So, some might view this as a bit lazy, but I really wanted to share this article from io9. It is an interesting article discussing the staying power of certain franchises and their characters. There is some thought of whether the stories and characters will have the lasting power to stay around for 50 years. It is an interesting question, the title is comparing Star Wars, and Luke Skywalker, with Harry Potter. Their reasoning is interesting.
The two things they say it is based on is open versus closed endings and copyright law. The copyright law is an obvious issue because copyright keeps getting extended, the open versus closed endings presents a very different issue.
The open versus closed endings was definitely one of the pieces I thought was more interesting in regards to thinking of lasting power. Part of the explanation is that if the story allows for some form of continuation then it helps to keep the story in people’s minds. Star Wars has a whole expanded universe that keeps the story going through books, video games, and other media, which keeps the story alive and in the public’s mind. It also creates more fans as time goes on because there is a Star Wars for future generations.
Harry Potter on the other hand is a closed universe that is tightly controlled by the author. There is fan fiction, but it is retelling the same story over and over again. (Harry Potter fighting Voldemort for eternity). There are the movies and the games based on the books, but they do not expand upon the story in any way. This is the story and it is all there is.
Now the place that the article references and you obviously see it the most is in comic books where the story is just redone in different ways and introducing the character in different ways, but in some ways it is still the same basic story. The best comics though are where they switch up the stories and put in a twist that you don’t expect. At the same time certain super heroes have been around for decades and they are still beloved. Will Harry Potter, Katniss, Edward, etc have that same sort of lasting power?
In general I can understand where the article is coming from, but I do not know if I entirely agree with it because there are franchises that even if they do not continue they can still have a growing fanbase, specifically Firefly. It is amazing to think that Firefly is over 10 years old – it makes me so sad, but at the same time I still quote the show and will watch the movie. I think people are also still introducing their friends to the show and people are continuing to fall in love with it. The 10 year anniversary had a crazy good reaction from fans and the excitement still has not died down. It will be interesting to see in 20 years where the fandom is. (Buffy is older, but also still has a pretty crazy following even after all these years).
On the other hand for me is definitely Doctor Who. This show has just been going for so long, but part of the reason it continues is because it has run long enough that fans of the show pick up the reins and keep it going. The show created the fans that would then eventually keep the story going. It is an example of incredibly open ended because you have all of time and space to explore. It will be interesting to see where the Doctor is in another 50 years.
With all of these franchises and more only time will tell, but part of what makes fans fans is the ability to watch things ad nauseum and share that passion with anybody and everybody they can.