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Recurring Fanon Character

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A character created by a fan that becomes popular enough with the rest of the community to be used in other fan works. This may be an Original Character who really took off, or a character who emerged from general discussion within the fan community rather than any single fanwork. Some of these characters may receive the occasional Fandom Nod from the higher-ups, or even become actual characters in official works.

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How are these characters born?

  • Urban Legend of Zelda or Pop Culture Urban Legends; these characters are created by false rumors; Herobrine originated as a rumor for the game Minecraft as a mob that would covertly follow the player and mess with their world. Even after Herobrine's creator said it was fake, Herobrine is still a popular character within the Minecraft community and is frequently referenced by Mojang.
  • The Missingno.; due to the enigmatic and uncanny nature of glitches in video games, the glitches may inspire the creations of characters, especially in creepypasta. An example is Missigno from Pokémon Red and Blue, who is nothing but a code error in the game, yet fans treat it as an Eldritch Abomination.
  • A silly observation; what is otherwise a normal-looking picture ends up becoming another thing entirely, and it catches on. In Sonic Mania, a sprite of an upside down Doctor Eggman in a spider robot looked like a different character, which led to creation of the character Omelette.
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  • A community joke; a fandom In-Joke that led to the character becoming popular for the punchline, or for fuzzy feelings.
  • An Adapted Out reinterpretation; a character from the main work doesn't appear in an adaptation, so someone creates a fanwork involving them. This interpretation of the character becomes popular and is used in subsequent works based off the adaptation. Note that this is for a specific interpretation of the character; if the character appears in multiple fanworks based on the adaptation, but each has their own version of the character, it's not this trope.

See also Recursive Fanfiction and Memetic Mutation. Compare Fanon, when canon characters are given recurring interpretations by fandom, and O.C. Stand-in, where a canon character who's a blank slate is given characterization by the fanwork. If a character or idea becomes part of the official work, it turns into Ascended Fanon.

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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball has Xicor, a fanmade character based on the rumors of the infamous hoax Dragon Ball AF, that became popular enough that Toyble adapted him for his doujinshi of Dragon Ball AF, and still used in some fan works to this day. He is usually Goku's third son, an evil clone of him.
  • Ashley from Pokémon was initially just Ash Disguised in Drag to get into a gym that he'd been banned from. That hasn't stopped some people from making Ashley a separate character on her own, ranging from an alternate universe counterpart to a Genderbent Ash.

    Comic Books 
  • The DC Comics fandom has Hope Corgi, an animal sidekick of the Blue Lanterns who wields one of their rings, powered by hope. He inspires a sense of calm in all those he meets, and to the people he appears before, he resembles their childhood dog. He is meant to be a Good Counterpart of Dex-Starr, the Earth cat member of the Red Lanterns.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King:
    • The Lion King fandom has Tanabi, the name used for Simba and Nala's son that was popularized in the fanfiction Chronicles Of The Pride Lands, written before the release of the sequel, which showed the cub at the end to be a daughter instead. He went on to be used in many more fan-fictions despite the sequel, due to inconsistencies between the depiction of the cub presented at the end of the first movie and baby Kiara's presentation in the second, often shown to be a lost, killed, or kidnapped son who might later return, but gradually fell out of favor as more people found out about Kopa, the son of Simba and Nala who actually appeared in Expanded Universe books The Lion King: Six New Adventures, though some people just included them both. This also isn't getting into the much later advent of Kion.
    • The Lion King: Kiara's Reign popularized Koda, Leah, and Asha as Kiara and Kovu's children.
    • Fan-artist Savu0211 is the creator of several popular fan-characters, including Azra, a Scar/Zira fan-child, and Baridi.
    • Kuzimu and Azola are two popular fan-characters meant to be Zira's parents, to the point where they're mistaken for canon by some fans. Azola is a blue-eyed, lighter-furred Zira, while her mate Kuzimu is a dark-furred lion. Azola is a sweet Good Parent and Kuzimu is a cruel Abusive Parent, who is frequently depicted as having killed Azola.
    • Timira is a lioness cub that's supposedly from an early draft of the second film. According to one website, Timira was the Love Interest to Simba's cut son Chaka and was in an Arranged Marriage to him. The quotes have never been properly sourced and are most likely someone's fan ideas passing as official; despite the source likely being fake, Timira has caught on and Chaka/Timira is a semi-common Beta Couple to Kiara/Kovu.
  • The Sword in the Stone: The film is somewhat notable for the scene in which a female squirrel, who had fallen in love with Wart in his squirrel form, becomes heartbroken when she discovers he's really a human. Feeling sorry for her, someone wrote a fanfic in which Wart convinces Merlin to turn her into a human and help her adjust to her new life. The character, often called Hazel, is pretty popular in fan works.
  • Zootopia: Jack Savage and Skye Winters are a male rabbit and arctic vixen taken from some unused concept art and inserted into many Zootopia fanfics. Usually they act as gender-flipped counterparts for the Fan-Preferred Couple of Judy and Nick or as decoy love interests for one or both of them.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • It's very common in Harry Potter Next Gen Fics to have a minor character named after Colin Creevey, with the implicit understanding that his father is Colin's brother, Dennis.
  • Within the old-school prose Sherlock Holmes fandom, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes have an eldest brother named Sherrinford, never mentioned in Conan Doyle canon because he stays on his country estate. He came about because of implications that Sherlock comes from the landed gentry, which means in Victorian social terms that as well as Sherlock and Mycroft there must be a third eldest brother who inherited the family landholding. The name "Sherrinford" comes from Doyle's reported first name for Sherlock in early drafts. This is well-known enough to get a Meta Twist in the fourth season of Sherlock, in which a "Sherrinford" is mentioned but turns out not to be a third Holmes sibling or a person at all.
  • Amongst Warrior Cats, the Troll Fic StarKitsProphcy is well-known. Stargleam, the story's notorious Mary Sue protagonist, appears in many other fan-works.

    Live Action Television 
  • After the first season of Sherlock aired, the fandom speculated about who Jim Moriarty's associates might be, and came up with a modernized version of Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's second-in-command in the original Sherlock Holmes stories who appeared in numerous Sherlock fanfics. A minor villain named "Moran" eventually appeared in "The Empty Hearse", but has nothing in common with the Conan Doyle character, and the show's version of Mary Morstan ends up being a Composite Character of Moran, her Conan Doyle original, and the unnamed woman who killed Charles Augustus Milverton.

    Multi-Media 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has several popular characters created on the /tg/ board:
    • Cultist-chan is a character created by gender-flipping a Dawn of War Chaos Cultist into a Moe girl, keeping the weird voice but otherwise making her adorable.
    • The Angry Marines are an entire semi-parodic Chapter of Imperium of Man Space Marines themed on Unstoppable Rage (their motto is "ALWAYS ANGRY, ALL THE TIME"), who even had fanrules made for the tabletop game.
    • Several characters birthed from the /tg/ boards were later immortalized via a single reference in canon books, such as Adept Grendel, a non-combat character from a group of fans' Dark Heresy game who nevertheless managed to pull off some ridiculously lucky rolls to slay several giant monsters, LIIVII, a Vindicare sniper from a fanfic who fell in love with an Eldar, and Commissar Sterne, a commissar who uses Car Fu against all enemies regardless of how appropriate the vehicle is to ramming.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE has Voriki, the Toa of Energy. Originally created as part of a fan contest, Voriki was never actually accepted into canon, unlike numerous other characters. Despite this, Voriki is still remembered by the fanbase, and often finds his way into fanfics.

    Video Games 
  • Club Penguin:
    • On Deviantart, there's Daina Sam DJ, a yellow penguin with red hair who is the daughter of Cadence and Franky. Whenever the two are drawn as a family with their child, chances are that child is Daina. In rarer cases, they may have another daughter named Cadencita, who just looks like a smaller version of her mother with wings and is the older sister of Daina.
    • Also on Deviantart, Bubbles. She's a light blue penguin with long brown hair who is used as G Billy's love interest. After Petey K, she's the most popular love interest for him.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Originally a hoax regarding a "secret character", Sparky the Dog became a popular "secret" character among fans. He even received something akin to Ascended Fanon when series creator Scott Cawthon included a dog animatronic named Fetch in the tie-in book series Fazbear Frights.
  • Roxel, a fan child of both Roxas and Axel from the Kingdom Hearts series, has a surprising amount of fanart from multiple artists. No one's quite sure where he came from or who created him, though.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • BEN, a creepy, supernatural doppelganger of Link that originated from the Ben Drowned Creepypasta, has become a recurring supernatural villain in The Legend of Zelda fanworks, even having its own video games and legends.
    • The Patchwork Fic fan-comic A Tale of Two Rulers spawned various popular Zelda/Ganondorf children, including Covarog, Ralnor, and Orana. Sometimes their half-sister Rinku is included, though that depends on if the work has it's own version of Link or not.
  • Minecraft:
    • Herobrine began as a Creepypasta fan character, but soon rose in popularity to become one of the most recognizable villainous icons of the game, despite never actually being in it. Countless fanfictions, mods, music videos, parodies, fan books, and the like have featured Herobrine as a recurring villain. Additionally, Herobrine became something akin to Ascended Fanon when Mojang included references to the character in the game, such as adding "Removed Herobrine" to patch notes, referencing him in the console edition trivia facts, and even sneaking him into some promotional material for Minecon 2011.
    • Entity 303, also referred to as "The New Herobrine", was another popular Creepypasta fan villain that was meant to be regarded as even more powerful and evil than its predecessor. While Entity 303 never reached the same popularity as Herobrine, it was still featured prominently in fanfictions, videos, and mods.
    • Humanized versions of the Minecraft mobs, usually portrayed as scantily clad Animesque girls, have become quite popular in fanart, music videos, and mods, especially the Creeper, who is portrayed as a small, cute blonde girl in a green hoodie and leggings.
  • Back in the really early days of the Pikmin series, the fanbase on the IGN board had several characters that originated from fanfics that would not only appear in others fics, but also in several Play-by-Post game threads. The most notable of these was "Blacknight", a villain character originating from this Script Fic who quickly became the go-to villain for most stories on the board; and an Anti-Hero in some others.
  • Pokémon: Missing No. and ?????????? were a pair of glitches that occurred in Pokemon Red and Blue when data was mixed or corrupted, causing a sprite of jumbled pixels and Normal attack moves. This gave rise to the popularity of the fan-nicknamed "Glitch Type" Pokemon, with Missing No. and ?????????? becoming the most popular of these and appearing in several Pokemon fanfictions and Creepypasta.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • From Sonic the Hedgehog 2, there is an infamous glitch that would turn the titular hedgehog green with a black mark on his face. The character, nicknamed Ashura by fans, would become popular enough to receive some fan works with him acting as an Evil Counterpart of Sonic, and eventually inspired Ian Flynn to turn Anti-Sonic into a green hedgehog named Scourge in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog.
    • Omelette, also known as Eggette, was created after someone noticed an upside down sprite of Eggman during the Flying Battery boss fight in Sonic Mania looked like someone else entirely. The character became popular with the fanbase and is commonly regarded as Eggman's niece or daughter, and is used in notable fanworks such as Sonic Legacy and the eighth season of Sonic for Hire. She even has a cameo in Sonic X Reanimated.
    • X, also known as Sonic.EXE, is a vile demon that takes on the appearance of/possesses Sonic. This character, originating from its own story, has since had multiple fan video game adaptations, and has frequently been pitted against Sonic himself in fanfictions and videos.
    • Maria the Hedgehog was created by fans and is often mistaken for canon. Though she's usually depicted as Maria reborn as a hedgehog, some depict her as a clone.
  • Street Fighter: In Street Fighter II, one of Ryu's winquotes states "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance!". Players immediately began to speculate who Sheng Long was, and it eventually became rumored that Sheng Long was the name of Ryu and Ken's unseen master. Electronic Gaming Monthly seized on this idea and launched an April Fools' issue in which they gave a detailed (and false) description of the absurdly difficult and convoluted way to unlock Sheng Long as a boss. But there was no Sheng Long; Ryu was telling his opponent that to stand a chance, they had to overcome "Sheng Long", which is a translation error for his "Dragon Punch". But Capcom liked the idea so much that they later introduced Akuma for Super Street Fighter II Turbo. This did not end fan rumors or fanon about Sheng Long, however, and EGM again posted another April Fools' prank for Street Fighter III. Years later, for Street Fighter IV, Capcom finally introduced Ryu and Ken's real master, Akuma's brother Gouken, who had almost all of the abilities that EGM had once claimed Sheng Long had, stated "You must defeat ME to stand a chance!", and had "aka Sheng Long" as one of his equippable titles just to put the issue to bed. Despite all of that, though, Sheng Long is still a popular fanon character and occasionally reappears as an Alter Ego of Gouken, a third brother to himself and Akuma, or a forgotten student who trained alongside them, amongst others.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Bowsette came about as a result of fans speculating what the Big Bad Bowser would look like under the effects of the Super Crown from New Super Mario Bros. U, which in canon turns Toadette, and only her, into a human resembling Princess Peach, granting her the ability to double jump and glide. The trend started in 2018 when an artist on Twitter put out this fancomic based on the ending of Super Mario Odyssey. Ever since, fans of the idea have been pumping out artwork and even cosplays of their own take on the Peachified koopa king with varying degrees of human and koopa traits as well as her hair color varying from blonde (to better resemble Peach) to red (to stay truer to Bowser). Bowsette inspired countless fan works, including Bowsette Saga, an appearance in New Super Mario in 2 Minutes, and numerous NSFW works. She became incredibly popular, to the point Nintendo had to offer a "no comment" about it, but made clear the character could never happen.
  • Red, an additional humanoid member of the Royal Guard from the Undertale fangame Undertale Red, is perhaps one of the most well known OCs in the entire fandom. She frequently appears in fancomics, and the development team of another well-known fangame, Undertale Yellow, hinted she'll have a cameo in the complete version of the game.

    Western Animation 
  • The Danny Phantom fandom has Wes Weston, an OC made from a lanky background character that looked a lot like Danny. Fandom makes it so Wes is Amity Park's consideration for Danny Phantom's civilian Secret Identity instead of Fenton, which drives Wes crazy—not helped sometimes by Fenton making fun of Weston's inability to show everyone the truth.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Many of the characters in the Fan Verse Reverse Falls AU, a particularly popular Alternate Timeline setting for the series in which many characters swap roles and personalities, appear in several fanfics and stories; the most notable are the swaps for the show's protagonists, Dipper and Mabel Gleeful, who are used in most Alternate Universe stories even when the Reverse Falls representation is otherwise pretty minor.
    • While Bill Cipher is a canon character, two versions of him are commonly used in fanwork, sometimes even overshadowing the original: There's Bipper, a.k.a. Bill after pulling a Grand Theft Me on Dipper, who in canon is just that, with his name being a simple one-off joke made by Mabel. The fandom frequently uses this character as a separate entity from Dipper, usually one of Bill's forms, or seperate him from Bill outright. The other is Human!Bill, and while humanization and Self-Fanservice is something that happens frequently in other fandoms, it happens to Bill often enough that his human form could be considered a seperate character outright, with a deliberately more sympathetic portrayal for the fangirls.
    • Another character who took off in an unusual way is Tad Strange, after a character with that name was said to be voiced by Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Night Vale fame. Due to his unusual name and comments by Teasing Creator Alex Hirsch note , plenty of people immediately built a connection between this character and Bill, portraying him as a square-shaped, purple Dream Demon, with a bowler hat, a tie, an umbrella and a goat pupil, directly contrasting Bill. He's usually portrayed as Bill's brother, though the depiction varies if they are Cain and Abel or a Sibling Team, and if "Tad" is more sympathetic or not. However, the character became less used after it was cleared up that the character with that name was simply an extreme case of The Generic Guy. Some still use the character under the name "Dot Matrix" or outright combine him with the canon Tad Strange, by saying that "Tad" is actually his disguise or puppet.
    • Another character who was quite popular to use in fanfic is "Lebam", Mabel's "secret second twin", who came from a surprisingly popular theory after someone noticed an animation error in the episode "The Deep End", where Mabel's name was written backwards for whatever reason. With a show that's practically a plantation for Epileptic Trees, many took this simple error to be a hidden clue about a doppelganger of Mabel. What makes this especially egregious is that it actually makes sense, given that "Double Dipper" introduced a copier that can create imperfect duplicates of human beings, so it isn't too farfetched to think that someone like Mabel would duplicate herself out of boredom. Most stories surrounding her also feature Dipper's clone "Tyrone" and Sev'ral Timez, as well as other original clone characters, to give An Aesop about why Clones Are People, Too.
  • In the Kim Possible fic A Small Possibility, Shego and Kim have twins named Sheki and Kasy. Following the fic's publication, the two are the go-to kids used in many Kid Fics and Next Gen Fics involving the paring.
  • In The Loud House, there is a popular community with a wide variety of fanart and fanfiction involving the "Sin Kids", children Lincoln had with his sisters. While they have set names, designs, and some personality traits, everything else varies from person to person, as the creators of the AU encourage everyone to roll with their own ideas for them.
  • E-vay, well known for her Sonic Boom fanart and comics, created a fan child for Sonic and Amy named "Aurora". She's popular among Sonamy fans and gets many fanworks in turn based on her, including fan games.
  • In the earliest days of the Sonic internet fanbase, the characters Brookshire Draftwood, a raccoon doctor, and Packbell, a humanoid robot, showed up in quite a few fanfictions from different writers; one would be forgiven for thinking they were canon characters somehow linked to Sonic Sat AM. In actuality they were both the creations of uber-fan David Pistone.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • Phineas and Ferb: The go-to children for Next Gen Fics are Marie Flynn-Garcia-Shapiro, the daughter of Phineas and Isabella, and Thomas Fletcher, the son of Ferb and Vanessa. The two are frequently shipped with each other since their parents aren't blood siblings, and even have the ship Portmanteau Couple Name "Thomarie".
  • The Daria fandom has a few, aside from its many O.C. Stand-ins:
    • Danielle Todds is an attractive girl used as a Love Interest for Quinn whenever someone doesn't want to pair her with someone in the Fashion Club.
    • Veronica Morgendorffer was created for a mini-fic with the premise that Daria wakes up to find a third Morgendorffer sister, who looks like Quinn but with Daria's glasses and personality. Everyone acts like she's always been there, leaving Daria confused what's going on. Some stories use her seriously, others just make a Running Gag that Daria is constantly forgetting that she exists.
    • "Judith" and "NegaJane" are evil versions of Daria and Jane who go to multiple universes and kill their local counterparts.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • In the original pilot short, Cat Noir was a boy named Félix; he was scrapped and replaced with Adrien when the show began actual production as the creator decided Félix was too cliché and unpleasant. Fans still loved him either way, and in fanfic, Félix often appears as Adrien's older/twin brother, who may have been his predecessor as Cat Noir or is even sharing the role with him. Félix's continual popularity eventually got him an appearance in the show, in which he's Adrien's cousin but in no way a Cat Noir.
    • To go with Félix, fans created Bridgitte, who is supposedly Marinette's counterpart from the pilot short. In reality "Bridgitte" is just Marinette with a slightly different design, but as with Félix, fanfic often makes her and Marinette siblings.

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