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Author's Saving Throw

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"Here's a secret — when I finally okayed the clone saga, I told Danny Fingeroth to build a back door into it. I said that I wanted to be able to bring Peter back as the real deal...while the fans claim they want change, they tend to react negatively to it. So do most creators!"
Marvel Editor Tom DeFalco on The Clone Saga

Creating a sequel or a serialized work comes with the opportunity to improve upon your previous work. An author will often look at elements that fans complained about, and try to address these in an attempt at appeasing their anger. This is what we call an Author's Saving Throw: a change meant to correct a mistake the author made.

Even writers without a direct line to the fans usually gain some form of access to the fandom that has spawned around their creation. They may find out that an ending they wrote was not well-received and decide to retcon that storyline. Or they may learn what fans were inspired to do, and incorporate those things into later works as a Shout-Out to the fans.

This is common in games, where Low Tier Letdowns will receive a Balance Buff, High Tier Scrappies will receive a Nerf, or Anti-Frustration Features get implemented to make a Scrappy Mechanic less infuriating. Since The 2000s, the ability to release patches means that in video games, making a Saving Throw might not require the release of a whole new work: the game's developers can simply apply the changes to the base game.

Tropes Are Tools. When done well, the result may be a Salvaged Story, or a reviled character may be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. This is also a great way to create a Surprisingly Improved Sequel or Even Better Sequel, as well as to Win Back the Crowd. It could also lead to Improved Second Attempt and Remade and Improved. However, going too far may lead to accusations of Pandering to the Base, and it's easy to overestimate the size of a Vocal Minority, potentially leading to implementing a change that not that many people were asking for in the first place.

Named for a common Tabletop Game term originating in Dungeons & Dragons; a "saving throw" is a die roll representing, say, a hero's attempt to catch themselves when falling off a cliff, or the Deadpan Snarker's attempt to resist the urge to taunt Cthulhu.

All examples that are not In-Universe require Word of God or Word of Saint Paul confirming why the creators made the changes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Many City Hunter fans were angered when they learned that Ryo Saeba's partner, Kaori Makimura, was going to be killed off in the sequel Angel Heart. Because of this, Tsukasa Hojo, the author of both titles, went on to proclaim that Angel Heart was no longer a sequel to City Hunter, but a spin-off set in an Alternate Universe that just happens to have most of the same characters.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's first five parts, while having rather diverse casts in many ways, were lacking in terms of female characters. The sixth part, Stone Ocean, has a much larger proportion of women in the cast, including a major Action Girl as the lead character. Hirohiko Araki has stated in interviews that he was disappointed at how many of his previous female characters were either Neutral Females or Faux Action Girls, and Stone Ocean was an attempt to make up for this.

  • David Bowie expressed regret for his comments in interviews during the Thin White Duke era, during which he occasionally expressed sympathy with fascism (due, it's generally accepted, to getting Lost in Character as the Duke, who actually was a fascist). After this point, on the rare occasions when he would express political themes in his work, they often tended to be anti-fascist, anti-racist, or otherwise anti-authoritarian. Good examples are the videos for "China Girl" and "Let's Dance", as well as much of the content of Tin Machine. The line "To be insulted by these fascists is so degrading" from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) is also generally considered to be an apology for this period. (It may be worth pointing out that some of Bowie's pre-Duke material also had anti-authoritarian themes, most notably Diamond Dogs, which started out life as a musical adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, and still had several songs referencing the book even after Orwell's estate denied David permission to use the work).

  • Formula One has thrown a succession of these over the course of the 21st century:
    • On the eve of the 2009 season, it was suddenly announced that the driver with the most wins would be crowned world champion, regardless of all other results. The announcement was universally condemned, not just because everyone hated the idea, but because it was announced with the worst possible timing - the 2008 season had been decided at literally the last second, with Lewis Hamilton making an overtake at the last corner of the last lap of the last race to take the title by one point from Felipe Massa. Everyone agreed it was the most dramatic and exciting conclusion to a season in years, but under the new system it would have been ruined, because Massa had one win more than Hamilton.note  Within days of the announcement, the change was postponed until 2010, and then scrapped entirely in favour of a new points system that weighted wins more heavily.note 
    • Prior to the 2016 season, the qualifying format was changed so that drivers would be progressively eliminated until only one was left, instead of two bulk eliminations followed by a top-ten shootout. When this led to anticlimactic qualifying sessions in which nobody left the garage for the final few minutes, it was scrapped after just two races and the old system was brought back.
    • Toro Rosso's signing of Max Verstappen for 2015, at the tender age of 17 and after just one year of open-wheel racing, led to much criticism about such a young, inexperienced driver being allowed to compete. The FIA duly announced that from 2016 onwards, only drivers over 18 would qualify for a superlicense, and when 2016 arrived, they added further restrictions including a minimum of two full seasons' experience. Any lingering criticism vanished once Verstappen actually started racing and everyone realised he was ridiculously talented for his age.
  • Cleveland professional teams in every major league present in the city have revamped their imagery in response to various complaints:
    • For most of the 80's and 90's, the Cavaliers were simply known as the "Cavs" and had generic basketball-hoop logos, to the point that many a young Clevelander didn't even know what a cavalier was.note  In 2003, the Cavs revealed a new logo with a rapier and "All for one and one for all" as their slogan, thus invoking classic cavaliers. They've been sticking to sword logos ever since.
    • For decades the Browns were roasted for having brown and orange as their team colors. The Browns may be Cleveland's pride and joy, but their color scheme was considered hideously ugly to pretty much everyone else (as well as some fashion-conscious Clevelanders). In 2015, the Browns altered their colors to be more pleasing to modern eyes: the brown was made darker, almost black, and the orange more reddish.
    • The Guardians were known as the Indians for over 100 years, but ever since the Civil Rights Movement, people began to decry the name—and especially the Chief Wahoo logo—as racist. For decades many wrote off those complaints as politically-correct nonsense, but in 2018 the team's corporate leadership responded by officially retiring Wahoo, adopting a plain "Block C" as their logo. Then in 2021, in the wake of the George Floyd protests of 2020, the team announced they would change their name to something less racial, the Guardians. This may sound generic, but it's a reference to the Guardians of Traffic, eight Art-Deco statues along the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge near Progressive Field, and fixtures of Cleveland culture.
  • Similar to the Guardians, the Washington Commanders were also heavily criticized as they were previously known as the Redskins. Like the Guardians, they announced they would change their name in the wake of the George Floyd protests. But whereas the Guardians remained the Indians until a new name was chosen, the former Redskins abruptly dropped their name and were simply known as the "Washington Football Team" for two years, for which they were roundly mocked, before rebranding themselves as the Commanders.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Volume 5 was seen as the show's nadir for several reasons. The fandom's criticisms centered around the passivity of the heroes compared to the previous volume's journey-bound tone, the reduced relevance of main protagonist Ruby during major story beats, and lack of exploration of Mistral's exotic setting. CRWBY confirmed they addressed these complaints for the next volume by kicking off Ruby's development into an active leader in the fight against Salem and exploring the Mistral underworld via Cinder's storyline.
    • After Blake's Volume 7 haircut was criticised for poor texturing and looking unflattering in certain lighting, CRWBY confirmed that this led to them upgrading her hair texture to appear more natural, and upgrading Weiss's hair at the same time.

    Web Comics 
  • Better Days: In the aftermath of negative reaction to Fisk joining a group of privately funded vigilante assassins, Naylor made several journals trying to distance himself from the character, stating that he didn’t necessarily agree with Fisk’s actions and views, and that Fisk was not his self-insert.