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Super Couple

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No, it isn't what would happen if Superman and Supergirl hooked up. The supercouple describes those pairings which intrigue and fascinate 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 80s and early 90s a resurgence of the formula began to gain steam for a new generation in the mid-90s and early 00s, 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 favorite supercouples getting married for the fourth time and knew 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.


Examples:

  • 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. Though Bold and the Beautiful's Ridge and Brooke would top it with a fifth, the ratio to longevity compared to the two, Cliff and Nina ran from 1979-1989 while Brooke and Ridge started with the premier of B&B and are still going, makes Cliff and Nina top.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • Its most famous pairing would be Victor and Nikki, forming a modern day Pygmalion, that is usually thought to be one of the three, alongside Luke and Laura and Bo and Hope, greatest love stories in daytime history, and the only one still going on as of 2020.
  • Santa Barbara: Eden and Cruz, which became one of the most remembered facts of the soap.
  • Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts on The O.C.
  • Another gay super couple from Hollyoaks (it's 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.
  • 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.
      • Marshall and Lily as well.
  • 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).
    • The main couples of the Legion of Super-Heroes (Lightning Lad/Saturn Girl, Supergirl/Brainiac-5...) date back to the early 60s and are immensely popular among the Legion fandom. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl's relationship was first hinted in 1962 and they have been married since 1978.
    • 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 longest and enduring Superhero Marriages of all time.
    • 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.
    • Also Marvel's Rictor and ShatterStar have gained a massive following, being one of the first gay super hero couples in comic books.
  • Nintendo has two: Mario/Princess Peach and Link/Princess Zelda, the most iconic romances in gaming. Which is ironic as, canonically, few entries in their respective series actually show either couple as being romantically involved. Mario and Peach are certainly on good terms, and the plumber regularly gets a Smooch of Victory, but one major installment actually ends with her rejecting an attempted proposal. Meanwhile, the number of Zelda games where versions of Link and Zelda have an explicitly romantic relationship can be counted on two thumbs. Regardless, they are far and away the most popular pairings in their respective fandoms, with the only credible rival to Link/Zelda being Link/Midna (which was present in only one game anyway).
  • DC has 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, two earths and outlasted death itself. Their romance becoming so popular and iconic, that their long built up wedding will be a highlight and catalyst to the massive Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Earth-X, the promo comic style poster for the event featuring the two upfront and center. Supercouple, indeed.
Russell: ...if you don't have representation, which as a lesbian you don't, then to be on primetime television and to see yourself is... occasion to hang out the bunting, light a sparkler, and shout 'Hurrah! At last!'"
  • Aris and Temo (or Aristemo) are the most famous same-sex couple in Mexico. Their story began on the telenovela Mi marido tiene más familia, where they quickly became a Fan-Preferred Couple and got together; they became so popular that they actually ended up getting their own spin-off series, El corazón nunca se equivoca.

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