The writers of a particular work are about to start working on a continuation story, but they have an irreparable issue with the prior continuity.
Maybe Continuity Lock Out is preventing new fans from being attracted to the series. Maybe Continuity Snarl has made writing an interesting plot increasingly difficult and tedious. Maybe the last episodes of the series were so disliked that subsequent episodes would suffer from being associated with it. Or maybe the writers just want to take the series in a new direction or style.
The solution? Initiate a Reboot, sometimes called a Continuity Reboot.
A Reboot means the complete elimination of all continuity within that specific franchise. It's not a Reset Button or Snap Back: while those revert the continuity to a previous state, a Reboot erases it, providing the authors with a new clean slate to work on. In one form, as far as later works are concerned everything before it is Canon Discontinuity.
Due to inconsistent use, the differences between a remake, reboot, and re-imagining are sometimes unclear, and many things that were called remakes or re-imaginings prior to 2005 would have been called reboots if they'd been made after 2005 (or if Batman Begins had been made many years earlier). In general, a remake will tell more or less the same story as the original work, a re-imagining will start off at a similar point but go in a completely different direction (as Planet of the Apes 2001, Battlestar Galactica 2003 and Ghostbusters 2016) or take an extremely different route to reach the same endpoint (Robocop 2014), and a reboot will tell a completely new story without giving the slightest shit about where the previous continuity started (as in Batman Begins, X-Men First Class, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes), though it may share a similar starting point with a previous continuity if both were adaptations of a story from a different medium (as in Man of Steel and The Amazing Spider-Man). There is also the loose retelling, which may overlap with reboots or re-imaginings. For example, Friday the 13th 2009 was a loose retelling of the first four F13 movies, and is probably best described as a re-imagining of the "extremely different route to reach the same endpoint" variety, while Man of Steel is a hard reboot but has also been described as a loose retelling of the first two Superman movies.
Some types of reboots don't completely disregard previous continuity. A partial reboot will decanonize some of the previous continuity, but not all of it, and pick up where the original movie or a much earlier sequel left off. Reboots of this type include Superman Returns (which disregarded Superman III and IV and picked up where Superman II left off), Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles (which disregarded T3 and picked up where T2 left off), Terminator: Dark Fate (which disregarded everything from T3 onward and picked up where T2 left off), and most things with Halloween or Highlander in the title. A time-travel reboot will acknowledge the previous continuity, then use timey-wimey balls to wipe it all out anyway (as in Star Trek 2009 and Terminator
Gene Geny Gine the fifth one). And then there are the X-Men movies, where First Class was intended to be a reboot, but then Days of Future Past retconned it to be a prequel to the X-Men trilogy while simultaneously using time travel to wipe out the events of the X-Men trilogy, because Hollywood writers are great at logic and planning things out.
Frequently, a Continuity Reboot will include one (or more) Tone Shifts, usually to whatever is considered the best money-maker for the target demographic, Darker and Edgier being the most common, but could just as easily be Lighter and Softer.
Sequels that don't erase any previous continuity, but also have very little dependence on it, are sometimes incorrectly called "soft" reboots. However, they are reboots in the same way "alternative facts" are facts and "social justice" is justice (or in other words, not at all).
A close relative of the regular Retcon and Cosmic Retcon. The most extreme example of a Retool. Compare with Alternate Continuity, Adaptation Distillation, and The Remake, not related to Story Reset. For a character that causes the reboot, see Continuity Rebooter.
Anime and Manga
- Rozen Maiden was originally Cut Short in the middle of the story with none of the major mysteries solved. A new version of the manga is being produced but all signs point to a Continuity Reboot, perhaps to erase the stink of the conflict between the publishers and producers that caused the original manga's death. Of course, the original plot had a ton of metaphysical reality crap mixed in there so who knows?
- Casshern Sins is a Darker and Edgier reboot of Neo-Human Casshern, featuring a radically different and more cynical interpretation of the eponymous protagonist.
- Part 6 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure ends with the Big Bad, Pucci, activating his final stand, Stairway to Heaven, which speeds up time and causes the universe to end and reset according to fate. As a result, Part 7, AKA Steel Ball Run, is a retooled alternate timeline of Part 1 with many parallel characters, but a new setting and a new battle system that seems to combine aspects of the Ripple (from Parts 1 and 2) and Stands (from Parts 3-6).
- Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040
- Dirty Pair Flash
- The 1994 Science Ninja Team Gatchaman OVA.
- Gall Force: The Revolution
- Both Tenchi Universe and Tenchi in Tokyo for the Tenchi Muyo! OVA, and afterwards there was a return to the original Tenchi Muyo! OVA continuity.
- Every time Negima gets a new adaptation, it tends to be in a new continuity. Only the original manga and the most recent set of OVAs seem to share continuities.
- The DC Universe has had a couple of these justified by Cosmic Retcon; most famous is the Crisis on Infinite Earths which was a full-on history-redefining reboot but kept the characters the same, Infinite Crisis, which was more of a tweaking than a full reboot, and the upcoming post-Flashpoint reboot which will be another full-on reboot (as far as can be told so far) with lots of new costumes and character redefinitions, and the renumbering of all titles back to #1. Reaction to this has been about what you'd expect.
- The Silver Age was originally started by DC rebooting most of the its lines of comics starting with The Flash in 1956, but later extending to the Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Atom, Wonder Woman, and the Justice Society of America whose reboot included a slight name change to the Justice League of America. Most of these reboots also included Retools as well to make the series more sci-fi oriented. The original continuity that was displaced by these reboots was later shown to take place in an alternate universe, Earth-Two, which would later regularly crossover with the reboot universe, which was dubbed Earth-One.
- Technically, Barry Allen and Booster Gold survive the old universe but only remember their new lives (Barry does apparently remember his time in the Flashpoint universe but not his old life in the original). And the recent Green Lantern and Batman continuity has been reproduced in this universe but otherwise its a complete reboot, although all the major stories of the past apparently did still take place.
- Wonder Woman was retooled very heavily several times between 1965 and 1985. They finally gave up and restarted at #1, throwing out all previous continuity. Fans who only knew her from her job as token woman in Justice League/Superfriends didn't understand why suddenly she was ten years younger and could hover, but really, the new Wondie as published was less revisionist than planned. It had gotten that bad.
- Somewhat averted in the post-Flashpoint relaunch. Writer Brian Azzarello says he doesn't intend to retcon anything or give Diana a new origin, but that he does not plan on revisiting or referencing past storylines, deliberately making it unclear as to just how much of Wonder Wonder Womans's history is still canon.
- Wonder Woman was also rebooted corresponding to the start of the Silver Age in 1956 with issue Wonder Woman #98. Unlike a lot of DC's other Silver Age reboots which completely revamped the characters, Wonder Woman's reboot kept the character mostly the same with a few slight changes. Among other changes, Wonder Woman was given the ability to glide on air currents and Hippolyta was changed into a blonde.
- This is actually a plot point in the Grant Morrison run on Animal Man. Because of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Buddy, the titular hero, literally has to reboot his life to avoid a paradox. It's like this: Buddy, the Animal Man, was a Silver Age hero, and thus lived on Earth-Two. After the Crisis, all of the Earths were folded into one, so while Buddy still existed, he was a completely different person but still drew from his Silver Age origin (the accident which gave the original Buddy powers sterilized him, while Modern Age Buddy sired two children after he got his powers, not to mention Modern Buddy suddenly became years younger than the original). In order to prevent the paradox, Buddy had to use a Reality Warper machine to rewrite his personal history so it made sense. Got all that?
- How about The Punisher? Garth Ennis basically rebooted the story TWICE. Once staring with "Welcome Back, Frank" and AGAIN with the "Punisher Max" series. While the former basically paints over the previous continuity and ignores it (mentioning some of it only in "broad strokes" like the "Angel-Punisher" arc) the latter is a complete reboot set in its own, new "grittier" reality with no super hero characters (although some characters from other Marvel comics, like Microchip, are roped in - albeit with a more "realistic" spin).
- The protagonist of Strontium Dog died in a Heroic Sacrifice in a 1990 story, and was then killed again, quite horribly, at the end of the Darkest Star arc. The series was revived in 1999; this Revival established that the prior stories were 'folklore', and the new series was 'what really happened'. This lasted for all of one Story Arc before returning to the original continuity with a series of Prequel stories.
- Rogue Trooper was rebooted in 1989 with a new character, new war, and new planet, but the same basic plot (though with a variant story and different facets emphasized). Later on, the two versions were brought together.
- The Legion of Super-Heroes did this twice. The first time was set up by Zero Hour and the second more vaguely by Infinite Crisis. Final Crisis then did it a third time, restoring a version of the Legion mostly like the original.
- It was later revealed that all three Legions were canon. At the same time. The first Legion is canon to the main DCU. The Zero Hour one is from a universe that was destroyed during Crisis on Infinite Earths which "replaced" the first one because of Time Trapper's interference. The Threeboot universe is Legion from an existing Alternate Universe, Earth-Prime, which Time Trapper tried to replace after the Zero Hour Legion got thrown into the Bleed (or Limbo or whatever).
- Batman Begins provided a Continuity Reboot to the Batman movie universe: Rewriting Batman's and every other character's story, and treating it to a new cinematic style.
- Casino Royale was intended as an Continuity Reboot of the James Bond movie series, showing Bond as a 00 agent on his first mission, and giving the movie a much more realistic and serious setting and style than those before it.
- The Incredible Hulk (2008) was possibly the quickest a franchise has been rebooted. To give you an idea of how fast: 5 years and after a single movie from the previous "continuity". They had been trying to do it in a way that the first film could be counted or discounted as the audience saw fit, but Edward Norton insisted on changing the details of the origin to make them incompatable.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise. It was followed by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes.
- Superman Returns was a partial reboot. It was intended as a Broad Strokes type of sequel to Superman and II, while it completely ignored III and IV, and was intended to restart the film series. However, no further sequels were made.
- The Man of Steel, released in 2013, served as both a hard reboot of the Superman film series and the first movie in the DC Cinematic Universe (which is about to get a time-travel reboot in the form of the Flashpoint movie).
- Halloween: H20 ignored all the Halloween movies that occurred after Halloween II (in the original continuity, Jamie Lee Curtis' character had died before part IV).
- Also, Rob Zombie's two Halloween films.
- The 2006 version of The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau starts with a clean slate and only two characters held over from the original series (Clouseau and Dreyfus). Its 2009 sequel is simply titled The Pink Panther 2, avoiding the original series' Idiosyncratic Episode Naming.
- The Karate Kid has a new movie, staring Jaden Smith as the titular kid and Jackie Chan as the old mentor. It borrows elements from the first film in the series.
- The 2009 Star Trek movie is a time-travel reboot
- The Godzilla series first performed a partial reboot with Godzilla 1985, which was presented as a direct sequel to the original film Godzilla: King of the Monsters and ignored the numerous films in between. Godzilla 1997 was a re-imagining with the title character attacking the United States instead of Japan. Later the concept was taken to ludicrous extremes when, starting with Godzilla 2000, four films in a row all were made as direct sequels to the first film, like the production team immediately saw each film as an embarrassment that had to be taken out of continuity.
- The Punisher has had three films, none of which is connected to the other in any way. It also beats out The Hulk for turnaround time, four years to Hulk's five.
- This was largely because the second film was actually successful. War Zone was intended as a direct sequel, and became a reboot only when Thomas Jane dropped out.
- The Spider-Man film series was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 and again with Captain America: Civil War in 2016.
- Friday the 13 th was re-imagined in 2009.
- Cloud Ten Pictures is aiming to reboot the Left Behind film series, starting with the first book.
- The original Highlander had four sequels AND a TV series that all ignored or acknowledged each other to varying degrees. The reboot of the first movie is currently in Development Hell.
- The Fantastic Four film franchise was rebooted in 2015 with an ill-considered partial Retool that made all four about the same age, the Storms black (except for Sue, who was adopted), and the space flight origin turned into extradimensional travel.
- When writing the novel of The Worthing Saga, Orson Scott Card didn't have access to his original short stories, and while he did his best to recreate their plots from memory, upon finding the stories again he decided the novel had become too different to fit with them again. Later editions, however, include the best stories in the back of the book as an Alternate Continuity.
- James Bond got one in 2011 when Jeffery Deaver was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a new James Bond book. The title of that book? Carte Blanche.
- A series of Tarzan novels by Andy Briggs features a setting update and Tarzan at age 18 serves as a reboot.
- Isabelle Allende wrote an origin story Zorro novel, as well as a short story for a Moonstone Books anthology called Tales of Zorro. Jan Adkins wrote a short novel called The Iron Brand in continuity with this novel by Allende. However, due to the sloppy continuity of Johnston McCulley's original Zorro novels and short stories, whether this counts as a reboot stands as unclear. (In the late 1990's, a series of novels with Zorro came out from Tor.)
- Martin Caidin wrote an origin novel for Buck Rogers called Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future. (Buck Rogers debuted in the novel Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan. John Eric Holmes wrote a sequel to Armageddon 2419 A.D. called Mordred.)
- The new Battlestar Galactica is a "re-imagining" of the original series. Notably, only the pilot Miniseries, The Hand of God, and Pegasus/Resurrection Ship directly adapt events or characters from the original series.
- The new Bionic Woman is an example of a reboot which was not well-received.
- Which was NBC's fault for replacing the original writing staff with writers from Friday Night Lights. Because after all, female cyborgs and Texas high school football are EXACTLY alike.
- There never was much chance they could do it right, because doing it right requires ignoring some of the accepted conventions of 'action adventure TV' in today's climate.
- Which was NBC's fault for replacing the original writing staff with writers from Friday Night Lights. Because after all, female cyborgs and Texas high school football are EXACTLY alike.
- The All-New Kamen Rider (a.k.a. Sky Rider) and Kamen Rider Black were originally intended as reboots of the Kamen Rider franchise, but they ended up being in the same continuity as the original shows (for Black, the Retcon occurred in its sequel series Kamen Rider Black RX when the ten previous Riders guest-starred in the final story arc). The franchise's Heisei era (from 2000 and onward) was a reboot into a new multiverse, of which the previous Riders' single shared universe was not part of... until Kamen Rider Decade reincluded it in the multiverse.
- The 2009 V-2009 series is a re-imagining of |the two miniseries and regular series from the 1980s.
- "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (the cable series that ran for ten seasons) is actually a reboot of a local Minnesota series that aired on KTMA TV-23. When the show's creators began making episodes for The Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central) they decided to retroactively treat the KTMA series as a 40 hour long pilot for the cable series. Their first season of episodes for The Comedy Channel is, therefore, treated as the show's first official season. This allowed them to rethink various aspects of the show. Notably they ended up re-watching nine movies in the third season without mentioning that they'd actually seen them before, unofficially.
- There was a 2009 miniseries version of The Prisoner that took the basic concept of the Village and a few character names (such as Two and Six), then took the whole thing in a totally different direction (including providing an explanation for the existence of the Village that would be impossible in the continuity of the original series).
- The Tomorrow People, originally from the '70s, has been re-imagined twice: first in 1992 on Nickelodeon, and again on The CW in 2013.
- Land of the Lost was another children's TV show from the '70s that got a re-imagining in the '90s. It got a theatrical re-imagining in 2009.
- Due to plots being optional or of greatly decreased importance in video games relative to other media, video games have always treated sequels and remakes far more interchangeably than any other medium has. This has necessitated the use of genre-specific terminology; for example, Doom II is a "story sequel" to Doom, Doom 3 is both a "sequel" and a re-imagining but not a "story sequel", and Doom (2016) is a re-imagining but not a "sequel" or "story sequel". Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and Civilization: Beyond Earth both serve as "story sequels" to the main Civilization games, but the Civilization games don't actually have defined stories or continuities to begin with... and, for that matter, neither do Alpha Centauri or Beyond Earth. In this context, the idea of a "reboot" as an entity distinct from a "sequel" or "remake" does not exist in any meaningful sense. Any list of video game franchises in which some entries disregard the events of other entries would be nearly indistinguishable from a list of every video game franchise that ever had more than one installment.
- The main comic of Ultima Java underwent a reboot after a change in the creative team, resulting in the creation of Ultima-Java: History. The original web comic was then rehosted as another universe, and retitled Universe 2. Since then, the Multiverse has been removed but the comic title remains as Universe 2 as a reference to DC comics Earth 2, where the Golden Age originally took place.
- Sore Thumbs.
- Another web comic example would be Furthia High, which has been rebooted at least once, while keeping most of the main characters (with some names changed), but with new plotlines and format (a page instead of a strip).
- Played for Laughs in this Sinfest.
- Dumbing of Age will do this for the Walkyverse, not because of Snarl or Lockout but simply because Willis feels the "what if?" is worth exploring.
- Fuzzy Things changed from being about adventurer kids in training to somewhat ordinary kids in a sci-fi/fantasy world. Most of the characters retained their previous personalities though, with the exception of Ixiah who changed completely (from a blue-furred psionic semi-Well-Intentioned Extremist the same age as the other kids to Fox's older brother who has his own Middle-school aged group).
- Voodoo Walrus went through a reboot after only six updates that that completely removed half the cast.
- Despite Word of God that the original six pages had nothing to do with the post reboot continuity, some of the characters only seen in said pages have recently appeared in the normal run of the comic.
- Dresden Codak played with the concept, specifically DC's post-Flashpoint reboot, by giving a new set of revised characters here, then mocked when he had a DC-style reboot of his own characters.
- Dorkly State of the Reboots page interrupts for an important announcement: "The 1980s Reloaded". It's official now.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
- Ditto Spider-Man being updated first in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, then the short lived MTV CGI series, and The Spectacular Spider-Man and now a currently unnamed cartoon, based off of Ultimate Spider-Man.
- And X-Men with X-Men: Evolution, cashing in on the film with its own interpretation and continuity separate from the rather faithful (in a Broad Strokes sense) 90s cartoon.
- And then rebooted again 8 years later with Wolverine and the X-Men.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe had a 2002 "20th Anniversary" reboot.
- G.I. Joe: Sigma 6. Later done with G.I. Joe: Resolute, as well.
- My Little Pony has been rebooted three times: once with My Little Pony Tales, again with the Direct to Video movies of the 2000s, and once again with the series Friendship Is Magic in 2010.
- Similarly, Strawberry Shortcake also has two reboots: the first in 2002 and the second in 2009.
- Hanna-Barbera's 1960s classic show Jonny Quest has been re-done a few times. The New Adventures, released in the 1980s, can be seen as a continuation of the original series. However, the two Made For TV Movies and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, are straight-up continuity reboots.
- The 1990s TV movies Retcon Race and Hadji's initial addition to the team (placing it before Rachel Quest died, unlike the original series), and also make Jessie Race's unknown daughter from his previous marriage to Jade (in The New Adventures, Jessie was the daughter of Dr. Bradshaw, a fellow scientist).
- The first creative team behind The Real Adventures added a few retcons of their own: they aged the characters a couple of years, modernized them and the technology they use, and completely ignored anything created between the original Jonny Quest and their own show. Notably, the character of Hard Rock never existed, and Jessie is Race's daughter from a previous marriage to archaeologist Estella Velasquez, whom he's known and cared for all along. They were also going to retcon the way Rachel Quest died, but the show was canceled before the episode was animated.
- Thundercats got ThunderCats (2011) in July 2011, and then Thundercats Roar in 2020.
- Going by Filmation's Batman as the first Batman cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman, Batman: The Brave And The Bold, and Beware the Batman are all reboots. Batman Beyond, however, is set in the same continuity as B:TAS.