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Sequel vs. Prequel: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A sequel is a work that continues the story of, or expands upon, a previous work; a prequel is a work that depicts events occurring before the original.
Sequel vs. Prequel

Key Differences

Sequels and prequels are narrative forms that build upon a previously established storyline, yet they do so in opposite directions with respect to the original narrative's timeline
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
A sequel moves the story forward, presenting events that follow the original tale, allowing audiences to see the aftermath and consequences of the earlier narrative. In contrast, a prequel takes a step back, often delving into the backstory and elements that led up to the events of the original narrative.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
Sequels are opportunities to develop characters and plotlines further, to build upon the world that audiences have come to know, while prequels often serve to deepen the lore and provide context to the motivations and origins of characters and settings.
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Shumaila Saeed
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A sequel might be created to continue a story that left audiences seeking closure or to explore new adventures with familiar characters, whereas a prequel might be designed to explore the history and to answer questions about the origins and foundations of the narrative world.
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Both sequels and prequels can enrich a franchise by providing additional layers and texture to the story, but they engage with the timeline of the narrative in fundamentally different ways.
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Comparison Chart

Chronology

Follows the original story
Precedes the original story
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Purpose

To continue the story
To explore backstory and origins
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Development

Advances characters and plot
Provides background and context
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Audience Expectation

To see what happens next
To learn what happened before
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Typical Use

To expand upon a successful story
To deepen understanding of the original story
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Sequel and Prequel Definitions

Sequel

Follows events in the original work.
The movie's sequel picks up right where the first one ended.
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Prequel

Provides backstory and origins.
In the prequel, we learn about the villain’s complex past.
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Sequel

A continuation of a story in a subsequent work.
Fans eagerly awaited the sequel to their favorite novel.
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Prequel

Often explores events leading to the first story.
The prequel reveals how the ancient feud started.
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Sequel

Develops the story beyond the original.
The sequel introduced new characters and challenges.
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Prequel

A story that precedes and sets up the original.
The prequel explores the hero’s life before the war.
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Sequel

Often made due to the original work’s success.
The unexpected success of the film prompted a quick release of a sequel.
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Prequel

Can provide a deeper understanding of the original.
The prequel added depth to the fantasy world's mythology.
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Sequel

A subsequent installment in a series.
The second book is a thrilling sequel to the epic saga.
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Prequel

Not always released before the original.
Despite the series' popularity, the prequel was released many years after.
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Sequel

Something that follows as a continuation, especially a literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose narrative continues that of a preexisting work.
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Oct 19, 2023

Prequel

A literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose narrative takes place before that of a preexisting work in the same series.
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Sequel

A result or consequence
"Our dreams are the sequel of our waking knowledge" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
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Prequel

(narratology) In a series of works, an installment that is set chronologically before its predecessor, especially the original narrative or (perhaps improper usage) any narrative work with at least one sequel.
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Sequel

(dated) The events, collectively, which follow a previously mentioned event; the aftermath.
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Sequel

(narratology) A narrative that is written after another narrative set in the same universe, especially a narrative that is chronologically set after its predecessors, or (perhaps improper usage) any narrative that has a preceding narrative of its own.
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Sequel

(mathematics) The remainder of the text; what follows. Used exclusively in the set phrase "in the sequel".
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Sequel

Thirlage.
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Sequel

(obsolete) A person's descendants.
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Sequel

That which follows; a succeeding part; continuation; as, the sequel of a man's advantures or history.
O, let me say no more!Gather the sequel by that went before.
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Sequel

Consequence; event; effect; result; as, let the sun cease, fail, or swerve, and the sequel would be ruin.
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Sequel

Conclusion; inference.
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Sequel

Something that follows something else
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Sequel

A part added to a book or play that continues and extends it
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a sequel?

A sequel is a work that continues the story of a previous work.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What is a prequel?

A prequel is a work that depicts events occurring before the original story.
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Why do creators make prequels?

To explore backstory, origins, and provide deeper context for the original story.
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Do sequels continue with the same characters?

Often, but they can also introduce new characters and plotlines.
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Can a sequel be released before a prequel?

Yes, sequels are typically released first, with prequels sometimes coming out later.
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Do I need to watch the prequel first?

Not necessarily, prequels are often designed to be understood after the original.
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Does a sequel come after a prequel?

Chronologically, a prequel's story comes before a sequel's, but release dates can vary.
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How does a sequel relate to a spin-off?

A sequel continues the main story, while a spin-off focuses on side stories or characters.
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Can a prequel be made after the conclusion of a series?

Yes, prequels can be created after the original series has ended.
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Is a sequel always part of a trilogy?

No, sequels are not limited to trilogies and can be part of larger series.
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Are prequels always written by the original creators?

Not always, prequels can be written by different authors or directors.
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Are sequels made only if the original is successful?

Typically, yes, as they are often intended to capitalize on the original's success.
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Can a series have multiple sequels and prequels?

Yes, a successful franchise can have several sequels and prequels.
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Can a sequel be a standalone story?

Yes, some sequels can be enjoyed without knowledge of the original.
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Why do some fans dislike prequels?

Some prequels may not align with fan expectations or the established lore.
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Can prequels introduce new main characters?

Yes, prequels can introduce new characters who play a role in the original story’s background.
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Can a prequel change the way I view the original story?

Yes, prequels can offer new insights that change perceptions of the original.
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Do sequels and prequels affect the canonical story?

Yes, they are usually considered part of the official storyline or canon.
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Do prequels often contain the same actors?

It varies, depending on the time frame and characters involved.
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Do prequels typically have a different tone?

They can, especially if they aim to establish a different part of the storyline.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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