Slang dictionary

Rule 63

What does Rule 63 mean?

Rule 63, one of the self-styled rules of internet, declares: For every fictional character, there exists a gender-swapped counterpart of that character.

Where does Rule 63 come from?

Examples of Rule 63

“I'll start with a 'Rule 63' cast of Nolan's Batman: Abbie Cornish as Brenda Wayne / Batwoman”
axelbratoski Superherohype (November 11, 2011)
“According to Rule 63, there will be a female version of every male character that exists (and vice versa) knocking around somewhere in the darkest corners of the Internet, whether as part of official canon or depicted in a piece fan art or fiction.”
Joanne Weselby, “Rule 63: 15 of the Best (and Worst) Comic Book Genderbends,” Comic Book Resources (November 11, 2016)
“Perhaps that’s why our first impulse, looking at the Ghostbusters reboot, is to look at how true it remains to the original. We’re used to seeing this kind of thing unofficially. The fact that a genderswap has been recognized by Hollywood is simply the fruition of our homegrown Rule 63.”
Lauren Orsini, “How Female Ghostbusters Prove Internet Rule 63: There's An Alternate Gender Version Of Everyone,” Forbes (July 10, 2015)
SEE MORE EXAMPLES

Who uses Rule 63?

One of the most common places where Rule 63 occurs is at comic book conventions, where cosplayers do not let their own gender identity or presentation stop them from dressing up as their favorite characters. For example, men frequently dress up as Wonder Woman or women as the Joker.

The motivations for creating a gender-swapped counterpart vary. Sometimes Rule 63 is invoked humorously or playfully. Other times, it is done to make a social or political point, casting women as traditionally male characters to call out heavily male-dominated nature of many popular franchises. By recreating a male character as a woman, the creators may want to prove that female characters are just as viable as male ones. Rule 63 can also be evoked more generally as a statement about the fluidity of gender identity.

Alternatively, when creators are remaking a familiar character from the ground up, gender-swapping a lead character can produce new storyline possibilities not possible with the original gender. For example, when Battlestar Galactica rebooted in 2004, the character of Starbuck went from a tough, cocky, cigar-smoking alpha male to being a tough, cocky, cigar-smoking alpha female played by Katee Sackhoff. This version of Starbuck would go on to become one of the show’s most popular characters.

Rule 63 is often used as a shorthand to refer to gender-swapped characters. For instance, a Rule 63 Green Lantern or Rule 63 Batman render the originally male characters as women.

Just Added

Stacy, grammar nazi, Shine Theory, What's your 20?, YouTube loop

Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of Rule 63 like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Rule 63 that will help our users expand their word mastery.