Entertainment

5 Types of Retcons that Prove TV Writers Think We’re Drooling Idiots

We’ve all seen retcons – something happens on a TV show that contradicts events which have already happened in the series. The show then tries to explain the discrepancy through some elaborate ruse.

Unfortunately, accepting this “reality alteration” usually involves suspension of your disbelief and the laws of space/time. Here are some time-tested retcons that totally ignore any attempt at making sense:

1. THE GROWN-UP BABY FROM THE PAST

mork and mindy

Old-School fans of “All My Children” know that Erica Kane(Susan Lucci) had an abortion. 33 years later, it is revealed that it was not an abortion, but a fetal tissue transplant- she now has a 33-year-old son.

This pushes logic to its limits, as a fetal tissue transplant was not available when Erica went in for her abortion. In the spirit of “an eye for an eye,” it would be fitting if her nearly-aborted son attacked her with a coat hanger.

Other Examples: “Mork & Mindy” give birth to a grown-up baby; Dorian Lord’s daughter pops up on “One Life to Live”

2. THE GIANT EUPHEMISM

fraiser

On “Cheers,” Frasier claimed his mom was alive, his dad was dead, and he was an only child. When Sam Malone popped into an episode of “Frasier,” and confronted him on this, Frasier claimed “dead” and “only child” was a euphemisms for being estranged from his dad and brother.

Just like “I’m Niles Crane, filling in for Frasier’s radio show” was a euphemism for “Kelsey Grammar is in rehab so he can be `estranged’ from coke.”

Other Examples: Nearly half of the “explanations” for all the weird stuff on “Lost,” particularly the magic box (which turned out to be a “euphemism”)

3. THE INCREDIBLY WELL-SCRIPTED DREAM:

dallas

On “Dallas,” main character Bobby Ewing was dead for an entire season. Then, his wife finds him alive in the shower, and realizes the entire TV season has been a dream. Let this be a warning – at any time, you could wake up and find your dead grandmother in the shower.

Other Examples: “Roseanne’s” turd-covered final season; “Married with Children’s” Peggy pregnancy

4. THE RIDICULOUSLY UNNECCESSARY EXPLANATION

klingon

The original “Star Trek” Klingons had poor makeup which made them look like they worked day jobs as Benihana’s wait staff. When later versions of the series had Klingons who looked totally different, the old Klingons’ shitty appearance was explained through several different retcons. The worst attempt to retcon this was when Worf went back in time, and sold Avon.

Other Examples: Sydney Bristow from “Alias” assassinates a “genetic duplicate” of her mother; pretty much any time someone gets killed on “24” and comes back to life; “Quantum Leap’s” bizarre combination of magical physics and divine intervention to create Sam’s episodic time warps

5. THE COMPLETE DENIAL:

wonder woman

In season one of the “Wonder Woman” TV show, Wonder Woman had never met a man before leaving Paradise Island. Next season, Wonder Woman had a brand new, romance-filled back story, with no explanation as to the change. In related news, the Bible has been ret-conned to include the spicy love life of the Virgin Mary.

Other Examples: Chuck Cunningham’s disappearance from “Happy Days”; Judy vanishing from “Family Matters”; Columbo’s wife first getting a divorce, then never being married to Columbo on “Mrs. Columbo,” which then had to be renamed “Kate Loves a Mystery.”

Leave a Comment

  1. ben says:

    great posting

  2. leetsmythe says:

    The Peggy Bundy pregnancy dream was done because Katy Sagal suffered a miscarriage, so the writers felt it would be unnecessarily cruel to put her in storylines featuring a baby.

  3. pkmn says:

    Is the Columbo one really a retcon? I always thought it was implied that the stories he tells about his wife were bullshit he just used to get into the murderer's head, not actual true stories… but I'm not a Columbo expert.

    Agreed the Star Trek one was needless. Gene Roddenberry addressed the difference saying something like "If we had a makeup budget in TOS, they'd have looked like they did in TNG.. so just pretend they look like TNG klingons when you watch TOS." Worf addressed the difference in DS9 "Trials and Tribble-ations" saying "We don't talk about it," but I always assumed that was just a joke… not that there was an actual story.

  4. ghirdietus says:

    The Wonder Woman one was explained–season two took place 20-30 years after season one and the Steve Trevor in season one was the father of the Steve Trevor in season two (which admittedly is lame). Steve Trevor Sr. was the first man Wonder Woman met and loved and when she saw Junior it was all explained. You'd think the fact that it was the 70's in season two suddenly might clue one in to the fact that time has passed since the first season, if they missed the dialogue explaining it.

  5. MurrayC says:

    And let's not forget the show "Happy Days" where Richie had an older brother named "Chuck" in the first season, and then was never seen again. The unofficial idea is that he went off to fight in the Korean war and never came home.

  6. Brett says:

    Best "It was all a dream" show ever: The final episode of "Newhart".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newhart

  7. Jim says:

    What about the US version of "Life on Mars", stupid dream sequence. I loved that show up until the last 5 minutes.

  8. tayyabr says:

    hmmm

  9. Itaintrite says:

    I spit on the crap that was Life on Mars US remake. Go watch the Original British version.

  10. Entertainment can do whatever, whenever and with any logic. These particular shows were and remain dear to our hearts as sometimes viewers do not want logic and sensibility, we crave fantasy and dream time.

    Regards,
    Marcus http://www.spacecity.co.uk/

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