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O.C. Stand-in

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A Sister Trope of Original Character, and the fanfic equivalent of Ascended Extra. An OC Stand-in is a canon Flat Character that gets little screentime or few (if any) lines, and therefore can be molded into whoever the fan wants. Often, they may not even have canonical names. Thus, an OC Stand-in is like an OC, but the fact that these characters usually have at least some personality already means the author has some general direction to go in.


Like all things in fanfiction, when handled badly, the OC Stand-in can delve straight into Mary Sue territory. Compare with the Possession Sue. Sometimes, these characters are just used to insult the heroes and make life hard for them, giving the character little point. Does Harry Potter really need another teacher who's out to get him? Hasn't Naruto dealt with enough crap already? In these cases, the character is simply used to replace the canon obstacles for The Hero with smaller and (sometimes) more realistic ones. An OC Stand-in is sometimes used to save a main character from being bashed... The OC Stand-in is then bashed instead.

However, there are cases, even when the OC Stand-in is "high school evil", that these characters turn out likeable. Or, at least, the Fanfic does.

In video games, the canon protagonist is sometimes an OC Stand-in, due to being a Featureless Protagonist, a Heroic Mime, and/or a highly customizable RPG player character.


A particularly successful interpretation of one of these is likely to ascend into Fanon when other fans want to play with that version. At that point, if the canon work decides to flesh out this character, then you've got an example of Ascended Fanon (if it matches) or Outdated by Canon (if it doesn't).

Also known as an "Original Canon Character" or OCC. This term isn't to be confused with Out of Character, unless the stand-in's character goes against what little characterization the canon character has. Also contrast with Recurring Fanon Character, an Original Character who never appeared in the original work at all, but became so popular as to appear in many fanworks not by their original creator.

Related to Memetic Bystander.



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    Canon examples 
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy, a crossover that featured characters from the first 12 Final Fantasy games, had to pretty much create personalities for the Warrior of Light and the Onion Knight from the wholecloth as both of them were featureless protagonists. It should also be noted that the latter could have possibly been avoided if the game used Luneth or one of the other three orphans from the DS remake instead of the OK kids from the NES version, but that wouldn't quite fit what the game was going for.
  • Media relating to Lord of the Rings likes to do this with the Nazgûl, since they're clearly important figures, but the only ones to be even slightly fleshed out are the Witch-King, whose life prior to becoming a wraith is still a complete mystery, and Khamûl the Easterling, whose character consists of his name and ethnicity. Any media not wanting to simply name them "Nazgûl three through nine" (which, funnily, was the solution one of the card games went with) will usually give them backstories or personalities of some kind.
  • Zagreus, the main character of Hades, is this trope by necessity. The game revolves around Greek mythology, and the original Zagreus from Greek myth is a very minor and obscure deity with hardly any surviving records about him, typically being part of Dionysus' Multiple-Choice Past whenever he's mentioned at all. As a result, the game's interpretation of Zagreus (mainly based on the Greek playwright Aeschylus' portrayal of him as the son of Hades) is an entirely new character who's separate from Dionysus.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto:
    • Tenten is an archetypical example. Her brief appearances in canon provide enough character elements for fanfic writers to build upon, and yet she never even got a formal introduction. Being beaten by Temarioff-panel in the manga—is her most memorable scene. Naruto author Kishimoto admitted that she was created simply to fill in the spot of token female on Team Guy. Kishimoto, oddly enough, said he likes her design most out of the female ninja. This becomes even more embarrassing when you see the number of fanfics. She has much more fics than any other secondary characters with little to none screen time, like Choji, Shizune and Shino together, and more than other characters with full-fleshed personalities, like Rock Lee or Kiba, and even Kabuto who is a major character. Her personality varies with the author, but you got to admit, it's quite impressive for a character who doesn't even have a full name.
    • Sakura's parents, particularly her mother, are common Fan Fic characters. Sakura's mother is heard off-camera in the anime, but she only seems to exist to prove that Sakura, unlike Naruto and Sasuke, had a normal childhood. In fan works, she is usually both a Straw Civilian and a total bitch to Naruto — someone the Naru/Saku shippers can use as a Freudian Excuse for Sakura. Both of Sakura's parents finally appeared and received names in the movie Road to Ninja.
    • Other members of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist show up often as oneshot villains. They're not even real characters to stand in for, so much as placeholders where characters presumably go.
    • Similarly, tailed beast hosts number 2 and 4-7, as two and four were only seen briefly while the others were all killed offscreen. The fact that the author made full designs of all of them (even for the three-tail host, when the three-tailed beast didn't presently have a host) for a cover as part of a Milestone Celebration is pretty much asking for this — though ironically at least one of them has been given a plot-relevant backstory post-mortem (the three-tails was the last Mizukage).
      • Yugito Nii (the 2-tails host) is an extremely popular OC Stand-in, and is a frequent shipping target for Naruto. Fuu (the 7-tails) is also becoming popular in this way after her design was revealed.
    • Also, Hanabi Hyuga, Hinata's sister, who only speaks in one Part 1 scene and primarily only asks questions of her father. Fans tend to differ on whether she would become the heir or a branch house member (and how well she would accept either), and whether she loves Hinata or sees her as worthless. Or, for that matter, sees her as a threat - the natural consequence of the prospect of one sister enslaving the other or else dying. Ironically when Hanabi got some spotlight in the anime she clearly loves Hinata, to the degree of admiring her. Hanabi was given a bigger role in Boruto, where she's Boruto's spunky aunt.
    • Naruto's mother also got this treatment - either as a placeholder (like the swordsmen), or a true example once Kushina was first seen, even though we only got to see her when she was pregnant and hear her say one line in her first appearance. One popular characterization is that she was a tomboy in her youth - which turned out to be dead accurate when her soul appeared to help Naruto gain control over the Kyuubi's chakra.
    • The Rikudo Sennin is this when he's used in a fanfic. We have virtually nothing, and authors can turn him into anything from a more powerful Naruto, to a guy with a god complex.
    • Between Chapter 700 and Boruto's release, many of the Next Generation were this. Everyone but Boruto, Sarada, and Chocho were give limited personality so fans worked from there. Most fanon ended up accurate, some didn't.
    • Hinata's mother has not appeared in manga canon. She's only appeared in an anime-only photo from when Hanabi was a baby. She's not seen in anime filler of Hanabi as a toddler, or even in manga flashbacks of Hinata when she was kidnapped, suggesting that she died when her kids were very young. As a result, her character and the reason why she isn't in the main story are up to fan interpretation.
    • Boruto has a lot of, predominantly unnamed, background characters with eye-catching designs, such as an Elegant Gothic Lolita girl named Hako, a Japanese Delinquent-looking boy, and a dark-skinned girl with curly hair. Most don't even have names, nevermind characterizations or backstories, so fans have free range with them.
    • The third Hokage had two sons, Asuma and an unnamed child. Almost nothing is known about either one of Konohamaru's parents asides being ANBU, so they’re up to fan interpretation.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Vegeta's father gets this treatment. He's been dead for years and gets three scenes total over the course of the anime. He gets another in the first Broly movie, but if you count it as canon (which requires some shoehorning) it's a Moral Event Horizon. He shows only bare hints of personality. Yet he's also the subject of fan devotion that's surprisingly intense, if small in scale. (Vegeta's Missing Mom is also the subject of much speculation.)
    • Goku's Missing Mom too. Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball Minus short story formally introduced the official version — Gine, a pacifist who stayed in the kitchen because of her lack of combat ability. (Of course, this Jossed most of the concepts fans had about Bardock's mate.)
    • On a related note, the Chick of Bardock's squad, Fasha/Seripa sometimes overlapped with the "Goku's Mom" role. She, and all of Bardock's teammates, are frequently OC stand-ins in their own rights.
    • Many of the fighters from the Tournament of Power in Dragon Ball Super also get this, as they aren't explored in detail but their designs, the possible relationship with the Gods of Destruction and personalities made some fans to write about them. Examples include Universe 9 (Who are popular with the fanbase), Ganos from Universe 4, and even Cabba from Universe 6, who is a Saiyan.
  • Happens very often in Hetalia: Axis Powers fandom with nations that have only appeared in profiles or on the author's blog, especially since fanfic writers can research these nations' histories and stereotypes to come up with some technical canon. Some of these common fan characterizations are:
    • Denmark as a Boisterous Bruiser and Norway as Tsundere for him because of their long history together; the former turned out to be pretty spot-on with canon, while the latter is still up in the air (though Norway did strangle Denmark with his tie in one strip).
    • Belgium as a sassy, fearless Shorttank who enjoys waffles and chocolate and can drink anyone under the table; this turned out to be fairly accurate to canon (although she's more cheerful than sassy) with the Hard-Drinking Party Girl part being the only one left unconfirmed.
    • Netherlands as similar to Denmark in personality with a pot-smoking habit; this was one of the fanon characterizations that ended up Jossed by canon when Netherlands was revealed to be a mainly blunt and stoic Perpetual Frowner, though the smoking habit was pretty much confirmed.
    • Hong Kong as an Emotionless Boy with a penchant for pranks and snarkiness; this was mostly confirmed by canon, although he doesn't seem to be quite as emotionless as fanon loved making him out to be.
    • Taiwan as a Yamato Nadeshiko with romantic feelings for Japan; the Yamato Nadeshiko part was Jossed with the Drama CD (and more recently, the fourth manga volume) showing her to be a Plucky Genki Girl, and she doesn't seem to act differently with Japan than she does with her other Asian siblings.
    • Vietnam as a Tsundere tomboy who uses her rice paddle as a weapon or a Broken Bird emotionally scarred by her wars; it looks like her canon self will be more subdued than either of these characterizations.
    • Thailand as a Nice Guy who also happens to be a Bare-Fisted Monk that sometimes uses a Cool Sword as a weapon. He cooks well and loves spicy food, and lastly, no matter how nice a guy he is, he is ALWAYS portrayed as Cute and Psycho. A few times, he's a Wholesome Crossdresser (thanks to RL Thailand's kathoey, or ladyboys).
    • Romania was almost always depicted by fans as a female (probably because of the potential Les Yay between her and Hungary), only to have canon Joss that with the fourth manga volume establishing him as male. With the canon Romania appearing to have red eyes and Cute Little Fangs, it's becoming common to depict him as either a vampire or an ordinary human who pretends to be a vampire for the lulz. It also helps that most of Transylvania has mostly has been part of Rumania since they conquered it from Communist Hungary in 1919.
    • New Zealand is almost always depicted as either having a Vitriolic Best Buds or True Companions type relationship with Australia.
    • India, like Romania, was almost always depicted as female in fanworks only to be established as male later on in canon. No one seems to really care, though, probably because of his awesome Bollywood entrance in Hetaween 2011.
    • For a long time, Bulgaria's only canon scene was him hitting Italy with his stick and the most common fanon depiction of him was as a Jerkass with a Hair-Trigger Temper. This seems to have been Jossed, however, with him being shown in Hetaween 2011 and Hetalia Bloodbath 2011 as a fairly nice guy who's good friends with Romania.
  • Death Note:
    • Matt is a good example of this. He gets little time on the page in the manga, and even less time in the anime, but he has a large fan base, and thus many people end up writing about him, usually just writing him as whatever they need, within limits, for the story.
    • Also Linda, who was mentioned in the manga a grand total of twice, seen only once, and has only one line. Considering that, she is a massive Ensemble Darkhorse; if you type in "linda death note" on deviantART you get 526 results, and she has 34 fanfictions on
    • Yamamoto, Light's friend from school who later becomes Matsuda's partner at the NPA and has Ho Yay with both. He gets about as many scenes as Matt (though he's not nearly as insanely popular) and doesn't appear at all in the anime but he does show up regularly in fic.
    • Namikawa, on account of being one of the cooler members of the interim villain's Quirky Mini Boss Squad.
    • There's also Nori, Misa's punk friend.
    • There's also Misa's sister, who is mentioned in the manga and may or may not even exist.
    • The spin-off novel Another Note (which was not written by Ohba, but was approved by them) gives readers the character of "A", the first Wammy's House child who committed suicide out of pressure of being L. Unlike B/Beyond Birthday, we get nothing in the way of A's personality or backstory, leaving fans to have to fill in a lot of blanks when they utilize him in their fanfic.
  • Though they go unnamed in the manga, Ranma ½ has Ranma's buddies Hiroshi and Daisuke, and for the girls there's Akane's friends Yuka and Sayuri. They mainly exist to be Those Two Guys. Rumiko Takahashi seems to love this trope, especially in Ranma. Herb's got Mint and Lime. Kima has Masara and Koruma, and is herself not much developed beyond her role as Saffron's bodyguard. The Anime also gave us Kaori Daikoku, who appeared just once in the anime and yet comes up rather frequently in fanfiction.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • We have Kyoko Soryu. We have no idea what she was like before the incident, or even what the woman looks like (other than some brief, blurry flashes). On the non-canon Shinji Ikari Raising Project manga she is given a personality that fits the overall comedic narrative, that of an Amazingly Embarrassing Parent to balance out (or maybe even justify) Asuka's Tsundere-ness.
    • To a lesser extent, due to having somewhat of a discernible canon characterization, Yui Ikari. Things that are canon include her being a top-notch Mama Bear (courtesy of her being inside Unit-01), but what varies among writers is details like how much actual control she had in the Gambit Pileup the whole series revolves around and thus whether or not she is Not So Different (or in some extreme cases Eviler Than Thou) from Gendo or even Keel.
    • Also, Class Representative Hikari Horaki's sisters, Kodama and Nozomi; they never appear on-screen in any Evangelion media (up until 2018, that is, and it was in a Crossover episode of Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion of all places) and the only known facts about them are that they're older and younger (respectively) than Hikari and that the three of them have a Missing Mom like the rest of their class. To a lesser extent, Hikari herself.
    • Touji's little sister sometimes got used this way even before her first onscreen appearance in the second Rebuild movie. She became even more important in the third movie, finally being named onscreen (Sakura Suzuhara).
    • Occasionally the few Evangelion Canon Foreigners (such as Mana Kirishima) can fall into this, since not many Americans have actually played the games they appeared in. Mari Illustrious Makinami was this for some fans before her actual personality was revealed, and even then there's still a lot about her that's completely unknown. This can make her an Epileptic Tree stand in.
  • The unnamed girl from The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya was often used as this in Haruhi Suzumiya fanfiction until the release of The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya, where she was given a name (Watahashi Yasumi) and a backstory which Jossed pretty much all interpretations of the character overnight. Less commonly, the unnamed boy with glasses whose life Kyon saves in The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya, as well as Kyon's sister's friend Yoshimura Miyokonote  are used for authors who want to write about Kyon's sister's age group.
  • During the end of Fullmetal Alchemist, and later in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa, Edward gets sent to "our" world where everyone he knows has an Identical Stranger. Fans have a ball with the unseen ones as several fanons have popped up. Winry's alter usually portrayed as the opposite of tomboyish Winry, is often Jewish, and is usually perceived as a Replacement Goldfish. Some fans have Edward's deceased alter as related to Alfons but in canon that is unlikely.
  • In Code Geass, Kallen's brother Naoto Kozuki sometimes get this treatment, largely because all we know about him is that he was the leader of Ohgi's group and died sometime before the series started. By the same extent, fics that feature build upon Kallen and Lelouch's relationship will do this for the rest of the Stadtfeld family including Kallen's biological mother.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the fandom, there was a brief period of time during which people knew about the Toei series, but had no fansub available. Cue Miho, who was a one-shot character in the manga and had a prominent role in the anime, becoming an OC Stand-in, though her personality did often overlap with the one she had in the manga.
    • Yugi's parents are also frequently subject to this in fanfiction. In canon, Yugi's father never appears, and the most known about him is that he's a traveling salesman who's always away on work, while Yugi's mother appears only twice in the manga and once in the anime. Her anime appearance is cut entirely from the dubbed version, however, hence she isn't really remembered. Fanon characterizations of them vary between abusive, deadbeat, Good Parents, or dead.
    • Bakura's father and deceased sister and mother are subject to this for the same reasons as Yugi's parents; their roles were only talked about, not seen, and while Yu Gi Oh The Darkside Of Dimensions finally showed Bakura's father he wasn't given much personality or backstory.
    • Pegasus's lost love Cyndia/Cecelia is also subject to this, as she died 7 years before the story began and little is known of her life or interests.
    • The protagonist of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Tag Force Series (referred to as "Hat Guy", "Konami-kun", or "Red Hat", depending on your take) is a weird case of this, in that he was a Featureless Protagonist and Heroic Mime who functioned as an avatar for the player. There are countless fanfics dealing with him getting involved in canon, usually interacting with the characters in the same fashion he did in his home games. As Red Hat was also very much an Escapist Character, the likely result of this is sadly common.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann there are a few characters that had little timescreen and characterization:
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!:
    • A lot of the Posthumous Characters get this treatment in fanfiction, most commonly Silica's mother Garlude and Knuckle Joe's father "Jecra". Note that most of them are only named in fanon, Jecra included.
    • Sword Knight and Blade Knight get this a lot, too.
    • The Star Warriors who only appear in the finale do as well.
  • Whenever Tiida Lanster, Quint Nakajima, Alicia Testarossa, or Olivie Segbrecht- aka the Sankt Kaiser- shows up in a Lyrical Nanoha fanfic they'll probably be this, since they were Posthumous Characters in canon.
    • Game Theory gets bonus points for it's use of the giant cat from Episode 3 (yes, the trope image). In the fic, she's named Vesta and after a series of events she becomes Nanoha's familiar. After being shrunken down, of course.
  • Smile Pretty Cure!: Many minor characters only have one episode to themselves before they're Put on a Bus. There are several to choose from, so take your pick:
    • Brian, the young man from Great Britain and whom Akane Hino fell in love with. He's depicted as a charming man who means well.
    • The Bad End Pretty Cures. They're introduced at the end of episode 45 and are Killed Off for Real during episode 46. Yet, their status as Ensemble Darkhorses means they've received a lot of love from fans, having had fanart a week before they even debuted. Many Smile Precure fanfics involve the Bad Ends in some way both to fill in their characterization and to avoid using potential Original Characters.
  • We knew Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode was coming long before we saw it, so a lot of fanfic authors pounced on the new team member who was, for the nonce, a blank slate. Unfortunately, this meant the name "Berii" (and several spelling variants) appeared on a lot of Mary Sues in hopes of giving them legitimacy. More unfortunately, the truth of Berry Sue was even worse than (fan)fiction.
  • There are a few other cyborgs in Gunslinger Girl besides the main girls however they're not given significant screentime.
  • Pokémon:
    • Amber Fuji is the protagonist of quite a lot of fanfics for a character who appears for less than ten minutes in a single movienote  (in an anime whose movies are only tenuously tied to the series to begin with at that), has been dead for years before the series even begins and whose existence is known to precisely none of the main characters at any point. Yet when she appears, it's inevitably an AU in which she either is successfully resurrected or never died to begin with, goes on her own journey, and is inevitably made into a Mary Sue for the pairing of the author's choice. Strange how this never happens with most other movie-only characters...
    • In the earlier days of the fandom Mondo was a popular character in Team Rocket themed fics. He only appeared in one Japanese-only radio drama, so we only know so much about him.
    • There are dozens of active Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys. While most canonically share basic traits like being nice, everything else is up in the air.
    • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has become a particularly prominent example of this. With the author opening the doors for others to write sidestories in the same continuity, many canon characters have gone on to have larger roles in them. Thing is, many of them were such blank slates in the first place that Cross and the other writers can choose how to develop them. Some of the characters they choose to flesh out didn't even get a single line of dialogue in canon.
    • Ash's dad is a huge example. We know he is alive and that he's on a journey... That's it. His relationship (or lack thereof) with his family, his personality, what he is doing, or even his name and design are all up to fan interpretation. The most common consensus is either that he's a deadbeat who ran off when Ash was little or that he's Giovanni (or alternatively a man named "Silver"), but there are other takes on him as well.
  • When Super Dimension Fortress Macross became the first segment of Robotech, a nameless scientist character with only two brief appearances in the series became Emil Lang, Earth's greatest expert on alien technology. The Expanded Universe of the Robotech novels and comics just ran with him, and he became one of the most important characters in the franchise.
  • The Bubblegum Crisis OVA series has Kate Madigan, the female Genom executive who appears in the Largo arc. The only thing known about her is she's as corrupt as the rest of Genom.
  • Maka's mother from Soul Eater. The information about her is few and far between. All we know is that she was at the top of her class, became Spirit Albarn's partner to make him into a Death Scythe, married him when they were young (about 18-19) and divorced him about a few months before the start of the series. Her personality and her physical appearance are both anyone's guesses. You'd be hard-pressed to find even two fanfics that use the same characterization for her. Even her name, Kami, long thought to be the only bit of solid evidence, came about from a mistranslation in regards to how Spirit referred to her as his ex-wife. The anime adaptation has expanded her personality, namely in much like her daughter, albeit more temperamental.
  • Erwin from Girls und Panzer. Due to both her attire, which includes a German general's peaked hat and jacket from WW2, and her personality, of a history geek who has even borrowed Rommel's name (to the point she verges on expy status), she's quite popular with the fans, and as a result features in a relatively large number of fanfics with a greatly increased role, even in the relatively small fandom of this anime.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Writers who want to focus on Kyoko will frequently depict her dead family members from her life before she became a magical girl, if they don't bring them Back from the Dead altogether. Of the three, we know only that her sister was named Momo and that her father was a priest who (according to his daughter) was Too Good for This Sinful Earth until he Went Mad From the Revelation and killed himself, his wife, and Momo because of Kyoko's wish inadvertently giving him a Compelling Voice. Despite only existing to facilitate a Dark Magical Girl's Dark and Troubled Past and Freudian Excuse, Kyoko's father is even listed on FanFiction.Net's character filter! In contrast, Mami's dead parents almost never appear in fanfic, not even in flashbacks. (They do appear a bit in one of the spinoffs, which helps.)
    • The magical girl forms of the various witches that appear in the series all fall into this, as there's just enough there in various supplementary material to guess about their designs and personalities. Charlotte was a particularly popular choice, owing to being an Ensemble Darkhorse already and having a design that lended itself very well to humanization: so much so that the series even introduced a canon version later on, and she was surprisingly close to the common fanon portrayal.
  • Inuyasha has Michiru and Kaname Kururugi, the Player Characters from InuYasha: The Secret of the Cursed Mask. The fanfic series The Legacy Of The Cursed Mask Series gives heavy focus to the Kururugi twins, and there are multiple pairing stories where either Michiru or Kaname is paired with a particular canon character.
  • Digimon:
  • Sailor Moon: Whenever a civilian character becomes an Ascended Extra or Sixth Ranger in fanfiction, this is what happens. There are tons of them to choose from, but a few stand out:
    • Naru, Usagi's best friend at the start, is probably the biggest example. A lot of fans think she should have been a Sailor Senshi, but she ended up being Social Circle Filler and the Designated Victim, and by the Black Moon arc, you were lucky to see her at all. Fanfics abound with Sailor Earths of every kind, but if an author doesn't want to us an OC for that, chances are they'll pick Naru. Other minor female characters are occasionally used for the same purpose, but not nearly as often.
    • Usagi's brother Shingo. Little is known about him because he doesn't appear much, especially in the manga and Crystal. The closest thing Hotaru/Sailor Saturn has to a love interest is a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with Chibi-Usa, but Chibi-Usa finds her own prince in the form of Helios. So Shingo became many fanfic writers' go-to choice for Hotaru's boyfriend and male counterpart because he's the only male character her age, because it gets his crush on Ami out of the way, and because of Best Friends-in-Law.
    • Motoki appears even less in the anime than Naru or Shingo, doesn't even get A Day in the Limelight, and his personality is kind of flat and generic. This means that fanfic writers are free to do whatever they want with him. Interestingly, he seems to have been a canon example in the live-action where he got more screen time and a different but more defined personality.
    • If an author wants to create male equivalents of the Senshi without using the Shitennou, this can happen. The lineup varies by fic, but expect Yuuichirou to be included. That's because he doesn't have much competition for being Rei/Sailor Mars' counterpart and because he's already a bit of a Badass Normal.
    • The original anime has loads of Canon Foreigners who only appear once or twice (Ami's friend Ryo, Makoto's friend Shinozaki, etc) and some of them are pretty popular with fanfic writers. Most of them have just enough traits to build on while leaving everything else up to the fandom.
  • Overlord (2012) has the Supreme Beings, Ainz/Momonga's former guildmates. There are 40 of them, but only about half of them are named, and only Touch Me, Ulbert, Tabula Smaragdina, Peroronchino and Bukubukuchagama are given some semblance of personality. Fanfic writers wanting to write an AU where some of the other Supreme Beings are also transported to the New World are allowed to pretty much create their own character from scratch.

    Comic Books 
  • This X-Men fic is one of the rare Possession Sue cases. It takes a very obscure character (Magneto's canonically-dead wife Magda) and turns her from a meek woman whose only real moment of characterization was fleeing her husband after he accidentally killed a bunch of people into a de-aged (since, as a Holocaust survivor, she should be fairly old, even with Comic-Book Time) genius roboticist mutant with a power that's supposedly completely unique and desirable enough that people would kidnap her for it (despite there already being a canon character with the same power whom no one makes much of a fuss over).
  • Project Superpowers could be considered this on a company-wide scale, adapting Public Domain heroes from The Golden Age of Comic Books and giving them personalities and characterisation not seen before.
  • In the (admittedly small) fandom for the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics and related spin-offs, One-Scene Wonder Edgar Vargas was commonly used this way during the mid/late 2000s. Mostly that's because Vargas was popularized as a potential shipping partner for Johnny, since Guy-on-Guy Is Hot and the only other "main" characters in the actual comic are women, children, or imaginary disembodied voices (probably for exactly this reason). Funnily enough, the original fanfic to use the character, while it did establish the ship, focused mostly on Character Development and his characterization stayed fairly consistent afterward, with the original fanfic being used as the Fanon basis for everything that followed. Vargas was eventually popular enough to merit his own character filter on

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas: The author confirmed that characters Tejada, Sergeant Travis and Kauffman are O.C. Stand-ins of notable nameless Mooks in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Travis is also based on a named minor character in the movie's novelization.
  • Adventure Time: Frozen Hearts: Thanks to the fic being made before we had any idea of what she was like, Betty is this.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Kelvin the Labradoodle is a New York street stray mentioned briefly in the movie by his pigeon friends, but is not seen. In “The Seer,” he is characterized as a prognosticator with a highly-developed moral streak who vociferously disapproves of the way Mittens treats his avian pals. The cat mistakes him for a hot-headed Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail has Chloe Cerise from Pokémon. When the author began writing, the canon Chloe had little in the way of characterization beyond "dislikes Pokémon" and "hates being seen as 'the Professor's daughter'", so she was made into a Nightmare Fetishist and inspiring horror writer. While both versions of Chloe would slowly become more accepting of Pokémon in their lives, the canon Chloe seems to be persuing archaeology as a major interest instead.
  • Rei from Mob Psycho 100 is often used as an O.C. stand in when a female love interest is needed. Or a female friend is needed.
  • In Resident Evil: Revelations 2, a throwaway line in the ending cutscene says that Adam Benford's Vice President was sworn in after Benford's death in Resident Evil 6. That's the entire extent of what canon says about this person. The Progenitor Chronicles introduces her as Robin Margaret Kaldwin, who features heavily in Volume III.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online!: The Distant Finale Exit: Sonic reveals that Tekno and Amy have a son named Johnny Junior. All that's known is that he's still teething, he's Sonic's godson, and he could become a Freedom Fighter one day. This leaves everything, including his species and design, up to interpretation.
  • The Young Stag: Edric Storm, who had a very minor role in one of the books of the TV series is based on, is made into one of the primary POV characters for the Stormlands.
  • The Winx Club fanfic Amaranthine Shadows by Lila Gaela has a rather particular and more fleshed-out version of Galatea, a very, very minor character in the series. In canon, she's a plot device whose only purpose was to be rescued by Musa so the latter can gain her Enchantix and use her Fairy Dust to heal the former's ripped-off wings. One might think that any fairy would suffer severe trauma after losing her wings by a witch's hands, even if said fairy later regained them. Winx Club's creators shoved aside all of this after that episode so this fanwork occupies itself on correcting the loose ends. Galatea indeed gets PTSD afterward and a real personality. She's a perfectionist, she's haughty, and since her wings don't immediately grow again after being healed by Musa, she thrives for power in order to regain control.

    Films — Animated 
  • Absolutely epidemic in The Lion King fandom due to a large number of background characters and semi-canon characters (characters from books and comics). Unused or non-canon characters are especially apparent in fanon works. The most common are Mheetu (Nala's brother), Kopa/Fluffy (Simba's son from The Lion King: Six New Adventures), Tesma (a meerkat friend of Simba), Naanda (Sarabi's sister), and Bhati (a bat-earred fox friend of Simba). Given that most of them don't have much of a personality this leads fan-artists to create their own versions. Sarafina, Sarabi, and Vitani are popular choices for canon characters with little screentime, while characters like Tama from comics and books also frequently appear in fan-works. The topic of whether Sarafina is even alive in the sequel is a common Fandom-Specific Plot.
  • Ariel's many older sisters in The Little Mermaid are this with fans. They don't have much to go by besides comics and the third movie (along with the occasional picture book), which have little consistency even with the details of their designs. Attina is especially popular thanks to the prequel movie making her the oldest and having her indirectly causing her mother's death. Aquata is also fairly popular as well as she was the oldest in older material, and comics go more in-depth into her grooming to be queen.
  • Frozen:
    • King Agnarr and Queen Iduna aren't given much character in the film compared to their daughters (this is especially true for Iduna who shows very little personality compared to her husband and has exactly one line before her death). Due to the fact they're such extraordinarily important characters, fanfic writers have many interpretations of them from well-meaning parents to secretly afraid of Elsa.
    • The twelve older brothers of Prince Hans are mentioned but never seen in film, though they played a part in his actions during the film. As such, fanfiction that depicts Hans' family usually brings up one or more of his brothers, even giving them names and personalities. Since the release of the semi-canon novel, A Frozen Heart, which names four of his brothers (Caleb, the oldest and the king's favorite son; Lars, the third-oldest and the only brother nice to Hans; and Rudi and Runo, the twins who were the most abusive to him) as well acknowledging his parents, fanfiction has also fleshed their characters out more.
    • Honeymaren's only role in Frozen II is to serve as Ms. Exposition without any hint of a personality. Yet since she interacts with Elsa in a potentially meaningful Les Yay, many fan fic writers love to expand her personality since she is seen as a potential Love Interest for Elsa, particularly those who support the "#Give Elsa a girlfriend" campaign.
  • Zootopia:
    • Many of Judy's fellow officers in the ZPD such as Francine, Fangmeyer, Wolfard, McHorn, and others often recieve this treatment, due to being Judy's coworkers but having almost no characterization in the movie besides name and species.
    • Another common target for this treatment is Jack Savage, a rabbit superspynote  from an early concept of the movie. Likewise, his girlfriend/spy partner Skye, a female foxnote . Unsurprisingly, being another rabbit/fox couple, they're often used to create love triangles or at least a parallel between Nick and Judy's relationship.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Roommates invents characterization for the mother of James Norrington (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies gave no name, characterization or any other information), turning her into an extremely likable Irish Cool Old Lady.
  • Uhura's Orion roommate Gaila from Star Trek (2009) had only a couple of minutes of screentime and a Word of God backstory as having escaped the Orion slave trade on an "underground railroad" of sorts. Fandom took her and turned her into a sex-positive, feminist symbol through which authors often explore cultural taboos regarding sex as well as culture shock and culture clashes.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Fans of the MCU version of Loki frequently import Sigyn from the comics and/or mythology to have someone with a seemingly legitimate romantic stake on Loki. Because Sigyn has never actually appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans are pretty free to make her anything they want her to be. Results range from genuinely good characters to shallow satellite love interests.
    • Darcy Lewis — a minor character in the first two Thor films who never made an appearance outside of them until WandaVision — became this for a significant chunk of the fandom when it came to shipping, becoming a Launcher of a Thousand Ships in record time. Part of this may have to do with what characterization we got for her in the films; as an ordinary-yet-intelligent human and Audience Surrogate, she was the closest your stereotypical MCU fic writer/reader could get to having herself represented in the films.
  • The Transformers Film Series is full of characters that hardly get any development that many fanfic writers expand on, some noticeable examples include Annabelle Lennox (and occasionally her parents) and Autobots who are not named Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
  • Star Wars's Boba Fett is by far one of the oldest examples of this phenomenon. In the films, he only had five lines, had next to no personality, and was killed off relatively early in Return of the Jedi. However, because he was a cool looking blank slate for fans to project their fantasies of badassery onto, he became explosively popular.
  • The Hobbit: Dis, Fili and Kili's mother, is mentioned only briefly in canon but gets a bigger role in many fics that flesh out the Durin family. The most common fanon characterization of her is a tough, takes-no-shit Lady of War who looks similar to her brother Thorin and is twice as stubborn as him.

  • Harry Potter.
    • Blaise Zabini gets special mention here, since from his name appearing in book one until he got a physical description in Half-Blood Prince, half the fanfic writers assumed he was a girl, since "Blaise" is more commonly a girl's name in some places. (They've since taken to writing about Daphne Greengrass or Tracey Davis when they need a generic Slytherin girl.)
    • Daphne Greengrass also gets a lot of attention when authors need a sympathetic Slytherin girl, as she's mentioned just once in the books and therefore escapes the inevitable Slytherin fate of being described as ugly and/or mean (and probably because later material revealed that Draco Malfoy hooks up with her sister Astoria after his Heel–Face Turn). Typically she's said to come from a neutral wizarding family or otherwise isn't connected with the rest of her house, possessing the same traits that Slytherins are known for but without invoking Ambition Is Evil. Tracey Davis (who's not even mentioned in the books, appearing only in an early draft list of students in Harry's year) also gets this to a lesser extent.
    • Theodore Nott is almost as popular as Blaise. He is usually portrayed as a somewhat good version of Draco Malfoy, or a bookworm loner. It was also once somewhat popular to make Nott a worse version or Draco Malfoy, almost a Tom Riddle 2.0.
    • At the time of this writing, Marlene McKinnon has 1,500+ stories on Who is Marlene McKinnon? An Order member who died in the First War, along with her family; Lily mentions having cried all night when she heard about her death. That's basically all we know about her, but fans have (somewhat reasonably) extrapolated that Marlene and Lily may have been friends, and (less reasonably) concluded that Marlene was Sirius Black's girlfriend/wife/etc., which is where most of her popularity comes from.
    • Similarly to Marlene is Mary MacDonald. All we know is that she was a Hogwarts student during the Marauder Era, apparently a Gryffindor, and on speaking terms with Lily, so she works as another friend of hers.
    • Severus Snape's Hogwarts friends often get this treatment in Marauders or young Snape fanfics. It helps that we are given names for them: Evan Rosier, Avery, Mulciber, Wilkes, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange. Regulus Black may also count, though in the final book he gets a fair bit of fleshing out despite being dead.
    • Tom Riddle's "friends" also get this to a lesser extent. Fans especially like to play with the fact that their surnames are the same as many of Snape's friends: Avery, Lestrange, Mulciber, and Rosier.
    • Chris Columbus giving his daughter Eleanor The Cameo by casting her as Susan Bones in the first two movies might almost count as an "official" version of this. After all, Susan was a background role with no lines, so what better place would there be for the American director to slip his daughter in without affecting the all-British cast requirement? Well, true to form, Susan ended up getting developed into more than just a throwaway name in the books written after the first two movies came out. The latter films handled this by simply not including her plotline, which they likely would have done anyway considering the length of the later books.
    • Back before Ginny Weasley had much of a canonically defined personality, she was a frequent target of this.
    • Fanfic writers are also fond of writing about the main characters' kids' school days, when they don't just ignore the epilogue entirely.
    • By the same token we have the spouses of the characters who Hooked Up Afterwards. Draco's wife, Astoria/Asteria Greengrass, is usually either a sympathetic Slytherin or a victim of Die for Our Ship (though sometimes she's a sympathetic Ravenclaw instead). Percy's wife, Audrey, is either a sweet girl or a rebellious firebrand in contrast to her husband; she may also be a Muggle. Luna Lovegood's husband, Rolf Scamander, is implied by Word of God to be an adventurous naturalist.
    • Hermione's Invisible Parents. The only thing known for sure about them is that they're Muggle dentists. As long as that requirement is fulfilled, fanfic writers can fill in whatever they want — and even that's flexible, as occasionally a fanfic will declare that "dentist" was a Lie to Wizards and they're more precisely doctors specializing in oral surgery. Even their first names are up for grabs.
    • Professor Aurora Sinistra. She teaches Astronomy, and since nothing plot-important really happens there until book 5, she didn't even have a clear gender until that time.
  • Aeneas has a very minor role in The Iliad, but Virgil made him the protagonist of The Aeneid, partly because he was such a blank slate and partly because he was one of the few Trojans to survive the sack of Troy (and since the Trojans were supposed to be the ancestors of the Romans, they were obviously the good guys). This makes this trope, you guessed it...
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – very minor characters in Hamlet – become the protagonists of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
  • In Peter Pan, Jane appeared in only one scene and was basically a Generation Xerox of her mother, Wendy. The Disney sequel Return To Never Land turned her into a highly pragmatic, disillusioned girl who grew up too fast as a result of living through the bombing in London. Margaret, the next descendant in the Wendy line (named, but never shown), gets this treatment in some fanfics.
    • She also made a two episode appearance in Peter Pan & the Pirates when Peter brings her to Neverland as a new Lost Boy only to find out about her being Wendy's daughter from the future.
  • The past competitors/victors in Catching Fire are often this, since few of them are given backstories. Fics about how they won their respective games are also common.
    • Also, many of the other tributes from Katniss's games have be used this way. Glimmer, Marvel, Thresh, Foxface, the girl from 4, the boy from 3 who dug up the mines, and the girl from 8 whom the careers killed the first night, are all distinct enough that they aren't completely anonymous, but have almost no defined characteristics or personality.
  • The Starlings from The 39 Clues served as this in many fanfics, having been Put on a Bus early on in the first book. That book revealed little more than the fact that they were rich triplets and not very nice, and Word of God later claimed that they were part of the Ekaterina branch of Cahill family, but other than that, fans were free to fit them with whatever characteristics they wanted. Then The Bus Came Back.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld has dozens and dozens of spear carriers, cameo roles, and placeholders. Named Assassins such as Alice Band, Miss Smith-Rhodes, Madame Deux-Epees, for instance, or the hero and adventurer Howondaland Smith. Characters like this are fertile turf for the fanfic writer. Howondaland Smith gets a tale of his own in The Black Sheep, which also features Miss Smith-Rhodes and Madame Deux-Epees in their fuller forms.
  • The sheer extent of the A Song of Ice and Fire backstory, and sheer number of characters, both living and dead, about whom we know very little, means there's the potential for a lot of this. In particular, many characters' dead mothers (Death by Childbirth being very common in Westeros) get this treatment, such as Joanna Lannister, Rhaella Targaryen, and Minisa Whent.
  • Warrior Cats: The series has literally hundreds of characters only known through the Allegiances or through bit roles. They're prime fodder for fanfic writers. Some include Snowkit (a deaf kit who was taken by a hawk) and Nutmeg (Firestar's housepet mother).
  • The Lord of the Rings has Erestor—the only things we really know about him is that he's the chief counselor of Elrond's household, and that, based on his very few lines of dialogue, he was in favor of trying to hide the ring rather than destroy it. Fanon ran away with the guy, since he's apparently a somewhat important elf, but everything else about him is very uncertain, meaning basically anything you could write about the guy would probably be true. Notably, this is common enough that Erestor/Glorfindel is, statistically, one of the most popular pairings on Archive of our Own.
    • Every one of the Ringwraiths, "kings, sorcerors and warriors of old" who succumbed to the evil of the rings Sauron gave them "sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning," is probably worthy of a full-length tragedy in his own right, but we know hardly anything more than this about their personal histories, and only their leader and his lieutenant get even traces of characterization. Naturally, spinoffs and fanworks love to craft identities for them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There are Lost fanfics that takes the minor survivors, including extras, and gives them the full on Lost treatment, with flashbacks and their own sideplots.
  • In Hogan's Heroes, Wilson the medic shows up in one episode and is mentioned in another (not by name). He shows up in so many fanfictions that his name can be used as a character filter on FanFiction.Net, combining this trope with Ensemble Dark Horse.
  • Ronnie Gardocki from The Shield qualifies as a major example of a live action version, as fans of the character have largely grafted onto him the personality of good guy nerd/geek who fell in with the wrong crowd as far as personality goes. Ironically, David Rees Snell (the actor playing Ronnie) has joked that had the writers fleshed out Ronnie and explored the character's dark side in relations to him being just like Lem, Shane, and Vic as far as being a Jerk Jock, that he probably would have lost all of his fans.
  • iCarly: Rebecca Berkowitz, seen only once, in an extended rarely seen version of "iSaw Him First" and usually mentioned off-handedly. In any fic with her as a character, she's basically going to be an OC with a canon name, if they even bother to develop her past the implied Really Gets Around.
  • A popular Doctor Who character used in this way is the Doctor's Opposite-Sex Clone Jenny from the 2008 Tenth Doctor episode "The Doctor's Daughter". She flies off in a spaceship at the end of the episode, falsely believed to be dead by the Doctor, and wouldn't appear in any more TV or Doctor Who Expanded Universe material for about a decade, before finally playing a major role in the comics Crisis Crossover Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension and getting some Big Finish Doctor Who dramas. As a result of this, she got heavy development in fanfic during the intervening years. For example, see the fanfic series Someone You'd Admire.
  • On Neighbours, Lisa Jeffries was a very minor character who shared a few scenes with Summer Hoyland; she appeared in about a dozen episodes over the course of two years. She has, however, inspired a substantial volume of fanfic, which has developed her in ways totally unrelated to her canonical characterization.
  • A juvenile character named Marissa Flores, who appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Disaster" (and absolutely nowhere else in Trek canon), spawned the rather infamous Marissa Picard fanfic series, written by a chap named Stephen Ratliff. And it's not limited to just Marissa; Ratliff also included a bunch of one-off kid characters from TNG as the title character's various minions and cohorts.
  • In the 30 Rock fandom, the Liz/Gretchen ship has a sizable following. Even if you're regular viewer of 30 Rock, you're probably wondering who Gretchen is. Well, she's a "brilliant plastics engineer/lesbian" whom Liz was set up on a date with as part of a Mistaken for Gay plot. Gretchen appeared in one episode back in the first season and has not been seen or mentioned since. But let's face it, it's not hard to see the appeal of pairing someone who looks like Stephanie March with someone who looks like Tina Fey. Plus, the episode contained a substantial amount of Les Yay, featured Frank and Pete becoming Shippers on Deck for Liz/Gretchen ("So you're saying I should just be a lesbian?", "I'm not saying it'll be easy. You get drunk first."), and ended with Gretchen deciding she couldn't be Just Friends with Liz because they were getting into a Stupid Sexy Friend situation.
  • On Glee the Warblers have little to no personality. They're very popular with fanfic writers.
    • Also, Puck's mother and sister. Since they don't even have names in canon, but he presumably lives with them, they play at least a minor part in most fics about his life outside of school and glee.
  • Since Sebastian Moran (The Dragon to Moriarty in the original Doyle stories) had no canonical characterization in Sherlock until "The Empty Hearse", he effectively became one of these for the fandom. He's been depicted as everything from Affably Evil to a Domestic Abuser to a Dark Action Girl.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • It's canonically stated that Stefan and Damon had a sibling (usually a girl in fanfics) that was born from a different mother. Whether or not the writers of the Salvatore sister stories actually know this, however, is unknown.
    • Katherine is shown to have had a younger sister in her origin story that was killed by Klaus. Commonly she is not actually killed but rather turned by him.
  • Red Dwarf has several minor characters from before the radiation accident but the most notable example is Frank Todhunter, the ship's first officer, who only appears in the first episode, for about five minutes screen time, and then dies offscreen along with everyone else. He later gets a few posthumous mentions but is never seen again, even in flashbacks (He was supposed to return but actor Robert Bathurst was unavailable). Other than his position on the ship, all that's really stated about him is that he was married but had several affairs and was utterly hated by Rimmer, mostly out of jealousy. He crops up as a fleshed-out character quite a lot in pre-series fics and it's become surprisingly popular to ship him with Lister.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom, there was Devon, the lead singer of the school rock band Dingos Ate My Baby, who had hardly any dialogue at all other than singing when Dingos were seen performing. He ended up with a massive fanfic presence as a major character, due to the popularity of slashing him with Oz, a much more significant character who was the band's bassist.

  • Vocaloid, naturally, since there is nothing canon about the singers, besides name, voice and appearance (and sometimes not even that).
    • One story managed to bring in one of the character's creator as a separate character.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peanuts:
    • The Little Red-Haired Girl from Peanuts is an unseen character (though she made a few tantalizing non-canon appearances in television specials), and we know nothing about her personality since Charlie Brown doesn't have the guts to talk to her and, hence, really knows nothing about her himself. Any time she appears in a fanfic, she is this trope by necessity.
    • Peanuts is actually full of minor characters who get used as OC stand-ins. Of particular note are Franklin, Violet (usually Alpha Bitch, especially in stories that require Lucy to be slightly nicer and need a replacement villain), and Shermy (whose character trait in most fanfics is having no character traits at all, unless he's The Ace to Charlie Brown as he was in several early strips).

  • This trope is all over the place in Transformers. The franchise is filled with characters who only appear as toys with bio notes of varying character depth, and occasionally toys without bio notes. It has even happened in canon on a few occasions—the profile book More Than Meets The Eye required the authors to invent personalities for the Micromasters out of whole cloth, since those characters did not have individual bio notes, only bio notes for their team. The latter half of The Transformers Megaseries did this a lot, fleshing out a lot of characters who previously had little to no personality whatsoever. The big spark was likely Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers putting most of its focus on Ironfist, who had never appeared in anything and whose prior characterization consisted of "talented weapons designer."
  • The same applies to BIONICLE and its Loads and Loads of Characters, some of whom only appeared in a scene or two and barely get to be described (the author claims he is very bad at coming up with visual traits, for example). The developers of the beloved Mata Nui On-Line Game said that LEGO barely gave them the most minor of side-characters to work with, and they had to develop their personalities and culture themselves. What resulted was a game teeming with characters more memorable and charming than many of the ones that the "official guys" made up. They easily became fan favorites.
    • Fans themselves also get chances to flesh out some of the more underused characters, via official writing or art contests. In the latter, they can even design the look of the characters themselves.
  • This is pretty much the point of My Little Pony. Most ponies don't appear in adaptations and even many who do are lucky to get a single line. G1 ponies had a brief (and often bizarre) story on their backcard, whereas more modern ponies just have a sentence about them (such as "likes to write stories.") This leaves almost everyone up to interpretation.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Golden Sun has a lot of this. Sure, you have some basic personality for all members besides the mute protagonist, but the character development and interaction between the party is almost zero, every time the team talks is about the next mission or quest. That leaves a lot of open space for Fanon.
  • Pokémon:
    • Just about any fanfic that places characters from the games (Brendan, Lucas, Leaf, etc.) into the anime's continuity will make use of this principle to some extent, since most of said characters never appeared on the show outside of 3-second cameos, with Leaf never appearing at all. There's no set pattern for what personalities writers assign them, but there's usually a good chance that they will be used for Shipping somehow.
    • Likewise with game fanfics themselves. Almost no one takes into account the NPC in-game personalities of the opposite gender protagonists. Most NPCs get this treatment to various effects. Rivals and protagonists are given whatever personality, being that you really have to look into the text of the games to see any bit of personality beyond "Hot-Blooded, determined Child Prodigy".
    • Due to the fact player characters and rivals can be named by the player, fic writers can freely use any name for any of the above characters, except possibly Brendan and Lucas in the anime. For some reason, writers tend to use their own names for these characters.
    • The Generation IV Frontier Brains (other than Palmer and Caitlin, who have appeared outside the Frontier in the games) rarely appear in the anime continuity, but when they do, they are this trope.
  • Legacy of Kain:
    • Stories set in the days of the Empire often do this to Kain's Lieutenants, though Raziel himself might not qualify unless his giving his previous incarnations a believably different personality counts.
    • Likewise, stories set in the time of the Sarafan crusade might do this to the humans that will become Kain's Lieutenants.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Touhou Project has this mainly in the form of the dialogueless midbossesnote . The standouts are Daiyousei, Koakuma, and Momiji, who have managed to become fairly popular. Most of the time they remain Satellite Characters to the boss whose stage in which they appear.
    • Daiyousei and Koakuma don't even have any stated non-danmaku powers in a series where virtually everybody has a random superpower, so fans are required to make up a power for them. They didn't even have names originally, the ones used here invented entirely by the fandom (translated as "big/greater fairy" and "little devil", respectively).
    • Part of the reason for the massive doujin and fanfiction community that has arisen around the games is that, despite the Loads and Loads of Characters, only a small portion of the cast receive anything more than a brief character profile and some dialogue, and even fewer receive any form of backstory, leaving writers with enormous wriggle room. Even the two Universe Compendiums are written by Unreliable Narrators working with a lot of second- and third-hand information, and ZUN himself is notoriously unhelpful and even outright contradicts himself.
    • Rin Satsuki is also prone to this treatment, being a Dummied Out character from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. The only remaining piece of data is her name, though fans sometimes associate her with this image drawn by ZUN (later confirmed to be a random sketch which doesn't represent anyone) and a throwaway line of dialogue where Marisa refers to a nurse.
    • Despite just being someone's quick M.U.G.E.N creation, the character "Sendai Hakurei no Miko" (The Previous Hakurei Shrine Maiden) was picked up by artists and fully fleshed out as the Miko who existed so long ago everyone has forgotten her name. Depicted as a Boisterous Bruiser with Boobs of Steel, she fights without Reimu's spell card rules. As such, she ended up Covered in Scars. Also depicted as a Mama Bear, depending on the artist.
    • It's extremely easy to give this treatment to the bosses from the very first game (Highly Responsive To Prayers, for PC-98) because literally nothing aside from a name and a title is known about them. No dialogue, no backstory, nothing. Sariel is apparently an Angel of Death, and that's the extent of the canonical information we have. Konngara, meanwhile, is even more ambiguous - her title "Astral Knight" and theme "Swordsman Of A Distant Star" suggest an extraterrestrial origin, her horn resembles an oni's, her apparent lack of legs make her look like a ghost, while her name seems to reference a deity's attendant. You can do literally anything with the character and not violate any sort of canon in any way.
  • Doctor Cain usually gets this treatment in Mega Man X. Despite being a pretty important canon character in regards to the backstory, he barely gets a few lines in the games before vanishing. Most fanfic writers characterize him as a kooky old man and a father figure to X and Zero. Lots of other characters could also qualify, since the MMX games were very sparse on characterization until the later games.
    • Dr. Cain finally did receive some characterization in Day of Sigma, a tie-in OVA for Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X; the problem here lies in the fact that MHX was something of a reboot for the series, the SNES games in particular, and as such, the cast received tweaks to their characterization (some minor, some major) which may or may not be incompatible with the later titles (plans for sequels fell through when the game underperformed). That, and Cain being killed off in a missile strike on Abel City ordered by Sigma, despite original canon stating that he was alive at least until the time of X4.
    • The same can be said for the characters in Mega Man (Classic) (most non-playable Robot Masters especially), since most of them only have a small character profile to hint at their personalities.
    • Dr Regal (Dr Wily's son) is an established character in Mega Man Battle Network, but the For Want of a Nail nature of the timeline means he likely exists in the Classic universe as well, which has led to several fan interpretations.
  • The Guardian Spirit from the first Baten Kaitos game is supposed to be you, and is therefore a sort of Featureless Protagonist. Naturally, there have been several fanfics written about the this character. Unfortunately, too many of these fics end up making the Spirit a female Mary Sue with a crush on Kalas. The term "Spirit Sue" was created by the fanbase to describe this particular interpretation of the character.
    • Marno from the prequel doesn't get this to the same degree, since he has an actual role in the plot. However, he could still work for this trope, since his actual personality is never shown.
  • Half-Life:
    • The commentary on Half-Life 2 states that this is the entire point of Heroic Mime Gordon Freeman, with the player being the OC in question.
    • Resident Ensemble Darkhorse Adrian Shephard as well. All we have of his personality are a few diary entries in the Opposing Force manual which don't say much.
  • The same is true of Chell, the protagonist of Portal. The few things that we're told about her character are likely to be complete lies, so any characterisation in fanfic is made from whole cloth.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Decoy Octopus from Metal Gear Solid is one of these, especially since it's part of his job description. He literally can adopt the personality of whoever he's disguised as.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 has a whole group of these in the form of the Cobra Unit. Several fan writers/artists have done their takes on the Cobra Unit who, in the game, have a total of about three minutes on screen outside of the battles with them. They are one of the most popular topics of MGS fanfic, especially among female writers.
  • Halo:
    • The Forerunners were practically an entire species (or group of species) of OC Stand-Ins until The Forerunner Saga fully fleshed them out, jossing a whole lot of fan theories in the process.
    • The Rookie in Halo 3: ODST is this to a lesser degree, having no lines beyond grunts, no visible face (he always has his helmet on), and no identification beyond the initials "JD"; the designers claim this was intentional, to better allow the player to integrate with the character. Spartan-B312 in Halo: Reach is this even more so, with male and female voice sets, and armor customization that is persistent throughout both campaign and multiplayer; this was done for the same reasons as the Rookie. The members of Fireteam Crimson in Spartan Ops are also this, as they're literally your multiplayer characters put into the canon Halo universe.
  • The "Library Girl with a Pigtail" in Final Fantasy VIII, who crushes on Zell and seems to have his interest by the end of the game, yet who remains nameless and without any personality beyond "bookish and shy" in canon. Begs for Possession Sue treatment by any Zell fangirl.
  • The Nasuverse has several characters only mentioned in backstory that aren't very well described. Thus when these characters are used in fanworks, the trope is present. Perhaps the biggest example is Altrouge Brunestud, Arcueid's sister. We don't even know what she looks like (beyond that she looks like a fourteen year old girl), but that doesn't stop the fanart.
    • Another major one is Guinevere. She played a well-known central role in the Fate franchise's backstory, but we still don't know her personality or appearance, so fanfiction set in her time has to come up with those from scratch. However, at the pace Fate/Grand Order has been developing, any and all current fan ideas may well be jossed tomorrow morning.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Fanfiction has Oriana (Miranda's genetic twin sister) and Kolyat (Thane's son) as a relatively popular pairing, despite never meeting, or even coming close to meeting and having no connection to each other in the game besides a certain Commander intersecting with their lives. Kolyat is developed a bit better than Oriana, who never actually speaks or is interacted with until the third game.
    • Preitor Gavorn – a turian whom you only meet outside of Afterlife – is this to an extent, too. He was largely ignored by the fanbase for some time, until a video in Lair of the Shadow Broker showed him with a human male in what appears to be a bedroom. Since then, he has been given varying personalities, though most have some hints of Straight Gay in them.
    • Another popular target for an OC Stand-in is Hannah Shepard, the Player Character's mother if the spacer background is chosen. The Translation in Blood ships her with Councilor "Turian Air Quotes" Sparatus.
    • Of course, Shepard him/herself is also much of a blank slate for writers to do whatever they want, given their open-ended nature in the game.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has accrued several such characters, though since these often turn up in the comics, said personalities are often used. Nevertheless, Ray the Flying Squirrel, Mighty the Armadillo (though he's almost always put as the lost fourth member of Team Chaotix), Bean the Dynamite, and Bark the Polar Bear (often paired together, for being introduced in the same game), often end up being OC stand-ins, as do Ashura the Hedgehog, and Wechnia, Tiara Boobowski, Nazo, and Honey the Cat, though these five are very rare to see in fanfic, not that the first four show up often, original characters are far more common.
    • Sonic Forces lets the player create their own Rookie Hero. They join a resistance against the Eggman Empire and eventually rescue and work with both Modern and Classic Sonic.
  • A few shopkeeps from The World Ends with You get this treatment, and HT Masuoka in particular is a favourite of slash writers given his suggestive dialogue. Eri is the minor character who gets the most mileage by far, however, since she has a confirmed pre-existing relationship with Shiki and can be believably integrated into the main cast.
  • Kaede from .Hack://GU has absolutely no real importance in the story other than acting like Zelkova's bodyguard, although until she joins your party in the post game you have no idea what her weapon even is. The worst part is she basically vanishes in volume 1 after her appearance, yet you can still do the marriage event with her in Volume 3 despite her having absolutely no development and virtually no game time.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The tactician from the seventh game. His default name is Mark, but you can change that and his gender. He never says anything (that we hear) and is only spoken to. There are a small wealth of fanfics about him/her, and almost each one gives him a separate personality and back story.note 
    • New Mystery of the Emblem and Awakening have My Unit/Avatar, a customizable unit who actually appears in your army during gameplay. They do actually have lines, though, but their personalities (particularly that of the My Unit in New Mystery) are somewhat nondescript. Naturally, plenty of fanfics have been written around these two (more so Awakening's My Unit than New Mystery's, probably because of No Export for You).
  • The originally-intended but eventually scrapped protagonist of Psychonauts, Dartagan, appeared in the game for less than five seconds. There is a huge range of interpretations of him within various different fanfics, roleplaying accounts, and even Creepypasta.
  • Story of Seasons:
    • The player characters from the Story of Seasons series, being Heroic Mimes who's only real characterization is "friendly and hard working." Real OCs only come into the picture when fic writers want an exotic-looking character (90% of the time, female).
    • Mason is a secret bachelor in Harvest Moon DS Cute. He's never seen on-screen, can only be courted by phone, and the game ends when you marry him. He's so obscure that not even major fan-sites like FOGU mention him. All that's known about Mason is that he's the grandson of May from Friends of Mineral Town, he is shy, he likes to cook, his parents are out travelling, and he's good at sewing. A 2011 thread on FOGU forums had fans make a fan-design that essentially is a black-haired Cliff with purple clothes.
  • The Pyro of Team Fortress 2 often gets this treatment, having the least characterization of all of the classes, no backstory, or even a set gender. This practice has presumably lessened since his/her 'Meet the' short finally came out.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, the students in Hisao's class besides him, Shizune, Misha and Hanako get this treatment, as a piece of official art shows their names, club affiliations and disabilities, but nothing about their personalities or backstories.
  • Sasasha, a Chocobo raiser from Final Fantasy Tactics A2, had very litte information about them. We never met them, just heard of them. This allowed some fanfic authors like the one for The Tainted Grimoire to shape the character as they pleased.
  • Ao Oni has had a few over the various versions of the game (due to characters' roles becoming bigger, smaller, changing or being removed altogether), but Mika is the most consistent example. In the most recent version (6.23), she receives very little characterization beyond her attraction to Takuro before dying and coming back.
  • Spyro the Dragon:
    • Introducing characters from the "classic" titles into the The Legend of Spyro reboot is a popular thing. Fans figure if Spyro and Hunter, exist what's stopping characters like Bianca, Elora, or Ember from too?
    • In a more traditional way, certain characters such as Flame are barely in the games but are expanded upon by fans. Flame is often a love interest for Ember.
    • Following the release of the Reignited remake of the classic trilogy, the elder dragons from the very first game - most of whom only appear for all of ten seconds and get one or two lines at most - often appear in fanfics with greatly expanded roles and fleshed-out personalities, owing at least in part to their memorably diverse redesigns (in contrast with the borderline palette swaps they were in the original game). The Artisan dragons in particular get this a lot, with Nestor - the very first dragon most players will free, as he's literally right in front of Spyro at the beginning of the game - often depicted as the leader of the Artisans and Spyro's father-figure.
  • For the Mega Man Legends series, the Bonnes' parents show up in fics at times despite not appearing in canon.
  • Undertale:
    • The protagonist of Undertale, Frisk, is almost always portrayed as an extreme pacifist who ends up living with Toriel, the caring motherly figure. Their parents are, with few exceptions, dead, waved aside in some way, or never referred to, and sometimes their past is never even mentioned. While they may be portrayed in different ways, often sweet or funny, their overall character is usually very positive. It's common for them to have completed a Genocide Route in the past and regret their actions. To be fair, this does make sense in the regard that a vast amount of Undertale fanfiction is set after the True Pacifist ending of the game, in which they would be very kindhearted and determined. Also, the majority of players do choose to stay with Toriel at the end of the game, due to her emotional significance. However, even in works where they have chosen the Genocide Route, they are usually possessed by Chara, the first fallen human. In the game, the protagonist is a completely clean slate, with the sparse dialogue options being chosen by the player as well as any decisions to kill or spare monsters. They are genderless, and although a fair amount of fanworks keep them that way a huge number portray them as a girl. Male representations are very hard to come by, the same applying to Chara.
    • We know very little of the owners of the six colored human souls. Their weapons and armor can be picked up throughout the game, but this is all that we have in regards to discerning their personalities.
    • Several fan fictions expand on Grillby’s backstory, some making him a soldier in the war between humans and monsters. His personality varies from Deadpan Snarker to calm and controlled to a high-strung ball of anxiety. Sometimes he’s the father or uncle of fellow minor character Fuku fire. In-game, he runs a bar and has a single line of dialogue.
    • We know almost nothing of the obscure character W.D. (Presumably WingDings) Gaster. Most players will not even know he exists until referring to the internet, as he is only described or (presumably) seen in unlikely random encounters. His portrayal vastly differs within the fandom, although it is common for him to be the father of Sans and Papyrus.
  • The Splatoon series has the player characters from its various campaigns, due to them being Heroic Mimes. Fanworks generally have Agent 3 be a stoic Perpetual Frowner who is also a Closet Geek, Agent 4 as a jovial, constantly joking Bunny-Ears Lawyer, and Agent 8 continuing off her Amnesiac Hero storyline to be a curious Cephalopod Out of Water with traces of PTSD due to the Kamabo Co. experience. There's also a tendency to make Agents 3 and 4 constantly bicker, either in jest or due to some actual dislike caused by the personality clash. Finally, Agent 8 is often shown to live with either Pearl and Marina or Agent 3, despite artwork and the game itself implying that she actually becomes roommates with Agent 4.
  • Twisted Wonderland: Thanks to the fact that the game's protagonist is a blank slate, a number of fans love to turn them into someone matching their interests. Are they male, female, or nonbinary? Are they twisted from a Disney character like the rest of the cast, or wholly original? The possibilities are endless.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Ruby and Yang's Missing Mom Summer is a major character narrative-wise, but little is known about her. It's told that she was sweet and Ruby takes a lot after her, but that's all that's known.
    • Team CVFY are a large example. Originally Velvet was only supposed to appear in one scene, but her popularity amongst fans led to more cameos and an entire team being created for her. Out of her team, only Velvet and Coco have the bare minimum characterization in volume 2. Later on, the team were the stars of a book.
    • Weiss' mother is the only member of her family that doesn't appear in volume 4. Her design is known from a painting, but all that's known about her character is that she's a distant Alcoholic Parent in a bad relationship with her husband.
    • Sun and Neptune have characterization but their teammates Scarlet and Sage are bit characters.
    • Neo has only had a few scenes and she's The Speechless in all of them. She's very expressive so it's easy to tell aspects like her being a Silent Snarker that likes fighting, but her backstory and greater personality is unknown. Her relationship with Roman is especially vague, resulting in fans depicting them as being anywhere from Like Brother and Sister, being father and daughter (biological or adopted), or being lovers.
    • Melanie and Militia are Tag Team Twins who only appear in the "Yellow" trailer and a single episode as a cameo. The only thing clear about them is that they speak like Valley Girls. Their mother is later confirmed to be another bit character.

    Web Comics 
  • The Midnight Crew Intermission of Homestuck brought us The Felt, a 17-man mafia group, only three of whom (Snowman, Doc Scratch and Lord English) got substantial characterization to be clearly defined as characters. The remaining fourteen, all from a species known as leprechauns, ALL get this treatment, as only their powers and maybe a single moment of funny is supposed to encompass their characterization. The only exceptions are Clover, whose appearances manage to characterize him as a fusion between The Riddler and the Clock King, which is still a fairly open characterization, and Crowbar, The Smart Guy among the leprechauns who somehow makes the entire team competent and who has a Paradox Space comic of his own.
    • Until Act 6 Intermission 5, two of the Felt only appeared posthumously, and all that was known about them previously were their names and faces (of course, they still got no characterization at all when they showed up). While their appearances in fanfiction increased once they made an appearance in the story, there still were examples of people using them for as OC Stand-ins before anything was known about them.
    • The Post-Scratch Ancestors were intentionally written like this so that fanfic writers could have access to a more 'serious' Alternian setting than the setting of the modern trolls. Other than their basic appearance, most important actions, some of their Shipping proclivities and a bit of the personality of one of them (Mindfang, a sexy pirate and rather a bad writer), we know very little about what they are like. This is lampshaded in comic where Hussie refers to Doc Scratch's exposition on them as fanfiction (and, given that they are trolls, troll fanfiction).
  • Quill-Weave in Prequel. As par the course in the source material, she's given the slightest hint of a personality and features in the very first fighters' guild quest. She's much more fully fleshed out in the comic, especially through the scenes from her POV.
    • The same goes for Sigrid, who in Oblivion is a survivor of Kvatch who sells potions. Since the comic takes place before the events of Oblivion, she's made the head of the Mage's Guild in Kvatch and her unusually high Mercantile stat is explained as her being especially beautiful and charming (as well as using some artificial enhancements like Enchantments and Alchemy, mechanics that are known to be Game Breakers in the series).
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The Distant Prologue takes place ninety years before the main story, and its characters are the ancestors of the main characters. The familial relationships between prologue characters and main story characters are shown to range from parent and child to great-grandparent and great-grandchild in the official family tree. Fics that explore what happened during the Time Skip will hence frequently focus on a member of the intermediate generations who have Unknown Character status in the comic itself.
  • Klonoa: Dream Crusaders:
    • In the games, Claire the Ancient is an unseen deity who is worshipped, but doesn't play a direct role in the story. This comic has her appear in person as a Greater-Scope Villain.
    • Although Tenebrae Hue was the main antagonist of the original comic, he seemed like a Generic Doomsday Villain due to the comic being cancelled before we could learn much about him. This comic gives him more personality and motivation.

    Western Animation 
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures fanfiction, especially the group of fics known as Project Dark Jade (Queen of All Oni and Queen of Shadows are prominent), this is common for the Oni Generals minus Ikazuki. They aren't even named in canon! The Queen of the Shadowkhan, Jade's Superpowered Evil Side that appeared in one episode also sometimes gets this as well, albeit to a lesser extent unless the story is very AU.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Until episodes such as "Isabella and the Temple of Sap", the Fireside Girls had close to no lines and no characterization, other than Gretchen, who even then only spoke once or twice. Especially Gretchen, who in fanon is often paired with Ferb, apparently just because she's the first girl his age (other than Isabella) to get a name.
    • Django counts as well. He's been used a lot more by fans than in the canon series.
  • Total Drama:
    • Ezekiel gets this fairly often. He got very little development because he was the first character to get voted off in both seasons he participated in. The Total Drama Comeback Series is often credited with popularizing this for him, since many of his characterizations in fanfics borrow traits of his depiction in that series.
    • Katie and Sadie also get this, since in canon aside from their co-dependency they have very little that separates them from the more developed and funnier Lindsay.
    • One episode of All-Stars features Scott mentioning his sister, a pig-calling champion named Alberta (who apparently prefers to go by Al). It's become increasingly common among TD fanfiction writers to give Al a full-blown personality and develop her relationship with Scott.
    • B also sometimes get this treatment. Mostly due to his cool inventions and the fact that he never talks.
    • Beardo also gets this treatment occasionally. Despite being the first voted off in his only appearing season, he is often given larger roles in fanfics and tends to speak more frequently in them (while still keeping his signature vocal abilities).
  • Invader Zim:
    • In canon, Gretchen was strongly hinted to have a crush on Dib in one episode. The pairing is not widely popular (despite being the only romance in an otherwise No Hugging, No Kissing series), but even those who don't use her as a main character often elevate her to "Most Important Random Skoolkid" or mention her and Dib's "romance" in passing.
    • Another commonly used character is Invader Tenn; she only shows up in two scenes in one episode, and it was planned for her to return in the never developed series finale. Because of this, she is very often often used whenever a writer wants or needs to use an Irken outside the ones with more screen time (Zim, the Tallest, Tak, Skoodge). Of course, most of the stories she shows up in are based on (or are outright fan versions) of the aforementioned finale.
    • Zita is another victim to this. While a girl with her looks is common to see in the episodes, all we know about her is that she considers Dib to be crazy and, unlike other students, is respected by Ms. Bitters and have the most moments of sympathy ofr Zim. Nevertheless, people throw even this minor canon out of the window and pair her up with Dib.
  • The Metalocalypse fandom has Klokateers. In the show, they're several legions of hooded, uniformed, fanatically loyal employees of the Dethklok company who rarely have lines and are referred to by number rather than name. Because of the extremely stringent entrance exam and its 50+% mortality rate, the recruits who survive to become Klokateers are extremely exceptional specimens, physically and intellectually. This makes them ripe for this trope. There are a few who have risen to prominence, mostly through slash fandom.
  • Daria fandom is pretty notorious for this, largely due to the fact that the show has scads of random recurring backgrounders who never do anything and yet have extremely distinctive character designs (a result of them all being based on real people who worked at MTV at the time). Because the fandom is relatively close-knit, the characterizations of many backgrounders have actually become pretty standardized. Burnout Girl is almost always involved with drugs, that blond from The Invitation is named Tori Jericho & was president of the Fashion Club before Sandi, etc.
  • This is common in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic community, due to the prevalence of Ensemble Darkponies:
    • Special mention goes to Princess Luna. When she first appeared, she had somewhat of a vague characterization, but she had barely any screen time or lines (excluding her Superpowered Evil Side Nightmare Moon). She then proceeded to vanish from the show for the rest of the first season. This prompted not only heavy speculation about her character (typically interpreted as a Shrinking Violet desperately trying to adapt to a world that's changed in the 1000 years she was gone) but also about what she was doing now (an oddly popular hypothesis had it that she was being politically repressed by her evil power-hungry sister, Princess Celestia). When she finally appeared in Season 2, she left this trope behind by simultaneously confirming AND contradicting nearly every fan depiction of her.
    • As she's still a baby, Princess Flurry Heart has been subject to all manner of interpretations to what her character would be when older, be it aloof, Nice Girl, Spoiled Brat, Spoiled Sweet, The Ace, Broken Ace, villain, or any combination.
    • Because of the huge Periphery Demographic that follows this show, many of the background characters have Word Of Dante Style personalities that are almost universally followed. Even before the episode "Slice of Life", Equestria Girls, and the comic series more or less made many of these personalities canon, it was strange to see Octavia as anything other than a cultured, sophisticated character with a British accent or Vinyl Scratch as being a wild unpredictable party animal, and the duo would always be depicted as at least friendly rivals and at most lovers. Keep in mind that these characterizations were put in place as early as the show's second season, at a point where these two characters had no lines and no interactions whatsoever on the show, never even appeared in the same episodes, and wouldn't for another three seasons.note  They're only two examples: almost every background character ever has been given a back story and a characterization by the fans, and some are popular enough that it is considered Fandom Heresy to go against them. The most prominent are Lyra, Bon Bon, Vinyl Scratch, Octavia, Derpy Hooves/Muffins, Golden Harvest, Time Turner/Doctor Hooves, Colgate, Berry Punch, and Caramel. One particularly infamous example, aside from Derpy, is Button Mash, who literally had only a second of screen-time before someone made a five-minute animated short about the character and his mother, which in turn inspired even more fanworks about them.
  • This is common with the other series in the My Little Pony franchise too. There are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of toy characters that either didn't pop up in the cartoon adaptations or didn't get much screen-time at all (many didn't even speak). Thus people make up whatever personality they want, especially in later gens where few characters actually have real backstories anymore. Word of God states that this is how the personalities of Friendship is Magic's Mane Six were conceived, with them coming from the stories she made up with G1 toys as a kid.
  • Ursa, Zuko and Azula's Missing Mom, from Avatar: The Last Airbender. She's of no small importance to the plot, given that she killed Azulon to save Zuko's life, but her only scenes are in Zuko's flashbacks and Azula's hallucinations. Fans had a field day discussing how accurate either of those are and what she was actually like. It doesn't help that the lack of a family reunion was the series' biggest unresolved plot thread. She was eventually expanded upon in the comics released post-series, though not without significant controversy.
  • In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, another lady in the family gets this treatment, Zuko's unnamed, unseen granddaughter. In the commentary for the fourth season, the writers confirmed that Fire Lord Izumi (Zuko's daughter) was supposed to have a bigger role in the story but they got an episode cut out of the budget at the last minute and she just didn't have a place in an Earth Kingdom based story. She was going to spend more time in Republic City and her daughter was going to come with her. They even toyed with the idea of making her Mako's Love Interest but decided they didn't want to put him in another relationship. They even told people to write fanfic about it and now unnamed Fire Nation Princess (usually named "Ursa" as a Dead Guy Junior Family Theme Naming with her brother Iroh) is Mako's standard love interest in fanworks even though no one knows anything about her.
  • Danny Phantom: Given there are several students at Casper High who don't even have names, there are many characters the Phandom likes to use in place of standard original characters.
    • None are as so popular as Star, or Star "Satellite" as the fandom has named her. She has some lines and establishing character moments, but in general the series portrays her as the blonde girl who hangs around Paulina. Naturally, fanfic authors have a ball giving her Hidden Depths, usually making her a love interest for Danny.
    • Wes Weston is the name given to a background character who only appeared in "Shades of Gray". He was given the name based on a Running Gag from another episode, and characterized as being the only person in Amity Park to realize that Danny Fenton is Danny Phantom. Stories with the character have him frustrated that people not only don't believe him, but think he's the ghost kid instead. He is now considered the Phandom's group Original Character.
      • The Phandom also gave Wes a family in the form of two other minor characters: a brother named Kyle (who also knows Danny's secret identity, but doesn't believe that ghosts exist and (depending on the writer) buys into several other "doesn't exist" conspiracy theories) and a father named Walter (the guy who wishes for wealth in "What You Want", generally depicted as working for Vlad Masters and desiring more cash).
  • Take Care Bear is an unusual case. Her author created Take Care Bear as a custom bear, not one of the canon Care Bears, then inserted her into the world of the 1980s cartoon. This bear is a medical doctor, and her tummy symbol is an apple. Few fans knew that an official bear had the same name. Take Care Bear is a One-Shot Character in The Care Bears And The Big Sneeze, an obscure coloring book from 1987. This bear is a medical doctor, and her tummy symbol is an apple. (The 2004 toy line launched a new version of Take Care Bear.)

    The similarity might be coincidence: "take care" is an idiom, and there is a proverb, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." So it is plausible that the fan author, not aware of the coloring book, created a custom bear with the same name, job, and tummy symbol. The coloring-book bear has brown fur, but the fan-fiction bear has red fur. Fans may conflate two into one. Therefore, the fan-fiction Take Care Bear is an OC Stand-in for the coloring-book bear.
  • Part of the South Park fandom will utilize this trope on minor classmates in the 4th grade class. Red was a popular choice in early years, as she was the only one of the girls to have had no lines or discernable personality – up until season 6 and on. Kevin Stoley is the usual favorite these days, with fans attempting to give him an entire backstory beyond being the Star Trek/Star Wars geek and theorizing at length about his relationships and family.
  • In the later seasons of The Raccoons, an unnamed little raccoon girl made several silent cameos, and got one speaking role in 'Endless Summer', where we briefly see her talking with Bentley. She has seen use by many fan-fiction writers, usually giving her the name Annie Ringtail (with some writers naming her Penny). A great deal of these fan-fictions depict her as a love interest for Bentley, though how he returns the affection (if at all) varies by writer.
  • X-Men: Evolution:
    • This show is an unusual case, as it's not so much characters from the show who are stand-ins, but the characters not featured. Due to the series tweaking some personalities to make them teenagers (some who all they share with their original versions being their names and some don't even get their real names, just their old codenames), a lot of characters from the comics that the show was based on work as these. Want a female British X-Man? Covered, Betsy Braddock/Psylocke will work. Want a male British one? Pete Wisdom. Want a team genius? Cypher. Want a character with a Dark and Troubled Past? Its X-Men, anyone would fit that.
    • Dani Moonstar and some of the New Recruits serve as this as well. As Dani only appeared in one episode, not much of her personality was fleshed out, and as such can serve as any personality type they want. Roberto only got a bit of characterization: A slightly egotistical 'jock' type, while Rahne got a snarky playful personality, both from just one episode, after that, they get no lines other than background appearances.
  • Charlene from Alvin and the Chipmunks is presumed to be a prototypical version of Brittany. She only only officially appeared in one song (though an unnamed chipmunk in several later music videos looks like her). Nothing is known about her in canon besides she liked Alvin (and Alvin liked her back). She frequently appears in fan-works nevertheless.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • The original "pilot" short for the series had a character named Félix (or Felix) as Chat Noir; though he superficially resembles Adrien, including having a Two Person Love Square with Marinette, he was much less friendly toward her. Word of God says he wasn't working, so they scrapped him and made Adrien instead. In fanfic, however, don't be surprised if Félix shows up as Adrien's Aloof Big Brother or Polar Opposite Twin, who may have been the previous Chat Noir or currently be splitting duties with him.
    • Similarly, the slightly-different design of Marinette is sometimes made into a whole new person named Bridgitte/Bridgette, who may be Marinette's sister or cousin.
    • There’s also the other young superheroes (Melodie, Mercury, Kid Mime, and Sparrow) that ended up being scrapped when the creators decided to just have Ladybug and Chat Noir be a duo. Fanfic writers have a ball coming up with personalities for them and guessing what sort of bonds they would have with Bridgette and Felix.
  • Gravity Falls has a few notable examples:
    • Tad Strange, before he actually appeared, his Punny Name, voice actor, and comments about him being "a real square" led to the fan theory that he would be a second dream demon similar to the triangular Bill Cipher. Fans doubled down on this when the creator, known for his Trolling Creator status, tried to warn them that they were making a big deal out of nothing. The warning proved to be true however, when it turned out he was a one-off joke about a Ridiculously Average Guy with an Ironic Name. Demon!Tad still shows up in fanfic sometimes, occasionally under the new name Dot Matrix, and may be combined with the canon version.
    • Jimmy Snakes, a character from an unused episode mentioned by Alex Hirsch on Twitter. He was supposed to be a former friend of Stan who had become a Ghost Rider-like entity, and a concept drawing showed him spitting in Stan's direction. Popular fanon diverges on his portrayal; he's frequently an Old Flame of Stan's, but whether he's abusive or simply rough around the edges depends on the author.
  • Lydia from Milo Murphy's Law, about whom we know little except that she's a friend of Amanda and (to a lesser extent) Melissa. She seems like a nice kid, which makes her ideal ship fodder.
  • Maiden Goldenwaves and Maiden Mistycurls were never featured in the Lady Lovely Locks cartoon. Their only known backstory is that Goldenwaves lives on the Enchanted Island while Mistycurls visited it looking for the Sea Pixietails, the Sea Pixietails can turn them both into mermaids, and Lady and the other maidens discovered the island with the help of the Hide 'n' Peeks. Much of this backstory is only related in the toyline's press kit, and their personalities remain a mystery.
  • Stacey, Larry's girlfriend from Life With Loopy is this for the shows fans, being an Ensemble Darkhorse who appeared for less than a minute at the end of her only episode (which also happened to be one of the last few episodes), leading her to not evolve past a Satellite Love Interest in canon. With fans, she's often depicted as being nerdy, a bit awkward but better adjusted compared to Larry, and often the "middle ground" between Loopy's idealism and Larry's cynicism.
  • In Steven Universe, many of the Gems are foreshadowed by an off-handed mention or an Early-Bird Cameo. However, as of the finale of Steven Universe: Future, some of them ended up never making a proper appearance, allowing fans to fill in the blanks themselves.
    • Of particular note is Morganite, the former owner of Rhodonite's components, who discarded and replaced them after seeing them fuse. Outside of that and being most likely a pink Gem with a chest placement and most likely under Pink Diamond's Court, that's all we know about her. Many speculated that the Gem in the teaser for Steven Universe: The Movie is Morganite, or at least of the same type, due to the same Gem placement and color, but she turned out to be a completely different character named "Spinel".
    • The Citrines. Mentioned off-handedly in "Lars Of The Stars". They are Quartzes, they are yellow, they work for Emerald. That's all we know about them, everything else is up to the fans.
    • While most of the former Crystal Gem characters (such as Crazy Lace, Biggs, Snowflake and Little Larimar) do make an appearance late in the series, others (like Tiger's Eye, Beryl and Serpentine) never appear in person. Though many assume that Tiger's Eye is Crazy Lace's eye component, and the others are confirmed to be alive since they are bubbled and presumably corrupted, which is a non-issue in the current timeline.
    • In fact, many of the uncorrupted Gems qualify, since their characterization doesn't go far beyond being background decoration. Even the corrupted Gems qualify, due to their interesting designs and people love speculating just who they were before The Corruption.


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