This is an Alternate Universe Fic in which the setting and premise of the original are changed completely, and so only the characters are the same. Sometimes it can lead to an effect like an original fic with the characters from another story pasted in. In extreme cases, even the characters don't feel much like counterparts of the originals aside from their names. In fact, sometimes this may be done deliberately: an original story tends to get a lot less views than a fanfic for a popular series, so why not just change your characters' names to increase the readership a tenfold?
Not necessarily a Genre Shift. It can result in a comedy suddenly set in a Science Fiction setting, or an action series having its character shoved into a high school drama (The Breakfast Plot is a specific subtrope). Superpowered or nonhuman characters may be Brought Down to Normal or unpowered characters may be given new powers.
Though often a source of derision, it's not necessarily bad or good. It can be freeing to focus solely on the character dynamics, which are often some of the meatiest parts of a work, without needing to worry about mucking with worldbuilding, elaborate What If? scenarios, or The Stations of the Canon. It can also be a creative endeavor in its own right, allowing the author to do their own worldbuilding on a large scale, or enable interesting scenarios that would be completely impossible in canon. That said, it can be a little strange to behold fandoms where the majority of works are these.
Compare to Dolled-Up Installment which can have similar results (canon characters seeming out of place in a story) for different reasons. Fanfic authors often want to write about their favorite characters doing something else, where installments may be forced to add/change characters to sell an existing story.
See also Fusion Fic, Film Fic, Historical AU, Whole-Plot Reference. Often the result of a Universal-Adaptor Cast. Mundanization is one of the most common forms of this. For the inverse (different characters, same setting and premise), see Elsewhere Fic. An Elseworld can be the result of the creators themselves doing this.
- Avamorphs features the main characters of Avatar: The Last Airbendernote in the Animorphs universe. It's technically a High School AU as well, since bending doesn't exist and they seem to live in a generic American town (albeit where everyone has Avatar-world names). Pretty much every character from Animorphs is replaced by an Avatar character, including the alien ones (Zuko, Azula, and Ozai are Yeerks, Iroh takes the place of Elfangor, and Lu Ten is Ax).
- All Assorted Animorphs AUs has chapters that place the Animorphs into the settings of Harry Potter, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Holes, Ouran High School Host Club, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Hunger Games, and the works of Tamora Pierce.
- From the same author, A Princess, a Treehugger, and a Space Cadet Walk Into a Library is a Mundanization with the Animorphs in the place of The Breakfast Club characters.
- The grammatically-broken (and now lost) Warhammer 40000 Trouble, when the author suddenly turns To Love Ru's Unlucky Everydude Chick Magnet into a scheming Magnificent Bastard who's also Properly Paranoid, then adds Warhammer 40,000 just to cement his point. The catch? Considering how the harem story started... Deconstruction ensues. Oh, and his Bromantic Foil is a hardcore fan of W40K.
- Harry Potter:
- One example is the Lust Over Pendle series of Harry Potter fanfiction by A.J. Hall, a series of suspense/mystery novels using Draco and Neville as a couple solving mysteries, effectively turning them into The Hardy Boys. Magic is hardly mentioned at all, everyone constantly interacts with Muggles and one climax features a "magical" nuclear device that doesn't seem very magical at all. In other words, if you changed the name and dropped what little premise of magic actually included in the story, you'd have a pretty good original novel. With the premise sticking halfway to it, readers keep on forgetting that this is supposed to be a Harry Potter fanfiction even with the names used.
- A lot of Harry Potter fanfiction goes even further, keeping the characters' names but changing their personalities and setting it in the Muggle world. Either that or a generic fantasy/medieval world with no mention of Hogwarts or wizards (Hermione is a water nymph who loves Prince Draco!).
- And then there's My Immortal, which actually does replace the wizarding subjects with Muggle subjects as well as change most of the characters' names. And as for the characters who get to keep their canon names, they're still almost never spelled correctly.
- There's a fic called Swan Princess. It's a word-for-word transcript of the film The Swan Princess with the names changed. Harry is in the place of Prince Derek and Draco is in the place of Princess Odette, meaning the story takes place in a world where marriages are arranged for same-sex children with the apparent assumption both will be gay when they grow up. (No matter that half the point of an arranged marriage is to produce children, not that the obvious obstacle there is necessarily an issue in fanfic.) Lucius Malfoy and Lily Potter are completely out of character, acting chummy with their lines stolen from King William and Queen Uberta. Despite still being male, Draco is referred to as a "princess" ("Then, happily a son was born... a princess. And he was given the name Draco." [sic])
- A few NoPixel streamers on Twitch occasionally transplant their characters from Los Santos to Hogwarts via a Harry Potter version of Garry's Mod. It's very surreal to see Gangbangers like Alabaster Slim or Dexx acting like their Hogwarts houses are street gangs.
Dexx: My issue is, we Grove Slytherin Families, and I don't be fuckin' with the Ravenclaw, 'aight? I don't. So if I see you on the block, you goin' around that spiral staircase, you gon' pay me 20 Galleon every time you see my ass, 'aight? And if you don't, it's gon' be on sight every time.
- How I Became Yours, full stop. The fact that the writer tries to pass off the Disney-esque setting as the one from the show just makes it more jarring.
- The Simpsons has plenty of Transplanted Character Fic. Examples include Our Stay With Sideshow (which made the Simpsons kids WW2 evacuees), Maid in Springfield (which aged some of the kid characters up and made them the staff of a New York hotel) and Dystopia (which was set in a Bad Future).
- Aside from the names and a few careers, Spike's Gambit has nothing to do with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Not even The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is immune.
- Many BIONICLE comedy fanfics feature the characters going to high school or opening a resturant/hotel together.
- A lot of Redwall fic is original furry fiction put on the fanfic sites to get more reviews. soulless shell is a prime example, with the only connection to the Redwall universe being that rats and the other vermin are the evil races. Main character Leif has the ability to shoot laser beams, teleport and turn into a demon, while no magical powers exist in the Redwall universe.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Blood of Beauty is a Paranormal Romance fanfic, in which the only things related to Sonic are the characters (in their appearances and personalities, as their backstories are changed). It takes place in 1880s America and focuses on Shadow the Hedgehog, a vampire hedgehog living in a vampire village deep in a cavern. He then falls in love with Blaze the Cat, a wealthy mortal living in the outside world.
- There's one Star Wars fanfic that involves a girl from Earth (in which Star Wars does exist) finding out that she's actually a Jedi after her parents die in a car crash, so she's taken to Coruscant to be trained as a Jedi. She befriends Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and later takes them to Earth where Anakin finds out that he will become Darth Vader by looking at the box for the Revenge of the Sith Xbox game. The author later revealed that it was actually an original story that she was writing and attempting to get published about a school for magic.
- The Pokémon fanfic author StaraptorEmpoleon is infamous for taking this trope to its logical extreme: it's not uncommon for her to change everything about the Pokémon characters, often up to and including their names, to the point that it often seems like the only thing they have that's connected to their canon selves is their star pokemon (if that)!
- Gears And Springs by superstarultra, a Haruhi Suzumiya AU fic in a setting without any supernatural elements or anything to connect it to the source material aside from the character names. The fic is about a human Yuki who builds a sentient, robotic Ryoko that kills all of Yuki's friends in horrible ways, and Yuki herself is Driven to Suicide.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers:
- The most prominent examples of this are the Dark Fics All He Ever Wanted and The Chosen End. It isn't even subjective opinion; the authors themselves have admitted that their fics' characterizations don't match up with the canon ones. In AHEW's case, one of the authors later admitted that they began writing the fic when they didn't have a good grasp on the Hetalia characters and that their characterization of Prussia in particular turned out to not match up with Hetalia canon at all. In TCE's case, the author went on record saying that she wrote the characters differently from canon and even once outright said that she would hate England solely because he was in love with America (and hence a threat to Russia/America, the fic's main pairing) if she wasn't able to pair him out of the way with France...and even with that modifier, you can still sense her dislike of England at various parts of the fic.
- Although, some human AU fics do qualify as victims of this trope. Birdie and the Beast, a Prussia/Canada Beauty and the Beast Film Fic, is basically a transcript of the movie with the names swapped and changed details, along with the changing of Denmark to be Gaston.
- Keep in mind also that Tropes Are Not Bad as well in that there are also a good deal of fics out there (whether the human or personified AU kind) which manage to pull this off fairly well at least. Grey Skies Over London, for instance, keeps America and England's personalities intact while building over them as the Alternate History surrounding them changes even further.
- While The Return is very well written and interesting, it has almost nothing whatsoever to do with its ostensible sources, Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon. The Ranma elements suffer from changed setting and skillset, and all the characters' personalities being utterly destroyed and transformed into something other in-story, while the Sailor Moon characters come out with personalities and abilities more or less intact, but story tone so dark as to make it almost unrecognizable.
- Similarly, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is a great story, but Ranma's been drastically changed by having almost literally been through hell, and the 'parallel' universe that the Sailor Moon characters are from is a dark Urban Fantasy complete with gods, mages, vampires, werewolves, and airships, with only lingering archetypal resemblances to the source material.
- Final Fantasy VIII: The Altimate Rewrite is not so much an attempt at passing an original story off as a fanfic as it is the writer's attempt to improve on the original by making extensive changes to just about every element of the game's setting, characters, and plot. The result is, in any case, very far removed from its source material.
- Homestuck: One popular fanfic pitted John as a Humongous Mecha pilot against the rude alien child soldier Karkat in a setting inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion; another popular AU used by many different authors makes the trolls into a cute pet race owned by the humans.
- NoHoper which throws Light Yagami into the The House of Night universe.
- A Happy Dream zigzags this. The core premise of the original series (magical girls and witches) aren't real... but they are the subject of a ton of Mythology Gags, culminating in a circus resembling Walpurgisnacht and staffed by humanized versions of the witches. The characters also go back and forth in terms of characterization; Homura in particular seems to be something of an unusual synthesis of her two personalities in the original.
- Touhou Project: There is a doujin that takes place in normal world, the main character is Youmu, and she is doing some errand for her landlady(?) Yuyuko. In doing so, she meets a lot of Touhou characters doing normal things that normal people do. For example, Eirin is running a drug store. The doujin would have made a very poignant philosophical discourse about the impermanent nature of everything. (In Japanese, they call this mono no aware.) It should be noted that this is almost a majority of Touhou doujinshi.
- Sailor Moon fandom triggered rants about the frequency of the UsaMamo AU Romance, transplanting the characters into cookie-cutter romance novel situations.
- Origin Story is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Power Girl crossover, and yet it takes place in the Marvel Universe.
- The Naruto fanfic Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox has none of the mystical jutsu, summoning magic, tailed beasts, and other ninja elements of the canon series, instead putting the characters in a (mostly) High School AU where the only elements that are truly outlandish are the rampage by the Nine Terrors in the backstory, the secret-agent aspects that appear midway through the story, and the fighting against a criminal syndicate by the teenage protagonists, not to mention the artificial intelligence the Terrors were scientifically imbued with.
- Web Animation commonly does this as a joke and/or a sort of animation test; both on YouTube and Newgrounds, taking the audio from a scene in a movie or TV show and animating it with characters from a video game is rather popular. For one example: "Robot Hell" from the Futurama episode "Hell is Other Robots", redone on YouTube using the Team Fortress 2 mercs.
- Red is an interesting case which takes the characters (roughly) from Naruto, the start of the plot outline and Marcus Zusak's uniquely idiosyncratic writing style from The Book Thief, smashes them together into a more or less original setting that is neither one nor the other, and heads off in a original direction. Sakura stands in for Liesel, Naruto for Rudy, Sasuke for Max and so on, Konoha is not a village of ninjas but a country resembling WWII-era Germany, and Germans and Jews are replaced by 'Leaves' and 'Reds'. The result is certainly unique.
- Vale's Underground had a comment on the fic saying that it could just be made into an original story rather than a RWBY fic. The writer agreed on this being the case. It takes place in a real-world setting and changes a lot. While many of the characters retain similar characterization to the canon counterparts, this could easily be considered an original story using RWBY characters.
- RWBY AU: Birds is set in a medieval setting where the Schnee's are royalty. Blake is a knight who is made into Weiss' bodyguard. While Faunus still exist, there's no sign of semblances or other RWBY trademarks.
- Many of Coeur Al'Aran's RWBY fanfics veer into this territory if they aren't just attempting to be divergent For Want Of A Nail, placing the characters into entirely different settings and switching up their character dynamics. For example, Forged Destiny transforms Remnant into a medieval setting running on RPG Mechanics where characters are born into roles like Blacksmith or Assassin, while The Unseen Hunt is a Cosmic Horror Story taking place on 2010s Earth in an American city. This is lampshaded in Arc Royale, a crossover of all the author's fics up to that point, where the "canon" Jaune remarks that most of his alternates might as well be entirely different people.
- Steven Universe:
- Eyes on Me is a series of fanfics that mainly revolve around Ruby and Sapphire and their family. The series itself diverges greatly from the actual show, such as when Peridot hangs out with the Crystal Gems much earlier than in canon or when Sapphire is related to the Diamonds through her father (who happens to be a son of White Diamond).
- Last Call is a humanized oneshot loosely inspired by the events of the series. Jasper and Lapis are exes and their relationship was abusive, but if the names were altered then it wouldn't even register as a Steven Universe fic.
- No One Said Life Was Gonna Be Fair has virtually nothing in common with its original setting. It takes loose inspiration reinterpreting the series into human terms. Lapis and Jasper's unhealthy fusion turns into a toxic relationship (with Malachite as their daughter) and Pink being Jasper's Diamond is changed to her being her superior in the army.
- There exists a Game Mod of Final Fantasy IV that turns Cecil and Rosa into Celes and Terra from Final Fantasy VI, among other changes - a literal character transplant. The dialogue and story are about 90% identical aside from this. Somehow, it ends up being surprisingly dead-on as a Terra/Celes story.
- This is more-or-less the point behind "Non/Disney" crossover fanvids. Take characters from various animated films, have them meet, and usually pair them up. Sometimes the setting of one of the works will stay the same and usually the names are intact, but even that's subject to change. Take this video where Jane and John Smith have twin daughters named Alice and Alissa. Jane and Alissa are killed in a storm, but Alissa's ghost keeps on haunting her sister even after death.
- gold star, ash sky places characters from Haikyuu!! into a setting and plot that can be described as "How to Train Your Dragon IN FEUDAL JAPAN!"
- On the topic of Dragon Rider stories with Sports Anime characters, A Warrior's Heart is an epic fantasy novel whose characters happen to share names and appearances with those of Free!.
- Soldier Wars is a Love Live! fic where the girls are adults and assassins.
- My-HiME is a Magical Girl Warrior series set in modern day Japan. Theogony is a fanfic where Natsuki is the daughter of Hades and she falls for Shizuru, who is the goddess of charm, persuasion and seduction.
- One We Must Be Killers story has this happen In-Universe. During the 65th Hunger Games, Brutus walks into a rec room and is surprised when the other victors give an amused cheer and refer to him as the man of the hour. His eyes then turn up to the TV screen where he watches a bald man whose supposed to be him (and has a bad fake District 2 accent as the romantic lead in a soap opera movie and realizes that it's supposed to be him in a completely made-up story by some Capitol filmmakers.
Brutus: Fuck me!Haymitch: (Gleefully) She's trying. She's been flinging herself at you for forty minutes. Why won't you just return her love?Brutus: He doesn't even look like me... She looks half my age.Wiress: Half your age plus seven.
- The fandom for the 2012 film adaptation of The Lorax might be one of the most wildly divergent cases in history: due to its fandom culture being heavily focused on the Once-ler, and having arisen mostly from various askblogs starring alternate-universe Once-lers or versions at different stages of the Once-ler's life, almost all stories involving the property focused exclusively on him, interacting exclusively with parallel versions of himself, typically in settings that bore no resemblance to the film's. The biggest splash of these was "Camp Weehawken", a summer-camp roleplay setting that starred exclusively Once-lers. After the fandom started shrinking, a lot of these characters simply rebranded as original characters, as the resemblance they had to even the Once-ler was essentially down to name.
- The Star Wars: The Clone Wars fanfic By the Sea is a "Codywan" "merfolk AU" romance between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Commander Cody, where Cody is an injured merman who washes up on the beach near where Obi-Wan lives, set in an otherwise mundane post-World War II America-ish setting whose only fantastical element is the existence of (also pretty mundane) merfolk. Obi-Wan and Anakin were ordinary rank-and-file World War II soldiers prior to the start of the story (Anakin didn't make it), a version of the Larses plus their nephew Luke who aren't related to Anakin Skywalker in any way have minor roles, and Jango Fett plus twelve characters who were his clones in canon, the Togruta people, Asajj Ventress, and an unseen Count Dooku are all merfolk embroiled in a war intended to be a loose analogue to the Clone Wars.
- Pokémon Crossing: While advertised as a crossover fic, the general plot takes Animal Crossing characters and puts them in the world of Pokémon, namely Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Some characters still keep their roles from canon, like Mable Able working in a clothing store, but others get new jobs, like Tom Nook as the Professor or Isabelle being a Nurse Joy stand-in.
- If I Was Your Nazi is a Kingdom Hearts fanfic that transplants the characters into a World War II-era Nazi Germany during the Holocaust and rewrites them as Nazis.
- Alphaville is a science fiction film set at some point in the future, starring Lemmy Caution, a character from a series of 1950s detective films.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Sub Rosa" was initially pitched by a freelance writer, later developed into a story credit by Jeri Taylor and a teleplay by Brannon Braga. Many felt the final product was basically the Anne Rice novel The Witching Hour - only with Doctor Crusher and a Techno Babble "ghost." Taylor denied Rice's novel as the inspiration, instead saying they were simply doing an homage to The Innocents movie and utilizing various gothic tropes.
- To Belong is a fanvid series that transplants various animated film characters into a universe where all humans have animorphism abilities. The characters used have little-to-nothing to do with their characters in their original films. For example, Pocahontas is a European noble and is the half-sister of John Rolfe and Cinderella's Prince Charming. The story revolves around a trio of poor siblings (Sinbad, Jim, and Anya) who meet Charming and help him for money, only to befriend him and get caught up in something far bigger than they expected. It's so little like the source that the creator is developing an original cartoon version by just creating new designs and changing everyone's names.
- Some of the earliest shows on Cartoon Network's [adult swim] programming block were a case of this, wherein the entire premise is the as-blatant-as-possible application of this trope to the original source material, that being short-lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon shows from the Animation Age Ghetto:
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, using characters from the original Birdman (1967) now employed at a law firm taking on defendants/guest characters from more famous cartoons of the same time period. Puts new meaning to the phrase Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.
- Sealab 2021, using characters from the original Sealab 2020 to... continue finding new depths of human stupidity in order to bring about their own demise.
- Space Ghost Coast to Coast, using characters from the original Space Ghost for a late night talk show format to lampoon live-action guests.
- The Brak Show, using secondary characters from Space Ghost in a Dom Com format, only to, in turn, steer away from this into more random territory.
- A few of The Disney Afternoon shows:
- TaleSpin takes Baloo, King Louie and Shere Khan from The Jungle Book (1967), and places them into a 1930's aviation story featuring air pirates and Communist warthogs.
- Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Chip 'n Dale, Talking Animal foils for Donald Duck, fight crime.
- Goof Troop: Goofy and Pete are suburban dads in The '90s.
- Timon & Pumbaa: World Tour buddy comedies mostly starring supporting characters from The Lion King (1994).
- Catscratch took 3 of the 4 main characters from the very dark war comic, Gear, and reimagined them as eccentric millionaires who regularly had zany, light-hearted misadventures.