To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best heart-warming/heart-breaking relationships in sci-fi and fantasy.
Buffy and Angel – Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
These two have a lot to answer for. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s subplot about a forbidden human/vampire relationship has spawned a ton of imitators in the shape of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. But what Joss Whedon got that none of the others did was that a soppy, defenceless teenager in love with a vampire isn’t interesting – a super-powered vampire-killing teenager in love with a vampire is.
Love is a many splendored thing: When Angel is magically rendered human they spend one blissful day together in a sun-drenched bed. But it wasn’t to last.
Love bites: Things were all going swimmingly for the couple, until their first night of passion left Angel a soulless killing machine – who Buffy had to send to hell to save the world.
Clark and Lois – Superman
These two have been a romantic institution since the 1930s and are one of fiction’s most enduring couples: The super-powered alien and his ambitious, driven human partner who took on a role beyond that of a mere love interest. They have been stars of comics, films and TV series’, most recently Smallville, which improved immeasurably as soon as Clark dumped Lana and realised that Lois had been the girl for him all along.
Love is a many splendored thing: The moment Lois finds out that Clark is Superman has been told and told again, but retains its power every time.
Love bites: DC have now split up the golden couple and stripped Lois of her knowledge of Clark Kent’s alter-ego – but surely it can’t be long before we get yet another scene of Lois realising the truth.
Han and Leia – Star Wars Original Trilogy
The rough hero and the stubborn princess has been a staple in fiction ever since fairytales started, but the old dynamic was given a new spin back when George Lucas paired up a rebel-leader princess with a petty smuggler. The two of them spent three whole films bickering deliciously – even after they’d got it together.
Love is a many splendored thing: Leia stresses that Han is definitely not a nice man, then kisses him anyway.
Love bites: Snogging your own brother to make a man jealous is taking it a little too far.
Adama and Roslin - Battlestar Galactica
The task of guiding the surviving 12 Colonies to safety fell to an Admiral who was ready to retire and a President who should never have been in power, and whose values and priorities clashed hopelessly. But we all saw the spark there. Audiences rooted more for these two than they ever did for Apollo and Starbuck and when they finally got it on, who wasn’t thrilled for them?
Love is a many splendored thing: Roslin surrenders her Presidency and decides instead to spend her days lying in giggling post-coital bliss in Adama’s bed. Finally, the mismatched couple’s priorities line up.
Love bites: Well, that cancer was always going to come back to bite them in the arse, wasn’t it? Sob.
The Doctor and Rose – Doctor Who
Purists may object to any suggestion of romance in the TARDIS, but when the ever-flirtatious Billie Piper generated some serious chemistry with Christopher Eccleston and later David Tennant, an unspoken love between the two time-travellers became inevitable, even though they never acted on it. But hey, at least now you know what to give the girl who has everything: a clone of yourself.
Love is a many splendored thing: Separated from her Doctor for years on an alternate Earth, Rose claws her way back to him just in time to help save his universe from destruction. Unfortunately, their joyous reunion was cut short by a rogue Dalek.
Love bites: The two say a tearful goodbye at Bad Wolf Bay. Twice.
Zoe and Wash – Firefly/Serenity
Most classic romances tend to be ones where the couple spend pages, hours and even years dancing around each other, falling in love bit by bit. It’s rare that a couple arrive on our screens already happily married – and stay that way. But that’s how the good ship Serenity’s tough first officer and eccentric pilot were, right ‘til the end. You might have been rooting for Mal and Inara, or hoping that Simon would finally notice Kaylee, but Zoe and Wash were the ordinary, devoted couple you loved.
Love is a many splendored thing: Zoe has no trouble choosing between her captain and her husband when the two of them are captured.
Love bites: In one of the cruellest moments in Joss Whedon’s writing career, it turns out that Wash isn’t a leaf on the wind.
Arthur and Guinevere – Merlin
Here’s a couple that have been around for even longer – and in even more incarnations – than Clark and Lois. You might argue that the real key relationship in Merlin is the bromance between Merlin and Arthur, but the relationship between Gwen and Arthur has been a slow burn, leading to some of the most effecting and grown-up storylines in the series’ history as they try to salvage their relationship in the face of huge betrayal.
Love is a many splendored thing: Gwen finally takes her place as Queen Guinevere at the end of series four.
Love bites: Just when you think the series is going to go for a kiddiefied cop-out, Arthur walks in on Gwen and Lancelot in a passionate embrace. That’s got to sting.
Fry and Leela – Futurama
Hopeless slacker Fry and ass-kicking cyclops Leela are one of the most unlikely pairings on this list. Their slow-building relationship is surely proof that if you like someone enough, and pester them often, and find opportunities to occasionally reveal your sweeter, sincere nature, then you will eventually win them over. It just might take quite a few series’ and a cancellation hiatus.
Love is a many splendored thing: Facing death, Leela finally kisses Fry.
Love bites: Leela finally falls in love with Fry only to discover that his new, mature personality is the result of a bad case of worms.
Willow and Tara – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
US network TV has never had a good track record for realistic, subtle gay relationships. Generally speaking, they’re either used for titillation or they just don’t exist. But when Willow fell for fellow wicca Tara there was no sensationalism about it, no clichéd coming-out drama – it was merely portrayed as an organic development in their friendship. As a result, it remains one of the best gay relationships on American TV.
Love is a many splendored thing: When Tara’s turned insane by Glory, Willow stands by her lover and looks after her – until she gets her hands on Glory and kicks her ass, restoring Tara’s mind in the process.
Love bites: “Your shirt” Tara gasps, as blood from the bullet that kills her splatters all over Willow.
Luke Cage and Jessica Jones – Marvel comics
These two are now Power Man and Power Woman, fighting alongside the Avengers and struggling to find childcare for their daughter. But they first got together back when Luke Cage was a Hero for Hire and Jessica was a damaged, hard-drinking private investigator with her own comic. Those early days of Jess and Luke’s messed-up relationship were the best, when a deep friendship and understanding gradually blossomed into something entirely unexpected.
Love is a many splendored thing: Jessica reveals that she wants their unplanned baby “very, very, very much” and Luke’s smile says it all.
Love bites: Jessica betrays her husband to keep her child safe when she signs up for the Superhuman Registration Act.
And now it's over to you - let us know your favourite genre romances in the Comments below or on Twitter @Starburst_Mag