Valentine’s Day is this Friday. In celebration, we’re spending the week celebrating love in all the forms it takes throughout the quadrants. L(ove)LAP 🖖
Maybe you grew up obsessed with the “will they, won’t they” vibe surrounding the Riker and Troi relationship. Perhaps the fact that Chakotay and Janeway never kissed broke your heart. Or maybe Kirk and Spock’s chemistry was all you could talk about whenever you watch an episode of The Original Series. If you’re involved in any sort of online fandom, chances are you’ve got a favorite ‘ship (a pairing of two characters, short for relationship) and you’ve read or written fanfiction about them.
Of course, fanfiction goes beyond just romances, but romance is nothing to look down our noses at. The romantic elements of fanfiction are key to what drives the fic community forward. Who doesn’t want the comfort of knowing that, after 15 chapters of slow burn, your two favorite characters will kiss and live happily ever after? Or that even when you take familiar characters and drop them into a new setting — like an alternate universe (AU) where they’re running a coffee shop — they’ll still find each other and fall in love? It’s refreshing and a fun way to explore the canon through your own personal lens.
Star Trek fandom didn’t invent fanfiction, but we can thank the early fanzines and episodes like “Amok Time” for giving way to modern fic culture. Fans would write their stories and mail them to each other in the days long before we had easy access to countless works across various platforms like Tumblr, fanfiction.net, and the best of them all, Archive Of Our Own. Trek fandom was key to the modernization of fan culture, and we can thank them every time we pull up our favorite AU fic.
For LGBTQ fans, fanfic also is a chance to explore representation that they haven’t always received, though Star Trek has started including more LGBTQ characters and relationships into the canon. There’s a reason that Kirk/Spock shippers are often credited with helping to create fandom culture as we know it now — LGBTQ fans have been here since day one, and have used fanfiction and fanart to explore relationships that the canon hasn’t always explored to the fullest degree. Representation matters, even if it is rep coming from a story written by fellow fans.
And so, in honor of Valentine's Day, we’re celebrating the Star Trek fanfiction community and their favorite ships. We sorted through Archive Of Our Own — one of the largest fanfiction sites on the web, in addition to being a fan-funded nonprofit organization — to grab the stats for the 15 most written about Star Trek pairings. Does your favorite ‘ship make the list? Read on to find out.
15. Jadzia/Kira from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (226 fics)
One of the most popular femslash (slash pairing between two women) ships in the Star Trek fandom, Kira and Jadzia are also one of DS9’s famous ships. While not quite as subtext heavy as Bashir/Garak (see entry #3!), the ship has plenty of moments throughout the series, though ultimately it does end tragically when Jadzia dies and her symbiont moved into a new host.
Still, the ship lives on through fanfic. Death has never stopped fic writers from writing AUs in which their favorite does not die and gets a happier ending with their love interest, and Star Trek is no exception.
14. Riker/Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation (276 fics)
Oh, Riker and Troi. They love each other but they’re broken up... but also they still have feelings for each other? The ongoing tension of their relationship is a popular one for writers, especially as there are seven seasons of material and even an alternate timeline to explore. Ultimately, the pair get married in Star Trek: Nemesis, which gives them a happily ever after for fans to enjoy.
The pair will appear in Star Trek: Picard, which might cause a surge in fics on the site. Will fans want to write fix it fic, or will we see multiple fics covering the time between Nemesis and Picard? Only time will tell, but the fandom is still going strong.
13. Data/Geordi LaForge from Star Trek: The Next Generation (296 fics)
Data, Geordi, and Spot the cat being an adorable little family? Yes, let’s have at least 100 versions of that fic! Data and Geordi’s friendship proved to be the perfect base for fanfiction writers to explore a romantic side to their relationship. Friends to lovers is, after all, a favorite trope for writers to explore, and Data and Geordi are the best of friends.
12. T’Pol/Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise (473 fics)
The only canon pairing from Enterprise to make the list, T’Pol and Tucker gave us a star-crossed human and Vulcan love story. The pair had will-they-won’t-they tension throughout their run, but their story ends tragically with Tucker’s untimely death in the Enterprise finale. That hasn’t stopped fans from writing fic though, because — to paraphrase author William Goldman — death cannot stop true love (or fanfic) but only delay it for a while.
11. Archer/Reed from Star Trek: Enterprise (509)
Pairing the captain with his or her right hand man is a popular trope in Star Trek fanfiction, and the relationship between Captain Archer and Malcolm Reed is no exception. Fans loved the close bond between the two and the relationship that developed between them. In the first season, Archer even took the time to find out what Reed’s favorite foods were to surprise him for his birthday; the fic writes itself from there.
10. Stamets/Culber from Star Trek: Discovery (683 fics)
From Discovery, Stamets and Culber are the only canon gay pairing on this list in addition to being Star Trek’s first prominent gay couple in the franchise. It’s no wonder they’ve taken off as a pairing! Even Culber’s temporary death couldn’t stop them, and now that he’s back they’re stronger than ever.
Star Trek having a love story between two men is an important and inclusive step forward, and the fans embracing them shows that there has always been a desire to see LGBT characters represented on-screen. As Discovery progresses, hopefully so will the love that Stamets and Culber have for each other.
9. Janeway/Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager (704 fics)
The most popular femslash pairing in the Star Trek fandom, Seven changed the game when she arrived on Voyager in season four. This pair of women challenge each other throughout the remainder of the show, and ultimately help each other grow into better people. Janeway even risks it all to save Seven in the series finale — a sign of love, regardless of what kind of love that is.
Seven of Nine will appear in Star Trek: Picard, and there are already a couple of Picard fics that feature Seven/Janeway as a pairing. Will Seven bring up her friend during her time on the new show, or will fans be left to fill in the gaps with their own stories hypothesizing what happened between Voyager’s end and Seven’s appearance?
8. Jean-Luc Picard/BeverlyCrusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation (771 fics)
When Doctor Beverly Crusher asks Captain Picard, “why didn’t you ever tell me you were in love with me” in the episode “Attached,” fandom’s hearts must have soared. While in the series and films they never pursued a relationship, an alternate future in the series finale showed that the pair had married and later divorced. The most popular ship in The Next Generation, the friends to lovers dynamic proves to be too much to resist for writers.
It is worth noting that currently in terms of Star Trek: Picard fics, Beverly Crusher/Jean-Luc Picard is the most popular ship so far, with 22 fanfics. Given that the fandom has barely begun to see what’s in store with the newest Trek show, the staying power of this ship is clear.
7. Tom Paris/B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager (941 fics)
Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres are another canon couple with some great representation on Ao3. Their relationship is the second most popular Voyager ship, and the only canon Voyager relationship on this list. Fanfics about this pairing tend to focus mostly on their domestic life and their future together. Giving an OTP some kids to raise is a deeply popular trope in the fanfiction world, after all, and rarely do we have such great canon material to work with!
6. Reed/Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise (1060 fics)
Malcolm Reed and Trip Tucker from Enterprise are popular ship, likely due, in part, to the time the two were stranded together in a shuttlepod for three days during one episode. They say closeness breeds familiarity, after all, and that sort of situation is fandom catnip. Even Tucker’s canon romance with T’Pol didn’t stop this ship from growing in popularity; in all fairness, canon has never stopped fanfiction writers before and we doubt it’ll them in the future.
5. Chekov/Sulu from Star Trek: The Original Series (1094 fics)
Chekov and Sulu have their fair share of fandom love. The two crewmembers were friends during the run of TOS, and their friendship remained solid throughout the movies as well. At one point in Star Trek: The Final Frontier, they’re on shore leave together trying to find Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and getting hopelessly lost in the process.
The Kelvin timeline also sees a fair share of Chekov/Sulu shipping, but given that Sulu is happily married to another man in that timeline, those fics have cooled somewhat. Fans will always have TOS though, and the fics that take place in that universe.
4. Spock/Uhura from the Kelvin Timeline Films (2223 fics)
In the Kelvin universe, Spock and Uhura began dating prior to the events that led them being stationed on the Enterprise in Star Trek (2009). Their relationship continued in Star Trek Into Darkness, and even though they broke up before Star Trek Beyond, the end of the film hinted they might end up together again.
The pairing was danced around in early TOS episodes which saw Uhura flirting with Spock, and given the popularity of the Kelvin movies it should come as no surprise that Uhura and Spock are a beloved, frequently written about pairing. They make a powerful team, and the fic that has been written about them is top notch.
3. Bashir/Garak from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (2478 fics)
The relationship between Doctor Basir and Cardassian spy Garak remains one of the most popular ships in the entire Star Trek fandom. The pair’s dynamic captured the hearts of plenty of fans, and the actors are rumored to even have encouraged speculation about the characters and their relationship at cons. While the ship never made its way into DS9’s canon, the fans kept their love for it alive. As DS9 experienced a surge of recent popularity, so has Bashir/Garak, making them one of the most popular Star Trek ships on AO3.
In the documentary What We Left Behind, Ira Steven Behr said of the pairing,“We did not earn [credit for discussing] sexual identity… One episode in seven years, we could have done better. Trust me. We should have done better.” The fact that the writers acknowledged that Garak/Bashir should have been an item is a huge step forward and means a great deal to fans who grew up reading their relationship as romantic.
2. Janeway/Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager (3441 fics)
The relationship between Captain Janeway and Chakotay was especially subtext-y in the earlier seasons of Voyager, including an episode where they’re stranded together with little hope of rescue — a trope many fanfic writers would love to see their OTP involved in.
Ultimately, Janeway stayed single and Chakotay wound up with Seven of Nine, but that hasn’t stopped Voyager fans from writing “Fix It” fic where the two end up together ultimately. Shippers’ love for the pairing never stopped.
1. Any combination of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy from Star Trek: The Original Series and Kelvin Timeline Films (23,267 stories combined)
You can’t talk about popular Star Trek ships without talking about these three. Kirk/Spock is the ultimate Star Trek pairing. One might even say that the pairing defines the franchise. But after the release of the Kelvin films, Kirk/McCoy also saw a surge in popularity (partially due to the canon pairing of Spock/Uhura and possibly due to the way the films changes the history behind their relationship), and there have been Spock/McCoy shippers just as long as there have been Kirk/Spock shippers.
Some fans also like pairing all three together, because the narrative so often presents them as being three parts of the same soul. No matter which way you ship it, these combos are in the top spots of the Star Trek fandom. Who can blame fans — a lot of the most emotional moments in TOS center on someone being in peril as the other two worry. They all even go camping together in The Final Frontier! That, alone, solidifies this throuple as the end all be all of Star Trek ships.
Do you have a favorite pairing that didn’t make the list? Let us know on all things @StarTrek on social!