Fan Wank

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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 
Chad Orzel tries to make sense of Goodnight, Moon!

Fan Wank refers to a fan's personal theory about a work, designed to resolve inconsistencies or help make sense of the work, but tending only to reveal that the fan is putting way too much thought into the exercise. It's the other reason you should use protection when reading fanfic.

Fanfic writers like "mythos building" fics, partly because they tend to be more memorable, but also because they allow them to cement their personal theories into the source material's pseudo-canon; if the fans like the idea, they can collectively adopt it as Fanon. Fans may also try a Fix Fic, where the author identifies something "wrong" with the source material and tries to make it better. The problem with this sort of thing is that these fans tend to put much more thought into the work than the authors themselves did, and it results in theories that make no sense, don't make the original work any more enjoyable, or perhaps even resolve a question that was better left a mystery.

Particularly common elements of a fan wank include:

If the canon author tries to do this to his own work, it's called a Retcon, Re Vision, or otherwise some form of Continuity Porn. In general, fans treat "retcon" as a value-neutral term, whereas "fan wank" carries a connotation of being crap. That said, fan wank can still be enjoyable, especially if the author is clearly aware of how ridiculous the theory is, and some fan theories can even be adopted by the original work in the form of Ascended Fanon (or a Shrug of God, which means no canon commitment either way and gives the fans room to work with).

The etymology of the word "wank" shows that it means "indulgence", particularly extreme self-indulgence; from there, it passed into British slang for masturbation. Thus, "fan wank" refers to writers stroking their own egos by writing at length about things only they care about. The term was coined by Doctor Who fan and Doctor Who Expanded Universe writer Craig Hinton, who was no stranger to fan wank himself, and applied the term to his own work. That said, some fandom circles also use "wank" to refer to a fan behaving like a wanker, such as Broken Base feuding and Fan Dumb.

This is YMMV for a reason however, as the sheer amount of Fan Wank in existence shows that a lot of people, at least within fandoms, really like it.

See also Epileptic Trees (the specific crazy theories the fans come up with) and Wild Mass Guessing, TV Tropes' own collection of crazy fan theories.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass gets a lot of wanking, mostly about shipping, Character Alignment, and whether R2 even existed. The show also has an incredibly weird Alternate Timeline, and the fans consistently try to reconcile every Word of God statement with that timeline, leading to a whole "Geassverse" with multiple points of divergence. Code Geass: Akito the Exiled and Code Geass: Oz the Reflection both being canon adds to the craziness. The remaining wanking topics derive from the show being Screwed by the Network, leaving a lot of questions unanswered, including C.C.'s real name, the true nature of Geass, the origin of Suzaku's superhuman abilities (and their suggested connection to Geass), and the true fate of Kallen's supposedly dead brother Naoto.
  • Pokémon fan wank topics include:
    • What gender the main character's Pokémon are in the anime.
    • How old starting Pokémon trainers should be.
    • The Legendary Beasts from Pokémon Generations Episode 6: The Reawakening, which were seen in silhouette form from before they became the Legendary Beasts and looked more like normal dogs than any existing Pokémon. It was meant to resolve a different fan wank question (i.e. whether the Legendary Beasts were canine or feline Pokémon), but some fans latched on to the scene to argue that they were totally different, not yet revealed Pokémon, and others thought they were Houndour (which raised a different question — why are Fire types dying in a fire?).
  • 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. This is typically done by making the victim a water magnet and invoking a 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.
    • 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."
    • Whether 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 has 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:
    • One theory 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. That's not the fanwank, that's the canon part. 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 having been 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 (which made them not homosexual anymore).
  • The Gundam franchise as a whole has the "Turn A Bang" theory, derived from a scene in Turn A Gundam that depicted a period of history made up of clips from various other Gundam shows, which were originally touted as Alternate Universes. Fans responded by building a timeline that tried to fit all those shows into a single universe. It's hard to do, and every new show only makes it harder (and a piece of official merchandisenote  said explicitly that all universes after Turn A except Gundam Build Fighters are part of the timeline, so they have to do it).
  • Naruto fanfiction is very nearly the most written anime fanfiction on Fanfiction.Net, 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. We do now know his real name, which is Minato Namikaze, but fans remain free to speculate on 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, Naruto's mother, bloodlines, members of Akatsuki, and whether or not Madara is actually immortal.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has inspired more Epileptic Trees than any other anime, which is practically inevitable when you consider how weird the story is, the sheer number of things that go unexplained, and the creators' refusal to explain anything (because it's post-modern, apparently). Fans have thus theorized 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.
  • The Western fandom of Sgt. Frog has a particularly weird hang-up regarding whether the kerons, who are alien frogs, have real hair. It started on DeviantArt and spread to Tumblr. Although the work has shown all kinds of head hair and facial hair, and even a mutant mole hair on Keroro's forehead which grows to extreme length, some fans insist that all that hair is fake (because they're technically "frogs" and thus hairless).
  • 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 
  • In Batman continuity following the New 52 reboot, it took a while for Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain to show up (not until Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal, respectively). Fans have wanked in the interim that they either didn't exist in this continuity, or if they did, that they were either in Hong Kong or some beach resort just hanging out and probably doing a variety of recreational drugs. When they finally showed up, they had more or less the same backstories as before.
  • V for Vendetta gives us the fan wank of V's gender. In both the graphic novel and film, V is consistently referred to as "he" and "the man from room five", but V is also Valerie, a female character we only see in flashback, presumably after some serious surgery.
  • The Disney Ducks Comic Universe is legendary for its Continuity Snarl, especially because stories were published in several different countries with no regard for what was happening elsewhere in the continuity. This leads to hundreds of different stories where the characters initially don't believe in Santa Claus only for him to turn out to be Real After All, multiple stories where they discover mythical places like Atlantis and Stonehenge (all with mutually exclusive explanations), and so many new relatives that it led to a Tangled Family Tree which a dozen different characters claiming to be Scrooge McDuck's paternal grandfather. Author Don Rosa was into this sort of thing himself and valiantly tried to resolve everything into a single continuity, but it's far too much for one man, so the fans have to fill in the gaps.
  • Comic book superheroes lend themselves well to Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny-style battles, and crossover wanks between Marvel and DC characters are common. One mini-series tried to take advantage of this by pitting Marvel and DC characters against each other and determining the winner by fan vote. The most controversial here was Wolverine against Lobo; although Wolverine unsurprisingly got more votes, this was back when Wolverine wasn't yet functionally immortal, but Lobo was and had fought Superman to a standstill. Even the comic book artists couldn't figure that one out, so they had the fight take place offscreen. Fans wanked that Wolverine bribed Lobo to take a dive; a later Lobo comic claimed it was Professor X who paid Lobo to take the dive (to spare Wolverine's ego and reputation).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The ending of Inception was intended to be completely open, 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.
  • Used In-Universe in Galaxy Quest; fans of the show 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. They even have their own bizarre explanation for what the Omega-13 device does which deviates from the show's conventional wisdom; it's not a bomb, but a time machine (with a 13-second range) — and they turn out to be right there, too! It's also some subtle Fridge Brilliance, as the aliens who built the ship must have done the same wanking from watching the same "Historical Documents".
  • The plot of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions 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:
    • The "Kessel Run" is one of the biggest fan wank topics in fiction. In A New Hope, Han claims the Millennium Falcon is so fast, it "made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs", which sounds cool — except a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. There are three ways to go about this:
      • Retcon it to an actual unit of time, as was done in the film's novelization (credited to George Lucas but written by Alan Dean Foster), which has it as "12 standard time units".
      • Claim the mistake is deliberate. This could mean either that Han is a blowhard who doesn't know what he's talking about and happens to have a really fast ship, or it could mean that Han is testing Luke and Ben to see if they know anything about space travel (presumably, Luke didn't catch on, while Ben did but was fine with Han thinking they were rubes). The last revision of the original script even had Han making inaccurate boasts, with the line "Ben reacts to Solo's stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation."
      • Claim that the Kessel Run can be made shorter through dangerous shortcuts that only a really fast ship can survive. That's why it would be impressive for a ship to make the run in so short a distance. This can be ferrying goods between two ships traveling away from each other, to maneuvering through an Asteroid Thicket, to skirting dangerously close to a black hole. The latter theory was popular enough to be established officially in The Han Solo Trilogy.
    • Luke uses the Force to choke a Gammorean in Return of the Jedi — but isn't that using The Dark Side? Fans have wanked this away by claiming that any Force user can do it (the Dark Side just likes it a lot more, and there's no Bad Powers, Bad People at play here), to there being no intent to kill (thus not the Dark Side), to Luke using the Jedi Mind Trick to make the Gammorean think he was choking but not put him in any real danger.
    • The Phantom Menace introduced the concept of "midichlorians", which supposedly indicate Force ability. Fans are divided on whether midichlorians cause force ability or are just an indicator thereof. If the latter is the case, there are further fan wanks on whether they're naturally attracted to high concentrations of the Force, whether they can only live in a being with a connection to the Force, or whether they're a by-product of the genetic kink which really causes Force sensitivity (which also resolves the issue of why there are so few Jedi even at the height of the Old Republic).
    • Anakin was prophesized to "bring balance to the Force", but what exactly does that mean? George Lucas and others insist that the existence of The Dark Side is an inherent imbalance and that Anakin killing the Emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi corrected that imbalance. But others point out that in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin killed all the Jedi but two, leaving two Jedi and two Sith — that's balance, right? Huh? And still others suggest that Anakin's creation was the imbalance (thanks to Darth Plagueis' manipulation of midichlorians to create life) and that his Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Jedi brought back balance to the Force.
    • At the end of A New Hope, everybody got a medal at the end except for Chewbacca. Not wanting their heroes to look insensitive, fans have wanked that Wookiees don't believe in medals and awards, and that Chewie was offered a medal offscreen and declined the honor. One comic book continuation, however, cheekily suggested that Leia was just too short to actually put the medal around Chewie's neck, and it would have been undignified to give her a Scully Box during the ceremony.
    • The AT-AT, cool as it looked, doesn't seem like a practical weapon to use as a Military Mashup Machine. A fan wank that started on StarDestroyer.net suggested that it was originally intended to be an artillery piece used under heavy escort, but then Executive Meddling ensued (in much the same way as Adolf Hitler in Real Life changed the use of the Me-262).
  • Enemy has many theories about "what it all means." Here's .one take from Slate.

    Literature 
  • Discworld fandom's big issues:
    • Havelock Vetinari's sexuality — which way does he bend? And which recurring characters (whether male or female) would he get off with? From canon, it's pretty easy to extrapolate that he's naturally self-sufficient, austere, and celibate, but that's just too boring for some fans (although later books do refer to a rumored past relationship with Lady Margolotta).
    • Are the girls in the Monstrous Regiment's Last Detail lesbians? (Well, we almost certainly know Tonker and Lofty are.) 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 gotten it on?
    • On a more intellectual level, Discworld has a very mangled and twisted timeline which fans have long tried to explain. It was eventually explained In-Universe as some idiot human breaking the timeline and forcing the History Monks to repair it, a meta-wank from Terry Pratchett to explain away continuity errors.
  • The big issues in The Lord of the Rings fandom:
    • The question of whether or not the Balrog had wings is a contender for the fan wank debate to rule them all. The wording in the original book and elsewhere in Tolkien's Legendarium is ambiguous; while the Balrog does "fly", that could easily be metaphorical. Fans argue over whether or not the Balrog dying by falling off a cliff means anything (because if it had wings it could have just flown back up, except if he was killed on the way down). The film version has wings, but mostly because Peter Jackson's own fan wank says it does, and this says nothing about J. R. R. Tolkien's original version. Some people make fun of the debate by jokingly wanking about whether the Balrog had fuzzy bunny slippers (as it appeared to have in Ralph Bakshi's Animated Adaptation).
    • Tom Bombadil is a divisive character (divisive enough not to be featured in the films) with a ton of debate over his true nature — was he a random nature spirit, an avatar of the world as a whole, or one of the Valar or Ilúvatar in disguise?
    • Why didn't the Eagles simply fly the Ring to Mount Doom? Fans have a ton of explanations for that:
      • One theory based on J. R. R. Tolkien's personal explanation was that the Fellowship required secrecy; destroying the Ring was their best hope precisely because Sauron wouldn't expect anyone who has that kind of power to want to destroy it, and the best way to do that was to send a small party to sneak into Mordor unnoticed. By contrast, a Giant Flyer heading straight into the heart of enemy territory isn't exactly stealthy (and Sauron had his own flying units which could match up against them). Once the deed was done, then the Eagles could fly in and save Frodo and Sam (which they weren't even expecting, thinking that they were basically on a Suicide Mission).
      • The Eagles were at risk of corruption from the Ring like everyone else; they wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to just kill Frodo and steal the Ring.
      • The Eagles are Chaotic Good and don't answer to orders or are otherwise bound not to intervene (perhaps because it would have ended the books much earlier).
      • They would presumably have to drop the Ring into the volcano, but according to the text, it had to be thrown into the Crack of Doom itself, which is inside a long, narrow tunnel and impractical for an Eagle to fit into.
  • Sherlock Holmes has a lot of inconsistencies and a corresponding volume of fan wanking, to the point that an organization called the Baker Street Irregulars has been doing this since the 1930s. Some of the essays they've written have been published in the book 17 Steps to Baker Street. Some of the problems they've addressed are:
    • Where exactly was Watson's old war wound? It was in the shoulder in A Study in Scarlet, but in the leg in The Sign of Four. Fan wank varies from his being shot on separate occasions to his being Shot in the Ass and too embarrassed to admit it. In Sherlock, Watson was shot in the shoulder but starts the series with a psychosomatic limp that suggests he was shot in the leg, and A Study in Emerald gives Watson an impostor, with each one shot in different locations. (The real one was shot in the leg; the shoulder-wounded narrator is in fact Sebastian Moran).
    • Exactly where was 221B Baker Street? The location didn't exist at the time the books were published (which is exactly why Arthur Conan Doyle used that number); it does exist now, but the address is devoted specifically to Sherlock Holmes fandom and memorabilia.
    • Is Watson's first name James or John? Different books said different things. Most fans have settled on John, but Dorothy L. Sayers suggested that Watson's middle name is Hamish, a Scotch Gaelic version of James (a wank later used by Sherlock), and A Study in Emerald suggests he uses different names for his identities as a doctor and a mystery writer (and also he's a wanted assassin and terrorist). Young Sherlock Holmes also made fun of the name discrepancy.
  • This trope is Older Than Feudalism; in the last days of the Roman Republic, Stoic philosophers didn't spend their time on the mysteries of life and the nature of virtue so much as exactly how many rowers Odysseus had.
  • Harry Potter has a very prolific fanfic collection with its share of fan wanking; one of the most prolific is Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which tries to explain as much of the mythos as it can. The biggest question facing the fandom, though, is how exactly magical inheritance works; no matter how you do it, it cannot be explained simply by a single recessive gene. (Incidentally, Methods of Rationality's author gave up on this question and made it a single recessive gene, explicitly ignoring the canon.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who is textbook Continuity Snarl, and its fandom not only coined the term "fan wank", but it wholeheartedly embraces its tendency to this. Specifically:
    • The 1996 Made-for-TV Movie had the Doctor claim he was half-human. What to make of this? The revival series retconned it, but why would he say it? Many just give up and point to River Song's line, "Rule One: The Doctor lies."
    • The Doctor apparently has a granddaughter (and has since the beginning), but many fans vehemently insist 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. So they produce fan wank to explain away the Doctor's "granddaughter" as not related to him at all.
    • Season 6B refers to a gap between Seasons 6 and 7 where the Doctor regenerates, but we never see him do it. Fan wank suggests that he didn't actually suffer the forced regeneration at the end of Season 6 and was living in exile on Earth under that threat, so there's a whole swathe of stories taking place before he finally regenerates into the Third Doctor in Season 7.
    • How old exactly is the Doctor? He's Really 700 Years Old in trope terms, but he's notoriously terrible at keeping track of his actual age, occasionally even going backwards. It's not easy for fans to keep track of either because there are a number of Time Skips which could have lasted any number of years, as well as theorized episodes like the above-mentioned Season 6B and whole incarnations whose history we don't know (like the War Doctor). Some suggest that he honestly doesn't know himself (the Timey-Wimey Ball does strange things to one's counting ability), while others cheekily suggest that different incarnations of the Doctor are insecure about his age and will lie about it to appear younger or older than he really is.
    • Who were the faces shown to the Doctor by Morbius in "The Brain of Morbius"? Were they previous incarnations of the Doctor (as intended by the production team but retconned due to being basically impossible), or were they incarnations of Morbius?
    • Did "Shada" actually happen, and if so, which version? The "Shada" audio drama takes the view that it was cosmically 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 are 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 the You Look Familiar trope. 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 in "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 the Second Doctor also mentions his "heart", singular. Strangely, the Doctor being Ambiguously Human in Hartnell and Troughton's eras is almost never a target for this sort of thing.
      • If the Doctor is supposed to mature over the course of the show's run, why is the First Doctor portrayed as an elderly, Seen It All patriarch? Some fans wanked that he's really a teenager with No Social Skills who feigns age and wisdom so that people will think he's important. The character does have Man Child qualities, which makes for a very entertaining alternative viewing of the Hartnell era. It eventually became Ascended Fanon in "Time Crash", where the Tenth Doctor acknowledged trying to look old and important when he was young.
      • Why does WOTAN in "The War Machines" call the Doctor "Doctor Who"? We now know that his name is a secret, and his courtesy title is simply "the Doctor"; so how does an early episode make such an easy mistake?
    • 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" refers to figuring out when the Doctor worked for UNIT. It's 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 also fan wank to the nth degree.
  • Star Trek fan wank is exemplified by the "Klingon Forehead Problem": Klingons in the original series had smooth foreheads, whereas they have ridged foreheads in every other work. Fans have been wanking on this for decades, with theories from Klingons removing the ridges with cosmetic surgery to better disguise themselves to just not all Klingons having them. Gene Roddenberry initially claimed that they always had ridges, but the original series lacked the makeup budget to show them. In Deep Space Nine, though, the crew meets 23rd-century Klingons who have smooth foreheads; Star Trek: Enterprise explains this as the result of a genetic engineering experiment Gone Horribly Wrong that infected a significant portion of the population (the non-canon Star Trek Online shows how they were cured in the late 23rd century). But another DS9 episode shows some original series Klingons arriving with ridged foreheads; fans wank this away by claiming they had cosmetic surgery to pass themselves off as "normal" Klingons.
  • iCarly has copious amounts of fan wanking, mostly devoted to shipping. One large pro-Seddie group will interpret any form of communication or interaction as supporting their ship, including a very ambiguous Shrug of God.
  • 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. Further speculation suggests that travel through a stargate somehow implants individuals with the ability to speak other languages, but it didn't originally manifest 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 producers, for their part, claim it's just a convention to make everything feel less contrived.
  • 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, and 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 story arcs. 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). The most recent topic of wank is who Barney's bride is from the Flash Forward 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 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has may wankish fan theories, to the point of the creation of The Dungeonomicon, which tries to justify (among many other things) the economics, social structures and fantastic locales of D&D.
    • A common form of Fan Wank in the 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. The practice was eventually 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 twenty Space Marine Legions before the Horus Heresy, where ten 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 the "Lost Legions"; while they are never named nor are their Primarchs brought up, dialogue suggests they did, in fact, go with Horus — and were wiped out for it.

    Toys 
  • The BIONICLE fandom is 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 leads only the toughest fanwank to survive. This eventually led 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 writer'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 in particular about Link/Zelda or Link/Midna.
    • Are the Link and Zelda in the different games the same people, or are they Legacy Characters? If so, are they descended from their predecessors, outright reincarnated, or different people altogether. Skyward Sword strongly hints that all the Zeldas are reincarnations of the original Zelda; no word on whether the same is true for Link.
    • The many, many efforts to make a coherent timeline out of the series have led to endless Fan Wank. Furthering this 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. Fans originally theorized that the timeline split in two in Ocarina of Time; Hyrule Historia revealed that it split in three.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • "What would Rinoa be like if she was in Kingdom Hearts?", a question that resulted in a cosplay firestorm.
  • From Super Mario Bros., 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.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has a popular fan theory that Cesare Borgia is 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 

    Web Original 

    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.)
  • Transformers:
    • A fan author named Stormcloud seems 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FanWank