Since television broadcast its first kiss, fans of the medium have been enthralled with the idea of their favorite characters getting involved with one another. As time went on, countless TV shows have focused on the subject of romance entirely, with all the main characters either in committed relationships or attempting desperately to find one. Of course, outside of reality shows, this is all just make-believe crafted by brilliant writers and played out by actors who may or may not actually care about each other in the slightest.
Well, most of the time, anyway. Sometimes, when a person’s job is pretending they’re in love with someone else, to the extent they’ve fake made out (or more) a thousand times plus, the emotions start feeling real. It’s hardly the norm in pop culture, but plenty of TV couples gradually turned into real ones, typically, at least, in part because of how close they were on screen. This isn’t even mentioning the numerous shows that realized this sort of chemistry couldn’t always be faked and thus hired actual husbands and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends to play those roles in fiction as well.
In recent years, fans of these couples on the Internet have gone so far as to designate them OTPs, meaning “One True Pairs”—couples so perfect all humans should aspire to be part of one like them. More than that, fans of the shows hope the producers will never split them up because the results could ruin everything. When a TV couple turns into a real one, fans get their wish, but the results may be a little surprising. Keep reading to learn about 15 TV couples you never knew really dated.
15 Mr. Feeny and Dean Bolander (William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett) From Boy Meets World
When fans of Boy Meets World think about the dating life of the show’s characters, ninety-nine times out of one hundred, their minds will immediately go to Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence--and with good reason. Those two crazy kids really were the dream couple of the show, but they were hardly the only people in Philadelphia falling in love as they wandered through this road that we call life. Shawn eventually found Angela, Eric and Jack fought over Rachel, and even kindly old Mr. Feeny found the woman of his dreams in Dean Lila Bolander. The plot development came late in the show after Feeny started working at Cory’s college, but in some respects, it was a moment the actors had probably been wanting to relive for decades. William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett had been married in real life since 1951, almost 48 full years before their characters tied the knot. The two also portrayed husband and wife doctors Mark and Ellen Craig on the ‘80s drama St. Elsewhere.
14 G.O.B. and Wife of G.O.B. (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) From Arrested Development
Truly creating an infinitely rewatchable program, the creators of Arrested Development put more thought into individual jokes than some writers put into entire seasons of content. While most sitcoms would find it humorous enough to have a character get married to a one-night stand after a series of escalating dares, casting a series regular’s actual wife to play the role of his practical joke wife was a downright inspired move. They weren’t even done there, as G.O.B.’s wife was never actually given a name, allowing G.O.B. himself to dismissively guess her name could be Amy (either Crindy or Usarmy seem far more likely). In reality, her name was indeed Amy, as in Amy Poehler, and she had been the wife of Will Arnett since shortly before Arrested Development went on the air. As G.O.B.’s wife got more airtime, she soon revealed she had no interest in him and was instead in love with his brother-in-law, Tobias. It doesn’t look like dysfunctional families have anything to do with it, but unfortunately, things have similarly gone south for the real couple, as they divorced in 2016.
13 Lindsay and Nick (Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel) From Freaks and Geeks
Recognized as incredibly ahead of its time to this day, Freaks and Geeks shined a spotlight on the type of people who usually don’t get much attention in mainstream primetime TV. Leading the charge was Lindsay Weir, a high school student whose grandmother recently died, causing her to make some major life changes and start hanging out with a more woke crowd than the average Michigan teenager. Included amongst these newfound friends, albeit not exactly “woke,” preferring to spend life high as a kite, was Nick Andopolis. Despite their differences, Nick soon becomes Lindsay’s first boyfriend, for all of three or four episodes before Lindsay’s mom breaks up with him on her behalf. Because Freaks and Geeks was so tragically short-lived, the two never truly resolved their relationship, ending on a semi-cliffhanger when Nick was with a new girl but clearly still had feelings for Lindsay. In real life, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel weren’t so constricted by time, as they started dating during the show’s taping and stayed together another five years after it was canceled.
12 Chase and Cameron (Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison) From House
For the most part, the show House was about the titular character, an irascible and often hilarious misanthrope of a doctor who nonetheless was responsible for saving countless lives. Granted, in doing so, House would regularly run afoul of practically everyone who worked for him or with him, including his subordinate doctors Robert Chase and Allison Cameron. Having to put up with the same jerk boss can often bring people close together, and for Chase and Cameron, it eventually led to a long relationship and a brief marriage. This is almost identical to how things went for Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison, the actors behind the roles--only, their real romance was told in high speed. The two began dating in 2004, the same year House debuted, and Spencer proposed in late 2006. Unfortunately for them, they called the engagement off a year later. Ironically, their onscreen relationship had barely even begun at that point, which must've made future romance scenes pretty darn awkward.
11 Pete and Beth (Vincent Kartheiser and Alexis Bledel) From Mad Men
In many respects, Mad Men’s Pete Campbell, portrayed by Vincent Kartheiser, seems to model his life after the series’ main character, Don Draper. While the two are both successful rising stars in the advertising industry, though Draper is truly a class above Pete, and that goes for his business life and his ability at covering up affairs. Throughout most of the show, Pete is married to Trudy, cheating on her a number of times, most notably with Peggy Olson, but more importantly for us, with another woman named "Beth Dawes." The Dawes relationship ends abruptly when it's revealed she’s suffering from depression and uses electroshock therapy to try and cure it, thus completely losing all memory of her time with Pete. The actors would never forget it, though, as Dawes was played by Alexis Bledel, who soon began dating Kartheiser after meeting him on set. Though their characters didn’t stay together long, Bledel and Kartheiser have since married and have one son.
10 Shawn and Juliet (James Roday and Maggie Lawson) From Psych
Before anyone suggests we know they know we’re not telling the truth, we promise this following entry about the USA Network cult comedy Psych is entirely on the level. The entire premise of the show being that Shawn Spencer is an incredible liar capable of convincing people he’s psychic, it’s easy to question anything to come out of his mouth, which is a pretty huge hurdle for his on again/off again relationship with actual police detective Juliet O’Hara to overcome. In fact, Spencer’s lies are the main reason for that “off again,” as Juliet first hesitates to date him out of suspicion, and then, after they actually start going out, she nearly breaks up with him once she finally learns the truth. There were no such troubles for James Roday and Maggie Lawson behind the scenes, though, as the two actors behind the roles dated pretty much the entire time Psych was on the air. Reports indicate the two broke up pretty much immediately after Psych ended, which makes us a little curious if they’re going to hook up again for real when the movie comes out in December.
9 Kelso and Jackie (Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis) From That ‘70s Show
The timeline is a little fuzzy on this one, and as far as anyone can tell, nothing happened between Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis while That ‘70s Show was still on the air. However, given the flashbacking, time-warping nature of that show, it still feels appropriate to include them on this list. In the late ‘90s through the earlier 2000s, Kutcher and Kunis portrayed Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart, the two most dimwitted high school burnouts in Wisconsin circa 1976. Naturally, their shared lack of intellect brought the two extremely close together, and they dated throughout the show’s first several seasons. Eventually, Jackie learned Kelso was cheating on her and later sparks up flings with his best friends Hyde and Fez. In reality, it wasn’t until six years after the show ended in 2006 that the two got together after Kutcher left a high-profile marriage to Demi Moore and Kunis an equally infamous relationship with Macaulay Culkin. They were married in 2015.
8 Elizabeth and Philip (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) From The Americans
Almost every couple, real or fictional, probably has a few secrets between one another that the rest of the world doesn’t get to hear about. A big part of relationships is trust and being able to bear your soul to your partner. Of all the characters on our list, this fact is most essential to the pairing of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, aka sleeper cell KGB agents Nadezha and Mikhail. Not even their two children know Elizabeth and Philip are actually Soviet spies, nor that the government had arranged their marriage and that the two didn’t actually begin to feel love for one another until years after the kids were born. Not to accuse FX of creating an arranged marriage in its own right, but it was nonetheless a great boon for The American’s verisimilitude that Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who portray the makeshift couple, almost immediately fell in love for real while playing husband and wife on the show. They’ve been dating since shortly into the first season and remain together to this day. Hopefully, the impending 2018 series finale won’t cause them to break up.
7 Charlie and The Waitress (Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis) From It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Truth be told, even after the season 12 finale of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it almost feels gross to call Charlie Kelly and the coffee shop Waitress he’s obsessed with “a couple” in any sense of the expression. More accurately, The Waitress has been victim to Charlie’s stalking for over a decade and has numerous restraining orders to prove it. Still, Charlie would never falter in his devotion, which ultimately proves to be the quality that wins her heart in highly unlikely fashion. In any event, the real hilarity of the situation isn’t that the Waitress’s life was so pathetic that her stalker genuinely seemed like the best option for her, but rather, what had been going on behind the scenes between actors Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis the whole time. While she acted physically repulsed by Charlie onscreen, Ellis had actually been dating the guy since before the show went on the air, and they married between the first two seasons.
6 Alex and Ellen (Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan) From Family Ties
The theme song to Family Ties suggests the Keaton parents have been together for a million years and hope to be together for a million more, but in reality, it was one of their kids who appeared to live out this dream with his beloved. As with everything related to Family Ties, the focus inevitably fell on Michael J. Fox, the effortlessly brilliant comic actor portraying its lead role, the proud young Republican Alex Keaton. For all Alex’s talk about traditional values, his first love interest on the show was an artistic feminist named "Ellen Reed," portrayed by Tracy Pollan. Though fans of the series probably remember his later, longer fling with Courteney Cox’s liberal psych major Lauren Miller, it was the relationship with Reed that had more impact on Fox’s life in the long term. Shortly after their characters broke up, Fox and Pollan began dating for real and got married in 1988, having remained together since.
5 Michael and Carol (Steve Carell and Nancy Walls) From The Office
Not only was The Office amongst the funniest shows ever to hit the airwaves, it was also one of the most heartfelt, and we’re not just talking about Jim and Pam. Every character on the show had a wide capacity for emotion, none more so than Dunder Mifflin’s Regional Manager Michael Scott, who falls in and out of love countless times throughout the show’s run. Prior to finally finding his dream girl in Holly Flax, Michael develops deep feelings for his boss Jan, his realtor Carol, and even a chair model he sees in a magazine one day. In real life, only the woman selling him his condo could inspire such emotions. Way before The Office was even a thing, Steve Carell was Nancy Walls’s improv teacher at Second City. Luckily, comedy schools are more relaxed about teachers dating students than the average academic establishment, as the two soon began dating and later married in 1995. Things didn’t work out between Michael and Carol, but the real-life couple remains happily together to this day.
4 Jon and Ygritte (Kit Harington and Rose Leslie) From Game of Thrones
Winter has come, and thus, the icy political climate of Game of Thrones is bound to stay for as long as the wildly popular fantasy drama stays on the air. Amongst the most popular and wintry characters on the show is Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, who spends much of his life on the outlands guarding Winterfell against the wildlings who live on the other side of The Wall. In performing this duty, Snow runs across a wildling named "Ygritte," who matches his wits and fighting abilities, managing to escape his capture on several occasions. After a number of schemes and plots go slightly wrong on both sides, Jon and Ygritte slowly fall in love, though their respective positions make any romance doomed from the start. Luckily for Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, that’s just for show, as the couple really fell in love while playing these roles. Ygritte’s time on the show ended in 2014, but they’ve remained together off screen and recently became engaged in September 2017.
3 Ron and Tammy II (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally) From Parks & Recreation
Not even The Waitress’s physical revulsion whenever she sees Charlie Kelly comes anywhere near the pure vitriol that comes out of Ron Swanson’s mouth in the presence of the vile, evil she-beast known as Tammy II. Well, half the time, anyway. Whenever the two stop sniping at one another, the raw sexual chemistry between them gets so overwhelming, they can’t hold back the urge to vigorously make out, once kissing so intensely that Ron’s mustache was rubbed off by the friction. Luckily, Leslie Knope and friends were always there to help Ron come to his senses and realize what a monstrous devil Tammy II actually was. Even better, in the real world, Megan Mullally is no such creature and instead is a charming and hilarious woman who's called Nick Offerman her husband since 2003. To be honest, we really don’t want to know if they share quite the same chemistry in real life, but if they do, good for them.
2 Snow White and Prince Charming (Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas) From Once Upon A Time
Alright, so we’re well aware the fairytale-based ABC teen drama Once Upon A Time probably isn’t in line with our target audience, but this one’s literally a love story for the ages. On the day of their wedding, Snow White and Prince Charming are cursed by The Evil Witch and sent away from the Enchanted Forest into the “real world,” ensuring the mean hag will be the only one to experience “a happy ending.” White and Charming also lose all memory of one another, only to slowly remember bits and pieces of their past love as Once Upon a Time progresses. Proving that some fairy tales actually come true, Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas gradually developed feelings for one another outside of the Enchanted Forest that is ABC, as well, starting a relationship shortly after the series hit the air. They were married in 2014 and have remained together since.
1 Roger and Mona (John Slattery and Talia Balsam) From Mad Men
Unlike Pete Campbell, not only does Roger Sterling match Don Draper’s drive for the advertising business, but he’s also perhaps even better at philandering and ruining the lives of his various romantic partners with constant affairs. The first woman to learn this is his long-suffering wife, Mona, who endures the marriage in spite of Roger’s open secret relationship with his head secretary, Joan Holloway. Roger briefly reconnects with Mona after his first heart attack, only to again cheat on her wife a newer, younger secretary named "Jane Siegel." Roger then leaves Mona to make Jane the second Mrs. Sterling, but behind the scenes, John Slattery and Talia Balsam remained as strong as ever. The two married in 1998, and none of the tension between their Mad Men characters seems to have transferred to real life.
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