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"Oh, no — another fan with ideas..."
Actor Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Ultimately, official canon is much smaller than the people who throw the term around like to think it is. Canonicity is limited to that which has actually been described in the source material. Especially in groups of writers, it boils down to what the writers specifically need to worry about for the purposes of the ongoing plot.

Fanon, also known as the generally accepted term 'headcanon' among fans (though 'headcanon' also refers to personal fanon instead of widely recognized ideas), fanfic writers and roleplay crowds, is the set of theories based on that material which, although they generally seem to be the "obvious" or "only" interpretation of canonical fact, are not actually part of the canon. Occasionally, the explanation seems good enough to just be "common sense". The salient point to remember is that when someone shouts, "That episode was terrible because it violates the canon!", they are very often totally incorrect.

Fanon fills in holes that the writers may have deliberately left in order to have fodder for later stories. In addition to arising from a point of vagueness in the canon, fanon can come into existence as a fact gained from a popular but non-canonical source, or taken from a different adaptation. Because many fans mistake their own fanon for actual canon, they tend to get riled up when a new fact is introduced which does not literally contradict anything canonical, but invalidates what were formerly the most obvious assumptions. Many examples of Retcon and Continuity Drift that are imagined to be violations of canon really only explicitly contradict fanon.

Popular subjects of fanon include character backstories, full names of characters with No Name Given, what characters actually do for a living, and Shipping — a whole other world of its own.

Since many creators in the aftermarket series universe are fans, fanon often shows up there, and if those creators in turn start writing for the actual show, fanon may actually become canonical. Alternatively, you just have Memetic Mutation within the fandom.

Fanon often also refers to the body of information provided by otherwise-official sources. Television and movie scripts are a continuing source of fanon material — Captain James Kirk, for example, had a middle initial ("T.")... but his actual middle name ("Tiberius") was originally revealed in an episode of the Trek animated series; since that show's canonicity is debatable, it was considered "fanon" until featured and explained in the novelisation of the first Star Trek movie (author, Gene Roddenberry, and therefore canonical). It was also stated explicitly in the sixth movie. Note that this usage blurs the line between fanon and deuterocanon, though.

Warning: Fanon and accusations of fanon are a classic Internet Backdraft, with the accusation commonly leveled by fans who have a different interpretation of the material — even when their theory is just as vulnerable to Schrödinger's Gun.

Compare Broad Strokes, where the events of a story are referenced in passing without taking everything said and done as having "officially" happened. If the fanon was repeatedly hinted at by writers until it became fanon, but never actually confirmed in canon, it's Writer-Induced Fanon. See also Fandom-Specific Plot. Not to be confused with this Fanon or the Pope's robe. Fanon is frequently based off of Fanfic Fuel.


Examples:

Franchise-Specific Fanons:

    open/close all folders 

    Film — Animation 
  • The Princess and the Frog:
    • Despite (or because of) the fact he's from a fictional country, many fans still throw Fan Wank fits over Prince Naveen's "real" ethnicity — namely, whether he was closer to Mediterranean or Middle Eastern and/or Indian on the sliding scale of Ambiguous Brownness. That is until some people picked up on a throwaway line in "Friends on the Other Side" ("You come from two long lines of royalty") and ran with it. The final conclusion? He's all of them.
    • There's also the matter of Tiana being outbid on the restaurant. It has generally become accepted amongst fans that the "other buyer" story was orchestrated by the mill's owners, with them either outright lying or getting someone to outbid Tiana's offer, in order to prevent a black woman from owning her own business. While this does explain why Tiana conveniently is outbid the very day she tells the owners she's ready to purchase the place (and why no "other bidder" gets angry when Tiana has Louis scare them into selling), there's no official explanation for it in-movie.
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • Fan fiction seems to have reached the consensus that a) Toothless is the Last of His Kind and b) Toothless is responsible for accidentally severing Hiccup's foot.
    • A lot of fans believe Astrid and Ruffnut are good friends (some even like to ship them but that's a different matter). While it's a reasonable assumption to make as Ruffnut is the only other named teenage girl living on Berk (hell, except for Valka, Heather and Gothi, she's the only other significant female character in the franchise!) there's nothing to indicate that Ruffnut is any closer to Astrid than any other member of the gang, beyond the fact that they were paired up for the Zippleback training exercise in the first film.
    • A lot of fans also consider Snotlout to be Hiccup's cousin, the same as he is in the book series. This is despite the fact that, not only is there never any indication of it at any point, there's actually pretty good evidence against it (Snotlout's father in the animation, Spitelout Jorgenson, isn't even the same character as Hiccup's uncle and Snotlout's father from the books, Baggybum the Beerbelly).
    • Before she was revealed to be alive in the sequel, it was common fan interpretation to have Hiccup's mother be dead. Mainly due to complications in child birth or more commonly a dragon attack. The latter being the source of Stoick's hatred of dragons. While there were a couple hints in the movie and in the show to suggest her passing, Stoick's hatred for dragons stemmed from the dragons attacking Berk. Though his wife being taken by a dragon probably didn't help.
  • The Sword in the Stone: Many fans were so saddened by the heartbroken girl squirrel that several fanfics have emerged in which Merlin turns her into a human so she and Arthur can be together. Popular fan names include Hazel and Gwen. These stories are accepted by many as being legitimately canonical just because they want so much for the poor little thing to have a happy ending.
  • Toy Story:
    • The fandom has it that (SPOILERED for Rule 34) Woody's pull-string is a sort of erogenous zone, since he lacks the necessary parts for sex. As a corollary, the same applies to Jessie, as she has a pull-string, too.
    • Speaking of Rule 34, the same goes for Buzz and his wings. In Toy Story 2, Buzz's "wing pop" is a quick, one-time joke for the grown ups. Fanfic writers have taken the idea (that Buzz's wings equal boner) and run with it for everything from comedy to kink.
    • Also, unless you ship Buzz/Woody or Woody/Dolly or Woody/Jessie, the figurine of Bo Peep was bought by Bonnie or her mother and is reunited with Woody.
    • Many fans theorize that Andy's mom was Jessie's original owner, Emily. There's no confirmation on this, but it would explain why she let her son keep a pair of toys that all but materialized in her house out of nowhere. note 
    • A similar and not always exclusive theory is that Andy inherited Woody from his father, who is not seen in the films and is assumed to have left or died when Andy was very young. This would explain both why Andy has a toy modeled after a show from the 1950s, and why he's so attached to it. Later confirmed by Word of God, though fic writers are still left to fill in the actual details.
    • If it's not a fic shipping the two of them, Woody and Jessie are often written as brother and sister.
    • Fanart of Bo Peep without her bonnet will usually show her with a tiny blue ribbon in the back of her curls, even though in the films she only has said bonnet off once, and even then the audience never actually sees the back of her head.
    • Many fanartists draw Buzz as a blond. In canon it's never even shown what the purple thing on his head is. It could be removable or it could be a part of his head.
  • In Cars fan fiction, the name of the agency Finn and Holley work for is called C.H.R.O.M.E, which is derived from the video game adaption, but the agency's name is never actually stated in the film itself.
  • Rise of the Guardians:
    • Rise Of The Guardians had the issue of Jack's sister's name. Since she was voiced by the same actress who voiced Pippa (one of Jamie's friends) but never named in the actual film, most people thought that Pippa was Jack's sister instead. Since it's now been clarified, the general name used is Emma, although some fic writers will substitute with their own preference.
    • There are also a few theories about Baby Tooth being a reincarnation of Emma, since they have the same beauty mark under their right eyes.
  • Lord Shen, the Big Bad of Kung Fu Panda 2, once had a backstory that involved him being neglected by his parents due to being a sickly albino and left in the care of the Soothsayer, who acted as his nanny. This was ultimately dropped in the final film, but it's rare to find a Shen fanfic that doesn't incorporate it anyway. This is somewhat justified, as the canonical interactions between Shen and the Soothsayer do support this, and there's nothing in the film that really contradicts it either.
  • There's a frequently cited belief that all the Pixar films take place in one universe, due to Pixar themselves having dropped lots of different subtle references, such as the recurrence of the Pizza Planet truck.
  • Disney Animated Canon is often considered to have at least one Shared Universe but fans debate on what goes where and even if certain films are in a different continuity.
  • The Incredibles:
    • Mirage being a Super is quite popular, though no one consensus has been decided on what her powers actually are.
    • Due to her issues with being Super, her "coming out" as Super being similar to coming out as LGBTQ, and her Les Yay-ish fangirling over Helen, Voyd from Incredibles 2 being lesbian or bisexual has caught on. A less common fanon is that she's also a transgender woman due to her design being nonstandard for female characters in the series.
    • Evelyn is an alcoholic. This is implied in Incredibles 2 but not made explicit.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Since Honey and GoGo are only known by their nicknames, fans have speculated that their respective real names are Aiko Miyazaki and Leiko Tanaka, much like their comic counterparts. Though this is highly unlikely due to their Race Lift to Latina and Korean. "Ethel" is also a common name for GoGo because her voice actress has claimed it's her name.
    • Much of the fanfiction and fanart out there depicts Tadashi as being alive with severe burn scars, but not much more, likely due to his Ensemble Dark Horse status. It's become a joke within the members of the fandom that the movie's canon must have been false. Tadashi's obviously just in some hospital healing, and will definitely be back in the sequel, if there is one.
    • Honey Lemon being a Disney Princess, or even being descended from Rapunzel.
    • Hiro is frequently portrayed as claustrophobic, often having this revealed by jerks at the university shoving him in a locker and being discovered by one of the team. If any explanation is given for the phobia, it's usually because Hiro was stuffed in lockers during his high school days or, rarely, because he was in the car when his parents died and got trapped in his car seat.
    • It's often assumed Hiro and Tadashi are some level of bilingual when it comes to Japanese. Even if they're not, Hiro often calls Tadashi "niisan" in fanworks.
    • Honey Lemon having had a crush on Tadashi is common in fanworks.
  • Tangled:
    • The unnamed Queen is often named "Primrose" in fanon while the King is "Thomas". This is jossed in Tangled: The Series. They're named "Arianna" and "Fredric".
    • Rapunzel is cousins with Elsa and Anna of Frozen due to their resemblance and the brief Easter Egg of her and Eugene attending Elsa's coronation. Generally, their mothers are sisters.
    • Many fans even believe Elsa's and Anna's parents died on a trip to Corona (either for Rapunzel's wedding or for her return party). This idea is often coupled with the above, but not always — some fans believe this without accepting the "relatives" theory.
    • Mother Gothel as Jewish. This is due to her Ambiguously Jewish design and her resemblance to the Jewish Mother trope.
  • Cinderella's real name is traditionally "Ella" in fanworks, though the movies treat "Cinderella" as her real name. Ascended Fanon in the Live-Action Adaptation Cinderella (2015).
  • Inside Out:
    • Due to the fact Riley has both male and female emotions, a good portion of the fandom considers her nonbinary.
    • Riley joining NASA as an adult. This is due to the line "Take her to the moon for me... okay?", said by Bing Bong just before he dies. The idea is that Joy will honor the request and campaigns for Riley to get into a space related career as an eventual goal.
    • Riley's parents' lead emotions being Anger and Sadness, respectively, have caused some fans to hypothesise that, at some point in the past, they suffered from anger management issues (Riley's father) and depression (Riley's mother).
  • Zootopia:
    • Humanized fanart of Judy usually has her with a grey Tomboyish Ponytail.
    • It has become generally accepted that Dawn Bellwether is fond of, if not obsessed with, puzzles and puzzle games.
      • Many fans have decided that some trauma in her past, often an abusive father or a predator attacking her family, caused the mindset that lead to her canon plan. The former is likely going to be used by a writer who wants to make her The Atoner while the latter is done by writers who want her to be understandable but not justified, as hating a whole group for the actions of a few (especially if the few are long since dead or otherwise out of the picture) is a horrible thing no matter what group you and they fit into.
    • Many fans have taken to humanizing Judy as Asian due to comparing stereotypes between Asian women and the way rabbits are stereotyped in the film. If Nick isn't humanized as a redheaded white man, then he's typically humanized as a black man.
    • Nick and Judy becoming roommates occurs in most works, whether it's portrayed as platonic or romantic.
    • Certain Fantastic Slurs have caught on across multiple fan works, such as "chomper" (the equivalent of the "N-word" for predators, with its origin in the original storyline) and "predophile" (naturally, a prey species with a romantic interest in predators).
    • Animals can interbreed no matter their species. This is usually used to have Nick and Judy have a rabbit/fox mix child. How the child looks - whether they're mildly mixed looking like Kevin & Kell or a completely new species - varies from fan to fan.
    • Nick and Judy will adopt a child. This can be as a replacement for biological kids should the author chose to ignore the above fanon or alongside biological kids.
  • Sleeping Beauty:
    • Several fanworks have Aurora not taking to her birth name. She prefers being called "Briar Rose", which was the name she grew up with. Often times these fanworks have Phillip refer to her as such in private but use "Aurora" in public.
    • Aurora is often depicted as an insomniac due to trauma over her encounter with Maleficent. Her suffering from frequent nightmares is likewise common.
  • Humanized fanart of the Finding Nemo trio tend to follow a basic outline: Dory almost always has her hair in a (blue) ponytail. She usually wears a yellow shirt with either blue jeans or blue overalls. Marlin wears an orange-and-white polo with either jeans or kakis. He has short orange hair, with varying amounts greying hair being optional. Nemo looks like a kid version of his dad except for missing most of one arm.
  • Fans of An Extremely Goofy Movie consider PJ's love interest to have the Punny Name of "Mocha Chino". It's mentioned constantly as if that is her canonical name, however officially she is known simply as "Beret Girl".
  • Fan-works often depict Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as suffering from insomnia and nightmares after her ordeal.

    Music 
  • Vocaloid: The only things officially canonical are the characters' names, appearances, and voices. Usually. (Some have a couple more minor things, like age and height, while others only have a name and a voice.) Personalities, backstories, relationships, and some characters are pure fanon.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • Fans have generally accepted that Pink, the protagonist of The Wall, was born "Floyd Pinkerton", and that "Pink Floyd" is his stage name. In the original album, he's only referred to as "Pink" and "Mr. Floyd" in two separate moments, but the movie adaptation includes a brief scene where his deceased father's name is given on a memorial plaque as "J.H. Pinkerton", and one of Pink's friends can be heard calling him "Pinky" (a logical nickname for someone with the surname "Pinkerton") in another scene.
    • Though somewhat less unanimous than the above theory, many fans also believe that The Final Cut, Roger Waters' final album with the band, is partially an epilogue/continuation of The Wall. In particular, many have theorized that the titular song, "The Final Cut", is told from Pink's perspective as he contemplates suicide sometime after recovering from his mental breakdown, and that "When the Tigers Broke Free" is about the death of his father. The latter point is supported by the film version of The Wall, which actually includes "When the Tigers Broke" in the soundtrack, but it's unknown if Waters actually wrote the song with Pink in mind.
  • "Fuck You" by Archive is about someones utter disdain for another. Due to a line late in the song most believe it's referring to the singer himself, warping it into a song about severe self-hatred.
  • The female voice in "Sad Machine" by Porter Robinson is often assumed to be Rin, the protagonist in "Shelter" because of both of them existing in a virtual space who end up connecting to the outside world over the course of the songs.
  • Nobody seems to know where the theory that R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People" is about Chinese communist propaganda comes from, but it certainly doesn't come from the band themselves. They have often openly regretted writing the song but they've never tried to justify it by ascribing any deeper meaning to it. It hasn't stopped other people from trying to do so.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Many fans believe that Garfield and Jim Davis's lesser-known second strip, U.S. Acres, take place in the same universe. While this is true on the Garfield and Friends side, it's never been confirmed or debunked in the strips.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theater 
  • Hamlet is a breeding ground for these, due partly to centuries of theatrical interpretation and partly to Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory induced by high school English classes. Thus, for instance, many people take it for granted that Hamlet is genuinely mad instead of faking it.
  • The Little Shop of Horrors fandom often gives Audrey's full name as Audrey Fulquard. This surname is from The Little Shop of Horrors, the B-movie on which the musical is—very loosely—based.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney's Haunted Mansion hasn't got any real official backstory so far, although there are just enough clues to make the audience wonder. The Internet has a gigantic amount of theories about the backstory of the Mansion. More recent additions to the Mansion seem to create a "canonical" backstory have raised great protestation from the fans who imagined a backstory as they rode through the attraction.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry is a case where Fanon is actually encouraged by the author. Ryūkishi wants the readers to have their own ideas and reach their own conclusions about the plot and the characters. Very few answers about the mysteries are revealed explicitly; but most readers end up acknowledging a certain conclusion (namely that Beatrice, Kanon and Shannon are one and the same) even if the story never outright states it. The manga tends to be a bit more explicit on some aspects though.

    Web Original 
  • In Neopets, a popular fanmade Neopian Times piece ("Poor Dr_Death") managed to define everything pertaining to the owners of the pound/adoption center. Most notably, the anonymous Uni was given a name, and nobody has found cause to dispute Dr_Death's characterization as a lovable Deadpan Snarker. (At least, not until his official appearance suddenly became much Lighter and Softer with the rest of the website, but that's another issue.)
  • It's become Fanon in the shipping community that Ask That Guy is The Nostalgia Critic's twin brother and that he lives in his house. And that they're very close.
    • And that The Other Guy is the older, slightly saner brother that the Critic goes to when he needs to lick his wounds.
    • Again with them, any fic that takes place when they were younger calls them Doug and Guy. For common sense purposes really, it'd be silly for their parents to call them "Critic" and "Ask That Guy".
    • Its become Ascended Fanon that they're brothers, as Ask That Guy recently referred to Rob as his brother.
    • Spurred by Ask That Guy's love of his pipe and Doug's penchant for blowjob jokes, Critic being really good at oral has become almost a meme in fics.
    • Also that Dr. Insano's son is named "SOI" (Son Of Insano). And he goes to school.
    • After Kickassia was finished, it's usually accepted that the Critic was exiled to a hotel room and the others had fun on his tab. What tends to happen next is, unfortunately, wishful thinking.
    • Given that an episode was based around married Donnie having a Love Triangle with two men, it's commonly assumed that he wrecked his miserable marriage by having an affair.
  • Red vs. Blue has a lot of these. According to an inordinate number of fans...
    • Wash and CT had a romantic relationship, despite only interacting twice in the show. (In fairness, both times implied they were closer than most Freelancers, but he doesn't even react when she turns traitor... or when the Freelancers attack Charon Industries to capture or kill her. Alternately, Grif/Simmons. While Tucker does make a remark about them being in love, their relationship in the show is pretty much just ordinary Heterosexual Life-Partners.
      • There's also a large group of fans who believe that at least some of the Freelancers served in the Human-Covenant War, with some specifically stating that Wash fought at the Battle of Reach. While Project Freelancer's origins are confirmed as being related to the Great War (specifically, Project Freelancer was created as a "magic-bullet" program during the midst of the war so as to save humanity by both experimenting on human-A.I. interactions and the various possible threats that soldiers would encounter on the galactic battlefield), no Freelancers are recorded as actually getting involved in the Great War.
    • Crunchbite was reincarnated as Junior. There's some evidence for this in the series, but it's far from explicitly said.
    • Epsilon is metastable/rampant. Metastability in the Halo universe is, to borrow a phrase from the forums, a big deal, involving some very obvious and extreme stages. Epsilon hasn't really exhibited any of these (except maybe anger) and it's likely he's not even capable of it (being a fragment, not a full AI), yet it's such a common fan theory that it's often stated as fact, even on This Very Wiki.
    • Carolina's nickname (often given to her by York) is Lina. She's never called anything but Carolina in the show, though, even by York. Alternately, her real name is Carol and she almost always is shown using the gravity hammer, despite using it just twice in the series—pistols or melee are much more part of her fighting style, yet fans have latched onto the grav hammer instead.
    • Sarge was previously an ODST. It is mentioned that Sarge jumped out of ships "during the war", so it's possible, but again, it's far from confirmed. However, this actually became a case of Canon Immigrant status in Season 15, with Sarge outright mentioning him previously being in the ODST.
    • Character appearances have been pretty well cemented by Luke McKay's fan art, leading most people to believe Caboose is a blonde, Grif and Simmons have brown hair, Tex has red hair, Church has black hair and stubble, etc. While Church's appearance has sort of been confirmed (the Director indeed looks like an older, even grumpier Luke McKay Church), some of the others are definitely not correct (Tucker is implied to be black, unlike Luke McKay's white depiction, and Tex is a blonde... or at least the original Allison was).
    • After the Freelancer Prequel Duology in Season 14 (The Triplets and "The Mission"), most fans think that Freelancer Agent Ohio's group and Charon Agent Sherry's group were the main inspiration for the Red & Blue Teams (or at least gave the Director the initial idea for them). Also, many fans think that the icy wasteland of a planet they're stranded on is Sidewinder (since it's the only other ice planet encountered in the series).
  • Welcome to Night Vale: Partly as a result of the series suddenly going very viral after a long slow burn, there is a fanon interpretation of Cecil's appearance that many people mistake for canon—including living tattoos, tentacles, purple eyes, blond hair, tall, slim, some manner of "hipster" clothes which have purple and a tie in them, a Third Eye (which may or may not be a tattoo) and glasses. Canonically, everything we know about Cecil's physical appearance comes from Kevin's non-description of his picture during The Sandstom. Only the tie part is accurate.
    It is a man. He is wearing a tie. He is not tall or short, not thin or fat. He has eyes like mine and a nose like mine, and hair like mine, but I do not think he is me. Maybe it is the smile. Is that a smile? I can’t say.
    • Kevin himself is often depicted as Cecil, but dark-skinned and dark-haired, possibly with glowing tattoos, and inverted colors on his otherwise-identical clothes.
  • Awful Hospital gave birth to an entire community founded around roleplaying as Eldritch Abominations, found at Awful Hospital Roleplay Forum
  • It's never outright stated in Matt Santoro's videos, but it's a common fan theory that Hugo, Matt's clone, also has the last name Santoro.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon is a general source of this, mostly because of the gimmick of multiple people being able to control the main character at once. Most stories and personalities of the main character tend to be crafted from whatever incident occurs unervous their influence, and most everybody will have a different interpretation of those two items.
  • Humanoid fanart for Happy Tree Friends always follow the same basic designs. For example, Flippy is always presented as a young man with short green hair wearing an army cap, a black t-shirt, dog tags, and an army jacket. Flaky has long, slightly wavy Messy Hair with dandruff in it and wears a red or white sweater. The fact Flaky is supposed to be androgynous never comes up in fanworks as she looks very feminine.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared:
    • The sketchbook has an Ambiguous Gender but almost the entire fandom considers them female. She is often given the Fan Nickname "Paige", and people usually refer to her as a "notepad" rather than a sketchbook. Her humanized form is a woman with long Multicolored Hair wearing a white dress with red trimmings (and optional designs). Her face is white and her arms are black and inky.
    • Tony has a human design of a man with blue skin with a red stripe on his face, black hair (often with yellow tips), and yellow facial hair. Tony wears formal attire and a bow-tie.
    • Tony and Paige are both portrayed as Cute But Psycho and Ax-Crazy. Whether they get along differs from fan to fan but nevertheless they're usually presented as having a violent relationship.
    • Shrignold doesn't have a concrete fanon design. His human versions often wears a yellow turtleneck, or yellow scarf, though.
    • Colin always wears glasses in his human designs.
  • Fanart for Friendship is Witchcraft always has Pinkie Pie dressed in stereotypical Romani clothing.

Alternative Title(s): Head Canon, Fanons

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