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Worst TV Couples of All Time, Ranked

Over the course of television history, there has been a slew of unforgettable fictional couples that have been both loved and loathed by audiences. While the small screen has introduced viewers to iconic and universally beloved romances such as Lucy and Ricky, Ben and Leslie, and Edith and Archie, there have also been some not-so-cherished unions.

Whether it’s a failed attempt to transform friends into lovers like George and Izzie in Grey’s Anatomy, or the highly turbulent and downright toxic relationship between Carrie and Mr. Big throughout the course of Sex and the City, not all romances have knocked it out of the park and have unfortunately aged like milk.

With all that in mind, while many of these relationships on this list have their redeeming qualities, there are just too many flaws and faults that can’t be overlooked and have prevented frustrated viewers from rooting for them. Let’s dive into some of the worst TV couples of all time.



11 Dawson and Joey (Dawson’s Creek)

Sony Pictures Television

Despite the name of the ’90s teen drama being Dawson’s Creek, some fans were deeply frustrated over the titular character’s tumultuous relationship with his childhood best friend Joey and their constant rollercoaster romance. While their love affair began as a slow burn, with Dawson initially completely oblivious to Joey’s true feelings, the pair eventually share a kiss and begin dating.

Not only did Joey give up a summer internship in Paris to stay with Dawson, but she felt overshadowed by his filmmaking ambitions and struggled with establishing her own identity outside their relationship. Dawson and Joey were much better as friends than they ever were as lovers, as their personalities were far too different, and they lacked the true romantic chemistry that she would later share with Pacey.

10 Jackie and Fez (That’s ’70s Show)

Jackie & Fez on That 70's Show
Carsey-Werner Distribution 

Longtime viewers of the groovy sitcom That ’70s Show were completely caught off guard when Point Place’s resident diva Jackie Burkhart ended up with the lovable but hilariously perverted Fez at the conclusion of the popular series. Despite harboring a major crush for the sassy brunette throughout the course of the show, Jackie showed no signs of reciprocating his feelings until the very last season

After having memorable romances with both Kelso and Hyde, seeing Jackie end up with Fez left much to be desired for devoted fans of the comedy. Not only did their pairing feel unauthentic, but many were also holding on to hope that she would reconnect with Hyde, as the duo truly helped each other grow and mature. Jackie and Fez getting together definitely felt like a major letdown.

9 J.R. and Sue Ellen (Dallas)

J.R. and Sue Ellen on Dallas

The trailblazing ’80s soap opera smash hit Dallas was an iconic and groundbreaking TV show for a plethora of reasons, having famously posed the question “Who shot J.R.?” and causing the world to fall into quite the tizzy over the epic cliffhanger. Centering on the quarrelsome Texas family the Ewings, the romance between the scheming oil tycoon J.R. and former beauty queen Sue Ellen became the focal point of the drama and their stormy marriage caused quite the buzz.

From extramarital affairs to blackmail and their constant schemes and scams, the dysfunctional on-and-off duo were absolutely thrilling to watch but were not exactly the couple’s goals. J.R. was a notorious womanizer and his mistreatment of Sue Ellen caused her to turn to the bottle and embrace her own conniving side, resulting in their spectacular demise.

8 Rory and Dean (Gilmore Girls)

Rory & Dean on Gilmore Girls
Warner Bros. Television

After first being introduced as the sweet and protective boy next door and Rory’s first boyfriend, Dean swiftly evolved into a controlling and extremely possessive partner on the 2000s comfort show classic Gilmore Girls. The character showcased his immaturity when he became jealous over aspects of Rory’s personality and life he used to admire, with things like her intense dedication to her studies and her unbreakable bond with her mother becoming a source of contempt between the two.

Related: Gilmore Girls: The Best and Worst Boyfriends Between the Dynamic Duo

The couple reached their boiling point when on their anniversary Rory failed to return Dean’s “I love you,” causing him to unfairly lash out and break up with her over his own perceived embarrassment. Though they went on to reconcile, their relationship was never the same and Rory found herself attracted to town newcomer Jess. The pair later shockingly had an affair when Dean was married, garnering outrage from fans.

7 Izzie and George (Grey’s Anatomy)

Grey's Anatomy George and Izzie

When shows try to implement the often tricky friends-to-lovers trope, it can either be a sizzling triumph (looking at you, New Girl‘s Nick and Jess) or a massive trainwreck just waiting to happen. Unfortunately for close pals Izzie and George on the groundbreaking medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, their short-lived romantic pairing crashed and burned almost as fast as it began. It was bad enough that George was married to Callie at the time when the affair occurred, but their hook-up also affected the dynamic of their friendship which made it difficult for it to recover from.

Izzie and George are the perfect example of characters who are way better off as friends than lovers, and their ill-conceived romance lacked any true chemistry and seemingly came out of nowhere. While their relationship was eventually able to be repaired, it nonetheless left viewers perplexed as to why it ever happened in the first place.

6 Alex and Piper (Orange Is the New Black)

Orange Is The New Black Netflix

Getting your former significant other thrown into prison as part of a plea deal doesn’t make for the healthiest foundations for a relationship, which is just one of the many reasons the romance between Orange Is the New Black’s Alex and Piper was so turbulent and toxic. Former drug cartel worker Alex was the reason Piper was incarcerated nearly a decade after helping her smuggle drug money, and after being reunited in prison the couple pick up where they left off (with unsurprisingly complicated results).

They constantly exhibit jealous and possessive behavior, cheat on one another, and are so codependent that they can hardly function without each other. The constant back-and-forth between Alex and Piper was tiresome for audiences, and they attempted to pass off their relationship as romantic when it was downright dysfunctional and extremely unhealthy.

5 Ross and Rachel (Friends)

Rachel and Ross from Friends

While strong cases can be made for both sides as to whether or not Rachel should have gotten off the plane, many diehard fans of the juggernaut ’90s hit Friends can agree that their romance was an arduous ten-year affair that truly tested the patience of audiences. While their love story began as something sweet and endearing, with Ross having been in love with Rachel since high school, their relationship ultimately soured due to Ross’ immaturity and jealousy over her desire to have a career.

Not only did Ross go out and sleep with another woman the second he and Rachel were controversially “on a break,” but he ran all over the city trying to cover his tracks and keep her from finding out. The pair would frequently exchange jabs and insults despite still having romantic feelings, and duo often brought out the worst in one another; they even sabotaged prospective relationships for the other. By the time they officially reunited in the finale, fans were relieved for the “happy ending” but still believed Rachel got the short end of the stick.

4 Ted and Robin (How I Met Your Mother)

Josh Radnor & Colbie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother

After revealing to audiences early on that the ambitious and witty Robin was not in fact the mysterious mom to Ted’s children in the enduring sitcom How I Met Your Mother, fans were still forced to endure their constant and very frustrating relationship throughout its 9 seasons. It became glaringly obvious that the pair simply were not compatible, as Robin wanted to focus on her career while Ted was eager to settle down and find “the one,” thus putting them at a crossroads.

Ted was borderline obsessive when it came to Robin and was deeply infatuated with her (even when he was in relationships with other women), and she made it abundantly clear that romance came second to her career aspirations. Their overall dynamic was very unhealthy, and they often lied and weren’t honest when it came to their feelings and desires. The show’s universally loathed series finale also infuriated audiences, who felt their reunion was a cop-out and wasn’t true to the message and meaning of the sitcom.

3 Aria and Ezra (Pretty Little Liars)

Pretty Little Liars Aria and Ezra

Undeniably one of the most problematic pairings in recent television history, the romance between Aria and Ezra on the teen mystery drama Pretty Little Liars definitely incites a generous dose of cringe and disgust. While their relationship was strangely romanticized despite the fact that Aria was 16 and a minor when they first hooked up at a bar and Ezra was in his twenties, their dalliance became even more complicated when he was revealed to be her high school teacher.

Related: Pretty Little Liars: Every TV Series in the Franchise, Explained

Though they would break up and make up multiple times throughout the show and kept their romance a secret while he was still her teacher, the series continuously attempted to make Ezra come off as swoon-worthy and passionate when he was really just a predator. Somehow the couple rode off into the sunset and were married, despite Ezra’s deceitful actions and behavior.

2 Carrie and Mr. Big (Sex and the City)

Carrie and Mr. Big Sex and the City

Another controversial couple that has had their fair share of both passionate supporters and detractors, Carrie and Mr. Big in the cutting-edge classic Sex and the City became the poster romance for the series even though they truly brought out the worst in each other. Big refused to commit to Carrie despite her being head-over-heels for the businessman, and she became obsessive and insecure while trying to desperately hold on to him.

Between engaging in a crushing affair while he was married to Natasha, and she was with the far-too-good-for-her boyfriend Aiden, to Carrie lying to her friends and constantly stewing over her own love life and not being present, their dynamic was simply just too toxic to root for. Their constant back-and-forth grated on fans of the show, and when they ultimately got together in the final episode audiences were in agreement: the dysfunctional couple truly deserved each other.

1 Cersei and Jaime (Game of Thrones)

Game of Thrones Season 6 Takes Cersei & Jaime Relationship to a Weird Level

Where does one possibly begin when describing the abhorrent and downright disturbing incestuous “relationship” between twins Cersei and Jaime Lannister on the epic series Game of Thrones? The taboo couple is willing to kill for one another to protect their disgraceful secret, and their unholy union led to the birth of the sadistic and passionately detested Joffrey.

While their twisted relationship was horrendous for a never-ending list of reasons (obviously with the whole brother/sister thing being the most skin-crawling aspect), Cersei and Jaime nonetheless loved one another deeply and would do anything for each other. Their character arcs throughout the course of the fan-favorite fantasy drama were lauded and exciting to watch, but there’s simply no getting past the unnatural nature of their vile coupling.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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