Queerbaiting is the practice of hinting at, but then not actually depicting, a same-sex romantic relationship between characters in a work of fiction, mainly in film or television. The potential romance may be ignored, explicitly rejected or made fun of.
The derogatory term "queerbaiting" is meant to imply that this is done for the purpose of attracting ("baiting") a queer audience with the ultimately unrealized suggestion of relationships that appeal to them. The concept arose in and has been popularized through Internet discussions among the fandom of popular films and television series.
Audience reaction and consequences
Queerbaiting has been seen by queer fans as an approach by creators to both appeal to the queer market and to "avoid the backlash that comes with writing queer characters."
Queerbaiting often leads queer fans to believe that queer characters are added as plot devices rather than as characters in their own right. For instance, Glee, a series with many queer series regulars, was criticized by fans for presenting "superficial stereotypes of queerness for dramatic effect".
Most queer fans consider queerbaiting as "a way to throw us a bone when we normally wouldn't have anything, to acknowledge that we're there in the audience when the powers that be would prefer to ignore us". Audiences are continually unsatisfied by the representation they are given. Emmet Scout claims that "queerbaiting works on its audience because it offers the suggestion that queer people do have a vital place in these stories, that they might even be the defining figures, the heroes. The suggestion—but not the reality." Rose Bridges summarized the practice's effect on queer fans as receiving "just enough [representation] to keep us interested, but not enough to satisfy us and make us truly represented."
Queerbaiting has also been seen by queer audiences as hurting them by treating references as funny. 
The following relationships between characters of the same sex have been interpreted as queerbaiting:
- Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray in the TV series Glee.
- Arthur Pendragon and Merlin in the TV series Merlin.
- Regina Mills and Emma Swan in the TV series Once Upon a Time.
- Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, and Archie Andrews and Joaquin DeSantos in the TV series Riverdale.
- Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles in the TV series Rizzoli & Isles.
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the TV series Sherlock. Cast and crew of Sherlock have consistently denied that the relationship is intended to be seen as romantic, to the dismay of many fans.
- Castiel and Dean Winchester in the TV series Supernatural.
- Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor in the TV series Supergirl.
- Shiro and Adam in the TV series Voltron: Legendary Defender.
- Fathallah, Judith (2014-07-17). "Moriarty's Ghost". Television & New Media. 16 (5): 490–500. doi:10.1177/1527476414543528.
- Nordin, Emma (2015-01-01). "From Queer Reading to Queerbaiting : The battle over the polysemic text and the power of hermeneutics". Master's thesis, Stockholm University. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
- Scout, Emmett. "Please Do Not Bait the Queers". The Next. University of Washington. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- Panigrahi, Kerishma. "Queerbaiting in Online Communities: Television, Fandom, and the Politics of Representation" (PDF). Wordpress. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- Bridges, Rose. "How Do We Solve A Problem Like 'Queerbaiting'?". AutoStraddle. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- "Queer Representation in the Media". Media Smarts. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- Biele, Natalie (20 February 2017). "Queerbaiting: The Misrepresentation of the Queer Community". Odyssey. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- Scout, Emmett (19 June 2013). "Please Do Not Bait the Queers". The Next. University of Washington. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Shakeri, Sima (30 June 2017). "Television Has A 'Bury Your Gays,' Queerbaiting, And LGBTQ Representation Problem". Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- McGrath, Mary Kate. "'Riverdale', Queer-Baiting, & How One Tweet Exposed The Fan Conversation We Need To Pay Attention To". Bustle. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
- Reilly, Kaitlin. "Riverdale Accused Of Queerbaiting Over That Joaquin/Archie Kiss". Refinery29. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
- "Rizzoli & Isles". 1 February 2016.
- Romano, Aja (26 April 2013). ""Sherlock" fans lash out over sunken JohnLock ship". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- "Steven Moffat talk about JohnLock and Season 3 & 4". YouTube. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- Bridges, Rose (26 June 2013). "How Do We Solve A Problem Like "Queerbaiting"?: On TV's Not-So-Subtle Gay Subtext". Autostraddle. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Cruz, Eliel (17 July 2014). "Fans Take Supernatural to Task for 'Queer Baiting'". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Haasch, Palmer (16 August 2018). "Voltron creator addresses fans over season 7's queerbaiting controversy". Polygon. Retrieved 26 December 2018.