Commonly referred to as "Five Things" and sometimes "Five Times", this is a fanfiction or other fanwork structured in six small "scenes" with an event happening in the first five scenes and then either not happening or happening differently in the last. There are also some works that use different numbers, like three things or ten things.
The title is usually a "Number of Objects" Title: "Five times (event happens) and one time (event either doesn't happen or variation on event happens)" in an example of Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This trope occurs most often in romantic fics, where common titles include "Five times [x] kissed [y] and one time [y] kissed back" or "Five times [x] said 'I love you' and one time he didn't need to."
The earliest predecessor to this is a 1981 Star Wars fanfic called Four Preludes, and One Short Epilogue on Han Solo or After the Empire Struck Back by Marcia Brin. The format as its currently known began in the Smallville fandom circa 2001. A writer called "Basingstoke" wrote Five Things That Aren't True, which caused other similar stories to be created.
Fanlore discusses this fic style here.
- My Hero Academia:
- Dry Eye And Other Things That Burn by hakuraimaru follows "4+1" format: "Four times Aizawa helps his kids, and one time they get him back"
- Sing Sing (Lovin' You) by ModernArt2012 is about five times Hizashi sang about his feelings for Shouta, while "+1" bit has Shouta sing for Hizashi about his own feelings.
- If My Feelings had Wings, the Only Thing I'd Want Would Be for Them To Reach You is an Osomatsu-san fic where Homura accidentally meets Jyuushimatsu's identical brothers five times and then reunites with Jyuushimatsu the sixth time.
- Cinderella: Five Things The Baker Taught Anastasia, and One Thing They Learnt Together is a fanfic about how Anastasia's relationship with the Baker affects her recovery over her abusive childhood.
- Northern Exposure:
- Five Secrets Maurice Is Hiding shows the secrets Maurice will not say like letting Nikolai win a game or that he occasionally likes something that Chris plays on the radio.
- Person of Interest:
- Five Times Harold and John Died Together (and One Time They Lived Together) by Disposal Unit is a very dark variant, with each chapter named after the type of damage done (which results in the death of both characters in all but the final chapter, which has a happy ending).
- Five Times Finch Compared Reese To Dillinger adds the "...and one time he didn't" part in the description. The fic puts some canon interactions in context of what Dillinger might've done to make Finch so suspicious of Reese.
- Five times Harold sang to John by talkingtothesky is an example of the version without the +1. It uses lyrics from six different songs within five mini chapters.
- a very private person by nowrunalong leaves the 5+1 note in the description: "Five times Finch avoids Reese's questions, and one time he doesn't." As is typical of the show, Reese tries to get information about Finch's past and his preferences, but Finch repeatedly evades the attempts.
- Bargains by Zaniida was originally titled with an inverted version: One Bargain Harold Could Not Agree to (and Five He Could). It showcases variations on the deal that Harold made with the mob boss Elias to save John's life. (The original deal in canon was played up like the sacrifice would be dramatic, but it turned out that Elias merely wanted a chess partner... which he used as a chance to regularly exchange information with Harold.)
- Horatio Hornblower:
- "Five Times Somebody Noticed Horatio and Archie Were a Couple (And One Time Nobody Did)": Fairly self-explanatory title. This one is a shipping fic with slash pairing Hornblower/Kennedy.
- "Five Times Horatio Looked After Archie (And One Time Archie Returned the Favor)": Caretaker Reversal fic.
- "Five things that never happened to Archie Kennedy": 5 alternate reality and/or fanon discontinuity fics. The "plus one" fic is missing. Some stories are dark and have a downer ending, while some end on a good and hopeful note.
- "Lives And Deaths of Archie Kennedy (Five Things That Never Happened)": Five divergences of Archie's path, moving backwards from point of death in the series. Rather dark divergences.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.:
- "Tripping Balls; or, Five incapacitants THRUSH considered using (and the one they went with)": In alternate-reality versions of the same scene, Napoleon encounters a series of Fantastic Drugs including Knockout Gas, a Love Potion, and a Truth Serum. The sixth one is a placebo.
- Doctor Who
- "Five Times Jack Died For Love Of Ace, And One Time He Didn't" by JohnAmendAll, playing on Ace's Cartwright Curse, and the one character that's not a problem for.
- Blake's 7:
- "Painted Smiles" by thisbluespirit has the synopsis "Five times Servelan smiled and someone died".
- The Shadow Of The Tower
- "i love the rose both red and white" by thisbluespirit is a series of canon divergence AUs with the synopsis "Five other ways it might have gone for Elizabeth of York and Henry Tudor."
- Kingdom Hearts: Kiss is a Aerith/Tifa fanfic of this sort. It involves six kisses between them, with the sixth being when Aerith kisses back.
- (Don't) Blink by puppyblue is a set of snippets about Corvo accidentally Blinking somewhere he didn’t intend to. Five times he finds himself in unwanted situations, and one time he gets a lucky peaceful moment in a pleasant company.
- oh quiet down, I’ve had enough by taywen is about five times various people tried to hit on an asexual Daud, and one time someone asked instead of making assumptions. The fic changes the format a little: the "+1" bit is placed between fourth and fifth regular bits.
- Danganronpa: First Meetings follows a 3+1 format with three times that Chiaki greeted Hajime and the one time that she did not.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers: Five Times America Forgot His Own Strength by Dear Inconspicuous details five times America accidentally used his superstrength along with one time he remembered he had it (and used it intentionally). Unlike some of these fics, this one has an interwoven plotline where Germany witnesses each accident and attempts to learn why and how America is superhumanly strong.
- Hey Arnold!: Five Times And First is an Arnold/Helga fic about how four times they held hands and the fifth they kissed
- Young Justice:
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Five Times Aang Didn't Propose is an Aang/Katara fic revolving around Aang repeatedly trying to propose to Katara.