cameo: a small appearance in media, usually with a famed celeberty. The Expendables movie features Arnold Schwarzengger and Bruce Willis (action star legends in their own right). However, scheduling conflicts and previous engagements prevented adequate screen-time, so the two stars made short-lived appearances as their contribution to the movie genre they themselves made popular. Usually lasts from five to ten seconds.
canon: term describing the validity of entries added to the chronological time-line of certain fiction. For example, The Force Unleashed video game has been approved by George Lucas to be an actual event within the Star Wars timeline. Non-canon means the story does is just a what-if scenario that has no effect on the official chronology whatsoever.
continuty: a term for the medium’s overall chronology. Since events can change on a whim, the term applies both as the structured pattern of one event following the next and the fluidity of said events, always subject to change. It is both loose and structured at the same time.
franchise: a collection of merchandise meant for sale or profit. This involves everything from action figures to DVDs. Most often added when interest of a series peaks, accompanying movies and other similar events.
reboot: a piece of media (books, movies, etc) that completely disavows previous entries in the franchise and creates an entirely new continuity. Since comic book characters are constantly evolving to fit the current decade’s culture, the original essence of said character can become diluted. The Batman Begins movie took the darker elements of Batman’s origins and put them on Wayne’s shoulders. It allowed Wayne to evolve from a bitter victim of injustice to a vigilante whose refusal to kill simutaneously separates him from the villains he faces and allows him to fight evil on it’s own game.
retcon: The term for adjusting established facts and events in a franchise’s timeline. In the early issues of Image Comics’ Spawn, it was a man named Chapel that originally killed Al Simmons aka Spawn. Chapel and Spawn did battle in the next issue, but later on the writers switched Chapel as the killer to Jessica Priest, a character whose psychotic tendencies made her a fan favorite. A more common retcon is to update a comic to modern standards. One can’t have Superman battling Nazis in 2010.
side story: An event occuring in the universe of the franchise but has little to do with the franchise’s main characters and/or plot. Point in fact: the Gundam anime franchise. The core serries, Mobile Suit Gundam, revolves around the One Year War, a conflict in which Earth-born humans and space-born humans battle for independence. Years later, the 08th MS Team was created. While Gundam dealt with space battle, 08th MS Team focused on the war on Earth; more specifically to Southeast Asia, where a rag-tag group of Earth-born Federation officers fight a gurilla war against the space-born Zeon. It is not necessary to watch the side-story to understand the main series, but it does add additional insight into the franchise at large.
spin-off: an event in television programs that serves as the basis of a entirely new entry in the original show’s universe. The presence of Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the military drama JAG proved so popular that the creators decided to build a show around Gibbs’ life.
spiritual successor: An entry in the franchise that shares elements from a previous franchise. The Xenogears video game was based on a planet while the Xenosaga series dealt with intergalatic war. Both had the Zohar Modifier (a coveted energy source). Many giant robots from Xenogears appeared in cameos in Xenosaga. Aside from the similarities, the two series are their own independent franchises.