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Acceptable Breaks from Canon

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"griffon8 pointed out that I've been writing as though Shizune and Misha shared a double room rather than the singles every other student seems to use. Call it artistic license; it doesn't interfere too much with established canon (I think) and isn't even that critical to this story anyways."
Author's note, From Shizune's Perspective

Although it's very difficult for a story with a big audience to ever reach a consensus, occasionally a single fact or aspect of the series is modified enough in Fan Fic vs. the original story that its absence or modification becomes notable within the fandom. This may escalate to the point where fanfics do not bother to note the change in any tags or clarifications and that even sticklers for continuity are generally not bothered by it. This will also happen much more quickly in a tightly-knit fan community. Conversely, it occurs much more slowly if there's a big Fan Dumb community, unless they're being actively trolled.


Note that "mechanical" changes to make things work in a text medium (reworking a gag because describing a visual isn't funny) or changing an ending because the story covers that period ("soft" AUs) don't count. The change must be common enough to get fan recognition, deliberate rather than an outright mistake or forgetful Flanderization, but not actually overshadow the original version of the story (as fanon can and does).

Common flavors include the following, and may occur separately or together:

  • Canon mixing: Borrowing a characterization or concept from another version of the story because they were more popular/interesting/notable even if the rest of the universe appears "normal", or simply more elaborated upon. Frequent in series with many Alternate Continuities (and thus little sense of "true" canon), especially if those other versions aren't necessarily as well known as others. In extreme cases, writers may create Fridge Brilliance or invoke Broad Strokes outright to explain how even explicitly different versions are both valid interpretations simultaneously.
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  • Continuity tweak: Avoiding or reworking something that just didn't fly in the audience's mind to make more sense or be less stupid. Again, can become a Fandom Theory with enough support.
  • Personality tweak: The toning down/up of a character's personality within "acceptable" bounds, said bounds usually based on... how people write the character in fanfics frequently. Popular with low-emotive characters who are otherwise difficult to write for or who have a popular line (count the usages of Big Damn Heroes in Firefly and then in Firefly Fics, for example).
  • Memetic Mashing: The writer incorporates the Memetic Mutation of a character into the work under the challenge of making it mesh believably with the established characterization. Difficult and prone to become very in-jokey if done badly, excellent Fandom Nods when done right.
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  • Retroactive Discontinuity: A special subset of this where an aspect of a fic that started out canon becomes a break from canon by events of future seasons/books/what have you. Either someone dies, or someone new is introduced, or something new is revealed, what have you, but something happens which changes the canon in ways not reflected in the fanfic.

Compare Fix Fic, where the story tends to focus entirely on addressing problems. Also compare Woolseyism.


  • Since the name of the series is Death Battle, it's generally accepted for the characters to fight to the death, regardless of their status on killing in their original series, as well as a few tweaks in strength and defense to avoid a completely one-sided fight.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer fics, especially during Season 6 fics and Post-Chosen Fics, personality tweaking is loved. A common way to get rid of Kennedy in Post-"Chosen" fics is for her to be a cheating bitch, an abusive bitch or a cheating, abusive bitch. A common thing to do with Buffy is take her Season 6 angst and make her an Emotionless Girl faking emotion.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Mostly personality tweaking, like openly emotive Rei and more extroverted Shinji are the biggies; while never as popular as the show, some fans automatically assume the writer is using their manga counterparts instead.
  • Sailor Moon: Huge amounts of canon mixing, depending on what area of the world you lived in had in the way of Small Reference Pools and access to whatever source material was handy.
    • Zoicite: The harpy-like, melodramatic female incarnation from The '90s DiC English dub is widely more popular than the original, and tends to show up if the Dark Kingdom is featured.
    • Rei: Types A & B — Writers are much more likely to use her depiction in the original manga (stoic, borderline Tsundere, "kinda gay") than the one in the show, even though the backstory for the favored depiction was not used there. In addition, due to the lines in the dub sounding very odd to those not familiar with Shinto mysticism, Rei was popularly depicted as having outright supernatural powers, something the original anime only played with.
    • Makoto: Fanfic authors, especially male ones, downplay her whole obsession with her former ''senpai''. Ironically, some fans disliked the Canadian dub for putting back references to a similar obsession with her femininity which had previously been avoided, because it made her "less cool" (incidentally making the official live action series invoke canon mixing).
    • Haruka: She might have whiter hair than expected, or be less combative or snobby (as seen in the manga) if the author is intending to make the Sailor Team more inclusive. Writers who use her "Amara" incarnation often rationalize her as simply a sort of "younger" prototype who is still in an ambiguous (but inevitable) relationship with her partner, discovering herself, play down her fashion choice, and compensate by making her a lot more sexually open.
    • Michiru: Usually hit pretty hard with the Cast Speciation hammer in regards to any traits she shares with Ami. She's also a musician OR a painter, but not both, under the idea it'd make her too idealized.
  • Dirty Pair: Most fanfic tends to be set in a continuity that's a varying mix of the classic anime and Adam Warren's "amerimanga" version, usually with the most memorable characters from both (Goulet, Nammo, Shasti or Cory Emerson, for instance). The psychic powers from the novels may also appear. Flash is either retconned as a Generation Xerox in the future, or alternately as just Outdated Outfits they wore when they were younger.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: The author's favorite characters or plot points from the many alternate Tenchi continuities get brought into the OVA universe. (This most frequently means Kiyone Makibi — and no, Noike doesn't count.)
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Personality tweaking, in most cases. One example is how many fics take Japan's occasionally hinted-at Otaku and Covert Pervert traits in canon and play them up until he becomes a full-blown Yaoi Fanboy and/or conniving matchmaker for the main couple featured in the fic, most likely because he's one of those low-emotive characters difficult to write for.
    • In fanfics that deal with the Darker and Edgier implications of a series set in World War II, Germany will nearly always be shown as either being lied to by his boss about everything that's going on, or else fully aware but powerless to stop it. Italy and Japan may have this happen to them as well (depending on how the author is going about things), but Germany is pretty much consistently shown that way.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In fanfics that deal with the Phinabella pairing, it is very common for Phineas and Isabella to get together sooner than in canon, with some going as far as to have them get together during the first of two 104 day summer vacations. These fics also tend to ignore Ferb's crush on Vanessa.
  • Very common in Touhou, and also expected, since the series runs on Alternate Character Interpretation and Memetic Mutation. One of the most common things done is taking away Resurrective Immortality from fairy characters in order to make the situation suspenseful when they're in danger, to the point that it's usually a minor plot point when it isn't the case.
  • Supergirl: Although Dark Mark fanfics like The Vampire of Steel or Hellsister Trilogy are mostly canon-compliant, he tends to ignore two facts: Supergirl's death at Anti-Monitor's hands; and her relationship with Brainiac 5 in favor of hooking her up with someone else. He also ignores Laurel Kent being retconned into a Manhunter android, and his story Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation also ignores 1998 Superman storyline "The Dominus Effect" where Klar Kent had a little sister instead of a brother... which is understandable because that story arc's canonicity is debatable at best.
  • Teen Titans fics in terms of which Robin is in the series. Some have Tim Drake and others have Dick Grayson, which may lead to a change in personality (depending on how familiar the writer is with the comics) and sometimes even a change in name. (Nobody wants to have a character named Dick.) It is hinted in the show, and confirmed in the tie-in comic, to actually be Dick Grayson.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Don't be surprised if a fanfic has all those ancient spirits have their own body, and don't expect it to be explained. That said, not everybody considers this an acceptable break from canon.
    • Lampshaded in this fic:
      "Other than Yugi's long-lost cousin, Yami, mysteriously showing up a few months ago…"
    • Also, in Decks Fall Everyone Dies, Yami has a separate body. There are hints that this will be explained, though.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • Donatello is often written as insomniac and addicted to coffee, and as always falling asleep at his work bench or computer as he tries to solve some problem or challenge.
    • Fanfics based on the 1980s cartoon tend to downplay or outright ignore Raphael's characterization as the Motor Mouth Deadpan Snarker in that show and make him more like the violent hothead he is in all other continuities.
  • In The Gungan Council, continuity is tweaked all around, yet not always to get rid of disliked events in Star Wars canon. Alderaan still exists, former Vongformed planets show little to no signs of ever being in such a state, and the Star Forge is still lurking in space.
  • All over the place with Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, usually cranking up the Darker and Edgier tone, playing some of the more unsettling aspects completely straight, or offering some Deconstruction and Reconstruction behind the characters and universe.
  • TRON-universe fanfic will work with mixed canons (in the form of porting in aspects of the discredited sequel, Tron 2.0 (it helps that both timelines say Flynn and Tron vanished under mysterious circumstances) and continuity tweaks (often in the form of a "Flynn and/or Clu lives" scenario).
  • In the Katawa Shoujo fanfic "From Shizune's Perspective," which was written prior to the full game's release, Shizune and Misha, as well as Rin and Emi share rooms. In the full game, all the rooms appear to be single ones, although Hisao never goes to Shizune or Misha's rooms. Shizune and Misha sharing a room becomes relevant when Shizune, looking for Misha and Hisao, enters her room and finds them having sex.
  • Pokémon has several variations:
    • It is not uncommon for fanfic writers to combine the Pokémon Adventures manga and the anime into the same universe. Considering the extreme Alternative Character Interpretation some characters have received between the two continuities, this can become quite the Mind Screw. Similarly, stories in the video game verse will often have the characters be indistinguishable from their manga counterparts, to the point where the only evidence that these are not manga fics consists of very subtle clues.
    • In stories which feature the anime only, expect the Continuity Tweak variety. Often the writers will ignore Comic-Book Time and have Ash be a teenager by the time of the setting.
    • The 4-move limit from canon is also often ignored by writers, in line with the early anime seasons.
  • Smallville fan fics commonly ignore the season eight finale, Doomsday, and season nine, unless the work in question thrives solely on angst.
  • Many Transformers fanfics involve Patchwork Fic due to the huge amount of Continuity Snarl - people use their favorite personality, even if that wasn't how they were defined in this continuity. Hasbro seemed to catch on with this with Transformers Prime, mixing the most popular parts of continuities, which is how Starscream became birdlike and competent, but nonetheless a whiny and treacherous Alpha Bitch who's nothing like as smart as he thinks he is.
  • Golden Sun: Retroactive discontinuity affects most romantic fic concerning the first game's heroes, as Dark Dawn featured their offspring by unknowns (with the exception of Isaac, who married Jenna but seems to have since split). Whether these pairings were completely debunked or have ended up as Dry Docked Ships is a matter for academic debate.
  • Several My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic based fan works dwell into this, given that several story set-ups can retroactively become invalid in canon as the series goes on. For example:
    • Turnabout Storm's basic storyline was completed before anything beyond the first season was broadcasted, which inevitably created contradictions with the Equestrian side of things as the series was madenote ; thus anything from season 2 onwards is assumed as non-canon for the crossover. Curiously enough, this problem isn't as serious for the Ace Attorney side of things, since the events neatly fit between the second and third games.
    • This page of Hoofstuck clearly states that it was added prior to the airing of "Putting Your Hoof Down," in which Fluttershy dumps a cartload of garbage on Bon-Bon's head.
    • The Nuptialverse was started shortly after the season 2 finale, and was planned out long before season 3 started. With that in mind, the author has announced he intends to cherry pick aspects from that season that work with his plans, and ignore everything else (he's even posted a list of what he's planning on doing).
    • Romance and the Fate of Equestria has, well, pretty much the exact same status as The Nuptialverse. The story's uncanny parallels with certain bits of canon - some of which are posted before they happen on the show, some after - tend to remain untouched. Chapter 81 is particularly notable for how several of its lines resemble (or defy) aspects of "Keep Calm and Flutter On", but are kept because, according to the author, it was the first chapter of the story ever to be written, when Season 2 was still in progress.
  • Ace Attorney fangame Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Conflict of Interest takes place in the Apollo Justice era, but began development before Dual Destinies was released, resulting in many breaks from canon, such as Pearl Fey's character arc going in a radically different direction. The author eventually went with a Broad Strokes approach: taking some elements from Dual Destinies like Phoenix's new outfit and throwing in a Shout-Out here and there, but still treating itself as an Alternate Universe. (Athena doesn't exist, for example)
  • The world that Justice Society of Japan takes place in has a bit of the Post-Crisis DCU (in that superheroes have been around for decades, and the Justice Society of America exists) and a bit of the New 52's DCU (Justice League Dark exists, Calendar Man is a news anchor, Superman and Wonder Woman are in a relationship). There's a heck of a lot of canon tweaking in regards to the other series used in the fic, most notably Xenoblade and Code Geass.
  • Though already implied months earlier by the Doctor Who series 7 finale "The Name of the Doctor", the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" definitively changes a lot for fanfic based on the Time War and who actually fought in it. Though the John Hurt incarnation specifically renounces the name "Doctor", meaning Christopher Eccleston is still technically the ninth incarnation to go by the name "the Doctor", this still doesn't change that Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor regenerated to become the "warrior" played by John Hurt that would fight in the War (and not Nine, as was initially assumed), as throughout his eighth incarnation, the Doctor did little more than help on the side, deliberately avoiding being a part of the Time War until he realised how much the universe and all of creation was at stake and chose what sort of man to regenerate into, thanks to the Sisterhood of Karn.
  • The bitter aftertaste of the Mass Effect 3 ending not only launched dozens of Fix Fics suggesting different alternate endings, it also became common or even expected to ignore the official endings in sequel fics, which typically follow a Shepard who defeated the Reapers, survived, and left a less thoroughly ruined galaxy in their wake.
  • Harry Potter: In Marauders era fanfics, it isn't uncommon for writers to ignore a character's canon ages in order to put them closer to the ages of Severus, Lily, or the Marauders or vice versa. The most popular targets of this is Bellatrix (and her sisters to a lesser extent), and Alice Longbottom (usually to make her one of Lily's friends).
    • Fans also usually ignore JK Rowling's statement that McGonagall is no longer headmistress by the time Harry's children attend Hogwarts. After all, Dumbledore was far older than her and he had no intention of retiring!
  • The writer of Dante's Night at Freddy's freely admitted he altered Chica's appearance, changing her arms into wings, to make it impossible (or at least extremely difficult) for her to grab ahold of Dante for the sake of a joke. Mixes with Rule of Funny.
  • Worm:
    • Wildbow has never officially confirmed that Eidolon is responsible for the Endbringers. Due to the strong circumstantial evidence for it (and lack of literally any other explanation), many fanfic authors have ran with this assumption nevertheless.
    • A lot of fics also file off some of Amy's more Jerkass edges.
    • Canonically, Uber & L33t aren't shown in a good light, either morally or power-wise. But the idea of video game-themed underdog supervillains is easy to empathise with, leading to various fics dealing them a better hand than they got in canon.
    • Coil's Endbringer shelter front company is never named in canon, but after Cenotaph gave it the Adaptation Naming of Fortress Construction, the moniker stuck.
  • Kerbal Space Program uses a lot of Acceptable Breaks from Reality (heavy Space Compression and life-support and consumables being glossed over being just two) that the writers of most serious fanfics, who tend to be major space geeks, gloss over or flat-out ignore.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) and its spinoffs don't go into a lot of detail about the Colonial Fleet's composition pre-Fall, but parts of the fandom tend to attribute Standard Sci-Fi Fleet or analogues thereof to it.
  • The Star Wars Rebels fanfiction Ezra Lost has a couple of these, but nothing too major. For example, the appearances of a few named Original Characters who quickly die anyway, and the alteration of how the crew meets Darth Vader.
  • Kantai Collection:
    • In the game proper, few of the ship girls demonstrate grudges or hangups over the Pacific War. Some of the spinoffs and many fanfic writers give them such issues anyway, perhaps out of Rule of Drama.
    • The game also provides no details about the Abyssal command structure, but some fanfic writers give them their own admirals.
  • Fans of Heathers (the movie) and Heathers (the musical) tend to favor the "canon mixing" variety, basing their fics on whichever version they like better, but borrowing elements from the other as well. A nearly-surefire way to tell which one the author prefers? If Veronica's stated to be (or to have been) a junior during the events of the film in the fic, they're probably going off the movie for the most part. If she is (or was) a senior, it's probably the musical.
  • Miraculous Ladybug has a version of canon mixing. In the original short that served as the show's pilot, Chat Noir was a character named Félix who was kind of a Jerkass; by the time the show aired, he was scrapped and replaced with Adrien, who looks largely similar but is far more of a Nice Guy. In fanfic, Félix is often presented as Adrien's Aloof Big Brother and may have been Chat Noir before him. Some also throw in Marinette's slightly-different design from the short as a sister named Bridgette.
  • X-Men: The Early Years takes several liberties with X-Men canon when the author believes it'll make for a better story. So, the team has already fought Sentinels before Marvel Girl joins, the boys know about Jean before her arrival, and Jean Grey uses her telepathy openly before it was unlocked in canon.
  • A Prize For Three Empires ignores the numerous and confusing post-The Dark Phoenix Saga retcons, and has Jean Grey go by Phoenix and keep her cosmic powers after returning.


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