Canon Divergence AU

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Canon AU, Alternate Reality, Fork in the Road AU
Related tropes/genresAlternate Universe, Canon Era, Everybody Lives, Denialfic, Epilogue? What Epilogue?, Fix-it, She's Not Dead
See alsoCanon, Canon-compliant
Related articles on Fanlore.

A canon divergence AU is a term used in some fandoms for fanfiction set in a universe that diverges relatively narrowly from canon, with a point of departure in a character's backstory or even during canon. The changes made to canon usually answer a question like "What if character X lived instead of died?" or "What if character Y didn't meet character Z until later?" Different First Meeting and Everybody Lives are subtropes of Canon Divergence AUs.

In Discworld, this is known as ending up in "the wrong trouser of time." In other fandoms, this type of AU might be called a Canon AU or alternate reality instead.

In some fandoms, this may be called a Canonverse AU. This term is often used to differentiate AUs set in the canon universe from AUs using a different setting; such as Mundane or Modern AUs. In other fandoms, the term Canon Era may be applied instead.

Not to be confused with fanfic that accidentally diverges from canon due to being jossed.

Trope Examples

Fan writers might change any event in canon to produce a wild variety of AUs, but for any given fandom, certain events make a lot of fans want to write an AU:

Fan comments

[...] My only quibble with a lot of canon divergent AUs is that too often they try to follow the same events of canon without accounting for the universe changes that should be in the world/characters.[1]

This, so much. There's this one fic I'm currently a couple of chapters behind on that has over 100k if not twice that much and I'm mostly waiting on the moment when something will significantly change. It's frustrating to read and I wonder if it isn't also frustrating to write, because I had one chapter like this in the fic I'm working on and I was just. so. bored.[2]

Example Fanworks

Dream SMP:

  • The Nation That Got Better by lb1412. Schlatt, upon being duly elected as the next president of L'Manberg, instead beckons the other political hopefuls to join the nation's government and its subsequent rebuilding, as opposed to executing one of them via guillotine. (2021)

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles:

  • Impossible Magic by lorata. What if Cimorene didn't accept that she'd have to wait sixteen years to see her husband again, and then just try to move on with their lives? (2017)

Hamilton (musical):

Harry Potter:

Omori (video game):

  • The Dreamer by storm of tara. What if Sunny never smashed his violin, and shoved Mari down the stairs afterwards that afternoon? (2021)

The Lord of the Rings:

The Witcher

External Links


  1. ^ A nonnie on fail_fandomanon here. 2017-11-13.
  2. ^ A different nonnie on fail_fandomanon here. 2017-11-13.