The History of Fanvideos

So where did the fanvideo phenomenon originate? Certainly before the terms “fanvideo” or “shipping” became mainstream. In fact, the original pairing that was shipped by fans was Kirk and Spock from Star Trek in the 1960s. Nowadays, fans call a pairing of two characters of the same gender “slash,” which comes from the days before the term “ship” when Kirk and Spock were known as K/S.

So if the extreme support of two characters in a television show or movie began in the 60s, when did fanvideos start appearing?

While there is no clear single video that started the fanvideo genre, one of the earliest pairings that had fans practically jumping out of their seats was between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X-Files. The show, which ran from 1993 to 2002, took the act of shipping to a whole new level and most likely became the subject of some of the first fanvideos to be uploaded publically.

It is also important to look at the founding of YouTube when attempting to parse out where fanvideos began, and with whom. Because fanvideos are made almost exclusively by amateurs who use the most basic editing programs they have at their disposal, it is likely that these videos did not exist, at least in large numbers, before 2005 when YouTube entered the world wide web. So what existed before sites like YouTube?

Fanvideos most likely originated from the ideas created in fanfiction, a type of storytelling where amateur authors use the existing characters from a show, book, or movie, and create their own scenarios. Fanfiction stories are still created today, even with the move into fanvideos, and forums support stories about existing couples, slash fiction stories, and alternate universe fiction, or AU, where characters are put into their own world and storyline that has nothing to do with what happens in the real show. Fanvideos have followed this pattern and also exist in all three genres, though “regular” fanvideos are the most popular.

So whether you’re looking for a video about the hottest couple on your favorite show, or want to see a clip of what it would be like for two completely different people to get together, fanvideo creators have your back.