Writing romance is hard. But for some reason, TV and movie screenwriters seem to think it’s a piece of cake. It’s that overconfidence that makes them screw up so many great ‘ships. Here are some prime examples of writers who should’ve had romance authors in the room before they completely wrecked their characters’ love lives for good.
Preemptive note: This one goes out to all you “happily ever after endings aren’t realistic” folks. You know what? Neither are dragons and ice zombies. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t allowed to hope that a few folks on Game of Thrones got a decent, satisfying ending. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t) So don’t @ me and tell me that happiness isn’t realistic, because it won’t change my opinion or who I choose to ‘ship. All it’ll make me do is feel sorry for you. The point is, happy endings and good writing can and DO co-exist. That is all.
Buffy and Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Once Angel went off for his own show and it became clear that he wasn’t intended to be Buffy’s forever kind of soulmate, Spike showed up, and one of the best enemies-to-lovers relationships in television history was born. Spike was a villain who did horrible, horrible things. But he understood Buffy in a way that Angel never could’ve. He understood the darkness in her, and he accepted it. But then...there was that episode where Spike tried to rape Buffy. It was a completely random, ugly, out of place thing that didn’t really serve a storytelling purpose and seemed out of character (even for a villain like Spike). (I’m sure writers for the show would say that the incident sparked Spike’s desire to figure out how to get his soul back, but for crap’s sake, surely there was another way to do THAT and not have it involve the near-rape of the heroine. But I digress...) It pretty much tainted every interaction this couple had for the remainder of the show. Had a romance writer been in the room, I’m pretty sure he/she would’ve spoken right up and told Joss Whedon that attempted rape wasn’t EVER the best way to move the story along.
For an AWESOME enemies-to-lovers ‘ship involving a slayer (of sorts) and a sexy vampire, check out Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntressseries.
Phoebe and Cole, Charmed
Another fan-freakin’-tastic enemies-to-lovers ‘ship that started off with a bang, and died with a whimper. Cole, a demon, fell ass-over-elbow in love with Phoebe, a witch, and grew from a seemingly irredeemable villain, into a guy who helped the charmed ones fight his kind, solely because of his love for Phoebe. Then he went back to his old ways for no good reason whatsoever and their relationship epically flamed out. Phoebe went on to date a slew (and I mean a SLEW) of men with whom she didn’t share a fourth of the chemistry she had with Cole. Every relationship she had after Cole was a sad reminder of the once great love she had in her life, and lost because of crappy writing.
For a romance about a demon falling for a human that doesn’t face-plant, try The Demon Always Wins, by Jeanne Oates Estridge and The Demon in Me by Michelle Rowen.
Rey Nobody and Ben Solo, The Star Wars trilogy
Yes, I’ve talked about this one before. I’ve talked about all the things that were wrong with The Rise of Skywalker and I’ve talked about how JJ Abrams let his characters down time and time again. But I think what makes me want to nut-punch Abrams the most (well, one of the things that makes me want to nut-punch him, because there’s a lot to unpack there) is the fact that HE created Reylo. If we’re not supposed to empathize with Kylo Ren and want a happy ending for him, why did you make him Han Solo and Leia’s kid? Why did you cast Adam Driver with his dark, tormented eyes, pillowy lips, and Disney Prince hair to portray him in such a complex way? Why did you have him bridal carry Rey onto his ship and look at her like she was the most fascinating creature on earth? You MADE us care about him in The Force Awakens. You made us want to see him redeemed and get a shot at happily ever after. Rian Johnson just cranked our love for him up to 11 in The Last Jedi. Then when you got the character back in TRoS, you give this tormented man about three seconds of happiness before killing him off? After telling us that he’s Rey’s other half? After putting Skywalker in the title of your movie, you kill off the last Skywalker? Dude...you suck. I can name about a million romance authors who would’ve handled the characters' relationship better than you did, pal.
For a list of GREAT reads for Reylos that have happy endings, try these.
Lexi and Mark, Grey’s Anatomy
So, say you’re a writer for a top-rated television show (*cough* Krista Vernoff* cough*). You have 2 incredibly beloved characters who everyone has rooted for over the course of years. The actors who play these characters now both want to leave the show. You could, a) write them off happily into the sunset together, or b) rip your audience’s heart out and kill both of them in the most painful ways possible. Which do you choose? Well, while every romance author in the world would’ve gone with option A, Grey’s Anatomy went with option B. When Lexi died in the plane crash (and her body was subsequently EATEN BY WOLVES), and Mark died of internal injuries once he returned to Seattle, Grey’s lost quite a few viewers. The show went on, obviously, but a lot of loyal fans just couldn’t take that kind of loss--especially since it was completely unnecessary.
To prove that doctor romances don’t have to end in tragedy, try these.
And frankly, don’t even get me started on Alex Karev and Jo Wilson.
Bobby and Karen Singer, Supernatural
I’m not a crier. The number of times I’ve cried in a movie or while watching TV can be counted on one hand. Two of those times were while I was watching Supernatural—and both times included Bobby Singer. I’m not sure that anyone on that show has a more tragic backstory than Bobby. (And that’s really saying something, because these folks have been through things, y’all) Bobby, at one point, was forced to kill his wife, Karen, when she became possessed by a demon. Later, through mystical forces, Karen was brought back to life (kind of)—and Bobby was forced to kill her again before she became a flesh-eating zombie. (It’s complicated, OK?) Watching him going through that pain AGAIN was gut-wrenching. And when Bobby died a few seasons later (a death that I’m still bitter about, frankly) and viewers eventually get to see a glimpse of him in heaven, I was pretty pissed off that he was alone. Had a romance writer been involved in this story at any point, Bobby wouldn’t have had to kill his wife twice—but even if he had, he would’ve been able to reunite with her in heaven.
For proof that love can exist even in a place where flesh-eating zombies roam free, check out these post-apocalypse romance.
Logan and Veronica, Veronica Mars
I’ll die angry about this one, folks. I’ve already talked about how much writer Rob Thomaslet Logan down in season 4, but the fact that he thought Logan had to die in order for Veronica to grow as a character is almost too asinine to be believed. Are we to believe that Veronica can’t be a tough, capable, kickass detective and be Logan’s wife at the same time? Are we to believe that love is only something soft-hearted, weak-willed women can enjoy? Careful, Thomas, because your misogyny is showing. Hate to inform you of this, but women CAN kick ass AND be in love all at the same time. And they don’t have to suffer unimaginable loss to be strong.
For proof that female detectives can still do their jobs and find love, check out these romance novel detectives.
Lexa and Clarke, The 100
Now, I’ll admit that I’m a diehard Bellarke shipper. I think Bellamy and Clarke are endgame, and if they aren’t, the show has lost its damn mind. But still, when Clarke fell in love with Lexa, it felt totally believable to me. They had great chemistry, and it made sense that these two strong, capable, military leaders would be drawn together romantically. So when Lexa died in the weakest way possible (a stray bullet, for crap’s sake), it made their whole relationship seem pointless. Did Lexa die so that Clarke could become stronger? (Which I’ve already established is crap—see Logan and Veronica) Did she die because the writers were never fully in support of the lesbian relationship? Or was it just lazy writing? Any way you look at it, it was a sad end to a beautiful relationship.
For LGBTQ+ romancedone right, check these out.
Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, Game of Thrones
This is another one I’ll die angry about. Jaime Lannister was another victim of character assassination by his writers. But when he was with Brienne, he was a better man. He was a man who had honor. And for him to be with Brienne for such a short time, then break her heart to return to his sister was so out of character for the man he’d worked so hard to become for the past 8 seasons that it was shocking. Shockingly bad writing, that is. If a romance writer had been involved at any point, I’m fairly certain Brienne wouldn’t have ended up crying in the snow over a boy, and Jaime wouldn’t have pointlessly died under a pile of rubble.
Check out some great romance recs based off your favorite Game of Thrones characters.
What about y’all? Any ruined TV and movie romances you’ll die mad about? Let’s discuss!