Dive in! 9 Fanfiction Tropes to Spark Your Mind

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Elizabeth Banks Holding a Book - Fanfiction Tropes Introduction

Do you need help finding your next read among the vast fanfiction tropes waiting to be explored?

You’re in luck!

Today, I’ll be shedding light on prevalent fanfic tropes, offering insight into the diverse tapestry of fan-created content and inspiring the continued evolution of storytelling within fandoms.

Read on to see which fanfiction trope suits your reading habits.

What Are Fanfiction Tropes?

Writing on a Book Draft - Fanfiction Tropes

Fanfiction tropes are recurring themes, plot devices, or narrative elements commonly found in fan-created stories within a specific fandom. 

Writers often use these tropes to explore familiar themes or scenarios, providing a framework for creative expression within established universes. 

Examples include “Alternate Universe” (AU), “Enemies to Lovers,” and “Fix-it Fic,” where fans reimagine or expand upon existing storylines, characters, or relationships from the source material.

What Are the Best Fanfiction Tropes?

1. Classic Ship Tropes

Classic ship fanfiction tropes center around romantic relationships, particularly those involving beloved fictional couples.

They contribute to the enduring popularity of fanfiction by providing a framework for writers to explore different facets of romantic relationships within the context of well-known fictional universes.

Here are some popular examples:

Enemies to Lovers

Draco and Hermione at a Forest - Enemies to Lovers Trope

The Enemies to Lovers trope revolves around characters who initially harbor animosity or conflict but eventually develop romantic feelings for each other. 

This dynamic creates tension, emotional growth, and compelling storytelling as the characters navigate the shift from adversaries to romantic partners.

Famous Examples in Fanfiction:

Notable examples include enemies like Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter universe or Captain Hook and Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time. 

Fanfic authors often explore nuanced character development, leveraging the existing tension to craft engaging narratives.

The inherent conflict adds depth to the tale, allowing fans to explore the complexities of relationships and witness characters overcoming obstacles in their path to love.

Friends to Lovers

Harry and Ginny - Friends to Lovers Fanfiction Tropes

Friends to Lovers is a classic trope where a deep friendship evolves into a romantic relationship. 

This fanfiction trope typically explores the intricacies of transitioning from platonic to romantic feelings, often emphasizing the firm foundation of friendship as a basis for a lasting romantic connection.

Iconic Fanfiction Pairings:

Fanfiction enthusiasts often delve into pairings like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

The familiarity of these characters allows authors to leverage existing dynamics, providing readers with a compelling exploration of how deep friendships can evolve into profound romantic bonds.

Variations include slow-burn romances, where the shift from friends to lovers is gradual, and love triangles that introduce external factors challenging the established friendship. 

These variations add complexity and intrigue, keeping readers invested in the evolving dynamics between the characters.

2. Alternate Universe (AU) Tropes

Alternate Universe (AU) tropes in fanfiction involve creating scenarios that deviate from the established canon of a fictional world. 

These tropes offer fans a creative space to envision alternative possibilities while maintaining a connection to the characters they love.

Here are some go-to AUs to explore:

High School/College AU

Ron Weasley - Highschool AU

High School/College AUs transport familiar characters into a different setting, often modern-day educational institutions. 

(From The Sidelines is a fun example of this trope)

This fanfiction trope allows authors to explore alternate scenarios, relationships, and character dynamics while maintaining the essence of the original personalities.

Authors inject new life into characters by navigating typical school experiences such as exams, sports, and proms. 

Fantasy/Supernatural AU

Peter Parker at Hogwarts - Fantasy AU Fanfiction Tropes

Fantasy/Supernatural AUs transport characters into realms of magic, mythical creatures, and extraordinary powers. 

It offers limitless creative freedom for authors to weave enchanting narratives outside the constraints of the original canon.

Authors leverage Fantasy/Supernatural AUs to showcase inventive world-building and explore the untapped potential of characters. 

It allows fans to immerse themselves in captivating universes, witnessing characters navigate magical realms beyond the scope of the original canon.

3. Time-Travel Tropes

Time-travel tropes in fanfiction involve plot devices that enable characters to journey backward or forward in time within a narrative. 

They add a dynamic and speculative element to stories, allowing fans to engage with their favorite characters in new and unpredictable ways.

Here are different branches of time-travel tropes:

Fix-It Fics

Young Draco Malfoy - Fix It Trope

Fix-It Fics involve characters traveling through time to rectify or prevent unfavorable events within the original canon. 

Authors use this trope to explore alternate outcomes, rectify character arcs, or provide closure to unresolved storylines, offering fans a fresh perspective on familiar narratives.

Fix-It Fics provides fans with a cathartic experience by addressing the original canon’s perceived flaws or unsatisfactory resolutions. 

This fanfiction trope allows authors to reimagine character development and storyline trajectories, fostering a sense of fulfillment for readers seeking a more favorable outcome.

Curious? Check out 3 Steps Back, an excellent read and prime example of this trope!

Time-Loop Fics

Tony Stark - Time Loop Trope

Time-loop fanfiction involves characters trapped in a repetitive time loop, reliving a specific period or event. 

It explores the psychological and emotional toll on characters as they attempt to break free from the loop, presenting a unique narrative structure that captivates readers.

Time-Loop Fics elicit strong reactions from readers due to their suspenseful nature and the exploration of character growth within a confined temporal framework. 

The uncertainty of whether characters will break free adds an element of anticipation, encouraging active engagement and speculation within fan communities.

4. Crossover Tropes

Crossover tropes in fanfiction refer to incorporating characters, settings, or elements from two or more fictional universes into a single narrative.

This trope can provide fans with a unique and imaginative space where their favorite characters from different franchises coexist, offering a fresh perspective on well-known worlds.

Here are fun examples of crossovers:

Fusion Fics

Harry Potter and Marvel Crossover Fanfiction Tropes

Fusion Fics bring characters from different fandoms into a shared universe, blending elements of their respective worlds. 

This genre allows authors to explore unlikely interactions and collaborations between characters, creating a rich tapestry of storytelling that transcends the boundaries of individual canons.

Successful Fusion Fanfiction Examples:

Crossovers like “Avengers Assemble at Hogwarts” (Marvel and Harry Potter) exemplify the creativity in merging diverse universes. 

These stories often introduce characters to new challenges and dynamics, captivating readers with unexpected connections.

Fusion Fics facilitates a unique exploration of character interactions, skill sets, and conflicts across fandoms. 

The appeal lies in the novelty of seeing characters from different worlds navigate shared challenges, fostering a sense of community among fans of both source materials.

Multiverse Tropes

Supernatural and Sherlock Holmes Crossover Fanfiction Tropes

Multiverse Tropes involve the existence of multiple parallel universes or timelines, each with its own set of events and outcomes. 

Among all the fanfiction tropes, authors can explore alternate realities with the multiverse, diverging storylines, and the consequences of pivotal decisions within a broader multiversal framework.

Noteworthy Fanfiction Exploring Multiverse Concepts:

Fanfiction stories like “Threads of Fate” (Supernatural) or “Through the Looking Glass” (Doctor Who) delve into the complexities of multiverse concepts. 

These works of fiction showcase the ripple effects of choices and events across different universes, offering readers a thought-provoking and expansive narrative experience.

Writing within a multiverse framework presents challenges in maintaining consistency across different realities. 

However, the benefits include unparalleled creative freedom, allowing authors to explore diverse scenarios and character developments. 

Multiverse Tropes often spark engaging discussions among fans as they dissect the intricacies of interconnected universes.

5. Angst and Hurt/Comfort Tropes

Angst tropes in fanfiction involve exploring emotional pain, turmoil, and inner conflict experienced by characters, often leading to intense and dramatic storylines. 

On the other hand, Hurt/comfort tropes, focus on a character undergoing distress or physical harm, followed by another character providing solace, support, or healing. 

These tropes are commonly employed to evoke strong emotional responses from readers and to delve into a character’s vulnerabilities and resilience.

Get your tissues and here are some gut-wrenching angst and hurt/comfort tropes to explore:

Soulmate AU

Dramione - Soulmates Trope

In fanfiction tropes, Soulmate Alternate Universe (AU) explores the concept of destined connections between characters. 

(A Season For Setting Fires is a prime example of this trope)

Writers often delve into themes of destiny, love, and interconnectedness, where an otherworldly force binds characters. 

Soulmate AU stories strike a chord with readers by tapping into universal emotions of longing, connection, and fate. 

The exploration of characters discovering and navigating their destined bonds provides a compelling emotional journey. 

Amnesia Tropes

Sokka - Amnesia Trope

Amnesia, a classic storytelling device, is frequently employed in fanfiction to introduce suspense and drama. 

Characters grappling with lost memories create an intriguing narrative, allowing authors to explore themes of identity, self-discovery, and the impact of the past on the present.

Authors adeptly use the gradual revelation of memories to create suspense, leading to pivotal moments that heighten emotional impact. 

Resolution often involves characters overcoming challenges, fostering growth, and rebuilding relationships.

Interested? Check out ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,’ a gut-wrenching yet fulfilling read.

6. Gender-Bender Tropes

Gender-bender tropes in fanfiction involve narrative elements where characters change their gender identity or physical form. 

This transformation often leads to exploring themes of identity, relationships, and societal expectations, offering a creative space for writers to challenge and reimagine established character dynamics. 

Gender-bender tropes provide a unique avenue for fans to engage with characters in unconventional ways, prompting discussions about gender roles and expression within the story’s context.

Switch things up with these awesome examples of gender-bender tropes:

Role Reversal

Fem Harry Potter - Gender Bender Trope

Gender-bender tropes, particularly role reversal, redefine traditional character dynamics by swapping gender roles. 

Fem Harry Potter is a fan-favorite example of this gender-bender trope.

This innovative storytelling approach allows authors to challenge societal norms and explore character development through a fresh lens.

However, role reversal in fanfiction still receives both critique and praise within fandoms. 

And while some appreciate exploring unconventional dynamics, others may express concerns about fidelity to source material. 

Rule 63

Pepper Potts - Rule 63 Trope

Rule 63, a transformative gender-bender trope, holds significance in fanfiction by challenging and redefining traditional gender norms. 

It allows authors to explore alternative character presentations, fostering creativity and inclusivity.

Rule 63 sparks fandom discussions about representation, inclusivity, and the creative liberties fanfiction offers. 

As fans engage in conversations about gender identity and expression, Rule 63 catalyzes positive change, promoting a more accepting and diverse fanfiction landscape.

7. Unconventional Pairings Fanfiction Tropes

Unconventional pairing tropes in fanfiction involve creating romantic or platonic relationships between characters who are not typically paired together in the source material. 

These contribute to the diversity of fanfiction by allowing fans to explore unique connections beyond the boundaries of the canon narrative.

Go beyond the norm and explore these unusual yet intriguing examples:

Rare Pairings

Black Widow and Captain America - Rare Pairing

Rare pairings in fanfiction involve exploring romantic or platonic relationships between characters not commonly paired in the source material. 

The appeal lies in the fresh perspectives and unexpected chemistry that arise when exploring unconventional connections.

Fanfiction featuring rare pairings contributes to a broader fandom landscape. 

By spotlighting lesser-explored connections, authors challenge preconceived notions and encourage fans to embrace diverse interpretations of characters’ relationships.

If you don’t know where to start with this one, check out Soulmate Shorts A.K.A The Crackship Armada, for an introduction like no other.

Crack Pairings

Jon Snow - Crack Ship

Crack pairings, characterized by their unexpected and often humorous nature, involve pairing characters that may seem incompatible or improbable. 

This trope injects creativity and playfulness into fanfiction, challenging conventions and eliciting laughter from readers.

Fun examples of crack ships include Tyler x Wednesday, Jon x Daenerys, and more!

Crack pairings contribute to a vibrant fanfiction community by challenging norms and fostering a culture of creativity. 

By embracing the unexpected, fans celebrate the limitless possibilities within fictional universes, cultivating an environment that encourages exploration and experimentation.

8. Fluff and Humor Tropes

These tropes center around light-hearted and amusing elements within the narrative. 

Fluff often involves sweet, heartwarming moments that evoke positive emotions, while humor tropes focus on comedic situations and witty dialogue that entertain readers. 

These tropes give a break from intense or dramatic storylines, offering a more cheerful and enjoyable experience.

Get ready to get some adorable moments with these awesome examples:

Domestic Fluff

Pepper Potts and Tony Stark - Domestic Fluff

In fanfiction, domestic fluff refers to stories focusing on the cozy and comforting aspects of characters’ everyday lives. 

(His Kidilante is a fun example of this)

Authors often explore mundane yet heartwarming scenarios, such as shared meals, lazy weekends, or quiet moments at home.

These stories create a sense of intimacy and familiarity, allowing readers to connect with the characters personally. 

Writers leverage the innate appeal of domesticity to evoke emotions, providing readers with a comforting escape into relatable, everyday experiences.

The fan community actively engages with domestic fluff content, expressing enthusiasm for stories that offer a break from intense plotlines. 

Comedy Tropes

Harry Potter Laughing - Comedy Fanfiction Tropes

Fanfiction writers explore various comedic tropes to infuse humor into their narratives. 

From witty banter and situational comedy to slapstick humor and satire, the comedic landscape in fanfiction is diverse. 

(Avengers Watch Infinity War is a fun take on this trope)

Authors leverage the familiarity of characters and settings to create comedic scenarios that resonate with fans, providing a refreshing and entertaining take on established universes.

Lighthearted content creation within fandom spaces involves understanding the community’s comedic preferences.

9. Mystery and Detective Tropes

Mystery and detective tropes in fanfiction revolve around narratives featuring suspense, investigation, and problem-solving. 

The use of mystery and detective themes in fanfiction allows fans to explore genres beyond the source material, providing a fresh and captivating angle to the storytelling.

Embrace your inner detective and have fun unraveling the mysteries with these examples:


Sherlock Holmes - Whodunit Trope

Mystery elements in fanfiction involve crafting narratives around unresolved questions or puzzles. 

Whodunit fanfiction tropes, in particular, revolve around the central mystery of identifying the perpetrator of a crime

Writers use suspenseful storytelling and clues to engage readers and keep them guessing throughout the narrative.

Detective AU

Detective Alternate Universes (AUs) in fanfiction transport characters into detective or investigative roles in different settings. 

This trope allows writers to explore how familiar characters navigate crime-solving scenarios, offering a fresh perspective on their personalities and relationships.

Authors skillfully balance crime-solving elements with the characters’ personalities and relationships, creating an engaging plot accurate to the source material. 

From Jeon Jungkook of BTS to Izuku Midoriya — anyone can be a detective!

Crime-solving Partnerships

Detective Partners - Partnership AU

Crime-solving partnerships in fanfiction explore the synergy between characters as they work together to solve mysteries or combat criminal activities. 

It often emphasizes the paired characters’ unique dynamics, strengths, and weaknesses.

Authors navigate the challenge of maintaining a gripping mystery while allowing space for characters to evolve and deepen their connections.

Curious? Check out our list of the top Sherlock Holmes fanfiction stories to see him and several unique partnerships in action!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are there specific genres or fandoms where certain tropes are more prevalent or well-received?

A: Certain tropes are more prevalent in specific genres or fandoms. For example, romance tropes might dominate romance-centric fandoms, while adventure or action tropes may be more common in fantasy or sci-fi settings.

Q: How do fanfiction writers incorporate multiple tropes into a single story?

A: Successful incorporation of multiple tropes requires careful balancing to avoid overwhelming the narrative. Skilled writers integrate tropes seamlessly, ensuring they complement each other and contribute to a cohesive and engaging storyline.

Q: Are there any fanfic tropes that have sparked controversy or debate within the fan community?

A: Some fanfiction tropes generate controversy due to their sensitive or polarizing nature. Topics such as non-consensual relationships, specific characterizations, or triggering content may lead to debates within the fan community.

Q: Do popular fanfiction tropes vary across different cultures or language communities?

A: Fanfic tropes can vary across cultures and language communities. Cultural nuances and preferences may influence which tropes resonate more strongly in specific regions, leading to diverse trends in fanfiction storytelling.

Q: How have fanfiction tropes evolved, and are there any emerging trends?

A: Fanfiction tropes have evolved with changing societal norms, media influences, and the growth of online communities. Emerging trends often reflect current interests, so new tropes may emerge as fanfiction adapts to evolving creative and cultural landscapes.

Best Fanfiction Tropes: Conclusion

There you have it, folks! We’ve unraveled the top fanfiction tropes, celebrated diversity in storytelling, and danced through the ever-shifting landscapes of trends. 

As we bid farewell to this literary adventure, let’s continue to explore, create, and embrace the infinite possibilities that fanfiction offers. 

Our stories weave together in the tapestry of fandom, making each chapter a testament to the vibrant tapestry of shared creativity. 

Keep writing, keep reading, and let the fanfic symphony serenade your soul. Fan on!

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