Love triangles are a storytelling staple, so much so that love triangles are almost expected to appear in every network drama at least once. One of the easiest ways to keep a central couple apart or to make a side character romance more interesting is to throw someone else into the sexual tension mix. There are a few love triangles on TV that go above and beyond the standard awkwardness. Whether it is because of lies, sibling rivalry, accidental pregnancies or even time travel, here are 7 of the most complicated love triangles on TV.

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Warning! This article does contain spoilers!

Jane/Michael/Rafael – Jane the Virgin

It was hard enough for Jane to be engaged to her fiance Michael and wait until marriage to have sex on Jane the Virgin. Jane’s love life got even more complicated when she was accidentally artificially inseminated with her boss, Rafael’s, sperm and got pregnant. This is how Jane the Virgin started and ever since then the series has charted Jane’s very complicated romantic relationship with Michael and Rafael. 

Michael is now Jane’s husband, but Rafael will always be tied to her (and in love with her) because of the birth of their son Mateo. It certainly doesn’t help that Rafael and Michael couldn’t be more different and Jane finds herself drawn to both for very different reasons. Jane the Virgin proves that romance can get plenty complicated even when sex is not in the picture. 


Barry/Iris/Eddie – The Flash

It’s one thing to be in love with your best friend. It is another thing to have knowledge of the future and know that in some potential timeline you ended up married to that same best friend. This was the dilemma facing Barry Allen in season 1 of The Flash. Barry had the classic unrequited love story with his best friend Iris, which made Iris dating the likable (but very boring) Eddie all the more aggravating. 

Things got even worse when Eddie and Iris got engaged at the end of season 1, especially since Barry learned that in a potential future Iris ended up marrying him, not Eddie. The love triangle in season 1 of The Flash initially seemed like an annoyingly familiar situation, but the elements of time travel and superpowers took it to a whole new level of complicated. It’s no wonder that the only way The Flash got out of this messy romantic situation was by killing Eddie off in a shocking and unexpected way.


Jake/Olivia/Fitz – Scandal

The characters of Scandal spend more time making out and making love than they do pretty much anything else, so there is bound to be some awkward situations and mixed pairings in all the spit swapping. Even with all the complicated romance, every triangle on Scandal pales into comparison to the central one of Olivia, Jake and Fitz. 

Olivia’s love life was complicated enough when she was the mistress of a man who was juggling his deteriorating marriage and trying to lead the free world as the President of the United States. Things got even more complicated when Olivia met intelligence operative Jake in season 2. Jake might have been tasked by President Fitzgerald to spy on his mistress, Olivia, but soon Jake and Olivia ended up sleeping together. 

Choosing between Fitz and Jake is not the first time that Olivia has been faced with a love triangle on Scandal. Even before she met Jake, Olivia was struggling whether or not be to be with Fitz. When you factor in all the murder, sleeping around and lies between the three characters, this love triangle is, by far, the most complicated relationship of the series.


Piper/Alex/Stella – Orange is the New Black

Who says that just because you are in prison you can’t have a disordered and wild love life? In season 3 Piper took a big step towards the dark side when she landed her ex-girlfriend Alex back in prison. Piper did it all just so she would have company for the rest of her stay at Linchfield. This would have been bad enough but almost as soon as Alex was back, Piper dumped her for the even newer arrival Stella.

In the end, Piper might ended up alone and in deep trouble with the criminal underbelly of the prison. Neither Alex or Stella was by Piper’s side (or in her prison bunk bed). While it lasted, though, the chaotic and sexual mind games and backstabbing between Alex, Stella and Piper make up one of the more dirty and dastardly TV love triangles in recent memory. 


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Caroline/Stefan/Alaric – The Vampire Diaries

The gut reaction when thinking of a love triangle on The Vampire Diaries is to jump to the central one of Elena, Damon and Stefan. Really, though, Elena being torn between the two Salvatore brothers is a story that has been seen countless times in many different forms. The other love triangle of the series, between Stefan, Caroline and Alaric, is infinitely more complicated. 

For all the twists and turns in the Elena/Damon/Stefan romance, Elena never ended up pregnant with either of the brothers’ twins or (seriously) on the cusp of marrying one of them. This is not the case with Caroline when it comes to Stefan and Alaric. Caroline carrying Alaric’s twin babies was weird enough, considering she was a vampire and he is a resurrected former vampire. Where things get really strange is when you factor in the fact that Caroline was never really in love with Alaric, but the idea of him, and she was dating Alaric’s quasi-frenemy Stefan almost the entire time she was pregnant. Like most relationships in The Vampire Diaries, you basically need a chart to figure out all the character connections and feelings. 


Meredith/Maggie/Riggs – Grey’s Anatomy

When her husband Derek died, it took a very long time for Meredith to have feelings for someone else on Grey’s Anatomy. Thankfully, the ruggedly handsome Riggs showed up and Meredith, after some wooing, was smitten. The only problem was that Meredith’s “new” secret half-sister, Maggie had already fallen for Riggs. Meredith has a history of complicated relationships with her half-sisters, but that usually doesn’t involve Meredith being attracted to the same man as her sister. Yet that is the case with Maggie and Meredith. 

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For now, Meredith and Riggs appear to have called it quits, especially after Meredith found out about her sister’s feelings. It is clear though that as far as Riggs is concerned the romance between Meredith and him is not over yet. Riggs, Meredith and Maggie are the latest in a long string of complicated romances on Grey’s Anatomy, and their relationship is shaping up to be the most difficult one yet. 

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Stiles/Lydia/Malia – Teen Wolf

Stiles started as the wacky and dorky comic relief on Teen Wolf. Over the seasons he has turned into quite the romantic hero. As Teen Wolf comes to a close, it remains to be see who Stiles will end up with in the end, assuming he even survives the series. The smart money is Stiles will end up with Lydia, as their feelings for one another have developed slowly over the series. Lydia is not the only woman in Stiles’ life, however.

Teen Wolf fans found out that Stiles is Malia’s anchor to the human world in the season 5 finale. Malia’s love for and connection to ex-boyfriend Stiles is the thing that keeps her grounded and able to keep her vicious werecoyote nature in check. Right now Stiles (and Lydia) remain unaware of the importance of Malia’s connection to Stiles or even her continuing romantic feelings for him. Both facts will undoubtedly be a big hurdle for the two characters to vault over in the final season of Teen Wolf.  


So what do you think? What are some of your favorite complicated love triangles? Which ones did we miss? Which of these is the most complicated? Which couples are you rooting to end up together in the end?

(Images courtesy of The CW, ABC, Netflix and MTV)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.