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Frequent contributor, Omar 94, writes in to discuss “shipping” characters in movies and TV by fanfic writers. But what the heck is he talking about?

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Hi Rob,

In fan fiction, there is something called “shipping”.

I will admit to “shipping” certain characters in movies and tv.

One example, for me, would be for the Mary Poppins movies. In that movie, she and Bert are only friends, but I always “shipped” the two of them and wanted them to be a couple.

I’m not sure if others are like that, but that is how I feel sometimes with entertainment, like I do when watching Mary Poppins.

Thanks, live long and prosper.

– Omar


Editor’s Note: Okay, so I had to look this up. Here’s what I found out about “shipping.” Not knowing where to turn, I went straight to Wikipedia (of course) and found a link to a more fan-focused wiki on the fandom.com website. Here’s what we learned …

“Shipping’ is taken from the word “relationship” and can involve any kind of relationship between two favorite characters. According to the Fandom Wiki, “Shipping often takes the form of creative works on the Internet, including fanfiction and fanart.”

These character pairings are often given mash-up names (much the same way celebrity couples are often treated). This is how we get combo-names like “Romione” (combining Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series).

According to the “Shipping” page on the Fandom wiki, the origins of creating “ships” goes back to the mid-90s (although I seem to remember finding some freaky Kirk/Spock slashfiction when I was in college and that was well before the X-files were on).

The term originates from the X-Files fandom. The relationship between Mulder and Skully began gaining interest. Some fans occasionally described themselves as relationships or shortened as ‘shippers. The use of the shortened term began around 1996. The earliest use of shippers is used in an X-Files form, alt.tv.x-files.creative. At this time, it was shortened to R’shippers.

The term later develops into shippers. Though for a period of time, shippers usually referred to fans who are interested in heterosexual relationships. While, ‘Slashers’ referred to people who enjoyed gay relationships in fanworks.

You can find more about “shipping” here.