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He appears in a lot of fanworks.
In fanfiction, Niall is most often shipped with fellow band members Zayn Malik (Ziall) or Harry Styles (Narry), though he is also shipped with Liam Payne (Niam) and sometimes Louis Tomlinson (Nouis). However, Niall is the least likely to be slashed of all the band, especially in early 1D fandom, when a lot of fic featured Harry/Louis and/or Zayn/Liam with Niall as the fifth wheel. A lot of Ziam/Larry fanworks even portrayed Niall as "ship captain". The lack of Niall ships may have been partially due to Niall's youthful appearance; many fans commented that he looked the youngest of the band, and some have noted that he is less popular with older fans. Also relevant is that he had crooked teeth during the X Factor and subsequently wore braces until early 2013.
Outside of 1D, Niall is sometimes shipped with fellow Irish musician Niall "Bressie" Breslin (Nessie). This is considered a rarepair, with 134 fanworks on the AO3. Niall is even more rarely paired with Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw, with 24 fics on the AO3. This ship is sometimes called Horchata.
Tropes & Fanon Characterization
He seems the one that's skewed at the younger fans and is painted in fic as being overly twee and cute and innocent. He's also portrayed in lazy fic as very one dimensional, not normally paired up with anyone, normally eating, being stereo typically Irish (writing phonetic accents is a pet peeve of mine so this is particularly aggravating) and generally a bit gross which is annoying. Niall in my opinion is very cute, yes, but he also keeps a lot about himself in order to keep irl things private, which I think is very interesting about him.
Niall slash fans still have some feelings about this fanon:
Even when I’m not reading a fic for Niall I still get SO MAD when he’s the ONE straight one or has flat boring characteristics - LOL HE LIKES FOOD AND PINTS when Niall actually gives us PLENTY of his character that I feel people wilfully ignore through laziness. He’s carefree without being careless, he’s thoughtful, he’s laidback without being lazy, he’s talented with accents, languages and music, he’s easily overwhelmed by large crowds or lots of stress, he’s very neat and clean - like OF ALL THE SHIT HE FREELY GIVES US, PEOPLE TAKE ‘PIZZA AND PINTS AND IRISH LOL’
Fanart examples of fifth-wheel Niall eating, with implied Ziam and Larry:
- One Direction Movie Night by LikeATowtruck on Deviantart (July 17, 2012)
- untitled Tumblr art by dudebropalz (January 19, 2013)
- untitled Tumblr art by liamstolenboxers (October 13, 2014)
- Spooky boyfriends and a bottle of ketchup by maestolenpencil (October 30, 2015)
- Flicker, by prismdreams, a Niall/OFC, (30 March 2020)
- Songstress by prismdreams, a Niall/OFC, AU (11 August 2020)
- Glamored by prismdreams, a Niall/OFC, Vampire!Niall AU (09 June 2020)
- I Know You By Heart by prismdreams, a Niall/OFC, AU (14 July 2020)
- The Honeysuckle Arch by junkshopdisco, a Narry, Gryles, and Horchata fic. (29 June 2015)
- once in your life by wearecities. Niall and Harry make a marriage pact. (2 Nov 2014)
- down for the count by ymorton, a Niall/OMC fic. (2 April 2015)
Fanart and Graphics
Colorful digital Tumblr collage by nnarry. (2013)
Digital drawing by Karukara of Niall dressed in the outfit he wore in the You & I music video. (2014)
Black-and-white twin meme example by nicnolashoult. (2013)
- Niall Horan fanworks at Archive of Our Own
- Niall Horan Tumblr tag
- this is a post entitled ‘niall horan is a giant gooby snuffalupagus lemme snorgle ur belly’ or; ‘look at this cuddle bunbun’ or; ლ(́◉◞౪◟◉‵ლ) or; oh,fuck. - masterpost by mollywaddle
- a protective one direction over niall masterpost :) by idiothoran
- untitled tidy Niall metapost/masterpost by criminiallar
- Anonymous asked: What do you mean by minimization? Just curious., Niall meta post by psycholinguistic (January 2015)
- PARTICULAR NIALL. DISCERNING NIALL. HYPERCONSCIOUS OF HIS IMAGE NIALL. meta post by drownedindeniall (July 2015)
- See valencing's tag meta on an April 6, 2014 Tumblr reblog. #my experience in this fandom has been transformed so utterly #that at this point my first reaction is #PAY SOME FUCKING ATTENTION TO NIALL YOU MEATHEADS #but actually this is valuable fandom history #for everyone who just got here #and is wondering why all the fic is ziam and larry #this pic is pretty representative #of how things used to be
- See also this graphic by lovelarryblog, Finally Niall :D:D, posted December 15, 2014.
- For example, see Captain Niall Horan, and his ships. by he-got-the-dagger-tho, posted to Tumblr 25 January 2015. The art was drawn in response to the "Niall and his two ships" trope.
- Fail fandomanon. anonymous comment thread 2014-02-17. i wouldn't say that he's more well-known outside of fandom, just that he's more popular with offline fandom. among the younger fans, who don't really participate in tumblr/lj/ao3 fandom, he's the second most popular, but with the older fans, he's probably fourth, with zayn and louis ahead of him. However, some anon1d commenters disputed Niall's popularity with any demographic; see comment thread starting 2013-07-02.
- See tags on this post by tumblr user ihavea1dbloghelp: #HOSHAW #GRORAN #HORANSHAW #HORSHAW #HORCHATA #SORRY" and her subsequent "Horchata" tag.
- 2014-04-09 anonymous comment in the "Things You Wouldn't Admit Unanon" thread, fail-fandomanon LiveJournal community.
- tumblr post by lazy_daze, Archived version, posted January 24, 2014.