|Tropes and genres|
|Synonym(s)||case file, casefic, case fic, detective story|
|Related tropes/genres||Action-Adventure, Crime AU, Get'em, Lay Story, Mission Fic, Relationship Story|
|See also||Virtual Season|
|Related articles on Fanlore.|
Case fic (also spelled casefic) or case story is a genre of fanfiction with a focus on solving a given mystery or case. The term is also sometimes used as an umbrella term for any plot-heavy story, including genres such as mission fic or monster of the week. It may also be used to distinguish plot-heavy stories from genres such as relationship stories, character studies, porn without plot, and curtainfic.
Case fics commonly utilize a two-plot structure, with a primary plot focusing on the mystery or case, and a subplot that focuses on character's interpersonal relationships. The structure of case fics often mirrors plot structures found in police procedurals, buddy cop shows, and medical dramas.
Its Appeal, Structure and How It Differs from an Actual Episode
In 2014, a fan talked about the structure and appeal of case fic, and why a good case fic didn't simply mimic an episode of the show itself:
...casefic -- plot-focused, about an investigation, with a setup similar to an episode. Casefic is a weird animal. Lots of fans like it in theory, but it's very difficult to do well. But I don't think many fans want their casefic to feel exactly like just another episode of the show. I'm one of those fans who tends to enjoy fic that gives me more of the things I see in the canon show, but the keyword here is more. Most casefics need something more than what a canon episode can provide. A fic that is "like an episode" usually isn't satisfying if it reads like an episode script tweaked into narrative rather than script format. It needs some kind of extra element, usually an It's Personal for the main characters, or worldbuilding, or added background or context for the canon events: say, it's like an episode, but it's like a special episode centered on a crisis with a main character... Or it has a meaningful or illuminating personal subplot (not necessarily a serious one, mind you). Or it's like an episode event-wise, but with an added layer of personality when it comes to how the main characters observe it or talk about it or are affected by it. Fanfic, even casefic, has different strengths and priorities than episodes. 
Fandoms That Often Feature Case Fic
Some fandoms have more case fic than others. This is due to the premise of the show, whether it be solving mysteries that are medical, magic, and/or have a focus of law enforcement or detecting.
Examples of tropes that often occur in case stories include:
- Pretend Couples, characters going Undercover in a Gay Bar and "X made them do it"
- "murder" cases involving Presumed Dead characters
- characters going undercover as prostitutes
- supernatural crimes, often ones that involve vampires
This is one of the best novels in Pros. It's a long, well-plotted case story that could have happened in canon, with Cowley triple-thinking rings around everyone, and Bodie and Doyle partners to the core even when they're not working side by side. Just as in canon, their work for CI5 is their priority -- their personal relationship is an organic part of that. Watching it build here in the context of the case is delightful, with on-target reactions from them both during the slow build as well as after. 
Sparky's Doghouse has been officially declared friendly for shippers, noromos, slashers, folks devoted to secondary characters, case-file lovers, and introspective-angst fiends. 
[ Equilibrium ... is a ] long, well written case story that also shows the development of Blair's and Jim's relationship into becoming a couple. Very good characterization of the guys, well done OCs that add to the scenery but do not take over the story. If you look for a slash case story that shows *both*, a thrilling case *and* the guy's relationship, this is the story to read.
For a haunting case file complete with Psychic!Scully, take a look at Pophyria's Lover (part 1) and "Pophyria's Lover (part 2)". 
Inherent to the world of XF fic is the case file, which is *so* difficult to write well and is truly the most underappreciated genre. With case files I want it all -- a great plot, marvelous characterization, and as much detail as possible. As far as I'm concerned, Nascent, Kipler, Rachel Howard, and Jill Selby set the bar in more ways than one: I *adore* their Mulder/Scully relationships, which are so perfectly nuanced as to make my heart flutter. Plus, their plots are twisting and intricate and so very intelligent. 
This was the story that made me a Syntax fangirl, too. I prefer the casefile part of the story to the romance but the amazing thing about Syn is how successfully she manages to juggle both aspects of the story. 
When writing a case file (my favorite type of fic to write), I start with an interesting paranormal concept, which I research thoroughly before I begin any actual writing. I don't prepare an outline, not even for case files, but I do follow the typical XF format (teaser, three or four acts, epilogue). 
One great thing about collaboration is that you can try something new and not feel so alone doing it. Neither PD nor I had ever written a case file before and felt very intimidated by the process, so we were able to lean on each other for support as we wrote The Professional. 
This 'zine is a great case story, but way more than that. I just love reading Candy's take on who Blair's father is. The building relationship between Blair and his newfound dad and between Blair and Jim. It's another 'zine that just makes me feel really happy. 
While I enjoy the mysteries inherent in the XF universe, I often find case file fics to have less character development than I'm looking for, which would include this one (though that's just my personal preference and not a reflection on this story or the author.) However, I really did like the ghost-as-narrator, the gradual revelation of who the narrator was, and the fact that it wasn't one of those formulaic case files that seem only to be a set-up for MSR. And I liked that Scully was the one to have the premonitions this time. It's not common, but it's plausible and gives the realm of XF cases a nice, fresh spin.
Where the Worms Are starts out as a case story - a shocking one, as the Lads find out that Cowley has been killed in an 'accident'. They end up on the run. Their attempts to find out the truth bring danger - and contact with an old friend of CI5 who guesses the truth about their relationship some time before they do. Yes, love is eventually mentioned, but I can't see anything mushy about the story or the way they act towards each other.
leonidaslion is one of the many amazing writers who grace this fandom. And I believe her Phthonus verse contains the longest, sustained, scorching sex scene in all of creation! But do continue to the morning after and beyond if you can because her characterizations of Sam and Dean are hot, funny and insightful and this is a creepy case file as well.
Due South was great at taking implausible, crazy plots and making them seem normal within the context of the show – and this fic does the same. Who would suspect a kangaroo of being on the streets of Chicago, of all places? Casefic, but it’s Due South casefic, which means it’s hilarious and random and slashy. A delightful, fun read that’s not too long. If you’re in need of cheering up, this would be an excellent fic to try! 
...[ Rhapsody ] is a charming AU story with all the bones of a good case story. Hutch is a famous concert pianist with what seems to be an enviable life - talent, acclaim, money, a beautiful fiancee. But, he also occupies an isolated and lonely world. Oh - and someone is trying to kill him. Starsky, an ex-police detective with an interesting life story and his own share of demon-battling, enters the picture as Hutch's head of security.
So the reasons I enjoy this fic include that it’s case fic, I can see the lads of the episodes, they are trying to rationalise the apparent supernatural, and that in the end it isn’t supernatural at all. 
I didn't read a lot of casefiles back then, because at the time I was looking for something to fill in the gaps left on screen, whereas now I seek out casefiles almost exclusively because I miss the show so much that it's nice to stumble into something that captures that feeling again. This was a really great read.
Skinner and Krychek , and Krychek features prominently enough that we actually came to kind of dig him in this story. His motivations become clearer, as does an obvious thing he’s been harboring for Scully. Which, surprisingly, isn’t as creepy as it sounds and is actually kinda sweet. 
Starting in the 90s, I wrote a bunch of fan fiction about The X-Files – mostly case file investigations that taught me a lot about how to structure a novel-length mystery. I also had the opportunity to have my work critiqued by fellow readers and writers, many of them far more talented than I, and so the fandom really helped me to grow as an author. 
I am also very character/emotion based when I write, and to be honest, case fic is an excellent (if often overlooked!) medium to play with that. I think the biggest thing to focus on is not thinking of the 'case plot' and the emotional arcs as independent things. They should work together: failure in one directly impacts the other, and a new revelation should drive the other one forward, if that makes sense?
I read them often enough. When I look for Gen, I prefer Gen casefic/mission fic to Gen just-about-anything-else.
Just be sure that you want to write a casefic.
I'm a huge, huge fan of romance, but when a fic promises "casefic" or some other major plot element it's a great big letdown if that element gets dropped in favor of the romance storyline.I'm generally really looking forward to the [casefic] plot as much as I am the romance part. If you hook me with a [casefic]... I am excited for seeing the case be explored too. It's probably what gets me to read your fanfic over one that's more "character-focused". Fewer people write them, after all. (And the ones that do often don't write the romance.)
Fic and Podfic
- Torch's X-Files stories Ghosts and Lovers were case-driven stories that explored mysteries much like those dealt with on the show, with the addition of homoerotic themes and explicit m/m sex (1997)
- Howlin' For You by Lenore (Teen Wolf, 2012): A college AU with strippers, crime bosses, and a mystery to solve.
- A Congenial Task, text by clachnaben and podfic by Sunquistadora (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 2014): Amy & Rosa participate in the oldest casefic cliché of the century by having to pretend to be dating in order to infiltrate a gay bar.
- Professional Couple Only by saltyfeathers (SPN, Destiel, 2015): There's a haunted apartment building in Vermont, and the ad says "Professional couple only". Dean and Cas rise to the occasion.
- All the Best and Brightest Creatures by wordstringe (Sherlock, 2016): Sherlock sent Jim Moriarty to prison for killing Carl Powers at age ten. This is the story of the consequences.
- (Podfic) Spider's Web by sisi_rambles (Boku no Hero Academia, 2018): When a series of seemingly random attacks all over Musutafu leave civilians and heroes alike Quirkless, Inspector Midoriya is put on the case. [...]
- The Guests of Cloud Recesses by cafecliche (Podfic) by Rhea314 (MDZS, 2020): [...] (Or: there's a ghost in the Cloud Recesses.)
- The Shape of Me Will Always be You by MissDisoriental (Hannibal, 2021 - podfic by Andthe_cellebration, podfic by Kess)
- Bring Him to His Knees by Musyc (Harry Potter, Draco/Hermione, 2021): Draco is on the case of a murderer, but to investigate, he needs a fake relationship - and a kink club play partner. [...]
- Last Night Courtney by courtney-deserved-better (Total Drama, Alejandro & Courtney, 2021): When Alejandro (a fake psychic detective), Courtney (his business partner), Noah (a detective who refuses to believe in psychics), and Izzy (a coroner who probably shouldn't be a coroner) wake up with no memory of the previous night and an unidentified body, they have to retrace their steps to find the killer— which may be one of them. Fusion fic with Psych.
Recs & Thematic Lists & Challenges
- Recs tagged Casefic at Fancake
- LiveJournal thread on ds_recfinders featuring many Due South case fics
- SPN Case Fic Bang (2016-17)
- How Do I Write a Case File? by CindyET (2001)
- So you wanna write a case fic?, Archived version by zoemathemata, SPN focused (2011)
- Casefic Workshop Archived version by Sage (2012)
- A DIY Guide to Writing a Four Chapter Casefic, Archived version by agelade, also intended specifically for SPN fandom (2014)
- How to Write a Casefic - BBC "Sherlock" Edition by Jolie_Black (2016)
- Lou’s Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Case into a Fic:, Archived version by inkstainedcoffeecup, written for Castle fandom (2016)
- How to Write Investigation: A Guide to Doing The Casefic And Maybe Only Suffering a Little by TKodami, written for Superbat Big Bang participants (2018)
- WHODUNNIT, Archived version by thewardlowcollection, a collection of fic recs and murder mystery guides, collected for the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries fandom but the guides are broadly applicable (2019)
- Any case fic enthusiasts here?, Archived version -- discussion on r/FanFiction (2022)
Archives & Links
- from a review of the 1977 Starsky & Hutch story Bomb Scare: Reading a 1977 zine in 2014: Zebra Three #1, Archived version
- comments about Of Tethered Goats and Tigers, a Professionals story: Arduinn's recs
- description of an X-Files fiction archive: Sparky's Doghouse
- from comments about a Sentinel story at Whispered Words
- description of an X-Files story News for the OBSSEsed: October 1998, Archived version
- interview with an X-Files fan, from Chronicle X Interview with Meredith
- a fan's comments about Blood Oranges, a 2000 X-Files story: wendelah1 at XF Book Club, July 2005
- from an interview with an X-Files fanwriter: from How Will It End? Interview with aka "Jake"
- from an essay by Dasha K, from Two Are Better Than One? The Process of Co=Writing.
- quoted anonymously from a mailing list (April 19, 2002)
- comments about the 2001 X-Files story: Closed Colony, Special Stock: bardsmaid at xf book club, December 2007
- from a 2008 comment about the Professionals story, Where the Worms Are at CI5 HQ
- comments about Phthonus Series, a 2009 Supernatural story: comment by werewolfsfan at SPN Storyfinders, 22 Sep 2010. (Accessed 3 Feb 2012)
- comments about Gun, with Occasional Kangaroo: A Love Story, a 2005 due South story: Slash World, 2012
- a 2012 rec at Crack Van
- 2013 comments about about the Professionals story called Killing Notes, at CI5hq, Archived version
- comments about the 1999 X-Files story Basketball Therapy: discordantwords at XF Book Club, February 2014
- comments about the 1998 X-Files story, Above Rubies: X-Files FanFiction Sommeliers, Archived version
- comments by Joanna Schaffhausen, now a pro-writer, was a prolific X-Files fan fiction author: Interview: Joanna Schaffhausen, February 17, 2018, Written by RoughJustice
- "Comment on Any case fic enthusiasts here? posted to r/FanFiction, Jan 11, 2022". Archived from the original on 2023-06-24.