Shipping (short for "relationshipping"; カップリング Coupling in Japanese) is the belief that two or more characters are in a romantic relationship, or may have romantic feelings that could potentially lead to a relationship. The term "shipping" originated from the X-Files fan community and has since spread into multiple franchises and series, including Pokémon. This is primarily explored through the creation of fanworks, including art, video editing, and fiction.

These relationships can take many forms, including canon, where the relationship is acknowledged within the media's universe, and non-canon, where the relationship relies on what people consider subtext or hints towards a character's involvement with another. This can also extend to include characters who have never actually appeared together in official media, generally referred to as never-met ships. A pairing usually develops a name in one of two ways; either a portmanteau of the names of the characters involved or a prefix which is a word that best describes the pairing and ending in -shipping.

Types of ships

There are multiple terms that the shipping community uses to describe the different characters within their relationships. These include:

  • Hetero - A pairing between male and female characters.
  • Slash - A ship between male characters.
  • FemSlash or lesbian - A ship between female characters.
  • Non-binary - A ship featuring one or multiple characters that don't identify as either male or female.

There are also common terms used to determine the type of relationship:

  • Canon - A ship that's established within official media.
  • Poly - A ship involving multiple characters.
  • Crackship - A ship involving characters generally popularized due to comedic effect, such as ElderShipping (a ship between Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum, popularized due to their frequent appearances together).
  • Never-met ship - A ship between two characters that have not interacted within official media.
  • Crossover ship - A ship between two characters from different fandoms.

Shipping in Pokémon

Shipping in the Pokémon fandom began in the late 90s, with Pokémon forums hosting their own shipping sections for fans to discuss their favorite ships. Two of the most popular ships at the time were PokéShipping; the pairing of Ash and Misty, and RocketShipping; the pairing of Jessie and James. Other Pokémon sites would also have sections dedicated to shipping, having lists of hints and evidence of a romantic relationship that were mostly speculation.

Although any selection of characters can be shipped, there are multiple shipping archetypes that are more common than others within the Pokémon fandom. These will generally include the main characters, mostly due to their abundant screen time and the resulting chance for interactions between individual characters. The most popular of these in the anime is usually between Ash and his female traveling companion of the series; other popular pairings include the main characters as well as their respective rivals. There are also specific character or arc ships that are usually passing in the media that usually have more specific evidence of attraction on the part of at least one of the included characters.

Within the manga and game universe, common pairings are the opposing protagonists of the games represented in that generation.

See also

  This article is a part of Project Fandom, a Bulbapedia Project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every aspect of the Pokémon Fandom.