Every Franchise Tradition That Indiana Jones 5 Must Break

As Indiana Jones 5 is tipped to be the final outing for the iconic character, there are a number of Indiana Jones franchise traditions the film should break. The Indiana Jones franchise is undoubtedly the most well-known action-adventure franchise of all time, and its stories and central character are considered among the most beloved in all pop culture. Beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, the Indiana Jones franchise grew to incorporate three sequels and a spin-off TV show, with the fifth film, Indiana Jones 5, currently set for release in 2023.


Harrison Ford has shaped the character of Indiana Jones, and the archeologist is now practically synonymous with Ford himself. As his portrayals of the character in film date back over four decades, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role. However, as there are indications that Indiana Jones 5 may be Ford’s last movie, it’s entirely possible that the upcoming sequel will be the character’s final outing. The idea has been backed up by comments from Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, who has announced that she has no intention of recasting the role after Harrison Ford’s departure.

Whether Indiana Jones 5 is the last film of the franchise remains to be seen, but it seems increasingly likely that it will be Harrison Ford’s last turn in the role. This means that regardless of the Indiana Jones franchise’s future, the upcoming sequel should break a number of traditions. Doing so would help round off the narrative arc of the Harrison Ford character – either ahead of his eventual recasting or before his story ends for good – giving the iconic adventurer a satisfying end by subverting expectations and marking the end of Ford’s era of Indiana Jones with a suitably memorable story.

Indiana Jones 5 Should See Indy Get Credit For A Discovery

One of the franchise’s most obvious ending tropes is that Indiana Jones’ incredible discoveries are either lost or hidden away, with the archeologist’s most fantastic finds impossible to substantiate without proof. In Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s ending, the Ark is taken to be studied by “top men” (in other words, stashed away in a secret government warehouse), rendering Jones’ hugely significant discovery redundant as the facts were buried in order to hide the artifact’s power. In the prequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, all but one Sankara stone is lost, and the final stone is given back to the villagers of Mayapore, with Indy walking away empty-handed for doing the right thing. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade sees Indy forfeit the Holy Grail to save his father’s life, a choice which sees the Grail temple destroyed and the artifact lost. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ends with Indiana Jones returning the skull to the alien it came from, and the technologically-superior beings leaving the planet, destroying the lost city of Akator in the process.

As the first four movies see all the Indiana Jones franchise’s artifacts lost or destroyed in some way, the most impressive exploits of the iconic archeologist are unsubstantiated within his own story. If Indiana Jones 5 sees the adventurer making another groundbreaking discovery, it would be a fitting end for him to finally be credited with something important. In doing so, the Indiana Jones franchise would finally flip one of the most obvious recurring elements of previous movies, giving Indy a subtle but definitively happy ending at the same time.

Indiana Jones 5 Needs To Avoid Escalating The Franchise

Another way in which previous Indiana Jones movies have established a franchise trend is in the apparent need for escalation. Considering the Indiana Jones timeline, his adventures see each discovery being more groundbreaking than the last. The order of the franchise’s continuity means that Jones’ first supernatural discovery was the Sankara stones, followed by the Ark of the Covenant. After this, he discovered the Holy Grail (which may have even made Indiana Jones immortal), and then find evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life. Categorizing these discoveries in order of importance isn’t an easy task, but the apparent intent behind each Indiana Jones adventure is to up the ante from his previous outing.

In a sense, this sort of narrative progression is natural, but it’s actually counter-productive when weighed against other elements of the franchise. As Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s aliens were widely considered a step too far for the franchise, dialing things back for Indiana Jones 5 would be a much wiser idea. Though each story so far has escalated the events of Jones’ previous adventures, Indiana Jones 5 would be better to keep its scope more focused and personal, returning to examining the character himself and framing his development through the lens of his discovery – much like the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark did back in 1981.

Why Indy Shouldn’t Have A Sidekick For Indiana Jones 5

Another staple of the Indiana Jones franchise is each film containing a sidekick of sorts. Raiders of the Lost Ark had Marion and Sallah, Temple of Doom had Willy and Short Round, The Last Crusade had Indy adventuring alongside his own father, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull introduced Mutt Williams, Indiana Jones’ son. Giving Indy a sidekick is something of a tradition for the franchise, but it’s one that his supposed final outing would do better to break.

Of course, that isn’t to say that Indiana Jones 5 shouldn’t explore its supporting characters, but the important thing is that they don’t act as sidekicks to Jones. There are many reasons that this would be ill-advised, but perhaps the most obvious is that it makes little sense to introduce a new sidekick in what may be the character’s final adventure. Indiana Jones‘ sidekick problem has already created potential issues for the franchise’s future, so better exploring the character of Indiana Jones without having him rely on the help of a sidekick would be an interesting way to end his story.

Flipping Previous Movies’ Endings Would Be The Perfect Indiana Jones Send-Off

Indiana Jones movies always end with the character having learned something valuable, but walking away without anything tangible to show for his troubles. Each story sees Jones come to better understand the value of family, friendship, or respect for religious beliefs and superstition, and that works – it rounds each movie off with a satisfying conclusion that still hints at future adventures. However, flipping this would be an interesting way of ending Indiana Jones’ cinematic story, finally giving him the definitive ending that previous films have shied away from.

For Indiana Jones 5 to flip the ending trope, it would be necessary to have Jones finally be credited with an important discovery, leaving his own indelible mark on history. This would see Indiana Jones become as well-known within his own story as he is outside of it, as well as hammering home the lessons he learned from his previous adventures. Having Indy finally prove one of his elusive discoveries to the world would be a satisfying way to round his story off, particularly as it could highlight to the character that his real pursuit was always knowledge and the ability to share it with the world. In doing so, Indiana Jones 5 could end Indiana Jones’ story in a way that feels organic, satisfying, and deeply emotional all at once.

Key Release Dates

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    Indiana Jones 5
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