The creative geniuses who write our favorite shows, games, and movies are generally not open to accepting ideas from us plebeians, probably because they churn out brilliant decades-long serials that we then turn into Snape diddling the Teletubbies.
Sometimes, though, they stumble upon fan-created ideas too awesome to be ignored, to the point that they wind up included in the actual work. These range from the immortal phrase "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" to ...
#6. A 16-Year-Old Fan Inspires the Breaking Bad Finale
One of the things that made Breaking Bad a critical darling was how every little element the writers introduced to the story eventually paid off, unlike certain other shows where they just made shit up and then forgot to explain what the smoke monster was (we're looking at you, Golden Girls).
Took 'em six bloody years to reveal it was the Woman in White.
For example, two characters not seen since Breaking Bad's second season make an unexpected reappearance in the penultimate episode. When he sees his former friends Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz dissing him in a TV interview, Walter White gets the motivation he needs to finally come out of hiding, setting up the shocking events of the series finale.
It's one of those moments that made us go "Ohhh, so that's why they did that thing four seasons ago! It all comes together!" And we were completely wrong about that, because the writers weren't even planning to bring those characters back -- until they heard from Kevin Cordasco.
Pictured here with the cast, cosplaying as Skinny Pete.
That's the name of the 16-year-old with neuroblastoma whom showrunner Vince Gilligan called "our wonderful, number one fan." When Gilligan visited Cordasco during his final months, he asked him if there was anything he felt the show needed. The fan replied, "I want to know more about Gretchen and Elliott. I want to know more about Walt's backstory with them. I want to know what happened."
Gilligan hadn't thought about incorporating the characters into the plot, but Cordasco's comment gave him pause. He'd been stumped trying to figure out how to get Walt out of hiding, but as he mulled over Cordasco's suggestion, he discovered that the answer indeed lay with the Schwartzes. Writer/director Peter Gould raves about the choice, gushing, "Walt seems to change his mind there. He's all ready to get caught, and then he sees the video ..." This is made even more impressive by the fact that, if more shows incorporated ideas from teenage fans, it probably wouldn't end so well.
Unless that already happened and we just didn't notice.
How big a fan was this kid, exactly? Let's put it this way: When Gilligan, Breaking Bad's creator himself, offered to tell him how the show ended, Cordasco was like "Hey, no spoilers, man." That's dedication.
#5. Diablo's Secret Cow Level Goes from Insane Rumor to Insane Reality
During the reign of the original Diablo in the '90s, a rumor/stupid joke sprung up among players that there was a secret level where you could battle, of all things, cows. The Internet was riddled with Comic Sans-sporting GeoCities pages giving people multiple methods to access the legendary cow level, because apparently people really wanted to beat up some goddamn bovines.
The site illustrated these instructions with a GIF. It took only 45 minutes to load.
Of course, there was no such thing as the cow level -- it was just one of those wacky random jokes the Internet loves to this day ("cow level" was the "the cake is a lie" of its era). Until, that is, Diablo's creators at Blizzard saw the rumor and said "What the fuck is wrong with these people?" followed by "We should make that a real thing." The first thing they did was insert an Easter egg in StarCraft subtly informing players of the level's nonexistence (the "There is no cow level" cheat code). But then, on April 1, 1999, the following image was released without commentary as Blizzard's Screenshot of the Week:
Even back then, games paraded out poorly covered females, exposing their massive udders.
Cue a million confused nerds shouting "WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!" Some were convinced that it was a dirty April Fool's prank, while others kept the faith. The true believers were rewarded: Blizzard went ahead and included a secret cow level in Diablo II, and now you can totally decimate some bovine ass if you follow the instructions on their website (if you're into that sort of thing).
Horns, hooves, homicide ... they're like any other demon, only creepier.
#4. A Silly Nerd Argument Becomes Star Trek Canon
When you have a franchise that spans half a century, you're bound to encounter some strange continuity problems. For instance, here's how the Klingons looked during the original Star Trek series in the '60s:
Shoe polish and pubes on their faces.
And here's how they looked in the first movie a decade later:
He should have kept the bangs.
Naturally, fans wanted to know why an entire race had suddenly developed hideous ridges on their foreheads, but they were unlikely to get an answer, because everyone already knew the real reason -- namely, that the entire original series was shot for like five bucks (most of which went to strengthening William Shatner's man girdle), while the movies and subsequent shows actually had a budget to spend on makeup and prosthetics to make the aliens look like aliens.
And so it was left to the fans to debate a slew of evolutionary theories in the ensuing decade that might explain why some Klingons look like humans and some look like Italian hobbits who got a face full of acid. Some claimed getting freaky with the local species on other planets was to blame, while others insisted that it was simply natural selection in those new environments. The prevailing theory was a genetic mutation somewhere along the line, and it was this theory at which series creator Gene Roddenberry apparently shrugged his shoulders and said, "Good enough."
Larry D. Moore
"Hell, those spinoff series are all just fan fiction anyway."
Fans first got to hear their own words repeated on the screen in a 1996 episode of Deep Space Nine, when the contemporary characters see some of the original series Klingons via time travel and ask: "What happened? Some kind of genetic engineering? A viral mutation?" But the money shot didn't come until Season 4 of Enterprise, in which it's finally explained that the Klingons had in fact dabbled with genetic engineering, but being a race better suited to killing rather than sciencing, it didn't go so well. Some died, while others who mutated temporarily lost their beautiful, beautiful ridges.
As a result, something that fans had endlessly argued about during conventions became an official part of the fictional Star Trek universe. It turns out that sometimes, when you stare into the abyss of Trekkie fandom, it stares back into you.