Unnecessary Liaisons: 15 TV Couplings That Never Should Have Happened

The “will they or won’t they?” dynamic has been a staple of television since the very beginning of the medium, but just because two people can get together doesn’t mean that they should get together. Bullz-Eye decided to take a look back through our favorite TV series and consider some of the more ill-begotten romances that have taken place over the years. Have we missed any? Or do you disagree with some of our selections? Let us know in the comments!

1. Rachel & Joey, “Friends”

Given that just about everyone has had a crush on a friend at some point in their lives, it made sense that a show called “Friends” would make use of that concept, and in addition to the long-running “will they or won’t they” of the Ross and Rachel relationship, Monica and Chandler proved to be a surprisingly effective combination as well. But Rachel and Joey…? That’s just taking things a step too far.

Actually, the two never took their relationship to the toppermost of the poppermost, if you will, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The storyline began with Joey (Matt LeBlanc) suffering through a major crush on Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), one which she ultimately decided was worth risking their friendship to expand into something more. When they tried to get down and dirty, however, Rachel kept finding herself instinctually slapping Joey’s hands back, and Joey found that he’d lost his gift for unstrapping bras. Attempts to loosen each other up with champagne failed just as miserably, and in the end, the two decided that the problem was that they’d become better friends over the years than Monica and Chandler were when they became a couple.

Some have questioned whether the awkwardness between Aniston and LeBlanc during their romantic scenes was behind the decision to stop the Rachel / Joey relationship dead in its tracks, but let’s chalk that up to acting, as it seems far more likely that the writers just wanted to have a bit of fun with the characters. But thank God the fun ended when it did. – Will Harris

2. Ray & Jenna, “Dallas”

“Dallas” is a series overflowing with mismatched couples and people who are just altogether wrong for each other. As it’s a soap opera, that sort of stuff goes with the territory. So it of course stands to reason that the “Dallas” coupling ending up on this list is actually rather harmonious, all things considered, anyway. Farm hand and rancher Ray Krebbs (Steve Kanaly) hooking up with and marrying little miss screw loose Jenna Wade (Priscilla Presley)? Gimme a break.

Jenna had a nearly lifelong attachment to Ray’s brother, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), which mercifully crumbled – mercifully, I say, because this woman was batshit crazy. Given the sheer hell Bobby went through with her – nearly all of which Ray was witness to – it made no sense after his marriage to the rock that was Donna (Susan Howard) ended, that he would fall into the arms of this emotional basket case. Worst of all though is how the couple was eventually written off the series: They moved to Europe. Ray Krebbs leaving Texas to move to Europe is a piece of off-screen character development that has to boggle the mind of even the most forgiving “Dallas” aficionado. Ray Krebbs was Texas.

Man, I hope he at least found a flock of sheep to keep him busy on those cold European winter nights, because one thing’s for certain, that nutty woman had to have had another breakdown, probably near the border of France and Germany. – Ross Ruediger

3. Sayid & Shannon, “Lost”

For a show that prided itself on great characters and the various relationships they forged during their time on the island, “Lost” still had its share of questionable partnerships, especially of the romantic variety. But while we were never big fans of the ongoing love triangle between Jack, Kate and Sawyer, the relationship that rang the most untrue was undoubtedly Sayid and Shannon.

Though it might have made sense on paper – Shannon needed someone to fill the protector role after Boone was killed, and there wasn’t a better candidate (no pun intended) around than Sayid – the whole romance came out of left field, forcing the audience to blindly accept that they had fallen in love within a matter of days. Thankfully, it didn’t last long, as Shannon was the next major castaway to bite the dust when Ana Lucia accidentally shot her. But it wasn’t the last we saw of the couple, as they were reunited in the season finale to spend eternity together in the afterlife.

It was a revelation that threw most viewers for a loop. After all, wasn’t Sayid’s one true love supposed to be Nadia? Then why did he end up with the blonde bimbo? It certainly left a sour taste in our mouths – one that not even a cold Dharma beer could cure. – Jason Zingale

4. Niles & Daphne, “Frasier”

Don’t get us wrong. We love Niles Crane (David Hyde-Pierce). We really love Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves). We even loved it that super-effete psychiatrist Niles had an enormous case of the hots for the down-to-earth yet adorably eccentric physical therapist. As long as Daphne remained oblivious to the obvious cravings of the poorly married, sexually frustrated Niles, it was a reliable and emotionally sound source of laughs that demonstrated both Leeves and Hyde-Pierce’s remarkable comic skills. Then, Niles divorced the eternally unseen Maris and the writers decided to have Daphne finally notice Niles’ affection and, worse, return it.

Aside from losing a great running gag, the fact of the matter was that the hugely neurotic, hugely educated dweeb with his passions for opera and wine clubs had little in common with an empathetic, slightly goofy child of the English working class. It was easy to see why Niles would be attracted to Daphne, but hard to imagine why she’d feel the same way, or what they’d actually talk about or do together. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the consummation of the relationship and their eventual marriage coincided with the rapid creative degeneration of “Frasier” in its later seasons. Sometimes the worst curse can be the granting of a fondest wish. – Bob Westal

5. Conor & Cordelia, “Angel”

When you talk about “relationships from hell,” it doesn’t get that much more literal than this particular romance from the “Buffy” spin-off’s penultimate season. Viewers screamed, and not in a good way, when heroic vampire Angel’s theoretically impossible teenage human son Conor (Vincent Kartheiser) took up with 20-something demon hunter Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). Given that Cordy had been in a quasi-parental role with the barely-of-age Conor and had occasionally committed osculation with his vamp dad, the term “ick!” and references to Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn filled fan message boards. In any case, the whole thing was dreadfully out of character for the increasingly compassionate and morally astute Ms. Chase.

Conor and Cordelia kissing in Angel

Since this is Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse, the real Cordy’s consciousness was supernaturally out of the loop and the whole thing turned out to be a set-up for a creepy pregnancy (more cries of “ick!”) and the birth of a terrifying goddess-gone-wrong, Jasmine (Gina Torres). Some of us dug the Jasmine plot line, but it was one awfully long walk getting there and subjected the actors to no end of fan poutrage. Vincent Kartheiser did, however, ultimately attain his karmic reward as weaselly Pete Campbell of “Mad Men,” where he regularly makes viewers go “ick!,” and like it. – BW

6. Scorpius & Sikozu, “Farscape”

Imagine George Lucas decided to give Darth Vader a girlfriend in “Return of the Jedi.” On second thought, don’t – because given Lucas’s track record of tinkering with the “Star Wars” movies, it could yet happen, and I don’t want to tempt fate. (George, if you’re reading, this is not the plot development you’re looking for.) Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) was the baddest mother-freller in the Uncharted Territories, and yet, in Season Four of “Farscape,” the writers decided he needed to be getting a little somethin’-somethin’ to soothe his twisted, black heart, and so he got a gal to get all black leather kinky with, Sikozu (Raelee Hill), who was as smokin’ hot as he was hideous and deformed.

Full disclosure: At the time, being a devotee of all things Scorpy, I actually rather liked the idea, but time has not been good Sikopius or Scokozu, or whatever you want to call their unwholesome coupling. From today’s vantage point, it’s all really very silly, and it dragged one of the coolest characters on the show down to the point where he was obsessing over fucking flowers. Luckily, when the series was resurrected in the form of the miniseries “The Peacekeeper Wars,” Sikozu betrayed Scorpius, and he kicked her to the curb, although in this fan’s humble opinion, not nearly hard enough. The poor bastard half-breed really had grown soft. – RR

7. Maddie & David, “Moonlighting”

Maddie and David’s third-season hookup usually gets the blame for “Moonlighting’s” shockingly swift decline from Top Ten series to the TV graveyard, and while that isn’t entirely fair — a bunch of other stuff probably would have killed the show anyway, from incessant repeats caused by the writers’ strike to Cybill Shepherd’s pregnancy and maternity leave — it was still a pretty terrible idea. This became clear after the strike ended and the show didn’t need to come up with excuses to keep its stars apart: Where it was once fueled by some of the sharpest banter and most palpable sexual chemistry on television, “Moonlighting” ended a hollow shell of its former self, with Shepherd and Bruce Willis clearly bored with their characters. And who could blame them? The writers did a brilliant job of investing us in David and Maddie’s relationship, and setting up the answer to the will-they-or-won’t-they question, but they never seemed to consider what came next. The answer, in this case: two seasons of taking a back seat to Herbert Viola and Agnes DiPesto. Not pretty. – Jeff Giles

8. Joel & Maggie, “Northern Exposure”

It ended on something of a low note, but of all the couples on this list, Joel Fleischman and Maggie O’Connell actually had a pretty good run, especially in the often abysmal context of love/hate TV relationships. Thanks to some terrific writers and a solid supporting cast, “Northern Exposure” spent its first five seasons teasing out the suppressed attraction simmering beneath Maggie and Joel’s enmity. But then Rob Morrow had to go and decide he didn’t want to play Fleischman anymore, bringing their long-running tug-of-war to a premature (albeit surprisingly moving) conclusion — and leaving Janine Turner with no one to throw sparks with, and leaving viewers with the agreeable-but-in-no-way-comparable Paul Provenza in his stead. By the end of Season Six, it was all over for “Northern Exposure,” a show that had been an Emmy darling only a few years before. It all felt so…unnecessary, you know? – JG

9. Troi & Worf, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

As a rule, Klingons are not a race to be pitied, but you have to feel at least a little bit bad for poor Worf. After spending many years avoiding any sort of romantic entanglements on the U.S.S. Enterprise-D, fearing that non-humans would be too fragile, Worf (Michael Dorn) found himself developing feelings for the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Yes, we know the heart wants what the heart wants, but, really, talk about a relationship brought to you by Bad Idea Jeans. Since the very first episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” it had been established that Troi and the Enterprise’s first officer, William Riker, had once been an item, and since neither character had been paired up for the long haul, it was reasonable for the fans to presume that someday, perhaps in the series finale, they’d finally get together. How cruel, then, that the writers decided to dash the fans’ hopes by creating arguably the least likely couple this side of Data and Tasha Yar.

Perhaps there was a kernel of a good idea in seeing if Deanna could tame Worf’s warrior ways, but it hardly made up for pulling the rug out from under poor Will Riker. By the time the “Next Generation” cast had made their transition to the big screen, the Troi / Worf relationship was dismissed to the point where “Star Trek: Insurrection” found Riker and Troi heavily flirting with each other, setting up the opening sequence in “Star Trek: Nemesis” where the two are preparing to finally tie the knot. Poor Worf, meanwhile, appears to either be drunk or terribly hung over; either way, the poor bastard has clearly attempted to drink away his sorrows in some capacity. Who’s the fragile one now? – WH

10. The Fonz & Ashley , “Happy Days”

His name may have been Arthur Fonzarelli, but the only person who dared to call him “Arthur” and lived to tell the tale was Marion Cunningham. Everyone else referred to him as…The Fonz. Kids, we hate to go all “old fogie” on your ass, but, seriously, you just can’t appreciate how completely cool we thought The Fonz was back in the ‘70s. Henry Winkler took the character and made him someone that guys wanted to be and girls wanted to be with…and, boy, was he with a lot of girls! After nine seasons of playing the field, however, the powers that be decided that maybe it was finally time for The Fonz to settle down and find himself a steady lady friend. Fair enough, but given his past tastes in women, we expected someone along the lines of the leather-wearing Pinky Tuscadero. Instead, we got…a perky single mom? Not that Ashley Pfister (Linda Purl) wasn’t a cutie, a trait which she clearly passed down to her daughter, Heather, but watching Fonzie try to date her was like watching a square peg try to slip through a round hole. It didn’t take long to realize that the gold standard of coolness had been neutered, and by the next season of “Happy Days,” The Fonz was single once more. – WH

11. Willow & Tara, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

Okay, we realize that we’re walking on eggshells when complaining about a lesbian relationship, partially because we don’t want to be perceived as being homophobic, but mostly because, c’mon, what straight guy doesn’t want to see two chicks getting it on? But neither of these points are the reason why we’ve included these lovely ladies on our list. Frankly, we’ve always just felt that the Willow / Tara relationship came completely out of left field. First, we watched Willow (Allyson Hannigan) gaze longingly at Xander as she suffered through a long-unrequited crush. Soon, however, she found solace in the arms of Oz, and although their relationship ended rather messily (that’s what happens when you date a werewolf), there was still no reason to believe that she would suddenly start playing for the other team and fall for Tara (Amber Benson). As such, her transition from straight to gay was one which felt completely unearned. Yes, of course Willow and Tara were cute as hell together, and we were as shocked and saddened as anyone else when poor Tara was gunned down, but, hey, all we’re saying is that we’re pretty sure that Oz could’ve taken down Warren with no muss, no fuss, and no Dark Willow, either. – WH

12. Barney & Robin, “How I Met Your Mother”

This won’t be the first time we’ve used this phrase within this piece, but it’s undeniable: the pairing of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) really did look good on paper. They’re both pretty people, both of them suffer from a serious fear of commitment, and they both enjoy watching sports, tossing back drinks, and having sex. If they could’ve just brokered a deal where the sex didn’t have to be accompanied by any semblance of romance, everything would’ve been just fine.

Alas, there was an unfortunate wrinkle in the storyline: Barney was in love with Robin. We knew this to be the case even before the two of them hooked up – it was a major plotline throughout Season 4 – but once they finally got together, started having sex, and eventually defined their arrangement as an actual relationship, it felt like an egregious sin against everything the so-called “Bro Code” stood for. Inevitably, the two of them broke up, realizing that they brought out the worst in each other, and viewers breathed a sigh of relief. It was only temporary, though: even now, there are recurring reminders on the show that Barney still has feelings for Robin. In other words, keep your guard up. WH

13. George & Izzie, “Grey’s Anatomy”

I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never watched “Grey’s Anatomy” and therefore don’t know the first thing about the characters on the show or their relationships. I am assured by many others, however, that the decision to pair up George O’Malley (T. R. Knight) and Izzy Stevens (Katherine Heigl) was the stupidest move in the history of the series. Indeed, you may remember one of those “others” from the Bullz-Eye archives: she once went by the nom de plume Buffybot, and this is what she had to say:

“George and Izzie together was a horrible idea. They were best friends, but in a brother-sister kind of way. Fans derisively called the couple “Gizzie,” and many got so fed up they quit watching the show. Making matters worse were the facts that A) George was married to a really great character at the time (Callie) who by no means deserved to be cheated on, and B) Izzie’s coupling with George came right after the excellent storyline revolving around her tragic romance with the doomed (and ever so much more dreamy) Denny.”

We should probably also add that Television Without Pity almost included George and Izzie on their list of rotten TV relationships, but instead said, “Our parents taught us that it wasn’t nice to speak ill of the dead, even if it is just a fake TV dead.” Fortunately, we here at Bullz-Eye have no such standards. – WH

14. Jack & Vicky, “Three’s Company” / “Three’s A Crowd”

After eight seasons of chasing everything in a skirt across Santa Monica, Jack Tripper (John Ritter) finally found “the one.” Only problem is, he didn’t, and anybody who knows the names of both bartenders at the Regal Beagle also knows the events of the last few episodes of “Three’s Company” were total bullshit. Now this is nothing against Mary Cadorette, who played Vicky Bradford, the girl who stole Jack away from womankind, but horndog Tripper gave up his footloose and fancy-free lifestyle for this woman over the course of only three episodes?

Interestingly, this is actually one episode more than it took Janet (Joyce DeWitt) to get engaged in the same time period. It’s in this crissing and crossing that the whole thing falls apart, because the truth is Jack and Janet should have, after eight years of living together, finally admitted to one another how much they cared about each other and gotten together. That would’ve been right and proper and a fine end to the series (although a friend of mine asserts, “That would have been gross!”). So “Three’s Company” ended lamely, which in itself might not have been such a tragedy if not for the fact that the relationship spawned a completely unnecessary spin-off series, “Three’s a Crowd,” which chronicled the lives of Jack, Vicky, and Vicky’s father (the great Robert Mandan of “Soap”). The show only lasted a season, most likely because nobody cared about Jack and Vicky as a couple, or maybe just because Cadorette had no jiggle factor. See also “Joanie Loves Chachi.” – RR

15. Sock & Kristen, “Reaper”

For a show that survived a first-season cancellation by the slimmest of margins, you’d think that the dead last thing they would do in their second season premiere is introduce a subplot about incest. But the producers clearly thought that breakout star Tyler Labine could make anything funny, so poof, Bert “Sock” Wysocki suddenly has a smoking hot Japanese stepsister named Kristen (Eriko Tamura). Kristen adores Sock as the big brother that she always wanted, but Sock’s feelings for her are a little more complicated than that (which is really a nice way of saying they’re not remotely complicated – they’re just sick).

The scenes of them together were instant momentum killers, and at times even brought to mind the creepy Uncle Roy skits from “Saturday Night Live.” Worse, not content with the mere thought of sex between steps, Sock and Kristen ultimately did the deed, ewww. (Insert your own “Brady Bunch” joke here.) Kristen was gone by the next episode, but the damage had been done; “Reaper,” despite a killer finale – Sam loses Andi’s soul to the Devil in a game of quarters – was finished, undone by a subplot that not even Bad Idea Jeans would endorse. – David Medsker

“I can officially go on record now as saying that I was not happy with the storyline with me trying to fuck my stepsister. Believe me, you were one of many who was, like, ‘Sucks! Sucks! What’s going on? This storyline is bullshit!’ It just sort of ended up becoming exactly what they didn’t want it to become; they wanted it to be kind of charming and sweet. I’m, like, ‘How the fuck do you make a storyline about trying to sleep with your stepsister sweet?’ And they’re, like, ‘Oh, don’t worry, we will. You can do it.’ I’m, like, ‘I don’t know,’ and then I watched it, and I was just, ‘We have got to get rid of this storyline! This is not working!’ It felt like it was on a different show at times. And, you know, I had fun working with Eriko (Tamura), and I’m not saying anything was wrong with her. She was great, and she’s beautiful. I think the idea was that they thought they could push a character like Sock anywhere, just make him do anything, and people would still like it. And they were wrong.”Tyler Labine, 6/9/2009


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