This is when writers want to include an idea--any element contributing to the plot or a character--in canon, but don't want to explicitely state it. As a work-around, the writers hint at the idea until it's accepted by most of the fandom. These hints are usually strong enough that most of the fandom gets the right idea fairly quickly, but not so strong that they can't be ignored or attributed to something else if the viewer dislikes the idea being hinted at. This tactic is most often employed when writers want to include an element such as mental illness, rape, or another sensitive topic in a plotline or a character's backstory as a means of plot or character development, but don't want to explicitly state it to avoid controversy or alienating certain viewers. If the hints are particularly weak or ambiguous, it can be difficult to determine if they are deliberate or merely a coincidence. Short of a Word of God confirmation of intent, the easiest way to establish this is if the idea is built on as if it was canon. This trope is most common in live TV-shows, but shows up in other mediums fairly often as well.
- From NCIS, Ziva having been raped in Somalia. It was hinted at by Gibbs and Vance throughout the beginning of the seventh season and is widely accepted fanon.
- The idea is further used throughout the seventh and eighth seasons to help develop Ziva as a character, as well as her relationships with other characters, most substantially Gibbs, Tony, and her father, but remains non-canon.
- Renee Walker having been raped on 24. While it was pretty evident that she was raped by Vladimir Laitanan during the events of Day 8, the writers never more than hinted at the idea that she was also raped when she was undercover with the Russians before. This is one of the most widely accepted pieces of fanon in the 24 fandom, many fans even considering it canon.
- This idea is later used to help validate what Renee ends up doing to Laitanan.
- From Bones, Brennan having Asperger's Syndrome was an example of this until she was given a Word of God diagnosis.
- Brennan is still an example of this is you don't consider the word of God to be canonical.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.