There’s nothing more satisfying than a storybook romance, but TV junkies far and wide know that not every couple on the small screen gets to live happily ever after.
Storylines change, cast members leave, spinoffs get greenlit, and the next thing you know, your favorite ship has well, sailed away (pardon the pun).
In honor of all the couples who could never be for one reason or another, we’ve complied a list of 10 of the most tragic television heartbreaks in recent history.
Don’t forget to grab the tissues before you read on — this list is bound to dredge up some sad memories!
1. Derek Shepherd and Meredith Grey — Grey’s Anatomy
Grey’s Anatomy is certainly known for it’s tear-jerker episodes, and while there’s been no shortage of heartache on the show, one doomed romance that we’ll never be over is that of Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey). After all, theirs is the one that started it all, so maybe that’s why we almost couldn’t bare to watch the moment when Derek was suddenly killed off during the tail end of season 11. The tragic moment in which Meredith has to decide to take Derek off of life support still brings tears to our eyes — and the fact that Derek continues to narrate the whole scene until he can’t anymore is what makes the entire moment so ridiculously tragic.
2. Rose Tyler and The Tenth Doctor — Doctor Who
If there’s one relationship that’s sure to have Whovians reaching for the tissues, it’s that of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant). You could argue that Rose gets her happy ending at the tail end of season 4 when The Doctor sends a half-human regeneration of himself into the parallel universe Rose has been exiled to, but in our eyes, the moment is bittersweet at best. Despite the fact that Rose now has a Doctor of her own that can grow old with her, it’s still heartbreaking to watch the original Doctor walk away from a companion he cares so deeply for.
3. Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert — The Vampire Diaries
As much as we loved Stelena, the thing we loved about the Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) relationship is that they experienced so much character growth when they were together. That’s probably why it was so heartbreaking to see Damon say goodbye to Elena at the tail end of season 6. Of course, because Elena’s life is linked to Bonnie’s there’s still a possibility that she’ll wake up in the next few decades after Bonnie (Kat Graham) passes on, but until then, we’ll just be over here crying over the fact that Damon and Elena can’t be together.
4. Buffy Summers and Angel — Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Despite the fact that she’s a slayer and he’s a vampire, we still couldn’t help but hold out hope that true love would prevail and Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanaz) would find a way to make it work. The pair do eventually give into their feelings for one another, but the most heartbreaking part of their story is how many times they’re forced to say goodbye. First, Buffy is forced to kill Angel in order to save the world from Acathla. Then, even after Angel manages to come back and the couple decide to give it another shot, Angel ultimately decides Buffy could lead a better life without him and winds up leaving Sunnydale altogether.
5. Ted and Tracy Mosby — How I Met Your Mother
Given that we spent 9 seasons learning about the trials and tribulations Ted (Josh Radnor) went through on his journey to meeting the mother of his children, HIMYM fans were understandably devastated when it was revealed in the series finale that the Mother, Tracy (Cristin Milioti), ended up dying of an unnamed illness. Despite the fact that Ted eventually gets his happily ever after in the form of Robin, we couldn’t help in feel a bit of heartache over the fact that Tracy and Ted’s relationship was cut short.
6. Ryan Atwood and Marissa Cooper — The O.C.
Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) and Marissa (Mischa Barton) kind of had the whole Romeo and Juliet thing going, so perhaps we should have known from the beginning that things weren’t going to end well. Either way, we couldn’t help but fall in love with the idea of a poor kid from Chino falling for a rich girl from the OC. Ryan and Marissa had their fare share of rough patches but the most heartbreaking part of this relationship is that they never even had a chance to have a second go at things before it was all too late. Though we all secretly hoped the pair would eventually get back together, their happily ever after was cut short in the series 3 finale when she died in Ryan’s arms after a fatal car crash.
7. Matthew and Mary Crowley — Downton Abbey
Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew’s (Dan Stevens) slow-building romance in the first season of Downton Abbey was a thing of beauty, and when when Matthew finally proposed in the snow at the end of season 2 we were the ones screaming “yes!” But our swooning came to a halt when Matthew was shockingly killed in a car crash at the end of season three — right after visiting his newborn son in the hospital. We’re still not sure what was worse: Watching Matthew die, or watching Mary come to terms of life without him at the beginning of season 4.
8. Ricky Underwood and Amy Juergens — The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Things may have gotten off to a rocky start between Ricky (Daren Kagasoff) and Amy (Shailene Woodley) after the fated night at band camp that left Amy pregnant, but when these two finally got together, we couldn’t help but hope they’d make things last. That’s probably why we were all so heartbroken when the series finale found Amy breaking off her engagement and leaving both Ricky and John for the Big Apple to live with Ben and Leo. And who could forget that final scene with Ricky reading John a bedtime story? The only silver lining in all of this is perhaps the fact that showrunnner Brenda Hampton later revealed that if the series had progressed, Amy and Ricky would have eventually fallen in love again and gotten married.
9. Alicia Florrick and Will Gardner — The Good Wife
Sure it was a slow burn, but fans of The Good Wife were confident that Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Will (Josh Charles) were going to be the end game — that was until Gardner decided to leave the series in 2014. Making matters worse, Gardner’s exit from the show made it pretty much impossible for his character to ever come back — so there’s no chance of Will making a surprise cameo in the series’ current and final season.
10. April and Leo Hendrie — Chasing Life
On a show with as many sad undertones as Chasing Life, we looked to the sweet relationship between April (Italia Ricci) and Leo (Scott Michael Foster) to keep us adrift. So when we discovered that Leo had passed away in his sleep toward the tail end of season 2, we were understandably devastated. The series wasn’t picked up for a third season, so fans never got to find out if April ever really recovered from losing Leo — or for that matter, her disease.
Which of your favorite TV couples didn’t get their happily ever after? Let us know in the comments!