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Ten Couples Who Started Out As Friends

Luke and Lorelai in Gilmore Girls. Photo: WB/CW

One of my favorite tropes in film, television, and literature is when friends fall in love with each other. It just seems so realistic, and I love how various writers and actors play with that dynamic, not only the “slowly growing into more,” but also when they play with the weirdness that comes from a changing type of relationship. It’s often funny, ranges from slightly to very awkward, and also realistic.

Since I also love lists, I decided to make a list with my top ten favorite couples who fit into that mold of “friends who fall in love.” This list is highly subjective and full of my favorites, so please list your favorites in the comments!

Also, I’m about a season behind on most current TV shows, so if there are mistakes I make/things that just happened, please just let me have my happy delusions until the shows I love hit Netflix.

I did include some couples who hated each other at the beginning, but they had to be friends for at least half a movie or a full season before they got together to make it on this list, so be warned. There were also some couples, like Bones and Booth from Bones and Castle and Beckett from Castle that almost made the list, but to me, they were almost immediately love interests, and this colored their friendships. Finally, my list is alphabetical by movie/show and includes one honorable mention.

Ten Couples Who Started Out As Friends

HONORABLE MENTION – Oliver and Felicity from Arrow (Show)

Oliver and Felicity Photo: CW
Oliver and Felicity. Photo: CW

This one kind of influenced me to put the disclaimer about being behind on shows on here, mostly because I know Arrow is not the most upbeat and happy of shows. I don’t know what is happening with Oliver and Felicity in recent episodes, but despite that, I really love the dynamic between these two characters. The way they play off of each other when they’re friends as well as when they become romantically involved feels natural, as does the progression of their relationship.

#1 Anne and Gilbert – Anne of Green Gables Series (Book, Miniseries)

Literary Men - Gilbert
Anne and Gilbert flirting! Photo: Sullivan Entertainment.

Anne and Gilbert are one of those couples that are just fun to watch or read interact. They start out as enemies (at least on Anne’s part), but once they become friends, they stay friends for a long time before realizing they’re in love. True, one of them gets it way before the other one, but the point stands. The two of them complement each other and bring out the best qualities in the other, both as friends and as a couple. Both of them have imagination, but Gilbert is able to stay grounded more easily than Anne is.

The two are both very smart and are the only students in Avonlea who can keep up with each other, giving themselves a bit of healthy competition and, eventually, a study partner. They share a love of the written word and a shared love for the Island, and both of them are well acquainted with the other’s worst qualities by the time they get married.

#2 Emma & Mr. Knightly – Emma (Book, Film, Miniseries)

Emma and Mr. Knightley
Emma and Mr. Knightley. Photo: BBC Worldwide

Despite the difference in their ages, Emma and Knightley are always portrayed as friends. They know each other very well, and can tell when something is bothering the other. They both realize that they feel more for each other than friendship when potential romantic rivals enter the picture, causing them to reevaluate their own feelings. Their close friendship also means that they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses before they fall in love.

#3 Monica and Chandler – Friends (Show)

Chandler and Monica
Chandler and Monica. Photo: Warner Brothers

If I had to pick a number one for this list, Monica and Chandler would be it. I love this couple. I don’t know if it’s because one of the first episodes of Friends that I watched was their wedding, but to me, Chandler and Monica were always more fun to watch than Ross and Rachel. I enjoy watching Monica and Chandler interact throughout the show’s run. Since they were friends first and had been for years, they saw each other in some of their worst times, worst relationships, and breakups, and they know all of each other’s scandals, going into their relationship. Chander knows Monica is a control freak who used to be fat, and Monica knows Chandler is afraid of commitment and responds to stress with humor.

The history between them makes them a fun couple. Whether they’re dating, married, or close friends, they have some of the funniest interactions on the show. Their transition from friends to more than friends is really well done, plus, it’s fun to go back and watch the earlier seasons to see hints that Monica and Chandler would get together eventually, even if their romance, according to the creators, wasn’t planned in advance that far back.

#4 Luke and Lorelai – Gilmore Girls (Show)

Luke and Lorelai
Luke and Lorelai. Photo: WB/CW

Luke and Lorelai are great for lists like this, because even though they have romantic tension before they start dating, they are still obviously friends. They put up with each other’s weird quirks and because they’ve been friends for so long, they already know each other pretty well. As friends, they share advice and help each other out whenever possible, whether helping with funeral plans for his uncle or driving her to see her father in the hospital.

When they start dating, Luke knows that Lorelai has opinions about music, so he is prepared to take notes. He also builds her an ice skating rink, because he knows she loves winter. Lorelai already knows that Luke loves camping and his time alone, so she is supportive (and sometimes pushy) about making sure he does things he likes to do too. As a couple or just as friends, Luke and Lorelai are one of those couples you root for.

#5 Ron and Hermione – Harry Potter (Book, Film)

Ron and Hermione
Ron and Hermione in Deathly Hallows Part 1. Photo: Warner Brothers

I am a huge fan of this couple, and I think part of the reason for that is the fact that, to me at least, Ron and Hermione just work. They are both smart, but in different ways that complement the other. It’s like book smarts versus street smarts, in some ways. Plus, Hermione teaches the Pureblood Ron about house elf rights, and Ron stands up for Hermione when Draco calls her a Mudblood.

They are both driven by a sense of doing what is right, no matter the cost, and this comes through in the way they stand by Harry. Additionally, she smells him in her love potion, and he is clearly afraid to lose her (although he acts like a scared teenage boy and handles it really badly at times). Overall, in the end, it’s a balanced relationship. He helps her lighten up and she makes him more focused. Although in the beginning they have a really rocky relationship, they do transition from friends to more than friends once they figure it out, and it’s magical.

#6 Danny and Mindy – The Mindy Project (Show)

Danny and Mindy
Danny and Mindy. Photo: Fox/Hulu

Danny and Mindy started out hating each other, but as the first season went on they became friends. Soon, they were best friends. Since the show is based heavily on the romantic comedy genre, it tries to combine as much of the typical romantic comedy plots in as possible while taking a fresh spin on those things used, and the relationship between Danny and Mindy is no exception.

Danny and Mindy’s friendship blossoms into more and faces complications before the season two finale, when they officially get together. Since they were friends before, they both know each other and how to best deal with the other when they’re struggling. They know how to push each other’s buttons, but they also know how to brighten the other one’s day. I’ve heard things get rocky for them in the current season, but I’ve seen enough romcoms to believe that they’ll pull through.

#7 Jim and Pam – The Office (Show)

Jim and Pam
Jim and Pam. Photo: NBC

The Office is on the list of shows that I need to rewatch, but I remember loving the interactions between Jim and Pam. Starting out as two good friends who are each other’s bright spot in the dreary day at Dunder-Mifflin, they later get together and are still adorable. However, it doesn’t happen right away. They maintain a friendship for a few seasons before they start going out. After Anne and Gilbert, this was the first time I remember seeing the “friends fall in love,” thing played out, so that puts them on this list.

#8 Leslie and Ben – Parks and Recreation (Show)

Ben and Leslie
Ben and Leslie. Photo: NBC

Leslie and Ben start off with a really rocky relationship. He’s a state auditor investigating her town and making budget cuts, and she hates him because he is a threat to her department. As they work together and get to know each other, however, they become friends and after a time, they start to fall in love. Of course, they work together, so there are plenty of challenges in the beginning of their relationship, but they just make you want to root for them.

Ben and Leslie are one of those couples who work because they have already seen each other at their worst before even becoming friends. Plus, they’re both passionate about public service. Ben and Leslie challenge each other, both personally and professionally, and they are each willing to put their careers on hold for the other one. While their relationship isn’t always easy, it is a great one.

#9 Julia and Reed – Valentine’s Day (Film)

Julia and Reed
Julia and Reed. Photo: New Line Cinema

I really enjoy this movie, and I particularly love these two characters. They’re two best friends who are involved with other people and, as Valentine’s Day progresses and heartbreak abounds, they both realize that what they were looking for was right there the whole time. It’s really sweet, and always makes me smile.

#10 Harry and Sally – When Harry Met Sally (Film)

Harry and Sally
Harry and Sally. Photo: MGM

Any list about “friends falling in love” probably includes Harry and Sally. It’s a wonderful film and a wonderful couple. Despite their rocky beginning, the two became good friends and proceed to be absolutely adorable. Whether helping each other move, offering relationship advice or getting ready for Christmas, Harry and Sally are two good friends that we just know are going to fall for each other. Of course, conflict and confusion abound, but if you like this plot and romantic comedies in general, this movie is a must see.

Who would you put on the list that I left off? Any recommendations for films, shows or books that feature this romance?

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By on December 15th, 2015

About Bailey Cavender

Bailey grew up in North Idaho where she was encouraged from a young age to love reading, writing and learning; as a result, storytelling is a major part of her life. She believes that no story is ever the same to anyone and that everyone has a story to tell. With that in mind, she someday hopes to write a humorous and inspiring book (or ten, either way).

Her books, "A Journey Through Disney," "The Mermaid," and "Dear NSA: One Man's Adventures in Phone-Tapping and Blogging," can be found on Amazon.

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11 thoughts on “Ten Couples Who Started Out As Friends”

  1. Oh, so many to love here! You’ve also inspired me to keep watching Arrow, because I’m way behind, but I LOVE Felicity, so.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Jillian! She’s such a great character, I love that she’s there, she’s a nice contrast to Oliver and Diggle. The three of them are great together!

    • Thanks for commenting Rissi! I love them too, but being behind in Arrow makes me nervous for them, superhero shows can switch moods on a dime, it seems. I just love the ways they interact and how they bring out the best in each other (at least, I think so) 🙂

  2. Ben and Leslie’s relationship was just perfect from start to finish. I loved getting to see them as a married couple. Who wouldn’t want to have a relationship like that?

  3. Great list! I adored Ron and Hermione. I have a fondness for opposites attract love stories. Likewise Mindy and Danny were predictably going to fall for each other; their story though expected,was still lovely.The Emma/ Mr Knightley is by far my favourite Austen love story.

    • Thanks Elinor! It was a really fun one to write. I agree, I think those are some of the most fun to watch unfold. The Emma/Mr. Knightley story is pretty great…


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