Why does “romance” in fiction get such a bad rap? This is why:
by Katharine Trendacosta
Romance abounds in fiction—and science fiction and fantasy are full of epic romances, too. But sometimes a romance feels less like something that’s true to the characters and more like a plot device the writers threw in at the last moment. Here are eight kinds of romance that we don’t ever need to see again.
Look, we all know that writing believable romance is hard. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to admit that not every story needs a relationship as its A-, B-, or even C-plot. A story without romance is better than one with a bad one. It’s never good to have an audience thinking, “Hey, these characters are solid, the story’s fun—oh, oh no. Stop it. Where’d this relationship even come from?!”
These unconvincing relationships fall always seem to fall into the same patterns. Below are the ones to avoid and the reasons they’re just awful. When you see these happening, bail. And if it can go into more than one of these categories? Go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
SPOILER WARNING: Since this discusses characters who end up together and characters who break up, there are spoilers… SPOILERS STARTING RIGHT NOW!
1) Pairing the Spares
I’m just going use the TV Tropes name for this one, because I always hear it in my head, just like Voldemort saying “Kill the spare.” Because that’s how bad this trope is.
Does everyone have to end up paired off for there to be a happy ending? EvenShakespeare occasionally left some people unmarried at the end of his plays. It’s like people think romance is some sort of closed system, with no external matter allowed. There are other people in the world. We do not need to see the characters immediately paired up with each other to believe they’ll be okay.
Top honors in this category goes to Enchanted for Nancy and Edward, who stand as an example of the particularly egregious practice of pairing off the exes of the protagonists.
See also: Martha Jones and Mickey in Doctor Who; Twilight; Doggett and Reyes inThe X-Files; Oliver and Chloe in Smallville; Sawyer and Juliet in Lost.
2) Pairing Someone Off Just Because the Story’s Ending
This is closely related to the above, although that version has a more intense need to make sure that everyone’s paired off with each other. And to be clear: this means when a character ends up with someone out of nowhere, not when too obvious love interests get together right before the end of a series.
This one can be more isolated, and doesn’t necessarily pair a regular character with another. Instead, as the story winds down, it seems like the writer just thinks that a neglected character deserves a love interest. It’s the lack of development that doesn’t work in this category. A last minute pairing feels as rushed. Although, the above-pictured couple hit the trifecta of last-minuteness, lack of chemistry, and just plain stupidity….