Showrunners and Their Need to Queerbait

Queerbaiting is a marketing technique for fiction and entertainment in which creators hint at, but then do not actually depict, same-sex romance or other LGBT representation.


Tell-Tale TV

A compilation of some of TV’s more known LGBTQ+ ships.

Azzurra Degliuomini, Editor

Queer coding is the concept of coding a TV show or movie character to be part of the LGBTQ+ community in a way that’s not obvious to straight people, but it’s clearly there for people in the LGBTQ+ community to see. This was much more prevalent in older movies when being in the community was still criminalized in the country. 

Queerbaiting, on the other hand, is a very modern concept that still happens to this very day.

The most popular example of queerbaiting could possibly be Dean Winchester and Castiel from Supernatural, a show that was on the air from 2005 to 2020. 

Fans of the show were hooked on their relationship ever since Castiel was first introduced back in season four, and fans were gutted after spending years rooting for two people that never ended up together. 

Castiel (left) and Dean Winchester (right) from Supernatural. (Polygon)

Throughout the show, the showrunners and writers would drop subtle, but very obvious hints in the script that hinted at a future relationship between the two. But, every time they were asked, they stated that they were just friends, while still incorporating scenes that weren’t so platonic. 

By the end of the series, we did end up getting an “I love you scene,” but the character that said it ended up being killed off the very next minute. 

The internet backlash that was received because of this moment, and to the finale in general, was something that should have been seen as a lesson learned. Fans were outraged due to the way their fan-favorite characters were treated, and how a relationship that gave them safety and comfort was destroyed simply because the showrunners didn’t want to give the people what they wanted. 

You would believe this lesson-learned moment would make showrunners start listening to fans and giving them something they want, but 9-1-1 on Fox seemed to not have learned. 

The show is currently on its fifth season, with a potential sixth season in the works. But it might not happen if the showrunners continue to go down the road they’re going down now. WARNING: potential spoilers for season five. 

Fans are beginning to get aggravated at the writers for the way they’re treating the relationship between Evan “Buck” Buckley and Edmundo “Eddie” Diaz. Some have already compared it to the way Destiel, the ship name between Dean and Castiel, was treated on Supernatural. 

Fans of 9-1-1 have been rooting for Buddie, the ship name between Buck and Eddie since Eddie was first introduced to the show back in season two. And it seems like the actors also have no problem making this happen; but, the showrunners don’t want to take the leap and do it. 

Ever since Eddie was introduced to the show, it was clear to fans that these two would most likely end up together. Their heart-to-hearts and their need to save each other was good, but the familial moments between the two and Eddie’s son, Christopher, are what really convinced the fans that something might happen. 

Buck’s relationship with Christopher can be seen as him being a second father, a second parent figure in his life, especially after Christopher’s mother died. This type of familial relationship that’s depicted on-screen can very easily transcribe on both Eddie and Buck.

But, the showrunners and writers don’t seem to want to make that happen, once again giving the excuse that two men could be friends without being shipped.

This is true, two men could be friends without being shipped. But, when your characters are being shown in a way that might be more than platonic, it’s more than just “being friends.” Fans of the show are not shipping Eddie with Chimney or Buck with Bobby. That’s because those friendships aren’t being shown in a romantic way like Buck and Eddie are.

“The only difference is Eddie and Buck aren’t canon after FOUR seasons and slow and intense development… Obviously, because Eddie is not a woman.” Said one user on Twitter.

But, the same thing can also be said about female/male relationships, something that the show isn’t treating that well, either. 

Whenever a new woman is introduced into the show, like it was seen in the season five midseason premiere on March 21, they’re only introduced as a potential love interest for one of the characters, especially when it comes to Buck and Eddie. 

As it was seen in that episode, the writers are willing to give their character a storyline that destroys seasons of character development than making them part of the LGBTQ+ community, because apparently being queer is out of character, while cheating on your significant other isn’t.

This is something that ends up affecting the fans, especially those that have emotional connections with that character. “The fact that Buck is my comfort character and they just completely RUINED him, I’m in tears not even joking,” said one user on Twitter.

The truth is, queerbaiting is a prevalent problem in the entertainment industry, even in 2022, when these things shouldn’t even happen. Queer folks want representation that they’re still lacking. Already having one queer character in your show shouldn’t stop you from making another character or two part of the community, especially when it’s clear that it would allow for the character to finally grow and be out of that limbo they’re stuck in.

But, it’s clear that plenty of showrunners in the entertainment industry are willing to drag fans along, allowing them to get more seasons, just for them to not give them, the people that keep their shows alive, what they want at the end of it.