Canon One-Shot Characters

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)Minor Character, One Off
Related tropes/genresSupporting Character
See alsoMary Sue, fanon
Related articles on Fanlore.

Canon is filled with one-shot characters who make an appearance and then disappear, often for fairly minor and forgettable reasons. The nature of the original source text, specifically those in a regular series, seems to require that a character have a life-changing moment, only to appear the next week with no mention of the previous incident.

But every fandom has a paddock of characters that, for some reason, strike a fannish chord and go on to make a reappearance in many, many fanworks giving a fan the opportunity to explore the what if and possible motivations.

What Do These Characters Provide?

  • missing pieces from a main character's past
  • bringing back a bad guy/gal to inflict more stress and mayhem
  • characters that make a main character reveal parts of him/herself, either not previously seen or given more exposure
  • exploring other parts or timeframes of the canon universe

Why Do Some Canon Characters, and Not Others, Beget Fanworks?

Some Examples





  1. ^ See Lorne/Parrish page for more
  2. ^ Carter (Robin Hood BBC 2006) tag on the Ao3