There’s little denying that omegaverse is popular. I just saw a publisher asking for omegaverse stories. And I also ran across an anthology call for omegaverse. Whether you love it or hate it, it seems omegaverse is having a moment in the sun.
A lot of people scratch their heads over where the heck this idea of an “omegaverse” originated. A very common question is about who invented the omegaverse.
This brief tour of the trope’s history should help answer any questions.
Where Did the Omegaverse Originate?
Traditionally, the omegaverse traces its roots back to a single Supernatural fanfic. The fic appeared as a request fill to apply the outdated wolfpack theory using alpha/beta/omega dynamics in an RPF fic. (Yeah, we know.)
So, when someone asks, “Who invented the omegaverse?”, the answer might be this random fanfic writer.
No History Is Ever Quite That Simple
We could say “so-and-so invented the omegaverse” and call it a day. However, that ignores a couple of poignant issues with this origin story.
The first is that, although this fic writer filled the prompt, someone else asked for the fic. Is the fic requester thus the person who invented the omegaverse?
We could make that argument, for sure. After all, they were the ones who laid down “tropes” we now consider an inherent part of the omegaverse.
At the same time, the fic writer elaborated on those tropes. Other writers then picked them up and moved them across other fandoms, before the trope moved to original fiction.
The other question is where the heck the fic requester got this idea in the first place. They seem to be the first person who articulated the idea. But does that mean they woke up one morning with it, like a lightbulb turned on?
As my heading there indicated, the answer is probably a bit more complex than that.
When Was the Omegaverse Created?
That we can pinpoint “the omegaverse” as we know it to a single fic is fairly impressive. But this genealogy ignores the fact that there was likely a longer genealogy leading up to this point in time.
In a previous post, I mentioned the work of Patricia Briggs, which added alpha/beta/omega theory to werewolf fiction. Briggs has been writing since the 1990s. While she’s not Anne Rice, Briggs has enough of an audience to keep writing for over three decades.
Suffice to say someone in fandom likely had familiarity with her work. We can also note that werewolves and other supernatural creatures were having A Moment. We had big-screen adaptations of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga, which included werewolves. Teen Wolf was also popular in fandom around that time. And, of course, Supernatural dealt with the supernatural—demons, vampires, angels, and werewolves would not have been amiss.
More than that, there had been a boom in slash fic just a few years prior. You could hardly go anywhere in fandom without running into “rabid yaoi fangirls.” Folks writing M/F couples often complained that they got less attention and less popularity than the M/M side of fandom. Harassment of M/F shippers was widespread, especially if the ship “appropriated” one of the boys from a popular slash pairing.
The rise in M/M also led to a rise in mpreg. The reasons are complex, but suffice to say that there were quite a few fics that dealt with one of the dudes in those M/M pairings getting knocked up.
Now, mpreg and slash weren’t new. What was new was the visibility and popularity of it. People had been writing slash fic since the 1960s—Spirk has a long history—and, as I’ve noted before, even ancient mythology includes mpreg.
What Does This Have to Do with Who Invented the Omegaverse?
The context is important because there were a lot of converging influences that result in this “lightning strike” moment. We can argue that this particular Supernatural fic is a flashpoint, the origin point of all subsequent omegaverse.
But it’s not like it came out of thin air. Basically, the omegaverse predates this fic to some extent. The fic requester and writer were likely drawing on existing paradigms—the wolfpack theory, Patricia Briggs’s work, and m/m fic.
I didn’t have much proof of this before, but something very interesting happened the other day. I started clearing out some folders on my computer, and I discovered original fiction I’d written in (wait for it) …
I’ve had the idea to rework the ‘verse for some time. When I found these completed drafts, I decided I’d skim through them and see if they were even worth saving.
(Perhaps surprisingly, they are, to some degree.)
What Was I Doing in 2005?
Now, in 2005, I was still very involved in fandom. I can probably pinpoint the fics that inspired at least some of the narrative threads in this ‘verse. (It’s one reason the first book would need major, major reworking.)
I’ve been an MM fic writer for a long time. Gundam Wing was my first fandom, and if you know anything about Gundam Wing, you know just how many “rabid yaoi fangirls” there were.
By 2005, I’d migrated through a few different fandoms, but I was writing slash. More than that, I’d started dabbling in mpreg.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. In this draft I hauled out, I had a vampire character. This character specifically mentions being a particular “kind” of male vampire. The text hints that there is more than one “type” of male vampire. Our intrepid character is the type that can get pregnant.
Does that sound familiar yet? No? Okay, let’s keep digging here.
This is relevant to the plot. At the time our vampire character comes into contact with the protagonist, the vampire is … going into heat.
Proto-Omegaverse Fics Are Probably More Common Than We Think
To quickly recap: in 2005, I wrote about vampires that had more than one kind of male, and one of those “types” of male could get pregnant. Moreover, those males went into heat.
That should sound very familiar. It echoes many m/m omegaverse stories. The “alpha” character is often also affected.
This story also mentions pheromones and so on. Basically, all that’s missing from this story is the wolf dick and the a/b/o terminology.
I’d term this proto-omegaverse then, in that it has quite a few of the core trappings we’d expect of omegaverse—but it doesn’t use the specific language.
Let’s also keep in mind that I was in fandom, both reading and writing fic. Where do you think I got the idea for different “types” of males, some of whom go into heat?
Fandom, of course. It wouldn’t surprise me to find these proto-omegaverse ideas proliferated as fans cross-pollinated between series and shows. Think of it as cross-over fic, but with tropes instead of characters.
Thus, all it would take is someone writing this kind of fic and someone who is a fan of that series picking up the idea and carrying it across to another.
Given that, there are probably plenty of proto-omegaverse stories that give us all of the trappings without the lingo. They’re omegaverse without articulating that they’re omegaverse—because the terminology didn’t yet exist.
So, Who Invented the Omegaverse?
Honestly? I could make the claim I did, and I could back it up with this story. I wrote other works and published them, although I don’t have them archived. But that this appears in my unpublished work could suggest that I wrote it in a fic that was published or that I shared this story with someone privately.
I know pretty much for fact that scenario didn’t happen. Even if it did, I’m going to tip my hat to my forebears here. As I said, I probably didn’t light on this idea by myself. I likely read other stories, which were also influenced by other stories.
In short, no one “invented” the omegaverse. It has a long genealogy, evolving through various writers and media until the “flashpoint” fic where it finally received a name.
Thus, we can’t talk about who created the omegaverse, because the answer is nobody and everybody all at once. If we must, we can say fandom created the omegaverse.
Again: I was writing proto-omegaverse stories as early as 2005, a good five years or so before the “flashpoint” fic people like to cite as the “invention” of omegaverse. That’s not the invention of omegaverse—it’s the formalization of it, the naming of it.
And this is true of many, many things in fandom: fandom is a collective. Trying to pinpoint an “origin” story in fandom is to ignore all the fans who influenced that “flashpoint.” It’s an effort to make someone into a “genius” when what they are is a person who has been influenced by other artists around them. That’s all.
Who Invented the Omegaverse for M/F Fiction?
Plenty of people have commented on Addison Cain and her (patently false) claim to have “invented” the omegaverse. The history of omegaverse is long and convoluted, moving through various media and plenty of writers before we get to Cain.
As I’ve indicated here, it’s ludicrous for anyone—myself included—to try and claim they’re the originator or inventor of omegaverse. I’ve got a better claim than Cain does, but that’s hubris of the highest order. I know I didn’t come up with that idea on my own. I know I was influenced by others.
And that is precisely true of Cain. Cain can perhaps be credited with popularizing omegaverse in heterosexual romance, but there is no singular “inventor” and thus no ownership.
In fact, trying to claim ownership of moving an inherently queer trope into a heterosexual space is … Well, it’s a special kind of queer erasure. Cain later denied trying to claim “ownership” of MM omegaverse. But the point stands. You cannot take a queer trope, make it straight, and then claim you “invented” it or that you “own” it.
If anyone invented omegaverse, then it was queer writers; if anyone “owns” it, then it must be queer writers.
A Tale of Appropriation and Erasure
Cain’s claim is appropriation of queer culture. Worse, any attempt to import omegaverse to heterosexual spaces is, by and large, queer erasure.
And it is baffling as well. Omegaverse, as I pointed out, evolves through fandom, through contact with monster fuckers (queer), m/m (queer), and mpreg (very queer). The trope is a way to worldbuild queerness into our stories in a way that is both familiar and strange.
Omegaverse is often a handwave for mpreg writers like myself. Omegas are dudes who can get knocked up. Simple. Easy. Done. But the worldbuilding is much queerer than that, and we can see that the second we scratch beneath the surface.
Omegaverse often takes everyday, real-world misogyny and pastes it onto male bodies. Omegas embody the feminine, and they are oppressed for it.
At the same time, omegaverse asks us to critique the gender binary. Why is it assumed “natural” and “normal” that omega men are going to be emotional, irrational, fragile—femme?
Omegaverse Presents a Challenge to Gender Norms
Omegaverse blows up our preconceived notions about “male” and “female,” about “man” and “woman,” about “masculine” and “femme.” It puts masculinity on steroids and oppresses the femme men to call attention to the sheer ridiculousness of how our gender binary operates in day-to-day life.
Because it is a queer trope, omegaverse calls all this into question by virtue of its existence. The “male omega” is an oxymoron in our gender binary. Simply by existing, he calls into question everything we think we know about sex and gender, masculinity and femininity.
M/F stories can absolutely maintain this queerness—after all, there’s T4T couples who are still queer af. There are bisexual and pansexual people out there in heterosexual relationships—but they are anything but “straight.”
But, for the majority of M/F omegaverse stories, the queerness is erased under the heterosexual gaze. Instead of looking upon the male omega and seeing the masculinization of the feminine, we are often presented run-of-the-mill misogyny that’s constructed as desirable.
The long and short of it is that most M/F stories don’t need omegaverse trappings to have the hyper-masculine dickhead lover and the feisty-yet-oppressed “omega.” Rather than challenging the normalization of “caveman Zog” and “fragile” women, M/F omegaverse tends to reinforce this kind of behavior.
That’s not to say that queer omegaverse escapes that trap entirely. But since the trope is rooted in queerness, it is also rooted in questioning the “norms” put forward by a heteronormative society. We can again look to the “omega male” who is at once masculine and feminine to see the gender binary breaking down under its own weight.
So, Who Invented the Omegaverse? Queer People
We come back to the question about “ownership” of the trope. At the end of the day, omegaverse needs to have its roots in queerness acknowledged. That doesn’t mean M/F stories can’t use it—certainly, M/F stories can be queer. They can also benefit from critical evaluation, questioning of paradigms around gender.
But we need to remember the queer roots of the trope whenever we invoke it. Otherwise, we risk losing the inherent challenge omegaverse presents to bioessentialist gender norms.
So, when it comes to claims about “who invented the omegaverse” or who started it or what have you, the queer roots call on us to challenge the very idea of ownership. Nobody “invented” omegaverse; nobody “owns” it. Indeed, we all recreate it anew every time we interact with an omegaverse story—and that’s part of its appeal.