May 16 2011 12:00pm

The Handy-Dandy Survival Guide to Shipping Doomed Couples

Luke and Leia in Star WarsYou know who you are. You thought that in Little Women, Laurie should have married Jo instead of Amy; and in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet seemed all right but you always wondered why Romeo never worked it out with Rosalind; and you’re still (still) disappointed that Luke and Leia turned out to be related. You’ve got an uncanny knack for rooting for doomed couples and I know your pain. I feel your angst. So I’ve come up with this handy-dandy survival guide for those romance fans like you who always seem to find themselves on the wrong side of fate (be warned, there be spoilers ahead):

Sawyer, Kate, and Jack in Lost1.) Don't Panic

You shouldn’t start freaking out if the couple you love seems like nothing more than a distant dream. Why? Because sometimes the nuances of a particular fictional universe can actually work to your advantage. Lost started off firmly in the Kate/Jack camp, but by the time the series ended Kate/Sawyer, Jack/Juliet and Sawyer/Juliet had all gotten their turn on the time jumping merry-go-round of island love. Not content with these multiple plains of romantic realities, Lost also threw flash-sideways storylines into the mix, which gave fans a chance to see their favorite couples in yet another light.

Similarly, the BBC’s Doctor Who used its time-traveling motif in a recent episode to create the illusion of two possible realities: one in which Amy continued adventuring with the Doctor, and one in which Amy chose to return home to Rory. Every romantic pairing gets to play! Just because your favorite couple isn’t together right now, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be together in the future…or the past…or in another dimension. It is fiction, after all.

2.) Retreat to a Safe Place

But what’s to be done if the laws of time and space still managed to keep your favorite couple apart? Get online, obviously! Yeah yeah, we know that the internet was originally invented to help the military share information. But let’s not lie, now the web mostly exists as a sanctuary for all things fangirl. So if your favorite fictional couple ended up going their separate ways, don’t worry — there are tons of online fans that feel your pain and want to make it all better via the magic of fanfiction. For those not in the know, fanfiction refers to stories written by fans about their favorite television shows, books, movies, comics, etc. For every doomed or dismissed couple, there are hundreds of fanfiction stories waiting to rebuild the wreckage of your broken hearts and shattered dreams.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsLet’s take Suzanne Collins’s recent mega-hit Hunger Games trilogy, for example. Even though Collins effectively torpedoed one half of her Peeta/Katniss/Gale love triangle when she insinuated that Gale was responsible for the bomb that killed Katniss’ beloved little sister, internet fans have written hundreds of fanfiction stories about the ill-fated District 12 hunting partners. And to those of you who think that fanfiction is only for internet dweebs…well, I’ll be reading a million different versions of happily ever after while you’re busy getting saddle sores from that high horse.

3.) Avoid Making Enemies

A word of caution about our friend the internet, though. Just because no one knows who you really are does NOT mean that you get to be a jerk. The web has a tendency to turn perfectly rational human beings into crazed lunatics who don’t know how to use their internet indoor voices, especially when it comes to romantic couples. The best (worst?) example of this comes from the magical world of Harry Potter, which became deeply split over the issue of whether Hermione Granger belonged with Ronald Weasley or our Boy Who Lived. The great and epic battle between the two camps of fans looked a lot like what we imagine World War III will be like, only with more CAPSLOCK and tons of frowny-face emoticons. Things got hella rough, and the war still rages on in some circles even though J.K. Rowling has long since put the series to rest (and now presumably spends her time diving into mountains of gold, Scrooge McDuck style).

Don’t get me wrong—I feel you. Our favorite fictional couples are often expressions of our innermost selves and our deepest feelings about love, so it’s natural that emotions run very high. But if you wouldn’t call someone on the street a BLITHERING IDIOT!!!!1!!, then you probably shouldn’t call SnapeWife44 that either.

Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff as Apollo and Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica4.) Stay Positive

Think your favorite couple got the shaft? There’s always someone who got it way, way worse. It didn’t matter which side of the Battlestar Galactica Kara/Lee/Dee/Sam quadrangle of doom you were on because every pairing ended up getting screwed in one way or another during the misguided final season of the series (unless vanishing into thin air or piloting your ship directly into the sun count as happy endings).

But the award for the all-time worst ending for a potential romantic pairing certainly has to go to Twilight’s Jacob and Bella, who suffered a laughably ridiculous conclusion to their would-be relationship when Jacob (through the powers of werewolf magic) fell in love with Bella’s half-vampire baby in Breaking Dawn. That’s right, her BABY. Let’s all take a moment to bow down to the wonder of Stephenie Meyer, who managed to mix pedophilia and cross-species ickiness in order to produce a truly weird end to her Twilight love triangle. If you ever start to feel sorry for your favorite doomed couple, just whisper “Renesmee” to yourself three times and I promise things won’t look quite so bleak…

Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson as Joey and Pacey in Dawson’s Creek5.) Remember That Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…
It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings—or until the credits roll on the series finale or the last page concludes with an emphatic The End. Dawson’s Creek made fans suffer through two whole seasons of that Dawson and Joey are soulmates malarkey before wisely shifting its focus to the vastly more interesting Pacey/Joey pairing. Season 3 was a glorious romp of tentative romance and angsty yearning (Walls were bought! Kisses were stolen! Dawson cried!). It couldn’t last forever, though, and it seemed like the final nail in the coffin when Pacey and Joey broke up (for the second time) late in the series’s last season. But lo and behold, those tricky Dawson’s Creek scribes saved the best for last: the final moments of the series revealed that Joey had chosen Pacey and that they were living together in domestic bliss (even though they had to watch Dawson’s crappy teen drama on TV)!

So remember, if there are still episodes being aired and chapters being written, there’s still hope for your favorite would-be lovers. A show’s original couple isn’t always the couple that ends up together, so kick up your feet and stick around for awhile. It might just be worth it in the end.

So there you have it! What are your favorite doomed couples? Got any survival tips of your own? I have found that a glass of wine (or two) can also work wonders…


Jill Slattery is an avid reader, writer and consumer of all things pop culture.  She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a wonderful pooch named Albus Dumbledog. When she's not writing about romance she's busy writing about desserts over at the Dessert Patrol.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
You're my hero. I feel stronger just having read this. I am not alone! Seriously, I feel like we should distribute this to fandoms all over...

(Also: My poor, poor Starbuck and Apollo.)
Tara Gelsomino
2. Taragel
Hee! SO HILARIOUS. Snapewife! Scrooge McDuck! Dawson crying!

I am currently mildly shipping the doomed pairings of Puckleberry (Glee) and Caroline/Stefan (TVD), but my eternal heartbreak will always belong to Kara and Lee. So cruel!
Regina Thorne
3. reginathorn
Heh! TOTALLY a Peeta/Katniss 'shipper here, but almost all of my friends (including Taragel and redline_ ) were Gale fans, so I vicariously feel your pain.

Luke and Leia should just move to Westeros, where being siblings is not really a barrier to 'shipping :P
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
@taragel -- Caroline/Stefan! I wonder if it's that they're doomed or in danger of being ignored completely by the writers? They seem oblivious--it's all about Matt/Caroline/Tyler (which I'm fine with right now!).
Tara Gelsomino
5. Taragel
@redline_ I just think there's no way they'll go there. The Damon/Elena/Stefan triangle is the true heart of the show. No matter how much chemistry Candice and Paul seem to have in every single scene they share! Someone theorized on twitter that maybe Caro/Stefan could happen way way down the line (after Elena dies? Assuming she doesn't become a vamp too.)

You think Matt's gonna leave the show? I don't see much for him to do, although I guess having Vicky (sort of?) back could change that.
Jill Slattery
6. JillSlattery
@redline_ Thanks! I do so love me some doomed couples. 9 times out of 10 if I like a pairing I immediately know that it's not meant to be.

@Taragel Thanks so much! Yeah, I think that Puckleberry is definitely doomed, although I think that every couple on "Glee" is doomed to idiocy and incoherent storylines, sooooo...;-)

@reginathorne Ha about Westeros! Sibling love for everyone! I still remember watching Star Wars for the first time and when they revealed that Luke & Leia were siblings I was like WTF?! COME ON!
Keira Gillett
7. Keira
My most commented post on my blog is "Why Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley are the Least Romanctic Literary Couple" Currently sporting 239 comments of people arguing for or against my case. lol It's fun to watch and it's heated.
Keira Gillett
8. Keira
Ooo!! @Taragel - I support them too! Though I still like Finn and Rachel too. I just hate Jesse.
Jill Slattery
9. JillSlattery
@Keira I couldn't agree with you more and I love your post! I have strong feelings about the Harry/Ginny pairing. Strong *negative* feelings.
Alie V
10. ophelial
I always remember My So-Called Life's Angela/Jordan mixed with Brian. Also Michael/Maria really got the shaft on Roswell.
Jill Slattery
11. JillSlattery
@ephramyfan I also thought of My So-Called Life. As much as I enjoyed the angst of Angela/Jordan, I remember also wishing that she would just like nice, mostly sweet Brian.
Alie V
12. ophelial
@JillSlattery I did too, but Jordan (Jared Leto) was so cute back then that he was hard to resist. Not to mention the way he leaned ;)
Keira Gillett
13. Keira
@JillSlattery - I make funny noises when they kiss in the movies. Bleck.
Jill Slattery
14. JillSlattery
@Keira Honestly, don't even get me started on the anti-chemisty of movie Harry/Ginny. It's a black hole of suck every time they are "romantic" onscreen.

@ephramyfan The way Jordan Catalano leaned ruined me for all other high school boys. No one even came close.
Alie V
15. ophelial
I also can't forget to mention one of my all time favourite couples, Veronica & Logan from Veronica Mars. They totally got the shaft when the series was cancelled.
16. linsadair
I'm still on both sides of the Morelli/Stephanie/Ranger triangle.
Jill Slattery
17. JillSlattery
@linsadair I love when all sides of a love triangle truly work because that is so often not the case...
18. SillyJaime @ Jaime 2.0
Great article. So funny! Also Lee and Starbuck was so sad.

I have to say, though, I'm glad Hermione and Ron made a far better pair than Hermione and Harry would have....
Heather Waters
19. HeatherWaters
@Taragel -- First off, PERFECT GIF ILLUSTRATION! Second, what do you mean after Elena dies? You mean post-show? Yeah, I tend to think the writers will turn her at some point, if the show lasts long enough for them to run out of human-Elena drama.

@reginathorn -- I actually think there are more Peeta/Katniss shippers in our group than anything (including wisteria_ and Elly), and Tara and I don't much care for Katniss at all anymore. But yes, we were pretty vocal about K/G at one time! (And still love our boy.) Oh, the ANGST that trilogy put us all through.

@ephramyfan -- Logan/Veronica! I miss them. I have to say, though, that I didn't mind their ending. I think they did need to break up until Logan really grew up for good, and I felt that their last scene together showed that the door was still open for them--they just needed some time. You could tell they weren't over each other. I just wish that VM'd gotten another season so that we could have seen FBI!Veronica. A 5-year time jump could have done both V. and L. some good.

@SillyJaime @ Jaime 2.0 -- Also Lee and Starbuck was so sad.

Carol Pickle
20. capasadena
Soap operas really know what they are doing. I think Erica Kane has been with everyone you thought right for her, everyone you knew was bad for her and many others in between. Her age doesn't seem to matter either...and never say dead...old flames always seem to be resurrected at the most inopportune times.
Cindy Smith
21. CindyS
Too funny and oh so true. Lee and Starbuck - glad to know others feel my pain!

I have to say I normally go for the 'bad' guy so I never saw the love for Luke Skywalker when you could have Hans Solo.

Any Firefly lovers here? I was all about Jayne and River - the minute she stabbed him I was all 'they are soulmates'! But that might be my twisted side coming out.

22. Luna_Blake
OMG, so I'm not the only one shipping Stefan/ Caroline?! Huzzah. Stefan/ Elena bores me, and S/ C are the way to go. Caroline needs a vamp or her own.

But really, this article gave me so much HOPE. I feel so much better shipping doomed couples, now.

At the moment, I'm also shipping Quinntana in the Glee fandom. It's quite sad that it'll never happen (*sniff sniff*), but thank heavens for fanfiction.
23. Svh
Anyone saying that Harry/Hermione should have happened is delusional and militant. They have not read the books for the ANVIL sized hints for H/G and R/Hr.
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