Gr8at – On-Off Romances

As Shakespeare wrote in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, “the course of true love never did run smooth”, and in the world of television that seems even more true than ever. Below are eight examples of just how madcap some relationships are, and how love doesn’t always have to make sense.



A girl can’t always get what she wants. Especially if the girl, or “sir”, in question is over 6 foot tall, clumsy, frumpy, and has the nickname “Queen Kong”. And having a critical mother who is happy to stand around town with a “Marry my daughter” placard can’t help either. But one person who really does understand her, is Gary, an old friend from school who is hired as a chef at the restaurant next door. They soon become close friends and at times, an unlikely couple. But despite an undercurrent of attraction, their mutual insecurity keeps dragging them out of dating. Things are further complicated by Miranda’s discovery of Gary’s previous marriage, and her new boyfriend Michael. With the comedy’ s third series ending on the cliffhanger over which guy Miranda will choose to marry, viewers will have to wait until next year to find out what further twists are on the menu to this very sweet of romances.


Sam and Diane

Former baseball player and teetotal bar owner Sam ‘Mayday’ Mallone would appreciate that old adage of ‘Women – Can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.  His relationship with the academic Diane Chambers was gloriously twisted, brimming with sexual tension, outrageous one line insults and character growth.  Joyously reminiscent of Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, the dynamic between the light hearted jock and the uptight do-gooder had more on and off moments than the proverbial light switch. With storylines including several marriage proposals, Diane getting engaged to Frasier Crane, Sam refusing to get rid of his ‘black book’ of former lovers and Diane’s first fiancée coming back onto the scene, the relationship was never boring. Though Cheers was always consistent during its 11 year run, it was arguably at its peak with the brilliantly written romance, which originally ended as poignantly as it deserved.  Forced between her literary career or marrying Sam, Diane thought she could follow her writing dreams before coming back to be with Sam.  Sam knew otherwise, but didn’t have the heart to tell her. Even at the end, though for the kindest of all reasons, they never could agree.


Ross and Rachel

Most of us had an unobtainable crush at school, but it’s not just anybody who bumps into her years later, when she has run away from her appending marriage ceremony. With Rachel arriving in her wedding dress, just after a wistful Ross has told his friends he wants to get married, the pilot episode of Friends showed this was never going to be a conventional romance. With Ross’s sister, Monica, soon becoming Rachel’s best friend, and with Ross’s close friend Chandler living opposite Rachel and Monica, things would get all kinds of complicated. And what glorious moments it led to. After Rachel finally succumbed to Ross’ shy, lengthy, pursuit, they were a great couple with genuine feelings for each other, but what drama! Complications included Joey dating Rachel, Rachel unexpectedly getting pregnant with Ross’ baby, Ross getting engaged to someone else, and Rachel discovering that Ross slept with the “Xerox girl”, the same night after they’d had a serious row. The latter of which led to Ross’ hilarious and often repeated defence of, “We were on a break!”


JD and Elliot

JD is already a bromance star, but being the quirky character he is, it’s no surprise to see him in the ‘on-off romance’ section too. With his efforts in trying to avoid the janitor’s pranks and his demanding work schedule, it’s impressive that he has time for an office romance, let alone a complex one. But if anyone could make it work, it was the wacky daydreamer himself. Instantly smitten by Elliot when they both arrive as interns at Sacred Heart Hospital, she was the one JD was happy to spend serious time with, though his fear of commitment was frequently a stumbling block. Both understood the other perhaps more than either would like to admit, what brought them together would also cause them to row and break things off. But JD and Elliot were always meant to be the happy ever after, even if took various attempts and all kinds of partners. On JD’s side that included getting a girlfriend pregnant, buying land with another and having ‘funeral sex’ with a widow. A relationship of a thousand steps can have some very peculiar diversions.

Gossip Girl

Chuck and Blair

What do you do if you love someone more passionately than you can ever hope to explain, but you feel she is better off without you? That one question lies at the heart of Chuck and Blair’s on-off romance that burns at intensity more reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet than a traditional Upper East Side courtship. In a world of chauffeur-driven limousines, high class balls and with more money in their bank accounts than we can only daydream of, it’s still impossible to take your eyes off their unusual relationship and wish they would get together.  With Chuck head of his late father’s business empire, and with Blair the society darling with a group of social underlings, both have far too much power at their disposal. Chuck’s self loathing is a big stumbling block, especially as he frequently underplays and denies his strong attachment. Blair’s love of travel, both having slept with others in the friendship group, and knowing whatever move they make will be published by the all -knowing Gossip Girl, also complicate things. The madness of them taking so long to stay together is best summed up when they decide to set each other up with someone else. They choose replicas of themselves, who in turn hit it off immediately. As friend Nate describes it, “Chuck and Blair, Blair and Chuck, they just go together”.

Grey’s Anatomy

Meredith and Derek

With life and death and the power to heal frequently in their hands, it’s no surprise that tensions and hormones run high at Seattle Grace Hospital.   With a strong emphasis on the personal lives of a strong, intelligent and competitive cast of characters, the relationships between them all can be as complicated as the procedures they carry out. But one relationship that seems to frame the show more than any other is achieved between Meredith Grey and “McDreamy” himself, Derek Shepherd. Beginning with a one night stand after meeting at a bar, both are shocked to discover they will be working alongside each other. They soon start dating, but Derek’s estranged wife sudden appearance, Meredith’s new boyfriend Finn, Meredith finding solace with Derek’s former best friend and Derek pressurising Meredith to make a stronger commitment are only half the story. Currently together, it may still end in madness.  After all, all’s fair in love and medicine.

 Sex and the City

Mr Big and Carrie

For a show that had plenty of style, it still had a pretty good share of substance too. Amidst the fashionable outfits, snappy dialogue and trendy New York scene, Sex and the City didn’t shy away from deeper storylines too. As well as later arcs including Samantha’s cancer scare and Charlotte’s struggle to adopt, the show tackled themes including race, STDs, homosexuality and promiscuity. And in the long running dating saga between Carrie and Mr Big, there was the perfect balance of humour and seriousness that the show was renowned for. Introduced in the first episode when he helps Carrie pick up her condoms and cosmetics after she is knocked over by a stranger, Mr Big was always more than just a casual love interest. Despite his commitment failings, and her many other admirers, he was always a big part of her life and who Carrie was meant to be with.


Carrie and Brody

Not all bad boys come with a leather jacket, a motorbike, a bunch of cigarettes and a rebellious attitude to conventional authority. Even before CIA officer Carrie meets Nicholas Broady, she has a strong hunch he might be a terrorist with plans of a revenge attack against the US. Despite this, his marriage with two children and his deep scars from being tortured, she is drawn to him and things develop sexually. Her ethical dilemmas and her bi-polar condition means a conventional relationship is far from possible, especially as both characters know the relationship is professionally and morally wrong.  The intrigue continues as she finds herself falling deeper in love with him when she is still uncertain that he is completely on the United States’ side.