"It probably goes without saying, but just in case, I should point out that these are not plot-forwarding butts. Vin Diesel never says, "Hey, Ludacris, Other Guy, get outta that car and come over here; we need to drive fast cars or those butts are going to explode!" The Rock never pulls over to the side of the road saying, "Damn, they're getting away with all of the car money. I'd be able to catch them, but I'm out of gas, and my car runs on butts." They serve no story function. Just butts for butts' sake." on Fast Five trailer, in the article about Poe's Law and trailers.

Characters in skimpy clothing, or skin-tight clothing, or none at all, under the assumption that it will attract or "reward" viewers. The character is usually female, though fanservice of male characters is actually just as if not more common due to trends like Bishonen Jump Syndrome.

This is not just a fan term, but one used during the production of, and even in the dialogue of, various shows. For example, the end-of-episode previews during the early part of Neon Genesis Evangelion frequently promise "more fanservice."

While the specific term "fanservice" arose from the Anime community, the concept of adding a little titillation to a work is far, far older. When nudity or sexual content is an expected part of a work, it's not fanservice; it's only when the nudity or sex is thrown in "just because" that fanservice becomes a part of the narrative. For example, nudity in a pornographic movie would not qualify, while Sharon Stone's infamous "beaver shot" in Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct would. Real fanservice is seldom explicit or graphic — that is the territory of pornography. Instead it is primarily there to "add a little extra" by teasing and titillating the audience.

Some shows may have designated fanservice characters; characters who, even if they are main characters and have a role beyond fanservice, can always be found in a fanservice situation. Some shows have characters for both male and female fanservice. Exactly how much fanservice makes its way into a series can depend on what channel a show is broadcast on, but with the advent of series on DVD, this can be subverted with liberal application of Censor Steam.

While some fanservice can increase the appeal of a show, too much fanservice can become very distracting and in some cases, put viewers off completely, especially if the fanservice is directed towards the opposite sex. However, since fanservice can lure in viewers so easily, fanservice has become a common trend in anime, to the point where it is incredibly difficult to find an anime without any fanservice. At the other end of the spectrum, Crossing the Line Twice hard it may be, can also occur at some point thus using the fanservice for the advancement of the plot itself. Negima! is a mild example of this, while something like Strike Witches goes further and Seikon No Qwaser may be the definite example of the phenomenon.

Very hard to subvert or even lampshade hang — the former is usually disturbing and the latter is...well, just fanservice with a joke attached. You might as well have the person wearing nothing but a lampshade.

Fanservice of female characters is often called "cheesecake"; fanservice of male characters is often called "beefcake". Ho Yay fanservice directed at the LGBT Fanbase or Yaoi Fangirl also exists in quite a lot of media (within the Visual Kei subgenre of music, for example, "fanservice" and Ho Yay are almost synonymous due to bands being almost Always Male, and an above usual population of bisexuals early on followed up by the recognition of the Yaoi Fangirl as one of the primary audiences)

"Fanservice" is sometimes used in a more general way, referring simply to any crowd-pleaser thrown in just because. When this is something non-sexual, like needlessly flashy attacks in a Humongous Mecha show, long guitar/bass/drum solos in a concert, or throwing in lots of obscure continuity references in a long-running work, it's Pandering to the Base. Sexy fanservice is considered the default form, because it is everywhere, and it's easy to add to any kind of show.

Fan service before the 1990's possibly hit harder with viewers than it does today. Before the Internet made porn accessible to the masses a little fan service would eke out more ticket or item sales. It still has that effect today, but not to the same level.

Sex Is Interesting is what happens when a writer tries to rationalize this in terms of narrative craft. Attempts to increase the overall amount of sexual content in a series fall under Hotter and Sexier; a similar process but for more violent content is Bloodier and Gorier. Contrast Darker and Edgier.

Not to be confused with Fan Flattering.

A Sub-Trope of Sex Sells. See also Fanservice Costumes, Nudity Tropes, Partial Nudity Tropes, and Rule of Sexy.

A Super Trope to

Alternative Title(s):

Playing To The Fetishes, Fanservice Tropes