This list came about because I was watching a programme about the greatest TV shows of the decade. It was a terrible list that made no sense and made me quite angry so I decided to write my own. But instead of TV programmes I decided to do pairings that I’ve supported from the past ten years. They bring me squee and sadness in equal measure yet I still ship my little heart out.
The Rules: For a ship to be included it must have existed, at least in part, during the ten years spanning 2000 to 2009. So ships from programmes that started in the nineties and ran into the noughties are ok, but ships from programmes that finished before 2000 are not, even if I discovered/continued shipping them in the noughties. (Sorry Maddie/David.)
Because there was no way I was going to be able to put these in order of preference (I love them all!) I’ve listed them in chronological order instead:
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X Files (1993-2002)
What would be a better way to start this list than the couple that gave it its title? Or at least part of it. Yes, it’s thanks to Mulder and Scully that we even have the term shipper, and by extension ship and shipping, and I for one thank them for it. And the X Files was such a huge part of my life when I was younger and I have memories of watching whole box sets at a time. VHS box sets, of course, where a single season took up as much space as the whole series would now on DVD. It was a brilliant show with interesting characters, intriguing storylines and what appeared to be an intelligent and well-thought out conspiracy theory running right through the centre of it all. Later seasons showed the ‘well-thought out’ bit to be a complete and total lie but still. We had Mulder and Scully, total opposites but loyal partners. Often the only person either could trust was the other. Sure they may have peaked in the nineties and by the noughties the whole show had gone a bit off the rails but their partnership always held. (Except for the “tiff” arc in season three. Oh how I hated that.)
Xena and Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)
I almost didn’t include this pairing because for me Xena was at its best in its first three seasons and after that went completely downhill. My reasoning was that the characters I loved so much were only in episodes from the nineties and therefore shouldn’t be included, but this is my list and my rules and since the show did run until 2001 I’m allowing it. How could I not when Xena and Gabrielle are soul mates? No matter what period of history they are in they always find each other. Their status as lovers has always been semi-canon with the writers deliberately making it so that their relationship could be read either way but watching the show I don’t see how you can doubt what they meant to each other.
Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)
Voyager. One of my main obsessions for quite a few years when I was younger. I had two main ships from this programme, Tom/B’Elanna and Janeway/Chakotay. But whereas Janeway/Chakotay appeared strong then fizzled out into nothing, Tom and B’Elanna’s relationship grew and strengthened as time went on. They were the long lasting couple of the series and they showed that it was possible to have a couple be together and have it be just have it be another aspect of the story, not something they had to mess up over and over again to “keep it fresh” or whatever. I suppose the fact that it was an ensemble show helped a lot with that.
Harmon Rabb and Sarah Mackenzie from JAG (1995-2005)
JAG was a long running show and I probably haven’t seen even half the episodes, but I still managed to ship Mac and Harm. Towards the end of its life the show itself drifted very much into irritatingly jingoistic territory with the accused American sailors always found to be in the right and the fault always resting elsewhere (Yes, the American did bomb a British base but only because the Brits were accidentally sending out a signal identifying themselves as the enemy. Yes, the American did kill a civilian child but that child was planning to blow them all up...) and I stopped finding much of it enjoyable, but I always liked Harm and Mac. And, after a decade of flirting, they finally agree to get married and leave their fate up to a coin toss. As you do.
Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2002)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my first fandoms and Buffy/Angel was always my main ship in it, at least until Tara showed up. I saw a lot of myself in Tara, awkward and shy, which was unusual for television, a medium which always seemed to imply that you had to be confident and witty in order to matter. Even Willow, the supposedly shy character from the early seasons, had always been far more outgoing than I had ever been. Maybe that’s why I liked this couple, maybe it gave me hope that I too could go to university and fall in love with a hot redhead (I didn’t, of course), but actually I think it was more to do with the fact that they were one of the sweetest couples ever. They cared about each other, they were fiercely loyal to each other, they looked after each other and they were quite clearly in love with each other. They weren’t perfect, obviously, they had fights and things didn’t always go to plan, but they always came back to each other in the end. And that is why I completely deny the canon ending of their relationship. As far as I am concerned they are both alive and well and living happily ever after together somewhere in the world. The end.
Piper Halliwell and Leo Wyatt from Charmed (1998–2006)
Yeah, Charmed gets a lot of stick but I like it. It’s good silly fun that you shouldn’t take seriously. And at the heart of it all is the relationship between Piper and Leo. They married, had a child, split up, had another child, reunited and Leo had to disappear for much of the last season due to budget issues but they got their happy ending in the series finale and you really felt like they’d earned it.
John Crichton and Aeryn Sun from Farscape (1999-2004)
Farscape was one big roller coaster ride of weirdness that, just when it looked like it couldn’t get any stranger, rolled right over the edge into complete insanity. But in the centre of this giant freak show was the love story of John Crichton and Aeryn Sun. The show loved to tease us by getting them together and then ripping them apart and at one point it looked like all hope was lost. But then the miniseries came out and gave these two the happy ending they deserved, albeit slightly dampened by what happened to D’Argo. Those damn TV people just hate to give you a completely happy ending, don’t they?
Charlie Young and Zoey Bartlet from The West Wing (1999-2006)
As we all know, The West Wing was a brilliant show. And one which had many potential ships to latch on to. There was the clever and romantic relationship between Bartlet and Abbey. CJ and Danny always had something going on. And Josh and Donna totally belonged together. But none of those ships hooked me like that of president’s aide Charlie and president’s daughter Zoey. I’m not even sure I could tell you why, maybe it was the incredible sweetness of their first meeting, maybe it was the neo-Nazi storyline (I do like to see my couples triumphing against adversity), maybe it was because Charlie always belonged in the Bartlet family. Whatever it was, I loved them together and I really wish they had had more screen time as a couple. Their relationship was just kinda forgotten, lost to various other storylines. It’s certainly possible to believe that they are still together, since the last we saw of them there was talk of marriage, but it seems a bit weird that Charlie, a main character till the end, never mentions it again. A disappointing non-resolution for these characters who deserved so much more.
Logan/Wolverine and Marie/Rogue from X Men (2000)
My only film ship in this list. I was going to limit it to just TV shows but I shipped this ship so hard at the time that I can’t leave it out. It’s also the only ship on my list that isn’t canon (or obviously hinted at soon-to-be canon). I know a lot of people see the Logan/Rogue relationship simply as a sweet guardian/ward or brother/sister type deal. I am not one of those people. I think we can all agree that there was a real connection between the two and a real love there. I don’t think that just because he is older than her that that love was necessarily familial. Normally I go for canon pairings so this is unusual for me, but I think that there was definitely something romantic between Logan and Rogue that their supposed canon relationships just didn’t have. I never bought Logan’s feelings for Jean as anything more than a way to annoy Scott and I didn’t see any chemistry between Rogue and Bobby. Fortunately I am not alone in my thinking and there is plenty of fanfiction out there for me to read and get my Logan/Rogue fix!
Max Guevara and Logan Cale from Dark Angel (2000-2002)
Dark Angel was one of those shows where the first season was fantastic and having to wait all summer for the conclusion of the cliffhanger almost killed me, only for the second season to be a bitter disappointment. Logan and Max were in love, they knew it, we knew it, the writers knew it. But the writers were from that lazy school of thought that believes that couples actually being together is not interesting so the only thing to do is keep them apart with a cheap plot device. In this case it was a virus that would kill Logan if they touched. At first I thought this could actually be a good idea, it would be interesting to see a couple work out how they could be together without touching (much like that other Logan couple I ship) but no, instead of exploring this new territory the writers went straight back into the old “We’re just friends” thing. Dark Angel was cancelled after its second season so this couple never got the happy ending they deserved but there was hope in that the last episode ended with Max and Logan’s gloved hands holding on to each other.
Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle from CSI (2000- )
When I first got into CSI (in various Canada hotel rooms!) this was not the ship that first caught my attention. That was Warrick/Catherine which seemed so blatantly obvious to me that I was surprised when I found out that they weren’t actually a couple in canon. But the more I watched and the more I got into it, the more I saw the connection between Grissom and Sara. Yes he’s older than her and unsociable and a bit eccentric but she loves him. And he loves her. I know this ship divided a lot of fans when it became canon with quite a few people complaining that it came out of nowhere. I was surprised to hear that as when I finally went back and watched the series from the start it seemed clear to me that they had been hinting at a relationship between the two for years. Still, they are together now and married, according to Sara herself. I just hope it stays that way.
Sydney Bristow and Michael Vaughn from Alias (2001-2006)
I was so very much addicted to Alias back in the day. Season one was brilliant, a spy working for the good guys while pretending to be working for the bad guys who are pretending they are the good guys. Sydney was inhumanly kick-ass with her physical and mental abilities and Vaughn was her adorably sweet handler who helped her with her missions to bring down SD-6. They were also totally and completely in love but we were all sure they would never act on it because the format of the show meant that they could never be seen together in case the bad guys realised she was a double agent and killed her and everyone she loved. The whole premise of the show was the CIA’s mission to bring down SD-6 and that would take years, wouldn’t it? Well, no. All it took was one and a half. Midway through season two SD-6 falls and Sydney and Vaughn share a long-awaited kiss amidst the mayhem and wreckage. They get half a season of happiness then the writers suddenly realise that, just like the Dark Angel writers, they need to come up with a way to keep these two apart. So they have Sydney wake up two years in the future where she discovers that she is presumed dead and Vaughn has married some blonde chick with the most unconvincing British accent ever and nothing makes sense any more. Blonde chick turns out to be evil, the old bad guys become good guys, characters reveal things about themselves that completely contradicts what has been revealed about them previously, the show moves straight into sci-fi territory and becomes a completely different programme to what it began as and I stopped watching. But I do hear that Sydney and Vaughn got their happy ending so yay for that.
Tony Dinozzo and Ziva David from NCIS (2003- )
Although I’ve been watching NCIS for years now, this is a relatively new ship for me. I think the writers have decided they’re actually going to get these two together and have started throwing in lots of hints about the two of them which my shipper brain cannot help but pick up on. But it’s a relationship that makes sense. Tony is very much an arrogant dick and it’s hard to imagine him in a proper relationship with a woman because he would just be a jerk to her. But there’s no way Ziva would let him get away with that. And Ziva would never be satisfied with a nice guy because she gives as good as she gets. These two are each other’s equals, they bicker and joke and tease each other. It’s not a sweet relationship but it’s perfect for them and that’s what’s important.
William Adama and Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
Is there anyone in the Battlestar universe more awesome than Laura Roslin? No, I don’t think so. The funny thing is that if she were a real life politician I would hate her, but on TV I don’t. (She does have epic hair, maybe that’s why.) Seeing the Adama/Laura relationship evolve from their first frosty meeting is one of the greatest joys of BSG for me. They’re the leaders of the last remnants of humanity and they have so many problems and issues to worry about and deal with but they still find time to fall in love with each other. And it doesn’t feel selfish or contrived, it feels right. Like they always belonged together and it just took all this for them to find each other. Their partnership is the heart of the programme, whether it’s them as the leaders or as friends and confidants or as lovers, they’re stronger together.
Michael Scofield and Sara Tancredi from Prison Break (2005-2009)
When Michael Scofield came up with his detailed and elaborate plan to break his brother out of prison he didn’t count on falling in love with the hot prison doctor. But fall in love he did. She felt the same way, but unfortunately prison regulations don’t look too kindly on doctor/inmate fraternisation so they could not be together. At least not until she helped him break himself, his brother and a load of other inmates out, he sent her a secret message, she was tortured, they went on the run together, she was recaptured, he was exonerated, she was exonerated, he was captured by some other people, she was taken by some bad guys, she was beheaded, she came back to life, they all worked together to bring down the Evil Company, she got pregnant and they got married. Everything was perfect for about ten minutes before she was arrested for stupid plot reasons and he had to break her out, sacrificing himself in the process. But we never saw a body so as far as I’m concerned they too are living happily ever after together somewhere in the world.
Seeley Booth and Temperance Brennan from Bones (2005- )
These two have one of the strongest relationships on TV at the moment. They’re not together romantically yet but they will be eventually. They have to be. Everyone sees it. They are constantly there for each other, they are supportive and loyal and caring and it’s hard to imagine what each would do without the other. The alternate reality/Brennan’s book/coma dream episode was one of my favourites because it captured the relationship between these two perfectly. The way that they will always stand by and support each other, the trust that they had in each other and the absolute certainty that they would do anything for each other. They are so different in so many ways but instead of clashing they just complement each other perfectly.
The Doctor and Rose Tyler from Doctor Who (2005- )
This is another ship that has caused great division amongst fans. From the militant “The Doctor is asexual!” side to the militant “The Doctor and Rose are soulmates” side to the more middle ground, but still pretty militant “The Doctor loved all his companions!" side this fandom seems to have more arguments than most with a lot of people angry that anyone could even consider the idea that their opinion is not the correct one. Personally, I think the Doctor and Rose belong together. But I differ from 95% of the other Doctor/Rose shippers in that Nine is my Doctor of choice for the pairing. I’m not opposed to Ten and I’m pleased they got their happy ending but for me Nine is who I always pictured her with.
Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother (2005 - )
There’s not much I can say about this ship because it’s very recent. I’ve just finished watching season three of How I Met Your Mother where the connection between these two becomes more obvious and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how it progresses in season four. I hope the writers can find a way for them to have a relationship without destroying Barney’s character. Please don't let me down, writers! (Having said that, things I’ve read online seem to indicate that I’m not going to be happy once I catch up to the latest episodes. Dammit.)
Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones from Torchwood (2006- )
On the one hand we have Captain Jack Harkness, a 51st century pansexual who would quite like to bonk anything that moves and on the other we have Ianto Jones, a quiet, emotional young man from Wales who was devastated by the loss of his girlfriend in series one. At first a relationship didn’t seem that likely but before long the two of them were shagging in the Hub. This then developed into a real, meaningful relationship which seemed to benefit both characters, giving Jack back some of the humanity that he had seemed to have lost over time. Then Children of Earth happened and put a stop to all that nonsense.
Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker from Chuck (2007- )
Chuck is a show I’ve only recently got into but it definitely has me hooked. The Chuck/Sarah relationship is just one of the many aspects about it that I enjoy, but it is one of the main ones. It’s also a main theme in the show and the writers have avoided the tired old “We don’t feel that way about each other” cliché. They do feel that way about each other, they both know it and it’s only the situation they’re in that’s stopping them from acting on it. Both have had other romantic interests on the show but they’re quickly brushed aside like the minor annoyances they are and it always comes back to Chuck and Sarah. Another aspect of the relationship that I like is the equality of it. It would have been so easy to have the geeky guy pining over the hot girl until she finally realises/relents, but in this case it’s made very clear that Sarah loves Chuck just as much as he loves her, geekiness and all.
Apologies to all the couples that did not make it into the top twenty, I still love you but if I listed every single ship I’ve had over the past decade I’d probably still be writing this into next year.
In fact I’ve already started second guessing myself and thinking about other ships I should have included but didn't. I’m also finding new pictures and wondering if I should change my images so I think I should probably make myself stop now and leave it as is.
Thank you to anyone who has bothered to read this. I hope you liked it!