7 TV Character Bromances Fans Wanted to Be Romances

Castiel and Dean
The CW

Anthony Mackie tried shutting down any sort of queer reading of the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, telling Variety this month that “the idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality.”

But as one fan pointed out on Twitter, many of these shippers are “gay people with virtually no representation in the [Marvel Cinematic Universe].”

Indeed, for decades now, queer fans have had to imagine same-sex romances off-screen—through slash fan-fictions and works of art—when they didn’t see themselves reflected on screen.

Other times, straight female fans just wanted to see their favorite male characters do it!

Whatever the reason—and all reasons are valid—here are some small-screen bromances that fans wanted to be less platonic.

Captain Kirk and Spock from Star Trek

Slash fan fiction reportedly got its name from fan-written, romantic “Kirk/Spock” stories. In a novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Kirk (played on screen by William Shatner) addresses the speculation that he and Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) are lovers and says he “would dislike being thought of as so foolish that I would select a love partner who came into sexual heat only once every seven years.”

John Watson and Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock

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Fervor for a romantic relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) was so intense that Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss wrote on the official PBS Tumblr blog that he has had to explain “many times” that the producers aren’t against the Johnlock ship but it’s just “not the story that we want to tell.”

Dean Winchester and Castiel from Supernatural

Fans had been waiting for years for Dean Winchester and Castiel to get together on Supernatural, and the ship finally (and controversially) became canon in the final season when Castiel (Misha Collins) professed his love for Dean (Jensen Ackles)… just before dying. “It’s hard not to see Destiel’s final moment as just an extension of the show’s ‘no homo’ approach to all-things queer,” David Opie wrote for Digital Spy.

Clark Kent and Lex Luthor from Smallville

The subtext between Clark (Tom Welling) and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) in Smallville gave rise to the “HoYay!” shorthand—as in, “Homoeroticism, yay!”—on online forums and on the now-defunct Television Without Pity website in particular. “I defy anyone to watch the seven-second held gaze in [the episode] ‘Hourglass’ without, at the very least, going, ‘WTF?’” one TWOP user wrote. “Why are they looking at each other for so long? Why are they kind of smirking at each other while they’re doing it? Hmm?”

Stiles Stilinksi and Derek Hale from Teen Wolf

via Gfycat

Two and a half months after Teen Wolf premiered, fans of the MTV show had created a LiveJournal community devoted to Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) and Derek (Tyler Hoechlin)—popularizing the Sterek ship that has, so far, inspired more than 62,000 fan-fiction works on the website Archive of Our Own.

Klaus Mikaelson and Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

Paul Wesley stoked the Klefan ship when he told KSiteTV in 2012 that he hoped his character and Klaus (Joseph Morgan) would “get sexy with each other” in Season 4 of The Vampire Diaries. That didn’t happen, but there’s still plenty of fan fiction to scratch that itch.

Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham from Hannibal

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Mads Mikkelsen told Vulture earlier this April that he and costar Hugh Dancy almost kissed in Hannibal’s series finale, but showrunner Bryan Fuller vetoed the idea for being “too obvious.” And in May, a U.S. Representative unwittingly selected a high schooler’s Hannigram painting to hang in the U.S. Capitol!