The Most Intriguing LGBT Characters of 2015

There was a notable increase in the quantity of LGBT characters appearing in entertainment media in the past year – from TV and film to comics and games – but not all of these were particularly groundbreaking or original. There were a few, however, who audiences and critics noticed for telling rare or never-before-seen stories.

Here are some of the (mostly) new LGBT characters in 2015 that stood out from the crowd in television, film, documentary, video games and comics. Check out our 2014 list here.

This spring, the long running daily drama The Bold and The Beautiful introduced a new storyline which included established character Maya Avant (Karla Mosley) disclosing that she is a transgender woman. In a special episode that guest starred trans models Carmen Carrera and Isis King, Maya's boyfriend Rick Forrester proposed. The two were then married in a television first, with Maya's friend Nick, a trans character played by a trans actor Scott Turner Schofield, performing the ceremony in front of friends and family. The Bold and The Beautiful airs in over 100 countries with more than 35 million people watching every day, and those viewers are learning about trans lives through Maya and Nick who are set to continue as regular and recurring characters respectively.

The Starz' drama Black Sails focused on the backstory of series lead Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens) in the most recent season, including the reveal that Flint was previously in love with a man. Audiences learned that prior to becoming a pirate, Flint was an officer in the British Navy where he worked alongside the aristocrat Lord Thomas Hamilton. As the two worked on a plan to retake the Bahamas from pirate control, they fell in love. Sadly, their ideas angered several members of the British government including Thomas' father. In retribution, he had Thomas committed to an asylum and revoked Flint's naval commission, forcing Flint and Thomas' wife Miranda to flee the country. Season three of Black Sails premieres January 23 and will continue to follow Flint as he sets out to finish Thomas' plan; the series has already received a fourth season pick up.

ABC Family's (soon to be Freeform's) The Fosters is the network's most LGBT-inclusive series with seven queer characters, including the youngest member of the Adams-Foster clan, Jude (Hayden Byerly), and his boyfriend Connor (Gavin MacIntosh). The two broke new TV ground when they shared a kiss in an episode this spring. In subsequent episodes the boys talked about labels and finding community, dealing with family, coming out and more. While television has steadily become more inclusive of LGBT adults, teens and young adults have remained relatively rare. Taking the audience along on Jude's journey has allowed LGBT youth to recognize themselves as a valid part of the real world, while also fostering acceptance in their peer groups. The Fosters returns January 25, check out a sneak peek below.

In November, Marvel's Jessica Jones premiered to critical acclaim with audiences excited for a female-led superhero series. The series is the second of four created by Marvel and Netflix which will eventually lead to a crossover miniseries. Jessica Jones follows the titular former superhero, who possesses super strength and jumping abilities, as she tries to get her life back in order after being under the mind control of the notorious villain Kilgrave. Jones opens a PI business and is frequently hired by high powered lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) to get answers when no one else can. As the season unfolds, viewers get to know Jeri and learn that she is in the middle of a messy divorce from her wife Wendy and in a relationship with her secretary Pam. Jeri, who it is worth noting was changed to a female role for the series, is the type of character we don't often see women getting to play. She is cunning, confident, assertive, will prioritize what's best for herself over others and acts as a perfect contrast to Jessica who truly wants to help people even if her methods are sometimes illegal or otherwise questionable. Marvel's Jessica Jones is yet to be renewed, but we hope to see more of Jeri.

While animated programming has been slow to reflect the diversity seen in other genres, this year cartoons took a huge step forward, thanks in large part to Cartoon Network's hit Steven Universe. It was revealed that alien superhero Garnet is actually the fused physical form of two female Gem beings who are in love. The show has also hinted at romantic feelings between Gems Pearl and Rose Quartz, as well as Peridot and Amethyst. Steven Universe returns with a "Steven Bomb" – new episodes every day for five days – starting January 4 with an episode which includes Garnet sharing with Steven the story of how she became a Crystal Gem.

Over the summer Netflix premiered the new sci-fi drama Sense8, co-created by Lana and Andy Wachowski. The series follows eight strangers around the world who suddenly learn that they have a mysterious connection which allows them to access each other's experiences, skills, and emotions. The pressure is on to find answers as they are being hunted down by a mysterious organization that is determined to silence them. The sensate group includes hacker and blogger Nomi (Jamie Clayton) who happens to be a trans woman, and closeted Mexican telenovela and film star Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre). Nomi's girlfriend Amanita (Freema Agyeman) is brought in on the secret and works to help the group find answers, while Lito struggles to hold on to his boyfriend Hernando (Alfonso Herrera). Sense8 is currently filming a second season to premiere on Netflix in 2016.

The ABC hit How to Get Away with Murder continued to feature dynamic same-sex couples in the show's second season. In the season two premiere, the show's lead character Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) was revealed to have had a romantic past with Eve (Famke Janssen), a friend from law school. The disclosure of Annalise's bisexuality was treated as a non-issue, encouraging viewers to simply accept it as an unremarkable fact. In a groundbreaking story on the series' spring finale, tech wiz Oliver Hampton (Conrad Ricamora) was diagnosed as HIV-positive and subsequent episodes have included he and his boyfriend Connor (Jack Falahee) discussing the HIV prevention medication PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and establishing guidelines for their romantic relationship. How to Get Away with Murder returns February 11.

Out actress Lily Tomlin has earned rave reviews for her role as Elle Reid in Grandma, her first leading film role in 27 years. Elle is a lesbian poet coping with the death of her long-term partner. As she suddenly ends a four-month relationship with a younger woman, she receives a visit from her 18 year-old granddaughter Sage who has found out she is pregnant and needs money for an abortion. The two embark on a road trip to come up with the money, including a visit to Elle's close friend and tattoo artist, Deathy, played by Laverne Cox. Elle is hilariously acerbic and misanthropic, but still feels very real and relatable. Tomlin was nominated for a Golden Globe in Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for her work as Elle.

Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt (with screen adaptation by out writer Phyllis Nagy), Carol explores lesbian sub-culture of the 1950s through the relationship between Carol (Cate Blanchett) and shop girl Therese (Rooney Mara). Blanchett and Mara capture the emotional clarity of first love, but also the loneliness of not being allowed to be out about their love. With Carol in the middle of a messy separation and custody battle with her affluent husband, and Therese working as a department store clerk with a passion for photography, their apparent differences in class and background present an interesting backdrop against which their love blooms. Carol, which has picked up several awards nominations, is available in theaters now.

The documentary Kumu Hina follows Hina Wong-Kalu, a transgender native Hawaiian teacher and cultural icon for Hawaii's mahu (people who embody both a female and male spirit). As Hina plans the school's final all-boy hula performance, she meets mahu sixth-grader Ho'onanani with whom she bonds, helping Ho'onanani navigate the mixed reactions of their friends and family. Over the course of the film, the audience comes to understand the power of culture and tradition as Ho'onanani builds a sense of pride and acceptance through honoring their roots.

The critically acclaimed indie video game Life is Strange has a slow build to a heart wrenching finale in five episodes released throughout the year. You play as teenage aspiring photographer Maxine Caulfield who learns she has the power to rewind time after her best friend Chloe is killed. Each episode has the player choosing whether to use Max's powers to help people or not, and then playing through the ripple effects of changing one small thing. During the series, Max and Chloe work to investigate the disappearance of a local girl, Rachel, as it becomes clear that Chloe had feelings for her. Players also have the option to romance either Chloe or Max's classmate Warren. Life is Strange has topped several year-end lists and sold over one million copies across PC, PlayStation, and Xbox markets.

The Boom! Studios title The Lumberjanes, about a group of girls spending the summer at a camp full of supernatural mysteries ,made our intriguing characters list last year for the relationship between young campers Molly and Mal. But this year the comic revealed that Jo, another member of the small band of campers, is transgender. Jo, who is notably a trans girl of color with two dads, is a kid genius and the expert on what it means to be a Lumberjane. In an issue earlier this year she teamed up with Barney, a Scouting Lad, to solve a mystery and spoke with him about seeing her younger self in him as he confided that he doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere. While the book follows characters who are teens and young people, Lumberjanes has found popularity with audiences of all ages and it was announced this year that Fox will create a live action film adaptation.

Who were your favorite new LGBT characters of 2015? Let us know below.