Breakup Therapy: 5 TV Episodes For When the Split Still Stings

Oriana Schwindt

Clockwise from left: Justin Lubin/The WB; Warner Bros./GettyImages; Bill Records/NBC/GettyImages

A bad breakup causes all kinds of pain. We’re here to help you through the grieving process, Kubler-Ross-style, from denial to acceptance.

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Breakup Stage: Denial

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Anne" (Season 3, Episode 1)

Buffy is so traumatized after running her sword through Angel and sending him to Hell -- what a terrible, literal split -- that she flees Sunnydale to live in L.A. and work as a waitress. Eventually, Buffy realizes she can’t outrun her heartbreak and denying her responsibilities as the Slayer won’t help anyone, least of all herself.

Breakup Stage: Anger

The Good Wife, “The Decision Tree” (Season 5, Episode 10)

The end of Will and Alicia’s affair wasn’t just abrupt for viewers; it blindsided poor Will. Then came the betrayal of Alicia’s leaving with his firm’s top clients and setting up her own shop. So it’s easy to see why, when he must examine her on the witness stand during a particularly weird trial, he goes a little nuts in his preparation, imagining all sorts of improbable scenarios where he finally gets to unleash all his hurt. But in the end, that anger doesn’t get him anywhere: He’s outsmarted by his former lover and left with nothing but unspoken invective.

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Breakup Stage: Bargaining

How I Met Your Mother, “The Leap” (Season 4, Episode 24)

In the span of one rough year, Ted loses his job, his fiancee, and his dignity (he gets beaten up by a nanny goat). Let Lily’s poignant advice to Teddy Westside penetrate the shattered remains of your heart: “You’re like that goat with the washcloth. You want it so bad, and every time the world tries to take it away from you, you keep grabbing it. But it’s just a washcloth. Why do you even want it?” And: “You can’t design your life like a building. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to live it, and it’ll design itself.”

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Breakup Stage: Depression

Everwood, “Extra Ordinary” (Season 2, Episode 2)

The death of your boyfriend during surgery performed by the father of your sort-of crush is one of the more traumatizing events one is likely to endure. And so Amy Abbott sinks into a deep depression after Colin’s unsuccessful second brain surgery, one that not even Ephram can pull her out of. In the depths of despair, she turns to alcohol, drugs, and the supersketchy Tommy (The Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley, incidentally). The lesson here: Don’t throw yourself at the nearest drug dealer, no matter how impressive his eyebrows are.

Friday Night Lights Eric and Tami

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Breakup Stage: Acceptance

Friday Night Lights, "Always" (Season 5, Episode 13)

There was no way the FNL powers that be would allow the series to end in a divorce for Eric and Tami, but that didn’t make the couple’s fights about moving to Philadelphia (so Tami could finally get the job she’s always deserved) any less tense. The resolution, wherein Coach pulls his head out of his ass and begs Tami to take him to Philadelphia, shows just how a real relationship should work. Remember: There’s a Coach or Tami out there for everyone.

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