Gay Panic is when Moral Guardians object to gay/bi characters prominently dating, kissing, holding hands, or even existing. After this has been airing without controversy for a while, suddenly, Executive Meddling or Executive Veto, or both, will come into play to start appeasing the Moral Guardians.
The result is that Suddenly Sexuality turns into Bait-and-Switch Lesbians, Hide Your Lesbians, Alternate Character Interpretation, Bury Your Gays, Character Derailment into easily-removed Depraved Homosexual or Psycho Lesbian archetypes, or just being Put on a Bus or Dropped a Bridge on Him for the non-straight characters, their love interests or both.
Not to be confused with the "gay panic defense", closely related to/formerly known as to the Guardsman's Defence wherein a person who has committed a gay bashing or even worse will aim for a reduced sentence in court by claiming that he feared for his backdoor virginity.
- Borderline example: Rotor and Cobar's relationship in the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog story arc Mobius: X Years Later was approved of by Sega, but with the condition that it be kept low-key to prevent public backlash. Sadly, it was made too subtle for readers, forcing the reveal to be made as Word of Gay, and a later change in head writer has pretty much assured the relationship will never crop up again.
- It's widely believed that Alan Moore's Top 10 prequel The 49ers went straight to graphic novel publication, despite obvious cliffhanger endings for serialisation, because DC was afraid that the serial comics core audience would react badly to the prominence of an m/m romance in the story. Especially a romance between a grown man and a 17 year-old (while the age of consent in the United Kingdom where Moore hails from is 16, it's as high as 18 in several American states). But, thanks to Moore's writing, it comes across as sweet, and the characters themselves address it.
- Responding to complaints over homosexual subtext between Batman and Robin, DC Comics introduced Batwoman. Ironically, Batwoman would later be written as a lesbian.
- As noted in Hide Your Lesbians, Jim Shooter is pretty infamous for the fact he instituted a 'no gays' clause in Marvel's books, blocking any writer that wanted to introduce a gay romance. While most examples, such as Northstar, Mystique, and Destiny, were later outed as gay, bisexual, and lesbian respectively, or at least, in the case of Storm and her Romantic Two-Girl Friendship partner Yukio, hinted at incredibly strongly, its notable that Wolverine, a character who was hit with this and went on to become Marvel's poster boy, has never been hinted to being gay or bisexual since (not counting the version of him from an alternate universe).
- Axel Alonso was accused of this when he insisted in an interview that the Marvel Universe version of Hercules was straight, when some classical sources had depicted him having sexual relationships with males and some earlier Marvel comics had themselves depicted him as Ambiguously Bi.
- In Dracula (1931), the studio did not want the scene where Dracula attacks Renfield to be filmed due to the perceived gay subtext of the situation. A memo was sent to the director stating "Dracula is only to attack women".
- David Gerrold seems to have the worst luck with this trope.
- The Martian Child was a semi-autobiographical novel by David Gerrold about a gay sci-fi author who ends up adopting a kid who thinks he's a Martian. When it's finally adapted for the screen and John Cusack is cast as the author, the producers decide to make the main character a widower rather than gay.
- His proposed Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Blood and Fire," which would have depicted a gay couple amongst Federation forces, was notoriously dropkicked, by the late Gene Roddenberry's lawyer according to "Forgotten Trek". It has since been made into a Star Trek: Phase II fan episode, with gayness intact.
- Captain America: Civil War has been accused of this for shoehorning in a random kiss between Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter. While Sharon Carter is his canon love interest in the comics, in the previous film Steve had no female love interest, had a Meet Cute with another male character, and spent the movie obsessing over his Brainwashed and Crazy male best friend, making the kiss seem like the film's way of saying "No homo."
- Star Trek (2009) has nearly every main character allude to the fact that they're straight, aside from Chekov and Sulu. Kirk beds a Green-Skinned Space Babe and makes several passing glances at women, Scotty makes a joke about a ship, using a euphemism for breasts, Spock has a scene where he makes out with Uhura, and in Bones's introductory scene, he mentions his ex-wife and their messy divorce.
- As said in the Plinkett Review, it seemed like the movie was making sure the main cast all had a case of the "Not-Gays".
- This, however, is later nicely averted with Sulu in Star Trek Beyond who's revealed to have a husband and daughter.note Granted, it only took two more movies.
- Most of Chekov's romances appear to be female, human and alien.
- This was suspected on Grey's Anatomy when the character of Erica Hahn was dropped from the show entirely (without even an explanation of the character's absence) due to Executive Veto with suspiciously bad timing. However, Callie subsequently got a new girlfriend.
- The O.C. flirted with Marissa being bisexual. Then Alex, her squeeze, turned out to be a Psycho Lesbian, and she fled back into the bare arms of Ryan.
- In Alias, the original plan was to end the relationship between Francie and Charlie by having Charlie reveal that he's realized he's gay. This was changed to him having a heterosexual affair with little warning. In the last season, it certainly seems from Rachel's pointed statement that Tom isn't her type that she was intended to be gay, but quickly hooks up with Sark.
- On Dead Like Me, it was common knowledge (at least, to George) that her college professor dad was having an affair with one of his students; however, in Bryan Fuller's original plan, it was going to be revealed that it was a male student. There are hints of it in the pilot (George questions how close one of her dad's friends is getting when "comforting" him at her funeral), but Executive Meddling brute forced it into being an affair with a female student, one of the many conflicts with the suits that led to Fuller leaving the show.
- This is why FOX passed on an American version of Torchwood, because Russell T. Davies refused to turn Jack (an omnisexual man last seen in a relationship with another man) straight.
- In-Universe example: Santana from Glee manages to throw one of these against herself. When she and Brittany, her BFF and occasional sex-buddy, are necking, Brittany brings up wanting to sing Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window" with Santana, who promptly freaks out and hurriedly explains that she is not making out with her because she is in love with her and wants to make "ladybabies" with her; but because her sort-of boyfriend is in juvie and she "needs something warm under [her] to help digest [her] food" Hmm... struck a nerve there, Santana?
- In "Sexy" Santana reveals that her previous panic and bitchiness was just a way to hide from feelings that scared her. She admits to Brittany that she loves her, but Brittany gently turns her down because she doesn't want to hurt Artie.
- And so does Karofsky, whose Gay Panic drives him almost insane, torn between terrorizing the only person who knows his secret - Kurt - and making disturbing attempts at flirting with him.
- The first season of Heroes had some issues with this regarding Claire's friend Zack. Zack dropped heavy hints that he has reason to empathize with Claire's "freakishness," and was apparently supposed to come out... at least, until someone (it's uncertain whom) tried to shout that development down, as the actor was up for the part of John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Nothing ever came of Zack's sexuality, and the fact that the actor has now played a bisexual in a Gregg Araki movie is one of life's little ironies.
- In Britain back in The '80s there was a whole sorry slew of panic, including a Sun banner headline It's East Benders! after two males kissed on Eastenders.
- In the 1960s Batman series, this was also the thinking behind the invention of Aunt Harriet. Given that this resulted in stories in which Bruce and Dick are constantly making excuses to her as to why they're always disappearing together since she doesn't know about their secret life, it backfired rather spectacularly.
- This was the initial reasoning behind the character of Ziyal on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—Garak was just a little too into Bashir for the executives' comfort. He never got together with her, and seemed frankly baffled by her romantic feelings toward him, so the jury's out on how effective she was.
- In the early 80s, All My Children attempted a gay storyline when a character seeking counseling after her divorce became attracted to her therapist. Negative fan reaction forced writers to abort the storyline and have the woman's counselor help her realize that she wasn't really gay, just lonely and displaying something known as transference (a phenomenon in which one develops feelings for their doctor).
- In 1996, teacher Michael Delaney experienced this in and out universe when he had to fight for his job due to his sexual orientation. After he won his case and the furor settled, while he gained a boyfriend, no intimacy between them was ever witnessed.
- In 2007, lesbian Bianca (who, thanks to Society Marches On, was NOT subjected to this when she came out), struggled with her attraction to a man who identified as female and was in the process of transitioning. Annoyed viewers felt that the writers were in fact displaying this trope and trying to avoid writing a love story between two women. The poor writing and acting didn't help and the storyline fizzled out soon.
- On The City, a revamp/Spin-Off of the Soap Opera Loving, the gorgeous model Azure C. was humiliated when a tabloid magazine revealed that she had been born male. Negative fan reaction and the actress's poor performance nixed the storyline very quickly, though the character was given a happy ending, Riding into the Sunset with her boyfriend who had initially freaked out upon learning her history, but eventually accepted her.
- Supposedly, the creation of Joker's "girlfriend" Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series was to still any fears that The Joker might have a bit of a crush on Batman. The fact that he completely ignores the attractive woman throwing herself at him to focus on his obsession with Batsy-poo, and Harley and Poison Ivy's implied Les Yay, actually made the situation more ambiguous.
- Paul Dini and Bruce Timm later clarified this. Harley was originally created due to a plot which would have involved the Joker attacking a police gathering by Jumping Out of a Cake. The writers thought the network would object to the scene (given the sexual nature of the "girl jumping out of the cake" trope in real life), so they decided to give the Joker a female sidekick who could replace and impersonate the real dancer inside the cake. However, this all ended up moot as the network actually ended up okaying the original idea for the Joker to be the one to hop out.
- In The Legend of Korra, there was quite a controversy regarding Korra and Asami ending up together.
- Steven Universe contained a Fusion Dance between two female characters that was censored in the UK, with the most intimate parts of it removed. Cartoon Network UK revealed the reason for the edit was to ensure that it was "more comfortable for local kids and parents"
- In American Dad!, one episode had Stan be completely against the mere idea of a child being raised by a gay couple that he went on deep end to ensure a baby wouldn't be with their gay neighbors. This becomes even worse when an understanding female gay couple tries to show him things can work out, but he completely shuts them off and kidnaps their children behind their backs. Ironically, the two children he kidnapped sounded just like Steve and Hayley, except with the roles reversed, and this is what finally makes Stan realize what their mothers were talking about.