18 great pop culture trios
Jack, Janet, and Chrissy from Three's Company
2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the moment Jack (John Ritter), Janet (Joyce DeWitt), and Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) first burst onto TV screens as the charming trio at the center of Three’s Company. Over the course of eight seasons (with Somers’ character being replaced in the fifth), the three roommates made such an appealing trio, it made us want to go and knock on their door.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione from Harry Potter
Over seven eventful years at Hogwarts, these three Gryffindors stuck together through mountains of homework, a revolving door of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, a Triwizard Tournament, bullying from a certain blond pureblood, a handful of unauthorized Hogsmeade visits, the formation of a secret “army,” a campaign for elf rights, Quidditch victories and defeats — and that’s not to mention the return of the most dangerous dark wizard of all time, culminating in an epic battle on the grounds of the school where their friendship blossomed. Among other obstacles! But through it all, our heroes remained the same trio of magical misfits who met on the Hogwarts Express that fateful Sept. 1, and deserve a place in the pop culture hall of fame because of it.
Buffy, Willow, and Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It’s hard enough being a normal teenage girl. But when you add to the stresses of schoolwork, parents, dating, and mean girls with the pressure of being singularly, supernaturally destined to stand alone against the vampires, demons, and forces of darkness? Forget it. Buffy may be the Chosen One, but without Willow and Xander to ground and support her, she would be lost (or, more likely, dead).
Luke, Leia, and Han from Star Wars
In the three decades since George Lucas’ Star Wars first hit theaters, the franchise has evolved and expanded beyond its fans’ wildest dreams. However, with every animated TV series, every book, every new trilogy of prequels or sequels or totally independent standalone films, the true heart of the whole pop culture galaxy that is Star Wars resides in these three. Search your feelings; you know it to be true.
Sutton, Jane, and Kat from The Bold Type
Whether screaming in the subway, gossiping in the fashion closet, or just lying around in a really big bathtub, the girls of The Bold Type’s fictional Scarlet magazine always come together when they need each other most — and they need each other a lot, as they navigate all the pitfalls of the Sex and the City-on-training-wheels lifestyle of their post-college years.
The Three Stooges
The humor of Curly, Larry, and Moe may be lacking in elegance and wit, but their unique brand of slapsticky low comedy has endured so long — beginning as a vaudeville act in the 1920s, lasting through the ‘60s, and inspiring later interpretations, including a 2012 film that reportedly has a sequel in the works — that this trio ranks among the all-time greats.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy from Star Trek
Star Trek’s Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are often described as a perfect example of the Freudian Trio trope: Spock is the logical superego; McCoy is the instinctive id; and Kirk mediates and falls somewhere in between his two friends and foils as the balanced ego. What better team could you hope for to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before?
Annie, Brenda, and Elise from The First Wives Club
Hell hath no fury like a first wife scorned. In Hugh Wilson’s 1996 comedy, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn play three women, friends from college, who reunite and conspire to get revenge on their ex-husbands, all of whom left them for younger women.
Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short make up this trio of amigos in John Landis’ 1986 comedy. The three funnymen play three silent film stars, famous for their roles as the heroes the Three Amigos. Hilarity ensues when they answer the call of a young woman who mistakes one of their films for reality and begs them to come save her village from a villainous bandit.
Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson were the original stars to portray these three badass private detectives, working for the mysterious Charlie in the City of Angels, but many other actresses took on the roles over the course of the TV series — not to mention the film and TV remakes (including an upcoming new one). Now, over 30 years after the series’ debut, the Angels — especially depicted in their iconic signature pose — are a pop culture touchstone.
Lizzie, Gordo, and Miranda from Lizzie McGuire
How could Lizzie have ever survived the parade of humiliations that is junior high without Gordo and Miranda? Who would have helped her get her pictures in the yearbook? Who would have given her daily wardrobe consultations before school, and taught her about the Rat Pack, and snuck into R-rated movies and onto Aaron Carter music video sets with her, if not her loyal BFFs?
Rocky, Colt, and Tum-Tum from 3 Ninjas
The trio of brothers from 1992’s 3 Ninjas spent their summers "learning old-fashioned, really cool ninja stuff from our Japanese grandfather" (per Tum-Tum). They put their ninja lessons to good use first when a villainous criminal tries to kidnap them, then again in the film’s 1994, 1995, and 1998 sequels.
The Powerpuff Girls
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup make such a great crime-fighting team because they complement each other as perfectly as the three ingredients that made them — sugar, spice, and everything nice. (Plus Chemical X, for superpowers, of course.)
Sam, Neal, and Bill from Freaks and Geeks
Linda Cardellini’s protagonist Lindsay may have tended more toward the Freaks side on the short-lived but critically adored Freaks and Geeks, but the dorky freshman trio that comprised the Geeks — played by John Francis Daley, Samm Levine, and Martin Starr — wins our hearts.
Judy, Violet, and Doralee from 9 to 5
Colin Higgins’ 1980 female-powered workplace comedy 9 to 5 brought together three powerhouse stars for its fiery trio: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton play Judy, Violet, and Doralee, three coworkers who join forces to bring down their sexist boss.
Cory, Shawn, and Topanga from Boy Meets World
When Mr. Feeny wasn’t around to dispense advice so thoughtful it bordered on poetic, at least Cory, Shawn, and Topanga had each other to lean on all through the seven-season run of Boy Meets World. The trio’s return, more than 20 years after their first appearances, on Disney’s spin-off Girl Meets World only reinforced what we already knew: these three are best friends for life.
Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane from Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus
Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker play a group of sisters in the witchy tradition of those who prophesied Macbeth’s demise — though with just a dash more humor. Where Shakespeare’s trio recite ominous riddles for the Scottish hero, the Sanderson sisters perform a truly showstopping rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” in Kenny Ortega’s beloved 1993 Halloween comedy.