"I feel like I'm dating my best friend!"
You've heard your buddies drop that time-honored cliché about their significant others, I bet. That's because when you share so much with a person — the same interests, the same experiences, the same dreams and ambitions, the same level of emotional intimacy — the line between friend and partner can blur considerably.
It's no wonder, then, that "friends who realize they feel something more for each other" is one of the most popular tropes in pop culture. Not every friendship can or even should blossom into a romantic relationship, of course, but sometimes it's so satisfying when it does. In honor of National Best Friends Day (June 8), let's take a look at some of the most popular platonic couples in pop culture — and how much more awesome they would be if they actually started dating.
Elle Woods and Vivian Kensington, "Legally Blonde"
It's a tale as old as time! First, Dumb Man dumps Girl #1 in favor of Girl #2. Then Girl #1 and Girl #2 enter a terrible romantic rivalry, until they realize that they're both actually pretty cool people who enjoy one another's company. Finally, they both kick Dumb Man to the curb and become best friends forever.
All that's missing is the logical conclusion to the trope: Girl #1 and Girl #2 fall in love themselves. Elle and Vivian are already in the empowering best friends stage, and let's face it, Luke Wilson isn't exactly bringing a whole lot to the table, so it's real easy to throw him to the curb.
Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope, "Parks and Recreation"
Despite the fact that this pair is "tragically heterosexual" and their almost-romantic-but-not-really love for each other was often played for laughs by the douches (well, just the one douche, named The Douche) who automatically assume the two are lesbians, there's no denying that Ann and Leslie have an inescapable chemistry with one another — and one that pales in comparison to the ones both have with their various love interests throughout the show.
Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir, "Community"
Troy and Abed have a connection that, like the two of them as characters, goes beyond the conventions of modern storytelling. It's such a potent friendship that it wasn't even actually supposed to happen — Troy was supposed to become friends with Chevy Chase's character, Pierce, according to showrunner Dan Harmon, but Danny Pudi and Donald Glover were such fast friends that their chemistry couldn't help but spill over into the show itself.
And what chemistry it was. I have had breakups less emotionally devastating to me than the episode where Abed and Troy have to part from one another in the fifth season. These two nerds belong together.
Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, "Rizzoli and Isles"
Executive producer Janet Narano once told TV Guide that "Rizzoli and Isles have been heterosexual from the first episode," but that certainly hasn't stopped fans from shipping the two female leads from the moment they appeared. And why shouldn't they? Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander are incredible together, and have even copped to playing up their connection on screen.
There was even an episode in the show's second season where they both pretended to be a couple to get rid of a pushy male suitor. Are you kidding me, "Rizzoli and Isles?" That is literally how 70% of all fanfiction starts. First you pretend to be a couple, and then it becomes real.
Rory Gilmore and Paris Gellar, "Gilmore Girls"
Of everyone on this list, Rory and Paris are probably the only two to actually, canonically kiss one another. Of course, Paris only initiated the kiss because she wanted to get the full Spring Break experience, and Rory reacted pretty badly, loudly proclaiming that Paris wasn't her type (but let's be real, non-consensual kissing doesn't exactly put any of us in a good position).
But moving past their disastrous first romantic encounter, you can't deny that Rory and Paris' friendship brings out the best in both of them, and that the tension between them is palpable. Remember that time in the first season when Paris taunted Rory at Chilton by reciting an entire Shakespearean sonnet about the constant nature of true love? And then Rory and Paris' friendship became the most constant relationship in the entire show? IT'S FATE, I tell you. FATE.
Elphaba and Glinda, "Wicked"
When I first listened to the "Wicked" soundtrack at the tender age of 13 — before seeing the musical — I assumed that Glinda and Elphaba's hatred of one another would be caused by their love triangle with Fiyero, the lead male character.
But looking back, Fiyero barely even factored into their friendship at all, much less their falling out with one another — and every single one of their duets with each other, from "What Is This Feeling" (a parody of Love At First Sight tropes) to "For Good" (basically the most perfect breaking up anthem of all time) is a stronger love song than the songs Fiyero sings with either of them. Which is saying something, because "Just For This Moment" is my jam.
Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, "Captain America"
So much has been written about Steve and Bucky's star-crossed, time-traveling super-soldier love, so I will be brief: their relationship to one another is at the crux of all three "Captain America" films, and it is the deepest and most meaningful friendship in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. It's no wonder they were the most reblogged Marvel ship on Tumblr in 2015.
But also, Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, "Captain America"
Listen, all I’m saying is that if Bucky ends up being The One That Got Away and decides never to leave his Wakandan cryogenic tube for fear of all the terrible pain he’s caused Steve, Sam is a caring sweetheart who would be more than willing to let Steve cry on his shoulder and also then maybe fall into a different, supportive, comfortable kind of love together. #TeamSam.
Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens, "Hamilton"
Okay, okay, we know: despite the fact that Lin-Manuel Miranda's versions of the Founding Fathers are very different than their historical counterparts, Alexander Hamilton was a real person and it’s weird to wish he’d made out with another person who was also very real.
Or is it? Hamilton scholars have actually long wondered about his relationship with John Laurens. Says Ron Chernow in the book that inspired the musical: “As the war progressed, Hamilton wrote to Laurens with such unbridled affection that one Hamilton biographer, James T. Flexner, has detected homoerotic overtones in their relationship."
Chernow is quick to point out that eighteenth century letters were often written in an embellished style, however, and that sodomy was a capital offense, so there would not be any evidence of a relationship even if one did take place. But "at the very least,” he notes, "we can say that Hamilton developed something like an adolescent crush on his friend.”
Jessica Jones and Trish Walker, "Jessica Jones"
Trish Walker is the only person in the entire first season of "Jessica Jones" that Jessica truly loves, even though Jessica never really says it (unless she thinks they're in danger). Obviously the two have a long history with one another as teenage foster siblings and lifelong friends, but it's not hard to imagine that love might grow into something more romantic down the line — or that maybe it already had at some point in their past.
Prince Bubblegum and Marceline, "Adventure Time"
They might just be cartoon characters, but there's no denying that Princess Bubblegum and Marceline have some intense chemistry with each other. A lot of people interpret their rivalry-turned-friendship as evidence of them already having dated in the past, including Marceline's voice actress Olivia Olson, and over the past seven seasons, their relationship has grown in really interesting and nuanced ways. Basically all that's left is for them to declare their eternal love!
Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, "Lord Of The Rings"
I will never forget the first time I realized that Frodo and Sam were destined to be together forever. It was at a Girl Scout summer camp in 2002, and an older, cooler girl in my bunk — I knew she was cool because she made armbands for herself out of socks — shared with me her collection of risqué "Lord of the Rings" fanfiction that she had printed out and taken with her because she'd known there'd be no internet access. A good chunk of that fanfiction had been written by "The Mortal Instruments" author Cassandra Clare. The '00s were a weird time.
Neither I nor Cassandra Clare nor any of those other fanfic writers were the first to notice just how gorgeous and pure and good Frodo and Sam's friendship was, of course. In the books, they hold hands often, declare their love for one another, and kiss one another on the forehead — and while none of these is clinching proof that they were meant to be a couple ("The Lord of the Rings" features a lot of strong male friendship), it certainly doesn't hurt that they're just so good at it together.
Dean Winchester and Castiel, "Supernatural"
This one shouldn't even really count; Dean and Castiel have never just been friends in the first place and everybody knows it. Literally from the second Castiel gripped him tightly and raised him from perdition, the two have had an intense chemistry that simply can't be denied — and the writers of the show know it, which is why they keep alluding to the two being in love all the time.
Korra and Asami, "The Legend Of Korra"
Whoops, too late, they're already dating. See? This is the logical conclusion to the "two girls become friends over a guy they were both dating" storyline. Take notes, "Legally Blonde."