Created By: Itwasjustunjellify on April 23, 2013 Last Edited By: Itwasjustunjellify on January 2, 2018

Five Times, One Time Fic

Fanfics following the structure of "Five times (event happens) and one time (event doesn't happen)"

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A fanfiction or other work structured in six small "scenes" with an event happening in the first five scenes and then either not happening or happening differently in the last. This trope occurs most often in romantic fics, where common titles include "Five times Alice kissed Bob and one time Bob kissed back" and "Five times Bob said 'I love you' and one time he didn't need to." The title always follows the pattern of "Five times (event happens) and one time (event either doesn't happen or variation on event happens)" in an example of Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This style is sometimes considered lazy or amateur among the fanfic community.

NB: I'm not sure how much potential this YKTTW has for examples, seeing as they're all going to be fanfics, but it's a trend I see a hell of a lot and I couldn't find an existing trope for it. Do We Have This One?? If this trope or a similar one does already exist, please point me to it. Also, please tell me if this doesn't exactly fit as a trope for any reason.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • April 24, 2013
    Somehow, I get a feeling this is Too Specific To Trope, since even you, as an OP, cannot list any examples. There could still be a trope here, if it gets redefined more broadly to a (sub)plot structure, where the same thing happens repeatedly until the pattern is finally subverted in the end, bringing a conclusion. Something along the way of "Subverted Motif Conclusion"...
  • April 24, 2013
    Seems to me like the Rule Of Three except with six.
  • April 24, 2013
    It's not that it's too specific; it's that practically every modern fandom has at least one example (since it seems to be a popular format these days).
  • April 24, 2013
    At least a few examples would be useful, for those of us who don't read a lot of fan fics, and thus have not seen this happen even once (such as myself). This does seem like a very odd trend. Any idea how it originated?
  • April 24, 2013
    Hmmm have to agree with the troper above me, it seems far too broad for application and yet this troper also has never heard of this occuring in fanfiction
  • April 24, 2013
    Fanlore has an entry for Five Times-style fanfics. According to them, the trend started with a Smallville fic in 2001.

    Also, Archive Of Our Own lists 2704 fics tagged with "Five Times".
  • April 24, 2013
    This is actually a common fanfic format.

    Here's a link to a challenge for this kind of fanfic that's dated 2008 from the Artimis Fowl fandom

    One for Community:

    A slashy Superboy one:

    Even slashier Sherlock one:

    Frasier one:

    Supernatural one:

    High School Musical:

    Avatar: The Last Airbender:

    Stargate SG-1:

    These might be best categorized by the type of media they are fanfic of and then by fandom.
  • April 24, 2013
  • April 25, 2013
    While the "5 times, 1 time" format may be the most common, I've seen other numbers (at least 3, usually under 12). Usually, each example is written as a separate little story, at least a paragraph, possibly a good length chapter, separated by internal time, but on the same timeline. All the examples I've seen have been in chronological order. Usually numbered. May be gen, slash, or het, serious or funny.
  • April 25, 2013
    Definitely not too rare to trope; as the OP said, these things are everywhere. Unless there's a reason we shouldn't have a page for a genre of fanfiction, I don't see the problem.
  • April 25, 2013
    So, apparently, this is a thing. And it's most certainly tropable. We have other Fanfic Tropes, so I see no reason why this can't be one of them. I just had no idea this existed because I don't read fanfics. So some of the links listed above would be useful on the trope page for those of us who are like me, who are not initiated into the world of fanfics, and may want to learn about things like this. We probably don't need to include every example, though the link to the Fanlore article would be useful. And if any of the examples have their own work page, as I understand some fanfics do get work pages, then they should be included too.
  • April 25, 2013
    Perhaps it could be listed as an informative trope only? Since this is only targetted at the area of fanfiction (see tropes lemon, lime etc.) it could serve as the same No Examples Please format?
  • April 25, 2013
    @Isaac: Weblinks Are Not Examples. Please summarize the 5/1 situations.
  • June 17, 2013
    I haven't even read most of the ones I posted; my point was purely that 5/1 is definitely common enough to trope. I'm inclined to agree with Wacky Meets Practical and astryll that something actually needs to be done to limit the number of entries, perhaps only listing those that have their own pages.
  • May 19, 2017
    I'm surprised this was raised back in 2013 and hasn't got a page up yet. It's definitely an existing formula for fanfiction that I've seen everywhere.

    I've been seeing it a lot while reading Person Of Interest fics lately, which is why I decided to look up more info on it here. But a quick AO 3 search nets:
    • Five Times John Let Harold Sleep and One Time He Didn't
    • Five Times Nathan Died, and One Time He Didn't
    • Five Times Reese and Finch Didn't Hug and One Time They Did
    • Five Times John Lost Harold, and One Time He Found Him
    • Shaw Is from Mars, Finch Is from Venus: Five Times Shaw and Finch Weren't on the Same Page (and One Time They Were)
    • Five Times Reese Was There for Finch
    • Five Times This Happened, and One Time That Happened
    • Five Times Finch Compared Reese to Dillinger
    • Five Times Harold and John Died Together (and One Time They Lived Together)
    • Five Times the Machine Wooed Shaw

    That's just the POI fandom. It does appear that the 5+1 formula can be truncated to just 5, but the 5+1 is more common. It's like a challenge format to encourage writers to just churn stuff out and exercise their imaginations, and some of them are pretty neat.

    As far as a limit on examples, I'd be more inclined to say "Don't just post a name/link and run off — explain why the example is worth looking at while exploring this format." Because, yeah, there's tons of them, and obviously there needs to be a bit of weeding to keep the example list useful.
  • January 2, 2018
    It is 2018 and we still don't have this.

    I think this format is pretty common in many fanfics, specially if you are going for something short but sweet and need a common theme to wrap all the elements. I guess they are used for every genre, but the ones I have seen most are for fluff, comedy, hurt/comfort, angst and/or romance fanfics. Not my favorite, but not bad either. Too prevalent to deserve their own page, that's for sure.

    As OP said, the format is really simple, "Five times Alice did [something]..." is usually how every fic like this starts, it doesn't necessarily have to be a second character, but if there is chances are that the second part will swap the characters while leaving the action intact: "Five times Alice did [something] to Bob and one time Bob did it to Alice."

    Another variant is to subvert the action instead of the characters: "Five times Alice did [something] and one time she [surprisigly] didn't". Doing it well, the thing she didn't do will be the most significative or shade new light to the whole fanfic.

    As for examples, I think it's a little bit tricky. If you search you will find examples in almost any fandom, but I cannot think of any specific or notable one right now (Yes, I am aware that there There Is No Such Thing As Notability, but still you have to draw a line at certain point).

    If I find good examples I will list them here (I haven't seen any that already has a Tv Tropes page but I haven't looked). I hope this gets a page because... why not?