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Recursive Fanfiction

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"I'm a huge fan of The Hunger Games, but I have become an even bigger fan of Hunger Games fan fiction. When I go back and read Suzanne Collins's original novels, I imagine the world and the characters created on this platform. This story is a tribute (pun unintended but appreciated) to some of these stories."

Fanfiction is a popular medium, and thanks to the nature of Sturgeon's Law, some of it can indeed be quite good to read.


And some of that fanfiction may actually become so interesting to some readers, that those readers are inspired to write fanfiction based on those stories, despite the fact (or perhaps because of it, in some cases) that the original story is fanfiction in and of itself…

This is Recursive Fanfiction.

Care should be taken with this trope, as the story that said fanfic is based on must be a fanfiction as well. If the fiction that it is based on is not itself based on another work of fiction, then that’s a normal Fan Fic, and not this trope.

Or, schematically:

Original fiction → regular fanfiction → Recursive Fanfiction → still Recursive Fanfiction, but of a higher (deeper?) level.

The reaction of the author of the original Fan Fic tends to vary. Responses may range:

  • At one extreme, they may outright encourage it, and even adopt some or all of it into the canon of their own continuity (creating a shared Fan Verse).
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  • They may have a positive reaction, but without "adopting" the new material.
  • They may give it ambivalent acknowledgement or ignore it entirely.
  • They may express a polite distaste or criticism of the new material.
  • At the other extreme, they may, quite ironically, get upset at people for "stealing" their ideas.
  • If it's Rule 34 or Squick, that's another story.

Recurring Fanon Character is when this happens to an individual character rather than an entire story. Not to be confused with Meta Fic.



Series with their own pages:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • The well-known How to Train Your Dragon fanfiction Hitchups got one, a oneshot based off the story with the author's permission called The Elder's Prediction.
  • This occurs at times in The Lion King fandom:
    • The Lion King Adventures is the most famous example, with no shortage of fan fiction being made by the fans. Even the spin-offs have fanfics.
    • "Chronicles of the Pridelands" invented the character Tanabi, Simba’s son. Nearly every TLK fan began using the character in their own Spin-Offspring. His popularity soon declined though, due to the release of the semi-official Six New Adventure book series, which gave Simba a different son, Kopa. The release of the second film with the arrival of Kiara made all but the oldest fans forget Tanabi.
    • Joanna-TLK’s fancomic continues on from the last chapter of Savu0211’s fancomic, which by then, had almost nothing to do with the original films.
    • Koda, Leah, and Asha from The Lion King: Kiara's Reign are three of the more popular Kiara and Kovu offspring characters. They have other fan-works about them.
    • Kuzimu and Azola are two popular fan-characters, to the point where they're mistaken for canon by some fans. They're Zira's parents. Azola is essentially 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. Kuzimu's usually also presented as having killed Azola.
    • Fan-artist Savu0211 is the creator of several popular fan-characters, including Azra (a Scar/Zira fan-child) and Baridi.
  • ILLUMINATED is a Jane/Amelia Crossover Couple video that has led to two different novelizations: one complete oneshot and one unfinished Dead Fic.
  • Heritage of the Wolf is a series of fan-remakes based on fanfic writer Cyberwulfe's Balto fics.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars fanfiction author Fialleril created the Tatooine Slave Culture tag with their series The Tatooine Cycle and Double Agent Vader, featuring unique fictional mythology and traditions of resistance. There are now many stories from several authors in this started multiverse.
  • The Private Diary of Elizabeth Quatermain has some, or did at the time it was being written; at least one has since been taken down.
  • The Lost in Time Series has one called Lost in Time: Destiny.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfiction series Infinite Coffee and Protection Detail is one of the highest rated MCU fanfic series on Archive of Our Own, and checking the "Works Inspired By This One" sections at the ends of the various installments will reveal that it's inspired dozens of fans to create fanfiction of the series themselves, featuring a snarky, protective Bucky Barnes who loves baking.



    Live-Action TV 


    Tabletop Games 

  • Lunarstar from Worlds Apart is one of the most popular pre-Friendship is Magic Winged Unicorn characters. She has received a lot of recursive fanart.

    Video Games 
  • There's been at least one doujin based on PatchCon! Defend the Library!.
    • People seems to like the concept of Advent Cirno a lot, and there are a lot of fanarts of it in Pixiv.
    • In fact, many Touhou Project doujins use personality quirks ascribed/invented/Flanderized by previous authors (such as Sakuya's A-Cup Angst, Aya's paparazzi behavior, Cirno's idiocy, etc.) that have no basis in canon, due in part to the lack of Character Development in the official games and Word of God that comes out years later people are used to the fanon personalities. For example, most doujin portray Keine as teaching human and youkai children alike despite it being official that she doesn't like youkai. Similarly, Momiji is often shown as Aya's long-suffering subordinate when they actually don't like each other very much.
  • Pokémon:
    • Poké Wars has spawned at least twelve fics based on Cornova's world.
    • There have been multiple fanfics written based on Black Adventures.
    • And a huge community based on Pokéumans, with literally hundreds of members.
  • The infamous Portal fic ITS MY LIFE! has at least several. It doesn't help that one of the authors of those fics largely drew elements from another shared universe based on Portal, namely the Portal: The 4th Millennium franchise.
  • Kynrind's Capture is one based on the Porn with Plot Warcraft fic, Ethereum Gladiator.
  • Subverted with Morphic, where a new author was supposedly going to write his own sequel to the original fic... only it turns out the whole thing was planned out ahead of time by the original author as part of an elaborate April Fool's prank.
  • The Oolite project is a Fan Remake of Elite, so all Oolite fan works are essentially Elite fan works by proxy. Additionally, the game is also highly moddable; well-received Oolite Expansion Packs inspire authors to incorporate their features into their fics, and new ideas from fanfic writers in turn inspire new OXPS. Furthermore, developers and community regulars frequently include versions of one another's in-game personas in their own fan works.
  • Dragon Age fandom has spawned Feynite, an author whose work seems to inspire a significant amount of this.
  • This is extremely prominent in Undertale fandom, which has not only a Fan Verse, but an expansive fan multiverse. Among the fanworks there is an endless tangle of Alternate Universe Fic, where there are more popular AUs than most fandoms get total AUs, and there are several AUs of AUs; for example, Flowerfell, an alternate universe of the preexisting AU Underfell, gave rise to the fanfic Overgrowth, which itself spawned several more fics. There are also mashups of AUs, such as Swapfell, which combines the Darker and Edgier Underfell AU with the role-swapped Underswap AU. To go with all that, there are many fanfics where different versions of the characters from assorted AUs interact.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • This occasionally happens to very popular OCs and especially fan-children. For example, one artist created a Boom-verse Sonic/Amy daughter named Aurora which has received fanart and fanfics from others. It's especially impressive considering the... infamous reputation of Sonic Original Characters, even on the website where they are popular.
      • A half-example of this is the Custom Hero feature from Sonic Forces. It's technically an official character who you can design to be any character you want, hence the half-example bit, but the template design of a red wolf is so popular that people are drawing it in spades, and asking SEGA to make him an actual character in and of his own right.
    • Someone created a design for Shadow the Hedgehog's long-dead sister-figure Maria Robotnik as a hedgehog. Since then, Maria the Hedgehog is a mainstay of Sonic fanworks. Try to find Maria fanart or even fanfics, and you'll undeniably find Maria the Hedgehog fanworks too. Some have an Excuse Plot of "What if Maria was reincarnated or resurrected as a hedgehog?" while others just make her a hedgehog just because.
    • The most current one of these comes from Sonic Mania. The boss fight of the remade Flying Battery Zone, a spider, has Eggman hung upside down within the machine. An artist by the username of Alpha Gamboa, however, saw something else entirely and created an image of what they saw. Meet Eggette (or Omelette, if you prefer), a fan character who is essentially to Eggman what Bowser Jr is to Bowser, and has become so popular that fan art, videos and even custom boss themes have been made for her. Not bad for a comical misinterpretation of an upside-down sprite.
    • Similar to with Maria, a fan-design for Elise as a Funny Animal was created. Almost all Sonic/Elise fanart uses it instead of Elise's canon human design.
  • Quarter-Life: Halfway To Destruction has QuarterLife: Origin of Doom, which also ties it into Half-Life: Full Life Consequences. Notable in that it explains a number of random occurrences in the first fic, explaining the origin of the headcrab officer, the wepon John Freeman finds in Ravenholdm, who wrote "u sudnt come here" on the sign, the origins of the zombie goasts, and even goes so far as to explain where the Combine hug tower at the end of the saga comes from.' Now in machinima form by PKMNEmerald.
  • The immensely popular novel-length Dream SMP AU fanfiction Passerine has inspired an entire category of recursive fanworks on Archive Of Our Own. Notable entries include You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore by Shrai, in which normal canon DSMP!Tommy and Passerine!Tommy switch places after Passerine!Tommy's death, and Color Wheel by ExpositionFairy, an unofficial direct continuation that incorporates some other well-known DSMP story arcs into the AU.
  • The Crown Atomic is a fan fiction written for the Game Mod Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, specifically a version of the mod ported over to Darkest Hour, which itself started life as a fan-made overhaul of Hearts of Iron II. In other words, this is a fan work of a fan work of a fan work — four layers deep.
  • Link and Mipha's triplets from Offspring have some fanart based off of them.
  • The fan game Danganronpa Another and its sequel Super Danganronpa Another 2 have spawned quite a few fan works of their own, including the ongoing Nextgenronpa, which stars the children of several members of the cast.
  • Beyond Skyrim, a massive multi-team Game Mod project for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, have always cited Tamriel Rebuilt, a similarly ambitious modding project for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind as one of its main inspirations. In the case of Beyond Skyrim's own Morrowind project, the close relationship between the two projects are taken it a bit further, as the team have stated that they will at least partially share their in-house lore with Tamriel Rebuild's team.
  • The Persona 5 fic The Delinquent and His Lover, was revived by another author after four years as a Dead Fic.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck out the wastechute. Fans will create alternate universes, the alternate universes will become popular, people will write fanfics set in the alternative universes... and then there's the fanart of alternative universes.
    • The Grand Battle is the most notorious in having fanart and other fan stuff based on itself.
    • There is genderbent fanart of a cosplay of a fanart of a memetic guy who randomly got into a picture of cosplay.
    • Unwanted Free Ugly Troll gets one in Loophole.
    • The greater Replay Value Universe currently includes at least one roleplay that draws from a roleplaying-game handbook, which itself was written as a recap of the original freeform roleplay, which in turn is based on Sburb Glitch FAQ. The author of the Glitch FAQ was apparently so intimidated by the size of his accidental subfandom that he evaporated.
  • Girls Next Door to Roommates

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Recursive Fic


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