This article contains spoilers for Alias, Dexter, Buffy, Mad Men, Smallville, True Blood, Chuck, Charmed, Xena, BSG, DS9 and Lost.
Such is their dominion over the act of getting down on one knee, you could be forgiven for thinking that proposals of marriage are the sole preserve of cheesy rom-coms. Not so, for a whole host of sci-fi and fantasy characters have also plighted their troths (or at least attempted to do so) on screen.
Some are chokingly romantic, some less so, some end happily ever after, some don’t, and some of those popping the question may not technically have a knee to get down on, but here they are nonetheless: the finest geek TV marriage proposals.
The Mighty Boosh – Old Gregg and Howard Moon
Not really one to put a lump in the throat this, mostly as it involves a psychotic half-fish with a Little Richard moustache and Howard Moon, a man with all the romantic allure of a breadstick.
After kidnapping him from his fishing boat and taking him to an underwater cave, Old Gregg asks Howard to take his sweet hand in marriage in exchange for his freedom. Cowardly Howard assents, but while Old Gregg goes off in search of a shoe of celebratory Baileys, his betrothed escapes in Naboo’s second-hand submarine.
Yay or nay? It’s a yes initially from Mr Moon, but he soon flees his fiancé’s downstairs mix-up faster than you can say “I’m Old Gregg”.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Xander Harris and Anya Jenkins
At the end of season five, things are looking bleak for the Scoobies. Tara’s brain has been mushed by Glorificus, Dawn’s about to be sacrificed in a ritual bloodletting, and Buffy’s preparing to go mano-a-mano with a God. While the gang readies its plan of attack, in the basement of The Magic Box, Xander asks Anya to live a long, silly life with him.
It may not quite work out as planned for Xander and Anya, but as apocalypses go, this one is surprisingly romantic.
Yay or nay? Both. A yes, and a no, as the ex-demon asks Xander to re-propose after the world doesn’t end. By the beginning of season six, that ring is on her finger.
Xena: Warrior Princess – Xena and Ares
With his impressive black leather wardrobe and even more impressive head of hair, Xena was always going to have a hard time rejecting Ares, the God of War who wanted to make her his warrior queen.
More of an antagonist than a paramour, Ares gets down on one knee in “Soul Possession,” but Xena responds with characteristic violence and continues her path towards the greater good.
Yay or nay? It’s definitely a no, though you can tell she’s tempted.
Smallville – Clark Kent and Lana Lang
Some might prefer the Clark and Lois proposal, since it’s the one that eventually stuck, but like it or not, Lana Lang was the more prominent love interest during Smallville‘s ten year run, and there’s a reason that Clark’s spectacular proposal was saved until the show’s 100th episode.
Having had more ups and downs than a superpowered yo-yo, Clark finally got his dream girl in season five, and it didn’t take long for him to whisk her away to his fortress of solitude, tell her his well-guarded secret, and create an engagement ring with his heat-vision. What more could a girl ask for?
Yay or nay? Initially a yes, but as Clark’s actions cause Lana’s accident, he turns back time to wipe the slate clean meaning no wedding bells for these two.
Battlestar Galactica – Samuel Anders and Kara Thrace
(see also: Zak Adama and Kara Thrace; Billy Keikeya and Anastasia Dualla; Galen Tyrol and Cally Henderson; Lee Adama and Anastasia Dualla. They sure loved popping the question up there in space)
With Caprica being destroyed, cylons walking amongst them, weirdo religious leaders prophesying all kinds of nonsense and someone having chopped the corners off of all their paper, you’d think the crew of the Battlestar Galactica would have enough on their plates not to worry about marriage. Apparently not, as in the space of four seasons there are at least five proposals.
Pre-Caprica attack, Starbuck was proposed to by Zak Adama, who went on to meet an unfortunate end, then years later she snuck off to propose to and marry Samuel Anders after a night with Zak’s brother Lee. Billy proposed to and was rebuked by Dee before he was killed, while Dee went on to marry Zak’s brother Lee Adama. The Chief proposed to and married Cally before she met her own unfortunate end involving an air lock and a nasty cylon with a penchant for trouser suits.
Yay or nay? According to the order above: yay, yay, nay, yay, yay. Of the five proposals, only three weddings took place, none of which lasted the show.
Lost – Jack Shephard and Kate Austen
If you managed to stick with Lost for the length of time it took for Jack and Kate to get off the island and plight their troths to one another, then you’re a more patient person than I (who jumped ship about the time that French woman whose hair was in dire need of a hot oil treatment tipped up).
Friends and a YouTube clip assure me though that Jack pops the question to Kate in season four. Not that any of it really matters, because it turns out they were all dead, or imaginary, or in purgatory, or living in a cupboard under the stairs or something, weren’t they?
Yay or nay? She says yes on the YouTube clip. After that point, you’re on your own.
Charmed – Piper Halliwell and Leo Wyatt
One of Charmed‘s stronger aspects was the forbidden romance between middle sister Piper and her dreamy guardian ‘Whitelighter,’ Leo. Piper was the good girl of the show, and it was a romance viewers got behind wholeheartedly, following the pair as they went through hell (sometimes, quite literally).
Season three’s marriage proposal wasn’t their most romantic moment, however as, stuck for time and desperate to avoid the wrath of his bosses, Leo gets down on one knee in the toilet, making for a thoroughly peeved girlfriend.
Yay or nay? It’s a yes, but the couple are subjected to a ton of misery before actually getting to walk down the aisle.
The Simpsons – Homer Simpson and Marge Bouvier
Fittingly for a list of geek TV proposals, the catalyst for Homer asking Marge for her hand is a night of post-The Empire Strikes Back passion. After hooking up at a miniature golf course, Marge discovers she’s up the duff, prompting Homer to pop the question.
Yay or nay? It’s a definite yes from the knocked-up Marge and a quickie wedding for the pair, but it’s not long before financial worries cause Homer to skip town. The couple’s reunion at the Gulp ‘n’ Blow has to include the most romantic use of an onion ring in the history of television.
True Blood – Sookie Stackhouse & Bill Compton
What with all the murders, orgies and revelations of mystical powers going on in Bon Temps, Louisiana, there’s little room left for good old fashioned romance. At 170-odd years of age though, being old fashioned is more or less Bill Compton’s speciality, and it’s he who proposes to Sookie in an upscale French restaurant at the end of season two. Unfortunately for Sookie, her supernatural paramour is spirited away by werewolves before she can give him her answer, and over the following seasons the couple go through more break-ups and make-ups than Ross and Rachel. The course of true love never did run smooth…
Yay or nay? It’s a yes, but thanks to those pesky kidnappers Bill doesn’t get to hear Sookie say it.
Alias – Sydney Bristow and Michael Vaughn
Based primarily on 90s spy-fi La Femme Nikita, the central romance between Sydney and Vaughn was always going to come to the forefront sooner or later. Assigned as her handler at the beginning of the series, the two soon developed romantic feelings for each other (don’t they always), even though Vaughn was actually married to fellow agent Lauren. After shooting his wife to stop her killing Sydney at the end of the third season, the couple didn’t have a very nice time, before finally reigniting their romance a couple of years later. The proposal comes at the end of season four, but the actors’ real-life break-up put a spanner in the works during later seasons.
Yay or nay? Sydney says yes, before a badly-timed car crash ruins their plans for a romantic trip away from CIA meddling.
Mad Men – Don Draper and Megan Calvet
Okay, so Mad Men is perhaps not technically a “geek” show, but it’s so good it inspires infinite geekery from its many fans.
The writers of Mad Men’s season four finale executed a rug-pull of sorts on its audience when Don Draper popped the question to Megan in a California hotel room. Proposing to his twenty five year old secretary was a rash move from Don that managed to be both surprising and clichéd at the same time. Is Megan cut from the same cloth as Jane Sterling, a nubile catcher of wealthy husbands, or is she who Don needs to finally feel like himself, fans asked at the time? Neither, it turned out.
Yay or nay? She says yes, but hindsight proves that it wasn’t really written in the stars, this one. Joan and Peggy were spot on in their cynicism.
Dexter – Dexter Morgan and Rita Bennett
For those who don’t watch the show, it might be useful to know that Dexter kills people in his spare time. Dexter follows its title character as he expertly hides his secret identity, and one of the main anchoring points in this ‘normal’ life is girlfriend Rita. The moment in which Dexter decides to propose comes after years of personal growth, and the moment is as much an attempt to keep the perfectly crafted lie intact, as it is about finding a family. With the subsequent marriage ending in tears, leaving Dexter with baby Harrison to take care of, the proposal remains a perfect example of the character’s ambiguous motives.
Yay or nay? It takes some convincing, and a big speech, but Dexter convinces Rita that he’s sincere, and she accepts his proposal immediately. Not that things go smoothly from thereon in…
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Jadzia Dax and Worf
Some years after Worf proposed to and was rejected by former mate K’Ehleyr in The Next Generation, he finally gets a yes from Deep Space Nine’s Dax. Well, all those missions and bat’leth training sessions in the holosuites had to be leading somewhere…
Worf and Dax’s wedding was a theatrical affair, full of fire, ceremonial drums and stage fighting. It certainly outdoes Will and Deanna’s ceremony in Nemesis, even if Whoopi Goldberg was on the guest list for that one and Data sang a song.
Yay or nay? She had a wobble just before, but those two hearts were destined to beat as one.
Chuck – Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker
In the series finale we finally got to see how everything would work out for Chuck‘s golden couple, but it wasn’t long ago that the kick-ass spy team were once so on-again, off-again that each week was known to give the viewer mild whiplash. After years of dancing around their relationship, whether fake or real love, Chuck finally decided to get down on one knee in the fourth season. Of course, nothing’s that simple when you’re a government agent, and it took until the mid-season break, when we all thought the show had been cancelled, for him to finally pop the question at the birth of his niece.
Yay or nay? We don’t actually get to hear the answer, but no one thought for a moment that the answer would be no. Watching the proposal at a distance, it’s clear that the answer is a big fat yes.
Merlin – Arthur and Gwen
We waited the best part of four series for it to happen, then in the way of such things, it all went a bit tits up as soon as it did. After blindfolding her all romantic like, Arthur lead Gwen to her home, (which he’d filled with a perilous number of candles for all that exposed timber) and asks her the question. This being Merlin, things don’t go smoothly and just days later a heartbroken Arthur banishes Gwen for committing an act of magically assisted betrayal.
It takes the second post-banishment proposal to actually end in a wedding and to see the couple reigning as King and Queen in season five.
Yay or nay? A definite yay on both occasions.