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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 Wikipedia the term was coined in The '80s 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 USA. 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 half 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 villainous husband. 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 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.


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    Comic Books 
  • Both Marvel Comics and DC Comics have one, in the forms of Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson 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/Gwen Stacy is also rather popular, they never became 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 even to people who aren't fans of the genre. DC even based an entire show around their courtship, Smallville built them up similarly (despite originally putting Clark together with Lana Lang, and strong fandom love for Canon Immigrant Chloe Sullivan), and the 2021 series Superman & Lois was a hit with critics and audiences alike (even appealing to people who weren't fans of the Arrowverse beforehand). Meanwhile, most Spider-Man adaptations frequently just use MJ as his love interest (the main exceptions being The Amazing Spider-Man Series using Gwen and the Marvel Cinematic Universe using a character based off MJ).
    • DC also has Batman and Catwoman, to the point they even have a trope named after their relationship. Batman has had many different love interests over the years, but besides Talia, none have come 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 also has Reed Richards and Sue Storm, aka. Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman, which has remained one of the longest and enduring superhero marriages of all time.
    • X-Men has Scott Summers and Jean Grey. While Jean has been paired with Wolverine once in a while and Scott's had other love interests, they always end up back together in one way or another.
      • Scott and Emma Frost are also very popular due to being The X-Couple from 2000 to 2016 since Jean was dead at the time
    • Another beloved Marvel couple is Rictor and Shatterstar due to them being one of the first gay superhero couples in comic books.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Soap Opera Examples:
    • General Hospital:
      • Luke and Laura. While there have been other couples named retroactively, as stated above, they were the Trope Maker and quite easily the most famous example. In fact they were arguably a spinoff of an earlier example, Scotty and Laura. Luke, enlisted by his jealous sister Bobbie to interfere in the Scotty/Laura marriage, had unexpected chemistry with Laura, and the show started focusing on them instead, with Laura going from Luke's employee to his acquaintance rape victim to his faithful sidekick when he incurred the wrath of his mob boss and had to go on the run.
  • 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.
  • Days of Our Lives
    • The long, tortured courtship of Doug and Julie, which prefigured Luke and Laura by also having an unsavory start (Doug was a Con Man paid by Julie's archenemy Susan Martin to romance Julie and break up her marriage, but he ended up In Love with the Mark) and a much-hyped wedding, is sometimes considered the Ur-Example in the genre.
    • 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.
  • Neighbours has Scott and Charlene. Their wedding episode attracted 19.6 million viewers in the UK and was the third most-watched program of that year.
  • Santa Barbara: Eden and Cruz, which became one of the most remembered facts of the soap.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Berenice "Bernie" Wolfe and Serena Campbell of Holby City, who are most notable for becoming easily the most popular pairing in the current era of the show — including drawing in many, many queer women who are just watching for Berena.note  Catherine Russell, who plays Serena, noted:
    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.
  • ER: Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway. Even a quarter of a century later, they remain by far not only the most iconic couple of the show, but one of the most iconic couples of the '90s in general. Their reunion and sendoff in season 6 episode "Such Sweet Sorrow" made headlines.
  • Xena and Gabrielle of Xena: Warrior Princess. Anyone whose ever watched the show knows of Xena and Gabrielle's deep bond, becoming the most popular pairing of the entire series despite the numerous love interests thrown at them, to the point that the show has even admitted that the two of them were soulmates. They are especially beloved by the LGBT community.

    Video Games 
  • Nintendo has two: Mario/Princess Peach and Link/Princess Zelda, the most iconic romances in gaming. This 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. Though to be fair, it wasn’t because Peach doesn’t have a thing for Mario but because he and Bowser were childishly shoving flowers in her face, forcing her to put her foot down. Meanwhile, the number of Zelda games where versions of Link and Zelda have an explicitly romantic relationship can be counted on three 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).
  • The Uncharted series has Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher. Though it's not uncommon for video game protagonists to have their token Love Interest, what particularly set Nate and Elena apart is the strength of their romantic writing, starting with the first installment building Elena as a competent and reliable sidekick throughout the adventure who provides a solid moral compass for Nate, which continues throughout the series while they also have a well-written, multi-game romance arc.