Fanfiction has come a long way since its humble beginnings as creative re-workings of classic literature. Once seen as the shadow of “real” literature, the genre is responsible for some of the most innovative and groundbreaking works in modern storytelling and has since birthed several subgenres. One of the most interesting, and certainly one of the most controversial, is the Omegaverse.
The Omegaverse is a kink trope that has roots in popular culture’s fascination with hierarchies and its tendency to assign a hierarchical order to everything. In this case, the Omegaverse has created a sexual hierarchy that classifies characters into three distinct social roles: Alpha, Beta, and Omega.
But what do these titles mean, and where did they come from? Keep reading to have all your questions about the Omegaverse answered.
The History of the Omegaverse
The Omegaverse concept combines many standalone tropes, including male impregnation and different flavors of the werewolf trope, like knotting and heats/ruts. All of these tropes take place in an alternate universe from the original work. Although these elements can be traced back to earlier fanfictions, the Omegaverse was created in earnest through the Supernatural fandom. Supernatural is an American drama that follows two monster-hunting brothers, Sam and Dean, as they take on demons, vampires, and everything in between.
Not only do people ship the characters, but many pair the actors together as well. In 2010, a kink meme prompt centered around actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki resulted in several fanfictions that created the Omegaverse as we know it today.
Although the genre has since expanded into heterosexual ships, the Omegaverse trope is most often found in slash (same-sex) fiction, typically male/male ships. Like the original Supernatural fanfictions, many of these stories explore the complex power dynamics between the characters in a romantic and/or sexual context. Other fandoms that are popular within this trope include the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sherlock, Teen Wolf, and The 100.
The Structure of the Omegaverse
The Omegaverse society is loosely based on wolf-pack hierarchy. Most fanfiction revolves around three types of designations: alpha, beta, and omega. A character’s designation is seen as their secondary sex, influencing their personality, behaviors, and romantic partnerships. Some fanworks go and step further and include more genders, like the enigma or gamma, but our article will focus on the main three.
Alphas are at the top of the hierarchical structure, and they’re typically alpha males. They’re dominant, aggressive, and often possess traits such as charisma and strength. Alphas are seen as the “ultimate” sexual partner; they’re attractive and highly desirable. However, an alpha male can also be possessive of their partner and aggressive to outside “threats,” so if jealousy is a turn-off for you, the Omegaverse may not be your thing.
Betas occupy the middle ground of the Omegaverse hierarchy. They don’t quite have the same level of dominance or charisma as alphas, but they do possess qualities that make them attractive in their own way. They tend to be cool-headed and loyal, but they can also be independent when needed. Additionally, betas aren’t usually as sexually charged as alphas, so they tend to focus more on romance than sex.
In most universes, Betas tend to be the majority, even though they’re less likely to hold a position of power. They’re a neutral bridge between the extremes of alphas and omegas, and their large numbers make the less common alphas and omegas more interesting.
Finally, omegas exist at the bottom of the sexual tier system. Omegas are often seen as the perfect partner for an alpha due to their submissive nature, but they can also be attracted to betas. However, a common theme in the Omegaverse is that an alpha or omega cannot truly be sexually satisfied with a beta partner. That is why writers usually have their main pairing fit into an alpha/omega relationship.
In some universes, omegas are so rare that multiple alphas will clamor over them and challenge each other to be the omega’s mate. This adds another layer of complexity (and sometimes danger) to the story’s plot.
Although omegas are instinctually submissive sexually, this does not mean they are submissive generally. With that being said, omegas are still portrayed as meek, quiet, and people-pleasing in most Omegaverse fics. Although this is less of an issue in F/F or M/M fics, many readers take issue with the gender stereotyping of female omegas and alpha males in M/F fics. I’ll get more into that later.
Heat and Mating Cycles
Part of what drives young people to this extremely popular trope is the sex – after all, it is erotic fiction. However, it’s easy for new readers to get caught up in the jargon surrounding alpha/omega sexual dynamics. (I only gained my bearings in the Omegaverse after several lengthy Dramione fanfics). One of the most important concepts to understand is how heats and mating cycles work.
Causes of Heat
As I mentioned before, the Omegaverse was built on the foundation of werewolf fics, and that’s where mating cycles come in. Like wolves, female and male omegas go into heat. During a heat, an omega’s sexual instincts take over, and their fertility skyrockets. Characters generally track their heat cycles so they can prepare for them. However, the time between these cycles differs from fic to fic.
First and foremost, an omega’s heat is driven by hormones. These hormones are secreted through scent glands, which are located on the wrists and both sides of the neck. Some writers also include them between the thighs.
Every character has scent glands regardless of their designation, but omegas and alphas are more sensitive. They easily detect changes or increases in hormones due to their heightened sense of smell.
Because the instinct to bang is so overpowering, an unmated omega in heat cannot be in the presence of an alpha without throwing themselves at them. Alphas similarly have difficulty controlling themselves when they scent an omega’s heat. To prevent this monumental mental and physical disruption, some omegas will take suppressants to ease or completely prevent their heat. However, these suppressants can fail or lose efficiency over time.
Although characters can plan for most heats, many fics center around the chaos of breakthrough heats. Missed suppressants or an influx of alpha hormones can both send a poor omega spiraling into a heat – just in time for their alpha love interest to swoop in.
The Pre-Heat Period
During the weeks or days leading up to a heat, the omega’s body oozes hormones that draw alphas to them. This can be dangerous to an unmated omega because they are vulnerable to alphas that may take advantage of them. For example, an unscrupulous alpha could send an unwilling omega into a subspace (also called O-space), a mental state in which they can do nothing but respond to the needs of the alpha, all anxieties and outside thoughts fading away. Unmated omegas typically hide away during the pre-heat period in order to protect themselves.
Regardless of their mate status, omegas will often nest during the pre-heat period. A nesting omega will gather pillows, blankets, their clothes (and their alpha’s clothes) and arrange them into a pile, typically in an enclosed or safe space like a bed or closet. An omega’s nest comforts them through familiar textures and scents, and sometimes an omega will have sex with their alpha in the nest.
What Happens During Heat
Once the heat begins, the omega is so desperate for sex that their desires overrule everything else. Traditionally, an omega in heat only has a short window of time before their body gives in. Most omegas will seek out a suitable alpha to couple with during their heat, locking themselves away until the cycle subsides. In the Omegaverse, they’re often granted time off from work or school to finish their heat.
If the omega tries to self-pleasure or relies on a beta instead, they will not experience the euphoria or release that an alpha would give them. Even worse, if they try to power through without sex at all, they’ll spend the days or weeks of their heat in unbearable pain. Sometimes, this pain is even fatal (dramatic, but it does keep things interesting).
Most fics agree: an omega must be penetrated by an alpha’s penis to successfully complete the heat cycle. Their bodies will undergo self-lubrication to ease the process, producing secretions called slick.
An omega’s heat can send an alpha into a rut, spiking the alpha’s aggression, possessiveness, and sexual desire for the omega. Consequently, the alpha can become violent if their chosen omega is threatened.
It’s common for an omega to have multiple orgasms when having sex with an alpha, and the big finale (literally) comes when the alpha knots inside the omega. An alpha male’s (or alpha female’s) penis will swell at the base to form a knot that keeps them locked inside the omega. The alpha and omega will then orgasm simultaneously for several minutes, and they cannot move from each other until the knot subsides. Biologically, this is done to increase the odds of pregnancy.
You may be wondering how pregnancy works in a trope dominated by queer ships. Don’t you worry – the biology of the Omegaverse has it all worked out.
In M/M relationships, male omegas have the reproductive organs needed to carry a pregnancy, and they are impregnated anally. Omegaverse fics with this trope will be tagged Mpreg. In F/F relationships, female alphas have some variation of a penis. Sometimes she has an internal penis that only appears when aroused, while in others her clitoris changes to form a penetrating member that can impregnate her mate. As always, it’s up to the author’s discretion.
Alphas are the impregnators in most Omegaverse fics, but they can also be on the receiving end in the less popular alpha/alpha pairings. Part of what draws people to the Omegaverse is our fascination and love of breeding kinks. Although some characters take birth control to stave off pregnancy, many characters (and readers) get off on the idea of getting pregnant.
Finally, we come to the highlight of hundreds of Omegaverse works – mating. Mating (also called bonding or marking) is the ultimate romantic outcome of an alpha/omega pairing. To bond, an alpha bites through the omega’s mating gland on their neck, leaving a permanent mark. In some fics, the omega also gives their alpha a mating bite.
This claiming bite bonds the alpha and omega together sexually and romantically as mates. It is more significant than marriage, and in some fics can only be undone through death.
Mating usually occurs during sex, sometimes with consent from both alpha and omega, and sometimes in the heat of the moment. While bonding is one of the most-loved tropes of the Omegaverse, the lines of consent are often blurred.
Criticism of the Omegaverse Trope
No trope is without criticism, and the Omegaverse is no exception. As with most erotic fiction, some claim that Omegaverse fanfictions are too focused on sex and not enough on romance or character development. Others argue that it perpetuates unhealthy gender stereotypes, particularly in heterosexual pairings. More often than not, women are omegas and men are alphas, creating a dynamic in which the gender roles remain strictly divided and rigid.
Although M/F fics are the minority in this subgenre, the power imbalances between the alpha and omega are enough to turn off some readers from the Omegaverse. Others point to the lack of consent in some fanfictions as troubling, as it can normalize non-con/dubious consent and predatory behavior. In many Omegaverse fics, alphas are not punished for raping omegas because of their “biological instincts,” a narrative that pervades rape culture both in fiction and in reality.
Additionally, some readers and writers feel it promotes an idealized version of masculinity that is unrealistic and potentially harmful. Not only do alphas often engage in violence and hostility, but they’re praised for i.
Despite this, it’s important to note that consent is a key element of the Omegaverse trope. Characters must consent to any intimate activities and rituals, adding an extra layer of safety and respect to the fantasy. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not one wishes to engage with the Omegaverse genre lies with its readers and writers. For some, it’s an entertaining way to explore gender roles and sexuality while for others, it’s an affront to the progress made in terms of gender equality. Whichever camp you fall in, it’s important to approach the Omegaverse with open eyes and engage with respect for all involved.
Explore the Omegaverse!
The Omegaverse trope is a popular and fascinating subgenre of fanfiction that explores gender dynamics, sexuality, and relationships. Whether you’re a fan looking for an entertaining and escapist read or a critic looking to engage in meaningful dialogue, take the time to explore this complex and controversial trope. Who knows – maybe you’ll even find yourself writing your own Omegaverse stories!