There are a certain set of star-crossed TV characters who tumble across the episodes tortuously falling in and out of love. As they break up, and make up, and break up for good, but then actually get back together again, their trials and tribulations pull at our heart strings until it's tough to stand the possibility of yet another failed reconciliation. When it's finally over with a happy ending or tragic heartbreak, not even YouTube mash-ups of all the love scenes set to Adele songs are enough to remedy what these couples have put us through over the years.
For better or worse, we bring you: the most exhausting relationships on television.
Fitz and Olivia Pope, "Scandal"
Just to clarify: Fitz is the president of the United States. Have his chief of staff and her gladiators not enunciated that clearly enough for us already? From its very inception, Fope was an adulterous wrecking ball. Aside from the problematic power dynamic and fact that Fitz is married, these two are emotionally mismatched. When he's not being manipulative and terrible, Fitz sits in the Oval office, drinking whisky and scribbling "Fitzgerald Pope" on his official stationary. By season three of the struggle, he is ultimately an eyebrow-less overlord, hell bent on using "stolen moments" to turn the fiercest woman in Washington into a sniveling sack of vulnerability.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 8
The fact that the president of the United States murdering a supreme court justice is only a minor plot point compared to Fitz and Olivia's relationship arc should be proof enough this is absolutely not meant to be. With each unnecessary rekindling, Fitz is destroying not only Olivia's confident resolve, but the effectiveness of Pope & Associates. As Olivia would say, "End. It."
Ross and Rachel, "Friends"
As The Nerve's Ben Kallen once wrote, "When the producers of 'Friends' decided this egotistical nerd and selfish princess were made for each other, they couldn't possibly have imagined the tortures the couple (and the audience) would go through before their long-awaited, completely tacked-on 'happy ending.'" Whoa, those are beloved characters you are hurling insulting archetypes at there, Ben! Although, even the most dedicated friend of "Friends" would have to admit that the decade of Ross and Rachel crap went on, like, eight years too long.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 6
The show ends of, course, with Ross and Rachel's long-awaited happy ending. The struggles are not quite justified, but it's definitely quells the pain. More importantly, Jennifer Aniston told The Hollywood Reporter R & R would "100%" still be together today. "They have more kids!"
Carrie and Brody, "Homeland"
The very thought of a C.I.A. operative falling for a terrorist is exhausting, never mind the fact that Carrie and Brody's on-again, off-again roller coaster is also punctuated by deliberation over whether or not Brody is an actual terrorist. Come to think of it, Barrie might actually be more unrealistic than Fope. Carrie's entire life is the C.I.A., and the fact that she would consider risking that for a few make-out sessions in the woods is insultingly ridiculous.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 9
Watching Carrie endure her jerky convulsions over Brody is so painful that even cameos by Mandy Patinkin's beard can't stop the hurt. With the CIA all but falling apart, it's time to pop some pills, binge drink white wine and get over it.
Ted and Robin, "How I Met Your Mother"
Ted and Robin are annoying mostly because Ted is annoying. Uncomfortably telling his kids about pretty much every sexual escapade he ever has ever had basically consists of Robin, Someone Else, Robin, Robin, Someone Else, Robin, Robin, Robin, Someone Else, Robin. And then we "meet the mother" ... and, after all that gratuitous tumultuousness, it's Someone Else.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 10
The narrative abilities of Future Ted Mosby only make already superbly annoying relationship worse. Your kids know you are not going to marry the person you are referring to as "Aunt Robin," Ted. Go make up more awkward euphemisms for smoking pot.
Elliot and J.D., "Scrubs"
As they went from scrubs to white coats, Elliot and J.D. kept "figuring out" that they were right for each other ... and then almost immediately figuring out they were wrong for each other. To be fair, if J.D. hadn't broken it off, we would never have had those delightful girlfriend cameos from Mandy Moore, Elizabeth Banks, and Tara Reid. By the end of the show, even the Janitor realized J.D. and "blonde doctor" were meant to be.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 7
The writers actually had a "running joke" that Elliot and J.D. would end up sleeping together at least once a season for the first three. While Jelliot did, at times, feel like a punchline, there was something was really genuine about the flash forward featured in the series finale.
Go on, skip to 5:30 and try not to cry.
Chuck and Blair, "Gossip Girl"
Ah, Chair. These two marvelous characters were evil because they were super rich and super bored ... and they kept sabotaging their relationship for pretty much the same reason. Chuck and Blair ended up being weirdly perfect for each other, in the way that only beautiful, entitled Upper East Siders can be, but the more complexly arbitrary break-ups made even Dan and Serena's lovesick antics look good.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 4
Whether friends, enemies, lovers, business partners, and eventually husband and wife, Chair always kept things entertaining. By the time they endure their second and third high-profile divorce, their children will be used to it, anyway.
Rayna and Deacon, "Nashville"
To be fair, these two actually called things off in a recent episode, but it took a car crash and a coma for the "Queen of Country" to see the light. At times, Rayna and Deacon feel so right, but then they feel so wrong again, before feeling right again and then having to grapple with surprise paternity. At the end of the day, all the smoldering eye contact in the Grand Ole Opry can't save these crazy kids.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 6
Rayna is too busy building a record label and repairing her family to deal with Deacon's sober impression of a drunk man. Although, their elevator kiss was good. You have to give them that.
Carrie and Big, "Sex and the City"
After the show ended, I wondered ... would Carrie and Big break up and make up ever again? And then they did, and it was called the "Sex and the City" movie. Their struggle was so palpable, it was easy to agree with whiny Miranda, when she told Carrie enough was enough.
FRUSTRATION LEVEL: 7
Carrie and Big's rocky relationship eventually worked itself into a satisfying fairy tale, but the double affair and breaking of Aiden's heart was a lot to handle, even for the biggest Big fan. That handsome, furniture-making, dog-owning sweetheart really was the perfect man, but he wasn't perfect for Carrie, and maybe that's the point.