FANGIRL UNLEASHED: My 5 Fave Fanfic Ships (and the one I just don’t get)

Fan written fiction – fanfic – is nothing new, but the internet has changed the way it’s created and distributed, allowing fan communities to flourish and interact. Technological advances now mean creating works of fanfic is no longer limited to those who can write or draw – it’s fairly easy these days to create a gif set or Photoshop a screengrab to illustrate your fanfic pairing (or OTP, as those in the know say, apparently – I’m such a noob I’m never entirely sure what it means . One true pairing? Partnership? Something like that, anyway.) It’s a thriving market (Amazon just announced it would be publishing fanfic, and of course 50 Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fanfic) and many creators have embraced it, praising fans’ enthusiasm and recognising that it’s actually an honour to have a fanbase so committed to your characters that they want to write their own stories about them.

But I’ve never been into it much myself. As a geek, there’s plenty of shows and characters I love, but I’ve just never been much of a ‘shipper’. I’m happy enough to invest in any relationship a show puts in front of me, but that’s generally been the extent of my enthusiasm. But since getting hooked on Tumblr – and I am ridiculously hooked on Tumblr – I have discovered whole fanbases who are passionate (sometimes obsessively so) about their OTP, and I’ve been impressed by the huge amount of creativity, humour and wit on display in these fandoms.  I can’t ever see myself being a hardcore shipper, but there’s plenty to enjoy for the casual fan, and I’ve surprised myself by how much I enjoyed finding out about this world. So here, for the curious, are my top 5 ships (and their common Tumblr tags where I know them, should you wish to explore) – and the one I really, really don’t get.

(Note, apologies for the fact that this is an entirely M/M post, which is less a result of any bias than that just happens to be what I have encountered – though I’ve noticed an interesting side effect of removing women from the romantic equation, in that tends not to erase them from the story, but empower them – for instance, Pepper Potts turns from being Tony Stark’s girlfriend to his super capable business manager, and ends up actually being more interesting. If you have any favourite M/F or F/F ships, let me know in the comments.)

Kirk/Spock – Star Trek

Generally considered the original slash fiction, this has been a popular fan fantasy for decades and rewatching old episodes it’s easy to see why, with the mix of Spock’s cool intellect and Kirk’s hot blooded emotion a classic case of opposites attract. The fandom has found new fuel in the reboot, no doubt assisted by the fact that Pine and Quinto have amazing chemistry on screen, are super easy on the eye, and they seem to get on like a house on fire whenever you see them being interviewed.  Certainly Star Trek Into Darkness was happy to ramp up the emotional connection between the two, so this one looks to run and run. (Looking to find some? Try the tag Space Husbands).


Cas/Dean – Supernatural

No show is quite so self-aware as Supernatural, frequently engaging with the fanfic obsession that grew around the two Winchester brothers (labelled Wincest – hardcore fans won’t let a little something like the fact that they’re siblings get in the way of steamy romance). But with the arrival of the angel Castiel, fans were gifted with a relationship that is both slightly less icky for those squeamish about incest, as well as being one many viewers would argue is genuinely canon, and with some justification. It’s hard to ignore the fact that Misha Collins’ angel and Jensen Ackles’ hunter have traded plenty of soulful looks and emotional moments, and share a self-proclaimed ‘profound bond’, though the writers remain coy about just what the nature of that bond is. But if you want an OTP that includes plenty of angst, this could be the one for you. (Wanna find it? Look for Destiel)

Iron Man/Captain America – The Avengers

After the Avengers movie came out there was a certain amount of ‘science bros’ shipping between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but a more common ship seems to be that of Tony and Steve Rodgers. In some ways it works perfectly because, like Spock and Kirk, the men complement one another well – the one reckless and occasionally thoughtless, the other a little uptight and old fashioned but decent and upstanding. Certainly in the comics there’s plenty to support this reading – all those ‘you make me a better man’ type speeches from Iron Man, and their complementary nature was highlighted in an AU where a female Natasha Stark (Iron Woman) and Steve got married. It’s not hard then to read the verbal sparring in the movie as sexually charged, and I must admit I hated Tony and Pepper’s relationship so much in the third Iron Man movie I would have preferred him to run off with Steve. (Tumblr tags: Stony, Super Husbands)


I can’t find a good pic of them together so let’s just pretend he’s on the phone to Clint, shall we?

Clint Barton/Agent Coulson, The Avengers

I have no idea where this comes from, and there seems little evidence that it’s even hinted at in canon (feel free to correct me), but I’m actually quite charmed by the idea, so I’m including it. It tends, generally, to exist in the same universe as the Stony story, so is often not the primary focus, but I’m always happy to see Agent Coulson so I like it. (Plus I do like the explanation that the ‘cello in Portland’ was actually an in joke, as cellists – yes! – use a bow…)



John / Sherlock,  Sherlock Holmes

In some ways one of the first ‘ships’ – people have been speculating, fantasising and joking about the pair’s relationship since way back, and there are plenty of published works out there where it’s made explicit that it’s a gay relationship. The BBC series Sherlock seems to have reignited this with a passion, no doubt in part because the actual show seems to spend so much time treating the pair like a married couple (while loudly protesting that they are not), assisted by the fact that Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch have such amazing chemistry. Interestingly, Elementary – which features, of course, a female Watson – doesn’t play with this very much at all. Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller are both great and work well together, but it’s a relationship entirely devoid of sexual chemistry (and actually more interesting for that).

And the one I just don’t get…

Hannibal Lecter/ Will Graham

I have mixed feelings about Hannibal as a show – it’s well acted and original and has an impressive cast, but it’s also gratuitously, graphically violent and plagued by characters doing stupid and/or unbelievable things just to further the plot, but it seems to have very quickly developed an obsessive fandom. I simply don’t get people who ship Hannibal – a psychopathic cannibal who is manipulating Graham’s fragile mental health for his own ends – and Will, the increasingly unravelling profiler. Hannibal is also happily allowing Will’s potentially fatal illness to advance so he can check out the symptoms. How, erm, romantic…

So, those are my favourites. Yours? Or do you think the whole phenomenon is nuts? Let me know in the comments. Incidentally if you feel there’s an OTP missing in your life do check out my book, Wolf Night, which features and eminently shippable pair…

S#!T Talking Central

  • Michael Moore

    I’m a big fan of Tumblr, but shipping pisses me off.

  • Tracey

    Really, Michael? Why? (That’s a genuine question, not a snarky one.) I was chatting to a friend recently and she was baffled (and slightly put off) by the whole Idea but while I’m not that into it myself, I think it’s actually quite charming to see fans so invested in a show/story that they spiral off into their own, generally well thought out, universes, and of course it also addresses, for those who feel marginalised, the lack of gay relationships in most canon. Since it doesn’t need to affect anyone else’s reading of the primary source material, I’m curious about why people dislike it. Obviously some people take it way too far and seem slightly bonkers about the whole thing, but I think that’s true of non-shippers too.

    • Michael Moore

      Well, I think it’s sometimes just a little weird for a guy to be into it. And most of the time all the women of Tumblr never realise that men exist on Tumblr, so seeing it bombarded all over my dash does get annoying.

      • Tracey

        Well, I’m afraid as a woman constantly bombarded with hyper sexualised images of women all over the internet all I can say is, to quote a Tumblr piece, ‘welcome to the background radiation of my life’. If you’re a woman into geeky stuff you are constantly seeing stuff that makes you go ‘woah’ about women, even on sites like this, so it’s interesting to hear the male perspective of that experience. (Which I don’t mean to sound at all attacking, I just think it’s so normalised it goes unnoticed but because it is unusual to have women so dominant on one platform, the difference on Tumblr is really evident). I do think that one of the drawbacks of Tumblr is it’s harder to filter out stuff so if you don’t want to be seeing pics of slash fic it can catch you off guard. I’m terrified to show my Tumblr dash to anyone because sometimes really quite extreme stuff comes up with no warning and I’m like, scroll fast!

        • Michael Moore

          Yeah, I get it. Tumblr and the internet in general can get very annoying.

          • tracey

            Oh, hell yeah. Some days it makes me want to hit my head hard off every available surface and retreat to the nearest cave. I think Tumblr is great but it can become ridiculously reactionary and people get insanely invested in stuff (I mean, seriously, ship wars? What are people on?) I also think that if people are posting NSFW images / text (straight or gay) they should label it appropriately. I don’t think it’s stuffy or bigoted not to want to see sexually explicit material on your dash.

  • MyFinest Hour

    Tracey, Tracey, Tracey! Where is Stuart and Vince??? The absolute OTP of Stuart and Vince? 😀 Gave Hannibal three episodes and gave it up; Supernatural one episode, dull; Sherlock contrived and badly acted (poor old Martin, just running around being Sherlock’s lapdog); the other two, I’ll concede those and Laclos and Cain, yes! (haha, or did you mean Laclos and Cass?) 😉

    Seriously the whole fanfic/fanart/shipping thing is deeply fascinating. There are so many talented artists and writers doing this stuff. It’s just a wonderful way of carrying the story forwards between seasons or when your favourite show is over forever, *sob*. And people make friends out of it too.

    But it can turn nasty. People delete their tumblrs cuz of hate messages if they ship an unpopular pairing. Ridiculous and sad as it’s all actually make-believe. I do also think people can be fickle, dumping their ‘OTP’ which they’ve raved and ‘cried’ over for a few months for the newest thing to come along (like Hannibal). I’m constantly amazed at fans who’ve declared deep love and ‘feels’ to someone and then suddenly it’s over and it’s on to the next OTP. Sad. x

    • Tracey

      Ah, since this is a fairly genre-related site Stuart/Vince don’t make the cut (you can argue both Sherlock and Hannibal genre). Plus, I’m not sure they’re strictly a fanfic couple are they – certainly the show ended open to the interpretation they are lovers.

      I do think there’s a huge amount of creativity out there and I think it’s a great way for people to express themselves, as well as test out their talent before going on to create new ideas. I must admit I am *baffled* by people who get into ‘ship wars’ and the like – seriously, people who get that upset need to get a life. It’s like all those people sending hate mail to Charlaine Harris because of how she ended the Sookie Stackhouse books.

      Re: Supernatural, I love that show and would say it started out slow and ended up fantastic. I love Sherlock, too, though I think it’s flawed. I’m deeply ambivalent about Hannibal and think I’ll give up.

      I’m totally happy for people to ship Laclos and Cain though ; )

  • MyFinest Hour

    Thanks for your reply. :) What does ‘genre related’ mean? Forgive me, I’m probably being daft. Also, what do you mean by not a fanfic couple? There’s tonnes of fanfic written about them and the show. I’m just interested in people’s opinions on the show, people’s perceptions of it. :)

    Re Supernatural, perhaps I didn’t give it a fair go, perhaps I should try it again … :) xx

    • Tracey

      Yes, I think I may have been slightly unclear in my premise – I meant fanfic in the sense that couple exists as a sexual relationship *only* outside the canon but is widely embraced in the fanfic world as a sexual / romantic relationship. I’m aware that certain canon relationships get a huge amount of fanfic, as S&V do – or, perhaps like Stuart and Vince (or, say, Mulder and Scully, being a genre example) fanfic exists that predates their canon relationship or was written so that they got together earlier than they did in the canon. But the focus of this article is on couples who are not (to this date) canon, but who are likeable/charming/believable couples in the fanfic world.

      In terms of genre, this site deals primarily with sci fi/ fantasy (and occasionally I squeeze in shows that have a slightly unrealistic bent – so it’s cheating slightly with Sherlock and Hannibal but you could argue they are slightly fantastical) so much as I love QAF (and I really do love that show and think it was groundbreaking) it wouldn’t qualify as it’s a straightforward, realistic drama so it doesn’t, unfortunately, fit into the remit. Unless I could squeeze in a reference to Vince’s love of Doctor Who… (and the RTD connection!) (If I write a piece about my favourite geeks, Vince is in there…!)

      I also would say give Supernatural another go. It develops enormously from its monster of the week roots to a really gripping show.

    • MyFinest Hour

      Thanks, I completely understand now, cuz Stuart and Vince are arguably a couple. Yep. Hahaha, though I think QaF’s ending (flying cars an’ all) was a bit too fantastical for some people but I get what you’re saying. That was Russell rolling his sleeves up for Doctor Who. 😀 x