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Ghost Shipping

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Ghost Shipping is what happens when fans of a work Ship an active character with a canonically dead character. By dead, we mean really dead, not Only Mostly Dead or The Undead.

We do make some exceptions, of course. If the shipping is set before the character dies, it isn't an example. If the shipping is set after the character is raised in canon, it isn't an example. This trope only has examples for when fans have a character currently dead by canon shipped with an active character.

When this Audience Reaction gets put into fan works, a number of tropes can develop:

  • The Lost Lenore, as the living character does not accept the loss of their love as reason sufficient to end their relationship.
  • Schrödinger's Cast, as the fanfic began before the original work killed the character, and continues with an active (but dead in canon) character.
  • Resurrected Romance, as the dead character loves too much to leave, and finds a way back.
  • Necromantic, as the living character cannot allow their love to remain dead, and found a way to bring them back.

Similar to Boy Meets Ghoul, which covers canonically undead characters in a relationship with canonically living characters. Not to be confused with Ghost Ship; those are mysteriously abandoned vessels.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Inuyasha: The titular character is still in love with dead priestess Kikyo. He then meets her reincarnation, Kagome. So regardless of when fans ship him with Kikyo or Kagome, he gets shipped with two characters who are technically the same person. Later in the story, Kikyo is resurrected, negating this trope during that time.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Any shipping of Priest Seto and Kisara after the latter's Heroic Sacrifice. (Kisara is the spirit who made the Blue-Eyes White Dragon). This includes most forms of Seto Kaiba/Kisara, unless it's presented as a Reincarnation Romance instead.
  • Death Note: While originally not even possible given the series' definitive, hard-line stance on death, supplementary material and OVAS has allowed fans a way to ship those who used the Death Note.
  • Ginban Kaleidoscope: Tazusa gets paired up with Pete in the fandom, and it is one of the most convincing ghost ships.
  • Kagerou Project: Shintarou was hinted to have feelings for Ayano, but she was Driven to Suicide early in the story. The pairing is one of the popular ships in the fandom.
  • Fans of Sonic X love to ship Tails with Cosmo, who dies in the final episode. After being killed by Tails, while confessing his love for her, well, at least in the Japanese version.
  • School-Live!:
  • Two of the most shipped couples in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) anime are this. Ignoring the official couples, Hughes/Roy and Alfons/Edward are both popular despite the fact Hughes dies early in the series and Alfons dies at the end of Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Even though Kanae died a few years prior to the start of the series, a few supplementary materials have suggested that Sanemi had a crush on her, such as the second fanbook having Gyomei say he likes her (in addition to him making a similar assumption about Mitsuri and Obanai) and revealing that he frequently talks to Shinobu due to her being Kanae’s sister. Needless to say, the shippers were pleased to hear this.
  • My Hero Academia: Aizawa/Oboro has a following as does various Rooftop Squad (the group of Aizawa,Present Mic,Midnight, Oboro and sometimes Tensei Iida ) polycule ships. Aizawa/Midnight counts too after the Paranormal Liberation War arc.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man continues to be shipped with Gwen Stacy after she was killed in 1972 story The Night Gwen Stacy Died and, astonishingly, managed to stay dead. Her biggest supporters are people who dislike Mary Jane in the Peter-Gwen-MJ love triangle decades after the subplot was dropped and Peter settled into a stable relationship with MJ.
  • Robin (1993): People kept shipping the very popular couple of Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown even after she was brutally murdered by Black Mask, partially because there was a lot of anger about the way she was killed off. Eventually she was retconned as having had her death faked by Dr. Thompkins for her protection and she and Tim make no secret they're still attracted to each other when she returns to Gotham.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In The Hobbit film fandom, Thorin/Bilbo is the biggest ship but has the tiny problem of Thorin canonically dying at the end of the Battle of Five Armies. Fanfic writers solve this by either setting their fics in an Everybody Lives alternate timeline or writing an afterlife reunion between the two after Bilbo's death.
  • It: Chapter Two spawned a ton of Richie/Eddie fics that did their best to work around the obstacle of one member of the pairing (Eddie) being killed off in the film.

  • In Warrior Cats, the StarClan and the Dark Forest cats can still interact with the living, so many fans have made pairings based on this. Examples include Firestar/Spottedleaf, Ivypool/Hawkfrost, and Jayfeather/Brightspirit. And then there's Hollyleaf/Fallen Leaves, which is borderline canon, partially because Hollyleaf doesn't know that Fallen Leaves is actually dead.
  • In Dear Evan Hansen and the play it associated from, many in the fandom ship Evan and Connor despite the fact that Connor is dead. The fact that Connor's ghost saves Evan's life late in the novel certainly helps.
  • In Good Omens fandom, Hastur/Ligur has a number of fans in spite of Ligur being graphically melted into nonexistence by Crowley's holy water bucket trap. Some fics try to justify bringing Ligur back to life with the reasoning that Adam restoring the Earth back to the way it was before the almost-Apocalypse might have meant undoing the deaths of everyone who died during it, but others don't bother with an explanation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural: Since Sam has a bad case of Cartwright Curse and the two characters who are the closest to him and actually stay alive for any length of time are 1) his brother and 2) an angel who's shipped with his brother 90% of the time, many people have taken to shipping him with Jess or Gabriel despite Jess dying in the first episode and (unlike most other characters on the show) never being brought back to life and Gabriel dying in season 5 after only a couple of interactions with him (he does make a couple of reappearances in later seasons, but many Sam/Gabriel fics were written long before these reappearances that ignored or handwaved away his death).
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Thanks to the episode "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" fans ship La'an and the alternative timeline James T. Kirk she traveled to twenty-first century tomorrow with. They fell in love, he dies tragically and she even reached out his counterpart in her timeline, only to realize it wasn't her James T. Kirk. Normally The Stoic, La'an bursts into tears. Multiple fan fics or this pairing appeared within weeks of the episodes premiere, as well as some where she eventually makes a connection with her timeline's Kirk, but that wouldn't be this trope.
  • Yellowjackets: One of the most popular season one ships is Shauna/Jackie. It continued to have a fanbase even after the season finale killed off Jackie. So instead, a lot of fans have taken to writing Fix Fics where she never died and instead got together with Shauna or even just shipping Shauna with Jackie's literal ghost. This is helped by the fact that the present day Shauna hallucinates a vision of Jackie's ghost.

  • During some runs in NTWF Mafia, deaths and shipping go hand in hand between players. The first run has Meowington/Ariana and Robyn/Icon. The Aifam run had Kylie/Lucille and Prof. Bardsley/Diana Pallada.
  • In PJO Facebook Shenanigans, which is based on Percy Jackson and the Olympians, one pairing that formed was Hades/Maria.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novel 
  • Akai Ito has two possible routes that qualify: Yumei or Nozomi. Nozomi becomes human again in the Happy Ending, though.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend, one of the potential candidates is Nageki, a quiet dove who has died prior to the story. He inhabits the library as a ghost.
  • Mia Fey dies near the start of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, but that has not stopped shippers one bit. She is most commonly shipped with Phoenix Wright, her sister, or her former boyfriend, Godot. The whole "spirit medium" thing probably helps.

  • Homestuck: Almost any pairing with Aradia post mortem is this trope, with the canon example of Aradia/Equius.
    • There's also shipping living characters with those in the dreambubbles, the pseudo-afterlife filled with "dream ghosts."
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Any pairing involving Tuuri. The fact that the work gives every sign of involving a Crossover Cosmology of two mythologies in which Back from the Dead isn't completely unheard of doesn't help matters.

    Western Animation