Retcon mechanics are the result of a unique ability imparted to John Egbert upon his touching of The Treasure, which enabled him to transport himself throughout the narrative of Homestuck, and selectively re-write the metacanon.
While at times these mechanics have far-reaching retroactive effects on the story, granting the bearer of the retcon ability (thus far restricted to John) powers equal to or even rivaling that of the author, the precise scope of these effects seem to vary. Possibly at the discretion of the user (or perhaps from author intercession to prevent things getting too confusing for archival readers), retcons instigated through this effect vary in scope from complete and seemingly irreversible modification of previously published canonical content in the real world, to simply re-writing the internal history of the narrative, most significantly in the case of the retconned GAME OVER timeline. Often, these effects intermingle, resulting in a high level of weird plot shit that may be confusing for even seasoned readers to parse.
It should be noted that when this power is employed, even if it only affects canonical events rather than the actual structure of the comic, the timeline is altered without resulting in the previous reality becoming an offshoot doomed timeline. In fact, reality is entirely altered, with the post-retcon reality consisting a new alpha timeline, and the previous alpha timeline paradoxically erased from history. However, potentially due to the far reaching power of the Furthest Ring to reclaim souls that are otherwise Void, characters who died in the pre-retcon timeline can still exist within the Furthest Ring afterlife. This is the case with pre-retcon Vriska, or (Vriska).
The retcon ability imparted to John might have been the promised power granted by the treasure sought by Vriska throughout her journey through the dream bubbles in Act 6. As the weapon was promised as a means to defeat Lord English, who possesses unconditional immortality that can only be overcome through exploiting glitches in paradox space, the ability of retcon mechanics to literally re-write the narrative even from the perspective of the readers might constitute a "glitch" powerful enough to erase or otherwise remove Lord English from history. This would also have implied that no character other than John would be able to exploit retcon mechanics, except perhaps Andrew Hussie, who has , as the Treasure can purportedly be used only twice .
Vriska believed“the souls of some incredi8ly powerful warriors of legend who came close to 8eating him once, so he trapped them inside the charm and 8anished it into the void”. Later, as the same juju that gave John his powers trapped him and the beta kids inside (and the symbolism is seen in Collide), it's implied that retcon mechanics are less of a meta power and actually the combined abilities of the beta kids.that the second use of the treasure was yet to be utilized, and alludes to the fact that it would release
Use of Retcon Mechanics in HomestuckEdit
Upon first encountering the treasure John places his hand into it4*13) such retroactive appearances of John's arm throughout Homestuck, which are all ., scattering instances of his arm throughout the Homestuck narrative. This retcon affected the real meta-narrative of Homestuck; previous pages were amended in the comic to include John's arm, where it had been brought into being by a real "retcon". There are 52 (
John's Random Retcons throughout the NarrativeEdit
Shortly after gaining his retcon ability, John discovers that he is unable to control it, and finds himself seemingly randomly transportedto different points within the Homestuck canon, including . This results in many previous panels of the comic.
During the time John can't control his transportations, he recurringly appears near Jade Harley, who has become posessed by The Condesce. She chases him every time in a cat and mouse scenario (dog and windy person?), and his random teleportations always get him out right in time.
Later, as John's transportations start to become less scattershot, he alters the past by appearingDave Strider and Jade Harley, averting a confrontation which had resulted in WV being pushed off of the building that they were standing on. Unlike previous retcons, this did not affect past events in the meta-narrative, and the previous run of events still exists within Homestuck. In the resulting conversation between John and Dave, it is confirmed that this retcon has in fact modified the alpha timeline. Afterwards, the events are shown again, but John is pushed out of the way by his future self before Dave notices him and they follow normally.in front of
Following GAME OVER, John resolves to visit Typheus with the hope that his Denizen will help him control his power, as it is “kind of complicated”, which also puts him on the path to completing his personal quest. Before he leaves LOPAN, Terezi tries to use her Mind abilities to give John some guidance in using his retcon powers, but it apparently fizzles out. John then travels to the center of LOWAS, where Typheus , forcing John to choose between retcon-zapping himself away or drowning in oil. Instead, John manages to pick a third option, zapping the oil away itself, to 100 different points throughout Homestuck canon. As with the arm retcon, this affected the real world backlog of Homestuck panels. This marks his “final mastery over his confining reality” and gives him full control over the use of his abilities.
In the hardcover Books, while John's arm appear retconned in their respective pages the same does not apply to the oil retcon. The only exception is in the where Mayonaka's pendant used to be visible; the reason why is unknown.
John's Controlled RetconsEdit
The removal of the oil clears the LOWAS pipe network entirely, allowing John to funnel the Breeze through it by playing , blowing away the clouds on LOWAS and the stardust out of the A6A6 Supercartridge Expansion Pack. At the same time, he makes use of his newly controllable retcon powers to zap the entirety of LOWAS out of "canon-space" .
Afterwards, he ends up back at exact spot where his previous self interferes with Grimdark Jade and Dave's conversation. Remembering him getting pushed out of the way before being able to talk to them, he does the same to himself and ends up off the page, presumably onto the gray border of the website. He sends the previous John away to find Roxy, annulling the effects of the retcon that his past-self had instigated.
It is questionable the effects on the timeline that John's retroactive "un-retcon" of himself made, as him stopping himself from interfering reset the timeline to the way it would originally proceed, with WV dying, but also ends up making the two Johns who keep each other from interfering, removing the situation where he did interfere from ever happening. Paradoxically, this would mean as John never entered Dave and Jade's conversation and would make him never able to know to stop him from doing so. Somehow, retcon powers seem to tie loose ends when it comes to paradoxes and not result in any problems.
Game Over Retcons/Terezi's InstructionsEdit
John realizes that Terezi was sending a mind beacon for him to arrive at. In the story, it is revealed the various [???????] links throughout the story were actually retcon beacons. Going back to the point she does that, Terezi writes a list of locations for John to transport himself to with objectives written in blood on her scarf.
- John's first beacon is “R3UN1ON”, where his instructions are to “GO G3T R1NG”. He takes the ring of life to prevent Aranea from stealing it.
- His second beacon is “FR4M3D”, with his instructions being “R3SCU3 TH3 W1TN3SS B3FOR3 H3 1S MURD3R3D! (DON'T G3T C4UGHT)”. Taking the scalemate is required for one of the other requirements to be completed.
- The third beacon is “MOM3NT”, where he was told to “WR1T3 M3SS4G3 ON W4LL: YOU DON'T N33D H1M.” John did so, but also added “(this is john by the way, ha ha.)”under it.
- Fourth, he goes to “MURD3R”, where he needs to “D3PLOY TH3 W1TN3SS H3 1S CR1T1C4L TO TH3 1NV3ST1G4T1ON!!!!!!!”. Later, John questions the post-retcon Terezi about whether she was messing with him, and she says she probably was, but placing the scalemate did stop Terezi from putting down her glasses to revive Tavros, stopping Gamzee from stealing her glasses.
- John's fifth beacon is “JUST1C3”. His instructions are unclear, but he writes Terezi a message that the murderer was Gamzee. Under it, he writes a long-winded question of who she meant when she said "you don't need him."
- His sixth beacon was “HONK”, with him being told “GR4B 4 HORN... YOU W1LL KNOW WH4T TO DO”. He grabs a horn and .
- The seventh and last beacon John needs to retcon is “FL1P”. He is told to “KNOCK H3R OUT! YOU C4N'T L3T M3 K1LL H3R”, and makes Vriska black out. He was also told to give Terezi his Dad's wallet. He did not have it to give to her, but Vriska especulates the wallet will be used to captchalogue Earth and later alchemizes one.
It is unknown whether John's extra messages drastically affected how the retcon ended up, but as of the conclusion of Homestuck, nothing major has happened for it to constitute importance.
On his last seen retcon, John used his powers offscreen to teleport him and the Homestuck Kids to confront Caliborn, right after he received his immortality powers. Caliborn, however, had the advantage of knowing this would happen through one of his command station's screens, recreating the scene on his "masterpiece". The timeline where John did not zap into is never seen and supposely has never existed. This retcon leads to the paradoxal creation of Lil Cal, who is then banished into the void.
The "dubiously canon" epilogues further details how John came to fight Caliborn; seven years from John's perspective after his last retcon, he is guided by Rose to use his powers for going back to Canon, get another ring of life and assemble a team of younger Homestuck Kids from the "unretconned" timeline to fight Caliborn. The ring of life is later stolen by Meenah's ghost, rendering it useless for John. Walking around the destroyed Furthest Ring, John meets Terezi around and later uses his powers for the last time to warp them back to Earth C.
Some key points introduced before the retcons do not match with the timelines' linearity. The implication that the treasure uses already estabilished powers causes more questions to be asked. It should be noted that:
- Act 7 was storyboarded by 2012 along with its song, and Andrew expected to end Homestuck by October 2014. The comic ended by April 2016.
- After 2012, Homestuck had multiple hiatuses where the author worked on Hiveswap and other minor projects. Previous hiatuses have only existed to work on the comic's animations.
- The arm retcons appear by April 2013.
As some events were reshown in the new timeline under similar circumstances, it's likely Andrew did not have John's retcons planned to the end.
- Caliborn, who is from the post-retcon timeline, gave his juju to a Jake from a timeline where Erisolsprite . Even if his station has acess to the pre-retcon timeline (and he affects it by "glitching" the A6A6 cartridge), the alpha kids also engaged Trickster Mode in the new timeline, making it unclear how the post-retcon kids got hands of his juju.
- Jujus can only be given by their owners and cannot be copied, as the duplicates will always be "hollow" and devoid of powers.
- There could have existed a Caliborn from the pre-retcon timeline not seen in the comic, but he got hands of the sucker and his game because of Gamzee who died in GAME OVER, making this option improbable.
- Doomed selves can not communicate with players from the alpha timeline.
- The Lollipop fell outside the canonical space in and could have ended in the new timeline, but it is that Jane, like her old timeline self, communicated with Calliope to acquire her juju, making this situation even more confusing.
- Andrew (as the computer terminal) stated that Caliborn's Yaldabaoth is “usually designated for the most naturally gifted warriors” despite some denizens being assigned to characters of the same Aspect. It is seen in Collide, however, that his denizen was brought from Dirk's planet by weird plot shit and not really generated by his session, making this statement irrelevant.
- That, or the "naturally gifted" are Heart players.
- Alternate Calliope had a denizen on her doomed Earth, which could also only be brought from another game. She could belong from the former alpha timeline where Aranea did not interfere with the session (with Jade's Echidna ending on her planet), but the Calliope who did not predominate communicated with the kids there. The cherub egg hatched in Universe C, who could have not existed in Aranea's doomed timeline either.
- While being a minor convenience, Jane's heiress tiaratop did not make her attack the other players while asleep in the new timeline.
- The retcon pages have their page numbers in the url, spoiling the point at which they will happen.
- Some archival readers may be able to inadvertently decipher the JUST1C3 password, sending them 3600 pages away on the narrative.
- The retcons are a reference to Professor Wasp's canon-alterning feats in Problem Sleuth's .
- The original versions or retconned panels are still available by removing the word "retcon" from the image's URL.