Since the 1980s, teen media has been exploring adolescent relationships to entertain audiences and keep them coming back for more. While many of these romantic liaisons are healthy and celebrated, many others are considered underdeveloped or even harmful if not depicted properly.
Bad teen romances can range from cringe-worthy (Archie and Veronica’s endgame love in Riverdale) to unexpected (Blaine and Karofsky’s brief relationship in Glee) to abusive and obsessive (most love affairs in Euphoria). Whatever the case, these teen couples have secured a place as the worst romantic relationships in the history of teen television.
10 Blaine And Karofsky Lacked Any Romantic Chemistry
Glee had its fair share of mismatched couples during its six-year run, but none was as shocking as Blaine and Karofsky’s unexpected relationship at the beginning of Season 6. The two had been enemies and even rivals for most of Glee, but a sudden meeting at a gay club seemed to push them together for at least a couple of episodes.
Blaine and Karofsky weren’t terrible together, they just lacked any romantic chemistry and were obviously set up as an obstacle to Kurt and Blaine’s endgame romance. The fact that they bonded over their shared feelings for Kurt immediately clued fans in that these two were doomed from the start.
9 Lydia And Jackson’s Relationship Was Abusive
At the beginning of Teen Wolf, Lydia and Jackson were depicted as the stereotypical popular high school couple – a pair of good-looking, rich, mean teenagers who seemed to deserve each other. As Season 1 went by, however, the façade of their perfect relationship began to fade and exposed the physical and mental abuse underneath.
To mask his insecurities, Jackson often took out his anger on Lydia by yelling at her and manhandling her with his superior strength. Their unstable romance eventually came to an end when Jackson relocated to London and later came out as gay. The two eventually reconciled and decided to cherish their newfound friendship.
8 Buffy And Riley Were Too Independent To Work As A Couple
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
When Buffy and Riley first met at UC Sunnydale, they didn’t seem that interested in each other and often found one another to be ‘peculiar’ and mysterious. Eventually, the two became close enough to start dating. They sought a sense of normalcy in the relationship that neither of them had due to their undercover jobs.
Once Buffy and Riley had revealed themselves as the Slayer and a special agent, their romance began crumbling under the pressure of their expectations for each other. After failing to save their connection, the pair broke up and went their separate ways. Riley went back to the military, while Buffy returned to her never-ending training.
7 Emily And Paige’s Romance Was Overshadowed By Bullying And Insecurity
Pretty Little Liars
Despite receiving kudos for its trailblazing LGBTQ+ representation, Pretty Little Liars has one of the worst records when it comes to same-sex couples. This is especially evident in Emily’s relationship with her fellow swimming clubmate, Paige, which was tainted by bullying, jealousy, and toxicity from the very start.
Emily and Paige’s on-again-off-again romance never really took off despite lasting five whole seasons. Whether it was Alison’s shadow or their deep insecurities hanging over them, there was always something that held them back and ruined their half-hearted attempts at a stable relationship.
6 Chuck And Blair Had A Chaotic And Unhealthy Relationship
While most Gossip Girl couples were flawed in one way or another, there’s no denying that Chuck and Blair remain the most iconic, but they had an unhealthy relationship. After they were intimate in Season 1, the two Upper East Siders just seemed unable to keep their hands off each other, even to the detriment of their own well-being and other relationships.
Though both of them were responsible for their strange liaison, Chuck was undeniably the most aggressive perpetrator. Throughout Gossip Girl, he publicly humiliated Blair, acted overly possessive and jealous whenever someone else approached her, and even traded her for a hotel as if she were a simple commodity. With this history of toxicity, it’s shocking they ended up happily married.
5 Dawson And Joey Were Not Meant For Each Other From The Start
When Dawson’s Creek premiered back in 1998, a slew of dedicated fans saw potential in Dawson’s relationship with his childhood friend, Joey. Katie Holmes and James Van Der Beek had enough chemistry for the series’ writers to nudge their characters toward romance, but this change simply proved that they were better off as friends.
Once they began dating, Dawson and Joey’s relationship became strained by constant arguing, jealousy, and even betrayal. This instability led both of them to question their feelings for each other, and they eventually broke up for good. In the end, Joey realized she was better off with Pacey, and Dawson put his love life on hold to pursue his filmmaking dreams.
4 Archie And Veronica Were Far From ‘Endgame’
Back when Riverdale was a simple teen murder mystery, the show did its best to sell Archie and Veronica as its most compelling couple, or, as Veronica infamously said in one episode, the ‘endgame’ romance in the series. They clearly had strong feelings for one another, but this didn’t stop either from cheating multiple times without any remorse.
Archie and Veronica were stuck in a vicious cycle for four seasons, suffering through various dramatic break-ups only to get back together in the heat of the moment. As a couple, the two seemed more interested in the physical side of their relationship and rarely had meaningful conversations to bond over, showing that they were more ‘in lust’ than in love with each other.
3 Dean And Rory’s Unstable Romance Annoyed Fans
Out of all the relationships in Gilmore Girls, Dean and Rory’s pairing was the most frustrating. In the beginning, they were a sweet teen couple to root for, but as they grew up and apart, their relationship became too strained and annoying for fans to support.
Dean and Rory’s vastly different ambitions and outlooks on life were what separated them in the first place, but they always found a way to rekindle their romance, even if it meant hurting others in the process. They had an affair while Dean was married to Lindsay, and Rory was so blinded by her supposed love for him that she didn’t see anything wrong with her actions.
2 Nate And Maddy’s Relationship Was Marked By Abuse And Obsessive Love
Nate and Maddy are easily the most toxic relationship to come out of any teen show in the last few years. Since Euphoria‘s darker tone allows for mature themes to be explored, the pair have become well-known for their never-ending manipulation, gaslighting, and violence.
During their turbulent relationship, Nate assaulted Maddy repeatedly, cheated on her with her best friend, and even threatened her with a loaded gun, yet Maddy still loved him. Even though they broke up in Season 2, the couple is still stuck in an unhealthy love that might return in Season 3.
1 Aria And Ezra Are The Worst Example Of The Teacher-Student Trope
Pretty Little Liars
Pretty Little Liars had no shortage of questionable couples, but Aria and Ezra’s controversial relationship definitely stomped on the competition. The reasons why they didn’t (and shouldn’t) work were endless: he was her teacher, she was a minor and he was an adult, and he romanced her to find information about her missing friend. However, the series’ writers did their best to make Aria and Ezra seem like the perfect couple.
When Aria’s parents forbid her from seeing Ezra, fans were encouraged to whine and protest alongside Aria, and to root for a relationship that caused her far more harm than good. Pretty Little Liars could’ve used this romance to criticize the student-teacher trope that plagues teen media, but it did the complete opposite by having them marry toward the end of the story.
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