Retcon

What does retcon mean?

Retroactively change

To retcon a story means to retroactively add, edit, or eliminate a pre-existing plot point in service of the story's current narrative. The word retcon is short for "retroactive continuity," and while it is most often used in relation to American superhero comics and their ever-fluid, decades-long narratives, the word is now also used more generally (perhaps because geek culture now permeates pop culture).

Most notably, retcon has entered the world of politics, in which politicians who attempt to walk back previous statements or explain prior actions in light of new facts may be accused of retconning the past. Retcons also occur on TV shows (think the addition of Dawn on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") in movies (think Letty's return in the Fast and Furious franchise) and in books (think Sherlock Holmes surviving "The Final Problem").

In the future, the general public will likely become even more familiar with the term retcon, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe enters an era in which retconning becomes an attractive way to explain away inevitable continuity errors and integrate the popular Fantastic Four and X-Men properties into the franchise.

Example

"I really wish they hadn't given Spider-Man organic web shooters. They're just gross."
"Ah, I'm sure they'll retcon them back out eventually."

One of many scenes that George Lucas retconned into Star Wars

Related Slang

Usage

Last Updated: October 13, 2020

Retcon definition

This page explains what the slang term "Retcon" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slangit team.

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