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The Most Iconic TV Love Triangles of All Time

Love triangles.

When you read those words, one of two things happens.

A) You stare at the screen in disgust, then start writing a 50-page dissertation on why you hate them.

B) You clamour excitedly for a new source of drama.

Drama-seekers, today is your lucky day. I have cultivated a list of the most iconic love triangles in TV history.

Love triangles are a dime a dozen, but to reach iconic status, it has to meet these criteria:

  1. Both love interests could have realistically ended up with the person
  2. There was no easy consensus on who to choose which sparked fan discourse
  3. The love triangle was an important or long-running part of the story

Without further adieu, let’s get to the list! (Spoilers ahead.)

5. Rory & Dean vs. Rory & Jess vs. Rory & Logan (Gilmore Girls)

Ah yes, the show that had a reboot only for them to not answer the one question everyone wanted them to. Rory had three very different men vying for her heart. There was Dean, a literal puppy in human form. Then there was Jess, the douchey hot guy (emphasis on hot). Finally, there was Logan, the privileged charmer.

Most people are team Jess, although all three men have their devoted fans. I’d argue that all three men had their moments of being the most likable option, but in Dean’s case, it was when the other two guys hadn’t been introduced yet. Sorry Dean. The fan popularity pecking order is probably Jess > Logan > Dean.

I liked them all, but I to have gotta go with Jess!

4. Chuck & Blair vs. Blair & Nate vs. Nate & Serena vs. Serena & Dan vs. Dan & Blair (Gossip Girl)

If I had to describe Gossip Girl using one word it would be “orgy.”

The legendary Blair Cornelia Waldorf dated all three men at one point or another. Nate was her first love who was just not that into her, but he had great hair and that’s really all that matters. Chuck was the resident womanizer with emotional baggage. Dan and Blair are what happened when the writers ran out of ideas. They were both just like: “We’ve hooked-up everyone else on this show, should we give it a try?” Serena and Nate dated briefly and fizzled out, which left many fans hoping for more. As for Dan and Serena? They were the OG couple on the show and arguably the most important one to the story.

I think I’m team nobody because Blair was the only character I really liked. Chuck and Blair in seasons one and two are passion-filled perfection. And then he ruins it and I vacillate between loving their chemistry and hating his guts.

3. Buffy & Angel vs. Buffy & Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Out of all the shows on this list, Buffy solidifies its iconic status for popularizing brooding vampire bad boys and creating a truly divisive split between the fans.

Angel was her first love and let’s be real: Buffy never loved anyone as much as she loved him. He was a bit cringe sometimes but I’ll let it slide because he has zero social skills, which is honestly a mood. Then entered Spike, with his leather jacket and charm. He’s a cold-blooded killer until circumstances force him to work with the heroes and you can probably guess the rest. The fans are so split on this one and I can’t blame them.

Angel and Buffy hold a special place in my heart but I’d probably go with Spike. I also kind of resent this show for making me root for a guy named Spike.

2. Jane & Michael vs. Jane & Raphael (Jane the Virgin)

Alright, confession time: I haven’t watched most of this show, but the arguments over the main love triangle were seemingly never-ending. Michael is sweet, wholesome and funny. You can totally understand why Jane is with him when the show starts. And then there’s Rafael, the guy whose sperm she was accidentally inseminated with. One could almost call it fate.

I think the divisiveness of the love triangle had to do with the unexpected popularity of Michael. There was this comical cliché of Jane and Raphael meeting and falling for each other that was clearly predestined to be the story, but the writers forgot to make Michael unlikable. So instead of being the “other guy,” he was a legitimate option for Jane all the way through.

I knew where it was heading right away and didn’t really care one way or another because I liked them both. But more people seem to be team Raphael and I get it!

Honourable Mentions:

Robin & Barney vs. Robin & Ted (How I Met Your Mother)

Robin and Barney are the only option because Ted has the personality of soggy lettuce.

Rachel & Joey vs. Rachel & Ross (Friends)

Ross and Rachel were good until “wE WeRe oN A BrEAk.” Joey and Rachel didn’t work as a couple for me, but I know a lot of people disagree.

1. Elena & Stephen vs. Elena & Damon (The Vampire Diaries)

Was there ever any question as to what would be number one? This show has a lot of iconic romances, these two are just the tip of the iceberg. What sets this love triangle apart from the others is that the entire show hinges on Damon and Stephen fighting over the love of Nina Dobrev clones. The romance isn’t just important, it’s the main story.

There’s Stephen, the diary-logging reformed bad-boy with serious emotional issues and then there’s Damon, the blood-sucking unreformed bad-boy with serious emotional issues.

Watching the first and second season, it’s easy to see why fans got attached to Stephen and Elena. It’s also easy to understand why people got bored of their constant on-and-off relationship. Like every love triangle on this list, it’s somewhat divisive, but the popularity of Damon and Elena is unmatched.

I actually made the jump from Stephen to Damon as the seasons progressed, so I totally understand rooting for both of them. But ultimately, I think Damon and Elena have a better story and a more exciting dynamic.

There you have it, those are my picks for the most iconic TV love triangles of all time. Did you agree with who each main character ended up with? Was any couple snubbed from this list? Feel free to weigh in!

Ria Visweswaran

Wilfrid Laurier '22

Ria is a second-year student with a passion for the arts and literature. Her favourite things include baby elephants, purple tulips and raspberry tea. When she's not reading, you can find her perusing the campus for good coffee spots.