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Canon Fodder

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Loose ends, unanswered questions, intriguing details, and Noodle Incidents left in Canon by the creators; these make good launch points for Fanon, Fan Fic, and Epileptic Trees.

All active serials, especially ones with no defined endpoint, have intentional Canon Fodder because the creators need it to launch their own future storylines. Unexpectedly canceled works will be full of it, too. But even works that try to avoid leaving Canon Fodder will likely leave some accidentally.

Chekhov's Gun and its relations can be Canon Fodder if a sufficiently long time passes between introduction and use. Sequel Hooks are Canon Fodder by definition. Red Herrings are always potential canon fodder, especially outside of the mystery genres. Even Cryptic Background References specifically intended not to become fodder usually don't last long if a story gets continued longer than the creator expected or falls Off the Rails. Hufflepuff House and What Happened to the Mouse? are often good sources of this as well.

The more devoted the fanbase, the smaller the detail that can become tempting Canon Fodder.

If the creators of an active work take a piece of Canon Fodder and develop it contrary to how most of the Fanon based off that piece is going, Fan Dumb and related swearing at the creator can easily result. If the creators go a step further and actually use the Fanon's answer for Canon Fodder, it's Ascended Fanon. For a character that serves as Canon Fodder, see O.C. Stand-in.

Not to be confused with Cannon Fodder. A Sub-Trope of Fanfic Fuel.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A variation of this exists in Soul Eater, where the author, praised for his skill in character development, actually gives us very little information about his subjects. Every ten or twenty chapters, one page of background is given for a given character, usually Soul. Because of this, a large percentage of fics are interpretive backstories.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, who is Ash's father? Is it Giovanni? Professor Oak? Somebody we haven't even been introduced to yet? The show's gone on for over a thousand episodes, and all we have to go by is a single quote that it "took him two weeks to reach Viridian City". Needless to say, fanfic writers (and the members of this very site) have had a field day coming up with possible identities for him.
  • The author doesn't want to make a big deal of it, but the fans of Hetalia: Axis Powers are interested in how the "human" aspect of a nation-tan works, such as how they come to be (in the series, nation-tans start as children that appear out of the wilderness, and there is little other explanation). Many conversations and dramatic fanfics have been spawned from this.
    • My, Yugoslavia, you have lost weight. And changed your name, you say? Why yes, I'd love to meet your new siblings!
    • What's more, it is stated that nation-tans have parents and grandparents that preceded them.
    • Fans would like to know what happened to Prussia, the resident Small Name, Big Ego Ensemble Dark Horse, since the Kingdom of Prussia doesn't exist anymore. He is presumably still alive and well, though, since he was able to make a blog and a Twitter account and Word of God says he lives in Germany's house now.
    • The American Civil War, and, by extension, any civil wars. Was there a Confederacy-tan, and if so, what happened to him/her? Or did Alfred develop a split personality?
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, the mere existence of the Ancient Martians wasn't referenced until the last few episodes. Who they were was supposed to be explained "in the inevitable second season" (quoted from Ruri herself)...which was never made. Also unresolved was the Jovian/Earthling conflict, Akito's whereabouts, and—if you never played the Japan-only videogame, The Blank of Three Years—just what happened to everyone who crewed on the Nadesico before The Black Prince movie was made.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Did anyone actually know what SEELE's motives were until the movies came out? What about Gendo's?
    • Leliel being described as potentially connecting to other universes practically begs for Crossover fanfics to use it as a kickoff point.
  • In the final chapter of Ai Kora, Maeda returns from an accidental trip across Eurasia, followed by dozens of cute girls he'd apparently rescued. Just what happened during that trip is rather obvious fodder for fan-fic, if not a Spin-Off.
  • Digimon Adventure revealed that there was a group of Digidestined that saved the Digital World far before Tai and company came to the Digital World. To this day, not another word has been mentioned of them. Speculation about who they were continues to this day.
    • There's also Dagomon, god and ruler of the Dark Ocean from Digimon Adventure 02 - the realm itself showed up a few more times, but the "Dark Undersea Master" is never seen or heard of again.
    • Digimon Adventure tri. has actually started to reveal things about the earlier group. Unfortunately, it also is approaching Fanon Discontinuity, due to the anvilicious nature of their reveal.
  • Code Geass has so much it's not funny, mostly due to the fact that the plan for the second half of the series was changed massively on the way to becoming R2. We still don't know what the Geass actually is, where Suzaku's "powers" come from, what C.C.'s real name and history are, or what the characters did before the series (though some novels deal with Lelouch and Suzaku's childhood just before the war, once Japan surrenders the story essentially pauses until the anime begins).
  • In Naruto, who raised Naruto until he could take care of himself? Who were the Fourth's enemies, and why did Naruto need to be kept in the dark about who his parents were? Do people whose last names we aren't given even have last names, and if so, what are they?
    • For the longest time, there were also the questions: What were the other tailed beastsnote  and who were their hosts? What happened on the night Naruto was born and the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox was sealed? Who was Kushina, and how did she become a Leaf ninja despite being from Whirlpool?
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica reveals that the Witches were actually fallen Magical Girls. Fans promptly speculated on their backstories, especially what they wished for. Three witches are mentioned on the website but never appear in the anime. Then there's Walpurgis Night. All There in the Manual reveals it's just an alias and its real name is a complete mystery.
  • Bleach: Why is Isshin Kurosaki a Shinigami (possibly a captain)? How does he know Ryuken Ishida? How do the spirits in the afterlife "get sick" and "die", or even have "noble families"?
    • Hitsugaya mentions in passing that "commoners" are those who died and came to the Rukon district, while "nobles" are born in Soul Society, but doesn't elaborate on how the noble families are established.
    • The Anime-only arcs tend to create Canon Fodder in the form of new characters:
      • Gou Koga, who survived the Bount arc, and was left in the Soul Society.
      • Ashido Kano from the Forest of the Menos episodes, who is presumably still living in the titular forest.
      • The various nobles and their retainers from the New Captain arc, who showed up in a pair of filler episodes later.
      • Many of the Reigais sacrifice themselves at the end of the Invading Army arc, but several others were disabled at the time, and not explicitly shown to have been destroyed. Also, a few of the active Reigais are not shown dying in the mass self-sacrifice.
      • Finally, the zanpakuto spirits from the Zanpakuto Rebellion arc are still around, inhabiting the various zanpakutos.
  • What happened during the thirty years of Alucard's post-Schrodinger absence between the final two chapters of Hellsing?
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, the surviving members of the villainous Juppon Gatana are give secret deals from the Meiji government. Most notable is Ensemble Dark Horse Soujiro Seta, who has decided to wander around Japan for ten years much like Kenshin Himura and Makoto Shishio.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • The comic leaves the reason for Delight becoming Delirium ambiguous with a couple of tantalizing hints.
    • Another obvious Canon Fodder point is who killed the first Despair; all we know about it is that the person responsible is a he and will never stop suffering until the end of the universe. Some theories even tie the two Canon Fodder events together (e.g. Delight went mad with grief after the man she was set to marry killed Despair and was condemned to eternal torture for it (possibly by becoming the new Despair)).
  • Peter David has said (joked?) that he throws tons of loose ends into his stories deliberately because he figures it's harder to fire him off a book when he has lots of story points still to resolve.
  • Dormammu and the Dark Dimension in the Doctor Strange comics was intended to be just a cryptic background reference, but the writers had to explain it after getting a lot of fanmail asking who this Dormammu person was, resulting in Doctor Strange finally getting an archnemesis.
  • The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics have quite a few:
    • Gyro, Brigitta, and many other characters appeared as if they had always been there, and their origins haven't always been explained.
    • The first story of Paperinik (Donald Duck's superhero-antihero alter ego) shows he was inspired by the journal of Fantomius, a Gentleman Thief who is also stated to have died years before the story, and the second story introduces the figure of Dolly Paprika, Fantomius' lover. Fans interrogated themselves on their story for years until they got a series about their adventures... But where did they disappear to still remains a mystery.
    • What happened to Della Duck? And who is her husband (and Huey, Dewey, and Louie's father)? One Dutch story gives a possible answer to the former (which was later used in DuckTales (2017)), but the latter remains a mystery.
    • Goofy's family. In one story, it's even hinted he's related to aliens (something that Mickey notes would explain a lot of things).
    • The origins of the Super Goof's power-granting peanuts.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has a lot of this thanks to the heavy Worldbuilding, Cryptic Background References, and Jigsaw Puzzle Plot. The most notable example is the Simanzi Massacre, a horrific battle that's a hugely important part of the backstory, with a great many of the characters having been affected by it. And yet the battle itself is largely left to the reader's imagination; we never see it firsthand, merely get brief descriptions and flashbacks of things that happened during and after it. Doubles as Nothing Is Scarier.

  • There are entire web pages and newsgroups dedicated to this issue in regards to Star Trek and Star Wars... and in many, if not most cases, both
    • It's amazing all the military capabilities fans of both take for granted in the absence of a scrap of evidence. One random example, you'd think "warp strafing" would be fairly common in Star Trek the way some fans talk, when it has in fact never been used in canon. In other words, canon fodder that doesn't actually exist, but still acts as a starting point. There is also an entire armory of weapons that appeared in one episode, never to be mentioned again, that many fans seem to assume are standard issue.
    • Creative interpretation of the Force powers demonstrated in original trilogy (mostly telepathy, enhanced jumping, and telekinesis) lead to a large array of Force powers throughout the Expanded Universe, from animal empathy to Mental Time Travel. Some of these Force powers, like Force Push and Force Speed, would go on to make their big-screen debut in the prequel trilogy, where there were more fully-realized Jedi around to use them.
    • Episode IV gives us our first mention of the Clone Wars, mentioning only that Obi-Wan fought in it alongside Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Bail Organa. (Though those first two turned out to be the same person.) The Prequel Trilogy and two animated series give us a firsthand look at the Clone Wars.
    • RedLetterMedia did an entire episode of Rich and Jay reading the Wookieepedia entry for Darth Vader's suit, laughing at how the armor was polished with "woodoo hide" and how Emperor Palpatine had an entire hospital named after him (the "Emperor Palpatine Surgical Reconstruction Center".)
  • The "Space Jockey" in Alien, which was widely expected to be covered in Prometheus. If you haven't seen it, prepare to be disappointed.
  • Elias Voorhees, the father of Jason Voorhees, who was nixed from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and was only vaguely alluded to in the ninth film.
  • Kill Bill: Will Nikki Green get her own revenge on the Bride for her mother's death? Tarantino himself said that she deserves her revenge just as much as the Bride did.
  • Black Widow (2021): While incarcerated, Alexei "Red Guardian" Shostakov brags to another inmate about having fought Captain America during the Cold War, but the other man dismisses this on the grounds that Steve Rogers would have been a Human Popsicle at the time. Other MCU material makes it possible Alexei was telling the truth. One possibility is that he fought the Rogers who took The Slow Path after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Alternatively, since Alexei never describes the Cap he fought and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier reveals that the United States experimented with recreating Dr. Erskine's formula after World War II, it could have been Isaiah Bradley (introduced to canon in "The Star-Spangled Man") or another as-yet-unidentified Rogers successor.

  • The Lord of the Rings, pretty much anytime anything is said or done by anyone. Much of it tied in with his other works, which were released posthumously and constituted a veritable mythology generated by decades of writing and rewriting. J. R. R. Tolkien spent years cleaning up plot holes so tiny that most people don't notice them and there's still huge amounts of things that fans contest.
  • Maximum Ride frequently wanders off and leaves plot threads hanging — unfortunately, most of the fandom focuses on Fang/Max shipping and won't even touch the missing Mad Scientists, Max's past in the School, Jeb's true motives...
  • Animorphs has a lot of canon fodder at the end. The author, K. A. Applegate, says she actually likes endings better when loose ends aren't tied up. (Which certainly explains Remnants and Everworld.)
    • Not just done at the end, too. In Animorphs, KA said that she would sometimes introduce things as a 'seed' and see if the perfect time and occasion for them to return comes. She didn't know what the "big red eye" that went on to become Crayak was during his first cameo at the end of book six. That was one that returned in a big way. However, nothing ever did come of the aliens who put Jake through that waking-up-in-the-future illusion. Presumably those guys are still out there and just never saw fit to return.
      • The ending of Animorphs was a very tacked-on prologue to a story that would never be told. Everything is all wrapped up... then we find out how everyone's lives have gone on. Then a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere assimilates Ax, so the others get ready to ram the thing, and presumably go kaboom with it and him. The End. Uh... what. If you just close the book when you get to the Time Skip, the story suddenly has a much simpler ending and makes infinitely more sense in general... but definitely has much less Fanfic Fuel. Reading the ending and the afterword, it really seemed like KA was saying "Okay, fandom, it's all yours now; have fun."
  • The Wheel of Time, according to Word of God, which is unsurprising considering how many plot threads are still dangling by book 12.
  • The Neverending Story (book version only) has this as a plot point: The reason Bastian Bux is special? Because everything he does creates plot hooks for several more stories. Hence why he's able to save the fantasy land from dying: It's not because of the plot as such, it's because he sets everything in motion for it to expand forever, with every story opening up several more.
  • Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun intentionally made this into a major part of enjoying the book. He lays it all out in this quote: "My definition of good literature is that which can be read by an educated reader, and reread with increased pleasure."
  • Warrior Cats: What happened at the beginning of the clans? What happens to SkyClan next? How did several members of the Dark Forest get there? Who was Firestar's mom? Although the Erins are doing a pretty good job of tying things up recently.
  • Steven Brust includes Noodle Incidents in his Dragaera novels to give him ideas for future books in the series.
  • Jim Butcher is a master of this: The Dresden Files has things brought up in book 14 that were initially introduced in book 3, and still leaves them incompletely resolved.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • When Kevin J. Anderson wrote the Jedi Academy Trilogy, he gave Luke Skywalker a total of twelve original Jedi students but deliberately only named sixnote  so that later authors could fill in their own candidates. Young Jedi Knights added Brakiss, I, Jedi added Corran Horn, and The New Essential Chronology confirmed Kyle Katarn as the ninth student. Leland Chee declared that the Anx pictured in a picture of the students in The Essential Chronology was Madurrin (first featured in Destiny's Way). There are at least four candidates for the other two slots: generally Havet Storm (Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast), Keyan Farlander (from a Star Wars Insider #57 article), Nichos Marr (Children of the Jedi), or Harlan (The Jedi Academy Sourcebook).
    • I, Jedi: Who is "Desertwind", the third Jedi who fought the Jensaarai in Ylenic It'kla's memory of Nejaa Halcyon's death? Stackpole probably intended for him to be Obi-Wan Kenobi (who was said to be from Tatooine in Alan Dean Foster's novelization of A New Hope), but it might also be Anakin Skywalker, or someone else entirely (for example, A'Sharad Hett debuted in Star Wars: Republic #10 a year after the book came out). This is muddied further by a Continuity Snarl: the book says that the scene took place between the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire, but like most pre-Phantom Menace novels, it assumed that there had been a gap of about twenty years between the Clone Wars and the Jedi Purge. If one assumes it takes place during Revenge of the Sith between General Grievous's death and Order 66 going out, then Desertwind definitely can't be Obi-Wan (who was on Utapau) or Anakin (who was on Coruscant). Absent ROTS, Anakin could fit given that he and Nejaa Halcyon were partnered during the campaign to liberate Praesitlyn in the book Jedi Trial. The 2015 short story "Lone Wolf" by Abel G. Peña confirms it to be Obi-Wan, but as it wasn't released until after the changeover to Disney canon, its canonicity in the Legends continuity is a bit suspect.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles opened a couple threads in the first season mostly from when John was still attending high school — mysterious paintings around the school, mysterious behaviour from a girl John likes, something about said girl and Wichita, as well as a girl from Carlos's gang named Chola acting mysterious - all of which appear to be forgotten in the second season. (Chola does briefly appear in the second season, though there's no explanation of her earlier behavior.) A lot of these dropped threads were probably due to the writers' strike severely truncating the first season; that said, there are so many of them that season 2 almost qualifies as a minor Retool.
  • Plenty in Firefly:
    • What the government did to River, and whether others were subjected to the same treatment.
    • The Shepherd's past. (Revealed in a comic.)
    • Did Mal and Inara finally admit their feelings?
    • The fate of the Alliance, especially after the Miranda broadcast.
    • Did Niska ever get what he had coming to him?
  • According to a West Wing DVD Commentary, Aaron Sorkin had some canon fodder forced on him by an actor that turned out to be a very good thing. When they were filming early episodes, Sorkin noticed that Richard Schiff was wearing a wedding ring during his scenes and objected that he didn't think the character, Toby, was married. Schiff agreed. Sorkin asked why the hell he was wearing the ring then, and Schiff said, "I'm waiting for you to tell me." As a result, a sad divorce was written into Toby's backstory, his ex-wife became a significant secondary character and the two of them got a story arc that was a favorite among fans and lasted well past the time Sorkin left the show.
  • Lost has some, though the writers have ended up using some intended Canon Fodder for themselves after setting it up.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The end of "Journey's End" is pretty much just one huge open-ended fanfiction starter.
    • In the spin-off Eighth Doctor Adventures, there is a metric tonne of these with Fitz Kreiner. The writers seem to love leaving little hints about his backstory all over the books, and the Fandom extrapolates accordingly.
    • The Doctor lived for centuries before the series began. His time at the Time Lord Academy and the adventures he had before "An Unearthly Child" are favorite topics of Fanfic and Expanded Universe writers.
      • He's also lived for centuries that we haven't seen anything of between episodes, producing yet more fanfic fodder.
    • The Doctor's Opposite-Sex Clone "daughter" Jenny steals a ship to wander the universe, much like her father in "The Doctor's Daughter".
    • In her last message to the Doctor in "The Angels Take Manhattan", Amy assured the Doctor that she and Rory had long happy lives together after being sent in the past by the Weeping Angel. Speculation on how their lives went has fueled more than a few fanfics.
  • In Supernatural, the origins of the demon-killing knife introduced in season 3 have never been explained and, according to series creator Eric Kripke, probably never will be.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: First introduced in "Inquisition", Section 31 and its stated 200-year history opened up plenty of opportunities for novels and spinoffs to feature "classified" examples of its involvement in the earlier franchises, particularly in Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek: Discovery.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series gave a few tantalizing details about the history between the 20th and 23rd centuries: Eugenics Wars, post-atomic horrors, Zefram Cochrane's invention of the Warp Drive, etc. Some of these got fleshed out in later movies or series, or in the Expanded Universe.
  • Power Rangers, despite nearly wrapping up every threat every season does have some fodder threads that tend to linger from season to season. For instance, it was a long-held question for fans what exactly The Morphing Grid was until Power Rangers RPM gave a token explanation. However, the fates of some minor characters, the flow events outside of series transitioning between them, and the constant threats to earth will prompt several theories that might only grow as the franchise continues.
    • For a good series to see this in action, see History of Power Rangers. While at its core a review series of the franchise, the creator is fully willing to indulge in Canon Fodder when it comes to some smaller details, as well as trying to flesh out the lore of the universe more as the series goes on.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Notable examples of this occur within Homer's works. Most notable is the case of Aeneas: after Homer, numerous other authors made minor contributions to his story, and it became accepted tradition that he had travelled to Italy after the sacking of Troy. Centuries later, Virgil's Aeneid used this as his starting point.
    • Homer's most famous piece of Canon Fodder: The Fall of Troy. The Iliad closes with Hector's death and The Odyssey opens with Troy already fallen.
    • There were eight songs about the Trojan war... of which only two remain. The rest were lost even in antiquity, but everyone knew the general gist of the story (if not the specific verses).
  • In The Bible there are few descriptions of Jesus' life between his birth and his early thirties.
    John 21:25 — "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Given the fact that much of its fluff is delivered through half-seen and heavily classified reports, Warhammer 40,000 does this a lot.
    • One is "The Gates of C'Tan", which were mentioned in a 2nd edition race book and then later used as the name of an ancient star god two editions on.
    • In every Space Marine codex there's a list of the original twenty Space Marine legions, nine of which remained loyal during the Horus Heresy, and nine which turned traitor. But for legions II and XI, there is no information about their names, primarchs, or homeworlds, only "All records expunged from library - order origination unknown" — they are even known, in-verse, as "The Lost Legions". Games Workshop has said that they never intend to outright explain the mystery of the lost legions since it gives fans something to work with. Indeed, even stories set during the Horus Heresy will only hint at the legions' fate in the vaguest terms, though there are some pretty strong hints that they either turned traitor, suffered unacceptable mutations, or both. Official sources do give a few hints. Apparently some of the surviving members of one or both Lost Legions were rolled into the Ultramarines (a nod to how in 1st edition the Rainbow Warriors and Valedictors were the 2nd and 11th legions but were later retconned into Ultramarine successors). It's also suggested (perhaps tongue in cheek) that the reason one of the Lost Legions can't be found is that they possess a special mutation that makes them invisible and simply don't want to be found.
  • Paizo Publishing:
    • Pathfinder: Like any tabletop RPG setting, the Golarion/Lost Omens setting has plenty of intriguing unanswered questions for game masters to tie stories into. One of the big ones is how, and possibly even if, Aroden, the Patron God of humanity, died on the day he was prophesied to become God-Emperor (causing worldwide cataclysms, massive political upheaval, and the breakdown of prophecy itself). This is a Riddle for the Ages underpinning the entire Golarion/Lost Omens setting that Paizo's writers have explicitly said they'll never answer, in order that their customers can answer it themselves if they so choose.
    • Starfinder's core setting takes place in the same solar system as the Lost Omens setting an unknown length of time into the future after space travel became widely available. Just one thing: the planet Golarion itself is mysteriously missing. What happened to it? You decide.

  • This seems to be a big part of the Cats fandom. Such as follows:
    • What exactly is Demeter's past with Macavity?
    • Why did Grizabella leave the Jellicles?
    • What happened to Griddlebone during the siege of Growltiger's ship?
    • How come Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer are mentioned as agents of Macavity?
    • And, this is the big one: Who is exactly mated to whom?
    • It helps that all the chorus' cats don't seem to have a lot of personality despite being, well, cats. Yep, the fanficcers have a lot of fun with all of this.

  • This was and still is (though to a lesser degree) a major part of the BIONICLE story. So much, in fact, that LEGO actively encouraged and held contests for the fans to write their own stories to expand on previously vague plot details, and the winning entries went canon. Author-written stories also do this, as mysteries that have been lingering around for years constantly get solved (in some cases, with very surprising results) as the story progresses. However there are still many things left unanswered, as several thousand years' worth of story has only been lightly touched upon, not to mention how many unexplored places, cities, islands, planets, and universes there are. The fandom, of course, speculates the hell out of every tiny detail.

    Video Games 
  • Tetsuya Nomura (of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and The World Ends with You fame) is sure to leave plenty of unanswered questions in his games, in case he can't make a sequel to answer them. Speculation is more fun, apparently.
  • Bungie Studios, creator of the Halo and Marathon franchises, absolutely relishes this; every game series and the canon surrounding it is festooned with little questions, hints, and unelaborated tangents, and Bungie's own attitude towards these questions is to let the fans come up with the answers. 343 Industries, the current studio in charge of Halo, is fond of this too; in fact, their website for a time ran a special lore blog named "Canon Fodder".
  • Silent Hill. Holy crap, Silent Hill. While it is difficult to think ill of those that latch onto the smallest of details in a series that almost prides itself on providing as little information as possible without showing a blank screen, it becomes patently ridiculous at times. It also doesn't help that it is entirely probable the creators themselves know about as much of the series as the fans do, maybe less (see Ascended Fanon and Shrug of God). For the first game, the devs basically admitted to reaching into a big grab bag of Christian mythology, leading to many references that, when interpreted properly, make no sense. Silent Hill 2 averts this by being generally well thought out and dropping the Christian mythological motif altogether and focusing more on archetypical symbolism pertaining to the protagonist's own dark past and neuroses. The third game is an Author's Saving Throw for the first, more or less ironing out what you should care about and what you should discard from the first game and resolving dangling plot threads.
  • Touhou Project is chock full of those, especially the "The more devoted the fanbase, the smaller the detail that can become tempting Canon Fodder" premise; everything from a single sentence in a character profile to literal background details to simple Art Evolution accrues its own theories. Not helped by a lot of it being perfectly intentional, ZUN commonly sprinkling about unexplained details and being fond of the Shrug of God, most obviously with Sakuya's entry in Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, which outright says that no one knows anything about her past and offers some possibilities.
  • Pick a background and/or psychological profile of Shepard's from Mass Effect and chances are, someone's done a fan fic about his/her life growing up. And outside of a few small sidequests in the first game related to said backstories, the details are left fairly vague enough so that fan fiction can thrive on this trope.
  • Continuing the tradition, there are plenty of backstory options in Dragon Age for the Gray Warden, with the others being shuttled off to Uncertain Doom. Avert the doom, and you have prime fanfic material.
  • Super Robot Wars loves to play this trope with its ever-expanding Original Generation, and not just in the OG games themselves. Expect any given game to be littered with Sequel Hooks, prequel hooks, Alternate Continuity spinoff hooks, and many a Cryptic Background Reference. The big one right now is the "twelve keys" plot, which isn't limited to any one continuity and seems to be setting up for a crossover among crossovers.
  • Valve's writers have gone on the record saying that they intentionally make their stories as ambiguous as possible, so they have the widest possible scope of material for future installments, and can introduce swaths of new information without needing to Retcon anything:
    • In the Half-Life games, almost anything not stated in-game is totally up in the air. How did Eli, Dr. Kleiner, and Judith get from Black Mesa to City 17? Who and what is the G-Man, and what does he want? Does Gordon talk?
    • Since Team Fortress 2 is building on what was once an Excuse Plot, many of the dangling threads have opportunities to become fanfic bait. How did the RED Spy meet BLU Scout's mom? When were the teams formed? How did Silas Mann become a Horseless Headless Horsemann? Why are the teams so similar to each other? Are the BLU mercs their own people or clones of the RED team? The exact details of the merc's individual backstories (along with how or why they started working for Mann Co) is naturally subject to this as well, given that much is either unexplored or subject to Continuity Snarl.
    • The Portal series (and its interquel comic Lab Rat) has several areas often used as launching points, including life at Aperture and the events leading up to GLaDOS's takeover, the exact significance of 'Bring Your Daughter/Cat To Work Day', and the backstories behind several characters, including Doug Rattmann, Chell, Cave Johnson, and Caroline. And, of course, Chell's escape from Aperture at the end of Portal 1/2 (depending on when the fic was written).
  • What happened to Giovanni from Pokémon Red and Blue? A good portion of the fanbase used to think he committed suicide during the Celebi event in HeartGold/SoulSilver, though he shows up again in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (causing Fanon to settle on Bungled Suicide as a result). What happened to Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire's Archie and Maxie? Why is Red on a mountain in Pokémon Gold and Silver? Was he just passing by or has he been there for months?
  • The entire Zelda series. Games seldom make specific references to other games in the franchise, even when they're direct sequels, and despite every game supposedly taking place in the same world, just at different times. Some examples: Where did Navi go? The window she went through turns out to be a dungeon in Twilight Princess — is that where she was? Where does Link go after he saves Termina? Are the Sages in TP the same ones from Ocarina? Did the Sages die at the end of Ocarina? Who the hell is Kaepora Gaebora? Did the Deku Sprout from Ocarina become the tree in Wind Waker? If Tetra is an ancestor of the earlier Zelda, who was the father? Is Queen Rutela related to Princess Ruto? Does every game star a reincarnation of Link, a descendant, or just an unrelated chosen person? Even the release of Hyrule Historia, revealing the order in which the games (up to Skyward Sword) take place, with a three-way branching timeline from Ocarina of Time, leaves all these details up in the air.
  • In The Sims series, the #1 example of this is where is Bella Goth? Why was she last seen with Don Lothario? And why is there a townie named Bella Goth in Strangetown? This one is probably intentional. Other common ones include the mystery of the Tricou family and the House of Fallen Trees in the premade Downtown in Nightlife. Who are those mysterious Tricou townies who are all related? Why does Mrs. Crumplebottom hate everyone?
  • Beyond Good & Evil has Yoa, the mysterious, unknown-language-speaking, unusually blue orphan from the lighthouse. She has no real impact on the plot, outside of the fact that she is one of the orphans in Jade's care, but she's so different from every other NPC in the game that many people speculate on her true nature, and everyone seems to have their own guess.
  • The Nasuverse is rife with this; despite having at least one Exposition Fairy in a single work, several events and concepts are often brought up in passing with little elaboration. Subsequent interviews and source books have managed to provide more information, but also end up unveiling new information that just raise further questions.
  • The Sonic series is absolutely rife with this. Other than Shadow, whose backstory was explored for the most part over the course of two games (ironically making the one character introduced as "mysterious" the one we know most about), and a few other exceptions (the Babylon Rogues, for one), anyone else's past is virtually a blank. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is Knuckles, whose life prior to becoming the Last of His Kind we know close to nothing about.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire is a prime example. The game has some interesting lore, but it's never really developed beyond an Excuse Plot and the opening cutscenes. This leaves a lot of unanswered questions, all of them excellent for Worldbuilding. For instance, precisely what has been chasing the Vasari across space all this time? And why did the Traders despised the Unity's trans-humanist society enough to exile them into space?
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Hoo boy, where to start? The story is a Multiverse-spanning epic saga about the battle between Law and Chaos, and hinges on playing Gods Need Prayer Badly and Clap Your Hands If You Believe like two gleaming banjos on a moonlit stoop both in and out of story. Between this, Retconjuration and Multiple Endings, it's difficult to tell what's canon at the best of times. Cue the fics!
  • Dead Space 3 seemed to be wrapping up loose ends for the origins of the Necromorphs and the Markers, considering it takes place in an abandoned research outpost on the Marker homeworld. However, it's not the case. The "homeworld" is just the planet of another alien species that succumbed to the Necromorph infestation as humanity is now, and though explanation is given to the purpose of the Markers note  and Necromorphs note , the true origin of both the Markers and the Brethren Moons that made them are still unknown.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Featherine created a lot of this when she said that anyone who knows the Golden Truth can create forgeries that are just as true as the original (not that this stops anyone who doesn't know the Golden Truth.) Then there's the whole body of omake TIPS of varying canonicity...
  • FreeSpace 2 has a lot of this, due to the fact that the developers never created a FreeSpace 3 to tie up all the unresolved plot threads. Project ETAK, Admiral Bosch, reunification with Sol, and Shivan actions at Capella all give plenty of material for user-made campaigns to work with.
  • Writer of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Kotaro Uchikoshi, stated in the Q&A on the game's official website that this was the main reason why he left so many points ambiguous. The same thing with the game's sequel, Virtue's Last Reward.
  • Skies of Arcadia: The world of Arcadia is riddled with this, really, being set during the planet's Age of Discovery and thus presenting the player with a myriad of strange and mysterious breadcrumbs, but the big one is the Black Moon. There are several hints throughout the game that Arcadia may have once had a seventh Black Moon, which was either destroyed or sank below the planet's surface thousands of years before the game takes place. Needless to say, it is extremely common for the Black Moon and/or its civilization to show up in fanfics.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: The Knight-Captain's parentage has proven relatively popular as a starting point for fan fiction. Some details of your mother are known—her name was Esmerelle, she was an adventurer alongside Daeghun Farlong, and she died the day West Harbor was destroyed in the battle between Ammon Jerro and the King of Shadows—but your father is a complete unknown: one lemon decided he was a man Esmerelle had a one-night stand with.
  • In Kirby, the amount of Canon Fodder is helped that while lots of story is given from Flavor Text, manuals, and Word of God, lots of it's left unexplained and mysterious.
    • Meta Knight. Where did he come from, and what is he trying to do? Why does he look like Kirby? Is he the same species, or even related? Can he inhale or copy abilities?
    • What is Dark Matter, and where did it come from?
    • If Gooey is related to Dark Matter, why is he good? Why does he look so much different from all other Dark Matter?
    • What's the deal with Shiver Star? Why does it look like a frozen earth? Is it After the End? What was that factory made for? What are the creatures in those tubes? Did the Haltmann Works Company invade the planet?
    • What are the "Soul" Final Bosses? Are they related, or even all possessed by a common threat?
    • Who was responsible for Drawcia and Paintra's painting in Canvas Curse?
    • How did Dark Nebula get into its chest, and how did Meta Knight (and possibly King Dedede) know about it?
    • Who is Galacta Knight? Why did people fear his power so much? How was he sealed up? Where did he come from; where did he go?
    • Where did Grand Doomer come from? Was it from Another Dimension? If so, how did it get to Pop Star?
    • Why does HR-D3 vaguely resemble King Dedede? How did it "drift in" from Another Dimension?
    • In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, what was Magolor talking about when he said that someone on Halcandra may know Kirby? Or, when he said that the Ancients created lots of ancient artifacts? What does "clockwork stars" refer to?
    • What "countless hosts" did Soul of Sectonia feed on? Also, in Planet Robobot, why was Sectonia's data spread across 1,000 years?
    • Who is Susie's mother?
    • Has the Haltmann Works Company traveled to other planets in the series? If so, what planets? Did they take over them? Rock Star? Shiver Star? Halcandra?
    • In Kirby: Planet Robobot, in the Flavor Text for the Dark Matter Clone, what does it mean by "full potential"? Will Dark Matter make a full return?
  • Suda51's Kill the Past universe (primarily The Silver Case, Flower, Sun and Rain and Killer7, but even the question of what games are part of Kill the Past relies on this trope) runs heavily on this. Almost every scene and line beg to be expanded upon. The Hand in killer7 companion book is particularly filled with this, including lines like "The chess game between Harman Smith and Kun Lan never ends, fearing HIS apparition . . . . " in the timeline with no explanation as to who "HIS apparition" refers to. It also includes mentions of many missions the protagonists went on that are never even alluded to in the game proper, tying in well with how the game itself identifies the first assignment played in the game as their thirty-third assignment.

    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue is absolutely packed with unanswered questions, that led to loads of fan speculation. Creator Burnie Burns even commented that fans figured out entire plot twists and arcs before they are even aired. Almost everything is called back to at some point, but it can take multiple seasons to address issues, all the while raising new ones.

    Western Animation 
  • The Venture Brothers is filled with stuff like this. With every episode comes a new conspiracy theory.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • What happened to Zuko's mother? This is answered in Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search.
    • Did Azula stay crazy for the rest of her life? The creators are deliberately silent on this, but head writer Aaron Ehasz has openly stated that if the series had gotten a fourth season, the answer would be no.
    • Did Toph ever go home to her parents? She confronts and reconciles with her father in Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift.
    • Is Appa the last air bison? Heck, did Aang and Katara become the Adam and Eve for a new race of Air Nomads? The Legend of Korra immediately gives the answers as "no" and "kinda". The Gaang found more bison at some point, and Tenzin was Aang and Katara's only offspring that could airbend. All four of his children are airbenders, though, and Korra opening the spirit portal at the end of Book Two caused hundreds of former non-benders, including Aang's other son, to develop the ability the following season.
    • Why is Iroh so knowledgeable about spirits? Not only can he see them when they're invisible to most people, but he's said to have journeyed in the Spirit World, and the threat to Tui the Moon Spirit is enough to make him switch sides. Nothing else is said on the matter, though in The Legend of Korra he reappears as a permanent resident of the Spirit World, so he was probably just a really spiritually attuned individual.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers has tons of it. Gadget's pre-"To the Rescue" life is as unknown as her father Geegaw's fate (let alone that of her mother) or what happened in Zanzibar back then, Tammy and Bink's mother has neither a name nor a husband, and so forth.
  • In TaleSpin, Kit's parents and Molly's father are never even mentioned. (Though seeing as how much of a bitch Rebecca can get, some fans think Molly's father most likely just left her.)
  • A couple of episodes of The Transformers mentioned that many Transformers had fled Cybertron during the Civil War. In a late episode, Cyclonus and Scourge encounter a planet of them, and the main characters of Transformers: ★Headmasters were all such refugees.
  • While a lot of stuff is explained through the official website and the Scientist's journal on Facebook, 9 still runs on this trope like fossil fuel, mostly because there is very little insight into the other stitchpunks' lives before 9 made the scene.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers only ran one season, but left a luggage shuttle's worth for fans to play with 25 years on. How does Eliza get rescued (or does she get rescued)? What's Doc's backstory? All Mandell will say is that he's Jamaican, wealthy, and enlisted "reluctantly." What happened to Niko's home colony? Where are the Series 1-4 teams? What happened on Tarkon to create the Heart and the Scarecrow, and what's the reason for their rivalry? How many Supertroopers escaped the riot at Wolf Den? This is just the start; the series itself had a large cast, plenty of Noodle Incidents mentioned in passing, huge amounts of Back Story that had to be compressed into a couple lines, and some stuff that had to fly too low for the casual fan and/or "target" demographic to notice.
  • Danny Phantom accumulated hordes of this, thanks to early cancellation and the head writer being replaced:
    • "The Ultimate Enemy", from whether the Bad Future really was altered, to the nature of Clockwork, to the prospect of Dark Danny escaping.
    • Several things in "Reign Storm", such as the fate of Pariah Dark and the deal Vlad struck with Fright Knight.
    • The ending of "D-Stabilized", especially what Valerie planned to do now that she knew of Vlad's true nature and the identities of two out of three of the show's half-ghosts.
  • There's a reason My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic acquired such a massive fanfiction community in such a short amount of time:
    • Equestria itself. How was nature altered to require pony assistance, and why has the Everfree forest remained resistant? (Or is it the other way around?) Is "Equestria" a planet like ours, or like the Discworld, or simply one nation? How do other sapient creatures like the dragons and griffins fit in? One very dedicated fan has even drawn an insanely detailed map of Equestria and the realms beyond it conceptualizing Equestria as one of many lands on a planet where magical quadrupeds are the dominant group of species instead of bipeds, and Hasbro's official map seems to point in that direction.
    • Speaking of sapient creatures, what are the changelings? (The most common fanon explanation is that they're a race of ponies corrupted by Discord, but there are other versions as well.) The show has since given more insight into what they are and how they work but took so long in doing it that most fans rejected it and prefer the firmly rooted fanon explanations.
    • The Royal Sisters. God Empresses or simply very powerful ponies? Caretakers or actual creators of Equestria? Appearing by themselves, or did their parents leave/die? What exactly happened to almost cause The Night That Never Ends 1000 years ago? And then the introduction of Discord in season 2 basically caused all the speculation to implode in on itself and then outward again into entirely new directions. This is further complicated by "Hearth's Warming Eve", where it is shown that they weren't around for the founding of Equestria, apparently appearing later.
    • Anything and everything to do with cutie marks and the degree of reliance the ponies have towards them, Cutie Mark Failure Insanity Syndrome in particular.
    • Pinkie's unusual magical abilities, and to a lesser extent, Fluttershy's as well. In canon, Twilight has given up ever understanding how Pinkie does what she does, but fanon has made her everything from an embodiment of Chaos, to a vampire hunter blessed by Celestia, to the descendant of a long line of necromancers who's intermittently possessed by twenty-seven of her ancestors. Some other suggested theories include: Pinkie Pie is Loki's (Norse god of trickery) great-granddaughter. Pinkie has Power Born of Madness and can break the fourth wall because she's insane (or it made her insane), similar to Deadpool's insanity. Pinkie is a benevolent Eldritch Abomination. Pinkie is a Warner Brothers cartoon who escaped into Ponyville. The list goes on and on...The WMG page for Friendship Is Magic has an entire section just for her!
  • Daria had a Bizarro Episode where an interdimensional wormhole behind a local Chinese restaurant led to an island full of anthropomorphic holidays. While initially Fanon Discontinuity, nowadays many fans will use that wormhole for other sci-fi/fantasy stories where it can take them to a variety of other worlds.
  • There are several in Young Justice (2010), but the two primary ones right now are "What happened during the five-year time skip?" and "What are the Light's plans with Darkseid?" There was a minor one relating to the heroes who must have been members of the team due to how high the designation numbers got but were never seen, but Word of God revealed them right before the finale, as a reward for fans' patience.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has its fair share. Usually either about the Galactic KND and other related parts of the Grand Finale or whatever the incident that lead to the Delightful Children making Numbuh 1 bald and the reason Numbuh 5 refuses to lead the team was.
  • The Simpsons: Why do Milhouse's parents, Kirk and Louanne, look almost exactly alike even though they're (supposedly) related only by marriage? The key may lie in an episode showing the founding of Springfield in pioneer days, in which a fair number of the settlers did not participate because they had already broken away to found Shelbyville, which recognized a man's right to "marry his cousins." Hmmmmm...
    • Recently subverted. Turns out they’re cousins.
  • Steven Universe had quite of bit of this due to the show's slow airing schedule meaning it took a long time for plot threads to pan out. In some cases, this resulted in the fandom agreeing on some silly temporary answers for a few of them. One example being when Peridot escaped the ship's destruction at the end of season one, consensus was that she spent the episodes until her next appearance lost in Canada. Ironically, the character would end up obsessed with a Canadian teen drama after her Heel–Face Turn. Another is when Jasper fell into a crack in the ground during an earthquake. The fandom decided that she obviously fell into the Underground from Undertale. On the more serious side, there are unanswered questions abound about the minutia of the Gem War and Homeworld society prior to Era 3.
  • There's a Time Skip of fifty years between season 4 of Samurai Jack and the finale season. Even the episode/chapter number skips ahead. What kind of adventures did Jack get up to during that time? According to Word of God, that's entirely up to the audience. In terms of continuity, the only things that need to happen during that time are Scotsman having kids, Aku successfully destroying all the time portals, and Jack losing his sword. Everything else is total free game.

Alternative Title(s): Fanfic Bait