This page contains the guidelines for Character Tags. For more general information, please see the Wrangling Intro page.
Character tags refer to tags Users may input into the Character field during story creation. The base rules should always be applied first, except for characters with a single name only (see Characters with a Single Name) and characters from sources not originally in English (see Non-English Canons).
Note: A Character usually refers to a specific individual or specifically-named group of individuals. Wranglers, at their discretion, may canonize inanimate objects as Characters if the object is a recurrent participant in fanworks - this is rare.
- Base Rules
- Characters with a Single Name
- Unnamed Canonical Characters
- Canonical Name Changes
- Alter Egos, Secret Identities, Pen Names, Pseudonyms
- Multiple Personalities, Different Incarnations
- Alternate Versions: AU, Robots, Genderswap, Clones, etc.
- Non-English Language Canons
- Original and Generic Characters
- Characters Shared by Fandoms
- Characters with Category-Ambiguous Names
- Teams, Groups, Bands, etc.
Standard Format: GIVENNAME FAMILYNAME
Initials, titles and suffixes should only be used if they are the standard in the source canon, to disambiguate otherwise similar names, or if they are part of a stage name. Characters with only a title and family name (no given name) should be treated like a single-name character and may require disambiguation.
Names using initials rather than full names should generally be formatted according to the source canon. However, when using a period/full stop, always follow with a space (due to issues in the formatting of tags, which may glitch otherwise).
Abbreviated titles, such as Mr., Mrs., Dr. etc, should be formatted as they are in the original source canon (for most North American sources, with a period and a space after the abbreviation; for many British sources, no full stop, etc.) If the canon's formatting is unclear or variable, and with ambiguous No Fandom tags not associated with specific fandoms, default to the American formatting of a period/full stop and a space after the abbreviation: "Dr. Smith".
Spelling and capitalisation should match the source material - e.g. Keladry of Mindelan, not Keladry Of Mindelan. If there are conflicting canonical sources, or no clear canonical sources, try to canonize what is in most common use in the fandom. In some cases a disambiguated single name may be preferable to a contended full name for a character.
- CANONICAL: Dean Winchester
- SYNONYM: Dean (Supernatural)
- CANONICAL: Reginald Barclay
- SYNONYM: Reginald Endicott Barclay III
- CANONICAL: Lisa Cuddy
- CANONICAL: W. D. Gaster
- CANONICAL: Harry Connick Jr.
- CANONICAL: George III of England
- CANONICAL: Harriet Roberts
- SYNONYM: Harriet Simms
- CANONICAL: Mr. Book (Dark City)
Guideline updated 12 June 2013
Standard Format: NAME (FANDOM)
Characters with a single name need an appropriate fandom disambiguation to make them unambiguous. A character with a title or honorific (Dr., Mrs., Frau, Sir, Captain, Princess, etc.) is still considered to have a single name.
- CANONICAL: Professor Zei (Avatar)
- CANONICAL: Sister Olga (Orphan Black)
- CANONICAL: Intern Joe (The Creatures)
When disambiguating, use only the title of the fandom without qualifiers such as year or author, and use the most general/metafandom form, unless disambiguating between distinctly different characters within the same metafandom.
- CANONICAL: Spock (Star Trek)
- SYNONYMS: Spock (Star Trek (2009)), Spock (Star Trek: The Original Series)
- CANONICAL: Fawkes (Harry Potter)
- SYNONYMS: Fawkes (Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling), Fawkes (Chamber of Secrets)
When disambiguating characters from translated fandoms, use only the original fandom name
- CANONICAL: Nanako (Tennis no Oujisama)
- SYNONYM: Nanako (Tennis no Oujisama | Prince of Tennis))
Single-name characters with different original and translated names do not usually need disambiguation; the different translation is enough, unless another character on the archive shares the same original and translated name.
- CANONICAL: Kasumi | Misty
- SYNONYM: Misty (Pokemon)
With Metatags, ambiguous single name tags are made into metatags, with disambiguated subtags. See Tag Wrangler Guidelines - Metatags for more detailed information. Multiple-fandom spanning characters may not need a qualifier.
- CANONICAL METATAG: Jack
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Jack (Legend)
CANONICAL SUBTAG: Jack (Once Upon a Time)
- CANONICAL METATAG: The Doctor
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: The Doctor (Doctor Who), SYNONYMs: The Doctor (Who)
CANONICAL SUBTAG: The Doctor (Star Trek)
CANONICAL SUBTAG: The Doctor (The Authority)
- CANONICAL METATAG: Q
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Q (Star Trek)
CANONICAL SUBTAG: Q (James Bond)
Guideline updated 15 November 2016
This refers to alternative terms used to identify the same character, as used either within the source material or by the fandom.
Standard Format: Nicknames can be made canonical if the character is primarily called by the nickname in the source material and/or fandom.
- CANONICAL: Sam Carter
- SYNONYM: Samantha Carter
- CANONICAL: Xander Harris
- SYNONYM: Alexander Harris, Alexander "Xander" Harris
- CANONICAL: Reginald Barclay
- SYNONYM: Reg Barclay, Reginald "Broccoli" Barclay
The form GIVENNAME "NICKNAME" FAMILYNAME may be used as appropriate, at wrangler discretion, if the nickname is important for recognition or disambiguation. The nickname should be surrounded by double quotes. (NOTE: Only use the nickname form if the fandom uses the nickname and full name roughly equally. If the nickname is far more commonly used than the character's real name, then canonize as NICKNAME FAMILYNAME.)
- CANONICAL: James "Bucky" Barnes
- SYNONYM: Bucky (Marvel)
Guideline updated 19 Aug 2014
This refers to characters who are not named in the source material. There are two approaches to unnamed characters: to go with fandom names ("Bob the Haitian") (only recommended in cases where the fanon name is widespread and already in use on the Archive) or go with a descriptor, such as in movie credits ("Second man with unicycle").
For canonical characters who are not named in canon, and whose character tags consist of a description of the character or a generic title, their canonical tag should also be disambiguated with the fandom.
- CANONICAL: Witch (Into the Woods)
- CANONICAL: Woman in Green (Singin' in the Rain)
- CANONICAL: Baseball Bat Man (The Raid)
- CANONICAL METATAG: Mom
- CANONICAL SUBTAGS: Mom (Mother 2), Kris's Mom (Pokemon), Ray Narvaez Jr.'s Mom, Rose's Mom | Beta Roxy Lalonde
Guideline updated 15 November 2016
For a character who changes their name over the course of canon (due to adoption, divorce, gender presentation change, marriage, or other plot reason), choose the canonical based on:
- The character's in-canon stated preference;
- SYNONYM: Shannon Beiste
- Which name they went by at the start of canon;
- SYNONYM: Elizabeth Darcy
- How long they went by a name (i.e. were they known as one for longer than the other in the canon);
- SYNONYM: Kouryuu (Saiyuki)
- Which name the fans most often use/is most common on the Archive.
CANONICAL: Sheldon Beiste
CANONICAL: Elizabeth Bennet
CANONICAL: Genjo Sanzo
If multiple names are commonly used in the fandom, the canonical can incorporate them both; e.g. "Lily Evans Potter". If the names are sufficiently distinct, canonicals can be constructed with a "|", similar to translated names.
Note: In cases with an identity reveal, an alter ego, or a pseudonym, it may be clearer and more appropriate to pipe the names as per the guidelines in Characters > Alter Egos.
Guideline updated 30 October 2015
This refers to characters, actors and performers who have a public and private identity, as well as instances of a character acting OOC for whatever reason, where the character is still, fundamentally, the same character.
Standard Format: One name is chosen and made CANONICAL. This name should be:
- Easily recognizable as referring to all identities OR
- The most commonly used name in the source material OR
- The name with the greatest recognition in popular culture.
- CANONICAL: Dean Winchester
- SYNONYM: Evil!Dean Winchester
- CANONICAL: Himura Kenshin
- SYNONYM: Battousai
- CANONICAL: Raven (DCU)
- SYNONYMs: Rachael Roth, EvilLesbian!Raven
- CANONICAL: Nora Roberts
- SYNONYMs: J D Robb, Sarah Hardesty, Jill March
If a character's real name and alter ego/pseudonym are both about as well-known/well-used in the fandom, canonicals can be constructed with a "|", similar to translated names:
- CANONICAL: Karina Lyle | Blue Rose
- SYNONYMS: Blue Rose, Karina Lyle
- CANONICAL: Snow White | Mary Margaret Blanchard
- SYNONYMS: Mary Margaret Blanchard, Snow White (Once Upon a Time)
In cases involving an identity reveal, it may be clearer and more appropriate to pipe the names; e.g. "Amanda Clarke | Emily Thorne". In these cases, list them in the order in which they appear in canon for that character.
Guideline updated 05 August 2013
Canonical superhero names (e.g. "Batman", "Robin (DCU)" "Hawkeye") should now be made into subtags of their alter identity/identities (e.g. "Bruce Wayne", "Dick Grayson". "Clint Barton"):
- Metatag: Barbara Gordon
- Subtags: Batgirl, Oracle
- Metatag: Jason Todd
- Subtags: Robin (DCU), Red Hood
This is an interim solution that only applies to superhero names that are currently canonical on the archive; you do not need to canonize names that are currently synonyms but can leave them be. (We're looking into improved ways of handling superhero/alter ego tags, but we are hoping to get a new coding feature and are waiting until we have more information on that.)
Note: If you feel that subtagging would be inappropriate for a particular case, you can alternately make the superhero name a completely separate canonical, unlinked to any alter ego.
Guideline updated 18 October 2012, published 05 June 2014
This refers to characters who have been re-incarnated or otherwise had previous existences, or who have multiple personalities where each personality is treated as a unique individual. The guidelines for Alter Egos & Secret Identities should be applied before using the following.
Standard Format: Both or all names are CANONICAL.
- CANONICALs: Dr. Henry Jekyll, Edward Hyde
- CANONICALs: Mutou Yuugi, Yami Yuugi
Alter egos/previous incarnations may also be meta-tagged, if appropriate for the characters:
- METATAG: The Doctor (Doctor Who)
- SUBTAGS: First Doctor, Second Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor
If the alternate version of a character is canonical in the fandom (i.e. found in the original source), make the character name a unique canonical.
- CANONICAL: Rod McKay
If the name is the same as the original, disambig in whatever way makes sense in the fandom (subtag under the main character if appropriate for the fandom).
- CANONICALS: Olivia Dunham, Alternate Olivia Dunham
- CANONICAL METATAG: Sam Carter
- CANONICAL SUBTAGS: Robot Sam Carter, Clone Sam Carter, Replicator Sam Carter
If the alternate version of a character is a fan-created version, not from the source fandom and the name is the same as the original character, syn to the canonical character. Do not canonize fan-created character variants. (Note: such variants can be canonized in the Freeform tags, if they get enough uses.):
- CANONICAL: Dean Winchester
- SYNONYMS: girl!Dean Winchester, Vampire!Dean Winchester
If a fan-created-alternate version of a character has a different name from the original, treat it as a fanon Original Character - leave it unfilterable in the fandom unless the name has been used by more than 3 users; then canonize that name and subtag it under the canonical character.
Guideline updated 5 August 2015
"Non-English Canons" are any sources that were not originally in English. Follow the guidelines below regardless of the size of the English-speaking fandom or the English-speaking fandom's familiarity with the original language names.
For anything not covered in this section, follow the English-language fandom guidelines.
Original Name Matches English Translation Name
Standard Format: Use the naming order used in the original (untranslated) canon.
Note:East Asian characters from East Asian-language canons will often use the order: FAMILY_NAME GIVEN_NAME. However, characters in Asian-language canon who are Western, Asian-American, from outer space, etc. might or might not use standard name order. Check the canon! Other canons may have alternate name ordering - when in doubt, follow the order given in the untranslated canon material.
Note: Honorifics, Initials, titles and suffixes should be avoided. Only use if they are commonly used in the source material, to separate otherwise similar names, or if they are part of a stage name.
- CANONICAL: Kinomoto Sakura
- Sakura is a Japanese character from a Japanese-language series. "Kinomoto" is her family name.
- CANONICAL: Heero Yuy
- Heero is a character of Japanese descent from a Japanese-language series. "Yuy" is his family name, and his last name in the original Japanese canon.
Original Name is Different from English Translation Name
When the original name does not match the name used in the English translation, use the following format:
Standard Format: ORIGINAL LANGUAGE NAME | ENGLISH TRANSLATION NAME
- CANONICAL: Naruhodou Ryuuichi | Phoenix Wright
- SYNONYM: Phoenix Wright
The original language name should be in the appropriate name order for that language. The English name should be the character's name as it appears in the English translation of the canon.
If there are multiple official translations with multiple versions of the names, use whatever will be clearest while still following the rule above:
- ORIGINAL LANGUAGE NAME AS ROMANIZED IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION 1 | ENGLISH TRANSLATION 2 NAME
- ORIGINAL LANGUAGE NAME | ENGLISH TRANSLATION 1 NAME | ENGLISH TRANSLATION 2 NAME
No English Translation
If there is no official English translation and no common fan translation:
- Languages written in the Latin alphabet and its derivatives: Use the names from the original canon (including diacritics or other special characters not normally found in English).
- Languages written in other writing systems: Use either a standard romanization or the romanization most common in fandom.
Nicknames in Non-English Language Canons
These should follow the other guidelines for names from non-English canons as well as the general nickname guidelines except for the one on name order. Nicknames should follow whatever order makes the most sense given the name orders in the canon in the original language. The following are the most common:
- GIVENNAME "Nickname" FAMILYNAME
- FAMILYNAME "Nickname" GIVENNAME
- FAMILYNAME GIVENNAME | Nickname
In some cases it will be desirable or necessary to use versions of names from multiple languages.
Standard Format: FIRST ORIGINAL LANGUAGE NAME | SECOND ORIGINAL LANGUAGE NAME
- CANONICAL: Jupiter Jones | Justus Jonas
- SYNONYMS: Jupiter Jones, Justus Jonas
(The Three Investigators series was originally published in English. It then became popular in German translation and the series was continued with original material in German.)
This section covers policies on characters tags that are not canonical character names. These refer to Character tags; syn Relationships with OCs to the appropriate Canonical Character/Original Male/Female Character tags, as per the Relationship guidelines.
Characters like 'a bartender' or 'Dad' go in the "No Fandom" fandom. They may be made canonicals or syns if they are commonly used for a specific individual. Disambiguated, fandom-specific subtags may be made if users tag for such.
Tags like 'OC' and 'Original Tentacular Character' go in "No Fandom". They may be made canonicals or syns if they are commonly used.
Characters with full names ("Joe Smith", "Suzuki Sakura") that are not canon characters should be left unfilterable and put in the fandom "Original Work".
Characters specifically labeled as OCs, like "David (OC)" or "Original Char (Tarou)", should also be unfilterable and in "Original Work".
Fanon names for canon characters (e.g. common fanon genderswapped names) and semi-original characters like "Ken Hutchinson's dad" or "Eleventh Doctor (fan created)" go in the applicable fandom. Some of them should remain unfilterable. Some should be syns or even canonical depending on the exact tag and fandom.
Original Character names with a clear connection to a particular fandom (e.g. "Hamish Watson-Holmes") should be kept in that fandom.
Popular and frequently recurring fanon OCs may in some special cases be canonized, if they are used by multiple creators (at least 3, generally 5 or more, dependent on the size of the fandom).
Canonical tags in No Fandom that refer to original characters and undisclosed characters include:
- Original Characters - please see the full lists of subtags for specific variants
- Original Character
- Original Female Character(s)
- Original Male Character(s)
Please do not syn every otherwise unwranglable tag to 'Other(s)'. Any tag syn'd to any of the tags in this list should be in No Fandom and in no other fandoms.
Examples updated 17 Apr 2013
This refers to characters with the same name who appear in the canons of more than one fandom.
Characters who have the same name and are exactly or essentially the same character across multiple related fandoms: one canonical tag for all versions of the character.
- CANONICAL Jack Harkness
- Child tag of: Doctor Who, Torchwood fandom tags
Characters who appear in several related fandoms and are understood to be the same character, even if portrayed by different actors and with different interpretations.
- CANONICAL: Lex Luthor
- Child tag of: DCU, Smallville.
Characters who appear in multiple unrelated fandoms, which may be characterised differently in each fandom but are recognisably the same character, and can be uniquely identified by users when they see or filter by the work's Fandom tag: one canonical tag for all versions of the character.
Note: This includes various depictions of historical figures across both RPF and fictional fandoms, e.g.: Nikola Tesla, Okita Souji. The character should have one tag, which can be added to as many fandoms as is appropriate.
- CANONICAL: Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts
- Child tag of: Historical RPF, Assassin's Creed, Pirates of the Caribbean (Movies), Horrible Histories.
Note: Some character portrayals may be distinct enough that one or more fandoms request disabmiguation: see "Loki (Marvel)" vs. "Loki (Norse Mythology)" as well as the other Asgardians. When in doubt, disambiguate as per the following guideline.
Characters who have the same name but are not at all the same character should be disambiguated.
Note: If two characters share the same name except for diacritics, then the metatag should be the versions without the diacritic.
- CANONICAL METATAG: Annie Walker
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Annie Walker (Covert Affairs)
CANONICAL SUBTAG: Annie Walker (Bridesmaids)
- CANONICAL METATAG: Kevin Smith
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Kevin Smith (Askewniverse RPF)
CANONICAL SUBTAG: Kevin Smith (Xena RPF)
Characters who have the same name as a multi-Fandom character, but are not at all the same character should be disambiguated where the characters are different.
- CANONICAL: Lucifer
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Lucifer (Modesty Blaise)
- CANONICAL: Athena
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Athena (BSG 1978)
Different characters who have the same name and are in the same fandom should be disambiguated in a way that makes sense to the wrangers of that fandom. Follow the fandom's practice without straying too far from guidelines. You may have to use the suffixes or titles we normally eschew.
- In Discworld:
- CANONICAL: Unlucky Charlie
CANONICAL: Charlie (DPMC)
Single-name characters with names that could be mistaken for a freeform tag (such as a concept or an object), e.g. "Cat", "Cake", "Japan", should be disambiguated with "(Character)". This includes characters in anthropomorphic fandoms that are not specified as anthropomorphic in the character tag itself. The corresponding freeform tags should have their "- Freeform" suffix removed, if necessary. Most of these tags will belong in "No Fandom" as ambiguous metatags; see also those guidelines.
- CANONICAL: Cat (Character)
- SYNONYM: Cat - Character
- CANONICAL: Japan (Character)
Common anthropomorphized concepts and characters should be disambiguated with "(Anthropomorphic)" and treated like characters shared by fandoms, subtagged under the general character metatag. See Shared Character guidelines.
Note: Anthropomorphic characters should be canonized following the same guidelines as other 'Original Characters': they require at least 3 uses before they are made canonical. See Common Original Characters. Character tags with less than three uses should be left as unfilterable in the appropriate Anthropomorphic fandom.
- CANONICAL METATAG: Death (Character)
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Death the Kid
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Death (Anthropomorphic)
- CANONICAL SUBTAG: Death (Discworld)
Teams and other groups can be made canonicals; use whatever form makes the most sense for the canon.
Characters who make up a group are not subtagged to the group canonical, nor are groups subtagged to their canonical characters.
Note: This is because group canonicals are used to indicate the entire group. Subtagging individual characters would mean that users looking for works featuring the entire group would also see works featuring only one or two characters in their results. For similar reasons, groups are also not subtagged to the canonical characters who make up the group.
- CANONICAL: Nishiura High School Baseball Team
- CANONICAL: Sanzo-ikkou
Guideline updated 18 Oct 2015