By Miguel Acuna
Valentine’s Day reminds us how companies everywhere will be taking your hard earned cash so that you can prove to someone that you care about them by buying them candy and gifts. Because, obviously, chocolate = love. By not purchasing said candy and/or gifts, then it is a hard cold fact that you spit on your relationship. It is undeniable that with love being all around, one can’t help but think of the different iterations of romance that has presented in various TV, movies, and games. That being said, I present my own list of couples that always give me the feels. The feels being an overwhelming attack of emotions that range from the bliss of love achieved to the sadness of love lost. For this list, the following stipulations were put forward. The couples must have an actual romance and not just platonic friendships, the relationship must exist in the story (no headcanons), and be as relatively healthy as possible (sorry Harley / Joker fans). Bring on the love fest! Also, be warned of SPOILERS!
10) Wesley Wyndam-Price & Winifred “Fred” Burkle (Angel) – There are so many relationships in the Whedonverse that could ultimately make this list (and another one may show up later), but there is something so incredibly sweet about Wesley and Fred. Wesley was introduced as the new Watcher for Buffy and carried over into Angel’s spin-off show, while Fred joined as the slightly crazy human survivor in an alternate dimension towards the end of season 2 of Angel. Wesley had one of the biggest crushes in history on Fred from the beginning, but their love was not to be as she initially fell for their mutual ally, Charles Gunn. Fans kept hoping that their friendship would evolve into more as it was almost painful to see how much Wesley pined for Fred but was never “her guy.” Finally in season 5 of Angel, after ending her relationship with Gunn, she and Wesley got together and this was one of the purest loves ever seen on the show. They were the ultimate couple of cuteness and brains. Alas, the confetti from this pairing was barely cleaned up before Fred died and was taken over by the demon god, Illyria. However, even death would not stop Wesley from loving Fred and he stayed with Illyria to act as her handler, but also because it would be too difficult to let go. In Wesley’s last moments, we are shown that Illyria/Fred has not forgotten this love for Wesley and shows him Fred’s face as he dies. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the Buffy/Angel-verse and to this day makes me tear up. This is the love that you root for so much from the beginning, are beyond happy when it comes true, and are destroyed when it can’t stay.
9) Aeryn Sun & John Crichton (Farscape) – Everyone knows the Muppets, Sesame Street, and The Dark Crystal, but few people know of the Jim Henson’s Company other sci-fi venture, Farscape. A motley crew of space outcasts join together to stay off the radar of bad guys and adventures ensue. Throughout the series, we watched as these initial enemies slowly becoming allies, friends, and finally fall in love. John’s much more relaxed and carefree attitude was the perfect “opposites attract” scenario for Aeryn’s much more strict and militaristic mind. Through attraction grew from a mutual respect to actually being married and ultimately having a child together. It was incredibly sweet to see John break through Aeryn’s tough exterior to find her kindness and loving nature. In turn, Aeryn was the one to bring out a much more serious and focused John lying deep within his joking and aloof layers. They brought out the best in each other and their love was strong enough to cheat death a few times. It’s an awesome space romance in a highly underrated series.
8) Vegeta & Bulma Briefs (Dragon Ball Z / Super) – Had this relationship stayed as stagnant as it was during most of DBZ, it would have definitely not made this list. Not only was it never fully explained why they fell for each other after the events of Namek (aside from Florence Nightingale situations) but we are only given general ideas as to how they found some common ground to have a child together. After little Trunks was born, they still showed a lot of animosity towards each other, with Vegeta’s constant focus being on getting stronger. It wasn’t until well into the Majin Buu Saga that we began to get more the true idea of how deep their feelings ran for each other. The prideful prince of all Saiyans would start to show concern and love for someone other than himself, and Bulma would push through her scientific and logical attitude, to become a highly involved and dedicated mother. It was this love for his family that led to his decision to sacrifice himself to protect his family and home. After this, we would see the biggest changes in Vegeta due to his love for his family and desire to fight for them, as opposed to his pride alone. He shows jealousy and anger towards other guys regarding Bulma, offers to fuse with Goku permanently to defeat Buu, and chooses to stay with his family on Earth for a “home life.” The biggest clear confirmation of Vegeta’s love and dedication to Bulma came in Battle of the Gods after Beerus arrived on Earth and slapped Bulma, despite initially fearing him, Vegeta does not hesitate in attempting to fight a god of destruction. He ultimately loses and denies yelling “MY BULMA!” but it’s undeniable how much love is shared by these two.
7) Buffy Summers & Angel (Buffy & Angel) – This pairing was going to be higher up on the list, but as it did not end on the best of terms, it lost a few points. Buffy and Angel are one of the pairings that flips the script on many cliches. You do not have the weak girl in need a strong hero, you do not have the perfect match finding each other, and at the end, you don’t have a happy ending. Instead, we got the story of a powerful Slayer falling in love with a centuries-old vampire. Both fighting their nature to kill each other while coming to terms with their feelings for one another. This was possibly one of the first time that the love & heartache between fictional characters actually made me tear up. You wanted them to badly to get together, but their very different roles in life kept them apart. This doesn’t even take into consideration that a gypsy curse made it so that if Angel were to finally give in to pure happiness (which he did while making love to Buffy for the first time), he would lose his soul again and become the evil Angelus. We all would ask ourselves the same question, “What would you do/sacrifice for the one you love?” When faced with this question, Buffy tearfully sent a re-souled Angel to a Hell dimension in order to save the world. She chose duty over having the love of her life back. Thankfully Angel did return but the two again were unable to balance their love for another with the different directions their lives were going. Angel left Sunnydale for Los Angeles but their paths would still cross. Sometimes they would meet with the resentment that exes would carry, while at others, you realize this resentment and anger, only hides deep feelings of love that can never go away. In the last episode of Buffy, Angel shows up one last time to hand over a necklace to help with the fight and kisses Buffy one last time. While it is understood they would not get back together, their love was just too epic to ignore.
6) Sora & Kairi (Kingdom Hearts) – This couple is simple and clean. There’s no major drama or messed up twist, or horrible ending (so far). They start as the most adorable friends and like each other a lot (never straight out love). I strongly think that this “like” will blossom into a great love once they get a chance to finally explore it as they’ve gotten older. Unfortunately, with the constant threat of Heartless and Nobodies, they were never given this opportunity. While the relationship is slightly one-sided as we take on the adventures of KH mainly through the perspective of Sora, we are given multiple circumstances where we see how equally dedicated Kairi is to her friends, in particular, Sora. It could be argued that Kairi is simply friends with both Sora and Riku, it’s evident from their times together, their embraces, and even their sacrifices for each other that the connection between Sora and Kairi is simply deeper. By the end of KH2, Kairi moves beyond simply a damsel to be rescued into a keyblade wielder who also fights for her friends as well. Currently, Kairi is training under Master Yen Sid and we have even seen some promotional art (though not confirmed as canon) where her new outfit also denotes that she will have a much larger role in the upcoming KH3. There have also been so many instances where the metaphors for their love have been blinding. We’ve seen Sora and Kairi share the paopu fruit which will make sure that their destinies are intertwined, which I can guarantee would not be something that would be done lightly between people who are just friends. This dynamic of the friends would shift greatly as it would pair off Kairi and Sora and leave Riku to the side, but neither Sora or Kairi have ever treated Riku the way they treat each other. I’m hoping that now that these characters are older and are we nearing the release of KH3, we will finally be given the confirmation of these two friends moving on to feelings of romantic love and we can stop submitting our fanfics and fanart to Tetsuya Nomura.
5) Fox Mulder & Dana Scully (X-Files) – Today the term “ship” when it comes to rooting for any kind of pairing is fairly commonplace among almost all fandoms. However, this term would not be used in such a way, was it not for the fans of X-Files in the 90’s. While people had been “shipping” their favorite characters for years, the term wasn’t used until the fan message boards for X-Files coined the term to represent their own undying love for these two FBI agents to finally come together. The chemistry that David Duchovny shared with Gillian Anderson made you want these two to get together even outside of the show. Throughout the show’s original 9 season run, the writers of the show seemed to get personal joy from teasing this relationship coming together and reveled in the pain caused to fans as they were repeatedly denied. From a false Mulder almost kissing Scully, to an alternate dimension Scully kissing regular Mulder, to kisses stopped due to illness and cancer, it sincerely felt like these two would never get together. Fans would pray and hope that one day, the pair would be rewarded for all of their pain and suffering throughout the series. Mulder would bring the power believing in what can’t be explained by science to Scully’s otherwise very skeptical worldview and Scully would give something to fight for in life, aside from his constant search for “the truth.” The duo not only were incredible partners and friends who constantly supported each other and looked out for another but in their most dark moments, would care for each other like no one else would. In a scene where Mulder and Scully were stuck in the woods, she sang to him to soothe him, despite not being the best singer. In another scene, Mulder teaches Scully how to swing a bat and gets very flirtatiously close to her. And this all culminates in Scully becoming pregnant with….drumroll….Mulder’s baby! We were never given a clear indication of how or when this child was conceived and it ultimately was very sad when they had to give their child up to protect him. To date, the duo isn’t OFFICIALLY declared a couple or state that they are together, but the fandom has definitely won this battle as it is undeniable that the two are a couple and love each other completely.
4) Glenn Rhee & Maggie Greene (The Walking Dead) – A few of the pairings on the list have cheated death and have even come back from it. However, Glenn & Maggie are the only ones who found each other and had a relationship despite fighting the undead at every turn. They met after Rick’s group had arrived at Hershel’s (Maggie’s father) farm. Though both were a bit taken back by the other initially, later on, while on a supply run, they’d find themselves in a pharmacy and subsequently have sex. There wasn’t much build-up to this or even the expectation that it would happen again, but Glenn was immediately starting to fall for Maggie. It was incredibly cute and refreshing to see something as “normal” as people flirting and trying to more or less date while fighting off walkers and having to witness other friends and family die. In the madness that was the world of The Walking Dead, Glenn and Maggie’s budding relationship which would grow into a deep love acted as a reminder that there were still things worth fighting for in such a hopeless world. While it is a bit more fast-paced than most relationships, as they could die any day, we rush in with them to support their growing romance. They try to stick to many of the usual steps, as these gestures of getting engaged and married are the small things which keeps hope alive for a more “normal” world. Like any couple, they went through their rough patches but would always make up and fight through hordes of zombies to find one another and make sure they were both safe. Maggie would become incredibly proficient with all kinds of weapons while Glenn would find the courage to don riot gear, all in the name of trying to save and protect their loved one. In a world where the living are getting by on borrowed time, we have to face one of the worst fake-outs in history when we all believed the Glenn had died near a dumpster. All the fans of the show breathed a sigh of relief when he survived, but this same breath was stolen when the group finally met Negan. The episode where Negan viciously kills Glenn in front of Maggie was possibly one of the most horrifying and heartbreaking moments in recent TV history. The couple that would constantly go through hell and back for each other was finally over. To make sure the pain was memorable, this was all shortly after we had learned that Maggie was now pregnant with her and Glenn’s child. The future of Maggie and her child is currently unclear, and a happy ending is never guaranteed, but when you think of how dedicated you’d hope a partner to be, if they come as close to Maggie and Glenn, then you are an extremely lucky individual.
3) Princess Bubblegum & Marceline (Adventure Time) – I did state that we would not include any headcanons on this list, and I am sticking to it. I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that the “Bubbline” pairing may not have been declared outright, but there have been more than enough nods and at times obvious winks to fans about these two being more than “just friends.” Especially with the creator of the show confirming this, Adventure Time was still unable to straight out state it on the show. After piecing together their story from the clues and evidence littered through the show, not only is PB and Marcy one of the truest romances out there, but the relationship itself has an incredible development arc. As the series starts, it’s a very straightforward clash of the uptight princess versus the laid back slightly evil vampire queen. However, as the show progresses, we are given a deeper history on these two, how they were once close friends (and more), to their devotion to each other, and ultimate separation. You start to see that this was not just two opposing personalities, but a broken couple that did not end amicably. In one episode, a few of the main characters have “prized possessions” and have to sing the “truth” in order to get them back. Marceline starts by singing about she wants to bury Princess Bubblegum but evolves into her singing that Marceline is hurt and has trouble coming to terms why she wants to fix their relationship so much. Additionally, we learn that PB’s prized possession is a shirt that Marceline gave her after they went to a concert together. Not only is this PB’s favorite shirt, but she is seen sleeping in it on multiple occasions. However, their relationship would go from subtle subtext to very clear declarations that are only limited by the higher-ups at Cartoon Network. As the series progresses we get more history about the two, including that PB got consumed by her princess duties and began to ignore Marceline, leading to their separation. Most recently, we were given two of the most “normal” activities that help fans have confirmation of this love. Marceline brings PB to meet and have dinner with Ice King like one brings a new partner to meet the parents. And the biggest kicker was Marceline’s recent song “I Want To Slow Dance With You.” Marceline sings to another “person” and states how she is aware that the other boys are tough and smooth, but Marceline still pleads that she wants to slow dance with this “person.” Especially with another female backup singer, this was the icing on this OTP ship. #Bubbline5Ever
2) Shepard (FemShep) & Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect Trilogy) – There is no Shepard without Vakarian. While this list does reflect my personal opinions on the top couples, FemShep and Garrus are actually proven to be the best pairing in the Mass Effect Universe. Garrus is the only teammate in ME1 that proves his dedication to Shepard from the beginning while holding her in the highest regard and respect, despite not being to actually romance him. Garrus is a consistent love interest for Shepard during ME2 and ME3. Other romance options either die or it results that they can’t be romanced for another reason. Liara takes a break as a romance option in ME2 (not including Shadow Broker DLC) and is replaced by Samara, who is not an option in ME3. While it can be argued that Tali is as much of a great romance as Garrus, there are many more specifics that help solidify this role. Tali met Shepard while on her pilgrimage to adulthood. This kind of precedent always felt more like she was a naive child learning about the world, and her love for Shepard would be more akin to a first love/infatuation. Whereas Garrus has seen so much in the world and has had enough life experience that you feel much more assured it wasn’t just a crush. Additionally, as Garrus has a military background like Shepard, it gave them much more in common. Once you got to ME2, the Garrus/Shepard ship casts off and becomes near unsinkable. Their flirting dives straight into discussing how they would “release tension” and ultimately they figure it out. While initially it is slightly awkward and at times scary, the player realizes that their mutual feelings transcend species and physiology, as they want nothing more than to show how much they meant to one another. By the time ME3 comes around, you know that the end is near and even a great romance like this will not make it through to the end. There are multiple instances of having the last kiss before “the end” and every time it’s another knife to the heart. In the end, it is Garrus who puts Shepard’s name on the wall of those lost in the war. We were given a slight reprieve from the pending doom of the ending of Mass Effect through DLC missions. Both the Leviathan and Citadel DLC gave us a few more moments of these two soldiers who became friends and lovers in the face of all the challenges they faced. Thank God for that tango scene.
1) George R.R. Martin & Death (Game Of Thrones) – Everyone has their idea of what a perfect couple should be. Whether it’s just two people who compliment each other, major opposites that come together, or even people who are essentially the same person as they share all of the same interests and characteristics. There is no ONE definition of a perfect couple. However, the love that GRRM and Death share, is unlike any other. GRRM was already an established and popular writer when he first released his Song of Ice & Fire books and Death had been known to everyone else. They began their courtship and to show his love for Death, he would sacrifice characters to Death. However, Death has always been insatiable and while the gifts that GRRM gave were appreciated, they weren’t as “sweet” as they could be. We move forward many years and Game of Thrones premieres on HBO. GRRM’s characters (and their final endings) were now reaching a much larger audience and invoking the pain of all their new fans. Death was elated to have such wonderful sacrifices with an overwhelming taste of sadness. Death was so impressed that they stayed close to GRRM and his new show. Despite some fans posting their hate towards the sacrifices of beloved characters and threats of never watching the show again, GRRM’s love for Death would not be quelled. He would continue sacrificing character after character because true love knows no bounds. If you have a significant other and have received an amazing gift, I’m sure the gift was nothing compared to the death of a dragon. That’s something they’ll remember forever. Personally, I do wish that GRRM and Death would take a break from each other, but as we are now scheduled to enjoy one last season of Game of Thrones next year, I feel he’s going to dedicate 90% of the season to Death.
I hope you had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day. <3