Advertising-Only Continuity

Merchandise-Driven shows need to have toy commercials. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to sell toys to the kids. But the toy manufacturers need to know what the characters look like, as well as the very basic premise, months in advance, so they can create the toys and have them on the shelves by the time kids see the series. The problem is that the plotline probably wasn't included.

Between constant rewrites and the meddling executives, a change in the story is made after the toy is.

It could range all the way from a small but easily made mistake based on Common Knowledge, to something that would hit the Fandom Berserk Button on the media's forum. But either the advertiser(s) didn't notice or didn't care, or they don't think the kids will.

This will probably involve Fan Myopia, but please try to make it understandable to even non-fans.

See Misaimed Marketing for further examples.

Examples:

  • Acclaim: A kid playing with the Acclaim wireless remote for the NES flips back from his chair as a pair of arms from WWF WrestleMania attempt to grab at him, then is pushed by strong currents of air as he hangs on to the chair, then dodges a monstrous green spiked tail and back flips away, then flips the controller in the air, catches it, and shoots out lasers from the controller.
  • The Avengers: In Avengers: Heroes Arise, the Avengers team up with the Harley Davidson riding Road Force to rescue Hawkeye from a warehouse full of Baron Zemo's monsters. Unlike in Thunderbolts, Zemo no longer hides as a villain, and works with a Masters of Evil team consisting of Mr. Hyde, Taskmaster, Tiger Shark and Whiplash.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: The Avengers Quinjet has Captain America riding a motorcycle in the Hasbro version, and Iron Man riding a motorcycle in the Mattel version, instead of Black Widow.
  • The Batmobile from Batman and Batman Returns has OnStar, despite the potential risk of revealing Batman's identity.
  • Captain America: In the Glaxo, Inc. sponsored comic Captain America Meets the Asthma Monster, the Asthma Monster fights with a weapon that causes asthma-like symptoms. Captain America fights the Asthma Monster's gang in Captain America: Return of the Asthma Monster.
  • Captain America: Civil War: The commercial for the Titan Hero figures shows Hulk in the team during the fight with Crossbones.
  • Combo Man: In Combo Man #1, Rick Wilder eats a Combo after being zapped with energy, becoming Combo Man, a superhero with the powers and visual appearance of a combination of Marvel Comics heroes and villains.
  • Crash Bandicoot: A man in an Aku Aku mask is apprehended by police at a Piggly Wiggly convenience store. A man in a Crash Bandicoot outfit drives a truck through Washington, loaded with television sets and PlayStation consoles, looking for Nintendo headquarters and a "plumber boy", eats at a diner and walks out, backs up the truck at night into Joseph J. Feldman's driveway and harasses him on a loudspeaker, harasses kids at a Pizza Hut with a loudspeaker and is offered a job, locates Nintendo headquarters and harasses the office with a loudspeaker until being escorted by security, goes through airport security and dumps out a bunch of inventory, tries to put a large item through an airport x-ray scanner, harasses Brad and his girlfriend at a movie theater with a loudspeaker with Sweet Tooth and Lara Croft until Brad is convinced to play PlayStation games with Lara, harasses a Martha Stewart expy with a loudspeaker on a lawn tractor with Sweet Tooth driving, takes motorbike lessons from Robbie Knievel, takes swimming lessons from world champion swimmer Mark Spitz and complains of shrinkage, takes skydiving lessons, drives a limo and attempts to pick up chicks, continues harassing an old woman from the same limo, participates in roller derby, gets a tank stuck in traffic and gets a ticket, interrupts a military camouflage mission and gets captured, harasses an injured patient at a hospital, and harasses an employee and a customer at a King Auto Supply store. A man, in a Crash Bandicoot suit without a visible face in the suit, harasses an ostrich, a wakeboarder, a motorbike racer, and a skateboarder, and is identified in a Police Lineup by a group of monsters.
  • Daredevil: In the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association sponsored comic Daredevil vs Vapora, Daredevil fights a sentient humanoid cloud of gasoline vapor.
  • Many Italian commercials for Dragon Ball merchandising in the early 2000 showed Goku screaming "SUPER TRANSFORMATION!" in order to transform into a Super Saiyan.
  • Dragon Quest I: The Dragon Warrior, an armored knight riding on horseback, is tasked by King Loric to gather inventory items and use commands to prepare in facing the Dragon Lord.
  • The existence of Environment Specific Action Figures often causes this to happen, where the merchandiser uses some Misaimed Marketing and seriously doesn't consider the plot. Such as The Flash using a Flashmobile, or Batman wearing a green costume in Gotham city.
    • Special mention goes to the line of Street Fighter G.I. Joe figures Hasbro put out in the 90's, which included things like high-tech vehicles and weapons despite the entire premise of the games revolving around hand-to-hand combat.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial:
    • An Elliot expy approaches a gazebo at night when an E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial box is mysteriously tossed at him. He picks up the game, and plays it with his mom on the Atari 2600.
    • During Christmas, a bright light shines through the window of a house decorated for Christmas. The front door opens, and a short extraterrestrial wearing a Santa outfit comes in from the snow, alerting the dog. The extraterrestrial points at a Christmas present under the tree and opens its wrapping with telekinesis, revealing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600. Inserting the game into the console, the extraterrestrial nonchalantly begins playing. The dog notices a boy and girl emerging from the bedroom door and walking down the stairs with great anticipation.
  • Fantastic Four: In Fantastic Four: Trapped in the Data Vortex, the Fantastic Four go Inside a Computer System as the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform helps thwart the data slowing efforts of M.O.D.O.K. and the corrupted data monster Datazilla.
  • Final Fantasy VI: In the US, Mog is a casting director looking to find only the toughest monsters. In Japan, Terra appears in Shibuya, riding a Magitek armor and tearing up the street.
  • Final Fantasy IX: Zidane, Garnet and Vivi run through the streets, chasing a magical Coca-cola bottle cap that activates a fireworks display.
  • The Flintstones:
    • Fred and Barney's love of Winston cigarettes is never acknowledged on the show.
    • Fred's longstanding grudge against Barney, for taking reasonable quantities of Fruity Pebbles and/or Cocoa Pebbles cereal, which Fred is quite possessive of, in order to survive and thrive in the Stone Age, as part of a peacefully coexisting tribal community, has not been well documented on the show, where Fred's hard working family man personality is exemplified.
  • Ghostbusters: At a grocery store in the city, closed for the night, an employee stocks the shelves. Dancing to the Ghostbusters theme playing on his headphones, the employee carries a box of Hi-C towards an aisle full of Hi-C, where there is another box full of Hi-C. The employee sets the cardboard box he was carrying down on the floor and reaches towards the box. The box opens by itself, a glowing green light emanating from it, as Slimer bursts forth, and the employee screams. Then, Slimer screams, and backs up into the shelves of Hi-C, knocking over cans of the stuff as the employee trips and falls back over the stack of boxes. Remaining on the floor, the employee, with one foot resting upon the box, sips Hi-C among the rest of the Hi-C drink boxes scattered about, and exclaims, "Wow!"
  • Godzilla: The Trendmasters toyline Godzilla Wars Power-Ups shows Godzilla, Rodan, MechaGodzilla, and Mecha-King Ghidorah wearing enormous suits of armor with projectile weaponry.
  • Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Micro Machines release accurate versions of ships and vehicles from a licensed series, and also release four-wheeled vehicles for characters who have no reason to be driving, such as The Avengers, Star Trek and Star Wars.
  • Incredible Hulk: Sleepy's Hulk Custom Comic has The Sleepy's Man helping The Hulk by fighting Nightmare.
  • Joust: A man plays Joust on the Atari 5200 while a caged bird starts chirping. Two knights mounted on large birds emerge through the walls and joust. An egg appears. The man transforms into a vulture person.
  • Justice League of America:
    • In Craftsman Bolt-On System Saves The Justice League, "The Technician" uses a Craftsman power drill to stop "The Key" and his robot henchmen.
    • In Subway/Justice League: Famous Fans, super villains are defeated by professional athletes teaming up with the Justice League, thanks to the delicious power of Subway.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby's Dream Land: Kirby is compared in a superhero contest to "Dashing Super Guy". Kirby inhales his entire body, and spits him out as something horrible.
    • Kirby's Adventure: Kirby flexes his muscles in front of body builders, tosses a man out of a saloon in a black and white The Wild West, engages in Flynning on a staircase, travels in a tornado in a black and white hurricane, eats a man alive, and imposingly emerges out of a giant television screen in front of a gathered crowd of onlookers in a black and white world, before merging into a colored image of Kirby's Adventure on the over sized television screen.
    • Kirby's Avalanche: A man undergoes a police interrogation to identify a pink marshmallow man that forced him and his friends to play Kirby's Avalanche.
    • Kirby's Dream Land 2: Kirby, Rick, Kine, and Coo are scowling tough guys roughhousing some Hell's Angels.
    • Kirby Super Star: A kid undergoing body expansion is rushed to an emergency room for TMK, Too Much Kirby. The doctors roll him into an observation room with others who have their bodies similarly expanded. The nurse pops one of the kids with a needle, and he flies around like a balloon.
    • Kirby: Canvas Curse: Kirby has a relationship with an enormous finger.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: A Coke Mini commercial features Ant-Man stealing a can of refreshing Coca-Cola from Dr. Bruce Banner's lab. The Hulk chases Ant-Man down the streets of Manhattan, causing severe property damage.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • In the Guiding Light episode "She's a Marvel", Harley Cooper of Springfield, Illinois becomes the superhero Guiding Light. She appears with a different origin in the tie-in comic story, A New Light, in an Intercontinuity Crossover with the New Avengers.
    • Hostess ads, about villains being defeated by Delicious Fruit Pies, were long considered non-canon in Marvel Comics, until the villain Icemaster was introduced in Thunderbolts, the villains Blow Dryer, Flame Thrower, Frizone, Goldigger and Impercepto were referenced in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four, and the villains Chairman, Demolition Derby, the Fly, Home Wrecker, Hotshot, Human Computer, June Jitsui, Larcenous Lil, Legal Eagle, Photoman, Printout Man, and Simon the Evil Swami appeared in Fin Fang Four Return!.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake has a codec conversation with the Colonel about the Ford Focus SE for driving around Shadow Moses Island. Snake fights Psycho Mantis after hearing the specifications for the Ford Fusion Titanium.
  • Metroid 1: A man in a futuristic suit plays Metroid with the NES Advantage controller while sitting on a large chair. His television set teleports him to a world of action packed flips and dodging.
  • Mischief Makers: Two kids enter a taxi. The taxi cab driver starts insanely ranting about elements from the game, and turns to reveal eyes from Animeland. Both kids run out of the cab. A boxed copy of the game is on the dashboard.
  • Puzzle & Dragons: A man enters a subway car, finding a crowd of people backing away from a fierce dragon. The man holds up his arms in a defensive stance, with his smartphone in hand, blocking the dragon's fiery breath. By playing Puzzle & Dragons on his smartphone, he enchants someone with blue energy, who charges at the dragon and is singed by a second blast of the dragon's fiery breath. He enchants a skateboard with red energy, held by a woman wearing red, who charges forward with red skateboard in hand, enchants a pizza box held by a man wearing green, who has a woman hold the box as he throws enchanted green slices of pizza, and enchants the purse of an elderly woman, who swings her yellow enchanted purse about wildly, and their combined attacks defeat the dragon. After the battle, the five who participated in the battle sit next to each other on the subway seats, hanging out.
  • PlayStation 2: In 2078, the PlayStation 9 spheroid opens to send electronic spores to tap directly into the adrenal gland. Features improved retinal scanning, a mind control system, and telepathic personal music.
  • In one of the earliest Power Rangers toy commercials, they had Zordon call for the rangers to morph by saying, "It's Transforming Time!"
    • Another example from the original series was a tie-in comic for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers used the pilot's name of Zoltar instead of Zordon, spelled Rita Repulsa's name with a second s and gave them all different last names (although Word of God would not confirm their last names till years later).
    • All of the toys, promo art and tie-in comics released during the original run had the Rangers wearing costumes that included logos of their respective dinosaurs on their chests. This idea eventually made its way into Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie. Also, Goldar had wings (in the premiere he had them briefly; they weren't there when he was made to grow to fight the Zords in the climax, or ever again in season one - outside a blink-and-miss bit of Stock Footage Failure from the Japanese version in an episode that was All Just a Dream anyway. Yeah, he got his wings back in season two, but in season one, "Why does Goldar have wings in EVERYTHING but the actual show?!" was a question for the ages right alongside the power coin symbols on the suits.) While Goldar's situation was corrected by a change to the show character instead of the toys, MMPR suits with chest symbols remained confined to the Non-Serial Movie, and MMPR toys that actually look like the MMPR suits only debuted this side of the turn of the century.
  • A Power Rangers Zeo commercial gave the villain's name as Queen Machina instead of her husband, King Mondo, and had them operating out of the original command center when they were actually operating in the underground Power Chamber.
  • A Power Rangers Time Force one had the Big Bad, Ransik, searching for them with a Time Machine when it was the opposite way around, and the rangers constantly mentioning the evil Cyclobots as the reason they went back in time. (In the actual show, Cyclobots are Ransik's Mecha-Mooks.) And in the toy commercials during the series, Ransik has a never-elsewhere-seen sidekick instead of any of the other actual villains.
  • Big Bad Beetleborgs had a commercial which claimed that the bad guys and the borgs were aliens from another planet, when they were actually kids who wished to become the comic book heroes, the Beetleborgs.
    • Another Big Bad Beetleborgs commercial had generic mutants represent their enemies.
  • Most BIONICLE ads and promos fall under this, particularly the Toa Mahri ads that showed some sort of machine attaching their masks and gills before they go underwater. While one of the books explained that the machine was just cleaning them up, the Toa Mahri's gills are supposed to be a permanent anatomical feature, and they couldn't even breathe air at the time the commercial took place, yet their submarine was clearly filled with air. LEGO released numerous other online animations and games that more often than not took a very Broad Strokes approach to the story, likely confusing many kids in the process, because the actual story was only told through the books and comics at that time.
  • RoadBlasters: Matchbox toys and playsets had their own story about Turbo Force fighting the Motor Lords, with some very different vehicles than the arcade game, such as the Vehicle Armor Redesign and Modular Intelligence Transport.
  • The Simpsons: The Simpsons family tend to eat wholesome, home cooked meals, and outside the show, proudly declare their hoggish love of brand name foods and other products in multiple languages.
  • The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants: Bart is told to go to bed, but stays up and plays The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants in his room while struggling with a blanket and ignoring screams from Homer.
  • Spider-Man:
    • In an ad for a Magic Snake puzzle, Magna Mind, a thief, obsesses over solving a Magic Snake puzzle, and is stopped by Spider-Man.
    • In the comicbook ad "The Amazing Spider-Man in the Free the Cap'n Mystery", Spider-Man confronts the Sogmaster, who had previously left Cap'n Crunch in prison in the Cap'n Crunch commercial "Tidal Sog".
    • Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse collects PSA stories including the anti-marijuana story Fast Lane, and the anti-smoking story Spider-Man, Storm and Power Man.
    • The Toy Biz Arachniphobia toyline includes the Lizard/Man-Spider hybrid Man-Lizard, Hobgoblin/Spider-Man hybrid Spider-Goblin, and Morbius/Venom hybrid Vampider.
    • The 1995 Fleer Ultra Spider-Man Arachnophobias cards include the Puma and Rhino hybrid Claw-Hide, Doppelganger and Shocker hybrid Doppel Shock, Mysterio and Lizard hybrid Myzary, and Vermin and Vulture hybrid Scavenger.
  • Spyro the Dragon:
    • Several ads for the first name has a burnt sheep going around town telling people Spyro is a menace.
    • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! has what looks like stop-motion snowmen from a holiday commercial. One commercial pulls back to reveal that Spyro has torched a snowman's head off because he made the mistake of Bullying The Dragon, literally. Another in a parody of The Blair Witch Project, a snowman is talking into his camera while running from Spyro, who caught him at the end. Another has expies of Davey and Goliath, the Davey-expy is bothering Spyro while the Goliath-expy warns him not to, Spyro then head-butts the boy and torched his butt.
    • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: Spyro is attacking Japan.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario Bros.: Luigi, in his red plaid shirt, drops his plunger on the floor of an industrial plumbing facility and avoids enemies coming out the pipes. Exasperated, Luigi calls out, "Mario, where are you?", as a giant crab claw grabs his right arm. He runs through the facility and calls out again, and the giant crab claw grabs his neck. Another claw emerges from a pipe and presents both the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 versions of the game. Luigi retreats into a pipe, raising a white flag in surrender.
    • The Nintendo Cereal System — Mario hops on three children whose heads become television sets, and they become Trapped in TV Land, going through Stage 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. Mario encounters some sprites, and they become marshmallows, while the kids find Link in The Legend Of Zelda and call him Zelda. Link encounters some sprites, and they become marshmallows. One kid devours a spoonful of cereal while racking up points in his glasses. Mario jumps around a table showing a nutritious breakfast. Mario jumps around the kids, who are eating cereal with their television set heads. Mario hops on to the front of the cereal box and Mario and Link return to their respective worlds.
    • Dr. Mario: A man with a shrunken head sings David Seville's "Witch Doctor" while flashing back to the Witch Doctor he encountered, who is also singing David Seville's "Witch Doctor". Both the NES and Game Boy versions are in the Witch Doctor's hut. Both the man and the Witch Doctor play against each other with two Game Boys connected by a link cable. The Witch Doctor jumps out of his hut and starts dancing and chanting as a bonfire explodes. The man explains, after beating the Witch Doctor at the game, the Witch Doctor shrunk his head.
    • Super Mario Bros. 3: A large crowd of people dressed in blue, white, black, and red chant "Mario!" as Mario's face is visible from space, covering much of North America.
    • Yoshi's Egg: Yoshi rampages through the city, casting a large shadow on the streets. Yoshi turns out to not be that tall. Then, a Goomba, Blooper, Boo, and Piranha plant compress into an egg, and Yoshi hatches out of the egg. Yoshi finds a kid on a park bench, and the kid says, "Hey, Yoshi!"
    • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins: Wario's Hypnotic Head convinces the audience that he is the master, and Mario is the enemy. Wario convinces the audience not to let Mario collect the six golden coins or reach the palace. Wario's Hypnotic Eyes convince the audience to obey Wario, and destroy Mario.
    • Yoshi's Island: A man, eating at a diner, engorges himself and re-enacts that one scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
    • Super Mario RPG: Three piranha plants emerge from a city rooftop and start dancing and singing.
    • Mario drives through a Mario Kart 8 course in a Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV, steps out into realistic resolution, and watches Luigi slip on a banana peel, or Peach jumping over a green shell.
    • Mario drives a Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV through Stage 1-1, steps out in realistic resolution, and dies from coming into contact with a Goomba. In Super Mario Maker, this is referenced with a Costume Mario.
  • Happens all the time in Transformers. Sometimes it's relatively minor, like a movie Jazz figure recolored as an homage to G1 Jazz being explained in his bio as having been revived by Ratchet, or Beast Machines quietly expanding the small band of surviving Maximals. Other times it's more complex, like how the early Beast Wars toys' bios set up the series as a direct continuation of G1 on modern-day Earth, with Optimus Primal and Megatron being the same characters as G1 Optimus Prime and Megatron (which would later be contradicted by the TV series). In extreme cases, such as the current Kre-O sub-line, on-package bios and commericals may be the only fiction available.
    • TFWiki.net likes to invoke this when Hasbro applies the Transformers brand name to transforming toys made for a different franchise, such as Star Wars, which makes for amusing pages where the editors pretend to genuinely have no idea Darth Vader has been in anything else.
    • TF Wiki takes it a bit more seriously when it comes to packaging bios. See, if it's officially produced material it's not 100% dismissable, even if it's so not what happened in the show. These tidbits - where again, like Kre-O, maybe it's all we have on a non-show character - are called "micro-continuities." In a corner of The Multiverse, events like movie happened and also NEST has a squad of Autobots and non-feral Allspark mutations we didn't know about helping them fight the 'cons (Several non-sentient vehicles in the films have transforming toys whose packaging gives them something akin to Flavor Text. By TF Wiki rules, while these vehicles actually being these characters is not true in the movies themselves, it may constitute a "micro continuity" where the plane Optimus jumps out of is Stratosphere, the truck that Mikaela used to get an injured Bumblebee out of harm's way is Longarm and did it himself, a bike seen in Mikaela's garage is Brimstone, at least one Sector Seven dune buggy is Dune Runner, etc.)
    • The "Electric Train and Battle Set" depicts a battle between blue and silver non-transforming robots, utilizing a series of train cars turning into a Hawkfighter jet, Proton Laser Cannon and Weapon Center.
  • A lot of the marketing for Digimon: The Movie refers to the Digidestined being kidnapped by an evil Digimon, which is a subplot from the third movie (The film was edited together from three Short Anime Movies) which was cut from the final product.
  • The commercial for a line of "battle-scarred" Gundam action figures featured the RX-78-2 getting rescued from the Zeong by... the GP-02 Gundam Physalis, which wasn't built until some three years after both of the former units fought each other, to say nothing of what happened with the GP-02 itself.
  • After the success of Aliens, many different Alien related action figures were released with little or no connection to the original film, including the alien-animal hybrids Arachnid, Boar, Bull, Cougar, Crab, Gorilla, Mantis, Panther, Rhino, Scorpion, Snake, and Swarm. The most ridiculous example was the Alien King; how it's involved in the alien reproduction system is a mystery.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987):
    • Ads for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal featured The Turtles using their Ninja Nets. Those Turtles. Always using their Ninja Nets.
    • The Kung-Fu Tournament Fighters toyline, a tie-in In-Name-Only to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, with an Action Figure File Card and appearance unrelated to any of the three games.
    • The "Mutations" toylines have transformations from mutant form to human form, turtles transforming into oversized turtles, or in the "Mighty Mutations" series, a dump truck.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: In Germany, Raphael walks into a men's locker room and goes full frontal.
  • Wizards And Warriors: While a kid is playing Wizards & Warriors, Kuros opens the door to his room, stabbing at some monster from the forests of his world. He raises his sword and shouts, "triumph is ours!" as a tentacle reaches into the room. Kuros urges the kid to play Ironsword, preparing him to face the evil Malkil. Kuros leaves the fate of the world in the boy's hands, and goes back through the door to his own world. When the kid opens his front door, he finds his dog, and a mysterious puff of smoke.
  • X-Men:
    • Blockbuster's Special Edition Blockbuster Video Kidprint comic Be X-Tra Safe with the X-Men warns the reader not to trust costumed freaks.
    • The Stridex X-Men Marvel Collector's Edition introduces John Dee, a protégé of Magneto. The X-men convince him to join, and he is never heard from again.

Alternative Title(s): Plot Sold Separately

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AdvertisingOnlyContinuity