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Fan Myopia

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"You're referencing literature I have no way to be familiar with!"

Fans of a particular work or medium see things differently from people who aren't fans of the same things. For instance, a fan might assume that the work they are a fan of is much better known than it actually is. Or, conversely, they might assume that nobody knows a different work simply because they and their circle never heard of it. The fan's perspective is a little warped because they are so close to certain materials and so distanced from others.

Fan myopia is aided and abetted by having a circle of friends who share a narrow interest, making it seem much less obscure than it is. The Internet can be an enabler here: If you spend all your time talking to people who are fans of the same things you like, it's easy to jump from there — even unconsciously — to the assumption that everyone is a fan of the same things you like.


Even when an interest is shared by a young person's entire generation, it might well be unheard of in other, older demographics and vice-versa. This, too, is a kind of fan myopia. Fan myopia also can lead to over-enthusiasm for the work and related works ("This show is the best thing ever!" "Every other medium is garbage!") and so on. This happens more easily to younger fans than older ones who have, over time, seen works come and go and who have even seen media come and go. (Anyone remember Smell-O-Vision?)

Compare Opinion Myopia, for when people feel strongly about something and expect everyone else to feel the same way. Getting too blinded by Fan Myopia can lead to Fan Dumb; all the variations of Fan Dumb, after all, are essentially caused by the fan in question having simply lost perspective on exactly how important something in the fandom is.


Fan Myopia can lead to behaviors such as:

  • Believing that their favorite work invented or codified a trope that was already firmly established.
  • Failing to realize that a joke in their favorite comedy is actually a reference to something that was already famous. Usually an effect of being too young to have known the source of the reference, but definitely a kind of myopia.
  • Failing to understand why a cherished TV show was canceled, or why a book, movie, or video game doesn't sell highly, when in fact hardly anyone was interested in it aside from its cult fanbase. It's even conceivable that it wasn't Screwed by the Network, but rather it simply didn't draw enough interest to stay afloat.
  • Failing to understand how one can be just a "casual fan" of a particular work. Or, indeed, not a fan at all.
  • Being appalled when the creator or writer of a show/song/book doesn't know as much as the fan knows about their work, and seemingly isn't interested in something they wrote or starred in many years earlier. Perhaps an effect of assuming that the creator shares exactly the same attitudes as the fans. This can lead to fans thinking they know the show better than the people who created it. Also leads to accusations of selling out just because somebody stopped writing obscure cult music or TV and became more mainstream. Parodied on Saturday Night Live in the famous "Get A Life!" sketch with William Shatner. In the sketch, a Trekkie brings up the scene from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise" when Kirk gets his effects out of a safe. It turns out the fan wants to know what the combination on the safe was and, of course, Shatner has no clue.
  • Making demands that an actor must "give to fans" by doing conventions or DVD commentaries, or demands that actors become as fannish as fans and always refer to the work as the highlight of their career. Notorious examples of actors being bashed by certain fans for not being fannish: Sarah Michelle Gellar by Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, Christopher Eccleston by Doctor Who fans, Josette Simon by Blake's 7 fans.
  • Telling their fandom in-jokes constantly, seemingly unaware that most of the people who are listening/reading won't understand what they are running on about.
  • Assuming that their favored work (or media, or genre, etc.) is superior to and/or "different" from all other similar types of work, media, or genre, not realizing that their favored work (or media, or genre, etc.) is, in fact, very similar to all similar works.
  • Assuming that the work is known worldwide. For an example, lots of anime series which are known in the United States and Japan aren't well known outside. It may be surprising for fans to hear that series like Haruhi Suzumiya and Neon Genesis Evangelion aren't that well known outside a few selected countries, or even in the countries where they are available.
  • Relatedly, assuming that all the details of the work are widely known to the general public through Pop Culture Osmosis. OK, even someone who has never seen anything with Star Wars in the title could probably still tell you the name of the bad guy in the black armour, but there can be the tendency to assume that one's own favourite shows are equally well-known (or at least to pretend to assume, when really we just want to feel smarter for knowing about it) and thus that everybody knows who, for instance, Shinji is. This is most visible with cult series and foreign-exported works, but you can even find this with the big super-famous franchises, when fans assume that the general public not only knows the basic gist of the work but also the minutiae. To return to our Star Wars example, a myopic fan might assume that not only does everyone know that the big scary dude in black is Darth Vader, but also that the bald cyborg guy who sometimes hangs out with Lando (remember that guy?) is named Lobot.
  • Assuming that the work somehow "transcends" other examples of the genre simply because they are fans of it.
  • With respect to certain franchises, fans may occasionally assume the position of "We are your customers and the customers know what they want". Or they may play various appeal cards such as "You wouldn't be here if it weren't for us fans so it belongs to us as much as you".
  • A related phenomenon is assuming that one's own forum or subset of the community is an accurate representation of the fandom as a whole. While there are some Harry Potter fans who would just love it if Harry and Draco were to have angsty sex in the shower, most readers seem to agree with the author that the story was fine without it — indeed, that it would have been baffling, and that catering to the shipping community would probably alienate quite a few of the other fans... plenty of whom will have no idea that there even is such a thing as "shipping", or "fanfic" or "fanon".
  • Insisting that creators and producers should tell the story that the fans want to tell. This story might be a story highlighting their favorite underrepresented character. Or a story that answers certain unanswered questions, shows a backstory, Great Offscreen War or Noodle Incident which was never meant to be shown, or providing closure to a character or incomplete or open ended story. For example, many Star Trek: The Original Series fans are still demanding a canonical final fate for the surviving original characters (while the surviving actors who played them are still alive). This mentality tends to disrupt the artistic integrity of the franchise in question due to the fan (not creator) tendency to treat their favorite franchise as if it were just a product to them (as it is for the studios and sponsors). To less impassioned fans, unanswered questions, ambiguous endings, and interesting characters or subplots that don't get enough screentime can be integral parts of any story and force us to use our imagination to fill in the blanks. And beloved characters leave the stage when their story has been told.
  • Related to the above is the inverse; not wanting a story to be told the way it is intended to be or should be told just because it clashes with the fan's preferred story, no matter how unlikely it is that their preferred story will ever happen. For example, fans of a particular shipping pairing naturally want their preferred ship to hook up as quickly and painlessly as possible, and would be perfectly content if the series was nothing but them cuddling on the sofa making out. However, if that pairing were to get together straight away with absolutely no complications, hardships or difficulties whatsoever, the story of their romance wouldn't be a particularly exciting or interesting one. Any difficulties they might face, however, will result in a chorus of pained howling. And that's in the case of the Official Couple; those who follow a pairing that has no chance in hell of ever happening can react even more passionately when the creators try to remind them that it's never going to happen, even if there are perfectly sound and logical reasons why it's never going to happen. Similarly, those who have built up a particular piece of Fanon up to the point where they're convinced it's fundamental to the story can react with genuine betrayal if the storyteller casually takes a direction that completely wipes the Fanon out of existence. A good example of this is some fans' outcry when J. K. Rowling's more in depth look at the mercenary and sadistic Goblin culture in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows clashed with their built up fandom belief of a more honor-bound and glorified society.
  • With franchises that last several generations, it is inevitable that the reins of power over creation and production will be passed on to new individuals, some of whom may not have been born when the franchise began and are tasked with keeping said franchise up to date and relevant. Typically, the original creator/producer is deceased so fans take it upon themselves to decide whether or not he/she would approve of the direction the current producer is taking with his/her creation. This includes the obvious nerd fare like Star Trek, but also — and somewhat surprisingly — kids' shows like Thomas the Tank Engine. This can also happen with comics, and even some book series see a change of author when they are popular enough.
  • In anticipation of angry reactions to the above sentence, refusing to acknowledge that a work was intended for children. Many perfectly respectable works were intended for children, and many of them are still enjoyable when you're an adult, yes, but (to pick a random example) Sonic Sat AM was still a kids' show, and acknowledging that doesn't reduce the work's quality. In fact, one might even argue that attracting a Periphery Demographic is a symptom of higher quality.
  • Overestimating the amount of free time other fans of a series or just potential audience members have to actually go out and read/watch/play a certain work and spouting off Spoilers to such individuals who were planning to eventually experience the work unspoiled. Yes, there are certain It Was His Sled situations where it is impossible to go into a work without knowing major plot twists, but the myopic fan assumes that any work whose plot they know about is fair game to discuss and spoil to anyone else, no matter how recent or how little chance the other person has had to see it, possibly even telling the other person "I just spoiled something, but it's your fault for not having already seen the movie/show."
  • When a franchise has been around long enough to be remade in several different incarnations, or even several forms of media, myopic fans of one particular iteration may insist that theirs is the only good version and all the others are changed, so they suck. Or to further enrage a Broken Base, they may not even know about the other versions.

Tropers are not immune to Fan Myopia, nor do they claim to be. Indeed, much of this wiki could not have come about if it weren't for zealous fans of television and other media. However, generalizing from your own experience is usually a bad idea. Assuming that other people know more than they do can result in incomprehensible attempts at Two Words: Added Emphasis or similar, or telling the world that the ending to something is It Was His Sled when it wasn't, really.

Bad troping:

  • Not Self-Explanatory: Citing examples of characters or episodes without explaining what work they're talking about, because "surely everyone knows what I'm referring to". ("Cheetahmen II. Nuff said.")
  • Committing the infamous "How could this trope go so long without mentioning Show X?" Word Cruft.
  • Adding images that are Just a Face and a Caption.
  • Naming tropes after a character or quote from their favorite work, without realizing that people unfamiliar with the work will not understand the trope name or quote, or without realizing that most people on the planet are in fact unfamiliar with that work.
  • Instead of writing the work's name, Pot Holing the characters/situations/quotes to the work's page out of the belief that it's so Self-Explanatory that everyone's seen it and knows instantly who or what is being discussed. ("Vegeta does this trope...") More justified when the work name and character name are the same thing, but in that case the name should be italicized (e.g., instead of "Akagi does this trope...", it should be "Akagi does this trope...")
  • Using the phrase "in a recent episode", which is useless to anyone who doesn't know what the episode is, and dates quickly. It's better to use the episode's title and/or number if you know it, or just "in an/one episode" if you don't.
  • Quoting or referencing a work on a page that has nothing to do with it, out of the assumption that everyone will get the reference.
  • Assuming that a show which provides a subversion or deconstruction of a particular trope is somehow automatically superior to a show which doesn't — and, by extension, that their favourite show is a subversion / deconstruction of this trope when it's Not a Subversion and Not a Deconstruction. Remember, Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Assuming that their favored work (or media, or genre, etc.) is the ultimate example of everything — or at least, the ultimate example of everything the fan thinks is good. On this wiki, at least, this tends to lead to misguided Entry Pimping and forced attempts to present the show as an example of a particular 'good' trope even if the show in question does not actually use or reflect that trope, whilst over-protectively justifying or even outright deleting a show's entry in a 'bad' trope regardless of how fair or accurate the example from the show is.
  • Mentioning a specific example from a series without indicating in what episode/book it appeared, making it hard to look up exactly where it happened.
  • Comparing an example with a similar example from another series, with implications that they will know because it's so widespread.
  • Adding an example without mentioning what series it's from.
  • Adding an example without explaining why it's an example.
  • Neglecting to put spoiler tags on major twists in a work under the assumption that others are already familiar with those plot twists.
  • Using a lot of jargon in an entry that makes it impossible to understand for anyone who doesn't already know what it means — don't assume that, for example "Use Pudge's hook from the jungle at a top-lane carry using his ult for an epic gank" makes sense to everyone (or for that matter, anyone).
  • Listing the name of a fanfic on a trope's examples list without clarifying what it's a fanfic of.note 
  • Using (certain) trope names in locales other than TV Tropes.
  • Assuming that creators are making references or allusions to other works you are familiar with, when a coincidence is more likely. Literary characters are almost never Expies of your favorite anime protagonists, video game characters, or movie villains, no matter how much the description fits, unless they actually have a creator in common.

Alternative Title(s): Fan Myopic


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