More often than not, the jock and the cheerleader end up together in a television series. The two geeky loners find love with each other. The characters with similar interests, social standings, and backgrounds are the ones who – often – will be paired up with each other not just in television, but in real life as well. Sometimes, though, television breaks the mold and presents some unlikely television pairings that the audience winds up enjoying even more than the stereotypical meant-to-be romances.
Here are ten television couples who are a bit unlikely (or at least would elicit a double-take from passersby in real life) but whose relationships actually worked really well on their respective television shows and were often embraced.
This is Screen Rant's list of 10 TV Romances That Shouldn't Have Worked, But Did!
10 Doug and Carrie (The King of Queens)
It’s rare that two people like Doug and Carrie would find each other in real life and that they would work. But on The King of Queens, that’s exactly what happened. Doug is a completely average person – he has a normal job and is pretty unassuming in terms of looks and personality. And then there’s Carrie, who is a bitingly sarcastic and beautiful bombshell. It doesn’t make sense that these two characters worked as well as they did, but the pairing succeeded because it allowed both Doug and Carrie to reveal their quirks.
Doug may have been average to everyone else, but Carrie loved him because – to her – he was extraordinary. And though Carrie was beautiful, that’s not what made Doug stay with her. He loved her because of her quirks and her spunk and her intricacies. It seems impossible that these two would work out, but they really did. And they were believable.
9 Paul and Jenna (30 Rock)
Paul and Jenna were definitely an interesting couple. Paul, a professional female impersonator, was most renowned for his performances as Jenna Maroney. While in any other circumstance outside of the 30 Rock universe that would be strange, Jenna was attracted to him.
And they worked, truly, because Paul loved pretending to be Jenna and Jenna loved an excuse to date and marry the one person she loves most in the world – herself. And you know what? It worked.
8 Cappie and Casey (Greek)
He was the slacker and she the model sorority girl. His room looked like a tornado threw up and hers was the pristine adult version of a Barbie dream house. Their personalities were the major elements that made them totally wrong for one another.
And yet, somehow, Cappie and Casey worked and became Greek’s foundational romantic pairing. Perhaps it was because Cappie’s enthusiasm and immaturity allowed Casey to be more than just a rigid, type-A archetypal character. Or maybe it’s because Casey’s drive and desires made Cappie fight harder for the things he wanted. Whatever the case, these two were dynamite together.
7 Hook and Emma (Once Upon A Time)
On paper, this pairing is totally absurd. A one-handed villainous fairytale pirate and a young, seemingly normal woman shouldn’t work together. Logically, it seems improbable. It’s far more likely that characters such as Snow White and Prince Charming end up together in Once Upon A Time.
But, expected or not, Hook and Emma have become a cornerstone on which the ABC series now rests. He valiantly fights for her; she opens her heart up to him. He makes quips and jokes; she fires barbs right back. He softens; she rises to heroism. Even though they are an unlikely pairing, Hook and Emma definitely do seem to work well together.
6 Dwight and Angela (The Office)
On his own (and without scenes with Michael and/or Jim), Dwight can be an abrasive and often insufferable character. Logically, pairing him with another judgmental and insufferable character should make audience members groan at the very least and balk at worst.
But Dwight and Angela’s relationship on The Office was something that allowed both characters to become even more sympathetic to the audience, ironically. Just watch episodes where Dwight is quietly pining for Angela (episodes like “Money,” for example) – the show managed to take a completely unlikely pairing and turn them into a fan favorite of the series.
5 Puck and Quinn (Glee)
While Puck was a jock and Quinn was a cheerleader, these two aren’t the characters you would expect to be in a relationship that actually works. Before Glee bounced around Puck and Quinn from romance to romance, they revealed that Quinn was carrying Puck's, not Finn’s, child. And Puck… well, he was the archetypal bully. And Quinn was the seemingly-innocent-but-really-vicious head cheerleader.
It doesn’t seem like these two are destined to be together on paper, simply because their similarities might make them unbearable to watch. But Puck and Quinn’s relationship was actually one of the most humanizing things about Glee’s earlier seasons. Both characters softened around each other and became better people because of their love. Puck and Quinn learned how to sacrifice and compromise, to think of people other than themselves, and – as a result – made themselves and the people around them better too. Plus, they were adorable together.
4 Barney and Robin (How I Met Your Mother)
Here, we have the womanizing character with commitment issues and the fiercely independent woman (also with commitment issues). And before How I Met Your Mother decimated them in the series finale, Barney and Robin’s relationship was unexpectedly moving and really, truly worked. She became more relatable and he became bearable. Barney Stinson was a hilarious character in his own right, but he was often unbelievable in how he treated his conquests. Robin, on the other hand, was less problematic in terms of relatability but often lacked the depth of empathy required from the audience.
Even though it seems unlikely these two would actually work as characters without making each other far worse off than when they entered a relationship, Barney and Robin really did succeed as a pairing. They became more fully-realized characters because of their relationship. The audience gravitated toward them and cared about their journey.
3 J.D. and Elliot (Scrubs)
J.D. is a goofy, man-child doctor and Elliot is a babbling blonde (slightly crazy) doctor as well. Perhaps many watching Scrubs often wondered: “A girl like that and a guy like him? Really?”
But the truth is that for unlikely a pairing as J.D. and Elliot were, they really did work. They were slightly crazy, but they were crazy together. Neither one was the “straight man” in their relationship. J.D. was having full-on daydreams in his head, sure, but then Elliot was also freaking out over hanging out with the “gyno girls,” so really… was their an inequality actually an inequality after all?
2 Schmidt and Cece (New Girl)
Schmidt and Cece don’t seem like they would work on any level. They don’t have much in common, they come from very different backgrounds, and they seem to annoy each other more than anything else.
And so, however unlikely the pairing may be, it was a pleasant surprise when New Girl decided to hook these two up because they actually work. They’re cute together, elicit “aww’s” and have genuinely made each other better throughout the course of their relationship. We're sincerely thankful that the series chose to do something unexpected with them.
1 Leonard and Penny (The Big Bang Theory)
A scientist and a pretty blonde waitress don’t an expected pairing make. And yet, that’s exactly what The Big Bang Theory did throughout the past few years with Leonard and Penny. It’s initially uncertain as to why Penny might be interested in someone like Leonard (it’s not a stretch to know why Leonard would be interested in Penny, of course, because she’s beautiful), but throughout the series, the writers focused on Penny and Leonard’s chemistry as individuals – both platonically and romantically.
They have been through their fair share of rough patches, but I think their unexpected romance is one of the things that has grounded the multi-camera comedy over the years. These two are definitely an unlikely pairing, but they’ve worked because of that, not in spite of it.
What other TV romances should have worked better then they did? Can you think of any that deserved a spot on our list? Let us know in the comments below!
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