Follow TV Tropes

Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope.
Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.

Following

Fanon
aka: Head Canon

Go To

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

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, though if one must stretch the definition, it may also include anything the creators only mention in interviews or supplementary material. But ultimately, canon boils down to what the creators specifically need to worry about conveying to the audience for the purposes of the ongoing plot. In short, canon is what the work clearly says about itself.

Advertisement:

Fanon, also known by the term "headcanon"note , is the set of theories based on that source material which, no matter how much they seem to be the "obvious" or "only" interpretation of canonical fact, are not actually part of the canon. It can arise in a few ways, but mostly boils down to clarifying any vagueness in a story and/or trying to justify an idea held about an element of a work. A piece of fanon can come about to explain holes in the story that the creators of a work may have either deliberately left open in order to have fodder for later stories, or never gave any thought to because it was considered an unimportant side detail. Or it can come into existence as a fact gained from a popular but non-canonical source or a different adaptation of the work.

Advertisement:

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. In this way, when someone says "That episode was terrible because it violates the canon!", there is a good chance that it only violates their personal canon.

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 main continuity, fanon may actually become canonical. Alternatively, you just have Memetic Mutation within the fandom.

Advertisement:

Then there's instances in which a creator may give a Shrug of God or "Good catch!" when fans come up with theories the creator actually thinks fits in (often saving the creator the time and energy to think of Back Story sometimes.)

Remember up above, where we mentioned stretching the definition of canon? Well, if you don't stretch it, fanon can also refer to the body of information provided by otherwise-official sources outside of the main work's continuity. Television and movie scripts are a continuing source of fanon material — Captain James Kirk, for example, has the middle initial ("T.")... but his actual middle name of "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, which was written by creator 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 Flame Bait, 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 Fandom-Specific Plot and Recurring Fanon Character, when a fan-created Original Character becomes sufficiently popular as to be widely used by other fan creators or even mistaken for canon. See also Fanon Welding, where two unrelated works are speculated to be in the same continuity as each other. Not to be confused with this Fanon or the Pope's robe. Fanon is frequently based on Fanfic Fuel.


Franchise-Specific Fanons:

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Some readers have speculated that Calvin's only real friend being Susie and his Book Dumbness are due to either autism or a learning disability (if it's a learning disability, it's most often ADHD).
    • A lot of fans think that Hobbes is an actual Living Toy instead of an Imaginary Friend. Similarly, there are fans who think his imagination sequences are actually real.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: It's commonly accepted among the readers that Kaworu is a masochist, since he finds Rei to be beautiful when she's angry at him. The author has shot down this theory, but that doesn't stop him from putting in stuff like this:
    Rei: "I have slapped you, yelled at you, and I threaten to kill you in practically every conversation we have ever had, and this turns you on?"
  • Child of the Storm includes the common HP fanon idea of magical cores early on, before quietly dropping it, with the author admitting that he'd forgotten they weren't canon. However, it partly keeps the fanon idea of Fred and George constantly finishing each other's sentences - as time goes by, they shift into following on from each other's sentences, meaning that it sometimes seems like one person's dialogue spread over two people.
    • It's generally accepted by fans of the 'verse that pretty much everything that ever happened in the story or backstory (Forever Red arc aside) is either directly or indirectly the fault of Doctor Strange.
  • For no very clear reason, the Dragon Age: Inquisition fandom has given the name of Jim to the hapless scout who interrupts the first kiss between Cullen and a romanced female Inquisitor. This gets a nod in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird, where Jim is the central figure in chapter 19 and is shown to have a propensity for stumbling into all sorts of humiliating situations throughout Skyhold.
  • Fan-art for Friendship is Witchcraft often has Pinkie Pie dressed in stereotypical Romani clothing.
  • Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash:
    • Ron's "Ron shirt" is believed to be a shirt with a picture of his face and/or his name on it.
    • Many people believe that the reason Harry dipped Hermione in hot sauce was because he wanted to eat her. This fits in well, considering that the narration said he was hungry and Ron was also made into a cannibal.
    • There are two ways fans interpret the "We're the only people who matter! He's never gonna get rid of us!" line. It's either said like a boast: "We're the only people who matter! He's never gonna get rid of us!" or with a Mocking Sing-Song inflection: "We're the on-ly people who ma-tter! He's ne-ver gonna get rid of us!"
  • Haunted Mansion and the Hatbox Ghost: Used to work the vague backstory of the original Haunted Mansion ride into a convenient setting. What better way to achieve that than to decide that the canon of the stories would be the headcanons of the authors of the fanfics?
  • In Mob Psycho 100 for some reason when Mob is genderswapped she really likes Neon Genesis Evangelion. This can be seen most prominently in Everyone Loves Mob where she relates everything back to Neon Genesis Evangelion in some way as well as in Playing Games where, if prompted, Mob will talk for hours on the subject. Teru gets her going in order to bore Ritsu and Sho out of his apartment so he and Mob can have some alone time.
  • My Immortal has some detractor head canons:
    • The most common explanation for Draco Malfoy allegedly coming back to life after killing himself, is that his "corpse" was actually a dummy put there by Voldemort.
    • Many readers believe that when Ebony shouted, "Crookshanks!", it worked as a spell to teleport Crookshanks near and throw him at Voldemort.

    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.
  • Dion DiMucci's song "The Wanderer" is a Sequel Song to "Runaround Sue".
  • Rachel Rose Mitchell's "Hey Alice" is Villain Song from the perspective of someone patrionizing Alice of Alice In Wonderland. Fans theorize that Alice is being sent to a Bedlam Asylum and the singer is either her sister or her therapist. Another interpretation is that it's about Alice choosing between sanity and madness (or fantasy and reality).
  • Songdrops: The idea that the secret pet skunk from "The Teacher Song" and Striper from "Striper the Kitty" (who was mistaken for a cat) are one and the same skunk.

    Podcasts 
  • 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.
  • The Adventure Zone: Balance: Many fans headcanoned Taako as Hispanic due to his name being a pun on 'taco' and his professed life goal being to invent tacos one day, even though his player Justin jokingly said "White" when asked about Taako's race in the first episode.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Ordial Plane is a concept that turns up very frequently in Planescape fan work, based on the assumption that the Astral and Ethereal Planes should have a third counterpart in accordance to the Rule of Three and which would complete the circle between the Inner, Outer, and Material Planes.
  • Warhammer Fantasy deliberately leaves a lot up in the air concerning some of its mysteries, but a great deal of fanon proclaims definitive answers to these questions. One common example is the nature of the Bretonnian goddess: many fans declare that she is merely a deception by the Wood Elves to be holy writ, but this is only one of several possibilities vaguely hinted at by the actual canon.
  • The above applies to Warhammer's sister game Warhammer 40,000 as well. There are fans who insist that the Eldar created the Tau Ethereals, based on some vague hints in the Xenology book, which had a decidedly Unreliable Narrator (and the narrator himself dismissed the idea out of hand).
  • Exalted: Many players assume Abyssal Exalted are undead. They're actually living people "tainted by the essence of the Underworld", much like Half Vampires in many other settings. However, in Third Edition, they're considered undead Exalted for the purposes of the rare few Charms which specifically affect such (the category being created because Third Edition has another Exalted type who straddle the boundaries of life and death, the Liminal Exalted, and the option for other varieties of undead Exalted to exist, for example via the Exigence).
  • Farcast is fanon for many Eclipse Phase fans.

    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 
  • Nasuverse: "The Moonlit World" isn't what the Magical Society is called in official works. It originated as the name of the website that formerly hosted the Nasuverse fan forum Beast's Lair. When the site was rebooted after an untimely crash, the website portion of the forum was lost. The term "Moonlit World", however, was such a unique way to describe The Masquerade and its many wonders and dangers that fans kept it around for their fanworks and forum discussions.
  • 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 Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue has a lot of these. According to an inordinate number of fans...
    • 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 while Grif and Sister are implied to be Hawaiian, unlike Luke McKay's white depictions of all three, and Wash and Tex are blondes... or at least the original Allison was).
      • On note of character appearance, many fans believe that Simmons' cyborg implants are more blatant than actually implied and Donut post-Chrovos resurrection has one of his eyes replaced with a crystal.
    • Grif and Simmons are believed to be in a romantic relationship. While Tucker does make a remark about them being in love, and the idea is sometimes alluded to by the two's interactions, their relationship in the show is mostly just portrayed as ordinary Heterosexual Life-Partners.
    • Many fans had the belief that Sarge was previously an ODST, as it's mentioned that Sarge jumped out of ships "during the war". However, this wouldn't be confirmed as canon until Season 15, where Sarge outright mentions him previously being in the ODST.
    • Crunchbite was reincarnated as Junior. There's some evidence for this in the series, but it's far from explicitly said.
    • There's 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. However, later supplementary material would state that Agent Washington did fight in the Great War, though only before he joined Project Freelancer.
    • It is common for fans to give names to the Freelancers whose real names are unknown. Most commonly, York is given the name James, Maine is given the name Theodore, and Carolina is given the name Carol.
    • 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. On another note, she's almost always shown in fan works using the gravity hammer, despite using it only twice in the series—pistols or melee are much more part of her fighting style, yet fans have latched onto the gravity hammer instead.
    • 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.
    • After the DEATH BATTLE! crossover episode, pretty much the entire fandom has accepted that Sarge is Boomstick's father. As of DEATH BATTLE!'s 150th episode, "Macho Man VS Kool-Aid Man", this is confirmed as canon.
    • 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 and 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).
    • After Singularity revealed that Carolina went into hiding after being "killed" by the Meta in the form of joining the UNSC under the false name McCallister fans have taken this to mean that McCallister is Allison Church's maiden name, though the show doesn't provide any real evidence for it.
  • Humanoid fan-art for Happy Tree Friends usually follow the same basic designs. For example, Flippy is almost always presented as an 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 rarely comes up in fanworks as she looks very feminine.
  • Camp Camp: Canadian!David and Colombian!Gwen are extremely popular, with Latina or Hispanic Gwen being near universal. Max is usually of Indian descent (ultimately became canon in the Heritage Festival/Hanukkah special), with Native American or biracial also being popular (in the case of the latter, he's typically half-Hindi/half-Caucasian but the Hindi part can be swapped for Native American or other POC options and half-Hindi/half-other-POC-option is not unheard of).
    • David was a foster child at some point and had a rough go of it. Alternately he had a good family but an awful and/or absent father.
    • Max's parents are physically abusive, hence why he never takes off his hoody. Alternately, there's nothing to hide but he has a sensory quirk that means he doesn't like to be without long sleeves.
    • David's surname is usually Greene/Green, Greenwood, Wood/Woods, Pine/Pines, Forest or Forester. Gwen is almost always "Santos" though "Lopez" can be an option.
    • Max will become a counselor at Camp Campbell as a teen/adult. Neil and Nikki commonly join him but this isn't universal.
    • David's job outside of the camp is frequently in education, such as a classroom teacher or a professional tutor.
    • Neil is commonly seen as autistic. David is also popularly thought to be on the spectrum as well.
      • After "Attack of the Nurfs" showcased Max printing out a sensory deprivation tank, many fans began theorizing that he's on the spectrum too.
    • Nikki's mom and Neil's dad eventually hook up for real.
  • Helluva Boss:
    • Because of Stolas' obsession with Blitzo, and the fact that imps are the lowest class among demons, some people have theorized that Stolas married a woman merely for status or as a political move, and hid his interest in imps from the general public. The second episode lends credence to the idea, as it heavily implies his marriage is one of convenience, showing that Stolas was dissatisfied with the marriage since Octavia was little and viewing her as the only good thing that came out of it.
    • Many fans of the show believe that, if and when they interact with each other, Loona and Octavia will become Fire-Forged Friends, or at least something similar to that.

    Web Comics 

    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.)
  • SCP Foundation: Fanart loves to depict SCP-2317 (the kilometer-tall fat dude chained underground behind a dimensional portal) as having a single cyclopean eye, even though no such trait is present in his description.

    Web Videos 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 almost always wears glasses in his human designs.

Alternative Title(s): Head Canon, Fanons, Fan Works

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report