One of the most iconic thought experiments of all time is the concept of the Ship of Theseus. The paradox has gone through numerous changes over the years, but its core idea is predicated on one simple question: if a ship’s crew gradually swaps out parts as the vessel docks in various ports, is it still the same ship by the time every component has been replaced? It’s a concept with no definitive answers, and in the realm of film, no franchise epitomizes the Theseus Paradox more than the Fast and Furious franchise.
With each passing installment, the Fast and Furious series has slowly but surely moved away from the roots established in Rob Cohen‘s The Fast and the Furious, and the newly released Fate of the Furious has stretched the concept of the series farther than ever before. With that in mind, let’s take a look back and examine how each of the Fast and Furious movies has changed the series in a fundamental way. This tradition dates all the way back to the second installment in the series, so let’s get started with what happened once Vin Diesel decided to leave.
Going into its second installment, the Fast and Furious franchise went through a notable identity crisis as it tried to figure itself out. With 2 Fast 2 Furious, the franchise dropped its biggest star as Vin Diesel opted to focus on the xXx and Riddick franchises — which seems genuinely bizarre in hindsight. To compensate for Diesel’s departure, the sequel to The Fast and the Furious shifted gears from Los Angeles to Miami and teamed Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner up with Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce. Aside from the title, most people tend to forget about 2 Fast 2 Furious, and the addition of Roman and Tej (Ludacris) to the series mythology is the only other significant development.