TV’s Most Infuriating Love Triangles

Love triangles are a crucial part of romantic TV shows. But some are more infuriating than others.

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Aidan (John Corbett) on And Just Like That
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn | Max

Most of us can agree that TV shows thrive on their romantic storylines, but over the years love triangles have increasingly taken over TV’s romantic storylines and divided fans. 

Iconic love triangles have become a commonly used trope to hook viewers in. There is nothing like declaring who the heroine should be with and having to stick with them through the rollercoaster of intense declarations of love and breakups. But despite how annoying and cliché love triangles can be, they lead to some of the best TV moments. So, naturally we decided to take a look at TV’s most infuriating love triangles.

Scandal – Olivia Pope, President Fitzgerald Grant, and Jake Ballard

Scandal is a show built on murder, government conspiracies, and the love triangle among Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), President Fitzgerald “Fitz” Thomas Grant III, (Tony Goldwyn), and Jake Ballard (Scott Foley). The seven-season run of Scandal was iconic as fans anxiously watched to see how Olivia navigated her romantic options each week.

Team Fitz supporters would argue it was the love between Fitz and Olivia that was evident from the first episode, but Jake and Olivia had great moments of both love and friendship and sometimes that was more needed in a relationship. Their relationship however was founded on the fact that they both had complicated history’s which always seemed to come back around to Olivia’s father, Rowan whom Jake saw as a substitute father. Seeing Olivia go back and forth between Fitz and Jake for seven long seasons allowed viewers to watch some of the best and most frustrating moments of the series.

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One Tree Hill – Lucas Scott, Peyton Sawyer, and Brooke Davis

One of the longest-running teen dramas, One Tree Hill had no shortage of great romances. A key main relationship in the show’s early seasons was the love triangle featuring Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton), Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray), and Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush). While Peyton and Lucas end up together in the end, the fact that Lucas and Brooke were each other’s first loves made for a juicy love triangle and also contributed towards a lot of character development for Brooke as a character. However, in the end the whirlwind romance of Brooke and Lucas was no competition for the complicated but rewarding journey that Lucas and Peyton go on in the series.

Gilmore Girls – Rory Gilmore, Jess Mariano, Dean Forester, and Logan Huntzberger

 Another TV show known for its romances is Gilmore Girls. When discussing how toxicity is inherent in teenage love triangles you cannot have the discussion without mentioning the romances of Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel). Her first romantic relationship with Dean Forester (Jared Padalecki) is hardly worth mentioning not only because, in the competition between Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) and Dean, Jess was clearly the superior guy. But because any potential Dean and Rory had as a couple was ruined in season four when Dean cheated on his wife with Rory.  

However, the later seasons of Gilmore Girls saw an even bigger love triangle play out involving Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry) and Jess, which to this day has fans divided over who Rory should be with. While Jess and Rory had a lot in common, Jess was never the best boyfriend. But it’s easily argued that Logan was Rory’s best boyfriend as he got her out of her comfort zone and supported her when she dropped out of school. All of Rory’s love triangles are toxic at times but after the revival it’s clear the most infuriating element of these love triangles is Rory herself.

The Good Wife – Alicia Florrick, Will Gardner, and Peter Florrick

For many, the Will-Alicia-Peter triangle was an unnecessary love triangle. The choice seemed pretty easy, but for Alicia (Julianna Margulies) it took five seasons for her to realize who she was meant to be with and by then it was way too late. The end to Will Gardner’s (Josh Charles) journey on the show was something none of us could see coming but it only solidified the fact that The Good Wife love triangle was one of the most frustrating to ever grace our TV screens. 

There are so many questions regarding this love triangle that never made any sense. Why were fans put through all the pain and complexity of Will and Alicia’s relationship for it to end so tragically? Was anyone ever truly Team Peter (Chris Noth)? Even after Will left the show it seemed that too much pressure was put on finding Alicia a suitable love interest to reconstruct another love triangle.

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Isabel “Belly” Conklin, Jeremiah Fisher, and Conrad Fisher

Prime Video’s hottest TV show is a coming-of-age story, which is based on a book series of the same name. The Summer I Turned Pretty follows Belly Conklin (Lola Tung) as she explores her feelings for her childhood friends and brothers Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah Fisher (Gavin Casalegno). The first two seasons of the show have taken viewers on a rollercoaster as both siblings deal with grief as well as heartbreak while trying to fight for Belly. Despite teenage love triangles arguably being the most frustrating it’s easy to understand why Belly has a hard choice choosing between Conrad, the guy she’s been in love with since they were children and her best friend Jeremiah. However, if the series does follow the books, season three is bound to smash this so far equal love triangle apart.

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The Vampire Diaries – Elena Gilbert, Damon Salvatore, and Stefan Salvatore

Who doesn’t love a supernatural love triangle? If the fact both Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) love interests were vampires and brothers wasn’t interesting enough the show added in the extra element of the fact both brothers were initially attracted to her because she looked – exactly – like their ex-Katherine. The weirdness of this love triangle went on throughout all eight seasons of the show even when it became clear as day that Elena had fallen in love with Damon (Ian Somerhalder) while dating his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley). Not even the show ending has stopped fans from debating whether Elena chose the right brother.

 Sex and the City – Carrie Bradshaw, John James “Mr. Big” Preston, and Aidan Shaw

 After years of many ups and downs, Sex and the City’s Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) do eventually get married before he meets an unfortunate fate in the show’s revival And Just Like That. In the original series, Carrie kept going back and forth between down-to-earth Aidan (John Corbett) and the emotionally unavailable Mr Big. Carrie and Big’s relationship is a toxic relationship but the show continued to try and make viewers fall in love with them as a couple and when viewers finally accepted Carrie’s decision Big died. The fact she goes back to Aidan in And Just Like That makes the whole love triangle we suffered through in Sex and the City even more insufferable.

Gossip Girl – Blair Waldorf, Chuck Bass, and Nate Archibald

Every good love triangle needs a bad boy and for Gossip Girl they introduced Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) as the perfect alternative to the good Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford). What made the triangle even juicier was Chuck and Nate were supposedly best friends. However, during Nate and Chuck’s fight for Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) it seemed less focused on love and more on them being able to say they were the superior guy on the Upper East Side. So if you want to talk about the true love pairing of Gossip Girl, forget about Chuck and Blair. It’s really all about Blair and Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley).

Grey’s Anatomy – Meredith Grey, Derek Shepherd, and Addison Montgomery

You cannot talk about love triangles without mentioning Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) who from the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy was in a love triangle without even knowing it. The season one finale when Addison (Kate Walsh) shows up and we find out that Derek (Patrick Dempsey) had been married the whole time opened the door for so many possibilities for where this love triangle could go, but ultimately it fell flat as even when Derek and Addison tried to work on their marriage and Meredith tried to date someone else the pair kept coming back to each other. In the end, fans were left counting down the episodes until Meredith and Derek reunited properly. 

Honorable mentions:

Hart of Dixie – Zoe Hart, Wade Kinsella, and George Tucker

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How I Met Your Mother – Robin Scherbatsky, Ted Mosby, and Barney Stinson

My Life With The Walter Boys – Jackie Howard, Cole Walter, and Alex Walter

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Spike, Buffy Summers, and Angel

The Buccaneers – Nan St. George, Theo, Duke of Tintagel, and Guy Thwarte