Couples You 'Shipped Before You Knew What 'Shipping Was


One fun aspect of fandom culture entering into the mainstream conversation is that more people are likely to participate in 'shipping, the act of committing as a fan to a potential romantic relationship between two characters. What's better than turning fictional happy endings into a feud between you and your friends? However, audiences have been doing this long before we had a word for it. In fact, the 'ships you 'shipped before you knew what 'shipping was may be some of your most treasured.

We have television to thank for a lot of 'shipping history in fandom, actually. The concept of slash 'shipping started with Kirk and Spock in Star Trek, the original series. The term "shipper" was coined in the mid-90s with The X-Files and the (potential) relationship between Mulder and Scully. For that fandom, you were either pro-ship or anti-ship. The verb meant something a little different, mainly just being in favor of that specific relationship at all.

However, by my own experience and estimation, I think 'shipping blew up and became more recognizable in mainstream fandom about 10 years later. The verb as we know it today was added to Urban Dictionary in 2005, just after the time that fanfiction websites were gaining popularity. Prior to that life-changing era, her are the relationships that we used to root for before it became a full time sport.

Ron & Hermione, Harry Potter

The Harry Potter books are what introduced me to so many aspects of modern fandom, including 'shipping. However, I was sneakily hoping for Ron and Hermione to get together well before the infamous 'Shipping Wars Of 2005-2007 and the fandom that launched a thousand 'shippers.

Warner Brothers

Josh & Donna, The West Wing

I didn't truly get into West Wing until about the middle of the series, but my favorite part of those early episodes when I managed to catch them was these two. Maybe one of the slowest burns of all time.


Charlie & Zoey, The West Wing

Josh and Donna had a flirtation, and Danny and CJ had an even weirder dynamic, but Charlie and Zoey was a true and straightforward romance.


DJ & Steve, Full House

I'm talking the good old days, not whatever is happening on Fuller House.


Chandler & Monica, Friends

If you got into Friends late, when Chandler and Monica were already married or dating, you missed one heck of a 'shipping opportunity.


Ross & Rachel, Friends

Ah, one of the essential "will they or won't they couples who did, and didn't... and then did.


Sawyer & Kate, Lost

Well, to be fair, by the end of the show I was a hardcore Sawyer and Juliet 'shipper who tolerated the fact that Kate and Jack were apparently endgame. Plus, by that time the term had entered everyone's vocabulary. Like Harry Potter, it was right on the cusp of 'shipping culture.


Zack & Kelly, Saved By The Bell

As an adult, I'm a Zack and Lisa 'shipper, but we were all young once.


Slater & Jessie, Saved By The Bell

One of my favorite types of pairings (obviously, as per my Harry Potter preferences) is the nerdy girl and the dopey guy. This one is a classic.


Gordo & Lizzie, Lizzie Maguire

It still hurts to this day. Maybe this show should have made like Harry Potter and had Gordo and Miranda be the sweethearts.

Disney Channel

Angela & Jordan, My So-Called Life

Though, let's be real, you were rooting for Brian to find love too — if not with Angela, with someone.


Sabrina & Harvey, Sabrina The Teenage Witch

Don't think too hard about how all '90s family sitcom boyfriends are kinda the same guy. Harvey's the best.


Buffy & Spike, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Spike was the kind of 'ship that you never thought would really happen — and even when it did, it wasn't perfect. However, that doesn't mean you should stop 'shipping!

The WB

Buffy & Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The love triangle so nice, it gets two slides. Since there was no definitive decision, this debate rages on 20 years later. Angel served as a metaphor for young, angsty vampire love long before Edward Cullen sulked into the picture.

The WB

Willow & Tara, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Sure, Xander had his fair share of love interests, but few relationships on this show were more epic than Willow and Tara.

The WB

Hawkeye & Margaret, M*A*S*H

This one's for all my TVLand kids out there. These two would bicker like nobody's business, refuse to admit that they actually cared about and respected each other, and then every time they thought they would never see each other again they'd freak out and start kissing. It's OTP gold.


Sam & Diane, Cheers

On that note, here are two more who argued their way into each other's arms.


Doug & Patti, Doug

I never 'shipped Helga and Arnold, because even I knew she was taking that crush a bit too far, but Doug and Patti would have been nice.


Cory & Topanga, Boy Meets World

They were probably also your #couplegoals before that was a thing, too.


Shawn & Angela, Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World really was an oddly romantic show — it's too bad that fandom was too early for 'shipping.


Rachel & Tobias, Animorphs

Marco and Cassie were fun, but these two were the real angsty 'ship in the books and on the short-lived Nickelodeon series.


Daria & Tom, Daria

Jane's boyfriend ultimately fell for Daria, and I 'shipped it so hard. Tom might be the best TV boyfriend ever?


Joey & Pacey, Dawson's Creek

I didn't watch this show — I hope this is not a controversial take, but I know more people who 'shipped them than Dawson and Joey.

The WB

Eric & Donna, That '70s Show

The show's major 'ship was a real journey for fans.


Kelso & Jackie, That '70s Show

Be honest, there's always one 'ship you wished would get together IRL.


Marco & Dylan, Degrassi: The Next Generation

While Jake was drifting between Manny, Ashley, and ultimately Ellie, these two were worth rooting for on the Canadian soap.


Paige & Alex, Degrassi: The Next Generation

While I refuse to acknowledge that Spinner and Emma were endgame, Degrassi is another cusp show whose fandom caught on to 'shipping after a few seasons. "Palex" was a great slow burn that started as a friendship and became something more.


Meredith & Derek, Grey's Anatomy

Like Lost and Harry Potter, I think fandoms discovered 'shipping with Grey's pretty early on — but I have to shout out the one that started it all.


Tim & Dawn, The Office UK

They inspired one of the biggest TV 'ships, Pam and Jim, but came first.


Laura & Urkel, Family Matters

OK, so maybe this show was also on before you had the best grasp on which kind of relationships were healthy and which were problematic — but I know you were at least invested in this unrequited crush.


David & Keith, Six Feet Under

More #goals here, to be honest.


Rory and Jess, Gilmore Girls

I'm not biased. If you're going to be rooting for the potential of any one of Rory Gilmore's love interests, it's going to be Jess. (Also they're endgame, so, fight me.)

The WB

Jack & Rose, Titanic

Since I started with the epic Harry Potter book series, I think we should end on an epic film. It's tragic, but you totally 'shipped it.

Fandom may have changed a lot, and some new terms have popularized — but everyone loves love! There are some parts about being a fan that never change.