- 6. [The rules] require that when the author describes the character of a personage in the tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.
- —Mark Twain, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"
Out of character, or OOC, means exactly what it sounds like: characters not acting like themselves. Some examples of this are easy to spot: for instance, if Legolas is a painfully cutesy trainwreck of a child, or if Harry Potter is an emotionally-four-years-old transvestite schoolgirl. Equally concerning are the more subtle changes authors make to characters. To some degree, this is unavoidable: even the best fanfiction writers can't replicate the characters exactly; only their creators can do that. What exactly constitutes being out of character is also subjective, depending both on how the fanfic writer has justified the changes and on the opinion of the reader.
More often than not, characters acting contrary to their normal natures is due to a Mary Sue warping the canon. Though it can happen to anyone, the Sue's Lust Object often suffers the worst, losing all of their faults and receiving major boosts to their abilities like some ungodly variation on Chuck Norris. Arwen, for some reason, often becomes obsessed with doing the Sue's hair, and Boromir frequently becomes a misogynist or a rapist.
Some fanwriters insist that it is their right to warp characters OOC on the grounds that it's their story and they can do what they wish with the characters. This is ignoring that what they're writing is fanfiction; it isn't really their story or their characters. There are also some who honestly don't realize that they're making the characters act OOC.
OOCness in canon
- Meanwhile, the Batman who used to hide from the limelight and steal any photographs taken of him is now making public appearances, at a sexist auction where men bid on good-looking women to take out on a date.
- —The Nostalgia Critic on Batman & Robin.
Sometimes in long-running TV shows and franchises, poor writing can cause canon characters do things they would never do in earlier episodes. Batman & Robin by Joel Schumacher is known for character rupturing most of the characters, as the above quote demonstrates.
OOC and character rupture are not to be confused with outright character replacement. In this case, the canon character has actually been replaced by an OC, usually a Mary Sue. The usual solution is to locate the canon (who has usually been shoved into a plothole), kill the Sue, and replace the canon where he/she belongs. One of the purposes of using a CAD is to tell the difference between extreme OOCness and character replacement.
This warping of character often causes the agents' Canon Analysis Devices to display nonsense on the screen and, if the OOC is severe enough, short out or even explode. This does not help many agents, although the more experienced ones don't really need the CADs anyway. It doesn't make Makes-Things very happy, though, because he and his staff have to repair them all.
Levels of OOC
CAD readings are approximate and depend on the canon and the CAD model.
|OOC Category||CAD Reading||Behavior||Solution|
|In Character||In canon, 0%; In goodfic, 0-5%.||Character is acting exactly as expected. Found in goodfic and in badfic before the influence of the Author affects the canon.||None is needed.|
|Out of Character||5%-80%||Character's speech patterns are affected; his or her personality is different; his or her motivations have been changed; etc. Character is still recognizable as his or her canon version, albeit in a twisted form. May be in love with a Mary Sue.||Kill the Mary Sue whose Aura of Smooth is distorting the canon and, for higher OOC readings (>20%), neuralyze the canon character.|
|Character Rupture||60%-99.999%; the higher, the more likely||Character Rupture is an event that happens when OOC levels get too high. The character is unrecognizable as his or her former self, with totally different motivations and personality. At higher levels of OOC, the character may share only a name with his or her canon self. The SEP Field becomes less useful, and the character may be capable of noticing agents. Using a CAD on the character may damage the CAD.||Kill the Mary Sue whose Aura of Smooth is distorting the canon. Neuralyzation is sometimes enough to restore the character, but a trip to FicPsych is often necessary.|
|Possessed||70%-99.999%. Possessed.||The character is acting in ways that are completely contrary to his or her usual inclinations, but a Mary Sue is either absent or her Aura is too weak to account for the character's actions. More perceptive canons may be aware they are possessed and unable to do anything about it. Often found in bad slash. The Sue-wraith may be capable of piercing the SEP field but is generally too focused on the bad slash or other OOC actions to bother trying.||Exorcism, followed by neuralyzation. FicPsych takes care of cases where neuralyzation isn't enough.|
|Character Replacement||Non-Canon. Mary Sue.||Canon character has been replaced by a Mary Sue who takes the canon's role in the story. A red flag for character replacements is a name change.||Assassination of the Mary Sue. The original character has usually been shoved through a plothole and must be recovered.|