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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 In the canon of that work is an element that has become an embarrassment or is just plain out of date, one that has been abandoned or is in severe danger of being abandoned.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.

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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 Took a Level in Badass, Reconstruction (when something similar is done for a trope or genre, rather than a character or concept), Evolving Trope (when a trope as a whole, not just individual examples, is revised to accomodate modern sensibilities) and Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. See also Cerebus Retcon, where something similar happens mid-story. Also related to Grandfather Clause, where The Artifact or Discredited Trope is kept in a Long Runner because it's so ingrained within the work's mythos that it is impossible to dispose of, but this trope can be used in later installments or adaptations to justify keeping said Discredited Trope. 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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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball, the Great Ape 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 Great Ape 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 Great Apes are basically Super Saiyan Great Apes, 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 Great Ape form in a Saiyan's smaller humanoid state. Even still, Baby Vegeta as a Golden Great Ape is still more than a match for Super Saiyan 4 Goku.
    • While Broly doesn't become a Great Ape in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, he's stated to have a unique genetic mutation that lets him tap into the power of one in his base form, which comes into play for his "Rage" form.
  • In Osomatsu-kun, Iyami was a No Celebrities Were Harmed refence to Tony Tani, whose get-rich-quick schemes and loud attitude made him a Breakout Character among fans. When he was reintroduced in Osomatsu-san, the dated references were turned into him being a former star who clings to 60's humor as a reminder of his Glory Days, and his schemes were made a result of the Matsunos literally robbing him of house and home. "Iyami-san is Troubled" addresses this aspect of his character, and even further states that he was Demoted to Extra in season 2 because the writers couldn't figure out how to keep reimagining him.

    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus encourages originality in a collaborative attempt at Worldbuilding a unique depiction of Equestria and the world at large. Countless gimmick figures from G1 and G2 have been reimagined by countless writers as unique, varied subpony types:
    • Sparkle Ponies are either mutants, or hybrids with the Visitors, and are major players in the setting once Dazzleglow returns. The Visitors themselves are based on the unmade Celestial Ponies.
    • Secret Surprise Ponies are Mutants with a natural Bag of Holding in the form of a biological pouch on their back with magic similar to a giants' that contains a Pocket Dimension. This allows them to store basically anything they want in a given situation, and even act as living personnel carriers.
    • Perfume Ponies have mutated scent glands which enable them to emit various smells. With training, this ability becomes Heart Is an Awesome Power (for instance, they can imitate the smell of Dragon Sneeze Trees, which dragons are, as the name indicates, allergic to).
    • In canon, Happy Tail Ponies have special spinning tails. Codex Equus depicts them as having a mutation that allows them to magically manipulate their tails like an extra limb, which explains why certain ponies in the show have Prehensile Tails in contrast to most others. Applejack, Fluttershy, and Zecora are all Happy Tail Ponies, just to name a few.
    • Rainbow Ponies have multi-coloured hair, and they can control light and rainbows, hence their name. Their hair and appearance are biological solar panels that absorb light and convert it into energies, but there are faulty genes that make this ability lethal to the individual. The majority of Rainbow Ponies are treated as heroes. The most famous of them is Rainbow Dash herself, though she doesn't know this.
    • The Alicorn Amulet that Trixie found in "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S3 E5 "Magic Duel""? It was initially created to increase the strength of magically weak ponies so they could stand equal to powerful-born ponies. It was supposed to just be an Amplifier Artifact... but its wearers would end up using their boosted magic to do evil deeds and blame something else for it, which eventually led to the Amulet itself becoming corrupted.
  • While he's still a VR genius who locked ten thousand people in a video game to have at each other, Akihiko Kayaba is drastically overhauled to fit the Gag Dub and Fix Fic elements of Sword Art Online Abridged. He has come to genuinely hate every single player due to their stupidity they show for their situation instead of being just apathetic, giving everyone a very real sense that he could kill them at any point for any reason. It's shown that his SAO game itself is very buggy and stale compared to what everyone was expecting, due to him focusing on the VR experience. Finally, this Kayaba didn't actually mean for anyone to get killed in the first place, but was so out of his mind staying awake to finish the game on time (Christmas Rushed being an unfortunate real-life scenario as it is) that he didn't realize a glitch was killing players until it was too late. Sanity Slippage made him just roll with it and trap everyone to save face.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): In the games, Eggman's name is a reference to his bizarre body shape — his fat, round torso and long, thin arms and legs making him look like an egg. However, in the film he's played by average-sized Jim Carrey, and no attempt is made at making him look fat. The name is instead coined by Sonic in reference to the machines Eggman controls, many of which have sleek white and round designs that resemble eggs. The Stinger also reimagines the subtler details of Eggman's bizarre design; his nose is red because it's sunburned all to hell, while his ridiculous mustache is implied to be the result of his jump off the deep end. In addition to looking rather like his previous mustache, only hideously uncombed.
  • Star Trek (2009):
    • Dr. McCoy's nickname from Star Trek: The Original Series, "Bones", comes from the term "Sawbones", which was an old nickname for doctors. Since the term has fallen from the parlance, the 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 Kelvin Timeline films 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.
  • 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. Life Day would even be brought into official Star Wars canon with an offhand mention in the first episode of The Mandalorian.
  • 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 MI6'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.
  • The 2005 version of The Producers reimagines the actor playing Hitler in the play from the spaced out hippie LSD (Lorenzo St. DuBois) in the 1967 version to the Camp Gay director, Roger De Bris. LSD was such a product of late '60s counterculture that Mel Brooks thought he just wouldn't work in a modern context. De Bris is in the original movie but due to the time period, had to be more Ambiguously Gay and kept on the sidelines. Since having an explicitly gay character was more accepted in 2005, Brooks felt like it made more sense for him to play Hitler.
  • Monsterverse:
    • Mothra is reimagined as an ancient superspecies with biological abilities, as opposed to an outright goddess with explicitly magical abilities. That said, depending on the audience's perspective, it can be seen as a case of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
    • Mechagodzilla joins the franchise in the fourth entry Godzilla vs. Kong. With its original mecha-like form tonally clashing with the grittier, more-grounded Monsterverse, the mechanical monster receives a full-on redesign more closely resembling military weaponry crossed with the Terminator, and is depicted as a Composite Character with Mecha-King Ghidorah as he is controlled by Ghidorah's brain.
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    Literature 
  • 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 how it's just a feeble imitation of life, and he even contemplates how it might have been better to have gone on.
  • Star Trek The Captains Oath has to do some work with Gary Mitchell, asking why in a professional organization like Starfleet they've got a guy like him operating on the bridge of one of their starships, after fifty years of (real life) society moving on. Kirk's own reputation also takes hits from it, since Gary's his friend, and with Kirk's own Improbable Age it looks like a bad case of nepotism. But at the same time it's shown that, unprofessional attitudes aside, Gary is also good at his job and a good person... adding extra pathos to his eventual fate.

    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:
    • 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 stairsnote  were something of a hack comedian standard routine. The new series reintroduced the Daleks in "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 Russell T Davies' and Steven 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. (Also, Davros sometimes overshadowed the Daleks, Dalek stories at the height of his overuse being more "Davros stories with Daleks as his Mooks." The revival appearances do the same for him as they did for the Daleks themselves, taking him back to his roots. Davros was introduced as the scientist who created the Daleks but was betrayed and killed by them, and reintroduced as the Daleks feeling they needed his genius as they had become creatively stagnant - his second story was more "scientific advisor" than "lord and master," he was their weapon and not the other way around. Davros' new series appearances have him as very much the character from that second appearance - his knowledge is one of the best weapons in their arsenal, rather than them just carrying out his plans.)
    • 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 and 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 work out), 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.
  • Nicolas Danserau and Stu Grayson (real name Marc Dionne) first came to prominence in CHIKARA as the video game-themed luchadore tag team "The Super Smash Brothers", calling themselves "Player Uno" and "Player Dos". When they later signed with All Elite Wrestling, they ditched the Super Smash Brothers gimmick, instead developing the new gimmick of "The Dark Order"—a shadowy brainwashing cult under the leadership of a mysterious figure known as "The Exalted One" (eventually revealed to be Brodie Lee). But as a nod to their previous gimmick, they kept the numerical motif, and Danserau continued to call himself "Uno". To fit it better with the Dark Order's theming, Danserau renamed himself "Evil Uno", and it was explained that their numerical scheme came from every member of the Dark Order being assigned a number indicating their rank in the organization relative to the Exalted One, whose rank was "Zero". Uno's ranking was "1", while Grayson's was "2".

    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. For example, the Wolf In Sheep's Clothing (a carnivorous tree stump with a ludicrous rabbit shaped lure) can now take any dead body and puppeteer it to draw victims closer. 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. ** A good example is the half-orc issue. Second edition ignored the half-orc due to complaints of Moral Guardians, third edition brought them back, but there has been many controversies about half-orcs being potentially children of rape. Subsequent editions and spin-off games portray them differently:
    • 4e replaced them initially with Dragonborn as the new 'big guy'. Later, it established that half-orcs have multiple origins, among which there's a project of an army built by hobgoblins to combine the best traits of humans and orcs.
    • In Pathfinder, many orcs mate with humans willingly... to eventually improve the orcish race and dominate the world.
    • In Thirteenth Age, Orcs arise spontaneously when nature is defiled, and half-orcs are nature's response to that.
    • In 5e orcs, unlike goblins, create huge hordes inviting giants, ogres and human barbarians.
    • Earlier, Arthaus's 3E Ravenloft products had re-skinned half-orcs as a PC race called "calibans". Real orcs aren't actually native to the setting, but pregnant humans may give birth to calibans if they're exposed to curses or other malign eldritch forces.
    • In the earliest editions of D&D, the Githzerai were a highly chaotic race who lived in Limbo because it matched their desire to never be controlled. When Planescape: Torment rolled around, the Githzerai character Dak'kon became so popular the entire race was rewritten to follow his general philosophy and be a generally Lawful society with a penchant for being monks.note  So to explain why a Lawful race would want to live in the most Chaotic plane, it's said that they see Limbo as the ultimate spiritual test... and the place being nigh-impossible to properly invade sure didn't hurt.
    • D&D 5e also brought back the obscure Flumphs (Lawful Good flying psychic jellyfish) and gave them a niche as probably the only trustworthy monsters in your dungeon crawl, who often have a lot of useful information on whatever supernatural nasties you're facing (Flumphs are passive telepaths who tend to pick up on the thoughts of monsters they live near).
  • In-universe example: within the Sentinel Comics universe of Sentinels of the Multiverse, old and out-of-favour Blaxploitation kung fu hero Black Fist was given a lengthy Time Skip, a much more weary demeanour and a garage and retooled into older, grimmer, much less funky kung fu hero Mr Fixer.
  • 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 Hieratic and World Chalice archetypes. 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. In recent years, the game also has a tendency to create "legacy support" cards which are designed to work with these older monsters, with the intention of making them more relevant in the current metagame.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In earlier editions, there was a half-Eldar Ultramarines Librarian by the name of Illiyan Nastase. As the setting developed and the Imperium's attitude of Absolute Xenophobe was codified, Illiyan was quietly dropped for no longer making sense (not only would the Ultramarines would have struggled not kill such a hybrid on sight let alone induct him into the Chapter, but the vastly differing biologies between Eldar and Humans would have made such a hybrid impossible). However, in the Dark Imperium trilogy an Aeldari Farseer liaison to Roboute Guilliman by the rather similar name of Illiyanne Natase is introduced. The name plus his role working closely with the Ultramarines cast Illiyanne as an attempt to update the Illiyan concept while working with the newer canon.
    • Back when the game was simply a Setting Update to regular Warhammer Fantasy but IN SPACE!, there was a faction called the Squats, which were Biker Space Dwarfs which Games Workshop infamously discontinued and declared Canon Discontinuity for over two decades due to them feeling that they were not doing the archetype justice. While Squats would be quietly reintroduced to the setting through mentions in the background and miniatures in the Spin-Off Necromunda, a full Squat faction would not be properly reintroduced until 2022 with the Leagues of Votann, an offshoot faction and highly derived subspecies of humanity that has better preserved Lost Technology from the Dark Age of Technology, specifically supercomputers which they venerate as ancestor gods. It was also revealed that the name "Squat" was a pejorative term used by the Imperium, with the actual name they use for themselves being "Kin". As a telling sign that Games Workshop is trying to do the Space Dwarf archetype justice this time around, one of the first revealed units for the faction is the Hernkyn Pioneer, a reimagining of the infamous Squat trike as a more robust Hover Bike.

    Theatre 

    Toys 
  • 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 partway 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.
  • One of BIONICLE's original "trademarks" was mask collecting, toys knocking off each other's masks and replacing them with other collectible items. The mask collecting aspect and play features were phased out in favor of projectile gimmicks, and some buyers even complained that the masks came loose too easily (missing the fact that that was their point), but masks remained an important part of the character designs and the lore, so their connections were redesigned to be sturdier. In fact, some masks weren't even traditional mask pieces, and could only be taken off by disassembling their figure's head. Later still, masks were temporarily replaced by helmets.

    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.
  • Final Fantasy had earlier games featuring four Crystals which acted as MacGuffins, each attuned to an elemental force and being a source of great power. As this trope became stale, later games started to use them in more creative ways that allow Crystals to remain important to the story in a less-dated way.
    • Final Fantasy VI has the Espers turn into shards of magical crystals when they die, which the party members can equip to learn magic. Final Fantasy VII did the same trick with Materia, described as crystallized Lifestream, the spiritual energy of the planet, and so does Final Fantasy X with Spheres formed from pyreflies. Final Fantasy IX uses a concept very similar to the Lifestream with a cycle of souls that are reborn over and over, and they originally came from a Crystal in the planet's core.
    • Final Fantasy VIII referenced the Crystal mythos of Final Fantasy IV with a Crystal Pillar said to come from the moon, and it can summon monsters from the moon down to the planet.
    • As part of Revisiting the Roots, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII feature more traditional Crystals as gemstones that hold tremendous power. The main plot of XII actually centers on The Empire researching how to create artificial Crystals just as powerful as the original ones created by divine forces.
    • The Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series focuses on Crystals in modern and sci-fi settings. The Final Fantasy XIII trilogy concerns fal'Cie, god-like beings who are implied to be sapient crystals at their cores and form bio-mechanical shells as defenses, and they grant l'Cie eidoloths, crystal shards that contain their Eidolons. Final Fantasy Type-0 depicts the traditional Four Crystals but associates them with The Four Gods instead of the elemental forces, and each grants its nation a particular boon, such as Concordia's crystal granting its people the ability to commune with and control dragons. Final Fantasy XV depicts the Crystal as a treasure from the Astrals gifted to the House of Lucis to use its power to rule over the world, and only those of royal blood or those who swear oaths to them may wield its powers.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy has Cosmos grant power to her chosen Warriors, which will eventually manifest for them in the form of a Crystal. As a Mythology Gag, each of the assembled hero's crystals resemble the kind from their original game, such as Terra from VI getting a Magicite shard while Cloud from VII gets a Materia orb.
  • 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.
  • Maria, the main Law representative of Shin Megami Tensei NINE, eventually started appearing in other games in the franchise, starting with Strange Journey Redux. Since Idea Space and the Neo Messians are absent in these games, she's used as a stand-in for the Virgin Mary instead.
  • 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.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time features two of these:
    • The Omniwrench, which had become useless since the second game, was given an overhaul in this one. The previous game, Quest for Booty, had already worked on this by giving it some gadget functionality, which was expanded here to allow you to pull Shields off enemies and have it involved in the Hydra Tank boss fights. In addition, Ratchet is now able to run and throw the wrench at the same time, which on top of a wider hitbox makes it much more useful for smashing crate stacks and small enemies.
    • The Charge Boots were very useful when introduced in Going Commando, but by Tools of Destruction they were included more out of obligation than usefulness. Come A Crack in Time and they have been reimagined into the Hoverboots, able to be toggled with a single button press, can take turns much more naturally, and let you jump off ramps and pads for platforming action. In addition to being more interesting it allows them to be used in tight spaces (Full Frontal Assault kept the trend by reducing it to a single button press).
  • Spider-Man (PS4) has J. Jonah Jameson not as a newspaper editor but as a talk-radio pundit and conspiracy theory podcaster á la Alex Jones. And it makes a lot more sense than it should. So much sense, in fact, that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would borrow from this game to modernize Jonah similarly in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The Daily Bugle itself, however, is still mentioned as existing as a newspaper separate from Jonah's podcast, with Mary Jane working for them, though it's mentioned that they offer an online edition like many real-life newspapers do in order to stay afloat in the digital age.
  • League of Legends regularly gives updates to characters whose initial concept has ended up kind of out-of-place now that Runeterra has a detailed, worked-out history as opposed to being a place where slapped-together pop culture fantasy concepts beat each other up because Reasons. For example, Pantheon was hugely out of place, as an extra from 300 who drew his entire look from a culture that did not exist on Runeterra; he has since been tweaked so that he's still a buff dude with a spear, but he now looks like a character from Runeterra as opposed to a Spartan warrior who happened to find himself in Runeterra. Fiddlesticks, who did kind of have a place but wasn't particularly unique, was reworked from a fairly generic Scary Scarecrow to an Ancient Evil that has been feasting on fear since the dawn of humanity. League fans are still waiting on announcements for other reworks for characters seriously in need of them like Cho'gathnote  and Corkinote .
  • Sonic Forces:
    • Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant Zone, both zones from the original Genesis titles, are reimagined for the game. Green Hill Zone has gained a desert because of Eggman, which includes new locations. Likewise, the place is filled with robot leftovers everywhere due to the countless fights Sonic and Eggman had over the years. Chemical Plant Zone, likewise, has a story justification for its inclusion, now becoming the space-port towards Eggman's Death Egg.
    • The Wisps, the colorful aliens from Sonic Colors, became a mainstay in further games in the series. This is despite the fact that they left for their homeworld by the end of Colors, and outside of one mobile game, their presence has never been justified. Forces uses them, this time imagining them as allies to the Resistance with the use of the Wispon, a weapon that uses channels their power for all members of the Resistance - incluiding the playable Avatar.

    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 holding facilities 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 intrigue or fear factor 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 mysterious character that may be delusional or knows about a real disease but no one believes him, and 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.
    • The Lolfoundation canon similarly tackles the early author avatars. It reimagines the more lighthearted stories about their antics as having been from the perspective of perception-altered reality warpers, whose "fun" is unknowingly causing near-apocalyptic levels of collateral damage.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • As an example, consider the Cutie Mark Crusaders, consisting of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. They spend half of the series trying to obtain their Cutie Marks. Despite showing many, many talents, they finally earned them in Season 5, and soon discover their purpose of helping other ponies discover theirs.
    • 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 main cast 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!
  • 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.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • The original Ducktales had some issues when it came to portraying foreign cultures, one such example being Dijon, a greedy stereotype of an Arab person. Come the 2017 reboot, he's been reimagined as D'jinn, a poetic swordsman and total badass. However, he maintains a connection to the film, as it turns out that the genie's lamp in question once housed his ancestor. Said genie ancestor was freed, would find love and start a family. He wants the lamp because it's a family heirloom.
    • The 1987 series has Bubba as a stereotypical Dumb Muscle cave-duck who had a pet Triceratops named Tootsie in 1 Million B.C.. Since none of that is accurate, the reboot has Bubba reimagined as a Genius Bruiser from tens of thousands of years ago, who only encounters Tootsie through Time Travel shenanigans caused by Louie's latest scheme. The ending has him carve a certain hat from stone and uses his stick as a cane, revealing that he is the first McDuck.
      • Speaking of Tootsie, she is reimagined as completely wild, to correspond with the fact that non-avian dinosaurs did not live with early humans, and behaves more like a real Triceratops, although this makes her hostile towards Bubba and the main cast. Her lizard-like appearance from the original show has also been exchanged with that of a warm-blooded animal with erect legs and a raised tail, thanks to Jurassic Park popularizing the Dinosaur Renaissance.
    • Bombie the Zombie was heavily changed. In the original Carl Banks comics, Bombie was a creature summoned to get revenge on Scrooge McDuck for conning a group of African natives out of their land. Since Bombie and the natives were designed up as racist designs of savages, this would never fly at all. This goes the same with the reasoning for the summoning. When it was brought in for the reboot, Bombie was reimagined as a Solomon Grundy-like monstrosity who was created to forever chase and haunt whoever proclaimed themselves to be the richest person in the world. Scrooge has been keeping it at bay for years and now has a different target after the events of the previous episode. The Bombie's whole reason for doing so is to serve Humble Pie to their target, so it maintains the spirit of its predecessor in terms of serving as a form of penance though here for hubris and lack of humility.
    • Donald's iconic temper tantrums in the original shorts and comics often were targeted at the triplets. However, given how it would provide bad vibes of Abusive Parent for modern audiences, his temper is treated differently. We learn Donald actually goes to therapy and said therapist reveals Donald's anger outbursts comes from being a Cosmic Plaything and no one understanding him... literally. When he took the boys in and went to therapy, he channeled that anger into protective instincts, his outbursts now the result of unbridled fury at anything that could harm his boys.
      • Said therapist, Neighbor J. Jones, was originally Donald's old Sitcom Arch-Nemesis. Here, he runs an anger management business called Good Neighbor Jones. His relationship with Donald is professional though still vitriolic (though namely because Donald has been late with payments, due to his disappearance) because, hey, it is Donald after all.
    • Many of the female characters from the original series had their personalities and traits changed to be more gender-friendly and avoid stereotypes:
      • In the original series, Webby was treated rather poorly by the triplets due to being a girl with feminine interests. Of course, that would be viewed as sexist nowadays, so the reboot has Webby immediately accepted by the triplets regardless of her gender and interests, which is further helped by her now being an Action Girl and a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
      • Mrs. Beakley, instead of a Granny Classic who faints at the sight of danger, is an ex-spy with a Heroic Build who, beside being Scrooge's housekeeper, is also his bodyguard, and not his secretary.
      • Fenton's mother is not a frumpy TV-addicted housewife but a Spicy Latina police officer (who loves her telenovelas).
      • Goldie isn't just Scrooge's on-and-off Love Interest, but also an adventurer serving as Scrooge's counterpoint to show what life might be like if you only looked out for yourself. Granted, the greater antagonistic approach may be YMMV for some.
      • Gandra Dee is no longer a shallow Dumb Blonde love interest for Fenton, but a freelance scientist. She and Fenton do hit it off in a date, though with the undertones that it may have been for Gandra to get intel on Gizmo Duck, given she was working with Mark Beaks. We haven't seen the last of her, given that we learn she works for F.O.W.L.
      • Daisy has been given a far more complex character than being "girl Donald". She is given a career as a fashion designer, to make her an independent woman albeit with still stereotypically feminine interests. And in order to address the issue of her and Donald's relationship being too toxic over the years, "Louie's Eleven!" starts their relationship over from scratch, showing the aspects why they are meant to be together (particularly, Daisy being the first person to literally understand Donald perfectly). Also, as seen in "New Gods on the Block!", instead of being a nagging shrew who threatens Donald with a breakup over the slightest misunderstanding, she is far more patient with Donald and only flips when the situation gets really bad.
    • The Rescue Rangers would invoke Furry Confusion in a world where anthropomorphic animals are human-sized. To go around this, their origins have been reworked as ordinary lab animals turned intelligent and given anthropomorphic forms by Black Heron's intelligence ray.
  • The Land of Dreams' Serious Business approach looked proportionate in the pilot episode of The Dreamstone, where they were dealing with Zordrak directly and the level of menace was treated seriously. After the show turned into a Harmless Villain formula with the Urpneys however, their war-like methods looked more out-of-place melodramatic and even mean-spirited. The last third of the series added a far more dangerous reason for Zordrak wanting the stone to justify their aggressive vigilance with it, and also revised the Noops into more comedic Mirroring Factions for the Urpneys to even back the sympathy value a little. At least one instance they reverted back to their original malice was treated as petty in-universe and ended with Frizz and Nug pranking them back as karma.

    Other 
  • Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States were founded in the 19th and early 20th centuries when most other colleges wouldn't admit black students.note  When all schools in the US were legally desegregated in 1954, those that were founded to educate black students were dubbed historically black. HBCUs will admit students of all races, but African-American culture remains their central focus.
  • Western Union started out in the 1800s as a telegraphing company that did money orders on the side, then in the 1900s it became a money order company that did telegraphs on the side. But by the end of the 20th century, telegraphs had long become obsolete and several retail chains began their own money order services (and e-commerce has caused money orders themselves to wane in relevance as an alternative to checks). In the 21st century, the bulk of their business is in international money transfers, especially to recipients in poorer countries who might not have access to PayPal. Many ethnic stores in the US offer money transfer services via Western Union for this exact reason.

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