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This material is separated from the main continuity, usually in the form of special episodes, a Non-Serial Movie, or even Bonus Material. It's not out of canonicity, but it's not treated as if it was fully in canonicity either. Its continuity status is not quite accepted, and not quite rejected. None of this will be referenced in the canon, but it will not be contradicted outright either. In other words, it's a standalone episode.

As opposed to the Canon Discontinuity which was explicitly removed from canonicity later, this "Optional Continuity" implicitly was not firmly tied into canonicity to begin with. Unlike Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, it's not just a random throwaway gag that pops up unexpectedly only to sink forever, it's a complete piece of continuity not thrown away, but still set aside. While it cannot participate in overarching storylines, it serves to highlight characters or setting that do belong to the canonical continuity without interrupting the main story flow with expositions, up to becoming dedicated Exposition Bonus Material.

If the events are not inconsequential, such an episode may contain Reset Button, Or Was It a Dream? or Perspective Flip to Unreliable Narrator, forming a weakened link with the Canon. If every installment in a franchise is Loose Canon, then you get Negative Continuity. If the main continuity or Word of God eventually acknowledges this material as canonical despite previously labeling it as this, then you have a case of Ret-Canon. Compare Broad Strokes, where specific bits from a previous story are accepted as canonical in later installments. Unrelated to Cowboy Cop.

Related to Schrödinger's Canon, where the material is meant to be canonical to some extent, but is frequently at odds with the actual canon because it's not really made by the author or some other reason.


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  • The UFO Kamen Yakisoban ads, game, and movie don't outright contradict each other for the most part, but since the ads are short and the game and movie are standalone stories, it doesn't really matter.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Bleach anime: While the Bount, Forest of the Menos, and several other filler arcs do fit in to the anime's timeline where they're set and the former is even referenced in later episodes, "The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai" and "Zanpakutō Unknown Tales" arcs are separated from the anime's main continuity and the ambiguous place of the former in the timeline is even lampshaded. Despite not being referenced after their conclusions, they are not removed from the anime's continuity either.
  • Case Closed has an ongoing spin-off manga series called Detective Conan Special. It's not drawn by the original creator (hence Off-Model being the norms) And while it starts off relatively close to the source materials. Eventually, it moves away from that and now doing its own thing with story and characters. As such, it has no bearing on the main series in any capacity. note 
    • The anime also features original episodes wrote by the team. While they are not part of the manga canon. Later original episodes might have a call-back to an earlier one. Some are a direct sequel, even!
  • Darker than Black's OVA is a Deconstructive Parody of the series... with a Reset Button at the end.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The franchise has the core manga by Akira Toriyama, which all other works are inherently connected to that expand the story without contradicting the manga (even the anime can be considered this with the amount it expands on things). However many of these extra stories contradict each other, and it's simply impossible to avoid Continuity Snarl without keeping Loose Canon in mind for all of them.
    • The Non-Serial Movie Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! creates Androids 13, 14 and 15, which never appeared in the manga besides a small nod about them being unfinished.
    • Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans and Dragon Ball GT depict the wars between the Tuffles and the Saiyans led by King Vegeta, which doesn't really contradict the main series as the Tuffles are never referenced by name beyond the Saiyans taking over their planet.
    • The fighting game Dragon Ball FighterZ introduces the character of Android 21, who is based on Android 16's human counterpart's mother. Not only is this the first material to state 16 is based on Gero's son, but Android 21's human counterpart doesn't contradict anything about Doctor Gero, although the relationship between them is vague.
    • The mobile game Dragon Ball Legends introduces Shallot, an ancient Saiyan wearing an armor similar to what the Saiyans wore before Freeza took over Planet Vegeta. While the events of the game cannot have happened, Shallot himself and his attire don't contradict the series.
  • The Evillious Chronicles franchise has four comedy bonus stories that were e-mailed with the Waltz of Evil databook, each of them too self-referencing to actually be considered canonical. Even so, nothing contradicts that the events of the stories happened and fans tend to take the world-building assertions in them as true.
  • A tie-in game for Neon Genesis Evangelion was promoted as containing secret answers that explained the often-obscure worldbuilding of the series. At the time, it was promoted as being overseen by the director of the series, Hideaki Anno. However, this is pretty uncharacteristic for a guy like Anno, who generally balks at the idea of giving solid answers one way or the other. While the worldbuilding isn't really contradicted by the series proper or its remakes, it also is so divorced from the main story that it might as well not exist.
  • One Piece: Shiki and Uta are unique among movie-only characters in that while their films are non-canon, the characters themselves are, having been mentioned or introduced in the manga. Their whereabouts in the current story, however, is completely unknown, which is the most interesting for Uta, as she dies at the end of Film: Red.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Many of the movies — while a few of them are shown to be part of the canon, one wonders how the Victini movies would fit in, due to them being the same movie, but with different twists.
    • The 2006 Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon special is a more straightforward example. It was made by a different studio than the main anime, debuted in the U.S. before Japan, and features some discrepancies from the main series. For example, it shows Pikachu using Volt Tackle when he had not yet learned the attack in the dub (although this may simply mean that the special takes place sometime after he learned it), and gives Professor Oak a Dragonite which is never mentioned in the main series.

    Comic Books 
  • Any comic book that is a tie-in to something else usually receives this treatment, due to there being no guarantee that consumers of the original will read or even know about the comics. This includes the DC Animated Universe tie-in comics, as well as many of the tie-ins for Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Halo, the Alien and Predator universes, and of course, the Star Wars Expanded Universe. They can't affect the original's plot because it would frustrate people who don't want to cross mediums to enjoy their story, so they are written to be as self-contained as possible.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover stories between companies are usually ignored as alternate versions of characters interacting with each other rather than the true versions of the characters from the main continuity (we have a trope on this). But you'll never know for sure unless you directly ask one of them and they remember the crossover having occurred. Even so, there is dimensional amnesia and other factors to consider, such as rebooted characters who wouldn't even know if they had a crossover because the context of the older crossover represents a past that doesn't quite exist any more for the present version of the character.
  • DC Comics:
    • When the DC multiverse was defined as fifty-two worlds, the Elseworld stories that were not explicitly assigned a world were considered just stories, and not alternate realities. With the infinite multiverse restored and expanded, these stories are likely still realities in the DC multiverse, as some have been revisited and expanded.
    • This is the status of the Vertigo Comics line of DC: it started as part of The DCU, with most if not all characters simply being mature-reader takes on existing characters, but has grown progressively more separate (and also began introducing new titles with no connection to the DC Universe). Basically, a Vertigo story featuring a DC character only applies to the main universe IF a story in a DC comics says it did. For example, we know that Dream of the Endless exists in the DC Universe because he (or rather his replacement) has appeared in issues of Justice League of America and Justice Society of America. However, the versions of Hell from those universes do not match.
      • Though even those interpretations of hell remain as Loose Canon due to the fact that the Sandman series posits that there are multiple parallel afterlifes. In addition, for the most part, Vertigo depicts Hell as subjective; DC depicts Hell as objective.
    • Similar to God Loves, Man Kills (see below), there's Batman's 1986 Son of the Demon story: it was written to be canonical, but editorial decided Bruce Wayne having an illegitimate child made it non-canonical. Several reboots later when writer Grant Morrison introduced Damian Wayne, it became more Broad Strokes.
  • The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics have always operated on loose canon, as opposed to the more interconnected American comics from DC and Marvel. While there might be individual storylines or runs of the comic that keep their story mostly consistent, like Paperinik New Adventures or Wizards of Mickey, every time you pick up a Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse comic you should expect the writers to pick and chose what they want to be canonical, if anything, and the story might take place in space or in medieval Europe for all you know.
  • Gravity Falls: Lost Legends lampshades its status in one of the cryptograms:
    A fandom's work is never done
    So here's some tales just for fun
    You wanted more?
    You got your wish!
    Don't stress—it's only canon-ish.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Marvel used to write a lot of licensed comic books. Some of these licenses were even ones that didn't even have a story before Marvel came up with one, so they were free to cross them over or integrate them into their own universe as they saw fit. In later years, Marvel would write around trademarks to bring these characters back, although some were easier than others. Godzilla and U.S.1 became the legally-distinct "Leviathan" and U.S.Acenote . Rom is referred to only as "the greatest of the spaceknights" in further appearances (that never show his face), whereas The Transformers (Marvel) had already been Exiled from Continuity even when they were being published by Marvel. There's also a coy reference to the adventures of a certain space alien who lives in a phone booth in Paul Cornell's Captain Britain and MI13. In general, the writers like letting their readers headcanon that the stories are still canonical; it's just that they never come back up for some reason.
    • Blaze of Glory treats any western-based Marvel comic like this. Every detail that was a little too out-there is implicitly given the Canon Discontinuity treatment. The idea is that those stories are in-universe fiction made to cash in on the main characters' fame. The miniseries itself has a tenuous place in the larger Marvel Universe, but all of its events are still considered part of Earth-616. Which means that the Blaze of Glory version of the Two-Gun Kid must have also traveled to the future at some point; it's just not mentioned in this series so as to not break Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Why he never decided to bring his futuristic weapons with him to defend Wonderment is anyone's guess.
    • The What If? stories are a strange case, since the events are meant to depict what would happen in different timelines based on a different set of choices. Any new elements introduced in those stories should still be there in mainstream continuity, or at least in the background. But more often, unless those elements are explicitly mentioned or depicted in the main continuity (such as Jane Foster being worthy of wielding the hammer of The Mighty Thor), the stories are considered alternate realities that do not have to affect the main Marvel continuity.
    • The X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills was originally treated in this way: although it was not contradicted by the main Uncanny X-Men series, and generally reflected the state of the team at the time it was published, it didn't fit comfortably into any point during or between issues. The story wasn't directly referred to in canonicity until years later.
  • With Ratchet & Clank, while the non-Insomniac games are generally not referenced, this trope is averted in regards to the comic books, which were written by the main writer of the games and has certain elements either referenced or present in All 4 One, such as Captain Qwark being president of Polaris, or the characters Zogg and Vorn.
  • Given how most Sam & Max comics usually only last three pages and how most stories (including the cartoon and video games as well) are mostly standalone, an official canon for the overall franchise is a really hard thing to decipher. The only time continuity really comes into play these days is in the Telltale Games Sam & Max series and tiny references to past cases (like Jesse James' severed hand from Sam & Max: Hit The Road appearing in recent episodes of the Telltale Games Sam & Max.
  • The Simpsons comics could be canonical to the TV series, not that the show would tell you.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures comic is made entirely of episodic standalone adventures that can more or less take place at some random points of the '87 cartoon, given that its continuity is pretty loose anyway. Issue #1 is the easiest one to determine when, since villains from all the pre-Red Sky seasons are referenced there, but that's the extent of it.

    Fan Works 
  • Getting Back on Your Hooves: The sidestory "Another Happy Mother's Day" is said to be this by Word of God, being one valid possibility as to the fate of Checker Monarch. Ironically, it's actually a Recursive Fanfiction written by Alexwarlorn, the writer of the below Pony POV Series, the two authors being good friends.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim has the spinoff New Adventures: Mature Edition. It's loosely set in the same universe as the main series, but the human characters have been aged up, and Negative Continuity is in play, as opposed to the solider continuity of the main series.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • The series has several chapters which Word of God has specifically said are optional for readers to consider canonical or not, depending on their personal preference. This includes Luna's sidestory and the "Battle Pros" chapter. The former is referenced somewhat in the actual canon, but never truly confirmed.
    • Then there's Pinkie Pie's Side Story, detailing the end of the G3 universe through her witnessing the Cosmic Retcon that must be done or the universe ends. Word of God has pretty much left it up to the readers rather it's a prequel, a non-canonical standalone story, or just a fever dream of Pinkie Pie.
  • Return to Krocodile Isle: With the previous animated short, DKC: Curse of the Crystal Coconut — Animated Short as Skurvy has the Crystal Coconut (or perhaps a replica) and a news ticker in The Stinger mentions Bluster Kong's gone missing as the short had him being made to Walk the Plank but King K. Rool appeared in that short while, in this one, he's been missing for a decade and the Kremlings think he's dead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The three live-action The Fairly OddParents! TV movies, A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, A Fairly Odd Christmas, and A Fairly Odd Summer, have this distinction when it comes to the series proper for reasons such as depicting Tootie as the only potential love interest Timmy ever had, Sparky not being present (not even after the character was introduced in the series proper), and most of all, contradicting the Distant Finale of Channel Chasers, especially since the ending of the third movie has Timmy turn into a fairy.
  • In Star Wars, the films contain elements that are expanded on in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and previously, in Star Wars Legends. To some, only the films count, but there are appearances of EU elements like Aurra Sing in The Phantom Menace, Dash Rendar's Outrider in the Special Edition of A New Hope, and C-3PO's red arm in The Force Awakens, explained in the comic Star Wars Special: C-3PO. Further, the All There in the Manual details of aliens, ships and technology suggests the supplementary materials count unless they are contradicted by the films. Solo adapts plot points from The Han Solo Trilogy, but changes other details, and goes out of its way to re-introduce elements from the Legends continuity into the new EU. Much of the Legends material that was set thousands of years prior to the movies (and thus distant enough to not be of much risk of contradiction by any of the new canon content) is implied to be at least partially canon. For example, the "Qel-Droma Epics" are a set of stories that encompass the events of the Tales of the Jedi comic books, but in-universe scholars debate how much of the stories are true and how much are embellishments. Characters such as Empress Teta, Sith Lord Naga Sadow, the Krath, Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-Jedi-again Ulic Qel-Droma and Jedi-turned-Sith Exar Kun and events like the Unification Wars, Great Hyperspace War and Great Sith War are all canon, but whether and how much the details differ from the Legends version is unclear. Darth Revan from the Knights of the Old Republic video game is also verified to be canon, though whether the rest of the franchise (including the ongoing MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic) will be reincorporated into canon is similarly uncertain.

  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant has Gilden-Fire, a novella consisting of material cut from The Illearth War. It gives information about the Haruchai (the people that the Bloodguard come from) which is found nowhere else in the books. However, the details of the storyline don't quite mesh with the version of events given in The Illearth War.
  • Discworld:
    • Spin-off materials (diaries, maps, Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, etc.) are generally loosely canonical.
    • Hell, earlier Discworld books are this to later ones, because Terry Pratchett admitted he wasn't anything like as good a writer back then as he became. In his own words (paraphrased):
      Was the Patrician a fat man, or was I just not as good a writer as I am now?
  • The Fine Structure story "Marooned" is Optional Canon by Word of God. A number of details, mostly Alternate Character Interpretation on the Big Good, are left to the opinion of the reader.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes expands on the human element of the Five Nights at Freddy's universe, yet at the same time, it is its own universe. It is this book where the Purple Guy's real name was established as William Afton. The book also introduced Henry, the creator of the animatronics, and his daughter Charlie, with the catch that Henry was a Posthumous Character in the book, while in the games, it is instead Charlie who died in the backstory.
  • Elements of lore introduced by the movies and video games are considered canonical to the Harry Potter series by some — as long as they don't contradict elements from higher "tiers" of canonicity, namely the books themselves and Word of God. Creatures like the Valcores or the Troll of Nadroj have yet to come up in expressly canonical media, but neither has their existence been jossed.
  • Psalm 151: Canon, Apocryphal, waste of paper? Depends on if you're Jewish, Roman Catholic, or Protestant.note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • To the extent that Doctor Who has a continuity at all — given that it's a show about Time Travel that allows for changing the timeline, the show's writers generally don't tend to be strict about keeping entirely consistent with the show's whole history — the Doctor Who Expanded Universe is treated in this manner. Several characters, events and settings have been introduced in the Expanded Universe and later given the Ret-Canon treatment. One interesting example is the episode "Boom Town" including a brief reference to the Doctor and Rose visiting the planet Justicia, which happened in a New Series Adventures novel released only two weeks before the episode aired.
  • The Lost tie-in books and video game aren't canonical (except for the Incident Room in the game...) but they don't interfere with canonicity by involving background characters and just mentioning the canonical events as happening elsewhere. (The one trip-up spot here is really the part right before the end of the video game where you have to save Jack and Kate from the Others. There's no reason why that wouldn't come up again in the series...)
  • After the release of Avengers: Endgame, it became unclear if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and other Marvel Cinematic Universe shows not released for Disney Plus remained canonical. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s sixth and seventh seasons appear to directly contradict the timeline established by Endgame, and Coulson's death is mentioned in Loki. In addition, all non-Disney Plus MCU shows are listed under Disney Plus's Marvel Legacy banner, next to the likes of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy and the Fox X-Men movies.
  • The third-season The West Wing episode "Isaac and Ishmael" was specifically intended to be canonically vague — it opens with the actors telling us not to worry about where it fits into the show's chronology (which is wise, given that it falls in the middle of a cliffhanger and its resolution), but no one ever actually says that it isn't canonical.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has a rather intricate multilayered approach to its canon, of which two levels are relevant to this trope:
    • Apocrypha, mostly licensed material (like the animated series and the MechWarrior games) whose events are accepted as Broad Strokes canon even if their specific portrayals aren't, unless otherwise contradicted in canon sources.
    • Canon Rumors, urban legends, conspiracy theories, and other stories that exist in-universe as unproven rumors, many of which involve the secret dealings of ComStar or the mysteries of the Deep Periphery beyond known space.
    • The novel Betrayal of Ideals, which depicts the destruction of Clan Wolverine, also ends up falling into this. It's acknowledged in-universe that the official story that the Clans tell of the demise of the Wolverines is very self-serving, but the novel itself goes heavy in the other direction and depicts events from a very pro-Wolverine bias (as well as contradicting some out-of-character sources of information by depicting the Wolverines as developing some technologies that were supposed to have already been widespread among the Clans by then).
  • Exalted:
    • Adamant Caste Alchemicals were optional in first edition, but were made full canon from second edition onwards.
    • Third edition has three optional Exalted types, the Umbral Exalted, the Hearteaters, and the Dream-Souled. While they get basic writeups in the Exigents appendix, laying out their themes, concepts and backstories, and giving sufficient detail on their Charmsets for homebrew, the rest of the line does not assume their existence, unlike the other Exalted. In the Essence companion, the Umbrals and Dream-Souled get playable writeups, and the Hearteaters get an antagonist writeup, but they're still considered optional.
  • In the early days of Magic: The Gathering, a number tie-in novels were published by HarperPrism and a comic series was published by Armada. When the Weatherlight saga began and Wizards of the Coast started its own novel line, the continuity was revised (this is commonly referred to as "The Revision"). Any material in the old publications is considered Canonical unless new material directly contradicts it.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 have this for almost everything. Major events get retconned all the time, and it's up to individual writers what they consider canonical for their story. Due to the sheer size of the setting and suspect in-universe sources of background info (which is generally presented as propaganda for one faction or another, making its reliability conveniently dubious) things they don't like can usually just be ignored and left ambiguous.

  • The Drowsy Chaperone: In-Universe, Man-in-Chair never elaborates on the actors playing George and Trix. However, the booklet that comes with the 2006 Cast Recording contains fake liner notes from the record of the Show Within a Show, naming both of them.

    Video Games 
  • The Batman: Arkham Series has this with both Batman: Arkham Unhinged comics that tie into Batman: Arkham City and the self-titled tie-in comics to Batman: Arkham Knight, with many of the comic stories clashing with the events of the games.
  • Dead or Alive 4 introduced a Halo Spartan, Nicole-458, as a bonus character. Given one is contemporary and the other is set in the 26th century, making her non-canonical could already be easy. But she was created in close collaboration with Bungie (specially as Tecmo wanted Master Chief himself, before Bungie told them an original character could do away with the protagonist's storyline restrictions), so the response from the Halo side is that there is a Nicole among the Spartans, only her time travelling to go hand-in-hand against busty fighters is certainly not canonical.
  • By and large, Devil May Cry 2's impact on the Devil May Cry franchise's canon has been kept to the barest of minimums. Prior to the timeline re-arrangement around Devil May Cry 5's release, DMC2 was stated to have been set long after the events of Devil May Cry 4 in such a way that it was deliberately kept out of any ongoing story arcs at the time. Capcom then reslotted DMC2 between DMC1 and DMC4, but even so, it still has no relevance to the latter game's plot anyway. DMC5 reuses or recalls significant plot threads touched on in DMC1, DMC3 and DMC4 but nothing much from this game aside from minor references (the only major relevance of DMC2 in anything related to DMC5 isn't found in the latter game itself, but in its Before the Nightmare prequel novel).
  • The Elder Scrolls series has this in the form of "Obscure Texts", supplementary items written by the series' developers and former developers. They're essentially treated as canonical by most of the fanbase (or at least the equivalent of the series' famous in-universe Unreliable Canon), but Bethesda has no official stance either way. Most prolific is former developer Michael Kirkbride, who still does some freelance work for the series. Most of what he writes about are the more obscure aspects of universe's cosmology which don't get expanded on in the games, as well as lore figures the games never touch upon or that Bethesda is simply finished with (like Vivec). As of Skyrim, some of the concepts in his works have been officially referenced in game (the idea of "kalpas," Ysgramor and his 500 companions, and some of the motivations of the Thalmor), moving them to Canon Immigrant status.
  • The Final Fantasy VII Remake storylines in Mobius Final Fantasy are presumably somewhat canonical, as they are written by Kazushige Nojima and provide background information about the story and characters that are certainly not contradicted in Remake itself. However, the idea of Midgar and Nibelheim being relocated to an entirely different planet so Cloud can hang out with a faerie does seem outside of the context of the FFVII setting and tone.
  • Half-Life:
    • Half-Life: Opposing Force (note that the expansions were made by a different company than original producers Valve) introduced the main character (marine Adrian Shepard) who proved quite popular among the fanbase, and the mysterious "Race X" from another, unknown world who happened to arrive at Black Mesa during the events of Half-Life and made a weak attempt to conquer Earth. Their canonicity is pretty much a gray area: it was never completely exiled from canonicity, but they did not appear in the series again. Same goes for Blue Shift; though Barney Calhoun made his way into Half-Life 2, the supporting characters (Dr. Rosenberg) and the exact events are semi-canonical at best. Decay is of even further dubiousness, partly due to its obscurity.
    • Several of the security guards in Half-Life, in the opening before the resonance cascade sets off the game, offer to buy Gordon Freeman a beer sometime later. While Barney Calhoun appears in Blue Shift, he comments in Half-Life 2 that he still owes Gordon that beer. Calhoun never directly encounters Freeman during the course of Blue Shift (he only catches Freeman passing by in a tram at the beginning and witnessing him being dragged away by Marines after he's been captured at the end), though it is conceivable that many guards (perhaps even all guards) owe Gordon Freeman a beer for some reason or other.
    • The only detail from expansions that the writer of Half-Life, Marc Laidlaw, has explicitly declared canonical is Black Mesa's nuclear destruction in Opposing Force's ending.
  • The whole Kirby series is essentially treated this way; there are ongoing character arcs and plot threads, but the specifics of what happened in each game aren't entirely concrete so as to avoid constraining the potential for future stories. This especially applies to the extra modes like Kirby: Planet Robobot's Meta Knightmare Returns; said mode is a What If? scenario where Kirby never wakes up from his nap at the beginning of the game and Meta Knight fights the Haltmann Works Company instead. Modes like this may not be the "canon" telling of their stories, but can be considered canon elements that could have happened if things played out differently, and affect later installments accordingly.
  • It really isn't clear if Mega Man X: Command Mission is canonical to the rest of the Mega Man X series. Zero's ending in Mega Man X6 establishes that he was set to be asleep for 102 years, presumably leading into the Mega Man Zero series, thus making those games set in 22XX — the same year that Command Mission supposedly takes place. Statements by Capcom imply that Command Mission is simply non-canonical; however, given the vague continuity placement of Mega Man X7 and Mega Man X8, which were released after the epilogue scene in X6, it is possible that X7 and X8 are also non-canonical and thus free to lead into Command Mission (though this is unlikely, as Word of God claims that the X6 epilogue is a Distant Finale after the events of the entire X series). Fans typically either treat Command Mission as an Alternate Continuity Gaiden Game set sometime after X7 or try to find a way to fit it into the timeline after the events of X8, which is a bit difficult considering X8 features both a plot hook involving the Big Bad injuring Axl while embedding something in his cracked Power Crystal and an unlockable armor for Axl in said Big Bad's colors (leading many to believe this was setting up a Grand Theft Me situation for a future title), whereas Axl looks no worse for the wear in Command Mission.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid Mobile hits the Reset Button at the end by erasing Snake's memory so it doesn't interfere with canonicity (though that doesn't explain why Otacon doesn't remember any of the events either). It doesn't help that it's so hard to get hold of that it's virtually a Missing Episode.
    • In the Darkness of Shadow Moses and The Shocking Conspiracy Behind Shadow Moses, in-universe backstory documents included with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, were both intended to be canonical at the time, but have been ignored for convenience (particularly the plot point regarding Metal Gear possessing only a dummy warhead, the background information about "the real Naomi" who went missing in the Middle East and the fate of the main Naomi). That said, not much is specifically contradicted between the games and the books and some of the things that are contradicted are likely intentional. The stuff that isn't contradicted (like the background details of Nastasha and Ames' relationship) is presumably canonical.
    • Some of the "Snake Tales" shorts included with Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance — the stories are certainly not part of the main continuity, but some fill in background information that is probably canonical:
      • "Confidential Legacy" is the most obvious one — the story about Meryl working with Gurlukovich is definitely non-canonical, but it also goes into a lot of detail about Meryl's family situation which is regarded as canonical, naming Meryl's legal father for the first time and delving into his military position and job. It also contains the only real explanation thus far for why Snake and Meryl are not a couple in Metal Gear Solid 2.
      • "Big Shell Evil" shows Snake demonstrating a photographic memory talent to memorise a long computer password. He never actually uses this ability in the canon, but there is still a very sad Call-Back to it in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in a sequence where the player may have him forget a computer password, demonstrating he has lost this ability. In addition to this, it elaborates on Snake and Otacon's friendship circumstances and interpersonal quirks, along with "External Gazer".
      • "Dead Man Whispers" fills in a lot of detail about Vamp and Scott Dolph's relationship. The canon has Snake mention in an optional radio conversation that "rumour has it" that they were lovers. "Dead Man Whispers" makes it very clear that they both deeply loved each other, as Vamp is shown to sacrifice himself in order to protect Dolph. It also gives some characterisation to Jackson, the original leader of Dead Cell and Fortune's husband, and goes into detail about what exactly the financial corruption scandal he was involved in was.
      • "External Gazer" is a goofy Crack Fic about Philanthropy fighting a Kaiju, but explains details about Philanthropy's living situation and Mei Ling's role in the organisation.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is generally seen as this in relation to the mainline entries. Hideo Kojima has gone on record to say that if he had more control over the project, he would've handled the story differently. That being said, the game is set at the tail-end of the timeline and explores how the war economy would have continued even after the fall of SOP. References to events from previous games like Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty are made but never contradicted, so there's nothing stopping fans from accepting it as canon anyways.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, not being made by Kojima, is canonical only insofar as it doesn't contradict anything else.
    • Metal Gear: Ghost Babel adds some detail to Big Boss's backstory (such as his student Augustine Eguabon) that was presumably supposed to be canonical at the time, and gives a lot of background information and worldbuilding to Galzburg/Gindra, the country where Outer Heaven was located.
    • Meryl's actual parentage, being the result of an affair between her mother and her supposed uncle Colonel Campbell, is only directly stated in the non-canonical bad ending of Metal Gear Solid where she dies, but that revelation forms a major crux of both of their involvements in Metal Gear Solid 4.
  • Monster Hunter has the Ancient Civilization which is features sparingly in the games themselves. Instead most information comes from published books which contain concept art that didn't reach the games, making their canonical status uncertain. The books detail that the Monster Hunter world is a post-apocalyptic setting after the Ancients triggered a war with all of the Elder Dragons due to their vile behavior; modern Hunters are descendants of their superhuman soldiers from that war. Of particular note is the Equal Dragon Weapon which is largely considered to be the least likely to achieve canonical status.
  • The fifth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, "Rise From the Ashes", generally stays on the outside of the overall continuity of the original trilogy of games. This is because it was produced for the DS version of the first game — a release after the then-final game originally released in 2004, concluding the original trilogy. It's definitely canon because Ema Skye, the sidekick character from that case, later appears as an adult following the Time Skip leading into Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney but this is generally the only element of the case that ever extended to anything beyond its own events (and even she never says anything that directly addresses the events of the case itself during those appearances).
  • The Pokémon spin-off duology of Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, developed by Genius Sonority instead of Game Freak, has this status in the main series's canon. While the main series titles have progressively established that all of the games take place in a sort of multiverse (the Hoenn region in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire canonically exists in its own reality separate from the one in the 3DS remakes, Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire), the Orre region is the only region not named anywhere in-text in any of the main games (Pokémon traded from Orre are labeled vaguely as arriving "from a distant land") and no other story elements of the duology (such as Shadow Pokémon) are ever mentioned. That certain big names in Game Freak have reportedly spoken disfavorably of the games (claiming they don't match the "vision" of the series as a whole) seems to suggest that they're deliberately ignored.
  • The Puyo Puyo series has a lot of small stories — both in the various games, as well as in the novels and Audio Adaptation — that aren't necessarily relevant to the overarching plot, but can come into play again at any time when it comes to the Character Development of the cast or minor plot points being developed.
  • In the Ratchet & Clank franchise, this is how Insomniac Games treats the games not made by them, specifically Going Mobile, Size Matters, Secret Agent Clank and Before the Nexus. While they fortunately haven't contradicted anything thus far, they aren't seen as being very important to the story at large and are never referenced.
  • Resident Evil:
    • The games tend to treat the spin-off games like the Survivor series and the Outbreak series as this, with the main games making little nods to them without directly acknowledging that the events of those games occured. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard would later place the events of Outbreak into definitive canon, as players can find a newspaper article written by one character from that duologynote  that explicitly features a Continuity Nod to what they experienced, though there's no word on if anyone else survived besides them. Resident Evil 2 (Remake) also mentions a NPC from the Outbreak gamesnote , albeit in a manner that makes it unclear if they're currently alive.
    • The two Chronicles games feature scenarios that are condensed versions of the first five games in the main series, depicting them in Broad Strokes, while also featuring two original scenarios. The main series, in turn, depicts these two original scenarios as Loose Canon.
  • RuneScape has some Spin Off novels which are loose canon due to the inconsistencies it has with the game. Some of the events of the novels have been referenced in the game and one of the main characters has also shown up in the game. They officially are cannon except where contradicted by the game.
  • The Sierra adventure games may include lore from tie-in novels, magazine articles, hint books, spin-offs such as Hoyle, and various reality-breaking easter eggs and joke references from other games. And whether or not the sequels to the games made by other creators are canonical depends on one's point of view.
  • According to Ken Eva of Sega Europe, Sonic the Hedgehog as a whole currently runs on this trope, as he's stated that the canon is in flux and what's canonical and what isn't can and has changed at a moment's notice. Basically, the canon is whatever they need it to be at the time.
  • The Light trilogy in relation to Steven Universe. The games don't contradict any canonicity established by the show and could easily be canonical but by that same token, they don't affect the show's plot at all and the endings for all three games pretty much write out any and all the new characters. You could watch the show without ever playing the games and not miss anything plot important.
  • In the Tales Series, the Tales of Fandom games are treated this way, at least by the parts of their audience that don't speak Japanese, due to No Export for You. Details may gradually trickle through the fandoms as Fan Translations are made, but since these can be unreliable, most fanfic writers consider them optional at best.
  • It is somewhat unclearly stated whether the Team Fortress 2 tie-in comic Loose Canon is in fact loose canon or not. Later comics and in-game updates build off of this comic as though it was canonical, so it's only an example of In Name Only.
  • Tekken 7 introduces Akuma of Street Fighter fame into the series canon, where he plays an integral part in the story by fighting and trying to kill Heihachi and Kazuya at the behest of Kazumi Mishima, the late wife of Heihachi and Kazuya's mother. He fights them both at different points in the game's Story Mode, and while his impact on the story is minimal and the outcome of their battles indicates no clear victor, each fight plays a key part in the narrative: Akuma's encounter with Heihachi is what clues him and Kazuya in on Kazumi's intention, and his later fight with Kazuya was part of Heihachi's plan to force him to activate his Devil form and discredit him in the public's eye. At the same time, however, there is no indication that Akuma had to be in the story, as his role could be filled just as easily by any other fighter.
  • The World of Mana games have no explicitly shared world or timeline, despite recurring themes such as being set in a world with a Mana Tree.

    Web Animation 
  • Rain: The Animated Series: The skits and shorts are mostly separate from the comic's main continuity, but appear to take place before, and after the comic’s main story.
  • RWBY: Certain franchise works are designed to compliment the canon of the main show without being part of it, including expansion novels such as RWBY: After the Fall, defictionalized works like RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant, and the canon-adjacent spin-off RWBY: Ice Queendom. The soundtrack also includes feature songs with lyrics that hint at character motives and future plot, sometimes incorporated as Image Songs and Leitmotifs, but which might not be word-for-word accurate to the detail of what's happening in the show due to symbolism and artistic licence.

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, according to the FAQ page EGS:NP stories "generally don't have continuity unless referred to in a later story, and aren't a part of the main storyline unless referred to in the story section." This means unless they involve things that obviously would not fit in continuity (like gratuitous Fourth Wall breaking) or explicitly say they are out of continuity (the Goonmanji storyline is a prime example) the EGS:NP storylines can be considered Optional Canon. This was later changed when the author went back and officially declared which NP stories were canonical (via adding a picture of Grace dressed as a pirate while firing a cannon to the Author's Notes on the first page of each story).
  • The Gunnerkrigg Court bonus pages at the end of every chapter represent two different varieties. Some of the pages just show brief scenes which are officially canonical, but are rarely ever mentioned again. Other pages feature a white-haired girl named Tea who pops in to describe background details to the audience. The contents of her exposition are canonical, but Tea has yet to appear in the comic proper, and she has interacted with a cartoon representation of Tom Siddell (a character that the real Mr Siddell insists is non-canonical).
  • After Homestuck ran an intermission featuring the Midnight Crew from Problem Sleuth, one member of the MS Paint Adventures forums began a forum-based adventure serving as a prequel to the intermission and starring the Midnight Crew's rival gang, the Felt. Although the author was eventually forced to cancel it due to accusations of forcing his fan fiction into canonicity, it was generally seen as this, especially due to the author getting permission from Andrew Hussie to use plot points and character designs that hadn't yet been featured in the main comic, and it was even given a Shout-Out by having Hussie slip a necklace resembling one worn by an Original Character from the forum adventure into the actual intermission. Andrew eventually declared it to be non-canonical, however.
  • Lampshaded in The Order of the Stick:
    Haley: You told me once that you had skill ranks in Profession (chef), right? So cook some stew quick, we grab ourselves a pair of incapacitated warrior-types and scoot out of here.
    Belkar: First of all, I told you that in one of the Dragon Magazine comics, so I'm not even sure that's the same continuity.
  • Questionable Content has a handful of characters who show up only in filler strips that the author writes when he doesn't have time to do a regular strip. However, he did write a multi-part New Year's comic with them, and one of them had a cameo in the comic proper. Oh, and there was also the birthday comic.
  • ReBoot: Code of Honor's status in ReBoot canonicity is unclear. It was written entirely by a fan without any input from ReBoot's creators, but was officially commissioned and hosted by Rainmaker Entertainment. Furthermore, no other ReBoot material has ever resolved Season Four's cliffhanger ending. ReBoot: The Guardian Code is an In Name Only Sequel Series that has nothing to do with the original series' story whatsoever. Even the now-canceled movie trilogy that was announced when Code of Honor was being written was to going to be a Soft Reboot itself, so it wouldn't have resolved the cliffhanger either.
  • Slapdash Application of Verbiage alternates between regular comics and "Tales of Dubious Canonicity", pieced together from previously-drawn artwork. Whether the events and dialogue of these comics have any bearing on the plot or characterization in the main comic is unclear.
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • The "Meanwhile in..." Guest Strip series by Ian McDonald was defined as "mostly cannon" by Pete Abrams when asked, meaning not every detail was absolutely guaranteed to fit canon. Anyway, it was always written so that all the various things that happened in it didn't affect the main storyline happening elsewhere, even when they got pretty crazy and consequential. When the Dimension of Pain became active in the main story again in "That Which Redeems", it had already had a Reset Button applied after the guest stories, which then moved elsewhere and to other characters.
    • The "Torg Potter" parodies are canon but written so that they don't affect the main story and can be skipped. Pete practically apologises when he has a character use the same spell as in them in the main story. This has the ironic consequence that the return of You-Probably-Don't-Know-Who, which should have been the most consequential event in the Torg Potter storylines, has no ramifications as Sluggy doesn't return to that series of parodies at least for many years.
    • A lot of guest stories are written like they want to be this, though they aren't usually given canon status by Word of God, and might not really fit canon. A good example is "The Sluggite Koan", which is set during previously unseen moments during "That Which Redeems" and even ties to real-world events from around the same time, complete with a Refugee from TV Land plot connecting the story and real-world events. In spite of being so elaborately combined with existing material, this story strongly arguably contradicts canon because Bun-bun is given Medium Awareness on the basis that he has had it (only) during Filler Strips. Anyway, it's not confirmed to be canon. One of the few guest strips that is are the "Justine Kasich" stories by Pete's daughter, which involve entirely new characters in the same world.
  • Unwinder's Tall Comics:
    • The Rant below page 32 specified that "It's not Tall Comics canon, but it IS Marmaduke canon." [sic] But fallout from the events of that page pop up again thirty pages later, anyway.
    • Page 97 gives information about the in-universe authors of Powerup Comics. The rant below is quick to point out that this shouldn't be taken as absolute canon for Powerup Comics: "I mean, I consider it canon personally, and it's definitely Tall Comics canon that these are the real people behind Powerup Comics, but at the same time, I don't want to invalidate any fan theories about Powerup." [sic]

    Web Original 
  • Back for the Future is loose canon for the Back to the Future trilogy. The video doesn't even have an entry over on Futurepedia, the Continuity Cavalcade makes it feel almost like a parody at times, and it was made as a promo for a charity auction. But it was clearly designed to fit into BTTF canonicity right before Doc picks up Marty at the end of Part I, it features Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Doc Brown, it has executive producer credits for Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, and it was directed by trilogy producer Frank Marshall.
  • I Love Bees seems to exist as this relative to the rest of the Halo-verse; elements of it have been incorporated into subsequent Halo media (including the games), but several other aspects, most noticeably the existence of a second class of Spartan-IIs, heavily contradict the rest of canon. This is probably because the ARG wasn't even meant be canonical when it still was ongoing, which caused a lot of complications later on when Bungie and 343 Industries decided to change their minds and "embrace it as canon".
  • The SCP Foundation as a whole is one huge loose canon made up of many smaller canons connected together and sharing the same setting. This is because SCP is written by many different authors who may just as easily ignore each other's writing or incorporate it into their own stories. Readers are encouraged to decide for themselves what is canonical, which is called "headcanon." For example most of the pages listed as "Joke SCPs" are actually not even meant to be taken as being canonical but many readers and even some writers take some of them as being canonical anyway. This is also partly justified since a lot of it is told by Unreliable Narrators, and due to usage of Alternate Universes, alternate timelines, Reset Buttons and Multiple Choice Pasts.

    Western Animation 
  • Æon Flux likely has the loosest canon ever. The only things that stay the same between each episode are Aeon, Trevor, the weird future setting and Aeon failing to accomplish her mission. A graphic novel tie-in did explain the backstory, but who knows if anything about that is canonical? Even Aeon and Trevor's relationship is deliberately kept ambiguous; one short has Trevor killing Aeon, another has him giving her a mission.
  • Batman and Harley Quinn was created by Bruce Timm, co-creator of the DC Animated Universe; it's done in the style of The New Batman Adventures and more or less fits its continuity. When asked if it was part of the DCAU, Timm responded that he thinks it is, but he doesn't know his bosses' opinion.
  • G.I. Joe:
    • G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 was intended to be set in the same continuity as the Reel FX movies, and the beginning of the series certainly seems to be picking up directly from where those films ended, with Cobra Commander in jail and General Hawk recovering in the hosptial like they were at the conclusion of Valor Vs Venom. However, the connections between the two series largely end there, with Sigma 6 largely doing its own thing; it has a very different style and feel to the Reel FX movies, as well as different characterizations and appearances for most of the cast. Nothing is outright contradictory, leaving it to viewer discretion whether they share a canon.
    • G.I. Joe: Resolute occupies a very ambiguous place in wider Joe canon, as it's portrayal of the characters and lore is such that it could easily be slotted into any number of continuities without much trouble, but never does so perfectly either. In a lot of ways it feels like kind of an amalgamation of the various canons made up til that point with the nature of its call-backs and it's general vibe, carrying elements from a little of everything (the Darker and Edgier storytelling of the Marvel comic, the fanciful sci-fi tech of Real American Hero, the Animesque style of Sigma 6, etc.). For the sake of convenience, the fandom tends to treat it as its own continuity.
  • This is for the most part how Kung Fu Panda animated spinoffs work: they are officially not canon, but generally do not contradict the events of the movies. However, they do frequently contradict each other, such the Emperor (and, in one case, Empress) of China almost never sharing the same species or personality. This is despite one series occasionally referencing elements from another, such as Bunnidharma from Paws of Destiny talking about Ke-Pa, who's a Legends of Awesomeness exclusive villain; or Po being referred to as the Dragon Master (rather than Dragon Warrior) in The Dragon Knight as he was in Paws of Destiny.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Equestria Girls. While the first few films explicitly take place after certain canonical momentsnote , none of the events that happen in this part of G4 continuity are ever brought up to any degree in the main series. The closest acknowledgments this parallel universe has received are two brief appearances of Flash Sentry's Equestrian counterpart in the show's fourth season, a season seven flashback depicting the villains of the second EqG film being banished to the human world, and a background cameo of EqG "villain-turned-hero protagonist" Sunset Shimmer in the show's Distant Finale. According to the series' directors, both works are canonical to each other, but only FiM events will have any effect on EG and not vice versa to avoid Continuity Lock-Out.
    • The comic book spin-off of the show is of ambiguous continuity to both Friendship is Magic and Equestria Girls. While the creative team behind the comic believes that their work is canon unless the show directly contradicts/retcons it, with this also being Hasbro's official stance, FiM series director Jim Miller personally has a much looser "everything is canonical until it isn't and nothing is canonical until it is" stance. He would later explain in a post-series interview that the creative teams behind the shows were never kept updated on anything regarding the comics, so he doesn't feel too strongly about their canonicity.
    • Friendship Is Magic has some chapter books and picture books used to be ambiguously canonical, but unlike Equestria Girls and the comics above, they would start being referenced sparingly once the writer of said books joined the show's writing staff in Season 5.
  • Scooby-Doo: Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated ends leading into Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, turning out to be a Stealth Prequel. The direct-to-video movies released in 2010 and beyond may or may not take place after Mystery Incorporated, as Mystery Incorporated never confirms or denies that Velma has any siblings that don't live in Crystal Cove with her, Velma's mother is said to be doting not unlike her Mystery Incorporated counterpart, and the Mystery Machine is the same model used from the show as well as having a license plate from Crystal Cove. On the other hand, in one of the movies, Daphne makes a big deal out of her realizing her feelings for Fred, despite their romance being a major part of their story in Mystery Incorporated.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Treehouse of Horror episodes are explicitly non-canonical, due to certain factors. However, certain elements of the episodes, such as the German exchange student Uter Zorker (debuted in "Terror at 5½ Feet" from the fourth episode) and the Lard Lad Donuts franchise (debuted in "Attack of the 50FT Eyesores" from the sixth episode) have appeared in the main episodes themselves, and there's no stopping others (like Sherri and Terri having older twin brothers in "Treehouse of Horror XXVII") from doing the same. Of course, some elements are just as susceptible to Schrödinger's Canon (in the 28 Days Later parody from "Treehouse of Horror XX", Marge is reluctant to kill a Muncherified Helen Lovejoy because she's Lisa's godmother, but "The Changing of the Guardian", a standard episode of the show made three seasons later, revolves around Homer and Marge appointing guardians for their children after surviving a life-endangering situation).
    • Unlike the show's Whole Episode Flashback scenarios, which strive to retain a continuity, Flash Forward episodes don't fall into a timeline and tend to contradict each other, partly due to developments within the series' present being reflected in the future (for example, the death of Ned Flanders' wife Maude, who's shown alive in the first Flash Forward "Lisa's Wedding"). While, originally, these episodes tended to have an Unreliable Narrator framing device, starting with "Holidays of Future Passed" they simply speak for themselves without either integrating directly into canon or going directly against it. While several of these episodes have elements of continuity between them (most notably "Days of Future Future" as an intentional Sequel Episode to "Holidays of Future Passed"), they largely stand on their own.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, while the old Expanded Universe, Star Wars Legends, is stated to no longer be canonical. Still, since The Clone Wars frequently made a Continuity Nod to things that were canon at the time, it means there are many references to events that happen in officially non-canonical stories. In particular, the series had a tie-in comic that filled in some gaps (such as how Wolffe lost his eye, for instance) but is now officially non-canonical.
    • LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures has been described as "canon paraphrase"; think a kid reenacting things through their toys. The specifics of each episode are likely non-canonical, but the basic events do have some degree of canonization. The Freemaker family, their reprogrammed battle droid R0-GR, and the Hutt crime lord Graballa all explicitly exist in canon, though it's unclear whether the canon version of Rowan is Force-sensitive like in the cartoon and it's extremely unlikely that the Sith assassin Naare and the Kyber Saber exist at all in canon.
  • Zuko's Story is a tie-in Prequel comic to The Last Airbender, the live-action film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, the writers went out of their way to incorporate details from the animated series. Except for Zuko and Iroh being drawn as their movie counterparts, the story would fit right in with the animated series, which was in fact the authors' intent. There is however no word on whether the series considers it to be canonical.

Alternative Title(s): Optional Canon