Fan Service: The Joys of Crack Pairings

In this week’s edition, Mel talks about a personal favorite aspect of fandom– the crack pairing.

By Mel Turnquist. Posted 03/16/2012 17:28 1 Comment     ShareThis

Mel Turnquist's Fan Service masthead columnWelcome back, boys and girls, to yet another edition of Fan Service, where the best of fandom gets its props and the worst of fandom gets its knocks. Today, we’re going to talk about one of my absolute favorite things about fandom, no word of a lie. While most folks dig the camaraderie, the cosplay, the discussions, or even the fan fiction/fan art in the overall arc of fandom, for me, my favorite thing is actually the one thing that would probably drive most people out of it.

The crack pairings.

For those of you not within the realm of fandom (and be glad you’re not) the crack pairing is pretty much the most unlikely romantic pairing that one can ever think of. The term is basically used because it’s the type of pairing that you’d have to be on crack to think up. It doesn’t matter the reasoning behind the crack pairing whether it be a crossover, a Rule 34 violation, a crime against the sanity of any fan, or just trolling– crack pairings are what makes the world go round for me.

Now when I’m thinking of crack pairings, mind you, I’m not just thinking along the lines of some dumb teenager acting like they’re on a sugar high, making up random things and throwing stuff onto In fact, as someone who has done that once or twice in the early days (98% of my fanfics are gone from my old account which I haven’t touched since I graduated high school), I know that’s not that funny and not that good. Today, I’m talking about the good crack pairings in fanfics– the ones whose writers don’t take them too seriously. It’s like the authors know their fanfics involve a ridiculous pairing, but they actually make an effort to make it work. Those are the crack pairings that are just plain brilliant.

There are about four types of crack pairings in fanfiction, demonstrated with help from TV Tropes:

  • The “Romance/Sexytimes/Etc. Ensue” Pairing– This is one of those that authors just throw in at the last second. The characters involved probably have never met, much less interacted, with each other. And yet they end up all makeyoutey all up on each other. In TV Tropes, this is known as Ships that Pass in the Night. Sometimes it can transcend the crankiness, so it may not completely apply, but the thing is that this is the most popular kind of crack pairing and the reasoning usually is along the lines of “I feel like trolling the fandom” or “They’re both hot!”. It’s also sometimes a result of Pair the Spares or Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends.
  • The “Crossover Ship” Pairing– This is probably the most popular, with an extra emphasis on this type due to such wonderful franchises as Super Smash Brothers (more on this later). TV Tropes calls it the Crossover Ship. Basically take one character from one fandom and another character from another fandom and put them together in a hypothetical situation. This is probably the easiest to do.
  • The “Cargo Ship” Pairing— TV Tropes also calls this the Cargo Ship. There’s no other way to say this. Basically a cargo ship is pairing either an inanimate object with another inanimate object or an inanimate object with a person/robot/etc. It’s the best to use in troll fics. A good example of this one would be pairing Link with his sword or Mario with cake. Completely and delightfully insane things like that.
  • The “No No No No! NO! NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!” Pairing— I haven’t encountered much of this one but it’s out there. This is the ultimate of no. Only the most trolliest of trolls would cover this one. These are crack pairings so wrong that you just sit there looking at your computer screen in disbelief over what you’re reading. It could be graphic, it could be poorly written; it’s just the concept of it. Like somebody actually took the time to think of this entire scenario for a pairing that shouldn’t even have a right to exist. Worst of this had to be Pikachu/Voldemort (Yes, someone actually did this).
Pokemon Cartoon Sad Pikachu
Don’t worry, Pikachu, we’ll make you happy. Here, meet Voldemort.

While there are some other categories that you may think should be in here– usually incest, overly homoerotic pairings, hero/villain pairings– the thing is that those are not really crack pairings under most circumstances. Yes, crack pairings can come out of these situations, but they’re not guaranteed. Though, anything involving shipping in any form of incest is just not for me. I can’t even troll fic those ideas.

The beauty of the crack pairing is what most people roll their eyes at. It’s the fact that its awesomeness makes no sense. Putting together two characters with no back history, no evidence and no reasoning is just plain old brilliant to me. It’s pretty much a social commentary of sorts on fandom in general and how insane people can be when it comes to it. There’s all the shipping wars, the angry discussions about any kind of aspect of the fandom, and the sheer over-the-top seriousness that people take these things. However, the crack pairing kind of knocks the fandom down a peg. It basically is saying in the most humorous way: “You are talking about a game and actually ARGUING about stupid little plotholes or story lines?! Are you kidding me?!” And in the words of someone from Fandom Wank: “Fandom is [expletive] funny!”

And that brings me to the most wondrous gift to us crack pairing lovers from the fandom gods– Super Smash Brothers fandom. My god, but is this like a goldmine for the completely insane pairings. It combines Crossover fics, Romance Ensues fics, Cargo Ship, and the Just Plain Wrong kinds into a vast wonderland of epic, awesome crack pairings that could entertain you for hours on end.

You name a pairing, it’s probably been shipped by them. Link/Mario? Haven’t seen any but I’m sure it’s there. Lucas/Ness? Done. Dr. Mario/Luigi? Yes, this actually happened. Peach/Marth? Done. Marth/Roy? Very popular. Meta Knight/Jigglypuff? Done and weirdly enough it actually worked. Probably the strangest pairing in terms of “Wow, they actually made that work?!” terms is probably Luigi/Solid Snake. I have no idea how this even worked. By all means it shouldn’t have but somehow … somehow the author made it work and made it work well. Even I’m surprised at it. Probably the weirdest that just weirded me out was probably, without a doubt, Waluigi and Lucario. How the hell did this pairing happen? I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it exists for the sheer insanity of it, but man … that’s cracked out.

We don’t think he wants to talk about it.

About 99% of the time, a crack pairing is thought up mostly as a joke. It’s basically a hilarious thought that just wants to sort of chill out in your mind until you write it out. But, at times, there’s that outside chance (and it happens sometimes) that the crack pairing ends up happening in actual video games. Does it ruin the pairing? Nope. It just makes it all the more hilarious to me. Take Samus/Snake pre-Brawl. This was a pairing I thought about mostly out of the amusement of myself and how the two meeting up would be a funny idea. Cue Brawl, with the codec conversations with Snake about Samus, in which he not only automatically guessed that Samus was a girl (a very clever nod to Metal Gear Solid), but also seemed to subtly imply that Snake had the hots for her. Cue me snorting in laughter over the sheer hilarity of it. It’s actually one of the most popular Smash Brothers pairings (basically 90% of fics involve the Fire Emblem guys with either one of Peach, Zelda, Samus, or Marth … yes Marth, counts here too)

For those of you who enjoy this concept and want to entertain themselves for hours on end, then I must link you to the Brain-Hurting Fanfic Pairer. While this does not pertain to Nintendo exclusively, it’s still worthwhile to check it out and see what kind of insanity ensues. Feel free to post the weirdest ones you got in the comments. If not, then feel free to comment on which pairings that you’ve seen in Nintendo related fandom that caused you to cock your head to the side and wondering “What the … ?” out loud. I think we’ve all in one way or another found a pairing or two that administered confusion.

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