The Best & Worst of Fictional Relationships
In honor of Valentine’s Day, some of the Geekiary crew got together to nominate fictional relationships for three categories: the ones we don’t support, and the ones we do – both canon and not.
There are a lot of amazing and not-so-amazing fictional relationships in novels, TV shows, movies, and even video games. In this article I’m joined by several fellow Geekiary writers to discuss couples we just can’t get behind, non-canon pairings that we think should have happened, and ships that we love. But there was one fictional relationship that we couldn’t agree upon, so keep reading to find out what it was!
WARNING: This list contains spoilers regarding fictional relationships in the following: the Harry Potter series, Jurassic World, How I Met Your Mother, Star Wars, Gossip Girl, Teen Wolf, Red Dead Redemption, the Percy Jackson series, the Hunger Games series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, In the Flesh, Gilmore Girls, the Discworld series, Babylon 5, and Legend of Korra.
Couples We Just Can’t Get Behind
HARRY & GINNY (Harry Potter series)
Nominated by: Tara
Simply put, this relationship was not written in a believable manner…but beyond that, Ginny absolutely could have done better than Harry. I get that she hero-worshiped him for a long time, but Harry going from barely paying any attention to her at all to suddenly wanting her (and only realizing as much because he’s constantly jealous of the other guys she’s dating) was obnoxious. And then he broke up with her “to keep her safe”, didn’t talk to her for the better part of a year, and we’re supposed to believe that they still ended up happily together at the end? Please. Yeah, he was “The Chosen One”, but Ginny was a talented and intelligent witch – I would argue as talented, if not more so, than Harry himself. She could have been so much more than just Harry Potter’s wife, and while I know she had a career (first as a Quidditch player and then as a Quidditch correspondent for The Daily Prophet), that’s always glossed over in favor of the fact that she married Harry and had his kids. So I’ve said it already but I’ll say it again – Ginny deserved a better story than that, and nothing about them as a couple felt romantic or right to me.
CLAIRE & OWEN (Jurassic World)
Nominated by: Tara and Farid
So I guess there’s a chance that this turned into a “we just survived something horrible let’s hook up” situation, but we’re definitely meant to assume that Claire and Owen ended up in a long-term relationship. You know, for survival and shit. But did we forget that they’d been on a date and kind of hated each other? Are we supposed to believe that this experience changed each of them enough for them to be able to enter into a healthy relationship? Because I don’t. They weren’t right for each other to begin with and I doubt I could be convinced that they were in the end.
TED & ROBIN (How I Met Your Mother)
Nominated by: Undie Girl
This is a no-brainer. I mean sure they had a ‘plan’, but plans change – especially when you spend ten seasons showing the audience why these two make a terrible couple. It’s fine, though, right, because they fixed all the problems by giving Ted a baby factory and then killing her off so he could have his cake and eat it too. Ugh, Ted is the worst. Also there is ZERO CHANCE Ted’s kids were totally cool with finding out his dad has actually been in love with someone other than their dead mother since before they were born. I call shenanigans. (Sorry, the wound is still too fresh.)
ANAKIN & PADME (Star Wars)
Nominated by: Angel
Okay, I know these two had to get together for Luke and Leia to happen. And I know that all the amazingness from A New Hope and beyond would not be possible if these two crazy kids hadn’t inexplicably fallen in love. But man, this is a massive NOTP for me. Padme deserved better.
Seconded by: Tara
Yeah, while I hate to say that they shouldn’t have gotten together because otherwise we wouldn’t have the original trilogy, I just think Padme was better off alone. I’ve heard people say she should have been with Obi Wan but I don’t agree with that either. She was a strong, independent, practically fearless woman with a political career and it’s nonsensical for her to have fallen in love with the much younger, whiny Anakin of Episode II…and on top of that, she didn’t NEED to fall in love with anyone, including Obi Wan.
If the makers of a TV show know it’s going to end, things can go one of two ways. Either they lovingly attempt to close up loose ends and give their characters a fitting farewell…or they decide to burn the house down with everyone inside. Gossip Girl is in the latter category. While the “Dan is Gossip Girl” meme will always be in my heart, the fact that Gossip Girl tried to play off an anonymous bully blog as a freaking LOVE LETTER will forever be the most horrible reason for a couple to get together ever. That’s not even going into how poorly these two were suited for each other. I don’t even know dudes. I just don’t know.
Non-Canon Pairings That Should Have Happened
While both Neville and Luna ended up in what we can assume were healthy, happy relationships, I still wish they would have gotten together, even if it was just for a little while. I know Deathly Hallows Part 2 hints at this, but it’s definitely not mentioned or explored in the books. Still, I think they could have worked as a couple – they were both outcasts for the better part of their school years, and they became friends through the DA and liked and respected each other. In my opinion they could have made a cuter and more believable couple than either Harry and Ginny or Ron and Hermione.
STILES & DEREK (Teen Wolf)
Nominated by: Farid
The moment Stiles and Derek shared the screen in season one of Teen Wolf, their chemistry was obvious. So it’s no wonder their ship (named Sterek) took fandom by storm. Sterek quickly became a force to be reckoned with; the Teen Wolf crew even got involved. But during season three things changed, and fans noticed the shift. The two started sharing less screen time together, and Derek left after season four. For me, Stiles and Derek were meant to be together, not just due to Stiles’ hinted bisexuality, but because their personalities complimented each other. Stiles understood Derek in a way no other character did. He saved his life, and showed he cared for him many times. But for some reason, Teen Wolf didn’t go that route, and insisted on giving them female love interests. Had one of them been a female character, I believe this ship would have been made canon a long time ago.
Okay, yes, John Marston was married, but I’m not saying he should have cheated on his wife, here – I’m just saying that he and Bonnie were far more compatible, and I do feel that a lot of the game hinted toward the idea of them caring for each other as more than just friends. They were both intelligent, they could both take care of themselves, and they respected each other. Their friendship bloomed naturally and had John not had that annoying wife (I’m not just saying that because I like the idea of him and Bonnie; to me she really was just annoying) to get back to I absolutely think this pairing would have worked in the long run.
ANNABETH & PIPER (Percy Jackson series)
Nominated by: K-K
Considering the Heroes of Olympus series is based on the oft-torrid Greek and Roman mythology, it’s a little silly the great majority of its romance is bland and heteronormative (shout out to Nico di Angelo for breaking that pattern, though). This problem could have been solved at least in part by foregoing the boring will-they, won’t-they ship from the first series, Percy and Annabeth, in favor of the far superior Annabeth x Piper (aka “Pipabeth”). Theirs would have been a romance that properly honored their source material; the daughters of wisdom and beauty, the heart and the head, too-good-for-their-canon-
Ships We Love
KATNISS & PEETA (Hunger Games)
Nominated by: Tara
I will never understand how people think that Katniss “obviously” felt no romantic love for Peeta, and that seems to be the biggest argument for why they shouldn’t have gotten together. She paid attention to everything he told her, and while their relationship was for show at one point, eventually it wasn’t – to the point where other characters point out this fact. More than once. Now, I have no problem admitting that their relationship wasn’t perfect (for instance, I’m not fond of Peeta essentially pushing Katniss to have children), but outside of Katniss remaining alone, I can’t imagine her being with anyone other than Peeta. Why? Well, while I’ve certainly not experienced anything like participating in the Hunger Games (this is, after all, real life), I too suffer from PTSD, and I cannot extol the virtues of a relationship in which the other person understands your struggles enough. Katniss ended up with the right person – Peeta – because he was the one she could build a life with. He was the one who made her feel safe, who held her during her nightmares, who understood her the way no one else ever could.
The issue of who Katara should have ended up with is still a contentious one in the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” fandom. When I first watched this show, I was firmly on Team Zuko, and as a multishipper, I still love Zutara! Theirs is a beautiful exercise in foils – he rises with the sun, she rises with the moon; mothers taken by the Fire Nation; intense but different kinds of anger and sadness at the heritage they have had to relinquish in the face of terrible war. But now, with age and rewatches, I have come to see the glory of Katara’s canon pairing with Aang (a.k.a. Kataang). Katara is a fearsome, stubborn, emotions-driven character. She and Zuko have similar vengeful approaches to dealing with their trauma, while Aang offers a more peaceful perspective, one that ultimately helps Katara find balance with her past. In turn, Katara provides nigh-unconditional support for Aang thatallows him to find the strength within himself to defeat Ozai in his darkest hour.
KIEREN WALKER & SIMON MONROE (In the Flesh)
Nominated by: Angel
Kieren’s bisexuality was strongly implied in season one, but confirmed in season two with his relationship with Simon. Not only was this relationship a powerful confirmation of positive representation, but the two characters worked incredibly well together.
So much of Gilmore Girls was about relationships – both Lorelai’s and Rory’s – that it was a hugely pleasant surprise when, at the end of the series, Rory refused Logan’s proposal and moved forward on her own. To be honest, I’m so happy that she chose to focus on her career and her future without a guy in tow that I’m actually worried about what will have happened between the finale and this new season that Netflix is releasing (and what will happen in the new episodes as well). But for years I’ve been so happy with the writers’ choice to have her be single in the end, so I just couldn’t leave this one off the list.
SAMUEL VIMES & SYBIL RAMKIN (Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series)
Nominated by: K-K
Terry Pratchett was a brilliant author and his Discworld books are satirical masterpieces all, but he was not known for romance. His pairings in Discworld are often set up as generic, rom-com-esque tropes, probably so that they could be upended in delightful ways as the narratives went forward. But what is nice about Vimes and Sybil amidst the absurdity of Discworld is the benign realism of their romance. With them, Pratchett shows what happens as a good relationship moves forward, well after the puppy love fades. They still find themselves at odds because of their disparate backgrounds, but that doesn’t stop them supporting each other as they pursue their radically different interests. In the end, they are both willing to do just about anything for the betterment of Ankh-Morpork. Really, the city can be considered a sort of metaphor for their relationship: a clash of culture and class, ugly and messy much of the time – but beloved all the same.
DELENN & SHERIDAN (Babylon 5)
Nominated by: Angel
Their love united Humans and Minbari. How cool is that? Sure, there was a lot of interspecies drama along the way (and poor Delenn got a lot of crap for her transformation), but ultimately their relationship was universe-changing and that’s pretty damn beautiful.
There is something especially delightful about the meta way in which Korrasami developed. The creators did not originally intend to pair these ladies up as the endgame. And yet, as Korra’s story progressed, the organic chemistry between the characters blossomed into friendship and then something more, echoing so many LGBTQ+ people’s real-world experiences with romance. Both Korra and Asami love with abandon. But Korra is loud where Asami is quiet. Korra is reckless where Asami is thoughtful. Korra is fearsome where Asami is hesitant. It’s no wonder Asami was the only person Korra opened up to during her recovery from trauma, and it’s a no-brainer that these women will enjoy a long, happy life together.
And last but not least…
The One Fictional Relationship We Couldn’t Agree On
Some of us thought they didn’t belong together, because they were simply better as friends and we can’t see a relationship between them working in the long run (shoot, even J.K. Rowling admitted that she shouldn’t have put them together and that doing so was a sort of wish fulfillment on her part).
But then some of us believe that they really were right for each other; that they balanced each other out – for example, where Hermione is too logical and her brain is always wound up, Ron is far less serious and helps lighten things up for her.
What do you think about Ron & Hermione or the other couples listed? Do you have any favorite or not-so-favorite fictional pairings that fit into one of these three categories? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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