Clint Eastwood

Why Dirty Harry 6 Didn’t Happen (& Clint Eastwood’s Joke Pitch For It)

Despite being a hugely popular series Clint Eastwood never returned for Dirty Harry 6. Here's why it didn't happen, and his joke pitch for it.

Here’s why Dirty Harry 6 never happened, and Clint Eastwood’s joke pitches for where it could take the character. Outside of the Man with no Name from the Dollars trilogy, “Dirty” Harry Callahan is easily one of Eastwood’s most famous characters. Harry is a cynical San Francisco detective famous for carrying a .44 magnum revolver and often solving crimes with blunt force. The character had been previously offered to another screen legend but John Wayne passed on Dirty Harry, as did Frank Sinatra.

While Eastwood has rarely returned for sequels to his hit movies, Dirty Harry soon became a movie franchise. Harry first returned for 1973’s Magnum Force, where he had to deal with a group of vigilante cops while 1976’s The Enforcer saw him reluctantly paired with a rookie female officer. While the latter was originally supposed to be the final entry, Eastwood dusted off the series for 1983’s brutal revenge thriller Sudden Impact, which he also helmed. The last outing was 1988’s The Dead Pool, where he investigate the murders of a group of famous people featured on the titular list – a list he’s also included on.

While The Dead Pool is perfectly watchable, it’s the weakest of the franchise. While the film doesn’t necessarily close the door on more Harry stories, it proved to be both the final Dirty Harry and star Clint Eastwood’s last sequel period. Eastwood’s last true swing at being an action movie lead was 1990’s The Rookie, where he played a veteran, Dirty Harry-style cop paired with Charlie Sheen’s titular character, but he quickly ruled out a Dirty Harry 6, which is a vow he stuck with. One reason Dirty Harry 6 likely didn’t happen is that while The Dead Pool wasn’t a flop, it did gross significantly less than Sudden Impact had just five years previously.

The Dead Pool made nearly $40 million, which is starkly contrasted against Sudden Impact’s $150 million haul. The fact it received mediocre reviews and critiques about Eastwood being too old probably only convinced the star it was time to retire the character. There were rumors 2008’s Gran Torino was a stealth sequel before release, which turned out to be false. Director and star Clint Eastwood later had an interview promoting the movie with the Los Angeles Times and stated if a decent script for a Dirty Harry 6 emerged he might consider it, but he didn’t think it was likely. He also listed some of his own, tongue-in-cheek ideas for it.

“Harry is retired. He’s standing in a stream, fly-fishing. He gets tired of using the pole — and BA-BOOM! Or Harry is retired and he chases bad guys with his walker? Maybe he owns a tavern. These guys come in and they won’t pay their tab, so Harry reaches below the bar. Hey, guys, the next shot’s on me . . .”

“Dirty” Harry is very much a character and franchise of its era, and despite its place in pop culture, it’s very unlikely to be rebooted. In a way, it’s good that Clint Eastwood left well enough alone and never returned for a Dirty Harry 6. By The Dead Pool, it was clear there wasn’t much left to explore with Callahan, and rather than pumping out another average sequel, the series was retired with a little dignity.

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