All fanfic is arguably an Alternate Continuity
, since the audience can assume it intends to follow Canon
to a specific point, then branch off. Indeed, the only major fic types that don't
branch off are post series Continuation
fics and those written to fit neatly into canon, as they don't disrupt the continuity. However, labeling something an AU Fic
sometimes has a different implication, where one fundamental aspect of the series is completely overhauled from its point of origin.
The standards for how much is fundamental to the series vary by fandom and by time of writing, but the fic types that are usually considered AU are the following:
- Contextual Reassignment - When the fundamental aspect that is changed is the world itself. Overt changes in the universe rules and World Building constitute the most universally accepted meaning of AU. Thus, the fan equivalent to an Elseworld. However, there's a lot less tolerance of altering personalities and abilities. These come in two main forms:
- Familiar Contextual Reassignment: When the characters are taken out of their world and placed in a setting that is fairly familiar to the author and readers - the High School AU is especially common, putting characters who would not have met or even existed for years in close proximity during teenage years.
- Unfamiliar Contextual Reassignment - When the characters are taken out of their world and placed in a setting much more unfamiliar to the author or the reader - for example prison, a Nazi Death Camp, Normandy 1066, or possibly Mars.
- What If? - For lesser changes, there are the What Ifs about major events in the series - how 'major' counts as 'major' is debatable. There are two common forms of this.
- Alternate History - Where the author takes one point of time, one event in the universe and changes the outcome of it radically, such as an important decision, or who won an important fight, and continues from that point. Sometimes called a Divergence Fic.
- Character Facets - The author speculates on what would happen if a single facet of a character's enviroment was different about them, or may blatantly ignore a Word Of God statement, for example, what if a character was blind, or had a little brother in the show right from the start.
- Continuation - There are also the Continuation fics written before the series has finished, which are rendered AU when new episodes in canon contradict the events of the fic. This is more of an Alternate Continuity, as the opening paragraph mentions, but tends to be considered AU too. Retrospectively, these fics become the What If? variaton mentioned above, but are written from a different stance. (Harry Potter ficdom was particularly prone to these until after the publication of Deathly Hallows.)
Full-blown AU fic is tricky, as it should require a fair notion of the original series itself, making it harder to read for some casual fans. There's also the major danger of the Transplanted Character Fic
, because if you change the plot too much the story's not so much a Fan Fic
as an original story with familiar names. On the plus side, rookie fans who might suffer from Continuity Lockout
in the canon series because they only found it after it became established may be able to enjoy AU fics, particularly if they actually explain a lot of the universe and don't assume that you know all the important things already
. Trying to follow Buffy the Vampire Slayer
when you first start watching in its fifth season, with all the Character Development
that's taken place up to that point, is a lot harder than cutting your teeth on an AU fic that starts out with the Scoobies in high school and doesn't require any advance knowledge of the setting.
See also Universal Adaptor Cast
and Fix Fic
. Other types, such as Mary Sue
and Cross Over
fics, are arguably AU too, but don't get counted as such.
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Anime & Manga
- Honor Trip is an extensive Dragon Ball Z fanfiction that chronicles an alternate universe where Cell becomes a hero, & makes amends for his previous deeds.
- Downfall is a continuity where Aizen never was the villain, instead Unohana, you know... Team Mom... is the Big Bad. Kyoraku and Ukitake follow her. Nel is Primera. Gin and Ran are Soul Society's resident experts on relationships. Rukia dies.
- Gregg "Metroanime" Sharp's The Bet is a cycle of stories based around a competition by a group of gods, demons, spirits and the occasional mortal to see who can make the biggest change in one of several "standard" timelines (the canon versions of Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo!, and Sailor Moon among others) with the smallest alteration. Each entry in "The Bet" is a small Alternate Universe Fic. The Bet inspired many contributors and imitators, and turned Alternate Universe Fics into sort of a cottage industry for Sharp.
- A Fox in Tokyo by Doghead Thirteen is one for Naruto, where the main change is that it's set in the author's Mega Crossover Top Dog universe, which includes a modern-day Tokyo where Nerima is a separate country owned and ruled by Soun Tendo, who is a werewolf. Needs to be seen to be believed.
- Team 8: Another Naruto fic. Something (currently a Noodle Incident) happens in Kurenai's past, and when she is tapped to train a genin team, she goes out of her way to request a specific newly-graduated ninja—her ninja team consists of Hinata Hyuga, Shino Aburame, and Naruto Uzumaki.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion R is one example of such a fic, diverging from the (formerly, with Rebuild) canonical timeline at the end of Episode 24 and beginning of the End Of Evangelion. Essentially, Gendo anticipates Seele's attack, decides he's not ready for it, and begins a major reconstruction of Tokyo-3 in order to make himself a public hero that is temporarily untouchable. In retaliation, Seele builds a bunch of faux Angels for the purpose of attacking Nerv and initiating Third Impact in a more plausibly deniable way, while also recruiting another human-like Angel (ala Kaworu) to help them. Also, Shinji gets better. As does Asuka. And Rei. And everyone else. Well, almost.
- RE-TAKE is perhaps the most popular example amongst the Evangelion fandom. Here, Shinji has a dream which he realizes prophesies the events of End Of Evangelion, and resolves to make better choices in order to avoid the bleak outcome of that story. He ends up getting engaged to Asuka and fathering her child. He also learns that it is he — not Kaworu — who is the final angel, and that his unborn child is half-angel because of this. While Gendo tries to make Shinji reach his Despair Event Horizon by seemingly letting Asuka die in an angel attack, Shinji manages to not be as selfish as he was in the original story and defeats the angels and SEELE without triggering Third Impact. He and Asuka eventually rekindle their romance and live happily ever after.
- Ascension is another Evangelion fic that has the divergence-type premise: Seele's plans for Instrumentality were interrupted by the events of Half-Life (the fic is a crossover) bringing Second Impact two years ahead of schedule. This fundamentally altered the universe in several ways, making Kaworu and Rei into Artificial Human Tyke Bombs designed to hunt Combine Advisors, Asuka into a Military Brat who grew up with her father and Shinji into a late-comer secondary character. Yui didn't get involved with Seele and kicked Gendo out when Shinji was little then adopted Rei to make up for Gendo taking Shinji with him. Kyoko was assassinated for going against Seele's dogma, making Asuka into a Failure Knight since childhood. Evangelions were developed independently of Seele's influence but are based on the Nihilanth instead. Later on it's revealed that it's not quite the same universe at all.
- For Code Geass, a major point of divergence from the anime's original plot is explored in Lelouch Of Britannia, where the author explores the What If? scenario where Lelouch is not banished from the court, and grows up in Pendragon. The answer? Quite a bit, but with some interesting parallels to the original timeline.
- A Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfic called Son Of Apophis. All the character's Yamis become older brothers, with the exception of Bakura, who's an older cousin that is secretly a half-brother. Card games still exist, and it's implied that Yami is still the champion of them, but the tournaments seem to have never taken place. Yami Marik is no where near as psychotic or violent as he is in the actual manga (though he used to be, years ago) and Marik was crippled by his father.
- It takes place in a new cyberpunk/gothic setting, but Soul Eater has an AU by Ryo Hoshi called Shadows on the Walls, which has a very strange mix of People In Jars, Lotus Eater Machine, and features some familiar faces traveling as a band...and has the Cargo Ship of Soul Eater Evans and booze. Oh, right, and Maka is a prostitute and Noah does what he does best.
- Another one for Soul Eater would be A Soul's Songbook, which is a result of a single What If? involving a switch in who won a battle nearly a thousand years before the start of the canon that ends up turning it into a Crapsack World run by the Big Bad of the canon, with, among other things, a rare example of Crystal Dragon Jesus sharing a world with Real Jesus...and the Eldritch Abomination cult.
- Genius is a Curse, a Death Note Dark Fic, where Ryuk never drops his Death Note, and Light never becomes Kira, and thus has nothing to alleviate his sheer boredom with. Deals with clinical depression.
- By the same author as Genius is a Curse, a more extreme example of AU. It's Just A Game. The page description: "It's 2016 & Light is bored to death. Ryuk offers him the Death Note, a program that lets him wreak havoc anonymously in a virtual world. L pursues this Kira, but when real people start dying, the line between fantasy and reality blurs beyond recognition." L works for Wammy House, the software company making the game, and Ryuk is a disillusioned game programmer they fired. Seems to toy with Your Mind Makes It Real.
- NIGHTWALKER:STRANGE PATHS basically retells the anime story. The only differences are that Riho is a 140 year old vampire and Shido starts out as an ordinary human detective.
- Fullmetal Alchemist Threads Of Time focuses on the notion of Alphonse attaching Edward's soul to a suit of armor, and Alphonse obtaining automail limbs.
- ZeonQuest is a Gundam AU fic focusing on how one soldier has managed to already permanently alter the Universal Century.
- Freefall is a real-world AU crossover fic of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and XxxHolic, among many other CLAMP works, that has no magic, time-travel or monsters- and yet manages to be just as complex and involved as the original canon.
- Nerima Magistra Nelly Magi is a retelling of Mahou Sensei Negima! with every character's gender reversed.
- Though A Bird Cant Fly, That Doesn't Mean It Never Will is a One Piece "What If?" fic in which Zoro's childhood rival Kuina is blinded instead of killed in her tragic accident. She grows up to be a Blind Weapon Master who ends up joining the Marines in order to track down Zoro and find out why he's become a pirate.
- Given the nature of Axis Powers Hetalia and the liberal use of A Us by Himaruya himself, it's no surprise that there are a good deal of them. One example, though a Dark Fic one, is All He Ever Wanted, involving an Alternate History where England keeps his alliance with Japan.
- Game Theory is a Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic in which Precia didn't go completely insane. Although still obsessed with reviving Alicia, she is a great deal more practical in her methods. This has numerous consequences that all follow logically from that divergence, which slowly build up until the plot goes spectacularly Off the Rails when Nanoha decides to help Precia.
- The universe itself has also been tweaked somewhat, as the authors of the story have greatly expanded on the background, and altered several details that weren't internally consistent in the original work, which makes for a smoother narrative flow.
- Graceful Degradation is a Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic where the TSAB is prevented from getting involved in the Jewel Seeds incident due to the Arthra getting damaged when Precia moves the Garden of Time while they were in the same relative proximity of it. Events then start to rapidly change from that such as Nanoha fighting Precia Testarossa herself, and then goes completely Off the Rails when the Wolkenritter appear five weeks sooner than in canon.
- Puella Magi Yuuko Magica is a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fanfic in which the world-changing wish that Madoka created is something along the lines of "I want us to no longer be slaves to the Incubators", so now magic is rampant within her world. However, the magic is hidden from Muggles of course. It's supposed to be a prequel to a seemingly unrelated fic, though. At least Madoka gets to be a Little Miss Badass in this.
- There's also Busou Shoujo Madoka ☆ Mafia, a doujin series which involves the girls of Madoka in a mafia setting, with Madoka herself as the Badass Adorable boss of her syndicate and the other girls as her enforcers.
- While the Tamers Forever Series mostly maintains the same continuity as the canon Anime/Digimon series, it does Retcon the epilogue of 02, as well as the events of Runaway Locomon
- The Spider-Woman series, which posits what would have occurred if Mary Jane Watson had been bitten by the radioactive spider rather than Peter Parker.
- Speaking of such, there's a surprising amount of 'retelling' stories, basically with a similar premise as Ultimate Spider-Man: Spdey's adventures retold, with original and familiar ideas thrown around. Sometimes, they can be epic and even Better Than Canon, other times they can fall into common fanfic problems. Notably, Gwen Stacy dies in a lot of them, seemingly for no reason. To a lesserdegree, other comics, such is Iron Man, Avengers, Batman, and even Transformers get the same treatment.
- Winning The Witch, a Young Avengers fanfic set in the world of zombies.
Film — Animated
- Odd Couple, for Transformers Animated. It originally centered around Prowl and Lockdown, but eventually became so fleshed out that an entire other story set called Odd Moments was put up to show peeks into everyone else's stories.
- The Rise Of The Guardians fanfic Zastruga has Pitch Black taking Jack Frost in as a ward and protege shortly after his creation as a spirit. The story explores what effects this would have on the plot and character relationships once the movie rolls around.
Film — Live-Action
- Heroes and Demons is an AU of Iron Man. What if Pepper never met Tony until way after he got kidnapped in Afganistan? It involves mixing in elements from comics but really fleshed out the world without Iron Man.
- Mike Wong's Conquest applies an alternate continuity to post-movie Star Wars in order to make the story work. Here, Darth Caedus kills Luke and reforms the Empire, and also brings Jaina Solo to the Dark Side.
Live Action TV
- Better Angels is a For Want of a Nail fic about Shane Walsh taking over the leader role from Rick Grimes and how his actions would affect the group when they arrive at The Prison.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- There is an entire genre of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfics called "Halloween fics." They're mainly CrossOver fics. They are all based on the premise, "What if so-and-so had dressed up as such-and-such on the Halloween Ethan Rayne came to town, and there was some sort of lasting effect?" There are actually a bunch of really good fanfics that come out of this genre, particularly Scribbler's "Jedi Harris", in which Xander had dressed up as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor's version) instead of a generic soldier.
- There is another genre of fic that involve Faith returning to Sunnydale between seasons 5 and 6 after Buffy's death instead of her canonical return in Season Seven. Most often used in Buffy/Faith fics, but other pairings do pop up from time to time.
- There are several AU NCIS fanfics where Caitlin Todd does not die and is still a member of NCIS alongside Ziva, more often than not in a relationship with her, like the work here.
- ''Take My Hand'' is an AU LOST fanfic where the Others, rather than hostile natives, are soldiers running a tyrannical government led by Ben. The whole story is full of nods to the original continuity, while maintaining the mood and atmosphere of classic dystopian fiction.
- The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries has ''Blood Circles'', where magic works, Joe Hardy is psychically gifted, and Orrin Thatcher from the "Voodoo Doll" episode is a real serial-killer/magic-user using death and blood to raise power. The tale crosses into DarkFic territory, but keeps the sense of humor prevalent in the show and stays mostly in the show's continuity.
- The fanfic What if Jim Accepted the Job at Corporate? takes place at the end of season 3 and asks what if Jim had taken the job at corporate.
- The Odyssey, an Exalted fanfic. It's notable for both its quality and the fact that the point of divergence has not yet become apparent. Something happened to the Fivescore Fellowship, though.).
- The Warhammer40000 universe, courtesy of the Bolter and Chainsword forum, has a variation of the canon universes Horus Heresy entitled The Dornian Heresy. Essentially it explores the setting replacing the main antagonist with the titular brother - Rogal Dorn. Still a work in progress.
- Also of note is a seperate attempt, from the same forum, to replace the main antagonist of the Horus Heresy with another of his brothers - Roboute Guilliman.
- One troper is working on a Valkyria Chronicles / Real Life double AU, called Battlefield Gallia. It's still early in the war (November 1940, Operation Sea Lion), but World War II as we know it will take place in some shape, albeit in really mutated form. As of yet, Gallia mostly resembles Poland, and we all know who won there.
- Renegade is a crossover fic that explores how differently the Mass Effect universe would be if elements of the Command & Conquer Tiberium universe were worked into the continuity, notably being that GDI replaces the Systems Alliance and has enough military prowess to remain independent of the Citadel.
- Harbinger, by the same author, fuses the Mass Effect setting with FEAR, hinting at the ramifications of a Franchise/Mass Effect setting where organics begin manifesting a wide range of Psychic Powers and sanity is an optional part of such abilities.
- A Complete Turnabout, an Ace Attorney fanfiction, takes place in an Alternate Universe where the DL-6 incident never happened, with the twist that the main character is Canon!Phoenix, trusted into Alternate!Phoenix' life for reasons yet to be revealed.
- Devil May Cry's Dante being Nero's father in "Like Father, Like Son" (Which, hell, might even be canon, but the generally accepted theory is Vergil). Sink or Swim Fatherhood hijinks ensue.
- A very different Contextual Reassignment Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic is found in Prison Island Break The entire story not only takes place in a high-security prison, but almost all of the characters (from a wide range of Sonic continuities) are convicted criminals. Their goal to escape prison is neither noble nor heroic since there is no doubt that they are guilty, and most of them are unrepentant. Despite this, the story is popular for keeping all of them in-character, and even their very different criminal backstories still seem to suit their original characters.
- Coffee, Black is a Dragon Age II fanfic which takes place in modern America. It is written through Garrett Hawke's point of view, while he works in a coffee shop and is practically hypnotized by a mysterious tattoo covered hipster named Fen. It can be read here. (Warning: as it was originally inspired by a prompt from a Kink Meme, it gets VERY steamy later on.)
- Always Having Juice is an Alternate Universe Fic for Sonic the Hedgehog, with every single character given a design overhaul, the world being a strange recipe of every other iteration of the Sonic Canon you can think of off the top of your head, all put through the lens of one troper.
- Renegade Reinterpretations is set in a Mass Effect universe where the Batarians found humanity first and the latter didn't have the lightning-fast tech advancement of canon. The result is a much less nice humanity.
- The majority of Touhou fanfic falls into this category due to the lack of information from ZUN on just how Gensokyo works. Even fics that apparently take into account all the details released at the time of their writing tend to be Jossed by new canon and deuterocanon. This may be about to change due to the increasing attention given to world building in official material, but then again ZUN has contradicted himself and retconned certain things on more than one occasion.
- Uplifted is set in a universe where a desperate Quarian fleet decided to uplift humanity circa 1942 in order to utilize them as foot soldiers and retake Rannoch. However, contrary to what most people would expect, they choose to ally themselves with the fascists. The choice is logical given what the Quarians intentions for humanity. The epilogue strongly implies the war results in a stalemate. The author is planning a trilogy. A fair warning though: the main characters are Nazis, and the author has no problem displaying their attitudes. Unique in that it avoids depicting all Nazis as evil mass murderers, but makes clear how reprehensible the regime is, as the Quarians slowly realize just who their allies are. The author certainly doesn't downplay how reprehensible the Quarians find their erstwhile allies actions.
- Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has several well-loved and widely played with A Us:
- Dead Of Night is a swapped 'verse, with zombie!Hanna, Unzombie, vampire!Worth, human!Conrad, and so on. Pairings are Conrad/Worth and platonic Hanna/Unzombie. Has coverart, Chapter illustration, and assorted other comics and art.
- The Punk AU has... well, a brash and outlandishly dressed Hanna, with Unzombie as a police officer he ends up working with. sometimes slash, sometimes pre-slash or friendship.:
- This is the journal post that started it.
- Here is a collection of Punk AU fanfic.
- Then there's the obligatory post-apocalyptic dystopian AU, Lightwaves.
- There's fics that switch the blood colors of the trolls and the guardians of the children, like Red Dead Virgo (which is popular enough to get its own fanworks) and Dont Name It.
- There's fics that take the trolls' hemospectrum, flip it on its head, and extrapolate from there, like Be The Seadweller Lowblood and Hemostuck.
- Guidestuck switches the roles pets/inanimate objects (Quinn, Jaspers, Cal, Becquerel, Liv Tyler, etc.) and lusii with the humans (John, Rose, Dave, Jade, and their guardians) and trolls, respectively.
- There are also alternate settings, such as:
- ''Unwanted Free Ugly Troll, where trolls are tiny mammalian critters kept as pets, except when they're, well... ugly and unwanted.
- Troll Cops, an AU wherein the characters are all police/criminals/superheroes/etc).
- An, Ann and Anny is an Ed Edd N Eddy AU fic where every member of the original cast is of the opposite sex. It was created by the author of Ed, Edd n Eddy Highschool, who has also created several other Alternate Universes, like for instance, one where every character of the original cast (except Rolf) is an alien.
- AKK's "Raumjager" for Galaxy Rangers uses a timeline where Nazi Germany not only won, but has gone on to conquer the galaxy, and the normally persecuted Shane is now considered a paragon of the ubermenchen ideal...scarier when you remember that the writer is German herself. She also wrote "If Only," where Niko wishes the tragedy that brought the Rangers together never happened.
- A:TLAR is a full-on AU reboot of the Avatar The Last Airbender storyline.
- Pirates Versus Privates takes almost every Disney canon there is and smashes them together, though it focuses the most on the Sensational Six.
- The Avatar The Last Airbender fanfiction Embers by Vathara. Starting initially as a smaller one shot, it deals with what could have happened had Zuko and his Uncle had just slightly differing thoughts after the Siege of the Northpole, with an astounding amount of cultural and historical research put into this retelling.
- For Teen Titans, "Northern Star" and "Apprentice" are two examples of the Apprentice AU theme that is popular amongst TT fanfiction - the idea of "What if Robin had stayed as Slade's apprentice?"
- For The Simpsons there is The Thompsons which has the idea of "What if Homer and Marge were not the parents of Bart, Lisa and Maggie?"
- The Lunaverse is a Shared Universe of MLP:FiM fanfics, where Princess Celestia became evil instead of Luna, with a new set of main characters based on background and side characters while the original main cast is flipped into minor roles.
- Burning Black's entire premise rests on the idea that, six weeks after School's Out: The Musical, Timmy Turner died falling from a jungle gym at school. The stories themselves take place four years after Timmy's death in a heavily affected Dimmsdale.
- Queen Of All Oni is a Jackie Chan Adventures story that diverges at the beginning of Season 4, with the premise that instead of releasing Tarakudo, Daolon Wong's attempt to summon the Shadowkhan instead reawakens Jade's Superpowered Evil Side, the Queen of the Shadowkhan.
- Jewel Of Darkness, by the same author, is a Teen Titans fic that is built on the premise that Raven was banished from Azarath when her powers first awakened as child, rather than later in her life. She is then found on the streets by Slade, who raises her as his child and apprentice.
- The Dashverse is based on the simple premise that rather than being in Canterlot on the day that the Mane Six got their cutie marks, Princess Celestia was instead in Cloudsdale, and ended up taking on Rainbow Dash as her student instead of Twilight Sparkle.
- Nights Favored Child diverges from canon during the battle between Celestia and Nightmare Moon a thousand years ago. In this fic's universe, Nightmare Moon won, brought about eternal night (and found a way to avert the negative aspects of it), erased Celestia from the history books, and turned Equestria into her personal empire.
- The Powers Of Harmony is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic story that borders on being an outright Alternate Continuity — aside from the Mane Cast having met and befriended Zecora, everything after the series pilot is ignored in favor of the story's timeline and take on events. That said, elements of canon (characters, backstories, events) are incorporated or alluded to when necessary.
- Life In Manehattan is another MLP AU fic. This one diverges from canon when the Elements of Harmony are discovered some time before the pilot by Honey Do aka Daring Do and moved to a museum in Manehattan. Because of that, Celestia chooses that city for the Summer Sun Celebration, and it is there that Twilight goes and befriends different ponies to be the bearers of the Elements.
- Chains is an MLP AU that actually plays very similar to the MLP canon, but with one major twist that the fanfic has centered around; humans exist and were made a Slave Race by the Equestrians.
- The Legend Of Total Drama Island is a reimagining of Total Drama's first season, so perforce none of the show's canon events are directly acknowledged.
- The Star Trek vs Star Wars fic Star Crossed is also a Star Wars Alternate Universe fic, positing a timeline where Luke Skywalker surrenders to Vader at Bespin and becomes the Sith Lord Darth Nemesis.