Voltron’s Queer Rep Is Messy and Complicated

The following contains spoilers for Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 7, on Netflix now.

Last week saw the release of the seventh season of Netflix's hit animated series Voltron: Legendary Defender, and while the show has been no stranger to hype, it was even bigger than normal thanks to the revelation at San Diego Comic-Con that one of the lead characters is gay. Shiro, leader and former Paladin of the Black Lion, had a fiancé named Adam before he went to space and wound up getting entangled in a fight for the galaxy, as revealed at the panel by showrunner Lauren Montgomery. It's a plan that they've had for the character since Season 2, but circumstances out of the creative team's control led to the development being pushed back to the penultimate season.

With that extra bit of news, fans waited with baited breath to see if Shiro and Adam would meet again now that the Paladins were returning to Earth. Only... that didn't happen.

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Instead, it's revealed in one of the episodes towards the back half of the season that Adam was one of the many soldiers who died fighting when the Galra first showed up on Earth during the three years that the Paladins were thought to be dead after their battle with Lotor. (It's a long story.) Upon returning to Earth, Shiro finds his fiancé's name on the plaque memorializing those who have fallen as members of the resistance.

And that's where things quickly went sour, with fans declaring that the show queerbaited them and indulged in the classically reviled Bury Your Gays trope, wherein queer characters effectively do nothing but die. A number of viewers quickly went after members of the show's cast and crew, dragging them on social media. A lot of fans felt cheated, not helped by the fact that Netflix had promotional art implying Shiro and Adam would meet. The streaming service went so far as to promote the show under its LGBT category alongside actual LGBT shows such as Orange is the New Black or Queer Eye. As a result, for many fans, it was enough to write off not just the season, but the series as a whole.

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