Throwaway references in fiction are often going to be important later, or sops to verisimilitude. But some references are thrown in for fun, to reference what the fans are thinking or wondering about, Fan Nicknames, and other aspects that come from the culture that has surrounded the work.
The more accessible the fanbase, the more widespread this trope, so Webcomics are especially prone. Sometimes, the nod canonizes an idea that came from the fanbase originally, or works an Ascended Meme into the dialogue.
Compare Official Fan-Submitted Content.
- Attack on Titan: After the production staff liked the idea of Jean being the backflipping soldier in the opening, Jean was shown performing that exact move as an escape maneuver when his group encountered the Female Titan.
- MadLeomon's death in Digimon Xros Wars wasn't a surprise, considering that a Leomon dies in every series. So considering that he was the Starter Villain and dies in episode 3, it seemed as though the writers just wanted to cover the obligatory death as soon as possible and move onto other things.
- In Death Note's penultimate volumes for both arcs, the interstitial factoids, reserving the remaining important details for the final stretch, addressed such vital questions as whether Death Notes could have non-black covers and whether shinigami could have sex. (Yes and NO!, respectively.)
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- One of the most commonly asked questions in Nanoha was answered in the manga. Who would win between Nanoha and Hayate? (Answer: Nanoha. With ease. Apparently, Hayate's a Squishy Wizard. Highly destructive amounts of power, but long casting time, and Swiss cheese defense that anyone training under Nanoha could beat. Yes, this includes Caro. Without her dragons.)
- The StrikerS manga also answered another long-standing question: Who would win in a fight between Nanoha and Signum? Starting with a textbook mock battle, it's revealed that they planned on going all-out in the last couple minutes. It's somewhat inconclusive; while Nanoha breaks out Blaster-1 to hit Signum in the face with a full-power Divine Buster...Signum shoots through it with her Sturmfalken arrow. Hayate rules it a draw, but Signum seems fine while Nanoha is dazed and is being supported by Fate. When Signum chides Nanoha for not knowing how to hold back and thinking that she was going to die... Nanoha clearly believes it was the other way around.
- The manga ending of Zatch Bell! included both movie mamodo in some shots, making them canon.
- Eichiro Oda, who writes One Piece, publishes a list of fans' questions in each volume about minutiae to do with the series. While his answers do occasionally reveal some deliberate attention to detail (which may affect the plot later on), many of his replies appear to be made up on the spot.
- There was a cover story arc that did little more than show how many of the characters had changed after the Time Skip.
- And similarly, Eyeshield 21 often answers rather mundane questions about the characters (like what they eat for breakfast, how much they study, how often a certain character doesn't wear pants...) in a similar question-corner.
- This seems to be fairly common in manga, as D.Gray-Man does it too, except the characters often end up answering the questions. This can sometimes turn out ugly, such as the couple times Allen and Kanda got stuck together for the job...
- A much speculated Key/Visual Arts question was answered in an episode of the CLANNAD After Story anime. What will happen if Sanae's bread and Akiko's jam were used together? As Nagisa innocently said: "It's the ultimate combination!" Knocked-out members of Kazuto Miyazawa's gang is what we get.
- The ancient rivalry between Arcueid and Gilgamesh among Nasuverse fans got a major fandom nod in the crossover game Battle Moon Wars when Gil snubs Arcueid as being unworthy of his notice at the tail end of Act 3 (Super route), only to get utterly creamed by her late in Act 4 (with some help from Saber and Avalon).
- At the end of a scene in Evangelion 1.0, where Misato and Ritsko ride a chairlift down a shaft, Misato remarks, "My butt is freezing!" This would be funniest among fans who had been affectionately referring to the short shorts she wears as part of her uniform as her 'butt-freezers'.
- The KonoSetsu fandom in Mahou Sensei Negima! is so large, they were actually referred to by name in one of the Drama CDs of Negima!?
- The creators of Durarara!! acknowledged a popular ship in one episode when Erika Squees about how Shizuo and Izaya must be in love. The other characters' disgusted reactions to the idea is absolutely hilarious (Shinra also thinks Shizuo/Izaya is possible, but Celty shuts him up before he can say anything else).
- It does fandom nods a lot, usually in the form of side stories, which usually answer any question from "why did Shizuo dye his hair?"note to "how do Walker and Erika pay for all that crap they buy?"note .
- It appears that Kishimoto acknowledged the fan theory that Kushina was the nine-tailed fox in chapter 498. When Naruto finds his mother while trying to gain control of the nine-tailed fox, he accuses her of being the kyuubi's true form. This earns him a punch from her. There's also all the fanart depicting the Ninetails as a red-haired woman.
- Naruto Gaiden is essentially a Take That, Audience! against the fan-theory that Karin is Sarada's mother because they have similar glasses. Not knowing her father, Sarada learns about Karin and goes on a quest to find out if she's really her biological mother. As it turns out, it was a misunderstanding. Sakura is Sarada's mom and Karin herself even mocks the idea that she's Sarada's biological mom.
- Tiger & Bunny has a recurrent gag in the On the Next segments where either Kotetsu or Barnaby will disclose entirely inconsequential bits of trivia about themselves. Kotetsu eats the ice in his drinks and brushes his teeth in the bath! Barnaby has a normal body temperature of 35.7 Celsius and drinks milk before going to bed!
- In Persona 4: The Animation, what was once a throwaway line in the game about cabbage became Adachi's signature item thanks to the fandom. And that became immortalized in the animated adaptation. This is further expanded in the Updated Re-release of the game, Persona 4: The Golden in Adachi's Social Link.
- The Mobile Suit Gundam SEED SD Character Theater gag shorts nod to the jokes about Kira and Athrun being a little too close by showing them holding hands and saying each others' names while love hearts appear around them, to the confusion and disgust of Shinn, Rey, and Lunamaria. They also contain a potential nod to "Darth Lacus" by having her get shadowy and super-scary when confronted by a stray dog. Likewise, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam has a non-canon story path where Lacus jumps in a Gundam and kicks her boyfriend Kira's ass, proving who really wears the pants in the relationship.
- It's a common rumor that Fullmetal Alchemist that Riza's name was meant to be "Lisa" but was incorrectly translated and never fixed. In the manga "Lisa" is a secret identity she uses when spying.
- Feeling nostalgic, Ash would suddenly call in his Charizard late in the Best Wishes saga of Pokémon. Iris makes the assumption that Charizard is a Dragon-type, much to the disbelief of everyone, mirroring those who don't know Charizard's actual typing (fire/flying), and the fans who would repeatedly correct them, respectively.
- Fairy Tail: At first, certain sections of the fandom bemoaned the idea of an anime filler arc following the conclusion of Grand Magic Games arc, and this kind of reaction is nothing new to anime in general and Shōnen in particular. Though a good portion of these fans have since come around to at least being more open-minded about the filler arc after finding the new character designs for the Eclipse Celestial Spirits interesting, the first actual episode of the filler arc was positively chock-full of references and foreshadowing for the then-upcoming Tartarus arc, including Happy getting an afro and Character Development for Lucy and Aquarius' relationship (and given what happens in the Tartarus arc between the two, this can very easily be considered a Tearjerker to those who have read it. It's hardly a secret that the fandom had been eager to see Tartarus animated, and if these Mythology Gags are any indication, the studio is well aware of this.
- In Yona of the Dawn:
- Zeno claims that when his powers are active (specifically, when he's maimed and his body regenerates), his arms and legs are just as strong as Kija's and Jaeha's. This led to fandom wondering if he could also gain the power of Shin-ah's eyes, which can see through objects, see over great distances, and even paralyze people. Eventually in the manga, Jaeha asks Zeno this directly, and Zeno says no. They just get really hard and tough, like the rest of his body, to his disappointment.
- Fandom has also long speculated that someone could obtain Zeno's powers by drinking his blood, the same way Zeno gained them by drinking the blood of the Yellow Dragon God. Mizari later declares this is his intent in regards to not only Zeno's powers, but Kija's and Jaeha's as well. Zeno sets the record straight: this would not work, and he knows this for a fact, because soldiers have been doused in his blood and animals have eaten his flesh, and all of them died anyway.
- Dragon Ball Super had a scene in which Mr. Popo uncharacteristically threatens Vegeta should he break the Time Chamber again, with an extreme close-up on Popo's eyes while he made that threat. This seems a bit too similar to the way Dragonball Z Abridged portrays Mr. Popo to be coincidence, and many fans have guessed it was a reference. If true, it was most likely a radar moment, since Toei (the copyright holders for the Dragon Ball anime) have a notorious hatred of Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
- After being returned to Green Lantern status after the Sinestro Corps War storyline, many comic fans believed for various reasons that Kyle Rayner would become a Blue Lantern, at least temporarily. When he inevitably didn't (and the offer for leadership of the Blue Lanterns was extended to Hal Jordan instead), there was a minor internet backlash from parts of the fandom. When Blackest Night rolled around, there was a brief line wherein Guy Gardner mockingly suggested Kyle exchange his green ring for a blue one.
- Also in Blackest Night, there was speculation leading all the way up to the event that there would be White Lantern that would be the one to defeat the Black Lantern Corps. As the event grew closer and every new storyline involved Hal Jordan at one point or another putting on or being consumed by different rings, it became obvious it was meant to be him. While Hal Jordan did eventually merge with the White Entity, Sinestro did it first, making it look like he was going to be White Lantern. While this might've been pre-planned, there's no denying Sinestro being on the cover of one of the Green Lantern issues, as the White Lantern, and saying directly to the camera "You were expecting someone else?" wasn't intended to poke fun at the fan assumption Hal was going to be the White Lantern.
- In War of the Green Lanterns, Kyle finally puts on a blue ring, and Ganthet takes a moment to tell Kyle what a bad idea that was. (He's not too happy with John, Hal, or Guy's choices either.)
- The text pages in the Knights of the Old Republic comics, in issues 13-24, were mostly this. And they did venture into Continuity Porn territory at times. John Jackson Miller apparently referenced the obscurest things he found on Wookieepedia.
- Marvel Comics' Captain America: Who Won't Wield The Shield? had Forbush Man quoting several common fan complaints right in the face of Marvel's writers and editor Steve Wacker. And is portrayed as both completely out of his mind and right at the same time.
- The ending of the Green Lantern issue of the Harley Quinn Team-Up Series Harley's Little Black Book features Harley groping Hal Jordan's butt, which is a nod to the notorious fascination with said body part among DC universe fangirls.
- My Little Pony Micro Series:
- In Issue #3 Vinyl Scratch's eyes are red like they were in fan-art, rather than magenta/violet like they are in the show. Colorist Heather Breckel confirms this is intentional.
- Derpy is the Pony Express mail carrier.
- Rarity is called "The best pony"
- Photo Finish and Hoity-Toity are seen as a couple during the final Canterlot show.
- Applejack "boops" Rarity on the nose when talking about the spa.
- One of the tasks to be done to obtain the "Pk-card" (given to the most loyal fans of Paperinik New Adventures) was to take a shower in a phone booth. In the background of a scene of #17, "Shooting Star", a man is doing exactly that.
- Secret Love has a big dance scene showing a bunch of popular Fan Preferred Couples, including some Ho Yay/Les Yay ships that would otherwise never be shown in an official comic. These include: Charles Xavier and Magneto, Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman, Kamala Khan and Robbie Reyes, Kate Bishop and America Chavez, Captain America and Natasha Stark (a Rule 63 version of Tony Stark), She-Hulk and Daredevil, and a prominent shot of Prodigy and Speed straight up making out.
- The Sonic Universe #89 "& Knuckles" variant cover has Espio shout "Why am I connected to the bee?!", a line Espio himself says in Awesome Chaotix.
- After Richard Rider, the original Nova was killed off, his fans developed a reputation for being somewhat rabid and vicious towards his replacement, Sam Alexander, and any creator who they felt was to blame for Rich's fate. When Richard finally came back, the writer threw in this line:
Ms Marvel: The original Nova! I've read so much about you on the forums! Your fans are...intense.
- Star Trek: Untold Voyages: In "Odyssey's End", after Starfleet adopts the uniform design introduced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Dr. McCoy says that he preferred the grey uniforms seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as they were comfortable, almost like wearing pajamas. Admiral Kirk retorts that pajamas are for sleeping, not for running a starship. Many Star Trek fans have compared the uniforms seen in The Motion Picture to pajamas over the years.
- In Mega Man Recut, Roll calls Dr. Petto "Dr. Pedo," a common fan mishearing of his name.
- Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has references to Guts Man's butt, which became a meme.
- In Super Sentai vs. Power Rangers: The Liveblog, one of the reasons why the liveblogger chose Sean to become the Ultimate Red Legendary Ranger was because of a fake interview with the actor on April Fools' Day, with one part mentioning that he auditioned for a "red space alien", thought by fans to be the Rangers' equivalent to Aka Red.
- In The Bank Called, Your Reality Check Bounced, Kyouya explains that the fanfic can't refer to the pairing of Edward Elric and Winry Rockbell as Edwin because it would be too much of a nod to the established fandom. (The fic is a crossover between Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Ouran High School Host Club, but only Kyouya realizes that they're in a fanfic.)
- It's a running joke in the Dragon Age: Inquisition fandom that the oblivious scout who interrupts a romanced Cullen's first kiss with the Lady Inquisitor is named Jim. It's also a running joke that Solas, who is bald, resembles an egg. In Skyhold Academy Yearbook, one of the students is based on this character; his name is Jim Scout, and he casually asks his friend at one point, "Have you ever noticed that Professor Harel looks like an egg?"
- A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 2 of the sequel Diplomat at Large, Octavia references the long-debunked fan theory that she's one of Pinkie's sisters all grown up, wondering why people think they're related.
- Harry Potter:
- It gave some aside time to stress the pronunciation of Hermione's name, and might well have thrown a slight wrench into an inheritance issue solely to clear up the birth order of three of the characters (though the way it did so strongly suggests that J. K. Rowling did not do the math).
- The chapter in Deathly Hallows where Harry strongly and repeatedly stresses to Ron the fact that he sees Hermione as a friend and a sister figure, nothing more, seems to have been an Anvilicious nod to the Harmonians (Harry/Hermione shippers), who got very upset when Ron and Hermione hooked up instead. There's also the illusions the Slytherin locket evokes of Harry and Hermione being together, with illusion-Hermione repeating many of the arguments used by Harmonians on why Harry is better than Ron as a potential boyfriend.
- Also, the Muggle erotica in Sirius Black's bedroom in book 7. Despite his "special friendship" with James (and possibly Lupin), Rowling assures us that Sirius was a red-blooded manly man who loved boobies. (Or the third option.)
- Aberforth Dumbledore's Patronus is, in fact, a goat. Given that he was once prosecuted for "using inappropriate charms on a goat", this may have been a nod to the fandom theory that he liked goats. Like, he really, really liked goats.
- In the penultimate book of the series, Albus Dumbledore dies. At once, a number of fans tried to come up with excuses for how he could've survived. In the final book, Mad-Eye Moody is killed under similar circumstances, and Ron attempts to find reasons he might still be alive, using many of the same arguments. Naturally, these are all shot down.
- In a nod to some of the bizarre or nonsensical shippings that float around about Harry Potter, one book had a scene where Harry and Hermione discuss if the Hogwarts caretaker and the librarian were secretly a couple.
- Little Women: When Laurie begs Jo to marry him in Part Second, he desperately insists, "Don't disappoint us! Everyone expects it!" No doubt whom "everyone" means... Too bad Alcott was determined to sink that ship mercilessly. Sorry, Laurie.
- Star Wars Legends:
- Timothy Zahn's novel, Star Wars: Allegiance, has a cameo appearance by an X-wing pilot named Stacy, who fits the description of Pink 5, a pink-wearing Han Soloobsessed character from a popular series of fan films.
- Another nod is from the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics. Stackpole referenced an alt_fan_wedge meme, "Vote Wedge/Tycho for President" by suggesting Wedge run for just that.
- A fan group that specializes in Stormtrooper armor is called the 501st Legion. In Revenge of the Sith, the 501st is the group that raids the Jedi Temple with Anakin, and they get a campaign in Battlefront II. In canon, they're the troopers that answer directly to Vader. Presumably, they're the ones that can shoot.
- The Novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture contains a nod to the Kirk/Spock shippers—apparently there are rumors about the relationship even in their universe. Kirk's response to these rumors (in a footnote, since the book is presented as an in-universe dramatization of actual events) is that, while he has no moral objections to "physical love" in any form, he himself prefers women. (K/S shippers are quick to point out that Kirk doesn't say he is only interested in women.)
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time novels have several nods to fan theories. For instance,Verin. Several popular theories were that she had her Oaths removed, or that she was so ancient, that she was raised before the Oath Rod was in use, or that she was, in fact, Black Ajah. All three were brought up in the conversation. You know the one I'm talking about.
- The S.D. Perry novelizations of Resident Evil are full of these, many of which are justifications or nods to complaints about the games. Some include: Characters tend to avoid shooting out locks unless necessary due to how dangerous it actually is, Jill solves a puzzle by simply breaking the glass rather than attempting to move the statues like she would have to in the game, and Claire describes Steve Burnside as "looking like that actor from that film about the sinking ship"note .
- In Pinkie Pie and the Rockin' Ponypalooza Party!, Limestone Pie very often reacts by blinking, and special attention is paid to the first time she does so in the story. Before this book named Pinkie's sisters, Limestone's Fan Nickname was Blinkie Pie.
- Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell:
- Several background ponies are given mention, including Berry Punch and a certain grey Pegasus who asks for muffins.
- The phrase "Love and Tolerance" is mentioned as well.
- Its also mentioned in the book that Twilight used to build "book forts" as a filly She apparently amasses one at the climax as the amulet is corrupting her by amplifying her negative feelings.
- About 20 years after the alt.fan.pratchett injoke/meme of the Holy Anorankh began, the "anorankh" finally gets mentioned in a book; Mrs Bradshaw's Guide to the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygienic Railway uses it as an affectionate term for Ankh-Morpork's Rail Enthusiasts.
- Warrior Cats:
- Vicky admitted to naming several characters from Code of the Clans after users of Warrior's Wish (the most famous forum) and Wands and Worlds (a site that held webchats with the authors). Among them is Blizzardstar of ShadowClan, named after Blizzardclaw ("Blizz"), the founder of Warrior's Wish (whose favorite Clan was ShadowClan).
- Several nods were given to errors in the books that became well-known in the fandom:
- There was a ThunderClan elder in Into the Wild that didn't appear in the Allegiances (Rosetail, who was killed by Blackfoot and mentioned by name afterward); she was specifically referenced in Secrets of the Clans when Goldenflower used her as an example of elders still being able to defend the Clan.
- After fans noted how Rowanclaw changed from female to male, the authors made him Tawnypelt's mate.
- In the original series, apprentices had to travel to Highstones before they could become a warrior. Fans noticed that this never happened with the Moonpool later on, and in a later book, Leafpool mentioned, "We seem to have left that tradition behind when we moved to the lake...."
- Malazan Book of the Fallen: It is not exactly a secret that the series has some minor timeline inconsistencies, especially in the earlier volumes when the dates given don't always match up. Less positive but vocal opinions go as far as claiming that it makes no sense at all at times. This has actually spawned a fandom meme, namely "The timeline does not matter." — to the point where this is one of the first things new readers of the series are confronted with. Along comes the ninth volume, Dust of Dreams, and captains Kindly and Skanarow discuss captain Ruthan Gudd's backstory. Skanarow's argument for not believing everything he tells them is that "his timeline makes sense".
- Doctor Who:
- In the episode "The Sound of Drums", Martha wonders if the Master is the Doctor's "secret brother". His reply? "You've been watching too much TV." Although this had been a fan theory at times, it may also have been a Mythology Gag about the fact that early versions of what became the 1996 TV movie included the idea, which got very mixed reactions from fans at the time when the information leaked.
- In "Planet of the Ood", the Doctor notes that the Oodsphere is in the same system as Sensphere, homeworld of the Sensorites. The fandom came up with that theory a few years earlier, due to the aliens looking somewhat similar.
- The episode "The Sontaran Stratagem" acknowledges fan confusion over how to pronounce the aliens' names (Sontaran, not Sontaran) by having Donna get it wrong and the Doctor correct her. This is also a Development Gag, Sontaran was the pronunciation favored by the director of the first Sontaran story (and arguably works better in that context, since the Medieval Morons mishear it as "Saracen"), but the actor Kevin Lindsey countered with "I'm from the bloody planet, I should know!"
- Later, in the two-parter "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", one plot point involved the Doctor meeting someone he hadn't met yet, but she had met numerous times. She had a diary of her life which apparently details huge amounts of the Doctor's personal future as well. As a nod to the fandom (as the producers have campaigned hard against them) the information in the diary is consistently referred to as "spoilers" by the Doctor and others.
- When the Eleventh Doctor shows up in The Sarah Jane Adventures, Clyde (having already met him as the Tenth Doctor) asks him two hotly-debated questions.
Clyde: Can you change color or are you always white?
The Doctor: No, I can be anything.
Clyde: And is there a limit, I mean, how many times can you change?
The Doctor: Five-hundred and seven.
- In "Blink", about how the Police Box that the police found is not authentic because the windows are all wrong is — according to Steven Moffat — a direct nod to the "controversy" that erupted through fandom when the TARDIS prop was first unveiled in public back in 2005.
- In "The Day of the Doctor", several of the War Doctor's lines to his future regenerations match up with some of the complaints fans have with New Who, such as asking if there is going to be more kissing in the future and the several uses of the sonic screwdriver.
- The novelization of the lost Tom Baker episode "Shada", written in 2012, gives Skagra a lot of Fan Dumb traits common to classic series era fans. For instance, in a scene where he researches the Doctor's identity, he finds it along with such hotly-contested information such as his real name, the exact reason why he fled Gallifrey, and his family members "on Gallifrey and elsewhere" — before declining to read them all because they are all irrelevant and boring, and instead deciding to find out what the Doctor is like as he is now. He then watches some old footage of the Doctor, described in such a way to make it clear that he's just going on an Archive Binge of Fourth Doctor stories ("Androids of Tara", "The Power of Kroll" and "The Creature from the Pit"), and after each reel he comments on the quality of the story, acting and special effects, calling the first "not exactly a bad video text, just a bland one", and eventually rating the Doctor a "1 out of 10 Time Lord on 2 out of 10 planets" (in a manner similar to how fans rank their favorite Doctors and show eras).
- The comic book story "The Forgotten" involves a scene where the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor in an all-black outfit and a beard appears and starts telling the Doctor that he's a future version of him who wanted his regenerations, and he has now become the Valeyard. The Tenth Doctor is unconvinced because 1) it's impossible for him to have got there, and 2) he would never think a rubbish Beard of Evil was a good idea, causing the Meta-Crisis Doctor to identify himself as actually being a villainous alien in disguise. This is all a swipe at the popular fandom theory that the Sixth Doctor villain, the Valeyard, said to be 'a regeneration from between the Doctor's tenth and final regenerations' and motivated by a desire to steal the future regenerations of his past self, is actually the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor (a clone of the Tenth Doctor created without the ability to regenerate).
- When UNIT is introduced into the New Series, the Doctor mentions that he worked for them for a while back in the 70's... or was it the 80's? This is a reference to the confusion over when exactly the Third Doctor's run with UNIT was set.
- The ending of "Arachnids in the UK" has the Doctor and companions adopt, in-universe, the title of "Team TARDIS", a common new-school fan nickname for each of the series' Doctor-companion ensemble casts.
- In the Lost episode "Eggtown," Jack mentions that the Oceanic Six started out as eight survivors, but some died before they were rescued. The producers repeatedly stated that the identities of the dead were unimportant, because Jack was lying anyway. However, fans continued to speculate, so the season finale expanded the cover story to reveal their identities. They were Boone, Libby and Charlie by the way.
- Sylar's now infamous comment on how brain-eating is "disgusting" in Heroes was a Fandom Nod to the prevailing theory that Sylar stole his victims' brains to eat them to gain their powers. Turns out he just studies them, although writers originally planned for him to eat them.
- In the House episode "Unfaithful", House refers to Foreman and Thirteen by their Fan Nickname "Foreteen".
- Forever Knight gave a nod to fandom by naming a couple of murder victims after some of the more noteworthy fanfic authors.
- The X-Files named an FBI agent "Leyla Harrison" after a popular and prolific fanfic author who had recently died.
- Supernatural: "The Monster at the End of This Book" has a series of books that eerily resemble our Heroes' exploits, named "Supernatural". About five minutes into the episode, Sam happens upon the fansites, specifically Wincest. When he explains what it is to Dean, the older brother looks perturbed and goes "They know we're brothers right?" Also in the episode is a fan declaring "It's best when they cry."
- In fact, the episode strains the fourth wall throughout the episode, with shout outs to specific fans, friendly ribbing of viewers ("for fans, they sure do complain a lot" "hey look, there are Sam-girls and Dean-girls!"), even the writers themselves (after realizing they've lived "the bugs" and "the ghost ship", the stricken writer cries, "Horror is one thing, but to be forced to live bad writing!").
- The episode also throws a shout out to the Periphery Demographic that the series picked up (i.e. women who watch for the attractive stars). The cover of the books have bodice-ripper style artwork depicting a very buff Dean and Sam, one in a very tight shirt and the other shirtless.
- Castiel molotoving Michael with a bottle of Holy Oil in "Swan Song" may have been a nod to the question the fandom has been asking ever since Holy Oil was first introduced: Why don't they just set angels on fire with it?
- The first ten minutes of Power Rangers RPM episode "Ranger Blue" addresses a bunch of common fan questions, fielded by the Rangers themselves to a confused Doctor K. These including the likes of "Is it completely necessary for us to scream "RPM, Get in Gear!" when we morph, and why does the ground explode behind us when we do?" Also, Dr. K gets very, very angry if you call the suits spandex.
- Power Rangers Wild Force has Promoted Fanboy Amit Bhaumik on the writing staff, so a bunch of places are named after his fellow fans; even the names of the three Mut-Orgs from the Time Force team-up two-parter are modifications of names of fans (though they weren't actually named on screen- all the Mut-Orgs' dialogue was reversed so it sounded weird and untranslatable).
- Lois & Clark finally got married on the show, after a long series of fakeouts. Just when their "Heavenly Helper" is about to begin the ceremony, Clark stops him to say that they have to let everyone know that this is not a clone or a dream or something else, or there's going to be a riot! Also, bonus points for the episode title: "Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding".
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- In a Season 10 episode, Joel returns to the Satellite briefly and spends some time with Mike and the Bots. After learning how well Joel's life has gone since he escaped, Mike fumes "What's he got that I don't?!" Tom and Crow urge him not to make such comparisons, saying "it ain't healthy", a nod to the fan debate of who was the better host which raged on the early days of the Internet.
- Earlier, during Time Chasers, Mike is replaced by his deadbeat brother Eddie (It Makes Sense in Context), who complains that his job (and thus the show) has sucked since "the sleepy-eyed guy left."
- While the first season of Gossip Girl was airing, a large part of the fanbase believed that Eric van der Woodsen was the one behind the Gossip Girl blog. Towards the end of the season, we get this dialogue:
Serena: This rumors are beginning to get ridiculous.
Eric: Oh, like the one where I'm Gossip Girl?
Serena: [laughs] Hey, you have to admit, it made sense at the time!
- iCarly and the episode "iStart a Fan War". The first preview trailer used the Portmanteau Couple Name of the two major pairings. The episode itself included in-universe representations of those 2 major pairings. However, the portrayal wasn't especially flattering to said fandom, and caused a firestorm of criticism. Word of God Dan Schneider dropped an Anti-Shipping anvil at the end of the episode, basically mocking the fans who made his show popular online, and then following it up with Carly mouthing something that could have come from one of his blog posts, which basically boils down to 'shut up about romance and watch the show for the comedy'.
- This nod to the Slash Fic community:
John: Well, I'm glad no-one saw that... You, ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk.
Sherlock: People do little else.
- Even better, in "A Scandal in Belgravia", after having his sexuality questioned yet again, John explodes with "Who the hell knows about Sherlock Holmes but for the record, if anyone out there still cares, I'm not actually gay." Irene Adler insists that they are a couple, even though John denies it.
- "The Hounds of Baskerville" is basically addressing everything amongst the fandom.
- "The Empty Hearse" includes several scenes where Sherlock's in-universe fan club spouts various (incorrect) fan theories about how Sherlock survived his death. No, John wasn't hypnotized into seeing Sherlock jump, Sherlock didn't have a hidden bungee cord tied to his waist, he didn't drop a masked dummy from the rooftop, and he didn't fit a corpse with a latex mask of his face. Also, Sherlock and Moriarty weren't lovers, and Sherlock didn't make out with Molly immediately after surviving his death.
- This nod to the Slash Fic community:
- The Kamen Rider OOO net movies (released with the Milestone Celebration movie) poke fun at Kamen Rider Decade's Merchandise-Driven and often-mocked Final Form Ride power by having him use it to cheat at cards, prompting Kivat to remark "I guess there's no need to be subtle when you turn strangers into crazy shapes and toss them around."
- In Fringe, a large portion of the plot is driven by the existence of two parallel universes. Characters present in both universes generally have the same name, which necessitates a Fan Nickname to easily distinguish them. These nicknames sometimes make it into the show, such as when Walter referred to his alternate self as "Walternate", and the alternate Olivia as "Fauxlivia".
- In Psych, Shawn has named-dropped the fanbase's most popular Portmanteau Couple Names, Shules and Shassie.
- Game of Thrones
- Season 4 includes a throwaway reference to a First Sword of Braavos named "Elyo Grivas", who is not mentioned in the source novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire. This is a likely reference to Elio García, webmaster of the Westeros.org fansite and co-author of The World of Ice and Fire, an atlas of the world depicted in the novels.
- In Season 3, Gendry escapes in a rowboat and is not seen again for several seasons. This led to numerous jokes among the fandom that he'd been rowing nonstop the whole time, which eventually became a meme that even the actor referenced. When he finally turned up again in Season 7, another character says to him, "Wasn't sure I'd find you here. Thought you might still be rowing."
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- In "The Only Light in the Darkness" it's revealed the orphanage Skye grew up at named her Mary Sue Poots. Skye had previously been accused of being a Mary Sue by detractors (though she grew out of it by that point).
- At one point Skye says she can't believe people think Ward is boring after she sees him perform a badass action beat. Prior to The Reveal that he was The Mole for HYDRA, Ward was frequently criticized by fans and reviewers for allegedly being a Flat Character.
- Teen Wolf: In "Fury" the Ax-Crazy Matt notes a paralyzed Stiles and Derek lying next to each other and snarks that the two do make a cute couple - A clear nod to the rabid Sterek fandom who ship the pair and are known to dominate the fandom. It rather backfired, as shippers took it as evidence of Ship Tease rather than an ironic shout out.
- Arrow: In Season 4's "Restoration" Felicity refers to herself, Oliver and Diggle as "Original Team Arrow" while the other characters are away and even comments how long it's been since the three of them have had time alone. Original Team Arrow or "OTA" is a long-standing fan nickname for the fan-favorite trio, and a major complaint during Season 3 was that their dynamic was sidelined to accommodate a new batch of heroes.
- In Mr. Robot, Tyrelliot is a very popular ship found throughout the fandom. In the third episode of season 3, the show's creator Sam Esmail seems to address these shippers directly through the very characters in the ship.
Tyrell: Thank you, Elliot. I love—Elliot (as Mr. Robot): Some things are better left unsaid. Subtext. You know?
- In the Community episode Paradigms of Human Memory, the Gravity shipping video between Jeff and Annie was inspired by a video of the same two characters and song uploaded to Youtube after Debate 109.
- Dark Heresy:
- One of the books has a few nods to the fanfic Love Can Bloom, like a Vindicare named LIIVII, or artwork of a Vindicare aiming at a Farseer.
- Another book makes reference to one Acolyte Grendel, a figure who has reached near-folk hero status among WH40k fans for being the most combat-ineffective character possible (a fat scribe with a knife) who just so happens to have God-Emperor-given luck with damage and critical rolls that can one-shot even major Daemons and Ork Warbosses. The nod happens to be an Ordo Hereticus inquisitor expressing disbelief over his claims that he killed Space Marine killers with a knife.
- In BIONICLE, the first Toa of Psionics, named Orde, is male when the Psionics tribe was established as all-female, and eventually a character asked the inevitable question that the fanbase had asked for the past few months. However, the answer (Orde screwed up, and his in-universe creators concluded that Women Are Wiser when making the rest of the tribe) caused even more debate and controversy in the fandom, leading writer Greg Farshtey to imply that he would not address gender issues in the story again.
- Deadly Rooms of Death: Some players on the forum suggested new game elements that were completely out of place in the DROD world. These kinds of ideas came to be called "rayguns" among the forum users. Finally, a raygun actually appears for a Joke Level in the fifth game. Lampshaded when you unlock said level, the game amends the announcement text with "Yes, that's right!"
- Team Fortress 2:
- The Scout has an audio clip which references the fact that many forum dwellers noticed his resemblance to ShamWow! commercial pitchman Vince Offer.
Scout: Look at this! Just caved in yer skull, my bat's still dry. No clumps of hair, nothing!
Scout: You see that? You seein' this? No other class's gonna do that.
Scout: If ya order now, I'll throw in a second beatin', absolutely free!
- When the SDK models for the props from Meet the Sniper were released, a sticker was found on the front bumper of Sniper's truck reading "My other camper is a Sword Van", which is a reference to this◊ TF2 fancomic which experienced Memetic Mutation.
- The Scout has an audio clip which references the fact that many forum dwellers noticed his resemblance to ShamWow! commercial pitchman Vince Offer.
- Kingdom Hearts:
- The translators can have fun with this. In the Organization journals in 358/2 Days, Demyx refers to Xigbar as "Xiggy" (a common fandom name for him) and one Birth by Sleep enemy description makes fun of the overuse of belts.
- The first game did this with the Sleeping Beauty fandom. Fans argue over whether Aurora's dress looks better pink or blue, and at one point in the early 2000s, imagining it as purple was a popular compromise. So Aurora wears a purple version of her dress in the game.
- In Dynasty Warriors Online any character can use any weapon, and all weapons have a description. The flute descriptions, Zhen Ji's preferred weapon is the flute, will throw out jokes about how completely over the top weapon designs are. This is not just targeted on the games own fandom, but rather anybody who thinks that weapons or items in media can be odd, and sometimes just miss the point. Dynasty Warriors is still a clear target for this, though.
- "A flute specifically designed for battle. Can also be used to play music."
- "An iron flute with dazzling ornamentation. Also useful as an instrument."
- Dragon Age: Origins had a DLC called ''The Darkspawn Chronicles'', which named the party's dog Barkspawn after the name Penny Arcade gave it. The Expansion Pack, Awakening, included a mage staff called Lamppost in Winter, after a memetic Double Entendre from the original game. ("Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter?")
- At one point in Calamity Trigger Reconstruction, Bang wards off his own men by warning them not to fight Jin - the reason being that they're no match for his Ice Car spam.
- Mass Effect 3:
- The game has an Optional Party Member in the form of Javik, a member of an extinct race, the Protheans. Before the game was released the fans nicknamed him Prothy the Prothean. In the actual game Joker suggests this name. Javik tells him to get stuffed... into an airlock.
- Shepard can also have a discussion with Conrad Verner regarding the "Thermal Clips" that replaced the slowly-cooling weapons of the first game. Conrad voices objection to the idea, just as many fans did, and argues using many of the same arguments those fans used.
Shepard: It lets the gun fire with more power, and soldiers can pop in a new clip instead of waiting for the gun to cool.
Conrad: Fine, sure. But you can still wait for the gun to cool down on its own, right?
Shepard: Well, no. The in-gun cooling tech was removed to make room for the clips.
Conrad: Alright, that's just... you might as well be going back to limited ammunition!
- The Citadel DLC for ME3 is full of these; for example:
- You can recreate the famous "Shepard. Wrex." conversations from Mass Effect with Wrex and Grunt.
- You can offer to dance with EDI in lieu of Joker, prompting the latter to laugh, maniacally, for thirty seconds. That is not the only reference to Shepard's lack of dancing skills.
- At one point, you get treated to Garrus teaching Shepard a tango, making Shepard dance in the process.
- Tali calls out an infamous forum thread that tried to scientifically determine what her sweat smells like.
Tali: It just smells like sweat! Why would you even ask that?
- Joker asks a question that had been driving fans nuts for close to six years: how does Kaidan get his hair to stand up like that? Turns out it's from static buildup caused by his implant, which is actually pretty painful at times.
Joker: I was just messing with you. Now I'm that asshole.
- One of the assault rifles you can find in the DLC is a model from the first game with the same cooling mechanic.
- Various NPCs on the Silversun Strip can be heard discussing the game's multiplayer, often humorously echoing fan complaints or comments.
- Players were bummed when they couldn't fully pursue a romance with Samara in Mass Effect 2. Citadel rectifies this, if you at least attempted it in the previous game.
- In Sonic Generations, after completing the Modern version of Chemical Plant Zone, Tails will slowly remember the first time he went through the level, pointing out how nervous the pink water still makes him (along with most of the fanbase).
- In the same game, Sonic receives that DAMN fourth Chaos Emerald from fighting Shadow.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown has "hero units", essentially walking cheat-code soldiers. They consist of the various project leads, Sid Meier...and Otto Zander, the main character of an X-Com Let's Play.
- Ever since Sonic Drift, fans have been asking "Why does Sonic need a car?". During a trailer for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Guest Fighter Wreck-It Ralph asks the same question.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the Raiden Expy is largely hated by many of the characters, echoing the fandom's then-legendary hatred of the guy.
- Blizzard Entertainment has been using the phrase "the rush begins" in some of the advertising for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, including in banner ads seen on This Very Wiki.
- In Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, Mecha-Naruto calls his organic counterpart "Naruturd", which is a play on "Narutard", an insult usually leveled towards fans of the series.
- In Saints Row: The Third during a Mayhem mission, Kenzie mentions that the company in on the insurance scam is a fence company. Fence as in yard fencing, not selling stolen goods. This is a reference to Saints Row 2's Mayhem missions, where thanks to the way the game tracks sections of fence as independent objects, hitting a fence with an explosive could net you tens of thousands of points. Likewise, the achievement for completing every instance of Mayhem is "Fence Killa 2011".
- In Persona 4: The Golden, new character Marie believes that beefsteak should be shortened to "'fsteak" instead of just "steak".
- Dawn of War II: In Retribution, telling a commissar to get in a Chimera has him say this.
- One of the orks' anti-armor weapons uses the fanon term for vehicles: METAL BAWKSES.
- The tie-in game to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has Spider-Man note how much of a bad idea of the name "Shocker" is.
- Sas Zombie Assault 4 has an achievement called NLL, which abbreviates the phrase 'No Lives Lost'. It is achieved by completing Last Stand without losing any lives.
- Super Robot Wars Z series: As a nod to a player who streamed a session of Jigoku-hen by placing Katz in the Zeta Gundam, one of the Downloadable Content scenarios ("Mr. Z-BLUE") begins with Katz in the same unit.
- Ultima VII: Many of the tombstones reference members of the "Ultima Dragons" community. Some character portraits are based on winners of Origin's "Immortality Contest".
- Ultima VII Part II: The mage Ensorcio's portrait is based on "Umbrae Dragon" Jim Hammons. Some character portraits are based on winners of Origin's "Immortality Contest".
- Ultima IX: The grave for Lord Brinne in Britain cemetery is a memorial for Bill Iburg, who went by Lord Brinne on the "Ultima Horizons" community, and passed away before the game's release.
- New Super Mario Bros. U has lots of references to Brutal Mario, and even uses the "villain transforms Peach's Castle into hellish landscape" plot from that game.
- Minecraft: Story Mode:
- Some of the Redstone machines in Redstonia have actually been created in Minecraft proper, like the Redstone flying machine and mech.
- The Wither Storm's weakness brings to mind a popular player tactic that fairly easily nets a Nether Star. Swarms of Endermen weaken the Wither Storm, much like how Withers, when spawned in the End, are outnumbered by Endermen, who can make very short work of it.
- Fate/Grand Order: Many of the Events love to reference fandom jokes and discussions.
- In the Moon Viewing event, Sasaki Kojiro is shown hanging out with a group of dragon-slaying heroes (and the group wonders briefly why he's there), despite his legend having zero dragons in it. The reason being that Kojiro is one of the best Servants available from the limited early game pool for taking on the large numbers of dragon-type enemies in the France chapter, leading to the "Sasaki Kojiro: Savior of France" meme. A craft essence would later follow up on it, with Kojiro and Siegfried placed together in the Alternate Universe idol unit "Prince of Slayers".
- The "Saber Wars" event revolves around a version of Altria (the original Saber) getting angry at the large number of characters that look similar to herself, and going on a mission to murder all of them. She refers to her Expies as "Saberfaces", the Fan Nickname for such characters.
- Whenever da Vinci is featured in an event, the player character is almost guaranteed to complain about the high cost of the "Mona Lisa" craft essence sold in da Vinci's store. It costs 1,000 Mana Prisms, an amount that can easily take weeks or even months to gather, and which pisses off many fans of the game.
- In Soulcalibur II, there was an extra character called Assassin who had the moves of Hwang, a character from the previous game that was dropped. This caused a fan theory that Assassin is simply Hwang in disguise. Soulcalibur VI decides to lampshade this theory by having Hwang in one part of Seong Mi-nas Soul Chronicle chapter be in a disguise exactly like the Assassin character.
- Later releases of Corpse Party include name tags that belong to characters from the fan-made prequel Corpse Party Zero.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations Dahlia Hawthorne's nickname "Dollie" is a reference to a fan effort to translate the Game Boy Advance version (which only managed to cover the first case before the official localization was announced). In said fan translation, Dahlia Hawthorne was called Dolores Willow, and her nickname was "Dolly".
- Similarly, in the English version of Maki Harukawa's first free time event in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kaede says she was expecting "some kinda Super-Duper High School Level Ultimate childcare technique!" "Super Duper High School" was the title used for students in the Project Zetsubou fan translation of the first game instead of "Super High School Level" or "Ultimate."
- Battle for Dream Island has always been open for Official Fan-Submitted Content. Episode 2 of BFDIA, though, includes a sneaky nod to a particular fan, as seen above. In case you are unaware, katyj98 is best known for dissecting BFDI and BFDIA to show all kinds of interesting trivia within the show.
- The Order of the Stick does this constantly — as soon as an apparent plot hole occurs to the forums, the next comic is very likely to head it off in a humorous manner. (Often, however, this is just because Burlew has already thought of that.)
- A great case was the great speculation that Miko was going to be resurrected as a Death Knight. Sure enough, the crazy necromancer was considering doing just that until she realized that Miko's body was cut in half and would be too much of a hassle to reanimate.
- Another was when an arrow dipped in an incredibly lethal poison was shot off in a random direction, and the fandom went wild with speculation as to which important character it would hit and kill. The very next comic showed the path of the arrow as it ricocheted around the battlefield, narrowly missing Roy and then Miko, before zooming squarely at Vaarsuvius... and being deflected by the protection from arrows spell s/he cast about 14 comics ago.
- The 600th comic was a slight Take That! at the people who were expecting significant events every hundred comics.
- Dominic Deegan had one with Jacob's golem. When given suggestions for names, he rejected "Patches" - a Fan Nickname that had cropped up in the forum. He settled on Quilt.
- Sluggy Freelance does this a few times, sometimes in-continuity and sometimes in non-canon gag strips (e.g. "Bun-bun vs Hannibal Lecter").
- After enormous fan pressure to bring Oasis back, a non-canon strip depicted Torg wheeling in a charred corpse and exclaiming "Look who's back!", to drive home the point that 'Oasis is dead, dead, DEAD, and isn't coming back EVER.' ...of course, it didn't stick...
- For the most part Pete tries to remain blind to fan speculation, though he can't always stay deaf to it. Fandom nods have been non-canon, including the above Oasis example.
- This Starslip strip was posted shortly after someone commented on the forum that the monster from Cloverfield looked like a Cirbozoid.
- In the Homestuck flash [S] Ride, there is a bonus you can reach by clicking the horseshow at the bottom right-hand corner. This gives a short, silly flash with a couple of random, scratchily-drawn pictures of Roxy as a cowgirl. The last is a picture of Roxy and Jane kissing, with pink and blue cotton candy on the floor and a piece of paper reading 'Cotton Candy'. That is the Idiosyncratic Ship Name for the Roxy/Jane ship.
- The popular Fanon of Bro and Dirk being anime geeks has been referenced a couple of times, such as when Dirk made a comment about 'roaring manga fireplaces' shortly after his introduction.
- The popular paring of Jade/Davesprite (originally Jadesprite/Davesprite) was acknowledged in a lategame scene...showing the tail end of their relationship. It didn't work out.
- An issue of 8-Bit Theater put to rest the fan theory that Black Belt was going to be brought back to life. The theory: resurrect a discarded copy of the character who had been turned to stone by a spell. The resolution: Ludicrous Gibs in the form of the top of the character's head having eroded off due to being submerged, upside down, in a lake. Resolved again in a second (joke) strip when Black Mage gathers up the pieces of the original Black Belt and casts '''LYFE''' (which he learned from some bathroom stall graffiti). The result is a borderline Eldritch Abomination proclaiming that each second is nothing more than a thousand agonies before it is put out of its misery.
- The episode "The Ember Island Players" in Avatar: The Last Airbender had several, such as Sokka noting the vagueness of Jet's death.
- Of special mention is the show's acknowledgment of Zutara, which makes Aang sad and the characters in question to scoot away from each other.
- The mini-comic "Private Fire" (which is itself made partially by a Promoted Fanboy) has a nod to the Memetic Badass nature of Sokka's alias Wang Fire. Sokka uses the name when going into the Fire Nation military to gather information. In the end, they fake him dying while taking out an earthbender and waterbender, leading his commanding officer to make him a memorial.
- In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, one of Katara's granddaughters channels the fans and asks what happened to Zuko's mom (a plot thread left hanging in the original series). Katara starts to explain when her other granddaughter interrupts and cuts her off.
- "Remembrances," a Korra Season 4 Recap Episode and spiritual successor to "The Ember Island Players" does this in spades. The recap did go out of its way to acknowledge some of the fandoms complaints such as the the sloppy Love Triangle in Seasons 1 & 2, and Unalaq being an unpopular villain.
- Teen Titans:
- The people Control Freak chats with online about the Titans and Titans East in the episode "For Real" as well as the shipping that frequented the Titans fandom.
Random Fan: Robin and Starfire 4ever!
Know-it-all Fan: Starfire should be with BB.
- Amusingly, they avoid mention of Raven, who's by far the most controversial character when it comes to shipping.
- In another episode, Jinx spells out her name for Madame Rouge. This might have something to do with the fact that many fans keep misspelling her name as "Jynx."
- The people Control Freak chats with online about the Titans and Titans East in the episode "For Real" as well as the shipping that frequented the Titans fandom.
- Some of the more irate comic fans believed that Eastman and Laird sold out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by "kiddifying" them for animation back then. In the 25-year anniversary movie Turtles Forever, Mirage Raphael calls all of his counterparts "sellouts".
- In one episode of Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben is watching a marathon of Sumo Slammers: Hero Generation, which he says takes place five years after Sumo Slammers Classic and isn't really as good as the original, especially because a villain made an unrealistic HeelFace Turn...
- Doubles as a Development Gag if you consider that "Hero Generation" was Alien Force's original title.
- Later on in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, we get in one episode Young Ben complaining that Swampfire, as a plant guy, is just a copy of Wildvine. Ben replies with "Sure, remember the time Wildvine did this"? before wrapping the enemy in vines. Another episode has Kevin asking Ben why he shouts the name of the aliens when he transforms. The answer? "It strikes fear into my enemies." Both of these naturally were some of the main complaints that fans had about the updated show.
- Doubles as a Development Gag if you consider that "Hero Generation" was Alien Force's original title.
- The creators of Total Drama pay very close attention to their fans, which is why the season two finale and third season features several nods towards the famous fic, Total Drama Comeback, such as Beth inexplicably eating cookies, Noah, Izzy, and Tyler having to complete a challenge featuring a goat, and the same trio falling asleep under a tree, which is an almost exact replica of a scene from the fic, minus the blanket.
- Noah and Cody returning to the competition was in response to their unexpected popularity among the fans, Chris even lampshades this by looking straight into the camera and introducing them as, "returning favorites." Ezekiel is similar in that regard (thanks to the aforementioned Comeback fic making him a major character), although he doesn't last much longer than he did the first time.
- Tyler complains about being the least talked about contestant amongst fans, saying that even more-minor-than-minor Ezekiel has more fans, which is completely true. Thankfully for Tyler, being in World Tour fixed this, and he has since become a fan-favourite.
- During World Tour, when the supposedly Fan-Preferred Couple Duncan/Gwen became canon; such a pairing was alluded to often in the second season, but almost immediately led to a Broken Base among fans due to the circumstances that gave rise to the pairing becoming canon.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes:
- The episode "Pandamonium" had several pandas being Heloise's Loony Fans, but her not liking them and only caring about Jimmy liking her. Edward Kay admitted this was a Shout-Out to Heloise's enormous popularity.
- Another episode had Heloise stating "I'm successful! I'm popular!" Then she gives an Aside Glance. "That's right, I said popular."
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is an absolute goldmine of Ascended Fanon.
Everypony appreciates the bang-up job pegasi do keeping the clouds and weather in line. Most pegasi do enjoy a little weather duty, so everypony wins!
- For example, a promo video on The Hub not only gave a Shout-Out to the Fan Community Nickname ("bronies"), but also a Fan Nickname for a minor, but extremely popular character (DJ Pon-3).
- In "Lesson Zero", Big Macintosh, a grown stallion, is revealed to really like little girls' pony dolls. The same happens to Spike in "A Canterlot Wedding".
- The character of Derpy Hooves originates from a background joke/animation error from the first episode, which the fans immediately latched on to. "Feeling Pinkie Keen" not only re-crossed her eyes, but worked her into a slapstick gag that reinforced the fan interpretation that she is clumsy and ditzy. "The Last Roundup" elevates her Fan Nickname to official canon, much like DJ Pon-3's was, and draws even further from her fanon personality.
- In the background of "Secret of My Excess," Derpy Hooves interrupts a private moment between Lyra and Bon Bon, two ponies who are almost always shipped together in Fanon. The pair gets a tiny subplot of sorts that unfolds in the background of "Putting Your Hoof Down". The same episode also features a nod to Lyra's purported obsession with humans (specifically, their having fingers), and Derpy wearing a bag with a muffin clip on it.
- In season one, fans noted that a recurring background pony had an hourglass cutie mark and a mane resembling David Tennant's hair — earning him the Fan Nickname Doctor Whooves and inspiring many fan works where he has adventures across time and space. The show creators acknowledged this in the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", by giving him a tie and a timekeeping job with an hourglass. Later, he was featured on an official trading card, revealing that his canon name is Time Turner and that he's "the pony responsible for... pretty much all things timey-wimey." At least one of his toys gives him the alternate name Doctor Hooves (no "W").
His companion in fan works is most often Derpy, and the two are frequently shipped. In the Valentine's Day episode "Hearts and Hooves Day," the two are seen spending the day together, and "Slice of Life" displays them as at least very close friends. The latter episode even gives him the Fourth Doctor's scarf and the quote, "Allons-y!"
In a later instance, he's wearing The 10th's Doctor's 3D glasses, tie, and is walking alongside Rose. These two ponies are seen a lot together in the later seasons and finally as a loving couple near the end of the show. The 10th Doctor for a while traveled with a companion named Rose Tyler.
- Fluttershy's remark that she'd "like to be a tree" in "Over a Barrel" sparked the "Fluttertree" meme, which maintains that Fluttershy either is or desperately wishes to be a tree. In "Hurricane Fluttershy", she disguises herself as a tree in an attempt to avoid attending a town meeting. Rainbow Dash sees through it instantly. In "Magic Duel", she is smuggled out of town in a tree trunk.
- The background pony named Berryshine/Berry Punch (with grapes and a strawberry as her mark) is believed by fanon to be a heavy drinker. In "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", she is visibly distraught when told that there's "not a drop of cider to be found".
- To "Good Ol' Days" by The Living Tombstone, in "Inspiration Manifestation", when Rarity literally paved the streets of Ponyville in gold.
- In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks, Rainbow Dash's "Awesome as I Want to Be" song uses a variation of her iconic verse melody from "At the Gala" for its chorus, and includes the catchphrase "20% cooler" in its lyrics.
- One of the teaser trailers for Season 5 has a shot of Octavia and DJ Pon-3 together for the first time in the series, apparently judging Sweetie Belle in a talent show.
- The "Weather Factory Infiltration" BGM in "Tanks for the Memories" resembles "Rainbow Factory" by WoodenToaster.
- "Slice of Life" may as well be called "Fandom Nod: the Episode." From references to long established Fanon to making long-time fan favorites integral to the plot, the episode was explicitly made to be chock full of references to the bronies. Mayor Mare's speech at the end of was aimed directly at the fandom, about "those who play big parts, and those who play small" helping to shape who a person is.
- The episode "Fame and Misfortune" has the fanponies echoing a lot of questions that are asked by fans - "Twilight was better before she got wings" and "are Pinkie Pie and Applejack related or what?"
- Background pony Cloud Kicker's Enterplay trading card is a quite thinly-veiled Shout-Out to the Fan Fic The Life and Times of a Winning Pony that features Cloud Kicker as the main character.
- Transformers Animated: In The Allspark Almanac II, it's stated that Red Alert developed a cure for Gold Plastic Syndrome; a fandom term for the phenomenon where some earlier toys that were made of gold plastic were brittle to the point of shattering under minimal stressnote
- Gravity Falls:
- Fan art includes about a million pictures of Bill Cipher as a human or semi-human, almost always wearing a nice suit (to match his canon top hat). In "Sock Opera," he actually gets a human body (specifically Dipper's) and the plot finds a reason for him to get dressed up in the third act. Word of God later depicted Bill Cipher in a human form as looking rather grotesque rather than the popular Bishōnen interpretation.
- A scene in the episode "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons" has the main characters watching the season finale of Ducktective and complaining about the huge twist being predictable. This is in reference to a previous episode where it was revealed that Grunkle Stan was working on the portal to save his twin brother, who is also the Author of the Journals. Such a twist was something that the fanbase had been theorizing about for almost two years.
- Right before Daria's Grand Finale movie, MTV played a marathon of every episode, some of which had new short intros where Daria and Jane address the audience (these are available on the DVDs). In a few of them, the characters hint at the popularity of pairing them together, including one where they're dressed as a bride and groom and another where Jane says she could draw Daria nude from memory.
- After the cancellation of The Cleveland Show, the cast moved back to Family Guy and met the Griffin family. Stewie immediately dismissed Rallo as a Boondocks rip-off, echoing common criticisms of the character.
- One episode of Hey Arnold! has Rhonda saying Arnold wears a "weird little skirt thing," which causes him to lift up his cardigan and say it's a plaid shirt. This is a Shout-Out to a common belief that Arnold wears a skirt or kilt.
- Supposedly, the skit in The Powerpuff Girls episode of "The City of Clipsville" where the girls are Valley Girl teenagers was intended to mock fan-depictions of the girls as teens. The fact went over shippers' heads and they still unironically use the designs. Another episode has Keane and Utonium pairing up but shows how awful it would be. Keane and the Professor is one of the most popular pairings in the series.
- Three popular fanon concepts in the Star Wars Rebels fandom were that Kanan & Hera have a daughter (often named Dawn Syndulla), Zeb and Kallus get together, and Rex is one of the rebels at Endor in Return of the Jedi. The latter two were publicly acknowledged by Word of God. These ended up becoming Ascended Fanon. The Grand Finale ends with Hera being pregnant with the late Kanan's child, and the Distant Finale shows that they had a son named Jacen; Zeb and Kallus, though they never become an Official Couple for obvious reasons, the epilogue shows that they became best friends; Rex and Hera were confirmed by narration to have fought at Endor.
- Kim Possible: "Stop Team Go" has Shego temporarily turning good and befriending Kim. This alludes to the ever-popular idea of "What if Kim and Shego were friends?". Their bonding can also be seen as a bone throw to the fans that want them together.
- SpongeBob SquarePants showed (of all things) Red Mist Squidward from the creepypasta "Squidward's Suicide" in the episode "SpongeBob in Randomland". This scene was completely cut from the UK airing of the episode.
- Kaeloo: In Episode 135, the main four make their own TV show and it's clearly a parody of the actual show. Stumpy asks them whether the characters based on Kaeloo and Mr. Cat will end up as a couple or not, which is a reference to the multitude of fans on the Facebook page who bombard all the posts' comment sections with questions about whether Kaeloo and Mr. Cat will ever admit their feelings for one another or not.