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Canon Discontinuity / Live-Action Films

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Canon Discontinuity in live-action movies.

  • None of the Alien, Predator, AvP, or Prometheus films have ever been declared non-canon, but they basically occupy three to five different continuities that treat each other with Broad Strokes at best. AvP blatantly contradicted both the Alien movies and the Predator movies. Prometheus contradicted the Alien movies despite being intended as a prequel, and its follow-up Covenant contradicted AvP. The Predator contradicts everything we're told about the Predators in both the Predator and AvP continuities.
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  • Friday the 13th: Part 5 has been ignored, contradicted, and treated as non-canon by all subsequent movies, which accept Part 6 as the canon follow-up to part 4.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has always existed in stages of canonicity, with works in higher levels overriding lower levels, and the films overriding everything. But after acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney decided to officially drop the lot of it, as seen here, with the business end formally coming down on April 25th, 2014. The Disney-Lucasfilm group created a dedicated Story Team to ensure everything produced under the new regime, starting with Star Wars Rebels, is iron-clad and wholly consistent canonically, but this necessitates the formal axing and cessation of the old EU and content for it. All of the old EU material is now reclassified as "Legends" that are an Alternate Continuity, and sold under the label of Star Wars Legends. The only previously established installments that remain in-canon post-Story Team are the six theatrical films and the Star Wars: The Clone Wars pilot film and television series (which serves the role as the prequel to Rebels). However, much of Legends continuity has subsequently made its way back into Story Team canon in modified form, with Rebels itself featuring a number of characters/species/concepts/etc. which debuted in the old continuity.

    One particularly noteworthy example from Star Wars that is still treated as Broad Strokes in the Legends continuity is Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the first Star Wars novel written, and which was intended to be the basis of a low budget sequel if A New Hope tanked. There are a number of plot elements that are outright ignored by The Empire Strikes Back, and virtually everything onward. What makes this book especially noteworthy, however, is that it was written at a time before George Lucas decided that Luke and Leia were siblings. Yeah. There’s some Unresolved Sexual Tension between the two, which unintentionally ended up being Incest Subtext in retrospect. Although there’s that infamous moment when Luke is recovering from the Wampa attack on Hoth that DID happen in Empire, so maybe not EVERYTHING from Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was as ignored as we’d all hope.
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  • Superman Returns ignores Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (and Supergirl), instead having Superman leave for five years at some point after Superman II.
  • The Godzilla franchise is particularly infamous for this. Pay close attention here: The Return of Godzilla (also known as Godzilla 1985) ignored every Godzilla movie except the 1954 original. The Heisei Era movies after The Return of Godzilla create a new timeline that is very tightly interwoven, with a largely recurring main cast and developing plotlines from movie to movie. The "ignore every previous movie except the 1954 original" reset button was pushed again four movies in a row: Godzilla 2000, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, and Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. The next movie, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., was a sequel to the previous film, but the next film after that, Godzilla: Final Wars, has an ambiguous continuity that could fit anywhere or nowhere in the series. Vs. Megaguirus, GMK and Final Wars all treat the American Godzilla as canonical... but have no relation to each other! This American Godzilla, or "Zilla", represents a particularly unique variation of this phenomenon: he is consistently treated as canonically existing in the franchise, but also as not being a true Godzilla (although only retroactively). The more recent Godzilla films of the 2010s, starting with Godzilla (2014), have also started ignoring even the 1954 original in favour of a clean slate, including only nods to its events.
  • Highlander is one of the most retconned canons in existence outside of comicbooks. Almost all iterations of the franchise accept the original movie as canonical, with a few various retcons, but tend to ignore each other:
    • The second movie gives an origin story to the immortals from the first movie, revealing them to be alien beings who were reincarnated on Earth after they were exiled from their home planet without any memories of their past lives. This origin proved to be controversial among fans of the first movie and a later "Renegade Cut" tries to downplay the alien origin through extensive re-edits and redubbed dialogue, making them instead into time travellers.
    • The TV series ignores the second movie, and retcons the ending of the first.
    • The cartoon TV series accepts some of the flashback stuff from the first movie (there are immortals, two of them are Connor and Ramirez) and ignores everything else, including the bits of the first movie set in 1980s New York.
    • The third movie ignores the then-ongoing TV series and the second movie.
    • The fourth and fifth movies follows the TV series' continuity, while ignoring the second and third movies.
    • And the fifth movie has been retconned into All Just a Dream via Word of God.
  • Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland were rendered non-canonical by Return to Sleepaway Camp.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service ignores You Only Live Twice, so far as it shows James Bond and Blofeld meeting face-to-face for apparently the first time (neither recognises the other) when they had already met in the previous film. Of course, both were played by different actors, but in-universe that's no excuse. You can blame Pragmatic Adaptation on this, as the book On Her Majesty's Secret Service precedes You Only Live Twice (where Bond goes to Japan and finds Blofeld there by accident).
    • In terms of the official Bond film chronology, Eon Productions has publicly stated that Casino Royale (1967) (a parody of the titular book; not to be confused with the more direct 1954 or 2006 adaptations) and Never Say Never Again (a remake of Thunderball) never happened. Both films were made without Eon's involvement, and neither appear on any official Bond home video compilations despite both now being owned by MGM, owner of the entire Bond film series. The reasons for both of their existences are entirely the result of copyright issues: Ian Fleming optioned the film rights to Casino Royale separately from the rest of the main series to Columbia Pictures, who continued to hold them until 1999, while Never Say Never Again was the brainchild of executive producer Kevin McClory, who also produced Thunderball and for decades claimed ownership of certain elements and characters to it when Fleming was writing the novel with McClory's help.
  • The third Chakushin Ari movie, Chakushin Ari: Final, is promoted like the grand finale to a trilogy but actually ignores the events of Chakushin Ari 2.
  • The Halloween franchise has done this to the point of being referred to as a "choose your own adventure" series:
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show creator Richard O'Brien almost immediately disowned the semi-sequel Shock Treatment, as did the director of both films, Jim Sharman. (Richard has stated that Shock Treatment, originally written as a strict RHPS sequel but soon to evolve into a completely different film, was a mere abortion.) Richard would eventually write both a movie script (Revenge of the Old Queen) and a stage musical (Rocky Horror: The Second Coming) that wiped the events of Shock Treatment out of the canon entirely. However, neither were produced.
  • Rocky Balboa has all previous Rocky movies mentioned except for Rocky V, and the film doesn't even mention any events from that movie. This is due to Sylvester Stallone's disapproval of said movie as well as the disapproval of almost everyone who watched it. Though the next film Creed, does somewhat reference the film, indicating that it did happen, just that Rocky doesn't like talking about it.
  • Universal Soldier has had numerous sequels with numerous instances of installments ignoring other installments. The first film was followed by two Made-for-TV sequels, Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business, which were ignored by the next film, Universal Soldier: The Return. The following two films, Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, ignored every previous movie except the first.
  • The third and fourth Pumpkinheads ignore the second, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, which was only tenuously connected to the original anyway.
  • The Jaws franchise ignored Jaws 3D when creating the sequel, Jaws: The Revenge. The tagline even said Jaws: The Revenge was the final installment in the trilogy.
  • Boggy Creek 2: The Legend Continues is a curious case; Charles B. Pierce produced and directed the original The Legend of Boggy Creek, a documentary/dramatic re-enactment about an actual rural legend of a sasquatch-like creature living in the backwoods of Fouke, Arkansas. The studio that owned the film tried to cash in on its popularity and made a full-on fictional sequel, Return to Boggy Creek, without the involvement of Charles B. Pierce. Charles B. Pierce then, out of spite, made his own sequel, completely ignoring the events of Return, combining a fictional narrative about a college nature trip with more dramatic re-enactments of alleged sightings of the creature.
  • The Pink Panther:
  • X-Men Film Series: While no X-Men, Wolverine, or Deadpool film has ever been officially declared non-canon, Days of Future Past used time-travel to erase the timeline in which Origins, X1, X2, X3, and The Wolverine take place.
  • Other than its title, The Exorcist III completely pretends Exorcist II: The Heretic never happened. So does the 2016 series.
  • According to American Reunion, the Direct-To-DVD sequels didn't happen.
  • Planet of the Apes: In the third film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Zira states that apes were held as slaves for several generations before rising up, and that a gorilla named Aldo was the first to say "no". But Conquest of the Planet of the Apes tried to retcon that out by editing Zira's speech when Caesar watched it on tape. There was a comic, Revolution On The Planet Of The Apes that tried to repair some of the stuff after Conquest, though its canonical status isn't clear. It's possible, though, that the changes in the events of the ape revolution are a result of a changed timeline rather than continuity issues.
  • When Disney purchased The Muppets franchise in 2004, they gained the rights to all but two of the theatrical Muppet films: The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppets from Space (which are both held by Sony). While Disney has made call-backs to Take Manhattan in their post-2004 Muppet works, From Space and Gonzo's newfound status within the film as an alien are ignored by the continuity, returning the character to his pre-1999 designation as a "whatever". If you look hard enough though, you can see a DVD copy of the movie in Walter's bedroom at the beginning of The Muppets.
  • The Conan the Barbarian film The Legend of Conan is a sequel to Conan the Barbarian (1982) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The producers have already stated that it will completely disregard Conan the Destroyer as well as the 2011 reboot.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: Even discounting the remake and its prequel, which exist in their own separate continuity, every film in the series discounts all the others save for at least parts of the original.
    • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is ostensibly a direct sequel to the first film, featuring many of the same characters, though it completely ignores the original film's prescript, which says that the crimes of Leatherface's family were discovered, presumably so there could be a sequel in the first place.
    • Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III largely ignores the second film, though creates some confusion by having Stretch (the protagonist of the previous film) make a cameo appearance. Yet various plot contradictions make it clear that the second and third film cannot exist within the same continuity.
    • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation ignores both the previous films. It does make mention of two "minor incidents" occurring since the first movie, but again, plot contradictions make it clear that the previous two films cannot exist within the same continuity as this film.
    • Texas Chainsaw 3D not only ignores all the previous sequels, but also rewrites the events of the original to have occurred in the early 1990's instead of the 1970's (the filmmakers described it as "a sequel to an imaginary remake from 1993"). The sixth film, Leatherface, is set in the same continuity as the previous film, being a prequel to the aforementioned "imaginary remake from 1993."
    • 2022's Texas Chainsaw Massacre ignores Chainsaw 3D and Leatherface, as well the original batch of sequels, and again acts as a direct sequel to the 1974 film, presumably without retconning it to a different decade.
  • Dumb and Dumber To completely ignores the existence of Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, most notably with Harry's parents and Freida Felcher being completely different characters. Since the film was made without the involvement of Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels or the Farrelly brothers, and was roundly savaged by critics and fans, few have had problems with this.
  • The Terminator franchise has suffered from this more than almost any other. T4 (Salvation) treated T3 with Broad Strokes at best, acknowledging the idea that John Connor would eventually meet and marry a redhead named Kate Brewster but basically shoving the rest of T3 into Loose Canon. Then Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles declared T3 and T4 apocryphal and picked up where T2 left off. Then T5 (Genisys) declared T3, T4, and T:SCC apocryphal, picked up where T2 left off, and used time-travel to undo the events of T1 and T2 as well. Then T6 (Dark Fate) declared T3, T4, T:SCC, and T5 apocryphal and picked up where T2 left off. Nobody knows what'll happen with T7 but the smart money is that it'll declare T3, T4, T:SCC, T5, and T6 non-canon and pick up where T2 left off.
  • Due to its exclusion from the Carry On DVD boxset, the failed reboot Carry On Columbus is regarded as non-canon.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf's production company, Creative Power Entertaining, ignores the live-action film based on the series, I Love Wolffy, and its sequel I Love Wolffy 2, whenever possible. Neither film is mentioned on their official website, nor has the company uploaded either film to YouTube. Understandable, since both films are the only Pleasant Goat films that aren't particularly well-liked by fans.
  • The extremely dark ending to Carlos Saura's allegorical drama Ana and the Wolves has three brothers, the eponymous "wolves", gang-rape and murder family governess Ana. In somewhat Lighter and Softer sequel Mama Turns 100, Ana is alive and well years later, and has returned to the family mansion for Mama's 100th birthday party.


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