Canon

expanded universe

In the context of a work of fiction, the term canon denotes the material accepted as ‘official,’ in a fictional universe’s fan base. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction, which are not considered canonical. It is used in two slightly different meanings: first, it refers to the overall set of storylines, premises, settings, and characters offered by the source media text. In this sense, canon is the original work from which the fan fiction author borrows. Secondly, it is used as a descriptor of specific incidents, relationships, or story arcs that take place within the overall canon; thus certain incidents or relationships may be described as being canon or not.

The use of the word ‘canon’ in reference to a set of texts derives from Biblical canon, the set of books regarded as scripture. The term was first used in the context of fiction to refer to the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to distinguish those works from subsequent pastiches by other authors. It has subsequently been applied to many media franchises. Among these are science fiction franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who, in which many stories have been told in different media, some of which contradict or appear to contradict each other.

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