Soft Reboot

You have a classic property, one that's made money hand over fist for you for years, perhaps decades, but now, it's getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe it's dated, maybe recent installments have tarnished its name, maybe it's just bogged down in Continuity Lockout. Perhaps it's just not going well. Or maybe the creators just want to try something new. Resetting the thing to bring in new fans sounds like a good idea, but you're afraid the backlash among existing fans to a Continuity Reboot will be epic in its drama.

What to do? Well, instead of starting over, dip into the Troper Well and pull out a way of explaining you're not really tossing away the classic stories the fans love. No, this is an Alternate Timeline. Or a sequel set sometime after the events of the old series that mentions the things fans loved but quietly neglects or Retcons the things not so beloved. Perhaps it's a Retool where significant parts of the setting are changed and even most of the main cast are replaced going forward. Or a prequel, or a Time Skip, or even a separate adventure taking place somewhere else so you have an excuse not to mention the events of the original series, while not denying they took place.

Contrast Continuity Reboot, where the old story and continuing plot lines are explicitly abandoned and started over. Not to be confused with a Soft Reset.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai. The series was first animated in 2001, but production problems caused its premature ending. It was rebooted in 2004 as Hanaukyō Maid Tai: La Verite. The second series takes place in the same continuity, with a number of differences (both small and large) between it and the first show.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain Atom: Armageddon helped serve as a soft reboot for the WildStorm Comics universe.
  • Spawn: Following Al Simmons' return, the comic instituted a massive retcon that ignores everything that happened between Al defeating Malebolgia and his suicide.

    Film 
  • The rebooted Star Trek films take place in an alternate timeline, with Old!Spock's presence confirming that everything that happened in the original Star Trek universe still happened, and Word of God that said original timeline still exists, albeit one where Old!Spock disappeared into a black hole.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past undoes some of the events in the first few films, with the Close Enough Timeline at the end. Jean and Scott are still around.
  • Superman Returns acknowledged the events of the Christopher Reeve films Superman and Superman II but ignored the far less liked subsequent sequels.
  • The Highlander universe...oy.
  • Prometheus and Alien: Covenant ended up being prequels to the Aliens universe and altering some long-held ideas about the setting.
  • An upcoming Predator film is planned to acknowledge the events of the first two films, bringing aspects from Predators regarding clan warfare between rival factions, and ignoring the Alien vs. Predator films.
  • Jurassic World recognizes the events of Jurassic Park but glosses over or outright ignores the events of the sequels.
  • Batman Forever nominally takes place in the same continuity as the Tim Burton Batman films, but it completely changes the design of Gotham, does away with Michael Keaton as Batman, introduces a new cast and goes over Batman's origin after Batman 1989 did the same.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction follows a very conclusive victory in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but in the interim Human/Autobot relations were severed and a CIA official sponsored a Private Military Corporation to hunt down all Decepticons still on Earth, but secretly targets Autobots as well and they go into hiding. This scenario creates new human protagonists and justifies the massive change in the Autobot cast as well.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation was made in response to the lukewarm reaction to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which was considered too high-tech to the point of lacking tension (everyone had a tool or vehicle to solve the problem), too many characters showing up and dropping out of the narrative and relied too much on slick CG for their action scenes. Retaliation grounds the series by having the main team killed off in the first act and reducing the cast to a handful of people who are short on supplies and resources, officially disavowed, and labeled as rogues and terrorists. It still technically follows Rise of Cobra, but the tone of the movie is MUCH different.
  • The official trailer for Ghostbusters (2016) implied that the new film would be a soft reboot of the series ("30 years ago, 4 scientists saved New York") but the film ultimately turned out to be a complete Continuity Reboot and the line was referring to the actual movie, not the story.
  • The Creative Closing Credits for 22 Jump Street implies this of the film's relation to the 21 Jump Street TV series, where the current Jump Street officers meet the original cast, thirty years later, calling them "legends."

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda is set in a different galaxy from the Milky Way, over 600 years after the original trilogy, with the characters having gone into stasis at about the same time as the events of the second game and in intergalactic space during the events of the third game, allowing the creators the opportunity to not have the climactic events of the Mass Effect Trilogy (and the different endings and player choices) be referenced. This is lampshaded at one point when a news broadcast mentions they've sent a message back to the Milky Way but haven't heard a response yet.
  • Thief (2014) appears to reboot the universe, but several details make an allusion to to the original games (including a very heavy implication that this game's Garret is the Identical Grandson of the previous title's protagonist) taking place in the past.
  • Super Title 64 Advance games did this a lot:
    • Super Metroid continues the continuity of the first two games, but is essentially a remake of Metroid, taking place on the same planet, with roughly the same plot and the same boss enemies, with a few new surprises.
    • Contra 3: The Alien Wars is basically a remake of Contra with updated graphics and new mechanics. The final Boss Rush of the game is even a compilation of several bosses from the first two games.
    • Mega Man X takes place in a Distant Future which acknowledges the events of the first series, but has a very different plot and an all new set of characters.
  • Fallout and Fallout 2 were both set in post-apocalyptic California and tended to be focused primarily on the issue of survival in a world after nuclear war. Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 are set significantly later, have more focus on the Retro Universe setting and indications that the pre-Great War era was, in some senses, a Crapsack World, and instead of showing people just trying to eke out an existence show civilization rebuilding with the major conflicts not being simple survival but what type of societies will emerge.
  • Persona 3 can be considered this to the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series. Persona 3 was the game that introduced many of the elements that the series would continue to use going forward; the protagonist being a wildcard and assigned the Fool Arcana, Igor being the in charge of the Velvet Room, Social Links, and emphasis on the day-today school life of the protagonists. In-Universe, the first two games of the series are rarely referenced, leading to 3 effectively being the "first" game in the modern Persona storyline.
  • The Soul Series has Soulcalibur V, which jumps ahead seventeen years later after the original series, replaces many of the regular characters with successors, removes others, and has a different storyline compared to previous games. In fact, the game's director Daishi Odashima originally wanted it to be called Soul Edge II, in order to mark his new direction for the franchise. However, this did not take with fans at all with many feeling like the new characters and story was glorified fan-fiction. With director Odashima gone and the series promoting pre-time skip characters, it's anyone's guess if his changes will stick.
  • Divinity: Original Sin is this to the Divinity games, but in contrast to other examples of this trope, it actually is set further in the past. As this timeline shows, Original Sin is set in 4 AR, the first game in the series (Divine Divinity) is set in 1217 AD. Thus, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is closer to the other games than this one.
  • One of the criticisms by more old-school fans of The Elder Scrolls was the fact that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was set about 200 years after Oblivion, in a series where the first four games took place over the span of roughly thirty four years. (Similar to Fallout 3, another Bethesda product). This essentially made the game act like a soft reboot of the lore, while still being able to fit into the timeline.
    • Of course, this isn't the first time that Elder Scrolls did this. Its spinoff games, Redguard and Elder Scrolls Online essentially got around having to fit into the lore by having them all set hundreds of years before Arena.
  • Star Ocean essentially did this with the third game, then became Non-Linear Sequel after that. The first two games (plus the spinoff) in the series take place within the span of 25-30 years, everything after that is either in the distant future or in the case of Star Ocean: The Last Hope in the distant past.
  • The Fire Emblem series has multiple universes, and while direct and non-linear sequels do exist, there has been an essential "main" timeline (Fire Emblem Archanea&Fire Emblem Gaiden, Fire Emblem Jugdral, and Fire Emblem Awakening). Interestingly enough, this has happened twice within that timeline. Fire Emblem Jugdral was set in the distant past, while Fire Emblem Awakening was set in the distant future. Being set in the distant future allowed Awakening to have so many call backs and mythology gags to Archanaea, Gaiden, and Jugdral all at once, whereas Jugdral's only ties to Archanea was within the lore.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony G3 had a reboot near the end which fans dub the "Core 7" reboot. It's obvious in both the toyline and Animated Adaptation as most ponies besides the titular seven were scrapped entirely. The animated specials pushed most of the major ponies to background roles. Rainbow Dash also received a personality overhaul and her accent changed from British to American.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016) serves as a soft reboot of The Powerpuff Girls. The girls are still heroes, the old villains are still around, but Pokey Oaks Kindergarten is torn down early in the show and the girls are sent to Midway Elementary School (apparently it's a K-12 school), the girls often fight newer foes instead of the old ones, their personalities have noticeably changed, and they now can create Hard Light constructs with little to no mention how they could.
  • 2017's The Magic School Bus Rides Again takes place in a similar continuity to 1994's The Magic School Bus and seems to have featured the same events, however it also has the characters in modern times despite not aging.
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