Suddenly Sexuality

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn: "Is this [being fired] because I'm a lesbian?"
D.A. Arthur Branch: ""

Alternate line reading from Elisabeth Rohm's final Law and Order episode

A character who pulls a flip-flop in terms of proclaimed sexuality or suddenly, for no apparent reason, feels strongly enough about it to become the Token Minority of their particular series for that particular sexuality.

This can be because the author changed his mind about a character, is catering to Fan Wank, or is simply providing Fan Service. In any of these instances it is usually frowned upon. Not that it's entirely unrealistic, but it's very jarring.

Sometimes employed purely as an answer to the assumption that all undeclared characters in fiction must, by default, be heterosexual.

Can be implemented as a quick gag, in which case the characters may immediately become some variation of Stereotype Gay (Flamboyant Gay and Leather Man the most popular), regardless of their previous character traits.

Technically speaking, if no information as to a given character's sexuality has been demonstrated before in a work, either due to that character not getting a lot of screen time or the work simply not focusing on romantic relationships, then any declaration of sexual or romantic feelings would count as this trope.

If this is done via Word of God instead of within a work, it's Word of Gay.

Compare to No Bisexuals. May result in a Invisible to Gaydar. Can be forced by introducing Situational Sexuality. See also: Rape and Switch. Relationship Reveal is a chance to out a character with more buildup. For the race version, see Suddenly Ethnicity.

Examples of Suddenly Sexuality include:

Anime and Manga

  • Shidou Ayane of Baldr Force EXE Resolution is stated to be a lesbian in the first episode, but she's never shown to be. It was probably said to keep fans from shipping her with The Hero. Ironically, in the original H-game, she's one of the main heroines, and is indeed attracted to Toru.
  • Grell from Black Butler. Toboso Yana eventually made it pretty clear that Grell is actually male-to-female transgendered, but many fans still either don't believe it or refuse to.
  • Arguably Nuriko from the series Fushigi Yuugi: a Wholesome Crossdresser and would-be Gender Bender who lives for years in a female role, considers herself female, and is firmly oriented toward men. Shortly before leaving the show, Nuriko is retconned into a straight (or bisexual) man with Fan Wank levels of interest in the main character, and whose gender issues were explained away as a memorial to a Dead Little Sister. Take great care when debating this, however.

Comic Books

  • Obsidian, a DC Comics Superhero, is in the modern age written as an openly gay character despite having dated women in the past and having poor luck with them. He's had a lot more success after coming out, having a steady boyfriend in Damon, assistant to Kate Spencer (a.k.a. Manhunter). Possibly subverted since in Justice League of America, he did have a sorta-crush on Atom Smasher long before he was clearly identified as gay, but it may have been too subtle for people to pick up on and/or forgotten by later writers.
  • Connor Hawke, something of an answer to the Nineties Anti-Hero and something of one himself, was introduced originally as a man with no interest in romantic attachment (due to his being, y'know, a Buddhist monk) in the relaunch of his title Green Arrow. The book attracted a large gay following due to his lack of obvious heterosexual romantic attachment and received praise from both gay and straight sources due to its innovative and mature characterization. Naturally, when the creative staff changed and a new writer came in, he made quick work of introducing a sudden and largely forced female "love interest" (the woman who raped his father, to add insult to injury) for Connor—causing an immense backlash and a quiet attempt to repair the near-Dork Age that occurred.
    • For extra irony points, the author in question was Chuck Dixon, who would years later raise a minor Internet kerfuffle for saying that the sudden presence of gay superheroes was shoehorning sexuality into books aimed at kids... and who explained the reasoning behind Connor's sudden love interest as, "Well, we didn't want people to think he was gay." What was that about shoehorning sexuality, Chuck?
  • The Vertigo Comics miniseries Enigma actually makes the sudden sexuality switch of its protagonist, Michael, a part of the plot - it is revealed that his lover, a sociopath, used psychic powers to alter his sexuality. In the end his lover feels regret and offers to turn him back, but Michael decides that he's happier as he is.
  • Despite what some people said when it was finally confirmed, it's averted with Marvel's Shatterstar and Rictor - Shatterstar was conceived as asexual, being a genetically-engineered TV gladiator from an alternate dimension (go with it), but he was slowly learning about Earth culture. Rictor was implied to be bisexual. A growing relationship between the two was hinted at for years and years, finally culminating in a kiss between the two in X-Factor # 45. Rob Liefeld, however, didn't see it coming at all - to the amusement of every other person on the internet.
  • For years, Legion of Super-Heroes fans knew that Element Lad was gay. So they weren't happy when he started dating Shvaughn Erin. Then some of these fans started Taking Over The Asylum, and it turned out that yes, Element Lad was gay. But that was okay, because Shvaughn Erin was really a man!
  • In Scott Pilgrim, this initially appears to be the case for Stephen Stills, at least from Scott's POV, but then Stills points out he came out in Volume 5, while Scott was too busy with the whole evil exes drama to notice (leading the reader to reach for their Vol. 5 to confirm that this does happen, in an out-of-the-way panel).
  • Chili Storm, rival to Millie the Model, was revealed to be bisexual in the 2009-2010 miniseries Models, Inc. You'd have to squint pretty hard to see any sign of this in her 20th century stories.

Fan Fiction

  • The Firefly fanfic Forward actually subverts this in the "Mosaic" story arc, where River briefly kisses another girl. It turns out that River was in fact quite het, and instead was simply drunk and having a slight mental episode, and the entire incident was foreshadowing the introduction of John Garis/Echo, an agent of the Academy who she was lured into a relationship with in order to keep her mentally stable and to not commit suicide. ....It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Marge in Bart the General is implied to be a lesbian (or bisexual, at least), as Toadfish tells her "Don't worry Marge, we'll sort out the lesbian problem," and she is once shown having sex with another woman.
  • Sayu and Misa are in a lesbian relationship in Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami. Considering that Misa is Light-sexual in canon, this comes off as fairly jarring.


  • Dumbledore from Harry Potter, as told by Word of Gay after the series had ended. As such, the fact that he is gay has little to no bearing on the actual novels. If you read between the lines this was hinted at, especially in his relationship with Grindelwald, and Word of God confirms he was in love with him. She also said in an interview that she'd always known the reason Dumbledore initially went with Grindelwald's plans was because of love, and that this was why Grindelwald didn't tell Voldemort Dumbledore had the Elder Wand. In fact, it only came out in an interview because people asked why Dumbledore had started down the path of villainy in the first place.
    • And then there are those who relate to the Death of the Author, suggesting that the author's personal opinion about the characters has no more weight than anyone else's.
  • According to an interview with Anne McCaffrey, this can be executed by making use of a tent peg. Yes, that use of a tent peg.
  • In her book Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan avoids the more obvious choice of using Straw Feminist April for this, making her (reluctantly) heterosexual - and gives the coming-out story to the least likely member of her Four-Girl Ensemble: Bree, the Southern Belle who arrives at Smith with plans to marry her high school boyfriend - before she meets Lara. Subverted to some degree in that she has difficulty identifying as lesbian/bi and sees Lara as a case of If It's You It's Okay.
  • Dono, ex Donna, Vorrutyer in the Vorkosigan Saga probably belongs here. There is no mention of any lesbian tendencies being displayed as Donna, but after his Easy Sex Change, Dono shows interest only in mating with women, and is engaged or about-to-be by the end of A Civil Campaign.
  • In Sweet Valley Confidential, a spin-off from Sweet Valley High that follows Elizabeth and Jessica at age 27, the twins' brother Steven is suddenly revealed to be gay. He'd spent the entirety of the original books as ostensibly heterosexual, married one woman (Cara) and been engaged to another (Billie), and had a nervous breakdown over the death of another girlfriend. His partner, Aaron Dallas, was also presented as heterosexual in the original series; while Tom McKay, the only out gay character previously introduced, doesn't reappear in Confidential.

Live Action TV

  • On 30 Rock, Frank meets a cute guy named Jamie and announces that he's now gay. Later, he decides that he's just "gay for Jamie."
  • The oft-cited Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who initially only showed interest in boys before deciding she was (exclusively) lesbian.
    • Although it was hinted at before hand in Dobbelgangland: "...And I think I'm kinda gay."
  • Similar criticism befell Jack's coming out midway through season two of Dawson's Creek.
  • Depending on how you see it, Fiona on Degrassi, who just came out, may be this. On one hand, she was never shown to have interest in girls and had a boyfriend; on the other hand there was some Les Yay between her and Holly J and she was seen to have flawed relationships with men.
    • Way before Fiona though there was Paige. There was a miniature arc dedicated to her coming out the closet, with her dating Alex. After the break up however she never shows interests in any other female, and even goes back to exclusively dating guys.
  • In Desperate Housewives, Katherine, who has had two husbands and an ex-boyfriend who caused her to have a complete breakdown when he left because "The sex was amazing!", out of no where she suddenly hooks up with a female stripper and leaves for Paris with her after declaring herself a lesbian.
  • Eastenders Sonia Fowler tried being a lesbian for a time with flatmate Naomi, despite previously spending years married to Martin Fowler.
  • Ellen Morgan, from the sitcom Ellen, showed exclusive interest in men for the first three seasons, then began "Switching Teams" in season 4, to coincide with Ellen DeGeneres coming out publicly.
  • Dr. Kerry Weaver of ER spent the first three seasons of her run on the show as a confirmed heterosexual, having been previously married and depicted with two different male paramours (Dr. Ellis and the African guy in seasons 3 and 4 respectively). Then along came Kim Legaspi, and the character went from confused to closeted to Token Lesbian in ten episodes.
  • Santana Lopez from Glee. While she clearly had feelings for Brittany and it makes sense for her to be bisexual, Word of Gay confirmed she is actually a lesbian - which doesn't really explain all the hell she put Quinn, Mercedes and Lauren through for supposedly "stealing" Puck, with whom who she was very sexually active throughout the first season. Possibly ties into the "the mean girl who was desperately together with whatever guy that wanted her, until she was forced to acknowledge that she was in love with her best friend" stereotype amongst Lipstick Lesbians.
  • Greek: After stealing Casey's boyfriend for a night and getting hot and heavy with Cappie over her first winter break, Rebecca Logan recently went the Katy Perry route...and announced that she was a lesbian to the entire sorority.
  • Jake Straka was suddenly gay in the third season of The Guardian.
  • Claire Bennett in season 4 of Heroes.
  • Home and Away had a storyline where Charlie was assigned to a rape case involving Aden's colleagues Joey and Robbo (Joey being the female victim). Charlie eventually had Joey move in with her (and Leah, VJ and Ruby) to keep her safe from both Robbo and Joey's older brother Brett. This progressed predictably, to the point where Charlie and Joey were outed as a couple when Brett painted the word "queer" on Charlie's car. Charlie then buggered it all up in one month by sleeping with Hugo, and after they broke up (and Joey left the show), she went back to Angelo. So far, she's shown little sign of looking back.
  • There was a skit on The Kids in The Hall in which Scott Thompson (the Camp Gay) suddenly revealed he was straight, and married to a woman. He made an announcement where he basically said: "Sorry for coming out as gay, I guess I was just in a hurry."
    • Subverting gay tropes is a bit of a theme with Scott in general, but he gets some mileage from this one. For instance, in the show finale his secretary character, Kathy, comes out as a male transvestite, along with the rest of the skit's cast. Another time, he plays a Rated "M" for Manly action hero star, who promptly goes cruising for young men. In their movie, he plays his other usual role, as a stiff middle class family man, as a closet case whose sexuality comes off as this... to him alone. When he finally accepts it, he has a big song and dance number, parading down the street in celebration, climaxing with everyone else declaring they don't care and walking off.
  • As the page quote demonstrates, Serena Southerlyn from Law and Order came out at the literal last minute, asking if it's why Branch fired her. If you go back and rewatch episodes featuring Serene Southerlyn, she's always been portrayed as very supportive of anything that carries the whiff of a "gay cause", so maybe this was simply foreshadowed way too subtly, especially on a show that doesn't seem capable of subtlety. Word of God states that it was closer to a Throw It In, and the actress' own idea, that she came up with right before shooting. Fortunately, given L&O's legendary aversion to showing the private lives of its characters or any romance (the aforementioned Claire relationship was established primarily through innuendo and a single line of dialogue from a later episode), the sudden revelation of Serena's sexuality didn't really have any continuity to violate.
  • Tom Friendly, one of The Others from Lost, is revealed to have a gay lover on the mainland during a flashback. This really had no effect on the character at all and, in fact, was revealed after he had already died in the present. This has been subtly hinted at in an earlier episode when Friendly was still alive and kicking. Friendly was assigned to watch over Kate, who The Others have captured. Kate is told to take a shower, and comments to Friendly that she doesn't feel comfortable with him looking at her while she does so. Mr. Friendly tells her that she's not his type, and implies that his interests are for the other sex.
    • And it turns out that this is in fact why he was made gay, since fans on message boards joked that Tom was gay because he didn't find Kate attractive. This theory found its way to M.C. Gainey, the actor who played Tom and he decided that actually wasn't a bad idea and started to subtly playing the character as gay.
  • Played with in The Mighty Boosh: In Party, Howard remarks on his intentions to "go gay" if he doesn't get some action from the ladies soon, and it turns out he's not only a virgin, he hasn't even kissed someone before. Defending his chastity, he insists that, when he finally gets physical with someone, it'll be forever. Afterward, he and Vince share a Faux Yay kiss to save Vince from being killed by a model's jealous husband. It's Howard's very First Kiss, and after being starved for affection for so long, he's then convinced that he and Vince have been in love with each other all along, (he retcons their bickering as "sexual tension") and declares himself a "massive gayist." It only lasts until a girl he'd been crushing on shows up.
  • Michael in My Family spends the first nine series being solely attracted to women, then suddenly becomes gay in Series 10.
    • Especially jarring since he spent all of those series between puberty and coming out directing most, if not all, of his intelligence towards the task of getting heterosexually laid.
  • In a textbook case of Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends, one story arc in My Name Is Earl, involving several men vying for the attentions of the same woman, ended tidily when Stuart suddenly became more interested in his gay secret admirer Kenny.
  • In Naeturvaktin, Georg, after his wife and child leave in the season finale, suddenly reveals he is extremely overcome with lust towards Daníel, describing in detail how he wants to taste his innocence and consume him. Justified in that Georg is established to be highly repressed and completely insane, and Olafur is initially amazed by the suddenness but soon concludes it explains a lot.
  • In Noah's Arc, Guy shifts to having affections for Trey out of the blue. There were no real hints leading up to it in the first season, and in fact in one scene he's overheard having sex with his wife. Your Mileage May Vary, but to many it definitely felt like a Retcon.
  • Marissa Cooper on The OC
  • Hunter from the US version of Queer as Folk. Since he entered the show as a prostitute and then showed a particular interest in Brian when they first met, everyone assumes that he's gay. Until he falls in love with a girl and comes out as straight to his foster parents.
  • Bev from Roseanne is revealed as a lesbian near the end of the series, in order to provide irony with her being a conservative prude. Prior to her coming out episode, she had a husband and a boyfriend, the latter of whom she seemed very interested in.
    • The last episode one-ups it by revealing that Jackie was gay, not Bev. Doesn't get more sudden than that. And they managed that by explaining that all or most of the series was a book Roseanne was writing, with gay Jackie/straight Bev being how it was in the "real" world. This had in fact been hinted at, but went over most people's heads. At one point, a character describes what they view as a stereotypical lesbian. Jackie in the background laughs, then realizes they were describing her.
  • Todd from Scrubs might qualify for this in a quite different way: before he came out as bisexual he was the most stereotypically "straight" characters on the show (i.e. constantly making lewd comments at whatever females crossed his path). After he came out, however, he acted exactly the same, except now he directs lewd comments at guys too. In his own words:

Janitor: What the hell are you?
The Todd: I'm The Todd!

    • Although Todd's possible homosexuality had been foreshadowed before. He had been accused of being gay ("Then how come I work out so much?") and joined the female nurses in their protest of Turk and JD kicking out Colin Farrell's character.
  • Seinfeld had Susan, which prompted George to re-examine himself as a representative of the male sex. And then she suddenly turned straight again when "it didn't take".
  • In True Blood, as of season four, Tara has a girlfriend.
  • Frank on The Vicar of Dibley came out as gay during a radio show as part of a gag about no one listening. However, he had only shown interest in women before this announcement, and still continued to show interest in both sexes after it.
  • When Xena: Warrior Princess began, Xena and her partner Gabrielle were totally heterosexual, and just really good friends.
    • As most people will know, later in the series a lesbian relationship between them is strongly implied, though intentionally not made explicit; the one time the question was directly put to Xena and Gabrielle, the episode ended before they could answer. Most fans agree this was caused by the producers catering to Fan Wank more than anything else. Notably, Melissa Good, a fanfic author known for her tasteful portrayal of a lesbian relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, became a story editor in the show's final season, where the lesbian subtext became the most overt.
    • Interestingly, one of the producers said early in the show that she never expected people to see a lesbian relationship between Xena and Gabrielle because people always assumed she and her girlfriend were related and never thought they were in a relationship. As a result, she figured that even if there were legitimate lesbian undertones in the show, no one would actually see them. Clearly, she was mistaken.
  • Skins inverted this with Mini, who was shown to be at least bisexual in the fifth series, with numerous unrequited "girl crushes" on her best friends, but as of the sixth series, there was no sign of that, and she exclusively hooked up with boys (mainly, Alo).

Newspaper Comics

  • After thirty odd years, Mark Slackmeyer coming out in Doonesbury seemed a bit forced.
  • The same could be said for Lawrence in For Better or For Worse, who in earlier strips used to hoot at curvy girls quite enthusiastically with his friend Michael.

Video Games

  • Dragon Age II's Anders did not appear as anything but straight in his first appearance in Dragon Age Origins DLC, Awakening. He flirted with all the female party members (including the PC), and even his character biography included a line about wanting to settle down with a girl. In Dragon Age II it's revealed he is bisexual, but only to male players who have a chance of pursuing him. Female players do not have a hint of him being bisexual.
  • Elk/Endrance of the .hack GU Games. Haseo can be this depending on who he sends a certain postcard to.
  • Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid went from wolf-whistling at Sniper Wolf and ambiguously molesting Meryl as well as flirting with Snake, to having violent and unending Single-Target Sexuality for Big Boss. Still, the relationship was touching and well-written enough that this is generally regarded as an improvement.
  • Kaidan Alenko talked about his first girlfriend and was a romance option for a female PC in the first game, he also had some light flirting going on with a woman during the second. In Mass Effect 3 he will come on to a male Shepard if treated like the close friend he is- even if he knows you are in a loving relationship with a woman/another man.
    • The dialogue states that the reason Kaidan never flirted with a male PC is because he was very focused on his career.
    • In Mass Effect: Deception , Hendel inexplicably becomes straight, without even the simplest of handwaves.

Web Comics

  • Bobwhite. In this interim comic, one of the rejected story ideas involves Ivy suddenly being retconned as a lesbian. "Also I've always had a crush on Marlene, all of a sudden."
  • Gamzee in Homestuck was unique amongst the shipping-obsessed trolls to have shown no romantic or sexual attraction to anyone of any kind, even the trolls's platonic romances. Later on, a flashback showed Gamzee suggesting that he and Tavros make out. Due to Tavros being dead and Gamzee being murderously crazy, it remains to be seen if this will be brought up again. Less of a case than most since trolls are a culture for whom the term "bisexual" doesn't even apply, let alone make sense, and any given troll being depicted as "male" or "female" is just for characterization (and fanservice).[1]
  • Main character Italy Ishida from The Lounge, who while having a bunch of sexual encounters with her female friend Aya (which were usually played for laughs), also showed interest in men including the main male character Max, which made it seem like she was bisexual, or that her sexuality didn't matter. Later on she declared that she was only a lesbian and a bunch of other times Italy and Aya had sex were retconned in to justify their new relationship.
  • Given that in his earlier appearances in human form he explicitly comments on dealing with the sexual urges he feels toward human women, Artie of Narbonic turned out somewhat like this. The decision to establish him as gay just seemed very hastily and poorly executed..
    • The revelation in Skin Horse that "Sweetheart prefers girls!" seemed to come out of nowhere, but in retrospect merely adds another dimension to what's always been her closest relationship anyway. Meanwhile, Tip's interest in Artie is presented as "open to experimentation" meets Even the Guys Want Him. It does raise some questions about Sweetheart's slightly unfortunate taste in women.
  • Averted with Ethan in Shortpacked. After he realizes that he is gay, not that much changes and he even points out that he didn't have a very active love life before that.
  • Parodied in the Sore Thumbs strip quoted above when Cloudcuckoolander Harmony blythely decides to break up with her Strawman Conservative boyfriend and become a lesbian upon seeing a woman rip a nightclub to pieces with her bare hands, only to switch back later.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Parodied in an episode of American Dad where Stan's friend's wife announces she's leaving him because she's a lesbian. When he protests, she says "You don't just become lesbian! It's not like someone shot an experimental ray into my brain that made me a lesbian!" Of course, Stan did just that; he's trying to get his friend, who's an atheist, to convert to Christianity by putting him through a Job-like situation.
  • Randal in Clerks the Animated Series apparently has the power of inducing this, as it's revealed in Episode 5 that every woman he's dated switched teams shortly after breaking up with him. He takes this as a sign that he is the "ultimate male". And all of the lesbian characters in this episode were hilariously voiced by male actors—one of whom was Kevin Smith himself. This is a Mythology Gag to Chasing Amy, another part of The View Askewniverse.
  • Lexington, of Gargoyles, did show interest in a random group of human-turned-gargoyle girls in 'The Mirror' and chased after Angela when she joined the clan, but was also the first to stop chasing after her. It's been hinted that his sexuality wasn't pinned down until the Angela-meets-the-Trio episode, and Greg Weisman has offered that Lex was just going along with what was expected of him as a young man to do, before he realized his heart wasn't really in it. That is how it happens for many real life queer individuals, so it works.
  • Inverted in an episode of King of the Hill where Peggy finds out that her effeminate hairdresser is straight, and has been married to a woman for some time.
  • Patty in The Simpsons seems like this at first when she comes out. She dates Skinner for a while and seems to enjoy it, dumping him because of her sister rather than her sexuality (though it's possible to read her relationship as being a form of The Beard knowing what we know now). The hints had actually been there for a while, the earliest one was in Season 4, where she's one of the people who went to the local burlesque house that Marge's group shame into getting to tear it down, just two seasons after she dated Skinner and long before it became official in Season 16. The even series hung a lampshade on this, with her commenting "There goes the last lingering trace of my heterosexuality" upon seeing a naked Homer—admittedly in a non-canon (even for this show) "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween Episode, and another episode where the main family was watching a gay pride parade, and the float for the "Still in the Closet" gays featured two hands waving out, with one voice (obviously Smithers) chanting, "We're gay! We're glad!" and another voice, obviously one of Marge's sisters following up: "But don't tell Mom and Dad!"
  • The Smurfs are supposed to be an One-Gender Race or genderless. Yet, right after Smurfette's transformation into being a real Smurf, they are like Hello, Nurse!.
  • Mr./Ms. Garrison on South Park is the embodiment of this trope, starting out as a closeted homosexual, token homosexual, heterosexual woman (after her sex change), a lesbian, and finally a man again (though his current sexuality hasn't been confirmed yet). This is even lampshaded when she tells her class about her sudden change to lesbianism, after she comes right out and says she's gay, and Stan asks, "Again?" Chef probably put it best a long time ago: "There's a huge difference between gay people, and Mr. Garrison" since he's also had sex with animals and tried to rape children.
    • Jimbo was similarly outed as a homosexual during a discussion about f-word privileges. Garrison's use of the term was uncensored, and everyone else got bleeped. Then Jimbo said it. Hilarity Ensues.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: There's plenty of instances where people have "discovered themselves" later in life after dating someone of the opposite sex. Even more justified for young people who are just starting to explore sexuality.
  • Chris Birch, a British man claims he "woke up gay" after suffering a stroke.
  1. ignoring for a moment that thus far, all non-platonic romances, as well as non-platonic hate-romances, have been between pairs of trolls who have been depicted as opposite sexes; the only "homosexual" relationship aside from Gamzee is an unrequited attraction