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Stradleyism: The act of dismissing an element of canon altogether on grounds of it being "stupid", without taking the effort to do something interesting with it.
Thefourdotelipsis, Wookieepedia, on Dark Horse Comics writer Randy Stradley (emphasis added)

You have an ongoing serial or a Verse of some kind. In the canon of that work is an element that has become an embarrassment or is just plain out of date, one that has been abandoned or is in severe danger of being abandoned. Canon Dis Continuity is what happens when that element is written out. Reimagining the Artifact, on the other hand, is what happens when you try and make that element work with the overall tone of the serial.

To qualify, the element must have either been abandoned or been treated purely as The Artifact.

If the problem was with an Artifact Title, this strategy may result in a retroactively-Justified Title.

Related to Reconstruction (when something similar is done for a trope or genre, rather than a character or concept) and Rescued From the Scrappy Heap. Took a Level In Badass is also related. See also Cerebus Retcon, where something similar happens mid-story.

Examples of Reimagining the Artifact include:


Comic Books

  • Apache Chief, widely regarded as one of the lamest of the Superfriends, was re-adapted in 2002 by Joe Kelly into a much more interesting character, Manitou Raven.
  • Many would argue that this is what Brian Michael Bendis has done with Marvel's lesser or dated 1970s characters like Luke Cage and the first Spider-Woman.
    • According to his commentary in an Ultimate Spider-Man collection, Bendis seemed to believe he was doing this with Venom when he was brought into that series. Their treatment of the Clone Saga is a more solid example.
  • Grant Morrisons Batman has a bunch of these, as part of his quest to make everything canon.
    • Grant Morrison loves doing this: in his JLA run, he brought back such goofy stuff as Aquaman's Silver Age imp sidekick Quisp in a way that fit the tone of the new title. And Seven Soldiers was a project whose entire remit was to take dated or underused old characters and re-imagine them for today. All-Star Superman is similarly almost nothing but Reimagining Artifacts from the 1960s and 1950s stories.
  • Arguably this is the entire point of Planetary, except when Warren Ellis is savaging superhero characters.
  • Superman had several of these:
    • Bizarro was a silly character; nowadays, the silly character is around, but the idea of "Flawed Superman clone" (the mechanics, whether there's only one or the process to make them is sufficiently known to allow more to be made, and other details vary) called "Bizarro" has been brought back repeatedly in both the comics and adaptions.
    • Krypto the Superdog has recently (by comic-book standards) been brought back... but to keep down the silly factor, he's sufficiently ill-tempered that he has to be kept in the Fortress of Solitude, and thus serves as a guard dog rather than as an Non-Human Sidekick.
  • Don Rosa did tons of this in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Film - Live Action

  • On Star Trek: The Original Series, Dr. McCoy's nickname "Bones" comes from the term "Sawbones", which was an old nickname for doctors. Since the term has fallen from the parlance, the 2009 film had Kirk call McCoy "Bones" because, in his introduction, he explains he's joining Starfleet because "The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I've got left is my bones.".

Literature

 No, not the mind probe![1]

Live Action Television

  • Just about everything in the Ron Moore version of Battlestar Galactica.
  • Ryan Howard of America's version of The Office eventually lost his role as the newcomer for obvious reasons, and went through an arc that saw him become a Corrupt Corporate Executive and then fall from grace. Despite having no storyline to advance, he stuck around because as he is played by an executive producer on the show. Recent seasons have remedied this by making the character into a satire of a hipster, thus giving him something unique to do again.

Tabletop Games

  • Pathfinder had several bestiaries dedicated to re-imagining various monsters; in particular, "Misfit Monsters Redeemed" is purely this trope, as they chose the stupidest monsters from the Gygax era and attempted to make them work.

Video Games

  • Mortal Kombat's Palette Swap ninjas were a running joke in the series. They were an artifact of a time when limited sprites were able to fit on the hardware available, and so some needed to be reused. From Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance onwards they were all given a complete overhaul and unique looks.

Western Animation

  • Similar to the above Apache Chief/Manitou Raven example, the campy characters original to the old Superfriends show were re-imagined as the Ultimen and given a tragic arc in an episode of the DC Animated Universe Justice League series.
  • The villains in the new Thundercats 2011 series are named after each animal they're based on--Lizards, Jackals, etc.--instead of them all being called "Mutants".

Notes

  1. Delivered in a slightly alarmed manner. They probably weren't paying the actor very much.
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