TV bachelors seem to invariably pop up in most shows. While they are most often seen in comedies–the opposite side of the coin to their male friend who is seeking commitment and marriage–they can also appear in dramas. The bachelor is often characterized as someone who plays the field, dates as many women as possible, refusing to settle down with any of them. However, the bachelor could also just be wholly indifferent to women, finding romance and the dating prospect to be tedious, time consuming, and ultimately unfulfilling. This is not to say that these perpetual TV bachelors do not eventually come to some sort of happy ending, but rather their happy ending does not necessarily look like other characters envisioned happy ending. This list of the top 10 perpetual bachelors on TV range from the chronic womanizer’s to the totally disinterested.
A few spoilers follow about the characters, so be careful.
10. Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
Okay, yes, Barney and Robin eventually marry in the series finale of the long running CBS show. But, like most of America, we’re trying very hard to forget the finale as a whole. Prior to marrying Robin, Barney (played by Neil Patrick Harris) was a total playboy. He used his money, his charm, and his looks to seduce unsuspecting woman into one night stands using an array of strategies and tactics. When Barney and Robin did finally make it down the aisle, it seemed as though wedded bliss couldn’t be too far behind. Too bad that was not the case. Through a series of flashfowards, the audience learns that despite buildup for the popular twosome over years of the show, Barney and Robin divorce after only three years together, the audience barely allowed even the smallest glimpse into their life together. Following his failed marriage, Barney returns to his bachelor womanizing ways until he meets the real love of his life: his daughter, Ellie. If there is any part of the finale we wouldn’t erase it would be Barney holding his daughter for the first time. His tender and moving speech to his little girl was legen—wait for it—dary.
9. Hank Moody (Californication)
Despite his best intentions, Hank Moody can’t seem to give up his hedonistic ways. You could blame it on his artistic temperament—sex, drugs, rock n’ roll. Maybe the constant womanizing helps his creative juice flow, except that the original concept for the series revolves around Moody’s perpetual writers block. His inability to settle down and commit does not make for an overly happy family with his long time and on-again-off-again girlfriend, Karen, and doesn’t help his relationship with his and Karen’s daughter, Becca. His philandering ways even lead to a jail stint in the fourth season. With the final season fast approaching, can Hank ever get over his emotional turmoil and be any kind of family man? Only time will tell.
8. Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
Life on the road does not a family man make. Dean Winchester has been traveling from one end of the country and back again since he was a little boy and his father took up demon hunting, dragging Dean and his brother Sam along for the ride. Dean believes in the family business, often needing to remind Sam that being a hunter is a way of life and there is no other possibility for them. Over the now nine seasons of the CW supernatural show, Dean has had a few relationships including Lisa, Jo, Anna, and Cassie. And all of them failed. You can blame the monsters, the demons, the angels, or the career, but the fact is, Dean doesn’t particularly want to settle down. He’s at his best when he’s behind the wheel of his Impala “Baby” (the real romantic relationship in Dean’s life), finding a case, and killing something evil.
7. Jeff Winger (Community)
Britta or Annie? Over the course of 5 seasons, audiences watched as Jeff tried to seduce Britta, going so far as to start a Spanish study group to win her affection, only to become attracted to his polar opposite in Annie. The “opposites attract” of Annie and Jeff, and the “will they or won’t they” of Jeff and Britta split the fandom, each side having numerous supporters. Jeff vacillates between the two, having chemistry and affection for both ladies. In the series finale, Jeff proposes to Britta and she accepts, though Annie clearly has conflicting feelings about this. However, in the end, Jeff and Britta recognize that their hasty engagement was due in large part to changes in their lives and they call it off. With the cancellation of the show altogether, it looks like Jeff is on his own, still a bachelor.
6. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
Parsing out Sheldon Cooper’s romantic interest and history is a bit more difficult because, like his friends, the audience operates under the assumption that Sheldon is probably asexual. His interest level in any gender, or any sort of sexual encounter, is next to nothing; you’re more likely to find him watching Star Wars or writing a physics paper than going out to a bar for a hook up. Unlike many others on our list, Sheldon isn’t a womanizer or a known philanderer; instead he is simply uninterested in ever having a girlfriend. At the end of season three, he is tricked into meeting Amy Farrah Fowler and the two start up a thoroughly bizarre relationship which mainly consists of never touching, never admitting any sort of feelings for each other, and never referring to each other as girlfriend/boyfriend. While the two do finally decide to become proper girlfriend/boyfriend, it is under a strict contract of what constitutes their relationship. More often than not, Sheldon is happy to just consider Amy the girl he sees for “date night” once a week before he returns to more pressing matters, like comic books.
5. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock)
All that matters, for consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, is the work. Emotions, claims Sherlock, only get in the way and make it harder to deduce and analyze situations and people. If you can remain cold and clinical, then you’re better at your job. And so, after three years, Sherlock (from the BBC series), has had almost no romantic encounters. Sherlock had a brief…something with Irene Adler in the second season, but it was short lived as she had to go on the run for the rest of her life. She is now just known as the “the woman.” His landlady, Mrs. Hudson, is convinced that Sherlock and Dr. John Watson are gay and in love, something John tries to deny fervently. And poor long suffering Molly Hooper is obviously in love with Sherlock, who only remarks that when she’s not wearing lipstick her mouth looks too small. Will Sherlock forever be alone? Probably. He’s come along over three seasons; at first he openly rejects any sort of closeness but it is clear by the end of the third season that John Watson is the most important person in his life and someone for whom he would give up everything. Sometimes happy endings don’t include marriage and kids; sometimes a happy ending is just you and your best friend solving murders together.
4. Sam Malone (Cheers)
Sam is a former relief pitcher, a recovering alcoholic, and the owner of a bar in Boston called Cheers. He’s athletically handsome and therefore attracts quite a bit of attention from ladies. However, Sam does have a code of honor. He will never date a married woman, anyone underage, or anyone who is comatose. Other than that, all women are fair play for Sam. The beloved bartender is a known womanizer who spends most of the 11 seasons flitting from one bedroom to the next. Like many men on this list, he’s perfectly happy with this situation in life. Despite having serious relationships with Diane Chambers and Rebecca Howe, Sam chooses to never marry either of these women. The true love of his life is his bar, and he’ll be there until it closes.
3. Joey Tribbiani (Friends)
Joey is the ultimate good time guy. He’s good looking, goofy, Italian, and an actor to boot. He uses his charm and smile and, of course, his signature, “how you doin’?” to seduce and casually date many woman over the course of the 10 year comedy. Joey had quite a rap sheet, revealing that he slept with a teacher in the 7th grade, had a crazy spring break at the age of 13, and sleeps with many of the interns or extras working with him on shows. While marriage might be alright for his best friend Chandler, Joey prefers the single life where he can eat as many meatball sandwiches as possible without fear of upsetting his significant other.
2. Charlie Harper (Two and Half Men)
Alcohol, drugs, prostitutes, casual sex, and one-night stands make up Charlie Harper’s (played by Charlie Sheen) day-to-day life. He prides himself on never settling down and being the ultimate bachelor with his beachfront apartment and carefree existence. Before Charlie’s death at the end of season 8, he wooed and seduced his way through half of Malibu, having few long-term romantic entanglements. Sometimes, as in the case of his next door neighbor Rose, his one night stands come back to haunt him, but Charlie just lets it roll of his back…and then goes looking for another hook up.
1. Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld)
Over the course of 172 episodes, around 73 women are either seen or alluded to dating stand up comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry will never settle down. Any flaw a woman has, no matter how minor, is grounds for breaking up in his mind. He is openly casual about dating, preferring to not get overly attached. Jerry’s longest relationship, with his best friend Elaine, took place before the events of the series and is only referenced in passing. He may never settle down, but Jerry sure does have a habit of dating women who’s careers take off after appearing on the hit show. Teri Hatcher, Courteney Cox, Debra Messing, Mariska Hargitay and Anna Gunn all appear as Jerry’s girlfriends.