Reboot (continuity)

From Academic Kids

Reboot, in series fiction, means to discard all previous continuity in the series and start anew. Effectively, all previously-known history is declared by the writer to be null and void and the series starts over from the beginning. It is analogous to the process of rebooting a computer, clearing out all working memory and reloading the operating system from scratch; neglecting offline storage, none of the previous session's activities have any bearing on the product of the current session, except in the memory of the operator (writer).

This differs from a creator producing a separate interpretation of another creator's work; rather, the owner of the creation declares that the rebooted continuity is now the official version.

This term is often applied to comic books, where the prevailing continuity can be very important to the progress of future installments, acting (depending on circumstances and one's point of view) as a rich foundation from which to develop characters and storylines, or as a box limiting the story options available to tell and an irreconcilable mess of contradictory history.


  • Arguably this is what DC Comics did in the late 1950s when it reintroduced several characters that had been staples of their superhero comics in the 1940s, but had since disappeared from the public eye. The Flash was relaunched with a different name and costume, and other characters, including Green Lantern, Hawkman, and The Atom, were re-introduced (mostly with more science fiction-influenced attributes).
  • DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986 had far-reaching effects on many DC titles. One of the goals of the event was to make DC continuity less complicated and more modern, and this involved complete reboots of Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and others. (The histories of some other characters were merely retconned.) This may be the earliest use of the term "reboot" in this way, though it is unlikely that the term was widely used at the time, when most readers were still unfamiliar with the operation of computers.
  • DC's Legion of Super-Heroes comic book had its continuity rebooted in the events surrounding Zero Hour in 1994. The characters' stories came to a decisive close, the previous 36 years of continuity were discarded, and a new Legion made up of similar characters based on the earlier versions began their careers without any mention of the previous continuity (except for tacit allusions).
  • Marvel Comics, in the mid-1990s, turned several of their titles over to studios affiliated with Image Comics, and these titles (Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Avengers, and Iron Man) were rebooted in their own separate universe, while the rest of Marvel's line maintained the original continuity in which the affected characters were presumed to have died in a cataclysmic battle. The rebooted titles lasted only a year, at which point the heroes involved returned to the original universe. See Heroes Reborn.
  • In 2003, the Robotech universe was rebooted with the launch of Wildstorm's new comic book series. While it does occasionally borrow characters and situations introduced in lore that existed prior (most notably Robotech II: The Sentinels), Harmony Gold USA now considers only the original 85 episode animated series (and possibly the current Wildstorm comic) as canon.
  • In 2003, Battlestar Galactica was rebooted by the SciFi channel's miniseries of the same name. Two previously male characters (Starbuck & Boomer) were re-imagined as female. Baltar, the traitor to humanity, is depicted in the miniseries as merely a pawn being taken advantage of by the Cylons, as opposed to the original power-mad character in the original series. The ruling Council of Twelve was replaced by a president, with a line of succession similar to that of the presidency of the United States. The Cylons, who were originally an android race created by aliens and later at war with humanity, was re-imagined as a race of computers originally created by humanity that evolved into an enemy of humankind. The Cylons come in many designs, such as the older classic design, more modern fighting machines (both humanoid and vehicular), and stealth units designed to impersonate humans for the purpose of infiltration.

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