It’s one of the most quintessential love triangles of all time: Brenda (Shannen Doherty) was the new girl in town who fell for the impossibly cool Dylan (Luke Perry), who later cheated on her with her BFF and popular girl Kelly (Jennie Garth). This one really stung because it presented the idea that your best friend could betray you. It’s hard not to feel for Brenda, who, on her way to Paris, watched wistfully as sparks flew between the two people closest to her. And after 10 seasons and a spinoff, there’s still no resolution to this triangle.
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Jane, Michael, and Rafael (Jane the Virgin)
Part of what makes Jane the Virgin so brilliant is how easily viewers can relate to Jane (Gina Rodriguez). And it’s easy to see why she loves both Michael (Brett Dier), the husband who understands her better than anyone, and Rafael (Justin Baldoni), the baby daddy who has changed his life for her. That’s also what makes this love story so painful, and now that Michael is back from the dead, it further complicates things for Jane and for us.
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Rory, Jess, and Dean (Gilmore Girls)
Who can’t relate to Rory (Alexis Bledel) for wanting to break free from a dependable relationship with Dean (Jared Padalecki) and feeling enticed by witty bad boy Jess (Milo Ventimiglia)? It’s an understandable predicament for a teenage girl, especially one who is looking for some rebellion. At the end of Gilmore Girls, Rory doesn’t end up with either, but this triangle represented something so honest about how we can’t help who we fall in love with.
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Lucas, Brooke, and Peyton (One Tree Hill)
If we’re being honest, Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) was a blundering idiot throughout One Tree Hill’s run, and his indecisiveness regarding Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) made him even more insufferable. But the earnest teen drama made it easy to invest in because of the female BFFs. Their shared love for the same boy nearly destroyed their friendship, but what they learned is that, with or without him, they’re both strong-willed and resilient women.
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Spike, Buffy, and Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
This may not have been your traditional love triangle, as Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had romances with Spike (James Marsters) and Angel (David Boreanaz) at different points in her life, but both relationships were well-developed and deeply formative for our girl. It’s still hard to choose between the brooding Angel and amusing Spike, but that’s why it’s so good!
Fitz, Olivia, and Jake (Scandal)
The heated debate over which man was more suited for Olivia (Kerry Washington) could go on forever, as did the constant back and forth between the two couples. It was especially frustrating given that each character grew less and less unsympathetic over time. But, one thing was clear: Olivia had smoldering chemistry with both Fitz and Jake, making it difficult to look away.
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Damon, Elena, and Stefan (The Vampire Diaries)
There’s something about the forbidden fruit in this particular triangle that made it so appealing. A human Elena (Nina Dobrev) is caught between vampire brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder), who are two sides of the same coin. On one hand, she had a soulful love with Stefan, and on the other, a chaotic but undeniable romance with Damon. Seeing Elena try to deny her feelings for Damon is what made the triangle so engrossing to watch.
Aiden, Carrie, and Big (Sex and the City)
Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) had it all — the best group of friends, a fabulous wardrobe, and an exciting life in New York City. But she also had a really messy love life. Carrie’s push and pull with Big (Chris Noth) and Aiden (John Corbett) gave us the allure of unpredictability versus something comfortable. It turned out that, while both men might not have been perfect for Carrie, it was ultimately Big who she wanted, and we rooted for her to get that.
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Luke, Lorelai, and Christopher (Gilmore Girls)
Luke (Scott Patterson) and Christopher (David Sutcliffe) represented drastically different ideals in Loralei’s (Lauren Graham) life. One held the promise of a stable future, while the other spoke to her in a language rooted in nostalgia. Both men understood Lorelei in different ways, but in the end, she chose the one who didn’t repeatedly disappoint her and her daughter — Luke.
Felicity, Ben, and Noel (Felicity)
Felicity was about one college woman’s quest to find herself, and the relationships she developed with Noel (Scott Foley) and Ben (Scott Speedman) played a huge role in that journey. Like Felicity (Keri Russell), we saw the pros and cons of both — Noel was clingy but passionate, and Ben was immature but sweet. In the end, Felicity opted for Ben, the boy she moved to NYC for.
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Eric, Sookie, and Bill (True Blood)
True Bloods’ vampire triangle was sexy, dangerous, and filled with high stakes. Sookie (Anna Paquin) having to choose between Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) meant exploring different versions of herself. We watched as she evolved from a more innocent girl to someone self-assured and confident woman. And in the end, tragedy struck and Sookie didn’t have a happy ending with either guy.
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Jack, Kate, and Sawyer (Lost)
For the most part, we were stunned that Kate (Evangeline Lilly) would want to be with anyone other than bad boy Sawyer (Josh Holloway). Case in point: Their hook up in the cage. But on some level, we also understood the deep connection she had with do-gooder Jack (Matthew Fox), which is why she eventually ended up with him.
Is it possible to be in love with two people at once? If we’re going off of what we see on television, then yes!
The love triangle is such a go-to for TV writers because it always manages to get viewers as deeply involved as the character caught in the middle, struggling to make a decision. And these stories really know how to get audiences to understand the appeal of both pairings.
Plus, nothing riles a fandom up like a begrudging ship war! Click through the gallery above to see the triangles that have had fans choosing sides for years.