main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Discontinuity: Literature
A good book series can be a treat to read, but even long-running franchises aren't immune to the dreaded Fanon Discontinuity demon, as these cases show.

  • The Fifth Book of Gargantua And Pantagruel, allegedly written by Rabelais, may be the most impressive example. People began doubting its authorship ever since its first appearance during the Renaissance. The conflict only really came to a conclusion in 1994 with the help of Mireille Huchon's annotations and arguments. However this does not resolve all issues since this part of Gargantua's adventures seems to have been written through a totally different perspective which does not always fit too well with the saga's previous books.
  • Many of the readers who read the last book in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series now want to forget that he ever wrote an ending to the series. To be fair, King does warn readers not to proceed onwards.
  • Many Science Fiction fans refuse to acknowledge any Dune books not written by Frank Herbert, despite this ending the series on a massive cliffhanger. They choose to follow Muad'Dib's philosophy, instead: "Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what's incomplete and saying: 'Now, it's complete because it's ended here.' " Some go even further and ignore books after Children of Dune or Dune Messiah, or even accept only the original novel.
    • It must be acknowledged that even Herbert himself broke down on continuity a couple of times.
    • Some fans simply believe that Brian and Kevin CANNOT MEAN TO END LIKE THAT.
    • Several fans use the non-canon (but Frank Herbert-approved) Dune Encyclopedia's take on the history of the universe because, among other reasons, it averts the Robot War aspects.
      • However, the Robot War was mentioned in the appendix to the first book, which is considered canon by every Dune fan.
      • It's probably better to say that the Dune Encyclopedia took a less-cliched approach to the Robot War aspect - the original books implied (and the Encyclopedia outright stated) that the Robot War was purely ideological (humans who hated robots against humans who loved them), while the prequels portrayed the Robot War as your typical 'human slaves against robot oppressors'
    • It should be noted that the reason why any books not written by Frank Herbert himself are not considered canon is not that the new books suck, but because there are so many blatant contradictions that it doesn't take much logic to assume the new authors are making it up. An example is that the new authors have written a plot point about the main character, Paul Atreides, having been born on the planet Kaitain and had many adventures on other worlds. This is a contradiction with the originals, when it was stated in the first book, the first chapter, the first paragraph, the very first sentence, that Paul was born on Caladan and had never been anywhere else before the events of that book.
      • And there's the whole "Leto the First's BFF is a robot-man that, at the time, would have caused Caladan to be RAZED FROM ORBIT by every other noble house due to the whole 'Machine enslaved mankind, so we don't even use calculators' mentality".
  • While searching for more books featuring Hannibal Lecter you may come across two books called Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. They are an illusion and have never existed.
  • Many fans are of the opinion there are only four (or possibly three... or two) books in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. Either option means Arthur has a chance of living Happily Ever After.
    • Perhaps a more justified attitude in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe than some others: there is no one canon. The different iterations of the story are famously contradictory and complicated.
    • It is written somewhere (maybe in Salmon of Doubt) that Adams was very depressed while writing Mostly Harmless and intended to write a sixth book, reversing the ending, before he suffered Author Existence Failure.
    • Now that there is a sixth book that reverses the ending—And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer—the discontinuity is excised entirely or expanded to include the sixth book, depending on who you ask.
    • Many believe that the first two books said all that needed to be said. The idea of the series being a trilogy hadn't yet been conceived, prior to the success of the second book. The event from the second book actually only being the final chapter of the original radio series and not yet a sequel. Therefore, the original radio series actually did consider the events at the end of the second book to actually be The End.
  • Some fans of Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series regard only the first two books in the series as occurring. Dead/Alive, Lost Souls and Dead Town did not happen.
  • Terry Pratchett has stated that the (unnamed) Patrician in The Colour of Magic is Havelock Vetinari (though written by a worse writer), but since a) he doesn't act much like Vetinari, b) it's a little dicey timeline-wise, and c) it's hard to believe that Vetinari could ever, in any alternate timeline, have been an obese man who threw wild parties and ate candied jellyfish, many fans choose to believe that the earlier Patrician is one of Vetinari's predecessors (Snapcase or Winder).
  • Depending on the Harry Potter fan, some may completely ignore the epilogue to the last novel, completely ignore the last novel, or completely ignore the last two novels, either in order to "preserve" the characters in the state that they found most attractive or to prevent the characters from ending up in the wrong pairings. There's even a commonly-used Fan Fic abbreviation - EWE, for "Epilogue? What Epilogue?"
    • Bizarrely, many authors keep the Epilogue and everything else in canon — and then write fics with alternate ships anyway. Apparently the half-dozen identical children with awful names made something of an impression.
    • Though they will admit the truth if pressed, many Potter fans still like to believe that Sirius Black is living happily on a farm somewhere with other animagi.
    • Another group of fans accept the books but firmly deny J. K. Rowling any right to discuss what happened to any characters after the end of the books.
    • Fanon is somewhat divided on whether or not to take anything said by Rowling in interviews and Q&A sessions as canon, since they've resulted in more than one quite obvious Ass Pull.
      • There are some aspects, however, that are almost universally ignored. For instance, there exists all of one major Next Generation fanfiction that acknowledge McGonagall having retired by 2017. And even then she comes back.
    • Whether or not Pottermore should be canon for most of the supporting and minor characters, as many fans suspect their biographies were written after the fact. Particularly with regard to aspects never even hinted at in the books.
      • Much of the information on Pottermore is from JKR's personal notes that she wasn't able to include in the books due to the Law of Conservation of Detail, indicating it is indeed canon.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Jedi Prince young adult novels (also known as The Glove of Darth Vader after the first book) are refused to be accepted as ever occurring by fans, helped by only two points from the entire series ever being brought up again, ever: the concept of Human Replica Droids, and Duro being a wasteland, polluted to the point of being uninhabitable by industrial waste.
    • The New Jedi Order series had an enormous number of fans rejecting it outright, mostly revolving around claims of making Star Wars needlessly Darker and Edgier. This opinion was pushed well into the majority after the Swarm trilogy and the Legacy of the Force series, each considered Fanon Discontinuity for their own reasons, with only a small minority still holding out after events such as Mara Jade's death. Fate of the Jedi initially looked to regain some of the lost fans, but then served only to further diminish their numbers.
    • Before NJO, individual opinions on what was considered Fanon Discontinuity or not was vastly varied between individual fans, ranging in extremes from only discounting obvious pieces (such as the Jedi Academy trilogy and The Courtship of Princess Leia) to ignoring absolutely everything set after The Thrawn Trilogy.
    • Even among those who accept a lot of it, you'll be hard pressed to find an Expanded Universe fan who doesn't ignore at least one aspect of continuity. The novel The Crystal Star is generally considered the worst Star Wars book ever, thanks to its slow plot, out-of-character actions, and general weird crap, and the writers seem to agree.
    • There is also a divide on whether the material building on the Clone Wars time period is even part of the EU, since it contradicts quite a bit of earlier material like The Thrawn Trilogy which had the clones, including clone Jedi, as enemies the republic barely defeated. This also extends to the prequel trilogy itself.
    • Of course, there's always those that ignore the Expanded Universe completely.
  • The sequels to Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama are generally left out of existence by anyone who happened to read them.
  • A number of fans prefer to deny the Enderís Game series kept going after Speaker For the Dead. Others ignore anything after the original, still others discount the Ender-focused sequels but include the more recent Bean-focused series, and others acknowledge the four original books but ignore the Bean-focused sequels and more recently written Ender books.
  • The Drizzt books, like any long-running series, have things that some fans just won't acknowledge, and things that other fans won't acknowledge.
    • For example, there are those who think Salvatore should never have had Wulfgar come back from the dead, even if it meant another author doing so, and probably more poorly, or the Spine Of The World novel never being written. Others think Wulfgar should never have died anyway.
    • There are those who think that Drizzt's attitude since about Starless Night on has just been a big emo joke he's played on his friends, and those that apparently believe his playful, half-crazed personality from the first trilogy was a mask he wore for the world.
    • Some don't believe that it took something like ten years after Wulfgar's death for Catti-brie and Drizzt to go to bed together, and some think it's a trick and never happened at all, and some can't believe that either the relationship or the marriage happened so quickly. More recently, some just don't understand why Salvatore would go to the trouble of putting them together and setting up a possibility for her to live a very long life—i.e. magery—only to marginalize her character for the last two books, hand her a Distress Ball, use her as a plot device to put the characters where he need them to go, and then kill her and put her in a heaven that Drizzt won't even get to go to. Especially when he could have avoided all that and just taken her magic away and had her die of old age before the new era in 4th Edition Forgotten Realms.
  • The various cast members of Saturday Night Live (including John's brother Jim) agree that Wired was no John Belushi's life and that it was all lies.
  • "The Mazarin Stone" (adapted by Arthur Conan Doyle from his play "The Crown Diamond") gets this treatment by Sherlock Holmes fans, for it is one of only two stories that are narrated in third-person, breaking the long tradition of Watson as the biographer (and the rare examples of Sherlock narrating his own adventures), with an Idiot Plot of trying to recover the stone - via the Villains showing off the stolen goods right in the Great Detective's home after he switched places with a wax dummy of himself. Granted the dummy was a Chekhov's Gun since "The Empty House", but still!
    • Many Holmesians/Sherlockians discount the Holmes-narrated ones.
    • Some have argued that everything after 'The Final Problem' was invented by Watson. More conservative fans have argued that the most of the stories in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes never happened.
    • The Final Problem, in which Doyle tried to kill off Holmes after becoming sick of his own brain child, got a new story written to show he survived the plunge due to the MASSIVE Fan Revolt, and that his Sherlock Stories were getting him more money than his other works.
  • Many fans consider Eclipse the last book of the Twilight series, to the point that there's a LiveJournal community about it.
    • Some casual fans who like the first book (even if it's a Guilty Pleasure) consider it the only book of the series.
  • Scholars believe parts of the Ramayana were not written by Valmiki and instead interpolated by later authors. Regardless, the part where Rama sends Sita into exile on the basis of an overheard conversation, after she's long since proved her fidelity by leaping through fire, and while she is pregnant with his twins, after spending the entire plot of the epic rescuing her... didn't happen.
  • Most fans of the Dragonriders of Pern series consider any and all Green and Blue riders heterosexual unless specified otherwise, Word of God on the subject be damnednote 
    • Many fans also dislike some of Todd McCaffrey's books... The ones that were only written by him, to be specific.
    • The fandom also tends to ignore the revelations of Masterharper of Pern, on the basis that all it added to Robinton's character was a pile of needless Wangst.
    • Some fans even choose to disregard everything about AIVAS. It was never discovered and Pern continued fighting Thread as usual for hundreds of years, thank you very much. Some fans are so militant as to ignore EVERYTHING written after the first two trilogies.
  • Evan Wright's Generation Kill has a fair share of military personnel who describe it as either embellished or outright fiction.
  • While August Derleth's contribution in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos can't be denied (he invented the name "Cthulhu Mythos", and helped to popularise Lovecraft's work), many people consider many elements he added into his version of the Mythos as Fanon Discontinuity, as they often went completely against Lovecraft's vision. For one thing, he tried to introduce the concept of good vs evil into the Mythos (while Lovecraft himself always maintained that good and evil are concepts created by humans and cannot be applied to godlike alien beings).
    • Not to mention his "elemental theory", in which he associated the various Great Old Ones and the Other Gods (he never realized distinction between the two) with the four Greek elements, no matter how little sense it makes. For example, he associated Cthulhu with Water due to his octopoid appearance and underwater prison, handily forgetting that water is the only known substance that completely blocks his telepathic powers, and that he's trapped under the sea. And a lot of fans who realized that this makes no sense, but not that the whole elemental theory simply doesn't fit into the stories try to rearrange the creatures' positions in the chart, or work with the five Chinese elements, instead.
      • A few fans even argue that the four elements wouldn't have any meaning to entities which, for the most part, aren't even made out of matter as humans understand it.
  • Some fans of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum refuse to acknowledge the existence/validity of those written by other authors after his death. This group included Jack Snow, the author of two of the later books, who included no references whatsoever in them to the works of Baum's previous successors.
  • Some Warrior Cats fans like to believe that the first series of six books is the only series.
    • Others think that it stopped after the second series. The Seasonal Rot of the third series and the rather...controversial mystical turn it took probably contributed to this.
    • ... and some Ashfur fans like to believe that the series ends right before Long Shadows.
    • And some may think the whole SkyClan thing never exists.
  • A lot of Inkheart/Inkspell fans refuse to accept the existence of the atrocity that was Inkdeath.
  • Ardneh's Sword never existed for many fans of Empire of the East and the Swords series. Especially since it contained several obvious and absurd retcons.
  • A few fans of Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy chose to ignore the middle and last book completely, only accepting Way of the Shadows as canon. This is mostly because of a little sloppy characterization and not one, but two cases of very annoying girlfriends.
  • Some of the foundational fantasy series are notorious for this. For instance:
    • It is widely agreed that the original Dragonlance Chronicle Trilogy (Dragons of the Autumn Twilight, Winter Night, Spring Dawning) happened. It gets muddled after that: some refuse the Legends Trilogy completely while some acknowledge that but refuse the two Second Generation novels. Some accept the first Second Generation novel but refuse Dragons of the Summer Flame (especially since bits of it retcon many aspects of the original backstory, such as Raistlin having a daughter he doesn't remember because of a memory spell.) while some accept both and say that's that. Since there are other novels adding on to the story, fans are divided on which to include and exclude.
    • Further mention goes to the two books meant to chronicle the early days of Raistlin Majere. Opinion is widely divided on where they fit in the general continuity, if they fit in the general continuity and if they can be actually accepted to exist at all.
  • A few Maximum Ride fans have ignored the Trilogy Creep by deciding that only the first three books are canon. The fact that the continuing stories basically became an Aesop about global warming didn't help much; neither did the fact that Patterson said he planned to only write a trilogy.
    • Not to mention that the last book is a glaringly obvious Ass Pull that is little more than a reskinned recap of the series.
  • Some Percy Jackson and the Olympians fans choose to ignore The Lost Hero in its entirety.
    • There's even some that chose to ignore the last part of The Last Olympian, choosing to end the book right after the Underwater Kiss
  • There are many, many, many, many, MANY fans of The Hunger Games who choose to disregard the events of the third book entirely and come up with their own conclusions to the story, triggered by Mockingjay's arguable Wangst, Character Derailment, and Romantic Plot Tumor.
    • Some even bypass the second book and leave the story be at the end of the first book, Left Hanging as it is.
  • In common with the other long-running series mentioned, very few Anne Rice fans acknowledge the entire Vampire Chronicles series. Just where the line gets drawn varies, but fans generally fall into two camps: those that believe the series ended with Queen of the Damned, and those that acknowledge everything up to the point where Anne Rice started the Crossovers with the Mayfair Witches. The major point of contention seems to be when precisely Lestat became a God-Mode Sue and Boring Invincible Hero (note that "if" he did is not even brought into question). But it's worth noting that not even the most diehard fans accept Blood Canticle. Speaking of the Mayfairs, an awful lot of fans pretend that series ended with Lasher, and a significant minority refuses to accept anything but the first book. Tellingly, neither set of fans is happy with the VC crossovers.
  • Some Alex Rider fans say that Alex died at the end of Scorpia and the other four did not happen, not because they were bad, but because fans like the realism of the books and refuse to believe that Alex survived a shot to the chest.
  • Fans of The Chronicles of Amber and Roger Zelazny's friends (like George R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman) usually don't want to talk about John Gregory Betancourt's Dawn of Amber prequels. Setting aside the relative quality of the works, one of their reasons is that Zelazny, while having no problem with writing for Shared Universenote  had said that Amber was his and he never wanted to turn it into a franchise. After his death, the literary agent of his estate interpreted this as meaning that Zelazny desperately wanted somebody else to write more Amber books.
  • Many fans of Isaac Asimov's original Foundation trilogy pretend that there were no further novels after those — and no prequel either.
    • No one seems to acknowledge the ones authorized by Asimov's estate after his death. For good reason.
  • A portion of the Animorphs fandom likes to disregard the series' ending and Rachel's death, or at least the Bolivian Army Ending finale at the end of book 54, mostly because the existence of the villain necessitating such an ending was only introduced a couple pages before the end, and any hints at anything making such an ending necessary only a chapter or two before the end.
  • There are a number of people who are ignoring the third book in Provost's Dog trilogy by Tamora Pierce due to varying (from mild to outright extreme) levels of Character Derailment. One of the most popular characters in the series is Tunstall, and for good reason. He's a Genre Savvy Gentle Giant who's devoted to his job, his comrades, his Puppy, and his girlfriend. He's never offended by anything, gets along well with pretty much everyone, and he likes growing miniature roses. For the first two books. In the third, Mastiff, he's surly, alcoholic, terrified of magic, acts like a dickhead to everyone for no real reason, and has completely shed his Genre Savvy tag. That's not even getting into his Face-Heel Turn where he murders a child and attempts to kill Beka and another child. Because he wants to become a nobleman. No, really.
  • Since acquired early by many fans of the franchise, Mass Effect: Deception has been effective immediately dismissed by members of the BioWare Social Network forums from canonicity along with producing 456 pages of hatred and a book burning video. BioWare and Mass Effect fans are notable for rarely uniting about anything related to their beloved franchise, making this a very rare moment.
  • Some fans felt that Ghost Story completely and utterly destroyed The Dresden Files due to the way certain characters handled Harry's death.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space series has a few spots some fans would like to drop. Ringworld Throne is one fans would like to forget about. The "... of Worlds" series coauthored with Edward M. Lerner and released in the 2000's has its detractors for attempting to tie off strings the fans would have rather left hanging.
  • Fans of Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed insist that there are no sequels.
  • Very understandably, fans despised the ending of The Younger Gods by David Eddings, and so quite a few just ignore the book in its entirety.note 
  • When 343 Industries, the new owners of the Halo franchise, announced a new series of Expanded Universe books written by Karen Traviss, many fans were skeptical, since Traviss was pretty infamous among the Star Wars Expanded Universe fandom for Writer on Board tendencies. Sure enough, the same thing happened with the first of her books, Halo: Glasslands, which demonized the once-morally ambiguous character Dr. Halsey in a straight up villain and distorted nearly every "good" character to hate her. As a result, many fans discount the book as part of the canon. Even the Halo wiki Halopedia! While it still records the events of the book as part of the canon, it rewrites them in a particularly passive-aggressive way that allows them to reinterpret what was depicted. Just look at this excerpt from the Catherine Halsey article.
    Halopedia: Many of those unfamiliar with the internal dynamics of ONI and the SPARTAN-II Programnote  have come to interpret Halsey and her work in a highly negative light. [...] Such views often have their basis on information provided by the Office of Naval Intelligence,note  which has frequently used highly selective or outright false information to shift the blame for some of ONI's more questionable decisions on Halsey alone.
  • There are several James Bond fans who completely discount The Man with the Golden Gun as the final novel in the series and instead treat You Only Live Twice as the finale.

FilmFanon DiscontinuityLive-Action TV

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy