The life cycle of a {{fandom}} of a work, franchise, genre, or creator can be roughly subdivided into seven stages:

* '''Stage 0''': Depending on the level of preemptive promotion:
** '''(a)''' Obscurity. The work has just began publication and is relatively unknown. Every SleeperHit starts off here upon release, before quickly getting popular.
** '''(b)''' Pre-release hype owed either to the creator's previous fame or to a promotion campaign. The fandom is technically not there yet but the seeds are sown.
* '''Stage 1''': Relative obscurity. Fans are disjointed and have little communication. Cries of "It SugarWiki/NeedsMoreLove" are heard.
* '''Stage 2''': Fans begin to communicate and form clubs that will become the devoted core of the fandom. TroperCriticalMass is usually reached at this stage. {{Cult Classic}}s remain here forever. A BrokenBase may begin to form here or Stage 3 as passionate fans no longer need to worry about holding the fanbase together and get their potentially controversial opinions off their chests.
* '''Stage 3''': Fandom heads towards mainstream. {{Hatedom}} forms as a VocalMinority, and [[TheLawOfFanJackassery the fandom is too small to drown them out]]. Most creators start paying attention to the fandom at this stage.
* '''Stage 4''': Fandom becomes large and organized. The majority drowns out the hatedom voices. "NormalPeople" outside of the fandom begin to recognize its object's popularity.
* '''Stage 5''': The work becomes sufficiently ingrained in contemporary culture for even the people not familiar with it to [[PopCulturalOsmosis know a lot about it]], technically turning ''everyone'' into a fan. These are the works most likely to become TropeOverdosed.\\
Reference examples: ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'', ''Franchise/HarryPotter'', ''Franchise/StarTrek'', ''Franchise/StarWars'', ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros''.
* '''Stage 6''':
** '''(a)''' Cooldown. The fandom slips back to stage 2 from any of the previous stages, becoming a cult.
** '''(b)''' Oblivion. The fandom goes back to obscurity from any of the previous stages.
** '''(c)''' Destruction. The fandom completely dissolves, leaving only a handful of people dedicated to its preservation or is forgotten completely.
* '''Stage X''': NewbieBoom. After slipping back to obscurity, the fandom springs back towards mainstream due to external factors, such as a ContinuityReboot, SequelGap, or an adaptation/spin-off series becoming popular.

Note that not every fandom passes through every stage--some stick at the early stages forever and only a select few ever reach stage 5.