One appealing factor for actors working on TV (besides that steady paycheck) is the opportunity to steer multi-dimensional characters trough dynamic narrative arcs…and those draaaaawn out protracted romances that can unfold over years. Here are 15 “will they or won’t they” TV couples that kept us glued to the screen season after season.
Rebecca and Josh Rachel Bloom Vincent Rodriguez III) – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
After running into a former summer camp flame Josh Chan, depressed New York City lawyer Rebecca Bunch trades in her flashy job to follow him to his hometown of West Covina, California. Now working in real estate law, Rebecca spends most of her time denying her love for Josh to her co-worker best friend while simultaneously trying to become part of his friend group, much to his current girlfriend’s chagrin.
Agents Mulder & Scully (David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson) – The X-Files This was one of the biggest “will they or won’t they” couples of the ’90s. Mulder carried a torch for Scully through most of the run of the show, and it took the jump to the big screen to finally get them together.
Ross and Rachel (David Schwimmer & Jennifer Aniston) – Friends Ross had crush on Rachel since high school, but never acted on it. They both suffered through failed relationships with other people, and sparks flew as they started to confide in each other. They were on-again, off-again through the show’s run, but they finally got back together in the finale.
Jim and Pam (John Krasinski & Jenna Fischer) – The Office An audience favorite from the beginning, Jim & Pam were less of a “will they or won’t they get together” and more of a “when will they finally hook up.” It took three seasons to get them together, and unlike a lot of TV couples, pairing them up didn’t ruin the show.
Luke and Lorelai Lauren Graham Scott Patterson) – Gilmore Girls
With sexual tension from the get-go, caffeine-fulled innkeeper Lorelai Gilmore and diner-owner Luke Danes traded witty banter and the occasional tender moment for several seasons before becoming Stars Hollow’s favorite couple in season five, then promptly breaking up before the start of the final season. Although the series finale left Gilmore Girls fans with a glimmer of hope, their future as a couple was still not certain.
Meredith and Derek (Ellen Pompeo & Patrick Dempsey) – Grey’s Anatomy The show opened with Meredith having a one-night-stand before she started her internship, only to discover the man she slept with was an attending doctor where she worked. And he was married! Eventually (years later) it all worked out and now they’re married with kids.
Angela and Jordan (Claire Danes & Jared Leto) – My So-Called Life Good girl Angela had a major crush on Jordan. His learning disability brought them closer together, but his one night stand with Angela’s best friend tore them apart. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled before they had a chance to patch things up.
Booth and Bones (David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel) – Bones Temperance “Bones” Brennan doesn’t have a lot in the way of social skills, and that causes more than a little bit of tension between her and Special Agent Booth. That naturally turned into sexual tension, and nine seasons later, they’re married with a kid.
Carrie and Mr. Big (Sarah Jessica Parker & Chris Noth) – Sex and the City New York columnist Carrie Bradshaw fell hard for business tycoon John Preston, known as Big in the series. He seemed to be out of Carrie’s league, and their relationship stopped and restarted quite a few times before they finally ended up together (and married in the movies).
Ryan and Marissa (Ben McKenzie & Mischa Barton) – The OC The relationship between juvenile delinquent Ryan and his upper class neighbor Marissa got a lot of coverage on the show. They dated each other, dated other people, but it never seemed to work out. And once Barton left the show, that was the final nail in the coffin (so to speak).
Buffy and Angel (Sarah Michelle Geller & David Boreanaz) – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy almost killed Angel when they first met, and things didn’t exactly improve from there. They definitely had chemistry, but it’s not easy to date a vampire while being a vampire slayer, and so Angel broke it off with Buffy.
Dawson and Joey (James Van Der Beek & Katie Holmes) – Dawson’s Creek Dawson was completely oblivious to the fact that his best friend Joey had a crush on him. They eventually started dating, but never managed to make it work long-term, and Joey ultimately ended up with one of Dawson’s friends.
Sam and Diane (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) – Cheers After her life falls apart, uptight, intellectual Diane takes a job as a cocktail waitress at a bar owned by Sam, a former professional baseball player. Thus began one of the most-discussed relationships in TV history. But it wasn’t meant to be; Long’s departure from the show meant the relationship would have to end.
Dylan and Kelly (Luke Perry & Jennie Garth) – Beverly Hills, 90210 Friends since childhood, Kelly and Dylan went behind Brenda’s back and started dating after they couldn’t deny their feelings any longer. Their angst-filled relationship carried on sporadically through the entire series and by the finale, they were together for good.
David and Maddie (Bruce Willis & Cybill Shepherd) – Moonlighting The sexual and romantic tension in this show was so deep that producers devoted most of an episode to just analyzing the relationship. This was par for the course for a show that repeatedly broke the fourth wall. They finally got together in the third season, but it wasn’t meant to be; production issues, questionable writing decisions and Bruce Willis’ budding film career doomed the show.