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Retroactive Legacy

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Occasionally a company creates a fake 'legacy' for a character, and uses that as a basis for the character: Essentially a Retcon, introducing their past adventures into real life. By combining Retraux with Show Within a Show, the creators engineer a 'return' for a new character.

A specific form of Newer Than They Think. See also Been There, Shaped History for when the constructed legacy involves events "originally" performed by other characters. Compare and contrast Un-Installment, where a single installment is "missing" from the midst of a series, and Noodle Incident, where small isolated past offscreen events are referenced.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kujibiki♡Unbalance (the first iteration) only had three episodes produced, spaced at random points along the nonexistent series. Despite that, there was a Clip Show back to episodes that never happened and next episode previews for episodes that also didn't happen.
  • The DVD bonus specials for Princess Lover!! have episode previews for Magical Knight Maria-chan starring Silvie's kid sister. These include previews for episode 25 even though the first 24 don't exist, and previews for a sequel series.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Played With during Grant Morrison's The Return Of Bruce Wayne story, where Bruce Wayne is pulled across time by the Omega Sanction and becomes his own grampa several times over, still wearing some kind of Bat-costume every time.
    • In Pre-Crisis continuity, there were technically two Batmen before Bruce Wayne: His father, Thomas Wayne, briefly wore a bat-themed costume for a masquerade ball, and had to fight some thugs who threatened him (an incident which simultaneously inspired young Bruce and also made their family a target in the future), and there was also an Australian aboriginal tribe whose protectors wore a "Bat-man" costume that looked uncannily similar to Bruce's own.
    • Also in pre-crisis continuity, it was revealed that Bruce Wayne, before becoming Batman, had actually been the first Robin, a disguise he used to learn detective skills under the tutelage of private detective Harvey Harris. And he had other identities before and after that, too - as the Flying Fox and the Executioner.
  • In the Marvel Universe, the title of Black Knight has been held by Sir Percy, who may have been the Otherworld king Gwyn ap Nudd in disguise, serving in King Arthur's court in the 6th century. The title went to Sir Raston in the Dark Ages, Sir Eobar during the Crusades, Sir William during World War I, and the swashbuckler Sir Henry. Though Sir Percy was considered the first Black Knight, there were eight other Black Knights prior to Sir Percy, including King Arthur's cousin Sir Reginald.
  • Steve Rogers was not the only Captain America. In the 18th century, there was a revolutionary war hero, Steven Rogers, who could be the prototypical Captain America. When the 1940's Super Soldier program began human experimentation, similar to the Tuskegee Experiments, Isaiah Bradley survived to become Captain America before Steve Rogers. When Steve Rogers was frozen in the Arctic Circle, William Nasland, the Spirit of '76, took on the role of Captain America, followed by Jeff Mace, formerly the superhero known as the Patriot, after Nasland's death. Fred Davis took on the role of Bucky during both of their careers. William Burnside was the Captain America of the 1950's, with Jack Monroe as Bucky, later known as Nomad.
  • Excalibur #48 establishes Feron's ancestor as a host of the Phoenix Force, prior to Jean Grey.
  • The Sentry from Marvel Comics was a character "introduced in the '60s", and was so powerful that knowledge of his existence threatened the universe. So, he made everyone: even himself, even Marvel Comics, and even the readers forget he existed, until he "returned" in 2000.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) retcons that there were precursors to the organization as far back as Ancient Egypt, when they called themselves "The Shield".
  • Iron Fist: Orson Randall, another Marvel character who wielded the power of the Immortal Iron Fist in the '20s, supposedly passed into obscurity, completely unknown to Danny Rand, the modern Iron Fist, until he "reappeared" in 2007. The series delves into the histories of the Iron Fists that held the title before Orson, which go back for over a thousand years.
  • Circa 2009, writer Jason Aaron revealed that the Ghost Riders aren't the only Spirits of Vengeance. The British model draws from Spring-Heeled Jack, the German model closely resembles Shock-Headed Peter, and the Japanese one is a bosozoku with an oni-like appearance. There have been Spirits of Vengeance for every culture and every era; the American Spirits alone number in the dozens (which explains the original GR being a cowboy all clad in white), and when the Vikings first landed in North America they found a Spirit of Vengeance protecting the shore.
  • Jason Aaron's The Mighty Thor run revealed that many centuries ago, a young Thor was part of a group of proto-Avengers that included the aforementioned Native American Spirit of Vengeance, a female Black Panther, the then-current queen of Atlantis (implied to be Namor's ancestor), and Bodolf the Black, a Hulk-like Viking warrior.
  • One of the major reveals of Marvel Legacy (once again by Jason Aaron) was that in 1,000,000 B.C., there was another proto-Avengers team made up of a young Odin (who wielded Mjolnir), Agamotto (the first Sorcerer Supreme), and prehistoric iterations of Black Panther, Iron Fist, Phoenix, Starbrand and Ghost Rider.
  • Jack Kirby did not originally intend for The Eternals to be part of the Marvel Universe, and their adventures took place in a world seemingly devoid of other superheroes. This was retconned in Roy Thomas' Thor run, where it was revealed that Thor had encountered and lived among the Eternals a thousand years ago. It was also established that Odin's Destroyer armor had been created many years ago for the express purpose of combatting the Celestials when they returned to Earth someday. Subsequent writers continued to integrate Kirby's concepts into the Marvel Universe, such as Thanos and his fellow Titans possessing Eternal lineage or the X-Men villain Apocalypse being revealed to have gotten his technology from the Celestials in ancient times.
  • Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files has a passing mention of one as a gag - one of the files is about a never-seen-in-a-comic character named "Venture", who apparently imagines that his name will endure a century or more, alluding to the Marvel 2099 western-themed character of the same name and implying that he was actually carrying on an old legacy.
  • Avengers Spotlight #7 established that the nameless Tibetan lama who'd empowered Doctor Druid way back in Amazing Adventures #1 was actually the Ancient One, Doctor Strange's future mentor. What's more, the Ancient One confessed that he only gave Druid his powers in the first place to make sure the process was safe enough to use on Strange years later, meaning Druid was basically an in-universe test run for Strange.
  • A classic example from Marvel is Cable, who was created in the 1980s, but as soon as he was introduced he was written into history and characters acted like they had known him forever. Time Travel was heavily involved, explaining why this was the case for him.
  • Though he wasn't created until the 90s, several stories have established that Deadpool was around in the Marvel Universe much earlier, including a mini-series that revealed he'd taken part in the original Secret Wars (1984). He also briefly bonded with the Venom symbiote before Spider-Man got his hands on it, and it's implied that being exposed to Deadpool's unstable psyche may have contributed to the symbiote eventually developing such a violent and possessive personality.
    • In the parodical comic Captain America: Who Won't Wield The Shield?, a Retraux, Golden Age version of Deadpool is introduced, who went on to join the Deadpool Corps.
  • Speaking of Secret Wars (1984), Jonathan Hickman's New Avengers run revealed that the Beyonder was actually a child member of an extremely powerful race of godlike extra-dimensional beings called the Beyonders, who had previously appeared in Marvel Two-in-One.
    • The Beyonder's original origin was also tied to them, but in a different way (he was a sentient Cosmic Cube, and the Beyonders made the Cosmic Cubes), and he's had other origins that tied him to other parts of the Marvel Universe, including the Inhumans, though Canon Discontinuity applies to those now. And in another comic, it was revealed that Prester John, an old Fantastic Four foe, was actually the first Beyonder ever introduced!
  • Fantastic Four #132 had Johnny Storm get a new costume based on the one worn by the Golden Age Human Torch (1939), with Johnny claiming that he was a huge fan of the original Torch as a child. It was even implied that Johnny's subconscious desire to be like his idol may have somehow influenced his transformation into the new Human Torch way back when the Four first got their powers from the cosmic rays. This had never been brought up before in any other comic, and in fact, when the Human Torch met his Golden Age counterpart back in the 60s, he seemed to have absolutely no idea who the hell he was.
  • Speaking of the Golden Age Human Torch, his Kid Sidekick Toro had similar flame powers, which were initially unexplained. Later writers would imply that Toro was actually a mutant, before the All-New Invaders series revealed that he was actually an Inhuman.
  • Marvel again: The series Alias introduced Jessica Jones, who had a backstory of being a C- or D-list superhero before retiring as a private detective. As with Cable, she's now treated as if she was active back in The Bronze Age of Comic Books — and indeed Peter Parker's high school classmate in The Silver Age of Comic Books.note 
  • Marvel Comics Presents #61-62 reveals the Scarlet Witch had a 16th century ancestor, Red Lucy.
    • After another retcon that establishes she and Quicksilver are not Magneto's biological children, Wanda seeks out her real parents in a 2015 solo title and discovers she unknowingly took her superhero name after her real mother, Natalya Maximoff, the first Scarlet Witch.
  • The Widowmaker series established that the Ronin identity previously held by Maya Lopez and Clint Barton was originated by a Japanese nationalist during World War II. Exactly how nobody knew this is never actually explained....
  • West Coast Avengers: One arc had Hawkeye travel back in time to ancient Egypt, where he unknowingly crafted the ceremonial weapons that would one day be used by Moon Knight in the present.
  • The DCU had Triumph, a hero who was supposedly a founding member of the Justice League but a Heroic Sacrifice involving the timestream removed him from history and dumped him in the present day.
    • They did the exact same thing again with Moon Maiden, who was basically a cross between Sailor Moon and Superman.
  • Punisher A Man Called Frank is a Western story adapting the origin of Frank Castle... only, it's not an Elseworld story. It's canon to the main Marvel Universe. There was, decades before Frank Castle, a man called Frank who lost his family and started wearing a skull logo and killing criminals. In Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files, an investigator wonders if there wasn't some guiding force working through both men.
  • Zatanna's very first appearance was in Hawkman #4, but a retcon in Justice League of America #51 established that an unnamed witch Batman and Robin had fought in Detective Comics #336 had actually been Zatanna in disguise.
  • Alan Moore's first issue of Supreme was a tribute to the many versions of the character who had been published since his first appearance in the 1930s, all of which Moore had just made, save the Grim Dark Age Supreme Rob Liefeld had originally created.
    • Moore also wrote the Judgment Day mini-series for Awesome Comics. The series deals with a metacommentary of the notion of retcons to super-hero histories as Alan Moore himself creates a new backstory for the characters of Awesome Comics, to replace the shared universe they left when Rob Liefeld left Image Comics several years earlier.
  • Greg Rucka's 2000s Checkmate series introduced a legacy character of the World War II heroine Mademoiselle Marie, and revealed that the original Marie was in fact just one in a long long of Maries dating back to at least The French Revolution.
  • Volton was an obscure hero from The Golden Age of Comic Books. After becoming a Public Domain Character, Marvel included him in the 90s Invaders mini-series, where it was established that Volton was an android created by Doctor Nemesis back when he was working with Phineas Horton, the inventor responsible for the Human Torch and The Vision.
  • Speaking of the Vision and Horton, originally, Vision was said to be a synthezoid created by Ultron. Later retcons changed things so that Professor Horton built Vision from the remains of the deceased Golden Age Human Torch at Ultron's behest, though this too was eventually retconned. The 2003 Vision mini-series from Geoff Johns took things a step further by revealing that the Human Torch's body even contained the same type of solar gem that would later adorn the Vision's forehead.
  • The Sandman (1989): Dream of the Endless was introduced in the 1980s as the original from which the previous Sandmen had derived.
  • The Golden Age hero Red Raven was a human child who was adopted by a race of Winged Humanoids known as the Bird People. Later retcons would establish that the Bird People were actually the descendants of a splinter group of Inhumans who had left Attilan and settled on a floating island called Aerie.
  • Likewise, the 2019 History of the Marvel Universe mini-series reveals that the Golden Age character Tuk the Caveboy was actually the first offspring of the ancient Inhumans.
  • Young X-Men introduced the new Cipher, Alisa Tager. A retcon establishes that she's been present at the Xavier Institute since way back in Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, but thanks to her intangibility and invisibility, the readers simply hadn't noticed her.
  • Grant Morrison introduced a new Shining Knight in Seven Soldiers, Sir Ystin, who heralded from the ur-Camelot that would establish the recurring cycle of Arthurian Legend, and became the template for Sir Justin, the Shining Knight of a later era.
  • Brian Falsworth aka Union Jack was created in the 1970s, but was retconned into having been active during both World War I, as a member of a team called Freedom's Five, and World War II, where he fought alongside Captain America and The Invaders. Taking this a step further, it was established that before re-adopting the Union Jack identity, Brian had been the Destroyer, who was an actual Golden Age superhero that had been published during the 40s. "Keen Marlow," the Destoyer's previous real name, was Retconned into being an alias Brian used while infiltrating Nazi Germany.
  • Happened to The Spectre in the John Ostrander series, who was given a history that stretched back into The Bible and the earliest days of Creation.
  • DC Comics occasionally assembles a legacy from previously-unrelated characters.
    • E.g., when a minor Golden Age The Flash villain called "Rival" retroactively became the first Reverse Flash.
    • Or when Western heroes Nighthawk and Cinnamon became previous incarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
    • When James Robinson wrote Starman, DC had six characters by that name, only two of whom had any connection: Ted Knight; the 1950s Starman (who was actually Batman in a story that had been Retconned away); Mikaal Tomas; Prince Gavyn of Throneworld; Will Peyton; and Ted's son David Knight. Robinson created Ted's younger son Jack as "his" Starman, and forged connections between all the above characters, some of whom turned out to be the same people.
    • There was also the original Manhunter, Paul Kirk, who, thanks to a retcon, first became a superhero after encountering the Manhunter androids (who in real life had been introduced four decades after Kirk initally debuted). Later, it was established those androids took their name from the Manhunters from Mars, as seen in the pages of Martian Manhunter.
    • Averted with Quality Comics' Manhunter, who was introduced to DC's Earth-2 in the pages of All-Star Squadron after the company's IPs were bought. This meant there were two separate heroes named Manhunter operating, but no connection was established between them. In fact, they both considered the other to be a ripoff and not the "real" Manhunter.
  • Ed Brubaker's Secret Avengers run tied the obscure Golden Age hero John Steele into the greater Marvel Universe by establishing that after World War I, Steele had been imprisoned and studied by German scientists. One of the researchers was Abraham Erskine, who would later use what he'd learned from studying Steele's physiology to create the Super Serum that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. Another of the scientists was the father of Noah Burstein, the man who would later be responsible for Luke Cage's unbreakable skin, implying that the process used on Cage was also based on the experiments done on Steele.
  • In the Dreamwave comics based on The Transformers, there was a cameo of a black-colored Micro Change toy in the audience watching as Megatron murdered Emirate Xeon, alongside other cameos such as Cy-Kill of the Go Bots. This character was long believed to be the confusingly-named Autobot (who is supposed to be silver, but it could be chalked up to the lighting), but Vector Prime stated that this was actually a G1 version of Meantime, a minor character from the Transformers live-action movies. So Meantime has a multiversal counterpart that debuted five years before he was ever conceived.
  • The Golden Age heroine Golden Girl was retconned into being the aunt of the Hulk foe Thunderbolt Ross, based pretty much entirely on the fact that they happened to have the same last name. His daughter being named Betty Ross probably helped, too.
  • When the Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four (Lee & Kirby) #52 and #53, it was implied that T'Challa had come up with the Black Panther identity after his father's murder, with inspiration taken from Wakanda's panther god. Later writers established that there had already been multiple Black Panthers throughout history, and that T'Challa's father, T'Chaka, held the identity before his death.
    • Wakanda received a Retroactive Legacy along with T'Challa. When first introduced, Wakanda was a primitive nation and advancing its technology was a new idea T'Challa himself had introduced. Even Don McGregor, who first fleshed out Wakanda in Jungle Action in the 70s, painted it as a land that leaned more pre-industrial than high-tech. Wakanda's present "always a century ahead" technology level didn't really settle in until Christopher Priest's tenure as writer.
    • From the 90s onward, it's been canon that during World War II, Captain America had encountered and fought alongside a past Black Panther (who Depending on the Writer, was either T'Challa's father T'Chaka or his grandfather Azzuri). During their very first meeting back in the Silver Age, Cap made no such mention of having ever encountered another Black Panther, and indeed it was very clear that he had never set foot in Wakanda before that point. Christopher Priest justified it a bit by having Cap claim that the mission where he met the previous Black Panther was classified, and thus he was forbidden to speak of it.
    • Marvel Team-Up #100 revealed that as a teen, T'Challa had been close friends with Ororo Munroe, and that they both harbored lingering romantic feelings for one another. Decades later, this would be used as the basis for their marriage.
  • During the 80s, the villain Arthur Light was retroactively established as having been the second Dr. Light, with the original being a man named Jacob Finlay. Another retcon was later introduced to tie Doctor Light to his female, Japanese replacement, Kimiyo Hoshi. It was stated that Kimiyo's father had developed the Doctor Light suit with Finlay, before Arthur Light stole it in the first place.
  • When DC licensed the Red Circle heroes from Archie Comics, they retroactively inserted the Hangman into DC's Golden Age during the 1940s. In his backup feature, it was established that Hangman had shared adventures with Wesley Dodds' Sandman.
  • Frank Miller's Daredevil: Man Without Fear mini-series established that during one of his first vigilante outings, Matt had accidentally killed a teenage prostitute by knocking her out a window. The later 1997 Daredevil/Deadpool Annual Retconned the girl into being a young Typhoid Mary, who had actually survived the fall and developed a Split Personality as a result.
  • Similarly, the very first issue of Marvel Team-Up had a scene where Spider-Man saved a young woman from being mugged on Christmas Eve. A much later issue by Chris Claremont established that the woman was actually Misty Knight.
  • Planet Hulk introduced a new character named Korg, who was later Retconned into having been one of the Kronan invaders who fought Thor during his first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83 back in 1962.
  • Strange Tales #75 from 1960 featured a story about a scientist who built a Humongous Mecha called the Hulk (no relation to the big green guy). When the story was reprinted in Tomb of Darkness #22 sixteen years later, the scientist's lab assistant was Retconned into being a young Hank Pym.
  • Years after DC gained the characters Judomaster and Tiger thanks to a buy-out of Charlton Comics, the two were retconned into being members of the All-Star Squadron, despite never actually appearing in that series.
  • When the Milestone heroes were temporarily integrated into DC's continuity, it was established that Icon was now an old friend of Superman. It was also mentioned that Hardware knew Blue Beetle, and this throwaway line would later form the basis for an issue of The Brave and the Bold. Milestone Forever took this a step further, hinting at past team-ups between Static and Wonder Woman and Blitzen and The Flash.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen often features this, but the most obvious example is Campion Bond, who is introduced as a heretofore unknown ancestor of James Bond, demonstrating that careers are genetically transmitted in the LOEG-verse.
  • Captain Atom: In-Universe, this was what the military told the public Captain Atom was in the Post-Crisis Captain Atom 1987 series.
  • The Image Comics character Shadowhawk named himself after the Silver Age Shadow-Hawk, a parody of Silver Age Batman, whose teenaged son Squirrel would go on to become Shadowhawk's Evil Counterpart, Hawk's Shadow. Eventually it would be revealed that there was a line of Shadowhawks going back to Ancient Egypt.
  • Valiant Comics's Rai is a title passed down to several characters powered by the Blood of Heroes, with the current Rai existing in the 41st century.
    • The Blood of Heroes is later revealed to be the same nanites that power the 20th century hero Bloodshot (Rai debuted before Bloodshot).
  • Runaways has pulled this a few times:
    • The original miniseries was predicated upon the notion that Los Angeles had, since the 1980s, been ruled by a secret cabal made up of seven families. The explanation for why they had never previously been mentioned is that everyone else was too afraid of them.
    • The Iron Man limited series Iron Man: Legacy revealed that the Pride had actually clashed with The Illuminati several years prior to the events of Runaways. Realizing the extent of the Pride's influence (meaning they would likely avoid any jail time), Tony essentially offered Geoffrey Wilder a truce, promising to keep their existence a secret in exchange for them withdrawing from a neighborhood that had come under his protection.
    • The first issue of the second series introduced the Excavator, the never-before-mentioned teenaged son of Wrecking Crew member Shoveler.
    • The "Dead-End Kids" arc revolves around a lost generation of "Wonders" who were active in the early 20th century, several decades before any of Marvel's known heroes, including a witch who was Nico's ancestor, an even more dogmatic precursor to The Punisher, and a cannibalistic gangster who may have been connected to The Kingpin.
    • The last arc of the third series revealed that Chase had an uncle who he had long believed dead. Apparently, because of his Multiple-Choice Past, he'd completely forgotten about him.
    • Daken: Dark Wolverine revealed that there was, in fact, an eighth member of the Pride, the Humanoid Abomination Marcus Roston, but he was kicked out after the Steins caught him literally hovering over Chase's bed while he slept.
    • In A-Force, Nico is revealed to have a whole bunch of surviving relatives in Japan; it's explained that she'd never previously sought them out because they'd disowned her branch of the family.
  • The Thunderbolts specials Avengers/Thunderbolts and Thunderbolts Presents Zemo - Born Better reveal Heinrich and Helmut Zemo, the Silver Age and Modern Age Baron Zemo, are the twelfth and thirteenth to carry the title Baron Zemo.
  • Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica reveals Anansi is the original Spider-Man.
  • Avengers 1959 was a 2011 miniseries in which Nick Fury assembled a team combining surviving Golden Age heroes (Blonde Phantom, Namora) and more modern characters with long backstories (Sabretooth, Ulysses Bloodstone, Kraven the Hunter, Silver Sable and Dominic Fortune).
  • Since Comic-Book Time means the "modern" Avengers were always founded "about ten years ago", the Mighty Avengers (2013) chapter of the Original Sin crossover finds space for another previous incarnation with an incredibly Seventies team led by Luke Cage's dad and including Blue Marvel, obscure Silver Age mystic Kaluu, the Bear (created for a Howard Stark flashback the previous year), Intrepid Reporter Constance Molina, and Blade (in his original yellow open shirt and green wraparound shades look).
  • Venom:
    • The Venom symbiote was originally just an alien costume that came out of a machine Spider-Man found on Battleworld during Secret Wars (1984). Planet of the Symbiotes detailed more of the symbiote's backstory, with later works like Brian Bendis' run on Guardians Of The Galaxy 2013 introducing the symbiote home world of Klyntar. The Donny Cates Venom run then introduced the symbiote god Knull and provided a definitive origin story for the species, while also establishing that Venom was not the first symbiote to land on Earth, nor was Peter Parker the first human to bond with one. Additionally, All-Black the Necrosword, the shapeshifting weapon wielded by Gorr the God Butcher, was revealed to be the very first symbiote. Knull was also established as the one who slew the Celestial whose decapitated head later became Knowhere, as well as the originator of the emblem on Venom's chest (revealed to actually be a dragon rather than a spider).
    • Rick Remender's Venom run revealed that the Crime Master identity went back centuries, and that various men had donned the guise throughout history.
  • Wolverine was once considered the first Weapon X, until Weapon X was revealed to be one of several entries in Weapon Plus, a much larger Super-Soldier project whose other subjects included Captain America and the Daredevil villain Nuke. Others have been retroactively introduced as part of the Weapon X/Project X program.
  • X-Men: Deadly Genesis revealed the All-New, All-Different X-Men were preceded by a team consisting of Darwin, Petra, Sway, and the third Summers brother, Gabriel "Kid Vulcan" Summers.
    • The First X-Men mini-series established that before the original X-Men, a pre-Weapon X Wolverine led a sort of proto X-Men that included Sabretooth and new characters Bomb, Holo, Meteor and Yeti. The group didn't last long, but it was implied that its existence inspired Charles Xavier and Magneto to form the X-Men and the Brotherhood, respectively.
    • Chip Zdarsky's Invaders run would later reveal that the first mutant Xavier had ever tried to recruit to form the X-Men was Namor. Xavier's botched attempt to psychically treat Namor's PTSD instead worsened his mental illness, resulting in him winding up homeless on the streets of New York, where he would later be found by the Human Torch in the original Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four run.
  • Namor also underwent a bit of this when he was first revived during the Silver Age, with it being established in Fantastic Four Annual #3 that he was a mutant, retroactively making him the company's first mutant (in terms of publication history at least; in-universe, characters like Apocalypse and Selene are far older).
  • X-Men stories set in the 18th-19th century will often introduce ancestors of the modern characters, often connected to the Hellfire Club.
  • Avengers: No Surrender introduces Voyager, who was supposedly a founding Avenger and served with the team until she was wiped from existence during their first fight with the Squadron Sinister (the explanation of this even has a Note from Ed. giving the issue it would have happened in). In an even more meta twist, the same happened to the Squadron member she was fighting, Victory the Electromagnetic Man, who in keeping with the Squadron being Captain Ersatzes to the Silver Age Justice League, is blatantly Triumph (above)! As it turns out, this is actually an invoked trope; in reality, Voyager's the daughter of the Elder of the Universe known as the Grandmaster, and inserted herself into the Avengers' memories.
  • Mark Waid's run on The Avengers introduced Cressida, a.k.a. Avenger X, a young Life Drinker who briefly joined the team during the "Cap's Kooky Quartet" era before betraying them.
  • Max Bemis's run on Moon Knight revealed there'd been Moon Knights since the days of ancient Rome, with Cullen Bunn extending it back to Mesopotamia in 4000 B.C., and Jason Aaron introducing a proto-Moon Knight who led moon-worshippers against the proto-Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C. in his Avengers run. Later writers have taken the opportunity to add to the legacy: the Kang the Conqueror limited series established that a past iteration of Kang's love Ravonna had been the Moon Knight who opposed Rama-Tut during his reign, and a backup story in Moon Knight (2021) #20 introduced a 1970s Moon Knight who'd once teamed up with Blade (Comic-Book Time having shifted Marc Spector's origin away from the 70s).
  • The DC event The New Golden Age introduces a whole bunch of Golden Age characters, mostly with a connection to the Justice Society of America, who have supposedly been removed from history. The opening one-shot includes Who's Who in the DC Universe pages at the back, in which all the "new" sidekicks are given a "First appearance" entry that claims they were actually appearing in their mentors' stories in the forties, while Harlequin's Son supposedly appeared in the first issue of Infinity, Inc.. The only two entries where this section is accurate are the Golden Age Aquaman (who really did exist in the forties) and John Henry Jr. (who first appeared in DC: The New Frontier #6, as the kid with "IRONS" written on his shirt visiting John Henry's grave, now further revealed to be the great-uncle of the better known John Henry Irons). Even the third pre-existing character, Thaddeus Brown, gets his first appearance listed as a non-existent Golden Age Mister Miracle book.
  • Heroes Reborn (2021) takes place in an altered timeline where the Avengers have been replaced by the Squadron Supreme. The event contains numerous flashbacks and footnotes referencing non-existent past adventures (and even specific issue numbers), hinting at decades worth of continuity the readers never got to experience firsthand.
  • The Amalgam Comic books set in the merged universe created during Marvel Versus DC did the same thing, with Super-Soldier (Superman/Captain America) having been published since the forties, JLX (Justice League/X-Men) being a spin-off of Judgement League Avengers, and even references to past Crisis Crossovers like Secret Crisis of the Infinity Hour.
  • The Immortal Hulk one-shot Time of Monsters introduced the original Hulk, a man named Tammuz from Jordan in 9500 BCE, who was killed by exposure to a radioactive meteorite and came back as the monster Enkidu. Unlike Bruce Banner, however, Tammuz gave himself over to the One Below All after he was subsequently killed and butchered by his village, and unlike Banner, he spared no-one.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Toy Story 2 established Woody as a valuable antique cowboy doll who used to be the star of an old Merchandise-Driven show called Woody's Roundup.
  • Wreck-It Ralph follows two characters of that (fictional) smash-hit arcade game from 1983, Fix-It Felix Jr.. Apparently the game was so legendary, Buckner & Garcia made a song about it. Also, the fact that there's a "Jr." in the name can lead one to assume there was a more primitive "Fix-It Felix" game that predated this one.
  • In Turning Red, the songs of the Boy Band 4*Town heard in the film (which is set in 2002) are not the first songs they wrote but 4*Town have been writing and performing music since at least 1999 when they toured in Australia.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Leonard Part 6 supposedly followed five earlier adventures of the protagonist that had been suppressed in the interest of national security.
  • The first three Star Wars films began with Episode IV-VI, suggesting an epic series. It wasn't until much later that episodes I through III were created. However, the original film only became "Episode IV" once its sequel was greenlit, and the number along with the subtitle "A New Hope" was added in a reissue.
  • Dude Bro Party Massacre 3 is said to be the third part in a slasher franchise, with even a fake backstory regarding it being banned right after release and only surviving because someone taped it.
  • The Third Saturday In October Part V (2022) is presented as the fifth installment of a series of Halloween rip-off slasher films, this one supposedly filmed in 1994. The film was followed by a prequel, The Third Saturday In October Part I, the "original" installment, supposedly filmed in 1979.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was created to invoke the feeling of finding a random volume of some long-running pulp adventure series, and as such is full of references back to previous installments that never happened.
    New Jersey: (Walking through a lab to see a watermelon in the middle of a large industrial device) Why is there a watermelon there?
    Reno: I'll tell you later.

  • The book The Princess Bride pretends to be an abridgement of an older book of the same name written by the fictitious author "S. Morgenstern". Remember those parts in the movie where they cut back to the grandpa reading the book to his grandson Fred Savage? William Goldman, the writer, "abridged" the book based on memories of being read the original by his father, and equivalents to those scenes are present in the real life novel as footnotes and forewords. The book actually had its roots in something Goldman made up for his two daughters as a bed time story.
  • The novelization of the 1984 movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension presents itself as merely the latest in a long series of "Buckaroo Banzai" books, and makes frequent reference to the titles and events of the alleged previous volumes, such as Bastardy Proved a Spur.
  • Trent's Last Case is actually the first novel featuring Philip Trent.

    Live Action TV 
  • Community had two infamous Clip Shows...that consisted entirely of footage from past episodes that didn't actually exist.
  • Each episode of Danger 5's second season would open with a brief Previously on… segment, which would always feature one clip, usually of Pierre, in a subplot that never actually happened.
  • Jimmy MacDonald's Canada is a Mockumentary about a Fake Pundit Show that took place back in the '60s, and starred a stereotypical ultra-conserative who railed against technological innovation and youth culture. The show ended when MacDonald had a nervous breakdown on TV, made off with all the tapes from the episodes, flew off to parts unknown, but died in a plane crash. Some of the episodes have recently turned up, and the mockumentary features eight episodes of what was supposedly a weekly program that ran for years, intercut with prominent Canadians talking about how hugely influential Jimmy was back in the '60s.

  • Bruce Willis's The Return of Bruno was his debut album.
  • The Aquabats!:
    • Their first album was called Return of the Aquabats. They're that sort of band.
    • They have another album called Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2. There was no volume 1.
  • Welsh rap parody act Goldie-Lookin' Chain called their first album Greatest Hits, accompanied by an album cover showing the participants sat in shop doorways holding cardboard signs saying "Will Rap For Food" to imply that they'd been spectacularly famous and successful before a Creator Breakdown and/or massive substance abuse. This turned out to be rather prophetic in a meta sort of way, because after releasing three singles and getting one of them into the Top 40 they sank without a trace.
    • Their gimmick (as seen in interviews, and on their pre-fame demo CDs) was that they had apparently been going since 1983 - ie, over 20 years. It's true that they'd released 6 albums (starting in 2001) before their major label album in 2004, but that's only 3 years. It didn't help that their follow up album was called Safe As F**k, meaning that it got no radio or TV promotion.
  • Alien Ant Farm also called their first album Greatest Hits, although the strange thing is that it includes early versions of "Smooth Criminal" (called "Slick Thief"), "Movies" and "These Days", all of which were singles when re-recorded for the albums ANThology and TruANT respectively. The former two were their biggest hits, and (outside of fans), Alien Ant Farm are basically only remembered for them these days.
  • When Chris Jericho started a heavy metal cover band, Fozzy, as a side project, they introduced themselves as being the real writers of the songs they were covering, with the story that a crappy recording contract had them trapped in Japan for decades. Jericho himself performed using the stage name "Moongoose McQueen", and insisted that he wasn't Jericho, but that Jericho was just another guy ripping him off. (Eventually the gimmick was dropped, as ironically the band started recording well-received original material and spends much time touring real metal festivals now. Jericho is a widely respected metal frontman now, as well as a main event pro wrestling star.)
  • The video for the Utah Saints' "Something Good '08" claims that the Running Man dance was created in Cardiff in 1989 but the creator was muscled into signing it over to MC Hammer by his goons.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard has been given an entire backstory of games (including that he was the "first character to crouch" although it was "removed at the last moment" before release of "The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land" in 1983). They put up a blog about it, and a fake fansite complete with pointless animated gifs and one of those Java "lake reflection" headers.
  • Retro Game Challenge presents an entire alternate 1980s game industry, complete with magazines.
  • beatmania IIDX has a classical song called "Piano Concerto No. 1 'Anti-Ares'", supposedly written by one Virkato Wakhmaninov (1893-1974). In actuality Virakato Wakhmaniov is a pseudonym of Jun Wakita, one of Konami's in-house composers, and he composed the song in 2004.
  • The DS game Dark Void Zero claims in its promotional material to be a game developed in the 80s by Capcom for a "revolutionary" yet ultimately scrapped arcade system with two screens. The game then eventually was used as the basis of the upcoming PC and console game Dark Void and thus Capcom has decided to "re-release" the "original" as a DS title.
    • The arcade system in question is a Playchoice-10, a Nintendo arcade machine with 10 different NES games inside it as the name suggests, and instead of lives/continues, feeding coins/tokens into it instead grants more playing time. And yes, it did have 2 screens, although since the games in question were NES games, the only purpose the second screen had was providing game hints and info. But after they released new info on the game, not only does the supposed backstory for the game contain tons of speculation, but the supposed promotional image for the game is blatantly photoshopped as well.
  • In Merry Gear Solid 2, the synopsis of the game Merry Gear is available in the Previous Operations section of the menu, and the plot is referenced in the game's story. The game never actually existed.
  • Final Fantasy X: The Blitzball player Jecht's famous "Sublimely Magnificent Jecht Shot Mark III" move isn't actually the third iteration — he just called it the Mark III because it sounded more interesting. As his son Tidus relates it was also a bit of a marketing ploy. Fans would show up to every game hoping to one day see Marks I & II.
  • Fur Fighters starts with the return of Big Bad General Viggo. Apparently the Fur Fighters stopped him in an earlier game but of course no such game was released.
  • Sonic Adventure and Sonic Chronicles reveal the existence of the ancient Echidna clans. Knuckles is a descendant of the Knuckles Tribe or Knuckles Clan.
  • The full title of I Wanna Be the Guy is I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game, implying it to be a Recursive Adaptation.
  • Dragon Quest III: The Hero is eventually revealed to be Erdrick, the legendary champion whom the heroes of Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II are descended from, making the game a Stealth Prequel.
  • Despite its name, Breath of Death VII doesn't have six previous instalments.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the 200th Strong Bad Email "email thunder", Strong Bad is shocked to discover that Homestar Runner has his own email show, several episodes of which are synchronous with previous SBEmails. The Brothers Chaps would eventually do a few more "HREmails", one of which COMPLETELY retconned the SBEmail lore, before going back to Strong Bad.
    • "Trogdor Was a Dragon Man", a short made to promote Trogdor!! The Board Game, is purportedly a music video for a song made to promote the original version of the Trogdor board game in The '70s. This gets lampshaded by Strong Sad at the end of the cartoon.
      Strong Bad: I dunno, The Cheat. There are a lot of inaccuracies present.
      The Cheat: (defensive The Cheat noises)
      Strong Sad: Well, for starters, Trogdor wasn't even around "when the 70s". Strong Bad made him in the early two thous-ands.
  • To commemorate October 21, 2015, Universal released a trailer for Jaws 19, the subject of a Ridiculous Future Sequelisation gag from Back to the Future Part II. It mainly sheds light on the installments between that one and Jaws: The Revenge, showing they had a Cliché Storm of crazy concepts such as Recycled In Space, a two-part movie, other sea terrors getting involved, and even a questionable tie-in to Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • Every 50th strip of Darths & Droids reveals an alternate world where an analogous webcomic exists (i.e. Wands and Wizards, where instead of Star Wars it's Harry Potter). It is always in the 50th strip, with the FAQ, recap and archives showing traces of whatever happened before, even if the only available installment is the 50th one.
  • As an April Fools' Day joke Dominic Noble did a Lost In Adaptation episode pretending The Room (2003) was based on a Polish book from the 1970s called The Room I Died In.
  • The West Patch presents itself as a TV cartoon adaptation of a long-running series of children's books by the late author Julia Padilly. The series' website, after describing the setting and background of the books, then clarifies further down the page that Padilly, her books, and the show based on them never actually existed, but that they're making them now and presenting them as well-loved classics because it's more fun that way.

    Western Animation 
  • The Animaniacs episode "Back in Style."
    • The Warner Brothers and Warner Sister themselves, as well - they were old-timey cartoon characters locked up because they were too wacky.
    • Animaniacs character Slappy Squirrel was supposed to be a cranky old semi-retired cartoon character from Bugs Bunny's heyday. Why the Warners hadn't aged a day since their supposed debut in the 20s while Slappy had aged considerably since her supposed debut in the 40s ... um, clean living?
      • Because it's funnier that way.
      • It may also be a nod to a Tiny Toon Adventures episode exploring the nature of toons ala Roger Rabbit. It was an episode where Babs Bunny was seeking out old cartoon stars Bosco and Honey so they could be her mentors, and in the process learned that laughter is what keeps a toon young. The Slappy Squirrel episode "Critical Condition" suggests that no one has laughed at Slappy in a long time.
  • The second episode of Clerks: The Animated Series was the locked-in-a-freezer clip show - they had trouble remembering, at first, anything that didn't happen the previous week, but eventually started talking about previous adventures they had.
  • One Gargoyles episode introduced a character named Vinnie Grigori, who is revealed over the semi-Clip Show to have been basically every random security guard whom Goliath ever attacked or accidentally screwed over. And now, he wants revenge. With a bazooka. That shoots cream pies.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2", one of the fan letters ask what Family Guy is based on. Brian and Stewie say it's an American remake of a British Sitcom called Chap Of The Manor and the rest of the segment shows what a typical episode would be like.