Fan Theory

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Synonyms:
See also: meta, head canon, tinhatting
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Fan theories are interpretations, predictions, analyses and speculations about a given canon's unexplained details or mysteries. Some theories concern and/or are motivated by shipping but plenty are focused on gen elements within the canon.

Tinhatting is a related but often distinct phenomenon, in which fans believe that their real-life OTP is forced to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret due to industry or social pressure.

Responses to Fan Theories from Creators and Critics

Fan theories are often shared on social media platforms, where they may be encountered by both fellow fans and The Powers That Be. Creator responses to fan theories vary, from the playfully encouraging to the outright antagonistic. As fan communities on platforms like Reddit and Twitter play host to increasingly visible conversations about future plot developments in ongoing film franchies and television series, creators and professional critics alike have questioned the role and impact of fan theorizing.

Westworld

The first season of the television show Westworld had been the subject of much fan speculation - so much so that some professional TV critics speculated that all the fan theories had "ruined" the show. Writing for Vox, critic Todd VanDerWerff observed:

"A handful of TV critics have recently written about how fan theorizing — and its omnipresence online — has essentially made it impossible to talk about Westworld as anything but a collection of the top theories. Discussion has largely become uncoupled from theme and character and focused mostly on trying to guess what will happen next."[1]

In the same article, VanDerWerff also quoted scholar Myles McNutt's analysis of the same phenomenon:

"Google Trends shows that the specific idea of “Westworld theories” was not something that predated the show’s premiere, garnering little-to-no search activity in the weeks leading up to its debut. This discourse’s presence in pre-written coverage represents an effort by websites to turn Westworld into another consistent traffic-generating series in the vein of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. Treating the show as a puzzle justifies not only weekly reviews and interviews when episodes air on Sunday, but also updates throughout the week aggregating fan theories from Reddit, responding to theories presented on other outlets, or generating new theories entirely."[2]

Examples of Fan Theories

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fan Theories and Misdirection

Communities

References

  1. Online theorizing ruined too many TV shows in 2016 by Todd VanDerWerff for Vox. Posted on December 2, 2016. Retrieved on June 3, 2018.
  2. Monetizing the Maze: How the Internet Covers Westworld by Myles McNutt for Flow Journal. Posted on November 22, 2016. Retrieved on June 3, 2018.
  3. The Game Theorists Youtube page