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TV Shows and the Queer Character

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Davidson chapter.

The queer character in television has really come into its own. So here’s a brief profile of some shows that highlight queer characters and queer relationships. *This article contains plot spoilers.*

The 100: While I’m not an active follower of the show, the Internet exploded when Lexa, after just getting together with Clarke, got shot and killed. Literally, right after they’d slept together. Up until that point, the show had spent a lot of time crafting the relationship between the two, so many felt it a cheap shot to just ruin all that build-up with a surprise death.

Torchwood/Doctor Who: Jack Harkness is one of the greatest bisexual characters featured on a television show. He gives a farewell kiss to a woman and a man in a period of a minute, and the show treats both like they’re equally important (in Doctor Who). He was so popular he got a spin-off show, Torchwood, in which he gets into a relationship with his male coworker Ianto Jones. The two fight alien invasions together until Ianto gets killed by said aliens, which fans are still angry about today.

As you may have noticed, my first two shows deal with queer characters who die in their respective shows. Though it is unknown to many people, this trope has a persistent history, going back as far as the lesbian vampire story, Carmilla. Queer characters have to be killed off. Despite how it sounds, the trope has some noble origins. Back in the days of very strict censorship, anyone who wanted to write about queer relationships had to ensure one thing, the punishment of queer desire and the return to heteronormativity. It wasn’t a great system, but it did allow queerness to be talked about. Unfortunately, even after the censors went away, the trope had already been established and wasn’t going anywhere.

So to combat this rather annoying and somewhat depressing trope, here’s some television shows with queer characters who don’t die.

Shadowhunters: While still hitting the ground in terms of setting up its main queer relationship, the show actively deals with being queer in the modern world, both in terms of people who are out and those who aren’t. Alec Lightwood begins as a closeted homosexual who struggles to deal with his attraction to his straight best friend, who later becomes an out bisexual who consistently flirts with him. The show does an amazing job with portraying realistic queer characters who aren’t just stereotypes of their sexuality.

Carmilla: A web series based on that lesbian vampire novel I mentioned earlier, the show takes place in a modern day college, where Laura’s first roommate is mysteriously replaced with a woman named Carmilla, who just so happens to be a vampire. The show focuses a lot on the twists and turns of Carmilla and Laura’s relationship, but they are together and neither of them is dead, so that’s a plus.

Orange Is the New Black: While the show has been out for a while, I felt the need to include it strictly because of Laverne Cox’s portrayal of Sophia Burset, and because television is in desperate need of more trans characters. Props to the show for actually getting a trans actress to play a trans character, as opposed to just hiring a cis woman. The show also does a great job portraying other sexualities, so check it out.

There you have it. A brief profile of some shows you can watch if you’re looking for representation. Stay queer everybody!

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Emi Moore


Just an English nerd drowning in words. English major with a Film and Media Studies minor. Aspiring to write many novels, films, television shows, and video games. Avid reviewer of movies, theatrical productions, videogames and pretty much anything you can possibly review.