Fan Wank
The eternal temptation...

"These two methods clearly do not agree with one another, which means one of two things: either I'm terribly over-analyzing the content of the illustrations of a beloved children's book, or the bunny's bedroom is moving at extremely high velocity relative to the Earth, so that relativistic time dilation makes the six-minute rise of the moon appear to take an hour and ten minutes. Calculating the necessary velocity is left as an exercise for the interested reader."note 

The other reason you should use protection when reading Fanfic.

Fanfic comes in many varieties, but many stories fall into the major categories of "more of the Same" (also called "Original Flavour"), which attempts to tell a new story using the setup and style of its source material, and "Mythos Building", which tries to cement the writer's personal theories into the pseudocanon of the source (and usually getting a Sue laid in the process). The latter tend to be more memorable, but at a price.

Many of the fan theories which make their way into Fanfic seek to "fix" something the writer believes to be wrong with the source. The fans usually put a lot more thought into this than the show's writers ever did (though show writers have gotten a lot more attentive in recent years, primarily because of the growth of this kind of fan activity). They often come up with answers to questions that either make not a whit of difference in the end, or are more fun without an answer than with.

Naturally, these theories often venture way out into fantasyland. When the theory makes you say, "Oh come on!", the fanfic author has stepped over the line into Fan Wank.

When the show itself canonizes such a theory, it's a Retcon or a Re Vision or one of the two varieties of Continuity Porn. When a fan does, it's Fan Wank. Note, however, that Retcon is a value-neutral word, while fan wank definitely carries a connotation of crap. On the other hand, theories that get popular can become fanon, and when the show canonizes that theory, it's Ascended Fanon.

The etymology of "wank" shows that it means "indulgence", particularly any kind of major self-indulgence. Not surprisingly, this leads to it being British slang for masturbation, though it's mostly just their own egos that such writers are stroking. Mostly. The term was coined by Doctor Who fan and Doctor Who Expanded Universe writer Craig Hinton, who was no stranger to it himself, and applied it to his own work.

Particular common triggers for fan wank include:

Compare with Epileptic Trees, Continuity Porn (the canon variety of this), and of course, the TV Tropes Wild Mass Guessing. Shrug of God and (even more so) Ascended Fanon will, at least in theory, validate Fan Wank theories.

Tropes Are Not Bad, however; if nothing else, Fan Wank can be immensely enjoyable, particularly if it's coupled with a self-awareness about how ludicrously over-the-top and ultimately futile it is.

See also Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, an entire trope driven by Fan Wank. Not to be confused with the other use of "wank" in many fandom circles, which refers to wankerish fannish behaviour of various kinds, such as pretentiousness, Broken Base feuding, and general Fan Dumb. Also not to be confused with wanking the fans, which is described in Pandering to the Base.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass gets a lot of it even ignoring the shipping and endless debates about Character Alignment.
  • Pokémon:
    • What gender the main character's Pokémon are in the anime.
    • How old starting Pokémon trainers should be.
    • Pokémon Generations Episode 6: The Reawakening opened a can of fan wank debate when it showed the silhouettes of the Legendary Beasts before they were turned into Legendary Beasts. They don't fully match any existing Pokémon, instead looking and sounding more like normal dogs. Some took this to mean they were some sort of not yet revealed Pokémon, others think they are just meant to be generic placeholder "beast/dog" silhouettes that we all are paying more attention to than what the animators meant for us to, and yet others think they were Houndour (which raises another fan wanking sparking question if true; why are Fire Types dying in a fire?). All except for a few of the "paying too much attention to silhouettes" people took this as proof that the Legendary Beasts were always intended to be canine Pokémon, not feline Pokémon, mostly putting to rest something the fandom has debated endlessly for years.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • It is notorious among the fans for having an open ending. This leads shippers to writing piles upon piles of fanfiction hooking up the main characters with each other, especially Ranma with someone who isn't Akane Tendō, despite Ranma×Akane being the series' Official Couple. The Ship-to-Ship Combat that developed between various factions was bloody — in fact, this very entry was changed to stop a Flame War from starting.
    • The exact laws and origins of the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyō — how much water is needed, what the exact temperature is, how much of your body has to be splashed, what sort of liquids would qualify, why drinking doesn't trigger it, whether the original victim drowned to death or was merely submerged (thanks to an early translation error and the Guide's insistence that the stories are all "tragic"), whether the springs confer any aspect of the original creature's personality, and whether the curses are age-specific.
    • Another common fan wank on the Jusenkyō Curses is adding the secondary effect of actively attempting to induce the transformation rather than simply making it possible. Typically by making the victim a water magnet and invoking Contrived Coincidence to wet the victim if they haven't changed for too long. This idea is often used either (or both) to avoid Rule of Funny explanation of where the convenient buckets/thrown water comes from in more deconstructive works, or to explain why Ranma gaining partial control over his curse doesn't simply turn into an effective cure due to the canonical Aversion of the Second Law of Gender Bending: even if the water trigger of his curse is removed, and replaced with a voluntary mental triggering or other far more controllable trigger, the curse still forces Ranma to spend some time in his cursed form.
    • A gag scene in the Herb saga led to one of Ranma ½'s most enduring fan wanks. In the story, Herb mentions he hates female Ranma because she resembles a monkey he threw into the Spring of Drowned Girl — a monkey, who in turn caused him to be cursed. As a result, the idea spread that anyone who falls into the Spring of Drowned Girl ends up looking like the original girl who drowned there. The creation of the Spring of Drowned Akane, introduced into the manga long after this piece of fan wank was created, just made matters even worse.
    • Psychological diagnoses of the cast's various mental issues, often interpreting them as actual illnesses or neuroses.
    • And the biggest Fan Wank of all: whether Ranma could get pregnant. Often followed up by what would happen if a pregnant Ranma turned back into a man. Word of God says "I don't want to think about that and neither should you."
    • Some fans wonder if maybe Happōsai deliberately drank the Nanniichuan water that was supposed to be Ranma's cure in the final manga chapters, as it's a bit hard to mistake spring water for sake on first taste and Happōsai is both extremely selfish and fixated on Ranma's sexy female body.
    • Ki Attacks get a lot of this. Everything which isn't explained in-universe tends to be attributed to Ki manipulation. Mousse having a Hyperspace Arsenal up his sleeves? He's using Ki to compress space. The Happo Fire Burst explosives? Conjured from Ki. Akane's "signature" Hyperspace Mallet (which she doesn't even use that often)? Obviously a Ki construct. Kuno's implausible use of his Bokken? Clearly, it's reinforced with his Ki! This probably in part comes retroactively from Naruto, as such Hand-Waving is canon in Naruto; everything out of the ordinary is done with Chakra.
  • Sailor Moon fanwank has an Epileptic Trees theory which suggests that Sailor Pluto is deliberately engineering a timeline where 95% of the Earth's population is killed off in a thousand-year glaciation period in order to produce Crystal Tokyo. At no point does the anime ever say anything along the lines of 95% of the population dying in a disaster. The anime notes that Usagi awoke a frozen world from slumber in the 30th century and ascended, whereas in the manga, there was no disaster at all and the utopia evolved naturally. So the entire theory is Fan Wank piled upon Fan Wank.
    • Sailors Uranus and Neptune are lesbian lovers. Fans more familiar with the censored English dub are often uncomfortable with this and have produced multiple stories that usually involve Uranus becoming a man or being a man in a former life and getting this "corrected", usually by magic. This was not helped by the bizarre Save Our Sailors website promoting the idea of a male "Prince of Uranus" being accidentally reincarnated as a female Sailor Uranus as canon. In their eyes, that removed the homosexuality of the pair.
  • The so-called Turn A Bang theory from the Gundamverse. After a scene in Turn A Gundam depicting a period of history that was made up of clips from various other Gundam shows—shows that were originally toted as alternate universes—fans began trying to construct a timeline that would justify having all the shows in a single universe. This only gets worse as time goes on and new shows add more timelines to the mix.
    • The wank only intensified when a piece of official merchandisenote  stated that even universes which were introduced after Turn A game out, like Cosmic Era and Advanced Generation, are part of the timeline; the sole exception is Gundam Build Fighters, which takes place in a world where Gundam is fictional.
  • Naruto fanfiction is very nearly the most written anime fanfiction on ffnet, mostly due to what Kishimoto decided to wait to reveal: the name of the Fourth... Fans thought his name was "Arashi ___" with the common idea being "Arashi Uzumaki" because everyone thought he was Naruto's father. In truth, his name is Minato Namikaze, his actual situation (reincarnated as Naruto after sealing the Kyuubi in himself?), village laws (the idea of "Clan Restoration Act" for a dying clan), the concept of a council (sometimes split into a Shinobi Council and a Civilian Council), shipping of characters, Naruto's mother, bloodlines, members of Akatsuki, and even now, there is plenty to speculate about, like whether or not Madara is actually immortal.
  • Never has an anime inspired more Fan Wank and Epileptic Trees than Neon Genesis Evangelion - a practical inevitability when you consider just how weird the story is, the sheer number of things that go unexplained, and the fact that the creators keep invoking post-modernism and refuse to explain any of it! Faced with this insanity, fans have proceeded to Fan Wank all over everything, theorizing that Yui Ikari was the mastermind behind everything, that Unit-00 kept going berserk because Naoko Akagi was the soul inside it, whether or not Rei is technically related to Shinji, whether or not Rei as an Angel/Human hybrid can have children, that Misato was the one who shot Kaji (though that is one of the rare examples of a fan theory that Anno himself has outright Jossed), and that only children can sync with the Eva because it's fueled by teenage angst to name just a few.
  • In the Sgt. Frog Western fandom, there is a lot of debates of whether or not the alien frogs, known as kerons, can have hair or not, some fans going as far as to saying their all wigs and or cannot have hair because they are 'frogs' and label any keron with hair, as a Mary sue. This originally started on DeviantArt and then Tumblr, on a fandom confession blog which has since been deleted.
    • Which is taken to extreme amounts of stupid given the sheer number of characters with facial hair, and head hair that have appeared in both show and manga, but these fans will not accept it unless they are seen brushing, washing, or any other kind of hair care treatment.
      • Which gets even more stupid, when in one episode, Keroro ends up with a mutant mole hair on his forehead that grows to a extreme length.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san obliquely references the concept in one of the Nyaruani shorts: In a Fourth-Wall Mail Slot segment, a reader asks for an explanation for why the order of Mahiro and Nyarko's classes is different between the novel series and a short story. Nyarko's response is to angrily tear the letter into confetti.

    Comic Books 
  • Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain of the Batman family being either in Hong Kong or at various beach resorts and probably on a variety of recreational drugs, following the New 52 reboot. Neither have been acknowledged on panel as existing.
    • Stephanie Brown is coming back in the weekly comic, Batman Eternal. Cassandra is still MIA, but due to some changes made to the canon, would have to have some radical changes made to her backstorynote .
  • V from V for Vendetta's gender. It's pure fan wank in both the graphic novel and film that V, a person consistently referred to in both the novel and movie as "he" and "the man from room five" is Valerie, a female character we only see in flashback, presumably after some serious surgery.
  • Don't you get us started on Disney comics' continuities. Between the Barks continuity, Don Rosa continuity, American 70's continuity, Dutch continuity and Italian continuity, it's a godawful mess of Continuity Snarls that fans are desperately trying to resolve. Among the more pressing issues:
    • There literally hundreds of different stories where the same characters initially don't believe in Santa Claus, before being proven wrong when Santa saves the day.
    • The same goes for various other mythical stuffs like aliens, and various apparently mutually-exclusive explanations for Atlantis and Stonehenge have been formulated, with courageous attempts to try and make them fit together.
    • The Duck family tree. Oooh, the Duck family tree, so much. Since creators couldn't keep up with the thousands of other stories their colleagues had been writing, Donald ends up with a few hundred first cousins and paternal uncles, and a dozen different characters claim to be Scrooge Mc Duck's paternal grandfather.
  • When a mini-series pitted roughly-analogous Marvel and DC characters against each other with the winners determined by fan vote, Wolverine unsurprisingly got more votes than Lobo. Since even comic book artists don't have enough imagination to figure out how Wolverine could actually beat someone who's fought Superman to a standstill (and this was back when Wolverine just healed pretty fast, and wasn't functionally immortal ... but Lobo was) the fight took place entirely offscreen, which lead to a common fan explanation that Wolverine bribed Lobo to take a dive.
    • Later made canon in an issue of Lobo. Except it was implied that Professor X paid Lobo to take the dive as to spare Wolverine's ego and reputation.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The ending of Inception was intended to be an open ending, with the viewer left to decide if it was a dream or real. This has not stopped fans from finding "evidence" that suggests the director intended it to be one or the other.
  • Due to its rather simplistic storyline, Enchanted fans have been left with the task of interpreting several plot threads left at the end, including the rhyme and reason behind Edward and Nancy's last-minute hookup and how someone as naive as Giselle would react when she learns about sex.
  • In-universe fans of Galaxy Quest have constructed a whole map of the ship and worked out explanations for everything on it — which pays off when the actors need that kind of knowledge aboard the real ship. Which is some subtle Fridge Brilliance as the Aliens who built the ship must have done the same thing from watching the same "Historical Documents".
  • Events in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The plot is so impenetrable that it has actually spawned a cottage industry of books seeking to explain it. The content of these books ranges from cutting-edge philosophy to some nonsense about space lizards, suggesting that Lovecraftian madness awaits any mortal who should happen to solve the mystery.
  • The Star Wars franchise is rife with fan explanations and justifications. For example, the Kessel Run being made in a unit of distance:
    • The Kessel Run involves ferrying goods between two ships moving away from each other. The faster a ship, the less distance it has to travel to catch up.
    • The Kessel Run involves navigating through or around a dangerous asteroid field. Less maneuverable ships have to take a long, circuitous route around the most dangerous areas; better ships can take a shorter path right through the dangerous middle.
    • Han was testing Luke and Ben, to see if they would correct him, thus proving they knew a thing or two about space travel. Luke didn't catch the mistake, and Ben was fine with Han thinking they were both rubes. The last revision of the original script (previous versions didn't notice the problem) had Han making inaccurate boasts and "Ben reacts to Solo's stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation."
      • The official story as set down in the Han Solo Trilogy is that the Kessel run is dangerously close to a black hole and the closer you're able to fly to the black hole the shorter the distance and the faster the run. This was a major Fan Wank before it was retconned into the actual story.
      • This was later retconned in the novelization of the film credited to George Lucas (although written by Alan Dean Foster), where Han states that the ship made the run in less than 12 "standard time units".
    • Luke uses the Force to choke a Gammorean in Return of the Jedi ... but isn't that using the Dark Side of the Force? Not if he only used the Jedi Mind Trick to make the Gammorean think he was choking! Or maybe it's only considered truly dark if you use the Force choke with intent to kill someone, as opposed to just staggering them. Or, even simpler, that the Force Choke is not a specified "power" tied to one's alignment like Force Lightning, but rather merely using the Force's telekinetic abilities to pinch a victim's airway closed, and Dark Side practitioners are fond of it because it's an easy and psychologically effective way to threaten or harm someone.
    • All Force users have high Midichlorian counts!? They have to have meant to say that Midichlorians are attracted to high concentrations of the Force; they're a result of Force use, not the cause, right? RIGHT!?
      • Alternately, the ability to use the Force could be the result of a genetic kink, and Midichlorians are proteins produced as a by-product. This may be a case of Artistic License - Biology, but it's a better explanation than the one in the prequel trilogy, right? And as a bonus, it explains why Force-sensitivity can be inherited and why there aren't all that many Jedi even at the height of the Old Republic.
      • Or there is a third way to view it: In the same way that some micro-organisms can only live in especially clean environments, medichlorians can only live in a being with a connection to the Force. The greater the being's Force potential, the more medichlorians can live in within it, hence using medichlorian count as a gauge of strength in the Force.
    • The Jedi thought "bringing balance to the Force" was a good thing, but it actually meant that Anakin would kill all but two Jedi, so there'd be the same number of Jedi as Sith (never mind that Word of God says "bringing balance to the Force" meant destroying the Sith, and Anakin just did it much later than the Jedi expected).
      • There are also some interpretations suggesting that what originally unbalanced the force was Anakin's creation; Darth Plagueis manipulated the midichlorians to create life, which wasn't supposed to happen, and so the only way the force could be 'balanced' was Anakin's death, which would by its nature defeat the Sith.
    • Why didn't Chewie get a medal at the end of A New Hope? You see, Wookiees don't believe in medals and awards. The Rebels wanted to give him one, but he refused. So instead they made a contribution to his family back on Kashyyyk.
      • However, in the comic book version continuance, Han and Luke put Leia up on a table to give Chewie a medal since it would have looked "undignified" for her to attempt it during the previous ceremony.
    • Yet another fan theory, this one started on, stated that the AT-AT was originally meant as an artillery piece to be used under heavy escort rather than the supposed juggernaut of a Military Mashup Machine it was portrayed as, but Executive Meddling ensued (think Adolf Hitler and the Me-262).
  • Enemy: There are many theories about "what it all means." Here's the take from Slate.[1].

  • Discworld fandom's big issues:
    • Havelock Vetinari's sexuality — which way does he bend? (To extrapolate from the canon that the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork is naturally self-sufficient, austere and celibate is way too boring.)
      • If Vetinari is gay, which recurring male characters would he get off with?
    • In the unlikely but rescuable situation of Vetinari being straight, which female characters would he seek to have a scene with? - averted in later books which refer to a generally rumoured past relationship with Lady Margolotta, which survives in some form to the present continuity.
    • The girls in the Monstrous Regiment's Last Detail. Gay or what? (Well, almost certainly Tonker and Lofty...) And who in this troupe of military lesbians is doing what to whom and with what implements?
    • Susan Sto Helit and Jonathan Teatime. Given time, or an alternative universe, would they have got it on?
    • On a more intellectual level, the issue of the much-mangled and twisted Discworld timeline - which was eventually explained in universe as the History Monks having to repair the timeline, twice, after some idiot human broke it into little pieces.
      • And the meta-wank thrown in that the History Monks to exist because of continuity errors that Terry Pratchett makes when he writes the books.
  • The big issue in The Lord of the Rings fandom (and quite possibly the fanwank debate to rule them all) is the question of whether or not the Balrog had wings. Other, smaller debates include whether or not Tolkien's elves have Pointed Ears and what color Legolas' hair was in the book.
    • Or the true nature of Tom Bombadil — was he a random nature spirit, or the avatar of the world? One of the Valar or Ilúvatar in disguise?
    • Why didn't the Eagles simply fly the ring to Mount Doom? Choose from corruption by the Ring, corresponding evil aerial units, Eagles are Chaotic Good and don't answer to orders, can't intervene, or it just would have forshortened the series.
      • The strongest fan explanation is based on Tolkien's statements in the book that the Fellowship's quest required secrecy: Destroying the Ring was their best hope precisely because Sauron wouldn't expect, and the best shot and accomplishing this task was to send a small party in by ways that couldn't easily be observed. By contrast, a Giant Flyer heading straight into the heart of enemy territory isn't exactly stealthy. Sauron would have realized something was up the moment his Eye caught sight of one of the Eagles speeding to Mordor. Additionally, the Ring couldn't just be dropped into the volcano, but per the text had to be thrown into the Crack of Doom itself, which is located inside a long, narrow tunnel. Between the need for stealth and just the practical needs of getting the Ring into the Fire, it was impossible for the Eagles to accomplish the task even if they were willing.
  • Ever since the first Sherlock Holmes stories were published, many learned writers have tried to figure out why Dr Watson's old war wound was in the shoulder in A Study In Scarlet and in the leg in The Sign of Four. Answers range from "He was actually shot in the buttocks and was too embarrassed to say this" to "He was shot on two separate occasions." There's an organization called The Baker Street Irregulars (it's been around since the 1930's) who devote a great deal of time and effort to filling in all the gaps and resolving all the discrepancies they can, including "Exactly where was 221B Baker Street?" "Why was Dr Watson sometimes James and sometimes John?" and "Was Holmes' dressing-gown purple or mouse-coloured?" (Some of these essays have been published in the book 17 Steps To Baker Street.)
    • Interestingly enough, the James / John discord was made fun of in Young Sherlock Holmes and the Leg/Arm discord was made fun of in the BBC's modern reboot Sherlock, in the first episode "A Study in Pink" where Watson limps as though he were shot in the leg, but the limp is in fact a psychosomatic reaction to the real wound in his shoulder.
    • Dorothy L. Sayers suggested that Watson's middle name is Hamish, a Scotch Gaelic version of James.
      • A Study in Emerald also plays around with this. The name confusion is explained by Dr. Watson having been forced to hide his true identity for some time (among other things, it would be terrible for him as a medical professional to be outed as a writer, though there is also the small matter of being a wanted assassin and terrorist), and the wound discrepancy is the result of their being one real Dr. Watson and one imposter, one of whom was wounded in the leg, and the other in the shoulder. In case you're wondering, "The Limping Doctor" is the real Watson, and the shoulder-wounded narrator is in fact Sebastian Moran..
  • Much of Star Wars EU, especially post-EII ICS, is this; thought not only technical details are wanked up — Force powers are too.
  • This trope has been around since the last days of the Roman Republic, when Stoic philosophers complained about people trying to figure out how many rowers Odysseus had rather than think about the mysteries of life and the nature of virtue.
  • One of the more common wanks in Harry Potter fandom is "how, exactly, does magical inheritance work?" Some parts of the canon can be explained by a single recessive gene, but most cannot, and a single mundane gene can't explain everything no matter how you do it.
    • Methods of Rationality is in some part "Fan Wank: the fanfic". Incidentally, the author's answer to the above question is "I just ignored canon and made it a single recessive gene"

    Live-Action TV 
  • The backstory of the main character in Doctor Who, specifically:
    • Retconning away the revelation of the Doctor's half-human lineage from the 1996 Made-for-TV Movie (which the revival series actually retconned.)note 
    • Explaining how the Doctor has a granddaughter in light of the vehement insistence by many fans that no character on the show (and most especially not the Doctor) can ever, ever, be suggested to engage in a certain physical activity often responsible for producing parents of grandchildren.
    • Season 6B.
    • One Doctor Who website actually features "Plugging the Holes: Fan-Wank Explanations for Continuity Errors" in the novels.
    • The Dalek vs. Cybermen battle of Army of Ghosts and Doomsday.
    • Exactly what the nature of the Doctordonna and Tentoo were from Journey's End.
    • Various inconsistencies regarding the Doctor's age, such as:
      • How the First Doctor could leave Gallifrey at 200ish, still be clearly quite new to time travel in "An Unearthly Child", constantly travelling with humans until his regeneration, after which he gives his age as 450;
      • What the Third Doctor meant when he mentioned being thousands of years old a few times;
      • Why the Doctor gave his age as 953 in his Seventh incarnation but dated himself consistently from 900 in the new series starting from his Ninth incarnation — vanity, or having portions of his own timeline deleted in the Time War;
      • Various incidents which presumably took extremely long times but are not factored into the Doctor's age, like the Eighth Doctor being stranded on Orbis for 600 years in one of the audio dramas, Season 6B, and the life of the War Doctor;
      • When exactly the time skips can happen when the Doctor has human companions with him most of the time - for instance, how long was the Fourth Doctor travelling alone before and after "The Deadly Assassin" (which the numbers given suggest is less than a year but provides a really convenient opening), or was it after "The Invasion of Time", or even in the middle of "Robot"? Did he spend 200-or-so years travelling with Romana between "Shada" and "The Leisure Hive" (between which his physical appearance and personality dramatically alters, possibly implying a timeskip), "The Leisure Hive" and "Meglos" (widest open point in continuity), or the Fifth Doctor and Human Alien Nyssa between "Time Flight" and "Arc of Infinity"? Or even all of these?
    • Who were the faces shown to the Doctor by Morbius in "The Brain of Morbius"? Previous incarnations of the Doctor (as intended by the production team but Retconned due to being basically impossible), or incarnations of Morbius?
    • Did "Shada" actually happen, and if so, what version? The Shada audio drama takes the view that it was Cosmic Retconned out by "The Five Doctors" and shoehorns the Eighth Doctor into the story, but the novelisation presents it with the Fourth Doctor as originally intended.
    • As a Necessary Weasel resulting from the actors playing the Doctor all being human mortals, the ageing of the Doctor's individual faces is inconsistent — the Doctor can take The Slow Path for 400 years and not age a day in one story, but look visibly older after only five years in another. This has received an attempted Hand Wave by River Song in "Let's Kill Hitler" where she suggests that Time Lords can control their ageing and even age backwards if they want to (possibly used by the Tenth Doctor to reverse his age between his courtship with Queen Elizabeth in "The Day of the Doctor" and his death in the Specials), but there's points where the Doctor is physically ageing, getting only drawbacks from doing so and clearly doesn't want to...
    • How does regeneration work? How can someone regenerate with gelled hair? And what was going on with Romana having a Costume Test Montage with bodies after regenerating apparently only for vanity?
    • Anything involving the frequent use of You Look Familiar - Identical Grandson? Spacio-genetic multiplicity? The Doctor Who universe just happens to have Only Six Faces? Some weird phenomenon resulting from the constant time travelling?
    • Much of the Early Installment Weirdness:
      • In "The Edge of Destruction", Ian uses a stethoscope on the Doctor without noting anything unusual and "The Sensorites", the First Doctor casually mentions his 'heart', singular. But during the Third Doctor's tenure, we discover the Doctor has the Bizarre Alien Biology quirk of having two hearts, easily detected by a casual stethoscope use in the Fourth Doctor story "Robot". One novel came up with the explanation that the Doctor only gained a second heart after his first regeneration, although Troughton mentions his 'heart', singular, too. Strangely, the Doctor being Ambiguously Human in Hartnell and Troughton's eras is almost never a target for this sort of thing.
      • The Alternate Character Interpretation that the First Doctor is not the elderly, Seen It All patriarch that the writers of the time obviously intended, but the equivalent of a teenager with No Social Skills who feigns age and wisdom so other people will think that he is important became a pretty convenient theory around the time the Doctor's backstory, culture and imagined lifespan got a lot more development. (Fortunately, due to the character's Man Child qualities, this interpretation is easily supported by picking bits of Hartnell stories like "The Romans", "The Myth Makers", "The Space Museum", "The Time Meddler"... among several others, and makes for a very entertaining alternative reading.) It was eventually canonised in "Time Crash", although the Tenth Doctor's assertion that he tried to look old and important 'like you do when you're young' until the Fifth Doctor seems to skip over the young and childish Fourth Doctor to a jarring extent. Maybe it also explains why the Fourth Doctor visibly aged so much.
      • Why does WOTAN in "The War Machines" call the Doctor "Doctor Who"?
    • The Dalek timeline, why the Daleks in the first story were so different in personality and power level to later ones and why their precursor race is given as "Dals" at first and then (more memorably) as "Kaleds". (Some novels suggest that the early Daleks were a prototypical race of Dalek sent to live in the city on their own as an experiment, who then disowned the inferior beings who created them. Others suggest that the Dals were a race wiped out by the Kaleds, and a Dalish word was used to name the race ("Dal-ek" being Dalish for "God" or "Übermensch"), leading to the early Daleks to mistakenly assume they were descended from the Dals.)
    • The podcast DWO WHOcast spent one episode pondering why it was that the Doctor's boots changed into brogue shoes when he regenerated from the Fourth into the Fifth Doctor (which out-of-universe was just a straight Blooper). At least one fanfiction has been written about it.
    • "UNIT dating" note . This one is big enough, wanky enough and enough of a fool's errand that the revival series makes a generous point of mocking it whenever the subject comes up.
    • A whole book was written to explain the simple not-quite-an-error in "Warriors of the Deep" when the Doctor claims he tried to negotiate peace between the humans and the Silurians twice when he'd only done that once (the writer was presumably including the Sea Devils, a cousin to the Silurians, in that count).
  • Kamen Rider Decade is a short television series that crosses over into alternate universes of the nine Kamen Rider shows that preceeded it and then brings back the leads for ALL of the shows in All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker (albeit as Fake Shemps; one of the few who isn't a Shemp is an Early-Bird Cameo) with numerous references abound, especially for Kamen Rider Den-O. It's fanwank to the nth degree.
  • The Klingon Forehead Problem in Star Trek - Klingons from the original series had smooth foreheads, while in every other work, they have ridges. Roddenberry initially said Klingons always had the ridges but TOS just lacked the makeup budget to show them, while it was later acknowledged in Deep Space Nine as their having had smooth foreheads when the crew meet 23rd-century Klingons. In Star Trek: Enterprise, this retcon was given a canon explanation as Genetic Engineering Gone Horribly Wrong resulting in a virus that infected a significant proportion of the population.note  Before this became the canon explanation, there were various fan theories such as cosmetic surgery to pass as other species for covert operations, to being a single group not representative of their species as a whole.
    • Adding to the confusion is when Klingons from TOS appeared on DS9 and suddenly had ridged foreheads. One theory regarding this is that those Klingons got cosmetic surgery to make themselves look like "normal" Klingons.
  • iCarly: Copious amounts related to shipping. One large pro-Seddie group interpret any form of communication or interaction as supporting their ship.
    • The "Seddie is going to happen because Dan said so" shippers. See Shrug of God for why they can never actually back their claim up with any evidence.
  • In Stargate fandom, one of the most obvious and yet never directly addressed questions is why all the aliens speak English. Various theories have emerged, the most popular being that the stargates themselves act as translators.
    • Though at some point the producers do mention that they elected to ignore the language barrier for the sake of efficiency and a less contrived feel.
    • Some have speculated that the travel through the Stargate somehow implants individuals with foreign languages and the reason why this didn't originally manifest is because the Earth Stargate uses a haphazard jerry-rigged control system. McKay complains that the Earth gate ignores hundreds of important commands that normal gates use.
  • The penchant Skins has for ambiguous series endings leads to lots of this.
  • How I Met Your Mother is specifically designed to spawn this, with fans spending pages of threads on Television Without Pity and other sites guessing who the mother is, how the many events Future!Ted says are important to the story with factor into the story of the mother, what is the significance and context of many orphaned, Noodle Incident-like flashforwards that Future!Ted promises to explain later and how they will fit into the future storyarcs. There has also been constant wank trying to justify how one of Ted's previous girlfriends might be the mother, as well as speculation about how Ted will meet the Mother (it was finally revealed that he met her at Barney's wedding), and theories about what the goat in Ted's bathroom on his birthday was about (it was part of a multi-sided Kudzu Plot and wound up putting Ted in the hospital) and the most recent topic of wank is who Barney's bride is from the flashforward to his wedding (the main argument is between Robin or a new love interest), and what the reason for the Mother's presence there is.
  • On Merlin, Morgana and Morgause are established as half-sisters, though it's never definitively said whether they share a mother or a father. There's evidence for either Vivienne or Gorlois as the shared parent, but in series 3 it's revealed that Morgana's father is not Gorlois at all, but Uther (making her half-sister to Arthur). Since Morgana and Morgause continue to refer to each other as "sister" after this, most fans assume that Vivienne is the shared parent. Added confusion comes out of the fact that Gaius initially called them "half-sisters" (long before he knew that Uther was Morgana's true father), a statement that doesn't make sense unless you assume that Morgause had a father who wasn't Gorlois (otherwise they would have been assumed to be full sisters).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dungeonomicon is a pretty massive Fan Wank trying to justify (among many other things) the economics, social structures and fantastic locales of D&D.
  • A common form of Fan Wank in Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is "refluffling," or using the mechanics of a power as written but changing the explanation of how the power works to better fit a character concept. It's commonly done with characters using the Martial (non-magical, weapons and skill-based) power source, to explain how someone with no magical powers can turn invisible (you see, he's really just hiding so well he'd might as well be invisible), control an enemy's actions (you're not making them jump off a cliff, you're staggering them, and it's just dumb luck that they happen to stagger 20 feet straight toward a cliff edge), etc.
    • Recently officially sanctioned on the D&D website; there was an Insider article both describing the practice an encouraging it.
    • Earlier than this, it was specifically mentioned as something that should be done with Warlock powers so that they fit your character's contract, and used to explain why the contract labels for powers were dropped after the Player's Handbook — the labels led people to an attitude that they could only pick appropriately-labeled powers for their warlock, when they had only been intended as a guide and if you really wanted a power that wasn't appropriately labeled, you could just change the fluff to match.
  • Farcast for Eclipse Phase is an entire year of fanwank, where the author set out to see if he could produce a year's worth of material for the setting just to see if he can.
  • In the backstory of Warhammer 40,000, there were 20 Space Marine Legions before the Horus Heresy, where 10 of said Legions rebelled. In order prevent another organized revolt in the future, the remaining Legions were split into much smaller Chapters. Two of the original twenty Legions—and whether these Legions stayed loyal or rebelled—were intentionally left blank, so Space Marine (both loyalist and Chaos) players could fill in the details themselves when making their own Chapter/Legion, if none of the established lore fit the tone they were going for. The explanation for the identities and fates of these two blank Legions has caused no end of Fan Wank.
    • Later novels set during the Horus Heresy expanded considerably on the time of the Space Marine Legions, including many previously unknown (and not a few retconned!) aspects of, for example, the Alpha Legion. But all in all, they do touch about the "Lost Legions", and while they are never named nor their Primarchs brought up, dialogue suggests they did, in fact, go with Horus—and were wiped out for it. A rather chilling line refers specifically to either Primarch Russ, the Space Wolves or both being their "executioner" because (according to a guy in the story who would know these things) Russ was chosen by the Emperor to deal with such matters within the Legions and the Wolves were the Emperor's personal death squad. It should be noted much earlier short stories and novels inferred similarly that the Lost Legions:
      • A—Were lost to Chaos.
      • B—Were promptly exterminated.
      • C—And it was Russ that pulled the trigger.

  • The BIONICLE fandom was very weird about this. Pretty much all forums, the most prominent being BZ Power, had or have entire sub-forums dedicated to storyline-discussion and theorizing. On one hand, the amount of fanwank that built up during the toy-line's run is incredible. On the other, most of the fandom is very strict about adhering to canon, creating a sort of vicious circle that only the toughest fanwank survive. This eventually lead to the fans bombarding the official writer with their own ideas to canonize them. Some made it through, but after a while, he had to leave the online forums due to LEGO's policies. Even after the toys were canceled, the fanwankery just kept on going. Fans are trying to explain the ludicrous powers through real-life physics (despite the wirter's insistence that they don't apply here), bringing back romance after the No Hugging, No Kissing rule, and declaring fan fictions as canonical alternate universes.

    Video Games 
  • Why, exactly, we have never seen a male Mithra in Final Fantasy XI. The official explanation for a lack of male Mithra PCs was originally simply that they're unadventurous and so never leave home, to the consternation of those who are uncomfortable with the concept of the Non-Action Guy or just of not being able to play a cute catboy. With the release of the first expansion, we see our first truly wholly Mithra town and still no men (due to early fears of running into the PS2's technical limitations), the explanation was elaborated as the slightly less plausible "they never leave the Mithra homeland" without clarifying that Kazham wasn't it, and thus the Fan Wank engine got the push start it needed. The most popular fan explanation is that they're too rare for use as anything but dedicated breeding stock, and what man would complain about that job, up to and including being chained up in the shadows? Wings of the Goddess does finally show one male Mithra in a cutscene (clothed, no less), but this may be too little, too late. Similar questions exist for the "all-female" Viera race found in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy XII and other Ivalice - bound games.
  • Final Fantasy XIV nearly went through the same song and dance for single gender races as Final Fantasy XI did. The Miqo'te were going to be female only and the Roegadyn would be male only, but players complained about it and the developers allowed the opposite sexes to be playable.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Shipping Industry is quite profitable. There's a huge debate about Link/Zelda or Link/Midna.
    • The many, many, many efforts to make a coherent timeline out of the series. Furthering this endless Fan Wank is the infuriating fact that Aonuma and Miyamoto have confirmed the existence of a timeline, and made the placement of a few games Word of God, but refuse to reveal the document itself to anyone not working with the games... until the release of the 2011 artbook/encyclopedia Hyrule Historia, which contained the entire timeline.
    • The epic Sheik question: Is Sheik just Zelda crossdressing or did she actually use magic to turn herself male? That one should have been resolved through Word of God- Sheik is, officially, canonically, absolutely a Wholesome Crossdresser. But, for various reasons, some fans simply refuse to accept this as canon.
    • The theory that Ocarina of Time split the timeline in two started out as fanwank, until it was confirmed by Word of God. Happened the same with the fact that Link and Zelda are different people in most of the games. The Wind Waker settled it... just to open up a new fanwanky question: Which exactly is the relationship between them? Descendants? Reincarnations? Both? Different people altogether? Again, Hyrule Historia reveals that Ocarina actually split the timeline in three, and that a few of the Links and all of the Zeldas are related, though it doesn't even touch on the whole reincarnation issue (although it was strongly hinted in Skyward Sword, specially in Zelda's case). Which opened up more wank, since one of the timeline splits hinged on Link dying before Ganondorf could be defeated.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The franchise has enough fan wank going about Nobodies and all associated mind screws that they've caused multiple spoogenamis.
    • The Another Side, Another Story special ending from the first game deserves a special mention. The quantity of Fan Wank that single video originated rivaled all the Lost and Zelda timeline theories.
    • The thing about Kingdom Hearts is that there is an abundance of rules and guidelines within out-of-the-way sources or bits of dialogue in-game. After the first six games, there was enough canonical information to demystify many of the more confusing parts of the series. It's just that there are a lot of seemingly arbitrary rules that can be hard to keep track of, even if they do make things make sense. Hence, fan-wank.
  • A particular Fan Wank from the Koopaling fansite Lemmy's Land considered Bowser Jr. to be Baby Ludwig Von Koopa under a different name and appearance, which was finally Jossed with New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
  • In the Pokémon Gold and Silver games, whether Raikou, Entei, and Suicune are cats, dogs, or whatever. Many forums moderators decided that people are free to call them whatever, but if there's any argument they are "officially" the three legendary gerbils. Pokémon Generations - Episode 6: The Reawakening seems to suggest they are dogs, but raises more fan wank than it settles.
  • This is what happens when you base an extremely popular FPS on an Excuse Plot. Fans of Team Fortress 2 have been going mad over various details about the world of the game: the characters' background, the in-universe mechanics (respawn or replace?), etc. However, Valve is slowly giving the players breadcrumbs through comics and videos.
  • The Silent Hill series by its nature encourages this in their Fandom; Game FAQS is filled with exhaustive plot and character analyses. A sure way to troll any fan forum is to cut down Epileptic Trees with the insistence that it's all just deliberately Invoked Mind Screw on Konami's part.
  • The popular Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood fan theory of Cesare Borgia being the creator or inspiration for Abstergo Industries... because he said the word "cleanse" once.
  • The ending of Mass Effect 3 has inspired Fan Wank that is enveloping the entire series. This is one of the reasons that Bioware released an extended ending DLC. Allegedly it was the intended effect, if the head writer really did write "LOTS OF SPECULATION FROM EVERYONE" in his notes on the ending. Most fans took this in a direction he didn't intend.
  • Some fans of the Ninja Gaiden series try to fit in the events of the original arcade game (which is largely unconnected to the NES version and its later sequels, save for a few superficial similarities) into the continuity of the later console games by claiming that the two player characters (a pair of ninjas, one in blue and another one in red) are actually Ryu Hayabusa and his father Joe (or Ken, depending on the version) undergoing a mission that they went through before the events of the Xbox and NES games (despite the fact that the player characters in the arcade version were never given identities).
  • In Ōkami, you play as a goddess (Amaterasu) that has taken on the form of a white wolf. Largely due to sexism and a desire to play as a male character, some fans began undermining the gender of Amaterasu in various ways, such as by arguing that the wolf was in fact a separate male entity from Amaterasu serving as her vessel, and/or that Amaterasu was male in her previous life as Shiranui (this one was clearly not true in the first game, but the sequel retcons Shiranui into a separate male entity), and/or that being a god, Amaterasu lacks a true sex. "Evidence" for these theories includes random NPCS referring to her as male, which is very easily explained by the characters just assuming this; characters also tend to assume she is a dog, but for some reason these same fans don't argue the validity of that. They also ignore or try to argue away the much more numerous references to her as female, including a character that is able to see her true form; a beautiful human maiden, and the fact she's based off of a clearly female Japanese goddess.

    Web Comics 
  • Cyanide & Happiness mocked this once.
  • Axe Cop - Read through all the paragraph-length commentary on episode 60. And this is just one of the more egregious examples, for the Axe Cop fans.
  • Homestuck, full stop. What makes this one particularly interesting is that Andrew Hussie actually pays attention to Fan Wank theories and sometimes canonizes them in later strips or shows them to be wrong in some egregiously anvilicious way, depending on how much he likes the theory and/or how much he feels like trolling the fans.

    Western Animation 
  • Shego's plasma power in Kim Possible: if she can blast through metal, why didn't she burn up a cheerleader? (Besides the most popular answer.)
  • There was a Transformers fan-author named Stormcloud, who seemed bound and determined to use every Beast Wars character not in the show in his 'fics. The end result was fight scenes that were so step-by-step and plotted out that they resembled a pre-publishing RA Salvatore, with character names made up of bad animal puns.
    • Go to the YouTube clip about the creation of the Transformers taken directly from the G1 cartoon it came from. Behold the number of comic fans trying to explain to innocent viewers how it fits into the Transformer God Primus origin from the comics, despite the fact the G1 Transformers cartoon made no reference to Primus, and as far as the TV producers were concerned, this was the intended origin for the show. However, Primus having created Cybertron before the Quintessons' arrival was canonized by the Wreckers comic.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot never got a "true ending" and left a LOT of things unexplained by the creators, prompting a lot of fanwank about the purpose of the villains, where they came from, why they do the things they do and what drives them. Some people have their own little universe where everything is explained.
  • A rather interesting example occurred with Batman Beyond. Fans theorized that Terry and Matt's lack of resemblence to their father, specifically their black hair, genetically improbable given their parents' hair colors (red and brown respectively for Mary and Warren), had a role in the divorce. Flash forward to the Justice League Unlimited Fully Absorbed Finale "Epilogue," and guess what? Bruce Wayne is revealed to have been the boys' biological father, with Warren's genetic material having been, unbeknownst to anyone but CADMUS, overwritten with his. According to the series' writers, this decision was influenced by the realization of said improbability.
  • Aside from the two Care Bears movie continuities, as the Headscratchers mentioned, what happened to Dark Heart after he turned human, and for that matter, why did he attack them, why did he care about a girl that saved his life once? What was his backstory, and speaking of which, the backstory of all of the villains and the pre-Wishing Star bears and cousins?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Let's just say that the fans put a lot of thought into analyzing the physics, economics, politics, and magic of the setting. In particular, discussions of exactly how powerful Celestia and Luna are, both in the physical and political sense, crop up a lot. Entire fanfics have been written primarily for the authors to explain and justify why their particular set of Fanon makes the most sense.
    • In "Daring Don't", Twilight and Rainbow Dash briefly engage in this In-Universe concerning the Daring Do series.