How WayHaught became the heart of Wynonna Earp

WayHaught has changed the course and feel of Wynonna Earp—the queer fandom that has arisen around the series understands why.

When Beau Smith’s Wynonna Earp comic first appeared on the stands via Image Comics in 1996, few people would have foreseen the cult hit cable TV series and thriving queer fandom that we know today. Indeed, it took a switch to a different publisher, IDW, and a long and steady uphill journey to get us where we are, but ultimately the project found its way to showrunner Emily Andras, and the rest is Canadian TV history.

Yet, no show is an island, and Wynonna Earp’s dedicated fanbase is what has kept this series alive when it hit many of the same hardships that have ended plenty of other great shows before their time (e.g. axe-happy executives, budget constrictions, a whole industry shut down in the face of a pandemic, etc.) By catering to queer fans of the show, not only did Wynonna Earp create a highly passionate community, but it gave us a structurally better series.

Image courtesy: SYFY

Wayhaught: Origins

Bless Wayhaught, so named after youngest Earp sister Waverly and new-to-town Officer Nicole Haught. Bless you gays for elevating this show to greatness. This is one of those rare queer ships that only feeds its fans better over time. The first season might have lost me around the middle without the vibes between those two to carry me through, and yet, season one was just the beginning.

When we first met Waverly, she was dating a stereotypical Chad named Champ, but it was obvious that our girl was destined for greater things. Said greater things being Nicole Haught, who was out and clearly into Waverly. It was a relief that Waverly didn’t waste much time choosing whether or not to pursue a relationship with Nicole, whereas so many other series have let entire seasons of subtextual tension drag on into infinity. Moreover, her hesitation around starting a serious relationship was more than reasonable. The communication malfunctions that this spurred just led to the two forming a stronger bond, laying down a foundation of mutual understanding that continues to define their interactions.

Yet, even in the beginning, it’s far from easy. Before Waverly tells Wynonna about her relationship with Nicole, the nefarious third Earp sister Willa tries to leverage it against her. After catching Waverly and Nicole sharing a moment, she passive-aggressively threatens Waverly by noting that this is information that could easily be used against her. Waverly immediately sees this for the aggressive act it is and refuses to back down, instead pointing out a pattern of cruelty on Willa’s part.

WayHaught Wynonna Earp
Image courtesy: SYFY

Like so many queer people do, Waverly drops hints to Wynonna before she fully comes out. When Wynonna assures Waverly that “dudes dig scars,” Waverly responds, “Do chicks?” As usual, Wynonna’s moment to process this information is cut short, but later, when Willa holds a gun to Nicole and Waverly begs Wynonna not to endanger her, Wynonna sees what Nicole means to her and somewhat reluctantly complies. Naturally, Willa then shoots Nicole right in the bullet-proof vest just to make a point, but this would prove to be far from the most dramatic or life-threatening moment the two would ultimately endure.

While the wild world around them generally requires some pretty intense suspension of disbelief, the love between this half-angel and her beloved, currently-former sheriff has always come across as authentic. This is no small feat on a show that regularly requires one or both of them to be possessed by various supernatural entities, teleported into alternate realities, or, on one occasion, transported into the body of a frog.

Image courtesy: SYFY

The Saga Of Wayhaught

Over the last few seasons, these two have staved off vampires, demonic possessions, bizarre revelations about their pasts, several kidnappings, and more, and yet they always seem to find one another in the end. In the first season, in an alternate reality where Wynonna did not exist, an engaged Waverly ultimately realizes with minimal push that Nicole is who she really wants to be with. When she’s banished to a decaying Garden of Eden for a year and a half, Nicole never stops trying to bring her back. Any time one of them has been possessed or otherwise impersonated (this happens a lot more regularly than one might think), the other is the first to realize it, long before anyone else notices anything awry. Despite the constant crisis of identity they have shared over these many episodes, they never seem to doubt each other.

As of the halfway point of season four, Nicole and Waverly have both done a lot of things to survive that entails them going wildly off in their own directions and doing things that they maybe aren’t proud of, which is why their engagement is such an important moment.

A proposal is first floated as a possibility in a season three episode in which Waverly thinks Nicole is proposing to her only to realize with some embarrassment that she is not. Next, Waverly chooses an especially raw moment in the season three finale to use a semi-cursed ring to propose to Nicole, but their moment is interrupted. We spend most of the first six episodes of the fourth season dancing around the subject before Waverly formally proposes and Nicole accepts. Regardless of what else happens to these two or how bonkers their pending wedding turns out to be, this moment is huge, not just from a fandom perspective, but in the lives of all the characters. The supporting cast gathers around the couple in celebration despite all the horror of their lives. Rather than ending the episode on a cliffhanger, we have a moment—and a mid-season break—to bask in their joy.

There are a lot of reasons why this is a ship for the ages, but a primary one is that the two are so openly into each other, even during moments of turmoil. Though they question themselves and the circumstances of their highly chaotic lives, their relationship is always a priority, and it serves as a grounding element for the whole show. For example, Doc and Wynonna’s long term, on-again, off-again romance is all the more compelling when it’s not forced to stand on its own, and the tragedy of their inability to be open with one another is exacerbated when we see Waverly and Nicole overcome so much and choose each other at every turn.

WayHaught Wynonna Earp
Image courtesy: SYFY

And all These Other Gays & Bisexuals

Nor is Wayhaught forced to stand on its own when it comes to queer representation on the series. Jeremy and Robin’s relationship is one of the strong points of season three, and they’re overdue for a comeback. Meanwhile, as of this last season, there are potential ships going every which way, from Rosita and Wynonna to Doc and Amon, and, perhaps our favorite of them all, Rosita and a whole nunnery full of nuns.

Regardless of increased representation overall, for there to be a queer ship on cable TV that viewers don’t have to read into, scour for subtext, argue the legitimacy of, or mourn the premature ending to, is still kind of a big deal. Wayhaught is a great example of two people that endure a lot of trauma but learn to interact with each other in a mutually open and kind way, and that’s why its existence elevates a show that might have otherwise lacked an emotional center.

Wynonna Earp (and WayHaught) returns to SYFY with the second half of Season 4 this spring. All episodes from earlier seasons are currently available to stream via SYFY or are available on demand from your favorite platform (Prime, AppleTV, Google, DirectTv, etc.)

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