How Fanfiction Has Ruined Canon for me

I’m a big reader. I’ve always been a big reader, especially of fiction. It all started when I just had to have the biggest book in the school library at the age of 6. It got worse once I found out about the much bigger, and much more adult, public library. There I found the likes of Tom Clancy, JRR Tolkien, and later JR Rowling. I truly blame Tom Clancy for this quirk. All of his hardcovers are huge, even though his stories aren’t really that epic in terms of length.

I’ve always loved Harry Potter. I started with the fourth book, couldn’t put it down, and quickly bought the first three. It remains one of only two series that I’ve ever waited in line to purchase (the third and fourth books of the Inheritance cycle is the other). Before I found fanfiction, I didn’t really discover the problems with Harry Potter canon.

I didn’t really care that Harry and Ginny got together, or that Hermione got stuck with Ron Weasley. I didn’t realize that Dumbledore was a manipulative old man, who was either senile or evil. I didn’t really discover any of the many plot holes and inconsistencies despite re-reading all seven books an unhealthy number of times.

I loved it enough to subconsciously overlook those things.

In 2013 I discovered a TV show named Castle. At the time I was a big TV watcher. I liked shows like NCIS, Bones, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and many more. I’ve never been a big fan of ABC shows, as that network tends to cancel things for no reason. But when I downloaded the first season of Castle, I was hooked. I quickly downloaded Seasons 2-5 and watched them all. Then I watched them again, then the show came back on for season 6, and it was like OMG Castle and Beckett are engaged, and OMG OMG OMG!!!

In 2014, thanks to a tweet, I discovered fanfiction. My relationship with anything canon has changed drastically ever since.

First, it was only Castle fanfiction. My obsession with it didn’t affect my viewing of the show. I loved both. I liked that I could find different stories of Castle and Beckett online. I could read angsty stories that either played off the series or were completely original. In November 2014, I wrote my first fanfiction.

In 2015, I rediscovered Harry Potter through fanfiction. At first, the term pairing didn’t mean anything to me. After all, call me stupid, but I didn’t even realize that there was fanfiction out there for other pairings. Remember, my only true exposure to fanfic at that time was Castle, and about 98% of that is all Caskett.

That isn’t true in Harry Potter fanfic. Pairing matters. And it matters a lot. When I first found the Harry/Hermione ship, I was hooked. It immediately made soooooo much sense to me that I could no longer look at canon as something that was good and true. Instead, it looked like a mistake. No longer was JK Rowling this perfect and amazing author. She was flawed, and her opus was too. I’ve tried to go back and re-read the novels again, but I can’t. I know how they end, and forever will that epilogue be a disappointment to me.

This started out, most likely because I’m a Harry fanboy. The poor kid was put through hell both at his ‘home’ and at school, had a terrible destiny thrust upon him, and lived to tell the tale. And yet, he’s paired with the one thing he supposedly hates above all others – a fangirl. Harry supposedly hated his fame but ended up with a girl that had a crush on him long before she even met him? That’s dumb.

But that’s not a deal breaker. Perhaps Ginny changed a lot. We don’t know because her character isn’t well developed in canon. All we know is that she’s a fangirl who sees Harry as the Boy-Who-Lived (even as late as the last pages of Book 6 where she says something like ‘I knew you wouldn’t be happy unless you were fighting him’).

The true travesty of Harry Potter romance is Ron/Hermione. Ron spends every single moment in canon belittling everything that Hermione stands for. He hurts her constantly, never apologizes, and then hurts her again. He is a fair-weather friend by any definition. He abandoned Harry the two times he was truly needed (book 4 and book 7). His only contribution to the plot of the story beyond being a jealous arsehole is his ‘sacrifice’ at the end of book 1.

Hermione, on the other hand, is the most loyal person in the books. A true Hufflepuff. She sticks with Harry even when Harry is an arse to her. Without her, Harry would have never have won. Hermione is intelligent, brave, loyal, and amazing. Yet, she ends up with the one person who hurt her the most outside perhaps Draco Malfoy? That doesn’t make any sense, and it took my introduction to fanfiction for me to see it.

The problem is that now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. And it has affected my other fandoms as well. Castle, for example, has been ruined for me. Some of that is the terrible last season, but some of it isn’t.

Once you read some stories with a serious Richard Castle, you can’t help but see how many times the writers of Castle made him look like a buffoon just to get a cheap laugh. I like the angst between Kate and Rick, so that isn’t my problem. My problem is that mid-season 2, Castle experienced a shift in character. He went from being a jackass to a nice guy who was quickly falling in love with Beckett. It was what made the angst of s2-s4 work so well. He became a likable character, who didn’t deserve to be overlooked so often by Beckett.

Once he and Kate got together though, he had another character shift. He went back to being the butt of the joke. Oh, he always had crazy theories, that was fine. But he got dumb. For the most part, it seemed to me, that his character served no purpose after the beginning of Season 5 outside of being the class clown. It got worse in Season 6 and Season 7. Season 8 was worse still as he attempted to use his wit to get his wife back.

Again, it was fanfiction that made me see this for real. I went back two days ago and tried to watch one of my favorite episodes (Way of the Ninja in season 6), and I couldn’t stand Richard Castle. He went from being my favorite character in the series to someone I just couldn’t relate to. His frivolity was constant, even when he should have been serious and so on.

Fanfiction has ruined canon for me. I don’t watch anything original anymore. I haven’t watched a new TV show in three years. Haven’t picked up an original novel in almost as long. I think the reason is that I’m scared. I’m scared that if I get attached to something new that it’ll just be ruined when I start to, inevitably, read fanfiction.

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