One of the greatest TV Tropes to behold is tortuous and often unrequited love. Just like in life, one character pines for another, or sometimes both characters unknowingly pine for each other. Since they’re easily some of the most relatable aspects of any TV series, this Valentine’s Day we celebrate the greatest unrequited love stories in TV history. Even if the couple finally gets together, it’s the journey through unrequited territory before they get together that makes the eventual romance so rewarding.
Desmond David Hume & Penny Widmore of Lost
For regular readers of this column, it’s no secret that I was a huge Lostie right up until the head-scratching finale. One of the biggest reasons I watched Lost was the ballad of Desmond and Penny. When we first meet Desmond, he’s pushing a button in the Hatch to save the world. As flashbacks eventually reveal, Desmond was preparing for a race around the world to prove to Penny’s father, Charles Widmore that he was worthy of his daughter’s affections. What seemed to be nothing more than a backstory about unrequited love turned into a game-changer for the entire series, as the “Not Penny’s Boat” scene is one of Lost’s most heartbreaking moments. The heartache would continue in and episode called “The Constant” in which Desmond’s “flashes” between 1996 and Christmas 2004 begin and he realizes Penny is his constant. The episode is widely regarded as Lost’s finest hour of television and it aired - not coincidentally - two weeks after Valentine’s Day.
Luke Spencer & Laura Webber of General Hospital
Talk about unrequited love stories. Luke and Laura are daytime TV’s most recognizable couple and certainly the breakout stars of General Hospital. But before their wedding attracted nearly 30 million viewers and (reportedly) gifts from Princess Diana, their story would begin far too violently for my tastes, as theirs is essentially the story of a woman falling for her drunken rapist. For you younger readers out there, ask your mother or aunt and they’ll likely tell you that they forgave Luke Spencer’s actions just as Laura did. I know it’s a bitter pill to take, but in the zany world of Soap Operas, this somehow works. The encounter has since been rewritten to be more of a seduction than an attack, but for GH fans, it didn’t seem to matter and no matter how many times their love falters and they are broken up, Luke and Laura always seem to find a way back into each other’s arms.
Jim Halpert & Pam Beasley of The Office
Sure, they’ve been happily married for several years now, but admit it: The Office was at its best when these two were pining for one another. The first few years of the series saw Jim pining for Pam and vice versa in many ways, but first Pam had to rid herself of her Jerk Store boyfriend, Roy. Jim has it so bad for Pam that he moved to the Stamford branch to alleviate the pain of seeing her every day. Jim even tried to date Scranton co-worker, Karen. But as we all know, Roy and Karen were sent packing and the big moment finally occured in the Season 3, in an episode called “The Job” and the sweetest couple on TV was finally joined, with Jim admitting he bought an engagement ring a week into their dating. A collective “aww” was heard round the world. To keep the romantic tension going (at least a little bit), it would take Big Tuna another year to muster up the stones to pop the question.
Milhouse Van Houten & Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons
Matt Groening’s answer to Charlie Brown has always been Milhouse. And always pulling that proverbial football of a heart out from under him has been his best friend’s little sister, Lisa. You would think that after harboring a hopelessly devoted crush for almost 25 years,the poor guy would take a hint, but Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten just keeps soldiering on. When Lisa gave up her first crush, Nelson, Milhouse rejoiced with newfound faith when Lisa told him her next crush could be anyone. Considering in most of the Simpsons’ flash-forward episodes, Milhouse is finally with Lisa, it’s no wonder the kid won’t give up.
Jimmy Chance & Sabrina Collins of Raising Hope
The newest show on our list allows for Jimmy and Sabrina’s unrequited affections to remain unknown. If you haven’t seen Raising Hope yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Jimmy pining for Sabrina is played up for some good jokes, as his folks, Virginia and Burt, often make fun of the poor guy’s inability to open up to Sabrina and tell her the truth. Of course, it was revealed in a flashback episode that when Jimmy used to dress up as an emo-Goth kid, she had the hots for him. But alas, it was not to be and Jimmy grew out of his dark overlord phase and Sabrina never knew it was him and still doesn’t. Despite the wrinkle of Sabrina’s boyfriend, the two still spend a lot of time together, with Sabrina teaching Jimmy about the world and being a surrogate mom to Hope. It’s only a matter of time before these two consummate.
Spike & Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Before True Blood’s Sookie, every vampire on TV had it bad for Buffy. Punk vamp Spike was supposed to be different. The guy had come to Sunnyvale with his vampire girlfriend, Drusilla, and was genuinely sickened by the fact that his former friend, Angel, had feelings for a slayer. After losing Dru and having “nightmares” about her, Spike is forced to admit that he’s in love with Buffy, who despite initiating violent and seductive meetings will have no part of a real relationship with Spike. Despite being turned down, Spike remained a loyal right hand to Buffy in the final seasons of the show, even sacrificing himself to close the Hellmouth in the series finale. When Buffy finally declares her love, Spike glibly replies, “No, you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”
Samuel “Screech” Powers & Lisa Turtle of Good Morning Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell
Yes, I refuse to not acknowledge that Saved by the Bell was once a series called Good Morning Miss Bliss and was supposed to be vehicle for star Haley Mills. (Iif anyone remembers Zack introducing stories from when he, Lisa, and Screech were in Middle School, they are from that show.)Anyway, for any awkward teen who ever pined for the one of the nicest, sweetest, cutest girls in school, it’s easy to understand the pains of unrequited love. If you’re Screech, puberty hits, hormones are racing, and there’s Lisa Turtle looking cute beyond belief. Like many teenage boys falling for their first crush, you’d be powerless to her charms as well.
Every supernatural creature in the world & Sookie Stackhouse of True Blood
Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, shape-shifters, lions, tigers, bears – if you’re a supernatural male and you live in Bon Temps, odds are you have got it bad for one Sookie Stackhouse, and usually that ain’t good. Heck, most times, it usually leads to the end of the world until Sookie and her pals stop it. Sweet fairy blood notwithstanding, Anna Paquin does play Sookie with a certain bit of adorable bravado; she’s sexy and she knows it. And at its heart, True Blood is the ultimate female wish fulfillment fantasy –and correct me if I’m wrong, ladies. It’s a show about a girl who literally entices every eligible good looking male around her to protect her and gladly die for her. Oh, and they all have six- to eight-pack abs.
Carmela Soprano & Furio Giunta of The Sopranos=”3”>
These poor mob wives, they just have nothing to do but sit around all day while their husbands are out with all kinds of mistresses. Carmela Soprano had to put up with Tony’s philandering ways for years and barely said a peep about any of them. But when Carmela laid eyes on the tall, dark Italian man, Furio, she developed feelings for the dashing, sensitive mobster. The sentiments between the two were mutual, however they never consummated their love – after all, they’d both be dead if anything ever happened. When Furio caught Tony in the act, he belived Carmela deserved better he almost shoved Tony into helicopter blades. Not being able to contain his feelings, Furio packed up and left New Jersey for his native Naples. Carmela on the other hand, revealed her feelings for Furio to Tony in Season 4’s explosive finale, “Whitecaps.” =”3”>
What couples are your favorite tumultuous love stories? Do you think the chase is better than the catch, or can you not wait for your favorite lovebirds to get together and be happy? Leave your opinions in the comments and follow me on Twitter @CouchForceOne. Happy Hallmar – err, I mean Valentine’s Day!
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.