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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Is Dawn in "Buffy" Tv Series a Retroactive Continuity ?

John August

Friday 1 December 2006, by Webmaster


In doing some research for a project today, I came across a great term I’d never seen: retcon. According to Wikipedia:

Retroactive continuity or retcon is the adding of new information to "historical" material, or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction. The change itself is referred to as a "retcon", and the act of writing and publishing a retcon is called "retconning". Retconning can be done either on-purpose, or accidentally, wherein a break in continuity is not noticed until later and is then blessed by later events.

The full article has many examples.

Many of my favorite TV shows and comic books have gone through significant retconning. The first thing that comes to mind is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which not only gave Buffy a kid sister in the fifth season, but made the reconfiguration of the backstories a key plot point. It was almost a meta-retcon. Which is too much responsibility to pile on a word I’ve only known for about for 15 minutes.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer retcons a number of elements from the film (for example, in the series Buffy had burned down her old school’s gym, which didn’t happen in the film). The character of Anyanka was also retconned both in powers and personality. In her initial appearance in The Wish, dialog from Giles indicates that destroying her "power center" will reverse all of the wishes she’s granted. When she re-appeared in Doppelgangland new, previously unspoken, dialog in the "previously" section substantially narrowed the effect. Personality-wise, when Anyanka first spoke with Cordelia Chase she was fairly worldly and sophisticated, having knowledge of such pop cultural artifacts as Prada bags and W Magazine. In later appearances she is much more naive, knowing little to nothing of human customs, conventions or manners.