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Reimagining the Artifact

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You have an ongoing serial or a Verse of some kind. In the canon of that work is an element that has become an embarrassment or is just plain out of date, one that has been abandoned or is in severe danger of being abandoned. Canon Discontinuity is what happens when that element is written out. Reimagining the Artifact, on the other hand, is what happens when you try to make that element work with the overall tone of the serial.


To qualify, the element must have either been abandoned or been treated purely as The Artifact.

If the problem was with an Artifact Title, this strategy may result in a retroactively Justified Title.

Related to Reconstruction (when something similar is done for a trope or genre, rather than a character or concept) and Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Took a Level in Badass is also related. See also Cerebus Retcon, where something similar happens mid-story. May also involve a Replacement Artifact if something thought to be The Artifact was first removed, found not to be, and then replaced with a tweaked version.



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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball, The Ozaru element of Saiyans largely disappeared after the end of the Saiyan Saga in Z. Future Dragon Ball media brought it back in different ways.
    • Goku becomes a Golden Ozaru in Dragon Ball GT after regaining his tail and using the Earth as a substitute for the moon. Since it can only be used by Super Saiyans with their tails, Golden Ozaru are basically Super Saiyan Ozaru, but with the drawback of having near-uncontrollable rage. More importantly, controlling the rage is a necessary stepping stone to achieve the even greater power of Super Saiyan 4, which draws its strength by using the nature of the Ozaru form in a Saiyan's smaller humanoid state. Even still, Baby Vegeta as a Golden Ozaru is still more than a match for Super Saiyan 4 Goku.
    • While Broly doesn't become an Ozaru in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, he's stated to have a unique genetic mutation that lets him tap into the power of an Ozaru in his base form, which comes into play for his "Rage" form.

     Comic Books 
  • Grant Morrison does this frequently, so much so that he has his own folder.
  • Apache Chief, widely regarded as one of the lamest of the Superfriends, was re-adapted in 2002 by Joe Kelly into a much more interesting character, Manitou Raven.
  • Jughead from Archie Comics wears a beanie on his head. It was an actual fashion in the 1940s amongst young boys to cut up old fedoras. It was meant to signify Jughead being immature for his age, but fell out of style and the significance has been lost. Modern readers are more likely to connect it with Burger King crowns than fedoras. The 2015 reboot introduced a new meaning behind the hat: Jughead was a wealthy boy who wore a fedora, however one day his parents lost their money due to being swindled by a scam. Jughead cut up his hat and he gained the nickname "Jughead" due to his parents being scammed by a water bottle company.
  • This is what Brian Michael Bendis has done with Marvel's lesser or dated 1970s characters like Luke Cage and the first Spider-Woman.
  • According to his commentary in an Ultimate Spider-Man collection, Bendis seemed to believe he was doing this with Venom when he was brought into that series. Their treatment of The Clone Saga is a more solid example.
  • Batman:
    • The Batcave's giant penny. Despite being the most infamous part of the cave's background, Batman got it from an early, absurdly minor foe of his called the Penny Plunderer. Said villain has never made a comeback, but his penny is too iconic to drop at this point, so most later incarnations starting with Batman: The Animated Series kept it but attributed it to Two-Face instead.
    • Robin:
      • Dick Grayson: As comics get Darker and Edgier, a Kid Sidekick is more and more obviously an unethical endangerment of the poor kid, especially since letting them actually die is nothing new. Why is there still always a Robin? Because the kid is usually going to try avenge the Death by Origin Story victim or otherwise operate on his own anyway, (especially in a place like Gotham) and so Bats takes him under his wing to make sure the kid can actually survive his chosen path, and in some cases, be a proper hero instead of crossing the line for vengeance.
      • Jason Todd: He was a delinquent who Bruce wanted to help, and it's also implied Bruce used him as a Replacement Goldfish for Dick after he quit.
      • Tim Drake: After Jason Todd's death, Batman's borderline-instability could easily turn into a He Who Fights Monsters case if he didn't have someone to keep him down to Earth, and Tim wanted someone to take the job for this very reason.
    • This article on The Agony Booth discusses old, laughable Batman villains who were reimagined into much more effective and menacing threats.
    • Batman famously refuses to carry a gun under any circumstances, even though he doesn't have any superpowers, and his job would presumably be a lot safer if he at least kept a pistol around for self-defense. For most of his history, this was largely because the Comics Code Authority severely limited portrayals of violence in comic books, so it became a general rule that superheroes just don't carry guns.note  These days, that's no longer the case; not only is the CCA defunct, superhero comics are now marketed to adults almost as often as children, and superheroes who carry guns (like Cable, the Punisher, and even Batman's former sidekick Red Hood) are fairly common. Today, though, Batman's hatred of guns is a well-established part of his characterization rather than a standard superhero trope. He could get away with carrying a gun if he wanted, but he refuses to stoop to criminals' level by committing murder, and he prefers to prove his superior physical ability by beating them the old-fashioned way.
  • Superman had several of these:
    • Bizarro was originally a dimwitted clone of Superman created by a scientist's "replicating ray", and he famously ruled over the topsy-turvy cube-shaped planet of "Bizarro World", which was populated by similarly dimwitted replicas of Superman and his friends. Some of the campier aspects of the character's origin story—like the cube-shaped planet, and the replicating ray—wouldn't have translated very well to the more grounded and serious post-Crisis continuity, but the general concept of a flawed Superman replica was popular enough that Bizarro himself was brought back. In his new origin, though, he was a genetically engineered clone created by a team of scientists on Lex Luthor's payroll, and his mental deficiency was played a bit more dramatically, making him more of a Tragic Monster than a bumbling simpleton. Bizarro World has never been fully brought back, though it's occasionally referenced and homaged in one-off stories.
    • Krypto the Superdog has been brought back... but to keep down the silly factor, he's sufficiently ill-tempered that he has to be kept in the Fortress of Solitude, and thus serves as a guard dog rather than as an Non-Human Sidekick.
    • Superman did this with the Clark Kent identity Post-Crisis. In the old days, he was just what the TV intro said: Superman, disguised as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. He really had no reason to have a human identity, especially after his powers increased to the point that the job at the newspaper in order to find out about dirty deeds was no longer necessary. Post-Crisis, he's now more Clark Kent who dresses up as Superman and not the other way around. It's also been said that he likes having something he's good at for reasons other than his Game-Breaker powers; being able to throw a whole island into space won't help you win a Pulitzer.
    • There's also Superman's use of glasses to hide his civilian identity. Today, very few people seriously believe that he can effortlessly disguise his face just by donning a pair of glasses, but a few modern writers have toyed with the idea that he actually uses the glasses to hide his distinctive eye color (a bright shade of robin's egg blue that isn't seen in normal human eyes), which is one of the few visible markers of his Kryptonian heritage. Fittingly, this detail came right about the time that Clark's extraterrestrial roots were starting to get more focus in the series (they were originally just a convenient explanation for his superpowers, but have since become a crucial part of the Superman mythos).
    • Christopher Reeve's performance in the movies also made Clark Kenting make more sense. With his acting ability, the total change in demeanor was enough to make pretty much anyone say "Okay, now I can see it."
    • By The '80s, Oswald "The Prankster" Loomis was one of the most problematic Superman Rogues Gallery villains because, for such an enduring character (he's one of the precious few still recurring Superman characters created back in The Golden Age of Comic Books) he posed the least credible threat of all: a gangster, his gimmick consisted in committing crimes in the form of pranks, without having any extraordinary powers himself. This made him the least threatening Superman villain fifty years later when John Byrne re-imagined him as a deranged former tv star bent on revenge for the cancellation of his show by Morgan Edge. This version still was not enough to convince the readers, but by then the Prankster had been around for so long and appeared on practically every Superman live action television show, so he was difficult to get rid off. Thus, in The Noughties he was again retooled as an arms dealer who also specialized in creating diversions to stall Superman when another more important crime was being commited by the Prankster's clients. Still not happy with the result, during the New 52 the Prankster was again re-imagined but as a villain for Nightwing, this time he appeared as a computer expert bent on avenging his father's death due to the carelessness of the corrupt mayor of Chicago.
  • Earth 2 was meant to do this with a number of Golden Age characters, reimagining them in a modern context. For instance, Wing is now a young Asian-American cameraman rather than the Asian Speekee Engrish caricature he was in the 30s. However, Executive Meddling led to the original writer leaving, and the new writer having to throw away all of that writer's work in favour of a Darker and Edgier plot revolving around an evil Superman.
  • Don Rosa did tons of this in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
  • DC brought back widely-hated Fad Super / Captain Ethnic Vibe, who was killed off in the 80s shortly after his debut. They've given him a less-ridiculous costume and removed the more offensive aspects of his back story (he's no longer a Gang Banger who talks like Al Pacino from Scarface (1983)) to make him a more well-rounded character, which led him to become a main character in The Flash (2014).
  • Likewise, Bucky Barnes. While Robin's reimaginings tend to keep the Kid Sidekick angle as a basis, Bucky, though remaining a junior partner to Captain America, became a kind of shadow assassin that did the dirty work that an iconic symbol like Cap just couldn't be seen to do. The Kid Sidekick turned into a sniper that used "Kid Sidekick" as a cover. The Ultimate Universe had him as a wartime photographer who was assigned to photograph Cap kicking Nazi ass.
  • Rick Remender has stated he's fond of this practice, as he considers it a challenge to use obscure or hated characters from periods like the 90s. He's since stated that Onslaught, a widely hated 90s villain, will be the Big Bad in his Uncanny Avengers run.
  • In X-Men, the New X-Men series ditched the standard superhero threads, a Silver Age convention seen as Narm by the writer in light of today's Darker and Edgier comic stories, for black and yellow leather outfits. When the spandex returned in Astonishing X-Men, we're given a good reason for it: The people need to feel like they can trust their heroes, especially the hated and feared mutants, so a "Darker and Edgier kill squad" look was wrong for them.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman had her invisible jet rendered pointless after it was decided she could fly, and it's been a topic of teasing ever since. However, more recently, people have realized that having a stealth vehicle that could transport people or cargo could be pretty damn useful and a lot more effective than simply carrying one person in your arms.
    • Steve Trevor has gone through this lately. Being the poster child (and page image) for Useless Boyfriend, writers can't really find much to do with him, but he hangs on because they all assume that, being the Wonder Woman equivalent of Lois Lane, he should be there. However, the New 52 relaunch has turned him into the liaison between the Justice League and A.R.G.U.S., turning him into the Alternate Company Equivalent of Marvel's Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • IDW's Transformers works do this frequently, reimagining old gimmicks from the franchise's early years.
    • Combiners are treated as a Fantastic Nuke, with the Autobots having to pull out of Earth when the original combiner is abducted by the Decepticons, who naturally want their own.
    • Micromasters are an attempt by the villains to re-create Cybertron on another world, and aside from being smaller and more energy-efficient they are incredibly manoeuvrable, agile, and numerous, what with there being a whole planet of them.
    • Headmasters are the result of several thousand years worth of tinkering and stealing by their creator, and the final result is much more efficient and deadly than the average Cybertronian.
    • The first Pretender managed to ravage Cybertron, and all the ones after are still portrayed as powerhouses and credible threats, resistant to things that would normally be serious threats to a Transformer.
    • The Dinobots choose their out-of-place alternate modes in order to survive on a prehistoric Earth where the conditions are hazardous to them without protection, and quickly become attached. Their designs are also reimagined to look more like real dinosaurs, complete with scale alterations as needed (meaning the member who turns into a brachiosaurus is now head and shoulders over everyone else).
    • Action Masters, the Transformers that didn't transform at all, are Cybertronians who have renounced transforming for religious reasons, even having the mechanisms needed to transform removed surgically, for which they have faced a lot of prejudice, including at one point being the instant suspects in a terrorism case.
    • The existence of Cyber Cyclops characters in a race of sentient machines horrifyingly explained as a form of punitive mutilation called "Empurata" where their faces were removed and their hands chopped off, and they were left with just a singular optic and unwieldy claws. Because it was only supposed to happen to criminals, they were publicly humiliated and shamed for speaking against the corrupt government, while also shoving them straight into the Uncanny Valley from a Cybertronian perspective.
    • Titans are not just really really big Transformers who turn into cities, but are inexplicable relics from an ancient age who served the founders of Cybertronian society, and are considered borderline divine/mystical beings.
    • Those who have extra "superpowers" like Skywarp's ability to teleport, Soundwave's psychic powers, or Trailbreaker's forcefield generation aren't just built that way; they are "outliers", essentially the Cybertronian equivalent to Marvel's X-Men, born with these abilities for unknown reasons.
      • Similarly, the incredible strength and resilience of the likes of Optimus Prime, Megatron, or Grimlock are explained as them being "Point-one percenters", extremely rare sea-green sparks that when implanted inside a body, supercharges them.
    • With the Revolution mini-series establishing the Hasbro Comic Universe, they've done things to some of the other franchises- ie. M.A.S.K. is a sub-division of G.I. Joe (which in turn is now a division of the Earth Defense Command, from the G1 Transformer cartoon) designed to combat the Cybertronians, rather than just a team of good guys taking on bad guys (VENOM being led by the breakaway Miles "Mayhem" Mannheim, who had earlier been in charge of MASK, and prior to that was the "Sea Adventurer" in Joe Colton's Adventure Team).
  • In a rather ironic case of Celebrity Paradox, Brainiac's name began to come off as a bit ridiculous after the character had been around for a decade or two, as the term "brainiac" eventually entered the popular American lexicon as a juvenile slang term for "genius", making one wonder why an alien robot would unironically call himself that in-universe. The Post-Crisis comics eventually retroactively decided that his name was an abbreviation of "Brain interactive construct", making it a bit easier to take seriously.
  • The Shadow Hero is a Revival of the little-known 1940s superhero the Green Turtle, and provides in-canon explanations for many of the more peculiar aspects of the character, such as his unnaturally pink skin, Stripperiffic costume, and curious turtle-shaped Living Shadow.
  • In today's political climate, it's next to impossible to unironically portray an American Captain Patriotic character who can be taken seriously, since unquestioning loyalty to the most powerful military superpower in the Western hemisphere is far more likely to be seen as the mark of a soldier than the mark of a superhero. So then why is Captain America still such a popular character? Well, in addition to being the oldest example of such a character still in publication, the modern incarnation of Cap is easy to root for because he fights for American ideals—freedom, democracy, equality and human rights—rather than for America's government. He's actually far more likely to question (or outright challenge) authority figures than many other superheroes, and will gladly disobey any order that goes against his conscience. In his own words: "I am loyal to nothing...except the dream."
  • Gorilla Grodd, one of the Flash's archenemies, was introduced during a period when gorillas were something of a fad in superhero comics. By the end of the Silver Age, he had essentially become an ignored, one-note threat, and only kept appearing because he'd been around so long. But post-Crisis writers brought him back into relevance by making him a Knight of Cerebus bent on complete world domination, and one of the Flash's deadliest foes; in Geoff Johns' seminal run, in fact, he nearly destroyed Central City singlehandedly. It helps that modern writers tend to emphasize the Lack of Empathy at the heart of his character, demonstrating how scary an aggressively territorial ape would really be with genius-level human intellect, but no human compassion whatsoever.
  • In Green Lantern comics, the Green Lantern rings had the weakness of not having effect on anything yellow. This was later said to be due to the influence of Parallax, who had been imprisoned in the Lantern batteries for eons.
  • Power Girl's infamous Cleavage Window has gotten DC Comics many complaints of sexism over the years, since it pretty clearly just exists to give readers something to ogle. It probably wouldn't fly if the character were introduced today, but it's also such an iconic part of her costume that it looks strange without it (partly because she doesn't have a chest insignia to replace it). The artists have tried to redesign her costume many times to get rid of the window, but none of their attempts have stuck. In recent years, though, the writers have settled on making Power Girl an unapologetic showoff with a playfully flirtatious personality, so it actually seems (somewhat) in-character that she would show off her breasts for the sake of it. It helps that she also has a healthy sense of humor about it, and isn't afraid to hang a lampshade on her sex appeal.note 
  • Egg Fu, a Silver Age Wonder Woman villain who was literally a Chinese sentient egg who embodied all Yellow Peril stereotypes imaginable, is widely despised for his bizarre concept and gross racial stereotyping. There have, however, been several attempts by writers who like Silver Age wackiness to update him in a less offensive way, most notably by Grant Morrison in 52 as a serious Chinese mad scientist villain, and later in Harley Quinn as a benign American small-time mad scientist who becomes one of Harley's circle of weirdos in Coney Island.
  • Bebop and Rocksteady were created for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) to serve as Shredder's Dumb Muscle, and with the show being comedic and primarily aimed at kids, they were soon Flanderized into being so dumb that they were barely functional and the Turtles outwitted them at every turn, making you wonder why Shredder kept them around for so long; other continuities tended to ignore them as a result. Then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) came along and had them just dumb enough to serve as Comedic Relief Characters while playing up their Super Strength to the point where they are almost impossible to defeat.

    Grant Morrison 
Grant Morrison loves doing this.
  • In his JLA run, he brought back such goofy stuff as Aquaman's Silver Age imp sidekick Quisp in a way that fit the tone of the new title.
  • Seven Soldiers was a project whose entire remit was to take dated or underused old characters and re-imagine them for today.
  • All-Star Superman is almost nothing but Reimagining Artifacts from the 1960s and 1950s stories.
  • Grant Morrison's Batman has a bunch of these, as part of his quest to make everything canon.
    • Morrison's unconventional take on Robin with the character of Damian Wayne deserves special mention. Where many fans have previously taken the very concept of a Kid Sidekick with a grain of salt (see above) because of the obvious dangers of the superhero profession, Damian shook up the classic Batman/Robin dynamic in that he was a scarily competent fighter who was raised as an assassin from an early age, and he could be even more deadly in the field than Dick Grayson, who served as the Batman to his Robin.
    • Morrison also brought back Bat-Mite, who was a thoroughly Silver Age thing that wasn't used beyond that point if not in some kind of Mxyzptlk story or something. Morrison reimagined him as the drug-fueled guide to Batman on his journey in "Batman R.I.P." However, it's also played with in classic Morrison fashion when Batman actually asked Bat-Mite if he legitimately was an imp from the 5th dimension or a figment of his imagination. According to Bat-Mite, the fifth-dimension is imagination (which could also explain their capability of playing with reality like a fiddle)
    • The Club of Heroes that Batman belonged to is reimagined as a kind of parody of the Legion of Super-Heroes; they were formed by a bored billionaire who wanted a club of heroes of his own, and Batman never even showed up to their first official meeting, and the club disbanded after that.
    • On a more general note, Batman's aversion for alcohol, at least as far as The Silver Age of Comic Books had it, was originally part of his goody-two shoes personality. Now, it is part of his fear of losing his physical and mental edge if he drinks, so he has good reason to prefer milk.


     Film - Animated 
  • In DC Showcase: Green Arrow, this is done with Green Arrow's infamous boxing glove arrows. The arrow's purpose was to strike the opponent with blunt force, in order to deal a good but non-lethal blow from long range. However, it was too goofy for some to take seriously. Here, they are replaced with cylinders or segments (about the size of the exploding arrowhead) made out of what appears to be vulcanized rubber or something similar as to be able to impact hard without impairing the arrow's flight or looking goofy. In essence, the arrow equivalent of rubber bullets.

     Film - Live Action 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Dr. McCoy's nickname "Bones" comes from the term "Sawbones", which was an old nickname for doctors. Since the term has fallen from the parlance, the 2009 film had Kirk call McCoy "Bones" because, in his introduction, he explains he's joining Starfleet because "The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I've got left is my bones."
    • Similarly, simply having an African American woman as a major character was revolutionary and progressive in the 1960s, but many more current criticisms would point out that Uhura was "answering the phones" while the white male leads went off on adventures. This criticism wasn't strictly fair, but that didn't stop the reboot from making sure to point out that Uhura's linguistic skills were extremely valuable and elevating her to an Action Girl along with the male leads. When dealing with completely foreign cultures, often for the first time, whoever "answers the phone" better be a gifted speaker for your people.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The First Avenger takes the comic-book reimagining of Bucky one further and makes him a grown man—the sequel has it that he's actually a year older than Cap. He's also a Chick Magnet who enlists in the army before Steve does. He does look comparatively younger and less intimidating next to post-serum Cap, but that's about it.
    • In Iron Man 3, the Mandarin's somewhat politically incorrect "evil foreigner" persona is refitted for the 21st century by having this version of the character ultimately revealed as an actor hired to play up foreign terrorist stereotypes to cover up for the real mastermind, Aldrich Killian. Note that this turned out quite controversial, however, with many fans feeling that they were a bit too imaginative with this particular artifact.
    • Doctor Strange (2016): Wong, for decades an infamous example of Ethnic Menial Labor in the comics, is given Adaptational Badass treatment as a fellow sorcerer and one of the mentors of Strange.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming updates several aspects that originated in the Sixties but don't really hold up as well fifty years later:
      • Aunt May is Younger and Hipper, as cultural views of a mother figure have similarly aged down.
      • The Parkers have moved from a house in Manhattan to an apartment in Queens, as gentrification means the former no longer works as a low-income neighborhood.
      • Originally, Peter being a nerd made him a social outcast. These days, nerdiness is more mainstream, and Peter's aptitude for science means he attends a SciTech magnet school. In line with this, school bully "Flash" Thompson has been modified from a Jerk Jock to an academic rival.
    • Black Panther also slightly alters some aspects:
  • Batman Forever took this trope the iconic Robin outfit, which had become a source of some mockery for being a bright red, green, and yellow outfit that contrasts sharply with Batman's black, blue, and grey outfit. The film depicts the traditional Robin outfit as the uniform of the Flying Graysons in the circus, so when Dick Grayson becomes a costumed fighter in his own right, he wears a suit of body armor just like Batman's, but bearing the colors of the circus uniform to honor his family, and the colors are muted and metallic to be less gaudy.
  • Although The Star Wars Holiday Special was treated by Lucasfilm as an embarrassment that would never again see the light of day, elements of it still made their way into the canon. Chewbacca's family, named the unfortunate "Malla", "Itchy", and "Lumpy", had their names retconned as nicknames akin to "Chewie", with their full names being "Mallatobuck", "Attichitcuk", and "Lumpawarrump". Likewise, the Wookiee holiday of "Life Day" is mentioned from time to time in Expanded Universe works, and Boba Fett (first introduced in an animated short in the Holiday Special) went on to become a major supporting character with a huge fan following.
  • In Daniel Craig's first two James Bond films, Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace, the filmmakers made a conscious effort to abandon many of the campier aspects of the Tuxedo and Martini genre, like the flamboyant villains and the advanced gadgets. As such, series mainstay Q was nowhere to be seen. But when Q was reintroduced in Skyfall, Craig's third outing, he got a notable modern update as MI-6's tech-savvy Mission Control with a talent for computer hacking, as well as being aged down significantly to contrast him with the more traditionalist Bond. Though he does have the obligatory scene where he supplies Bond with a list of new gadgets, his computer skills are his primary talent. As the film is quick to point out, having a tech-savvy spy is still a huge asset in an age of digital espionage, even if he doesn't build exploding pens.
  • In the comic books, Lex Luthor is traditionally portrayed as an egotistical, no-nonsense businessman who craves power and respect, and is obsessed with appearing respectable at any cost. With that in mind, it can seem a bit odd that he insists on going by the diminutive nickname "Lex", which has long been established as being short for "Alexander". Back in the 1930s, it was a distinctive name with a sinister ring to it. Today, writers only really use it because it's unthinkable to call him anything else. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice apparently realized that fact, and reimagined Luthor as a significantly younger science prodigy with an eccentric, manic personality, who commands respect despite being flippant and irreverent to everyone he meets. Though some viewers are understandably divided on how faithful the portrayal is, it's far easier to imagine that version of the character calling himself "Lex".
  • Wonder Woman (2017) does this with a few elements of Wonder Woman lore that are kept around today out of tradition, even if they don't always seem logical.
    • Diana's iconic star-spangled leotard doesn't exactly mesh well with the elements of Greek Mythology that are so central to the mythos these days, but she still wears it because it's unthinkable to have her wearing anything else. The movie's version generally keeps the design and color scheme of her classic costume, but it nixes the star motif and replaces the white trim with gold trim, making it look more like an exceptionally colorful suit of Greek armor than a patriotic get-up. Her chest emblem is also reimagined as a winged eagle design that just happens to be W-shaped, preventing any questions about why an Amazon princess wears the letter "W" on her armor. note 
    • Steve Trevor is a good example of a character who used to be integral to the mythos, but often feels out-of-place in modern stories as the writers don't always know what to do with him. Since the Golden Age, many writers have waffled on whether he's Diana's boyfriend or just her contact in the military, and the nature of Comic-Book Time means that he can't always keep his original backstory as an Army Air Corps pilot who met Diana during World War II. note  The movie sidesteps the issue by having him die in a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the movie, thus making him integral to Diana's origin without having to explain how he's relevant to her life in the modern era.

  • In Harry Potter, the later books often mused on the nature of death and how no magic could bring back the deceased. This became somewhat awkward when you remember all the ghosts floating around Hogwarts and interacting with the other residents. Rowling lessened this somewhat with a conversation between Nearly-Headless Nick and Harry, where Nick explains how choosing to become a ghost makes you know nothing of the secrets of death, and it how it's just a feeble imitation of life, and he even contemplates how it might have been better to have gone on.

     Live Action TV 
  • Ryan Howard of The Office eventually lost his role as the newcomer for obvious reasons, and went through an arc that saw him become a Corrupt Corporate Executive and then fall from grace. Despite having no storyline to advance, he stuck around because as he was played by an executive producer on the show. Later seasons remedied this by making the character into a satire of a hipster, thus giving him something unique to do again.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the 1970s the idea of the Doctor travelling around wildly in space and time had been largely dropped in favour of earthbound stories thanks to the show's ReTool into a Spy Fiction-style show, with the exception of one space jaunt Once a Season. Season 12, which introduced the Fourth Doctor, went noticeably 'retro', harking back to the Hartnell and Troughton era in terms of tone. Not only do all of the stories (except the first of the season) involve time and space travel, there is a Dalek story written by Hartnell-era writer and Dalek creator Terry Nation and a Cyberman story written by Hartnell/Troughton-era writer and Cyberman creator Gerry Davis, and a Troughtonesque (but Darker and Edgier) "base under siege". The only Pertwee elements are Sarah Jane's continued presence, "Robot" which was deliberately written as a Pertwee-style story but with the new Doctor in it to show off how different his new personality was, and the Sontarans who reappear as the antagonists in a two-part Bottle Episode to save money on monster costumes.
    • A combination of this and Ascended Fanon lent plausibility to the biggest narrative conceit of Doctor Who: that even when the characters stop off somewhere for totally innocent reasons, they will inevitably encounter not just trouble, but extraterrestrial trouble. Fanon for years has been that the TARDIS, which is a living being, purposely drops the Doctor off in places and times where he is needed. This was heavily implied to be true throughout the revived series, and is eventually explicitly made canon in "The Doctor's Wife".
    • The TARDIS' police box design. At first, in The '60s, it wasn't anachronistic, but nowadays, characters ask "What is a 'police public call box?'" and the broken chameleon circuit, though part of the setting from day one to a smaller degreenote , is sometimes a running gag (It's fixed! ...and its new form is not under the Doctor's control, highly inconvenient, and at least you know where to enter the police box version. It's fixed! ...and when it scans the area and decides on an "appropriate" form, it's always a police box. Or Donna can fix it with her new Time Lord knowledge! ...which is about to burn out her brain, and what comes next is not funny.) and the Doctor has at least once admitted that he could probably fix it if he really wanted to, but likes it the way it is. They also introduced (and named) the idea that the TARDIS has a Perception Filter that makes people not notice it even if its apparent form isn't period-appropriate.
    • The Daleks had suffered some extreme Villain Decay by the end of the Classic series, becoming quite easily explodable and harmless even in great numbers, as well as having no agency thanks to the introduction of their leader, Davros. This was not helped by the species being a UK cultural meme for forty years - impressions of their obnoxious, squawky voices and jokes about their use of plungers as weapons and (imagined) inability to climb stairs were something of a hack comedian standard routine. The new series reintroduced the Daleks in the episode "Dalek", in which we find out that the Dalek race was on the brink of annihilating the Doctor's race, and the Doctor had to commit genocide against both species in order to save the universe itself - the Dalek in the episode gets a much less shrill, much scarier and much more expressive voice than the original series Daleks had, is treated realistically as the death machine that it is, and incorporated elements from the very first Dalek serial (such as the idea of Daleks as objects of pity as well as revulsion) in order to make them just as terrifying as they had first been forty years ago. Throughout both Davies' and Moffat's showrunning of the revival era, there's also been an added emphasis on delving into the psychology of the Daleks and the Doctor's relationship with them. (For example, they claim they grew stronger in fear of him. He's tempted by them to lose his temper several times, and also ponders in private whether he could maybe redeem them one day, somehow.) This effort helped the Daleks return to the sort of nuance and cred they had as antagonists back in the 60s and 70s. And Davros, previously overused in the classic era after his first appearance, has had a guest role in only two revival-era stories so far, one in each showrunner's era. Tellingly, these Davros stories were critically well-received, both for Davros' rare resurgence and the quality of writing put into him as a villain.
    • Several other classic-Who races that'd been fairly lame from the moment of introduction, such as the Silurians, Ice Warriors, and Zygons, have likewise been re-vamped into something much more formidable by the revived series, making them scarier in some cases and more tragic or multifaceted in others.
    • The concept behind the Nimon - aliens based on the Minotaur of Classical Mythology - is used again for the central alien in "The God Complex", this time creating something more complex and tragic than the original take.
    • "Cold War" is a whole episode written to explore the stereotype about Doctor Who monsters always being easily outrunnable Mighty Glacier creatures with movement impeded by the actors' unconvincing rubber suits. It reintroduces an Ice Warrior, an old-school monster who fits this description, and reveals that what was assumed to be his body is in fact his armour. The armour impedes his movement just like the monster costumes do in real life, and once he's shed it, he is a lot faster.
    • The Cybermen started out fairly scary for the 60s, with their emotionless desire to convert other beings into more Cybermen. As time went by, less focus was put on the assimilation aspect of their personalities, and they became generic robotic soldiers, often openly displaying emotions as well. When they reappeared in the new series (as parallel universe counterparts that never had the originals' Weaksauce Weaknesses), much more focus was placed on the Body Horror and Loss of Identity aspects of their nature, making them scary once more. This includes a direct Internal Homage to their big moment of the Classic series (slowly emerging from tombs) in "Death in Heaven". The way of defeating them went from 'throw gold coins at them' to 'give them their emotions back,' creating heart-wrenching scenes of Cybermen screaming in agony, dropping dead, or outright exploding as they were destroyed by the sheer horror of what they'd become. (However, Villain Decay set in once again as this became easier to do.)
  • In Star Trek, the old TOS-era Klingon foreheads were simply dismissed as old budget-level alien makeup effects and style evolution... until the DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" brought attention to it by juxtaposing Worf (undercover) next to some old-style Klingons. He said "It's a long story" and the Klingons "don't talk about it with outsiders", making the difference an in-universe affair. Come Star Trek: Enterprise, a season 4 episode finally gives an explanation: They are the result of a badly botched attempt to match human augments with Klingon augments of their own, but it went horribly awry and caused a terminal viral disease. The cure involved a blend of human DNA to undo the damage, which had the side effect of loss of cranial ridges for a few generations. Reconstructive surgery is mentioned, hence specific Klingons showing up in the TNG era with the forehead ridges they hadn't had in their original appearances.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • The Code used to be the rule of law Ring of Honor was built on. Refusal to follow it resulted in penalty, with the more grievous violations making one eligible to dismissal from the promotion. Eventually, the flaws in such a system became apparent and the code was done away with, except fans wanted it back. So the code returned but was less "law" and more a Character Alignment tool to further flesh out wrestlers.
  • "Women Of Honor" was a broad term referring to any woman working for Ring of Honor. There were always wrestlers among them, but women on ROH shows were better known for their scheming. Actual women's divisions did not get started until 2007 and 2008, both of which were mostly handled by SHIMMER. After Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased ROH in 2011, ROH and SHIMMER decided to operate separately and every woman, aside from Embassy hanger on Mia Yim, was dropped by ROH. SHIMMER still existed, but it turned out some women liked working for ROH and they had the support of a small but loud portion of fan base. ROH brought them back soon enough but took awhile finding a purpose for those more interested in wrestling than managing. It tried using Pro Wrestling Revolution's Women's Division in SHIMMER's place(didn't workout), it tried calling in competitors from SEAdLINNNG(didn't get many) and eventually settled on branding Women Of Honor as a competitive division with its own live shows and title belt.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder had several bestiaries dedicated to re-imagining various monsters; in particular, "Misfit Monsters Redeemed" is purely this trope, as they chose the stupidest monsters from the Gygax era and attempted to make them work. This was inspired by their revamp of Dungeons & Dragons Goblins, who are generally just treated as fodder, as they lack the 'technical skills' that they have in other works.
  • Dungeons & Dragons took some cues from Pathfinder in its fifth edition, re-imagining many of the same weird old monsters into something a bit more functional.
  • One of the main card types in Yu-Gi-Oh! are Normal Monsters, given that they have their own card frame. There was a time when the bulk of your monsters were normal, and a time slightly more recent when you had a few to serve as muscle, but thanks to power creep that doesn't really happen anymore. Over the years there have been attempts to make them more relevant, such as Heart of the Underdog and the Heiratic archetype. Their success has varied.
    • Similarly, there are many iconic monsters that, due to Power Creep. are now laughably weak. Every so often, the game comes out with a 'retrain' of one of them, which is a new, more powerful card representing the same character.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising:
    • Similar to the examples from Comic Books, Uprising reimagines the Targetmasters, one of the later gimmicks of the original toyline where the main toy came with a transforming gun. In Uprising lore, the Targetmasters get an upgrade - the team-up uses the Sparks of both partners to boost the gun's power phenomenally. And then Thunderwing learned of an even darker aspect: He altered the effect so Targetmasters could drain the life out of anything and everything nearby. Suddenly, both sides realized the Targetmasters had to be taken out. So they were. Three hundred years later, the few remaining Targetmasters have to live in hiding, in case anyone learns what they are and tries to use them for their own ends.
    • Beast modes. In the original Beast Wars, they were adopted because the cast needed them to survive without suffering energon overload, not a problem for the Uprising cast since they're still on Cybertron. But part way through the story, Megatron realizes that Maximals and Predacons still suffer the same fuel inefficiencies as their Abusive Precursors, so he devises the Beast Upgrade. With that in place, both Maximals and Predacons become able to metabolise fuel the way humans metabolise food, rather than having to live off energon. The Beast Upgrade goes from a justification to why the toys are what they are to something that helps the Resistance start winning their war.
    • The Maximal insignia, which in all fiction beforehand was just there, with no comment on the change from the Autobots. One story mentions that it's a stylized Cybertronian wolf's head, after the hound of Maxima, the first Maximal, used as a rallying symbol after her death (neatly also explaining the name "Maximal" - they're the followers of Maxima).
    • The symbol of the Vehicons, an oddity among Transformers insignias for not looking like a face of any kind gets a note in the grand finale, when Knock Out ruminates on its symbolism - not a face, but a stamp, representing the lifelessness the Vehicons bring.

     Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Khajiit's appearance changed between Arena and Daggerfall, and again between Daggerfall and Morrowind, becoming steadily more cat-like. Lore from after Daggerfall explains this by establishing that there are 17 known distinct "sub-breeds" of Khajiit, and which sub-breed a Khajiit kitten will grow up to be depends on the phases of Nirn's two moons under which the kitten was born.
    • A similar explanation exists to explain the changing appearance of the Argonians throughout over the course of the series. According to the lore, the Argonians worship a species of sentient (and possibly omniscient) trees known as the Hist. Argonian hatchlings drink the sap of the Hist to grow, and the Hist can communicate with the Argonians via visions transmitted in the sap. Sensing the upcoming Oblivion Crisis and the trials that would follow, the Hist recalled nearly all of the Argonians in Tamriel to their homeland and began to change them physically, making them into more effective weapons of war.
    • Cyrodiil, the setting of Oblivion, was described a dense tropical jungle with Mayincatec elements in earlier games. The developers made the conscious decision to go against this established lore in order for Oblivion to have more of a Medieval European Fantasy feel, making the setting in a temperate forest land. In-universe, this change is explained in obscure texts as Talos terraforming the region as a reward for the Imperial Legions who served him so well in life as Emperor, making it a more comfortable place to live. When the developers of The Elder Scrolls Online, a prequel taking place roughly 500 years before the events of the main series, dismissed this inconsistency as a "transcription error", Fanon Discontinuity was declared among lore junkies. Others rationalized that Talos' changes to the landscape were retroactive, making it so that Cyrodiil had always been temperate.
  • The Crystals in Final Fantasy were consistently present, if not always the MacGuffin of the story, from I to V. By Final Fantasy VI they were becoming stale and were removed - however, the system by which the characters learn magic is still crystal-themed, focusing on the use of equipping much smaller crystals called Magicite. Final Fantasy VII did the same trick, allowing the player to give spells and abilities to characters by putting associated Materia crystals in their weapons and armour; VII also featured a subplot near the end where the characters must rescue "Huge Materia" in a save-the-Crystals-like fashion, although it doesn't change the plot of the game if you fail and lose them all. VIII didn't even contain these diminished Crystals, and IX featured them only as part of the 'Classic Final Fantasy' Pastiche. In recent years, the concept of the Crystals has been revived, inspiring the "Fabula Nova Crystallis" franchise ('new tale of the Crystals'), featuring several different universes where Crystals feature in the same ways - a deliberate case of Revisiting the Roots. Various spinoffs such as Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy Explorers, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, The 4 Heroes of Light, etc, all feature the original Crystals myth in more modern ways.
  • The typewriters and limited ink ribbons that were used throughout the Resident Evil series up until the fourth installment would be brought back in the form of tape recorders and limited cassette tapes for Resident Evil 7, keeping with the game's theme of getting back to the series original heavy emphasis on slow foreboding horror as opposed to action.
  • Soulcalibur VI
    • The "Soul Charge" mechanic that had last been used in Soulcalibur III returns, but instead of providing a quick buff in attack power to a character's next attack, functions more akin to a Super Mode. It can only be activated at the cost of one bar of super meter, but provides various buffs for several seconds while active. This, in addition to its instant activation also makes it more practical, where Soul Charge in previous games were rarely used due to leaving players wide open to attack while charging.
    • Soul Chronicle mode combines elements of single-player modes from previous games: in addition to having a main narrative in the same vein as "Story ~1607 A.D.~" from V, it also contains various side stories occurring in the same time frame as the main story that focuses on individual characters and their exploits, not unlike arcade modes from earlier games and "Tales of Souls" from III.

     Web Original 
  • As a long-term collaborative fiction project that has undergone some pretty big paradigm shifts, the SCP Foundation has a small handful of these.
    • SCP-148 was originally a metal alloy which blocked psychic energies without any side effects or downsides, and was used to make some of the Tailor-Made Prisons for other SCPs. Wiki site members decided this was boring and rewrote it so that it has such extreme downsides that no one uses it for anything.
    • SCP-049 is one of the most well-liked SCPs outside of the community, but was one of the most disliked within, being seen as a heavy handed attempt at horror that lacked the depth or nuance most modern pages have. It previously alluded to an illness that showed no signs of existing and at some point created fast zombies. In 2018 djkaktus, one of the biggest contributors to the site, retooled it into a clearly deluded entity that creates passive zombies. It got in-depth interview logs that give it character and depth, and generally created a much more interesting read while keeping the most famous elements from the original.
    SCP-049: I… you are all sick, but I… I can save you. I can save all of you, because I… I am the cure.
    • The Tale series of Ecce Perago and Annon provided a possible explanation for why the various Author Characters who appeared so often in early SCP articles are now rarely seen: They got promoted and are the current Overseer Council nowadays.

     Western Animation 
  • Similar to the above Apache Chief/Manitou Raven example, the campy characters original to the old Superfriends show were re-imagined as the Ultimen and given a tragic arc in an episode of the DC Animated Universe Justice League series.
  • Young Justice:
    • The show reimagines sidekicks/young partners for superheroes. Batman points out a rather practical reason to do this: because nobody takes them seriously, they're much better suited to covert operations. After all, if the heroes are all fighting the giant Monster of the Week, surely there's nobody else to worry about?
    • Invasion also did a more serious, respectful take on Apache Chief and several other of the "Affirmative Action" Super Friends. Samurai and El Dorado became Asami "Sam" Koizumi and Eduardo "Ed" Dorado, losing their stereotypical costumes and quirks in the process. Apache Chief's popular for this. The Young Justice version is even named for and voiced by the same guy as his Justice League counterpart. (However, Longshadow is actually his last name, as opposed to Long Shadow as a codename.)
  • Beware the Batman uses the D-list and extremely 80s villain Magpie as a recurring character, but she's been given a 21st century makeover so that she now resembles a flashy, modern pop starlet like Lady Gaga rather than a hair metal groupie.
  • The original Mad Mod was a Fad Super. The version of the character in Teen Titans justifies his dated pop-culture references and basis by having him be an old man who uses holograms to make himself appear young.
  • The villains in Thundercats 2011 are named after each animal they're based on—Lizards, Jackals, etc.—instead of them all being called "Mutants", and often get new names that while still based on their animal, are a bit more imaginative (Vultureman becomes Prefect Vultaire.) Third Earth is populated by many animal races and the Mutants' equivalents are drawn from them.
  • My Little Pony:
    • Cutie Marks in the My Little Pony franchise have existed since the first generation and have since been The Artifact; even in the original series and comics, they were just there because the toys had them and they were never discussed by the characters. If you were a show-original pony, you didn't have a mark because it wasn't necessary (from a toy-selling point of view) to give you one. It wasn't until Generation 3 that they were acknowledged by the characters and given their name, and only in Friendship Is Magic did they actually have a purpose in the story other than just sort of being there, now representing a pony's special talent and calling in life. Getting one in childhood is used as a stand-in for puberty and someone who helps you figure out the meaning of yours is sort of like a guidance counselor.
    • The Friendship Reports in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic were originally meant as a recap of the episodes events, but began to be phased out near the end of Season 2 and were practically non-existent in Season 3. In Season 4, the concept was been brought back after the Mane 6 found the Princess' old diary and decided to keep one for themselves.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), for obvious reasons, couldn't actually show the heroes slice and dicing with their weapons, at least, not against foes who were flesh and bone. What to do to compensate for the lack thereof? Simple. Turn opponents such as the Foot Soldiers into robots, so that slicing and dicing can be shown freely.note  In the 2012 series, where multiple things from the 1987 series are reimagined to be less silly, the robots are revealed early on to be adaptive, and can challenge the heroes. It's also justified: The heroes keep beating up the Foot so much, they can't recruit any more minions!
  • Batman Beyond features a reimagined version of Ace the Bat-Hound, a loyal masked dog sidekick that Batman had during the campy Silver Age, when animal sidekicks were something of a fad in comics. But instead of taking him as a sidekick, Bruce simply adopts Ace after he retires from crime-fighting, and he gives the elderly Bruce some much-needed companionship after he falls out of touch with his old friends from his days as Batman.
  • The idea of a wrestler taking random challenges from the crowd might just about have been plausible when Spider-Man's origin was written in 1962, but creators since then have just had to barrel through it and hope nobody asks questions. Marvel's Spider-Man makes an attempt at bringing it into the 21st century by suggesting it's not a normal wrestling event but a Reality Show called So You Want to be a Wrestler? (It's still unlikely Spidey could just turn up, not give his real name, and end up wrestling the champ — for real — the same day, but the basic premise is there.)
    • Also, the live-action movies had it as a much seedier affair that clearly isn't playing by any rules.
  • In the original Voltron series, Nanny is Allura's overprotective Arusian caretaker who constantly fusses over the princess's safety and is bent on keeping her away from danger. Voltron: Legendary Defender re-imagines her as Dayak, the Galran governess who raised Prince Lotor, and a Blood Knight Sadist Teacher who considers skipping out on her lessons to be an insult worthy of a Duel to the Death.