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Exiled From Continuity / Licensing Reasons

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Elements Exiled from Continuity for licensing reasons.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Leiji Matsumoto is responsible for the artistic designs in Space Battleship Yamato even though the franchise was owned by the late Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the show's producer. Matsumoto can have a ship called the Yamato (with the same exact design) in his own manga such as Galaxy Express 999, but he can't use characters and situations from Yamato such as the Yamato crewmembers, the Gamilas, or Iscandar. Nishizaki, on the other hand, couldn't use Matsumoto's character designs (such as the trademark circular gauges or "potatohead" character designs). Nor could he use Matsumoto's ship designs.
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    Comic Books 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel had this problem after the 'Angel' license was dropped by Dark Horse and picked up by IDW. Eventually, an agreement of sorts allowed the use of a couple of characters, and in 2010, at Joss Whedon's request to have everything Buffy comics under one publisher and thus avoid this trope, IDW voluntarily surrendered the Angel license to Dark Horse. Dark Horse later threw IDW a (very little) bone in 2013 by letting them do an utterly lying "Mars Attacks! Spike" variant cover for their "Mars Attacks The Transformers" one-shot.
  • The DCU:
    • DC Comics briefly published a series of titles centered around the Red Circle heroes, who were owned by Archie Comics. Archie has now regained publishing rights to the characters and has relaunched them in their own titles, meaning that DC can no longer use or mention any of the Red Circle characters, even those who interacted with other DC heroes. (The Flashpoint Cosmic Retcon helps in this regard.)
    • During the 1980's, there were several anti-drug PSAs starring the Teen Titans. The PSAs were sponsored by cookie manufacturer Keebler, but because Nabisco was already using Robin for its cookie packs, he had to be omitted and replaced with a Canon Foreigner named the Protector.
    • The Milestone heroes were barred from appearing in DC's Blackest Night crossover so the company could avoid possible issues with future reprints. The 2011 DC relaunch had Static moving to New York, presumably as a way for DC to avoid using the rest of the Dakota-based Milestone heroes. Despite this, Static appeared in Justice League Unlimited without much issue, and both Rocket and Icon appeared in Young Justice.
    • While Rocket, Icon, and Static can appear in the television episodes of Young Justice, Rocket and Icon have since been pulled from the tie-in comic. Rocket appeared with Zatanna for a brief scene in issue #20, but when Zatanna reappeared in following issues, Rocket had disappeared. Icon was notably shown on the solicited covers for two different issues, but by publication time, he'd been photoshopped out.
    • Harley's Little Black Book #5 is a sequel to the infamous Superman vs. Muhammad Ali crossover from the 1970's. Because of the licensing problems involved, Ali isn't mentioned by name. This is even jokingly referenced in the solicitation for the issue.
      (Mumble-mumble) years ago, the alien race known as the Scrubb forced Superman into a boxing match for the ages, against Earth’s greatest heavyweight champion, (mumble-mumble)!
  • Marvel has had a bunch of series over the years that were integrated into the Marvel Universe, only to be discarded when the licensing stopped. Typically, Marvel keeps the rights to the characters who were created specifically for the comic books; these characters sometimes appear in cameos after the main characters can no longer be used.
    • There was ROM: Space Knight, who was created to sell toys. The thing is, while the comics series was a rousing success, the toy flopped. Inexplicably, Marvel has never been able to get the rights back. This has the side effect of preventing other comics in which he appeared from being collected in trades - most notably an issue of Heroes for Hire. (ROM has been able to make a few cameos, unnamed, in his humanoid form.)
      • Interestingly, the Dire Wraiths were first mentioned in commercials for the toy, but never received figures of their own. As such, pretty much everything else about them, including their backstory and appearance, was created by Marvel for the ROM comic book. When IDW began publishing a new ROM series decades later, they were allowed to use the name "Dire Wraiths," but the creatures themselves had to be completely redesigned so that they'd be visually distinct from Marvel's Dire Wraiths.
    • Micronauts was another toy-based comic. In this case, one concept from it, Captain Universe, managed to escape into the greater Marvel Universe. The non-toy based characters have made a few appearances in Marvel under the name "Microns", and one of these, Bug, played a decent-sized role in Annihilation: Conquest, later joining the Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • And much like the ROM example above, Hasbro owns the franchise now (it helps that, via Takara's Microman, they're also related to Transformers), so when IDW created a Micronauts title of their own, most of the toy based characters had to be reworked and others replaced or dropped entirely.
    • Godzilla had a 24-issue series in which he fought S.H.I.E.L.D., the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and countless other Marvel heroes. He then disappeared. Marvel has been able to "cheat" a bit here, though, by having the villain from the series later capture the big G (offscreen) and send him in a mutated mind-controlled form (practically a Captain Ersatz) against Iron Man. Red Ronin, a Humongous Mecha from the series, has made semi-periodic appearances since the series.
      • The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier that was used to hunt Godzilla later appeared in The Incredible Hercules. Like all Helicarriers, it fell from the sky.
      • In later comics, Godzilla does make a brief cameo appearance in his regular form, though he's never mentioned by name. This is called attention to in the Marvel Monsters Handbook, where Elsa Bloodstone is baffled that they don't have a monster profile on Godzilla.
      • After the end of the Millennium series of Godzilla films in Japan, Toho was willing to license out Godzilla, and Marvel took the opportunity to license Godzilla just long enough to reprint the 24 issue series as a single Essentials paperback.
    • The Transformers and the G.I. Joe series were specifically set in Alternate Continuities which were similar to but not quite the same as the regular Marvel Earth.
      • The Transformers was initially set on the regular Marvel Earth, with Spider-Man guest-starring in the third issue, although it was quickly shifted to an alternate continuity as the series went from a four-issue limited series to an ongoing title. Likely in reference to how unlikely this was to stick, Nick Fury appeared in one panel and demanded not to have to fight the giant radioactive lizard again. This meant that IDW's first reprint TPB series couldn't reprint said issue (a text synopsis was used instead) nor could they reprint any Marvel UK stories involving Death's Head (another Marvel character that appeared in Transformers UK). In the second reprint TPB series, they could reprint said issues below thanks to IDW negotiating with Marvel.
      • While Death's Head is unequivocally a Marvel character, replacing the character with newer versions (Death's Head II and Death's Head 3.0) does neatly avoid the original's back story involving him being taken from the Transformers universe to the Marvel Universe via the TARDIS. This causes problems in reprints of the original stories, though the gaps are usually lampshaded as the result of "incomplete" archives. Death's Head may have had a reprieve, however — both Panini in the UK and IDW in the US were able to reprint the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip in which he crossed over, and he appeared in the Kieron Gillen S.W.O.R.D series.
      • G.I. Joe also crossed over with the main Marvel universe on a couple of occasions, but these were tiny cameo appearances. In one issue of G.I. Joe, J. Jonah Jameson happened to ask from a newspaper seller if they carried the Daily Bugle, though the actual character was not referred to by name. One issue of Spider-Man featured soldiers in a couple of panels who bore a striking resemblance to the Joes, though again, names were not mentioned.
      • Of course, since Circuit Breaker's motivation is that she hates Transformers, Marvel has no use whatsoever for her, unlike Death's Head. It seems pretty unlikely that we'll ever see her again anywhere at this point. The only reason Marvel even has the rights to her is that she debuted in her heroic alias in Secret Wars II, as Hasbro ended up owning the rights to The Transformers' original characters.
    • NFL Superpro, the only character whose entire existence can be considered a Dork Age, was only stopped because the NFL pulled its license. He is still in continuity, and was mentioned in an issue of Marvel Team-up (as just Superpro) a year or three back. Robert Kirkman, writer of Marvel Team-Up, wanted to actually use Superpro in a story, but wasn't allowed to.
    • Likewise, in reprints of old issues of things like Marvel Team-Up or Marvel Two-In-One, they've had to skip issues that include team-ups with Doc Savage, Kull, Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane...
    • Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu was a contemporary continuation of the Fu Manchu stories, with the title character being the rebellious son of the villain. While Marvel can still use Shang-Chi himself, the expired license means the original series is very rarely in print (though Sax Rohmer's estate did eventually allow Marvel to reprint the original Shang-Chi stories in four omnibuses), and that Shang-Chi's father can no longer be referred to by his original name.note  This also extended to some of Shang-Chi's supporting cast as well, as the character's origin story involved him having a Heel Realization after his father seemingly tricked him into murdering Dr. Petrie, one of the protagonists of the original novels. Likewise, throughout the subsequent series, Shang-Chi was aided by a retired British operative named Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and also encountered Fah Lo Suee, Fu Manchu's daughter, both of whom also originated in the books. The expiration of the license means that subsequent stories were unable to reference Petrie or Smith by name, and that Fah Lo Suee had to be rechristened "Cursed Lotus" when she reappeared years later during a Journey into Mystery storyline.
    • Before Panini bought up Marvel UK, the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip was more-or-less part of the Marvel Universe. While both DWM and Marvel still make occasional nods to the shared mythology invented by Alan Moore and others, they can't refer directly to each other any more. Notably, the Special Executive never mention their Gallifreyan origins.
    • During Marvel's run of Star Trek comics in the late-nineties, they put out two issues of a Star Trek/X-Men crossover (one issue with the TOS crew, one with the TNG crew), which also spawned a novel. Odds of Storm or Wolverine mentioning that they actually met Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Pretty much nil.
    • Shogun Warriors, a comic that featured Combattler V, Brave Raideen, and Planet Robo Danguard Ace. Not a chance of them showing up ever again, though in this case it's because all three machines were explicitly destroyed after the license ran out. As with the Micronauts example above, the non-toy characters (such the human pilots of the aforementioned robots) survived, and have made sporadic appearances in the Marvel Universe.

    Franchises 
  • Whoniverse:
    • Peter Cushing's "Dr. Who" cannot make appearances in most Doctor Who media, especially not visual media — he can't even appear in the show in poster format (scuppering a bit of tasty Literary Agent Hypothesis Fan Wank that would have appeared in "The Day of the Doctor") as the BBC do not own the rights to him. Short Trips and Sidesteps contained a short Hammer Horror-esque story with his Doctor and TARDIS — or rather Tardis — crew, but due to being a book it did not use his visual likeness. The story also made sure to use his Tardis team from Dr. Who and the Daleks, where they were named Ian, Barbara, and Susan (the same names as the companions from the show itself and therefore owned by the BBC), rather than his team from Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., Louise, Tom, and Susan. However, Doctor Who Magazine was able to do a Cushing strip in a special about the movies, perhaps related to DWM not being a BBC title. That said, it remains the character's sole original comic.
    • The Daleks never made an on-page appearance in the Doctor Who New Adventures because the publishers couldn't afford to pay Terry Nation his royalties. The video game Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror had to replace the Daleks with Controllers, and K-9 with a robotic cat named Splinx.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Stargate-verse, the only SG-1 characters to appear in the pilot episode of Stargate Atlantis were Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson, even though other characters like Col. Samantha Carter would have made sense given that the new series was very tech-heavy. Producer Brad Wright noted that MGM only allowed them to use pre-existing characters from the original movie for the pilot, although they were permitted to bring the other cast members in for later episodes. Things seem to have gotten straightened out later on because the pilot of Stargate Universe had both Samantha Carter and Walter Harriman from SG-1 making an appearance.

    Pinball 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ravenloft is a Dungeons & Dragons setting that has a habit of grabbing nasty characters from the game's other settings. As such, darklords from the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Dark Sun settings can be found along with home-grown villains. When Wizards of the Coast licensed White Wolf to publish the setting for D&D Third Edition, the contract did not include any other settings, so the new books had to be scrubbed of all such references in favor of vague terms like "a distant land". It also spelled the end of Lord Soth, a major Dragonlance villain, who was replaced with a character original to the setting.
  • The tabletop wargame Star Fleet Battles (and its RPG spin-off Prime Directive) is an interesting case; they're only licenced to use elements of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series, but not the actual characters. So in addition to the Enterprise crew never being directly mentioned, the game is set in an Alternate Continuity that lacks Cardassians, Borg, Ferengi, and many of the now-established races of The Federation. On the other hand, it's also the only Star Trek spin-off that still uses the Kzinti.
    • The Star Trek CCG was only able to use characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation onward, since a CCG based around the original series had been licensed to a different company. A loophole later emerged with the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", which made almost all of the original series characters into DS9 characters, and they promptly got cards.
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    Video Games 
  • The Game & Watch Gallery series of Game & Watch ports for Game Boy and Game Boy Advance were unable to port Mickey Mouse, Mickey and Donald and Popeye to the series due to Disney and King Features Syndicate, respectively, refusing to license the characters to Nintendo. They weren't able to reissue to originals through the Nintendo Mini Classics line, either. Snoopy Tennis, based on Peanuts, was rereleased as a Mini Classic in 2000 thanks to negotiations with United Media, but that game was reissued by Take-Two Interactive instead of Nintendo.
  • The Revenge of Shinobi featured enemies parodying such characters as The Terminator, the Hulk, Batman and Godzilla, but in later years the game was altered to remove those cameos. In particular, a boss that resembled Spider-Man remained unchanged until the 2009 re-releases, as Sega already had the character licensed for Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin.
  • Lord British doesn't appear in newer Ultima games because Richard Garriott took the rights to his Author Avatar with him.

    Western Animation 

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