Broad Strokes

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"We can provisionally entertain half a dozen contradictory versions of an event if we feel either that it does not greatly matter, or that there is a category attainable in which all the contradictions are reconciled."

Broad Strokes is a concept regarding Canon where the writers pick and choose what elements of an older story they want to accept into a more recent story. It could be that the overall story is intact but the specific details are changed, or that the story is ignored but the details introduced within are still being worked with. This is most often used when parts of the official canon or even basic Continuity cannot be reconciled as they stand.

Long Runners whose Universe Bible has a progressive, "under-construction" aspect usually apply this. It assumes that viewers understand that there are mistakes in basic Canon, at least early on when the canon was still being defined. The exact degree to which this is used can vary: Sometimes it just ignores single lines that contradict later canon. Other times entire stories are declared Canon Discontinuity but still certain elements influence the new story. This can even happen with a Continuity Reboot, usually because the base story is kept intact.

Usually, this is so people can ignore things. Maybe everything sucked for a while, a Story Arc would have been alright if it wasn't for that one incident, a character gets a bit ridiculous, etc.

At other times it is implied without being explicit. The TV show has a whole different cast from The Movie... yeah, we know they look different but just accept that they are the same people in The Movie. An Expanded Universe story hasn't ever been mentioned but it still could have happened. The adaptation doesn't explicitly contradict the primary Canon. Expect some guessing about how some of these things can possibly be reconciled.

Funny enough, due to the way fandoms think and how similar some works leave things open ended there are times when two shows that were never meant to be connected are glued together by the fans. The most extreme version of this can be assuming a character is a Time Lord.

Compare Fanon, which is about unofficial Canon or Alternate Character Interpretations, Headcanon, and Loose Canon. See also Alternate Continuity, Negative Continuity, Filler Arc, Comic Book Time, Depending on the Writer, Literary Agent Hypothesis and The Stations of the Canon.

Examples of Broad Strokes include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Shin Kyuseishu The Legends of the True Savior, a five-part Film/OVA series based on Fist of the North Star, requires a bit of familiarity with the original Manga in order to understand certain Plot Points. On the other hand, it also has several Plot differences and inconsistencies that prevents them from fitting neatly into the manga's continuity, such as the fact that Bat's adoptive mother never dies. Certain characters from the Manga are omitted (such as Ryuga, Juza, and Juda), but a few new ones are added as well (Reina, Souga).
  • The are several instances in the Dragon Ball Anime where they started adding to the mythology because they Overtook the Manga. Master Roshi once gave an origin story to the Dragonballs that dealt with ancient wars being fought over a single powerful Dragonball and how a mighty hero split it into 7 so that their power wouldn't be easily misused. A few sagas later the Manga introduced the creator of the Dragonballs, Kami, and gave the official origin that had nothing to do with the one Roshi told. Most fans take Roshi's story as being the one Shrouded in Myth, something that was made up over time.
    • The Dragonball Z movies tended to take everything up to a certain point in the timeline (wherever the Anime was at when the movie was released) and made up their own story some time after the current events have concluded. After the fact only a few can fit into the very linear narrative of the Anime without issue, and even those require some wiggle room (Raditz's arrival coincided with Krillin even learning of Gohan, otherwise The Dead Zone fits in nicely right before the series began).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (known in America as simply Yu-Gi-Oh!) basically uses this to keep the manga's first arc Canon. It's perfectly reasonable to accept everything in the first arc except for Death-T, which the first episode of Duel Monsters crams into one episode.
  • Macross is built around this concept. Word of God is that every series and OVA and movie is a dramatization of "real" events that we never see, nor are ever fully explained except in broad details. They're all connected, but they go to some length to never quite clarify which set of events is canon, but there is a clear history, just a very loose one and one that often only explains very loosely what happened (and rarely naming any characters), but all of it has some element of truth to it presumably. It's also possible he just doesn't want something like that getting in the way of a good story.
    • The original Macross was originally believed that the series was Canon and the movie a dramatization, though this seems a bit vague now.
    • Macross Frontier probably takes the cake, and is what really brought this out from Kawamori. With multiple mangas, a series, movies, and novelizations (all of which have very different interpretations of events) this is finally what it came down to. Kind of a Take That at how most media, while based on a real story, often take Artistic License. That is, if you believe him.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • While there are a few people over at DC who insist that Amazons Attack happened most writers choose to be as vague about it as possible. For example if you read Secret Six something happened that caused the US to distrust the Amazons but is never explained.
  • Because of the disjointedness of DC Comics' Countdown to Final Crisis and Final Crisis, this Trope seems to be the case. Many of the tie-ins and leadups to Countdown apparently did occur, as did some of Countdown (such as the Death of the New Gods). Time will only tell what will have happened.
    • The same stance was taken after Crisis on Infinite Earths about most Golden Age characters apart from the big three of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
    • Grant Morrison is making the whole thing rather complicated, stating (for example) that back during the "Dick Grayson as Robin" days, Batman underwent a GCPD-approved experiment in sensory deprivation to see if the police could literally make more Batmen out of cops should the original die. During this point, Batman hallucinated all of the weirder Silver Age stuff and eventually wrote it down in a "Black Casebook" (which is being released soon in real life). So it isn't much as that it really happened, but more that it happened but in Batman's psyche (the aliens, planetary travel, etc. coming from his fears while in the Justice League and his deep fear that Robin would die, which eventually happened with Jason Todd).
      • Some of it was hallucinated, but some of it really happened; the "time travel hypnosis" stories were real, as shown in Batman #700. And the sensory deprivation tank is itself from a weird Silver Age story ("Robin Dies At Dawn!")
    • Bat-Mite is also an example. Much like Superman's Mr. Mxyzptlk, he was a fifth-dimensional Imp who idolized Batman, but was eventually removed from continuity, occasionally getting a Discontinuity Nod. Post-Infinite Crisis, Bat-Mite is back, but is a little complicated. About half of pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Bat-Mite was imagined by Batman (see above) and half is real. In current continuity, Bat-Mite is real following the Emperor Joker storyline and the "Vengeance" follow up in Superman/Batman, but the Bat-Mite in Batman R.I.P. may or may not have been an intentional figment of Batman's imagination ("Imagination is the 5th Dimension").
    • This is also how comic fans reconcile the worst Continuity Snarls, such as Power Girl or Supergirl's origins—you just sort of accept the current character for who they are right now, and don't think too hard about where they came from beyond the basic stuff (Supergirl is Superman's cousin and Power Girl is somehow Kryptonian; that's about all that can be said for absolute certain for either, despite multiple attempts to pin down a permanent backstory for each).
    • Generally speaking, DC took a Broad Strokes approach all through the Silver Age and into the Bronze Age. When the Who's Who character directory was released, it said explicity that if a particular story disagreed with what it said, then it was probably simplest to assume that that story never happened. One could make a very strong case that DC should have kept this policy rather than staging massive, increasingly contrived Cosmic Retcons every few years to try and hammer a single unified continuity into place.
    • One issue of the Doom Patrol series had Negative Man give a rundown of his life so far. At one point he was calling himself "Rebis", but he'd rather not think about why.
  • Marvel's Sliding Time Scale means that stuff like Reed and Ben being World War Two veterans no longer hold true. Even most of the Soviet villains are getting a little long in the tooth.
    • Marvel's Golden Age, despite being fixed in time, is also subject to this. The general rule is that anything explicitly referenced from The Silver Age of Comic Books to present day is canon (or at least the specific parts that were referenced), anything not already referenced is considered non-canon if it is contradicted without a Retcon, and everything else is up in the air until referenced or contradicted.
  • In the runup for Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Harmony Gold decanonized all of the material which had been produced for the franchise outside of the original series. As illustrated in the comic-book prequel Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, their new stance appears to be that the events covered in things such as the Robotech: The Sentinels comic book still occurred in some manner, unless they're contradicted by the newer material.
  • The 2011 version of Ruse is the only Marvel Cross Gen title to be a continuation, rather than reimagining, of the original Crossgen book. Except that while the original Rune is in continuity, all the Crossgen-background stuff isn't, with the book being relocated firmly to Victorian England, rather than a world in the Crossgenverse that happens to resemble Victorian England, and all Sigil-related subplots excised.
  • The Punisher MAX by Garth Ennis contains characters and references from Ennis' earlier work for the character. However, MAX is in its own continuity devoid of superheros while the previous run was firmly set in the 616 universe and featured appearances from Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk and Wolverine. Broad Strokes is the only way to make any real sense of it.
  • The Micronauts still occasionally appear in Marvel Comics as "The Microns". Since a large portion of the characters were based on licensed toys, those characters and past situations involving them are left unstated. The reappearance of the remaining characters is left unexplained since the last episode of Micronauts:The New Voyages gave effective closure for the characters (they died). Readers generally assume that since the Marvel Universe is composed of alternate realities, these charaters are not ressurected versions of the ones in the 1979-1986 comics but alternate versions of the characters who may still pass as the originals on Earth.
  • The general consensus about the Angel comics is that Angel: After the Fall, which Joss Whedon was involved in, is canon, but the subsequent stories he wasn't involved in are Broad Strokes at best. For example, a Spike miniseries told the origins of Spike's spaceship from the canonical Buffy Season Eight comics, but can be disregarded apart from those details. The implication that Spike's soul isn't his own and Drusilla's brief bouts of sanity and soulfulness? Never happened.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Star Wars Canon is built on this, with varying degrees of "Priority." Their Canon is split up into segments with the movies at the top level.
    • Those who neither love nor loathe the Star Wars Prequel trilogy tend to find that this is the best way to regard it. It's been said of the Star Wars Expanded Universe that every bit of media - books, comics, games, the TV shows - is a window into the 'verse, it's just that some windows are clear, some are blurry, and some are downright abstract.
  • The Incredible Hulk 2008 movie was made as a Continuity Reboot in order to overwrite and change the details established by the 2003 Hulk film. Despite that the '08 movie set itself in a time frame of the character's life so that it didn't retell the origin story in the same detail as the '03 movie. Even with so many differences the '08 movie connects itself by setting it 5 years after Banner ran away to South America, which is where The Tag of the '03 movie ended.
  • Casino Royale was a clear reboot of the James Bond film}series, even providing an Origin Story. But it accepted Judi Dench's M and her uneasy relationship with Bond, both features of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies. Broad Strokes of the Pierce Brosnan era's political landscape also remained ("oh, the Americans are going to be unhappy that we beat them to this!").
    • A better example is when Timothy Dalton took over the role of Bond: as he was about twenty years younger than Roger Moore, the events of the previous films (which had all been quite consistent up to then) were acknowledged to be Canon in Broad Strokes but assumed to have occurred more recently than the 1960s.
  • Terminator Salvation takes a Broad Strokes approach to the third movie, seen as Fanon Discontinuity to many, with the only clear reference to it being that Kate ended up as Connor's wife and the Terminator fuel cells.
    • Curiously, fans noticed that there weren't any explicit references to Terminator 2 and the things of Terminator 3 are mostly just vague continuity nods. The impression was that it was meant to be that you could watch the original Terminator and then this movie without any gaps.
    • Although you can look at the movies as various timelines surrounding the events of the Skynet takeover and the life of John Connor. The idea is that every time a person or a Terminator is sent back in time, the resulting timeline is slightly different, and each movie could be a glimpse at one of the timelines. The TV series hints at this idea, with characters from the future who knew each other in the future finding that the memories of one character before they traveled to the past are not consistent with the memories of another character.
  • The CGI TMNT was shown as a tentative continuation of the Ninja Turtle films but adapted elements of many other sources into its narrative, such as Karai's existence with the Foot Clan and April not being a news reporter. They even had a few continuity nods that only serve to make things stressful for fans.
  • According to Rocky Balboa, the sixth Rocky film, Rocky did retire from boxing due to a suspected brain injury, but by modern standards he was completely able to fight; he never asked for a second opinion because Adrien didn't want him to fight anymore. Everything else in Rocky V didn't happen.
  • Doom had the lone space Marine, infested Mars facility, horrible monsters around every corner and even a little explanation for how he can survive maulings. However, what it did not have was the core tenet of the Doom games, namely demons from hell.
    • The Doom novels also failed to have demons from hell, a very puzzling concept.
  • Prince of Persia the Sands of Time is not a word by word adaptation of the games, but rather taking the most important elements and telling another story.
  • The Evil of Frankenstein follows the general events of The Curse of Frankenstein and The Revenge of Frankenstein (Frankenstein has created monsters and has been outcast from society for it) but changes several details like the method he used to make them and how the first monster died.
  • The original Highlander ended in a way that didn't really allow for sequels. "There can be only one," said the Tagline, and the movie ends with only one Immortal. Highlander II the Quickening gets around this by bringing in other Immortals from another planet, and Highlander III the Sorcerer (which completely ignores Highlander II) uses the Sealed Evil in a Can Trope. The rest of the films (which follow the TV series) accept the original Film in Broad Strokes except for its ending.
    • Highlander: The Final Dimension (which had a working title of Highlander III the Sorcerer, for a while) actually had the number removed from the title so that it wouldn't call to mind Highlander II. It's basically a direct sequel from the first movie.
  • A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2 Freddys Revenge is considered by some the worst of the series, and its events are ignored in productions that followed - but elements introduced in that, such as Freddy retaining possession as a power and the Springwood Slasher nickname, appeared in the rest of the franchise, and A Nighmare On Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors even follows the timeline set by it (Freddys Revenge The Final Nightmare is five years after the original, Dream Warriors is six). Scenes from it are also used in the montages featured in Freddy's Dead and Freddy vs. Jason.
    • Dream Warriors and the subsequent sequels were perhaps written with the trope deliberately in mind. They don't really mention anything that happened in Freddy's Revenge (although the fact of Nancy being committed does figure into the proceedings in Dream Warriors) and yet they don't really contradict any of it either, and when in Freddy's Dead Freddy says, "First they tried burning me...then they tried burying me...They even tried holy water!" this exact wording allows for "burning" part to refer either to Freddy's Revenge or to Nancy trying to burn him in the first film, or to his original death by burning when he was still human.
  • The Masters of the Universe film deals with Skeletor and his evil forces "finally" capturing Castle Grayskull (along with the Sorceress). For this reason, it can be said to be in the continuity established by the Filmation's animated series (which had just recently ended at the time), but with this trope in effect (after all, the movie doesn't have Prince Adam...).


Literature[edit | hide]

  • A couple of writers in the Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows collection slipped in elements of their earlier Mirror Universe work, despite contradictions. While differences in the Voyager characters mean nothing remotely resembling Dark Passions can have happened in the new shared Mirror Universe, regardless of Susan Wright referring to B'Elanna as having been Intendant of Earth at one point, the presence of Gerda Idun Asmund on a rebellion ship with Gilaad Ben Zoma in Michael Jan Friedman's story makes it fairly easy to slot in the Star Trek: Stargazer novel Three, with the only difference being that the rebel ship isn't called Stargazer (since that's the name of Picard's ship).
    • Since the continuity of Trek novels tightened up (around the year 2001-onward), Broad Strokes has been used quite a bit to keep older works at least partially a part of that continuity. Even within the new shared continuity, not every little detail adds up, but on the whole it works as one big, shared reality.
  • The novels of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child largely take place in the same continuity; however, the authors have occasionally ignored minor details of earlier books for the sake of the story. The recurring character Vincent D'Agosta described a trip to Italy with his son in Reliquary; in the later book Brimstone, he traveled to Italy for the first time. Reliquary itself moved the New York Museum of Natural History from its address in Relic to right across from Central Park to facilitate an important revelation.
  • Arthur C. Clarke changed several details between each installment of his 2001 tetrology, including the fate of Dr. Heywood Floyd and the location of the Monolith. His explanation was that each took place in a slightly different universe from the preceeding book.
  • Steven Brust's Phoenix Guard books are presented as a series of historical fiction novels written by a character in Brust's Dragaera universe. The events described in the books are fictionalized accounts of events that did happen in Dragaera. In the Vlad Taltos novels, the eponymous hero sometimes learns things that contradict things that are described in the Phoenix Guard books.
  • The Discworld novels do this quite a bit. A good example is Sir Terry Pratchett's treatment of elves and gnomes. In the first book, The Colour of Magic, there's a brief mention of elves as just another fantasy race on the disc. Rincewind and Twoflower see one at a tavern with no comment. But in Lords and Ladies, elves are a dangerous and cruel race, so bad that they were sealed away in a parallel dimension and there is a real threat of them breaking back into the world. In The Wee Free Men, Tiffany Aching had to rescue a Duke's son when he was kidnapped by the elves. Similarly, gnomes first were mentioned as short people in pointy hats, and latter became very short, very violent Scotsmen known as the Nac Mac Feegle.
    • The continuity geek explanation is that "elves" in the early books are Half Human Hybrids ("a race o' skinny types with pointy ears and a tendency to giggle and burn easily in sunshine. There's no harm in them", according to Granny), and that gnomes and Nac Mac Feegle are related but different (as shown in I Shall Wear Midnight).
    • The early books also used "goblin" as another gnome subrace, to the point that the Companion says "a gnome is a goblin underground, a goblin is a gnome that's come up for air, a pictsie is a gome fighting". The introduction of an unrelated race of goblins in Unseen Academicals, and elucidated upon in Snuff would suggest that whenever you see the word "goblin" in the early books, you should pretend it says "gnome".


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Doctor Who fans accept and respect Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor but don't like some of the liberties taken with the mythology, such as the stuff about him being half human and some other things from the movie he appeared in. Fortunately, there's a whole series of Eighth Doctor novels and some audio works, and these are generally considered to have some canonical weight. As for how the new series treats it, the McGann Eighth Doctor has been shown along with the other past ones, and Word of God is that something did happen in San Francisco in 1999 involving the Doctor and the Master - and that he said he was half-human, but that doesn't necessarily make it true. All onscreen evidence in the new series points to the Doctor being fully Time Lord. The comic "The Forgotten" has the Eighth Doctor say that he fooled the Master into thinking he was half-human with a half-broken Chameleon Arch, a few words, and a wide-eyed expression. A Chameleon Arch is a piece of Applied Phlebotinum the Tenth Doctor has used to become human temporarily onscreen.
    • Keep in mind Rule Number One. The Doctor lies.
    • Doctor Who's supposed "continuity" has always been like this, the only reason why a show that has been around for almost 50 years hasn't gotten tangled into a Continuity Snarl. Genesis of the Daleks contradicted The Daleks somewhat, while there were two different versions of Atlantis's destruction. Also, the fact that the show is about time travel means that pretty much anything can be changed. In modern-day Who, The Time War provides a built-in explanation for any time the new series contradicts the old one (eg the planet Earth being destroyed in two contradictory ways).
  • The Star Trek franchise has been subject to this many times.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series had some inconsistent terminology especially early on. The Enterprise is not a space ship, it's a starship. They use phasers, not lasers (even TheNextGeneration confirmed phasers were around before that time) and Kirk has traveled outside the galaxy and to the center of the galaxy with relative ease. An early episode suggests that the 18th century was 900 years before the series time. Every later work says that TOS takes place was during the 23rd century.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise was a Prequel where they were very literally making up elements of what happened before the original series. Time Travel was introduced as a sort of Hand Wave that these events did not come about in that exact way originally. And there is also the changing dynamics of visual designs to consider.
    • The new Star Trek movie branches to a different timeline, convenient for writers and viewers alike. Even in regards to such a change there is still a certain consideration that the pre-time change Federation ship (the USS Kelvin) looks more advanced than the Original Series Enterprise. It is a similar dilemma that Star Trek: Enterprise ran into with Zeerust as a Cosmetically Advanced Prequel.
    • Star Trek: The Animated Series was decanonized by Gene Roddenberry's office back in the 1980s, but since then, some Expanded Universe writers and the Enterprise team have allowed elements from the series to slip in to their works; this series is also the origin of Kirk's recognized middle name (Tiberius). The "holodeck", which is a Canon piece of technology, first appeared in TAS (although it was never called the "holodeck" specifically). It then went on to make its live-action debut in The Next Generation. Naturally, some people thought TNG was the first to introduce it.
      • Information about Spock's childhood from an episode of TAS was also referenced in a TNG episode, making at least one TAS episode definitively restored to canon. Whether that implies anything about the rest of the series is anyone's guess.
    • The proposed 1970s series Star Trek: Phase II was eventually reworked into becoming Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The plot of TMP was an expansion of the proposed pilot for Phase II, and the ending even has the crew set off on their next voyage. A dozen scripts were written for Phase II before the movie was greenlighted (one script being recycled for the second season of TNG), but none are considered actual canon since the series never came to light. Still, the time frame of Phase II and the adventures of the Enterprise are an established part of Trek canon, which fills in the gap between TMP and Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series, accepts the Broad Strokes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie. Specifically, it takes the original screenplay by Joss Whedon as correct, while ignoring all the (many) differences that accumulated through Executive Meddling. (For instance, an early episode of the series refers to Buffy burning down her old school's gym to kill the vampires inside, which happened in Whedon's version of the story but not in the finished film.) A comic was eventually produced called "The Origin", which tells the movie's story in the series' canon.
  • Stargate SG-1 did this with the original Stargate movie, mostly the primary concept of the Stargate, they encountered the people on the planet Abydos, they killed Ra with a nuke and Daniel stayed behind with his new wife before the series began. What they changed was the specifics of Stargate travel (the stargate doesn't reach across the universe, just the Milky Way galaxy), the nature of the aliens (parasitic snakes instead of The Greys wearing human suits) and the addition of a specific species name (Goa'uld). With many things, if it wasn't specified in the movie they were at liberty to make up their own canon.
  • This is J. Michael Straczynski's view of the canonicity of the first series of Babylon 5 novels, apart from To Dream in the City of Sorrows, which is supposedly 100% canonical.
    • Note that the three trilogies published after that first series (Psi Corps, Legions of Fire, and The Passing of the Techno-mages) are certified canon. However, Legions of Fire places the launching events of Crusade a year later than the television indicates them to be.
    • The novel "The Shadow Within" is both canon and non-canon. The main story, about Anna Sheridan, is canon. The other story, about John Sheridan, is non-canon. JMS called the book "90% canonical".
  • Highlander the Series generally accepted the ideas from the movie—including the existence of Connor MacLeod (who appeared in the first episode), the events in the first movie, and the general nature of Immortals—but dropped elements that wouldn't work in a TV show, such as the Gathering already having happened and there being no more Immortals.
  • When Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon was told they needed an extra episode for the first season he quickly created one set ten years in the future, using flashbacks (via memories saved on computer widgets) to show how the events of the two times connected. He later commented at a convention that, in order to give the writers some flexibility, some of those memories might be fake or imperfect, and indeed, the events of the second season show that at least some were unlikely or impossible, though at least one (Boyd and Claire's scene) was perfectly correct.
  • The Lost expanded universe, specifically 2006's The Lost Experience online viral marketing game and 2008's Find 815, are examples of this trope. Word of God says that basic mysteries answered by TLE, such as the number sequence 4 8 15 16 23 42's significance to DHARMA, and Find 815's explanation of how the fake flight 815 wreckage was discovered, are accurate unless otherwise contradicted by the show. However, the characters and plot of both games are noncanon.
  • On The Drew Carey Show, the main events of the spot-the-mistakes episodes seem to be canon, though presumably Drew turning into Gary Coleman was not.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The storyline of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is very similar to the backstory of A Link to the Past (And the GBA rerelease of A Link to the Past changed "Wise Men" to "Sages", further supporting this), the Adult Link ending in particular. However, it has since been established that the adult ending leads into Wind Waker. The official timeline in the 2011 artbook Hyrule Historia reveals that the imprisoning actually continues a version of the "adult timeline" where Ganondorf defeats Link (as opposed to Link defeating Ganon) and unites the Triforce (as with the child timeline, the full extent of these events is not depicted in the game), leading into A Link to the Past.
  • The Force Unleashed has been praised for its involving storyline, but some people are uncertain about Galen being a God Mode Sue able to pull down a Star Destroyer from orbit and almost defeat both Darth Vader and Palpatine in a one-on-one fight. Broad Strokes can be used to accept the storyline but consider the more outrageous things Refuge in Audacity or Rule of Cool.
    • While we're at it, this is the official approach to continuity in both Knights of the Old Republic games—reference books paint them almost entirely in Broad Strokes, being vague about almost everything related to player choice except the main characters' genders, which are selectable in the games but set in stone in Canon.
    • If you think about it, every Video Game accepted into some Canon outside itself needs to be considered in somewhat Broad Strokes, because the gameplay is never entirely realistic. A Star Wars example would be Jaden Korr running around carrying a blaster pistol, a blaster rifle, a Wookiee bowcaster, a belt of thermal detonators, another of mines, a disruptor rifle, a heavy repeater rifle, a DEMP gun, a flechette weapon, a concussion rifle AND a missile launcher... while doing most of his fighting with fast and acrobatic lightsaber moves. Surely no-one concerned with the Star Wars Canon is concerned with explaining how he did that.
    • With reference to pulling down the Star Destroyer, I think Broad Strokes had to be applied to the entire Canon (possibly even the movies) on this factor to explain the discrepancies in ability among various Jedi and Sith, especially when you consider that Vader and Luke were supposed to be two of the most powerful Jedi in history but aside from Force Lightning and rather weak telekinesis they are Overshadowed by Awesome when Exar Kun could fly and Naga Sadow could blow up stars.
    • Yanking a Star Destroyer out of orbit is also, while cool, not necessary that incredible a feat. In an Expanded Universe novel that was written 13 years earlier, less than a dozen Jedi combine their powers to push 17 Star Destroyers all the way out of the star system they were in. One of the Jedi dies from the exertion, but the others are unharmed. And in Galen's case, he had an assist from gravity. The main difficulty he faced was making the Star Destroyer crash in the spot he wanted it to.
  • Bungie Studios of Halo fame has said outright that any new information overrides previously given information. This happened as early as Halo 2, where the Covenant fleet that attacked Earth was stated to be 700+ ships and smaller than the fleet that attacked Reach... The Fall of Reach (the first and most influential Halo EU work) said it was invaded by about 300 Covenant ships.
  • The stuff that happens in World of Warcraft tends to be applied to the background this way ("Some stuff is more canon than other stuff..."). For example, in the background Illidan got defeated by the forces of the Sha'tar and their allies (ie. the players), not by 25 people from Epic Raid Guild 2000.
    • In general, Lore is the preferred term to "canon" among more mellow WoW fans. Basically, here's simply no way to make the early concepts fit neatly with the later ones. So it's enough to say that, like real history, it's interpreted with different points of view by different sides and cultures.
    • The very point of the novels Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal was to rewrite the stories of the Broad Strokes Warcraft II and its expansion in a way that would fit with later games. The trend with ascribing player achievements to lore characters is there, though: Darion Mograine basically replaced the PC in the Ashbringer comic (along with some Argent Dawn red shirts for the attack on Naxxramas), and Varian Wrynn exposed and killed Onyxia in lore.
  • In the first Resident Evil , the player can choose from two main characters, Chris or Jill. Each character has their own partner who will help them out in escaping from the mansion (Barry assists Jill, while Rebecca helps Chris). Although the player runs into the other main character during the course of their mission, neither will encounter the other character's partner. In other words, Chris and Jill can escape from the mansion with Barry or Rebecca, but not with both, implying that one of them doesn't survive. However, the sequels establishes that all four of them escaped from the mansion, which is impossible to achieve in the game.
    • Resident Evil 2 is structured in such a way that it had to be resolved in a similar fashion; to "beat" the game you have to play as both characters, and the two playthroughs will contradict each other no matter what. And you can choose the order of the playthroughs, and the order determines the plot (so you can have Claire A + Leon B, or Leon A + Claire B, and both are inconsistent). The "official" story is a mix of elements from all four scenarios.
      • Then along comes Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles where Claire and Leon were together the entire time in the Raccoon City levels. It also shows Sherry's mother is bit more sympathetic than her original version.
  • Somewhat similar to the RE example is Sonic Adventure 2. The game has one story, which you can play from the good side or dark side. Whichever side you're on, that team has to succeed in everything they do. So the outcome of a fight between, say, Sonic and Shadow, differs depending on whose side you're on.
    • Although, besides the fights between good and dark characters, the story of both sides happens in parallel ways and fits perfectly, which is why both can lead to a "Final Story" without much problem.
      • And even then, most of them make sense on both sides. Tails and Eggman's first fight ends with Eggman retreating. Even on the evil campaign, it's implied Eggman had to retreat because of him (due to a little trouble). Sonic and Shadow never finish their first fight (they are interrupted by Eggman saying the island's gonna explode), and Knuckles and Rouge's fight ends with Knuckles saving Rouge from lava, no matter whose story you play. It's the last two that change the story (though even in the second battle between Tails and Eggman on the hero's side, Eggman successfully gets away with the Chaos Emerald that Tails had, and we never see what happens with Sonic and Shadow's final fight other than Sonic placing the fake emerald into the core, which may or may not have happened).
  • While MSX games in the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, did happen, the characters' recollections of the events in Metal Gear Solid and its sequels suggest that it happened rather differently to how it was actually presented - most notably, Big Boss' defeat. Metal Gear 2 has Big Boss's burning body stagger around the room screaming "It's not over yet!"; but in Metal Gear Solid, Snake says that Big Boss told Snake that he was his estranged father, and Snake was forced to deliver the killing blow knowing that.
    • Many plot details from the original MSX games have been retconned since the original MGS, most notably Big Boss' bio from the manual of the Metal Gear 2, which said that Big Boss lost his eye during the 1980s, was contradicted when he loses it in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is set in 1964.
  • The second game of the Elder Scrolls series, Daggerfall, had many possible contradictory endings. In later games, a supernatural event known as "the Warp in the West" had caused all of them to be true in some way.
    • The Elder Scrolls being the Elder Scrolls, one of the endings had been retroactively made less canon after the Miracle of Peace - in other words, in-universe if we looked at it during the Warp in the West, the King of Worms did ascend and become a God, but looking back at it he did not, exactly.
  • Nasuverse productions are explicitly set in a multiverse, and despite most of their games having many mutually exclusive routes, actual sequels to the games usually mix and match details from each of these routes, so none of the routes are actually in-continuity. The fun part is that due to the multiverse nature, multiple continuities can exist side by side with actual potential for crossovers; the best way to do so being to call in Zelretch.
  • The Mega Man X series was supposed to end with the fifth installment, and would lead up to the Mega Man Zero series. However, a sixth game was made without the (initial) approval of the series' creator, creating a lot of problems in the two series' continuity. In order not to confuse the fans, Inafune rewrote the beginning of Zero to make the two series more compatible with each other: At the beginning, instead of the title character being resurrected (the original ending of X5 was his Plotline Death), he was found sealed in an underground laboratory. The (many) reasons for his sealing gave new and interesting plot concepts that would be explored in the series. X6 had the aforementioned character's (secret, and supported as canon by Inafune) ending support this.
  • Fable II accepts the story of Fable I in Broad Strokes, though as it is set several hundred years later most of the details are obfuscated by the ravages of time and accounts are unclear (though, to be fair, Jack dies both ways). On the other hand Therisa is still alive, which contradicts the evil ending of the original game... but this is a High Fantasy game, so resurrection isn't out of the question.
  • The Castlevania series has many examples, notably in linking the stories of earlier games to later events in the series.
    • In Castlevania III, there were three companions Trevor could meet during the game. Grant Dinesti, Alucard, and Sypha. You could only have one companion with you at a time, and could only rescue two at most, due to multiple paths. Symphony of the Night implies that Trevor fought Dracula together with all three.
    • Additionally, the English manual for Castlevania III featured a few plot changes from the Japanese manual that made it inconsistent with later games. For one thing, it claims that the Belmont family acquired their whip and other weapons from a character called the Poltergeist King, even though the Japanese manual never mentions such a character. While both manuals establish the game to be a prequel to the first Castlevania, the Japanese version never actually specifies how many years it is set before the first game (other than it is set in the 15th century), whereas the English manual claims that it is set 100 years before (Symphony of the Night establishes 200 years).
    • Much like the plot changes in Castlevania III, the Japanese version of Castlevania: The Adventure was established to be a prequel to the first Castlevania (in fact, Christopher was actually mentioned in the Japanese manual of the first game, where he was already established to be the last Belmont who fought Dracula prior to Simon), but the U.S. version seems to imply that the game is set after Simon's Quest.
    • Similarly, you could only play as John Morris or Eric Lecarde in Castlevania Bloodlines. Portrait of Ruin assume that the two fought together.
    • Simon Belmont's |original tale has been retold numerous times. Thankfully, almost all accounts are generic enough that it's easy to apply the broad stroke that Simon fought through Dracula's Castle and killed Dracula alone.
  • Basically any fighting game series can be subject to this, especially ones where the character endings are contradictory to each other. For example, in the Street Fighter series, it doesn't really matter how Charlie actually died prior to the events of Street Fighter II or whether he is actually dead or just hiding; the fact of the matter is that Charlie was supposedly killed before the events of II, leading to Guile's pursue of vengeance on M. Bison. Which works as well, considering the number of times Charlie is killed off in the Street Fighter Alpha series, only to be brought back by the next game.
  • In the Ultima series, the events of Ultima 1-3 three happened; "the Stranger/Avatar was in a band of heroes that defeated Mondain, Minax, and Exodus; but any element past that (Like the rocket ships and laser blasters) is ignored. Possibly justified due to all the Time Travel.
    • Deus Ex Invisible War does this in regards to the ending(s) of the first game. There were three possible endings to the game, and rather than pick one as canon, they instead hint throughout the game that all three occurred, to one degree or another.
  • Defense of the Ancients All Stars takes some elements from Warcraft 3, but otherwise does not tightly adhere to it.
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia takes a bunch of details from Fate/stay night, chucks them all in together and weeds out a few events that cannot possibly occur in the same story then calls it good.
  • Black Isle's version of Fallout 3, codenamed Fallout: Van Buren, was sadly canceled. Nevertheless, many events, characters, and plot points set to be in it were implicitly established as canon in Fallout: New Vegas.
    • This is also the case of Fallout Tactics, which is only canon insofar as a Brotherhood paladin in Bethesda's Fallout 3 mentions that a Brotherhood chapter in Chicago went rogue, adding "you don't want to know", and Word of God saying that the 'higher-order events' in Tactics occured. Part of the problem seems to be the abundance of real-world weapons in the game, when the main series avoided them entirely, save for occasional mention of companies like SIG Sauer.
  • This is pretty much how continuity works at best in the Command And Conquer Red Alert Series. Which is also a source of many long-lasting flamewars about the games.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Dumbing of Age, a Continuity Reboot of the whole Walkyverse, it's generally assumed that characters have already had arcs similar to what they did through the Walkyverse - e.g. Ethan came out during Shortpacked!, Ethan of Dumbing of Age came out in high school. This is so readers who already know the characters don't have to go through the same story again.
  • This is the strategy the creators of Drowtales have taken to some of the older, pre-Retcon information, specifically the contents of some sidestories. As far as anyone can tell the sidestories "Spiderborn" and "Rebirth" still happened and are still the canonical backstories of two characters, but some oudated worldsetting info (for instance, references to "Yatherines" aka drow priestesses) is no longer canon.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Transformers: Beast Wars took this approach to G1 continuity: it took elements of the cartoon and comic continuities as canon for its backstory. The events are not referenced in detail; that allowed a sense of history while it continued with its own story. Then along came Beast Machines, which at its core plot thread disagreed with both comic AND cartoon G1 continuities in irreconcilable ways.
    • This became somewhat muddled with Transformers Cybertron originally being conceived and intended as a continuation of Transformers Armada and Transformers Energon, but not produced as such. Most fans tend to dismiss it with a Hand Wave involving the Unicron Singularity. Others ignore the Hand Wave and treat it as a separate show. Nonetheless, Takara later adopted the Hand Wave officially, recognizing the same Unicron Singularity and definitively placing the Japanese version, Galaxy Force back as a sequel to Micron Legend and Superlink, Armada and Energon's Japanese counterparts (respectively) as was originally conceived.
    • Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers Prime were both made under the idea of a single, ultimate universe for the Transformers franchise to work off the next 5 years. They were not meant to be a hard-and-fast canon working together but are taking specific sections of the classic Transformers lore (the war on Cybertron and the arrival on Earth, respectively) while going off a core backstory. There is a good deal of similar elements that connects them together but the fact remains that they were developed by two completely different production teams who gave the mythos their own flavor. Character designs, characterizations and the exact events that unfold (given that WFC should be in the distant past of Prime) vary to some degree.
      • In the first season finale of Transformers Prime they give some crucial backstory elements regarding Megatron and Optimus' history, how Megatron ended up turning Cybertron into a dead world and how Optimus received the Matrix of Leadership. Exactly as this trope works, there are timeline issues and details that are different but there was no mistaking the major events that were exactly the same as WFC.
  • Both Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: The Clone Wars have elements that don't align with each other or the live-action movies. Since George Lucas is not much more than a consultant on these projects, most of the inconsistencies can be shuffled aside with this Trope.
    • For that matter, the second half of Star Wars: Clone Wars contradicts the novel Labyrinth Of Evil, which is also officially Canon.
    • Anakin was originally implied to have reached Knighthood later in the Clone Wars, with Clone Wars not specifying the timeline. The Clone Wars seems to invert that, with Anakin becoming a Jedi Knight fairly early on.
  • Generally, the DCAU is this in relation to the comics universe, and vice versa. Basically unless otherwise noted a character's origin is meant to be the same as the comics.
    • When Justice League first started the creators said to not take everything of the past three shows (Batman the Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond) as cemented canon, because they didn't want to worry about detailed continuity that fans would complain about. But by the second season they turned back on that stance and told some stories that continued past events, and by Unlimited they had a couple of Batman Beyond appearances.
      • Batman the Animated Series is split into two sections, marked by a massive storytelling difference and design change. While the first section is the most loved, continuity for later shows streams mostly from the second section. A case in point, Zatanna showed up as a past love interest for Bruce and she was just a normal stage magician whose father taught Bruce how to be an Escape Artist. She later shows up in Justice League with actual magical powers.
      • And there is also regarding little things like changing character designs. Superman's design in the first season was retooled to make him bulkier than the other (already huge) heroes and put in more lines on his face (which was apparently the idea, that Superman would look older as the series would take place a few years after BTAS/STAS). The design was not well received and changed back to the original design with no explicit reference to any change being made. Batman Beyond showed the grey and black suit Batman wore for The New Batman Adventures, where in Justice League it was shown that he later preferred a grey and charcoal purple design with longer ears.
    • Static Shock was originally in a universe with Superman as a fictional character (Making reference to his alter-ego of Clark Kent). He later had several (non universe-jumping) DCAU crossovers and eventually an appearance in Justice League.
      • Static had another example when he first meets Batman and wonders where Robin is. Batman answers with the Teen Titans.
  • The BattleTech animated series has three of its main characters (and the child of a fourth) among the notable people of the game's universe, and an entire sourcebook basically showing how the story fits within canon, even though the series itself is not.
  • The Kim Possible movie So The Drama rolls back a lot of the series' Continuity Creep to the base of Kim being a Teen Superspy but prone to peer pressure, Ron being her loyal friend and Sidekick but a loser to the rest of Middleton, and Bonnie losing her sympathetic Character Development from season three to return to being Kim's bitchy school rival. This is at least partly because it's based on the script for an aborted live action adaptation.
  • Total Drama World Tour seems to ignore a lot of events in the unpopular previous season, including Leshawna's Odd Friendship with Heather, Beth's relationship with Brady and Courtney having alienated everyone with her Jerk Sue behavior. Furthermore they never even mentioned who won TDA, probably because the voting caused the results to split between different countries. The only event that seems to be firmly established is that Gwen and Trent broke up and that she and Duncan became friendly with each other.


Mistaken for Broad Strokes[edit | hide]

  • Teen Titans aired alongside Justice League and was just similar enough in animation style and didn't share any characters that a lot of people believed they were meant to be in the same continuity. It was never the intention, and despite similarities in art style Titans uses cartoony visuals and Face Faults, being far more comical at its core. It really didn't help in the Static Shock crossover with Batman the Animated Series that Batman made reference to Robin being with the Titans (meant to be a Shout-Out to the show more than anything else). However, this was in reference to the Tim Drake Robin. Though his civilian identity was never revealed in-show, most evidence seems to point to Dick Grayson being the Robin in Teen Titans, which was later confirmed in the comic spinoff of the show based on a comic.
    • It also didn't help when JLU had a Mythology Gag guest spot by an older version of Mike Erwin's Speedy, and then Titans had a similar guest by Michael Rosenbaum's (Kid) Flash. At that point it became obvious that Titans was set in the past of The DCAU. But still wrong.
  • Spider-Man Unlimited premiered a few months after the end of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, with a similar art style and Unlimited began In Medias Res, which fans took as implying the events of STAS is in the past. That was never the intention and there are no specific story pieces that connect the two beyond Spider-Man himself. Even still, the first episode introduced elements that would be familiar to fans of the previous show but still irreconcilable from those events, such as Venom and Carnage being on Earth and working together.
    • Actually, SMU began In Medias Res with STAS theme song playing in this scene, so it was implied that SMU is continuation of STAS.