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. They come in many genres, from dark or even horror-oriented to humorous adventure or slice-of-life.
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. Cassandra Clare, who writes the Shadowhunter Chronicles, wrote a very popular Harry Potter fan fiction series before becoming a very successful published author.
Notable Fanfiction Types and Features
Romance and Shipping
A large number of (though not, by far, all) fanfictions are romances where at least part of the point is to alter the romantic situation of the characters. 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 seemingly possible, regardless of age, gender, or personality (even ones as surprising as Snape/Harry or Voldemort/Harry), though of course the most unexpected ones are rarely among the most popular.
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
- Wolfstar- Sirius Black and Remus Lupin
- Huna- Luna Lovegood and Harry Potter
- 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
- Nuna - Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood
- Drapple - Draco Malfoy and an apple
- Snily - Severus Snape and Lily J. Potter
- Jily - James Potter I and Lily J. Potter
- Druna - Draco Malfoy and Luna Lovegood
- Starbucks - James potter and Sirius Black
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; 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.
Self-Inserts, Original Characters and Mary Sues
A once-popular (though now discredited) fan fiction plot relies on creating a new character, and his/her adventures within the Harry Potter universe: such a figure is known as an Original Character, or OC. (Secondary characters created by the writer, such as a new Professor at Hogwarts, may or may not be called OCs in full. Similarly, fanmade characterizations of characters who exist, but are a blank slate, in canon, such as Daphne Greengrass, may be considered OCs by some standards.)
The character may be what is known as a self-insert — a character who is deliberately written as the author's avatar. Depending on the story, this may be the "real" author waking up in the world of Harry Potter, often discovering they are now a witch or wizard, or else a counterpart who is native to the Harry Potter universe but has the same name, personality, appearance, likes and/or dislikes as the writer.
Such characters unfortunately tend to take the form of what is known in fan fiction circles as a "Mary Sue", which denotes characters created based on an author's idealised image of themselves (whether they are explicitly a self-insert, or supposedly an original character). Mary Sues (which, label notwithstanding, can be male or female, but males are occasionally referred to as Marty Stus or Gary Stus) 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, as a particularly egregious example of shipping (see below). My Immortal is a notable example of an utterly ludicrous Mary Sue story (of the "avatar" variety).
Alternate Universes and What-Ifs
The term of "Alternate Universe" (or "AU" for short) is often used to describe a story taking place in a notably different iteration of the familiar setting from the get-go. For instance, premises of popular AUs include Harry Potter being born a redhead, Hogwarts's age of acceptance being 17 rather than 11, or Tom Riddle growing up as a force of good rather than evil. Some changes may be more radical, such as a "No Magic AU" whose purpose is to imagine how a plot echoing the canon one might unfold in a world where magic does not exist and Hogwarts is merely an exclusive Muggle school. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a good example of a heavy AU, as in that story, not only are some characters' histories different (even very far back, if one considers Merlin's history in that story), but the fundamental magic system is altered: the mechanics of Prophecy, Dementors and the Patronus Charm are all different, for instance, and souls apparently do not really exist.
Related to AUs are "What-Ifs", wherein a key event of the canon plot goes a different (but plausible) way, resulting in the rest of the tale becoming more and more different over time. For instance, "what if Ginny Weasley had died in the Chamber of Secrets?", or "what if Sirius Black had taken care of Harry Potter rather than immediately go after Peter Pettigrew?". If enough changes occur as a result of the initial alteration, the story's setting can often become indistinguishable from an AU, to the point that some use the term "AU" to describe a What-If story.
A common point of contention is whether a story whose setting is different from canon in a way that has already profoundly changed the world by the time the story starts, but still relies on a single event in the past going differently, constitutes a What-If or an AU. (A good example would be a story where the change would be "what if Gellert Grindelwald had won rather than been defeated by Albus Dumbledore", but which would start in 1991, long after those events unfolded.) Also debatable is whether a fanfiction written before a piece of canon information, which contradicts it, was released, retroactively becomes an AU.
"Peggy Sue" and Time-Travel
Somewhat akin to the Original Character plot, a "Peggy Sue" story (also known as a "Do-Over", or, rather inexplictly, as a "Time-Travel story") is a highly formulaic type of fanfiction where some canonically-unknown type of time travel allows a character's consciousness to be sent years back to their younger body, where they can then use their foreknowledge to change a particularly bad outcome. For instance, a 18-year-old Harry Potter, sent back to 1991 in his child self's body, already knows about Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes and might attempt to track them down and destroy them before Voldemort himself is even brought back to a body. While Harry Potter is the most common target of a Peggy Sue plot, many characters have been the target of it, from relatively likely ones such as Hermione Granger or Severus Snape to highly surprising choices like Rubeus Hagrid.
The Peggy Sue genre remains popular even now, despite common gripes that consider it makes the time-travelled character "too overpowered", reducing conflict. Authors have attempted to balance this out by making the story about the characters' moral dilemmas on what to change (as any actions they take too rashly might make things worse), or by by hindering the character's agency through their need to keep their true nature a secret from others. Another commonly cited flaw in the scheme is that such a character, mentally an adult, returning to their young body, and rekindling their relationship with their former paramour from the original timeline, might be worryingly close to paedophilia (though of course, not all Peggy Sue stories contain romance at all).
There are three main "eras" in which Harry Potter fanfiction tends to be set: Marauders-Era, Hogwarts-Era and Post-Hogwarts. (Others include Founders-Era or Riddle-Era, which are all much less prominent.)
"Marauders-Era" takes place in the 1970's and focuses on the lives of the Marauders, Lily Evans and Severus Snape as Hogwarts students. These stories are rife with shipping. They include their own elements of fanon, such as the idea that Remus Lupin is particularly fond of chocolate, or that Alice Longbottom was Lily Evans's best friend. Oftentimes, the story will include other characters who are adults throughout the canon books as classmates of the Marauders, sometimes ignoring the specifics of their canon age to do so; for instance, it is not uncommon to have Lucius Malfoy or Pandora Lovegood featured as side characters.
By far the most common era to "work in", these stories cover the same timeframe as the canon books. These range from lengthy retellings of the plot of the seven books (and then some) in the form of a "Seven-Year AU" to short stories taking place 'off-page' at a specific time of the books' timeframe.
As its name implies, Post-Hogwarts is the "era" after the Trio has left Hogwarts. Though some such stories may focus on Harry Potter's life as an Auror of Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley's married life, by far the most common form this takes is "Next-Generation", or "Next-Gen", which follows the adventures of the main characters' children at Hogwarts in the 2010's and 2020's. (Much to the delight of fans of these stories, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child more or less fits within the bounds of a "next-gen" story.) Common players in these stories are Albus Potter, Rose Granger-Weasley and Teddy Lupin.
CrossoversAs with all fanfictions, Harry Potter fanfictions are sometimes crossovers with another property (for instance, Harry Potter/Twilight, Harry Potter/Percy Jackson, Harry Potter/Biggles, etc.).
Sometimes written as shipping stories to make a Harry Potter character and a character from the other franchise get together, crossover stories come in several forms. In some, both franchises are assumed to exist on the same Earth, and minor details of each franchise's canon may be altered to make the change painless; such a crossover is easy to devise with most non-fantasy franchises, where any Harry Potter-related info could imaginably be obfuscated by the Statute of Secrecy.
Others have a character from one franchise's universe travel to the other, in either sense (such as a Dungeons and Dragons character landing at Hogwarts or Harry Potter being flung into the setting of Game of Thrones), which is the preferred method for crossovers with a different fantasy universe that has its own, non-Harry-Potter-compatible rules of magic.
Canon- and Epilogue-Compliance
The question of "canon-compliance" in fanfiction is a heavy and complex one, and highly dependant on writers' and readers' personal philosophy when it comes to canon. Some would call "canon-compliant" a fanfiction which is intended to take place in loosely the same world as the canon novels (give or take the consequences of the What-If), but fudges over some details such as, say, Lucius Malfoy's exact age, under the reasoning that such a minor, plot-irrelevant change is not enough to truly be an "AU" for most intents on purposes. Others demand slavish attention to every nook and cranny of the canon lore for something to truly call itself canon-compliant.
As already mentioned in the "AU and What-Ifs" section, intent may clash with fact as some stories objectively change from "canon compliant" to "canon non-compliant" as more canon information is released by J. K. Rowling. 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. With the release of the Fantastic Beasts film series, a large number of formerly-compliant stories dealing with Gellert Grindelwald are again progressively being "written out" of canon compliance. In some cases, authors have gone back and rewritten the passages of their story that contradicts the new canon, but this is rare, and, often, impossible (because the incorrect fact was too central to the plot to be removed without a complete overhaul of the story).
Also up for interpretation is just what that "canon" is that is being complied to. While some follow the same Canon Policy as this very wiki, there are people in the fandom — and, as a result, fanfiction writers — who make a point of sticking only to the seven novels and companions, ignoring tweets, interviews, Pottermore and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; others who will take in anything that has been officially published (e.g. Pottermore and the films) but disregard information from interviews and tweets; and others yet who will follow all facts coming directly from J. K. Rowling but disown information from secondary or tertiary sources such as the films and video games.
A particular variant of that debate is "Epilogue-Compliance". A Post-Hogwarts story that is "Epilogue Non-Compliant" (also known as an EWE story, for "Epilogue? What Epilogue?"), will adhere to all the information of the canon novels, and possibly other sources as well, but will purposefully ignore the Nineteen Years Later epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (and, as a result, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well). Reasons for this vary, but the most common are that it is viewed as too overly sugary an ending, that the lasting pairings of characters such as Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley were allegedly ill-chosen, that the names of the children are contrived and disappointing (especially the fact that the Potter children have names of deceased characters rather than new names of their own), and finally that Draco Malfoy was not brought to justice for his crimes. Of course, other writers of EWE stories may chose to ignore the epilogue purely to allow themselves more creative freedom, without passing judgement on the Epilogue on its own merits.
Common non-story-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 places 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 appears 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)