To talk about Star Trek fandom without discussing the ever-growing and popular fanfiction community would be a glaring omission. Fanfiction and fanzines were one of the ways that devoted fans kept the franchise alive between the show’s original cancellation and the first movie featuring The Original Series cast, and we wouldn’t have a StarTrek.com to celebrate if it were not for them.
And let’s face it, many of us do enjoy a little romance in our bold adventures across the final frontier. From non-canon ships (short for relationships) that made us feel all the feels to the canonical romances that stole our hearts, shipping is one way fans engage with the text of the shows themselves. What better time to celebrate these romances than Valentine’s Day?
In a 2020 article, we celebrated the top fifteen Star Trek fanfiction ‘ships on Archive of Our Own, one of the most popular fanfiction hosting sites online. Two years later, we’re revisiting the article with updated stats on the latest popular couples. These stats were collected in a scientific fashion that would’ve made Spock proud, so gather around to see if your OTP made the list.
As a note, this only counts the fanfiction present on the website Archive of Our Own. There is an almost infinite amount of Star Trek fanfiction that exists both digitally and physically, and to calculate which pairing has been written about in its entirety would be a task best suited to a science officer. However, based on our sample study, these are the current pairings who have swept the Star Trek fandom off its feet.
15. Deanna Troi/William Riker (TNG, Picard) - 520 Stories
The will-they, won’t they ship of TNG, Riker and Troi have orbited each other throughout TNG’s seven seasons, culminating in their wedding in Star Trek Nemesis. They saw each other through their highs and lows, even though they began the series as exes. Fans have been obsessed with the pairing ever since the first time they locked eyes on each other, and have been writing fanfics to continue their story ever since.
In Star Trek: Picard, Riker and Troi’s marriage was as strong as ever as they raised their daughter Kestra. The pair’s love for each other has lasted for countless Star Trek stories, and fanfic writers have been exploring every corner of their relationship through their own writing.
14. Data/Geordi La Forge (TNG) - 659 Stories
Friendship and holodecks are key elements of Star Trek romances. Just ask Data and Geordi, who’s friendship blossomed as they LARP-ed as Sherlock and Watson, as well as supported each other constantly and always had each other’s backs. Data even trusted Geordi enough to implant an emotion chip in his head so he could experience emotions, a sign of their unbreakable bond.
Besides, who wouldn’t want at least 100 fanfics featuring Data and Geordi being the best of friends as they co-parent Data’s cat Spot?
13. T’Pol/Trip Tucker (ENT) - 691 Stories
Enterprise’s canon romance between Vulcan T’Pol and human Trip allowed for a lot of romantic tension throughout the series. The pair had an undeniable bond that never broke, not even when tested with arranged marriages and the loss of their child, Elizabeth, in one of the penultimate arcs of the series.
Unfortunately, Trip’s death in the series finale left T’Pol alone, but fanfic writers have been writing plenty of fics fixing that ever since the episode aired. After all, what’s the point of having fanfiction if you’re not letting characters who need it get a happily ever after?
12. Jonathan Archer/Malcom Reed (ENT) - 750 Stories
As mentioned in our previous article on top fanfiction ships, the Star Trek fandom does love pairing the captain with someone who they rely on, and Captain Archer’s friendship with Malcom Reed proved to be no exception. They’re a close duo, and the fic practically writes itself when Archer will try to pull off a birthday surprise for Reed.
As fans have discovered or re-discovered Enterprise, it seems as though the fanfic community continues to grow and grow, with Reed getting a lot of love from the fans in terms of pairings.
11. Jean-Luc Picard/Beverly Crusher (TNG) - 916 Stories
Captain Picard is a man of honor, and Dr. Crusher does no harm but also doesn’t stand for any nonsense. They’re a perfect match on paper, and in a glimpse of an alternate future they were married for a time. The friends to lovers dynamic is always a draw for shippers and fic writers, and it’s clear that these two are here to stay in the hearts and minds of their fans.
In one episode, “Attached,” a telepathic bond allows the pair to realize their feelings for one another. That sort of bittersweet moment is what ships, and fanfics, are truly made of.
10. Sarek/Amanda Grayson (TOS, DSC) - 1165 Stories
Spock’s father Sarek and his wife Amanda might not seem like the ideal couple to many Vulcans — after all, Amanda is a human — but their love is not stopped by disapproval. Instead, they remain close and beloved companions throughout their appearances on screen, with Sarek always supporting his wife. First seen in “Journey to Babel” in TOS, they also make appearances in the first six films in the Star Trek Universe, as well as in Star Trek: Discovery as they co-parent both Spock and Michael Burnham.
In the Kelvin Universe, Amanda tragically dies during the destruction of Vulcan, but her spirit is carried on throughout the rest of the film, with Sarek’s love for her helping to inspire her son to set aside his grief and carry on. Bring out the tissues!
9. Hikaru Sulu/Pavel Chekov (TOS) - 1190 Stories
Best friends Sulu and Chekov have seen their own fair share of fandom love. The duo have a strong bond that is carried throughout The Original Series and the films, including a moment where they appear to be on shore leave together. You can say they were just looking for Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, but some shippers might choose to believe they’re more focused on spending time together than looking for their fellow officers.
Fanfiction also fills in the gaps in their backstories left by the show and films. When the show leaves room for fans to imagine what’s going on off screen, fans will surely fill in those gaps with fanfic. Lots and lots of fanfic.
8. Paul Stamets/Hugh Culber (DSC) - 1222 Stories
Discovery’s most beloved pairing, Stamets and Culber have been through it all. Death was no match for these two, as Stamets was able to rescue his partner from the mycelial network in season two of Star Trek: Discovery. The pair warped into the future where they find themselves as key members of the crew and Space Dads to their adopted kids, Adira and Gray.
The importance of Stamets and Culber as a pairing, as individuals, and as a family with Adira and Gray cannot be overstated. Fans see themselves in their journeys, and as these two continue to fight for a better future, we are inspired to hope for a better one ourselves.
7. Kathryn Janeway/Seven of Nine (VOY) - 1253 Stories
Seven is at heart of many of the most popular femslash pairings in Star Trek (though it didn’t make the list, Seven and Raffi from Star Trek: Picard are the most popular pairing from that particular series), and fans have been shipping her and Janeway from early on in Seven’s run on the show. By challenging each other, both women grow as people, with Janeway ultimately risking everything to save Seven’s life.
Seven of Nine in particular has always resonated with queer fans, and for more reading we definitely recommend the piece Seven of Nine Was Always Queer. Be sure to tune-in to Star Trek: Picard season two to see if Seven references her time on Voyager and her friendship with Janeway.
6. Tom Paris/B’Elanna Torres (VOY) - 1561 Stories
Voyager’s main romantic pairing was between cocky helmsman Tom Paris and Maquis fighter turned Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres. The pairing fell in love, got married, and had a baby over the course of Voyager’s seven seasons, giving them a wonderful arc for fans to build off of in fanfiction.
In a StarTrek.com article written about the pair’s realistic love story, Breana Harris writes “the longest-running on-screen relationship in the franchise's history, is a testament to the idea that love is messy and complicated, and that it’s possible for two flawed individuals to grow together. What’s more romantic than that?” Indeed, what is more romantic than that?
5. Malcolm Reed/Charles “Trip” Tucker III (ENT) - 1873 Stories
The first Enterprise pairing on the list, Malcolm Reed and Trip Tucker are the most popular pairing from this series on the list. The pair had quite a few adventures together — including being stranded in a deserted shuttlepod, which is a fanfic writer’s dream — and the fandom has fics of all genres and filled with all tropes for this pairing.
Even Trip’s canon romance with T’Pol hasn’t stopped the fic, but that makes sense. Canon is more of an outline for fanfic writers, and it has never stopped them from shipping a set of characters before.
4. Spock/Nyota Uhura (Kelvin Universe) - 2579 Stories
A romance that blossomed in the Kelvin Universe of films, the Spock/Uhura pairing had seeds planted in The Original Series. In early episodes, Uhura flirted with Spock, who’s greatest love was always science (and possibly his captain.) But in Star Trek (2009), Spock and Uhura fell in love at Starfleet Academy. Their romance continued through Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. In the third film, the couple split, but the ending pointed to them rekindling a romance.
The Spock/Uhura ship has a fair share of devotees, and excellent fanfics, which earned it the fourth spot on this list. It also seems likely that the relationship could cross over to the Prime Universe, as Spock and Uhura will both be featured in upcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
3. Julian Bashir/Elim Garak (DS9) - 4331 Stories
Deep Space Nine’s most famous ship (besides the Defiant) centers on Federation doctor Julian Bashir and Cardassian spy-turned-tailor Elim Garak; while it never became canon, the relationship was a key part of both characters’ arcs. As DS9 continues to grow in popularity, more fans have fallen in love with ‘Garashir’ and turned to fanfiction to fill in the story gaps between episodes.
In 2020, actors Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson performed Zoom fanfiction plays that featured new adventures of Bashir and Garak, including one in which their characters were married. You can read Siddig’s perspective on Bashir, Garak/Bashir, and more in an interview with StarTrek.com.
2. Kathryn Janeway/Chakotay (VOY) - 5096 Stories
The subtext between Janeway and Chakotay captured the hearts of countless fans during Voyager’s heyday. Fans longed to see them end up together, especially after key episodes such as “Resolutions,” where they were stranded together on a planet with little hope of being rescued. That trope is near and dear to fanfic writers’ hearts for a reason!
With Star Trek: Prodigy, viewers have a chance to possibly see their OTP reunited on the animated screen, so get ready for a whole new world of fanfic potential when Prodigy returns.
1. All Combinations of James T. Kirk/Spock/Leonard “Bones” McCoy (TOS and Kelvin Timeline) - 27726 Stories
Would it really be a Star Trek fanfiction list if Kirk/Spock didn’t make the top spot? Along with McCoy, these characters helped build a fandom and fans have been shipping them since 1966. To split the trio up into various pairings would have led to them taking over the list, so we combined their stats into one group to make the list more inclusive.
The history both on screen and in fandom behind this triad could fill an article unto itself, so we highly recommend reading pieces such as the history behind “Amok Time” or watching an episode like “The Empath,” where the bond between these characters takes center stage. Of course, you could also just watch the opening scenes of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where Kirk takes Spock and McCoy camping; it’s sure to warm your heart.
Excited that your favorite pairing made the list? Share your thoughts with @StarTrek on social.
This article was originally published on February 11, 2022.
Star Trek: Discovery currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Internationally, the series is available on Paramount+ in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics, and on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Star Trek: Discovery is distributed by Paramount Global Distribution Group