Television used to bring families together in the den. It used to give coworkers something to discuss at the water cooler. Now it gives a good chunk of the world a way to connect through this big fancy thing called the internet, where social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter have allowed passionate TV fans to write about and discuss their small-screen obsessions with peers who are equally dedicated to the medium (and possibly prone to reading fan fiction at 3am instead of sleeping).
Having lived through my fair share of TV-related fixations, I have witnessed plenty of these fandoms firsthand, and I have to say, sometimes it gets a bit scary out there. Like that one time you accidentally typed Stephan instead of Stefan and suddenly half of The Vampire Diaries fandom had taunted you so hard that you had to delete your entire online life and start over. Fandoms can be brutal (although, if you can't spell the lead character's name right when you have access to things like TV.com and IMDB, then what are you doing with your life?), but they can also be awe-inspiring. Here are eight we think are crazier than all the rest.
Crazy Level: 8 out of 10
I love Teen Wolf, but I showed up late to the party, having only caught up on Netflix a little over a year ago. I'd initially written the show off as silly and campy, but I eventually wised up. And now I have a confession to make: I've been living a lie. I am not a Sterek 'shipper, and I've never been a Sterek 'shipper. It's not that I ever identified myself as one, but I have neglected to tell the truth in situations where other fans have brought up how much they love Stiles and Derek as a couple, out of fear that I might be shunned. I'm a dying breed, I know, and I realize this puts me squarely in the minority, but it's been eating away at me for awhile now. I love both characters separately (especially Stiles), but sometimes the fandom's dedication to the pairing and its two actors gets a little overwhelming (go search the Dylan O'Brien tag on Tumblr and you'll see).
But that doesn't mean I don't respect the love that Teen Wolf fans have for a series that many people jeered simply because of its '80s teen movie origins. The fan fiction, the theories, the Tumblr posts: Teen Wolf fans are all-in. What's more, series creator Jeff Davis and his particularly youthful cast have only encouraged viewers' loyalty by fully embracing social media, using it to interact with the Teen Wolf audience, and championing a fandom that's both vocal and accepting.
Crazy Level: 10 out of 10
The last time we put one of these lists together—in 2010—we also gave the Supernatural fandom 10 out of 10 on the highly scientific TV.com Crazy Scale. Some people might be offended by the ranking, but as a pretty big fan of the Winchesters myself, I don't think it's a bad thing. Supernatural fans are a dedicated, loyal bunch, and they get sh*t done. They kept the series alive during Season 7, when the Leviathan threatened to tear down everything we loved, and they kept the series from drowning on Friday nights. Supernatural experienced a resurgence in Season 8, and it's currently bringing in some of the best Tuesday-night ratings The CW has seen in years. Plus, the show's cast really seems to love the outpouring of support.
Okay, yes, sometimes the love for Wincest or Destiel can be overwhelming and terrifying, and sometimes I worry that if someone were to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, all of a sudden there'd be a giant internet-pocalypse and non-Supernatural fans would be completely wiped out and anyone who survived would be forced to live in a world where "the Padalecki" was the only approved a hairstyle and trench coats were be mandatory uniform requirements. But I love Supernatural fans. I might not partake in their fan fiction, or attend their conventions, but I admire their dedication to their craft.
The Vampire Diaries
Crazy Level: 9 out of 10
I don't know when it became cool to record yourself watching a TV show for the express purpose of uploading that video to YouTube for all the world to see, but some Vampire Diaries fans really seem to enjoy doing it, especially with regard to the Klaus and Caroline relationship. So, you know, that's kind of weird. Also, sometimes the 'shipping wars get downright ugly—in a scary, might-need-to-sleep-with-the-light-on-for-a-few-weeks-after-interacting-with-the-fandom sort of way. Obviously, not all TVD fans are the same, but lemme tell ya, hell hath no fury like a Stelena or Delena 'shipper scorned. And don't even get me started on the Kol faction that recently directed some astounding vitriol at showrunner Julie Plec. I've seen some pretty extreme fandom turf wars in my day, but I'm still surprised by the sheer intensity of some TVD devotees.
Crazy Level: 5 out of 10
Epic, indeed. I really hope this is just quality photoshopping. I am impressed, humbled, a little scared. pic.twitter.com/up5gzuBHZm— Rob Thomas (@RobThomas) January 27, 2014
Setting aside the Logan Echolls-inspired tattoo above, believe me when I say that it's time to let go of the Logan vs. Piz stuff, because that stuff is child's play in the grand scheme of everything Veronica Mars. Everyone's got a personal preference as to who they think is the right guy for Veronica, but that's not necessarily what drove this fandom to collectively donate nearly $6 million to help fund a Veronica Mars feature film. Anyone and everyone who's seen the series can attest to the wonderfully written scripts, intricately planned season-long mysteries, and superlative wit and sarcasm that made Veronica Mars a hero for many a woman (and man). Oh, and let's not forget about Keith Mars, who stands as one of the greatest television fathers in history.
The fact that this series—which was smarter and funnier than most other teen dramas—was canceled so swiftly in the spring of 2007 without a true ending is the real reason Veronica Mars fans are as crazy as they are. At the time, viewers were straight-up enraged. And while the fandom may not have been particularly large in 2007, word of mouth and the availability of the series after it signed off helped to boost the series to cult status after its axing. Veronica Mars fans are loyal and dedicated, as the upcoming March 14 premiere of the Kickstarted movie makes pretty damn clear. And as someone who donated several weeks' worth of lunch money to the cause, I can't wait.
Crazy Level: 7 out of 10
With only three episodes per season, Sherlock fans have a lot of free time on their hands. While some spend their days coming up with various conspiracy theories—regarding, say, how Sherlock survived that fall at the end of Season 2, or how Jim Moriarty might actually be alive—others are busy writing fan fiction (FanFiction.net lists more than 30,000 stories to date), making fanvids, or .GIF-ing individual scenes for Tumblr (that Sherlock and Moriarty fake-out kiss from "The Empty Hearse" seems to be pretty popular material).
Of course, it might be more accurate to say that Sherlock fans aren't as crazy as fans of Benedict Cumberbatch himself. Consider, for instance, this fun anecdote: During the recent Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, out of all the celebrities who dropped by to appear on various panels, Cumberbatch was the only person who had fans camping out and waiting for him outside the hotel where the tour was held. With signs. Bright pink signs. There may've been glitter involved. To his credit, I hear Cumerbatch took photos and signed autographs for each person there. So there are probably worse people to spend your spare time on. But still: crazy.
Crazy Level: 6 out of 10
This one's a bit tough, because the fandom spans so many years and continents that there are many different ages and fan types to account for, but one thing is certain: Whovians are a seriously devout bunch. The Doctor is an extremely popular cosplay, and the series has inspired some fans to create everything from dalek Christmas trees to Doctor Puppets to TARDIS... everything. To an outsider, some Doctor Who fans might appear as if they belong in the local nuthouse, but on the inside, the fandom is more or less a community of like-minded individuals. Everyone has their favorite Doctor, and since the series' relaunch of the series in 2005, many fans have started actively 'shipping the Doctor and his companions. Plus, there are thousands of Who fanfics out there, covering all kinds of topics. All I have to say to that is, "Daaaaaaang."
Crazy Level: 7 out of 10
I stopped watching Glee a long time ago, but holy hell the Klaine and Faberry fans are still keeping their dreams alive, sometimes via disturbing Tumblr posts about how they're going to literally die if something doesn't go right for their favorite 'ship. Not only are they masters of angst-filled fan fiction, but they're probably the most intense 'shippers I've ever come across on the interwebs. They're the only people who actually scare me on Tumblr, and as a big fan of The Vampire Diaries, that's saying something.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Crazy Level: 10 out of 10
Bronies—and the power they've been known to wield—frighten me. The end.