A Subfandom is a large group of fans within a larger fandom that carry specific aspects in common. There are several major subgroups within South Park's own fandom that have grown and shrank in the many years the fandom has existed.
There are four core subgroups to the South Park fandom, each detailed below. Additional groups do exist but do not generally reach 'subfandom' status.
The slash subfandom is the largest group of South Park fans, a group who predominantly write or draw romance stories focused on slash pairings, often making all or most focused male characters homosexual or bisexual. The group has existed since the show's inception but has grown steadily and since the removal of script-written fics from Fanfiction.Net in 2005, has dominated the South Park fandom. As a result, it frequently falls under heavy criticism due to the perception of an overabundance of slash stories and art, considering the show's explicit stance against sexuality within the main child characters. A common reasoning cited in favor of slash is the lack of use of female characters on the show, but many point out that Gregory, The Mole, Damien and other such characters were or are common in slash fics, but are as developed as some of the female characters. The most popular pairings are Style, K2, Kyman and Creek. Slash fans often argue over the dominance between two characters - which character is dominant during intercourse.
However, slash shipping has become more common in recent years and come to dominate many fan communities, and been acknowledged in programs like "Bob's Burgers". It has also often been argued as allowing fan communities to be safe spaces for women, LGBTQA+ youth and other oppressed groups to express themselves and explore their sexualities. While they continue to undergo criticism, they are steadily becoming more accepted.
The slash subfandom was acknowledged by Matt and Trey in the episode, "Tweek x Craig", who canonized the popular ship Creek and implicitly suggested a level of support for slash.
The Het subfandom is a group of fans who predominantly write or draw romantic stories or images putting characters in straight/heterosexual pairings. The subfandom has increased and declined since the series began, but often grows particularly after episodes wherein female characters gain a bigger spotlight, such as the episode "The List". The subfandom remains small due to the dominance of slash and growing re-popularity of original characters. The most popular het pairings are Stendy and Candy. The het subfandom occasionally comes under fire as supposedly being made up only of anti-slash writers.
In the South Park fan community, only occasionally do fanfics contain both het and slash ships, with focus often placed on one kind of ship over the other.
The Original Character subfandom, or non-canon subfandom, has a confusing history with alternating waves of popularity and decline. Although popular in the early years of the series, with writers often doing entire series of stories featuring their own original characters alongside the mains - sometimes superseding the spotlight and sometimes stepping out, much like the actual show - the genre declined considerably, particularly after Fanfiction.Net deleted all script-written stories.
After several years of decline, original characters began to reappear in fanfiction after the publication of a number of fics in early 2009 that asked reviewers to sign up their own original characters, creating competition for canon character romances, with Kenny, Kyle, Tweek and The Mole as the most popular choices. This subgenre gave way to more traditional original character series, but triggered a resurgence. DeviantArt has a plethora of original characters as well, and they often perform better in fan art-focused environments than fanfiction.
The release of the video game "South Park: The Stick of Truth" also created a new genre of Stick Fics, where the player's original character(s) took on the rule of the Dovahkiin character in the video game, generally following a variation on the game's plot with additional commentary on the situations depicted.
A common derogatory term for original characters is "Mary Sue" (there are only a few examples of male original characters.) due to the perceived "perfection" of such characters, though the term is often used as a slur for any original character. Criticism also claims the fan series are not based on the show due to original characters taking away the limelight. However, many note some stories of the genre stick close to the series formula. It is arguably the most variable subfandom.
These stories tend to focus on romance, humor, or both, but humor-focused original character stories tend to be more popular with readers than romance-focused ones.
Canon / GenEdit
The Canon or "Gen" subfandom is a group of fans who simply write/draw general or comedy-focused stories where the children are still in the fourth grade and attempt to stick to the show's formula as closely as possible. Although common in the early days of the fandom, often inter-mingling with all of the above ones, these days the stories are increasingly rare, and romantic plotlines and use of original characters are avoided.
There has been a recent resurgence on DeviantArt in canon-based art, due to the relative and comparative ease of reproducing South Park's construction paper style with Photoshop.
The slash subfandom has prime dominance in the fandom, although the original character subfandom has retained strength as of it's latest post-"Stick of Truth" resurgence. There is much tension between subfandoms, most particularly OC and slash - the OC subfandom is sometimes criticized by others due to a focus on a Non-canon character. The Slash fandom is often criticized due to its lack of canonicity. The Het fandom is still sometimes criticized for allegedly being made up primarily of anti-slash authors.