You have questions. I have answers. Welcome to the omegaverse: explained.
Omegaverse Explained: What Is It Anyway?
Omegaverse is essentially a worldbuilding trope used in fiction. Within it, characters have so-called secondary genders (or sexes). People may be designated as alpha, beta, or omega.
Omegaverse originated in fandom around 2010, although there are definitely suggestions that it may have evolved from older sources, both within and outside fandom.
Omegaverse usually includes several features that mark it as omegaverse. These include
- the use of alpha, beta, and omega secondary sex designations
- alphas with “knots” on their cocks
- omegas who have “heat” cycles and produce “slick”
- omegas who produce pheromones
- domineering and possessive alphas
- subservient omegas
- betas who are “normal” people or who may not have an interest in sex
- betas who are infertile
Not all omegaverse stories include each and every one of these pieces. Similarly, many omegaverse stories feature werewolves, but not all of them do. Some may contain mpreg.
What Is A/B/O Fanfic?
A/B/O fanfic is the same as omegaverse in fanfic. You may also see fics tagged with “a/b/o dynamics” rather than “omegaverse” or “a/b/o fanfic.”
These stories employ the worldbuilding trope of omegaverse. Characters will be designated as one of the three secondary sexes: alpha, beta, or omega.
What Is Alpha, Omega, and Beta?
Okay, what’s the deal with this “alpha, omega, and beta” stuff, right?
In short, these are designations for “secondary sexes” or “secondary genders” within omegaverse stories. In most cases, alphas are domineering and possessive, while omegas tend to be submissive. Betas may simply be “normal” people, or they may be infertile.
Alphas are usually attracted to and mate with omegas. Omegas are usually attracted to and mate with alphas. Omegas have “heat cycles,” and they release pheromones that entice alphas to mate with them during these cycles. Betas are normally immune to pheromones.
Alpha, omega, and beta are separate from designations like “male” and “female” or “man” and “woman.” Thus we can have omega men and female alphas, and so on.
The alpha, beta, and omega designation, though, usually indicates someone’s status in the omegaverse society. It may also dictate their reproductive function.
Each author and each story will use these categories differently. For example, in some stories, there will be no women or females at all, so everyone is a man, regardless of their alpha/beta/omega status. In some stories, omegas are very rare, which leads to people fighting over them. Betas may not even be present in some stories.
What A/B/O Is Not
If you do a search for “alpha, omega, and beta” you might come up with some interesting results. Some of what gets mixed in will be material from the “man-o-sphere.”
The individuals in this sphere take the idea of “alpha male” and “beta” literally and apply it to regular, everyday humans. They believe some men are “alphas,” who control situations, whereas others are “betas,” who tend to be submissive and are walked all over.
They’re drawing on the same theory that informs the use of a/b/o designations in omegaverse: wolf pack theory from the 1950s and 1960s. Researchers studied captive wolves and theorized that there was a leader—the alpha—who was “in charge” of the pack. The alpha wolf was attended by a beta or two, sort of a “second-in-command.” The alpha wolf led the pack, defended it, and often controlled access to breeding females.
Since then, this theory has been disproved. This isn’t how wild wolf packs function at all. In most cases, wolf packs are simply family groups: the mom and dad with their offspring from several years.
Yet some people liked the theory and erroneously applied it to human beings.
What’s the Difference between That and Omegaverse?
Omegaverse, first and foremost, is fiction. Second, it usually doesn’t apply to “regular” human beings. In a lot of cases, the a/b/o designations are attached to supernatural creatures, like werewolves, vampires, or other “fantastical” creatures.
By contrast, the man-o-sphere pundits apply their theory to contemporary, everyday human beings. It’s effectively what Herbert Spencer did to Darwin’s theory of evolution: took it and erroneously applied it to modern-day people in a way Darwin never intended the theory be used.
Is Omegaverse True?
I actually answered this question above. Omegaverse is not “true.” It’s completely fictional. It’s a worldbuilding trope used in fanfic and original fiction.
The confusion around omegaverse being true likely arises thanks to the man-o-sphere pundits, who talk about “alpha” and “beta” males as literal things that exist currently in human society. Their version of wolf pack theory is just as untrue as omegaverse. There is no scientific evidence to back up the idea that some human men are “alphas” and others are “betas.” It’s a theory, one that doesn’t hold up in practice, and one that’s based on bad, outdated science to boot.
Omegaverse, on the other hand, acknowledges that it isn’t real or true. Most of the time, it’s sort of speculating: what would society be like if people were alpha, omega, or beta? What would werewolf society be like? Or what would happen if people were genetically engineered and became “alphas” or “omegas”?
Is the omegaverse possible? Maybe. It’s highly unlikely, that’s for sure. I mean, unless we create werewolves or something. Or maybe werewolves already truly exist outside of fiction. Then, who knows? Maybe omegaverse is real already.
Where Did Omegaverse Originate?
In the fiction realm, omegaverse can be traced to a 2009 RPF fic, featuring J2, the pairing of the two main actors in Supernatural.
The fic was a response to a prompt, and it was posted to LiveJournal. Since then, omegaverse has spread across fandom, such that you can find it almost everywhere. And it’s also appeared in the realm of original fiction. While it started off with an m/m pairing and remains very popular for mpreg stories, there is also M/F omegaverse.
As I noted above, there are signs that omegaverse “existed” before the 2009 fic. That fic is thus what I’d call the trope “codifier.” It took a lot of what had maybe been floating around in various media beforehand and “codified” it into the trope we see today.
Other influences might include some of Patricia Briggs’s book series, which includes an “omega” werewolf woman, who is teamed up with her fated mate, an “alpha” werewolf man. Certainly, ideas about secondary genders and sexes existed prior to 2009. In my own original work, in 2005, I wrote about vampires that had a “third sex” or “third gender,” which worked much like what we’d later call “omegaverse.” As I was heavily immersed in fandom at the time, no doubt I was drawing on ideas from fellow fic writers.
We could likely go back to fic writers in the 1960s and 1970s, those who were writing Spirk fanfic in ‘zines, among others. We can certainly find mpreg here—why not omegaverse-esque stories too?
Why Do People Like Omegaverse?
So, why is omegaverse popular anyway? As I noted, it seems to have coalesced over a longer period than we give it credit for, then exploded into popularity post-2010. Why is everyone and their mother writing omegaverse now?
One reason you likely see omegaverse everywhere is because the trope is now codified. As I noted, the ideas behind it certainly existed pre-2010 otherwise, I wouldn’t have “third sex” vampires who acted, basically, like omegas in a story I wrote in 2005. And it’s very likely that the threads I was drawing on in that work extend back quite a bit further.
So, one answer to why “omegaverse is popular” may simply be that it’s always been popular. We just didn’t know it was omegaverse, or we didn’t call it that at least. The “popularity” we see right now is simply due to a rise in visibility.
But What’s the Attraction?
Okay, but why do people actually like this stuff? Well, if you’ve hung around fandom or the internet for any length of time, you should know that Rule 34 is almost always in play. Omegaverse is, by and large, a trope that enables “sexy time” between various characters.
Little wonder that it originated (or codified) and became popular in fandom, a place that is pretty notorious for being horny. Much like “fuck-or-die” or “sex pollen,” omegaverse is a pretty good excuse to have your favorite characters shack up.
It’s also an excellent basis for queering fandom pairings or characters, and it also provides mpreg writers with a pretty handy worldbuilding trope.
Making the Leap to Original Fiction
Why has omegaverse become popular outside of fandom? I’d say for the same reasons. It’s a romance trope, by and large, and it’s definitely one that gives a good excuse for the couple to get together. It also plays well with other tropes, like fated mates or fuck-or-die, and it fits right in alongside monsters, werewolves, aliens, you name it.
It also has the advantage of being endlessly malleable, meaning the trope looks a little different in basically every author’s hands. Omegaverse allows for some fairly fascinating exploration of the worlds it builds, which probably help give it legs beyond the “spicier” aspects. (But let’s not kid ourselves; the spicy aspects are the real selling point.)
So, why isn’t omegaverse popular? Of course, your mileage may vary, just as it will for almost every trope out there. Omegaverse isn’t for everyone—and in fact, it’s one of the most divisive tropes. If you love it, you love it, but if you hate it …
Now that you’ve had omegaverse explained, you may be able to make a decision on whether you want to try it out or not. Or you may be more willing to give it another go, to determine if you really hate it as much as you think you do. No matter the result, though, you understand omegaverse a little more—and why it’s everywhere these days.