(WARNING: This article contains spoilers for all series listed, including some recent episodes)
On #TV not every couple gets a happy ending, no matter how much it seems like they are meant to be together. Let's take a look back at these tragic TV romances.
1. Lex Luthor And Lana Lang ('Smallville')
While the relationship between future supervillain Lex eventually devolved into manipulation and abuse, both physical and emotional, it is the hints of what once could have been that make it tragic.
In earlier episodes, Lex is seen to have genuine feelings for Lana, but declines to act on them out of respect for his then-friend, Clark. But after being shot in the Season 5 episode "Lexmas," Lex is shown an alternate future in which he and Lana are married with a child and another on the way, he realizes it can all truly be his if he makes the right life choices. Everything seems perfect until Lana goes into labor and dies soon after giving birth.
Lex refuses to live a life where the woman he loves is fated to die, instead choosing a life of money and power. Though he does eventually still marry Lana, Lex is a changed man, set on his path to villainy. Watching his descent from a sweet former playboy who loved Lana to a man who unflinchingly manipulates and abuses her for his own ends is heartbreaking to watch.
2. Lexie Grey And Mark Sloan ('Grey's Anatomy')
In no time at all, Lexie "Little" Grey and Mark "McSteamy" Sloan grew from an unlikely pair to one of the most popular couples in the history of #GreysAnatomy. Though many of Lexie's loved ones warned Mark away, he renounced his former playboy ways for her, proving he truly did love the youngest Grey sister. Despite the many obstacles their relationship faced, Lexie loved him too.
The biggest of those obstacles was their age difference, placing them at very different life stages. While Mark is soon ready to settle down and start having children, Lexie, while committed to Mark, is only half way through training to become a surgeon. Unable to reach common ground on this issue, they break up. Towards the end of Season 8, Lexie declares that she still loves Mark, but he rejects her, now dating someone else.
Ready for the tragic part? After Lexie's failed declaration, she and Mark end up as part of a team flying out to perform a surgery at another hospital. The plane crashes, leaving Lexie crushed under a piece of debris, suffering massive internal injuries. There is nothing the other surgeons can do to save her. Heartbroken, Mark declares his love, holding Lexie's hand as she dies. Soon after the crash victims are rescued, Mark passes away from his own injuries, the clear implication being that he died of a broken heart.
3. Tom Branson And Sybil Crawley ('Downton Abbey')
To some, it would seem that the romance of Tom Branson and Lady Sybil Crawley was doomed from the start. She was the youngest daughter of the wealthy Lord Downton, and he was her family's chauffeur. But Sybil had always been different from her two sisters — rebellious, a forward thinker. Tom, too, thought forward to a day in the not too distant future when the difference between Sybil's class and his own would not be quite so great. While initially suppressing her feelings, Sybil falls for Tom and, defying her Father's wishes, marries him and moves away. Though they are not seen on the show much during this period, they are said to be happy, with the change in lifestyle not bothering Sybil at all.
Upon learning that Sybil is expecting her first child, Sybil's Mother, Lady Cora, convinces Lord Downton to extend an olive branch. Sometime later, Sybil goes into labor while visiting #DowntonAbbey, delivering a healthy baby girl, but suffers from the effect of Pre-eclampsia, dying soon after the birth. A devastated Tom names his daughter Sybbie in memory of her mother.
The true tragedy of Sybil's death is in not only how it affected Tom, but shattered the entire Crawley family.
4. Clara Oswald And Danny Pink ('Doctor Who')
Bouncing back from a disastrous first date, fellow teachers Clara Oswald and Danny Pink build a solid, loving relationship. Though Danny is upset after learning that Clara lied about her continued travels with The Doctor, they seem to be getting things back on track — until Danny is struck by a car and killed. After death, Danny finds himself transported to the mysterious Nethersphere.
After being caught up in a plot to raise the Earth's dead as an army of Cybermen, Clara stumbles upon Danny in Cyberman form. His emotional inhibitor has not been activated properly, and requests that Clara fix it for him. Clara, unwilling to leave her love in so much pain, does so, even knowing that Danny would likely turn on her afterwards. He does not, as his love for Clara conquers his cyber-conversion. With some help from The Doctor, Danny leads the Cyberman army to destroy a toxic cloud that would have destroyed Earth, all in the name of keeping Clara safe.
"You will sleep safe tonight." Danny, to Clara
It is later revealed that The Doctor left Danny with the means to return to the world of the living, but only one can make the trip. Danny chooses to resurrect a child he had accidentally killed during his time as a soldier. The look on Clara's face when she realizes that Danny is really not coming back is one of the most heartbreaking #DoctorWho moments in recent memory.
5. Maggie Greene And Glenn Rhee ('The Walking Dead')
Glenn Rhee and Maggie Greene, two of the most popular characters on The Walking Dead, found love in the most unlikely of places: the zombie apocalypse. Meeting when the core group seeks shelter at the Greene farm, Maggie initially plays hot and cold with Glenn, not wanting to get attached, as Glenn's group is not supposed to stay. Despite this, the pair are drawn to each other, and Glenn eventually earns the blessing of Maggie's father, Hershel.
Together, Glenn and Maggie survive many of the series most horrifying events, including the fall of the Greene farm, the Governor's attack on the prison, and the cannibalistic residents of Terminus. The love between the two is a bright spot in an often dark story. By the beginning of the sixth season of #TheWalkingDead, things seem to be looking up. The group has finally been accepted by the other residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone, and, feeling more secure in their future, Glenn and Maggie decide to have a baby. Unfortunately, this is when everything goes horribly wrong. After our heroes run afoul of a group called The Saviors, Glenn is brutally beaten to death by their leader, #Negan, with Maggie forced to watch.
"Maggie, I will find you." — Glenn's last words.
Just like that the beautiful future they had been looking forward to was gone. Maggie faced a future as a single mother, while Glenn would never meet his child.
6. Mark Greene And Elizabeth Corday ('E.R.')
After a few unsuccessful relationships for both parties, Doctors Mark Greene and Elizabeth Corday end up together almost by accident, bonding through a series of misadventures at a medical conference. Despite this, it becomes apparent that they are perfect for each other. Together they survive an angry former patient, the death of Mark's father, and a humorous case of poison ivy.
Their biggest challenge is Mark's first battle with an aggressive brain tumor. This occurs at the worst time possible, as Elizabeth had recently fallen pregnant with their first child. Refusing to give up when Mark is initially told that nothing can be done, the pair travel elsewhere to find a surgeon willing to operate. The surgery is a success, and Mark lives to see the birth of his daughter, Ella. For a time, Mark and Elizabeth are as happy as any couple can expect to be in a #drama series.
The pair face a near tragedy after Ella accidentally ingests recreational drugs belonging to Rachel, Mark's daughter from his first marriage. Mark finds himself unable to send Rachel away, so Elizabeth moves out with Ella, fearing for her safety if Rachel brought drugs into their home again. During this separation, Mark's tumor returns — this time truly inoperable — and his hopes of seeing Ella grow up are dashed. Elizabeth soon returns to his side, and as Mark's illness progresses, they head to Hawaii with Ella and Rachel. Mark spends his final days making happy memories with his family, and, touchingly, is able to witness Ella's first steps before he passes away.
Mark's presence continued to be felt long after he died, and Elizabeth never seemed to fully recover from his loss.
7. Willow Rosenberg And Tara Maclay ('Buffy The Vampire Slayer')
Meeting at a College Wicca group, Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay have one of the sweetest love stories throughout the entire series of #BuffyTheVampireSlayer. Together, they survive formidable villains such as the Gentlemen, and the powerful Hell-God Glory, and become the primary caretakers of Buffy's sister, Dawn, after the Slayer's temporary death.Trouble arises in Season 6 when Willow begins showing signs of an addiction to magic use. When a spell gone wrong temporarily wipes everyone's memories, putting them all in horrible danger, Tara leaves Willow, feeling violated in the same way she had been when Glory scrambled her mind in the previous season.
After a long recovery period for Willow, she and Tara strike up a friendship once more. The spark between them is definitely still there, and Tara appears in Willow's room one night, where they reunite with a passionate kiss. The couple spend a single, wonderful day together, until, in a freak, tragic accident, Tara was struck and killed by a stray bullet fired by Warren. Failing to resurrect Tara, a heartbroken Willow relapses, absorbing all the magic she can find. She tracks down Warren, torturing and killing him in revenge for Tara's death. Consumed by the Dark Magic, Willow continues down a path of destruction, battling her best friend, Buffy, critically injuring Giles, and nearly destroying the World.
Though Willow is stopped, she is forever changed by the experience. Tara's death and the events that followed haunt her for the rest of the series, and still do so in the comics that followed.
8. Lance Sweets And Daisy Wick ('Bones')
A slightly nerdy psychologist and a bubbly forensic anthropologist in training, Daisy and Sweets seemed perfect for each other right from their very first meeting. The two had a humorously passionate relationship, being caught out inappropriate locations on more than one occasion.
Working with the rest of the Jeffersonian team, Daisy and Sweets contributed to bringing down some of the most iconic #Bones villains, including Christopher Pelant. While the pair separate for a time, they are revealed to have reunited at the beginning of Season 10, with Daisy expecting Lance's baby. Sadly, things soon take a tragic turn, as Sweets is killed by an unseen assassin while working a case with Booth and Brennan. Daisy suppresses her grief for long enough to help the rest of the team catch Sweets's killer. Later, with the team by her side, she gives birth to a baby boy, naming him Lance for his lost father.
9. The Doctor And River Song ('Doctor Who')
The love between The Doctor and River Song is tragic from the start, with The Doctor meeting River on the same day that she is destined to die for him. The pair meet mostly back to front, meaning The Doctor falls ever deeper in love with River while knowing that she will die. Meanwhile, River, moving in the other direction, encounters versions of The Doctor that are growing less in love with her.
River Song is eventually revealed to be Melody Pond, the daughter of The Doctor's friends, Amy and Rory. She is kidnapped as an infant, raised and trained for the sole purpose of murdering The Doctor. She almost succeeds, but, after seeing who The Doctor truly is, changes her mind, using all of her remaining regenerative energy to save his life. Because of this sacrifice, River is no longer able to regenerate, putting her one step closer to her destined death.
Knowing that his remaining time with her is growing short, The Doctor desperately avoids taking River for a promised dinner at the Singing Towers of Darillium, as the older River had mentioned it as the last time she had seen him during their first/final meeting. He cancels the date many times, before he and River finally arrive on Darillium by accident while escaping a crashing ship. In a bittersweet twist, a night on Darillium lasts for 24 Earth years, all of which The Doctor spends with River.
He was likely more in love with her than ever by the time he had to leave.
10. Izzie Stevens And Denny Duquette ('Grey's Anatomy')
The doomed relationship of Denny Duquette and Izzie Stevens earned Grey's Anatomy its crown as one of the kings of tearjerker TV. The relationship between the pair was frowned upon from the start, with Denny, a patient awaiting a heart transplant, and Izzie, one of his doctors. Izzie tried to discourage Denny at first, but their attraction became impossible to ignore. As their love grew deeper, Denny's health declined. In one of the show's most iconic scenes, Izzie cuts Denny's LVAD wire, forcing him to the top of the transplant list.
After what seemed like a successful surgery, Denny proposed, and Izzie delightedly accepted. She leaves Denny briefly to prepare for a makeshift prom being held for a teen patient, and returns to show him her dress to find that he has passed away from a post-surgery blood clot. Izzie is left completely heartbroken.
Izzie's future on the show was forever shaped by that moment, with Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" forever burned into the minds of Grey's fans.
Check out some of the best love stories that happened this past year in the video below:
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What's your favorite tragic TV love story? Leave it in the comments.