|Tropes and genres|
|Synonym(s)||crack! (as in crack!fic, crack!vid)|
|Related tropes/genres||Alternate Universe, Badfic, Crack Ship, Crossover, Sillyfic|
|See also||Humor, PWP|
|Related articles on Fanlore.|
Crack has two main meanings in a fandom context, both playing off the slang for crack cocaine:
One, that a fanwork is highly addictive. The rec community Crack Van played with this definition. "Crack" was also common slogan in older anime fandom and emblazoned on t-shirts and bumper stickers. One example was "Anime: Crack is Cheaper," referring to both the addictiveness of anime, and the expense of obtaining it on VHS.
Two, crack can describe fanworks with a fundamentally ludicrous premise, or otherwise including a plethora of unbelievable, incredible, or just plain silly elements - that is, implying the author/artist must have been on drugs to produce something so bonkers. It may be used in a compound noun ("crackfic"), or as an adjective ("crack pairing"). On tumblr, posts in the vein of crack may be labelled as crack!post.
These two meanings may be meant simultaneously, e.g. "DC Comics is delicious crack."
History of the Term
A fan, Katharine Scarritt, commented in 2015, about the term she felt she originated. While the date of this use is not specified, it is likely in the late 1990s:
I was also the one who invented apparently the term “crack” for fic... Inadvertently, because we were talking about whether stories should be good, and what reasonable expectations people should have of writers, and things like that. And I said, you know, you get something out of stories – I don't remember the exact analogy now. But it was something like, now people want to go to a story just like going to a crack house and get your fix. They want their fix. They're not interacting with the story, and once that fix is done, they want another new story. I was talking about how we used to reread stories over and over again, just like we watched episodes over and over and over again. Trying to get every, you know, suck every last little piece of juice out of it. Rereading was part of the entire pleasure of fanfic... And that made it therefore really important therefore the write the story as best as you could, because if people reread it, they start noticing flaws. You rarely, if a story's got a good feel to it, you rarely notice a lot of flaws on the first read-through. But you read it again and again, you're going to, errr. We were writing for those people who were going to read it five times. So yeah, I said that, and apparently that got picked up on, and by now “crackfic” is like a meme, you know? It's like, wow. 
"Crackfic" is a term for a story which takes a ridiculous premise as its starting point, such as casting all the canon characters as My Little Ponies or Girl Scout cookies. The fic may, or may not, deal with this premise in a serious way. What is considered crack can vary considerably from fandom to fandom - for example, a crack concept for a TV drama set in the real world might be normal for a more surreal or fantasy fandom.
When dealt with seriously, the phrase "Crack Treated Seriously" might be used, a tag or description probably popularised on AO3. The implication is that though the author considers the premise silly, the story is not written to be primarily humorous.
Crackfic -- refers to stories in which completely unbelievable or inexplicable things occur, generally written shamelessly and with no excuse beyond a desire to have fun. Often are also PWPs, though not always NC17. See also: 'PWP'
by September 2017, the definition was updated to:Crackfic refers to stories in which completely ridiculous, unbelievable or insane things occur, often without reasonable explanation but great enjoyment. Are generally written shamelessly and with no excuse beyond a desire to have fun. Often are also PWPs, though not always NC17. Are almost always humourous, although it is possible to write them seriously. Is so referred not only because such crackfics often seem as if they could only be conceived by an author riding a high, but also because they can be hilariously addictive to readers as well. See also: Humour and/or PWP"
Negative or Neutral Term?
Discussion has arisen within fandom about whether the label "crackfic" can be pejorative. Some claim that initially it was always meant derogatory: "Initally, Crack!fic was short for "oh, god. That's aweful. the writer must be on crack to have beagles be in their story or have blair shot/stabbed/raped/require a liver transplant/etc or think that wings were a good idea." It was derogatory, and there was nothing positive in it. The story was self-indugent codswollop, with no basis in reality or canon, and there was do doubt about that." 
Some argue that such a label gives the writer permission to take the topic and/or writing less seriously, thus producing substandard fiction: "The downside is it's also an excuse to be lazy in the name of fun. So I think crackfic in the hands of careless or inexperienced writer could be a painful, ugly thing." 
Others believe that crack simply refers to the inherent silliness of the topic, and those who write crack can do so with just as much skill as any "serious" writer: "Crackfic is, IMO, a matter of premise. Crackfic implies an initial premise that is implausible, if not impossible, a premise that's surrealist, even absurdist. Someone turns into a girl. Or a badger. Or a penguin. Or they sprout wings. Or lay eggs. Or get pregnant, despite being a man. x being y for z minutes. They get set down in a historical context outside the limits of accepted behavior, without being called on it - a man is "cast" as a schoolmarm, complete with skirts and petticoats." 
Other fans dislike the term as it pre-labels a fic for them: "... that's why it bothers me, sometimes, when an author labels a story crackfic—she's doing the thinking for me, telling me how to judge the story, where to rank it. But I want to do that, myself. And it is, I'm sure, about the writer's feelings about her story and her own process while writing it, but it still bugs me some to be told that I shouldn't be taking this story seriously. What if I do? Does that mean my judgement is off?" 
For a very early 2006 discussion of crackfic, see What is this human thing called crackfic?.
Definition & Criteria
Depending on the fandom, certain tropes or plot twists may or may not be considered "crack." A fandom like DC Comics - which features clones, shapeshifters, angels, mermaids, space aliens and an island of magical lesbian separatists all happily coexisting in one canon - has a higher standard for crack than a fandom like due South. In turn, due South's quirky, offbeat tone and occasional moments of magical realism lends itself better to stories with fanciful premises than a source with an emphasis on strict realism, like Law & Order or The Wire. Several DC Comics fans made this point by taking the wtf_27 challenge, and finding examples for every "crackfic" prompt (such as bodyswap or wingfic) in mainstream canon.
Some crack premises that were presented as absurd in older fanworks (even if the term "crack" had not been invented yet) have outlived the original definition. One example is early m/m fanworks such as Kirk/Spock (TOS) in which the very premise was seen as outlandish. Most fans today would also probably avoid labeling or writing a fic where a character "turns into a girl" as crack. Some early crack premises, such as mpreg, once seen as very rare and outlandish would likely be used as a trope today.
Some fandoms are known for crack above and beyond that in canon; e.g. Stargate: Atlantis has a reputation for producing crackfic.
Crack vids are a phenomenon in some TV and anime fandoms. These are vids that edit, mashup, and remix the canon footage to humorous effect. They may include footage from other shows "using the same format that Tumblr does with gifs to expand on the original scenes and explain what the audience's reaction would be." Often these vids are composed of very brief scenes separated by a burst of static.
Because these videos are so brief, they often rely on well-known media. That's why you end up hearing Frozen's Let It Go or the uber nostalgic Every Time We Touch by Cascada. Crack videos reaffirm what the fans already know about themselves. "I have this feeling about this character", it's a way if sharing a communal memory.
Examples in Fanworks
- Star Trek: The lengthy Kraith parodies by Sheryl Roberts, beginning with The Affirmation.
- SGA: "But Where Would They Live?" by thingswithwings features Rodney the unicorn, John the rainbow, Teyla the dolphin, and Ronon the warm spring breeze.
- SGA: The Epic Tale of John & Rodney, Two Girl Scout Cookies In Love by bitter-crimson has John and Rodney as a Samoa and a Thin Mint, with pictures. The story includes an explicit sex scene.
- Battlestar Galactica: "Benevolent Sibling" by Fahye; for the Cylons, the Galactica's just another reality TV show.
- Care Bears: Slave Bear of Care-a-Lot, by Tami, is Care Bear BDSM. (We hope the warning is implied.) Written for Yuletide 2005, it more or less singlehandedly upholds the challenge's reputation for producing crack by the gallon.
- Torchwood: Trying to Communicate by Copperbadge; The author describes this story as merely 'bordering perilously' on being crackfic, however it contains lolcats.
- Death Note: Adaptation by Silver Pard; Genderswap.
- PC/Mac: The Wrong Side of the Tracks by Ingrid; Mac gets a virus.
- Supernatural: List of SPN crackfic by cliche.
- Tetris: Tetris Porn by Velvet_Mace, "about as lemonish as non-sexual blocks on a screen with classic Russian music playing in the background can get."
- Fandom/LiveJournal: Making Up Is Hard To Do by China_Shop, written when fandom and LJ were having problems.
- Smallville: Kryptonian Mating by Saber ShadowKitten; How Lex Luthor learned to stop freaking and love his breasts (even though he's not a girl nor does he become one).
- Harry Potter: The Misadventures of Draco Malfoy, Ferret by Saber Shadowkitten; Draco gets turned into a ferret. A girl ferret. And gets pregnant as a ferret. And has ferret babies. And also gets molested by the Giant Squid. Yet, it's insanely sweet.
- BBC Sherlock: On the courting behaviour of the British Sherlock by Bold_as_Brass; Sherlock and John are specimen of their respective species that are kept in a zoo. Tags include Crack, Humor, and Zoofic.
- Merlin: The Spirit of Christmas, by tourdefierce; AU where Merlin is literally Santa and Arthur is literally an elf, and they have wild sex.
- Naruto: I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again! by EvilFuzzy9. As described by the author, "A cracky, epilogue-compliant time travel fic. With added emphasis on CRACK. Seriously."
- Popslash: Antarctica by Mere and Kate, an unofficial entry to the Slash Across America popslash challenge in 2002, was probably the first example of penguinfic (or more accurately: penguin not!fic).
- Veronica Mars/MCU crossover: The Continuing Adventures of Darcy Lewis, Stark Industries assistant, and Veronica Mars, SHIELD Agent. by fade_like_starlight. "Darcy Lewis. Veronica Mars. Together, they'll either solve crimes, or commit them"
- Yuri!!! on Ice: Crying Breakfast Friends by Owliye, which features Victor as a talking noodle and Yuuri as a custard cream.
- Birds of a Feather by toft, Aubrey/Maturin story in which Stephen is transformed into a penguin.
- Miraculous Ladybug: Gabriel's incredible plan by Wingedcatgirl, Gabriel Agreste's masterplan backfires.
- Fanworks Tagged crack on Asianfanfics.com
- Harry Potter: Seventh Horcrux by EmeraldAshes; In which Harry is insane, Hermione is a Dark lady-in-training, Ginny is a minion, and Ron is confused.
- The Buzzfeed Unsolved Crack by Sim Mallec on YouTube.
- Papa Don't Preach - Torchwood mpreg
- I Swear - Smallville - Clark and Lex in wedded bliss, mpreg and kryptonite unicorns
- The Haikyuu Crackvids - a more known series is the HQ Crack vids by FitCrackStudio (part 1 part 2 part 3). There are also a number of Haikyuu crack vines, especially on Twitter.
- OMG CRACK PLEASE! by crabbiekat on Youtube
- captain america | crack!vid and its sequels by chrissy mae on YouTube.
- "they'd make nice babies"; stormpilot crack!vid - A Star Wars vid by hey winchester on YouTube.
- X-Files: a selection of Crack!Vids on YouTube
- Owlbbs (pronounced owl babies) were anthropmorphic owls hatched by Nite Owl II of Watchmen. There are several drawings in the masterpost at Livejournal.
- A helpful tutorial on "how the hell aziraphale-as-crowley managed to get into that bath without getting his socks wet" by elise-simpson, with followup suggestions drawn by alaska-riversong and generally-a-lark. Neil Gaiman commented: "I imagined a lot of things while we were making Good Omens. I never ever once imagined this thread."
- Dobby Gollum by Mar-ER at DeviantArt
- Which Supernatural Guy owns Dean’s Bisexual Heart - a webcomic about a gameshow
- Beat Me Up, Scotty - a T-shirt from the 90's with Spock in bondage clothing. One of these t-shirts was among Sandy Harrold's items distributed at Escapade in 2012.
- Epic WTF? by HeroforPain features Boba Fett and Mrs. Doubtfire being married by Batman.
- XS: Chaq - Crackfic fanart by Merrypaws is a fan comic inspired by a crack smut fic shipping Chase Young and a genderbent Jack Spicer from Xiaolin Showdown.
- curly fry!stiles and potato!derek by scartracs. The name says it all. (Fandom: Teen Wolf)
- Fan Art tagged with crack on tumblr
- Fan Art tagged with crack on DeviantArt
- Battlestar Galactica: bsg_crack
- My Chemical Romance: mcr_crack_fic
- Supernatural: spn_crackfic
- Queer as Folk: qaf_crackfic
- One Piece: onepiececrack
- What is this human thing called crackfic? (2006)
- Tips on writing a crackfic? - r/Fanfiction
- YouTube Poop
- CrackFic & Crack Pairing pages at TV Tropes
- Crack tag at AO3 (16,244 fanworks as of 15 December 2013)
- Crack Treated Seriously at AO3
- "Readers piled on Palin's attempt to meet with Margaret Thatcher. More Palin crack here, here, and here." Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic (online), June 18, 2010. Used as a term for "OMG, this can't really be happening, can it?" (offline)
- Crack Fics Community on Fanfiction.Net
- Recs tagged as Crack at Fancake
- possibly the original use?
- Such goods are not sold so much anymore, but see this wallet (accessed 2/12/2009)
- TV Tropes: Crack is Cheaper (accessed 2/12/2009)
- from Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Katharine Scarritt
- Moonbeam's Fanfiction Predilections: "Fanfiction Terminology - Moonbeam's Predilections". 2018-06-07. Archived from the original on 2018-06-07.
- Definition of Crack in Fanfiction Terminolgy By Moonbeam's Predilections, as of September 2017
- wickedwords. Comment on Cereta's post Crackfic. What is that, exactly? Posted 5 October 2005. (accessed 12 February 2009)
- snoopygirl at What is this human thing called crackfic?, 2006
- marythefan at What is this human thing called crackfic?, 2006
- Carolyn Claire at What is this human thing called crackfic?
- Chevauchee, Untitled Livejournal Entry, 08 May, 2006, (Accessed 18 October, 2008)
- What the Fandom: What is a Crack!Vid?, by shannonl5
- 5 Reasons Why Anime Crack Will Break Your Face, by Dylan Rimmer, Dec 18 2014
- @oochqmemes, @haikyuuasvines