5 Totally Sympathetic 'Love Triangle' Characters
Fictional love triangles are always a rigged game. Usually there's one option we're meant to root for, while the other is either an outright villain or quickly discarded once the protagonist has made the "right" choice. But the process of getting to that happy ending can range from brutal to outright horrifying for the loser. Let's take a moment to sympathize with the ones who were destined to get dumped, even though their only sin was being inconvenient to the plot ...
Friends -- Emily's Objections To Rachel Are Perfectly Reasonable
The characters on Friends leave a lot of emotionally damaged romantic partners in their wake, and the audience isn't meant to miss any of them. But we're supposed to hate Ross' second wife, Emily. The couple's troubles begin when Ross says the name of his ex, Rachel, during his wedding vows instead of Emily's name. Following this, Emily avoids Ross and moves back to her native England, even though she originally agreed to move to New York. Ross tells her he'll do anything to make things up to her, and she eventually agrees to stay with him, but on one condition: that Ross stop hanging out with Rachel.
At this point, the Friends crew all rebel against the idea, along with the audience. And Emily does become paranoid, making Ross get rid of any of his belongings that may have once come into contact with Rachel. So when Joey says " We all hate Emily!" we're supposed to wholeheartedly agree. After all, what kind of horrible cold b*tch would ask her husband to stop being friends with someone he's known his whole life? I mean, it's not like Ross would inevitably wind up with Rachel or anything, or that he can't control his feelings about her. What kind of psychopath would assume that? One who turned out to be 100% right, I suppose.
Emily really is in an impossible position. She could either be honest about being angry, which would make Ross unhappy, or she could pretend to be cool with it, which would not address the problem at all. And oh yeah, Ross said someone else's name at their wedding. That's sitcom hijinks twisted into pure horror. Would you be OK in that scenario? I know that chillness is a virtue, but it's fine to have some self-respect! "Wait ... am I the 'bad choice' in a love triangle? This isn't going to end well for me, is it?"
And Rachel is an active threat to their relationship. She shows up at the wedding with the exact purpose of breaking Ross and Emily up. She feels encouraged to pursue him when things start to fall apart, and even decides to tell Ross that she loves him after she sees all the crap the couple has gone through. Maybe it wasn't her intent to make the situation worse, but none of that really improves Ross and Emily's failing marriage. But then again, this is Ross, the same guy who later tells Rachel to abandon her dream job to be in a toxic relationship with him again, so maybe the whole thing was always gonna be hopeless.
Harry Potter -- No One Really Cares About Cho Chang's Depression
In the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series, teen wizard Harry gets his first romance, with classmate Cho Chang. Cho dated Cedric Diggory in the previous movie, but considering that he was dead by the end of it, she's now a free agent. But sadly, their love is not to be either -- Harry dumps Cho pretty quickly when he discovers that she ratted out his secret Defense Against the Dark Arts club to their evil headmaster. In the next movie, Harry moves on to date Ginny Weasley, whom he marries by the end of the series. Meanwhile, Cho vanishes into the background, and the movies kind of hope we forget about how everyone treats her like absolute garbage.
To start with, Harry doesn't verbally break up with her. He and the club just kind of ignore her out of the plot. It gets even worse when it's revealed that Cho didn't even mean to betray them. Harry finds out that Cho was given a truth potion (the wizarding world is full of whimsical consent-removing devices), meaning she was forced to give up the details. But despite this, Harry never apologizes for the misunderstanding. No one acknowledges the mix-up, and Harry and Cho never have a scene together again.
Oh, and there's also the "she was grieving over her freshly murdered boyfriend" thing. These kids can barely pretend to care about Cho's emotional state in the aftermath of Cedric's death. Hermione briefly mentions how she spends half her days crying, and then the topic is promptly dropped forever. The scene in which it's discussed is even played for laughs, existing mainly to provide some flirty banter between Ron and Hermione. Even worse, Harry actually remembers a bit of this scene later on as a " happy memory," a cute moment between BFFs rather than a discussion about his new girlfriend's severe depression.
Harry even has a conversation with Luna Lovegood in this same film about death and loneliness, and how hard it is to feel like you don't have anyone else in the world. But despite understanding all of this as, ya know, a scarred orphan, Harry lets Cho become a pariah anyway. The books take this a step further -- when they break up, Harry and Ron discuss how Harry should be with someone more "cheerful." Like, maybe Ginny would just get over it if her boyfriend died. You know, like a cool girlfriend would do.
Spider-Man 2 -- Mary Jane Gleefully Breaks John Jameson's Heart
Two Spider-Men ago (in the ancient days of yore, the early 2000s), we had Sam Raimi's trilogy, which was mostly devoted to Peter Parker's angsty romance with Mary Jane Watson. And a lot of the second movie is about them trying their best to hide their feelings from one another. That said, they still have romantic tension, as shown in the trailer that spent 25% of its time on the possibility that Tobey Maguire was gonna make out.
So in Spider-Man 2, to prove that she doesn't want to date Manhattan's punching bag, MJ dates John Jameson instead. He's a boring but nice astronaut who is the son of Peter's boss, and the pair get engaged pretty quickly, while Peter mopes from scene to scene. Eventually, though, Mary Jane decides that repeatedly getting captured by costumed villains is worth it if it means she gets to be with Peter. So she flees from her nuptials, and we're supposed to be pleased when MJ appears in Peter's doorway in her wedding dress, which must be absolutely filthy by now.
But what about John? He's left standing at the altar with a note, which looks so short that it probably says something along the lines of "idk sorry lol." He was a perfectly good guy whose only crime was not being Spider-Man. So if you watch the runaway bride scene from John's point of view, he's been gleefully abandoned by the love of his life. Sure, MJ may be running to her happy ending, but as far as John knows, all of the light has just fled from his world, leaving him doomed to die alone.
Even more heartless is the fact that MJ was always perfectly aware that she didn't really want to marry John. She knows she's not actually over Peter. Take the scene wherein she tries to kiss John the same way she once kissed Peter, and looks massively disappointed that her fetish didn't carry over. In any case, John Jameson doesn't return in the final movie of the trilogy. The last we see of him, he's standing sadly at the altar, and definitely not turning into a magic werewolf like he does in the comics.
Reality Bites -- Michael Gets Punished For Having His Life Together
Reality Bites is the 1994-est of all 1994 movies, and features Winona Ryder as Lelaina, an aspiring documentarian who is trying to portray the life of Gen-X adults. Near the beginning of the film, Lelaina dates Michael (Ben Stiller), a guy in a suit who works for a big network television show. At first he seems like a pretty nice dude, but when he sends Lelaina's beloved documentary to a prominent MTV-style network, the network ends up editing it in a way that isn't in keeping with her artistic vision.
So at this point, Michael is meant to be revealed as a corporate stooge who doesn't "get" Lelaina or the things in life that are meaningful or the music of Soundgarden, probably. Instead we're meant to want Lelaina to get with Troy (Ethan Hawke), her clearly not platonic friend. Troy is rude to Michael the whole time, thinking of him as a dumb, controlling yuppie. And at first Lelaina feels like Troy is just being a dickhead, mostly because he is.
But we're eventually supposed to see Troy as correct. Michael, after all, is "stupider" than Troy, and not as "real," since he fumbles artistic references despite having a good job. Troy, on the other hand, can't keep a job, but he still says "clever" "philosophical" crap, like pointing out that seashells are kinda like life because they're both empty, man. His dickheadery is also excused because his parents got divorced and his dad has cancer, meaning he has to be rude, according to movie law.
So Troy and Lelaina eventually get together. And though Troy runs out on her, he "apologizes" by telling her that he's the only real thing in her life, and she just has to accept that he treats her like garbage. But amazingly, Lelaina does forgive him, even though Michael too asks for a second chance. But he doesn't get it and disappears from the movie, having committed the major crime of ... trying to help Lelaina get into her preferred industry? Apparently that's the kind of thing that was unforgivable in the Clinton years.
Seriously, the whole thing looks bizarre in 2019. At the beginning of the movie, Lelaina's only plan to make money involves pocketing cash at a gas station while using her dad's card to pay for the purchases. Apparently this isn't as bad as selling out or, ya know, getting paid in the field you're passionate about. But screw you, Michael, for trying to score your girlfriend some work. Now you're sad and alone (unlike Lelaina and Troy, who are together, but jobless). That's what you get for not understanding art, man.
In The MCU, Sharon Carter's Family History Gets Massively Complicated
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers doesn't have too many love interests, unless he's bedding a whole lot of Captain America groupies offscreen. It's repeatedly reinforced that Steve's heart truly lies with Peggy Carter, his love whom he left back in 1945 when he was frozen in suspended animation (that classic will-they-or-won't-they-cross-boundaries-of-time-and-space scenario).
Steve does, however, have one other brief romance, with a woman named Sharon. She turns out to not only be a secret agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also Peggy's great niece, meaning Steve will be the first person she's ever dated who also had the hots for her elderly relative (hopefully). Sharon's true identity is revealed at Peggy's funeral in Civil War, where she delivers the eulogy. She admits that she didn't initially reveal their connection because she wanted to make a name for herself without being compared to her aunt.
But the fact that Peggy and Sharon are related doesn't deter Cap from a romance with her. Obviously there's just something about that gene pool that's appealing to him. But in Endgame, it's reiterated that Cap's true love was always Peggy. When Steve goes on a post-Universe-saving time-traveling errand, he takes the chance to travel back to the '40s, settling down with Peggy and retroactively retiring from being an Avenger. It's supposed to be poignant, since Steve gets to live in his original time period with the person he loved. But what in the world does this mean for Sharon?
Time travel can be a tricky concept full of paradoxes, but even if you look at it from a few different angles, the consequences of Cap's decision are always awkward from Sharon's perspective. If Steve lived and grew old in Sharon's own timeline, does this mean that Cap was always Sharon's great-uncle? Kinda gross, guys. Even if we look at the story from the simplest interpretation, where the time travel changes nothing, then this decision still means that Sharon's most recent fling left her for her dead aunt, whom she never really wanted to be compared to in the first place. Also, it's hard to be totally happy for Cap when you realize that at some point, he's probably going to have an awkward conversation with Peggy about how he made out with / will make out with her great niece.
For more, check out 4 Movie Side Characters Screwed By The Hero - Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder:
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