“Continuity is absolutely crucial for compelling, satisfying, and powerful storytelling.”
“Continuity stifles creativity and is overseen by a bunch of insufferable nitpickers.”
These two statements represent the opposing arguments that storytellers and fans so often stake their passions and emotions on. Continuity, by definition, is a fairly basic concept: this shit should make sense.
If a character has an empty gun, we better see him load it before he shoots and kills his enemy. If a story is set on a cloudy winter night, we shouldn’t witness someone squinting from the sunlight unless there’s a good reason.
But that kind of continuity is just the tip of the iceberg. What we’re really talking about is when something major that happened two seasons or fifty issues or seven novels ago and should have a bearing on a current story is completely ignored without any explanation.
The onus in this world of franchise filmmaking, comic books with over 75 years of history, serialized television shows, and epic tales told over the course of multiple novels is on the storyteller to not only remember all these details but to use these details to define whatever comes next.
And that’s where things get complicated.