Queer-Baiting In Mainstream Media And It’s Top Examples

Updated On 2nd September 2020

Queer-Baiting is a technique used by movies or tv series to acquire queer viewership by hinting queer nature in its characters. Queer Baiting is done both onscreen and offscreen through plots, interaction, interviews, etc. It has been a norm in mainstream media for a long time.

Queer Baiting starts with a character who’s not given any generic sexual identification. Then the character is made to behave in a ‘neutral’ manner to pacify both the queer audience as well as the queerphobic one. Soon the character starts demonstrating feelings toward another character of the same gender in the show.

The queer audience who is much deprived of proper representation then latches onto this character development, feeling that they can relate to the characters. However, before the queer audience can completely identify with the character, they are given a ‘straight’ identity in the form of a hetero relationship.

Queerbaiting is a bane and a boon of sorts. A queer person would much rather choose a baited ship than a poorly written one.

Let us take a look at the top 10 most popular queer baited ships of all time.

10. Veronica And Betty ( Riverdale )

Veronica And Betty Queer-Bait in Riverdale
Credits: The CW/ Warner Bros.

Apart from being notoriously problematic, Riverdale has also managed to shock fans with their amazing (not) representation. In a scene where Betty and Veronica try out for the school’s cheerleading team and as an outro to their routine, they kiss. They kiss just to make their routine look cool…

9. Captain America and Bucky (Marvel Universe)

Captain America and Bucky Queer-Bait
Credits: Marvel Studios

They fought a war alongside each other! Moreover, all the Marvel movies about Captain America are literally centred around Steve and Bucky. Their love for each other is canon, even if their relationship isn’t. Fans should not be hopeful for a steve-bucky relationship arc. They will sadly always be the ‘best of friends’.

8. Jane and Maura ( Rizzoli and Isles )

Jane and Maura Queer-Bait in Rizzoli and Isles
Credits: TNT

Rizzoli and Isles was the peak of feminism in 2010 with not one but two main leads who were women. Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles were the very definitions of girlfriends who solved crimes together. With lines like ‘ you don’t wanna sleep with me, do you?’ sprinkled here and there. It’s platonic for sure. Everyone stares lovingly at their co-worker/friend when they are solving a murder! In fact, that seems to be the norm. One looks like they are practically undressing their best friend when discussing crimes.

7. Spock and Kirk ( Star Trek )

Spock and Kirk Queer-Bait in Star Trek
Credits: Paramount Pictures

They were the OG gay dads. It is said that they were the reason that slash was popularized. Slash is a type of fanfic about two characters of the same gender. From hand holding to hugging and longing stares, everything suggested that Spock and kirk loved each other. The fact that Gene Roddenberry, the creator of star trek shipped them adds to it.

6. Emma and Regina ( Once Upon A Time )

Emma and Regina Queer-Bait in Once Upon A Time
Credits: Disney

Nothing screams more platonic than raising a kid together. Once Upon a Time has been called out for doing what Xena and Gabriel did. Fans even dropped watching the show because honestly it gets tiring after a while to watch the subtexts. Emma and Regina went from enemies to friends to obviously something else. The platonic hand-holding, the platonic loving gazes, etc obviously point towards them being the best of friends.

5. Lena and Kara ( Supergirl )

Lena and Kara Queer-Bait in Supergirl
Credits: The CW/ Warner Bros.

People normally don’t decorate their BFF’s office with flowers. That’s how beautiful Kara and Lena’s ‘Friendship’ is. The show has already been called out for lack of representation. It is, therefore, only fair that they don’t take any risks in this department too. However, the random romantic subtexts are tiring after a point. Especially, when one of them is canonically paired in a hetero relationship.

4. Stiles and Derek (Teen Wolf )

Stiles and Derek Queer-Bait in Teen Wolf
Credits: MTV

Stiles is Bisexual. Let’s start with that. Stiles’s sexuality has never been discussed or explored. Much like Derek’s sexuality. Derek is the brooding hot alpha werewolf and Stiles is the witty nerd in this stereotypical trope. The Alpha male stares intensely at Stiles for eternity, of course with anger, and randomly pushes him up against walls. Derek doesn’t talk while Stiles rambles his way out of situations. Derek’s eyebrows do the talking. Stiles find ways to aggravate Derek who, as the show proceeds lets him get away with things. Stiles fondly calls Derek ‘sour wolf’. Ha! get it? It’s because Derek is buzzkill (for good reason) and a werewolf.

Derek’s anchor goes from anger to stiles real quick. Of course, this has not been proven canonically. However, there has been a lot of evidence that points towards it. You wouldn’t be holding up your paralyzed platonic dudebro in freezing cold water for over 2 hours now, would you? Nor would you try to save their lives multiple times by putting yourself in harm’s way, right? Or, get a whole FBI team to investigate and clear your homie’s murder charges? or… you get the drift.

3. Xena and Gabrielle ( Xena: the warrior princess )

Xena and Gabrielle Queer-Bait in Xena: the warrior princess
Credits: NBCUniversal

Xena and Gabrielle were literally SOULMATES. Nothing gets gayer than that. The show’s summary says that Xena fights crime while Gabrielle keeps her from overdoing it. It’s not really hard. If you are one of those people who continuously compliment their best friends’ appearance, then it’s different. Gabrielle and Xena cuddle in a hot tub, which was obviously a team-building exercise.

2. Merlin and Arthur ( Merlin )

Merlin and Arthur Queer-Bait in Merlin
Credits: BBC

BBC’s Merlin is centred around a queerbait ship. All the shows talked about before merthur, had a queerbait ship to keep the show running. In some cases, it was to gain fans. However, Merlin was conceived around Merthur. The show is basically Merlin being unable to confess to Arthur about his magical powers. He cannot do this because Arthur’s father the king absolutely detests magic. Here, magic can be used as an innuendo for homosexuality, and Arthur’s father is definitely homophobic. They literally gay-coded magic.

You don’t know why I was born like this, do you? I’m not a monster, am I?

-Merlin ( talking about ‘magic’ )

Once you ignore Merlin trying to die for Arthur ( much like Sterek ) in every episode of the series, you’ll slowly understand that there’s not much to it. Merlin constantly tries to save Arthur. Drinking poison for him, twice. Even jumping in-front of ghosts to save Arthur, which is the plot of the show. The longing glances, random sexual tension, and other characters pointing out that something is there make Merthur a convincing bait.

1. Dean and Castiel ( Supernatural )

Dean and Castiel Queer-Bait in Supernatural
Credits: Warner Bros.

Finally coming down to number one, Destiel. Anyone who has watched Supernatural will agree on this one. These two had chemistry. Why is it queer-baiting you ask? Well for starters, an astounding amount of characters on the show have made quips about Castiel being in love with Dean. Fans cannot ignore the prolonged eye contact, hand holding/healing. They cannot ignore the subtle homoerotic context sprinkled throughout. Some might even say that Dean and Cas share a ‘ Profound bond’ pun intended. Let us pretend that Castiel never told Dean that he was the reason why Cas abandoned heaven, for the sake of tissues.