Diverse and Inclusive: 25 TV Shows with LGBTQ Characters in Complex Roles Beyond Their Identities

Queer people search for LGBTQ+ representation in the media to feel seen, understood, and to find relatable characters with queer life experiences. While most TV series don't focus on gay and queer romance plotlines or gender nonconformity, many feature queer secondary characters with rich lives and beautiful LGBTQ+ relationships.

From Schitt's Creek (2015-2020) to Killing Eve (2018-2022) to Modern Family (2009-2020), these shows portray authentic, queer characters with minor plotlines.

1. Schitt's Creek (2015-2020)

Schitt's Creek
Image Credit: ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

This endearing sitcom begins when a wealthy family loses everything in a scam, must vacate their mansion, and move to a rural town to start anew. As the family, used to being pampered wherever they go, must get acquainted with their new surroundings, they must unpack their entitlement to connect with the locals.

The family's adult son, a sensitive man with a dramatic streak, meets a dashing local man after living in Schitt's Creek for a year or so. The two become business partners, which quickly shifts into something more.

2. The Dragon Prince (2018-)

The Dragon Prince Jack De Sena, Sasha Rojen
Image Credit: Netflix.

The Dragon Prince is an animated fantasy series about two princes and an elf who team up despite years of strife between magical creatures and humans. They're on a mission to return the stolen egg of the Dragon Prince to his mother.

As the epic journey goes on, minor characters like the human army commander and a powerful elf begin a heartwarming lesbian romance. On top of that, season four introduces one of the show's most bubbly and emotionally intelligent characters: a trans elf who dates a powerful human mage.

3. The Last of Us (2023-)

the last of us 1 1
Image Credit: HBO.

When a terrifying fungal outbreak decimates human life on Earth, bands of survivors struggle to make it through each day in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. There, a man must protect a teenager from harm as he transports her across the country on a mission that could save humanity.

As they trek through abandoned cities and dense wilderness, the unlikely pair comes across other people, like an aging gay couple who live as survivalists on a heavily fortified farm in the middle of nowhere.

The couple's story is a heartwarming depiction of a romance we rarely see on screen: two traditionally masculine men being vulnerable and in love.

4. Sense8 (2015-2018)

Image Credit: Unpronounceable Productions.

This thrilling sci-fi series follows a group of eight strangers who suddenly discover a telepathic link that lets each of them communicate with one another from miles away without uttering a single word. On the run from a sinister organization, the eight-team up to take down a supervillain.

Beautiful and authentic queer stories come to light as we learn more about their lives. The protagonist is a trans woman in a relationship with a cis woman, and she and another character share iconic moments of queer solidarity as they discuss their relationships and identities.

5. The Umbrella Academy (2019-)

Elliot Page The Umbrella Academy
Image Credit: Netflix.

The Umbrella Academy is a wacky and wonderful sci-fi fantasy series about seven adopted siblings with miraculous superpowers who grow up as a group of crime fighters run by their adoptive billionaire father. But when the kids grow up, they go their separate ways until they reunite again for their father's funeral.

The story highlights each sibling's life and traumas, including Klaus, who is nonbinary and pansexual, and Viktor (known as Vanya in the first two seasons), who comes out as a trans man in season three.

6. The 100 (2014-2020)

The 100 Eliza Taylor, Alycia Debnam-Carey
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television, CBS Television Studios, and Alloy Entertainment.

This post-apocalyptic series takes place in a futuristic universe where humans destroyed Earth's atmosphere and had to flee into outer space to survive. But as resources dwindle, the government sends a group of 100 delinquent teenagers down to Earth to explore the possibility of reinhabiting the planet.

While never explicitly stating anyone's sexuality, the series features a queer romance between the show's protagonist and another woman.

7. Orphan Black (2013-2017)

Orphan Black Tatiana Maslany
Image Credit: Christos Kalohoridis/Temple Street Productions.

When a woman struggling to get by and support her daughter as a single mother witnesses a woman who looks exactly like her take her own life, she decides to steal the woman's identity to literally start a new life. But when she learns the woman is her clone and also a police officer with a target on her back, she realizes her old life may not have been too bad.

One of the clones working at a research facility connects with her coworker, and the two begin a rocky relationship with ups and downs throughout the series.

8. A League of Their Own (2022-)

A League of Their Own (2022)
Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Based on the 1992 film of the same title, A League of Their Own is a groundbreaking series with prominent queer storylines that don't overshadow the show's primary plot. It's about the first women's professional baseball league in the U.S. and the obstacles the teammates must overcome on and off the field. But when a talented black baseball player attempts to join the team, the white managers refuse to let her join.

The series' three protagonists grapple with sexuality and gender identity throughout each episode.

9. Station 19 (2018-)

Station 19
Image Credit: Trip the Light.

Station 19 is a drama series about a crew of firefighters as they fight fires both at work and in their personal lives. One of the major characters on the show is Maya, the lieutenant of the fire department. Throughout the series, viewers witness the slow-burn romance between Maya and an OBGYN, Carina.

10. Our Flag Means Death (2022-)

Our Flag Means Death
Image Credit: HBO.

This witty rom-com series is set in the 18th century and follows a papered aristocrat who abandons his elite lifestyle to become a pirate but lacks any of the necessary skills to perform well at his new endeavor. After assembling a rag-tag crew to man his ship, the bumbling pirate faces off against the legendary Blackbeard. But what begins as a rivalry becomes a connection and blossoms into something more.

11. Arcane (2021-)

arcane 1
Image Credit: Netflix.

Based on Riot's popular video game League of Legends, Arcane is a series set in the game's stratified world where Piltover homes the elite, and the rest of humanity fights for scraps in the slums of Zaun. As fans prepare for the show's second season, many wonder whether the budding chemistry between rebel fighter Vi and Piltover officer Caitlin will turn into a romance.

12. Dickinson (2019-2021)

Dickinson TV Series
Image Credit: Tuning Fork Productions.

Dickinson tells a fictionalized story of the famous poet Emily Dickinson as she transverses life in 19th-century Massachusetts. While attempting to ward off the suitors her family keeps sending her way, she begins to publish her poetry and gain popularity. At the same time, Emily must cope with her best friend and lover Sue's marriage to her brother.

13. The Owl House (2020-2023)

The Owl House
Image Credit: company Disney Television Animation

When a human teenager named Luz stumbles upon a magic portal into a world brimming with magic, witches, and demons, she meets a witch on the run from the law and becomes her apprentice. But no human has ever learned magic before. As Luz explores the magical realm and attends school for witches, she meets a classmate whom she wins over with her positivity and charm. The two begin an adorable romance that makes any young lesbian's heart sing.

14. Black Sails (2014-2017)

Black Sails Toby Stephens Luke Arnold
Image Credit STARZ Entertainment, LLC.

Black Sails is a period adventure show about a pirate captain trying to preserve his island of outcasts from governmental intervention. Set in the early 18th century during the Golden Age of Pirates, the show focuses on the pirate's quest to uncover the ultimate treasure to save his precious home. Not only are many characters in the show sexually fluid and in gay relationships, but they also embrace polyamory.

15. Killing Eve (2018-2022)

Killing Eve
Image Credit: BBC.

When a bored spy takes a job to hunt down a ruthless assassin, she re-discovers her passion for her career and grows obsessed with catching her nemesis. As the chase continues, the assassin grows equally consumed by her rival as the spy is by her. Their relationship grows more tense and sexual throughout the series.

16. Somebody Somewhere (2022-)

Somebody Somewhere
Image Credit: Duplass Brothers Productions.

Somebody Somewhere is a hilarious drama series about a woman who returns to her hometown in Kansas to care for her ailing sister. After her sister passes away, the woman goes through a crisis as she attempts to find community in the place she grew up. The woman's best friend in town is a gay man who refuses to conform to the harsh standards of conservative America.

17. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (2020)

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
Image Credit: Netflix.

When a giant mutant monkey attacks her underground burrow, a twelve-year-old girl named Kipo finds herself stranded on the surface of a planet overrun by mutant animals. As she searches for a way home, she encounters other humans and some lovable “mutes” and attempts to bridge the gap between the warring groups.

Kipo's close friend, Benson, comes out as gay in the middle of season one and soon develops an adorable relationship with another boy.

18. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-2021)

Brooklyn Nine Nine
Image Credit: NBC Universal.

This hysterical sitcom follows the daily lives of the officers who work at the police force in Brooklyn. It's about an easygoing and confident cop whose ego takes a check when he gets a new no-nonsense commanding officer and a fellow cop in the squad's ambitions make her a worthy rival.

The force's captain, Ray, is a proud and openly gay man in a loving relationship.

19. Modern Family (2009-2020)

Modern Family
Image Credit: American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Modern Family is an iconic mockumentary-style sitcom about a multicultural family that contends with disobedient kids, cultural differences, bullying, and other vital and amusing issues. Out of the three little families that comprise the extended family, one is a gay couple with a young adopted daughter. Viewers can watch the authentic stories of two queer men building their life together in the modern world.

20. Godless (2017)

Image Credit: Casey Silver Productions, Extension 765, Flitcraft, Ltd.

This Western drama series follows a group of outlaws run by a terrifying criminal with a revenge mission against a former gang member who betrayed him. When they reach the lawless town he's hiding in, the inhabitants put up a fight to protect the betrayer.

The unofficial leader of the outlaw village is a powerful woman who grows close to a schoolteacher in town, and the two begin a subtle and powerful relationship before the audience's eyes.

21. Only Murders in the Building (2021-)

Only Murders in the Building Martin Short Steve Martin Selena Gomez
Image Credit: Hulu.

When a young man mysteriously dies in an upscale New York City apartment building, the police believe he took his own life. But three building residents form an unlikely friendship when they investigate the death independently and find evidence of murder. The three begin their true crime podcast searching for the truth behind police's backs.

Each season features a new murder in the building that the friends must solve before it's too late. In season two, one of the friends, an artist named Mabel, meets a mysterious and posh artist, and the two fall for each other. But is this new lover hiding something?

22. The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

The Haunting of Bly Manor
Image Credit: Intrepid Pictures, Amblin Television, Paramount Television Studios.

This horror miniseries is about a young woman in the 1980s who takes a job as an au pair after she loses her fiance in a tragic accident. She cares for two eerie children at the manor and finds company in a mysterious housekeeper and a kind gardener. As she faces the horrors the mansion unleashes over the show, she begins a beautiful, healing romance with the gardener and learns to embrace her homosexuality.

23. Dead to Me (2019-2022)

Dead to Me TV series
Image Credit: Gloria Sanchez Productions.

Dead to Me is a dark comedy series about two women who meet at a support group and begin a friendship despite their opposite personalities. Both women grieve the loss of their dead partners, but one hides a sinister secret. The queer storyline in Dead to Me is casual. It displays that queerness is a normal part of life but not a person's entire identity.

24. She Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-2020)

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power TV Series
Image Credit: Netflix.

When a teenage orphan warrior learns the organization that raised her is actually evil and preparing to conquer the planet, she also discovers she's a powerful princess with magic that can save the world. As she and her new friends fight the Horde, the princess' ex-best friend grows vengeful and will stop at nothing to take the princess down.

She Ra and the Princesses of Power isn't a show about queer romance, but LGBTQ+ love is essential to the series. Not only are many minor characters in queer relationships, but the tense interactions between the protagonist and antagonist make viewers wonder if they will fall in love.

25. Cruel Summer (2021-)

Cruel Summer
Image Credit: Entertainment One, Iron Ocean Productions.

Cruel Summer is a dark mystery anthology series that follows a different group of teenagers each season as they attempt to reveal others' secrets and cover up their own. At the end of season one, a big plot twist reveals many things: One is that Mallory, a high school outcast who felt rejected after her best friend abandoned her to be popular, is bisexual. But you'll have to watch the series to learn more.