A professionally-published story that evolved from Fan Fic. This can overlap with Serial Numbers Filed Off, but it is by no means necessary. The setting of the new work will often be suspiciously similar to the source material for obvious reasons, but the plots of the two stories can come out very different indeed. On occasion, a fanfic becomes its own legitimate franchise without bothering to cut all its ties to the original, complete with its own fanbase outside fans of the original, with the blessing of the original work's copyright owners. In some cases, some fans may not even realize that it was a derivative work. In other media, this can applied to video games that originated as unofficial fan games or Game Mods. Compare the "Weird Al" Effect, where fans of a derivative work forget the original existed. Also compare Spiritual Licensee, where a work didn't start as a fanfic but the end result is pretty much the same as this. See also Humble Beginnings, of which this can be considered a subtrope. Contrast Ascended Meme and Ascended Fanon, where derivative material is later incorporated into the canon material, and the similar Running the Asylum, where fans gradually take control of the original franchise as time goes on and start publishing official material that looks like fan fiction. See also Serial Numbers Filed Off and Captain Ersatz.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Young Adult author Cassandra Clare started off as a fanfic author and later used lines from her own fanfics in her original work. On an unrelated note, some readers have noted that some of the phrasing in her works shows close similarity to past works by Pamela Dean.
- Doctor Who and Doctor Who Expanded Universe examples:
- The fourth Doctor Who New Adventures novel, Timewyrm: Revelation, with the Seventh Doctor and Ace, came out of a Fifth Doctor and Tegan fanfic published in a fanzine. Paul Cornell expanded and changed quite a bit and made it into his first novel.
- The Highest Science, an early NA by Gareth Roberts originated as a crude fan story. It turned into his first novel. This, in turn, formed the loose basis for the television story "Planet of the Dead", which he cowrote with Russell T Davies.
- The Left-Handed Hummingbird by Kate Orman began as a fan fiction for the Australian fanzine Pirate Planet.
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency started out as a Doctor Who script, but was fitted with a cast of Expy characters (who were changed enough that they were compelling in their own right) and the plot was altered very drastically. Similarly, Life The Universe And Everything started out as a rejected script for a Doctor Who movie, and was again drastically rewritten (interestingly enough, removing the "Doctor" figure and his actions almost entirely without breaking the plot).
- The Vorkosigan Saga, was at a very early conceptual stage Star Trek fanfiction; Beta Colony and Barrayar are reminiscent of the Federation and the Klingon Empire, respectively. Of course, it diverged away and became its own universe almost immediately.
- "Negri's Boys" by Charles Coleman Finlay, which was originally fanfic of Bujold's work, was rewritten with the serial numbers filed off as "The Political Officer". It was published in The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction and nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Award.
- Similarly, this is Naomi Novik's origin story for the Temeraire series:
"...it was started on January 8, 2004, about ten days before I sat down to write a different fantasy AU story and suddenly went, you know what, this isn't so much Fan Fic anymore, and these aren't Jack and Stephen, ("this is not my beautiful house") and off I went to frolic with dragons."
- Harry Turtledove's Videssos cycle began as Fourth Age The Lord of the Rings fanfic.
- Fifty Shades of Grey used to be a Twilight non-supernatural-AU fanfic named Master of the Universe. (Not in any way related to He-Man.) Similar examples of "pulled to publish" fanfics plague the Twilight fandom: here is the list.
- Devil's Brand, Casea's Major's thinly-veiled work of Fifty Shades fanfic, making it an ascended fanfic of an ascended fanfic!
- Dennis L. McKiernan's Mithgar novels (The Iron Tower, The Silver Call, Hel's Crucible) started off as The Lord of the Rings fanfic. Doomsday wanted to publish. Tolkien Estate said "no". Changing the names and filing the numbers off for the "Silver Call" duology required inventing a new backstory of a great war against evil to replace The Lord Of The Rings, and thus the Iron Tower trilogy came about. The rest of the series grew more divergent from there, but the Moria-analogue in those first books is unmistakable.
- Star Trek: The Original Series examples:
- Some (most?) of the Star Trek: The New Voyages anthologies came from stories originally published in fanzines.
- The 1983 tie-in novel Killing Time by Della Van Hise was and still is thought to be originated as Slash Fic about Kirk and Spock. The truth is, according to author Della Van Hise, the original printing was from a non-proofed, and therefore "not approved by Paramount" manuscript accidentally sent to the printer. Paramount discovered this and ordered the first printing run pulpednote . An edited second printing came out shortly thereafter wherein most changes were minor single sentence or word changes designed to reduce the subtext. But this led to unstoppable rumors that an original, explicitly K/S, version of Killing Time exists. The author says, "There is no such manuscript."
- The Original Series novel Ishmael is a crossover between Trek and the Western TV show Here Come The Brides (1968-1970). (Inspired entirely by the fact that Mark Lenard appeared in both.) Allegedly, it was originally a fanfic, and a friend of the author sent it to Pocket Books without her knowledge. When they agreed to publish it, the author quickly had to explain to them that they were going to need to get the rights from this old TV show...
- Divine Blood Novels was originally a Mega Cross Over fanfic of several anime (most notably Ranma ½, Full Metal Panic!, and Ah! My Goddess) which eventually developed enough mythos and themes of its own that the author decided to file off the serial numbers on the characters and make it into its own novel.
- Many lesbian romantic novels of the early 2000s started off as Xena: Warrior Princess Xena/Gabrielle Transplanted Character Fics, known in the Xena fandom as "uber" fics. Tall, dark-haired, bitter woman meets sweet, good-natured blonde, and romance ensues? It just might be an uber.
- There's also a few uber-Glee lesbian novels starring the equivalents of Quinn and Rachel ("Faberry").
- Captive of the Red Vixen started out as an AU fanfic of the webcomic Terinu where Melika (renamed Melanie Lovejoy in the final draft) became a pirate.
- Spectral Shadows started out actually as a sequel fanfic to Bambi, but when Disney was able to still hold onto the rights of the book and characters ended up crafting their own story out of what they had at that point.
- After by Anna Todd started out as a One Direction fanfiction about an OC falling in love with band member Harry Styles.
Mythology and Religion
- Lancelot of the Arthurian legends came by way of French storytellers. Percival was an OC. It could even be said that the entire Arthurian Canon is, in its own way, fanfiction.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Aeneid, widely hailed as the first work of literature ever and the model for much that came after, was basically a Perspective Flip fanfic continuation of The Iliad.
- Dungeons & Dragons is something of a strange case. The game borrowed heavily from J. R. R. Tolkien (and a few other fantasies, such as Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series), as well as various more obscure mythologies, but had many unique elements as well. The franchise owners have ended up splitting the game rules into "trademarked material" and "open source material", and encourage others to develop derivative material based on the open source components. In addition, the owners have also licensed derivative settings that have gone on to become book or video game series enjoyed by readers who aren't necessarily fans of the pencil and paper game, including Dragon Lance, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Planescape, Ravenloft and Spelljammer.
- The Elder Scrolls setting was originally a home-brew Dungeons and Dragons module.
- Ditto for Malazan Book of the Fallen, which originated as the two creators' home-brew setting.
- Rhapsody of Fire based epic storylines of their songs on their D&D campaign.
- Forgotten Realms were born as a setting before voluntarily going under Dungeons & Dragons, though fleshed out mostly after. Whether basic (Greyhawk) rules were more of inspiration or problem is up to Ed Greenwood — he both constantly kicked them aside and used new edition change for the "Time Of Troubles" overhaul.
- The Elder Scrolls setting was originally a home-brew Dungeons and Dragons module.
- Renegade Legion was originally set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
- After the Bomb was originally created for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 'verse.
- The International Super Teams setting for GURPS had its genesis in an unused timeline and history written for a Villains And Vigilantes campaign in which the author was a player.
- Warhammer 40,000
- Castus Grendel, the low-level acolyte who tried to delay for one round a daemon that can eat Space Marine for breakfast and ended up decapitating it in one hit with a simple knife (and then dodging the fountain of its blood clean), purely on a blessing of Random Number God... Heresy!.. God Emperor. Then this hilarity continued to absurd degree and beyond. Started as an amusing session report, ended up mentioned in canon material (the last link in that article).
- One of the most prominent examples in all of video gaming: Ms. Pac-Man was originally an unofficial Game Mod of Pac-Man named "Crazy Otto", which was picked up by Midway and converted into an out-and-out sequel. Although this was originally done without Namco's consent, the character and others inspired by her would later appear in various offical Pac-Man media.
- Save for the Half-Life series, all Valve Software works were developed from fan mods:
- Team Fortress Classic is an official sequel to a Quake mod, which was ported to Half-Life's engine. As is Team Fortress 2, by extent.
- Counter-Strike? It was a Half-Life mod. So was Day of Defeat.
- And Left 4 Dead was originally inspired by a zombie mod for Counter-Strike.
- Portal is a spiritual successor to a student's project Narbacular Drop, and the gel mechanic in Portal 2 was developed from Tag: The Power of Paint (Valve hired the entire programming team of the latter).
- Alien Swarm and Dota 2 also count, having originally been mods for Unreal Tournament 2004 and Warcraft III respectively.
- Similarly, Unreal Tournament III has the Greed mode from the Titan Pack, (or UT3 Black, depending where you obtained the game) which started as a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004. His creator, Mystikal, is now working for Epic Games.
- The Translocator in UT2003 and later has a remote camera within the transport-destination disk. This idea was taken from "Translocam", a mod that added this functionality to the classic Translocator.
- Hours before the Doom modification WAD "Evilution" was set to be released, the creators, Team TNT, were emailed by John Romero offering a publishing deal. It ended up as half of Final Doom. This decision, however, resulted in a Broken Base: many players were thrilled to see a fan production become canon, while others accused Team TNT for "selling out" their fans.
- One of the most common types of mods created for Doom 3 was the kind which removed the necessity to put away your gun when you wanted to use the flashlight. For the BFG Edition, id made the flashlight a part of the player's armor.
- Red Orchestra, Killing Floor and Alien Swarm were all originally mods for Unreal Tournament 2004. The developers of the first founded Tripwire Interactive, who also published the second. The developers of the third were hired by Valve and eventually ported it to the Source engine.
- Killing Floor also tends to make some well-made custom maps official through patches.
- Tower Defense began as mods for StarCraft and Warcraft III but later became a standalone genre.
- Fall from Heaven: Age of Ice was included in "Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword."
- Trouble In Terrorist Town started as a simple game mode for Garry's Mod, but it went on to win the Fretta contest (a contest to see who could win the best gamemode using the new gamemode framework, called Fretta) and grew in popularity so much it now comes with the game.
- The "Fudge Pack" and "10th Anniversary" releases of Postal 1 and 2 include the Eternal Damnation and A Week in Paradise mods for the second game.
- Tempest Tubes was a popular unofficial hack of Tempest that Atari ended up distributing officially.
- Dragon Quest I was a VERY thinly-veiled d20 game in the style of Dungeons & Dragons.
- Final Fantasy I was also heavily inspired by D&D, to the point that they had to edit a few monsters because of copyrights (the Eye◊ was originally a Beholder◊). FFI and Final Fantasy III also used a spell system with "levels" of spells based on D&D's caster classes, but sequels (and later remakes) changed this to Magic Points.
- Street Fighter X Mega Man was a Mega Man (Classic) fan game that eventually became officially endorsed by Capcom themselves.
- One of the most popular types of mods for multiplayer first-person shooters is "zombie mode". For Call of Duty: World at War, Treyarch decided to skip a step and just implement a zombie mode from the get-go - hence Nazi Zombies.
- Escape Velocity Override began as a total conversion to Escape Velocity (that's actually where there name comes from: the mod developer called it Override since it would override the old game datanote , and the name stuck) before the developers of the original adopted it, updated the engine and published it. The same happened for Escape Velocity Nova, which started as an Override TC.
- The Steam release of 7.62 High Calibre includes the Blue Sun Mod, which can be actived at will through a specific option in the Steam launcher.
- Mount & Blade: Warband DLC Viking Conquest is basically the mod Brytenwalda converted as an official campaign by Brytenwalda creators.
- The Stanley Parable was originally released as a Half-Life 2 mod with most graphical assets reused from that game, then re-released commercially with original graphics.
- Drowtales was originally a Forgotten Realms fanfic.
- DMFA was originally set in the Furcadia online chat-game-social-roleplaying...thing. So that would technically make it a fanfic. Early strips have a lot of reference to Roleplaying-terms, internet fads, ect.
- Freighter Tails was originally called "Haul Trek", but the authors remade it, removing all the Star Trek elements in the process.
- Whatever it might have become, it's fairly obvious from the first strip that Looking for Group was originally a World of Warcraft comic. Things went full circle when the backers suggested a video game was made.
- Awkward Zombie had a strip about turning itself into an Ascended Fanfic, but it turned out to be onetime gag and the series went back to using Smash Bros. characters.
- The author pulls strip ideas from the forums pretty frequently, and even has a thread for the purpose.
- Arthur, King of Time and Space is based on King Arthur In Time And Space, which in turn was based on Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover fanfic cartoons with the proper names search-and-replaced (Arthur, Lancelot and Guenevere replacing Kirk, Spock and McCoy; Merlin and Nimue subbing for the Doctor and various companions).
- In October 2012, a fan of Atop the Fourth Wall created a backstory for Longbox of the Damned's Moarte on Tumblr, where he was a famous magician that killed his rival to obtain the titular box. Lewis saw this post and liked this so much that he's considering making this the official origin of Moarte.
- Chakona Space started out as a Star Trek fanfic. It has retained most of the technology and the Caitian race but almost everything else is original by now.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the largest and longest-running game of its kind, started out as seven people trading what was essentially Justice League fan fiction. Then they decided to try their hands at original characters, and the rest was history.
- The Gender Flip "Fionna and Cake" episodes of Adventure Time were based on What If? comics created by the show's character designer, which were in turn based on the Rule 63 images on 4chan.
- The notorious My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic hatefic My Little Unicorn is going to be published but not by the original author!
- A 26th season Simpsons episode is based on a fan script written by Judd Apatow. The plot is about Homer being hypnotized into acting like a ten-year-old.
- The character of Newtralizer in the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came from Executive Producer Ciro Nieli's elementary school drawings.