Fanon and fan fiction are terms used to refer to "fan canon" and unofficial fiction written by fans. Harry Potter fan fiction is a way for fans of the series to explore themes and ideas that are not explored via the books by J.K. Rowling. However, in discussing the novels and films, care must be taken not to mistake fanon, and material within fan fiction, with official canon.
Fanon can take the form of personal beliefs held by individuals, such as hypothesising on characters' eventual spouses and children. Examples of this are that Rubeus Hagrid married Olympe Maxime or that Argus Filch married Irma Pince. There is no basis for either of these statements in canon, and is most likely "wish-fulfillment" by the fans who wish to see their favourite characters happy.
Another example of this form of canon is the identity of James Potter's parents. Some maintain that they are Charlus Potter and Dorea Black, who appear on the Black family tree, and had one son. While it seems to fit James' backstory as an only child, J. K. Rowling had never stated this to be the case, and ultimately on Pottermore she revealed James Potter's parents to be Fleamont Potter and Euphemia Potter.
Alternately, fanon can explain discrepancies between the Harry Potter films, such as why Albus Dumbledore's appearance changed between the films of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, caused by actor Richard Harris dying and being replaced by Michael Gambon. For example, that Dumbledore cast a rejuvenation spell on himself. J. K. Rowling does not address the issue in her later novels, and the films make no reference, either.
Over time, elements of fanon can become ingrained into the popular milieu of an entertainment franchise. The Star Trek franchise is well known for the development of fanon information, which has resulted in unfounded criticism being levelled against a Star Trek series or film accused of violating "facts" not in evidence on screen; at the opposite end of the spectrum, the character Nyota Uhura was officially given her first name Nyota after more than 40 years in the 2009 Star Trek film, and the name originated as fanon. Fanon is also a major aspect of the fan communities for franchises such as Doctor Who and Star Wars.
Fan fiction or "fanfic" are stories written by fans, often to continue the adventures of the main characters, or change the outcome of the canonical storyline to one they favour. Examples of this are the many stories that disregard the canonical pairing of Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, in favour of Harry and Hermione Granger, or Hermione and Draco Malfoy. A popular sub-genre is slash fiction, where two male characters are romantically paired; the female equivalent is known as femslash. (The term arose from the '/' symbol put between the two characters' names.) Occasionally, a slash story will contain an element of 'm-preg', short for male pregnancy. In fan fiction, any character pairing is possible, regardless of age, gender, or personality. For instance, a popular example of this would be Snape/Harry.
Other fan fiction includes creating a new character, and his/her adventures within the Harry Potter universe. The technique self-insertion is sometimes used, in which the new character has the same name, personality, appearance, likes and/or dislikes as the writer. These characters sometimes take the form of what is known in fan fiction circles as a "Mary Sue", which denotes characters created based upon the authors. Mary Sues (which, label notwithstanding, can be male or female, but males are occasionally referred to as Marty Stu's or Gary Stu's) often interact with the main characters of the series and play a central role in key events.
The term Mary Sue is derogatory and seen as an insult to the character, as Mary Sues are often unrealistically flawless, overly talented and usually have had some sort of terrible experience (i.e. cruel parents, self-harm/depression, bullied for years or sometimes an experience of attempted rape or similar) that affects their actions in the story. Romantic entanglements with a particularly beloved (to the author) character often occur, these are called shippings (see below).
Fan fiction, like all fiction, ranges in quality from the poor to the excellent. Many Harry Potter fan websites maintain their own fan fiction section for fans to post their stories. And while some elements of fandom look down upon fan fiction (particularly stories that fall within the tropes described above), many professional fiction writers began their careers writing fan fiction, and there are cases of writers who began as composers of fan fiction for Star Trek and Doctor Who going on to write official canonical episodes for them later. One author who has written a very popular Harry Potter fan fiction series, has gone on to become one of the most successful authors in the world (but does not surpass J.K in terms of popularity). This author is Cassandra Clare, who writes the Shadowhunter Chronicles.
A shipping, or ship for short, is the name given to a romantic pairing within a fanfiction story. The word shipping can also be used as a verb to describe a favourite fanfiction pairing, i.e. "Who do you ship?" "I ship Ron and Luna!". For popular ships, fanfiction authors often combine the names of the two involved as a shortening. There are a fair few well-known 'ship names' in fanfiction circles, including:
- Hinny — Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley
- Drarry — Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter
- Harmony — Harry Potter and Hermione Granger
- Dramione — Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger
- Romione— Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger
- Ronsy— Ronald Weasley and Pansy Parkinson
- Pansmione— Hermione Granger and Pansy Parkinson
- Snarry — Severus Snape and Harry Potter
- Bluna— Blaise Zabini and Luna Lovegood
- Bellamort — Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort
Other ship names can also be used, such as Severitus, which describes a situation in which Snape becomes a father-figure to Harry in some way; this often involves Snape being obliged to adopt Harry after his parents' deaths or similar. Some other ship names exist that are rarely used or made-up; an example would be Bluna (Blaise Zabini and Luna Lovegood) or Drinny (Draco Malfoy and Ginny Weasley). Sometimes a ship is referred to by the initials of the characters involved, for instance DMHG = Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, or with a slash symbol between the names instead of an 'and', for instance Harry/Ginny.
There are several sub-categories within Harry Potter fanfiction. Some examples are:
Stories set in the Harry Potter universe, in the many centuries after the Founders died and before Voldemort or any of the Harry Potter canon story characters were born.
Stories detailing the characters' lives before they attended Hogwarts; i.e. Ron's homelife growing up at the Burrow.
Many of these stories feature alternative versions of specific books; often written before their canonical equivalents were published.
This category has two subcategories of its own:
Stories in which the author will attempt to include events considered to be canon (often having been disclosed by J. K. Rowling herself) in a bid to write the connection between the end of the final battle, and the "Nineteen Years Later" epilogue. However, they will often add non-canon events in order to "flesh out" the narrative.
The writer of this type of story will make little or no effort to make the narrative events of their story marry up with the canonical universe. This will allow for a far more imaginative storyline, and often includes non-canonical romantic pairings. These stories are sometimes labelled EWE (Epilogue? What Epilogue?) by writers who are unhappy with JK Rowling's ending to the books.
Some of these stories may change from "canon compliant" to "canon non-compliant" as more canon information is released by J. K. Rowling (in Pottermore etc). For example, a story where Azkaban started as a natural island which was made magical, was originally within canon, but was contradicted by a later revelation of canon which shows that Azkaban's origin is otherwise. This may have happened also to some of the fan fiction set in Hogwarts/books time, which were written before, and later contradicted by, later books.
These stories feature the offspring of the original characters at their centre, such as Albus Severus Potter, Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, Teddy Remus Lupin, Victoire Weasley etc. and often includes new characters with the surnames (family names) of previous characters, for example Danielle Thomas or Georgina Goyle, who are unmentioned in the books and therefore invented. An example is the James Potter series.
The stories will have the main characters from the Harry Potter universe have an encounter with the characters from another. E.g. Harry Potter/Twilight, Harry Potter/Percy Jackson, Harry Potter/Biggles (where Ginger is Harry Potter's mother's father), Harry Potter/Gerry Anderson "UFO" series, etc.
These stories are based around the idea of "what would happen if...?". Many of these will place main characters, such as Harry, in different points in time; in a universe where Voldemort is the headmaster at Hogwarts; in a universe where James Potter never existed; in a universe where Harry never went to Hogwarts, etc.
Alternate Universes differ from Ghost Plots in that Ghost Plots involved original plots that were altered or removed before the final book edit. Examples of known Ghost Plots include Arthur Weasley's Death, Dean Thomas finding out about his birth father, Florean Fortescue telling Harry about the Deathly Hallows, Hermione's younger sister, and Mafalda the Weasley cousin. It is possible that some of what seemed to be red-herrings may have actually been remnants or traces of removed Ghost Plots.
Common non-character-specific fanon
Aside from the aforementioned 'shippings', there are a number of elements of worldbuilding that, in spite of not being in the least canon, are used in a wide majority of fanfictions. These elements include:
- Charlus Potter and Dorea Black being Harry Potter's grandparents (this was an almost universal assumption until J. K. Rowling stated on Pottermore that Harry's grandparents were in fact Fleamont and Euphemia Potter.
- The Wizengamot is very often thought to be at least partially made up of inherited seats belonging to "Lords". In this version (though this is directly contradicted in the canon books), Lucius Malfoy (as "Lord Malfoy") is an influential member of the Wizengamot. Harry Potter himself often takes up the title of Lord Black after Sirius Black's death and gains a seat on the Wizengamot, when he's not already considered "Lord Potter".
- The almost universally accepted existence of 'wards', permanent magical protections that can repeal or destroy intruders. Wards are based on stones covered in Ancient Runes. Hogwarts and Gringotts are said to possess the strongest wards in Britain, hence their status as the safest locations in the country. A person whose speciality is to take down wards is called a Ward-breaker, and it is a profession akin to that of a Curse-breaker. The Headmaster of Hogwarts is often 'keyed' to the wards, allowing him to sense intruders, though that particular idea is not universal.
- The use of Runes, which is left unsaid in canon, is stated to be of semi-permanent spells: one can write a spell down in Runic (or rather, carve it), and then 'charge' the stone with magic. This will produce a constant effect similar to the normal spell, albeit weaker.
- Arithmancy is often used as the basis of spellcrafting, the art of creating new spells, to emphasise that spells are not arbitrarily created but the results of a science as mathematically predictable as Muggle science. Arithmancy thus determines the wand movements required, as well as the number of syllables the incantation will require.
- The title of Master of Death often gives one the ability to travel through alternate dimensions, though that idea usually only apears in stories where the focus is on Harry Potter stays the Master of Death and uses said ability to travel to another world.
- British pure-bloods like the Malfoys are frequently depicted as practising a Pagan-inspired religion, as part of their refusal to indulge in a religion that came from Muggles.
- The Ministry of Magic may still reserve a death penalty to those not quite deserving (in their eyes) of the Dementor's Kiss. If so, the method of execution is often to throw the accused through the Veil.
- Wizards and Witches are said to possess a 'magical core', the focus of their magical energy. This magical core grows along with the wizard or witch, explaining why children appear less magically powerful than adults. If one casts too many spells at a time, the magical core can be temporarily depleted, rendering one unable to cast any further. Some individuals have bigger magical cores than other at equal age; for instance, this was the case of Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort, and is likely to be said to be the case of Harry Potter as well.
Fanon on the Harry Potter Wiki
Fan fiction is permitted on user pages, as long as it is not the main contribution of a user to this wiki. Fan fiction becomes fanon when the creators attempt to integrate their characters or versions of events into the official canon by adding it to existing articles or creating one relating to the character.
This type of fanon is considered vandalism on the Harry Potter Wiki, and may be grounds for permanent bans for persistent offenders.
The following fanfictions have been considered notable enough (due to widespread publicity or special considerations) to merit their own entries on the Harry Potter Wiki:
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky/Less Wrong
- James Potter series by George Norman Lippert
- Draco Trilogy by Cassandra Claire
- My Immortal by Tara Gillesbie (xxxbloodyrists666xxx)