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

A sufficiently established franchise is indistinguishable from fanfiction.

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 emerge in the "Canon" material.

Note the First:

This is not inherently a bad thing. Don Rosa, for example, produced brilliant Fan Boy Continuity Porn based on the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics of Carl Barks. Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman produced critically-acclaimed works by tapping into the rich manure of the comic book superhero mythology; of Moore's best-known works, only V for Vendetta isn't any kind of adaptation of a previous franchise or character (Watchmen is a rework of a book that was planned to include classic Charlton/DC ones such as The Question, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom). The alternative, hiring people who are not fans, also has its issues.

Note the Second:

"Indistinguishable" means indistinguishable. At some point, the only meaningful difference between "canon" and "fanfic" is a paycheck from the current copyright holder.

It's as though the inmates are running the asylum.

These are signs of some of the problems that can result:

Note that a lot of these tend to show up in fanfiction before this trope makes them Canon, hence the axiom at the top of the page.

On the plus side, Running the Asylum can be a cure for stagnation of a series, with the fans bringing in a fresh perspective.

See also Ascended Fanon; Promoted Fanboy; Wall Banger; Dork Age; Canon Defilement.

Not to be confused with the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether" or the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, in which the inmates actually do run the asylum.

Examples of Running the Asylum include:

Comic Books

  • This happens quite often in superhero comics, and is the primary reason why both the The DCU and Marvel have their own sections on the Dork Age page.
  • The DCU has been a prime example since the 1970s, at least, when Roy Thomas got handed an entire Earth of his own, to play around with all of the familiar tropes of Fanfic.
    • 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.
    • 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 revealing to actually be the Alien Scrappy 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 Re Boot 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 Running the Asylum.
    • In particular, Dan Didio, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison made it their mission to retcon just about everything that happened in the DCU since Crisis on Infinite Earths. This includes:
      • Brining back the Multiverse with Infinite Crisis and 52.
      • Bringing back the original Supergirl - with a possible Take That at the previous writing/editing team by killing off Harbinger in the miniseries that restored Supergirl (Supergirl was killed and Harbinger introduced in the first Crisis.)
      • Returning Power Girl to being Kara Zor-El from Earth-2 instead of the princess of Atlantis.
      • The Big One: Retconning Emerald Twilight with Green Lantern: Rebirth, reviving Hal Jordan and revealing that Sinestro and an intergalactic fear bug were responsible for Hal becoming Parallax. Of course, even the writer of Emerald Twilight admitted this was a good move...
      • Reviving Barry Allen in Final Crisis — this one wasn't met as well with fans since they had long accepted Barry's Heroic Sacrifice. Didio even bragged in a DC Nation column about how he only took on the job to bring back Hal and Barry.
        • Wally West remains a fan favorite despite his current MIA status in the reboot. He is not the only sidelined speedster. Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, and Jesse Quick are also missing. DC's going to have to deal with questions about Wally for a while, and even the current Flash creative team has expressed an interest in bringing him back--and given their status as rising stars at DC, they may get their wish. DC's all or nothing attitude is odd especially given that DC has several Robins (and ex-Robins) as well as multiple Earth Green Lanterns, pretty much all of whom are still active as of New52 (except poor Stephanie Brown, who seems to be some kind of an inverted Creator's Pet).
      • 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".
        • The primary architects of the Modern DCU (Didio, Johns and Morrison) all are fans of the Silver Age and have made efforts to bring aspects of that era back into the zeitgeist with books such as 52, Final Crisis and All-Star Superman.
        • 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 Dark Age instead."
        • Curiously, some of this seems to have been undone by the New 52. Ryan Choi is The Atom again, Kendra Saunders is Hawkgirl, Jason Rusch is still a Firestorm, and so on.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • To sum up, every continuity and/or character and/or story element any fan is championing or crying at the loss of or pushing for the return of is the product of someone running the asylum at some point. Silver, Bronze and Dark Age. It's just one big vicious circle.
  • Marvel Comics got into this a bit slower(they started five years later) but is 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 twenty-four 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.
      • And he ordered Jean Grey Killed Off for Real and prevents writers from bring 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.
      • Hank Pym is also a widower, after killing off his wife, claiming he's also "more interesting" without her.
      • Quesada seems to have some major issues with wives (but not with moms, which is why Invisible Woman, Jessica Jones, and the Spider-Girl continuity's version of Mary Jane are spared).
      • Really, just take a look at his own page.
  • Arguably, the famous "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" is a result of this. Gerry Conway was a Promoted Fanboy, who didn't care for Gwen and thought Peter should hook up with Mary Jane. So he basically had Gwen die for his ship. BUT, this is still unconfirmed. Acording to official sources, Gwen was killed off because Conway wanted to kill off Aunt May, but the editors wouldn't let him, and told him to kill off Gwen instead. Its not confirmed if it was indeed a case of him personally proffering Mary Jane.
    • Actually, he clears this up somewhat in a graphic novel compilation of the original Clone Saga. The idea of killing Gwen Stacy was already being bandied about when he became the writer, he was simply the guy who executed it. He does admit that he thought Mary Jane was a better love interest for Peter, but more 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."
  • Cyclops is a controversial case; some people think that he's one of the few to show realistic emotions to the things that happened to him, while others considered him an underused, overangsted wuss. Recent writers have cut back on the angst and placed him in the role of a battle general that does whatever it takes for Mutants to survive, which has caused some fans to believe that the writers are now making Cyclops go too far the other way.
    • Although as far as many readers are concerned, all of this takes a backseat to Cyclops' tendency to be a huge prick.
  • While we're at it, lets 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. Dragonball Z also has a distinct influence on Invincible.
    • Geoff Johns: mid-1980's Roy Thomas & 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 stories 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. Brubaker's just that good.
  • Jeph Loeb has been pretty apparent for this with his Superman/Batman series and the "Hush" arc of Batman (putting characters in with no explanation).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is now being written by 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. This has been met with a mixed reception that largely depends on where on the internet you go; of course, this is the Sonic fandom.
    • Some complaints include Did Not Do the Research, derailing several characters, some of which 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, 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. All he's missing is Vector saying "Find the computer room".
  • 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 Mary Suetopia, and Storm from X-Men was given a giant amount of Character Derailment so she could marry BP and have everybody near him carry 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 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. Fans don't mind.
  • Artist example: ask Lenili Yu to draw a scene with multiple superheroes, or large battle with them. Possibility that you can find his beloved character, Howard the Duck, in it, even if he wasn't mentioned on the character's list, equals 100%.
  • Elf Quest 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 were 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 a recent 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 given he's still working on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it doesn't seem to have occurred yet.
  • 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 [1].
  • The current writer of Amazing Spider-Man Dan Slott has said several times that he has always wanted to write Spider-Man and it is his dream job. One of the cases where it isn't bad because his run on the series is one of the best received by both fans and critics.


  • Star Wars as well; a lot of Expanded Universe writers started turning their favorite characters into Mary Sues or The Woobie, or otherwise derailing characters to fit their own fantasies. Popular targets in Star Wars include Luke, Mara, Boba Fett, and, for some reason, Talon Karrde. Note that Mara and Karrde are ironically Expanded Universe characters themselves — that is, they're fan-created characters who became popular enough to be derailed by other fans.
    • Dr. Curtis Saxton became a technical adviser for the prequels and wrote the "Incredible Cross-Sections" supplemental books for Episodes II & III entirely because of the impressive detail of his website, "The Star Wars Technical Commentaries". Of course, it probably helps in not only having a PHD in astrophysics, but also in 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 Star Wars to win the online vs. debate.
  • The Resident Evil movies are not canon, but whatever canon characters that appear ending up playing second fiddle to the Mary Sue protagonist, played by the writer-director's love interest.
    • A blink-and-miss newspaper clip of an 'Officer Kennedy' being shot and killed, in any other series, it'd be a joke, but just infuriating when it's clear no one could steal Miss Sue's spotlight.
  • The timeframe is relatively small, but the Death Note movies arguably 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 is a textbook example. Bryan Singer, having turned the extremely convoluted, Space Opera-esque X-Men universe into two down-to-earth, accessible and critically acclaimed hits, was hired on the assumption that he'd do the same with Superman. The problem 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 his 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 is currently underway.
  • Whit Anderson, the writer for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Continuity Reboot, is a fan of the Joss Whedon series who was the same age as Buffy when the show was first running.


  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series now consists almost entirely of puns and plot coupons taken from reader fan mail. He even gives credits in his Author's Note at the end of each book for each reader suggestion he decided to use.
    • The series has been like this since at least the 4th book — and he's up to the 34th now. 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 even trying to actually write stories, and just stringing the thousands of puns he's sent together and calling them books.
        • Anthony has repeatedly displayed a great deal of insight into the mind of publishers and the consumer public, and a rather cynical view on it. 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 actually bothering to write a story.
  • H.P. Lovecraft actually 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.
    • Albeit, this was around eighty years ago and his fanbase was relatively small, so most of his fanfiction came from respectable authors.

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) got cast as The Scrappy, Adric. Around the same time another fan, Andrew Smith, had a script accepted. A few years later überfan Ian Levine co-wrote a (not-very-well-received) script for "Attack of the Cybermen" (as well as writing the music for K-9 & Company, a Spin-Off that died at Pilot stage). In the late '80's, 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, though 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, 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.
    • The new series has this from the get-go; Russell T. Davies, naturally, was a huge fan. Current showrunner Steven Moffat is also an überfan.
    • Going by the Appreciation Index for certain episodes from both writers (notably "The Stolen Earth"), this may not have been bad for the new series.
      • And don't forget the hat-trick of Hugo Awards that Moffat has won. He has consistently written episodes that are not only great episodes of Doctor Who but great episodes of TV and Science Fiction in general, all the while going against some of the elements of Doctor Who that have routinely been criticized over the years (the often very high death-toll).
      • 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.
  • In Star Trek Paramount 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 Enterprise merits special mention here. The producers of every modern Trek show 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.
    • Arguably all of Enterprise, which deliberately harked 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 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, 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 Reimagined. Needless to say, he seems to be an especially talented "promoted fanboy."
    • Apparently, J.J. Abrams was chosen to be the creator of the new movie because he was only a casual fan of the series. Similarly, 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.
      • While Abrams was admittedly a casual fan, his colleagues and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are themselves admitted fanboys.
    • 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 the original Star Trek 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 had just as much to do with the cast and showrunner Jonathan Tzachor[1] 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 could Jen and Wes have a happier ending than previously thought, but so could 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.
  • 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 were 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 were in the air force and so could not have romantic relationships). Also fans pointing out mistakes 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 actually written by a (critically acclaimed) fanfic writer who was approached by the creators of the show and asked to write a bunch of episodes.

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)).

Tabletop Games

  • There's always been a backlash against the Space Marines for being Warhammer 40000's flagship army (Space Marine merchandise sells more than everything else combined) and therefore getting the lion's share of promotion, support, and updates while other armies can go whole editions without a new rulebook or model. And then there's the Ultramarines. As the "default" Space Marine chapter and therefore one of the most popular they get a double-whammy of popularity backlash, but to make matters worse the latest Space Marines Codex was written by a huge Ultramarines fanboy. Not only is the chapter hyped even more in the latest canon, but the Codex repeatedly mentions how other chapters - even fellow First Founding chapters like the Imperial Fists, White Scars, Salamanders or Raven Guard, each with their proud histories and distinct characterization - all consider the Ultramarines' primarch to be their "spiritual liege" and strive to emulate the peerless example of the Ultramarines. Even Ultramarines players are dismayed.
    • In similar vein, the same author has created a near-to entirely fanbase spanning Hatedom due to his other creations, namely the Grey Knights Codex. While other codices of his making are simply overpowered or written poorly, the Grey Knights codex introduces what many consider the flattest Mary Sue the franchise has ever seen, as well as many egregious contradictions to the longest-standing of the universe's fluff.
      • This wiki: [2] has more information on the man himself and his foul craftings, albeit in a more NSFW and rage-laden manner.
  • 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.
      • Not by everyone; a good part of the section of fans that aren't Solar Exalted fanboys are not pleased with what they see as their current Creator's Pet status.
  • Dungeons and Dragons had several reasons for this even aside of House Rules tradition meeting Internet communities. "3rd party" supplements having little to do with established canon on any issue are okay and in D&D3 era even inevitable (due to OGL). Development for settings dropped while switching to new editions was taken over by fan communities, as some sort of Abandon Ware. And the new generation of designers ran free even through WotC/Hasbro sourcebooks supposed to be Canon. A good thing for uncharted areas, but all too often it wasn't expansion, but walking over established parts so obliviously you almost hear "Squee!" from the page. Things could go smoother if this didn't coincide with the time when focus shifted from modelling specific settings to expanding universal rules, for 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 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 will contain the ways to use it in every existing setting... even desert ones.
    • Magic of Incarnum — fans noticed what it was about.
  • Magic: The Gathering actually 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.


  • 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 so much the 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.
  • NeverSoft were Big Name 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", Mission Pack Sequels, Fake Difficulty, Mission Pack Sequels, more Mission Pack Sequels and the death of the series through market oversaturation of Mission Pack Sequels.
  • 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.
  • A great deal of Touhou character interpretation by the fandom is based more on doujin comics and IOSYS music videos than on in-game dialogue.
  • It is actually a common practice for MMORPGs to hire well-known MMORPG players to write up quests.
  • 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 Fanboy, 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.

Web Original

  • Happens repeatedly on this very wiki.
  • The Slender Man Mythos actually 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.


  • Exiern, 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. The first of these main writers to be selected from within the fanbase is Thomas Knapp.

Western Animation

  • Transformers Animated is what happens when fans Running the Asylum 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 who doesn't suck, and a very, very happy audience.
  • 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.
    • Not to mention the fact that 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 were always 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.
    • 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 with 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, which is often mentioned on the SW websites and DVD extras. Other than the overuse of "Bad feeling about this", there is no real difference now that the inmates have control.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has a variation on this. Lauren Faust, the main creative force for the show, 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 lazy commercials to sell toys, and made a show with interesting characters, good writing, and nice animation. (the last one is quite a feat considering it uses Adobe Flash)

Real Life

  • To the victor go the history book deals.
  • Every classical historian writing after Thucydides is essentially a promoted fanboy of his who has control over what we know about their world.
  • 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 mouth puppet. Diogenes of Sinope had some scathing opinions on the subject.
  1. who is known for being a fanboy... of the Super Sentai source material, mandating that his Power Rangers seasons skew as closely to the original Sentai programs as possible; a mentality that led to previous head writer Judd Lynn quitting at the end of Power Rangers Time Force.