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Schizo Continuity

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When two or more works, be they books, movies or comics or two completely different media altogether, exist in Shared Universe or Expanded Universe, you are expecting them to be bound to the rules that come with this fact - when something big, involving all known worlds happens, you are expecting this event to be referred to in several titles. For example, when somebody dies in one work, he wouldn't appear in another, and internal rules like magic apply no matter which work you are reading, watching, playing, or listening to.

Well, this isn't always the case. Maybe the writer decided that Canon Welding was a bad idea in retrospect. Or he/she didn't want to feel limited by what happened in another title. As well as the possibility of the writer wanting to take the works in a different direction, or that the writer was afraid being too continuity-heavy would discourage assorted potential readers. Whatever the reason may have been, the writer doesn't really act like the titles currently are in one continuity.

In order to avoid several kinds of problems that could come from not sticking to one continuity, some writers may decide to announce that two or more works are still in continuity and are not, from a certain point of view.

There are a few varieties of this trope:

  • One-Sided Continuity: Work A is in continuity with Work B, but Work B is not in continuity with Work A. So works from one title are still canonical and its characters may show up in the other, but not the opposite. It might be explained that characters from Work A exist in their own, separated world, and Work B is an Alternate Universe, where their counterparts exist, but their adventures may go different ways and they may meet characters that may not even exist in the title they originate from.
    • Alternate Timeline Continuity: Work A was always in Alternate Continuity for Work B, but the timelines were identical until a certain point, at which point they diverged. Sub-Variant of One-Sided Continuity, chances are, this will be used either when two or more titles start going in two or more different ways, or in case at least one of them is set in a different time from others. Going from this, it would be that one or more of the works happening later on the timeline are a possible future and things don't have to turn out like they did in it.
  • Bait-And-Switch Continuity: Work A and Work B don't take place in one continuity, unless said otherwise. In other words, two titles have their own, separate settings, but whenever the writer wants to, they can meet and the crossover in question will act as if and were always set in one continuity. Canon Welding is however averted, because once the Crossover is over, assorted characters act like it never happened. Needless to say, this is can be extremely jarring for more continuity interested fans, who wouldn't accept that and will try to explain how two titles can exist in one world, even if several works aside from crossovers contradicts that.
  • Divorced Continuity: Work A and Work B existed in the same world, but something split it in two. This variant is similar to Alternate Timeline, but there was an event in-universe that had resulted in separating two worlds - all the history from one work has been removed from the history of another and vice versa, the characters never existed in one world and nobody remembers them as their stories exist and always existed separately. Alternatively, in order to avoid creating Continuity Snarl, Expies are created to fill the roles of deleted characters.

Compare and contrast Canon Discontinuity, Alternate Timeline and The Multiverse, Exiled from Continuity and Canon Welding

Examples of One-Sided Continuity:

  • This type of continuity is extremely common for tie-ins of major television series or films (and to a lesser extent, other media like video games or cartoons). Spinoffs or followups to the main series almost never get referenced in the main series despite supposedly being set in the same universe. For example, all the television shows, comics, and licensed video games stated to be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe never get explicitly mentioned in any of the films, with a few implied nods at best. This could be considered an Enforced Trope for the simple reason that it would get confusing for the audience if they needed to scour through three or four different media to understand the plot of just one.
  • The My Little Pony G4 cartoons, Friendship Is Magic and Equestria Girls. They share the same characters and the same writing staff, and these writers have insisted that the events of Equestria Girls actually are canon to Friendship Is Magic. But the character arc in EQG is completely dependent on a big event from FIM season three, while FIM's only reference to EQG have been a few blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos. So even though EQG is technically canon, it's totally ignorable for the fans who are so inclined.
    • This also extends to the comics. The events of the cartoon have happened, mostly, but the comics have yet to be referenced in the cartoon, with a few episodes strongly implying that the comic stories haven't happened, and members of the staff have said the comics won't affect or be referenced in the show.
  • Disney comics in general — Broad Strokes versions of most of the Walt Disney Classics exist within the comic universenote , but don't expect to see any anthropomorphic characters in sequels and merchandise for these.
  • Star Wars and its Expanded Universe had this relationship under George Lucas: the movies and Star Wars: The Clone Wars were in canon with all books, comics and games, but Lucas refused to acknowledge the opposite and contradicted them on a regular basis (a big one being that most works written prior to the prequel trilogy assumed that the Clone Wars and the Jedi Purge had been two separate conflicts that took place about twenty years apart, causing any number of Continuity Snarls). In 2014, new owners Disney roped off all previous material other than the then-six films and The Clone Wars as "Star Wars Legends", and declared that all subsequent Star Wars Expanded Universe material would be considered official canon, though contradictions have crept in anyway over time.
  • Ditto for Star Trek. The TV series and movies are considered canon by the novels and comics, but not vice versa. Unlike the Star Wars Expanded Universe, however, Trek's various comic series and individual novels were not considered in canon with one another, until Star Wars popularized the idea in the 2000's and Trek followed suit with its novels. note 
  • Involving the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The connection with Sony's Spider-Man Universe has always been messy, as Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man characters, but made the MCU films Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home in conjunction with Marvel Studios.
      • While Marvel has specifically stated that Venom (2018), starring a popular Spider-Man opponent, is not in continuity with their shared universe, Sony has made comments implying that they are. (Or at least, in continuity with Homecoming, which is too connected to other MCU films to easily write them off.)
      • The third MCU film, Spider-Man: No Way Home, finally solidified that the MCU and SSU are separate continuities, but that they are connected with each other (along with the Spider-Man Trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man Series) as different universes in a shared multiverse. They would later reinforce this with yet another film series, Spider-Man: Spider-Verse, which connects several Spider-Man continuities including all four film series (five including itself).
      • Even with No Way Home establishing the multiverse, there are still one-sided aspects with Sony making references to the MCU in both the SSU and Spider-Verse that aren't reciprocated. The Stinger of Morbius (2022) even has the Vulture Transplanted from the MCU to the SSU, something that the Marvel films are unlikely to ever acknowledge.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. became an example of the Alternate Timeline as of its last seasons. Seasons one through five kept right in line with the MCU right up to Avengers: Infinity War. But then the show received a surprise renewal for two more seasons and could not account for the end of Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame (either the staff was not appraised of what was happening in the films, or could not risk the possibility of spoiling Endgame). As a result, the end of Infinity War just... never happened; and the staff claimed that the final seasons were being retconned into occurring before Infinity War (despite the fact that season five established that it ended as the film began, and that the later seasons included a couple years of Time Skips). This isn't as problematic as it could be, however, given that both the movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have featured the concept of the Quantum Realm connecting alternate timelines. Season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. opened with the team taking a trip to a Bad Future, so according to the established rules of the MCU multiverse, everything after Season 4 could take place in an alternate continuity.
    • In a rare example of one-sided continuity where the original media is the one that maintains it, Marvel Comics considers all Marvel media to be part of the same Multiverse, with the MCU being Earth-1999999. The MCU disagrees, numbering the Sacred Timeline as Earth-616 of its own multiverse, introducing their own version of the Time Variance Authority (who are supposed to be pan-universal) in Loki, and claiming that their America Chavez has no Alternate Selves in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. (And just to complicate the MCU's relationship with Sony's films, Spider-Man: Spider-Verse takes the comics' side and uses their ID numbers.)
  • Batman Film Series: According to Word of God, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns take place on Earth-89 while Batman Forever and Batman & Robin take place on Earth-97. In Batman Forever Chase Meridian asked Batman if she needed "skin-tight vinyl and a whip" to get his attention, suggesting that the events of the first two movies happened in Earth-97, but the events of the second two did not happen on Earth-89.
  • For the Gundam franchise, only the animated works are considered part of the various continuities, and works such as the novels written by Gundam's creator Yoshiki Tomino are not acknowledged as part of the continuities of the shows (till they get animated, at least). This especially includes Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam, despite it also being written by Tomino.
  • Acrobat had been a part of Heroes Unite until the former's creator announced that his characters appearing in latter and related titles are not the originals, but their alternate counterparts.
  • Sugar Bits and Everafter had a crossover within the pages of the former, but Bleedman has let the latter's creator decide if he wants them to share The 'Verse. It's hard to ignore all pages with Red and Big Bad Wolf in Sugar Bits, so it's safe to say that Everafter exists in the Sugar Bits world, but the opposite may be not true.
  • Mindmistress and Zebra Girl were established as existing in one Universe, but Word of God from the creator of Mindmistress is that the Zebra Girl from her world may not be the original one, but an alternate version.
  • In similar manner, two webcomics that established a large Multiverse do it: The Crossoverlord and Crossoverkill both portray The Order of the Stick as existing in that multiverse, but Word of God says that unless Rich Burlew will agree with that, it's only "one of many worlds working on similar rules and laws physics as The Order of the Stick". In general, Canon Welding done by the two series may result in this if creators of comics dragged into The Multiverse don't want them to.
  • Word of God states that The Witcher games are just one possible future for The Witcher book series. This is in case Sapkowski would want to write a sequel to the series, and so he wouldn't have to reference the games.
  • Word of God has said that the Resident Evil (2022) series is not canon to the games; however, the games (up to 5) are canon to the series. The Broad Strokes used to paint the lore and background meant there were many inconsistencies between the series and the games that were canon to it. This has led to the conclusion that the series is better labelled as Resident Evil In Name Only.
  • The Discworld Roleplaying Game outright states (in the sidebar "Officially Unofficial") that it is written to at least not contradict anything in the Discworld novels, but the books were under no compunction to be in continuity with the game. (The second edition had to tweak a few things based on later novels, most notably that the adventure "Full Court Press" made some assumptions about how refuse collection in Ankh-Morpork worked that were completely contradicted by the introduction of Harry King.)
  • Mad About You revealed that Paul sublet his old apartment to Kramer from Seinfeld, and that Jerry lived in his apartment before Kramer moved into his. On Seinfeld George and Susan are seen watching Mad About You on T.V. and it was established that Kramer lived in his apartment before Jerry moved into his.

Examples of Alternate Timeline Continuity:

  • The second-edition Trinity Continuum settings work this way, because they're six games and counting (seven if you include the corebook setting) set in separate time periods of the same universe, but the decision was made to not have a set future for any individual game. As a result, if you're playing in a chronologically later game, then the earlier games are considered canon, but if you're playing an earlier game, later games are only "possible futures" and nothing is canon past the start date. This also ties into how one of the major superhuman characters of the continuum is said to have traveled many different timelines.
  • Grim Tales from Down Below is said by Bleedman to be only a possible Bad Future for his other webcomic, Power Puff Girls Doujinshi.
  • Happened with two popular Warhammer 40,000 fan fictions - in The Age of Dusk the Necrons unleash a devastating attack on the Tau, almost destroying their empire and entire race, in order to prevent the possible future known as Rise Of Tau from happening.
  • Arguably the case between Titans and Doom Patrol (2019). The Doom Patrol were introduced on Titans as the group that helped raise Beast Boy. The Spin-Off has most of the actors from that episode reprise their roles, but the story presented doesn't really allow for the possibility that Beast Boy was part of the group, along with everyone being even weirder and angstier than they were before, and some of the actors and showrunners made statements in interviews that the two shows weren't in continuity with each other. The Titans episode also had no reference to Crazy Jane, who's a core member of the Doom Patrol in Doom Patrol. A view of the Multiverse in the Arrowverse Crisis Crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths gives different universe numbers to the two shows.
  • Similarly Superman & Lois stars the actors who played the titular characters in the Arrowverse, but it quickly becomes clear that this Superman doesn't have a cousin called Supergirl who provides a tangible connection to Krypton, and Season 2 outright states that there are no powered heroes on Earth except Clark, although Sam Lane is aware of alternate universes where this isn't the case. Which doesn't stop them being part of the John Diggle Cross Through.

Examples of Bait-And-Switch Continuity:

  • Image Comics operates on this rule - their comics exist in one world only when crossovers take place and events from one series may be referenced in another only if the creators wish it. It's especially visible in Invincible #60 — comics that featured appearances of probably every single Image Comics hero aside from Bomb Queen and you won't find a single reference to those events (including the destruction of several cities) anywhere but in Invincible and The Astounding Wolf-Man.
  • Akira Toriyama's Dr. Slump had a tendency towards Negative Continuity where Arale could split the world in half and have everything back to normal by the next chapter. His following series Dragon Ball actually featured the cast of Dr. Slump in one of the storylines, despite much of Slump's logic or continuity (or lack thereof) making little to no sense in the context of Dragon Ball, the whole encounter playing off almost as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment to anyone not familiar with his original series.
  • Most inter-company comic book crossovers worked like this until 1996's DC Versus Marvel. Prior to that miniseries, when Superman met Spider-Man, the Teen Titans met the X-Men, or Gen13 met Spider-Man, the assumption for the duration of those stories was that the two characters had always been part of the same universe and had simply never met before. Since DC Versus Marvel, such crossovers have been much more likely to involve parallel universes.
  • The Simpsons has had crossovers with The Critic (downplayed in that the only elements from that show to appear are Jay Sherman himself — whose character design was tweaked to fit in with The Simpsons — and Coming Attractions), Family Guy (which poked fun at their different art styles a few times), and Futurama (which ignored the obvious skin color differences despite the two shows having the same art style), but since the show mostly runs on Negative Continuity, they leave little impact on the show itself (with the notable exception of a deactivated Bender appearing briefly in "Cue Detective"). Notably, characters from both shows made a few cameo appearances in each other before their crossover episode, but they're just in the service of throwaway gags, and the crossover episode itself depicts them as never having met before. There was also an episode of Futurama when the team found a Bart Simpson toy on a garbage asteroid.
  • Each season of Super Sentai and Kamen Rider is largely standalone, but whenever there's a crossover all bets are off. What makes things confusing is that sometimes the two series/seasons are explicitly crossing between Alternate Universes to meet each other (Kamen Rider Decade is the most obvious example), but sometimes they act as if they share a world even when their settings are completely incompatible (for example, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, set in modern Japan, saw an out-of-nowhere cameo by Lucky of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger when Kyuranger is a far-future Space Opera where most of the universe (Earth included) has been under oppression for hundreds of years).
    • Kamen Rider seemed to vaguely have a Shared Universe in place for most of the Heisei era (2000-2019), with past Riders existing but staying out of "Gotham" for one reason or another (often that their own series ended with them losing or sealing away their powers). Kabuto and Build are exceptions, explicitly put in their own separate universes because both of them had major disasters in their backstoriesnote  that other series couldn't just Hand Wave away. Zi-O ended with the main character nearly causing a Time Crash by merging all 20 Heisei universes together, then putting them all back in their own universes just in time for the Reiwa era.

Examples of Divorced Continuity:

  • Image Comics separated their original universe into a bunch of lesser ones in the Shattered Image event. Since then, each sub-publisher has its own universe that coexists with others in Bait-And-Switch continuity, with the exception of the WildStorm universe, which was bought by DC Comics, and Rob Liefeld's universe, for the period of time that he left Image.
  • Dallas and its Spin-Off, Knots Landing, split up over Bobby's fate on the parent show. Bobby's brother Gary was the main character on Knots Landing; naturally the death affects him, and later in the season he names his new son after Bobby. Infamously, Dallas would later Retcon an entire previous season, including Bobby's death, as All Just a Dream. Bobby remained dead in Knots Landing, however, and the shows never crossed over again.
  • Both Syllables was a popular fanfic series with a few Recursive Fics, including Policy of Truth. Eventually the main series was abandoned and taken down from the internet. At that point Policy of Truth's author decided to take the story (and later, its sequel) in a different direction by introducing Zim and Tak. Both Syllables also established Dib's full name as "Dilbert Putchel," while PoT went with the now-canonical "Dib Membrane."

Examples of a Mixed Approach:

  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe is generally in One-Sided Continuity with the televised Whoniverse, barring occasional throwaway references (the most prominent being the Eighth Doctor listing all his Big Finish Audio companions in "The Night of the Doctor") and the inclusion of concepts in the revival seasons that were first introduced in expanded media (e.g. a TARDIS dying when its pilot does, the Doctor telling the year by smelling the air, the Doctor being able to erase memories, etc.). The relationship of the various spin-off media to each other is ... confused, often being split not even by series, but by author, so if, for instance, Author A believes that the Eighth Doctor Adventures and Big Finish Doctor Who are in continuity with each other, they would write for both series accordingly, while if Author B believes they're alternate timelines, they would do likewise. (This does not stop the EDAs by both authors being in continuity with each other, of course.) The official position of both companies is simply one big Shrug of God. Similarly, the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip went through a period of being in continuity with the Doctor Who New Adventures, then firmly decided it wasn't. It's also sometimes been in continuity with the Marvel Universe, although that can probably be explained away by the Doctor jumping universes on occasion.