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Top 10 Movie Couples Who Are Actually Toxic

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
Let’s be honest, some of the couples from our favorite romance movies actually have pretty toxic relationships. They say that love can blind you from the truth. When you take a closer look at couples likes Bella Swan and Edward Cullen or Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, it becomes clear that they might actually bring out the worst in each other as opposed to the best. MsMojo ranks the most toxic movie couples. Which couple do you think is the most toxic? Let us know in the comments!
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Top 10 Movie Couples Who Are Actually Toxic


Love comes in many shapes and sizes - some not so healthy. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Couples Who Are Actually Toxic.

For this list, we’re looking at romanticized film couples who bring out the worst in each other. Couples who ultimately recognize their own toxicity however, like "Heathers'" J.D. and Veronica, won’t be included.

#10: Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchanan
“The Great Gatsby” (2013)


Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, 2013's "The Great Gatsby" remains relatively faithful to the source material; in other words, Gatsby and Daisy are doomed from the start. A World War I veteran, Gatsby returns home to learn that the love of his life, Daisy, married another man to secure a comfortable future. Using various shady means, Gatsby builds a fortune to win back a woman who does not really exist; Gatsby idealizes Daisy to a toxic degree. The film does criticize the title character's delusional romanticism, but it struggles to convincingly get this message across, leaving room for some to interpret it as a tragic romance rather than the one-sided obsession that it is.

#9: Sandy Olsson & Danny Zuko
“Grease” (1978)


Sparks flew instantly when these two high schoolers met during summer vacation, but a clash of personalities and social backgrounds stood in the way of a full-blown romance. As cinema's quintessential "good girl falls in love with bad boy" love story, "Grease"'s infectious songs and charismatic cast help mask Sandy and Danny's lopsided relationship. In order to earn the right to stand alongside the greaser gang's leader, Sandy completely alters her personality and clothing, while Danny's efforts mainly amount to putting on a sweater. Rather than meeting halfway, Sandy sacrifices 80% to Danny's 20.

#8: Edward Lewis & Vivian Ward
“Pretty Woman” (1990)


Pushing past the deceased prostitute in a dumpster, "Pretty Woman" is a modern Disney fairy tale. An emotionless wealthy businessman obsessed with appearances, Edward hires the assertive but earnest Vivian as a makeshift girlfriend for six days. Long story short; Vivian loosens Edward up, while the rich man saves the princess from a life on the streets. Starting out as a dark drama with a far more downbeat conclusion, "Pretty Woman" uses Richard Gere and Julia Roberts' indisputable chemistry to hide the fact Edward and Vivian have absolutely nothing in common. While the so-called “corporate raider and womanizer” does eventually become a little nicer, Edward never really stops seeing Vivian as property to own.

#7: Indiana Jones & Willie Scott
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)


If "Raiders of the Lost Ark's" Marion Ravenwood is Indiana Jones' equal in every way, then the prequel's love interest is the exact opposite. A singer working in a Shanghai nightclub, Willie is inadvertently dragged on a wild adventure by Indiana Jones, with the two eventually becoming romantically involved. Along with showing little regard for the singer's safety, Indy seems constantly annoyed by Willie and does not even bother hiding it. "Temple of Doom" only brings this couple together because Indiana Jones is an action hero and action heroes must get the girl - even they make for a terrible match, apparently.

#6: Rhett Butler & Scarlett O'Hara
“Gone with the Wind” (1939)


Frequently ranked amongst the greatest romances of all times, "Gone With the Wind" is a gorgeous epic about a couple who are simultaneously perfect and awful for each other. While undeniably strong and charming, Scarlett is also immature, selfish, and incapable of accepting rejection. In fact, the protagonist spends the whole movie trying to impress the married Ashley Wilkes, the one man seemingly capable of resisting her spell. Coming in as husband number three, Rhett is the only person who loves the real Scarlett, although the character is not exactly a gentleman. By the time Scarlett reciprocates her husband's affection, Rhett has pretty much already given up on the romance.

#5: Belle & Beast
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991; 2017)


Whenever Disney's gothic fairy tale is mentioned, the word Stockholm syndrome tends to be brought up. While the captive does end up falling for their captor, this bond arguably stems from Beast's genuine attempts to change for the better, rather than as a survival mechanism for Belle. Even if "Beauty and the Beast" does not mistake Stockholm syndrome for love however, Belle and Beast's relationship still carries too much baggage to ever be wholesome. 2017's version is arguably even worse, as the remake ramps up Beast's bitterness while cutting out quite a few tender moments from the animated film that showed the captor trying to become a better person.

#4: John James ‘Mr. Big’ Preston & Carrie Bradshaw
“Sex and the City” (2008)


Carrie dates dozens of guys throughout the TV series’ six seasons, but the fashionista's gaze always shifts back to the elusive Mr. Big. HBO's series ends with the couple finally coming together to seemingly live happily-ever-after; unfortunately, the subsequent two movies seem content to only highlight the couple's animosity. "Sex and the City" presents Mr. Big as an unattainable ideal who has no place in Carrie's reality, but the two end up together despite years of failed attempts. People do not just change, and the movies only cement this point. In fact, in the first film, Mr. Big leaves Carrie at the altar and apologizes through an email! Who does that? The answer: someone you shouldn’t keep trying to build a life with.

#3: Bella Swan & Edward Cullen
“The Twilight Saga” (2008-12)


Centering a massive franchise around a toxic relationship is perfectly fine, permitting the story acknowledges that the couple is kind of terrible. "Twilight" sadly lacks this self-awareness. Edward is a centuries-old vampire who nonetheless attends high school; conversely, Bella is a 17-year-old girl with low self-esteem and a hankering for some fang on neck action. Craving excitement and validation, Bella is an easy mark for an abusive partner, a role earnestly filled by Edward. Prone to bouts of jealousy and desperate to control Bella's every move, the vampire molds the teenager into an obedient human partner. Of course, it doesn’t take long for Bella to similarly master the art of emotional manipulation.

#2: Christian Grey & Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele
“Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015)


Emotional abuse masquerading as a fetish relationship, "Fifty Shades of Grey"'s core relationship hits so many glaring red flags that any genuinely romantic moments feel accidental. The timid Anastasia agrees to serve as the rich Christian's sub; who proceeds to isolate, stalk, intimidate, and manipulate the inexperienced girl. Along with misrepresenting the core values of a healthy BDSM dynamic, "Fifty Shades of Grey" paints the pair's relationship as exciting and a work-in-progress. Anastasia repeatedly gives Christian a second chance, in the hope the dude will eventually change for the better - which is like the #1 thing you’re not supposed to do in a healthy relationship.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

Heathcliff & Cathy Earnshaw Linton
“Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights” (1992)

Benjamin Braddock & Elaine Robinson
“The Graduate” (1967)

Claire Standish & John Bender

Abigail ‘Abby’ Richter & Mike Chadway

#1: The Joker & Harley Quinn
“Suicide Squad” (2016)


"Batman: The Animated Series" introduces Harley Quinn as Joker's partner, and while the relationship is problematic from the start, it reaches peak crazy in “Suicide Squad”. A psychiatrist working at Arkham Asylum, Harley is manipulated by Joker into becoming the villain's verbal punching bag. At best, Joker sees Harlequin as an amusing distraction; at worst, the sidekick is a tool to be used and discarded at a moment's notice. Due to Mr. J's scenes revolving solely around Harley, "Suicide Squad" paints the couple as an insane duo who take “toxic” to a whole new level. Harley's entire existence revolves around the Joker, but the reverse does not hold true.
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