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Running the Asylum

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"You could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction."

When a franchise expands into a Long Runner, themes, ideas, and interpretations will inevitably start being lifted from the fanbase. And when a fictional franchise has lasted long enough to induct its fandom into the ranks of its professional creators, the same devotion that produces Fanfic will inevitably emerge in the "canon" material.

Basically, the "inmates" take over the asylum. Sometimes this leads to good things and produces some damned good stories, but other times, the same kinds of motivations and factors that lead to the creation of bad fanfic come into play, to the detriment of the series in general. Sometimes some editors are on hand to curb the worst of it, but other times, things just go Off the Rails.

Note that Tropes Are Tools still applies here, even though it's trivia. While fans are often capable of completely misunderstanding a work or corrupting it for their own purposes, they can also breathe new life into the work in question.

See also Ascended Fanon, Ascended Fanfic, Promoted Fanboy, Pandering to the Base.

Not to be confused with Dr. Psych Patient, in which a psych patient pretends to be a psychiatrist. Or with The Asylum, a film studio specializing in Mockbusters. Or with the series Takin' Over the Asylum.


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  • This happens so often in superhero comics that both The DCU and Marvel have their own sections on the Audience-Alienating Era page.
  • The DCU has been a prime example since the 1980s, at least, when Roy Thomas got handed an entire Earth of his own, to play around with all of the familiar tropes of Fan Fic.
    • Even before then, Jim Shooter began submitting his own layouts and scripts for DC's Adventure Comics in 1966 at the age of thirteen, writing stories for the Legion of Super-Heroes, of which he was a fan.
    • The 1986 Legend Of Wonder Woman was written by Trina Robbins, an admitted Fan Girl of the "Earth Two" Wonder Woman comics, who supposedly was writing a sequel to two of the stories told in said comics but used a whole lot of "Earth One" imagery which clashed with continuity in a story that was basically a Deconstruction-Reconstruction done over the course of four issues involving the returns of not one but two villains, with new powers and weapons for the story, villains that were supposed to have been permanently defeated forty years prior, one through Divine Intervention. Fans generally think it is okay, but don't necessarily think it should actually be Earth 2 Wonder Woman's penultimate finale.
    • Volume 4 Legion of Super-Heroes comics was infamous for this. Many consider Volume 4 to be the worst, with elements like Element Lad's girlfriend becoming a stalker with a sex change (some fans considered him to be gay), Lightning Lad and Team Pet Proty that revived him 25 years before, and the teenage clones that might not have been clones... The next group of writers to take over considered themselves forced to perform the first complete Continuity Reboot of the Legion ever (not even Crisis on Infinite Earths could do that), wiping out all previous history and fan elements. And just to show how much of a Broken Base the fandom is, the people who liked Volume 4 accused that next group of being the ones doing this.
    • Who exactly is Batman's one and only true love? Depends on the author's favorite. Talia al'Ghul is either a near-lunatic woman who raped Batman, a criminal mastermind who happens to have a thing for him and a child by him, or his one and only love who happens to be the daughter of one of his greatest enemies. Catwoman has nearly the same spectrum, from pure enemy to ally of convenience to true love.
  • Several of the primary architects of the modern DCU are fans of the Silver and Bronze Ages and slowly brought aspects of those eras back into the zeitgeist. This includes:
    • Bringing back the Multiverse with Infinite Crisis and 52.
    • Returning Kryptonite to its multiple colored forms and the various effects it has on Superman.
    • Bringing back the original Supergirl in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004).
    • Returning Power Girl to being Kara Zor-L from Earth-2 instead of an Atlantean.
    • Giving Wonder Woman the Diana Prince secret identity again as a secret agent based in Washington DC (much like the 1970's TV series) and restoring the Amazons to a monarchy under a revived Queen Hippolyta.
    • Retconning Emerald Twilight with Green Lantern: Rebirth, reviving Hal Jordan and revealing that Sinestro and a cosmic entity were responsible for Hal becoming Parallax. Of course, even the writer of Emerald Twilight admitted this was a good move...
    • Reviving The Flash Barry Allen in Final Crisis.
    • While not related to Crisis, Geoff Johns also retconned Superboy into becoming the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor in Teen Titans — which was foreshadowed by a fan letter sent into Superboy's old book... by one "Geoffrey Johns".
    • Restoring Barbara Gordon to being Batgirl and reverting her to her Pre-Crisis backstory (Commissioner Gordon's biological daughter, rather than his adopted niece).
    • Bringing Superman and Batman's close friendship back in Public Enemies.
  • There is a joke amongst comics forums (and this wiki) that someday fans, unsatisfied with the re-emergence of Silver Age aspects, will become DC writers and set things "right" by "putting things back the way they used to be before all this Asylum Running", which basically translates to "Someday new writers will run the asylum so that instead of the Silver Age, it will be the Dark Age instead."
  • From the way he writes ultimate showdowns of ultimate destiny, it's apparent that Frank Miller likes Batman but not any of DC Comics' other heroes. Still, he is quite aware of the Power Perversion Potential of certain superheroes and Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass characteristics of characters like The Flash and Plastic Man, and plays those up when he gets the chance to write them (not to mention the Physical God aspects of someone with a Green Lantern Ring). The only one he really seems to hate (and whom constantly gets the short end of the stick) is Superman. Of course, he's aware of people saying this about him, and has said that if he ever writes a Superman comic, he'll give the same dressing down to Batman. As of Superman: Year One however, many fans remain unconvinced.
  • A particularly divisive example of this is Crisis on Infinite Earths itself. Some years after everything went down, it came to light that Marv Wolfman, the man who'd come up with the idea (which the DC execs then signed off on), had been fomenting the essential idea behind Crisis for a long time... that is to say, ever since he was ten years old. This has sparked all kinds of accusations, most of them concerning the idea that the entire DC Universe was allowed to be the plaything of one man's childhood fantasies. This revelation (and the incredible bad blood it sparked between Wolfman and Thomas, whose own "playground" was removed from existence and relevance utterly) is what essentially sparked the "my continuity is best" attitude at DC, which is still felt to this day.
  • Marvel Comics got into this a bit slower (they started five years later and only a handful of their earliest works got incorporated in the "Universe" Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko crafted roughly twenty years later), but it's definitely there. Stuff like Avengers Forever is sometimes referred to as "Continuity Porn".
    • One More Day is a particularly loathed example of Running the Asylum, with editor in chief Joe Quesada being 24 when Spider-Man got married and hating that Spidey got changed from when he was a kid. Apparently everyone else who has read and enjoyed Spider-Man within the past twenty years don't count as real fans, since they want the case to be "Spidey grows old and dies off". That was a direct quote from Quesada.
    • Quesada also ordered Jean Grey Killed Off for Real and prevented writers from bringing her back. And from some of his own words, including his thoughts that she didn't do anything of merit since saving the universe, Cyclops is "more interesting" without her. Then in 2018 she returned in Phoenix Resurrection.
    • Hank Pym (Ant-Man) was made into a widower after the death of his wife, and Quesada claimed he's also "more interesting" without her. This backfired though, as the Wasp came back and Pym was stripped of the Ant-Man identity in favor of Scott Lang, who is the Ant-Man that stars in the movie (though Pym is still present as the inventor of Lang's gear).
    • Quesada seems to have some major issues with wives, but not with moms; this is why the Invisible Woman and Jessica Jones are spared. At one point (the Spider-Girl continuity's version of Mary Jane used to be on the same boat until Peter was killed off in Spider-Verse, leaving her a widow), however Peter was later brought back to life at the close of the Spider-Geddon event.
  • The famous The Night Gwen Stacy Died is often accused of being a vehicle for Gerry Conway to kill Gwen so that Peter could hook up with Conway's preferred girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. In reality, a graphic novel compilation of the original Clone Saga says the idea of killing Gwen Stacy was already bandied about when he became the writer, and he was simply the guy who executed it. He admits that he thought Mary Jane was a better love interest for Peter, but more to the point, felt that the death of beloved Gwen Stacy would be another defining moment for a character defined by tragedy. As he says, "tragedy and pathos are meat and potatoes to a guy like me."
  • Nextwave is massively popular with Marvel writers and staff... not so much with the editors, though, as Joe Quesada declared it non-canon and enforced this by preventing writers from referring to it in other mags. References still crept through due to small Writer Revolts on occasion. Then the biggest Writer Revolt of them all came in Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. In issues #6-7, the Beyond Corporation returns, and Spectrum goes off on a rant about how people made light of everything that happened in the miniseries and acted like it never happened. The story is titled "Not in continuity", and in one of those recap captions telling you what back issues you need to hunt down to get the reference, editor Wil Moss wrote "See Nextwave #1-12. You owe it to yourself- so good!", so it was absolutely an inside job. Not that we're complaining, definitely!
  • Cyclops is often a victim of this trope too. While he's never been the most popular X-Man (he's always had at least a decently large fandom, but he has an even larger hatedom... and used to also have a lot of readers just bored by him, but thanks to this trope he's more divisive than ever), the main reason for those who dislike him stems from the way he was written back into the comics after leaving to be with his new wife and son. Because of a writer who was a fan of the original five, Cyclops and Jean were returned and reunited, but while it wasn't NEARLY as cut and dry as many remember it, it basically involved Scott leaving and through a series of convoluted events was unable to find his wife and son, believed them dead, and so resumed a relationship with Jean. Because of THAT, there's many people who now hate him, and it affected how he was written. Some writers deliberately write him as unlikable because they dislike him, and because of others reading him like that, it caused his character to be degenerated quite a bit by some writers.
  • While we're at it, let's consider Wolverine's ridiculous Power Creep, Power Seep over the years—his Healing Factor going from a simple neck wound being potentially lethal to coming back from being burned down to his adamantium bones—and consider that this is what happens when childhood fans join up and power-boost their favorite character.
  • For both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, you can identify the age of many writers by checking what characters are their favorites, assuming they were last famous when the writers were between 12 and 16, and doing the math.
    • Brad Meltzer: Vixen, Red Tornado, Dr. Light.
    • Robert Kirkman: Onslaught, Cable, Stryfe. Dragon Ball Z also has a distinct influence on Invincible.
    • Geoff Johns: mid-1980's Roy Thomas and Alan Moore work for DC.
    • Ed Brubaker has said many times in interviews that the first two comics he bought with his own money were Iron Fist and an issue of Captain America featuring the Evil '50s Cap as a villain; in his later career, he revived Iron Fist in a new solo title and, while writing Captain America's solo title, brought back Evil '50s Cap. Both these runs are widely acclaimed, so this is one of the good examples. He also has said that one of the few issues he still has from his youth is one of Steranko's, when Cap "died" for the first time. Not only has he based his entire 50+ issue run on the three Steranko issues, he also "killed" off Cap—to much critical and fan acclaim.
  • Jeph Loeb has been pretty apparent for this with his Superman/Batman series and the "Batman: Hush" arc (putting characters in with no explanation).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics)'s head writer from 2006 until the series' cancelation in 2017 was Ian "The Potto" Flynn, a somewhat well known fan of the series, who was even writing his own Sonic fan comic ("Other M") prior to being picked up by Archie. Flynn's tenure is generally viewed fondly in hindsight, being seen as having lifted the comic out of the Audience-Alienating Era and Kudzu Plot it had been languishing in for years at the time, and restored it to respectability; of course, this being the Sonic fandom, this view is not universal. Some complaints include ignorance of canon and derailing several characters, some of which were to preserve certain relationships (namely Sonic and Sally's). Some things he's gotten a more positive response for, however, have been his killing off very unpopular characters, introducing several fan favorite characters, rewriting bad stories, cleaning up unresolved plot points, and offering other related fanservice to the fanbase. One of his most notable contributions has been citing a lot of Sonic Internet memes and other memorable lines from various Sonic media. It helps that his writing and understanding of the characters and source material has improved a lot since he started out with the gig, and the post-Worlds Collide timeline reset cleaning up much of the messy comics-only material and moving the comics closer in line with the games, due to the legal mess surrounding Ken Penders.
  • Speaking of Ian Flynn, he also wrote the Mega Man (Archie Comics) comic (until the indefinite hiatus) to incredible acclaim with an impressive Adaptation Expansion (including quite a few original characters who are mostly loved by fans), displaying an incredible understanding of the source material. It's not hard to find people who can remark that the Mega Man comics are some of the best-written comics they've ever read in recent years. Unfortunately, Archie's financial troubles mean that we won't see more of this anytime soon, as far as we know.
  • Transformers comics suffered from this during their revival by the now-defunct Dreamwave Comics. Under Dreamwave, plots tended to be either simple or vague while the authors took time to work in explanations for the toys with rub signs and rampant Easter Eggs that contributed nothing to the story. It didn't help that they essentially just built off the old kid's cartoon from the '80s.
  • Reginald Hudlin is a fan of Black Panther. After he started to write his adventures, T'Challa was turned into a God-Mode Sue, Wakanda into a utopia, and Storm from X-Men married BP. Afterwards, wherever the two go, everyone else immediately gets hit with Idiot Balls.
  • In Daredevil's case, it seems like all the best writers that get their hands on him (including Ann Nocenti, Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker) are fans of Frank Miller's run and, just like him, are trying to make Matt's life as miserable as possible. Daredevil is supposed to be a dark and brooding character, so fans don't mind. Tellingly it became divisive when Mark Waid wrote stories whose endings didn't drive him to drink from despair, though Waid still has a good number of fans for the run.
  • Artist example: ask Leinil Francis Yu to draw a scene with multiple superheroes, or large battle with them. The odds of finding his favorite character, Howard the Duck, in it, even if he wasn't mentioned on the character list, are equal to or greater than 100%.
  • ElfQuest became almost entirely run by fans after the first few storylines, and the original creators (Wendy and Richard Pini) never seemed to particularly care about the quality of the new art or writing - but still declared all of it canon. Some of the fan-made comics are seriously great. Most of them are not. Examples:
    • Kahvi is Two-Spear's daughter, and magically got amnesia after she fell into a magic pool, and all of the Go-Backs are "cleansed" Wolfriders who apparently forgot to tell Kahvi or their own children or anyone at all about their heritage. Kahvi learns about this from Egg, who was rescued by Two-Edge, and Egg gets a snake for a bracelet. Also, Kahvi desires Cutter to an unhealthy level, so she tries to kidnap him and almost succeeds because all of the elves are suddenly on the wrong continent for no apparent reason. And Tyldak does slapstick.
    • When he was a kid, Cutter was a slave for the trolls for a full year, and yet he doesn't know what the caverns he lived in looked like. The reason? They made him wear a blindfold.
    • When he was a kid, Skywise met Timmain... and then he forgot about it again.
    • There's this really tall white-haired elf in the future named Jinx who has a lot of sex with humans and talks to reptilian aliens and can teleport.
  • In an interview with Comic Heroes, a British comics industry magazine, Alan Moore essentially said he despised this trope and blamed it for many of the reasons comics have the reputation they do today. He also said he may retire from the industry due to this trope, but it doesn't seem to have occurred yet. Given that nearly all of his best-known works, including The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, are based on someone else's creations, there is a whiff of hypocrisy in his comments.
  • This is true of The Beano and The Dandy, with many of those working on the comic having read the comic as children. Seeing as the comic started in the 1930s, this was true even in the early days, with one of the co-creators of Dennis the Menace (UK) having even read The Beano as a child.
  • The writer of Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott, has been a rather contentious example of this. Being a self-professed Spider-Man fanboy, his run post-BND brought critical acclaim to the series, shooting the franchise up the sales charts and mirroring the success of JMS's previous run. With that said, Slott also developed quite the reputation with his detractors, arguing with his critics on message boards and even going as far as making jabs in the comic itself.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW): Both Andy Price and Katie Cook had plenty of G4 fanart on their DeviantArt pages before the series was announced, and Katie has said she was a fan of the original G1 series. This leads to such things as Derpy being featured prominently and being fond of muffins, “flank” being used as a synonym for “butt,” etc. Amy Mebberson, Heather Nuhfer, and Heather Breckel were also all big fans before working on the comic. Pretty much everyone involved is a brony/pegasister!
  • The unusually violent and over-dramatic "Home Schooling" arc of Runaways, in which Old Lace appears to die, Klara Prast is transformed from a relatively inoffensive Cousin Oliver into an annoying brat with uncontrolled powers that threaten to destroy the team, and Gertrude Yorkes suddenly reappears out of nowhere, starts to make sense in some sick way when you read series editor Nick Lowe's comments announcing the run, where he promotes the arc as being the best one since the one where Gertrude Yorkes died. One might surmise that Lowe was one of those fans who subscribed to the theory that Klara was a Replacement Scrappy for Gert. Unfortunately for all Runaways fans, Marvel apparently realized that the inmates had taken over the asylum and decided to shut it down more or less permanently in 2009. Rainbow Rowell appears to be continuing the trend as of the 2017 run of the book: Gert is back, and Klara was Put on a Bus.
  • Both Ed Brubaker and Rick Remender have done this towards Captain America's sidekicks. Both Bucky Barnes and The Falcon, respectively, have had their lackluster C-List Fodder status upended (both the fact that Bucky WAS C-List and Falcon's Unfortunate Implications-laden retconned past) and were both turned into Captain America at some point or another, with positive results.
  • Ultimate Marvel: When Jonathan Hickman was hired to write The Ultimates, he said this: "I was pretty excited. When I first started at Marvel, one of the gigs I had looked at as a king of homerun job was the Ultimates. I loved how Brian and Mark had started things off - how real and large the world felt - and I always thought there was a logical next step to be taken. So here we are, one small step..." In his new X-Men run, he also shares the common fan sentiment with X-Men in the '10s were a massive Audience-Alienating Era for the X-Men as a brand, and set out to whip the property in shape and make them A-list again in time for their MCU reboots. This does explain why very little of the elements introduced post-2008 actually sticks, the few that do being treated as Broad Strokes that he cherry-picks and reinvents himself (such as making Betsy into Captain Britain and Kwannon into Psylocke following Betsy's return to her old body). In general, his run and the accompanying relaunch acts as though it were a sequel building off New X-Men by Grant Morrison and Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon, than anything even remotely continuing the '10s status quo. Note that Tropes Are Not Bad is in full effect here, because many fans agree with this, that trying to build off the '10s status quo only made for an even bigger dork age, and Hickman was wise to just ignore it.
  • Miles Morales: Saladin Ahmed is the first writer of Miles Morales after his creator Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel. In reference to that, he said "I've not spoken to Bendis, but he is absolutely brilliant, and his writing was one of the things that brought me back to super hero comics after years away. So of course there's some intimidation factor. But ultimately you have to just respect the work and creation of those who came before you while still being confident enough to put your own stamp on the stuff. Superheroes are myths built with layers of story. If other creators hadn't gone on to help define Peter Parker after Lee and Ditko, we wouldn't have the Spider-Man we know and love today".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • A lot of Expanded Universe writers started turning their favorite characters into The Woobie or otherwise conflicting characters to fit their own fantasies. Popular targets in Star Wars include Luke, Mara, Boba Fett, and Talon Karrde.
    • Dr. Curtis Saxton became a technical adviser for the prequels and wrote the Incredible Cross-Sections supplemental books for Episodes II and III entirely because of the impressive detail of his website, "The Star Wars Technical Commentaries". Of course, it probably helps that he not only has a PhD in astrophysics, but also that his doctorate thesis paper was essentially Version 1.0 of his website. However, he has received criticism that his works on the Incredible Cross Sections don't really match up what we see on-screen, and in fact overshoot them by several orders of magnitude. His more visceral critics flat out accuse him of trying to rewrite canon to win a fan debate.
    • The Original Trilogy depicted Darth Vader as powerful, but far from invincible, with it all but stated he was a shadow of his former self and that was the reason he was The Dragon and needed Luke to have a chance at overthrowing his master. The prequel trilogy and Legends continuity largely stuck to this portrayal, but in Disney canon, because he's now written by men and women who were his fans as children, he's stated to be the most powerful force-user ever who's crippling only made him stronger and is feared by his master. Almost every new story he appears in gives him a new feat until the fact that the OT was written decades before seems the only reason anyone could ever defeat him.
  • The Resident Evil Film Series have canon characters that appear ending up playing second fiddle to the film's protagonist, played by the writer-director's girlfriend/wife. A blink-and-miss newspaper clip of an "Officer Kennedy" being shot and killed, in any other series, would be a joke, but it just ends up infuriating when it's clear it was done from keeping any canon character from stealing the Creator's Pet's spotlight. Since the series is up to its sixth entry, it's confirmed that the only canon R.E. character to get any real dignity next to Alice is Albert Wesker, the Big Bad of the series. Contemporary entries into the games also affect the movies as well, such as the Plagas and elements from Resident Evil 5 being introduced in a setting that never brought them up. Any canon character who is lucky enough to come back after the film they were introduced in still finds themselves without a point, even the games' most popular character Leon S. Kennedy, who somehow must have survived that fatal shooting...
  • The timeframe is relatively small, but the Death Note movies fell victim to this. In the film universe, the fan favorite L has a much firmer grip on the plot and greater impact on the ending. Then there's the entire original sequel in which L acts out various scenarios which seem to exist solely to fit the format "wouldn't it be awesome if L saved/met/ate/rode around in a _____?"
  • Superman Returns: Bryan Singer, who at that point had turned the extremely convoluted, Space Opera-esque X-Men universe into two down-to-earth, accessible, and critically acclaimed hits (X-Men and X2: X-Men United), was hired on the assumption that he'd do the same with Superman. The important difference was that Singer was initially not an X-Men fan at all, and thus understood what other non-fans (i.e. millions of movie-goers) would find compelling about the source material and made the movies around that stuff. Superman: The Movie, on the other hand, was one of his favorite films, and thus the franchise-making blockbuster he was entrusted to deliver wound up as some sort of vague sequel to films that came out 30 years earlier, packed with dozens of quotes and forced homages to said films in lieu of new material, and a bizarre plot featuring Superman as the absentee father of a maybe-half-Kryptonian child which Lois might not remember conceiving depending on whether or not he erased her memory of their affair from either version of Superman II, prior to the events this film, which they don't explain. It did not go over well, and a reboot began just seven years after Returns came out.
  • Whit Anderson, the writer for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Continuity Reboot, is a fan of the Joss Whedon series. He was the same age as Buffy when the show was first running.
  • Star Trek:
    • When Nicholas Meyer heard that Sulu's first name in the books was given as "Hikaru," he liked it so much he had Sulu use it in his Captain's Log for the USS Excelsior in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, thus cementing it as part of the Star Trek Universe.
    • This later happened to Uhura, whose first name was never given in canon until the 2009 movie revisited her character. "Nyota" was chosen out of several competing names from the Expanded Universe. "Nyota" being the preference of Nichelle Nichols pretty much sealed the deal.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons (2000) movie by Courtney Solomon. Solomon at the time was a first-time director whose only credentials were being a D&D fanboy and pushing for ten years trying to get a D&D movie made. Strangely the film diverged massively from the source material and it flopped pretty hard; Solomon didn't get another screen credit for five years and has only directed twice since, and also five years was what it took for another D&D movie to be made (a made for cable film at that).
  • Howard Hughes was, among many other things, a lifelong movie buff who dreamed of making movies in Hollywood. Having produced several films during the '30s and '40s (most notably Scarface (1932) and Hell's Angels), in 1948 he used his considerable fortune to buy out RKO Pictures. His tenure as head of RKO was described by film historian Betty Lasky as a "systematic seven-year rape", as everything that could've gone wrong at a major studio did: he fired three-quarters of the studio's employees within weeks, he spent more time collaborating with HUAC and trolling the Hays Office than actually making movies (output dropped from about thirty films a year before Hughes took over to just nine in 1948), the studio endured several disastrous productions and Box Office Bombs that each would've been black marks on any studio's balance books, and by 1951, Sid Rogell and Sam Bischoff, the production chiefs who had been the Only Sane Employees at RKO during the early part of Hughes' reign, got fed up with his constant Executive Meddling and quit. All this compounded the pressure that all of Hollywood's "Big Five" studios were under in the wake of United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., the 1948 antitrust case that set off the Fall of the Studio System by forcing them to divest from their theater chains. By the time Hughes sold RKO to General Tire in 1955, the question wasn't if the studio would go bankrupt, but when; as it turned out, the answer to that question was "eighteen months".

  • Since at least the fourth book, Piers Anthony's Xanth series now consists almost entirely of puns and plot coupons taken from reader fan mail—and there are over 30 books. The further into the series you go, the more reliant the books get on reader-submitted puns. He even gives credits in his Author's Note at the end of each book for each reader suggestion he decided to use. It's a shame, as Anthony has demonstrated his writing skills in numerous other series, but it may say something about the potential audience that the Xanth books have always been his most popular. The frustrating part is that Anthony tried Growing the Beard with the Xanth books around the mid-teens, and it worked for a few books. Then around book 20, he seemed to give up trying to write stories, and just strung the thousands of puns he's sent together and called them books. It's likely he realized that coming up with some characters and a plot outline and having the characters 1) meet someone new every chapter, 2) do a full round of introductions and a story recap to that new person, and 3) just wandering from reader-submitted pun to reader-submitted pun in between was a much easier way to meet his word count and get his paycheck than bothering to write a story.
  • H. P. Lovecraft went off and encouraged fans of his work to do this. In fact, he read most of his fanfiction, and on a few occasions even expanded off his fanfiction. Note, though, that this was around eighty years ago and his fanbase was relatively small, so most of his fanfiction came from respectable authors.
    • This is basically how the Cthulhu Mythos works. The original circle of writers is long-dead, and so the fans of each successive generation of contributors start contributing stories to the mythos, thus becoming the new generation of writers. In fact, much of Lovecraft's work is derived from other authors, such as Ambrose Bierce, meaning that the Lovecraft circle themselves were a case of this trope.
    • invokedEven with the Approval of God that came with H.P. Lovecraft's personal encouragement to expand upon his stories, some works that follow in his footsteps tend to play up how weak humans are compared to the Eldritch Abominations that they face. Lovecraft's monsters tended to lose quite a bit, with even Cthulhu himself getting punched out quite often, though not always without a cost. Later works of existential horror tend to show the humans failing to accomplish much at all.
  • The Apocryphal Books of the Bible (like the various books of Esdras and others) read much like fan-fiction. Instead of the structures found in the originals, such as common poetic forms and language (which is often repetitive and dry), these books constantly reference the more 'exciting moments' from those books. Lengthy depictions of giant apocalyptic battles between good and evil are extremely common. They are often excluded from many Biblical Canons for this reason.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Classic series: Matthew Waterhouse, a literal card-carrying fan (he belonged to the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, the biggest Who fan club in the world), was cast as The Scrappy, Adric. Around the same time another fan, Andrew Smith, had a script accepted. A few years later the überfan Ian Levine co-wrote a (poorly-received) script for "Attack of the Cybermen" (as well as writing the music for K-9 Company, a One-Episode Wonder Spin-Off). In the late '80s came Andrew Cartmel, a young and inexperienced—if wry—writer who got the gig of Script Editor just by applying. The result was three years of retcons, postmodern commentary both on the show itself and its fanbase, and the most convoluted storylines ever. Opinions are deeply divided on this era. To some extent, though, it's never really gone away. Technically, Cartmel had more of an interest in Comic Books, particularly the work of Alan Moore, than in Doctor Who; however, two of his writers, Marc Platt and Ben Aaronovitch, did consider themselves fans (only because Ben didn't really know what a "fan" was), the former having contributed articles to the fanzines of the day and the latter contributing two very "fannish" stories. Behind the scenes, the three of them also came up with the "Cartmel Masterplan", a secret Backstory retcon of the Doctor's history, which never quite found its way to the screen.
    • In the 1980s, a then-unknown Nicholas Briggs and some other fans created an audio series called the Doctor Who Audio Visuals. They eventually went pro, founded the official audio series Big Finish Doctor Who, and adapted many of their old Fan Fic stories into proper audio episodes, which are still ongoing with Briggs as the Show Runner. Nicholas Briggs also managed to cast many of the Doctors and their companions in his unrelated TV and film works, and currently voices the Daleks and the Cybermen in the TV show.
    • The revival series had this from the get-go; Russell T. Davies, naturally, was a huge fan, and so was Steven Moffat. Chris Chibnall, who served as showrunner for the Thirteenth Doctor's era (2018-2022), famously went on TV in 1986 to complain about the perceived declining quality of the show under John Nathan-Turner's wing.
    • Several Doctors since the '80s jumped on board because they were longtime fans of the show. Peter Davison, Colin Baker, David Tennant, and Peter Capaldi were all fond of the show during their childhoods (with both Baker and Capaldi having stuck around since it started in 1963) and cited this as their main motivators for playing the Doctor. Tennant has even stated in interviews that wanting to play the Doctor is what led to his choice of acting when he was young.
    • Going by the Appreciation Index for certain episodes from both writers, this may not have been bad for the new series. Moreso when you remember the 1999 Children In Need Special (fanfiction if anything is), starring Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Grant as the Doctor, was written by that same Steven Moffat.
    • As Doctor Who has been on the air more or less continuously for half a century and has been one of the consistently most popular shows in Britain for that entire time (minus a decade or so), pretty much the only way to avoid having fans running the show is to deliberately select people who hate the show. Or who have spent the last fifty years in a barn.
  • Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss of Sherlock describe themselves as Arthur Conan Doyle fanboys and it shows. The duo's talent made the series critically acclaimed and beloved by book fans and newcomers for its in jokes and Shout Outs to the original stories, fascinating explorations of Sherlock's mind, and teasing Johnlock so directly that actually happening seemed possible. But with the beginning of series three, the very same elements became so overplayed that it ruined the show. References became more integral to the plot, applied to fanon as well, and were tweaked to throw book fans off the mystery, ruining the fun in catching the reference and mostly confusing the plot. Mysteries became overly complicated, ended with nonsensical twists, and were excessively bleak and over dramatic. Exploring Sherlock's mental state was made so important that the mysteries and even antagonists would eventually revolve around him. The writers began to resent the fans paying Johnlock so much attention and began to openly mock them for it, driving away even hardcore shippers. That so many of these criticisms also apply to Moffat's run on Doctor Who has only exacerbated complaints.
  • Star Trek:
    • CBS and Pocket Books encourage fan-fic writers to aim for more legit careers with the annual Strange New Worlds short story competition.
    • Season 4 of Star Trek: Enterprise merits special mention here. The producers of every modern Trek show (and some actors, most notably Tim Russ and Jolene Blalock) have been fans, but S4 showrunner Manny Coto was a fanboy, and the season he created was the sort of Continuity Porn you either love or hate. In fact, Enterprise in general deliberately harks back to The Original Series (both in time frame and in the less than ensemble cast), alienating fans who started watching during The Next Generation.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ronald D. Moore became a promoted fanboy entirely by chance when his then-girlfriend (who also happened to be a set dresser for the show) gave him a tour of the studio and he had an opportunity to present the producers a fanscript he had written. Not only did the fanscript become an actual episode, "The Bonding," but Moore became one of the largest contributing writers of both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and wrote many of the best episodes of both series (often collaborating with other talented writers who had different styles, such as the Mind Screw-loving Brannon Braga and "anti-fanboy" Ira Steven Behr). Moore later created a series of his own: Battlestar Galactica. Needless to say, he seems to be an especially talented Promoted Fanboy.
    • Apparently, J. J. Abrams was chosen to be the creator of the 2009 movie because he was only a casual fan of the series. (While Abrams was admittedly a casual fan, his colleagues and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are themselves admitted fanboys.)
    • Gene Roddenberry is said to have encouraged Next Generation writers not to catch up on the original series; he didn't want the new show trying to imitate the old.
    • This admittedly pro-Star Wars fan illustrates a theory of how this might have happened to Star Trek canon. And in case anyone still thinks "Asylum" is too strong a word, this article exposes a downright schizoid trend of growing strange stuff out of initially innocuous details.
    • Even Star Trek: The Original Series had some of this. Although Roddenberry initially hired professional science fiction authors to write a lot of the early stories, several fan scripts were accepted and produced in the second and third seasons, among them "The Trouble with Tribbles", "The Empath" and "The Lights of Zetar". "Who Will Guide the Blind" by Judy Burns and "Remote Control" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg are well-known fan scripts which their authors would have submitted for a fourth season if there had been one.
  • Power Rangers has fans, too. The tenth anniversary season, Power Rangers Wild Force, promoted long-time fan Amit Bhaumik to head writer status. Reactions are split: the season itself is considered abysmal, but that has just as much to do with Disney's buyout of the franchise and the cast and showrunner Jonathan Tzachor as the writing staff or anything else. On the other hand, there are the two (completely original) team-up specials. The traditional previous/current season cross is considered one of the best the franchise has to offer, as not only does it bring back a very popular cast, it also provides closure for the season's villains, manages to integrate the two teams almost seamlessly, and even provides some Ship Tease: not only can Jen and Wes have a happier ending than previously thought, but so can TF's Eric and WF's Taylor. Meanwhile, the tenth anniversary special, despite being a banned topic on many message boards and ripping open plot hole upon plot hole, is still plenty entertaining, between the various continuity nods and well-choreographed fight scenes. Notably, it also features a reference to a fan hoax known as "Scorpion Rain," which Bhaumik helped perpetuate; he noted that he wrote "Forever Red" as if "Scorpion Rain" was in continuity. See the fanon page for details. Tzachor is also an example of this, because he's a fan of...Super Sentai, which led to him making the seasons he directed cleave as closely to their source material as possible. This attitude of course clashes with directors who want to write original stories that respect Super Sentai without slavishly imitating it; the disagreement over these attitudes led to previous head writer Judd Lynn quitting at the end of Power Rangers Time Force.
  • The whole Stargate franchise, sort of. Some of the people working on it apparently hung out on fan forums and possibly got a lot of ideas there. There are even episodes with alternate universes or time lines in order to throw in some popular relationships or events that don't fit into the normal storyline (most of the characters in SG-1 are in the Air Force and so can't have romantic relationships). Fans pointing out mistakes also caused things to get changed, such as the steps of the gate room in Atlantis, which displayed Ancient writing with some lines out of order and upside down. It turns out they had already been fixed, but were "fixed" again in response to forum threads and ended up having to be rearranged some more. Who knows if they ever got it right. But after the fans started figuring out how to read the alien text, the art people started hiding messages. This may be more like Pandering to the Base, except that they were in direct contact with the fan community.
  • Several episodes of the 6th season of Xena: Warrior Princess were written by a (critically acclaimed) fanfic writer who was approached by the creators of the show and asked to write a bunch of episodes.
  • You could write a dissertation on Supernatural and its complicated relationship with its own fans. Eric Kripke openly admitted to being influenced by reaction on fan forums, especially in terms of how Yaoi Fangirl types reacted to female love interests. The writers and directors of the show were well-aware of the slash-shipping that went on in certain quarters of the fandom and often played into it while denying it and mocking it in Take That! meta-episodes toward their fandom. A debate about queerbaiting, misogyny, and what was and wasn't intentional still rages in the fandom. Whatever the case may be, there's little doubt that the writers and producers never expected the show to run as long as it did or for society to change enough for them to be under legitimate pressure to pay off some of the queerbaiting. They tried in Season 15 to make Dean/Castiel half canon but the reaction was decidedly mixed.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Jeff MacNelly originally drew and wrote Pluggers himself, but after readers began submitting gags, he changed the strip so that all of the gags were submitted by readers. The trend continued when MacNelly handed the strip over to Gary Brookins in 1997. (After MacNelly died in 2000, Brookins and Chris Cassatt took over on his other strip, Shoe.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • ECW, from Paul "Drinking the Kool-Aid" Heyman to Promoted Fanboy "Loose Cannon of Commentary" Joey Styles. (Although Heyman is generally regarded as a good booker... just a terrible businessman, and Styles is considered a fine commentator, if one with a reputation of not wanting to play ball with the WWE (however justifiably)). This is also true of the older GLOW and contemporary Smoky Mountain Wrestling, which were similarly ran by fan photographers roped into the business.
  • Kevin Nash had a stint as head booker in WCW towards the end of its existence, and many saw it as a vehicle that he used to get himself over and knock down a few undercarders along the way. However, this is more of an exception rather than a rule; wrestlers have served as head bookers in the past and don't often make the product about themselves. Dusty Rhodes is a key example, as his booking is generally regarded as worthwhile even if he was also in the product itself at the same time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The creators of GURPS invoke this: The majority of published source books are written by fans, but revised and published by the creators.
  • Exalted does this religiously; multiple current writers for the line got their start creating fan works on the official forums. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, the main block of them (the Ink Monkeys) are often liked more than the original, professional authors. (Though not universally, of course - fanbases always split.) For the culmination of the trope, they composed the team that patched up balance issues of the Second Edition (known as "Exalted 2.5") and were involved in writing the entirety of Third Edition.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has several reasons for this even aside from house rules tradition meeting Internet communities. "3rd party" supplements having little to do with established canon on any issue are okay, and in the D&D3 era even inevitable (due to the OGL). Development for settings dropped while switching to new editions was taken over by fan communities, as some sort of Abandonware. The new generation of designers ran free, even through WotC/Hasbro sourcebooks that are supposed to be canon. A good thing for uncharted areas, but all too often it isn't expansion, but walking over established parts so obliviously you almost hear "Squee!" from the page. Things could have gone smoother if this didn't coincide with the time when focus shifted from modelling specific settings to expanding universal rules. Fan enthusiasm knows no limits.
    • Much of the Arthaus product line for the Ravenloft D&D setting was authored by former members of the Kargatane, a team of fans responsible for the Ravenloft fandom's first major website, netbooks, and fanzine.
    • Dark Sun and Spelljammer were taken by their respective online fan communities, expanded and d20-adapted.
    • Kobolds' draconic upgrade. Uncalled for, since they already had their cozy little niche and in hands of a good GM were viable or even dangerous.
    • The great shoehorning epidemy. Symptoms: a new feature is accompanied by instructions how to stick it everywhere, whether the target has a place for it or not. During the outbreak, it was a safe bet that a new "Pearl Diver" class would contain the ways to use it in every existing setting... even desert ones.
    • A variety of stuff, sometimes weird, is brought in by fans of other works whether it makes sense — as in, "we need some huge space monsters in Spelljammer, let's add a giant turtle with a wink to Gamera" — or not — as in...
      • Magic of Incarnum? Fans noticed exactly what it was about.
      • When the new generation of developers sometimes can't even make up a good name, we have books named after artifacts from earlier editions, or something like this Dragon: Sin Eaters of Eilistraee (from one of Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations authors). Nope, not an April issue.
    • Pathfinder is essentially 3.5e as written by the former publishers of Dragon magazine, and has a great number of popular house rules already baked-in.
    • 5th Edition is a return to form in many ways, making this something of a Cyclic Trope.
  • Magic: The Gathering turned this trope into a point of prestige. Fans that are good enough to win the Worldwide Invitational are able to design a card for a future set, some of which turn out to be quite good. Not to mention, many of the people involved in making the game, up to and including Head Designer Mark Rosewater, were players of the game before being hired by Wizards of the Coast.
  • This is the entire point of Legend of the Five Rings.
    • Winning (and, sometimes, losing) Tournaments has explicit story consequences that range from choosing a bride for a particular character, to choosing who gets to be the new Emperor. This has varying effects on the story's quality based on whether the tournament winner cares much about narrative consistency, or just wants to annoy the writers. In one infamous case, an entire story arc was derailed by the Honorable Dragon Movement, a group of players who refused to play corrupted decks in an era when the Dragon could basically only win by massive levels of corruption. This ended up turning Hitomi from the Big Bad of the arc into one of the greatest heroes in the Empire's history, in a way many found dissatisfying. As a side bonus, she ended up becoming the Moon.
    • The end of the Clan War was decided when the last two players in a tournament went to the tournament's storyline man and said that they wanted to team up to fight the Shadow instead of fighting each other. He promptly rolled with it.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney's The Haunted Mansion has one of the most split-apart Broken Base you could find, with (literally) thousands of conflicting Fanons constantly debated on the Internet. The SLG comics (which created backstories for the characters, partly based on fan-made backstories and obviously written by fans of the ride rather than Imagineers) had to be retconned out of continuity to cool the angry fans who had different fanons down. Most recently, an extended, wackier graveyard was added to the queue. It contains numerous retcons and tributes to Deleted Scenes, characters and concepts, and several nods to obscure elements of the fandom.

  • There are quite a few LEGO set designers, PR workers and other staff who started out as prolific members of LEGO's large Periphery Demographic. General consensus is that modern set design is for the most part much better for it, and it certainly contributes nicely to LEGO's extensive efforts to keep involved with the fandom and its events.

    Video Games 
  • Painkiller: Overdose was originally developed as a fanmade mod to the original game before the publishers of the original game, Dreamcatcher, decided to give the team funding to spin the mod into a full release to score a fast buck. The results show all too well.
  • The notoriously surreal Five Nights at Freddy's fangames One Night at Flumpty's and One Night at Flumpty's 2 were originally supposed to be capped off with One Week at Flumpty's, a Grand Finale third installment which got called due to a serious Creator Breakdown stemming from the fact that Jonochrome, the guy behind the game who's also of Riddle School fame, was afraid that the attention he got from these games would make people remember him more by his fan game developer status than his game developer staus, he even went as far as to briefly delete the two other games so no one could play them. However, as time passed and the initial shock went away, Jonochrome decided to provide the fans with the unfinished game, a carte blanche for them to do whatever they want with it, and an apology, saying that his behaviour was childish and that "no one gains anything from such a negative attitude." One Week at Flumpty's is currently being finished by a subreddit of fans that has since gained Jonochrome's full support and approval.
  • NeverSoft were fans of the Guitar Hero series prior to Harmonix's departure. After Harmonix left, they took over the series and made a lot of questionable changes to the series, including Guitar Hero III's infamous "Guitar Battles", Fake Difficulty, and market oversaturation of Mission Pack Sequels that lead to the eventual death of the series (and plastic instrument video games in general).
  • Tom Hulett and Simon Lai, the producers of Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS, both admit to being bigger fans of the earlier Contra games for the NES and SNES than the Boss Rush-filled later sequels like Hard Corps and Shattered Soldier, making Contra 4 as a homage to those early installments. Hulett in particular also admits to being a fan of the gag localizations of the early titles instead of the more direct and serious localizations of recent titles, which is why the manual of Contra 4 is written in such a tongue-in-cheek tone similar to Konami's manuals during the NES era and which is why the two new main characters accompanying Bill and Lance are named Mad Dog and Scorpion, which were the nicknames given to Bill and Lance in the early American versions. However, they also retconned the events of Operation C from being a previous mission of Bill Rizer to being a previous of the "new characters" Mad Dog and Scorpion.
  • This goes all the way back to DOOM — the "Final Doom" mission pack, released by ID themselves, was two "fan" teams creating full episodes. Whether or not this qualifies as this trope or as Ascended Fanfic depends on who you ask.
  • The producer of Tales of the Abyss mentioned in a developer interview for the 3DS version that the Tales teams now include fans who had played the early games, and that though their enthusiasm was good, their plot ideas often have to be gently vetoed.
  • Seems to be the entire business model for Telltale Games. Opinions vary, of course, but generally their work receives positive reviews from both critics and fans.
  • The developers of XCOM: Enemy Unknown were big fans of the original X-COM and really wanted to do justice to the franchise. Strangely this was enforced too, allegedly any new comer to the team had to complete the original game before they could start work, leaving fans wondering how the game ever managed to be made.
  • The Soul Series had been run by creator Hiroaki Yatoriyama from the beginning all the way until Soulcalibur IV. Then he stepped down as leader, and in his place were director Daishi Odashima and producer Hisaharu Tago. These two were the ones responsible for Soulcalibur V. Many noted the changes they made, due to having a 17 year Time Skip. This meant replacing many of the veterans with blatantly anime-inspired characters, and a story that focused entirely on Patroklos Alexander, son of series veteran Sophitia, on his quest to save his sister Pyrrha. It's been pointed out that the whole story and characters feel very much like personal fan fiction being made into reality, instead of an actual sequel to Soulcalibur. Even from a gameplay perspective, it borrowed many of its gameplay mechanics from Street Fighter (and Odashima wasn't shy to admit being a fan of Third Strike). Both of those men left, placing the series under the leadership of Masaki Hoshino. From his tenure came two poorly received Free-to-Play games, Lost Swords and Unbreakable Soul, which were ultimately terminated from service. Many have pointed out that Hoshino's marketing is based on sex appeal, something that was downplayed when Odashima was in charge, and has been compared to Dead or Alive. It wouldn't be until Soulcalibur VI, helmed by Tekken 7 producer Motohiro Okubo, that this sentiment would reverse itself, brought in part by the game (essentially) being a Continuity Reboot that rewinds back to the era of the original Soulcalibur and brought back many of the previously jettisoned series staples.
  • Cantr II: The creator has largely left the game, leaving it to some staff to manage things. Over time, this has resulted in what has been referred to as the Internet Illness. Basically, any normal person gets a chance to live out their powertrip fantasies, and go for broke. Hilarity Ensues.
  • As Everybody Edits goes on, it seems to become more and more like how players have wanted it to be. Coin gates, blue coin doors, signs, invisible portals, global switches, and NPCs were all common game suggestions before being added to the game. It helps that most of the staff members were once regular players themselves.
  • The official level-set that Chip's Challenge 2 comes with features many levels by fans of the first Chip's Challenge.
  • Sonic Mania is basically an official Sonic the Hedgehog fan game, made entirely by people well-known in the Sonic fan-gaming scene (Taxman, Stealth, etc) who have studied the mechanics and level design of Sonic games for over a decade, along with an artist already known for Sonic fan comics and his work on the official Sonic comics (Tyson Hesse) and a popular remix musician known for Sonic remixes (Tee Lopes). The end result was basically praised as the best game the series has had in years by most of the fandom and critics, further contrasted by Sonic Team's own questionable output over the years, which isn't helped by the arguable significant drop in quality with the release of Sonic Forces soon after. Though even then, its critics argued that it was a symptom of another group of "inmates" at the wheel: namely, fans of the Classic games. Classic Sonic's appearance in many of the Modern games of the 2010s, and arguably the high quality and effort put into Mania, is thought of as fans of the older games wanting Sonic to return to how he "used to be."
  • With a franchise as old as Shin Megami Tensei this would happen sooner or later. Starting around the fourth entry, the creative team started to be more and more composed of those who either grew up with the series and more importantly, the various memes surrounding it. Many of those as revealed in interviews also grew up with various anime and wanted to insert elements of that into the series, something that has been a source of much discussion both within the company and with the fanbase. While the older staff was able to reign in most of this in the fourth game, with the release of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, pretty much all of the legacy staff had stepped down and the change in tone and style have become infamous among fans, something the kept going even with the fifth main entry with the various memes of the series serving as a clear influence.

  • Exiern: The original creator and writer Drowemos first sold the comic to fan and author Dan Standing. As one of his first acts in charge, Standing invited fans to submit scripts to become the main writers.
  • Deliberately invoked by Tycho of Penny Arcade with Legends Of The Hierarchs and Song of the Sorcelator. Tycho invited readers to flesh their wikis out with snippets of hilariously abominable prose.
  • Played with in MS Paint Adventures. While the crux of the site is that its fans are the ones driving the story beats, it's ultimately Hussie that decides where these plots go. After he closed the suggestion box partway into Homestuck, fans got their influence in another way through either joining the official staff or having strong enough Fanon to be considered by the fans on the team. Invoked in Homestuck^2, which builds off of The Homestuck Epilogues' themes of what can be considered canon to a narrative. In a complete inverse to the site's beginnings, fans of the series make up almost the entire staff of the comic, with Hussie being the one handing out the plot beat suggestions.

    Web Original 
  • Happens repeatedly on This Very Wiki.
  • The Slender Man Mythos started smack dab under this trope. It helps that the Mythos has no real Word of God to hinge on except as it pertains to individual works, meaning followers are free to ignore and disregard works they think are doing a crummy job of it.
  • As of 2015, the founders of the feminist geek website The Mary Sue have all moved on to other projects, and the site is now mostly run by newer contributors. Longtime members of the community have complained that the new management has steered the site towards social justice and away from geek culture.
  • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony, when a "writer strike" leads to the show having to resort to hiring a fan who said they would work for free, if they were allowed to be in an episode. Cue every negative Fan Fiction stereotype ever.

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers has a lot of this, with many current writers and artists for the shows and comics being long-time fans. It's frequently cited as an example of this trope done right, as many feel that the franchise has been steadily increasing in quality. Transformers: Animated is what happens when these fans have a whole shiny new continuity-sandbox to play around in. The result is loads and loads of Mythology Gags, the Rule of Cool reigning supreme, a kid-companion that doesn't share the same problems as the other human companions, and a very, very happy audience.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks was created by Mike McMahan, who previously ran an unofficial Twitter account (@TNG_S8) that posted short summaries of the “unaired” eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He later turned the same concept into a licensed book before becoming showrunner of Lower Decks, which is in many ways a pastiche of the tropes and styles of Next Generation era Trek.
  • The Simpsons has suffered from this, with new generations of writers who were brought up on and inspired by the more surreal and extreme aspects of the show's humor focusing on that to the detriment of the characters. It seems a lot of the writers had different views of the characters, leading to skews in personality per episode.
    • It's fairly easy to trace when the show started to be truly run by people who were big fans when they were younger. Once they did, you began to see things like Homer having all the skin completely ripped off his torso, leaving his bones and organs visible, and shrugging it off and going about his business. Things like this made no sense for an episode of the show from early on... but it's exactly like something that would happen in a Treehouse of Horror episode, which have always been the most popular and often most rerun episodes of the show. So when fans took over, of course they wanted to write episodes in the style of their favorites all the time instead of waiting for once a year. This might also explain the increasing frequency of Three Shorts Whole-Plot Reference episodes.
    • The first most notable instance of this happening was the hiring of Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. The duo were admitted fans of the series before joining the writing staff in Season 4. They stayed on, rising in the ranks and becoming showrunners for Seasons 7 and 8. Their "back to the family" approach saw a number of low-key, realistic episodes, and they were insistent on staying consistent with the characters (e.g. not making Homer completely stupid or a food monster).
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars got a whole board of writers that were fans, and made it clear from all the references and overly long mythology gags they pack in the show. The most prominent example would be Dave Filoni's favourite character, Plo Koon, who is often mentioned on the SW websites and DVD extras. Other than the overuse of "I've got a bad feeling about this", there is no real difference now that the inmates have control except that Anakin is likable and Jar Jar doesn't automatically inspire homicidal rage.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a variation on this. Lauren Faust, the main creative force for the show early on, had a habit of playing with MLP figures when she was a kid and making up her own personalities for them (although those personalities were usually at least to a certain degree based on the characters' canonical ones). Said personalities became the basis for the main cast of her show. This wasn't a bad thing, since she took a franchise whose previous animated adaptations were mostly considered toy commercials and made a show that kicked its way out of the Girl-Show Ghetto.
    • Towards the end G4’s run several writers hired onto the show were fans and their episodes built upon and reinforced aspects of characters that were popular in the fandom. The franchise’s fifth generation hired several prominent fandom figures as writers and character designers. Fans have spent hours combing footage of the new movie for references and shout outs to the previous generation.
  • Bruce Timm has always stated to be a shipper for Batman and Batgirl (despite them having a father-daughter or teacher-student relationship in the comics and in most adaptations). In Batman: The Animated Series Barbara Gordon has a dream where she starts making out with Batman and it is brought up in Batman Beyond that they had a relationship offscreen when they both grew older, but whith Batman: The Killing Joke, he finally gets to write about them being together in one of his stories.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse makes use of this, as there are many scripts identical to previous episodes of other iterations, blatantly ignoring some of the most oft-criticized aspects of the previous sequels (or in some cases, ones that break the base), and bringing Ben uncomfortably close to his first series incarnation while ignoring the maturing of the previous sequels. The character designs are also much closer to the first series.
  • The producers and writers of DuckTales (2017) are not only fans of the original 1987 series, but also diehard lovers of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe which inspired it. As the series went on, their love for other series that aired on The Disney Afternoon was made blatantly clear as well, with references and character appearances galore.

    Real Life 
  • Just about all we know of the philosopher Socrates is through the writing of his fanboy, Plato. There has been much argument as to how much is really Socrates, and how much was Plato using his dead hero as a mouthpiece. Diogenes of Sinope had some scathing opinions on the subject.