What does it take to craft a compelling couple on television? A couple that stands out and is not only accepted but loved by the audience? It can be a challenging task for even the most experienced TV writers.
When it comes to sitcom TV, the complicated love interest between two main characters is a time-honored tradition. Ever since Sam and Diane on Cheers, audiences have always expected some kind of glimmer of romantic hope within the principal cast.
Everybody—whether they’d admit it or not—wants to root for the happily-ever-after ending when they love two characters. Sitcoms have it tough because writers need to walk a fine line between humor and drama while making the romance make sense.
Give an audience too much and they’ll lose interest. Deny the audience too much and they’ll feel cheated. Only the best sitcoms have been able to craft romantic couples that feel real and lovable.
Here are our picks for the greatest sitcom TV couples of all time and why each one deserves lasting recognition.
7. Eric Forman and Donna Pinciotti
Eric Forman and Donna Pinciotti in That ’70s Show.
Everyone loves a good teenage love affair. Eric and Donna were neighbors growing up, and when they reached the age where they began developing interest in romance, they both fell for each other—hard.
The endearing aspect about this couple is that they started so young. As an older and more mature viewer, everything inside tells you that it’ll most likely end in failure… but you hope for them anyway.
And in the final act of the series, the show brought Eric back to Donna so that they could have their happily-ever-after moment. It’s a scene that perfectly bookended That ’70s Show as they share a kiss.
Both Topher Grace and Laura Prepon are expected to return as their characters in That ’90s Show, which will follow Eric and Donna’s daughter as she spends the summer with her grandparents.
6. Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly
Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly in The Office.
Watching Jim and Pam’s relationship unfold was a beautiful piece of television to watch. Every week, viewers would tune in to the forbidden affair and watch the pair flirt with one another at work in The Office.
The slow and gradual realization that they could actually be together happened over the course of three full seasons. When it finally came to pass, the show felt utterly wholesome as the desperate-in-love slacker finally saw that the cute receptionist was in love with him, too.
Right up to their wedding, Jim and Pam’s bond remained strong—despite stagnating and hitting a few bumps in later seasons.
5. Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes
Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes in Seinfeld.
The fun of Jerry and Elaine’s relationship is that it ended before the series even began. They remained friends and spent the rest of Seinfeld seeing other people and having romantic flings every so often.
Of course, in the two-part finale, Elaine was finally going to come clean to Jerry about her feelings as their plane plummeted to the ground. But as she’s about to say it, the plane rights itself—and she stops short.
Many years later, when they appear as guests on Curb Your Enthusiasm, we see that they have a daughter together.
4. Otis Milburn and Maeve Wiley
Otis Milburn and Maeve Wiley in Sex Education.
The modern classic Sex Education nearly overplayed its hand with Otis and Maeve. The series came so close to ruining their bond by drawing it out too long—but it hit the button right when tension peaked.
As a pair, Otis and Maeve might be a young couple who don’t make it. However, for the moment they’re in, they are everything to each other… and potentially as foolish as any literary tale about first love.
Otis is strange and awkward. Maeve has issue with authority. But it works between them, even if for only a little while. Time will tell.
3. Sam Malone and Diane Chambers
Sam Malone and Diane Chambers in Cheers.
They’re the original TV couple who sparked worldwide interest. Cheers blazed the trail for what TV sitcoms could be with Sam and Diane, and it kept itself compelling right up to their last moments together.
It didn’t work out for them, of course. Sam and Diane weren’t meant to be in the end. But the excitement of their love and the enthralling buildup to it was a groundbreaking part of television culture.
In the minds of Cheers fans, Sam and Diane hold a special place. And why wouldn’t they? Their story became a template for all sitcom romances—doomed or otherwise—that came later.
2. Ross Geller and Rachel Green
Ross Geller and Rachel Green in Friends.
When you think of a traditional will-they-won’t-they couple, you can’t help but think of Ross and Rachel. They were clearly written for one another as the geeky guy and the popular girl who finally got together—in this case, about a decade or so after high school ends.
Together, Ross and Rachel comprise a couple whose strengths complement the flaws in the other, and they have a rapport that any real couple would be lucky to have. And when they’re apart, they can’t rectify their friendship because their feelings for each other run so deep.
Of course, their relationship goes right up to the show’s finale, at which point we see Rachel at Ross’s door after having gotten off a plane to Paris at JFK. It’s an all-time great sitcom TV moment.
1. Homer and Marge Simpson
Homer and Marge Simpson in The Simpsons.
No relationship is perfect. Wherever you are and whoever you’re with, there will always be trials. But Homer and Marge have a love for one another that extends beyond the clichés of a sitcom couple.
They love one another to the very center of their cores. There’s nothing Homer could do for which Marge wouldn’t eventually forgive him, and Homer lives to make Marge happy because she’s his whole world.
They might be animated, but they live as real examples of togetherness. They’re good parents, they care deeply for their family, and they have never been guilty of not loving the other completely.
Of all the TV couples in the world, Homer and Marge are the only ones who feel as though they’d still be married in every alternate universe.
Bonus With Future Potential: Ted & Sassy
Ted Lasso and Sassy in Ted Lasso.
They may not be there yet, but there’s a lot of potential for Ted and Sassy. Over the past few years, few TV series have been able to evoke as much heartwarming love as Ted Lasso on Apple TV+.
Ted is a complex and fun leading character who defies sitcom conventions. While Sassy only featured in a few episodes so far, her role has a great significance to Ted’s own future happiness.
They’re great together. They have a fun rapport. They’re instantly attracted to each other. Their story isn’t over yet, and if they do have a happy ending together, it’ll be well-received by fans.