You’re not alone if you’ve ever fallen so in love with your favorite TV couple and thought – “They should totally get together in real life.” And it’s not just the fans who think that – the actors themselves frequently get it in their heads that this would be a good idea, and give it a go.
Sometimes, the off-screen chemistry mirrors the off-screen chemistry and the relationship is a success – as is the case with Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher in That 70’s Show (well, ten or so years after the fact), Kit Harington and Rose Leslie in Game of Thrones, and Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer in True Blood. Sometimes.
Relationships between co-stars happen on all levels of production – films, television shows, and theatre work – anything where intimacy and long hours are involved, you’ve got the recipe for a potential (and potentially explosive) relationship. For the sake of this list, however, we’re going to narrow the scope to disastrous relationships that occurred behind the scenes on your favourite television shows.
Here are 15 Disastrous Behind-The-Scenes TV Romances.
15. Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter)
This famous television duo played brother and sister on screen and got together off screen. Although, to be fair, even in the show Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall’s character have an attraction – and despite the fact that they’re adoptive siblings, it’s a pretty uncomfortable storyline.
Carpenter and Hall met on the set of Dexter and began dating 2007 – then in 2008 they eloped in a private ceremony. They went through some tough times together; Hall suffered from Hodgkins lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with shortly after their marriage. In November 2010, their separation was announced.
Following that, the couple endured a lot of tension and awkwardness during public appearances related to the continued success of Dexter. In one interview, Carpenter gets teary and tersely addresses a reporter who prompts the panel of actors to play ‘Kiss, Marry, Kill’ with the cast of Dexter, asking: “You understand why this is loaded, don’t you?”
14. Dominic Monaghan and Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Lost co-stars Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan started dating in 2004, right at the beginning of their tenure on the show. They were a hit with the paparazzi, and genuinely seemed like a fun-loving, happy couple. They tried very hard to keep the romance under wraps, with Monaghan stating that the “one thing I can try and keep sacred and special is my love life.”
The two split in 2007, with Lilly moving on in a timely fashion to Lost production assistant Norman Kali, with whom she has two children. However, all is not settled between the two ex co-stars; in December 2013 Monaghan took to Twitter to reveal the truth behind his feelings toward Lilly post split.
He commented on her role in The Hobbit, saying: “Evangeline looked unreal in the Hobbit, man oh man — nah. I don’t date cheaters.” Monaghan’s tweet painted a picture of a less than amicable break-up, at the very least.
13. Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill)
Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush’s characters had a brief romance as Lucas Scott and Brooke Davis in One Tree Hill, and the chemistry carried over into the two young actor’s personal lives, as well. Murray and Bush started dating in 2003 after meeting on set for One Tree Hill; they married shortly after in 2005 – both actors were still in their early twenties.
Young love had clearly carried both the actors away, as they separated only five months later and finalized their divorce in December 2006. This was amid rumours that Murray had cheated on Bush with Paris Hilton during filming of the horror flick House of Wax. Bush has admitted to significant tensions marring the set of One Tree Hill following the relationship’s demise, but insists her work is always the number one priority – awkward or no. Bush went on to date two of her other One Tree Hill co-stars, which couldn’t help matters.
12. Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)
The short-lived and momentarily hugely popular superhero drama Heroes ran from 2006 until 2010, with a grand total of four seasons. Both Hayden Panettiere and Milo Ventimiglia were leads on the show, with Panittiere playing a high school cheerleader, and Ventimiglia playing a hospice nurse – which was relatively accurate in its representative of the two actors’ age differences (he was 31 and she was 19 when the show began). This was also likely a factor in the tension that resulted in the aftermath of their breakup; however, it didn’t stop them from dating – they got together in 2007 and broke up in 2009.
The couple was frequently in the limelight, which also likely made the breakup and resulting work on set tense. Ventimiglia has gone on record saying that dating a co-star is something he’d “never do again.” The official story was that the pair split over having different lifestyles, but there was always a rumour floating around that Panittiere had gotten a little too close to one-time heartthrob Jesse McCartney.
11. Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks)
Freaks and Geeks was a short-lived television series centring on a gang of awkward high-schoolers fumbling through life and love; since its cancelation after one season, it’s gathered a huge cult following.
Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini portrayed character who fall into an uncomfortable and at times painful romance; like their on-screen portrayals, the two actors went on to date in real life, even after the show was abruptly canceled.
The two broke up after a few years together, reportedly after Segel went into a spiral during a period of unemployment. Word is that she dumped him in the midst of this, after Segel gained twenty pounds – Segel doesn’t deny this, but says that it was the weight gain was a symptom of the problem, not the reason for the breakup.
Furthermore, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film created by and starring Segel, depicts a breakup in which a successful actress girlfriend dumps her in-a-rut artist boyfriend, leaving him to suffer a pseudo breakdown in the nude – this is reportedly based on the breakup between Cardellini and Segel.
10. Naya Rivera and Mark Salling (Glee)
The two young actors rose to stardom on the break-out musical drama Glee, where they each played members of the titular Glee club. The two characters shared some on screen flirtation, but nothing major came from their storyline – a different story played out off-screen.
Rivera and Salling dated for three years before calling it quits in 2010; it was Salling’s call to end the relationship, and Rivera reveals in her memoir Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes & Growing Up, that at the time it was “the worst thing ever.” Worse still, they had to continue to work in close quarters as the popularity of Glee soared.
Salling was arrested in December 2015 on charges of child pornography, and Rivera has since reflected on the relationship, saying: “He was always just a very dark soul to me” and that “[she] always felt like there was something that he was wrestling with.” Rivera looks back on the relationship as a bad judgement call, ultimately summing it up with by adding: “You make such poor decisions in who you are going to date when you are 21, 22.”
9. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Kennedy (Ghost Whisperer)
The two stars of Ghost Whisperer dated for a year – from March 2009 to March 2010. Though the two seemed very much in love during their relationship, with Jamie Kennedy publicly announcing their relationship by saying of Jenifer Love-Hewitt, “You are hot. You can sing, you can dance, you’re, like, so smart and, wow, you can cook pasta fagioli, too” – they did not make it in the long run.
Though engagement rumours swirled around after a comedy performance of Kennedy where he reportedly and spontaneously proposed to Hewitt (and she accepted), they did not make it to the altar. Kennedy has gone on record to detail his discomfort with their relationship, stating that it felt as though people were rooting against them.
Kennedy felt ill at ease dating such a big Hollywood – everything was scrutinized and analyzed, and that ultimately lead to the relationship’s end. Who can blame him, with a tabloid describing their relationship as Hewitt “scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
8. Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer (House)
Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer met on the set of House, where each respectively starred as a doctor on House’s diagnostics team. The two actors started dating shortly after, which lined up nicely with the romantic storyline between their two characters, which started to develop in the second season of the series.
Though their characters successfully made it down the aisle in the season five finale (before divorcing), the two actors never got that far. Spencer proposed to Morrison on top of the Eiffel Tower during a Christmas vacation – she accepted, but called the wedding off months later. Morrison had even been featured on a bridal magazine, and the two had to continue to portray a couple very much in love on the show.
Spencer has admit to struggling with the breakup, saying – “for a while I didn’t know where I was” and conceding that it brought him to some dark places. The pair put on a good face for the sake of it, but the breakup clearly wreaked havoc in their personal and professional lives.
7. Leighton Meester and Sebastian Stan (Gossip Girl)
Despite Leighton Meester’s notorious knack for keeping her private life out of the public sphere (her marriage to Adam Brody in a secret ceremony came as a surprise to many fans, some of whom were still catching up to the fact they were an item), rumors continue to swirl about her romance with Gossip Girl co-star Sebastian Stan.
The two first met in 2008 on the set of the show, and dated for two years following. Things got a little less chill after the break – both were somewhat mum on the subject at the time, but Meester has opened up about the split. She wrote a song about it in 2014; though the singer never names names, the timing is right.
As to the meaning behind “Heartstrings”, Meester says the song is a proverbial “f*** you” to a guy who broke her heart in her mid-twenties. Meester also quipped: “At the time it was like, ‘Screw you, I don’t care about you anymore, and it’s not going to happen! Joker.'” Doesn’t sound like the amicable of splits.
6. Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestly (Beverly Hills 90210)
Beverly Hills 90210 was one of the hottest shows of the ’90s, and it propelled most of its young, main cast to teen heartthrob status of the course of the show’s ten seasons. Jason Priestly and Shannen Doherty were at the forefront of this, with their characters, twin siblings Brandon and Brenda Walsh, leading the show as two newcomers to Beverly Hills.
Priestly and Doherty struck it off on a different level off screen: the two dated fleetingly during the run of the show, as Priestly revealed to Howard Stern years after the fact. There’s nothing surprising there, as most of the young stars have to come to reveal that many of the stars dated each other at one point or another – however, it seems tensions have not altogether settled between Priestly and Doherty.
5. Patrick Dempsey and Grey’s Intern (Grey’s Anatomy)
After eleven seasons of the hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey’s character (“McDreamy”) was killed off before the Season 11 finale. Though Dempsey insists the departure was long overdue and that he should have “moved on a couple years earlier,” the rumour mill has ground out reports that the long-married actor cheated on his wife with an unnamed Grey’s Anatomy intern.
A source claims the actor’s affair with the anonymous staffer was “very messy and emotional on set” and was a “huge liability.” This seems to line up a little too perfectly to the announcement that Dempsey and his wife, Jillian Fink, were divorcing, which broke in January 2015, just before Dempsey’s character suffered his untimely death
. Though the two reconciled and the divorce was called off in 2016, it’s clear something serious was up – and if the rumours are to be believed, it was a classic case of behind the scenes attraction going too far.
4. Sophia Bush and Jesse Lee Soffer (Chicago P.D.)
If at first you do not succeed, try, try again! Sophia Bush got back at it with Chicago P.D. co-star Jesse Lee Soffer, with whom they were starring together in from the show’s inception in 2014 until Bush was written out in season four.
Reportedly, the two started dating in 2014 and were spotted in public holding hands in 2015 in New York. Like many before them, the characters on the show also shared a romantic storyline. After nearly a year of dating the pair split, citing they “grew apart” – despite spending ample time together both personally and professionally.
To make things more complicated, there have been reports of the two looking cozy post-breakup – it’s obviously a complicated situation. If the breakup impacted Bush’s decision to leave the show, it’s not entirely clear – Bush claims it was to focus on film work – but it certainly couldn’t have been an ideal situation to find herself in once again.
3. Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones)
Although Lena Headey (Cersei) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) were not an item during the run of Game of Thrones, it has been reported that they dated in the past. The two were first rumoured to be a couple in 2002, although by 2003, Flynn had commented: “We’re not a couple right now, people have seen us together and jumped to conclusions. I can’t rule out a relationship with her in the future, I just don’t know.” However, this statement seemed to be out of the question by the time Game of Thrones came to fruition.
It’s reported that the two actors can’t even be in the same room together. If you watch the series, you’ll notice the two characters never interact, despite their respective storylines being dangerously close – Flynn’s character was the pseudo bodyguard of Headey’s character’s estranged brother, and also a companion of her twin/lover. Hopefully the awkwardness of their relationship doesn’t impair the integrity of their character’s storylines too drastically.
2. Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch)
Even though they portrayed brother and sister on-screen (although to be totally fair, they were only step brother and sister) on The Brady Bunch, that didn’t stop Williams’ and McCormick’s teenage hormones from raging off-screen.
McCormick dishes about the attraction between the two in her memoir, Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. McCormick says there was significant tension between the two young actors, and that during the episode where the two siblings fight over an upstairs bedroom, the actors “couldn’t keep their hands off each other.”
McCormick recounts their first kiss as steamy and passionate, and admits to thinking – albeit fleetingly – that it was weird to be kissing her brother. McCormick was set to have Williams be her first time – that is, until his parents burst in on the two of them fooling around. Yikes. Not exactly an ideal situation for two love-lorn teens – the romance died soon after.
1. Keri Russell and Scott Speedman (Felicity)
Felicity aired from 1998 to 2002, with Keri Russell and Scott Speedman starring the main roles. The two engaged in a romantic relationship off-screen during the latter half of the show, breaking up after three years in 2001, just shy of the show ended its run.
Years later, the two stars went on Jimmy Kimmel Live to dish about their relationship – and there were no holds barred. Russell called out Speedman as a “disaster of a boyfriend”. They also dished about Russell’s notorious hair cut fiasco and Speedman’s inability to hold his cool about it, with him claiming he “got to work and she turned around the corner and my face sort of froze in a half-panic, half-smile situation. It just did not pull it off and [she] called me on it.”
Clearly there’s a lot of history there between the two – and obviously the stars were not meant to be – but if their example proves anything, it’s that time can heal all wounds.
Are there other disastrous relationships that went on behind-the-scenes of TV shows? Share your scoop in the comments!
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