Sometimes, creators want to give their long-running series
a fresh start, so they decide to make a Continuity Reboot
. However, they sometimes don't want to just make a completely new reality for their series, instead making the reboot an actual part of the continuing storyline. In cases like this, one tool the creators have is to use a character to explain the reboot. Hence, the Continuity Rebooter
A Continuity Rebooter
is a character who, by some form of applied phlebotinum, causes either an Alternate Continuity
to a work to be formed or the current continuity to be replaced with a new one. The character, whether intentionally or accidentally, changes his reality in such a way that the world becomes a fundamentally different place.
However, this trope doesn't refer to a character doing this as part of an Elseworld
or What If?
story, as those are non-canonical. It's also not any event which just lasts a little while and is eliminated with a Snap Back
or the use of the Reset Button
. A Continuity Rebooter must cause a long-lasting change in the series' continuity or create a long-lasting and well-explored alternate continuity to qualify, and that change must be part of the main canon. A series revolving around Time Travel
doesn't count, since, well, that is a fundamental part of the plot (so no, Back to the Future
isn't an example). However, a series that doesn't normally
involve time travel and uses it as a device to change continuity would count if the change sticks.
Another factor in a character being a Continuity Rebooter is that the Continuity Reboot
is NOT a complete one. The previous continuity is not wholly discarded, simply modified radically. In fact, a major plot point common to Continuity Rebooters is that the Rebooter remembers
the previous reality. This also allows the series' creators to bring back fan-favorite characters and ideas from the previous reality to the new one, or even to bring the old reality back wholly (although never immediately). The new reality depends on the events of the previous one to exist, it's not invented wholecloth (like, say, an Ultimate Universe
Basically, a character is a Continuity Rebooter if:
- a Continuity Reboot or Alternate Universe is formed,
- the reboot can be specifically attributed to the character's actions,
- the previous continuity is not wholly discarded and the new reality depends on events from the previous one, and
- the change sticks and is not immediately eliminated.
Usually, the character's mucking with the series' continuity is the plot behind a Crisis Crossover
, and he uses the Timey-Wimey Ball
or some kind of magic or cosmic plot device
for the change. The character can alternatively be a Reality Warper
who somehow changes his universe's events.
MASSIVE spoilers to follow:
Anime and Manga
- Enrico Pucci in Stone Ocean, Part 6 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. He reboots the universe, leading to Part 7, Steel Ball Run, which is set in the 1890s like Part 1, but with drastically different characters and situations.
- DC Comics has had a few of this kind of character, usually using a Crisis Crossover as the point for the changes to occur. The changes tend to be very long-lasting. Examples include:
- Marvel has a few characters of this stripe too, although the changes are nowhere near as wide-ranging as DC's and are usually limited to alternate continuities, with a few exceptions:
- Legion in Age of Apocalypse. Legion travels back in time to kill Magneto, but kills Professor Xavier instead. The resultant world's... not a nice place.
- Onslaught and Franklin Richards in Heroes Reborn. Onslaught apparently kills the major heroes of the Marvel U, but Franklin Richards actually uses his powers to transport them to an alternate reality, then brings them back.
- Scarlet Witch in House of M, causing the Decimation of the mutants, which is the cause of many following events in the Marvel U.
- Mephisto (to MANY a fan's consternation) in One More Day.
- Sonic and Dr. Eggman become this in Sonic the Hedgehog. Eggman is the one who makes the initial changes ("Sonic: Genesis", Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide) and Sonic's the one to put it back. However, both times Sonic does it, he messes something up (the second time wasn't his fault, though - Eggman interfered.)
Live Action TV
- Spock and Nero in the reboot of Star Trek. Spock's failure to prevent a massive Negative Space Wedgie from forming causes him and Nero to go back into the past, where Nero wreaks havoc with the timeline. Every change from the original continuity to the rebooted continuity is attributed to Nero's late-24th century Romulan cargo ship showing up in the early 23rd century.
- Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer functions this way. She was introduced as a character in Season 5, and as soon as she appears, it's retconned that she's Buffy's 6-years-younger sister, and Buffy has always had a younger sister. Unusually, Dawn doesn't remember the alternate reality, and neither does anybody else (except possibly the people who cast the spell creating her). However, insane people see Dawn as an energy being, not a little girl—and this includes Dawn's mother, when her brain tumor starts making her irrational.
- Raiden in Mortal Kombat 9. At the end of Armageddon, Shao Kahn is triumphant, and the universe is headed for destruction. In a last act of godly influence, Raiden sends messages to his past self to try and avoid the Bad Future. This explains how the game is a remake of the first three games, yet a proper sequel at the same time.
- Shu Shirakawa in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden. His Neo Granzon causes the heroes to travel through time thousands of years, resulting in the world being a wasteland(as the heroes were not there in the past to save it).
- Tatsuya in Persona 2. At the end of Innocent Sin, the world is basically on countdown to the apocalypse, and Philemon offers the main characters the chance to have their memories erased and time rewound to avoid it. However, Tatsuya, at the last second, relents on losing the memories of his comrades, and so the continuity of Eternal Punishment forms, in which Tatsuya is the only one who remembers what happened in Innocent Sin and Nyarlathotep has another chance at destroying the world.
- Serge in Chrono Cross. When young, he was attacked by a panther, and at that moment the universe split in two: his current reality and another reality in which he died from the panther's attack. A big part of the game's plot is WHY he's so important to both universes that his near-death experience causes such a dissonance between them. He also reboots the events of the previous game, as his existence and actions actually cause Crono and his friends' actions in the first game to have been all in vain.
- Lezard Valeth in Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria. You actually discover in the game that the Lezard you've been using is actually the previous game's Lezard, who traveled back in time to put his plan to make Lenneth his into motion from MUCH further back than in the original timeline, hence the game is already a reboot from the moment you start playing. Even Lenneth herself eventually appears and mentions how Lezard's causing changes in the timeline, and joins the past heroes in an attempt to stop him.
- AZ from X and Y is revealed to be this in OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire. His use of the legendary weapon was implied to have created an alternate timeline, one in which he did and Mega Evolution exists, and one where it did not, Generation 6 and pre-Gen 6 respectively.