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Better Than Canon

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"The Apollo Justice you played was a depressing alternate universe. Here's how it really gets started."
Job Hunting, an Ace Attorney fanfic

Most fans just aren't content to accept absolutely everything the canon offers. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a fan that doesn't have any complaints about a work, no matter how minor. But what happens when the amount of complaints being thrown at the work start to outweigh the compliments? Well, you might find yourself with fans starting to throw out ideas about how it can improve, or things it should have done in order to maintain quality. These fans may then run to their word processors and start writing out exactly how their ideas would play out. And they may soon discover that others in the community not only like their creative re-interpretation of the original work, but are anxiously awaiting for more... because they think it's actually better than the source material.


Better Than Canon refers to fanworks that are viewed as better than the source material as a result of it ignoring and/or rewriting the disliked aspects of a fictional canon in order to "improve" upon it. Of course, this isn't limited to works that are intentionally meant to be some level of Take That! to the canon. Sometimes the writer has no qualms with the source material, but still find themselves thinking What If? as a simple creative exercise. In either case, results may vary.

When taken too far, may result in Canon Defilement. When some fans get the chance to force this on the official work, it's Running the Asylum and Armed with Canon. If the creator decides it's a good idea as well, it may become Ascended Fanon. If you meet people who seem to label a lot of fan works as this, you may be dealing with Fanwork-Only Fans.


Some of the works on the Fan Fic Recommendations pages might be this.

No examples, please.

Tropes invoked in this attitude often include:

  • Adapted Out/Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: When a character (major or minor) is removed with no in-story acknowledgement. Sometimes done to disliked characters, but oftentimes done in order to keep the plot concise.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Fans' interpretations for a characters' actions and personalities are different from what is apparent in the actual canon.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: The fan work takes place in an alternate reality where certain things are changed or absent; in this context, possibly because they were disliked.
  • The Bus Came Back: Popular characters that left the work for whatever reason can return, to be given closure or simply additional stories.
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  • Creator's Pet: With the fan being the "new creator", this can be a character from the original work that the writer really likes getting copious amounts of attention.
  • Dark Fic: A work whose official media is generally lighthearted receives a fan-created story with a darker and more serious tone.
  • Death of the Author: A school of literary criticism that argues that authorial intent is irrelevant when interpreting literary works. While arguably not a full-fledged example since it doesn't argue for disregarding any of the actual text, it could be considered at least tangentially related.note 
  • Elsewhere Fic: A fanfic that takes place in the universe of the original work, but uses a fan's original creations as the main characters rather than any canonical characters, with the latter sometimes never making an appearance or even gaining mention.
  • Fan-Disliked Explanation: When the canon explanation for something is so disliked to the point fans often prefer a different explanation for that thing.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Unexplained elements in canonicity that are frequently exploited in fanfiction.
  • Fanfic Magnet: A character that inspires a lot of fanwork due to being a One-Shot Character that has little in the way of canonical adventures.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Fans choose to ship the characters they want to be together, even if the official canon has them hook up with other people instead.
  • Fanon: Fans come up with their own interpretation of information that the official canon ignores, glosses over, or doesn't explain in detail.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Fan works deliberately ignore events, episodes, seasons, or even entire spinoffs or Sequel Series that the fan doesn't like.
  • Fix Fic: Fics that have the main purpose of changing or removing aspects that the writer felt damaged the work, such as having deceased characters being Spared by the Adaptation.
  • Hurt/Comfort Fic: Generally part of shipping fics, but not always, one character needs to be comforted by another following an emotional event.
  • Loudness War: Sometimes causes fans to create their own versions to mitigate distortion/clipping issues, either by remixing the albums from the stems if they're available or by using declippers or other digital processing if not. (Vinyl rips can also be a source of this, particularly if the CD/digital versions' clipping issues weren't present on the vinyl master.)
  • Patchwork Fic: Using characterization or elements from Alternate Continuity to tweak "mainline" continuity.
  • Possession Sue: Rewriting an existing canonical character to fit the author's ideals and/or tastes.
    • O.C. Stand-in: The same thing, but with a background character that had little characterization to begin with.
  • The Scrappy: Desire to kill or otherwise just remove the character.
  • Slash Fic: When the characters are straight in canonicity, at least.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot/They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Where the fans think that the canon explored the less interesting possibilities of the plot, cast or setting, so they're going to do it better.