1000 Things We Hate #44: Excessive Retconning

9 04 2010

“Retroactive continuity (often shortened to retcon) is the deliberate changing of previously established facts in a work of serial.”

"SUPERBOY PUNCH!!!" and there goes twenty years of continuity...

Most often seen in Comic Books.  Also known as Comic Book Death.

Now, I find it very interesting and compelling when authors go back and add a varied interpretation to events that have previously happened.  Hell, that was the whole point of Identity Crisis, and I really enjoyed that.  I like seeing writers squirm around inside a set of constrained events to make something out of them.  That’s neat to me.

However, I do not like how every couple of years writers are like “Oh hey… they weren’t realllllly dead… nawh, just playin’ with ya fools.”

Or, how about… uh, Peter Parker’s not married anymore… and now no one knows his identity (basically) and he no longer has a kid… and Aunt May has died, undied, redied, undied, died, etc.

Captain America didn’t really die… noooooooooo way!  He was shot with a special sniper bullet!  He was locked in time stasis… yeah, that’s it.

Barry Allen’s Alive!  And his parents were killed now too for no real reason!  Awesome!

Psylocke’s british!  Now she’s Japanese!  Now she’s Japanese but looks American!  She dies her hair!  It’s normally that color!  Yeah!

Oh, you mean 50 years of comic book continuity have been based around Oa being the center of the Universe and now it’s earth and the Guardians have proven to be secretive and ineffective yet again… yeah, not surprised.

I mean, when one of these things happens at least every year to some small extent and every three years to a big extent, it limits the capabilities of keeping your fans trusting you and really you room to write.  You’re so out of ideas that you can’t actually come up with an original story with new, fresh characters and now feel obligated to revisit some past event and fuck it up.

That’s just really fucking annoying.

Didn't he used to be old or something?

Now, this isn’t just limited to comics although they may be the largest perpetrators of it.  Star Wars and Doctor Who are fairly commonly known for it.  More so Doctor Who which just kind of prides itself on it.

Videogames also do it a lot.

And, apparently Frank Baum did it a decent amount with Wizard of Oz.

Nevertheless, when a media constantly does it nearly every year, it just gets old.

So please, create some original stories and stop being so constrained by your lack of creativity.  Frankly, I want things like death to be a bit more permanent.

For a list of all the characters to have ever died in comics (where probably half of them have been resurrected since) check out: Dead Characters.

And a list of important Retcons in a variety of media check: Rehhhhttttcons.


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