Warning: contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, Buffy, Smallville, Farscape, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Grimm, and Quantum Leap.
Demons, demon-hunters, aliens and slayers have no luck whatsoever when it comes to plighting their troughs smoothly. There are many ways a wedding can go wrong in the world of science fiction and fantasy, from alien attack to mass murder to accidentally marrying a clone of your fiancée. With inspiration from Doctor Who, Star Trek, Grimm, Smallville, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and more, we’ve selected a variety of different disasters, focusing on occasions when trouble occurred either during the ceremony or during the reception shortly afterwards, listed in entirely subjective order of disastrousness.
Please stand then, as the Wedding March begins…
11. Quantum Leap: Sea Bride
The happy couple: Catherine Farrington and Vincent Loggia, a gangster and a woman who, strangely, is getting married in 1954 wearing a none-more-1980s huge puffy wedding dress, with the bridesmaid in that special combination of peachy-pink and ruffles that all those of us who were bridesmaids in the 1980s were put in.
Until… The bride’s ex-husband is already trying to stop the wedding when, unbeknownst to anyone, he is whisked away and replaced with one Dr Sam Beckett, who is even more determined to stop the wedding.
And then: While a hologram invisible and inaudible to everyone present desperately tries to answer That Line (“If anyone here objects to this union, let him speak now or forever hold his peace”, and variations thereon) with “Yes me! I do!” the bride has a last-second change of heart, right before a time traveller appearing to everyone as her ex-husband runs in half naked, covered in garbage, accusing the groom of attempted murder.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? No; the groom is taken away and presumably later arrested for trying to kill his intended’s ex.
Body count: Sam is able to survive Loggia’s originally successful attempt to murder Philip, allowing the wedding to go ahead without fatalities.
Wedding video highlights: In this case, the disaster was the original wedding passing off without a hitch, leading to the deaths of both the bride and her ex-husband. More importantly, this episode, the 21st of Season Two, takes place immediately before one of Quantum Leap’s best and most popular episodes, “M.I.A.” Here, we see a woman nearly marrying someone else because she had mistakenly believed her first husband to be dead, and while they’re talking about the situation, Al mentions his own ex-wife and one true love, though he doesn’t elaborate on what happened to her… providing a direct set-up and contrast to “M.I.A.,” which ends rather differently.
10. Farscape: Look At The Princess Parts 2 & 3
The happy couple: Princess Katralla and Commander John Crichton, in a politically determined marriage the groom has to be blackmailed into going ahead with.
Until… Immediately after the ceremony, both bride and groom are transformed into living, conscious but immobile statues. This is all well and good and according to plan, but since Crichton is human, not Sebacean, while his new wife adopts a composed and regal pose, Crichton ends up caught mid fall, on one knee, with an agonised expression on his face. Which he will be stuck with for the next eighty years.
And then: Things go from bad to worse when the groom’s head is chopped off and very nearly dissolved in a giant vat of acid.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? No. The bride spends her allotted eighty years observing governmental procedure as a statue, but the groom is replaced with her secret boyfriend. They do manage to ensure he knocks her up first though, despite the lack of wedding night.
Body count: The ceremony itself passes without fatalities, but the bride’s brother and a Scarran ambassador are dead within days.
Wedding video highlights: Crichton and Aeryn’s own wedding later on doesn’t exactly go off seamlessly, but it terms of sheer disaster, a marriage the groom has to be threatened into and immediately after which he is beheaded definitely takes the cake. At least, at the end of it all, Crichton and Aeryn still have each other, and reason to believe that they’re biologically compatible.
9. Spider-Man: “The Wedding”
The happy couple: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, a superhero and his red headed true love.
Until… The bride’s disgruntled ex-boyfriend, egged on by the monster created by his late father, bursts in, attacks the groom and snatches the bride.
And then: Harry Osborne tries to force Mary Jane to marry him instead while Spider-man and Black Cat fight bad guys outside.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? Yes. Harry is talked down by a woman who has terrible taste in men and for some reason is in love with him, and leaves Spider-man and Mary Jane to get married in peace.
Body count: This is a children’s cartoon, so the body count is remarkably low for all the chaos that’s happening.
Wedding video highlights: There’s nothing like a slightly cheap, very cheesy nineties kids cartoon for really putting the mayhem in marriage.
8. Grimm: “Blond Ambition”
The happy couple: Monroe and Rosalee Calvert, a Blutbad and a Fuchsbau.
Until… The bride’s sister getting drunk and ruining the wedding dress proves not to be a total disaster when it’s revealed neither bride nor groom liked it that much anyway. Things continue to go downhill, however, as the bridesmaid and best man are barely speaking because he accidentally slept with a Hexenbiest wearing her skin earlier in the day, and the best man can’t see properly because he forgot the sunglasses he has to wear to disguise his Wesen-hunting nature from the Grimm-hating guests.
And then: An uninvited Grimm runs in covered in blood, at which point she is attacked by all the guests, losing the antidote she brought for the best man, who realises he has lost his Grimm super-powers. Meanwhile, his boss lies dying in an ambulance.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? They get as far as vows, pronouncement and kiss, and presumably the wedding night. Whether they’ll ever make it to an actual honeymoon remains to be seen in season four.
Body count: One, briefly. He gets better. And he wasn’t actually at the ceremony anyway.
Wedding video highlights: The Season Three finale starts out fairly light, and even a ruined wedding dress can’t bring the happy couple down. Things get progressively worse as the day goes on, however, leading to a dramatic double cliff-hanger (Nick’s loss of powers and Renard’s injuries) going into season four. But at least Rosalee and Monroe do manage to get married, so their wedding wasn’t a total disaster.
7. Torchwood: “Something Blue”
The happy couple: Gwen Elizabeth Cooper and Rhys Alan Williams. Luckily, Torchwood employee Gwen had already told her fiancée about aliens and monsters and so on before the big day.
Until… The bride wakes up on the morning of the wedding, heavily pregnant with toothy alien spawn.
And then: The bride’s extremely good-looking boss runs in right at That Line yelling “Stop!” Then one of the bridesmaids runs in screaming that a groomsman has been murdered. Then a mysterious guest turns into a pointy-toothed alien and the shooting starts. Then the alien threatens the mother of the bride. Then tries to seduce the bride. And no-one can get a mobile phone signal.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? Eventually, yes, despite the fact the bride has more chemistry with her sexy boss. And the fact he mass-roofies the entire reception to wipe their memories.
Body count: One groomsman, one toothy shape-shifter.
Wedding video highlights: Marriage in the world of Doctor Who and Torchwood can be a tricky business, interrupted by anything from Reapers to the whole of reality collapsing around the wedding party. This episode, however, provides viewers with some of the lighter moments in Torchwood’s frequently devastating second season, with Ianto shopping for maternity wedding dresses a particular highlight. And it’s good to see poor Rhys getting a chance to be a hero.
6. Smallville: “Finale”
The happy couple: Lois Lane and Clark Kent, in a long-awaited foregone conclusion.
Until… First the bride nearly calls off the wedding, then the groom has a last-minute wobble. For a moment it looks like he hasn’t turned up, but instead he’s come to walk the bride down the aisle in the absence of her farther. Which is rather sweet.
And then: It can’t last though, because the best man has been possessed by evil forces and brought a wedding ring that will hurt the groom and strip him of his superpowers. The bridesmaid manages to send it flying just in time, but then the world is nearly destroyed by a bunch of bad guys and a planet conveniently called Apokalips, and the whole thing gets abandoned for seven years.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? As of the end of the show, not quite. But they got married in the comics and – on the third try – in Lois And Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, so we’ll choose to assume these versions did eventually as well.
Body count: None at the ceremony itself, though several deaths follow shortly after.
Wedding video highlights: Smallville had already done one wedding which ended with the groom critically injured and the bride kidnapped, but Lois and Clark’s is the one following which the world nearly ends. You’d think having Superman at a wedding would ensure that all ends well, but you would be wrong. Never invite Superman to a wedding.
5. Futurama: “Bend Her”
The happy couple: Calculon and Bender, who has had a sex change and is going by the name Coilette, unbeknownst to Calculon.
Until… Bender initially plans to marry Calculon, then get divorced and take half his riches. However, he starts to develop genuine feelings for Calculon – not enough to want to marry him, but enough to want to avoid hurting him.
And then: Calculon is a soap star, so to spare his feelings, Bender and his friends stage a series of dramatic interruptions to the wedding. First the bride faints and is immediately diagnosed with African Hydraulic Fever, then it emerges that she has stolen African diamonds from the mysterious Diamonda, who knocks her to the ground, and Congo Jack, who throws a spear at her. Having made sure the spear has actually made contact with her body, Coilette dies in Calculon’s arms, and Bender reverses the sex change shortly after.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? No, but the groom pays tribute to his late fiancée by recreating the whole melodramatic saga for television.
Body count: As far as the groom knows, one. And the wedding is followed by the ‘death’ of Bender’s female alter ego.
Wedding video highlights: Any episode which showcases Bender’s softer side is worth a look, even if it is wrapped up in reams of sexist rhetoric – and the sexism is, we’re pretty confidant, deliberate satire rather than genuinely meant.
4. Doctor Who: “The Runaway Bride”
The happy couple: Donna Noble and Lance Bennett, a temp from Chiswick and a guy she met at work six months ago, in a Christmas Eve wedding.
Until… Halfway down the aisle on her father’s arm, the bride glows, screams and disappears.
And then: Despite her best efforts, the bride is unable to get back in time for the ceremony – not that this bothers any of her guests or, indeed, the groom. They are slightly more disconcerted when the entire reception is attacked by exploding baubles from a Christmas tree and robot Santas with guns.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? The groom definitely doesn’t. We like to think Donna found a friend to share a nice holiday in Morocco with.
Body count: Shortly after the wedding and still in his morning suit, the groom meets his maker; it turns out he was dosing his bride with huon particles so that she could be a ‘key’ to release a giant spider-empress’s children and let them run riot across the Earth. So one human, one giant spider-empress and thousands of giant spider children.
Wedding video highlights: Combining a wedding episode, a Christmas episode and a special guest star episode, this is surely the apex of special episodes. By turns silly and highly dramatic, the Doctor torn between angsting over the loss of Rose and cheering up poor Donna, this episode set the tone for all of Catherine Tate’s later run as Donna, establishing her loneliness and desire to get married, her rapport with the Tenth Doctor, her heart (just watch her jump between a man she barely knows and deadly weapons fire) and her wonder at the marvels of time and space.
3. Star Trek: “Balance of Terror”
The happy couple: Lt Angela Martine and Lt Robert Tomlinson, two happily in love Starfleet officers.
Until… Romulans attack the ship. We were going to make a snide comment about eeeeeevil Romulans spoiling everything, but Mark Lenard’s unnamed Romulan commander is one of the most sympathetic and well dawn Romulans that we see on Star Trek, so we won’t.
And then: Tomlinson dies. He’s the only Starfleet casualty of the whole incident, because the laws of narrative state that if your wedding is interrupted by an enemy attack, you will die. Of course, it helps if you don’t decide to hold your wedding while you’re not only serving on active duty near a volatile part of space, but actually on call at the time.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? No. The bride ends her wedding day alone in the chapel, being comforted by Captain Kirk. No, not like that. He’s a horn-dog but he does have some standards.
Body count: One human, plus the entire crew of a Romulan warbird.
Wedding video highlights: There’s not a shortage of disastrous Star Trek weddings, including Lwaxana Troi’s memorable attempt at re-marriage in The Next Generation. But this is one of the most sincere and touching episodes on this list, because there’s very little that’s impossible, fantastical or even particularly melodramatic about the tragedy that afflicts this couple. They’re not slaughtered by their guests, neither is a gangster or a clone and no one is attacked by a demon. They’re just a young couple in the military interrupted by war, with the origin of their enemies and method of warfare the only science fictional elements in the story.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Hell’s Bells”
The happy couple: Alexander Harris and Anya (formerly Anyanka) Jenkins, a former vengeance demon and a human with some serious commitment issues.
Until… An old man claiming to be Xander from the future turns up and warns him not to get married because his and Anya’s future will be miserable. As the depressed groom disappears, a brawl breaks out between his family and the bride’s friends.
And then: The old man turns out to be a demon, but the groom calls off the wedding anyway, so the bride turns back into a vengeance demon. The trouble probably really started when the groom said “nothing on earth can stop this wedding now”.
Body count: One demon.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? No. One or two last nights of ex-sex some time later is all they’re gonna get.
Wedding video highlights: There’s a lot of fun to be had with wedding hi-jinks on Buffy’s only wedding episode, including clashing families, terrible bridesmaid dresses and Buffy juggling. But the drama of the episode is just painfully horrible, with Anya telling Tara how much Xander means to her and talking about how it was only with him that she understood love and happiness while Xander walks away through the rain. Her lonely walk up the aisle is even worse. The disaster here may be a bit more low-key than some other examples on this list, but it has one of the most heart-wrenching outcomes.
1. Game of Thrones: “The Rains Of Castamere.” Obviously.
The happy couple: Edmure Tully and Roslyn Frey, in a politically determined but, for the half hour or so we see, reasonably happy-looking union.
Until… The doors slam shut and the band strike up rival family the Lannisters’ unofficial anthem, The Rains of Castamere.
And then: Frey, Bolton and Lannister men slaughter the groom’s entire half of the guest list, except the Blackfish and the groom himself.
Do the bride and groom make it to the honeymoon? No, the groom is taken prisoner, though they do get as far as the wedding night first.
Body count: Lots.
Wedding video highlights: Game Of Thrones has become notorious for its disastrous weddings, from the murder and sexual violence that formed the background to Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding in Season One, to the litany of social embarrassment and threatening behaviour that marked Tyron and Sansa’s unwanted wedding in Season Three, to the glories of Joffrey and Margaery’s nuptials in Season Four. But there could only be one choice for the number one spot, a wedding so shocking that viewers in the know gleefully filmed their unsuspecting friends’ reactions to it, so famously disastrous that random non-genre sitcoms reference it as the worst wedding of all time.*
One reason the Red Wedding is so shocking is that, despite all the evidence seen beforehand, it’s not until this moment that viewers really start to understand that in this story, truly anyone can die, even Robb Stark, heir to Eddard (we should have realised that was a bad sign) and one of the most obviously heroic characters in the show. But the other reason, of course, is the sheer brutality of it, from the opening murder of a pregnant woman by stabbing her in the stomach through widespread slaughter to end with even the noble Catelyn Stark murdering an innocent young woman before her own throat is slit. Unforgettable, certainly. Although we’ll say this for it over some other weddings here – somewhat surprisingly, both the bride and groom survive. It’s just that no one else does.
*Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fancy Brudgom