The name Lexa has long been just a name. It’s become synonymous with the one character that many of us picture whenever we see those letters together. It’s the name that defined a movement. One that you can’t not think about when you talk about LGBTQ representation. Lexa’s name didn’t just take over Twitter trends; it dominated articles, became the topic of conversation in writer’s rooms and even had a convention named after it.
But just in case you’re new here, I am of course referring to Lexa from The 100.
When Lexa first appeared on the show back in 2014, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what would have followed. Certainly not Alycia Debnham Carey who portrayed her so magnificently, not the writers and not even the fans who quickly became besotted by her.
It was clear from the offset that she was a character like no other. Initially, she had both a sternness and a stubbornness that seemed second nature to her position as Commander. She had a duty to perform for her people, and nobody was going to get in the way of that. Until that is, Clarke came along.
As she so iconically claimed, Lexa was more than capable of separating feelings from duty. She was well-aware of her role, but despite being made to believe that she was not allowed to experience love, she seemed to yearn for it.
She first truly let her walls down with Clarke when she confessed of a previous loss and love; Costia. When Costia was ruthlessly killed, Lexa detached herself from emotion to avoid being seen as weak. But perhaps, it was to avoid being hurt in the same way again. This confession to Clarke was pivotal, as it quickly became clear that Lexa was not strong enough to resist her feelings for Clarke.
After that moment, ‘Clexa’ quickly felt inevitable. Clarke saw a vulnerability to Lexa that she didn’t know was there. Suddenly she went from someone who appeared to be a fairly emotionless authority, to a person that she could build her most intense connection with. Regardless of her being a Grounder, Clarke saw the good in her that no-one else could. Perhaps this is because around everyone else Lexa’s walls remained high, but Clarke happened to be the only one who could tear them down.
In such a short frame of time, Lexa’s character developed significantly. I truly believe she always had the capability to change the Grounders and unite the Clans in the way that she did, however it’s clear that Clarke brought that ability out in her.
Clarke and Lexa’s relationship was one for the ages. The tension building up to their first kiss seemed pretty apparent to all of us watching, but it caught Clarke off guard completely. The moments that followed only led to them growing closer and closer and right up until the Season 2 finale, it really seemed like things were falling together for them perfectly.
When Lexa betrayed Clarke at Mount Weather, to some (and Clarke especially), it seemed like it had un-done all the progress that had been made up to that point. Really though, it just showed the internal conflict that Lexa was still fighting. On the one hand were her feelings for Clarke and her desire to be better, but on the other was the need to protect her people. If all her life she had been told that her feelings were insignificant, and if upon kissing Clarke she’d been somewhat rejected, it’s no wonder she made that decision.
The real example of Lexa’s character came next, in Season 3. There are multiple moments that lead up to it, but the scene in which Lexa swears fealty to Clarke solidifies their reliance. This is perhaps one of their most important moments together and one that acts as a real turning point for Lexa’s character.
For the first time Lexa showed that she was capable of putting her feelings first, for there was no one else that the commander would have knelt down to.
Clarke soon forgave Lexa and they eased back into their bond like it was never broken, which then seemed to hold more power than ever. In all instances, they gravitated towards each other like a force that couldn’t be stopped.
Eventually in episode 7 when Clarke must leave Polis, they share an intimate goodbye. One of my favourite lines they share is in this moment, when they say:
“Maybe somebody, you and I will owe nothing more to our people.”
“I hope so.”
All they wanted in the end was each other, but neither could turn their back on their people. Caught in feelings neither could resist, and not knowing when they would meet again, they shared the most intimate kiss The 100 ever saw. Leading to them finally consummating their relationship, we got a short but beautiful glimpse into the life that they both deserved to have together.
What followed though, changed everything.
Talking about the way in which Lexa died still feels difficult even after all the years that have passed. What often feels most frustrating is how Lexa has long been remembered for her death, and not for the character that lived until that moment. So many articles have been written about the way she died, and I don’t think any of us need to go through that again here.
But what I will touch on is the impact of her death. Lexa is one of the best LGBTQ+ characters that has been on TV. Ever. Naturally, fans were going to be upset when she was killed. But more than anything, it was the circumstances in which it happened. Playing into the Bury Your Gays trope and recycling the narrative that queer characters cannot have a happy ending was extremely harmful, and nobody was going to stand for it.
Both Lexa and LGBTQ+ fans deserved better than what they were given. Representation is barely there in the first place so when those characters get killed off, it feels like such a step backwards.
Saying that, Lexa’s death did lead to a step forwards.
This was not something that just impacted a few people, her loss was felt worldwide. You couldn’t have been on Twitter at the time and not seen a trend that had something to do with her. Lexa’s death ignited a movement across LGBTQ+ fans that urged those who would come next to do better. Thankfully, many did listen.
Representation has come along way since Lexa yet it still has so far to go. Whilst losing her was incomprehensible, the fans have always made sure that her legacy lives on. If it hadn’t have been for Lexa, I imagine we wouldn’t have many of the LGBTQ+ characters that we have today.
Lexa didn’t just have an impact on the outside world when we lost her either; she continued to play a crucial part in Clarke’s story long after.
If it wasn’t already apparent that Lexa was Clarke’s one great love, The 100 finale made sure that everyone knew. The only reason Clarke was able to see Lexa was because of that love. Whilst this was not the ending any of us would have preferred for the two of them, having this as the final reminder of their relationship felt powerful.
Lexa will be remembered always and forever.