From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Name: Heartstopper
Creator: Alice Oseman
Date(s): August 19, 2019 - Current (Web comic)
April 22, 2022 - Current (TV series)
Medium: webcomic, graphic novel, Netflix show
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
External Links: Webcomic
Wikipedia (web comic)
Wikipedia (TV series)
at IMDb
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Heartstopper is a webcomic series by Alice Oseman that has been adapted into a graphic novel series and a Netflix TV show.

The story is set in modern British high school and centers the relationship of Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson.

Heartstopper has been praised for its representation of queer characters.


Heartstopper started out as a webcomic in 2016, following the origin story of Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring from the novella 'Nick and Charlie'. In addition to Nick and Charlie, there are a number of other characters including Charlie's friends Tao Xu, Elle Argent, and Aled Last; Tara Jones and Darcy Olsson who befriend Elle at her new school and become part of the main friendship group; family members of the main characters; and teachers and other students from Truham Grammar School for Boys and Harvey Greene Grammar School for Girls.

The story follows Charlie and Nick and their developing relationship. They become friends after they share form, with Charlie developing feelings for Nick but believing that he is straight. Meanwhile Nick begins to explore his sexuality as his attraction to Charlie develops. The first three comics follow the arc of Nick and Charlie falling for each other and becoming a couple, then continue to follow the pair and other characters throughout subsequent school years.

The entire webcomic remains up on Webtoons and still available to read for free, but was also released in print and ebook version as bundled graphic novels. The run is currently into its seventh chapter.

TV Show

The first season of a TV adaptation of the graphic novels was produced in 2021 and released on Netflix in April 2022. It was quickly renewed for a further two seasons, with Season 2 airing in August 2023 and Season 3 expected by Q3 of 2024.

The general story-line of season one follows the first three comic chapters released on Webtoons with the arc of Nick and Charlie's early relationship developing. With changes and deviations from the webcomic made in season one, the second season does not follow the webcomic as closely, but a key part of the series is the Paris trip which was featured in the fourth comic chapter.

As well as various story-line changes, there were some key character changes and additions to the TV show. Aled Last was replaced by Isaac Henderson, Oliver Spring (Charlie's younger brother) was not included as a character, new character Imogen Heaney was added, and the characters Harry Greene and Ben Hope were involved for longer in story-lines.


Prior to the Netflix TV series release, the Heartstopper fandom was much smaller, though there were still a strong fanbase who consistently followed Oseman's updates on Webtoons and who discussed the characters and story-lines in comment threads underneath. Prior to 20th April 2022, there were 128 works on Archive of Our Own under the Heartstopper (webcomic) tag. As of January 2024, there are around about 6,200 works tagged with either Heartstopper (webcomic), Heartstopper (TV), or both tags.

The comments section of the webcomics remains active, often with hundreds or thousands of comments per release, and the TV fandom is popular and active across multiple social media spaces.

Fandom response was mostly positive, with many commenting that they loved that there was a queer highschool rom-com where the homosexuality was not the conflict in the work. There were also positive reactions to Heartstopper's portrayals of bisexuality.

thinking about how Charlie is Nick's first and last boyfriend and how good it is to show the world that bi people can stay committed to another person as anyone else can and we are not inherently cheaters or greedy or jumping from relationship to relationship without any regard for the people involved just because we are bisexual

will80sbyers, Tumblr post[1]

Most of the fanworks within the fandom focused on the canonical pairings, with the majority of fanworks on AO3 focused on Nick/Charlie.

Main Pairings

Nick Nelson/Charlie Spring

Tara Jones/Darcy Olsson

Elle Argent/Tao Xu


Imogen Heaney/Sahar Zahid

Nathan Ajayi/Youssef Farouk

Controversy and Fandom Problems

Fandom Toxicity

Prior to the release of the Netflix show, the Heartstopper fandom was much quieter. Shortly after April 2022, the fandom grew considerably and, after an initial positive period when the fandom seemed pleasant, people began to notice elements of toxicity developing and the fandom no longer being a fun place for people[2]. As was often the case, fans found this particularly prevalent on Twitter [3]and, to a slightly smaller degree, on Tumblr, though some of the problems also occurred in fan spaces such as Archive of Our Own where fans who didn't write in-keeping with the wider fandom's expectations were criticised or made to feel unwelcome.

[luvconnor_ tweet, June 2022, Archived version]
this may be out of context, but come on. i'm shocked that a fandom for a show like HEARTSTOPPER became so problematic and toxic?? heartstopper is so warm and lovely, but hstwt is just becoming more cold and scary everyday?? can we go back in time please?

Fan bases are always their worst when they are growing, I don’t think the pandemic has helped as so many people have missed out on having proper real world experiences, so the chronically online takes happen

Alice Oseman + Heartstopper Controversies

Around 2017-2018, Alice Oseman made a number of comments in response to questions on social media that many fans felt were xenophobic and unnecessarily harsh towards fans of their series, shaming them for questions they asked.

On at least two occasions, Oseman contrasted the Heartstopper series against boys' love publications and made comments suggesting that they saw most yaoi and BL as fetishising and eroticising queer men and "often riddled with some very nasty, toxic tropes", whereas Heartstopper was not like that as it was a wholesome romance and coming-of-age story[4]. Many people were upset about the sweeping commentary that seemed to be aimed at an entire genre and discussed the xenophobic and racist implications and elements of the comments [1]. Additional controversy arose when fans spotted that aspects on the screen-shotted page of the BL manga which Oseman did recommend suggested she had pirated the manga [2], before later going on to tweet strongly in opposition to piracy [3]. Some fans of Oseman supported her statements about BL, claiming that they felt they were an accurate representation of BL and yaoi [4].

In 2017, Oseman responded to an anonymous ask on Tumblr about whether sexual themes were going to be broached in Heartstopper with a reply that some fans felt was unnecessarily harsh and went beyond what the ask was about [5]. After starting with the comment, "There will be no scenes that are designed to turn on the reader, which I imagine is what you’re really asking. It is not appropriate to write or draw erotic scenes between teenagers, and even if they were over 18, I would have no interest in drawing such scenes", which made an assumption about why the anon was asking the question, Oseman proceeded to criticise the anon for asking about something that was not reflected in their ask Archive Link.

In January 2024, Alice Oseman ran a Q and A about Heartstopper and was asked by one fan about Nick's search history in an comic chapter, which Oseman then proceeded to draw an accompanying comic for. The search history drawn included various questions about sex that they felt Nick may have searched for [6]. A number of fans immediately began to criticise Oseman for the comic, making accusations of them being a pedophile and sexualising minor male characters [7]. Other fans spoke out in support of her [8], including calling out people who were misgendering them as well as making unfounded accusations [9]. Other fans, while also condeming the harassment Oseman was receiving, pointed out that there was an element of "leopards eating my face" to the entire situation as some attitudes which Oseman had encouraged earlier in their career were now being weaponised against them [10].


i think people calling alice oseman a pedo for joking about sex in the context of her fictional story is absolutely wrong but i cannot lie its not unexpected her work attracted the crowd that would do exactly that considering... well!


wow why are all these face eating tigers eating MY face

Harassment of Cast and the Outing of Kit Connor

As the fandom around Heartstopper grew, people began to note an increase in toxicity, particularly on Twitter where numerous actors were subjected to harassment. Joe Locke, who played Charlie, deactivated his Twitter account after receiving harassment about his looks and intrusive demands for information about his love life[5]. Joe Locke would later go on to reveal in an interview in August 2023 that his family had been harassed by members of the fandom, with one Heartstopper fan going as far as finding his grandma's number and calling her[6]. He and Kit Connor both discussed how parasocial relationships, harassment, and a lack of boundaries in some aspects of the fandom caused significant problems for them and other members of the cast.

In November 2022, after weeks of harassment and abusive comments, including repeated accusations of "queerbaiting" for playing a bisexual character without being open about his sexuality, Kit Connor felt as though he had no choice but to come out as bisexual to stop the harassment[7].

“back for a minute. i’m bi. congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself. i think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye.”

Kit Connor (Tweet, November 2022)

Cast members and fans voiced their support for Kit and others pushed back on how concepts like queerbaiting were being misused and weaponised to cause real harm to people[8].

hey remember when Aled Last said "there's this idea that if you're not straight, you have to tell [people] immediately, like you owe it to them. but you don't. you don't have to do anything until you're ready" and Charlie Spring said "you didn't just force yourself because I'm out already?" and Tara Jones said "don't feel like you have to come out to anyone before you're ready" and Nick Nelson said "I'm not saying I want to have a public announcement, but I want to tell the people who matter" and when Geoff explained that Charlie getting outed was a trauma?

remember all that??

sonseulsoleil (Tumblr post, October 2022)[9]

I remember a few months back when Kit talked about his RIGHT to keep his sexuality private, and what makes it even worse is that the “hearstopper fans” were the ones harassing him and assuming his sexuality every fucking day, to the point he left twitter so he wouldn’t see all of it and not only that but literally made him address it.

And he’s right, some of you did miss the point of Heartstopper, LIKE DID WE WATCH THE SAME SHOW?? DID YOU LEARN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING?? and honestly it’s not something that can get lost in translation, it’s right fucking there, but some people just choose to ignore it and for what.

beck404 (Tumblr post, October 2022)[10]

Example Fanworks



Resources and Links