Replacement Artifact

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A Replacement Artifact is when the writers of a series decide they don't need one of its devices any more, be it a plot point, a background rule, or whatever, and do away with it, often spectacularly... and then, later on, bring it back under a different name. Often the second attempt is more confusing and less internally stable than the original, yet has an almost-identical effect on the plot.

Usually happens after a change of writers, or during a Post Script Season. Obviously, only has time to happen during a long-running series. Compare The Artifact.

Examples of Replacement Artifact include:

  • Hypertime was the DC Universe's attempt to bring back the story possibilities of alternate Earths, which it had previously gotten rid of (claiming they had become "confusing") during the Reset Button event Crisis On Infinite Earths. However, this lacked the coherency of the original Multiple Earths rules, and confused far more people than the original ever did. To make things worse (or possibly just more confusing) even Hypertime has been discontinued in favor of "anomalies" from DC's latest universe-changing event, Infinite Crisis. Even the most hardened continuity buffs would be better off adopting the MST3K Mantra.
    • In the series 52, the Multiverse was restored - except this time, instead of infinite Earths, there are exactly 52. What this means for Hypertime has not been revealed.
      • Hypertime still exists, it accounts for the alternate worlds that are not included in the 52 as well as giving each Earth its own perceived multiverse. Ex. Earth 51 had a scene where it mimicked the original Silver Age meeting of Earths 1 & 2 (The JLA and JSA).
    • Recently, DC has comics has adopted the concept of "The Bleed" from Wildstorm, which allows for infinite realities once again, featured prominently in the Wildstorm series' The Authority and Planetary, both created by Warren Ellis.
  • Marvel has hit the halfway mark for this as well, in several of its series. Earth X, Universe X and Paradise X is a story about an Alternate Universe which has some major revelations about the whole of the Marvel Multiverse, which they generally haven't decided to keep.
    • And Marvel has always had this to a degree with their Sliding Time Scale, they just never made it a story feature.
      • They probably don't want to make the same mistake as DC, who uses Crisis Crossovers to justify the retcons.
  • Doctor Who didn't write out the Cybermen, but replaced the old ones from a Bizarro World Earth physically located in Earth's solar system with another Bizarro World in another universe.
    • The original Cybermen still exist, and the new series has featured them, in the series five finale and twice in season six—but we only know that by Word of God, because they use the same props as the other type of Cyberman and nobody has ever brought up the difference on-screen.
  • This was done with Zen and the Liberator in Blakes Seven, necessitating a new ship and talking computer in the Post Script Season.
  • Heroes killed off precognative artist Isaac Mendez near the end of the first season. Unable to let go of prophetic art, the next few seasons would be quick to whip out previously-unknown lost works of his (a series of unfulfilled paintings in the second, some comic books and a sketchbook in the third). And gave the same ability to at least three other characters.
    • The comics at least have the excuse that the publishing industry is slow and there were quite a few unprinted issues after Isaac's death. The paintings have no real excuse though.
      • Isaac could have deliberately placed them so that they would be found when they were needed. He could see the future after all.
      • The comics industry is slow BECAUSE of the time the art takes, so that's not an explanation.
  • Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic book killed off Dr. Robotnik in issue #50. He was soon replaced by an alternate dimension Robotnik who had turned himself into a machine and was formerly involved twice with events of this universe (we think; this was, topically, a switch to the "Eggman" design of Robotnik of the new games). Then this new Robotnik was made organic again. By aliens.