The Top Ten Greatest Film Trilogies of All Time

Earlier in the year I had the opportunity privilege (right?) to introduce my fiancée to Star Wars (both trilogies, for better or worse). And recently we finally got around to watching my all time favorite movie series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, something she had also never seen before. Ultimately it got me thinking about what my favorite trilogies are, and how my opinions ranked against others’.

So today I give you Geekritique’s top ten greatest film trilogies of all time. But not really. Odd enough, the way I came about this list isn’t my personal preference, or any opinion of mine whatsoever. Lists as massive as these require more than one opinion. So naturally I went to the Internet, pooled together 14 ranked lists of favorite trilogies and averaged their placement to find a truer consensus of which trilogies are actually the greatest. Perceived fan wisdom, if you will. Some sites listed more than 10 trilogies, but I only qualified those in the top ten bracket. I also disqualified several sites for only providing top 5’s as this skewed my data. Some sites (annoyingly) gave tie votes to some rankings (of which I chose my personal favorite of the two).

Although the data pooled together far more film trilogies than simply these ten, I chose only those top ranked candidates which were voted highest and most often for this list. Notable mentions include Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy, Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy, and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. Links and citations to each of the lists pooled from below.

10. The Matrix Trilogy
Directors Andy and Lara Wachowski mined some serious cinematic gold with their 1999 release The Matrix. It’s one of those films we still see the ramifications of in modern television and filmmaking, let alone the uncountable bullet-time parodies and rip-offs we’ve seen since. I’ll be the first to mention though that The Matrix trilogy shouldn’t be in the top ten. The second and third installments really fell off the map, despite their aim of making the series even more epic. But hey, I didn’t put it here. Complain somewhere else.

9. Indiana Jones Trilogy
For the sake of this list, let’s just forget about the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and focus on the true trilogy. Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones is an undeniable classic. Hot on the heels of The Empire Strikes Back, Harrison Ford gets another once in a lifetime role. As I write this all my mind can conjure is the immense score by John Williams. Seriously, you know it’s stuck in your head too.

8. Back to the Future Trilogy
Interestingly, not all of the lists I pooled data from included Back to the Future in their top ten, but when they did it was ranked consistently very high. I will concede that I’ve never been a huge fan of the series, but I can’t deny its popularity among filmgoers. The first two are classics, but unfortunately the third is largely one big self-referential joke. I’d have switched this one for Indiana Jones if it were my opinion.

7. Jason Bourne Trilogy
When I was debating in my mind which film trilogies would or should make the list (prior to my research), this trilogy completely slipped my memory. But it is an immensely popular film series, and one that included consistently good movies (which is important to me). Although I admit I’m no fan of your typical political thriller, the Bourne trilogy is one I’ve watched many times (and on more than one occasion have marathoned my way through).

6. The Man with No Name/Dollars Trilogy
No list is complete without Sergio Leone’s The Dollars Trilogy. Although now over 50 years old, it is bar none the greatest cinematic masterpiece of the Spaghetti Western genre. Clint Eastwood’s The Man with No Name is one of the greatest film characters of all time and Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack is iconic of the film genre – one you’ve heard even if though you might not have watched the films. Interestingly this appears on every list except one.

5. Toy Story Trilogy
If there was ever going to be an animated trilogy on this list, it could only have been this one. Pixar and Toy Story set the standard by which all other CGI animation is held against and broke the floodgates for other companies to try and reach its beautiful, simplistic glory. Despite being a cartoon meant for children, it transcends that by giving one of the most heartwarming stories we’ve seen in the past 20 years. Each film was consistently astounding (and when ranked on RottenTomatoes Toy Story comes out on top). The great thing about Toy Story for me is that it always echoed my growth in life with Andy’s. By the time I graduated, Toy Story 3 came around and Andy too graduated from high school and was moving on with his life. The scene where Woody waves to Andy before he drives off and he chokes up… Gosh. One of favorite scenes of all time.

4. The Dark Knight Trilogy
The only superhero trilogy on the list, and rightly so, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy sets itself apart from all others by making Batman a very believable, very dark, and very damaged hero. The data may be slightly skewed with this entry, as some lists were compiled before 2012, which is when the third release, The Dark Knight Rises was pushed out. But realistically if it were changed at all, it’d only really make third place instead of fourth.

3. The Godfather Trilogy
I, like Peter Griffin, don’t really care much for the Godfather series. It just doesn’t do anything for me. But it did apparently do some great things for many others, meaning I’m in the minority here. I can’t deny the powerful/realistic subject matter, the haunting score by Nino Rota, the jaw dropping acting talent involved, Coppola’s vision, and that terrible third installment. Yeah, I went there.

2. Star Wars Original Trilogy
This was bound to make it in. The first movie I remember playing over and over again as a child was The Empire Strikes Back, and to this day it’s my favorite of the three. With Star Wars, Lucas forever changed the way movies would be made. More than any other film, trilogy, or series, Star Wars is the most influential film to date. It defined what it means to be a blockbuster. It shook the lines between science fiction and fantasy, merged them, and created something wholly new and fun. And it has perhaps the most iconic film soundtrack of all time.

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Ahh yes. If it wasn’t Star Wars at number 1, it really couldn’t be anything other than Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to take the cake. It has always been my favorite movie series, without any doubt, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s an immensely-scaled epic of a story, it’s the cornerstone of all modern fantasy, it’s perhaps the longest trilogy out there and it stays consistently good. It’s also a miracle of a feat that each installment was progressively better than the last despite how strong the previous installments were. It comes as no surprise that the trilogy holds more Academy Awards than any other, and alone The Return of the King has 11 wins (which is a tie for the most ever for one film). If any one facet of the trilogy were out of place, the acting, the music, the location shooting, the use of make-up instead of CGI, it may as well have flopped. But it all worked perfectly. Of all the lists I got my data from, the lowest rank Lord of the Rings ever received was a number 4. I, Geekritique, claim that this series above all others is the greatest cinematic feat ever (transcending the rank of mere trilogies) – my opinion, but still. The Lord of the Rings remains a touchstone for those who’ve grown up in this generation. One trilogy to rule them all. And if you’ve yet to see the extended editions, ha, that’s a couple more hours of awesome.

Below are the websites I pooled data from. I wish I could have found at least twenty, but 14 seemed to be pretty concise. Empire, HitFix, What Culture, MensXP, Buzzfeed, That Film Guy, WatchMojo, Pop Matters, The Top Tens, Rope of Silicon,, Quora, College Times, Nerdly.

21 thoughts on “The Top Ten Greatest Film Trilogies of All Time

  1. Some of the items on this list make me sad. I’ll skip past the obvious Matrix comment and go to Bourne Identity, which is a solid series of films, but hardly iconic. Lord of the Rings makes me most sad though as I feel almost the same for it as I did for the Matrix trilogy. At least I bothered to watch all of the Matrix trilogy. I’d like to see a comparison with your own personal choices.


      1. Personally, i think it is very overblown, exmplified by its many endings and the way the first film had very little CGI by comparison. The Hobbit trilogy only proved this point when they were released


      2. That’s part of what makes it so standoutish from the Hobbit in my opinion. They didnt use nearly as much CGI in the LotR trilogy. But the Hobbit is nearly all CGI. Personally im in the boat that wishes the Hobbit films never happened.


  2. I am quite glad that the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy is nowhere in sight. Can’t really argue much with the placement of the others, and the Sergio Leone trilogy is most welcome. I’m a huge fan of the first two Godfather films — which makes up for the third one being such a misfire. And I’ve never seen the Bourne films — I got turned off when I heard Matt Damon, in an interview before the first one came out, call Bourne “the opposite of James Bond” — what, so Bourne is NOT adventurous, clever, brave, bold, and iconic? No thanks… LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I dont think its the opposite in that respect. I feel hes the opposite because hes running away from his previous life as a spy/agent.


  3. The only thing about the Indiana Jones trilogy is that the 2nd wasn’t that good… from what I heard it was why they went back to fighting nazis in the 3rd one… everyone loves to hate a nazi… but you’re right about Toy Story… it’s one of the few kids movies like that that continued to be great for all 3 movies… just wonderful story lines that you couldn’t help but feel for… and that last one had me bawling… though I’m a little confused how Back to the Future is ranked so low… the poster itself says it’s the greatest trilogy ever made…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True. Posters never lie lol. Yeah. Im not a huge fan of the second Indy film. But the other two installments were definitely fantastic. Well, this is all based on data I pooled from other greatest trilogy lists. In my opinion id never have put Back to the Future on the list in the first place. Or Matrix.


      1. yeah the Matrix seems to have let everyone down… I never even bothered with watching the last movie… though now really trying to think of some I can’t really think of that many other trilogies that were good… so many are now trying to tack on more movies so they’re not even trilogies any more… so glad you chose to ignore the 4th Indy movie… I couldn’t believe he even went along with it… so ridiculous…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Bourne, Back to the Future, Dark Knight, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings… Right there with you on those. I have seen and enjoy all of those.

    I don’t like all the Indy movies, though so I can’t rate the trilogy that high even though the first one is easily a great movie.

    I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet, so I can’t vote there… but it might make the list. Similarly I haven’t made it through the entire Godfather trilogy so I can’t honestly vote, but likely I would agree.

    I’m hard pressed to think of another trilogy where I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed them all to a high enough level… so right now I just have those top 5 I noted in the beginning I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I suspect I’m in a minority here but for me Fellowship is the pick of the Rings films, then Towers and finally Return. I guess I’m a sucker for Moria and that Balrog which is one of the very few times it actually surpassed my imagination compared to when I first read the book all those years ago. Towers was always my favourite book but thats because unlike the films it had Shelob in it. For all the excellent climax in Return the 20 minutes after the ring is destroyed felt just about 10 mins too long for me and by the 3rd film I had seriously gone off Orlando Blooms version of Legolas and his godlike abilities (made even more annoying and unnecessary in Hobbit Part 2


    1. Eh I don’t mind Legolas in the original Trilogy. I DO mind him in the Hobbit trilogy. Balrog scene too was excellent. Fellowship is definitely underrated and the most necessary of the three. Without Fellowship we wouldn’t love the characters.


  6. Incidentally, “Back to the Future” is my favourite trilogy. It has my favourite sequel, since it literally revisits the previous, and the ending – in my opinion – only seems like an inflated self-parody because that’s what it is on the surface. Underneath, there’s a much deeper story happening that’s about more than time travel. But that’s just me.

    “Star Wars” is an excellent one, too. Contrary to popular opinion, my favourite’s “Return of the Jedi”, as endings often are. That’s the one where “they win”, and it’s such an emotional high after the darkness of episode five.

    I’ve only seen the LotR trilogy at school. If we brought a film in, we could watch it over a series of lunches in form, and we once went through the extended trilogy. Which took several months.

    The big question is whether your ranks will change after the release of “The Battle of the Five Armies” and the Prequel Trilogy,,,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My personal lists won’t change. The first two Hobbit films really disappointed me. Both feel like butter spread over two much bread (to quote Bilbo). They also try and recapture the heart of the LotR trilogy and it just isnt the same. But as this data is pooled from different sources I cant say if it’ll change or not. Probably not though. It seems as if prequel trilogies are doomed to always be the lesser cousin.


  7. Awesome list!

    I loved the shit out of Matrix growing up, so I’m biased in thinking it definitely deserves to be on this list. I do agree, however, that the sequels were crap compared to the first one. The second one I could work with, but the third makes me want to inhale a screwdriver.

    Never really watched Indiana Jones. I used to read a lot of adventure thrillers, so to be honest I just don’t think it’ll really work for me like it apparently works for most folks. And am I the only person on the planet that doesn’t like Back to the Future?

    I LOVE THE BOURNE MOVIES. I think the writers made one of the best moves when they decided to only use Ludlum’s books as an inspiration, and instead create their own storylines and pay homage to him in them. The books are good, with Supremacy being the best in my opinion, but the movies are just gold. Damn, you made me want to rewatch them -.- Oh, and in my universe the 4th one was never made, so that love rant only applies to the first three, haha.

    I grew up watching Westerns, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Never knew it was part of a trilogy o_O To date, I still haven’t seen Toy Story 3 as yet. I lead a sad life, hah. And well, I don’t think I need to say anything about Batman. Those movies just get better and better. Legendary Studios are incapable of making a bad movie. I liked Godfather, but only the first one. I’ve never felt the urge to watch the sequels.

    I’ll probably have to run away for saying this, but I’m in that minuscle minority that actually likes the prequels over the originals for Star Wars. Like most folks seem to have grown up on the original trilogy, I grew up on prequels long before I ever knew about the original trilogy.

    Peter Jackson forever has my undying gratitude for his work on LoTR. I saw the movies first, and after reading the books? As far as I care, he fixed them. Ditched the songs, took out some of the parts that are just a waste of time, and even edits some minor details to make them much more epic, like Isildur’s sword.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great comment. I loved the Matrix too growing up 😄.

      You really should watch Indiana Jones. It’s the most fun out of the adventure/historical fiction drama you’ll ever get for the most part. And no, I’m not a huge fan of Back to the Future either. Don’t hate it, but I’m fine never watching it again.

      I can’t disagree with the Bourne paragraph you’ve written for me. I’ve yet to read any Ludlum, but I’d like to at some point.

      Haha, I feel the same way. Love the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (but havent seen the other two). Toy Story 3 is my favorite, for personal reasons.

      Hmm, yes you are in the minority there. Very small minority.

      And yes, I 100% agree with your statements on Tolkien and Jackson. He turned something fantastic into something epicly fantastic. I just wished he’d redo The Hobbit… Hate them movies.


      1. I’ll take your advice and watch Indiana Jones sometime. Toy Story 3 is a definite, I’ve just never made the opportunity as yet. Pretty sure my sister has the DVD lying around somewhere. To be honest I boycotted the Hobbit movies, lol. The Hobbit wasn’t a very interesting book to me, and when I heard they were making that one tiny book into 3 movies? Seemed like exploitation to me.They seemed the same sort of overblown hype that Transformers thrives on to me, hah.

        Liked by 1 person

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