Here are ten of our favorite fictional TV couples whose love inspired us, devastated us and just generally gave us all the feels in 2017.
Magnus Bane x Alec Lightwood — Shadowhunters
Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood garnered not only a ton of attention and love from fans, but recognition from organizations such as GLAAD. The couple, a Warlock and a Shadowhunter, were put through the ringer this season. Season 2 afforded the couple plenty of firsts — first date, first night together, first fight, first break up, first make up. But it also pitted them against the prejudices of both downworlders and Shadowhunters. The two not only overcame a ton of obstacles, but they did so as an integral part of the story. Their relationship was treated with as much attention and respect as any of the other couples on the show. For that, shippers of the canon relationship were rewarded with an onscreen romance that will only grow stronger in 2018!
By Brittany Lovely — @britlovely237
Emma Swan x Killian Jones– Once Upon a Time
Whoa, 2017 was a huge year for Captain Swan shippers. At the close of season 6, fans were treated to a musical episode that ended with the wedding of Emma Swan and Killian Jones. Finally, after bouts with darkness and plenty of curses, the couple opened their hearts to embrace love and light. But then, after the season ended, Jennifer Morrison announced that she would return for one final episode in season 7. In the second episode, Emma Swan and the real Killian Jones said farewell to Once Upon a Time for good. With a baby on the way, Emma and Killian returned to Storybrooke and a new alternate-universe Hook stayed on to give Colin O’Donoghue a new story to tease out. And while we may never see Emma again, at least fans received the gift of know that Captain Swan is living out their happily ever after.
By Brittany Lovely — @britlovely237
Iris West x Barry Allen — The Flash
2017 was a year of extremely high highs and extremely low lows for Barry Allen and Iris West, the so-called gold standard of romances in the Arrowverse. Fans were treated to a gorgeous musical proposal from Barry (one that would be echoed in the aborted wedding the next season) as well as a wedding that brought friends from various times and Earths to celebrate. However, Iris’s fate was up in the air during the spring as Barry believed he saw Savitar (who turned out to be a time remnant of himself) murder her, Barry spent six months in the Speed Force and their wedding was interrupted by the invasion of Nazis from Earth-X. But their love brought them through all the lows.
With Iris’s death averted, Barry returned from the Speed Force and the Earth-X Nazis defeated, Barry and Iris were wedded in an intimate ceremony by longtime friend John Diggle with beautifully romantic vows. Even Olicity jumping into for a double marriage at the last moment (which Iris hilariously lampshaded) cannot dim the love shared by Barry Allen and Iris West. After all, together they are the Flash.
By Caitlin Kelly — @purplehrdwonder
Frank Castle x Karen Page — The Punisher
I went into The Punisher expecting great action sequences, plenty of violence and A+ acting from Jon Bernthal. I definitely got all that. What I didn’t quite expect to get was a slow burn Kastle romance with scenes that seemed to be pulled directly from all my favorite fanfics. But, damn, am I glad I got that.
Interspersed between scenes of Frank’s angst-filled and bloody mission of vengeance are quieter moments of tenderness and affection between him and Karen. Although Karen is only featured in four of the thirteen episodes, each of her scenes with Frank — even just scenes where the two are talking on the phone to one another — are charged with emotion and chemistry. These two are able to be, at turns, brutally honest and warmly affectionate with one another — oftentimes in the same scene. Their arc this season began with Frank giving Karen flowers and a gently swaying hug in the middle of Karen’s apartment, and ended with an emotional, wordless exchange in an elevator that seemed ripped directly from my dreams. Bring on season two!
By Lelanie Seyffer — @lelaniecypher
Oliver Queen x Felicity Smoak — Arrow
After several seasons of an on-again off-again relationship, Oliver and Felicity finally reunited permanently in Arrow’s sixth season. Oliver’s continuing maturation allowed Felicity to move past her issues with Oliver’s sometimes tenuous relationship with the truth while Oliver, now the mayor of Star City, realized he wanted Felicity to be in his son’s life forever. The pair worked through their baggage and Felicity’s fear of getting married to officially tie the knot alongside fellow power couple WestAllen.
Conflict still remains ahead for the couple; Oliver has been indicted for the crimes he committed as the Green Arrow and the group of villains working for Cayden James (who Felicity helped free from A.R.G.U.S.) present increasing danger for Team Arrow, but Oliver and Felicity will face any trouble together, a unified front held together by their mutual love and respect.
By Caitlin Kelly — @purplehrdwonder
Jim Hopper x Joyce Byers — Stranger Things
Stranger Things is best known for its young actors and teen storylines — and for good reason. The first season belongs to relationship between Finn Wolfhard’s Mike Wheeler and Millie Bobbie Brown’s Eleven, while the second had us all talking about Noah Schnapp’s scenes as possessed Will Byers and Joe Keery as the Hawkins’ most exhausted babysitter, Steve Harrington.
However, among all these young actors and teen storylines is the slow, steady and captivating dynamic between David Harbour’s Jim Hopper and Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers. Right from the start of the season, you were able to see just how much these two both depended on each other and how far their history with one another stretched. We saw how Hopper essentially operated as a father-figure to Will, and the way that the two always came to each other’s rescue. This season showed us that Hopper and Joyce had history, chemistry and, as Murray described it, the real shit — shared trauma. I only hope that the Duffer brothers make our — and David Harbour’s — dreams come true and finally make Jopper canon in season three.
By Lelanie Seyffer — @lelaniecypher
Marcus Kane x Abby Griffin — The 100
Even though Kane and Abby spent a lot of the season apart, the scenes that they had together were some of the most emotional and impactful of the season. After three seasons of moving from enemies to allies to friends to romantic interests, these two finally crossed over into being the lovers and soulmates those of us shippers have hoped to see since Kane crawled through that burning maintenance shaft to save Abby back in season one.
Amidst the face-paced teen romances and the even faster-paced plot, we’ve been able to see a slow, strong romance between these two — one built on friendship, trust, mutual respect and long-simmering love. Season four showed just how deeply in love and stable these two are, despite the short amount of time they were able to spend together. We were able to see them as lovers, as partners, as confidantes and as two people who are deeply in love with one another. I can’t wait to see how much stronger and in love they are in season five!
By Lelanie Seyffer — @lelaniecypher
Stephanie x Jimmy — Fuller House
I know that DJ and Steve have been the favorite couple on Fuller House, with their nostalgic history, their on-again off-again status, and their love-triangle drama. But there is another Fuller House couple that has completely stolen my heart: Stephanie and Jimmy. While DJ’s love life has been a mess, Stephanie and Jimmy’s relationship has been fun and easy.
This year, they shared some big milestones. When Stephanie finds out that she may be able to have children after all via a surrogate (after learning early on in the series that she could not), the show shares the story of Stephanie and Jimmy finding their own way to have a family.
Jimmy supports Stephanie one hundred percent, and even pulls out the romantic male lead move of getting on a plane to share his feelings. He boards the plane Stephanie is taking to Japan with her family just to tell her that “there is no one who will love you and that baby more that I would.” Jimmy wants to have a family with Stephanie and they decide to try and have a baby together.
Later, once Stephanie has returned from Japan and they’ve taken steps to creating their family, Jimmy promises to be her baby daddy, gives her a ring (that he took from Tommy’s toys), and recites his own vows about co-parenting. These two are a reminder that relationships don’t have to happen in a certain order or consist of certain features. Love is what you decide and a relationship is what you make it.
By Erica Ostergar — @ericajaneo
John Murphy x Emori — The 100
As great as The 100 romances usually are, I’m always weary — with this and every show — of characters, particularly female characters, being introduced into the story specifically to be someone’s love interest. Symptoms of this usually include a) not having significant interactions with anyone but their s/o, b) not having a storyline of their own, and c) being easily disposable once their (main character) love interest needs a quick dose of angst.
There was a time when I worried Emori would suffer this fate. When she was introduced in season 2, it was undeniably for Murphy; her only other human connection, Otan, was killed off, and we only got the briefest cliffsnotes on her backstory as Murphy himself continued to grow and evolve through his relationship with her. Emori herself was a fantastic character, funny and complex and interesting, but did the story have room for her, I wondered?
But whether by design, because of Luisa d’Oliveira’s brilliant performance or because the writers themselves realized what fantastic potential lay within this character, Emori began to grow beyond her relationship with Murphy. Her status as a ‘Frikdreina’ — an outcast because of a radiation-borne deformity — already put her in a unique position as one of the only Grounders subject to a kind of discrimination that otherwise seems largely eradicated, and more and more (albeit subtly) we began to understand how she saw herself and the world around her as a result of this horrible life she’d led.
In season 4, Emori was pushed to the forefront of the story in a remarkable way, and it made her relationship with Murphy stronger and more interesting as a result. As Murphy and Emori committed themselves to each other, becoming each other’s family, it became glaringly obvious that Emori’s self-preservation instincts (while certainly honed) have nothing on her loyalty to those she trusts to extend a similar loyalty to her. We saw it when she was trying to save Murphy in “God Complex,” and again when she wanted to wait for Clarke in “Praimfaya.”
Somehow, the outcast, thieving con-man couple have become one of the most healthy, loving romances on the show, and both Emori and Murphy have developed into complex, individual characters that both compliment and challenge each other.
By Selina Wilken — @SelinaWilken
Dean x Castiel — Supernatural
While this ship is certainly one of the most sensitive and explosive subjects in all of fandom – for some people, it’s sort of hard to enjoy it just for shipping’s sake amidst the cries of Schrodinger’s Queerbait – it cannot be denied that Destiel has had a bumper year. Now that the relationship between Castiel and the Winchesters has been firmly, irrevocably established as unconditional love, the moments dedicated to the “profound bond” between Dean and Cas have involved them using their words to express their feelings more than ever, and it’s like… a lot.
Here’s what Destiel looked like, over the course of the calendar year. In January’s mid-season premiere, Cas broke the brother’s deal with the reaper Billie, killing her to save them, saying that they meant too much to him to lose. This led to an incredible argument between Cas and Dean, which we saw play out in the Castiel-centric episode “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets.” I don’t mean a painful, heartbreaking argument – no, we are talking petty-ass “I will turn this car around” bitching about how SOMEONE shouldn’t make stupid, life-risking decisions and how SOMEONE ELSE should be more thoughtful and appreciative about the devotion being offered. It truly had to be seen to be believed, but of course, as soon as Cas is threatened – or even mildly insulted – by other angels, Dean is right there defending him, hackles up.
This angel, in fact, compares Cas’s relationship with Dean to his own flawed romantic obsession with a human, and repeats the oft-spoken adage that Cas has been corrupted by Dean, expanding on that point to reveal that the reason human-angel relations are forbidden is due not to the danger angels pose to humanity, but that humans pose to angels, going so far as to try and cure Cas of his “human weakness” – Dean – the same way he cured himself of his own. Having faced an external threat that tried to separate them, Cas and Dean put aside their quarrel, acknowledging that it came from worry about what consequences might befall them, due to their care for one another.
A couple of weeks later, Dean starts an episode by calling Cas “devastatingly handsome” and Castiel ends the same episode by telling the Winchesters, on what he thinks is his deathbed, that he loves them for the first time – complete with a singular “I love you,” presumably at Dean, as he gets the reaction shot, followed by a collective “I love all of you,” to the group. Yeah, that happened.
You know what else happened? At some point after that, Dean gave Cas a mixtape. A mixtape. We never see the giving, but we know this because in a much later episode, after he’s been missing for quite a while and Dean has been thinking he’s dead in a ditch – he was literally checking morgue reports – Cas tries to return it, in a gesture implying that he understands the intimacy and doesn’t deserve it. Dean’s response? “It’s a gift. You keep those,” and what follows is another conversation about how worried he’s been and how what’s valued is not what Cas has achieved or failed at, but what his presence in the family means to Dean. So many words being used. So many feelings.
Of course, as Castiel tries to protect the unborn nephilim Jack, he ends up getting killed by Lucifer, and season 12 ended in May with Dean kneeling in shock and grief over his dead body. You’d think that one main character getting killed would mean less ship fodder, not more. WRONG. It was revealed very early on that Cas would be returning to the show, so as season 13 began and Dean entered a state of grief like we’ve never seen before, it wasn’t worrying to think about Cas being dead – instead, it was terrifically exciting, to see Dean openly work through his emotions so boldly, knowing what Dean didn’t know – that Castiel would be back.
Season 13 went out of its way to emphasise that Dean’s reaction to Cas’s death was very different to Sam’s, and the premiere included one of the most intimate ship scenes in the show’s history, as Dean – alone – prepared Castiel’s body for burning, wrapping him and taking time to look at his face, at one moment so overcome that he choked up and had to pause. Cas’s presence, or lack thereof, weighed heavy over the episodes preceding his return, his name exploding out of Dean’s mouth at his darkest moments, in prayers and fights, in taunts from others. Finally, when Dean has gone as low as he can possibly go – killing himself and meeting the new incarnation of Death – and comes through the other side, expressing his grief openly to Sam instead of repressing it, he begs for a win and gets one – he’s narratively rewarded by the universe for his growth as Cas returns, and at the moment Dean gets the call, his face literally passes from darkness into the light.
Following on from this reunion, Dean’s mental state does a complete 180 – in the next episode, “Tombstone,” he’s almost hysterically happy, jiggling with complete elation as Team Free Will 2.0 – himself, Sam, Cas and Jack – pursue a case in a cowboy themed town. This episode is just utterly indulgent, a complete love letter to Destiel shippers – Cas tells Jack, from experience, that Dean is an “angry sleeper, like a bear.” Dean makes Cas wear a cowboy hat. Cas confirms that Dean organises movie nights, and quotes Doc Holliday’s “I’m your huckleberry” line at him, and in response, Dean chokes up while saying how good it is to have Cas back.
More than anything, 2017 saw the growth of Castiel’s value to Dean become an actual plot point of the show, rather than an incidental factor of their friendship. Regardless of how you want to define it, they canonically love each other so damn much – and you can’t ask for more than that!
By Natalie Fisher — @nataliefisher