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 .
However, Vriska believesthat the offensive capability of the weapon has yet to be used against English, and if true this implies that the retcon abilities may have simply been a side-effect of touching the Treasure. This means that additional characters might similarly be able to gain this ability.
Use of Retcon Mechanics in HomestuckEdit
Upon first encountering the treasure, John placed his hand into it 4*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; that is to say previous pages were amended in the real world 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 randomlyto different points within the Homestuck canon. This results in to many previous panels, another change to the meta-narrative.
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 whilst the latter is controlled by the Condesce, averting a confrontation which previously had resulted in the Wayward Vagabond 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.in front of
Immediately afterwards, the evets are shown again, but this time, he does not talk to Jade and Dave as he is pushed out of the way by his future self before he can do so.
Following GAME OVER, John resolves to visit Typheus with the hope that his Denizen will be able to 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 Pyrope 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 throughout Homestuck canon. As with the arm retcon, this affected the real world backlog of Homestuck panels. This marked his final mastery over his confining reality, and gave him full control over the use of his retcon abilities.
John's Controlled RetconsEdit
The removal of the oil cleared the LOWAS pipe network entirely, allowing John to funnel the Breeze through it by playing , blowing away the clouds on LOWAS and blowing the stardust out of the Act 6 Act 6 Supercartridge Expansion Pack. At the same time, he makes use of his newly controllable retcon powers, zapping the entirety of LOWAS out of "canon-space" .
Afterwards, he ends up back at exact same the time 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 and pushes himself out of the way so neither of them are noticed and ends up off the page and presumably onto the gray border of the website. After an intense staredown, 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. Luckily, retcon powers seem to tie loose ends when it comes to paradoxes and not result in any problems.
Game Over Retcons/Terezi's InstructionsEdit
Following the GAME OVER timeline, after gaining more control over his retcon powers, John is sent by Terezi to attempt to retcon the events leading up to it so that they never happen. Starting off, John is unsuccessful, leading to him leaving and talking to Roxy. After attempting to retcon an event, he 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. Terezi writes a list of locations for John to transport himself to with instructions written in blood on her scarf. She then draws an outline of herself on the ground, does a proper keel, and immediately dies .
- 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. As he is told to KNOCK H3R OUT! YOU C4N'T L3T M3 K1LL H3R. Just before Terezi kills Vriska after her coin flip, John knocks her out cold. He was also told to give Terezi her wallet. Whether this was actually important to the retcon or her messing with him, he did not have it to give to her. 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.