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A blend of retroactive +‎ continuity. The term retroactive continuity was popularized by comics writer Roy Thomas, who was known for writing superhero comic books set decades in the past such as All-Star Squadron and attributes it to an anonymous source.[1]



retcon (plural retcons)

  1. A situation, in a soap opera or similar serial fiction, in which a new storyline explains or changes a previous event or attaches a new significance to it.
    • 2003, Glen Cadigan, The Legion Companion, p. 152:
      TLC: What do you say to the Legion fans who have become disenfranchised with the series due to its various retcons and reboots?
    • 2005, Rhonda Wilcox, Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, p. 9:
      Fans talk of retcon—retroactive continuity—giving information that explains an earlier event, especially seeming plot contradictions or lacunae.
    • 2006, Glenn Yeffeth, ed., The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman, p. 155:
      It's a little trick called retcon, short for "retroactive continuity," []
      Yet I'm unsure even Millar is fully aware of the power given him by the retcon.


retcon (third-person singular simple present retcons, present participle retconning, simple past and past participle retconned)

  1. To employ such a device.
    • 2003, Jean-Marc Lofficier, The Nth Doctor, p. 5:
      While ‘retconning' the scripts, I came up with a number of theories that throw new light on the Doctor, his past, and various other elements []
    • 2004, Eric Nolen-Weathington, Modern Masters Volume 3: Bruce Timm, p.79:
      A lot of people were like, "Oh, they just retconned their own continuity. They should have used Kyle. I don't like that." So we just threw Kyle in there to say, "No, no, Kyle's still there. He still exists in the animated universe; he's just not stationed on Earth at the moment, regularly."
    • 2006, Len Wein, ed., The Unauthorized X-Men: SF and Comic Writers on Mutants, Prejudice, and Adamantium 92:
      Retroactive continuity (aka retconning), would reveal that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are also Magneto's children, showing that this was a guy who was really committed to his cause
    • 2006, Michael Eury, Daniel (CON) Best, Glen (CON) Cadigan, Mike (CON) Esposito, David (CON) Mandel, The Krypton Companion, p. 157:
      Luthor appeared a handful of times, Gary "retconned" the Toyman and created Terra-Man, and Superman would get a worthy opponent whenever Len Wein did a fill-in.

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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Roy Thomas (February 1983), “letters column”, in All-Star Squadron, volume 1, issue 18, DC Comics:
    As for what Roy himself (myself) is trying to do, we like to think an enthusiastic ALL-STAR booster at one of Adam Malin's Creation Conventions in San Diego came up with the best name for it, a few months back: ‘Retroactive Continuity.’ Has kind of a ring [to it], don't you think?