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See also: UST, slash, gen, subtext, slashy
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Pre-slash is a label sometimes applied to stories in which there is unresolved sexual tension (UST) between characters of the same sex, but no actual romantic or sexual interest depicted within the story itself. The label implies that the author sees these characters as likely to begin a sexual relationship at some point, and pre-slash stories may have slash sequels. Labeling stories pre-slash early in the series avoids disappointing strictly noromo/gen readers, who otherwise might start reading a series, yet not be able to follow it to its conclusion.

Not all fans use pre-slash as a label; some prefer to label stories with no explicit sexual interest or romantic component as gen. Some stories may be perceived as pre-slash by some fans and gen by others, and fans may debate whether slashy subtext in a story is intentional or not, or if intent matters to the reader.

In songvids, pre-slash is virtually never used; instead vids are called "slashy" if they have a hint of slash, but not enough to be formally called slash vids.

See also Genre Boundaries on the Gen page.


Some fans (both writers and readers) label stories "pre-slash" if the pairing characters have not yet had sex at the end of the story, even when sexual interest is acknowledged in the story. Others see that as privileging porn over characterization.

Some fans feel that the label is used to entice readers of popular slash pairings to read what is really a gen fic.

Some fans refer to pre-slash as "the gen that dare not speak its name," referring to the tendency to label for any slash content when the same amount of het content might be considered an ordinary part of gen fic, especially if the het pairing is a canon pairing. There is a perception by many fans that readers expect fanworks that contain slashy subtext, but no actual slash content to be labeled in a way that similar het content is not. Some fans may label their stories with pre-slash to stave off any complaints from readers who do not wish to see even a hint of slash in the fanfiction they read. (See also Warnings - Controversy for warning for slash.)

Is "Pre-Slash" an Antiquated Term?

If one insists on slash or gen, why can't pre-slash be a happy medium?

It's like, one day I looked up, and the term "pre-slash" had disappeared from fandom.

I remember a Sentinel fan being adamant that "pre-slash" was a useless category. I just don't remember what their reasoning was.

I always thought "pre-slash" was quite a useful term. It meant the guys were headed toward a sexual relationship, but a consummation wasn't going to take place in the story itself. In other words, don't expect a sex scene.

And if you're a genner who wants to read, say, h/c, but don't want exposure to naughty bits, the "pre-slash" gives the assurance that nothing disturbing is going to take place on the pages...

The pattern used to be that, upon discovering slash and deciding one liked it, most would frantically read all the sex scenes, after first getting a new zine. and then later read all the stories from beginning to end. After one got jaded after a thousand stories or so, then one would often start with reading the stories, but actually skim or even skip over the sex scenes.

So, with the exception of newer fans, I think most slash fans are pretty calm about the degree of sex. I wonder if, in modern times, newer fans are actually calm about it too, since they can easily find stories or photos of male sex from any number of places. Surely, it's not such a novelty as it was in the 80s.

And maybe that's why the term "pre-slash" has gone by way of dinosaur. Readers don't need to be prepped that there won't be sex.[1]


The Pre-Relationship Tag (The tag bundles all variations of pre-slash, pre-het, pre-femslash, etc.) on the AO3 on May 16, 2020 showed the following breakdown by category:

  • M/M (47773)
  • Gen (18711)
  • F/M (11835)
  • F/F (5723)
  • Multi (2974)
  • Other (1228)

Delicious Tag pre-slash on April 29, 2010 returned over 10,000 entries. Delicious Tag pre-het on April 29, 2010 returned 46 entries.


(when you realize you’re low key crushing on one of your best friends), Archived version by CryptidMax, formerly WTFmqkqylqFandom: ITDate: 10 October 2017Length: 2Medium: FanartGenre: Pre-Slash, Richie Tozier Wears Button Ups
Today-Is-Gone asked: 5. Reddie!
untitled, Archived version by LukaLunarFandom: ITDate: 24 December 2017Medium: FanartGenre: Piercings, Pre-Slash
and in that moment, eddie knew- he was fucked (Reddie)
He makes me.. so happy., Archived version by Ask-EdsFandom: ITDate: 20 December 2018Length: 2Medium: FanartGenre: Pre-Slash
FourEyesTozier asked: Have you ever thought about making a move on Richie? The feeling could be mutual, ya never know! (Reddie)
untitled, Archived version by DogNongFandom: ITDate: 08 October 2019Length: 540px × 540pxMedium: FanartGenre: Pre-Slash, Richie Tozier Wears Button Ups
when will my life begin, Archived version by Olive 7/11 aka Edward-TozierFandom: ITDate: 20 October 2019Length: 1:46Medium: Fanart - AnimaticStatus: CompleteGenre: Fusion: Tangled, Pre-Slash
y'all remember when the reddie tangled au was a thing lol - Song - When Will My Life Begin – Reprise 2 by Mandy Moore
Sincerely, Me, Archived version by Kenmii OwO aka Kenmii_DrowzFandom: ITDate: 02 November 2019Length: 3:40Medium: Fanart - AnimaticStatus: CompleteGenre: Fusion: Dear Evan Hansen, Pre-Slash
Yes, another one, it's just that i love this ship too much!!! - Song - Sincerely, Me from Dear Evan Hansen (Reddie)


  1. ^ from Whatever Happened to Pre-Slash?, Charlotte Frost, posted March 2012; WebCite