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Synonyms: tin hat
See also: wank, RPF, OTP
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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[1]: a fannish tinhat is a person who believes that their favorite celebrities are really a couple, forced by The Powers That Be to keep their relationship a secret. A lot of tinhat theories are based on fantasies of closeted celebrities (mainly actors) unable to be open about their relationship in their profession, although tinhatting of opposite-sex pairings does occur (and predates the term itself). The term can refer to the stylish accessory or, by metonymy, to the fan who wears it.

The term 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

Versaphile invented the term in 2003 in answer to a request by Cesare 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.[2]

LOTR RPF Tinhat Fan Theories

A particular group of LOTR RPS fans were communicating on the DataLounge (a GBLT forum), specifically a section called the "Prancing Pony".[3] On that forum in early 2003, anonymous posters who claimed to be movie industry insiders promised inside information on "the boys" and message passing by subtle gestures and James-Bond-style secrets. The group around MsAllegro was especially vehement in their belief in the couple. Then the words 'charchuse' (sic) and 'burnt sienna' were mentioned in the forum, amongst other colours. When pictures of Dom and Elijah in yellow and light orangish brown shirts (respectively) turned up, euphoria abounded. The threads exploded, and people who had hitherto wavered on the fringes started to get sucked in.[4] That is, many additional fans started to believe that these actors really were "shouting out" to their supporters by their color choices, ring wearing or non-wearing, and song choices. Expectations were high that these two men would eventually come out as a gay couple.

Fans who disagreed with the Prancing Pony shippers created a web site dispelling the rumors: Sanity, Please.

The actors explicitly denied being a couple several times, making fun of the various rumors. Dom said at a convention Q&A in 2003, that the actors had "read rumors of a contract they signed with New Line that they wouldn't come out as gay until after Return of the King." Dom laughed, and added, in a sarcastic tone that they were "thinking of walking down the red carpet holding hands for Return of the King." [5] Nothing like that, or any other kind of public announcement ever happened, and the actors have continued to deny any romantic involvement with each other.[6] As of April 2010, these actors have mentioned long-term girlfriends.

Actor Orlando Bloom marrying Miranda Kerr caused some gnashing of teeth among the remaining Tinhat fans, who continue to believe that he is hiding his gay love for Viggo Mortensen. Kerr and Bloom divorced after three years of marriage, Mortensen is in a relationship with actress Ariadna Gil since 2009.

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[7]. Fans sometimes use the tinhat terminology ironically or self-deprecatingly; when they are squeeing especially loudly over some piece of celebrity gossip, they may type *dons tinhat* or *polishes tinhat*. They seldom mean that they really believe that their preferred OTP is a couple in real life.

Most RPF shippers of unconfirmed (or denied) celebrity pairings do not believe that the ship is real; many RPF stories 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.

Other Subjects of Tinhatting

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

Slash ships

Het ships

F/F ships

Further Reading


  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.
  2. versaphile's comment in Cesare's post What's in a name? in the DL_Anon community on journalfen, 2003-04-01. (accessed 2008-10-02)
  3. Wikipedia entry, the name refers to a Hobbit tavern in The Lord of the Rings. (accessed 2008-09-30)
  4. Sanity, Please page, on archive.org (accessed 2008/10/03).
  5. Fan report, October 5, 2003 (archived at TheOneRing.net, accessed 2008/10/3)
  6. Sept. 12, 2005 Newsweek interview with Dominic Monaghan (accessed 2008-10-24)
  7. 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)
  8. [1]
  9. Up where I'm at the baby had already been tumblr post by videoqueen65 (posted 2015-6-16) archive link
  10. works tagged as e Chalamet/Armie Hammer on AO3
  11. Fail fandomanon comment thread starting at 2014-07-19 03:03 am (UTC)
  12. Lindsey (ltoiaivao). ALL OF THE EVIDENCE: OUTLANDER'S SAMCAIT, post to li.st. archived.
  13. SYMBOLS IN SHIPPING, OUTLANDER ANTI-BULLYING wordpress blog. archived.
  14. stanathan at urbandictionary
  15. Why people can’t stop shipping Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
  16. Bones' David Boreanaz Proposes To Emily Deschanel At Comic-Con!! See It HERE! perezhilton.com, 7/19/2013
  17. Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni Have a 'Law & Order: SVU' Reunion, elle.com
  18. This blog is dedicated to the not-yet-real relationship between Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, Kleo.
  19. kemilia hashtag on Twitter
  20. works tagged as Evannson at AO3
  21. works tagged Zachary Levi/Yvonne Strahovski on AO3
  22. History of Janelle Monáe and Tessa Thompson’s Maybe-More-Than Friendship by Anna Silman, APR. 26, 2018
  23. Camren/fifth harmony on Wattpad
  24. archived
  25. archived