When I recently asked some questions about the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, there were some VERY in-depth answers that of course referred to the books mostly, which I was never able to fully get into (other than The Hobbit, which I’ve read many times). Then when I Googled “how strong are elves in Lord of the Rings” I came upon many REALLY in-depth answers, detail on the level of professional historians, almost. And that’s just for a really simple question.
I’m not disparaging them at all; I’m a dinosaur fanatic, and I probably can go full dino-fanatic mode 0-100 without much prompting.
The question is, is there any other fandom out there as dedicated and long-suffering as Tolkien fans?
This is a good and interesting question that I’m curious to see the response to.
There’s a part of me that thinks the obvious answer is Star Trek, with Star Wars coming in at a very close second. That being said, I’d argue that Star Wars is probably higher because the universe itself is bigger and has WAY more characters (each with their own official and insanely detailed backstory). So because of that, I’m going with Star Wars.
(I can’t wait for the A-hole who posts in here "Christians/religious people! Because it’s all a story! Lololololololololololololololol I’m so funny and witty and cutting edge)
On a worldwide basis, the BTS Army is by far the most powerful fandom right now.
And in general, k-pop fandoms are much bigger than people in the west realize. In any online popularity vote between western pop stars and k-pop stars, the k-pop stars always win, because Asians vote massively.
And I think that to answer the OP, we need to distinguish between depth and breadth. The Tolkien fandom is one of the deepest (though Shakespeare probably still tops him there), with multiple entire complete constructed languages, multi-volume history tracts, and so on. But there are a lot more Harry Potter fans than Tolkien fans.
Put it this way. The US is only a minor part of their fandom. Their base is Asia. Yet they were able to sell out Citi Field in NYC in 20 minutes last fall. Even major western stars have a hard time selling out stadiums that fast.
Yes, I definitely mean depth; there are tons of fans of a lot of things, but not as many who could give an in-depth answer to something like “what did Beorn do after the Battle of the Five Armies, and why did we not see any more skin-changers in the LOTR”? (Short answer: There’s a WHOLE lot that happened, including Beorn having lots of kids, though I don’t think it’s made clear exactly who Mrs. Beorn was.)
I have a friend who is SERIOUSLY deep into Tolkien fandom. These are the people who read Norse sagas and know their Northern European mythology inside-out. I don’t dare go against them. And I’ve written two books on mythology.
I’ve got a copy of The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. Amongst the literally astounding trivia written there you find such things as “even though the story takes place on April 3rd and mentions a full moon, April 3rd actually had a new moon.” Although I’m not sure how popular Sherlock still is.
That’s the original Annotated Sherlock Holmes, done by William s, Baring Gould. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by Leslie Klinger*, is less obsessed with trying to find real-world dates for the stories.
Sherlock Holmes Fans are , or at least used to be, more obsessed than Tolkein fans. Not only have they had numerous Journals (The Baker Street Journal, and countless others) and societies all over the globe, but the put out pastiches, puzzle books, and the like.
*Klinger is the great re-annotater. He’s put out “new” annotated versions of not only Sherlock Holmes, but also Dracula and Frankenstein (both originally annotated by Leonard Wolf) and H.P. Lovecraft (annotated, by a different company, by S.Y. Joshi.). I would say that he’s never annotated his own series de novo, but he’s just put out a book of annotated noir mysteries.
Surprised nobody has mentioned Harry Potter. HP fans may not be QUITE as fervent as hardcore Trekkies or what have you, but there’s some SERIOUS folks out there. And a HUGE number of “hardcore casual” fans. I mean, there’s enough demand that HP has its own theme park areas that people make pilgrimages to. I know people who take their Hogwarts house sorting pretty seriously, and I think I know more folks with Hogwarts robes than Starfleet uniforms at this point.