That's The Matrix
they're talking about, in case you were wondering.
Fanon ("Fan Canon") Discontinuity is the act of fans mentally writing out certain events in a show's continuity which don't sit well, no matter if it's a single episode, a season-length arc
, an entire season or even an entire series
. If a plot or ending
rubs one the wrong way severely enough, fandom can just decide that the offending events never happened. On the series level, events may fall under Discontinuity because the show is perceived to suck at that point
or decline too far in quality
. Events also get "discontinued" for particularly screwing up the characters or setting, and a show that starts to suck will end up screwing things up eventually anyway.
In effect, Fanon Discontinuity is the opposite of fanon
(and not unrelated, either: a great amount of Fanon Discontinuity has resulted from violations of fanon). While extremely negative audience reactions may lead to an offending storyline being officially removed from canon
in response, Fanon Discontinuity specifically refers to when fans
disregard a storyline regardless
of the creators' opinion on it.
In moviedom, Sequelitis
is the most common cause of Fanon Discontinuity. It's very common to hear fans of a popular movie series disavow all sequels beyond a certain point, typically the first or second movie. For example, the unofficial slogan of the Highlander
fandom is, "There Should Have Been Only One" (a play on the franchise's famous quote of "There Can Be Only One
," in case you're wondering). Fanon Discontinuity also tends to arise when an audience has been dealt a particularly bad Wall Banger
Doing this can be quite easy if the hated storylines are the last ever made and it's easy to pretend that the real ending was in the good ones, but if more episodes/installments are made and these are loved and canon-worthy, again it's easy to do that if the hated ones can easily be written out without any loss to the good stories, but it's very hard to do this when the loved storylines keep making references to the previous hated storylines and solidifying them as canon, even when they do admit that they really sucked.
It should be noted that this can be justified in cases of Running the Asylum
, as it's clear the people in charge are largely trying to impose their own fanon
Sometimes discontinuity comes from not liking a very specific element while still enjoying everything else. When this happens, you've applied Broad Strokes
to the canon
. Not to be confused with Negative Continuity
One of the meta-causes of Alternate Universe
If the questionable elements are written out of canon by the creators themselves
, then said elements entered in Canon Discontinuity
territory, or, luckily, are given a Discontinuity Nod
. If the creator just bashes it, then it's Creator Backlash
. If, on the other hand, the controversial element is somehow reworked into being tolerable or even popular, it's been Rescued from the Scrappy Heap
. See also They Changed It, Now It Sucks
Note: This is highly subjective, more based on the fandom rather than the event itself. The visceral response to fanon discontinuity can baffle other fans who don't take the event as seriously, or even like the event. Please only post examples of the fandom as a whole disregarding an event. Also, using this as a pothole is generally rather rude, so please don't do it unless you want to use Canon Discontinuity instead.
- At the end of Mystery Science Theater 3000's treatment of The Girl in Lovers' Lane, the bots are profoundly depressed by the movie's Downer Ending, specifically the Shocking Swerve death of lovable waitress Carrie. Joel offers the bots a refreshing epiphany that more or less defines Fanon Discontinuity: you don't have to accept what the movie hands you. The cast promptly begin imagining less depressing endings for the film. This was mentioned in the official episode guide as being based on the universal negative reactions of the writing team upon first viewing the film, and the skit seemed almost psychologically necessary.
- In the episode Soul Taker, Crow and Servo refuse to accept the Happily Ever After and claim what really happened was a Downer Ending where the protagonists' relationship failed and the hero ended up in jail, making bootleg vodka in the toilet. Mike asks if they aren't being a little doom-and-gloom, and they sarcastically suggest an ending where everything is puppies and sunshine and rainbows. Mike asks if it has to be unrealistically depressing or unrealistically happy with no middle ground, and they say yep, it's either toilet vodka or unicorn giggles.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we learn that Willow always stops watching Moulin Rouge! a few minutes before it ends so she can pretend it has a happy ending. Which means she must not watch the first five minutes either, unless she wants to be confused.
- On Friends, Phoebe learns that her mother did this with numerous movies because she didn't want her children being exposed to sad things. Right before she killed herself.
- Marge Simpson has shown such an attitude towards her children, eating a story book about Joan D'Arc to avoid telling Lisa that the French warrior was burned at the stake, commenting it was easier to swallow than the Bambi video. A later episode reveals Marge and Homer walked out of Carrie after she was crowned prom queen so she could pretend the story ended happily.
- In another episode, Homer has been reading to Lisa at night from what is obviously Harry Potter with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. He's hesitant to read her the ending because it's sad (a reference to Dumbledore's death in book six), so instead he invents a happier ending to tell her. The trope is then subverted somewhat by Lisa pulling out a second copy of the book and reading the true ending for herself, then deciding that "Dad's ending was better."
- In Stephen Colbert's book I Am America and So Can You, he mentions that he couldn't enjoy The Lion King Broadway musical because he couldn't turn it off before Mufasa's death.
- The trope is referenced in a Nemi comic strip where the titular character's friend is trying to tell her about someone who appeared in the film Highlander II: The Quickening. Nemi then says that Highlander doesn't have any sequels. Her friend realises she's "repressing everything you don't like", which he then comments is why she has not seen Aliens 4, to which she answers, "Aliens 4?" Her friend also says, "I know you've seen both sequels," implying that he practices Fanon Discontinuity himself or is genuinely unaware of the exact number of sequels in the Highlander franchise.
- Bob's Burgers: Louise's substitute teacher is an avid Thomas Edison fan, and vehemently denies that Edison ever performed any unsavory experiments involving AC electricity and a circus elephant named Topsy.
- In Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex tries to apply discontinuity to his own life