Are Sci-Fi fans the biggest complainers about continuity? And

And is continuity a reasonable expectation?

I was reading a thread on my FB Star Trek group. A person was complaining about the show Picard bc there was a one off episode in Next Gen wherein a Romulan told Data (paraphrasing): “Quite a few of my colleagues would be very interested in meeting you”.

And how can that be true when Romulans hate all things AI?

The above is an extreme example of a Sci-Fi fan complaining about something so obscure. I don’t normally see Sci-Fi fans taking it to that level. That said, they (we) do seem to be the biggest complainers about continuity.

To me, continuity seems like a very difficult if not impossible thing to do for a long running series. Especially if there’s many spin offs like Star Trek has.


World-building is a big part of science fiction’s appeal, and so problems with the world’s creation can be annoying - resulting in complaints about continuity.

That being said, there are probably places on the internet where people complain about continuity errors in historical fiction, etc.

P.S. Even if Romulans hate AI, they can be interested in meeting Data - if only to learn about his weaknesses, or to (in their minds) determine that he’s not that great.

The obsession with continuity is a relatively new phenomenon. It developed as a result of tapes, DVDS, and the Internet, which allowed people to binge on shows and note trivial inconsistencies. Reporting them makes them feel like they’ve accomplished something.

But no long-running show can keep track of every line of dialog to check how it matches some offhand comment made ten years before. It’s fine to consider broad continuity consistencies, but when you take something obscure that could possibly be construed as an inconsistency (often it isn’t, as you example shows*), you’re just trying to show off.

I would agree that science fiction has more of this than other genres. There is a contingent in the field that has never read Emerson.

*Romulans may hate AIs but that doesn’t mean they’re not curious about them. Or that the Romulan commenting didn’t subscribe to the common opinion.

There are other serial genres like soap operas where there doesn’t seem to be the level of nitpicking you find among comics/SF fans. I wonder if it’s a gender trait.

It dates back to the earliest comic book letters pages, but the rest of your statement holds true even back then. Those readers had back issues to refer to.

Not universally. I started complaining about continuity in Hogan’s Heroes in the early 70s. I was 10.

Of course, the only one I could complain to was my dad, and I don’t think he cared.

I thought soap operas were all about lack of continuity.

I think this is spot on.

I remember I was binging Voyager on Netflix. In the early episodes, Harry Kim had a fiancé that he had hopes of reuniting with. A few seasons later we learn the whole reason Harry signed up for Voyager was to follow some girl he was in love with.

I completely missed that in my first viewing. It wasn’t until Netflix came along when I said to myself: “Wow I can’t believe I missed that!”

Depending on what exactly the Romulan said it might not be in consistent with hating AIs.

For example: “Some of my colleagues would be interested in meeting you” because they hate AIs and want to destroy you The italicized part being the unsaid meaning.

And it would be just like a Romulan to do that.

Fantasy fans are “just as bad” since world building is so important there too.

Star Trek was created long before the invention of Wikipedia and Memory Alpha. The fans today literally know more than Gene Rodenberry did. Newer story writers will damage continuity in an effort to create a new story, which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t.

I think newer stories have fewer problems this way. People will still notice plot holes, but that’s not a sci-fi/fantasy issue.

As a James Bond aficionado, I’d definitely say that continuity in that franchise is a big subject of playful debate among fans. Some of it you can write off to actor-change retcon, some is meta fourth-wall breaking (“This never happened to that other fellow!”), and some is just inattentive writing. Personally I’ve never bought into the fan theory that “James Bond” is as much a call sign as “007” is and different agents take on the moniker, but folks can have their fun.

Only a veruul would use such language in public.

I’ve come to accept that each actor is unique in his universe. The Judy Dench M in Brosnan movies is not the same as the Daniel Craig’s M. And each character is the first 007.

Oh god, my fellow comic book fans are the worst about this. With all the reboots, and retcons, and rebirths it can be hard to follow a character that’s been around for 60, 70, 80+. I’ve long ago learned to keep my own head canon, and just follow along the absurdities of comics as fun adventure stories.

Not addressing your broader point, but this isn’t necessarily inconsistent. One weakness of either writing science fiction or just the assumptions the reader makes is that every member of every race believes X, and there’s no diversity.

You couldn’t get a single issue on which all humans agree, so why should romulans be any different? Maybe the vast majority of Romulans hate AI, and their society reflects that by, for example, banning AI and aggressively trying to destroy AI. But that doesn’t mean that there’s a small minority of people who disagree with that idea.

Which obviously isn’t what happened here - what happened is that obviously the whole “romulans hate AI” trope was invented after the scene you mentioned. But I think the greater point holds that it’s kind of ridiculous either say “all of race X believe Y” (bad writing) or “hey, wait, someone said race X generally believes Y! But this guy says he believes Z! continuity error!” (bad fandom).

aka “Planet of Hats”.

I don’t think it was a reasonable expectation back in the 1960s. Most people who watched Star Trek or Captain Video didn’t watch episodes more than once, or possibly twice with reruns, and probably didn’t remember minute details. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect continuity for the bigger things.

Talking about minute details, since when were Romulans known to hate all things AI? I pretty much stopped watching all things Trek with Voyager, but was this a thing in the various shows before 2000?

There are going to be errors in it. But the above example is not an error to my mind. The Romulans may very well hate AI, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t Romulan scientist who would jump and a chance to dissect Data. I tend to accept the minor errors because it’s not a big deal and mistakes happen. For Trek, we’re talking about a series of television shows and movies spanning more than fifty years now.

But for some things I expect an explanation if something worked in one episode and doesn’t work in the same way in the next. Let’s take the last Star Wars trilogy that featured a resistance ship attempting to flee from an Order ship through hyperspace. Somehow the Order was always able to track the ship through hyperspace which was something nobody was able to do in previous movies (short of placing a tracking device on the ship as Vader did with the Falcon in the first movie). So how did the Order track them? It’s never explained in the movie. That kind of drove me bonkers though I had many, many other more serious problems with that particular movie.

I could buy Connery and Moore as part of one continuity for the most part. They were only a year or so apart in age. When you see Tracey’s gravestone in For Your Eyes Only and the date of death corresponds to On her Majesty’s Secret Service’s release year, it makes sense. Blofeld’s characterizations from 1967 to 1971 were huger stylistic leaps than the acting choices Moore made to differentiate himself from his predecessors.

I don’t think it’s inherently about science fiction. It’s just that any long running series or franchise that takes itself seriously is going to build up a fictional world. And the longer the fans consider something to be true, they more importance it gets, and the more they notice and/or dislike when it is changed. Of course, the importance of the information is also relevant–e.g. few people care too much about background details that never show up on screen.

Science fiction fans do take things more seriously, so I guess that might lead to them caring more. But I’d also note that a lot of the gripes today have a lot more to do with some fans not liking the new direction the shows are going. The more you like something, the stronger your suspension of disbelief.

A lot of fans wanted something from new Star Trek that they are not getting, and so the flaws stand out more to them, even if they generally like what they’re watching.

It is all canon.
– Even the stories which don’t fit?
Especially the stories which don’t fit!