So much has changed since we first ranked all the Sci-Fi and Fantasy TV shows with lesbian/bisexual/queer and/or trans women and non-binary characters in them. The first time we ranked them, it was January 2020, back when “pandemic” was a word I only associated with these types of shows, back before the newest waves of TV cancellations… but it was also before Batwoman nearly tripled its queer characters, before shows like Haunting of Bly Manor and Willow were out yet, and before Riverdale entirely switched genres on us, thus qualifying it for consideration on this list. Almost 50 new shows qualified for the list, which means we had to make actual cuts! So, please know that this is not even close to a list of ALL sci-fi/fantasy shows, just our Top 100!
This new list had some unsurprising boots, like The Exorcist staying at the bottom of voting — like, fully 150 out of 150. Some that I was surprised didn’t make the cut (I personally would have put Jupiter’s Legacy in the top 100, but it ended up not making the list at all.) Even the Top 5 look different, because we have new contenders, as well as new members of the TV Team that switched up the order of things!
I left my original description below, because I over-explain my over-complicated point system, but I did want to reiterate two things:
+ Since this list is very unique to this website page, the TV Team’s vote heavily influenced the inclusions and rankings. So maybe there’s a gem that belongs on this list that just didn’t make the cut because no one on the TV Team has seen it yet. I encourage you to advocate for your faves (politely) in the comments!
+ This is just for fun, to celebrate our favorite queer shows, and have a list we can all use as a “To Watch” list when we’re out of queer sci-fi to watch. Please don’t fight with each other in the comments.
Also just an extra shout-out to Autostraddle TV Team members Nic, Natalie, and Shelli for helping me out with some of these blurbs this year!
This post was originally written in 2020 and updated/republished in 2023
From Doctor Who and Star Trek to Buffy and Wynonna Earp, sci-fi has been one of the more consistent places we, as queer people, have been able to find ourselves on TV over the past few decades. I think the reason is a combination of people who write sci-fi and fantasy already connecting with the “outsider” themes and therefore inherently include more minority groups, we Autostraddle outsiders sometimes being the ones writing said stories, and because it’s likely a little easier to pitch “also there are lesbians” when you’ve already been approved for “a woman sees herself jump in front of a train and then realizes she’s a human clone.”
Sci-fi and fantasy have always been my favorite genres, ever since I was a wee child watching Ghostwriter or Power Rangers. I liked the escape and the magic and the limitless possibilities, and I still do. So honestly even though I think this took longer than writing my final paper for grad school, I had a lot of fun doing this research and seeing how far we’ve come (and how far we’ve yet to go) when it comes to representation.
I had an overly complicated ranking system, and a very intense, annotated spreadsheet that was maybe entirely unnecessary, but helped me be sure I was putting as many FACTS into this list as I was heart. So while I used my own judgment for tiebreakers, to get a general idea of order, I awarded points as follows:
Every show got 0-3 points based on the quantity of queer women characters. (0 = throwaway lines/my dad wouldn’t have registered it as queer, 3 = more than one main character or 3+ queer characters over the course of the series.)
Then they got judged on quality, also on a 0-3 scale. (0 = a nameless witness mentions her wife while giving her account to the police and is never seen again, 3 = high-quality storyline, rich character development, no buried gays.)
I awarded one point for each of the following achievements: the show had a character on Carmen and Natalie’s Top 100 Queer and Trans Women of Color Television Characters in TV History (an update this year is coming for that list, too)! I could find an out queer and/or trans actor or writer with a reasonable amount of research, the show being critically acclaimed by mainstream critics, and the show being critically acclaimed by queerstream critics.
And maybe this will be controversial, but despite the fact that sci-fi is the first type of show to claim “everyone dies” in equal amounts, I still removed one whole point for every single dead queer female or non-binary character. Because we’re not at a point yet where it doesn’t count. The only time a dead queer woman did not count against a show is if their death didn’t mean they were no longer on the show. Since it’s sci-fi/fantasy we’re talking about here, often a person would die but their ghost would hang around, or they’d die but be resurrected; that’s fine. As long as the character is still on the show, I didn’t take away a point.
And finally, I had our TV Team here at Autostraddle give their faves a rating of 1-5, with the ability to give out twelve 10s. Because it doesn’t matter how perfect a story is on paper if actual queer people didn’t like or connect to it.
And before you Ctrl + F for She-Ra or Carmilla: I didn’t include cartoons because I think they belong in their own special category, and I only included original series produced by streaming services (aka Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, DCU, YouTube Premium originals) but not webseries, because those also would need a list of their own. Also this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the sci-fi/fantasy shows of all time that have ever had so much as a queer character, it’s just the top 100.
I would like to thank Riese’s exhaustive TV database for giving me a foundation to start on, Carmen and Natalie for giving me an idea for point structure, and sites like LezWatchTV, LGBT Fans Deserve Better, and Wikipedia for being invaluable sources of information, plus any help/input from friends (and my dad) I got along the way. Also shout out to the folks who keep fan wikis up to date, you’re the real MVPs.
I think those are all the caveats.
Oh wait, one more thing: This is for fun! While based on a fuckton of reading and watching and learning, and a lifetime of experience consuming sci-fi, this is a rating system I made up! While I feel like my hours of research and toiling makes for a fairly accurate list of 100, when it comes down to it, the difference between the #15 show and the #10 show could have just been how many people on the TV Team saw it. This is mostly a space to discuss all 100 of these times we’ve been represented in the genre. I do HIGHLY encourage you to make your case for why your favorite show should be higher on the list in the comments; just remember that this doesn’t actually have any bearing on anything besides our hearts, so please be kind to each other about it, okay? Sara Lance doesn’t keep coming back to life just so you can set each other on fire.
Okay, without further ado… the top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Shows featuring lesbian, bisexual, queer and/or trans characters OF ALL TIME!
100. Shadow and Bone (2021 to Present)
Based on Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology, Shadow and Bone tells the story of Alina Starkhov, a cartographer in a war-torn world who discovers she has powers that have the potential to set her homeland free from darkness known as the fold. The show has been both praised and criticized for its diversity (yay!! BIPOC characters! Less yay…ignoring the book’s description of Jesper’s dark skin tone and Nina’s fatness in their casting choices), but there’s an implied and casual queerness to multiple characters that feels refreshing. Nina (a Squaller) mentions her attraction to Zoya in passing, Jesper’s sexual fluidity is merely a thing that exists, and while Alina’s season 1 love interest is a cis man, Jessie Mei Li (the out queer actress who plays her) doesn’t see why Alina wouldn’t be bisexual; and in fact, is with me in wanting Alina to explore her relationship with Genya! — Nic
99. Fantasy Island (2021 to Present)
As a reboot/sequel to a show my parents loved in the 70s and 80s, my expectations for this show were pretty low. But it blew them all out of the water. Not only does it have a Very Special Queer Episode that is better than most lesbian romance movies I’ve ever seen, one of the main characters is a woman who was married to a man who was her best friend but now that she got her fantasy of starting life over as a young woman, she is realizing she was hiding the truest part of herself; the part that loves women. So we get to see Rose explore this side of herself for the first time, and it truly is a magical thing to witness.
98. Archive 81 (2022)
While significantly less queer than the source material, Archive 81 is a haunting story of a man named Dan who uncovers a mystery while restoring damaged videotapes. Time seems to fold in on itself as new videos and clues are unearthed, and along the way we meet Melody, her queer ex-roommate Anabelle, and an elegant woman, Cassandra, hiding an illicit affair with the woman she pretended was her sister so they could live together, unbothered.
97. Warrior Nun (2020-2022)
Based on a graphic novel, this action-packed adventure about a secret faction of ass-kicking nuns, and the woman who finds herself their reluctant hero has a very passionate fanbase. Lesbian nun Beatrice falls in love with aforementioned hero, the bisexual Ava, and they embark on the slowest of slow burns while trying to save the world from an ancient evil. If you like angst and longing, this is the show for you.
96. Under the Dome (2013 – 2015)
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, this show explores the lives of people in a small town who find themselves trapped under a mysterious, invisible, inescapable dome. Amongst these people are wives Carolyn and Alice. Unfortunately neither of them make it out from under the dome alive, leaving their teen daughter Norrie a likely-very-traumatized orphan.
95. Limetown (2019 – Present)
Based on the spooky narrative podcast of the same name, Limetown follows lesbian journalist Lia Haddock as she tries to solve the mystery of an entire town that disappeared, in one of those every-answer-begs-more-questions type of situation. Lia has a girlfriend, and she may or may not have slept with her boss, Gina, played by Sherri Saum. It’s a creepy, disturbing tale (and Jessica Biel is a bit creepy and disturbing herself) so it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is undeniably gay gay gay.
94. Light as a Feather (2018 – 2019)
A cheesy horror series — think “I Know What You Did Last Summer” meets “Final Destination” but with a PLL-esque cast — Light as a Feather focuses on a girl who lost her twin sister, a mysterious stranger, and a deadly sleepover game. One of the main girl’s best friends is a lesbian named Alex (of course), who may or may not have harbored feelings for the dead twin, but definitely got a girlfriend named Penny in Season 2. Unfortunately, the girlfriend ended up being evil and psychotic and crushed possibly to death (but possibly not??) but you can’t win ’em all.
93. Legion (2017 – 2019)
Legion took a character written for a man and cast Aubrey Plaza in it without changing a single thing, which gifted us with the magical chaos that is Lenny. Technically Lenny died a bunch of times but always came back in one way or another (not as a ghost though…this show is real weird, y’all) so who knows if she would have returned if the show continued on. She also had a relationship with a woman called Salmon, because, as I may have mentioned, this show is real weird. But Aubrey Plaza is truly a sight to behold and takes the weird to a whole new level in the most delicious ways.
92. Timeless (2016 – 2018)
Remember how Wishbone tried to teach you facts about history but also there was an ADORABLE DOG so you were actually paying attention? That’s sort of how I feel about Timeless. I learned so much (Hedy Lamarr was a legend, Google it) because instead of boring lectures, Abigail Spencer was dressing in period garb and teaching me through ACTION. The boss of this time travel operation was Agent Denise Christopher, who casually revealed at one point she had a wife and kids, and then sometimes those wife and kids would be on screen, and there was never a to-do about it. Except that one time Lucy and Jiya pretended to be lesbians named Cagney and Lacey to try to encourage young Christopher to come out to her mom and not go through with her arranged marriage. That was a to-do and a delight.
91. Y: The Last Man (2021)
While wading into transphobic territory on source material alone, Y: The Last Man does manage to have a few LGBTQ+ wins along the way. Included amongst its cast are lesbian and queer women like Allison Mann (Diana Bang), Beth DeVille (Juliana Canfield) and bi actor Olivia Thirlby as Hero Brown. Plus! The cast includes a few trans characters and actors, including but not limited to the wonderful Elliot Fletcher.
90. The Walking Dead (2010 – 2022)
This zombie apocalypse drama is a critical darling that is lower on our list than it would be a mainstream site’s because they have killed three of its five lesbians, including one named Tara, which frankly is just rude. Alisha and Denise also went the way of the Tara, and in the ninth season, the gang met up with girlfriends Magna and Yumiko, a leader and an archer respectively, who somehow managed to survive until the show’s eventual end.
89. The Boys (2019 – Present)
I like to describe this show as “what if superheroes were assholes.” It’s kind of The Magicians of the superhero world in that way; take a typically joyful and empowering genre and make it dark and twisty. The Boys imagines a world where the capitalism of Marvel Studios also involves the superpowered people themselves, and being a hero is a high-profile job, not an honor-bound duty. Queen Maeve is this show’s answer to Wonder Woman, casually stronger than all the boys but getting less respect. She’s jaded and broody and grumpy, and, much to my delight, gay. She has some issues with her on-again, off-again girlfriend though, and maybe a few more things to work out, but can she save her relationship and the world at the same time? :cue dramatic music:
88. Dracula (2013 – 2014)
This is another way you know I am not just arbitrarily making this order up because Dracula would be MUCH higher if I were. Katie McGrath was the picture of perfection as Lucy Westenra, harboring a soul-crushing love for her best friend Mina, knowing her feelings would probably never be returned. She learned to identify these feelings by way of Lady Jayne, who showed her what kissing girls is like, Cruel-Intentions-style. Lady Jayne was mercy-killed at the end of the WAY-TOO-SHORT run, because she’d rather be dust than a vampire, and technically Dracula killed Lucy, but SHE was totally down to be a vampire, and I will never, ever, ever forgive the TV gods for denying me at least one season of Vengeful Lesbian Vampire
K’tay McGrawww Lucy Westenra for as long as I live.
87. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022 – Present)
It looks like I might have to start lumping all the Star Treks together into one category like I had to do the American Horror Story franchise because though this is the first Star Trek installment on this list, it’s far from the last! Strange New Worlds is the newest addition to the long legacy of space adventures, though set in a time before some of the most famous adventures even began. The show features bisexual Nurse Chapel, non-binary Doctor Aspen, and also features IRL queer Broadway superstar Celia Rose Gooding, who uses they/she pronouns.
86. Manifest (2018 – Present)
Imagine if, on Lost, instead of landing on a mysterious island with smoke monsters in polar bears, the people on the plane landed back in their real life, but five and half years after their plane took off, despite it feeling like one (1) plane ride. That’s Manifest. There are visions and mysteries and someone killing the passengers off and it’s all rather exciting. One of the flight attendants, Bethany, was illegally transporting her (male)cousin’s boyfriend from Jamaica, where it is illegal to be gay, and also just trying to get home to her wife. In Season 2, we learn that Saanvi is queer and dating a woman. A married woman, but frankly that’s the least of her problems.
85. Now Apocalypse (2019)
Not unlike Legion in its what-the-fuckery, Now Apocalypse is confusing, interesting, and sometimes upsetting. This is also another show that has an everyone-is-queer vibe, with one of the main girls, Carly, saying that their generation has a much less binary view on sexuality and assumes everyone’s at least a little bit gay. There is a somewhat eye-rolly lesbian teacher/predator situation, but also an interesting exploration into an attempt at polyamory. Overall this weird trip has a very can’t-look-away vibe to it that is hard to peg as good or bad. (Which just goes to show how far having main/many queer characters and not killing any of them will get you on a list like this.)
84. American Horror Stories (2021 – Present)
Despite my best attempts to keep Ryan Murphy’s influence on this list down to one (1) entry, cutting off its head just caused a second one to grow. American Horror Stories, the AHS-themed anthology series, is hit or miss episode to episode, starting off with a bang in the form of a lesbian murderess and her ghost girlfriend. The second season features queer milkmaids in what stands out as one of the better episodes of the series.
83. Torchwood (2006 – 2011)
Torchwood, a Doctor Who spinoff about Captain Jack Harkness, takes the “everyone is queer” vibe and put it in ink — creators of the show have confirmed that everyone of any gender on Team Torchwood is queer, and we see at least five women bring that to life on screen. And I know 2008-2011 doesn’t sound like that long ago, but in Queer TV years, it’s practically a lifetime, so this was truly a unique situation. Not all of the queer women survive, but whew did we enjoy the timey wimey, wibbly wobbly ride.
82. Witches of East End (2013 – 2014)
A tale about a family of witches cursed to live and die a thousand lives without remembering the last, this show starred Jenna Dewan and Riverdale’s Mädchen Amick and I’m afraid part of the reason it went highly under appreciated was that it was on Lifetime. The matriarch of this magical family, Joanna Beauchamp, is revealed to have been in a relationship with (yet another) Alex, played by the illustrious Michelle Hurd. We get a glimpse into the domesticated life in the past and one post-baddie goodbye kiss and it sure is magical. (Side note: Bianca Lawson is also on this show. I believe her character drew from Bianca’s real life when she revealed how she stays eternally young.)
81. Firefly (2002 – 2003)
A cult classic, this one-season Joss Whedon space cowboy show made waves long after it was over, leaving us to wonder if Inara, the spaceship’s resident sex worker and confidante, could have explored relationships with women further if the show had continued on. As it stands, she takes on female clients occasionally, seemingly by choice and not out of necessity. She also seems to have a bit of a history with Julie Cooper Nichol, but that might be me projecting.
80. Star Trek: Picard (2020 – Present)
Oh hey look, another Star Trek! This entry into the franchise follows iconic character Jean-Luc Picard into retirement…and back out again. Picard has Jeri Ryan reprising her Voyager role, Seven of Nine, and introduces Raffi Musiker, played by Michelle Ryan. And in Season 2, the duo is a couple, albeit a bit of a rocky relationship sometimes, but complex and thoughtful overall. Gays in space, you love to see it.
79. Counterpart (2017 – 2019)
This timeline-hopping thriller follows Baldwin, a soft butch assassin, who is having a time of it; she feels her life is not her own, she watches her alternative timeline self die, she struggles to connect to the women she encounters, which makes sense because the risk of betrayal is always just around the corner in a world like hers. This show blurs the line of the Bury Your Gays trope, by killing of a queer character in one dimension but not the other, but overall it is unique representation that should not go uncelebrated.
78. The Librarians (2014 – 2018)
This campy, ridiculous show is like the bookish cousin of Warehouse 13 and Legends of Tomorrow. A spinoff of the movies starring Noah Wiley, the show follows a bunch of “chosen” nerds with special skills who have to save and protect magical objects. One of said nerds is Cassandra, a sweet, bubbly woman with an amazing brain, who once had a fairytale prince spell put on her, and another time had a tempting encounter with a vampire. It’s cheesy and magical fun all around.
77. Roswell, New Mexico (2019 – 2022)
There was a long time where I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on re: the queerness of this aliens-among-us reboot of the 90s show, but eventually they made it crystal clear that alien hottie Isobel is bisexual as heck, and the show proves that we don’t have to give some shows to the boys and some to the girls, but you can in fact have multiple main queer couples at the same time.
76. Defiance (2012 – 2015)
Jaime Murray is another actress who shows up in multiple shows on this list, but this is only one of two where she plays canon queer. (Though let’s be honest, Jaime Murray has chemistry with practically everyone like some kind of Katie McGrath.) In Defiance, she plays a quiet, obedient alien wife who has her eyes opened up to the world beyond her husband and starts to rebel in her own ways. One of which is by sleeping with
Jenny Schecter the madame at the local brothel, Kenya Rosewater. This show also boasts queer alien Doc Yewll, and while Kenya goes the way of Jenny in this show, overall it’s still a fun supernatural romp.
75. The Sandman (2022 – Present)
The Sandman lives up to its name, having a dream-like and nightmarish quality depending on the episode. With a combination of throughlines and vignettes, it follows the story of Morpheus, one of seven entities called the Endless. The Endless all seem to live outside humans’ limited concept of gender and sexuality, plus there is a healthy sprinkling of queer human characters throughout. Not all of them survive, but they’re all incredibly interesting, in my humble opinion.
74. Vagrant Queen (2020)
This SYFY space adventure was short-lived but not lacking in queer content. The sweet and bubbly pansexual alien Amae was a foil for grumpy and serious bisexual Elida as they made their way through space with their unlikely group of friends, and luckily the slow burn paid off before the show got sucked into the black hole of cancellations.
73. The Imperfects (2022)
Speaking of the black hole of cancellations, I’ll be forever salty this show only got one season. It has everything I love in a sci-fi romp: people discovering their powers and testing their limits, found family feels, a reluctant adultier adult who pretends to be annoyed by the youths but ends up feeling connected to them anyway. Plus, it gave us two queer characters of color: Abbi, who is asexual, and Hannah, who is cool with it. It would have been cool to get an entire season with those two as a couple, but what we do get is delightful and feels fresh and new. The cast also included non-binary Australian Rhys Nicholson, and Rekha Sharma who I don’t think is gay herself but she has played gay before, as recently as Roswell, New Mexico.
72. Caprica (2009 – 2011)
This Battlestar Galactica prequel did not last very long, despite having Buffy alum Jane Espenson at the helm for the first few episodes. And yet, in its one short season, it tackles topics like technology, religion, loss, and more. Clarice Willow — who Heather Hogan once described as “a psychotic bisexual Mommi” — has many husbands and wives, but despite living in a polytheistic community, is secretly a monotheistic terrorist. She even murders one of her own wives on suspicions that proved unfounded. It’s…a lot. But! Those who loved the show LOVED it, and those who love the Battlestar Galactica franchise but didn’t love it still accept it as the weird cousin they don’t really talk about at Thanksgiving.
71. The Shannara Chronicles (2015 – 2017)
Shannara is a rare mix of post-apocalyptic and high fantasy, not too dissimilar from Into the Badlands in that regard, but with more elves and magic. The opening scene in this show features an elven girl named Amberle running a blindfolded race intended only for men and winning it, so I was in from the start. Then they added bisexual rover Eretria, and though they killed her ex-girlfriend, she ended the series with a literal princess (played by Toni Topaz herself, Vanessa Morgan) by her side.
70. The Midnight Club (2022)
The Midnight Club is the first Mike Flanagan joint we’ll see on this list, but it sure won’t be the last. Maybe it’s because his wife is bisexual icon Kate Siegel and he just carries that bi wife energy into everything he makes, maybe he’s just a stand-up guy, but so far we have yet to go unrepresented in a show he’s produced with Netflix. The Midnight Club is an amalgamation and reimagination of some classic Christopher Pike tales, centering around a group of teenagers in a facility for end-of-life care, as they all have terminal illnesses. To entertain themselves, they have a club not unlike Are You Afraid of the Dark’s Midnight Society, where they take turns telling each other stories. Some of these stories have queer vibes, and one of the patients is the resident rich kid with a good heart that everyone suspects might be a pathological liar, Cheri, confides to the other gay resident, Spencer, that she’s gay, too, in a rare, earnest moment.
69. For All Mankind (2019 – Present)
This what-if imagining of a future where the space race was more diverse and neverending, this addition to the queer canon is one of the newest shows on the list. Set in the late 60s/early 70s, Ellen the astronaut (played by Jodi Balfour from Bomb Girls) can’t exactly reveal to NASA that she is a lesbian who used to date Pam the bartender. Instead she finds herself a beard (a gay man himself, because the best beards are mutual beards) and shoots for the stars.
68. American Horror Story (2011 – Present)
I know that technically each season of American Horror Story is kind of like its own show, but they’re always at least a little bit queer, and I didn’t want 1/10 of this entire list to be filled up by Ryan Murphy, so I smooshed them together. The shows range in quality, both on a large scale and on a queer scale, but every time Lana Winters survives another decade of chaos, a lesbian
reporter angel gets her wings. Because despite having upwards of 25 LGBTQ+ characters to date, they also come in at the highest kill rate with a whopping 15 dead queers. And honestly I could have missed some, I just grew weary from counting. Everyone has their favorite season of AHS, but as far as queer people go, Murder House (a classic fave, the first), Hotel (hello, Gaga), and Coven (a Stevie Nicks music video, a lesbian witch’s fever dream, and a haunted walking tour had an orgy in New Orleans, what’s not to love?) tend to trend as favorites. Also a shout-out to Asylum, because even though it was far from kind to our gal Lana, she was the Final Girl in the end.
67. Heroes (2006 – 2010)
Save the cheerleader. Save the world. Even if you never watched Heroes, you’ve probably heard this phrase, because this ominous tagline was so pervasive while this show about ordinary people with extraordinary abilities became popular. We find out in later seasons that the cheerleader in question, Claire, is bisexual, which we learn via a kiss from her roommate (during sweeps week, of course) and a hand-holding that implied things could have gone places if the show hadn’t ended.
66. Naomi (2022)
Everything’s seemingly idyllic for Naomi McDuffie in Port Oswego until it isn’t. She’s got two loving and supportive, adoptive parents, a true “ride or die” best friend, and friends that are down for whatever. But then Superman appears and does battle with an enemy above the town square and it’s clear: everything Naomi thought she knew was in doubt. Naomi discovers that superheroes and aliens exist, beyond the pages of the comic books she covets, and — to her great dismay — she could be one of them.
An adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, Naomi is brought to the small screen by Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship. The adaptation expands Naomi’s world to include Lourdes, the queer owner of the local comic book shop, who wants to be more than just friends with Naomi. But even the show’s A-list creator and lush visuals couldn’t save Naomi from the CW’s Red Wedding and it was canceled after just one season. — Natalie
65. Utopia Falls (2020)
Utopia Falls is like if Hunger Games and High School Musical had a strange, futuristic baby. Set in a world where different sectors send teenagers to compete in a high-stakes talent show, the show also uncovers long-kept secrets, including but not limited to a bunker full of archives of long-forgotten music. Hilariously, the AI voice of this archive is Snoop Dogg. Two of the contestants are Brooklyn 2 and Sage 5, despite being each other’s competition, the two girls also start to develop feelings for each other. Which is how I imagine all real competition shows go.
64. Midnight Mass (2021)
Mike Flannagan is back! The time with his wife, bisexual actress Kate Siegel, as the leading lady, Erin. This dark and twisty tale is a stunning take-down of Christianity, and a thoughtful inspection of life and death, all with a supernatural twist. It could be equal parts triggering and cathartic for someone raised Catholic, and overall it’s a very compelling story. The canon queer in question here is Sarah Gunning, played by Annabeth Gish, who is the local doctor and Erin’s best friend.
63. Arrow (2012 – 2020)
If we were judging shows only on their most recent seasons, Arrow would be much lower on this list, but we’re looking at the whole sum of these shows, and when it comes down to it, this DC-comics-based vigilante show gave us Sara Lance, so we are forever in its debt. Sara and her assassin girlfriend Nyssa al Ghul came to us by way of Arrow Season 2, and they were dark and tense and a bit star-crossed, and it was beautiful. Sara died a few times but it never stuck, and she ended up being so compelling she got her own spinoff, while Nyssa stayed back and hung out with Sara’s sister Laurel for a while, eventually training the future Green Arrow. (And, most importantly, staying alive.)
62. Lucifer (2015 – 2021)
For a show that could have very easily crossed the line from “a bisexual demon” to “demonizing bisexuality,” Lucifer earned its spot in the Top 100 by never treading those dangerous waters, and in fact compensating for any qualms about that by pairing up the demon Mazikeen (aka Maze) with Eve. Yes, THAT Eve. Their story was heartfelt and touching and not just a lusty corruption tale; there was real, deep love and a few tender moments that really sunk their cloven hooves into my heart.
61. Vampire Academy (2022 – Present)
In the latest remake of the popular book series, Vampire Academy follows vampire royalty Lissa Dragomir and her bodyguard-in-training, best friend and (supposedly platonic) soulmate Rose. While, at first glance, it might seem like Lissa and Rose are in love, but it turns out while their is the main love story, they are strictly best friends. This television adaptation does give us some some queer vampires though, including Mia, who also has two vampire dads. Despite her desire for upward mobility in the social ranks, Mia ends up falling for a guard, Meredith, and learning illegal battle magic just to protect her.
60. Peacemaker (2022 – Present)
On paper, Peacemaker is not the kind of show that one might expect would show up on this list. John Cena as a beefy, dim-witted man who loves to smash in every sense of the word. A Suicidie-Squad-themed show with no Harley Quinn in sight. But as it turns out, there’s a character in the main cast of this show that makes it extremely up our alley. Danielle Brooks’ character Leota Adebayo is a lesbian, and easily the best part of the show. Out of her element, and constantly either making hilarious missteps or saying out loud what the audience is thinking, she’s an amazing addition to this cast, and with important (spoilery) ties to the main plot. She has a wife, Keeya, played by Elizabeth Faith Ludlow and they are downright adorable.
59. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 – 1999)
I don’t have to tell you about Star Trek. You know about Star Trek. But in case you didn’t know THIS about Star Trek, I will tell you that Jadzia Dax and Lenara Kahn have this heartbreaking, forbidden love type of story and really stunning Trill markings. Trills have this whole symbiont/host situation where it’s illegal to associate with their hosts past lovers, or their past hosts lovers, it’s a whole thing. What’s fun about this is that Trills change their bodies’ genders all the time, which maybe makes them all the genders? Or gender-fluid at the very least. It’s not explored all that explicitly as far as gender identity, but these two Trills find themselves drawn to each other despite it being against the law and despite them currently being in two female bodies and it being 1995.
58. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014 – 2020)
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, Agents of Shield had exactly one (1) point for being critically acclaimed, and the rest of its points that got it to the 60th position came from TV Team points. Because it’s a compelling, action-packed show, with some seasons better than others, but they don’t have much to report on re: queer women. Victoria Hand and Isabelle Hartley were queer in the comics, but that was never mentioned in the show, and even if you count them, they both died pretty quickly. And Sk’Daisy and Simmons should have kissed decades ago, it seems. Briana Venskus as Piper and Jolene Anderson’s Olga Pachinko seem to be the closest things we have to alive representation.
57. Legacies (2018 – 2022)
The Originals was a gayer spinoff of The Vampire Diaries, and Legacies is an even gayer spinoff of that spinoff. (It’s also, generally, lighter and funnier despite occasionally harking back to its emotional ancestors.) Set in a boarding school for supernatural teens, everyone is queer and
nothingeverything hurts. Witches Josie and Penelope were the couple to watch out for in Season 1, then witch-werewolf-vampire tribrid Hope and Josie keep mentioning their past crushes on each other despite them both having current feelings for the same boy, and eventually Josie found a new wolf to
56. American Gods (2017 – 2021)
You know you want to watch a show where a goddess occasionally devours her lovers via her vagina, right? No? Well, that’s what this show has. Bilquis is a goddess who will seduce any gender she pleases to turn them into her worshipers, on this show where New Gods and Old Gods live in America to wreak their havoc (or the opposite of that.) This show also features a guest appearance by queer, Indigenous actress Devery Jacobs plays two-spirited, Indigenous Sam Black Crow.
55. Siren (2018 – 2020)
If you, like me, are horny for mermaids, or thirsty for poly triad representation, this is the show for you. In a world where a town’s mermaid folklore proves to be based in reality, and the mermaids in question tend to be murdery, Siren somehow balances a mythical mystery, a PSA on the dangers of overfishing, and an endearing throuple between a man, a woman, and a mermaid who is learning how to live on land.
54. Mr. Robot (2015 – 2019)
If you have a thing for quintessential disaster lesbians, this show is for you. Amidst the hacktivism and corruption and conspiracies of the show at large, there is an FBI Agent named Dominique DiPierro who seems so smooth when she’s on the job but is immediately disarmed by Darlene when she asks her what her type is, and later, when she’s in her apartment and starting to make moves. It’s all very relatable. The show is dark and gritty and there is deception and trust issues but maybe these two crazy kids could make it work. Side note, trans actress Eve Lindley appears in four episodes in season four, and her character’s name is Hot Carla, which honestly is #goals.
53. Santa Clarita Diet (2017 – 2019)
I never thought I liked zombie-themed things, but when things like Anna and the Apocalypse added queerness and humor to the mix, I thought twice about my zombie ban. In the second season of Santa Clarita Diet, out queer actress Natalie Morales plays Deputy Anne, who starts dating her dead police partner’s widow, Lisa. They are funny and important to the plot and, despite how many brains got nibbled on over the course of the series, still alive.
52. Stitchers (2015 – 2017)
Stitchers imagined a world where a woman with a unique brain chemistry could be “stitched” into newly dead bodies and relive their last memories to help solve their murders. A fascinating concept, brought to life by the main character’s coworker and roommate Camille, a sarcastic, hilarious computer scientist who later reveals herself to be bisexual. She talks about her queerness in that frank, explicit way we don’t see on TV nearly often enough, and her eventual romance with Amanda, played by real life queer actress Anna Akana, was breathtaking (but not literally, which is something I feel has to be said on a list like this.)
51. Into the Badlands (2015 – 2019)
In this post-apocalyptic world, society is split into factions, and only the strongest survive. With magical abilities as an undercurrent, this show was a combination of stunning visuals and battle scenes that could be mistaken for a ballet. One of the main characters, Tilda, a baby assassin who is ready to grow into her own person, falls for a sex-worker-turned-assassin named Odessa. Just two little Butterflies in love. (The assassins were called Butterflies…hence the caption above.) Eventually the two part ways, Odessa moving on to date a fellow assassin named Mercy, and overall their storyline didn’t feel like it got the closure it deserved, but it was nice while it lasted.
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50. The 100 (2014 – 2020)
I don’t think I really have to explain this one to you. I think if you’ve followed queer TV at all since 2014 (or hell, 2016), you’ve heard about The 100. About Clarke and Lexa, the bisexual leader of her peers who all grew up on a space station then were unceremoniously dropped on a potentially uninhabitable earth, and the woman who leads the people who were already there that fell in love with her. About Lexa and Clarke, the Commander of Trikru and the Commander of Death. Or, at the very least, about Lexa kom Trikru, whose death in 2016, amongst too many others, after a long line of dead queer characters before her, launched an industry-wide pledge to treat LGBTQ+ characters better. It makes sense to me that this show lands smack in the middle of a list of 100 shows. Because when it was good, it was very, very good. Clarke and Lexa were loved by many, and still are. But then it betrayed the fans’ trust by not only killing Lexa when they teased her survival, but having a lifelong trained warrior struck down by a bullet not even meant for her, in an all-too-familiar situation that Buffy fans were still healing from. I think The 100 is a good milestone in our history, a point we can look to as a beacon, to see how far we’ve come, to remember how far we have left to go.
49. The Vampire Diaries (2009 – 2017)
I will admit that the TV Team’s score on this really bumped it up higher than it would have been on its own, because despite having two of the most fun queer characters, and despite a threesome that made one of the series’ best characters officially bisexual, they did end up killing three of their four queer ladies by the end. The Vampire Diaries had strong women at its center, queer among them including Original Vampire Rebekah, Vampire/Traveler Nadia, and Heretics (Vampire/Witch hybrids) Nora and Mary Louise. Their stories were complex and delightful and oh how I wish I could stop here because I love this franchise so much. But Nadia met an unfortunate end, and while if it happened in 2019 I would have argued Nora and Mary Louise, and their love that lasted literal centuries, went out in a blaze of glory, they died during the Lesbian Massacre of 2016, and it was the last wlw relationship we ever saw on the show, so they’ll get no defense from me on that front.
48. Game of Thrones (2011 – 2019)
Game of Thrones isn’t known for its respect for women, and the show did a better job of it than the books, if you can believe it. For this reason, maybe it’s better that the show only gave us three canon queer women over the course of its eight seasons. Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand unapologetically enjoyed the company of women (and each other), as well as a sex worker Ellaria entertained once called Marei. A lot of us were rooting for Yara to take her seat next to an Iron Throne with Daenerys upon it, but sadly that was not our fate. Ellaria didn’t make it out of the show alive, but Yara is still out there as the fiercest Lady of the Iron Islands as far as we know.
47. Andor (2022 – Present)
I could hardly blame you for steering clear of yet another Star Wars spin-off series. The latest iterations have felt more like money grabs than true contributions to the lore. They satiate fanboys with weapons and wizardry and enticing the rest of us with nostalgia and cute merchandise (Baby Yoda!). They’ve been escapism — vacuous, spectacle-filled escapism — and hardly feel worth the investment. But Andor is different; it is so unlike every other Star Wars spin-off that it may be the only one worth seeing. Andor strips away all the hallmarks of those other shows and invests in character building and storytelling. The show goes back to the roots of Star Wars — as political allegory — and showcases the early days of resistance against a fascist Empire. And among those freedom fighters, our gay heroines, Cinta and Vel.
Cinta is the fiercest of warriors, driven by the murder of her parents by Stormtroopers. For her, “the struggle always comes first” and what’s left belongs to them. Meanwhile, Vel struggles to balance the life of a revolutionary with the life of a regressive…trapped in a conservative cloister that will, one day, arrange her marriage to a man. It isn’t the most ostentatious display of queerness — and it’s understandable to want and demand more — but the story of rebellion can’t be told without queer people, both in real life and on the small screen. — Natalie
46. The Originals (2013 – 2018)
The Originals looked at The Vampire Diaries’ Thelma and Louise vampire couple, and said, “Oh yeah, watch this?” And thus was born Keelin and Freya, a werewolf/witch duo for the ages. Their relationship starts…strangely, to say the least, but it develops slowly and deeply until the two ultimately not only get the first wedding to go off without a hitch (read: murder) in the TVD universe, but also they got their happy ending doubled down upon when Freya made an appearance on Legacies and confirmed that her, Keelin, and their wee child were still doing just fine.
45. The Magicians (2015 – 2020)
Imagine a world where a bunch of messed up, self-absorbed college students had the capacity for magic and were deemed rulers of a fantastical world. That’s The Magicians. They bounce back and forth between the real world and Fillory, a land long thought to be fictional, while trying to save their friends, their worlds, their sanity, and sometimes even all of magic. This is another show where I ship every combination of the main ladies, but so far only Margo is confirmed sexually fluid of the fab five. Outside of the core cast, we also had a little visit from a (female) Pirate King (appropriately attracted to our own High King Margo), an unfortunate aside from a lesbian named Kira who asked to be killed, and, the lovely revelation that Marina has a girlfriend that she keeps jumping timelines for so she can get the relationship right. (Also I know this is not why we’re here but almost all the boys are bisexual too, which is awesome.)
44. Doctor Who (1963 – 1985; 2005 – Present)
Before the Thirteenth Doctor graced us with her presence, along with her enamored companion Yaz, queering the scene indefinitely, Doctor Who has been making us feel seen across space and time for a long while. There was Twelve’s companion Bill and her girlfriend Heather, Clara Oswold who made out with Jane Austen (albeit off-screen), the legendary River song, and a Silurian and her wife: Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint. Here’s to decades more of saving the universe, the timeline, and the queers.
43. Nancy Drew (2019 – Present)
A newcomer shooting up the ranks, Nancy Drew is a new, ghostly take on the classic YA novels about a girl detective and her band of misfit friends who help her solve mysteries. A lot of us read the books as kids and shipped Nancy and George before we knew what shipping was, but in this iteration however, I found myself accidentally shipping Nancy and Bess even when Bess had a girlfriend named Lisbeth. And then when she fell in love with the ghost possessing her best friend. And then again when she started dating the new girl in time. I love Bess, is what I’m saying. Bess is a sweet, airheaded-but-not-dumb girl and the optimistic believer to Nancy’s pessimistic skeptic, and a vital part of the team, and I love to see a queer girl in the spotlight.
42. Impulse (2018 – 2019)
Impulse is about a teenage girl named Henry who discovers her ability to “jump” aka teleport while experiencing the trauma of sexual assault. The show takes us through her journey of PTSD and healing, all while trying to figure out what these new powers are all about. Key in supporting her during all this is Jenna, her mother’s boyfriend’s daughter who becomes a sister to her, whether she likes it or not. Jenna is smart and kind and on a figuring-out journey of her own, trying to solve the mystery of her sexuality while trying to help Henry solve the mystery of her powers. Jenna’s journey is sweet and slow and very grounded in reality despite the sci-fi nature of the show.
41. What We Do in the Shadows (2019 – Present)
This may be one of the queerest shows I’ve seen in a long time and it’s so casual about it. Maybe it’s because it’s about a crew of vampires who have been around for a few hundred years and have literally seen it all. We got Guillermo (familiar turned bodyguard?) who is queer and kinda had his boyfriend stolen from him by Nandor (his old boss), who is friends with Nadja and Laszlo who are both pansexual and be loving on each other and both have a thing for a centuries old decrepit vampire with blonde hair. I know it sounds like a weird soap opera — and it is — but it’s also proven to be one of the best film-with-a-cult-following-turned-tv-show in a long time, and it just so happens to be hella gay. — Shelli
40. Humans (2015 – 2018)
For a while I thought maybe Riese and I were the only ones watching this show, which was truly a shame, because it was a deeply thoughtful and haunting-but-in-a-good-way exploration of humanity by way of synthetic humans aka synths who were considered “broken” because they had free will. What makes a person human, is it their body, their brain, their heart? Their ability to fall in love? Because fall in love they do, specifically the usually-stoic-and-hard synth Niska who softens for her human girlfriend Astrid.
39. Westworld (2016 – 2022)
Elsie Hughes isn’t the BEST representation we’ve ever had, as a community, but Westworld has been walking the line between queer and not ever since Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual made her first appearance as Dolores. While all the hosts are defaulted to a sort of pansexual situation to accommodate any guests, there is at least one guest who does prefer the company of women. In the final season, Tessa Thompson brings her Big Queer Energy to the screen, and queer couple Frankie “C” and Odina kick some ass and take some names. Canon queers aside, seeing real life queer people be endlessly badass on screen is always a delight.
38. Astrid & Lilly Save the World (2022 – Present)
This campy sci-fi darling centers around two best friends who are bullied for being fat and weird, but who find out that actually they are really good at fighting aliens and saving the world. They reclaim an insult slung at them and become the Pudge Patrol, battling the monster of the week together, often having to save the very popular kids who once terrorized them, becoming an unlikely squad of superheroes. In a truly fanfic-ian turn of fate, Lilly ends up in a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers relationship with queen bee Candace. The show is equal parts hilarious practical effects, adorable antics, and touching moments of friendship, identity, and found family.
37. Killjoys (2015 – 2019)
Killjoys is a story about a found family of bounty hunters…in space! Dutch, played by Hannah John-Kamen, is a bounty hunter in space who goes on missions with her two best boys, Johnny and D’av. She sparks up a flirtation with Delle Seyah-Kendry, and when the writers saw those sparks, they created a whole separate character also played by Hannah John-Kamen just so they could put them together without breaking up Dutch and D’av. Okay fine so probably that’s not exactly how it played out but it worked out for the best because Aneela, an alternate timeline version of Dutch, (kind of, it’s complicated) and Kendry were perfect murder queens, both of them complicated almost-villains who did the right thing when it came down to it, and got their own happy ending.
36. The Umbrella Academy (2019 – Present)
In the third season of The Umbrella Academy, Elliot Page’s character comes out as a trans man, telling his siblings that Viktor is who he’s always been. He says his relationship with Sissy in the second season opened his eyes to living outside the box and living his truth. His brothers accept him immediately, and his sister loves her “tiny badass brother.” It’s a relatively small part of a very complicated plot and that, in itself, is pretty sweet. They all have bigger things to worry about – like time travel, and reality folding in on itself, and their respective powers – than the gender or sexuality of their siblings. They have to find a way to work together to keep each other safe.
35. She/Hulk (2022)
If this show was being ranked on queer content alone, it would be a lot lower, but the truth is, even though the queer content is minimal, the show itself is a blast. Queer favorite Tatiana Maslany expertly plays Jennifer Walters (who is, of course, the titular She/Hulk), and her best friend and assistant Nikki being one of the first openly queer women in the Marvel cinematic universe. Granted, it’s a blink-and-you-miss it moment that reveals that fact, but Nikki remains a delight throughout the series. Plus, bisexual actress Jameela Jamil plays one of the season’s main villains with over-the-top, delightful exuberance.
34. Warehouse 13 (2009 – 2014)
A niche nerd fave, Warehouse 13 is a show that marches to the beat of its own drum. It mixes history and mythology with humor, mystery and shenanigans like it pulled themes from a nerd’s toybox. We enter into this wacky world by way of Myka Bering, assigned to protect this warehouse of artifacts, and eventually meet literary legend H.G. Wells, and in this universe, the H stands for Helena. Myka and H.G. enter a flirtationship that ultimately ends in my own personal heartbreak soundtracked by Ellie Goulding, but we all know the truth, and also H.G., at least, was explicitly and undeniably the queer hero we deserve.
33. Once Upon A Time (2011 – 2018)
My very first gig for writing about queer TV was recapping Once Upon a Time, and I wrote about that show for so long with only subtext, shouting about Swan Queen, begging for them to just commit to Mulan and Aurora, finally throwing in the towel when we finally got a very special Ruby and Dorothy episode, assuming that was the best it was going to get (and believe me, it was great.) So imagine my surprise when a few seasons later, after I had stopped writing about it of course, Robin and Alice embarked on a very sweet fairytale romance. Like their ancestors before them, they found their way to each other in Storybrooke and in the fairytale realm where they were Margot and Tilly, because love is magic.
32. Riverdale (2017 – Present)
Riverdale is a rare entry onto this list, because despite being in its 4th season the first time around, it didn’t qualify since it wasn’t a sci-fi or fantasy show. Just a regular teen drama! Okay fine, not regular but not supernatural. And while not yet supernatural, it was gay, with Cheryl and Toni falling in and out of love a few times. Now, between its sixth and seventh seasons, the show does qualify, because somewhere along the line we discovered Rivervale, a twisted reflection of Riverdale where magic is real and even more absurd storylines are possible. But no matter what dimension she’s in, lesbian icon Cheryl Blossom continues to reign supreme, eventually discovering her witchy bloodline and ascending to her final form.
31. Motherland: Fort Salem (2020 – 2022)
In an imagined world where witches are real and are drafted into the military, an unlikely trio is forced to learn to be a cohesive unit. One of those witches is Raelle Collar, a lesbian and healer, who eventually meets necromancy witch Scylla Ramshorn, and the two embark on a tumultuous adventure full of steamy moments, broken trust, daring rescues, and the quest for a happily drever after. There are other shippable characters along the way, like her unit-mate Tally and their general, Alder, as well as Tally and non-binary officer M, played by non-binary actor Ess Hödlmoser.
30. Charmed (2018 – 2022)
A lot of people, myself included, were originally unsure about the idea of completely rebooting a beloved franchise that went off-air frankly not all that long ago, but now that it’s happening, I can confidently say that while it is definitely a reboot, it is not a rip-off, and is well worth watching. It has elements of the original while still being totally and utterly unique, and so, so much gayer. Middle sister Mel is a lesbian witch who has a myriad of love interests over the course of the show, plus there’s Abigael, the saucy demon who prefers threesomes and once bedded two Susans at once, probably just because she could. The final season introduced a fourth sister, Kaela, who is a queer witch played by queer actress Lucy Barrett and, frankly, a downright delight.
29. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018 – 2020)
Oh hey more queer witches, can you even believe it? This Riverdale-universe’s twisted take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch boasts queerness at every turn, including but not limited to Prudence Night and her coven of “sisters” who are definitely not related by blood which you can tell from all the orgies. Hail Satan. One of Sabrina’s best friends, Theo, also goes on a trans coming out journey of his own and is played by genderqueer and pansexual actor Lachlan Watson.
28. Battlestar Galactica (2004 – 2009)
Despite all three of its resident queer characters being not long for this
world universe, it has risen to the Top 20 by being BELOVED by three members of the TV team, who all gave it a perfect 10 (plus there were other non-10 votes.) Maybe it’s part subconscious conditioning, since 91 actors from The L Word were also on this show, or maybe it was just the mere fact that queer characters were part of this space opera at all. All I know is that we, as a people, seem to love us some Cylons and their love affairs.
27. Stranger Things (2015 – Present)
I’ve loved Stranger Things from the get-go, because superpowered kids are my jam, as are themes of friendship above all, which is really what the heart of this show is. Sure there is also a mysterious mirror realm called the Upside Down and horrible monsters and evil scientists, but at the end of the day, it’s about a little girl raised in captivity learning what it means to be a friend, and then doing everything in her power (and whew does she have a lot of it) to save those new friendships. The first season featured Barb, who maybe wasn’t canon queer but we sure did see a lot of ourselves in the way she felt about her best friend Nancy (I feel like Ingrid Michaelson’s song Best Friend on her album Stranger Songs makes it canon enough for me; plus the actress is bisexual.) The third season, however, had one of the sweetest coming out speeches I’ve seen in a while, where the snarky, brassy Robin tells teen dream Steve Harrington that their storyline wasn’t going where he thought it was, and she wasn’t actually into him; she was into the girls who are into him. It was a rare quiet moment in an action-packed show and it sure packed a punch to my heart. And the fourth season seamlessly incorporated Robin onto the team, much to my delight.
26. Star Trek: Discovery (2017 – Present)
I already told you about the Star Trek franchise, and Discovery is yet another adventure in that world, and has a theme of what Riese and Kayla called Hot Women in Space. In this iteration of the classic franchise, Captain Philippa Georgiou’s mirror universe counterpart is bisexual, plus lesbian Starfleet officer Jett Reno, played by real life lesbian Tig Notaro. Jett’s story is a little bittersweet, as she still wears her wedding ring despite her wife being dead, but it’s nice to have more masc-of-center representation on TV. The show also has lesbian Michelle Paradise behind the scenes, and we love to see it.
25. True Blood (2008 – 2014)
Vampires are here on this list trying to give witches a run for their money re: queer representation, with True Blood boasting seven queer women over the course of their 80 episodes. Including but not limited to Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq, played by Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual, and power couple Pam Swynford De Beaufort and Tara Thornton. Unfortunately the latter joined the least of dead lesbians named Tara in the season six finale, but her legacy lives on, as does that of this very vampy show, which also had lesbian writer/director Angela Robinson in the writers room.
24. Xena: Warrior Princess (1995 – 2001)
The other day I was talking to my dad on the phone about making this list, and I told him I was worried people wouldn’t like that I included this show on this list. And despite the fact that we have never talked about this before, about the subtext of Xena and Gabrielle, really about the show much at all since we watched it together when I was young, he said he understood why. He said, “You could see it in the way they looked at and talked to each other. And the way Xena always went out of her way to make sure Gabrielle stayed alive.” He also mentioned the hot tub, but my point is, that if my dad can see it, it’s not just me and my gay dreams spewing rainbows where there aren’t any. I always use the “Dad Test” to say that if your queer story is so subtle that my dad didn’t pick up on it, it doesn’t count, but I think the opposite is true too. If your subtext is so loud my dad thought it was canon, it’s canon. Sorry/not sorry. Xena and Gabrielle’s story is an epic love story, and if it was made in 2005 or 2015 instead of 1995, they would have kissed even more than they already did. And they kissed a lot.
23. Jessica Jones (2015 – 2019)
Marvel’s movie universe queers are still just shy of bursting out of that closet door, but the Marvel TV universe is riddled with gays who are living, loving, laughing, breathing…etc. Jessica Jones, superstrong super-smartass with trauma for days but a big heart buried deep under that leather jacket, has a friend and confidante in lesbian lawyer Jeri Hogarth. While her story is not always happy, she is a compelling, complex character who survives til the bitter end of the series. In Season 3, trans actress Aneesh Sheth also plays Jessica’s no-nonsense, take-no-bullshit assistant Gillian.
22. First Kill (2022)
If you like vampires, clandestine romance, cheesy special effects, and Elizabeth Mitchell, this is the show for you. Vampire teen Juliette Fairmont meets Monster Hunter Calliope Burns at a high school party, and sparks fly immediately. But, of course, when they find out about each other’s families, tensions rise and they have to choose between the life they were born into and their undeniable connection. With two blonde bombshells who have played multiple queer favorite characters Gracie Dzienny and Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliette’s sister and mother, respectively, and queer artist MK xyz as Cal’s ex, there really is something for everyone in this show’s too-short run.
21. 4400 (2021 – 2022)
THIS SHOW IS A SLICE OF ACTUAL SCI-FI PERFECTION! The title gives away a dash of the plot. In 2020, 4400 people from various time periods get dropped onto Belle Isle in Detroit. They don’t know how they got there and don’t yet know how they are going to get back. We also end up finding out that they are each given powers of some sort — telekinesis, ability to see the future etc. — that appear at different times. It was also honestly queer perfection, showing queer, enby, and trans folks from the past and connecting them to queer folks of the present. Showing how many of us have faced similar issues, but the growth that has come as time has passed. It’s also worth noting that most of the queer folks on the show are POC! We got to see them kissing on each other, going to pride, and sharing stories and connecting — all while trying to figure out why in the heck a green light brought them all to the year 2020 ‘cos my gosh what a time to be alive. — Shelli
20. Person of Interest (2011 – 2016)
I’ll be honest, the reason this is technically a new entry on this list is entirely my bad. The truth is, because of my utter lack of understanding of all things technology, I wasn’t convinced the level of AI they used on the show was science-fiction. But luckily a few of you pointed out my misstep in the comments and now that I’m updating this list I have a chance to redeem myself and kick off the Top 20 with Root and Shaw, who have one of my favorite dynamics: peppy optimist and grumpy pessimist. It was a shining example of showrunners following the chemistry; they play off each other so well and balance each other’s demeanors and overall are a damn delight to watch, in part because they are expertly played by Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi.
19. Lost Girl (2010 – 2014)
Lost Girl‘s Bo Dennis was the bisexual succubus who encouraged us weekly to live the lives we choose. Sex was her gift and her curse, her weapon and her energy source, and yet somehow the show still wove deep, meaningful love stories into the show. With human doctor Lauren Lewis, queer Valkyrie Tamsin, and, in a platonic way, with her best friend Kenzie. And those weren’t even all the queer characters. It was a queer, queer world of light and dark fae, of life and death and afterlife, and of the kind family you build.
18. The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
And here we are, with yet another Mike Flanagan joint (though still not the last) and arguably the gayest one. The Haunting of Bly Manor is the story of an American woman,Dani, who is hired to nanny British children and falls in love with a snarky gardener named Jamie. Dani is haunted by her past, by heterosexuality, and by literal ghosts, but she leans on Dani as an escape from all of that in this (pardon the expression) hauntingly beautiful lesbian love story. Plus, in a very special flashback episode, we get a black-and-white appearance by noted bisexual Kate Siegel.
17. Willow (2022 – Present)
Willow just started airing a few weeks ago but it has already rocketed itself into the Top 20 by being an Autostraddle TV Team fame, coming in hot with the queer stuff of dreams. These dreamy things include but are not limited to: a lady knight who has sworn to protect her princess, said princess being a sword-wielder herself, a grumpy traveler seeing through them pretending that they’re just best friends, and truth plums forcing them to finally confront those feelings. And that’s just in the first five episodes! Aforementioned lesbian knight, Jade, is played by IRL lesbian Erin Kellyman, and her queer princess, Kit, is played by IRL queer actress Ruby Cruz.
16. Black Mirror (2015 – Present)
Every episode of Black Mirror is its own mini psychological thriller, often projecting into imagined futures a possibility for how advancing technology could go so, so horribly wrong in human hands. Most episodes end with something harrowing and dark, and when the Netflix screen goes dark and you see your own horrified expression staring back at you, you suddenly understand the title of the show. There are a rare few exceptions to this rule, one of which is the beloved San Junipero episode, where Yorkie and Kelly are two women who find each other in the most unlikely of (digital) places. The end of this episode is also a little harrowing, if I’m being honest, but it has more of a hopeful note to it than the episodes usually do, despite it being the gayest episode, which is honestly a blessing.
15. Station Eleven (2021 – 2022)
This miniseries is a rare gem in a lot of ways, beginning with the fact that it’s an adaptation of a book that is as good as its source material. Starring Mackenzie Davis as our queer heroine, Kirsten Raymonde, a comic book nerd and thespian with a strong spirit and a kind heart. (PS. This officially qualifies her for the “Rule of Three” – she has played queer thrice now (Black Mirror, Happiest Season, and Station Eleven) which means she is officially assumed queer until she states otherwise.) And I love this for us. Davis gives a stunning performance in Station Eleven, which is a poignant post-apocalyptic tale that hits a little close to home in a mid-pandemic world and is a stunning exploration of human connection in disconnected times.
14. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
I’ve always loved horror movies and thrillers and ghost stories, but none so much as I love The Haunting of Hill House and spooky lesbian empath Theo Crain. Played by bisexual actress Kate Siegel, Theo is a whipsmart badass, a child psychologist as an adult and a quiet but bookish kid. She’s a loyal, loving sister to her four siblings, despite trying to give off the air that she doesn’t give a single fuck. The truth is, she cares so much it literally hurts her, despite the gloves she wears to try to keep her empath powers at bay.
13. Black Lightning (2018 – 2021)
Arriving just when we needed her most, Black lesbian superhero Anissa Pierce boomed her way onto the scene as Thunder, daughter of legendary Black Lightning. She navigates family dynamics and girlfriends (and one night stands) while also trying to navigate her powers, her activism, and the various mysteries afoot in Freeland. And while they never got quite as much screentime as we would have wanted, we loved every minute we did get with our hero Anissa and her shapeshifting girlfriend.
12. Legends of Tomorrow (2016 – 2022)
In the first season of Legends of Tomorrow, most of us were there because we followed bisexual blonde bombshell and buttkicker Sara Lance over from Arrow. But instead there was a man we’d never met at the helm of the timeship, and despite Sara having the best storylines (including but not limited to the time she made out with Betty McRae), he still seemed to be the focal point. But then the show did the right thing. The risky thing, but the right thing. They pivoted. Seeing that Sara was the reason people were showing up week after week, they gave ol’ Rip Hunter the boot and put Sara in the Captain seat. They had her lead the Legends away from the dark grumbly undertones of its parent show and into uncharted wacky waters, and everyone was better for it. Sara Lance has the best character arcs and the most growth in the entire Arrowverse – eh hem, sorry, Beeboverse – and, after a few seasons of sleeping her way through the centuries, she now has one of the longest, most healthy relationships with Ava Sharpe. Plus, in the final season, we find out that one of the Legends, Spooner, is asexual! The show as a whole is a hard sell on paper, I know, but trust me when I say that this show is packed full of humor and heart, and will give you all of the big, gay, found family feels you could ask for.
11. Wynonna Earp (2016 – 2021)
If you’ve been collecting evidence, here’s my closing argument for how this list isn’t rigged and I didn’t blindly pick the order of these shows, because Wynonna Earp would be in my Top 3. With traces of Buffy and Lost Girl in its veins, but a truly unique show at its core, Wynonna Earp is about an unlikely hero and her unlikely crew. Wynonna’s sister Waverly is an optimist, sweet, genius bisexual angel, and the love of Waverly’s life Nicole is the loyal, strong, local sheriff, with stories and relationships and mysteries of her own. The show has queer characters, queer actors, and queer writers, and even though a Canadian Western about the heir to Wyatt Earp’s demon-hunting curse who falls in and out of (and in) love with THE Doc Holliday isn’t going to be EVERYONE’S jam, it sure as hell is mine.
10. Paper Girls (2022)
It’s bittersweet that Paper Girls rocketed onto the scene and directly into the Top 10, because it is only one season long, canceled too soon. But the one season we did get is an amazing story about four teenagers who accidentally time travel to the future and encounter their grown-up selves. One of the teenagers, KJ, is surprised (but also not surprised) to find her adult self happily canoodling with her college girlfriend, and has to wrestle with the fact that the big gay feelings she has been fighting off in her own lil gay body won’t go away with time, and also face the fact that there might be a world where she can be both gay…and happy.
9. Russian Doll (2019 – Present)
Including this show might get a bit of an eyebrow raise, because it’s a little outside the typical sci-fi/fantasy genre, but it’s a frackin’ time loop, man! What’s more sci-fi than that? In fact, I’d guess that close to half of these shows have a time loop episode of their own (I know for a fact the last two did), so of course I would include a show whose entire concept is a repeating birthday. Natasha Lyonne (already beloved in the queer canon for But I’m a Cheerleader and Orange is the New Black) somehow made hearing the same song every few minutes and the endless chorus of “Sweet birthday baby!” seem palatable as she rushed through her days and died a thousand times. It would have been easy to forget about us on a show that didn’t linger too long on all that many people, but Lizzy and Madonna were there to represent us again and again and again and again.
8. Supergirl (2015 – 2021)
When Supergirl moved from CBS to The CW, one of the first things it did was give Alex Danvers a girlfriend. Whether that was always the plan or a mandate from what was, at the time, the queerest network is anyone’s guess, but either way we’re glad it happened. Alex met Maggie Sawyer, came out, had her heart shattered to nine billion pieces, and is learning to love again by way of a brand new Guardian, Kelly Olsen, all while standing by the side of her sister with alien superpowers (aka Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl). And if we’re being honest, as invested as I always am in Alex’s romantic storylines and general happiness as a lesbian, the truest love story for me will always be the sisterly love between Alex and Kara. Their bond has been their lighthouse in the storm more times than I could count, and I would watch Alex help Kara remember to pull the sunlight from the darkness for the rest of my life. And an extra special shout out to trans actress Nicole Maines and her amazing portrayal of trans superhero Nia Nal aka Dreamer; she is a darling and an amazing addition to the Superfriends.
7. Sense8 (2015 – 2017)
Groundbreaking for a billion reasons, and beloved for a billion more, it’s no surprise Sense8‘s Nomi and Amanita made it so high on this list. First, we have trans actress Jamie Clayton playing the trans character Nomi Marks, which should be a given but unfortunately it’s not so it’s worth mentioning. On top of that, Nomi is a trans lesbian who has delightful and stunning sex scenes with her girlfriend Amanita, as well as the mental orgies she has with her cluster, aka the people she has a psychic connection with from all around the world. Amanita is an amazing girlfriend despite the very strange goings-on of the series, and the two all but ride off into the sunset together in the end.
6. Marvel’s Runaways (2017 – 2019)
In another instance of Marvel’s TV shows outstriding its cinematic universe re: queer representation, Runaways has featured one of the sweetest teenage romances since Season 1. Lesbian rainbow alien Karolina Dean and bisexual goth witch Nico Minoru have been trying to balance their light and dark for years, finding strength and hope and truth in each other. Their story was cut short, but we have reason to hope for a future where they have the wedding of their dreams, two sides of the same magical coin.
5. The Good Place (2017 – Present)
Hey! Hey, stop! Hey stop shouting and listen to me! I know that, being a 30-minute comedy, The Good Place is not typically categorized as sci-fi and/or fantasy, but I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that a show that is set in the afterlife and features AIs and demons and butthole spiders is not science fiction! I won’t hear it! I did feel a little guilty when its popularity amongst the TV Team shot it up to fifth place, but the thing is, it’s a great show! And the protagonist, Eleanor, is undoubtedly a bisexual woman, so I think we deserve to claim this show as ours. Plus, Janet lives outside the gender binary and even though she is also not human, her giving language, importance, and precedent for correcting someone misnaming/labeling/gendering you to an audience that might not otherwise have been exposed to it is something unique.
4. Batwoman (2019 – Present)
Batwoman flew onto the scene with a huge legacy to uphold but with the broad gay shoulders to do it. When a historically gay character makes their way to TV, you never know quite how it’s going to pan out, but Batwoman continues to defy expectations and double-down on its gayness over and over again. It’s so refreshing and exciting to have a lesbian in the titular role on TV, and even though her queerness isn’t the only part of her story, it is a real, huge part of her, because that’s how it is for all of us. After publishing this list the first time in January 2020, a lot of changes befell Batwoman; including but not limiting the queerness factor getting cranked up. Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane left the scene, and Javicia Leslie took over the show as Ryan Wilder, kicking up a romance with Meagan Tandy’s Sophie Moore. Later seasons also vindicated Gotham‘s Renee Montoya by casting Victoria Cartagena to reprise her role, but this time giving her a girlfriend in Bridget Regan’s Poison Ivy. Javicia brought new life to the show and helped it jump from #11 to #4 on this very list.
3. Dickinson (2019 – 2021)
I once again ask you to hear me out before yelling at me. I know Dickinson is an unusual inclusion on this list, but tell me that it’s not a fantasy show when there are talking bees, visits from Death himself (who looks a lot like Wiz Khalifa), powers of invisibility, and even a dash of time travel. Even if you take all those things out of the equation, chalking them up to Emily’s overactive imagination, but the concept alone, with modernized vocabulary and music, and liberties taken with her story could be considered fantasy. It’s a stunning show that brings the queerness historians tried to bury back out into the spotlight, centering Emily and Sue’s love for one another that burned bright and true despite being a time that didn’t allow them to be properly together in the way that they wished. Still, we can fantasize about how it was, all while enjoying Emily Dickinson’s incredibly gay poetry.
2. Orphan Black (2013 – 2017)
When I made this list in 2020, to say I was shocked — SHOCKED — that Orphan Black was number one doesn’t even begin to cut it. Sometimes when I’m obsessed with a show, I lose sight of its actual popularity. And I was obsessed with this show. But when I stopped to think about it, it wasn’t really all that surprising that it snuck its way to number one, if only because of the way the TV Team votes are weighted. Because while it wasn’t the only one with a high score as far as my data parameters were concerned, it is one of the few with universal appeal.
Not everyone (on our TV Team or in the general population of queer TV lovers) is into sci-fi/fantasy, but despite being about a woman seeing someone with her face jump onto the train tracks only to discover there are LOTS of people with her face, Orphan Black was genre-bending and made it seem more like secret science than science fiction; it almost convinced you that there really could be human clones running around out there.
It did dip a little into the hyper-surreal, with Kira’s healing abilities and all, but anything that seemed unbelievable as far as lore went was dimmed by Tatiana Maslany’s brilliant performance as an endless number of Leda clones, including but not limited to queer, quirky, brilliant scientist Cosima Niehaus. Her girlfriend, Delphine Cormier, was a charming, bisexual French woman, and together they defied the people who sought to bring them down, the universe trying to keep them apart, and the Bury Your Gays trope. Plus, though not explored particularly deeply in the show, Sarah Manning is bisexual, so that’s amazing. Brilliantly feminist and endlessly brilliant, it warms my heart to its core that this show made its way so high on the list. But this year, with new TV Team members’ votes being applied, it dipped down to a respectable second place. Not bad considering who it stepped down for. Which leads me to our final show…
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)
It feels right that Buffy the Vampire Slayer sits on top of this list. Not too many shows have been at the top of mind or on the tip of tongues for over 20 years nonstop, but Buffy sure has. Even now, there are still new people coming to the show for the first time because of podcasts, comics, novels and conventions that are about or inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though imperfect looking back, a lot of the humor, relationships, metaphors, and themes still hold up to this day; and even those that don’t hold up are fun to dissect and talk about. There’s subtext in Buffy and Faith, there are touching coming out stories in Willow, there is a hilarious love/hate relationship with Kennedy; plus a ton of guest stars over the years that are either queer in real life or went on to play queer later. Hell there’s even a whole song that’s an allegory for lesbian sex. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an important touchstone in queer culture, and Willow and Tara will be held up as legends for decades to come.