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Launcher of a Thousand Ships

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The fandom's not letting go.note 
Image by MabyMin. Used with permission.
"I'm beginning to think he doesn't want me to ship him with everypony."
Silver Quill [referring to Big MacIntosh]

When shipping, some fans have One True Pairing that they cannot bear to break (or several of those), but some have just a Launcher Of A Thousand Ships character. It's the character that goes with everything, or, in this case, everyone. Actually, come to think of it, everything.

For example, if someone in the Harry Potter fandom says their Launcher is Snape, they will happily read Fanfics featuring the Snape/Harry ship as well as fanfics with Snape/Hermione, Snape/Lupin, Snape/Lily, or even exotic pairings such as Snape/Legolas or Snape/Megatron. Anything goes as long as the Launcher is included.

There is also a tendency for the entire fandom to consider a character a Launcher Of A Thousand Ships; notably, the Heroes fandom almost always refers to Peter Petrelli this way, given that he's paired up with damn near everybody in the show, including Nathan (his brother), Claire (his niecenote ) and even his own future self.

Also known as the "ship launcher", the "fandom bicycle" (everyone gets a ride), the "cargo container" (gets shipped to everyone), or the "little black dress" (looks good on anyone). The last shouldn't be confused with the Little Black Dress trope, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

This usually has to do with Wish-Fulfillment: either the character is a lusted-after character and everyone likes to pair them with whoever reminds them of themselves, or the character is relatable and the fans see them as some sort of Audience Surrogate and they are paired up with different characters that the fans lust after so they can project themselves onto this character. If there are enough of these in one work, it becomes a case of Gotta Ship 'Em All.

Common traits tend to include lack of a canon love interest (or, if they have one, the show delays resolving their romance as long as possible or downplays it in general), interaction with enough of the cast to form some kind of rapport, or just general popularity meaning that most people have some crazy idea of where they should go. It also tends to snowball easily; if there's a lot of competing ships for this character, then suddenly more fringe pairings start to look a lot more reasonable.

The Trope Namer is Christopher Marlowe's version of the legend of Faust. In reference to Helen of Troy, Faust asks, "Is this the face that launched a thousand ships/And burnt the topless towers of Illium?" No relation to the Rachel Platten single "1,000 Ships".

Also see and related to Fan-Preferred Couple. For the canon-equivalent, see Chick Magnet.

Example subpages:

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Other examples:

  • In any band with exactly one female, you can bet that she will get shipped with most or all of her bandmates. Examples include:
    • Tarja of Nightwish (later replaced by Anette).
      • Tuomas has been paired up with every other man in the band. In all fairness, he DOES make a really lovely and cute Uke.
  • Brendon Urie. He's generally characterized as so sweet and loving and openhearted and completely faily, it's hard not to pair him with anyone. Especially anyone male. In fairness, this, this, and this would just be wasted otherwise.
  • The disputed rumored bisexuality of John Lennon has made him the focus (and fan bicycle) of about 99.9% of slashy fanfiction in the squickier areas of the Beatles fandom.
  • Gerard Way. He's been paired with: all the members of his band (yes, including his brother and himself), Bert Mccracken of The Used, Billie Joe Armstrong, Brendon Urie and Ryan Ross, Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump, and even the Tenth Doctor. The fandom either doesn't know or doesn't care about his marriage with Lyn-Z Ballato.
  • Miley Cyrus has been paired with everyone who has shared a photo with her and possibly some who haven't.
  • Subverted and played straight with Patrick Stump. Subverted in the slash end of bandom in that he's paired with Pete Wentz 95% of the time, played straight in that in het circles, he's paired with nearly every female in the bandom scene with any level of significance (even the ex of the guy he's paired up with the most)
    • On the other hand, Pete Wentz is arguably the de facto bandom slash shipping bicycle.
  • Kaito. My God, Kaito. He has been paired with Miku, Meiko, Gakupo, Gakuko, Luka, Gumi, Ia, Len, Rin, Kiyoteru, Kaiko, Haku, Aoki, Lily, Leon, Neru...the list goes on. And on. And on. AND ON.
    • Len is no slacker, either...he's been paired with Lui, Gakupo, Kaito, Miku, Rin, Gumi, Teto, Ia, Neru, Lenka...and those are only the ones this troper can think of off the top of their head. Though, Vocaloid being itself, everyone is this trope. Everyone. Up to and including Yuki, who has been shipped with seven different characters. This isn't much for Vocaloid, except that Yuki is nine.
  • Selena Gomez has been shipped with almost everyone from the Disney Channel in the 2000s, the most popular ones being her with Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, and David Henrie. She's also been shipped with a lot of other musicians who have nothing to do with Disney such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Zedd, and Ariana Grande.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jeff Hardy is the Launcher of a Thousand Ships of pro wrestling and has been so for years. Male, female, giant, midget, relative, he apparently does (or far more likely, is done by) everyone. He's "extreme" and grown up into quite a manly specimen, but is still remembered and seen by many as a sweet little fresh-faced kid who does gymnastics, and also the fact that he's a raving Cloudcuckoolander, means he can pretty well go any direction you need him to without him being out of character.
  • The most prevalent launchers a couple decades later are probably the three former members of The Shield: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns. Aside from complementing each other in ways vital to their in-ring success back when they were a team, these three are also different elements of Mr. Fanservice in and of themselves, due to the variance in both their looks and their characters as well as the way they all carry themselves. They've been shipped with each other (especially Seth and Dean), at least half the Divas, and even some of the other male superstars on the WWE roster based on character relativity and past interactions.

  • Cats: Mr. Mistoffelees, though usually paired with Rum Tum Tugger, has been placed with every single male and female character in the show.
  • Elisabeth: Besides the canon ships of Death/Elisabeth and Death/Rudolf, a metric ton of crossover fiction has been written involving Death and other characters, bridging Elisabeth and other fandoms such as Tanz Der Vampire, Mozart!, and even Yuri!!! on Ice. "Everybody dances with Death", indeed. Helps that Death has been portrayed by a succession of attractive actors/actresses around the world, and these actors tend to go on to play similar roles in other shows. It's quite common for Deaths to play Count von Krolock in Tanz, for example.
  • Alexander Hamilton gets paired by the fandom with literally everyone else from the musical; most notably Eliza, Angelica, Laurens, Burr and Jefferson. Helped by the fact that the show creator has confirmed that in his mind, Hamilton is bisexual. He's even been paired with the Doctor, thanks to an offhand remark made about him in one episode that aired well before Hamilton was even written.
  • Eponine from Les Misérables has been paired with Marius, Enjolras, Cosette, Montparnasse, Javert, Valjean, and every member of Les Amis ABC.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role has Percy, Vex'ahlia, and Vax'ildan.
    • Percy has so far been paired with Vex, Keyleth, Lillith, Pike, Vax, and Raishan
    • Vex has been paired with Zahra, Percy, Pike, Grog, and Jarrett
    • Vax has been paired with Keyleth, Gilmore, Percy, Grog, and has had some Foe Yay Shipping with Lord and Lady Briarwood.
    • In Campaign 2 it's Jester. Paired with pretty much everybody but especially Fjord, Caleb and Beau.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared's Fandom often put Tony through this even before the Kickstarter came out by shipping him with any of the three pupppets other than Sketchbook. Now with the series finished and a whole bunch of other characters to ship with, it seems that the fandom has already revved up it's engines and shipped him with either Colin, Shrignold, or Red Guy.
  • In the webcomic The Dreamer, we have Bea. Officially with Alan in the 18th — century and with Ben in the 21st — century, may have had a past with Alex, could be paired up with her cousin John, and also with Freddy, just for the hell of it.
  • El Goonish Shive has Tedd. He has a canon romance with Grace, and more than a little subtext with Elliot (including them dating in at least two alternate universes) which also frees up Ellen. Tedd's had plenty of moments with Susan and Sarah (with a decent amount of shippers for each of them with him), and there has been more than one Ho Yay bit with Tony. Some stretching on his former anxieties around Justin and a romantic interpretation of his moments with Catalina is all it really takes to put Tedd with almost anyone his age in the cast. Except Nanase. Usually.
  • Evan from Everyman HYBRID gets this treatment. He's also the show's Mr. Fanservice despite being what would, on network television, be Hollywood Homely. His obsession with knives probably attracts more fans to him despite his constant teetering on the edge of going Ax-Crazy. Kicking it up a notch, Evan is quite aware, in-character, that Slash Fic gets written about him; he and the rest of the cast find it flattering on some level.
  • Fandomstuck: The Leviathan Fandom. Her interests so far have included Dangan Ronpa, Minecraft, My Little Pony, Chaos, and Bones. It doesn't do very well for her emotional state.
  • Conrad Achenleck from Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has strong Ho Yay with Doc Worth, but also gets paired up with werewolf girl Toni, main character Hanna, and vampire hunter Abner who hasn't even appeared in the comic yet.
  • Alastor from Hazbin Hotel seems to be quite popular amongst shippers, despite the character being canonically asexual/aromantic. He's been shipped with Charlie, Angel Dust, Vaggie (despite the latter being a lesbian), Husk, Niffty, Sir Pentious, Mimzy, Rosie, Valentino...not to mention the many, many Original Characters, plus the crossover ships with characters like Bill Cipher and Lilith Clawthorne (ANOTHER canonically aroace character).
  • Marzipan is the only female of the Homestar Runner cast (not counting the Teen Girl Squad). Do the math.
  • Homestuck has a lot of pairings between its numerous characters, thanks to its very active shipping community and abundance of Ship Tease. There is so much shipping that even within canon, Nepeta maintains a shipping wall where she keeps track of every single possible pairing between her friends. But even with the sheer number of pairings out there, some characters are... disproportionately represented:
    • John is this, partially due to him being the initial main character. John/Rose, John/Jade (Even though it's been revealed that that pairing is Brother–Sister Incest), John/Dave, John/Karkat, John/Terezi, and John/Vriska are just a few of his pairings.
    • Because most Trolls are bisexual and their species has four different kinds of romance, by nature they tend to get shipped around more than most of the other characters. Karkat is particularly prevalent; In canon, ship teases include Terezi, Nepeta, Jade, John, Dave, and Meenah. Sollux and Gamzee, being his closest friends, are also popular choices. The popular fandom Song Parody "Karkalicious" jokes about this and even has Karkat say "the majority of pairings had better include me!" in one verse.
    • The fandom doesn't exactly keep Dave to one person either. Aformentioned Dave/John, as well as Dave/Jade and Dave/Rose are way more popular than their "compliments" Rose/Jade, John/Rose, and John/Jade respectively.note  He's also been paired up with all of the original twelve trolls and new kids at least once each (some considerably more than others, like Karkat and Terezi), and between that and some of the more crack choices, it got to the point where the comic's author had the Big Bad write a terrible comic-within-a-comic which depicts Dave as a supposed ladies' man with a decently sized harem.
  • NoPixel has Bryce Miller, who has been romantically linked to Pixie Plum, Emma Gaine, Andi Jones, Mercy Moon, Elena Vega, and Erin Cox, with each ship earning its fair share of fans. It's become a running joke that whenever Bryce even looks at another woman, his player LGX's Twitch chat will immediately ship them.
  • In Off the Page and into Life, Gail/Anyone is fair game. Helps that she's bisexual and a Magnetic Hero.
    • She and Henry have been in a Slap-Slap-Kiss relationship since the start.
    • Sam has had a crush on her since they were kids.
    • She and Tim are intensely close, and have kissed before.
    • She and Jackson have dated and still have feelings for each other.
    • She's obviously pretty admiring of Megan. (The mun has gone on record saying Gail has a crush on her.)
    • She briefly flirts with Aaron before finding out he has a girlfriend.
    • She and Irene got very close, very fast, and have kissed (albeit to prove a point).
    • She and Terrence occasionally veer into Foe Romance Subtext with their arguing. Plus they both like Henry, leading to many One True Threesome jokes.
  • The Order of the Stick fans will ship anyone with anything, but the Crack Pairings thread keeps coming back to Vaarsuvius for some reason.
    • In fan art (and in fic to a lesser extent) Miko Miyazaki is frequently drawn, written, or requested, despite her status as The Scrappy with a large portion of the fandom and cast — and again, she's paired with everyone (including The Snarl).
  • Dodger. Her vlogs never mention her love life, probably because if they did her entire fanbase would start a war among itself. That doesn't stop people from shipping her with every other TGS member in the LA area...and one in Chicago.
  • Hannelore "Hanners" Elliot Chatham from Questionable Content gets paired with... oh, you know the drill (a lot of her cast members new and old gets this treatment, too. Hanners isn't the main character).
  • In Red vs. Blue fandom, it's Church and Grif (Church/Grif is fairly popular), and to a lesser extent, Caboose.
  • RWBY: Everyone from Team RWBY (plus Jaune) has been paired with every conceivable character, including each other. In fact, polygamy fics where all of RWBY is dating each other (which, yes, generally includes half-siblings Ruby and Yang) aren't exactly uncommon. Generally, Ruby and Jaune tend to get this treatment the most, despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that Ruby is a Chaste Hero and Jaune started out as a Casanova Wannabe only to end up with a Lost Lenore.
    • Blake Belladonna is a close third in this category, though her getting this label admittedly makes more sense than Ruby and Jaune. Of the characters she's most frequently paired with, four of them (Yang, Sun, Ilia, and Adam) are canonically smitten with her.
    • As of Volume 7, Qrow Branwen began to join the fun, with his most popular pairings including Clover, Ironwood, Ozpin, Winter, Robyn, Summer and Taiyang.
  • Played for Laughs with Dr. Bright of the SCP Foundation. Needless to say, if an SCP exists, chances are someone’s made a joke about Bright wanting to have sex with it. Unless said SCP is SCP-590 or SCP-321. SCP-1471, SCP-682, and SCP-166 are often his most common victims, but other examples exist. Such as SCP-294.
  • Rosa Fiametta of Survival of the Fittest falls into the 'fandom bicycle' category, as in recent times, pairings bandied about have included: Bounce, Ilario and Frankie Fiametta (Twincest, yay!), Alexia Morgan, Princess Cerberus (a joke character), Adam Tenser, Blood Boy and Bobby Jacks. This isn't even counting the several canonical relationships she's had.
    • Naturally, the most requested character on the (relatively new) SOTF Kink Meme is Rosa. It's reached the point where there's now a rule about requesting Rosa, because she had a truckload of requests compared to other characters.
  • As far as shipping is concerned, That Guy with the Glasses has Benzaie, Spoony, the Nostalgia Chick, Linkara, and the Nostalgia Critic.
    • In Kink Meme news, while everyone's had a lot of action, probably the ultimate fandom mattress is now the Critic. A fair assumption, seeing as how apart from his usual pairings, as of writing he's had a gangbang on his desk, been shipped with an animated gargoyle, been the recipent of tentacle-lovin' and got kissed by the Lady Gaga from the Bad Romance video. Yes, really.
      • His actor, Doug Walker, is doing pretty well for himself too. Mostly because he's flirted with nearly everyone on the site for funsies.
    • It doesn't help matters that Spoony/Chick, Spoony/Googles, Spoony/Benzaie, Spoony/Critic, Spoony/Joe and Spoony/Sage are all canon.
      • Add to that Spoony/The Other Guy, Spoony/Paw, Spoony/Snob, Spoony/Ed Glaser, Spoony/The Last Angry Geek, Spoony/Matt Briner, and both Spoony/Pushing Up Roses and Spoony/Bargo were hinted at. And if crossovers count, Doctor Insano got it on with Doctor Holocaust and Captain Awesome.
  • Kim Richards from the Yogscast. The majority of Yogs are male, and since Hannah was (until 2015) in the Official Couple with Lewis and Zoey is a lesbian, Kim has been shipped with basically everyone. Fans were also overjoyed when she hinted she didn't mind being shipped with Hannah.

Alternative Title(s): Fandom Bicycle, Ship Launcher