What’s a good TV show without a good love triangle? They’re always full of passion and drama, and in all of the best ones, you don’t know WHO you want together. The best love triangles engross you in all points of the triangle. You find yourself wondering if the main character should be with the first guy… but wait, maybe they should be with his brother!
Because let’s face it: happy couples tend to be so boring on TV shows. Just being honest! Who wants to see domestic bliss when you can see dramatic interludes and grand romantic gestures?! Here are the greatest, most complicated love triangles to ever be on TV!
Dylan-Brenda-Kelly, Beverly Hills, 90210
One of the OG TV love triangles of course came out of the Spelling-verse. Aaron Spelling was the king of dramatic, soapy TV and hit it out of the park with Beverly Hills, 90210. When naive, new girl Brenda (Shannen Doherty) moves to the posh California 90210 zip code she gets enthralled by bad boy Dylan (Luke Perry). Too bad resident queen bee Kelly (Jennie Garth) also has her eye on him. And, uh, he has his eye on both. After some cheating, lies, and drama Dylan and Kelly end up together. At least for a little bit.
When you’re stranded on a desert island, there isn’t a lot of options. Good thing Kate (Evangeline Lilly) had a lot of options. There was bad-boy Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and take-charge doctor Jack (Matthew Fox) to keep her occupied. She dabbled with the two during her time on (and off) the island, ultimately finding herself in it for the long haul with Jack. And then breaking up. And then having a last-minute reconciliation. It was always a rollercoaster on this show. Luckily Sawyer found his own love on the island, leaving the love triangle far behind.
This teen love triangle was so intense it ended with one point of the triangle dying! Well, okay, that had nothing to do with the actual love triangle per se, but still, it was crazy! Effy (Kaya Scodelario) wrestled with her feelings for similar, bad-boy Cook (Jack O’Connnell) and more level-headed Freddie (Luke Pasqualino) for the better part of two seasons before picking her ultimate suitor. She ran away with Cook but ended up realizing her heart was back home with Freddie. The triangle continued when Effy lost her mind — literally — and needed more help than ever from the two men in her life staying sane. A fourth point in the triangle turned everything upside down when Effy’s doctor fell in love with her (!!) and came in hot for her affection. What happens next is some effed up Skins history.
Kelly-Zack-Slater, Saved by the Bell
While we all known Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselar) and Kelly (Tiffany Amber Theissan) were destined to be together, this love triangle is pretty great for its depiction of teen romance. Before Zack and Kelly were a sure thing, Slater (Mario Lopez) was a strong contender for the it-girl’s love. He and Zack engaged in some silly hijinks vying for her attention and it all made you wish a guy would work that hard for your own affection. Only on TV though, people. Obvs, Slater had no chance intervening in this epic romance, but their triangle was fun while it lasted.
Felicity (Keri Russell) followed Ben (Scott Speedman) to college! But Noel (Scott Foley) was her best friend and nerdy love! It was the TV love triangle to end all TV love triangles. After following her high school crush to college, Felicity finds herself in his orbit… and in Noel’s. With two men equally in love with you, who do you choose?! Well, after some Wiccan time travel, she chooses Ben (because, LOL) but only after years and years of indecisions. College girls can be the worst, but this love triangle was the best and always kept you on your toes.
Lucas-Brooke-Peyton, One Tree Hill
This TV love triangle was the epitome of teen immaturity. There was cheating, lying and totally unrealistic expectations of what love should be. It’s this type of love triangle that’s hard not to idolize. You want the drama and fireworks all the time! And let’s be honest, despite the teen mistakes, this triangle was pretty great at both ends. Peyton (Hilarie Burton) and Brooke (Sophia Bush) are both amazing and TBH, we wish they would’ve ended up together because Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) totally did not deserve either of them. But, in the end, Peyton and Lucas made our teen misanthrope hearts melt as they found their way to each other in the end.
Lorelai-Luke-Christopher, Gilmore Girls
A lot of love triangles on TV are among hot teens or hot young adults. Well, this one is between hot adults — and parents! — which actually makes it extra great. The back and forth between rich, handsome Christopher (David Sutcliffe) and gruff, well-meaning Luke (Scott Patterson) sent Lorelai (Lauren Graham) spinning more than once throughout the series. Chris was her baby-daddy and massively rich, which would make her life easy in so many ways. But in the end, it was Luke she chose, because love trumps a massive fortune every single time.
Rory-Dean-Jess, Gilmore Girls
Lorelai wasn’t the only one embroiled in a love triangle on Gilmore Girls, so was her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Rory was nerdy and studious, so obviously she was attracted to the boy from the wrong side of the tracks: Jess (Milo Ventimiglia). Too bad she was already dating Dean (Jared Padalecki). Poor, innocent Dean. (Kind of.) It was all pretty innocent for a while, with Rory exploring her options like any teen gal would. In the end, neither of them are her ultimate soul mate, though its good to know from the Gilmore Girls revival that Rory and Jess are at least still good friends.
Sookie-Bill-Eric, True Blood
This love triangle is great because of how out of the ordinary it is. Two immortal vampires in love with a human girl… what could possibly go wrong? Though the show starts with Sookie (Anna Paquin) falling for vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer), she soon meets and becomes transfixed by Eric (Alexander Skarsgard). While Sookie initially still holds her feelings for Bill too closely to consider Eric, eventually the two become close and their relationship blossoms while hers and Bill’s fall apart. Who does she end up with in the end? Neither of them! She ends up with some faceless dude we’ve never met. At least we’ll always have this supernatural love triangle.
Piper-Alex-Larry, Orange is the New Black
This love triangle is great because it’s not two girls fighting over a guy or two guys fighting over a girl — its a guy and a girl vying for the attention of another girl and it’s amazing. So rarely is there sexually layered love triangles on TV and it makes this love triangle that much more special. When Piper (Taylor Schilling) heads to jail for a crime she committed years ago, she runs into her ex-girlfriend Alex (Laura Prepon), causing some conflict between her and her fiance, Larry’s (Jason Biggs) relationship. Eventually, her passion with her former flame brings about the end of her engagement as Larry fades away. Not only did this relationship run of the gamut of sexualities, the same-sex couple came out on top at the end. How often does that happen on TV? It’s a historic, and engrossing, love triangle.
Oliva (Kerry Washington) probably couldn’t have chosen two worse guys to fall for. One is the President of the United States, and one is the head of a secretive security division. Her love with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) starts as an affair… while he’s the President. So, yeah, not the best start. She then meets Jake (Scott Foley) through her work in the government, bringing the two powerful men at odds. With Fitz, she has epic romance and a man who will literally do anything for her — including leave his wife for her while IN OFFICE. Jake, on the other hand, brings passion and strength to their relationship, making him an exciting choice. As of now, the triangle is still going, and who knows who the powerful woman will pick. But one thing is for sure — Olvia Pope definitely doesn’t need a man to complete her.
Kelly-Dylan-Brandon, Beverly Hills, 90210
After she managed to steal Dylan away in her love triangle with him and Brenda, she found herself in a new love triangle: this time with Brenda’s brother Brandon (Jason Priestley). Complicated. When she finally gets the guy of her dreams, she realizes the guy who has been there all along may be the one for her. That’s how it always goes… right, ladies? Having a happy couple in Kelly and Dylan would’ve been way too easy — and way too boring. This new triangle duked it for a bit before Kelly was forced to choose. And she chose herself! EPIC. This great love triangle ends in self-love, which is the greatest love of all.
Veronica-Logan-Piz, Veronica Mars
Veronica (Kristen Bell) and Logan’s (Jason Dohring) love was epic, sure, but it was also tumultuous. That opened the door for new suitors in college, where she met sweet Piz (Chris Lowell). He was everything you’d want in a boyfriend — and that made Logan irate. He even beat the crap out of Piz at one point, which, eh not the best way to win the triangle buddy. But he also beat the crap out of the guy that tried to shop around Veronica’s sex tape, and the look she gave him in that moment sealed the deal: Piz didn’t have a chance. He was the guy she probably should be with, but Logan was the guy who was always going to be more exciting. They played through the motions of the triangle long after college, too, but in the end, it was always going to be Logan.
Carrie-Aiden-Mr.Big, Sex and the City
This is debatable as a “great” love triangle, but many fans lived for the drama of these three. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) found healthy love with Aiden (John Corbett), but she always had her epic romance with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) lurking in the background. She tried her damnedest to stay with the good, stable guy but in the end, she ended up right back where she started. And maybe it’s better that way since Aiden deserved way better. Carrie and Mr. Big were actually kind of the worst, but Aiden’s the best so this love triangle gets major points.
Joey-Dawson-Pacey, Dawson’s Creek
Oh, young love. When you’re in the throes of puberty, it’s hard not to fall in love with everyone. After years of friendship, Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes) find themselves feeling more than friendship. She’s the girl next door, he’s the intellectual best friend. It’s perfect, right? Well, not quite. Dawson’s neurosis got the best of him time and time again, driving Joey away… and right into the arms of Dawson’s BFF, Pacey (Joshua Jackson). What started as two people who truly hated each other turned into the budding blooms of young love. Obviously, this meant nothing good for Pacey and Dawson’s friendship, though. The two friends fought for their girl all through high school until Pacey bought Joey a FREAKING WALL and sealed the deal. The rest is teen soap history.
Buffy-Angel-Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Two vampires fall for a human girl (where have we heard that one before?) and chaos ensues. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the slayer, tasked with ridding the world of vampires and demons — yet finds herself falling for the damn monsters all the time. Her relationship with Angel (David Borneaz) starts in her teen years and creates literal world-ending drama. The two eventually part ways, and that’s when Spike (James Marsters) sees his opening. His unrequited love for the slayer eventually turns into reluctant friendship. And then he gets a dang soul for her and she realizes he’s the real deal. By the end of the series, fans didn’t know which immortal vamp she was going to choose — but turns out she was too busy saving the world to think about silly boys.
Elena-Stefan-Damon, The Vampire Diaries
You know you have a great love triangle on your hands when it involves two brothers, vampirism, doppelgangers, and a whole lot of snapped necks. When Elena (Nina Dobrev) first meets Stefan (Paul Wesley), it’s love at first sight — especially for him since she looks just like his long-lost love, Katherine. When his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) pops back into the picture he realizes the resemblance too, forming a bit of an obsession with the young human girl. Through the years, the two would fight for her affection constantly, before realizing their brotherly bond was the actual important thing here. The greatest love story was between Stefan and Damon, learning how to be brothers again and loving each other. Oh, and Elena chose Damon but, seriously — Damon and Stefan were the ultimate brother endgame.