Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
placeholder article
placeholder article

March Madness of Shipping

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

While sports fans follow the March Madness of basketball, I follow the March Madness of shipping. That is, Zimbio’s popular tournament to determine the internet’s favorite TV couple. 2016 was the 5th annual tournament and drew 4.7 million total votes, the largest number in the tournament’s history. I will withhold the name of winner until the end of this article!

The first round was composed of 32 matches between 64 couples, followed by a second round, then the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4, and the championship. There was, as always, a mix of television genres and sexualities represented.

First round

Half of my ships made it past the first round. The other half of couples that were cut included some of my favorites: Jamie & Claire (Outlander), Abbie & Ichabod (Sleepy Hollow), Jessica & Luke (Jessica Jones), Mickey & Ian (Shameless), Jake & Amy (Brooklyn Nine Nine), and Sherlock & Watson (Sherlock).

Of the couples, and based on their chances at the time I voted, I decided Emma & Regina (Once Upon a Time) were the most likely to win out of my favorites. Clarke & Lexa (The 100) as well as Cosima & Delphine (Orphan Black) had a good chance of winning, especially considering the recent (equally devastating) developments in both of their shows. Clarke & Lexa nearly won in 2015, losing in the championship to Root & Shaw (Person of Interest). Femslash has been gaining popularity in the last few years, or at least more visibility, as with this tournament.


Second round

The second round pitted two heavy-hitters Rumple & Bell (Once Upon a Time) and Dean & Castiel (Supernatural) against each other. Both made it to the Final 4 in 2013 and 2014. It surprised me that Rumple & Bell lost; Once Upon a Time returned as the tournament began, while Supernatural was on a hiatus.

After this round’s eliminations, I had three ships left, Emma & Regina, Dean & Castiel, and Clarke & Lexa. I bet that Emma & Regina would make it through to the next round, but Clexa was pitted against Dean & Castiel. At the time I voted, the contest between the two ships was close. I would have rooted for either ship to make it to the next round, but voted for Dean & Castiel because it was one of my first major ships in high school and thus holds a special place in my shipper heart. Because of the loss of many of my top ships, I added Daenerys & Daario (Game of Thrones) and Piper & Alex (Orange is the New Black) to my ships for the third round. At least one of the two is likely to advance to the Super 8.

The ships I rooted for:

Emma & Regina, Ben & Leslie, Clarke & Lexa, Dean & Castiel, Cosima & Delphine, Jane & Michael, Connor & Oliver, Jude & Connor


Sweet 16

Unsurprisingly, Emma & Regina and Clarke & Lexa made it past the Sweet Sixteen. If both made it to the Elite 8, they would face each other, which would undoubtedly turn dramatic. 5/8 of the finalists were femslash, indicative of the trend away from (male) slash ships, particularly those ships that male showrunners have kept in subtext while benefiting from their female audience’s dedication to the characters. I predicted Root & Shaw and Daenerys & Daario would make it to the Super 8.

The ships I rooted for:

Emma & Regina, Clarke & Lexa, Dean & Castiel, Daenerys & Daario, Piper & Alex


Elite 8

Emma & Regina and Clarke & Lexa continued on past the Elite 8, along with Damon & Bonnie (The Vampire Diaries) and Stiles & Lydia (Teen Wolf). I felt safe in predicting Clarke & Lexa would go on to win the whole thing. I voted for Emma & Regina because I ultimately ship them more (their storyline spans five seasons and neither will die in the show) but Clarke & Lexa is appealing because it is a canon relationship.

The ships I rooted for:

Emma & Regina, Clarke & Lexa, Daenerys & Daario, Piper & Alex


Final 4

Clarke & Lexa and Damon & Bonnie moved on to square off in the championship. Clarke & Lexa were clearly set to win the championship; controversy about [SPOILERS FOR THE 100 AHEAD] Lexa’s death continued to swirl on social media and I knew there would be campaigns on social media to get recognition for the ship to underline how important Clarke & Lexa is to many people. On the other side of the Final 4, the latest season of The Vampire Diaries was still airing, but with no controversy covered on nearly every entertainment website to elevate it against Clarke & Lexa.

The ships I rooted for:

Emma & Regina, Clarke & Lexa



I am very pleased to announce that Clarke & Lexa won this year’s March Madness on Friday, March 25th. The ship is the reason I and a large number of others found and began to watch The 100. They deserved to come out on top and the support shippers raised for Clarke & Lexa showed how meaningful the two characters and their relationship is to so many people.

Zimbio released this statement about the win: “The Clexa fandom … has taken its feelings about Lexa’s death on The 100 and actively worked to promote real change. They have raised over $65K for The Trevor Project, and throughout the frenzy of March Madness, Clexa voters made sure to consistently highlight the fandom’s work in advocating for the LGBTQ community.”

You can view the 2016 bracket here. Be sure to vote in next year’s March Madness if you want an alternative the basketball craze and want your ships to sail!


If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, please email mt-holyoke@hercampus.com.

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Casey Linenberg

Mt Holyoke '19

Hi! I'm co-Campus Correspondent for Mount Holyoke's chapter of Her Campus. In addition to HC, I study English and am a member of our campus newspaper.
Mount Holyoke College is a gender-inclusive, historically women's college in South Hadley, MA.