We have gotten used to expecting certain things in the universe that contains science-fiction and fantasy. Most undoubtedly, adventure is high on the list, usually accompanied by some graphically portrayed action, and other things, bravery, or cowardice in the face of impossible odds, with someone possibly sacrificing their life for the greater good. Yes, because most of these stories are, at their foundation, about the human condition, they include all of these things, but what about love? For example, although Star Trek had several episodes with stories about romantic relationships, the only two real romantic partnerships we know of for sure are Worf and Jadzia Dax on DS9 and the earlier implied relationships between Picard and Dr. Beverly Crusher along with Counselor Troi and Riker, and although often spoken of, were rarely if ever, portrayed on screen.
This article is written to address the topic of love and romance in the future/outer space, or wherever-in-time, and some of our favorite genre’s most memorable and iconic couples. Thinking back, I cannot remember any genre films or TV series that focused on classic human-based romantic relationships as the main thrust of its narrative, outside of the recent romantic story told in Passengers (2016), which received a mixed response from the mostly male genre fan base.
The thing about genre love is, it’s not necessarily limited to love between a human man and woman or even two humans at all, and considering all the naked, or otherwise, scantily clad female characters, royal and otherwise, that can be found running around waiting to get discovered in outer space, that’s a good thing. The future of love is anyone’s guess. Still, it could obviously include same-sex relationships between humans or aliens and any combination you can think of, and going even further, how about adding technological creations into the mix? Romance and relationships are funny things. They can lead us to our salvation, redemption, or doom, but they are part of us, built into our DNA, and avoiding thinking or talking about relationships is denial, pure and simple.
My earliest personal memories of examples of genre romantic relationships are the classic television series Get Smart, with Maxwell Smart and Agent 99, whose actual name we never learn, and The Avengers with the unsurpassable and very talented Mrs. Emma Peel and classic unflappable, British bull-dog secret agent, John Steed Esq., both depictions of those romantic rapports have something in common. They went unfulfilled and unconsummated and stayed that way while keeping us on the lookout to see if anything changed from week to week. Which, for my young mind at the time, was a gratifying task.
Most of the memorably portrayed romantic relationships followed were from comics and movies. However, we certainly haven’t exhausted TV land yet. Here is another example that seemed almost spiritual because of how it got portrayed in a society unable to deal with its sexual nature openly. It has occurred to me since then if they had been made Mormons in these adventures, we would have seen an entirely different approach used to portray the show’s relationships.
Moving right along, we have a couple you might not expect in Willow and Tara from Buffy The Vampire Slayer (admit it, you were as addicted to the series as everyone else was). Though for a long time the network didn’t allow Willow and Tara to kiss (there were a few candlelit workarounds thanks to Joss Whedon), their magical and highly erotic “sex” scene in season 6 was one of the best in the whole show (or in any show). It’s not magic that’s making that girl levitate. Along with similar themes, although they weren’t romantically involved, there’s no denying the memorably amusing bromance in Almost Human’s couple of Karl Urban’s John Kennex and Michael Ealy’s Dorian, humorously pioneering new frontiers in science fiction relationships.
Coming up on the end of this list, naturally, we saved the best for last. Due to limitations of time, space, and patience on my part, I am going to wrap things up with a few apparent and famous, I am sure, classics who bear a strong resemblance to each other in some ways.
At its heart, this is one of the classic archetypal love stories told countless times throughout the ages. If you are lucky every time they get told again, you should feel something in the general area where your heart should be: if not, there may be something seriously wrong. Maybe it’s not too late to do something about it if you don’t feel a thing. Happy Valentines Day and MTFBWY.