Top 10 Iconic TV Love Triangles



Top 10 Iconic TV Love Triangles

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
If these TV love triangles prove anything, it's that three's a crowd.
Three’s a crowd, right? Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Love Triangles.

For this list, we’re looking at the most memorable love triangles from our favorite shows. We won’t be including animated shows, because that has a list of its own. Because we’re going to be diving deep into these relationships, a spoiler warning is in order.

#10: Ted Mosby, Robin Scherbatsky & Barney Stinson
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

“How I Met Your Mother” opens with the beginning of Ted and Robin’s complicated relationship, which goes through many ups and downs. It simply doesn’t seem meant to be, paving the way for Robin to start a relationship with Barney and eventually marry him in the final season. Many of the love triangles on this list come to their logical conclusion, with fans solidly backing the decisions that the showrunners made in terms of who ended up with who. This show had one of the most controversial series finales of all time, though, revealing that Barney and Robin actually got divorced and Ted was still in love with her after all these years. The two thus get back together following the titular mother’s death.

#9: Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman & Bill Compton
“True Blood” (2008-14)

There have been a lot of vampire shows in the wake of the “Twilight” phenomenon, and one of the OGs was “True Blood.” Sookie Stackhouse had tumultuous (and steamy) relationships with both Bill and Eric, giving fans plenty of great content over the seasons. While she didn’t technically end up with either of them, her relationship with Eric was much shorter than most fans wanted. Sookie and Bill have gone down in TV history as one of the most memorable supernatural couples, but we’ll always have a soft spot for Eric.

#8: Brenda Walsh, Kelly Taylor & Dylan McKay
“Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000)

Some love triangles are resolved quickly, and some can last for years. In the case of Brenda, Kelly, and Dylan, this drama was keeping viewers tuning in season after season. This popular ‘90s teen drama first introduced us to the exciting partnership between new girl Brenda and bad boy Dylan, later adding her friend Kelly into the mix. From that point on, he spends MANY years trying to choose between the two girls (and eventually women). And every time we thought there was finally a conclusion, he’d change his mind all over again. Adding even more confusion to the mix was the fact that Brenda’s brother, Brandon, also had a romantic entanglement with Kelly!

#7: Emma Swan, Neal Cassidy & Captain Hook
“Once Upon a Time” (2011-18)

Emma and Neal were one of the fraught couples from the early seasons, with Neal seemingly abandoning Emma and Henry, only to later reveal that it was all in the interest of helping her achieve her destiny. While she wants to focus on Henry, she can’t help but be caught up between her new romance with Killian Jones, aka Captain Hook, and her old feelings for Neal. This is a love triangle with a clear winner, though, because Emma and Hook get their happily ever after, with the series ending with them as a happy little family with a baby of their own.

#6: Buffy Summers, Angel & Spike
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Let’s say right off the bat that we’re not going to choose sides on this one. Buffy and Angel are one of the iconic vampire romance couples of the modern age, and yet fans are still split as to whether Angel or Spike was actually a better match for her. While both are vampires, Spike has more of that bad boy appeal, and has an extremely antagonistic relationship with Buffy before they get together. In proper feminist fashion, Buffy doesn’t “end up” with either of these undead hotties at the end of the series, but rather the series closes with her facing the world alone.

#5: Jane Villanueva, Rafael Solano & Michael Cordero Jr.
“Jane the Virgin” (2014-19)

“Jane the Virgin” kicks off with Jane being accidentally inseminated by the man that she had a teenage crush on, while she’s engaged to someone else. Sound complicated? Well it is. For the entire run of this show, Jane had to choose between Michael, the guy she was with at the beginning, and Rafeal, the father of her child. There are countless twists and turns, including Michael’s death… and inevitable resurrection! But wait he has amnesia! In the end, Jane chooses Rafeal and this little family gets a happy ending.

#4: Rory Gilmore, Jess Mariano & Dean Forester
“Gilmore Girls” (2000-07)

The first season of “Gilmore Girls” introduces us to Rory and Dean as a couple, and they’re about as sweet and innocent as can be. In the second season, however, a wrench is thrown into their relationship when Jess arrives in Stars Hollow and Rory takes an interest in him. Dean and Rory eventually break up because of this, although they get back together eventually and for much of the series, it’s uncertain who is really endgame. Rory may have ended up single at the end of the show’s initial run, but “A Year in the Life” dropped more than a few hints that it’s not totally over for Rory and Jess…

#3: Peyton Sawyer, Lucas Scott & Brooke Davis
“One Tree Hill” (2003-12)

Fans probably knew how this one was going to turn out from the start, but that didn’t make watching it all unfold any less exciting. Peyton had been Lucas’s big crush for years before he actually spoke to her, and when they finally became part of each other’s lives, he only liked her more. But he soon started dating Brooke, and then a twisted web of lies and infidelity followed. Lucas bounced back and forth between Peyton and Brooke for a long time, but it was always obvious (to viewers at least!) that in the end it had to be Peyton.

#2: Dawson Leery, Joey Potter & Pacey Witter
“Dawson's Creek” (1998-2003)

The mark of a good TV love triangle is if it splits fans of the show, leaving some uncertain of who they should ship. On “Dawson's Creek,” they did a great job of this by setting up the expectation that Dawson and Joey were meant to be, and then dashing it by introducing her romance with his best friend Pacey instead. There are definitely people out there who still think that Dawson and Joey’s history means that they are really soul mates, but most people were happy with the flash-forward ending that saw Joey and Pacey making it work.

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

Rachel Berry, Finn Hudson & Quinn Fabray
“Glee” (2009-15)

Seth Cohen, Summer Roberts & Anna Stern
“The O.C.” (2003-07)

Amy Juergens, Ricky Underwood & Ben Boykewich
“The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (2008-13)

Mary Stuart, Francis II & Sebastian "Bash" de Poitiers
“Reign” (2013-17)

Jack Shephard, Kate Austen & James "Sawyer" Ford
“Lost” (2004-10)

#1: Elena Gilbert, Damon Salvatore & Stefan Salvatore,
“The Vampire Diaries” (2009-17)

Ah the classic tale, a young girl must choose between two handsome vampires. “The Vampire Diaries” may have come after “Buffy” and “True Blood,” but there may have been no paranormal love triangle that got fans so emotionally invested as this one. Elena started off with Stefan, but his brother Damon eventually stole her heart. What adds another layer to this love triangle is the fact that Elena happens to look exactly like Katherine, the woman that Damon and Stefan were both in love with before Elena came along. Most fans were happy, though, when Damon and Elena ended up together at last.