|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||Caveman AU, Viking AU, Noble Savage|
|Related:||Ancient Vulcan, Western, Historical AU|
|See Also:||Alternate Universe|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
A common trope in both fanfic and fanart is to re-imagine characters, often from contemporary settings, in a barbarian fantasy tribal setting. The Greeks meant anyone not Greek when they used the term barbarian, but more modern popular usage seems to mean any pre-industrial society. In a fanwork AU the setting can be a historical setting—Vikings and Celts are popular choices for this—and sometimes fantasy elements are merged with the historical bits so the result is more pseudo-Celts/Vikings.
The barbarian trope can overlap with genres such as Westerns, when versions, often very fantastical, of Native Americans cultures are used. The trope can be prone to various racist pitfalls like the "Noble Savage" cliché or the portrayal of older and non-Western religions in problematic ways. It's also been argued that this and similiar tropes of this ilk are structured and formed by racist and white supremacist viewpoints more broadly from their very conception.
This kind of plot can be done as a total AU or through other story tropes that use a plot device to displace characters into a new setting while still complying with canon. Often combined with the barbarian tribal setting are "stranded" plots, e.g. modern characters end up on a planet with a pre-industrial civilization and have to integrate with them to survive (this can be conveniently combined with slavery kinks or cave stories), and of course time travel plots. The pre-historic version of this is the Caveman AU.
A slightly different type of story turning characters into barbarians is to strand them alone in some wilderness—jungles are popular for this, less often deserts—and have them survive without their modern technology. Sometimes they get the help of (magical) animal companions, i.e. basically plots like the Jungle Book, Tarzan, and the like. Or they might meet some kind of local human inhabitant, and the story then retreads the Robinson Crusoe plot, with all its potential for racist tropes.
- Bakari, a TS AU
- Jack's Viking Sky, an SG-1 epic
- Homo homini lupus, a ST:XI Viking AU by Casspeach with art by Chaosraven
- Patience, a Steady Hand, an Inception Viking AU by Helen
- My Barbaric Darling, an XMFC/possible Encino Man fusion by baehj2915 in which Erik Lehnsherr is a frozen caveman and Charles Xavier is the scientist who "studies" him. (2012)
- Lock All The Doors Behind You, a Teen Wolf story by entanglednow in which Derek Hale sustains unspecified brain damage that causes him to behave like a caveman/wolf. (2012)