Now, I'm not saying I actually read or write fanfiction, because I'm trying to be all professional an' shit. But if I did, my pettiest peeve ever would be what I call "Passive-Agressive Utopia Fics".
Passive-Agression, if you, O best-beloveds, are unaware of the term, is basically trying to make other people do all the emotional work for you in a conflict. A perfect example is someone who will brood in hurt silence until you realize you upset them and apologize--only for them to then turn around and berate the fuck out of you for the original transgression. Another perfect example is someone who will mope and sigh for hours, but won't say anything's wrong until you ask. Even worse is when you ask and they say, 'nothing', because if you loved them enough you'd already know.
As you can imagine, and have probably read, this shows up fairly often in fic. It generally follows a particular pattern:
1) The most beloved but flawed (and occasionally badly treated) character (think Rodney McKay of Stargate: Atlantis or Ezra Standish of the 1998 The Magnificent Seven TV series) will experience something in canon that is perceived as cruel and/or unfair by his fans (I'm sure female versions of such characters exist, but I can't remember encountering any).
2) The fans, angry at this character's perceived helplessness and unjust suffering, then write a story either dealing directly with the ep where the unfairness happened, or a story that keeps the same general theme of bad treatment.
---The Beloved Helpless Character will be treated with great cruelty and prejudice by the other characters, often to an uncharacteristic or even absurd extent. Shunning may occur in retaliation for something the BHC did in canon or otherwise, or threats to the BHC's continued acceptance in the group and/or employment. Rarely, their life.
---The BHC will not contest this or stand up for himself in any way. There may be an attempt at protest or apology, but this will be rebuffed by the other characters. The BHC will subsequently just accept his fate.
---The BHC will either ostracize himself from the group, or, already shunned, go off alone and/or cease all but minimal communication or interaction with the other characters. Rodney McKay may take himself to the wretched bowels of Atlantis to do horribly unpleasant menial repairs unworthy of his skills and intelligence. Ezra Standish may leave Four Corners without telling anyone, preferably by riding into a monsoon or blizzard.
--- OR, the BHC will attempt or actually commit suicide, or will be believed to have died by the other characters. The BHC will then get to, in essence, attend his own funeral and witness the other characters' praise of him and their remorse at his ill-treatment. (If the BHC dies, then the reader is their proxy for this.)
---The BHC, due to their misery and the privations of their ostracizing, will become horribly ill and/or injured. It will likely take days to find them, unless they manage to drag themselves back to aid. Either the other characters will have begun a frantic search at this point, or will not even realize the BHC was in peril because he's been shunned to the point of insignificance.
---A character who is the BHC's True Friend and The Only One Who Understands Them (like Rodney McKay's buddy Carson Beckett, who is conveniently a doctor, or Ezra Standish's Mom) will then proceed to berate the fuck out of the other characters for their cruelty, generally while standing at the bedside of the insensate and possibly dying BHC. The True Friend will also, if necessary, explain the BHC's real motivations for their original offending action(s) and basically make the other characters go fetal with guilt. Unless they're already fetal with guilt, in which case the True Friend's job is to make them feel even worse about their treatment.
---The BHC naturally survives and either returns to his previous position within the group or gets some kind of promotion. Occasionally he'll leave for a better offer from people who will appreciate him. Either way, the other characters will fall all over themselves in apology and remorse, which the BHC will righteously milk for all it's worth. Maybe, if he deigns to stay with his former abusers, at the end of the fic he'll begin to forgive them. Maybe.
As you've probably guessed, I call these kinds of fics "Passive-Agressive Utopia" because it's possibly the one place in the universe where the tactic actually works exactly the way its adherents would want it to. Their BHCs are vindicated, glorified and defended, all without them actually having to do anything. They go eat worms because nobody loves them and everybody hates them, and they really do get admired for it; they nearly or actually commit suicide and everyone really is sorry. It's the best of all possible worlds.
And honestly, who wouldn't want that? I still have to remind myself sometimes that my darling husband can't read my mind so if I'm pissed off I need to tell him. It's scary to admit you're angry when you've been raised never to show it. How awesome would it be not to have to?
So I get it, I really do. I just wish it didn't show up so often. And you'd better agree with me, or I'm going to slink off and sit outside in the rain until I get pneumonia. And then you'll be sorry.
Picture is courtesy of antpkr at freedigitalphotos.