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A fanwork is jossed when new canon invalidates the story's character backstory, plot, etc. Jossing is a common occurrence with fanfic written for an open canon. The term originally comes from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fandoms (both shows created by Joss Whedon)[1], but has spread beyond the Jossverse.

For instance, in Stargate Atlantis fandom, someone who wrote a story when the first season was airing about how Atlantis never re-connected with Earth would have been jossed when contact was re-established in the second season.

Star Wars is a fandom that was constantly jossed.

A very early awareness of jossing is in Spockanalia #1 (1967): "Yeds are aware that when the new season begins, two weeks after our anticipated publication date, many (all?) of our lovely theories will be blown to pieces. On the other hand, we console ourselves with thoughts of all the new material we'll have to play with."

Impact on Fandom

Getting jossed could seriously affect a fan's emotional connection to a show or film. Star Trek The Original Series fans, having waited so many years for the show's return, had created reams of speculative stories, articles and fanon to fill in the unknown about the ship and crew; so that when Star Trek The Motion Picture finally hit the big screen in December 1979, it could be a major letdown. Nancy Kippax, convention organizer and creator of Contact, spoke about the film's effect this way:

The release of ST:TMP triggered a firestorm in the show's fandom. But while it gave the creative element of fandom a whole new set of rules by which to play, it also negated other long-held beliefs and suppositions. There were fans who loved the film. There were fans who scorned and criticized it. But did the film, in and of itself, cause a division among its devotees? I don't think so....I must confess that while I definitely did love The Motion Picture, warts and flyovers and all, it did kill something creative within me. Speaking from a purely personal observation, I found it very difficult to write Trek after ST:TMP. Bev (Volker) and I produced only one major story set in the aftermath of the movie, and that was for a zine to which we had committed a contribution... But our prolific fan fiction writing days were over. It could have been simple burn out, unconnected to the movie altogether. Or the film itself may have had something to do with it. It wasn't that I saw anything wrong or "off" about what the film postulated. It was all viable canon – the end of the five year mission, Spock going to Gol for mysterious reasons, Kirk accepting a desk job. We read all the creative extrapolations and explanations, and seldom found them wanting. Reflecting back upon it all now, I think it was the idea that this world was no longer my personal playground. Someone else, someone in creative control, had stamped it with their authority. It negated any alternate suppositions I might make and forced me into the narrow confines it had deemed true. It was a clear case of "having is not always so pleasing a thing as wanting". I had begged for a film or series, for new and fresh material – but now that it was a reality, I was sorry I had asked! I suppose, from a personal perspective, I spent the rest of the next decade or so waiting for the next new movie to show me what happened next. I was no longer creatively connected to that universe; I was merely an observer. [Read more at Reminisce With Me/1980 ].

In his blog Steve Reads, Steve Donoghue observes:

And artistically successful or not, Star Trek: The Motion Picture – both the book and the movie – were seismic in their implications for the franchise. The movie made lots of money for the studio, which guaranteed sequels, and the book took all of the Star Trek fictions that had come before it – all that fan fiction, all those heartfelt novels – and plopped them firmly into the category of ‘imaginary’ stories, ex cathedra fantasies that never ‘really’ happened. This forlorn property, this little show that had been kept alive by fans when nobody else cared, was now a multi-million dollar corporate cash-machine. Suddenly there was a canon; suddenly there were corporate executives imposing standards. And one more element was introduced, something that seemed inconspicuous at the time but would go on to have the biggest, most unprecedented ramifications of all: for the first time ever, time had been introduced into an ongoing adventure series.[2]

In 2015 a fan on twitter mused on how fandom used to be: "getting jossed was a huge blow that completely invalidated your fic. Now the kiddies don't even have a term for it."[3]



  1. ^ For example, this post at Word Origins, dated July 1, 2002, says that the term was named "after the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Joss Whedon, who is famous for unexpected plot and character twists".
  2. ^ Donoghue, Steve (2011-02-18). "Notes for a Star Trek Bibliography: The Big Screen!". Open Letters Monthly Archive Feature: stevereads — Open Letters Monthly. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-27. {{cite web}}: Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Julie Karasik on Twitter: "Like how getting jossed was a huge blow th…". 2015-02-16. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.