Pair the Spares
|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||cleaning up romantic loose ends|
|Related:||Everyone Is Gay|
|See Also:||Side Pairing|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
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Pair The Spares is the term for when there are leftover characters in a cast that get hooked up with whoever's left because fandom or sometimes the canon itself can't be have singletons. This is often the case when an author wants a HEA or HFN[note 1] ending and they feel the need to tie up loose ends. It's also a typical solution for the losing rival in a love triangle. The term spans het, slash, and femslash pairings, as any leftovers in a given cast may mean that an author has to get creative or simply introduce a crackship.
Because the trope is often used as a means to get a love interest out of the way in canon, like when Jacob Black imprinted on Renesmee Cullen at the end of Twilight, the general public's definition of the term has a rather negative connotation. The trope is also sometimes used to pair a character with obvious queer-coding with a spare female character, like the moment in the third High School Musical film where Ryan Evans is paired with Kelsi Nielsen seemingly to distract from the scene in the previous movie that launched the Chad/Ryan ship. This is becoming less common as LGBT couples become more accepted in media, however.
In-fandom use, however, tends to be more neutral as many authors see pair the spares as an opportunity to explore relationships or characters left behind by canon itself. Captive Prince fandom, for example, uses the pair the spares pairing of Jord/Nikanros to explore two side characters that get little to no focus in canon and the popularity of Darcy Lewis in the MCU has led to many stories focusing on pairing her with minor characters. Some of these ships go on to be quite popular within a fandom, such as Phichit Chulanont/Christophe Giacometti in Yuri on Ice.
The connotation of the term can vary from fandom to fandom, however, as characters that suffer from Bruce Banner Syndrome are sometimes involved in a side pairing that has no relevance to a story but is still tagged.
- At the end of Fruits Basket Yuki Soma, the main competition to the official couple of Kyo Soma/Tohru Honda, finds out he is actually in love with a minor character at school. Most of the remaining cast gets neatly paired off too.
- Gundam Wing has five main male characters and the most popular yaoi pairings take care of the first four. This often leaves Chang Wufei to be the token heterosexual, paired off with Sally Po or Relena Peacecraft. If everyone is gay, Wufei will be paired with Zechs Marquise or Treize Khushrenada.
- The five members of One Direction don't split evenly, leaving one member single unless polyamory is involved. That member is usually Niall Horan, probably owing to a tabloid article that declare "and Niall went to the zoo by himself," which became a joke in the One Direction fandom. The spare can be paired with OCs or other various RL friends or girlfriends.
- This was common practice in Ranma 1/2 fandom, where Ryoga Hibiki and Ukyo Kuonji, who were in love with Akane Tendo and Ranma Saotome respectively. The pairing never did become canon, as Rumiko Takashi pointedly added new love interests for Ryoga and Ukyo both.
- The pairing of Aang and Toph Beifong in Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom was common to Zutara shippers, who reasoned that Aang should be with someone his own age.
- The Anya/Raven pairing started out as Clarke/Lexa fic writers pairing the spares, and has grown into one of the most popular ships in the The 100 fandom.
Notes and References
- HEA and HFN standing for "happily ever after" and "happy for now," respectively.