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A retcon (short for retroactive continuity) is a retroactive expansion or alteration in the official lore of a series of works of fiction. These changes can either be:

  • Additional backstory to explain and expand upon present circumstances.
  • Historical facts which are rewritten and are meant to be taken as having always been that way.

A large portion of the lore of the Warcraft universe would fall under the first meaning, since it was all developed around a relatively simple war between orcs and humans. This article deals with the second meaning of retcon, a retroactive change in the history or backstory.

Some apparently conflicting lore is actually written as flavor lore, and was not necessarily intended to be accurate observations of what actually occurred, but rather competing beliefs held by inhabitants of the world of Azeroth. An example of this is the tauren belief that they were the first druids, which was definitely stated to be false in the Warcraft Encyclopedia.[1]

Metzen on continuity[]

Chris Metzen has emphasized the importance of ensuring continuity within the Warcraft universe:

We're taking the process of building a world seriously and it wasn't just churned out. It had a strong sense of continuity. We've always tried to do that with our ancillary products like the D&D line and our novels. We are kind of painstakingly anal, about making sure all the details add up, that continuity is held to be sacred. So that no matter in what medium you are experiencing Warcraft it all feels like a contiguous experience.[2]

He has also said that the novels are pretty much considered canon, though some things are less canon:

...yeah, the novels are pretty much considered canon, ahm, the funny thing is that some things are less canon, you know, but we shoot for canon... that's a strange statement... we shoot for canon... but yeah, typically the characters in novels are canon. - Chris Metzen[3]

Metzen also said that Blizzard wants to integrate every source as much as possible with each other to get a good continuity:

A lot of times... depending on when one thing gets started during another, we happen to be in the middle or the game, or doing the manga thing for instance or this comic series specifically, we try to engineer as much inner play as possible. Like characters in the manga series showing up in Netherstorm and we are doing stuff like that, so we want to make everything feels as continuity friendly and as integrated as possible. Cuz that would make it cool as if all its moving, right. - Chris Metzen[3]

Retcon speculation[]

The Retcon speculation article lists discrepancies in the Warcraft universe.

It is left to the reader's opinion whether the discrepancies listed in the article constitute errors, retcons, flavor lore, or merely artistic license. The criteria for inclusion in the article is a clear, apparent contradiction between two official sources. Where the sources are reconciled by another official source, that explanation is provided.