Fanon ("Fan Canon") Discontinuity is the act of fans mentally writing out certain events in a show's continuity which don't sit well, no matter if it's a single episode, a season-length 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. It's very common to hear fans of a popular movie series 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 previous 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 the canon. Not to be confused with Negative Continuity.
One of the meta-causes of Alternate Universe.
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 and treat as canonical. If the creator just bashes it, then it's Creator Backlash. If, on the other hand, the controversial element is somehow reworked into being tolerable or even popular, it's been Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. See also They Changed It, Now It Sucks! and Let Us Never Speak of This Again.
Note: This 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 take 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. This is a neutral catalogue 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.
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- At the end of Mystery Science Theater 3000's treatment of The Girl in Lovers' Lane, the bots are profoundly depressed by the movie's Downer Ending, specifically the Shocking Swerve death 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 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- In Stephen Colbert's book I Am America and So Can You, he mentions that he couldn't enjoy The Lion King Broadway musical because he couldn't turn it off before Mufasa's death.
- 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.
- Bob's Burgers: Louise's substitute teacher is an avid Thomas Edison fan, and vehemently denies that Edison ever performed any unsavory experiments involving AC electricity and a circus elephant named Topsy.
- In Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex tries to apply discontinuity to his own life
- In Queer as Folk, 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
- Discussed in this Pearls Before Swine strip in relation to the Star Wars prequel trilogy and The Godfather III.
- 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"
- On Family Guy when Brian and Stewie go to Germany they discover that the pamphlet lists nothing happening between 1939 and 1945 and the tour guide furiously denies it.
Tour Guide: Nothing happened! Everyone was on vacation!
- In El Goonish Shive, this can be seen in diehard Star Trek fan Susan shelving the movies out of sequence and equally rabid Star Wars fan George's rant about midichlorians.
- Given The Stanley Cup had many periods where fans discuss "that doesn't count" (prior to the National Hockey League, when the NHL was only 6 teams, etc.), hockey writer Sean McIndoe decided to see which titles earned to receive such discontinuity. All of them! Though one is given a Bait-and-Switch "yes" to press on Buffalo's Berserk Button.
- In the CollegeHumor video Luigi Finally Snaps, Luigi mentions the Super Mario Bros. movie, upon which Mario gets angry and slaps him in the face.
Mario: I told you: we'll never talk about that! It never happened!
- 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.
- In the Zero Punctuation review of BioShock Infinite:
Yahtzee: Don't take this the wrong way though. BioShock Infinite is a retread, but it's the good kind of retread that uses a formula that works to explore new ideas, and it's a worthy sequel to the original.Interlocutor figure: Don't you mean second sequel, Yahtzee?Yahtzee: ...GET OUT.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Outside Xbox: In the episode "7 Games Too Ambitious For Their Own Good", Jane says that she liked all three Fable games. And that there were only three games.
- As seen in the page image, this xkcd comic has a guy having the crap beaten out of him by his friends for suggesting that there are sequels to The Matrix.