Valentine’s Day is coming. Although it’s been proven scientifically that love is garbage meant for insane people and that dating is not worth the risk, many of us will continue to pursue the perfect partner that TV and film implied we would find. Some TV series, however, ended by sparing their protagonist the torture of continued feelings of limerence until their inevitable, crushing end. In other words, these characters famously ended up without a partner.
Although it’s implied that Buffy was involved with the Immortal in an episode of Angel, Buffy departed from her own series without having a partner, which is probably for the best because Spike was toxic. In her last season, Buffy dealt with depression and existential dread, and waded through a poisonous relationship with Spike while trying to find herself again. In a lovely move, the show ended without giving Buffy yet another love interest, which meant she was good enough on her own, once healthy.
Frasier leaves Seattle in the final moments of his series, after reciting a Tennyson poem to both his father and his radio audience. He tells his loved ones that he’s “looking for a new chapter,” and he has a pleasant conversation with a sexy brunette while on the plane to Chicago. We don’t see him pursue Charlotte, but many viewers liked to assume he made it work. The important thing is, the sitcom ended with Frasier standing alone, happily.
Gilmore Girls had a generation of female viewers wanting to parent Rory, who had a perfect first boyfriend, a tryst with a bad boy, and got herself mixed up with a manipulative human trash fire while in college. The series ended with Rory taking a job to support Barack Obama’s campaign, and all of Stars Hollow rallied around to send her off on her own. It made perfect sense that Rory, an independent young college graduate, wasn’t tied down to some dude when the series ended.
First of all, the spin-off series doesn’t count. Second, Friends didn’t intend for viewers to feel sorry for Joey, considering the only real romantic enjoyment he ever got was meeting and bedding new ladies. We weren’t supposed to focus on Joey’s status as the only single guy among the couples, but instead on the fact that the series finale preserved Joey’s primary character trait: his childlike focus on himself and his buddies.
In the final moments of Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay bails on her acceptance to a prestigious academic summit and decides to follow the Grateful Dead with Kim Kelly. The girls don’t do this with Daniel in tow (he’s busy playing Dungeons & Dragons with Lindsay’s brother), and Nick is off somewhere disco dancing. It’s not clear whether Lindsay made a good decision choosing her freak flag over her intellectual gifts, but boys are notably not in the equation.
How I Met Your Mother tried its damnedest to make a romantic lead out of Barney, but the show had let him skid so far past funny-wingman into sex-obsessed sociopath that his marriage to Robin was believable for exactly no one. At the end of the show, Barney is still hitting on women in the gang’s favorite bar, and like Joey Tribbiani, he looks like he’s simply doing what he’s meant for.
Remember when Lee got fat and pouted for more than a season about Kara’s new dude? While Lee and Kara began Battlestar Galactica on equal footing, the extreme pressures of the new world eroded Lee’s self confidence, and Kara turned out to be the more resilient of the pair. In an interesting twist on the OTP, Battlestar Galactica watched Kara rise through the ranks and find happiness while Lee ate a lot of space snacks and failed to save his romantic interests when they became suicidal. Super dark.
By the series finale, Weeds was almost unrecognizable when compared to the original setup that had made the series so sexy and compulsively watchable. The characters had grown so far from Agrestic, and Nancy and Andy had finally given in to their season-spanning attraction and devotion, only to watch it explode in their faces. Neither of them were cut out for monogamy, but Andy had proven himself a good man over and over, while Nancy just seemed to get more and more selfish as the show went on. The series ended with the Botwin family sharing a joint on a snowy evening, but it was clear that Weeds had decided to punish Nancy for a life led so sloppily. She never really found a man to heal the hurt parts inside her, and the show just left it at that.