Exiled from Continuity

"Hello, kids! HERBIE the robot here. A lot of you are probably wondering why I'm on this show instead of the Human Torch. Well, keep wondering, because I'm not telling!"

Generally when there's a group of works that are all set in the same continuity, characters can (and do) crossover from their home series to other ones fairly freely. Sometimes, however, within The Verse, there are Canon characters which, for whatever reason, can't be used in any other work outside of their "home" series. These characters are Exiled from Continuity. Although they're most frequently found in Comics (especially superhero comics), such characters can also be found in other forms of media. Such characters inspire many a writer to create a Captain Ersatz or an Expy for the character they can't officially use or to try to skirt the issue with a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.

May be a result of Executive Meddling.

Examples

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    Content Reasons 
  • For much of the eighties, nineties, and 00s, Vertigo Comics, as a part of DC, had many characters who originated in or were linked to the main DC Universe, such as John Constantine, Swamp Thing, several characters from The Sandman, and others. While they were technically in DCU continuity, and made token appearances there every now and then, they were not allowed to make any significant DCU guest appearances because their series/stories were too dark and mature to risk some innocent kid picking up an issue of Hellblazer after a Hellblazer/ Superman crossover. When Vertigo's shift to publishing mainly creator-owned comics set outside the DCU left most of the affected characters in Comic Book Limbo, the embargo was loosened up during Brightest Day and officially broken by the New 52 rebootnote , with Swamp Thing and Constantine being active members of the new DCU. While the changes in Vertigo publishing policy were the immediate stimulus, it was also recognised that some mainstream DCU titles had come to include just as much graphic violence and horror as Vertigo titles, making the ban appear hypocritical.
    • The Vertigo-character ban led to the creation of several transparent Constantine expies in main-DC-universe comics, such as Willoughby Kipling (who has since met and compared notes with Constantine), Rasputin, and Ambrose Bierce (a Historical-Domain Character who lampshaded this practice by claiming "They give you a trenchcoat and steal your razor. Like an assembly line, really.")
    • Also, Dream of The Sandman made a notable appearance in Infinite Crisis to pick up his recently deceased mortal parents, though the character is never specifically identified. He's also made cameo appearances in JSA, since he had a few connections to the team, and a Halloween Issue of JLA. (Grant Morrison said this was intended as the 1990s equivalent of The Phantom Stranger showing up on the JLA Satellite at Halloween.)
    • The second version of Challengers Of The Unknown, which existed in a sort of halfway-house between Vertigo and the DCU, alongside Fate and Night Force, managed to feature a quick cameo by Constantine during a Superman crossover. The two characters never actually met, though.
    • Kevin Smith also liked throwing in Vertigo references: Morpheus cameos in a late issue of his run on Green Arrow, his Batman makes references to Swamp Thing's once Retconned attack on Gotham, and Fun Land, a Sandman serial-killer with a thing for kids and amusement parks, shows up for a Batman Cold Open. Presumably, he can do what he wants because, hey... Kevin Smith.
    • Death of the Endless had a major role in Paul Cornell's "Black Ring" story arc in Action Comics, with a prominent ad campaign. Gaiman has said that he's a little less leery about giving permission. He however was consulted prior to the issue, and even contributed some of Death's dialogue.
    • Lucifer made an appearance during issues of The Spectre, fresh out of Hell and enjoying Australia.
    • A notable exception was Zatanna, who made intermittent appearances in both the main DC universe and Vertigo titles without any apparent issue (as caricatured in this cartoon). This may have been due either to her essentially light-toned nature even in her Vertigo appearances, or to the fact that most of the time she never had a solo title in either universe.
  • Subverted with Alias; though originally conceived as a stand-alone book with no overt ties to the Marvel Universe (complete with Bendis being made to create a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the original Spider-Woman, due to these mandates), the book quickly became tied into the Marvel Universe due to Bendis incorporating Jessica Jones into the cast of Daredevil, as well as retconning Jones as being a previously unmentioned classmate of Peter Parker. She has since married Luke Cage and has a daughter with him. The entire reason the book was cancelled and relaunched as The Pulse in the first place was because Marvel was growing increasingly wary of having their A-list heroes showing up in a book full of F-bombs and sex jokes. Bendis himself acknowledges this in the letter page of the final issue.
  • The MAX War Machine miniseries is out of continuity.
  • Warren Ellis originally wanted to use Nick Fury, SHIELD, and Hydra in Nextwave. Marvel vetoed it (apparently having Nick Fury inject pureed chicks subcutaneously was beyond the pale), so he invented a host of Captain Ersatzes. Nick was replaced by Dirk Anger, SHIELD by HATE, and Hydra by the Beyond Corporation.
    • Interestingly, Marvel failed to do the same with the heroes of the piece, with the result that even though the series was never meant by the editors to be in canon, Marvel eventually incorporated the Nextwave version of Machine Man into canon with his post-series guest spots, as well as handwaving the Nextwave version of the second Captain Marvel as being from an alternate earth.
    • Later Marvel actually adopted Nextwave into canon, taking the completely derailed, but hilarious, personalities into their mainstream appearances. This was handwaved with something about mind alteration through drugs. However, everything created for the series was abandoned, including The Captain.
  • The DCU's Ambush Bug took a lighthearted look at the DC universe... which happened to be a big no-no at the time, causing his series to be sequestered to its own continuity. The character himself exists within the DCU, and gleefully hops between canon and non-canon at will.
  • Other comedic series may or may not be in continuity. For instance, the Giffen and DeMatteis Justice League America/Europe/International was in-continuity, but the later miniseries Formerly Known As The Justice League and the JLA Classified arc "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" don't seem to be — despite the editor-in-chief saying that they are. Much, much later, a Booster Gold story referenced his Formerly Known As... status ... by saying it wasn't true and he made it up as a prank on Beetle.
  • In the Marvel Universe, there's a whole sub-set of superheroes that live their lives sliding in and out of continuity in varying degrees. Many break the fourth wall regularly and parody other characters whenever they appear in their own series, but are welcomed into continuity with open arms.
    • Deadpool mocks the costuming choices and real world merchandise of the rest of the Marvel Universe but still gets to make guest appearances in X-Men and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
    • Squirrel Girl and the rest of the Great Lakes Avengers have had their own mini-series and one-shots, but apart from their own series they have only been featured in a Deadpool tie-in for Civil War and in ONE panel of the latest Crisis Crossover. Justified because the rest of the team are too weak, and Squirrel Girl is all too powerful to be allowed to affect the Status Quo.
    • Similarly, Slapstick's debut limited series has been completely ignored by Marvel canon — most notably the events of issue #4, where an irradiated bum destroys major portions of New York, attracting the attention of The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the New Warriors, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and other heroes. However, Slapstick himself was recruited into the New Warriors and appeared as a semi-regular character in Avengers: The Initiative.
    • She-Hulk has had several series that either broke the fourth wall constantly or had lots of fun with the legal wranglings of C and D list characters in ways that are never acknowledged in continuity, but she still gets to show up in Hulk and Fantastic Four comics and be treated as a serious character.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, TV Comic's Doctor Who comic stories had such high strange "Who meets Silver Age" moments such as "Dr. Who" teaming up with Santa Claus to save evil goblins from stealing Christmas. (That example just scratches the surface.) He also had two grandchildren named John and Gillian, who were created primarily because TV Comic only licensed the likeness of William Hartnell and none of his companions' actors. Needless to say, we haven't heard much from John and Gillian lately, apart from two contradictory appearancesnote  that both make it clear they never existed in the "real" Doctor Who Expanded Universe in the first place: The Doctor Who New Adventures novel "Conundrum" reinterpreted the TV Comic stories and their characters as being Land of Fiction constructs while the Doctor Who Magazine strip "The Land of Happy Endings" preferred to portray them as a wistful dream on the Doctor's part. (There are some short stories in the Short Trips series of books which take place explicitly in the TV Comics universe that still feature the characters, and a pair of child First Doctor companions with these names appear in the Telos novella Time and Relative, although they are instead written as realistic 60s teenagers.)
  • Marvel's first The Punisher series under the MAX banner takes place in its own continuity, through Castle still has his own ongoing set deeply in main continuity. He still can guest star in other characters' books and encounter superheroes and supervillains on his own, but such appearances in the MAX title were forbidden, with the exception of Nick Fury. The post Civil War Handbook lampshades it a lot:
    "Although recently Castle has escalated his war on crime even further, with record-breaking body counts, he is paradoxically now rarely encountered in the field by any super hero save Daredevil.(...)It’s almost like he inhabits two worlds, one where heroes can capture him and one where they can’t, and he can slip from one to the other with ease."
  • The Doctor is barred from making an appearance in Torchwood on the grounds that children should not be watching the show at all, and should not be encouraged to do so by a cameo from him. His companions Jack and Martha are allowed to show up, his severed hand makes an appearance, and one plot features a major character played by an actor who went on to play the Doctor several years later, but that's as far as it goes. One US trailer for "Children of Earth" actually provides a particularly heartbreaking Watsonian explanation for the Doctor's absence in these Darker and Edgier storylines, when Gwen tearfully admits to the camera that she thinks the reason the Doctor never shows up is that he's disgusted with the Dirty Business Torchwood gets involved in. In contrast, the Doctor is allowed to show up on The Sarah Jane Adventures, and did in both David Tennant and Matt Smith forms (and would have done in Tom Baker form if not for Elisabeth Sladen's death).

    Licensing Reasons 
  • Marvel has had a bunch of series over the years that were integrated into the Marvel Universe, only to be discarded when the licensing stopped. Typically Marvel keeps the rights to the characters who were created specifically for the comic books; these characters sometimes appear in cameos after the main characters can no longer be used.
    • There was ROM Space Knight, who was created to sell toys. The thing is, while the comics series was a rousing success, the toy flopped. Inexplicably, Marvel has never been able to get the rights back. This has the side effect of preventing other comics in which he appeared from being collected in trades - most notably an issue of Heroes for Hire. (ROM has been able to make a few cameos, unnamed, in his humanoid form.)
    • Godzilla had a 24-issue series in which he fought SHIELD, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and countless other Marvel heroes. He then disappeared. Marvel has been able to "cheat" a bit here, though, by having the villain from the series later capture the big G (offscreen) and send him in a mutated mind-controlled form (practically a Captain Ersatz) against Iron Man. Red Ronin, a Humongous Mecha from the series, has made semi-periodic appearances since the series.
      • The SHIELD Helicarrier that was used to hunt Godzilla later appeared in The Incredible Hercules. Like all Helicarriers, it fell from the sky.
      • In later comics, Godzilla does make a brief cameo appearance in his regular form, though he's never mentioned by name. This is called attention to in the Marvel Monsters Handbook, where Elsa Bloodstone is baffled that they don't have a monster profile on Godzilla.
      • After the end of the Millennium series of Godzilla films in Japan, Toho was willing to license out Godzilla, and Marvel took the opportunity to license Godzilla just long enough to reprint the 24 issue series as a single Essentials paperback.
    • The Transformers and the G.I. Joe series were specifically set in Alternate Continuities which were similar but not quite the same as the regular Marvel Earth.
      • The Transformers was initially set on the regular Marvel Earth, with Spider-Man guest-starring in the third issue, although it was quickly shifted to an alternate continuity as the series went from a four-issue limited series to an ongoing title. Likely in reference to how unlikely this was to stick, Nick Fury appeared in one panel and demanded not to have to fight the giant radioactive lizard again. This meant that IDW's reprint TPB series couldn't reprint said issue (a text synopsis was used instead) nor could they reprint any Marvel UK stories involving Death's Head (another Marvel character that appeared in Transformers UK).
      • While Death's Head is unequivocally a Marvel character, replacing the character with newer versions (Death's Head II and Death's Head 3.0) does neatly avoid the original's back story involving him being taken from the Transformers universe to the Marvel Universe via the TARDIS. This causes problems in reprints of the original stories, though the gaps are usually lampshaded as the result of "incomplete" archives. Death's Head may have had a reprieve, however — both Panini in the UK and IDW in the US were able to reprint the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip in which he crossed over, and he appeared in the Kieron Gillen S.W.O.R.D series.
      • G.I. Joe also crossed over with the main Marvel universe on a couple of occasions, but these were tiny cameo appearances. In one issue of GI Joe J. Jonah Jameson happened to ask from a newspaper seller if they carried the Daily Bugle, though the actual character was not referred to by name. One issue of Spider-Man featured soldiers in a couple of panels who bore a striking resemblance to the Joes, though again, names were not mentioned.
      • Of course, since Circuit Breaker's motivation is that she hates Transformers, Marvel has no use whatsoever for her, unlike Death's Head. It seems pretty unlikely that we'll ever see her again anywhere at this point.
    • NFL Superpro, the only character whose entire existence can be considered a Dork Age, was only stopped because the NFL pulled its license. He is still in continuity, and was mentioned in an issue of Marvel Team-up (as just Superpro) a year or three back. Robert Kirkman, writer of Marvel Team-Up, wanted to actually use Superpro in a story, but wasn't allowed to.
    • Micronauts was yet another toy-based comic. In this case, one concept from it, Captain Universe, managed to escape into the greater Marvel Universe. The non-toy based characters have made a few appearances in Marvel under the name "Microns", and one of these, Bug, played a decent-sized role in Annihilation: Conquest, later joining the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Likewise, in reprints of old issues of things like Marvel Team-Up or Marvel Two-In-One, they've had to skip issues that include team-ups with Doc Savage, King Kull, Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane...
    • Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu is a modern day continuation of the Fu Manchu stories with the title character being the rebellious son of the villain. While Marvel can still use Shang Chi, the expired license means the original series cannot be reprinted.
    • Before Panini bought up Marvel UK, the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip was more-or-less part of the Marvel Universe. While both DWM and Marvel still make occasional nods to the shared mythology invented by Alan Moore and others, they can't refer directly to each other any more. Notably, the Special Executive never mention their Gallifreyan origins.
    • During Marvel's run of Star Trek comics in the late-nineties, they put out two issues of a Star Trek/X-Men crossover (one issue with TOS crew, one with the TNG crew), which also spawned a novel. Odds of Storm or Wolverine mentioning that they actually met Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Pretty much nil.
    • Shogun Warriors, a comic that featured Combattler V, Brave Raideen, and Planet Robo Danguard Ace. Not a chance of them showing up ever again, though in this case it's because all three machines were explicitly destroyed after the license ran out. As with the Micronauts example above, the non-toy characters (such the human pilots of the aforementioned robots) survived, and have made sporadic appearances in the Marvel Universe.
  • The tabletop wargame Star Fleet Battles (and its RPG spin-off Prime Directive) is an interesting case; they're only licenced to use elements of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series, but not the actual characters. So in addition to the Enterprise crew never being directly mentioned, the game is set in an Alternate Continuity that lacks Cardassians, Borg, Ferengi, and many of the now-established races of The Federation. On the other hand, it's also the only Star Trek spin-off that still uses the Kzinti.
    • The Star Trek CCG was only able to use characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation onward, since a CCG based around the original series had been licensed to a different company. Subverted in that, when the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" aired, almost all of the original series characters were now DS9 characters too, and promptly got cards.
  • The Milestone heroes were barred from appearing in DC's Blackest Night crossover so the company could avoid possible issues with future reprints. The 2011 DC relaunch had Static moving to New York, presumably as a way for DC to avoid using the rest of the Dakota-based Milestone heroes. Despite this, Static appeared in Justice League Unlimited without much issue, and both Rocket and Icon appeared in Young Justice.
    • While Rocket, Icon, and Static can appear in the television episodes of Young Justice, Rocket and Icon have since been pulled from the tie-in comic. Rocket appeared with Zatanna for a brief scene in issue #20, but when Zatanna reappeared in following issues, Rocket had disappeared. Icon was notably shown on the solicited covers for two different issues, but by publication time, he'd been photoshopped out.
  • DC briefly published a series of titles centered around the Red Circle heroes, who were owned by Archie Comics. Archie has now regained publishing rights to the characters and has relaunched them in their own titles, meaning that DC can no longer use or mention any of the Red Circle characters, even those who interacted with other DC heroes.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel had this problem after the 'Angel' license was dropped by Dark Horse and picked up by IDW. Eventually, an agreement of sorts allowed the use of a couple of characters, and in 2010, at Joss Whedon's request to have everything Buffy comics under one publisher and thus avoid this trope, IDW voluntarily surrendered the Angel license to Dark Horse.
  • In the Stargate Verse, the only Stargate SG-1 characters to appear in the pilot episode of Stargate Atlantis were Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson, even though other characters like Col. Samantha Carter would have made sense given that the new series was very tech-heavy. Producer Brad Wright noted that MGM only allowed them to use pre-existing characters from the original movie for the pilot, although they were permitted to bring the other cast members in for later episodes. Things seem to have gotten straightened out later on because the pilot of Stargate Universe had both Samantha Carter and Walter Harriman from SG-1 making an appearance.
  • The Daleks never made an on-page appearance in the Doctor Who New Adventures because the publishers couldn't afford to pay Terry Nation his royalties. The video game Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror had to replace the Daleks with Controllers, and K-9 with a robotic cat named Splinx.
  • Lord British doesn't appear in newer Ultima games because Richard Garriott took the rights to his Author Avatar with him.
  • The Party Zone features a Cross Over cameo with the party monsters of Elvira and the Party Monsters — except for Elvira, who was not licensed for the game.
  • Leijii Matsumoto is responsible for the artistic designs in Space Battleship Yamato even though the franchise was owned by the late Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the show's producer. Matsumoto can have a ship called the Yamato (with the same exact design) in his own manga such as Galaxy Express 999, but he can't use characters and situations from Yamato such as the Yamato crewmembers, the Gamilas, or Iscandar. Nishizaki, on the other hand, couldn't use Matsumoto's character designs (such as the trademark circular gauges or "potatohead" character designs). Nor could he use Matsumoto's ship designs.
  • Peter Cushing's "Dr. Who" cannot make appearances in most Doctor Who media, especially not visual media - he can't even appear in the show in poster format (scuppering a bit of tasty Literary Agent Hypothesis Fan Wank that would have appeared in "Day of the Doctor") as the BBC do not own the rights to him. Short Trips and Sidesteps contained a short Hammer Horror-esque story with his Doctor and TARDIS - or rather Tardis - crew, but due to being a book it did not use his visual likeness. The story also made sure to use his Tardis team from Dr. Who and the Daleks, where they were named Ian, Barbara and Susan (the same names as the companions from the show itself and therefore owned by the BBC), rather than his team from Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., Louise, Tom and Susan.
    • However, Doctor Who Magazine was able to do a Cushing strip in a special about the movies, perhaps related to DWM not being a BBC title. That said, it remains the character's sole original comic.
  • The Revenge of Shinobi had many parodies of characters like Terminator, Hulk, Batman, Spider-Man and Godzilla, but as time went by, the game was modified to change these appearances, but Spider-Man remained since SEGA had his license for a game at the time, years later when the game was released to modern plataforms, Spider-Man was recolored pink since SEGA didn't have the license anymore.

    Legal Reasons 
  • In the years since the death of Jim Henson, the rights to his various Muppet characters have been divided up among several different companies (key amongst them is Disney's buyout of The Muppets, including the word "Muppet" and the Sesame Street Muppets being granted to the Children's Television Workshop), which affects modern productions featuring the characters. For example, Kermit the Frog doesn't appear much on Sesame Street any more, and the characters from Fraggle Rock are no longer allowed to be identified as Muppets.
  • The SPECTRE fracas in James Bond movies is a good non-comics example. The villainous terrorist organization debuted in Thunderball, a book written by Ian Fleming based on a screenplay he worked on with several other people. One of said people, Kevin McClory, brought him to court in a complicated brouhaha; eventually, it was settled out of court, but the terms prevented SPECTRE from appearing in The Spy Who Loved Me. This is also what led to the Daniel Craig films using the Expy organization Quantum.
    • This legal battle finally ended on November 15, 2013 when MGM and Danjaq, LLC (the owners of the James Bond franchise) acquired the rights and interests of the estate of Kevin McClory (who died in 2008, about ten years after trying to inflate how he much contributed to Bond). It looks like the title of the next Bond movie will be...SPECTRE.
  • The estates of Siegel & Shuster, original creators of Superman, won a court ruling that the concept of Superboy belonged to them. This is believed to have led to the death of one character, the Modern Age clone Superboy, and the renaming of another. Any writer at DC who suggests making another Superboy character will probably be denied, even if their idea is awesome. Even the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon, which was based on the concept of Superboy, instead has a teenage "young Superman" as its star. And the DVD of the '60s Filmation Superman cartoons had the Superboy shorts deleted.
    • It's since been ruled that Kon-El (the '90s clone Superboy) is different enough from the original Superboy ("our" Superman as a teenager) to be used with impunity.
      • Even more, it's since been ruled that Superboy is now owned by DC Comics instead. However, there was the problem of Superman, which started this mess and what many people think is the main reason for The New 52. Since then, it's been ruled that DC owns Superman and his concepts flat out.
  • Big Finish could not use Grace in Big Finish Doctor Who audios because the character is partly owned by Fox. (They could get her actress to voice different characters.)
    • Nor could BBC Books when they started the Eighth Doctor Adventures, which led to a prologue to Vampire Science that hastily established the Eighth Doctor knew another female doctor in San Francisco.
    • Interestingly, the Doctor Who Magazine comic was able to get away with using Grace twice (in "The Fallen" and "The Glorious Dead").
    • And she appears in a 50th anniversary comic book series, "Prisoners of Time".
  • In The Transformers, the Jetfire toy was a licensed reissue of the Bandai VF-1S Valkyrie toy, and the character was to resemble the toy for obvious reasons. However, difficulties with one of the entities involved with Macross/Robotech (It's not clear whether it was Big West, Tatsunoko Production or Harmony Gold who put their foot down) made it obvious to Hasbro, Sunbow and Toei Animation that the character could not be used without a major hassle. Instead, the cartoon featured "Skyfire"... and the comic books used Skyfire but called him Jetfire. Thanks to the multiversal nature of Transformers fiction, none of this is a problem—Skyfire and Jetfire are considered Alternate Universe counterparts who happen to be unusually divergent, and modern depictions tend to feature a "Jetfire" who combines elements of both—but it's still weird.
    • Similarly, issues over the ownership of Death's Head and Circuit Breaker; Marvel ramrodded both into non-Transformers appearances (Circuit Breaker appeared in cameo in Secret Wars II and Death's Head in an editorial cartoon) before they "officially debuted" in their respective Transformers comics to ensure that they own the two characters and not Hasbro, meaning that their issues can't be reprinted by IDW Comics. Which in the case of Death's Head, means that none of his UK stories ("Galvatron: Wanted Dead or Alive" and "The Legacy of Unicron") can be published in the United States (though both stories did see release via comic shops via importing of the UK published trade paperbacks). Circuit Breaker's situation is more complicated, as the first three TPBs had to replace her early appearances with text summaries, though apparently IDW was FINALLY able to strike some sort of deal with Marvel to reprint #72-80 in full come the release of volumes #5 of their reprint series.
  • There has been a pullback of Wonder Woman-related characters due to an obscure clause in the licensing agreements that forbids their use in any project wherein they are not featured in a "starring" role. This has meant that the second Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark, was initially not able to appear in DC's Young Justice. Prior to this, Donna Troy had been barred from appearing in Teen Titans and Wonder Woman was the only Justice League cast member not to appear on Static Shock.
  • Lauren Faust ran into this problem during the creation of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Turns out Hasbro lost the rights to nearly all of the 1980's character names (save for Applejack, Spike, and a few ponies whose names were reused for G3), so most of the main cast of the current cartoon ended up being expies of the originals with the G3 ponies' names.
    • This seems to have improved as Tirek and Scorpan appear in the series.
  • Don't expect to see Deep Jungle, the world based on Tarzan ever again in any Kingdom Hearts games past the first, even in the form of flashbacks or recaps, as Disney is unable to secure the Tarzan rights from the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Of course, the franchise has fully retconned the world out of canon, and most fans claim Deep Jungle never existed, which Disney agrees with.
    • Surprisingly, Disney was able to produce a HD remaster for the original game and retain Deep Jungle, which would be otherwise impossible without cutting the world out. And since some items relating to the controversial world have appeared in coded, it's possible that it's a sign saying that the trope could be averted one day.
    • Played straight in other Disney crossovers, such as Disney Infinity, and the Disney Theme Parks. For all intents and purposes, outside of the Kingdom Hearts games themselves the franchise does not exist.
    • Enforced in the games themselves to a certain degree; Disney has strict rules about how the franchises interact. This leads to both The Stations of the Canon (in that the plots of the levels loosely follow the movies they're based on) and an Alien Non-Interference Clause (in that the natives of each world can't be told about other worlds), so that so people like Hercules, Auron or Mulan, don't go running off with Sora to save the universe. The rule of thumb seems to be that if you're tied to a particular movie, you're Locked Out of the Loop, though some characters get a bit of leeway in this, including The Beast being a partner during Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts I, Cloud, Zack and Auron being plot-critical in the Colosseum stages in 1, Birth By Sleep, and 2, and the TRON level being Hollow Bastion's operating system in Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Avoiding this is part of the reason that the Daleks have at least one obligatory appearance in Doctor Who in any given season of the new series, even if just a cameo appearance as was the case with "The Waters of Mars" in the 2009 specials and "The Wedding of River Song" in Series 6. In the license agreement with the estate of Terry Nation, the Daleks have to make regular appearances of some sort on the show (and Nation's estate has to be given final approval on any Dalek story) or the estate can exercise a clause allowing them to revoke all rights to the Daleks and shop the creatures around independent of Doctor Who.

    Speaking of which, scuttlebutt has it that the Daleks' cameo in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) nearly exiled the creatures from the new series (which began in 2005), for Warner Bros. used them without the approval of the estate, which made them very angry to the point of burning bridges with The BBC; it wasn't until Steve Martin (who would only do the movie if there were Daleks cameos) wrote an apology to the estate that the BBC was allowed usage of the Daleks. In retrospect, this helps explain the near-genocide of the Daleks in the Time War as a legal safety net.
  • The embargo on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel crossovers is a good example of this. When Buffy moved to UPN, Angel remained on The WB, and until the networks came to agreement a season later, no crossovers could be done. This made things extremely difficult when Buffy wanted to meet and talk to Angel after her resurrection. Neither series could use the other network's character, so the meeting had to take place between Sunnydale and L.A.
    • Additionally, by the time the Buffy tie-in novels set in season 3 were being released, Wesley had already left for 'Angel' and that series had the rights to him. So, none of the season 3 set novels feature Wesley at all, only the episode novelizations do.
  • Way back when, FASA had obtained a license to use a number of mecha from three anime shows — Crusher Joe, Fang of the Sun Dougram and — yep, you guessed it — Super Dimension Fortress Macross for use in their BattleDroids wargame. Never heard of Battledroids? That's because George Lucas threatened a lawsuit over the word "Droid". So, the game became BattleTech. Then, in 1994, Harmony Gold complained and threatened a lawsuit over use of the Macross mecha in the game. The problem was that FASA had rights to the miniatures that originally came with the game, which were based on the aforementioned designs. But because of the way they were licensed, FASA did not necessarily have rights to the artwork, which Harmony Gold took them to task over. The battlemechs based on those designs continued to be used (The Warhammer and Marauder are some of the most famous 3025-era battlemechs), but not depicted in images, being dubbed the "Unseen".
    • A year or so ago, Catalyst Game Labs (the game's current publisher) gained the rights to use the artwork for much of the Unseen... except for Macross based designs, which Harmony Gold still retains control over.
    • Another attempt to bypass problems with the Unseen was the Technical Readout: Project Phoenix, which published updated, original artwork for the designs, using the art style for current-era Battlemechs. The different look is explained in-universe as a simple retooling of production lines to match current Inner Sphere tech standards, letting the new Reseen mechs exist alongside the original Unseen designs in the background and still allowing Reseen designs to be used in the art.
  • The prequel film Oz: The Great and Powerful pays homage to many aspects of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz due to its widespread popularity. However, Oz: The Great and Powerful is owned by Disney, The Wizard of Oz was made by MGM (but owned by Warner Bros. due to a complicated distributor change), and the original novel is in the public domain, so Disney could not use elements that originated in the MGM movie like the Ruby Slippers (they were silver in the book), the swirl of the Yellow Brick Road, and even the Wicked Witch of the West's green skin tone (they got around the last one by making it a slightly different shade of green).
    • This was also the reason why Return to Oz, Disney's surprisingly dark "sequel" to the 1939 film, emphasized characters and concepts from L. Frank Baum's Oz books as opposed to the 1939 film. Baum's public domain characters who aid Dorothy in Return, such as Tik-Tok and Belina the Chicken, ended up alienating moviegoers who were otherwise familiar with the characters in the 1939 film, who either didn't appear or were "turned into stone" throughout most of the film. The Scarecrow does appear later in the movienote , as do Dorothy's ruby slippers note , but the reduced emphasis of many of the characters that appeared in The Wizard of Oz, along with the film's nightmarish tone, caused Return to Oz to flop and be mostly forgotten among the wave of fantasy films of the 1980s.
  • In Deadlands, the town of Gomorra was extensively featured in the spinoff game Deadlands: Doomtown. Unfortunately, all IP for the spinoff game wound up being transferred to AEG and because Gomorra was so heavily tied to the game, any reference to the town became a copyright gray area. Realizing they couldn't write about the town any more, future Deadlands RPG supplements from Pinnacle explained that there was "the Gomorra Incident" resulting in the town getting blown sky high with nothing left to tell a story about and nobody left to explain what happened.
  • Knights of the Old Republic was originally going to include Vima Sunrider from the Tales of the Jedi comic series as a companion character, but legal issues with other companies had since developed over the name "Sunrider" and so Bastila Shan, a new character, was created to replace her. Oddly enough, her mother Nomi Sunrider is still mentioned once in the first game, but the creators said it was an oversight.
  • Star Trek Online has this imposed on the game. Because Paramount owns the rights to the movies, they can't use anything from the J.J. Abrams films with the sole exception of mentioning what happened to Spock (as that happened in the Prime universe). To circumvent that, they've created a number of ships based on the Narada (they did originally identify them as Narada-class — presumably, the fact that technically the Narada was from the Prime Universe made it borderline legally allowable) and the U.S.S. Vengeance in theme, but not in look. As well, they also can't use the Kzinti and, as such, created the Suspiciously Similar Substitute Ferasan.
  • In the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 metaseries, Games Workshop ran into some issues with the fifth god of chaos, Malal. Rather than fight John Wagner and Alan Grant for his rights, however, they just dropped Malal entirely and stuck to "the Big Four". Malal has since crept back in as "Malice", who is either a rogue Daemon Prince or a minor deity in the Chaos pantheon depending on which Fan Wank you subscribe to.
  • Thanks to the complex status of Strider Hiryu, which requires the OK from both Capcom and manga studio Moto Kikaku to be used, he was beyond the grasp of U.S. Gold when they decided to create their own sequel to the original. Instead of bothering with that, they simply swapped the sprite's uniform white, named him "Hinjo" and called it a day.
    • This was also the reason he was dropped from the roster in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Fortunately, thanks to all the fan support he received, Capcom decided to work things out and he was finally included in Ultimate.
  • Video games based on Tolkien's Legendarium have long faced similar restrictions from two opposite directions, because the licenses to adapt original literature works and PeterJackson's movies were sold to separate studios. On one side were the games unable to use any of the designs, original lines or likeness of actor from the movies (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit (2003), The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings Online). On the other side were the games unable to include anything from the books that wasn't explicitly referenced on-screen in the movies (The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, The Battle for Middle-Earth). And of course nobody at all has the rights to The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, placing events and characters exclusive to those books permanently off-limits.
    • Eventually, some studios were able to obtain both licenses, allowing for the games The Battle for Middle-Earth II (and its expansion pack) and War in the North to combine the likeness of actors and design choices with various elements that were Adapted Out from the movies. The general consensus is that (quality of the gameplay nonwithstanding) this allows for a much more coherent Middle-Earth experience.
    • Meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings Online is still going after seven years, but its license is limited to The Lord of the Rings and its Appendices only. Rumours are, even The Hobbit material canot be used if it wasn't explicitly mentioned in LOTR as well. This, among other things, prevented the developers from making a proper tie-in to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - players had to revisit Bilbo's path in the "present" days of the War of the Ring instead.
  • Gundam Build Fighters suffered an unusual version of this: its predecessor Mobile Suit Gundam AGE's poor performance lead to the Japanese networks MBS and TBS cancelling their contracts with Sunrise. Thanks to exclusivity clauses in those contracts, none of the Gundam shows that had aired on MBS or TBS within the past five years could be represented in Build Fighters, which covered Mobile Suit Gundam 00's second season and movie as well as AGE itself. Reportedly, the contract on 00 Second Season ended one day before the final episode of Build Fighters aired, which allowed the staff to include Yuuki/Meijin turning his damaged Amazing Gundam Exia into a "Repair" version. As of the sequel Gundam Build Fighters Try, all licensing issues seem to be resolved, as references to AGE (namely Kei Karima using the Vagan Gear SID and a Gundam Spiegel wielding AGE-1 Spallow's combat knife) have begun to crop up.

    Creator Reasons 
  • James Robinson's Starman hasn't appeared regularly since his series ended because Robinson retains control of the character until his death. Jack Knight can still appear, if Robinson gives his okay. (He did write an extra issue of the series as part of Blackest Night, but Jack was conspicuously absent.) Jack's only actual appearances since have been merely background cameos in large gatherings, such as Sue Dibny's funeral.
  • The Endless from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series are blocked by a similar agreement. While Gaiman didn't have anything specific in his contract, he has enough leverage to basically have the Endless be de facto off-limits to the rest of the DCU unless he says otherwise. There is one major exception to this: Destiny, who was created before The Sandman and therefore not created by Gaiman. The fact that these characters (again, with the exception of Destiny) fall so squarely into Vertigo Comics territory also kept them from entering into the DCU much.
    • However, the second Dream did appear in JLA for a story arc (with Gaiman's blessing), and also for a few one-or-two-panels guest shots in JSA between its relaunch and Infinite Crisis.
    • Destiny has appeared much more often since then; for instance, a twelve-issue arc in The Brave and the Bold revolved around the Book of Destiny.
    • Gaiman's version of Death did appear in an issue of Captain Atom while The Sandman was still being published, apparently without Gaiman's knowledge or consent.
      • There was permission but he didn't like what was done, as she only appeared as an "aspect" of Death (the merciful one, compared to Nekron and Black Racer) and she's supposed to be all Death of every kind everywhere.
    • In 2010, Death appeared in Paul Cornell's "Black Ring" story arc in Action Comics, with Gaiman's consent and cooperation this time.
    • With both the Endless and Jack Knight it's not so much that Gaiman and Robinson maintain control of the characters; they don't and if DC wanted they could use the Endless and Jack Knight all they wanted. The "agreement" is more a gentleman's agreement of "we won't use these characters without your approval" based on respect for Gaiman and Robinson and how seminal both of those works are.
  • During her run on Wonder Woman, Gail Simone was denied permission to use Veronica Cale, a villainess created by Greg Rucka. Rucka later allowed Keith Giffen to use Veronica as a supporting character in his Doom Patrol run.
  • Similarly, Simone wasn't allowed to use Cassandra Cain in her Birds of Prey run because Grant Morrison had called dibs on the character for his Batman Inc. series. This led to Cass being entirely absent from the DCU for almost a year, much to the ire of her fans.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series was struck from continuity by Gene Roddenberry sometime around the later films or when Star Trek: The Next Generation was getting started, probably because of its more cartoonish elements and a couple of continuity issues. However, there has been a fan backlash (particularly over Yesteryear, TAS' best episode and one which reveals a lot more of Spock's backstory) a couple of references in Star Trek: Enterprise`s Continuity Porn-laden fourth season, have tried to reverse this.
    • Paramount pretty much considers the series to be canon now after a fan poll overwhelmingly favored its inclusion.
    • Yet they haven't adopted anything from TAS without a Live Action Canon background (outside of a few random shout-outs)
    • It is very doubtful, however, that the Kzinti will ever be appearing in Star Trek again. Especially since Niven has stated that he never intends to license them to anyone ever again.
      • Enterprise did apparently manage to get a provisional okay to use them for an episode. It fell through because Kilkenny Cats was planned to be a fifth season episode — and Enterprise only got four seasons.
    • Plus, it was actually the animated series that first gave Kirk's middle name as Tiberius, nearly two decades before Roddenberry entered it into "official" canon in the sixth film.
    • Elements from "Yesteryear" ended up being used in the flashback sequences in the reboot Star Trek film. The scene with Spock being bullied by his classmates for instance has dialogue that is almost taken word for word from a similar exchange in the original episode.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This was the point behind the epic 1967 serial The Evil of the Daleks. The serial was supposed to depict the true and genuine final end of the Daleks. It was going to stick — because Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks wanted to sell a Dalek show in America. The pilot fell through, and by 1972, the Daleks were back from their long exile from continuity. (This was parodied on a special feature on the DVD of "The War Games" in which two Cloud Cuckoo Lander Time Lords dubbed into the trial sequence cut off the Doctor from showing images of the Daleks 'for copyright reasons'.)
    • The Yeti. Despite being one of the most popular monsters of Troughton's era at the time, the showrunner at the time fell out with the creators of the Yeti (both of whom fell out with each other at the same time as well - over who should have ownership of legendary shit monster the Quarks) and banned the monster from ever being in the series again to avoid giving them any money. Some have speculated that the Cybermen in "The Invasion" were supposed to be Yeti, as they come up from the sewers in a Yeti-like manner and the story features characters from Yeti serial "The Web of Fear". Note that Professor Travers and Miss Travers from "The Web of Fear" are absent from "The Invasion", replaced by Captain Ersatz versions, so as not to pay for rights - and that Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart has received a promotion to the rank of Brigadier. The Yeti do show up in "The Five Doctors" as Troughton's monster to fight, in the mid-1980s. The Great Intelligence (the Hive Queen controlling the Yeti) has made a reappearance in the new series, but the Yeti still didn't - the GI instead started using ''literal'' snowmen instead of the Abominable kind.
    • Some have speculated that the Master, an evil Time Lord created to provide the Third Doctor with an archnemesis, was created to avoid paying royalties to the creators of the virtually identical evil Time Lord the War Chief from Troughton's last serial, "The War Games" - a character with a similar appearance, personality, special power and relationship with the Doctor. Some fans and Expanded Universe material even Fan Wanks that the War Chief and the Master are the same person, and War Chief was just the Master's job title (of course, other Expanded Universe material goes into detail about how they are separate people and fleshes out the War Chief's personality along different lines).
    • The Rani has not made an appearance in the new series despite her character being one of the only well-liked and fondly-remembered creations from a generally forgettable Dork Age. This is in part due to the fact that her creators said they would only allow her to be used if they could write it, which is not likely to happen due to the fact that their writing was a major factor responsible for said generally forgettable Dork Age. (One Russell T Davies-era Cliffhanger provided a mechanism for her return, though nothing came of it.)
    • Doctor Who Legacy has characters added very slowly depending on which actors are granting their likenesses, leading to some odd situations:
      • The Fourth Doctor, despite being the most beloved Classic Doctor, was the last Doctor missing from Doctor Who Legacy due to difficulty obtaining his likeness. Some sources say that this was because Tom Baker was reticent while others say that Tom was excited to be in the game but the BBC didn't want to grant the rights to the "star" Classic Doctor until they knew the game would be a success. Whatever the reason, he was eventually added when "In the Forest of the Night" aired along with a small amount of content based on his story "The Deadly Assassin". Tropes Are Not Bad as the Fifth Doctor, the second last to be added due to Peter Davison being reticent about granting the right to use his likeness, managed to get launched with a whole quest mode with a detailed storyline and a bunch of very popular companions (Rose, the Brigadier and Ace among others), and there are plans to add a similar one for the Fourth Doctor soon.
      • Several characters do not resemble their onscreen counterparts due to rights issues. Brian Williams is modelled after Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams rather than the actor who played the character, and Stormageddon is drawn as a generic baby (since obviously the baby who played him onscreen cannot grant rights). Vincent Van Gogh was originally added in a form that resembled the historical Vincent rather than his portrayal in "Vincent and the Doctor", but his art was replaced once the actor granted the rights - his original artwork was eventually released as a paid download.
    • For a very small and localised example, K-9 was excised from "Destiny of the Daleks" because Terry Nation hated the character and only granted the BBC the rights to use the Daleks if they promised never to pit him against the Daleks. As it is there is a small Surreal Humour sequence at the beginning of the story explaining his absence, written by Douglas Adams, and he does not appear in the main story at all.
    • The "Whomobile", a super-cool retro-futuristic Flying Car that shows up in a couple of late Third Doctor stories, couldn't make an appearance again due to ownership issues - the car was owned and paid for by Pertwee himself. It remained in his possession all of his life, so appeared with him in the More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS documentary and the occasional public appearance, but as soon as Tom Baker shows up he's restricted to Bessie and the Whomobile is never mentioned. Even though you'd think a flying car would be a lot more useful when fighting a giant robot.
  • While there's a lot of series the licensed installments of Super Robot Wars can't use for many reasons, there are two developer Banpresto and publisher Namco Bandai cannot touch by any means: Giant Robo (due of the death of creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama, and its expensive licensing feesnote ) and any series created by Ouji Hiroi, even series that belongs to Namco Bandai and it's subsidiary Sunrise like Granzort and Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru (Hiroi despises Super Robot Wars and swore to never allow Banpresto to include Sakura Wars in a gamenote ).
  • In a similar way, the Queen's Gate Spiral Chaos game excluded Kasumi because Tomonobu Itagaki, Dead or Alive's creator and former director, has an intense hatred of Namco's Tekken.
  • This is the reason for Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog's soft reboot, combined with a helping of Screwed by the Lawyers: former head writer Ken Penders sued to regain use of his characters and reached a settlement with Archie Comics, but instead of being a good sport, he attempted to strong arm Archie into still using his ideas and stories with incredibly restrictive stipulations with the canon & characters. As such, they jettisoned the characters and rebooted the universe, though they still reprint the old comics featuring them.
  • Nas's Stillmatic album has the song "Braveheart Party", which was removed from the album at the request of Mary J. Blige, who sings the chorus. Most fans have never heard the song unless they happened to buy the album immediately after it's 2001 release. It's considered a bit out-of-place, both thematically and in-terms of quality, on Stillmatic(which is a very highly regarded album) so everyone is generally happy to forget this one.

    Commercial/Corporate Reasons 
It is these that really get up in people's rig. These are almost entirely the result of Executive Meddling.
  • The Bat-Embargo in Justice League Unlimited; Batman characters couldn't appear in the series, because The Batman was airing at the same time, and executives feared "confusion". A similar restriction was in place for Teen Titans, although this one was mutual and prevented Robin from showing up on The Batman until the fourth season (which gave us Batgirl coming first). Later, when Aquaman received the failed live-action pilot for the CW, Aquaman and his supporting cast could not appear on JLU either (leading to the creation of "Devil Ray", and, likely, the replacement of Wonder Woman for Aquaman in the plot of "To Another Shore").
    • Confusingly, rights or confusion issues didn't seem to get in the way of JLU using Superman characters when Smallville was airing concurrently.
    • Also, both Plastic Man and Blue Beetle were referenced without appearing on-screen in Justice League Unlimited; neither could appear properly due to licensing reasons. Both characters later showed up in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and even starred in the first two episodes. Beetle eventually became one of the more recurring characters.
    • The Bat-Embargo didn't go over entirely badly though, since it made room for interesting minor DCU antagonists, like Amanda Waller, to appear in animation for the first time. Just goes to show how good writers can work around any problem. Still... not being able to fully complete the Super Friends Mythology Gag of including Scarecrow and the Riddler in the new Legion of Doom was sad, as was the lack of any Ra's al Ghul plots.
    • What makes it even sadder is that the writers had originally planned to do a Birds of Prey episode.
  • The Batman itself wasn't allowed to use either Two-Face, Scarecrow, or Wonder Woman. Its first version of Clayface appears to be a Captain Ersatz for the first of these, the second was almost reversed but fell through (with Hugo Strange having to take the role instead), and the last ended up making the Justice League of America's use of The Smurfette Principle even worse.
  • Not that Bat-Embargos were new...back in the days of the Super Friends, when the Challenge series (with the Legion of Doom) took place, Filmation's The New Adventures of Batman was still on the air. That's why you'd never see Joker or Catwoman on the Legion of Doom. The Joker and Penguin appeared in one episode each of Super Friends during the Galactic Guardians series, after the Filmation cartoon's license on him had run out (and, of course, both had figures in the Super Powers Collection). On the other hand, Riddler and Scarecrow could not be seen on New Adventures (except for the former in the opening sequence, inexplicably in a pink costume).
  • It's widely believed that for many years DC did not allow the character Black Lightning to appear in any DC animation (thus resulting in several expies) because that would require paying royalties to the creators. This seems to have finally broken in 2009, and the character has since appeared in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Young Justice, and a series of DC Nation shorts.
  • Because of the ways that Marvel sold off the film rights to its characters, it is highly unlikely that you will ever see crossover movies (with an exception to be mentioned below). The X-Men (licensed by Twentieth Century Fox) will never be able to be in a crossover movie with the Spider-Man Trilogy (licensed by Sony), nor will Spidey ever be able to fight the Kingpin, or see Ben Urich at the Daily Bugle due to them being part of the Daredevil franchise. Wolverine will never be able to tangle with the Hulk, nor will the Hulk be able to fight the Thing. The X-Men may conceivably cross over with the Fantastic Four (also licensed by Fox) at some point. Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Universal still has film rights to Namor, so don't expect to see him popping up in any Avengers sequels anytime soon. In February 2015, it was finally announced that Sony and Marvel had done a deal that would allow Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a wider range of Marvel characters to appear in Sony Spider-Man films.
    • The major exception to this are characters whose rights remain with Marvel Studios: Iron Man, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, Nick Fury, and others; all the above mentioned have their solo movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (apart from Nick, who appears in every film other than The Incredible Hulk), culminating in 2012's The Avengers.
      • One notable example is the case of Nick Fury, who was supposed to appear in the second Fantastic Four movie. When it turned out that Marvel had the film rights to Fury, not Fox, the writers had to create the character of General Hager as an Expy.
      • Since these films aren't in continuity with the X-Men films, however, the films say that Captain America's shield is made of pure vibranium. In the comics, it's made of vibranium and adamantium, the latter of which belongs to Fox due to its use in the X-Men films.
      • Particular oddballs in the licensing issues are Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver who, being equally known in comics as mutants and as Avengers, have their film rights licensed to BOTH Marvel Studios and Fox; the catch is that Marvel Studios cannot have them be mutants in their films and Fox cannot reference the Avengers through them. In Avengers: Age of Ultron it's explained that they got got their powers due to being experimented with Chitauri technology by HYDRA, rather than being mutants. On a related note, the MCU spin-off series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has referred to obviously-mutant characters under other names, such as "gifted".
      • Another casualty of conflicting licenses are the alien races the Skrulls and the Badoon; both of which were thought to be banned from the MCU due to being tied to the Fantastic Four rights. This affected the choice of the Chitauri as the invading alien force in The Avengers (funnily enough, "Chitauri" originated as the Ultimate Marvel name for the Skrulls); and Guardians of the Galaxy used the Sakaarans from Planet Hulk instead of the Badoon, who are the team's traditional enemies. It has since been revealed that like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Marvel and Fox share joint ownership of the Skrulls (although the Badoon are still off limits). Skrulls were also mentioned in one of the official Guardians of the Galaxy prequel comics, indicating that they at least exist in the MCU in some capacity.
    • And, of course, according to the contracts for the above licenses, the rights revert back to Marvel if the third-party holders fail to act on them. This is how they got the rights to Hulk and Daredevil back, because Universal and Fox didn't make other movies in time (as was Blade with New Line). Similarly, Ghost Rider and The Punisher's film rights have returned to Marvel since their films series weren't worth it anymore to the previous rights holders.
      • Probably the same reason drove Sony to the decisions regarding the Spider-Man Trilogy movies. Since the development of a fourth episode was tangled in Development Hell and the risk was either losing the license for taking too much time, or rushing to make an extremely disappointing movie (which they'd probably like to avoid after the third), they chose for a Continuity Reboot that started in 2012.
      • An unfortunate side effect of this clause is that even when Marvel gets certain characters back, they aren't likely to use them right away due to A) already having generated a bunch of new properties in the meantime and B) only getting these franchises back in the first place because the previous movies failed at the box office. This is why despite the fact that Marvel has regained Blade, the Punisher, and Ghost Rider, they aren't scheduled to appear in the MCU anytime soon. Also why Daredevil is getting a comparatively less expensive (and less risky) Netflix show rather than a movie. Funny enough, as of May 2015, Daredevil is the most critically lauded entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    Kevin Feige: Whenever a character comes back to us, it's usually because the other studios don't want to make the movies anymore - and that usually means the [previous] movies may not have been particularly well-received. They all have potential, but we're not going to say 'We got it back - make it.'
    • Marvel made a deal with Sony and regained the animation rights for Spider-Man at the end of The Spectacular Spider-Man's run. Hence, due to only regaining the animation rights at-the-time recently, Spidey wasn't able to appear on The Super Hero Squad Show despite one: having toys on the SHS toy line and two: most every other prominent Marvel character appearing in the series as well.
      • Spider-Man can really suffer from this. For the many different Marvel cartoons out there, Spider-Man rarely ever crossed over for any team-ups. He did formally appear on the 70s Spider-Woman cartoon series, but outside of that? Borderline Lawyer Friendly Cameoes on X-Men and Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes. In fact, in an episode of Fantastic Four, viewers can see a cameo of Scarlet Spider instead of ol' web-head. Before 2012, if Spidey was going to team-up with another hero, it had to be on one of his shows instead of one of theirs.
    • On the subject of cartoons, Ghost Rider was barred from appearing in Spider-Man: The Animated Series because Marvel had pitched a Ghost Rider cartoon to UPN (the channel that aired The Incredible Hulk), which led to Fox refusing to promote a superhero who could have potentially ended up on a rival network.
    • Interestingly, there were plans for a collaboration between Sony and Marvel at one point. Oscorp Tower from The Amazing Spider-Man was supposed to appear in The Avengers, but the CGI modeling for the building couldn't be completed on time.
    • Video games (at least those in the 6th-7th generations of consoles) were, similarly, not affected by the contracts on virtue of Activision holding the video game rights to the entire Marvel comic book universe before December 2013 as well as those to the Spider-Man and X-Men film tie-ins (and before them, there was Marvel vs. Capcom), with one notable exception...
      • ...namely, Sierra had the game rights to the comic and film incarnations of the Hulk (by proxy of being owned by Vivendi, which also owned Universal Studios, which held the film rights to the character at the time) meant that only Bruce Banner could appear in Activision's Marvel Ultimate Alliance (They did sneak in the Hulk's arm in the FMV preceding the final stage though); after Activision and Vivendi merged into Activision Blizzard, the Hulk was finally released as a Xbox 360 exclusive DLC character, and is an unlockable character in the sequel.
    • Namor was also removed from Marvel: Avengers Alliance when it turned out there were legal issues. All references to his name were replaced with an allusion to "an Atlantean".
    • This extends to costumes and designs as well, since Marvel comics, cartoons, and video games can usually use costume designs from Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but not Marvel films made by Fox or Sony. For instance, in both Avengers Alliance and Marvel Heroes, you can use Iron Man's Iron Man 3 outfit, Captain America and Hawkeye's The Avengers outfits, and The Falcon's Captain America: The Winter Soldier outfit, but not Wolverine's X-Men: Days of Future Past outfit or Spider-Man's The Amazing Spider-Man outfit (Though in Avengers Alliance, Marvel did eventually come up with a licensing agreement with Sony to use Spidey's new costume from The Amazing Spider-Man 2).
    • At long last, in February 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios made a deal for Spider-Man to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe starting in the film Captain America: Civil War.
  • This extends to The Lego Movie, despite Marvel having a successful line of Lego tie-ins. The movie was made by Warner Brothers, which is why you see appearances from Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League, but not Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Avengers.
  • Chapel from Youngblood did not appear in the Spawn movie despite his pivotal role in the comics (he was the one who killed the title character in the first place), since his film rights belonged to Rob Liefeld. The character Jessica Priest was created in his place.
  • Sandman could not appear on Spider-Man: The Animated Series or the concurrently-running Fantastic Four because he was to be the villain in the aborted James Cameron film. The writers attempted to get around the Sandman ban by using Hydro-Man in his place. Electro was the other villain meant to be used in the Cameron film, preventing his use for most of the series, but the film fell through while the show was still running, so they eventually wrote him in with a completely different identity than his usual one, which had the interesting effect of highlighting just how dangerous someone with Electro's powers would be if they used them intelligently, something the ordinary Electro struggles with.
  • Herbie the Robot infamously replaced the Human Torch on The Fantastic Four (1978) cartoon because Universal had the rights to the Human Torch for another project but never used them. It's not the case as rumored that worrying studio executives feared that children would attempt to light themselves on fire.
  • After Disney bought up Marvel Comics, its channels ditched all content based off DC properties, while Time Warner did the same thing with Marvel content on its channels. Prior to this, both Static Shock and Batman Beyond had been airing in reruns on Disney XD.
  • George Lucas has placed an Executive Veto on new Wookiee or Hutt Jedi in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Lowbacca, an existing Wookiee Jedi, was effectively Put on a Bus because of this, and Obsidian had to scrap the plans for making Hanharr a Dark Jedi in Knights of the Old Republic II.
    • It's come to light that there is an extensive internal memo listing all the various species of aliens that are "banned" from Jedi-hood: Gamorreans (pig guards), Sand People (excepting Tahiri and A'Sharad Hett owing to their origins), Ewoks, Vulptereens and other as-yet unrevealed races. The principle reasoning appears to be that these species lack the "mental capacity" to become Jedi. Take that as you may.
  • The contract Big Finish have with the BBC stipulated that all elements of the new Doctor Who series cannot be used in their Doctor Who audio dramas. That didn't stop them from throwing in the occasional implied Continuity Nod and Shout-Out. For example, the framing story for the Companion Chronicle The Catalyst apparently takes place after the Last Great Time War from the new series, which, for legal reasons, they don't explicitly mention. And a Shout-Out to the "What the Shakespeare!" line from the series 1 episode "The Unquiet Dead" appeared in The Kingmaker.note 
    • As of 2015 the ban has been EX-TERMI-NATED, with the new Big Finnish productions featuring Kate Stewart, Jack Harkness, River Song and other new-Who characters. There's even an upcoming boxset entitled Classic Doctors, New Monsters, in which the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors take on the Weeping Angels, Judoon and Sycorax.
  • Initially, the writers of Smallville wanted to do a similar series about Bruce Wayne rather than Clark Kent. They got vetoed because another Batman movie was in the works. This has also prevented them from doing a storyline where Bruce Wayne comes to Metropolis, leading to the recurring 3rd season character Adam Knight (name being a play on Adam West and the Dark Knight nickname) who was a Captain Ersatz of Batman before he was turned evil and Green Arrow becoming a recurring character in seasons 6 and 7 and gaining main character status in season 8. As with JLU, other minor DCU characters have gotten the Smallville treatment and thus have been better highlighted. Interestingly, there's a reference to Oliver Queen as early as the very first episode, implying that they'd seen this coming from the start. Humorously enough, a Batman-origin story-centered tv show was aired in 2014 on FOX.
    • Wonder Woman was also not allowed to appear on Smallville, leading to nearly four seasons where all non-original Superheroes on Smallville were men. Then Black Canary came on board. The final season featured a scene where Chloe Sullivan implied that she had met both Batman and Wonder Woman during her globe-trotting adventures, with the implication that they would end up meeting Clark sometime after the show's final episode.
  • Eggman Nega has been declared off-limits to the Sonic The Hedgehog comic for currently unknown reasons. The character is acknowledged as existing, has been referenced a handful of times, and has even had some build up as an Ultimate Evil, but has to be called Doctor Nega. According to current writer Ian Flynn, it took a lot of effort just to get permission to use that much.
    • It works in reverse too: Sega of America and Sega of Japan have separate copyrights despite being part of the same parent company and nothing created specifically for the comic or the cartoon series it was based on can appear in other mediums. This is why Sonic Spinball got away with cameos from Sally, Bunnie, Rotor and Muttski as the game was made in America.
      • Writer Ian Flynn has stated that, because of these copyrights, he can't use anything from Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie nor Sonic X in the comics, despite Archie making a Sonic X comic and having a brief crossover with the main title and Sonic Universe. This is more due to the fact that both series have more, different copyright holders than just Sega itself - the animation studios (Studio Pierrot and TMS Entertainment, respectively) and the American distributors (the now-defunct ADV Films for Sonic the Movie, and the now-defunct 4Kids Entertainment, whose Sonic X distributions rights were passed over to Saban Brands). However, this was outright ignored concerning Sonic the Movie, as Karl Bollers used that continuity to show Mobius' strange changing. Sega was quite angry about this.
  • The Doctor Who Target novelisations had a rule that no Doctor other than the current incumbent was allowed to be depicted on the cover. This naturally affected almost every single one of the First and Second Doctor books, with a handful of exceptions beyond the point when anyone cared any more. This also affected foreign reprints of the books, leading to many an old-school American fan confused to discover that it had actually been the Third Doctor rather than the Fourth running around fighting dinosaurs with Sarah Jane.
  • Similar to the Bat-Embargo, Harley Quinn was barred from appearing in Season 3 of Arrow because of her role in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. She had been given a brief Cameo in Season 2 (shown only from behind), but future planned appearances were axed once the movie was officially given the go-ahead from WB.
  • Despite (and because of) being the most popular character in Chaos Comics's stable, the rights to Lady Death remained with creator Brian Pulido while the other Chaos! properties were sold. Lady Death is currently being published in her own series by Boundless Comics, while the other Chaos! characters were kept together through several revivals, the latest (as of this writing) by Dynamite. Given how pivotal Lady Death was to the original Chaos! Comics universe, this has led to some in-universe weirdness, like Lady Demon, who started out as Lady Death's split personality, appearing in her own series by Dynamite, and vague references to Evil Ernie's obsession with Lady Death when he appeared in Hack Slash. In the Dynamite revival, Lady Death has been replaced by Lady Hel.
  • The Amalgam Universe was a joint crossover project between DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and so neither company can use elements of it without the permission of the other. This means that Marvel couldn't use "Spider-Boy" characters (Franchise/Spiderman/Superboy mashups) in Spider-Verse and DC couldn't use any Amalgam character in Convergence. In fact, crossover events in general tend to fall under this trope, since any later Continuity Nods that might be made to the crossover will have to be vague by necessity.
  • The Spider-Man storyline Spider-Verse promised to show off "Every. Spider-Man. Ever." but there are a few that couldn't be used. Eight were mentioned, but seven were confirmed - the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man from the Spider-Man Trilogy, the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man from The Amazing Spider-Man Series, the Spider-Man from Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, the Spider-Man from The Spectacular Spider-Man and Spider-Boy, Spider-Boy 2099 and Spider-Clone from the above-mentioned Amalgam Universe. The Live-Action and Cartoon ones are owned by Sony and the Amalgam characters co-owned by DC Comics as Spider-Boy is one-half Spider-Man, one half Superboy.
    • However, in Spider-Verse #2, the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Men were indirectly mentioned as being part of the army of Spider-Men (one Spider-Man mentioned a version of Spidey who "looked just like the guy in Seabiscuit" while the Spider-Man he was talking to said he thought he "saw the guy from The Social Network"). In addition, Spider-Boy makes a (mostly obscured) cameo appearance in the group shot at the issue's end.

    Other/Mixed Reasons 
  • Hawkman was declared off-limits by DC editorial from 1996-2001, due to the character's Post-Crisis Continuity Snarl, caused by the 1989 reboot of the character, even though both Hawkmen were already established in Post-Crisis continuity. For his run on JLA (which featured the old favorites or their Legacy Characters), Grant Morrison created Zauriel as a stand-in for Hawkman.
  • In a similar example, one of the very few absolute rules for writers of the Doctor Who New Adventures was a complete ban on use of the Valeyard, simply because the character's vague and confusing origin made him such a walking Continuity Snarl. Later novels in the series did acknowledge his existence without having him actually appear on the page, and he finally appeared in prose Doctor Who in the BBC Books-era Past Doctor Adventures.
  • There was a small amount of furor for Super Robot Wars Original Generation after its first Animated Adaptation Divine Wars removed nearly every appearance of the Huckebeins, Humongous Mecha that basically look like Gundams with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. Many fans feared the exile of the entire line, especially after the previews of the Original Generations Video Game Remake on the PlayStation 2 also omitted them, as well as all Huckebeins' plastic model kits ceasing sale. These fears alleviated when the game was released, as all Huckebeins were present and accounted for.
    • The Irony is no one was especially afraid after Divine Wars because the Huckebein did show up (just briefly in the last episode as a set of blueprints). When the second promotional trailer for Original Generations was released, the Huckebein animation was removed and replaced with a different unit. At this point, a malicious, but clever fan spread rumors then-Bandai (before their merge with Namco) sued Banpresto over its use of the Huckebein. For some undiscernable reason, a large part of the fanbase believed it, despite Bandai OWNING Banpresto and later merging with them. Cue massive screaming to the point where Banpresto discovered the rumor and intentionally kept it alive for the sole purpose of their amusement.
    • It happened again in The Inspector, an adaptation of Original Generation 2 and sequel to Divine Wars. One character, who in the games is suppose to use a Huckebein, starts with an anime-exclusive mass-produced Wildschwein, which looks less like a Huckebein. This really didn't matter in the long run, as the character will acquire a more powerful super robot, yet most fans believed Namco Bandai ordered the Huckebein removed because they didn't want a knockoff of the popular Gundam making what amounts to a cameo appearance, since most of the cast in The Inspector will be using their character-exclusive Humongous Mecha by the end of the show, none of them being Huckebeins.
      • Fortunately, The Inspector justifies the disappearance of the Huckebein: In-Universe, The Federation scraps its development. Rather than relegate another character using a Huckebein, he gets to pilot the "EXbein", another anime-exclusive unit which, in-story, is the prototype to the intended Huckebein. Then again, any Super Robot Wars fan is hardly fooled to see the EXbein is a Huckebein, with the difference simply removing the signature "V-fin" on its head, while adding a pair of giant visors around the eyes. The fact the mechanical designer for the EXbein is the same person who designed the Huckebein for the games says something about the similarities between them.
      • The Inspector essentially chimes in on this trope later with the "Guarbein", a Huckebein with a Guarlion Custom's head and shoulders. Hilarity Ensues as its pilot, who's wearing a terrible disguise, is using a Huckebein with a terrible disguise. Lampshaded by the villain when the Guarbein makes its debut:
      "GuarBein?! Your camouflage can't fool me!"
    • Although the EXbein makes its way into the games, Original Generation decidedly uses this trope to its fullest: all Huckebeins ever manufactured are destroyed in a mandatory story event. At this point, fans are divided on whether this is a mean-spirited joke by Banpresto or there's truly a legal problem to be had with Namco Bandai.
  • The King of Fighters has also now suffered from this as SNK is now eliminating all references to the character K9999 who WAS a Captain Ersatz of Tetsuo. Notably for King of Fighters 2002 Ultimate Match, which is a remake of a game that originally had K9999 in it, they replaced him moveset-wise with the new character "Nameless" or Ж'.
  • Banjo and Conker were replaced with Tiny and Dixie Kong in Diddy Kong Racing DS, effectively banishing the Microsoft-owned bear and squirrel from the Nintendo-owned Donkey Kong universe (Conker's shift into a Black Comedy character since the original game may also play a hand in this); Tiptup, a recurring Banjo-Kazooie character, is still there. Word of God was vague on whether their absence was at the request of Microsoft or Nintendo (though it was strongly implied one of the two was responsible). Many of the DKR-exclusive characters are owned by Rare and yet were allowed in anyway, and Tiptup's roles in the Banjo-Kazooie series have been pretty minor (and his character design has been noticeably altered), so it's likely the developers assumed they could get away with it.
  • A similar but slightly more amicable example is Geno, Mallow, and the other original characters from Super Mario RPG. While they (especially Geno) proved popular, Square-Enix holds the trademarks to them, essentially cutting them off from the rest of the Mario universe.
  • When Green Arrow was brought back by Kevin Smith, he insisted on a one-year moratorium that forbade Ollie from showing up in any other titles (despite half the DCU being featured in Kevin Smith's run on the book, including a cameo from the usually exiled Morpheus). The reason? Smith was afraid some moron would botch up his "this'll take a year to resolve" plotline by dropping misleading hints or botching the "amnesia" sub-plot or mucking up the story's timing (the entire 12-issue run takes place over only a very short period of time). It made sense, so DC ran with it.
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe absolutely averted this trope. If you submitted a character (be it a player or a non-player character) to the setting, it was fair game to be used in someone else's story. Granted, that someone else was required to work with you to do it, and wasn't allowed to turn your character into The Chew Toy without your permission, but you couldn't refuse someone else's requests to use your guy.
  • Jean-Paul Valley, the first Azrael, was never seen nor heard from again after his death in Azrael: Agent of the Bat #100, (aside from briefly popping up in Blackest Night, where he did nothing but walk past Scarecrow and kill a few random shmucks.) This is mainly because the editors didn't really know what to do with him after Knightfall ended. This was exacerbated by factors such as that Jean-Paul has never appeared outside of his own title in anything but a Bat-book and one issue of Batman and the Outsiders, where he appeared as AzBats, not ever being particularly popular, and having the exact same creative team for the entire run of his own title. Ironically, Jean-Paul's death took place at the same time as Batman: Hush, which focused on how Batman interacted with his allies, enemies, and loved-ones. Real nice DC.
  • During the 90's, Marvel Comics held a contest where readers were able to design a villain for the Thunderbolts title. The winning character, Charcoal, proved popular enough that he was added to the team as a main character. The fan who created Charcoal soon threatened to sue Marvel for ownership of the character right around the time he was supposedly killed off. Though the death was meant to be temporary and the lawsuit never gained any traction, the writers decided to leave Charcoal dead due to the actions of his creator. He has not been seen or mentioned since.
  • Pokémon has two examples, one involving a move.
    • Porygon has never been featured (and the evolutions not shown at all) in the anime, except as a Freeze-Frame Bonus during a montage at the beginning of one of the movies and in the Poké Rap (despite the show's nature) after the first form's "involvement" in an incident involving Epileptic Flashing Lights. Qualifies as a combination of Legal and Corporate, as the episode containing the incident in question is under an actual legal ban.
    • The move "Earthquake" has twice been banned from being depicted in the anime, due to two earthquakes in Japan.
    • It must be noted that these edicts only apply to the Anime. Porygon can and has made appearances in the various manga series.
  • After Ghost Rider was abruptly canceled in 1998, Danny Ketch made a single appearance in Peter Parker, Spider-Man, where the dangling plotlines from his own book were tied up in a very quick and unsatisfactory fashion, but leaving him still active within the Marvel Universe. His predecessor Johnny Blaze was soon brought back as Ghost Rider, but Danny was barely - if at all - mentioned, and for reasons unknown, never once appeared in any Marvel comic until a decade later.
  • Highlander did have Christopher Lambert appear as Connor Macleod in the pilot. However, they couldn't re-use any of the material he shot as flashbacks without paying Lambert another appearance fee, something the budget simply wouldn't allow. So, when footage from the pilot was re-used in a season 4 ep, Lambert/Connor was edited out.
  • In the wake of DC's New 52 reboot, former Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown have been declared off-limits by editorial. Gail Simone pitched a team book that would have starred Stephanie, Bumblebee, Misfit, and Black Alice, but it was not approved, and Steph was subsequently pulled from a scheduled guest appearance in the Smallville comic. Meanwhile, Cass has not been seen or mentioned in Batman Inc, despite the fact that she was one of Bruce's agents (as well as the Batman of China) in the pre-New 52 volume.
    • Scott Snyder and Grant Morrison also have mentioned wanting to use them, but being barred. Those two are also bunched with Donna Troy and Wally West in the exiled club
    • Stephanie finally turned up in a cameo in 2014 in Batman #28, and later as a newly debuted Spoiler in Batman Eternal. Donna Troy (or at least some version of her) was introduced in Meredith & David Finch's run on Wonder Woman. And in The Flash, Iris West's nephew, a young teen half-black Wally West who is the son of the new first Reverse Flash was introduced, with a potential future as the next Flash playing a big role in an arc. So far, only Cass seems to be left waiting, most likely because Lady Shiva was deaged to the point that it would be impossible for her to be Cass's mother, and thus exist.
  • After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marv Wolfman and George Perez took the opportunity to revise the history of the Teen Titans. While some of the past Titans that they didn't care for got to stay in revamped forms (such as Bat-Girl becoming Flamebird), the character of Duela Dent/Harlequin was one that Wolfman wanted completely gone. She was excluded from the Post-Crisis backstory, and for a time, she was forbidden to be referenced in the comics. Phil Jimenez attempted to set up a plot thread for her in the Team Titans book, but had the story nixed by the editorial team. Duela was finally allowed to be fully re-introduced in the JLA/Titans miniseries, although her past with the Teen Titans was now inconsistent. Some writers retconned her as only being an occasional ally to the original team, while others depicted her as a member in flashbacks.
  • Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation character Venus De Milo was barred from appearing in anything under Peter Laird's ownership of the series, due to his complete hatred of the character (to the point that jokes about her are not allowed). Only now is it possible for Venus to appear again due to a change in ownership over the Turtles, but even this may not be possible considering her mixed status among the fans.
  • The Vehicle Voltron and all the characters associated with it seem to have met this fate. The Lion Force Voltron is simply more popular and more iconic. There is also the fact that Voltron is a licensing of Golion, the licensing of which is probably expensive, given the popularity it gained as Voltron. It is possible that WEP simply chose not to renew the licensing for Dairugger XV as its lack of popularity probably gives them little incentive to do so.
  • When adapting Big Hero 6 from an obscure Marvel comic to a Disney animated movie, both Disney and Marvel mutually agreed to divorce Big Hero 6 from the Marvel Universe entirely. Not only does the movie not reference any Marvel elements, but Marvel exiled the team from the comics as well; declining to reprint the original comic or bring the characters out of Comic Book Limbo.
  • While not exactly a retcon, recent and future Robotech projects such as The Shadow Chronicles are refraining from using names such as Macross, Zentraedi, and other recognizable elements from Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the original version of the first segment of the original 1985 series. As evidence, Maia Sterling in Shadow Chronicles only mentioned that she was "half alien", not "half Zentraedi", despite the fact that fans would know that her parents were Max and Mirya and the Zentraedi were an allied race that Marcus and Alex would have been familiar with. The world "protoculture" and the term "SDF" however, isn't protected by trademark or copyright and can be used by Robotech. These restrictions are probably due to the very confusing licensing agreement between Harmony Gold and Big West, the Japanese rights holders to Macross. There is a similar restriction on recognizable Southern Cross material, but those restrictions are mostly character and mecha designs. It helps that unlike in the Macross Saga, everything was renamed in the Masters segment.