Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe

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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)NZPU, Zemo Paroleverse, Parole Universe, Nebulous Parole Universe
Related tropes/genresRaft Trash Party, Zeemster
See alsoPrison AU, Spy, Secret Agent, Assassin, or Hitman AU
Related articles on Fanlore.

Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe is a trope that came from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series.

The Trope

"Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe" (sometimes abbreviated "NZPU") is a term generally used to indicate that Helmut Zemo is paroled from the Raft without any specified explanations. Many also interpret the term as a type of setup when Zemo has to be out of the Raft to work on missions with Sam Wilson and/or Bucky Barnes.

It’s more of a “Zemo is out of the Raft, but I don’t feel like I need to explain why because it’s not relevant to the story” kind of situation.

Sholio on Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe[1]


Although the trope had been commonly used in fanworks prior to September 2021, the term "Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe" itself was first coined in that month by user scioscribe as an AO3 tag. The fans started discussing about the tag on Winterbaron Discord (18+) and picked up the usage.

"Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe" became a common AO3 tag around the beginning of August 2022 as a synonym of "Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe | Helmut Z. Paroled from Raft to Help Bucky B. and Sam W. with Mission" tag. It was later revised to "Nebulous Zemo Parole Universe | Helmut Zemo Paroled from Raft".


This trope is mostly associated with ships revolving the three characters - Zemo, Bucky, and Sam:

The trope also includes the gen versions of the ships, especially for the last one mentioned.

Related Fanon and Trope

  • Raft Trash Party- Adapted from Hydra Trash Party, involves Raft guards abusing Zemo in-between paroles.
  • Reverse Zemo Paroleverse - Role reversal AU in which Zemo never blew up the UN or went to prison. Instead, he just shut down completely, hollowed-out by grief, and Sam and Bucky--as criminalized superheroes--are the ones who ended up prisoners.[2]

Notable Fanworks


  • Trust Fall by Sholio, Rated Teen, Sam is stranded in the wilderness with a concussion. He knows he can trust the person with him. He just isn't quite sure who that is or why he's so sure of it. (Sam & Zemo, Sam & Bucky & Zemo)
  • Dislocated by scioscribe, Rated Mature, Bucky looks down at the knuckles on his right hand, where the skin is split. Someone—Sam—has wiped off the blood. He doesn’t remember hitting anybody. There’s something in his head, like a memory so thin that, turned sideways, it almost disappears. (Red light. Somebody pounding on glass.) (Sam & Bucky & Zemo, Bucky/Zemo)
  • The Pain (of You Caring) by Sparcina, Rated Explicit, Zemo doesn’t have to justify himself. If he wants to use the loosened leash of his parole to get laid in a spectacularly violent fashion, it’s no one’s business but his own. Until he goes too far, and Bucky gets involved. (Bucky/Zemo, Sam & Bucky & Zemo)


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