The ‘90s gave us some really wonderful TV. Certain shows from the decade, like Felicity, Friends, and Dawson’s Creek will stick with us forever. Part of the reason that these shows are ingrained in our memories is because of the romances and relationship drama we watched play out on them week after week. Felicity followed Ben to the city and then watched him fall in love with someone else, Monica secretly slept with Chandler in London and then they struggled to have a baby, Joey chased Pacey to his boat and then asked to sail away with him. Defining moments in our teenage lives.
We’ve rounded up 16 of the best ‘90s TV couples, and some of our favorite moments in their relationships, all for you. Prepare to feel some serious nostalgia and a desperate desire to spend all weekend binge-watching these classics.
16. Darlene and David on Roseanne
Darlene and David were polar opposites on Roseanne. She was sarcastic, blunt and lazy; he was shy, sensitive and an overachiever. But he followed her around like a sweet, lost puppy and she tamed down her abrasiveness when he was with her. They balanced each other out so well. And the fact that they were able to go through so many ups and downs (breakups, pregnancy, long-distance, etc.) and still come out strong just proves that they were meant for each other. They may not have been the TV love we wanted as pre-teens, but as adults, we have a lot of admiration for these two and their devotion to each other.
15. Sam and Diane on Cheers
Sam may have had two major relationships throughout the course of Cheers, but there’s no denying that his relationship with Diane was the far superior one. It may not seem likely that love would blossom between the intellectual waitress and the recovering alcoholic/former professional baseball player, but for five seasons it did, and it was wonderful. Their chemistry was so strong, and so obvious, that fans stuck with them even when they seemed to be dragging their feet. And we’re sure that if Diane hadn’t left Boston to pursue a writing career in L.A., that there would have been a Cheers wedding.
14. Philip and Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Philip and Vivian Banks were possibly the best TV parents of the ‘90s. They raised Carlton, Hilary, Will, and Ashley as a team still poured massive amounts of energy into their careers (he’s a judge and she was a doctor who later earned a Ph.D. at UCLA). Yet, they never lost the spark between them. Philip proposed to Vivian on live television during an episode of Soul Train, which honestly might be one of the sweetest things of all time. Out of all the couples on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, there’s no denying the fact that this one was our absolute favorite.
13. Felicity and Ben on Felicity
Okay, okay. So maybe Felicity and Ben never had a full-blown, super successful, lasting romantic relationship. But they were an on-and-off couple, and if it hadn’t been for Ben’s yearbook inscription, Felicity never would have moved to New York City. So basically all the self-discovery and growth Felicity goes through during Felicity’s four-season run is thanks to Ben. We loved them when things were good between them, for sure, but mostly we really loved them because his treatment of her allowed her to grow into one of our biggest role models to date. And can’t you always find good things to say about someone who pushed you to be a better you, whether it was intentional or not?
12. Ally and Larry on Ally McBeal
Ally and Larry were perfect. Literally, perfect. Their chemistry, their romance, their plotlines. Everything about them kept us tuning in to a show that was otherwise in a bit of a rut. They were so perfect that even after Larry’s surprise engagement plan suddenly went awry, and scared us all, we were sure, sure that they’d end up getting married in the finale regardless. But then, out of nowhere, Larry disappeared, shattering our teenage hearts into a million little pieces. The note he drops at the office after breaking up with Ally was our first real experience of heartbreak. And it kept us from falling in love with other characters who were played by actors with drug problems — we never wanted to feel that sort of despair again.
11. Martin and Gina on Martin
Zack and Kelly from Saved by the Bell were basically Cory and Topanga before Cory and Topanga existed. Zack and Kelly met in high school — he was the hottest guy in school who everyone wanted to date, she was the pretty head cheerleader. They had their highs and lows, like every teenage couple ever, but they were absolutely our idea of perfection as teenagers. And when they got married in Las Vegas, during the two hour finale of Saved by the Bell: The College Years, all of our wildest dreams came true. Their relationship made us believe that true love existed.
9. Doug and Carol on E.R.
Things may not have always been rainbows and butterflies for Doug and Carol, after all, one of the first things we learn about Carol is that she just back at work after surviving a suicide attempt that was caused by her failed romance with Doug. But Doug’s endless love for Carol and his constant attempts at winning her back kept us invested and holding out hope that the two could be reunited. Even after Doug’s major misstep costs Carol her job, and he abandons her while she’s pregnant with their twins, it was so obvious that these two E.R. staff members belonged together, and we squealed with happiness when they reunited in Seattle.
8. Ross and Rachel on Friends
Look, we have a lot of problems with this Friends relationship: Ross was too misogynistic, needy and jealous and Rachel allowed him to hold her back and make her feel less-worthy over and over again. But they aren’t TV’s most famous couple for nothing. There was something good between them at the end of the day. They did bring out the best in each other, and as much as we sometimes hated Ross, Rachel clearly loved him enough to get off the plane and give up an entire career for him. You can’t argue with those kinds of feelings. He definitely was her lobster.
7. Homer and Marge on The Simpsons
Homer and Marge have been married for almost 30 seasons. The stereotypical middle-class duo from Springfield has been on some wild rides together over the years, but at the end of the day no matter how crazy things get, they always come back to each other in that two-story, suburban house. There’s something to be said about a love that can stand 30 years of mundanity. In all their years, neither one has ever cheated on the other (at least, not in anything other than a dream sequence), and no matter how many marital problems they face, they’re always able to reconcile. We can only hope to find a love and partnership that lasts that long, and that endures even when things are no longer new and exciting.
6. Fran Fine and Mr. Sheffield on Fran
Mr. Sheffield was in love with Fran Fine from day one, it just took him six years to realize it. You can’t argue that there was any other reason for his hiring her other than the fact that it was love at first sight. Fran showed up on their doorstep selling cosmetics, not advertising her years of experience in childcare. The will-they-won’t-they tension kept us on our toes for all six years, and the frustrations stemming from their dozens of “near misses” were vindicated when they finally got married and had twins of their own in the show’s finale. Fran’s luck on The Nanny had us seriously considering going around selling makeup door to door when we grew up.
5. Buffy and Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Ah, forbidden love. Angel, the benevolent vampire cursed with remorse and a human soul, isn’t allowed to experience a moment of earthly happiness until he’s found redemption for all of his past deeds. Buffy, the vampire slayer whose job it is to rid the earth of people like him, is earthly happiness for Angel. The two fall in love, knowing deep down it won’t end well. It doesn’t — they get physical, he turns back into a bad vampire, she’s forced to kill him and he’s condemned to hell. Later, after his surprise return from the underworld, he attempts to kill himself to save her before they fall in love again and he leaves her once and for all (after prom) for her own safety. Basically, their relationship is a dramatic mess, but we couldn’t help but root for this unlikely couple and wish that they could have just found a way to be together.
4. Chandler and Monica on Friends
Out of all the pairings on Friends, this one was our favorite. In the beginning, Chandler and Monica seemed like the most unlikely duo. In fact, early on in the show’s run, she tells Chandler she’d never go on a date with him, even if he were the last man on earth. But something changed in London, and they became one of the most supportive, sweet couples of the ‘90s. Monica let Chandler have all the time he needed to commit, and when they did finally get married, they stayed strong throughout all the difficulty the faced trying to conceive a child. He would have done anything to see a smile on her face, and she stood by him even when things were hard (like throughout his bout of unemployment and the internship). Basically, they were the healthiest TV couple we’ve ever watched, and the perfect example of what we someday hope to find in a partner!
3. Cory and Topanga on Boy Meets World
There wasn’t a couple on TV in the ‘90s that was more meant to be than Cory and Topanga. The childhood sweethearts definitely gave us some very unreal expectations about how our own middle school relationships would end, but we love them all the same. There’s nothing more romantic than watching a “first love” turn into an “only love.” Our hearts melted over and over again every time these two had a sweet moment on Boy Meets World. And nothing any guy ever says to us will ever top Cory telling Topanga, “If I had to dream up the perfect woman, she wouldn’t even come close to you.” *Swoon*
2. Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky on Full House
Have mercy! Growing up, we had such major crushes on Full House’s resident bad-boy Uncle Jesse that we couldn’t have imagined watching him marry anyone that wasn’t us. That is, until Aunt Becky came along. She was so beautiful and perfect that we gladly relinquished our “dibs” on him for her. She made him work to have her, and we appreciated that. He was willing to tame down his wild ways for her, and we appreciated that as well. And when they finally did get married, they just fit so well. They made us envious of their marriage and set the bar for all of our future partners a lot higher, which are always signs of a great TV relationship.
1. Pacey and Joey on Dawson’s Creek
Finally, the ultimate ‘90s TV relationship: Joey and Pacey. They were sort-of friends, and then there was the science project, and then they were definitely friends, and it was all wonderful. While we loved Joey and Dawson together as well, we always thought that Joey and Pacey were the real deal. Dawson’s love for Joey was just too idealized, while Pacey’s was more genuine — he actually saw her for who she was. The scene where Joey finally confesses her feelings for Pacey still gives us goosebumps every time we watch it: “I think I’m in love with you…. I know. I’ve known it since the moment you kissed me, and maybe even before that. And as scary as it is, I don’t want to deny it anymore, Pacey. I don’t want to run from it or let it run from me.” AW!