Love Isn't Just for Kids: The 12 Best Parent Ships on TV (PHOTOS)
Jack Rowland/The CW, Katie Yu/The CW
Katie Yu/The CW
Alice Cooper and FP Jones (Riverdale)
“Then leave him… at home.”
— FP asserts that Alice should leave her husband, Hal, in order to come to FP's retirement party from the Serpents.
The word that best sums up FP and Alice’s relationship might be “complicated.” She was married, he’s been in and out of prison, she had his baby as a teenager, he had no idea she was pregnant, and to top it all off, their kids are dating. But their chemistry and history as high school sweethearts makes the possibility of a relationship between the two irresistible — after all, Alice deserves better than the Black Hood.
With Hal in custody, Alice’s love life is freed up for a new, more deserving suitor. FP clearly wanted her to leave him before, and now it seems he’s gotten his wish. The question is, will these two former Serpents get a do-over?
Bill Adama and Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica)
“I laid out the cabin today. It's gonna have an easterly view. You should see the light that we get here. When the sun comes from behind the mountains, it's almost heavenly. It reminds me of you.”
— Bill talks to Laura, at her grave, about the cabin they had planned to build together before her death.
Laura Roslin and Bill Adama’s relationship evolved from enemies, to allies, to friends, to lovers throughout Battlestar Galactica’s four seasons. Every scene the two shared sparked with some kind of powerful emotion; whether white-hot rage, heartwarming compassion, devastating tragedy or love, their chemistry was always apparent.
Happy endings are few and far between on the sci-fi legend, and unfortunately, Roslin and Adama’s isn’t one of them. But their relationship personifies the old adage, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” — and their journey, as well as their musical theme
, is a beautiful tearjerker of a ride. Sine qua non.
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Marcus Kane and Abby Griffin (The 100)
“I couldn’t bear to lose you. I had just gotten you back. The world was ending before our very eyes, and I thought I could weather any storm as long as you were by my side… how could you ever think that I would be able to carry you outside and shut the door? Abby, I’m sorry, but I’m not that strong.”
— Marcus explains why he saved Abby’s life after she told him to let her die in Priamfiya.
Much like Roslin and Adama, Marcus and Abby started out as bitter enemies in the show’s first season — he almost put her out an airlock! — but they slowly grew to understand, trust, and love each other. Their relationship is the longest-lasting out of the show’s many pairings, and for good reason: They’ve known each other for years, they’ve put their partner first time and time again, and they’ve fought for their love in a world that usually leaves relationships strained or shattered. Their belief in each other has kept them together through six years in a hellacious underground bunker.
Granted, the pair are going through a rough patch at the moment — Abby emerged from the bunker with a painkiller addiction, and Marcus slowly lost patience with her promises to quit taking the pills. But it’s a near-certainty that by the end of Season 5, these two will find their way back to each other.
Luke Danes and Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
“I think we should get married.”
— Lorelai comes home from her “Wild”-themed hike and proposes to Luke.
Of all the pairings on this list, Luke and Lorelai’s relationship might be the most tumultuous. They were friends, then they were lovers, then they were engaged, then they broke up, then they were avoiding each other, then they were friends, then they were living together, then they were on the rocks, then they were married. Whew!
But the course of true love never did run smooth, and their relationship proves that even through struggles and exes and the discovery of Luke’s long-lost daughter April, it’s possible to stabilize a love that’s lost its balance.
Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper (Stranger Things)
“We ran! We just ran.”
— Joyce recalls a fond memory of her and Hopper from their high school days.
Joyce and Hopper aren’t together yet (though that certainly isn’t for a lack of advocacy on David Harbour’s part), but that minor detail doesn’t rob their scenes of the intense emotional intimacy present from the moment Hopper sees Joyce in his office at the Hawkins Police Department. Their past is a little murky, given that it hasn’t been established whether the two dated in high school or were simply friends, but one thing is certain: They are emotional anchors for one another in a town where things often get turned upside down.
He nearly got himself killed because he was so dedicated to finding her son, she trusts him implicitly with the details of what happened to Will, they reminisce about their younger years, save each other’s lives and share cigarettes in their old high school parking lot...all the ingredients for a perfect romance. And now, with no one in the way (RIP Bob Newby, superhero), one can’t help but wonder if this ship might set sail in Season 3.
Stef and Lena Adams-Foster (The Fosters)
“Of course I would marry you again today. I am marrying you again today. No matter how hard life gets, or what challenges we face, my love for you has only gotten stronger over this past year. And I know that no matter what happens, it always will.”
— Lena gives her wedding vows as she marries Stef for the second time.
Amid miscarriages, cancer diagnoses, marital troubles, and raising a house of teenagers, there was never a shortage of difficulties for Stef and Lena. There were definitely times when it seemed like things might not work out — and after all, they did divorce in order to keep their house — but thankfully, these two always managed to work through their issues.
And that doesn’t mean there weren’t good times, too. In a touching scene from the show’s fourth season, Stef and Lena remarried, emotionally renewing their vows in the pouring rain.
Madison Clark and Travis Manawa (Fear The Walking Dead)
“I understand what you did. Why you did it. And I’ll understand when you do it again, because you will. You’ll have to. We will have to. And I can face that, if you’re with me.”
— Madison tells Travis she can deal with needing to be ruthless to survive, as long as they’re together.
A striking contrast to Lori and Rick’s fraught, tense union on the original show, Madison and Travis’ relationship lasted and was harmonious for two seasons. Simply put, they were the polar opposite of Carl’s parents: They communicated well, didn’t keep secrets, understood each other and were willing to compromise for the good of their families.
There’s a reason it’s Travis who pulls Madison out of Jeremiah Otto’s undead clutches during her nightmare/hallucination at the end of Season 3, jolting her awake and preventing her from drowning at the dam. They remained deeply in love until Travis’ death, and it was obvious Madison loved him until hers.
Melinda May and Phil Coulson (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD)
“That decision is made with the people who love you. And that’s me. I love you.”
— Melinda, in an attempt to convince Phil to stop recklessly risking his life, tells him she loves him.
It took five whole seasons of sparks, but this slow-burn romance eventually caught flame. SHIELD
danced around Phil and Melinda’s feelings for each other for a pretty long time — he was with other women, then he accidentally fell in love with her Live Model Decoy (long story), she died, he died, they both came back. Even when they weren’t together they were undoubtedly connected, both as leaders of their team and as good friends.
Above all, it’s clear that Phil and Melinda are one another’s closest confidants. Coulson has, time and time again, counted on her to keep some of his darkest secrets, and they have each other’s backs without question. If true friendship is the foundation of a lasting romance, then these two will stay together for the rest of SHIELD
John P. Fleenor/Fox/Universal Television
Raymond Holt and Kevin Cozner (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
“Marriage is a contract, but it's so much more than that. Marriage is love. It's commitment, it's joy, it's understanding, it's patience, it's anger, it's reconciliation, it's everything. It's like oatmeal. It sustains you.”
— Holt’s speech at Gina’s wedding, saying what he wished had been said when he married Kevin.
When Holt married Kevin, he explained, time was of the essence — they weren’t sure how long the legalization of gay marriage was going to last. Fortunately, their inefficient officiant was able to perform the ceremony, and the pair have remained married since. Kevin’s understanding of social graces sands down the sharp edges of Holt’s brusqueness, and he consistently makes the no-nonsense cop smile.
Granted, marriage to a police captain isn’t without its obstacles. Kevin was horrified when Raymond didn’t tell him he’d been “lightly stabbed” by a criminal, and Holt had to send Kevin to a safe house to protect him from a gangster who threatened his life. But at the end of the day, Holt and Kevin are happily living their lives with their dog, Cheddar.
Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (The OC)
“I told you, nothing could keep me away from you.”
— Sandy returns to Kirsten in the pouring rain, and reassures her that he never had an affair with Rebecca.
was mostly about the love lives of the teenagers, but the relationship between Seth’s parents, Kirsten and Sandy, was the longest-lasting, most stable, and best example of genuine love on the show.
Though there was drama — and on The OC
, isn’t drama to be expected? — their marriage remained intact despite differing political views, strained relationships with their respective in-laws, stints in rehab, and flirts with former flames. They proved that, although no relationship is truly perfect, a little work -— and a lot of love — goes a long way.
Tami and Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
“Well, you're gonna win. Or you're gonna lose. Either way, the sun's gonna come up the next morning.”
— Tami gives her husband a pep talk the night before a big game.
There are a myriad of articles calling the Taylors “relationship goals,” and they are warranted. Throughout the show’s five seasons, Tami and Eric faced challenges both inside and outside of their home, but they made it work, made time for each other, and made sure they stayed together through all the ups and downs of marriage.
Even more swoon-worthy is the actors’ firm insistence that their characters would never fall for someone else, because of how committed they were to each other. "We were like, 'We're never letting the writers have us have an affair,'" Connie Britton explained on the EW Binge podcast last year. "'If they try to do it, we’re not going to do it.'”
Catelyn and Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)
“Love didn't just happen to us. We built it slowly, stone by stone, over the years.”
— Catelyn talks to her son, Robb, about her marriage with Ned.
Catelyn and Ned Stark are perhaps the most unique pair on this list — their relationship wasn’t founded on love, but rather, necessity. Catelyn was originally arranged to marry Brandon Stark, Ned’s brother, but when he was executed she married Ned — the new Lord of Winterfell. The newly-married Starks didn’t love each other at first, but eventually grew to care for each other, and respect blossomed into mutual devotion and affection.
Catelyn and Ned are well-suited for each other. They care deeply for their children, they make each other laugh, and they believe in loyalty and duty. Things don’t end happily for them (and most things don’t, on Game of Thrones), but it’s clear they were meant to be together.
It's rarely the parents who get the center spot on TV posters or a key role in their show's storylines. At least on programs where teens soak up most of the limelight, those over the age of 35 typically take on the role of supporting kids and getting caught up in their adventures. That or causing problems for them by disapproving of romances or friendships, shutting down parties, and making life harder for the teens.
In that context, oft-overlooked are the storylines and relationships between parental figures, whether married, dating, or simply pining for each other. They might not be as dramatic, tense, or central to the events of the show as the ones between the "kids," but they can sometimes serve as the best example of what a healthy partnership looks like.
After all, marriage can be just as meaningful as dating, that love is more than just a one-night stand, and that second chances can happen at the age of 25 or 52. Check out our favorite ships between "parents" on shows like Riverdale, The 100, Stranger Things and more!
Find out which TV love triangles fans were most torn about over the years!