This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting our favorite romantic pairings from TV shows. These can come from any show, past or present, and we’ve limited ourselves to canon ‘ships, which means that while we all have a few pairs we desperately wish would’ve gotten together during the course of their respective shows, we’re only including couples who have actually been, well… couples.
(Note: Brienne and Tormund don’t even qualify for this post according to the above criteria. We just really, really like that image.)
Join us in the comments or on your own blog–we’ve even provided a graphic for you, which you can either save to your own space or link from tinypic using the following HTML code: <a href=”http://avengingforce.com”><img src=”http://i59.tinypic.com/2d9318w.jpg”><*/a> Just remove the asterisks, and you’re all set!
This one was really difficult for me, because it turns out that while I rarely watch a show for the ‘ships, I still have strong affection for at least one pairing on pretty much every show I watch. Not only do I second a lot of the picks from Sarah and Teija’s lists, but I also have a bunch of additional pairings I love, but just not quiiiiiite enough to crack my top five. Honorable mentions include Zoe/Wade from Hart of Dixie, Damon/Elena from The Vampire Diaries, The Doctor/Rose AND Amy/Rory from Doctor Who, Jack/Rebecca AND Beth/Randall from This is Us, Sydney/Vaughn from Alias, Maria/Michael from Roswell, and a whole host of others.
5. Jane and Michael, Jane the Virgin
I spent most of the first season of Jane the Virgin waffling about which of Jane’s two suitors was truly best for her, but once I decided on Michael, my opinion was cast in stone. I love Rafael, but I will always prefer him as Jane’s best friend and co-parent rather than her romantic partner. Meanwhile, Michael always understood exactly who Jane was and loved her for it, and only seemed to become more perfect for her the longer they were together. When he learned Spanish for his wedding vows, I was a complete goner. This show has always been a roller coaster of unpredictability, so who knows what the final season holds, but at this point, I don’t think there’s anything it could do to convince me that these two aren’t MFEO.
4. Charlie and Claire, LOST
I realize this may be a weird pick to make my top five, since they weren’t actually together-together for all that long on the show, but ever since LOST first began airing, I was utterly smitten by their sweet, quiet courtship. Their romance was never flashy, and tragically never got to mature, but they made the most of the time they had together, and it was evident in their looks and actions just how much they cared for one another. I know LOST is a polarizing show, and there are a lot of strong opinions about how it ended, but for me, getting to see these two finally reunited was one of the most satisfying and emotionally resonant moments of television I’ve ever experienced.
3. Coach and Tami, Friday Night Lights
Television isn’t exactly known for its depiction of healthy, mutually supportive, stable marriages. Marital trouble makes for easy conflict, and it’s unfortunately common on TV shows to see formerly strong couples driven apart by all sorts of drama. That’s one of the reasons why the relationship between Coach Taylor and his wife Tami was so refreshing. The Taylors started the series in a strong, loving marriage, and although they went through a variety of sometimes significant struggles throughout the course of the show, it was always clear that these two were in it for the long haul. Their relationship showed that while a lasting marriage does indeed need love, it also takes a lot of work, and that the necessity of one doesn’t preclude the importance of the other.
2. Chuck and Sarah, Chuck
What begins as a zany action series about a bumbling nerd who accidentally becomes a government superweapon and the spy assigned to protect him rapidly morphed into a sweet, slow-burn romance that only improved as the series progressed. Chuck and Sarah’s relationship may have started off professional, but by the final season, they’d fallen in love and gotten married, and watching their mutual affection and respect for one another grow from a tiny spark into a deep and loving relationship was a genuine pleasure. Sure, the show ended in a frustrating place, but I’m not going to let the last couple episodes stand in the way of my ability to appreciate such a lovely, joyful pairing.
1. Jackson and April, Grey’s Anatomy
Okay, hear me out. I know these two aren’t together anymore. I know the show would have us believe that door is closed. But the thing is… I just don’t buy it. Despite the show’s earnest attempts to pair them up with other people, neither of them has ever looked at anyone the way they look at each other. Despite the significant traumas they’ve faced, both together and apart, they understand each other and care about one other with a love that burns so bright, all others dim in comparison. They are one another’s Person, period, and until Grey’s Anatomy ends (or the eventual heat death of the universe, whichever comes first), I will cling to my stubborn belief that these two will eventually find their way back to one another. And even if it does end with them still apart… I’ll probably still believe it.
When it comes to tv shows, I am a character viewer through and through. If I am invested in the characters on a show I will follow them through any zigs, zags, and wacky surprises the plot may have in store for me (looking at you, LOST). Which means that when characters I love find a relationship that just fits, I go all in on ‘shipping them. And since I watch a lot of tv, this was a hard list for me to narrow down. Luckily, Lauren and Teija came to the rescue and picked a few couples I absolutely adore (Chuck/Sarah, Logan/Veronica, and Leslie/Ben), but a few others didn’t quote make the cut. So honorable mentions go to: Eleanor/Chidi from The Good Place, Sun/Jin from LOST, Beth/Randall AND Jack/Rebecca from This is Us, Helo/Sharon from Battlestar Galactica, and Zoe/Wash from Firefly.
5. Parker and Alec Hardison, Leverage
At first glance you would think that Leverage, a show that focuses on heists and cons, would be solely plot driven instead of deep diving into character development. Thankfully, that’s far from the truth. The show takes its time in developing a group of people that go from complete strangers who don’t trust each other to an unlikely outlaw family, stealing from the rich and helping the poor and swindled. And the best part of that development is the slow development of Parker and Hardison into an incredibly adorable and supportive couple. Parker is a thief, with no family to speak of, and a rather limited understanding of social norms, emotions, and, well, people. But Hardison gets her. He loves her and appreciates her exactly as she is, without trying to change her. They fit together in a weird way that makes you wonder how they weren’t a couple all along.
4. Stiles Stilinski and Lydia Martin, Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf is simply not a good show. It’s an overly dramatic, completely ridiculous, over the top supernatural teen drama and honestly, I just can’t recommend that anyone watch it. Yet I watched all six seasons of werewolves and banshees and hunters. I willing watched them bring in a kitsune and mostly tolerated it when they added were-coyotes and chimeras to the show’s mythology. And the reason I subjected myself to six seasons of this? Stiles and Lydia. This was a couple who felt so improbable at the beginning: Lydia, the gorgeous popular redhead who didn’t know he existed, and Stiles, the nerdy, clumsy second-string lacrosse player with a crush. Yet, I was convinced that these two would eventually get together and I was determined to see it through to the very end. And honestly? It was worth it.
3. Don Keefer and Sloan Sabbith, The Newsroom
This was a pairing that I shipped almost from the first moment that these two characters first interacted. Though, with Don in a committed (albeit unhealthy) relationship and Sloan focused on her career, I never imagined that they would actually end up together. Don and Sloan are equals, they push each other and support each other. While they never miss a moment to make fun of each other, they will always stand up and defend the other to anyone else. The Newsroom is a short show (only 25 episodes over three seasons) and the unique relationship that forms between these two feels both slow and fast. It’s not quite the friends-to-lovers trope, but it’s not quite antagonists-to-lovers either. It exists in its own perfect category.
2. Alex Karev and Jo (Wilson) Karev, Grey’s Anatomy
Alex Karev starts off on Grey’s Anatomy as a jerky, douchey guy who doesn’t really seem to care about anyone. But skip forward a few seasons and surprisingly enough, he is one of my absolute favorite characters. Alex’s character arc on the show has been amazing, but his romantic history never seemed to fit quite right. While he and Izzie were good together, it always felt like something was missing. It wasn’t until Jo Wilson showed up, with a backstory to rival his, a smart mouth, and a boatload of talent, that everything seemed to fall into place. For the first time on the show, Alex put friendship first, spending time with Jo on a platonic level, getting to know her and building a solid foundation. While it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows from the time they got together, these two worked hard to build a relationship built on mutual trust, respect, and attraction.
1. Josh Lyman and Donna Moss, The West Wing
I have never ‘shipped a couple with quite the intensity that I ‘ship Josh and Donna. It’s an incredibly slow burn of a relationship, taking the entirety of the show’s seven seasons to come to fruition, but I was willing to wait (but honestly, not very patiently). Donna may spend most of the show as Josh’s assistant, but she is never less than his equal. She goes toe to toe with him on numerous occasions, usually winning the battle she’s fighting. And Josh knows that he is a better man because she is in his life. While these two kept things mostly professional at work, never wanting to cross that line between boss and assistant, there were plenty of moments (Donna at his side after the shooting, Josh dropping everything to fly to Germany, NOT STOPPING FOR RED LIGHTS) that more than hinted that these two had feelings for each other that went beyond coworkers. But it wasn’t until they were away from the White House, in new jobs, working side by side on a different presidential campaign that the kiss I had waited seven seasons to see.
The shows I love best are shows that work hard to develop complex and compelling characters. The friendships and relationships between beloved characters are honestly what make or break a show for me. I will watch a lot of crap TV if I’ve gotten attached to the people. Funnily enough, while there have been a lot (a lot) of memorable relationships on TV shows that I have watched and loved, I didn’t agonize for too long when it came time to pick a top five. The relationships I’ve chosen are the ones that seem so good and right that I cannot picture those characters paired off with anyone else from their canon. I even have a few honorable mentions beyond the five I chose (Sam/Kara from Battlestar Galactica, Luke/Lorelai from Gilmore Girls, and Steve/Susan from Coupling), and Sarah and Lauren picked quite a few that I might have otherwise been pained to leave off my own list (see above for Josh/Donna, Jane/Michael, Parker/Hardison, and Jackson/April).
5. Monica and Chandler, Friends
Friends is best known, ‘shipping wise, for Ross and Rachel, but I’ve always thought the two of them are about as good for each other as libraries and fire. Meanwhile, right alongside them is this pairing, with chemistry that was evident well before the writers opted to pair them together. Rather than being built on antagonism and jealousy, it’s built on friendship and genuine compatibility. Chandler’s laid-back attitude is a perfect foil for Monica’s neurotic tendencies. Most importantly, they support one another through difficulties, like when Chandler realized he wanted to change his career path and when they had trouble starting a family of their own. It’s this love and trust that really tells you this is a pairing in for the long haul.
4. Jed and Abbey Bartlet, The West Wing
The Bartlets are one of those TV couples whose relationship is thoroughly established when you encounter it for the first time, so you get to meet them when they’re already wildly comfortable with each other and the banter is that comfortable, life partners kind of banter that only comes with time. They are a true team. While they occasionally do fight, their fights are for damned good reasons stemming from disagreements about how to manage Jed’s multiple sclerosis while in office or him choosing to run for a second term without having the conversation with her first. And at the end of the day, their marriage is more important than all of that. The depth of their feelings for one another is evident from the first time you witness their marriage, and it never wanes. While it’s one of the quieter pairings on The West Wing, it is also one of its foundations.
3. Veronica and Logan, Veronica Mars
There is simply no other pairing on this show that has ever come even a fraction as close to having the kind of chemistry that these two had from their first moment on screen together. Once they started working together and getting past the pain of losing Lilly Kane, it was only a matter of time. From there on, even when they had their differences, they remained drawn to one another. It’s electric. They understand each others’ sharp edges and they see past each others’ fronts. There’s just no other pairing that makes any sense for Veronica.
2. John Crichton and Aeryn Sun, Farscape
This pairing is so epic that it’s the only one ever seriously considered for either of these characters for the entire run of the show. From the moment Aeryn first kicks John’s ass on Moya, he is intrigued, and by the time you as a fan have seen through the season 1 episode, “The Locket,” you’re entirely on board and nothing will sway you. There is no other choice. You are beyond hope. While Aeryn has to learn to loosen up on her rigid Sebacean tendencies, John’s constant presence and influence on her helps her learn that she can be more than a militaristic pawn in someone else’s army. That their relationship develops into what it does is no mystery; that it survives such trials as separation, brainwashing, and each of them dying more than once is proof that this relationship is more powerful than anything the universe could throw at them.
1. Ben and Leslie, Parks and Recreation
This pairing came out of nowhere and punched me in the face with how amazing it is. What really pleases me about it is that not only are they adorable and chock full of chemistry, they’re also unceasingly supportive of one another. Leslie Knope deserves no less than a man that would be there to support her political ambitions, and she is the type of woman who would absolutely be there to support his, complete with binders and a 10-year plan. Each of them being nerds of totally different stripes comes together as a perfect nerdy pairing where even if she may not understand The Cones of Dunshire, she’s going to be excited to help him get it done. There’s nothing I don’t like about this pair of characters. There’s nothing the folks behind Parks and Recreation could have done differently. I love them and I like them.