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Fanwork-Only Fans

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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. Especially if that fan feels that the original has undergone Seasonal Rot. And in some cases, someone might have actually been introduced to the franchise through its fanwork first and never take much interest in the franchise beyond that.

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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, this can easily result in copious amounts of Fanon, as well as Canon Defilement in worse case scenarios. Naturally, expect to see this type of fan declare many fanworks to be Better Than Canon.

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.

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Compare Just Here for Godzilla, for when fans engage in a work because it features specific stuff (such as characters) they 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.


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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 before switching to the crossover fanfics.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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.

    Films - 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • The Twilight 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.

    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.
  • 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 

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 series 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.. Pit also tends to appear in Rule 34 as Palutena's timid and constantly on-edge boy toy and "prey", rather than the brave goofball he actually is.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Due to the vast amount of content available for M.U.G.E.N, it's inevitable that this will come up.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: If you were to conduct a survey amongst fans asking how many have actually played the games for more than ten minutes, most of the responses would likely be "no". Most are in it for the fan comics, the fan remixes, and memes.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The series has a vocal amount of fans (and even haters) who adore pretty much every aspect of the series outside of the writing itself. As such, many of them are drawn towards fan works, with a fair amount of these works even outright promoting themselves as being improved retellings of the show's plot.

    Webcomics 
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: City of Hunger already has a few fanfics despite being still in production and having had 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 
  • Thanks to a vast amount of fan-produced media made during the heyday of its fandom, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has fans that have either never seen the series, or abandoned it for fan-made material after the show went in a direction they disliked.
  • 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.

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