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Biggest Supposed Discontinuities in Sci-Fi Franchises (no defenses!)

4th of Eleven

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There are a number of bits of Battletech that have been broken off over the years:

  • The Sword and The Dagger was written first and there are some details in it that are not really the same as these days.
  • The Saban cartoon is now officially an in-universe propoganda cartoon, which vaguely gives some hints of what happened.
  • The last chapter of Surrender Your Dreams, set decades into the future, has been disowned after the future was rewritten.
  • The BattleTechnology magazine used to be considered canon but now isn't.
  • The various computer games have varying degrees of attachment to the core universe of the board game.
And, of course, there's the one novel where a bunch of mechwarriors fall into a wormhole and end up on a planet of intelligent bird-people which... hasn't officially been deemed non-canonical, but has been put in the 'We will never, ever, ever reference this again' category.
 

Coyote's Own

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Well, to start with, he works for 'the Dept of External Security' in season one and 'the Phoenix Foundation' from season 2 onwards. That would be fine, as he could have literally changed jobs, but there were references which make it seem like he'd been there for years and years. They also oscillated between his past being a lovable loser with a rather pedestrian home life outside of being a do-gooder special agent or being a ladies man with a opulent lifestyle (couldn't decide if he was more James Bond without guns or Jim Rockford as a secret agent). But mostly every time the episode needed to have him have 'previous experience in _______' he retroactively had done so professionally. To quote TvTropes: "Expansion Pack Past: MacGyver has a college degree in physics, comprehensive knowledge of mechanics, chemistry, and any other specialty required by a given plot, worked as a deck hand on a tramp steamer, was a bomb disposal expert for the Special Forces in Vietnam, was a professional racing car driver, played Olympic-calibre ice hockey but had a tragic accident that kept him out of the Olympics, worked as an apprentice and assistant to a noted archaeologist, trained as a pilot, worked as a backwoodsman in the Rockies, a lumberjack and a taxi driver, all before becoming a secret agent. Adding to the confusion, the first and second seasons gave two incompatible versions of his initial meeting with Pete Thornton. Furthermore, the final episode reveals he has a long-lost son."
So he jury-rigged together his past various surprisingly different elements in a whole, that surprisingly somehow works?
Was there a way described such processes. It's not the tip of my tongue.
 

WistfulD

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So, he's Jamie Hyneman?
Well, or a subversion/comedic representation thereof. MacGyver effectively wasn't a former racecar driver until the writer's needed him to have been so for this week's script to work, and thus he retroactive was. The instant most of us met Jamie Hyneman in 2003, one of the first things we learned about him pretty much was how he'd already done every-friggin'-thing. And that was kind of important to his characterization, if he was supposed to be the quiet, experienced, elder voice of reason to Adam Savage's (also already ridiculous experienced) cavalier young lancer routine. The introduced him as a special effects maker/boat captain/certified dive master/wilderness survival expert/linguist/pet store owner/animal wrangler/machinist/concrete inspector/chef, rather than it come into being retroactive (well, they keep it in their back pocket and we find out about it retroactively, Jamie Hyneman being a nonfiction, real individual makes the comparison a little tricky to phrase here).

So he jury-rigged together his past various surprisingly different elements in a whole, that surprisingly somehow works?
Was there a way described such processes. It's not the tip of my tongue.
Clever, but given the subject of this thread*, isn't it just a straightforward retroactive continuity?
*Hmm, when I mentioned MacGyver and MASH, I guess I forgot that our premise was supposed to be restricted to sci-fi
 

SorcererNinja

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Well, to start with, he works for 'the Dept of External Security' in season one and 'the Phoenix Foundation' from season 2 onwards. That would be fine, as he could have literally changed jobs, but there were references which make it seem like he'd been there for years and years. They also oscillated between his past being a lovable loser with a rather pedestrian home life outside of being a do-gooder special agent or being a ladies man with a opulent lifestyle (couldn't decide if he was more James Bond without guns or Jim Rockford as a secret agent). But mostly every time the episode needed to have him have 'previous experience in _______' he retroactively had done so professionally. To quote TvTropes: "Expansion Pack Past: MacGyver has a college degree in physics, comprehensive knowledge of mechanics, chemistry, and any other specialty required by a given plot, worked as a deck hand on a tramp steamer, was a bomb disposal expert for the Special Forces in Vietnam, was a professional racing car driver, played Olympic-calibre ice hockey but had a tragic accident that kept him out of the Olympics, worked as an apprentice and assistant to a noted archaeologist, trained as a pilot, worked as a backwoodsman in the Rockies, a lumberjack and a taxi driver, all before becoming a secret agent. Adding to the confusion, the first and second seasons gave two incompatible versions of his initial meeting with Pete Thornton. Furthermore, the final episode reveals he has a long-lost son."
The reboot series has MacGyver's organization turned into the Phoenix Foundation in the first episode because their old cover got blown, which is something you could say happened to original MacGyver. Most of the rest of that is pretty wild, though.
 

HDimagination

Building something out of Scrap
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The Terminator Franchise. Can't believe this thread got so far without it getting a mention. T2 was meant to wrap up the franchise in a bow, then T3 comes along and kinda pisses all over that idea. Then we have Salvation and Genysis, both of which were meant to start ongoing series of films which never landed. Also, the Sarah Conner Chronicles, which while excellent, was firmly out of continuity from the get go. Now they are trying again, and clearly stating that next film is ignoring anything that happened after T2.
 

mpswaim

Emo Dad
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The Terminator Franchise. Can't believe this thread got so far without it getting a mention. T2 was meant to wrap up the franchise in a bow, then T3 comes along and kinda pisses all over that idea. Then we have Salvation and Genysis, both of which were meant to start ongoing series of films which never landed. Also, the Sarah Conner Chronicles, which while excellent, was firmly out of continuity from the get go. Now they are trying again, and clearly stating that next film is ignoring anything that happened after T2.
Genysis and SCC are both about time travel breaking continuity. One episode of SCC had two characters reminisce about an event, only to realize by the end of the episode that the event played out very differently if their respective futures. That'd either put it in the lead for this category, or utterly disqualify it.
 

Azimer the Mad

Knight of Chaos
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Discontinuity is hilarious in the Universal Monsters films.

I understand this on behalf of the writing staff. After all, how could anyone rewatch films in the 30s unless they were rereleased? Without internet, TV, or physical media recordings you have an audience who will vaguely-kinda remember the other films and can't go back and check.

Whole characters and events are written into continuity. Sudden there's a police chief who's arms was ripped out by Frankenstein's monster as a child.. which we never saw. When my son was a baby, I had to pace back and forth to keep him asleep, and in one session watched four mummy movies. Seeing as every sequel is a new generation, math shows a movie made in '44 happens somewhere in the 70;s to 90's. One film, the undead Kharis sinks in quicksand in New England. Next film, he's pulled out of quicksand in Louisiana.
 

WistfulD

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I understand this on behalf of the writing staff. After all, how could anyone rewatch films in the 30s unless they were rereleased? Without internet, TV, or physical media recordings you have an audience who will vaguely-kinda remember the other films and can't go back and check.
It also might be worth mentioning that, well and beyond the viewing publics ability to go back and check the old film, there probably wasn't the unwritten rule that we now kinda-sorta have regarding inter-film continuity being a goal to shoot for.
 
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