Follow TV Tropes

Following

Love Triangle / Live-Action TV

Go To

Love Triangles in live-action TV.


  • Practically every show on The WB and UPN that had more than a handful of episodes had at least gone through a long Story Arc centered on a triangle, including, oddly enough, the Professional Wrestling franchise.

  • Downplayed on The 100. Finn has a relationship with Raven on the Ark, but when he's stranded on the Ground and thinks he'll never see her again, he starts building a romance with Clarke, unaware that Raven's on her way down to be with him. However, once Raven arrives, and the characters realize they've stumbled into a love triangle, both Clarke and Raven quickly terminate their relationships with Finn, and all three characters try to put this mess behind them and get back to just being friends.
  • Advertisement:
  • Alias included several love triangles; however, the most prominent were between Will/Sydney/Vaughn and Sydney/Vaughn/Lauren.
  • The Amazing Race 2 had Wil/Tara/Alex. Wil and Tara were married but separated, but Tara still started flirting with Alex, and cost them the race by doing so.
    • Zach/Flo/Drew on Season 3. Zach and Flo were friends seeing if they could be more, but Flo fell for Drew instead.
  • On Angel, Fred is pursued by both Gunn and Wesley during Season Three. Gunn wins at first, but Wesley eventually gets with her, a year after Fred and Gunn break up and just before Fred's death.
    • There's also the Angel-Cordelia-Connor love triangle in Season Four, complicated by the fact that Angel and Connor are father and son and that Cordelia is possessed by the Big Bad.
    • Branched off from spin-off Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Spike argue over Buffy and their shared relationships with her all throughout S5. She's not actually with them though so mostly it's just the two fighting pointlessly.
  • Babylon 5
    • Sheridan-Delenn-Lennier. With ultimately violent consequences when the latter suddenly switches from I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy to Love Makes You Evil.
    • Advertisement:
    • The second season also had Ivanova-Talia-Garibaldi in a rare Bi the Way variant.
  • Battlestar Galactica has its own heaping helping. Starbuck is torn between Apollo, who marries Dee, and Sam Anders, while Tyrol used to be involved with Boomer, but marries Callie and has a son with her. Or so he thinks. Even Colonel Tigh gets in on the action, falling in love with a Six, but still has feelings for his not-actually-dead wife.
    • The original Galactica series had Athena-Starbuck-Cassiopeia.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 has some of the longest-running examples of this on television. Most characters experience some triangle or another, but over ten seasons, Kelly and Brandon can usually be found dating either each other or some featured hypotenuse, including fellow main characters Steve, Dylan, Valerie, and Brenda.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike and Angel(us) compete for either Drusilla or Buffy.
    • During season 3, Willow is torn between Oz and Xander, and Xander is torn between Cordelia and Willow.
    • A short-lived triangle existed between Oz, Willow and Veruca in season 4.
  • Chinese Paladin: Ling'er loves Xiao Yao, and vice versa, but believes things will be better if she leaves him. Yue'Ru loves Xiao Yao, but knows it is unrequited. Both girls then attempt to bow out and let the other have a chance to be happy with the man they love, to the point where the man in question tells them both to shut up and stop helping him.
  • Advertisement:
  • Chuck: Chuck loves Sarah Sarah loves Chuck back but her ex boyfriend Bryce wants Sarah back and Sarah still cares for Bryce. Then we get Sarah:Cole, and Chuck:Lou and later Jill. Then it happens one last time with Sarah:Shaw right before the Official Couple becomes official for good.
  • The Closer: Agent Howard is in love with Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, who's in love with Agent Howard... now. But back in DC Brenda had an affair with her superior, Chief Pope. Ironically, she's now working for Chief Pope again, this time in L.A., and he still has feelings for her, but she's over him and married to Agent Howard, resulting in a very grudging I Want My Beloved to Be Happy.
  • Beautifully (and possibly uniquely) done in an episode of Community; when Troy and Abed develop a simultaneous crush on the new librarian, their response is to approach her at the same time, explain the situation and invite her out on a mutual date so that she can determine which of the two she'd prefer to see again. She ends up settling on Troy, but he breaks it off when she says some unflattering things about Abed.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is all about the love triangle between Rebecca, Josh and Valencia. Rebecca is Josh's ex-girlfriend from a summer camp when they were teenagers, while Valencia is his long-term girlfriend. Josh intensely cares about, and is attracted to, both women, and which one he prefers varies from episode to episode. As of the end of season one, he has dumped Valencia for Rebecca ... and looks like he's severely regretting that decision upon hearing that Rebecca's whole reason for leaving her extremely well-paid job in New York and moving to West Covina, California was to try to resume their relationship.
    • There's also the love triangle between Rebecca, Josh and Greg. Greg becomes attracted to Rebecca while she is trying to seduce Josh, then has a relationship with Heather for a few episodes before realizing that he loves Rebecca after all. For a couple of episodes Greg and Rebecca make a go of it, before Greg acts the total douche - he's playing hard to get but it backfires spectacularly - and persuades Rebecca to go for Josh after all.
    • There is even a song in the second season called "The Math of Love Triangles". It's filled with triangle puns.
  • Dear White People: Gabe is being madly in love with Sam, but the latter later becomes close to Reggie who's been attracted to Sam from the moment he laid on eyes on her. Complicating it further is that Reggie himself is the object of an unrequited attraction from Joelle. It turns almost into a Love Dodecahedron when you add in that Sam dated Troy before the start of the series and Coco dates him briefly in season 1.
  • The third season of Degrassi: The Next Generation has a truly grim Love Triangle that ends (after many, many twists) with all three people hating each other and vowing to never see each other again. Later seasons overused the Love Triangle to the point of insanity; an absolute majority of the cast has been in at least one Love Triangle, and some of them have been in two or more.
    • The aforementioned love triangle essentially recreates a love triangle from Degrassi High that was just as catastrophic. It will forever be remembered not only for breaking up what was perhaps Degrassi's most popular couple ever, but also for being the first time the word "Fuck" was uttered on Canadian TV.
    • Averted in Season 7, as Mia and Holly J are both interested in Sav. Sav decided to date Anya.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Jack and Rose are both in love with the Doctor, and also fancy each other. The Doctor cares about Rose in his own way, but the show leaves it ambiguous whether it's deep friendship or romantic love, and the Doctor Cannot Spit It Out either way. All three pairings get sweet and emotional kissing scenes. The Doctor eventually solves the Rose side of the problem by convincing her to live Happily Ever After with his half-Donna clone, which is messed up on a whole lot of levels.
    • Amy and Rory are Happily Married, but Amy also quite fancies the Doctor. The drama is as goes:
      • The Doctor, upon knowing, wants nothing to do about it, pushes Amy and Rory together and freaks out when Amy tries to kiss him against his will. Just as well for Rory, since the Doctor literally can, and does, fly Amy to the moon and take her on a spin amongs the stars. Amy turns out to be completely shameless during her and Rory's wedding.
        Amy: [moves up to the Doctor] You absolutely definitely may kiss the bride.
        The Doctor: [casually puts his index finger over Amy's lips] From now on, I leave all of the kissing to the brand new Mister Pond!
      • And later:
        Amy: Oi! Where are you off to? We haven't even had a snog in the shrubbery yet!
        Rory: Amy!
        Amy: Shut up, it's my wedding.
        Rory: Our wedding!
      • This doesn't really stop until Amy finds herself to be the Doctor's mother-in-law.
    • There's another sort of love triangle between the Doctor, River his wife, and the TARDIS herself (Idris).
    • Series 8 establishes an unusual triangle involving the Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald, and Danny Pink, with Clara trying to maintain relationships with both men. Explicitly illustrated in "Mummy on the Orient Express" when Clara finds herself saying "I love you" to both men at the exact same time: Danny is on the phone speaking to Clara, but when she breaks the show's "I love you" stigma she ends up actually addressing the words (per Word of Saint Paul, Jenna Coleman) to the Doctor and begins actively lying to Danny about staying with the Doctor thereafter. In "Death in Heaven", it doesn't end well. Clara finds herself talking to a Cyberman about how much she cares for and trusts the Doctor, and how he is "the one man" she'd ever truly trust ... at which point the Cyberman removes his faceplate and we see it's Danny.
    • Series 9 has the Doctor firmly in Camp Clara and Clara in Camp Doctor throughout, but that doesn't stop Missy from trying to throw a spanner into the works in "The Magician's Apprentice".
  • Downton Abbey has this in spades, with the most prominent example happening among the house staff in season 3 (Daisy fancies Alfred, who pursues Ivy, who likes Jimmy, who's hit on by Thomas).
  • The final episodes of Family Ties featured this between Alex, his longtime girlfriend Lauren, and Marty, a music student he was tutoring. Unusually, it's resolved by him ending things with both women (or more accurately, they with him), realizing that despite loving them both, that neither is "The One" for him.
  • Two notable examples on Farscape - John, Aeryn, and Gillina in the season one finale, and John, Aeryn, and John in season three. John Crichton is involved in a love triangle with himself.
  • The First Shop of Coffee Prince: Yoo Joo once left Han Seong for DK. She returns to Han Seong, but has a borderline flirtatious friendship with Han Kyul, who likes both her and Eun Chan. Han Seong also has romantic feelings for Eun Chan, but her feelings for him seem to be platonic.
  • In Frasier, Niles was in love with both Daphne (who was oblivious), and his unseen wife, Maris, finding himself torn for several years because he refused to cheat on or break up with his wife, yet couldn't get rid of his feelings for Daphne. Contrary to most triangles of this kind, however, Maris was so evil that fans spent all those years screaming "dump the bitch!" instead of rooting for Niles' marriage to succeed.
  • Done at least once a season on Friends, with particularly major examples including;
    • Ross/Carol/Susan, with Carol Ross's ex-wife and Susan her lesbian lover
    • Rachel/Barry/Mindy, with Barry Rachel's ex-fiancé and Mindy her ex-best-friend and Barry's new wife
    • Chandler/Kathy/Joey, with Kathy dating Joey while Chandler finds himself in love with her.
    • Ross/Rachel/Joey becomes a particularly complicated one in the last third of the series, when Joey falls for Rachel while she's pregnant with Ross's child in the eighth season, Rachel develops a brief crush on Joey at the end of the ninth season, and she and Joey date at the beginning of the tenth season before they realise they can't go further than kissing.
  • Fringe appears to be setting up a mind-frak of a love triangle between Peter, Olivia, and Alternate!Olivia.
  • Game of Thrones
    • According to the Word of God, Ser Jorah Mormont has been in love with Daenerys from pretty much her wedding day.
      • In Series 1 it's hinted that Jorah has feelings for Dany and is jealous of her husband, Khal Drogo.
      • At the end of Series 3, there is some Ship Tease between Daenerys and Daario Naharis and, as a consequence, they become lovers in Series 4, which hurt Jorah deeply. In Series 6, he and Daario have some Cock Fight, while searching for Daenerys.
  • Gilmore Girls does this with Lorelai, Luke, and Christopher and Rory with Dean, Jess, and Logan.
  • Glee has love triangles for the kids AND the adults. The kids are Finn, Rachel, and Quinn while the adults are Will, Terri (Will's wife), and Emma.
    • The Will/Terri/Emma triangle has been (mostly) resolved because Will found out Terri was faking her pregnancy and promptly divorced her. The Finn/Quinn/Rachel triangle was resolved as well as Finn learned the baby wasn't his. The second triangle was replaced with a Rachel/Finn/Jesse triangle until Jesse was written out of the show.
  • Grey's Anatomy: Dr. McDreamy, Meredith, and Dr. McDreamy's wife. An interesting example, in that the audience is primarily rooting for the "interloper".
  • In the season 1 of Heroes, the triangle of Peter, Simone and Isaac was epic and led to catastrophic consequences.
  • There was a love triangle between Sara/Aitor/Lucas in Los Hombres De Paco. Sara and Lucas got married, then he went to the USA for CIA training (the series takes place in Spain) and then Sara had a long-term affair with Aitor while he was gone. She then got married to Aitor, while still be married to Lucas. Lucas came back home and then Sara went back to him.
  • The Hour had its three main characters connected this way: Freddie has feelings for Bel, who's sleeping with Hector, who's jealous of Bel and Freddie's extremely close friendship. Turns into a Love Dodecahedron as time goes on and more characters join the mix, but the pairing the show ends on is Freddie and Bel.
  • How I Met Your Mother has tons of these and some of them do not work very well for each party:
    • Season one has Ted/Robin/Victoria which didn't work out for them no thanks to Ted. Though in the end, Ted gets together with Robin until they broke up at the end of season two.
    • There's also Robin/Barney/Nora in Season 7 until Robin gets together with Kevin. Then, she sleeps with Barney, forcing him to pick between her and Nora. He chooses Robin, but she chooses Kevin until they break up with Ted wanting to be with Robin, who rejects his feelings.
    • Season 8 Robin/Barney/Patrice except that it's part of Barney's plays to get Robin to like him. Though Robin didn't like it, she accepts Barney's proposal while Ted still has feeling for her.
    • Season 9 continues with Ted/Robin/Barney until Ted decides to let go and eventually meets The Mother.
    • The Grand Finale sees Barney and Robin get divorced, which leads to Robin/Ted/The Mother. The Mother turns out to be dead and Future!Ted is telling the story to his kids. The kids figure out that he has feelings for Robin and the story is more or less asking their permission to date her again, which they accept. In the end, it's Ted and Robin.
  • The season 4 finale of iCarly ends with Sam kissing Freddie, which makes a Carly/Freddie/Sam All Love Is Unrequited Love Triangle canon for now.
    • In the season 5 premiere, the sequel to the season 4 finale has Freddie kissing Sam and returning the feelings Sam has for him. However, that didn't last long though.
    • Miranda Cosgrove even hinted at some magazine interviews that there was a love triangle in the show.
  • Lost: Much of the drama of the series involves Kate trying to figure out whether she loves Jack or Sawyer.
    • Further muddled by the inclusion of Juliet, an extra love interest for Jack who gets stuck on the Island with Sawyer after Jack and Kate leave and the Island moves. Finally settled in the Grand Finale where the pairings settle as Jack/Kate and Sawyer/Juliet.
  • The trope has become a game show - GSN's Love Triangle. Wendy Williams hosts the show, designed to chop one branch off the triangle after 30 minutes of somewhat intrusively personal questioning. The show debuted in the spring of 2011 for a first season of 36 episodes. Williams' hammy hosting is one of the many reasons nobody expects a second season.
  • In season six of The Mentalist, we have Jane/Lisbon/Pike, with both guys vying for Lisbon's affection. Jane wins; the series ends with them married and Lisbon pregnant.
  • Merlin (2008) [BBC] has, as in the legends, the Arthur/Gwen/Lancelot love triangle.
    • It's somewhat deconstructed considering Guinevere is legitimately in love with Arthur, and her tryst with Lancelot brought on due to an enchantment.
    • Earlier on, however, Arthur was falling in love with Guinevere at the same time she was falling for Lancelot, until Lancelot vanished from the face of the earth.
  • No Tomorrow: Kareema falls for Sofia, her brother Rohan's fiancée. At first this seems fine, since Sofia says their engagement is just for her to get citizenship. Then Rohan reveals to Kareema that he loves Sofia as well...
  • The Office (US), in one of the most hilarious love triangles ever conceived, with Andy Bernard and Dwight Schrute competing for the affections of Angela Martin. It did lead to accusations of Soaperizing, however.
    • Triangles between Jim Halpert, Pam Beasley, and Roy Anderson... followed by Jim, Pam, and Karen. As well as at least one episode of Jan, Carol, and Michael and another of Andy, Dwight, and Erin. Andy, Dwight, Angela was hardly the first (or last with the newer Dwight, Angela, Isabelle triangle) time that show has used a love triangle.
    • The British version also highlighted the tension between Tim/Dawn/Lee, as well as Rachel/Tim/Dawn.
  • Once Upon a Time has a few of these:
    • There is a lopsided one between Emma, Graham and Regina. It ends when Regina pulled a If I Can't Have You... and crushed Graham's heart, killing him.
    • There was Snow White and Prince Charming loving each other despite the latter's Arranged Marriage to Princess Abigail, as well as their Storybrooke counterparts, Mary Margaret and David Nolan with his wife Kathryn. The former love triangle was resolved with Charming leaving his wedding for Snow and Abigail being reunited with her true love Frederick. The latter's triangle is resolved when Kathryn pulls an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and everyone gets their memories back.
    • In season 2, Prince Phillip and Aurora are each other's true loves but Aurora suspects that Phillip's longtime friend and comrade Mulan might be in love with him too. His untimely death at the wraith leaves this unresolved. But then he's resurrected and it turns out Mulan has feelings for both of them and decided to leave them to save them all the pain.
    • In Season 3, there's one between Emma, Hook, and Neal. Neal is still in love with Emma and hopes to pick up where they left off, while Hook has been developing feelings for her practically from their first meeting. Emma herself loves Neal but doesn't trust him enough to resume their relationship, and is attracted to Hook but isn't sure she wants more than friendship. Therefore, she shuts them both down for the time being so she can focus on rescuing her son. The triangle is resolved via Neal dying and Hook and Emma hooking up at the end of Season 3.
    • In Season 4, one arises unexpectedly between Regina, Robin, and a time-traveling Marian. At first it appears Robin/Regina will happen, but a horrible streak of bad luck forces Robin to leave her to look after Marian.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Mind Over Matter", Dr. Sam Stein is in love with his friend and colleague Dr. Rachel Carter but is too shy to admit it. The CAVE system, which Sam created, falls in love with him and becomes jealous of Rachel.
    • In "Mary 25", Melburn Ross is still in love with his old girlfriend Teryl, now the wife of his boss Charlie Bouton who regularly abuses her.
    • In "Donor", there are two. Dr. Renee Stuyvescent is in love with her colleague Dr. Peter Halstead but he does not return her feelings. He later becomes attracted to Deirdre Laird, the widow of his full body transplant donor Timothy Laird, and Renee tries to kill Deirdre. Similar to Renee's situation, her assistant Dr. Vance Ridout is in love with her but she doesn't feel anything for him.
    • In "Starcrossed", Michael Ryan is the former lover of Cass Trenton, who is married to Winston Meyerburg, emulating the Casablanca love triangle involving Rick Blaine, Ilsa Lund and Victor Laszlo. The major difference is that in "Starcrossed" Cass never returned for Michael because she thought that he had been killed by the Hing and subsequently married Winston while in Casablanca Ilsa never returned for Rick because she found out that Victor, to whom she was already married, was still alive.
    • In "Seeds of Destruction", Linda Andrews is married to Rex and is having an affair with Harold Zimmer, her old high school boyfriend. The two men work together at MacroSeed.
  • Jeff and Marty over Jeannie in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (both versions), Marty has one advantage of being Jeannie's husband (or fiancé in the newer series) but one huge disadvantage in being dead and invisible to Jeannie.
  • In BBC's Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne and Robin Hood are both infatuated with Marian, who loves Robin but cannot have him because he’s an outlaw. Marian also is obligated to marry Gisborne in order to save King Richard’s life, and is genuinely on-again-off-again sympathetic towards him despite his villain status. The triangle gets resolved in the series 2 finale when Marian finally tells Gisborne that she loves Robin Hood and intends to marry him, and Gisborne kills her.
  • Rookie Blue loves this one. Lets see: Sam/Andy/Luke, Dov/Gail/Chris, Andy/Luke/Jo, Traci/Jerry/Dex...that's every single one of the rookies in one at some point over two seasons.
  • Salem: Mary Sibley and Anne Hale both have feelings for John Alden. It gets downplayed later in the season as Anne has her own witch powers to come to terms with.
  • The Secret Circle: Type 10. Adam is in a relationship with Diana, but has Unresolved Sexual Tension with Cassie. Diana breaks up with him in "Wake" because of it.
    • Also, there was a love triangle between Adam/Cassie/Jake later on in the season.
  • Appeared to be the case in ShougekiGouraigan, between the Protagonist Gou, his Evil Former Friend Jin, and their mutual love interest, Rin. Flashbacks initially seem to hint that Rin genuinely loves Gou and Jin is deliberately convincing himself he and Rin were in love, but when Rin returns it turns out she really is in love with Jin, sending Gou into a Heroic BSoD.
  • Sophie, Paul, and Megan in the third season of Slings & Arrows are a textbook love triangle. In the show's backstory, Oliver, Ellen, and Geoffrey have a more complicated (type 12) relationship.
  • Stargate:
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Fascination" has two parallel love triangles pop up temporarily due to Lwaxana Troi's Power Incontinence (It Makes Sense in Context). Jake Sisko develops a crush on Kira, who starts making out with Julian. Meanwhile Kira's boyfriend Bareil goes after Jadzia, who wants Ben Sisko.
  • The finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation has a Worf/Deanna Troi/Riker love triangle happen in the alternate reality. It's much of the reason why Worf and Riker were barely on speaking terms in the alternate reality.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Family Feud", there are several related, increasingly complicated examples. Clancy Williams is Dr. Morrison's ex-girlfriend. Fiscus was briefly engaged to a surgical nurse named Mona Polito. The engagement was called off but Fiscus still has feelings for Mona and wants to give it another go. Clancy wants to pursue a relationship with him as she had fun when the two of them went for pizza with Pete in the previous episode "Family Ties". In the meantime, Morrison wants to get back together with Clancy but Mona invites him on a date. Things come to a head at Morrison's birthday party when everyone changes their mind so that Mona wants to be with Fiscus, who wants to be Clancy, who wants to be with Morrison, who wants to be with Mona. For his part, Ehrlich wants Mona to be with Clancy. In the next episode "Family Affair", Fiscus and Clancy go out on a date. In bed that night, Clancy admits that she was serious about dating Morrison again but realised that things would never work out between them as she thought of him more as a brother.
  • The Steve Harvey Show had Steve, Regina, and Warrington Steele (Regina's college boyfriend who is a big Jerk Jock).
  • Stingray (1964): Atlanta Shore is in love with Troy Tempest, but in the pilot episode Troy meets and goes all dewey-eyed over Cute Mute Marina. This is such a key part of the show that it's even lampshaded in the closing titles.
  • Supergirl (2015) has established one between Kara/Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen and Winn. In an unusual case, all three remain close friends despite all being aware of the situation, though the series has so far shown Kara to be more interested, romantically, in Olsen. Olsen - who is also involved with Lucy Lane - and Winn have even been shown commiserating over the situation a few times, but so far the triangle hasn't impacted their ability to work as a team.
  • Third Watch: Bobby Caffey is in love with his colleague Kim Zambrano... who is still in love with her ex-husband Jimmy Doherty.
  • The three-season long back and forth between Telema, Kwame, and Soji in Tinsel. Then there was also Angela/Reginald/Amaka, then Reginald/Amaka/Sunom before Sunom killed Reginald.
    • And in Season 5, Telema/Soji/Bimpe.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Stefan and Damon compete for Elena (because she looks like Katherine, a woman whom they both used to be in love with).
    • There are lots of other triangles in the show as well, but most importantly as of the second season both of Elena's best friends also have love triangles of their own.
  • In AMC's The Walking Dead, there is a type 4 between Shane Walsh/Lori Grimes/Rick Grimes — now that Lori's husband whom Shane and Lori thought was dead has returned and the affair with Shane ended.


Top

Example of:

/

Feedback