Ah, the love triangle: it’s a technique used all too commonly in TV and film. It’s not always a bad one, either! If a love triangle is done well, the constant ‘will-they-won’t-they’ and ‘WHO WILL THEY CHOOSE??’ drama can keep viewers glued to their screens. After all, who doesn’t love to live vicariously through the romantic exploits of fictional characters?
However, there’s been more than a few occasions where films and TV shows have quite literally lost the plot when it comes to their triangular love affairs. They’ve had viewers with their head in their hands, wishing that the lover in question would just make up their damn mind already. Often, the correct choice of partner is so blindingly obvious that you wonder why and how they’ve ended up in a triangle as horrific as this in the first place. In other cases, both options are so dreadful that you’re praying the protagonist will magically realize their self-worth and just resolve to be single until they find someone worthwhile. We’ve put together a list of the worst love triangles we’ve ever seen. Warning: extreme frustration may follow.
Bella, Edward, and Jacob – Twilight
Oh, god. The hot mess that was the Twilight saga’s main love triangle. Firstly, Bella should have dumped Edward about two days into their relationship once it became clear just how creepy the dude was. He legit broke into her bedroom to watch her sleep! The guy tries to control who she sees by preventing her from being friends with the werewolves! He threatened to kill her on their first date! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but if that cover has “AVOID ME, I AM A WEIRDO” plastered all over it, it might be time to make an exception. Then you have Jacob, who seems sweet enough to begin, but kind of starts filling that “Nice Guy” trope before long. Plus, there’s the whole he’s-actually-a-werewolf-and-could-get-her-killed thing. Seriously, girl. Just be single. Or Mike Newton was a good option, right?
Bella, Jacob, and Renesmee – Twilight
Another bit of relationship weirdness that the Twilight saga serves up on a plate is the very questionable dynamic between Bella, Jacob, and Renesmee (Bella’s really creepy half-vampire daughter, for those not in the know). Even after Bella marries Edward, Jacob seemingly doesn’t get the message and takes it upon himself to make sure she’s safe at all times. Then, after Bella gives birth to the aforementioned really freaky vampire baby, Jacob only goes and ‘Imprints’ on the child. If your Twilight knowledge is rusty, ‘Imprinting’ is an involuntary process in which werewolves realize who their soulmates are. Yep, Jacob’s soulmate is a LITERAL NEWBORN BABY. To give him credit, he does seem a bit perturbed by this and resolves to be nothing more than Renesmee’s ‘best friend’ until she’s over the age of consent. But still. Surely there was a better resolution to Bella and Jacob’s non-relationship than this?
Mary, Matthew, and Lavinia – Downton Abbey
In Season two of everyone’s favorite period drama, lead characters Matthew and Mary did the Edwardian equivalent of “going on a break.” This led to Matthew’s new love interest, Lavinia being thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, Lavinia was possibly the dullest and most pathetic character ever to exist. Everyone knew that she was only there to fill time: Mary and Matthew would end up together eventually. Sure enough, Lavinia popped her clogs in the Spanish Flu Epidemic, and Matthew was free to marry Mary. But did it happen? Of course not. He resolved to be single in honor of Lavinia’s memory. Luckily, he promptly changed his mind in the next season… Lavinia’s pointless existence put off true love for a whole extra season, something made more painful by the fact that Matthew himself *SPOILER* went on to die a year later.
Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom – The Great Gatsby
Being a single woman wasn’t easy in 1920s America, but it’s pretty clear that Daisy Buchanan would’ve been better off if she’d taken that route. She has two main men in her life, the first being her sleazy husband Tom. Tom cheats on his wife with Myrtle, who he then promptly abuses. He flaunts the fact he’s got a mistress, and also holds white supremacist views. All in all, he’s not a great guy. On the other hand, you have Gatsby, who’s a total weirdo in a completely different way. He pines after Daisy for years, holding huge parties in the hope that she shows up to one. When the two do reconnect, he immediately assumes that Daisy wants to be with him. He expects her to live up to his impossible expectations and is disappointed when she inevitably can’t deliver. Neither of these men were worth Daisy’s time and alas, we all know how it ends.
Elena, Damon, and Stefan – The Vampire Diaries
Not to go overboard with the shape metaphors here, but this is one love triangle that went around in circles for far too long. Elena loves Stefan! Now Elena loves Damon! But wait – she’s threatening to go back to Stefan again! Nope, nope, now it’s Damon she loves. It was an engaging plot line to start with, but it got a bit ~much~ pretty quickly. The girl needed to just make her mind up, or the Salvatore brothers needed to realize they were being played and walk away. There was no need for the whole situation to go on for quite as long as it did. Also, Elena should have known from the start that Damon was the right choice. Have you seen Ian Somerhalder?!
Robin, Marion, and Guy of Gisborne – Robin Hood
What started off as a cute historical drama about Robin Hood and his merry men quickly turned into an utter shambles as soon as the romantic pairings were messed with. Everyone knows that Robin Hood is supposed to end up with Maid Marian: it’s enshrined in legend! Initially, that’s the way the show was going: Marian ran away from her forced marriage to Guy of Gisborne to be with Robin. However, season two was when things got a bit weird. Despite her relationship with Robin being strong, Marian starts to wonder whether Guy has genuine feelings for her, thus beginning a pointless (and doomed) love triangle. Marian essentially tries to keep flirtations going with both men and ends up being stabbed to death for her troubles. That’s definitely not how the legend normally ends.
Niles, Daphne, and Mel – Frasier
Niles and Daphne were destined to be together pretty much from the first episode of Frasier. However, there was the small matter of Niles’s wife, Maris, to be dealt with first. Niles leaves the notorious but never-seen Maris in season five after she has an affair with their marriage counselor, seemingly setting the stage for a glorious Niles-Daphne relationship. But no! It took the showrunners TWO MORE SEASONS to get around to it, by which point they’d married Niles off AGAIN to the manipulative Mel, Maris’s former plastic surgeon. Why did they do that? Couldn’t they have just left Niles single while Daphne realized her true feelings for him? It might have been a move intended to shake things up a bit, but this short marriage ended up being more of an annoyance than an ingenious plot twist.
Ron, Hermione, and Lavender – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Ahh yes, the sixth Harry Potter book/film: Harry Potter and the Raging Teenage Hormones. Despite J.K. Rowling claiming that she wishes she’d paired Hermione up with Harry, it was always Ron who was going to be the lucky guy. Harry’s hapless sidekick was the perfect foil for the ultra-smart, ultra-serious Hermione, and their teenage romance was on the cards for a while. So why did J.K. have to complicate things by throwing Lavender Brown into the mix? We’d already had a bit of a Ron-Hermione jealousy subplot when the latter paired up with Viktor Krum in Goblet of Fire. Did we really have to go through all of that again? And Lavender was just SO ANNOYING.
Basically every relationship in Glee
I’m pretty sure the writers of Glee didn’t actually know how to create a relationship that wasn’t triangular. The Finn/Quinn/Rachel dynamic morphed into Finn/Rachel/Jesse, and Mr. Schue/Terri/Emma became Mr. Schue/Emma/Gwyneth Paltrow for some reason. Kurt and Blaine always had a third party hanging around in the background somewhere, one of whom was inexplicably David Karofsky, the former stereotypical homophobic closeted bully of McKinley High. Like, having ONE of these triangles going on might have been a good idea, but having all of them was just exhausting! It was difficult to remember who was dating who! At least Klaine ended up getting married in the end. The writers gave us that.
Katniss, Peeta, and Gale – The Hunger Games
First question here: why was so much time spent on romance in a series that’s about overthrowing the government of a dystopian state? Didn’t these people have bigger things to worry about? Also, why did everything created in the five years after Twilight feel the need to include a love triangle? The late 2000s saw utter triangle overload, and it was pretty wearying. In the case of The Hunger Games, it didn’t help that neither of the romantic options were worth rooting for in the end: Peeta was so wet and boring, and Gale was a terrorist complicit in the death of Katniss’s sister. The ‘Katniss and Peeta lived happily ever after’ ending always seemed like a bit of a cop-out, too. Would they REALLY have gotten together after all of the traumatic stuff they went through? Wouldn’t they have wanted to move on? Who knows.
Caleb, Spencer, and Hanna – Pretty Little Liars
This triangle was definitely a case of “we need to delay Caleb and Hanna’s happily-ever-after to create plot intrigue, so we’re going to inexplicably pair them with other people instead.” For Hanna, they had the good grace to create a new character to act as her shiny new fiance. For Caleb, however, they committed the cardinal (and somewhat bizarre) sin of pairing him with another of the Liars. Seriously, in what world would any close friend decide to shack up with her best friend’s ex and first love? Sure, Spencer was supposed to have issues, but it just would have never happened. It would have made so much more sense to pair Caleb with a random minor character, or someone totally new. The whole Caleb/Spencer thing just reeked of desperation. It was clearly a ploy to ignite debate in the fans, but it mostly just provoked annoyance.
Rebecca, Josh, and Greg – Crazy Ex Girlfriend
Look, we might as well just admit it: JOSH CHAN SUCKS. Sure, Rebecca’s infatuation with him is kind of the premise of the whole show, but it’s just such a stupid pairing! Greg was DEFINITELY the better option. He was smart, funny, super handsome, and genuinely deeply cared for Rebecca. Josh is a bit of a man-child who doesn’t deserve all of the hype that’s placed on him. Greg’s departure in season two was pretty heartbreaking, but at the same time, the character definitely deserved better than Rebecca messing with him. Greg: we miss you, but we respect you for leaving. Josh: you’re an idiot.
The Beast, Belle, and Gaston – Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast may claim to be a cute and romantic tale, but let’s take a step back and look at the facts of the matter. Belle is a highly intelligent and compassionate woman who DEFINITELY doesn’t need a man to survive. Her first romantic option is Gaston, a bullish misogynist who completely ignores all of her strong, smart qualities to focus solely on her good looks. He doesn’t seem to care about consent: Belle IS going to marry him, whether she likes it or not. Then you have the Beast. He has a sweet nature deep down, but he clearly was enough of a dick in the past to get his entire castle and household cursed. He’s also a literal animal. Surely Belle’s best option was checking out, heading off to the library, and leaving these two guys in the dust.
Elinor, Edward, and Lucy – Sense and Sensibility
Back when Hugh Grant was still a floppy-haired, attractive young man, he starred in this Jane Austen adaptation opposite the infinitely wonderful Emma Thompson. He played Edward Ferrars, the charming but somewhat spineless love interest to Thompson’s Elinor Dashwood. Edward courts Elinor and gives her the hope that he might propose to her – but it turns out that he’s already engaged. His fiancee, Lucy Steele, is an annoying social climber who totally knows about Elinor’s feelings for Edward and consequently torments her with anecdotes about her darling fiance. Of course, everything works out in the end, and Elinor and Edward end up married. However, it’s impossible to watch that film without wanting to punch Lucy Steele. Couldn’t there have been another, less irritating way to keep the two central lovers temporarily apart?
Bridget, Mark, and Daniel – Bridget Jones’s Diary/The Edge of Reason
Another Hugh Grant film, another infuriating love triangle. In the first Bridget Jones film, the Bridget/Mark/Daniel situation wasn’t an entirely awful plot line. It was feasible for Bridget to be torn between these two men, even if Grant’s character definitely broke some rules regarding appropriate conduct in the workplace (the miniskirt emails are just so gross). However, it’s the second film that stretches this particular romantic trio to its breaking point. After all of the nonsense that he put her through, why on earth would Bridget let herself be manipulated by Daniel again? The guy cheated on her and lied to her! Why would she trust him in future? Thank god Grant wouldn’t sign up for the third movie – watching this love triangle rumble on for a third film would have been so, so painful.
Ted, Robin, and Barney – How I Met Your Mother
Is anyone actually over the final episode of How I Met Your Mother yet? Will we ever recover from the injustice of it all? The writers took ten years of character development, perfect pairings, and intrigue about the Mother and ruined it all in one short hour. Even before that last episode, Ted trying to muscle in on Barney and Robin’s happiness was a bit gross. The former playboy and the reluctant Canadian actually made an excellent couple, and watching Ted wallow in self-pity about the fact that Robin still didn’t want to be with him was excruciating. However, the fact that Robin and Barney got divorced essentially to allow Ted and Robin to end up together is enough to make even the most patient fan’s blood boil. How dare they. HOW DARE THEY.
Ross, Rachel, and Joey – Friends
Who tf thought this was a good idea? I’ll repeat that: WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Sure, maybe the producers wanted to throw something new into the whole Ross and Rachel dynamic: it was getting a bit stale by season 8. However, did they have to do that by totally ruining Rachel and Joey’s wholesome, heartwarming friendship?! Couldn’t they have just introduced some other random dude for her to date for a while? She was always going to realize that Ross really WAS her lobster… It wasn’t necessary for her to drag Joey into the mess in the process. Saying that, this triangle did give us “The One Where Ross Is Fine,” so I guess it wasn’t ALL bad.