Situational Sexuality

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Orcs have "needs" too, you know...

Oswald: Forget it. I don't wanna talk about this.
Lewis: No, no, I'm curious. Let's say you're in prison, and you're not getting out for a very long time. Plus, your parents? Very understanding. Who's your cellmate?
Oswald: ...LiamNeeson.

Drew: (wrapping an arm around Oswald's shoulders) Aye, laddie!
The Drew Carey Show, first episode

A character's assumed actual romantic preference or even sexual orientation is made moot because of the setting or limitation of the plot. This frequently occurs with characters stuck in a gender-biased population. (see: Bishoujo Series and Cast Full of Pretty Boys). Even if there's a theoretical pool of candidates off-screen, savvy writers know the audience likely doesn't care. This arises when writers apply standard romantic tropes to quirkier settings without major modification and without the explicit intent to make a plot point about it. If the situation developed after the plot is well underway, this may also be Suddenly Sexuality, or at least played as such.

Some writers are fully aware of the implication and the fandom it produces and might cater to both sides of the topic, making one character very enthusiastic about the idea, while one is humorously much more hesitant.

A common by-product of this trope is the rejection of a newly introduced 'common' romantic prospect, not because of a strong pre-existing fanship, but simply that they never reach the popularity of the existing cohort.

Not to be confused with If It's You It's Okay.

Examples of Situational Sexuality include:

Anime and Manga

  • Pretty much any show taking place at a single sex school or institution.
    • Mariasama ga Miteru is the famous all-girls example. Though it has a nearby all-boy's school, that's mostly used as a plot device rather than any real threat to the shippers. Its male-oriented demographic twin Strawberry Panic pretty much abandons that idea.
    • Gakuen Heaven, Sukisho and Hana Kimi for BL versions, etc.
    • Shoujo Sect is situated in an all-girl's high school, although the willingness of the students to hop into bed with each other and even form harems still makes one wonder.
      • And the two lead characters avert the trope entirely: they are quite thoroughly lesbian, as illustrated by the manga's epilogue that takes place after high school.
  • Mai-Otome establishes via Techno Babble that the girls' Otome powers go away if they have sexual relations with men. This is odd in that male characters are still around, and with one exception, none of them are involved romantically with other Otome, presumably so that the writers didn't upset the sizable yuri fanbase.
    • Note that its heavily implied in-universe that the inventors of the system that gives them their powers did this on purpose, although whether its because they're idiots or Yuri Fanboys is never made clear.
  • Everyone in Simoun's world is female until age 17, which makes all teenage romance Schoolgirl Lesbians by default.
  • Vandread reverses it. The two cultures start off unfamiliar with the idea of gender at all, but when encountering each other for the first time, some of the women and all three of the captured men turn out to be straight (or at least bi). Not that they have any idea why they find the "aliens" more attractive than their own kind...
    • Then again, when one of the only three males (at least that we knew of immediately) had a Bridget dropped on him, he decided he didn't care anymore and continued his pursuit anyway.
    • One of the women finds a book that explains heterosexual sex and reproduction. She wants to try it but the way she goes about it with the youngest male available and the fact that she has a girlfriend suggest that she doesn't really comprehend the importance. She also gets accused of witchcraft when the female government finds it in her possession. It sounds funny. It was not.
  • Saber Marionette J, where the world is all male because the only survivors of the spaceship crash were male, and since not-so-logically everyone is a clone from the DNA of those six, there aren't any women. If they can do cloning, why can't they do X-chromosome duplication? Never mind. Oddly enough Robot Girls in the series are mostly treated as impressive machines, but Hanagata is the only real obviously gay character. It is Shonen, after all. The manga states outright that lack of women is the reason for most of the homosexual relationships on Terra 2.
  • Indirectly affects Yu-Gi-Oh; no doubt one of the main reasons there's so much Yaoi Fic in this fandom is the dearth of female characters and overabundance of Bishonen.
  • One storyline in the manga Gohou Drug involves the characters infiltrating an all male boarding school, where almost all the guys are gay simply because there are no girls around. One student even explains this trope directly to the main character.
  • The Arume in Blue Drop form a race that only consist of women, but they manage to produce offspring with the aid of technology. After conquering the earth they still appear to be mostly interested in the women though.
    • Also happens with Earth's people in the manga, Tenshi no Bokura. The Arume keep the humans segregated by gender, so the girls grow up lesbian due to Arume... influence. Males resort to homosexuality out of necessity, although one of a pair often crossdresses.
  • There is absolutely no appearance or mention of any female in Boys Love anime Sukisho, and the Valentine's Day episode shows many gay couples walking around. There is no explanation for this, females simply seem to not exist. The lead character's reaction to gayness still goes from absolutely-unbothered to completely-freaked-out (and oblivious-to-his-roommate-in-denial).
  • In Ooku, the titular Inner Chambers of the Shogun's palace is rife with this; from late night "hazing" of newcomers to Bishonen sleeping their way into better positions to rather ordinary romances and crushes. This is all the more surprising to those entering service there because the gender ratio outside the Edo Castle is severely skewed in favor of women (there is a reason the Shogunate has been handed down through the female lines for generations) and such waste of seed is unheard of.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia, with pretty much every male character.
  • Togainu no Chi
  • Jyu-Oh-Sei: Women are very scarce on Chimera, and tend to live separately from men. As a result, a lot of otherwise straight men aren't against going for the next best thing (read: Thor)
  • Ai no Kusabi has a Cast Full of Gay Pretty Boys not because everyone is outright specified as homosexual but because women are extremely rare on the world of Amoi in which it takes place.

Comic Books

  • In Y: The Last Man, a lot of women are with other women as a substitute, but a lot simply go without, as many of them had before the "Gendercide".
  • Writers of Wonder Woman throw around hints that Themyscira has embraced this sort of mindset: some of the women are chaste, some of them are seeing Rosie Palms, and the rest pair up.
    • The more juvenile writers, usually the ones who get a chance to briefly play with the character in another title, throw around hints. The main series itself has straightforwardly confirmed it multiple times, though quietly.
    • Diana does some traditional courtship rituals with her boyfriend Nemesis, he asks how a society of only women has such things.
    • A throwaway line a while ago basically said Queen Hippolyta is in a relationship with General Phillipus, and Word of God confirmed it (as well as the fact that they intended to do a storyline where they got married before the editorial axed it).
  • The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight comics have Buffy hook up with fellow Slayer Satsu. It is shown as a result of Buffy feeling emotionally isolated (not to mention sexually-deprived), so she latches on to Satsu (who is genuinely in love with Buffy). This is similar to her relationship with Spike, where she also chose a unusual partner (a soulless corpse in that case) who was genuinely in love with her, in order to satisfy her (purely physical) needs (though at least Satsu she liked and respected, while she frequently professed outright disgust and rage at Spike during season six).
    • Hilariously, it was Satsu who broke off the relationship with Buffy... and then spent an entire issue wangsting about Buffy rejecting her, despite this never having actually happened.


  • With a setting that includes only two canonical male characters (and only one of them is even given a name!), this trope grows like kudzu in the Touhou Project fandom.
    • That being said, Perfect Memento in Strict Sense illustrates (literally) that there are males in the human village. Whether or not any of the Youkai girls would be interested (although the presence of Rinnosuke would indicate it's possible), the human characters should have their pick of straight options. However...
  • Lord of the Flies fanfiction is often subject to this, since there are no female characters...period.
  • The Team Fortress 2 characters are seen (and promptly used) as such. As best said by Kytri, author of Cuanta Vida, "I think of most of the characters as being straight, you just wouldn't notice since there's no women around for them to be straight with."


Caretaker (On the Camp Gay prisoners) - "You might say 'no thanks' now, but in a few months, they're gonna look like Beyoncé."

Jack: There's only two times when that kind of thing's okay: In prison where it's a substitute and guys in space.
Mike: Guys in space?
Jack: Well, not on purpose. They just float into each other.

  • Possible heterosexual variant in a early script for Alien, were Ripley tells Dallas she "needs release" and starts taking off her clothes,probably because they are confined to a spaceship with a small crew for large amounts of time, or this could be implying a relationship between the two.


  • In the Discworld series of books, dwarves embody this through most of the series. Both male and female dwarves wear the same clothes, have beards and so forth. Therefore, courtship for dwarves is described as delicately finding out the gender of a fellow dwarf. When this starts to change through one female dwarf taking on Tertiary Sexual Characteristics, it causes a huge uproar in the dwarf community.
  • Rather baselessly averted in John Wyndham's Consider Her Ways. In the aftermath of a virus wiping out all men, a basically sexless society emerges. Wyndham seems to have utterly dismissed the possibility that women could form romantic relationships with each other, despite making a reference to Sappho at one point. He admitted that he put plot ahead of common sense in that one and seemed to regret it. Happens to the best of us.
  • The Wheel of Time has what are euphemistically referred to as "pillow friends", especially among initiates in the White Tower, where girls are isolated from men (and the world altogether) and would have problems anyway due to their powers and extended lifespan. Treated as a very private matter and not looked down upon, most of these relationships dissolve upon completing the long training process, anyway, though not always. All of the all-female organizations have some mention of this. Complicated by the fact that "pillow friends" can refer to a platonic friendship, since sharing a bed isn't always sexual—it's just as often that one of the friends has been punished and wants to cry herself to sleep on a friend's shoulder.
    • A comparably extremely brief allusion to a male equivalent in The Empire's military companies occurs in Knife of Dreams during Tuon's point-of-view.
  • In Tanya Huff's Enchantment Emporium the Gale clan usually keeps things in the family and there are more female Gales than male so they tend, in the words of one of them, to be "enthusiastically undiscriminating".
  • The implications of this going on for generations are considered as a minor theme in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
  • This has been a problem in the past at the main character's boarding school in The Confusions of Young Törless, initially part of why he doesn't intervene in the mistreatment of his classmate Basini.
  • Possible case with Daenerys Targaryen of A Song of Ice and Fire, who becomes intimate with her handmaiden Irri. She wasn't exactly short on men at the time, but rather men who she trusted.
    • Subverted with Cersei, who ends up bedding (to some degree) one of her female friends, but she finds no pleasure in the act.
    • Oddly averted with the Night's Watch. YMMV, but I found it odd that nobody has even joked about Situational Sexuality among the men of the Night's Watch.
      • Probably only averted because there's a town with a brothel within a day's ride. A good portion of the Watch makes use of it, despite their vows including one of celibacy.

Live Action TV

General-"Do you have any idea how long I've been in that dungeon?"
Krod-"Yeah. Two weeks. And it's co-ed, so..."

Tony: Well, what are you gonna do? There's no women there! You're there five, ten years! (Beat) Just for the record, my incarceration was very short term, so I never had any need for any anal-- you know. (...) You think I'm lying, don't you?

  • T-Bag on Prison Break was very interested in his fellow male prisoners while behind bars, but as soon as he got out he seemed far more interested in women.
  • Oz, being an HBO show set in a men's prison, was just as chock full of this trope as you'd imagine. Possibly more.
  • Curtis/Melissa on Misfits. Curtis is straight. Melissa's a lesbian. They're the same person.


  • If this isn't what Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" is about, then what the hell is it about?

Number forty-seven said to number three:
"You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see.
I sure would be delighted with your company,
come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me."

    • The writers (and by their account Elvis himself) knew this was a gay line and thought it would be funny to put it in and see what happened. They said they put in lots of stuff like that, because they knew Elvis wouldn't have a problem with it.

Real Life

  • Can be Truth in Television; the old Royal Navy was famously rife with "rum, sodomy, and the lash", and not all prison sex is Prison Rape. Until anti-sodomy laws were struck down in Britain, the only time that "buggery" was legal was "after ninety days at sea," at which point it was no longer a crime.
    • As The Onion blurb in Our Dumb Century for August 15, 1954 put it: "Let's Work Together to Pretend Our War-Time Homosexual Experiences Never Happened".
    • Old joke about life on submarines, "150 people go down, 75 couples come up"
    • Hence the phrase "Prison Gay", with the con asserting, despite the evidence, "I'm not gay"
    • And let's not forget what they say about all-girl and all-boy boarding schools.
  • The Other Wiki on the subject
  • Parthenogenesis: essentially, the female's eggs contain both X chromosomes. There are several species of lizards that ONLY produce offspring this way (no males). In fact, one female will mount another, which increases fertility.
    • Others, due to the way that reptilian genetics can work, produce only males through this method.
  • Plus bison and other animals with sex-segregated herds. You can only go so long without!
  • While in heat, female rats and mice will often start humping each other in the absence of males. Ahem...

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Toyed with in the No Fourth Wall webcomic 1/0. Marcus, existing in a world consisting of only male characters, has no concept of women and tries to flirt with the guys instead. Tailsteak clarifies that Marcus isn't gay, "he's just settling for second best," then introduces a female character to clear things up for Marcus. (Said female character is gay, just to annoy the cast.)
  • More or less the same situation as Y: The Last Man exists in the webcomic Angels 2200.
  • Word of God is that all Erogenians in The Challenges of Zona are "situationally bisexual".
  • Thief and Fighter have a little discussion about this and elven prisons in Eight Bit Theater.

Western Animation

  • The presence of romance in most Transformers continuities combined with the fact that about 90% or more of the Transformer population is male leads to the insinuation that many Transformer romantic relationships must be male/male by default. The canon doesn't help. At all.
  • Subverted in the Family Guy episode "Perfect Castaway". Peter is stranded on an island with Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland. Noting that there are no women and men have needs, he says they need to have an orgy. Cut to a shot of them piled on top of each other...and no one is horny.