Let's face it. Facts are rather inconvenient things. If people know exactly how some really bad things went down in the story, they might freak out a little bit, realizing that they live in a Crapsack World
and are liable to be killed senselessly and pointlessly for ridiculous reasons.
Enter the Internal Retcon
. This trope allows the reigning authority figure (typically determined by Might Makes Right
) to force everyone to pretend like something else is what really
happened, simply because the consequences of the truth coming out are really dangerous.
Most popular as a way of ending either a story arc or a story proper. Naturally, spoilers are rather unavoidable in describing this phenomenon as a result.
- One of these is integral in making the ending of Watchmen work - and the one character who refuses to go along with the plan is naturally killed.
- This is how the first issue of Sin City concludes. For obvious reasons it can't come out that a member of the Roark family was involved with a cannibal serial killer, so the police force Marv to confess to all of the crimes committed by Roark and Kevin.
- An open-ended example occurs in The Order of the Stick where Haley agrees to act as if her "leaving" the Thieves' Guild was a highly elaborate ploy to make adventurers everywhere hesitant to accept a non-Guild sanctioned Thief in their party lest they turn out to be a secret assassin. It's open-ended because Haley kills Crystal and leaves the Thieves' Guild again- but it likely isn't in Bazzok's current interest to undo the Retcon since it would also undo the public relations scheme.