Asexual Representation in Popular Culture

Background is purple gradient. On top is asexual pride flag. Top text reads: Asexual Representation in Popular Culture. Bottom text reads: International Asexuality Day

Today (April 6) Is International Asexuality Day, and as someone who sits solidly on the ace spectrum myself, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the asexual characters in popular culture. Sadly, there aren’t many. Asexuality remains one of the queer identities that is least represented in media – at least canonically (I headcanon plenty of people as ace!) – but every year we get a new character to add to the list.

As always, this list is by no means a comprehensive list of all ace characters in media. (That would be here.) And again, this list only contains characters who were stated either in canon or were confirmed by showrunners to be asexual. As much as I would love to add Eddie Diaz to this list (that man is demi if I ever saw one), 9-1-1 sadly continues to keep him stubbornly hetero. (There may be hope, though, as they just made Buck bisexual after years of breadcrumbs!)

Isaac Henderson, Heartstopper

Starting off with one of the more recent additions to the list! For those who don’t watch Hearstopper on Netflix, Isaac (Tobie Donovan) is the perpetual seventh (or ninth) wheel. With all of his friends coupled up in season 2, Isaac finds himself on the outside. When a classmate attempts to woo him on their Paris trip, Isaac does what anyone would do and goes to his friends for advice. But he doesn’t relate to anything that they’re saying, and presumes that means that he doesn’t have feelings for the boy.

It isn’t until he goes to a queer art installation and talks to one of the artists, who is explaining how his ace-ness informed his art, that he realizes what he is. The season ends with Isaac literally stealing a book on asexuality from his school library, but when a queer is in crisis, the laws don’t apply. (This is just a joke. We do not condone breaking the law. Usually.)

Isaac isn’t a character in the Heartstopper webtoon, so his story arc was conceived entirely for the Netflix series. And I’ll confess that I clocked him as ace back in season 1, purely because I heavily identified with the boy who constantly had a book in his hand and didn’t give a crap about his friends’ romantic drama. That was me in high school.

Tori Spring, Heartstopper

The older sister of main character Charlie, Tori is mostly relegated to the background, as the webcomic explores Charlie’s relationship with Nick. However, in volume 5, Tori comes out as asexual to her brother. There is reason to believe that Tori’s asexuality will be explored in season 3, based on a few scenes we’ve already gotten as well as casting news from the upcoming season. I like the opportunity this presents Heartstopper, as with multiple ace characters they have the chance to show that asexuality is a spectrum, and that we are not all the same.

Liv Flaherty (Isobel Steele) on the British soap Emmerdale. (Image: screengrab)

Liv Flaherty (Dingle), Emmerdale

Emmerdale is a British soap opera that I became obsessed with in 2018 because of Robron (Robert Sugden and Aaron Dingle). Liv (Isobel Steele) is Aaron’s younger sister, and her asexuality came in drips and drabs until it was confirmed in early 2018 that she had no attraction to boys or girls. I’ll admit that I mostly watched Emmerdale via Robron clips on YouTube, so I haven’t seen a lot of Liv’s storyline. But I was really excited when I found out that she was ace.

One of the good (?) things about a soap opera is that a character very rarely just gets one storyline. Liv doesn’t only have an arc where she goes through a sexuality crisis (though I do appreciate that there are multiple moments where they show her struggling to date when she’s not sexually attracted to her love interest). It’s a soap opera, so she becomes an alcoholic, goes to prison, develops epilepsy, exposes a predator… She had got a lot going on, before they sadly killed her off in 2022.

In 2024, it can still be pretty rare to find queer characters who are given something to do other than be queer. A lot of times, particularly with teenage characters, the coming out story is all that they get. So while Emmerdale was soapy and ridiculous, and they killed Liv off in typical dramatic fashion, at least she got other things to do than simply struggle with her sexuality.

Raphael Santiago, Shadowhunters

Vampires are often portrayed as hedonistic, charming lotharios who can seduce anyone in order to suck their blood. So having an asexual vampire is a little bit fantastic. (And I don’t even like vampires!) Raphael (David Castro) confirms his asexuality in the second season of Shadowhunters, the television show based on Cassandra Clare’s best-selling book series The Mortal Instruments.

There are a lot of incarnations of The Mortal Instruments – books, television, film, graphic novels – and Raphael may be the only character on this list whose sexuality is confirmed more than once. He has a romance with Isabel Lightwood in Shadowhunters, which prompts him to tell her that he doesn’t experience sexual attraction. And in The Shadowhunters Chronicles graphic novel, he tells a fey woman that his sexuality is “not interested”.

Raphael went through a lot on Shadowhunters and was not the best guy. But he had a pretty decent redemption arc in the series’ final season, and I am still so appreciative that he was given a romance subplot. While asexual people can also be aromantic, not all of us are, and I’m always happy to see ace characters dating.

Frieren, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is one of the “it” anime of the season. Frieren is an elven mage who is, like all elves, long-lived, and when she returns to reunite with her old battle party, she realizes that 50 years looks a lot different on her human friends. It’s revealed in chapter 13 of the manga that all elves lack romantic and sexual attraction. I actually love this because it provides a perfect explanation for a) why there are so few elves and b) the elves’ slow extinction.

Jughead Jones, Archie Comics

The OG! For a while, Jughead was basically the only ace representation we had in pop culture. In one comic, he famously married a hamburger, and they didn’t even kiss during the ceremony – they high-fived. It’s one of the reasons I was excited about Riverdale when it was in production. That excitement died pretty quickly, as it was clear from the outset that they had no intention of having Jughead be ace in the TV series. (Or, really, make any sort of sense.)

Nonetheless, I will forever include Jughead on this list. Jughead writer Chip Zdarsky said at New York Comic Con in 2015 that Jughead was always written as asexual (Archie Comics began in 1942), they just didn’t have a word for it. I feel like a lot of us can relate.

Todd Chavez (voiced by Aaron Paul) in BoJack Horseman. In this scene, he is suggesting a cupcake gun. We love this idea. (Image: screengrab)

Todd Chavez, BoJack Horseman

Aside from Jughead, Todd (Aaron Paul) was the character I pointed to when it came to finding ace representation in media. I don’t even watch BoJack Horseman, but I always figured that I should, solely for that reason. He “comes out” of sorts at the end of season 3, saying that he “might be nothing” because he isn’t straight or gay. Season 4 finds him exploring more about his sexuality, including meeting other people on the ace spectrum.

For a long time, if you wanted to see an ace character on your TV screen, Todd was all you had. In 2018, GLAAD declared him as the only ace character on streaming. I’m glad that isn’t the case now, though BoJack Horseman still gets major props for leading the way.

Felicity Montague, The Montague Siblings series

The Montague siblings are the lead characters in a series of YA books by Mackenzi Lee. Felicity features heavily in the first book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and gets her own vehicle in The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. Like Jughead, Felicity never identifies as asexual, primarily because that was not a term that was in use at the time. However, the way she describes her own feelings and sexuality mostly aligns with the ace spectrum.

Felicity, like Liv Flaherty, is a wonderful example to add to this list, because her story isn’t about her sexuality. She’s off on a swashbuckling adventure. In fact, I’ve always thought that adventure stories and post-apocalyptic tales were the perfect setting to have ace characters; no time for sexy shenanigans when you’re trying to survive! Sadly, not enough people seem to feel the same way.

Sakuko Kodama and Satoru Takahashi, Koisenu Futari

Koisenu Futari is an 8-episode Japanese web drama about Kodama and Takahashi, two aromantic asexuals who begin living together. Kodama realizes that she is aroace after reading Takahashi’s blog. This is one I really wish was available somewhere like YouTube or Viki so that I could watch it. As an ace who is very into BLs and GLs, I wish we saw more of asexuality in these dramas. The censorship over queer love stories offers the perfect excuse to have one be about an ace character, because there’s no sexual component to censor out.

While I haven’t seen this series, just reading the description makes me feel seen as an individual. Kodama is bombarded every day – as we all are – with this heteronormative idea that relationships are the end-all, be-all, that everyone’s goal in life should be to get married and have children. This is something I’m sure many of us struggle with daily. I myself love a good romance, but I am perpetually single and perfectly happy by myself. It’s nice to see a series that reflects my experiences.


I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I know I didn’t include everyone, but I’m curious as to who your favorites are. Let us know in the comments! Or tell me all about your ace headcanons, I would legitimately love to hear them.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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1 thought on “Asexual Representation in Popular Culture

  1. Verity Willis in the amazing (really, it’s top-tier) comic, ‘Loki: Agent of Asgard’, is heavily implied to be aroace. Sylvie Laufeydottir is implied to also be bisexual, like Loki, in S1 of the Disney+ show ‘Loki’, but is later depicted as more likely to be aroace in S2, during the episode in which she’s in a retro set with wallpaper that’s literally the aroace flag. Loki and Mobius are shown in a room with the mlm flag and I’m sure that’s not unintentional either.

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