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Asking "What If?" is the driving force behind most fanfics, especially Alternate Universe fics.

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     Recursive Fanfiction 

     Anime & Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess
  • The plot of Dirty Sympathy is "What if Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was a "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder" in which Klavier and Apollo, trapped in abusive relationships, agree to take down the other's abuser. Daryan Crescend didn't kill Romain LeTouse and Kristoph didn't kill Shadi Enigmar, they were both framed.
  • There have been a few fics in Axis Powers Hetalia asking what would have happened if the Americans hadn't won the American Revolution.
  • The Bleach fic Downfall works on this premise, messing freely with everything, while explicitly keeping everyone within their canon character constraints. Aizen is a plotter. Unohana is Team Mom... and she kills people with her bare hands
  • The Death Note fanfic Constant Temptation can be summed up as "What if L and Light fell in love with each other, and had to deal with Beyond Birthday?".
  • The Digimon fanfic A Girl and her Bat asks "what if Demidevimon was Kari's partner instead of Gatomon" (as well as "what if Puppetmon made a Heel–Face Turn?").
  • At least 90% of The Familiar of Zero fanfics have the same concept — "What if Louise summoned someone (or something) OTHER than Saito to be her familiar?" It's a good excuse to write a Crossover. Of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be a crossover - many stories have her summoning a more badass version of Saito, or an Original Character.
  • The Fruits Basket fanfic "Eyes of the Cat" is solely dependent on the premise that Kyo, as the cat of the zodiac, may be able to see ghosts.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist fic The Riderless Horse asks what would happen if Olivier Armstrong had been killed during the events of the Promised Day. Answer: a huge power vacuum, which gets worse when Fuhrer Grumman is assassinated and leaves Amestris with no single leader. Neither of the two opposing factions can take power - Mustang wants a bloodless coup, and General Hakuro hasn't enough support - and so events very slowly begin to spiral towards civil war.
  • Love Hina has several. Notable ones include Contract Labor (what if Keitaro WASN'T an Extreme Doormat?), An Alternate Keitaro Urashima (What if Keitaro DIDN'T take the promise so seriously?) and For His Own Sake (What if Keitaro finally wised up to the abuse he was suffering?).
    • Kid Keitaro: What if Keitaro had been 8 years old when he came to the Hinata Inn?
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Game Theory: What if Precia wasn't quite as crazy? It's rather astonishing how spectacularly the story goes Off the Rails from canon due to that small change.
  • ''Neon Genesis Evangelion
    • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In several bonus scenes the author described several alternate scenarios where Asuka became The Spectre, Raven, Etrigan, a Red Lantern... rather being Supergirl.
    • In fact, the ENTIRE concept behind the Superwomen of Eva series is "What if (insert female Eva character here) gained the powers of a female Marvel or DC superheroine?".
    • Advice and Trust is an alternate universe where Shinji kissed Asuka back when she kissed him. Some of the consequences caused by that change are: Shinji and Asuka getting together and befriending Rei, Rei falling for both teens, Hikari becoming an Eva pilot instead of Touji, Shinji never merging with Unit-01...
    • A Crown of Stars features a scenario where Shinji and Asuka's lives got worse after Third Impact until someone from another dimension took an interest in them.
    • The Child of Love is an Alternate Universe fic where Asuka had sex with Shinji and got pregnant, and that situation forced both teenagers to get their act together, fix their relationship and learn to be parents.
    • Children of an Elder God replaces the canonical Eldritch Abominations with the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos. As a result the main characters look saner but they become Humanoid Abominations, and their world is more insane, darker and bleaker.
    • Evangelion 303: What if Second Impact never happened, the Children were adult soldiers who pilot experimental jet fighters instead of mechas, and SEELE was a terrorist organization?
    • Ghosts of Evangelion explores what could have happened to Shinji, Asuka and their world after the end of the show.
    • HERZ: SEELE fails to take over NERV in 2015. SEELE is exposed, NERV becomes an UN anti-Evangelion proliferation organization, and the main characters spend the next decade getting over their psychological issues and thwarting SEELE's plans.
    • Higher Learning: What if after Third Impact, Shinji and Asuka's grandson went back in time and became their teacher to help them with their psychological issues and so averting the end of the world?
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide features an alternate universe where NERV manages through political maneuvering to avert SEELE's attack for a time, which further results in the seclude for the Human Instrumentally Project being pushed dramatically back. Shinji gets time to recover somewhat from his latest traumas and tries to fix his relationship with his family while his father and SEELE make plans for their imminent confrontation, using new puppets and tools.
  • The One Piece fanfic Though a Bird Can't Fly, That Doesn't Mean It Never Will asks the question "What if Kuina had been blinded instead of killed in her accident?"
  • John Biles' Ranma ½: Elseworlds (sadly on extended hiatus) explored variations such as "what if Ukyo stayed together with Ranma from the start?" to "what if Akane went to Jyusenkyo instead of Ranma?" to "what if the story takes place in the World of Darkness?"
  • Several Rosario + Vampire fanfics revolve around the question "what if someone OTHER than Tsukune entered Yokai Academy?". Like the Familiar of Zero example above, it's usually an excuse for a crossover, Rosario to Kiva being a notable example.
  • Sailor Moon fanfic Cardinal King asks, "What if the Senshi had been corrupted during the Silver Millennium instead of the Shitennou?".
  • Respect explores what would happen if Yayoi Kise became a Puella Magi instead of a Precure. The results aren't pretty.
  • Transformers
  • Urusei Yatsura: Love to Skate!, asks "what if Ataru WASN'T the one chosen to be Lum's opponent in that fateful game of tag?". Among other things, there's no Defeat by Modesty (Lum lets the Original Character who replaces Ataru win after he saves her from a nasty fall), and the Accidental Proposal occurs when his rhetorical question about proposing is taken out of context.

     Comic Books 

     Film - Animated 
  • Shen vs. Kai asks what Kung Fu Panda 2 would've been like had the Big Bad of Kung Fu Panda 3 also been involved.
  • This trope is the driving force for the premise behind Where There's Life, There's Hope, a The Lion King (1994) fanfic. What if Simba had actually taken Kovu when Zira "offered" him, but to protect him and give him a better life? Needless to say, everything changes.

     Film - Live Action 


     Live-Action Television 

     Video Games 
  • Die Anstalt: A Posse Ad Esse: What if Dr Wood's powers were real and tangible? What would happen if, by a fluke, they spread to every toy in the building?
  • Prompt #3 for the Star Trek Online forums' Unofficial Literary Challenge #7 asked for the writers to do this with their cast of characters. The results:
    • Marcusdkane's "Turn a Different Corner" had Marcus Kane stay on Vulcan and marry his friend T'Reya in 2363, rather than rejoining Starfleet to command the USS Akira.
    • Worffan 101's untitled entry changed a major detail of his prime universe Romulan character D'trel's backstory. Instead of D'trel's lover Adani being captured and tortured to death by the Tal'Shiar when they raided a Unificationist cell, D'trel died instead of Adani. The story then proceeds to the present to analyze the results of the less-bloody-minded Adani being the one to face Hakeev instead of D'trel.
    • StarSword's "The Road Not Taken" decided that rather than transferring to Starfleet when the Bajoran Militia disbanded its Space Navy, Kanril Eleya stayed in the Militia and became Space Police. In the present Eleya is now a captain (O-3 rather than O-6) in the Militia and the security chief of Deep Space 9. Results are mixed: while it's mentioned briefly that the Borg attack at Vega Colony resulted in the complete destruction of Starfleet's forces without Eleya having been there, Eleya herself is actually happier.

     Western Animation 

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