The Handy-Dandy Survival Guide to Shipping Doomed Couples

You know who you are. You thought that in Little Women, Laurie should have married Jo instead of Amy; and in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet seemed all right but you always wondered why Romeo never worked it out with Rosalind; and you’re still (still) disappointed that Luke and Leia turned out to be related. You’ve got an uncanny knack for rooting for doomed couples and I know your pain. I feel your angst. So I’ve come up with this handy-dandy survival guide for those romance fans like you who always seem to find themselves on the wrong side of fate (be warned, there be spoilers ahead):

1.) Don’t Panic

You shouldn’t start freaking out if the couple you love seems like nothing more than a distant dream. Why? Because sometimes the nuances of a particular fictional universe can actually work to your advantage. Lost started off firmly in the Kate/Jack camp, but by the time the series ended Kate/Sawyer, Jack/Juliet and Sawyer/Juliet had all gotten their turn on the time jumping merry-go-round of island love. Not content with these multiple plains of romantic realities, Lost also threw flash-sideways storylines into the mix, which gave fans a chance to see their favorite couples in yet another light.

Similarly, the BBC’s Doctor Who used its time-traveling motif in a recent episode to create the illusion of two possible realities: one in which Amy continued adventuring with the Doctor, and one in which Amy chose to return home to Rory. Every romantic pairing gets to play! Just because your favorite couple isn’t together right now, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be together in the future…or the past…or in another dimension. It is fiction, after all.

2.) Retreat to a Safe Place

But what’s to be done if the laws of time and space still managed to keep your favorite couple apart? Get online, obviously! Yeah yeah, we know that the internet was originally invented to help the military share information. But let’s not lie, now the web mostly exists as a sanctuary for all things fangirl. So if your favorite fictional couple ended up going their separate ways, don’t worry — there are tons of online fans that feel your pain and want to make it all better via the magic of fanfiction. For those not in the know, fanfiction refers to stories written by fans about their favorite television shows, books, movies, comics, etc. For every doomed or dismissed couple, there are hundreds of fanfiction stories waiting to rebuild the wreckage of your broken hearts and shattered dreams.

Let’s take Suzanne Collins’s recent mega-hit Hunger Games trilogy, for example. Even though Collins effectively torpedoed one half of her Peeta/Katniss/Gale love triangle when she insinuated that Gale was responsible for the bomb that killed Katniss’ beloved little sister, internet fans have written hundreds of fanfiction stories about the ill-fated District 12 hunting partners. And to those of you who think that fanfiction is only for internet dweebs…well, I’ll be reading a million different versions of happily ever after while you’re busy getting saddle sores from that high horse.

3.) Avoid Making Enemies

A word of caution about our friend the internet, though. Just because no one knows who you really are does NOT mean that you get to be a jerk. The web has a tendency to turn perfectly rational human beings into crazed lunatics who don’t know how to use their internet indoor voices, especially when it comes to romantic couples. The best (worst?) example of this comes from the magical world of Harry Potter, which became deeply split over the issue of whether Hermione Granger belonged with Ronald Weasley or our Boy Who Lived. The great and epic battle between the two camps of fans looked a lot like what we imagine World War III will be like, only with more CAPSLOCK and tons of frowny-face emoticons. Things got hella rough, and the war still rages on in some circles even though J.K. Rowling has long since put the series to rest (and now presumably spends her time diving into mountains of gold, Scrooge McDuck style).

Don’t get me wrong—I feel you. Our favorite fictional couples are often expressions of our innermost selves and our deepest feelings about love, so it’s natural that emotions run very high. But if you wouldn’t call someone on the street a BLITHERING IDIOT!!!!1!!, then you probably shouldn’t call SnapeWife44 that either.

These Are Our Over-the-Moon Faces (Frak Destiny)4.) Stay Positive

Think your favorite couple got the shaft? There’s always someone who got it way, way worse. It didn’t matter which side of the Battlestar Galactica Kara/Lee/Dee/Sam quadrangle of doom you were on because every pairing ended up getting screwed in one way or another during the misguided final season of the series (unless vanishing into thin air or piloting your ship directly into the sun count as happy endings).

But the award for the all-time worst ending for a potential romantic pairing certainly has to go to Twilight’s Jacob and Bella, who suffered a laughably ridiculous conclusion to their would-be relationship when Jacob (through the powers of werewolf magic) fell in love with Bella’s half-vampire baby in Breaking Dawn. That’s right, her BABY. Let’s all take a moment to bow down to the wonder of Stephenie Meyer, who managed to mix pedophilia and cross-species ickiness in order to produce a truly weird end to her Twilight love triangle. If you ever start to feel sorry for your favorite doomed couple, just whisper “Renesmee” to yourself three times and I promise things won’t look quite so bleak…

What Do You Mean It'll be Years 'Til Our HEA?!5.) Remember That Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…

It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings—or until the credits roll on the series finale or the last page concludes with an emphatic The End. Dawson’s Creek made fans suffer through two whole seasons of that Dawson and Joey are soulmates malarkey before wisely shifting its focus to the vastly more interesting Pacey/Joey pairing. Season 3 was a glorious romp of tentative romance and angsty yearning (Walls were bought! Kisses were stolen! Dawson cried!). It couldn’t last forever, though, and it seemed like the final nail in the coffin when Pacey and Joey broke up (for the second time) late in the series’s last season. But lo and behold, those tricky Dawson’s Creek scribes saved the best for last: the final moments of the series revealed that Joey had chosen Pacey and that they were living together in domestic bliss (even though they had to watch Dawson’s crappy teen drama on TV)!

So remember, if there are still episodes being aired and chapters being written, there’s still hope for your favorite would-be lovers. A show’s original couple isn’t always the couple that ends up together, so kick up your feet and stick around for awhile. It might just be worth it in the end.

So there you have it! What are your favorite doomed couples? Got any survival tips of your own? I have found that a glass of wine (or two) can also work wonders….

This post and its ensuing discussion originally appeared on our sister site Heroes & Heartbreakers.


Jill Slattery is an avid reader, writer and consumer of all things pop culture. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a wonderful pooch named Albus Dumbledog. When she’s not writing about romance she’s busy writing about desserts over at the Dessert Patrol.

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