The idea of separate continuities was first used in 1987, after Iola Morton was killed in a car bombing in Casefiles #1 Dead on Target but lived on in the Digest series (part of the Original Continuity).
The third continuity was introduced in the April of 2005. In this the Undercover Brothers Continuity the Hardy boys work for American Teens Against Crime. The Adventures Continuity, the fourth and current continuity debuted in February 2013 where the Hardy's solve their own cases.
The Original Continuity and Casefiles Continuity are usually thought of as being in the same "world" with the death of Iola directly following the events of the Original Continuity. Other than the odd contradiction, such as the van that the Hardys bought after Iola's death in the Casefiles, but own while Iola is still alive in the Digest series, these two continuities work fairly well together.
Most of the time two of the three continuities fit together well (with the above mentioned fitting the best), but trying to fit all three together just causes inconsistency.
There are four series that don't fit into the four continuities mentioned above, they are The Hardy Boys are: The Clues Brothers, The Hardy Boys: Secret Files, The Hardy Boys Clue Books and the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Be a Detective Mystery Stories.
The Clues Brothers takes place when Frank is nine and Joe is eight, so therefore happens years before any of the other series. The Clues Brothers series is usually thought of as a prequel series to the Original and Casefiles continuities. The Secret Files & Clue Books are in the same continuity and are usually thought to be a prequel series to the Undercover Brothers.
The Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Be a Detective Mystery Stories, while similar to the Digest stories (especially the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Sleuths! books), can not really be included in any of the aforementioned continuities, because the reader controls the outcome of the story by choosing different options to advance the plot, so the books have multiple endings.
There have been four different Hardy Boys TV shows (as well as a failed pilot, based on The Mystery of the Chinese Junk (1967 TV)) over the years, each in separate continuities.
Canon Vs. Continuity
Since 1979 when the courts ruled that Grosset & Dunlap were allowed to continue reprinting the Hardy Boys books that they have been publishing since 1927, many fans have wondered which stories are and are not "Canon" adventures of the Hardy's.
The majority of fans over the age of 45 consider only the books by Grosset & Dunlap (including the Detective Handbook and Volumes 59-66 that were printed by Grosset & Dunlap in 2005) to be the "Canon" adventures of the Hardy Boys, with all other books and spin-offs being "Apocryphal".
However, for the majority of fans 44 years and younger consider the subject to be rather pointless, since they consider all the books (including the Papercutz graphic novels, since the other comic books that have been published have been adaptations of TV episodes or derived from other non-Canon sources, whereas the Papercutz books are the continuing adventures of the Undercover Brothers continuity) to be "Canon" while the various spin-offs (TV shows, video games, etc.) are considered "Apocryphal". The fans in this group take the same view of the books as the fans of Star Trek take towards the episodes and movies: anything on film (in the Hardy Boys case, printed book form) is canon with there being different continuities , but the novels (HB: TV Shows), video games, etc. are "Apocryphal" stories.
- ↑ Gene Roddenberry Continuity: Star Trek The Original Series, Star Trek The Animated Series, Star Trek The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek Enterprise, Star Trek The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek First Contact, Star Trek Insurrection, Star Trek Nemesis
- ↑ JJ Abrams Continuity: Star Trek (2009)
- ↑ Comic book Canon: X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman: comic books/graphic novels are Canon, but all other material (film, CD's, etc.) is not.