It’s Valentine’s Day and we wanted to celebrate some of our favorite LGBTQ couples on television. There are a lot of them, and we did our best. Across many genres, LGBTQ representation has risen steadily; most importantly, the love stories told only continue to become more mainstream and filled with joy. Not every fate on this list is a good one, and some end tragically, but each story is rooted in captivating performances and some of the most romantic moments ever to grace the small screen.
This is a rerun of a list we ran on a different site, updated with some couples we missed last year, new couples that we just met, and new blurbs for currently running TV shows. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Literary lovers, unite! Though the historical relationship between Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) and her best friend-turned-sister-in-law Sue Gilbert (Ella Hunt) is largely speculative, Dickinson packs so much passion between the two that it’s not hard to believe each detail is real.
At a time when society frowned upon the very idea of a lesbian relationship, Emily and Sue had to share their love through stolen moments of secrecy. From tender glances to fiery intimacy to delicate dedications of now-renowned poems, Sue transformed Emily from a figure of cold isolation into a warmhearted and strong-willed individual fighting for her love through her words. [Kellie Innes]
Ray/Kevin, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Brooklyn Nine-Nine had strong representation right from the start but as the show developed it truly began to find its footing in its romantic relationships. This is the case with Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) and his husband, Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson), who was often used as a means of comedy, the straight man to Holt’s straight man who made the latter look looser and emotional in comparison.
They’re given a true story arc in the last season after they’ve separated due to the constraints of Holt’s job and Kevin’s unhappiness because of it. It might’ve taken too long to get a kiss shared between the two, but the show went all out on it with the romance as the two raced through the rain to reconcile. [Allyson Johnson]
Skam, the Norwegian series about a group of friends that took the internet by storm, already had two strong seasons focusing on other characters before the release of the third. While everyone might have their own favorite, for many, Season 3 stood out not just because of the romance but because of the character study of Isak (Tarjei Sandvik Moe) as he came into his own and reconciled with his sexuality.
The sweet and cinematic romance between Isak and Even (Henrik Holm) simply made it better, especially as it also addresses mental illness and how to approach discussions of it with a partner. Like all of Skam, the relationship between the two was treated with frank honesty and disorienting realism, always recognizing they were teenagers and, thus, likely to make mistakes and do so in ways that didn’t instantly villainize them. [Allyson Johnson]
The Sense8s, Sense8
Sure, we should highlight the official pairs like Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman) and Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) and certainly, there is plenty to celebrate regarding how both relationships were depicted throughout the series with such warmth and positivity without ever resulting in cheap conflict. However, one of the greatest aspects of Sense8 was the bonds all eight members involved in the mental link.
The show took pains to express the pansexuality of its characters, expressed in not just one mental orgy sequence, but one that also closed out the entirety of the series which enveloped all of the Sense8 members along with their significant others. For a show as deliberately progressive as Sense8 and one which seeks to express the beauty found in the bonds between strangers from all walks of life, it beautifully demonstrates how love can transcend differences. [Allyson Johnson]
Ola/Lily, Sex Education
There are plenty of dynamics worth celebrating in Sex Education, romantic and otherwise, but the romance that blossoms between Ola (Patricia Allison) and Lily (Tanya Reynolds) is one of the most unassuming and sweetest romances on TV. Between their colorful dispositions (and wardrobes) and Lily’s creative pursuits, their dynamic is curious and thoughtful as their relationship develops.
They get a decent amount of time dedicated to them in season three as they explore their relationship and the communication required for it. Patricia Allison and Tanya Reynolds share tangible chemistry and the greatest aspect of their dynamic is how the show makes sure to honor both of their individual spirits while similarly leaving space for how they are suited for one another. [Allyson Johnson]
Harley Quinn/PoisonIvy, Harley Quinn
In a series as outrageous as HBO Max’s animated series Harley Quinn, the most surprising element isn’t the old man who grotesquely transforms into an automobile, gruesome and casual murders, or a talking, perpetually stoned plant, but instead, the sincerity in the burgeoning romance between Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Ivy (Lake Bell).
Since the start of the series, Ivy hasn’t so much been Harley’s moral center—she has her own codes she lives by which certainly include violence—but her guiding force and greatest support. There was a love story of deep friendship and then love as, towards the end of Season 2, a drunken night saw Harley realizing her deeper feelings for her friend. There’s madness, mayhem, and shock value galore in this series, and what anchors it is this central relationship that’s allowed for far greater character growth for both characters in a show that could have rested on violence and gratuity. [Allyson Johnson]
Ed/Stede Bonnet, Our Flag Means Death
Part of the many strengths of HBO’s Our Flag Means Death is both the abundance of queer stories and characters as well as the show’s refusal to treat any of it as a joke. It’s an inherently silly show that often goes for big and broad humor but there’s a definite heart both in the camaraderie of the ship of misfits, but especially the growing love story between Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) and our gentleman pirate, Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby.)
Their mutual flirtations, the way they grow and seek out changes in themselves through their would-be romance, and the electric chemistry between Waititi and Darby make for a sweet romance that we desperately root for. [Allyson Johnson]
Joe Locke and Kit Connor are adorable and wholesome in Netflix’s Heartstopper as the core romance of the series. As Charlie and Nick, they embody youthful longing with lingering gazes and bashful smiles as the two dance around each other and their mutual attraction.
As Nick grapples with his bisexuality the series finds a facet of realism not often expressed in these types of coming-of-age stories. While there’s plenty to recommend about the series, it’s undoubtedly their relationship that links all of the winsome elements together. [Allyson Johnson]
Dani/Jamie, The Haunting of Bly Manor
Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) and Jamie Taylor’s (Amelia Eve) relationship in The Haunting of Bly Manor was one of the best things that the audience had a chance to see last year. The incredible bond between the shy and slightly clumsy au pair and the quiet but wise groundskeeper set in the gothic horror narrative appears unrivaled, but it’s an excellent way to build tension and horror, and add a layered, complex story we won’t soon forget. That is, without a doubt, why Mike Flanagan is one of the best contemporary horror directors.
Regardless of the tragic and quite heartbreaking finale, Dani and Jamie’s love story is a true anchor of the show and means more than we can imagine, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s very personal to witness such an incredible, beautiful sapphic love story, especially being a lesbian film and television critic. [Zofia Wijaszka]
In Glee, we follow the lives of the New Directions members, a glee club in a Lima high school. One of the most interesting and empowering elements of the show is the budding relationship between Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Elizabeth Morris). Their bond grows, evolves, and flourishes as the seasons pass. When Ryan Murphy introduced Brittany and Santana, two McKinley High School cheerleaders and members of Will Schuester’s glee club, he created one of the first diverse, female same-sex relationships on television.
By crafting and developing their relationship, the creators highlighted the challenges that members of the LGBTQ+ community face not only in their schools and workplaces but also among their family members. Re-watching the show and, specifically, its plotline now, especially in light of the tragic death of Naya Rivera, who portrayed the headstrong and empowering Santana, is a worthwhile experience. [Zofia Wijaszka]
Adora/Catra, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
Catra (AJ Michalka) and Adora’s (Aimee Carrero) relationship isn’t just the best ship of Netflix’s She-Ra reboot She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, it’s the heart of it. The two shared a childhood shaped by trauma and war, having grown up in the Fright Zone, trained to be soldiers in the villainous Horde army, and manipulated by their guardian and maternal figure Shadow Weaver. But Adora and deuteragonist Catra always seemed to occupy a space all their own, stealing quiet moments of tenderness amidst the harshness of their surroundings.
When She-Ra discovers the truth about who raised them and becomes the magical heroine She-Ra, her former friend Catra becomes her embittered, formidable adversary as the two find themselves on opposing sides. But even at their lowest, they always share a bond that eventually becomes powerful enough to save an entire universe, prove capable of providing support and healing after trauma, and bring us one of the most groundbreaking relationships on TV. [Andrea Thompson]
Luz/Amity, The Owl House
It was the moment that caused an entire fandom to literally fall out of their seats. Luz (Sarah-Nicole Robles) and Amity’s (Mae Whitman) growing bond on The Owl House had quickly grown to be one of its highlights, with fans shipping the two and Amity’s arc progressing from one-note mean girl to a complex fan favorite and staunch ally to the human Luz after she finds herself in a magical, otherworldly realm and begins training as a witch.
When Amity finally got up her nerve to make a move and actually kissed Luz on the cheek, fans went wild as Disney, a company that had practically built its brand on heteronormativity, gave us a sweetly romantic relationship between two teenage girls and depicted it as perfectly normal. Luz and Amity not only attended their world’s version of prom and shared a very much not platonic dance together, they later made it official, asking each other out and becoming determinedly supportive partners to each other in a healthy LGBTQ relationship that needed no permission or even homophobic obstacles to overcome. [Andrea Thompson]
Bill/Frank, The Last of Us
Great television adaptations know how to take a tiny insignificant moment and nurture it into something surprisingly beautiful. Writer and creator Craig Mazin achieves that goal with aplomb in the third episode of The Last of Us. “Long, Long Time” follows the bittersweet queer love story between survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman) and his passionate lover Frank (Murray Bartlett). Though the two men meet under unusual circumstances (Bill finds Frank stuck in one of his many booby traps), their relationship blossoms like the sweet red strawberries in their garden.
As the two men grow old together in their gated oasis, Bill and Frank learn that their dueling personalities make them stronger, not weaker. Thanks to their commitment and trust in one another, the couple manages to avoid rampaging zombies, stop ruthless raiders in their tracks, and even make trusted friends. For Bill and Frank, the apocalypse becomes an opportunity for them to live out the best version of their lives together. Sadly, the couple’s story only lasts one episode as it meets a tragic but gratifying end. However, their everlasting love will stand the test of time. [Phylecia Miller]
Bess/Odette, Nancy Drew
Bess (Maddison Jaizani) and Odette (Anja Savcic) may have never had a chance at a happy ending, but their relationship gave both characters needed growth and allowed Odette to finally be at peace in the afterlife. As Odette shared George’s body, there was always instability in her existence, but regardless, these two characters bring out the best in each other, with Odette helping to build up Bess’s confidence and sense of self-worth.
As Bess is the only permanent LGBTQ character on the show, this does, unfortunately, add to a string of ended relationships, but it’s still important to recognize that not every romantic relationship is endgame (looking at you Nancy Drew) but these “midgame” relationships still have beauty in them. This one ended heartbreakingly, but with Odette contributing to the life of someone she loves and leaving behind the violence and anger she once harbored. [Amanda Reimer]
Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) may have not been perfect; in fact, there were several times they clearly weren’t, but they were also one of the ships that helped young people discover themselves. Glee aired during a major resurgence of the LGBTQ rights movement, a fight that still isn’t over yet.
However, their story showed the ups and downs of any couple struggling to stay together during the transition from youth to adulthood. The Warblers’ rendition of Teenage Dream is one of the most popular of the Glee covers to date, and also happens to frame a moment of queer romance. Kurt and Blaine got their happy ending and showed fans that even if things are shaky at the moment, there is still hope. [Amanda Reimer]
Root/Shaw, Person of Interest
Root (Amy Acker) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) are also one of those couples that were drenched in unexpected and natural chemistry. Person of Interest is hardly a romantic show and didn’t have great endings for many of its characters, so it’s not surprising that these two didn’t end up together in the end. That said, the push-and-pull dynamic between Root and Sam definitely heated up the show and definitely for the better.
Root and Shaw weren’t really sure how to go forward with their chemistry; they were emotionally stunted outcasts, but that feeling can easily be translated to people who don’t have much experience with relationships due to their environment or other factors that make being out and queer difficult. Seeing queer relationships in genres whose focus isn’t on romance is encouraging, and Root and Shaw definitely were buzz-worthy when they were on the air. [Amanda Reimer]
Kate/Mallory, Cruel Summer
Kate (Olivia Holt) and Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) was pleasingly unexpected in Freeform’s Cruel Summer. At first, they just appeared to have a natural chemistry which was easy to write off; after all, Kate did have a boyfriend in the 1993 timeline. However, with the final episodes of the first season, it became clear that Cruel Summer wasn’t going to make the mistake of ignoring something even if it may have not initially been planned.
Kate and Mallory kiss in some of the final moments of the season, which we now know is an anthology, placing even more meaning on the relationship in terms of Kate’s arc throughout the season. She has a happy ending, and finally feels free enough to act truly impulsively, but from the heart. Mallory may have not been a fan favorite, but she did offer Kate support and kindness through the season, and Kate offered those things as well when Jeanette often rejected her. These two are a tale of acceptance and support in the aftermath of trauma, which is why it’s one of our favorite queer ships. [Amanda Reimer]
Clarke/Lexa, The 100
In a post-apocalyptic world like that of The CW’s The 100, you have to appreciate love when it comes along, and there was no greater couple than the show’s heroine Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), and the leader of a rival group of survivors, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey). For the series to give its lead a queer love interest was a big deal. The two worked together to save their people, and to build a future of peace. Their biggest challenge was being torn between love for each other, and duty to their people.
Unfortunately, the series fell into the bury-your-gays trope when it killed off Lexa—a move that reverberated throughout the fandom. One small grace is that since Lexa’s consciousness was preserved in a computer chip, she lived on in a way, and Debnam-Carey even guest-starred after her character’s death. In the series finale, it was acknowledged that Lexa was Clarke’s greatest love, but we fans always knew that! [Linda Maleh]
Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tara (Amber Benson) first appeared in the iconic Season 4 episode “Hush,” and nothing on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was ever the same. There were instant sparks between Tara and the series’ resident witch Willow (Alyson Hannigan) as they bonded over being fellow magic users at UC Sunnydale. Willow brought the terribly shy Tara out of her shell. It was a major slow burn for the two to finally get together, but over time they fell in love, Willow came out to her friends, and Tara became a fully-fledged member of the Scooby Gang.
Tragedy struck in Season 6, first with Willow’s abuse as her addiction to magic grew, and then more permanently when Tara became a victim of the bury-your-gays trope. It’s heartbreaking, but as I rewatch the series, I still think there was so much beauty in the relationship, and especially in Benson’s quiet and moving performance. [Linda Maleh]
One’s half-angel, the other’s half-demon, but Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) are pretty much a done deal from the moment they meet each other early in Season 1 of Freeform’s Shadowhunters, a television adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.
Despite coming from two very different worlds, the strength of Alec and Magnus’ relationship lies in their communication, dedication, and loyalty to each other. Sure, they might hit a few roadblocks over the three seasons of the show’s run, including but not limited to very dumb demon deals and lying about very important things that might put an entire group of people’s life at risk, but hey, they make it through. They also really know how to throw weddings. [Katey Stoetzel]
Michael/Alex, Roswell, New Mexico
One’s an alien, the other’s a human … ugh, you get it. Michael Guerin (Michael Vlamis) and Alex Manes (Tyler Blackburn) may hook up in Roswell, New Mexico‘s pilot episode, but they take a very long while to find their way back to each other by mid-Season 3. There’s a lot of baggage following these two—from homophobic fathers, and alien secrets, to misguided threesomes with their mutual best friend, Michael and Alex seem to go through it all.
It’s a frustrating rollercoaster but it’s worth it to watch them both grow individually and shed their shared trauma so they can move forward together toward better days. Roswell, New Mexico is basically an alien soap opera, but by the show’s end, the two are happily married and driving into the sunset out of Roswell. [Katey Stoetzel]
Probably one of the sweetest couples to ever grace television that still manages to make you cry. Greta (Haley Sanchez) and Riley (Chase Sui Wonders) don’t know what they want during the 16 episodes of Generation’s run. But that’s what’s great with a show about queer high schoolers—they’re allowed to not fully understand yet. Riley and Greta’s mutual affection for each other is clear from the start, but Riley’s never been with a girl before, and Greta’s not sure about taking the next step at all.
Generation‘s cancellation is unfortunate since we can’t see these two officially be together, but the show’s finale did give us a love declaration, and a moment that affirms Greta’s asexuality—though she doesn’t use the label, she’s proud and she’s confident in where she stands when it comes to sex, and makes it clear that her love for Riley is as real as it gets. What more could you want? (I mean, another 3 seasons ASAP). [Katey Stoetzel]
Dana/Rachel, Mythic Quest
Dana (Imani Hakim) and Rachel’s (Ashley Burch) slow-burn romance in the testing room of the Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet office has been a sweet relief from the toxic management from Ian and Poppy on Mythic Quest. Seriously, Rachel and Dana are probably the sanest people in this office.
They’re officially together in Seasons 2 and 3, where their responsibilities at the video game company get larger and the two navigate the next steps in their professional and personal lives. And even though they sometimes get roped into Ian and Poppy’s shenanigans, they’re able to push through whatever corporate America throws at them next. [Katey Stoetzel]
TK/Carlos, 911: Lone Star
TK (Ronen Rubinstein) and Carlos (Rafael L. Silva) have been through a lot. Their rocky beginning in Season 1 meant they were never on the same page about what their relationship was until Season 1’s finale, and all it took was a solar storm to solidify many life decisions for TK.
The end of Season 3 saw Carlos and TK getting engaged, but now we’re three episodes into Season 4 (4×04 airs tonight) and things could be better! Carlos comes clean about his secret marriage to best friend Iris Blake in the season’s premiere and before TK and Carlos can reconcile, Carlos gets kidnapped. We wanted TK out of the hospital bed, but Carlos being tortured by serial killers is not the angst we were looking for! Still, the drama is juicy and despite how anxiety-filled the past few weeks have been with all of the secrets, lies, and exasperated ‘I love yous,’ all roads lead to the wedding. [Katey Stoetzel]
Annalise/Nathan/Gabriel, The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself
Though The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself only lasted one season, those eight episodes did give us a love story between Annalise (Nadia Parkes), Nathan (Jay Lycurgo), and Gabriel (Emilien Vekemans). The trio doesn’t know each other for very long, but being on the run from multiple magic factions tends to heighten emotions leading to a growing connection between Nathan and Gabriel.
However, the show doesn’t treat the three as a love triangle. Instead, the show gives us a great example of a queerplatonic relationship between Gabriel and Annalise while the love they have for each other is shared by all three. A moment in the show’s final episode confirms that love with both Nathan and Annalise saying “I love you both.” Gabriel is a holdout, but we’re assuming there was going to be some emotional character development with him in a second season that we’ll never see. However, the trio’s chemistry is the main draw of the show, and their love—though still in the early stages—underpins the show’s philosophy. [Katey Stoetzel]
Mateo (Michelangelo Fortuzzi) and David (Lukas von Horbatschewsky) are the best iterations of Isak and Even in the Skam universe. Not only are there characters a nice mix of Isak and Even’s personalities, Season 3 of Druck expertly interprets and reimagines the themes and direction of the original Skam Season 3. It’s a similar story but it also feels different and that’s a testament to the actors’ portrayals of Mateo and David. [Katey Stoetzel]
David/Patrick, Schitt’s Creek
When David (Dan Levy) met Patrick (Noah Reid) toward the end of Schitt’s Creek Season 3, a short yet tasteful slow burn began between the two eventual business partners. The two brought out the best in each other—Patrick knew how to curb some of David’s worst tendencies and David brought Patrick out of his shell more.
For the next three seasons, David and Patrick were a staple of an increasingly popular show. Even if they hit some pitfalls along the way, they were solid through and through, all the way to their wedding. [Katey Stoetzel]
Quentin/Eliot, The Magicians
Is it canon if it only happened in an alternate timeline in the past? Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Eliot (Hale Appleman) are probably the one couple on television that is constantly on my mind. It’s the what-if of it all. What if their relationship was important enough to explore further? What if Quentin didn’t die at the end of Season 4? This one hurts, but when Quentin and Eliot were on screen together, they were magic.
To answer the question above, of course, it’s canon. But that’s the problem with The Magicians—most of its revolutionary queer representation happens in mindscapes or alternate universes. While Season 3’s “A Life in a Day” gives us the best Quentin/Eliot content of the whole show, and Season 4’s corresponding “Escape from the Happy Place” confirmed what that Season 3 episode left behind, it still stings to know the core of their relationship happened in a bubble. When it came time to deal with it in the real world, Quentin was killed off, and Eliot was forced to confront his feelings while he mourned him. But for 3 and a half seasons, these best friends were inseparable, and while their love for each other was subtle, it was undeniable. [Katey Stoetzel]
Featured banner images courtesy of The CW, HBO Max, and Netflix. Photo Illustration by Katey Stoetzel