If you’ve ever fallen hard into a fandom, chances are good you’ve had a ship or two break your heart. Sometimes breakups or other endings to ships make complete sense for a character’s development or for the larger narrative of the show. Those are easier to swallow, though they still hurt. But others are just downright stupid, and leave you holding a grudge for (in some cases) a decade-plus.
Let’s break down some of the ships that we still can’t get over and will always believe deserved more.
Peyton Sawyer/Jake Jagielski (One Tree Hill)
“You know what? Every song ends, Jake. Is that any reason not to enjoy the music?”
I became a Jeyton fan the moment Peyton stood in Karen’s and watched him play ‘Lonely World’, Jenny in her carrier at his feet. She was drawn to him even then, even with her lingering feelings for Lucas, and boy, did I understand. A cute, curly-haired boy with a guitar who doted on his infant daughter, played basketball, and mostly avoided the testosterone fest that made up the rest of Tree Hill’s drama? Yes please.
I still remember the moment that Peyton walked off the plane in season three and it was revealed who was standing there waiting for her as the crowd parted. Not Pete Wentz, as we were led to believe. No, good old Hot Dad Larry Sawyer told Peyton to “use your head and follow your heart”, and follow it she did—straight to Savannah, Georgia, and to Jake and Jenny. I was sure I would finally get my Jake and Peyton happy ending, and then the writers pulled a bait-and-switch and had her say Lucas’s name in her sleep.
That never made sense to me. And so in true I’m-in-denial fashion, in my own personal One Tree Hill future headcanon, Peyton and Lucas eventually get (amicably—we don’t need more Leyton drama and neither does Sawyer) divorced and she ends up finding her way back to Jake. They get their someday.
Lexie Grey/Mark Sloan (Grey’s Anatomy)
To this day I refuse to watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy without first getting in the mindset that no, Lexie and Mark are not dead, they just live in Boston where Lexie does research at Mass Gen and Mark runs plastics at Beth Israel.
I never liked Mark Sloan more than I did when he was with Lexie. Something about their dynamic brought out depth in him that we’d been allowed glimpses of in the past, but had never seen at its full potential. And Lexie, who had the tendency to be annoying with her know-it-all nature and her pining for George, suddenly became eminently more likable. Rather than mooning over someone she couldn’t have, she was grew as a doctor and as a (hilarious) person.
There were a lot of things I didn’t like about the direction the Grey’s writers room took Mark and Lexie, but they always ended up drawn back to one another. And then (a several years late spoiler alert) Chyler Leigh wanted to leave the show and instead of sending Lexie off somewhere to achieve great medical things, they killed her. And then they killed Mark too, because Shonda ultimately realized Mark Sloan couldn’t exist in a world without Lexie Grey.
I guess we should just be thankful we didn’t get Shonda’s initial version, which involved Lexie slipping and hitting her dead and dying at Seattle Grace while everyone else was on the plane.
Elena Gilbert/Stefan Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries)
I’m gonna be frank with you: I stopped watching TVD regularly about two episodes into the third season and only stopped by infrequently until the finale, though I often read recaps. But for those first two seasons, Elena and Stefan were such a lovely, classic, star-crossed love story. And then everything went to crap.
A good friend and I have a litmus test for CW shows. If the show survives its third season without going entirely off the rails, it’s a keeper. TVD failed that test royally, and the way the writers seemed to contrive ways to wrench Stefan and Elena apart while pushing her closer and closer to Damon played a big role in why I felt that way.
It would’ve been really nice to have the show come full circle and end the way it began, with the central story being Stefan and Elena’s. Pity the writers didn’t feel the same.
Allison Argent/Scott McCall (Teen Wolf)
Allison Argent herself deserved better, and that is a hill I will die on. She grew so much as a character, and it would’ve been incredibly gratifying to watch her continue to grow into a hunter who protected her friends and her town. To be allowed to grow into a woman who went after what she wanted in life. Allison Argent wasn’t perfect, but the best characters aren’t. She had a huge heart—which is why she and Scott should’ve been allowed to find their way back to one another.
Scott McCall spent six seasons just doing his best to keep the people he loved safe and happy, and man, he loved this girl so much. And I’m such a sucker for the “first loves who are also true loves” trope. Don’t get me wrong. I spent much of season six rooting for Scott and Malia, because they’re both great characters who deserved the happiness they found together. But losing Scott and Allison, and losing it because we lost Allison entirely, is always going to sting.
Octavia Blake/Lincoln (The 100)
JUST LET OCTAVIA BLAKE BE HAPPY, I scream to the sky as I do my best impression of Leonardo DiCaprio in his “I defy you, stars!” scene from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.
All Octavia has ever wanted—her motivation from day one of this show—has been to belong. Somewhere, somehow, with someone. Someone who wasn’t her family, because family is great but family isn’t the same as someone choosing you. She found that belonging with Lincoln. He chose Octavia, and he kept choosing her even when she made it difficult. And she did, because that’s Octavia’s nature. Lincoln balanced that well. It’s difficult to reconcile the kind of potential they had with what happened behind the scenes to take Ricky Whittle off the show, and knowing what we do from him I certainly don’t blame him for wanting to leave. I just wish there had been some better way to handle it.
That being said—seeing Octavia carry Lincoln with her into the conclave by wearing his tattoo as her war paint, and hearing Indra tell her that Lincoln would’ve been proud? It made the hurt a little less keen. And in some other world, in all of those modern AUs fans of The 100 are so fond of writing, Octavia and Lincoln find each other again and again. And that’s something.
Tony DiNozzo/Ziva David (NCIS)
Let me go ahead and get this out: I refuse to believe that Ziva David died in that home explosion. Gary Glasberg, the late NCIS showrunner, hinted that things were being deliberately set up to make it look like she was dead, while leaving open the possibility that she actually escaped somehow. This is Ziva we’re talking about, people.
Eight seasons of will-they-or-won’t-they finally culminated in Tony chasing Ziva all the way to Israel to try and convince her to come back. While she didn’t return to NCIS, we did find out (cruelly, after being told she was dead) that said visit made Tony and Ziva parents to an absolutely adorable toddler named Tali, after Ziva’s late sister. Forget that fans of this dynamic duo deserved better—Tony and Ziva and Tali deserved better. Surely they’re off in Paris, riding out the Trump era and raising Tali in relative peace? Surely, when NCIS finally reaches its end (not currently in sight) they’ll return for one last reunion with Gibbs and the ol’ gang. This show put the two of them through so much that any other ending would be unjust.
Kenna/Sebastian de Poitiers (Reign)
Reign was a hot mess that basically doubled as an advertisement for Anthropologie, and that was exactly why we all loved it. Well, that and Megan Follows’ brilliantly horrid Queen Catherine. One of the best things about the show was its willingness to do pretty much anything when it came to relationships. I liked this when it resulted in Kenna and Bash being thrown together, forced to marry by his father King Henry (who was also Kenna’s lover, because this show was dedicated to Doing The Most). I didn’t like it when it ripped the two of them apart.
Kenna and Bash were never some deep, enduring tragic love story like Mary and Francis. We knew those two were doomed from the start, and so we had to cherish whatever we did get from them. Kenna and Bash were just hot, sexy fun that somewhere along the line turned into actual love. I never understand shows that don’t understand you can have drama and conflict within a relationship that doesn’t involve cheating and betrayal. There’s enough conflict in day to day life—especially in 16th-century France, for god’s sake—to stay quite busy, thanks.
Penelope Garcia/Derek Morgan (Criminal Minds)
“But Hannah,” you say, “Garcia and Morgan were never a couple?”
And therein lies the tragedy. I understand that probably I should appreciate their deep and abiding friendship more, and be happy that Morgan is out of the FBI and happy with his wife and son (and that Garcia seems to have a slow-burn thing cooking with new hottie Luke Alvez) but let’s be honest—we got ripped off here, folks. These two told each other “I love you” on a regular basis, had pet names, flirted outrageously, and in the end didn’t remotely end up together. It’s garbage! Garbage, I say!
What ships do you believe deserved better?