From Fleabag to Friends: The most upsetting TV couple breakups of all time

There’s nothing we love more than a great TV romance. There have been some truly wonderful fictional couples over the past few decades, and thankfully, we get to watch most of them have a delightfully happy ending. 

However, for the occasional few, love’s course does not end up running smoothly and we find ourselves going through the painful motions of heartbreak with the characters. Why do fictional breakups always feel so raw?

We’ve taken a look back at some of the most memorable TV breakups of all time, and we’ve picked out our favourites - and when we say favourites, we mean the ones that made us want to curl up into a ball with a tub of ice-cream, and sob our hearts out. Have a look through these star-crossed lovers below and reminisce on the heartache:

Rory Gilmore + Jess Mariano

Credit: Warner Bros

In the Gilmore Girls fanbase, one of the most hotly-contested debates is who earned the title of being Rory’s best boyfriend - Dean, Jess or Logan? While there are positives and negatives to all three of them, I will always be a Jess girl, and their breakup hurts the most for me. Jess strives to catch Rory’s attention throughout season 2, and when the pair finally get together in season 3, everything quickly crashes and burns as Jess begins to act up. They have a heartbreaking phone call that ends it all, and while the pair have a few glimmers of hope throughout the rest of the show’s span, they never manage to bring it back together. The most upsetting thing is this fact: younger Jess didn’t deserve Rory, but older Rory doesn’t deserve Jess.

Barney Stinson + Robin Scherbatsky

Credit: CBS

It is widely agreed by fans of How I Met Your Mother that the show’s finale was an awful one - and one of the main reasons for this is the complete destruction of Barney and Robin’s relationship. Throughout the sitcom’s nine seasons, it makes you believe in their compatibility, so that when they finally get their act together and tie the knot, it's a wonderful feeling. In fact, the entire final season takes place during their wedding weekend, and so when it is cruelly revealed in the last ever episode of HIMYM that Barney and Robin got divorced, it feels like a slap in the face. Barney then ends up undoing all of his character growth and Robin seemingly reverts back to being in love with Ted. This decision by the writers was a criminal one, and it is why I always trick my brain into believing that the HIMYM finale does not exist.

Monica Geller + Richard Burke

Credit: NBC

Although there’s no doubt that Chandler is the right partner for Monica, the breakup between Monica and older eye doctor Richard always tugs at my heartstrings. Throughout the first season of Friends, it’s clear that Monica’s deepest desire is to have a loving relationship and to become a mother. When she finally meets the supposed man of her dreams in Richard, it feels too good to be true. Eventually, this ends up being the case. In the season 2 finale, the pair decide to part ways when Richard admits that he doesn’t want to have a child with Monica. Funnily enough, when Richard re-appears at the end of season 6 in an attempt to sabotage Monica and Chandler’s relationship, we, the audience, find ourselves begging Monica not to take Richard back, and urge her to seal her happy ending with Chandler. Oh, how things change!

Fleabag + The Priest

Credit: BBC / Amazon

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever get over this heartbreak. The second (and final) series of dark comedy Fleabag took viewers by surprise when Fleabag comes across a charming, witty and caring man - the only problem is that he’s a priest. It’s clear that the pair develop feelings for each other and would be a perfect match on paper. However, when they eventually cave into their desires and sleep together, Priest realises that he cannot abandon his religious vows. In that final, heartbreaking scene at Fleabag’s bus stop, we hear her admit with brutal honesty that she loves him. His response is just two words: “It’ll pass.” It’s been almost four years since Fleabag’s final episode aired, and yet the pain of this breakup still hasn’t “passed”!

Haley Dunphy + Andy Bailey

Credit: ABC

Season 5 of Modern Family introduces the character of Andy, who is hired by Jay and Gloria to look after their son Joe. When the ‘manny’ meets Jay’s granddaughter Haley, it’s clear that they have a spark - despite Haley’s insistence that she finds Andy weird and nerdy. The two quickly grow close and, unbeknownst to each other, begin to develop feelings for one another. Their relationship gets off to a rough start, and just when things are beginning to smooth out for them, Andy gets a job opportunity in Utah that he simply cannot pass up. Their courtship comes to a heartbreaking end at the airport, when Haley’s voice falters as she admits, “I think you’re the first man I’ve ever loved.” The success of actor Adam Devine in the Pitch Perfect films meant that his time on Modern Family had to be cut short - signalling the end for Haley and Andy. If only the timings had been better!