Talk:Retroactive continuity

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moved from user talk pages[edit]

"Retroactive continuity" is not a portmanteau term. Portmanteau terms are words like "smog" and "chortle", where two words have been smooshed together. —Paul A 02:41, 19 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Paul, I beg to differ. Retroactive is one word, and Continuity another. Seeing as Retroactive Continuity is sort a mouthful to get around in conversation written(electronic or hard copy) or on chat f2f or on the Internet; thusly to smoosh the first syllable of the two words together makes sense, and a portmanteau. Incidentally I am a man, although one would not think that from the way I write in terms of my grammar and lexicon...
Michael Reiter

I would argue that "retcon", being composed of the first part of each word, is a simple abbreviation - portmanteau words, as I understand it, require something unusual like combining the first part of a word with the last part of another word (e.g. smoke + fog = smog).

But this is beside the point anyway, because you didn't say retcon was a portmanteau term — you said retroactive continuity was a portmanteau term, which is evidently false.
Paul A 01:44, 20 Sep 2003 (UTC)

OOPS!!! Sorry. I guess you're right. I didn't read you right. I WAS trying to state and consolidate my position that retcon is a portmanteau of Retroactive Continuity. Once again, sorry for the mix up.
Michael Reiter
The list of portmanteaus includes for instance Interpol, which is also formed from the first part of each word. The term "contraction" is not correct according to the article it links to, which states that a contraction always has an apostrophe.

Fair enough. But "retroactive continuity" still isn't a portmanteau word. --Paul A 07:37, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Not to split haris, but 'retcon' is more an example of clipping than portmanteau, in my opinion. From the article on clipping: "Clipped forms are also used in compounds. One part of the original compound most often remains intact. Examples are: cablegram (cable telegram), op art (optical art), org-man (organization man), linocut (linoleum cut). Sometimes both halves of a compound are clipped as in navicert (navigation certificate). In these cases it is difficult to know whether the resultant formation should be treated as a clipping or as a blend, for the border between the two types is not always clear. According to Bauer (1993), the easiest way to draw the distinction is to say that those forms which retain compound stress are clipped compounds, whereas those that take simple word stress are not. By this criterion bodbiz, Chicom, Comsymp, Intelsat, midcult, pro-am, sci-fi, and sitcom are all compounds made of clippings." Since 'retcon' retains compound stress, it should be considered a clipped compound. --07:17, 18 Mar 2008

Not a Retcon[edit]

I removed this example, as I don't think it's really a retcon. Obi-Wan is simply bending the truth (speaking figuratively) in his earlier statements. --L33tminion 17:25, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)

That an in-story justification exists is beside the point - the question is, did George Lucas know that Obi-Wan was speaking figuratively when he made ANH, or was it something he only decided afterward? If the latter, then it is a retcon: ESB retroactively changes Obi-Wan's truthfulness and Vader's relationship to Luke.
That said, I don't intend to argue the point. The article has enough examples already, and we don't need to lumber it with one that is (a) arguable and (b) a massive spoiler anyway. --Paul A 03:40, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As far as I know (heard/read interviews with George), he had written one big story, couldn't produce it all, and wrote three separate screenplays - taking a lot of things out, apparently (not surprising), but keeping the main storyline intact. He had always intended Vader to be Luke's father. 02:47, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Well, Lucas has said a lot of things over the years about how massively foresightedly he planned out the whole storyline in advance, but some of those things have been found to be contradicted by documentary evidence -- his actual early drafts show things going in directions that Lucas always denied they ever went, et cetera. On the Vader issue, we may simply never know whether Lucas did intend it all along, as he now claims, or whether he came up with it after it turned out Star Wars was going to be a big enough hit to merit sequels. -- Antaeus Feldspar 17:20, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Just so you'll all know -- and I actually put this in the entry -- "Vader" is Dutch for "Father." Food for thought, 'n' stuff. Yar Kramer
Yes, which is evidence for, but not proof of, the "Lucas intended it all along" theory. -- Antaeus Feldspar 11:44, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)
What kills the thoery he intended it all along for me is the romantic tension between Luke and Leia, including a fairly passionate kiss, in episode 4 (the first movie), contrasted with Leia's assertion she felt all along that they were brother and sister in episode 6. (talk) 13:24, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

It's not a retcon if it has always been planned. --Destron Commander 08:40, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

What about when Luke askes Leia in "Return of the Jedi" if she has any memories of their mother? Later we see in "Episode 3" their mother dies in childbirth...Was the mother that Leia remembers supposed to be her adopted mother the wife of Bail Organa? Darth Jennocyde the NecroSith 9/11/07 1:20am —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:21, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

No, Luke explicitly asks her about her real mother because he has no memories of her. Leia does have some memories and her recalling that her mother was deeply saddened by something is (at least for the pre-prequel audience) strongly implying the fate of Annakin/Darth Vader, therefore Padme's death in childbirth is a retcon. Timrollpickering (talk) 10:44, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
IMHO, it is a case of "I don't care what I said before, I don't even check my own stories", not a retcon. These new "films" are full of contradictions regarding the original movies: Qui Gon being Obi Wan's teacher instead of Yoda, this childbirth... one could say that this is a retcon, but there are so many big mistakes and senseless scenes ("Erase the memory of this droid"? Why? And why one but not the oder?) that IMHO, George Lucas didn't even care if all films made sense as a whole. (talk) 10:40, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

The WWE[edit]

From the WWE itself: "At the WWE’s 1976 Shea Stadium event, he engaged in a boxer vs. wrestler confrontation with Chuck Wepner, in which he hurled the “Bayonne Bleeder” out of the ring and into the third row. Four years later, he had his first encounter with Hogan when the WWE returned to Shea." [1]

From IGN: "Smackdown Countdown 2003: Victoria -- She's one of the WWE's most intimidating female wrestlers and one of its most fascinating." [2]

From Motley Fool: "As we've mentioned here at the Fool a couple of times, lately, the WWE looked to be in the midst of a turnaround." [3]

From MTV: "Just when you thought that Tough Enough couldn't get any tougher, MTV and the WWE have flexed their muscle and upped the ante for a new round of competition that will bring out the most punishing training seen in the Tough Enough ring to date." [4]

From Brandchannel: "Castronuovo readily acknowledges that the WWE is about escapist entertainment." [5]

From "Discuss the WWE" [6]

Conclusion: There is no point in repeatedly removing the "the" from "the WWE". -- Antaeus Feldspar 18:02, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Well, I could probably dig up just as many examples of using "WWE" without the word "the" in front; however, it seems to be unnecessary, as "the WWE" is just plain grammatically incorrect. As well, WikiProject Professional Wrestling has standardized on "WWE", sans "the", as the proper usage. --HBK 18:39, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
Aw, heck, I have time:
From WWE itself: "She wept backstage, then tried to get on with her life … until a call from WWE’s front office came." [7]
From 411: "USA Network will also be promoting WWE's return to the network..." [8]
From InsidePulse: "WWE's time with Spike TV ended tonight with a Tornado Tag Team Match that ended with Eric Bischoof holding up the WWE Title!" [9]
From Pro Wrestling Torch: "The entire idea Spike officials are upset with Vince McMahon and WWE over Monday night’s USA Network references is laughable." [10]
From 1Wrestling: "WWE purchased local spots on cable systems in top 20 markets announcing to return to USA next week." [11]
I'll try to dig up more examples if you're unconvinced. --HBK 18:45, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
You haven't proven your point, because your point was not that "WWE-with-no-the" is a frequent usage. No, I am not convinced that Wikipedia needs to standardize on one version when the WWE itself (or "WWE itself", if you insist) does not standardize. But hey, if you think that's where your Wikipedia time is best invested, in correcting "errors" that the subject itself doesn't treat as errors, well, you go, boy. I am pretty sure I can find better things to do with my time and effort than enforcing a "proper usage" that makes no functional difference whatever. -- Antaeus Feldspar 19:04, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
And yet you're the one who kept editing it repeatedly when I originally posted it as "WWE" with no "the"... but hey. --HBK 22:20, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
"The WWE" is probably a leftover from its days as the World Wrestling Federation, when "the WWF" would have been correct use. (talk) 02:41, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Married with Children[edit]

After reading the TV retcons, I'm suprised to not see Married with Children mentioned. They wrote off half a season as merely a bad dream of Al's after Katey Sagal had a miscarriage. -- Crimson30 06:56, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Biblical Reference May Be Offensive[edit]

Certain populations may find the reference to the Bible as literature and in proximity works more universally accepted as fictional offensive. Likewise, the implication that the Bible is subject to revision or inconsistent may also likely offend many readers. Consider that this example may be superfluous among the large body of examples, and the article would lose little in its absence.

--Mwhidden 20:05, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Agreed, it struck me as an intentional troll, actually. In any event it detracts from the article. SJennings 22:29, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

It's not that it's offensive. It's that it presumes Christianity to be a fiction, thus violating NPOV. Further, it also presumes that the intended audience for the New Testament didn't suppose that the serpent might be Satan. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:59, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

It doesn't matter if it's offensive or not. The point is that it's historically accurate. Whether it's offensive is irrelevant. (talk) 02:00, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

I understand people thinking that any reference to the bible would be intended as provocative. However, I do think there are certain things around the bible and the interpretation of the bible that are examples of at least krypto-revisionism. Also could we not see some of the evangelical right's intelligent design ideas as retconning? For example the museum (i think in kansas) that introduces dinosaurs into the garden of eden, placing adam and eve alongside raptors. This is creating a new context for the bible by assuming there are ommissions. I think you're right to seperate it out as maybe a special case because it is factual information that is forcing the revisions of documentation of the past events covered in the bible, however I think to leave it out is missleading. Perhaps just a line (that could be noted as controversial) that states that some believe the bible and other religious texts are often recontextualised to support a differnt point of view of sect, in a way that extends beyond re-interpretation because it is presented as an extension of the core literature.-- 13:40, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

While, technically, changes in the canon version of biblical events (like, did Adam first marry Lilith, or was Eve the first female he ever was tied with?) can be regarded as retcons, the extremely charged status of the book, as well as the fact that reconstituting the sequence of events and versions is difficult to impossible, plus the fact that retconning is associated with mass media entertainment stories, rather than religious or historical/pseudohistorical books would put the bible and any similar works beyond the pale. --Svartalf 23:52, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

This is an interesting example of the truth being omitted because it would offend a religious power. Christian beliefs are riddled with retcons. But, unlike comic books, people are forbidden from discussing them by the threat of reprisal. And so the fact of the retcon falls from history and memory. I wonder how much has been successfully retconned to the point where no evidence or suggestion of the original version exists at all. (talk) 15:44, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Einstein's laws of physics aren't retcons of Newton's. Learning further information doesn't necessarily mean it's a retcon. But even if Christianity is a lie, The New Testament's authors' supposition that the serpent in the garden was Satan still isn't retcon, since it's not inconsistent with previous expectations. Incidentally, what reprisal are you referring to? Are you suggesting Wikipedia is bowing to fears of Christian terrorism? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia is pretty much bowing to fears of Christian terrorism. Vast quantities of Christian religious thought are blatant retcons on the Bible. For instance, the claim that "an angel" wrestled with Jacob is a retcon. Read the text in any honest translation, and it says that GOD wrestled with Jacob. (talk) 13:44, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Delete article?[edit]

This article really needs to be deleted. The majority of the article is personal opinions. If the individuals editing this article just want to share how they and their friends use the term, WIkipedia is not the right place for this. This term is one of the most overused, misused terms in all of Wikipedia, particularly the comic book listings. If the use of the term has really changed this much since it was originally coined, then it needs valid references. 06:22, 17 August 2007

I've moved this comment from the top of the page to a new section, I hope that doesn't mind. Personally, I found this article quite interesting and I vote to keep the page. If the term is as well-spread as seems to be the case, it must be possible to find more references however! Bjost 23:08, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
Well most of it is utter bullshit, but hey that's wikipedia for you. Retcon is when you want to make a change that would contradict something which has gone before so you have to invent a (plausible) explanation of what people thought wrong. --IceHunter (talk) 12:30, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm not a wikipedian, probably just your average end-user, I just want to point out that until tonight, I didn't know about the term "retcon," and now I know what it means... and it's actually useful to me, since I'm creating a site with fictions taking place in a consistent universe as part of my leisure. Really, I'm not too focused on this article in particular, I'm just taking a few minutes to give you my opinion about this one like I could have done about the previous or the next one, and it would have been pretty much the same. Mine is a general comment that this article illustrates, just like so many others. Like every web user I guess, I spend a lot of time reading wikipedia articles... and I just would like to point out the fact that I personally don't like the turn that your encyclopedia has taken in the last few months. I'd like to know why so many articles I find useful happen to be plagued by these eye-catching boxes on the top with various complaints that uselessly distract the reader's attention. Then I go to the discussion page to understand what happens, and I see people asking for the article's deletion... This is really beyond me, because as a matter of fact the same thing tends to happen to every interesting article that there is in this corner of the web. As a general note, I don't understand how it comes that existing exact information that is already in your encyclopedia would labelled as "useless" and that its deletion would be requested. I understand that if something is factually wrong or opinionated it should be deleted, now, if there is some other, more interesting information to be included somewhere in this encyclopedia, asking for deletion of existing content will not make said information appear magically. The more exact information there is, the better this site is for me. I see a lot of energy being put by a lot of members towards decreasing the amount of what wikipedia has to offer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:13, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm very much with I came to this page to find out WHAT quality issues there are, not having seen any, and I still don't know what the problem is! "Retcon" is most certainly NOT a private usage now, if it ever was. Check out the OTHER other wiki, TV Tropes.

And I came to the article page in order to create a link to it from the Daily Bugle article, in which the term was offhandedly used w/o a link. Which suggests a wide understanding of the term as used there and defined here!

It would be criminally stupid to delete this useful article. It most certainly would not be removing one that is largely personal opinion, because that is not the case here, nor one that is "utter bullshit", since that isn't the case either. IceHunter is either simply wrong about the usage, or has encountered only unusual variations of which it would be useful to add examples! And even if the original poster believes Pannenberg's usage is the original one, from which variation must be documented (a position that no lexicographer would endorse), that is abundantly achieved by the multiple citations in the article.

As for the complaint at the top of the page about "original research", I believe it is time for Wikipedia's horror at the idea to join the Olympic Movement's horror of professional status in the dustbin of history. The verifiable, helpful research posted in this wiki is far too valuable to be thrown away to achieve an imagined purity.

Finally, if whoever is complaining about the "quality standards" would cite a few problems--either here or to me directly--by section and item number in the "Wikipedia:Manual of Style", I would undertake to fix them. However, I'm a professional copy and tech editor, and nothing leaps out at me ... nor am I quite motivated enough to read the entirety of the Manual in hopes of disproving what therefore looks like an unsupported personal dyspepsia. (Apologies in advance if the dyspeptic in fact meets the challenge of this paragraph!)

GeorgeTSLC (talk) 19:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

This was the job of Winston Smith In Orwell's 1984[edit]

In the novel 1984, this was the job of the hero Winston Smith (as far as I recall his name). He retrospectively changed written history by altering the text newspapers etc. I think it desrves a mention in the main artivcle. Anyone agree? (talk) 15:27, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

There ought to be an independent page for listed retcons. There are simply too many, and too debatable to actually be helpful in the article. Perhaps the List page should be created. Mmmpotatoes (talk) 06:25, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Merger with Reboot(fiction)[edit]

There is a distinct difference between a retcon and a reboot. Sufficient that they should remain distinct articles. I oppose the merger, and will likely try to unflag them within the week. Mmmpotatoes (talk) 06:25, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Agree, I just stumbled on this article from outside, it is useful, and distinct from Reboot (fiction). - cohesion 18:45, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
We could probably roll them both into Continuity (fiction). -Chunky Rice (talk) 20:20, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Disagree, with all the discussion about retcon in the Doctor Who TV series I think retcon warrants an article on its own. Derek (talk) 05:37, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Newhart Makes Fun of Dallas[edit]

I seem to have very bad luck with moderators accepting my changes, so I'll put this to the talk community to see if it deserved mention in the main article:

Probably the most severe instance of Retcon I can think of was Newhart 's apparent mockery of Dallas ' retcon. Returning from the final commercial break of the final episode, Bob Newhart's character wakes up to find himself in bed with his wife from the long-cancelled, Bob Newhart Show. The entire series, wherein Bob Newhart played a Vermont inn-keeper, was thus explained away as a dream had by a character of a previous TV series, wherein Bob Newhart played a New York psychiatrist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

I am rather amazed that the article makes no mention of Dallas at all - It's a pretty major example still. Lawrie (talk) 06:51, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure Newhart counts as a retcon. It was the last episode and made the whole series a dream! The characters and situation didn't exist within their own fiction. I thought the Newhart finale was a reference to the then more-recent finale of St. Elsewhere, where the entire series existed only within Tommy Westphall's imagination. Although the theory that St. Elsewhere "didn't exist" is debatable as well. Just1thing (talk) 17:16, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Men in Black[edit]

I don't know the details sufficiently to add them to the article but in the Men in Black films the characters use their "flashy device" to retcon people who have seen aliens. Derek (talk) 05:34, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

That's just erasing people's memories, not any actually changing history. - JasonAQuest (talk) 12:30, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

This is not retcon[edit]

"He also retconned Gray Fox's death in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and brought him back in Metal Gear Solid ."

Also sentences should be edited to like that it wouldn't mean those two examples are the only ones. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 1 September 2008 (UTC)


I understand that Lex Luthor was initially portrayed as a mad scientist, but later retconned to be a business man. Why is there no mention made of either this or the many other retroactive changes in the Superman universe? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Comics generally draw a distinction between a retcon and a reboot. In the latter the continuity is usually reset (sometimes with an in-story explanation) and writers freely change and drop whatever they like in the new stories without performing great story leaps to incorporate the old continuity. Timrollpickering (talk) 14:20, 31 July 2009 (UTC)
Retroactive continuity in the DC Universe (to wich Superman belongs) is mentioned in this article several times. See the bits on The Crisis On Infinite Earths --RoyimDB (talk) 16:01, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Retcon types: adding is not true retcon[edit]

Since adding continuity does not alter what is previously established, but only fills in spots that were not filled in and build on the established continuity without contradicting, it can be argued that adding continuity is not a true form of retcon. (See the definition in the first paragraph.) In my opinion only alteration and subtraction is true retroactive continuity. --RoyimDB (talk) 16:50, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Read the section on Origins of the term. Especially the bit about All-Star Squadron. The first recorded use of the term in reference to a comic book was in the additive sense. Subsequent usage has been mostly in the alteration or subtraction senses, but the additive sense has never completely disappeared. --Khajidha (talk) 21:37, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
(Disclaimer: I am the Damian Cugley who coined the word.) For what it's worth, I would argue that the "adding" case is the only case that can be described as retroactive continuity, because it is continuity that is added retroactively. That is the sense Roy Thomas used. The other cases are often described as retcons but are not retroactive continuity, which I would claim shows that while the term originated by abbreviating the phrase "retroactive continuity", it is used today to mean something different. This is OK—words evolve and change their meanings to suit new situations. But it suggests that renaming this article from Retcon to Retroactive Continuity was a mistake. DamianCugley (talk) 19:39, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

Trimming examples from Popular Culture section[edit]

A number of the examples given weren't cases of the term or concept of retconning itself being used or otherwise discussed, but were instead examples of retconswhich is something different. A couple were dubious even by that standard: just because something works on a metafictional level doesn't mean it's a retcon. I've left in the examples where retconning is actually described as such in the examples, or where discussions of retcons seem fairly significant. Ergative rlt (talk) 01:58, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Retcon in manga[edit]

Rioliogiz has claimed at my talkpage that retcon isn't common in manga. A simple google search seems to contradict that, but I wanted to open a discussion here for comments. LHMask me a question 12:24, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

  • I don't see how that google research contradicts my claim. It certainly doesn't show examples of a great amount of retcons in manga making the medium worth mentioning in the page.(Certainly not more than films and classic literature at least). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rioliogiz (talkcontribs) 18:40, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
    It contradicts it because it shows that retcon IS fairly common in manga. LHMask me a question 18:44, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
    Can you elaborate a little?
    From that google search, the only page that actually depicts/shows/lists examples of retcons in manga is TV Tropes which is also a wiki and their manga(AND Anime) section lists about 14 series that have retcons which is the same amount as Films and half the number of Literature and Comic books sections. Let's not forget, the manga industry has been around for much longer compared to comic books and the amount of new manga series/tittles produced every year are also overwhelmingly bigger so if we go by proportions or the frequency of occurrence of retcons in manga, there is no way it deserves to be in the same level as comic books or mentioned as such in the page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rioliogiz (talkcontribs) 18:47, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
    The Google search shows that retcon is not uncommon in Manga. The fact that some areas may have MORE doesn't negate that it is used in manga, as the article states. LHMask me a question 19:22, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
    I still don't see it, every page (save for TVtropes) the google search shows does NOT talk about retcons in manga at all. Every story telling medium uses retcons. How can you say it's common when you can list 14 cases of retcons within a medium that has hundreds of new titles published every year for centuries? Granted manga does use retcons, but to mention that it is "especially common" is incorrect. I see someone edited the article so it makes more sense (as opposed to what i read earlier today), if that edit can stay i have no more objection to make.
    The article doesn't say that retcons are "especially common" in manga anymore. It says, "Retcons also appear in manga, soap operas, serial dramas, movie sequels, professional wrestling angles, video games, radio series, and other forms of serial fiction." The change was made very recently, by an IP editor, so maybe you hadn't noticed it yet. Does that change take care of your concern? LHMask me a question 20:32, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
    Yes, i think that'll do. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rioliogiz (talkcontribs) 21:48, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Glad we could work it out, @Rioliogiz:! Let me know if I can ever help you in your work here on Wikipedia. LHMask me a question 22:34, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Changes by J. R. R. Tolkien to Hobbit[edit]

I remember that he changed the part in the hobbit where Bilbo steals the ring from gollum to make gollum freak out more about it, instead of just shrugging it off. Probably worth mentioning. (talk) 04:54, 10 April 2015 (UTC)