Ranking the Most Toxic TV Couples of All Time

Viacom / Everett Collection; JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Conflict breeds drama, which is why you often find at least one toxic couple on television these days.

It’s one of the cornerstones of sitcoms, dating all the way back to the days of Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows to contemporary pairings such as Kevin James and Leah Remini.

But some bad romances are more memorable than others, emerging from the now oversaturated sludge of toxic TV romance to stand supreme as the messiest mess of them all.

In the selection below, we trudge through some of the most toxic couples on television of all time, whether they’re live-action or animated, dating or married, or are at odds with each other more than they’re in love.

There’s plenty to choose from, shows like Game of Thrones has several, and the same could be said about shows like Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Check out our selection below and let us know if your favorite toxic couple made our list or not.

Patricia Heaton and Ray Romano in Everybody Loves Raymond

10. Ray and Debora - Everybody Loves Raymond

Dysfunctional relationships and sitcoms go hand in hand, whether you’re talking about Ralph and Alice from The Honeymooners or Doug and Carrie from The King of Queens. However, no couple in the genre got more toxic than Raymond (Ray Romano), and Debora (Patrica Heaton) from Everybody Loves Raymond. Deb can be a raging queen like none other, and Ray can be an insufferable dope who brings the heat on himself half the time. But these reasons are likely to be why they’re such a good match, and what may look toxic to us could be seen as passion to them.

8. Dexter - Jennifer Carpenter, Christian Camargo, 'Truth Be Told' - Season 1
Peter Lovino / Showtime / Everett Collection

9. Deb and Brian Moser - Dexter

Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) had a rough love life up until the very end of Dexter, and what should have tuned us into that never changing was seeing how her relationship in Season 1 ended. Throughout the years, Deb never dated a guy quite as bad as Rudy Cooper (Christian Camargo), A.K.A. Brian Moser, A.K.A. Dexter’s biological brother. Deb was so head-over-heels that she failed to realize Brain was more interested in her half-brother Dexter than he ever was with her. Thus she was destined to never see beyond her own obsession of lov and fall for the wrong types again and again until the finale. Although Lundy was a pretty good guy for her…

7. Degrassi The Next Generation - Craig and Manny toxic TV couple

8. Craig and Manny - Degrassi: The Next Generation

The very inception of their relationship started on a toxic note, showing signs of their future love affair during a very casual and very bad first date. When they eventually became a couple, it was based on a lie since Craig (Jake Epstein) told Manny (Cassie Steele) he was no longer dating his girlfriend, Ashley. From there, it all goes downhill, ending in teen pregnancy and substance abuse.

The Office - Mindy Kaling, BJ Novak in 'Finale' - Season 9, Episode 23
Colleen Hayes / NBC / Everett Collection

7. Kelly and Ryan - The Office

One of the cornerstones of toxic relationships on network television, Kelly (Mindy Kaling) and Ryan (B.J. Novak) put on a clinic on how not to act when you’re a couple. Most toxic couples have at least one redeeming trait to make you want them to be happy together; maybe they have a great dynamic. But Kelly and Ryan defy all logic, and despite constantly breaking up, they can’t seem to get enough of each other.

Mindy Kaling, Chris Messina in 'Decision 2016' - The Mindy Project - Season 5, Episode 1

6. Mindy and Danny - The Mindy Project

As much as audiences shipped them, Mindy (Kaling, again) and Danny (Chris Messina) were too toxic for each other. Danny was very controlling and jealous. He wanted Mindy to stay home and raise their kids. She wanted to be a mom and work and didn’t care it went against his beliefs. Danny would als often criticized her weight and intelligence. Granted, she could be very naive, which made her do foolish things, but it didn’t validate him talking to her like she was below his standard as a result.

Charmed - Alyssa Milano and Julian McMahon - 'Happily Ever After'
Viacom / Everett Collection

5. Phoebe and Cole - Charmed

Despite all the character development Cole (Julian McMahon) had along the way, Cole simply couldn’t stave off his evil nature forever. Cole, who renounced his evil ways to be with Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), was possessed by The Source of All Evil and eventually brought Phoebe over to the dark side before vanquishing him with her own hands. He came back, however, and tried to get Phoebe back, but his attempts were desperate and controlling, which led to him being vanquished once again. Years later, he redeemed himself in her eyes, but it was far too late, and the cost too great.

Orange Is the New Black - Piper and Alex
JoJo Whilden/Netflix

4. Piper and Alex - Orange Is the New Black

You know a romance is toxic when both people have turned each other in to the police at least once. Orange is the New Black’s Alex (Laura Prepon), and Piper (Taylor Schilling) can’t live without each other, so when one goes to jail, they find a way to get the other convicted and thrown into the same penitentiary. Beneath all the false accusations, cheating, jealousy, and psychotic possessiveness, they do love each other, but they show it in all the wrong ways.

Joker and Harley Quin - Batman The Animated Series toxic TV couple
Warner Bros. Animation

3. Harley and the Joker - Batman: The Animated Series

They’re relationship goals for angsty kids who romanticize toxic romance a frequent Spencers or Hot Topic. Harley Quinn (Tara Strong) and Joker (Mark Hamill) became a dynamic duo of their own in Batman: The Animated Series–where the female jester appeared for the very first time. It’s like a relationship that mirrors Stockholm syndrome, with Harley thinking she’s the only one that understands the misunderstood Joker, no matter how many time’s he hurts or disregards her. These days, Harley’s shaken the evil clown to settle down with the lovely Miss Poison Ivy.

You - Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg and Victoria Pedretti as Love Quinn

2. Joe and Love - You

What happens when two psychos fall in love? They try to constantly out-psycho each other to keep their deepest secrets from being discovered.  Joe and Love enable each other’s worst traits–murdering–and aren’t afraid to turn it on each other at a moment’s notice. Joe (Penn Badgley) is obsessed with love, and his girlfriend Love (Victoria Pedretti) is a dark reflection of Joe. The thing about games of life and death, though, is that someone eventually wins (and loses) for good.

Game of Thrones - Cersei and Jamie
Macall B. Polay / HBO

1. Jamie and Cersei - Game of Thrones

Despite the passion, the willingness to do anything for each other, and being the only people in the world that truly matter to one another, the very idea of their being together is wrong and should not be rooted for. Twin sibling incestual couple Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Cersei (Lena Headey) usually miss making these sorts of lists, but we can’t see why. They crippled a boy and caused ruin to the kingdom for their relationship. They emotionally damage each other nearly every time they’re around one another, only cling to one another because they’re all they know, and subtly cause each other’s death, one being unable to live without the other and another selfishly not wanting to die alone. It’s codependency at its finest/worst.