From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Metafiction
See Also: Self-insertion, Fourth Wall, Meta, Fandom AU
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.


Metafic is a genre label often used to describe fanfic in which characters interact with the story's author or are otherwise aware that they are fictional characters. It is a fanfic-specific variation on metafiction[1], a term in literary criticism for fiction that refers to the conventions of fictional writing.[2]

Metafic is often written to poke fun at fanfic clichés [3] or comment on developments in canon or fandom.[4]

Another way for stories to be meta commentary on fandom is to be fic about fandom, i.e. taking place in the "real world" of fandom. Either characters can be transported into our world and meet with fans and see fandom, such as in the Blake's 7 Cheeeseboard series in which Avon ends up in the middle of a Blake's 7 convention, or the story can be just set in fandom, like Fandom is a Way of Death by Bill W. and Alan R.

Since RPF already takes place in some version of the real world, encounters with RPF characters and their fans might be metafic, or it might just be a self-insert. Or all RPF might be some form of metafic.

Metafic Examples

Metafiction in Canon


  • The Fourth Wall breaking episodes in Supernatural where fandom is explored through the character of Becky.
  • The Changing Channels episode of Supernatural that placed Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester in various television shows.
  • The French Mistake episode of Supernatural where the characters of Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester literally fall through the fourth wall into an alternate reality in which they are presumed to be the lead actors working on a television show called Supernatural.


  • Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher (1942) is a detective novel whose characters are modelled closely on Boucher's friends, South California science-fiction fans and writers of the period, and much of it is commentary on their activities. Similar later novels include:
  • Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones (1997) is a fantasy novel set in part at a fantasy convention and drawing on the behaviour of fans.
  • Galaxy Quest, a 1999 film that affectionately parodies Star Trek and its fanac and fan culture.
  • Thursday Next, the heroine of several of Jasper Fforde's novels, is a Jurisfiction agent assigned to protecting fictional worlds from reality and from each other. In the first novel, The Eyre Affair (2001) she is responsible for (amongst other things) giving Jane Eyre its current ending, as opposed to a formerly dull and unsatisfactory ending.
  • Doctor Who episode Love & Monsters, in which a fan who has been tracking the mysterious man and his strange blue box (who is part of a group of such fans who engage in more-or-less typical fannish activities, including one new fan quickly becoming rather toxic) gets to actually encounter The Doctor and the TARDIS.[7]
  • Community episodes involving Inspector Spacetime are almost always metafiction about media fandom. Especially the episodes set at Inspector Spacetime conventions...
  • Lost in Austen, a British 2008 miniseries in which the heroine, a fan of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, inadvertently swaps places with Elizabeth Bennett.[8] It is a fanwork that includes metacommentary for both the novel and the [1995 miniseries] adaptation; the heroine asks Darcy to wade out of the ornamental lake for her, and at one point berates him for not being as good as in the book.
  • The CSI episodes A Space Oddity (2009) and Blood Moon (2010) involve murders at SF and fantasy conventions and commentary on fan behaviour.
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi is set in a Star Trek-like universe whose characters realise that they are the characters in a TV show, and come up with a daring plan to save themselves (and their universe) by confronting their creators.
  • Stargate SG-1 episode 200, which parodies many media properties and pop-culture phenomena, including SG-1 and its fandom. Among many other things, the episode alludes to the main fandom slash pairing, lampoons the show two of its characters used to be leads on, and mentions interest in a younger and edgier version of the show -- all wrapped up in the meta aspect of being about pitches for Wormhole X-treme, a previously featured in SG-1's canon (but rapidly canceled) TV show based on SG-1 itself.[9]
  • Several comics characters are in canon sporadically aware of their status as fictional characters and comment about their writers. In the comics this refers to the comic creators, in fanfic this often refers to the person writing the story, its readers, etc. Deadpool and She-Hulk, and occasionally The Joker are the most obvious examples. The Marvel supervillain The Purple Man appears to have this power, and can make others believe that they are part of a fictional world. Several other comics characters have some version of this ability; similarly, many animated characters are portrayed as aware of their artists and/or audience, e.g. Bugs Bunny.[10]


  1. Wayback Machine version of the essay, An Unorthodox History of Metafiction, by Kit Mason, accessed May 8, 2010
  2. Merriam-Webster, accessed May 8, 2010
  3. Kielle. Blood and Warm Blankets, at the Henneth Annun Story Archive, posted 13 September 02. Accessed 10 October 08.
  4. Beth H. When the Muse Strikes, posted 21 November 2004. Accessed 10 October 08.
  5. As Lucid As Hell Sandy Keene (Older), accessed January, 2009.
  6. Gus Goes For the Gold Star (on Yuletide), accessed 28 December 2009.
  7. Love & Monsters episode entry at Wikipedia (Accessed 26 April 2011), and Love & Monsters episode entry at the TARDIS index file Doctor Who wiki (Accessed 26 April 2011).
  8. "[...] Lost in Austen, which we could rename as Mary Sue Steps Through the Mirror." in Fannish Films by yourlibrarian, 9 July 2009. (Accessed 26 April 2011)
  9. SG-1 200 episode entry at Wikipedia (Accessed 26 April 2011), and SG-1 200 episode entry at Stargate Wiki (Accessed 26 April 2011).
  10. Superpower Wiki - 4th Wall Awareness accessed 24th June 2015
Personal tools

Browse Categories
Shortcuts for Editors