It’s the month of love, and with Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, we’ve looked to some of our favorite TV shows to find happy couples who seem to always get love right, with happy and loving relationships that weather many a storm. In a medium known for changing things up and shocking finales, who are some of these couples who made it through intact? We’ve scoured through the decades to find those who were either married from the beginning to the end of a series, or those who found love early on and stayed together throughout the remainder of the series.
Many of the happiest TV couples are found on sitcoms, with programs like “Happy Days” and “That ’70s Show” focusing primarily on growing kids and their friends, but also portraying a loving mom and dad who still enjoy alone time. It’s funny now to realize that in the 1950s and 1960s, these happy couples couldn’t share a bed – the poor Ricardos and Petries had to sleep in twin beds to maintain an air of propriety. Really – how many kids back then didn’t realize mom and dad shared a bed? It’s quite puzzling, but by the 1970s, the Bradys could at least show they read in the same bed, if nothing else. Flashforward four decades, and programs like “Modern Family” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” portray non-traditional couples who have found love and happiness as well.
It is a bit more difficult to find these successful couples on dramas, where everything from extramarital temptations to problem kids to natural or unnatural disasters can drive a wedge between two people. But strong couples like Randall and Beth Pearson (“This Is Us”) or Tom and Lynette Scavo (“Desperate Housewives”) show that these trials can actually bring people closer together, and that a sense of humor and shared values go a long way in keeping romance alive and keeping a bond strong.
And then there’s those couples who we watch find love, from the first bits of infatuation or from the first moments of unexpected passion between friends. Would “The Office” have been nearly as enjoyable without Jim and Pam’s love story? And would “Friends” have become tiresome with all the focus on that other couple had Chandler and Monica not proven that “Friends” sometimes make the best happily ever after?
Enjoy our photo gallery featuring 25 of the best married TV couples of all time, ranging from the passionate Hal and Lois (“Malcolm in the Middle”) to the more refined Robert and Cora (“Downton Abbey”), from newlyweds like Paul and Jamie (“Mad About You”) to long-married couples like Archie and Edith (“All in the Family”), who can teach us a thing or two about successful relationships.
And be on the watch for our other TV gallery about passionate couples who either never got married or it was for just a brief time during or at the end of the series.
25. That ’70’s Show
Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp as Red and Kitty Forman
Red isn’t the most romantic fellow around, but it was love at first sight for him, and they have one of the healthiest relationships on TV. They always have time for doling out advise and feeding their own teens as well as all their friends, but they always make time for each other. Her sweet giggles balance his quick temper, and these two frequently run upstairs for a little alone time.
24. Life in Pieces
Don Bakkedahl and Betsy Brandt as Tim and Heather Hughes
This underrated comedy has several great couples, but I’m going with Heather and Tim for the best. They started dating as teenagers, got married and have three kids. They clearly still love each other and do everything they can to keep romance alive – from Tim getting a tattoo that says “I love Heater” (he’s a doctor and his handwriting isn’t the best, but it’s the thought that counts) to Heather sending her husband naughty texts (which she accidentally sent to their teenage son, but, again, it’s the thought that counts. . . .)
23. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Andre Braugher and Marc Evan Jackson as Raymond Holt and Kevin Cozner
These two have been together for years, but have suffered from bias against their sexuality. Between that and their conservative natures, they don’t engage in public displays of affection. But they are still adorable – from Kevin referring to the deadpan pun-loving Holt as “the funny one” to Holt claiming that his nickname for his husband is “Kevin.”
22. Hart to Hart
Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart
They’re the perfect beautiful and rich couple from the 80s, but shows like “Dallas” also proved that combination does not always lead to happy unions. The Harts take interest in each other, and have fun role playing while solving murders during their luxury get-aways. And -whew!- the blazing looks and sexy innuendos they share keep the spice alive in their relationship.
Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as Dre and Rainbow Johnson
Dre and Bow are balancing a lot – two successful careers, five kids and maintaining their cultural identity. Oh, and there’s all that pranking they like to do – especially at Halloween. It all gets to be too much at one point, and they do a trial separation. But in the end, they realize that even though they each manage household duties fine on their own, they truly love and miss each other, and work much better as partners.
20. The Jeffersons
Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as George and Louise Jefferson
George is pompous and overbearing at times, and just as bigoted as his “All in the Family” nemesis Archie Bunker. But Louise brings him back down, and is his calming and supportive system as he makes a success from his dry cleaning business. She even overlooks his disapproving mother. And you hear the affection in George’s voice every time he talks to his “Weezy.”
19. How I Met Your Mother
Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan as Marshall and Lily (Aldrin) Eriksen
They’re that quirky couple from college who meshed together in their younger days, and grow into adulthood together. Sweet and a bit nerdy, they have fun together whether they’re hanging with their friends or enjoying a night in. They have their struggles and differences along the way, but it’s obvious these two sweethearts belong together.
18. The Brady Bunch
Robert Reed and Florence Henderson and Mike and Carol Brady
They actually share a bed! Gasp! This was a big deal back in the day, as sitcom couples were portrayed as sleeping in twin beds. But Mike and Carol are often seen together at the end of the day, reading side by side in the same bed (with Carol in a nice negligee, nonetheless!). And despite all the chaos with a blended family that includes six kids, these two always have time for each other and share parenting duties and responsibilities equally.
17. All in the Family
Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker
Hardheaded and bigoted, Archie can’t be the easiest guy to live with. But sweet, naive Edith is the perfect counterpart to his bluster, often proving his is more bark than bite. And no matter how gruff he may get, Archie truly loves Edith – and is devastated when she is no longer there.
16. Family Ties
Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter as Steven and Elyse Keaton
The theme song tells us all we need to know about this hippie couple raising kids in Reagan-era American: “I bet we been together for a million years, and I bet we’ll be together for a million more…
It’s like I started breathing on the night we kissed, and I can’t remember what I ever did before… What would we do baby, without us?” Their kids are often “grossed out” when this loving couple show affection for each other.
15. Happy Days
Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Howard and Marion Cunningham
Theirs is the house that all the kids want to hang around – a great mom and dad always available to dole out bits of wisdom along with some cookies and a glass of milk. But Howard and Marion are also a loving couple, with Marion getting excited when Howard is “feeling frisky,” and we know they’re keeping the romance alive when they scurry upstairs.
14. I Love Lucy
Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball as Ricky and Lucy Ricardo
Ball insisted that Arnaz play her husband in her proposed sitcom, but the network did not believe audiences would accept an American girl married to an Hispanic- despite the fact that the two were married in real life! However, Ball won and the two became the first biracial couple on television. That stubbornness carried over into her character, as Lucy is always trying to become star of her husband’s act, and he is so tolerant of her zaniness. The marriage unfortunately did not last in real life, but the love between these two onscreen is palpable – Ricky realizing Lucy is pregnant is one of the most tender moments ever on television.
13. Good Times
John Amos and Esther Rolle as James and Florida Evans
They may have had trouble “keepin’ their heads above water,” and were “scratchin’ and survivin’,” but there was never any doubt that these two were in the midst of good times. They struggled, with James often working more than one job, but what they lacked in material goods they more than made up for in love. And James was never shy about showing his wife love with a kiss, a hug or a teasing remark.
12. Desperate Housewives
Doug Savant and Felicity Huffman Tom and Lynette Scavo
They can both be too much – she’s a control freak and he’s a dreamer – and they have four (later five) rowdy kids on top of that. But these two have made it through a lot, from starting a business to a hostage situation to cancer to a tornado to extramarital temptations. And, yes, they nearly divorce, but they come back stronger – as Tom tells Lee and Bob, “Is that person in bed next to you worth the trouble? Do you love him or her so much that no disease, no disaster could possibly pull you apart?”
11. Friday Night Lights
Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Eric and Tami Taylor
Since he’s a high school coach and she’s a school counselor (later principal), these two spend much of their time doling out advice to students, but they always have time for each other. They make compromising look easy, always have each other’s backs and are never afraid to show affection, whether it’s with a kiss or a simple “I love you.” There’s never any doubt these two will still be making eyes at each other when they’re 80.
10. This Is Us
Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson as Randall and Beth Pearson
She’s the calm center to his anxieties and identity issues, and he is quick to acknowledge that she is his “black queen.” They don’t always agree, and sometimes these two seem to be heading into two completely different directions. But they always find their way back to each other, and show how a real marriage succeeds by keeping romance alive, listening to each other and having a sense of humor.
Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim as Jin-Soo and Sun-Hwa Kwon
A tragedy can tear a couple apart, or bring them closer together. Jin and Sun’s once-passionate marriage was already in crisis when Oceanic Flight 815 crashed. Language barriers with the other survivors and deceptions in their marriage continue to plague to couple. But over time, survival efforts bring them closer together, healing old wounds and reigniting old flames, and it’s comforting knowing these two end up together for all time.
8. Downton Abbey
Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern as Robert and Cora Crawley
They married for money and duty, but it is clear that love has bloomed between these two over the course of their marriage. They have certainly had rough patches – a miscarriage, the loss of an adult child, and near extramarital affairs by each of them – but each hard knock ends up bringing them closer instead of tearing them apart. Their aristocratic breeding force them to have certain demeanors – but there’s no doubt about the looks of love and affection these two share.
7. The Dick Van Dyke Show
Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie
Sure, they slept in separate beds. But it was the 1960s, and that was the way of the TV world. But we know the affection these two carried for each other- it was in the glances they exchanged, the embraces they shared and the sheer fun they had with each other. Much as Moore would later redefine single working women for TV, these two redefined how marriage was portrayed on sitcoms.
6. Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet as Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker
“Casablanca” in a game of charades brought them together, and the straight-laced Mitchell and the flamboyant Cam haven’t looked back. And what could be more romantic than a mutual proposal over a flat tire? Fans loved seeing these two fellows getting their happy-ever-after, first with a romantic wedding and later with two adopted children, and they opened the door for inclusion of LGBTQ couples on television.
5. Mad About You
Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as Paul and Jamie Buchman
The entire premise of this little sitcom was marriage, and the hurdles two newlyweds – in this case uptight Jamie and laidback Paul – navigate to learn to live together. All those little arguments and compromises couples go through – buying furniture, properly refilling the toilet paper holder, packing for vacation – are tackled, and with a sense of humor – one of the most important elements in a successful relationship.
Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox as Chandler and Monica (Geller) Bing
Ross and Rachel get all the attention, but it’s Chandler and Monica who surprised and delighted us with their unexpected relationship. We laugh as they struggle to keep their relationship a secret, and cry over one of the sweetest proposal ever on TV. Their wedding planning keeps us in stitches, and their struggles with infertility hits home with a lot of us, bringing more tears when their dream for a baby is realized.
3. The Addams Family
John Astin and Carolyn Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams
Gomez and Morticia prove that being creepy and kooky can be altogether ooky with the right person. Her calm, sophisticated manner balances his overly enthusiastic, childlike behavior – and he is madly in love with her. Especially when she speaks French. . .
2. Malcolm in the Middle
Bryan Cranston and Jane Kaczmarek as Hal and Lois
If ever there was a man who adores his wife, it’s Hal. He chose her over her sister, and distanced himself from his wealthy family as a result. These two don’t have much in the way of material possessions, and their unruly boys can be a bit much, but their love keeps the family together, and their unmatchable passion (14 times a week!) keeps their family growing.
1. The Office
John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer as Jim and Pam (Beesly) Halpert
Jim and Pam may be the sweetest “will they or won’t they” in TV history. Office romances are tricky, but outgoing and fun-loving Jim knows sweet, quiet Pam is the girl for him – even though she’s engaged to someone else. Over time, these two find their way together, getting married and having a family. Sure, they have problems like any married couple, but these two always end up having each other’s backs. And we’ve enjoyed nine seasons of watching their love grow and mature.