Celebrated Works of Art That Are Basically Fan Fiction

Among other criticisms that have been lobbied at the inexplicably popular erotic novel Fifty Shades of Gray, many have complained about the book’s origins; namely, that it was envisioned as an alternate reality Twilight fan fiction, and the author, E.L. James, merely replaced all the names of the characters in order to make it marketable.

Fan fiction gets an incredibly bad rap in the publishing and book-writing world; Anne Rice, George R.R. Martin, and Diana Gabaldon have all spoken out against potential fan fiction writers using their characters for their own stories. And “real life” fic, where writers create stories about their favorite celebrities (and often pair them together romantically), are even more vilified. We don’t get where all the hate comes from, though — sure, reading about members of One Direction making out with each other can get kind of creepy, but lots of your favorite books, movies, and even musicals are technically borrowed from other sources! Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites, as well as some we can’t believe exist at all — let us know what you think!

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire

Envisioned as a Wizard of Oz for grown-ups, Wicked is a sort of revisionist history of the fictional land above Kansas, in which the witch (Elphaba, named after the initials of her original creator, L. Frank Baum) is actually a political revolutionary and civil rights activist for talking animals. Though the Oz books have been in the public domain for decades, Maguire subtly borrowed from the movie as well, continuing the tradition that the witches of the East and West are sisters (in the 1900 book, they aren’t). Nobody ever took him to task for it, though, and the Wicked series is now a literary powerhouse. In fact, the musical adaptation of the novel has been a staple on Broadway since 2003.