It’s Shipper Month at Zap2it. Throughout February 2015 we’re exploring TV relationships, both the ones viewers see on screen and those that fans form with their favorite characters and couples, and how it affects what they watch.
Great TV couples have earned a special place in pop-culture lore and fans’ hearts. Mention MerDer to long-time fans of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and you’ll get appreciative sighs. Bring up Pam and Jim to an “Office” devotee and you’ll hear paeans to their exact rightness for one another.
You know what you probably won’t hear? Any mention of Nurse Rose or McVet or Karen or Roy. Until now.
Consider the following a celebration of love lost. Raise a glass to the forgotten sides of the love triangles in some of the most deeply felt TV romances of the recent past.
To be clear: No one is proposing a world in which, say, Logan goes off into the sunset with Parker on “Veronica Mars,” or Riley ends up with Buffy. No, no, a thousand times no. But in a lot of cases, these characters’ only crime is not being someone’s OTP. They have been, to coin a phrase, ship-wrecked on the reef of writerly whims and fan expectations. So take a trip down memory lane for the almosts, the ones before The Ones, and the ones who never stood a chance.
Paolo, Julie, Joshua, Emily, Mona, Gunther, Tag, Paul, Elizabeth and a cast of thousands, ‘Friends’
Wrecked by: Ross and Rachel
Paolo was a creep, Emily was eventually written as shrill, and Tag literally ran away when he heard Rachel was pregnant, so they were somewhat false obstacles to these two lobsters finally being together. The others were a mix of short-term guest stars and actual, decent characters (Julie in particular) who were unfortunately dashed on the Ross and Rachel rocks. Especially poor Gunther.
Riley, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
Wrecked by: Buffy, Spike and his own feelings of inadequacy
“Buffy” fans may argue over whether Angel or Spike was the One for Buffy. The all-too-human Riley (Marc Blucas), however, was never quite exciting enough for the Slayer.
Andie, AJ and Dawson, ‘Dawson’s Creek’
Wrecked by: Joey and Pacey
For a good, long time over the course of “Dawson’s Creek,” it looked as though the title character and the proverbial girl next door were destined. But then Pacey. (Also, sorry, Andie and AJ. You were so much cannon fodder.)
Wrecked by: Felicity and Ben
Before he was the currently still-in-play Jake on “Scandal,” Scott Foley got third-wheeled by Felicity and the guy she cross-country stalked to college, Ben. Not even the insane do-over of the show’s final few episodes got him where he wanted to be.
Max, Rachel, Alex, Jason, Nicole and Christopher, ‘Gilmore Girls’
Wrecked by: Lorelai and Luke
Honestly? Lorelai was probably better off with Rory’s dad, Christopher, but the show insisted that grumpy shut-in Luke was her OTP. As such, Chris and those other guys — along with Luke’s former flame Rachel and brief wife Nicole — were cast aside like so much day-old coffee.
Dean, ‘Gilmore Girls’
Wrecked by: Rory and Jess
Dude built a car for Rory, but his goodhearted (if not a little controlling) nature wasn’t enough to withstand the sense that Jess knew Rory almost better than she knew herself.
Anna and Zach, ‘The O.C.’
Wrecked by: Seth and Summer
Anna Stern was the greatest first girlfriend a guy like Seth Cohen could ever hope to have, genially nudging him toward Summer. Here’s hoping she found her own great guy. Zach, refreshingly, was painted as mostly a decent guy too, although he and Seth got into a fight over Summer at their comic-book launch party.
Luke, Theresa, Lindsay, Alex, Johnny, Sadie and Volchok, ‘The O.C.’
Wrecked by: Marissa and Ryan
Rarely has a teen-drama OTP been as tortured as that of Ryan and Marissa, and rarely has it left such huge debris field in its wake.
Duncan, Piz, Hannah and Parker, ‘Veronica Mars’
Wrecked by: Veronica and Logan
The movie pretty well squashed the hopes of Team Piz, while the others never really stood a chance against the enormous heat LoVe generated.
Roy and Karen, ‘The Office’
Wrecked by: Pam and Jim
OK, so Roy (David Denman) was an insensitive jerk with an anger problem. But Karen (Rashida Jones)? Just wrong place, wrong time for Jim.
Addison, Finn/McVet and Nurse Rose, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
Wrecked by: Meredith and Derek
“Grey’s Anatomy” has laid waste to many a secondary character’s romantic hopes over its long run (looking at you, Kepner’s hunky, left-at-the-altar EMT), but MerDer is the ur-ship. Points here for making all three of these characters well-rounded people who probably didn’t deserve to get steamrolled, but such is the course of true love.
Victoria, Stella, Zoey and Robin*, ‘How I Met Your Mother’
Wrecked by: Ted’s never-ending search for The Mother
All of Ted’s (Josh Radnor) relationships — but in particular these four longer-lasting ones — led him to the Mother (Cristin Milioti).
(*Until the series finale crushed everyone’s dreams and killed her, sending him back to Robin.)
Marian, ‘Once Upon a Time’
Wrecked by: Robin and Regina
When the man you love straight-up tells you he’s going to leave you for another person, it’s probably an indication that you’re the third wheel. And when he only gets back with you because the other person pushes him to, you’re only one strike away from being out.
Tom, Brendan, Christina, Cliff, Jillian/Eyepatch, Casey and Josh, ‘The Mindy Project’
Wrecked by: Mindy and Danny
Mindy and Danny have worked surprisingly well as a couple on “The Mindy Project,” especially considering each has been a firsthand witness to the dating disasters of the other.
Edison and Mellie, ‘Scandal’
Wrecked by: Olivia and Fitz
Mellie is a badass in her own right, so she’ll be OK. And Team Fitz and Team Jake can at least agree that Edison never, ever had a chance.
Everyone, ‘The Vampire Diaries’
Wrecked by: Everyone else
Delena, Stelena, Steroline, Klaroline, Stebekah, Jalaric … there’s a portmanteau for seemingly every pairing of characters who have ever exchanged a meaningful glance on the show, and depending on which fan faction (fanction?) you ask, you’re going to get vastly different definitions of who belongs with whom, and who is the odd person/supernatural being out.
More of Zap2it’s Shipper Month: