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Synonyms: tin hat
See also: wank, RPF, OTP
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Derived from the stereotype of conspiracy theorists and other paranoid people wearing tinfoil hats to protect themselves from telepathic, microwave or radio transmissions by aliens, the government, or both[1]: a fannish tinhat is a person who believes that their favorite celebrities are really a couple, forced by The Powers That Be to keep their relationship a secret. It refers to those who have fantasies of closeted celebrities (mainly actors) unable to be open about their relationship in their profession. The term can refer to the stylish accessory or, by metonymy, to the fan who wears it.

The term can also be used to refer to any fans who deliberately ignore parts of a canon they dislike in order to continue enjoying the media, for example bad writing, questionable relationship choices, etc.


Versaphile invented the term in answer to a request by Cesare for "a snappy sobriquet for the hardcore tru believas" who claimed that the The Lord of the Rings movie actors Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan were secretly in love.[2]

Fan Theories

A particular group of fans were communicating on the DataLounge (a GBLT forum), specifically a section called the "Prancing Pony".[3] On that forum in early 2003, anonymous posters who claimed to be movie industry insiders promised inside information on "the boys" and message passing by subtle gestures and James-Bond-style secrets. The group around MsAllegro was especially vehement in their belief in the couple. Then the words 'charchuse' (sic) and 'burnt sienna' were mentioned in the forum, amongst other colours. When pictures of Dom and Elijah in yellow and light orangish brown shirts (respectively) turned up, euphoria abounded. The threads exploded, and people who had hitherto wavered on the fringes started to get sucked in.[4] That is, many additional fans started to believe that these actors really were "shouting out" to their supporters by their color choices, ring wearing or non-wearing, and song choices. Expectations were high that these two men would eventually come out as a gay couple.

Responses to Rumors

Fans who disagreed with the Prancing Pony shippers created a web site dispelling the rumors: Sanity, Please.

The actors explicitly denied being a couple several times, making fun of the various rumors. Dom said at a convention Q&A in 2003, that the actors had "read rumors of a contract they signed with New Line that they wouldn't come out as gay until after Return of the King." Dom laughed, and added, in a sarcastic tone that they were "thinking of walking down the red carpet holding hands for Return of the King." [5] Nothing like that, or any other kind of public announcement ever happened, and the actors have continued to deny any romantic involvement with each other.[6] As of April 2010, these actors have mentioned long-term girlfriends.

General Use in Fandom

The term tinhats is used by both the OTP shippers and their detractors. Tinhat examples include those who think that Adam Lambert and Kris Allen of American Idol are secretly in love, or that a romance exists between actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson of the Harry Potter movie series. Recently a very large tinhat following has sprung up around Chris Colfer and Darren Criss of Glee.

Most authors of Real People Fiction and slash fanfiction explicitly disclaim any implication that they think the people in question are in any way a couple.

Fans sometimes use the tinhat terminology ironically or self-deprecatingly; when they are squeeing especially loudly over some piece of celebrity gossip, they may type *dons tinhat* or *polishes tinhat*. They seldom mean that they really believe that their preferred OTP is a couple in real life.


  1. In October 2005, a group of MIT students ran a series of tests that seemed to prove tinfoil hats actually amplify radio waves and thus would be no good against mind control transmissions. Other scientists dispute this finding.
  2. versaphile in journalfen DL_Anon thread, 2003-04-01(accessed 2008-10-02)
  3. Wikipedia entry, the name refers to a Hobbit tavern in The Lord of the Rings. (accessed 2008-09-30)
  4. Sanity, Please page, on archive.org (accessed 2008/10/03).
  5. Fan report, October 5, 2003 (archived at TheOneRing.net, accessed 2008/10/3)
  6. Sept. 12, 2005 Newsweek interview with Dominic Monaghan (accessed 2008-10-24)
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