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Couple Bomb

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For whatever reason, when married couples (or even just couples who are known for being together) make a movie, it rarely works. Who knows why? In some cases, it's public backlash against the couple. Sometimes the couple's Real Life chemistry just doesn't show up on-screen (or it does, and it becomes somewhat unsettling when you realize you're watching an actual couple during a love scene). Sometimes, it's just a Vanity Project with no real direction. In any case, even though Couple Bombs have a track record of not succeeding, they somehow still get made anyway.


Subtrope of Real-Life Relative. Might be related to Creator Couple if the Love Makes You Uncreative trope is factored in. Could also be a result of Yoko Oh No. Should not be confused with Battle Couple.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gigli is probably the most notorious example. Even though Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck weren't married at the time, they were the hot couple, and the movie was significantly rewritten during production to capitalize on their relationship. In a twist which surprised no one, Bennifer called it quits shortly after the movie bombed.
  • Rumors abound that Kevin Smith chopped most of Lopez's scenes out of Jersey Girl to avoid the same fate. It didn't work.
  • Back in the 20s, Hollywood power couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks starred in their only film together - an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. True to the trope's form, it was made while their marriage was falling apart and it was a financial bomb that led to Pickford retiring from acting completely.
  • Overboard (Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn) - though the film has been Vindicated by Cable, mainly from the consensus that Russell and Hawn have strong on-screen chemistry. And unlike virtually every played-straight example of this trope, they've happily been life-partners for nearly forty years.
  • Swept Away, sort of. It starred Madonna and was directed by Guy Ritchie, and was almost universally panned as being terrible, and led to Madonna's declaration that she would never act again.
  • Shanghai Surprise starred Madonna and then-hubby Sean Penn. The original script probably didn't set the world on fire, but the decision to include the couple was a fatal one, on multiple levels. Shooting began in Hong Kong and problems soon arose: the exposure produced by such a hot tabloid couple served as catnip to Chinese gangsters, who sabotaged equipment and even extorted money from Madonna and Penn before they'd allow them back on set. Penn, like clockwork, went berserk every time a paparazzo snapped a picture of him, culminating in an assault charge. Eventually, Penn and Madonna stopped cooperating altogether, causing the budget to balloon as directors and actors were replaced on Penn's decree, and the couple was labeled as poison.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The X-Files, Mulder had a one-night stand with David Duchovny's then-partner. The crew later noted that it was to the detriment of the love scene because there was just no tension between them.
  • Discussed Trope on Friends. Chandler is worried that his actress girlfriend Kathy is cheating on him with her co-star after seeing their steamy sex scene, but Joey assures him that actors that are actually together have no chemistry with their co-star.
    Joey: Look, you guys have seen me in a lot of plays. Have I ever had chemistry on stage?
  • The view of many fans regarding Soap Opera couples that hook up in Real Life at some point. As stated in the page description, love scenes become uncomfortable to view. Conversely, arguments fail to ring true or have any impact on the viewer. And on the handful of occasions where a couple's Real Life breakup coincides with an on-screen one, those arguments get even more painful to watch.
  • Stephen Mangan starred in the short-lived Houdini & Doyle where his wife Louise Delamere played his wife in the show. He commented on how weird it was to film love scenes with his real wife.
    "It's what I imagine dogging feels like..."
  • Discussed on Mystery Science Theater 3000, in the episode "The Loves of Hercules". The movie that week is the second (of four) that Jayne Mansfield made with her then-husband Mickey Hargitay, and the riffers note how little on-screen chemistry the couple has.
    Servo: So, these two are married in real life, and this is how they kiss?
    Crow: She's laying eggs inside of him right now.

  • Cher and Greg Allman released an album together in 1977, Two the Hard Way. It was a spectacular critical and commercial failure, and the tour itself went so badly that Allman fell back into his alcoholism, which Cher cited was the final straw that broke their marriage.


  • Artist Norman Lindsey used his wife Rose as a model in many of his paintings. She was one of his most recognizable models and also helped him with the business side of his art.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • William Daniels and wife Bonnie Bartlett also avert this trope rather spectacularly. They both won Emmys (in the same year) for their work as a married couple, Mark and Ellen Craig, on St. Elsewhere. In Boy Meets World, Mr. Feeny (Daniels) falls for Dean of Pennbrook Lila Bolander (Bartlett), and it's one of the sweetest arcs in the series.
  • How do you get the (sane portion of the) Sherlock fandom to like Mary Morstan? Why, you cast Amanda Abbington, real-life partner of John Watson's actor Martin Freeman. Fans who hated the whole concept of Mary were ultimately won over by their incredibly natural and lovely chemistry, to the point where some have said that only Amanda could have made them like the character.
  • Téa Leoni and Tim Daly's Romance on the Set of Madam Secretary has only enhanced the romantic intimacy and chemistry between Happily Married Official Couple Elizabeth and Henry McCord.
  • John Cleese and Connie Booth acted and wrote together on Fawlty Towers both while they were married and after they divorced, and the show was one of the most popular TV comedies of all time.
  • Primeval's third season featured Ben Miller's real-life wife Belinda Stewart Wilson joining the cast - playing his Arch-Enemy. Although it had a Channel Hop after the season, it stayed on the air for two more years. Hilariously enough producers didn't even realise they were married until Belinda had been cast.
  • Game of Thrones has Jon Snow and Ygritte played by two actors who eventually married, and showcases a brilliant chemistry on-screen.
  • The Walking Dead's tenth season finale "Here’s Negan" has us finally seeing Negan's full backstory, and we get to see his wife Lucille. She's played by Hilarie Burton Morgan, real-life wife of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, by his own request. The brilliant chemistry between the real-life couple successfully carried over to Negan and Lucille. The end result is one of the most well-received episodes in the show's run, receiving a 9.3 rating on IMDB and perfect scores from other critics.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The world of Professional Wrestling is often prone to aversions when real-life couples acknowledge their relationships on screen — because it does add some realism to the pairings.
    • Miss Elizabeth was a manager to her husband Randy Savage and is just as fondly remembered as he is. When they separated in real life, Elizabeth simply left the company.
    • Sable's career exploded in popularity when she was put into a storyline with her real husband Marc Mero. Before she was just a Fanservice valet, but the angle led to her becoming a huge star and resurrecting the women's division. Mero's career didn't do as well, however.
    • Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were initially just a kayfabe couple but became a real one behind the scenes. They kayfabe split up in 2002 and would occasionally tease at revealing the real marriage before they finally did so in the late 2000s. Widely seen as a successful power couple, they are one of the most famous examples in wrestling today.
    • Matt Hardy and Lita acknowledging their real-life relationship didn't affect the popularity or success of Team Xtreme.
    • Natalya Neidhart and Tyson Kidd have been together since they were teenagers and when they were put together in the Hart Dynasty they eventually became tag team champions. In fact, neither did particularly well when the stable was split up, but Tyson enjoyed a second wind in 2014 when they used a storyline that he resented his wife's success - that led to the two forming another tag team. Said team was shaping up to be successful until a neck injury derailed his momentum.
    • John Morrison and Melina's relationship didn't affect MNM being a top tag team.
    • Maryse's career would be a forgotten footnote in WWE history if she hadn't returned in 2016 to become The Miz's manager. She was widely Rescued from the Scrappy Heap and helped guide her husband to the Intercontinental Championship.
    • Brie Bella was seen as the Lesser Star of the Bella Twins until they finally acknowledged her marriage to Daniel Bryan. A storyline where Brie quit in order to save her husband's championship reign led to her main eventing Raw and getting a high profile match against Stephanie (yes the one above) at Summerslam.
    • It took a while for John Cena and Nikki Bella's relationship to be acknowledged - presumably because John was the biggest babyface in the company and Nikki normally played an Alpha Bitch heel. But when it did, it led to the two having a match at WrestleMania.
    • Maria Kanellis earned a lot of respect among smarks when she began managing her husband Mike Bennett. The two even returned to WWE (though Maria had to leave sooner than expected due to a sudden pregnancy).
    • Enzo and Cass were initially a straight example when they added Carmella to their ranks (she was dating Big Cass) - as many fans felt she didn't fit in with their act. However, she was soon Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
    • Booker T finally became a WWE Champion when he had his wife Sharmell Sullivan managing him.
    • Katey Harvey and Phil Boyd rarely acknowledge their relationship in Ireland but have won intergender tag titles abroad.


  • In the world of sports, it's believed that the tendency of Russian and Chinese pairs skaters/ice dancers to marry enhances the beauty of their performances.


    Web Videos 
  • In The Gumdrops boyfriend and girlfriend Robbie and Laura are played by real-life couple Corey Patton and Rebecca Rose Flynn (who have acted alongside each other many times previously). Word of God is that he was unsure about casting a real couple due to this trope, but when Robbie's original actor dropped out, saw it as a sign and gave Corey the part. This results in a very natural chemistry on-screen.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons voice actor Dan Castellaneta and his wife Deb Lacusta have written several Simpsons episodes together.
    • In-Universe, when Homer, Barney, Lenny, and Carl form a barbershop quartet, Barney gets himself a girlfriend (a parody of Yoko Ono.) Barney and his girlfriend, like Lennon and Ono, break off from the group to work on their own projects together. One of them is a recording of her saying "Number Eight," followed by Barney belching into the microphone, over and over again.
  • The official voice actors for Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor, married in 1991. They remained married and kept the roles in virtually ALL Disney productions until their deaths in 2009 (Allwine) and 2019 (Taylor).