10 Film Couples You Wanted to Happen but Never Did

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Moreso than any other art form, film has the unique ability to capture grand emotions and instill those emotions within an audience. Film can make you laugh, cry, and fill you with a lust for life. These kinds of sweeping emotions wouldn’t be possible without characters for an audience to latch onto. Without these characters, movies would be pretty images for the audience to fawn over for two hours. Instead, we get to feel for people who are different from ourselves. Film, in a sense, is the great empathy machine.

 In its great capacity for empathy, there are many instances of a film’s characters deviating from the place where the audience wants them to go. This weighs heavily on the subject of film romance. Whether it be the wrong couple getting together or a romance that doesn’t work out, romance can be the most significant test of a film’s capacity for empathy. Today, we’ll be taking a look at those film couples that we just wanted to happen, but for one reason or another, they never did. From fan-favorite pairings to doomed romances, we’ll be covering them all!

1. Dawn Wiener and Steve Rodgers – Welcome to the Dollhouse

Photo Credit: Suburban Pictures.

Todd Solondz’s tale of disaffected youth centers on Dawn Wiener, a 7th grader in suburban America who must cope with the fact that her life is terrible. Dawn has a crush on the popular kid, Steve, much to the chagrin of the mentally unstable Brandon, who has a crush on Dawn. Steve and Dawn never end up getting together, much to Dawn’s disappointment. On top of being raucously hilarious, Solondz’s social satire is just as biting as it was on the day of its release thirty years ago.

2. Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Scott Fitzgerald’s eternal tale of luxury and a life drowned by greed has, at its center, a story of doomed romance. Nick Carraway is a devilishly clever journalist who’s struck down by love when he meets Daisy Buchanan, a gold-digger, at one of the parties hosted by Nick’s friend, Gatsby. Tensions rise, and their love grows to bitter resentment by the end of the story, making for one of the most tumultuous love stories in history.

3. Tom Hansen and Summer – (500) Days of Summer 

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

This particular film is an interesting example of the lovers never taking off because we get the exclusive from Tom, the man with the crush. Throughout much of the film, we see Tom’s attempts to woo the titular Summer, though she never seems to return his advances. The audience is on Tom’s side, wanting him to earn Summer’s affection and have them get together. They never do, and sadly, they end up on the shortlist for couples we wanted to happen to but never did.

4. Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist – Brokeback Mountain 

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

Ang Lee’s romantic drama follows two ranchers, Ennis and Jack, who, after a night of drunken fooling around, the two begin to have a powerful sexual and emotional relationship. The real tragedy here comes from the knowledge that these two men will never be together. They have lives beyond each other: wives, children, careers. The entire movie hinges on endearing you to Ennis’ and Jack’s relationship, only to rip your heart out when they must return to their lives as if they hadn’t just had a brief encounter with the love of their life. Brokeback Mountain is a somber film about an unrequited love.

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5. Theodore and Samantha – Her 

Photo Credit: Annapurna Pictures.

Spike Jonze’s beautiful examination of loneliness and social isolation also happens to feature one of the most fascinating tumultuous relationships in recent memory. Theodore, a graphic designer amid a nasty divorce, is feeling dehumanized in his work and lonely in his personal life. At his lowest, Theodore begins falling in love with Samantha, an AI model that lives on his phone. Theodore becomes obsessed with Samantha, leading to an unhealthy relationship that would never sustain itself. Her is a sorrowful treatise on a relationship that was doomed from the start.

6. Elio and Oliver – Call Me By Your Name 

Photo Credit: Frenesy Film Company.

Elio is a teenage boy living in Italy with his father, who is an archaeology professor. His father invites Oliver, one of his students, to spend the summer with him at his home in Italy. During this summer, Elio and Oliver fall in love with one another. Their emotional and sexual relationship blooms throughout the film. Their relationship abruptly ends when Oliver leaves to marry his fiancé of several years, sending Elio into an emotional spiral. This is one doomed romance that we want so desperately to work, but we know that, as hard as we try, it never would.

7. Bella and Jacob – The Twilight Saga 

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.

When one looks back at the Twilight saga and its legacy, the thing that sticks out the most is the central love triangle between human Bella, vampire Edward, and werewolf Jacob. Though this author is firmly on Team Edward, morbid curiosity strikes, and one must wonder how Bella and Jacob would function together as a couple. Bella’s child imprints with Jacob, making for a brief view of what could have been if Bella had decided to follow her heart with Team Jacob.

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8. Peter and Sarah – Forgetting Sarah Marshall 

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Nicholas Stoller’s romantic comedy follows Peter Bretter, the composer for a television show starring his girlfriend Sarah. After a five-year relationship, Peter discovers that Sarah is having an affair with Aldous Snow, a rock star whom she’d acted opposite on her television show. Peter desperately wants to get back together with Sarah, as does the audience, which makes this a fascinating case. Given that Sarah cheated on Peter, this is one relationship that didn’t, and perhaps shouldn’t, work out.

9. Larry and Richard – Forbidden Letters

Photo Credit: Warrington Productions.

Arthur J. Bressan Jr.’s gay romance follows two men. One has just been released from prison, and the other is his pen pal. These two men fall into a heated and intense relationship, both romantic and sexual. The film tracks their relationship through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards. We get to view Larry and Richard’s relationship falling apart juxtaposed with the initial moments of our protagonists falling in love for the first time. It is an incredibly sad film, though ultimately rewarding.

10. Sharon and Tigr – Kamikaze Hearts 

Photo Credit: Legler/Bashore.

This metatextual drama about the making of pornography in the 1980s stars two actual stars of the adult film genre. The film follows Sharon and Tigr as they try and get out of the industry while trying to make heads and tails of their relationship. Audiences also watch as Tigr battles through his heroin addiction. It’s undoubtedly a gritty watch, but it’s one of the most beautiful and harrowing depictions of living with a partner who’s succumbing to addiction. It’s an essential watch if you can find a copy of it.

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

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Image Credit: Universal Studios.

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