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No Origin Stories Allowed

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Many characters and plot elements lack backstories in fiction. It might be because the creator didn't consider giving them a backstory, or because they didn't think it was important. But then there are times where creators forbid origin stories from being revealed.

There are some reasons why backstories might be banned. The creator might want to keep a sense of mystery around a character or plot element, and they think solving that mystery would make the franchise less interesting. This can also occur because the creator intends to eventually write the backstories themselves, so they forbid everyone else from writing them first. Another reason for this is that the creators may want the fans to come up with their own backstories. In cases where this applies to characters, a Captain Ersatz may be created alongside the character whose origins aren't allowed.

Sub-Trope of Executive Veto. Sister Trope to Restricted Expanded Universe.


Anime & Manga

  • Bleach: Despite his importance as the main Big Bad, Aizen's backstory was a complete mystery and never revealed by the end of the manga. Tite Kubo once stated that revealing Aizen's backstory would give too much away too soon. Elaborating on this in a later response, Kubo explained he dislikes the "Sympathetic Villain Backstory" trope and doesn't want to accidentally get fans to empathize with Aizen.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, several members of the Twelve Kizuki have no backstory in the original manga run; the entire Lower Ranks after Rui and Kyogai died were treated as fodder, dying by Muzan's own hand, without even mentioning their names originally, while in the Upper Ranks there was Gyokko and Nakime who died without a single mention of who they used to be. However, the Databooks filled some of the blanks later: the 1st one revealed the names of all Lower Ranks -but still no backstory-, and the 2nd one gave quick blurbs for Gyokko and Nakime's backgrounds.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Tae's backstory and cause of death were intentionally kept a mystery because the creators felt like there wasn't any reason to reveal them, which was lifted with the spinoff manga Zombie Land Saga Gaiden: The First Zombie.

Comic Books

  • In continuities where The Joker is The Spook for Nothing Is Scarier purposes, his backstory is forbidden from being revealed. The few attempts to give him one have been hand waved off by the Joker saying "I prefer my past to be multiple-choice."
  • When IDW Publishing got the license to create Godzilla comics, one of Toho's mandates was that none of the kaiju could be given origins—they just...appear out of nowhere. This lessened over time, to the point where the Rulers of Earth comic began giving some kaiju like Biollante and the Gargantua twins new origins that are wildly different from their origins in the films.

Films — Live-Action

  • Star Wars:
    • George Lucas has stipulated that Yoda's species, homeworld, and origin cannot be revealed, and this still applies after the Continuity Reboot. It didn't stop The Mandalorian from introducing an infant of the same species as Yoda, however and it should also be worth knowing that it also didn't stop The Phantom Menace from introducing a female Jedi Master of the same species named Yaddle.
    • Lucas forbade the Expanded Universe (now the Star Wars Legends continuity) from directly depicting the Clone Wars or the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire until the release of the prequel trilogy (some material ended up needing retcons). Dark Horse Comics did, however, depict the ancient wars between the Jedi and Sith in Tales of the Jedi.
    • There was a longtime ban on Darth Sidious's childhood and apprenticeship to Darth Plagueis. The ban was eventually lifted with the publishing of Darth Plagueis.
    • Relatedly, this is one reason why Anakin has a Truly Single Parent: Lucas didn't want a million stories about Skywalker ancestors. So the prequels gave us Darth Vader's backstory, but we don't get any backstory for that.

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who has a difficult relationship with this trope, as while the Doctor's never had a definitive origin story, the exact nature of the mystery around their origins ended up getting redefined as the show went along. There's nothing official to actually prohibit giving the Doctor an origin, and that it's never happened is largely a matter of chance and creator decisions (among other examples, the various feature film proposals in the late Eighties and early Nineties were origin stories for the Doctor, and Neil Gaiman proposed revealing the Doctor's origin in "The Doctor's Wife", but showrunner Steven Moffat turned it down).
    • For the first six years of the original series, the Doctor's origin and nature were a mystery (though it was implied he was Ambiguously Human in some fashion), up until "The War Games" and "Spearhead from Space" revealed he was an alien Time Lord.
    • This got taken as a given by subsequent creators and fans, and as more and more was revealed about the Doctor's homeworld Gallifrey and his life there, the mystery of his origin got redefined to what caused him to leave his people, with at least one Expanded Universe story, Eric Saward's short story "Birth of a Renegade", offering an explanation. "The Armageddon Factor" went so far as to basically say the Doctor's name was Theta Sigma, which fandom promptly ignored, and which eventually got retconned as having been his Academy nickname.
    • The final years of the original series under script editor Andrew Cartmel attempted to inject some mystery back into the Doctor, hinting he had a connection of some kind to the Time Lords' origins despite being a child of modern Gallifrey.
    • The 1996 TV Movie said the Doctor was half-human, a legacy of more detailed origin stories in the various film proposals, and even that much caused fandom to detonate in controversy.
    • A year later came the penultimate Doctor Who New Adventures novel, Lungbarrow, which went in-depth on the hints dropped during the Cartmel era, explaining the Doctor was a reincarnation of the Other, a mysterious figure from Gallifrey's distant past, but revealed little of the Other themself, causing fandom to detonate all over again. Eventually, the specifics of Lungbarrow's story ended up getting contradicted by later TV episodes.
    • The last episode of Series 12, "The Timeless Children", did its own take on linking the Doctor to the Time Lords' origins, saying the Doctor was actually the Timeless Child, a mysterious child who might be from another dimension/universe, and who became the basis for the Time Lords' ability to regenerate, and promptly sparked the biggest split within the fandom for decades.
    • There are, however, lines no modern origin from Cartmel onwards has crossed: they've never given the Doctor a comprehensive origin, trying to keep a level of mystery about them, and they've never given the Doctor's true name.
  • Law & Order: Unlike contemporary shows like Hill Street Blues or NYPD Blue, this show was rather restrictive when it came to characters' backstories save for the occasional line of two about a memory, an observation or even a joke about their home life. Around season seven however, the detectives/prosecutors' personal lives took more of a spotlight.
  • Odd Squad: Regarding characters' lives outside of working at Odd Squad, Fred Rogers Productions specifically forbade any kind of reveal surrounding the topic in order to push the idea of equality (perhaps of the belief that the target demographic would begin bullying each other based on things like living conditions, family, etcetera). For some unexplained reason, this was dropped in Odd Squad: The Movie, which shows Olympia living in her own home with no family to be seen, and episodes of the show onwards from the movie have shown characters' homes or family members.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000: The fate of the Unknown Primarchs and their Legions will never be revealed, originally to encourage fans to make up their own stories about them.

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls: What happened to the Dwemer is forbidden from ever being revealed by Todd Howard, who has said that they will never reveal the mysteries of the Dwemer. The developers of The Elder Scrolls Online actually wanted to address their fate, only for Howard to stop them.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic is restricted by Sega to not have a backstory, Origin Story or a reason on why the titular hog has Super Speed. In fact, the original story for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was "Sonic Origins", exploring the origin of the character. No official reason has ever been stated, but corporate decisions have been suggested. That said, there are some versions of the character that have an origin story: Sonic the Comic, Sonic Underground, and Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). Sonic The Comic Origin Story of Sonic being friends with Doctor Kintobor and due to an accident turning him into the evil Doctor Robotnik/Eggman, was based on early drafts of the Sonic Bible, which is completely ignored by the games continuity.

Web Animation

  • Strong Bad Email: In-Universe for sbemail 123. A person emails Strong Bad asking him about The Stick's origins, to which Strong Bad declares he's sick of people asking about the origins of everything, sarcastically asking if they want to know the origins of Strong Sad's belly button (accompanied by a flashback of Lil' Strong Bad getting a power drill) or Bubs' Concession Stand (accompanied by a story book in the style of The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest where the concession stand falls from the sky and kills Mr. Bland and Señor). He states has no intention of sharing The Stick's origin and would only share what makes it a spot worth hanging out at.

Web Comics

  • The Order of the Stick: The author has stated that he's never going to give an origin story for Belkar because doing so would risk making his behavior be less funny and more sympathetic. The Kickstarter for the print editions allowed for three backers to choose characters to have short prequels made about them. One chose Belkar, and the only new information received was that he was an escaped slave at one point.

Western Animation

Alternative Title(s): No Backstories Allowed