Fanon

"Oh, no — another fan with ideas..."
Actor Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Ultimately, official Canonicity is much smaller than the people who throw the term around like to think it is. Canonicity is limited to that which has actually been described in the source material. Especially in groups of writers, it boils down to what the writers specifically need to worry about for the purposes of the ongoing plot.

Fanon, also known as the generally accepted term 'Headcanon' among fans, fanfic writers and Roleplay crowds, is the set of theories based on that material which, while they generally seem to be the "obvious" or "only" interpretation of canonical fact, are not actually part of the canon. Occasionally, the explanation seems good enough to just be "common sense." The salient point to remember is that when someone shouts, "That episode was terrible because it violates the canon!", they are very often totally incorrect.

Fanon fills in holes that the writers may have deliberately left in order to have fodder for later stories. In addition to arising from a point of vagueness in the canon, Fanon can come into existence as a fact gained from a popular but non-canonical source, or taken from a different Adaptation. Because many fans mistake their own Fanon for actual Canonicity, they tend to get riled up when a new fact is introduced which does not literally contradict anything canonical, but invalidates what were formerly the most obvious assumptions. Many examples of Retcon and Continuity Drift that are imagined to be violations of Canonicity really only explicitly contradict Fanon.

Popular subjects of Fanon include character backstories, full names of characters with No Name Given, what characters actually do for a living, and Shipping — a whole other world of its own.

Since many creators in the aftermarket series universe are fans, Fanon often shows up there, and if those creators in turn start writing for the actual show, Fanon may actually become Canonical. Alternatively, you just have Memetic Mutation within the fandom.

Fanon often also refers to the body of information provided by otherwise-official sources. Television and movie scripts are a continuing source of fanon material — Captain James Kirk, for example, had a middle initial ("T.")... but his actual middle name ("Tiberius") was originally revealed in an episode of the Trek animated series; since that show's canonicity is debatable, it was considered "fanon" until featured and explained in the novelisation of the 1st Star Trek movie (author, Gene Roddenberry, and therefore canonical). It was also stated explicitly in the 6th movie. Note that this usage blurs the line between fanon and deuterocanon, though.

Warning: Fanon and accusations of Fanon are a classic Internet Backdraft, with the accusation commonly leveled by fans that have a different interpretation of the material — even when their theory is just as vulnerable to Schrödinger's Gun.

Compare Broad Strokes, where the events of a story are referenced in passing without taking everything said and done as having "officially" happened. If the fanon was repeatedly hinted at by writers until it became fanon, but never actually confirmed in canon, it's Writer-Induced Fanon. See also Fandom-Specific Plot. Not to be confused with this Fanon or the Pope's robe. Fanon is frequently based off Fanfic Fuel.

Examples:

Franchise-Specific Fanons:

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    Film — Animation 
  • The Lion King.
    • Many fans think Simba and Nala had a son, named Kopa, who was either then killed by Zira, or otherwise died, or is at least gone somewhere awaiting a fanfic plot that re-unites him with his lost family (sometimes he just leaves to start his own pride while other times he got lost or was driven away as a cub). A confusing example, as Kopa was a character in the semi-canonical or non-canonical storybook The Lion King: Six New Adventures published between the 2 movies, but was then never mentioned in the 2nd film. This has been speculated to be due to grief, but it's more likely that he was just retconned out of existence. It's thought that he, and not Kiara, was the cub pictured at the end of the original movie. It's also due to the cub's coloration at the end of the first movie (he resembles Simba's at the beginning, has male markings, and all the lionesses are a lighter color).
    • Considering the other Lion King movies aren't officially in the Disney Animated Canon (which doesn't necessarily mean anything to the Lion King universe), some fans just dismiss Kiara's existence completely and replace her with Kopa.
    • Before the Six New Adventures books came out, it was popular to depict Simba's and Nala's cub from the end of the first film as a male named Tanabi. This theory has long since fallen out of popularity, but there are still some fans who feature Tanabi in their headcanons, usually alongside Kopa and Kiara.
    • Nala was meant to have a younger brother named Mheetu but he was taken out of the final product. Fans often include him in fan-works, either as her unseen brother or her dead sibling.
    • Mheetu is often shown to be albino or at least white furred. This comes from fans mistaking the uncolored art for his official color.
    • In the original draft of the film, Sarabi had three sisters, Naanda, Diku, and Dwala, and just like Mheetu, they're popular characters to depict in fanworks. Usually at least one of them will be depicted with blue eyes and/or a Zira-like dorsal stripe.
    • Due to the fact that the writing in one of the "Six New Adventures" books says Ahadi (Mufasa's and Scar's father) has green eyes and black fur while the art makes him look like Mufasa, many fans have taken the third option with Ahadi and combined the two elements. The most common combination is his artwork build but with the colors of the text, though his eyes will occasionally look like his youngest son. His mate, Uru, often has dark brown fur with a diamond-shaped marking somewhere on her body.
    • Nala being Scar's daughter is a very common theory. That'd make Nala and Simba related but it's still a pretty well-known fanon that they're cousins.
    • Kovu is often considered Scar's son by many, even though the movie goes out of its way to say that he is not. Vitani and Nuka are almost across-the-chart considered Scar's children, though there's a sum of fans who believe Vitani is Nala's daughter with Scar. It's less common to believe she's Nala's and Simba's child, with many of her traits being explained as recessive.
    • Fanworks often present either Kovu or Vitani being adopted by Zira instead of biologically her cubs. This theory often goes hand-in-hand with Vitani being Nala's cub (with Zira either stealing her or Nala having given her to Zira prior to the exile) however it isn't required. Fans who consider them both Zira's biological cubs sometimes have them as littermates, explaining why they're so similar in age.
    • There are several Outsider Recurring Extras. Fans have given them nicknames and they often appear as OC Stand Ins in fanworks. Spotty and Dotty are almost always fraternal twins.
    • A large number of fan-works have a Sibling Triangle between Mufasa, Sarabi, and Scar occuring when they were younger. Often times Scar is still bitter over it. If not Sarabi, then Sarafina is a common love interest for Scar. Fans of the pair differ whether Scar is Nala's father or not.
    • Sarabi is not present in the second film due to her voice actress dying. She doesn't appear in a speaking role or even in a background role, though fan theories exist that she's in the movie somewhere. The fan consensus is Sarabi died somewhere during Kiara's youth.
    • When it comes to humanized versions of the characters, artists usually take two different routes: They either base them off the Broadway musical designs or they make them Shakespearean and European looking.
  • The Princess and the Frog
    • Despite (or because of) the fact he's from a fictional country, many fans still throw Fan Wank fits over Prince Naveen's "real" ethnicity — namely, whether he was closer to Mediterranean or Middle Eastern and/or Indian on the sliding scale of Ambiguous Brownness. That is until some people picked up on a throwaway line in "Friends on the Other Side" ("You come from two long lines of royalty") and ran with it. The final conclusion? He's all of them.
    • There's also the matter of Tiana being outbid on the restaurant. It has generally become accepted amongst fans that the "other buyer" story was orchestrated by the mill's owners, either with them outright lying or with them getting someone to outbid Tiana's offer. While this does explain why Tiana conveniently is outbid the very day she tells the owners she's ready to purchase the place (and why no "other bidder" gets angry when Tiana has Louis scare them into selling), there's no official explanation for it in-movie.
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • Fan fiction seems to have reached the consensus that a) Toothless is the Last of His Kind and b) Toothless is responsible for accidentally severing Hiccup's foot.
    • A lot of fans believe Astrid and Ruffnut are good friends (some even like to ship them but that's a different matter). While it's a reasonable assumption to make as Ruffnut is the only other named teenage girl living on Berk (hell, except for Valka, Heather and Gothi she's the only other significant female character in the franchise!) there's nothing to indicate that Ruffnut is any closer Astrid than any other member of the gang, beyond the fact that they were paired up for the Zippleback training exercise in the first film.
    • A lot of fans also consider Snotlout to be Hiccup's cousin, the same as he is in the book series. This is despite the fact that, not only is there never any indication of it at any point, there's actually pretty good evidence against it (Snotlout's father in the animation, Spitelout Jorgenson, isn't even the same character as Hiccup's uncle and Snotlout's father from the books, Baggybum the Beerbelly).
    • Before she was revealed to be alive in the sequel, it was common fan interpretation to have Hiccup's mother be dead. Mainly due to complications in child birth or more commonly a dragon attack. The latter being the source of Stoick's hatred of dragons. While there were a couple hints in the movie and in the show to suggest her passing, Stoick's hatred for dragons stemmed from the dragons attacking Berk. Though his wife being taken by a dragon probably didn't help.
  • The Sword in the Stone. Many fans were so saddened by the heartbroken girl squirrel that several fanfics have emerged in which Merlin turns her into a human so she and Arthur can be together. Popular fan names include Hazel and Gwen. These stories are accepted by many as being legitimately Canonical just because they want so much for the poor little thing to have a happy ending.
  • Toy Story:
    • The fandom has it that (SPOILERED for Rule 34) Woody's pull-string is a sort of erogenous zone, since he lacks the necessary parts for sex. And by extension, Jessie as well, as she has a pull-string too.
    • Speaking of Rule 34, the same goes for Buzz and his wings. In Toy Story 2, Buzz's "wing pop" was a quick, one time joke for the grown ups. Fics writers have taken the idea (That Buzz's wings equal boner) and run with it for everything from comedy to kink.
    • Also, unless you ship Buzz/Woody or Woody/Dolly or Woody/Jessie, the figurine of Bo Peep was bought by Bonnie or her mother and is reunited with Woody.
    • Many fans theorize that Andy's mom was Jessie's original owner, Emily. There's no confirmation on this, but it would explain why she let her son keep a pair of toys that all but materialized in her house out of nowhere. note 
    • A similar and not always exclusive theory is that Andy inherited Woody from his father, who is not seen in the films and is assumed to have left or died when Andy was very young. This would explain both why Andy has a toy modeled after a show from the 1950s, and why he's so attached to it. Later confirmed by Word of God, though fic writers are still left to fill in the actual details.
    • If it's not a fic shipping the two of them, Woody and Jessie are often considered brother and sister.
    • Fanart of Bo Peep without her bonnet will usually show her with a tiny blue ribbon in the back of her curls, even though in the films she only had said bonnet off once, and even then we never actually got to see the back of her head.
    • Many fanartists draw Buzz as a blond. In canon it's never even shown what the purple thing on his head is. It could be removable or it could be a part of his head.
  • In Cars fan fiction, the name of the agency Finn and Holley work for is called C.H.R.O.M.E, which is derived from the video game adaption, but the agency's name is never actually stated in the film itself.
  • Rise of the Guardians:
    • Rise Of The Guardians had the issue of Jack's sister's name. Since she was voiced by the same actress who voiced Pippa (one of Jamie's friends) but never named in the actual film, most people thought that Pippa was Jack's sister instead. Since it's now been clarified, the general name used is Emma, although some fic writers will substitute with their own preference.
    • There are also a few theories about Baby Tooth being a reincarnation of Emma, since they have the same beauty mark under their right eyes.
  • Lord Shen, the Big Bad of Kung Fu Panda 2, once had a backstory that involved him being neglected by his parents due to being a sickly albino and left in the care of the Soothsayer, who acted as his nanny. This was ultimately dropped in the final film, but it's rare to find a Shen fanfic that doesn't incorporate it anyway. This is somewhat justified, as the canonical interactions between Shen and the Soothsayer do support this, and there's nothing in the film that really contradicts it either.
  • There's a frequently cited belief that all the Pixar films take place in one universe, due to Pixar themselves having dropped lots of different subtle references, such as the recurrence of the Pizza Planet truck.
  • Disney Animated Canon is often considered to have at least one universe but fans debate on what goes where and even if certain films are in a different continuity.
  • Mirage from The Incredibles being a Super is quite popular, though no one consensus has been decided on what her powers actually are.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Since Honey and GoGo are only known by their nicknames, fans have speculated that their respective real names are Aiko Miyazaki and Leiko Tanaka, much like their comic counterparts. Though this is highly unlikely due to their Race Lift to Latina and Korean.
    • Much of the fanfiction and fanart out there depicts Tadashi as being alive with severe burn scars, but not much more, likely due to his Ensemble Dark Horse status. It's become a joke within the members of the fandom that the movie's canon must have been false. Tadashi's obviously just in some hospital healing, and will definitely be back in the sequel, if there is one.
    • Honey Lemon being a Disney princess, or even being descended from Rapunzel.
    • Hiro is frequently portrayed as claustrophobic, often having this revealed by jerks at the university shoving him in a locker and being discovered by one of the team. If any explanation is given for the phobia, it's usually because Hiro was stuffed in lockers during his high school days or, rarely, because he was in the car when his parents died and got trapped in his car seat
  • Tangled:
    • The unnamed Queen is often named "Primrose" in fanon while the King is "Thomas". Jossed in Tangled Before Ever After. They're named "Arianna" and "Fredric".
    • Rapunzel is cousins with Elsa and Anna of Frozen due to their resemblance. Many fans even believe Elsa's and Anna's parents died on a trip to Corona (either for Rapunzel's wedding or for her return party).
  • Cinderella's real name is traditionally "Ella" in fanworks. Ascended Fanon in the Live-Action Adaptation Cinderella (2015).
  • Inside Out:
    • Due to the fact Riley has both male and female emotions, a good portion of the fandom considers her nonbinary.
    • Riley joining NASA as an adult. This is due to the line "Take her to the moon for me... okay?", said by Bing Bong just before he dies. The idea is that Joy will honor the request and campaigns for Riley to get into a space related career as an eventual goal.
    • Riley's parents' lead emotions being Anger and Sadness, respectively, have caused some fans to hypothesise that, at some point in the past, they suffered from anger management issues (Riley's father) and depression (Riley's mother).
  • Humanized fanart of Judy from Zootopia usually has her with a grey Tomboyish Ponytail.

    Music 
  • Vocaloid: The only things officially canonical are the characters' names, appearances, and voices. Usually. (Some have a couple more minor things, like age and height, while others only have a name and a voice.) Personalities, backstories, relationships, and some characters are pure fanon.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • Fans have generally accepted that Pink, the protagonist of The Wall, was born "Floyd Pinkerton", and that "Pink Floyd" is his stage name. In the original album, he's only referred to as "Pink" and "Mr. Floyd" in two separate moments, but the movie adaptation includes a brief scene where his deceased father's name is given on a memorial plaque as "J.H. Pinkerton", and one of Pink's friends can be heard calling him "Pinky" (a logical nickname for someone with the surname "Pinkerton") in another scene.
    • Though somewhat less unanimous than the above theory, many fans also believe that The Final Cut, Roger Waters' final album with the band, is partially an epilogue/continuation of The Wall. In particular, many have theorized that the titular song, "The Final Cut", is told from Pink's perspective as he contemplates suicide sometime after recovering from his mental breakdown, and that "When the Tigers Broke Free" is about the death of his father. The latter point is supported by the film version of The Wall, which actually includes "When the Tigers Broke" in the soundtrack, but it's unknown if Waters actually wrote the song with Pink in mind.
  • "Fuck You" by Archive is about someones utter disdain for another. Due to a line late in the song most believe it's referring to the singer himself, warping it into a song about severe self-hatred.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Many fans believe that Garfield and Jim Davis's lesser-known second strip, U.S. Acres, take place in the same universe. While this is true on the Garfield and Friends side, it's never been confirmed or debunked in the strips.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theater 
  • Hamlet is a breeding ground for these, due partly to centuries of theatrical interpretation and partly to Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory induced by high school English classes. Thus, for instance, many people take it for granted that Hamlet is genuinely mad instead of faking it.
  • The Little Shop of Horrors fandom often gives Audrey's full name as Audrey Fulquard. This surname is from The Little Shop of Horrors, the B-movie on which the musical is—very loosely—based.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry is a case where Fanon is actually encouraged by the author. Ryūkishi wants the readers to have their own ideas and reach their own conclusions about the plot and the characters. Very few answers about the mysteries are revealed explicitly; but most readers end up acknowledging a certain conclusion (namely that Beatrice, Kanon and Shannon are one and the same) even if the story never outright states it. The manga tends to be a bit more explicit on some aspects though.

    Theme parks 
  • Disney's Haunted Mansion hasn't got any real official backstory so far, although there are just enough clues to make the audience wonder. The Internet has a gigantic amount of theories about the backstory of the Mansion. More recent additions to the Mansion seem to create a "canonical" backstory have raised great protestation from the fans who imagined a backstory as they rode through the attraction.

    Web Original 
  • In Neopets, a popular fanmade Neopian Times piece ("Poor Dr_Death") managed to define everything pertaining to the owners of the pound/adoption center. Most notably, the anonymous Uni was given a name, and nobody has found cause to dispute Dr_Death's characterization as a lovable Deadpan Snarker. (At least, not until his official appearance suddenly became much Lighter and Softer with the rest of the website, but that's another issue.)
  • It's become Fanon in the shipping community that Ask That Guy is The Nostalgia Critic's twin brother and that he lives in his house. And that they're very close.
    • And that The Other Guy is the older, slightly saner brother that the Critic goes to when he needs to lick his wounds.
    • Again with them, any fic that takes place when they were younger calls them Doug and Guy. For common sense purposes really, it'd be silly for their parents to call them "Critic" and "Ask That Guy".
    • Its become Ascended Fanon that they're brothers, as Ask That Guy recently referred to Rob as his brother.
    • Spurred by Ask That Guy's love of his pipe and Doug's penchant for blowjob jokes, Critic being really good at oral has become almost a meme in fics.
    • Also that Dr. Insano's son is named "SOI" (Son Of Insano). And he goes to school.
    • After Kickassia was finished, it's usually accepted that the Critic was exiled to a hotel room and the others had fun on his tab. What tends to happen next is, unfortunately, wishful thinking.
    • Given that an episode was based around married Donnie having a Love Triangle with two men, it's commonly assumed that he wrecked his miserable marriage by having an affair.
  • Red vs. Blue has a lot of these. According to an inordinate number of fans...
    • Wash and CT had a romantic relationship, despite only interacting twice in the show. (In fairness, both times implied they were closer than most Freelancers, but he doesn't even react when she turns traitor... or when the Freelancers attack Charon Industries to capture or kill her. Alternately, Grif/Simmons. While Tucker does make a remark about them being in love, their relationship in the show is pretty much just ordinary Heterosexual Life-Partners.
    • Crunchbite was reincarnated as Junior. There's some evidence for this in the series, but it's far from explicitly said.
    • Epsilon is metastable/rampant. Metastability in the Halo universe is, to borrow a phrase from the forums, a big deal, involving some very obvious and extreme stages. Epsilon hasn't really exhibited any of these (except maybe anger) and it's likely he's not even capable of it (being a fragment, not a full AI), yet it's such a common fan theory that it's often stated as fact, even on This Very Wiki.
    • Carolina's nickname (often given to her by York) is Lina. She's never called anything but Carolina in the show, though, even by York. Alternately, her real name is Carol and she almost always is shown using the gravity hammer, despite using it just twice in the series—pistols or melee are much more part of her fighting style, yet fans have latched onto the grav hammer instead.
    • Sarge was previously an ODST. It is mentioned that Sarge jumped out of ships "during the war", so it's possible, but again, it's far from confirmed.
    • Character appearances have been pretty well cemented by Luke McKay's fan art, leading most people to believe Caboose is a blonde, Grif and Simmons have brown hair, Tex has red hair, Church has black hair and stubble, etc. While Church's appearance has sort of been confirmed (the Director indeed looks like an older, even grumpier Luke McKay Church), some of the others are definitely not correct (Tucker is implied to be black, unlike Luke McKay's white depiction, and Tex is a blonde... or at least the original Allison was).
  • Welcome to Night Vale: Partly as a result of the series suddenly going very viral after a long slow burn, there is a Fanon interpretation of Cecil's appearance that many people mistake for Canonicity—including living tattoos, tentacles, purple eyes, blond hair, tall, slim, some manner of "hipster" clothes which have purple and a tie in them, a Third Eye (which may or may not be a tattoo) and glasses. Canonically, everything we know about Cecil's physical appearance comes from Kevin's non-description of his picture during The Sandstom. Only the tie part is accurate.
    It is a man. He is wearing a tie. He is not tall or short, not thin or fat. He has eyes like mine and a nose like mine, and hair like mine, but I do not think he is me. Maybe it is the smile. Is that a smile? I can’t say.
    • Kevin himself is often depicted as Cecil, but dark-skinned and dark-haired, possibly with glowing tattoos, and inverted colors on his otherwise-identical clothes.
  • RWBY:
    • Lemon fics nearly always depict Pyrrha, of all people, as an aggressive lover. This is probably an extrapolation of the scene where she pins her crush to a tree to, um 'partner' with him.
    • It's common for fans to think Yang's a giant Pungeon Master to make the character Meta Casting for her voice actress Barbara Dunkelman, when she's really only made one pun in two seasons. She also tends to be a lot more pottymouthed and sexually aggressive than she is in canon.
    • Blake will have her cat-like attributes exaggerated in fanworks, like having Yang play with her using cat toys. Even her canon cat-like moments are exaggerated further within the fandom, and RWBY Chibi got in on the fun.
    • Although hinted, it was never confirmed that Team CFVY's Fox is blind. It's a common belief in the fandom.
    • Neo is considered mute by a large portion of fans due to her being completely quiet in all scenes thus far. Possibly Ascended Fanon as of season 3.
    • Some fics give Ruby what basically amounts to Nora's personality, which isn't really what she's like in canon.
    • Penny and Ironwood relationship was given little focus in the series, this led to different interpretations of it for fanfic writers. Most will see Ironwood as a father or mentor like figure for Penny, sometimes as having a similar relationship to Ruby and Qrow.
    • Some fans believe that Qrow, Glynda and even Ironwood have met before joining Ozpin's Inner Circle. This is more common to people who ship Ironwood/Glynda or Ironwood/Qrow, creating a sort of Everyone Went to School Together fanfic.
    • Qrow's drinking, usually Played for Laughs in series, often takes a dramatic turn in fanworks. Fans believe his alcoholism is a device to cope with the disappearance of his sister and the death of his teammate, not to mention the implications that Taiyang broke down after Summer's death.
    • Yang appears as Bi the Way more than any other character in fanworks.
    • Many fanworks portray Blake with a tail despite Word of God being she only has cat ears. Fans assume she just hides it well.
    • In the series, one of the first things we learn about Ruby is that she likes cookies. It's now a struggle to find a fanfic where Ruby's cookie-love isn't more like a drug addiction.(Word of God says her favorite food is actually strawberries.)
  • Awful Hospital gave birth to an entire community founded around roleplaying as Eldritch Abominations, found at Awful Hospital Roleplay Forum
  • It's never outright stated in Matt Santoro's videos, but it's a common fan theory that Hugo, Matt's clone, also has the last name Santoro.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon is a general source of this, mostly because of the gimmick of multiple people being able to control the main character at once. Most stories and personalities of the main character tend to be crafted from whatever incident occurs unervous their influence, and most everybody will have a different interpretation of those two items.
  • Humanoid fanart for Happy Tree Friends always follow the same basic designs. For example, Flippy is always presented as a young man with short green hair wearing an army cap, a black t-shirt, dog tags, and an army jacket. Flaky has long, slightly wavy Messy Hair with dandruff in it and wears a red or white sweater. The fact Flaky is supposed to be androgynous never comes up in fanworks as she looks very feminine.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared:
    • The sketchbook has an Ambiguous Gender but almost the entire fandom considers them female. She is often given the Fan Nickname "Paige", and people usually refer to her as a "notepad" rather than a sketchbook. Her humanized form is a woman with long Multicolored Hair wearing a white dress with red trimmings (and optional designs). Her face is white and her arms are black and inky.
    • Tony has a human design of a man with blue skin with a red stripe on his face, black hair (often with yellow tips), and yellow facial hair. Tony wears formal attire and a bow-tie.
    • Tony and Paige are both portrayed as Cute But Psycho and Ax-Crazy. Whether they get along differs from fan to fan but nevertheless they're usually presented as having a violent relationship.
    • Shrignold doesn't have a concrete fanon design. His human versions often wears a yellow turtleneck, or yellow scarf, though.
    • Colin always wears glasses in his human designs.
  • Fanart for Friendship is Witchcraft always has Pinkie Pie dressed in stereotypical Romani clothing.

Alternative Title(s): Head Canon, Fanons

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