Even though tons of people identify as ace, aromantic, or asexual, meaning they do not experience the same degree of spontaneous romantic or sexual attraction compared to allosexual folks, representation of these identities is rarely highlighted in popular media. When they are present, ace characteristics are not always portrayed accurately or respectfully.
In honour of Ace Week which is an international campaign to raise awareness about these identities, we’re revisiting some of our favourite examples of asexual and aromantic representation. Here are 11 A-spec characters in popular television shows, video games, books and comics.
O – Sex Education
Sex Education has been praised for its incredibly diverse representation. In the latest season, O comes out as ace during a public debate. She shares that she has felt pressured to assume the role of student sex therapist to fit in, even though she doesn’t personally experience sexual attraction.
In the series, Steve also discovers that he is demisexual, an identity that exists on the ace spectrum, meaning that he only experiences sexual attraction after establishing a close emotional bond.
Douglas ‘Ca$h’ Piggott – Heartbreak High
This edgy Australian teen drama is committed to diversity and inclusivity. Piggott is initially quiet about his identity, but his asexuality is gradually revealed throughout the first season. With well-rounded non-binary, bisexual and neurodivergent characters as well, the show is leading the way in LGBTQ+ representation.
Yelena Belova, Black Widow – Marvel Comics
Yelena’s first appeared in an Inhumans comic published in 1999. She later had her own three-issue mini-series called Black Widow: Pale Little Spider, where she has a conversation about her sexuality, to which she states, “I’m not a lesbian, I’m not anything.”
In 2021, writer David K Grayson confirmed her asexuality, officially making her the first confirmed asexual character in the Marvel Universe!
Isaac – Heartstopper
isaac getting his own “heartstopper moment” as he clutches a book on being ace means so much to me. as an aspec person seeing that little thing reserved for moments of love symbolising his first steps in working out who he is means a lot. self acception is a form of love. pic.twitter.com/5gMiS6TFkO
— bear (@clingynln) August 4, 2023
In season two, the introverted and studious Isaac considers that he may be asexual after kissing another student. Isaac later relates to an artist who explains how they understand their own aromanticism and asexuality, and how isolating it can feel in a world that centres romantic love.
Maya – Borderlands 2
Maya is a playable character in Borderlands 2 and 3 and has various interactions with other characters throughout the games. With Borderlands being an adult game series, there are often sexual comments said by the characters, yet fans began to notice that Maya lacked such dialogue.
After speculation arose surrounding Maya’s sexuality, Anthony Burch, writer of the successful game series, confirmed her ace orientation on Ask.fm.
Liv Flaherty – Emmerdale
In this long-running soap opera, Liv made history for asexual representation in television. In the show, she opens up to another character, Belle, about her sexual orientation, saying that it would be easier if she liked a boy, but she “has nothing” romantically.
As she explores her identity, one of the show’s writers said she wants young people to know that there is no rush or pressure to label themselves.
Kamai – Beyond the Black Door
Kamai openly explores their asexuality as a major theme of this young adult dark fantasy book. Kamai is a “Soulwalker” and one fan praised the protagonist’s “journey from internalised aphobia to self-love”.
Luffy – One Piece
This live-action series includes a range of LGBTQ+ representation. While their identity has not yet been confirmed, there have been conversations about Luffy’s sexuality as he seems to show no interest in romance, with some labelling him as asexual and/or aromantic.
Parvati Holcomb – Outer Worlds
Parvati is a supporting character seen in the video game Outer Wilds. In one of the game’s missions, the player is given the opportunity to be a matchmaker. When Parvati reveals that she experiences no sexual attraction, there is an option for the player to relate to her, therefore allowing people to acknowledge their own asexuality.
The creator of this character wanted to give her a “personal voice” by relating back to her own experiences as someone who identifies as asexual, bringing a more honest look into sexual orientation in video games.
Todd Chaves – Bojack Horseman
Todd is one of the few well-known television characters who talks openly about his ace identity. In a scene where he is having ice cream with Emily, she asks him if he is gay, which he denies and proceeds to say, “I don’t know what I am, I think I might be nothing.”
When she asks if he is asexual, he explains that he doesn’t like labels, yet even with this comment, viewers believe that he expresses his asexuality in a very casual and honest form.
Georgia – Loveless
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Heartstopper author Alice Oseman wrote this young adult novel where 18-year-old Georgia explores her own asexual, aromantic identity while beginning her life as a university student.
All Out: The No-Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell
Historical fiction has always been lacking when it comes to asexual representation, but All Out: The No-Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages is determined to change that.
All Out is a collection of short stories from 17 of the best LGBTQ+ young adult authors. Together these talented writers have reimagined the lives of queer teens throughout history, including a tale of an asexual girl’s journey of self-discovery at a 1970s roller disco.
Dionysus – The Wicked + The Divine
The Wicked + The Divine has had numerous LGBTQ+ characters featured throughout its comic series, so it is no surprise that it has a character who openly identifies as asexual. Issue 26 features a conversation between Dionysus and Urdr where Dionysus says that sexual attraction is “not a thing” for him. Dionysus is not aromantic, however, since he experiences romantic attraction towards another character in the series.
Esperanza Cruz – Legends of Tomorrow
Esperanza is an asexual superhero, a revelation that was announced through a short but sweet scene in the seventh season of Legends of Tomorrow. Esperanza jokes, saying that the aliens that abducted her had messed her up, to which Zari reassures her that it is normal and describes asexuality to her.
Fans were very happy with how to scene panned out and the concise yet perfect description of asexuality.
Raphael Santiago – Shadowhunters
This supernatural drama breaks stereotypes about vampires being seductive, sexual creatures. When Isabelle develops a relationship with Raphael, he tells her, “I’m not like that. I’m just not interested in sex. I’ve always been like this.”
Although asexual and aromantic representation remains limited, it is gradually improving. GLAAD counted eight unique asexual characters across broadcast, cable and streaming services in 2022-2023 compared to only two in 2021-2022. And thanks to popular shows like Heartstopper and Sex Education, new ace characters are becoming household names.
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