An unofficial Universe Compendium.
When the makers of a series can't be bothered to put together a proper compendium, you can always rely on the fans to do it for you. With typical obsessiveness, they will go through and document everything that is known about the series, and, on occasion, bind it together into a book. Or a wiki.
The results differ from a Universe Compendium in several ways:
- A concordance will tend to document more thoroughly what actually happened on-screen. The folks who write compendia tend to not have quite the same attention to detail as a really obsessed fan.
- Since the concordance author has no way of knowing what the writer thought was actually important, unimportant details often receive more notice in a concordance than in a compendium. Thus, you are more likely to discover a really obscure fact in a concordance.
- A compendium will often be distilled in such a way as to cover up retcons or embarrassing but inescapable mistakes in the show's past. A compendium is more likely to tell you what the show's makers actually intended, while a concordance is more likely to tell you what they actually did.
- A concordance will often contain fanon (which, since it's in a proper book by someone who knows what they're talking about, will be taken as Word of Dante). While a compendium may later be proved wrong on some point, we can be assured that what is written was actually what the writers thought was going on at the time.
- Many paper-and-pencil Role-Playing Games based on literary or mass-media properties qualify as Universe Concordances, despite having official licenses, because the creators of the RPG often have minimal communication with the creators of the property it's based on.
From time to time, the producers of a series will come across a concordance and begin treating it as gospel, as it contains far more detail than any of their own internal documentation.
As these are almost always unauthorized publications, they tend to exist in the same legal gray-market as Fan Fic, though it should be remembered that scholarly reference works have historically been considered fair use of copyrighted material, hence the existence of academic literary journals.
Rowling vs. RDR Publications, while preventing the Harry Potter Lexicon from being set in print, established a precedent that Universe Concordances have the right to exist over-the-counter under two conditions:
- There are not too many direct quotes from the source material, especially unattributed ones; and
- The Universe Concordance does not borrow heavily from any Universe Compendium, with or without direct quotes.
So, they are now officially encouraged.
- The Digimon Encyclopedia by Chris McFeely. Covers Adventure, Adventure 02, and Tamers (and part of Frontier). Long before Wikipedia, this was the source for anything in the Digimon anime.
- Pokémon Bulbapedia, which is also tied into an alliance of sorts with several Pokemon wikis in other languages. Bulbapedia covers all aspects of the fandom, including both the video games and their various adaptations.
- The good news is that Inuyasha has is own Universe Concordance over at Inuyasha Wiki. The bad news is it falls into the "often includes copious amounts of Fanon" category. It's a decent source for reference pictures and episode summaries, though, and appears to be fairly accurate on listing easily-cross-referenced information such as voice actors, publication dates, and the kanji in the names of characters, items and attacks.
- Narutopedia is this for Naruto. Given the size of the fandom in question and the length of the series, the wiki-format Universe Concordance is unsurprisingly massive, comprising literally thousands of articles.
- The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe, so well-researched that Marvel Comics has hired the senior staff to help write the newest versions of the official Universe Compendium.
- Naturally, DC Comics fans also have their own Universe Concordances...several, in fact. The DC Comics Database for instance covers the whole of the DCU in all its current and past incarnations, the DCAU wiki covers the DC Animated Universe in specific, and additional Universe Concordance type wikis also exist for individual DC franchises, though needless to say the information sometimes overlaps between these:
- Green Lantern Wiki. Given the long publication history, Loads and Loads of Characters, and increasingly complicated mythology, it's not surprising it has its own separate universe concordance!
- There are actually two separate Universe Concordance wikis devoted to Aquaman stories: Aquaman Wiki (which has been going since 2008) and Aquawiki. Both were apparently still active as of 2016.
- There are several such wikis covering the Batman characters, mythology, and related subjects, too. The most notable is probably the aptly-named Batman Wiki.
- The Superman franchise has several Universe Concordance wikis devoted to it or even specific subsets of it, including Supermanica, Superman Wiki, and Smallville Wiki - that last one, of course, being devoted to the Smallville continuity.
- The Flash has one devoted to his stories and related characters. And so does Wonder Woman and even Martian Manhunter. Given that, it's unsurprising to find that the Justice League of America has its own collective wiki too.
- Hellboy has the Hellboy Wiki, which in addition to covering the characters and lore, has individual articles on every Hellboy story ever, totaling over 150 individual articles on the comics alone.
- The French and American Disney Ducks Comic Universe wikis serve as this.
- Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki. Much more detailed than either printed Star Wars encyclopedias or the official online Star Wars Databank.
- Pandorapedia. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about Avatar.
- James Cameron's Avatar Wiki serves this purpose as well.
- Planet of the Apes has several. Online, there's The Sacred Scrolls, and there are also a number of hard copy guides. Probably the most extensive are 'Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes' and 'Timeline of the Planet of The Apes', both by Rich Huntley.
- Elyse A. Dickenson's The Forrester Papers is very probably the only complete documentation to War of the Worlds ever written.
- The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia by Daniel Harms.
- The Yellow Site for the Yellow/Hastur/Carcosa Mythos, founded upon Victorian weird-fiction classic The King in Yellow and frequently connected to the Cthulhu Mythos.
- The Harry Potter Lexicon.
- The Annotated Pratchett File
- Steven Brust uses fan-created concordances and timelines as references when he continues his series.
- The Dark Tower Concordance, without which Stephen King claims he wouldn't have been able to complete the series.
- Animorphs Seerowpedia
- Far and away the most famous is Bjo Trimble's The Star Trek Concordance, which was the prime source for information to fans until Paramount began releasing its own compendia in the 1980s. The makers of early Star Trek feature films and Star Trek: The Next Generation consulted it heavily, as it was the best single resource in existence at the time.
- And in the Age of Internet, there is the Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha.
- A long-standing rumor from the '80s suggests that FASA lost the license for the Star Trek RPG because authors were drawing on FASA ship design and game Fanon for their licensed novels.
- Along with Wookieepedia, Lostpedia is commonly cited as one of the most comprehensive wikis about a fictional universe in existence. Writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have admitted using Lostpedia when they need to remember a quick fact while writing an episode.
- Since the early '80's Doctor Who Programme Guide (which went through three editions), the Whoniverse has had countless licensed and un-licensed examples. Online compedia include The Whoniverse, the no-longer-available-on-the-Web Outpost Gallifrey reference guides, The Doctor Who Guide, the staggeringly detailed "Rassilon, Omega, and that Other Guy" and the TARDIS Data Core wiki.
- Babylon 5 has The Lurker's Guide.
- Surprising absolutely nobody, the Buffyverse has at least one, appropriately titled Buffyverse Wiki.
- The Marathon Story Page, it's...comprehensive, so to speak, as a conversation below puts it:
Anonymous: Can you briefly summarize the plot of the Marathon series? I found one at some fan site, but it was a fucking doctoral thesis.
- Bulbapedia (mentioned above in the Anime & Manga section) serves as a handy guide for all of the Pokémon games - both in terms of plot and characters, and in terms of being usable as a Strategy Guide.
- The whole of the Final Fantasy franchise is the subject of a massively sprawling joint online Universe Concordance aptly named the Final Fantasy Wiki. Given the often contradictory nature of the official Universe Compendiums (and the occasional contradictory nature of the games themselves and their own spin-off media) it's sometimes more useful to check FF Wiki than to just check an individual game, adaptation, or even the published Ultimania books, since you frequently get information on how those sources differ. Which is sometimes by a lot, even on such small but highly specific details as character heights and eye colors. Players of the actual games though would probably find the site particularly useful, as much like Bulbapedia, it can function as a Strategy Guide - one that can wind up more detailed than the officially published ones.
- Interestingly, the Inuyasha video games have their own separate Wiki, despite the fact that the franchise as a whole had one already (see: "Anime & Manga" examples for this trope). On the other hand, the lack of reliability on certain subjects from the latter (especially the confusing mixing of Fanon and Canonical information) doesn't exactly negate the value of having a second one, particularly since it has a much narrower focus.
- Due to the literally hundreds of episodes, stories, characters and locations, the TTTE Wikia has become a handy reference point for writers on Thomas and Friends.
- Wikipedia can be thought of as a Universe Concordance for Real Life.
- And fiction as well, though that was not what its founders intended (at least not to such a degree.)
- Pages that "fail to make a clear distinction between fiction and real life" (read: using the page as a Universe Concordance) are flagged and sometimes deleted. Then of course there's the "inclusionist vs. exclusionist" debate which is basically about editors fighting over whether Wikipedia should be used as a Universal Concordance or not.
- This very wiki is technically a Universe Concordance covering all fictional universes in all formats, particularly when one considers how many franchises and individual works have pages listing and dissecting not only their tropes, but their creators, characters, and in a bunch of cases, whole individual story arcs. The difference between TV Tropes and a standard style Universe Concordance isn't so much what is covered (any Universe Concordance will cover story arcs and characters) as much as it is the sheer breadth of what's covered, and the technique of approaching it from the "trope"-based literary analysis perspective. The "Useful Notes" sections could also, much like Wikipedia, be considered a Universe Concordance for Real Life (and the fictionalization thereof).