Shipping fictional characters is one of the biggest ways fans can come together as a community. And if you’re an avid reader, what better way to do that than with fanfiction? People have been writing fanfiction for centuries, but it’s gotten way more popular lately on websites like Archive of our Own (AO3) or Fanfiction.net. AO3, the biggest website right now for fan-written stories, has a Ship Stats Project every year, and the results are always super interesting. This Pride Month, let’s take a look at the most recent stats and find out which queer book couples (canon or otherwise) made the top of the list.
10. Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield, The Hobbit
To start off the list, the 10th most popular queer book ship on Archive of our Own comes from a classic: Bilbo and Thorin from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. While The Hobbit was published all the way back in 1937, the Tolkien fandom has a long history of gay shipping (Sam and Frodo, anyone?) and the trilogy of films from 2012-2014 brought this pairing a new generation of shippers. Bilbo and Thorin are #74 on the list overall, with 10,518 stories.
9. Enjolras and Grantaire, Les Miserables
Next up, these characters have been inspiring shippers even longer: Enjolras and Grantaire from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This fiery revolutionary and his skeptical admirer are featured in the 1862 novel (affectionately called ‘The Brick’ by the fandom due to its almost 1,500 pages), as well as lots of movie adaptations and the 1987 popular musical. (Also, fun fact: Enjolras was based on Victor Hugo’s friend, Louise Michel, an activist who may have been transmasculine.) This pairing is ranked #64 on the site overall, with 11,292 stories.
8. Clarke Griffin and Lexa, The 100 Series
This one’s cheating a little–Clarke is a book character, but Lexa was created only for the TV adaptation of Kass Morgan’s series. However, they’re worth talking about, not only because they are the only sapphic couple on this list (and one of only four in the entire top 100), but because the Clexa fandom grew even bigger after (spoiler alert) Lexa was killed off abruptly, a prime example of the “Bury Your Gays” trope. Since then, their fans have worked hard to keep their fandom alive with fanfiction, fan art, and even a convention that celebrates sapphic fan pairings. Clexa is #58 on the list, with 12,449 stories.
7. Geralt of Rivia and Dandelion/Jaskier, The Witcher Series
The Witcher fandom has exploded since the release of the TV series in 2019, but the first book by Andrzej Sapkowski was published in 1986. Since then, five more books have come out, along with 15 short stories, 3 video games, a tabletop game, and 2 seasons of the Netflix show with more to come. Geralt and Yennefer, his love interest in canon, will always be the OTP of many Witcher fans, but more recently fans of the pairing with the lovable bard Dandelion (Jaskier in the TV show) have been making their voices heard. The subtext is certainly there, especially in the show, which some have started to accuse of queerbaiting. Geraskier is #44 on the list, with 13,915 stories.
6. Eddie Kaspbrak and Richie Tozier, IT
While The Witcher has some horror elements, it’s nothing compared to this next pairing’s setting, from the book that ruined clowns forever: Eddie and Richie from Stephen King’s IT. These two have known each other their entire lives, and certainly go through a lot together, although Richie’s struggle with his sexuality means he never confesses his feelings. The fandom has certainly tried to fix that, however, with 14,105 stories devoted to the couple on AO3. Eddie and Richie are #42 on the list.
5. Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, Harry Potter Series
Oh, Wolfstar. Shippers of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black have been around for as long as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where they were introduced, has been out (almost 23 years now). While the Marauders duo never get their time to shine in canon, fanfiction has always been around for their fans to read and enjoy, and they have appeared on every Ship Stats Project top 100 list since its start in 2013. Sirius and Remus are #17 on the list, with 24,891 stories.
4. Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, The Mortal Instruments Series
#4, arguably the only canon ship on this list, is Magnus and Alec from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and Shadowhunters TV show. This romance between warlock Magnus and mortal Shadowhunter Alec isn’t the main romance in Mortal Instruments, but it’s certainly the most popular, as #12 on the overall top 100. The Mortal Instruments books themselves were based on Harry Potter fanfiction, so it’s not surprising that this ship worked well in fanfiction too–28,086 fanfictions, to be exact.
3. Aziraphale and Crowley, Good Omens
Aziraphale and Crowley have had a following ever since Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett came out in 1990. However, the angel and demon couple’s popularity skyrocketed after the 2019 TV adaptation. What makes this pairing unique is that the story was changed to include much more of them and their relationship, after seeing the fandom’s response over the years. So, in this case, fanfiction gave fans more to write fanfiction about. Aziraphale and Crowley are #7 on the list, with 36,546 stories.
2. Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, Harry Potter series
The most popular queer Harry Potter ship, Drarry has a special place in a lot of shippers’ hearts. Draco and Harry have been around since the beginning of the Harry Potter fandom, and only gained popularity as the movies came out. This ship popularized the famous “enemies to lovers” trope, and gives Draco a redemption arc while carving out representation in a story that has almost no confirmed queer characters. Drarry is #5 on the list, with 49,245 stories.
1. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, Sherlock/Sherlock Holmes Series
While the popular ship between Sherlock and Watson is thanks to the 2010 TV show and early 2010s Tumblr culture, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are essentially book characters. In fact, the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle created one of the first fandoms, which wrote some of the first ever fanfiction around 1897-1903. It caused such an outcry when the author killed Holmes off that he was forced to resurrect him. And there have always been several relationships that Sherlock Holmes readers have supported, including Holmes and Watson. So, really, Johnlock isn’t anything new, and its well-established place as one of the biggest fanfiction pairings on the Internet isn’t surprising. Sherlock and John are #2 on the list overall, with 64,408 stories.
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