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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.

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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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Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man continues to be shipped with Gwen Stacy after she was killed off in 1972 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: People kept shipping the very popular couple of Tim and Stephanie 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. Convergence shows her and Tim finally getting back together.

     Film — Animation 
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    Film — Live Action 
  • In The Hobbit film fandom, Thorin/Bilbo is the Fan-Preferred Couple 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.

    Literature 
  • 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).

    Roleplay 
  • 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 
  • In the Dating Sim Kingdom Days, Rose, the protagonist, can be paired up with Daniel, a ghost.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mipha being Dead to Begin With has not stopped certain factions of the fanbase from shipping her with Link upon the revelation that she fell in love with him before she was killed by Waterblight Ganon and was even planning on proposing to him.
  • Maria Robotnik has been dead for decades at the start of Sonic the Hedgehog but there is a strong shipper base for her and Shadow. This is despite the fact that canon essentially depicts Maria as Shadow's surrogate sister.

    Visual Novel 
  • 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.
  • Akai Ito has two possible routes that qualify: Yumei or Nozomi. Nozomi becomes human again in the Happy Ending, though.

    Webcomics 
  • 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 unheared of doesn't help matters.

    Western Animation 

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