When two or more works, be they books, movies or comics or two completely different media altogether, exist in Shared Universe
or Expanded Universe
, you are expecting them to be bound to the rules that come with this fact - when something big, involving all known worlds happens, you are expecting this event to be referred to in several titles. For example, when somebody dies in one work, he wouldn't appear in another, and internal rules like magic
apply no matter which work you are reading, watching, playing, or listening to.
Well, this isn't always the case. Maybe the writer decided that Canon Welding
was a bad idea in retrospect. Or he/she didn't want to feel limited by what happened in another title. As well as the possibility of the writer wanting to take the works in a different direction, or that the writer was afraid being too continuity-heavy would discourage assorted potential readers. Whatever the reason may have been, the writer doesn't really act like the titles currently are in one continuity.
In order to avoid several kinds of problems
that could come from not sticking to one continuity, some writers may decide to announce that two or more works are still in continuity and
are not, From a Certain Point of View
There are a few varieties of this trope:
- One-Sided Continuity: Work A is in continuity with Work B, but Work B is not in continuity with Work A. So works from one title are still canonical and its characters may show up in the other, but not the opposite. It might be explained that characters from Work A exist in their own, separated world, and Work B is an Alternate Universe, where their counterparts exist, but their adventures may go different ways and they may meet characters that may not even exist in title they originate from.
- Alternate Timeline Continuity: Work A was always in Alternate Continuity for Work B, but the timelines were identical until a certain point, at which point they diverged. Sub-Variant of One-Sided Continuity, chances are, this will be used either when two or more titles start going in two or more different ways, or in case at least one of them is set in a different time from others. Going from this, it would be that one or more of the works happening later on the timeline are a possible future and things don't have to turn out like they did in it.
- Bait-And-Switch Continuity: Work A and Work B don't take place in one continuity, unless said otherwise. In other words, two titles have their own, separate settings, but whenever the writer wants to, they can meet and the crossover in question will act as if and were always set in one continuity. Canon Welding is however averted, because once the Crossover is over, assorted characters act like it never happened. Needless to say, this is can be extremely jarring for more continuity interested fans, who wouldn't accept that and will try to explain how two titles can exist in one world, even if several works aside from crossovers contradicts that.
- Divorced Continuity: Work A and Work B existed in the same world, but something split it in two. This variant is similar to Alternate Timeline, but there was an event in-universe that had resulted in separating two worlds - all the history from one work has been removed from the history of another and vice versa, the characters never existed in one world and nobody remembers them as their stories exist and always existed separately. Alternatively, in order to avoid creating Continuity Snarl, Expies are created to fill the roles of deleted characters.
Compare and contrast Canon Discontinuity
, Alternate Timeline
and The Multiverse
, Exiled from Continuity
and Canon Welding
Examples of One-Sided Continuity:
- The My Little Pony G4 cartoons, Friendship Is Magic and Equestria Girls. They share the same characters and the same writing staff, and these writers have insisted that the events of Equestria Girls actually are canon to Friendship Is Magic. But the character arc in EQG is completely dependent on a big event from FIM season three, while FIM's only reference to EQG have been a few blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos. So even though EQG is technically canon, it's totally ignorable for the fans who are so inclined.
- This also extends to the comics. The events of the cartoon have happened, mostly, but the comics have yet to be referenced in the cartoon, with a few episodes strongly implying that the comic stories haven't happened.
- Star Wars and its Expanded Universe have this relationship - movies are in canon with all books, comics and games, but George Lucas refuses to acknowledge the opposite.
- In a similiar manner, for the Gundam franchise only the animated works are considered part of the various continuities, and works such as the novels written by Gundam's creator Yoshiki Tomino are not acknowledged as part of the continuities of the shows. This especially includes Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam, despite it also being written by Tomino.
- Webcomics Acrobat has been a part of Heroes Unite until the former's creator announced that his characters appearing in latter and related titles are not the originals, but their alternate counterparts.
- Webcomics Sugar Bits and Everafter had a crossover within the pages of the former, but Bleedman has let the latter's creator decide if he wants them to share The Verse. It's hard to ignore all pages with Red and Big Bad Wolf in Sugar Bits, so it's safe to say that 'Everafter exist in Sugar Bits world, but the opposite may be not true.
- Mindmistress and Zebra Girl were established as existing in one Universe, but Word of God from the creator of Mindmistress is that the Zebra Girl from her world may not be the original one, but an alternate version.
- In similar manner, two webcomics that established a large Multiverse do it: The Crossoverlord and Crossoverkill both portray The Order of the Stick as existing in that multiverse, but Word of God says that unless Rich Burlew will agree with that, it's only "one of many worlds working on similar rules and laws physics as The Order of the Stick". In general, Canon Welding done by the two series may result in this if creators of comics dragged into The Multiverse don't want them to.
Examples of Bait-And-Switch Continuity:
- Image Comics operates on this rule - their comics exist in one world only when crossovers takes place and events from one series may be referenced in another only if the creators wish it. It's especially visible in Invincible #60 - comics that featured appearances of probably every single Image Comics hero aside from Bomb Queen and you won't find a single reference to those events (including the destruction of several cities) anywhere but in Invincible and The Astounding Wolf Man.
Examples of Divorced Continuity:
- Image Comics separated their original Universe into a bunch of lesser ones in the Shattered Image event. Since then, each sub-publisher has it's own Universe, that coexists with others in Bait-And-Switch continuity, with exception of the Wildstorm Universe, which was bought by DC Comics, and Rob Liefeld's Universe, for the period of time that he left Image.
- Dallas and its Spin Off Knots Landing had a shared continuity until Bobby's death on Dallas (Bobby's brother Gary was the main character on Knots Landing). Gary gets the news and it affects him; later in the season Gary's son is born and he names him Bobby. Come the beginning of the next season of Dallas we learn that Bobby's death (and the enitre previous season) was All Just A Dream; but Knots Landing kept the plot point, and the two shows never interacted again.