Canon Discontinuity

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Most sections have already been moved to subpages. The video games need to follow suit after the Canon Discontinuity examples in Discontinuity/Video Games have been moved here.

Stradleyism: The act of dismissing an element of Canon altogether on grounds of it being "stupid", without taking the effort to do something interesting with it.
—Thefourdotelipsis, Wookieepedia, on Dark Horse Comics writer Randy Stradley

As the Fanon Discontinuity trope shows, there are certain elements in Canon works that fans don't want to remember, because they're viewed as stupid, unpopular, or just plain don't make sense within that universe. If their complaints are loud enough, and if the writers agree, this can lead to the offending element being written out of Canon altogether.

One of the meta-causes of Alternate Universe.

Sometimes the discontinuity is more subtle, such as a single line of dialogue or the specifics of an event. Besides those things, everything else is in Canon. When that happens they are treating it in Broad Strokes. Note that this trope has to do with the creators putting something out of continuity. For when fans do it, see Fanon Discontinuity.

See also Continuity Reboot, Alternative Continuity, Broad Strokes, Disowned Adaptation. Old Shame works usually get this treatment. The opposite of Ret Canon and its descendant tropes. See Cutting Off the Branches for when all but one ending of a game with Multiple Endings become Discontinuity.

If the writers lampshade a Discontinuity, either canonical or just something the fans want to be discontinued, then that's Discontinuity Nod.

Examples of Canon Discontinuity are listed on these subpages:

Examples of Canon Discontinuity include:

Video Games[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Epic Mickey deliberately ignores the fact that Oswald the Lucky Rabbit still appeared in cartoons for many years after Disney lost him. This may be justified by that the Disney and Lantz Oswald are treated as two separate characters, but there isn't even an implication given that Ozzie starred in more shorts after Walt lost him.
  • Satoru Iwata declared that the true "current" state of the Star FOX series is either after Star Fox Assault or somewhere before Star Fox Command. More than likely to be the former than the latter, if current information is any credible, as whilst the appearances of the cast in Super Smash Bros Brawl do make some slight reference of certain of Command's plotlines, they otherwise seem to resemble and behave like their appearances in Assault far more. Specifically, Fox McCloud and Krystal's relationship problems from Command are alluded to in their profiles, but otherwise they're still together and Krystal is still a member of Star Fox (as opposed to joining Star Wolf), Panther Caruso does not speak in third person and the ships are all pre-Command.
  • Epic has admitted that Unreal Tournament 2003 is not a complete game, first by refining the original game into Unreal Tournament 2004 with many of the previously missing features and offering a rebate to 2003 owners who bought 2004, then by numbering the sequels Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament III. Strangely enough, the backstory of 2004 doesn't override that of 2003, claiming that every event of 2003 happened. (Such as Malcolm being defeated by Gorge) The same can't be said for the original Unreal Championship.
  • After Singletrac died, 989 Studios took over the Twisted Metal series and produced the third and fourth games. Once Incognito Entertainment (a studio consisting largely of Singletrac employees) regained the rights to the series, they made Twisted Metal Black, which was much Darker and Edgier than the original two games and set in its own continuity. The only PSP entry in the franchise so far, Head-On, is set after the second game and ignores the 989 entries. The post-989 entries were much better received, anyway. This to the point that "Head-On" is considered by fans to be the "true" Twisted Metal 3.
  • All the Castlevania games (barring the parody game Kid Dracula) were part of the canon in some form or another until Koji Igarashi (the director of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) took over the series as producer during the development of Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, removing the two Nintendo 64 installments, Legends, and Circle of the Moon from the official timeline. Igarashi clarified that the N64 games and Circle of the Moon were still canonical, but were demoted to "side-story" status. Castlevania Legends on the other hand, was officially retconned out of the series' continuity and is now regarded as an alternate universe story. This was likely due to the implication at the end that Alucard fathered Sonia Belmont's child, thereby making all future Belmonts into descendants of Dracula. Although, if that is the case, it makes it a very self-defeating retcon—when Alucard was only implied to be the child's father, the execs had some wiggle room, whereas as striking it out of canon so vehemently does a very good job of confirming fan's suspicions that Alucard is the child's father—as otherwise, why even bother with it?
  • Capcom has all but said that Devil May Cry 2 doesn't exist—for instance, Dante is a playable character in Viewtiful Joe for comedic reasons, and he outright says "I don't remember that" when Alastor references the events of Devil May Cry 2.
    • To further illustrate how much Capcom denies DMC2, the game after it, DMC3, is a prequel to the series - About as far from the events of the second game that one could get from without acknowledging it.
      • And DMC4 is set years after DMC1, yet still before anything to do with DMC2. They're really going out of their way to avoid that one.
  • This happened to both a good chunk of Fallout 2 and almost all of Fallout Tactics. The former for the reasons stated below, the latter because many of the elements contradict the original game. On the other hand, Bethesda seems to have the position that it's valid if it doesn't contradict anything, in relation to 2, and events are canon, details are not, regarding Tactics. Specifically, when asked about Super Mutants, a Brotherhood Scribe lists fighting them on the West Coast and then near Chicago.
  • On the subject of Bethesda, suddenly realizing that multiple endings of the second game in The Elder Scrolls series would have been a great idea for the end of a series, they averted this trope fully by declaring all SIX endings canon. It's now listed in Canon as the Warp in the West, transforming 44 quarreling city-states into five loyal countries literally overnight.
  • In the late 90's, Konami farmed out the development of two Contra sequels to Hungarian developer Appaloosa (best known for the Ecco the Dolphin series). Contra: Legacy of War for the PS1 and Saturn in 1996, and C: The Contra Adventure for the PS1 in 1998. Neither game were that well-received by fans and critics alike. In fact, Konami even canceled plans to release a Japanese version of Legacy of War. In 2002, Konami commissioned Nobuya Nakazato (director of Contra III and Hard Corps) to develop the PS2 sequel, Contra: Shattered Soldier. The unlockable timeline of the game mentions all of the past Contra games, with the notable omissions of Legacy of War and Contra Adventure (and Contra Force, but that was just a Dolled-Up Installment to begin with). As a side-effect, the English localization of Shattered Soldier also followed the original Japanese timeline instead of the alternate American timeline, which had the earlier games set in the present instead of the future, and Bill and Lance replaced with their "descendants" Jimbo and Sully in Contra III.
  • When the NES port of Metal Gear proved to be successful, Konami commissioned one of their teams to developed a sequel for the American and European market titled Snake's Revenge. This sequel was made without Hideo Kojima's involvement and when he was told about it, he decided to make his own sequel for the Japanese MSX2 titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. The Metal Gear Solid series follows the storyline from Metal Gear 2 rather than Snake's Revenge.
  • Monolith Productions chose to ignore the two F.E.A.R. expansion packs (which were made by a different company) when they started development on the game's real sequel.
  • Halo's continuity policy directly addresses this; new material automatically overrides old material in the event of a contradiction, while the games override the books, which in turn override promotional materials like the "Believe" ad campaign.
  • Myst is a little more complicated, as it involves multiple Literary Agent Hypothesis. The first two books (Atrus, Catherine) do not mention the D'ni society as having slaves, just a caste system. Book of D'ni makes it explicit that slavery is repugnant to D'ni society. Then Uru came out, with the storyline's finale in Myst V... Again, it seems the author of the books "based" his writings on Catherine's journals, which dismiss the clear slavery of the Bahro, for never entirely cleared reasons. As for Book of D'ni, well, people long gave up making sense of it.
    • That's far from the only Canon Discontinuity in the Mystiverse. Prison books? Prison Ages? Your guess is as good as Dr. Watson's!
  • Nintendo has outright stated that The Legend of Zelda CDI Games games never happened. This is taken to such an extreme that an issue of Nintendo Power describes The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks as the first game which Zelda is a (semi)playable character. She was fully playable in two CDI games.
  • The premise of Super Mario Bros. 2, with its All Just a Dream ending has been entirely ignored by the Mario canon, since all of its supposedly "wacky dream characters" (who were not Mario characters at the time, see Doki Doki Panic) have since been shown to be residents of the normal Mario universe. It's also notable that for a franchise that enjoys reviving old premises from long-ago titles, no characters, settings, or items from the two Game Boy titles, other than Wario and Princess Daisy, have been used in subsequent games.
  • When British game publisher U.S. Gold got the license to produce ports of Strider for home computers in Europe, they took the liberty of producing an exclusive-sequel titled Strider II, which was later remade for the Sega Genesis and Game Gear and released in America under the title of Journey From Darkness: Strider Returns. Capcom later got to make an arcade/PS1 sequel titled Strider 2, which completely ignored U.S. Gold's own sequel.
  • A variation that didn't have anything to do with quality occurs in the God of War franchise. In the first game, in an unlockable video the protagonist, Kratos, visits his mother and learns that Zeus was his father. He's not happy to learn this, and plans to take vengeance on Zeus somewhere along the line. Yet in the second game, as Kratos is holding a dying Athena, Athena reveals to him that he is Zeus' son, which Kratos is surprised to hear, but declares that he "has no father". The director of the game acknowledged this error in the extras, and states that he was disappointed that they revealed it in the first game, because he finds it more fitting for it to be dropped on Kratos after he is denied his vengeance. He openly said that he doesn't care about the error.
  • The creators of the Star Control series have made it clear that Star Control 3, which was made without their input and was met with overwhelming fan backlash, never happened. So no, the Precursors are not cows.
    • Word of God has revealed that some of the things in it are what the creators had intended to do if they'd gotten to make their own sequel, though—such as the part about the Mycon actually being biological terraformers created by the Precursors whose programming has become distorted into a bizarre religion.
  • Homeworld fans are still trying to figure out if outsourced midquel Cataclysm is canon or not, the Homeworld 2 dev-team being somewhat non-committal on the subject and some of its technological advances showing up in the sequel but not others. And it's not clear if the MacGuffin made of Forgotten Phlebotinum that appears in the sequel, whose nature flatly contradicts the first game's manual, is a clumsy retcon or a result of the new creative team not bothering to read the fluff.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 seems to ignore Red Alert 2's Expansion Pack, Yuri's Revenge; The third game's starting cinematic starts with the Soviet Union defeated while both of YR's endings had them surviving (conquering the world in the Soviet one, teaming up with the allies to take down Yuri in the Allied one).
    • Red Alert 3 takes place in an alternate Red Alert setting. The very intro movie explains this. RA3 says that a time machine was used by the Soviets at the end of RA2, to destroy Albert Einstein and prevent the allies from developing several key technologies. Nevertheless, FutureTech creates very similar technologies anyway but because of the change in timelines, the Empire of the Rising Sun exists in RA3 when it wasn't supposed to exist at all in the previous timeline (this is in fact part of the last 4 missions in the Empire of the Rising Sun campaign).
      • But the intro movie begins with the Soviets in grave danger, which is why they use the time machine to kill Einstein. So, the contradiction stands, although it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that another war occurred after Yuri's Revenge. Besides, this is a series with towers that shoot lightning, mind-controlled giant squids, and man-cannons that shoot parachuting armored war bears.
      • It's possible that Red Alert 3 never was the same continuity. It was already an alternate universe of Red Alert in the first place, and the time travel just made it even more different.
      • Discontinuity becomes trickier when time-travel is around, but the original canon was that Red Alert was a prequel to the Tiberian series. That worked well up until Red Alert 2, when fans had to resort to tricks like suggesting the Tiberian timeline developed from the Soviet ending in RA1 or theorising further time-travel down the line to make sense of it. By Red Alert 3, the continuities were officially split.
  • World of Warcraft ignores most of what is said in the Warcraft tabletop game. Especially considering Whitewolf and Blizzard Entertainment broke off ties. This is something of a rarity for Blizzard, who have a history of standing by licensed works and their storyline elements.
    • That said, any time something happens in WoW that directly contradicts established canon in the RTS games takes precedence, often stated as being "ongoing shifts in artistic leaning" or the like. Certainly not because they just forgot the old story and never went back to check on it before finalizing the new info. Even when one of the writers specifically states that to be the case. See: the entire backstory of the Draenei: Originally, the Eredar were one of the races that corrupted Sargeras; now, Sargeras was already corrupted by the Nathrezim by the time he got to them, and he corrupted them, with the Draenei being that faction of the Eredar who resisted his corruption.
    • Now the RPG is completely considered uncanon, with exception of information used from the RPG in canon.
  • A rather odd case for Banpresto's Super Robot Wars Original Generation: Original Generation (OG1) lets players choose between Ryusei Date and Kyosuke Nanbu, whose stories co-exist with one another for the first half of the game. It's only until the second half events unfold differently for either character. Come Original Generation 2 (OG2), events state only Ryusei's second half of OG1 happened; Kyosuke's second half is never mentioned at all. While this drops loads of Foreshadowing from Kyosuke's second half of OG1, fans were quick enough to deduce Banpresto did this to show that OG1 was never meant to be played in favour for Kyosuke, but the sequel was, since the game was primarly focused on his story from Super Robot Wars Impact.
    • Strangely enough, Kai Kitamura seems to know the other members of the cast very well, even though he's a permanent character in Kyosuke's route.
    • Ironically, to celebrate SRW's 15th anniversary, Banpresto released Original Generations (OGs), a Video Game Remake on the PlayStation 2 of both GBA games, which sets itself as Canon Discontinuity by rehashing the storyline to include Early Bird Cameoes, new Humongous Mecha, the cast of Super Robot Wars Reversal, new characters and a major personality change to Axel Almer.
  • Oddest case ever: Leisure Suit Larry 4. It doesn't exist. It's not just non-canon, it was never made. Yes, Al Lowe jumped from 3 straight to 5.
    • This works itself into the plot of Larry 5 interestingly: Because the 4th game was never released, both player characters have no recollection of what happened after Larry 3. The actual in-game explaination is that the Big Bad, Julius Bigg, stole the master floppies for himself before release. Patti is the first to realize this after he catches Julius humming the love theme from Larry 4, which she wrote herself, knowing that he must have stolen the floppies if he knows the melody.
    • The lack of Leisure Suit Larry 4 even became a plot point in Space Quest 4. Vohaul had corrupted the master disks and used them to take over Xenon.
      • The real-life explanation is, of course, that they couldn't think of a good way to get a sequel out of Larry 3's happy ending, so they just did a sequel anyway and made the continuity errors it produces part of the plot.
        • The story goes that Al Lowe, the creator of Leisure Suit Larry, had sworn that there would never be a LSL 4... before agreeing to make another Larry game. To keep his oath, he made Larry 5 and simply had the characters reference Leisure Suit Larry 4: The Missing Floppies, a title that exists in the game's plot, but not in the real world. The cleanup for the plot from LSL 3 was an added bonus.
  • Another Sierra example is that the widely-derided King's Quest Mask of Eternity has never shown up on any of the compelation CDs of the series and has only since been re-released on Good Old Games.
  • After a whiny princess kissed a hedgehog back to life in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, the entire game erased itself from continuity via temporal retcon. A bit Hilarious in Hindsight, too: after firing the writers, SEGA wisely decided to pretend the entire game never happened, as well.
    • This is made confusing because, despite the game being ERASED FROM TIME, it still appears in Sonic Generations! And Sega has yet to comment.
  • Legend of Mana, originally marketed as "Seiken Densetsu 4" (and possibly a direct sequel to Seiken Densetsu 3), is now not considered by Square-Enix to be part of the main World of Mana continuity.
    • Its Japanese name is "Seiken Densetsu: Legend of Mana" (there is no 4), which means that everybody assumed that this was the 4th game in the main series.
    • Switching up the elements (replacing Moon with Metal) probably didn't help it much.
  • Touhou is an interesting example. The first five games were made for the PC-98. The rest of the series is for Windows. The Windows games make very few references to the PC-98 games, and what little that carried over is greatly changed. The fanbase is split on whether or not this trope has taken effect, somewhat exacerbated by ZUN only saying that we could ignore the PC-98 games when questioned about them instead of anything stronger.
  • Radical Dreamers, the text-based first sequel to Chrono Trigger (and Japan-only) was completely thrown out of series continuity by the later PS 1 sequel Chrono Cross, which was also something of a remake of Radical Dreamers. The events of that game are thrown into an alternate reality... or something. Series creator Masato Kato originally had much greater plans for Radical Dreamers but the entire game was rushed. Chrono Cross was his way of finishing off his original planned story.
    • and the characters of Trigger, whilst he was at it
  • In a cross-medium example, all Aliens vs. Predator games seem to ignore the existence of Alien: Resurrection by depicting xenomorph encounters, Weyland-Yutani xenomorph research facilities, and at least two completely infested planets known to Company executives at a time when the species is supposed to be extinct in known space. The latest game, however, acknowledges one of the Alien vs. Predator films; however, it ignores all previous games.
  • While not entirely declaring them non-canon, Yoshio Sakamoto said that he did not take the plots of the Metroid Prime games into consideration in the making of Metroid: Other M. This leads to some weirdness when Samus mentions that this is the first time she's undertaken a mission alongside the Federation when she already did that in Metroid Prime 3. However, these are minor plot holes in a series riddled with them. The fact that the Prime sub-series was American-made and told its own story instead of furthering the plot of the Japanese games may have had something to do with this.
  • Mortal Kombat 2 ended with Shao Khan being rather spectacularly blasted to chunks (which, among other things, allowed Sonya Blade and Kano to escape back to Earth, so it had to have happened.) Mortal Kombat 3 began with Shao Khan alive and still ruling the Outworld with an iron fist. No one at Midway has even attempted to explain this.
    • A much bigger development occurred recently: the latest installment to the series - titled simply "Mortal Kombat" - erases everything that had occurred after the first game. While characters from subsequent games (such as Quan Chi, Cyrax etc.) still exist and make appearances, everything has started afresh.
      • This development has been taken as Midway/Netherealm Studio's attempt to persuade the gaming community to cast the last handful of lacklustre titles from their minds.
      • The simple title is meant to reflect this: the series is starting over.
      • The game (which is informally known as Mortal Kombat 9, to reflect continuity) is actually the result of a Cosmic Retcon at the hands of Raiden, and thus previous games are still canon. The game actually picks up directly where the previous game, Armageddon, left off, so its pretty up-front about this fact. The apparent contradictions of things like Quan-Chi being present so early in the story can be justified by another Cosmic Retcon at the hands of Shinnok, who invoked Fighting a Shadow for Armageddon and thus, unlike every other character apart from Shao Kahn, managed to avoid being killed. The new game ends with Shinnok revealing he masterminded everything.
  • In 1993, Nihon Falcom commissioned two separate companies to developed their own versions of the fourth Ys game. Ys IV: Mask of the Sun was released by Tonkin House for the Super Famicom, while Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys was released by Hudson Soft for the TurboGrafx-16 Super CD (a third version was also planned for the Mega Drive, but it was never released). Ys V was later developed by Falcom and exclusively for the SFC, and all the later Ys sequels followed the SFC games. The 2005 PlayStation 2 remake of Ys IV was even based on the SFC version.
  • Bomberman: Act Zero is not a part of the main Bomberman continuity, both on account of it being a radical departure from the series' light-hearted mood and from it being a rather terrible game on its own.
  • The Duke Nukem games "Time to Kill" and "Land of the Babes", for the original Playstation, while decent in their own right, aren't regarded as canon. The fact that they were made by different developers probably has something to do with that. Neither is the N64-exclusive installment Zero Hour, supposedly.
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback was produced by a low-budget developer, seemingly with a Game Maker program, disregards the characters and story of the previous games.
  • When it first came out in 2003, Tron 2.0 was supposed to be the official sequel to the movie Tron, since it seemed almost certain that Disney would never make a second film. Seven years later, when they actually did release another movie, the continuity differences between Tron: Legacy and 2.0 proved irreconcilable, so 2.0 was rendered non-canon.
  • It's a general rule within Pokémon that the canon game is the third game (Blue, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum, etc). If a previous game is referenced to it's always the third game, which is a mixture of the original two with changes.
    • Pokémon Yellow seems to be the only exception, as there are plenty of hints in G/S/C that R/G/B are the canonical Generation I games rather than Yellow: G/S/C's Cerulean City featuring the house of man who trades Pokémon in in R/G/B rather than its Yellow counterpart with the girl who gives the player Bulbasaur (and even the man himself), the Yellow-exclusive house in Route 19 being absent, or Blue's party being based on that of R/G/B rather than Yellow.
  • Thanks to original developers buying back the Gothic franchise minus the 4th game and the expansion pack to the third that weren't made by them, Gothic has them removed from canon by force of law. Given those games were beyond terrible, nobody minds.