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A Retcon which adds to the Backstory without altering or contradicting any previously known information (from a factual point of view; it may still contradict the spirit of the earlier installment).

The introduction of a Cousin Oliver or Long-Lost Uncle Aesop is often a Revision, while Chuck Cunningham Syndrome is often a Rewrite. The Other Darrin may be either or both.

This often occurs in order to address a previous contradiction to continuity.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Chapter 19 explains that Ichigo's mother, Masaki, died when Ichigo was almost nine years old, defending Ichigo from a Hollow that targets children with high spiritual power. Tite Kubo stated that, while he starts a story with the skeleton of it from start to finish, he irons out the details as he's writing. He therefore began preparing the details of the story's final arc later, towards the end of the Soul Society arc, which is where the full truth about Masaki's death is revealed. It does not change anything the story has previous said but the detail completely transforms the reader's understanding of what happened the day she died. Yhwach steals the power and lives of all impure Quincies, including Uryuu, his mother, and Masaki (who was once part of the Ishida family). The Hollow kills the de-powered Masaki while Kanae collapses comatose and dies three months later. Uryuu mysteriously survives, much to Yhwach's confusion. The reveal changes reader perception of Ichigo and Uryuu's back stories without contradicting any previous material.
  • The D.Gray-Man fanbook (written by the author) states that Kanda became general Tiedoll's student at age 10, then traveled with him for a year and came to the order where he met Lenalee and Marie. However, a flashback published later reveals that Kanda had already met Marie at this point. This means that Kanda technically met him...but not for the first time.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • It was initially stated in-universe that Goku was sent to Earth to wipe out humanity so Frieza's empire could sell the planet, but forgot that mission when he fell down a ravine and hit his head. In the short story Dragon Ball Minus, released in 2013, it's revealed that Goku's parents actually sent him away to save him from Frieza's impending genocide of the Saiyans. It doesn't contradict anything within the story. Raditz was the only one who actually said that Goku was sent to Earth to kill the humans, and he could've easily misinterpreted why Goku was sent out, since Saiyans regularly sent their children out to conquer worlds anyway; the only ones who know the truth, Bardock and Gine, are long dead.
    • Dragon Ball Super: The Future Trunks Saga alters the rule in Z's Buu Saga that Potara Fusion is permanent; Goku speculates that he and Vegeta split apart because of the different environment inside Buu's body. Gowasu explains that it's only truly permanent when at least one of the fusees is a Supreme Kai; otherwise, the fusion only lasts one hour. It was merely a coincidence that Vegito defused immediately after Super Buu absorbed him.
    • At first, Goku's monkey tail, super-strength, Great Ape form, and overall durability were just an homage to Sun Wukong, since the series was loosely based on Journey to the West. The reveal that he belongs to a race of monkey-tailed alien mercenaries who conquer planets didn't happen until Dragon Ball Z.
    • In the Majin Buu arc, it's repeatedly stated that Kid Buu was created by Bibidi's magic. Years later, Word of God revealed that Buu has actually existed since the creation of the universe itself, and Bibidi merely summoned and tried(unsuccessfully) to control him. It's still quite possible that Bibidi actively claimed Buu was his creation, and with Buu being so ancient, and inactive long before their time, even the Supreme Kais would have had no other information on him.
    • On a related note, Babidi's relation to Bibidi was also changed. Originally he was simply referred to as Bibidi's "son" with no further elaboration. Once again via Word of God it was revelaed that Bibidi had the power to split himself into copies called "doppelgangers". While Babidi referring to Bibidi as his father isn't technically untrue in this context, they are also the same person. (Then again, Piccolo is much the same.) In reference to the above, it's still quite possible that despite being Bibidi, Babidi's memories may have been very fragmented due to the abrupt nature of Bibidi's death. He could have easily "forgotten" that Buu wasn't truly his creation.
  • Shaman King: How the Big Bad Hao Asakura became evil. Whilst originally thought to have occurred simply due to the death of his mother and being abandoned by an oni whom he had befriended, two chapters in the side story manga Zero tell us exactly when he became evil as well as providing the origin of the name of the Asakura family since he started out life as Asaha Douji. He didn't turn evil right away, he had actually become neutral after both this event and witnessing the conditions of the population in the countryside. He was then taken in by an onmyoji named Hamo Tadatomo, and befriended another apprentice name Daitaro. It all went to hell when it was revealed that Daitaro's apprenticeship had been used by their master and his supposed archenemy, whom he had been working with all along, to create a human-shikigami hybrid that everyone could see despite their power level. When this happened, Daitaro went on a rampage, and the revelation of Tadatomo's Freudian Excuse drove Hao mad. He confronted Daitaro in a crazed state, proclaiming that if he failed to stop Daitaro, they could at least destroy everyone together. Hao won, and was given the name that most characters refer to him as by the emperor as a gift of gratitude.

    Asian Animation 
  • Both the Asian TV spin-offs of the Lilo & Stitch franchise—neither of which had any involvement from franchise creator and Stitch's creator and original voice actor Chris Sanders—do this to Stitch's character by giving him powerful new abilities that were supposedly embedded in him by Jumba all this time, but were never a concern until then.
    • The third season of the Stitch! anime,note  Stitch! ~Best Friends Forever~, gives him an inert power cell within him that enhances his strength and abilities.
    • In the Chinese animated series Stitch & Ai, Stitch has a metamorphosis code in his genetic programming that, when activated, causes him to grow into a gigantic monstrocity with four tentacle-like plasma blasters sprouting from his body, allowing him cause even greater destruction. He also can sprout quills around his neck and a patagium that allows him to glide through the air like a flying squirrel.

    Comic Books 
  • The early-1980s series All-Star Squadron ran for 70 issues, all of which was slotted in between issue #10 and #13 of the 1940s series All-Star Comics. The term "retcon" (in its longer form, "retroactive continuity") was devised by writer Roy Thomas to describe this book.
  • Batman: The Widening Gyre reveals that Batman pissed himself during Batman: Year One, and was high on pot most of the time.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this with several aspects of the television series:
  • Captain America's Superhero Origin was rewritten in Tales of Suspense #63 so that Steve Rogers had to drink the Super Soldier Serum instead of having it injected (due to the Comics Code Authority prohibiting demonstrations of drug use). The origin was subequently subjected to revisions — Captain America #109 had Steve exposed to Vita-Rays after drinking the formula, and Captain America #255 reintroduced the injection of the formula while retaining the oral dosage. Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men gave the origin yet another revision — the project Steve participated in was actually a part of the Weapon Plus program, which was also responsible for the likes of Wolverine, thus retroactively making Captain America Weapon I.
    • Baron Heinrich Zemo is another case. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Avengers 4, and retroactively treated as Captain America's achnemesis during World War II. Readers may get the wrong idea by the stories, but Zemo was not created during The Golden Age of Comic Books. And the famous thing of plane where Bucky "died" and Captain America fell to the ocean and froze, was not Captain America's finale retconned as Not Quite Dead, but a plot created by Lee and Kirby when they brought him back.
  • In Ghost Rider, a supporting character, known as "a friend," was an analog of Jesus who helped out Johnny Blaze. Ghost Rider #19 revealed this was a manipulation by Mephisto.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón were given this in a book where it's explained how they lost their private detective agency and were forced to join the secret services overnight. Several years after it kind of suddenly happened.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The mid-'90s comic series Untold Tales of Spider-Man was designed entirely around this trope. They even included a timeline laying out where each story took place in Lee-Ditko Spider-Man.
    • Dan Slott's Spider-Man and Human Torch, Christos Gage's X-Men and Spider-Man, and Peter David's Symbiote Spider-Man do similar interweaving with the timeline. It's fun to figure out how all of the retcons work around each other...
    • The fact that Mary Jane Watson always knew Peter was Spider-Man, all the way back to the day Uncle Ben died. This might count as a plain old Retcon, but surprisingly enough, it only contradicts very few and far in between moments throughout her entire run up to that point, and it also explains exactly why, she was the one person in Peter's circle that never gave him heat about his sudden disappearances and excuses, because she knew he was Spider-Man all along, and it also explains the rich emotional body language in the famous panel at the end of The Night Gwen Stacy Died. Consider that the first issue after her appearance, had her insisting all of a sudden that she and Peter go and get a good look at the Rhino's rampage, originally it was intended to show how adventurous and free-spirited she was, but with the retcon, it makes sense given that she knows who Peter is. Likewise there's a fact that Stan Lee rarely wrote thought bubbles for her during his run and readers largely had to suss her out based on what she said, while leaving her internal life unexplored. The real problem was when writers after Lee, such as Conway, Wein, and Wolfman did try to do that, which made her lack of admission about the secret harder to accept.
  • Supergirl's real name is Kara Zor-El, survivor of Argo City, and the only child of Zor-El and Alura In-Ze. Much of this detail, however, was added over time: in Action Comics #252, her first appearance, Kara’s home city had no name, nor did her mother, and Kara had no surname. Adventure Comics #365 gave her a surname for first time... ten years after her first appearance!
  • Superman's origin was built up a bit more every time it was told. Action Comics #1 had a very bare bones origin and explanation for Superman's powers. Superman #1 added some details about Clark's childhood and life before coming to Metropolis. But it was the newspaper strip's third retelling of the origin that added all the now familiar details about Krypton, introduced Jor-L (not El) and Lara, and explained why the infant Kal-L was the only Kryptonian to survive. That version of the story even details how dangerous the spaceflight to Earth was, and how the rocket avoided several near-disasters on the way.
  • The IDW Transformers comics first discussed the issue of gender in the Transformers in the controversial Spotlight: Arcee. In this, the Transformers are naturally genderless (although using male pronouns) and Arcee is artificially (and against her will) made into the first female. A number of years later, multiple stories revised this, mainly saying that Arcee felt she was born in the wrong body and consented to the operation, and only went berserk due to the lack of aftercare she was given. Ultimately, these revisions expanded the world rather than directly invalidate anything previously said. So everything the characters state in Spotlight: Arcee was correct as far as those characters knew, but was incorrect now that the full history has been revealed.
    • The Transformers: Windblade introduced Caminus and the other lost colonies. These were colonies of Cybertronians who left so far in the ancient past that in the time since gender "arose" in the course of evolution/adaptation.
    • The Transformers: Robots in Disguise further revises this by stating that female Cybertronians did in fact exist in the very, very distant past (meaning only a handful of currently-living Cybertronians would even know of them, let alone have met one). Many "non-standard" Cybertronian types (beasts, combiners, etc) are said to have "been lost" over the years of war between the ancient tribes.
  • The reprint series X-Men Classic, which debuted in the X-Men's '80s heyday, often incorporated newly drawn insert panels with original dialogue by Chris Claremont to elaborate on some plot point or character note, or indeed to bring older stories in line with later plots.
    • X-Men: The Hidden Years, which takes place between issues #67-93 of Uncanny X-Men, when the series was in reprints.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King 1½ offers an entirely different and quite humorous explanation to why the all the prideland animals bowed when Rafiki lifted newborn Simba. Lets just say you don't want to be behind Pumbaa after a meal.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reveals that Gotham City is across the bay from Metropolis, that a building destroyed during the fight between Superman and Zod in Man of Steel was one of Bruce Wayne's, and he was there that day. It also reveals that the Kryptonians were not the first superhumans on Earth.
  • Played with the Star Trek Reboot Movies a.k.a. the "Kelvin Timeline" or the "Abramsverse". While the movies are strictly set in that Alternate Timeline specifically to avert Continuity Snarl, they do add previously unknown information about characters and things in the prime universe.note  These include, but are not limited to the USS Kelvin, an earlier and much simpler stardate format; Jim Kirk's parents revealed to have been Starfleet officers; Carol Marcus' father, no official 5-year explorations occurring before 2233, Spock's canonical date of birth (January 6th, 2230) and the whereabouts of the long-lost Starship Franklin and it's former crew.
  • Rogue One greatly expands on the backstory of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, focusing on the group of rebels who recovered the Death Star plans. In particular, it explains the nature of the Death Star's infamous weak point: it wasn't an oversight; it was deliberately incorporated into the plans by Galen Erso, an engineer with anti-Imperial sentiments. Erso is also the one who informed the Rebels of the existence of the flaw and the plans to begin with.
    • A somewhat minor one comes from Leia's cover of using a "diplomatic mission." Her ship was actually present at the Battle of Scarif, fleeing it directly, and Vader was standing right there watching as it left. No wonder Vader wasn't impressed.
  • Transformers Film Series: In Transformers, Cybertronians have been on Earth since the turn of the twentieth century. The sequels add more, who have been involved with the Earth for far longer. This is not a contradiction so much as no one bothers to mention them.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done this on several occasions.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals that H.Y.D.R.A infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D decades ago and has been slowly using its resources to play a very slow, subtle game of world domination.
    • Ant-Man reveals that Hank Pym and his wife Janet were secretly active as Ant-man and the Wasp in the 1980s, while it was previously assumed that Iron Man was the first superhero since Captain America.
    • Captain America: Civil War reveals that the death of Tony Stark's parents wasn't an accident, but an assassination carried out by Bucky. While the fact that it was an assassination was implied in The Winter Soldier, this is where we learn who did it.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming reveals that a gang of construction workers turned criminals led by Adrian Toomes have stealing Chitauri, H.Y.D.R.A., S.H.I.E.L.D, Stark, and Ultron tech and selling it on the black market for nearly a decade.
    • Thor: Ragnarok reveals that Thor and Loki are not Odin's only children, as previously thought. In reality, they have an older sister, Hela, the Goddess of Death.
    • Avengers: Infinity War reveals that the Red Skull did not actually die from touching the Tessesact in Captain America: The First Avenger, but instead was warped to the planet Vormir and forced to serve as the guardian of one of the other Infinity Stones.
    • Captain Marvel (2019) reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D. had knowledge of extraterrestrials and superhuman beings far more powerful than Captain America as early as 1995, due to their encounters with the Skrulls and Carol Danvers that year. This radically changes the perception of many scenes in the earlier films, especially where Nick Fury is concerned, because it's now clear he knows a lot more than he lets on.

  • The Legends novel Death Star explains why in Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope the superlaser's firing sequence (which, when destroying Alderaan, had been activated quickly and systematically) is so slow and deliberate when it comes time to blow up the Rebel base. And after reading it, you will never look at the climax of the movie in the same way again: The gunnery officer responsible for it suffered a nervous breakdown from sheer horror and remorse after the destruction of Alderaan, and is desperately stalling for time on Red Squadron's behalf whilst inwardly begging for death. It's one of the biggest Tear Jerkers in the Star Wars Legends, if not the entire franchise, canon or not.
    • Another Legends example. In the novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, Warlord Zsinj is a clueless cardboard cutout villain who just somehow controls a fleet large enough to be dangerous. The X-Wing Series, written years later, re-establishes him as a brilliant and pragmatic planner with a taste for showmanship, who likes to use Obfuscating Stupidity in order to keep his enemies (and subordinates) off balance.
  • This was demanded in-universe in Misery, when Paul originally simply rewrote the titular character's death and Annie thought that was 'cheating' and demanded he alter it to her having been buried alive and in a coma.
  • The 'fourth' and 'sixth' books (chronologically) in the Anne of Green Gables series were written after the rest of the books, to appease the fanbase. They work with information that L. M. Montgomery provided in other novels.
  • Although the Sherlock Holmes novels were published anachronistically, The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes was something of a revision, being published after Arthur Conan Doyle's death by his son and editor, and expanding upon small references in the series.
  • This is the concept at the core of the Dragonlance Lost Chronicles trilogy (2006-2009), which happen in between (or at the same time of) the events of the original Chronicles trilogy (1984-1985), by far the most successful of the series. It works well, because the original trilogy used to occasionally jump several weeks/months in between chapters, and the untold events that unfolded there were just briefly referenced in passing, without much explanation.
  • An example from the Star Trek Novel Verse: The Sundered, a book of Star Trek: The Lost Era, introduces interphase tunnels that lead from the Milky Way to the Small Magellanic Cloud. The Star Trek: Titan novels later built on this by establishing a whole subspace topography that placed the Cloud "downstream" of the Milky Way. This served to allow two different ships in two different times and places to both reach the same region of space and interact with the Neyel race. Then, another Lost Era novel, The Buried Age, made a subtle offhand reference to ancient transportation networks created by the ancient Precursors, the Manraloth, offering an explanation for how this improbable situation came about.
  • The trope is used in-universe in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. In Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, a large portion of the population is wiped out by a plague (implied to be influenza), and a treatment is devised and must be delivered to the various holds. Queen rider Moreta volunteers for the mission, but her dragon Orlith has a clutch of eggs and must remain with them; so Moreta instead borrows Holth, the queen of a retired dragonrider. While jumping between, the elderly and exhausted Holth is unable to complete the passage through time and space, and both she and Moreta are lost. However, it is recorded for posterity that Moreta was on her own dragon at the time, and that Orlith deliberately sought the oblivion of between because Moreta was dying. This version of events is seen in the books which take place later in the planet's timeline, but were published earlier; until Moreta's release, there was no indication that this account was in any way historically inaccurate, nor do any of the characters from later books ever learn the truth.

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Avengers episode "The Forget-Me-Knot", Steed and Mrs Peel are revealed to have a never-before-seen superior called Mother. He (oh yes) subsequently became a recurring character for the rest of the show.
  • In Season 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is shown that Willow met Giles' aunts while she was training on his estate in Bath after the events of season 6.
  • Caprica. Pretty much "Revision: The Series!". It helps that the parent show, Battlestar Galactica, revealed almost no backstory on the era of Colonial history that Caprica takes place in, giving the writers a very wide scope to tell stories without stepping on established canon.
  • Cheers. Since the beginning of the series, the bar's sign indicated that the bar was established in 1895. However, the episode "The Stork Brings a Crane" claimed that the number was made up by Carla because of her belief in numerology simply so that the writers could do a centennial episode in 1989 (since it was obvious that show would most likely not be on the air in 1995).
  • Doctor Who:
    • The episode "The Doctor's Wife" revises the ever-vague origin story of the Doctor himself. It's widely-known canon that the Doctor wanted to see the universe, so he "borrowed" a TARDIS and ran away from Gallifrey. Neil Gaiman's revision? The TARDIS wanted to see the universe, so she stole a Time Lord (by leaving her doors unlocked for the Doctor) and ran away from Gallifrey.
    • The Time Lords went through this twice. From "The War Games" onwards they were depicted as All Powerful Bystanders, with limitless power over the universe but choosing not to interfere in the affairs of lesser species. "The Deadly Assassin" onward showed that this was merely an image they like to project, as in reality Time Lord society is immensely corrupt and stagnant, the people themselves content to sit back in luxury while the universe goes on without them, even forgetting much of their own history. The Doctor Who Expanded Universe and "The End of Time" showed that this was a deliberate restraint their ancestors had put on themselves, as when Time Lords start messing with the universe they become anything from Evil Overlords to full-blown Omnicidal Maniacs; the Doctor is a very, very rare exception.
  • Novels and films gave us some details about Hannibal Lecter's history with Will Graham, but Hannibal adds a whole lot more details: Graham and Lecter becoming friends, bonding with a survivor of the Garret Jacob Hobbes case, Graham being framed for murder, Graham being there for Lecter's mutilation of Mason Verger, Graham's empathy being borderline supernatural... The whole thing goes off the rails by Season 4, where it's full blown Alternate Continuity.
  • Inverted in the second season of The Good Place; after it's revealed that Neighborhood 12358W is completely fake, Michael has to justify why everything established in the first season isn't a lie.
    Chidi: Why even tell us about any real thing? Why not just lie about all of it?
    Michael: Lies are always more convincing when they're close to the truth.
  • Bonus materials for the Highlander tv series often give far more background to the Villain of the Week, or sometimes turn background or bit characters into members of the Watchers Organization which tracks and documents the lives of Immortals.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, especially in its final season, was very fond of carefully challenging the common assumptions about past continuity while ensuring that everything we had heard before was still literally true (most notably, the meeting with the Borg, and the ultimate explanation of the Klingon Forehead Issue). Undoubtedly an interesting mental exercise (see Fanwank), but quite often, the viewers are left feeling like the writers just pulled a fast one.
    • Star Trek: Discovery does this most notably with Spock, revealing that he had dyslexia as a child and expressed himself in art (drawing, specifically).
  • Supernatural: Sam's girlfriend Jessica was killed by a demon in the pilot episode in the same manner (burned to death on the ceiling) as the Winchesters' mother. It was pretty clearly intended to be the Yellow-Eyed Demon/Azazel, whom Sam and Dean finally took out at the end of season 2 to avenge Mary and Jes. Then a season 5 episode revealed that one of Azazel's former lackeys was the actual hitman, a demon who possessed Sam's college friend Brady.

  • In the first season of Red vs. Blue, Church talks about his time in Sidewinder, where Tex killed a slew of soldiers including one "Private Jimmy". This was later contradicted in The Recollection saga, with revelations about the Alpha AI and Project Freelancer. In season 14 episode "Why They're There" we learn that Church never knew Private Jimmy. Poor Jimmy was lobotomized and had the Alpha AI implanted into his skull. Church's memories are an amalgamation of the Alpha and Jimmy's, which was why Church's recollections were later proven wrong.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • In BIONICLE, the storyline had a unique way of expanding both ways: as it progressed in the present, various Flashback bits delved deeper and deeper into the past, all the while explaining or even completely rewriting present story details (or the way we perceive them) without resorting to changing the exact details themselves or contradicting facts. How much sense these revisions made, from the stories' and our own standpoint, varied greatly.

    Video Games 
  • Alice: Madness Returns has one, where it is revealed that the cat never knocked over a lamp, and the cause of the fire was something completely different. The cutscene in the original game is now implied to be Alice's attempt to understand the past she has forgotten.
  • Another Code R changed one thing about the events of Ashley's third birthday, in that she gained a pendant which becomes vital to the plot of the game. A bit of a clunkier revision, as while it doesn't alter or contradict anything, the pendant suddenly becomes very important to the point where Ashley is never without it and both she and her dad are fairly concerned about keeping it safe, despite it never having been mentioned or discussed prior to that game.
  • Bayonetta 2 revisits the character of Father Balder and the prologue starts by showing him dying...completely dignified and thanking his daughter, which should already tell you he was more complex than it appeared in the first game. Later shown to be his release from the Demonic Possession of Loptr-before he had to contain Loptr's soul, he was actually a pretty decent person.
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock 2 introduces Sofia Lamb, who is not only the collectivist foil to objectivist Andrew Ryan but also his first true rival in Rapture before Fontaine. She is established as the reason that Ryan started all the imprisonments and executions in the first place, and why he cracked down on Fontaine so viciously, as he didn't want a repeat of Lamb.
      • The player character is an Alpha Series Big Daddy (the first Alpha Series), Super Prototypes that were made before the other Big Daddies. Why does the player character in the first game never encounter them? They're all dead or insane from losing their Little Sisters, which is why the weaker Big Daddy models were used instead, because they don't have such a strong attachment.
    • BioShock Infinite's Daisy Fitzroy is presented as a violent revolutionary no better than the despot she wishes to overthrow, and is even prepared to murder the children of her enemies. Burial at Sea reveals that she was deeply conflicted about the violence that her movement created and that she knew that her (empty) threat to kill a child would ultimately lead to her own death; she was actually quite disturbed by even being told to make the threat, and she went through with it only because she knew that her own death would eventually allow for the downfall of the Big Bad.
  • The major Reveal of Bravely Default is that activating all four crystals is bad, because it summons the Holy Pillar in this universe and creates a connected Great Chasm in the next one. In the sequel, Bravely Second, Tiz mentions that this is not the normal function of crystals, and only by overcharging them until they "go wild" will the aforementioned spoiler occur. The real function of crystal vestals, then, is to keep the crystals at a not-previously-mentioned lower level of power which has more mundanely beneficial effects.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (being a prequel) is an entire game full of this to the original Deus Ex.
  • Dragon Quest III reveals the ancestor of the hero of Dragon Quest wasn't originally from Alefgard, but did travel through Alefgard on foot and by sea with three other adventurers, wielding a sword that could cast spells, fighting monsters more powerful than anything the hero would encounter until defeating something far worse than the Dragon Lord, and so the Dragon Lord is not the greatest threat the land has ever faced, but don't stay focused on the past.
  • Up until The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the in-universe historical writings that make up most of Tamriel's lore considered St. Alessia to have been the first Dragonborn (a mortal given the soul and powers of a dragon and the plot device which the legitimacy of the prior lines of Emperors and the main quest of Skyrim depends on). Then the DLC Dragonborn introduced the actual first Dragonborn from the time Dragons ruled Men... so long ago that the only knowledge available to modern historians are artefacts, fragments of myth and oral tradition in a few isolated groups.
  • In Halo, the position of Arbiter has been expanded greatly upon since its introduction in Halo 2, where it was simply described as being the Covenant's most elite enforcer, albeit one who is expected to die on the job. Later media clarified that the position is largely reserved for decorated Sangheili who nonetheless committed a major crime or "heresy" that they had to make up for with their lives. Even later, both Halo Legends and the Halo 2: Anniversary terminals revealed that the role of Arbiter not only predates the formation of the Covenant, but that it used to be a wholly esteemed rank until Arbiter Fal 'Chavamee committed heresy and turned it into the badge of both shame and respect that we see in Halo 2 and Halo Wars.
  • Hoo boy, where do we start with Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance? It turns out Ansem's/Xehanort's Heartless' actions in the first game, such as making Maleficent gather the Seven Princesses of Heart were to facilitate the recreation of the X-Blade, rather than obtain Kingdom Hearts, Xemnas founding Organization XIII was not to obtain hearts of their own while keeping their bodily will, but to turn them into vessels for Xehanort's heart for again, the X-Blade. Have we mentioned that Xemnas lied to them about their nature as emotionless, heart-lacking beings and that they could eventually grow new ones? Oh, again in the first game, that Brown Robed guy who was "Ansem" you met in Destiny Islands? He is not the Ansem from that instance of time, rather, he time travelled to the past the moment he got word from Xemnas that his task isn't doing so well due to the Organization's members' independence (he originally came from 10 years ago from the events of Kingdom Hearts) making a pitstop to visit his younger, human self to get him gather 13 incarnations of Xehanort throughout time as a backup plan, before traveling into the future setting his sights on Sora and Riku.
  • In some ways, Knights of the Old Republic 2 takes this attitude towards the original game. The Mandalorian Wars, Jedi Civil War, and Revan's capture and return all happened, but the motivations and goals of most of the major players are called into question. Star Wars: The Old Republic, set a few hundred years later, adds another layer of this onto both previous games (for instance, suggesting that Palpatine was responsible for Revan and Malak's fall to the Dark Side, the cause of which was never established). It can get a little confusing, especially since few of the narrators have any pressing reason to tell the truth.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 does this to several events mentioned or shown in the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, thanks to Time Travel:
    • In the original Blood Omen, it's hinted that Malek failed to reach the Circle of Nine in time during Vorador's attack because he was busy carousing. Here, it's revealed that he was helping Moebius detain Raziel and wanted to rush off to help them right away, but Moebius refused to let him do so until Raziel took up the physical Reaver.
    • In regards to Vorador's attack on the Circle, it was initially stated that said attack was motivated by Vorador's outrage at the slaughter of his race, and the Circle's support of the Sarafan's crusades. Here, he's given another motive: the death of his sire, Janos Audron.
    • The game expands upon how Kain was able to kill William the Just and rewrite history despite making it clear in this game that history is supposed to be immutable. As it turns out, Moebius ensured that both Kain and William were armed with different incarnations of the Soul Reaver, which triggered a temporal distortion allowing for history's alteration.
  • In Mass Effect 2 its revealed that Tali'Zorah has been nurturing a crush on the Male Commander Shepard since the events of the first game. Naturally everyone onboard the Normandy already knew.
    • Also a hint of it towards Fem!Shep, but it goes nowhere.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is able to pull this off. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the Patriots were apparently a bunch of long-dead men and "the collective consciousness" of the White House who controlled America via viruses, trickery, and artificial intelligences, and wanted total information control of the Earth to "save society from itself" and might have launched the ultimate Shadow Dictator ship to do this, but were stopped. It makes a lot less sense in context. However, it's revealed the "collective consciousness" was an overblown metaphor for AIs, who were originally supposed to simply guide governments away from war and towards peace. They went berserk (though it is hinted it was more in the manner of a programming bug rather than they suddenly gaining sentience) and decided that the best way to obtain peace was total control of the populace. Great job on the scriptwriters for being able to subvert the Gainax Ending of MGS2. Oh, and Vamp isn't an actual vampire.
    • Done to a more subtle degree between Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, reaching its apex in Metal Gear Solid. The events of Metal Gear were very 'video-gamey' - while there was a clever plot twist which was mindblowing at the time (a subversion of the Exposition Fairy where they were actually aiming to confuse and harass you), there wasn't anything close to Character Development. Metal Gear 2 began to give Snake some personal trauma, and by Solid, in order for the plot to make any sense, we must believe that the (near-plotless to our eyes) Metal Gear was, in fact, an epic war drama full of blood and terror and Heroic BSoD and Luke, I Am Your Father. It actually works very well (and is a heaven for Fix Fic writers) - until you actually replay Metal Gear. Then...
  • In Modern Warfare 3, Yuri is shown to have played a background role during several key events in the Modern Warfare timeline. He is first seen during the nuke deal held in the "One Shot, One Kill" mission from the first game (where he and Vladimir Makarov are the ones who drive the injured Imran Zakhaev to safety), as well as being present when Makarov (standing in Khaled Al-Asad's safehouse) detonates the nuke in the "Shock And Awe" mission. He is then revealed to have been present during the "No Russian" mission from the second game - Makarov shoots him in the stomach before he, Private Allen and the other Ultranationalists massacre the civilians in the airport. Yuri makes it to the lobby and witnesses the aftermath of the massacre before collapsing and being treated by paramedics. These are cleaned up in the remastered campaigns of the first and second games, where he is placed into the scenes that the third game flashes back to (along with Makarov during “One Shot, One Kill”).
  • Actually seen to change in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Playing Sonic 3 alone, at the end of the game, the Death Egg gets destroyed and you saved the day. Playing the game locked-on to Sonic & Knuckles in one run-through however will show the Death Egg not exploding like it did in Sonic 3 alone playthrough, it merely crash lands. You then go after it for the remainder of the game. A by product of the splitting up of the game into two games.
    • The ROM hack Sonic 3 Complete features a slightly Revised Ending in light of this — when you play the original Sonic 3 through this hack, when the screen flashes white during the ending, the Death Egg doesn't disappear and continues to fall in the background (the only thing flash serves to do is to remove the Heads-Up Display, as it did in the unaltered Sonic 3). There's also a "To Be Continued" screen added after the credits depicting the Death Egg crashing into the volcano (as seen in the title screen of Sonic & Knuckles).
  • Quite common in the Warcraft universe, probably slightly outnumbering outright retcons. The most famous one would be the orcs' shamanic heritage, though as they've continued fleshing that out details can get a little inconsistent.
    • Even that has been All There in the Manual since the second game, and since in the first they didn't even mention there were races other than humans on Azeroth it wasn't much of a stretch.
    • Probably the biggest revision is the geography of Azeroth itself. In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, the fighting took place between the humans of what is now called Stormwind and the orcish invaders, with no mention made of lands and races outside those borders; in the modern era the world has four more continents (not counting Outland) and at least a dozen major civilization-building species, built up in a half-dozen rounds of writing in new parts of the world that had never been shown but never conclusively denied either.
  • Done in Portal, with a new achievement and a patch to change the game ending. The whole point is to set up Portal 2.

    Web Comics 
  • Done in El Goonish Shive, with the background character of the Shy Girl being merged with the minor character Rhoda.
    • One background character was originally drawn with a ridiculous number of pockets on his jacket, which Dan Shive only did because he thought it would look funny and he had no plans to develop the character. Later, when Dan choose the character to play a larger role in the story, it was revealed that the character, Sam, is trans and in a bit of accidental Fridge Brilliance and foreshadowing, wearing a jacket with a large number of bulging pockets was to help disguise the fact he had a female figure.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time does this twice with the Ice King. "Holly Jolly Secrets" details his backstory, as well as providing an explanation for his constant Aesop Amnesia, while "I Remember You" reveals he played a major role in the backstory of another major character (and giving an explanation for part of said character's behavior in their introductory episode).
  • If the major and most of the minor retcons made within the Ben 10 multi-series don't fall under this, they eventually will. The writers have an uncanny ability to bring up plot points established earlier and reshape them to make sense. (i.e, why Kevin changed between the first and second series, how Gwen was able to adapt to magic so easily, etc.) A significant example is Ultimate Alien's "Moonstruck", which brings up small story elements taken from both previous series.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse looks to be doing this as well, though they're doing it in such a manner that they're showing some of Ben's adventures pre-timeskip.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Nearly every instancenote  of one of the mane cast having a sibling is one of these. In particular, the season 2 finale introduced Twilight's older brother, who had never been seen or mentioned before that point.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars did this quite nicely: The revelation of Tarantulas's true loyalties in "The Agenda" is a particularly well-done example. It contradicted nothing, fit in seamlessly, and added another layer to both the plot and the character. Of course, even that wasn't the whole truth - fans Running the Asylum took a couple of minor references made in-passing during the series and turned them into a whole new layer of backstory for Tarantulas.


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