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

Have you ever watched a show or read a book and saw two characters that just… felt right together? You couldn’t help but notice their incredible chemistry, witty interactions, and overall amazing dynamic? I did this a lot growing up, before I even realized I was engaging in what is called “shipping.” Shipping comes from the word “relationship,” and it’s where you pair two fictional characters in a romantic relationship. Shipping can be pretty casual and simple by just saying, “Wow, I think these two characters would be great as a couple!” In fandom culture, a lot of people express their love for certain ships by drawing fanart or writing fan fiction of these two characters together. 

Sometimes, a ship will end up becoming “canon.” Canon means to have a piece of media acknowledge something and make it true to the story. For the most part, a lot of the ships I love became canon. For example, I’ve loved Miraculous Ladybug growing up (and still do to be honest… may have a problem). Adrienette, a portmanteau of the two main characters named Adrien and Marinette, recently became canon after EIGHT YEARS of teasing! I was so happy when they finally got together I couldn’t shut up for the whole week (sorry to my friends for having to listen to my babbling). 

However, there are moments where this doesn’t happen. You invest so much time, energy, and love into this fictional relationship, only for it to not happen. It honestly can break your heart and it happens so often. These ships are the ones I want to talk about today. The ships that never were and will never be, no matter how many times you wish it did. 

Here are a few of my personal favorite ships that never got canonized.

Zutara – Avatar the Last Airbender 

Okay please don’t attack me! When talking about non-canon ships that had a massive cult following, you just have to mention Zutara. They are pretty much the pioneers of “ship that never happened and you felt disappointed.” People still talk about it a lot years later and still argue on whether it should’ve happened. Personally, I liked it a lot when I was younger. The Sun and Moon, Yin and Yang, Fire and Water motifs were too strong and hard to ignore, even when I was 9. To me, it could’ve the perfect enemies to friends to lovers dynamic. As I’ve gotten older, this feeling has mellowed out and I prefer Kataang a lot more. But you have to admit, the trust and friendship Zuko and Katara developed was very beautiful and I see why people loved it so much. 

Starlight x Maud – My Little Pony: Friendship 

I admit I still watch My Little Pony as a college student! I’ve watched every season and episode, and know the show by heart. Starlight Glimmer and Maud Pie, were introduced in seasons four and five respectively. Maud Pie is the sister of Pinkie Pie and Starlight Glimmer is a former villain turned good. These two seem a little random together I know, but trust it makes sense! They both met in the season seven episode “Rock Solid Friendship” and became very close. Starlight Glimmer feels insecure due to her past. Maud is often seen as very weird by other ponies due to her behavior and extreme love of rocks. However, their friendship is based on the idea that they get each other. Starlight even says, “She’s weird in a good way, she sees the world in a totally different way than any pony I’ve ever met. She accepts me for who I am.” when talking about her. Maud was wondering if she should move to Ponyville in that episode, and made that decision to do so because of her friendship with Starlight. I don’t know, I think that’s very sweet and they would’ve been so cute together. 

Cassunzel – Tangled the Series 

Many people are familiar with Tangled, but did you know they made a full three season series for it? It aired back in 2017-2020 and I was so obsessed with it. One of my favorite things to come from it was Cassandra, the spunky and deadpan lady in waiting for Rapunzel. Cassandra really cared for Rapunzel (before her villain arc…) and a lot of their interactions to me were adorable. Obviously, they couldn’t be together because that would mean ret-conning the movie. Eugene and Rapunzel are so cute, but hey, who said I can’t enjoy Cassunzel too? 

Draculaura and Clawdeen – Monster High 

As you can tell, many of my favorite non-canon ships are sapphic and this is no exception. In theory, I think Clawdeen and Draculaura would’ve been cute together. Clawdeen is very protective over Draculaura and they are very close. Clawdeen can be very snippy with other monsters, every monster except Draculaura (most of the time). She clearly had a soft spot for her, especially because they grew up together. Although, I think Clawd and Draculaura are so lovable too and I’m happy that they are canon instead. 

Klance – Voltron: Legendary Defender

This one is a bit of a cheat, considering I never watched Voltron: Legendary Defender. However, I had remembered this ship while writing and realized how big of a huge fan base it had. Even if you weren’t involved with the fandom, you KNEW about Keith and Lance and their chemistry. Everyone loves a good red and blue pairing. You also knew how upset people were when they didn’t get together. It almost rivaled the reaction to Zutara never becoming canon in my opinion.

I feel like shipping is such a beloved part of fandom culture. It brings a lot of people together. I’m not under the belief that a ship has to be canon in order to enjoy it. It’s okay to like ships that never happened (nor have a chance of happening) and obsess over them. Have fun, because that’s the whole point of fandom.

Sithmi Rajaguru is currently a sophomore English major at Virginia Commonwealth University. She's a first-generation Sri Lankan-American college student. Her biggest hobby is doll collecting, specifically Bratz and Monster High dolls! Her favorite color is pink and she loves to write fun articles! She also loves to watch nostalgic TV shows (mostly kids' shows) such as Miraculous Ladybug, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Winx Club, etc. She plays video games such as the Sims 4, Persona 5, etc. in her downtime. <3