Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. After a brief hiatus, I’m back with our first ever BROTP: Nelson and Murdock. Note: this article will not contain spoilers for Daredevil season 3!
Who Are Nelson And Murdock?
Nelson and Murdock refer to Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson from the Marvel Netflix series Daredevil and The Defenders. I’m sure they have an actual ship name somewhere, but I like Nelson and Murdock so that’s what I’m going with. Please note that this article will not refer to season 3 of Daredevil.
Matt Murdock is the protagonist and titular vigilante of Marvel’s Daredevil. As a child, Matt was blinded in an accident that also exposed him to strange chemicals. The chemicals enhanced his other senses to the extreme, leaving him with “sight” of a sort.
When his father died, Matt was sent to an orphanage where he caught the attention of Stick. Stick taught Matt martial arts and to utilize his new senses, but was disappointed in his inability to make Matt into a soldier. After Stick left, Matt was alone for a long time. Until, in law school, he found a friend in Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. After graduation, the two started their own firm.
Matt had a good thing going at Nelson and Murdock, but found himself on the streets at night, fighting crime in a mask. He soon gets caught up fighting the criminal overlord of Hell’s Kitchen, Wilson Fisk. His two lives start to intersect and Matt struggles to balance the lawyer and the vigilante. Together with Foggy and Karen Page, Matt is able to take down Fisk.
Crime is never over though, and so Matt continues going out as Daredevil. When violent vigilante Frank Castle comes to New York, Matt is faced with a tough fight. At the same time, his ex-girlfriend Elektra Natchios comes to town and complicates things further. Matt begins losing control of his life and ends up losing his friends. Nelson and Murdock close down.
In The Defenders, Matt is doing pro-bono work and has retired Daredevil after losing Elektra. However, he finds himself caught up in a giant conspiracy, facing a resurrected Elektra, and teaming up with other vigilantes to save New York. Sadly, in the process, Matt loses his actual life… or so it seems.
Franklin “Foggy” Nelson met Matt Murdock at Columbia University where they were roommates. Foggy was also from Hell’s Kitchen and remembered hearing about Matt’s accident. The two became fast friends and bonded during their time at Columbia.
Upon graduating, the two found an internship at a major law firm together. However, Matt struggled with the ethical ramifications of their work and convinced Foggy to leave. Although Foggy was reluctant to leave a steady paycheck, he followed Matt and they opened Nelson and Murdock together.
Foggy and Matt take on the case of Karen Page who is embroiled in a large conspiracy. This gets them on the track of Wilson Fisk, but Foggy has no clue Matt is out fighting Fisk by night as well. He learns Matt’s secret after a brutal battle leaves Matt near death. Foggy is furious that Matt has lied to him throughout their entire friendship and they end up fighting.
However, Foggy is loyal and sees that Matt is only trying to do good. After they successfully take down Fisk, Foggy thinks things are going to get better, but he doesn’t take into account Matt’s dedication to vigilantism. This proves to be the breaking point for them when Matt leaves Foggy to defend Frank in court while he fights crime with Elektra. Foggy ends Nelson and Murdock and sets out on his own.
Foggy gets a job at Hogarth, Benowitz, and Chao thanks to his on-again, off-again girlfriend Marci and starts working with vigilantes. He successfully gets Luke Cage released from jail. When Hogarth asks him to keep an eye on Jessica Jones, he asks Matt for help. Foggy later regrets getting Matt involved and for giving Matt his suit, blaming himself for Matt’s “death.” Foggy sincerely mourns his best friend.
Why Is Nelson and Murdock BROTP?
A BROTP, for the uninitiated, is a pair that you don’t ship romantically but love as a platonic duo. Nelson and Murdock, for me, are one of the best BROTPs out there. Their friendship defines both of them and really adds something special to Daredevil.
Matt has romantic flings, of course, but it’s the relationship with Foggy that really defines him, in my opinion. Daredevil shows that this relationship is vitally important to both of them and it’s one of the best male friendships in fandom. While I know that some people do ship them romantically, for me, I love the thought of two men being emotionally connected without it being romantic.
“Nelson V. Murdock”
The Nelson and Murdock relationship is defined by the episode “Nelson v. Murdock,” which shows the aftermath of Foggy discovering Matt’s secret. In the previous episode, Matt was nearly killed in a fight and collapses in his apartment. Foggy discovers him there and is dismayed to learn his best friend is the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
What follows is a masterpiece of cinema. The episode intersperses flashbacks of Matt and Foggy at school with their current argument over the truth Foggy has discovered. It shows the progression of their relationship and does a masterful job contrasting their start with where they are now.
We see how close Matt and Foggy became in school. Matt appreciates that Foggy doesn’t tiptoe around his blindness, while Foggy respects and admires Matt. They bond over classes and their shared origins in Hell’s Kitchen. By the time they get close to graduation, they have plans to stick together as Nelson and Murdock, avocados at law.
In contrast, their argument sees the potential end of Nelson and Murdock. Foggy can’t believe that Matt has been lying to him this entire time and sees Matt’s abilities (and especially his failure to disclose them) as a breach of privacy. Matt, for his part, wanted to keep Foggy out of it and refuses to stop doing what he does.
“Nelson v. Murdock” is one of the best episodes of television, period. The back and forth between the two is iconic and their fight feels real. Although they get back together, it really feels like this might be the end. Neither party is in the wrong, but seeing them fight is heartbreaking and you just want it to end. It’s a relief when they find a resolution.
Two Good Guys
Matt and Foggy are also great because, despite their wildly different approaches to life, they are both just two good people trying to do right in the world. Matt does this by fighting crime as a vigilante while Foggy tries to use the law to help good people. This dichotomy is what makes Nelson and Murdock work.
Both Matt and Foggy genuinely care about other people and about making the world a better place. That’s why they started Nelson and Murdock in the first place. Although Matt was the one who pushed for it, Foggy isn’t far behind him. Foggy is always there for their clients and wants to help them as best he can.
Although the two clash over Matt’s identity as Daredevil, it’s not because Foggy doesn’t believe in fighting crime. He just thinks that Matt is going about this the wrong way. He points out that they could both get disbarred for Matt’s actions, which would prevent them from helping people. Foggy also calls Matt out on his violence, providing a sounding board that Matt desperately needs.
When Foggy leaves Nelson and Murdock, it’s not so he can be a corporate hotshot. Instead, he leaves because he cares too much. He won’t watch Matt hurt himself anymore. Even after that, he still tries to be supportive. When Matt “retires” as Daredevil, Foggy tries to support him and help him out as best he can.
Nelson and Murdock also beautifully dismantles toxic masculinity and the way that male friendships are “supposed” to work. Matt and Foggy feel very strongly about each other. They are family and they never hesitate to express that. Their friendship proves that men can be emotional, supportive, loving, and still manly. It’s beautiful to watch.
What’s Next For Nelson And Murdock?
Matt and Foggy will reunite in Daredevil season 3. It’s sure to be an interesting reunion. At the end of The Defenders, Foggy is mourning his supposedly dead best friend and blaming himself for said friend’s demise. Matt, for his part, is not dead but has been terribly injured. The trailers for season 3 also hint that Matt is headed down a darker path.
Season 3 will be an interesting point for Nelson and Murdock. They nearly broke apart in season 1 of Daredevil and then finally split in season 2. But they couldn’t truly stay apart. Although they ended their professional partnership and kept a distance between themselves, they still cared and expressed that caring.
Now they must deal with the ramifications of their actions. How will Foggy handle the reveal that Matt is not, in fact, dead? How will Matt deal with Foggy’s guilt over aiding him in his reckless pursuit of justice? Will they be able to reconcile? I’d love nothing more than to see the two return to their season 1 closeness. I think they both need it. They need each other.
Is Nelson and Murdock Canon?
Well, sort of? As a romantic pairing, definitely not. As a BROTP, they’re “on-again, off-again” I’d say. They were definitely close friends — a friendship that more closely resembled family. Nelson and Murdock were a pair, a package deal. And then they weren’t.
Sadly, if we go with the end of The Defenders as current canon, I’d have to say that while Nelson and Murdock was once a canon BROTP, they are no longer so. They have split and lost that essential closeness. Both are suffering for it, but it’s not clear if they’ll be able to return to that relationship.
I still have hope, though. I believe that their friendship was an essential part of both their identities. Without the other, each has lost something special. I think that they will find a way back to each other because they need each other. They are Nelson and Murdock – and they need to get back to that.