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"... and yet I also become annoyed whenever the great Homer nods off."
— Horace, "Ars Poetica"
Certain facts or events are presented in a series that contradict earlier episodes. Bizarrely, this is sometimes done intentionally
, or incidentally
. Can lead to a Continuity Snarl
or Continuity Drift
A common feature of Long Runners
. Compare Beyond the Impossible
, which is about characters breaking the story's internal logic by doing what is physically impossible.
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Anime & Manga
- In Majikoi's anime, when the villain Tachibana Takae shows up, everyone besides Momo is confused because they don't know who she is. This confusion extends even to Mayuzumi, who beat Takae prior to the events of the original visual novel to become the youngest member of the "Big Four". As one of the few members of the cast who doesn't blatantly disregard pretty much everyone else, it would be fairly odd for her not to remember her.
- In the second chapter of Ice Revolution, The Rival has clearly seen tomboy Masaki in her girl's uniform yet in the next chapter she continues to view Masaki as a boy.
- In Dragon Ball GT, in the second season, Trunks is able to detect No. 17's Ki, and is even able to compare it with that of No. 18... despite the fact that a major plot point in the background of the two androids when they were first encountered back in Dragon Ball Z was that they didn't radiate Ki at all!
- Another example would be that the Z fighters tried to revive Krillin with the earth dragon balls, even though in DBZ they said repeatedly that Krillin can't be revived by earth dragon ball a second time.
- The Artifact of Doom in the form of an eight-legged castle in the Nirvana arc of Fairy Tail could only be destroyed if the crystals at the root of each of its legs were destroyed simultaneously. The protagonists just barely manage to scrape together enough people with the strength left to fight so that they can post someone at all six crystals.
- Lampshaded in the Q&A section by Mirajane, questioning wether it took off the extra legs to move faster.
- Another example at the end Fighting Festival Arc Fried is seen with short hair after an ImportantHairCut yet is seen with back to normal at the start of the very next Arc.
- Lampshaded in Pretty Sammy TV Series when Romio appears as the third candidate who was flung into a Trap Door in the beginning. She then starts a Flashback to the first episode and afterwards it's pointed out they look nothing alike.
- Don't try to put Rave Master on a timeline. You just can't. If you were to try, there'd really only be one little flaw in it — Haru claiming that he's been fighting to save the world for two years when he's only been the Rave Master for a little over one.
- Fist of the North Star has quite a number of continuity snarls as the series went on. For example, when Kenshiro's adoptive brothers were first introduced, Kenshiro initially mentions that none of them are actually blood-related. Later it turns out that the eldest two, Raoh and Toki, are blood-related after all and we are shown the ruins of their childhood home along with the graves of the birth parents. This can be handwaved by the fact that Kenshiro wasn't exactly sure himself. However, it later turns out that none of them were even born in Japan at all, but that the three of them were refuges from the Land of Asura and that Raoh and Toki's mother is buried in a swamp. If that wasn't enough confusion, then comes the prequel Fist Of The Blue Sky, which shows that the baby Kenshiro was born in Japan.
- In chapter 48 of Elfen Lied, Nana's sleeve, which was torn off in the previous chapter, reappears.
- Bleach has had a number, and a particular example is Aizen's claim that Kisuke Urahara was exiled for creating a gigai that was untraceable, and destroyed the reiatsu of the shinigami using it, both things that Urahara did. In the "Turn Back the Pendulum" chapters, on the other hand, Urahara's exile is the result of Aizen framing him for turning Hirako and the others into Hollows, something Aizen did. As this comes in the middle of a speech boasting about how evil he is and how he has fooled and manipulated people for hundreds of years, there's no reason why he'd be lying, either, although it could be handwaved as Urahara's doings being the official reason for his exile, giving Aizen a chance to not mention his involvement in the matter.
- During the Fake Karakura Town fight, Aizen states that he knew that Ichigo was special because Ichigo was " The child of a shinigami and a..." and the chapter ends. Ichigo didn't know this, but the audience did, and assumed that Aizen was going to say Ichigo was the child of a shinigami and a hollow, which would explain where both sides of his powers come from. The very next chapter has Aizen start by revealing Ichigo was " The child of a human and a shinigami", reversing the order, explaining nothing to the audience, and revealing nothing to Ichigo, as Isshin, his shinigami father, decided to show up right then in the full regalia. With the Reveal that Ichigo is, in fact, the child of a Shinagami and a Quincy (who ARE technically humans), this adds a whole new level to Aizen's Mind Screw of Ichigo For the Evulz. You can just imagine Aizen thinking to himself, "BAHAHAHA this stupid peasant doesn't KNOW the truth that I know, HAHA!
- Pokémon one of the Best Wishes episodes has Ash searching for a Thunderstone as part of a contest scavenger hunt. Someone throws one at him, and Ash is desperate to catch it before it hits Pikachu, yelling that he'll evolve if he touches it. However, Pikachu smacked the stone Ash had away in the first season and didn't evolve as a result.
- Another season one episode claimed that Pokemon aren't evil, even if they do obey their evil masters. Since then, we've had a gang of Litwick trap the gang and Team Rocket in a mansion so they can siphon off their life forces and Ash's Sewaddle introducing itself by violently attacking him for no reason other than that it's sort of a jerk.
- K-On! has two instances between its first and second seasons:
- In the 7th episode of the second season (the third year for all the girls save Azusa, who is a year younger), Azusa is told of Megumi Sokabe, the former Student Council President that by that point graduated, and she doesn't know who she is. However, Megumi appeared as the Student Council President in one scene in the Season 1, episode 11 taking in Ritsu's profuse apologies for missing another deadline. Every member of the band was there, including Azusa. This is due to a Retcon that changed which year Megumi graduated, as indicated by the color of the ribbon she wears depending on which season you're watching.
- In season 2 episode 13 (15:05), Azusa complains that Yui still hasn't learned to read music, which is consistent with the manga. However, in a scene created for the anime in season 1 episode 10, Yui was reading a score while practicing guitar in the middle of the night.
- Matt Olsen of the W.I.T.C.H. comic series is one of the worst examples of this. When he first appears, he's a student with a thing for guitars, has a grandfather who owns a pet store and is utterly shocked when his girlfriend, Will Vandom, reveals her secret identity as a Guardian. However, come the second chapter of the New Power storyline and it's revealed that he's actually from Kandrakar, knows magic and already KNEW Will and her friends were Guardians. And there's been nothing to try to fix the previously established backgrounds.
- In one issue of Bone, Rocque Ja cuts off Kingdok's tongue, and it's explicitly stated he can't speak with his tongue missing. Then, in a later issue, Kingdok is able to speak without any explanation given.
- In the Astérix comics, Obelix's birthday is celebrated in Obelix and Co., just Obelix's. But in Asterix and the Actress, it is revealed that Asterix and Obelix were born on the same day and they celebrate their birthdays together.
- In The Smurfs, the story The Finance Smurf introduces the money system and the Smurfs are revealed as not knowing what money is at all. This contradicts earlier stories, such as The Egg and the Smurfs where a Smurf makes a wish to become "rich" — and ends with jewels and money as a result — and in Smurf Stories where a Smurf creates a machine that can turn hazelnuts into gold coins and the Smurf tells Papa Smurf he'll use the coins to buy more hazelnuts.
- Fables. This is done as a plot point. It used to be 'John of All Fables' but the 'author' made a typo so the universe created the Loveable Rogue Jack of All Fables. Jack meets John later on. Chaos ensues, which it usually does around Jack.
- Transmetropolitan's resolution famously revolves around a picture taken by a minor character. Unfortunately, said minor character is given the camera long after the event she is supposed to have taken a picture of.
- In a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic — early in the "City at War" arc — the Foot Soldiers are shown knowing the location of the Turtles' lair since they had apparently "raided it before". This event happened in the first theatrical movie — never in the Mirage comics.
- Doctor Strange states near the climax of Avengers Disassembled that "there is no such thing as chaos magic." The good doctor has used chaos magic before. Using the terms from the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG, his Arch-Enemy has been a chaos magic master for going on forty years now. Kind of impressive for magic which doesn't exist, right?
- In an issue of Alpha Flight, speedster Northstar is suffering from a disease since Pestilence, that storyarc's bad guy, kissed him. Problem is, said kiss won't happen until the following issue. (Northstar's illness was originally intended to be AIDS, because, you know all gays have AIDS, and you can get it from a kiss on the forehead.).
- Peter Parker's middle name has been repeatedly stated as "Benjamin," after his uncle. However, one comic short story co-written by Stan Lee himself has Mary Jane call him "Peter Q. Parker."
- Uncanny X-Force is running right past this in its third issue into They Just Didn't Care territory.
- The opening page describes Psylocke at age 16, living alone, broke, modeling and nearly going insane when her powers activate. Problem is, Betsy comes from a privileged upbringing, she was an adult charter pilot when her powers began to develop, she wasn't traumatized by them, and oh yeah, she wasn't Asian.
- Later in the issue, Storm asks Psylocke if she thinks Bishop is capable of killing a little girl. Literally the last time the X-Men saw him, Bishop had murdered a team of Sentinel pilots, thrown the Sentinels at a group of mutant students, and put a bullet in Professor Xavier's head, all to murder an infant girl. And when that didn't work he seeded the planet with nuclear weapons that are still set to cause an apocalypse in about fifty years' time.
- A comic strip from 1959 has Snoopy say that he doesn't have any siblings, yet they appear later in the strip's run (and were mentioned in this 1970 strip). To make matters worse, when he does first meet his siblings in the strip he claims they all speak different languages, which is also later shown to be false. He also started calling Charlie Brown the "round-headed kid" around the late 1960's, even though he called him by his name earlier, although that could be more of Characterization Marches On.
- Even stranger, the December 5, 1960 comic has Snoopy denying being a beagle.
- Even though Violet's birthday is apparently June 17th, according to the June 17, 1962 strip, a couple of the 1950's strips hinted her birthday is January 28th: In the February 22, 1951 strip, she said her birthday was last month, and in the January 29, 1955 strip, Charlie Brown said her birthday was yesterday.
Films — Animation
- At the end of the first Aladdin film, the Genie loses his cuffs as a result of him being freed by the title character using his third wish. However, in the sequel, he for some reason started to wear cuffs again. The TV series finally Lampshaded this in one episode by having Genie say, "The only thing I'm a slave to is to fashion!", implying that he wears his cuffs because they look good on him.
- The Disney Direct-to-Video film The Lion King 1½ (which is essentially a recap of the first film's events, but from Timon and Pumbaa's point of view) actually contradicts the events of the first Lion King film on many levels. It also contradicts the animated television series that followed Timon and Pumba. Though, given whose points of view it's told from...Then again, some people have interpreted it as a parody because of how many events it contradicts.
- At the end of Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Kida actually gains more tattoos on her face, but in the sequel, all of her tattoos save her first one are inexplicably gone!
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Esmeralda mysteriously started to wear her Gypsy outfit again (although with a pair of shoes, she was barefoot in the first film) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, even though said outfit as well as all but one of her other dresses (including the one she poledanced in at the Feast of Fools) were implied to have been destroyed by Frollo at the end of the film so he can have her executed properly, which leaves her with a white dress in which Esmeralda would have been burned alive in.
- Also in the same film, her new husband Phoebus mysteriously gains his armor back despite losing it near the end of the first film, much like his wife Esmeralda ending up wearing the white dress.
- Even more jarring, the little girl who hugged Quasimodo at the end of the first movie is present at the start of the second movie, unaged at all even though enough time has passed for Esmerelda and Phoebus to have a young son.
- Winnie the Pooh: Piglet's Big Movie recounts how Kanga and Roo first came to the 100 Acre Woods. Tigger takes part in the event, even though Pooh and the others first met Tigger in Winnie the Pooh & the Blustery Day, in which they already know Kanga and Roo.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Princess Diaries, Mia's birthday is stated to be after Genovian Independence Day. In the sequel, her birthday is before Genovian Independence Day.
- Two big examples from the Star Wars films:
- First is the conflicting ages of the Republic given by Obi-Wan and Palpatine. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan establishes that the Jedi have been protecting the Republic for "a thousand generations" (anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 years depending on how you count a "generation"). In Attack Of The Clones, Palpatine says that he will not let "this Republic which has stood for a thousand years" fall. Even factoring in that Obi-Wan may have been exaggerating (which, according to the Expanded Universe, he wasn't) that's a pretty big difference in ages.
- It's been Handwaved somewhere that there was a major reformation and restructuring of the government a thousand years prior, which is what Palpatine is referring to.
- Another example is Leia remembering her mother as established in Return Of The Jedi, only for Padme to die within minutes of Luke and Leia's birth in Revenge Of The Sith. There have been attempts to explain this, such as the novelization implying Leia was "trying to take in every detail" or some fans' speculating Leia was referring to her foster mother but even Leland Chee, the man responsible for sorting the massive convoluted Star Wars continuity, says that he's stumped.
- The Halloween films:
- At the end of the first movie, Michael is shot by Loomis six times, then falls off a covered balcony at the back of the house; this scene is shown again at the start of the sequel — and Loomis shoots Michael seven times (despite only having a six-chamber revolver), sending him flying off an uncovered balcony at the front of the house. Made all the worse when Loomis goes around shouting "I shot him six times!" in the first few minutes of the film.
- In the original Halloween, the Myers house is a modest two-story home. By the time we get to Halloween 5 The Revenge Of Michael Myers, it's a huge, Gothic-style mansion, and by the time we get to the sixth film, it's back to being a two-story family home that's still completely different from what we've seen in the first two films. At the time these films were made, they were on the same continuity as the first two, so there's no excuse for the discrepancy.
- In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan recognizes Chekov despite the latter being introduced in the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode with Khan was part of the first season. One theory is that, since Chekov never got a formal introduction episode, he could've been in the lower decks since Day One and been promoted to bridge officer after Khan's banishment. It wouldn't even be the first time someone's shown up on screen out of nowhere and been treated like they were on the show the whole time. Walter Koenig likes to joke that offscreen they met when Chekov kept Khan waiting at a restroom, then left him with no toilet paper, hence Khan remembering him.
- Harry Potter has its modest share of these, though nearly all of them are because of Writers Cannot Do Math.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Lupin says that he was unlikely to be admitted to Hogwarts, but then Dumbledore became Headmaster. This sets Dumbledore's promotion about 1970 or so. But Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has Dumbledore become Headmaster around 1955, before Lupin was even born. This is because Writers Cannot Do Math. Rowling herself confirmed it.
- Also, Harry fails to notice the Thestrals pulling the carriages at the end of Goblet of Fire only to do so the next book. J.K. Rowling herself says that this is because she didn't want to add the Thestrals at the end of a book, stuffing it. Her in-universe explanation is that takes some time to "process" a death and come to terms with it; only after then can you see Thestrals. It is also worth noting that he didn't see his parents die at all, not even his mother. He was lying in the crib and only saw green light fill the room. Both J.K. Rowling herself and the seventh book confirm this. This explains why he was not able to see the Thestrals from the beginning of the first book. Link.
- It still creates a major plot hole for the films. In the novel, he passes out before he can see Quirrel burn up, but in the movie, he's a first-hand witness to the whole process in all its nightmare-inducing detail. Maybe Quirrel's death wasn't sufficient since he only had a "half-life"?
- It also creates a plot hole for the movies in that Harry sees his mother die, or at the very least, Snape holding her body, though the explanation that the death needs to be "processed" might explain this.
- In the first book, Voldemort tells Harry that his father "put up a courageous fight" before he died, and had no reason to be lying to Harry at this point. Seven books on, James Potter is killed in flashback without raising so much as a finger against Voldemort, though James did try to hold him off, but was killed quickly, having forgotten his wand. Perhaps, given that he was going against the Evil Overlord unarmed, instead of begging for mercy, Voldermort would have considered fighting him at all to be brave. He didn't say he was a tough fighter, just a brave one.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry and Voldemort duel, and because their wands are made from the same source (Fawkes the Phoenix), it creates a Phlebotinum effect that causes the spells Voldemort cast to pop back out of his wand in reverse order. An early edition of the book suggested that Harry's Mother was killed before his Father, which contradicted every description of their final moments. Rowling later admitted the mistake. Later versions of the book, and the movie, fix this.
- The Death Eater called Rookwood has the first name Augustus in the first book he's referred to in, Goblet of Fire. It changes to Algernon in Order of the Phoenix, but reverts afterwards.
- Marcus Flint was said to be a sixth year student in Philosopher's Stone but was still at Hogwarts in Prisoner of Azkaban. Rowling has suggested Flint had to repeat a year.
- In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, it was established that certain commoner children are whisked from their homes to be apprenticed to a magician, and forget their family and even their name. Yet Arthur Underwood has a desk that's "a family heirloom", and a photograph of his grandmother in his study. Also, in The Amulet of Samarkand, Arthur says Bartimaeus would have to be a djinni of "at least the thirteenth level", yet later he is described as fourth-level. And later as sixth level. On the other hand, Arthur's magical abilities are held in contempt by pretty much everyone (including his twelve-year-old apprentice), so that's not quite as bad (and depending on where the information on Bartimaeus' levels came from, spirits do enjoy inflating their own reputations and deflating their rivals').
- Tom Holt's Portable Door series. The first book stated that using the Door for a journey of more than an hour was almost impossible, and using it for any real length of time was exhausting. By The Better Mousetrap, Frank Carpenter is living his entire life about two decades in his past thanks to the Door, without really experiencing any negative effects whatsoever.
- Dr. John Watson of Sherlock Holmes seems to get caught in these rather often.
- Watson served as an Assistant Surgeon of the Army Medical Department (attached to the 66th Foot) in Afghanistan, but was discharged following an injury received in the line of duty during the Battle of Maiwand. In a Series Continuity Error, his wound shifted from shoulder to leg. This is referenced in the Guy Ritchie film, where Watson limps throughout the film but is also wounded in his shoulder by shrapnel near the end, and in Sherlock, where he was shot in the shoulder, but has psychosomatic pain in his leg. Carole Nelson Douglas used this error to underpin the plot of her Irene Adler novel A Soul of Steel, in which Watson had to be saved from an assassin without informing him; according to her book, Watson received both injuries, getting the second wound in hospital while delirious from a fever, so he did not recall getting it.
- Doyle's stories — which sometimes assigned Watson a wife, sometimes didn't, and sometimes referred to Watson as a widower, never in chronology — hopelessly confused the issue of just how many wives Watson had. W.S. Baring-Gould, author of a well-researched "biography" of Holmes, decided Watson had three wives. Others have suggested numbers up to six.
- Both "The Final Problem" and its prequel, The Valley of Fear, involve Watson hearing about Moriarty for the first time. The latter apparently makes Moriarty aware of Holmes' activities against him two years earlier than the former does.
- To add insult to floating injury, Watson's first name is in question. It's stated as John H. Watson at least once, but in "The Man With the Twisted Lip" his wife calls him James. Scholars (and the BBC series) have tried to get around this by expanding Watson's middle initial H to 'Hamish', the Scottish equivalent.
- Professor James Moriarty seems to have a brother, Colonel James Moriarty. Doyle has a James problem.
- Christopher Paolini, of Inheritance Cycle fame, gave Murtagh dark brown hair in Eragon, but his Adaptation Dye Job in the movie seems to have confused the author enough for Murtagh to have a different color by Brisingr
- Earlier Andrew Vachss Burke books said that Badass martial artist Max the Silent was a Mongolian, but the first mention of his nationality in Terminal has him as Tibetan. It's even more messed up when the next time says he's Mongolian again. Supposedly the Tibetan thing is established in the first book, but as later books never spell it out clearly in full, you can see how this confusion arises.
- Don Quixote: For a book that only has one continuation, there are various examples of those errors. Then again, Cervantes was mocking those fans who put too much attention to continuity... There are two types:
- Played straight in the book:
- In the first book, Visser Three snidely comments that it's an honor to meet Elfangor right before eating him. This directly contradicts the backstory concocted later on, wherein the two characters have extensive history, not even counting all of the timeline changes that take place.
- Animorphs has quite a few of these in the first book or two, with one of the more obvious being Jake using Thought-speak on Tobias when Tobias is a cat and Jake is still unmorphed. Later books have them discuss the inability to use Thought-speak outside of morph. They're known among fans as Katherine Applegate Screw Ups or KASU's.
- The Dirk Pitt novels by Clive Cussler all take place in the same continuity, with past events often mentioned. At the end of Trojan Odyssey, Dirk marries congresswoman Loren Smith, his love interest for most of the series. In the preparations for the wedding, it states the Loren's parents flew out to attend. The plot of Vixen 03 revolves around the murder of Loren's father twenty years previously, and it was stated that he was already a widower when he died.
- In The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan tells people on various occasions that "no one is ever told what 'would have happened'". The wording is unequivocal. Then in The Magician's Nephew he tells someone "what would have happened". He even uses those very words. It may be writer error. On the other hand, he created Narnia, has used deception before (in The Horse and His Boy, he deliberately tricks Aravis), is "not a tame lion" (he doesn't usually follow any rules but his own), and the decision in question was one of the most important ones in Narnia's history.
- V. C. Andrews' series tend to have this. There are various reasons for this, but one main one is that VC Andrews had become ill and died before several of her series can be completed, and a ghostwriter completed the series. An example is in Flowers in the Attic, by Andrews, numerous things are referenced or mentioned by Corrine, only to be either retconned or changed in the prequel Garden of Shadows, which was written by a ghostwriter.
- In the Flashman series, Flashman has an uncle Bindley who works at an office responsible for assigning military commissions, and at a couple of points, Flashman is forced to seek his help getting a commission. Consistent in the books is that Bindley dislikes Flashman, but the reason for this depends on the book. In the original novel, Bindley is from the aristocratic side of the family and doesn't like Flashman because he's from the commoner side. Later books reverse this by having Bindley as the commoner and resenting Flashman, who looks down on him. It's possible that this is a deliberate use of Unreliable Narrator, since the novels are supposedly extracts from memoirs Flashman wrote as a very old man.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe seems to have these aplenty. Some biggies:
- Dac or Mon Calamari? Retconned as Dac being the indigenous name for the planet.
- The Marvels introduced us to "your father, Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan Kenobi". Also, Obi-Wan has black hair. The actual phrasing was "Obi-Wan, Darth Vader and the man who carried Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber", certainly implying Anakin and Vader were two different people. In one of the deftest RetCons in the Expanded Universe, an author was able to use a pre-existing Jedi ritual to justify the man carrying the saber as a third, distinct Jedi who had swapped sabers with Anakin at the time.
- Chewie only having one son when Word of God says Wookiees have multiple births. And six breasts.
- Children of the Red King: When Lysander's mother appears in book three, she's named Jessimine. In book five, she's named Hortense, which was the name of one of her daughters.
- Happened towards the end of the Teenage Worrier books. Among other things, Hazel's name in the first book is Hazel Williams and she attends an exclusive school called St Mary's Academy; in the last, her name is Hazel Appleby and her school is St Cheyngangg's (with no mention of her changing schools).
- In Mercedes Lackey's Dragon Jousters cycle, the only one of Kiron's sisters whose name is given is the one who was so severely beaten by soldiers in the backstory as to cause permanent brain damage. However, at one point in the first book, Kiron remembers her name as Deshara; barely a page later, her name seems to be Dershela. And in the fourth book, when we finally meet Kiron's missing-presumed-dead mother and one of her daughters (and the apparent brain damage strongly implies that it's the same daughter), her name is Iris.
- Heralds of Valdemar
- The chronology of the Tedrel Wars and Selenay's early reign is set in Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor. Skif's teacher in Take A Thief claims to have been crippled at the beginning of those wars, but according to him they started at least 15 years before the dates in the "Exile's" books.
- The first two novels of the Mage Storms trilogy cover less than a year of time. Tremaine manages to age from around 30 years old at the beginning of "Storm Warning" to 45 years old in "Storm Rising". Another inconsistency in those novels is the official cult of the Eastern Empire, which goes from the "Forty Little Gods" to the "Hundred Little Gods".
- The timeframe in which Selenay's first husband and father-in-law die changes continuously. When the series was first written, it was implied that the two died at roughly the same time with the notifications of their deaths crossing en route. In By The Sword, it was stated that learning about Thanel's attempted assassination of Selenay was a contributing factor to his father's decline and death. In Exile's Valor, Thanel's father dies about a year before Thanel himself does.
- The Elemental Masters novel The Serpent's Shadow cannot make up its mind about the name of Maya's father. He is mentioned by name twice. The first time his name is Nigel, the second time his name is Roger.
- In "Reserved for The Cat", Ninette's mother is named Marie or Maria almost interchangeably. Marie would be more likely for a Frenchwoman, but...
- And in Unnatural Issue, Susanna makes a charm bundle and uses it to create a doppleganger of herself so she can sneak off to practice magic. When she runs away from home she's specifically described as burning the bundle and scattering the ashes, as it could be used against her if it got into her evil father's hands. Yet towards the end of the novel it's said that the bundle could not be destroyed by mere burning as it was a magical object and Susanna still had it with her—conveniently, as the good guys could then use it in their plan to draw out dear old dad.
- Happens many, many times with the Warrior Cats seriesnote : characters often change pelt colors and occasionally flip genders, sometimes they'll forget what certain characters know and don't know, time passage will be inaccurate, and some details about Clan life and the history of the Clans have gotten changed around. Seeing as there's over 40 books, graphic novels, and guidebooks, over 700 characters, and four people writing the series, it's only natural that things get mixed up once in a while.
- Happens occasionally in The Dresden Files, usually minor instances, which author Jim Butcher tends to acknowledge on his website. In Proven Guilty, the narration describe's a family's minivan being crushed flat, with the next chapter mentioning the whole family piling into the same minivan. In Ghost Story, a gunman's weapon changes from a snubnosed revolver to a semiautomatic between chapters. In Grave Peril, the name of the woman Bianca killed in Storm Front changes back and forth between Paula and Rachel.
- There's a few in the Discworld novels; apart from the characterisation of Death and the Patrician, there's things like the gates of the Assassins' Guild which in Pyramids never close because Death is always open for business (and also because they rusted years ago) but are firmly closed at the end of Men at Arms. The confusion in the early books about who trained the young Esme Weatherwax is eventually resolved when she explains she went round all the local witches and basically bullied them into teaching her.
A lot of the continuity errors are explained retroactively in Thief of Time — the History Monks have had to repatch history several times, and it tends to have some effect on the present as well. PTerry said in interviews, "There are no continuity errors, only alternate pasts."
- It was also explained in a later book that Anthropomorphic Personifications take on human characteristics if they spend too much time around people; Death, what with keeping Ysabelle and Albert around so much, and studying humans actively, was certainly exposed to them and so changed and grew in personality.
- In a clear case of the writer and editor falling asleep, in at least the original hardcover of A Song of Ice and Fire's A Feast for Crows, Princess Arianne discusses the implications of Lord Tywin's death and Cersei coming to rule. A scant three pages later, she is first informed about it happening.
- In the Garrett PI series, Glen Cook once had his sleuth refer to his stable-keeping friend Playmate as "Sweetheart". Cook later justified this, having Garrett mention how he'd once made it a practice to call Playmate by an alias, to divert the attention of some thugs who might make trouble for his friends.
- The Vampire Chronicles is riddled with continuity errors, some of which can be written off due to the fact that different books have different narrators. However, it's hard to understand how Lestat's eye-colour, even self-described, keeps shifting.
- In "Queen of the Damned," Jesse Reeves sees spirits as a human but completely loses this ability when she becomes a vampire. It's made quite clear that vampires do not possess this ability. In the next book, Claudia's ghost appears to Lestat... well, it's a ghost of a vampire so maybe the rules are different. However, Merrick becomes a vampire and retains her ghost-seeing abilities, which nobody seems to think is that unusual.
- In Interview, Louis mentions that Lestat received help from another vampire by the same maker. Future novels show that he was the only one turned by Magnus. He also receives help from another vampire in New Orleans, though he makes no mention of him in his own novel. These may be explainable by the changing narrators.
- The Elric Saga: Elric's mother died giving birth to him, according to Elric of Melniboné. However, in The Sailor on the Seas of Fate he reminisces about his parents in a way that suggests that his mother as well as his father was still alive at a time when he was old enough to remember her.
- In the Spellsinger series, Mudge the otter has kids as of the sixth book. How many, and what their names and genders are, changes from #6 (daughter Prickett and two sons) to #7 (son Squill, daughter Neena), and again to #8 (Squill and Nocter, genders not stated). Granted, Mudge isn't the most organized of fellows, but you'd think he'd keep track of who his kids are.
- The Jeeves and Wooster story "Bertie Changes His Mind" (reprinted in Carry On, Jeeves) revolved around the fact that Bertie was considering moving in with his sister and her family, although they never actually appeared. Later, in Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie is asked whether he has any sisters and replies in the negative.
- Another example from the novels: an early novel centers around Mr. Stoker and his daughter Pauline. When Bertie asks Pop Stoker which daughter he's referring to in the course of conversation, Stoker replies, "I have only one daughter." A few books later we're introduced to a second daughter, Emerald Stoker. But then, one must not overthink these books.
- The Riftwar Cycle: The later novels have quite a few continuity errors. For instance:
- Eric von Darkmoor mentioning that he had never married when he got married in Wrath of a Demon King.
- The Tsurani Emperor appointing a Warlord in Wrath of a Mad God, generations after the title was abolished and replaced with a similar position with no attached political authority in Servant of the Empire.
- In the same book, mention of House Minwanabi, every member of which had committed ritual suicide at about the same time as the position of Warlord was abolished.
- The story Jimmy the Hand taking place in Land's End, resulting in virtually all of the nobility of that small region dying, which makes the long-established recurring minor character Squire Locklear of Land's End's backstory nonsensical, especially since his first appearance in the timeline is only about a year later, nowhere near enough time for the new Baron, who had no siblings, to marry, produce an heir, and have that heir grow old enough to be sent as a squire to the Prince's court.
- The Book of the Dead can't seem to decide what colour Constance's eyes are; at the beginning of the book, they're violet, at the end of the book, they're blue, and in the preview for the next book, they're "dark".
- In Aunt Dimity's Death, Bill tells Lori that his mother was struck and killed by a bus when he was twelve, even giving this as the reason his father avoids public transport. In Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch, Jane Willis is said to have died after a long bout of cancer. Unlike the backstory of Derek Harris and his fraught relationship with his father, there is no secret that Willis Sr. kept from his son; the author readily admits this was a mistake on her part.
- Piers Anthony wrote Geis of the Gargoyle partially to explain and straighten out continuity errors that had crept into the chronology of Xanth.
- The Well World series by Jack L. Chalker had a fair number.
- Several of the books contained maps of sections of the Well World, and a careful look at them revealed that some hexes were named differently or in different places in different books.
- And then there is the case of the hex that seemed to contain 3 completely different main species. In one book, they are quadrapedal lizards with excellent natural camouflage abilities. In another, they are bipedal magic-using. And in a third they are snake-like men with semi-invisibility.
- And also a race that, despite having a major character being a member of the species, and their warlike battle lizard traits being a fairly large background plot point, by a later book, they are man-sized mosquito-like things.
- Some of these are explained by there being a very long time-gap between the early books and the later ones, so the author merely forgot the prior details.
- The James Bond novels contain several. In an early novel Moonraker, Bond is eight years away from compulsory retirement from '00' Section at 45. Subsequent novels certainly take place over a period of more than eight years. Additionally, in Casino Royale Bond recalls facing off against enemy agents over a gaming table before World War II. However, his obituary in You Only Live Twice indicates that he joined the secret service after leaving the Navy in World War II, and that he enlisted at the age of 17.
- In Secret Histories, Subway Sue. In book 3, she is called one of the walking wounded and teamed up with Callan Drood. Unfortunately she was dead at the book of book 2. (and she wasn't a Drood.)
- There's also the curious fact that the "replacement armors" were silver to replace the original gold ones; they're gold in later books with no explanation.
- Horus Heresy: The Outcast Dead states that Magnus the Red warned the Emperor about Horus's treachery after the massacre at Isstvan V, contradicting every other book that put Magnus's warning coming before Horus's opening move at Isstvan III.
- In A Thousand Sons, Ahriman and Magnus tell Lemuel Gaumon about the history of the Thousand Sons, including how other primarchs like Mortarion and Corax looked down on their psychic abilities before Magnus was discovered. Deliverance Lost shows that Corax was the second-last primarch discovered (Alpharius has always been the last one), so he couldn't have been around to voice his dislike of psychics.
- One of the most famous examples is The Golden Girls. At some point, they hired a new writing team who simply ignored previous continuity in favor of Rule of Funny. Some famous examples:
- In one episode, Dorothy mentions that Rose is allergic to cats. However, in a flashback of how Rose and Blanche first meet, Rose mentions that she was thrown out of her apartment because her landlord didn't allow her to keep a cat she found, and was holding at the time. Although, this could be Handwaved with Rose's caring nature, she might put her personal pain aside to help an animal in need. Or that Rose developed the allergy after that incident.
- The most famous is Dorothy's children. Dorothy and Stan were married for 38 years, and the show began two years after that. Considering Dorothy had a shotgun wedding, one of her children needs to be at 40 for this to make sense. Although both of her kids were played by multiple actors over the years, neither of them appear to be over 30.
- Dorothy is also stated to be a grandmother early on in the series, having a grandson named Robby. However, neither of Dorothy's children that make an appearance are shown to have children.
- Depending on the Writer, Blanche can have between 4 and 6 children. [They eventually tried to knock these together, however; in one instance, she had previously specified she was talking about her four sons (she was offering to give Dorothy one of her sons in exchange for keeping a Mercedes they couldn't afford, saying "I have had four kids, I have never had a Mercedes.") All of her kids were named however: Biff, Doug, Skippy, Matthew, Janet, and Rebecca.]
- Rose was adopted as a baby in one ep and at age 8 in another. [Again, they tried to weld these together by saying she was abandoned on the doorstep of the orphanage as a baby and was actually adopted at 8.]
- Wizards of Waverly Place
- In the episode "Art Teacher", Mr. Laritate is surprised that his phone gets text messages when a teacher "texted in her resignation." In a later episode, he apparently still doesn't know what a text message is.
- In the episode "Monster Hunter", Jerry says that he remembers when Justin was still turning bricks into rabbits and Justin nostalgically responds "Edgebono Utoosis". However, in "The Crazy 10 Minute Sale", it's shown that "Edgebono Utoosis" is a spell to create a duplicate of whatever it's cast on. Not to mention Justin never turned a brick into anything. He duplicated a rabbit, and in a totally different episode, Alex turned a dove into a brick.
- A recent episode had Alex say that every wizard learns the zombie language when they're little, but an earlier episode established she didn't know she was a wizard when she was little.
- In "Make it Happen", Jerry says his father was a rodeo clown, but in "Rock Around the Clock", Grandpa Russo clearly owns the sandwich shop.
- Star Trek has a ridiculous number of examples.
- Captain Scott is brought back in a TNG episode and speaks of James Kirk as if still alive.Star Trek Generations has Kirk killed off in an almost silly fashion.
- In their first appearance, the Ferengi were aggressive, militaristic imperialists. In later appearances, they are portrayed as craven, greedy people with few cultural arts outside peddling and trading. This was an Author's Saving Throw; they'd planned to make the Ferengi the new Big Bad Aliens of the franchise, and they didn't realize until the episode was already wrapped and aired that they'd utterly failed at it. So they cut their losses, rewrote the Ferengi (and changed their uniforms to something less silly), and brought back the Romulans.
- The original series episode "Space Seed" was made during a time when a specific year wasn't yet assigned to the canon, so it references things in blocks of time... but misses the mark by a hundred years when Wrath of Khan came out. Whoops.
- The Borg story has a sketchy chronology. Q set Picard's Enterprise thousands of light-years to find the Borg for the first time, and eighteen months later they came looking for Earth. Guinan identified the Borg in their introductory episode and it was later revealed that Guinan and her people migrated during Kirk's time. Voyager introduces Federation scientists (Seven of Nine's parents) studying the Borg long before Picard's first contact. It messed up what was inferred in the original episode, but it does make some sense that Guinan's people could have reported it to the Federation and it just didn't become common knowledge until the official first contact.
- In the Borg's first appearance in "Q Who?" they're only interested in "consuming" technology, and ignore other lifeforms unless they see them as a threat. When they take Picard in "Best of Both Worlds", he's chosen to be a spokesman, not a drone. It's only after this that we're told assimilating other lifeforms is their standard MO, and always was.
- The vanished outposts in the first season finale, "The Neutral Zone", were meant to be foreshadowing of the Borg (In "Q Who?", they encounter an identical pattern of destruction after Q displaces them), implying that the Borg were probing the edge of Federation space even before Q made formal introductions. This is never mentioned again, and Guinan would later claim that, thanks to Q's intervention, the Borg discovered humanity centuries sooner than they ought to have done.
- Data's cat was repeatedly referred to as male since it was introduced, then suddenly became female in the last season and even had kittens. Some Fan Wank this as his owning several cats over the years and giving them all the same name, which would seem to be in character.
- Not to mention the fact that Spot was a different breed in his/her first appearance.
- There were continual goofs in whether Lieutenant Commanders are referred to as "Lieutenant" or "Commander" formally. They could probably have gotten away with either regardless of real-world behaviors if they had just chosen one and stuck with it.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Alternate", Sisko strongly implies that his father is dead. This contradicts later episodes where his father is very much alive and running a restaurant in New Orleans.
- As pointed out by Phil Farrand in the Nitpicker's Guides, O'Brien is casually treated as an officer (and once referred to as a lieutenant) in Next Gen but is explicity and insistently a noncommissioned officer in Deep Space Nine.
- In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon admonishes Leonard for ending a sentence with a preposition. Anyone with even a cursory ability to recognise grammatical structures would remember that Sheldon has never been adverse to this. This may be because the writers didn't think anyone would notice when they came up with the gag, or because the writers didn't know anything about the "taboo" of ending sentences with prepositions until they wrote that gag and then promptly forgot about it afterwards.
- On the other hand, Sheldon has often been proven to be a hypocrite, so the error is completely in line with his character.
- In one episode, Sheldon asserts that he never forgets anything. Later in the same episode, when he is listing all of the actresses who have played Catwoman, Leonard points out that he left out Lee Meriwether. "Oh. I forgot about Lee Meriwether". Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the writers caught the joke.
- Doctor Who
- The show has two different origins for the Loch Ness monster — an alien cyborg and a mutated overlord thrown back in time.
- Also from Who is the notorious UNIT dating problem. In "Pyramids of Mars", Sarah Jane Smith is from 1980, and the last time she was there, the Brigadier was still heading UNIT ("Terror of the Zygons"). In "Mawdryn Undead", the Brigadier retired in 1976, taking up a position as mathematics teacher through 1983. Lampshaded in the series 4 episode "The Sontaran Stratagem", when the Doctor tells Donna he used to work for Unit in the 70s... or maybe the 80s...
- This is compounded by the fact that in a deleted scene from Sarah Jane's first serial, The Time Warrior, she was scripted to explicitly tell Lynx she had come from the year 1974. This apparently stemmed from a dispute between the writers of the show as to whether the UNIT years should happen in the present day or slightly in the future (another such continuity snarl line happened in The Green Death, where one of the Global Chemicals employees tells The Brigadier that they'd recently swapped out their cutting gear for "thermal lances.")
- In the revived Doctor Who, the Doctor continually insists that he is 900 years old, which by "The Impossible Astronaut" became 909. This despite the fact that in the original series, the sixth Doctor also claimed to be 900 years old, and the seventh said once that he was 953 in Time and the Rani. Given that the remainder of the seventh Doctor's life and all of the eighth Doctor's life is lived out after this point, the ninth and tenth Doctors must be far older than 900 years old. And to top it all off, he's used the nine hundred figure for his age, how many years he's been time traveling, how much "phone box" travel he's done (which would have to be from the first episode of the original series, when it got stuck like that, and not how long he's used the TARDIS) and how long he's been using "the Doctor" as a nom de plume, four discrete and mutually exclusive things. He may just like the number. Word Of God states that he has no way of remembering his exact age, and even if he did, he might be in denial over the big 1-0-0-0. By "Closing Time", he finally pushes past the 1100 mark, however, it's clear from dialogue in "The Impossible Astronaut" that hundreds of years have passed since the previous episode "The God Complex".
- "The War Machines" has the computer WOTAN actually say "Doctor Who is required". Even the most casual fans know that he isn't called that. The name is only ever used as a joke ("Who is he? Doctor who?")
- In general, the show has even come up with an in-universe explanation which can act as a general retcon whenever needed; the Time War has just gone around screwing with the Time-Line! Whole events have literally been wiped out of existence (unless you're a time-traveler, because then you can remember them).
- In the earliest episodes, they talked about the ship. TARDIS was only Susan's nickname for it. However, since other Time Lords and the TARDIS itself in "The Doctor's Wife" refer to the machine in question as such, this more likely either a very early Retcon or Early Installment Weirdness.
- Although, confusingly, it is also referred to as a "T T Capsule" (presumable Time Travel) by a great many Time Lords as well, in the stories on Galifrey during the 4th Doctor's time.
- The original series had been on for over a decade before they ever addressed the issue of The Doctor and his companions being able to understand the natives no matter what era they were in or planet they were on. When a companion actually made mention of it after having been travelling with him for several years, it was a big deal and a clue that someone was controlling her mind. In the new series, it's been brought up several times with The Doctor being unconcerned that they've noticed.
- In an early episode, Carly never takes baths because she hates sitting in her own wet dirt. Come iToe Fatcakes, her entire B-plot revolves around her having a bath and somehow getting stuck in it.
- Another episode has Sam endure a Carly makeover to become "girlier" to impress a boy she likes. A few seasons later, Sam is revealed to have been a pageant girl for a long time, and there's no way she would've needed Carly's help to change to be a little girlier.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In Season 7, Spike is "tortured" by the Turok-Han by being drowned, despite the show and its spin-off, Angel, explicitly and repeatedly stating that vampires don't breathe. Apparently the First, the Turok-Han and Spike himself all forgot that little detail. The apparent Word of God is that it was supposed to be holy water; they simply forgot to add smoke and sizzling noises.
- Whether or not vampires breathe is handled very inconsistently. Angel couldn't do CPR and survived three months underwater, but he could speak and Spike smoked. Maybe vampires can breathe but don't need to, though that wouldn't explain inability to do CPR.
- Except, of course, the potential ramifications of breathing air from inside a dead body directly into the lungs... even assuming no vampiric infection can occur, one would think the inside of an undead's throat would be a breeding ground of various bacteria, mold, and such.
- Buffy's birthday changed a lot. Hell, it even changed once during the same episode — the camera cut away from a computer screen displaying her date of birth, and then cut right back to it displaying another one.
- Warren's presence in the season eight comics caused a continuity error: The First had impersonated him many times in season seven, but it can only take on the appearance of people who have died. Joss Whedon said that he died briefly but was revived by Amy, but she lied and said he never died, which really just means that the writers all forgot.
- Whether or not stakes disappear with a vampire was terribly inconsistent. There were some instances when the stake would turn to dust, but other times it wouldn't and would fall to the floor. There doesn't seem to be any apparent pattern, either.
- Dawn makes this tricky, in the sense she is a magical retcon who first appears in season five but was meant to be a part of the events in the first four seasons. Case in point: when she gets sick Buffy calls Faith for help, who reveals to Angel and Spike she doesn't know who Dawn is. Okay, one little detail: Faith and Dawn had met, and surely would have before, in the television series, and supplemental materials shows Angel certainly knows Dawn.
- So Weird: In season 2, Fiona has a pet cat, and has had it for some time. A long-haired cat at that. In season 3, her mother is severely allergic to cats and can't stand to be near one. (Though it is possible to develop a cat allergy...)
- Soap: In the very first episode, Chester claims to be diabetic when Benson brings him coffee with sugar. A season or so later, trying to justify his sex addiction, he tells his wife, "If I had diabetes, you couldn't blame me for not being able to have sugar."
- I Dream Of Jeannie
- It's established early on that genies can't be photographed. And then along comes a plot when there's a small scandal because Jeannie's been mistaken for someone else, and a paparazzi shot of her and Tony gets into the local paper. And then they go back in the wedding episode, where they have to have a plastic stand-in dummy switch with Jeannie whenever a camera is focused on them, and they end up having to steal the video that was made of the wedding. Make up your minds!
- And speaking of their marriage, it's spelled out in a relatively early that Jeannie would lose her powers should she marry Tony, which almost causes him to marry her on the spot, until he learns that any children they have might have genie powers. Then they get married in the final season. Surprise surprise, she doesn't lose her powers.
- And she seemed to personally know a lot of historical figures that were around in the 2000 years that she was supposed to be trapped in her bottle...
- The most infamous: originally, Jeannie was originally a human girl, until the Blue Djinn turned her into a genie and trapped her in a bottle after she refused to marry him. Later episodes not only flat out state that she was born a genie, but her other genie relatives often come to visit.
- The Adventures of Superman has one episode in which Jimmy gives his middle name as Bartholomew, and another where a nameplate says "James J. Olsen"
- Full House
- In the first episode, Danny tells his mother to return to his father in such a way that implies that his parents are married. Later episodes tell us that Danny's parents have been divorced since childhood.
- Steve's last name seems to have changed from Peters (when first introduced) to Hale (in the prom episode). Of course, before that, there was Jesse — who had the last name "Cochran" in Season 1, but "Katsopolis" for the rest of the series. Word Of God states that change was deliberate, as John Stamos requested his Greek heritage be reflected in the series.
- An early episode shows Jesse attending his high school reunion (with a flashback taking place shortly before graduation). Several seasons later has him say he dropped out of high school (right in the middle of a class, no less) and had been keeping it a secret from everyone else. Even if this did fit continuity, it's questionable how Danny, his long-time brother-in-law, could not have known this.
- I Love Lucy gives Ethel several different middle names, and Ricky two different first names.
- American version of The Office:
- Pam Halpert nee Beesly has had her maiden name in various incarnations; Pam Beasley, Pam Beesley, Pamela Jean Beesly, the now-canon Pamela Morgan Beesly...
- Meredith went from having two kids to having one, and from being an accountant to a supplier relations rep.
- On an episode of the Michael wants to throw a birthday party and asks Pam when the next birthday in the office is. She tells him the next birthday is Meredith's, which is "next month." In another episode, Jim says that it's "birthday month" and that "Kelly's was last week, Creed's is today, Oscar's is next week, and Meredith's is at the end of the month."
- In one episode, Jim says that he's had a crush on Pam since her first day at Dunder-Mifflin. In another, he says he's had a crush on her since she showed him to his desk on his first day. Obviously, that only makes sense if they both started on the same day, but it seems odd that he wouldn't refer to it as "our first day" if that were the case.
- Word of God — specifically, Greg Daniels — says that this is the writers being forgetful. He also says that he personally prefers the story Jim tells of his "worst first date", or the first day Pam started.
- At the end of a third-season episode of Criminal Minds, Prentiss is disturbed by the case the team just solved, saying that the killer was the first unsub she worked on who wasn't a bad guy. This means that Prentiss somehow thought that the unsub from the earlier episode "Distress" was a bad guy, she forgot about him, or the writers forgot about him.
- In one episode it is an actual plot point that Garcia had four brothers. In another, she needs an explanation of normal sibling behavior, since she's an only child. Fans Handwave this by pointing out she has a stepfather, so it's possible they're stepbrothers or much younger half-brothers that she didn't grow up with.
- Hotch either married Haley directly out of high school or five years before the series starts, depending on which episode you watch.
- The case that haunted Rossi enough to bring him back to the BAU: originally he tells it that four children watched their parents be beaten to death on Christmas Eve. When the case is actually solved, it was only three children, who found their parents' bodies, after they were killed with an ax in March.
- In the pilot episode Gideon makes it quite clear there is no such thing as a serial killer with multiple personalities, referencing a paper he's written. Well, there weren't until they actually encounter one, and Gideon makes no objection when the possibility is brought up.
- The first Growing Pains Reunion Show mentions that the Seavers bought a new house a few blocks from the old one, and has Carol marrying a man with a son. In the second one, Carol and her now differently-surnamed husband are expecting their first child, and the plot revolves around what is supposedly the house from the series, though given the conversion from a stagey sitcom to a realistic TV-movie, you'd be hard pressed to recognize it.
- My Name Is Earl has a few of these mostly because of the high number of flashbacks they do, often covering very close events in the timeline.
- The most general ones are that the Hickey brothers didn't know Joy until Earl married her and Catalina until after Earl's karmic revelation. All the flashbacks make you wonder a little why they didn't know Joy most of their lives and Catalina during the six years she had immigrated to America, as both seemed to be regulars at the Crab Shack.
- A big one is that they established that Earl married Joy in November (six months pregnant with her son Dodge) and they had a Y2K adventure for their first New Years together. The last episode showed that Dodge was conceived on Halloween...
- The Cosby Show
- In the first episode, Claire asks Cliff "Why do we have four children?" and he answers "Because we didn't want five." Only a few episodes later, viewers are introduced to college student Sondra, the oldest of their five children. According to Word Of God, it was felt to be appropriate that the couple be shown with a college-age child and demonstrate to viewers what was expected of the other children.
- Also, in an early episode Cliff's office door shows his name as Clifford. Subsequent episodes established his name as Heathcliff.
- Okay, we all know Mork And Mindy was pretty much just a fun show about an Amusing Alien who learns something about Earth every week, and even more so it was an excuse to have Robin Williams show off his improv. But there are just some things that cannot be excused by Rule of Funny. Such as the season four episode "Three the Hard Way" when Mork "lays" an egg out of his stomach, he reminds Mindy that he is a test tube child without a navel, and then displays the navel that was formed when the egg came out. But in the first season episode "A Mommy for Morky", Mork, mentally aged to a toddler lifts up his shirt and says "I know where my bellybutton is!". And it's there. He was already established as a test tube child, but it's there. And Mindy damn well saw it. And the writers damn well ignored it apparently.
- The Odd Couple did multiple episodes showing how Felix and Oscar "first met." Also, one episode establishes that one of them didn't have any wedding photos; in another episode, he is seen looking at his wedding photos.
- The BBC's Robin Hood:
- Robin of Locksley and Guy of Gisborne meet for what is clearly the first time in the pilot episode. In season three the writers try to pull off a massive Retcon with a Whole Episode Flashback that demonstrates that the two were young boys together. They might have gotten away with it if the flashback hadn't also included some fairly dramatic revelations: Guy's mother and Robin's father were engaged, that Robin lets Guy take the blame for a prank that nearly gets him executed, and that their parents end up dying together in a fire. The fact that neither Robin or Guy has ever mentioned any of this before is more than a little absurd.
- A minor issue is the fact that Guy wrongly believes that he was responsible for the fire that killed his parents, even saying that it's haunted him throughout his lifetime. However, he didn't seem particularly "haunted" when he set fire to Marian's house back in season two.
- He also claims back in season one that he's never been to a wedding before. This seems rather strange when the Flashback shows that he had a perfectly normal childhood in Locksley (though admittedly, not impossible).
- In the hundredth episode, Paige sees her own grave in an alternate universe, which states her birth as being in 1975. However, in the episode after she was introduced, she states that she last saw the nun she was taken to as a baby on August 2nd, 1977, and it's heavily implied that this was the same night her parents took her to the church to be adopted, the night she was born. Even if this implication were to be discarded, Paige's older sister Phoebe is established to have been born in very late 1975, and it's also established that Phoebe was a toddler when Paige was conceived, so they weren't twins. As such, the only explanation which makes sense is that the writers forgot the year Paige was supposed to be born in (or, of course, that in an alternate universe Paige was born nearly two years earlier and no-one mentioned it).
- Also, in a season 1 episode, we learn that the girls' mother died shortly after Phoebe was born, MUCH too shortly after to have conceived and borne another child post-Phoebe.
- And yet, in a Season 2 episode, much earlier than when Paige became necessary as a character to replace Prue, their mother's date of death is established as February 28, 1978.
- The girls' Father was named Victor Halliwell in season 1, but later his name was Bennet and Halliwell was a name that had been passed from mother to daughter in defiance of social convention for an unspecified period of time.
- Also for Paige, she was there when the sisters first vanquished The Source of All Evil, and still there when they did it a few more times. But in the final season, when he was being called back, Piper tells Paige the Source is someone she never had faced before.
- In an early episode of Friends, Joey asks a woman when her birthday is, hoping to hit on her. When his friends object, he claims he is innocently gathering everyone's birthdays. Ross then says "Mine's December...", before Joey cuts him off, intent on talking to the girl. Several seasons later, Joey fills out a medical form for Ross, who is unable to due to a hand injury, and asks Ross when his birthday is. Ross's reply? "October 18th."
- Another referrences a Noodle Incident in which Phoebe "made Chandler cry with just her words". Then a later season had an episode entitled "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry".
- In the pilot, everyone talks about Ross's seperation as though learning Carol is a lesbian is still news. Ben is born at the end of that season. Season 3's "The One With The Flashback" is set a year before the first episode, and ends with Carol telling Ross she's gay and wants a divorce. So, um, how long was she pregnant, exactly?
- It's strongly implied at one point - "Carol and I had some good times before she became a lesbian...and once after" - that Ross and Carol conceived Ben after she came out.
- In S7, it's revealed that Ross had sex with a cleaning lady in seventh grade. Yet, the first two seasons repeatedly point out that, until the series began, Carol was the only woman he ever slept with.
- In the S6 episode The One With Rachel's Sister, Monica vehemently denies having a cold and refuses to take any kind of medication for it. Even though, just two seasons earlier (in The One With Joey's New Girlfriend), she has no problem admitting she's sick with one. This doubles as an example of Flanderization.
- In one episode, Lieutenant Disher mentions that he doesn't have any uncles. A few seasons later, and episode revolves around him inheriting his uncle's farm.
- In season 3, we meet Joe Christi, a former cop who tells Sharona that he was present when Monk got the call about his wife's death. The series finale depicts this scene, and there's no Joe to be found.
- Green Acres has at least three different flashbacks to Oliver and Lisa's first meeting: one set on an ocean liner, one in which Oliver is a pilot in World War II landing in Hungary, and one in which Lisa is the daughter of the King of Hungary. The last one was Lampshaded by Oliver, who doesn't believe Lisa is related to royalty.
- In an episode of The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody, London is shown to be very competent in physical sports. In an episode of The Suite Life on Deck, she needs Zack's help. Did she leave her muscles in Boston?
- In the episode with Martin's brother, a backstory about a longstanding family feud is written in to attempt to explain why this character's never even been mentioned before — which might work, if Martin hadn't specifically mentioned in a previous episode that he "never had a brother". It's a stretch, but it could be explained that the feud was bad enough that Martin wouldn't even acknowledge his brother's existence.
- Except there really isn't a feud between Martin and his brother at all - the brother's wife is mad at Frasier is about the entirety of it. The brothers are even looking forward to chatting, once she (temporarily) forgives Frasier.
- On a related note, the series avoided another continuity error with a fairly clever Retcon. In Frasier, Martin is a retired cop, but in an episode of Cheers Frasier described him as a scientist... and dead. When Sam Mallone stops by and notes the discrepancy, Frasier says that he'd made that story up because he and Martin had been fighting at the time.
- There are some problems concerning the ages of Martin and Frasier. It is established that Martin was 21 years old and married to Hester when Frasier was born. There is another episode where Martin recalls being single at 22.
- In Cheers, Frasier said he had no siblings. The first episode of Frasier he meets Niles at the coffee shop and they agree to start talking again. Seems like it's just a Crane family tradition — have a fight, pretend someone doesn't exist until reconciliation.
- Aliens in America has an episode about Justin's fear of performing in public - it's a plot point that he's a weak singer who freezes up so badly on stage that he wasn't allowed to sing in a school pageant that offered a role to anyone who showed up. A few episodes later, Justin's been a soloist in the school choir for years.
- Young Blades: When Jacqueline meets The Great D'Artagnan in "Secrets of the Father," she excitedly goes on about how she used to swordfight with her brother while pretending to be The Great D'Artagnan. D'Artagnan (his son) clearly hears this and doesn't seem to be surprised or care. But several episodes later, in "Secrets," Jacqueline is suddenly very embarrassed about pretending to be The Great D'Artagnan and doesn't want D'Artagnan to know about it. When he overhears, he teases her about it. Neither of them seem to recall him finding out about it before.
- In season one of Boy Meets World, Mr. Feeny informs his students that they will be the high school class of 2000. The characters actually graduate five seasons later, in 1998.
- The X-Files: In Season 1, Mulder describes the abduction of his sister, saying he couldn't see what was happening due to paralysis which prevented him from turning his head. In the season 2 premiere, the abduction is shown in a flashback, and young Fox is looking right at her as she floats out the window.
- Mulder claims to be red-green colorblind in an early episode, yet doesn't seem to have any trouble noticing what's odd about the green blood shed by an alien bounty hunter in a later season.
- That '70s Show
- In the first episode, we learn that Eric and Donna have lived next door at least since age 4. In a later season, a flashback shows their first meeting, at age 8. Jackie is established in the first season as a sophomore, and the other characters as juniors in 1976. Five years later the characters (except Jackie) graduate at the same time. Three years after that, they all say goodbye to the 70's on New Years Eve, 1979. If not for the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas episodes, you could say that each season represents less than one year of the characters' lives...
- In the second episode, we meet Donna's sister Tina, who is never seen or mentioned again.
- WonderWoman TV Series: The pilot establishes that Paradise Island, at 1942, is a Hidden Elf Village of Action Girls who had never seen a man in a thousand years. Princess Diana is elected The Champion to travel to Men’s world. She is the first amazon to left Paradise Island in a thousand years. However, in third season’s episodes Diana's Disappearing Act,Cagliostro claims that Wonder Woman has stopped all his lineage plans since the original Cagliostro (born in the 18th century) and in Screaming Javelins, Diana remembers to have meet Napoleon Bonaparte, implying not only that she was in Europe those years, but that she was already doing her superhero job.
- Sex and the City - early in Season 6, Carrie is shopping with Samantha and tells her, "I don't buy furry shoes;" Carrie bought near-identical shoes (maxing out her credit card and allowing a friend to pay for them, no less) in Season 1. It wouldn't have been so painful but for the perfect storm it landed in: beginning of popular internet fandoms, resurgence of popular Long Runners, beginning of DVD box sets in Season 1 - the fandom was livid.
- During Josh Safran's run as showrunner for Gossip Girl this became the norm, to the point where the writers didn't seem to remember what had happened just an episode or two prior. The whole mess with Chuck's parentage is one example, as is the fact that most of the time no one can seem to remember that Lily is his adpotive mother, not his stepmother. Safran himself used this trope gratuitously in order to prop the Dan/Blair pairing. For example the sudden references to Dan supposedly supporting Blair in season one by going to an essay contest she partook in. The actual episodes this would have taken place during had Dan disliking Blair to the point that he questions if he could be in a relationship with Serena because she could be friends with somebody like Blair. The numerous interviews Safran gave where he blatantly ignored the show's continuity to prop the pairing certainly did not sit well with the fans.
- Same thing happens to prop up the Dan/Serena pairing the season after the Dan/Blair pairing happens. Dan pretty much proclaims Blair as the love of his life, and the only one he wants. A season later and it's back to Serena and he says the exact same things to Serena that he told Blair.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
- Sara was stated to have a brother, then later said she was an only child
- Several items that were on the official CSI website character bios were changed in onscreen canon, like Catherine being from Bozeman,MT(likely given to 'CSI NY's Lindsay instead) and Grissom's father being involved in smuggling.
- CSI NY
- The writers forgot names several times- Don is Don Flack Jr originally, but when his father was discussed, he wasn't referred to as Don Flack.
- Stella told a character in a season one ep that she lived at St.Basil's orphange until age 18, but later, a ep aired with a big plot point being that Stella lived with a foster sister who was molested and eventually killed her attacker. Unless she was just in and out of the orphanage.
- Mac tells the victim in the series pilot that he used to sit with his wife in the hospital, the indication being that she was found after 9/11 and died of her injuries. But later, the story was changed to no body ever being found. Some have fanwanked that perhaps she was ill before.
- Danny was originally from 'a family of cops', later stuff contradicts that for the most part. The writers retconned that it was extened family, but not all fans buy it.
- Christine's late brother who was Mac's friend was Stan Whitney officially but called something else in one ep.
- For most of the series, it's made clear that Hawkeye was an only child and that his mother died when he was ten. In several early episodes, Hawkeye mentions having a sister and that is mother is still alive.
- Henry Blake's wife was named Lorraine, but early episodes have him on the phone addressing her as "Mildred".
- Col. Potter once gave his age as 62, but in his first appearance, he said he lied about his age and joined the army during World War I at 15, which would make him around 50 at the time he arrived at the 4077th.
- Margaret Houlihan once told Col. Blake, "You look like my father did right before he died." Her father, 'Howitzer Al' Houlihan, would later visit the 4077th.
- In one episode, Frank was addressed as "Franklin D. Burns" (consistent with the novel, which listed his name as Franklin Delano Burns) but a later episode said his middle name was Marion.
- Highlander ran into one with the spin-off film 'Highlander:Endgame' when it had Duncan marrying someone and then making her immortal. Series canon states fairly clearly that he wasn't ever married.
- A bigger error, though, was Duncan's history with Xavier St.Cloud. Duncan tells in season one of meeting Xavier during WW 1. However, the flashback in season 3's "Finale" shows him meeting Xavier for the first time during the 1600s. There are a few ways to explain why they didn't recognize each other in WW 1, but none that can explain why he seemed to lie to Tessa.
- In "Arrested", several episodes into Modern Family's fourth season, Haley is expelled from college and returns home. She's curiously absent from the next episode, "Mistery Date", and the only mention of her is when her mother says she gets emails from Haley about her nails, implying Haley's still at college.
- On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda's number of siblings seem to change every so often, leading up to her spin-off where she only has one sister, Brenda. (not helping is the fact that on TMTMS, we do see Rhoda's sister...only it's a DIFFERENT one named Debbie who gets married when Mary is visiting in New York. We never hear about her or her family again.)
- How I Met Your Mother—which is pretty well-known for its Continuity Porn, Brick Jokes, and Running Gags that span multiple seasons—made a glaring error with the first-season episode "The Sweet Taste of Liberty" and the fourth-season episode "The Fight." In "The Sweet Taste of Liberty," Marshall is relieved that he doesn't have to fight a man he thought was hitting on Lily because he's never been in a fight before. However, in "The Fight," Marshall is able to take out a huge, violent man with one punch, and reveals that he used to have Fight Club-style brawls with his brothers.
- Maybe he just meant a fight with a non-sibling? Lots of people don't think of fighting siblings as being 'real fights'.
- This explanation could work, if not for Marshall's plot in the second episode relying very heavily on his insistence that his fights with his brothers were completely legitimate, and his friends laughing it off and even mocking how harmless they imagine the sibling fighting was.
- The first time they reveal Lily's Stalker with a Crush Scooter's real name, it's Bill. The second time they reveal it, it's Jeff.
- In the first season of ER, Doug Ross mentions at least twice that he has a son. No other details are given about this except the child's age—8—and that he's never even met the boy and doesn't even know his name. This is never mentioned again throughout his time on the series, not even during key storylines when it would make sense—his abusive father resurfacing and later dying, his and paramour Carol's plans to have a baby. What makes this a continuity error is that at one point, when asked if he has any kids, he says, "no". The writers either completely forgot about this or decided to drop plans for any further development.
- Also, med student Gallant mentions having a twin sister with cerebral palsy. When she shows up for a visit, it's multiple sclerosis that she's afflicted with.
- Carter is revealed to have had a younger brother who died of leukemia, inspiring him to become a doctor. This is kept consistent. The number of other siblings he has is not. At least one other sibling, a sister, is mentioned a handful of times before Carter officially becomes an only child thanks to his brother's passing.
Myths & Legends
- See the origins of gods in Greek Mythology.
- Aphrodite both rose from foam created by Cronus's severed testicles and was born to a mistress of Zeus.
- Dionysus is both the son of Zeus, and the son of Persephone and Hades.
- After swalling the pregnant Metis, Zeus gets an agonizing headache. When Hephaestus split his head open to relieve the pain, Athena sprang forth. She went on to become the most important goddess of her generation, and Zeus took great pride in the fact that he'd "fathered" her all by himself. Hera became jealous and gave birth to a child all by herself, to prove Zeus wasn't the only one who could do it. That child? Hephaestus. Some authors solved this one by having somebody else, like Prometheus or Hermes, split Zeus's head instead, or denied that version of Hephaestus's birth.
- The Canon of Norse Mythology consists of numerous sources which contradict each other on many points. In particular, the important story of Balder's death exists in two very different versions.
- Another big one is how Odin died: either by hanging himself from Yggdrasil, or by impaling himself on Yggdrasil with a spear.
- Dungeons & Dragons gods:
- The Demon Queen of Spiders, goddess of the drow, is called Lolth. R.A. Salvatore accidentally spelled her name Lloth when she became a Forgotten Realms character, and the error proliferated to the extent that a rationalization was needed.
- Juiblex had similar problems, being often misspelled as Jubilex. Since both are Demon Lords it is quite easy to invoke I Have Many Names to justify the differences.
- The original intro of the story involves Takua summoning the Toa in their canisters to the island. He got blasted into the sky to witness six metal capsules descending form the "heavens" and landing in the sea, then drifting to the island shores. Later material explained that these canisters had been floating in the ocean for a thousand years before Takua attempted to do this.
- Another example is what the Order of Mata Nui reported about Karzahni. In their book, they write about how he is amassing an army in his own realm to lead them into battle. When Karzahni reappears in the story, he reveals he's been following the Matoran who later became the Toa Inika ever since they had gotten away from him, so he would've had no time to train any army.
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction reveals Ratchet to be the last of the Lombaxes... but in Going Commando, Angela Cross is one too. Whoops. Apparently, Word Of God has said she's a separate but similar species. Regardless, in the prison in Tools of Destruction, they mention "prisoner's of Lombax descent", so Angela could also be half-Lombax. Flip Flop of God. As of A Crack in Time Angela has been confirmed as a Lombax (apparently females don't have tails).
- Which came first? Mew or Arceus? It is commonly explained that Arceus created Mew, as the legend states that Mew is simply the common ancestor of all Pokémon. Scientifically speaking, it's easy to understand by studying evolutionary lines why humans would never actually trace things back to Arceus, since Arceus was never a part of the evolutionary line. So, to humans, Mew was the first Pokémon until Arceus was discovered much later. More of a Retcon.
- Another aspect that people outside of the 'verse overlook is the fact that, while evolution has been scientifically traced back to Mew, Arceus is a legend. If you think about it, any trainer who catches Arceus is basically providing their world's first ever piece of conclusive evidence for the existence of God.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, we're told that King Mickey was the one who banished Pete from his kingdom permanently for a heinous act, but Birth By Sleep shows us it was Queen Minnie who banished him under a set time limit for being a bad sport.
- In Street Fighter II, Guile wants revenge on M. Bison for killing his friend Charlie. In Street Fighter IV, he's insistent that Charlie is still alive because (as established in the Street Fighter Alpha prequel series) they Never Found the Body.
- Red vs. Blue: Word of God says Grif was the Army's sole draftee, and his resentment of it drives him to be the world's biggest slacker. However, in the first episode, he says he "signed on to fight some aliens".
- In Season 5, Grif makes a snide remark about how Tucker was impregnated by an alien, in spite of the fact that the Reds had already departed the coastal base before the Alien appeared, and the Blues never mentioned the encounter to the Reds at all. The DVD Commentary states that They Just Didn't Care and were aiming for Rule of Funny, not continuity.
- Teahouse has a few inconsistencies over the comic:
- Claret's hair colour changes from light green◊ to a much darker one◊.
- Axis' hair colour changes, his tattoos vanish and his skin tone has become lighter. Seen here◊, which also notes the sudden change in maid outfits.