogies listed here, and if nothing else they will give you some binge watching options for those dire times in life.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy
Series Contains: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
It’s a fairly commonly accepted fact that the first film in a series is usually the strongest; while that isn’t always the case (as we’ll see on this list), most of the time a trilogy’s sequels fail to top what was produced in the original film. That’s most definitely the case with the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, which began in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Cure of the Black Pearl. That film, while remaining one of the biggest surprise hits in movie history, also introduced us to Johnny Depp’s career defining Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate with loose morals who finds his way into a series of shenanigans over the course of this trilogy. Also starring Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightley and Geoffrey Rush, the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy gets worse as it progresses, with each film upping spectacle at the expense of plot, but they remain incredibly fun films which feature some of the most impressive visual effects in the history of cinema.
9. The Dark Knight Trilogy
Series Contains: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Like we said before, most of the time a trilogy’s first film is its best. Of course, in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, it’s 2008’s The Dark Knight which will be remembered as the trilogy’s strongest entry. While 2005’s Batman Begins did an excellent job introducing the new, gritty and realistic world that Bruce Wayne/Batman (played by Christian Bale) would inhabit, it was The Dark Knight that fleshed this world out, gave it character and a flavor all its own, while introducing a brand of villain in Heath Ledger’s Joker that will remain among cinema’s most iconic for as long as movies are being made. The untimely death of Ledger will remain a factor in the trilogy’s legacy, as will the movie’s somewhat anti-climactic closing entry The Dark Knight Rises, but overall this trilogy remains one of the strongest ever produced (and certainly the strongest superhero trilogy ever produced).
8. Indiana Jones Trilogy
Series Contains: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Were this trilogy’s second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a stronger film, there’s a good chance it’d rank near the very top of this list, and any other lists of this sort. With both Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade remaining some of the best adventure movies ever made, a stronger second entry would have really pushed this trilogy towards the top of the heap. As it stands, the Indiana Jones trilogy is an awful film sandwiched inside two legendary ones, and that’s totally alright given the context here and the understanding that nobody, nobody acknowledges the ill-advised fourth film released by the studio in 2008.
7. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Series Contains: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
The first big shocker on our list sees Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy ranked far lower than it’s normally seen on these lists; what can we say, we just aren’t the biggest fans of the flicks so many seem to go ga-ga over, and despite consistent ridicule from our friends, that’s our opinion and we’re sticking to it. While Jackson no doubt crafted an exquisite fantasy viewing experience, and did J.R.R. Tolkien’s original work justice with his dedication to detail and story, The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains a somewhat tedious viewing experience with poor pacing and some ridiculously cheesy dialogue and acting. We understand these are treasured films for some, and we aren’t in any way trying to undo the magic present in the films, there’s just other trilogies we feel offer a more succinct and fulfilling viewing experience. That said, if you want to lose yourself in Middle Earth for eleven or twelve hours, there’s no better way to do it than with these flicks.
6. Back to the Future Trilogy
Series Contains: Back to the Future (1985), Back to the Future: Part II (1989), Back to the Future: Part III (1990)
We’re not going to lie to you, we would’ve put the Back to the Future trilogy on here if the sequels to 1987’s Back to the Future had been nothing but Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) time-hopping to various points in history to jam out and influence the trajectory of rock and roll forever; as it stands, we were fortunate enough to get a more complex plot than that in Back to the Future: Part II and Back to the Future: Part III, two solid films that, while never living up to the original, are wildly entertaining and help lock this trilogy, which also features Christopher Lloyd and Crispin Glover, into the number six spot on our list.
5. The Bourne Trilogy
Series Contains: The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
There’s few movie protagonists capable of kicking as much ass as Jason Bourne, the titular assassin of the Bourne trilogy, as played by Matt Damon. As such, it makes sense that a series of films featuring Bourne might make it on to a list such as this, especially when the films are chock-full of awesome beatings laid out on bad guys, the thwarting of government conspiracies, assassin on assassin violence and more car chases than any one trilogy rightly needs (not that we’re complaining, mind you). A mature series of action films that refuse to sacrifice character in the name of explosions, the Bourne trilogy remains one of the best edited, tightly crafted and strongly written action trilogies of all time, just beating out the first three Die Hard films for this spot on the list.
4. The Toy Story Trilogy
Series Contains: Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010)
It’s strange to think a trilogy of films meant originally for children could become one of the most esteemed and beloved of all time, but that’s the magic of Pixar and their Toy Story trilogy. Proving that there really is a kid in all of us, the Toy Story trilogy played on the unspoken belief of individuals everywhere that their toys could come to life after they’ve left the room, and we like to think we’re better people for having seen these films. A rock solid trilogy that might not feature so much as a poor scene over the course of its three films, the Toy Story movies star the voice talent of Tim Allen and Tom Hanks and remain a perfect mix of childlike wonder and strong, emotive writing that plays for both children and adults.
3. The Dollars Trilogy
Series Contains: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966)
Also known as the Man With No Name Trilogy (speaking to Clint Eastwood’s character in these spectacular Westerns), the Dollars trilogy makes its way into the third spot on our list on the strength of the trilogy’s entertainment factor and its wide reaching influence in the Western and Spaghetti Western genres. Directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, these three films are responsible for the much of the popularization of the Spaghetti Western genre and are commonly cited as some of the greatest films ever produced in the storied Western genre. Also starring Lee van Cleef, the Dollars trilogy is about as pure as trilogies get.
2. The Godfather Trilogy
Series Contains: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Godfather: Part III (1990)
While we’re not going to have the audacity to sit here and tell you The Godfather: Part III is a bad film (especially not in light of what gets passed off for cinema these days), we do think that The Godfather trilogy suffers from something similar to the Indiana Jones trilogy, wherein two incredible films are lumped in with a third, somewhat mediocre film that seems to water down the stupendous elements of the trilogy just enough to add a tiny glimmer of doubt to its legacy. While it’s quite possible that The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II are the best overall films of any two on this list, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to place this trilogy at number one with The Godfather: Part III as the closing chapter in the franchise, especially when the number one trilogy rocks so hard it lands us in a galaxy far, far away…
1. Star Wars Trilogy
Series Contains: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983)
Could this have been any trilogy but Star Wars? Not including George Lucas’s preposterous prequel trilogy, the original Star Wars films have captivated the hearts and minds of millions of viewers worldwide since their original release, and their dominating cultural presence is felt now more than ever with nerd culture maintaining such an omnipresent role in the filmmaking world. Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford (like you didn’t already know that), the Star Wars films remain the ultimate trilogy viewing experience. And if you’re one of the seventeen people on planet Earth who hasn’t already seen these films, then we’re both happy and sad for you all at once; sad that you’ve lived this much of your life without seeing Star Wars, and happy since you get to sit down and experience the joy of watching them all for the first time. Enjoy, folks. Enjoy.