Small-Screen Romance: The 10 Best TV Couples of All Time!
After surveying 1,500 singles, we have the answer - in fact, we've uncovered the 10 best TV couples of all time. From will-they/won’t-they pairings, to on-again/off-again matches, to rock-solid romances, these relationships are officially the nation's #couplegoals. One word of caution - there's a spoiler alert in place for the TV shows below!
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The top 10 best TV couples according to UK singles
10. Frank and Pat Butcher (Eastenders)
Alright, alright, so perhaps they were not the most ‘Hollywood’ couple ever to grace our television screens, and their relationship definitely had more than its fair share of rocky moments (we’re looking at you, Frank) , but the Butchers are a hard couple to forget, firmly cemented as an iconic duo of British television.
Frank and Pat are a great example of the kind of tragic couple that never quite manage to find their happy ending, but they certainly gave us a few laughs and thrills on their journey. The most bizarre, hilarious, and baffling of these being, without a shadow of a doubt, Frank’s nude doorstep arrival. It’s the exact sort of oddball un-romantic romance that delights British viewers and leaves the rest of the world scratching its head.
9. Sam and Diane (Cheers)
A lot of the ultimate TV couples have one thing in common - the delicious tension of a will-they/won't-they, on-again/off-again romance. Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) embody this. Over 5 seasons (and a special finale episode), Sam and Diane captivated viewers with their opposites-attract love. But here's the kicker; they could never quite make it work. The interesting thing is that this didn't put people off. Despite things ending with a broken engagement, they were still voted the third-best TV couple of all time.
Here, their crackling chemistry is on full display as both Sam and Diane try to get the other to admit to having feelings. The only question is: who will crack first?
8. Scott and Charlene (Neighbours)
This list just wouldn’t be complete without mention of the 80s most iconic Aussie TV couple. Neighbours’ notorious Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan) and Charlene Mitchell (Kylie Minogue) were arguably the supercouple of the decade. After getting off to a bumpy start (the couple’s respective families were locked in an oh-so gripping soap feud), Scott and Charlene ended up getting wedded in Episode 523. Not only did Scott’s dashing mullet and Charlene’s glamorous dress capture the nation, the episode clocked 19.6million viewers, making it one of the highest rating soap opera episodes in TV history.
7. Marge and Homer (The Simpsons)
Yes, one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable couples on earth is a cartoon. The Simpsons needs no introduction of course, having been a staple of evening television for some thirty years. The mass appeal of the show came in no small part from the relationship between the two heads of the uncouth cartoon family – Marge and Homer. Both had their habits and their flaws (mostly Homer, to be fair to long-suffering Marge), but the beauty of their marriage was that they loved each other both despite and for their foibles, and through thick and thin, they loved one another intensely and stuck by one another. If ever there’s a couple with ‘future-proof’ written all over them, it’s Marge and Homer.
6. Jack and Vera Duckworth (Coronation Street)
Two of the most well-loved characters to have ever trod the cobbles of Coronation Street, Vera and Jack Duckworth had viewers laughing along with them for 32 years. Like all soap opera couples, the Duckworths had more than their share of drama and were famed for their sweet, silly bickering, but what tied the couple together was their utterly believable chemistry. It was difficult to choose a clip that summarised the couple, because every interaction between the two is wonderful; the acting and writing are perfect, and it’s this that has immortalised Jack and Vera as the nation’s grandparents.
5. Mulder and Scully (The X-Files)
If you haven't watched the show, you might think that Fox's The X-Files is all aliens, conspiracy theories, and monsters-of-the-week. And while there certainly is a lot of that, there's romance too. In fact, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) might just be one of TV's great will-they/won't-they couples. Over 10 seasons they've moved from platonic partners to something far richer. Will they end up together? Only time (and perhaps the current revival) will tell. But we want to believe.
In this moment from Season 7, Mulder and Scully kiss as the new millennium dawns. It was a moment many fans had been waiting for; a moment so major it's still being talked about.1
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4. Carrie and Mr. Big (Sex and the City)
Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) had a number of significant relationships over the course of the show, but none ever quite measured up to the love she felt for Mr. Big (Chris Noth). They had to do a lot of growing to be together, and they hit a lot of road-blocks along the way - marriages to other people, affairs, breakups - but throughout it all they carried a flame for each other. That flame saw them through six seasons and two movies; and right into fourth place on our list of the best TV couples.
In this clip, Big has announced he's moving to Napa. Carrie can't imagine New York without him and so, even though they're not together at this point, she goes to say goodbye - and it's clear that the torch they carry for each other could still have a spark.
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3. Gavin and Stacey (Gavin and Stacey)
The only long-distance couple on the list, Gavin and Stacey fall for one another after a double date leads to a night in a hotel room, and from then on their relationship grows as they travel to see one another, meeting friends and parents in the process. The young, breezy atmosphere of the show, along with memorable side characters and excellent comedy, makes for a sitcom that is much loved to this day - despite finishing in 2010. However, as with other entries on this list, the key touchstone of romance – and what constitutes a good couple – is proven once again to be friendship, understanding, shared joy and, ideally, brilliant accents.
2. Basil and Sybil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers)
Despite only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers ever being created (a mere six hours worth of television!), and despite the showing finishing 39 years ago, it seems the married owners of the dysfunctional hotel still hold a special place in the hearts of the British public. It seems a theme has appeared over the course of the vote: in the UK, we often prefer messy, funny romantic couples over out-and-out passion.
Sybil was indisputably the leader of the pair, with Basil often turning blue in the face with the exertion of keeping the rapid implosion of his hair-brained schemes from becoming exposed. Affectionate nicknames tossed back and forth between the pair include “ageing, brilliantined stick insect", “my little piranha fish”, and "you rancorous, coiffured old sow". Despite the silly, slapstick nature of their relationship, there’s love at the core, especially evident in the ‘Anniversary’ episode.
1. Ross and Rachel (Friends)
And so we come to best TV couple of all. For those who watched TV in the 90s (everyone), it should come as no surprise that number one is from NBC's ever-iconic Friends - its Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). As with many couples on this list, their love may have had its ups and downs, but it UK singles still hold the couple in the highest regard, even 14 years after Friends went off the air.
As it turns out, their era-defining TV romance may be perennially popular for a reason: it fits several of the relationship templates UK singles like to see on TV. 36% of those surveyed pick will-they/won’t-they as the ultimate type of TV romance, 29% opt instead for a happily-ever-after ending, and 27% think on-again/off-again is number one. In fact, there’s only one mould Ross and Rachel don’t fit: the tragic ending, a favourite for 4%.
In this clip, it's the moment 90s' romantics were waiting for with baited breath - the first proper kiss between this on-again/off-again duo. With hindsight, we know that break-ups and make-ups and babies lay in this couple's future, but at the time, this kiss was all that mattered.
So, why do we love watching TV romances so much? EliteSingles Relationship Psychologist Zoe Coetzee explains that, just as we get scared watching a horror movie, we also feel the release of serotonin and feel good love hormones watching a romance unfold on TV. People connect with fictional characters through empathetic feelings, and neuroscience research has shown that the same hormones and chemicals associated with stress and attachment in real life situations are released while watching TV. So a TV romance can actually emulate the feelings of a real life romance – just one of the reasons why TV couples are so popular!
Did we cover your all-time favourite TV romance? Is our list missing one of the best TV couples of all time? Let us know below, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org