"Burnout" is an upcoming 2023 fanfiction series by ThePatchedVest. The story follows a meticulously canon-compliant timeline of Daria, while deviating from the show and telling a wholly original narrative from the perspective of Burnout Girl, who moves to Lawndale with her father after the death of her mother. The work is among the more serious-in-tone, dealing extensively with themes of grief, trauma, mental health, substance abuse and suicide, whilst still maintaining much of the light-hearted humor and deadpan snark the television series is known for.
ThePatchedVest began writing Burnout in 2017 after a marathon of the series, noting that the character of "Burnout Girl" hadn't yet received a notably defining depiction in fanfiction the way other backgrounders (such as Andrea and Scarlett) had. A conceptual poster was soon uploaded to the "r/Daria" subreddit. Vest has cited Roentgen's The Hallowed Halls of Fielding and Kara Wild's Driven Wild universe as major inspiration for writing the series.
While the work isn't notably explicit, it was noted that a "mature/uncensored" version of the fic would be available exclusively through Archive of Our Own.
Four years after a family tragedy, the quiet and stoic Kristi Burns moves from her childhood home to the new town of Lawndale, where she struggles to start a new life and fit-in with the eccentric crowd of characters she finds herself surrounded by. Not long after, Kristi becomes enveloped in the highs and lows of first love, one that finds Kristi forced to overcome her own insecurities and come to her own terms with her trauma, in order to secure her happily ever after.
- Jennifer 'Kristi' Burns: The infamous 'Burnout Girl', Kristi is a rather reticent young girl, she can often be found drifting in thought or nose-deep in a book, disconnected from the world around her. In spite of her internally sharp wit and insightfulness, Kristi struggles to openly express herself to others as a result of severe anxiety and depression, instead opting to communicate through mumbles and one-word answers. Unfortunately, she often finds her only ailment to these stressors in impulsive behaviors and frequent substance abuse to keep afloat and functioning. As an only child, Kristi lives with her soft-spoken and hard-working father, who she has had a strained relationship with since her mother’s death. After several years, the pair made the decision to move out-of-state from her childhood home in Arlen, to the Appalachian town of Lawndale in hopes of a fresh start for each other.
- Wade Kirkland: Wade is a former Lawndale High student who dropped out in his junior year to pursue his own artistic ambitions and help support his family financially. The lead singer and guitarist of a grunge band, The Harpies, he still swings by the school occasionally, hanging out at the smoker pit with his friends and helping out at community events that support the underprivileged in Lawndale. His off-kilter cynical sense of humor balanced with an unusually altruistic nature immediately draws Burnout’s attention upon their first meeting. However, for all his good intentions, Wade has a notable reputation for being something of a delinquent and his tendency to be overly critical and (albeit unintentionally) inconsiderate of others emotions. Wade’s rather neglectful father, Axl, runs a piercing parlor, while his older sister currently lives in Ashfield. He understandably has a resentful and complicated relationship with both of them. Wade is one of only a handful of original characters in Burnout, as the author wanted to avoid distancing too far from the world of Daria, although he mentions that Wade does technically appear in an episode of the show but has been tight-lipped to reveal which.
- Devan 'Shaggy' Rogers: Devan is perhaps best known as Lawndale’s top stoner, a slacker in every sense of the word, he gets his nickname from both his rugged unkempt appearance and uncanny resemblance to the Scooby-Doo character of the same name. Devan is one of the first friends that Burnout makes in O’Neill’s self-esteem class. He consistently has to retake the school tour at the start of every year due to his poor long-term memory and due to his academic failures has been stuck in tenth grade for roughly three years. In spite of his pot-associated challenges, he’s an eternally friendly, open-minded and positively encouraging ally to Burnout and the others.
- Kelly 'Red' MacIntosh: Kelly, also known by her nickname ‘Red’, is a hyper-energetic, optimistically quirky young girl who somehow manages to see the best in everyone at Lawndale and goes out of her way rather early on to befriend the unusually quiet Burnout. True to her involved nature, Kelly is the president of Student Council, and is responsible for organizing school events alongside Jodie Landon. Kelly is one of the few students who is openly gay, although her history in romantic endeavors has been complicated to say the least.
- Bob Rollins: Bob is a close friend of Devan’s and the school’s resident punk rocker. Although soft-hearted and well-intentioned, he is a bit of a meathead as a result of a turbulent home life and tends to get in trouble picking fights with those who cross him.
- Arnold Burns: Arnold is Burnout's father, hard-working and soft-spoken. He cares deeply for his daughter, but despite his best efforts, seldom has the time for her, leaving a rift in communication to open up between the two and widen throughout the years, especially after the passing of his wife.
- Trent Lane: Trent is the lead singer and guitarist of Mystik Spiral. He’s a long time friend of Wade’s and the two share many of the same interests and mannerisms. Trent, however, is quite forgetful and passive to many of the goings-on in Lawndale that doesn't directly impact him or his band. Trent has a large extended family, the most notable of which is his younger sister, Jane Lane.
- Axel 'Axl' Kirkland: Axl is Wade’s father, a first-generation immigrant from the United Kingdom, Axl grew up in the working class punk scene of the '70s, where he played drums in a famous punk band. In the following years, Axl soon emigrated to the United States and met Wade’s mother. He’s the only member of Wade’s family who Wade himself respects and acknowledges, to the point of adopting his father's controversially anarchist politics and punk rock ethos. Yet, Wade rarely receives anywhere near the same affection from his father, who looks down on him rather neglectfully when compared to his sister.
- Joshua Williams: Josh is Burnout’s paternal cousin and Lawndale native. In that respect, they share the same hair color, love for skateboarding and trademark cynical stoicism, however, their time together is greatly limited by his eccentric and overbearing parents, but he serves as a grounded and reliable confidant for Burnout.
- Angelica Robinson: Angel is known for her shy, doe-like attitude. She's Devan’s girlfriend and much like her better(?) half, is something of an airhead; often forgetting things important and trivial, and unintentionally bumping into her surroundings.
- Monique Sylvia: Monique is the bassist and backing vocalist of The Harpies and Trent’s on-again-off-again girlfriend (and former bandmate). She frequently hangs around Axl’s body shop as his assistant. Wade had a crush on her when the two were kids and she often still teases him to this day, much to his dismay.
- Andrea Talbot: Andrea is a goth classmate at Lawndale. She is an outcast, often mistreated by her peers for her weight, strange appearance and morbidly grim outlook, as such, she often makes rude comments towards her fellow classmates as a defense mechanism.
- Timothy O'Neill: Mr. O’Neill is Burnout's effeminately liberal second-period Language Arts teacher at Lawndale High, who also serves as her after-school ‘self-esteem’ counselor. In spite of his genuine goodwill, he is frequently overwhelmed by his job and is unable to effectively provide much guidance for Burnout beyond shallow aphorisms.
- Anthony DeMartino: Mr. DeMartino is the poorly-tempered history and civics teacher at Lawndale High. A former beatnik-turned-veteran who has become deeply disillusioned with both the youth and his underpaid job teaching them, he frequently derides Burnout for her lack of effort in class as well as her apathetic and lazy nature.
- Angela Li: Ms. Li is the Principal at Lawndale High. She is quite authoritarian, frequently reprimanding Burnout and her friends (aka, other “high risk students”) for their truancy and delinquent behavior. Nevertheless, Li remains obsessively focused on maintaining an almost nationalist ‘school spirit’ and embezzling funds to supply the school’s absurd security systems in fear of the ‘criminal element’.
- Dale Winters: Dale is a close friend of Bob’s. Despite being well into his thirties, he frequently enjoys crashing high school parties and hanging around the alternative crowd at Lawndale High. Despite being rather obnoxious, Bob and the other’s keep him around in order to get smokes, alcohol and other illicit substances, though are quick to leave him to take the fall when the cops show up. He also claims to be Kurt Cobain’s long lost brother, despite his birth certificate stating he was born in Illinois.
- Lorraine 'Lora' Parker: Lora is Josh's girlfriend and a computer geek, who hosts several tabletop RPG-centric IRC servers.
- Alison Kirkland: Alison is Wade’s sister, although she shares her brother’s general mischievousness, free-spirited rebellion and cynical outlook on the world (and others), she is strongly disliked by her younger brother for her oft-manipulative and promiscuous nature and lack of what he deems "consistent ethics or principles".
- Celinda Nguyen: Celinda is a rather popular girl who is part of the school’s planning committee with Jodie and Kelly. As such, she is friendly towards Kelly’s friends and frequently attends their events, such as the opening night at Café Lawndale.
- Laura Disher-Burns: Laura is Burnout's mother and the wife of Arnold, she passed away roughly three years prior to the events of Burnout.
- 1. The New Pollution (Esteemsters / The Invitation)
- 2. Coffee & TV (College Bored / Cafe Disaffecto)
- 3. Heart Factory (Malled / This Year's Model)
- 4. Novocaine For The Soul (The Lab Brat / Pinch Sitter)
- 5. Room A Thousand Years Wide (Too Cute / The Big House)
- 6. Counting Blue Cars (Road Worrier / The Teachings of Don Jake)
- 7. Why I'm Here (The Misery Chick)
- 1. Something’s Always Wrong (Arts 'N Crass / The Daria Hunter)
- 2. Little Black Backpack (Quinn the Brain / I Don't)
- 3. Otherside (That Was Then, This Is Dumb)
- 4. Kowalski (Monster)
- 5. Take A Picture (The New Kid)
- 6. Shade (Gifted / Ill)
- 7. Only Happy When It Rains (Fair Enough)
While writing Burnout, ThePatchedVest curated a playlist of songs that reflected the novels nostalgic coming-of-age tone and themes. The playlist includes a variety of Alternative rock, post-grunge, pop punk, noise-pop and emo pop bands, opting for a selection of bands to fit the 1998-2001 setting and songs that roughly aligned with the plot and character arcs of the series.
- During the pre-production process, ThePatchedVest underwent what they entitled "Burnspotting", which entailed screenshotting every appearance of the Burnout Girl throughout the show's run of sixty-five episodes and two films, whilst taking notes on the context of aforementioned scenes, then finding interesting and abstract ways that the events of said scenes could influence or interact with the overall narrative.
- With the reveal of the final poster in May 2023, it was revealed by the author that elements from Beavis and Butthead, Downtown, Office Space, Airheads and the first four seasons of King of the Hill would be incorporated and considered canon to the series, most notably the appearance of Downtown's Goat. Similarly, the fanfic was given the designation of D-11891 in the Daria Multiverse categorization system.
- Several aspects of Burnout's overall narrative line up with the lyrics to the 1994 song "Burnout Girl" by pop punk outfit Screeching Weasel.
- Likewise, each chapter title is a reference to an alternative rock song, typically those that were released and/or received airplay on MTV during the five-season tenure of Daria from 1997 to 2002. For example, the first two seasons are titled after songs by Beck, Blur, Sleater-Kinney, Eels, Soundgarden, Dishwalla, Oleander, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Stroke 9, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primal Scream, Filter, Silverchair, and Garbage respectively.