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fan +‎ wank. See fan (fanatic, enthusiast). British writer Craig Hinton claimed to have coined the term in the context of Doctor Who fandom.[1]


fanwank (uncountable)

  1. (fandom slang, derogatory) Explanations invented by fans (of a film franchise, television series, etc.) to gloss over mistakes in continuity.
    • 2017 April 19, Agammamon [username], “An interesting theory regarding Guilliman and Malal/Malice”, in Reddit[1], r/40kLore:
      Its just fanwank with no support in the lore - and not even good fanwank. As you said yourself, Malal does not exist in 40k - and he's never existed. And no, that's not a joke in the vein of 'I've never seen a stealth aircraft' either.
  2. (fandom slang) Synonym of fanservice
    • 2010, Matt Hills, Triumph of a Time Lord: Regenerating Doctor Who in the Twenty-first Century, page 61:
      Fan-producers seem to have integrated 'fanwank' into the new series, but not in a way that reproduces the show's 1980s history, or alienates non-fans.
    • 2012, Leora Hadas & Limor Shifman, “Keeping the Elite Powerless: Fan-Producer Relations in the 'Nu Who' (and New YOU) Era”, in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Taylor & Francis, DOI:10.1080/15295036.2012.676193, page 7:
      What they favor is good old fanwank: continuity references, old monsters, and overcomplicated explanations of trivial plot details. If these are perceived as the voice of fandom, then catering to the fans means producing texts that the general audience would find at best boring, at worst impossible to watch.
    • 2016, Melissa A. Click & Nettie Brock, "Marking the Line between Producers and Fans: Representations of Fannish-ness in Doctor Who and Sherlock", in Seeing Fans: Representations of Fandom in Media and Popular Culture (eds. Lucy Bennett & Paul Booth), page 119:
      These episodes are full of subtle fanwank and the Doctor loves every minute of them, as evidenced by his beaming face and near squeals of glee when K-9 appears for the first time on Doctor Who since 1983.

Usage notes[edit]

The term wank, as used in fannish contexts, is generally not a shortened form of either sense of fanwank, but a distinct term meaning "drama" or "disagreement."


fanwank (third-person singular simple present fanwanks, present participle fanwanking, simple past and past participle fanwanked)

  1. (fandom slang) Of fans, to invent explanations to gloss over mistakes in continuity.
    • 2013 May 10, Tedder, Michael, “The Office Recap: Second to Last Dance”, in[2]:
      She accepts, and tell Dwight that Philip was his son all along, but she needed to know he wanted to be with her for her, and just to have a child. Which completely contradicted the DNA test Dwight took at the end of last season, and is also just a crappy thing to do to someone. I almost started fanwanking the first time I saw this ("Maybe The Senator had the DNA tests switched?") before throwing my hands up.
    • 2016 January 11, AFK42 [username], “A possible explanation for why Leia hugs who she does at the end of TFA, regardless of potential familial relationships”, in Reddit[3], r/StarWars:
      I cannot be fanwanked past the point that Chewie and Leia not acknowledging each other as he got off the Falcon was a fairly large mistake.
    • 2018, Pearson, Roberta, “Janeites and Sherlockians: Literary Societies, Cultural Legitimacy, and Gender”, in Booth, Paul, editor, A Companion to Fandom and Fan Studies, John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN, page 500:
      Sherlockians term their light‐hearted conjectures the “Writings upon the Writings,” but the Great Game in some respects resembles the contemporary pan‐fandom practice of fanwanking.


  1. ^ Knight, Rhonda (2017), “Playing with History”, in Carey Fleiner; Dene October, editors, Doctor Who and History: Critical Essays on Imagining the Past, McFarland, →ISBN, page 110