Fanfiction stereotypes of Daria
The character of Daria Morgendorffer has been portrayed in fanfiction in many different ways throughout the years.
Daria Triumphant is the Daria of seasons one and two, the Daria who always wins at the end of the episode or, at worst, breaks even. She is the one most in tune with what's really going on, the one best able to detect hypocrisy, duplicity, idiocy, pretension, and doomed enterprises—and avoid them. Daria does all this while being a lazy, irritable, smart-mouthed teenager unencumbered by self-doubt or fear of authority. She is nobody's fool and is the master of her own ship.
This stereotype can be seen in the MTV press release announcing the series' premiere: "In each episode of 'Daria,' we find our heroine in a different situation where instead of being put upon and complaining about it, she takes action. Granted it is mischievous, quasi-anti-social action, but at least it amuses her until the time she figures out a way to escape."
From the third season onwards (and arguably from mid-second season too, considering "See Jane Run"), the show drifted away from this characterization - Daria would have to struggle harder to win out or at least break even ("Prize Fighters", "Fizz Ed"). Fanfiction, however, has kept using the trope of a highly competent, enemy crushing Daria from time to time.
That Daria is quite intelligent is a given, but exactly how intelligent she is has been a subject for intense debate. It is usually the case that she is exactly as intelligent as a fanfic author wants her to be, and in some cases she can be a savant on almost any topic imaginable. Extremes tend to portray Daria as knowledgeable about everything from the proper use of high explosives to calculus. It is not often that Daria admits in fanfic that she doesn't know the answer to a particular problem.
In contrast to the standard fanfic portrayal of Daria as a persecuted hero who overcomes the stupidity of others, the revisionist portrayal from 2000 on was of Daria not as the persecuted, but the persecutor. In such stories, Daria is portrayed not as the only intelligent person in a world given to shallowness, but as a woman of harsh standards applied to others with a judgmental and intolerant attitude. Usually, this intolerance is given as the reason for Daria's social unpopularity; in other words, Daria's outcast status is her own fault, because she sees herself as better than her peers, either knowingly or unknowingly. The amount of blame cast on Daria and her opportunities for redemption vary from writer to writer and story to story. The line between protagonist and antagonist is often blurred in such fics, as Daria can be seen as both or neither, as at least some of her behavior and character is cast in a negative light. (See Evil Daria.)
"Bitch Daria" notably appeared in canon as well, usually after the debut of Tom Sloane, as the show made the character (and viewers) acknowledge her more negative traits: examples would be "See Jane Run", "Jane's Addition", "Partner's Complaint".
Intimations of this viewpoint can be seen even in some early fics, such as Admonisher's "Daria's Christmas Carol" and Austin Covello's "Otherwise Known as Quinn the Great," but the genre was first fully developed in Brother Grimace's fics, "The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow" and "It's All About Respect." See also The Angst Guy's "Prisoner of Hope."
According to some fans of Daria (primarily the male ones), this scene in "Quinn the Brain" indicates Daria is just as physically attractive as Quinn. Thus, a fanfic stereotype has arisen in which Daria actively resists making herself sexually desirable to the opposite sex for several reasons. Paramount among them are her admittedly high standards and her fear of being hurt emotionally after putting her trust in others. Thus, she refuses to put herself in situations where romance is a possibility. An early fic of this nature would be "The Beaches of Barksdale" by Galen Hardesty. A subset of this trope involves Daria 'lowering her defenses' (i.e. changing her garb) as she finds a person worthy of trust; in stories of this nature, Daria (when allowing her physical nature to assert itself) is usually seen as a woman with a extraordinarily romantic and passionate nature, as she has found someone to express her inner desires and feelings with without fear of rejection, betrayal or abandonment. Such fics and serials include the works of Richard Lobinske, The Other Side of Time series by The Sidhe, and the Pause in the Air series by The Angst Guy.
One notable inversion of this trope is found fics such as Galen Hardesty's "Kidnapped", "Turnabout Confusion" by Dennis, "The Devil in Miss Morgendorffer" by Brother Grimace, and the Legion of Lawndale Heroes series. In this subtrope, Daria is discovered to be attractive, but not willingly or by her own choice, and still comports herself as before while also how having to fend off slavering attention.
This is the often-seen trope that Daria is too cold, emotionally distant, or emotionally damaged to successfully have a romantic relationship without significant changes to her personality. In the early years of the fandom, some writers supposed that Daria had been sexually assaulted in Highland, and as a consequence she does not want to be touched, hugged, etc. (For one example, see Daria: The OAV's.) The concept is still used in fanfiction in various dramatic ways, though the specific reason has been dropped as fans increasingly found the 'Daria is this way due to sex assault' idea iffy.
In the series, Daria rarely showed an inclination to hit anyone, and then it was only in childhood sibling fights with Quinn (not counting the time Daria punched Quinn at the end of "The New Kid", Daria also attempted to run Travis over with Jake's car in "Speedtrapped"). Still, her attitude and obvious anger issues have led some fanfic writers to assume Daria is violence-prone and willing to strike out if pushed far enough (or if pushed even a little bit). Usually this is verbal assault, in which Daria will give both barrels on her foe, or manipulation designed to obliterate an enemy (as in the end of "God Save The Esteem").
Some stories have her cut loose with physical violence. One shocking example of this variation is seen in "It's All About Respect," when Daria tears through three rogue bikers (one of whom, among other injuries, loses a testicle) who attempt to rape her and steals their valuables afterward. "Heroes" by Lew Richardson features a montage where Daria, after being pushed past the brink, manages to severely brutalise drunken thugs without even being fully aware of what's going on.
This can also be linked in with Bitch Daria, and especially linked to Evil Daria. It can sometimes be the end result of a Shattered Daria situation, where Daria has undergone some trauma and comes out of it more violent and dangerous: NightGoblyn's "The Misery Chicks" is an example of this.
Although there are many stories where Daria and her friends are superheroes or possess powers, it seems that there is a subtle bent in fanfic towards Daria possessing psychic abilities (usually telepathy or some form of mind control). Among those stories are:
- Estrangesters, by Ostragoth
- It's All About Respect, by Brother Grimace
- It's All About The Mission, by Psychotol
- Legion of Lawndale Heroes, by Roentgen and Brother Grimace
- Hell Hath No Fury, by Danny Bronstein
- Avalon, by Legendeld
- False Starts by thatLONERchick
Episodes like "See Jane Run" (where Daria talks to herself when Jane seems gone) and "Boxing Daria" (where she mentally & physically retreats into a box) show Daria at risk of nervous breakdowns when under extreme stress. A large number of angst-based fics have run with this, with Daria having breakdowns, developing strangely, or always having been psychologically disturbed. This trait is sometimes related to the Cold Daria and Violent Daria traits, and is sometimes the basis for Evil Daria.