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Merging The Branches
A specific form of Cutting Off The Branches where events from several story branches or endings are declared canon by a later installment, even though it is impossible for all these events to occur in the same playthrough of the previous game.

Overlaps with Third Option Adaptation (which is about Taking A Third Option when adapting interactive works to non-interactive media). See also Broad Strokes.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Platform Game 
  • In the Last Story mode of Shadow the Hedgehog the plot appears to consider a number of events canon, such as the President being evacuated to the GUN Fortress, Eggman claiming Shadow to be an Android, and the majority of the cast travelling to the Black Comet. These are all plot points that cannot happen in a single playthrough of regular Story Mode's branching paths, implying that regular story mode is always just "what if" scenarios that merely represent Shadow's real journey, regardless of your chosen path.
  • Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse has three potential partners for Trevor Belmont (Grant, Sypha, and Alucard). You can only have one partner at a time, and it's impossible to meet both Sypha and Alucard on the same playthrough. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night establishes that canonically, all four of them fought Dracula together.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Installments of the Dawn of War series set after Winter Assault imply that the latter's true ending contains elements of both Ork and Eldar campaigns (Taldeer survives the Orks, Chaos and Necrons on Lorn V but is taken out by the Blood Ravens on Kronus in Dark Crusade), while Crull is defeated and his skull taken by Gorgutz 'Ead'unter (the Chaos faction takes it back from him in Dark Crusade).
  • The Warcraft series did this for everything up to Warcraft 3. The second game took the first's Orc campaign as canon but with several Human story missions as still having happened instead of their Orc variants. The second game was treated the same way but with the sides reversed by its expansion. The second game's expansion is later treated as two sides of the same story, with the canon result of the final battle combining the endings.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall had seven mutually exclusive endings, but The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind revealed that all of them took place at the same time due to a rare cosmic event called a Dragon Break (that particular one — which is the only one which historians agree on having happened — is usually called the Warp in the West, on account of happening in the west, and sometimes the Miracle of Peace, on account of having set up a stabler, more peaceful situation in the region).
  • In Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, you have eight possible party members but you can never recruit the one of the same class as yourself. Nevertheless, all eight are regarded the Companions of the Avatar in later installments.
  • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, several characters were only recruitable in gaiden chapters that required several playable characters to die to access them. In New Mystery of Emblem, however, all returning gaiden characters except Nagi are treated as if they joined Marth's army despite the fact that every playable character from the previous game survived to see the sequel.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War uses a combination of the three possible but mutually exclusive endings of Deus Ex.
    • Its prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution inverts the trope by having all of the possible endings plausibly lead to the events of the first game.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, the manga adaptation merges the Kratos, Zelos and Colette endings and has each of them give Lloyd the special item that he receives only from their ending in the game. This is also apparently the canonical ending according to the sequel. Overlaps a bit with Third Option Adaptation in that another change, Yuan coming with them to the final battle, actually isn't possible in any of the endings.
  • Repeatedly used in the Diablo series: in the single-player, you must choose which character to complete the game with, but the respective next installment declares that all playable characters participated in the previous one's plot. This is possibly justified in that the Co-Op Multiplayer with all available classes represented is viewed as canon, even for offline play.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe reference books established that the Exile, the Player Character of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, was female but also had the Handmaiden on her team, which in-game is only possible for a male Exile.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, Cipher fights five out of eleven elite Belkan squadrons in any given playthrough (which ones depends on your Karma Meter). However, the in-game Assault Records and later lore implies that at the branching points, Cipher faced all three respective bosses at the same time.

    Visual Novel 
  • Melty Blood, a sequel to Tsukihime, declares a combination of two endings (Ciel's and Kohaku's) plus events that never actually happened in any canon route.
    • Tsukihime's other sequel, Kagetsu Tohya, justifies all the routes being canon at once by having the story take place in a dream, where real-world logic is of course out to lunch. Those parts of it that take place outside the dream seem to suggest either Ciel's or Arcueid's ending, however. It also includes a number of side stories that explicitly take place in some of the other endings.
  • TYPE-MOON did a similar thing with its sequel to Fate/stay night: Fate/hollow ataraxia, which has a bizarre conglomeration of events from mutually contradictory routes making up its backstory. This is actually a plot point though, and part of the story's progression is figuring out just what the hell is going on.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 

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