Love has always been tricky, and what makes perfect sense to some couples is almost always guaranteed to baffle others. When on TV, that’s even more apparent, thanks to the popularity of the mismatched couple. It’s a television classic, where two people, despite seemingly insurmountable differences, end up being the ones who live happily ever after (or at least until their show needs some ratings-boosting drama). Here’s ten of TV’s best mismatched couples.
Ray and Debra Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Ray and Debra Barone were one of the most popular couples on television, and like many sitcoms, used the two’s opposing character traits for nine seasons worth of comedy and drama. Ray Romano played Ray, a slacking sportswriter who’s inability to take anything seriously became almost pathological in later seasons, while Patricia Heaton played Debra, who was far more serious, detail orientated and proactive. According to Ray Romano, one of the reasons that Patricia Heaton got the part of Debra is because she was the only one willing to kiss him in the audition scenes. The show also played with the visual mismatch of Ray Romano’s average-Joe looks and Patricia Heaton’s movie-star beauty, in a classic visual gag.
Their character’s bickering fueled much of the show’s comedy, with Debra constantly aggravated by Ray’s unhelpful attitude and the constant judgement (and unexpected visits) from her in-laws. However, despite the constant arguing, the two also had their share of touching moments, where they reaffirmed their love for one another.
Peter and Lois Griffin, in Family Guy
Voiced by Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein respectively, Family Guy pairs Peter Griffin, your basic sitcom man-child with his stay at home wife, Lois, who often acts as his voice of reason, albeit one with an addictive personality and a string of ex-lovers (including Bill Clinton and Gene Simmons). The two of them have evolved over the seasons, with Brian becoming more full of himself, and less caring towards his family, and Lois’ narrative focusing less and less on her role as a housewife. However, despite their flaws, the two are portrayed as fond of each other, and very jealous of anyone who might impede on their relationship.
Zoe and Wash in Firefly
Their show may have just passed 10th anniversary of its untimely cancellation, but Zoe and Wash still make people sigh dreamily. Joss Whedon‘s science fiction show depicted a Wild West-style final frontier, humanized by the crew of the titular firefly-class spaceship. Zoe, played by Gina Torres, was the serious, heavily-armed second in command, an old army buddy of the captain, and married to the pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk), who enacted dramas with toy dinosaurs he kept on his console to keep himself entertained, which really tells you all you need to know. While they were definitely an odd couple, their relationship was the strongest romance on the show, simmering in the background while Simon and Kaylee (and Mal and Inara, for that matter), danced nervously around each other.
Homer and Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
Peter Griffin has been accused of being a carbon-copy of Homer Simpson, and this can likely be traced back to the massive influence that the Simpsons have had on pop culture. The Simpsons is the longest running prime-time sitcom in American TV, amassing over five hundred episodes in its twenty-plus years of history. And Homer and Marge, voiced by Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner, are one of the prime examples of the mismatched couple. He’s incredibly lazy, far from the brightest crayon in the box and something of a jerk. Marge, on the other hand, is loving, supportive and dislikes risks. The two work, however, since despite his flaws, Homer’s a fundamentally decent fellow, who loves his family and would (and does, for reasons of comedy) do anything for them, while Marge’s loving support can occasional swerve into over-controlling and will, despite her claims to want a calm life, occasionally help with the antics the family gets into.
Jim and Cheryl, According to Jim
According to Jim tracked the shenanigans of suburban father Jim (James Belushi), and his wife Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith). The show also plays on the old visual gag of average looking guy paired up with stunning woman, which has become a sitcom standby over the decades. Like in other shows, the personalities delineate as such: Jim’s lazy, and would rather sneak around his wife’s rules than outright challenge them, while Cheryl, likes to preserve order and has no trouble arguing with Jim when he tries to worm out of the situation. It’s pretty much your typical sitcom marriage: lots of bickering, but with an underlying love and closeness that makes the sniping funny, rather than sad. In fact many episodes ended with them resolving their arguments and finding a way to ensure both of them were pleased with the result. This resonated with both viewers and critics, giving the show an eight season run, during which they were nominated for four Emmy awards.
Doug and Carrie Heffernan, King of Queens
Kevin James and Leah Remini played the starring couple, Doug and Carrie Heffernan, in King of Queens, which ran from 1998 to 2007. It set itself up to have more going for it than just the bickering of Doug and Carrie, with the pilot moving Doug’s sister and father-in-law into their basement. The show was a hit, with Kevin James being nominated for an Emmy, and the show winning a slew of BMI awards. While Doug and Carrie are (more or less) happily married, his easygoing nature sometimes clashed with her more workaholic tendencies. The two often traded off the role of straight man from episode to episode. When Doug’s impulsiveness gets him into trouble, Carrie was there to temper it, and vice versa, for Carrie’s flexible moral compass, Doug acted as a voice of reason. Despite their troubles, which saw them nearly breaking up for good in the final season, the two ultimately loved each other, making their differences seem far more manageable.
Angela Martin and Dwight Schrute, The Office
The Office was adapted from a UK sitcom of the same name, and grew to be wildly popular with US audiences. While the original draw might have been the humor and the hope of Jim and Pam sorting it out and getting together. But audiences soon found themselves getting interested in another budding relationship, and definitely not the one they expected. Season two saw a secret romance developing between the uptight, serious head of the accounting department Angela Martin (played by Angela Kinsey) and awkward salesman with managerial ambitions Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Their relationship lasted until Dwight euthanized Angela’s sick cat without her permission. Then it got complicated: she was dating Andy, but was still having the occasional quickie with Dwight, but when her and Andy broke up, she seemed to long to rekindle things with Dwight. Later seasons saw Angela agreeing to have a baby with him, in a plot that ended in small claims court, rather than a reconciliation, and with her marrying a senator. But true love will out, and season nine ended with Dwight, in a last-minute change of plans, proposing to Angela.
George Costanza and Susan Ross, Seinfeld
Most of the couples on this list, mismatched though they are, work to stay together, and love each other even if they drive each other up the wall. Not so with Seinfeld’s George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Susan Ross (Heidi Swedberg). Susan and George dated on and off throughout season four, after they met when she approved George and Jerry’s sitcom pilot. The couple reunited in season seven’s premiere, when George proposed and she, for reasons unknown, accepted. George, commitment-phobic on the best days, spent most of his relationship to her trying to break up with her, but too afraid to do it directly. He was saved from having to go through with the wedding by the writers, who killed Susan off by means of toxic glue in the cheap invitation envelopes he’d selected. Her parents, however, suspected something more sinister than stinginess, and dogged George throughout the seasons, ensuring he never inherited any of Susan’s fortune.
Penny and Leonard, The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory rippled the sitcom waters when it first premiered, focusing on the nerdy characters other sitcoms tended to sideline, which is a shame, because as any nerd will tell you, we’re all hilarious (or, at least, we think we’re funny). But the Big Bang Theory put them in the starring roles. And one of the greatest areas for humor- in any genre, with any character- is romance, or at least, the pursuit of it. That angle is covered most famously on the Big Bang Theory by Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and his neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuouco-Sweeting). Leonard was immediately attracted to Penny, who didn’t immediately return his interest. However, despite having vastly different interests, the two started dating at the end of the first season, and then again during the third season, and from seasons five through six, in an on-and-off relationship. While the two seem almost completely different, from their hobbies down to how neat they like their apartment (in a refreshing twist, it’s Penny who’s the messy one), their chemistry has kept fans tuning in.
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett and Jay Pritchett, Modern Family
Modern Family came into being after Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan realized that the stories they were sharing about their families could be the basis of a TV show, and the ensemble dramedy has won a slew of awards, including a Golden Globe and a handful of Emmys. Actress Sofia Vergara has been consistently nominated for a golden globe for her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett. Gloria Delgado-Pritchett’s the May in the May-December marriage between her and Jay Pritchett (played by Ed O’Neill), a relationship that’s become one of the show’s main draws. Where Gloria is passionate and impulsive, Jay is mild-mannered and sensible, leading to the two occasionally clashing. However, despite their differences (both in age and temperament), the two do love each other, and provide a loving home for Gloria’s son Manny and their new baby Fulgencio Joseph.