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A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a
self-consistent In classical deductive logic Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logical conclusion. Deductive reasoning goes in the same direction as that of the conditiona ...

self-consistent
setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) In geography, location or place are used to denote a region (geometry), region (point, line, or area) on Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term ''location'' generally implies a higher degree of cert ...
with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed, or fictional realm (or world). Fictional universes may appear in
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written ...

novel
s,
comics a medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), tools used to store and deliver information or d ...

comics
,
film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, ...

film
s,
television shows upright=1.35, A live television show set and cameras A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set which can be broadcast via over-the-air, satellite In the context of spaceflight, a s ...
,
video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual f ...
s, and other creative works. The subject is most commonly addressed in reference to fictional universes that differ markedly from the real world, such as those that introduce entire fictional cities, countries, or even planets, or those that contradict commonly known facts about the world and its history, or those that feature fantasy or
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, Parall ...

science fiction
concepts such as
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic Ceremonial magic (ritual magic, high magic or learned magic) encompasses a wide variety of rituals of Magic (supernatural), magic. The works included are characterized by ceremony and numerou ...
or
faster than light Faster-than-light (also FTL, superluminal or supercausal) Faster-than-light communication, communications and travel are the conjectural propagation of information or matter faster than the speed of light (). The special theory of relativity impl ...
travel—and especially those in which the deliberate development of the setting is a substantial focus of the work. When a large
franchise Franchise may refer to: Business and law * Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees * Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television pro ...
of related works has two or more somewhat different fictional universes that are each internally consistent but not consistent with each other (such as a distinct plotline and set of characters in a comics version versus a television adaptation), each universe is often referred to as a continuity, though the term ''continuity'' as a
mass noun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
usually has a broader meaning in fiction.


Definition

The term was first defined by comics historian
Don Markstein Don Markstein's Toonopedia (subtitled A Vast Repository of Toonological Knowledge) is an online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia ...
, in a 1970 article in ''
CAPA-alphaCAPA-alpha (sometimes abbreviated to K-a) was the first amateur press association (APA) devoted to comic books, started by Jerry Bails (the "father of comics fandom") in the United States in 1964. History In October 1964 Bails released the first ...
''."THE MERCHANT OF VENICE meets THE SHIEK OF ARABI"
by
Don Markstein Don Markstein's Toonopedia (subtitled A Vast Repository of Toonological Knowledge) is an online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia ...
(as "Om Markstein Sklom Stu"), in ''
CAPA-alphaCAPA-alpha (sometimes abbreviated to K-a) was the first amateur press association (APA) devoted to comic books, started by Jerry Bails (the "father of comics fandom") in the United States in 1964. History In October 1964 Bails released the first ...
'' #71 (September 1970); archived at Toonopedia


Markstein's criteria

# If characters A and B have met, then they are in the same universe; if characters B and C have met, then, transitively, A and C are in the same universe. # Characters cannot be connected by real people—otherwise, it could be argued that
Superman Superman is a superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically using his or her powers t ...

Superman
and the
Fantastic Four The Fantastic Four are a fictional superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses abilities beyond those of ordinary people, who typically uses his or her powers to help the world become a better place, or is dedi ...

Fantastic Four
were in the same universe, as Superman met
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the ...

John F. Kennedy
, Kennedy met
Neil Armstrong Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut An astronaut (from the Greek "astron" (ἄστρον), meaning "star", and "nautes" (ναύτης), meaning "sailor") is a person trained, equipp ...

Neil Armstrong
, and Armstrong met the Fantastic Four. #Characters cannot be connected by characters "that do not originate with the publisher"—otherwise it could be argued that Superman and the Fantastic Four were in the same universe, as both met
Hercules Hercules (, ) is the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed p ...

Hercules
. # Specific fictionalized versions of real people—for instance, the version of
Jerry Lewis Jerry Lewis (born Joseph Levitch; March 16, 1926 – August 20, 2017) was an American comedian, actor, filmmaker, humanitarian and singer. Nicknamed "The King of Comedy", he is regarded as one of the most significant American cultural figu ...

Jerry Lewis
from
DC Comics DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of DC Entertainment DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of #DC Entertainment, DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Warner Bros. ...
' ''
The Adventures of Jerry Lewis ''The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis'' is the title of a celebrity comics, celebrity comic book published by DC Comics and featuring the popular team of comedians Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The series ran for forty issues from 1952 t ...
'', who was distinct from the real Jerry Lewis in that he had a housekeeper with magical powers—''can'' be used as connections; this also applies to specific versions of public-domain fictional characters, such as Marvel Comics' version of
Hercules Hercules (, ) is the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed p ...
or DC Comics' version of
Robin Hood Robin Hood is a legendary hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face ...

Robin Hood
. #Characters are only considered to have met if they appeared together in a story; therefore, characters who simply appeared on the same front cover are not necessarily in the same universe.


Universe vs setting

What distinguishes a fictional universe from a simple
setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) In geography, location or place are used to denote a region (geometry), region (point, line, or area) on Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term ''location'' generally implies a higher degree of cert ...
is the level of detail and internal consistency. A fictional universe has an established continuity and internal logic that must be adhered to throughout the work and even across separate works. So, for instance, many books may be set in conflicting fictional versions of
Victorian London During the 19th century, London grew enormously to become a global city of immense importance. It was the largest city in the world from about 1825, the world's largest port, and the heart of international finance and trade. Railways connecting Lo ...
, but all the stories of
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes ...

Sherlock Holmes
are set in ''the same'' Victorian London. However, the various film series based on Sherlock Holmes follow their own separate continuities, thus not taking place in the same fictional universe. The history and geography of a fictional universe are well defined, and maps and timelines are often included in works set within them. Even new
languages A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communicatio ...
may be constructed. When subsequent works are written within the same universe, care is usually taken to ensure that established facts of the
canon Canon or Canons may refer to: Places * Canon, Georgia Canon is a city in Franklin County, Georgia, Franklin and Hart County, Georgia, Hart counties in the U.S. state of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. The population was 804 at the 2010 census. H ...
are not violated. Even if the fictional universe involves concepts such as elements of magic that don't exist in the real world, these must adhere to a set of rules established by the author. A famous example of a detailed fictional universe is
Arda Arda or ARDA may refer to: Places *Arda (Maritsa) The Arda ( , , ) is a river in Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika B ...
(more popularly known as
Middle-earth Middle-earth is the fictional setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) where something is set * Set construction in theatrical scenery * Setting (narrative), the place and time in a work of narrative, especially fiction * Settin ...
), of J. R. R. Tolkien's books ''
The Lord of the Rings ''The Lord of the Rings'' is an Epic (genre), epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some distant time in the past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 ...
'', ''
The Hobbit ''The Hobbit, or There and Back Again'' is a Juvenile fantasy, children's fantasy novel by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published in 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal (literary award), Carnegie ...
'', and ''
The Silmarillion ''The Silmarillion'' () is a collection of Mythopoeia, mythopoeic stories by the English writer J. R. R. Tolkien, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977 with assistance from the fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay. ...
''. He created first its
languages A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communicatio ...
and then the world itself, which he states was "primarily linguistic in inspiration and was begun in order to provide the necessary 'history' for the Elvish tongues." A modern example of a
fictional universe A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a Consistency, self-consistent Setting (narrative), setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed, or fictional realm ...
is that of the ''
Avatar An avatar (Sanskrit: अवतार, IAST: ; ), a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", is the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to a ...
'' film series, as
James Cameron James Francis Cameron (born August 16, 1954) is a Canadian filmmaker. Best known for making science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a of which typically deals with and futuristic concepts such as adva ...

James Cameron
invented an entire
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...
, with a team of scientists to test whether it was viable. Additionally, he commissioned a linguistics expert to invent the
Na'vi language Navi may refer to: People * Navi (impersonator) (active 1988-), Michael Jackson tribute artist * Navi (born 1980), member of the Japanese musical group GReeeeN Greeeen (stylized as GReeeeN) is a Japanese pop rock/hip hop music, hip hop/breakbeat ...
. Virtually every successful fictional
TV series A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A television set or television receiver, more commonly called the television, TV, TV set, tube, telly, or tele, is a device that combines a ...
or
comic book A comic book, also called comic book, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics a Media (communication), medium used to express ideas with images, often combined with t ...
develops its own "universe" to keep track of the various episodes or issues. Writers for that series must follow its story bible, This is a blog entry on the subject by a professional scriptwriter. which often becomes the series canon. Frequently, when a series is perceived by its creators as too complicated or too self-inconsistent (because of, for example, too many writers), the producers or publishers may introduce
retroactive continuity Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established diegetic Diegesis (; from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the ...
(retcon) to make future editions easier to write and more consistent. This creates an alternate universe that future authors can write about. These stories about the universe or universes that existed before the retcon are usually not canonical, unless the franchise-holder gives permission. ''
Crisis on Infinite Earths "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is a 1985 American comic book fictional crossover, crossover storyline published by DC Comics. The series, written by Marv Wolfman and penciller, pencilled by George Pérez, was first serialized as a 12-issue limited s ...
'' was an especially sweeping example. Some writers choose to introduce elements or characters from one work into another, to present the idea that both works are set in the same universe. For example, the character of
Ursula Buffay Various characters appeared in the sitcom ''Friends'' and its Spin-off (media), spin-off series ''Joey (TV series), Joey'', which respectively aired for ten seasons and two seasons on NBC from 1994 to 2006. ''Friends'' featured six main cast memb ...
from American
sitcom A sitcom, clipping Clipping may refer to: Words * Clipping (morphology) In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for stud ...
''
Mad About You ''Mad About You'' is an American television sitcom starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as a married couple in New York City. It initially aired on NBC from September 23, 1992, to May 24, 1999, winning numerous awards including four Golden Globe ...
'' was also a recurring guest star in ''
Friends ''Friends'' is an American television sitcom A sitcom, clipping Clipping may refer to: Words * Clipping (morphology) In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Friends
'', despite the two series having little else in common. Fellow NBC series ''
Seinfeld ''Seinfeld'' (; ) is an American sitcom television series created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. It aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, over nine seasons and List of Seinfeld episodes, 180 episodes. It stars Seinfeld as Jerry S ...

Seinfeld
'' also contained
crossover Crossover may refer to: Entertainment Albums and songs * ''Cross Over'' (Dan Peek album) * ''Crossover'' (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles album), 1987 * ''Crossover'' (Intrigue album) * ''Crossover'' (Hitomi Shimatani album) * ''Crossover'' (Yoshino ...
references to ''Mad About You''. L. Frank Baum introduced the characters of
Cap'n Bill This is a list of characters in the original Oz books by American author L. Frank Baum. The majority of characters listed here unless noted otherwise have appeared in multiple books under various plotlines. ''Land of Oz, Oz'' is made up of four ...
and
Trot The trot is a two-beat diagonal horse gait of a horse in motion Horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated odd-toed ungulate mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one of two Extant taxon, extant subs ...
(from ''
The Sea Fairies ''The Sea Fairies'' is a Children's literature, children's fantasy novel written by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill, and published in 1911 by the Reilly & Britton Company, the publisher of Baum's series of List of Oz books, Oz books. ...
'') into the
Oz series The Oz books form a book series A book series is a sequence of books having certain characteristics in common that are formally identified together as a group. Book series can be organized in different ways, such as written by the same author, or m ...
in ''
The Scarecrow of Oz ''The Scarecrow of Oz'' is the ninth book set in the Land of Oz The Land of Oz is a magical country first introduced in the 1900 children's novel '' The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'' written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Oz ...
'', and they made a number of appearances in later Oz books. In science fiction, A. Bertram Chandler introduced into his future Galactic civilization the character
Dominic Flandry Dominic Flandry is a fictional character and the protagonist 200px, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρωταγωνιστής, translit=prōtagōnistḗs, lit=o ...
from
Poul Anderson Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United Stat ...
's quite different Galactic future (he had Anderson's consent)—on the assumption that these were two alternate history timelines and that people could on some occasions cross from one to the other.


Scope

Sir Thomas More Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), venerated in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian chur ...

Sir Thomas More
's ''
Utopia A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identi ...
'' is one of the earliest examples of a cohesive fictional world with its own rules and functional concepts, but it comprises only one small island. Later fictional universes, like
Robert E. Howard Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp magazine, pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and ...
's '' Conan the Cimmerian'' stories or
Lev Grossman Lev Grossman (born June 26, 1969) is an American novelist and journalist who wrote ''The Magicians Trilogy'': ''The Magicians (Grossman novel), The Magicians'' (2009), ''The Magician King'' (2011), and ''The Magician's Land'' (2014). He was the b ...
's Fillory, are global in scope and some, like ''
Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide popular culture, pop-culture Cultural impact of S ...

Star Wars
'', ''
Honorverse The Honorverse is a military science fiction book series, its two Spin-off (media), subseries, two prequel series, and anthologies created by David Weber and published by Baen Books. They are centered on the space navy career of the principal pr ...
'', ''
BattleTech ''BattleTech'' is a wargaming and military science fiction franchise launched by FASA Corporation in 1984, acquired by WizKids in 2001, which was in turn acquired by Topps in 2003; and published since 2007 by Catalyst Game Labs. The trademark i ...
'', or the
Lensman series The ''Lensman'' series is a series of science fiction novels by American author E. E. Smith, Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith. It was a runner-up for the 1966 Hugo award for Best All-Time Series (the winner was the Foundation series, ''Foundation'' ser ...
, are galactic or even intergalactic. A fictional universe may even concern itself with more than one interconnected universe through fictional devices such as dreams, "
time travel Time travel is the concept of movement between certain points in time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, thro ...

time travel
" or "parallel worlds". Such a series of interconnected universes is often called a
multiverse The multiverse is a hypothetical A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context Context may refer ...
. Such multiverses have been featured prominently in science fiction since at least the mid-20th century. The classic ''
Star Trek ''Star Trek'' is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the Star Trek: The Original Series, eponymous 1960s series and quickly became a worldwide Popular culture, pop-culture Cultural influ ...
'' episode " Mirror, Mirror" introduced the
Mirror Universe The Mirror Universe is the setting of several narratives in the ''Star Trek ''Star Trek'' is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the Star Trek: The Original Series, eponymous 1960s s ...
, in which the crew members of the Starship ''Enterprise'' were brutal rather than compassionate. The 2009 movie ''
Star Trek ''Star Trek'' is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the Star Trek: The Original Series, eponymous 1960s series and quickly became a worldwide Popular culture, pop-culture Cultural influ ...
'' created an "alternate reality" and freed the ''
Star Trek ''Star Trek'' is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the Star Trek: The Original Series, eponymous 1960s series and quickly became a worldwide Popular culture, pop-culture Cultural influ ...

Star Trek
''
franchise Franchise may refer to: Business and law * Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees * Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television p ...
from continuity issues. In the mid-1980s,
DC Comics DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of DC Entertainment DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of #DC Entertainment, DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Warner Bros. ...
''
Crisis on Infinite Earths "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is a 1985 American comic book fictional crossover, crossover storyline published by DC Comics. The series, written by Marv Wolfman and penciller, pencilled by George Pérez, was first serialized as a 12-issue limited s ...
'' streamlined its fictional continuity by destroying most of its alternate universes.


Format

A fictional universe can be contained in a single work, as in
George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and printed ...

George Orwell
's ''
Nineteen Eighty-Four ''Nineteen Eighty-Four'' (also stylised as ''1984'') is a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale written by English writer George Orwell. It was published on 8 June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final boo ...
'' or
Aldous Huxley Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and philosopher. He wrote nearly 50 books—both novels and non-fiction works—as well as wide-ranging essays, narratives, and poems. Born into the prominent Huxl ...

Aldous Huxley
's ''
Brave New World ''Brave New World'' is a dystopian A dystopia (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Age ...

Brave New World
'', or in
serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments * Serial (literature), serialised fiction in print * Serial (publishing), periodical publications and newspapers * Serial (radio and television), ...
ized,
series Series may refer to: People with the name * Caroline Series (born 1951), English mathematician, daughter of George Series * George Series (1920–1995), English physicist Arts, entertainment, and media Music * Series, the ordered Set (music), ...
-based, open-ended or
round robin Round-robin may refer to: Computing * Round-robin DNS, a technique for dealing with redundant Internet Protocol service hosts * Round-robin networks, communications networks made up of radio nodes organized in a mesh topology * Round-robin schedu ...
-style fiction. In most small-scale fictional universes, general properties and
timeline A timeline is a display of a list of events in Chronology, chronological order. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with calendar date, dates paralleling it, and usually contemporaneous events. Timelines can use any ...

timeline
events fit into a consistently organized continuity. However, in the case of universes that are rewritten or revised by different
writer A writer is a person who uses writing, written words in different styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce different forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, books, poetry, travelogues, plays ...

writer
s,
editors Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosoph ...

editors
, or
producer Producer or producers may refer to: Occupations *Producer (agriculture), a farm operator *Film producer, oversees the making of films *A stakeholder of economic production *Executive producer, contributes to the film's budget and usually does not w ...
s, this continuity may be violated, by accident or by design. The occasional publishing use of retroactive continuity (
retcon Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established diegetic Diegesis (; from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the ...
) often occurs due to this kind of revision or oversight. Members of
fandom A fandom is a subculture A subculture is a group of people within a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, belief ...

fandom
often create a kind of
fan-made Fan labor is the creative activities engaged in by fans, primarily those of various media properties or musical groups. These activities can include creation of written works (fiction Fiction generally is a narrative form, in any media (communi ...
canon (
fanon Fanon may refer to: * Frantz Fanon, Martiniquais-French political philosopher * Papal fanon, an ecclesiastical garment * Fanon (fiction), fan-based fictional canon * A division of the French Indian rupee {{disambig, surname ...
) to patch up such errors; "fanon" that becomes generally accepted sometimes becomes actual canon. Other fan-made additions to a universe (
fan fiction Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan fic, fanfic, fic or ff) is Fiction, fictional writing written in an amateur capacity by Fan (person), fans, unauthorized by, but derivative work, based on an existing work of fiction. Copyright p ...
, alternate universe,
pastiche A pastiche is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a ...

pastiche
,
parody A parody, also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), or a caricature, is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satire, satiric or irony, ironic imitation. Ofte ...
) are usually not considered canonical unless they get
authorized Authorization is the function of specifying access rights/privileges to resources, which is related to general information security and computer security, and to access control in particular. More formally, "to authorize" is to define an access ...
.


Collaboration

Shared universes often come about when a fictional universe achieves great commercial success and attracts other media. For example, a successful movie may catch the attention of various book authors, who wish to write stories based on that movie. Under U.S. law, the copyright-holder retains control of all other
derivative work In copyright law Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to copy and distribute a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, o ...
s, including those written by other authors, but they might not feel comfortable in those other mediums or may feel that other individuals will do a better job; therefore, they may open up the copyright on a shared-universe basis. The degree to which the copyright-holder or
franchise Franchise may refer to: Business and law * Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees * Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television p ...
retains control is often one of the points in the
license agreement A license (American English) or licence (British English) is an official permission or permit to do, use, or own something (as well as the document of that permission or permit). A license is granted by a party (licensor) to another party (lic ...
. For example, the comic book ''
Superman Superman is a superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically using his or her powers t ...
'' was so popular that it spawned over 30 different radio, television, and movie series and a similar number of
video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual f ...
s, as well as theme park rides, books, and songs. In the other direction, both ''Star Trek'' and ''Star Wars'' are responsible for hundreds of books and games of varying levels of canonicity. Fictional universes are sometimes shared by multiple prose authors, with each author's works in that universe being granted approximately equal canonical status. For example,
Larry Niven Laurence van Cott Niven (; born April 30, 1938) is an American science fiction writer Some notable science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in the science fiction magazine ''Imagination (m ...
's fictional universe
Known Space Known Space is the fictional setting of about a dozen science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such a ...
has an approximately 135-year period in which Niven allows other authors to write stories about the
Man-Kzin Wars ''The Man-Kzin Wars'' is a series of military science fiction short story collections (and is the name of the first collection), as well as the eponymous conflicts between mankind and the Kzinti that they detail. They are set in Larry Niven's ''K ...
. Other fictional universes, like the ''Ring of Fire'' series, actively court canonical stimulus from fans, but gate and control the changes through a formalized process and the final say of
the editor and universe creator
the editor and universe creator
. Other universes are created by one or several authors but are intended to be used non-canonically by others, such as the fictional settings for
game A game is a structured form of play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content serv ...

game
s, particularly
role-playing game A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game; abbreviated RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch ...
s and video games. Settings for the role-playing game ''
Dungeons & Dragons ''Dungeons & Dragons'' (commonly abbreviated as ''D&D'' or ''DnD'') is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by TSR (company)#Tactical Studies Rules, Tacti ...
'' are called
campaign setting A campaign setting is usually a fictional world A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a Consistency, self-consistent Setting (narrative), setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be ca ...
s; other games have also incorporated this term on occasion.
Virtual world A virtual world (also called a virtual space) is a computer-simulated environment which may be populated by many users who can create a personal avatar An avatar (Sanskrit: अवतार, IAST: ; ), a concept in Hinduism that means "descent ...
s are fictional worlds in which
online In computer technology and telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over , radio, , or other systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication over a dista ...

online
computer games, notably
MMORPG A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller ...
s and
MUD Mud is soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, a ...

MUD
s, take place. A
fictional crossover A crossover is the placement of two or more otherwise discrete fiction Fiction is any creative workA creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that ...
occurs when two or more fictional characters, series or universes cross over with one another, usually in the context of a character created by one author or owned by one
company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal person, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common pu ...
meeting a character created or owned by another. In the case where two fictional universes covering entire ''actual'' universes cross over, physical travel from one universe to another may actually occur in the course of the story. Such crossovers are usually, but not always, considered non-canonical by their creators or by those in charge of the
properties Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to Consumable, consume, alter ...
involved.


Lists of fictional universes

For lists of fictional universes see: *
List of fictional shared universes in film and television Fictional shared universes in film and television. Film This is a list of shared universes in film. There are different definitions of shared universe. It is a requirement that two or more previously unconnected characters come together into one ...
* List of fictional universes in animation and comics * List of fictional universes in literature * List of science fiction universes


See also

* Alternate history * Alternate universe * Constructed world * Continuity *
Diegesis Diegesis (; from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
*
Expanded universe The term expanded universe, sometimes called an extended universe, is generally used to denote the "extension" of a media franchise (like a television program or a series of feature films) with other media, generally comics and original novels. T ...
*
Shared universe A shared universe or shared world is a fictional universe from a set of creative works where more than one writer (or other artist) independently contributes a work that can stand alone but fits into the joint development of the storyline, chara ...
*
Fantasy world A fantasy world is an author-conceived world created in fictional media, such as literature, film or games. Typical fantasy worlds involve magic or magical abilities, nonexistent technology and sometimes, either a historical History (from A ...
*
Fictional country #REDIRECT Fictional country '' A fictional country is a country that is made up for fictional stories, and does not exist in real life, or one that people believe in without proof. Sailors have always mistaken low clouds for land masses, and in ...
*
Fictional location Fictional locations are places that exist only in fiction and not in reality, such as the Dark Kingdom, Negaverse or Planet X. Writers may create and describe such places to serve as backdrop for their fictional works. Fictional locations are als ...
*
Future history A future history is a postulated history of the future and is used by authors of science fiction and other speculative fiction to construct a common background for fiction. Sometimes the author publishes a Chronology, timeline of events in the h ...
*
Index of fictional places Following are lists of fictional locations, as large as a universe and as small as a pub. * List of fictional bars and pubs * list of fictional castles * List of fictional city-states in literature * List of fictional countries ** List of fictiona ...
*
List of fantasy worlds This is a partial list of fictional fantasy worlds, according to the medium they appear in: Novels and short stories   A *The Abarat – a fictional archipelago in Clive Barker's ''Abarat'' series *Abeir-Toril – Planet on which the ''Dung ...
*
Mythical place This is a list of mythological places which appear in mythological tales, folklore, and varying religious texts. * References Works cited

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Mythological Places Lists of fictional locations, Mythological places Mythology- ...
*
Paracosm A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by Jacques Lacan * Imaginary number, a concept in mathematics * Imaginary time, a ...
* Parallel universe *
Planets in science fiction Planets in science fiction are fictional planets that appear in various media of the science fiction genre as story-settings or depicted locations. Planet lists For planets from specific fictional milieux, use the following lists: Literature ...
*
Setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) In geography, location or place are used to denote a region (geometry), region (point, line, or area) on Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term ''location'' generally implies a higher degree of cert ...
*
Simulated reality Simulated reality is the hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context Context may refer t ...
*
Virtual reality Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality Virtual reality applications are applications that make use of virtual reality Virtual ...

Virtual reality
*
Multiverse The multiverse is a hypothetical A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context Context may refer ...


References

*
Alberto Manguel Alberto Manguel (born March 13, 1948, in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires ( or ; ), officially Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction ...
and Gianni Guadalupi: ''
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places ''The'' () is a grammatical Article (grammar), article in English language, English, denoting persons or things already mentioned, under discussion, implied or otherwise presumed familiar to listeners, readers, or speakers. It is the definite a ...
'', New York : Harcourt Brace, c2000. *
Brian Stableford Brian Michael Stableford (born 25 July 1948) is a British science fiction writer who has published more than 70 novels. His earlier books were published under the name Brian M. Stableford, but more recent ones have dropped the middle initial an ...
: ''The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places'', New York : Wonderland Press, c1999. *
Diana Wynne Jones Diana Wynne Jones (16 August 1934 – 26 March 2011) was an English novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, and short story writer. She principally wrote fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often ...
: ''The Tough Guide to Fantasyland'', New York : Firebird, 2006. , Explains and parodies the common features of a standard fantasy world * George Ochoa and Jeffery Osier: ''Writer's Guide to Creating A Science Fiction Universe'', Cincinnati, Ohio :
Writer's Digest Books ''Writer's Digest'' is an American magazine aimed at beginning and established writers. It contains interviews, market listings, calls for manuscripts, and how-to articles. History ''Writer's Digest'' was first published in December 1920 under ...
, 1993. * Michael Page and
Robert Ingpen Robert Roger Ingpen AM, FRSA Fellowship of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) is an award An award, sometimes called a distinction, is something given to a recipient as a token of recognition ...
: ''
Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were ''Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were'' is a book by Robert Ingpen and Michael Fitzgerald Page, Michael Page published in 1985. Plot summary ''Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were'' is a book detailing myth and magic written by Page and painte ...
: Creatures, Places, and People'', 1987. {{Authority control Continuity (fiction)
Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...
Imagination Setting Worldbuilding