Reading this answer, I was about to upvote it when it struck me... it does not answer the question.

Questions about franchises that exist in multiple formats often explicitly ask for a comparison between some of them. But when that is not the case, I feel like making a cross-reference is not what the OP asked for.

If I ask something about the LotR movies, and someone answers "Well in the book it happens like this", what I understand is "The movies are not to be taken into account, they are incomplete"... which of course is true but does not answer the question.

If I ask a question about the Marvel Cinematic Universe without specifying that I'm looking for comic book background knowledge, I'm sure people will answer with Ultimate Universe information or even an Earth-616 based answer unless I explicitly mention that I do not want it...

Is this a normal interpretation? Or am I just looking too deep in the Q/A format?

  • I don't think using book canon to answer a question about the movie/TV show necessarily implies the movies aren't to be considered. It may just mean that a topic is ambiguous or not clear in the visual media, whereas it's explained quite explicitly in the books. The books can be useful for clearing up confusion about shared plot points between the two. Aug 9, 2013 at 13:50

3 Answers 3


This is an interesting question. Unless stated otherwise, I would utilize multiple canon sources to answer a question, but judiciously. For example, if I were answering a Harry Potter question, I would definitely use all the books, any direct information from the author, and information from (more) reliable websites, such as the HP Lexicon or Pottermore. I would not, however, answer a canon-based question with information from the HP movies or the Wiki/Wikia unless the OP stated he/she specifically wanted that level of comparison. That said, when I'm the OP, I try and communicate what source information is acceptable to me when I ask the question. Some questions are more conducive to book-to-movie comparisons, such as LOTR, as you mention. If someone is specifically asking about one of the LOTR movies, though, I would think it wholly appropriate to give a movie-based answer. Whether I would go on to also make a book comparison would depend on the question, so I can't say I have a blanket rule about not referencing one canon source in light of a question asked in the context of a different source.

I can't say whether your line of reasoning is "normal" (what is normal anyway?) or not; I would imagine there are multiple opinions out there on how to apply appropriate canon sourcing. But I think it's good that you want to answer questions in a way that best suits an OP's inquiry.


Here is the wonderful thing about Stack Exchange sites. You can receive multiple answers! In cases like this where there is ambiguity and uncertainty about which sources are being asked about, there can exist multiple answers.

For example, say we have a Green Lantern question which, as far as the question goes, could be about the comic books, the movie, or the animated series. If a user answers solely on the movie, the answer is not necessarily wrong, but also may not be considered an answer to the OP. Even if it is, another user can come along and give an answer for The Animated Series. Same thing goes for the comics.

So long as we encourage multiple answers that are different, this behavior should happen naturally. The OP can accept the one that they were looking for and the community can vote on how good the other answers are. This can also be helpful for users that only follow certain mediums. So if a Star Wars question comes up, I may have an answer that is informed by the movies while someone else may be more qualified to answer on behalf of the books or TV series.

Of course great answers will likely still include as many forms as possible and stick to the most realistic sources for the question, so in the Green Lantern scenario the majority of a multi-source answer would consist of comic book information. However this is still going to need a user's best judgement per question.

A question can have multiple answers. If you feel that you can give an answer for one source, but think someone more qualified should answer for a different source, then feel free to offer your answer, so long as the question is not specifying which source material they are referring to.


I agree with Slytherincess's answer. The level and quantity of canon varies drastically from world to world - Star Wars has an explicit canon structure, and hundreds of sources, Tolkien has copious published notes to go along with the books and the movies, while some world consist of only a handful of books.

Sometimes you can look at the question to determine the level of canon they are likely looking for. For example, if they ask for something about the Dead at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, they're probably asking from a movie standpoint. And if they ask a question about Jacen Solo, they probably accept most Star Wars EU material.

That being said, if they do not specify, as most won't, and if it is not clear, like in the linked example, where the scene occurs in both film and novel, then I would give the most complete answer possible, noting any differences between various adaptions. I wouldn't say that your line of reasoning is abnormal per se, but you may be setting a bar higher than most askers are willing to meet.

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