No this isn't what would happen if Superman and Wonder Woman hooked up
(which they actually did sometime after the New 52
), rather this is one of the earliest manifestations of Shipping
. The Super Couple
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 Days of Our Lives
quickly sought Super Couple
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 Super Couple 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 Super Couple
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).
The Super Couple
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.
- Luke and Noah on As the World Turns. 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.
- Luke and Lorelai on Gilmore Girls.
- Stefan 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 still have no idea who the latter is.
- 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.