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Top Five Sci Fi Romantic Couples

Banes at 12:00AM, Feb. 15, 2024

It's Valentine's Day as I write this, and the day after (or many days after) when you're reading this.

Anyway, I thought I'd run down (or run up) my top five science fiction romantic couples. I don't think I've done this topic before, but I've thought of it before, so maybe I have. Not sure…

I enjoy a good romance in fiction, as a subplot at least. And a fantasy or sci fi premise can lead to some challenges and conflicts for a couple that are quite extreme! Maybe you're loving a clone but aren't sure if this guy's the clone or the real fella - or do you like the clone better?? Or are we talking about star-crossed lovers, separated by many years or light-years?

The romantic couples I like the most are actually a little more ordinary actually, but set against a sci-fi or space opera background.

But let's get this list underway! Starting from #5 - Engage!

5. James T. Kirk and La'an Noonien Singh (from Star Trek Strange New Worlds)
I literally added this in at the last minute. I've got to bump Captain Kirk and Edith Keeler off the list for this, as sacrilegious as it is. City on the Edge of Forever is one of THE classic Star Trek episodes, I know - but the much newer romance is one I found much more affecting. In case people haven't seen this SNW episode, SPOILER ALERT -
The timeline has been altered - something's gone wrong. La'an Singh is sent back in time to correct things, and accidentally takes alone James Kirk (a lieutenant at the time, I think). This is not the Jim Kirk from the original series - I mean, he's the same guy, more or less, played very well by an actor who isn't William Shatner. This is a guy who's lived a somewhat different life, but is still essentially the same Kirk. Anyway, during their adventure in the past, La'an and this alternate Kirk fall in love. Sadly, alternate Kirk dies and La'an returns home, having restored the proper timeline but having lost her love. There is another Jim Kirk in the restored timeline, but he barely knows her. The aftermath of this loss for La'an is effective and heartbreaking, and one of the things I appreciated most about Strange New Worlds.

4. Elijah Baley and Gladia (from the Robot series of novels by Isaac Asimov)
Elijah Baley is a police detective from Earth. Gladia is a Spacer, one of the descendants of the people who left Earth generations ago. She lives a super-isolated life, surrounded by robot helpers, which is the norm for her people. Traveling to her planet to solve a murder, detective Baley and Gladia have a pretty epic romance, which is not particularly sexual (Asimov didn't really like that kind of thing) but taken overall across a couple of novels, is one that I've always found very moving. Maybe because of how much I love the Elijah Baley character. And the Gladia character, too - she gets more time in the spotlight in the last of the four novels. The romance, where the characters are never really together for very long, feels sweeping and epic story in the end, one that even gets a mention in, I think, the final book of the Foundation series as well.

3. William Riker and Deanna Troi (from Star Trek the Next Generation and the book “Imzadi”)
Two Star Trek examples on the list - what can I say? I like some Star Trek. This was a couple I never cared much about during the Next Generation TV series. it was the book “Imzadi” by Peter David that I really loved. It tells the never-before-known story of how Will and Deanna met, and how bereft and lost the old Riker in the future has become without her. It's another time travel story, where Riker goes back in time to try and change history. Most of the book, though, is a flashback that tells the story of young Riker and Deanna. The time travel stuff is great, though, and the book has all of that trademark Peter David adventure and comedy.

2. Han and Leia (from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
Leia's one of the only women in the Galaxy from what we see in the original Star Wars trilogy, so she's got her pick of fellows. Instead of sweet and spiritual Luke, she chooses the tough, rascally space pirate Han Solo (a very fortuitous choice, as things turn out). They made me believe in this opposites-attract romance during Empire. An adventure/romance that was done RIGHT in Star Wars.
“I love you.”
“I know.”

1. George and Lorraine McFly (Back to the Future)
With apologies to Han and Leia, I have to give my top pick to George and Lorraine McFly from Back to the Future. They met almost by accident, and became a couple through a mix of coincidence and their own dysfunctions. It was not a particularly happy marriage, though they were committed to each other.
Happily, their time-traveling son managed to get them together, and even improved on things (again, mostly by accident). They are a strange example, because the characters themselves don't even know they're a sci-fi couple (well, George might think they're a match made in space, but that's another story). They're also supporting characters and not leads - though I'd say George is technically the Protagonist of Back to the Future. If the love story was the main story - well, I doubt this movie would be quite as popular and timeless.

I think the movie itself being so phenomenal, plus the chemistry and charm of the actors is what awards them top-spot for me.

This was a long one! Whew! There are plenty of iconic sci fi romances I missed - no Fry and Leela here, or Baltar and Six, or Deckard and Rachael or Trinity and Neo - all worthy of mention, though. How about you? Any sci fi (or fantasy) romances that tickle your circuitboard?

See you next time!

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EssayBee at 11:35AM, Feb. 22, 2024

Forgot about Paul and Chani from Dune (especially with the 2nd movie coming out). The sad love affair of Lucilla and Duncan in the last 2 Frank Herbert Dune books (Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune) I also like a lot.

EssayBee at 6:32PM, Feb. 20, 2024

I'll second Deckard/Rachel from Blade Runner and John/Emma from Dark City (as other folks have commented below), and then add Evelyn/Waymond from Everything Everywhere All at Once and Constance/Byron from the Constance Verity series of books. I know this may be controversial, but I also think Jake/Neytiri are an outstanding romantic couple--a long-lasting, healthy relationship.

Banes at 9:07PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@Hockey Webcomics - agreed

Hockey Webcomics at 8:32PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@Banes actually I liked them better when they were a platonic couple. when they married and all, it was like the magic faded

Banes at 8:06PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@Gunwallace - Hey, I recognize one or two of those xD

Banes at 8:06PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@Ironscarf - That's a classic! A "romance" subplot has much more freedom than a strictly "romance" story, which has a pretty strict outline to follow to qualify for that genre label.

Gunwallace at 7:47PM, Feb. 15, 2024

Buckaroo Banzai and Penny Priddy? John Murdoch and Emma/Anna (Dark City) Aziraphale and Crowley (Good Omens) John Constantine and cigarettes Freddy Huckleberry and Dr Selar Your list is way better though.

Ironscarf at 5:16PM, Feb. 15, 2024

More Star Trek - my favourite couple has to be Spock and T'Pring from season two's Amok Time. No love lost there but not every romance has to end in cuddles, right? Love that episode.

Banes at 3:36PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@dpat - haha, fair enough. I can empathize. I gave SNW a chance after it was recommended by several cohorts, and I found stuff to like there, somewhat to my surprise. XD

Banes at 3:34PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@Hockey Webcomics - sure, why not? I mean, they wouldn’t make my list. They’re phenomenal, but I was never a fan of them as a romantic couple.

Banes at 3:33PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@Paul - those sound intriguing. Worf and Jadzia almost made the list. I loved them!

Banes at 3:31PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@marcorossi - Leia may not be all that different from Han, it’s true. She’s no damsel in distress though. I mean, like you said, structurally she is. A fair point.

Banes at 3:26PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@used books - Quark’s mom and the Nagus - genius! Yivo and…everyone? Super genius, haha. Sounds like a great outer limits episode too.

Banes at 3:24PM, Feb. 15, 2024

@lothar - maybe I should’ve given Futurama a spot on the list somewhere - it had some classics with Fry and Leela; I must’ve missed Bender and Amy though!

dpat57 at 11:35AM, Feb. 15, 2024

My first thought was, "Strange New Worlds, what the heck is that?" because I just refuse to accept its existence, ditto Lower Decks, but otherwise (!) some very good choices for very good reasons, though commenters have also come up with equally good choices and reasons.

Hockey Webcomics at 9:33AM, Feb. 15, 2024

Does Fox Mulder and Dana Scully count?

PaulEberhardt at 7:27AM, Feb. 15, 2024

Ok. Three isn't enough. Jadzia Dax and Worf deserve an honourable mention as well.

PaulEberhardt at 7:21AM, Feb. 15, 2024

Hmm. My top five picks are in the article and the comments, but I've got some honourable mentions: 1. Cliff McLane and Tamara Jagellovsk from "Raumpatrouille Orion" - a pity it has never been translated into English as far as I know, because it's really cool (it's a b/w TV series similar to Star Trek in many ways, but a year older; Lt. Jagellovsk is a Galactic security officer tasked to keep the very Kirk-like McLane in check, as a punishment for his violating orders, but in the course of the series they very slowly take a liking to each other until they eventually realise they're in love, having behaved like a bickering married couple all the time anyway). 2. Robin Broadhead and Klara Moynlin, from Frederik Pohl's Gateway, as a tragic example, as well as Robin and his wife Essie from the sequel. 3. Colin Campbell and Gwendolyn Novak from Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - What a couple! ... Three is enough.

marcorossi at 4:10AM, Feb. 15, 2024

About Han and Leia, I think Leia is actually quite the rascal charachter too, at least relative to the average female charachter at the time. Today it is more common to have action girls as charachters, but if you compare Leia to the girl in Logan's Run, that come out just a year before, the difference is enormous. I think in fact Leia did set a new standard for female charachters (although in the end structurally she still gets the role of damoiselle in distress in the first movies).

usedbooks at 3:45AM, Feb. 15, 2024

Quark's mom and the Grand Nagus were quite the power couple. Ngl. My Futurama couple pic is Yivo and all of humanity. Actually, one of the most touching sci-fi love stories I've seen was an episode of the 1990s Outer Limits. It was one where a biologist falls in love with his elderly neighbor and makes a machine that can transfer youth from one organism to another. It's a bizarre premise (as most Outer Limits are), but it was a really touching story of selflessness.

lothar at 2:12AM, Feb. 15, 2024

Good list. But nothing from Futurama. My list: 5. Decker and Rachel from Blade Runner 4. Korban Dallas and Lilu from 5th element 3. Paul and Chani from Dune 2. Amy and Bender from Futurama 1. Zed and Consuella from Zardoz

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