Time travel, Groundhog Day, serial dimension-hopping AUs... oh, so many!
Do-over stories, done well, make me particularly joyful. When characters die (or fall down some rabbit-hole) and get a chance to go back to some crucial point in life. The Peggy Sue trope.
My earliest encounter with it must have been that movie (Peggy Sue Got Married) or a Star Trek TNG episode called "Tapestry": Q sends Picard back to the age of 21 and gives him a chance to make a different choice. (And I've gone and re-watched that episode just now, for the first time in years. It still rocks.)
Do-over fics: I'm picky and fussy with them - backbutton out if I think they're screwing up the trope (or for the usual spelling/grammar reasons); on the other hand, if the trope's done well, I've been known to keep reading even if the pairing's H/G (here's looking at you, Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past by S'TarKan).
And what I mean by doing the trope well is wanting more than a simple wish-fulfillment fix-it story.
Foreknowledge shouldn't make everything easy. e.g. Harry gets sent back to 1991 and sorts out every problem in canon within six months. - Making different choices at crucial moments? This should create more problems than it solves, leading to interesting new twists. So the do-over character's foreknowledge becomes less accurate as the timeline changes.
The other annoying thing is when a do-over fic doesn't make enough changes and goes into too much detail. e.g. Harry gets sent back to 1991 and the story plods through all of PS/SS with only superficial differences.
So I've read lots of these fics - including the well-known Back Again, Harry? by Jedi Buttercup (WIP, gen, lovely) and Again and Again by Athey (WIP, LV/HP, needs beta). More in favorites on my FF.net profile.
Memorable do-over in BtVS/AtS: Pandora's Boxer by speakr2customrs (Spike/Buffy, Season 4, outstanding secondary pairing: Riley/Harmony).
Top do-over rec: this, for its great writing and characterization. It made me believe in Snape/Lily (only the second fic to do so, ever; and the first one was in 2001).
Come Once Again and Love Me by laventadorn
Severus wakes up in the afterlife expecting something rather different than being almost-seventeen again. Seriously, what kind of game is this? But wait - Lily's come back, too - from 1981? Perhaps it's a second chance... but to do what?
Rated: M - Drama/Angst - Chapters: 25 - Words: 188,760 - Reviews: 499 - Updated: Jan 27, 2012 - Published: Dec 25, 2011 - Severus S., Lily Evans P. - Complete
Crossposted from McTabby@DW.