Self-cest: 5 characters who get paired with themselves

Sometimes fandom finds characters so hot that they can only hook up with alternate versions of themselves.


Aja Romano


Posted on Oct 22, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 9:00 am CDT

Last week, the Daily Dot told you about the existence of the Once-ler fandom, an unusual fandom based on the children’s movie The Lorax.

The Once-ler is a character, and since fans in the Once-ler fandom are fans of, well, the Once-ler, there’s pretty much only one character to work with if you want to ship him, i.e. pair him together romantically with anyone.

That’s right. Fans are shipping the Once-ler with himself.

Fortunately for fans, in the film, the Once-ler transforms over time into an alter-ego known as the Greed-ler. In the fandom, the Once-ler doesn’t just become the Greed-ler; he turns into several different variations on an ever-changing persona. He can be any kind of character you want him to be. 

The Once-ler fandom calls this ship Oncest. We’re not sure how it works; we just know that it’s incredibly popular (link NSFW). 

(miru / DeviantArt)

In honor of the Once-ler fandom, the Daily Dot has decided to bring you a list of Self-Cest: the top 5 greatest characters fans ship with… well, themselves.  


1) Avengers:  Loki/Loki

In Norse mythology, Loki is a shapeshifter who can turn into, among other things, a horse. In the Marvel comics “Thor” storyline, Loki can duplicate his image, and shapeshifts into a woman, commonly referred to in fandom as “Lady Loki.”

(pachecoclaire / DeviantArt)

Perhaps because of these qualities, or perhaps because Avengers fandom really loves Tom Hiddleston, one of the most popular examples of “self-cest” involves shipping Loki with himself. There are hundreds of “Loki/Loki” fics on the Archive of Our Own (AO3), some of them featuring Lady Loki, some of them involving other characters.  One or two even distinguish between the Loki of Norse mythology and the Loki of the Marvelverse. 

No matter how you duplicate it, more Hiddles means more fun for everyone.

2) Homestuck:  Dave Strider/Dave Strider

It may not be saying much that Dave Strider is one of the “main” characters in a story with well over 120 characters at this point. But in a story with so many players, some of whom are alternate iterations of other characters, Dave stands out because his alternate self is, well, totally badass. 

Dave and his alter-ego from a doomed separate timeline meet when alternate timeline Dave reincarnates as a video game spirit and returns to keep “real Dave” from doing stupid shit. (Just trust us. Like everything else about Homestuck, it’s complicated.) What makes this pairing special is that unlike some of the other pairings on our list who either don’t actually interact or only interact with tension when they do, Dave and Davesprite/Alternate Dave really do love each other—in a conciliatory-quadrant kind of way. (Don’t ask.)

(ivampiri / Tumblr)


3) Doctor Who:  The Doctor/The Doctor

(demonicbutler / DeviantArt)

Canonically, the titular Doctor exists in many forms, perennially returning to a new human body with a slightly different persona as the show wobbles through time and space. We’re up to Doctor #11 now (they’ve all been men), and all of these “Doctors” are iterations of the same character. The incredibly popular Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, also has a duplicate clone tucked away in an alternate universe, while Eleven has a clone form known as “Ganger.”

Naturally this makes him—them?—prime candidates for being shipped in multiple incarnations. 

4) Fringe:  Olivia/Fauxlivia

Fringe is a critically acclaimed show built around the existence of overlapping parallel universes. The show’s main character, Olivia, exists in multiple versions because of the different universes she inhabits. “Fauxlivia,” or “Bolivia,” is “our” Olivia’s alternate self from a universe in which her relative lack of trauma led to the development of a very different Olivia.  While the original Olivia is more more reserved and introverted, Fauxlivia is more open, funnier, and laid back. 

The two Olivias interact many times throughout the series, so logistically, shipping them together is no problem, as evidenced by the small but enthusiastic number of fics on LiveJournal and other places

(Source: Loki / Rule34)

5) Fight Club: (Note: contains film spoilers)

I’m partial to this one because many years ago, this was the first slash pairing I ever read, in a fic where the Narrator and Tyler do a whole lot more than just hash out their differences during the climactic final scene of David Fincher’s tour de force of violent social commentary. A friend eagerly showed it to me, doubtless thinking it would convince me to see the glory of slash fic—which, at that point, I thought was strange, despite having a fondness for stories where queer men (and women) fell in love.

As a first encounter with slash fiction, Jack/Tyler primarily confused me, because, spoiler alert, they’re the same person. Granted, considering the context of the film, not to mention the blatant adrenaline-fueled homoeroticism of scenes where the two are together, it’s easy to see how my friend got excited. This pairing is the essence of why shipping someone with their alter-ego can be such a satisfying exploration—not only into issues of narcissism or dissociative identity, but into issues of, erm, hotness.

So what other “self-cest” pairing bandwagons would you guys hop on?  Old Joe/Young Joe from Looper? Dick Grayson/Dick Grayson from various versions of Batman? Arthur and a projection of himself from Inception? Harry Potter’s Hermione from the past / Hermione from the future with a Time-Turner?

If you can think of anything you like, you’re in luck—there’s a self-cest fanfic festival just waiting for you.

Photo via demonicbutler / DeviantArt

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2012, 2:29 pm CDT