No, it’s not Valentine’s Day, or an anniversary, or anything like that. Sometimes you just feel like loving love with no occasion to prompt it (although in this case, I reread the Hunger Games over the weekend, and wanted to write about it somehow without having to write a book review or a movie preview, and last night was the finale of The Bachelor). Today I want to honour some of my all-time favourite fictional couples. It was tough to choose a top five, but I based my choices off of the ones I had the most emotional reaction to, the ones that I felt did the best job with buildup and longevity, and the ones that I have, once loyal to them, never wavered from, no matter what the circumstances.
- Ned and Nancy, Nancy Drew (Books, TV shows, movies, computer games):
Nancy Drew has been a role model for girls worldwide for almost 100 years now. She is a strong, clever, determined girl/woman (depending on which of the many series you are consulting), and what kick-ass woman doesn’t deserve a wonderful guy? Ned Nickerson is shown over the years to be nothing but kind and supportive to his world-traveler girlfriend, and he has his own passions in addition to his willingness to help out Nancy. It’s nice to see them (for the most part) being a consistently strong couple through hundreds of books, various movie and TV incarnations, and even in two dozen videogames. Everytime I play as Nancy, it makes me smile to hear the support but hint of concern in Ned’s voice when I call him for a hint. For me, Ned and Nancy are, and always will be, an adorable couple.
- Ash and Misty, Pokémon (Videogames, cartoons, comics):
No, they’re not a real couple. Yes, they have been stuck being like 10 years old for the past decade. But they’re just so fun to watch! There is obvious tension between these two characters – the way they frustrate each other more than other characters do (for stupid reasons), the way they stare at each other and blush, the way they trail off mid-sentence when people around them assume they are dating… If you aren’t sold, just watch later episodes of the anime show, where Misty is replaced by May, Dawn, and finally Iris. The kind of chemistry just doesn’t exist with Ash and these other girls, and I would totally, at age 23, start watching the show again if Misty were to come back and give me hope that these two would officially unite.
- Katniss and Peeta, The Hunger Games (Books, movies):
Katniss Everdeen is an impressive character. She fights for her life on many occasions and somehow always manages to come out on top. She also fiercely protects the one she loves. And who does she love? Her family and friends are the obvious answers, but above all, there is Peeta Mellark, her fellow Hunger Games competitor, the boy with the bread. Even if Katniss’s love triangle had resolved with her choosing her best friend Gale, I would still stand by Peeta as being the right guy for Katniss. I reread The Hunger Games this past weekend, and for me, her feelings for Peeta just jump off of the page. Every time her internal dialogue starts to lead her to the conclusion that she cares for Peeta, she panics and steers away from the thought; this is mostly because she thinks, at the time, that one of them will have to die, but she tends to drag up Gale’s name when she is starting to consider her feelings for Peeta being more than what they seem. For me, these references to Gale always feel contrived. She deliberately tries to think of Gale, with Peeta the thoughts are effortless and she instead has to deliberately suppress them. Her actions on screen during the Hunger Games, though she insists they are being done to win and to survive, frequently feel spontaneous. These moments are Katniss at her best; they are Peeta’s kind and gentle nature balancing out the fierce warrior inside of her and giving her a chance at real love.
- Rory and Jess, Gilmore Girls (TV show):
Although I also adore the Luke/Lorelai love story on this show, I connected more to bookish daughter Rory growing up, and I also feel like Luke/Lorelai ended on a hopeful note, whereas Rory ended the series having just broken romantic ties with her boyfriend of almost three years, Logan Huntzberger. Rory has three serious boyfriends over seven seasons, and for me, the only one that suits her well is Jess Mariano. I concede that Jess is stubborn, difficult, and even rather insensitive during Season 3 when he and Rory are officially together, but she seems drawn to his spontaneous bad boy nature as well as his intelligent, well-read side. However, it is the glimpses of Jess scattered throughout the remainder of the series that convince me Jess is the one. Jess has more growth than most of the characters we see on the show; when he returns, he is no longer the high-school dropout who ran away from home, but is instead settled into a life working at a bookstore, taking college classes, and establishing himself as a published author. He is shocked to find that Rory’s life has spiraled out of control, and he is the one who reminds her of all that she has done for him, in turn inspiring her to get back on track and to chase after her dreams without letting anyone else drag her down. There are rumours that a Gilmore Girlsmovie may still be in the works; I sincerely hope that if this is the case, we will get a chance to see Rory and Jess reunite as a matured couple, both achieving their dreams whilst bringing balance and love to each other’s lives.
- Rachel and Tobias, Animorphs (Books, TV shows):
Like The Hunger Games, Animorphsis a YA series set in the middle of a war. Perhaps the backdrop of war is what makes the emotions in these series so strong. Throughout all sixty or so books, there is one connection that intrigues me over and over again – that of popular, brave, rash Rachel, and soul-searching, outsider orphan Tobias. Tobias seems enchanted by Rachel from the offset, and she quickly seems to be drawn to him, too – they are opposites, but their loyalty to each other and their cause never wavers. It is this aspect of Rachel and Tobias, this desire to protect others while still caring deeply for each other, that makes them stand out above the other characters of the series. Through all of their hardships, they are the two that never give up, and who never let their feelings for each other interfere in their fight against the alien invaders on Earth. Rachel and Tobias also get this final nod because the ending of their story is so gutwrenching: Rachel dies in one final act of bravery, trying to end the war, and later on we see Tobias being granted the right to fly away with her ashes, to protect her memory forevermore. This final image of Tobias, back to being the loner, lost without Rachel, makes them one of the most unforgettable YA couples of all time, and keeps them on my list of favourites years after the last time I picked up a book from the series.
Toad and Toadette, Mario (videogames)
Sawyer and Juliet, LOST (TV show)
Harry and Ginny, Harry Potter (Books and movies)