Created By: girlinnglasses375February 4, 2012 Last Edited By: beyondtheseaJune 13, 2014
Nuked

Ambiguously Asexual

A character whose sexuality is not canon but who is supposed under fanon to be asexual

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A lot of characters don't have a love interest right off the bat, but when a character that was introduced three seasons (or twenty chapters) ago still hasn't shown any interest in anyone of either sex or even mentioned any old flames, fans can start to wonder. This trope is especially likely when the character in question doesn't even seem to have any chemistry with anyone else. Eventually, these clues will lead to a Fanon proclamation of asexuality. That is when this trope applies.

There are plenty of reasons writers leave a character's asexuality up for debate. The first may be a fear of the backlash that is still sometimes seen when a character is revealed to be anything other than heterosexual. The second is likely an unwillingness to preclude a character from any sort of Shipping or potential romances down the line (which isn't actually necessary, but given the amount of research some writers do...).

Fan speculation of Asexuality is inevitable concerning characters who don't appear to be attracted to either sex. It's a tricky orientation to identify in a story. Short of an explicit statement in Canon or Word Of God that a character is asexual, there's no way to be certain. One can be asexual without being aromantic, and like all sexuality, asexuality is not dichotomous, but lies on a spectrum.

Note that this trope is often Jossed with the introduction of a love interest out of the blue. Because the general consensus within the fandom is often that these characters don't have any sort of sexual chemistry with anyone else, this can lead to Designated Love Interest, Strangled By The Red String, and Romantic Plot Tumor.

Compare Asexuality, Ambiguously Gay, and Ambiguously Bi. This trope often goes hand-in-hand with No Social Skills, though this is by no means a prerequisite.

A Subjective Trope, so place it only on YMMV pages.


Examples:

Anime And Manga
  • Light Yagami from Death Note. Never shows any interest in dating despite the fact he's a Chick Magnet, is bored to death by porn (which he only reads as part of a ruse to fool the police), and has no sexual interest at all in his sexy super-model "girlfriend" (whom he is dating only because he is using her in his plot to wreck havoc on the world.) Yaoi fangirls have other interpreations, however.
  • Code Geass:
    • Lelouch Lamperouge. The boy has an unwanted harem of girls whom he barely notices. When he does notice, he does not reciprocate. He sleeps in the same bed with CC but Wordof God never once saw her as potential lover or anything more than his Platonic Life Partners. He ignores naked Kallen, isn't distracted by girls in swim suits, ignores Rolo, and Word Of God says he died a virgin.
    • Lloyd Asplund, a brilliant scientist who cares more about science and giant robots than humanity, including romantic pursuits of any kind. He agreed to an Arranged Marriage to a beautiful girl (who was only in it for the honor it would bring her family), but seemed happy enough when it was called off.
  • Sasuke of Naruto is considered by fans to be revenge-sexual or Ambiguously Gay.
  • Takatsuki from Hourou Musuko is this. They're the only character to not have an explicit crush for most of the series but being that they're not even thirteen during much of the series their young age might be the thing. When all the other kids start having crushes he starts worrying. In late middle school Saori assumes they have a crush on a teacher but on graduation it's confirmed they admire him but they don't have feelings for the teacher. Late into the series Takatsuki confesses they have a crush on Nitori but that doesn't exclude them from being asexual, just probably not aromantic.

Comics
  • Though Rorschach from Watchmen has some possible Ho Yay with Dan, from his actions, he's most likely asexual.
  • Madame Ratzal aka Warrior Woman, although married to Ubermensch (Master Man) by order of Hitler, openly despised him and forbade him to touch her. Despite her habit of wearing very provocative clothing, she seemingly had no use for any man but Hitler. Although it is possible to read her as a lesbian, there is no substantial evidence of such. Her style suggests she may have an interest in bondage play, if she has any sexual inclinations at all.

Film - Animated
  • Elsa from Frozen. She never seems to have any interest in romance, and Hans claims that "no one was getting anywhere" with her romantically, which is why he tries to woo Anna and have Elsa killed so that he can rule Arendelle.

Literature
  • Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter was this until confirmed Wordof Gay. Lord Voldemort is probably an aromantic asexual as he has never loved anybody, which has Unfortunate Implications for asexuals if you think about it.
  • Enjolras from Les Miserables: he is described as never once looking at a woman, let alone having one (as opposed to all his friends), channeling all his energy into politics. However, some fans bring up his Ho Yay-infused death scene with Grantaire (whom he despises), while other fans see the way his introductory paragraph was worded as him being more of a Chaste Hero.
  • Sherlock Holmes, in the original stories at least. He flirts, and even once gets engaged, when it helps his investigations, but never pursues anything once the case is closed. Once or twice Watson tries to set him up, with no success. The only woman Holmes has any strong thoughts for is Irene Adler, who tends to get an elevated love-interest role in adaptations, but in the stories it's purely because she outwitted him.

Live Action Television
  • Apparently some CSI fans theorized this about Gil Grissom (see the CSI YMMV page)until it was ruled out with his romance with Sara.
  • Temperance "Bones" Brennan was thought to be this at the beginning of the series Bones, having no interest in family, dating, or going out (her best friend's catchphrase was pretty much "You Need To Get Laid"), and being obsessed with logic and rational behavior, fans believed she wouldn't be interested in sex. About midway through the first season, the audience finds out this simply isn't true.
  • Zig Zagged with Lieutenant Commander Data of Star Trek The Next Generation, an emotionless android who is stated to have no sexual desire, but he is equipped with a fully functional set of reproductive organs and makes use of them when under the influence of a personality-altering virus in the early episode The Naked Now.
  • The Game Of Thrones version of Joffrey. In the books, it's much more heavily implied (if not outright stated) that violence turns him on, but the tv series makes it look like his desire to make others suffer is something completely different and he's not really interested in sex at all. Sure, he's a complete sadist, but that doesn't have to stem from sexual desires.
  • Zig Zagged In Doctor Who, depending on the era and the The Nth Doctor in question. In series one The Doctor has a granddaughter, Susan, but in 50 years of the series we never meet her parents, or more importantly, her parent's mother, nor do we know how time lords do the whole reproduction and family unit thing (we are told that yes, he was a father, just not that the kids weren't adopted or something). Some Expanded Universe material goes so far as to state Time Lords are "loomed" into being from whole cloth, although it's of dubious canonicity at best. Most other incarnations show no inclination towards romance what so ever (despite constantly traveling with young, attractive people), the Doctor's typical eccentrics make it hard to picture him in a functional relationship with anyone, and the show's No Hugging No Kissing status only added to it. Subverted, or possibly outright Averted in the revival with Ten who shows clear romantic affection for both Rose and Madame De Pompadour, and married Elizabeth I (it was an Accidental Marriage on his part, but it was heavily implied they slept together) and Eleven who is Married to River Song.
  • It was very well accepted within the House fandom that Foreman was asexual until he and Thirteen suddenly got together mid-season 5.

Video Games
  • Sonic The Hedgehog, at least in the video game continuity. Amy Rose has a crush on him but he doesn't seem at all interested in women.
  • Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. The only male character who is object of her attention is Hope, and even said attention is purely maternal in nature.
  • Every character in Touhou. Despite the numerous Shipping in the fandom, none of the official materials ever show the girls having any romantic affections for each other.

Western Animation
  • This was the case for Stimpy of Ren And Stimpy, until the Adult party cartoon revealed him to be gay.
Community Feedback Replies: 66
  • February 4, 2012
    randomtroper89
    Anime examples:
    • Light Yagami from Death Note. Never shows any interest in dating despite the fact he's a Chick Magnet, is bored to death by porn (which he only reads as part of a ruse to fool the police), and has no sexual interest at all in his sexy super-model "girlfriend" (whom he is dating only because he is using her in his plot to wreck havoc on the world.) Yaoi fangirls have other interpreations, however.
    • Code Geass:
      • Lelouch Lamperouge. The boy has an unwanted harem of girls whom he barely notices. When he does notice, he does not reciprocate. He sleeps in the same bed with CC but Wordof God never once saw her as potential lover or anything more than his Platonic Life Partners. He ignores naked Kallen, is undistracted by girls in swim suits, ignores Rolo, and Word Of God says he died a virgin.
      • Lloyd.
    • Sasuke of Naruto is considered by fans to be revenge-sexual or Ambiguously Gay.
  • February 4, 2012
    Koveras
    Such character almost inevitably ends up as a Launcher Of A Thousand Ships, due to his/her understandable lack of canon love interests and the shippers' obsession of finding a love interest for everyone.

    • Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. The only male character who is object of her attention is Hope, and even said attention is purely maternal in nature.
    • The eponymous character from Lyrical Nanoha franchise, as well as, really, most of the primary cast.
  • February 4, 2012
    Belfagor
    If we're adding Real Life examples, Nikola Tesla would fit, since it was never made clear if he was asexual or rather practiced celibacy.
  • February 4, 2012
    level10peon
  • February 5, 2012
    Duncan
    Though Rorschach from Watchmen has some possible Ho Yay with Dan, from his actions, he's most likely asexual.
  • February 5, 2012
    girlinnglasses375
    Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter was this until confirmed Wordof Gay. Lord Voldemort is probably an aromantic asexual as he has never loved anybody, which has Unfortunate Implications for asexuals if you think about it.
  • February 5, 2012
    girlinnglasses375
  • February 5, 2012
    SuperLurkerGuy
    Are there any entries for this that wouldn't fit better in Chaste Hero or Celibate Hero?
  • February 5, 2012
    girlinnglasses375
    Another real life example: J.M.Barry, author of "Peter Pan."
  • February 5, 2012
    animeg3282
    This might be more of an audience reaction. Sort of about how a fanon evolves about how a character is asexual.
  • February 5, 2012
    sliz225
    Real Life: Langston Hughes. Intensely private, and no known romantic flings. Also, Sherlock, from Sherlock.
  • February 5, 2012
    Westrim
    WikiWorded the compare list, since 3/4 of the suggested examples so far are already on the Asexual page (and a couple have been). Which along with all the hedging in the intro should give an indication of just how messed up people's consideration of this topic is. I don't know whether or not this page can be made, as it's certainly fanon, but it might bleed off much of the speculation I keep having to scour from the confirmed page and let the stuff with debate finally get kicked out without a ruckus. Someone actually mentioned the possibility of creating this on the Asexual discussion page, but it never happened.
  • February 5, 2012
    Surenity
    Sonic The Hedgehog, at least in the video game continuity. Amy Rose has a crush on him but he doesn't seem at all interested in women.
  • February 10, 2012
    Tambov333
  • February 10, 2012
    Tambov333
  • February 12, 2012
    sliz225
    Bump.
  • February 12, 2012
    pawsplay
    Real Life: Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, was seemingly heterosexual and probably pedophiliac, but his only discernible romance of any sort was his lengthy friendship with a young girl named Alice. It is believed by some biographers that when he broached the subject of a possible future engagement to her with her parents, they were aghast at the idea of their daughter marrying a man so much older and thereafter discouraged the friendship. An alternative theory involves a scandalous affection of some sort with Alice's older sister or another household member. In any case, he never married, never had children, and although he continued to enjoy the company of young women and girls all his life, complained that he never developed an affection to compare with his companionship with Alice.

    Comic books: Madame Ratzal aka Warrior Woman, although married to Ubermensch (Master Man) by order of Hitler, openly despised him and forbade him to touch her. Despite her habit of wearing very provocative clothing, she seemingly had no use for any man but Hitler. Although it is possible to read her as a lesbian, there is no substantial evidence of such. Her style suggests she may have an interest in bondage play, if she has any sexual inclinations at all.
  • February 23, 2012
    Westrim
    bump
  • February 24, 2012
    Koveras
    I would recommend against including real life examples, due to lack of reliable data on real people's private lives. They are/were private for a reason. Unless it's a stage persona, like the Idol Singers who are supposed to remain chaste by the terms of their contracts, or something.
  • February 24, 2012
    pawsplay
    Sherlock Holmes is probably not a good example; he never pursues a relationship, but is not completely above flirtations, until they become an obstacle to his goals.
  • February 27, 2012
    ChaoticDreams
    Sasuke is considered by fans to be either "revenge-sexual" or Ambiguously Gay.
  • March 7, 2012
    Westrim
    bump
  • March 10, 2012
    ChaoticDreams
    bump.
  • March 10, 2012
    chicagomel
    Apparently some CSI fans theorized this about Gil Grissom (see the CSI YMMV page)until it was ruled out with his romance with Sara. IDK if it'd count or not.
  • March 17, 2012
    Westrim
    Revamped the explanation and laconic, archiving here:

    A character not confirmed in-canon to be asexual, but can be inferred to be so.

    Bob has no sexual and (possibly) no romantic attraction to the opposite sex. None whatsoever. He must be Ambiguously Gay, right? But he also has no Ho Yay with members of the same sex (whatever Yaoi Fangirls might want to think). He doesn't seem particularly interested in sex, dating, or romance with either genders

    Bob is Ambigously Asexual. Even though he is described as asexual neither in canon or via Wordof God, viewers may infer him to be so. Lack of confirmation may be due to the general public ignorance on the nature of asexuality. Note of course that not all asexuals are necessarily aromantic, and that classifying a character as asexual can be complicated as asexuality lies on a spectrum. This is a Subjective Trope, therefore.

    Compare Asexual, Ambiguously Gay, Ambiguously Bi
  • March 17, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Those are In Universe ambiguity, not when the fans think so.
  • March 21, 2012
    Westrim
    Is that an impassible barrier to making this a snowclone to them, though, or should this be reworded to only be in universe?
  • March 28, 2012
    Manateehugs
    The example of Sasuke from Naruto is a good one, I really love the term, "revenge-sexual". If that isn't a trope already it really should be.

    Hayley ^_^
  • February 3, 2013
    Westrim
    Bumping. I originally got interested in this as a way to bleed off the non canon examples from Asexuality (and ended up watching that in the first place because wow, there are a lot of bad examples that keep getting added), but it needs quite a bit of work before launch, hats notwithstanding.
  • February 3, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • Every character in Touhou. Despite the numerous Shipping in the fandom, none of the official materials ever show the girls having any romantic affections for each other.
  • February 4, 2013
    rukimi
    Miles Edgeworth from Ace Attorney fits perfectly
  • February 5, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    ^That is a bad Zero Context Example.
  • May 6, 2013
    Surenity
    • This was the case for Stimpy of Ren And Stimpy, until the Adult party cartoon revealed him to be gay.
  • May 17, 2013
    Synchronicity
    • Enjolras from Les Miserables: he is described as never once looking at a woman, let alone having one (as opposed to all his friends), channeling all his energy into politics. However, some fans bring up his Ho Yay-infused death scene with Grantaire (whom he despises), while other fans see the way his introductory paragraph was worded as him being more of a Chaste Hero.
  • May 17, 2013
    robinjohnson
    I think Sherlock Holmes is a very good example, in the original stories at least. He flirts, and even once gets engaged, when it helps his investigations, but never pursues anything once the case is closed. Once or twice Watson tries to set him up, with no success. The only woman Holmes has any strong thoughts for is Irene Adler, who tends to get an elevated love-interest role in adaptations, but in the stories it's purely because she outwitted him.
  • May 17, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Temperance "Bones" Brennan was thought to be this at the beginning of the series Bones, having no interest in family, dating, or going out (her best friend's catchphrase was pretty much "You Need To Get Laid"), and being obsessed with logic and rational behavior, fans believed she wouldn't be interested in sex. About midway through the first season, the audience finds out this simply isn't true.
  • December 8, 2013
    DeathsApprentice
    Elsa from Frozen. She never seems to have any interest in romance, and Hans claims that "no one had been making any progress" with her romantically, which is why he tries to woo Anna and have Elsa killed so that he can rule Arendelle.
  • December 8, 2013
    arbiter099
    • Zig-Zagged with Lieutenant Commander Data of Star Trek The Next Generation, an emotionless android who is stated to have no sexual desire, but he is equipped with a fully functional set of reproductive organs and makes use of them when under the influence of a personality-altering virus in the early episode The Naked Now.
  • December 8, 2013
    DAN004
    How would we differentiate Ambiguously Asexual and plain Asexuality?
  • December 9, 2013
    Pichu-kun
    One is ambiguous and the other is explicitly referred to as Asexual. I was gonna make this YKNTTW once but I decided against it. It's nice to see someone else has the same idea.

    • Takatsuki from Hourou Musuko is this. They're the only character to not have an explicit crush for most of the series but being that they're not even thirteen during much of the series their young age might be the thing. When all the other kids start having crushes he starts worrying. In late middle school Saori assumes they have a crush on a teacher but on graduation it's confirmed they admire him but they don't have feelings for the teacher. Late into the series Takatsuki confesses they have a crush on Nitori but that doesn't exclude them from being asexual, just probably not aromantic.
  • December 9, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Cuz sometimes some examples in Asexuality would fit here more than there. :P
  • December 9, 2013
    Doodler
    I'd put the Game Of Thrones version of Joffrey here too. In the books, it's much more heavily implied (if not outright stated, I can't remember) that violence turns him on, but the tv series makes it look like his desire to make others suffer is something completely different and he's not really interested in sex at all. Sure, he's a complete sadist, but that doesn't have to stem from sexual desires.
  • December 9, 2013
    Paycheckgurl
    In Doctor Who, most of The Nth Doctor s qualify. In series one The Doctor has a granddaughter, Susan, but in 50 years of the series we never meet her parents, or more importantly, her parent's mother, nor do we know how time lords do the whole reproduction and family unit thing. Most other incarnations show no inclination towards romance what so ever, the Doctor's typical eccentrics make it hard to picture him in a functional relationship with anyone, and the show's No Hugging No Kissing status only added to it. Subverted in the revival with Ten who shows clear romantic affection for Rose and married Elizabeth I (it was an Accidental Marriage on his part, but it was heavily implied they slept together) and Eleven who is [[spoilers:Married to River Song]].
  • December 9, 2013
    arbiter099
    ^A book established that Time Lords use "looms" to build people whole cloth, although that's of debatable canonocity. He does say that he was a dad once (already implied by Susan) and we also see the Doctor's baby crib at one point. Think it's safe to say that off screen horizontal wibbly-wobblyness does occur, especially after 8.
  • December 10, 2013
    nitrokitty
    • It's not clear whether Iceland from Scandinavia And The World is asexual or self-sexual, but either way, we're not getting a piece of him.
  • December 10, 2013
    Snicka
    ^^^ The Tenth Doctor also has a romantic affair with Reinette a.k.a. Madame Pompadour.
  • December 10, 2013
    Pichu-kun
    Then the examples on Asexuality should be on Ambiguously Asexual.
  • December 30, 2013
    Doodler
    I'd agree. They do confirm a couple of times whether or not a character is asexual, but not all that often. So, what should we do about it?
  • December 30, 2013
    AP
    J.M. Barry had a wife and kids. Could we consider him asexual?
  • January 8, 2014
    oztrickster
    ^ Probably not, why would people think that he was?
  • January 10, 2014
    GuesssWho
    Does this really matter? If a character isn't shown wanting sex, maybe it's just because it's not a romance story!

    Seriously, every character in most non-romance stories would wind up on this page.
  • January 10, 2014
    Paycheckgurl
    ^ The important thing here isn't that the character doesn't have sex, but rather that fans speculate the character doesn't partake in romance at all. Bob can have had past girlfriends and no romance in story and spark no fandom about being asexual. It's all audience reaction.
  • January 11, 2014
    GuesssWho
    ^Isn't that pretty much the opposite of what fans do, though? We tend to ship everybody with everybody.
  • January 11, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ If that's what happens then we have a case of Crack Pairing.
  • June 12, 2014
    beyondthesea
    ^^ Well, a character can be shipped with other characters and still qualify under this trope. Elsa is a fantastic example. She's commonly shipped with all the other (human) characters, but it's also heavily speculated that she's asexual.

    • It was very well accepted within the House fandom that Foreman was asexual until he and Thirteen suddenly got together mid-season 5.
  • June 12, 2014
    MrL1193
    Huh, thought this one was already discarded...Frankly, I'm not sure the ambiguous absence of something is a great basis for a trope...
  • June 13, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ That actually had been said several times here.

    Even Asexuality itself is sometimes hard to guess...
  • June 13, 2014
    kerani
    My apologies, I tagged this with "Tropeworthy" before noting the fine print that it was a subjective/YMMV article, not an actual trope.

    I do question how we figure if this applies (or as above, *does not apply*) - someone out there has this opinion about any given character, no matter if they're married, have five kids, and are shown to be having a three-way affair on the side. It's what fans *do*.
  • June 13, 2014
    Westrim
    As I said somewhere up above, from my perspective this is useful for bleeding off fanon examples from Asexuality. That trope should only be for confirmed, stated by the character or the creator, absolutely uninterested in sex characters. A couple of relevant comments predating creation of the YKTTW from that tropes discussion page:

    Jicragg 07:44:27 AM Jan 4th 2011

    Perhaps we need an Ambiguous Asexuality page to put all of these: nothing happens so they could be anything points. Whereas Ambiguously Gay would be for those which do suggest points to homosexuality... Just the thought. OR (another idea) we could spilt it on this page between: 'DEFINITE REASON TO PEOPLE' and 'lack of sex/speculation' or would that only make more people right up Wild Mad Guesses?

    Free Radical 03:58:18 PM Apr 1st 2011

    That's a good idea - we have Ambiguous Gay and Bi for people who seem to tend toward those respective 'ways,' but for people who show indifference to everyone should get their own trope.

    // Those comments bring up an important point: We have those other two tropes of ambiguous sexuality. What separates them in worthiness from this one?
  • June 13, 2014
    bitemytail
    OP - Can you fix the spelling errors in the Death Note entry?
  • June 13, 2014
    Westrim
    What's preventing you from doing it? OP is gone.
  • June 13, 2014
    beyondthesea
    I agree that if we're going to have Ambiguously Gay and Ambiguously Bi, we should have Ambiguously Asexual. I actually found this YKTTW because I searched Ambiguous Asexuality because I wanted to tag it on something, so I definitely think it's usable.
  • June 13, 2014
    Beacon80
    Worth mentioning that Shu Takumi stated once that Miles Edgeworth isn't interested in women. Many people interpreted this as meaning he's gay, but he's never shown any particular interest in men, either.
  • June 13, 2014
    MrL1193
    The difference between this idea and Ambiguously Gay or Ambiguously Bi is that with those other two, there are some definite sexual signals to interpret. Quite often, such cases are the result of the author wanting to have characters who are gay or bi but being unable or afraid to do so openly.

    The mere absence of such signals, however, can be explained in many different ways. It's not a good sign when the Law Of Conservation Of Detail alone is responsible for most of the so-called examples. (Just look at how many examples so far read, "Could have been interpreted as asexual until....") Another problem is that many of these examples are merely about the characters not having interest in one particular gender (usually the opposite gender, of course), which isn't enough on its own to indicate asexuality.

    I just don't see any way to keep this trope from being badly misused (I already consider most of the "examples" listed here to be bad ones), and making it YMMV (which would be unlike the other Ambiguous Sexuality tropes) is tantamount to throwing up our hands and saying, "Okay, go nuts with all the bad examples you want."
  • June 13, 2014
    needsanewhobby
    Because asexuality involves not experiencing sexual attraction or having physical relationships, explicit asexuality is almost always an informed trait anyway, so ambiguous asexuality is relatively common.
  • June 13, 2014
    hbi2k
    I disagree that Rorschach of Watchmen is "most likely" asexual. Given his traumatic experiences in childhood and his obvious discomfort around women, he most likely has the normal range of sexual feelings and is just extremely repressed. Asexuals aren't repulsed by sexuality the way he seems to be, they just don't desire sex.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable