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One of the worst insults you can say to a professional creator is "This is like something a fan would make." Usually, that means it's really, really bad, or that they made some characters fuck for no reason. However, there are times when a fan ascends from the unwashed masses and presents a completely self-made work that kicks the original's ass -- so much that the pros have no choice but to make it official. Here are some times the fans schooled the official makers on how to do their jobs:

7
Sherlock Builds An Entire Episode Out Of Internet Fan Theories

BBC

Spoilers for those who haven't watched Sherlock: At the end of the second season, the modern-day Sherlock Holmes falls off a building and dies. Spoilers again: Wait, no he doesn't. It turns out he faked his death! So how did he do it? The show kindly gave fans two years to come up with their own theories ... and then pillaged those theories in an episode making fun of them.

The first episode of season three begins by replaying the scene in which Sherlock falls off the building -- only this time, we see that he bounces back up, because he's wearing a bungee cord.

BBC
"The hardest part was not yelling 'WHEEEEEEEE!'"

He then smashes through a window, pops the collar of his trench coat, and makes out with Molly, the cute timid girl who's loved him all along. Of course, all of this turns out to be a fantasy sequence, as some characters in the show speculate about how Sherlock could have saved himself. But here's the thing: Every part of that sequence was based on a real fan theory. The bungee cord idea was a popular one:

Moviepilot.com
That's actually Benedict Cumberbatch's lizard tail.

As for Molly, fans have written over 4,000 stories in which they hook up ... and around 1,000 in which he makes out with his enemy Moriarty instead. So naturally, that also warranted inclusion in this episode:

The whole storyline was a series of fan theories the writers poached from the Internet, sticking them right in the show. The characters in the episode even use a (real) hashtag called #SherlockLives. In the end, Sherlock (both the character and show) refuses to explain exactly how he lived, causing the leader of his fan group to throw a big hissy fit. OK, please let us know in the comments if you know what inspired that part, because we have no idea.

6
Counter-Strike Is Entirely The Result Of Fans Screwing Around With Half-Life

Valve

Valve is famous for their excellent games, their mods, and for never ever releasing Half-Life 3. They're also famous for Counter-Strike, which remains one of the most-played (and most-watched) multiplayer games in the world, despite having been released around the same time as goddamn The Matrix. There are people reading this right now who are younger than Counter-Strike. It's one of the most influential games ever. It's also one of the most lucrative, having awarded over $10 million in prizes to eSports players.

ESL
Probably not exactly what all their moms meant when they
said to get off the couch and do something, but hey.

So what's the fan-made part here? Well, Counter-Strike. Like, all of it. The whole kit and caboodle. Remember that Half-Life franchise we were complaining about earlier? (Seriously, Valve. Seriously.) Counter-Strike started as a mod for it -- i.e. two random fans took the basic framework of the game and tinkered with it until they got something different.

Valve
It all started when they tried to explain the plot to their friends and said,
"You know what, terrorists. It's about terrorists."

Maybe the coolest part was how Counter-Strike not only started as a fan idea, but all of its levels were then created by fans of that fan idea (the game's creators have said that they had "nothing to do with map development"). Eventually, Valve took notice and went "Fuck yeah," buying it and shoving it out for the PC. Where it's stayed. Still being played.

Unlike Half-Life 3.

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5
Lego Fans Make Back To The Future, Minecraft, And Ghostbusters Sets (And More) Happen

LEGO

While their movies and video games have been making roughly all of the money lately, for a while, you only heard about the Lego toys themselves when some obsessive soul used them to recreate something nerdy and it went viral -- like the Batcave, or a full-sized X-Wing, or a house you can live in (nerds love having shelter from the elements). A few years ago, the Lego Group thought "Hey, we wanna go viral too!" and decided to start making more pop-culture-related sets. The problem lay in deciding which properties to adapt. They didn't want to end up losing money when no one bought their Lego Golden Girls set.

lostsleep/LEGO
Oh, come on. Way to ruin our joke, reality.

The solution was to outsource that part to the fans. They opened the Lego Cuusoo website, later renamed Lego Ideas (probably because everyone kept asking what the fuck a cuusoo is), in which anyone can suggest a potential Lego set, and others vote on the ideas. If your proposed set wins, you get one percent of the sales. Predictably, a lot of the most popular projects are based on famous movies or shows, and that's how we ended up with blocky time-traveling DeLoreans ...

LEGO
When they do the "Biff's Car" set, it's gonna come with a little sachet full of cow shit.

Blocky ghost-busting Cadillacs ...

LEGO
"Anatomically correct Walter Peck figure sold separately."

And blocky ... blocks.

LEGO
The Creepers are just your big brother who comes in and wrecks everything.

All ideas that reach 10,000 supporters are reviewed by the company, which determines if it's realistic/appropriate/cost-effective to release them (sorry, 4chan; no Lego Goatse). Not all the winners are licensed properties, though. There's been a bunch of other neat stuff to come from there, ranging from this weird marble maze thing ...

LEGO
Yes, you can now play with your Legos.

To this badass Lego exo suit.

LEGO
The Lego spaceman isn't happy about that time you dropped him in the toilet.

But perhaps the most radical idea to come out of this project is the (now sold-out) Lego set featuring all-female figures ... who don't dress in pink.

LEGO
And who have jobs other than "princess" or "BFF."

But then again, taking ideas from other people is a tradition that goes back to LEGO's shady beginnings, so maybe we shouldn't be so surprised.

4
Glee Flat-Out Rips Off A Fan

20th Television

Apparently, being a Glee fan isn't punishment enough in itself; they also have to watch as the show they love rips off their ideas. We've written an entire article about their douchebagginess, but at least in that instance, people gave a shit when the show stole a song. Not so much in the case of the fan who created a recurring element of the show, and only found out when it aired on TV.

In Glee, the chirpy cheerleader character has a webseries called "Fondue for Two," in which she interviews people over hot cheese. It's exactly as annoying as you're imagining.

That's a quite specific idea right there -- and one that young fan Teresa Musumeci had just happened to share with a member of the cast months earlier. During a live Glee show, Musumeci wrote a fan letter for Cory Monteith and gave it to a security guard, who later passed it on to the actor. How do we know that for sure? Because Monteith, who it seems flunked "Ripping Off Fans 101" at acting school, came back and personally told the teen that he'd read it.

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"Uh, unless we end up robbing you, I mean. Then I didn't."

In the letter, Musumeci mentioned her idea for a YouTube show called "Fondue for Two," in which she would interview people over hot cheese. She wasn't volunteering it or anything; she mentioned it because she was proud of it. The producers were also pretty proud of having found the idea, and incorporated it into the show. Now guess what the fan got in return. A cameo? Some money? The slightest bit of recognition? Jack shit? Yeah, it's that last one. It was only after the story was covered by the media that the producers sent her a signed script.

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3
Team Fortress 2's Announcer Is Based On A Fan's DeviantArt Post

Valve

Team Fortress 2 is a surreal and highly original multiplayer shooting game about two identical teams, one blue and one red, trying to kill each other and ... OK, that doesn't sound so original. But trust us, it's fun.

Razputin/YouTube
Yeah, that about covers it.

As you're playing, an older woman's voice will announce events, objectives, and generally let you know how much you're screwing up the match. Her tone ranges from "pissed off" to "sitting on the washing machine." Who is she? Why is she helping both sides? TF2's creators at Valve wouldn't say, mainly because they had no idea. Naturally, fans wouldn't have that, and some started offering their own interpretations of the (nonexistent) character. In 2008, LiveJournal user buttfacemakani posted a drawing of what she imagined "the announcer" looked like on her DeviantArt page:

Heather Campbell
She appears to have the same tailor as Tommy Lee Jones circa 1995.

Makani's art quickly went viral. Cut to a year later, when TF2 finally revealed the face of the mysterious character (now named "The Administrator"), and what do you know, she looked oddly familiar ...

Valve
Say, what color do blue and red make when mixed together?

Was it parallel thinking? Did Ryan Murphy start working at Valve? Nope: They bought the design from Makani (whose real name, disappointingly, was Heather Campbell and not "Butt Face"). Inspired by her work, they expanded the character from a disembodied voice to an evil mastermind pitting both teams against each other in a game update and the accompanying comic. Makani herself got to draw and even write some of the comics, using other fans' theories as inspiration. Official comics based on fan art of an official game character based on fan art? We feel like we should reference a Christopher Nolan movie here, but we're not sure which one.

Alcon Entertainment
Fansomnia?

2
Dungeons & Dragons' Forgotten Realms Were Created By A Six-Year-Old Boy

Wizards of the Coast

The entire Dungeons & Dragons franchise is based on the concept of sitting at a table and making shit up. But if you don't provide a context for players to do so, most of the games would probably end up being about sneaking into the girls' locker room, or stuff like that. That's where the Forgotten Realms come in. The Realms (as the cool kids call them) are the most popular setting for D&D's many game campaigns and novels. It's an elaborate fantasy land filled with magical creatures, brave warriors, and way fewer dick shots than Game Of Thrones.

Wizards of the Coast
And beards. Don't forget the beards.

And speaking of creatures, the Realms were invented, whole cloth, by one of God's most terrible beasts: a six-year-old boy. His name was Ed Greenwood, and he invented the place, in part, to entertain his dad. As a kid in the '60s, Greenwood would write fantasy stories set in his own world and pass them to his father, who typed them out and "shared them with his colleagues." Unlike in your dad's case, however, this wasn't code for "used them to cover the floor when the toilet overflowed."

Wizards of the Coast
Curiously, the end result looked like this in both cases.

Later, when Greenwood started playing D&D, he used his ever-growing Forgotten Realms as the setting for his campaigns, and began publishing articles describing the place in detail. His creation spread among D&D players like an STD that only affects virgins. It got to the point that the people in charge of the game eventually gave up and bought the Realms to make them the official setting, displacing the world invented by Dungeons & Dragons' actual creators. Since then, they've been used for comics, games of the video variety, and hundreds of novels -- a good chunk of which Greenwood wrote.

Wizards of the Coast, John LaSala/Wikipedia
We're not sure if the upper part of the cover is a character illustration or his author photo.

And don't think you're safe from the Forgotten Realms just because you can't read, tough shit. There's a new Dungeons & Dragons movie coming, and it's gonna be set there.

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1
Doctor Who Adopts A Fan's Fake Opening As The Real One

BBC

Being older than most continents, Doctor Who has changed a lot over the years. Even the main character's look is wildly inconsistent from season to season, to the point where you'd think he's being played by different actors. On the other hand, one of the things that have stayed relatively the same is the show's trippy, spacey opening. You could put every title sequence in one video and they'd bleed into each other perfectly. In fact, someone already did that:

That is, until season eight (or series 34, if you go by the metric system) came along in 2014 and shook things up by trading the space theme for a bunch of clocks jumping at you:

What gives? It turns out that Steven Moffat, the current Doctor Who showrunner, stumbled upon a fan-made title sequence on YouTube and liked it so goddamn much that he hit up the creator (we should probably be thankful that he wasn't browsing other types of streaming sites). Usually, when a creator responds to something a fan posted on YouTube, it's more along the lines of "I'm calling the authorities." But in this case, it allowed Moffat to regenerate the opening in time for the show's big relaunch.

However, it's not really that weird that Moffat would turn to fandom for inspiration, since he's done it before. In 1995, a bunch of fans were arguing about Doctor Who online (which accounted for 73 percent of the Internet back then) when one suggested a "particularly stupid theory": that the reason we have the term "doctor," as meaning a healer or wise man, is because of the Doctor muddling about throughout history. Sixteen years later, Moffat put that exact explanation in the show.

So who was that fan whom Moffat ripped off?

Steven Moffat via Google

Yeah, he was that fan. Hopefully, young Moffat has access to a time-traveling police call box so he can initiate legal action.

Sometimes fans are just way more creative. Like the person who determined SkyNet keeps humans around to give it purpose in 6 Insane But Convincing Fan Theories About Popular Movies. Or check out 6 Pieces Of Fan Art That Are Better Than The Original and check out a remastered Star Wars series way better than what Lucas put out.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and see some fans that went too far in The 7 Creepiest Simpsons Fan Tributes, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!

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