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Actor Shipping

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"There are people who believe that Jack Nicholson and I are gay lovers. Let them. I find it amusing."

This is what happens when fans want the actors who play certain characters on a show to get together because their on- (and sometimes off-) screen chemistry just makes them look so gosh-darn cute. If someone actually has the gall to suggest this to an actor personally, expect an irritated I Am Not Spock response to follow.

There are generally three kinds of real-person shippers: the ones who know that it's all just fiction and ship it for fun/because it's hot; the ones who think there really is some Unresolved Sexual Tension to be had but know that it most likely won't ever get resolved (and proceed to ship it for fun/because it's hot); and the ones who truly believe that the people in question are copulating like bunnies when the cameras are off. A fan of the latter type is known derogatorily in some circles as a "Tinhat" and can often be recognised by their conspiracy theories about evil PR people/network execs/whatever forcing the two actors to keep their relationship a secret. Note that the fact one or both partners may be in a relationship or even married to other people, or perhaps are even of incompatible sexual orientation, is irrelevant. In the case of co-stars (particularly those acting out romantic or implied-romantic or UST-related storylines with each other), actor shipping is often a reflection of how well they're doing their jobs as actors, so not all tropes are bad in that case.

In either case, sometimes these ships will actually set sail. Cue delighted Squee, and maybe an I Knew It!.

Can be part of a Real-Person Fic.

Romance on the Set is when this happens for real. See Real-Life Relative if the actors are already romantically involved. Not to be confused with Shipper on Set, where actors ship characters in a work they star in.

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Other Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • There was enough shipping of Quinton Flynn with Jeff Nimoy that the two decided to rebuke it in the form of a duet. Said song has since become quite popular around the convention circuit.
  • Fans ship Vic Mignogna and Caitlin Glass. They have played couples on shows like Fullmetal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club and are good friends; however, Caitlin is married and Vic is engaged, plus he's old enough to be her father. That doesn't stop the fans from squeeing and asking them to kiss when they show up at conventions.
  • A huge shipping fanbase for Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Ai Kayano developed after this skit/Q&A session. Other skits such as this one pour more fuel on the fire. It's an international phenomenon with the shipping fanbase found all throughout Japan, China, and the West. The shipping madness has even extended to AMV videos being made for them (which, while common for live-action and film actors, is unheard of for anime voice actors). It even got lampshaded by Tomoaki Maeno in a June 26, 2020 Aniplex radio show that these two somehow keep getting cast in a lot of projects together.
  • Beside the phenomenal Matsuoka-Kayano ship,there also Kōki Uchiyama and Ayane Sakura ship who started to gain more public attention after the infamous Charlotte Radio where both of them flirt with each other which comes very surprising to everyone knowing that the usually stoic and rarely talk Uchiyama become a little bit talkative than usual when around Sakura and because of that many of the fanbase started to ship Uchiyama and Sakura despite they rarely being on the same project after Charlotte ended.
  • Very common in Love Live! as a result of having an idol group of 9 voice actresses acting very friendly with each other every time on camera.

  • Many mutual fans, based on video, blog and pictorial evidence of the two hanging out together, had shipped story-teller Neil Gaiman and musician Amanda Palmer before they officially came out as a couple.
  • Back when it was taking forever for the tenth and eleventh Haruhi Suzumiya novels to come out, a parody fanfic was written in which the author, Tanigawa Nagaru (a man), and the illustrator, Ito Noizi (a woman), saved the world and, of course, were shipped together.

  • American Idol had a rather impressive collection of Real Person Fics (note: an account is needed to even read the forum), many of them romantic in nature. It doesn't seem to have anything past season 11, though... possibly because unlike the original producers, the current ones have no ban on Romance on the Set, which led to the first season of the revival producing multiple couples.
  • Fifth Harmony fans are really into shipping Camila Cabello and Lauren Jauregui (Camren) together even years after Camila left the group. It got to the point that Lauren said it made her uncomfortable.
  • Thanks to the music video for Within Temptation's song "Paradise (What About Us?)" people began shipping Sharon Del Adel and Tarja Turunen (Sharja).
  • Not really actors, but utaitenote  fans enjoy shipping Pokota & Hanatan due to the beautiful love duets they often sing together, even though Hanatan is married to someone else in real life.

  • Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón were the subject of several rumors in the 2000's, due to their chemistry onstage and the fact that they were often cast together.
  • Famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti had often performed together with fellow Italian soprano Mirella Freni, and it helps that they were childhood friends who grew up together in Italy. Not only have the two performed together, but they've recorded albums and done concerts together.
  • Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez and German soprano Diana Damrau have also performed together frequently enough that many fans find their chemistry enjoyable.
  • Ever since they performed together in La traviata in 1951 in Sao Paulo, Greek soprano Maria Callas and Italian tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano became one of the most popular couples in the operatic world of the 20th century, performing and recording together many times afterwards. Callas herself said that he was her favourite singing partner, and there were even rumors of a romance between the both of them.
  • German tenor Jonas Kaufmann and fellow German soprano Anja Harteros have become known as the "Royal Couple" of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, thanks to how regularly they've performed together since 2000, to the point that they've become one of the main attractions of the opera house.
  • Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca has performed frequently with French tenor Roberto Alagna, starting from a production of Carmen in 2009, and have since performed together in many operas. Garanca herself has said that they help each other bring out their acting and singing skills, and are comfortable to perform alongside one another.
  • American tenor Matthew Polenzani and Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien have performed together many times in many different opera productions to the point that they've connected with each other's voice and style, and have become comfortable working together. Despite the fact that their characters usually fight over a woman, they still have a rather magnetic unity together that has earned comparisons to other tenor/baritone partnerships like Jussi Björling/Robert Merrill and even Plácido Domingo/Sherrill Milnes.
  • Since their first performance together in Delibes' Lakmé in Seattle, Australian soprano Joan Sutherland and French-Canadian mezzo-soprano Huguette Tourangeau became frequent collaborators together (along with Richard Bonynge, Sutherland's conductor husband) in many different operas. It also helped that they became very close friends, with Sutherland acting as Tourangeau's mentor from time to time, and to this day, their collaborations are among the most high-profile in opera.
  • American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and the late Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky had performed together enough number of times for them to have become incredibly close friends in real life, and they have had a strong partnership on the stage together. Radvanovsky even playfully called him her "opera boyfriend" at one point, and Hvorostovsky had often expressed admiration for her.
  • Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé and fellow Spanish tenor José Carreras have had a very strong onstage chemistry for the twenty-five years they've been performing together, and have not only sung on the stage, but in concerts and numerous recordings as well. When Caballé passed away, Carreras shared a heartwarming memorial about his friendship with her, reflecting on how much she'd helped him establish her career, as well as recalling many touching moments of their partnership together.
  • Perhaps the Ur-Example of this trope in opera, at the Met at least, were Italian tenor Enrico Caruso and American soprano Geraldine Farrar. After they sang their first La Bohème at Monte Carlo in 1904, they gave frequent performances of Carmen, Tosca, and Manon among other operas, and they even participated in the 1907 Met première of Madame Butterfly. Of course, they were close friends in real life, but they performed frequently enough that rumors argued that they were even closer.
  • In the 1930's, the Met's next biggest box-office combo was Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad and Danish tenor Lauritz Melchior, who sang Wagner's music dramas together so frequently that both became household names, an honor rarely accorded to Wagnerian singers at the time.

  • In the male-dominated world of politics, it comes as little surprise that the reasonably attractive Sarah Palin has become a Launcher of a Thousand Ships. She seems to end up most often with Mitt Romney and Joe Biden. Of course, she's married and has kids, but the whole enterprise was pretty tongue-in-cheek to begin with.
  • The male political Launcher of a Thousand Ships seems to be former Obama Chief of Staff and current Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel. He gets shipped with fellow politicians like Obama and Joe Biden, with pundits like Anderson Cooper and Jon Stewart, and even with fictional characters.
  • Speaking of punditslash, Cooper, Stewart, and Keith Olbermann have been paired together and/or with their political allies or enemies (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly).
  • While covering the Euro debt crisis on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update", Seth Meyers tongue-in-cheekly declared himself a shipper for German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy, dubbing it "Germance" (that is, Germany and France): "How great is this pairing? They couldn't look more like a German woman and a French man if they were cartoons in a Tintin book."
  • It's a common joke to present Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a Tsundere towards people like Elon Musk after they get into public spats.

  • Figure skating shipping and RPF has a huge, passionate and cut-throat fandom, especially big on the slash.
    • Renowned Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are especially popular among the figure skating fandom, if Internet reactions to their Moulin Rouge free program at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics are anything to go by. It helps that they have been skating together right from childhood, and that they have often been described as having the best chemistry during their performances on the ice, and their incredibly affectionate interactions with each other in interviews have also fuelled the fans' imaginations more than anything else.
    • Long before Virtue and Moir were steaming up the ice, there were Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, the British Olympic champion ice dancers of "Bolero" fame who recorded the first and only across-the-board set of perfect scores in the sport's history and are to this day cited as the greatest ice dancing pair to have ever competed. A besotted public has been shipping them continuously for almost forty years, so much so that they were actually asked about it by Piers Morgan in 2013 thanks to their work on the reality show Dancing on Ice.note  One look at them skating together will show you why; their chemistry on the ice has yet to be equalled by anyone.
  • Beach volleyball players aren't generally shipped, but three-time Olympic gold medalists and superstars of the sport Misty May and Kerri Walshnote  broke that mold just like they broke all the others. Over the course of three Olympiads, they became probably the most popular athletic femslash ship outside gymnastics. It helps that they are ridiculously affectionate with each other, openly state that while their athletic partnership may be over (thanks to Misty's retirement) their other partnership most certainly is not, and cheerfully call said partnership a marriage. And the fact that both are married doesn't stop anything.
  • Tennis fans have been having fun for years with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have been known to be on very good terms with each other, with Rafa especially occasionally fanboying his rival, and the Spanish media even officially proclaiming them "sports married." (When they have an argument in public, on the other hand, the media starts crying about a "rift."). The Guardian also briefly forayed into tennis shipping when Andy Murray, then split from his longtime girlfriend, and his fellow Brit Laura Robson first ventured into mixed doubles together, and were adorable at it, though things were hindered by Robson having barely turned 16, and it seems to have died down after Murray and his girlfriend reconciled.

  • The cast of almost every modern ensemble musical gets a great deal of this, but American and its tour definitely stands out. In the original cast there's real life couple Leslie McDonel and Van Hughes, who are both on tour. The shipping isn't as crazy as in other fandoms, but there are definitely wild supporters of Alysha Umphress and Theo Stockman.
  • Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin have been best friends since Evita, and have a show that they tour together. As a result, a lot of fans seem to ship them, despite the fact that they are both married.
  • Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess - the Phantom and Christine Daaé for The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies - has a sizable fanbase. (Their portmanteau is Rierra.) Ramin is aware of the fandom and tweeted about it, and the shippers went crazy when the two of them dueted on the song Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars in Sierra's vlog. It is also apparently a requirement that they cameo in each other's vlogs and sing together. (Ramin appeared on both Daaé Days and Going Bridal, Sierra appeared in Vlogger 24601).
  • The Prom: Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla, who play onstage Official Couple Emma and Alyssa, are often shipped together by fans. Their strong friendship, physical comfort with each other, and goofy antics (including a tendency to kiss each other in public for fun), as well as both actors confirming their bisexuality, have not gone unnoticed by fans.
  • The Takarazuka Revue fandom does a lot of this. Apparently wanting two actresses to get it on doesn't figure into said fandom's long, long list of things that are disrespectful, as long as you don't use vulgar language while you're at it.
  • Certain fans ship Chenzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, due to the two of them being the original Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked. Despite the fact that Idina is married with kids. This video (specifically when she kisses Kristin before her own husband, Taye Diggs...) doesn't help. They have their tons of Les Yay, due to their close friendship.

    Web Original 
  • Carmilla the Series:
    • Elise Bauman and Natasha Negovanlis, who play Laura and Carmilla, get shipped enough to have a Portmanteau Couple Name: Negovanman. The fact that they're good friends (and openly bi) in real life helps.
    • On the non canon sides of things, the actresses who play Lola and Mattie — Annie Briggs and Sophia Walker, respectively — get this as well, though it's not as ubiquitous as Negovanman is. Again, a ship name exists: Wriggs.
  • Channel Awesome
    • RPFs such as Doug/Lindsay (which is usually a lot sweeter and fluffier than Critic/Chick, Lindsay/Nella and Noah/Lewis show up in the Channel Awesome Kink Meme from time to time. The people responsible are doing it mostly for laughs, though.
    • Doug is the Launcher of a Thousand Ships of the RPF portion of the fandom. As he's freely admitted to be The Tease, and owns the hoyay page, it's considered acceptable though. Plus, like Liz below, his wife is a Yaoi Fangirl as well, and he's joked that the Slash Fic has helped their marriage.
    • Part of the reason Iron Liz was accepted by the female TGWTG fandom is because she has admitted to reading (and enjoying) some of the fanfiction about her boyfriend and his fictional counterpart Linkara.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy is a canonical paring, one of the most beloved in literature, and fans of the show embraced re-imagined Lizzie and Darcy. The leads appeared in many hang-outs and they did together several interviews. The imagination of avid fans ran wild in pairing Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh, even though the two told them mildly that they didn't wish it. As if that ever stopped crazed fangirls and fanboys.
  • Thanks to their tendency to jokingly play up their Ho Yay with one another, there is slash fic of The Runaway Guys (mostly Emile/Jon, though Josh shows up once in a while). Like the Channel Awesome example above, though, it's mostly for fun. Since the guys do keep an eye on their fandom (and have thrown out a few Fandom Nods here and there), most such works are prefaced with something like "I'm not implying they're dating in real life, and if you see this, Emile/Jon/Josh, please don't kill me."
  • Fans of Rooster Teeth ship Gavin Free and Barbara Dunkelman due to their chemistry. The two have frequently explained that they are not interested in each other and Gavin is dating Meg Turney, but that doesn't stop the fans.
  • Based on most of the comments of their collabs, many fans of both Brian Hull and Brizzy Voices ship them, and even wishing they'd date already. It does help that when they do collab videos, a lot of them love their chemistry. All of this despite both of them saying on their Twitch streams that they don't see each other like that, and are more content being just working partners, and Brian opting to find someone he'll love outside of the entertainment and voice acting industry.
    Sjdeanrpb: There is one way to solve your problems of being a bachelor. DATE BRIZZY!!!!!!!

    Western Animation