What Makes Characters Slashable?

Raythe says …

I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and I saw a ton of Naruto slash. I am not familiar with this anime, but man, is there a lot of gay fanfiction written about it.

It made me think about shows and movies that immediately had me feeling that electric spark between two male characters.  It also made me wonder why for some characters that tension is there and why in others it isn’t.

So my theories …

*cracks knuckles*

What’s A Little Bit of Tenderness?

Whenever men are allowed to show physical tenderness towards one another other than the jokey, slap one on the back, side hug, etc. there is that potential sensual spark.  Because it seems so rare that straight men (in the media anyways) allowed to be physically near one another that, if it is done, it signifies something more.

BTW – I’m not saying this is right or how it should be (men should have the full range of physical and emotional intimacy with other men and be completely straight, but this is sometimes a signifier of a slashy couple).


Men who have their most intense relationships with other men.  I often think of Spock and Kirk, especially the end of the second of the newest movies where its clear that the person most important to them is each other.  The women they date are much lower on the scale of importance.  Since the “idealized” romantic relationship is to have your romantic partner be the greatest of importance in your life, this is often a part of what makes a couple slashable.  Again, not saying this is what it should be!

Eye Fucks

Ah, that zing of chemistry between two male leads.  The way their gazes lock! The way they smolder at one another!  The way they linger over one another!  There is evidence that on certain television shows (I’m looking at you, Smallville) there may, in fact, be a conscious effort to physically show desire between the two male characters through gazes alone (since most shows won’t be so bold as to go all the way!)

Now those are just three things, but I know I’m missing a tons more. Write your ideas about what makes a couple slashable below and name your favorite slashy men as well!

21 Responses to What Makes Characters Slashable?

  1. Keith September 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    All characters are slashable.

    Sure, some ships are more obvious than others, because there is this special chemistry, they’re best friends or worse ennemies or whatever, and if they’re both attractive it helps too…

    but when I think of all the ships I’ve come across… in the end, you realize you can ship anyone with anyone and make it work with a good fanfiction. It doesn’t matter if they’ve even met each other or even come from the same universe. All ships are awesome and sometimes I find it super interesting to read about an improbable ship just to see how the author manages to make it work ^^

    • Raythe September 21, 2018 at 7:25 pm #

      I know what you mean. A good story (and writer) can make anything believable. But I find you have to go more and more AU to do that and shift certain personality traits. But yes, any characters can be slashed!

  2. S01986482 September 21, 2018 at 6:07 pm #

    For me it’s when characters need each other or help each other grow. For example, in Smallvile Clark made Lex a better person. Lex needed Clark to be his moral compass. Clark needed someone else who was an outcast so he didn’t feel like he had to be normal. Lex was his solace. I never felt like Lana Lang did much for Clark’s character growth. In fact in a lot of shows I feel like the token couple are pretty useless to each other. Those are the ones that I hate.

    • Raythe September 21, 2018 at 7:27 pm #

      That is one of my most classic couples. I loved that Lex was both weak and strong. Battling the evil within him for love/friendship of one person. Though that’s terrifying in real life. And Clark saw that it was okay being an outcast b/c outcasts can be amazing.

      • CRYSTAL MOBLEY September 21, 2018 at 8:31 pm #

        They usually are, that’s most often why they are outcasts.
        I think love is probably the only true solution to evil in the real world-and elsewhere, too- everything else is an emergency fix; a way to stem the tide long enough for the complex changes in people and societies needing to occur.
        The terrifying and glorious truth is that nothing can stop someone if they want to do a particular thing badly enough.
        Love gives us a reason to think about why we may or may not want to do a thing. Emotional intimacy forces us to consider others, even if we aren’t naturally good at that.

      • AzureH September 23, 2018 at 8:51 am #

        I honestly never dreamed of slash when I was watching smallville back in the day. It woulda made watching that show a bagillion times more interesting. Ay dios mi yo *fans self*

  3. JeanMarie September 21, 2018 at 6:36 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of shipping characters that are seemingly polar opposites. Where the attributes of the individual characters come together to create something more (not that they are incomplete without each other, they are just MORE with each other). Oh, the marina full of ships I have single handedly built over the years! Lol. I enjoy the subtle struggle of two completely different individuals learning and accepting one another (I mean, what is love without some misunderstanding and adversity mingled in?) Otherwise, I agree with Kieth, anyone is slashable depending on where you want them to end up.

    • Raythe September 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

      The idea of them completing each other is wonderful. It really is quite the emotional pull!

  4. Moonlight Iris September 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

    I have to agree with Keith any character is slashable but it takes more from the person doing the fan fiction to make it work and not completely ruin the main book or movie that the character comes from.

    • Raythe September 21, 2018 at 7:34 pm #

      Yeah, if there isn’t the natural spark, you run into issues. I think anyways. It ends up being “original” work which is great too, but if you’re looking for fandom its harder.

  5. CRYSTAL MOBLEY September 21, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

    For me, it starts with a moment of tension, a scene demonstrating strong emotion. It doesn’t always matter if it’s negative or positive, as it’s enjoyable to watch watch both types of couples come together.
    But other things play into it, for instance if you see someone go out of their way to engage with or react to someone in a way that doesn’t fit their usual character, it can make me wonder if they have a stronger response than usual. Beauty is important, but hotness is more important. They have to be smoking hot together, because it’s a needed indicator that things will progress with them, especially in a story that might not be so obvious or start with them in situations that make a ship somewhat difficult to believe

  6. AshestheFae September 21, 2018 at 10:27 pm #

    Oh goodness, lately there has been one pairing I have been obsessing over. It’s kind of a twist of the classic friends to lovers or rivals to lovers tropes that I have major weaknesses for. Not only did they start out as childhood best friends, they grew apart, one started to seemingly hate the other and push him away, practically bullying him, mostly verbally to keep him away. Then they become rivals, acknowledging each other’s strengths, potential, and how much each of them have grown since their childhood. That’s all from the canon material! That is practically begging to be shipped, especially since they push each other past their limits, to do better every time they fight or work together. Every action-packed moment is filled with tension, but they somehow know how to wordlessly cooperate, anticipate exactly what the other will do without saying anything. Plus, in my opinion, neither of them would have been able to grow or mature as well as they did without the other playing some role in their life. Trying to convince me that there isn’t something huge going on between them is absolutely impossible.

    • FaereMage September 22, 2018 at 5:01 am #

      🤔It may just be me but did you just describe Naruto and Sasuke? 😉

      • AshestheFae September 22, 2018 at 7:17 pm #

        I was actually going for Bakugo and Izuku from My Hero Academia, but I could see the parallel for Naruto and Sasuke too~

  7. Raythe September 21, 2018 at 11:20 pm #

    I love how you differentiate between hotness and beauty. There can be a big difference. And the latter is so necessary. I think of some of the gay couples I’ve seen and while they might be pretty if there’s no heat then it’s a no go for me.

  8. a_h_ September 22, 2018 at 1:46 am #

    I am just here to lol at your third and final point, “eye fucks.” XD

  9. unwilling_perfectionist24 September 22, 2018 at 4:31 am #

    This subject really makes me think of my newest ship obsession with Black Panther’s T’Challa and Erik Killmonger. When I saw them together my mind practically screamed “SHIP THEM NOW!!!” And to add spice to the mix they were cousins on top of that, but they could obviously not be related too in fics. Maybe it’s the love/hate thing or maybe as I can see Erik being a big ole tsundere in stories. But sometimes my brain just does it on it’s own which character is really “sexy” or “good” for this other character. For example the Sans/Frisk from Undertale and Sam/Bumblebee from the Transformers movies are by far my strangest ships to date. Makes me wonder sometimes what the hell is wrong with me XD lol!

  10. Camcc September 22, 2018 at 8:56 am #

    Bromance: These are the guys that always call each other to go drinking, to a sports game, to play poker, and just all over talk too. They are never really apart from each other. Examples: Jax and Eric or Daric from Vanderpump Rules, any of the boys from Jersey Shore, and I could probable name more if I watched more TV.

    Favorite Couples: Superheroes and Villains : Thor and Loki
    Superman and Lex (Smallville version)
    Aquaman and His Bother (New Movie coming out)
    Batman and the Joker
    Werewolf and Vampire

    Just Characters: Sherlock Homes and Watson
    Kirk and Spock
    Hawkeye and Peirce (M.A.S.H)

    So those are the ones I like. If you don’t know M.A.S.H. sorry.

  11. Ingonyama September 22, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

    Slash for me is entirely on a fandom-by-fandom basis. Once I immerse myself in a show or fandom, a slashy couple or slashable person will emerge from that based around who I’m interested in and what kind of chemistry they have.

    I’m a lifelong X-Men fan, with more than a decade’s worth of experience writing slash of them…specifically, of putting Wolverine with anything in that universe with a penis and a modicum of sexual attractiveness to me. But I can also slash Iceman, Beast, Gambit, Magneto, Nightcrawler, and even Cyclops to some degree. In fact, I know most of the X-Men well enough to put them in some sort of slash relationship configuration, from one-night stands to long-term relationships and back again.

    Additionally, becuse I prefer the X-Women as characters (Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, and Jean Grey specifically), but am also gay as the day is long, I write the occasional “Rule 63” fic of them as men involved with someone or other. Again, because there are so many X-Men, it’s easy to put any or all of them together in almost any configuration.

    NOTE: All my X-Men writing experience comes from variants on the comics universes, not the movies. While I like recent movies better than older ones, the films have never really captured what makes the X-Men good, instead focusing so hard on the “mutants-as-metaphor” thing that every film started feeling like a sledgehammer to the skull by the time first Class rolled around. (Besides, I was shipping Charles and Erik back when one was bald and the other was a hot silver daddy, and neither were being played by a prominent Shakespeean veteran with a “Sir” in thier name :p)

    There’s one caveat: I have to be able to like both parties in a slash pairing for it to work. For example, in Voltron I like Shiro and Keith (“Sheith”), or Hunk (“Shunk?)”, but it took me until the very last season to warm up to Lance, so I don’t pair him with anyone. The Adam revelation in Season 7 was a surprise, albeit not a pleasant one, but it gave whatever relationship I wanted to write a good jumping-off point. (Frankly, I didn’t like Adam enough as a character to want to save him via “Fix Fic”)

    Similarly, though I have gotten into the Avengers and the greater MCU in recent years (since 2012, obviously), shipping characters has become easier and easier. Certain characters are either not my type (mostly Loki, sorry fam), or made a bad first impression that never went away (Tony *disgusted noise* Stark), but otherwise the MCU is about as shippable for me as the X-Men universe, Rule 63 and all.

    However, an interesting animal has comme up in the form of the Thor/Captain America pairing (“Thundershield”). While there’s slash potential in nearly every Avenger revealed thus far, both mainstream and satellite (i.e. Black Panther, who has not yet fomally joined the team as of 2018), these two seem to be the main focus of my slash-writing attention. Maybe it’s Asgard’s classic fantasy setting, or the fact that Evans and Hemsworth are objectively the best my favorite of the Chrises, but I can write slash of them easier than I’ve ever writtne slash of anyone, including the mountains of Wolverine fiction in my backlog.

  12. Guess who September 23, 2018 at 12:37 am #

    Hmm tbh I’m not gonna say much since I’m more of a simple-minded person, so to me, if the ship is there, and there’s canon everywhere… THEN LET THE SHIP SAIL MUAHAHAHAHAH //I’ll make the ship sail with or without canons anyway _(:3/<)_
    I mean, there was, a once upon a time innocent me, shipping Shinichi and Ran (from Case Closed/Detective Conan) until I realized… Kaitou KID is far more badass. So I started shipping Kaito and Shinichi XD
    Also, people started shipping Naruto and Sasuke because the earlier episodes, the one prior to Sasuke leaving and getting… Er, replaced, by Sai, had a lot of NaruSasu moments, in the openings, endings, and even in the episode themselves. //Referring to that one training where Naruto and Sasuke kissed XD
    //Okay that's enough rambling for me.

    What I like the most about slashable characters and stories with slashable characters is when the author themselves drops a hint or two in non-slash stories…. Remember Rick Riordan's Mark of Athena? It caused a huge sensation because none of us knew that…. Okay, I'm not gonna spoil it. But we've seen signs of it, but wasn't sure //it's a book that everyone reads, who knew such a huge bomb will be dropped? XD

  13. Tlcatlady September 26, 2018 at 4:35 am #

    I discovered the whole slash scene through various fan fiction stories and find myself drawn to characters that appear to be polar opposites until they learn more about each other. Preferably, it’s an older/ younger pairing and I fluctuate between who is the more sensitive/ vulnerable/ emotionally self-aware of the two.
    It’s never specifically been about the beauty factor (though who DOESN’T love a good eye fuck opportunity?), instead its more about making me care about the characters and their hidden vulnerabilities that finally can be shared in a safe environment.
    Ultimately, it’s a couple that plays off each other’s strengths and weaknesses, MUST include elements of humor, and are truly believable in the relationship that works best for me.

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