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Flip-Flop of God

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"The author reserves the right to have a better idea."

Most of the time, the Word of God knows exactly what it's talking about. It's consistent. It's, well, Canon.

Sometimes, however, the Word of God can't quite make up its mind what to say. Maybe the creators haven’t decided what the right answer is, or the audience asked them a question they didn't think they'd have to answer at all. Maybe they actually changed their mind sometime after they gave the original answer. Sometimes, it's simply that they're Lying Creators. Or the "creator" is actually a series of ghost writers as in some franchise series and Depending on the Writer don't do a great job of keeping the character consistent. Either way, a Flip Flop of God is when the Word of God contradicts itself somehow. The fundamental unreliability this reveals — any creator, at any time, might commit this — can be considered an argument in favor of the Death of the Author.


Compare and contrast Shrug of God, when a creator outright refuses to give a direct answer, and The Walrus Was Paul, when a creator's message is deliberately confusing. Can overlap with this if they later do give a straight answer, or if they contradict an earlier straight answer by saying the detail in question is intentionally ambiguous. Be aware that this trope is not "Word of God being contradicted by a Word of lesser standing (Word of St. Paul or Word of Dante)". It only apples when Word of God contradicts itself.

Different from Retcon, because retcons are changes to something that happens in the story, instead of the Word of God. Writer Conflicts With Canon is when Word of God and parts of the story itself are at odds. Also different from a flip-flop worn by an in-universe god, or a god that's made of flip-flops.



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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel goes back and forth over whether or not the Hulk has ever accidentally killed someone during his city destroying rampages. This led to a notable Retcon at least once; the Hulk was sent into space for the Planet Hulk storyline because a fight between him and the Thing inadvertently caused the deaths of over twenty people. This was later retconned into severe injuries, which made the whole "shoot him into space" thing into retroactive Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Deadpool himself admits that whether or not Wade Wilson is his real name depends on who's writing him.
  • For years, Brian Michael Bendis was adamant that Ronin from the New Avengers was always intended to be Maya Lopez in a new identity, despite early publicity materials strongly indicating that the character was actually supposed to be Daredevil in disguise. Bendis eventually confirmed in the first New Avengers hardcover that Ronin was indeed intended to be Daredevil, and that the decision to have it turn out to be Maya instead was a last minute change.
  • James Robinson was initially very defensive of Justice League: Cry for Justice, and even said in a text piece that he had "No apologies" for any of the controversial elements. Then at a convention, he confessed that killing Lian Harper to give angst to her white grandfather was an editorial decision, and not one he agreed with either.
  • When the first volume of Teen Titans: Earth One was released Jeff Lemire stated that the book was not set in the same verse as the other Earth One titles, but instead in a separate standalone continuity where adult superheroes didn’t exist. This was contradicted by Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity which put both Superman: Earth One, Batman: Earth One and this series on Earth-1 of the post New 52 multiverse. DC then released several statements clarifying that the book took place on a world where adult superheroes didn’t yet exist, placing the events of the title as occurring either before or concurrently with Superman Earth One: Volume One.
  • Jaime Hernandez of Love and Rockets made conflicting remarks about whether the "Ti-Girls Adventures"/"God and Science" story was bringing the superhero elements of the early issues fully back into continuity or whether it was a superhero Alternate Universe. When the graphic novel version was published he settled on the latter.

  • Nimbus Llewelyn, author of The Wizard in the Shadows and Child of the Storm is prone to this - something stated in an A/N can and will be contradicted ten chapters later. Despite his justified claims of a grand plan and littering his stories with the contents of Chekhov's Armoury, he's admitted a tendency towards making up many of the fine details - and some major characters - as he goes along, most notably in the latter story.
    • Early on, he said that the story would pretty closely follow the Harry Potter books and be around 140-150,000 words long, in line with Shadows, his previous long form project. Nearly four years later, it finished at over 820,000 words, longer than the first five Harry Potter books combined and has fairly significantly deviated from the books. The sequel, Ghosts of the Past, was already longer than Shadows after only 10 chapters, taking the combined word count to over a million words for the Storm 'verse alone. It is now longer than Child of the Storm, taking the combined word count to approximately 1.7 million words.
    • Another claim was that Harry would be definitively paired with Ginny Weasley, before stating that Harry would date other people, then eventually saying that he'd 'written himself out of a corner' on that score and Harry and Ginny wouldn't be dating at all.
  • In the intro to The Remake of Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie, Swing123 remarks that he wouldn't be remaking his other two movie fanfics. Not too long later, however, he announced that he would be remaking Lost at Sea.

    Film — Animated 
  • One writer for The Lion King II: Simba's Pride has stated that Nuka is Scar's son, while another writer has said that Scar and Zira were never mates.
  • The order in which Ariel's sisters from The Little Mermaid are in. The earliest materials have Aquata as the oldest but later material usually have Attina, likely due to her crown. Disney has flipped between the two since.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Director Alain Resnais and writer Alain Robbe-Grillet disagree about whether the woman goes away with the man at the end of Last Year at Marienbad.
  • The makers of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies can't decide what The Stinger for At World's End says about Will's fate: Sometimes they say that Will was freed from his duty as Captain of the Flying Dutchman because Elizabeth remained faithful the ten years he was gone (which leaves the question of who would be then the Captain), while other times they say no, he's Captain for life, this is just his one day on dry land between tours. The latter is seemingly set in stone in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales with Will still being on the Flying Dutchman setting off the plot of his son seeking a way to break the curse.
  • Total Recall (1990): Director Paul Verhoeven has gone back and forth on the issue of whether the events of the film were real or all in Quaid's mind. His position seems to depend on whether there are hopes of getting a sequel made at the time he is asked that question.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
    • The creators have gone back and forth on whether the events in the movie actually happened, or whether they were all in Scott's head.
    • Aubrey Plaza, the actress who plays Julie, has stated that the reason her character acts so hostile towards Scott is because she has an unrequited crush on him. Bryan O'Malley, the creator of the comics, disagrees with this, but Edgar Wright, the director of the movie, supports it.
  • In 2004, Ryuhei Kitamura and Shogo Tomiyama stated that they renamed the 1998 version of Godzilla "Zilla" in Godzilla: Final Wars, since the creature was a mere animal and not a godlike existence. In 2013, Zilla appeared in Godzilla: Rulers of Earth using the 1998 design but being explicitly stated to be the monster from Final Wars, with artist Matt Frank stating on DeviantArt that Toho does not distinguish between the 1998 Godzilla and Zilla as characters. However, in 2014, Keith Aikman, who has worked with both Toho and Sony, stated that Toho does NOT consider the 1998 Godzilla to be Zilla.
  • When X-Men: First Class was still in production, Bryan Singer claimed that Havok would not be Cyclops' brother in this continuity, but would be related to him in a way that made sense in the timeline of the films. This led many to believe that Singer was implying that Havok may actually be Cyclops' father in the movies. However, come X-Men: Apocalypse, Singer confirmed that Havok is Cyclops' sibling, albeit his older brother like in the Ultimate X-Men comics.
  • The writers of Idiocracy have stated multiple times that the film was not intended as satire on the decreasing intelligence of mankind. Nearly 10 years after the film was released, the writers changed their mind about that on Twitter after Real Life events had them agreeing with the fans on how their movie actually is coming true.
  • Alien³: Lance Henriksen can't decide if his character, Michael Bishop is a human or a robot, the alternate cut of the film suggests the former as it shows him bleeding and yelling "I'm not an android!!!".
  • The creators of Avengers: Endgame have contradicted each other on the exact mechanics of Steve Rogers' ending. Did the lifetime he spent with Peggy take place in an alternate timeline, with him returning by unknown means, or his native one?
  • Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have created a Back to the Future FAQ that answers a lot of fan questions they've got over the years. Some of the questions have three or four possible answers and we aren't told which are canonical.

  • Harry Potter
    • In the first few weeks after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, J.K. Rowling's answers to questions that either went unanswered in the series or about what happened between the end and the epilogue were a bit contradictory. She eventually settled on a single answer for most of them.
    • In an interview she did with Pottercast, Rowling and the interviewers became confused regarding Hannah Abbott's blood status - she had always assumed her to be Muggle-born, but had written that a family member of hers was buried in a wizard cemetery. Her final decision: "Oh, let's just split the difference and call her half-blood."
    • As far as character interpretation is concerned, there are also her claims about Voldemort. She is known to have claimed that he is incapable of feeling love and uses the loveless union that he is a product of as symbolism (if not as a cause of it) to make the point. But then she is also recorded to have said that if Merope lived and raised him he would have turned out different. So how again is someone who is born incapable of any positive emotion towards another being in need of only a mother figure to start feeling?
    • On a more minor note, Rowling apparently couldn't make up her mind on what year Hermione Granger was born - originally she gave Hermione's year of birth as 1980 (same as Harry and Ron) and later changed it to 1979.
  • Anne McCaffrey couldn't seem to make up her mind about, well, anything related to Dragonriders of Pern. For instance, whether measurements given for the dragons are in feet (really the only feasible size, but a bit small for the early descriptions) or meters (an outright ridiculous figure). Or whether greens are infertile from firestone or genetics (at one point she actually said both in the same sentence).
  • Whether or not William Gibson's Sprawl is a dystopia seems to depend on what the general outlook on the future seems to be in the SF Community. When Neuromancer first came out in The '80s, Gibson was adamant that The Sprawl was a dystopia with all the problems of modern urban environments turned up to eleven. Now, twenty years later, Gibson's claiming the exact opposite while simultaneously trying to cosy up to younger, more optimistic writers.
  • Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, can't ever decide if Patrick Bateman was a Serial Killer or of his killing spree was made up in his twisted mind. In the novel it's intentionally left ambiguous.
  • L. Frank Baum explicitly cancelled his "Land of Oz" series several times, only to be forced to resume the series for financial reasons and write his way out of whatever corner he'd previously trapped himself in. He started flip-flopping in the first two books. Glinda is happy to send the Scarecrow back to the Emerald City to rule in the first book, but in the second, she refuses to help him regain the throne because the Wizard had usurped it in the first place.
  • In the Discworld, Terry Pratchett gets around this issue by arguing that there can be such things as alternate pasts. Alternate pasts in the Discworld include;
    • The Vetinari paradox — Vetinari is explicitly stated to have been the Patrician of the first novel, The Colour of Magic. In the first book, the Patrician is a vastly overweight glutton. But over the books the Patrician evolves into a long, thin, extremely abstemious man who believes a slice of bread and a glass of boiled water are a sufficiency. In another early novel, Mort, the Patrician throws riotous drunken parties and keeps a swamp-dragon as a pet — again out of character for Vetinari.
    • The all-female House of Study at the Assassins' Guild School administered by Miss Alice Band is called Tump House. But becomes Mantis House in another writing without explanation.
    • The Arch-Chancellor's Hat is a major plot-point in the early novel Sourcery along with the head wearing it. Here it is presumed utterly destroyed in a magical war. Whilst Coin the sourceror faithfully tries to "put things back as they were" he does not resurrect wizards killed in that war — presumably their magical impedimentia died with them. Yet it re-appears as a plot-point thirty or so books later in Unseen Academicals.
  • In his later years, Ray Bradbury claimed that his book Fahrenheit 451 was actually about the corrupting power of mass media, when he had previously claimed it was about censorship. It's been somewhat cynically pointed out that Bradbury only began claiming this after he came out in support of right-wing American President, George W. Bush, who was often accused of attempting to silence dissent when he was in office.
  • Stephen King famously dislikes the Stanley Kubrick film version of The Shining, as he considers Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance to have been too crazy and unsympathetic from the start. Yet King has also said that the original novel was written as something of a confession, in which King was dealing with his own alcoholism and his occasional desire to hurt his children. The novel in fact portrays Torrance as deeply troubled from the beginning, although there is certainly more of a tragic descent in the novel than in the film. It seems King's own perspective on his semi-autobiographical character changed in the years after his "confessional" writing of The Shining, and he now prefers Torrance's character to be viewed more sympathetically.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien was continually tinkering with his massive Legendarium, resulting in some contradictions between published materials and what he decided later on top of his intentional mysteries. One example is the origin of the Orcs; he continually tried to reconcile an "evil" race with his Catholic belief that no creature could be inherently evil or incapable of redemption, and there was also the question of if they were tortured Elves or created in some other way by Morgoth (what remained consistent is that evil is incapable of independent creation). Also there are signs that he started considering twisted men as the origin of Orcs and avoid Elves altogether.
  • Warrior Cats: It was mentioned by the writers that no character was going to use "moon" in their name because they felt this would signify the cat as more beautiful or important than their Clanmates. Bluestar's name was originally "Moonstone" but this was changed. Her mother is named "Moonflower" as an accident. There was a later attempt to change it to "Duskflower", but for continuity reasons Moonflower's name stuck. She was the sole exception until later books gave us Ambermoon and Harveymoon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: The writers and producers of the series can't seem to decide whether John Keeler and Wayne Palmer survived their various assassination attempts. A newspaper prop from Redemption seemed to confirm that Palmer's dead, but one of the writers remarked that he wasn't.
  • Depending on if you ask Matthew Graham or Ashley Pharaoh, Jim Keats of Ashes to Ashes (2008) is either Satan incarnate (according to Graham, sometimes), the Antichrist (Graham again, in different interviews), or a high-ranking agent of evil/The Devil/David Bowie (Pharoah, according to Graham).
  • Babylon 5:
    • On Usenet during the broadcast of season 3, series creator J. Michael Straczynski stated that Valen, the ancient Minbari leader and messiah figure, had no children. In season 4, the episode "Atonement" revolved around Valen having had children. JMS has admitted to outright lying in order to avoid spoiling future storylines, naming Valen as a specific example.
    • Also, in a behind-the-scenes documentary made during season 1, Jerry Doyle (who played Michael Garibaldi) said that JMS told him that Garibaldi would never get a girl. In the show, Garibaldi ends up reconciling with his old girlfriend Lise in season 4 and marrying her in season 5.
  • RDM's flat denial of any possibility of an Adama/Roslin romance in Battlestar Galactica romance. Turned out about the same way.
  • When Willow's relationship with Tara started budding in season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon was cautious to use the word lesbian, because "then it would stop being about these two people," preferring to not use a label and just see them as two women in love. He also stated that if Oz were ever to come back, the situation would be very complicated because Willow had strong feelings towards both. Flash forward to season 7, where in an interview Whedon instead outright says Willow is a lesbian. The writers discussed having her hook up with a man after Tara's death, but went with Kennedy because they didn't want to make her "anything less than gay."
  • Doctor Who: Producer Russell T Davies refused to confirm who the Face of Boe is, really. In the DVD commentary for "Last of the Time Lords", Julie Gardner (an executive producer) accused Davies of "back-pedalling" on two characters being obviously the same; Davies had also already added a line of dialogue into "Gridlock" that strongly implied the same thing, which he points out on the same DVD commentary. He's since said that it stops being funny if we ever know either way.
  • Heroes:
    • The producers said Sylar had lost all his stolen abilities, but the last episode of season 2 showed him using telekinesis. Season 3 shows him retaining other powers... all while official canon and Word of God says he lost all of them.
    • The new Word of God attempts to reconcile this, saying he lost all his powers except for his telekinesis and giving a vague rationalization about his previously-unknown empathic abilities. His other powers from season 1 were only demonstrated by a version of him from an alternate future.
    • The producers also initially claimed back in Season 2 that Bennet, Mohinder, and Ando would remain normal humans and not receive superpowers. Season 3 pretty much threw that out the window with regards to Mohinder (who gets Spider powers) and Ando (who can now shoot Hadokens!). The only non-powered human left in the main cast is Badass Normal Mr. Bennet, who doesn't need any lame powers because he's pretty much The Goddamn Batman.
  • iCarly: The week before the "iSaved Your Life" episode aired, a promo aired showing 2 of the main characters kissing. Dan Schneider, in an effort to calm the shippers of a pairing involving a different character, implied it might not be what it appeared. Cue the episode, where they ended up kissing 7 or 8 times, and it was pretty much as it appeared.
  • The producers of Lost were notorious for making claims about the direction of the series and then going against those claims later. It's not exactly clear whether the producers were intentionally misleading, forced in different directions by the network, simply making things up as they went along, or all three.
    • An early season 1 interview said that there would be no Time Travel. Desmond's consciousness-jumping in seasons 3 and 4 could be seen as bending this rule, but season 5 flat out broke it. Script coordinator Gregg Nations claimed that an early season 1 episode, "Solitary", was supposed to hint at time travel and time anomalies on the island, but ABC nixed the idea, afraid that people would stop watching if time travel muddled the plot.
    • An interview claimed that Season 3 wouldn't feature Desmond running naked through the jungle, but then there's Desmond running naked through the jungle.
    • Damon Lindeloff claimed in a 2005 interview that the show had no supernatural elements, and everything had a scientific explanation. Even if you take that as only referring to things that had already happened, the statement still covers the Smoke Monster, who turned out to be a former human who became what he is through magic.
  • If the writers for Power Rangers ever claim that a certain series takes place either 20 Minutes into the Future or in an Alternate Continuity, expect a Reunion Show to later shove it back into the present-day main universe.
    • Lost Galaxy and Ninja Storm got this, though SPD has been able to keep its 2025 setting so far; team-ups feature Time Travel. RPM also dodged it by being declared an Alternate Universe, and their team-ups involve crossing dimensions. Dino Charge is so recent it just hasn't happened yet; but seems destined for it considering it ended with Earth destroyed, before the Rangers travel back in time and prevent the destruction along with the extinction of the dinosaurs - the following season, Ninja Steel, doesn't involve any of this.
    • There's also Jonathon Tzachor's constant flip-flop over the state of the series' continuity. Initially, it was one whole universe except RPM. Then, he decided that none of the Disney-era series happened (Ninja Storm through RPM). Then, he decided that every season happened in different continuities - even the old-school ones that came before the Super Sentai format was picked up! Which makes Mighty Morphin season 3 and Turbo's endings Downer Endings!
  • Quantum Leap: One of the house rules according to creator Donald Bellisario, was that Sam would never leap into a real person. For the first four seasons, he didn't; we only saw "kisses with history". But the rule was suddenly dropped for Season 5, which opened with Sam leaping into Lee Harvey Oswald (a story Bellisario particularly wanted to tell as a counterpunch to Oliver Stone's JFK), and continued with a host of others: Marilyn Monroe's chauffeur, Dr. Ruth, and even the King himself. According to Usenet posts made at the time from someone with connections to the production staff, this was Executive Meddling at work: the only way Bellisario could get Season 5 made was by giving the network execs the stories they wanted, which involved Sam leaping into real people.
  • The Sopranos creator David Chase didn't help the "Did Tony die in the finale" debate by first stating there was no hidden meaning, then saying "anyone who wants to watch it, it's all there", and then later commenting "there's more than one way of looking at the ending." In other words: Tony's dead. Unless he isn't.
  • It's easy to forget that Star Trek: Voyager commenced with lots of declaration that it would have as little to do with the other shows as possible, and would feature all new aliens. Oh, and those two Ferengi who got stuck in the Delta Quadrant in TNG would never appear. Also, no Borg. How did that go?
  • The intended outcome for the presidential election for The West Wing has this with the contradictory "gods" being different writers. Lawrence O'Donnel has said that the original intention was for Vinick to win, but this would have been too much of a Downer Ending after already writing John Spencer's (Leo McGarry) death into the show. John Wells has said that Santos winning was always the intent.
  • About The X-Files, Chris Carter made repeated statements that there was no hint of a Mulder/Scully romance.

  • Yngwie Malmsteen has a very well-known instrumental that has been officially known as both "Arpeggios From Hell" and "Molto Arpeggiosa".
    • The "excerpt" (which is actually the majority of the overall composition) that gained youtube fame is titled the former, with the overall piece titled the latter
  • Starflyer 59 has a few.
    • According to the Leave Here a Stranger liner notes, the song "When I Learn to Sing" begins with the lyrics "Because of my genes, a problem I don't need..." According to the official Sf 59 fakebook, the song in question begins with "Because of machines, that burn the life out of me..."
    • One of the more obscure b-sides is named either "Never Had a Name" or just "Never Had One", depending on whether you consult the liner notes or the label on the disc itself. A slightly less obscure track is named "Magic" on every version released by Tooth & Nail Records, but is named "Majic" on every version released by Burnt Toast Vinyl.
  • In of the most confusing events ever, Crypton first described Vocaloids Kagamine Rin and Len as mirror images, then took that back and called them twins. Later, they ended up taking both statements back and ended up leaving it up to anyone's interpretation. This resulted in one of the most annoying situations for anyone in the fandom, where any video involving Rin and Len resulted in a comment war over which is which.
  • Melanie Martinez once said "Milk And Cookies" is about killing her boyfriend but then later said it's about killing a kidnapper. The lyrics make it sound like she's poisoning someone close to her however its context in the Concept Album makes more sense for it being about the kidnapper in "Tag You're It".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Try the home game: Have two people send an email to the official Dungeons & Dragons support line, asking the same rules-clarification question about just about anything in any edition. You win the game if both replies are contradictory. Points deducted if you asked about stealth or Polymorph. No points if you used material from Dragon magazine. People say the same thing about Warhammer. The various forums have plenty of examples; basically, if it isn't in the books or the FAQ, it's Cust Serv's House Rules. The FAQ's on DnD's Character Optimization forum are often regarded as house rules and nothing more. Oddly, the proper method of offering optimization on those very boards is to adhere to the person's DM's house rules and nothing else, only offering minor suggestions if the DM hasn't already said otherwise. Not that many people do it the proper way.
  • Exalted.
    • At one point, Official Errata contained two contradictory answers as to whether Immaculate Monk Dynasts got the Enlightened Charms in addition to their 5 Immaculate Martial Arts Charms or not. Both answers were later removed, leaving it completely up to the ST.
    • Not to mention all the various contradictions (Zeal, anyone?) that spring up if you read all the Charms that were published since the game's release. Sure, the game evolved, changed a bit and everything that goes with it, but it went too far in many aspects, so much so that many of the original statements about the setting are simply incorrect by the "new" standards. For instance, in the First Edition corebook, it's pretty much treated as fact that the Solars ruled over a Golden Age that was only ended due to a possible horrible future coming from it, with the tales about how horrible the Solars were being latter-day fabrications to discredit them. Later books establish that the Solars were arguably worse than the Dragonblooded claim — although even now, some of the claims against the "anathema" are still outright lies. The Second Edition corebook has codified this darkening of the First Age to the core premise.
    • Errata for Dreams of the First Age replaced Zeal with an entirely different charm, banishing that particular issue.
    • The Nameless (and place-changing) lair of Ma-Ha Suchi.
  • In Illuminati New World Order, it's possible to give a group a temporary attribute, and then give them power-boosts that are only legitimate for that attribute. Such power boosts are normally permanent, but when the attribute goes away, so will the power. The rules say that only permanent power boosts count for victory conditions. So, does a power boost as described above count for victory? Steve Jackson originally said yes. The official FAQ now says no.
  • Games Workshop can't decide just who Ollanius Pius is. He went from an ordinary human, to a Terminator (veteran Space Marine), to the Emperor's personal bodyguard, to an ordinary human who just happens to be 30,000 years old.

  • Greg Farshtey, the main writer for BIONICLE, has been known to flip flop on certain matters, such as whether or not Zaktan is definitely dead. At first it was a definite "yes", but later he became ambiguous about it. The character seemingly died in an explosion, which for any other character would be a definite kill, but Zaktan's ability to pull himself together made it highly questionable. Apparently, he came out a couple of years after the story had ended to confirm that the character didn't die. And then Executive Meddling cancelled the story before Farshtey could pull all the plot threads together, leaving Zaktan rather like Schrödinger's Cat.
  • When people pointed out that Alpha Trion being a member of the original Thirteen Transformers in Transformers Aligned Universe clashed with his portrayal in Transformers: Shattered Glass, Hasbro later stated that the Transformers Aligned Universe wasn't part of the larger Transformers multiverse. However, Hasbro later reversed this stance as, starting with Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (which involves the titular artifact going from the Aligned universe to the universe of the movies and Generation 1 universe), the Ask Vector Prime column (which confirmed the events of Dark Spark revealed the existence of the Aligned universe to the larger Multiverse and reveals that Aligned!Vector isn't the same bot as the one we've seen elsewhere), The Complete AllSpark Almanac, Regeneration One (which has a subplot of Hot Rod seeing all his counterparts, including his Algined incarnation from the DS version of War for Cybertron), and Andromeda - Axiom Nexus News Reporter (which officially confirmed the Aligned universe being part of the larger multiverse), it's been revealed to be part of the multiverse, after all.

    Video Games 
  • Many Sonic Team employees will tell you conflicting things about the Sonic universe: The manuals can't seem to decide whether Sonic is calm, loves relaxation, and loves nature, or is excitable and unable to sit still at all, let alone enjoy the scenery. They also go back and forth on if Sonic and his friends live on a fictional version of Earth alongside humans, or if they live in another dimension and occasionally visit Earth.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
  • The King of Fighters:
    • SNK seems to change its position as to where fits into the universe of its other games by the day. Either it's an Alternate Continuity to Art of Fighting/Fatal Fury, or it's a follow-up to that universe. However, given that Geese Howard (the Big Bad of Fatal Fury) died in Real Bout Fatal Fury, yet made a triumphant, unexpected appearance in KOF '96 and continues to make the occasional cameo (or rarer playable appearance) in later KOF games, it's a pretty safe bet that KOF has the same basic backstory as the AoF/FF timeline but diverges after that. It's also telling that the cast of AoF is roughly around the same age as their Fatal Fury counterparts despite Art of Fighting presumably taking place in the late 1970s (Fatal Fury is similarly assumed to occur in the 90s) and a young Geese Howard showing up in the second AoF as the True Final Boss (as well as foreshadowing for his role in Fatal Fury in the first place).
    • On a different note, are Iori Yagami's flames blue or purple? The sprites show them to be the latter, but official sources from both the past and present tend to mix this up frequently. To further confuse matters, the Yasakani (the clan the Yagami were formerly known as) were said to have crimson (read: orange) flames like the Kusanagi but gained Orochi's blue flames when they struck a deal with him out of jealousy for the Kusanagi. However, Orochi Chris (one of Orochi's Four Heavenly Kings and the vessel of his eventual rebirth) also uses purple flames like Iori despite not having reddish-orange flames to begin with (and originally, Orochi Chris's flames were going to be black).
    • As the KOF verse has a very loose grasp on the concept of "clones", it's unclear if Kula Diamond, the Anti-K', is truly an Opposite-Sex Clone of series lead Kyo Kusanagi. The NESTS Team story in 2001 has Kula mention that she was "grown from a petri dish" whereas her bio in Maximum Impact 2 (where the general backstory of the pre-existing characters is unaltered) instead suggests she's a Clone by Conversion in the manner of K' or Nameless.
    • More recently, Shion, The Dragon from The King of Fighters XI, is either male or has no official gender, depending on when you ask (although most official sources nowadays affirm that Shion is a he).
  • Poison of Final Fight started out as transgender, was changed to a cis woman and is now trans again, if Capcom's really left Final Fight/Street Fighter canon to Capcom USA.
    • Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono stated that, in the U.S. and the rest of the world, Poison is a post-op trans woman, but in Japan, she's a pre-op trans woman. Original design notes for Final Fight suggest the character was always intended to be a newhalf.
    • Akira Nishitani, the developer of Final Fight, insists that it's up to the fans to decide. It's unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
    • Of course, always conveniently omitted from the discussion is, what about Roxy, dammit? Since Roxy is a literal Palette Swap of Poison, she was ignored outside of one All There in the Manual moment by Capcom USA, declaring the she was a natural female who "always looked up to Poison although she doesn't really dig the cross-dressing thing."
  • According to Kejii Inafune, Mega Man & Bass exists parallel to Mega Man 9. However, in the ending of 9, Rush projects nine images of Wily doing the exact same actions in different games, and one of them unmistakably takes place in the final boss room in the former.
  • Nintendo has made many flip flops over the years. For instance...
    • Super Mario Bros.:
      • Sources flip-flop on whether Wario and Waluigi are siblings or not (though they've mostly settled on "not"). It does the same to Toad and Toadette. Even more confusing is when the latter pair is not portrayed as siblings, they're given Ship Tease.
      • The exact relationship between Mario and Peach isn't entirely clear either. Some sources all but outright say that they're an Official Couple, while other sources are more ambiguous. Especially since other characters like Luigi, Daisy, and even Waluigi muddy the situation.
      • Is Yoshi a dinosaur, or a dragon? At first, Nintendo basically used the words interchangeably, before settling on "dino" starting in Super Smash Bros. 64... And then going back to dragon in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and not addressing the issue at all afterwards since it is a fictional species anyway.
      • Whether or not Mario and Luigi's last names are "Mario". Shigeru Miyamoto's stance changes every time he's asked.
      • Due to the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction to Miyamoto retconning the Koopalings into no longer being Bowser's children, Nintendo has since attempted to compromise by stating that their relation to Bowser, whether he's their genetic or adoptive father, a boss who's simply a Father to His Men, or something else, is unknown.
      • Whether Birdo is a guy or a girl. Super Mario Bros. 2 says Birdo is a "guy who thinks he's a girl", but Mario Tennis states Birdo is a girl. Yet, the British versions of Mario Tennis Aces and Super Mario Party state Birdo is a male., yet the American versions state that Birdo is female.
    • Donkey Kong Country:
      • Cranky Kong is either Donkey Kong's dad or grandpa. Further complicating the matter is the question of just whose word to follow. Rare's writer Leigh Loveday has stated that he's DK's father and asked that "if you see Cranky referred to as DK's granddad anywhere, just cover your eyes and hum loudly until it goes away," but Nintendo owns the games (including the characters).
      • This extends to Donkey Kong himself. Is he the son of Donkey Kong Jr., or Junior all grown up? Not helping is Mario Tennis, in which they both appear as playable characters (though, to be fair, Baby Mario also appears in this game and others alongside his adult self) and that Donkey Kong Jr. had effectively been replaced by Diddy Kong.
    • The Legend of Zelda:
      • While we know that Sheik is Princess Zelda using magic to disguise herself as a man, the extent of the magic spell has many contradictory statements. Sometimes, they say that Zelda uses magic to change her physical body. Other times, it is nothing more than a change of clothes (most egregiously, the fluff is at odds between Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl on this). The non-canon but official manga doesn't help matters.
      • How old is Link in Ocarina of Time? The official player's guide for the game said he was ten and seventeen. Then, both The Wind Waker's official player's guide and Super Smash Bros. Brawl list the Link of that game (who's stated to have started his journey at the same age) as twelve, which would make it twelve and nineteen. Fast forward a few more years, and you get an interview with the creators that gives Link's age as nine and sixteen. It must be the Timey-Wimey Ball.
      • And then there was the infamous timeline debacle that lasted up until (and continued after) the release of the Hyrule Historia. For example, the 1998 interview with Miyamoto contradicts the manual of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and then that statement was contradicted by the Hyrule Historia official timeline that was released in 2011.
        Miyamoto: "This is pretty confusing for us, too. (laughs) So be careful."
      • Speaking of the timeline, the Hyrule Historia claimed that The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening takes place after The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games. Years later, Nintendo Dream published the Hyrule Encyclopedia, which claimed that Link's Awakening actually takes place before the Oracle games. A 2018 update for the official timeline supports this change.
    • Pokémon
      • Is Phione a Legendary/Mythical Pokémon or not? Not even official sources can make up their minds on this one. A general rule is that Legendary and Mythical Pokémon are unable to be bred, even with Ditto. However, Manaphy (which was unambiguously classified as a legendary, but now classed as a Mythical, as detailed below) is an exception (as part of its in-game lore has it hatching from a unique egg). The result of breeding a Manaphy is Phione. It has only so-so stats (which are terrible compared to Manaphy's), learns none of the moves that make Manaphy unique, and doesn't evolve into Manaphy. Basically, it is a gimped version of Manaphy. This would be fine, but it is only obtained by breeding Manaphy or other Phione (it doesn't appear in any regional Pokédex either) and it is still restricted from places like the battle tower/frontier/subway, a distinction which only box legendaries (Pokémon that would appear on the cover of the games) and Mythical Pokémon get. The side games treat it as a bonus character, while the anime treats it as any regular (if rare) Pokémon.
      • On a related note, the difference between Legendary Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon. The Japanese media has always maintained there is a difference, but it wasn't until Gen V before international media did the same, referring to Mythicals as Legendaries beforehand. From a gameplay perspective, the difference is Legendaries can be obtained in-game, while Mythicals need to be obtained from real-life one-of-a-kind events or from some of the spin-offs. Yet, Deoxys is available in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in the same way Legendaries are despite still being classed as Mythical. And later on, Celebi was given an accessible event in the Virtual Console release of Crystal. Storyline-wise, the difference is non-existent, Mythicals and Legendaries are both rare, have many myths surrounding them, and a good chunk of Mythicals are closely aligned to Legendariesnote .
      • Are Ultra Beasts Legendary Pokémon? Since Ultra Beasts are simply Pokémon (but strong ones) from another dimension, the simple answer would be nonote . Yet, the Mascot Legendaries of Gen VII are all technically Ultra Beasts from a storyline perspective, and comparisons are also made to the Gen IV Mascot Legendaries in regards to the fact they are from different dimensions as wellnote .
    • Outside actual games, Nintendo has twice announced that new hardware - namely, the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Switch - is a "third pillar", only to eventually discontinue predecessor hardware - the Game Boy Advance and Wii U, respectively. The latter, well, the predecessor had flopped anyway, but the former was clearly an effort to avoid the Osborne effect.
  • The remake of Final Fantasy III gave the previous Featureless Protagonists (known as the Onion Knights for their starting class) names and personalities, and some materials stated that the four named orphans were the same characters as in the original. But then Dissidia Final Fantasy came out and used the "Onion Knight", who is not any of the remake characters, as the game's representative. Later spin-off games have used both the remake's orphans and the Onion Knight.
  • The hair color of Golbez in Final Fantasy IV. Given his heritage, most fans assumed that he would have white hair like his fellow Lunarians under his helmet. The DS remake gave him brown hair in flashbacks... and then The After Years went and gave him the white hair after all. This has lead to speculation that his hair whitened with age or that the brief appearance of a brown-haired Golbez at the end of IV is supposed to symbolize how he appeared before Zemus took control, not his literal appearance.
    • Considering Cecil himself is white-haired in all games, promotional material and even the remake's intro movie, but is blond in-game, it is perhaps better to just assume all other sources are canon and the remake just partook in an Adaptational Dye Job.
  • Due to Ellis being an Unreliable Narrator, the existence of Keith in Left 4 Dead 2 has been of much debate. Valve tried to invoke this trope by saying that "Keith isn't imaginary, except, well, it is a video game, so it's all imaginary."
  • This is the reason why Touhou has such massive, intricate fanon, as when series creator ZUN isn't being deliberately obtuse, speaking in riddles, messing with his fans or outright lying, he changes his mind at the drop of his Nice Hat. For just three examples, he can barely keep the characters' eye and hair colors from changing between games, talked at length about how Touhou "is not a series" which ended with him admitting that it is a series after all, and reports on whether or not youkai have stopped eating people are wildly contradictory (one states it never happens, one states it is a constant concern for the human inhabitants of Gensoukyou, and another states it is only a concern for those outside of Gensoukyou). ZUN sort of covers for this tendency by making having his supplemental materials come from Unreliable Narrators. It's not the author that's wrong, it's the characters!
  • In one of the first outside resources for Wild ARMs, The Filgaia Chronicle, it was stated that the Filgaia in the first two games and the anime was the same place, just with very large time gaps between works and repeated disasters masking the links. Later resources have instead suggested that each Wild ARMS related work has used a different world that shares the name Filgaia. Some of them dovetail nicely in to each other, but others are hard to reconcile... and some have some of each — for instance, Wild ARMS 4 follows nicely from the original or its remake Alter Code F... except that Guardians work differently in it than any other game in the series, including the original and its remake; in others, they're spirits of the planet, but in 4, they're a sort of special type of ARM. At this point, it's basically anyone's guess what's going on with Filgaia in the various games.
  • Portal 2 has accumulated several of these, largely due to the creators claiming not to have had a grand narrative in mind while creating the game and therefore not having answers when put on the spot by eager fans.
    • The actual location of the Aperture Science facility. Prior to Portal 2, they said it was in a Cleveland salt mine, but the game itself specifically places the mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Much of Aperture's backstory and that of its founder, Cave Johnson, is similarly retconned by the game from previous material, with Valve metaphorically shrugging its shoulders as to which story is true.
    • The ending leaves ambiguous the question of whether GLaDOS actually deletes Caroline's personality, is merely lying about it, or even thought she had but was mistaken. Leaving aside the fact that GLaDOS is an Unreliable Narrator, the creators have waffled on the matter in various interviews, going from claiming that she was telling the truth to that she only might have been.
    • Whether Cave Johnson is still alive, Brain Uploaded or otherwise. Again, they've given vague or contradictory answers when asked the question in interviews.
    • Also there's the question of the turret opera song "Cara Mia" which many see as implying that Chell is the daughter of Cave Johnson and Caroline. Erik Wolpaw has said that the turret song was added without his consent and that in the 'canon' version of Portal 2, Chell is just sent straight to the surface. GLaDOS's voice actress Ellen McLain (who wrote the aforementioned song) has been talking about Chell's parentage as recently as the 2011 VGAs. With both of them having a degree of creative control of Portal's storyline, its likely there will never be a concrete answer.
  • Quite common with the Nasuverse, which has a large amount of supplementary material, which often directly contradicts other materials. One particular example is Servants and their memories as Fate/stay night established that Heroic Spirits wouldn't remember their time as Servants in the Holy Grail War and Saber and Gilgamesh only remember the previous war because of special circumstances. Later works like Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star and Fate/Grand Order has them able to remember what happened to themselves in previous works.
  • Perhaps due to the series changing hands, the Fallout universe tends to waffle around about mutants. Specifically, the ratios of FEV and radiation required to create Ghouls and Super Mutants and the New California Republic's feelings about mutants. The current rule is that Super Mutants only require FEV, while Ghouls only require radiation (though the amount of time of exposure is also constantly changing). Fallout 2 showed both types of mutants proud to serve in the NCR army, while Fallout: New Vegas has a quest based entirely on the NCR using mercenaries to provoke the mutants so they can justify a slaughter.
    • The change in the NCR's view of Super Mutants and Ghouls is potentially not a flip flop. Fallout 2 has an entire plot line that revolves around a group of humans that vehemently hates both. In addition, Super Mutants and Ghouls aren't remotely common in the NCR and most of both groups are still outright hostile. Once the exceptions started dying off, it is hardly implausible that the NCR started reverting back to viewing them more negatively as a whole.
    • Fallout 3, however, is much more guilty of this. Washington D.C. is no longer completely obliterated, the Enclave was not completely destroyed when their West Coast base was nuked.
  • It seems Naughty Dog simply cannot make up their minds about Seem's gender in Jak and Daxter. One half of official material refers to them as a girl, and the other half as a guy. When the game was first released, two fans, independent of one another, emailed the developer. One got back "Seem is male", while the other received "Seem is a girl."
  • Diablo III: Is the male Barbarian the same one from Diablo II or not? Some Blizzard employees say yes, others say no.
  • Katsuhiro Harada, the chief producer of the Tekken series, constantly contradicts what he has said in the past about the games' confusing canon. When fans once called him out for making a statement which directly contradicted the game canon, he stated that he considers that the games are basically a series of branching timelines in which all canons are true.
  • After the first Mega Man Zero game, many fans wondered about the gender of Harpuia. The character looked feminine (and had a female VA) but acted masculine (none of Leviathan's "don't hold back because I'm a woman" here), and there were no pronouns to settle it. When asked, Capcom of America went with female — which was news to Capcom of Japan. The conflicting Word of God left many fans confused, even after later games made it clear he was male.
  • Skullgirls: Peacock's outfit, a dress with bloomers that conceal her legs, makes it impossible to tell if her legs are Artificial Limbs like her arms. Alex Ahad has stated a number of conflicting times whether or not her legs are .
  • The Rayman series has been flip-flopping for years as to whether or not the title character's signature floating limbs are one-of-a-kind or not. In the original Rayman game, all characters in Rayman's world had floating limbs, and Rayman himself was nothing special. In the sequel, however, save for his Evil Twin, Rayman was explicitly stated to be one of a kind, because he was created by the fairies who had their own mysterious ideas. Then Rayman Origins came along, and said his limblessness was an accident. Until the Play Station Vita version, which suggested that there'd been at least one other (female) limbless person. And then Rayman Legends comes along, and the alternate Rayman costumes are strongly implied to be different characters—including one inspired by the "Tarayazan" character from the first game.
  • Rockstar Games' official stance on Grand Theft Auto is that each graphical generation (2D, 3D, etc.) represents a totally different continuity, which convinced a lot of long time fans that the HD generation's canon would behave differently from that of the others. But the HD generation is loaded with Mythology Gags that seem to suggest otherwise, and some minor plot elements that featured in previous continuities are revealed to still be around. The Epsilon Program, for example, is just as influential in the HD generation as in previous ones, and Lazlow is not only still a celebrity, but a much bigger one than in the preceding generation. Members of the fictional band Love Fist also appear in games from both generations.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
  • The developers of Terraria stated back in May 2014 that version 1.2.4 would be the last update that adds new features to the game. Apparently they changed their mind, as June 2015 saw the release of Version 1.3. And then came version 1.4 in May 2020, which was titled "Journey's End" and marketed as THE final update for Terraria. Fans are, however, still skeptical, and even the dev team has admitted they aren't sure if it's really going to be the final update.
  • In April 2015, then-supervising director of Steven Universe Ian Jones-Quartey claimed that the game Attack The Light was "level 2 canon", but in March 2019, he said that both Attack the Light and Save The Light are canon.

    Web Original 
  • The issue of Carnivore Confusion in Darwin's Soldiers has been inconsistently addressed. Serris has said that anthro and "normal" animals exist and eating "normal" animals was acceptable. But he has also said to assume that all meat is seafood.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Originally Sozin was implied to have been relatively young when he started the war and ruled for the first 70 years of it before dying, his son Azulon was said to have ruled the next 23 years before dying and passing the title to Ozai for the past 6-7 years before the present. Things got strange during the third season when it revealed that Sozin was actually Avatar Roku's age and began the war at 82. Word of God Hand Waved this by stating that Sozin ruled for 20 years after he started the war, Azulon was born the year the war started and ruled the next 75 years of the war, and Ozai in turn ruled for the last 5 years of the war.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Disney has flipped flopped between whether Chip 'n Dale are brothers or just friends. Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers has them as being unrelated Heterosexual Life-Partners, but in previous years they've been shown to be brothers.
    • Are Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse married, or just dating? Walt once stated that they're married but can be shown at any state of romance if the plot demands for it, but the company still flip-flops about this.
    • Over the years, Disney's come to like the ambiguity in regards to Mickey and Minnie's relationship; it keeps everything more flexible that way. Back in the mid-1980s, Disney's marketeers actually planned a massive marketing push after the disastrous Totally Minnie campaign note  in which, after years of speculation, Mickey and Minnie were finally going to tie the knot in a huge ceremony at Disneyland... and there was a MASSIVE push-back from older animators and Imagineers within the company, who fought tooth-and-nail to prevent it from happening.
  • The original head writer of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Christopher Yost, denied rumors that Ultimate Spider-Man takes place in the same universe, despite Disney XD airing them as part of the same block every Sunday. Jeph Loeb, who became the executive producer for Spider-Man and some episodes from the second season of The Avengers, went on to confirm those rumors. Viewers have pointed out that if Loeb's word becomes true, it would open up a mess of contradictions. (For starters, the title character of Ultimate Spider-Man attends the same high school as Iron Fist and Luke Cage, but Earth's Mightiest Heroes depicts Iron Fist and Luke Cage as older than Spidey). It was also initially reported that Avengers, Assemble! would be set in the same universe as Ultimate Spider-Man. It's since been confirmed by both Loeb and the creators that Assemble is a sequel to Earth's Mightiest Heroes, albeit with past events only brought up in Broad Strokes, if at all.
    • A flashback in Episode 8 clearly shows the characters with their costumes and art style from EMH, making it seem as though they definitely consider it a sequel. However, this would likely only count in the Broad Strokes, since The Falcon's origin directly contradicts the three episodes of EMH he appeared in. The sequence also uses a Thor costume from season one of EMH, but season two garb for everyone else. Though this is because plans for a sequel series to EMH was in the works before the plug was pulled to make a series closer to the films.
    • Yost had also flip flopped over whether or not EMH was in direct continuity or not with Wolverine & the X-Men, which he also worked on though not as head writer (which, depending on who you ask, was either Greg Johnson or Craig Kyle, but both of whom were definitely more in control of that series than Yost). Yost initially said that the original intention was for W&TXM and EMH to be in the same universe but the idea was discarded when W&TXM was cancelled. He then turned around and said the two series could still coexist in the same universe if fans wanted them to (Steve Blum voices Wolverine in both for whatever that's worth, along with Fred Tatasciore as the Hulk).
  • John Kricfalusi seems to change his mind whenever people ask about the duo's sexuality in The Ren & Stimpy Show. He goes from saying that "it's none of his business", to saying that Ren is bisexual, to that they are canonically gay. Heck, even when he made them explicitly gay in the adult spin-off, he still beats around the bush regarding this topic.
  • Arthur
    • Is Prunella a rat or a poodle? Different sources say different things, though the most common consensus is she's a rat who just has curly hair.
    • In one interview, Marc Brown said that the character of Marina was a "variation of a dog," despite looking like a rabbit. In a discussion with fans, producer/director Greg Bailey said that Marina is a rabbit, the designers had given her a dog nose by mistake, and it went unnoticed until after the fact.
  • The Simpsons: Aside from going all the place about the location of Springfield, Matt Groening has switched back and forth on the vague ending of "The Last Temptation of Homer", sometimes implying that Homer did have sex with co-worker Mindy (imagining she was Marge), and stating on other occasions that Homer never cheated on Marge (and never would).
  • Ben 10: Regarding the Ben 10,000 timeline, the timeline that Ben visited in the Ben 10,000 episode of the original series, the franchise's various creative leads have had conflicting ideas on it. Story editor Matt Wayne and the original episode's pop-up trivia stated that it's simply one of Ben's many possible futures, Alien Force/Ultimate Alien producer Dwayne McDuffie stated that it was never our Ben's timeline, Omniverse art director Derrick J. Wyatt stated that it's Ben Prime's current future, and series co-creator Duncan Rouleau isn't sure.
  • Ninjago: To explain season 8's character design changes which resulted from the intervening movie, the writers used the previous season's time travel plot to imply the Butterfly Effect is what changed the ninja's appearances, which meant the ninja themselves unaware of the change. The writers confirmed on Twitter that this was the case, but Tommy Andreasen, co-creator and producer of the series, has stated that there is no in-universe explanation. The show itself aligns more with Andreasen's interpretation, because the ninja have their original designs in flashbacks and old photos, which would not be the case if time travel had changed history so they had always had their new appearances. Additionally, the later mini-movie written by Andreasen entitled "Elemental Rider" had the characters stating that they used to look different.


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