A definitive guide to the best and worst pansexual characters in pop culture

A graphic composite showing different pansexual characters from TV programmes - Klaus Hargeeves (L), David Rose and Ola Nyman (R) all superimposed in front of the pansexual Pride flag.

On Pansexual Pride day, we’re taking a look back at some of the most influential pansexual characters from across popular culture.

Over the past few years, LGBTQ+ representation has come on leaps and bounds in the world of entertainment. Although there is still a long way to go when it comes to positive representation of the LGBTQ+ community – with pansexuals remaining a hugely underrepresented demographic – there are a number of iconic characters that offer viewers with this sexual orientation a chance to see themselves reflected on screen.

While plenty of these characters have been celebrated for their depiction of pansexuality, which describes sexual attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity, many have also attracted their fair share of criticism when they miss the mark.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the most noteworthy pansexual characters to grace our screens in recent times. From the beloved Klaus Hargreeves of The Umbrella Academy to Schitt’s Creek‘s fan favourite David Rose, these characters have all sparked important conversations about representation.

Ola – Sex Education 

Let’s head to our favourite fictional school for our first character, Ola Nyman, played by Patricia Allison. 

Lily and Ola in Netflix' Sex Education. (Sam Taylor/Netflix)
Lily and Ola in Netflix’s Sex Education. (Sam Taylor/Netflix)

Through no fault of her own, Ola ends up caught up in Maeve and Otis’ romantic tension, but soon finds the special treatment she deserves. 

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After Ola and Otis split up, she falls for fellow student Lily (Tanya Reynolds) and the third season follows the highs and lows of their relationship.

“Ola is just the kind of character to me that you could never really put in a box,” Trish told Vogue. She really is the definition of pansexual, she will go based on the personality and who makes a laugh, and who catches her eye in that sparkly way”.

“I really like that we show that side of sexuality, because a lot of young people are trying to figure out what sort of box they go in – there’s other ways that you can put your sexuality into. Pansexuality is also something that’s never really been discussed properly before.”

Sadly, Ola will not be returning for season four of the Netflix show due to scheduling conflicts, so we’ll just have to contend with watching re-runs for the time being.

Rick Sanchez – Rick and Morty

Unlike Sex Education, a relatively new addition to the pop culture canon, many believe Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez is one of the older mainstream examples of pansexual representation. 

Rick Sanchez is confirmed pansexual in Rick and Morty. (Cartoon Network)
Rick Sanchez is confirmed pansexual in Rick and Morty. (Cartoon Network)

Creator and voice actor Justin Roiland confirmed Rick’s identity in 2015 during a Comic Con panel. 

Rick’s love life has been through a lot throughout the show, and although the character never explicitly comes out, their attraction to everyone is clear.

Rick is not the only LGBTQ+ character, with the show occasionally introducing other queer characters and plotlines over the years, such as confirming that Morty’s father Jerry is bisexual.

Ali – Big Mouth

Sticking with the world of animation, our next entry comes in the form of controversial pansexual character Ali (Ali Wong) from Big Mouth. Although her character vocally identifies as pansexual, when she is first introduced on the show, she disappointingly throws bisexuality under the bus

“Bisexuality is so binary,” she declares. “Being pansexual means my sexual preference isn’t limited by gender identity… It’s like, some of you borings like tacos, and some of you like burritos. 

Ali (L) makes a move on Jessi in Big Mouth. (Netflix)

“And if you’re bisexual, you like tacos and burritos. But I’m saying I like tacos and burritos, and I could be into a taco that was born a burrito, or a burrito that is transitioning into a taco, comprende? And honey, anything else on the fucking menu.”

The ill-advised speech was criticised by many for misrepresenting bisexuality and suggesting that trans and non-binary identities are exclusive, prompting the creators of the show to issue an apology.

“Any time we try to define something as complex as human sexuality, it’s super challenging, and this time we could have done better,” co-creator Andrew Goldberg wrote on Twitter.

“Thank you to the trans, pan, and bi communities for further opening our eyes to these important and complicated issues of representation.”

David Rose – Schitt’s Creek

One character who really came through for the pansexual community is queer darling David Rose (Dan Levy) from Schitt’s Creek.

The multi Emmy award-winning show has been praised by fans for its LGBTQ+ inclusivity and heartwarming plotlines – not least about David Rose’s sexuality. 

From figuring out his sexuality and coming out to marrying the love of his life, Patrick, there is much to love about David’s journey. 

Unlike Big Mouth, which fumbled the ball when explaining pansexuality, David’s analogy has become a favourite

“I do drink red wine,” David tells Stevie while they are shopping, “but I also drink white wine and I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé and a couple summers back, I tried a merlot that used to be a chardonnay which got a bit complicated.

“I like the wine and not the label.”

Speaking about his character’s sexuality, Levy said he had “never really seen” pansexual characters on screen before, and wanted to do justice to the character and the conversation. Hear hear!

Klaus Hargreeves – The Umbrella Academy 

Joining the ranks of excellent pansexual characters is Klaus Hargreeves (Robert Sheehan) from The Umbrella Academy

Klaus is a troubled addict who can communicate with the dead, and also happens to be gender non-conforming and pansexual. 

Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves. (Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix)
It’s complicated: Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy. (Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix)

Speaking with Digital Spy about Klaus, Sheehan said: “So it doesn’t matter, basically, is the point. It doesn’t matter who he’s attracted to. It’s a boy, it’s a girl, it’s a donkey, it’s a bus. All four perhaps, at once. But that would be an uncomfortable evening.”

The actor also expressed his happiness at the prospect that young LGBTQ+ people may feel “less uncomfortable” about their sexuality after seeing Klaus, describing his character as someone “who is very out there and very colourful and unashamed about the fact that he is pansexual, or whatever you want to call it.”

Deadpool – Deadpool

When it comes to the Marvel universe, it is optimistic to think that a blockbuster will execute LGBTQ+ representation well.

Everyone’s favourite pansexual – Deadpool. (Marvel/YouTube)

As fans continue to criticise Thor: Love and Thunder for its overhyped promotion of queer characters, it is no surprise that Marvel’s pansexual character Deadpool is somewhat controversial.

In the comics, there is no doubting that Deadpool is pansexual, although the comic creator Fabian Nicieza gave a baffling response when asked about Deadpool’s sexuality.

“I’ve been dogged with the DP sexuality questions for YEARS,” he tweeted. “It is a bit tiring. He is NO sex and ALL sexes. He is yours and everyone else’s.”

“He can be gay one minute, hetero the next, etc. ALL ARE VALID.”

Whereas Deadpool director Tim Miller confirmed the antihero as “pansexual”, adding “I want that quoted. Pansexual Deadpool”.

Although this is encouraging, within the film there is an animated scene where Deadpool helps a unicorn ejaculate, one that Ryan Reynolds himself was excited for.

Since pansexual people have had to fight against negative and harmful stereotypes around what is included within the definition, including bestiality, it is frustrating to see Marvel perpetuate these on the big screen.

Everyone in Sense8

Sense8 characters are all canon pansexual. (Murray Close/Netflix)
Sense8 characters are all canon pansexual. (Murray Close/Netflix)

If you are looking for pansexual representation galore, then look no further than Netflix’s very own sci-fi fantasy series Sense8.

The eight main characters, who are connected through a bond, all have various relationships with different people throughout the series.

And their pansexuality was confirmed during a wholesome Twitter exchange in which a fan asked Sense8 actor Brian Smith if his character, Will, was bisexual.

He replied: “Lana [Wachowski, co-creator] thinks all the characters are pansexual, I think that’s a great way of putting it.” And the characters certainly live up to the name.