Another year in fandom has come and gone, leaving in its wake a changed shipping landscape. Newly prominent ships with literary roots—Aziraphale/Crowley from Good Omens, and Richie Tozier/Eddie Kaspbrak from It—ended up having a huge following after popular adaptations hit the screen.
Meanwhile, some old favorites like Destiel and Stucky saw their stars dim in popularity, but true love never dies from the top 20 rankings. Also big in the relationship fan-o-sphere? Animated shows, K-pop, and ladies in love! Most exciting of all, some of the pairings here are actually canonical, which was not the case in ye olde fandom days of yore. Progress, my friends.
In their annual year in review, Tumblr ranks the 100 biggest ships of the year on the platform, but for ease of use let’s look at the top 20. My illuminating commentary follows.
1. Ineffable Husbands
Aziraphale & Crowley, Good Omens
Good Omens took many trophies in Tumblr’s review, including Ship of the Year for Aziraphale/Crowley. “Good Omens has dominated across the board, resulting in #1 rankings on multiple lists,” Tumblr writes. A host of factors—the slow-burn love story we see unfold onscreen, with Crowley and Aziraphale ultimately choosing each other over their respective “home offices,” the popular main actors David Tennant and fandom boyfriend Michael Sheen, supportive co-creator Neil Gaiman, and celestial beings existing outside of gender and sexuality binaries—all combined to launch this ship into the stratosphere. I’m still stuck in angel/demon limbo and I may never make it back out. Pls send champagne.
2. Klance −1
Keith & Lance, Voltron: Legendary Defender
These are folks from the animated show with the mechanical lions fighting in space. One has a blue lion* and one has a red lion and neither of them are the super-hot guy in charge with the black lion.
*Later-season context from a Voltron friend: “The red lion guy gets the black lion. Blue guy gets red, and the princess takes the blue when she joins the team. Former black lion guy remains super hot and becomes more of the team dad directing battles from the ground.”
So many colorful lions!!!
Juliana Valdés & Valentina Carvajal, Amar a muerte
I’ve never watched the Spanish-language series Amar a muerte (“Love to Death”) but now that I’ve read a summary of it I might have to?
The series is a complex story of destinies that intersect when a media mogul is assassinated on his wedding day, at the same time that an assassin in San Antonio, Texas is executed by electric chair. The tycoon’s soul is reincarnated in the body of the hitman and, in turn, the killer’s soul ends up in the body of a professor of anthropology. Now, each man will not only have to deal with a new body, but also adapt to a new soul.
It’s wonderfully exciting to see a wlw ship so high up in the rankings (and wildly popular worldwide), and quadruply so one that is actually canon.
4. Reddie +25
Richie Tozier & Eddie Kaspbrak, It
Our own It correspondent Kate Gardner prepared me for the ascent of Reddie early on, but even I was surprised by the explosive growth of this ship post-It Chapter 2, which finally unseated Ineffable Husbands in Tumblr popularity rankings this summer. The victims of murderous sewer clowns need love, maybe more than most? If the carving on the kissing bridge fits …
5. Jikook −1
Park Jimin & Jeon Jungkook, BTS
These are real-life actual people who can sing, dance, and are more famous than I can possibly begin to comprehend. I will not pretend like I have a foothold into the wide, wild world of K-pop and its supergroup BTS, so instead I direct you to recent well-done journalism in this area.
6. Phan −3
Daniel Howell & Phil Lester, YouTubers
These are two young gentlemen on the YouTube, not to be confused with ardent Phantom of the Opera fans.
7. Reylo −5
Rey & Kylo Ren, the Star Wars universe
Shame if they actually turn out to be related or when Rey kills Kylo dead. Waffle House will be inconsolable.
8. Malec +1
Magnus Bane & Alec Lightwood, Shadowhunters
Magnus and Alec from the now-canceled TV show seem cute from the gifs I’ve seen, and we love a canonical queer relationship, but I am morally obligated to move on from anything associated with Cassandra Clare.
9. Bellarke −2
Bellamy Blake & Clarke Griffin, The 100
This is a CW drama that is still on television and I have seen the brown-haired man and the blonde woman who once had a cool girlfriend I think make faces at each other in gifsets on Tumblr for many years. Are they in love or not?? Are there still 100 or is that number significantly reduced by now? So many questions.
10. Tyrus +34
TJ & Cyrus, Andi Mack
These kids are like 13 and this is a Disney Channel show and that’s what I know. I am entirely too old to be googling “who is andi mack.” However A+++ to Cyrus being a gay main character on a Disney Channel show—he was the first of his kind. And the ship appears to now be canonical also? “Tyrus” is adorable and shows how much representation is important at every age. I wish this had been around when I was in middle school.
Gendry & Arya Stark, Game of Thrones
C’mon, you know you were rooting for them.
Catra & Adora, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
We turn now to our official She-Ra correspondent Princess Weekes, who explains:
For four seasons we have watched these best friends (aka girlfriends) turn enemies, while dealing with their own emotional struggles. Even thought she needs THERAPY we can’t help but feel happy every time Catra says “Hey Adora.” Catra and Adora is the angsty, good vs. evil queer love story gay girls deserve and it’s actually (mostly) canon!
13. Supercorp −1
Kara Danvers & Lena Luthor, Supergirl
One of the more popular “femslash” pairings for years, these ladies’ dynamic seems like good emotionally fraught fun. I love the hero and their morally ambiguous best friend/frenemy/villain/antihero/lover possibilities so I should probably watch Supergirl. This one is not canon and is unlikely to ever be, much to many fans’ dismay.
14. Kiribaku −8
Kirishima Eijirou & Bakugou Katsuki, Boku No Hero Academia
These are two fellows from a very popular anime about superpowered people. One of them has blond hair and the other, red, and wow, what hairstyles they have.
15. Bumbleby +52
Yang Xiao Long & Blake Belladonna, RWBY
RWBY is a Rooster Teeth show, and the ship concerns two animated ladies this time! The fabulously named Blake Belladonna has black cat ears according to fandom.com so we are rooting for her.
16. Stucky −6
Steve Rogers & Bucky Barnes, the Marvel universe
After all this time? Yep, Stucky is still going strong, despite the attempts made by Avengers: Endgame to canonically separate them for good. Hahaha these two survived Steve’s seventy years under the ice alongside Bucky’s murderous brainwashing and then being war criminals and Bucky’s time as a friend of goats in Wakanda and then the Snap so like you do you, Russo Bros. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in terms of Bucky’s canon and fanon (that’s “fan canon”) love life with the advent of Falcon & The Winter Soldier.
17. Jonsa +44
Jon Snow & Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones
If one must have another GoT incestuous ship this at least seems more cuddly than the canonical Jaime/Cersei, or Jon/Daenerys for that matter.
18. Bakudeku −2
Bakugou Katsuki & Midoriya Izuku, Boku No Hero Academia
The changeable Bakugou Katsuki appears to have forgotten all about Kirishima Eijirou and now he’s into a whole thing with Midoriya Izuku? Oh no but they are fighting??
19. Stony +5
Steve Rogers & Tony Stark, the Marvel universe
I just underwent a disorienting time-travel blip back to 2012. We were having movie night at the Avengers tower. Steve Rogers was badly mischaracterized. There was popcorn.
20. Destiel −9
Dean Winchester & Castiel, Supernatural
The old Supernatural workhorse that launched 83,593 fics (that number will have gone up by the time you read this) has fallen in the rankings this year. Still it clings to the top twenty like Cas gripping Dean’s hand tightly as he raised him out of perdition.
(Listen I have seen precisely three episodes of Supernatural in my life but these two are so big on Tumblr I could tell you everything about them and also Dean’s car and also Sam and also Jeffrey Dean Morgan.)
For those of us keeping count at home, of the twenty most popular 2019 ships on Tumblr, fourteen are same-sex pairings (and one celestial beings pairing), with four of those couples women loving women (we love to see it).
Did any of these ships surprise you? Do any of them have you in their grips? Let’s talk pining looks and gaze into each others’ eyes meaningfully in the comments.
(via Tumblr, image: Amazon Prime Studios)
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