Case Story

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: case file, casefic, case fic, detective story
Related: Mission Fic, Action-Adventure, Relationship Story, Get'em, Lay Story
See Also: Virtual Season
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Case Story or Case Fic is a genre of fanfic which mimics the typical structure of police procedurals, buddy cop shows, and some medical dramas, in which typical episodes revolve around solving a particular mystery or case.

Case fic, which might be set in a procedural fandom or not, mirrors this format, featuring an 'A' plot that focuses on a case similar to the cases featured on these shows, and usually a 'B' plot that deals with the characters' personal relationships.

Case fic may be radically different in tone to the source text, and often brings in elements or subplots that wouldn't be present in the show, such as explicit sex, slash, or, occasionally, supernatural occurrences.

In procedural fandoms, case fic is often described as being "just like an episode of the show," or alternately, "just like an episode of the show, except with sex."

In X-Files fandom, the term "case file" or X-File is used instead of "case story."

Terms like 'casefic' are often used to distinguish plottier stories from PWP or WAFF-y curtainfic. The term is sometimes used as an umbrella for any plot-heavy story, including sub-genres such as mission fic or Monster of the Week.

Fans mostly use the term purely as a descriptor, often in headers and labels.

Common Fandoms

Fandoms in which casefic is frequent include:

Frequent Tropes

Examples of tropes that often occur in case stories (whether or not they would be likely in canon) include:

Fan Comments

Unknown Date

Description of an X-Files fiction archive:

[ Sparky's Doghouse ] has been officially declared friendly for shippers, noromos, slashers, folks devoted to secondary characters, case-file lovers, and introspective-angst fiends. [1]


A description of an X-Files story:

For a haunting case file complete with Psychic!Scully, take a look at Pophyria's Lover (part 1) and "Pophyria's Lover (part 2)". [2]


From an interview with an X-Files fan:

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. [3]


A fan's comments about Blood Oranges, a 2000 X-Files story:

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. [4]


From an interview with an X-Files fanwriter:

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). [5]

From an essay by Dasha K:

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. [6]


Comments about the 2001 X-Files story: Closed Colony, Special Stock:

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.[7]


Comments about Phthonus Series, a 2009 Supernatural story:

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.[8]


Comments about Gun, with Occasional Kangaroo: A Love Story, a 2005 due South story:

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! [9]


Comments about the Professionals story called Killing Notes:

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. [10]


From a review of the 1977 Starsky & Hutch story Bomb Scare:

...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. [11]


About the 1999 X-Files story Basketball Therapy:

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.[12]


Comments about the 1998 X-Files story, Above Rubies:

We so rarely come across a casefile that also doubles as part of the mytharc that when we stumble into one that’s so well-written, we get really excited to share it with you.

Today’s casefile features some of our favorite secondary characters as well, namely 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. [13]


Joanna Schaffhausen, now a pro-writer, was a prolific X-Files fan fiction author:

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. [14]


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)

Recs & Thematic Lists & Challenges


Archives & Links