Boy Meets World: Courtesy of Disney. Gilmore Girls: The WB/Photofest. The Mindy Project: Courtesy of Hulu.
We love to immerse ourselves in the stories of star-crossed lovers. We get a kick out of the will-they-or-won’t-they teases of a good on-screen friendship tinged with sexual attraction. When it comes down to it, however, those tales aren’t exactly the way we’d like our own romantic lives to progress. What a relief, then, that there are also a handful of couples on our favorite TV shows that demonstrate what healthy, uncursed relationships look like.
Some of these pairs fell in love in high school — or even earlier (Hi, Cory and Topanga!) — and as young viewers, we too thought there would be a chance of meeting our one and only before college. Others saw their longtime friendships blossom into something more (and okay, maybe Lorelai and Luke took too long to realize as much). There are the coworkers who turned the spark of rivalry into mutual respect and folks from different walks of life who find they have a lifetime of lessons to learn from each other. Lately, we’ve also been drawn to watching the longtime marrieds (Coach and Tami Taylor 4-ever!) who have taught us that when you have the right partner, all sorts of daunting challenges are surmountable.
As much as we like to be wrecked by fictional heartbreak once in a while, we’re going to take a minute to honor the matches we wouldn’t mind emulating in real life.
Paul & Jamie, Mad About You
Because they perfectly represented the New York-iest of New Yorkers: tough, witty, and filled with love.
David & Maddie, Moonlighting
Because everyone has an office crush.
Klaus & Cami, The Originals
Because this kiss is everything.
Booth & Brennan, Bones
Because “Bones” is the best nickname for a significant other.
Dan & Roseanne, Roseanne
Because we all want the kind of relationship where you can hit your S.O. over the head with a frying pan and still laugh about it.
Fran & Maxwell, The Nanny
Because we always want to be the funny one in the relationship.
Elliot & Angela, Mr. Robot
We know, we know. They’re just friends. But we’ve known since the pilot that these two should probably wind up together.
Michael & Nikita, Nikita
Because of this kiss, mainly.
Jerry & Elaine, Seinfeld
Because everyone knows they were in love the whole time.
Kevin Arnold & Winnie Cooper, The Wonder Years
Because these two always give us that warm and cozy summer camp feeling.
Ricky & Lucy, I Love Lucy
Because we all want our own Ricky to do the chick-chicky-boom with.
Joey & Pacey, Dawson’s Creek
Because we all want that feeling of, “Oh, you’ve been here all along!”
Claire & Jamie, Outlander
Because we all deserve a wedding night like this.
Jon Snow & Ygritte, Game of Thrones
If you can fall in love while snuggled under a rock north of the wall, you’ve pretty much beat the odds. These two were (sadly) meant to be. Plus, they gave us, “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” which is still our favorite meme.
Jack & Teri Bauer, 24
Because even the toughest of tough guys has a soft spot.
Ezra & Aria, Pretty Little Liars
Yes, haters, there is the whole creepy issue of how underage Aria is when she and Ezra start dating. And, well, throughout most of their relationship. But this is
Pretty Little Liars, and if you’re a fan, you’ve most likely put pesky facts like that behind you. And once you do, you are left with the magic soul mate duo that is Ezria.
Meredith & Derek, Grey’s Anatomy
Yes, tragedy ensues. But any couple that can magically transform an ER room into a site worthy of romantic dancing is a winner in our eyes.
Damon & Elena, The Vampire Diaries
These days are long gone, but never have we ever rooted more for a couple to date IRL.
Castle & Beckett, Castle
Because this kiss, in the rain, was exactly the moment die hard fans had been waiting for. And because everyone needs to be kissed like this at least once in their life.
Vincent & Catherine, Beauty & The Beast
Because we all want our first kiss to be this thrilling and momentous.
Jessa & Adam, Girls
We know, we know. They are FAR from perfect. But you have to admit: The first moment during season 5 when a Jessa-Adam union seemed possible (especially throughout that scene where he kept trying to sneakily kiss her, and she pretended she didn’t want him to) was magical. We’re happy to be along for the tumultuous ride.
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Philip & Elizabeth, The Americans
No, we don’t actually want to be Russian spies who have government-sanctioned marital affairs. But we
do want to feel so close to someone that we never have to keep a secret from them. We want someone to know all the darkest, dirtiest things we’ve done and still desire us. Photo: Patrick Harbron/FX.
Mu lder & Scully, The X-Files
Although a lot about old
X-Files reruns now looks dated, the chemistry between agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is as fresh as it was in 1995. Despite years of flirty rapport, palpable sexual chemistry, shared passion for the supernatural and the tendency to end up in dire situations together, the couple didn’t even get romantic until the last couple of seasons — making them one of the first and longest-running cases of will-they-or-won’t-they TV pairings. This year’s reboot kind of went and ruined that, but we still believe.
Zack & Kelly, Saved by the Bell
Envying the on-again-off-again high school romance between a jock and a cheerleader may be cliché, but it’s in honor of our own high school dreams. After all, watching Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) pursue Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) was kind of like witnessing our own school’s most popular couple from afar — only this way, we were privy to Zack’s innermost thoughts, thanks to his constant asides. As adults, we can appreciate the way they took breaks to be just friends in high school and college, so that by the time they had that Vegas wedding, it was anything but impulsive.
Cory & Topanga, Boy Meets World & Girl Meets World
Moms of toddlers often joke that their kids will one day grow up and marry each other. Do we ever see that happen? Perhaps just in the fictional universe of
Boy Meets World, where quirky, earnest tweens Topanga (Danielle Fishel) and Cory (Ben Savage) rekindled their early childhood connection and took it all the way. And now, we have the very rare opportunity to see how awesome they are at married life as a new generation follows their daughter’s adventures in Girl Meets World. This is, like, incontrovertible proof that true love exists, right?
Monica & Chandler, Friends
Dating someone from within your core group of friends can turn into an awkward disaster, but who doesn’t sometimes dream of it happening? Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) have known each other since he was Ross’ college roommate, so when they finally hooked up, the only big surprise they had to discover about each other was their wicked sexual chemistry. They also have nicely aligned senses of humor, while their personalities and interests are just different enough to make sure things never get boring. Plus, they never had to go through all the soap opera-style ups and downs Rachel and Ross did. Basically, this is a recipe for a long-lasting marriage.
Miranda & Steve, Sex and the City
On paper, high-powered attorney Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and low-key bartender Steve (David Eigenberg) could never be more than a fling. And yet, this is the rare instance (Actually, does this ever happen in real life?) where an unplanned pregnancy brings two people together
and turns their constant clashing of personality and priorities into the very factors that make them work. They’ll never stop learning from each other. If this were our love story, we’d probably like to do without that cheating episode from the movie, but that turned out to be one more challenge that made them stronger.
Seth & Summer, The O.C.
We can’t possibly say more than the millions of nostalgic articles, music videos, and Tumblrs devoted to the perfect, popular girl-next-door, Summer (Rachel Bilson), and geeky Seth (Adam Brody), who won her heart in high school after crushing on her his entire life. Questions of popularity, existential crises, and environmental activism got between them, but it was impossible to lose faith in the power of their perfect, never-ending banter. What we’d give to have a sparring partner like that for life!
Luke & Lorelai, Gilmore Girls
Ideally, we wouldn’t want to wait five whole seasons for a close friendship to slowly burn into confirmed romance the way Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Luke’s (Scott Patterson) did. Nor would we really want to have to throw in a couple of unnecessary marriages to other people. If the eventual outcome, however, is confirmation that the person who gets you the most is someone you can also share a bed with for the rest of your life, the delay may be worth it. Unless there are some horrifying Christopher-like complications coming up in the Netflix revival that we don’t know about yet, that is. (Shudders!)
Sawyer & Juliet, Lost
Despite the monsters, time shifts, cultish scientists, and possibly the devil himself, Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) managed to find domestic bliss for a few short years on the island. It’s perhaps because they’d both been left behind by the more volatile elements of the
Lost love quandrangle (Jack and Kate) that their romance is both believable and enviable. You may argue that Juliet’s untimely demise canceled that out — unless you take into account that the series’ weird finale meant that in the afterlife, they’re also happily together, enjoying all the Apollo candy bars they want.
Felicity & Ben, Felicity
At first, we though Felicity (Keri Russell) was nuts for ditching her first-choice school and running off to college in New York to be with Ben (Scott Speedman) just because he wrote something nice in her yearbook. And for years, he didn’t deserve her as much as sweet Noel (Scott Foley). In the end, however, his good nature won us over — along with a bit of random witchcraft — and we have to believe they’ll both follow each other to the ends of the earth now. Photo: Courtesy of The WB.
Jim & Pam, The Office
Oh, how we love a good office crush. And oh, how we know (and HR does too!) that we should never, ever act upon one. But the daily promise of flirting and prank planning is what made working at Dunder Mifflin bearable for Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer). The fact that Pam was engaged to someone else for years possibly made everything just a little more deliciously illicit. Of course, there was no guarantee that going from unrequited crush to real coupledom would turn out great — and there were several times when their own personal ambitions threatened to tear them apart — but that adorable spark between the two always remained. Sometimes, work is the best place to meet people, but be very careful before trying this at home.
Lafayette & James, True Blood
After a possessed Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) unwittingly stabbed his previous boyfriend to death in his own home, the Merlotte’s cook deserved something good in his life. It was odd that it had to come in the form of baby vamp Jessica’s boyfriend, but that’s just how things go in Bon Temps. Soulful ’60s throwback James (Nathan Parsons) turned out to be one of the first men to appreciate Lafayette’s insane style as well as his heart. Photo Courtesy of: HBO.
Marshall & Lily, How I Met Your Mother
Clearly, college sweethearts and best friends Marshall (Jason Segal) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) are meant to be a foil for Ted’s titular search for the Mother. They’re the romantic ideal. That’s not to say we haven’t also been able to learn from their mistakes — mismatched career goals, in-law strife, homeownership, far-off job prospects. This is how you grow into adulthood with the love of your life without losing the kooky qualities that made you love each other in the first place.
Eric & Tami, Friday Night Lights
To some of us, the idea of being the stay-at-home wife of a football coach in small-town Texas is, um, less than ideal. But as we watched Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) embark on her career as a guidance counselor and then school principal while still supporting Eric (Kyle Chandler) in his demanding job, we kind of wanted to be in on what they have. As they watched their teenage girl grow up and (mostly) enjoyed the surprise of a second daughter, they showed us a warts-and-all relationship that could withstand a whole lot of stress. Now, if only someone would show us what their life is like after Eric followed Tami to her dream job in Philadelphia.
Kurt & Blaine, Glee
There’s nothing like your first love. At the same time, not everyone would be satisfied being with no one but their high school sweetheart for the rest of their lives. That’s why we’d like the compromise presented by Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss), who broke up after Kurt left for New York. Then, after a bit more growing up and time apart, they rekindled their romance and got married in the spur of the moment. Now, their life together doesn’t have to include that “what if?” — though we’re sure it does involve a lot of sweet duets at the piano.
Mitch & Cam, Modern Family
Since the show’s early days, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) have been lauded as one of the depictions of gay domestic life that gradually helped swing the country in favor of gay marriage (If
Ann Romney enjoys watching them, they must be okay!). On a much less important level, this pairing of a neurotic lawyer and extroverted farm-boy-turned-clown/jock/stay-at-home dad is an opposites-attract scenario that we can really buy into. We particularly admire the way Cam has such a good relationship with Mitch’s nutty family. May our own in-law relations fair so well.
Leslie & Ben, Parks & Recreation
Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) are such genuinely good people and dedicated civil servants, it’s kind of amazing that seeing them together doesn’t make us sick. Above all, the way they admire and support each other in their work is one of our ultimate #relationshipgoals. Then again, maybe we don’t want to have a Ben and Leslie love story, per se; maybe we want Ben and Leslie to be our parents and/or co-leaders of the free world together.
Kristina & Adam, Parenthood
When you realize that
Parenthood and Friday Night Lights share executive producer Jason Katims, it makes so much sense that here, too, is another shining example of a team who can conquer anything together — though they’ll also have the scars to prove it. From Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina’s (Monica Potter) son’s Asperger’s diagnosis, to Adam’s regrettable kiss with an assistant, to Kristina’s breast cancer treatment, we saw them go through a whole lot and thought, Maybe we’d survive that, too, if we had the right partner along the way.
Robert & Cora, Downton Abbey
A couple of years ago,
Downton creator Julian Fellowes said he was writing a prequel series about how the young viscount (Hugh Bonneville) and American heiress Cora Levinson (Elizabeth McGovern) met and married. We haven’t heard much about it since then, but we’d eat up every tidbit of info on how these two went from a marriage of financial convenience (her cash saved Downton) to true love and respect. Sure, Robert can be a bit of a stubborn ass (when he’s not spewing blood) and he was tempted to stray with a young maid that one time. He’s got the good grace to know when he’s wrong, however, and lets his wise wife guide him through the changing times.
Linda & Bob, Bob’s Burgers
Working with your significant other is hard enough — we can’t imagine what it’s like to own a struggling business together. And yet, Linda (John Roberts) and Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) seem happiest together when they’re grinding meat in the basement of their burger joint. Linda clearly admires her husband’s drive to make the place succeed, or at least survive; and though he forgets it every once in a while, Bob knows his wife is the glue that holds their restaurant and family together. More than most other animated spouses, these two really act like equals.
Schmidt & Cece, New Girl
When your BFF acquires new friends of the opposite sex, doesn’t your mind immediately go to: “Oooh, any prospects there?” Not that gorgeous model Cece (Hannah Simone) could immediately recognize the potential of Jess’ (Zooey Deschanel) roommate Schmidt (Max Greenfield) — she was too into dating shallow guys and he seemed too obsessed with his meticulous wardrobe and get-rich-quick plans. But again, the magic of sexual chemistry broke down those walls enough for these two to see they’re soul mates. Even if it’s taken a few extra love triangles to get there, their engagement makes us feel warm and fuzzy, like we’re wrapped in one of Schmidt’s kimonos.
Mindy & Danny, The Mindy Project
Okay, so these two are in the middle of a rocky patch as of the midseason finale, but let’s concentrate for a moment on the good stuff. Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina) are so much to each other — brutally honest frenemies, supportive BFFs, colleagues, opposites, and co-parents. They know each other’s flaws (her narcissism, his chauvinistic conservatism), so we have hope that they can overcome them for the sake of those gooey looks they give each other. Since both Mindys, Kaling and Lahiri, are obsessed with the kind of rom-coms that end before getting to the complicated stuff of marriage and parenthood, these latter episodes are covering entirely new territory. Let’s hope these doctors eventually show us how to do that happily ever after part, too.
Dre & Rainbow, Blackish
Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) strict, traditional upbringing could not have been more different from Bow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) hippie-dippy childhood. It shows in their conflicting parenting philosophies as they raise their four kids together. Still, their conflicts never look like deal-breakers. Rather, they keep up a constant, healthy (and, yeah, hilarious) negotiation that keeps their family balanced and pretty darn happy, to boot.
Glenn & Maggie, The Walking Dead
Imagine having so much love for someone that you will gladly let a madman named Negan — swinging a bat wrapped with barbed wire— brutalize your face so your partner can be spared? Yeah, that’s what love is like in the zombie apocalypse.
Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Homer & Marge, The Simpsons
Sure, Homer is not the ideal husband (is there even such a thing?) But one of his most redeeming qualities is the fact that he downright cherishes Marge. He would never hurt her. And she would never judge him for having yet another donut.
Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
Jimmy & Gretchen, You’re The Worst
Because nobody’s perfect, but this is what happens when you’re imperfect together.
Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Connor & Oliver,
How To Get Away With Murder
The drama is filled with jaw-dropping crimes and lots of legal jargon, but the one thing we can’t get enough of are the scenes of Connor and Oliver snuggling in their apartment.
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