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Recursive Fanfiction
aka: Recursive Fic

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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).
  • 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:

    open/close all folders 

    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 



    Live-Action TV 
  • There are quite a few stories written by authors other than the original CP Coulter that use original characters from the Glee fanfic Dalton.
  • The Harmon Verse, a series of Glee fanfics centred around the Original Character of Jack Harmon. It includes four ongoing novelizations of Glee and over 40 stories altogether.
  • The Contract has ended up spawning a number of other fanfics, forming a world known as the Contractverse. They include:
  • Two Two One Bravo Baker, a military AU of the Sherlock universe, has spawned its own works of fanart and fanfic.
  • The Mighty Boosh fandom has several rather famous fanfictions, notably Stockholm Syndrome, that were so popular that they spawned countless fanfictions based on it from other authors. The number of fanfictions and fanarts based on Stockholm Syndrome ballooned after it was revealed Noel Fielding himself was a fan of the fanfiction and inserted references to it into a live performance.
  • DianeCastle's The Secret Return of Alex Mack has spawned dozens of recursive fanfics, thanks in part to its epic length and regular updates (now completed), including two heartfelt tributes to Pyre after her Heroic Sacrifice in chapter 219. There are so many now that it has spawned the so-called "Teraverse," named after Alex's superhero secret identity Terawatt.
  • The Supernatural fanfic Maybe Sprout Wings has inspired a number of other fanfics set in the author's AU. She keeps a running tab of them on the fic's page.
  • The Witcher fanfic The Accidental Warlord and His Pack, wherein Geralt and the Witchers band together to overthrow the various tyrannical rulers of the setting, has inspired a vast number of fics either set in the same universe or based on the same premise. The 'Works Inspired By' section at the end of the main stories is extensive.


    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 
  • Final Fantasy VI: A Soldier's Contingency is a ROM hack of the Final Fantasy VI ROM hack General Leo Edition, with the hack expanding on General Leo's survival that the source hack set the stage for.
  • Friday Night Funkin':
    • Friday Night Funkin': Corruption is a popular reskin/overhaul mod that takes the FNF cast and adds a Zombie Apocalypse-styled conflict, turning each of the characters corrupted; making them tar black with pink maniac expressions. As such, there are many, many mods based off it, typically following the basic premise of Corrupted BF facing against a preexisting FNF mod characters to corrupt them by the end of the week/song. Consequently, many of these mods are heavily formulaic and of low-quality, with Phantom Fear blocking all recursive mods in an attempt to avoid those confusing fanmade with the official story till it's done.
    • A multi case for the Game Mod Monika.exe - it is created by same team of the Doki Doki Literature Club! crossover mod Doki Doki Takeover!, and is itself a mod of fellow game mod Vs Sonic.exe, replacing that mod's cast with horrific versions of the Doki Doki cast.
  • Touhou Project:
    • PatchCon! Defend the Library!: Touhou Ningyougeki is a based on the premise of the puppets reproducing in the wild to populate and integrate into the world following the events of Patchouli's and Marisa's puppet armies getting nuked by the impatient former, resulting in the multiple Pokémon ROM hacks that replace the Mons with the Touhou cast.
    • People seems to like the concept of Advent Cirno a lot, and there are a lot of fanarts of it in Pixiv.
    • 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:
    • Sonic.exe is one of the most famous fanfics in the Sonic fandom, if not in the creepypasta fandom, to the point it gained a large variety of fan games and fanfics.
    • 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 Kaleidoscope by ExpositionFairy, an unofficial direct continuation that incorporates some other well-known DSMP story arcs into the AU and expands the setting to include characters from other popular Minecraft Youtube series.
  • 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • 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.
    • There are a great many fanfictions that borrow elements from Game Mods. Inigo, Lucien, and Kaidan, three very popular companion mods, each have over 250 works on the fanfiction website Archive of Our Own that include them in the tags, and there are far more that include characters, spells, items, story elements and more from a wide variety of other mods.
  • The Persona 5 fic The Delinquent and His Lover, was revived by another author after four years as a Dead Fic.
  • The OMORI fic False Heaven is based on Hands (OMORI) and has the same basic concept- Sunny was a victim of molestation by his sister Mari- but takes place in a slightly different continuity as the hospital confession scene plays out differently than it did in Hands. It is also primarily from Aubrey's perspective and has her in an explicit romantic relationship with Sunny- the conflict being her struggle with her inability to give him physical affection.
  • It's implied in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 that main heroine Mio is the daughter of Queen Nia. Revelations at the end of the game also mean that she would have two siblings. The fandom constantly speculates about who those siblings are, whether they're in the game already, whether they're new characters, and what those new characters should be called. Rozteka published the fic Momentary Weakness, followed by a sequel Endless Strength that focused on the family and the children. People liked the names and personalities the author used so much that people started writing short ficlets in the same universe. Even fics that are not explicitly in the same universe often use Rozteka's names.
  • Stardew Valley has a very large modding community, and sometimes these mods start referencing each other:
    • Stardew Valley Expanded is hands-down the most popular mod, so there are many other mods that make use of the elements introduced by it.
    • Another example is the mod East Scarp which is more of a loose collaboration by different models, but the mod Ridgeside Village also features cameos of some of the former's characters.
  • The Legend of Zelda has a fan-comic called the Linked Universe, an crossover AU wherein reimaginings of all of the various games' incarnations of Link meet up and go on adventures together. The AU has a huge quantity of fan-art and fanfiction based on its versions of the different Links, which the creator enjoys and encourages.

    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.
    • Like One Sundered Star takes the setting of fic Real Men Wear Tights, and turns it into an adventure longer than the estimated wordcount of Homestuck itself (with Like One Sundered Star reaching 1.5 million words in the main fic).
  • Girls Next Door to Roommates.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Recursive Fic


Fallout: Equestria

ColeyDoesThings explains just how massive the fandom for a Fallout/My Little Pony fanfic became.

How well does it match the trope?

4.18 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / RecursiveFanfiction

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