Fanfiction or 'fanfics' are pieces of writing completed by fans about their favorite subjects in popular culture.

Just The Facts

  1. The writing and reading of fanfiction is a huge, thriving internet subculture that is only growing in popularity.
  2. Fanfiction is usually written about TV shows, movies and books, but can also include everything from sports players to punk bands.
  3. Fanfiction is really, really weird.

Cracked on Fanfiction

Fanfiction had its beginnings among Star Trek fans in the 70's, who would trade homemade zines with collected stories about their favorite characters. It remained a niche market until the invention of the Internet by Al Gore, which faciliated the creation of at least 700 thousand billion fanfics every year.

Fans repaid the favor to Gore by writing this.

For some extreme versions of weird sex, see The 5 Most Baffling Sex Scenes in the History of Fanfiction.

Gen Fanfiction

Gen or 'general' fanfiction is fanfiction without an erotic focus. Or is rumored to be, as nobody has every actually seen one.

Above: Gen fanfiction.

Erotic Fanfiction

Above: erotic fanfiction.

Authors of erotic fanfiction

The main writers and readers of all kinds of fanfiction are women, but the ladies particularly dominate this genre. This might be due to the need of many women to experience emotional as well as visual stimuli to enjoy sex fully. Fanfic comes with emotional bonds to the characters already built-in: these have been formed during the fan's prior experience of the book/show/music/whatever.

This saves the female reader all the time she would have wasted reading a romance novel, slowly building up a 200-page bond with the characters in order to finally get to the sex. Instead, having already invested the time to read Harry Potter, the reader can immediately dive into an unlimited supply of hot Lupin/Snape action.

Which isn't to say men don't write fanfiction, It just tends to all be all about them boning a female character with the addition of "Oh yeah and we were on a spaceship or something."

Examples of male and female fanfiction.

Erotic fanfiction can be divided into three main categories: slash, het and femmeslash.


Slash, or fanfiction including a sexual relationship between two male characters, began with female Star Trek fans noticing that Spock and Kirk kind of had a thing. Which let's admit, they did. Come on, that massage scene. Goddam.

Fans started calling the pairing 'Spock/Kirk' or 'Spock slash Kirk', and a genre was born.

The love that launched a thousand ships. The 'Spock and Kirk Bathe Erotically In a Bathtub of Blood While Floating In Space' genre is a small but important part of Star Trek fandom.

Although slash portrays homosexual relationships, normal gay couples having sex are apparently not enough fun for fanfic authors, and apparently also kind of gross. It is preferable that the two male characters depicted in slash are not at all involved canonically. In fact, the ideal slash couple is two heterosexual males who are sworn mortal enemies, and also related. This makes the sex more interesting or something.

Slash is also sometimes called 'yaoi' among white people who think they are Japanese.


This is like slash, but with women. Typically less common than het and slash, possibly because of fanfiction's heavily female readership.

Femmeslash is often called 'yuri' among the we-think-we're-from-Japan crowd.


Het is erotic fanfiction between a male and female character. Fans writing het tend to try to make up for its inherent boringness by being really weird. Some het doesn't fit this category and simply portrays a heterosexual couple expressing their canonical love in healthy, life-affirming ways. This makes up about .0001% of all fanfiction.

Het does not have an alternative Japanese name, because the genre does not actually exist in Japan.

Fanfiction Genres

Mary Sues

Mary Sue fanfiction can be tolerable at times, when the author basically admits that she is just writing down a fantasy about a desired character having sex with her. More often, though, the author is in very deep denial, and the resulting Mary Sues are both annoying and occasionally disturbing.

The traits of a Mary Sue character include:

  • A striking appearance, enough to melt the heart of even the hardest character (the original 'Mary Sue', created in a Star Trek parody in the 70's, was so awesome that even Spock fell in love with her)
  • Effortless success at everything
  • Special powers - telekinesis, super strength, or just being really, really hot
  • If she does suffer any hardship, will recover from it instantly and cheerfully. Such hardships are more common than you'd expect in Mary Sue fanfics, and their nature (torture, rape, etc) often reveals disturbing elements of the writer's subconscious, so that the reader sometimes feels like they need to wash themselves afterwards.

A typical Mary Sue might thus feature a beautiful young maiden who is skilled with both sword and bow but who somehow manages to get herself gang-raped by Orcs. She is then nursed back to health by Legolas, who falls in love with her and cures her trauma with his boner.

For the best example of a Mary Sue ever written, see My Immortal.

Mary Sues have been known to cross the boundaries of fanfiction and become mainstream pop culture.


A long time ago a woman sat down at her desk and thought "How can I best combine my maternal and nurturing instincts with my massive personality disorder?" Thus the genre of hurt/comfort was born.

Hurt/comfort involves an (inevitably male) character being psychologically or physically abused or tortured and then being comforted and helped by another character. This healing character can be female (usually a Mary Sue) or male.

A typical Hurt/Comfort fic might thus feature a beautiful young hobbit who is skilled with both sword and bow but who somehow manages to get himself gang-raped by Orcs. He is then nursed back to health by Legolas, who falls in love with him and cures his trauma with his boner.

Like Mary Sues, this type of fanfiction occasionally crosses over into the mainstream.


AU or 'alternate universe' fanfiction uses characters from a particularly fandom after removing them from the context of anything interesting at all.

For example, a Twilight AU fanfiction might star Edward Cullen as a chartered tax accountant who falls in love with his client Bella, and the torture he goes through when he realizes he has a secret and inexplicably powerful desire to report her to the IRS.


We don't talk about mpreg around here.


If the idea of fictional characters having sex isn't disturbing enough for you, you might want to try Real Person Fic, or RPF, which instead uses real people, usually celebrities, for its characters.

This genre is dominated by 'RPS' or Real Person Slash, or the erotic portrayal of two male celebrities. This is understandable, because there just aren't enough occasions in popular Western culture when two heterosexual bandmates, actors or co-anchors have fallen in love and had hot hot sex while letting their female fans watch, and we have got to do something about this, god dammit.

Fanart and Fanvids

In recent years, with the advent of Photoshop and video software, fanfiction has spread beyond the realms of text and into other media. We think that this happened when Satan decided that accidentally stumbling upon Harry/Draco slash fiction wasn't mentally traumatizing enough, and decided to invent a way to transform it into a more memorable form. Several demonic possessions later, manips were born.

We warned you.

Fanvids are made by selecting short clips from movies or tv shows and rearranging them into a short clip, usually set to music. These videos either focus on a certain character or aspect of the show or movie (for example, this person really likes Sylar from Heroes) or create an entirely new imaginary story (this person really likes two other characters from Heroes). A skillful vidder can even achieve a crossover fanvid, in which, for example, someone finally kicks the shit out of Edward Cullen.

The most famous fanvid ever is a Spock/Kirk video set to Nine Inch Nails' Closer, based on the Star Trek episode Amok Time. This video has obtained widespread mainstream acceptance and is now largely regarded as canon. It was screened during the 2008 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, with running commentary provided by William Shatner.

Other Elements of Fanfiction


OTP stands for 'One True Pairing' and refers to a fanfic writer's fixation on a particular couple, whether it is canonical or non-canonical. Fixating like this on a particular couple is known as shipping. The most famous example of shippers in action is the Harry Potter fans who became obsessed with the non-canonical Harry/Hermione pairing and became distraught with rage when Harry ended up with another woman.

Creator Reactions

Reactions of character creators to fanfiction have been varied, from polite acknowledgment to legal threats to having their character discuss out loud how disturbing and weird some types of fanfiction are. Fans reacted to all of these things by writing 9,000,000 new fanfics.