My Immortal (Harry Potter story)

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Fanfiction
Title: My Immortal
Author(s): Tara Gilesbie
Date(s): around 2006
Length: ~23,000 words
Genre: troll/badfic
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: Full story at the My Immortal Wiki

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

My Immortal is a parody fanfic, written by Tara Gilesbie. Written in the presumed style of beginning amateur authors who try to pile everything on at once, it is the story of Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, a vampire who attends Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Whether it is deliberate badfic or not is hotly contested. It is perhaps the single most famous work of fanfiction in the world.

My Immortal lampoons everything from Harry Potter to Twilight and the many pre-teen and teenage fangirls who attempt to write fan fiction without really understanding yet how to construct a plot or develop characters, let alone use proper spelling and punctuation.

It is also a sendup of the Mary Sue concept as well as a self-insertion fic. The author makes no pretense that she herself is not Ebony Way (whose name is misspelled several different ways in the story). She is assisted by a friend whose handle is bloodytearz666. In between chapters, the author rails at the "preps" who have written in to criticize her narrative. At one point the tale is interrupted by a supposed hacker who writes a chapter killing off Ebony and returning all the canon characters to normal (see Protectors of the Plot Continuum).

The novel was originally published on FanFiction.Net, but was removed for unknown reasons. There is a petition to put it back up. It was available at the My Immortal rehost site.

Summary

Enoby delz wit rly sris issus by StolenWater (2009)

The story follows Ebony Way as she forms a romantic attachment to Draco Malfoy (an elegant Goth in this story), in spite of her concern that he has had a relationship with Harry "Vampire" Potter and may still be interested in him. Voldemort, claiming to know of Ebony's relationship with Draco through "telekinesis", commands her to kill Harry. Various people including Hagrid and someone called "Snaketail" confess that they love Ebony, while Snape and Remus are "pedofiles" who take pictures of her. Ebony begins to have precognitive visions, which are later verified. Prof. Sinister tells Ebony that if Voldemort had ever had people who loved him he would not have become evil, so Ebony's task is to go back in time and seduce him.

From Encyclopedia Dramatica:
My Immortal is the most famous, notoriously bad fan fiction ever written. Based very loosely in the Harry Potter universe and featuring the blatant Mary-Sue protagonist Ebony (or often times "Enoby") Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, it reads like a detailed list of everything a fanfic author could ever possibly do wrong, only taken to exaggerated, horrifying extremes. Written by super-tard Tara Gilesbie, My Immortal was originally posted to sometime in 2006, but was subsequently deleted by the staff after causing a severe drop in the site's collective IQ. In fact, the fanfic is so unbelievably bad that many refuse to accept that it's real, insisting that Tara was only trolling and that the story is really a parody. Regardless of the author's intent, My Immortal remains one of the most cringe-worthy, unintentionally hilarious, so-bad-it's-good pieces of literature the internets have ever shat out.

Impact

My Immortal was well known in fandom spaces before articles about the fanfic appeared on several non-fandom news websites in late July 2013, following the announcement of a Youtube web series adaptation.[1][2] According to The Daily Dot,
No one can truly hold the illustrious title of “worst fanfic on the internet”, but “My Immortal” (named after the Evanescence song, because of course) is surely a strong contender.[3]

Several (presumably) unauthorized print versions have been offered from time to time.[4] Dramatic readings can also be found on Youtube:[5] My Immortal has also been translated into several different languages, a spectacular accomplishment as many do not believe the original text was written in English. There were also attempts at English translations. These differ from sites and users reposting the story in it's original form. One such English translation corrected the spelling and grammar, and removed the unofficial Chapter 39 which was believed to be the work of a hacker.(This chapter was only excluded because it already had perfect spelling and grammar.)[6]

My Immortal has inspired fanart, photo manips and fan comics. In 2010, the My Immortal Wiki was created, and currently hosts >300 files that include many examples of fanart and photo manips inspired by this work. Several fanfictions imitating the style and tone of My Immortal have also been written in multiple fandoms. Some of them can be found on the My Immortal AU tag on Ao3.

Beginning in 2019, some fans unhappy with J.K. Rowling's increasingly transphobic rhetoric began to credit Tara Gilesbie as the author of Harry Potter. [7][8]

The only Harry Potter author I respect is Tara Gilesbie[9]

Author

A fan, xXMidnightEssenceXx, posted the story to FanFiction.Net in March 2011, and included this introduction:
Obviously I did not write this, it was published on this site 5 years ago, then removed. There are probably other copies of this on FanFiction as well as other sites, but I though I'd post it anyway. Those who remember My Immortal well should also remember the first few chapters (1-15) were co-written with 'Raven' hence they were spelt better etc but don't worry Raven leaves in chapter 16 (which is where her character Willow gets expelled from Hogwarts). However, she seems to return... The copy on here I'm pretty sure is the 100% original version of My Immortal with no edits at all outside those by Raven (which were in the original). This version will include the 'hacker' chapter 39 and the original chapter 39, and the possibly fake "My Immortal 2" if I can find it! [10]

Also in 2011, someone using the handle TheBatMan claimed co-authorship, and admitted it was a trollfic, in a since deleted post. See archived version.

On 22 August 2017, the author apparently reemerged on FictionPress, to confirm that she is not Lani Sarem.[11]

On 7 September 2017 Buzzfeed announced that the author is really Rose Christo, who "with the help of one beloved foster sister" published the story as a way to make contact with her brother who was separated from her in the New York foster care system. Her autobiography was scheduled to be published in 2018.[12] It was later canceled and questions were raised about her story. [13] [14]

So as it turns out the whole thing with Rose was a hoax and the real Tara is still out there. Waiting, longing, in a dark alley with her hand stretched out so that I may one day shake it. [15]

The identity of My Immortal's author is still in dispute/unknown.

Comments

Some examples of fans explaining the My Immortal phenomenon to those new to fandom, or unfamiliar with this story.

I Googled it but still have no idea so for people who only started being in the fandom a few years ago what's up with My Immortal? And why is it read ironically/unironically?

*cracks knuckles*

Okay so here’s some fandom history for you.

So back in the mid nineties, when grunge was really taking off, there was a small resurgence of the old glam-goth style that had been really popular for a while in the eighties (via the Cure, David Bowie, Lost Boys etc). Between 1996-1999, it was this sort of taboo culture which got picked up by a couple of really popular bands (Marilyn Manson being the forefront, and a handful of bands that were one-hit wonders-Kitty for example, then bigger bands caught on, like Korn in the late nineties). It gave birth to the scene/emo culture where suddenly bands like Evanescence and My Chemical Romance began to rocket up the charts–based on both music and a particular style.

In about 2004, there were several young kids, between the ages of 12-15, who were pouring their hearts out into “song fic” which you would constantly see in author’s notes at the beginning of fic– “MCR inspired Drarry Song-fic” which usually had Harry taking his angst and rage out on some black eyeliner and the really barmy early internet slang, exploring bisexuality with fics using a lot of spit-lube and black lipstick, and homophobic Ron, and Father-Figure Snape, accompanied by mid-sentence author’s notes and song lyrics every other paragraph.

In I think it was 2006 or something–there was the birth of My Immortal, which was a fic that took all those early, scene-kid, emo tropes and bad slang and horrendous cliches–bad spelling, bad grammar, loads of goths v preps, and poured them into the masterpiece that was My Immortal.

The song-fic, scene-kid, emo group of people were all growing older and growing out of that early angst, so it’s hard to tell if this was just the last hurrah of these stories, or if it was someone who really wanted to troll the early fandom and take the piss by writing something so comically horrible, that it was an instant sensation. Like a fanfic B-movie–Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but worse.

It has been re-uploaded HERE, as well as turned into a Web Series HERE. But if you really want to do this to yourself, feel free to read it. If you want a real treat, see if you can search back on ffnet to the early 2000s, using the keywords Drarry, MCR, and Evanescence, and you’ll find some truly, unironic gems that was the horror of the early HP fandom. [16]
I have seen that 'story' go around a lot and I still don't know what it is. WHAT is My Immortal??

Let’s go all the way back to 2006, when the internet was just becoming a thing to young people. Back when a majority of the websites we know today were either just starting out or just starting to pick up in popularity, including fanfiction.net. A lot of fanfictions had already filled the archives, both bad and good, but one fanfiction in particular caught people’s attention almost immediately. And it was ‘My Immortal’ by “Tara Gilesbie”, or ‘XXXbloodyrists666XXX’ as was her username on the website. Supposedly taking place in the world of Harry Potter, this particular fanfic gets to a point where, had it not been for the actual characters’ names being present, you can’t really tell what it’s supposed to be referencing as it has very little acknowledgement of the source material’s canon. The story’s main focus is “Tara’s” self-insert OC, Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way. Also known as Enoby, Egogy, Evony, Ibony, or just Tara. To anyone who has only heard of ‘My Immortal’, it just sounds like your typical run of the mill “mary sue” fanfiction. But what made ‘My Immortal’ stand above the rest were three things: the butchered grammar, the author’s seemingly obsession with the gothic subculture, and the mary sue herself.

[...] But what truly, TRULY made ‘My Immortal’ such a phenomenon is that no one knew if it was legit. There were two sides to how people felt about it, those who thought it was a real story and Tara at the time was another young angsty teen who had just been introduced to the internet (which would explain the terrible grammar and botched sex scenes), and those who thought the story was one big joke written by a genius troll who made Tara up as a persona, which was extremely plausible since everything about the story was so wrong and completely blown out of proportion that there was no possible way someone could’ve come up with it and been completely serious. But people on the other side have argued that they’d have a very, VERY dedicated troll.[17]
My Immortal is a notoriously bad Harry Potter (and also possible Back to the Future and Star Wars crossover) fanfiction that was published on Fanfiction.net in 2006 by someone under the name Tara Gilesbie. it’s a pretty blatant self-insert fic of a teenage girl living out her fantasy of being a sexy vampire who all the hot guys fight over and there’s time travel and it’s fucking batshit and the writing becomes more and more illegible as the story goes on and I love every part of it. it’s hilarious and a great insight into the mind of the author (regardless of whether Tara Gilesbie was actually a teenage girl who wrote the fic in seriousness, or if it was a parody and Tara is a character herself). many people have speculated over the years that it is a trollfic but I’ve always disagreed; the main reason people think this is because the genre has become so diluted with its own parodies of My Immortal that it seems to blend in with all the parodies and thus seems like a joke to the average person (see: this trope). it’s unlikely for My Immortal to be a parody because before My Immortal, there were no fanfics quite like it. bad fanfiction was an entirely different type of thing. also. every single person from age 10 to 18 I knew on the internet in 2006 wrote exactly like this. so I think My Immortal is genuine.[18]

In recent years, the fic has also been viewed fondly, as a notable story from an earlier generation of fandom. It is often a source of fandom nostalgia and has even been called a fandom classic.

Albert Dumblydore's most infamous line. Photo manip by Unknown artist (Unknown date)
While the story was up I had seen some of the best comments in the world in the reviews. People were actually role playing the characters and leaving notes in the review section. There was a Lord Voldemort that was fucking hilarious, but the James was the best. Now, the fic has been taken down and we are thus left with the memory of it.[19]

Whenever I see people quoting/referencing/parodying My Immortal it’s always one of the same four or five lines. You know the ones.

The iconic opening paragraph, “Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair… (et cetera).”

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU MOTHERFUKERS!”

“I MAY BE A HOGWARTS STUDENT… BUT I AM ALSO A SATANIST!”

“Then he put his thingie into my you-know-what and we did it for the first time.”

“And Loopin was masticating to it!”

As great as those are, I’d like to throw a spotlight on what I think are some of the underappreciated parts of this classic work of fanfiction. [...][20]

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

Related & Inspired

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

Fanfiction

My Immortal AUs

Full blown AUs often take characters from other source materials and choose an existing character to be the Mary Sue/Ebony Way stand in. Not all of these works are set in Hogwarts, but almost all works follow the same style and tone as the original My Immortal.

  • My Miraculous by nervoussurfer, It's a new year at Hogwarts, and Ebony Mari’nette Dementia Raven Dupain-Cheng Maé has come back to dominate one last time for her seventh year. A Miraculous Ladybug My Immortal AU. (2016)

Short fics/parodies

The first chapter of My Immortal has inspired many short related works written in a similar style. These are often short parodies based on only Chapter 1 or the introductory paragraph/first sentence of My Immortal. Some are also a meta commentary on the source material they parody.

Translations

Meta

Further Reading

References

  1. Abraham Riesman, The Bizarre, Unsolved Mystery of 'My Immortal,' the World’s Worst Fanfiction Story in Vulture, March 2015.
  2. See The Atlantic Wire, Jul 29, 2013. See also Mediajunkie Studios - YouTube, Archived version
  3. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. The worst "Harry Potter" fanfic ever is now a hilarious webseries. The Daily Dot. July 29, 2013
  4. My Immortal by Tara Gilesbie (Paperback) - Lulu, Archived version; My Immortal by Tara Gilesbie (Paperback) - Lulu, Archived version; My Immortal by Tara Gilesbie (Amazon), Archived version
  5. My Immortal Ch 1 - A Dramatic Reading - YouTube, Archived version; A Dramatic Reading: My Immortal by Tara Gilesbie. Chapter One. - YouTube, Archived version.
  6. An English Translation of My Immortal on Wattpad by audiodelta0206.
  7. Tweet by @LitteOverheard, Dec 20 2019. Wow I can't believe Tara Gilesbie wrote the whole Hardy Potter series. Accessed July 8 2020
  8. Tweet thread by @ShartiTheClown, Dec 19 2019.I love the real author of Harry Potter, Tara Gilesbie. Iconic. Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way would never do me like this. Accessed July 8 2020.
  9. Tweet by @TheLastGherkin, June 30 2020.
  10. At Fanfiction.net. xXMidnightEssenceXx's repost of the story only includes the first 35 of the total 44 chapters.
  11. XXXblodyblaktearz666XXX on FictionPress (Accessed 3 September 2017)
  12. The Story Of "My Immortal" Is More Wild And Heartbreaking Than You Imagined on Buzzfeed (accessed 9 September 2017)
  13. My Immortal memoir canceled: Author says she's been 'branded a liar' on Entertainment Weekly by David Canfield, dated 3 October 2017 (accessed 9 October 2017)
  14. The "My Immortal" Book Is No Longer Going To Be Published on Buzzfeed by Jarry Lee, dated 3 October, 2017 (accessed 10 October 2017)
  15. What is my Immortal, Edit by Tumblr user arsenic-colada
  16. An anonymous ask, and an explanation at lala-loony-lupin.tumblr, Archived version April 27, 2016
  17. Extracts from a response to a Tumblr ask, Archived version by arsenic-colada, 2017. (accessed 22 June 2020)
  18. Extract from Tumblr reply to an anonymous asked, answered by rindeservedbetter-deactivated20, 2017.
  19. My Immortal by Tara Gilesbie UPDATED 1-01-10, excerpt from introductory note, posted by Livejournal user suedestroyer453, 2009.
  20. 2016-10-31 by fiddler-on-the-starship