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Now it is a curious fact that this is not the story as Bilbo first told it to his companions.
—prologue to The Lord of the Rings

A Retcon which directly ignores, contradicts or alters information in the Backstory.

The introduction of a Cousin Oliver or Long-Lost Uncle Aesop is often a Revision, while Chuck Cunningham Syndrome is often a Rewrite. Another Darrin may be either or both.

Sometimes a result of Canon Dis Continuity.

A Cliffhanger Copout is a short-term example, where the events that just happened last story are rewritten.

Not to be confused with Key Visual Arts Visual Novel of the same title.

Examples of Rewrite include:


Anime and Manga

  • From the Death Note franchise comes the two Death Note Rewrite movies. However these movies are generally just recaps of events that happened in the anime through a different perspective and the name is a pun on the show's premise.

Comics

  • The comic book Strangers in Paradise, in Vol. 3 issue #43, presents us with both an actual and a metafictional rewrite: It apparently takes place years later, when Francine and Katchoo are an elderly couple with a daughter named Ashley. Ashley has submitted a novel to a publisher, which turns out to be the story of Strangers in Paradise itself, and the publisher suggests a rewrite to make it flow better. After some minor outrage from Francine and Katchoo, they back the idea of a rewrite to make it more true to the "love story" aspect of their history, and the issue ends with the phrase, "End of Version 1." In the following issues, we see different takes of Francine revealing her first pregnancy, finally resolving in Francine going back to Katchoo, causing the rewrite to morph into a "saving throw" of removing a flash forward plot-thread from the start of volume three of the series where it's revealed that Katchoo and Francine had broken up and not seen each other in years (changed to several months and due to Katchoo being caught in bed with Casey). David's death remains intact however.
    • Less overt but still a bit of a major sting, was the issue of Katchoo's step-father's death. Terry Moore had stated in the book's letter page that the step-father, who sexually assaulted Katchoo, was long dead when asked about the character's family. But he later opted to have him die during the middle of the series' third volume, with an issue dedicated to Katchoo (who didn't know about it until after he was dead and buried) racing to his grave in order to vandalize it with the word's "Child Molester" burnt into the tombstone.
  • Garfield: In the original strips, Odie is seen as moving in with, and being owned by, Jon's roommate, Lyman. When Lyman was written out, flashbacks tended to show Jon buying Odie at a pet store.
  • In The Silver Age of Comic Books, Rainbow Girl first appeared as part of one of the occasional Terrible Interviewees Montages in the Legion of Super-Heroes. She can split into four color-coded versions of herself: red (heat), blue (cold), yellow (brightness), and green (Kryptonite Factor). Since Superboy and Supergirl are members of the Legion, she was rejected. In recent years, with the Green Lantern series establishing the emotional spectrum, Rainbow Girl is reintroduced as a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. She uses the power of the emotional spectrum and becomes a Mood Swinger as a result. Word of God says she doesn't take her powers seriously.
  • As of the Flashpoint reboot, Cyborg's Super-Hero Origin took place concurrently with the formation of the Justice League of America, resulting in him being a charter member of the team in place of the Martian Manhunter.
  • The first two Calvin and Hobbes strips shows their first meeting, which Bill Watterson felt was important at the time. In later strips, Hobbes implies that he is older than Calvin and has memories of his birth.

Film -- Live Action

  • The events of The Terminator 2 are said to take place two years prior to the beginning of The Sarah Connor Chronicles (which took place in 1999), meaning that its time was changed from 1995 to 1997.
    • This began in T3, Where John says he was 13 years old during the events of T2, when he was meant to be 10 (although the actor was 13).
      • Which would make Sarah 16 in the first one (at one point in T2, the police say she's 29; it's already hard to believe she's 19 in the first.)
    • Ironically, in several scripts, Judgment Day happened in 1999.
  • Rocky Balboa completely ignores the events of Rocky V. In the montage of clips shown from previous films, any footage from Rocky V is notably absent. As well, the brain damage Rocky suffered in Rocky V is completely ignored. This is due to Sylvester Stallone being unhappy with Rocky V and creating Rocky Balboa as the "suitable" conclusion to the Rocky saga.
    • The Broad Strokes of Rocky V did happen, like him being retired from boxing and virtually broke. Stallone did a Hand Wave in supplimentary material that said the brain damage was exaggerated by the doctors, that it eventually went away in time. Obviously Stallone hated Rocky V as much as the viewers.
      • Adrien didn't want him to fight anymore, so he never got a second opinion.

Literature

  • Perhaps the most famous (and best handled) example is Tolkien's rewriting of The Hobbit, where Bilbo obtains a ring that confers invisibility in the Misty Mountains. As The Lord of the Rings reveals this to be the One Ring, Gollum's Backstory could no longer have him offering an Artifact of Doom as a prize to Bilbo for winning the riddle contest; instead, Gollum would never forgive "Baggins" for stealing his ring. A revised edition of The Hobbit was published, and the prologue to The Lord of the Rings explained the inconsistency: the original version was the story Bilbo maintained (building on the idea that The Hobbit was actually an autobiographical novel by Bilbo himself), but Gandalf eventually learned the true story by persistent questioning.
  • The second Jurassic Park book had Ian Malcom very still alive, despite his apparent death in the first one.
    • The author hangs a Lampshade by explaining that rumors of Ian Malcom's death were exaggerated, and he still suffers ill effects.
      • This does not, however, clarify why one of the surviving main characters was talking about Malcom's funeral arrangements
  • The Star Wars novel Revan appears to do this to much of the story of Knights of the Old Republic 2.
  • The Wheel of Time takes an extra step by making this an In-Universe feature of its strongest magical attack, "balefire." Anything hit by balefire is Deader Than Dead, its "thread" burned out of the "Pattern" for all eternity (the Wheel of Time is a loom); if it's a living thing, anything it did for the past [amount of time] is undone. This not only stops the Dark One from bringing Quirky Miniboss Squad members Back From the Dead, it can be used to un-die main characters those villains had killed... but historically the spell was outlawed, after flagrant misuse and Continuity Snarls resulting threatened to unravel creation itself.
  • In Gary Brandner's The Howling, the character of Marcia is specifically shot through the eye by a silver bullet and drops dead. In the sequel, Marcia is revealed to be alive after the bullet just grazed her. Her eyes are fine and in human form the only sign of injury is a streak of grey hair. Unfortunately, the silver made it so she could no longer transform properly.


Live Action TV

  • Red Dwarf underwent continuous rewrites; or to be more precise showed a cavalier disregard to its own backstory when there was a gag to be made. Most notably, the idea in the early seasons that Lister had barely spoken to Kochanski was contradicted in the novels, where they had a brief relationship before she dumped him. Later episodes would follow that version. Another major one is Rimmer's light bee; it went from being Rimmer's remote projection unit to actually being Rimmer.
    • Not to mention that the light bee originally didn’t exist. The only way for Rimmer to leave Red Dwarf was within the confinement of a “Hologrammic Projection Cage.”
  • At one point, a TV series was in production that would focus on the nephew of MacGyver, who was an only child in the series.
  • Smallville does this with character backgrounds and attributes. It's so blatant that it makes one wonder whether the writers/producers are just too damn lazy to go back and re-watch episodes or look up information on their characters on one of the many, many, many online databases documenting every character, in detail, from the main cast to the most throwaway guest star, or they're hoping viewers have poor recollection of the events and they won't go back and look. Or, Viewers are Morons. For example:
    • Chloe's mother: Chloe woke up one morning at age five to find her mother inexplicably gone and her father "trying to make waffles" (Lineage) vs. Chloe, at around eight or nine, comes home to watch her mother get carted off by the Men In White. (Progeny)
    • Chloe and Smallville: Chloe moved to Smallville (or any rural place, as she though farmer Clark "was Amish") for the first time when she was thirteen (Obscura) vs. Chloe lived in Smallville early enough to have been affected by the meteors, allowing her meteor-mutant-controlling mother to accidentally control her and leave for Chloe's safety. (Progeny)
    • Lex's Mother: Lex's mother was a redhead, as supported by his genetics (Lex has naturally red hair), Lionel's apparent infatuation with redheads (Lillian, Pamela from Crush, Rachel Dunleavy from Lineage, Martha Kent), show creators' confirmation that Lionel likes redheads, and that she appeared as one in Lexmas, vs. Lex's mother was a brunette and Lex dated women based on her. (Bound)
    • Clark Leaving Krypton: Clark's parents both sent him off to earth (Memoria) vs. Clark sent himself off to earth via some twist in space and time, and his parents were no where to be seen. (Apocalypse)
      • Brainiac may have killed Jor-El and Lara right after they placed Kal-El inside the ship.
    • Shawn Ashmore played a villain in a couple of early seasons, only to show up later as Jimmy Olsen. No, wait, that isn't him!... it's his twin brother. And nobody noticed.
  • Old TV Serials, such as Undersea Kingdon were notorious for rewriting Cliffhangers. "Oh no, Crash Corrigan collapsed in the certain death room! Oh, wait, they introduced a floor-hole between episodes and had Crash jump through it, and thus he's no longer being showered in sparks."
  • On Full House, Uncle Jesse goes from being Jesse Cochran to Jesse Katsopolis.

Video Games

  • God of War II does this to the first game's continuity. At the end of the first game, the narrator expounds upon Kratos's retaining the throne of the God of War for all time, explicitly showing flash-forwards to WWII and modern counter-terrorist forces as she talks of his presiding over all armed conflict. At the beginning of the second game, Zeus strips Kratos of his mantle of godhood and boots him from Olympus, and Kratos does not regain his godhood by the ending. By the end of the third game, Olympus is completely ruined, so there's no throne for Kratos to reclaim...although the The End - or Is It? ending of the third game still leaves room for him to possibly return.
  • The Final Fantasy VII OVA did this, and then Crisis Core did this with both the OVA and the original game.
    • The creators have said that the OVA has been replaced by Crisis Core in canon, however, how much of Crisis Core is Revision or Re-Write is arguable. In the original Final Fantasy VII game, we only saw part of the Nibelheim incident, and only from the perspective of Cloud and what he remembered following the experimentation, mako poisoning, mental breakdown/denial, etc., so much of the changes in Crisis Core can be considered Revisions (for example, the fact that Genesis was involved in Nibelheim would seem like a Re-Write, except that Cloud never saw him and Zack never mentioned his appearance to Cloud, so that is likely a Revision).
  • While most of the changes between Metroid: Zero Mission and the original game it's a remake of can be explained away as simple retcons, there's no ignoring the fact that Kraid and Ridley have gone from human-sized to a two-story Godzilla clone and a giant flying dragon respectively.
    • Word of God states that they were always intended to be the size they were in Metroid Zero Mission.
  • This happens when a new developer takes over the Tomb Raider series. Lara's whole background is changed to make her more developed. Legend also implies that all but the first Tomb Raider game never happened.
    • Then later in Underworld, it's implied that parts of it happened or at least Lara mentions encountering a Doppelganger before. Also, she is closer to Crystal Dynamics Lara than the original. Go figure.
  • Harvest Moon 64 and the redone version "Harvest Moon Back To Nature",better known for it's ports "Friends of Mineral Town" and "More Friends of Mineral Town",are completely different. Almost everything is rewritten. Personalities,back stories,jobs,some names and even family relations. However,they are in alternate worlds so...
    • This more comes with the territory of the Harvest Moon series blatantly recycling character designs and personalities on a mass level. It's just so blatant in Back to Nature because of the fact that that marked a direct case of copying the entire cast of 64, rather than picking and choosing from the series as a whole as is usually done.
  • The ending of Star Wars Rebel Assault deliberately rewrites the ending of A New Hope so that player character Rookie One and his wingman Ru Murleen are the ones who destroy the Death Star, instead of Luke Skywalker. Rookie One fires the missile that travels down the exhaust shaft, and many more fighters are seen to survive the attack (at least seven fighters in Rebel Assault compared to the two X-Wings, and later an additional Y-Wing in the Special Edition, from the film).

Web Comics

Western Animation

 Darth Vegan: "... And I didn't even know that creatures from Razoria lived on Earth!"

Johnny and Dukey: "Razoria?"

cut to their arrival
 

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