Though romance is important in many works, bonds of friendship between those of the same sex form some of fiction's most significant relationships. One common method of playing with these close relationships is to portray them similarly to romantic relationships, though the characters feel nothing sexual for one another. For example, two male friends may bicker in an exaggerated manner
, mirroring how television normally depicts husbands and wives
, or one friend may voice jealousy of another with lines lovers normally use.
The juxtaposition is often played for laughs, especially with male characters — the equivalent dramatic portrayal might imply actual romantic feelings. Other such scenes may attempt fanservice
, particularly when the characters are the opposite gender of the intended demographic
In older media, there were often rules forbidding overt displays of homosexuality. Writers who wanted to create gay characters would often resort to homosexual subtext.
See also Homoerotic Dream
This page covers only intentional examples
, chiefly those lampshaded
by characters, Word of God
, laughter or awkward pauses. It does not cover fans' delight at or tendency
to view any interactions as gay; for that, see Ho Yay
. It also does not cover any Ship Teases
or actual homoerotism, where the characters may indeed be gay or bisexual for each other
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Anime & Manga
- Negi and Fate Averruncus in Mahou Sensei Negima!. The subtext is actually noticed and lampshaded in-story with the girls wondering if they have a strong new rival for Negi. Even disregarding that both of them are around ten years old, at least one of them has/had a female Love Interest.
- Much earlier, there was Negi and Kotarou.
- While the author of Durarara!! is apparently annoyed to some extent by the people who ship Izaya and Shizuo, he has apparently said 'Hell, why not' and put in some subtext in later volumes. In truth, they absolutely hate each other, but Izaya delights in pissing people off and this is just another way of doing it.
- The way they hate each other, the psychological games, constantly moving into each others' personal space, and their rather obsessive loathing - which is a very odd departure for Izaya who 'loves all humans' - tends to be where people stamp Belligerent Sexual Tension on their relationship. And while the author throws in tidbits of this in later volumes, the producers/writers of the anime pushed this into the forefront right off the bat. The jury is out on whether this is supposed to be this trope or Ship Tease, thoughnote .
- As an extremely genre savvy shoujo manga, Ouran High School Host Club plays up the homoerotic subtext for both fanservice and laughs. After all, a decent amount of Yaoi Fangirls have to be reading it. It's even invoked in universe when the twins play it up during club activities.
- The last episode of Seitokai no Ichizon plays it for laughs where the protagonist is doing his best to avoid this as best he can and failing utterly until he finally manages to relax and give the other guy some advice. Curse you, Mafuyu!
- Axis Powers Hetalia might have some of this — being a comedy that also has a few canon gay couples, it's hard to tell sometimes what is Played for Laughs and what is actual Ship Tease.
- Sengoku Basara lives and breathes this trope. Helps that 90% of the cast are male.
- From Persona 4: The Animation:
- Episode 12 seems to have a lot of this between Yu and Yosuke. Yosuke pulls Yu out of Mitsuo's Shadow's illusion, and they then look each other in the eye while in Jiraiya's arms. At the end of the episode, Yosuke calls Yu by his first name.
- Episode 15 and the Love Hotel, Chie, Yukiko, and Rise in the rotating bed having giggle fits. Something similar happens when Teddie, Yosuke, and Kanji end up in a bed together, except in that case the only one laughing is Teddie.
- Episode 19 has some tension between Yu and Yosuke during the group date. Yosuke says that he feels he was "about to cross a line that should never be crossed," and searches frantically for a drink.
- Sakamichi No Apollon (also known as Kids on the Slope). The anime is full of this (specifically between Sentarou and Kaoru). Even though the main characters eventually each have their own female Love Interests, they have an equal amount of Fanservice with each other.
- Episode 1, the scene when Kaoru first meets Sentarou is blatantly ripped-off from some shoujo manga, complete with the pink background and the line "So, you have come to take me". It is explained later in the manga that Sentarou thought that Kaoru was an angel who've come to take him away in his nap. The fact that Kaoru has been known as having a 'pretty face' according to Ritsuko (which she corrected into 'handsome' right away) doesn't help.
- Sentarou and Kaoru constantly bickers in exaggerated manners, even though they actually get along pretty well, as stated by Ritsuko.
- Kaoru throws a fit when Sentarou agrees to play music with another man! (Rock and roll, no less. The horror!)
- There are many scenes in which Sentarou has no sense of space around Kaoru, including patting his head or shoulders, trying to share a jacket with him to shelter from rain, or pining him down to his bed in a serious manner, much to Kaoru's surprise.
- Kaoru once literally states that Sentarou is so good-looking, he sometimes takes his breath away.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion has only half an eisode with Kaworu and Shinji and there's a lot of ways in which their interaction can be interpreted. That said, would-be shippers have a lot of material to go on from that mere half-episode - more material than NGE's hetero-pairings (put together), in fact. Shinji's attraction to Kaworu and denial thereof is clear in the manga, but left ambiguous in the anime.
- Rebuild of Evangelion devotes half a movie to the same pairing, and two entire conversations are made to sound like they're talking about making love and not piano playing (which is what they were doing). Oh, and Kaworu manages to get a very suggestive pose in.
- Berserk: Griffith is one of the few Guts allow to touch him and Griffith is all sorts of jealous towards Guts. Oh and Naked Water Fight. It goes straight into horrifying territory with the Eclipse and the events that lead up to it.
- Pet Shop of Horrors both plays this for laughs and uses it to add more power to some tear jerkers.
- While Fai and Kurogane in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle almost pass into yaoi boys territory, the genre makes them into one huge ship tease because the mangaka love to hear fangirls scream in frustration.
- Lupin III: The Columbus Files: The beach scene with Jigen and Goemon. And yes, while the mouth-to-mouth is explained, why Goemon had to take most of his clothes off to do it is not.
- Also in the case of Rosaria and the amnesiac Fujiko; Rosaria jokingly asks Lupin if they can "share" Fujiko. Not that those two didn't have subtext before that, mind you.
Film — Live-Action
- Top Gun was rife with subtext. Years later, asked if his role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was his first gay character, Val Kilmer joked that it was — but only if you don't count Top Gun.
- X-Men: First Class: James McAvoy called the movie a "love story" between Xavier and Magneto, even though, pressed for clarification, he admitted they were not gay. The film certainly did concentrate heavily on the two's relationship, and a final scene, in which the two split and their surrogate children chose sides, played out like a couple's divorce.
: It is a little bit of a mini-tragedy that [Xavier] and Magneto don’t, you know, have sex and become married and become best friends.
- Gore Vidal claims to have inserted homoerotic subtext into the script of Ben Hur, treating two male characters as former lovers. The characters otherwise appear straight, and Charlton Heston later claimed complete ignorance of the subtext.
- Heston's ignorance was a case of Enforced Method Acting. Vidal told Stephen Boyd (Messala) privately to act as if his character was in love with Ben Hur.
- I Love You Man tried to sell itself as "the first bromantic comedy." It covered the start and development of a male friendship much how other movies might a romance, and largely not as a parody.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is an odd case. After its release many people noted its strange homosexual subtext. Years later the scriptwriter revealed that he intentionally added these elements to the story, but the entire rest of the production crew, the director included, simply never noticed. Robert Englund has gone on record saying that he thinks that Freddy in this film represents Jesse's repressed homosexual desires. Mark Patton (who played Jesse) came out as openly homosexual after the film was released, and thinks that his self-doubts about his sexuality at the time when the movie was shot carried over into his performance.
- The Ruthless guide to '80s action movies straight-out acknowledges the "hidden gayness" of '80s action movies and elaborates on it in detail. Top scorers are, of course, Top Gun, Commando and Red Heat.
- Betty Buckley has said that, in the 1976 version of Carrie, she played the gym teacher Miss Collins as a lesbian in order to invoke this in her interactions with Carrie.
- Original drafts of Hot Fuzz had a love interest for Angel named Victoria. When the character was removed, much of her dialogue was given intact to Danny, leading to lots of subtext. Which was then consciously played for laughs.
- Later, the writers and actors discovered that Hot Fuzz had a following of Slash Fic writers. They were amused, and even started tweeting their own Hot Fuzz slash fanfiction.
You do realize this counts as canon
to us now?
- Between Ripley and Call in Alien: Resurrection. Word of God says it was intentional. Given the scriptwriter, that's not exactly surprising.
- There are some serious guy-love vibes in Pain and Gain.
- In multiple episodes of Friends, Joey and Chandler often have conversations about completely innocent subjects that sound exactly like those a couple would have.
- In one episode, Joey tells Chandler they should buy a new table for the apartment and Chandler worries is "too soon". He starts talking about how things went when he brought furniture with his old roommate Kip, agravating Joey ("I know all about Kip!"), who later asks Chandler if Kip was "better than me".
- In one episode, a conversation between Rachel and Monica about the fact that Monica has been shopping with Julie (Ross' girlfriend at the time) sounds exactly as if Monica has cheated on Rachel. Of course, From a Certain Point of View, it is true. She's done something meaningful with Rachel's rival.
- In the first episode of Joey, he frustratedly tells his sister "Chandler & me were not a gay couple!"
- In Boston Legal, Alan and Denny would often joke about their relationship as if it were a sexual one. The nods came in almost every episode, and they even ended up dancing together once. In the final episode, they actually married each other, still maintaining a platonic relationship.
- An episode of Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld's favorite, portrayed the rise and fall of one of Jerry's friendships like the start and end of a romance. The two-parter was called "The Boyfriend."
- Full House starred three men living together in San Francisco, and some early viewers thought the characters Jesse and Joey were a gay couple. This quickly proved not to be the case, but the show did have some fun with the idea. In one episode, the two tried to bathe a baby, and one ended up singing a love song to the other rather than to the baby. A third character walked in, and this was a case of Innocent Innuendo — until he left with the baby and the two chose to stay in the tub together and the song resumed. A few seasons later, the two worked together and tried to convince their boss to let them work from home, saying, "Joey and I... we have a baby together."
- House has this in egregious amounts, mainly between House, the Doctor Jerk, and Wilson, his loyal Lancer and only real friend. Most of the time it's hard to point a finger at it though, because with House's personality, any of the sexually loaded comments (including some of the "I'm so gay for you" and "will you marry me" sort) could, and most likely are, just sarcasm so thick it's impossible to say what House actually means. Wilson, again, has learned to sometimes pay House back with the same thing. And in the end, the only thing actually happening between them is friendship and constant teasing; both have heterosexual interests and relationships/activity of their own.
- Raj and Howard from The Big Bang Theory, to the point where Leonard's mother asks when they're going to express their latent homosexual feelings for one another.
- In Teen Wolf, Stiles is very interested in whether or not he's attractive to gay guys, and asks both Scott and Danny whether they find him attractive. And Derek Hale does not care for anyone's personal boundaries. If you slow down any scene which involves Derek getting a little too close... Well...
- Stiles using a shirtless Derek to get Danny to help him.
Stiles: You may bat for the other team, but you still play ball, don't you, Danny?
Danny: You're a horrible person.
- This happens a lot. Scott pins Danny down and smells him during lacrosse practice, Derek really enjoys pinning Stiles to walls, and the males in this series are just really really touchy-feely.
- Scott seems utterly unfazed by Stiles coming in his window, hanging off his roof, etc.
Stiles (to Scott): "Do you enjoy hurting me?"
- Scrubs is overflowing with bromance between Turk and JD, up to and including a duet between the two called "Guy Love" in the musical episode in season 6.
- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report has this between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The actors deliberately play it up in their characters.
- How I Met Your Mother, mainly with Barney, Ted, and Marshall (in any combination of the three), though Lily and Robin have their moments, too. The insane levels of chemistry among the cast members does not help.
- Boy Meets World did a non-stop torrent of jokes in later seasons about Cory and Shawn acting like couple. There was a break-up episode which revolved around this premise, Cory's fiancee Topanga admitted that she knew Cory loved Shawn more than her, Cory wished Shawn was there the night he lost his virginity ... it would be too much to list it all here. There was also a lot between Jack and Eric.
- Shawn and Gus in Psych act like an old married couple CONSTANTLY and apparently can't spend more than an hour apart without repeated phone calls. Shawn likes to pretend they really are in a relationship around other people because it makes Gus incredibly uncomfortable.
- Rizzoli & Isles plays into this trope more and more with each passing season.
- In the Babylon 5 episode (5x4): "A View from the Gallery", a workman having listened to G'Kar and Londo bickering wonders aloud, "So, how long do you figure they’ve been married?"
- This trope may be the reason Supernatural keeps getting renewed. Sam and Dean constantly bicker like a married couple, Castiel spends a huge proportion of his screen time just staring at Dean, and the secondary characters are constantly make jokes about Dean's "boyfriends". In season 6, Lisa gives Dean a speech about how bizarrely close the two brothers are, and how she knew their relationship was over the minute Dean found out that Sam was still alive. The fact that the guy who plays Castiel merrily confirmed the Ho Yay makes it all even better.
- And then there's all the manhugs.... So. many. manhugs!!! Dean even gave Benny the vampire one.
- Of course, they are heavily disturbed when they discover their lives are chronicled in a series of cult novels written by a prophet, particularly upon the revelation that a large part of the novel's fanbase actively ships the two of them.
: They do know we're brothers
Sam: Doesn't seem to matter...
- Doctor Who got well up in this trope with the new series, occasionally taking it right into homoeroticism. The best example of this trope played to the letter in the series is the friendship between the Eleventh Doctor and Craig, to the point where they get Mistaken for Gay by everybody. (In most other cases, the series merrily hop-skips past this trope and goes straight onto guy-on-guy snogging.)
- The classic series had an infamous case with Ace and her Girl of the Week in "Survival", which was intentional on the author's part and even censored a bit by the BBC.
- Several of the Sylvester McCoy-era stories include homoerotic subtexts between many of the minor characters as part of the series' turn towards the political during this time, although unlike the above it generally didn't directly involve the main cast. In particular, "The Curse of Fenric" and especially "The Happiness Patrol" are contain significant subplots about homosexuality and gay rights.
- Whilst the Doctor/Master Foe Yay has always existed, Scream of the Shalka and the 2005 reboot took it further than it had ever been. Paul Cornell confirmed that the Doctor and the android Master were in item in Scream of the Shalka, while Russell T. Davies has confirmed on multiple times that he believes the two to be almost soul mates, which is part of what makes it so tragic. Steven Moffat has also admitted to shipping them, going so far as to get them together at the end of Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, after the Doctor regenerates into a female body.
- The BBC's Sherlock has enough of this that it's been lampshaded since the first episode, when one of the two main characters thought the other was hitting on him and their landlady assumed they were a couple. Later episodes see John Watson repeatedly telling secondary characters that he isn't gay, and he does, indeed, date women. Not very successfully, but still...
- Often played for laughs on Blue Mountain State, a show notable for its use of the Testosterone Poisoning trope as well. Thad has a penchant for finding ways to get the team naked and subjecting them to sadistic things, often as a part of hazing, or just for reasons that only make sense to him. Also, being a show about a bunch of Dumb Jocks constantly thinking about, talking about and seeking sex, this trope comes into play quite a bit. One player even mistakenly thinks he is being invited to a threesome with the coach and his wife and after some agonizing decides to go for it, and not just to have a shot at the wife.
- Angel. A Running Gag with the title character is that he's often Mistaken for Gay, but when rival vampire Spike joins Team Angel in Season 5 the Ho Yay goes off the scale. This is lampshaded in the DVD Commentary for "Destiny".
"They're always up for a little homoeroticism — David and James."
"I think this was the scene when Joss Whedon
saw it shot he said, "Why don't they kiss already?"
- Troy and Abed from Community, and everybody knows it. To the point where, when Troy starts dating Britta, Abed is referred to as her "boyfriend's boyfriend". And when Abed starts spending time with a new friend, Troy becomes jealous and goes "all psycho girlfriend on him", in the words of Britta while she is on a date with Troy.
- Eastbound And Down—The ongoing relationship between Kenny and Stevie is a terrific parody of a romantic relationship, Kenny being the (over)dominant personality and Stevie being the emotionally sensitive one.
- Ja Wangnan and Nya Nia from Tower of God. Ja keeps commenting on how feminine Nia looks, has quite a few scenes with him, they share a roomnote and Nia's number is saved under "My Beloved Nia~♥♥". Subtle. Ja Wangnan does not take his death well, which in a society where you can die at any time and already seen countless deaths, means quite abit.
- Fans interpretation of Charizard and Clefable's relationship in 151 Hidden Depths.
- Black and White from Grey is..., their relationship has a lot of this. They bicker like a married couple and have no problem showing affection for each other
- Vinnie and Rabbit from Skins. They bicker constantly and argue Like an Old Married Couple.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the subtext and Ship Tease between Aang/Zuko, Sokka/Zuko, Katara/Toph, Roku/Sozin, and Azula/Ty Lee, among other couples, is completely deliberate on the part of the writers, between Word of God and in-show Lampshade Hanging. The writers are very fandom-savvy, and at least half of the Ho Yay in the show was intentional.
- The Simpsons:
- Lenny and Carl. There have been a few jokes about this, of course.
- Recent seasons have done the same for Wiggum and Lou. Wiggum is usually the overly emotional wife/girlfriend.
Wiggum: Lou, you can't leave the force! I can change!
Lou: I just think there's more money in private security.
Wiggum: What I'm hearing is I'm too fat! [Eats a sundae between sobs]
- A specific episode brought Chief Wiggum and Homer together. There was a falling out between them when Wiggum became too needy but they kind of make up by the end.
- While Smithers would obviously prefer his relationship with Mr. Burns to be something different, the show often offered such jokes about their relationship earlier on.
- One episode had Apu and Snake seeing a therapist, acting like a married couple:
Apu: He used to rob me 2-3 times a week. Now, I'm lucky if I get it once a month.
Snake: He never initiates it. I have to do all the work. He just stands there...
Therapist: Now, now, don't talk through him. Talk to him.
Snake: (sighs) Apu, sometimes when I rob you, it's like you're not even there.
Apu: That is because you are robbing my brother Sanjay!
Snake: Dude, I didn't know...
Apu: Oh, just shut up!
- South Park has many jokes concerning Stan and Kyle's deep friendship. And even when it's not part of a joke, a lot of their deeper moments simply reek of Ho Yay.
- Buford and Baljeet in Phineas and Ferb. This goes up to having an episode about them titled "Bully Bromance Breakup," complete with breakup song.
- Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy from Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode where their partnership was formed, they walk around Ivy's secluded trailer in nothing but dress shirts and underwear and constantly talk about how men are worthless, and in later episodes they share an apartment and continue to walk around in rather skimpy clothing (when Harley is not with the Joker). A later episode has the (scantily-clad) Ivy pushing the (scantily-clad) Harley down onto their hotel room's (single) bed with a pillow, at which point the scene abruptly ends. Word of God is that Harley & Ivy are indeed in such a relationship, off and on.
- Lemongrab and his clone, Lemongrab 2, from Adventure Time. They live together, have babies together, nuzzle when naked, and even hug when naked. They act like a married couple, and Princess Bubblegum said she had created Lemongrab 2 for Lemongrab "to be with," in a rather suggestive voice.
- Holy shit, did Time Squad live and breathe this trope, though it pretty much became more "text" and less "subtext" around season two.