Romantic relationships on TV shows don’t always go the same way, but there are some standards. The show can totally deny feelings, engage in will-they-or-won’t-they flirting or just bite the relationship bullet.

Need proof that these are the routes? You don’t need to look any further than Bones, Castle and Chuck.

Bones: What Feelings?
Throughout most of its nearly six-year run, the two main characters on Bones have maintained that they were “just partners.” Not that the audience believed them, but Brennan and Booth stuck to their story. Significant others came and went with the central pairing never realizing that they were meant for each other.

But perfect cluelessness has its own wrinkles. At the end of season 4 and throughout season 5, brain tumor survival pointed out the obvious to Booth: he loved Brennan. Brennan’s failure to return the emotion, however, soon shifted the whole thing back to “just partners.”

With Brennan’s gradual realization that she was a total idiot, this dynamic may be shifting toward the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship mode. But Bones just isn’t there yet.

Castle: There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Flirting
Not since Moonlighting has there been as much will-they-or-won’t-they fun as we see weekly on Castle. The characters of Rick Castle and Kate Beckett have adored and irritated each other since day one. And their flirting non-relationship may be more fun than any actual relationship.

It can’t last.

The rules of TV dictate that Castle and Beckett either need to get together or move-on-but-not-really. It’s not certain that the fun relationship would survive either outcome.

Chuck: Long Journey to Love
Chuck has done it all.

Chuck started out head-over-heels in love with Sarah. Sarah, despite her better judgment, secretly felt the same. The pressures of their rather unorthodox lives kept them apart, but the flirting and secret feelings always threatened to boil over.

Then, they decided that it was never going to happen. For parts of season 2 and season 3, Chuck and Sarah “moved on” from each other. Both started relationships with seemingly nice people. The audience knew better, but both characters managed to convince themselves that this was the preferable arrangement.

It couldn’t last, of course.

That’s when Chuck made the bold choice to just go with it. Instead of keeping the audience in relationship agony, we got a glimpse at a solid relationship facing the unusual obstacles of frequent attempted murder, intermittent treason and occasional mental breakdown.

Happy Endings?
Audiences want their favorite couples to be together. That’s a given. But what we want isn’t always so good for us.

There’s a chance that Booth and Brennan might finally go for it by the end of this season. But can any actual relationship match the fantasies we’ve built up in our heads?

Castle and Beckett stand poised on the brink of an altered relationship — but what if it goes horribly wrong? Angry and fighting, Castle and Beckett would be no fun to watch.

As for the happy-happy Chuck and Sarah relationship, the show seems committed to keeping those two crazy kids together. But will we get tired of unending relationship bliss?

“Happily ever after” isn’t in the nature of television — not until the bitter end anyway. Relationships can and do work, but they are tricky. So far, Bones, Castle and Chuck have all walked the fine line that keeps viewers interested. The future, however, is always a question.

What do you think? Should TV characters pursue relationships, or does that just mess everything up? Leave us a comment with your opinions!

(Images courtesy of FOX, ABC and NBC)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.