Actor Shipping

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

This is what happens when fans want the actors who play certain characters on a show to get together because their on-screen chemistry just makes them look so gosh-darn cute. If someone actually has the gall to suggest this to an actor personally, expect an irritated I Am Not Spock response to follow.

There are generally two kinds of real-person shippers: the ones who know that it's all just fiction and ship it for fun/because it's hot, and the ones who truly believe that the people in question are copulating like bunnies when the cameras are off. A fan of the latter type is known derogatorily in some circles as a "Tinhat" and can often be recognised by their conspiracy theories about evil PR people/network execs/whatever forcing the two actors to keep their relationship a secret.

In either case, sometimes these ships will actually set sail. Cue delighted Squee, and maybe an I Knew It!.

Can be part of a Real Person Fic.

Romance on the Set is when the happens for real.

See also Real Life Relative.

Examples of Actor Shipping include:



  • Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson from the Twilight Film series are subject to this, though there may actually be precedent for it. Rumor has it that Pattinson only auditioned for the role of Edward Cullen in the first place so he'd have an excuse to hit on Stewart. This plan backfired once Twilight fans recognized him in public.
  • Titanic fans continue to ship Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet even though Leo's been with various other women since and until recently Kate had been married with two children. Of course, Kate professing her thirteen-year love for Leo then thanking her husband during the 2007 Golden Globes before the audience, Leo giving her a ring with a secret inscription carved inside as a present, and Kate's failing marriage with director Sam Mendes after shooting Revolutionary Road with Leo does not help matters.
    • As of this writing, Kate and Sam have separated.
  • Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, who dated (and were briefly engaged) after they did The Notebook.
  • Certain people in the Harry Potter Fandom shipped Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.
  • Tobey Maguire confirmed that there was some of this chemistry between him and Kirsten Dunst on the Spider-Man set, but not much. He's married (to someone else) since.
    • And in the second film reboot, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone got shipped by the press.
  • Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical. That one actually set sail... and went strong for five years until their breakup in December 2010.
  • Because their chemistry was so natural in Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart's then-wife was certain he was having an affair with Ingrid Bergman. As the story goes, however, the two only met once off the set to have lunch and discuss their issues with the script (both were unhappy with the "unrealistic dialogue").
    • Bogart actually did fall in love with and marry his frequent costar Lauren Bacall. They stayed together until the end of his life. Their chemistry was so potent that studio execs recut The Big Sleep to include more scenes of them together.
  • Shipping William Mosely and Anna Popplewell from The Chronicles of Narnia is one way some fans get around the Brother-Sister Incest problem of Shipping their characters.
    • The same could be applied for Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley, who play Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, a pairing whose number of fans increased dramatically since the third movie and their growth spurts.
    • There's some Skandar/Anna fans out there as well...
    • Skandar/William, Skandar/Ben, William/Ben all get shipped as well. Definitely helped by the fact that they are all Bishonens, especially with their make up on and their chemistry on screen being so wonderful.
  • Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto of Star Trek. Which was kind of inevitable, if you think about it.
  • Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, as of the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Like Pine and Quinto above, their interactions during interviews really do not help matters.
  • Arguable, but Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. That ship set sail since five years ago[when?] and so far has produced five little boats.
  • A Vocal Minority of The Lord of the Rings fans were (and in some cases, still are) very passionate about their belief that Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan were/are in a committed romantic relationship that the movie studio and publicists forced them to hide by taking on fake girlfriends—these fans' detractors were the ones to coin the term "tinhat" for this phenomenon. Less prolific but just as passionate were those who believed that Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom were in an identical situation.
    • Dom and Billy Boyd, being wonderful friends, also had there share of shippers...
    • According to (dwindling) subset of Bloom's fans, he has had a torrid affair with just about every male co-star he has ever appeared with. Not surprisingly, his female co-stars haven't enjoyed the same speculation with the exception of Kirsten Dunst. Even the tabloid media jumped on the "Blunst" bandwagon.
    • Not to mention the Sean Bean and Viggo Mortensen shippers, who are still apparently going extremely strong. Never mind that Bean is notoriously heterosexual and married (and divorced) for the fourth time recently...
  • An astonishing number of people seem to ship Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep, even though they are both happily married (to Keely Shaye-Smith and Don Gummer, respectively) and have been for quite some time. On the other hand, they quite obviously adore each other, and Pierce once referred to Meryl as "that gorgeous blonde I had a terrible crush on in drama school"...
  • The A-Team: Liam Neeson/Bradley Cooper, Bradley Cooper/Sharlto Copley, and Sharlto Copley/"Rampage" Jackson. Like the Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek examples above, the fact that they all act adorably buddy-buddy in interviews and the fact that Sharlto and Rampage basically became Heterosexual Life Partners during filming only encourage this thinking.
  • Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are Heterosexual Life Partners in real life, which, combined with the Ho Yay in all of their films, makes them easy prey for this trope.
  • Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg from The Social Network. The amount of character bleed from their characters and Andrew's proclamation of love for Jesse in this interview did not help.
  • Just days after Thor was released, people started prompting Chris Hemsworth/Tom Hiddleston on the Kink Meme and that ship is still gaining momentum. (Never mind that Chris is married. To a woman.)
  • Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, who played Magneto and Professor X respectively in X-Men: First Class. Their banter in interviews and James' tendency to talk about how their characters should have had sex and gotten married did not help one bit.
    • James McAvoy has even made ship names of his own ("BoyVander", "McAbender" and suggesting the already widely-used "FassAvoy") -- in the same interview wherein he claims to have had sex with Michael Fassbender FOUR times. And when the interviewer asks him if Fassbender is a tender lover, he hilariously replies that he's "left to take care of [himself] after." He also frequently acknowledges the "sexy" quality to Fassbender's portrayal of Magneto in the film: in one infamous interview, he amends "not that I'm drawn to that," and Fassbender jumps in with "a little bit," and McAvoy agrees "a little bit, on Tuesdays." Cut to the Tumblr fangirls celebrating every single Tuesday with zesty vigor.
  • The Avengers is certainly gaining steam with its cast. One stand-out would be Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) with Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), certainly aided by the fact the two are (as of this writing) single close friends IRL and that their interviews together can seem especially flirty.

Live-Action TV

  • There is a not-insignificant subset of fans who ship William Shatner with Leonard Nimoy. This is not surprising, considering that the characters they played launched Slash Fic as a concept.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has "Sariza", short for Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku who play Buffy and Faith respectively. Given the amount of pure tension (and some UST too) the characters have to each other it's no wonder. Doesn't help that Eliza Dushku admits to liking Buffy/Faith. Ohh, let's not forget those suspicious videos and Sarah jumping on Eliza on set "just to lighten up the mood".
  • Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie Stackhouse, is married to Stephen Moyer, who plays Vampire Bill Compton on True Blood.
  • Skins has this big time. Some 90% (conservative estimate) of Naomily shippers are also Lily Loveless/Kathryn Prescott shippers (and LilyKat know it and Ship Tease to hell and back), and the actors playing Effy and Cook briefly dated.
    • The LilyKat tinhats even have a neat Reality Subtext to play with; Naomi's Anguished Declaration of Love in the S4 finale included the statement that it took her three years to be able to speak to Emily after she first saw her, which ties in with the fact that Lily and Kat first met at an acting class three years before they joined the show...
      • Add to this fact that Lily and Kathryn have stated many times that they did not speak to each other while in the acting class (despite each having lead roles) because they were shy and didn't think they'd have anything in common ...
  • In Heroes fandom, nobody thinks anything of 'shipping the hell out of Milo Ventimiglia/Hayden Panettiere (who did date in real life for a while), Milo Ventimiglia/Kristen Bell, Milo Ventimiglia/Adrian Pasdar, Zachary Quinto/Hayden Panettiere, Zachary Quinto/Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto/Sendhil Ramamurthy, Zachary Quinto/Dania Ramirez and Zachary Quinto/Kristen Bell. Let's face it, the fandom ships the entire main cast in some way or another.
  • Both main shipping sects in iCarly, Creddie (Carly/Freddie) and Seddie (Sam/Freddie), like pairing up Miranda Cosgrove/Nathan Kress (Niranda) and Jeanette McCurdy/Nathan Kress (Jathan) respectively. The Jathan side of things got so heated by people constantly tweeting the pair about being in love or dating or being best friends that eventually Nathan stopped following Jennette and specifically mentioned his real girlfriend was his best friend, Jennette told the world her worst pet peeve was dating rumours, and made it clear that the two of them are only friends, and nothing more.
    • More rare, bub some people like Jeanette and Miranda.
      • Jeanette/Jerry Trainor (who plays Spencer), shows up pretty regularly in the various Kink Meme communities the show has or is part of.
  • Victorious, an iCarly sister show, has this. The main pairing is Elizabeth Gillies and Ariana Grande, due to their extremely close friendship stretched back over a decade and more despite being only teenagers, and the fact they keep doing things like photographing the other sleeping next to them in the same bed and posting the pictures online.
  • Many fans of The Vampire Diaries ship Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev in real life, both due to their incredible chemistry onscreen as Damon and Elena, and due to their obviously close friendship offscreen.
    • Now confirmed to be more than a "close friendship".
    • The same happens for Steven McQueen and Malese Jow, the actors for Jeremy and Anna.
  • Doctor Who's David Tennant and Billie Piper are a popular subject for the same reasons as above. Freely declaring their love for each other in public and mentioning each other randomly in interviews even when not talking about DW doesn't help, even though Billie is now married and a mother.
    • Similarly, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan's chemistry on and off screen has many fans pairing them.
      • Fans of the pairing have claimed the 'secretly married' tag on tumblr. The tag is full of mostly posts of the two of them, sprinkled very rarely with other couples.
    • And then there is David Tennant/John Simm. Who were spotted partying together just after Tennant had broken up with Sophia Myles, and quite a few events after that. It really doesn't help that they were talking about their own Doctor/Master spinoff on The End of Time commentaries.
  • Very common in Supernatural Real Person Fic; the relevant nickname is "J2." This is because, in the earliest seasons, it was impossible to make an In-Universe ship of any durability that had neither Original Characters nor incest.
    • Also because Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki lived together for quite a while and the whole cast tends to be very...tactile in interviews/con appearances etc.
    • Jared/Jensen, Jensen/Misha, Jared/Misha, Jared/Richard, Jensen/JDM, Jared/Jensen/Misha... You get the picture?
  • Wizards of Waverly Place fans who ship Jalex (Justin/Alex) have the tendency to ship Delena (David Henrie/Selena Gomez).
  • Glee is rife with this. There's the popular pairing of Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz (McHalowitz), there's the potentially "canon" pairing of Mark Salling and Naya Rivera, there's Cory Monteith and Lea Michele shippers, there's people who think Naya Rivera and Heather Morris (HeYa) are as close as their characters... And then there's Chris Colfer, who may qualify as the Glee RPF fandom's Launcher of a Thousand Ships, since there's maybe two male cast members he hasn't been paired with. And his on-screen dad is not one of them. Then there's the fact that Ryan Murphy has allegedly banned sex in the cast's trailers, suggesting that there's been sex to ban... Sorry, Glee cast, but it's not our fault you're twelve ridiculously attractive young people.
    • Two male co-stars Chris hasn't been paired with? I can't think of one. Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, Chord Overstreet, Kevin McHale, Harry Shum Jr, Darren Criss, Max Adler, Matt Morrison, Jonathan Groff, Mike O'Malley...
    • One of Chris Colfer's castmates has described him as "like a magical creature." The fic wrote itself.
      • Incidentally, the castmate in question was Darren Criss - who plays Blaine, who has spent most of the show having almost indecent eyesex with Kurt in practically every episode. The fic wrote itself - several times over.
      • Too bad Darren is actually straight... not that that would stop the fangirls.
        • After The Big Clinch in "Original Song", Chris and Darren were asked about their kiss. Darren's response? "He doesn't go by numbers, he gets hieroglyphics!" and teased, "It takes two to tango!" Deadpan Snarker Chris was a bit less fanboyish (giving Darren a 10 out of 10, but himself a 12), but had commented that "Damn, Darren! I need a cigarette now!" in a separate interview. Also, Darren is quite obviously a Kurt/Blaine shipper.
    • The Monfer (Cory Monteith / Chris Colfer) ship really stands out even among the HUGE amounts of pairing that Chris launches.
    • There are also a lot of people who ship Lea Michele with Jonathan Groff (even though the latter is gay) since their Spring Awakening days. Hilariously, one of those people happens to be Lea's own father, who according to Lea has offered Jon "millions" to marry her. Lea often calls Jon the "love of her life" and, when asked by a fan at a Glee event when she and Jon were gonna get married, promptly responded "hopefully soon".
    • Don't forget the Lea/Dianna shippers. They are hardcore.
    • Dianna knows what people are thinking: "Everybody is convinced that Lea and I are in a relationship."
    • And then, of course, there is Mark Salling and Chord Overstreet. Mark named them Sallingstreet. Among several other suggestive tweets is co-star Kevin McHale saying they were "cute - it's like watching schoolgirls flirting". Chord claims "he [Mark] asked me out, but I turned him down. I like them clean-cut". Speaking of clean-cut, "Colferstreet" is another popular couple. Then again, so is Chris/every male cast member.
    • There are also Max Adler and Darren Criss, also known as Marren or Adiss. I'll let this show one of the reasons why.
    • Some fans refer to the boys on the show as Amber's Harem, referring to Amber Riley. Kevin McHale has professed numerous times his love for Amber (and his desire to see a little Mercedes/Artie action), which has led to McRiley.
    • Other ship names: Kevin/Naya are Keya or McVera (the also call each other 'bee'); Kevin/Dianna Kevanna; Lea/Dianna Achele; Lea/Cory Monchele.
  • There's a small sect of people who ship Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos, purely based on the immense amount of chemistry they had in Battlestar Galactica. They even admitted that they had great chemistry and loved working with the other.
  • Oddly enough, some Law and Order Special Victims Unit fans think that Elliot and Olivia's actors have more chemistry than their characters. But they are the E/O tinhats.
  • Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick, playing the Gossip Girl couple Blair and Chuck, get a lot of this. Their shippers call them De Leight Ed.
    • Ironically, Blake Lively and Penn Badgely did not get so much of this, even though they played the season one alpha couple Serena and Dan and the actors were living together in real life.
  • Noel Fielding and his Heterosexual Life Partner Julian Barrat get a ludicrous amount of this, probably due to them being Very touchy feely with each other and the fact that the characters for which they are best known (Howard and Vince from The Mighty Boosh) have a crazy amount of Unresolved Sexual Tension between them.
  • The A-Team: Dirk Benedict/Dwight Schultz. Face/Murdock is already a hugely popular pairing in the fandom, but these two love to play up the Ho Yay aspects of their friendship during interviews—just in the past few years, when they are in their 60s. They seem to get a huge kick out of it.
  • Most of the characters from The BBC Merlin series, but particularly Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Bradley James (Arthur).
    • In fact, Bradley's shipped with all his co-stars. Among the fanbase there is much speculation, interest, insistence, rivalry and (naturally) shipping wars concerning whether he's dating Katie McGrath, Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby, or all three. This is not helped at all by the actors themselves, who obviously adore the guy, and are constantly hugging, tickling, teasing, heckling, play-fighting, or sitting on his lap during roller-coaster rides.
    • Not to mention Bradley's quite large affection for Colin, as he films Colin the most from all his co-stars, teases him and likes to act like a show-off in front of him. He also says he views him as tiny and fragile, in spite of the fact that Colin is only two years younger than him. In one interview he even says Colin is his favorite co-star and that a little piece of his heart goes to him.
      • In fact, Bradley appears to be more attached to Colin than vice-versa (well, this could be more obvious in Bradley's case because Colin is more introverted), as Bradley himself declares he always goes to Colin during breaks from shooting scenes, because he likes to 'play with Colin'. At one point he even suggested they will grow old together.
      • He seems to have moved on a little bit, and is currently besotted with his Knights of the Round Table, admitting to a man-crush on Tom Hopper (Percival) and blowing a kiss to Santiago Cabrera (Lancelot) after Katie mentioned that they and Guinevere had a "great love story."
    • Mackhopp (Eoin Macken/Tom Hopper) seems to be getting quite popular amongst Merlin fans, especially the Perwaine (Percival/Gwaine) fans. Their conversations on twitter and pictures which have spread on tumblr have fuelled the ship.
  • Craig Horner and Bridget Regan, the two leads from Legend of the Seeker, were heavily shipped, probably because of their general adorableness in their joint interviews.
    • Bridget is now married with a kid, crushing the dreams of their shippers everywhere.
  • Castle fans seem to really ship Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic together to the point of calling it "Stanathan." It really didn't help that when Stana was asked in so many words whether she makes out with Nathan behind the set, she more or less evaded the question... It should be noted Fillion already has a girlfriend, and in recent months it appears Katic has become rather interested in Mark Polish, her costar in the 2011 indie movie "For Lovers Only." Mark Polish has a wife and son, though, so it's unlikely that pairing will happen, and there's not much evidence to suggest that Stana's interest in him was anything but professional. She's much more lively and playful when being interviewed jointly with Nathan as opposed to her "strictly business" demeanor with Mark.
    • Likewise, there are some Browncoats (Firefly fans) who ship Nathan and Morena Baccarin.
    • As well as a few that ship Sean Maher and Jewel Staite, despite two obstacles: 1. She's married, and 2. He's gay. (Not that they aren't helping things by teasing the fandom at times...)
    • However, all the cast of Firefly are involved in the best ship of all! Friend-*is trampled*
  • There is a strong following of the BBC program Sherlock who ship the leading actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively). The fact that the two are close friends and are, as of Winter 2011, filming both the second season of Sherlock and the Peter Jackson version of The Hobbit together, definitely adds fuel to the fire.
    • There was an interview in The Guardian in which Benedict said that Martin is helping him pick out his clothes.
    • There's no denying the fact that during the filming of the first season of Sherlock, Benedict broke up with his girlfriend of over ten years, Olivia Poulet.
    • And let's not forget the BAFTA's of 2011, where the two of them rather excessively gushed all over each other - in separate interviews, no less. Martin thanked Benedict in his acceptance speech, while Benedict in his own interview said he and Martin adore each other and then very awkwardly rushed to point out that said adoration was completely platonic.
    • To many, Benedict's apparent distress with any gay rumors makes him Ambiguously Gay.
    • In his recent MTV interview, Benedict spent an excessive amount of time to gush over Martin - again. He remarked how great was to hang out with him on the set of The Hobbit and how brilliant will Martin be as Bilbo. Nothing especially shippy, you'll say - but the interview is quite short and Martin is practically all Benedict talks about.
  • Farscape and Stargate SG-1‍'‍s Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who are good friends in real life, have the onscreen chemistry of several nuclear warheads - see this fanvid, or any of a hundred others, for proof - and who reportedly practiced their kissing scenes on set so often their fellow cast and crew didn't even notice after awhile, but who are both happily married and not to each other. Browder has been married to actress Francesca Buller (a Farscape alum several times over) since 1989, and Black got married right before the shooting of the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries. This has not stopped the shippers whatsoever.


  • The Takarazuka fandom does a lot of this. Apparently wanting two actresses to get it on doesn't figure into said fandom's long, long list of things that are disrespectful, as long as you don't use vulgar language while you're at it.
  • Due to being the original Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked, certain fans ship Chenzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel. Despite the fact Idina is married with kids. This video (specifically when she kisses Kristin before her own husband, Taye Diggs...)
    • Well they do have their tons of Les Yay, due to their close friendship, which reaches Ambiguously Gay proportions.
  • Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon have been the subject of several rumors, due to their chemistry onstage and the fact that they're often cast together.
  • The cast of almost every modern ensemble musical gets a great deal of this, but American and its tour definitely stands out. In the original cast there's real life couple Leslie McDonel and Van Hughes, who are both on tour. The shipping isn't as crazy as in other fandoms, but there are definitely wild supporters of Alysha Umphress and Theo Stockman.

Web Original

Western Animation

Real Life

  • In the male-dominated world of politics, it comes as little surprise that the reasonably attractive Sarah Palin became for a while a Launcher of a Thousand Ships. She seemed to end up most often with Mitt Romney and Joe Biden. Of course, she's married and has kids, but the whole enterprise was pretty Tongue In Cheek to begin with.
    • The male political Launcher of a Thousand Ships seems to be former Obama Chief of Staff and current[when?] Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel. He gets shipped with fellow politicians like Obama and Joe Biden, with pundits like Anderson Cooper and Jon Stewart, and even with fictional characters.
  • Many mutual fans, based on video, blog and pictorial evidence of the two hanging out together, had shipped Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer before they officially came out as a couple.
  • Figure skating Shipping and RPF[context?] has a huge, passionate and cut-throat Fandom, especially big on the slash.