Out of Character

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Synonyms: OOC, character rape
(antonym) In Character, IC
See also: ATG, meta, He would not fucking say that
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In Media and Fiction

"OOC" or "Out of Character" is a designation sometimes applied to fanworks in which characters act, think, or feel in dramatic discontinuity with their canonically established history. What qualifies as OOC is a massively subjective judgement, since fans rarely agree entirely on what characters are like. Depending on individual interpretation, almost anything could be OOC. Generally, only actions which directly contradict actions the character has taken in canon can be confidently called OOC, and even then the change can be justified by a skilled revisionist writer.

In some cases, the term might be applied to fics in which characters are so weakly defined that they could be replaced with anyone. For weak characters, see also ATG.

Calling something OOC often implies a criticism (that the work fails to capture the character well), but some authors intentionally write OOC and tag their own works as such.[1]

Sometimes, fans feel that The Powers That Be have misunderstood their own creations [2] , and may refer to character actions in canon as OOC. (See also Jump the Shark.)

The opposite of "OOC" is "IC," or "in character."

In Role-Playing games

The term is used in an entirely different way in LARP and online Role-playing_games. In those, OOC indicates an action or conversation not intended to be part of the game itself. In LARPs, this can include announcing time constraints or offering rides to people after the game; in online and email games, it can include conversations about the game itself, or questions about what's permitted. However in many character- and Celebrity-based RPGs, this alternate-level discussion is known as meta.

Fan Comments

As I've said before, PART OF GOOD WRITING IS GETTING THE CHARACTERS DOWN. I'm getting really tired of this "you can forgive a good writer anything" idea that keeps getting bandied about. I mean, if Margaret Atwood sat down and wrote a Pros story, I doubt I'd read it. Unless she was a fan, and knew the series, and captured the characters, of course. But this notion that "you can enjoy the writing 'cause it's so fantastic even though the characters no longer resemble Bodie and Doyle" doesn't hold water for me. I mean, why even call them Bodie and Doyle? Why not change their names and try to get it published for money if it's so damn good? Then I can pick it up at the local bookstore and know EXACTLY what I'm getting--a total fantasy that stars two guys who look like B&D but that's all. And when I want to read a Pros story, I can go looking somewhere else. [3]


  1. ^ https://archiveofourown.org/tags/Out%20of%20Character/works
  2. ^ "As to all the folk who want to discount the slash genre as "out of character" or "beyond canon", in my humble opinion less than 1% of the [X-Files] fic on Gossamer is within canon or, for that matter, within character. Frankly, I'd hesitate to apply the word "canon" to the show, given how it wanders all over the map." -- A troubling phenomenon I've noticed, 1998
  3. ^ quoted anonymously with permission from Virgule-L (Jun 14, 1993)