The Fandom That Ate Fandom

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See also: Migratory Slash Fandom, Fannish Drift, Juggernaut Ship
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A Fandom That Ate Fandom is a vast, black hole (media) fandom about which all Fandom seems to turn, drawing away fans from other fandoms until the next fandom that ate fandom comes along.

Fandoms That Eat Fandom frequently trigger a certain amount of frustration and resentment on the part of those who aren't interested but have to watch all their friends and favourite fanwork creators endlessly talk about it.

A fandom can be incredibly huge, grow exponentially and still not eat fandom, i.e. impact the relative size of established fandoms. Examples include Harry Potter and Twilight, which ate the mundane world instead of cannibalizing existing fandoms.[1]

Use of the Term

An early use of the term -- in 2006, a fan, JS Cavalcante said:

When I see all that SGA stuff, I basically hear Charlie Brown's teacher, and nothing more: "Mwahp mwahp-mwahp, mwahp-mwahp-mwahp mwahp-mwahp."

I know, I know, I am so bad and wrong and an unbeliever because I Do Not See the Light of the fandom that ate fandom. [2]

A fan in 2007 speculated that:

It's not really about the shows. It's because every two years fandom wants to be eaten by something new. Roughly: 2006 SPN 2004 SGA. 2002 Pop. 2001 Smallville. 1999 The Phantom Menace. 1996 The Sentinel. There wasn't a lot of time between Smallville and Pop. Some might even argue that Pop doesn't count but Pop fandom in 2002, what caught on just as hiatus started, changed how fandom dealt with RPF/RPS. Harry Potter fandom is simply too big, in case you were wondering why I left it out. [3]

Examples of Fandoms That Ate Fandom

  • Star Wars movies (originally 1977-1983): Some fans expressed dismay at the number of zine submissions for the Star Wars movies, in comparison to Star Trek submissions. Some even went as far to note "and please, Star Trek only, no Star Wars!" (as written by advertisers seeking contributions for the gen zine Sol Plus, quoted in Boldly Writing, p.44).
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) swallowed almost all the other big media slash fandoms of its time in a short and intense love affair for one or two years.
  • Smallville (2001-2011)
  • The Naruto anime (2002-2007) and Naruto: Shippuden (2007-2017) were wildly popular in their time in American fandom (especially from 2005 to 2017, since 2005 was when the original anime officially released on cable TV in the United States) and colored the perceptions of many people even outside fandom of memes, ninja, shows and manga meant for the shonen demographic, and anime as a whole.
  • Stargate Atlantis (2004-2009): "One fan once said that SGA was the fandom they expected would make contact with aliens. Aliens would just one day appear on Livejournal or a message board looking for more McKay/Sheppard slash. That's how big, how addictive, and how purely awesome the fandom is. It is the fandom that ate fandom; the black hole fandom, sucking people in and keeping them forever."[4]
  • Supernatural (2005-2020): The fandom exploded around 2010. This was followed by J2 in RPF circles.
  • Merlin (2008 - 2012): The fandom grew in late 2008/early 2009. After that it grew by drawing people from Fanfiction.Net, YouTube, deviantArt and other fannish spaces not so strongly connected to media fandom.
  • Inception (2010): ate much of movie fandom
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009) (December 2009) and Sherlock (BBC) (July 2010): immediately overshadowed the book-based Sherlock Holmes fandom. Sherlock was still in vogue as of July 2013, but then had to share the field with Elementary.
  • Hawaii Five-0 (2010) (2010-2020): ate many of Stargate Atlantis's prominent fans in 2010.
  • One Direction (2010-2015): ate many fans who had never had interest in RPF before and pulled from across the fandomsphere. Went on to, itself, be eaten by kpop and hockey when 1D dissolved in 2015.
  • The Avengers (2012) (May 2012) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe: rapidly devoured fandom with the release of the 2012 movie and remains popular.
  • Teen Wolf (2011-2017): grew in 2012-2013
  • Welcome to Night Vale (2012-present): launched narrative podcasts into the spotlight, and is still the leader in the genre.
  • Homestuck (2009-2016)
  • Gravity Falls (2012-2016): In Western cartoons fandom
  • BTS (2013 - present)
  • Undertale (2015)
  • Boku no Hero Academia (manga: 2014-present; anime: 2016-present)
  • Good Omens (novel: 1990; show: 2019): peaked after the release of the limited series.
  • The Untamed (2019): peaked in international fandom in 2020
  • Dream SMP (2020-2023)
  • Our Flag Means Death (2022)

Anime Fandom

The same type of phenomenon is the norm in anime fandom where fans, from the general reading public to hetshippers to yaoi fangirls, tend to suddenly get into whichever Shounen Jump series is big at the time, an effect bolstered by the seasonal anime cycle in recent years. Examples of fandoms where this sudden interest was more unusual or dramatic include:

Meta/Further Reading