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Hopelessly Devoted: TV's Most Lovesick Characters

Updated on August 24, 2012

Everywhere You Turn

Many shows have one. The only problem is the person usually doesn't know that they are the way they are. To them love is something that they desperately need to feel and to experience. Without it, they seem incomplete and unworthy of any affection and attention. Now unlike my previous hub about ladies' men, these people aren't commitment-phobes. They usually seek a relationship for personal validation and public acknowledgement.

Of course these people usually experience a relationship and are in complete euphoria. However, once they breakup they have trouble coping with the present and future and usually end up dwelling on their past. So without further ado, I present TV's most lovelorn characters.

Charlotte York: A Spinster State of Mind

Anyone who's watched Sex and the City knows that each woman fills a certain role in the group. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is an unapologetic cynic; Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the confused optimist; and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is the noncommittal realist. But then there's Charlotte (Kristin Davis), who could easily be seen as the most hopeless romantic of the late 90s and early 2000s.

Charlotte dates men, but never casually. She always enters a relationship with the endpoint being marriage and no matter how many times she gets hurt, she keeps going. One could easily say that she falls in love too fast.

Who can forget the wedding she was a bridesmaid in where she fell for one of the groomsmen? Of course after a quick post-nuptial trist, she sees the real side of her dream lover after his father gropes her.

Then there was the time she fell hard for the sweet, seemingly metro-sexual chef. Not only could he cook, but he was interested in the same things as Charlotte. Those things happened to include decorating and lifestyle magazines, but even after that she wasn't convinced he was anything but straight. And then came the infamous mouse incident where he screamed louder than Charlotte and she ended up killing it. In his apartment!

But of all of Charlotte's romantic follies, the one that takes the cake is Trey (Kyle McLachlan). No one meets in the middle of the street and falls in love in that instant. Charlotte essentially created the relationship in her head. Every milestone, every step towards the altar seemingly pushed her towards him without really getting to know him. Of course she never regretted any of it, not even the divorce.

As she said, if she wasn't so persistent about love, she would have never have met her true love: her divorce attorney Harry (Evan Handler).

So for as misguided and whimsical she appeared to be, she really did find love because she never stopped trying.

Ted Mosby: A Sappy Singleton

I'm sure many people consider Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) to be the poor man's Ross Gellar. That's true to a certain extent, except Ted isn't kooky enough to get married. He almost got married, but at least he realized his mistake before he could say Robin's name at the altar.

Ted is the central character of the show, so it's obvious we expect his affairs to dominate the plot lines. However at this point, it's getting insanely hard to wait. Even in the current season, Ted still seems to be up to the same things and finally got called out in season seven, by former girlfriend Victoria (Ashley Williams), no less. Yet, Ted continues to choose the wrong girl and go about it in the wrong ways.

Let us count those ways. Remember when Ted blurted I Love You on the first date with Robin (Cobie Smulders)? Or when he decided to get serious with then dermatologist Stella (Sarah Chalke) after his first couple of appointments at her office? Then there's his classic planning way too far in advance for events that may not happen. Ted continuously tries, but ends up falling flat because he thinks more of the girls than they think of him.

Remember the girl who couldn't stop talking after she asked a question (Lindsay Price)? Or the girl (Carrie Underwood) who Ted doted on only to find out he was a filler for her real boyfriend who didn't pay her any attention? It got to the point where Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Marshall (Jason Segel) decided to intervene by pretending to be a girl he was really into. It once again proved that Ted is too dependent on the validation of a relationship.

He's so desperate to be with someone he even went back and dated his college girlfriend Karen (Laura Prepon). She was so ridiculously snooty and judgmental that Lily intervened in breaking them up. This once again shows that Ted is so bent on not being alone that he'll try anything to be with someone.

Of course since we know how the story ends, we know Ted won't be hopeless for too much longer.

Lucy Camden: A Teenager in Love

7th Heaven was the longest running WB series. It helped launched the career of Jessica Biel. But above and beyond anything else, it helped to validate the theory of preacher's kids being just as normal (or crazy depending on how you look at it) as everyone else's kids. This was evidenced in the many relationships of one Lucy Camden (Beverly Mitchell).

Of course Lucy was like many teenage girls, she always dreamed of the perfect guy, the perfect date and the perfect relationship. However, unlike many young women she was dead-set about doing it within a certain timeline.

Lucy's first boyfriend, Jimmy Moon (Matthew Linville) was very much our first glimpse into Lucy. She was always trying to make herself better by wearing makeup, sneaking out, or just looking cooler than she was. Even though she wasn't as rebellious as Mary (Jessica Biel), she was defiant in her sometimes bratty and moody ways.

There were many hookups between Lucy and various suitors, but some were more memorable than others. She once got together with Robbie's younger brother Rick (Lance Bass) to stir up jealousy between him and Robbie (Adam LaVorgna). And then there was the guy she was engaged to, Jeremy who she had such a tempestuous relationship with.

But nothing was more weird than Robbie and Lucy getting together. This was mainly because she did the ultimate double-dip. Not only was Robbie living with the Camdens to get his life back on track, but he had a very serious relationship with Mary. Fortunately, that infatuation broke and Lucy moved on.

She eventually met and married Kevin Kenkirk (George Stults). However, she pushes him away by questioning his first marriage, giving him deadlines, and all around trying to validate herself by being passive-aggressive.

Thankfully Lucy broke free when she realized she had to appreciate herself before anyone else could care for her.

Carlton Banks: A Sucker for Love

Everyone knows the Carlton dance. Everyone knows about Carlton's (Alfonso Ribiero) passion for success. But what about Carlton's passion for women? Well, that's another thing. Unlike lady's man Will (Will Smith), Carlton chased a specific girl for a a specific period of time. And he never had small inclinations, he always had big plans.

Aside from the v-neck sweaters and emblazoned jacket, Carlton was always wanting to be in love. Not like his sisters Ashley (Tatiana Ali) and Hilary (Karen Parsons), he wasn't infatuated to the point of humiliation. Carlton was obsessed until his dignity was completely obliterated. Now, it wasn't because Carlton wasn't dumb. He wasn't. He was just dumb about love.

Remember when he fought off the desire to help Ashley be more appealing to guys, to chase after a girl? Or the time he raced Will through an entire mall to get a random honey's phone number?

But what really defined Carlton's legacy with the ladies is his lack of know-how. Remember his sweetheart Leslie (Lark Voorhies) surprised him with a baby she said was his? And how Carlton desperately wanted to build a life with her, even though it was impossible for him to be the father? Now, many would say Carlton's doing the right thing, but Leslie was well aware of his family's prominence and played off his sympathies. Thankfully, his family helped him dodge the bullet.

And then there was his ill-fated romance with Will's ex-girlfriend from Philly, Jackie (Tyra Banks). Everyone knew this was bound for failure when it was revealed Will and Jackie knew each other, but Carlton tried as hard as possible to fight for her. Even in his peacock suit and with all of the sweetness he possessed it was a losing battle.

But the catalyst of Carlton's romantic guffaws had to be the woman he finally lost his virginity to. Carlton was so excited about Joann's (Natalie Belcon) interest in him, he failed to notice that she was the Dean's (Robert Morgan) estranged wife. Poor Carlton finally thought he had found the right woman, but alas it was only a sad one-night stand.

Carlton was gentlemanly in his intentions, but his instincts mirrored that of a five-year-old in need of a cookie. It would have been nice if the show had lasted longer for Carlton to mature and really grow into a healthy relationship. However, it probably wouldn't have held the audience's attention. Carlton's character was about gross inconsistencies: he was very book smart but knew next to nothing about real life. That's where Will helped him out.

Carlton was sweet, but everyone knows even the sweetest sweets grow stale after a while.

Joan Clayton: Lawless in Love

Far too many people are quick to criticize Girlfriends as the black version of Sex and the City. While there are many parallels between the characterizations of the women and the storylines, the two shows are quite different. Joan Clayton (Traci Ellis Ross), Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks), Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones) and Lynn Searcy (Portia White) are four friends in different life stages but their collective experiences strengthen the bonds of friendship between them.

Joan, however, is not only preoccupied with friendship but romance. She managed to become a successful lawyer in Los Angeles before the age of thirty, but still has not found the man of her dreams. But she is relentless to a fault in finding him. However, her standards are nearly next to impossible.

While she is smartly seeking a man who has the same career ambitions, a relatively spot-free personal life, and the desire for children seems okay, it's the little rules that are ridiculous. For instance, she cannot date Marcus because he has womanly hips and wears a girdle even though they have a pretty good connection.

She hooks up with a married man under the pretense that he is actually single. Of course when the wife shows up, she plays dumb and ends up getting played and nearly beat up in the process. Somehow she manages to escape this and other troubles while navigating her single life.

The biggest problems lie within her long term relationships. She has a three-month rule which dictates that she cannot be intimate with a man until she has dated him exclusively. In theory it doesn't seem ridiculous, but she has such a hard time with it that she usually breaks it and ends up hating herself and her partner.

Joan falls for down-on-his-luck architect Sean (Dondre Whitfield), who seems to be nice enough. However, he is harboring his dark past as a sex addict. In recovery, he agrees to take it slow with Joan but his past is constantly catching up with him. Their relationship is met with many bumps, especially when Sean counts on Joan to help revive his fledgling carer. Ultimately their differences prove to be too much and they breakup. Of course, Joan manages to awkwardly fuss out Sean and his new girlfriend in public, but barring that it was pretty much a given.

She dates Ellis (Adrian Lester) a self-absorbed actor with a less than stellar career. Initially the opposites-attract passions provide a nice honeymoon phase, but Joan's jealousy of his baby mother and other people passing through their lives created a hole. And after that, there was nowhere to go but down.

Joan falls for Ellis' business associate Brock (Malik Yoba) and pursues him in the middle of a new relationship with another man. Their instant connection is highly palpable, but unfortunately they have distinct differences. While Brock is romantic, sensitive, and very passionate about Joan, he doesn't want children. After finding this out, she forces it to work, but it doesn't. They try to reunite, but it's obvious that it won't work out.

Perhaps Joan's most important relationship attempt was with William (Reggie Hayes). They are best friends but the sexual attraction is lacking. After an awkward attempt at intimacy, their relationship deteriorates quickly among the premise of them being too familiar with each other platonically to go any further.

Joan finally becomes engaged to Iraq soldier Aaron (Richard Jones) and finally gets to fall in love the way she's wanted. I think she finally can appreciate it because she finally gets herself and stops living behind her ridiculous rules and regulations for romance.

Ross Gellar: Forever Unhappily Ever After

Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) is a hopeless romantic with a tragic track record. Not for lack of trying, but mainly for lack of judgment. Anyone who has been divorced three times is definitely missing essential skills for dealing with romance, but Ross is so lovable it's hard to criticize him for too long.

The first relationship he has is with his lesbian ex-wife, Carol (Jane Sibbett), which pre-dates the series. Their breakup hit him hard and it's obvious he harbored feelings for Carol. And his jealousy of Susan's (Jessica Hecht's) relationship with her and the child they all share Ben (Cole Sprouse).

Then there was the infamous infatuation with Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) that led to a strained flirtation and finally a relationship. However, because of their tempestuous nature, they went on a "break" and eventually broke-up because of a one-night stand Ross had with the copy girl.

Ross rebounded with several memorable women. He married the lovely Emily, while unfortunately blurting out the name of Rachel. After their short-lived marriage, he dated some other women but ended up getting drunk and marrying Rachel in Las Vegas.

And finally he fell in love with fellow professor Charlie (Aisha Tyler), but knew that he still harbored feelings for Rachel especially since they shared a daughter, Emma. While he did end up with Rachel in the finale, he ended up taking a long road to get there.

Ross is very book smart, but it's obvious his relationships with women are based on a romanticized notion of lasting love. It seems to stem from the heartbreak he suffered because of the demise of his first marriage. Another sign that he was in trouble with love was that his two confidants were Joey and Chandler, who also don't have the best insight with relationships.

Thankfully Ross got it together because if he had continued to do wrong in his personal life, the show would have had to be called something else other than Friends.

That's All for Now...

While there are many characters who have loved and lost, only a select few continue to push the limits of conventional wisdom. I'm sure there are many more characters who qualify for being television's most lovelorn. Please let me know who you think could also qualify for a possible future hub.

Also, I'm happy to take suggestions for other hubs. Thanks again for reading!


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    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      HI Mike,

      Ross is definitely an iconic character.

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 

      5 years ago from London

      We love Ross! (I have to admit that my favorite from the boys was Chandler though!). Nice hub! Voted up.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you :)!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      I am hopelessly devoted to SATC and you did a great job summarizing Charlotte and the other ladies.

      While not as familiar with the other shows, you did a fabulous job on a very cool subject, as usual! Voted UP and ABI. Hugs, Maria

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Cogerson for the compliments and for stopping by! I hate to admit this, but I've never seen an entire episode of Seinfeld. I do love Ross's character. He was a smart scientist, but dumb at love.

    • Cogerson profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia

      Nice list of lovelorn characters...David Schwimmer's Ross is a great example....I nominate Jerry Seinfeld from many girlfriends did he have during the 9 year well as George...never happy but they never stopped trying....great list that was very well done...kudos to you Alecia.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Julia! Yeah, I'm with you on Doug. Poor guy couldn't catch a break.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Alecia, interesting collection of characters. You always come up with a great title. As far as cartoon characters go, I think Doug was pretty lovelorn.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Robin! I agree a Barney or a Joey is only funny for occasional laughs but they can't carry major plot lines in a series too well. From what I saw, the Joey spin-off was in poor taste because Joey is best when he has someone to play off of like Chandler or Phoebe, but trying to put him in a new situation was not the best thing.

    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 

      6 years ago

      Great hub!

      As you said, many shows have such a character. Often, that brings a lot to a show because there is a lot of potential drama, but laughs too, in this type of person. On the other hand, types such as Joey (Friends) and Barney (HIMYM) are funny but can never be a lead character because of the flatness of these characters.

      Speaking of Joey, the Friends spin-off 'Joey' has never been successful, while Joey was a great 'supporting' character in Friends.


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