Well-Executed TV Long Triangles

I love a really well written love triangle between characters on a TV show. I’m not talking about shows where the lead characters have an ongoing will-they or won’t-they relationship and the writers throw in some other character for a short arc to keep them apart for a little while longer. Those can be fun too at times, but are often written in such a way that you know that the interfering characters won’t be sticking around or are written in such a way that the audience never gets to know them so of course would never root for them.

What I’m talking about is a real love triangle featuring 3 characters that are a significant part of the show, characters that are so well known that fans take sides and vehemently root for whichever couple they want to be together. Or sometimes the triangle is so well written that fans don’t even know who to root for or change their mind. These sorts of love triangles tend to pop up on your more soapy, often geared towards teenagers shows, but I’m not afraid to admit that love triangles are one of the things I like best about TV.

Here’s some of the shows I can think of that had really well executed love triangles, at least for awhile, with the couple I was rooting for in parentheses. Sometimes these things fall apart because the writers are too afraid to eventually commit to one of the relationships. On the other hand sometimes the love triangle may be played out well but end with the couple you weren’t rooting for, which can also suck. Nevertheless they are fun to watch in the making.

  • Battlestar Galactica — Apollo/Starbuck/Anders (Team Apollo)
  • Beverly Hills 90210 — Brenda/Dylan/Kelly (Team Kelly)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Angel/Buffy/Spike (Team Spike)
  • Dawson’s Creek — Dawson/Joey/Pacey (Team Pacey)
  • Gilmore Girls — Christopher/Lorelei/Luke (Team Luke) incidentally this is one instance I can think of that for a time I was actually rooting for the character you knew was never going to last in the storyline with Jason Stiles (that is until they turned him into a tool at the end of his arc)
  • Lost — Jack/Kate/Sawyer (Team Jack)
  • Veronica Mars — Duncan/Veronica/Logan (Team Logan)

And finally my current favorite TV love triangle, which inspired this post (yes I do have the television viewing habits of a 12 year old girl).

  • Vampire Diaries Damon/Elena/Stefan (Team Damon)

This is a love triangle between brother Stefan and Damon and Stefan’s (currently) ex-girlfriend. There’s a lot more to the story, but from day one of the show this triangle has been set up and it is delicious. I am totally rooting for Elena and Damon to be together, but sadly know that ultimately the show is set up for Stefan and Elena to be the relationship that endures. We have however finally hit the point where the Elena/Damon side of the triangle is being explored in full and I will enjoy it for as long as I can. Take a look at this steamy scene from last week’s episode and you’ll see why.


What are some of your favorite TV love triangles?

5 thoughts on “Well-Executed TV Long Triangles

  1. I agree with most of those all the way–go Pacey!

    I was always more of a Sawyer girl, but the introduction of the Sawyer-Juliet dynamic was so well done. It was to the tribute of the actors as much as the writers that you believed with that one episode that those to had fallen in love in the past. I was never much for Jack, romantically. But, then again, he is like Buffy–great acting, emotional core, but not always as dynamic as the more flucating character around them…. pain of the central hero. It’s easier to obviously love all the quirky supporting roles.

    and, yes, SPIKE!!!!!

    But, on Gilmore, Luke and Lorelei, always, but where do you fall in the Dean/Rory/Jess dynamic.

    And ever notice that so many of these are boy/girl/boy? Is that a tribute to a female audience fantasy, women having more than one man fighting over them? Or not as many strong, central female characters?

    1. Well yes of course Luke and Lorelei forever. It always had to be them, but I thought they did a good job of bringing in a character not central to the show that I thought was a good and believable relationship for Lorelei. In fact thinking on it I also liked Max. I just could never get behind Christopher, but I know people who were totally Team Christopher.

      On all Rory boyfriends I am on Team Rory Get Better Taste in Men. I can’t say I was ever a fan of any of her choices really.

      I totally agree on Sawyer/Juliet.

      And yeah I did notice the boy/girl/boy dynamic. I would suspect it might be a little bit of both of the things you mentioned. I think the kinds of shows that tend to play these things out are more geared toward women, though not always (obviously BSG and Lost). I think that creating a good love triangle involves needing the characters have a type of introspection that male characters aren’t often given.

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