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I'm curious. When a pairing is first used, how is it decided whose name goes first? Sometimes it appears to follow the name order in the show (ex: Starsky/Hutch). In other cases, it seems the male comes first (ex: Vincent/Catherine, Spock/Christine). Or that the more "male" or "outwardly/more dominant" character comes first (ex: Jim/Blair, perhaps Bodie/Doyle, Napoleon/Illya). Is the order of the pairing then a commentary on certain kinds of power and dominance and gender, a Big Guy/Little Guy thing? And if this is so, is it something that has changed over time? I've never seen it discussed. --Mrs. Potato Head 14:55, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

I think it depends? On the fandoms involved and the person naming the pairing. I know your examples are from Western fandom but in anime/manga fandoms, the name order can be REALLY important and indicates who tops. But in some circles, this is relaxed and I know some fic writers (for example) who don't follow the traditional seme/uke name order in pairings because the idea of keeping strictly delineated roles in a relationship (someone is always a top, someone is always a bottom) upsets them. - inkstone 16:09, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I know that somewhere I have seen discussion (excerpts from an old mailing list? sociology talk? etymology of slash pairings and the virgule symbol?) about why Kirk/Spock not Spock/Kirk originally and that it did probably have to do with (ideas about) who toppeth, and that it likely spread (naming order in slash pairing correlating to perceived aggressor and/or top) to other fandoms, but I cannot remember where. *sadface* But it existed at one point, somewhere online! --Sk 20:08, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
This Trek newsgroup thread from the '90s talks about sorting the names by rank and age (which definitely relates to dominance) but also that those rules weren't necessarily consistent either. --Greenygal 21:14, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, in het pairings it almost always is male name first, except occasionally if the woman is the fandom's main character (but even then, not always). In slash pairings there's a bit more variation, though it's often a top/bottom thing or about who appears to be more 'alpha', as mentioned above. I honestly don't think it's changed that much, slash is a very conservative genre in many respects. Though sometimes it's more about euphony (e.g. McShep). And I have no idea what is involved in deciding pairing order for f/f. --MegR 22:00, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
The funny thing (yes, euphony rocks), it's McShep, but when the smooshname isn't used, John/Rodney as a tag is much more common than Rodney/John. (I'm also still confused by why the common variant is Sam/Dean not Dean/Sam from way before Sam buffed up and became hulky Sam instead of "look how nice I am!" puppy eyes Sam being protected by deepvoiced older brother Dean. The ways of SPN, they are mysterious to me?) --Sk 22:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
It's always McKay/Sheppard though, not Sheppard/McKay. Shorter name first? --MegR 10:20, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
As MegR says, the hierarchy is sometimes based on the relative significance of the character, i.e. main character first. For example, in Forever Knight fandom, it's always written Nick/LaCroix even though LaCroix is dominant, because Nick is the protagonist. Also, it tends to be Tracy/Vachon because she's a costar and he's only a supporting character. (In other cases, though, usage can vary a lot.) --Greer Watson 23:10, 1 December 2011 (UTC)