Romance and television are inseparable. As viewers, we long to see stories of passion and happily-ever-afters. So what makes a great TV romance? Well, that all depends on whom you ask. For me, it’s chemistry and connection, which is why the couples on this list are my favorite ever. Gay, straight, longtime partners or newfound lovers, these swoon-worthy TV couples all make my heart sing a little.
Spoilers for ongoing and cancelled TV shows to follow.
Willow and Tara (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Magic may have brought Willow and Tara together, but it was true love that made them unforgettable. After losing Oz, Willow never thought she’d meet her match, but Tara made every day even more beautiful. Tara, with nothing but kindness and devotion in her heart, was easy to love for Willow and fans alike, and their relationship helped change the way queer women were portrayed on screen. Tara’s death, and Willow’s subsequent breakdown, also had a lasting impact. Fans are still not over Tara’s death, because as Willow’s heart broke, so did ours.
Santana and Brittany (Glee)
When fans of Glee saw cheerleaders Santana and Brittany holding pinkies walking down the hall, there was no turning back. Fandom pushed for a ‘Brittana’ romance and it’s because of support from fans that Santana and Brittany's relationship became such a focus of the show. Santana and Brittany may not have always been saints (Santana alone could cut you with her “vicious, vicious words”), but they always brought out the best in each other, and their best was something magnificent.
Meredith and Derek (Grey’s Anatomy)
They got married with a Post It note, people! A Post It note! When Mer and Der finally tied the knot, the unofficial symbol of their love and commitment to one another was a single, signed, blue scrap of paper. There are few TV relationships that reach the depth of love, passion and pain that Meredith Grey and Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd found together. From day one, these two couldn’t help but orbit around each other. They shared joy and loss, tore each other apart and built each other back up again. Since Derek’s death in season 11, we’ve watched Meredith mourn a loss that is unimaginable.
Pacey and Joey (Dawson’s Creek)
Sorry Boat Boy Leery, but Pacey and Joey were written in the stars. Joey was always the girl that “boy next door” Dawson dreamed of, but it was the puckish and sardonic Pacey that won Joey’s heart. Insecurities tore them apart as teens, but as they grew on their own, Pacey and Joey found a way back to each other, better and more prepared for their massive, unshakable love.
Jim and Pam (The Office)
We love Jim and Pam because we are Jim and Pam. Clever Pam and lovable jester Jim always had undeniable chemistry. It took a while for these two to finally get together, but when they did, we knew they were in it for the long haul, despite the challenges that eventually came with children and Jim’s new job. They made each other laugh, and frankly that’s the secret to any successful romance.
Roseanne and Dan (Roseanne)
Dan and Roseanne were the quintessential working class couple, and their characters spoke to television audiences in a huge way. Sure, Roseanne and Dan teased each other and sometimes fought, but underneath it all, they loved each other like crazy.
Kurt and Blaine (Glee)
During its six seasons, Glee helped bring queer relationships front and center. Kurt Hummel was brave beyond his years, and faced the slings and arrows of high school with class and resilience. When he met the talented out and proud Blaine, a member of the Dalton Warblers—a rival glee club of the New Directions—the two fell for each other as easy as breathing. Determined to make their young love last, they fought long and hard for each other. That heartfelt determination and genuine affection ended in a sweet double wedding with fellow Glee couple, Brittana.
Mulder and Scully (The X-Files)
Will they or won’t they? The debate about Mulder and Scully’s feelings for each other was an even bigger mystery than what lies beyond the stars. The reckless and curious Fox Mulder and the studious and skeptical Dana Scully shouldn’t have fallen for each other, but by the gods, they did. For seven seasons these two danced around the obvious: they were stupidly in love. Unfortunately, love tends to take a backseat when aliens are constantly abducting you, but the truth is out there: Mulder and Scully were meant to be.
Coach Taylor and Tami (Friday Night Lights)
Clear eyes, full wine glasses, can’t lose. During the five seasons Friday Night Lights aired, it was hard not to envy the marriage of Coach Taylor and Tami. They're the kind of couple that cut through the B.S. and fill their home with honesty and respect. Coach and Tami made sacrifices for each other, and ultimately, they became better and stronger for it. Tami didn’t back down from her beliefs and Coach was an inspiration to countless players. Relationship goals, y’all.
Castle and Beckett (Castle)
Flirty banter, bickering, the constant threat of death and dismemberment ... Castle was full of classic action TV romance fodder. We all know that when two leading characters can’t stand each other at first, they’re bound to eventually fall deeply in love. Theirs was a slow burn romance—we had to wait three seasons for a kiss! When Castle and Beckett finally did get together, their love faced an unexpected enemy: contract issues. Actress Stana Katic, who fought over the years to earn more money on the successful CBS show, discovered in the spring of 2016 that her contract had not been renewed for season nine. Still, even with Katic’s impending departure, Castle and Beckett got their happy ending—albeit a rushed and somewhat meh one.
Jack and Ianto (Torchwood)
It’s not easy being in love with a Time Agent from the future, but it’s totally worth it. Having two bisexual men on a TV series is a big deal in and of itself. Having them fall in love and pursue a relationship with each other, like Torchwood did, is even better. Ianto was a gentle, classy fellow, whereas Captain Jack was the epitome of adventure. Their opposites-attract relationship worked in all the right ways, although their love eventually came to a tragic end.
Glenn and Maggie (The Walking Dead)
Love ain’t easy, especially when you’re surrounded by an endless supply of zombies and human assholes. Yet, to paraphrase Rihanna, Maggie and Glenn found love in a hopeless place. Through it all, these two risked life and limb to find and protect each other, and if that isn’t beyond romantic, I don’t know what is. After Glenn’s brutal death at the hands of Negan, Maggie found a way to survive, and to keep Glenn’s spirit—and his child—alive as well.
Featured still from "The Walking Dead" via AMC