The World’s Most Popular Fanfic, Part 1: The Introduction

I WAS going to talk about religion here, but even I don’t need to be prophetic to hear the boos, hisses, flames and assassination decrees that are going to be sent my way should I try that, so…

Ahem! Today, we are going to discuss one of the world’s most popular, much studied, much loved, often riffed, ripped, outright stolen, and highly symbol-laden works of fanfiction that a major belief system and the devotion of literally billions of people through the course of human history doesn’t center around (that I know of, though you never can tell with the British). Because I said I wouldn’t be going religious here. Seriously, I’m not going there.

It’s one of the most well-heard-of (as opposed to well known) bodies of myth in the world. It’s got everything! Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles, the promise of salvation and return, sex, violence, incest, madness, the chosen one who will save all, fathers, brothers, mothers, women who share similar names leading to much confusion as to their role and significance, the Holy Grail, death, going forth incognito, boys raised by men not their fathers, people not dying if they are killed as is the way it ought to be, a famous leader and his band of loyal followers, a traitor among the band of followers whose betrayal leads to the leaders death…

I was talking about the Arthurian Myths. What were you thinking about?

I say “most-well-heard-of” as opposed to “well-known”, because while people have heard of the stories, not many know what the stories are. They know who Arthur is, what his sword is called, where he lived, how he became king, what shape his table is, that old guy Merlin, and the names of maybe one or two knights, three if they’re lucky (and Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film doesn’t count). How much of what you know doesn’t come from a movie or Kinoko Nasu’s works? Or, heaven forbid, Monty Python. Nothing against those guys, but it’s kinda said theirs is the best researched Arthurian film I can think of.

Random trivia: did you know Sir Lancelot can’t climb trees? Apparently, he was so busy training to be a badass knight as a kid he never got around to learning…

Arthurian myth is an extensive tangle of confusion, not the least of which because it’s gone on for at least a thousand years. Talk about long-runners. Undocumented Features has NOTHING on it. It’s also one of the most confusing fandoms/series of all time. Seriously, it has full-time scholars work on it, that’s how much study it needs to make sense. Most series can make do with a wiki. The fact it’s a confusing mess is not surprising, considering all the writers that have had a hand in shaping it, and that’s just before the 20the century. Technically speaking, some of the great contributors to Arthurian Myth in the 20th/21st century are Monty Python (COWER, MERE MORTALS!), Sean Connery, Mel Brooks, Richard Gere (middle name ‘Tiffany’, seriously, I kid you not), Disney (good animation, bad adaptation), Keira Knightley (a strangely apropos name), and my personal favorites, Urobuchi Gen and Kinoko Nasu.

Seriously, I heart Nasu’s addition to the mythos. Who would you rather have as King Arthur…

This Guy...

This Guy…


… this guy…


… this guy here, who I’m not sure appeared in any other movie…


… this guy, who in my mind never becomes more than “Captain”…

… or her?

I pick her.… but that’s just me. She’s got character development. The evolution from a ‘perfect’ king to a well-rounded person is one of the best arcs in fiction ever.

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