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Schrödinger's Canon

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So, you've got a work with an impressive Expanded Universe, lots of cool and interesting characters, events, places, and things, and new supplementary creators coming in and out all the time adding more and more awesome toys to the pile. But the primary creator is still working on the work in its primary medium, and is under no obligation whatsoever to include these extra bits in the next main installment. They may not even be aware they all exist. In really large and ill-overseen Expanded Universes, even bits of the expanded material may be self-contradictory. Two characters who got on great in the main story may become romantically involved in a comic, while in a novel they grow distant, while in a video game they just remain friends. Which, if any, "actually" happened? We'll have to wait until the next primary installment to see.


That's Schrodinger's Canon. Officially licensed and created works taking place within the same 'Verse as another work, tying in with its events and characters, and intended to be actually canonical at some level, but whose actual canonicity is in question until the next installment of the main work in its primary medium is released. The events, people, places, etc. exist in creative superposition, both canonical and not canonical until the main work acknowledges them as one or the other.

It is not Fanon, which is speculations by the audience. Nor is it Alternate Universe, where stories are specifically written with an intentional "What If?" bent (though Schrodinger's Canon "observed" to be false may be shunted into an Alternate Universe). It is not Shrug of God, where creators decline to give clear-cut answers, either to preserve mystery or because they don't know yet themselves. Rather, it's when actual, intended-to-be canonical works may or may not be canonical until the main work confirms or denies them.


Similar, but distinct, from Loose Canon, which is largely independent from the main work in its primary medium and has no issue fitting within the main timeline anyway, but its canon status is considered unclear due to its mostly standalone nature. Canon Discontinuity is what happens when canonicity set up in the main work is ignored by the main work itself, or when particularly popular pieces of Schrodinger's Canon are observed false. Ascended Fanon is what happens when Fanon becomes Schrodinger's Canon that is then observed true. Finally, Canon Immigrant is what happens when a particularly popular character (and character only) from a "lesser-canonical" work migrates into the main work in its primary medium. Compare Filler and Pseudocanonical Fic.

Do not confuse for Canon Marches On, where supplementary material is definitely contradicted and rendered non-canon by a later installment of the main series. Compare Broad Strokes, where only some details of a previous work or event end up becoming part of the actual canon later.


Examples (sorted by medium of main continuity):

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    Star Wars 
  • Star Wars and its Expanded Universe(s) are the Trope Codifier. When Disney bought Lucasfilm and moved forward with their sequel trilogy of Star Wars films, the decision was made to remove all previously-made Expanded Universe material (except The Clone Wars and the 6 theatrical Star Wars films) from official canonicity. However, a great many things from the old EU have served as inspiration for people working on canonical projects within the new continuity, including the new Expanded Universe novels, comics, etc. As such, the canonicity of any place, person, event, item, alien race, and so on from the old continuity is in an undetermined state until the new films (or new EU) either pulls it in from the old EU or dismisses it completely. Some elements from the expanded universe have been "observed true" as early as The Phantom Menace: Timothy Zahn originally named the Capital World of the Empire and Republic before it Coruscant, and Kevin J. Anderson originally created the double-bladed lightsaber. Other elements were "observed false", mostly anything relating to how the Clone Wars actually played out. Many more are still either/or.
    • The franchise's Canon Immigrant page has a long list of many things originating in the Legends continuity that have been brought back. Many of the locations, in particular, are only known at the moment as names on a map, with fans left to assume that these worlds are much as they were in Legends unless otherwise contradicted. In addition, several of these astronomical objects can be assumed to be in the same place in the galaxy in both continuities, but aren't in the same region of space thanks to redefined boundaries.
    • Hints in reference books and other sources indicate that galactic history before the era of the prequel trilogy went to some degree the same way it was outlined in Legends. There have been mentions of ancient wars like the Hundred-Year Darkness that come straight from Legends.
    • At least one character from the old post-Jedi Expanded Universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn, along with the rank, uniform, and (with modifications from the original description) his race, now falls under "observed true" with his addition to Rebels. The novel Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn, reestablished large parts of his original backstory as well.
    • Knights of the Old Republic fell into this because Star Wars: The Old Republic is a MMORPG still running as of 2020, thus being the final authorized Legends work of fiction in active production despite the Disney ruling (and the fact it's so far back in the timeline as to not directly affect the new films). There have been several easter eggs referencing the game's setting, but no direct word about its canon status.
  • Rogue One:
    • When Cassian and his informant are interrupted by stormtroopers, one of the troops asks to "see some scandocs". "Scandoc" was a term used widely in the Star Wars d6 role-playing game.
    • The film also observes false a small but important piece of trivia from the Legends continuity. Imperial-class Star Destroyers were incapable of entering a planet's atmosphere, and so had no repulsorlift drives (only useful for pressing against planets' gravity wells). Smaller ships, like the Victory-class Star Destroyer, were needed if enemy forces needed to be pursued lower than high orbit. Rogue One shows an Imperial-class Star Destroyer hovering casually over Jedha City.
  • Solo:
    • Solo renders two parts of Han's Legends backstory from The Han Solo Trilogy canon, in that he's been living on the streets and running scams since childhood, and he enlisted to become a pilot in the Imperial Starfleet for some time before deserting to become a smuggler instead. (The movie does change the precise circumstances of his departure from Corellia significantly, however.)
    • The planet Mimban originally appeared in Splinter of the Mind's Eye, arguably the first Legends work. However, because of the perspective we see it from and the brief time the plot spends there, it's unclear just how similar it is to the earlier version (though it is foggy and swampy, two things the book version had in abundance).
    • Qi'ra mentions being trained in Teräs Käsi, a martial art prominent in Legends continuity. The particularly eagle-eyed and informed will immediately raise an eyebrow that Qi'ra can use it, will understand L3's shock, and will not be quite as surprised at a later reveal and by how Qi'ra "can't leave Crimson Dawn behind".
    • While very different, the Maw has also been recanonized (albeit as one large black hole in a nearly-unnavigable nebula, instead of a large cluster of black holes).
    • The Falcon's designation as a YT-1300 transport, and that it's a Corellian design, is first mentioned onscreen here. It had been known as such for decades in Legends, but this is the first time it's been said on-screen.
    • Similarly, Corellia's capital is mentioned to be Coronet, as established in Star Wars: Galaxies.
    • Enfys Nest is the leader of the Cloud-Riders, a Swoop gang which first appeared in the original Star Wars (Marvel 1977) comics.
    • Word of God states that a desk seen in one scene was made from stone from the temple of Exar Kun.
    • The Mandalorian armor visible in Dryden’s office is that of a Rally Master.
  • The Rise of Skywalker:
    • Transfer Essence/Essence Transfer/Force Drain/Dark Transfer (and a few other names besides) has been a prominent Force power in Legends continuity, despite a lack of Force healing abilities depicted onscreen (until now). Interestingly, the film shows two variations of it while strongly hinting at a third:
      • Rey (and later Ben) use the "Light Side" version, healing another being by investing it with their own Force energy.
      • Palpatine uses a "Dark Side" version, draining the life force from Rey and Ben (and, it's implied, their Force Bond) in order to fully restore himself from his Dark Lord on Life Support state.
      • Finally, it's implied Palpatine used a variation of the trick which was shown in Dark Empire, transferring his consciousness, essence, "soul" (if he still has one) from his dying body to a new cloned body.
    • Palpatine telling Rey that if she strikes him down in anger, he'll be open to possess her body, using it to prolong his own life. Darth Bane learned the secret of immortality via Grand Theft Me after founding the Rule of Two, and attempted to use it on his apprentice when they fought for the future of the at-the-time new Sith. The novel leaves it a tad ambiguous on if Bane was successful at possessing Zannah, though Word of God clarified that he wasn't. Regardless, some fans extrapolated this to mean that all the Sith Lords up to Palpatine were actually Bane in different bodies. Such an interpretation applied to the later film means Palpatine's claim to be "all the Sith" is Not Hyperbole.
  • The Mandalorian:
    • Beskar, or "Mandalorian Iron," was half the reason Mandalorians were so fearsome in the Legends continuity, giving them armor which could resist even lightsaber strikes (which is also confirmed in season 2). Some of the first words spoken to The Mandalorian in the series are to ask if his armor is genuine beskar steel. Many Mandalorians in Legends had to make do with armor made from conventional materials, as true Mandalorian iron became increasingly difficult to come by.
      • Interestingly, Boba Fett’s armor was made of Durasteel in Legends, which is observed false in Canon: it’s stated to be made of Beskar, hence why Din Djarin took it from Cobb Vanth and initially denied it to Boba himself.
      • This also observes true Mando'a, the Mandalorian language.
    • Mythosaurs were first introduced in Legends before being re-canonized here.
    • The mythrol in the first episode tells the Mandalorian that he's heading home to visit his family for Life Day.
    • The portable carbonite freezing devices return from The Old Republic MMO. It was a staple of the Bounty Hunter's campaign to prevent every capture mission from being an escort mission.
    • Mando's rifle bears a striking resemblance in performance to the Tenloss DXR-6 Disruptor Rifle from the Dark Forces Saga, being slow-firing (in the show because it has to be manually loaded with shells, in the game because it had to charge up to full power), scoped for exceptional long-range accuracy, and being a One-Hit Kill Disintegrator Ray.
    • Cara mentions mopping up "Imperial warlords" after the Battle of Endor. In Legends, Imperial Warlords of a surprisingly wide variety of stripes were the antagonists pretty much up until the New Jedi Order.
    • The E-Web Repeating Blaster was first seen in The Empire Strikes Back, named in Legends, and has its name spoken in the new canon here.
    • Incinerator Stormtroopers from The Force Unleashed are re-canonized in Chapter 8.
    • The Mandalorians shown in the series follow the Legends concept of the Resol'nare pretty closely. They wear Mandalorian armor (to the point of not removing their helmets around others). They defend themselves, each other, and their family (the Central Theme of the show is the Mandalorian protecting the Child). Raising children, especially foundlings, in the ways of Mandalorian culture are repeatedly stressed as very important. And the Mandalorian himself is out in the galaxy specifically to bring in money to support the Tribe. The two tenets of Resol'nare that are not alluded to are speaking Mando'a and answering the call of Mand'alor, though the Armorer could be seen as the closest to Mand'alor to still exist, and when she speaks, everyone else shuts up and listens. The concept itself is heavily hinted at, as the Armorer offhandedly alludes to somebody named Mandalore the Great, while Bo-Katan mentions restoring the true Mandalore to power as one of her goals.
    • They're way too big to make serviceable lightsaber crystals, but Krayt Dragon Pearls are confirmed to exist.
    • In "The Seige," the Mythrol is commanded a few times to "slice" things in the Imperial base. "Slicing" is Star Wars Legends vernacular for "hacking."
    • Chapter 14 finally recanonizes Jango Fett's old Legends backstory; as confirmed by Boba Fett, Jango was indeed the foundling of Jaster Mareel and fought against Deathwatch in the Mandalorian Civil War, with the implication that his overall history is broadly the same as it was Legends. For that matter, Boba Fett surviving the sarlacc was first established in Legends.
    • Dark Troopers, originally from the Dark Forces Saga, appear in Chapter 14.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars occupies an interesting slot. At its inception, it was EU canon, though the highest tier of EU canon. As such, it was free to incorporate, modify, or ignore lower-tier EU works. After the Disney buyout, all EU material except The Clone Wars and the 6 then-existing Star Wars films were declared Legends, meaning The Clone Wars retroactively observed true, false, or both many aspects of Legends for the new Star Wars canon.
    • Notably, Ryloth had long been the homeworld of the Twi'leks, and this, along with some of their Proud Warrior Race aspects from the X-Wing novels, were observed true. However, Ryloth in Legends is tidally locked, one side permanent scorching day, the other side permanent frozen night, and only the small band of twilight at the terminator comfortably habitable. Ryloth in The Clone Wars seems to have a normal day-night cycle.
    • Lightsaber crystals had long been an important part of Legends, and are the focus of the younglings arc, now renamed kyber crystals.
    • The Nightsisters of Dathomir were prominent villains in some Legends works, before appearing here. Sadly, they don't get to ride rancors.
    • Overlapping with Ascended Fanon, the 501st started out as an official fan club for stormtrooper cosplay enthusiasts, who began styling themselves as the elite "Vader's Fist" legion of stormtroopers, before it was canonized in Legends that the 501st was Darth Vader's personal stormtrooper legion. Rex serves the role as the captain of the 501st Legion of clone troopers, who are assigned to Anakin Skywalker. Notably, Star Wars Battlefront 2 had previously indicated that the 501st clone troopers morphed into the 501st stormtroopers during the transition from the Republic to the Empire.
  • Like The Clone Wars before it, Star Wars Rebels uses, alters, or discards elements from the Legends continuity as it sees fit:
    • A news report the Ghost crew listens to mentions the "Base Delta-Zero Initiative". In Legends, Base Delta-Zero was an Imperial code phrase for orbitally bombarding a planet so thoroughly as to destroy all life on it (the Star Wars equivalent of Exterminatus).
    • The Imperial Inquisition, charged with hunting down Jedi and other Force-sensitives not troublesome enough to draw the attention of Darth Vader himself, were detailed in various Legends works, notably as antagonists in assorted tabletop role-playing games.
    • Interdictor cruisers were a popular tool in the Legends canon, especially of...
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn, who debuts at the start of Season 3 as an antagonist for the Rebels.
    • The ISB, the Imperial Security Bureau, was detailed in a few Legends works, where it was Palpatine's initiative to keep the Empire completely under his personal control (drawing parallels between various institutions in Nazi Germany, like the SS and Youth Groups, to instill the Nazi idealogy into everyone). How much of a State Sec they are remains unexplored thus far.
    • The Code of the Sith and Malachor, both introduced in the Knights of the Old Republic games, have been brought back. Like in Legends, the Battle of Malachor occurred thousands of years ago that resulted in the planet being devastated by a superweapon with massive loss of life. However, unlike in Legends, the planet is called Malachor instead of Malachor V, the war was fought by different parties for different reasons and the superweapon functioned differently.differences 
    • The Imperial Light Carrier the Rebels steal is based on the Quasar Fire-class cruiser/carrier from Legends, specifically the Flurry which appeared in The Truce at Bakura.
    • The TIE Defender first appeared in TIE Fighter, and sporadically in other Legends canon since (mostly, other video games, or stats for it in various RPGs). In a case of Broad Strokes, in Legends the TIE Defender wasn't conceived until after the Battle of Hoth, and it (as well as the preceeding production model of Darth Vader's TIE Advanced) was designed to remain competitive with the more advanced Rebel starfighters that were appearing, like the X, A, and B-Wings. The TIE Defender in Legends also had ion cannons in addition to its lasers, while the Defender in Rebels appears to only have lasers.
    • In a similar case of Broad Strokes, the B-Wing in Legends was the result of "Project Shantipole", Admiral Ackbar working with Verpine engineers to build a fighter to replace the sturdy, yet aging, slow, and unmaneuverable Y-Wing, with one of the stated design goals being that the fighter would be able to reliably destroy Nebulon-B Frigates, which the Empire was increasingly deploying to guard supply convoys the Rebellion desperately wanted to raid. In Rebels, the B-Wing is developed on the planet Shantipole by a Mon Calamari engineer (melding Admiral Ackbar coming up with the concept and the Verpine actually building it), and is explicitly stated to be designed to destroy much larger ships.
    • Rukh, and by extension probably the Noghri, are also re-canonized partway through Season 4.
    • Word of God confirms that Thrawn survives Ezra jumping them both to lightspeed, so, assuming that he's still with Ezra when Sabine and Ahsoka go looking for Ezra, he's alive post-Return of the Jedi, just like in Legends.
  • Thrawn:
    • Thrawn himself. Possibly the biggest one since 2014.
    • Parck and Barris, the Imperial officers that found Thrawn in Legends and brought him to Palpatine, are back and performing the same role. The Strikefast is also back as well.
    • Sy Bisti was previously established as a lingua franca for the Chiss when trading with other worlds. It would appear this is the same case here.
    • Pryce Mining has found a mine full of doonium. In Legends, it's a heavy metal alloy used in the construction of starship hulls, and was first mentioned in The Glove of Darth Vader as being particularly common in the second Death Star. Incidentally, the book also says that Thrawn and Anakin met in the Thrugii Asteroid Belt during the Clone Wars, which in Legends, contained mines of doonium as well.
    • Togorians, a cat-like warrior species, are also brought over from Legends. H'sishi returns, now the owner of Yinchom Dojo.
    • The Raider class corvette also makes its first canon appearance.
    • The Chiss Ascendancy is also re-canonized. Admiral Ar'alani from Outbound Flight also appears in a cameo.
    • Beckon calls, ship's remotes that were a plot element in The Thrawn Trilogy, make a reappearance.
    • Interestingly, the book counts as this for the Legends canon (which is itself the Trope Maker). It would take little, if any, modification for the novel to slot into that continuity, as well, serving as something of a prequel to The Thrawn Trilogy or a sequel to Outbound Flight.
  • Thrawn: Alliances:
    • Cortosis, a lightsaber-resistant material from Legends, returns.
    • "Instinctive Astrogation", a Force power from West End Games' Star Wars d6 game and used by Luke Skywalker in The Thrawn Trilogy, reappears. It's the method by which the Chiss navigate the notoriously dangerous Unknown Regions, and Thrawn manages to teach Vader the technique.
  • Ahsoka is the first Post-Disney work to be subjected to this. The book had a lot of information about the fates of characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which had been Cut Short at the time) after Order 66, but The Clone Wars later got a proper finale season that covered that same information. The overall details are similar to what Ahsoka claimed happened, but also quite different; Ahsoka and Rex lead a siege against Darth Maul on Mandalore just before Order 66 happens (as the book said), but the battle is over by the time of the actual event and Ahsoka and Rex's escape plays out very differently, as does the subsequent faking of their deaths. What this says about the canonicity of the rest of Ahsoka isn't clear.

    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece Film: Strong World is an One Piece movie written by the manga author Eiichiro Oda himself. It received a tie-in volume with a completely canonical chapter detailing some events from two decades prior to the manga's current timeline (while ending on a setup for the movie). Even the Big Bad, Shiki, gets mentioned in the manga every now and then. With all this in mind, you'd think the movie itself was part of the main manga canon, but that's not quite the case. The events of the movie are never referenced at all and trying to insert Strong World in the manga timeline is difficult since a) Brook already joined the crew by then (making it impossible for the movie to have happened before the Thriller Bark Arc) and b) Roronoa Zoro should still be recovering from injuries that left him nearly dead (the injuries he received were bad enough to affect his perfomance in the Sabaody Archipelago Arc, but nothing of the sort comes up during Strong World). Brook also mentions that the fight against the Flying Fish Riders during the start of the Sabaody Arc is his first as a Straw Hat pirate, contradicting the notion that Strong World happened before Sabaody too, but then having it happen after Sabaody is also impossible since the crew gets split by then and only gets to reunite after two years.
  • The Naruto manga has been known to reuse a few elements that were otherwise anime or movie-exclusive, like filler villain Raiga, but never really acknowledging more. There are also the Naruto Hiden novels, which are meant to be canon, but only three were actually adapted in the anime, making the non-adapted novels this trope to the anime instead of the manga.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics' approach to canonicity was very much this. Everything is canonical somewhere, and writers are given free rein to pick and choose canonical elements when telling individual stories. Unless DC is making a concerted effort to create a standard canon free from Continuity Lockout (à la The New 52), any given story within the DC collective is a case of Schrödinger's Canon.
    • Even more so with the Vertigo Comics line. Originally stated to be fully canonical with other DC comics, it has drifted farther and farther until it's basically its own separate universe, from which elements may sometimes overlap with other DC continuities. Which elements these are are unknown until they appear in a "mainstream" DC story.
    • Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC tried to eliminate the "everything is canonical somewhere" policy because the old "Infinite Earths" continuity was thought to result in Continuity Lockout. Thus, for a long time, it was established that there were no other alternate Earths or dimensions. Naturally, it didn't take long for writers to completely disregard this.
    • Later on, DC started reintroducing the concept of its multiverse. The first attempt started in The Kingdom, which introduced "Hypertime", which was explicitly stated by its creator to be this trope (every story, even the ones just in your head, are canonical somewhere). This, again, was abandoned after it was deemed too confusing for readers, which led to DC once again limiting its multiverse. Until, finally, Dark Nights: Metal established the creation of new universes as well as a whole separate, seemingly unlimited "Dark Multiverse".
  • The Marvel Universe (or, more specifically, the Marvel Omniverse) works on this principle. Every "What-If", every Alternate Timeline, every "Imaginary Story" happened in a separate universe. Unlike DC, Marvel also avoided a complete Cosmic Retcon (until Secret Wars (2015)). After that story arc, some universes were destroyed (such as Supreme Power) while others were merged with the mainline universe (such as Ultimate Marvel).
  • Marvel Comics has published a number of Merchandise-Driven comics featuring Marvel characters interacting with some licensed character. Most of these stories fit in the main Marvel Universe continuity, as the events of their stories still happened. Due to the cost of further licensing, these licensed characters may not show up again, though they are assumed to still be hanging around somewhere in the Marvel Universe.
  • Dark Horse Comics' Aliens comics. Written after Aliens but before Alien³, they follow Hicks, Newt, and (eventually) Ripley, many years after their escape from LV-426, confronting a new Alien menace. Then Alien³ premieres, and suddenly Everybody's Dead, Dave. The stories were patched and retconned to follow Suspiciously Similar Substitutes Wilks and Billie (and an android who thought she was Ripley) instead.
  • The DC You version of Starfire is somewhere between this and Canon Discontinuity. It brings back her older characterization and doesn't reference her controversial time in Red Hood and the Outlaws, but it does not firmly Retcon it, either; it's up to the fans to decide whether the two stories connected.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe and Mickey Mouse Comic Universe have a big case of this. Notably, it's not really a problem as the comics run on no continuity. Unlike most American comics, the stories are not expected to tie together in a narrative, and any one issue of the comic may take place in American Duckburg, in Medieval Europe, in outer space, or in a magical fantasy realm. Likewise, Donald may have any job or skillset imaginable. Generally, the only accepted canon are the characters' roles (Scrooge is an old miser, Donald is in constant poverty and raises his three nephews, etc.) and some of Duckburg's landmarks (at least when the story takes place in Duckburg). Other than that, most contemporary writers use some variety or elements of Don Rosa's rendition of Scrooge's backstory, and Carl Barks' later characterization of the characters tend to stick.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alien vs. Predator was removed from continuity with a new origin introduced in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, yet the tail spear from Alien vs. Predator showed up in The Predator, implying the crossover could still have occurred in the Predator half of the franchise.
  • In Batman & Robin, Batman mentions the existence of Superman, but there is no further information on this version of Superman in relation to the Batman film series, and whether this is the Christopher Reeve Superman, the Superman from the cancelled Tim Burton movie, or a different Superman exclusive to this continuity that has never been shown. Likewise, Green Lantern movie mentioned Superman in a Deleted Scene, but there is no confirmation on what version of Superman this is supposed to benote . As for the rest of the Green Lantern Corps who ended up being cut from the movie, there is no way to confirm their presence in continuity as the movie's sequel was never made.
  • A deleted scene for The Lost World: Jurassic Park had John Hammond dying shortly after the events of the film take place. As it's a deleted scene, its canonicity is in question, until Jurassic World shows the John Hammond is indeed dead by the time the events of the film take place (and supplementary material places his death around the time as The Lost World's deleted scene does), observing that piece of Schrodinger's Canon as true.
  • Superman Returns is supposed to take place after the original Superman II, which is basically Bryan Singer's way of removing III and IV from the continuity. So from Superman II, you could either accept that it got Denser and Wackier and that Kal-El eventually confronted Nuclear Man or that he left Earth for half a decade and came back to discover that he has a son.note 
  • Venom (2018) is this in relation towards the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has been officially stated that it is not part of the MCU, as Spider-Man is only part of it through collaboration with Sony, however the film's continuity is apparently based on the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Venom could become potentially integrated to the MCU if Marvel Studios and Sony agree.

  • The continuity of Harry Potter is debated within the fandom, but The Wiki's stance (which, to the best of anyone's observation, is also Pottermore's) is that the eight books, the appendixes (Fantastic Beasts, etc.) and Word of God constitute the highest tier of canon, below which are the Harry Potter movies and then the video games. This means that information introduced in the movies or the games may be canon unless a higher-ranking work on the scale says otherwise, even if the events they depict are not. For instance, this means that such spells as "Lacarnum Inflamari" probably exist in the canon universe, even if the characters didn't use them the way the films show them to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse: Of the five live-action DC Comics shows developed by Greg Berlanti and co, two of them began with questionable links to the others.
    • Supergirl (2015) initially aired on CBS and its place within the Arrowverse continuity was sketchy — for one thing, none of the characters in Arrow and The Flash (2014) had ever heard of Superman. It was eventually established that Supergirl was set in a parallel earth within the multiverse (specifically, Earth-38), and once the CW picked up the show and production moved to Vancouver, crossovers became a semi-regular occurrence.
    • Black Lightning, as of its first season, has not crossed over with any of the other shows, but the producers haven't ruled out a crossover in the future. Working against the idea is that Black Lightning films in Atlanta, while all the Arrowverse shows film in Vancouver. And then, he ended up joining the 2019 crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
    • Crisis on Infinite Earths:
      • The Crossover depicts, at least in passing, several other previous adaptations of DC properties in television and film. Whether these are "actually" the universes those adaptations took place in or "close enough" universes is open to interpretation.
      • A notable example comes in Earth-167, the setting of Smallville. Smallville's Season 11 comics adapted its own version of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and while it wouldn't be impossible to reconcile the two events (and might actually explain why Clark seems to take the news so well), a simpler explanation may be that the comic continuation is an Alternate Continuity from that depicted in this crossover event.
      • As of the climax, Earth-1, Earth-38, and Black Lightning's Earth have been merged together as Earth-Prime, meaning they now all share the same universe.
  • Throughout the history of Doctor Who, and especially following the cancellation of the original TV show in 1989, it has developed an extensive collection of tie-in novels, comics, audio plays, etc., all of which frequently contradicted each other and all of which faced an uncertain canon status when the TV series was revived in 2005. The revived series has held off from making a blanket determination of the tie-ins' status, while occasionally incorporating specific concepts, such mentioning as an alien race from the novels or a former companion from the audio plays. Even concepts from a one-off spoof made their way into the canon, most notably the Time Lords' ability to regenerate into the opposite sex. One particular spin-off whose status was watched carefully by fans was the earlier failed revival starring Paul McGann; the revived series has confirmed as canonical the existence of a Doctor with McGann's appearance while avoiding addressing any of the controversial plot elements of the failed pilot. The only public "canon policy" issued by The BBC is that (due to the BBC's license-fee-funded and free-to-air status) no TV episode is allowed to be so tied in with a spin-off work as to not make sense if you didn't experience the spin-off.
  • Tina Minoru on the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Runaways (2017) has an unclear character history, based on her prior (technically canonical) appearances in Doctor Strange and a tie-in prelude comic to that film. In the film and comic, she's established as being a Master of the Mystic Arts with heroic motivations, but on Runaways, she's more villainous, and no mention is made to her time as a Sanctum Master. Nothing has outright contradicted either characterization, so it's possible they're both still canon.
  • The Star Trek original timeline and Kelvin timeline have a few blank spots where the present status of the continuity is unconfirmed. The rebooted timeline in Star Trek (2009) assumes the timeline was altered due to Spock and Nero travelling to the past, but this doesn't explain differences from the original timeline that are unrelated to time travel, such as Star Trek Into Darkness and the IDW comics. Star Trek: Discovery is supposed to be set in the original timeline, but is unclear about why there are so many differences, such as advanced holographic technology existing before the original series takes place. The original timeline may be further influenced by the Kelvin timeline for aesthetic reasons, such as advances in special effects, with no in-story explanation given.
    • The tie-ins (novels and comics) for Discovery have had significantly more involvement from actual production members than the prior Star Trek series have (while then-Voyager showrunner Jeri Taylor wrote two novels, expanding the characters backgrounds, these were very much the exception, not the rule, and not compatible with later developments after her departure from the show), to the point that the first novel was actively requested by the original executive producer, Bryan Fuller, the writers have actively acknowledged that these are "canon until they're not," meaning they don't consider themselves bound to the events in the Discovery novels and comics, BUT, until and unless there's a contradiction, they can be viewed as such. Indeed, the novel "The Way To The Stars" dramatizes an event that is referenced in an episode that aired a couple of months after the novel's release - but the first novel, published shortly after Discovery premiered, is not compatible with season two, as it involves the USS Shenzhou and the USS Enterprise working together, while season two says that Michael Burnham and Spock have been estranged for years.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the early days of Magic: The Gathering, a number of tie-in novels and comics were published by other companies. When the Weatherlight saga began and Wizards of the Coast started its own novel line, the continuity was revised (this is commonly referred to as "The Revision"). Any material in the old publications is considered canonical unless new material directly contradicts it.
  • It's an established fact of RuneQuest's setting that all versions of a "myth" are equally true. Sometimes god-talkers will see Humakt courteously persuading Eurmal to give him the Sword of Death; sometimes he steals it. Sometimes the characters' names aren't Humaxt and Eurmal at all! Only the broad strokes of the plot remain constant.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Games Workshop has stated that everything you read in any Codex or rulebook is not necessarily true, but rather propaganda, either by the Imperium of Man or whoever the Codex is being written about. Thus, Games Workshop's own published, official canon is Schrodinger's Canon by default, since it's all subject to interpretation and contradiction in later works (the contradiction itself perhaps being incorrect). While this allows Games Workshop incredible freedom to retcon away things the fans really dislike, it also means that no one, true vision of the Warhammer 40K verse is completely, objectively correct.
    • A sterling example of this comes from the Sisters of Battle. Much is made about how strong the Sisters' faith in the God-Emperor is, complete with rules allowing them to weaponize that faith on the tabletop. It is said that none of the Adepta Sororitas has ever fallen to Chaos, except Miriael Sabathiel, and even her story contradicts the "only one ever" line by having her corrupt several other Sisters sent to get rid of her. Other pieces of fiction have entire convents of Battle Sisters falling to Chaos routinely. Whether or not it's metaphysically possible for Sisters to fall to Chaos, and how frequently it may or may not happen, is a source of some contention among Sororitas fans.
  • X-Wing Miniatures is set in a mash-up of the Legends and Disney Star Wars versions of the universe. You can have, for example, Manaroo and Sabine Wren in the same army, or a ship with Mara Jade on it picking a fight with Poe Dameron.
  • This is invoked in Eberron, where none of the tie-in materials (like the novels) are canon unless you deem them to be, and the setting's timeline never officially progresses. Basically, only you and your fellow players get to decide whether or not the Schrödinger's Canon stuff happened in your game. This is done to try and prevent Continuity Snarls and games being invalidated by canon progressing, as is common with some other settings like Forgotten Realms.

    Video Games 
  • Capcom's Shared Universe in relation to Street Fighter. The main (read: numbered) Street Fighter games and Alpha were considered the main storyline, with games like Street Fighter EX being relegated to an Alternate Continuity. Marvel vs. Capcom introduced Shadow, Shadow Lady, and Dan's sister Yuriko Hibiki without confirming if these characters were in the main continuity. Street Fighter V confirms Yuriko Hibiki is Dan's sister, and Zeku (Guy's master seen in his Alpha 2 ending) links Strider to the main series. The Shadaloo Combat Research Institute profiles on the Street Fighter V Character Encyclopedia website confirm characters who were previously thought to be in separate continuities are still in the main Street Fighter continuity, without always confirming how this occurs in-story, such as a profile on Kevin Striker from Street Fighter 2010.
  • Castlevania:
  • Dawn of War:
    • Soulstorm: The game's lack of quality (especially the Space Marine campaign) made it Fanon Discontinuity, with most fans believing the Imperial Guard campaign was canonical. When Dawn Of War II was released, it was confirmed that the Space Marines had indeed been defeated on Kaurava, though there was no information on which faction was responsible or won in the end.
    • Chaos Rising: The identity of the traitor in the squad is slowly unveiled, but there is no difference in their interactions until then (the traitor is determined by character's corruption ratings, which is decided by the player). Retribution establishes the canonical traitor is Avitus.
  • Putting aside the fact that all Star Trek non-televised or non-theatrical production is officially non-canon, Star Trek Online was pretty much all this until the premiere of Star Trek: Picard. It takes place after Spock "was killed" after failing to stop the supernova from destroying Romulus (creating the Kelvin timeline of the 2009 Star Trek film). It continues telling stories in the "Prime" timeline after this point, involving just about everything from every era of Star Trek ever, because the chances of new fiction being produced in that timeframe were vanishingly small at the time of the game's launch. The developers took unmitigated glee in their "unobserved" canonical status, creating anything and everything they want in this timeframe, since only films in the Kelvin timeline were in active production back then. The game's wavefunction was ultimately crushed by Picard being the first canon post-destruction of Romulus story in the Prime timeline.
  • In the Touhou franchise, the 4Koma manga Inaba of the Moon and Inaba of the Earth was written by Toshihira Arata as opposed to series creator ZUN (Who was only loosely involved), and happens to be a Gag Series, so as a result it occupies an ambiguous place in canonicity compared to other side works. Most fans take the story in Broad Strokes, though it's been referenced somewhat in later works written by ZUN.
  • Attack The Light, Save The Light, and Unleash The Light are ostensibly canonical to Steven Universe, as they currently don't contradict any of the show's lore and were made with some input from the show's creator. The show itself, however, doesn't directly acknowledge any of the events that occurred in them—the closest it gets is mentioning a Gem of the same type that was introduced in Save the Light.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 starts a new timeline based on the old timeline, while adding in backstory that may or may not have happened in the past of the original timeline. Since the original timeline is no longer active, those details are not about to be confirmed. Presumably, the only title that isn't affected by the Set Right What Once Went Wrong nature of the reboot is Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, as it is set before the events of the first three games, but even that is up in the air. Additionally, the surprise addition of Tremor as DLC in the sequel suggests Mortal Kombat: Special Forces may be Loose Canon or happened in very Broad Strokes.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon is usually very straightforward when it comes to what is canon with the main series games, the handheld RPGs that everything else is based around. Spin-off games tend to borrow elements from the main series while the main series games are often self-contained apart from very brief references. For example, the Poké Finder from Pokémon Sun and Moon is a reference to Pokémon Snap, but doesn't mention the game otherwise.
    • However, the canonicity of the spin-off duology Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is in a bit of a limbo. On one hand, they are RPGs for the Nintendo GameCube that can link and trade with the Game Boy Advance games; on the other hand, they were developed by a separate studio with minimal consultation from Game Freak and are markedly distinct from the main series titles in aesthetics and tone. Apart from trading connectivity, no references to Colosseum or XD or their events are made in any successive main series games. This is most noticeable in the sixth and seventh generation games, which make more explicit and frequent references to past games and have since established that all of the games seemingly take place in a sort of multiverse (the Hoenn region in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire canonically exists in its own reality separate from the one in the their 3DS remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, hence Archie and Maxie's radically different appearances and personalities in those games vs. their more traditional look in later cameos). The Orre region is the only region that has never been mentioned once in any of the main series games — Pokémon traded from there are merely listed as being "met in a distant land." That certain prominent names in Game Freak have reportedly spoken disfavorably of the games (claiming they don't match the "vision" of the series as a whole) seems to suggest that they're considered an Old Shame and are deliberately ignored.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon introduce Ash-Greninja, which is Ash's Greninja. How do you fit this into either canon is anyone's guess.
    • Similarly, Detective Pikachu has a moment where it's implied you're interacting with none other than Ash's Pikachu, complete with Waxing Lyrical. ("Tell your buddy to be the very best, like no one ever was.") This would be easy to ignore if the game didn't make explicit references to the main series and its spin-offs (ex. Pokémon Trainers, Pokémon Contests, Pokémon Rangers, the Alola region, etc.), implying it exists in the same continuity.
  • Good luck trying to figure out how Dragon Ball Heroes and Dragon Ball Xenoverse relate to each other. Despite Heroes vaguely mentioning Demigra's playing the same as in Xenoverse, it was later elaborated with the introduction Putine and Gravy, which in turn contradicts Xenoverse's canon. And both Heroes and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 show their own version of the Masked Saiyan and Dabura's resurrection, with both of them being impossible to reconcile. And let's not get into how these game relate to Dragon Ball Online...
  • The Ultima and Ultima Underworld games form a main story. Spin-off games and side materials could have possibly happened, or represent alternate timelines/universes from the main games, but their status in relation to the main series is not confirmed.
  • This is basically the status of all original Hearthstone characters who have not appeared in the larger WarCraft universe. Since Hearthstone is supposed to be an in-universe card game, it's not known which of these characters exist in the "real" Azeroth and which ones are in-universe fiction. Some of Hearthstone lore is definitely not canon, but now that two fairly outlandish characters originally invented for Hearthstone (Sir Finley Mrrgglton and Skycap'n Kragg) have appeared in World of Warcraft, along with the tortollan race, just about anything not explicitly contradicted by Warcraft canon might be up for grabs if WoW developers happen to like it.
  • The relationship between Watch_Dogs and Assassin's Creed is rather complicated. There have been references littered throughout both franchises such as Aiden Pearce assassinating Oliver Garneau, Abstergo Industries buying CTOS technology from Blume, or a British Assassin as a DLC character. However, Ubisoft has continuously denied that the two games are set in the same universe insisting that it's simply fanservice. Despite this, there is substantial overlap with the franchises, leaving their canonicity to each other a bit unclear.
    • To a lesser extent, Far Cry may or may not take place in the AC-WD world since the third installment contains a letter that explicitly mentions the Pieces of Eden and Thomas Edison's experiments while the Abstergo logo can be briefly seen in one level.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops was a PSP game that was developed with very minimal involvement from Hideo Kojima. One of its selling points was that unlike the prior Metal Gear Ac!d titles that were also on the PSP, Portable Ops was set in the mainline MGS continuity, being a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3, itself a prequel to the original MSX2 Metal Gear. After finishing developing Metal Gear Solid 4, Kojima would go on to write and direct Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which not only serves as yet another direct sequel to MGS3, it goes out of its way to explicitly ignore anything that happened in Portable Ops, although it doesn't contradict anything either.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Mainline games are part of the same continuity and often reference each other. When it comes spin-offs, however, their canon status is less clear. Some were referenced by the main series, whereas others are officially Canon Discontinuity, and others remain ambiguous. There's also the Game Gear entries, which are implied to take place in a separate timeline.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog somehow manages to have this with itself: the only definitely canon section is the opening cutscene and the Last Story. Several events from different levels are referenced or hinted at in the Last Story but those events aren’t all obtainable on a single run of the game, leaving what route through the game Shadow actually took ambiguous.
  • Resident Evil:
    • During the early years of the franchise, Capcom produced a few spin-off titles, namely Resident Evil: Survivor and Resident Evil: Dead Aim, two light gun-based shooters released under the Gun Survivor branding in Japan (which also included a light gun adaptation of Code: Veronica released only in Japan and Europe, and the Dino Crisis spin-off Dino Stalker), and the MMO-based Resident Evil: Outbreak series. Capcom tend to omit these titles in official retrospectives and sourcebooks for the franchise, yet Sheena Island (the setting of Survivor) gets namedropped in the opening text crawl of Resident Evil 0, while Alyssa Ashcroft, one of the player characters in the Outbreak series, is credited as the author of an in-game newspaper article in Resident Evil 7.
    • The EX Files in the N64 version of Resident Evil 2 features a reference to Christine Henri, as the person who ordered HUNK to retrieve the G-Virus to Umbrella's French subsidiary. This character never actually showed in the games, but was actually from a Japanese radio play titled "Ada the Spy Lives", which was never adapted into English. Unlike "The Young Runaway Sherry", a similar Resident Evil 2-themed radioplay which had Sherry separated from Leon and Claire after the events of the game (something that didn't happen according to the post-game epilogues in Resident Evil 3), the events of "Ada the Spy Lives" were never explicitly contradicted by the games.
  • Crash Bandicoot:

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Canon Until It's Not, Canon Until It Isn't


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