THE TOP 13… GENRE TV COUPLES
From the FBI’s finest to Stargate Command’s bravest to the Jossverse’s most tragically doomed…
by The Geek Speak Staff
Elsewhere this issue we’ve been celebrated this Valentine’s Season of Love, for really no other reason than we never have before. With that in mind, it seemed to us that there could be no better way to explore those ephemeral matters of the heart than to take a look back at our favorite couples on TV — because what’s more romantic than watching TV, right? Whether they end up with a Happily Ever After or a Might Have Been, married with kids or stoically, self-sacrificingly alone doesn’t matter here. What we’re interested in is their journey (often strung out over multiple seasons, and occasional movies), their fascinating, usually frustrating, journey from enemies to friends to lovers to icons.
And so, with this… Happy Valentine’s Day!
Portrayed by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
SKINNER: You told me Mulder wouldn’t allow it. Wouldn’t let me ruin my career over this. Over him. But what about you, Scully? I mean, my god, you’ve got even more at stake.
SCULLY: [voice cracking, nearly crying] I-I can’t take the chance that I’m never going to see him again.
– “Without” (08.02)
Really, who didn’t love The X-Files? The show signaled a sharp turn for science fiction, and had a large and rabid fan base; for the seven people who have never seen it, the show followed FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, an ardent believer in the existence of extraterrestrials, psychic phenomena, Sasquatch, Atlantis, and everything else short of Scientology. He is also dangerously paranoid of the government for which he works. In an attempt to rein him in, the Bureau assigns as his partner Special Agent Dana Scully. She is a doctor, scientist, skeptic and pretty damned hot, to boot. The show (particularly the early seasons) was an ebb and flow of disagreements, frustration and underlying sexual tension between the two, set to a backdrop of general weirdness. Interestingly enough, in the original cut of the pilot episode Scully was romantically engaged, but the network asked to have that cut, in hopes of creating the tension.
To really appreciate Mulder and Scully as a couple, one must view them through the lens of the time period in which they existed. In the 1990s, our male role models were sullen and distrustful. Our female role models were strong and angry. The X-Files gave us a male/female partnership that was smart, disenfranchised, and armed. The internet was brand new, and still too slow for streaming video. Message boards ruled the day, and the question of whether the inevitable Mulder/Scully coupling should occur was second only to “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” The so-called “Relationshippers” (later: shippers) took to ICQ (remember ICQ???) in droves, crying out for their two favorite Federal Agents to make the beast with two backs, only to be ignored.
In 1998, the first feature film, The X-Files: Fight the Future was released, and the sexual tension continued to grow. Mulder and Scully are on the verge of the first kiss, the magic moment all of those still-frustrated shippers have waited for, when Scully passes out, having been stung by a bee poisoned with an extraterrestrial virus. (Pretty cliché, right?). As everyone would predict, the film ends with Mulder rescuing Scully from an alien laboratory/spaceship hidden under the Antarctic ice, just ratcheting up the tension that much more. A follow-up film entitled The X-Files: Duchovny Needs Work (or something like that) was released in 2008, and is set some years later, after the two had linked up romantically. As it turns out, that tension was important to the show, as the characters were flat and uninteresting this time around. The 2008 film was poorly received, particularly by the core fan base, leading to the proposal of this universal agreement: It never existed. Mulder and Scully exist as they did fifteen years ago: driven, paranoid, still armed, and on the verge of something that keeps getting closer, but may never happen.
– Chris Nagy
HONORABLE X-FILES MENTIONS: Reyes and Doggett, Mulder and Krycek
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
Played by Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz
BUFFY: I killed Angel. Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything I had to be with… I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life, and I put a sword through his heart because I had to.
Buffy and Angel… can you get any more star-crossed? Probably not. Buffy is a Slayer, the Slayer, a teenage girl chosen to kill vampires and save the world on a bi-weekly basis. Angel is a vampire, and sure, when they met he was a do-gooding vampire cursed with a soul, but he had also spent a good deal of his two hundred plus years ravaging his way across Europe and much of Asia. I think we might have a problem here. Still, despite their differences, the chemistry between the pair was evident right from the beginning of the series, and carried through into the final season of Angel, even though the two rarely actually saw each other in the final five years of their tumultuous onscreen relationship. The passion that Buffy and Angel felt for each other was intense every step of the way, fitting in perfectly with both teenage angst storylines and various apocalypses. Angel does get some competition down the line, as does Buffy – in the unlikely person of Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) – but everyone knows these two are meant to be together. Once Buffy’s cookies are done, or something.
– Kellie Sheridan
HONORABLE BUFFY MENTIONS: Willow and Oz, Willow and Tara, Buffy and Riley, Buffy and Spike, Xander and Cordelia, Xander and Anya, Giles and Jenny, Spike and Drusilla.
Played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill
THE DOCTOR: You’re very sure? This could be the real world.
AMY: It can’t. Rory isn’t here. I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know until right now. I just want him.
– “Amy’s Choice” (31.07)
Introduced in the very first episode of the Eleventh Doctor’s reign “The Eleventh Hour” (31.01), Amy appeared to be the popular feisty girl destined to be the Doctor’s Companion, and Rory was her slightly wimpish best friend who was clearly deeply in unrequited love with her. But then it turned out that they were getting married! And then it turned out that Amy would choose the reality of Rory over the fantasy of her Raggedy-Man Doctor (“Amy’s Choice” [31.07]). So, Amy and Rory did get married (after Rory died, Amy kind of died, and Rory waited two thousand years for her as a resurrected Auton version of himself in the most epic love arc ever). Of course they lived happily ever after with the Doctor in the TARDIS…well, kind of in between having their daughter Melody be abducted and turned into the sassy River Song (Alex Kingston), becoming the Doctor’s in-laws, and not to mention Rory dying several more times. But they did end up living happily together in the past in New York when Amy chose Rory once more after he was trapped there by the Weeping Angels, even though it did tragically mean the end of the Ponds travelling with the Doctor.
– Rachel Day
HONORABLE DOCTOR WHO MENTIONS: The Doctor and Sarah-Jane, The Doctor and Rose, The Doctor and…well, pretty much every Companion that has stepped foot on the TARDIS, and let’s not forget the anti-ship, The Doctor and the Master.
Played by Ben Browder and Claudia Black
CRICHTON: That scares the hell out of me… From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I could never see the end.
AERYN: What scares me is I always could.
– “Bad Timing” (04.22)
In early 2000 America had just received a new science fiction show from Australia and we were introduced to one of the most badass and angst-filled couples in all of genre, John Crichton and Aeryn Sun. When Crichton first meets Aeryn, he finds out that despite looking quite human and attractive, she is also an alien, but when has interspecies dating ever stood in the way of true love? Aeryn, for her part, finds that due to her having spent too much time with Crichton and saved his life a time or two, she is stripped of her rank in the Peacekeeper Army and must slum it with John and his misfit group of aliens aboard their living spaceship. The two don’t hit it off at first, but like any proper ship-worthy couple, you know they are going to wind up in bed by the end, if only because the two characters are constantly bickering over the tiniest of details.
Aeryn and John are repeatedly thrown against overwhelming odds while facing down sadistic aliens, renegade generals, space-plagues, various forms of madness—the list goes on. They escaped annihilation on a few separate occasions and it was always because of the delightful mix of Aeryn’s handiness with automatic weapons and John’s quick-thinking. As the series progresses, the couple realize their feelings for each other and John stops looking for a way home and instead looks for a life with Aeryn. Of course, the universe had other plans for them, including actually finding a way back to Earth, John deciding to leave Earth, Aeryn’s death, a double of John and his death, Aeryn’s resurrection (it is a sci-fi show after all), and more death. Still John and Aeryn had great chemistry and just enough angst to keep us riveted to our televisions.
– Kim Sorensen
HONORABLE FARSCAPE MENTIONS: D’Argo and Chiana, Zhaan and Stark, Pilot and Moya
Played by Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping
JACK: All right. Wait a minute. Let…Let me get something straight here. Engaged?
SAM: It is theoretically possible.
JACK: It’s against regulations!
SAM: I’m talking physics, sir. Though the whole concept of alternate realities, entire alternate universes, was predicted by Einstein a long time ago…
– “Politics” (01.21)
When the hit movie Stargate was turned into the even more awesome television series Stargate SG-1, the introduction of Captain Samantha Carter was definitely intended to create some sparks with leading hero Colonel Jack O’Neill. From the outset, the show had them seeking each other out sexually under the influence of an alien virus, trapped on an ice-planet snuggling for warmth with each other, and engaged to be married in an alternate universe (this is canon, not fan fiction)! In season four, the show took the unresolved sexual tension a step further when the two were forced to admit their feelings to prove they weren’t brainwashed but because of their duty to the Air Force, its regulations and to the wider Stargate program and mission, they agreed to leave their confessions “in the room”. Cue much angst over the next four seasons with Sam getting engaged to Pete (David DeLuise), Jack finding comfort with Kerry (Clare Carey), until finally they dropped the significant others, Jack declared he would ‘always’ be there for Carter, and they went fishing. Unfortunately, despite protests through the next two seasons of the show and two movies (which only featured Richard Dean Anderson briefly in guest appearances) about the ambiguity of whether they went fishing or fishing, there was never an explicit scene showing that the couple had indeed become a romantic couple. But the ambiguity also means that the audience can believe what it wants and most choose to believe they did end up together because who doesn’t love a happy ending?
– Rachel Day
HONORABLE STARGATE MENTIONS: Daniel and Sha’re, Daniel and Vala
Firefly and its feature film sequel Serenity
Played by Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk
WASH: I mean, I’m the one she swore to love, honor and obey.
MAL: Listen—she swore to obey?
WASH: Well, no, not… But that’s just my point! You she obeys! She obeys you! There’s obeying going on right under my nose!
– “War Stories” (01.10)
When Zoe met Wash, she was a closed-off military veteran and second-in-command to the fugitive Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), and he was a laid-back goofball of a pilot-for-hire with a penchant for loud shirts and the most questionable facial hair this side of the Misty Mountains. “There’s just something about him I don’t like,” Zoe mused to Captain Mal. We’re not sure when it happened, but that changed, and soon enough Zoe was defying her captain for the first and only time in her life to marry Wash. Each brought something to the table the other needed — Wash softened Zoe’s hard edges and Zoe infused Wash’s spine with a little starch. And while Wash was usually more than happy to let Zoe be the family badass, Zoe was wise enough to let Wash be the hero on occasion… as long as he stayed (mostly) safe while doing it. And their obvious regard for one another was a bright spot in a show that occasionally went to some very dark places. On the subject of which, we’re just going to pretend that the ending of Serenity never happened. Curse you, Joss Whedon, for your sudden yet inevitable and gleefully sadistic plot twists!
– Kate Nagy
HONORABLE FIREFLY MENTIONS: Mal and Inara, Simon and Kaylee, Jayne and Vera
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Played by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis
LWAXANA: You had your chance with Commander Riker. Look how you ruined that.
TROI: I did not ruin anything! We’ve become very good friends.
LWAXANA: Well, all the better; you certainly wouldn’t wanna marry an enemy.
– “Menage à Troi” (03.24)
Right from the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we knew there was much history between these two officers, both newly-assigned to the Enterprise-D. She, a half-human empath from the planet Betazed, he a rakish space cowboy of the Kirkian school, their off-screen, pre-series antics proved to be a source of much speculation throughout the series’ seven year run – and the subject of two best-selling novels – their love epitomized by the lyrical, made-up endearment “Imzadi.” (Betazoid for “beloved,” don’t you know.) It was left to the movies to wrap things up for this long-hinted at, monstrously stubborn pair: the questionable quality of Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis may have disappointed fans throughout Sector 001 to varying degrees, but they will always be notable for their romantic aspect, with the former giving a glimpse of domestic, couple-bathing bliss, and the latter offering up their wedding—which, while largely incidental to proceedings, still managed to raise a smile from even the most disinterested of Trekkies and –ers. Until Data died, anyway.
– Rachel Hyland
HONORABLE STAR TREK MENTIONS: Picard and Crusher, Worf and Jadzia Dax, Bashir and Ezri Dax, Kira and Odo, Chakotay and Janeway, Paris and B’Elanna and, of course, Kirk and Spock.
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Played by Tahomoh Penikett and Grace Park
STARBUCK: He knows she’s a machine. He doesn’t care. He loves her anyway.
– “Home, Part 2″ (02.07)
Finding love is hard. Finding love in a post-apocalyptic war after being left for dead on a planet controlled by the Cylon enemy is even harder. However that is precisely what happened in Sci-Fi (SyFy) Channel’s 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. Karl “Helo” Agathon, left on his own on the Cylon-occupied planet Caprica is “rescued” by a Cylon he thinks is his pilot friend Sharon (call sign “Boomer”). The two travel around Caprica and Helo, who has always had feelings for Sharon, falls in love, and despite her programming she falls in love with him as well. Their love allows her to conceive a child and they return to Galactica with a lot of hostility because of another Sharon’s attempted assassination of the beloved Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos). Love is complicated in the apocalypse remember?
Helo and Sharon – the latter of whom later became part of the colonial fleet and went by the call sign Athena – had a huge amount of problems to overcome: racism, friends turning their backs on them, the “death” of their daughter Hera, and the discovery that their daughter was still alive and taken from them by President Roslin. The episode “Rapture” has one of the saddest moments for the couple as Athena begs Helo to kill her so she can resurrect aboard the Cylon ship and rescue her daughter. Thankfully the plan works, the Agathon family is reunited and they face many more obstacles including the return of Boomer (the Sharon that shot Adama) and her assault on Athena, seduction of Helo, and kidnapping of Hera. Yet throughout four seasons and every kind of problem Ron Moore could throw at them they survived both with their lives and their love intact.
HONORABLE BSG MENTIONS: Kara “Starbuck” Thrace and Lee “Apollo” Adama, Admiral Bill Adama and President Laura Roslin
La Femme Nikita
Played by Roy Dupuis and Peta Wilson
JURGEN: Michael loves you Nikita. I could grow to love you, but I could also live without you. I’m not sure if he can.
– “Third Person” (02.03)
There was always something infectious about the digitized conspiracy world of 90’s black ops caper La Femme Nikita — most probably the searing relationship of Operatives Michael and Nikita, who spent five seasons at at the center of it all. He, a soft-voiced Frenchman with an impassive face and a lethal accuracy, she a statuesque beauty with authority issues, their dangerous liaison is full of heat and meaningful glances by the score. Though they had their ups and downs – it turned out he had a wife and kid; she developed feelings for the guy from Grease 2 – there was really nothing that could keep them from the occasional fandom-pleasing night of post-mission…er… de-briefing. Eventually, the series ended on an ambiguous note (and we really couldn’t have expected any different), and though successors to the throne Shane West and Maggie Q have certainly brought the pretty on the rebooted Nikita, to anyone who experienced the sheer of the original, their attempt at romance can only be considered pale by comparison.
– Rachel Hyland
Played by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker
GUNN: I gotta be straight with you, ’cause this is kinda blowin’ my mind.
WESLEY: Tell me.
GUNN: Fred and I are getting’ back together! She was so keyed up from last night’s fight, she asked me over. We ended up talkin’ for hours like old times. Then, all of a sud—I can’t even keep this up, ’cause your face is gonna make me weep. Wes, I am so messin’ with you.
– “Hole in the World” (05.15)
Buffy and Angel may have had it tough, but nothing cuts quite as deep for Buffyverse fans as the relationship between Winifred “Fred” Burkle and Wesley Wyndham-Price. These two nerds were clearly made for each other, but could never seem to find the right moment to consummate their joint adorkableness. Until they finally did… and then Fred was almost immediately killed, while her body lived on, inhabited by an ancient, blue-haired god. Not good. Until Fred’s personality started to peek through… and then Wesley died. It was pure, gut-wrenching heartbreak every time. The worst part is that it’s hard to even recall a happy memory that these two shared as a couple. Despite all the time Wesley spent pining after her dream girl, their relationship was ultimately fleeting, but still managed to bring up that soul mate vibe that Joss Whedon does so well.
– Kellie Sheridan
HONORABLE ANGEL MENTIONS: Fred and Gunn, Wesley and Lilah
Xena, Warrior Princess
Played by Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor
XENA: Gabrielle, if I only had thirty seconds to live, this is how I’d want to live them – looking into your eyes.
GABRIELLE: Stop this. Stop it.
XENA: Always remember… I love you.
– “A Friend in Need” (06.21)
A massively successful spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, this show followed the adventures of the warrior Xena who was trying to find redemption for her past crimes and evil deeds. In the first episode she meets Gabrielle, a farm girl who becomes her travelling companion, and in many episodes the voice of her conscience. Whether the two women were lovers was the subject of much debate with those against pointing at their many male lovers and those advocating that they were pointing to a hefty amount of subtext, not least the final episode where Gabrielle lovingly revives Xena in a mouth-to-mouth way, and the pair are declared soul mates who will find each other through all their reincarnations. Lucy Lawless also later proclaimed in an interview with Lesbian News magazine in 2003 that “They’re married, man!”
Played by Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly
ALEC: Have they ever even once said “I love you”? No. No, Max, Max would choke on the words. Logan, eh, he’d say it…in an email. [imitating Max] “Oh, he’s not my boyfriend, we were never even like that, it was never the right time…” No, Logan is a repressed WASP and Max is…a broken toy. The two of them will never work out together.
– “Borrowed Time” (02.12)
Somehow, the couples that are most meant to be are the ones that will always have something standing between them. Dark Angel’s writers bent over backwards to keep these two apart, usually subjecting Logan to all kinds of tragedy to make sure he and Max would focus on the bigger, post-apocalyptic picture rather than their budding relationship. Dark Angel was not a show about making goo-goo eyes at your crush, but we still spent all of two seasons balling our hands into fists in frustration as Max and Logan remained apart despite a glaring mutual attraction. Even once they acknowledged their feelings, it never worked out as planned. But what it came down to was that Max and Logan were a team ahead of anything else. Save the world first, fall madly in love later—they both knew what their priorities were. That’s how we know they would still be going strong after the show was cancelled all too soon. NOW KISS!
(Interesting side note: Some people had trouble believing the chemistry between these two, which is odd because their time on Dark Angel began a three year real life relationship between Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly, despite their twelve-year age difference. Eventually, it came to a crashing halt, whether because Weatherly came to his senses or because Alba became actually famous, we’ll never know.)
– Kellie Sheridan
Played by Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson
Special Agent Olivia Dunham was so devastated by the loss of her partner (Mark Valley) in mysterious circumstances that she embarked upon a quest for answers. Answers that led her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), an expert in an area of study known as “Fringe Science,” where the possible and the impossible meet. To gain access to Dr. Bishop, then ensconced in a psychiatric facility, Olivia must locate his estranged son Peter, and convince him to help her. Before the end of the very first episode, it is evident that the gorgeous, haunted FBI agent and the charming, clever dilettante are made for each other, an impression eventually borne out after several seasons and with more than a few obstacles thrown in their way (his dad experimented on her as a child, he’s from an alternate universe, she is replaced by an alternate universe version of herself, he is erased from the timeline—you know, the usual couple stuff). Happily, the final episode of the show set all to rights with their wacky world, and it is to be hoped that they manage to keep their daughter both with them and alive this time around, otherwise apparently Peter will go crazy and they’ll just have to start all over again.
– Rachel Hyland
HONORABLE FRINGE MENTION: Fauxlivia and Lincoln
– The Geek Speak Staff
Why The Top 13?
Sure, there’s Saturn 3, Babylon 5, Blake’s 7 and District 9. But what number could be geekier than 13? Not only is there its inherent creepiness, but there’s also The 13th Immortal, The 13th Warrior and The 13th Floor. There’s spooky gore-fest Friday the 13th and those plucky, kick-ass comic book kids, Gen13. There’s Warehouse 13, The X-Files‘ oft-referenced 1013, and the 13 tribes of Kobol. Plus, the Munsters lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. So, we at Geek Speak Magazine bring you the Top 13 of… well, whatever strikes our fancy.
Just be glad we didn’t elect to go with The Top 1701…
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