Retroactive continuity

retconnedretconretconsretconningretroactivelyret-conret-connedretconedretroactiveretroactively changed
Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.wikipedia
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Marvel Comics

MarvelMarvel ComicMarvel.com
Retcons are common in pulp fiction, and especially in comic books published by long-established publishers such as DC and Marvel.
While no other Timely character would achieve the success of these three characters, some notable heroes—many of which continue to appear in modern-day retcon appearances and flashbacks—include the Whizzer, Miss America, the Destroyer, the original Vision, and the Angel.

Sequel

sequelsstand-alone sequelunofficial sequel
Legacy sequels are sometimes also direct sequels that ignore previous installments entirely, effectively retconning preceding events.

Continuity (fiction)

continuitycontinuity errorcontinuity errors
Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.
When the character was spun off into Frasier, his father became a central character with, in a case of retroactive continuity, the explanation that Frasier was embarrassed about his father's lowbrow attitudes and thus claimed his death.

All-Star Squadron

ZyklonAll StarAll-Star Squadron Annual
The first known printed use of "retroactive continuity" referring to the altering of history in a fictional work is in All-Star Squadron #18 (February 1983) from DC Comics.
The All-Star Squadron was an example of "retroactive continuity" or "retcon", as it rewrote the already-established history of DC superheroes that had been published during the 1940s.

Doctor Who

Brian MinchinDr WhoDr. Who
Such additions and reinterpretations are very common in Doctor Who.
He is shown in mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" retroactively inserted into the show's fictional chronology between McGann and Eccleston's Doctors, although his introduction was written so as not to disturb the established numerical naming of the Doctors.

John Byrne (comics)

John ByrneJohn L. Byrne
John Byrne used a similar structure with X-Men: The Hidden Years.
During the course of his run, Byrne became the first writer to retcon Iron Man's origin, removing explicit ties to the Vietnam War (while maintaining a Southeast Asia setting), and linking Wong-Chu, the man who captured Tony Stark, to the Mandarin.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Amazing Spider-ManSpider-Manof the same name
Kurt Busiek took a similar approach with Untold Tales of Spider-Man, a series which told stories that specifically fit between issues of the original The Amazing Spider-Man series, sometimes explaining discontinuities between those earlier stories.
289 (June 1987), which revealed Ned Leeds as being the Hobgoblin although this was retconned in 1996 by Roger Stern into Leeds not being the original Hobgoblin after all.

Two and a Half Men

Dois Homens e MeioOne And A Half Men
An example of this occurs on the CBS comedy Two and a Half Men.

Superboy (Kon-El)

SuperboyConner KentKon-El
In 2003, in the title of DC Comics' Teen Titans, Geoff Johns changed the entire genetic code of Kon-El (the modern version of Superboy) from a genetically altered human clone that was designed to be as Kryptonian as possible into a hybrid clone of both Superman and Lex Luthor.
The character was retconned in Teen Titans #1 (September 2003) as a Kryptonian/human hybrid of Superman and Lex Luthor.

Comic book death

brought back from supposed deathapparent deathresurrected
The technique is so common in superhero comics that the term "comic book death" has been coined for it.
Despite this, the story was retconned a few years later to facilitate Jean's return.

Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryGalen ErsoStar Wars: Rogue One
However, the prequel, Star Wars: Rogue One, presents the design flaw as deliberate: Galen Erso, the head engineer of the Death Star project, designed the reactors to be unstable, thus needing an exhaust port, and gave the plans to the Rebel Alliance in order to sabotage the Empire and to secretly show the Rebels how to destroy the Death Star.
IndieWire's David Ehrlich gave the film a C+ rating, calling it "a spirited but agonizingly safe attempt to expand cinema's most holy blockbuster franchise and keep the wheels greased between proper installments ... just a glorified excuse to retcon some sense into one of the silliest things about the original."

Horror film

horrorhorror moviehorror films
This is a common practice in horror films, which may end with the death of a monster that goes on to appear in one or more sequels.
Halloween is a 2018 slasher film which is the eleventh installment in the Halloween film series, and a direct sequel to the 1978 film of the same name, while effecting a retcon of all previous sequels.

Teen Titans

New Teen TitansTitansThe New Teen Titans
In 2003, in the title of DC Comics' Teen Titans, Geoff Johns changed the entire genetic code of Kon-El (the modern version of Superboy) from a genetically altered human clone that was designed to be as Kryptonian as possible into a hybrid clone of both Superman and Lex Luthor.
Issue #50 told a new origin story for Wonder Girl, her link to Wonder Woman having been severed due to retcons created in the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Plot hole

plot holesan event that took placeholes
In the Star Wars franchise, one of the most cited plot holes is that the Galactic Empire's superweapon, the Death Star, has a glaring, poorly defended weak point, the exhaust port.

Cyclops (Marvel Comics)

CyclopsScott SummersScott Summers / Cyclops
The film, a loose adaptation of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" from the Uncanny X-Men comic book series, featured the unceremonious deaths of select key characters (including Cyclops), triggering a mixed fan response from those who felt the deaths we're sudden and under-explored.
The head injury account has also been retconned in Astonishing X-Men Vol.

List of retroactive continuities

The following are examples of retroactive continuities (or retcons).

Uncanny X-Men

X-MenThe Uncanny X-MenThe X-Men
The film, a loose adaptation of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" from the Uncanny X-Men comic book series, featured the unceremonious deaths of select key characters (including Cyclops), triggering a mixed fan response from those who felt the deaths we're sudden and under-explored.
This meant the resurrection of Jean Grey (performed by retcon, the character appearing from #101 having never really been her), and having Scott Summers/Cyclops abandon his wife and child.

Robotech

TirolOpteraRobotech Academy
Robotech is an example of this.
In 2002, with the publication of the WildStorm (DC) comics, Harmony Gold officially decided to retcon the Robotech Universe.

Floating timeline

sliding timescaleageless charactercomic book time
For example, the ongoing continuity contradictions on episodic TV series such as The Simpsons (in which the timeline of the family's history must be continually shifted forward to explain they are not getting any older) reflects intentionally lost continuity, not genuine retcons.
A floating timeline is a subtle form of retroactive continuity.

Deadpool

Wade Wilson / DeadpoolWade WilsonDeadpool Team-Up
The film featured the character Deadpool, who is created by the character Colonel William Stryker as an amalgamation of several other mutants.
Frequently, revelations are later retconned or ignored altogether, and in one issue, Deadpool himself joked that whether or not he is actually Wade Wilson depends on which writer the reader prefers.

Dark Phoenix (film)

Dark PhoenixX-Men: Dark PhoenixDark Phoenix'' (film)
"The Dark Phoenix Saga" would subsequently be adapted a second time in Dark Phoenix (2019).
After the timeline of the X-Men franchise was retconned with the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, it was noted that a new adaptation of the "Dark Phoenix Saga" could be made that ignores the events of The Last Stand.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

film of the same nameWolverineX-Men Origins
* X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past (the follow-up to First Class) was confirmed to erase the events of Wolverine through retroactive continuity.

Parallel universes in fiction

parallel universealternate universealternate reality
For instance, by retroactively setting a prior story in a parallel universe, departed popular characters can be reintroduced.

Pulp magazine

pulp fictionpulppulp novel
Retcons are common in pulp fiction, and especially in comic books published by long-established publishers such as DC and Marvel.

Comic book

comic bookscomic-bookcomic
Retcons are common in pulp fiction, and especially in comic books published by long-established publishers such as DC and Marvel.