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Running the Asylum
You could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction.

Any sufficiently advanced franchise is indistinguishable from fan fiction.

When a franchise expands into a Long Runner, themes, ideas, and interpretations will inevitably start being lifted from the fanbase. And when a fictional franchise has lasted long enough to induct its fandom into the ranks of its professional creators, the same devotion that produces Fan Fic will inevitably emerge in the "canon" material.

Basically, the "inmates" take over the asylum. Sometimes this leads to good things and produces some damned good stories, but other times, the same kinds of motivations and factors that lead to the creation of bad fanfic come into play, to the detriment of the series in general. Sometimes some editors are on hand to curb the worst of it, but other times, things just go off the rails.

Note that Tropes Are Not Bad still applies here, even though it's trivia.

See also Ascended Fanon, Ascended Fanfic, Promoted Fanboy.

Not to be confused with the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether" or the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, in which the inmates really do run the asylum. Or with The Asylum, a film studio specializing in Mockbusters.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • This happens so often in superhero comics that both The DCU and Marvel have their own sections on the Dork Age page.
  • The DCU has been a prime example since the 1970s, at least, when Roy Thomas got handed an entire Earth of his own, to play around with all of the familiar tropes of Fan Fic.
    • Even before then, Jim Shooter began submitting his own layouts and scripts for DC's Adventure Comics in 1966 at the age of thirteen, writing stories for the Legion of Super-Heroes, of which he was a fan.
    • Volume 4 Legion of Super-Heroes comics was infamous for this. Many consider Volume 4 to be the worst, with elements like Element Lad's girlfriend becoming a stalker with a sex change (some fans considered him to be gay), Lightning Lad revealing to be the Alien Scrappy and Team Pet Proty that revived him 25 years before, and the teenage clones that might not have been clones... The next group of writers to take over considered themselves forced to perform the first complete Continuity Reboot of the Legion ever (not even Crisis on Infinite Earths could do that), wiping out all previous history and fan elements. And just to show how much of a Broken Base the fandom is, the people who liked Volume 4 accused that next group of being the ones doing this.
    • Who exactly is Batman's one and only true love? Depends on the author's favorite. Talia al'Ghul is either a near-lunatic woman who raped Batman, a criminal mastermind who happens to have a thing for him and a child by him, or his one and only love who happens to be the daughter of one of his greatest enemies. Catwoman has nearly the same spectrum, from pure enemy to ally when convenient to true love.
  • The primary architects of the Modern DCU, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison all are clearly fans of the Silver Age and made it their mission to bring aspects of that era back into the zeitgeist and retcon just about everything that happened in the DCU since Crisis on Infinite Earths. This includes:
    • Bringing back the Multiverse with Infinite Crisis and 52.
    • Returning Kryptonite to its multiple colored forms and the various effects it has on Superman.
    • Bringing back the original Supergirl—with a possible Take That at the previous writing/editing team by killing off Harbinger in the miniseries that restored Supergirl (Supergirl was killed and Harbinger introduced in the first Crisis.)
    • Returning Power Girl to being Kara Zor-El from Earth-2 instead of the princess of Atlantis.
    • Giving Wonder Woman the Diana Prince secret identity again as a secret agent based in Washington DC (much like the 1970's TV series) and restoring the Amazons to a monarchy under a revived Queen Hippolyta.
    • Retconning Emerald Twilight with Green Lantern: Rebirth, reviving Hal Jordan and revealing that Sinestro and an intergalactic fear bug were responsible for Hal becoming Parallax. Of course, even the writer of Emerald Twilight admitted this was a good move...
    • Reviving Barry Allen in Final Crisis — this one wasn't met as well with fans since they had long accepted Barry's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • While not related to Crisis, Geoff Johns also retconned Superboy into becoming the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor in Teen Titans — which was foreshadowed by a fan letter sent into Superboy's old book... by one "Geoffrey Johns".
    • Dan DiDio has even gone so far as to brag about his fanboy aspects, saying in a DC Nation column about how he only took on the job to bring back Hal and Barry, saying that current readers "couldn't understand" what great characters they were. In the foreword to the Superman/Batman trade that brought back Supergirl, it's written that the decision was made from DiDio seeing a Six Flags ride that described one of the other Supergirl's backstory and DiDio simply deciding that wasn't right.
    • And now they've taken it even further with The New 52, removing numerous characters from continuity and retconning stories that were created post-Crisis. More than anything, there's retconning Wonder Woman from being an immaculate birth to the biological daughter of Zeus and Cassie Sandsmark to being Zeus' granddaughter. Other characters are no longer in existence, like Wally West and fellow speedsters Max Mercury and Jessie Quick, Donna Troy, and most notably, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown while restoring Barbara Gordon to being Batgirl and reverting her to her Pre-Crisis backstory (Commissioner Gordon's biological daughter and a Wide-Eyed Idealist of sorts rather than his adopted niece with a cynical outlook due to her first hand experience with Joker). note  Overall, it seems more or less clear that someone high in DC's editorial who got control during the mid 00s has some serious issues specifically with characters introduced post-Crisis that replaced the superheroes of the Silver Age (provided they were DC characters at that time, which is probably why Jaime Reyes remains Blue Beetle and Ted Kord also is so far nowhere to be found). Though there are hints now that Donna will eventually appear in the New 52, and Stephanie Brown has returned, and Wally is set to appear in 2014.
  • There is a joke amongst comics forums (and this wiki) that someday fans, unsatisfied with the re-emergence of Silver Age aspects, will become DC writers and set things "right" by "putting things back the way they used to be before all this Asylum Running", which basically translates to "Someday new writers will run the asylum so that instead of the Silver Age, it will be Dark Age instead."
    • Curiously, some of this seems to have been undone by the New 52. Kendra Saunders is Hawkgirl, on Earth 2, Jason Rusch is still a Firestorm, and so on.
  • From the way he writes ultimate showdowns of ultimate destiny, it's apparent that Frank Miller likes Batman but not any of DC Comics' other heroes.
  • A particularly divisive example of this is Crisis on Infinite Earths itself. Some years after everything went down, it came to light that Marv Wolfman, the man who'd come up with the idea (which the DC execs then signed off on), had been fomenting the essential idea behind Crisis for a long time... that is to say, ever since he was ten years old. This has sparked all kinds of accusations, most of them concerning the idea that the entire DC Universe was allowed to be the plaything of one man's childhood fantasies. This revelation (and the incredible bad blood it sparked between Wolfman and Thomas, whose own "playground" was removed from existence and relevance utterly) is what essentially sparked the "my continuity is best" attitude at DC, which is still felt to this day.
  • Marvel Comics got into this a bit slower (they started five years later) but is definitely there. Stuff like Avengers Forever is sometimes referred to as "Continuity Porn".
    • One More Day is a particularly loathed example of Running the Asylum, with editor in chief Joe Quesada being twenty-four when Spider-Man got married and hating that Spidey got changed from when he was a kid. Apparently everyone else who has read and enjoyed Spider-Man within the past twenty years don't count as real fans, since they want the case to be "Spidey grows old and dies off". That was a direct quote from Quesada.
      • And he ordered Jean Grey Killed Off for Real and prevents writers from bringing her back. And from some of his own words, including his thoughts that she didn't do anything of merit since saving the universe, Cyclops is "more interesting" without her.
      • Hank Pym was made into a widower widower, after killing off his wife, claiming he's also "more interesting" without her. This backfired though, as the Wasp is now back and Pym has been stripped of the Ant-Man identity in favor of Scott Lang, who is the Ant-Man that will be starring in the movie (though Pym is still present as the inventor of Lang's gear).
      • Quesada seems to have some major issues with wives (but not with moms, which is why Invisible Woman, Jessica Jones, and the Spider-Girl continuity's version of Mary Jane are spared).
      • Really, just take a look at his own page.
  • Arguably, the famous "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is a result of this. "Arguably" because there are a number of theories about it.
    • Gerry Conway was a Promoted Fanboy, who didn't care for Gwen and thought Peter should hook up with Mary Jane. So he basically had Gwen die for his ship.
    • Gwen was killed off because Conway wanted to kill off Aunt May, but the editors wouldn't let him, and told him to kill off Gwen instead. Its not confirmed if it was indeed a case of him personally proffering Mary Jane.
    • A graphic novel compilation of the original Clone Saga says the idea of killing Gwen Stacy was already bandied about when he became the writer, he was simply the guy who executed it. He admits that he thought Mary Jane was a better love interest for Peter, but more the point, felt that the death of beloved Gwen Stacy would be another defining moment for a character defined by tragedy. As he says, "tragedy and pathos are meat and potatoes to a guy like me."
  • Cyclops is often a victim of this trope too. While he's never been the most popular X-Man, the main reason for those who dislike him stems from the way he was written back into the comics after leaving to be with his new wife and son. Because of a writer who was a fan of the original five, Cyclops and Jean were returned and reunited, but while it wasn't NEARLY as cut and dry as many remember it, it basically involved Scott leaving and through a series of convoluted events was unable to find his wife and son, believed them dead, and so resumed a relationship with Jean. Because of THAT, there's many people who now hate him, and it affected how he was written. Some writers deliberately write him as unlikable because they dislike him, and because of others reading him like that, its caused his character to be degenerated quite a bit by some writers.
  • While we're at it, lets consider Wolverine's ridiculous Power Creep, Power Seep over the years—his Healing Factor going from a simple neck wound being potentially lethal to coming back from being burned down to his adamantium bones—and consider that this is what happens when childhood fans join up and power-boost their favorite character.
  • For both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, you can identify the age of many writers by checking what characters are their favorites, assuming they were last famous when the writers were between 12 and 16, and doing the math.
    • Brad Meltzer: Vixen, Red Tornado, Dr. Light.
    • Robert Kirkman: Onslaught, Cable, Stryfe. Dragon Ball Z also has a distinct influence on Invincible.
    • Geoff Johns: mid-1980's Roy Thomas & Alan Moore work for DC.
    • Ed Brubaker has said many times in interviews that the first two comics he bought with his own money were Iron Fist and an issue of Captain America featuring the Evil 50s Cap as a villain; in his later career, he revived Iron Fist in a new solo title and, while writing Captain America's solo title, brought back Evil 50s Cap. Both these runs are widely acclaimed, so this is one of the good examples.
      • He also has said that one of the few issues he still has from his youth is one of Steranko's, when Cap "died" for the first time. Not only has he based his entire 50+ issue run on the three Steranko issues, he also "killed" off Cap—to much critical and fan acclaim. Brubaker's just that good.
  • Jeph Loeb has been pretty apparent for this with his Superman/Batman series and the "Hush" arc of Batman (putting characters in with no explanation).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is now being written by Ian "The Potto" Flynn, a somewhat well known fan of the series, who was even writing his own Sonic fan comic ("Other M") prior to being picked up by Archie. This has been met with a mixed reception that largely depends on where on the Internet you go; of course, this is the Sonic fandom. Some complaints include ignorance of canon, derailing several characters, some of which to preserve certain relationships (namely Sonic and Sally's). Some things he's gotten a more positive response for however have been his killing off very unpopular characters, rewriting bad stories, cleaning up unresolved plot points, and offering other related fanservice to the fanbase. One of his most notable contributions has been citing a lot of Sonic Internet memes and other memorable lines from various Sonic media.
  • Transformers comics suffered from this during their revival by the now-defunct Dreamwave Comics. Under Dreamwave, plots tended to be either simple or vague while the authors took time to work in explanations for the toys with rub signs and rampant Easter Eggs that contributed nothing to the story. It didn't help that they essentially just built off the old kid's cartoon from the 80s.
  • Reginald Hudlin is a fan of Black Panther. After he started to write his adventures, T'Challa was turned into a God-Mode Sue, Wakanda into Mary Suetopia, and Storm from X-Men married BP and have everybody near him carry Idiot Balls.
  • In Daredevil's case, it seems like all the best writers that get their hands on him (including Ann Nocenti, Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker) are fans of Frank Miller's run and just like him are trying to make Matt's life as miserable as possible. Fans don't mind.
  • Artist example: ask Lenili Yu to draw a scene with multiple superheroes, or large battle with them. Possibility that you can find his beloved character, Howard the Duck, in it, even if he wasn't mentioned on the character's list, equals 100%.
  • ElfQuest became almost entirely run by fans after the first few storylines, and the original creators (Wendy and Richard Pini) never seemed to particularly care about the quality of the new art or writing - but still declared all of it canon. Some of the fan-made comics were seriously great. Most of them are not. Examples:
    • Kahvi is Two-Spear's daughter, and magically got amnesia after she fell into a magic pool, and all of the Go-Backs are "cleansed" Wolfriders who apparently forgot to tell Kahvi or their own children or anyone at all about their heritage. Kahvi learns about this from Egg, who was rescued by Two-Edge, and Egg gets a snake for a bracelet. Also, Kahvi desires Cutter to an unhealthy level, so she tries to kidnap him and almost succeeds because all of the elves are suddenly on the wrong continent for no apparent reason. And Tyldak does slapstick.
    • When he was a kid, Cutter was a slave for the trolls for a full year, and yet he doesn't know what the caverns he lived in looked like. The reason? They made him wear a blindfold.
    • When he was a kid, Skywise met Timmain...and then he forgot about it again.
    • There's this really tall white-haired elf in the future named Jinx who has a lot of sex with humans and talks to reptilian aliens and can teleport.
  • In an interview with Comic Heroes, a British comics industry magazine, Alan Moore essentially said he despised this trope, and blamed it for many of the reasons comics have the reputation they do today. He also said he may retire from the industry due to this trope, but given he's still working on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it doesn't seem to have occurred yet. Given that nearly all of his best-known works, including League, are based on someone else's creations, there is some small hint of irony in his comments.
  • This is true of The Beano and The Dandy with many of those working on the comic having read the comic as children. Seeing as the comic started in the 1930s this was true even in the early days with one of the co-creators of Dennis the Menace (UK) having even read The Beano as a child .
  • The writer of Amazing Spider-Man Dan Slott has been a rather contentious example of this. Being a self-professed Spider-Man fanboy, his run post-BND has brought critical acclaim to the series, shooting the franchise up the sales charts mirroring the success of JMS's previous run. With that said, Slott has also developed quite the reputation with his detractors, arguing with his critics on message boards and even goes as far as make jabs in the comic itself.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Both Andy Price and Katie Cook had plenty of G4 fanart on their deviantART pages before the series was announced, and Katie has said she was a fan of the original G1 series. This leads to such things as Derpy being featured prominently and being fond of muffins, “flank” being used as a synonym for “butt,” etc. Amy Mebberson, Heather Nuhfer, and Heather Breckel were also all big fans before working on the comic. Pretty much everyone involved is a brony/pegasister!
  • The unusually violent and overdramatic "Home Schooling" arc of Runaways, in which Old Lace appears to die, Klara Prast is transformed from a relatively inoffensive Cousin Oliver into an annoying brat with uncontrolled powers that threaten to destroy the team, and Gertrude Yorkes suddenly reappears out of nowhere, starts to make sense in some sick way when you read series editor Nick Lowe's comments announcing the run, where he promotes the arc as being the best one since the one where Gertrude Yorkes died. One might surmise that Lowe was one of those fans who subscribed to the theory that Klara was a Replacement Scrappy for Gert. Unfortunately for all Runaways fans, Marvel apparently realized that the inmates had taken over the asylum and decided to shut it down more or less permanently. It's been "on hiatus" for over four years, as of 2013.

    Film 
  • Star Wars as well; a lot of Expanded Universe writers started turning their favorite characters into Mary Sues or The Woobie, or otherwise derailing characters to fit their own fantasies. Popular targets in Star Wars include Luke, Mara, Boba Fett, and, for some reason, Talon Karrde. Note that Mara and Karrde are ironically Expanded Universe characters themselves — that is, they're fan-created characters who became popular enough to be derailed by other fans.
    • Dr. Curtis Saxton became a technical adviser for the prequels and wrote the Incredible Cross-Sections supplemental books for Episodes II & III entirely because of the impressive detail of his website, "The Star Wars Technical Commentaries". Of course, it probably helps in not only having a PhD in astrophysics, but also in that his doctorate thesis paper was essentially Version 1.0 of his website. However, he has received criticism that his works on the Incredible Cross Sections don't really match up what we see on screen, and in fact overshoot them by several orders of magnitude. His more visceral critics flat out accuse him of trying to rewrite Star Wars to win the online vs. debate.
  • The Resident Evil movies are not canon, but whatever canon characters that appear ending up playing second fiddle to the Mary Sue protagonist, played by the writer-director's love interest. A blink-and-miss newspaper clip of an 'Officer Kennedy' being shot and killed, in any other series, it'd be a joke, but just infuriating when it's clear no one could steal Miss Sue's spotlight.
    • Since the series is up to its sixth(!) entry, it's all been confirmed that the only canon R.E. character to get any real dignity next to Alice is Albert Wesker, the Big Bad of the series. Recent entries into the games also affect the movies as well, such as the Plagas and elements from Resident Evil 5 being introduced in a setting that never brought them up. Any canon character who is lucky enough to come back after the film they were introduced in still finds themselves without a point, even the games' most popular character Leon S. Kennedy, who somehow must have survived that fatal shooting...
  • The timeframe is relatively small, but the Death Note movies arguably fell victim to this. In the film universe, the fan favorite L has a much firmer grip on the plot and greater impact on the ending. Then there's the entire original sequel in which L acts out various scenarios which seem to exist solely to fit the format "wouldn't it be awesome if L saved/met/ate/rode around in a _____?"
  • Superman Returns is a textbook example. Bryan Singer, having turned the extremely convoluted, Space Opera-esque X-Men universe into two down-to-earth, accessible and critically acclaimed hits, was hired on the assumption that he'd do the same with Superman. The problem was that Singer was initially not an X-Men fan at all, and thus understood what other non-fans (i.e. millions of movie-goers) would find compelling about the source material and made the movies around that stuff. Superman: The Movie, on the other hand, was his one of his favorite films, and thus the franchise-making blockbuster he was entrusted to deliver wound up as some sort of vague sequel to films that came out 30 years earlier PACKED with dozens of quotes and forced homages to said films in lieu of new material, and a bizarre plot featuring Superman as the absentee father of a maybe-half-Kryptonian child which Lois might not remember conceiving depending on whether or not he erased her memory of their affair from either version of Superman II, prior to the events this film, which they don't explain. It did not go over well, and a reboot began just seven years after Returns came out.
  • Whit Anderson, the writer for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Continuity Reboot, is a fan of the Joss Whedon series who was the same age as Buffy when the show was first running.
  • When Nicholas Meyer heard that Sulu's first name in the Star Trek books was given as "Hikaru," he liked it so much he had Sulu use it in his Captain's Log for the USS Excelsior in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, thus cementing it as part of the Star Trek Universe.
    • This later happened to Uhura, whose first name was never given in canon until the 2009 movie revisited her character. "Nyota" was chosen out of several competing names from the Expanded Universe.
  • The Horror film genre itself has been accused of this. In the sense that it's keeping all the divisive tropes around because they think it's the norm for the genre.

    Literature 
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series now consists almost entirely of puns and plot coupons taken from reader fan mail. He even gives credits in his Author's Note at the end of each book for each reader suggestion he decided to use.
    • The series has been like this since at least the 4th book — and he's up to the 34th now. It's a shame, as Anthony has demonstrated his writing skills in numerous other series, but it may say something about the potential audience that the Xanth books have always been his most popular.
      • The frustrating part is that Anthony tried Growing the Beard with the Xanth books around the mid teens and it worked for a few books. Then around book 20, he seemed to give up trying to write stories, and just strung the thousands of puns he's sent together and called them books. It's likely he realized that coming up with some characters and a plot outline and having the characters 1) meet someone new every chapter, 2) do a full round of introductions and a story recap to that new person, and 3) just wandering from reader-submitted pun to reader-submitted pun in between was a much easier way to meet his word count and get his paycheck than bothering to write a story.
  • H.P. Lovecraft went off and encouraged fans of his work to do this. In fact, he read most of his fanfiction, and on a few occasions even expanded off his fanfiction. Albeit, this was around eighty years ago and his fanbase was relatively small, so most of his fanfiction came from respectable authors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Classic series: Matthew Waterhouse, a literal card-carrying fan (he belonged to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, the biggest Who fan club in the world) got cast as The Scrappy, Adric. Around the same time another fan, Andrew Smith, had a script accepted. A few years later überfan Ian Levine co-wrote a (not-very-well-received) script for "Attack of the Cybermen" (as well as writing the music for K-9 Company, a Spin-Off that died at pilot stage). In the late '80's, Andrew Cartmel, a young and inexperienced, if wry, writer who got the gig of Script Editor just by applying. The result was three years of retcons, postmodern commentary both on the show itself and its fanbase, and the most convoluted storylines ever. Opinions are deeply divided on this era. To some extent, though, it's never really gone away. Technically, though Cartmel had more of an interest in Comic Books, particularly the work of Alan Moore than in Doctor Who. However, two of his writers, Marc Platt and Ben Aaronovitch, did consider themselves fans (only because Ben didn't really know what a 'fan' was), the former having contributed articles to the fanzines of the day, the latter contributing two very "fannish" stories. Behind the scenes, the three of them also came up with the "Cartmel Masterplan", a secret backstory retcon of the Doctor's history, which never quite found its way to the screen.
    • In the 1980s then-unknown Nicholas Briggs and some other fans created an audio series called the Doctor Who Audio Visuals. They eventually went pro, founded the official audio series Big Finish Doctor Who, and adapted many of their old Fan Fic stories into radio episodes proper, which are still ongoing with Briggs as the Show Runner. Nicholas Briggs also managed to cast many of the Doctors and their companions in his unrelated TV and film works, and currently voices the Daleks and the Cybermen in the TV show.
    • The new series has this from the get-go; Russell T Davies, naturally, was a huge fan. Current showrunner Steven Moffat is also an überfan. The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, has even stated in interviews that wanting to play the Doctor is what led to his choice of acting when he was young.
      • Peter Capaldi is also a huge fan, and upon taking the role of the twelfth regeneration of The Doctor, has already been arguing with Moffat over problems with the scripts.
    • Going by the Appreciation Index for certain episodes from both writers, this may not have been bad for the new series.
      • And don't forget the hat-trick of Hugo Awards that Moffat has won. He has consistently written episodes that are not only great episodes of Doctor Who but great episodes of TV and Science Fiction in general.
      • Moreso when you remember the 1999 Children In Need Special (fanfiction if anything is) starring Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Grant as The Doctor, was written by that same Steven Moffat.
    • As Doctor Who has been on the air more or less continuously for half a century and has been one of the consistently most popular shows in Britain for that entire time (minus a decade or so), pretty much the only way to avoid having fans running the show is to deliberately select people who hate the show. Or who have spent the last fifty years in a barn.
  • Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss of Sherlock freely and frequently describe themselves as Arthur Conan Doyle fanboys, which has led to a lot of in jokes and Shout Outs to the original stories in the show. On the whole, both new fans and old Conan Doyle purists quite liked it.
  • Star Trek
    • Paramount and Pocket Books encourage fan-fic writers to aim for more legit careers with the annual Strange New Worlds short story competition.
    • Season 4 of Enterprise merits special mention here. The producers of every modern Trek show have been fans, but S4 showrunner Manny Coto was a fanboy, and the season he created was the sort of Continuity Porn you either love or hate.
    • Arguably all of Enterprise, which deliberately harked back to the Original Series (both in time frame and in the less than ensemble cast) alienating fans who started watching during The Next Generation.
    • In The Next Generation, Ronald D. Moore became a promoted fanboy entirely by chance when his then-girlfriend (who also happened to be a set dresser for the show) gave him a tour of the studio and he had an opportunity to present the producers a fanscript he had written. Not only did the fanscript become an actual episode, "The Bonding," but Moore became one of the largest contributing writers of both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, wrote many of the best episodes of both series (often collaborating with other talented writers who had different styles, such as the Mind Screw-loving Brannon Braga and "anti-fanboy" Ira Steven Behr). Moore later created a series of his own: Battlestar Galactica. Needless to say, he seems to be an especially talented "promoted fanboy."
    • Apparently, J.J. Abrams was chosen to be the creator of the new movie because he was only a casual fan of the series. Similarly, Gene Roddenberry is said to have encouraged Next Generation writers not to catch up on the original series; he didn't want the new show trying to imitate the old.
      • While Abrams was admittedly a casual fan, his colleagues and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are themselves admitted fanboys.
    • This admittedly pro-Star Wars fan illustrates a theory of how this might have happened to Star Trek canon.
      • And in case anyone still thinks "Asylum" is too strong a word, this article exposes a downright schizoid trend of growing strange stuff out of initially innocuous details.
    • Even the original Star Trek had some of this. Although Roddenberry initially hired professional science fiction authors to write a lot of the early stories, several fan scripts were accepted and produced in the second and third seasons; among them "The Trouble with Tribbles", "The Empath" and "The Lights of Zetar". "Who Will Guide the Blind" by Judy Burns and "Remote Control" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg are well-known fan scripts which their authors would have submitted for a fourth season if there had been one.
  • Power Rangers has fans, too. The tenth anniversary season, Power Rangers Wild Force, promoted long-time fan Amit Bhaumik to head writer status. Reactions are split: the season itself is considered abysmal, but that had just as much to do with the cast and showrunner Jonathan Tzachornote ; a mentality that led to previous head writer Judd Lynn quitting at the end of Power Rangers Time Force. as the writing staff or anything else. On the other hand, there are the two (completely original) team-up specials. The traditional previous/current season cross is considered one of the best the franchise has to offer, as not only does it bring back a very popular cast, it also provides closure for the season's villains, manages to integrate the two teams almost seamlessly, and even provides some Ship Tease: not only could Jen and Wes have a happier ending than previously thought, but so could TF's Eric and WF's Taylor. Meanwhile, the tenth anniversary special, despite being a banned topic on many message boards and ripping open plot hole upon plot hole, is still plenty entertaining, between the various continuity nods and well-choreographed fight scenes. Notably, it also features a reference to a fan hoax known as "Scorpion Rain," which Bhaumik helped perpetuate; he noted that he wrote "Forever Red" as if "Scorpion Rain" was in continuity. See the fanon page for details.
  • The whole Stargate franchise, sort of. Some of the people working on it apparently hung out on fan forums and possibly got a lot of ideas there. There were even episodes with alternate universes or time lines in order to throw in some popular relationships or events that don't fit into the normal storyline (most of the characters in SG-1 were in the air force and so could not have romantic relationships). Also fans pointing out mistakes caused things to get changed, such as the steps of the gate room in Atlantis, which displayed Ancient writing with some lines out of order and upside down. It turns out they had already been fixed, but were "fixed" again in response to forum threads and ended up having to be rearranged some more. Who knows if they ever got it right. But after the fans started figuring out how to read the alien text, the art people started hiding messages. This may be more like Pandering to the Base, except that they were in direct contact with the fan community.
  • Several episodes of the 6th season of Xena: Warrior Princess were written by a (critically acclaimed) fanfic writer who was approached by the creators of the show and asked to write a bunch of episodes.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A rare example from the funny papers. Jeff MacNelly originally drew and wrote Pluggers himself, but after readers began submitting gags, he changed the strip so that all of the gags were submitted by readers. The trend continued when MacNelly handed the strip over to Gary Brookins in 1997. (After MacNelly died in 2000, Brookins and Chris Cassatt took over on his other strip, Shoe.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • ECW, from Paul "Drinking the Kool-Aid" Heyman, to Promoted Fanboy "Loose Cannon of Commentary" Joey Styles. (Although Heyman is generally regarded as a good booker... just a terrible businessman, and Styles is considered a fine commentator, if one with a reputation of not wanting to play ball with the WWE (however justifiably)).

     Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted does this religiously; multiple current writers for the line got their start creating fan works on the official forums.
    • In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, the main block of them (the Ink Monkeys) are often liked more than the original, professional authors. (Though not universally, of course - fanbases always split.)
    • And for the culmination of the trope, they composed the team that patched up balance issues of the Second Edition (known as "Exalted 2.5") and are now involved in writing the whole new Third Edition.
  • Dungeons & Dragons had several reasons for this even aside of House Rules tradition meeting Internet communities. "3rd party" supplements having little to do with established canon on any issue are okay and in D&D3 era even inevitable (due to OGL). Development for settings dropped while switching to new editions was taken over by fan communities, as some sort of Abandonware. And the new generation of designers ran free even through WotC/Hasbro sourcebooks supposed to be canon. A good thing for uncharted areas, but all too often it wasn't expansion, but walking over established parts so obliviously you almost hear "Squee!" from the page. Things could go smoother if this didn't coincide with the time when focus shifted from modelling specific settings to expanding universal rules, for fan enthusiasm knows no limits.
    • Much of the Arthaus product line for the Ravenloft D&D setting was authored by former members of the Kargatane, a team of fans responsible for Ravenloft-fandom's first major website, netbooks, and fanzine.
    • Dark Sun and Spelljammer were taken by their respective online fan communities, expanded and d20-adapted.
    • Kobolds' draconic upgrade. Uncalled for, since they already had their cozy little niche and in hands of a good GM were viable or even dangerous.
    • The great shoehorning epidemy. Symptoms: a new feature is accompanied by instructions how to stick it everywhere, whether the target has a place for it or not. During the outbreak it was a safe bet that a new "Pearl Diver" class will contain the ways to use it in every existing setting... even desert ones.
    • Variety of stuff, sometimes weird, fans of other works bring in whether it makes sense — as in, "we need some huge space monsters in Spelljammer, let's add a giant turtle with a wink to Gamera — and where it doesn't — as in...
      • Magic of Incarnum? Fans noticed exactly what it was about.
      • When the new generation of developers sometimes can't even make up a good name, we have books named after artifacts from earlier editions, or something like this Dragon: Sin Eaters of Eilistraee (from one of Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations authors). Nope, not an April issue.
  • Magic: The Gathering turned this trope into a point of prestige. Fans that are good enough to win the Worldwide Invitational are able to design a card for a future set, some of which turn out to be quite good.
  • This is the entire point of Legend of the Five Rings. Winning (and, sometimes, losing) Tournaments has explicit story consequences that range from choosing a bride for a particular character, to choosing who gets to be the new Emperor. This has varying effects on the story's quality based on whether the tournament winner cares much about narrative consistency, or just wants to annoy the writers.
    • In one infamous case, an entire story arc was derailed by the Honorable Dragon Movement, a group of players who refused to play corrupted decks in an era when the Dragon could basically only win by massive levels of corruption. This ended up turning Hitomi from the Big Bad of the arc into one of the greatest heroes in the Empire's history, in a way many found dissatisfying. As a side bonus, she ended up becoming the Moon.
    • The end of the Clan War was decided when the last two players in a tournament went to the tournament's storyline man and said that they wanted to team up to fight the Shadow instead of fighting each other. He promptly rolled with it.

    Toys 
  • There are quite a few LEGO set designers, PR workers and other staff who started out as prolific members of LEGO's large Periphery Demographic. General consensus is that modern set design is for the most part so much the better for it, and it certainly contributes nicely to LEGO's extensive efforts to keep involved with the fandom and its events.

    Video Games 
  • Painkiller: Overdose was originally developed as a fanmade mod to the original game before the publishers of the original game, Dreamcatcher, decided to give the team funding to spin the mod into a full release to score a fast buck. The results show all too well.
  • NeverSoft were Big Name Fans of the Guitar Hero series prior to Harmonix's departure. After Harmonix left, they took over the series and made a lot of questionable changes to the series including Guitar Hero III's infamous "Guitar Battles", Mission Pack Sequels, Fake Difficulty, Mission Pack Sequels, more Mission Pack Sequels and the death of the series (and plastic instrument video games in general) through market oversaturation of Mission Pack Sequels.
  • Tom Hulett and Simon Lai, the producers of Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS, both admit to being bigger fans of the earlier Contra games for the NES and SNES than the Boss Rush-filled later sequels like Hard Corps and Shattered Soldier, making Contra 4 as a homage to those early installments. Hulett in particular also admits to being a fan of the gag localizations of the early titles instead of the more direct and serious localizations of recent titles, which is why the manual of Contra 4 is written in such a tongue-in-cheek tone similar to Konami's manuals during the NES era and which is why the two new main characters accompanying Bill and Lance are named Mad Dog and Scorpion, which were the nicknames given to Bill and Lance in the early American versions. However, they also retconned the events of Operation C from being a previous mission of Bill Rizer, to being a previous of the "new characters" Mad Dog and Scorpion.
  • This goes all the way back to DOOM - the 'Final DOOM' mission pack, released by ID themselves, was two 'fan' teams creating full episodes. Whether or not this qualifies as this trope, or as Ascended Fanboy, depends on who you ask.
  • The producer of Tales of the Abyss mentioned in a developer interview for the 3DS version that the Tales teams now include fans who had played the early games, and that though their enthusiasm was good, their plot ideas often have to be gently vetoed.
  • Seems to be the entire business model for Telltale Games. Opinions vary, of course, but generally their work receives positive reviews from both critics and fans.
  • The developers of XCOM: Enemy Unknown where big fans of the original X-COM and really wanted to do justice to the franchise. Strangely this was enforced too, allegedly any new comer to the team had to complete the original game before they could start work, leaving fans wondering how the game ever managed to be made.

    Webcomics 
  • Exiern, original creator and writer Drowemos first sold the comic to fan and author Dan Standing. As one of his first acts in charge, Standing invited fans to submit scripts to become the main writers. The first of these main writers to be selected from within the fanbase is Thomas Knapp.
  • Deliberately invoked by Tycho of Penny Arcade with Legends Of The Hierarchs and Song Of The Sorcelator. Tycho invited readers to flesh their wikis out with snippets of hilariously abominable prose.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers has a lot of this, with many current writers and artists for the shows and comics being long-time fans. It's frequently cited as an example of this trope done right as many feel that the franchise has been steadily increasing in quality in recent years.
  • The Simpsons has suffered from this, with new generations of writers who were brought up on and inspired by the more surreal and extreme aspects of the show's humor, focusing on that to the detriment of the characters.
    • Not to mention the fact that it seems a lot of the writers had different views of the characters, leading to skews in personality per episode.
    • It's fairly easy to trace when the show started to be truly run by people who were big fans when they were younger. Once they did, you began to see things like Homer having all the skin completely ripped off his torso, leaving his bones and organs visible, and shrugging it off and going about his business. Things like this made no sense for an episode of the show from early on... but it's exactly like something that would happen in a Treehouse of Horror episode, which were always the most popular and often most rerun episodes of the show. So when fans took over, of course they wanted to write episodes in the style of their favorites all the time instead of waiting for once a year.
    • The first most notable instance of this happening was the hiring of Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. The duo were admitted fans of the series before joining the writing staff in Season 4. They stayed on, rising in the ranks and becoming showrunners for Seasons 7 and 8. Their "back to the family" approach saw a number of low-key, realistic episodes, and they were insistent on staying consistent with the characters (e.g. not making Homer completely stupid or a food monster).
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars got a whole board of writers that were fans with all the references and overly long mythology gags they pack in the show. The most prominent example would be Dave Filoni's favourite character, Plo Koon, which is often mentioned on the SW websites and DVD extras. Other than the overuse of "Bad feeling about this", there is no real difference now that the inmates have control.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a variation on this. Lauren Faust, the main creative force for the show, had a habit of playing with MLP figures when she was a kid and making up her own personalities for them (although those personalities were usually at least to a certain degree based on the characters canonical ones). Said personalities became the basis for the main cast of her show. This wasn't a bad thing, since she took a franchise whose previous animated adaptations were mostly considered lazy commercials to sell toys, and made a show with interesting characters, good writing, and nice animation.
    • Putting your own ideas in a reboot is one thing, but what was the first thing Katie Cook and Andy Price did when they made the comic adaptation? Canonize Derpy’s love for muffins. Also, the characters use lots of brony terminology, like “flank” for “butt.”
  • Ben 10: Omniverse makes use of this, as there are many scripts identical to previous episodes of other iterations, blatantly ignoring some of the most oft-criticized aspects of the previous sequels (or in some cases, ones that break the base), bringing Ben uncomfortably close to his first series incarnation that ignores the maturing of the previous sequels, as well as character designs much closer to the first series. Whether or not you're fine with these is up to personal taste.

    Real Life 
  • To the victor go the history book deals.
  • Every classical historian writing after Thucydides is essentially a promoted fanboy of his who has control over what we know about their world.
  • Just about all we know of the philosopher Socrates is through the writing of his fanboy, Plato. There has been much argument as to how much is really Socrates, and how much was Plato using his dead hero as a mouth puppet. Diogenes of Sinope had some scathing opinions on the subject.

Remix ComicFan WorkRyona
RevivalDerivative WorksSame Story, Different Names
Contest Winner CameoShow BusinessProp Recycling
Ridiculous Future SequelisationSequelSaved for the Sequel
Relationship Writing FumbleCreativity LeashScapegoat Creator
Replacement ScrappyUnexpected Reactions to This IndexThe Scrappy
Ron the Death EaterSturgeon's TropesSadist Show
Rule34 — Creator ReactionsTriviaSaved from Development Hell

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