Think about your favorite television shows. Now think about that heartbreaking scene when two of your favorite characters parted ways. It just couldn’t be true! There you were, left in awe, hoping they’d get back together in the next episode. You may have even written production about it.
Get your tissues ready as we stroll down the halls heartbreak hotel. Here’s our list of the most eye-watering TV breakups.
Family Ties – Alex and Ellen
Apparently, trips to Paris have been the cause of many TV breakups. Even back in the 80's. Alex and Ellen were one of the hottest couples on television, women were charmed by Michael J. Fox and many men spent their days daydreaming about Ellen.
Audiences had got a sense that Alex and Ellen would be an item soon enough. Sadly, it pretty much ended before it really started, as Ellen got a dance scholarship to study Paris and went her own way.
Married With…. Children – Steve and Marcy
In the first three and a half seasons of Married with…. Children, Marcy D’Arcy was first introduced as Marcy Rhoades. While Marcy and her second husband Jefferson were complete opposites, Steve was a snooty banker, so they were two peas in a pod. However, too much time next to the Bundy family changed him, especially when Steve hanging out with Al more often.
Eventually, Steve finds that the yuppy lifestyle wasn't for him anymore and he ended up leaving Marcy for a job as a ranger at Yosemite National Park. Steve fans were taken aback by this of course. Later Jefferson would take his place as Marcy’s new husband and change the dynamic significantly.
Gilmore Girls – Lorelai and Luke
Throughout the run time of the loved Gilmore Girls, we watched as Rory went from relationship to relationships with men who weren’t exactly right for her. But when it came to her relationship with Luke, viewers rooted for him because together, they truly brought out the best in each other. At one point, Lorelai’s ex Christopher stepped back into the picture and ruined everything between her and Luke.
But luckily, this time fans got the happy ending they wished for as the duo did end up together, thank goodness, our heart couldn't take it anymore!
The Wonder Years – Kevin and Winnie
Nothing hits quite as hard as our first love, and no two TV characters have yet to convey it better than Kevin and Winnie. Fans followed 13-year-old Kevin as he tried to win over the girl of his dreams. He pulled all the endearing moves one would expect a junior high teen to do, some paid off, and others, well, didn’t.
Eventually, he won over the heart of his beloved, Winnie. However, young love can be very dramatic and complicated, their relationship faced jealousy, disappointment and, and unmet expectations, that their bond simply wasn't strong enough to bear. It was so heart-rending because it was just too relatable, and watching it took us back to our first bouts with love. For the sake of a happy ending, and most of us are suckers for one, the Kevin and Winnie got back together in the show finale.
Friends – Ross and Rachel
This one has to be one of the most famous (and saddest) TV breakups of all time. During those early seasons, Ross and Rachel's relationship was everything to the hopeless romantic and to the cold-hearted alike. You couldn't help but love their dynamic. Ross had had his eyes on Rachael since his days as a high school ner. And when life made them cross paths again, he finally got a real chance to win her over. Whenever the two would date other people, you couldn't help but cringe. The pair were simply meant to be together and everyone seemed to realize it but them.
When they finally became an item, it was an iconic television moment. Our hearts literally sank when during one of the most savage on-screen breakups, which had such an impact that it’s still a subject debated today. Did Ross cheat on Rachel or were they really on a break? Either way, the Friends finale finally gave us the happy closure we’d been waiting for as the two finally got their act together and realized they were better together.
The Sopranos – Tony and Carmela
If you've watched the show honestly, in the long run, Tony and Carmela’s breakup was probably best for everyone in the family. From infidelity to secrets and lies... it just all became too much and she could no longer turn her cheek. After a few, pretty savage, arguments between the two, it finally happened - and Carmella finally kicked Tony out and we cheered her on!
Their split, however, didn’t come without its sad moments. At one point, AJ became more rebellious and Carmela could no longer control him, and she eventually sent him to live with his father, Tony, leaving her alone in a giant mansion. After a while, Carmela and Tony eventually patched things up, but it came with quite a cost.
Beverly Hills, 90210 – Brenda and Dylan
Beverly Hills, 90210 has to be one of the most iconic dramas of 90's TV, and images of the dynamic duo, Dylan and Brenda are still very to this day on T-shirts and love-related memes. Why? They were the ultimate, prototypical bad boy/good girl couple.
Sadly, these two high school sweethearts didn’t make it down the aisle. In typical bad boy fashion, Dylan ended up cheating on Brenda with non other than her best friend Kelly, all while she was studying abroad. He eventually confessed to her and their relationship came to an end. Viewers were left in awe... plenty of couples have popped up throughout the decade but none of them were as beloved as Dylan and Brenda.
Grey’s Anatomy – Callie and Arizona
If you weren’t watching Scrubs back in the 2000s, then you were likely tuning into Grey’s Anatomy. This popular hospital drama had no shortage of heartbreaking splits that's for sure. Who could ever forget when Meredith and Derek broke up, or when Christina and Preston called it quits? Amid all of the heartbreaks, the one that we really didn't see coming was Callie and Arizona’s acrimonious departure. How could you Shonda Rhimes!?
Us fans wanted nothing more than for these two to live happily ever after, and it seemed so obvious at some point. However, life had the mingle, and disagreements regarding their daughter and career moves, eventually led to them divorcing.
The Big Bang Theory – Penny and Leonard
Every fan of The Big Bang Theory realized from the start that Penny and Leonard were meant for each other. Leonard was one of the main characters and Penny was the cute girl next door. The tension and chemistry were present from their very first meeting. As complete opposites, they fit the TV-relationship-mold to perfection.
However, writers chose to delay our gratification and left us hanging for a couple of seasons. When they eventually hooked up, it wasn't all smooth-sailing but eventually made for a pretty amazing couple. Like in real life, and even more so on TV, relationships have their drama, and Penny and Leonard were no exception.
They managed to break up, thus breaking our hearts, quite a few times. They moved on, dated other people and just as the show was wrapping up, writers threw us a curveball and rekindled the flame they once had. So much so, that marriage and a baby were also thrown into the mix.
Sex And The City – Aidan and Carrie
Sex And The City was a show that represented and even helped shape an era. Some fans overlook the whole Aidan saga and tend to cherish Carrie’s tumultuous romance with Mr. Big more. However, the breakup between Aidan and Carrie was by far more crushing than any other in the series. Yes, Mr. Big was obviously “the guy” on the show, but you have to admit that Aidan was something special.
He was the kind of guy that never let his ego get in the way of his feelings. He knew exactly what he wanted, and that was to marry Carrie. Once the two decided to go ahead and tie the knot, we thought Sex And The City was going to change forever. Sadly, Carrie crushed the down-to-Earth heart-throb when she realized that she still had feelings for Mr. Big. Seeing a sad Aidan realize that he wouldn't live happily ever after with the love of his life was just too much to handle.
Cheers – Sam and Diane
Sam and Diane's whole relationship personified the old saying ‘opposites attract.’ Sam, a working-class, ballplayer turned bartender, loved Diane, a college-educated intellectual. They both made one TV’s most beloved couples. Their affair started as cliche as it comes. In the beginning, they drove each other crazy but soon enough that friction melted into love.
Who would have guessed that the couple's first on-screen kiss would be the start of one of TV’s rockiest relationships? In spite of their many trials and tribulations, the two planned to eventually take the plunge and get hitched. Before they said ‘I do,’ however, Diane was offered a chance at making her career dreams come true, and Sam, wanting the best for her, convinced her to postpone the wedding. Although Diane promised to return within six months, things seemed to be going well for her in her new life, thus, we got to witness one of the saddest TV breakups ever.
That ’70s Show – Eric and Donna
It seems like every 90s sitcom had one of those power couples that seemed unstoppable. The kind you just couldn’t imagine splitting up. Like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, or Beyonce and Jay-Z because you would just lose your belief in true love, and that exactly what Eric and Donna were on That ’70s Show.
The beloved couple held strong until the very end of season seven. They broke up briefly, and fans were heartbroken, and not just because of the dreaded breakup but because we were left with the addition of a character named Randy, who seemed added to the cast to be Eric's replacement when he left the show.
Happy Days – Fonzie and Ashley Pfister
At first, it seemed like Fonzie wasn't the serious relationship type. Sure, he knew how to impress the ladies with his ability to change a song on the jukebox with a simple snap of the finger, but he never took women seriously. But then, Ashley Pfister came along during the show’s 10th season. And behold, love at first sight.
Ashley was far from the typical gal, and she wasn't impressed at all by Fonzie’s tough-guy act, so he had to put in the work in order to prove himself. Despite being complete opposites, they eventually fall in love. Surprisingly, once the 11th season begins, Ashley just vanished, Fonzie was alone again, and just never hear about that relationship again.
Grey’s Anatomy – Preston and Cristina
Grey’s Anatomy is still going strong. Which is hard to believe at times because of the rate in which the characters are killed off. There have been many dramatic romances throughout the show’s run, however, none of them were as memorable as the relationship between Preston and Cristina.
In the beginning, this couple really tried to keep things a secret, and as the show progressed, their drama became ours. Preston had quite the temper, and ended things with Cristina not once, but twice. First, he claimed he wanted to protect their reputations and the second, and most heartbreaking time was when her cold feet at the altar.
Glee — Kurt and Blaine
Kurt and Blaine of Glee made one of the most entertaining couples to hit the TV screens. Like any couple, they had their ups and downs but when Blaine confessed that he cheated on Kurt while they were trying to make their long-distance relationship work. Blaine tried explained that he was just "lonely" and it was just a mindless hookup that "didn't mean anything."
It knocked the wind out of Kurt and devastated us fans who were rooting for them the whole time because we knew it would be over. And unfortunately, we were right. Luckily, Kurt and Blaine ended up back together by the time "Glee" came to an end, and we were ecstatic.
Saved By The Bell – Zack and Kelly
Back in the 90s, Kelly Kapowski was the ultimate girl next door. Saved By The Bell fans everywhere were just waiting for male protagonists, Zack to win her over. Throughout the show’s run, he did in fact scheme his way into her heart.
When they finally became an item, everything seemed right with the world. However, things weren’t always smooth sailing for the couple. Zack screwed up more times then we could count. And eventually, their relationship began to crumble before our eyes, putting us fans through yet another tragic breakup. In the end, though, Zack matured and Kelly noticed so that by the time the show was a wrap, the high school sweethearts became husband and wife.
Seinfeld – Elaine and David Puddy
Throughout Seinfeld’s nine seasons, Elaine had over twenty boyfriends, yes we've counted. Most didn’t last more than an episode or two. However, David Puddy, Elaine’s on and off again boyfriend featured in ten episodes throughout the series and it seemed like he was the one.
He was very different from the Seinfeld gang in every way possible. Puddy was completely laid back, completely 'blue-collar', and would often space out. And although he and Elaine were complete opposites, he was the boyfriend that stuck around the longest, so fans were devastated when he decided to call things off.
Felicity – Felicity and Ben Covington
Remember when Ben Covington left a low0key flirty note in Felicity’s yearbook, and then she scraped her plans for the future and followed him to New York? Aww... the 90's, when that kind of impulsive behavior deemed stalkerish yet, just a "charming" quest for love.
Although Ben is quite uncomfortable with Felicity in the beginning, rightfully so. But, after a couple of seasons, their strange friendship slowly develops into a romance. The whole show practically built up to that very moment, however their time as lovers was very brief, and they quickly go back to being "just friends". Turns out Ben wasn't all he was piped up to be (in her mind), and he had his fair share of problems that they couldn't get past.
Twin Peaks – Donna and James
Twin Peaks is considered a show of its own league. While the main source of entertainment usually revolved around Special Agent Cooper, there were quite a few smaller storylines involving the mystery of Laura Palmer. One of which followed Donna Hayward, who was Laura’s best friend, who was on a quest to get to the bottom of her murder.
While on her quest for answers, she linked up with Laura’s secret ex-boyfriend, James Hurley. Amid their working relationship, they became somewhat began to develop a romantic one. But wasn’t exactly one of unadulterated bliss, especially after James started having feelings for Maddy Ferguson. Eventually, trouble caught up with James and he was forced to leave town. Before going his way, he professed his love for Donna and promised her that he’ll come back for her. But, we never heard from him again.
Full House – Steve and DJ
If we're talking about the saddest TV breakups, we can't leave out Steve and DJ from Full House. It wasn't your usual dramatic breakup, instead, their love slowly faded. In the beginning, the two were the ideal teenage couple but it didn’t last very long. Once the initial honeymoon phase faded, DJ eventually realized that her and Steve had nothing in common.
this wasn't really a surprise to viewers, who all noticed this way before DJ did. As nice as Steve was, he was always kind of a meathead. DJ ended things with Steve and kindly sent him on his way. However, in typical 1990s fashion, Steve popped up again in the last episode of the show, leaving viewers to assume that they rekindled their romance.
Frasier – Frasier and Julia Wilcox
When Frasier came to an end back in the 2000s, we never got the farewell we were hoping for. We were hoping to see Frasier fall in love, get married and live happily ever after with that special someone. But the writers of the show wouldn't give us that satisfaction.
Amid the many love affairs that Frasier had in his life, his relationship with Julia Wilcox had us fooled that it'd go the distance. When she was introduced to us as the new financial analyst at the radio station her squabbles with Crane immediately took fans back to the days of Sam and Diane on Cheers. Ultimately, they did have a short romance, but just like all the other women before her, Julia ended up dumping Frasier.
The Office – Dwight and Angela
The relationship between Dwight and Angela was absolutely grueling at some points. However, fans continued to root for the pair to make it. Angela who was often quiet, bitter and just unsatisfied about everything, but Dwight was able to bring out her softer side, making her appear more human.
At one point, they broke up and fans were absolutely crushed. Then to our pleasant surprise, they got back together... only to have affairs and break up again. Angela later got pregnant, sure that it was Roberts they became serious about their relationship. In an amazing plot twist, the baby ended up being Dwights and then we got to see Dwight and Angela back together.
One Tree Hill — Peyton and Jake
Oh, the nostalgia. "One Tree Hill" was one of those show full of romance and couples that we just couldn't get enough of. The pairing of Peyton and Jake (or "Jeyton") was no exception. And when we thought it wasn't possible, their bond strengthened when Peyton started helping Jake raise his daughter, Jenny. Tragically, Jake's ex (and baby-momma) kidnapped their daughter, and things turned left. Jake told Peyton he was had to leave town to find Jenny.
Thus, in one of the most heartbreaking moments on the show, Jake insisted that Peyton stay home while he left to search for his daughter. As cliche as the break up was, with plenty of lines like "I need you to forget about me and move on," the scene was tear-jerking nonetheless. Jake didn't want Peyton to be held back because of his own drama, that's how much he loved her.
Scandal – Olivia and Fitz
One of the main storylines in the hit series, Scandal, involves Olivia's relationship with Fitz. Fans were deeply invested in their romance, so when they broke up, we demanded a proper reason — and we got one. "Olivia is on a journey... She has been on a journey since we started. It's interesting to me that her primary story is a romance — that's what you've seen. But to me, her primary story has been discovering herself."
So, even though the breakup was hard for us fans to deal with, it was a pretty good explanation from s character development point.
Gilmore Girls – Rory and Jess
Between the oversensitive Dean and the arrogant Logan was Jess, who seemed to be the perfect balance. He was the classic TV tough guy with a sensitive soul. When he wasn’t reading his Allen Ginsberg poems, he was likely breaking into cars or skipping school to work his shift at Walmart.
Fans weren't even mad when Rory was crushing on him so hard that she practically kicked Dean to the curb. Jess was cool, but there were also times when he was shaky. He just didn’t know how to treat Rory like she deserved to be treated, and he even leaves for California at some point, ending their relationship. He’d eventually return in a later season but to the dismay of some fans, they would never get back together again.
Pretty Little Liars — Spencer and Toby
Fans of "Pretty Little Liars" are very passionate about the couples on the show, from Hanna and Caleb (aka Haleb) to Ezra and Aria (aka Ezria). But another couple that they couldn't get enough of was Spencer and Toby (or Spoby). Although they broke up more than once on the show, their first breakup (season two) was probably the most heartbreaking to watch.
Remember when Spencer told Toby "I'm not the person that you think I am," explaining how she lied to him and kept secrets from him in order to protect him from being targeted from the malicious, A. She thought Toby would be better off with someone who could be completely honest with him. Even though they would eventually get back together, that unforgettable scene was heartbreaking for us Spoby fans.
Boy Meets World – Cory and Topanga
Honestly, Cory and Topanga’s relationship wasn’t exactly the most realistic portrayal of teenage love. As far as their maturity, they were light-years ahead of most real-life teenagers but that was kinda what made the two so endearing, though. Like, 15-year-old Cory actually explained the meaning of love to confused Topanga... most adults don’t understand the true meaning.
While their relationship seemed pretty solid, they did go through a rough patch during season five when Cory kissed another girl during a ski trip. Topanga found out, and she didn’t hesitate to end cut it quits with the love of her life. So, the rest of the season showed us heartbroken Cory moping around the school and trying to win her back. They did eventually get back together, nonetheless, that breakup still remains one of the saddest ever aired.
Roseanne – Darlene and David
The most significant romance in Roseanne was definitely between Darlene and David. The two were just two peas in a pod. David, a pretty sensitive young man, was immediately embraced by the Connor family. That said, David and Darlene’s relationship was not a walk in the park. Throughout the show's seasons, the two make up and break up (three times actually) with each separation being more dramatic and heartbreaking than the last.
And while Darlene had the comfort of her family to fall back on, David, who was living with them at times, felt quite alone in the world, and that made matters even worse. Nonetheless, despite their occasional bickering, nothing seemed right when they were apart. It was later revealed during the show's finale that Darlene and David tied the knot and had kids. Unfortunately, fans learn during the show’s reboot that things again didn’t work out between them, resulting in their fourth painful breakup.
Smallville – Lana and Clark
When it comes to television romance, few TV couples have outperformed Lana and Clark in the teen-drama Smallville. Their on-screen chemistry seemed real to be simply acting and fans of the show wanted nothing more than to see the protagonists together, happily ever after. The writers, however, decided to ruin that fantasy, coming up with every trick in the book to keep the two love birds apart, all while keeping the tension between them burning hot, of course.
When we finally got to see Clark and Lana become a couple (season seven), sadly, it was a very short love affair. Lana got infected with kryptonite and Clark’s love interest ultimately became life-threatening to him. With Lana out of the picture, writers were finally able to write in Louise Lane's part as Clark’s new love interest.
How I Met Your Mother – Marshall, and Lily
While most people hoped that Robin and Ted would end up together, real fans knew they would likely not, as she was retrospectively referenced as Aunt Robin. So, when things ended with them, we just kind of accepted it. However, when Marshall and Lily had their little breakup in season one, our hearts shattered into a million little pieces.
Just remembering that scene, sweet little (well, not so little) Marshall, standing in the rain, clutching his wedding ring still pains us to think about. Lily eventually returned six months later and the two even got married. Because of their cute relationship and strong bond, even that short breakup was too much for us to bear. I mean, I'm still traumatized.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Buffy and Angel
This couple was definitely every gothic teen’s favorite back in the 90s. Buffy was a vampire slayer and Angel was, ironically, a vampire. Despite how badly we wanted things to work out between them, they just couldn't beat the odds. Hint: the title of the show alone kinda predicts his fate.
People who aren’t familiar with the show might wonder how they even got together to begin with. Well, Angel was a "cursed" vampire who had remorse and "human soul", but once that curse was broken, Buffy had to put her feelings aside and take care of business. As you can imagine, that didn't make it easier for her and it was painful to watch.
A Different World – Dwayne and Whitley
A Different World went through some drastic changes within its first two seasons. When the show began, the male lead, Dwayne Wayne, seemed destined to be with actress Lisa Bonet’s character, Denise Huxtable. The actress got pregnant and ultimately left the show, and that's when Jasmine Guy’s character, Whitley, came into the picture, taking Bonet's place as the female lead.
While Dwayne was a pretty normal guy, Whitley was a pretty spoiled Southern belle, accustomed to the good life. And this lead, of course, led to the classic ‘opposites attract’ situation. In the beginning, Whitley was snobby and pretty out of touch with the people around her, resulting in them bumping heads with each other on a few occasions. But, not surprisingly, they fell in love and even spoke about marriage. Sadly, when Dwayne confessed that he had gone out for coffee with another woman, their relationship crumbled. It left us in awe, it just couldn't be so. The two were able to patch things up eventually and were back together by the final season.
Friends – Monica and Richard
One has to question how sad this breakup really was. On the one hand, we really liked Richard and his iconic mustache. However, In our hearts, us Friends fans really wanted Monica to end up with Chandler. We were literally pulled between the two forces.
Richard was a family friend, had adult children and understandably, didn’t want anymore. These factors would eventually make Monica realize that their relationship wouldn't keep them both truly happy. And as much as they really did love each other, they came to the conclusion that they weren't right for each other. It just wasn't meant to be, and it was sad to watch.
Dawson’s Creek – Joey and Dawson
Out of every character on Dawson’s Creek, Joey had the worst relationship track record. While some fans think of her time with Pacey as the most romantic and heartbreaking, most would agree that nothing compares to the love and loss she experienced when she and Dawson went separate ways.
They were childhood friends whose relationship would later transition into a romantic one. But then Joey canceled a year-long trip to Paris to be with her love, Dawson, but then ended up cheating on him and ending their relationship. It was al lot for Dawson to bear, he thought he knew her. They would eventually become cordial but things would never be the same again between them.
California Dreams – Tiffani and Jake
Of all the Saturday morning Saved-By-The-Bell-type shows, California Dreams was probably the most popular. Tiffani Smith was the show’s Kelly, the classic sweet and cute girl with a heart of gold. Jake was the Zack, the "bad boy" that rode a motorcycle, had good hair and took slack from no one. And in a predictable manner, these two would be the show’s favorite couple.
They got together during the second season after a long build-up of romantic tension. But after a season of a blissful relationship, problems started finding their way into the love nest, and they called things off at the end of the second season. Eventually, they overcame their differences and got back together, and fans were thrilled.
Scrubs – J.D. and Elliot
Throughout most of the show, most never expected anything serious to develop between J.D. and Elliot. They did become a couple during the first season but it ended almost as fast as it started, and it broke fans' hearts because it was then when we realized that they were made for each other. We were further saddened when the pair began entering other relationships.
The show then further teased us when J.D. and Elliot tried being friends with benefits. And though they'd have a few awkward touching moments and scenes where they’d rediscover their feelings for one another, in the end, it led to nowhere. In typical fashion, the show writers waited until its last season for their romance to finally bloom. They eventually got married, and even had a baby. But just seeing them officially together made that nine-year wait was so worth the emotional roller coaster.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – Will and Lisa
If you were a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, you'll probably remember Will, the main character, spending most of his time hitting on any girl that crossed his path but that ended during the fifth season when he met the apple of his eye in the show, Lisa Wilkes. With her arrival, we saw Will’s character evolve from an obnoxious teenager to a man, trying his best to prove to his love interest that he was worth her time.
Despite going through many ups and downs, viewers were still convinced that Lisa and Will were going to go the distance. She was there by his side when he was attacked at the bowling alley, and when he was hospitalized after getting shot, she was with him in the good and the bad, however, during the season finale, she called the wedding off, leaving him there at the altar completely crushed. Will sadness seemed so real that some of us are still coping with it.
Peep Show – Mark and Sophie
Mark had his eye on Sophie from the first episode of Peep Show. He was extremely awkward, and she was somewhat shy, so they seemed like they’d make for a perfect couple. Trying to win Sophie, heart, Mark had quite a few humiliating moments, including his office nemesis, Jeff, who briefly dated Sophie, and was sure to purposefully rubbed it in Marks' face.
When Mark and Sophie did finally hook up, they realized that the relationship they fantasized about wasn't reality. Believe it or not, Mark managed to be even more awkward, and that was just too much for Sophie to deal with, and ironically their relationship came to an end on their wedding day.
Freaks and Geeks – Lindsay and Nick
Freaks and Geeks one of the 90s classics, and managed to make quite a few waves for a show that only lasted one season. Its success no doubt stemmed from its sincerity. The characters were written in a way that made them very relatable. Everyone knew a Nick and Lindsay growing up so it all felt all very familiar.
in the beginning, we were all certain that Lindsay and Daniel would be an item. But then the slightly geekier, Nick, stepped into the picture and, surprisingly, won her heart. When the two called it quits, not only did it rock their world, but it kinda shook and their whole friend circle as well. Eventually, Lindsay and Nick made peace with one another, even though they never did get back together. Lindsay decided to go on an adventure and follow a Grateful Dead tour and Nick ended up falling for another girl.