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Ship Sinking

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"The Most Offensive Zootopia Comic Ever"
Source: TJPones
"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

A Ship Sinking is a scene blatantly set-up to demonstrate that a particular romantic pairing is ridiculous, impossible and never, ever gonna happen.

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, or have intended the pairing to die for dramatic effect. They may have set out from the start to write two characters into a specific pairing and need to make it more obvious, or have simply decided on an alternative set of partners for the two characters in question. Whatever the reason, the creator wants to make it very clear to the audience that these two particular characters are not, and will not become, a couple.

In order to qualify as ship sinking,

  • The scene must be, in some way, specifically about the characters it's sinking
  • The work must contain some in-universe acknowledgement about the concept of these two as a couple, even if it's just to say "eww, no way!"

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.

Creators often Ship Tease two characters before they sink the pairing completely, although that's not a requirement, as long as the work contains some textual acknowledgement of the idea of the pairing.

This may or may not cause fans to abandon the ship— then again, some ships refuse to sink, with the help of ludicrous amounts of Shipping Goggles or outright Fanon Discontinuity.

Related to Anchored Ship, which occurs when factors arise that preclude the characters getting into a relationship, but have the potential to be resolved. If an Anchored Ship is never resolved before a work is finished, the moment of the anchoring will become a Ship Sinking moment.

Contrast Shipping Torpedo, when a ship is sunk or attempted to be sunk by the characters, not the writers. See This Index Broke Up for tropes about breaking up relations that actually exist in the work, regardless of the fandom preferences.

Compare No Hugging, No Kissing, where romance as a whole is avoided in canon.

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

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Due to the Black Trailer setting up Blake and Adam as partners, shipping existed for them from the beginning. However, the Volume 3 climax makes it clear that Adam is a Psycho Ex-Boyfriend when he vows to destroy everyone she loves as a punishment for dumping him, to the point that the name for the Blake/Adam ship was changed to "Animal Abuse". He starts by cutting off Yang's arm; in Volume 5, he tries to have Blake's parents assassinated; in Volume 6, he stalks Blake across an entire continent after deciding that, if he can't have her, no-one can; Blake and Yang are forced to fight him to the death to stop him from murdering them.
    • There initially a lot of Ship Tease between Blake and Sun in Volumes 1-3, where Sun actively attempted to date Blake. From Volume 4, the Ship Tease gradually winds down in favour of close friendship until Sun is Put on a Bus in the first episode of Volume 6, after telling Blake that she's grown beyond his help and she needs to finish healing with her team-mates. As they depart, Neptune mentions that it looks Sun is letting Blake go, but Sun retorts that his decision to help Blake in Volumes 4-5 was never about romance in the first place. From this point on, the Ship Tease that builds is between Blake and Yang, reaching Official Couple status in Volume 9.
  • Luke and Kevin Lerdwichagul, creators of SMG4, have made it abundantly clear they do NOT like the ship of Mario×Meggy (who joined the series as a fifteen-year-old girl). Along with them, plus Meggy's voice actress, insisting the characters have a Like Brother and Sister relationship, they've shot down the ship in-series 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."
    • "Meggy's Part-Time Job" also features a jab at it.
      Anti-Shroomy: "Just point the gun at anything you want to die."
      JubJub: "JubJub!" (shoots a picture of Mario and Meggy)
  • Subverted in Battle for BFDI, where Firey and Leafy reject each other's friendship in "The Four Is Lava" after Firey refuses to acknowledge Leafy in public. However the subversion happens in "Who Stole Donut's Diary", when Firey and Leafy have a private talk and apologize to each other for the way they acted towards each other. By the end of "Chapter Complete", they are going on an adventure together in a boat, their relationship rekindled.

    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 
  • 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ship Sink


Tai and Sora

Tai finds out his love interest actually has feelings for his best friend and, instead of getting upset, encourages her to go for it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy

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