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Ship Shapes: Romantic Relationships in Voltron Fan Art and Fan Fiction

Updated December 6, 2017, with information from a recent New York Times article about shipping.

Since Voltron: Defender of the Universe premiered in 1984, there has been Voltron fan art and fan fiction. Perhaps surprisingly to a casual Voltron fan, much of Voltron fan art and fan fiction concerns romantic relationships.

Fans of Voltron: Defender of the Universe have created relationship-based fan art and fan fiction for a small number of pairings, the most popular of which seems to be between Keith and Princess Allura. Such stories commonly were, and to a lesser extent still are, called “K/A” for “Keith/Allura.” In the TV program, a Keith/Allura romance was only subtly implied, most notably in the final episode, “Fleet of Doom.” In that story, Haggar releases Keith and Allura from an alternate dimension. She tells them to let their love guide them home. When they return to the real world, Keith holds Allura’s hands, and they smile at each other. Voltron: Defender of the Universe fan art and fan fiction also explore other romantic pairings, including but not limited to Sven and Romelle — the couple that was most overtly suggested in the TV program — as well as Lotor and Allura, and Lance and Allura.

Voltron: The Third Dimension does not seem to have inspired much in the way of fan art or fan fiction.

Voltron Force inspired relationship-based fan art and fan fiction, much of which explores a Keith/Allura relationship. Voltron Force was subtle but direct in suggesting a Keith/Allura romance. In “Gary,” Keith says, “if it’s what Allura wants, then it’s what I want.” Afterward, Allura smiles, eyebrows raised. In “Crossed Signals,” the pair hold hands, and in front of the other members and cadets of the Voltron Force, Allura puts her hands on Keith’s right shoulder and gives him a loving look. In “Deceive and Conquer,” the recently crowned Queen Allura suggests, in front of the rest of the Voltron Force, that Keith, who in this show is of Arusian heritage, become king. It’s clear to the rest of the Force that Keith and Allura are a couple. Later Keith smiles and has an arm around Allura. In the final episode, “Black,” when Allura first sees Keith, it’s clear from the look on her face that she is in love with him.

Voltron Legendary Defender has inspired a new wave of fan art and fan fiction. The scale of this wave of fan creativity is unprecedented in Voltron fandom. A sizable amount of this program’s fan art and fan fiction concerns romantic and/or physical relationships — commonly abbreviated as ships. Fans who support ships are commonly called shippers. Many shippers name ships after the people are in the ship. Ships explored in Voltron Legendary Defender fan art and fan fiction include, but are by no means limited to, the ones listed below. More comprehensive ship lists are available online.

Characters Ship Name
Shiro, Keith Sheith
Shiro, Lance Shance
Shiro, Keith, Lance Shklance
Keith, Lance Klance
Keith, Allura Kallura
Hunk, Lance Hance
Lance, Lotor Lancelot

As reported in December 4, 2017, article in the New York Times (Link), the most popular ship in all of Tumblr in 2017 was “Klance” (Keith/Lance). According to Tumblr (Link), “Sheith” was a still impressive #12.

Voltron Legendary Defender ships have been a source of strife among some shippers. A small subset of shippers have demanded that the creators of Voltron Legendary Defender make their favorite ships “canon” — that is, overtly depict the ship in the television program. A tiny number of shippers have even attacked or threatened other shippers who prefer different ships, or the show’s creators if their favorite ships are not made canon. As a very small but very vocal subset of shippers actively attack other people, as of this writing (December 2017, between the releases of the fourth and fifth seasons), the Voltron Legendary Defender TV program has not depicted a romance among any of the show’s prominent characters. In essence, a militant shipper lashes out at others for not imagining what he or she is imagining. Even if one or more ships were to become “canon” in the show, it wouldn’t make anyone’s imagination any less valid than anyone else’s imagination.

Relationship-based Voltron fan art and fan fiction have existed since the 1980s, and today they are more prominent than ever. As long as their creators and consumers treat others with kindness, fan art and fan fiction are fun ways to celebrate and share enthusiasm for Voltron.

This author supports fellow fans’ enthusiasm and creativity. It is the opinion of this author that all fan-imagined romantic and physical relationships are equally valid, as long as they are consensual and lawful.