More important than your real-life first love is the fictional first love you experience via your television set. These relationships that you grow up on shape how you deal with your own relationships. I couldn’t have navigated my first relationships in high school without the helpful guidance of Joey Potter and her judge-y expression to see me through. So in honor of these life-changing relationships here are the most gut-wrenching (fictional) breakups of our childhood.
1. Cory & Topanga, Boy Meets World
I loved Topanga and worshiped her deeply as a child and as result didn’t understand the appeal of Cory. As Topanga properly explains when they break up obviously TONS of dudes were beating down her door (that hair, that ass) but she loved Cory so I’ll respect her decision. Cory kissing another girl on the ski trip was hurtful enough but then falling for the ‘ol Well Why Don’t You Test Out Her Feelings For Her trick and their inevitable break up kills me.
For the record I prefer the Joey/Pacey story but again, I’ve gotta stick by my girl Joey here and if you wanted Dawson, I had to respect that. This episode aired when I was starting high school and completely shaped how I approached and thought of romantic relationships. He finally says he loves her and she walks out? She doesn’t know what to do when someone else might be into her? Times are hard for these kids on the creek and though this wasn’t the most dramatic moment on the creek it was certainly up there for melodrama.
3. Angela & Jordan, My So-Called Life
Worth it solely for the quote at the end “People are always saying you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster. Like you know what it is even. But every so often I’ll have, like, a moment, where just being myself in my life right where I am is, like, enough.” Angela Chase is my idol.
4. Brenda & Dylan, Beverly Hills, 90210
A show with so much drama (people getting raped, stuck in fires, shooting themselves, accidentally having their daughter killed instead of Dylan), means that sometimes the break ups that are just straight break ups won’t hit as hard. But Brenda and Dylan breaking up hit HARD. Maybe it’s the use of “Losing My Religion.” Who knows. But seeing them in his car still kills me.
5. Zack & Kelly, Saved by the Bell
I can’t even look at a Cleopatra costume without thinking of Jessie singing and crying. This scene breaks my heart no matter how many times I watch it. Which is actually impressive for a sitcom centered on a sociopathic teen who can freeze time.
6. Buffy & Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Here’s a promo for the episode which is pretty great in and of itself. Now, when Angel loses his soul after experiencing true happiness (taking Buffy’s V Card) that is gut-wrenching too. But when he breaks up with her during their platonic-so-he-doesn’t-lose-his-soul-again affair and then shows up at Prom and “Wild Horses” plays, THAT’S where I lose my mind. The sadness of the whole situation with them is too much for words.
7. Ross & Rachel, Friends
There was a “couple” in my 7th grade class who we called Ross and Rachel because they publicly broke up in the hallway before Science class and we all knew about it and followed their every move. Ross and Rachel are meant to be together so when he sleeps with the girl from the copy place while “on a break” it’s terrible but then their epic break up with all their friends trapped in the other room is just…the most gut-wrenching breakup ever.