From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Synonyms: tin hat
See also: wank, Ship Wars, OTP, Tinhats and the Fourth Wall, Truthing
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Tinhat is a fannish term for a fan who believes that the people or characters they ship together are really a couple, but are being forced by The Powers That Be to keep their relationship a secret. Tinhats and tinhatting are usually associated with RPF fandoms, but tinhatting in fiction media fandoms (film, television, etc.) also happens. A lot of tinhat theories are based on fantasies of closeted celebrities (usually actors) who are unable to be open about their relationship in their profession. However, tinhatting of different-sex pairings does occur (and predates the term itself).

The term itself is derived from the stereotype of conspiracy theorists and other paranoid people wearing tinfoil hats to protect themselves from telepathic, microwave or radio transmissions by aliens, the government, or both.[note 1]

The term can refer to the stylish accessory or, by metonymy, to the fan who wears it. It can also be used to refer to any fans who deliberately ignore parts of a canon they dislike in order to continue enjoying the media, for example bad writing, questionable relationship choices, etc.


2008 Wincon Tinhat Fashion Parade

The phrase "tinfoil hats" has been widely used in pop culture since at least the 80s, with the characters in Signs wearing them to protect aliens from reading their minds.[1] In general use, the term "tinfoil hats" is used derogatorily towards individuals who believe in wild or outlandish things.[2]

Thus, when the DomLijah tinhatters began to be seen as a problem by others in their fandom, they were referred to as the "tinfoil hat crowd."[3] In April of 2003, cesare asked DL-anon for "a snappy sobriquet for the hardcore tru believas" who claimed that the The Lord of the Rings movie actors Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan were secretly in love.[3] In a thread under the post, Versaphile and phosfate had the following exchange:


I'd suggest "Asshats" but that's really too generic.



Tin asshats?


Tinheads? Tinhats?

This makes me think of the Tin Man from Oz, but he needed a heart, and these people need brains. Scarecrow?

Oo, ohh! Wormtongues! No, that sounds too much like Harry Potter...


My head seems to have adopted 'Tinhats' overnight.

which is the first known usage of "tinhat" in the way this page describes. More recently, however, the term "tinfoil hat" has been truncated to "tinhat" within the popular culture.[4]

General Use of "Tinhat" in Fandom

After Domlijah, the term tinhats was adopted by fans in many fandoms to describe similar conspiracy theorists and believers. The term is more likely to be used by nonbelievers than the fans in question, though it depends[5]. Fans sometimes use the tinhat terminology ironically or self-deprecatingly; when they are squeeing especially loudly over some piece of celebrity gossip or a new leak of an upcoming season, they may type *dons tinhat* or *polishes tinhat*. These fans seldom mean they really believe that their preferred OTP is a couple in real life.

The term is not synonymous with being an RPF shipper, despite many people's misconception that it is, as most RPF shippers of non-canon celebrity pairings do not believe that the ship is real. Many RPF fanfic contain an explicit disclaimer in the header emphasizing that the story is fiction and denying any implication that the writer thinks the people in question are actually a couple. It's actually considered poor etiquette in many RPF fandoms to mention the topic of shipping, in order to preserve the fourth wall, which is why tinhat is often considered a derogatory term. And, independent of the fourth wall, some fans consider the term to be objectionable on the grounds that it is often accompanied by negative perceptions about those suffering from clinical paranoia, persecutory delusions, or anxiety.[6] Others disagree, pointing to tinhats' long history of being used to describe conspiracy theorists and firm believers in non-proven, fictional or far-fetched theories, and is not used to describe mental health difficulties. [7][8]

Much as tinhatting in an RPF fandom often involves the narrative of celebrities being forced to be closeted, tinhatting in fictional media such as TV and film is most often the result of fans buying into queerbaiting subtext and declaring it to be text. This is also true of het pairings where fans will read romantic subtext into relationships between characters and then declare those ships to be real.

Tinhats and the Fourth Wall

The fourth wall is important in any fandom, but it's especially important in RPF fandoms where it's considered taboo to talk about shipping to the people involved. The problem with the Fourth Wall in relation to tinhatting is two-fold: there are some tinhats who make no effort to hide their beliefs or attempts to spread "the truth" and there are creators who make no attempt to hide their derision for fans.

See Tinhats and the Fourth Wall for more.

Examples of Popular Tinhat Ships


RPF Femslash Ships

Fictional Media Femslash Ships


RPF Slash Ships

Fictional Media Slash Ships

  • One of the very first examples of fictional tinhatting is Spirk.[31]
  • John Watson/Sherlock Holmes led to The Johnlock Conspiracy, an entire conspiracy theory about Johnlock becoming canon. Shippers were so convinced that Johnlock would be canon that there was an entire sub-theory about a secret fourth episode where the ship would be made canon.
  • There are many fans who believed Destiel would either become canon or was already canon.[32][33][34][35][36]
  • Enjolras and Grantaire (Enjoltaire) are the subject of much canon vs not debate.[37] Actor George Blagden, who played Grantaire in the 2012 Les Miserables movie, is a huge proponent of the ship.[38] He implied that he played the charecter as if Grantaire was in love with Enjolras and even went so far as to record a cover of "I'll Follow You into the Dark" where the lyrics have been reworked to refer to the ship.
  • Sterek shippers were such tinhatters that people who got into Teen Wolf because of people declaring it to be canon were left sorely disappointed.[39] It was so pervasive that a Daily Dot article was written about the tinhatting.
  • Klance was an early ship that gained traction and had many shippers insisting it would become canon.[40] Those shippers got serious with their tinhatting when they blackmailed the animation studio of Voltron: Legendary Defender and demanded that Klance become canon.[41]
    • Sheith reached this status after season 6 portrayed a series of strong emotional moments between Shiro and Keith, coupled with the staff's ongoing praise for fanworks of the ship and admissions to enjoying the idea of it. Extreme Sheith fans composed meta and evidence master posts detailing why Sheith would be endgame for them both, or why their interactions couldn't be read as anything but romantic. [42][43][44][45][46][47]

Het Ships

RPF Het Ships

Evidently someone thought this May 1996 cover of "Rolling Stone" showing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in bed was a candid.

Fictional Media Het Ships

  • Korra and Mako (Makorra) were the subject of much tinhatting, including the famous we poppin the BIGGEST bottles post and the Handmaiden and Feudal Lord meme.
    • Their predecessor ship Zutara was the subject of similar tinhatting, especially close to the finale when hints began to drop that both Zuko and Katara would end up with other people.
  • So many people shipped Caitlin Snow and Barry Allen, despite WestAllen being textually endgame, that Snowbarry fans started the Westallen vs. Snowbarry war.
  • The IchiRuki vs IchiHime war had both sides donning their tinhats to prove their ship is real. The IchiRuki side had more severe and documented cases of it, however, even as the manga went on to hint heavily at Ichigo/Orihime and Renji/Rukia. When the manga ended with those two ships canon and more materials came out to cement them, IchiRuki fans sunk deeper into denial as well as anger, including the claim that Kubo originally planned to add "a little romance" for their ship (it was a heavily mistranslated line). [67]

Further Reading

Notes and References


  1. ^ In October 2005, a group of MIT students ran a series of tests that seemed to prove tinfoil hats actually amplify radio waves and thus would be no good against mind control transmissions. Other scientists dispute this finding.


  1. ^ Scene from Signs. Accessed March 29 2019.
  2. ^ What does tinfoil hat mean? Accessed March 29 2019.
  3. ^ a b "cesare at dl_anon: What's in a name? JournalFen ..." Archived from the original on 2013-01-16.
  4. ^ What are Tin Hatters? Posted May 26 2016. Accessed March 28 2019.
  5. ^ I was a hardcore tinhat for a few horrifically embarrassing months in 2009 and proudly identified as such (we all had tinhats on our icons D:). Anon comment in Fail fandomanon, 19 July 2014. (Accessed 27 July 2014)
  6. ^ Fandom and abelist language, Archived version
  7. ^ Tinhat is not abelist, Archived version
  8. ^ The only people saying it’s ableist are Larries, Archived version
  9. ^ PROOF: Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss 100% In a Relationship. Accessed March 29 2019.
  10. ^ Camren Exposed by exposing-5h. Posted April 18 2016. Accessed March 29 2019.
  11. ^ "Facts" tag on scary-ginger. Accessed March 29 2019.
  12. ^ Mel B Says 2 Became 1 With Fellow Spice Girl Geri Halliwell Back in the Day. Posted March 25 2019. Accessed March 29 2019.
  13. ^ [https://www.autostraddle.com/are-janelle-monae-and-lupita-nyongo-dating-or-just-canoodling/ Are Janelle Monáe and Lupita Nyong’o Dating Or Just Canoodling!!???Posted May 11th 2019. Accessed May 13 2019.
  14. ^ ‘Captain Marvel’ Is Extremely Gay, It’s Basic Physicame="supercorp" s. Posted March 12 2019. Accessed March 29 2019.
  15. ^ "Rizzoli And Isles" Is The Gayest Non-Gay Show On Television. Posted April 22 2013. Accessed March 29 2019.
  16. ^ Supergirl Fans Are Rightfully Angry With the Cast’s Flippant Dismissal of Kara/Lena Luthor Shippers. Posted July 24 2017. Accessed March 29 2019.
  17. ^ Kradam Is Real. Posted Sept 16 2013. Accessed March 28 2019.
  18. ^ Why CrissColfer Is Real by timeforcriss. Accessed March 28 2019.
  19. ^ Ok guys so I have finally decided to talk about why I am fucking obligated to know think Cockles is real. Post May 04 2014. Accessed March 28 2029.
  20. ^ Louis Tomlinson Confirms That Larry Shippers Ruined His Deep Friendship With Harry Styles. Posted July 24 2017. Accessed March 28 2019.
  21. ^ This is something that I’ve known for awhile (not too long, though) and that I’ve been hiding from you because, first of all, I haven’t had the time to type the post until now, and second of all, I’ve been building up the courage to tell you all. Accessed March 28 2019.
  22. ^ Tumblr Post by johnlocked-in-portland. Posted Nov 22 2018. Accessed March 28 2019.
  23. ^ Ask answered by videoqueen65. Posted June 16 2015. Accessed March 28 2019.
  24. ^ Armie Hammer responds to fan who wants him to be gay with Timothée Chalamet on ONTD. Posted March 23rd 2018. Accessed March 28 2029.
  25. ^ Sid/Geno fic. Posted Feb 23 2013. Accessed March 28 2019.
  26. ^ Your lot attacked Beijing Daily when Meng Ziyi was nominated for best actress, claiming CQL is double male lead, Archived version, tweet by XZsbeautyspot, 9 May 2021.
  27. ^ A script created by bjyx. Never seen an xfx saying Xz wants nothing to do with the three he hanged out with in that video. On the flip side wasnt it your ilk that abused Wzc and Meng ziyi in the past for “coming between your ship” 😏😏😏. Bye, Archived version, tweet by thuoalicia, 9 May 2021.
  28. ^ Oh so you are actually denying it. Look I’m gonna post here how Bjyx tinhats are attacking meng ziyi rn only cause she dares to be near xz in the new bts clips, Archived version, tweet by yanoduerme, 3 July 2021.
  29. ^ anon comment at warlock4warlock, Archived version, 28 April 2023.
  30. ^ See the talk page.
  31. ^ When a Man Loves a Vulcan. Posted Feb 24 2017. Accessed March 28 2019.
  32. ^ "Destiel is real" tag on Tumblr. Accessed March 28 2019.
  33. ^ "Destiel is the real" tag on Tumblr. Accessed March 28 2019.
  34. ^ "Destiel proof" tag on Tumblr. Accessed March 28 2019.
  35. ^ "Destiel is canon" tag on Tumblr. Accessed March 28 2019.
  36. ^ "Evidence for Destiel" tag on Tumblr. Accessed March 28 2019.
  37. ^ I love this comm already. May 28 2008. Accessed March 28 2019.
  38. ^ ExR Interview With George Blagden. Posted Oct 19 2015. Accessed March 28 2019.
  39. ^ Discussion of Secret #6 on Fandom Secrets. Dec 25 2012. Accessed March 28 2019.
  40. ^ why klance is gonna be canon even after s6: a long ass thread. Posted June 25 2018. Accessed March 29 2019.
  41. ^ Voltron: Legendary Defender 'Fan' Blackmails Studio to Make a Gay Ship Canon on the Show. Posted May 29 20229. Accessed March 28 2019.
  42. ^ https://aminoapps.com/c/voltron-legendary-defenders/page/blog/why-i-think-shieth-might-become-canon/nDnj_xbfLunMrgdwPKPbM6Ez7oxDxMx5nz
  43. ^ https://dent-de-leon.tumblr.com/post/167752810446/hello-i-dont-personally-ship-sheith-but-also-no
  44. ^ https://dent-de-leon.tumblr.com/post/166379387806/can-we-talk-parallels-with-shieth-and-allurance
  45. ^ http://dent-de-leon.tumblr.com/post/166612363301/wait-i-just-i-need-to-ask-you-cause-im
  46. ^ http://dent-de-leon.tumblr.com/post/164370730571/leo-i-love-your-meta-so-much-pls-make
  47. ^ http://dent-de-leon.tumblr.com/post/166398084546/im-not-a-shipper-but-every-shippers-who-want-a
  48. ^ Fail fandomanon comment thread starting at "The Lesser Spotted Tinhat" thread on Fail-Fandomanon. Posted July 19 2014. Accessed March 29 2019.
  49. ^ Kristen Stewart Monologue - SNL. Posted Feb 5 2017. Accessed March 29 2019.
  50. ^ Pattinson: Why He Really Dumped Kristen Stewart — Final Blowup Revealed. Posted July 6 2013. Accessed March 29 2019.
  51. ^ Does Kerry Washington have something going with Scandal co-star Tony Goldwyn? Posted June 22 2013. Accessed March 29 2019.
  52. ^ Lindsey (ltoiaivao). ALL OF THE EVIDENCE: OUTLANDER'S SAMCAIT by ltoiaivao. Accessed March 29 2019.
  53. ^ SYMBOLS IN SHIPPING page on Outlander Anti-Bullying]]. Accessed March 29 2019.
  54. ^ "Stanathan is real" shirt on Redbubble. Accessed March 28 2019.
  55. ^ Why people can’t stop shipping Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
  56. ^ Old Lies. Posted Nov 10 2013. Accessed March 28 2019.
  57. ^ Bones' David Boreanaz Proposes To Emily Deschanel At Comic-Con!! See It HERE! Posted July 19 2013. Accessed March 28 2019.
  58. ^ Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni Have a 'Law & Order: SVU' Reunion. Posted Dec 21 2016. Accessed March 29 2019.
  59. ^ Cute or Creepy: Leonardo DiCaprio Gives Kate Winslet a "Friendship" Ring. Posted May 26 2009. Accessed March 29 2019.
  60. ^ Ask on fuckyeahkitandemilia. Accessed March 29 2019.
  61. ^ Evannson tag on AO3. Accessed on March 29 2019 with 38 works.
  62. ^ Why People Think Scarlett Johansson Is Dating Chris Evans. Posted on March 17 2017. Accessed March 29 2019.
  63. ^ works tagged Zachary Levi/Yvonne Strahovski on AO3
  64. ^ After divorcing Missy Peregrym, is actor Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski Dating? Rumors of Dating Yvonne Strahovski-Know about his Past and Present Relationship. Updated Sept 8 2018. Accessed March 29 2019.
  65. ^ Dan/Emma, Archived version at Fandom Wank
  66. ^ You know what Dan and Emma need now? BABIES!, Archived version narcissam. hp_cornfield. JournalFen. June 9, 2006.
  67. ^ "lipstickalley: Is anyone else pissed about bleach ending spoilers for manga chapter …". Archived from the original on 2022-05-22.
✪ This article was featured on the Fanlore main page in 2019
How To & About About Featured ArticlesHow to Nominate
Past Featured Articles 2023202220212020201920182017
Featured Article Nominations 2023202220212020201920182017