Some of you may be surprised that a gay Call of Duty ship is in the top ten of fanfiction site Archive Of Our Own’s annual, unofficial roundup, but I’m not. Not long after the 2022 release of Modern Warfare II, a bevy of TikToks bimbofied Call of Duty character Simon “Ghost” Riley, who is only ever shown in-game wearing a full face mask with a skull emblazoned on it. The baby girl-ification of the decidedly masculine character led to a massive increase in Archive Of Our Own (AO3) stories shipping Ghost with fellow hard-boiled military man, John “Soap” MacTavish.
According to the roundup, which ranks the pairing tags with the “greatest gain in total fanworks” posted to AO3, the two potential lovebirds are the sixth-most popular ship on the site, and the second-most popular from the world of gaming, falling behind only Genshin Impact’s Kaveh and Alhaitham. The next gaming ship on the list? Baldur’s Gate 3’s vampire hottie Astarion and the player-character Tav. Check out the entire list below.
As you can see, Good Omens’ angel and devil duo Aziraphale and Crowley top the list, likely thanks to the performances from Martin Sheen and David Tennant in the Amazon Prime series based off of the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett book of the same name (they were 30th last year). In second place, we’ve got a tried-and-true ship: Harry Potter’s Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, followed by Dazai Osamu and Nakahara Chuuya from the Bungou Stray Dogs manga. In fourth place, the holdovers of 2022 stand strong: Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson and Steve Harrington, though they’re down from their first-place ranking in 2022. The newest addition to the AO3 rankings is Genshin’s fifth-place spot, which is rather impressive, and then there’s our Call of Duty Task Force 141 boys, who jumped up a whopping 75 spots this year—and I think I know why.
Call of Duty’s Ghost and Soap, in love
Late last year, Ghost became such an iconic character for shippers and ThirstTok fans that even wildly popular influencer Brittany Broski (you may know her as Kombucha Girl, though she has long since grown beyond that moniker for me and millions of others) was openly pining for him on the social media platform. In September of this year, Broski bought herself a Cameo (a personalized celebrity video you can purchase for yourself or a really funny birthday present) from former Ghost voice actor Jeff Leach, who offers videos of himself wearing full Ghost cosplay for $99. The subsequent clip of her watching her personalized Cameo almost sent me into orbit.
Though it may initially seem like there’s several degrees of separation between the inherently masculine and bombastically bro-y Call of Duty series and very graphic, gay fanfic, AO3’s 2023 roundup is here to dispel your disbelief. I did a cursory glance to see what kind of content was on offer and found comics depicting Ghost as an actual ghost who provides emotional support for a very-much-alive Soap, a story where you’re a new recruit to Task Force 141 and the masked man piques your sexual interest, and one where Soap’s aunt brings home a new SAS boyfriend for Christmas who turns his attentions to her nephew instead. The Ghost content is either deliciously raunch or adorably sweet, but almost all of it is very, very gay.
The layered, complicated connections between the military and LGBTQIA+ people has a long and messy history, but clearly something about Ghost and Soap is clicking with fanfic writers across the world. Are there any other additions to this year’s list that surprise you?