It’s tough to talk about being a nerd and part of a fandom and not talk about the ships within. Whether canon or not, rooting for your favorite romantic pairing has long been a big part of the fun for some fans. I say this confidently as one such fan and a sailor on many such ships, and what better way to celebrate shipping than to bring you 2019’s Top Twelve Fictional* romantic ships on Archive of Our Own, the most popular fanfic site online. Some of these are ships I know, some are ships I sail myself, and some are ships I have no clue about (or downright dislike), but all are a big part of our happy obsessions with the shows, movies, and books we love. This is a list of the top 12 fictional ships overall in 2019, I’ll also list the top fic pairings with the newest fics from 2017-2019.
*I chose to only discuss fictional ships, as Real Person Ships involve — you guessed it — real people
1.) Castiel/Dean Winchester Supernatural: 79,650 works
It should come as no surprise that Dean and Cas are the #1 ship on AO3, as it’s the pairing that has dominated ship lists for years. Their “profound bond” has withstood the strain of distance, death, and mind control. Now the only questions for fans of Destiel are this: in their final year, will the Angel and Hunter’s unspoken UST become canon?
2.) Sherlock Holmes/John Watson Sherlock (TV) 59,436 works
It may have been three years since the last episode, but JohnLock fans have shown there’s more to tell when it comes to the classic detective and his Doctor. Though never canon, shippers have plenty of fodder to keep them entertained for many years more.
3.) Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski Teen Wolf (TV) 56,021 works
Ahh Teen Wolf. I am not as familiar with the show or Sterek, but that doesn’t mean their fans aren’t prolific. It’s not surprising when the enemies to friends to lovers trope is so big and the chemistry between Stiles and Derek is obvious to even a casual viewer like me.
4.) James “Bucky” Barnes/Steve Rogers Captain America (Movies) 43,515 works
One of the major factions competing for who should get Captain America’s affections is Stucky. Bucky and Steve were friends way back when, even before Steve weighed more than my 11 year old. Close friends in every single iteration of CA,though more of a hero/sidekick relationship in the comics, the ship went full-sail and became widely known after Winter Soldier.
5.) Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter Harry Potter – J. K. Rowling 33,110 works
Nothing says teen love like trying to kill each other and backstabbing, at least not if you’re a fan of Drary! The enemies/lovers trope is huge within this fandom, and it’s clearly not going anywhere even after 20+ years.
6.) Steve Rogers/Tony Stark The Avengers (Marvel Movies) 30,700 works
On the other end of the Avenger’s ship battles is Stony- the pairing of Steve and Tony Stark, billionaire smartass/Iron Man. Their relationship shifts throughout the multiverse of Marvel, and fans of the comics have seen the charged relationship between the two for years (the comics show a much more flirty vibe), but the ship became much more widely known when the chemistry of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans came off the screen in the MCU.
7.) Keith/Lance (Voltron) Voltron: Legendary Defender 27,848 works
I have to admit, I’m not familiar with Klance, but the pairing of rivals turned comrades, if not all out friends is a common theme in slash ships. Unlike many ships on the list, Klance is slightly more lighthearted than angst, and is the major ship in the Voltron fandom.
8.) Dean Winchester/Sam Winchester Supernatural 26,287 works
The oldest ship in Supernatural, Wincest, the incestuous relationship between the Winchester brothers, has been around since Supernatural began, with Dean and Sam both even going so far as to denounce it within the show itself in some of the more meta episodes.
9.) Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov Yuri!!! on Ice (Anime) 22,515 works
While I’m not familiar with Yuuri!!! On Ice, it’s always nice to see a canon slash pairing! The skating pair has been going strong since Episode 7 when Victor gave Yuuri a big ol’ smoocharoo.
10.) Magnus Bane/Alec Lightwood Shadowhunters (TV) 21,224 works
I’ll admit, I’m not familiar with Malec outside of what I see on Tumblr, but another canon slash pairing is always good to see. Magnus refusing to marry for political gain in order to be with Alec sent this ship full sail on Shadowhunters, though the pair were also canon within the Mortal Instruments book series.
11.) Merlin/Arthur Pendragon Merlin (TV) 21,068 works
It may never have been official, but Merthur was a pretty heavily insinuated ship, with the hate to love trope going full steam. The two bicker like an old married couple, and the devotion each shows for the other is plenty to keep the Merthur fandom fed for years.
12.) Blaine Anderson/Kurt Hummel Glee 15,245 works
Klaine is one of, if not the most popular ships on Glee. It was as refreshing to see, as their relationship took the (albeit TV dramatic) same course of hetero ships on the show. The two were together, broke up, made some questionable choices, and ultimately got their Happy Ever After.
Biggest Fictional Ship Climbers 2019:
- Kara Danvers/Lena Luthor (Supergirl) +48
- Chat Noir/Marinette Dupain-Cheng (Miraculous) +35
- Pepper Potts/Tony Stark The Avengers (Marvel Movies) +18
- Dean Winchester/Reader +18
- Fox Mulder/Dana Scully X-Files +17
Biggest Ship Tumbles 2019
- Mary Morstan/John Watson Sherlock (TV) -29
- Allison Argent/Scott McCall Teen Wolf (TV) -29
- Clark Kent/Lex Luthor Smallville -28
- Marco Bott/Jean Kirstein Shingeki no Kyojin | Attack on Titan – 28
- James T. Kirk/Leonard “Bones” McCoy Star Trek: Alternate Original Series -27
2019 Top Fics for New Work:
(Bold indicates new to the Top 20 List)
- Keith/Lance Voltron: Legendary Defender 17,280 New Works
- Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers The Avengers 15,691 New works
- Castiel/Dean Winchester Supernatural 13,537 New Works
- Magnus Bane/Alec Lightwood Shadowhunters 11,569 New Works
- Steve Rogers/Tony Stark The Avengers 10,867 New Works
- Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter Harry Potter 10,723 New Works
- Peter Parker & Tony Stark (GEN) The Avengers 10,285 New works
- Keith/Shiro Voltron: Legendary Defender 9,202 New Works
- Rey/Kylo Ren Star Wars 9,083 New Works
- Katsuki Bakugou/Midoriya Izuku My Hero Academia 9,022 New Works
- Katsuki Yuuri/Victor Nikiforov Yuri!!! on Ice 8,653 New Works
- Kirishima Eijiro/Bakugou Katsuki My Hero Academia 8,516 New Works *
- Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski Teen Wolf 8,516 New Works *
- Aziraphale/Crowley Good Omens 8,475 New Works
- Adrien Agreste/Marinette Dupain-Cheng Miraculous Ladybug 8,196 New Works
- Midoriya Izuku/Todoroki Shouto My Hero Academia 8,136 New Works
What are some of your favorite ships? What do you think is missing from the lists? Most of my ships aren’t on here (the struggle is real), but hey, it’s great to see so much content for fandom!