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Synonyms: personal canon, head canon, head-cannon, headcannon
See also: fanon, canon
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Headcanon (or head canon, head-canon) is a fan's personal, idiosyncratic interpretation of canon, such as habits of a character, the backstory of a character, or the nature of relationships between characters. The term comes from the fact that it is the canon that exists in a fan's head.

This can be affected both by professional tranformative works, such as art, movies and audiobooks, and by fanworks such as fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, manips, vids and podfic.

Headcanon may represent a teasing out of subtext present in the canon, or it may directly contradict canon. If other fans share this interpretation, it may become fanon.

Headcanon became a popular term online in 2010, though usage on livejournal goes back to at least 2007, with a shared meme "Headcanon is love?".

The phrase "Headcanon accepted!" is sometimes used to indicate you've adopted another fan's headcanon as your own.

On Tumblr, there are numerous submission-based blogs for headcanons, usually named along the lines of "[X] of the Day" or "Your Fave is [X]", where X is an attribute or umbrella term. For example Lesbian of the Day, Your Fave Loves Pineapple Pizza, All Your Faves are Hufflepuffs, Neurodivergent & LGBT Character of the Day, etc. This phenomenon has also since spread to Twitter, with accounts such as Bisexual of the Day and your fav gets pegged.

Headcanon or coded?

Throughout the 2000s, particularly from the 2020s onwards, some fans noticed an increase in people using (insert term)-coded with greater frequency, sometimes as a means of implying a greater canonical validity than just a headcanon[1]. For example, instead of fans headcanoning a character as autistic, they were autistic-coded, and instead of a character being head-canoned as queer, they were queer-coded.

Heated discourse can often arise from this increased use of the idea of coding over headcanons, especially with some uses of coded being used in a way that some fans consider to be in bad faith, such as for denigrating other fans in shipwars or implying fans are ignorant or bigoted for not accepting the coding of a character. Given the ongoing debate about where the line is between a headcanon and coding, discussions and drama around this can become heated.

Fan Comments

hey fandom i invented this cool new thing called "headcanon" it's where you have your own interpretations of the text and don't harass the creator to weigh in on your opinions[2]

Headcanon is affected by the frequent auditory/orthographic confusion between canon and cannon.

XKCD comic #1401, week of August 4, 2014.[3]
Title text: The nice thing about headcannnons is that it's really easy to get other people to believe in them.

External Links

Further Reading


  1. ^ 'Your headcanons aren't coded', post at r/Fanfiction, November 2022
  2. ^ Jul 12, 2019 by smarshtastic
  3. ^ XKCD headcannon comic #1401 Comic transcript:
    Black hat guy is walking. Black hat guy: New headcannon:
    A figure sits behind a desk with a computer on it. Figure: Yeah?
    Black hat guy has raised his hat, revealing a cannon that shoots the seated figure.
    The desk explodes and the figure is engulfed in smoke. BOOM
    Figure: Augh!