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5 Movie & TV Loves That Dare Not Speak Their Name

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, which makes me wonder about the romances that threaded through the TV shows and movies of my youth that… well, weren’t really there, according to the creators, even though everyone else knew better.

There’s definitely a culture of “couples, but not really” throughout popular culture; slash-fic — hell, you could make an argument that most fanfic in general — is built on it, and it’s become something that’s, if not encouraged, then at least tolerated and indulged by most creators of mainstream fictions these days: Shippers get teased with “Will they/won’t they” storylines, trailers and interviews, as if just the suggestion of something more than business or friendship between characters guarantees excitement and attention no matter what. I’d even go so far as to say that some of the … fun, perhaps, of the whole thing is gone when everyone is so complicit in the exercise, but perhaps I’m just getting old. That said, here are five of my favorite non-couple couples in TV and movies:

Kirk and Spock
The preeminent slash-fic couple, it’s pretty clear that Gene Roddenberry didn’t intent for anything untoward to be going on between his two leads, but as Star Trek II — and almost everything afterward, for that matter, including JJ Abrams’ reboot movie, which even gave them a “meet cute” scenario — showed, these two men share a bond that’s deeper than just friendship, and they’re occasionally written with such sensitivity that you believe it. If only “real” couples were given the same treatment.

Michael Knight and KITT
I’ll admit, it’s hard to imagine Michael Knight having feelings for anyone that wasn’t Michael Knight, but again – here’s a case where what was meant to be a buddy dynamic ended up being something much weirder, and potentially deeper, than any romantic attachment that the show could’ve provided. Meta-commentary on the love affair some men have for their cars, or unexpected side effect of the high concept behind the show? I can’t tell, but if only the show had been more upfront about it, car-fetishists the world over might be able to hold their heads a little higher in society today.

James Bond and Miss Moneypenny
The closest thing to a “normal” romantic relationship on the list, this seemed to be an open-and-shut case of unrequited love on behalf of the unfortunately-named secretary that turned into something more caustic (or perhaps just cautious) as the movies went on. And it was that — the point where Moneypenny seemed to see through Bond’s facade, and enjoy needling him as much as she pined for him — that fascinated me, for some reason. As soon as their relationship became one that was more equal, and more willing to point out that Bond wasn’t exactly the kind of faultless hero nice young secretaries should fall for, that’s when I wanted to see more of it … which is exactly the opposite of the point, really.

Han Solo and Chewbacca
Star Wars is full of couples-that-aren’t: Luke and Leia, Lando and Nien Numb, C3-PO and R2D2, Yoda and Obi Wan — wait, everyone else sees that last one, right? — but Han and Chewie have the best bond of any characters in any of the movies, and it’s all thanks to the fact that we have no idea what Chewbacca is saying to Han. Seriously, go back and watch any of the first three movies and, whenever Chewbacca goes “rawrrrrr,” imagine him declaring undying love to Han. It makes the movies so much better.

Mr. Roarke and Tattoo
Okay, maybe not. (But, you know, kind of, am I right?)

Now it’s your turn: Which two characters are you convinced either had some kind of relationship that we never actually got to see, or else deserved to have one? The comments, as always, are there for a reason, people …


  • Geistbusters

    The Skipper & Gilligan!!! There are few as great as those two. Oh, Magnum P.I. & Mr. Higgins were a good pair too!

  • Kentonindy

    A twisted example from the 1st season of DALLAS — Lucy Ewing, niece to J.R., had a brief fling with ranchhand Ray Krebbs, but in the 2nd season they decided to play off of the actor’s resemblance to the family patriarch Jock and revealed that Ray was Jock’s illegitimate son — which made him J.R.’s brother and Lucy’s uncle. Ew. The relationship was never mentioned again, as if it had never happened.

  • Simon Alexander

    ET and Elliot? Holmes and Watson? The Dr and the Tardis?

  • Annie9656

    Batman and Robin, duh.

  • Jericho

    Sam and Frodo.

  • Guzbo

    David Banner (Bill Bixby) and The Hulk (Lou Ferrigno)?

  • Pill

    Graeme McMillan and witless commentary.

  • Kevinj

    Buck Rogers and Twiki
    supergirl and power girl

  • Angeliclestat

    Angel & Spike- and they even did it ‘that one time’ according to Spike in the 2nd last episode of ‘Angel’

  • Dawnell_do

    I’m just waiting for another girl Robin for this to really happen.

  • Guest

    Graeme McMillan and his terrible writing. Go on Graeme, delete it again. You know you want to.

  • Kevin Melrose

    Graeme didn’t delete your comment, I did. A search of your comments shows you obviously have an ax to grind; do it somewhere else.

  • Guest

    I despite his witless writing. You really should can him, it just brings the quality of the entire site down.

  • David

    Um…Superman and Jimmy Olsen is the most stunning example I can think of, unrequited though it may be.

  • Srjuanm

    Maybe this article says more about Mr. McMillan than anything else, but 4 of the 5 couples are males. It’s almost sad that 2 guys can’t have a very close and dare I say it, loving, relationship without someone thinking, and joking, there might be more than meets the eye.

  • Flip Maker

    If you despise his writing so much, why are you acting like a gutless troll who won’t even sign his name to the posts? In addition, why do you care what effect it has on the site?

  • demoncat_4

    nice list for chewie and Han seemed to always act like there could have been a deeper bond though one that would commit beastality. as for the pair i would have to go with batman and of course super man for it would be the ulitimate pairing . that or the joker main reason to be batman main foe.

  • Daniel Duron

    ha ha yeah that’s a good one! :-)

  • Daniel Duron

    Sam and Dean on Supernatural! they’ve even mentioned on the show that fans sometimes pair them romantically in fan fiction, despite the fact that they’re brothers ha ha

  • Justice Gray

    Totally agree with Srjuanm. I assume that either Mr. McMillan doesn’t have a lot of close guy friendships or he has a lot of unrequited male male attraction issues he’s getting out of his system.

  • Imaginet1

    For me the best couple on tv are Dennis Crane and Alan shore because there is between them something beyond friendship or even love.

  • Sijo

    OK, first of all most fanfiction is NOT about slash pairings. There’s a lot of it, sure, but most fics are about wish-fulfillment- either changing an ending the fan didn’t like, living vicariously through a character, etc. Saying most fics are slash is like saying the only stuff on the internet is porn.

    Second, it isn’t like there’s much authors can do about fanfiction, even if they wanted to. Not only are most fic writers anonymous, but what constitutes an actual copyright violation can be hard to determine when many fanfics are pretty much just long posts on a commentary board. Not to mention that fics are usually indications of *loyalty* to a specific series, and pissing off your fanbase is never a good idea. Just let them write anything they want, I say, as long as they aren’t actually making money out of it.

  • Scott Hinze

    Smurfette and… the rest of them.

  • Kevjc07

    Malcolm Reynolds and Inara (Firefly) & Xena and Gabriela

  • RethSogan

    Tim Drake as Batman and Stephanie Brown as Robin would work well. Let’s see it, DC!

  • Thoeam

    BJ and the Bear !!!!!!

  • Bacishere

    Turk & JD from Scrubs obvious I know.

  • Jeff Frost

    Mr. White and Mr. Orange (Reservoir Dogs)
    Charlie and the waitress (Sunny in Philly)
    Wolverine and Kitty Pryde
    Ron Swanson and the breakfast bar at Big Boy (Parks and Rec)

  • mars

    I fully believe the nubian priest blessed the union of R2 and 3P0 in Attack of the clones.

  • Buster

    Greg and Marcia Brady

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

    Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless!
    The San Francisco Gay Men Chorus did their own rendition of Queen’s Flash Gordon theme with Flash choosing Ming over Dale Arden. (Dale ended up with Kala!)

  • Scott

    Munch and Tutuola from Law &Order, SVU.

  • DoubleWide

    Robbie the Robot, & Robot from Lost In Space.

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

    That would be incest!
    They share the same parent: production designer Robert Kinoshita.

  • Niloc

    Ok,I know my age is showing a bit but I’ll go with Casey Jones & Roundhouse Rodney.

  • Eldonte

    HAL and Dave – 2001 a Space Oddysey

  • Guest

    Clark Kent and Lex Luthor, underneath all of that hostility there just have to be a whole lot of UST.