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Ship-to-Ship Combat

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'Tis what you get when Avatar fans go mad. (Image used with permission.)

Casey Jones: Not even close, Zip-neck. Professor and Mary Ann. Happily ever after.
Donatello: Heh! No way, Atomic Mouth. Gilligan was her main man. They'd be married and have six kids by now.
Casey Jones: Gilligan was a geek, Barfarooni!
Donatello: You're the geek, Camel Breath.
Casey Jones: Dome Head.
Donatello: [feels his head for a bit] Elf Lips.

Aka. Shipping Wars. Nothing to do with naval warfarenote . Or space warfare involving warships. Or UPS vs. FedEx. Or the A&E Reality Show based on the rivalry between a handful of independent truckers.

Fans love to ship. Some of them have a distinct ship that they like over all others, while some of them are torn between contradictory pairings. Some of them like to debate a pairing while keeping in mind its status in Canon, while some of them discuss it believing their pairing is Canon (or, in the case of those who argue over what's going to happen like they think they're pooling money for a bet, will inevitably be). Now throw in the power of the Internet to connect everybody (and everybody's opinions) with everybody else…

Shippers tend to become emotionally invested in their pairings, and Internet shipping discussions can be quite difficult to keep peaceful. All too often, they can't help but devolve into heated quarrels where preferences are insulted, ad hominem attacks are thrown, and comparisons to Nazis are made (though, to be sure, the latter aspect is just as capable of arising from any subject of Internet disagreement currently known to exist).

These Flame Wars are known as Shipping Wars: verbal arguments between people with different opinions about romantic relationships between fictional characters, though sometimes it can include real person fiction. There are those who bash whoever doesn't like their ship of choice, those who bash whoever likes a certain ship, and those who do both, usually basing their attacks on how Canon/Fanon the discussed ship is. The fact that most ships really aren't canon and will never be is usually ignored. Particular hatred for a pairing or a character who gets in the way of a pairing manifests in the form of Die for Our Ship in fic, or accusations of Canon Sue status in analysis. Alternatively, fans might pair that character with another character, getting him or her out of the way of their favorite ship. This creates "alliances" between different shippers called Ship Mates.

Common victims include Platonic Life-Partners, Heterosexual Life-Partners, and Lovely Angels. On one hand, lots of fans see Subtext, hints, and evidence where there really isn't; on the other, if there is some degree of subtext, other fans will adamantly refuse to see it and insult those who do. The Draco in Leather Pants also tends to be paired up a lot, and Shipping Wars erupt when deciding to whom he belongs. Often complicated by The "I Love You" Stigma.

Please note: someone just simply stating their opinion about whether they like a pairing or whether they think it's canon or not isn't Ship To Ship Combat or a ship war, that's just having a discussion. Or even when someone makes fun of a pairing. It's when the fans of a certain pairing start actually attacking and insulting the fans of another pairing that it becomes Ship To Ship Combat, such as if someone says they don't like a certain pairing or doesn't think it's canon and the fans of that pairing become enraged and start attacking that person for their opinion.

Trope Co., we'd like to order an emergency supply of MST3K Mantra, please.

If you really were looking for the trope about naval vessels fighting each other, try Epic Ship-on-Ship Action, Hot Sub-on-Sub Action, History of Naval Warfare, or even Standard Starship Scuffle if your definition of "naval" isn't strict.


Other Examples

  • Monster High: Cleo/Deuce was arguably the most-loved couple in the Generation 1 line, and as such has a lot of fans — none of whom took it well when Generation 3 split them up and gave them different love interests, with the live-action movies teasing Deuce/Clawdeen and the animated series teasing Cleo/Frankie. While Deuce/Clawdeen was mostly ignored (as it's also working against years of creator-supported headcanons that Clawdeen's a lesbian), Cleo/Frankie ended up getting a fanbase of its own, which the Deuce/Cleo shippers quickly clashed with.

    Web Animation 
  • Murder Drones: Shipping wars aren’t uncommon, especially between Nuzi (N/Uzi) and Envy (N/V) shippers. Some people have added either one to their list of do-not-interacts, and Nuzi has been notoriously called a proship on the basis of Uzi being assumed to be a minor and N being assumed to be an adult (in reality, how old they are is debatable, as things in Episode 3 and Episode 4, like the “missing” posters in the former and N referring to everyone, including himself, as “kids” the latter, only give very vague indicators about their ages). However, with N and V seemingly drifting apart to some extent, combined with some of N and Uzi’s interactions (which have a very wide array of interpretations, ranging from simply being platonic to possibly being romantic), some people point to Nuzi being more likely to happen in canon.
    • One complicating factor in the whole ordeal is that the show isn’t romance-centered, so people may never know if any ships become canon.
  • RWBY:
    • The Shipping War that erupted after the events of "End of the Beginning" between the "Arkos" (Jaune Arc/Pyrrha Nikos) and the "Lancaster" (Jaune Arc/Ruby Rose) pairings. The end of "End of the Beginning" had Pyrrha kissing Jaune and then dying at the hands of Cinder Fall, leading to the Arkos pairing to suffer a Ship Sinking. Many of those connected to that ship bailed over to Lancaster as a response. However, despite this, many Arkos shippers are still defiant that their ship is still viable, that she's not dead, and that those who went over to Lancaster are traitors to the ship.
    • Lancaster competes with three other very popular Ruby-related ships: "White Rose" (Ruby/Weiss), "Nuts and Dolts" (Ruby/Penny) and Rose Garden (Ruby/Oscar). Unlike with Arkos, Season 3's events had no effect on Nuts and Dolts, largely because everyone believes the situation is temporary. As a Robot Girl, Penny was never expected to stay dead. After her return in Volume 7, her storyline concludes with her death at the end of Volume 8.
    • Blake has three main ships that complete with each other: "Bumblebee" (Blake/Yang), "Black Sun" (Blake/Sun) and "Changing Colours" (Blake/Ilia). While the friction with Changing Colours is milder because Ilia's feelings are unrequited, Bumblebee/Black Sun is the most divisive ship in the fandom. Both the show and the soundtracks have included Ship Tease for both pairings. Every interaction, line of dialogue and song lyric gets dissected, analysed, and debated by the two sides to such an extreme, both the creators and composers have weighed in several times to try and cool things down. The ship war has only increased since Volume 6, where Sun was Put on a Bus and Ship Tease increased so much between Yang and Blake that other characters begin lampshading it from Volume 7. The ship wars finally emerged with a victor in Volume 9 in which Blake and Yang confess their feelings for each other and seal their love with a Big Damn Kiss halfway through the volume, thereby upgrading their Ship Tease to Official Couple status and ultimately Ship Sinking all other rival ships involving Blake... though of course the fighting continues over whether or not this was the correct decision from an artistic standpoint. Some controversial statements from Blake's voice actressnote  did not help the infighting.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: During Season 5, there was a bit of this between Thanner (Than/Tanner) and Tristanner (Tanner/Tristan) shippers, all of which pretty much died down by that season's eleventh episode after certain loose ends were tied up.
  • Terrible Writing Advice: Shipping wars reaction is discussed in "Shipping" episode.
    • Baeubien suggests that when the author doesn't want to explain why shipping is bad or commit to Ship Sinking, then the best option is to embrace the shipping war. According to him, the authors should play all sides of the shipping debate for a free press...and then resolve things anticlimactically. JP also says there is no way this can be a dangerous thing to do.
    • For the fans, Baeubien suggests insulting and harassing the supporters of the rival ship. If that doesn't work, then he suggests harassing the author until the shippers get their way. If that somehow doesn't work, then he recommends writing fanfiction.