5 of TV’s Saddest Breakups

When word hit earlier this month that The Simpsons’ Homer and Marge will be calling it quits next season, fans were understandably devastated. After all, while not always a picture of stability, they’ve been a television staple for close to 25 years. It’s hard to picture America’s most famous cartoon couple haggling over alimony or who gets custody of Bart, Lisa and Maggie. But there’s no doubt fans will tune in to see what happens, anyway.

The Simpsons’ epic breakup may be noteworthy, but it’s far from the most tragic to hit our screens. It seems like every memorable TV show has at least one moment where the pair you thought would be together forever parts ways. Sometimes they pull a Ross and Rachel and end up together anyway.  But other times, these couples never get a happily ever after. Here are five couples that won our hearts before they broke each others’ and then broke up for good.

Don Draper and January Jones in 'Mad Men.'

Source: AMC

1. Don and Betty, Mad Men

On paper, Don and Betty Draper (Jon Hamm, January Jones) were the perfect 1960s couple. To their friends and family, they seemed to have it all — beautiful children, a picturesque home and more money than they knew what to do with. But, as is usually the case on Mad Men, appearances were deceiving. From the very first episode, their marriage looked like it was in trouble.

Disagreements over lifestyle and Don’s wandering eye drove them apart, but it was a non-extramartial secret that ultimately did them in. It wasn’t a surprise when Betty finally left Don at the end of season three. But it was still undeniably sad. Their divorce not only devastated their children, but Don, who finally learned how to be vulnerable to his wife, only to lose her for good.

Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders in 'How I Met Your Mother.'

Source: CBS

2. Barney and Robin, How I Met Your Mother

For nine seasons, legions of How I Met Your Mother fans waited for Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) to get together and, more importantly, stay together. Their chemistry was always undeniable, and their passionate, often antagonistic relationship was a highlight of the show. During the series finale, they finally tied the knot — only to get divorced before the show’s final minutes. To add injury to insult, fans were outraged when Robin ended up with the show’s protagonist, Ted. Even the show’s biggest supporters were left wondering if the move was more to add shock value to the show’s ending, rather than to stay true to the characters. Either way, it was a depressing ending to what was meant to be an uplifting show.

Ben McKenzie and Mischa Barton in 'The O.C.'

Source: FOX

3. Ryan and Marissa, The O.C.

For fans of this quintessential 21st century teen show, Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) and Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) were the couple to root for. From opposite sides of the tracks, their epic love story seemed inevitable. And no matter what tribulations they faced — alcoholism, parental dysfunction and cheating — they always seemed to find their way back to each other. That is, until they broke up in The O.C.’s third season, and Marissa died in a fiery car crash. Because it wasn’t tragic enough, Ryan was with her when she died — but he was unable to tell her how much he loved her before she was gone forever. This breakup was extra tragic, because it left Ryan — and the fans who loved him — pining for what could have been.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'

Source: The WB

4. Buffy and Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Throughout the first few years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show’s heroine (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had a major problem: she fell in love with Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire — the very creature she had sworn to fight. In a modern twist on Romeo and Juliet, the slayer and the vampire tried to stay away from one another, but their attraction was too strong. Once Angel realized his presence in Buffy’s life would ultimately mean her death, he decided to hightail away from the Hellmouth at the end of the show’s third season. Buffy was heartbroken, and while she and fans both held out hope that they’d end up back together, both BtVS and the spinoff series Angel ended without the couple’s reconciliation.

Sarah Jessica Parker and John Corbett in 'Sex and the City.'

Source: HBO

5. Carrie and Aiden, Sex and the City

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) was a role model to single women in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She had a dream job, wild romances, and she never settled for a partner. When she met Aidan Shaw (John Corbett), he seemed too good to be true. They made it through a lot together — including infidelity on Carrie’s part. But despite a whirlwind engagement and Carrie’s promise of commitment, AIdan ultimately called their wedding off because he didn’t think she was truly invested in their relationship. It was sad, because they were two great people who just weren’t right for each other — a sad, but honest truth that many can relate to.

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