For whatever reason, writers and producers choose to toy with our emotions. Okay, they probably have a better reason than that, but their reluctance to pair couples who clearly need to be together can be frustrating and, ultimately, disappointing, especially when all hope is erased.
As fans, we invest in our favorite shows. Not just our time but our dedication. We root for the heroes and heroines, and wish the villains would fade away. And, as some of the characters tip ever so precariously closer to crossing the line from friendship to romance, we cross our fingers...all to no avail, like in the case of these five couples.
1. Emily Prentiss and Aaron Hotchner (Criminal Minds)
No one watching this couple could deny the chemistry. Special Agent Emily Prentiss (#PagetBrewster) and her straight-laced, often stern-faced boss, Aaron Hotcher (#ThomasGibson) were two souls drifting toward one another during the five seasons they shared on #CriminalMinds. They understood one another, comforted one another, and seemed to get each other. And the looks they traded sizzled with electricity.
Tumblr and Twitter pages sprang up to celebrate even the smallest of hints of romance, and the fan fiction got more than a little edgy. But writers dawdled, and Paget Brewster decided to leave the series at the end of Season 7. She has since returned but only to take the place of the departed Hotcher after Gibson was unceremoniously terminated from the series. Our shipper hearts will never be the same.
2. Olivia Benson and Elliott Stabler (Law and Order: SVU)
For 12 long seasons, Oliver Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliott Stabler (Christopher Meloni) shared the screen as powerhouse detectives on Law and Order: SVU. They also shared one of the best friendships on network television with a palpable connection that made fans salivate for more.
Alas, Stabler was married — and even though his love for Benson was clear (whether platonic or emotional, we'll never know), he stayed true to his marriage. We couldn't fault him for that, but that didn't stop us from fantasizing about what this couple could have created had they been allowed to explore a relationship. And, let's be honest, when Stabler was wrestling with the potential ending of his marriage, many fans held their breaths in anticipation of what they considered to be a perfect union.
Stabler ended up leaving the series after Season 12, and fans were left with a hole in our hearts. #LawandOrderSVU would never be the same.
3. Stella Bonasera and Mac Taylor (CSI:NY)
Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) and Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) had a special relationship on CSI:NY. As his second-in-command of the New York Crime Lab, Stella worked closely with Mac, and they kept the fans on the edge of their seats with the "will they or won't they?" question. Writers dangled the prospect of a more intimate relationship over our heads for six seasons.
Every look, every smile and every touch set our hearts to hoping because this much chemistry should not have been wasted. But our desires were not rewarded when Melina Kanakaredes decided to leave the series at the end of Season 6. Many faithful viewers still haven't recovered.
4. Dr. Rachel Scott and Captain Tom Chandler (The Last Ship)
In Season 1 of #TheLastShip, Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) was happily married, and Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) was onboard the Nathan James to find a cure for the disease that had wiped out over half of the world. But in the midst of the chaos and danger, there was a connection between Tom and Rachel that couldn't be denied.
After Captain Chandler's wife died, viewers saw that as an opening to a love story between the commanding officer and the doctor. Their one and only kiss rattled our screens and left us wanting more. But we were devastated to learn Dr. Scott hadn't survived the bullet that had ended Season 2, and we were left wondering why. And crying more than a little.
5. Penelope Garcia and Derek Morgan (Criminal Minds)
This couple was simply magical on screen. Special Agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and IT genius Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) gave us eleven sweet seasons of teasing, flirting and hugs that highlighted their "impossible-to-be-replicated" chemistry. From the first time he called her "baby girl" to their final moment together when Derek assured her she would always be the original baby girl, this couple had an onscreen presence that demanded unity.
The writers didn't listen to our screams, and after a harrowing kidnapping in Season 11, Derek Morgan left the Behavioral Analysis Unit to spend time with his new family, leaving Garcia and fans around the globe heartbroken.
More than a few fans are still trying to come to terms with the loss of these potential couples, especially when we've suffered through others than simply weren't meant to be. Long after these shows have ended, viewers will still be wondering what might have been.