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.


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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.
  • Arguably, this is what really happened to the DC Universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths, although it is popularly referred to as a Continuity Reboot. With the exception of a few characters and franchises, most notably Superman and Wonder Woman who both received 'hard reboots', the rest of the DC Universe was simply subjected to a few retcons (to account for the destruction of the Multiverse and the fact that all the heroes now retroactively always existed on the same Earth and timeline), and new status quos - with the bulk of past stories still technically in canon, provided they didn't contradict any of the new retcons.
    • Batman is probably the best example of a character who underwent a Post-Crisis Soft Reboot. He was given a new origin story in Year One, as was the then-current Robin, Jason Todd, the tone and aesthetics of his corner of the DCU subtly changed, and some of the sillier sci-fi aspects of his Silver Age stories were ignored or subjected to retcons. Otherwise, he was more or less the same character he'd always been, with his story continuing unbroken since his creation in 1939.

  • 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. In addition to looking like just a continuation of previous films instead of a Bad Future, 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."
  • The James Bond films also used to work like this. Each time the lead actor changed, the series was effectively soft-reboooted. It helps that the series, for the most part, never really had much continuity to begin with, beyond the occasional Continuity Nod to the death of Bond's wife Tracy. All this changed with the 2006 film Casino Royale, which was not only a hard Continuity Reboot, but also established a firm continuity for the franchise that has persisted all through the Daniel Craig era so far.

    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 17 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, the next installment Soulcalibur VI completely did away with the Time Skip and returned to the original setting.
  • 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Long time veterans of the series were critical of the 200-year Time Skip between Oblivion and Skyrim, after the first four games in the main series (as well as the Dungeon Crawler spin-off Battlespire) all took place over a span of roughly 34 years. This essentially made the game act like a soft reboot of the setting, while still being able to fit into the timeline.
    • The series got around this with its other spin-off games, Redguard (an Action-Adventure game with few RPG elements) and The Elder Scrolls Online (an MMORPG) by having them set several centuries before the main series but still fitting neatly into the established timeline of the series.
  • 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 is set in the distant past, while Fire Emblem Awakening is set in the distant future. Being set in the distant future allows Awakening to have a ton of call backs and mythology gags to Archanaea, Gaiden, and Jugdral all at once, whereas Jugdral's only ties to Archanea are within the lore.
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero: Pirate's Curse brought the series to a pretty conclusive ending, with Shantae finally becoming a full genie—but WayForward couldn't just not make games with their mascot! As a result, Half-Genie Hero starts off with this change undone; all of the main characters are still there and act more or less the same as they always have, but the plot has largely reverted back to where things were in the first game, with Shantae being a half-genie (it's even in the title!). To cap it off, the first level of the game is a semi-remake of the intro stage from the original game. One of the Scuttle Town villagers hangs a lampshade on this by way of Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Armored Core Nexus is ostensibly a sequel to Armored Core 3 and Silent Line, but it's really more this. The game starts a new story arc concluded in Last Raven and major concepts such as the Controller, IBIS and Layered are ignored. None of the characters from the previous two games reappear, leaving the corporations Crest, Kisaragi and Mirage as the only story elements linking both halves of the Armored Core 3 line together. On a gameplay level, the game did major-enough changes to the mechanics and part balancing that transferring the credit balance and parts acquired is not possible, something atypical for non-numbered Armored Core games.
  • Killer Instinct: Due the last game prior to being release way back in 1996, the creators of the 2013 game for Xbox One went for a soft reboot to avoid Continuity Lockout for the benefit of newcomers to the franchise. While the 2013 has been frequently referred to as a reboot, but again story line tread of the prior games are acknowledged, such as the nature of Jago's tiger spirit It was actually the spirit of Gargos, Jago and Black Orchid being half-siblings, and most notably the character Tusk, revealed to be an ageless immortal in the 2013 game, is the same exact character as the one from Killer Instinct 2 (set in the prehistoric past due to Time Travel) rather than being a Legacy Character who has the namesake of an ancestor (as is the case for Kim Wu and Maya Fallegeros.


    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.