On Fandom Flames, we have spoken about ships and shipping before. Shipping, the act of putting two characters together romantically and/or sexually, whether they’re ever going to be canon or not, has been around for a while. The most familiar origin story is the tale of Kirk/Spock in the 60s/70s and beyond, with all the zines and fanfiction and fanart and even conventions. An Archive of Our Own (AO3) user has assembled a list of the most tagged ships on AO3, a fanfiction archive used by a wide base of users. The list categorizes each ship by type (Male/Male, Female/Female, the ever-rare Gen) and race — fandom, for all that it is progressing, is still a space dominated by white character pairings.
Indeed, this statistical survey of the top 100 ships on AO3 found that only 14.8% of the pairings featured characters of color. Additionally, on the female representation side, there were only 3 F/F pairings and 15 F/M pairings, making the majority of the pairings M/M. There were only 22 female characters named on the list. Now, admittedly, if you were to go through all of AO3, where hundreds of thousands of fics are posted every year — and that’s a conservative estimate — and you were to run a survey on the entire site, the results would be much more diverse.
Some of the ships included in the top 100 are baffling, with no offense intended to those who ship them, but Voldemort/Harry Potter? Really? That ship landed at 84 on the list. The top three are from the following shows: The Untamed, a Chinese fantasy mystery series; Good Omens, based on the Neil Gaiman book; and The Witcher, based on a series of novels and the video games of the same name. All three ships are M/M, with new works this past year numbering around ten thousand for each of them. Good Omen‘s Aziraphale/Crowley, which was popular even before the show came out, is somehow still accruing a lot of fics, while The Witcher’s Geralt/Jaskier ship will only get buzzier as the show gains momentum. The Untamed ship is the two main characters, and I’ve seen them compared to Sherlock/John on Tumblr: Lan Zhan/Wei Ying. Those two are actually involved in a relationship in the original novel; whether they will be on the show is likely up to Chinese censors.
The eternally infamous Reylo is fourth (!) on the list — apparently, the disappointment of Rise of Skywalker only lasts so long and goes so far. Harry Potter appears again at number five with Draco Malfoy, perhaps proving that enemies-to-lovers is still one of the most popular shipping types. Castiel/Dean Winchester from Supernatural is still riding the wave of the last couple of episodes, despite the queerbaiting, landing at number eight.
None of my major ships appeared on the list (probably a good thing) although Schitt’s Creek’s Patrick Brewer/David Rose appearing on the list is kind of sweet to see for such a tiny Canadian show — of course, with award nominations galore and weeks on Netflix’s top 10, maybe it’s not so tiny anymore. Next year will likely bring more of the same — some things in fandom, like the power of certain lasting ships, never change.