Ships. Love them or hate them, they tend to cause a reaction, good or bad, among the fans that follow the shows they belong to.
While some characters get the privilege of riding off into the sunset with their loved ones, that is not always the case. When a ship doesn’t go the way it’s expected to, when it diverges from the original source material, or when something out of their creator’s control happens, fans are left with disappointment, or sometimes rage, that doesn’t so easily go away.
Fans put their trust in the writers and creators when they invest their time into their show, and often times they can be let down. After all, not every single fan can always get what they want. But what happens when the masses are let down due to a character leaving, a lack of commitment to a couple, or just bad chemistry? Fandoms tend to cause this upset and disappointment to echo throughout social media, sometimes making a spectacle of their investment that they deem now to be a waste. The failure and disappointment cannot be ignored due to the nature of fandoms today, making these failed ships known not because of their positive qualities, but because of the ways they let down fans.
Here are nine ships that cannot be ignored due to the ways they failed fans.
1. Clexa & Sanvers (‘The 100,’ ‘Supergirl’)
To start off I want to highlight two ships featuring women, who were wronged in the tragic ends of their relationships. Both ships had huge fanbases, and both of those fanbases were sourly let down when these relationships came to their demise.
It can be argued that Clexa is what started a huge movement seen in fandom across platforms aiming to end the trope of killing lesbians, also known as Bury Your Gays, and rightly so. Clexa had an amazing and interactive fanbase. They helped The 100 garner attention and acclaim for their relationship between the protagonist, a bisexual, Clarke Griffin, and what began as an antagonist, Lexa, Commander of the grounders. A great utilization of true enemies to lovers, this relationship developed from enemies, to partners, to allies, to lovers.
Unfortunately, the actress who played Lexa had to leave the show due to time constraints with another show. All of this would be fine, hadn’t Lexa and Clarke consummated their relationship mere moments before the Commander was hit by a stray bullet meant for her lover.
The death of Lexa was inappropriate and plays into the trope of killing a woman for mere pain — and killing a lesbian woman at that. This death started a social media movement, which is still in its prime to this day. The fandom was truly hurt, as currently they are still active on Twitter and Tumblr, seeking justice and appropriations for the death of a character they had not yet seen on television until The 100 brought her into the fold in season 2. Clexa’s end, The 100, and Lexa, herself, impacted fans in a way not seen before, and due to her tone deaf death, instilled a pain at a severity rarely seen in fandom.
Supergirl’s Sanvers ended in a similar fashion. When Alex, Kara Danvers/Supergirl’s sister, came out, fans rejoiced and praised her coming out story. That praise was only extended when she eventually found love with a detective, who helped her navigate her first relationship. The relationship came to an end the next season when Maggie actress Florina Lima decided to leave the show. While the show handled her exit the best they could, extensive damage was done by the way the show promoted the relationship. It was seen to be something they were extremely invested in, and something they had wanted to have be an endgame on the show. Furthermore, the cast did not interact well with the fans of the Sanvers ship, further hurting fans and making them feel like their concerns and grief did not matter. It goes to show that actors and producers shouldn’t make promises they don’t intend to keep. They should respect all ships, canon or not, in a production.
2. Klaine (‘Glee’)
We all remember Klaine. A young gay romance spurred on by the death of a bird. (Really, what even was Glee?) It was a beacon of hope for young gay people, and it was one of the first prolific gay ships on a television show that wasn’t exclusively about LGBT people. Some of the moments between them were iconic. Blaine’s speech and their first kiss from the moment where Blaine upended his entire life to move schools to be with his boyfriend.
Things went south when Kurt moved to New York. They became distant and Blaine ended up having a one-night stand. For every person who loved these two together, it was an insult. Many thought it was out of character. How could Blaine cheat on him when he showed so much devotion? Even when he serenaded him with an acoustic version of Teenage Dream, sung beautifully by Darren Criss, it just felt wrong. It was a kick in the face to the fans of the young couple, and even though they got their happy ending, a season with them apart just didn’t feel right. This is a prime example of putting plot and drama before characterization, and it shows. The sweet lovers became not so sweet just for the sake of drama and giving Kurt a temporary love interest in New York City. The cheating storyline, which is so overused, failed the fans of the ship that inspired so many to accept themselves. It was one of the first normalized LGBT ships on a primetime network show.
3. Bughead (‘Riverdale’)
There isn’t so much wrong with Bughead (Betty & Jughead) itself, but the reason this ship fails its viewers is because of the representation that this ship’s existence takes away. Riverdale is adapted from the Archie comics, and originally in the comics Jughead is an asexual character. In the comics he has no interest in women (or men) and much prefers food to any romantic relationship. This is rare representation to see in media, and the only instance I’ve seen another asexual character is in the case of Todd of BoJack Horseman.
Taking away this representation from the few who get to see it is a major mistake, one that no ship can make up for. As it took so long to normalize the LGB of the LGBT spectrum, there is no reason to not adhere to original characterizations of people with other identities such as trans, asexual, and demisexual. While the ship itself is not offensive or harmful to the majority of fans, the few that it does neglect and erase are just as important and deserve the same respect that we give to other minorities.
4. Manstead (‘Chicago Med’)
Sometimes two characters can be good, but when they’re together, it’s just bad. This is the case for Chicago Med’s Natalie and Will. Both characters are good characters. Natalie is caring and passionate, and Will is the same, but when you put their methods together, all they seem to do is clash. From the beginning, it was obvious their wedding was going to be a disaster, and frankly, it’s strange that they’re continuing with this relationship past that.
Fans love these characters, but it’s hard to watch the show push two people together that are both on the same side of the magnetic spectrum. And that’s not to mention the way Will has been a little entranced with Natalie, even when she was grieving. And she took an entire week to answer his wedding proposal. All of these are bad signs. The audience doesn’t need to see the writers continue to push something that just doesn’t work. Unless this relationship is doomed and it’s just in the process of getting there. Now that the two are broken up, are they going to stay that way? Or will they realize their mistakes and come together stronger? In either case, I hope they both grow from their obvious mistakes and it just wasn’t seasons worth of wasted time for Will and Natalie fans.
5. Stydia (‘Teen Wolf’)
Teen Wolf was all about ships. From the ones that never became canon such as Sterek to the staple Teen Wolf ships, fans loved putting these characters together. One of the biggest fanbases, the people who loved Stiles and Lydia together, kinda got what they wanted, but they were strung along until they got together at what seemed like the last possible second. The ship began at the beginning of the show, and slowly progressed until they finally kissed in the third season. But after that … nothing. Nada. Fans were thrilled, but also hoped for more, and would only become more disappointed when both characters found other love interests to hold them over until the last season.
Stiles and Lydia always had a connection, but it wasn’t until the mid-season finale of the final season that they would kiss again, and this time in the terms of a real relationship. Fans felt, and rightly so, that they got the short end of the stick. Even though their content was severely limited, partly due to Dylan O’Brien being seriously injured, these two deserved a better developed story, one that didn’t take breaks for seasons and seemingly through them together at the end in order to please fans. If Stydia was going to be a slow burn ship, they owed it to the fans to provide the two with reasonable pacing. If they had, season six wouldn’t have been the problem it was, and maybe it would have been a ship for the books. Instead, it’s known as an amazing connection that should have gotten better, that left fans wanting more, and not in a good way.
6. Cisco Ramon (‘The Flash’)
Sometimes, a single relationship isn’t what fails fans, it’s a string of failed ones. In the case of fan-favorite Cisco Ramon this is clearly the case. Cisco is loved by fans for his wit, his personality, his sarcasm, and of course his amazing super-villain names, but he’s fallen into the sidekick trope. When in conflict, he tends to be put on the side that people would consider wrong, and unless he’s elevating the hero of the story, his own plot lines are given little attention to. Aside from the fact that this season on The Flash he is largely MIA, over the course of the series he keeps getting hurt by break-ups, for one reason or another. But Cisco is a hero in his own right. He has superpowers, and could probably be a successful vigilante on his own due to his intelligence, engineering skills, and superpowers.
The audience knows every relationship doesn’t work out, but at least care was given to midgame relationships for Barry such as Barry x Patty. But Cisco’s is purely comic relief. Something to add a little fun. Which is nice and all, but fans deserve to see not just Barry succeed, but his friends and family too. From Hawkgirl to Lisa Snart to Cynthia, nothing is given the time it deserves, and only serves to make Cisco display a certain type of behavior, not because the relationship or break-up always makes sense. It doesn’t leave much hope for his future relationships, including his current fling with Kamilla. I do have to give it to him though, at least his partners don’t all end up dead like Caitlin’s. Lose some, win some.
7. Japril (‘Grey’s Anatony’)
Japril were like magnets. An ultimate friends to lovers ship, they remained in constant orbit of each other, and while they separated, they always came back to each other, through Jackson’s familial issues to the loss of their first child and creation of their second. She even lost her virginity to Jackson. While they had their issues and seemed to be going downhill, the show seemed to always instill this hope that they could resolve their issues and truly reunite. And even though it was one of the most iconic ships of Grey’s Anatomy, sadly it came to an end when Sarah Drew was removed from the show. That did fans dirty in the first place, but it seemed cheap to just stick her back with Matthew out of the blue, the man she originally left in order to be with Jackson. It’s a weird roundabout, and it cheapens the relationship she had with Jackson. The fans deserved to see the two come back together, or at least for April not to return to her original lover. Because why didn’t she just stay with him in the first place? It renders the relationship almost meaningless, save for their child, and Japril is anything but meaningless to the fans that fell in love with them and their burning chemistry.
8. Bellarke (‘The 100’)
The 100 decided to double dip, and played fans not only with Clexa, but with their other most popular ship, Bellarke. While Bellarke isn’t canon, it has a huge and passionate fandom to boast, as well as five (some could argue four) seasons of development. They’re the classic example of enemies to friends to lovers …. if the show would ever go there. Which is odd, because there has been a multitude of romantic tropes used with Bellamy and Clarke over the seasons.
Even the creator of The 100, Jason Rothenberg, has told fans to wait and that they’re the central relationship of the program. But on the other hand, he’s also said that currently they’re non-romantic soulmates. It’s a little confusing when he contradicts himself off-screen, and puts in meaningful moments, lingering shots, and interrupted confessions on screen. Bellarke may never happen, it may happen, but it’s almost hard to tell what it is, which frustrates fans to no end. Are the fans waiting for something that will never come? Or will the show continue to try to be ‘edgy’ and never put them together, despite the evidence that many fans claim to see? Will Bellarke be the ship of wasted potential?
What other ships do you think failed their fanbases?