You know that you’re too involved in a TV series when a character’s breakup feels like your own. You mourn the end of the relationship and wonder how it could have happened. Will they get back together? Will they ever recover? Will you ever recover? It’s inevitable that most scripted television couples will eventually hit bumps in the road. But when these characters have become so close to our hearts and feel like real friends, it can be devastating. I am still recovering from some of these breakups:
1. Brenda Walsh and Dylan McKay from Beverly Hills, 90210.
Has anyone’s life been the same since the downfall of one of the most intense, sizzling relationships in TV history? When Brenda spent the summer in Paris with Donna Martin, little did she know that her best friend, Kelly Taylor, would secretly start sleeping with her beloved boyfriend, Dylan McKay. Dylan may have been a cheater, but he had a dark past, rebellious side-burns, and a raspy voice. How could we hate him? I cried for days when Brenda found out about Kelly and Dylan. She lost her best friend and boyfriend in the same moment and life would never be the same. I still get angry thinking about Kelly’s actions and how anyone could do this to a friend.
2. Joey, Dawson, and Pacey in Dawson’s Creek.
This threesome got very confusing, as it seemed that Joey was always pining over Dawson or Pacey or sometimes both at the same time. The first breakup occurred during Season 3 when it was evident that Joey had developed feelings for Pacey but was afraid to pursue them for fear of hurting Dawson. In the season finale, Joey finally realized that Dawson was just the guy next door and Pacey was her true love. At Dawson’s urging, she rushed off to join Pacey who was about to sail around the world all summer. We forget that she hasn’t packed a thing – no underwear, no deodorant, no tampons – it’s gonna be an au-natural summer. These two literally sail off into the sunset but none of us can forget Dawson’s heartache wail-cry (it was like a dying goat) after Joey left. The second big breakup happened in Season 4 at the prom (of course). Joey and Pacey had their moment of breakup glory when they concluded that Pacey wasn’t good enough for Joey. She went off to an esteemed imaginary college in Boston while Pacey set sail again by himself (hopefully with deodorant this time). We know from the history of the show that the Joey-Dawson-Pacey love triangle was nowhere near finished, but we were devastated nonetheless.
3. Rachel and Ross in Friends.
The story of how these two characters got together after a series of frustrating and complicated timing issues was so exciting and satisfying — perhaps of any TV comedy series relationship in history. Their breakup was equally horrifying. Nobody could believe that Rachel and Ross would end up apart but they never officially got back together. The exact cause of their breakup was something to do with Ross being jealous of a male co-worker of Rachel’s. They decided to take a break during which Ross slept with someone else. Rachel was unaware of this and wanted to get back together. When it came out that Ross had been with someone else, he could only wail, “We were on a breaakkkk” over and over. So did we. But it wasn’t enough for Rachel to forgive Ross, who was lovesick for all of eternity, as far as we know. After all, how many paleontologists land a woman as hot as Rachel?
4. Carrie and Aidan in Sex and the City.
Carrie was a pretty rotten girlfriend to one of the greatest guys in the show’s history. Yes, we all knew she belonged with Mr. Big, but why did she have to torture Aidan? The man remodeled her apartment with his bare hands and even forgave her enough to rekindle their relationship after she cheated on him with Mr. Big. Let us also not forget that he was a good enough boyfriend to allow Big to visit Carrie at his country home in Suffern, New York after Big got dumped by a famous actress (even knowing that this was the guy that Carrie cheated on him with). Talk about having an understanding fiancé! Carrie pretty much found everything she ever wanted in Aidan, except that he preferred fried chicken to going out to trendy restaurants and bars. Still, unlike the jerk Berger, who broke up with Carrie on a post-it note and never seemed to be able to deal with Carrie’s professional writing successes (good riddance, I say), Aidan was a man’s man. The closer he tried to get to Carrie, the more she pushed him away. Their eventual breakup was really sad as both she and everyone else in the universe knew that she’d never find a better guy.
5. Charlotte and Harry in Sex and the City.
After getting over the dramatic divorce from Trey and Bunny MacDougal, Charlotte struck up a romance with her divorce attorney, Harry. He’s hairy, rough around the edges, and physically unappealing, but Charlotte loved him anyway. She converted to Judaism and gave up Christmas for the guy. All Charlotte ever wanted was to be happily married with babies. With Harry, she finally saw the potential. She demanded that they set a wedding date and blurted out that people wonder why she’s dating such a schlub. He broke up with her and she went through a series of horrible blind dates. Knowing all of the torture that Charlotte had endured romantically, it was heartbreaking to see her part ways with Harry, even if it only lasted a couple of episodes. It was very fitting, after all, that for all her searching for a traditionally handsome and polite man, Charlotte ended up with a hairy, short, and bald gem.
6. Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years.
There’s no better storybook romance then that of Kevin and Winnie. This coming-of-age couple had magic between them. We followed Kevin through his adolescent attempts to get Winnie’s attention and eventually rejoiced with him when they became an actual couple. That’s why their breakup was so sad. It was the end of innocence. Winnie kisses an older lifeguard and the rest is history. Kevin’s first love and relationship has come to an end, though we’ll hold these two in our hearts indefinitely.
7. Cory and Topanga of Boys Meets World.
Real life brother of Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold), Ben Savage (Cory) develops his own adolescent Winnie Cooper-type relationship with Topanga. In Season 4, however, Cory goes on a ski trip and kisses another girl, then lies about it to Topanga. When the truth comes to light and they have a mature sit down about the situation, Cory admits that he kissed another girl to test how he felt about Topanga. He knows that Topanga is the one for him. This does not satisfy Topanga and they break up in one of the saddest endings to an on-going relationship. Of course we know that they’ll get back together (and now there’s a spin-off about their own kid), but at the time, it was demoralizing.
8. Jason Mesnick and Melissa Rycroft on The Bachelor.
As far as Reality TV breakups go, nobody beats the Jason Mesnick / Melissa Rycroft ending on The Bachelor’s live After The Final Rose season finale. As the Bachelor, single dad Jason’s season came down to two lovely ladies: Melissa and Molly. He chose Melissa and proposed to her but in the time between the taping of the actual finale and the viewing of the finale on television, Jason admitted that choosing Melissa had been a mistake. The two also confessed that their relationship had deteriorated. Not only did they breakup, but Jason declared that he still had feelings for the runner-up, Molly. He was offered the chance to try and patch things up with Molly on the live finale. Shockingly, Molly was willing to give him another chance. We can hate Jason for being cold and callous enough to both end his engagement and start a new relationship in the same hour on live television. BUT — Molly and Jason are now happily married with their own baby girl, so can we really begrudge him for changing his mind?