MINDY (MINDY KALING) AND DANNY (CHRIS MESSINA)
The Mindy Project (2012-present)
The two doctors are equal turns salty and sweet with each other. Though Kaling admitted the duo isn’t really built for forever, after Danny gave Mindy the gift of dance and planted one on his colleague during a plane ride, we’re confident their romantic relationship will at least be fun while it lasts.
NICK (JAKE JOHNSON) AND JESS (ZOOEY DESCHANEL)
New Girl (2011-present)
Doe eyes and a turtle face have never such a fine couple a-made. Despite, or perhaps because of, their conflicting personalities (he a grump, she adorkable), Jessica Day and Nick Miller are oddly, perfectly matched. Their chemistry turned palpable early in the first season, when Jess was Nick’s date for a wedding where he would see his ex. Very quickly, they became those two friends everybody knows — the ones with sizzling chemistry who seem to be the only ones oblivious to their inevitable hook-up. Like a small-screen Harry and Sally, they’ve been there for each other in sickness (Nick’s cancer scare, Jess’ menstrual cramps), health (building Ikea furniture, Nick’s weird healing-pool phase), and wackiness (”Landlord” ménage à trois, anyone?). When they were urged to kiss during a game of True American or Dare during season 2’s ”Cooler,” the undercurrent of sexual tension was brought to the fore, and Nick showed a bit of vulnerability by refusing to share his first kiss with Jess under those circumstances. (Translation: He’d thought about it, and it mattered to him.) So when he unexpectedly pulled her into his arms at the end of the night for an epic first kiss, who was that girl swooning? It was Jess! By the time they had sex for the first time in ”Virgins” and drove off into the night at the end of the season 2 finale, who were those shippers swooning? It was us!
RICHARD CASTLE (NATHAN FILLION) AND KATE BECKETT (STANA KATIC)
He’s a crime novelist, she’s the NYPD homicide detective he tailed for inspiration. We’ve known they were meant for each other since season 1, but it wasn’t until the season 3 finale, when Beckett took a bullet, that Castle admitted his feelings. Of course, she pretended she hadn’t heard him say ”I love you,” and when he found out she had, he pulled away again. But (SPOILER ALERT!!) in the season 4 finale, he repeated the words as he tried to explain why he was desperate for her to let her mother’s murder go — she could be killed if she doesn’t. Beckett continued investigating without him, and… well, just read our recap and what creator Andrew Marlowe had to say about the episode’s ending.
LUKE (SCOTT PATTERSON) AND LORELAI (LAUREN GRAHAM)
Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
Their love was one based on friendship, her caffeine addiction, and his patience with everything from her love of Pippi Longstocking to her on-again, off-again relationship with Rory’s father, Christopher (David Sutcliffe). In the fourth-season finale, they shared a memorable first kiss (cue naked Kirk screaming and running). Despite some serious ups and downs over the next three seasons — a child he never knew he had, more Christopher — they reconciled in the series finale to make Stars Hollow the happy place we know it should be.
REMINGTON STEELE (PIERCE BROSNAN) AND LAURA HOLT (STEPHANIE ZIMBALIST)
Remington Steele (1982-1987)
It’s a man’s world, which is why private eye Laura Holt let a mysterious man (Brosnan) assume the role of the fictitious, perpetually out-of-town boss she had created for her investigative agency. Though they shared their first kiss in the third episode of the series ”posing as lovers,” they never could quite figure out how to make a personal relationship work. In the season 3 finale, after the agency had (temporarily) lost its license, she wanted to part ways. By the time she reconsidered, Remington and his ’80s heavage were gone. In the season 4 finale, Laura married Remington to keep him from being deported. But it wasn’t until the final moments of the abbreviated fifth season — when Remington decided that he’d waste no more time showing those he cared for how he felt after he learned his father’s identity — that they became real lovers. Cue him carrying her up the stairs and the bedroom window going dark.
ELLIOT STABLER (CHRISTOPHER MELONI) AND OLIVIA BENSON (MARISKA HARGITAY)
Law & Order: SVU (1999-2011)
The sheer number of fan videos that have been made ‘shipping two detectives who investigate sex crimes is evidence enough of their sometimes difficult but always undeniable chemistry. ”People ask me if they’ll ever get together — and people want that, and sometimes I think even Olivia wants that — but I don’t think that will ever happen,” Hargitay once said. Since Meloni left the show, probably not…unless they pull an ER and someday bring Stabler back for the series finale…. (But unlike Stabler, George Clooney’s Doug didn’t have a wife and five kids.)
HOUSE (HUGH LAURIE) AND CUDDY (LISA EDELSTEIN)
Who knew that six seasons of the doctor finding new and exciting ways to compliment the Dean of Medicine’s butt would eventually pay off in a serious relationship? ”Huddy” didn’t need to happen — and fans will forever be divided on whether they should have gotten together. But after years of tension between two characters who were equally fond of and frustrated by each other in the same workplace, it seemed inevitable. The first time they ”slept together” in season 5 — when Cuddy was helping House detox from Vicodin — it turned out to have only been a hallucination. House’s addiction ultimately tore the couple apart at the end of season 7, at which point House drove his car into Cuddy’s house. Cuddy resigned — and Edelstein left the series before the eighth and final season.
TEMPERANCE BRENNAN (EMILY DESCHANEL) AND SEELEY BOOTH (DAVID BOREANAZ)
Over four seasons, we’ve seen two opposites attract — a cerebral, socially awkward forensic anthropologist with abandonment issues and a gut-driven, occasionally goofy FBI special agent who believes in faith and love. We laughed, we cried, we bookmarked a behind-the-scenes clip of the season 3 mistletoe kiss on YouTube, and we rewound all of Boreanaz’s longing, I-love-you-so-much-it-actually-hurts looks — best in the business — that followed. In the season 6 finale, we found out Booth had done more than comfort Brennan after Mr. Nigel-Murray’s death — he got her pregnant. They’re currently raising their daughter, born in an actual manger, as a couple. He insists she’ll have to be the one to propose to him. So the dance continues…
ERIC NORTHMAN (ALEXANDER SKARSGARD) AND SOOKIE STACKHOUSE (ANNA PAQUIN)
True Blood (2008-present)
He said he might grow on her, she said she’d prefer cancer: That sounds like the beginning of a beautiful friendship to us. Though Sookie ”belonged” to vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer), Eric forged a bond with the telepathic barmaid by tricking her into drinking his blood in season 2. After some erotic dreams, more biting dialogue, and one hot goodbye kiss as foreplay, they finally sealed the deal in season 4 when Eric had amnesia… in the woods, on the floor, in the chair, in the bed, in the shower, in the trippy forest. Get back together soon!
KERMIT AND MISS PIGGY
The Muppet Show (1976-1981)
Apparently, sexual harassment doesn’t exist in the Muppet world, or Miss Piggy — Kathleen Turner in felt, only with a sharper tongue — would have been summarily dismissed decades ago. She chased her frog for years: In season 3 of the show, she attempted to trick Kermie into marrying her for real during a wedding sketch; In season 5, she tried to plant a cover story in a gossip rag about them having secretly wed in Vegas. (Kermit fired her briefly over that one.) It wasn’t until 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan that Kermit finally put a ring on it, though some still debate whether it was their ”characters” or the actors who tied the knot. In Jon Stewart’s classic 1999 interview with Miss Piggy — ”Got a little frog in your throat?” — he referred to them as married. In Jon we trust.
JACK SHEPHARD (MATTHEW FOX) AND KATE AUSTEN (EVANGELINE LILLY)
The two bonded immediately after the crash of Oceanic 815, kissing once in season 2 before Kate slept with Sawyer and Jack tried to start fresh with Juliette. They tried living together after being ”rescued,” but the specter of the island — and Sawyer — drove a wedge in their relationship. But their connection was always undeniable and even in the afterlife they made their way to each other, standing in the light in the church.
CARRIE BRADSHAW (SARAH JESSICA PARKER) AND MR. BIG (CHRIS NOTH)
Sex and the City (1998-2004)
They taught us that messy relationships can have happy endings. Lovers from the start, the question was always would he commit? Were they a forever couple? What kept us watching through six seasons and one summer blockbuster, was their willingness to go to dark, unlikable places (i.e., Carrie cheats on Aidan and Big on his new wife, Natasha; Big leaves Carrie at the altar!). Despite that romantic last-minute dash to Paris in the series finale, Big wasn’t always the knight in shining armor. We were allowed to question him as much as Miranda did. But by the time they finally said ”I do” in the first movie, we all had our answer: His love is real. For now.
TONY DINOZZO (MICHAEL WEATHERLY) AND ZIVA DAVID (COTE DE PABLO)
Equally cocksure — him in his pop-culture references, her in her Mossad-trained ass-kicking skills — the Tiva relationship has always been fiery. Sparks could’ve ignited in the season 3 episode ”Under Covers,” when they hit the sheets while posing as a pair of married assassins. (They were under surveillance.) And once, Ziva lingered a little too long while lying on top of Tony to shield him from a ricocheting bullet. When Ziva was still on the show, the playtime was nice, but it was when fans saw them having real conversations (sorry Ray turned out to be a killer, Ziva), that chatter reached a fever pitch.
TIM CANTERBURY (MARTIN FREEMAN) AND DAWN TINSLEY (LUCY DAVIS) JIM HALPERT (JOHN KRASINSKI) AND PAM BEESLEY (JENNA FISCHER)
The Office (U.K., 2001-2003; U.S., 2005-present)
We have to give a shout-out to the U.K. Office because we can’t hear the Yaz song ”Only You” without thinking of Dawn returning to the Christmas party to tell Tim she was no longer engaged and kiss him. But it’s the U.S. version’s Jim and Pam who’ve pulled off the most realistic office romance in TV history — from the two-season build up to their first stolen kiss, through every courtship smile more genuine than any seen on The Bachelor, to Jim’s proposal, and the birth of their two children.
CHUCK BARTOWSKI (ZACHARY LEVI) AND SARAH WALKER (YVONNE STRAHOVSKI)
Josh Schwartz and Co. brought the romantic tension between the Nerd Herder-turned-spy and his CIA handler to a boil in season 2. They were (fake) married on a suburban mission, survived respective sexual distractions (his evil ex, Jill; a beefcake British spy), and nearly hooked up while on the lam. Luckily, fans didn’t have to wait too terribly long to see the real deal. The pair entered into a legit relationship in season 3 and were married in the season 4 finale. Happily ever after? Not exactly. At the end of season 5, Sarah lost her memories and despite Chuck’s best efforts, she never fully recovered — on screen. We know they lived happily ever after.
JOYCE SUMMERS (KRISTINE SUTHERLAND) AND RUPERT GILES (ANTHONY STEWART HEAD)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
For one glorious episode in season 3, we got our wish of a Joyce and Giles hookup. Granted, it was only because they’d eaten cursed candy that made them behave like insolent teenagers. But we were happy to get even that. Especially since after Jenny Calendar’s death, we don’t know if Giles would’ve recovered from Joyce’s passing in season 5. (Not that we ever did.)
DAPHNE MOON (JANE LEEVES) AND NILES CRANE (DAVID HYDE PIERCE)
Fact: If an unseen wife is portrayed as frigid, audiences will be more than happy to watch her husband flirt relentlessly with his father’s live-in physical therapist and caretaker, then root for him to tell her that he loves her. Even after Niles’ first wife, Maris, started divorce proceedings, we got some classic near misses — none funnier than season 5’s bedroom farce ”The Ski Lodge.” But it wasn’t until the night before Daphne’s wedding that Niles, who’d just given up hope on a life with Daphne and gotten married, finally admitted his feelings. Fact #2: If audiences have watched a man pine for a woman for seven seasons, they’ll be fine with him leaving his new bride — and her leaving her groom at the altar — and driving off in an RV for their first date. Daphne eventually became the third Mrs. Crane.
DAVID ADDISON (BRUCE WILLIS) AND MADDIE HAYES (CYBILL SHEPHERD)
You don’t need to be a PI at the Blue Moon Detective Agency to figure out that why this show became a cautionary tale, it was spoken aloud in the series finale: Viewers love watching couples fall in love, and when that romance is over — and they’re either a couple or back to ”just friends” — so are the ratings. Desperate attempts to rebuild the tension (i.e., a quickie marriage to a man you met on a train) will not be tolerated. But let’s remember the good times, like David grabbing Maddie for their first kiss in season 2 when he was going underground, and their first night together in Season 3: ”Fine.” ”Fine.” ”Good.” ”Good.” ”Bitch.” ”Bastard.” Slap. ”Get out!” Slap. ”Get out!” Sla— he grabs her arm. Cue ”Be My Baby” and the two falling to the floor, then into bed.
SAM MALONE (TED DANSON) AND DIANE CHAMBERS (SHELLEY LONG)
The original will-they-or-won’t-they couple is the standard by which all others are judged: They came from different worlds (the American League for him, academia for her) but they met in the middle, where the barbs flew. The season 1 finale, when Sam’s older brother asks Diane to accompany him to Europe, finally forced them to admit their feelings and — after a glorious five-minute brawl over the right moment to kiss — into each others’ arms: ”You disgust me. I hate you.” ”Are you as turned on as I am?” ”More.” It looked as though the on-again off-again couple might finally get their happy ending in the series finale, when Diane returned and they reunited after a six-year separation. But when their flight to Calif. was canceled, they took it as a sign that just because you could spend your life making someone miserable doesn’t mean you should. I guess we agree, right?
ED STEVENS (TOM CAVANAGH) AND CAROL VESSEY (JULIE BOWEN)
It’s not stalking if the man is as cute and creative as Ed. That’s what we learned from this show about the bowling alley lawyer whose sole purpose in returning to Stuckeyville was to win the affection of the girl he was too nervous to talk to in high school. By the season 3 finale, Carol had finally fallen for Ed, who found himself in a love triangle. For many viewers, that episode’s final scene was the finale: He told Carol she was right: he’d only loved his idealized vision of her and he was going to choose the other woman [dramatic pause] until he searched the town trying to find her to tell her that and saw them laughing and fighting at every stop. (But technically, the show ended with their wedding in season 4.)
ANGELA CHASE (CLAIRE DANES) AND JORDAN CATALANO (JARED LETO)
My So-Called Life (1994-1995)
So much uncensored angst in only 19 episodes. Fifteen-year-old Angela longs, and we do mean longs, for Jordan, the boy EW once referred to so perfectly as ”a soulful yet frustratingly monosyllabic dreamboat.” He suggests they have sex when everyone assumes they have, then tells her he’ll clear up the rumor by telling everyone that he has zero interest in her. Then they get together for boiler-room makeout sessions, which he prefers to keep a secret from his friends. After he takes their relationship public, they break up when she’s not ready for sex. Then he sleeps with her best friend. Then she forgives him because she believes he wrote her letters actually penned by Brian (Devon Gummersall). She finds out the truth just as the finale ends. Danes told EW in 2004 that she believes Angela would’ve given Brian a chance, but that she doesn’t see her marrying either of them. We’d have to agree.
JOEY POTTER (KATIE HOLMES) AND DAWSON LEERY (JAMES VAN DER BEEK)
Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003)
Why did we choose Joey and Dawson over Felicity‘s Felicity (Keri Russell) and Ben (Scott Speedman)? Because we never felt 100 percent comfortable with the idea that Felicity would change her college plans and follow a guy cross country because he showed the tiniest interest in her, and because even though we eventually lost interest in both series, we returned for the Dawson’s Creek finale to see who Miss Potter ended up with once the hormones and heightened dialogue settled. We were rewarded: As opposed to Felicity‘s time-traveling signoff, fans actually understood it. The sound you heard was us cheering that Joey opted for Pacey (Joshua Jackson).
BLAIR WALDORF (LEIGHTON MEESTER) AND CHUCK BASS (ED WESTWICK)
Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
If Gossip Girl was a show about the games that rich kids play, then Blair and Chuck were its all-time champions. When they weren’t ruining the lives of everyone around them, they were hooking up…then elaborately denying said hook up…then trying to trick the other into hooking up again. Checkmate? Plotting and scheming in nearly every episode of the CW series, they made unhealthy psychological warfare look something like a romantic dance. To be young!
TONY SOPRANO (JAMES GANDOLFINI) AND JENNIFER MELFI (LORRAINE BRACCO)
The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Over six seasons of the HBO drama, mob boss Tony Soprano and his psychiatrist developed a strong codependent relationship. He was constantly coming on to her, the one person he could confide in; she was fascinated with his dangerous life, and got a ”vicarious thrill” out of their sessions. Although they never got together, their sexual tension was more than hot enough.
DONNA MOSS (JANEL MOLONEY) AND JOSH LYMAN (BRADLEY WHITFORD)
The West Wing (1999-2006)
Moloney’s character was originally designed to play a minor role in Aaron Sorkin’s White House drama, but her chemistry with Whitford convinced Sorkin that she should be given more to do. And so it was that Donna and Josh, the show’s premiere will they/won’t they couple, got its start. And despite lots of innuendo, longing glances, and relationships with the likes of Marlee Matlin (for Josh) and Christian Slater (for Donna), they stayed platonic until the show’s final season. And when they finally got it on — in a hotel room during the Santos campaign — longtime Wing watchers couldn’t keep the collective grin from their faces.
RACHEL GREENE (JENNIFER ANISTON) AND ROSS GELLAR (DAVID SCHWIMMER)
It became something of a punchline even during the show’s run, but who wasn’t invested in the pairing of neurotic Ross and vivacious Rachel? Over 10 seasons we watched the two get together, then separate, then conceive a child, then break up, then get together again, et cetera, et cetera. Hairstyles changed! Presidents changed! It was only in the season finale, when Rachel ditched her plane to Paris, that the modern-day Sam and Diane finally hit the mark.
JOHN MICHAEL ''J.D.'' DORIAN (ZACH BRAFF) AND ELLIOT REID (SARAH CHALKE)
It took only 15 episodes for J.D. and Elliot to hop in bed together. It would be over 100 more before they finally entered into a mature and healthy relationship. By the show’s final season (it’s ninth), J.D. and Elliot were married and expecting their first child. While Scrubs often veered into cartoon territory with its plots and characters, the ups and downs of its two central doctors — characterized by moments of impulsiveness and selfishness mixed with real soul searching and reflection, all narrated by J.D. — felt all too real.
GEORGE MICHAEL BLUTH (MICHAEL CERA) AND MAE ''MAEBY'' FÜNKE (ALIA SHAWKAT)
Arrested Development (2003-2006; new season scheduled for 2013)
So George Michael and Maeby are cousins. Who want to make out with each other, which is wrong. Wait — Maeby’s mom, Lindsay, was actually adopted, so they’re not cousins? Which makes their romantic entanglement okay? But they’re still family, so… Hey, there’s always the rebooted season to prolong the agony!
MAGGIE O'CONNELL (JANINE TURNER) AND JOEL FLEISCHMAN (ROB MORROW)
Northern Exposure (1990-1995)
He was a fish-out-of-water big city doctor assigned to practice medicine in a remote Alaska town. She was a professional bush pilot determined to hate him. A match for the ”love/hate relationship” books? For a while, at least, before the series spiraled into progressively darker and strange territory…but we digress. Turner and Morrow brought plenty of heat (and a geographically appropriate amount of ice) to the much-lauded Northern Exposure.
MARY ANN (DAWN WELLS) AND THE PROFESSOR (RUSSELL JOHNSON)
Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967)
No, we’re not making this up. Didn’t you ever watch the show? Those lustful stares they hoped no one but they could see. A casually messy pigtail; an undone button on the Professor’s Oxford shirt. The only thing hotter than the vibes Mary Ann and the Professor were sharing was the tribal fire Gilligan was nearly cooked over in episode 4.18! Keep your Mad Men-style sexy; for real ’60s heat, it’s all about Gilligan’s Island.
FRED JONES AND DAPHNE BLAKE
Scooby Doo (1969-present)
Forget the Freddie Prinze Jr./Sarah Michelle Gellar versions we got in those two live-action Scooby movies — the tension between their cartoon forebears was always much more animated. In adventure after adventure, they played each other hot and cold. Fred would trick Daphne into thinking there was a ghost, winking to the audience when she ran into his arms. Daphne, for her part, would tease Fred by undoing her green scarf…then quickly re-tying it, also winking at the audience. It’s the winking that made Scooby Doo so subversively sexy.
FOX MULDER (DAVID DUCHOVNY) AND DANA SCULLY (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
The X-Files (1993-2002)
Sure, there were aliens and government conspiracies and an overarching mythology that bridged the gap between Twin Peaks and Lost…but what kept viewers engaged was the simmering sexual tension between its two buttoned-up leads. At the intersection of Duchovny’s fevered belief and Anderson’s stoic skepticism was an undeniable chemistry — one that kept the ”will they/won’t they” guessing game going all the way up to their pillow-talk final moment.