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Shows With the Craziest Fans

March 12, 2009
If you’ve ever been to Comic-Con, the names on this list should come as no surprise. These are the truly dedicated, those who don’t hesitate to dress up as their favorite characters, debate for hours on the Internet with faceless strangers over continuity issues, or mail random objects to studio heads when their shows are threatened with cancellation. There’s something about sci-fi in particular that seems to encourage its followers to take action. Is it devotion or obsession?  Does it matter?  Below are just a few of television’s brightest that have inspired some intense fan followings:

The term ‘fandom’ evolved around Star Trek in the 60s and 70s, and credit must be given to the fans for their longevity. Trekkies are the icons when it comes to sci-fi fanaticism, with numerous generations willing to debate Kirk versus Picard at a moment’s notice. Not only did they revolutionize what it means to be a fan, their lasting love for the show inspired four spinoffs (not counting an animated series), and ten feature films with the eleventh due to hit theaters in May. Expect to see long lines of ‘red shirts’ wrapping around movie theaters near you.

Fox cancelled it after airing eleven episodes in the Friday night death slot, but DVD sales and fans’ devotion to Firefly, the little show that could, were so strong that eventually creator Joss Whedon was given the greenlight for a motion picture about the renegade space crew struggling to avoid the reach of the ominous Alliance.  Despite the hard work of the Browncoats (Firefly fans who adopted the nickname of the Independent Faction from the series), the film Serenity may be the last we see of Mal, Zoe, Jayne, River, and the rest – at least on screen. The show lives on in comic book form, refuge of shows axed before their time.  Can’t stop the signal.

Listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the longest running sci-fi show, Doctor Who has survived nine regenerations – soon to be ten – to become one of the best beloved television shows on multiple continents. These fans meet up at conventions like Panopticon to swap stories about sonic screwdrivers, discuss their favorite Companions, and exchange recipes for making cakes in the shapes of Daleks. Though widespread adoration is still fairly new to the United States, British Whovians have followed the Doctor’s adventures in his time-travelling TARDIS since 1963, despite the fact that the show’s lead actor changes every few years. That’s commitment.

Their size and scope never quite reached the fan bases of Star Trek or Doctor Who, but they were no less devoted. Thanks to grassroots efforts for CBS’s Jericho and WB/UPN’s Roswell each were granted a last minute reprieve – even if they didn’t save the shows entirely. A fan campaign involving bottles of Tabasco (the aliens’ favorite) successfully staved off Roswell’s cancellation more than once, and by sending in twenty tons of nuts to CBS studios (referencing a scene from the season one finale), fans of Jericho proved that their small viewership was willing to fight, much like the characters of the post-apocalyptic show. There’s now talk of a feature film to tie up loose ends.  Who knew peanuts were so convincing?

You have to be dedicated to keep up with Lost. What started as a character drama about a group of castaways has become a heavily serialized sci-fi show, and if you don’t keep up, you will get lost.  On the plus side, fans of this show delight in solving the puzzles, spotting the cursed numbers, and the endless discussions of how it all fits together (not to mention what the hell is with the polar bears.) With an end date in sight, answers are coming, even if they come with more questions. You know you’re a Lostie when you can identify all the Dharma station logos, and refer to the Island’s security system as ‘Smokey.’

The original Battlestar Galactica has its own legion of loyal fans, but it’s the reimagined dark and almost desolate series that amassed a huge following in only a few short years.  Hard to believe a show that begins with the near-anihilation of the human race could be so captivating, but by Season 4, Galactican debate over the identies of the Final Five Cylons went far beyond the internet message boards.  Only question is: what will these fans do with all that energy when the show comes to a close this year?  Put it towards support of the prequel Caprica, of course.

It was an admittedly thin premise back in 1994 when James Spader at his dorkiest joined Kurt Russell for a little trip through the metal ring called a Stargate, but when the concept was picked up for a series, a complex backstory came with it, explaining how the machine worked and why all the aliens they encountered looked just like humans.  Fans kept the show on the air for ten seasons, which included a move from Showtime to SciFi, and even though SciFi disappointed many by cancelling it in 2007, the franchise continued with Stargate: Atlantis (which boasted creepier villains in the form of Wraith), two DVD movies with more on the way, and the forthcoming Stargate Universe

The concept of being a fan has evolved since the internet revolution, thanks to the availabilty of information and removing distance from the equation, but there’s one part that will never change – the joy one gets from playing in someone else’s world.


-written for Starpulse

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