, in serial fiction
, means a discarding of much or even all previous continuity
in the series, to start anew. Effectively, all previously-known fictive history is declared by the writer(s) to be null and void, or at least irrelevant, and the series starts over.
The term originates from its use in computer science. After a computer is rebooted
, nothing (except non-volatile storage, such as on a disk drive) of the computer's previous operating session has any bearing on its new session.
Comparison to remakes and prequels
A reboot differs from a remake
or a prequel
, in that the latter two are generally consistent with the canon
(previously-established continuity) of the series; with a reboot, the older continuity is largely discarded and replaced with a new canon.
Additionally, prequels are often developed by the same creator as the original series it leads up to, while a remake is often produced by a different author to the original series, and can be seen as retelling of the same story and essentially sticking to the same canon. The term remake often applies to films or film adaptations of TV shows, like The Fugitive, whereas the term reboot is ascribed to franchises such as Batman Begins or the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.
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) either as a rich foundation from which to develop characters and storylines, a box limiting the story options available to tell, or even an irreconcilable mess of contradictory history. Such large continuities also become a barrier to introducing newcomers to the fandom, as the complex histories are difficult to learn, and make understanding the story very difficult. A reboot gives the chance for new fans to experience the core story by reintroducing it in smaller and easier-to-understand installments and/or by refocusing the story on its most important elements and abandoning many subplots and an overgrowth of minor details. Reboots may also serve changing audience expectations as to storytelling style, genre evolution, and sophistication of material.
- The Godzilla (ゴジラ - Gojira) film franchise has been rebooted several times since its inception in the 1950s. The most notable deviation from the original production was the 1998 American remake entitled Godzilla. Godzilla continuity reboots are as follows:
- Similarly to Godzilla, Deiei's Kaiju star Gamera has undergone two continuity reboots. The first was in 1995 with in Gamera: Guardian of the Universe and again in 2006 with Gamera: The Brave. However, unlike the Godzilla series, both reboots ignored the original Gammera, the Invincible.
- 2001 saw the end of the cult children's hit Chiquititas but saw it rebooted into the feature film Chiquititas: Rincón de Luz.
- The Sum of All Fears (2002) was a reboot of the Jack Ryan series, with Ben Affleck as Ryan. The film is set in the present time with Ryan just beginning his career at the CIA. As commented by producer Mace Neufeld in an interview on the DVD, the film is neither a sequel nor a prequel to the other three Ryan films, and should not be seen as such.
- Batman Begins (2005) is a reboot of the Batman film series. It was done to not only start a new continuity that was more faithful to the tone of the comics, but also to distance itself from the later installments of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher series of films.
- The Pink Panther (2006) was a reboot of the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers Pink Panther series, starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau and directed by Shawn Levy. This film made no references to the events in the previous series.
- Casino Royale (2006) is a reboot of the James Bond film franchise (although chronologically faithful to the novels, of which the source novel is the first), in which Daniel Craig plays Bond at the start of his MI6 career. Initially some viewers felt that the film was simply a prequel to the previous Bond movies, as (with the exception of Judi Dench being M at the beginning of Bond's career rather than taking the job later and Felix Leiter's ethnicity having changed) very little in it conflicts with or contradicts events seen in them. However the film makers have confirmed that Casino Royale does represent a completely new chronology for the series. Despite this the film is still referred to as the 21st entry in the Bond series and not the first film in a new series, and the iconography of the old films (such as the opening gun barrel sequence) is still present, albeit given a modern twist.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) is a reboot of the Alvin and the Chipmunks animated series and films.
- The Incredible Hulk is a reboot of the previous Hulk film. It was originally written to be a sequel to first film (but more faithful to the Hulk comics), but after rewriting it, star/screenwriter Edward Norton established it as a reboot. The film is set five years after Bruce Banner first becomes the Hulk, but that backstory is entirely different from the first film.
- Punisher: War Zone, another upcoming Marvel film, will serve as a reboot to the previous Punisher film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh.
- Mortal Kombat: Devastation (2010) will be rebooting its film series, drawing from the entire universe of MK from the beginning until now.
- For the 25th anniversary of the Care Bears, American Greetings opted to reboot the franchise. Prior plot elements and devices like Cloudmobiles, the caring meter, and even Care-a-Lot castle was wiped from the universe, the Care Bears Cousins are nowhere in sight, the bears are implied to live in a village with the centerpiece being the Gathering Tree, that they have never met humans or went on caring missions (although this is set to change with the release of the Grizz-ly Adventures DVD which will see the first human enter the new Care-a-Lot), and that they have never met any villains prior to Grizzle, the current franchise's villain. This continuity began with the movie Care Bears: Oopsy Does It!, and continues into the TV series Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot.
- Transformers (2007) is a reboot of the franchise based on Hasbro's toyline. It is a new story, set apart from the previous incarnations of the cartoon(s) and comic(s).
- New Captain Scarlet which debuted in February 2005 is a reboot of the 1967 Supermarionation puppetry series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons by the same producer, Gerry Anderson.
- In 2003, Battlestar Galactica (1978) was rebooted or "re-imagined" as the SciFi channel's miniseries and later series of the same name.
- Jim Henson's Secret Life of Toys (1996) is a reboot of its 1986 TV featurette The Christmas Toy.
- In 2002 the He-Man story was rebooted.
- The Tenchi Muyo anime series has undergone several reboots.
- The Transformers franchise has undergone several separate reboots. The first occurred in 2001 with the self-contained Transformers: Robots in Disguise series. The second rebooted continuity launched in 2002, encompassing three TV and toy series: Transformers: Armada, Transformers: Energon and Transformers: Cybertron. In Japan, the Cybertron series itself is a reboot of the preceding Armada/Energon continuity. On July 4, 2007, the live-action and CGI Transformers film was released, resulting in yet another reboot. The most recent reboot is the Transformers: Animated series, set in the "near future".
- WCW Monday Nitro (as well as the company itself) was rebooted on April 10 2000, when head writer Vince Russo and creative consultant Eric Bischoff took over the reins for the company. It started by having all of WCW's Championship belts vacated.
- In 2000, X-Men: The Animated Series was rebooted in the X-Men: Evolution series, a retelling of the saga from the beginning. It is similar to the original comic in the 1960s, in that many of the main characters are teens living at the Xavier Institute, but also deviates from that concept by making Beast, Storm and Wolverine adult staff members. Beast was one of the original X-Men in the comics and was not blue and furry at that time, though he is in Evolution, which mixes concepts from various decades of X-Men comics.
- Digimon Tamers in 2001 was a rebooted version of the previous Digimon Adventure Seasons. Featuring new methods of Digivolving new creatures, and making the concept of Digimon as a popular game and toy franchise that Takato Matsuki and his friends enjoy, until they come to life.
- The 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series is a reboot of the franchise, being in a separate continuity from the 1987 version, the comic books and the movies. The TMNT 2007 movie is a sequel to, not a reboot of, the earlier film trilogy.
- The Mexican hit Rebelde is a rebooted replica of its Argentinian counterpart Rebelde Way.
Several well-known tokusatsu franchises in Japan- notably the sub-genre of Super Sentai, Metal Hero, Ultra series, and Kamen Rider- are based around the similar formula that with each successive year, each new series reinvents itself in style, characters, sets, story & plot lines, and notably the armored suits, weapons, and vehicles (and mecha in some cases); events happing in one series not affecting any of the others (except for movie crossovers). While each season of these saga are considered a separate series unto themselves rather than being referred to as a "season", each has a common formula upon which all series in the saga are based. Example: while Juken Sentai GekiRanger (2007) closely matches the themes seen in Gosei Sentai DaiRanger (1993) regarding Chinese martial arts and drawing superhuman powers from controlling one's aura through intensive training and self control, the characters, story lines, and mecha are completely unrelated.
- An exception to this may be the last two series from the Metal Hero saga. B-Fighter Kabuto (1996) is a direct sequel to Juukou B-Fighter (1995), both feature identical beetle-themed powers, several of the same characters and plot lines carryover into the latter, even though the armored suits, mecha, weapons, and settings are different.
- Since the Power Rangers saga is an Americanized version of Super Sentai, it too reinvents itself accordingly each year, though from its debut in 1993 to 1998, there was a continuity between the first five seasons which was eventually written out due to the complicated duty of keeping track of that continuity for later seasons and keeping the younger audience involved. The cost of production in having to streamline things between the Japanese versions was also complicated. And so starting in 1999, each succeeding PR series has its own continuity just for that one year. Although each season has its own continuity, they have been shown to exist within the same universe (although not necessarily the same time period or geographic location) through special "team-up" episodes, where the previous team of Rangers teams up with the current team.
- Arguably, DC Comics rebooted in the late 1950s when it introduced several new versions of superheroes that had been staples of their comics in the 1940s, but had ceased appearing in publication. The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Atom were all re-introduced with new identities, costumes and powers (mostly with more science fiction-influenced attributes), and seemingly outside the continuity of their predecessors. Later, it was retconned that the 1940s-era heroes existed on "Earth-Two", leading to DC’s complex "multi-verse" system.
- DC Comics’ 1985 maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths portrayed a complex sequence of reality-altering events that revised DC continuity. Editors intended to make the DC Universe less complicated and more modern and accessible to readers. This allowed for new origin stories for many characters and drastic changes to Wonder Woman, Hawkman and Superman. It may not be considered a true reboot because Crisis utilized, not discarded, previously existing continuity.
- 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). The franchise was rebooted again in 2004.
- The Ultimate Marvel Universe, which is the setting of the Marvel Comics labeled with "Ultimate" (such as Ultimate Spider-Man or Ultimate X-Men), is a reboot of the Marvel Universe. However, the previously-established continuity was not truly discarded, as the two continuities co-exist as alternate universes. This feature is unique to this reboot.
- Marvel Comics published Spider-Man: Chapter One by John Byrne from 1998-1999, which was meant to be a reboot of sorts, modernizing the classic Amazing Spider-Man series to appeal to modern fans. However, the series only lasted 13 issues, and any continuity to current Spider-Man titles was dropped after fan outcry and a restructuring of the Marvel Comics executive and creative teams in 2001.
- In 2003, the Robotech universe was rebooted with the launch of Wildstorm's new comic book series. While it does frequently borrow characters and situations introduced in previously existing lore (most notably Robotech II: The Sentinels), Harmony Gold USA now considers only the original 85 episode animated series (and possibly the current Wildstorm comics and animated Shadow Chronicles sequel) as canon and everything else (novels, comics, the aborted Sentinels project) as "secondary continuity". According to Harmony Gold, this secondary continutity was not necessarily completely invalidated but subject to critical review and revision if it comes into conflict with either the original series or possibly it's 2006 animated sequel.
- The mainstream Wildstorm universe contiuity was rebooted in the Worldstorm event.
- In 2005 the webcomic Melonpool featured a complex time travel storyline which resulted in a reboot. This coincided with a change from newspaper style strips to a comic book format and the removal of the previous strips from the site's archives, though the strips were eventually returned to the archive.
- The Transformers Generation One was rebooted in 2002 with the Dreamwave comic and again in 2006 with the IDW comic.
- Doom 3 is a reboot of the original Doom's storyline. This time the setting is on Mars itself, rather than on its moons or, in Doom II's case, Earth.
- In 1997, Star Fox 64 was a retelling of the original Star Fox, rewriting some story elements, such as the fate of James McCloud. This game is regarded as the start of Star Fox canon, and the previous game's story is disregarded.
- The Armored Core series appears to have been rebooted after Armored Core 3. The first five games in the series appeared to be leading the ongoing storyline through humanity's recovery from a catastrophic war known as "The Great Destruction", with the last of the five games, Armored Core 2: Another Age ending quite positively in the rather ambiguous Armored Core series. The next game, Armored Core 3 meanwhile begins with humanity back in self-imposed exile underground after a catastrophic war under the yoke of an omnipresent supercomputer known as "The Controller". The series storyline has recently been rebooted a second time, Armored Core 4 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was initially intended as a rough prequel to the original game, but the two later sequels it spawned ignored the earlier series entirely and began a completely new storyline.
- The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning discards many aspects of the platforming-based Spyro series in favor of a completely new storyline and more action-oriented gameplay.
- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend reboots the entire Tomb Raider series, as it features a completely different backstory for Lara Croft (as well as a different personality and smaller breast size) and disregards all the events from many of the older games.
- Ninja Gaiden apparently reboots the series and retelling altering the story established in the original games.
- Grand Theft Auto III rebooted the entire Grand Theft Auto series up to that point, taking place in a Liberty City redesigned from its appearance in the first game. Subsequent games took place in this new continuity, until Grand Theft Auto IV rebooted the series again, taking place in another newly redesigned Liberty City.
- White Wolf, Inc. rebooted World of Darkness, a popular modern horror series of roleplaying games in 2004, which actually a collection of settings including Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension. White Wolf cited dissatisfaction with certain overarching themes in the games, such as the apocalyptic storylines and the lack of mystery to the setting. They released new settings, Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Forsaken and Mage: The Awakening, respectively, to replace the old systems. Although certain features, concepts and names carry over from the old systems, no discernible storyline similarities exist between the settings, and the "old" World of Darkness is assumed to take place in a completely different universe to the "new" World of Darkness.