My Top TV Couples!

I’ve recently been rewatching a few old television favourites and it’s become clear to me that the shows I tend to invest in usually have a strong couple at their heart. Some of these are friendships, some are more than that and others morph over time from one to the other. I’m still considering my list of ultimate TV friendships (watch this space), but in the spirit of it being Valentine’s Day, I’m starting with my favourite television couples.

Of course, everyone’s list will be personal, so I’m sure there will be couples I’ve missed who you would choose, so feel free to let me know your choices in the comments! It also goes without saying that this post will contain spoilers for the shows referenced.

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Fox Mulder & Dana Scully (The X-Files)

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To me, Mulder and Scully will always be the ultimate television couple. It was a relationship that grew from their strong friendship and over the years of the series I loved seeing how much respect and love these two amazing characters had for each other. It bubbled under the surface, but never detracted from the series itself and even 20 years later, the incredible chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson remains as powerful as ever. The magic the two of them share does not come around very often and as yet, has not been beaten. You can read more of my thoughts on these two here.

Harvey Specter & Donna Paulsen (Suits)

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I know some people may argue against the inclusion of Harvey and Donna in a couples list, but their relationship has developed so much recently, that I find it impossible not to see them as meant to be, even if they are not quite there yet! Over the last six seasons we have seen their deeply-rooted friendship grow. Yes, they’ve already been lovers once, but they share so much more than that. Sarah Rafferty and Gabriel Macht have a chemistry that is rare on television and I’m sure their long-standing friendship has added to the fabric of Harvey and Donna’s relationship. These characters wouldn’t be so wonderful on screen were they portrayed by anyone else. As with Mulder and Scully, this is certainly a slow burn, but surely these two have to end up together?!

Josh Lyman & Donna Moss (The West Wing)

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I clearly enjoy the slow burn relationships don’t I, as here is yet another one! From the start of Aaron Sorkin’s political drama I always loved the banter between the Deputy Chief of Staff and his assistant and as the series progressed, their wonderful bond became more apparent. Thanks to Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney’s on screen connection, any other relationships each character had just never seemed quite as special as the one they shared together. Josh may have been the political player, but it became clear how much he relied on Donna and when she left to pursue her own ambitions, it gave him the push to pursue his new path and when they did finally get together it didn’t overshadow the series, as by then it was the logical and natural next step.

Alicia Florrick & Will Gardner (The Good Wife)

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I still feel incredibly sad when I think about this ill-fated pair, but there was no way they wouldn’t feature on my list, as they are probably the hottest and most moving couple on TV. The attraction between Will and Alicia was clear from the very beginning (in no large part down to the chemistry between Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies) and along with many fans of the series, I had my fingers crossed for their future. They clearly loved one another and Alicia should probably have picked Will before she ever married her dreadful husband. The time they were together treated us to some of the steamiest scenes on television (here’s one for the uninitiated) as well as some of the most emotional, but sadly it wasn’t to be, with Will being tragically killed in series five (something I still wish the internet hadn’t ruined for me in advance). It was an event I never expected, which still makes me reach for the tissues. The fact their love was cut short in such an cruel way makes their whole story all the more powerful and is probably the couple that has moved me the most on television.

Temperance Brennan & Seeley Booth (Bones)

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Bones is a series I’ve missed over the last few years and I’m slowly playing catch up, but what was clear from day one was the chemistry between David Boreanaz’s Booth and Emily Deschanel’s Brennan. I have only reached series eight (the final season 12 is airing now), but what I enjoy most about this series is how the writers were able to transition the characters from friends, to lovers, to marriage and children. It has enabled fans to see their relationship grow in a more mature and realistic way, which is something other shows could learn from.

The Doctor & Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)

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Since it’s return in 2005 Doctor Who has seen some wonderful partnerships on board the TARDIS. However, there is one that touched the hearts of many fans of the series and that was the love between David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. Yes, nothing ever happened between them, but their bond was never in doubt and their heartbreaking farewell on Bad Wolf Bay was a classic moment that certainly made me shed some tears.

Kevin Walker & Scotty Wandell (Brothers & Sisters)

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There were many relationships within Brothers & Sisters, but for me the most heartfelt and believable one was that between Kevin and Scotty (played brilliantly by Matthew Rhys and Luke MacFarlane). Through all the Walker family turmoil, they were a breath of fresh air with their loving relationship. They weren’t free from problems (most notably Scotty’s affair), but loved each other enough not to throw their relationship away.

Buffy Summers & Spike (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)

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Some may be surprised that the relationship on my list from Buffy is not the one between Buffy and Angel! Yes, theirs was one of the core elements of the series in the early years, but Buffy and Spike’s short-lived relationship was the one that has always interested me the most. When you think about it (and leave aside the undead aspect!), they were a far better match for each other. Perhaps it was the fact Buffy was older than the teenager who fell for Angel, but her connection with Spike came across as a more mature one. They knew each other’s faults and accepted them anyway and some of the scenes between James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Geller in those later episodes remain some of my favourites.

Doug Ross & Carol Hathaway (E.R)

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E.R remains my favourite medical series (more on that here) and although it had some lovely relationships during its 15 years, one always stood above the rest and that was the love affair between Doug and Carol. The fact it became so iconic in the 90s (and was the first big break for each of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies) is more impressive when you think that Carol wasn’t even meant to survive the pilot episode. They went through ups and downs, split up and got back together more than once, but you couldn’t help but root for them and the icing on the cake was Clooney’s surprise return for the last few moments of the episode which saw Carol leave Chicago behind for the love of her life.

Chuck Bass & Blaire Waldorf (Gossip Girl)

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Chuck and Blaire were the best schemers in Gossip Girl, manipulating situations and characters to their advantage and there were many times when I really couldn’t stand them! However, the writers created something very clever in their relationship. Despite their underhanded behaviour, they seemed to bring out the best in each other, which in turn changed my perception of them and thanks to the acting talents of Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester they became my favourite characters in the show. Had they not ended up together I’d have been thoroughly disappointed.

Carrie Bradshaw & Mr. Big (Sex And The City)

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The Mr.Big debate was a big one during Sex And The City’s run, with fans divided as to whether Carrie should end up with him or not. He may have been an idiot for the majority of the show, but I was always of the view that deep down they were soul mates. Despite all the pain and hurt, they always seemed to come back to one another and he would do anything for her. I also loved the fun they seemed to have and Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker sparkled in their scenes together.

Sydney Bristow & Michael Vaughn (Alias)

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J.J Abrams’s spy drama was a highlight of American television at the time of its original run and the will they won’t they dynamic of Sydney and Vaughn captured the hearts of its fans (including me). Yes, there were some utterly bonkers plot developments along the way, including Vaughn’s faked death, but Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan always ensured the relationship between Sydney and Vaughn was genuinely lovely to watch right until the end.

Ross Poldark & Demelza (Poldark)

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Yes, Aidan Turner’s torso has generated a great deal of attention since Poldark was brought back to our screens in 2015, but the best character in my view is the fiery Demelza, superbly played by Eleanor Tomlinson and their romance is what keeps me tuning in each week. They may be from different backgrounds, but they are undoubtably stronger together and do truly belong together. I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead in series three after the ups and downs of the last series.

Lizzie Bennet & Mr Darcy (BBC, Pride & Prejudice)

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Colin Firth may be a successful Oscar-winning actor, but he’ll always be best known for his iconic portrayal of Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. The British public fell under his spell and that of his counterpart Jennifer Ehle. In my opinion, they created the definitive Lizzie and Darcy and every scene they had together sparkled, making them one of the TV couples of the 90s in Britain.

Ianto Jones and Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood)

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The relationship between Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) in Torchwood was hugely important for British television and remains one of my favourites of recent years. What was lovely about the pairing was that they may have been very different personalities, but were in fact perfectly suited. They were playful, affectionate and stood by each other through all the crazy happenings in their lives and Ianto’s emotional death in Children Of Earth was heartbreaking for fans of the show. We felt his loss as much as Captain Jack. Heck, does any other fictional character have a shrine like Ianto’s in Cardiff?!

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So, those are my top fifteen television couples. I look forward to hearing about who you would choose!

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Television Nostalgia – E.R (still the best medical drama)!

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I’ve recently been going through a period of television nostalgia, looking back and rewatching episodes of some of my favourite shows. The latest old favourite I have reacquainted myself with is the long-running medical drama E.R. Beginning in 1994 (the same year as Friends and rival hospital drama Chicago Hope) and created by Michael “Jurassic Park” Crichton, E.R went on to become the longest-running primetime medical drama in American television history, lasting 15 years until April 2009. Many hospital dramas have arrived since. For me however, E.R will always be the best and is still brilliant quality drama years later.

Set in Chicago at County General Hospital, the show depicted incredibly realistic medical traumas, whilst introducing the viewers to the team of doctors and nurses who practically spent their entire lives at work, treating all manner of cases that burst through the double doors. For me, the brilliance of E.R is just how superbly made it is. The writing was some of the best on television at the time and the pace of each episode was relentless. It was exciting to watch from the first episode. On top of that, and the reason it remains my favourite medical drama, are the genuinely interesting and varied characters, who as viewers we watched grow in their careers as they rose through the levels of seniority year on year, gaining experience and confidence.

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The original cast will always be the best ensemble in its history for me and I don’t think the show would have lasted as long as it did had it not had such strong actors in those initial roles. Anthony Edwards (perhaps best known as Goose from Top Gun back then!) was the leader of the gang as Chief Resident Dr. Mark Greene – loyal, dedicated and kind. He became the axis and it wasn’t the same after he’d gone. George Clooney became a household name as Dr. Doug Ross – the flawed paediatrician whose lack of respect for the rules saw him in hot water many times. However his clear love for his patients made us always root for him. Sharry Stringfield was the hard-working Dr. Susan Lewis, whose chemistry with Dr. Greene was one of the ongoing subplots of the early years and it was lovely she returned years later.

However my favourites were always Nurse Carol Hathaway and Dr. John Carter. Carol was never meant to survive the pilot episode but became a fan favourite and her simmering on-off love affair with Dr. Ross made them one of TV’s greatest couples. Julianna Margulies (now hugely successful in The Good Wife) was always superb in the role and over time became a huge part of the emergency room family. And how could you not love John Carter, played wonderfully by Noah Wyle?! We saw him grown from a naive, nervous medical student in to a confident leader of the E.R team, despite a number of difficult times along the way. He was the longest-serving major cast member for 11 years and it was a huge loss when he left. Thank goodness he returned during the final season to remind us how much we’d missed him!

Many other memorable characters came and went (the unique Dr. Kerry Weaver, Dr. Peter Benton, who was a big softie underneath that cool exterior, Alex Kingston’s fun and feisty Dr. Elizabeth Corday, Abbey Lockhart, who went from nurse to doctor and of course Dr. Robert “Rocket” (or helicopter..) Romano! It was a strength of the show that as established characters left, others had been introduced so that we always had someone familiar to keep us watching while we came to know new recruits to the E.R.

If you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll know by now that I love a good list and so here are my top 10 episodes. Most come from the first six years, which remain the best years in my opinion. After that the new guard of cast arrived and soon the remaining links to the early years disappeared and, although still fantastic TV, I never thought it was quite the same.

1. Be Still My Heart / All In The Family (series 6) 

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This powerful two parter is perhaps the storyline that had the most impact on me throughout the show. The final moments of Be Still My Heart were truly devastating to watch as Carter is brutally attacked. If this wasn’t awful enough, we realise that Lucy has already been attacked by the same patient. The following episode demonstrated how superb E.R was at combing quality dramatic scenes with powerful emotion as the E.R family fought to save their own. Surely everyone cried at this one?!

2. The Long Way Around (series 3) 

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A Carol Hathway-centric episode which saw her in the middle of a hostage situation in a convenience store. The episode also saw an early notable guest star in the form of Ewan MccGregor as one of the criminals, who forms a bond with Carol. Tense, superbly acted and a nice break away from the norm.

3. Such Sweet Sorrow (series 6)

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Farewell Carol Hathaway. I was more sad to see Julianna Margulies leave than George Clooney the year before, but her farewell was perfect. An emotional storyline of a dying mother reminding Carol of what was truly important – love and family, culminating in a fantastic reunion with her soulmate Doug Ross as my favourite song played (Taking You Home by Don Henley).

4. May Day (series 6)

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The season finale saw Dr. Carter’s drug addiction following his near fatal attack earlier in the season finally come to a head. Noah Wyle conveyed the all the turmoil Carter went through during this story arc, spiralling out of control and the intervention scene was an important moment for his character. However it’s the moments between Benton and Carter at the end, as Benton makes Carter realise he needs help that put this episode on my favourites list.

5. 24 Hours (Pilot) (series 1)

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Years on, the first episode of E.R remains an example of a brilliant way to start a series – we met the key characters, were thrown in to the manic pace of the E.R (the pace and tracking shots were immediately impressive) and had some shocks to leave us wanting more, particularly Carol’s suicide attempt. Thank goodness she came back! By the end of this 90 minute episode it was clear E.R was going to be appointment television.

6. And In the End… (series 15)

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From the beginning to the end! There are very few series that I think are given a satisfying ending and thankfully after 15 years, E.R’s final episode ensured it was given a proper send off. We saw old faces return and understood that County General would continue – never more perfectly highlighted than seeing Dr. Carter working side by side with the new Dr. Greene, as Mark’s now fully grown daughter started her time at the emergency room.

7. Love’s Labor’s Lost (series 1)

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A truly heartbreaking episode for Mark Greene, in which a pregnant woman’s labour goes terribly wrong. It’s a simply conceived story and its raw emotional heart didn’t fail to move you. The fact it was Greene, who up until then had been the calm, steady leader made it all the more shocking and I never for a moment expected the tragic ending, which added to the show’s realism. The episode also featured Bradley Whitford (who went on to be in another John Well’s show The West Wing) as the father having to cope with unimaginable tragedy.

8. Hell & High Water (series 2) 

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One of the first episodes to be widely talked about, raising the profile of the show and George Clooney, it saw Doug Ross battling to save a young boy from drowning in a storm drain and generated an incredible 48 million viewers in America (the highest of the show’s entire run). The moment he bursts from the water in formal wear, holding the boy in his are was not only an iconic moment for the show but also the moment he became a superstar.

9. The Letter (series 8)

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Mark Greene’s departure had to be mentioned here as it was one of the saddest story lines of the 15 years and in the end I chose this episode rather than the following one, which showed us his final days ad funeral (as it’s just too sad for me and it always annoys me that Ross and Hathaway aren’t there). The title refers to the letter faxed to the E.R, written by Mark before he died, which Carter happily reads to the staff until he reaches the final page from Corday telling them Mark has died. It’s a beautiful scene and what follows is one of my favourite moments, as Carter empties Mark’s locker and poignantly swaps his stethoscope for his. The loss of Greene marked a new era for the show as soon we said farewell to Benton, Lewis, Carter and Weaver.

10. Exodus (Series 4)

A brilliantly paced episode, in which the hospital has to treat patients during a toxic spill. With Dr. Weaver exposed, it’s left to Carter to step up and run the emergency room from the parking lot and canteen! It’s a fabulous moment for him to shine, demonstrating how far he has come and what a wonderful leader he will become.

What are your favourites? Also if you have never watched it, take this opportunity to go it a try. You won’t regret it!