Dead Lesbian Syndrome: LGBTQ fandom’s self-regulation mechanisms in fan-producer controversies around “The 100”

Mar Guerrero-Pico, Maria-José Establés, Rafael Ventura


This article explores the mechanisms of fans self-regulation in conflict situations with the showrunners. Conflict situations are encouraged by the unfair treatment that LGBTQ characters receive in TV series, including the so-called Dead Lesbian Syndrome: a narrative cliché that implies a tragic ending for the LGBTQ female characters. In our study, which is methodologically based on reception studies and discourse analysis, we analyse the boycott campaign organized by lesbian and bisexual fans of The 100 (The CW, 2014-) after the death, in the third season, of a charismatic lesbian character: Commander Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey). The results show that fans use the fear of industry reprisals, strategic thinking and the positive portrayal of LGBTQ characters as argumentative strategies designed to contain the action of toxic fans that harass showrunners in social networks, and to protect the social labor of fan activism.


fan activism; toxic fandom; LGBTQ representation; Dead Lesbian Syndrome, Bury Your Gays; The 100


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