Canon Divergence AU (The Hobbit)

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms:
Related: Canon Divergence AU, Fix-It
See Also: Alternate Universe, The Hobbit
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Canon Divergence AU is a form of alternate universe where canon is changed in one or a few key points, sometimes before canon starts, sometimes in the middle. This is one of the most common tropes in The Hobbit fanworks.[1] Such works are so common that there are a multitude of subtropes within Hobbit fandom, each with its own history and common elements.

Trope Development

AUs existed in small numbers before the release of the Jackson movies,[2] but they became much more prevalent in post-movie Hobbit fandom.[1]

Worldbuilding AUs became popular after the first movie was released, often blending character and setting information between the movies and books and adjusting to the shortened movie timeline between the Fall of Erebor and the quest to reclaim it. Works such as Sansûkh by determamfidd deal with the relative lack of canon information about dwarves in the books, often relying heavily on movie characterizations. Other works, such as the Free Orcs AU by Thorinsmut, bring fannish meta concepts into fanworks to address specific issues raised about canon (in this case, racism and othering).

Not all of these worldbuilding works were labelled AU when they were posted. For example, "Sansûkh" is labelled as canon,[3] because canon doesn't explicitly deny that it could have happened, since we have no detailed information from Tolkien's works on dwarven afterlife. Some worldbuilding works contributed so strongly to fandom perceptions that they became solid fanon for many fans, after which many creators stopped labelling works that use those elements as AUs, regardless of how close to book or movie canon they were.

Fix-its also started early and became even more common in the lead-up to the release of Battle of the Five Armies. Of these, Everybody Lives is the most common.[4]

Example Subtropes

Common subtropes include shifts in character backstory, hobbit or dwarf culture, or key events, such as Smaug's attack on Erebor. Some of these changes are similar to other fandoms, and so have inherited general fannish names. Others are unique to The Hobbit fandom but common enough that fans have developed specific terms for them.

The majority of the most popular canon divergence AUs are fix-its of some form. A few common ones:

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 By April 10, 2015, of the 18065 works in The Hobbit - All Media Types on AO3, 5,646 (31%) were marked as AUs. Of those, 1,587 (8.8%) were explicitly marked as Modern AUs, while 2,198 (12%) were explicitly marked as canon divergence.
  2. Of the roughly 77 Hobbit works posted to AO3 prior to December 15, 2012, 21 were marked as crossovers with Sherlock, meaning they were movie-inspired (because of the actors crossing over). Of the remaining 56 works, 3 were marked as AUs and 2 more as crossovers (with due South and Harry Potter, respectively). None of the AUs were marked as canon divergence.
  3. Work tagged with "As canon as it gets".
  4. On March 17, 2015, 6.8% of all Hobbit fanworks on AO3 were tagged with "Everyone Lives" or a subtag of that, while 2.7% were tagged with "Fix-It" or a subtag. See Everyone Lives (The Hobbit) for detailed numbers.