Armed with Canon

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As proven by a talking fourth-wall-breaking squirrel.
"The late James F. Bowman was writing a serial tale for a weekly paper in collaboration with a genius whose name has not come down to us. They wrote, not jointly but alternately, Bowman supplying the installment for one week, his friend for the next, and so on, world without end, they hoped. Unfortunately they quarreled, and one Monday morning when Bowman read the paper to prepare himself for his task, he found his work cut out for him in a way to surprise and pain him. His collaborator had embarked every character of the narrative on a ship and sunk them all in the deepest part of the Atlantic."

Originally referenced in Running the Asylum, this trope refers to infighting within the official ranks of a shared-universe franchise, where creative teams will take potshots at each other, using their own stories to undercut, contradict, Retcon, or just plain insult the work of their rivals. Because these are official stories, each volley becomes entrenched in the overall setting.

If the shots just end up tangling the Canon up, then a Continuity Snarl can be the result. Sometimes, the mess results in a Crisis Crossover—which will inevitably become the target of later writers Armed With Canon.

Recent examples of the Crisis Crossover are active volleys of Canon-fire, as different factions within the companies have a tug-of-war over the "New Direction".

This isn't necessarily bad, often resulting in an Author's Saving Throw.

Ship-to-Ship Combat is occasionally a cause. A lesser shade is Depending on the Writer.

Messing with other authors' characters in a large Shared Universe is a potential Flame Bait and may be off-limits as impolite and sometimes prohibited outright: it's almost someone's Player Character, and in settings made for RPGT it sometimes is. Conversely, simply asking the original author before using "their" characters in canonical material is a nice and Continuity-enhancing practice. Of course, there's a precarious balance between counterproductive doting over prominent characters by their authors or derailing these characters (and royally vexing their authors) without any good reason by Executive Meddling or another author missing the whole point somewhere.

If fans are the ones doing this, it's a Fix Fic. Has nothing to do with Arm Cannons.[2]

Examples of Armed with Canon include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha had a bit of a shipping war among the staff, where the NanoYuuno shippers ran the Sound Stages and tried to torpedo the NanoFate ship by having Nanoha and Hayate suggest that Fate was trying to distance herself from being Vivio's other mother. In ViVid, Vivio kept seeing Fate as her other mother, and Fate once referred to herself as "Fate-mama" while speaking with Vivio.
    • Fate's family is specifically shown to be Erio and Caro, lacking Nanoha and Vivio, so the debate rages on. Then again, while Vivio suggests that she should give Fate and her children some space while they spend time as a family, Fate, Erio and Caro think doing so is unnecessary.
    • While it wouldn't have helped in the manga, the Nanoha and Yuuno shippers can't have been bolstered by the fact that when Fate and Nanoha's voice actresses armed themselves with canons, it was to come down squarely on the side of NanoFate.
    • In this article, the two VAs mention that in 10 years, Nanoha will be a housewife for Fate. The original writer, Tsuzuki, also says Vivio "frequently keeps in contact with Fate-mama, as often as contacting the father who works away from home, with a communication tool."
  • Yu Yu Hakusho has a case here. In an interview, the writer of the manga stated that he hadn't intended Hiei+Kurama as a canon couple. The problem, of course, is that several of the anime's artists liked the pairing and drew official art for the anime that hinted otherwise.
  • Elfen Lied had the anime team fighting a shipping war with the manga. In the manga, Lucy dies and Kouta gets with Yuka. In the anime, Kouta/Yuka is played down a bit while Kouta/Lucy is played up, and while the ending is ambiguous, it's implied that Lucy survives the Bolivian Army Ending and returns to Kouta. Of course, since it was Cut Short, the Love Triangle is never formally resolved in the anime.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Any Marvel Comics writer who dares turn his hand to writing Doctor Doom is certain to find that a later writer will take issue with his interpretation, and declare that the story was so wildly out of character that it couldn't have really been Doom—it was Actually a Doombot. At least one story suggested that (almost) every single appearance of Doom since the early '60s was a Doombot. Oddly, the story was otherwise quite good.
  • When John Byrne took over Star Brand back in the '80s, he proceeded to launch one Take That after another at the departing figure of ousted Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter. Star Brand was one of the Shooter-initiated "New Universe" titles, and was the one that Shooter himself wrote personally. Byrne not only took ad hominem shots at Shooter personally, but had exposition characters hang lampshades on how implausible the events of Shooter's run was, and how stupid the hero had been. Early on in Byrne's run, the hero's girlfriend (a major cast member) got Stuffed in The Fridge; the hero later broke down and passed the title Brand onto some other poor schmuck, destroying Pittsburgh (Jim Shooter's hometown) in the process. This was referred to slightly in the Untold Tales of the New Universe story "Tales of the Mulletverse".
  • Writer Alan Grant was told straight up that this would be the fate of his Batman character Anarky, who he'd set out to establish as the Joker's son. Ironically, the series was canceled before this could happen, so, for now, it's still canon. Recent events have only strengthened the "Anarky is Joker's son" issue by revealing that Duela Dent, the so-called "Joker's Daughter" is actually the multiversally displaced offspring of Earth-3's Jokester (so yes, this means that Anarky and Duela are essentially the other's Opposite Gender Clone— or at the very least interdimensional siblings). But this is to be taken with a grain of salt in that this was introduced during the Countdown to Final Crisis storyline and may or may not by canon.
  • Dan Slott's final issue of She Hulk was devoted entirely to explaining away events from other comics as alternate-universe doppelgangers who were visiting the Marvel Universe on vacation; this has since been largely ignored. The reveal was a "fix" to a story in Uncanny X-Men which had She-Hulk uncharacteristically sleeping with the Juggernaut. Before coming to our world, the doppelgangers were supposed to learn everything about their other self by reading a handbook, so they could act in character.
“So when something messed-up happens in the future we have to assume it’s because of some idiot who couldn't be bothered to take five minutes to read their darned handbook?!
  • The Marvel Universe Crisis Crossover Secret Invasion, seemed like it was going to do this ("X wasn't really X, just a Skrull impostor!") much more than it actually did.
  • The comic Spike: Shadow Puppets plays with this trope by having the Japanese Smile Time puppets literally armed with the Smile Time Official Cannon. Spike barely dodges the blast and gingerly gets to his feet, muttering, "I hate the official cannon." Hey, after the way it kicked him around, who could blame him?
  • The What If version of Spider-Man: The Other, by Peter David, basically starts with the Watcher explaining that the fundamental premise of the original story (by J. Michael Straczynski) is flawed, and this version is based on what was really going on.
  • Geoff Johns is generally thought of as one of the best DC Comics writers when it comes to sticking to continuity, but almost every book he's been involved in has undergone some degree of change to his character or just plain Retconning. Most of these have the catch-all excuse that Infinite Crisis, a crossover he created, re-wrote the DC Universe's history at large and changed various details that are just now being explained.
    • Reversed Jerry Ordway's characterisation of Black Adam, so that instead of a demon-worshipper in the body of a contrite murderer, he's a Namor-type Knight Templar in the body of an unrepentant killer. (Although this change at least didn't generate too much vitriol from the fans in the way some other examples on this page have, and some of the stories it generated - such as the Black Reign arc in JSA - are quite popular)
    • Completely abolished the backstory written by Kon-El/Superboy's creator, that he was the clone of Cadmus director Paul Westfield with implanted superpowers, in favour of his being the clone of Superman and Luthor. Johns eventually acknowledged that that was what Superboy (and Westfield) believed. Regardless, he continued to have Kon suddenly agonizing about being the clone of a villain, despite that having been his opinion of Westfield.
      • A few months before the original scans_daily was balleeted, one member posted a scan of a letter column from an issue of the 1990s Superboy series (the one that starred Kon-El/Conner Kent). In it, a certain young "Geoffrey Johns" suggested that Superboy was created from the combined DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor. Karl Kesel, who was writing the book at the time, responded by politely yet firmly telling him that it wasn't the case. Fast-forward to 2003, when Geoff Jonns became the writer of the relaunched Teen Titans series, which just happened to have Kon-El is a member of the main cast. Guess what the very first issue of the series was about. Come on, guess.
      • Then again, there are those who see the decision as arguably being for the better, since it just goes to show how much of a control freak Luthor is: to have his own personal weapon to use against Superman. For Superboy to suddenly agonize about his parentage is more understandable. Westfield was evil. Lex Luthor is Evil. The two cannot be compared.
      • And then again, there are those who see the decision as arguably being for the worse, since Kon-El now bears little to no resemblance to what he was when he was first created. As created by Karl Kesel, Kon-El was a wisecracking, fun-loving kid who didn't let the fact he was cloned from a creep get him down. Once Johns changed who he was cloned from, Kon could now never stop wangsting about it. Johns took a Lighter and Softer Fun Personified character and made him all Darker and Edgier.
    • Most recently, claimed that every single appearance of the Post-Crisis Brainiac wasn't really him at all, but was a Doomb... sorry, a Brainiac-probe. Even Milton Fine, who was taken over by nanoprobes, rather than psychically possessed by Brainiac's intelligence (as readers of the original story saw happen). This isn't quite as extreme as other examples, though, since Brainiac's probes were under his total control and basically secondary bodies for him to use.
    • The same goes for Toyman since his Darker and Edgier revamp in 1992, despite the fact that Superman knows Toyman is a master at constructing realistic automata, and regularly x-rays the guy to ensure he hasn't pulled a fast one in this fashion. This is explained away by Toyman simply saying "my robots are good enough to fool Superman."
    • After Hawkman was rendered "radioactive" in the wake of Zero Hour, Johns resurrected the Golden Age Hawkman while leaving the Silver Age alien one in limbo. While this version worked out well, Jim Starlin (for reasons known only to him) decided to retcon the Johns-written character, making the Hawkman who was part of the JSA be the alien Hawkman. It's gotten so confusing, Hawkman is now somehow both the Gold and Silver Age Hawks at the same time.
    • Tangentially related to the Hawkman snarl is the volley handling of his son, Hector Hall, and Hector's surrounding characters once he was reincarnated as the new Doctor Fate. What makes this particularly headache inducing is that Johns was volleying against himself, as if he couldn't decide which direction he wanted to take the character. As just one example of this, first all the prior Fates live in the amulet, then they're just hallucinations conjured up by Nabu, then, no, they're actually real again, then they all disappear again.
    • Johns also restored the Silver Age era Green Lantern Hal Jordan to the "star" of the book again. Since Hal had been turned into an evil supervillain named Parallax however, this required retconning Hal's previously evil deeds by claiming "Parallax" was actually a fear-based mental parasite who was corrupting him. The fear bug is now considered a mythical part of the mythos, but almost no one could have predicted that this act would turn out as good as it has.
    • Geoff also did a Take That against Brad Meltzer and his Identity Crisis series, which, at one point, had a series of offhand scenes showing some B and D list heroes Jack Bauer interrogating the Rogues, enemies of the Flash, one of the most powerful heroes on the planet, whom Johns was writing at the time. Cue next month's Flash showing those exact same scenes playing out to the end, with the Rogues soundly thrashing the heroes and going on their way.
    • Geoff Johns has become so well-known for retconning things (both in good ways and bad) that he's earned the Fan Nickname "Geoffcons."
  • Garth Ennis and Frank Tieri had a back-and-forth feud fought in the pages of their respective books The Punisher and Wolverine. It started in Ennis' Punisher #16-17, where Frank Castle blasts a wildly over-the-top Wolverine in the face with a shotgun, hits him in the balls with a baseball bat, and runs him over with a steamroller. Tieri responded in Wolverine #186 by implying Punisher was gay.
  • Something similar happened a few years earlier, when Eric Larsen had the Darker and Edgier Dr. Octopus deliver the Hulk a severe smackdown during the "Revenge of the Sinister Six" storyarc in Spider-Man (the early 1990s series with no adjective). Hulk writer Peter David responded shortly afterward by having the Hulk wipe the floor with Octopus, and commenting on how he was having a "bad day" during their previous encounter. He even went so far as to put Doc Ock in his old green spandex costume which he hadn't worn since the early 80's and Flanderized him into a sniveling mad scientist when he was being built up by many spider-writers as a serious world threat.
    • This debate kicked up again years later in the letter-pages of Savage Dragon where David wrote in to accuse Larsen of a making a personal attack when he wrote the Spider-Man story. Larsen explained that since Doc Ock was using Applied Phlebotinum in the story (he had much stronger adamantium limbs), it made sense to use the Hulk for the Worf Effect. David was not amused.
  • Squirrel Girl is almost an Armed with Canon game of tennis. First, she was shown beating Doctor Doom. So a later appearance of Doom mentions it was Actually a Doombot (see above). Then Squirrel Girl beats Thanos, and Uatu is present just to say that it isn't a "Robot, clone, or simulacrum". Later on, Thanos mentions that he can create clones of himself that even the Watcher cannot tell aren't him. So then another Squirrel Girl adventure goes back to the beginning: by having Doctor Doom be unwilling to fight her when she shows up in his castle.
    • Note that all of this except the Doombot reveal was written by Dan Slott; he's having fun at one-player Canon ping-pong.
      • Although the first story where Doom is beaten by Squirrel Girl was written by Will Murray and (as mentioned above) Steve Ditko. It can be argued that Slott is simply following Ditko's lead.
    • There are some fans theories about Thanos lying about that just to avoid admitting defeat.
  • After Mark Millar turned Iron Man into a fascist in Civil War, many other writers have had their character walk up to Tony Stark and berate him for his actions. This may stop now that he's gotten his karmic comeuppance in World War Hulk and Secret Invasion.
    • Only Brian Bendis came close to rationalizing Stark's actions and that was in a uber-last minute filler story published AFTER Civil War ended, via retconning all of Tony's actions based around a never seen sequence where Tony Stark learned about Project Wide-Awake and the fact that the government was going to activate it and unleash the Sentinels upon the super-hero community. Bendis also outright absolved Hank Pym of his involvement in Civil War by way of a Skrull impostor.
      • Reed Richards sadly remains unredeemed/fixed, in large part because of Armed with Canon, as far as people refusing to let Marvel forget that Reed once single-handedly killed the Mutant Registration Act via pointing out how forcing super-heroes to register wouldn't work.
  • One reason there's bad blood between John Byrne and Peter David has to do with Lockjaw, the Inhumans' dog. As created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Lockjaw was just a very large, mutated dog with a normal canine intelligence level. Byrne later wrote a Thing issue in which Lockjaw spoke for the first time, begging that baby Luna not be subjected to the Terrigen Mists, since their effects weren't always pretty—implying that he was a full-fledged Inhuman like the others. It was a touching, fan-favourite story, but it had Unfortunate Implications: the Inhumans had always treated Lockjaw as an animal, and now this was solely because he looked like one. Thus Peter David revealed that Lockjaw's "speech" had been a prank on Ben Grimm. (As he tells it, this was a request from editorial.) This fixed the problems with Byrne's story, but now the Inhumans were Jerkasses for a different reason: pranking Grimm in the middle of an important debate, at Lockjaw's expense. Fans of the Byrne story remain sore about this... and others remain sore about the Byrne story.
    • Unfortunately that retcon to make Lockjaw just a dog was shown as being a prank including Quicksilver being part of it, requiring him to somehow be pranking himself and talking himself out of using the Terrigen Mists on his daughter. So not only is it a bad retcon it required the prankster to be the one person it couldn't possibly be putting it in the same category of DC doing the quick switch to make Hawk into Monarch when he was explicitly shown as being incapable of being the one to become Monarch. Also given Lockjaw bears a tuning fork on his head just like Black Bolt the reveal that he was a mutated Inhuman actually fits, especially when you consider the only mutated things in Attilan are Inhumans. While everyone treated him like a dog there's no reason to think Lockjaw's anything but one of the losers of the superpower lottery when it comes to appearance.
  • Deadpool's origins has been so Depending on the Writer that eventually Deadpool himself accepted that his real origin wasn't his problem anymore, and arguing about it was just a waste of time.
  • When John Byrne took over as writer on the West Coast Avengers, a title previously written by Steve Englehart, he proceeded to undermine four years' worth of characterization. Hawkeye went from confident leader to sidelined jerk. The Vision and Wonder Man relationship, that had evolved into a bond of close fraternity, returned to one of jealous contention. And the Vision and Scarlet Witch marriage... was altered. After the Vision lost his emotions, their children were discovered to be pieces of the devil, after which The Scarlet Witch went insane. For some reason Byrne decided to hit the Reset Button and return the characters to a status they had outgrown in over a decade of stories. Some have accused Byrne of wrecking a title that Englehart had arguably made a success out of resentment over how Englehart had written the Fantastic Four, a title John Byrne had made a hit, although it is just as likely a case of Creative Differences.
  • James Robinson's Justice League: Cry For Justice reveals that following Prometheus's original appearances in Grant Morrison's JLA, someone else has been using the suit, while the original Prometheus lay low, until now. Since Prometheus has been subjected to galloping Villain Decay over the past few years, this is probably a good thing. Although Prometheus's death at the end of the story makes it somewhat pointless.
    • The villain decay was started by his own creator. Many fans forget, after all the build-up, Prometheus was defeated in his first caper by being whipped in the 'nads by a disguised Catwoman. And it was all downhill from there.
    • Cry For Justice had a controversial scene implying that Green Lantern Hal Jordan had at some point had a drunken threesome with Huntress and Lady Blackhawk of Birds of Prey fame. Gail Simone wasn't very happy about that and revealed that what that scene was really referring to was that the girls had once seen Hal pass out drunk at a pilot convention.
  • When Chris Claremont wrote Margali Szardos as "Sorceress Supreme" over in X-Men, the writer of Doctor Strange responded with a story revealing that she had been possessed and really had no magical powers at all.
  • In one issue of Captain Atom, writer Greg Weisman attempted to explain multiple personifications of death in DCU, as aspects of death - the Black Racer represented Death as an inevitability, Nekron represented death as the ultimate enemy and Death of the Endless represented "the peaceful death that comes to the righteous". This annoyed the creator of the Endless, Neil Gaiman, who responded in interviews and a scene in which Death declared that she represents the death of everything, including the Universe itself, without any single exception.
  • Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider Man featured stories set in between and around the early stories of Spider-Man by Lee and Kirby. It stuck closely as possible to the old continuity of those issues. Many fans considered it the most entertaining Spider-Man book, especially since the series appeared around the time all the regular Spider titles were entangled in The Clone Saga mess.Then John Byrne came along. Spider Man Chapter One was his attempt to update the old Lee and Ditko stories and he pretty much disregarded most of what Busiek had done in his Untold Tales series.
    • Not too long afterwards, Paul Jenkins penned a Chameleon story-arc in Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man - explicitly referencing his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #1 instead of Chapter One. Note that Jenkins didn't do so based on his own opinions. He simply asked editorial which story he should reference, and they answered with the original. To add insult to injury, this went down while Chapter One was still in progress - Bryne's mini-series being disregarded months before the final issue was on the stands.
  • The people responsible for the Angel: After the Fall comic at IDW are pissed at the people responsible for Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic for the reveal that Angel is Twilight. So much so, they've created promo pictures for their new Spike series wherein Spike burns a Twilight mask while saying, "He's definitely not Twilight."
  • V4 Legion of Super-Heroes, having been written by fans, has a lot of this. For instance, fan speculation had had it that Element Lad is gay, but the previous writers gave him a girlfriend. When the fans got to write the book, his girlfriend was retconned into a man taking sex-change drugs. (Weirdly, they wrote Element Lad as unaware of this, so its relevance to his own sexuality is...unclear.)
  • John Byrne's revival of Doom Patrol fused this with outright Canon Discontinuity and Cosmic Retcon by ignoring all but the first of the comic's previous versions, in particular Grant Morrison's beloved tenure, which had itself been mildly fired upon during Rachel Pollack's run for Vertigo. This was rectified by Geoff Johns and Keith Giffen making everything from past writers canon... Which, considering the nature of the strip even before Morrison's entrance, fit just fine.
  • After a long and well received run co-writing Strontium Dog with Alan Grant, John Wagner left the strip with Grant; who promptly killed off all the main characters. Skip forward a few years and Wagner resurrected the strip, declaring the last twenty years of comic null and void. The official line is that hose stories were "the legends of [main character] Johnny Alpha and the new stories are what really happened". Cue lots of fans shouting Nooooo! in unison.
  • Reading The Mighty Avengers you might get an impression that Dan Slott has some sort of continuity-war with Incredible Hercules writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente - every time they tried to set the series in larger continuity on page or via Word of God, Slott would write something contradicting them. And when they poked fun at Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe Marvel gods were using back in the days, but stopped in early 00s, Slott wrote Herc returning to it.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog: The feud between writers Karl Bollers and Ken Penders tended to come down to this, with them Retconing each other's story ideas in favor of their own all the time. Of special note is Antoine's attitude change after the Time Skip: Bollers wanted it to be natural Character Development, and it would have been the lynchpin of several ideas he had planned for later on. But Penders disliked the change, so he made it that Antoine had instead been switched with his Alternate Universe Evil Twin.
    • And then, both of them then left the comic at the same time, allowing new writer Ian Flynn to scrap the majority of their ideas and replace them with his own.
  • During the time Wolverine's son Daken and Daredevil's enemy Bullseye were members of the Dark Avengers, Daniel Way and Majorie Liu, writers of Daken's ongoing series Dark Wolverine, tried to estabilish some sort of rivalry with a lot of sexual tension between the two, with Daken using his powers to manipulate Lester's emotions For the Evulz. Other writers decided to ignore it and wrote them as good friends with no rivaly or sexual tension whatsoever.
  • Subverted in the 2011 Alpha Flight mini-series. Alpha Flight members were resurrected during Chaos War but without Puck, who appeared in Hell in one of Wolverine's stories after Chaos War. When he later appered very alive in Alpha Flight's new ongoing, you might have expected the writers handwaving it and saying he returned with the others and that Puck from Logan's adventure wasn't him, right? Instead Puck admits he was indeed in Hell. He slew the devil, took over Hell and then gave up his throne to return and save his friends.
  • The death of Ace in the final Seventh Doctor arc of the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip was widely seen as an aggressive attempt to prove that the comic was an Alternate Continuity to the Virgin New Adventures (the strip had tied into the NAs for a while beforehand, so they were retconning themselves with this as well). Following the series' return to TV, the comic's made mention of strips both during the tie-ins and after the split, but "Who" is the series that gave us the Timey-Wimey Ball...
  • The website "Comics Should Be Good" has a collection of Armed with Canon "meta-messages" here: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/category/meta-messages/


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Appropriately enough, the Star Wars Expanded Universe contains a never-ending series of canonical combat:
    • The early Expanded Universe novels contained a great deal of authorial tussling over who Luke's Designated Love Interest was supposed to be.
    • Jaina Solo was the target of the next bout of Ship-to-Ship Combat, which Dark Horse Comics seem to have "won" by heavily implying that she founded a dynasty with their favoured suitor. Dark Horse had a distinct advantage in this battle: their series was set a century in the storyline's future. While the Del Rey authors were writing about what is happening, Dark Horse got to dictate what will happen. The Del Rey authors seem to have conceded this battle, as they're now writing her as being engaged to the implied future husband of the Dark Horse storyline.
    • Karen Traviss became the EU Queen of this trope with her Mandalorian/Clone novels. Apparently, Mandalorians and Mandalorian-worshipping clones (which, until late, were all the clones) are vastly superior to Jedi. Other authors roll their eyes and mostly ignore this.
    • Curtis Saxton, originally an Ascended Fanboy, wrote a lot of data in several technical manuals for the EU. Unfortunately, he has been accused of trying to rewrite Star Wars to be more in line with the views of the pro-Wars online Vs. debate, and as such gave hugely inflated numbers for pretty much everything. This caused all sorts of problems, particularly with troop numbers. He established that the Separatists have quintillions of droids. Given that the Attack of the Clones movie novelization, a higher canon source over his lesser canon status, pretty much told us that the "million more well on the way" was a million clone warriors, he had given the Separatists more than a trillion droids for every clone the other side had.
      • Some of the work done by Gary Sarli comes across as him trying to fix some of the inconsistencies Saxton introduced, if only by returning details to their original definitions.
    • The whole resurrection of the Emperor in Dark Empire pissed off most of the EU's stable of novel authors. Timothy Zahn refused all attempts to tie in his Thrawn Trilogy with the Dark Empire comic book; then, after it was done, he had Mara Jade make an offhand comment about how she privately believed the reborn Palpatine to just be a fake.
    • Michael Stackpole's I, Jedi was written at the same time as the Hand of Thrawn, with deliberate ShoutOuts between the two, and did a similar Armed with Canon attack on the Jedi Academy trilogy (inserting Corran Horn in it and having him repeatedly point out how Kyp Durron is getting away with mass murder, people are being idiots, and the plot makes no sense). Some consider it a Fix Fic.
      • Then again, considering the Stackpole "fix" involved Corran also being instrumental in all the students' battles to protect Luke from the spirit of Exar Kun up to and including giving them the plan for their final confrontation with Kun, even some of the people who are otherwise fans of Corran Horn have labeled him a Mary Sue in his book. Which still hasn't stopped some of us from wondering where the brix Stackpole's Horn was during Legacy of the Force.
    • An earlier example is Aaron Allston's run on X-Wing, which retconned the cartoonish, stupid Imperial villains of The Courtship of Princess Leia as skillful Intelligence-trained types who project the stereotype as an act to make their enemies underestimate them. And Starfighters Of Adumar has Wedge break up with the Hot Scientist who built the Death Star, who he'd hooked up with in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, and fall for an old flame who'd been in a relationship with him for years in the X Wing Series.
    • There was a major pissing match between Karen Traviss and Troy Denning that started in Legacy of the Force, and followed over into the Republic Commando Series and Fate of the Jedi. Karen Traviss and Troy Denning are about as far apart as people can get in their depictions of Mandalorians and Jedi. When Traviss would throw a Take That at one of Denning's characters, he'd return it. It got so bad that Denning virus bombed Mandalore in one book in order to annihilate anyone with Boba Fett's DNA. That included most of Traviss's characters, who had been established as still alive at the time. And then even this was countered in Traviss's Republic Commando series novel 501st, which dismissed the idea of a virus bomb being so accurate to destroy all of her characters. Traviss has since left writing Star Wars for financial reasons.
  • Various writers in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe had different ideas of how the various lines fitted together. Mostly this didn't affect the stories themselves. Then Lawrence Miles began referring to "bottle universes" in both his Doctorless Bernice Summerfield Virgin New Adventures and his Eighth Doctor Adventures, with the strong implication that the bottle universe in one series was the Alternate Continuity of the other. This didn't stop other writers continuing to assume there was a single continuity. And then some of them went on to reinterprate the "bottle universe" theory as a Klein bottle; the universe in the bottle is the universe holding the bottle.
    • Another well-known Doctor Who Expanded Universe case is the... controversial Eighth Doctor novel War of the Daleks by major Dalek fan John Peel,[3] who had long been angry about the way Davros overshadowed the Daleks in the later TV stories. He used the novel to introduce a wildly complicated Retcon in which literally every major Dalek-related plot development from "Destiny of the Daleks" to "Remembrance of the Daleks" had been deliberately faked by the Daleks[4] as part of a Batman Gambit to make the Doctor and Davros fight each other so that the Daleks could do their thing elsewhere without impediment. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view of this whole mess), Peel's novel was not particularly well-received or well-regarded, thus making it much easier for later writers to quietly ignore or overrule pretty much everything in the story.
    • A minor one from the Big Finish Doctor Who audio line: initially, it seemed their Eighth Doctor line tied into the EDAs, such as a reference to novel companion Sam, then they started suggesting the two were separate continuities, with the Doctor seeing the different ranges as different timelines, and introduced their own companion called Sam. That said, writers have apparently had no problem bringing monsters and characters from the books over to the audios or vice-versa.
  • Forgotten Realms novels. Arc The Time of Trials had a few Take That potshots until things settled down.
    • Troy Denning also was doing some Character Derailment and nonsensical lore-trampling in Forgotten Realms. But then, often he also got it right, and when not, it's still mild compared to the worst moments of Richard Baker - who in turn isn't anywhere close to the rest of 4e Realmslore Hit Squad - which leads us to...
      • War of the Spider Queen - it may have been intended as Rashomon Style, but fails and descends into plain inconsistency - you can find some good moments, only for everything turn toward stupid and break apart in the next book.
      • ...and then starts Lady Penitent, which simply fails to make sense - again and again. The incident with the death of Qilué Veladorn looks especially weird: one cannot read as much as a brief summary on this character without noticing that her origin is somewhat unusual; specifically the circumstances of her birth show what exactly happens in such cases - which is not what supposedly happened upon her death at all (and also happens to make sense). In general, Lisa Smedman repeatedly fails very basic research. Homunculi were explicitly said to be still-linked imprints of their master's own mind, as such they could come to any conflict with it only at the point when the master is dysfunctional enough to have a literal version of Right Hand Versus Left Hand struggle. While the matter of unclaimed dead in Necessary Sacrifices in itself may be mostly explained away, it's an obvious result of both "I am so smart and the setting is filled with idiots born yesterday" approach and failure to ask Greenwood [5] a simple question as any fan could (and some actually did, and received a fairly predictable answer). Oh, and wave to Godwin's Law (Necessary Sacrifices again). And 'wall of force' (Extinction) is, obviously, a solid barrier and thus keeps out bad odors and animated weapons—just like it blocks breath weapons, liquids, exploding fireballs and everything else more "palpable" than rays of light.
    • The "official" Forgotten Realms fan site Candlekeep has many authors answering questions on forum. This repeatedly demonstrates struggles and problems with Continuity in the most detailed of massive shared worlds, and just how tricky upkeeping it can be. You usually can't write about other people's characters except a cameo with permission. Elaine Cunningham, as one of the most cautious Realms authors, frequently emphasizes it, and even she accidentally "shanghaied" Elaith: a short Sourcebook entry turned out to be a character from the campaign of Ed Greenwood, who fortunately had a similar view of the elf and "let her run with" him.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • When Dallas pulled its infamous All Just a Dream plot with Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower, the producers of the show's Spin-Off Knots Landing were hacked off as they had already based a number of plot developments on Bobby's death (Gary mourning his brother's death, Gary's ex-wife Valene naming one of her twins after her deceased brother-in-law). In the end Bobby Ewing remained dead on Knots Landing and the show essentially parted ways with its parent. Think of a Gecko Ending, but in the middle.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Happens occasionally in novels of Dungeons & Dragons settings—both sourcebooks and novels. Large shared words can be hard to keep in line even if trying hard.
    • When Weis & Hickman returned to write the further adventures of the Dragonlance Companions and their progeny, the Heroes and Preludes novels that other authors had written were considered non-canonical and retconned into "legends or folktales" of the Companions. To be fair to Weis & Hickman, while most of the Heroes and Preludes books were decent stand-alone fantasy novels in their own right, almost none of them lined up with established canon.
      • Margaret Weis was so upset with Ravenloft taking her Death Knight Lord Soth that she turned him human and killed him, just so nobody else could have him.
    • It's said that the same thing happened with the first "Castle Greyhawk" module, which was seen as a massive Take That against the then-departing Gary Gygax (who had created Castle Greyhawk and was never able to release it properly while at TSR). It cheesed off enough people that TSR ordered a few years later "Greyhawk Ruins", which was a deadly serious (and just plain deadly) version of the location. Players (and even TSR itself) later declared "Ruins" to be the official version, leaving Castle Greyhawk as a rarely spoken-of joke module.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has it happening all the time - "cheese" is a known part of Games Workshop's business model, but even then there are two authors reviled by the fanbase for stomping the lore in particularly oblivious and annoying ways.
    • Expect with every newest version of the Space Marine codex. One codex, Ultramarines are simply well trained warrior monks, who prize getting their mission done effectively above all else, but aren't really treated as anything better (and indeed, end up getting dicked over on a couple occasions, such as during the Horus Heresy or the Battle for Macragge). New codex, they are the exemplars of all Marines, and Space Marines are divided into 3 types: Ultramarines (and those Chapters descended from them), Marines who aren't Ultramarines but aspire to be just like them, and those who don't like the Ultramarines. The final section are described as being stubborn or mutants who are slowly dying out (despite the fact that other Codices, like the Black Templar book, outright contradict them). Now, guess which Chapter the guy who wrote the Space Marine codex plays. Go on. Guess.


Theatre and Theatresports[edit | hide]

  • The equivalent behaviour between improvisors in theatre or theatre sport is called "blocking". This is not the only use of that word in theatre jargon, though.
    • Michael Scott of The Office gives a great in-universe example of this theatre variant. Inevitably, his characters end up pulling guns and shooting everyone dead before the scene can take off.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • When it comes to World of Warcraft, Blizzard and White Wolf tend to come into these kinds of conflicts from time to time, with Blizzard vying to keep the story faction-neutral, and Whitewolf adopting a noticeably pro-Alliance standpoint. One of the more infamous examples is with Alterac Valley, a battlefield where dwarves and orcs fight for ownership of the titular valley. Blizzard had always advocated that which side truly had the right to the Valley was ambiguous, but then Whitewolf, in one of their sourcebooks, declared that the dwarves were the rightful owners, and that the orcs were the bloodthirsty invaders who deserved to die for daring to intrude on the almighty Alliance's lands. Needless to say, both Blizzard and the fanbase were not amused.
    • They'd also frequently focus on Elves and other pretty races and give little focus or say negative things about the non-human or non-attractive races. An Example of this is the Rpg saying the Blood Elf Farstriders kill all trolls they come across, including their allies, yet they claim they are Neutral Good.
    • There were a number of other issues where whitewolf took a distinctly different stance from blizzard:
      • Arcane magic is always evil and anyone who uses it becomes a dick (Sourcebook: Core Rules and Magic&Mayhem)
      • The setting of warcraft revolves around the conflict between arcane and divine magic (Sourcebook: Magic&Mayhem).
      • All warcraft undead are free-willed (Manual of Monsters)
      • The blood elves are only a small faction of the survivors of Quel'thalas and care about nothing but magic (Sourcebook: Alliance&Horde compendium)
      • Illidan was trying to become the new lich king in order to conquer Azeroth (Sourcebook: Alliance&Horde compendium)
  • Given that many different people have worked on the Fallout series with different degrees of input at different times, it's inevitable that there are many inconsistencies. They include:
    • The color of the Super Mutants. They were originally dull olive, but have also appeared as gray, bright yellow, and even blue.
    • It's unclear what causes people to become Ghouls. The first game says it happened in Bakersfield because of the malfunctioning Vault door flooding the Vault with radiation. 3 seems to imply that just the right amount of radiation over a long period of time will ghoulify a person (the records in the Dunwich building imply several months), though too much exposure will make them go feral. New Vegas has a character that's ghoulified over a period of hours, and a Glowing One (ghoul that's absorbed so much radiation he glows in the dark) whose brains somehow haven't boiled.
      • Well, 3 also has one character that gets turned into a ghoul pretty much instantly. By surviving an atomic explosion. At effectively point-blank range. At that point it's probably best to chock it up to the series' rather oddball sense of humor. (For what it's worth, one of the other proffered explanations is that FEV infection causes someone to become a ghoul. It can essentially be dormant in a human, but then expose them to enough radiation and presto-wrinkle, ghoul. This at least would partially explain this example and some of the others above as well.)
    • The Power Armor pictured on the Fallout 2 box art is stated in-game to be Enclave Advanced Power Armor. The Mk I and Mk II suits have the same appearance in-game. A terminal in Fallout 3 states the Enclave's current armor to be "Advanced Power Armor Mk II," despite looking nothing like the armor in Fallout 2. This could be explained as artistic license, until the Remnant Power Armor appears in New Vegas—coming from the Enclave base found in Fallout 2 and looking exactly as it did in that game.
    • Various weapon-and-ammo-related inconsistencies. The Gatling Laser runs on Microfusion Cells in Fallout 2 and Electron Charge Packs in later games. The Laser and Plasma rifles look nothing alike (though this was somewhat rectified with the Plasma Caster in New Vegas clearly being the Plasma Rifle from Fallout). The Assault Rifle's appearance stays the same, but it is mysteriously chambered for 5mm in early games and 5.56mm in later ones. The most common ammunition in Fallout 2, .223 (a civilian round) is entirely replaced by 5.56mm (a military round), etc. etc.


Web Animation[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In the Whateley Universe, the first several Phase novels were written years (in real time) after the first stories for the other main characters came out: the Canon Cabal finally found someone new to write the stories. The new author retconned a bunch of small moments that she deemed 'out of character' for Phase. So far, these are still standing.
    • Also, in this case, a justified trope. Diane's Phase has a INCREDIBLY different background, a much more focused power. There were also good attempts to keep the retcons small, and still match with continuity. (Which led to fun with Phase forgetting 'his' utility belt.
  • This happened occasionally in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe when one Game Master took over a campaign from another Game Master and immediately instituted story changes that invalidated previous stories. At one point this got so bad that Jack Butler had to stop in, stop multiple campaigns, and reboot the entire universe.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The sequels to An American Tail had this bad. Fievel Goes West, the Lighter and Softer first sequel, which Don Bluth wasn't involved with, seemed to take a few shots at the first movie, such as Tanya getting tomatoes thrown at her for singing "Somewhere Out There", New York City turning out to be a Crapsack World, and the Mouskewitzes living in poverty and having failed to achieve the American Dream, and in general carried itself as if Lighter and Softer equaled better. Then the third movie came along, with yet another different team of writers. Fievel wasn't out west anymore, but in New York, and the writers decided to throw in a Wham! Line about Fievel having a dream where he moved out west, implying that the second movie is now Canon Discontinuity. They then proceeded to erase the Love Interest of Tony Toponi from the first film and pair him with their new character.
  • In The Fairly OddParents Timmy/Tootie shippers have a live action movie which shows them getting together as adults. Whether or not the movie is canon is hotly contested by other FOP fans, who do not like the live action movie for various reasons, including Timmy's status as a 23 year old 5th grader who refuses to grow up. What makes things even more confusing is that the live action movie was created by Butch Hartman and Scott Fellows, both of whom worked on movies where Timmy romanced other girls such as Wishology, yet all other romantic plots are retconned into non-existence by the FOP movie.
  1. from The Devil's Dictionary definition of "serial"
  2. We hope.
  3. not the DJ
  4. including the entire Movellan War and the apparent destruction of Skaro
  5. who doubles as the unofficial continuity editor for his own setting, because the publisher used to have one who couldn't keep up, and then none at all - and it shows