Created By: KeithM on August 15, 2015 Last Edited By: DevilishCingulatan on November 1, 2017

Soft Reboot

A franchise reboot that technically takes place in the same continuity as prior installments.

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You have a classic property, one that's made money hand over fist for you for years, perhaps decades, but now, it's getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe it's dated, maybe recent installments have tarnished its name, maybe it's just bogged down in Continuity Lockout. Resetting the thing to bring in new fans sounds like a good idea, but you're afraid the backlash among existing fans to a Continuity Reboot will be epic in its drama. What to do? Well, instead of starting over, dip into the Troper Well and pull out a way of explaining you're not really tossing away the classic stories the fans love. No, this is an Alternate Timeline. Or a sequel set sometime after the events of the old series that mentions the things fans loved but quietly neglects or RetCons the things not so beloved. Or a prequel, or even a separate adventure taking place somewhere else so you have an excuse not to mention the events of the original series.

In short, it's an in-continuity remake. A compromise between making a sequel and a remake/reboot.


  • The rebooted Star Trek films take place in an alternate timeline, with Old!Spock's presence confirming that everything that happened in the original Star Trek universe still happened, and Word of God that said original timeline still exists, albeit one where Old!Spock disappeared into a black hole.
  • Superman Returns acknowledged the events of the Christopher Reeve films Superman and Superman II but ignored the far less liked subsequent sequels.
  • The Highlander universe...oy.
  • Prometheus ended up being a prequel to the Aliens universe and altering some long-held ideas about the setting.
  • An upcoming Predator film is planned to acknowledge the events of the first two films, bringing aspects from Predators regarding clan warfare between rival factions, and ignoring the Alien vs. Predator films.
  • Jurassic World recognizes the events of Jurassic Park but glosses over or outright ignores the events of the sequels.

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • Mass Effect Andromeda is set in a different galaxy from the Milky Way, over 600 years after the original trilogy, with the characters having gone into stasis at about the same time as the events of the second game and in intergalactic space during the events of the third game, allowing the creators the opportunity to not have the climactic events of the Mass Effect Trilogy (and the different endings and player choices) be referenced. This lampshaded at one point when a news broadcast mentions they've sent a message back to the Milky Way but haven't heard a response yet.
Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • August 15, 2015
    If the work happens in an alternate dimension/timeline/whatever, it's not a reboot, since it's not, well, rebooting anything. The word "reboot" is popular at the moment, but not everything the marketing teams call a "reboot" actually constitutes a reboot. A reboot is supposed to be a total reset of the canon continuity.

    As for the examples:

    I suppose a Soft Reboot could be something like Terminator Genisys or Mortal Kombat 2011, where the timeline is rewritten in-universe. So it acknowledges the original timeline as canon, and then explains in-universe why the timeline is changed. So it reboots the timeline without dismissing the original canon.

    UPD: And also, "fan drama" isn't really the main thing they're worried about in such cases. It's more about the money. Reboots are done in an attempt to attract both old fans' and new viewers' money. The real danger here is in alienating the old fans, who might just ignore the reboot and not give them their $$$. So, the problem is not in internet rants and flame wars, but in potentially alienating an important part of the intended customerbase.
  • August 15, 2015
    Not to be confused with a Soft Reset.

  • August 16, 2015
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Namespaced, italicized and Blue Linked work names.
      • Namespaced Creator names.
      • Sorted examples by media and added media section titles.
  • August 17, 2015
    The idea is solid, especially since it is an existing term, but the definition and examples could use some work as there is a lot of overlap with Broad Strokes. Every Highlander example is a more Broad Strokes than this (the pick and choose which elements of the franchise to work with), and speculation on things that have not been released doesn't help either. And in practice the new Star Trek movies are a reboot, one that simply justifies the reboot via Time Travel.

    Truth is a Soft Reboot as a term has less to do with continuity and more to do with a Retool, hence why they call it a Soft Reboot. The idea is that either the earlier installment wasn't received very well or had a rather conclusive ending that undermines future installments. So in order to proceed they retool the story to the point it almost IS a reboot, but still acknowledges what came before. As such examples would look more like this:
    • Transformers Age Of Extinction follows a very conclusive victory in Transformers Dark Of The Moon, but in the interim Human/Autobot relations were severed and a CIA official sponsored a Private Military Corporation to hunt down all Decepticons still on Earth, but secretly targets Autobots as well and they go into hiding. This scenario creates new human protagonists and justifies the massive change in the Autobot cast as well.
    • GI Joe Retaliation was made in response to the lukewarm reaction to GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra, which was considered too high-tech to the point of lacking tension (everyone had a tool or vehicle to solve the problem), too many characters showing up and dropping out of the narrative and relied too much on slick CG for their action scenes. Retaliation grounds the series by having the main team killed off, reducing the cast to a handful of people and they are short on supplies and resources. It still technically follows Rise of Cobra, but the tone of the movie is MUCH different.
  • November 15, 2015
    Gotta need a "Sliding Scale of Story Rebooting".
  • November 16, 2015
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer the series takes up where the film leaves off, except that it considers the original screenplay to be canon and not the actual film.
  • November 16, 2015
    Comic Books
  • April 9, 2016
    bump for notoriety
  • June 5, 2017
  • October 2, 2016
    The official trailer for Ghostbusters 2016 implied that the new film would be a soft reboot of the series ("30 years ago, 4 scientists saved New York") but the film ultimately turned out to be a complete Continuty Reboot and the line was referring to the actual movie, not the story.
  • October 3, 2016
    Don't know how it would interact with site policy about upcoming works, but according to Word Of God the forthcoming Star Trek Discovery TV show will definitely be set in the original Trek timeline.
  • October 3, 2016
    • Batman Forever nominally takes place in the same continuity as the Tim Burton Batman films, but it completely changes the design of Gotham, does away with Michael Keaton as Batman, introduces a new cast and goes over Batman's origin after Batman 1989 did the same.
  • October 4, 2016
  • October 4, 2016
    The new Planet Of The Apes series is a prequel to the original films. It focuses almost entirely on its own story, but there are a few subtle continuity nods.
  • October 6, 2016
    Super Title 64 Advance games did this a lot.

    • Super Metroid continues the continuity of the first two games, but is essentially a remake of Metroid, taking place on the same planet, with roughly the same plot and the same boss enemies, with a few new surprises.

    • Contra 3: The Alien Wars is basically a remake of Contra with updated graphics and new mechanics. The final Boss Rush of the game is even a compilation of several bosses from the first two games.

    • Mega Man X takes place in a Distant Future which acknowledges the events of the first series, but has a very different plot and an all new set of characters.
  • October 6, 2016
  • October 6, 2016
  • October 7, 2016
    • The Powerpuff Girls 2016 serves as a soft reboot of The Powerpuff Girls. The girls are still heroes, the old villains are still around, but Pokey Oaks Kindergarten is torn down early in the show and the girls are sent to Midway High School (apparently it's a K-12 school), the girls often fight newer foes instead of the old ones, their personalities have noticeably changed, and they now can create Hard Light constructs with little to no mention how they could.
  • October 8, 2016
    Isn't it more technically "starting a new series of a franchise after a long hiatus"?
  • October 8, 2016
    Is this one Rolling Updates?
  • January 3, 2017
    • Fallout 3 technically takes place in the same universe as previous games, but overhauls the visual and aesthetic design of the series to focus more heavily on the Retro Universe aspect of the series and blends aspects of the previous games' stories together in a new setting that is far detached from previous entries. Fallout New Vegas, which was made by some of the developers of the original entries, does some Canon Welding to fit them together better.
  • January 5, 2017
    Anime and Manga
    • Hanaukyo Maid Tai. The series was first animated in 2001, but production problems caused its premature ending. It was rebooted in 2004 as Hanaukyo Maid Tai: La Verite. The second series takes place in the same continuity, with a number of differences (both small and large) between it and the first show.
  • February 25, 2017
  • February 24, 2017
    Comic Books:
    • Spawn: Following Al Simmons' return, the comic instituted a massive retcon that ignores everything that happened between Al defeating Malebolgia and his suicide.
  • March 9, 2017
  • March 9, 2017
    • The Powerpuff Girls 2016 is referred to as a reboot, and has qualities of one, but also seems to be a Stealth Sequel. The girls are physically still the same as they were five and still seem to be in kindergartners (complete with Princess and Robyn still looking the same), yet are implied to be older (around ten or eleven according to the Picture Day episode). The series also assumes fans are acquainted with the original.
  • March 9, 2017
    Is Continuity Reboot really a bad thing that this draft has to be made?
  • June 5, 2017
    31 hats? That's impressive.
  • June 5, 2017
    32 to be exact. This is more than ready to be launched, but has to be Up For Grabs to add all the examples in the comments and then launching this
  • June 5, 2017
    • Thief 2014 appears to reboot the universe, but several details make an allusion to to the original games' (including a very heavy implication that this game's Garret is the Identical Grandson of the previous titles' protagonist) taking place in the past.
  • June 5, 2017
    I'm confused. If "rebooting" by definition resets the whole universe, and we also have Alternate Continuity, is this trope a compromise for both?
  • June 5, 2017
    ^i think it's a non-complete reboot IMO. I guess the X Men Series movie Days of Future Past exemplify this trope. And that reminds me I got another example for this trope...

    Live-Action TV:
    • The restart of Doctor Who in 2005 (after being cancelled in 1989 and having a Backdoor Pilot in the 1996 TV movie) could count as a reboot of the series, focusing in people who never has seen the series before, but also continues the story of The Doctor, this time being the Last Of His Kind.
  • August 10, 2017
    I feel like we can just have the term "Soft Reboot" link to Re Tool, since they're the same exact concept: in-universe, in-continuity shifts to the work's premise, tone, etc. done for real world reasons (actors left, ratings dipped, post-script season, etc.).
  • October 11, 2017
    Would Scrubs season 9 and Once Upon a Time Season 7 count as soft reboots? Both of them are long running existing shows bringing in new casts (with a couple returning vets) and pretty much starting over with new protagonists going through similar situations.