Discontinuity: Theatre

Fans found these discontinuities in the published scripts of plays. Of course, a theatre company that wants to perform these plays today might revise the script, removing the discontinuity.


  • Going back a couple hundred years, the ending of King Lear by William Shakespeare incited this reaction in fans when the sweet, innocent Princess Cordelia was executed on a whim. Many refused to acknowledge this ending and rewrote it for the stage and publication. Some of the rewrites included mostly Cordelia being saved in the nick of time and being married off to Edgar or another suitor.
  • It shouldn't be surprising that academic studies of Shakespearean canonicity quickly turn to a matter of fanonicity when supposedly unbiased critics bring their own prejudices to the debate. Most notorious is the now-accepted Titus Andronicus, a play so horrifically violent that people debated for hundreds of years over whether the rarefied mind of Shakespeare could have written such a play.
  • The great majority of The Phantom of the Opera fans choose to ignore its sequel, Love Never Dies, due to perceived plot holes, poor characterization, and the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber was the only member of the original creative team to work on it.
  • In his play Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw intended for female lead Eliza Dolittle to leave at the end and go on to become a successful, independent woman, whilst male lead Professor Higgins would forget all about her and pursue his own life. Instead, the vast preference for the audience was to believe that Eliza and Higgins would go on to become a happily married couple, to the point of Shaw's publishing of "What Happened Afterward", an essay in the 1916 print edition elaborating his official statement that Eliza had gone on to marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill and open a flower shop, combined with his arguments as to why Eliza and Higgens were wrong for each other. It did absolutely no good; the subtext of romantic attraction between the two leads was just too powerful for the theatre-goers to ignore, and every adaptation of Pygmalion since has swung towards more overtly romantic endings. Even the actors who played the parts of Eliza and Higgins thought the implicitly romantic ending was a better one, with the first actor to portray Professor Higgins in particular telling Shaw he should be grateful that they discarded his original ending.
  • Our American Cousin was last performed on April 14, 1865. We all know why it hasn't been seen since. At least the play itself is available in full online.