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Fanon Discontinuity

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That's The Matrix they're talking about, in case you were wondering.note 

Rainbow Dash: After lunch, we should probably start working our way back through the other books.
Quibble Pants: Whoa, whoa, whoa. There are no other books.
Rainbow Dash: Of course there are. Daring Do and the Trek of the Terrifying Towers, Daring Do and the Many Faces ofโ€”
Quibble Pants: Uh, p-please, please don't. Just don't even mention the titles. I-I'm not saying those books don't exist. I'm saying that I refuse to acknowledge them.
Rainbow Dash: Why?
Quibble Pants: 'Cause they're horrible!

Fanon ("Fan Canon") Discontinuity is the act of fans mentally writing out certain events in a show's continuity that don't sit well, be it a single episode, a season-spanning arc, an entire season or even an entire series. If a plot or ending rubs one the wrong way severely enough, fandom can just decide that the offending events never happened. On the series level, events may fall under Discontinuity because the show is perceived to suck at that point or decline too far in quality. Events also get "discontinued" for particularly screwing up the characters or setting, and a show that starts to suck will end up screwing things up eventually anyway.

In effect, Fanon Discontinuity is the opposite of fanon (and not unrelated, either: a great amount of Fanon Discontinuity has resulted from violations of fanon). While extremely negative audience reactions may lead to an offending storyline being officially removed from canonicity in response, Fanon Discontinuity specifically refers to when fans disregard a storyline regardless of the creators' opinion on it.

In moviedom, Sequelitis is the most common cause of Fanon Discontinuity. Fans of a popular movie series commonly disavow all sequels beyond a certain point, typically the first or second movie. For example, the unofficial slogan of the Highlander fandom is, "There Should Have Been Only One".note  It is often supported and justified by the fact that the creators of the original had nothing to do with the sequels, so it is essentially not their work.

Fanon discontinuity can easily occur if the hated storylines are the last ever made and it's easy to pretend that the real ending was in the good ones. If more episodes/installments are made and these are loved and canon-worthy, hated storylines can still become Fanon discontinuity if the hated ones can easily be written out without any loss to the good stories. Discontinuity becomes less likely and more difficult to achieve when the loved storylines keep making references to the previously hated storylines and solidifying them as canonical, even when they do admit that they really sucked.

Sometimes discontinuity comes from not liking a very specific element while still enjoying everything else. When this happens, you've applied Broad Strokes to Canon. Not to be confused with Negative Continuity.

Even works liked by fans can be subject to fanon discontinuity if fans prefer to think of it as a standalone work as opposed to part of the continuity, often due to pulling a Happy Ending Override and/or clashing with continuity. Conversely disliked works can avoid fanon discontinuity if fans think it adds something to canon Worth It or it isn't worth the hassle of pretending didn't happen.

When fans engage in fanon discontinuity by claiming certain events secretly take place in the main character's head, see Delusion Conclusion.

If the questionable elements are written out of canonicity by the creators themselves, then said elements entered in Canon Discontinuity territory, or, in less severe cases, are given a Discontinuity Nod. It gets ironic when a semi-inversion of this happens when the work is officially removed from continuity, but fans still like it or hate the "real" story meant to replace the old one and still treat it as canonical. If the creator just bashes it, then it's Creator Backlash. If the disliked elements later become more wieldy accepted as canon, be it getting a payoff or fix or other factors causing it to be seen better in retrospect, it's Vindicated by History.

Compare Fan Wank for when fans come up with rationales to make the disliked stuff better fits their likes, and Fanwork-Only Fans for those who never bothered with official works only caring for fan content. Contrast Fan Disillusionment for when it causes them to stop being fans of the work altogether as opposed to just pretending the disliked stuff didn't happen. See also They Changed It, Now It Sucks! and Let Us Never Speak of This Again.

Please note that this trope is highly subjective, more based on the fandom rather than the event itself. The visceral response to fanon discontinuity can baffle other fans who don't see the event as seriously, or even like the event. Just because an event or work has an example on here doesn't mean it's bad or that you're wrong for liking it. And just because a work is heavily disliked by the fanbase, it doesn't mean it should be listed here, because fans can dislike a work but still accept it as canon. This is a neutral catalog of a phenomenon in fandom, not a list of things we think are bad. That also means that you should only post examples where a significant portion of the fandom disregards an event, not just your own personal bugbears. Also, using this as a Pothole is generally rather rude, so please don't do it unless you want to use Canon Discontinuity instead.

Example Subpages:

In-universe examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Re:CREATORS uses this trope as a handicap for Author Powers. The two big factors in what determines a Creation's abilities is what the author writes about them and how the audience reacts. If the majority of the audience doesn't like a new ability that the author writes, then it doesn't become part of their "canon" and the Creation who wields it in the real world immediately loses it. This works against the heroes' side in the Elimination Chamber Festival: the in-universe audience was Rooting for the Empire, and thus saw all the heroes' new abilities to combat the Big Bad as Ass Pulls.

    Comic Strips 
  • The trope is referenced in a Nemi comic strip where the titular character's friend is trying to tell her about someone who appeared in the film Highlander II: The Quickening. Nemi then says that Highlander doesn't have any sequels. Her friend realises she's "repressing everything you don't like", which he then comments is why she has not seen Aliens 4, to which she answers, "Aliens 4?" Her friend also says, "I know you've seen both sequels," implying that he practices Fanon Discontinuity himself or is genuinely unaware of the exact number of sequels in the Highlander franchise.
  • Discussed in this Pearls Before Swine strip in relation to the Star Wars prequel trilogy and The Godfather III.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we learn that Willow always stops watching Moulin Rouge! a few minutes before it ends so she can pretend it has a happy ending. Which means she must not watch the first five minutes either, unless she wants to be confused.
  • The Castle episode "The Final Frontier" has the Vocal Minority in the Nebula 9 fanbase calling the continuation webisodes made by some of the original cast members a desecration of the property. They even sent death threats, which Beckett's homicide squad briefly investigated before pronouncing them Red Herrings.
  • On Friends, Phoebe learns that her mother did this with numerous movies because she didn't want her children being exposed to sad things. Right before she killed herself.
  • In this Twitter thread, The Middleman creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach discusses and endorses this trope.
    earlier, i tweeted that - in the fictions we enjoy - canon only has to be canon if we want it to. we are free to dislike and ignore any part of the story for any reason: it ain't the freakin' rule of law, it's corporate-sponsored heroic fantasy.... if they can make fiction by the pound, i can choose how much i need to buy.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • At the end of The Girl in Lovers' Lane, the bots are profoundly depressed by the movie's Downer Ending, specifically the sudden, brutal murder of lovable waitress Carrie. Joel offers the bots a refreshing epiphany that more or less defines Fanon Discontinuity: you don't have to accept what the movie hands you. The cast promptly begin imagining less depressing endings for the film. This was mentioned in the official episode guide as being based on the universal negative reactions of the writing team upon first viewing the film, and the skit seemed almost psychologically necessary.
    • In the episode Soul Taker, Crow and Servo refuse to accept the Happily Ever After and claim what really happened was a Downer Ending where the protagonists' relationship failed and the hero ended up in jail, making bootleg vodka in the toilet. Mike asks if they aren't being a little doom-and-gloom, and they sarcastically suggest an ending where everything is puppies and sunshine and rainbows. Mike asks if it has to be unrealistically depressing or unrealistically happy with no middle ground, and they say yep, it's either toilet vodka or unicorn giggles.
  • In Queer as Folk (UK), Vince and Stuart are discussing Vince's boyfriend, Cameron, and his apparent lack of interest in Vince's life. Stuart suggests that (since Vince is a huge Doctor Who fanboy) that within six months '[Cameron]'ll be able to name all the "Doctor Who"s in order. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy.'
    Vince: What about Paul McGann?
    Stuart and Vince together: Paul McGann doesn't count! note 


    Web Animation 


    Web Original 
  • When tackling CinemaSins' video on Halloween (1978), Th3Birdman reveals a disdain of the retcon in Halloween (2018) that Laurie is not Michael's sister, saying "F*ck 2018!" and that he'll always think of Laurie as Cynthia Myers.
  • Lee, the narrator of Cinema Wins, said at the end of the video for Logan that despite liking the movie, he prefers to think of the movie as taking place in an Alternate Universe to the X-Men Film Series rather than actually be a part of its universe. (As it turns out, he's not too far off here — Marvel's Multiverse officially recognizes Logan as an alternate future and X-Men: Days of Future Past as the final chronological installment in the timeline.)
  • Dan of Game Grumps has expressed he feels this way about the Space Quest games, and that he doesn't consider Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier to have happened. Being a die-hard fan of the series who played them as a child, he felt Space Quest V: The Next Mutation was the perfect ending for the series: Roger Wilco has finally become a captain, has his own ship The Eureka, has a quirky crew in Droole, Flo, Cliffy, and W-D40, a loyal animal companion, has met the woman he loved, has saved the galaxy again, and it ends with him being a respected captain who flies off on his next adventure. Thus, he hates the idea that Space Quest VI pulls a Happy Ending Override, takes everything from him to demote him back to janitor, and ends on a cliffhanger that was never resolved thanks to there never being another Space Quest.
  • Mother's Basement, regarding The Promised Neverland's second anime season. In the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean preview, he claims it never got a second season, while in "Spring 2021 Anime: Ones to Watch" he says it was cancelled after episode 3.
  • Outside Xbox:
  • Retsupurae:
    • In the Dark Seed II longplay, Mike Dawson losing at ring toss became a Running Gag, to the point that they even posted a video of just the losing animation. When Mike finally gets the item to cheat at the ring toss carnival game, he steps up to play... and then loses again because slowbeef spliced over the footage of him winning. They then tell the viewer that Retsupurae-canonicity is that Mike Dawson never won the ring toss game and never will.
    • In the Space Adventure Cobra longplay, slowbeef and Diabetus play up minor character Rock Knight as a badass. When Cobra later returns and finds him apparently dead in a burning building, slowbeef immediately yells "NOT CANON" [sic] and insists that it's secretly his brother. Or that he's such a badass that he's sleeping through the fire and will put it out when he wakes up.
    • When riffing Metroid: Other M, slowbeef declares the entire work to be "Sakamoto fan fiction"
  • James of Schaffrillas Productions insists that Shrek the Third is non-canon to the rest of the Shrek franchise.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Topsy" Louise's substitute science teacher is an avid Thomas Edison fan, and vehemently denies that Edison ever performed any unsavory experiments involving AC electricity and a circus elephant.
  • In the episode "Stranger Than Fan Fiction" from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash gets in an argument with another Daring Do fan named Quibble Pants who doesn't want to acknowledge the existence of the later Daring Do books because he thinks they focus too much on unrealistic action clichés. Despite them actually happening to the real Daring Do. This is a reference to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull often being ignored by fans (Daring Do is based off Indiana Jones).
  • Rugrats (2021): In "Baby Talk", Stu and Randy consider the fifth Final Eclipse movie the worst one in the series. It is also the only movie in the series that Randy does not let his nephews Buster and Edwin watch.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Marge Simpson has shown such an attitude towards her children, eating a story book about Joan D'Arc to avoid telling Lisa that the French warrior was burned at the stake, commenting it was easier to swallow than the Bambi video. A later episode reveals Marge and Homer walked out of Carrie after she was crowned prom queen so she could pretend the story ended happily.
    • In another episode, Homer has been reading to Lisa at night from what is obviously Harry Potter with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. He's hesitant to read her the ending because it's sad (a reference to Dumbledore's death in book six), so instead he invents a happier ending to tell her. Later Lisa pulls out a second copy of the book and reads the true ending for herself, then decides that "Dad's ending was better."
    • Another episode shows that the entire town of Springfield has a parent-wide conspiracy regarding Finding Nemo. All the parents start the film at the second scene, so the kids don't see the opening where Coral and all the other babies besides Nemo are eaten.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "Dinosaur Seen in the Sewers!" has the Turtles watching the series finale for the cartoon "Crognard the Barbarian", only to find that he just gets eaten by a dragon and that's it. They're extremely disappointed at the anti-climactic ending, and Michelangelo watches it again, but rewinds to just before he gets eaten and pauses it there.
    Mikey: Aw yeah, fixed it! See? Now he wins!

Alternative Title(s): Fan Discontinuity, Home Page