No, it isn't what would happen if Superman and Supergirl hooked up
. The supercouple describes those pairings which intrigues and fascinates the public on an intense and obsessive level. According to The Other Wiki
the term was coined in the 1980s when interest in the pairing of Luke and Laura from General Hospital
garnered so much attention that their wedding was watched by 30 million viewers, a figure which is still the highest audience for a daytime Soap Opera
in the U.S.A. This was all despite the fact that their romance began when Luke raped Laura, who was married to another man at the time.
Other Soaps, most notably Sister Series All My Children
and NBC's Days of Our Lives
quickly sought supercouple pairings of their own, eventually leading to a standard formula for the phenomenon that was repeated endlessly during the 1980s. For example Alice and Bob, a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers
, would fall in love after a short period of Will They or Won't They?
but a misunderstanding would drive them apart. One of the couple (usually Alice, but sometimes Bob and occasionally both) would then marry the Romantic False Lead
. This marriage would quickly fall apart and after some more adventures Alice and Bob would reunite and marry. Often Alice would be subjected to an attempted or actual rape
along the way, usually by her husband who turned out to be a villain. These storylines, if successful, gathered high ratings and press attention for their show. Soap writers took great care to groom their next supercouple long before the first were concluding their arc
in order to maintain a certain amount of Unresolved Sexual Tension
. This Beta Couple
would then replace their previous counterparts as the show's Official Couple
once the previous couple had gotten married.
Shortly after the supercouple was finally married, one or sometimes both members of the pairing usually left the show (as the actors portraying them would often attempt to use their popularity in order to pursue other opportunities). This was accomplished by either putting them on a bus
(if both were leaving) or having one of the couple die, without a body being found
(if only one was leaving). If both actors stayed on the show however, the writers usually did everything they could to avoid Shipping Bed Death
, which meant that once again Alice and Bob would be forced to break up. Often, the whole cycle was repeated anew with Alice and Bob divorcing, (and having more shortlived marriages to other people) only to reunite again and have a second wedding… and eventually a third wedding and so on.
Eventually this formula was picked up by other genres, most notably with Ross and Rachel from Friends
, who resolved their Will They or Won't They?
late in the show's second season and spent the next eight years playing out this trope (Ross even married another woman along the way, as well as marrying and divorcing Rachel at one point).
After a lull in the late 80's and early 90's a resurgence of the formula began to gain steam for a new generation in the mid 90's and early 00's, with the likes of The Young and the Restless
Nick and Sharon, JT and Coleen, Days of Our Lives
Lucas and Sami, Shawn and Belle, Austin and Carrie, All My Children
Mateo and Haley, Edmund and Maria, Leo and Greenlee, Bianca and Maggie, General Hospital
Sonny and Brenda, Lucky and Elizabeth, Patrick and Robin and so on. Many articles spoke of this new breath of life in the formula as riveting as well as the daring new directions some couples went, Bianca and Maggie being the first Same-Sex Supercouple ever conceived for example.
The supercouple is now on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope
as audiences eventually tired of seeing their favourite supercouples getting married for the fourth
time and were Genre Savvy
enough to know that as long as both characters of a pairing remained on the show, then any break up would not be permanent. The rise of internet messageboards in the 1990s provided an outlet for fans of alternative pairings. These pairings often become more popular than
the show's Official Couple
, resulting in a lot of Ship-to-Ship Combat
. Soap writers today usually prefer to use this to their advantage and even those pairings that were once thought untouchable (even the aforementioned Luke and Laura) are not immune from this. One area where the trope is still going strong, however, is with same-sex couples, as they tend to automatically get showered with attention simply due to their ground-breaking nature.
Compare Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome
, which this usually involves.
- Soap Opera Examples:
- General Hospital:
- Luke and Laura. While there have been other couples named retroactively, as stated above, they where the couple that coined the term and quite easily the most famous example.
- Frisco and Felicia.
- Duke and Anna.
- Sonny and Brenda.
- Lucky and Elizabeth.
- Port Charles (a GH spin-off, incidentally):
- Rafe and Allison
- Caleb and Livie.
- All My Children
- Cliff and Nina, which hold the record in daytime history for the most divorces and remarriages of a Supercouple, four times, in their 10 year reign.
- Tad and Dixie, the series longest running.
- Jessie and Angie which made history as the first African-American Supercouple.
- Greg and Jenny.
- Bianca and Maggie, which also made history as the fist same sex Supercouple.
- Continuing on the show's groundbreaking traditions, Noah and Julia were the first interracial, he African-American, she Hispanic, Supercouple.
- As the World Turns.
- Steve and Betsy
- Holden and Lily
- Bob and Kim
- Carly and Jack
- Tom and Margo.
- Luke and Noah. Their first kiss made history by becoming the first gay male kiss on American daytime television.
- Or Luke and Reid, who became immensely popular overnight. Even the most hardcore Nuke fans found themselves hoping for a LuRe Happy Ending. Tragically, they don't get one. Though Reid's death still doesn't reunite Noah and Luke in the end.
- Days of Our Lives
- Bo and Hope, often called the Soap's signature coupling, and ranked often alongside Luke and Laura as one of the greatest love stories in daytime.
- Doug and Julie, which is often cited as the first Supercouple.
- John and Marlena. Ironic as John was originally thought to be Roman, making them a rare pairing to make up two different Supercouples between Roman and Marlena, though John and Marlena became the much more popular couple, often seen after only Bo and Hope as the shows most enduring romance.
- Steve and Kayla.
- Jack and Jennifer (It is worth noting that Jack was the Romantic False Lead for Kayla before Kayla got together with Steve and Jack with Jennifer.)
- The Young and the Restless most famous pairing would be Victor and Nikki, forming a modern day Pygmalion.
- The Bold and the Beautiful.
- Ridge and Brooke.
- Some would say Ridge and Taylor as well.
- Sheridan and Luis.
- Ethan and Theresa.
- Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts on The O.C.
- Mike and Susan on Desperate Housewives
- Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl.
- Buffy Summers and Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel.
- Buffy and Spike, too, although their relationship didn't run quite as smoothly.
- Ross Geller and Rachel Green on Friends, taking Will They or Won't They? to decade-long absurdity.
- To a lesser extent Chandler and Monica.
- One Tree Hill
- Nathan and Haley.
- Lucas and Peyton.
- Jim and Pam on the US version of The Office.
- Sam and Diane on Cheers, who are generally considered the Trope Codifier for Will They or Won't They? and Belligerent Sexual Tension in the sitcom genre. Just try and count all the TV couples ever since who've been described as having a "Sam-&-Diane-type relationship".
- Maddie and David on Moonlighting.
- Naomi and Emily on Skins—they weren't called "the nation's favourite lesbian couple" for nothing.
- Throw in John Paul McQueen and Craig Dean of Hollyoaks, who were probably the most beloved gay supercouple in British television.
- Another gay super couple from Hollyoaks (its a bit of a series staple by this point) would be Ste and Brendan, to the point that for a long time 'Stendan' and 'Hollyoaks' were nearly synonymous to viewers. Slightly a subversion, in the sense that their relationship was always dysfunctional, they have broken up multiple times and shortly after they were reunited and got things (mostly) sorted out emotionally, Brendan left the show and is unlikely to return.
- Blaine and Kurt from Glee who've done for American gay teen couples what Naomily did for them in the UK.
- Luke and Lorelai on Gilmore Girls.
- Damon and Elena from The Vampire Diaries.
- J.D. and Elliott on Scrubs. This is lampshaded by several characters who compare them to Ross and Rachel.
- Ted and the Mother in How I Met Your Mother, although we spent nearly 8 seasons without any idea of who the latter was.
- Subverted in the finale. It turns out the mother is a decoy for this trope and the real Super Couple is Ted and Robin. This did not go over well with the majority of the fandom
- In-universe example: Katniss and Peeta are this to the people of Panem in The Hunger Games. Behind the scenes, however… they end up becoming one for real.
- Both Marvel and DC have one, in the form of Peter Parker/Mary Jane and Clark Kent/Lois Lane respectively. Both couples took a very long time to hook up in the comics themselves, have had other love interests who've never been quite as popular (though, Peter and Gwen Stacy is also rather popular, but avoid becoming this due to Gwen being largely obscure to non-comic fans until recent years), and are still largely the most well-known couples in the superhero genre. DC even based an entire show based around their couple, and their later show Smallville built them up similarly (despite originally putting Clark together with Lana Lang, and strong fandom love for Canon Immigrant Chloe Sullivan), while most Spider-Man adaptations frequently just use Mary Jane as his love interest.
- DC also has Batman and Catwoman. Batman has more than a few love interests, but besides Talia, none have came close to Catwoman in popularity or how long they've lasted. While they've only ever briefly been together properly, the two are probably one of the most famous superhero couples (and the most well known Superhero/Supervillain couple).
- Marvel as well has other Supercouples in Reed Richards and Sue Storms aka. Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman, which has remained one of the most longest and enduring Superhero Marriages of all time and Scott Summers and Jean Grey which while Jean has been paired with Logan/Wolverine once in a while, she always ends back with Scott in one way or another.
- Eli and Clare from Degrassi were this for a while. Unfortunately, the writers have taken this trope so far that many fans have gotten tired of the couple.
- Nintendo has two: Mario/Princess Peach and Link/Princess Zelda. From the beginning of their franchises, both couples remain strong and are widely considered to be the gold standard by which all video game relationships are measured. Although Mario and Link have been teased with other love interests, none of them are nearly as popular as Peach and Zelda; the only credible rival to Link/Zelda is Link/Midna but but has the disadvantage of appearing in only one game that feels more like an exception, rather than a norm. Mario and Peach generally enjoy a good relationship both in the core games and the spin-offs, while The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had Link and Zelda's evolved relationship as one of its main draws.
- DC have another one in the live action adaptation The Flash (2014) - Barry and Iris. Like in the comics, Barry has other love interests, as does Iris on the show, but neither the show nor its creators have ever denied that they are destined to be together. They become the Official Couple near the end of season 2, and many consider their relationship to be the emotional centre of the series. Their love also happens to span at least three timelines and two earths. Supercouple, indeed.