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Fanwork-Only Fans

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"persona fans excited to finally play persona for the first time"
Twitter / X user TAHK0

Many people write fanfiction. Many people also read fanfiction. Generally, such people are fans of the original work.

Generally, yes, but not always.

Fanwork-Only Fans are fans who produce and/or engage with fanmade media without being overly familiar with the source material, if they even care much for that original work to begin with. There can be any number of reasons for this. For instance, someone could be introduced to a fandom at a time when the series in question is not readily available in their language, so engaging in fan material became the best way to partake with the work before becoming the only way they partook. Alternatively, someone might have been attracted to the fanwork scene due to it highlighting some aspects of the original work said person enjoys the most, such as the setting or a certain character, thus leading to said works overshadowing the original for them. Conversely, a poor quality work can gain a hatedom that creates lots of Deconstruction Fics and Fix Fics that many people end up preferring to canon. And in some cases, someone might have actually been introduced to the franchise through its fanwork first, without taking much interest in the franchise beyond that.

For some reason, this tends to show up more often in works that have lots of male characters, though works with a similar setup of many-to-improbable levels of female characters attract just as much attention. Needless to say, it can easily result in copious amounts of Fanon, as well as Canon Defilement in worse case scenarios.

Can overlap with Best Known for the Fanservice where the bountiful attributes of a Ms. Fanservice and Mr. Fanservice override any other knowledge about their particular work, which lends them to a lot of written and drawn Rule 34 that can become famous to an audience that otherwise never touches their source material and therefore see them as eye candy and nothing more. Of course, a good portion of Fanwork-Only Fans still engage solely in Safe For Work materials that can be just as famous too.

Compare Praising Shows You Don't Watch for when people praise a work without having seen it, and Just Here for Godzilla for when fans engage in a work because it features specific stuff (such as characters) they like. Contrast Fanon Discontinuity for when they are/were fans of the work but ignore it past the point they don't like. See also Fanart at First Sight, where Fan Art of a work or a new character within that setting is produced and circulated long before they officially debut; the two tropes can overlap if the artist does not engage with the work in any capacity beyond fan art following its release.

See also and often overlaps with Self-Fanservice.


Examples

    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers introduces Renamon. She has tons of fan art for a variety of reasons but many of her fanartists haven't actually seen Tamers or even any Digimon series.
  • Doraemon: Some people watch the various fandubs and rarely watch the original versions.
  • The Familiar of Zero: It's not uncommon to see fans that have only read/watched a little bit of the source material (partly because the female lead is widely considered an unlikeable Fetishized Abuser), before switching to the crossover fanfics due to still liking the general premise of an underestimated, insecure jerkass summoning someone from another world who teaches/forces them to become a better person.
  • Jewelpet: Luea and Larimar were introduced in Lady, where the titular Jewelpets get far less screen time. Magical Change gives these two far more screen time but despite being Vindicated by History is still considered the weakest part of the franchise. A good portion of Luea and Larimar fans are more interested in fan works involving them than either of the aforementioned series.
  • Land of the Lustrous: Some non-fans admit to not caring much about the show/manga and only are here for the fan-created content such as the high-quality fan art.
  • Sailor Moon as a franchise has garnered a lot of fans that haven't actively consumed any of the canon media yet still consume fan-related media or produce fan works for the cutesy, feminine aesthetic. In fact, Sailor Moon in general has become a staple for that aesthetic overall.
    • There is a certain dedicated subsect of fans who prefer the Americanized DiC/Cloverway adaptation of the 90's anime over the other versions. However, due to that version being in licensing limbo and among many reasons, Fans took up the mantle of finishing DiC/Cloverway's Unfinished Dub by giving the Stars season a DiC-style makeover, dubbing the missing episodes from the first season as well as the specials with its soundtrack, the name changes, and the general lingo and style.
  • Sword Art Online: Many haters as well as those who are unimpressed by the source material have legitimate love and excitement for Sword Art Online Abridged, which they consider to be both a great parody and a loving reconstruction of everything they liked about Sword Art Online while trimming or cutting the aspects they didn't like.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- is a crossover fanfic magnet because its initial premise of its cast travelling to alternate universes to retrieve Sakura's scattered memory feathers makes it very easy to insert them into universes of other series without contrived reasons. Because of this, some fans only get into Tsubasa primarily because of that potential alone and only need to read the first few chapters of the manga or watch the first few episodes of the anime to get the basic gist of this before going wild with their ideas. Many such fanfics will typically take place before the Acid Tokyo Arc because of the simpler plot. Fanfics after the arc are not unheard of, but are generally rarer and harder to write because of the shift in complexity and darker tone.

    Film — Animation 
  • While it has fans, Brave is one of the most controversial Pixar movies and has a So Okay, It's Average reputation. But its main character, Merida? Extremely popular. As such there's a good portion of fans who don't really care about the rest of the movie and are more interested in fan works involving her character, most notably those within the greater Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons Crossover fandom, where she is part of a popular Crossover Ship.
  • The Lorax (2012) is one of the more notable examples; the movie's portrayal of the Once-ler resonated a lot with younger female viewers at the time, who found him cute and relatable, leading to a sizable fandom that really didn't care at all about anything else in the film but the Once-ler character. This was to such an extent that this fandom frequently shipped the Once-ler with himself (his pre and post "villain transformation" selves being treated as two distinct characters) in a ship called "Oncest", as there wasn't anyone else in the movie that was a good candidate or which they cared about enough to pair him with.
  • Wish (2023) is a Box Office Bomb that has fans who don't care so much about the actual movie (if they do at all) as for the numerous altered and scrapped concepts for it, above all the idea of Star being not a Cute Mute five-pointed star but a shapeshifter with a humanoid male base form, a personality described by the filmmakers as a cross between Peter Pan and Aladdin's Genie, and — maybe, though it's never been absolutely confirmed — a romance with protagonist Asha. Other concepts fanwork likes to explore include giving the villain King Magnifico a redemption arc (that the movie claims is literally impossible to affect due to the evil of the Forbidden Book) because the creatives often feel he got a raw deal, and Queen Amaya's original characterization as a co-villain ever-Happily Married to Magnifico.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Morbius (2022) is a strange case of this. Despite its ironic Memetic Badass status as a movie of impossibly extreme success thanks to the #MorbiusSweep fandom, you would be hard pressed to find people from there that are willing to watch the movie, much less legitimately like it. This is probably the main reason why the movie's re-release in June 2022 flopped considerably, despite having been done by Sony to take advantage of the Memetic Mutation.

    Literature 
  • Many people are fans of the Cthulhu Mythos and its many related works while avoiding the original stories of H. P. Lovecraft that inspired it, rejecting the works for the author's racism and xenophobia. Indeed, some popular works such as Lovecraft Country and The Ballad of Black Tom can easily be described as Deconstruction Fic for Lovecraft's white supremacist perspective.
  • Technically, everyone who made Fifty Shades of Grey a success is an example of this, as it started out as a Hotter and Sexier Twilight fanfiction but is only loosely connected to the franchise in terms of plot and character, including removing all the supernatural/fantasy elements. It attracted many readers who weren't at all familiar with Twilight and some newer readers were surprised to learn the trilogy started out as a fanfiction of young adult vampire romance novels. The book in its original form, Master of the Universe, was more closely linked to Twilight, though due its sexually explicit content it tended to attract the Periphery Demographic of adult women who were into Twilight but wished it had more sex. The series itself has, much like Twilight, also attracted a hatedom who make things like Deconstruction Fics, Fix Fics, and other stuff to discuss and rework what they dislike about the source material.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Many who dislike J. K. Rowling and don't want to give her money but find the world of Harry Potter interesting will engage with fanfiction, cosplay, fan art, and roleplays set in the story's world.
    • Infamously bad fanfic My Immortal has reached such huge popularity that many are fans of it without having read or watched the Harry Potter series.
  • Some fans of Redwall find its world and lore very compelling but don’t care much for the very basic storytelling and often two-dimensional characters, especially the Black-and-White Morality firmly rooted in animal stereotypes, and thus prefer fanfiction that goes for more complex and layered plotlines and Gray-and-Gray Morality. Interestingly enough, even the fanfic writers familiar with the books tend to agree about the latter and deconstruct it in their stories, to the point that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fic that doesn’t tackle the Fantastic Racism.
  • The Twilight Saga renaissance sparked interest in two groups: those who were fans of the books (either genuinely or ironically) and were nostalgic for the franchise, and those who didn't like it (or never checked it out during the height of its popularity) but felt it had wasted potential. The memes, tongue-in-cheek fan content, and earnest discussions of how the story could've been improved appealed to both groups, meaning you now have plenty of people engaging in the Twilight fandom who have no desire to ever read the books again (or possibly at all).
  • While most fans of Warrior Cats have read at least some of the books (usually the first series), very few have read them all, since there are literally dozens upon dozens of installments, and reception for anything beyond the first series is mixed. With a massive and active fan community with lots of art, videos, fanfiction, roleplay, summaries and analysis available, reading the books is seen as sort of optional, and there are those who have a great time just engaging with the fan community.
  • There is a significant community of those who write and/or consume Worm fanfiction without having read the actual story, particularly on Spacebattles, Sufficient Velocity, and Questionable Questing. Often this is because they were drawn into the story through a crossover, but also because the fandom just happens to dominate the creative writing sections of those boards. Interestingly, some of these fans claim to actually dislike the original story and/or its author, essentially cherrypicking stories based on the aspects of the original that they do enjoy. In some cases this is also a case of Archive Panic, as Worm by itself totals about 1.68 million words. These fan groups also break down into subsets; there's a significant group that has only read the first eight arcs of that story and only know the rest through the wiki and fanfics, preferring the early street-level action to the increasingly monumental stakes of the remaining 22 arcs. There's also a group that have read all of Worm but refuses to read any of sequel Ward, for various reasons (among them Ward is another 2.2 million words of writing) despite occasionally pulling concepts and setting details that originated there into their fics.

    Live-Action TV 
  • If a troper or frequenter of TV Tropes has not watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then they are technically a Fanwork-Only Fan of the show. This Very Wiki originated as a fan wiki for Buffy, but it eventually grew into the almost-all-encompassing site it is today.
  • Thanks to their reputation as a Fountain of Memes in the early 2020s, Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul have received a lot of fans who watch and produce many memes and fan-made edits, but have never seen a single full episode of either show.
  • Venus de Milo from Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is a popular subject of fanart and fanfiction among those who have not watched a single episode of the show. The series is pretty much unanimously despised by the TMNT fanbase but Venus herself, while divisive, is considered to be at least an interesting concept to explore and play around with in fan works.
  • Once Upon a Time: A lot of fans have admitted to reading fanfics for the show without being fans of the show itself. This is most prevalant in later seasons where the show went through Seasonal Rot, with many fans simply stopping watching the show after a certain point but keeping up with the fan works. This is especially true for those who ship Fan-Preferred Couple Emma/Regina, with many of the shippers admitting that they stopped watching after season 3 or 4 but kept up with the fanfiction trends and became far more familiar with the fanon versions of the characters than the canon ones.
  • Many fans of Sherlock ignore canon due to controversial writing decisions and focus exclusively on fanworks that usually ship the Fan-Preferred Couple of Sherlock and John.
  • The creators of Supernatural seemed to want a very different audience from the one they got, so a lot of the fan content is very different from the actual show, and many people are more familiar with popular fanon and fanfiction than they are with the actual series — and can be pretty disappointed by the actual TV show.

    Tabletop Games 
  • There are many people who get into the deep lore of Warhammer Fantasy Battle or Warhammer 40,000 or the company's other games, without ever touching a Games Workshop product, thanks to the abundance of online info about the settings and the expenses needed to properly play the games. There are plenty of lore videos on YouTube that get people into the settings - notably, fan works like If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device are often praised as better. The fact that a good chunk of the products made is rather expensive plays a part in this.
  • HeroQuest has had quite a community of fanmade quests and other events, especially after Milton Bradley stopped producing the game in 1997. One could make the argument that before the Hasbro Pulse campaign in 2020 and the following remake in 2021, the fans took over once Milton Bradley abandoned the game. Even now, fanmade quests still get made in addition to official quests.

    Video Games 
  • Azur Lane: There's a number of artists and fans that while they don't play the game, they make/consume fan art. This sometimes irks actual fans as it tends to make a skewed impression of the game and characters due to overemphasizing the fanservice above all other traits and butchering character's personality for either memes or sexy fan art. Examples of the latter being Bremerton who is often shown as an "easy" girl (the opposite of her actual personality) and Essex being turned into a lemon wielding troll out to antagonize Enterprise (when in canon she's a serious, even minded girl that is a tad overfocused on her sempai).
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine: Much like Five Nights at Freddy's, a good part of the fanbase has never played the game and is only aware of it due to the fan content, like theories, fanfiction and in this case especially, the fan songs. Even people who dislike the game itself tend to enjoy the tunes the fanbase produces.
  • Dark Souls: The games are very hard to get into, and not everyone will be able to make it through one, so many don't even try, but the game features extensive, mysterious, and fascinating lore, which creates fans who only see it through lore videos, story explained, and theories about it on youtube. There are also fans who are into it exclusively due to the Let's Play and Streamers who showcase themselves playing it.
  • Dead or Alive is often noted for its predominantly female cast. Yet, it's Kasumi and Ayane who are most often featured in hentai art and H-vids related to the series (aside from Marie Rose) - usually with each other. Anyone unfamiliar with DOA would likely be shocked to learn that those two hot looking girls are half-sisters. Not to mention, their mutual animosity towards each other.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Quite a few fans of the series openly admit to knowing nothing about Fate or GO in general, but they do like the doujins and learn from fan content. This also contributed to convincing the producers to localize the game after they saw just how many FGO cosplayers there were at Anime Expo 2016 despite the lack of official presence in the West at the time.
  • Genshin Impact: There's a large number of people who don't actively play the game but engage with the fandom by creating and/or consuming fan works due to being interested in the characters.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Some fans recognize the Granblue IP from the various doujins and artworks posted online. As well, there are a lot of artists who will simply become interested in some of the character designs and make fan art of them, while not actually looking into the game itself.
  • There's plenty of Hearts of Iron series fans who only play the fan-made alternate history mods, never even touching the base game.
  • Hotel Mario: How many of the people who know about this game have actually played it? Most people only know about it because of all of the fan-made edits of the cutscenes. Even many of those who are familiar with the gameplay have only seen it through someone else's Let's Play.
  • Kancolle is also in the same situation as Azur Lane in that having a large chunk of its fans know more about the franchise through the fanworks than the game itself skews their perception of various characters, regardless of actual game canon characterization. Some of those perceptions actually became Ascended Memes in the anime, for better or worse.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: For a lot of people, the game has a Hot Goddess with Palutena, and that's about it. Palutena's already attractive design gets exaggerated in Rule 34, without much regard or care for what she actually does in the game or her actual personality. This isn't helped by her playful "pole dancing" taunt in Super Smash Bros..
  • There are people who either never played League of Legends or have become dissatisfied with the direction it's gone in over the years, some of whom would rather stay away from the game's community, but will still engage with it via fanfiction and fanart, both safe for work, and...otherwise. Of course, this means many people have an image of many characters that can be completely different from how they are in the actual game, with a common one being that Ahri gets presented as being heavily sexualized, often with little regard for who she is in canon.
  • Most people who are familiar with the The Legend of Zelda CD-i games know them from YouTube Poop videos and other lighthearted forms of mockery. Very few fans have actually played any of them, though this is mostly because they were originally released for an unpopular system that few owned and sees little in terms of emulation efforts, meaning one has to go out of their way to play them. Of course, it doesn't help that even if one were willing to play them on original hardware, it would be expensive to do so. Nowadays, one can play The Legend of Zelda CD-i Remasters or the Spiritual Successor Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore instead.
  • Even if someone hasn't played a single canon Mega Man game, chances are they've run into a fan game, fan comic, webcomic, animation, fanfiction, and/or ROM hack of the franchise.
  • Around the time Melty Blood: Type Lumina released, Neco Arc was featured in a ton of memes, resulting in fans who only consumed memes about her and not the series she was from. It helped that the game didn't have Neco Arc at first (She was released as free DLC later on), meaning that if someone wanted to play Type Lumina for Neco Arc, they'd be disappointed.
  • Metroid: The series is often Best Known for the Fanservice, as despite Samus Aran spending the majority of her games wearing Powered Armor, people who don't touch the games know her best for her jumping around in the very flattering Zero Suit in the Super Smash Bros. series, leading to copious Rule 34 and other fan works involving Samus.
  • Neverwinter Nights: The game was insanely popular with modders who created AAA-length campaigns in its engine, but its own original campaign was rather lackluster (by BioWare standards), so a lot of players have never even given it a shot, instead buying the game for its engine and jumping straight into more popular fan-made modules like The Bastard of Kosigan, A Dance with Rogues, and Gladiatrix.
  • NieR: Automata: Since 2B is a Ms. Fanservice with nice proportions, she has a fandom consisting of people who only know her for the vast amounts of Rule 34 that was even encouraged by the creator. Any of her actual struggles or personalities go under the radar in a lot of these fan works, with the possible exception of her tsundere tendencies that are actually a part of her Character Development and relationship to emotions, but in those fan works are just repurposed for comedy or to tease 9S. Even 9S has this since his status as the male lead makes him used by artists as a guy for 2B to dominate, especially thanks to the false perception that 2B still towers over him even without her heels. In fact, 9S' actual character and arc is pretty much lost in a lot of fan works pairing him with 2B, since one actually has to invest quite a bit of time to find out what's under his surface.
  • Overwatch: Due to its premiere as an ensemble cast of diverse gender inclusion, racial ethnicity, body types and even sexuality (especially on the two most prominent characters in marketing, Tracer and Soldier: 76), the game has a very large fanbase who never play the game but engage in the fandom due to wishing more diversity in video games.
    • In a similar vein as the Metroid entry noted above, there is a notably large portion of the fanbase that exclusively interact with the franchise through Rule 34 art and animations. This has become so infamous that Overwatch is (mostly) jokingly referred to as a genre of pornography first and a video game second.
  • Persona 5 is highly popular, and sizeable portion of the fanbase came in through Let's Plays, fan work, memes, or even because of Joker's addition to the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster. However, this also means that such fans have a superficial understanding of the game or its characters. Thus the meme "Don't mess with us Persona 5 fans, we haven't even played the game."
  • Pokémon:
    • There are players who only play fan games/ROM hacks due to what they can offer vs. the official games: more difficulty, Darker and Edgier stories, a chance to truly "catch 'em all" without buying additional games/systems or having a friend who did, getting to immediately jump into competitive battling without spending hours making competitive-ready mons, and in some cases, just a chance to play something Game Freak didn't make due to dissatisfaction with the direction the mainline games have gone in.
    • There's also fans who only consume Fan Art, which can come in many, many varieties: Cute art of the franchise's Ridiculously Cute Critters, badass art of its more badass-looking mons, art that tries to make the mons look more realistic, fanart of the human characters, crossovers with other franchises giving non-Pokémon characters Pokémon teams of their own, and... well...
    • And there's also those who only engage in the fanfiction side due to the creative freedom available such as Darker and Edgier story lines, exploration of Plot Threads, shipping, original characters and the like.
  • Resident Evil Village: Lady Dimitrescu (and to a lesser extent her daughters Bela, Cassandra and Daniela) has a fanbase of her own with countless fan artworks, fanfics and Cosplays. They're not necessarily players of the game.
  • Shantae: One of the main appeals of the series, as told by its fans, are how charming and diverse the cast of characters is, all with standout designs, memorable personalities, and fantastic humor. Those who aren't frequenters of the indie scene or outright don't like the gameplay style of Metroidvanias often find themselves engaging with fan work as a way to grow attached to the characters, which isn't a hard task, as fanwork for Shantae is very abundant on the internet, safe for work or... otherwise.
  • There are a number of Sonic the Hedgehog fans who are not into the games or other official material for a number of reasons, but tend to remain involved with the community through fanfics, fan games and fan art, amongst other fan works. Unsurprisingly, given the sheer size of the fandom, there are a number of Sonic groups who are dedicated largely to fan works.
  • Super Mario Bros.: While no one can deny the impact of the official material, the franchise continues to attract new audiences due to its highly robust fan scene, with countless Fanfiction, Fan games, Fan comics, Webcomics, Animations and Rom Hacks. Even if you met someone who haven't played any of the games, chances are they've run into a fanwork involving the franchise that attracted them to it.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Until the game became F2P, most of the Yaoi Fangirls making fan art and fanfiction for the game had never even played it, making this a case of Most Gamers Are Male played straight. Also applies on a lesser scale to those who mainly follow TF2 for the GMod videos, like Painis Cupcake or Vagineer. Reasoning on this can be varied, from "I like the universe, but I don't like first-person shooters/video games in general" to No Export for You (a lot of fanwork on Tumblr is from Japan and Korea), to health problems like epilepsy and motion sickness that restrict how much, if any gaming they do. Although unfortunately the girls who do pay and play often get dismissed as "just here for the gay porn" or "just here because you think [insert class here] is hot" if they dare to reveal their gender to the guys, even if the female fans were there before the F2P update or play competitive Highlander.
    • There's also a subset of TF2 fans who are more interested in watching SFM and GMod (or any other style of animation) videos about TF2 rather than playing the game themselves. Helps that many of said videos vary quite widely in genre, animation, style, aesthetics, etc., making the animation community of TF2 quite diverse. Creators such as Crash Maul, Eltorro64Rus, and STBlackST (to name a few that actually have trope pages) are famous animators within the community.
  • Touhou Project: The "mainline" games are Bullet Hell shooters that require a significant amount of both concentration and dexterity, and used to be hard to find legally (which is still the case for the first three PC games, which is a problem because First Installment Wins). However, the amount of fan media like fan videos, fan art, Touhou Fan Music and fangames in all kinds of genres (plus the memes) has made the series have an incredible and enduring online presence since the early 2000s. Tellingly, videos like "Bad Apple!!", "Marisa Stole the Precious Thing", and "Cirno's Perfect Math Class" have millions of views on YouTube, while let's plays for the series tend to be in the "lower-thousands" of views. Even among fans who are devoted enough to answer a survey it appears that roughly 40% of them haven't played any of the games.
  • Undertale: Due to the popularity of Alternate Universe Fics such as Underswap and Underfell, some people enjoy these AUs without having played the original game.
  • Wii Fit: Since her inclusion in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, the female Wii Fit Trainer went from being a semi-obscure Nintendo character to a beloved Ensemble Dark Horse on her own among many people, spawning lots of fan works. Despite this, given their very casual approach, many of those people have hardly, if ever, played the actual Wii Fit games.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: One of the reasons Pyra and Mythra are Best Known for the Fanservice is their vast amounts of Rule 34 from artists who have admitted to never playing the game or were commissioned to do so by people who didn't, but were still attracted to Pyra and Mythra's designs. The Newbie Boom thanks to being included in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate didn't really help, as it only increased the amount of sexualized fan art more than anything else. This leads to skewed perceptions of the two girls in terms of their personalities and relationship with each other and Rex. Even Rex isn't safe from this, as his proximity to the Aegis personalities makes him reduced to a tool for Pyra and Mythra to dominate.
  • A sizable amount of fans of Yandere Simulator were introduced to it not by playing the game itself, but rather through fan art, fan fiction and Let's Plays. Factors also include the actual game being particularly full of glitches and constantly moving projected release dates further into the future, alongside several allegations ranging from spending development money on frivolities to sexually predatory behavior towards minors against the creator YandereDev.

    Visual Novels 
  • How many who know about Air, Kanon, One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e, and/or MOON have actually played them? The only reason why anyone knows about them is because of Doujin Soft games involving their characters, most notably Eternal Fighter Zero, and the source material's depressing tone (especially Air's ending where Misuzu dies) tends to turn off potential fans. Even many of those who are familiar with the visual novels themselves have only seen them through someone else's Let's Play. It doesn't help that Air and Kanon are not licensed in the West, the first anime adaptation of One is universally despised, and MOON has neither an anime or a TV Tropes page due to it being a H-Game with an excessive amount of Gorn in it. Tellingly, it's very rare for any part of a Let's Play of any of the visual novels to have more than 1000 views.
  • For quite a while, anyone interested in Danganronpa who didn't speak Japanese was forced to make do with fan translations, Let's Plays, fics, and fan art. Now that the games have been localized, the franchise is much more accessible to those outside of Japan, though some tie-in novels and mangas still have yet to receive official translations, so if you want to read those, you'll have to rely on fan efforts. On another note, the franchise is wildly popular with cosplayers, some of whom have never played the games, thanks to the extremely unique and fun character designs.
  • For similar reasons, for a long time most Western fans were only familiar with Fate/stay night from fanart of Rin and Saber or memes like "j-jam it in" or "people die when they are killed". That the first anime adaptation was not very well received didn't help matters.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: City of Hunger already had a few fanfics while it was still in production and having almost nothing of its plot revealed.

    Web Original 
  • Chuggaaconroy admits that he is one of these for Team Fortress 2, mainly watching the Meet the Team promo videos and Source Filmmaker fan animations, but he does not play the actual game. He explains this by saying he initially didn't have any way to play it, and at the time he was capable of playing it, it wasn't popular anymore.

    Western Animation 
  • Some fans of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers admit that they're fans of the fanfic rather than of the show itself. For one, CDRR fanfic tends to keep the premise of the show itself but take it much further, not being constrained by Disney house rules or a 20-minute limit. The first CDRR fanfic, Rhyme and Reason, already set very high standards for fics to follow. Furthermore, if these fans are North American, all they had for many years after the syndication run of the show ended in 1993 and until the first DVDs became available in 2006 was a few official comics, reruns on Disney Channel and Toon Disney, and said fanfics. It's often said that the fans took over after Disney largely abandoned the franchise.
  • Some fans of Danny Phantom don't care for the show itself, and only see it as an overrated cartoon that didn't do anything special, but are dedicated to the fanworks because they're enamored with some, but not all, of the characters.
  • It's becoming increasingly common for The Loud House fans to engage themselves in the vast display of fanworks rather than the show itself, with many admitting to finding the show too generic to invest in and that the fanworks are more interesting as a result.
  • Due to some rather controversial choices made by Miraculous Ladybug, there are several people who are interested in the idea of the show, yet get their fix from the various fanworks rather than the real thing, especially due to the large amount of rewrite fanfics.
  • My Little Pony
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and in turn prior and subsequent My Little Pony series, had many fans first exposed and brought into it by the vast amount of fan-produced Friendship Is Magic media. Thus many My Little Pony fans don't or never cared for the official material finding the fan works, offering more mature and serious content, more to their liking.
    • The creators of My Little Pony (Generation 5) seemed to want a different audience than what they got. It is generally considered inferior to Generation 4, but Izzy Moonbow and Misty Brightdawn, the two most popular characters in Generation 5, are a popular subject of fanart and fanfiction among those who don't care for the fifth generation.
  • There are a good amount of Thomas & Friends fans who admit to not caring about the show itself anymore for a number of reasons, but remaining engaged with Thomas through its many fan works.
  • There are some fans who have never watched Total Drama, but are familiar with the Total Drama simulator game on Roblox. This results in Roblox fans referring to the original Total Drama characters with the names of their copyright-friendly Expies.
  • Velma's unpopularity with the fanbase has lead to multiple Fix Fics and Fan parodies that take the premise of a Ruder and Cruder Scooby-Doo series involving murderers but making it Truer to the Text (sometimes giving them the Adaptation Personality Change of the Gang but making them nicer and more sympathetic), some fans refuse to watch the actual show but are interested on fan versions of the setting.

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