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!
Post-show to the series will feature 2-3 of the wives each week along with a special celebrity guest to discuss the episode immediately after it runs and to share some exclusive behind-the-scenes info.