The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Western culture and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (February 2017)
In art, the equivalent of self-insertion is the inserted self-portrait, where the artist includes a self-portrait in a painting of a narrative subject. This has been a common artistic device since at least the European Renaissance.
This literary device should not be confused with a first-person narrator, an author surrogate,[clarification needed] or a character somewhat based on the author, whether the author included it intentionally or not. Many characters have been described as unintentional self-insertions, implying that their author is unconsciously using them as an author surrogate.
In newer forms of fiction, it may be the audience rather than the author who are intended to insert themselves into the fiction. In video games, there are normally player characters (who are sometimes customizable) to serve this purpose, but there are also games with "self-insert characters" who are portrayed especially blandly or as "silent protagonists" to allow players to better identify with them. In fan fiction, "self-insert", "X-insert" or "reader-insert" fiction has the reader appear as a character in the story; their name is substituted with "you" or "y/n" ("your name").
- The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham.
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
- The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
- Stan Lee in different Marvel comic books and movies
- Clive Cussler, author of Dirk Pitt novels, has inserted himself as a deus ex machina character in several of his books.
- Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, in the chapter "How Pantagruel with his tongue covered a whole army, and what the author saw in his mouth"
- Milton: A Poem in Two Books by William Blake
- The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
- Randolph Carter in H.P. Lovecraft tales
- The title character of the Rush Revere series by Rush Limbaugh
- Bella Swan in the Twilight novel series by Stephenie Meyer
- Rayford Steele and Buck Williams in the Left Behind novel series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
- The title character of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
- Homestuck by Andrew Hussie
- JPod by Douglas Coupland
- The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah by Stephen King
- Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem
- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
- The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq
- Frank Owen in The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
- Calvin's father in Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
- Robert Langdon in the Robert Langdon book series by Dan Brown
- John Barth in the Dunyazadiad segment of John Barth's novel Chimera.
- Goetz, Sharon K. (1 April 2010). Terminus: Collected Papers on Harry Potter, 7-11 August 2008. Lulu.com. pp. 516–. ISBN 9780982680704. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- Clarke, Mary (23 September 2021). "Deltarune Chapter 2's chilling alternate route has changed how I think about playing video games". For The Win / USA Today. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
- He, Tianxiang (2017). Copyright and fan productivity in China : a cross-jurisdictional perspective. Singapore: Springer. p. 79. ISBN 978-981-10-6508-8. OCLC 1006587497.
- "The A to Z of fan fiction". Inquirer Lifestyle. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
- Mason, Fran (2009). The A to Z of Postmodernist Literature and Theater. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 338–. ISBN 9780810868557. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- The Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- "Dirk Pitt Revealed | An Official Web Site for Bestselling Adventure Novelist | Author Clive Cussler".
- Bill Watterson. The complete Calvin and Hobbes Book One Introduction.