Sometimes shows and movies write themselves into a corner -- hard. That's not a problem if the series or franchise is pulling the plug for good. But with so many revivals and sequels happening today (not to mention programs that get picked up for an additional season after airing a "fauxnale") it's becoming more common to totally retcon (retroactive continuity) plot points to make things work. Here are some famous examples of writers turning back the clock, calling it "all a dream" and just literally pretending like nothing happened.
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1. "Will & Grace" -- The 2006 series finale didn't leave a ton of room for a revival, what with Will (Eric McCormakc) and Grace (Debra Messing) having grown apart over a couple decades, gotten married and only reuniting in the final moments while dropping their children off at college. So, when NBC decided to bring the beloved sitcom back this fall, it was clear that ending would need to go. And it did within a matter of minutes in the premiere when Karen (Megan Mullally) explains away all that drama as a dream she had. The kids never existed, the partners were out (due to divorces) and everything was back to the status quo. Classic.
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2. "Roseanne" -- First Dan (John Goodman) survived a heart attack in the final season, then it was revealed in the series finale that he'd actually died, but lived on in a novel the titular character wrote. Now, with the revival set for this spring (and the announcement it's including Goodman) we know they are going to need to retcon their retcon. Did that make sense?
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3. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- Joss Whedon wants to pretend his first attempt to bring Buffy to life never happened -- and so do most fans. When Whedon got the chance to execute his vision properly with the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series after bailing on the movie of the same name (based on his screenplay), he basically ignored any part of the film he hadn't agreed with. Good call.
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4. "Newhart" -- This show was literally, entirely a dream. In the last two minutes of the final episode, Bob Newhart -- who’d play Dick Loudon, a Vermont innkeeper, for eight seasons -- wakes up in a strangely familiar bedroom. “Honey, wake up, you won’t believe the dream I just had,” he says to Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife, Emily, on the '70s sitcom "The Bob Newhart Show." So that entire wacky show was retconned into never existing and just being a dream of Newhart's on his previous series. Yeah.
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5. "Star Trek" -- Iconic villains-turned allies the Klingons debuted in 1966 as, due to makeup effects limitations, basically guys with tans and goatees. However, in 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," set 5 years after the original series, they received the forehead ridges they're known for. No one commented on the change in subsequent films and it was taken for granted audiences were supposed to pretend they were always like that. Until 1996, when "Deep Space Nine,' set 100 years later, confirmed that old school Klingons really did look different during the Original Series era (the explanation was provided in 2005 by "Star Trek: Enterprise.") But now comes 2017's "Star Trek: Discovery," set just 10 years before the events of the original series. This time, the Klingons look nothing like the original or forehead ridge versions with -- you guessed it -- no explanation given.
7. "Dallas" -- Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) was literally DEAD on this show for an entire season before he was brought back in a very bizarre way. His wife finds him in the shower and suddenly realizes that whole chunk of series was a dream. The was more than a little trippy for fans of the primetime CBS soap.
9. "Charmed" -- In the seventh season finale of this long-running WB series about a trio of magical sisters, the girls "killed" themselves off so they could escape their duties as the Charmed Ones. Because the show picked up an unexpected eighth season in the eleventh hour, the writers were forced to find a way to bring them back to the craft. Their solution? Have Homeland Security take responsibility for the cover-up. Works for us!
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