Shipping – fanlore electricity vocabulary


Shipping in fandom is the act of supporting or wishing for a particular romantic relation ship — that is, a het (different-sex), slash (male/male), femslash (female/female), or poly (three or more partners) ship — by discussing it, writing meta about it, or creating other types of fanworks exploring it. Fans who have and promote favorite ships are called shippers. They might assert that the relationship does exist or will exist in canon, that they would like it to exist, or simply that they enjoy imagining it. Shippers who support multiple ships within a single canon are often referred to as multishippers, especially if they support those ships equally.

Some shippers support relationships that are portrayed or acknowledged as established in canon, some shippers like relationships that exist only as subtext (whether intentional or accidental — itself a topic of debate), and some prefer relationships where the characters have no subtext discernible to non-shippers. Some fans ship characters who never even appear in canon together! It is important to note that some percentage of fans actively do not want their ship to become canon, especially wrongshippers and fans who don’t trust the show’s writers and producers to "do it right". Shippers have been known to regret it when their wish came true.

(And if I may digress slightly–I have also read 3 ‘shipper stories recently (by RivkaT) that were so good I’ve been pushing them on people who swear they *never* read het or gen. They’re just wonderful; dark, intense (and [K.]– no s/m!) gripping and amazing.) [8] Lois and Clark

From May 1996: "To explain it is to diminish the mystery. Which is why I’m not a fan of straight-forward relationshipping: it is to denegrate [sic] the purity of Mulder and Scully’s partnership to reduce it to simple giggly handholding." [9] [10] The Verb

A 2000 comment: "And as to Ron/Harry shippers — let’em ship. I know that JKR would never screw up a perfectly lovely series like HP because she wanted to make the main characters boyfriends. That would instantly make me set down the book and run screaming." [11]

Another early use of "to ship" was 2001 and in regards to a m/f pairing is from a message on a Harry Potter mailing list regarding a chapter of Cassandra Claire’s story Draco Veritas: "…if Hermione isn’t with Harry in this story, I at least want her with Draco. It’s not like I’m not a Hermione/Ron shipper. I ship Hermione with almost anyone. It’s just that I don’t think for this story that it makes sense." [12]

In the past, "shippers" was sometimes used to refer exclusively to fans of heterosexual pairings, as opposed to " slashers" who wanted two male characters to get together. For example, see Slashing versus ‘Shipping, or Why it’s Easier to be a Slasher, a 2004 meta essay by T’Mar. Today, it now also means fans of slash pairings.

Because of their homophones, the terms are often accompanied or embellished by nautical or maritime imagery (for example, if canon makes a particular pairing unlikely or difficult to write, shippers may say it has "sunk their ship.") When the song "White Flag" by Dido came out, one of its lyrics, "I will go down with this ship," became a motto for passionate shipping, appearing on many, many Livejournal icons, banner graphics and other website and blog decorations. A factor in the rapid adoption of this quote by fandom may have been the use of David Boreanaz ( Angel) as Dido’s stalker / love interest in the music video, [17] at a time when the Spuffy v Bangel ship war was still arousing passions in Buffy fandom.

Shippers of a particular pairing may make up names to describe themselves, such as the Rocketshippers of Pokémon fandom. Sometimes shipper names denote a specific subgroup of fans of that pairing, such as the Harmonians in Harry Potter or Larries in One Direction.

Nicknames for the ships themselves are ubiquitous and usually follow specific naming conventions. In the 2010s, portmanteaus or smooshnames (e.g. " Johnlock" or " Destiel") are particularly common. A single relationship may have multiple names. See Pairing Name for more detail.