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Black Mage: How do you keep doing that?
Sarda: It's a simple "Re-Write Reality According to Your Whim" spell.

If a Retcon is changing the past, and a Cosmic Retcon is an in-universe changing of the past, then Retconjuration is the ability to create a Cosmic Retcon. Possibly a subtrope of Reality Warper, and may or may not involve leaning on or breaking the Fourth Wall, or pressing a literal Reset Button. (Although, depending on the scale of the Retconjuration instance, it may categorically force other in-universe examples of Reality Warper into becoming an in-universe subtrope of Retconjuration itself.)

There are two flavors of this trope, items that allow individuals to change the past (a Time Machine being the Trope Codifier) and individuals who can change the past under their own power. Said individuals may believe themselves to be deities, and depending on the scope of the power, they might not be wrong.

Supertrope to "End of the World" Special (someone gains the power of Retconjuration near the end to change the world). May lead to The Story That Never Was. Compare Peggy Sue. Contrast Ret-Gone.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Another, a class is plagued by a curse kills members of the class and immediate family. This is caused by the presence of an extra, Dead All Along, student. Retconjuration comes into play because it's impossible to identify the "Extra" due to all the students having False Memories of that presence. On top of that, even official paperwork has incorrect information. Identifying the "Extra" can only be done after the school year ends, because everything reverts back to normal at that point.
  • Black Butler: Angels have a variant of this. While they can't change the past on a world-wide scale, they can alter a single person's timeline to erase negative emotions associated with certain events. Since this action is against nature, however, the results are NOT pretty.
  • Doing this is Tsukishima's entire schtick in Bleach. With each cut of his blade, he inserts himself into the target's past, up to the point where they think he's always been in their lives. Are you fighting him? Then he just has to cut you once and he instantly knows all your moves and how to counter them. After all, he taught them to you. Don't you remember? Oh, and if you think you'll be okay if you just avoid getting cut, that won't work either. He can just cut the ground and give himself infinite preptime to set up as many booby traps in the area as he wants, which somehow works even if it would've been physically impossible for him to set those traps (he uses exactly this tactic within a pocket dimension that had just been created the instant the fight began). Creepy.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Narrative reveals that the Unicorn Gundam and psycoframe-equipped mobile suits in general are capable of this, as demonstrated in the final OVA where the Unicorn Gundam disables a dozen mobile suits with a simple hand gesture that reverts the internal components of their engines back into the state they were in prior to being manufactured. This is the reason why the technology is absent from subsequent Universal Century works, as the Federation realized that they can't possibly control it.
  • Madoka uses her wish to do this in the final episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, completely rewriting the Magical Girl system so that no magical girl will become a witch, on this or any world, in this or any time past, present or future — which has the effect of completely destroying and remaking the universe anew. This doesn't come without a cost, however: Madoka essentially erases herself from existence after annihilating Walpurgis Night, since the power she expended during the battle would have otherwise made her a witch.
  • Transformers: Cybertron: In Japan, it wasn't connected to Transformers: Armada and Transformers: Energon. In America it was, and any inconsistencies were explained in a comic book as being the black hole that was the main problem in TFC spreading its effects across reality, causing events to not always match up. This makes it the possible reason for every plot hole in any Transformers work.
  • In Yakitate!! Japan, characters' "reactions" to impossibly delicious bread can actually rewrite history. The most explicit example is during the Monaco Cup finals, Azuma's cannabis Ja-pan allows Pierrot to travel back in time to meet his parents and eventually undo their deaths.

    Comic Books 
  • In Loki: Agent of Asgard, Loki has their magic defined as mucking with the narrative — yes, this means exactly what it sounds like. They can theoretically do anything; in practice, however, they're limited by the Theory of Narrative Causality and various butterfly effects. For example, retconjuring a girl into his uncle's past to create a weakness and defeat him in the present (Fear Itself) creates a woman with very little choice or characterization who is rightfully pissed with him (Everything Burns).
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • Dreamers have the power to reshape reality if enough dream the same thing at once; in the short story A Dream of a Thousand Cats, Morpheus reveals that at one point the world was ruled by cats with humans as their servants and prey, but then a thousand-or-so humans simultaneously dreamed of a world of human dominance, and changed the world so that humans had always been dominant, and the world of cats never existed. A cat prophet attempts to spread the word of this so that cats can dream the world back into its original state, but is implied to be doomed to fail, since even the cats themselves think it would be impossible to get a thousand cats to agree to do anything at the same time.
    • Towards the end of the series, Delirium threatens Mazikeen to try to get in to see Lucifer. Specifically, to make her always have been a half-faced demon waitress with a crush on her boss, leaving no-one but her the wiser, "and no one else will ever know, and it will itch inside your head worse than little buggies." As far as the readers know, she has always been a half faced demon with a crush on her boss. Whether Delirium actually did it is deliberately unclear. But, for what it's worth, Mazikeen didn't let her in.
  • In Secret Empire, Kobik, the Cosmic Cube girl, does this to Captain America. His "new" past has him being a loyal Deep Cover Agent of Hydra, when he was originally nothing of the sort. Kobik does this on behalf of the Red Skull, whom she has latched on to as a friend and father figure.
  • Dr. Eggman in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) has a device called the Genesis Wave, allowing him to rewrite reality to a limited degree when powered by a Chaos Emerald. He not only used it on Mobius twice, but he also used on the Mega Man (Archie Comics) world during its crossover.
  • This is Loki's power in The Ultimates 2. He can shuffle space and time, insert or erase new identities into history and alter perceptions. He's restricted by being detected by Odin if he uses too much power, so he settles for Gaslighting Thor to make him and everyone around think that he's crazy.

    Fan Works 
  • I See What You Do Behind Closed Doors Miraculous Ladybug: The akuma Retropedaler Rue has the ability to erase his victims' greatest regrets, along with their impact. For instance, the plaque on Ms. Bustier's desk changes to display a different name, implying that either her greatest regret is becoming a teacher or that somebody else regrets hiring her. This makes him an exceptionally dangerous foe, as Ladybug recognizes that she could easily be erased from reality should she get hit.
  • In PokÚdex, Stantler are revealed to have potential Reality Warper powers that do a Cosmic Retcon to the world of anyone who sees one, though it is unknown if they are really doing this trope or just altering memories. And Arceus is also capable of this — It turns out that he has been retconning in new regions constantly.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton: This is used as part of a major reveal in The Girl Who Could Knock Out the Hulk. As we learn in Chapter 34, Doctor Doom and the version of Reed Richards allied with him are from the MCU, and turned it into the Kryptonverse by using captured gods as catalysts to have the Celestials retroactively insert all the non-native elements into it as if they were always a part of it, over many iterations, as part of a plan to defeat Thanos before he can get the Infinity Stones without risk to Earth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Next, the lead character is so in tune with his precognitive abilities that he was always doing things as if he was living two minutes ahead naturally. When he would run into something he didn't want to happen, he forces himself into viewing the world in normal time and acts to defy the original vision, making it appear as if he's doing this.
  • Nero does this by accidentally creating an alternate timeline in Star Trek, attacking the Kelvin and setting Starfleet down on a rather more militaristic bent. Also Vulcan is gone.

  • In the Jonathan Lethem novel Amnesia Moon this power is possessed by a number of people, which to some extent includes main character Chaos/Everett Moon. The effect is that as you move across the country, you can be thrown from one reality into another that's completely different.
  • Sean Williams's The Books of the Cataclysm, the Hero twins from the first book gained the power to change the time-line. They discovered that godly Eldritch Abomination, Yod, would destroy reality in every time-line except one. So they forced that time-line onto our timeline of the early 21st century and this would lead into events that take place 4000 years in the future.
  • Discworld yeti can leave a "bookmark" at some moment in time and later snap back to it if they are killed or in other troubles — now knowing what's going to happen and able to avoid it. They died out. Several times.
    • Or, for those who aren't aware of the entirety of time, they most definitely did not go extinct. Ever, and if you thought they did then you're remembering wrong. Again.
  • In The Emperor's Soul, Forging allows a practitioner to change objects by crafting and placing a magical stamp that tells reality that something in the object's history went completely different - for example, a Forger can restore a ruined table by "telling" it that it was carefully maintained, instead. Forging a person's history is also possible, but it requires such intimate, thorough knowledge about that person that only the very best Forgers can even do it to themselves, much less anyone else, and it only lasts a little while.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven: George Orr's "effective dreams" change not only the present but the past as well: people don't realize that the world has changed (and was different in the past).
  • The Mirage has this as a major driving force behind the plot. The novel takes place in a Mirror Universe where the Middle East is a unified democratic entity and the west is a mess of backward christian kingdoms and theocracies. On November 9, 2001, Christian fundamentalists attack the Tigris and Euphrates world trade center towers in Baghdad, sparking a war on terror and the invasion of the Christian States of America. Many years later, when a failed suicide bomber is taken in for questioning, he states that the world is a mirage; that history was changed somehow. An investigation of his apartment turns up a newspaper from September 12, 2001. From our world. It's later revealed this entire Alternate History was the product of a wish made by Saddam Hussein after he captured a Djinn.
  • In The Sun Eater, the Cosmic Entity called the Quiet and its proxy Hadrian Marlowe have the ability to reach into alternate realities and superimpose them on the current one. This has led to the resurrection of Hadrian after getting his head and an arm chopped off (though with alteration, it was his other arm that got chopped off though the original hacked-off arm still remained, so Hadrian had to disposed of his "earlier" arm).
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Balefire is a handy, portable way to do this, essentially burning the affected individual's "thread" out of existence. Not everybody's happy about this happening.
    • Also, there's a Ter'angreal that does it. Uncontrollably. Only the most depraved villains are willing to even go near the thing.
  • In the Young Wizards series there's a spell which overwrites the past of a wizard's universe with a copy of the past from an Alternate Universe. Combined with the portion of the spell which searches for just the right Alternate Universe to copy from, it's a powerful tool for maintaining The Masquerade.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Year of Hell" two-parter in Star Trek: Voyager has the Krenim timeship, with a Ret-Gone cannon the ship itself is insulated from (unless the effect is triggered inside the ship due to damage sustained). The effects are limited to removing things from the timeline, but it can be modified to some things hit by while removing others (this is used for such things like removing a specific species while leaving their planet behind and inhabitable). The captain had spent 200 years desperately trying to undo the damage he inadvertently caused when he first used the ship... by doing pretty much the same thing, but with more careful calculations. In the end it does indeed end up affecting itself, undoing all the damage it caused by the simple expedient of having the creator never finish the design.

  • In the Evillious Chronicles, this trope, referred to as a "Re_Birthday" is a power that beings called "Irregulars" (entities who aren't bound by the world's rules and who usually come into existence via impossible means) hold, with the way it works being described as being through taking the world and all the souls in it and reformatting it. As a rule, Irregulars always come in pairs, one to destroy the world and another to recreate it. An Irregular on his or her own can only destroy.

  • Istus of The Adventure Zone: Balance has this power; when she realizes the gifts she gave to Tres Horny Boys in The Eleventh Hour would disappear after the hour resets, she rewrites history to make it so they had them before they entered Refuge.
  • The "Not-Them" of The Magnus Archives can do this. Once the "Not-Them" Kill and Replace their victims, people's memories and photographic records are magically altered showing them instead of their victims. While a few remnants of the prior person, either in records or memories still remain, given their habit of tormenting those who know that they are impostors, they are clearly doing this on purpose. Magnetic tape manages to consistently escape their powers, though.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Chronomancer 2E Dungeons & Dragons supplement included three progressively stronger versions of this, in the Minor Paradox, Paradox, and Major Paradox chronomancy spells.
  • Forgotten Realms has a spell that is a very limited version of this — Spellstrike. It completely negates all effects of one recent (in the same or previous round) casting of a spell or use of a spell-like ability, as if it just failed.
  • The Sidereal Exalted boast a technique called Avoidance Kata which, when used early in a battle that turns out to have been a bad idea, allows them to have never got involved. Wounds already inflicted stay, but get a new cause- if you used it after the First and Forgotten Lion never has ripped off your arm, for example, you now will have got it caught in a grinding mill or something.
    • They also have a martial arts style that essentially consists of punching your opponent's destiny. Fail to dodge, and you may suddenly be a married carpenter in Nexus.
  • Similar to the above, Mage: The Awakening has a Time spell called Shifting Sands, which sends the caster back in time by three seconds, allowing them to essentially redo the previous turn. Injuries do carry over, though. There is also a higher-level spell that allows one to place a temporal marker and Snap Back to it that has no time limit, but people tend to ignore or houserule it away.
    • And that's not even the start of the time-related fuckery in the line. A Master-level Time spell allows you to temporarily rewrite your personal history so that, say, you studied martial arts instead of computer programming, allowing you to trade dots in Computer for dots in Brawl. The Cult of the Red Word, a Cannibal Cult that worships a demon made of living anti-history, has the ability to eat people out of existence if they're slaughtered in their sacred temple. And then there's the stuff Archmastery can do... by mistake.
  • The Mistborn Adventure Game allows you to expend Spirit to edit previously introduced facts. It's very likely to fail, though, and really big Retcons are flat-out impossible.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Orikan the Diviner is a Necron astrologer who can predict the future. The main reason he's so good is that in case of his being mistaken, he's able to go back in time and arrange events, not to prevent it but so the specific events he prophesied come to pass.

    Video Games 
  • In AdventureQuest, The'Galin is a god that counterbalances creation—that is, uncreation. Uncreation induces a Cosmic Retcon over The'Galin's domain and only preserves Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory to a few select individuals. One of the main plotlines of the game involves NPCs finding a way to persuade The'Galin to not uncreate the world of Lore, while his Starscream seeks to force it to happen.
  • In BlazBlue, Phenomenon Intervention is an ability to replace an event with another possibility of the event. While some really powerful characters in the game have it, only 2 beings are capable of doing it to the whole world and retconning whole timelines: Takamagahara and Master Unit Amaterasu. The fourth game also reveals that Nine, one of the villains, has built a massive device called Requiem which lets her do this, though it's still imperfect.
  • In Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, Dr. Nefarious plans to use the Great Clock to create a universe where evil always wins.
  • Touhou: a weaker version of this is the domain of Keine Kamishirasawa; she's able to "eat" the history of things, which changes the way people perceive the thing whose history was eaten. For instance, during the 8th game, she devoured the history of the human village so that they wouldn't be affected by the dangers of The Night That Never Ends (she restored it later); this way, the village was invisible to practically everyone, because people would be seeing a reality where humans never settled there in the first place (particularly powerful beings don't seem to be affected by it, though; Yukari, for instance, wasn't affected at all by Keine's ability and could see the village and its inhabitants with no problems).

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Shinza Bansho Series, there exists an outer-dimensional device known simply as the Throne. Should anyone ever fulfill the requirements to reach it and dethrone its current holder, then a person will be able to rewrite both reality and history with their own Law based on their desires. No one will notice the change to reality as, from their perspective, that's the way the world has always been. The only exception to this was when Marie took the Throne but left her predecessor alive, resulting the world continuing as is, just with her new Law in effect.

    Web Animation 
  • Germaine uses a "reset button" invented by Foamy in the web series: Neurotically Yours to initiate a series reboot.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Sarda uses Retconjuration with abandon and White Mage mucks up his attempt to retconjure the world to how he wants it, but he's more of a straight Reality Warper. Black Mage tries the same spell and it backfires (Sarda wrote the spell to rewrite reality to Sarda's will, not the caster's).
    • Thief gets a minor one when he changes the archives so his red outfit was always black has never, ever tampered with the fabric of the universe.
  • The Trope Namer is Erf World. Erfworld is a wargame-inspired fantasy setting with many schools of magic. The school of Retconjuration was actually Retconjured into existence after the authors didn't like a special they had given a minor character. (This replaced the Naughtymancy school of Deletionism, which was ironically deleted.) Mortal mages can't wield Retconjuration, it is said that only the mythical Titans who created the world can actually use it.
  • In the sixth act of Homestuck, a house-shaped treasure is introduced that gives the power to move through and alter canon. The power is explicitly different from time travel, which happens a lot, in that it is not bound by the requirement to create Stable Time Loops and can move through other universes and even into fictional contexts like Con Air, so long as they appear at some point in the Homestuck canon. Hell, even imagine spots can be retconjured by this power, as evidenced by the oil on Howie Mandel's sleeve on this page that only appeared after the house treasure was used.
  • Clockstopper in Super Stupor (a side-comic of Something*Positive); he calls it Nut-Punching Father Time. It's also his favorite solution to everything.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-140 is a book that chronicles the history of the Daevite civilization, an extremely unpleasant civilization (with human sacrifice, cannibalism, functional dark magic, etc.) that was wiped out at some point in the past. Whenever something that could be used to write with comes near the book (blood works best), more is written about the civilization and what was previously written changes, so that a battle that previously ended as a defeat becomes a victory (or at least a less crushing defeat that they were able to walk away from and rebuild) — and suddenly archaeologists start finding evidence of them in the places and times it writes about. When first recovered, the Daevites were squished by Qin Kai in the 3rd century BCE. Now? They were squished by Genghis Khan, about 1400 years later. The reason it's classified Keter is because enough ink could bring the Daevites into the present day, and it's a fair bet current human civilization wouldn't be a match for them. Oh, and just in case you feel safe, the Foundation doesn't have every copy of the book, and updating one updates them all.
    • SCP-3799 was a snowstorm that caused people to become obsessed with its purity and could convert corpses into more snow. As its area of effect spread around the world, the past was altered to justify its existence. The island in Greenland where it originated had become a major religious site for many different cultures, and every political and economic development in history became dedicated to the snowstorm and its growth. It eventually got to the point where the snow had always covered the entire Earth. Before its effects had been reversed, the SCP Foundation had also become the "Snow Containment Foundation."
    • The Foundation also has closely-guarded possession of several Thaumiel-class objects, almost universally capable of preventing or reverting back from even the worst K-Class scenarios. Several of them do so through Retconjuration.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben Tennyson of the Ben 10 franchise, at least in the original continuity, can gain this ability by transforming into Alien X. Due to the transformation being Awesome, but Impracticalnote , Ben adamantly refuses to use it at all. The only time he willingly uses it after the initial incident is when the universe was completely destroyed early on in Ben 10: Omniverse and he had to use Alien X to rebuild it.
    • It's also explained that Celestialsapiens (the species that Alien X is) CONSTANTLY retcon things in the universe, explaining things such as why the art style changes. In Alien X's case, he was unable to perfectly recreate Mr Smoothy's taste, in addition to a different mascot.
  • Rick and Morty at one point features Rhett Caan, a villain who is an Anthropomorphic Personification of retcons. He can make anything he says retroactively always have been true. His name was originally Brett Caan, but then Morty points out that Rhett is also a name, so he makes that always have been his name.

    Real Life