Fan fiction lurks in the hidden corners of the internet, and in many ways, it acts as the internet’s release valve. It’s a place where people can take their favourite pop culture artefacts and mess with them however they damn well please, free from the constraints of editors and censorship. That kiss that never happened, that plotline whose satisfying resolution never came — somewhere on the internet, they’re playing out right now.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that fan fiction is just a way for horny nerds to get their rocks off: What would happen if the magic of time travel put Mad Men’s Trudy Campbell and Community’s Annie Edison together in the same room, in nothing but lacy undergarments? How would Cormac McClaggen’s tender, forbidden kiss feel as he felt you up in the quidditch changing rooms after practice?
In fact, fan fiction fills a lot of other needs besides these obvious one-handed ones. Gay kids from the middle of butt-fuck nowhere can layer their own coming-out narratives over characters from favourite TV shows until they find the courage to do it themselves. Alternately, true crime enthusiasts can create all-new cases that rival the likes of Law & Order: SVU. These are just two of many examples.