Closed vs. Open Canon

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Synonyms:
See also: Canon, Fanon, Headcanon
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A fandom is considered to possess a closed canon when no additional source material is expected to be forthcoming (there are no upcoming books, episodes, or movies in the series). Examples of fandoms with closed canons are Due South, Good Omens, and Cardcaptor Sakura.

By contrast, open canon fandoms are those in which new episodes, books, or movies are being produced. Examples of these would be Naruto, the Vorkosigan Saga, and Wonder Woman comics.

Multi-media Canons

Fans of a universe who find it extended in a different medium (as comics following a completed television series, an anime film following a manga, etc.) sometimes have difficulty agreeing on what constitutes canon. There are Star Trek fans who believe only the first series (ST:TOS) is canon. Bleach fans argue about the manga vs. anime vs. movies, especially Hell Chapter.[1]. Some old-school My Little Pony toy fans disavow My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Star Wars fans may consider the first three Star Wars movies to be closed canon, despite the second trilogy, animated series, tie-in novels such as the Thrawn series, and a new series of movies that has been announced, explicitly disclaiming the novels[2]. Almost all Highlander fans disavow the second film, and many consider only the first and the TV series to be canon, or restrict canon to the TV series only.

In some cases, fans look to creators for guidance. (For example, canon for The Sarah Connor Chronicles officially ignores the third movie in the Terminator universe.) In other cases, a rough fanon consensus emerges, so, Supernatural comics are generally rejected from canon due to a high continuity-error rate.

Multi-verse Canons

In still other fandoms, no consensus exists, and creators of fanworks may disclaim extensively exactly what they are and are not willing to consider. This happens a lot in comics fandoms (e.g. DC Comics, Marvel) where the creators have been messing with "canon" for decades, frequently retconning and/or introducing complex contradictions. Any canon involving time travel or multiple dimensions such as Star Trek must also be considered flexible, as in the time war seen in Star Trek: Enterprise and the complete reboot of Star Trek (2009).

In these circumstances, fanwork creators will sometimes simply pick the characters they want to write, often claiming Headcanon, regardless of whether those characters were ever all on the same team (or all alive) at the same time.

References

  1. Canonicity of Bleach; Hell Chapter accessed 2014-08-09
  2. NBC report: 'Star Wars 7' won't be based on the books dated 2014-11-01, accessed 2014-08-09]