I’ve always compared Stiles to Willow (from BTVS), because like Willow, Stiles is the favorite character of the show runner, like Willow he keeps getting given storylines at the expense of other, better characters played by better actors.
But when it comes to fanfic, Stiles is far far more like Xander. Hell, half the Sterek fanfics I’ve read so far could be Spander fanfics with a few words changed…
I’m not saying that Sterek writers are Spander fans, hell most of them are probably too young to remember Spander. But they use the exact same tropes, they write the characters the exact same way.
Like Sterek, most Xander-centric Spander fics were horribly ooc.
Xander who was a brave but entitled sidekick who looked up to his best friend who was the actual hero, got turned into the protagonist who’s the actual hero and saves the day. Or he was made the victim, abused and/or ignored by all his (canon)friends, falls in the hands of morally grey older character (aka Spike), who’s powerful, rich, in control (which is where Spike was generally written ooc) There woudl be banter, Xander would be written as Spike’s ‘consort’, which was pretty much the equivalent of ‘mate’, …
Spike, said older character, was often given power, wealth, … in a way that just wasn’t in character for Spike on the actual show. Spike’s actual canon attitude got ignored, Spander writers kept going on about Spike being a ‘master vampire’, the same way Sterek shippers feel the need to cling to Derek’s status as an Alpha. Even though the whole ‘master vampire’ thing was purely fanon informed. In fact, looking at the way Spike was written, the writers were more inclined to write Spike as Angelus, than the way Spike actually behaved even at his most evil.
Often in these fics you had Spike living in a mansion along with several lesser vampires, just like Derek has his ‘Pack’, with the actual canon characters (including Scott) treated as no more than minor lackies to Derek to show Derek’s importance.
See, the thing is, I used to read Spander, but the more I read of that ship, the more I realized that the Spike and Xander in those fics had little or nothing to do with the actual Spike and Xander I loved on the show. And much as it wasn’t my fave ship, (I always preferred Spike with Angel and/or Buffy), I still loved Spike enough to read him with almost anyone. And yet fic after fic turned my fave character, Spike, into someone who just wasn’t recognizable as the character I loved from the show.
It wasn’t just the Buffy and Willow bashing, often found in those fics, though those tended to get me to click back as soon as it started, most of all, it was that though the two chars starring in the fic, held Spike and Xander’s names, they actually had little or nothing in common with their canon personalities, behavior and so on.
I'm not saying Spander in and of itself is a bad ship. There are some awesome Spander fics that do keep both Spike and Xander in character, that bring in the other characters and the boys interactions with them. Spander has chemistry, subtext, history... the problem is that the people I'm talking about didn't care about any of that. To them, all that mattered was using Xander and Spike as respectively, self insert and wish fullfillment.
Maybe I just spotted the tropes quicker, because I never cared about Stiles, the way I still did about Xander. Even at the few times when the character annoyed the hell out of me, I still cared about him. With Stiles, there’s no such emotional connection, so when I noticed Stiles stans turning him into a Gary Stue, I couldn’t look past it. Because fanon Stiles has the exact same character traits that fanon Xander did, the same ones you can find in fanon Richie Rylan in a lot of Richie/Methos fics back in Highlander fandom. The same ones often given to Chloe Sullivan in Smallville stories.
Character traits that instantly mark said character as the writer stand in. These characters no longer are their canon selves. They’re canon stues, they’re an insidious way for fanfic writers to get readers to accept their Mary Sues, by disguising them as a canon character who serves as the ‘regular guy/gal’
Every fandom has them, and over and over again, these characters are taken by fanfic writers, gutted of their canon personality and turned into perfect paragons who cant do no wrong, are ignored or sidelines by their canon friends, get into a relationship with the hottest/coolest/most interesting character in the fandom and then show off as being so much better than the canon protagonist.
(not that actual protagonists are safe from this process, I’m a Dean girl, but I’ve read plenty of Dean-centric fics that fall into the same trap. It’s just not as noticeable when done to the protagonist, because canon already supports that they are the hero of the story)
It’s a tiresome trope, a destructive one, because it removes the complexity of both the canon’s storyline and canon characters.
It’s why I stopped reading Spander, it’s why I outgrew Richie/Methos fics, it’s why I never got into Loki/anyone-pairings.
Because when I read fanfic, I want to read about the characters actually on the show, I can read au, but if the characters aren’t there, then why should I bother. I lost most of my interest in Spander years ago, and I’ll be damned before I start reading a lesser version of it, just with the serial numbers filed off.