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They're discussing about a Space Elevator. And completely shattering the fourth wall in the process!

"Comic book fans will be familiar with the term 'retcon', which in layman's terms means that the writer waves his hand and tells you 'Remember when we said this? We screwed up, forget about that.'"

Retroactive Continuity.

Reframing or adding to past events to serve a current plot need. Take the page image: a pre-existing space elevator is in the city, but one did not appear to exist earlier in the work despite the fact that a building reaching up into space would be plain to see in any wide shot. However the current story requires a space elevator, so it's been added and treated as if it's always been there.

In its most basic form, a retcon is any plot point or detail that was not intended from the beginning, but treated as if it always had been (contrast this with The Reveal, where the author usually intended such an addition from the beginning). The most preferred use is where it contradicts nothing, even though it was changed later on. An ideal retcon clarifies a question alluded to without adding excessive new questions.

While the term comes from comic books, dating to All-Star Squadron #18 in 1983 and shortened to "retcon" by the end of the decade, the technique is much older. Often, it's used to serve a new plot by changing its context or expanding an existing setting; however, it's also done when the creators are caught writing a story that violates continuity and isn't very plausible.

In Marvel Comics, the person who pointed out the problem and at the same time provided a plausible explanation was awarded a Genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize by editor Stan Lee, a tradition that was kept alive by other editors after he became publisher.

See also Ass Pull, which is something that was not properly set up before it is sprung on the audience, and Cliffhanger Copout, in which a perilous situation is retroactively changed to allow the characters to escape. It is related to Deus ex Machina. Some, but not all retcons are Ass Pulls, and a good retcon can actually improve the current narrative. A good way to get away with a retcon is to reveal new implications or motivations for events that have already been established.

Smoother retcons won't be distinguishable as such, and can even make what was initially an Ass Pull later look like everything was Just as Planned. (In other words, No Prize it into plausibility and away from the dizzying realm of the Ass Pull.)

The retcon is considered by many to occur when current events contradict the past continuity of the series and is evidence of a Writer on Board. Perhaps more often, the retcon does not actually violate Canon, but rather violates fanon, the set of unstated interpretations usually made by the audience (an interpretation violated this way is said to be Jossed). Most competent writers achieve a retcon by relying on a less-obvious but still perfectly valid interpretation of what was previously seen.

As the number of twists and misdirections in a story becomes higher, it becomes more difficult to tell whether an event actually is a retcon (which implies that the writers changed their minds), or a misdirection (which implies that the writers intended the "retconned" version all along, and had been deliberately misleading the audience before). In some cases, it is impossible to tell, short of reading the author's mind (even then, it might not helped, as it's entirely possible for an author to be on the fence about what they're planning to do).

A retcon may be used as part of an Armed with Canon campaign launched by one author against the work of another author in the same Shared Universe. Over-use of retcons can result in Continuity Snarl. It can also result in your readers and fans approaching the work with a certain degree of skepticism, cynicism or even complete uninterest, especially if you tend to obviously and quickly retcon away that which turns out to be unpopular or drastically challenges or changes the status quo — after all, why get involved in your latest Crisis Crossover Event which promises to change everything forever and that nothing will be the same again if there's a good chance it'll all just be retconned away after a short period of time?

Sometimes retcons involve little more than altering the timeline of events to occur later than originally stated. This is common in science fiction franchises that are set in the not too distant future. Once that future date becomes the past in reality, this necesitates the re-dating of the work in order to keep it set in the future. This happens with a lot of long running sci-fi series that were conceived, for example, in The '60s and set in The '90s or early years of the twenty first century.

Some retcons occur for no purpose other than to address a "goof" in the scriptwriting that aired before it was spotted. This often occurs in series where you will constantly have Loads and Loads of Writers and often just as many different editors and script checkers. It wasn't too crucial in the days before home video when it was likely that viewers would never see an episode again. Thus, they were just as likely to forget that two character who, back in season one, say that they've known each other since law school, now claim in season three that they literally grew up together on the same street. In trying to reconcile these two claims, it often leads to a lot of other unanswered questions that now need to be addressed without contradicting or contriving too much.

This happens very easily with prequels when the writers aren't being very careful. On the other hand, Tropes Are Not Bad. It's entirely possible that an author will retcon their own work to fix a Continuity Snarl or even apply an Author's Saving Throw if things get really hairy. Sometimes, if the pre-retconned works are no longer considered canon by the author, those works are discontinued in canon. In Long-Runners, retcons are often used to fix Values Dissonance, to address problems stemming from the various manifestations of Time Marches On, or to bring previous parts of the story in line with shifts resulting from things like Doing In the Wizard. Sometimes? People actually like the Retcon better - and thus, they don't take much of an issue with it.

Compare Flip-Flop of God. Tends to come in The Reveal format. May involve Opening a Can of Clones. Can at times also qualify as a Throw It In!. Sometimes a result of Depending on the Writer or Depending on the Artist.

Specific variants:

  • Backported Development: When someone's characterization in flashbacks is tweaked to more closely resemble their current self; a retcon to address Characterization Marches On.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Previous events are treated as if they never happened.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Sometimes a result of Cerebus Syndrome that makes a past event more serious as part of a shift to drama.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A character disappeared from the narrative without explanation
  • Continuity Snarl: In shared universes that undergo changes in management (new generations of creative teams), contemporary writers are less inclined to slavishly adhere to internal consistency with plots, events, or visual styles that were written twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago, especially when those older stories are now outdated as they were originally presented.
  • Heinousness Retcon: A returning villain's crimes or personality are retconned to make them better/worse than originally established.
  • Retgone: A character In-Universe is told to not exist.
  • Revision: A continuity alteration that doesn't directly contradict any previous material.
  • Rewrite: A retcon that openly overwrites the facts of the previous continuity.
  • Orwellian Retcon: The prior events that contradict the new continuity get rewritten.
  • Cosmic Retcon: An in-story event alters reality, which causes a retcon.
    • Retconjuration: An in-story ability to alter reality, which causes a retcon.
  • Remember the New Guy?: A new character is introduced, but is retconned to have been part of the story all along.

Related concepts for explaining away retcons can include the Hand Wave or Lampshading; can also involve an Unreliable Narrator. See also an Internal Retcon, for retcons within a fictional universe, or External Retcon, for retcons in real life.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • In a Baby Blues strip from the mid-90s, Zoe's middle name is stated to be Jennifer. A 2007 strip later changed it to Madison.

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores and Boomsticks: Professor Cypress' name used to be spelled Cyprus until a reader pointed out that it is "a country you go to either on vacation or to launder blood money" instead of a tree like most Pokémon professors.
  • The Child of Love: A while after completing the fic the writer decided that naming Shinji and Asuka’s second child “Axel” was a dumb idea, and he retroactively renamed it “Hiroyuki”.
  • Do You Believe in Fairies?: The name of Cadance's silkworm was retroactively changed from a Coco Chanel reference to a Vera Wang reference because the writer thought Coco was too problematic.
  • Family Guy Fanon: While Meg was always a Griffin in the original, here she's an adoptive Griffin, with her real father being Stan Thompson, who was originally an unseen character mentioned in an off-hand comment in "Screwed the Pooch", and the fanfic makes it very clear Stan exists, with the family constantly mentioning him and even wiping Meg's memory of it, Men in Black style when Peter finds out he accidentally said it in front of Meg. This becomes more than a new way to bash on Meg in Season 21, with the season having a story arc where Meg finally finds out the truth and finds her real father, who becomes a recurring character after the arc.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf series, Nat, Snappy, and Slouchy were never adult Smurfs that became Smurflings to begin with, as they were rewritten to be Smurflings coming straight from Smurfling Island. As a result, a few stories that were adapted from the 1980s cartoon show that originally featured the adult Nat Smurf were rewritten to feature Tapper as a nature-friendly Christian who uses the power of Jesus to influence animal beings such as Azrael and a pack of sharks.
  • In a rare in-universe example, the Lemony Narrator of the essay-fic, Equestria: A History Revealed, crosses out sentences from sources she cites as soon as they disagree with something else she's been saying. It only points out her alterations of history even more.
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness: The Alternate Ending was initially supposed to be a non-canon "What If?" scenario, as the author had intended for the previous chapter to be the story's true conclusion and had no intention of writing more. Eventually it was incorporated into the story's timeline via the Extra Stage, if only as one of a series of bad dreams Patchouli was having.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race:
    • The Special Edition Episode 1 makes it clear that the company Wily failed to get a job at was Vick-Tek; in the original it was an unnamed company and mentioned in passing.
    • It also has Lynn Wersching and AL-05 appear earlier as they investigate Wily's home.
  • In Chapter 32 of Bloodborne fanfic The Night Unfurls, the Good Hunter is seen missing an eye after being shot in the side of the head by an assassin, experiencing his first death while protecting Celestine. This is despite that in the game, whenever a hunter connected to the Hunter's Dream dies, they simply respawn with no further impediment. This is never explained, due to the original version of the story being discontinued.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic "Pattycakes" was first written so that a badly derailed Fluttershy broke Rainbow Dash's will and caused her to regress to a childlike mental state. Given that a) the psychological torture involved consisted of bondage mitts, oatmeal, a bottle and a nappy and b) the whole thing took less than a day, a second part still referred to Dash as "mentally broken" but hung part of the plot on Dash's condition being the result of a mental regression drug Fluttershy had invented.
  • To better match the lore and backstory later revealed in Doom Eternal, the author of Remnant Inferis: DOOM had certain chapters given minor revamps and rewrites regarding Argent D'Nur and the Doom Slayer. For example, Aelia and Doomguy originally had a pleasant first meeting in a field. In the revamped version, it was after he was severely wounded and driven mad from his final battle with the Icon of Sin, in which she tried to tend to his wounds. Another is that the Marauder speaks in the rewritten versions when he was silent originally.
  • Ruby and Nora: During the events of Vytal Tournament, it's was stated that after losing his Dust shop because of the Schnee Dust Company, Flynt Coal's father was later arrested for stealing and selling Dust illegally in order to provide for his family (which is enough reason for him to be angry at the Schnees). More than a dozen stories later in Cold, we find out Jacques Schnee actually set Flynt's father up and framed him for the crime, mainly to prevent him from getting his Dust shop back.
  • RWBY: Scars: During volume 4, the writer rewrote a volume 1 scene where Yang hits Weiss. It counted as Early-Installment Weirdness but was still too OOC for the story.
  • The rewrite of Sonic X: Dark Chaos not only retconned huge parts of the original, but it also retconned nearly all of the author's prequel story Fall of the Seedrians as well - to the point where the author discontinued the prequel entirely.
  • The author's notes in Spirit Of Redemption reveal several retcons made to previous chapters, usually regarding the characters' ages.
  • Several of them in Superman fanfic Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation:
    • Lorile's job changes twice.
    • The Superman's descendants’ weakness to saltwater, originally stemming from pollution, was retconned to be caused by a hex put on them by Hecate.
  • The Farscape fic "Unseen Hands" has Crichton discover a holoimager recording of Moya's original escape which reveals that Aeryn's presumed-dead ex-lover Velorek- the Peacekeeper responsible for Pilot being bonded to Moya in the first place- actually helped arrange the escape by providing Rygel with the appropriate access codes. Talking with Pilot, Crichton learns that, just prior to the escape, Moya was scheduled to be taken to a Peacekeeper base where she and Pilot would have been subjected to brutal treatment as part of an attempt to find new ways of controlling Leviathans; Velorek intercepted Rygel's escape plan by providing him and Pilot with the necessary access codes (the codes Rygel would have received would have actually destroyed his cell), Velorek even disabling the control collar himself rather than D'Argo destroying it as appeared in the show. At the conclusion, Pilot and Crichton agree to keep the truth secret, as Pilot feels it would shake up the crew's confidence in their own abilities to learn that they had assistance from a Peacekeeper in their first major cooperative effort (as well as Crichton privately not wanting Aeryn to know that Velorek is still alive).

    Films — Animation 
  • Before 1985, there was no such thing as a set Disney Animated Canon. There were Disney classics, but the list of what constituted an "official" entry was constantly changing; they'd add and remove films depending on whether or not they wanted to bill their latest film as "our 15th feature" or "our 20th feature". That changed with the release of The Black Cauldron, which they billed officially as their 25th film by only including films that had at least 75% animation. However, two fully animated films that the list did not include (that had been included in the list's previous incarnations) were The Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons (1937), which was a compilation of various Silly Symphonies shorts in order to get audiences excited for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), and Music Land (1953, and no relation to the 1935 animated short), another compilation film that featured shorts from Make Mine Music and Melody Time stitched into one film, complete with a new opening and transitions between the shorts. Academy Award Review was re-released into theaters in 1966 and released on Laserdisc in Japan in 1985, but Music Land has been lost to history.
    • Disney edited the canon again in 2009 by including Dinosaur (2000), which up until that point had not been included, in order to call Tangled (2010) their 50th animated film.
    • In Europe, since the 2011 Winnie the Pooh film did poorly at the box office, the movie is no more counted as part of the Canon since the 2014 release of the "52 Classics" DVD boxset. Also, The Wild replaces Dinosaur, because UK viewers liked the former a lot.
  • The Lion King:
    • Kopa, Simba and Nala's son mentioned in the storybooks The Lion King: Six New Adventures, was ditched and replaced with Kiara in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride without explanation. Averted in this case since the series was published by Grolier Enterprises with the permission of the Disney Marketing department, rather than by Disney itself. The presentation scene however is retconned, and there are several other characters who are borderline retconned (depending on whether you consider the deleted scenes canon).
    • Simba's and Nala's cub at the end of the first scene has male markings, but is technically never called a male. The sequel redesigns the cub to look female and made her into Kiara. Originally there were going to be twins, which would explain the unknown female cub while keeping the original male cub, but Kiara's twin brother was scrapped to fit continuity and because writing multiple cubs wasn't working well.
    • In the original film, Timon is confused by the presence of Rafiki as Simba leaves to fight Scar; "Who's the monkey?!" Despite this, the prequel+midquel The Lion King 1 ½ establishes that they had met before, on the night before Simba's birth, and he mentions him as "the monkey" several times throughout the film up until the exact point where Simba leaves.
  • An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island states that Fievel Goes West was All Just a Dream.
  • The Kung Fu Panda 2 tie-in short Secrets of the Masters completely changes the backstories of masters Ox, Croc, and Thundering Rhino, though this isn't too big of an issue since their original backstories were only explained on the official website, not in the film itself.
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • Originally, Aquata was the oldest sister and heir to the throne. This was used in media during the 1990s. In the third movie, Aquata is portrayed as the fourth oldest and Attina is now the oldest.
    • Adella was portrayed as slightly heavier than her siblings in the both first and second films and in the series she is much heavier than them. She's since been retconned to being Ariel's size.
  • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time retcons the second movie out of existence, though Anatasia's love interest still appears as a Mythology Gag.
  • In Monsters, Inc., Mike and Sulley’s backstory was that they had been best friends since grade school, Monsters University retcons this into them meeting in college and becoming friends after starting out as rivals. This isn’t too jarring as their history was mostly Word of God, the only reference to them growing up together in the movie was a throwaway line where Mike claims Sulley has been jealous of his looks since fourth grade.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven took place during The Great Depression yet the sequel takes place in The '90s. Itchy apparently only recently died between the several decade timeskip.
  • Despicable Me:
    • Bob and Otto from the Minions films are nowhere to be seen in the main Despicable Me films. They're not even spoken of! Although Bob did appear in the end credits in the second film.
    • At the end of Minions which takes place during the mid-1960s, the minions encounter their boss Gru as a child and he takes them in. However, in Despicable Me 3, his twin brother Dru says that he was a child during the 1980s.
  • Scooby-Doo: Return to Zombie Island , the sequel to Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island has 2 cases of this:
    • The original movie has the gang as adults and with real world jobs, while the sequel keeps them as teenagers.
    • Daphne in the original had her own talk show, Coast To Coast With Daphne Blake, while in this movie, she was an intern at a tv station.
  • Frozen:
  • At the end of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Buck destroyed the land bridge connecting the world of the dinosaurs with the surface world permanently enclosing the two off. The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild seems to ignore that in showing Crash and Eddie (and the rest of the herd later) falling down the same chasm they fell in before and being able to just walk through a small cave into the Lost World.
  • Disney Fairies: The fourth film, Secret of the Wings, does this by including a rule in which fairies from warmer seasons are forbidden to enter the Winter Woods due to its low temperature that can affect the warmer fairies wings. The first film don't have these rules at all with the winter fairies appearing in warmer areas and vice versa. Secret of the Wings also has a different minister from the first film appearing as if he was the minister for the entirety of the series.
  • Trolls had King Peppy succeed in rescuing all the Trolls from Bergen Town in the prologue, triumphantly chanting "no Troll left behind" all the way. Trolls Band Together changes it so that a significant number of Trolls did get left behind, including King Peppy's older daughter, but he simply refused to mentioned it (his chant of "no Troll left behind" was him Believing Their Own Lies) and everyone who got rescued apparently just collectively forgot some people went missing in the escape.

    Films — Live-Action 

Specific Pages:


  • At the end of Back to the Future, during the final scene which was originally just meant to be a humorous And the Adventure Continues, Marty asks Doc if he and Jennifer become assholes in the future. Doc immediately and earnestly responds, "No no no no no, Marty, both you and Jennifer turn out fine. It's your kids, Marty, something has got to be done about your kids." At the time, there was no indication that he wasn't telling the truth. However, when Back to the Future Part II came around and they had to follow up on the ending of the first film, this time during the opening scene (which was the ending scene from the previous film that had to be reshot to accommodate Jennifer's actor change) when Marty asks the question, Doc hesitates for a moment, before hurriedly saying the same line from the original scene. This serves as Foreshadowing as the film reveals that Marty would end up in a car accident that forced him to give up his music career (with the third film revealing that this accident happened the very next day), and he ended up a Future Loser who got fired from his job after being goaded into participating in illegal activity, never got over his Fatal Flaw of overreacting to being called a chicken, and whom Jennifer only married out of pity and is otherwise unhappy in marriage. Thus the context of Doc's line is changed to him contemplating telling Marty the Awful Truth, before deciding against it.
  • An interesting example occurs in the film version of The Bourne Ultimatum: At the end of The Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne calls CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy, who reveals his real name, birthdate, and birthplace, before they arrange a meeting elsewhere in the city. This exact same scene occurs in the middle of Ultimatum, after we learn how she came across this information, before we learn that 1) the meeting was a diversion so Bourne could break into the CIA's headquarters and steal the documents he needed, and 2) the "birthdate" she gave him was actually a code for the address of the CIA facility in which Bourne was trained.
  • The Conjuring Universe: Annabelle heavily implies that the Higgins' daughter is their biological child, or that they adopted her when she was a baby, due to Mr. Higgins agreeing that children are a blessing before adding "And then they learn to talk." In the final scene of Annabelle: Creation, the Higgins adopt Janice when she's an adolescent. However, it's possible that Mr. Higgins is only joking, or that the Higgins have an older biological or adopted child.
  • In the Critters franchise the Crites were a species of genderless aliens who reproduced asexually. Critters Attack! however, introduces female Crites known as queens; they are white with black stripes and have visible eyelashes.
  • Doctor at Large carries on from where Doctor in the House (1954) left off with no mention of the events of Doctor at Sea.
  • In The Fast and the Furious series, Leticia "Letty" Ortiz dies in a car crash in Fast & Furious, but is revealed to have lived in Fast & Furious 6.
  • As stated in the page quote, it isn't just the Highlander series that had a lot of retcons between it in the film, even most of the Highlander films had retcons between them. The sequels and series did away with the idea that the duel between Connor and the Kurgan was the final game-ending duel between the Immortals, with Connor claiming the prize, and instead made the duel one of many, with many Immortals still out there. With the game still ongoing. Duncan was introduced in the series to fight more Immortals. Highlander II: The Quickening retcons the Immortals as beings from the planet Zeist, set in the future, with Ramirez coming Back from the Dead and Brenda dying. These events become Canon Discontinuity. Highlander III: The Sorcerer establishes the game can continue if an Immortal ends up trapped in a cave, and Brenda dies in a car accident. Highlander: Endgame attempts to go with the series continuity by establishing the game is still ongoing due to the existence of more Immortals, so the game doesn't need to be bypassed by hiding in a cave. Brenda didn't die from a car accident, but was run over by the Big Bad Kell, and Duncan's ex-wife Faith is introduced, though he claims in the series to have never been married. Connor has been hibernating for ten years, though the series establishes Connor and Duncan had met during that time. Connor does not live to see the future shown in Highlander II: The Quickening. Highlander: The Source establishes the existence of an even older Immortal than Methos, who was established in the series to be the oldest Immortal.
  • The Indiana Jones series has subtle examples arising from the fact that the second film takes place earlier than the first:
    • In the now-iconic "shooting the swordsman" scene from Raiders, the common assumption is that Indy acts on the spur of the moment, without ever having anticipated what he would do. But in Temple of Doom, there's a scene that seems like a direct shout-out to the Raiders scene, in which a pair of swordsmen approach Indy, wave their swords around in a very similar manner to the fighter from Raiders, and then Indy reaches for his holster only to realize it's empty. Since the movie is set a year before Raiders, the implication is that this sort of situation is familiar to him and may have even happened before.
    • Early in Raiders while talking to Marcus, Indy pooh-poohs belief in the supernatural. At the end of the film, Indy sees directly the power of the ark. If Raiders were merely a standalone film we'd have every reason to believe Indy began the story as a skeptic and became a believer by the end. But in Temple of Doom he had another encounter with the supernatural and clearly accepted it, suggesting Indy was lying in his conversation with Marcus from Raiders. One possible explanation is that he thought no one would believe him and didn't want to be viewed as a flake, but that probably wasn't the point of the scene when Raiders was originally written.
  • In the James Bond movies, the female M played by Judi Dench was introduced in GoldenEye as being new to the job, replacing the male M from the previous films. Dench proved so popular with viewers that she was brought back for Casino Royale (2006) despite being a reboot taking place in Bond's early days, suddenly making her his first boss. When she dies at the end of Skyfall, her replacement is implied to be the same M from the old films, making him the new boss.
  • Jurassic Park: The earlier films present the dinosaurs as simply being one-to-one with real animals or otherwise don't imply any intentional physical modifications, because (with a few exceptions) the depictions were reasonably accurate for their time. Starting with the third movie, the rapid pace of palaeontology made the franchise's depictions of many dinosaur species outdated, but rather than heavily modify the designs, the dinosaurs in the films were instead said to be genetic engineered "theme park monsters" intentionally made to be cool rather than realistic, a Hand Wave that allowed the franchise to keep using outdated depictions or even made-up traits.
  • The Reveal towards the end of Lethal Weapon 2 that the death of Riggs' wife was no accident but rather a botched attempt by the villains to kill Riggs himself back when he was with Narcotics working at Long Beach.
  • Madeline, apropos of nothing and in complete contradiction of the books the movie is ostensibly adapting, depicts Madeline as an orphan. Episodes of the Animated Adaptation made after the movie make this change as well.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Early installments in the series went the Clarke's Third Law route with any magic encountered. This was especially noticeable in the early Thor installments that firmly established the Asgardians as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. However, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) indulged in much softer sci-fi and some magic with the Infinity Stones. Avengers: Age of Ultron flirts with a little bit Clarke's Third Law again, but Doctor Strange firmly and explicitly establishes magic to the setting (and outright refutes Clark's Third Law). Thor: Ragnarok retconned previous elements from the franchise to be explicitly magical and started calling the Asgardians gods.
    • Avengers: Infinity War contradicts some of what we knew before about Thanos and his forces. For example, the Sanctuary II (Thanos's ship) was only introduced during The Stinger of Thor: Ragnarok. It is presented as if it was always Thanos's home base with his throne in a room aboard it decorated with slabs of rock, ignoring Sanctuary where his throne was just floating out in the middle of space on some asteroids. Additionally, there are new members of the Black Order not seen or mentioned before but treated as integral to Thanos's forces. This becomes even more evident in Avengers: Endgame when both of these show up in 2014, prior to Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Originally, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff got their powers from Baron Strucker experimenting on them with the Mind Stone, since Disney didn't have the rights to the X-Men at the time. WandaVision instead establishes that Wanda has always had powers, and the Mind Stone merely unlocked her full potential. Her powers are also changed from being psychic to being magic. Where Pietro got his powers from in the new explanation is a bit iffy. The details of their backstory are also shuffled around a lot, changed from the Stark missile landing while they were having dinner and pinning them under debris to it landing while they were watching TV and them hiding under the bed.
  • Discussed Trope in Misery, where Annie refuses to accept the first draft of Paul's new Misery novel because it contradicts known facts — and as his "#1 fan" she knows the books better than he does.
  • MonsterVerse: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) ends on the heavy note that Godzilla and the awakened Kaiju are now going to co-habit the planet with humanity after King Ghidorah awakened the other monsters, terraforming the ecosystems that mankind have damaged, and it's heavily implied that the Hollow Earth is now accepted as fact by the scientific community after Monarch briefly follow Godzilla into it during the film. Godzilla vs. Kong and its prequels seem intent on sweeping the former under the carpet, changing the ending so that Godzilla sent all the Kaiju back into hibernation, and the Hollow Earth for some reason is once more treated by the masses like an unsubstantiated myth (not only that, but the characters outright state that no-one has ever managed to travel into the Hollow Earth before, which completely contradicts the previous film's events).
  • The Omen:
    • The Omen (1976) is clearly set around its release in 1976, as evidenced by the fashions and vehicles. The third film in the series, Omen III: The Final Conflict, explicitly took place in 1982 and 26 years after the original, retroactively pushing the first movie's events back to 1956 (and those of the first sequel, Damien: Omen II, to 1963).
    • The First Omen, in addition to apparently reversing the aforementioned retcon by having it be set in the 1970s, as the first film implied, introduces some retcons of its own:
      • The first movie unequivocally establishes Damian's biological mother as a common jackal, yet this prequel's plot twist is that his mother was a human and a jackal-looking demon was the (biological) father.
      • Additionally, it introduces a twin sister character, a concept completely absent from the first film.
      • Crossing over with Spared by the Adaptation: the first movie says Damian's mother died in childbirth, but Margaret survives.
  • Orphan: First Kill: The second film contradicts Leena's cut backstory from the first. Her jump from institutionalization to posing as an orphaned child now doesn't involve being arrested in a pedophilic sex work ring. She escaped the Saarne Institute, claimed to be an American family's missing child to flee Estonia, the family all died due to circumstances she was not entirely responsible for, and she was taken to the orphanage by the police. There's also an implication that she began killing her foster mothers and foster siblings then trying to seduce her foster fathers because of her experience with the Albrights.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl features Jack's compass that doesn't point north. This is used to locate Isla de Muerta. The original intent was that the compass leads to the island, but the line of dialogue establishing this was cut from the finished movie. When the sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest came along, the writers were able to take advantage of this and instead established that the compass didn't point to Isla de Muerta, but to what the compass' user wanted most. This reframes the compass' use in the first film, as it retroactively means that when Jack was using the compass to travel to Isla de Muerta, it wasn't pointing to the island itself, but to the Black Pearl en route, which was what Jack wanted most.
  • In the 1995 miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Wickham says "There's one lady I shall be very loath to part from," while looking meaningfully at Lizzie, shortly before he leaves for Brighton. After he elopes, we see this line again in a flashback, followed by a meaningful look at Lydia, which definitely was not there the first time.
  • In the American remake of The Ring, Samara was a biological child of the Morgans (at least Anna),note  yet they claimed she was adopted, possibly to hide her supernatural origin. In The Ring Two, she got a new set of parents, making the Morgans her adoptive ones, and in Rings, her biological father was replaced again.
  • Zigzagged in the Rocky movies on at least two occasions.
    • At the end of Rocky, as the final bell rings, Apollo Creed tells Rocky that he has no desire for a rematch. Cut to the beginning of Rocky II (which takes place that same night and even showed the ending of the first film in the beginning, complete with the line about no rematches), and Apollo is so desperate for a rematch that he tries to get Rocky to fight him in the middle of the ER they were taken to for treatment. Unlike some examples, Rocky lampshades the fact that Apollo apparently changed his mind quickly but he never gets an explanation.
    • After the events of Rocky IV, Word of God indicated that Drago was disgraced, and he ultimately committed suicide, but it was never confirmed during the events of the subsequent movies. In Creed II, it is revealed that Drago is very much alive, and he has been training his son to become a fighter, but it was also revealed that he was disgraced due to losing against Rocky.
  • Snow White & the Huntsman has Finn describe Sara's death to Eric, strongly implying that he killed her personally. The Huntsman: Winter's War not only retcons the manner of Sara's death, but it instead reveals that Eric only believed her to be dead. Finn is also completely absent in the prologue of the second movie, which retcons Ravenna into having a younger sister Freya who wasn't mentioned in the first film.
  • Few remember when Kyle Reece told Sarah Connor that "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves?", in the first The Terminator movie. Apparently, that was the most important thing in the message he was supposed to deliver to her from John Connor in the future, so the second film makes sure to make the viewer remember he said it, as this idea is a big part of the plot of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class set in 1962 shows a brief clip of Storm as a little girl with her hair already white. X-Men: Apocalypse is set twenty-one years later and shows her with black hair that only turns white when Apocalypse empowers her. Unless she had been dyeing it black and Apocalypse just made her natural hair come through.
    • Also at the end of First Class, Charles wipes Moira's memories - and her dialogue implies that she remembers everything up until Shaw attacked the CIA. Apocalypse retcons this into never remembering Charles at all.
    • With Peter Dinklage being cast as Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the character played by Bill Duke in X-Men: The Last Stand is retconned into being 'Secretary Trask'.
  • Flint Marko's entire role in Spider-Man 3. In fact, when Captain Stacey addresses Peter Parker and Aunt May in the police station, he could virtually be the chief spokesperson of retcons in their purest form: "Initially, we thought this man, Dennis Carradine (the thief from the first film) was your husband's killer... we were wrong. As it turns out, Mr. Carradine was only an accomplice - the actual killer is still at large." Stacey slides Marko's mug shot across the table to Aunt May. "This is the man who killed your husband." To take the retcon even further, Peter's mind reels in sorrow via flashback where Marko shoots Uncle Ben in cold blood, complete with a hateful glare... however, the end makes it clear this is only what Peter thinks happened, as Marko delivers a heavy confession in a Once More, with Clarity flashback that the money Carradine robbed was never meant for him in the first place, but rather emergency money to help Penny, Flint's dying daughter. Carradine yanks Marko's arm as he runs back, causing him to fire an accidental shot at Uncle Ben he did not deliberately intend.

  • Remember when Rolling Stone declared Pink Floyd's album Wish You Were Here (1975) to be "actually nothing more than the skillful manipulation of elements so simple — the basic three chords everyone else uses — that any collection of bar hacks could grind out a note-for-note reproduction without difficulty"? Well, neither do they, considering they now declare it one of the greatest albums of all time.
  • This is what Roger Waters attempted to do regarding the history of Pink Floyd and particularly the intellectual ownership of albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon, to the point of re-recording it titled as his own solo work - as he claims that he was and always has been the only real author. The other members of the band have always been royally pissed off by his attitude, David Gilmour above all.
  • Several artists often retcon their first self-released album into a demo when they sign for a label and publish new material, sometimes this happens also when they go from a very obscure underground indie label to a bigger one that promotes and markets them worldwide.
    • Music/Slipknot official first album is the eponymous debut of 1998 for Roadrunner Records, but they had actually previously released Mate Feed Kill Repeat in 1996.
    • Music/Evanescence recorded their first album Origin in 2000 and distributed it with the indiependent label Big Wig Enterprises, limited to 2500 copies for contractual reasons when they later signed for Wind Up Records. When they released Fallen in 2003 to millions of sellings, Origin was retconned into a demo, and Fallen was marketed as their first official album.
  • Due to legal reasons, bands can change their name. Their previous releases are usually updated when they are marketed again.
    • This happened to Italian power metal band Rhapsody of Fire who previously was known simply as Rhapsody.
    • Norwegian metal act The Kovenant was forced to change its name from Covenant (with the C and not the K) by the Swedish synth pop duo Covenant.
    • Brazilian songwriter Jorge Ben Jor changed his name from Jorge Ben out of fear that his royalties were mistakenly sent to George Benson.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Before the establishment of canon texts, most religions were retconned continuously throughout their existence. Ancient Egypt had three creator gods: Amun, Ra (later combined as Amun-Ra) and Ptah. Dionysus started out as a god of death, resurrection and primal chaos, but after disappearing from the pantheon for a while, came back as the happy drunkard we know today.
  • The practice of religious syncretism — the merging of two or more religious traditions — generally results in this, with older myths, texts and stories getting their context changed to make them compatible.
  • In the Catholic Church, a couple whose marriage is broken beyond repair may request an annulment. (In some places, this also counts as a civil divorce, but in most jurisdictions today, a church annulment and a civil divorce or civil annulment are two completely separate things.) This isn't so much a divorce, however, as a retcon. Essentially, it states that the marriage failed to meet at least one of the requirements for that marriage to be valid. (Namely, free and informed consent, full and permanent commitment to the marriage, and openness to children note ) Because the marriage was not (in the eyes of the church) valid, an annulment declares that the marriage never actually took place. This step is necessary for a Catholic who is divorced and wishes to remarry in the church; without this step, they are still considered married (in the eyes of the Church) to their first spouse, and they will be denied the right to marry in the church. (They can, however, still have a civil wedding ceremony, or a nondenominational religious ceremony, or marry in another faith. However, unless and until they get their first marriage annuled, they cannot receive Communion.)
  • Modern scholars suspect that the Book of Ecclesiastes contains a major Retcon of itself. For the first eleven chapters, the poem seems to exemplify a Greek stoic philosophy — possibly even a Buddhist one — wherein the poet describes human existence as ultimately meaningless, in an uncaring world that revolves regardless of the machinations and morality of men. In this light, it extolls the importance of wisdom above all else. Then suddenly at the very end, Ecclesiastes' entire tone shifts to suddenly praise God and advocate His worship. Biblical academics tend to see this epilogue as having been tacked onto the text by someone (possibly even the poet himself) who wanted the poem to pass as an orthodox religious text.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • Due to its inherent nature, professional wrestling is full of retcons. This is especially true for angles (storylines) that flop or otherwise fail to resonate with the audience. In the years before the word gained negative political connotations, the terms "abort" and "abortion" were used in carny language to reference a suddenly-ended failed angle.
  • The NWA retconned The Fabulous Moolah's first women's title run, so the WWF retconned all of Fabulous Moolah's title losses, for 26 years anyway.
  • The NWA and Ring Warriors retconned Kacee Carlisle's forced defense of the NWA women's championship belt into a her getting an inexplicable shot at La Rosa Negra's Battling Bombshells belt.
  • TNA did an extended storyline where Sting turned heel after Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came on board. Hogan was clearly acting as a face, while it was hinted Bischoff might be working behind his back. However, Sting was a heel and was attacking faces. He made some vague comments about people not understanding, but he was a heel. Lo and behold, Hogan & Bischoff cheat TNA president Dixie Carter out of controlling interest in the company. As a result, Hogan and Sting's heel/face alignments are retroactively reversed.
  • Edge and Christian were initially portrayed as brothers but were later referred to as childhood friends (which they were in Real Life—they were born within a few months of one another, and raised in the same Ontario town).
  • Kane's (kayfabe) marriage to Lita was retconned due to the whole Matt Hardy/Lita/Edge triangle storyline/debacle. However, it was later reversed because Matt's been released for several years and blackballed from the company. Also, the backstory of Kane being a severe burn victim was retconned after his unmasking in 2003. After a horribly failed attempt at making Glenn Jacobs' face look burnt, they did away with it and acknowledged that Kane was not actually scarred, but was instead suffering from something akin to Body Dysmorphic Disorder, believing himself to be disfigured even though he wasn't.
  • When Kelly Kelly lost her Divas' Championship to Beth Phoenix in 2011, she was defeated by Beth in a match on Smackdown that was announced as a non-title match (and no title graphics were shown). However when the results went up on, it was suddenly retconned into being Kelly's title rematch - and Eve Torres was pushed instead.
  • Kamala made his WWF debut in 1984 managed by "Classy" Freddie Blassie, and they appeared together on "Piper's Pit" on the August 25th (taped July 30) episode of WWF Championship Wrestling. During his second run, in 1986, he, the Wizard (King Curtis Iaukea) and Kim Chee (Steve "The Brooklyn Brawler" Lombardi) appeared on Piper's Pit on the November 22 (taped October 28) WWF Superstars, and Piper had to act like he had never seen him before. But then, every time Kamala returned it seemed like his previous runs with the company were forgotten.

  • Not altogether uncommon in Survival of the Fittest.
    • From the V3 Pregame to the start of the game itself, Sean O'Cann went from a narcissistic, arrogant Jerk Jock with hints of homosexuality to a friendly, compassionate, fairly sensitive guy. This change seems to rely on the assumption that a couple of pregame topics (which featured Sean acting like a Jerkass) never happened.
    • Bobby Jacks' full name. It transpires on the 7th day of the game that his name is actually Robert, with Bobby being a nickname. No reference of this being the case had been made before this point, although some people assumed that his name was Robert prior to that, but it's never mentioned, and his profile doesn't even note it.
    • Finally, the setting itself was retconned, changed from being set in the Battle Royale universe to its own original continuity and setting.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In both Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, whenever fluff from one army's codex contradicts that of another, it's stated to be the work of propaganda. This is because until later on an army can probably expect to see an update to their book every 2-3 years, and several had not seen an update for up to a decade (Dark Eldar was most infamous for this prior to their update), so there are expected to be massive gaps in the lore that don't match up. This also allows the author of each book to play up the badassery of the unit's Bestiary entry without much complain about Gameplay and Story Segregation, as the Bestiary entry is supposed to play up their badassery even if it's not true.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has undergone quite a few of these through its four editions, including entire races being retconned out. Anyone younger than 20 (as of the time of writing, more like anyone born after 1995) remember the Squats? Didn't think so. The official policy on the Squats now appears to be that the entire race was murderlised by one of the Tyranid Hive Fleets. The Tyranids are God's gift to retconners. "Hey, what happened to those guys?" "Eaten by Tyranids." And then Ret Conception kicked in with the game's 6th edition, which brought the Squats back as a race of abhumans tolerated by the Imperium.
  • The Fimirs of Warhammer.
    • Originally created to be the "iconic monsters" of the Warhammer world, they are now remembered only by people who played Hero Quest early in the nineties. Their reproductive cycle revolved around capturing human slaves for brides, which probably made for some thorny conversations with the parents of younger gamers. They made a return in 2012 as part of Forge World's Monstrous Arcanum release though, albeit with some more family-friendly lore.
    • Retconning happens at a minor level when most new editions of the army books are released, introducing new units and troop types into armies whose backgrounds have never included them before. Often these newcomers will be woven into the history of the faction in question to make it seem like they've been there all along. Or, as a direct rewrite, to fix continuity errors. For example, in his first appearance in the Warriors of Chaos book, the Dragon Ogre Shaggoth Kholek Suneater was supposed to have been imprisoned in a glacier 700 years before the present by Teclis, the greatest wizard of the modern era. Since Teclis was actually born several hundred years after this date, the new version has changed it to "the greatest High Elf Mages of the day".
    • Overall, there game's lore went through quite a number of retcons. Among the most interesting/important:
      • Skaven officially was a Chaos race with a lot of Chaos cults in Empire or Brettonia led by them. Most of Skaven worshipped the Horned Rat, but there was, for exemple, a formerly-Skaven Demon Prince of Chaos Undivided.
      • Morkar (the first Everchosen) was originally defeated by Aenarion the Defender (who killed him with a single hit). In the current lore he was defeated by Sigmar.
      • Speaking of Sigmar - he once was just an ordinary guy who befriended Dwarfs, united the tribes the eventually became the Empire and fought some Greenskins. And that's it.
      • The first invasion of Chaos was originally a colossal war between High Elves on one side and united hordes of Daemons, Beastmen and Chaos-worshipping humans on the other. Lizarmen were soundly crushed by Chaos and would be annihilated without HE protection, as would be Dwarfs (who were rather primitive at the time). Later editions changed that to Elves fighting mostly Daemons while Lizardmen and Dwarfs holding against Chaos on their own.
    • Warhammer: The End Times earned a lot of ill will from the fanbase by doing this repeatedly, often in ways that didn't mesh harmoniously with the setting as previously established. For example, in lore written prior to the End Times, Malekith was found unworthy to be Phoenix King by the Flame of Asuryan, which burned him horribly. Some lore, including the Sundering novels, even went into detail on why he would be found unworthy - for example, the part where he conspired to undermine the former Phoenix King for years, then murdered him, then started a fight at the election to determine the new Phoenix King because the other lords weren't falling in line fast enough. Then, in the End Times, it suddenly turned out that he was actually Asuryan's choice all along, and the bit where he was only near the Flame to begin with because he murdered the last guy to have the job he wanted was quietly ignored.
      • Before The End Times there was Storm of Chaos, which ran on a very similar premise - The armies of Chaos led by Archaon the Everchosen were overwhelming the world and every faction had to respond, but this time the outcome of the event was to be determined by battles fought by the players and submitted to Games Workshop. This did not go as planned - Owing to a number of circumstances players of Chaos armies proceeded to get massacred by nearly every other faction. GW so badly wanted Chaos to win that they later changed the rules, letting the players vote on whether Chaos should win or the faction that had just been defeated in the plot, the orcs, should win. The players overwhelmingly chose the orcs. GW was left in the uncomfortable position of either having Archaon fail spectacularly or pushing on with the plot by completely ignoring the results of the submitted battles. They opted instead for a strange middle ground where they tried to acknowledge the results without letting them dictate the flow of the story. The story that resulted was equal parts Ass Pull, Character Derailment, and Railroading and all of it was eventually exiled from canon by the End Times, which was a much better look at what Storm of Chaos would have been if the players hadn't been given a say.
  • In Exalted, the Sidereal Exalted (who are Fate Ninjas) have a panic button called Avoidance Kata. Its effect? Retcon the whole world so that they made a different choice several minutes ago and are anywhere but here.
    • The introduction of the Liminal Exalted is this out of universe. Word of God says they've been there for a long time, we just didn't notice them.
    Holden Shearer: They're very rare, they live in the cracks of the setting and perform their feats in dark times people strive to forget. But they're not new, as the GSPs are new; thus, 'they were always there.'
    • Several of the other new Exalted introduced in 3e also get retconned into Creation's history along with the Liminals, such as the Exigents and the Spoken.
    • 3e also significantly rewrites the map of Creation, expanding its overall area, adding many new places, and shrinking some established places that covered entirely too much space.
    • The Green Sun Princes get a significant rewrite in 3e. Their 2e incarnation featured, among other things, each GSP using the actual Charms of two of their Yozi patrons, which required that they gained the requisite level of Essence before purchasing new Charms, meaning that covering the necessary core Exalted competencies for all GSPs, even when just limited to the Reclamation Yozis, needed a very large Charmset; the ability to 'hack' the Charms to become Primordials in their own right; Castes that took their names from the Houses of Demon: The Fallen; and notorious elements like the phylactery-womb and the initiatory gangbang by Third Circle Demons. In 3e, their Charms are instead influenced by their patrons, like the other Exalted, and require both a degree of skill in an Ability and a certain level of Essence to learn, resulting in a Charmset all GSPs have access to which can cover the core competencies in a much smaller space, and has Charms emulating all of the known Yozis; they can't become Primordials, but can emulate their nature (multiple independent souls, generating a world from their central soul, etc.); their Castes mainly take their names from the horizontal coordinate system (Azimuth, Nadir, etc.); and the phylactery-womb and gangbang have been most definitively dropped.
    • The Lunars' exact role in the setting has been rewritten every edition, from champions of 'barbarian' cultures in 1e to covert social engineers in 2e to the primary resistance against the Realm in 3e.
  • Unknown Armies gives us Entropomancers (chaos mages who get power from taking risks), who are based around re-writing history. Cliomancers, despite being history buffs, can only affect people's PERCEPTION of history, as well as their memories. This still counts as retcon.
  • The "Luck" advantage in GURPS can have the enhancement "Wishing" added to it which allows the person using it to retcon a recent mistake into whatever result they like. The writers have also retconned the weights of melee weapons as including the sheath in order to bring them down to reasonable levels.
  • Wizards of the Coast wielded a +5 Rethammer in the Fourth Edition Forgotten Realms. Virtually the entire elven pantheon was retconned into one or more existing (usually human-ish) gods, along with the vast majority of the other minor gods. The previous planet of Abeir-Toril was changed to two separate worlds. Also gone is the Blood War, a massive near-eternal war between the devils of the Nine Hells and the demons for the Abyss for ultimate badassery.
    • They do give a reason why there is no Blood War. Asmodeus, the lord of the Devils, became a god and took a third option, by kicking the Abyss out of the way so they don't have to fight it.
    • A relatively minor, but still noticeable one was made to the war between the Gods and the Primordials. Originally, the Gods defeated the Primordials and banished them to the Elemental Chaos. It was later "revealed" that a third party, the Primal Spirits, intervened and ordered a truce.
    • Mystra dies. Again. This is the fourth time it happens.
    • The 3rd Edition Realms also featured some sizable retcons, for instance making the Simbul a sorcerer (a new class introduced in that edition). Unlike many other examples of the Realms being altered by new editions, an article in Dragon magazine explained that this wasn't an in-universe change: "She's always been a sorcerer. You just weren't looking closely enough before".
    • 5th Edition acknowledges that most of the changes in 4th edition happened, but reset most of them so that the 5th Edition Realms are the same as they've always been.
  • In the early days of the storyline collectible card game Legend of the Five Rings, a number of card typos brought about story retcons. The most consequential of these was an oni card misprinted with the name of the hero Hida Yakamo. This led to a story point about Yakamo selling the oni his name, heavily influencing his character development and in the end being explained as the general model for oni-human interaction in Rokugan.
  • An actual rule of the universe in Nobilis: if you cause a car to fall apart, reality will insert a history of mechanical failures to explain that.
  • BattleTech usually avoids direct retcons, as almost every publication exists as an actual document within the universe, retcons can be explained as being from atn Unreliable Narrator or meddling from the secretive organization that runs the Subspace Ansible network. However, there a few straight-up retcons:
    • A key point of the setting was that all capacity to build BattleMechs was irrevocably destroyed in a 300 year long war, and that the noble houses were fighting over remaining spare part depots. This was to play up a Mad Max / Scavenger World setting. However, they soon realized that no factories = no new designs to be introduced in followup supplements. Therefore, FASA later said that there were still factories producing new 'Mechs, but that they were degraded and no longer working at full capacity, and that the bleeding-edge tech of the Star League was Lost Technology.
    • When the game first came out in 1984, the majority of the Humongous Mecha used artwork licensed from Japanese anime, mostly Macross. Flash forward to 1994, and the American distributor of Macross sues the bejesus out of FASA. The mechs listed in the suit (most notably, the de-facto Series Mascot Warhammer and Marauder) could no longer be depicted in artwork, and republications of older sourcebooks had to edit them out. However, the mechs still existed In-Universe, unchanged, and newer lawyer-friendly art with altered designs were explicitly different variants. The mechs original designs were retconned in 2015; the original designs are now non-canonical and were replaced with new artwork that was similar to but different enough to be legally not a copyright violation through a series of Recognition Guides that were published in 2020 and 2021.
    • The removal of the so-called Unseen mechs from the original Technical Readout 3025 led to another retcon: in order to fill out the page count, the developers added downgraded versions of the Star League battlemechs that had debuted in Technical Readout 2750. The issue was that the original Technical Readout 2750 had established that all of those mechs had been completely lost with the fall of the Star League and it had been a huge shock to the Inner Sphere when it was revealed that Comstar still had a massive army of the supposedly-extinct mechs that they used to fight the Clans.
    • The first novels depicting the high-tech Clan Invasion were written before the new sourcebooks were released (packed full of recovered/rediscovered Inner Sphere Lost Technology), leading to the protagonists seemingly flabbergasted by Clan technology that the Inner Sphere was already producing. This was later explained that the Clan invasion occurred along a relatively quiet border region where the Star League technology had yet to be deployed and the character who really should have known about the tech already had simply been slacking off when it came to studying. However, this was given a further retcon when later books established that the Inner Sphere had actually begun manufacturing Star League tech a full decade earlier, during the War of '39.
  • Originally Queen Frostine from Candy Land was the mother of Princess Lolly. Queen Frostine is now "Princess Frostine", sister of Princess Lolly.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • MTG has what's known as "The Revision". In the early days, the novels and comics were done by different companies than the card game itself, but when Wizards of the Coast became a bigger company they wanted to publish their own books. Reading the 10 books and the pile of comics so far was apparently too much effort for them though, so they issued a statement that everything that had come before was still valid, unless new stories contradicted them, thus creating what fans call "prerevisionist" and "revisionist" continuity. Several books were actually published that replaced older comics.
    • At the end of the Mirrodin novels, Glissa activates the Soul Traps and sends all of the inhabitants of the plane back to their original homes, leaving only her, Slobad and Geth's head on Mirrodin to act as wardens for the Mirari. When the plane was revisited years later in the Scars of Mirrodin block, this was retconned so that only those who weren't born on Mirrodin were returned to their original planes, and that the "native" Mirrans had been left behind.
    • Wizards also confirmed that the Guilds of Ravnica had dissolved, shortly before Return to Ravnica was announced and it turned out that they were still going strong.

  • In a strange retcon of the events of The Trojan War, some poets contend that Helen never actually went to Troy and that Paris instead was tricked into abducting an illusion of her (don't ask). In another retcon, Helen is carried off by Paris but ends up being stranded in Egypt. Euripides reconciles these two variations in his play Helen. He also rewrote Trojan War history with his Iphigenia plays, crafting a scenario in which she survives the efforts to sacrifice her to the gods and has various misadventures while her father is off to war.

  • The original G.I. Joe figure was unnamed until both the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero mail-in toy and the comic established General Joe Colton as the original G.I. Joe.
  • The Transformers franchise has a few:
    • The original cartoon presented the Transformers origin as being created by a squid-robotic race called the Quintessons as slave labor. Most later incarnations, including G1 versions, have ignored that origin story in favor of the Primus-God version. Although it could be argued one does not preclude the other...
    • The original cartoon had Unicron originally constructed by a being called Primacron. Every version since has used the origin that Unicron and Primus were warring brothers and Unicron being the Transformers equivalent of the Devil.
    • Hasbro had earlier stated that the Transformers Aligned Universe isn't part of the larger Transformers multiverse. Between Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (which involves the titular artifact going from the Aligned universe to the universe of the movies and a Generation One universe), the Ask Vector Prime column (which confirmed the events of Dark Spark revealed the existence of the Aligned universe to the larger Multiverse), and The Complete AllSpark Almanac (which also mentioned the Aligned universe), Regeneration One (which has a subplot of Hot Rod seeing all his counterparts, including his Aligned incarnation from the DS version of War for Cybertron), and Andromeda - Axiom Nexus News Reporter, this has since been changed.

      This also put an end to the idea of the original Thirteen being "multiversal singularities" as the Aligned!Thirteen includes very different members including Alpha Trion and Optimus Prime, and "Ask Vector Prime" outright had Vector Prime (who, according to "multiversal singularity" rule, meant that every bot with the name "Vector Prime" would, for all intents and purposes, be the same bot from Transformers: Cybertron) stating that his Aligned counterpart is a distinctly separate entity. Hasbro ultimately pulled a Cosmic Retcon and put the multiversal singularities concept down for all the Thirteen, as well as Unicron and Primus themselves, making the one in each universe their own entities.
    • Effectively, by changing the Beast Wars toyline to be in-line the cartoon, the events don't take place on present day Earth, and Optimus Primal and Beast!Megatron aren't the same characters as their G1 namesakes but instead, are Legacy Characters.
  • Happens a lot in Sylvanian Families, especially when families get discontinued which leads to their disappearance from the village and an existing family taking over their job (often dumping their old job point blank), or a new family just appears out of nowhere and takes over, and everyone acts like they've known each other forever.
    • Also, sometimes when new characters are introduced, the standing of previous characters may get Retconned, as in the case of Rebecca Periwinkle, who in 2018 was suddenly revealed to have an older sister named Catherine. It was mentioned several times previously in various extended materials that Rebecca is the oldest of the Periwinkle siblings.
  • BIONICLE offers numerous examples as it was LEGO's first major self-made IP, which involved a lot of experimentation. However, many of the franchise's biggest twists were actually planned ahead for and thus don't count as retcons.
    • The Matoran islanders were originally called Tohunga. After LEGO learned they couldn't legally use that term, they explained that the Tohunga came together as one race and renamed themselves Matoran as a symbol of unity. This renaming was abandoned the moment it was introduced, and LEGO pretended the name Tohunga never existed because they were legally forbidden from ever acknowledging it. The islanders were retconned into always having been named Matoran.
    • The substance called protodermis was first introduced as a rare material that living beings were made out of. Matoran villagers would mine it. Falling into its liquid form had the ability to transform characters into more powerful forms, which is how the Toa became the Toa Nuva. Later, it was explained that everything in the "Matoran Universe" was made out of protodermis, and the special transforming version was re-branded as Energized Protodermis.
    • The Toa defeated their evil Shadow Toa counterparts via Opponent Switch, each using their advantage over someone else's clone to reduce them to particles. Since this wasn't the original plan for the scene, it was later rewritten, with the Toa accepting that darkness was a part of them and absorbing the Shadow Toa into their own bodies.
    • The whole idea of the Three Virtues (Unity, Duty, Destiny) that came to define the franchise and became the "Symbol of Bionicle", were only introduced in 2003, the series' third year. Despite how ubiquitous they became, with almost every positive character devoutly following this trio of concepts in this specific order, nobody in the preceding two years mentioned that there were "Three Virtues" of special importance. When things like unity, duty or destiny were brought up, it was only in a general sense rather than as a core mantra. Yet they were later retroactively inserted into both the '01 and '02 stories via later books.
    • Due to legal reasons related to their names, the bird species Kahu and Kewa (or Goko-Kahu) were retconned out of the story and replaced with the different looking Gukko birds. Years later, after the legal matters had been settled, Kahu and Kewa were placed back into the franchise, this time retconned into being Gukko sub-species, so in a way one might say all three bird types have always been there.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night and its associated franchise have had a number of retcons, thanks in part due to the series' nebulous and infamously complicated magical system. Retcons can easily be explained away by saying the character who delivered exposition earlier just wasn't knowledgeable enough about how magic really works.
    • In the original visual novel, it was claimed that the only Assassin-class Servants that could be summoned were members of the Hashashin, and that Sasaki Kojiro was a unique exception due to Caster mucking with the Grail War's spells. Later entries in the series have completely ignored this rule, with Assassins being as diverse as any other class.
    • Staying with Sasaki Kojiro for a moment, it was claimed that he was a "fake Servant" because he never truly existed, and was only the incarnation of a legend. Later stories have introduced huge swathes of Servants who "never existed" and are only legends embodied, with no implication that they are "lesser" than other Servants.
    • Originally it was claimed that Magic Crests could only be transferred between family members, due to compatible genetics. This rule has been relaxed later on, with the setting now saying that that is normally true, but two people unrelated by blood may still be "compatible" and able to transfer a Crest between them, with several cases of this happening throughout the franchise.
    • At first, the writers said that Fate/stay night and Tsukihime took place in the same universe. This was supported by background characters such as the Aozaki sisters and Zelretch being mentioned in both franchises. However, later Nasu made a declaration that the two are in wholly different timelines, and that it is impossible for Servants to be summoned in Tsukihime, while it's likewise impossible for the Dead Apostle Ancestors to exist in Fate/Stay Night. On the other hand, this does make Arcueid's appearance in Fate/EXTRA something of a Plot Hole, and Nasu has floated the idea of a Tsukihime crossover with Fate/Grand Order.
  • At the end of Sakura Beach, Seiji shares a kiss with both Ayumi and Momoko, implying he won't be so utterly dense around them, yet in Sakura Beach 2, not only is Seiji still as dense, but he repeatedly says that he never kissed either of them before.

    Web Animation 
  • Lampshaded in Unforgotten Realms where in one episode, Garry got his original body back (in a way that doesn't make sense), and jumps off a cliff. Two episodes later, Roamin talks about how the show does not make sense, and Garry reappears in his new body.
  • In season 1 episode 5 of Helluva Boss, Moxie originally says that he grew up in the Wrath ring, but in season 2 episode 3 we find out that Moxie was born in the Wrath ring and raised in the Greed ring. Nevermind the fact that in the former episode, it was implied that Moxie met and got together with Millie in Wrath before working with Blitzo.

  • In the Homestar Runner toon "email thunder", it turns out that Homestar has had his own email-answering program for a while now. Much of the time when Homestar appeared incompetent or insane was merely part of his show. Not only that, but his show is actually more popular than Strong Bad's. This is expanded upon in "Hremail 7", where it's suggested that Strong Bad first got the idea for his show from Homestar and then forgot about it. Also, he got his first computer from Homestar's trash, and his first email was actually sent by a friend of The Cheat's.
    • In "kind of cool", Strong Sad says that Senor Cardgage lived near the Brothers Strong when they were little. Later toons suggest that Cardgage still does live near the Strongs.
  • Benthelooney is a prominent abuser of this since his rants were Un-Canceled. From the original dubs to the first half of the "Revival Era", he was fairly consistent for the most part with his opinions and stuck with them. But in the middle of 2012 to this day, he started retconning his original opinions on subjects that were mostly well-established later on (Pixar, Adventure Time, and Regular Show).

  • Discussed in an "Ammika Explains" segment of APT Comic.
  • In The B-Movie Comic, Professor Dr. was never actually a hunchback.
  • BACK: The Society of Clocks tell Abigail and Daniel that their informant is a man named Nook. When the audience finally meets the informant, she's a woman named Knook.
  • Bob and George:
    • Why make it a plan!
    • Retconning earlier plot holes (usually via time travel) is one of this comic's defining aspects.
  • Several characters in Ctrl+Alt+Del were retconned, even having their bios deleted on the site. Though at first it looks like they were just Put on a Bus or Brother Chucked, if you mention any of these characters on the forum, the creator, Tim Buckley, will ban you for life.
  • Lampshaded in this Darths & Droids.
  • Daughter of the Lilies got a minor one regarding the similiarites of the names Rose and Rosemary, as well as changing the design of cave elves to be less drow-esque and include more monstrous features.
  • Drowtales went through this once. Now the first episode has been redone the second time. While the new pages are much better quality-wise, and some of the plot make a lot more sense, many elements were removed, characters have been changed, and episodes were cut down to mere sketches of their former selves. The mysteries the reader was left in the dark about for most of the original stories were also revealed retroactively. The series also became Lighter and Softer in some ways while amplifying some of the darker themes at the same time.
  • El Goonish Shive, has had a lot of retcons and Dan has admitted as much:
    Just look at EGS. You can't throw a rock without hitting a retcon, and several of them do exist as a result of past mistakes.
  • Parodied in an oddly confusing fashion by Evil, Inc.. See the strip here.
  • Erfworld needed to retcon a special ability given to one of the characters in its series. Funnily enough, it actually managed to successfully lampshade this through the ironically-recursive introduction of a school of magic known as retconjuration. (In an even more delicious twist of irony, this school retroactively replaced a school called Deletionism, which was itself deleted.)
  • At least one early page of Far Out There has been specifically retconned. The first appearance of Layla's mother Pattie presented her in a fairly villainous role, but that never sat well with the author. Eventually, he wrote a lengthy voting incentive that not only re-imagined the character to be more sympathetic, but also drastically changes the details of Pattie and Layla's falling out.
  • Girly does this rather jarringly during the final arc. Turns out that Otra is actually the Eldritch Abomination-y Sidekick Queen, and that her life was just a lie fabricated to awaken her latent power. Strips were replaced to support this. Winter and the readers were devastated. PSYCH! Turns out that the Business Sidekick was lying and Otra was simply possessed! And the changed strips? They just made it impossible to disprove the Business Sidekick. Like Josh would actually do THAT to his characters...
  • R.H.Jr's Goblin Hollow had the hell retconned out of it. It was once known as 'Under the Lemon Tree' and the Goblins were originally figments of Ben's imagination made real. It received a retcon changing the setting, and quite a few facts from the original, including how the goblins came to be.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court contains a minor retcon. In the first chapter, Antimony reconstructs a robot from spare parts in order to carry a shadow across a bridge (it was the only logical answer). To many, this implied that she was at least somewhat technologically proficient, as she is able to look at a piece of what we assume to be complex machinery and repair it almost completely. However, as the comic continues, we learn that her best friend Kat is actually the scientist and Antimony is perplexed by machinery if anything. So, how did she rebuild a complicated gizmo like Robot? Well, we learn that all she really did was snap his fully functioning joints together (showing she is at least familiar with the "Head bone's connected to the neck bone" song), and didn't actually need to mess with his hardware to reboot him.
  • In Homestuck, this occurs in-universe: John Egbert gains the power to effectively rewrite the existing narrative without causing any timeline splits, which manifests in a couple of ways when he goes back and muddles with established events:
    • In two instances, he takes action that results in minor details changing, specifically, he stuck his arm through a portal that ended up causing his arm to appear in dozens of other panels of the comic. Likewise, he later disposed of a large amount of oil by dumping it elsewhere in the narrative. Andrew Hussie went through and edited the existing panels (and in some cases, flash animations) to include these changes.
    • Later on, he travels back to earlier events to manually retcon how they initially played out. In order to allow for both the changed versions and the original versions, Hussie created a password system: First time readers can continue reading normally, but people who have reached the point in the story where the retcons occur get passwords that allow them to view the alternate versions of the events.
  • Nikki in The KAMics was told by the author that she was a fictional character without a name, but was later named by a reader, then it was retconned that she was a sister to the ex-Valkyries Gertrude and Brunhilda, and her name had always been Nikki, and she didn't realize this because of amnesia.
  • In an early instalment of The Order of the Stick, when Elan tries to convert them to Banjoism, Vaarsuvius declares that they worship the elven gods. When the number of pantheons became really important to the story and the existing ones were confirmed as the Real Life Norse and Mesopotamian pantheons and Chinese zodiac, Rich Burlew had one character state that the elven gods are part of the Eastern (Mesopotamian) pantheon, essentially having been raised to godhood by them. He later noted in a Q&A that V would never have said that if the idea for the plot had been there from the start.
  • In a 2003 Penny Arcade strip where Tycho volunteers as a Mall Santa at a pet store, Gabe mentions that Tycho hates animals. Years later, we would find out that Tycho loves animals, and is sexually attracted to them.
  • Word of God is that the neighborhood in Precocious is more compact than it used to be, partially so as to let Gemstone Estates and Copper Road interact more.
  • In Questionable Content, Hannelore's backstory has changed considerably since her first appearance, when she would refer to wacky interactions with other kids that her OCD caused her when she was in school. A later arc established that she never actually went to formal school or even interacted with other children, being raised by an AI on her father's space station until she was a young adult.
  • Comic book theme web comic Ret-Conned is named after this.
  • Early in the production of Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc, Servant Chaos was Mistress 9 with a different forehead symbol. She was later retconned to keep Mistress 9's hair, but now wore Princess Saturn's dress. Dialogue was also later changed to make more clear what happened to the time-traveling incarnation of Chibiusa.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In-universe example (that's fictionally not in-universe) in the Mind Screw guest story "The Sluggite Koan": Bun-bun's motivation for going after comic creator Pete Abrams is initially that he sees a Sluggy strip that is Not What It Looks Like (but looks heavily like it) and thinks Zoë has been Killed Off for Real. In the middle of his trip, he rages against his grief for her and declares that he doesn't care about her and, looking at the fourth wall, says "And no guest artist says otherwise if he values his spleen!" From there onwards, he's written as having a different motive.
  • Sonichu. The creator was trolled by people pretending to be Shigeru Miyamoto, who was talking to the creator, Chris, about a game development. When this troll said that would be impossible to make a game based of fanwork, another troll, posing as a lawyer pretending to be Jay-Z, advised Chris to change several aspects of the comic. What followed were so many terrible retcons, there's a whole Wiki about it. Due to her autism, the creator actually believed she was in contact with Shigeru Miyamoto and Jay Z the entire time.
  • Super Effective has done it a few times quietly—editing the comic and uploading a newer version. Changes include renaming Gary to Blue, for example.
  • Weak Hero:
    • In the early chapters, Jack Kang states that he's the one responsible for messing up Ben's arm. When the actual event is shown, about ninety chapters later, this isn't the case at all — Ben's injury was caused by protecting Alex from collapsing debris as a result of Donald Na. Jack was there, but he had very little involvement in the fight.
    • When Teddy is first introduced, Eugene reveals that he beat up a teacher back in middle school. Later on this is tweaked slightly in order to portray the now-reformed Teddy as a little less unhinged; Teddy beat up a student who acted like a teacher and had Sir as a nickname.
  • Xawu retconned a typo that was pointed out on the comments.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, the prologue and chapters 1-3 were retouched prior to being printed in book form, with some of the changes essentially being retcons. These are mostly inconsequential, such as Yokoka and Yfa's home going from an empty room to being furnished with a rug, pillows, and a pile of feathers that Yfa sleeps on.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm has made a number of retcons since it's creation. Femto-tech was removed due to physics problems. The number of people killed by GAIA was retconned a number of times in order to adjust the population numbers.
  • Whateley Universe: Word of God says that the author of the Phase novels only started years after the series started, and reinterpreted everything she didn't like about Phase's behavior in such a way that there were no outward changes (everything in prior stories was 'right' or 'slightly misheard') but all of Phase's actions were explained.~
  • Taerel Setting: Happened many times in the setting's history, such as the lore of the very first version using B.P.D (Before present-day) dates, later redone to XE XXX dates. The names of the clans being retconned from Elder Scrolls stolen names to original names. And as of June 2022, the era numbers being retconned in a timeline revamp.

    Web Videos 
  • Brocéliande is a fan web-series of Kaamelott, which explores some aspects of its season 1, re-framing a few events. Brocéliande episode "Le sort d'oubli" ("The Forgetfulness Spell") not only explains why Arthur found a dead raven at his door in Kaamelott episode "Le Signe", but also why the Knights of the Round Table have so much trouble remembering their fallen comrades in the Kaamelott episode "Spangelhelm".
  • Channel Awesome:
    • An actual plot point in To Boldly Flee in which all continuity errors in the Channel Awesome universe was an effect of the Plot Hole, a physical embodiment of, well, that trope. Specifically called out was The Spoony One and Doctor Insano being the same person in Kickassia, when in all other respects they are separate people.
    • Less forgivable is "The Review Must Go On". Context: To Boldly Flee was meant to be the Critic's swan song, where he spent most of the special locked in depression and only really become happy when he became the Plot Hole. After that, there was a new show called Demo Reel, led by a tragic Former Child Star called Donnie DuPre. Five episodes of that went by, and "The Review Must Go On" suddenly made it out of nowhere that "Critic couldn't comprehend the selfless act he performed" and Donnie's terrible life was just a punishment for him formed by purgatory. To say it was an Ass Pull is an understatement.
  • Critical Role: When Essek Thelyss was first introduced, Matt described him as walking so gracefully in his All-Encompassing Mantle that it looked like he was gliding. The players interpreted this as him actually gliding, despite Matt's multiple attempts to correct them. He seems to have conceded on this point since, as all future appearances describe Essek as hovering a few inches above the ground in a Ghostly Glide; something that he started doing as a Child Prodigy to impress those around him, and has since become an expectation.
  • The Debbie and Carrie Show: Carrie Sims was originally depicted as never having a love interest of anyone before she met Debbie Smith, who would become her girlfriend and then her wife. Then a new character, Angel Micron, was introduced to add drama to Carrie's backstory and Angel revealed that she had stolen Carrie's first boyfriend, Patrick. This put Carrie in the awkward position of having to explain why she had lied to Debbie before about her past; the betrayal of both Angel, her former best friend, and Patrick had caused Carrie to put those two completely out of her mind. Debbie forgave her for the lie and they moved on together. The issues of both Angel and Patrick would continue to be raised in the series in later episodes.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, at the end of the episode "Bardock: Father of Goku", Cooler lets Goku's escape pod get away even though he's close enough to eliminate it. When asked why, he simply says "because I'm a prick". In the movie "Revenge of Cooler", they replayed this scene, except instead Cooler says he won't destroy it because Frieza only owns this section of the universe because he whined to his dad, and its his problem if this comes back to bite him.
  • LG15: the resistance applied a couple of these to lonelygirl15, such as the revelation that Sarah was evil all along or that Jonas is a trait positive male.

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Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ret Conned, Retroactive Continuity


Rhett Caan

Rhett Caan can effectively retcon anything and anyone instantly by merely stating what was retconned.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

Example of:

Main / Retcon

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