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A Replacement Artifact
is when the writers of a series decide they don't need one of its devices any more, be it a plot point, a background rule, or whatever, and do away with it, often spectacularly... and then, later on, bring it back under a different name. Often the second attempt is more confusing and less internally stable than the original, yet has an almost-identical effect on the plot.
Usually happens after a change of writers, or during a Post Script Season
. Obviously, only has time
to happen during a long-running series. Compare The Artifact
- Hypertime was the DC Universe's attempt to bring back the story possibilities of alternate Earths, which it had previously gotten rid of (claiming they had become "confusing") during the Reset Button event Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, this lacked the coherency of the original Multiple Earths rules, and confused far more people than the original ever did. To make things worse (or possibly just more confusing) even Hypertime has been discontinued in favor of "anomalies" from DC's latest universe-changing event, Infinite Crisis. Even the most hardened continuity buffs would be better off adopting the MST3K Mantra.
- Recently, DC has comics has adopted the concept of "The Bleed" from Wildstorm, which allows for infinite realities once again, featured prominently in the Wildstorm series' The Authority and Planetary, both created by Warren Ellis.
- While Hypertime as a general structure and editorial direction for the DCU as a whole has fallen out of style, Grant Morrison (one of the originators of the idea, along with Mark Waid) still very much is a believer in it. He deals with the concept in his long-running work with Batman, Seven Soldiers, a recent run of Action Comics, Final Crisis, as well as his upcoming "Multiversity" series, in which he plays with Mythology Gags and Call Backs from throughout the DCU and treats the entire universe's history as still in play, even if it's been retconned out "officially".
- Marvel has hit the halfway mark for this as well, in several of its series. Earth X, Universe X and Paradise X is a story about an Alternate Universe which has some major revelations about the whole of the Marvel Multiverse, which they generally haven't decided to keep. While they always did this to a degree with their Sliding Timescale, they never made it a story feature.
- Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic book killed off Dr. Robotnik in issue #50. He was soon replaced by an alternate dimension Robotnik who had turned himself into a machine and was formerly involved twice with events of this universe before switching to the "Eggman" design of Robotnik of the new games. Then this new Robotnik was made organic again. By aliens.
- Doctor Who
- Doctor Who didn't write out the Cybermen, but replaced the old ones from a Bizarro World Earth physically located in Earth's solar system with another Bizarro World in another universe. The original Cybermen still exist, and the new series has featured them, in the series five finale and twice in season sixnote — but we only know that by Word of God, because they use the same props as the other type of Cyberman and nobody has ever brought up the difference on-screen.
- In the Classic series, it was intended to retire the Daleks along with William Hartnell, giving Patrick Troughton two Dalek stories ("Power of the Daleks", a very good story with tons of Dalek Fanservice designed to ensure viewers would tune in after the regeneration, and "The Evil of the Daleks", which was intended to be the Daleks's very definitely final death). They go away for several years after that, but attempts to find a replacement Dalek Mascot Mook (the Krotons? the Macra?) failed, the only monsters making as close a cultural dent being the Cybermen and the Autons, and possibly the Yetis. Fan outcry led to the Daleks making a return in "Day of the Daleks", five years after their retirement. Not very long after their return, "Genesis of the Daleks" drastically reinvented the Daleks, updating them by retconning out the more dated backstory elements while fleshing out others, and introducing their leader and creator, Davros, which completely changed the nature of them as a threat.
- This was done with Zen and the Liberator in Blake's 7, necessitating a new ship and talking computer in the Postscript Season.
- Heroes killed off precognative artist Isaac Mendez near the end of the first season. Unable to let go of prophetic art, the next few seasons would be quick to whip out previously-unknown lost works of his (a series of unfulfilled paintings in the second, some comic books and a sketchbook in the third). And gave the same ability to at least three other characters.