When two characters in a romantic lead really click it can bring a television show from goodness to greatness. The energy from their connection off screen can be enjoyed by viewers everywhere. The bond is no longer a fictional construct, but instead something that the viewer gets to be "in on."
Chemistry between actors is what has been giving us the real life versions of Sam and Diane, Tony and Angela, and even Jess and Nick romantic tension filled moments for as long as modern programming has been available. People really loved Lucy and Desi Arnaz in part because of the connection they had as a real couple, because they were raising their own children alongside the characters. It made everything that much more relatable.
While an onscreen connection doesn't need to be between people portraying lovers, there’s something a little extra special when it does. The natural spark gives the series a little extra bit of oomph that is hard to put your finger on but is why it’s so great. We all happily know That 70s Show volatile couple Jackie and Kelso, found their way to each other in real life when Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher became an item. The two recently announced they are expecting their second child. Fans of The Big Bang Theory can try to figure out exactly when newlyweds Penny and Leonard were a couple in real life, and when Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco decided to part ways based on how they react to each other in the show.
So what other TV couples mixed business with pleasure and hooked up in real life?
28 Keri Russell & Scott Speedman
The entire premise of the 1998 TV series Felicity is the story of young adult, Felicity Porter (played by Keri Russell), and her life after she impulsively changes the course of her educational pursuits to follow her long term high school crush Ben Covington to university (played by Scott Speedman). While much of the show focuses on the love triangle between Felicity, Ben, and Felicity’s Resident Advisor Noel Crane (who has a mostly unrequited crush on Felicity, but remains there for her as her sounding board) this wasn’t the case when the cameras weren’t rolling. In real life it was all about Keri and Scott, and Scott Foley (Ben) and his onscreen season one girlfriend Hannah (played by Jennifer Garner). Love was in the air on set as Keri Russell and Scott Speedman dated each other during the later seasons of the show and Scott Foley ended up marrying Jennifer Garner during their time on Felicity.
26 Kat Dennings & Nick Zano
In the early seasons of 2 Broke Girls, viewers might remember a brief romance between the tough and sassy Max Black and the muscle bound thick glasses wearing hipster Johnny. There’s a reason that their encounters may have seemed extra spicy; the two were a couple in real life. Kat Dennings and Nick Zano dated beginning in 2011, when they met on her hit show. The two tried to keep their relationship on the down low, but eventually confirmed they were dating publicly in September 2012 when Dennings finally told Glamour magazine, “'Yes! I have nothing to hide! It’s the truth! He’s the best! I didn’t know him before the show.” By October 2014 things had cooled with Zano and Dennings was hitting the red carpet with her crooner boyfriend Josh Groban. The two have been happily dating ever since. Nick Zano has been romantically linked to Amanda Bynes, Haylie Duff, and Kristin Cavallari. He is currently dating Canadian actress Leah Renee.
24 Jason Segel & Linda Cardellini
Fans of the Judd Apatow TV series Freaks and Geeks know that main character Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) agrees to date drummer Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel), even though she isn’t all that crazy about him. It seems like the easiest way to bond with a new set of non-mathlete friends and get closer to her quickly fleeting crush on Daniel Desario (James Franco). She soon finds herself in over her head with the overly emotional, and quick to strip down, Nick, whether she likes it or not. Turns out Segel was much more charming than Nick, as he managed to woo Linda’s affections while they worked on the show. The pair continued dating for a few years after Freaks and Geeks went off the air. When asked in an interview as to whether or not people thought his portrayal of the heartbroken Peter Bretter in the comedy hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a channeling of his break-up with Cardellini, Segel said, "I was still very much a child [then], and this was more an amalgamation of a lot of different relationships and breakups I've had. People are bound to talk, but she was a great girlfriend."
22 Ginnifer Goodwin & Josh Dallas
Many of the actors from the 2011 show Once Upon a Time portray two different characters; the residents of the town Storybrooke and their fairy tale alter egos. Ginnifer Goodwin plays teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard and Snow White, and Josh Dallas plays characters David Nolan and Prince Charming. Sometimes, fairy tales come true in real life. The two actors have a romance that extends beyond their television roles. Prince Charming proposed to Snow White on October 9, 2013, and the two have been together ever since. They have two sons together (Oliver Finlay born in May 2014, and Hugo Wilson born in June 2016). Josh Dallas has nothing but wonderful things to say about working with his fictional and real life partner, “It’s always a great day going to work with Ginnifer Goodwin; she’s a fantastic actress and I learn so much from her.” Here’s hoping they live happily ever after, together.
20 Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer
Both Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer were single when they first met, a few months before they were set to begin filming the first season of the hit series True Blood. When they were reunited three months later, Stephen’s hair had been darkened so he could portray the brooding vampire Bill and Paquin’s had been lightened for her role as Sookie Stackhouse. The spark was immediately apparent between the two. Moyer says, “By day three or four – oh, this is going to sound so syrupy – but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It was within seconds, really, and it just became a thing." It turns out blood is thicker than water and Anna and Stephen married in 2010. Paquin gave birth to fraternal twins, daughter Poppy and son Charlie in September 2012. Through their marriage Paquin has two step children through Moyer, a stepson Billy, and a stepdaughter Lilac. The family live together in California.
18 Jerry Ferrara & Jamie-Lynn Sigler
The boys in Vincent Chase’s "entourage" routinely teased character Turtle about how his famous girlfriend Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano of The Sopranos) was way too good for him. The pair met when Sigler became a guest star on the HBO comedy series Entourage in 2008. It wasn’t long before their pairing wasn’t just part of the script, and the two began dating. Unfortunately, by the end of 2009, the couple split stating how work commitments made it difficult to focus on their relationship. In 2012, the pair ran into each other at a Golden Globes after party hosted by InStyle. Witnesses saw the former couple engage in an awkward hello, and eventually walk around the event arm and arm; and there were some whispers that they might be getting back together. The reunion didn’t last too long though, witnesses say within 45 minutes the two began bickering and Ferrara stormed off shortly after.
17 Rose Leslie & Kit Harington
Ygritte the Wildling had to be pretty special for Jon Snow to break his vow of celibacy to the Knights Watch for her. The passionate scenes of their first romantic encounter happened deep inside the shadows of a cave as if it’s a world all of their own. This happens isolated from the intense snow outside, because fans should never forget …Winter is coming. While the two in real life continue to have an on again off again relationship, nothing has been as tragic as the fate of their star crossed hurdles on Game of Thrones. Harington recently said how easy it was to fall in love while on set, “Because the country [Iceland] is beautiful, because the Northern Lights are magical, and because it was there that I fall in love. If you're already attracted to someone, and then they play your love interest in the show, it becomes very easy to fall in love."
15 Keri Russell & Matthew Rhys
They’re spies, they’re a couple who are coping with a KGB arranged marriage, and they’re together in real life as well. The two began working together on the FX spy drama The Americans in 2013, and faced rumours that they were together because of their intense performances well before they actually made anything official. In early days of the series Keri Russell went through an amicable split with her husband of seven years, and the father of her two children, River and Willa. Russell was spotted walking around her Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood with Rhys just a few days before Christmas 2013 adding fuel to the fire surrounding their budding romance. In 2014, the two finally admitted to dating, making it official. In summer 2016, Russell and Rhys gave birth to a little boy who they named Sam. Despite any tensions between their characters on The Americans, the two couldn’t be happier than they are with each other.
13 Charlie Day & Mary Elizabeth Ellis
Loud and erratic Charlie Kelly has a fiery temper, and is obsessive. Throughout most of the series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie pursues an unrequited crush on “the waitress,” a character whose name no one in “the gang” even bothers to learn. The waitress has never liked Charlie, but he doesn’t let that stop him from trying to win her over with his schemes. His plans to get with the waitress include: pretending he has cancer, creating a musical called The Nightman Cometh (during which he proposes to her), and attempting to seduce her after she agrees to become his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. When Charlie isn’t stalking the waitress himself, he’s hired someone else to do it for him. Charlie Day has a happy ending that his Always Sunny character will never have. The couple met while filming an episode of Reno 911!, before they started working together on Always Sunny. They were married in 2006 and have one child together, a son named Russell Wallace Day.
11 Joshua Jackson & Katie Holmes
This is another case of a love triangle on TV, and a couple in real life. For most of the series Dawson’s Creek people tuned in every week to find out whether or not Joey Potter would end up with Pacey Witter or Dawson Leary. In early days of filming the WB series Katie Holmes decided she was on team Pacey. In a 1998 Rolling Stone article, in a time before Tom and Suri Cruise, Holmes went into great detail about young love and her five month romance with Jackson. She told the magazine, "I'm just going to say that I met somebody last year, I fell in love, I had my first love, and it was something so incredible and indescribable," she then added, after admitting she was talking about her former co-star Joshua Jackson, “I feel so fortunate because he's now one of my best friends. It's weird, it's almost like a Dawson-and-Joey type thing now.”
9 Mark-Paul Gosselaar & Tiffani Amber Thiessen
We’re not exactly sure how reliable a resource Dustin Diamond (aka Samuel “Screech” Powers) is on the subject, but according to his autobiography, Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar were an item on and off during the course of the series, up until the filming of Saved by the Bell: The College Years where Gosselaar met his wife who was an extra on the show. While the claims from Diamond about the two dating aren’t that scandalous, other allegations by the defunct D actor are, and he’s since denied some of what was in the book, Behind the Bell after fellow cast members spoke up against the content. Diamond claimed that Gosselaar and Thiessen used to have threesomes with the show’s Executive Producer Peter Engel. He also alleged that the women of Saved by the Bell all took turns having bedroom romps, first Thiessen, then Berkley, and finally Lark Voorhies all hooking up with the two male leads, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez.
7 John Stamos & Lori Loughlin
Uncle Jesse and Becky had a hunka, G-rated, burning love portrayed on the must-see TGIF line-up while starring as a couple on Full House. While there has been some debate whether they were ever an item, during recent interviews while promoting the Netflix reboot of the show entitled, Fuller House, the two were willing to share a little more about their real life romantic pasts. Over the course of the series, the duo were never single at the same time, so a real-life romance wasn’t on the sparkling Danny Tanner cleaned table. That doesn’t mean the characters hadn’t met each other in the time before Full House. When the pair were younger and working on daytime soaps, both teens, Stamos asked Loughlin if she wanted to go to Disneyland with him to check out a band. While Loughlin denies that it was really a date, Stamos insists that it was telling People magazine, “As I recall we ended up kissing, that sounds like a date, right?” Have Mercy!
5 Brian Austin Green & Tori Spelling
While nowadays he’s known more for his on and off relationship with hottie Megan Fox, there was once a time when David and Donna were the sweetest couple on 90210. Donna and David were such a big deal that fans felt like Donna’s BFFs as they watched the character make the life-altering TV decision to lose her virginity to her long term boyfriend David Silver. The pair really dated during the course of the show. During a 2015 interview Spelling talked about her schoolgirl like crush turned real relationship with her co-star, “Brian and I were the youngest (on the show) He would tease me, he teased me a lot. He would always come up to me and say that I had peach fuzz.” A scandal surrounding infidelity rocked Tori and her husband Dean McDermott in 2014, but the couple have appeared to work past it.
3 Milo Ventimiglia & Alexis Bledel
All of those teenaged girls who were “Team Jess” back in the Gilmore Girls days had something in common with Alexis Bledel, as the star dated her co-star for three and a half years during part of the series. Milo has a favourite Gilmore Girls episode, the one with the car accident where the car Dean built for Rory gets trashed. He says of the specific episode, “Alexis and I were both so tired and laughing and goofing off and having fun, so it was funny for me to watch.” Milo went on to date his Heroes co-star Hayden Panettiere for two years and the couple was affectionately called “Haylo” by the media. Ladies who want to “party” with Milo should be warned, he’s a lot better behaved in real life than the men he often portrays. The actor doesn’t drink or smoke, and is a healthy eater and lifelong ovo-lacto vegetarian.
1 Blake Lively & Penn Badgley
Sometimes the television ending is better than the one offered in real life, which is one of the things that keeps us tuning in. Blake Lively and Penn Badgley met on the set of the Gossip Girl in 2007. They dated each other until 2010, but managed to keep it together, working well together on the show until it ended in 2012 even though their romance was kaput, which may have been challenging at times since their characters, Dan Humphry and Serena van der Woodsen got married in the series finale of the show. It all worked out well for Lively in the end, she married Ryan Reynolds and the two have two children together, daughter James Reynolds who was born in 2014, and they welcomed their second child in October 2016. Badgley was connected to Lenny Kravitz’s daughter, actress, singer and model, Zoe Kravitz. The two dated for two years until 2013.