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" on the part of 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 has never stated this to be the case.
Alternately, fanon can also be employed to explain discrepancies between the Harry Potter films, such as rationales for the change of Albus Dumbledore's appearance between the films of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, necessitated by the death of actor Richard Harris and his replacement by Michael Gambon. For example, that Dumbledore cast a rejuvenation spell upon 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 actually in evidence on screen; at the opposite end of the spectrum, however, the character Nyota Uhura was officially given a first name 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" is stories written by fans, either 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. 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 their 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) 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). Stories with Mary Sues in them are sadly often badly written and poor examples of writing.
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.
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, such as -
Hinny - Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley; Drarry - Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter; Snarry - Severus Snape and Harry Potter; Harmony - Harry Potter and Hermione Granger; Romione - Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger; Dramione - Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, Fremione - Fred Weasley and Hermione Granger; Bellamort - Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort, et cetera.
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. These include (though are not limited to):
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 set during the so-called "Marauders Era", where James Potter, Sirius Black, Lily Evans, Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew feature as the central characters. The story Resolution is a popular example of this kind of fanfiction.
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 story Nineteen Years is an increasingly popular example of this type.
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. The story Lost Time is a good example of this type.
These stories will feature the sons and daughters of the original characters at their centre, such as Albus Severus Potter, Rose Weasley, Scorpius Malfoy, Teddy Remus Lupin, Victoire Weasley, et cetera, and often includes new characters with the last names of previous characters, for example Danielle Thomas or Georgina Goyle, who are unmentioned in the books and therefore invented.
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, etc. The story Sherlock Holmes and the Ravenclaw Codex is a good example of this style.
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 Harry was adopted by Snape; in a universe where Harry never went to Hogwarts, etc. The story Almost A Squib is a successful example of this style.
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
- James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing
- My Immortal