Yet Another Halloween Fic

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: YAHF
Related: Xander Harris, Superhero AU
See Also: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Yet Another Halloween Fic (YAHF) is a trope in the Buffy fandom, stemming from a challenge in the XanderZone mailing list. These fics, usually Xander-centric, are episode tags set during the season 2 Halloween episode where characters "became" their Halloween costumes and were so common in the fandom at one point that they started being referred to as "yet another Halloween fic" or YAHF for short. YAHFs were often some level of crossover, due to the nature of the episode they originate from, but the fandom questioned on whether or not these fics truly counted as a crossover as they often only involved characters temporarily becoming characters from other canons.

This genre of fic was sometimes considered to be badfic because many of the early works in the genre were overly reliant on the events and dialogue of canon and weren't particularly well-constructed. Some fans also accused these fics making Xander into a Gary Stu, due to the tendency to focus on Xander or make him the "special" character when the original episode had more focus on Cordelia Chase (this was probably due to the genre's origin on a Xander mailing list).

The Trope

In "Halloween," the episode that this trope originates from, Ethan Rayne casts a spell that causes everyone to transform into their costumes. In the show these costumes were generic (vampires, werewolves, and the like), but YAHFs often feature the Buffy cast in different costumes such as superheroes and specific characters. This makes the trope very popular as a vehicle for crossover fics.

The spell was designed to last until Ethan ended it, but it was eventually broken by breaking the statue of Janus used in the ritual. The characters retained various levels of the skills they displayed during their costume transformations. They also appeared to have differing levels of memories of the event. In some YAHFs, however, the spell is never broken and the transformations become permanent. In other YAHF, the spell may be more powerful than in canon and cause elements of the canon related to the costume to appear, such as a spaceship or a building. Ship of the Line, an extremely popular challenge on Twisting the Hellmouth that requires Xander to be dressed as "an important character associated with a specific space ship" and "said ship [being] created in orbit above Sunnydale at the same time as Ethan’s spell is invoked,"[1] is a progenitor of many YAHFs of this type.

Because of the trope's origins on XanderZone, many YAHFs featured Xander-specific tropes. In particular, many of them fell into the Xander is Special category of fics in which he gains some sort of plot-significant specialness, such as being the key to saving the world. For many fans, this fell into Gary Stu territory. People also considered YAHFs to be badfic because early works featuring the trope were overly reliant on the events of the episode and dialogue from it, not diverging much from canon except to place more importance on Xander. More modern examples of this trope, however, tend to be less tied to the episode itself.

Fan Comments

On the original challenge (2004):

The latest plague of Xander!Marty Stus are coming from those endless "Halloween (S2)" retakes that seem to be everywhere like cockaroaches. [sic] The challenge actually started on the XanderZone fanfiction list and now seems to have spawned a subgenre of Xander!Marty Stus. Now, let me be fair here, the challenge was meant to be a fun quickie challenge, if I remember the original post. Just a series of one-shot jokes and drabbles where you're supposed to guess what costume Xander picked this time. It was fun, quirky, and clever. It quickly mutated so that not one aspect of any corner of fandom escaped. Once it moved beyond the intent, I gave up reading because I was drowing in Xander!Marty Stus. Now I actively throw holy water at my computer screen when I see one of these damn things.


One 2005 discussion on Twisting the Hellmouth questioned whether YAHF really qualified as crossovers. This was important because Twisting the Hellmouth centered on crossover fic, with restrictions on how many non-crossover works could be posted by users.

I agree with pretty much everyone else here. If the "crossover" is just for the duration of the spell with a few lasting effects, then, no, it's not a crossover.

However, if the BtVS character than figures out how to contact the "universe" in which he or she now has knowledge of and interacts with those characters, then it's a crossover.

The best example I can come up with for now is if Xander dressed up as a Jedi (those seem to be the most prevalent) and later travels to Corsucant to meet Obi Wan and kick the Emperor's ass, I'd be fine with it.

If Xander becomes a Jedi and spends the rest of his life making "force" jokes... Not a crossover.

Jo-Anne Storm [3]

I guess you could say it works on the same principal as the reality thread. It's not really a crossover unless someone ELSE from the fandom crosses over. Because, essentially, it is Xander/Willow/Buffy/whoever turning into that character. It's not that character coming into Sunnydale.

Laney [4]

On the standard of fics using this trope (2013):


I prefer non-Xander YAHF's - which some may consider sacrilege since the sole purpose of a YAHF, according to many, is to allow us to revel in the awesomeness that is The One Who Sees and his favorite lethal non-blonde. - but there is certainly more than one good YAHF, even if we limit ourselves to Xander-fics.


I'm just cranky on this topic. I am not a fan of the YAHF sub-genre because it seems like mostly lazy writing to me. I know that they're are some exceptionally good stories that come from it, but in general the dross outweighs the gold when it comes to an interesting and engaging plot.


To be honest, (IMO) all of this falls under the typical 20/80 good to dross ratio of just about anything (tho to be honest, fanfic in general is probably closer to a 10/90 split). Saying any sub-genre like YAHF,or slash, or anything, is better or worse just isn't accurate as far as quality is concerned. The premise is less important than the execution in any case. Mostly it comes down to personal preference. There are stories out there that I wouldn't spit on, but are very popular (remember a Twilight fanfic had some names changed and became a bestselling novel)

I guess my point is that there is nothing wrong with the YAHF concept, it has just been used poorly by far to many writers, the same way that there are so many dry-hump-at-first-sight slash fics. It's not the fault of the concept, it's the fault of the authors' need for one handed typing.[5]

On the enduring appeal of YAHF (2020):

I wonder what people think when they stumble on my old fics.

Like, I’m glad you liked my BtVS YAHF where Xander dressed as Gene Simmons for Halloween and made Willow faint by licking his eyebrows... But how far down the rabbit hole did you go to find that 17 year old fic?

lostdaemon [6]

On the enjoyability of YAHFs, even without canon knowledge (2021):

I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer Halloween episode fanfics (YAHF) but I’ve never actually watched BtVS.

elijahdnorth [7]

Example Fanworks





Archives & Fannish Links


  1. ^ Ship of the Line Challenge Details, Archived version. Posted 22 Jun 12. Accessed 11 Apr 2023.
  2. ^ Stalking the fanon Xander..., Archived version by liz_marcs, 2004-06-18
  3. ^ Forum post by Jo-Anne Storm, Archived version, November 6, 2005. Twisting the Hellmouth forums. (Accessed April 10, 2023).
  4. ^ Forum post by Laney, Archived version, November 12, 2005. Twisting the Hellmouth forums. (Accessed April 10, 2023).
  5. ^ Good YAHFs, Archived version, topic at TTH Forums, 2013.
  6. ^ Tumblr Post, Archived version by lostdaemon. Posted 7 Aug 2020. Accessed 11 Apr 2023.
  7. ^ Tumblr Post, Archived version by elijahdnorth. Posted 26 Aug 2021. Accessed 11 Apr 2023.
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