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Fanfic / Can't Go Home Again

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...But you know what they say: you can't go home again.
Clockwise, from top

Can't Go Home Again is a Web Serial Novel fan-fiction based off the Five Nights at Freddy's franchise, written by Mable and originally uploaded on starting May 22nd, 2016.

A few years following the original five nights, former Freddy's security guard Mike Schmidt inherits from his former boss, Frederick Fazzman, an house, most of his personal belongings, and the rights to the Freddy's franchise itself. What he believed was merely a gift from a much beloved boss quickly turns his life upside down as he, and other former Freddy's workers, begin to investigate into what really happened over the previous decade at the restaurant, including the "Missing Children" incident and why the animatronics truly moved by themselves at night. And then, there's the animatronic that came with the house...

What was, per the author's words, meant to be a twelve chapter affair quickly grew into a full-fledged series, often referred to as the Home series. Can't Go Home Again was completed on May 8th, 2018, reaching its' one-hundreth chapter upon completion. The following month, the first chapter of the second book in the series, Almost Feels Like Home, was uploaded to, with the book reaching its' completion on May 8th, 2020, two years after Can't Go Home Again was first completed, once again on its' one-hundredth chapter.

The third, and current book, Going Home in a Box, saw its' first chapter uploaded on December 1st, 2021, coinciding with the release of Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach. It is currently scheduled to reach its conclusion in 2024, with a fourth book possibly in the works.

During the hiatus between the second and third book, Mable also uploaded the first two books on Archive of Our Own as a series.

Please note: spoilers up to Chapter 75 of the first book are left unmarked.

The Home series contains the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The entire series' events take place in The '90s, flashing back to The '80s at times. Can't Go Home Again's events begun sometimes in early-to-mid 1995, whilst as of Chapter 82 of Going Home In A Box, the Fall of 1999 is approaching.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Whilst Mike and Marionette are immediately established as the deuteragonists, the focus shifts to their friends and family every once in a while, with chapters focusing on Jeremy, Foxy, and later Scott and Ennard not being uncommon.
    • Almost Feels Like Home further expands on this by having more chapters focusing on the rest of the gang and Charlie, her friends, Baby, and Chance thrown into the mix.
    • Going Home In A Box as a whole serves as this, with the narrative focusing a lot more on Foxy, Gregory, the Daycare Attendant and the Glamrocks than Mike and Marionette. Even Fazbear Entertainment's employees get a couple of chapters dedicated to them.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The surviving Freddy's security guards clearly didn't survive their night shifts at Freddy's by just standing idly at a desk. Mike in particular proves himself to be the most adept of the group, taking on Ennard almost by himself on two different occasions, being profusely wounded and bleeding on the first one.
    • Also applies to the animatronics. The most shining examples are Marionette, whose levitation is shown to be full-blown telekinesis with which he's proficient enough to put what remains of the Funtime animatronics out of commission, and Foxy, who manages to keep up with a speeding car for a brief moment.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Remnant does not exist. It is completely possible for anyone to obtain the same results as William Afton by placing an empty, compatible animatronic near a dying person who does not want to move on. Fire still has the same effect on animatronics, as the only thing capable of separating body and soul.
    • The Nightmare animatronics are barely alluded to during Gabriel's final moments as a human, but do not appear. Later Averted come Almost Feels Like Home, as Nightmare Fredbear and Nightmare Springbonnie attack the group under William Afton's commands.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Lumber Bot Maximum, part of the Chipper's exposition, isn't haunted. It is, however, programmed to be hostile to any movement within the theatre during closing hours, and is capable of commandeering the other Chipper's animatronics to do so, who are likewise empty. The one who programmed it to behave that way was William Afton years ago. The Lumber Bot Maximum also sets a distinction between living animatronics, who have souls, and robots, who lack them alongside any form of consciousness or awareness, and follow strict programming directives, which are more often than not violent in nature. The Nightmare animatronics, El Chip's animatronics, and the Pizzaplex's Staff Bots all belong to the second category.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Zigzagged in regards to Hurricane's citizens. They were all well aware of the kids going missing, and some were their own, but most of them did little to try and get to the bottom of it, putting all responsability on Detective Burke's shoulders. A decade later, a near-repeat takes place when Dave Miller begins kidnapping kids once more, only for his plans to be foiled before they could go too far. Mike calls them out on this on live TV.
  • Are These Wires Important?:
    • Mike manages to stop Springtrap in Can't Go Home Again by unplugging the wires inside his neck, which causes him to immediately go limp.
    • Ennard later explains in Almost Feels Like Home that all A.R.I animatronics have a complex wiring system, but the most important is the "control" wire within the neck that acts as an "on/off" switch, or, for living animatronics, as a "consciousness switch" when plugged in or out. Somehow, Springtrap can override it being cut or otherwise plugged out.
  • Big Bad:
    • Can't Go Home Again and Almost Feels Like Home feature several Arc Villains, some of whom are the result of the actions of the Big Bad, or are directly tied to them. Henry Emily and William Afton fill the role in Can't Go Home Again and Almost Feels Like Home, respectively. Afton, in particular, serves as the Big Bad of the entire series, as his actions drive every event and cause new Arc Villains to pop up.
    • In a far more straight-forward sense, Vanny is one in Going Home In A Box. Except, there's far more than just her opposing our heroes, directly or indirectly...
  • Bullying a Dragon: Gregory and Ennard decide to scare Glamrock Chica, in order to "get even" with her after several close run-ins that left Gregory bruised. Except Chica really is Funtime Chica, who promptly tries to eat Ennard to get her cables back. As a result, they, alongside Baby, all end up in the garbage dump under the Pizzaplex, almost dying in the process..
  • Canon Foreigner: The series does feature newcomers to the long story of Freddy Fazbear's. Stand-outs are Natalie, security personnel who later joins the Foxy's crew after finding out their big secret and becomes Fritz's girlfriend, Glenn Voroff, owner of animatronic showroom and theatre Chipper and Son's Lumber Co., and Chauncery "Chance" Johnson, Henry's father and Charlie's grandfather, as well as a retired animatronic technician.
  • Canon Immigrant: The characters from the book series are vaguely referred to in Can't Go Home Again, with Carlton and John accompanying Charlie as she breaks into Foxy's. They make their proper appearances in Almost Feels Like Home and Going Home In A Box.
  • Darker and Edgier: Going Home In A Box is this to the first two books, due to its' rather pessimistic outlook, oppressive atmosphere, and decrease in positive resolutions. To wit, the midway points of Can't Go Home Again and Almost Feels Like Home featured positive, bright events such as Mike and Marionette officially becoming a couple and Charlie accepting her new life, whilst Going Home In A Box sees Glamrock Chica reveal herself as Funtime Chica, fall into the trash dump underneath the Pizzaplex, get shocked into uncosciousness, and losing her voicebox, whilst Baby almost dies in the meantime.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mike and Fritz are the go-to snarkers, but it's fair to say everyone gets at least one good quip in sooner or later. As of Going Home In A Box, Gregory seems to be joining them in that department.
  • Decomposite Character: Dave Miller, a former alias of William Afton, is a former Freddy's employee. What makes this an interesting case is that it's completely plausible that Afton used Miller's name because he previously knew him to boot.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The relations between humans and living animatronics aren't always the brightest, on both sides. Humans like Chance will think of the animatronics as dangerous, unintelligent, and downright creepy, whilst some living animatronics, Baby in particular, will think of humans as flawed and arrogant. Nevermind that the animatronics all used to be human, and still are, soul-wise...
    • The Pizzaplex staff further highlights the issues between the two camps, especially for humans who are unaware of the animatronics' true nature, in Going Home In a Box: the maintenance staff have a tendency to cut corners, being apathetic if not downright hostile towards the Glamrocks, and do not dare to go against Dr. Talbert's orders to not replace Chica's voice box, leaving her a mute. On the flipside, the Daycare Attendant has nothing but scorn towards them, and it's implied he might have attacked staff members in the past.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When explaining to Mike his past and how he "figured out" to put four dying kids in the original Freddy's animatronics, Marionette almost name-drops Golden Freddy, before backpedaling and referring to him as an "old friend". Sure enough, Golden Freddy was far more of a father figure than a friend, and was the catalyst to almost every event following the Bite of '87.
    • Foxy jokes that he trusts Natalie because he just can't imagine women "wearing purple", as in continuing the legacy of the Purple Man. Years later, in Going Home In A Box, Foxy's crew would end up facing Vanny, a knife-welding woman wearing a rabbit costume, near-identical to the late William Afton.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Compared to the previous two books, Going Home In a Box explodes with various plotlines from the get-go, as soon as Fazbear Entertainment is revealed to be back in business: the first one focuses on Foxy coming to terms with what he perceives as a threat from their collective past and, later, his conflicting feelings on the matter and those connected; a second one focuses on Scott and his party With the later addition of Michael, also finally coming to terms with past fallouts. A third one, focusing on Marionette and Mike's poor handling of the possible return of another Afton-like murderer, and a fourth one, with Glamrock Freddy and later the rest of his band finding themselves between two worlds and dealing with who they were and who they are now, pop up at the same time but develop at different speeds. A fifth one sees Charlie finally trying to reclaim some normalcy for her everyday life, as well as dealing with conflicting feelings over John and Elizabett. A sixth, which is intrinsecally tied to the third but is barely hinted at before emerging with full force in the second half, focuses on Jake and Andrew, their past, their current situations, and their outlooks for their future. Finally, a seventh, and rarely-picked-up-on one, has the other side of the coin in Fazbear Entertainment at the center of attention.
  • The Ghost: The original Freddy's animatronics appear, alongside the suit parts of the Toys, with Fritz inheriting them and taking up the task of moving them, but they all appear to have moved on. Except Foxy, who springs to life as he's being moved. And the Toys, as we later find out.
  • Harmful to Touch: Anything radiating or powered up by Agony. If it doesn't hurt you through scalding temperatures, it'll hurt you in far worse ways.
  • History Repeats: A four-animatronic band, lead by a bear, that is clearly dysfunctional and sees its' members struggle to work together? And one of them feels like an outcast, constantly trying to distance themselves from the others despite an unreciprocated friendship? Are we talking about the original Freddy's gang, or the Glamrocks?
  • Hostile Animatronics:
    • Overall defied, and quite openly at that: what with having human souls, the animatronics tendentially have free will, and the vast majority of them will choose to do good over the long run, be it by as entertainers or even vigilantes. However, some do have left-over programming from William Afton that causes them to turn hostile against their will: it can be overcome, but it requires a lot of work, and more often than not external intervantion from a technician.
    • Some animatronics, specifically Chipper's and El Chip's line-up, William Afton's Nightmares, and every member of the Funtime line-up who isn't Baby, Ennard or the Toy Bonnie from Going Home In a Box play this trope completely straight, as mentioned in A.I. Is a Crapshoot above. Those who don't fall under that trope [[spoiler:have gone completely insane or are Agony-powered shells
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed for Frederick Fazzman, whose crimes range from identity theft and tax fraud to No OSHA Compliance, but never answered for them, dying suddenly of an heart attack instead. Later played terrifying straight, as Fazzman was an alias for William Afton, who will never be put on trial for his murders, and who planned around his own death to continue his plans undisturbed. That said...
  • Minor Living Alone: Mike later reveals he ran away from home after his father passed away and first started working at Freddy's when he hadn't even turned 18.
  • Minovsky Physics:
    • Marionette's and, later, Henry's and Charlie's telekinesis obeys the laws of physics: teleportation forcefully displaces atoms before the teleportee appears, causing observes to feel the air moving, moving objects freezes the atoms composing them and, thus, only works with solids, and the energy source for these abilities are their own souls: should they overdo it, they will tire themselves out to the point of not even being able to move their bodies around.
    • Agony, in Going Home In a Box, is a form of energy generated by living animatronics in particular moments of psychological hardship. It causes the source's own body to begin heating up, and can be transferred through physical contact with the source. Agony has differing effects depending on what it is transferred to, causing headaches, visual impairment, hallucinations and muscle spams in humans and (mal)functions in electronics and non-living animatronics, powering them up in the process. If transferred within a closed circuit, Agony can endure even in the most disparate of conditions, and only destroying the recipient through heat can finally free it. In spite of its' supernatural origin, being a by-product of the soul outside a human body, it follows fundamental laws of energy and thermodynamics, and behaves shockingly similar to electricity. Although an effect of a human soul inhabiting an animatronic body, Dr. Taggart incorrectly believes Agony itself to be the cause of the animatronics' life, and that it, and by extension they, are mere "shadows" left behind by particularly traumatic events, not truly being alive. Such erroneous understanding naturally leads to a lot of torture and unethical experiments on them, with Jake, Andrew and Bunny taking the brunt of them.
  • Motif: Homes. The story begins with Mike inheriting his former boss's home, most of the action takes place within the group's homes, and great emphasis is placed on what really makes the idea of an "home", with many looking for one, physically or metaphorically. In particular, whilst Jeremy looks for a new home for him, his adopted animatronics, and later Foxy, three different groups scramble to try and give Gregory a place to truly call his home.
  • Movie-Making Mess: In order to get more customers, Fritz, Jeremy and Mike decide to film an ad to air on public access television. Between Foxy and Marionette's refusal to cooperate properly, the security guards goofing off, and Charlie's friends crashing the recording, it goes as well as expected. And then Ennard takes Scott's place in editing the footage before sending it out to the station...
  • Murder by Cremation:
    • A.R.I's lowest underground floor features an enormous incinerator, capable of melting steel note  and previously used to get rid of... undesirable waste. Ennard, Baby, Charlie, Marionette and Michael use it to get rid of what remains of the Funtime animatronics.
    • What Chance tries to do at the end of Can't Go Home Again, trapping a dozen animatronics (and Mike) inside a fake pizzeria he booby-trapped to erupt into a massive fire in an attempt to erase William Afton's legacy for good. He only manages to kill himself in the process.
  • Our Souls Are Different:
    • Souls are intrinsecally linked with the body, containing one's personality and memories alongside the brain. Under very specific circumstances, should a person with a very strong willpower be on the verge of death, their soul will try to hang on to the most compatible physical body... that often being an animatronic. If the human body is resuscitated, the soul might or might not hang on to it: in the latter case, the body is reduced to a brain-dead Empty Shell.
    • Moreso, souls continue to age even after possessing animatronic bodies. As mentioned above, they retain all memories and personality from their human lives, and are fully capable of developing new ones, but in the vast majority of times, core elements from the age at which they died will endure. On top of that, particular traumas tied to death that have not been elaborated or healed combined with the very nature of their existence can cause living animatronics to produce an energy called "Agony", which is capable of influencing other electronics and even people.
  • Perverse Puppet:
    • Marionette attacks Mike at first sight and is generally aggressive towards him, be it actively or passively... atleast at first. Afterwards, he reels the aggressiveness back, but begins acting incredibly clingy towards the former security guard, trying to isolate him from Fritz, Natalie, and his workplace. After some close calls and being coaxed out of his shell, however, he proves himself to be anything but.
    • Likewise, Charlie, after becoming the Security Puppet, pushes everyone away and inadvertendly manipulates them into giving her a wide berth to run away at the beginning of Almost Feels Like Home. Once she calms down and begins accepting her new situation, she shows herself to still be the warm, curious, accepting young woman she was beforehand.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Foxy, in Almost Feels Like Home squarely puts the blame on every single death that took place at Freddy's on Detective Clay Burke, who was in charge of the investigations, and how ridiculous it is that the case is reopened right as his own restaurant is gaining footing. As one of those victims, he does have more of a right to complain than anyone else.
    • Going Home In A Box almost entirely justifies Foxy's beliefs, as when he first breaks into the Pizzaplex in an attempt to vandalize it, Burke is immediately hot on his trail... and completely ignores the Pizzaplex's own, flagrant violations. Amongst which, No OSHA Compliance, several environmental and financial irregularities, and being an active crime scene. Might Double as Selective Enforcement, but it isn't clear if the Pizzaplex falls under Hurricane's juridiction or Washington County's.
    • Ultimately, the HPD and Detective Burke zig-zag this: although well-meaning and competent, they were easily mislead during the Missing Children investigations, and they're completely out of their element in dealing with living animatronics. To the point Burke has to call in Scott and Ennard to deal with a case involving one.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mike's first videogame console is strongly hinted to be a NES. He and Marionette later play Ghosts 'n Goblins, which is name-dropped directly.
    • Mike's second console, which he receives as a gift for Christmas, is the original PlayStation, as Marionette points out the use of discs instead of cartridges. He and Fritz seem to play Resident Evil on it later. He also appears to be playing Clock Tower in Almost Feels Like Home, judging by his reference to a "Scissor Lad".
    • Cassie's birthday gift from Chaz is a videogame's box with a "blue turtle" on it... in other words, a copy of Pokémon Blue.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Multiple, multiple examples, in a frankly depressing case of Truth in Television in a small, rural area like Hurricane:
    • Chrissy's parents are going through a marriage crisis in Can't Go Home Again, the effects of which cascade on their daughter: she often finds herself in the middle of shouting matches and is left unsupervised most of the time. As a result, she ends up isolating herself from her schoolmates, and the Foxy's crew has to step up to be there for her. Even after her parents divorce, she's still left to fend for herself, which leads to tragic consequences when she's kidnapped by Dave Miller and Charlie is killed trying to rescue her. No one is ever seen reaching out to help Chrissy or her family, barring Mike, Marionette, and everyone else associated to them.
    • Gregory is a runaway orphan, pretending to have parents to go back to in order to get Freddy, Foxy and Andrew off of his back before coming clear to them. He spends alternating days and nights hiding inside the Pizzaplex, at first surviving off of whatever scraps and junk he can find, wearing the same dirty clothes for months, and it's unclear for just how long he's been out of school. Social services finally show up in the second half of Going Home In a Box... except, they clearly aren't there to help him out, but to drag him back to wherever he ran off from, labeling him a "problem child". At the end of the day, his parent figures end up being two living animatronics, both of whom have their own share of problems already.
    • Cassie's parents are even more absent than Chrissy's, with her father barely mentioned as being "too busy" working for Fazbear Entertainment and her mother not even getting that luxury. She spends her entire birthday by her lonesome in the Pizzaplex, crying her eyes out... that is, until Roxy steps up to save the party. In spite of that, everyone shrugs off her situation as completely normal, with Chaz in particular telling her to "bear it out".
  • Sole Survivor:
    • Foxy is the only one of the four original Freddy's animatronics to not have moved on. It later comes back to haunt him come Going Home In A Box. Likewise, Marionette is the last remaining member of the Toy line-up to still be alive.
    • Scott Caldwell, "The Phone Guy", is the only original staff member of Freddy's still alive. Or at least as a human, come Almost Feels Like Home.
  • There Are No Therapists: What with all the trauma near every single person in Hurricane went through, particularly those who were victims of William Afton, every member of Foxy's crew has some sort of problems... that they deal with by their lonesome. Justified two-fold: it's The '90s, so mental healthcare was still a pretty big taboo in global society at large, and they're all involved in keeping up The Masquerade — or are being protected by it in the animatronics' case — so they cannot turn to a psychologist even if they wanted to.
  • Three Lines, Some Waiting: Almost Feels Like Home, by comparison with the below, opens once again with Mike and Marionette dealing with the fallout of a major event. Namely, Charlie's human death and transformation into the Security Puppet. The plot, however, opens up massively shortly afterwards, splitting up into three parallel branches that bounce back-and-forth between one another: one focused, as usual, on Mike, Marionette, and a third person; a second one focusing on Scott's end after the events of Almost Feels Like Home; and a final one focusing on Foxy and Jeremy dealing with their own issues. Of the three, the latter is the one who gets the least focus, but slows down the narrative to be focused on in the first place.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Can't Go Home Again opens by focusing exclusively on Mike and Marionette dealing with the fallout of Fredrick's death. Come Chapter 12, it opens up into two parallel plot lines, the first consistently focusing on both of the deuteragonists, and the other on the remainder of the crew with one of the deuteragonists popping up here and there. Both lines go hand-in-hand at full speed through-out the entire book.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?:
    • The series takes place in Hurricane, Utah. References to surrounding cities and areas in Washington County, such as St. George and later Zion National Park, are made, and some locations are even visited by the crew.
    • Animatronicon, a multi-day convention and exposition aimed at animatronic businesses and enthusiasts, takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona.
    • The location of Chipper's is left completely up in the air. It apparently takes hours to reach from Hurricane, and there's nothing but desert and highways between the town and the establishment, but beyond that, there are no hints as to where it might be.
  • You All Share My Story:
    • Every single member of the cast is connected to one another, mainly by one key reason: they were all involved and directly touched by William Afton and his sinister machinations, even across decades and through unrelated accidents. Due to Afton being Not Quite Dead at first, and his influence continuing to run deep even after he's Killed Off for Real, this causes an ever-expanding net of connections to form, even amongst a new generation of Hurricaneites.
    • In a more restricted example, every living animatronic was saved from their human deaths by Marionette, even indirectly: the original Freddy's gang, the Toys, Michael, Charlie, Andrew... the sole exceptions are Jake, who did not die by Afton's hands, Baby and Ennard, who died before him, and the Glamrocks, who died recently and were too far removed from him. The fates of the latter, and the realization that living animatronics will continue to exist in spite of him and what he's done, cause Marion to have a minor breakdown in Going Home In A Box.