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"Also, I think I ruined a solid year's worth of perfectly good shipping with recent revelations. WHOOPSEE DAISEE"
Andrew Hussie, after a particular twist in Homestuck
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Ship Sinking is an event that seems to kill any reasonable chance of a romantic relationship occurring between two characters in the canon of the work. Though many producers and writers are aware of Shipping in their respective fandoms, that doesn't necessarily mean they like it. It may be because of the actions of the fans if they get too rowdy about it, or they just don't like the pairing involved, have intended the pairing to die for dramatic effect, or have simply decided on an alternative set of partners for those characters. Whatever the reason, the creator loads torpedoes (or missiles) to send the ship to Davy Jones's Locker.

It can be a betrayal, a very sudden familial connection, hooking up with someone else, having the respective love interest kick the bucket, really being only friends or like brother & sister, or maybe they just bring them out of the closet (or rarely, put them in), or the many varieties of a character being Killed Off for Real. Basically, the canon has sunk the ship. Ship Teasing often occurs before the sinking to enhance the dramatic effect of the sinking, and there are some creators who are just plain sadistic and love to see their fandom squirm before they breach the hull and tell them to say hello to Jonah.

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This may cause Abandon Shipping inside the fandom of the work, but don't always count on that; some ships refuse to sink, with the help of ludicrous amounts of Shipping Goggles or outright Fanon Discontinuity. Pairings can also be revived despite a Ship Sinking moment, in which case the creator could be said to be playing with the pairing, and as such, would qualify these revival moments as more examples of Ship Tease. At its most pronounced, this can be a Humiliation Conga for shippers. In any case, it's probably going to take a Retcon to get those two together. Sorry fans!

Compare No Hugging, No Kissing, where romance as a whole is avoided in canon. A variation on Jossing. Another variation, the Anchored Ship, occurs when factors arise that preclude the characters getting into a relationship, but have the potential to be resolved (although the problems are not always resolved, and even if they are, other factors can still sink the ship). If an Anchored Ship is never resolved before a work is finished, the moment of the anchoring will become a Ship Sinking moment. See also Death of the Hypotenuse, where the author takes it one step further by killing off one of the characters instead of making them a Romantic Runner-Up. Contrast Shipping Torpedo, when a ship is sunk or attempted to be sunk by the characters, not the writers.

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If you're looking for the trope where a literal sailing vessel sinks, you'll find it at Sinking Ship Scenario.


Examples:

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    Toys 
  • There was some undeniable shipping in BIONICLE's early years, such as Macku/Hewkii, Jaller/Hahli, Matau/Nokama and Roodaka/Sidorak (from the latter's perspective, at least), not to mention all the fan preferred couples. These were declared non-canon when the creators ruled that the characters are incapable of feeling romantic love, seeing as they're artificial. Most of these relationships, no matter how blatant, were written off as close friendships (with some scenes outright ripped from canon), and the would-have-been marriage between Roodaka and Sidorak was revealed to be strictly political, with both viewing the other as a tool to gain power (and Sidorak also got killed). Kiina and Mata Nui were the only official "couple", but that ship sank when the latter transferred his soul into a mask. This was mostly Executive Meddling: according to LEGO, kids find romance icky, and given the subject matter (toys), the story writer agreed.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • "Arkos" (Jaune Arc/Pyrrha Nikos) was nuked in "End of the Beginning" when Cinder murdered Pyrrha and disintegrated her body, just after making it canon. It should be noted that this did little to actually stop shippers, and Arkos remains one of the most popular ships, especially in regards to ships that involve Jaune or Pyrrha.
    • "Tauradonna" (Blake + Adam Taurus) wasn't so much sunk as it was blasted more than the Bismarck by the events of "Heroes and Monsters". Adam goes full Yandere on Blake and vows to destroy everything she loves. He follows up the threat by stabbing Blake through the gut, lopping off Yang's right arm, and trying to decapitate Blake. A later comment from the creators also revealed that Adam and Blake's past relationship was abusive to Blake. /r/RWBY, a nexus point for the show's shipping community, officially renamed the pairing "Animal Abuse" as a result. Whatever was left after that was firmly sunk in "Seeing Red" with Adam's death.
    • Both Rosewick (Ruby x Roman) and Gelato (Roman x Neo) hit icebergs in "Heroes And Monsters" when Roman was eaten alive by a Griffon.
    • While not nearly intensely as the above examples, Sailor's Delight (Ruby x Scarlet) was sunk when Scarlet was confirmed as gay by the manga. However due to the small nature of the ship and the much more popular ships for Ruby, the fan-base was mostly fine with it in this case.
    • Fair Game (Qrow x Clover) was hit pretty bad when Ironwood called for the arrest of all the heroes. Then died violently with Clover.
  • Hazbin Hotel: Any and all ships involving Alastor were sunk when Faustisse confirmed that Alastor is aromantic asexual. However, Faustisse also informed the fans that they can still ship him with anyone they want in fanon.
  • SMG4's Mario Bloopers: SMG4 himself has shot down the infamous Mario x Meggy (who is a fourteen-year-old girl) ship a few times:
    • "Mario Preschool" has Meggy visibly creeped out when Boopkins introduces her to shipping.
    • "Stupid Mario Tennis Aces" has Mario hold up a sign saying "Mario x spaghetti 4 life".
    • The final scene from "Mario's Valentine Advice" pretty much reveals the duo's Asexuality:
    Luigi: Man...Love is complicated...
    Mario: Love is dumb.
    Meggy: (Face Palm) You guys got that right...
    • For a more subtle example, one of the collab entries included in the 3 million collab is a parody of the Distracted Boyfriend meme with Mario rejecting Meggy in favor of a plate of spaghetti.
    • The closed captions for the scene from "The Smash 5 Trials" that is commonly perceived as a Ship Tease even says "Bonus Lesson: Don't ship Mario x Meggy."
    • Done straight at the beginning of this Hobo Bros video.
    Luke (after Kevin touches a cardboard cutout of Meggy inappropriately): "I'm gonna call Chris Hansen, you're goin' to jail."

    Web Original 
  • Gaia Online:
    • Gee Boi Turbo item has the boss of the Dark Elves going to a Gaia-centric anime convention and finding... compromising... fanart of himself with Devin.
      Kuro: Seriously, guys... this isn't canon.
    • How they sunk the Meredith X Ivan Ship.
      Lex: Ivan! Hey Ivan! Why was your opposite self married to Meredith? Don't you like her?
      Ivan: Well, yeah, I love her very much.
      Lex: Then why—
      Ivan: Because she's my cousin.
      [awkward silence]
  • The finale of Natalie and Niya Impichishmay's spinoff from Single Girl One Hundred Baby Challenge featured this with Natalie and Caleb breaking up.

    Web Videos 
  • Linkara/MarzGurl was sunk for good when Lewis's girlfriend, Iron Liz, became a part of his show. Though most fans seem to like Liz, so this isn't the problem it would be in other fandoms. After Liz left the show, Linkara started dating, and is currently married to, Viga, sinking any chance for a MarzGurl-shipping resurrection.
  • Because of the Double Standard with The Nostalgia Chick chasing Todd in the Shadows being seen as cute but Todd chasing Obscuras Lupa being seen as creepy, Lindsay had to announce on facebook that she and Todd decided at the very beginning the characters were never going to get together. For bonus points, she also had the Chick go through Sanity Slippage to sink it even further.
  • Pretty much everyone who watched Team Starkid's original production Starship hopped on the Taz/Up (Tup) ship from the second song of the musical. However, since then the Team has at least attempted to sink the ship by pointing out their age difference, something usually ignored in fanfictions/fanvids/fan-anything. Lauren Lopez (paraphrased) remarked "She's like...sixteen...and he's like... eighty." Most fans regard this as an adorable exaggeration and the ship is still sailing strong, despite a few holes.
  • Episode 38 of Critical Role does this for Vaxmore, the pairing of Vax'ildan with fan favorite NPC Shaun Gilmore, with the former breaking off their flirtatious relationship after realizing he's in love with fellow party member Keyleth. Unfortunately, Vax's continued flirtation after this point (going so far as to kiss Gilmore, insist that he loves him "as a friend," and start calling him by his first name) drew no end of criticism from the fanbase and required a second Word of God ship sinking via Reddit AMA.


Alternative Title(s): Ship Sink

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