Reboot (fiction)

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The Godzilla film franchise, which began in 1954, has been rebooted numerous times. Pictured here is a promotional still for Godzilla Raids Again (1955). Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Godzilla vs Anguirus.jpg
The Godzilla film franchise, which began in 1954, has been rebooted numerous times. Pictured here is a promotional still for Godzilla Raids Again (1955).

In serial fiction, the term "reboot" signifies a new start to an established fictional universe, work, or series. A reboot discards continuity to re-create its characters, plotlines and backstory from the beginning. [1] [2] It has been described as a way to "rebrand" [3] or "restart an entertainment universe that has already been established". [1]


Another definition of a reboot is a remake which is part of an established film series or other media franchise. [4] The term has been criticised for being a vague and "confusing" [5] "buzzword", [6] and a neologism for remake, [7] [8] a concept which has been losing popularity since 2010. [9] [10] William Proctor proposes that there is a distinction between reboots, remakes and retcons. [11]


The term is thought to originate from the computing term reboot , meaning to restart a computer system. [1] [2] There is a change in meaning: the computing term refers to restarting the same program unaltered, while the term discussed here refers to revising a narrative from the beginning. [12] The first known use of reboot applied to an entertainment franchise was in a 1994 Usenet posting. [13]


Say you’ve had 187 issues of 'The Incredible Hulk' and you decide you’re going to introduce a new Issue 1. You pretend like those first 187 issues never happened, and you start the story from the beginning and the slate is wiped clean, and no one blinks. One of the reasons they do that is after 10 years of telling the same story, it gets stale and times change. So we did the cinematic equivalent of a reboot, and by doing that, setting it at the beginning, you’re instantly distancing yourself from anything that’s come before.

Reboots cut out non-essential elements associated with a pre-established franchise and start it anew, distilling it down to the core elements that made the source material popular. [15] For audiences, reboots allow easier entry for newcomers unfamiliar with earlier titles in a series. [15]

Comic books

In comic books, a long-running title may have its continuity erased to start over from the beginning, enabling writers to redefine characters and open up new story opportunities, allowing the title to bring in new readers. [1] [16] Comic books sometimes use an in-universe explanation for a reboot, such as merging parallel worlds and timelines together, or destroying a fictional universe and recreating it from the beginning. [17] [18] [19]


With reboots, filmmakers revamp and reinvigorate a film series to attract new fans and stimulate revenue. [2] [14] A reboot can renew interest in a series that has grown stale. [20] Reboots act as a safe project for a studio, since a reboot with an established fanbase is less risky (in terms of expected profit) than an entirely original work, while at the same time allowing the studio to explore new demographics. [21]


A television series can return to production after cancellation or a long hiatus. [22] [23] Whereas a reboot disregards the previous continuity of a work, the term has also been used as a "catch all" phrase to categorize sequel series or general remakes due to the rise of such productions in the late 2010s. [24] [25]

A related concept is retooling, which is used to substantially change the premise of a series while keeping some of the core characters. Retools are usually part of an effort to forestall cancellation of a still running production. [26]

Video games

Reboots and remakes are common in the video game industry. [15] Remakes in video games are used to refresh the storyline and elements of the game and to take advantage of technology and features not available at the time of earlier entries. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Retroactive continuity</span> Revision of existing facts in fiction

Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established diegetic facts in the plot of a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, supplemented, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which recontextualizes or breaks continuity with the former.

Sequel Part of a linear narrative that continues the story of a previous work

A sequel is a work of literature, film, theatre, television, music or video game that continues the story of, or expands upon, some earlier work. In the common context of a narrative work of fiction, a sequel portrays events set in the same fictional universe as an earlier work, usually chronologically following the events of that work.

The reset button technique is a plot device that interrupts continuity in works of fiction. Simply put, use of a reset button device returns all characters and situations to the status quo they held before a major change of some sort was introduced. It is typically used in the middle of a program to "negate" some portion of what came before. Often used in science fiction television series, animated series, soap operas, and comic books, the device allows elaborate and dramatic changes to characters and the fictional universe that might otherwise invalidate the premise of the show with respect to future episodes' or issues' continuity. Writers may, for example, use the technique to allow the audience to experience the death of the lead character, which traditionally would not be possible without effectively ending the work.

Canon (fiction) Concept of continuity between different fictional works

In fiction, canon is the material accepted as officially part of the story in an individual universe of that story by its fan base. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction. The alternative terms mythology, timeline, universe and continuity are often used, with the first of these being used especially to refer to a richly detailed fictional canon requiring a large degree of suspension of disbelief, while the latter two typically refer to a single arc where all events are directly connected chronologically. Other times, the word can mean "to be acknowledged by the creator(s)".

Transformers is a media franchise produced by American toy company Hasbro and Japanese toy company Takara Tomy. It primarily follows the Autobots and the Decepticons, two alien robot factions at war that can transform into other forms, such as vehicles and animals. The franchise encompasses toys, animation, comic books, video games and films. As of 2011, it generated more than ¥2 trillion in revenue, making it one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

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