Heart-Broke. One of the most painful feelings we have in this world. Unrequited love, lost love, the ones that got away. Yet, as terrible as it is, we pursue it in literature and entertainment.
My friend and inspiration, Brenna, has compiled three comprehensive lists on the best, worst, and sexiest couples of sci-fi and fantasy. My favorite way to write a blog post is to craft a companion piece for her work, which spares me the trouble of developing my own ideas. My maudlin, pained aesthetic demands I respond to her lists with my own: The most tragic Sci-Fi TV relationships. Because we seek out the heartbreak.
5. The Doctor & Rose: Doctor Who
There’s going to be some overlap with these lists, so let’s start with the most obvious one. A consummate New Who fan, Brenna has put Rose & The Doctor on her list of best couples, and you can read her reasoning here.
To be honest, Rose and The Doctor never really blew me away as a couple. I never disliked them, but I was never that touched by them, either. The Doctor’s brief relationship with the Madame de Pompadour felt more earnest and sincere than his relationship with Rose. The argument could be made that The Doctor and Madame de Pompadour belong on this list more than Rose and The Doctor… ah, fuck it.
5: The Doctor & Madame de Pompadour
This is, without a doubt, the most romantic, passionate, sexy, and tragic relationship Doctor Who ever gave us. The chemistry between The Doctor and Madame de Pompadour is palpable, and the tragedy of their relationship doesn’t make either of them a victim. Plus, Madame de Pompadour is my second favorite historical mistress of a king.
The tragedy: The Doctor can step into moments in the life of Jeanne Antoinette Poisson (her last name is fish), but he has no control over when he shows up. The passion and romance between them is immediate, but limited by the massive hurdles of time and space.
The Most Tragic Moment: The Doctor, having found out that she passed away, “I’m always alright.”
4. Willow & Tara: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Willow and Tara, even more than Willow and Oz, are the sweetest, gentlest, healthiest couple in the entire Whedonverse. Tara is a stabilizing, strengthening point for Willow, and Willow is Tara’s life. Of course, this all comes crashing down when Willow chooses drugs/magic over Tara for a while (season 6 is heavy handed), and when they do finally make up and a have a beautiful night together, Tara is accidentally shot and killed, causing Willow to go all dark and apocalyptic.
The Tragedy: I mean. It’s Whedon. The tragedy is that they’re a beautiful, wonderful couple. So of course it won’t last.
Most Tragic Moment: From: “There’s just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again on both sides. You have to learn if – if we’re even the same people we were. If you can fit in each others lives. It’s a long and important process, and can we just skip it? C-Can you just be kissing me now? “, to “Your shirt.”
3. Spike Spiegel & Julia: Cowboy Bebop
I don’t normally write about anime, but this is a perfect place for it. Cowboy Bebop is a fantastic and short series about space pirates. Its noir aesthetic and blues-ridden soundtrack set it apart from other space dramas, as does its mature character writing. It’s a show about a group of bounty hunters–questionable, amoral folk on the fringes of space.
The Tragedy: Spike Spiegel is a fascinating character: part melancholic anime trope trope, part unique and rich character. The show does a wonderful job slowly revealing his history and tragedies, especially in respect to his lost love, Julia. They only finally find one another in the last episode or so.
The Most Tragic Moment: I normally have a deep-seeded problem with the female love interest being killed to further the story, or inspire the hero. It’s a trope referred to as “Women in refrigerators”, and it’s extremely problematic. Still, Cowboy Bebop handles it with maturity and brutality. Moments after finally meeting up again after so long, Julia is gunned down by a random thug. Spike takes him down quickly, but is all to late. His entire reason for being is gone. All he has left is vengeance. It’s success comes from that the fact he is not made by her death–he’s destroyed by it.
2. Chuck & The Piemaker: Pushing Daisies.
Pushing Daisies is a cult show that lasted only two seasons, destroyed by an unconventional premise, stylized cinematography, and an ill-timed writers strike. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do. It’s all on Netflix, and it’s one of the most beautiful, charming, and loveable fantasy shows ever crafted.
In it, Ned, the Piemaker, is gifted with the ability to bring the dead to life with a touch. A second touch sends them back to the grave, and if he waits for more than a minute to touch them again, someone else dies. In the pilot of the show, he resurrects his long-lost childhood love, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles. Reunited but separated by their inability to touch, the couple explores what it means to be in love and incapable of physical contact. It’s brilliant, funny, and heartbreaking.
The Most Tragic Moment: Every saran-wrap kiss and rubber glove hand-hold.
1. Fred & Wesley: Angel
Whedon is apt at creating heartbreaking moments and relationships, and this talent peaked with his most tragic, star-crossed of couples: Wesley and Fred. It took them the length of the show to finally end up together, and as soon as they did, Fred was stolen from Wesley–Worse than killed, her soul was burned away and her body hollowed out to make room for an Elder God, a living mockery of the woman Wesley loved.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: I know what you’re thinking. “Do you want me to lie to you now?” Because that’s the obvious one. It’s painful, beautiful, tragic. But I’m going to say that the most heartbreaking moment comes seasons beforehand, in “Waiting in the Wings”. Wesley, due to some miscommunication, thinks that the woman he loves returns the sentiment. In fact, she is interested not in Wesley, but Gunn, something Wesley discovers when, victorious after a battle with some theatrical monsters, he finds the two kissing. Falling to his knees, and unnoticed by the new lovers, he realizes the emotion that has drives the evil spirit of the ballet: Jealousy.
Angel had some really good moments.
So go forth, embrace your loved ones. Your relationship tragedies can’t be as bad as these ones. And if they are, I’m deeply sorry.