Extenze will have you believe that the longer something is the better, but it’s simply not true. Longer than it’s good refers to a situation in which something would’ve been very good, if it had ended long before it actually did. How much better would the Matrix have been if there hadn’t been a third movie? It’s not just movies, either. This problem extends to all media. We’ll cover some classic examples to explain what it means to be longer than it’s good.
Fantasy Book Series
The list here is somewhat endless and contains many extremely good examples. However, as fantasy books aren’t terribly popular, we’ll start with these. At a glance, we have Sword of Truth (should’ve ended at book 1), Harry Potter (should’ve ended at book 6), and most famously the Wheel of Time. The Wheel of Time holds a special place in everyone’s heart. It consists of 12 books, but it is unfinished. The writer, Robert Jordan, came down with a rare blood disease and died before finishing “the last book.” The series was superb through the 7th book, at which time Robert Jordan realized he was getting very, very rich and decided to make nothing happen for the subsequent five books. As each book is about 1000 pages long, that’s a lot of nothing going on. To his credit, when he learned he was dying, he decided that the next book would be his last in the series. Unfortunately, he died before he completed it, and the task was given to Brandon Sanderson…who decided to extend the series by 3 more books. Had it ended at book 8 with a stunning conclusion, the Wheel of Time would’ve been world renowned as the best fantasy series ever. Instead, the readers wished Robert Jordan’s death…and subsequently got their wish.
How many songs are there that should only be 2 minutes long and feel like forever at 3 minutes? This happens all the time with amateur bands that you hear at bars. You start thinking that a song is pretty decent, then it never ends, and you wish the band would explode in a torrent of flames. While the exploding thing rarely happens, musicians continue to go on for too long. The best example of this is Sonic Youth. There is a song called The Diamond Sea. You’ve probably heard it on the radio for about 4 minutes. I did, and it was one of my favorite songs, until I found the 20 minute long album version. That’s too long. To Sonic Youth’s credit, I haven’t removed this song from my playlist yet because I still like those first 4 minutes.
Ever watched a movie that you thought should’ve ended before the third hour mark? How about one that should’ve ended before the ten minute mark. Titanic, for example, could’ve been an hour long and not given me a headache. In any case, the most stellar example is Blade. The first 5 minutes of Blade is the best movie ever. It’s action packed, has awesome acting, and it has a great story. It even ends with a cliffhanger. How will the vampires get back at Blade?! But then it keeps going on…and on…and on…and what you end up with is a terrible movie. And then they made two more. I would’ve paid $10 to see the first 5 minutes in the theatre on repeat for 2 hours.
Video games (Flash games in particular) are continuously worse than they should be because of longer than it’s good. Buffets also tend to be longer than they are good. This list also includes baseball games, church, and marriage. So, if you’re a creator of something and you’re out of brilliant ideas, just stop. Just because it’s short, doesn’t mean it’s not amazing.