26 Love Triangles We Will Never Forget

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
No sane person has ever wanted to be part of a love triangle. But, for some reason we can’t help but want to see these completely disastrous relationships on TV. We can all agree that, in the real world, it's unsettling (to put it mildly) when someone is unable to decide between two partners — especially when it drags on for years. But, when it comes to the plot arc of a television series, the longer the indecision the better. Sure, your favorite character has been happy with his or her partner for three seasons, but come on, please bring back that old flame just in time for a season finale cliffhanger. Please.
And, with series running for years, these complicated relationships can go on forever. It almost seems like shows are competing to create the longest love triangle of all time. We've rounded up 26 of the best examples ahead. Keep reading to see how your favorite stacks up in the race for the most drawn out back-and-forth love story of all time.
(Also, be forewarned: MANY spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.)
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Photos: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
TV Show: Bones
Participants: Brennan/Booth/Hannah
Length of Love Triangle: 7 episodes

The show is called Bones after all, so naturally Temperance “Bones” Brennan won. But, at the time, it was hard to not root for Hannah’s success. She was adventurous, open with her feelings, and expressed herself well — all things Brennan is still working on a million seasons later. While there have been other love interests along the way, it’s impressive that Hannah was the only truly memorable person that came between Bones and Booth during the six seasons it took them to admit their feelings.

Winner: Brennan
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Photos: Courtesy of Lionsgate Television.
TV Show: Orange Is The New Black
Participants: Larry/Piper/Alex
Length of Love Triangle: 13 episodes*

The winner of this love triangle is everybody else. Seriously, Nicky, Poussey, Taystee, Daya, and Sophia all win because they've never made the mistake of being in a relationship with Piper. Crazy Eyes, you got lucky.

Piper can’t decide what she wants. Does she want the adventure, danger, and drama that comes with Alex? Or, does she want stability, comfort, and a life her family considers normal with Larry? It seems she doesn’t deserve either, since they've both moved on.

Winner: No one (currently)

*We have a feeling this love triangle could continue in future seasons, after all the real Piper and Larry are still together.
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Photos: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television.
TV Show: Glee
Participants: Santana/Brittany/Artie
Length of Love Triangle: 16 episodes

It’s a good thing these students very rarely had to attend class in high school, because they really only have time for three things — singing, dancing, and dramatic relationships. Santana and Brittany had a “best friends with benefits” situation while Brittany dated Artie. Brittany loved them both, but eventually picked Santana. They are supposed to be moving in together this season. But, what about Artie? This is Ryan Murphy’s world after all, so the three will probably share a magically cheap LES studio in Glee’s final season.

Winner: Santana
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: Friends
Participants: Rachel/Ross/Emily
Length of Love Triangle: 17 episodes

We waited for years for Ross and Rachel to figure it out. It took FOREVER for them to finally get it right, but Emily stood in the way for 17 episodes. It was just long enough to create one of the most iconic love triangle scenes of all time — when Ross accidentally says Rachel’s name instead of Emily’s at the wedding. Why they actually got married (even if it only lasted six more episodes) after that is still a mystery.

Winner: Rachel
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: The OC
Participants: Anna/Seth/Summer
Length of Love Triangle: 18 episodes

Summer was always going to come out on top. Anna helped Seth adapt “Confidence, Cohen” as his mantra, which in turn led him to finally win over Summer’s heart. I mean, he could recite her poem from sixth grade. (“I wish I was a mermaid, and friends with all the fish….”) That’s commitment. This love triangle almost ruined Thanksgiving, Chrismakkuh, and a Rooney concert, but Anna and Summer teaming up to make Seth decide between them was worth it.

Winner: Summer
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Photos: Courtesy of Silver Pictures Television.
TV Show: Veronica Mars
Participants: Logan/Veronica/Piz
Length of Love Triangle: 20 episodes*

Veronica and her love triangles. First it was Duncan and Logan, and then it was Logan and Piz. But, you can't help but notice both triangles have Logan in common. She tried to avoid trouble, drama, and be a “marshmallow” by dating Piz. But, that life was never really an option for her. When your best friend is murdered, your town is corrupt, and you continually get dragged into crime mysteries — all before the age of 17 — the life of simplicity is not an option. And, Logan was the only boy who really accepted Veronica at her messiest.

Winner: Logan

*This doesn’t actually get resolved until the movie — seven years later. Want to see the power of a love triangle? This Kickstarter allowed fans to finally get resolution they always wanted.
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Photos: Courtesy of BBC Wales.
TV Show: Merlin
Participants: Lance/Gwen/Arthur
Length of Love Triangle: 22 episodes

The history and literature behind this love triangle should count for 100 additional episodes. But, in just 22, we watch Lance reunite with Gwen just to give her up over and over again. This love triangle may do the best job of showing sacrifice as an act of love — most notable when Lance died in an effort to protect Arthur and keep his promise to Gwen.

Winner: Arthur
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Photos: Courtesy of NBC Universal Television.
TV Show: Friday Night Lights
Participants: Tim/Lyla/Jason
Length of Love Triangle: 25 episodes

No one stands a chance when they are competing against Tim Riggins. That messy hair, those big eyes, that giant heart that always seems to get him in trouble. We should know better, but the Riggins charm defies our better judgement. Even for good-girl Lyla. And, let’s all take a moment to consider the boldness of the writers to end this particular love triangle with an episode that involves Lyla kissing both Jason and Tim on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, in front of each other. Mexico, forever?

Winner: Tim
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Photos: Courtesy of ABC Studios.
TV Show: Scandal
Participants: Fitz/Olivia/Jake
Length of Love Triangle: 27 episodes*

First off, Olivia deserves better than these two. On one hand there is Fitz, the married President of the United States, who is constantly trying to control her life. On the other is Jake, the head of B-613, who is also trying to control her life. But, this past season’s finale had Olivia running away with Jake. It took a lot of convincing to get Jake on board, perhaps because he realized this had more to do with her father killing Fitz’s son then true love?

Winner: Jake

*The show is still in progress, so we have more Liv, Fitz, and Jake drama to come, Although, in this case, we are hoping for Liv to run far away from both of them.
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Photos: Courtesy of HBO.
TV Show: Sex And The City
Participants: Aidan/Carrie/Big
Length of Love Triangle: 29 episodes

Let’s just be upfront about something — the actual winner of Carrie’s heart was New York City and her friends. Big, and the other men in her life, in a best-case scenario came in at third place. Honestly, men kind of brought out the worst in Carrie. With Big, her efforts to impress him made her a shell of herself. And, with Aidan, she was ignoring what she really wanted, which led to her affair with Big. Ultimately, once she realized Big could "absa-fucking-lutely" embrace her flaws — and her friends — she finally got to have the man (and shoe closet) of her dreams.

Winner: Big
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Photos: Courtesy of Alloy Entertainment.
TV Show: Gossip Girl
Participants: Nate/Blair/Chuck
Length of Love Triangle: 33 episodes

Oh, Blair, the life she dreamed of and life she was actually drawn toward were two very different things. She thought she wanted to marry Nate Archibald, wear his family’s heirloom engagement ring, and live a scandal-free life of luxury. But, her true love? Chuck and their life of role play, scandal, and very big public displays of affection. We will all just forget about that whole trading Blair for a hotel thing.

Winner: Chuck
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Photos: Courtesy of ABC Family.
TV Show: Pretty Little Liars
Participants: Maya/Emily/Paige
Length of Love Triangle: 47 episodes*

Some couples really shouldn’t be together in the first place. Here are two examples. Should Emily have dated Maya, the girl living in the old room of her believed-to-be-dead best friend and former flame? Probably not. Should Emily have dated Paige, the girl who once tried to drown her? Definitely not. Yet, Emily dated both of them — resulting in tragedy. The night Emily broke up with Paige to reunite with Maya, Maya was found dead in Emily’s backyard. Yet, after a mourning period, Emily and Paige rekindled their romance.

Winner: Paige

*This writer doesn’t actually believe Maya is dead. The whole Nate St. Germain/Lyndon James stalking and killing Maya was too random and convenient of an explanation. And, it's not like anyone stays dead in Rosewood.
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Photos: Courtesy of Touchstone Television.
TV Show: Grey's Anatomy
Participants: Arizona/Callie/Mark
Length of Love Triangle: 55 episodes

Arizona was always jealous of Callie’s friendship with Mark. When Arizona and Callie fought about having children, Callie confirmed all of Arizona’s fears by running to McSteamy’s bed. And, since this is TV, of course she got pregnant. Luckily for all of the parties involved, baby Sofia ended up being a very adorable peace maker. The four of them figured out how to be one family before Mark passed away.

Winner: Arizona
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: Hart of Dixie
Participants: Lavon/Lemon/George
Length of Love Triangle: 63 episodes*

Remember when Lemon was the most annoying character on Hart of Dixie? Yeah, we do, too. But, over time her character has become complex and well-rounded. And, with that development came so many suitors. Season 3 left us with two of her past lovers finally fighting for her attention — George and Lavon. Turns out Lemon leaving on a “love” cruise was just the inspiration they needed. Who will she pick? We vote Lavon.

Winner: TBD

*Since there is at least another season of this love triangle, this number is about to get much higher.

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Photos: Courtesy of Epitome Pictures.
TV Show: Degrassi: The Next Generation
Participants: Ashley/Craig/Manny
Length of Love Triangle: 66 episodes

Oh, Degrassi. You were so good at making sure everything was as dramatic as possible, which is why middle schoolers everywhere loved you. And, you did not disappoint with the Manny, Ashley, and Craig triangle. When Craig cheated on Ashley with Manny? Heartbreaking. When Craig got Manny pregnant? Scandalous and heartbreaking. When he still couldn’t decide? Stressful and heartbreaking. And, the fact that Manny and Ashley kept letting Craig back into their lives? Probably the worst part about this triangle. But, ultimately Craig’s cocaine habit made both girls come to their senses.

Winner: No one
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Photos: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television.
TV Show: Arrested Development
Participants: Oscar/Lucille/George
Length of Love Triangle: 68 episodes

Lucille taught us that if you are going to be in love with two men, you should make sure they are identical twins. After all, pretending that Buster was George’s son, instead of the result of a tryst with Oscar, was pretty easy since they all share the same DNA. And, when George was arrested and Oscar moved in with Lucille, even the cops thought it was George. None of that really makes the sex prisoner part easier to explain though. Maybe that will finally be answered in season 5?

Winner: Oscar
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Photos: Courtesy of HBO.
TV Show: True Blood
Participants: Bill/Sookie/Eric
Length of Love Triangle: 77 episodes

At the end of season 4, Sookie said to Bill and Eric, “There’s only one way I see this ending, and it’s me walking away with neither of you.” It turns out that was some serious foreshadowing. Ultimately, Bill’s love did win in theory, he lasted longer than Eric. But, all the hints in the world couldn’t prepare us for Bill convincing Sookie to kill him in the finale, leaving Sookie to live the “normal life” that Bill promised her with some nameless man. Satisfying? Not really.

Winner: No one
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: Felicity
Participants: Ben/Felicity/Noel
Length of Love Triangle: 79 episodes

On one episode of the TV show Greek, best friends Ashleigh and Casey make our point perfectly:

Ashleigh: “You used to be this focused, driven person. When did you become this girl? Someone who sits around pining and making lists, and second guessing your choices? Paging Dr. Grey.”
Casey: “Ash.”
Ashleigh: “No, wait. You are more like Joey Potter.”
Casey: “Whoa, okay I get the point.”
Ashleigh: “No, you’re worse. You’re the F word.”
Casey: “Don't say it.”
Ashleigh: “Felicity.”

The Ben/Felicity/Noel love triangle was not the longest lasting romantic mess, but the indecision may have been the most painful to watch. Their relationship got so complicated the writers had to resort to the very logical story devices of witchcraft and time travel to clean it up.

Winner: Ben
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Photos: Courtesy of NBC Universal Television.
TV Show: The Office
Participants: Roy/Pam/Jim
Length of Love Triangle: 86 episodes

“I don’t get you Pam.” I think we all echoed Roy’s sentiment upon hearing Pam say she wasn’t going to pursue Jim after her engagement fell apart. Was Jim ever not in love with Pam? No. And, when things ended with Roy, we thought it was finally Jim’s turn. It was — for the length of one kiss, before she ran back to Roy. Luckily for everyone, by season 3, Jim and Pam were rightfully together, and Roy was off being boring and grumpy somewhere else.

Winner: Jim
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Photos: Courtesy of Alloy Entertainment.
TV Show: The Vampire Diaries
Participants: Stefan, Elena, Damon
Length of Love Triangle: 90 episodes*

Once upon a time, a girl had to decide between a "good" guy and a "bad" guy. Welcome to every show ever, including The Vampire Diaries. In this case, the bad guy is the very hot, very misunderstood Damon. And, the good guy is the very hot but slightly boring Stefan (who also happens to be Damon's brother). What makes this love triangle really stand out is that it started because Elena looks exactly like Damon and Stefan's former love, Katherine. Two brothers sharing two of the same love interests? A little excessive.

Winner: Damon
*So far. Yes, Damon “died” at the end of season 5, but how often do TV characters stay dead? I’m expecting to see Ian Somerhalder’s pretty face again this season despite any personal drama.
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: One Tree Hill
Participants: Brooke/Lucas/Peyton
Length of Love Triangle: 105 episodes

Dating is hard. Dating two best friends is harder. And, continually going back and forth between two best friends and still coming across as a “nice guy” should be impossible. However, Lucas managed it. He went back and forth at least four times. Most memorably, proposing to Peyton and trying to kiss Brooke in one night. Finally, Peyton and Lucas drove off into the sunset with their daughter (aptly named Saywer Brooke Scott). Thank goodness, because no amount of angsty artwork and music could keep both the love triangle and Lucas’ sweet-but-misunderstood good-guy trope going.

Winner: Peyton
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Photos: Courtesy of Lorimar Television.
TV Show: Family Matters
Participants: Urkel/Laura/Stephan
Length of Love Triangle: 118 episodes

Oh, the universal problem of fictional high schoolers: falling in love with someone way too cool for you. Urkel was smitten with Laura from the moment we met him in all of his bespectacled glory. And, Laura wasn’t feeling it. Welcome Stephan — a better-dressed Urkel with some smooth lines. Eventually, after some space travel (yes, space travel), Laura ended up with the boy who had loved her from day one, suspenders and all.

Winner: Urkel*

*Since Urkel and Stephan were the same person, could anyone other than Urkel have won?
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: Dawson's Creek
Participants: Pacey/Joey/Dawson
Length of Love Triangle: 119 episodes

There's no way Dawson could have won this love triangle. Pacey gave Joey a wall, a romantic summer sailing adventure, a second life for her dad’s restaurant, and freedom when he tried to let her go. What did Dawson give her? Years of whining, her dad’s jail sentence, a phone call from the other woman he was seeing, a lot of repetitive movie nights, and way too many tears.

Winner: Pacey
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Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Television.
TV Show: Gilmore Girls
Participants: Christopher/Lorelai/Luke
Length of Love Triangle: 132 episodes

For the record, there was an inner-office fight on whether to include Christopher/Lorelai/Luke or Dean/Rory/Jess. But, the show was really about the almost-perfect Lorelai. What was her biggest flaw? Well, she doesn’t “wake up like this” — she always needed a cup of coffee first, and she kept running back to Chris. But, once married, no one could deny that Luke and his coffee would always be Lorelai’s true love. Final word: Luke is the best. Christopher is the worst. (Oh, and FYI, we are all Team Jess.)

Winner: Luke
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Photos: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television.
TV Show: How I Met Your Mother
Participants: Ted/Robin/Barney
Length of Love Triangle: 194 episodes

Robin’s relationships with her two leading men started out on opposite sides of the romance spectrum. There was Ted, who whined wined and dined her, stole that blue horn, and confessed his love too early. Then, there was Barney, who considered her a great wing-woman, casually slept with her, and denied his feelings for as long as possible. While Robin marries Barney, Ted ultimately wins in the last moments of the series finale. Oh, and that blue horn returns.

Winner: Ted
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Photos: Courtesy of 90210 Productions.
TV Show: 90210 (Original)
Participants: Kelly/Dylan/Brenda
Length of Love Triangle: 287 episodes

First of all, let's congratulate 90210 for having the longest love triangle on this list. They dragged it out 287 episodes, and then continued the storyline eight years later on the spinoff (also called 90210). We were convinced Dylan made his final decision when he moved to London with Brenda. And, then surprise — he returned to pick Kelly. Their happily ever after was cut short when the next generation of crazy beautiful, commitment-challenged teenagers arrived.

Winner: Kelly*

*Really no one wins, since in the newest series, we learn Kelly and Dylan separated. It looks like Dylan really wasn’t worth the 10 seasons of pain for Kelly and Brenda.

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