Television is full of relationships. Some are good. Others are less good. But this slideshow highlights the best relationships, whatever kind of relationship they may be.
#20 Best Finally(!) Relationship: Chuck and Sarah in Chuck
Years of pining, the might of the US government and a handful of sexy exes proved no match for Chuck and Sarah’s love… finally! Having dispatched the evil Daniel Shaw in order to save Sarah, Chuck got the ultimate reward in a strong, healthy relationship with the love of his life.
Their lives might be far from trouble-free (someone has tried to kill them almost weekly), but Chuck and Sarah’s relationship looks poised to stand the trials of the espionage life.
#19 Best Relationship Involving Too Many People: Stefan and Elena and Damon and Katherine in The Vampire Diaries
Damon used to love Katherine, but now he loves Elena. Elena loves Stefan, but always seems drawn to Damon (probably because he’s beyond hot). Stefan loves Elena but has unfinished business with Katherine, his first love. Katherine claims to have only used Damon to get to Stefan, who she still loves. And she pretty much wants Elena out of the way.
Yes, this relationship is messy. But in the best possible way!
#18 Best Parent-Child Relationship: Jimmy and Hope in Raising Hope
Was there ever a parent more devoted to his child than Jimmy Chance? It probably helps that he doesn’t have much of a life and only acquired direction when his serial-killer, one-night-stand baby mama dumped little Hope (nee Princess Beyonce) in his lap.
Jimmy may not know what he’s doing, but you just know he’ll do whatever it takes to raise the adorable Hope.
#17 Best Heartbreakingly “Just Friends” Relationship: Brennan and Booth in Bones
Having confronted Brennan with his love, a rejected Booth ran off to Afghanistan (as disappointed lovers are wont to do). And then he returned with a shiny new girlfriend! Not that any mere girlfriend could hope to defeat the ever-smoldering looks between Brennan and Booth. Hannah’s presence only provided the catalyst needed to make Brennan confront her own feelings. Unfortunately, the annoyingly honorable Booth turned Brennan down in favor of his girlfriend.
At the end of 2010, they have agreed to continue the whole “just friends” ruse for the indefinite future, but Brennan and Booth still have more chemistry than is scientifically possible.
#16 Best Relationship Involving a Heavenly Being: Dean and Castiel in Supernatural
Castiel has been a source of heavenly help for both of the Winchester brothers, but his first and ultimate loyalty has always remained with Dean. They represent the ultimate in odd couples: the earthly guy incapable of taking anything very seriously and the ethereal being only capable of taking things seriously.
Castiel — good, angelic guy that he is — has been there for Sam and all of humanity. But Dean is the one that really matters to him. As the angel himself said, “Dean and I do share a more profound bond. I wasn’t gonna mention it.”
#15 Best Relationship Defined by Singing Compatibility: Rachel and Finn in Glee
No relationship on Glee can occur without a duet or two, so it stands to reason that the ultimate Glee relationship has been between Rachel and Finn. As early as the pilot episode, Rachel predicted that the duo would inevitably end up together, based on their dynamic singing compatibility. And she was right.
Many, many duets later, Rachel and Finn are (for the moment, but you know that’s not likely to be permanent) heading into 2011 in search of new singing partners. But it was melodious while it lasted.
#14 Best You-Waited-Too-Long-Now-He’s-Dead Relationship: Kate and Jack in Lost
Jack had been in love with Kate pretty much since she sewed him up in Lost’s pilot episode. Kate had always at least partially loved Jack (except when she preferred sexing-up Sawyer or mothering Aaron). But the two never seemed to get it together — even their short-lived engagement was a mess.
It was fitting, therefore, that Kate only finally figured out how much she loved Jack about five minutes before he died to save everybody. While a pleasant way for Jack to march off to his certain death, it was also a bit frustrating. At least Kate had years and years and years to regret it all later.
#13 Best Relationship with Unexpectedly Awesome Chemistry: Jeff and Annie in Community
Although they had their debate-inspired kiss early in season 1, any feelings between Jeff and Annie seemed long gone for many of the following episodes. And then Jeff ran away from the aggressive advances of Britta and Professor Slater. Right into Annie’s arms.
Technically, nothing’s happened between them since, but the significant glances, random utterances of affection and occasional physical contact tease us with some rather incredible chemistry.
#12 Best Screwball Comedy Relationship: Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy in Dancing with the Stars
It began during the third week of Dancing with the Stars’ season 11. In his efforts to improve Brandy’s dancing, pro dancer Maks got fairly aggressive with his partner. Brandy shot back, and the verbal sparring was on. The judges called out Maks for his too-aggressive teaching methods, but no one could deny that the performances improved.
In the following weeks, the bickering continued throughout rehearsals and during interviews. But we began to see the silly humor underlying it all. Every argument was played up for laughs, and Brandy and Maks were having a grand time. Had Dancing with the Stars been a classic film, the pair would be probably be married (and/or drunk) by now.
#11 Best Psychologically Unhealthy Relationship: House and Cuddy in House
It’s been building for the entirety of House’s run, but the relationship between House and Cuddy only finally happened this year. And they’ve kept it going, despite the fact that this is a relationship that involves Dr. House. Apparently, lying, grouchiness and generally unethical behavior are fine in the relationship. Will it last? Probably not without some major bumps in the road…
#10 Best Relationship That Didn’t Happen for a Really Stupid Reason: Oscar and Naomi in 90210
When sort-of-exchange-student/the-guy-who-tricked-Ivy-into-sleeping-with-him Oscar paired up with totally-over-the-top-diva/trustafarian Naomi, we had high hopes of this relationship working out — we were even predicting a green-card marriage so the handsome Brit could stay stateside. However, the distant sound of wedding bells totally faded when Naomi declared herself a “girls’ girl” — a completely random and out-of-character declaration — saying she couldn’t date Oscar after what he did to Ivy. Despite the fact that she had her new pal Ivy’s blessing on the relationship, this ‘ship may officially have sunk.
#9 Best Totally Casual (or Is It?) Relationship: Tony and Ziva in NCIS
Technically, Tony and Ziva have had a casual, almost sibling-like relationship characterized mainly by friendly teasing and caring about each other’s feelings. But then there’s that undercurrent of sexual tension that hints that the relationship could be a whole lot more.
Has there ever been more? Who took the couch in Paris? And has the relationship ever gone down the friends-with-benefits route? There’s no definitive answer, only the knowledge that Tony and Ziva may be each other’s most important person.
#8 Best “If You Were the Last Person on Earth…” Relationship: Shane and Lorrie in The Walking Dead
You always wonder about the relationships that would develop if everyone in the world died except one person. Would you hook up? Would it last?
This year, thanks to The Walking Dead we found out that it’s actually kind of cute, although temporary. Maybe Lorrie and Shane weren’t into each other back when dating didn’t involved death by zombie. And maybe the whole thing fell apart when Lorrie’s husband turned up not-dead. But they were a pretty good couple while it lasted, and the pseudo-family unit they built actually seemed to work. Rick’s back in the picture now, but we can maybe hope for a reprise in later seasons.
You know, assuming that they don’t get eaten first.
#7 Best May-December Relationship: Jay and Gloria in Modern Family
He’s an aging, upper-middle-class curmudgeon. She’s a young, hot Latina. But somehow, Jay and Gloria Pritchett made it work. And not in a sugar daddy/gold-digger kind of way.
In addition to being ridiculously entertaining, Jay and Gloria have also managed to be a believable couple. Gloria’s crazy and loud antics regularly proved to be a source of amusement for Jay. Jay, in turn, provided constant attention and reliable support to his often scattered wife. And it probably helps that they had a frequent chaperone in Manny.
#6 Best Relationship to Watch from Afar in Horror and Disgust: Jake and Vienna in The Bachelor
The word “trainwreck” doesn’t even begin to cut it.
Even from the very beginning of their twisted courtship on The Bachelor, Jake and Vienna were only the best in so far as being the absolute worst — and they only got worse from there. Vienna started as the villain of the relationship, portrayed as a conniving, spoiled princess party girl out to trick the handsome, hokey pilot into marriage. After a couple noxious months of cheesing it up for the Dancing with the Stars cameras, they called off their engagement, and then the real madness started: mud-slinging in the tabloids about their (lack of) sex life, among many other distasteful topics. Jake accused Vienna of being a jealous fame whore; she insinuated his homosexuality right back.
The climax of the damage came when they sat down with Chris Harrison for a post-breakup interview. Jake came off as an psychotic, patronizing creep; Vienna, a sobbing, unraveling mess. It was a double reality TV meltdown of the grandest, most horrifying variety. And we couldn’t look away
#5 Best Unintentional Relationship with a Doppelganger: Peter and (not) Olivia in Fringe
Fans have been expecting something to happen between Olivia and Peter since Fringe began, but it’s a safe bet that no one anticipated how it would play out. Upon their return from a parallel universe, Peter and Olivia finally began their romance.
Only one problem: she wasn’t Olivia. Stupid alternate-universe doppelgangers ruining beautiful relationships with murderous, world-destroying tendencies!
#4 Best Puppy Love Relationship: Sally and Glen in Mad Men
They were too young for much of anything beyond friendship bracelets (Sally was only 10, for Pete’s sake), but that couldn’t stop the slightly odd sweetness of Sally and Glenn’s relationship. Hey, how is it not sweet (and creepy) that Glenn broke into the Francis home for Sally?
Not that the innocence of the relationship could keep Betty Draper from completely freaking out. Her overreaction (Betty fired the family’s housekeeper and moved the family to Rye) has either killed or made certain the future of this puppy love relationship.
#3 Best Flirting Relationship: Castle and Beckett in Castle
Rick Castle and Kate Beckett adore each other. And everybody knows it. Even Castle and Beckett know it. And yet, their relationship remains nothing more than an extremely entertaining flirtation.
Could an actual relationship be any better? We’ll find out someday, but for now, the best flirtation on TV is plenty.
#2 Best Doomed Relationship: Jin and Sun in Lost
They were separated for three years (and, thanks to time travel, by 30 years). Each thought the other dead or forever lost throughout most of this period. On the show’s final season, they wandered the jungles for episode after episode before finally reuniting with tears and embraces on a beach.
Then they got blown up in a submarine. Oh well.
#1 Best Bromance Relationship: Troy and Abed in Community
Abed is a quasi-Asperger’s lunatic obsessed with television and film. Troy is a dumb, ex-high school jock. Of course they’re perfect for each other! From building epic blanket forts during a sleepover to hosting their own morning show, Troy and Abed in the Morning, these two are one couple that will last for the ages.