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Continuity Reboot

The writers of a particular work are about to start working on a continuation story, but they have an irreparable issue with the prior continuity.

Maybe Continuity Snarl has made writing an interesting plot increasingly difficult and tedious. Maybe the last episodes of the series made disliked decisions that changed the status quo and subsequent episodes would suffer from the changes made. Maybe the previous series ended and the writers want to start a new series that uses the same characters or takes the series in a different direction or style but don't want to override the ending of the old series. Maybe Continuity Lock-Out is preventing new fans from being attracted to the series. Or a well liked character was killed off and the writers want to use him or her again without making their death look cheap or if the character is a villain, without suffering from Villain Decay.

The solution? Initiate a Continuity Reboot.

A Continuity Reboot is the partial or complete elimination of continuity from any and all previous works in a series. You could say it's the creation of an Alternate Universe that shares virtually no canon with the preceding works in a franchise. It's not a Reset Button or Snap Back: while those revert the continuity to a previous state, a Continuity Reboot starts over, providing the authors with a new clean slate to work on. In one form, as far as later works are concerned everything before it is in Canon Discontinuity (to which it sometimes overlaps).

Frequently, a Continuity Reboot will include one (or more) Tone Shifts, usually to whatever is considered the best money-maker for the target demographic, Darker and Edgier or Lighter and Softer.

A Continuity Reboot itself may be poorly received if handled poorly as it effectively negates any and all character development by a character to start anew and in extreme cases the rebooted character is effectively a completely different character under the same name. If the previous series has already ended and the Reboot is a revival of the franchise then it is more likely to be accepted by audience members.

Sister trope to Alternate Continuity, the difference is that a Continuity Reboot becomes the new main continuity rather than running alongside the previous universe (Example: Batman comics run alongside any Batman cartoon or movie that is currently airing and each are their own universe; this is an Alternate Continuity. The DC New 52 comic are a new continuity that replaces previous DC comics; this is a Continuity Reboot.)

A close relative of the regular Retcon and Cosmic Retcon and Retool. Overlaps with Fix Fic if the reboot's intent is to repair perceived problems with the original version.

Often called a "re-imagining" by squeamish writers not wanting to admit that they are throwing out previous continuity though not always (See Alternate Continuity for exceptions). For when the reboot is given an in universe explanation see Continuity Rebooter. When it just happens to one person it is Ret Gone.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The DC Universe has had a couple of these justified by Cosmic Retcon; most famous is the Crisis on Infinite Earths which was a full-on history-redefining reboot but kept the characters the same; Infinite Crisis, which was more of a tweaking than a full reboot; and the New 52 reboot that changed things even more than the Crisis.
    • The Silver Age was originally started by DC rebooting most of the its lines of comics starting with The Flash in 1956, but later extending to the Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Atom, Wonder Woman, and the Justice Society of America whose reboot included a slight name change to the Justice League of America. Most of these reboots also included Retools as well to make the series more sci-fi oriented. The original continuity that was displaced by these reboots was later shown to take place in an alternate universe, Earth-Two, which would later regularly crossover with the reboot universe, which was dubbed Earth-One.
    • Technically, in the New 52 universe Barry Allen and Booster Gold survive the old universe but only remember their new lives (Barry does apparently remember his time in the Flashpoint universe but not his old life in the original). And the Green Lantern and Batman continuity has been reproduced in this universe, but otherwise it's a complete reboot, although some of the major stories of the past (such as a version of Blackest Night) still took place.
  • Wonder Woman was retooled very heavily several times between 1965 and 1985. They finally gave up and restarted at #1, throwing out all previous continuity. Fans who only knew her from her job as token woman in Justice League/Superfriends didn't understand why suddenly she was ten years younger and could hover, but really, the new Wondie as published was less revisionist than planned. It had gotten that bad.
    • Promised to be averted in the post-Flashpoint relaunch. Writer Brian Azzarello says he doesn't intend to retcon anything or give Diana a new origin, but that he does not plan on revisiting or referencing past storylines, deliberately making it unclear as to just how much of Wonder Wonder Womans's history is still canon. While the series is of high quality, the promise of no new origin turned out to be a case of Lying Creator.
    • Wonder Woman was also rebooted corresponding to the start of the Silver Age in 1956 with issue Wonder Woman #98. Unlike a lot of DC's other Silver Age reboots which completely revamped the characters, Wonder Woman's reboot kept the character mostly the same with a few slight changes, but reset her story to have her leaving Paradise Island for the first time. Among other changes, Wonder Woman was given the ability to glide on air currents and Hippolyta was changed into a blonde.
  • This is actually a plot point in the Grant Morrison run on Animal Man. Because of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Buddy, the titular hero, literally has to reboot his life to avoid a paradox. It's like this: Buddy, the Animal Man, was a Silver Age hero, and thus lived on Earth-Two. After the Crisis, all of the Earths were folded into one, so while Buddy still existed, he was a completely different person but still drew from his Silver Age origin (the accident which gave the original Buddy powers sterilized him, while Modern Age Buddy sired two children after he got his powers, not to mention Modern Buddy suddenly became years younger than the original). In order to prevent the paradox, Buddy had to use a Reality Warper machine to rewrite his personal history so it made sense. Got all that?
  • The Punisher. Garth Ennis basically rebooted the story TWICE. Once staring with "Welcome Back, Frank" and AGAIN with the The Punisher MAX series. While the former basically paints over the previous continuity and ignores it (mentioning some of it only in "broad strokes" like the "Angel-Punisher" arc) the latter is a complete reboot set in its own, new "grittier" reality with no super hero characters (although some characters from other Marvel comics, like Microchip, are roped in - albeit with a more "realistic" spin).
  • The protagonist of Strontium Dog died in a Heroic Sacrifice in a 1990 story, and was then killed again, quite horribly, at the end of the Darkest Star arc. The series was revived in 1999; this revival established that the prior stories were 'folklore', and the new series was 'what really happened'. This lasted for all of one Story Arc before returning to the original continuity with a series of prequel stories.
  • Rogue Trooper was rebooted in 1989 with a new character, new war, and new planet, but the same basic plot (though with a variant story and different facets emphasized). Later on, the two versions were brought together.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes did this twice. The first time was set up by Zero Hour and the second more vaguely by Infinite Crisis. Final Crisis then did it a third time, restoring a version of the Legion mostly like the original.
    • It was later revealed that all three Legions were canon. At the same time. The first Legion is canon to the main DCU. The Zero Hour one is from a universe that was destroyed during Crisis on Infinite Earths which "replaced" the first one because of Time Trapper's interference. The Threeboot universe is Legion from an existing Alternate Universe, Earth-Prime, which Time Trapper tried to replace after the Zero Hour Legion got thrown into the Bleed (or Limbo or whatever).
  • Zipi y Zape: The series continued briefly after Escobar's death, now in the hands of cartoonists Juan Carlos Ramis and Joaquín Cera, who put the characters forward to the 21st century.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog received one as a result of Ken Penders winning a lawsuit for ownership of all characters and concepts he created and Archie not wanting to pay him royalties to use them. In essence, the reboot made all of the video games canon while making all past issues of the comic canon only in broad strokes. While it has been decently received by the fans, some are understandably upset at the way every ongoing plot prior to the reboot was scrapped unceremoniously to make way for it.

    Fan Works 

     Film 

    Literature 
  • When writing the novel of The Worthing Saga, Orson Scott Card didn't have access to his original short stories, and while he did his best to recreate their plots from memory, upon finding the stories again he decided the novel had become too different to fit with them again. Later editions, however, include the best stories in the back of the book as an Alternate Continuity.
  • James Bond got one in 2011 when Jeffery Deaver was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a new Bond book. The title of that book? Carte Blanche.
  • A series of Tarzan novels by Andy Briggs features a setting update and Tarzan at age 18 serves as a reboot.
  • Isabel Allende wrote an origin story Zorro novel, as well as a short story for a Moonstone Books anthology called Tales of Zorro. Jan Adkins wrote a short novel called The Iron Brand in continuity with this novel by Allende. However, due to the sloppy continuity of Johnston McCulley's original Zorro novels and short stories, whether this counts as a reboot stands as unclear. (In the late 1990's, a series of novels with Zorro came out from Tor.)
  • Martin Caidin wrote an origin novel for Buck Rogers called Buck Rogers: A Life in the Future. (Buck Rogers debuted in the novel Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan. John Eric Holmes wrote a sequel to Armageddon 2419 A.D. called Mordred.)
  • In William Shatner's Quest for Tomorrow books, the main character Jim Endicott begins to develop certain powers and, by the third novel, has the power to literally alter the course of The Multiverse. Which he does, by altering his own fate, resulting in him never getting those powers in the prime universe. The following two books are about a different Jim Endicott (who even changes his last name to hide from enemies). While it seems as if certain events may repeat themselves, the fact that Shatner stopped writing the series makes it unlikely we'll ever find out.
  • Andrew Jonathan Fine wrote a new continuity in 2014 called Alouette's Song for the circa 1928 now-come-into public-domain novel 'The Skylark Of Space' from Skylark Series by E. E. Smith.

     Live Action TV 
  • The new Battlestar Galactica is a "re-imagining" of the original series. Notably, only the pilot Miniseries, "The Hand of God", and the two-part "Pegasus/Resurrection Ship" episodes directly adapt events or characters from the original series. Unlike the Original Series, the Reimagined universe itself has no aliens and few planets—the drama is contained to the humans and their Cylon creations alone.
  • The new Bionic Woman is an example of a reboot which was not well-received. Which was NBC's fault for replacing the original writing staff with writers from Friday Night Lights. Because after all, female cyborgs and Texas high school football are EXACTLY alike. There never was much chance they could do it right, because doing it right requires ignoring some of the accepted conventions of "action-adventure TV" in today's climate. To be fair, part of the problem was the producers had the rights to the title Bionic Woman, the name Jaime Sommers, the term bionics, and that was pretty much it. As a result they had no choice but to reboot the continuity and try to put a show together without Steve Austin or Oscar Goldman.
  • The All-New Kamen Rider (a.k.a. Sky Rider) and Kamen Rider Black were originally intended as reboots of the franchise, but they ended up being in the same continuity as the original shows (for Black, the retcon occurred in its sequel series Kamen Rider Black RX when the ten previous Riders guest-starred in the final story arc). The franchise's Heisei era (from 2000 and onward) was a reboot into a new multiverse, of which the previous Riders' single shared universe was not part of... until Kamen Rider Decade reincluded it in the multiverse.
  • The 2009 V series is a reboot of the two miniseries and regular series from the 1980s.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the cable series that ran for ten seasons) is actually a reboot of a local Minnesota series that aired on KTMA TV-23. When the show's creators began making episodes for The Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central) they decided to retroactively treat the KTMA series as a 40 hour long pilot for the cable series. The first national season of episodes for The Comedy Channel is, therefore, treated as the show's first official season. This allowed them to rethink various aspects of the show. Notably, J&TB ended up re-watching nine movies in the third season without mentioning that they'd actually seen them before, unofficially.
  • There was a 2009 miniseries version of The Prisoner that took the basic concept of the Village and a few character names (such as Two and Six), then took the whole thing in a totally different direction (including providing an explanation for the existence of the Village that would be impossible in the continuity of the original series).
  • The Tomorrow People - while both series were created by Roger Damon Price and had the same basic premise, the 90s remake of the 70s children's TV series shared no continuity.
  • Averted by Doctor Who, which was revived in 2005, and which bucked the trend by soon establishing that it was a full out continuation of the 1963-89 series, not a reboot or reimagining. To this day, however, some media continue to refer to it as a reimagining, regardless.
    • However Death Comes to Time seems to be intended as a reboot. Despite coming out after the Movie it appears to follow a different continuity, due to the 7th Doctor being Killed Off for Real.
  • The upcoming Netflix Daredevil series will be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ignore the events of the live-action movie and its spin-off.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • A rare in-company example would be WCW, which was rebooted from scratch when Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo became the new creative team in April 2000. It ultimately didn't work, as WCW was gone within the year.
  • WWE rebooted early in 1984, after the company officially went national and Hulk Hogan became its first worldwide media darling. Anything that happened in WWE prior to '84 is rendered in Broad Strokes.

     Tabletop Games 
  • The New World of Darkness was a reboot of the tangled continuity of the Old World of Darkness.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has gone through several editions, each changing the game engine; although in some cases they've excused sudden changes in physical and supernatural "laws" with variations of A Wizard Did It or recovery from an Apocalypse How, there have been instances in which they simply declared a Continuity Reboot with all past events subject to Broad Strokes.
  • Clue had been establishing a continuity/timeline for some time, before it received a reboot that changed the setting from the 1920s to the modern day.
  • The third edition of Exalted is wiping most of the past two editions (although the writers take pains to tell everyone it's taking more cues from the first than the second) and starting from the baseline. Even the map is being revised, and there are multiple new Exalt types.

     Video Games 
  • The Spyro the Dragon franchise was rebooted as The Legend of Spyro. Skylanders was then partly another Spyro reboot and partly a new franchise launch.
  • After the bombing of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, the switch to Crystal Dynamics also brought in a complete shake-up of Lara's back story and general canon. However, various hints throughout the last few games and background material makes it obvious that most of the previous games did still happen in the new continuity.
    • The Square Enix published Tomb Raider is a complete reboot. The new continuity features a fresh out of university Lara, with very little combat experience. This Lara is very down to earth and though she is still very brave and crafty she still easily succumbs to fear and panic when she gets captured, is alone or is forced to kill. Though this change is not a bad thing in most respects it's still an extremely jarring departure if you've always known her as the semi-cocky, self-reliant, one woman army who almost literally spits in the face of danger.
  • Bomberman: Act Zero was intended to be a Darker and Edgier reboot of the Bomberman franchise. It failed so spectacularly, the series returned to normal immediately after and Act Zero became an Old Shame and Canon Discontinuity.
  • Conker's Pocket Tales was a forgettable game in every sense. Even those who did know about it (and of Conker's Early-Bird Cameo in Diddy Kong Racing) pretend it didn't happen and that Conkers Bad Fur Day is where the squirrel started.
  • Supposedly Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was to be an event within the original Prince of Persia franchise obliquely, giving obscure continuity nods to those familiar with the earlier games. When Prince of Persia: Warrior Within came out, it changed much of the tone and storyline of the game to make the new games into a Continuity Reboot, and since The Sands of Time wasn't linking it to past games, it wasn't too jarring. The 2008 game is another continuity reboot entirely, with a completely different game style.
  • Alone In The Dark The New Nightmare disregarded the story of the original Alone in the Dark trilogy and changed the timeframe from the 1920's to the modern era. The franchise was rebooted again in 2008, although it is implied that Carnby there is the same one as the original trilogy, having been kept in stasis by Lucifer for 70 years.
  • Thanks to an Updated Re-release, Super Robot Wars Original Generations resets continuity with the inclusion of new characters and scenarios not seen in the original Game Boy Advance incarnations, and thanks to Banpresto rectifying a massive flanderization of a certain villainous character, OGs allowed Original Generation Gaiden to occur, wherein said character pulls a massive, well-deserved Heel-Face Turn to help the heroes during their times of woe.
  • Xenosaga is a reimagining of Xenogears, partly because its creator wanted to widen the scope of the story, and partly because he was working for Namco, and didn't have access to Squaresoft's copyrights.
  • Backyard Baseball 2007 is essentially a reboot of the series, even though the writers do not say so. Several characters have been removed and replaced with more annoying characters, and the ones left in have a new backstory (with a few exceptions).
  • The Rune Factory series is basically a re-imagining of Harvest Moon.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a reboot of the Castlevania franchise, set outside of Koji Igarashi's official timeline.
  • One oft-cited possible reason for Armored Core's Capcom Sequel Stagnation is this: Every time they start with a new number, it is always a new continuity almost unconnected with previous games ŕ la Final Fantasy. Example: the Earth-centric original Armored Core, which shifts to Mars-based Armored Core 2, which reboots back to Earth-based Armored Core 3 (the longest continuity with 5 games under this setting), and then the Present Day Present Time Armored Core 4.
  • Turok did one by Disney (seriously, though under their Touchstone brand) in 2008, adapting a more generic Space Marine theme. It wasn't a bad game, with great graphics and some fun gameplay elements, but sadly it only managed to attain So Okay, It's Average status as a whole. Due to the ho-hum response both critically and commercially, the planned sequel was scrapped.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV rebooted the canon established by the Grand Theft Auto III-series games. Though cities' names are the same, they look completely different and no characters from the previous games appear. It also has a Darker and Edgier storyline while still retaining the humor of the series.
  • In the sixth game of the Touhou Project series, the series shifted from the PC-98 to Windows 95. While some things from the PC-98 era were kept, the continuity began anew for the Windows era.
  • Mortal Kombat 9, the first Mortal Kombat game published by Warner Bros., mixes this trope with Alternate Continuity: picking up right where Mortal Kombat Armageddon left off, Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn and thus invokes the Timey-Wimey Ball by sending a telepathic message to his Mortal Kombat self, warning him of events to come. The game thus visits altered versions of the first three games as twisted by a Raiden with knowledge he wasn't supposed to have back then, attempting to prevent Armageddon from even happening.
  • When Ubisoft acquired the rights to the Might and Magic series following 3DO's bankruptcy, they decided to make an entirely new setting (Ashan) from scratch. Might & Magic X implies that Ashan might actually be in the original Verse, but it is still a different world with no story-connections to any of the old worlds.
  • Steel Battalion is set around 2080 (to begin with) and revolves around a conflict between the Pacific Rim Forces and the Hai Shi Dao, mostly involving advanced Vertical Tanks with extreme computerization. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is set in 2082, features some United States soldiers landing on Manhattan in a very Omaha Beach-esque sequence to confront an unknown enemy, and the Vertical Tanks are all now squat-looking things without computers to ease their operation, for microprocessor production has ceased and thrown the world into a Diesel Punk setting. This trope is the only remotely plausible explanation for such drastic changes, besides In Name Only.
  • Epic Mickey made it fairly clear that any Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons that weren't made by Walt Disney no longer exist. Or at least we're going to pretend they don't.
  • Twisted Metal: Head On disregarded the two 989 Studios developed games and continued directly from TM2. Now the series is being completely rebooted on the PS3.
  • DmC: Devil May Cry is one to the Devil May Cry franchise. The new Dante has little to do with his white-haired counterpart, he uses a Whip Sword and has apparently angelic powers. The universe is quite different too. It's stated to be an alternate universe.
  • Pokémon rebooted a lot of things in Gen III. It told that there actually were Dark- and Steel-types before Gen II and even more Pokémon than Gen II featured; essentially, it changed the nature of introducing new Pokémon from that of "new discoveries" to "Pokémon that have always existed but are only just being featured for the first time".
  • The Golden Ending of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia left no room for a continuation without a complete cast change, and there were a number of things in the game that really put off players anyway, such as the gameplay. Thus Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 was made as a revamp of the series with improved game mechanics and a whole new story.
  • It's said that Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was meant to have been a reboot (or at least lead TO a reboot) of the Sonic games for the modern age. However, with how bad the game was thanks to being Christmas Rushed, the only thing the game did was Retcon itself out of continuity, and is also thrown out the window with Sonic Generations which treats Sonic 2006 as canon as well as every other 3D Sonic game.
  • Champions Online took the 25+ years of continuity for the Champions universe and effectively pitched it in the bin. Oh sure, some of the names have been retained, and some of the background elements are the sort-of the same, if you tilt your head and squint. But none of the long term Champions players were fooled by the game's advertising, which was that the Champions Online universe was just the old Champions universe with a new coat of paint.
  • The 2014 Thief reboot, based off of the original Thief, one of the pioneers of the Stealth-Based Game. Interestingly, the new game seems to have a Continuity Nod to the ending of the original trilogy, with Garrett mentoring a young female thief.
  • The Ganbare Goemon series underwent a reboot in 2001. This "New Age" Goemon had a new futuristic setting and made major changes to the characters, including turning Ebisumaru into a Shy Blue-Haired Girl and replacing Yae by a Short Tank named Yui. The reboot lasted for two games but apparently didn't catch on; the Nintendo DS game seems to give it a Take That.

     Webcomics 
  • The main comic of Ultima Java underwent a reboot after a change in the creative team, resulting in the creation of Ultima-Java: History. The original web comic was then rehosted as another universe, and retitled Universe 2. Since then, the Multiverse has been removed but the comic title remains as Universe 2 as a reference to DC comics Earth 2, where the Golden Age originally took place.
  • Melonpool - temporarily. After a lengthy hiatus the reboot was retconned out in favor of a more modest reset of the timeline.
  • Zortic.
  • Sore Thumbs
    • Though now it seems to have SHIFTED BACK to the original timeline. And yes, this means Sawyer no longer has a penis, and that Fairbanks is no longer fat. ... Amongst other things.
  • Another web comic example would be Furthia High, which has been rebooted at least once, while keeping most of the main characters (with some names changed), but with new plotlines and format (a page instead of a strip).
  • Played for Laughs in this Sinfest.
  • Dumbing of Age does this for the Walkyverse, not because of Snarl or Lockout but simply because Willis feels the "what if?" is worth exploring.
  • Fuzzy Things changed from being about adventurer kids in training to somewhat ordinary kids in a sci-fi/fantasy world. Most of the characters retained their previous personalities though, with the exception of Ixiah who changed completely (from a blue-furred psionic semi-Well-Intentioned Extremist the same age as the other kids to Fox's older brother who has his own Middle-school aged group).
  • Voodoo Walrus went through a reboot after only six updates that that completely removed half the cast.
  • Dresden Codak played with the concept, specifically DC's post-Flashpoint reboot, by giving a new set of revised characters here, then mocked when he had a DC-style reboot of his own characters.
  • Commander Kitty was an early webcomic that eventually went offline mid arc. In 2009, it was rebooted completely, with a more focused story arc and a brand new villain.
  • As of 11/24/2012, Ctrl+Alt+Del went through this, along with the use of a Reset Button. Buckley said it was needed to help return the series back to its "video game jokes" roots.
  • Pirate Madeline, made by RandomMode on deviantART, has seen at least two reboots, though some speculate that there has been more. At one point, the comic didn't even get finished with the introduction chapter before it was rebooted once again. It is something that the fans has made fun of at times, but as of the newest incarnation, the author has promised that there will be no more reboots. Or at least untill he actually finishes this current continutity.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 


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