Treva is a pop culture fan who has been writing about the entertainment world for over a decade.
For as long as TV has existed, creators have used the medium to tell stories about couples. However, audiences didn't always want to watch Ward and June Cleaver; viewers also fell in love with flawed couples composed of two halves that didn't always fit together perfectly. They discovered that it was these multi-dimensional, conflicted characters that they could truly commiserate with.
But while audiences responded positively to the cartoonish faces Lucille Ball made each time her wacky antics exasperated her more level-headed husband, artists and innovators were realizing that TV could be so much more than a mirror of American families. It could also take viewers on voyages back to the Stone Age or forward to a future where flying cars are a thing. Instead of empty threats to send a wife to the moon, viewers could watch their favorite characters take a vacation there. And by using animation, artists could give characters crazy facial expressions that Lucy could never replicate -- unless she learned to pop her eyeballs out of her head, dislocate her jaw, and drastically lengthen her tongue.
Cartoons introduced viewers to couples who were living lifestyles that they could only dream of, and TV's animated offerings eventually evolved into some pretty out-there concepts. Now, viewers get invited into the living rooms of yellow sponges that reside in giant pineapples under the sea, or the labs of drooling grandpas capable of traveling to endless alternate universes.
However, couples that binge-watch and Netflix and chill are still seeing themselves in the sometimes insane animated pairs of today's numerous cartoon offerings. They've also learned to appreciate cartoon couples that are so far out there that they're totally impossible to relate to. A mix of both can be found below, from modern marrieds with children to matches between humans and non-humans.
Bob and Linda Belcher from 'Bob's Burgers'
Bob and Linda Belcher might not serve the healthiest food at their restaurant, but they have one of the healthiest relationships out of any cartoon couple on this list. The introverted patriarch and always-enthusiastic matriarch of the Belcher family are also incredible parents to their quirky trio of kids, whether they're supporting butt-obsessed Tina's dream of becoming an author of erotic friend fiction or enduring another one of Gene's obnoxious keyboard tunes featuring fart noises and lyrics that insult his listeners. Throw in a problem child like the always-scheming hellspawn that is Louise, and it's remarkable that the parents are so patient.
They might be an odd couple with completely different personalities, but Bob and Linda make their relationship work by always being willing to compromise and being supportive of one another. They also make a pretty mean burger-making team.
Fred and Wilma, Betty and Barney from 'The Flintstones'
For these two pairings, lets take it way back to an era when dinosaurs and humans roamed the planet together (Young Earth Creationists must be huge 'Flintstones' fans). Male cartoon characters Fred and Barney are probably somewhat responsible for the popular trend of pairing overweight, trouble-making men with thin, way-too-patient women. But while they might not be the best husbands, it's still fun to watch the barefoot BFFs see how much trouble they can stir up in Bedrock.
Interestingly, many Flintstones episodes seem to split up its two beloved couples. However, the crew usually all comes together in the end to apologize for whatever ordeal they put their significant others through. The foursome's two kids also made one of the cutest cartoon couples on TV -- it's kind of sweet that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm eventually got married.
Popeye and Olive Oyl from 'Popeye the Sailor'
This odd-looking pair is another of the oldest cartoon character couples of TV, but they're proof that longevity does not equal stability. Olive Oyl and her spinach-obsessed suitor have their fair share of issues -- namely Olive Oyl's tendency to run off with brutish Bluto. Popeye also has to occasionally rescue the Olive of his eye when Bluto decides to kidnap her instead of wooing her away. What the guys see in the flaky beanpole Bella Swan of their day remains a mystery.
George and Jane Jetson from 'The Jetsons'
When the creators of The Jetsons imagined the future, they didn't picture one in which both parents had to work just to make ends meet. Luckily for Jane, she was spared having to slave away all day pushing a button occasionally, a labor load that her husband often complained about. Space-age convinces -- including a robot maid -- also meant that she had little to do in the way of housework. However, Jane did manage to create her own full-time job by spending her days spending her husband's paycheck.
The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch from 'Venture Bros.'
This villainous pair has been through so much since Venture Bros. first aired over a decade and a half ago. Back when she was known as Dr. Girlfriend, the bombshell brunette with a baritone voice served as her giant butterfly man's trusty, busty sidekick. However, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch would eventually rise to power as a member of The Council of Thirteen, while her husband would flutter down the totem pole of villainy to a lowly Level 5 arch.
It's not easy being married to your boss, especially when your respective positions require you to keep some pretty huge secrets from one another, including alternate identities. It also doesn't help that The Monarch spends more of his time thinking about his arch-nemesis than the love of his life. However, it's the constant conflict that makes this calamitous couple so fun to watch.
Jerry and Beth Smith from 'Rick and Morty'
Unlike the Monarchs, who are always fun to watch whether or not their interests align, Morty Smith's parents become completely insufferable whenever they're faced with any sort of conflict. Jerry and Beth's marriage is always constantly on the verge of falling apart, but I enjoy watching them the most when they're not bickering. Every time insecure Jerry starts whining at his wife, I wish she would just ship him off to Jerryboree.
On the rare occasions when Jerry and Beth do decide to take a break from going at each other's throats, they can accomplish great things, like surviving together in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by horrifying human-bug hybrids, or stopping a murderous Meseeks by improving Jerry's golf game.
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Marge and Homer Simpson from 'The Simpsons'
One of TV's longest-lasting couples definitely deserves a spot on this list for proving that the classic cartoon pairing of a stupid slob and smart, pretty woman can withstand the test of time. However, I notice that most of the wives that enter into these mismatched marriages end up becoming stay-at-home moms, which might have something to do with why they stick around.
Joker and Harley Quinn from 'Batman: The Animated Series'
Harley and her beloved "Mr. J" are definitely one of the best villain couples in cartoon history, although some Batman fans might have preferred the exciting episodes in which the quirky blonde abandoned the green-haired goon for the greenery-loving Poison Ivy.
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill and soap opera star Arleen Sorkin brought everyone's favorite bad romance to life with their incredible voice acting. Sure, Harley Quinn and The Joker's relationship might have been as toxic as that vat of chemicals that Mr. J fell in at the beginning of his criminal career, but this didn't stop a whole generation of young viewers from falling in love with the crazy clown and his smitten sidekick.
Peggy and Hank Hill from 'King of the Hill'
Outspoken substitute Spanish teacher Peggy Hill might be a bit too proud and loud for her good ol' boy husband Hank on King of the Hill, but he can be passionate, too -- as long as the subject is propane and propane accessories or football.
Leela and Fry from 'Futurama'
This is another of the many cartoon character couples here with mismatched mental capacities, but what Fry lacked in brains and physique, he more than made up for in trying to be sweet.
The pizza delivery boy from the past almost immediately gave his heart to the one-eyed mutant with purple hair, but it took the tough, kick-happy captain of the Planet Express a long time to realize just how much she loved Fry for being such a loyal and caring guy. After a suicide attempt, the loss of one of Leela's hands, and multiple mini-jumps back in time, Futurama fans finally got to see their favorite couple live out their lives together in an eerie world inhabited by frozen people.
Kif and Amy from 'Futurama'
Here's one of the best cartoon couples consisting of different life forms. The second Futurama pair to make this list is composed of spoiled rich girl Amy and poor perpetually nervous Kif, the slimy, sensitive underling of cocky Captain Zaff Brannigan. They might be one of the strangest TV couples of all time, but the hot chick and the little green man were making human-alien relationships hip long before Avatar came along.
Saddam Hussein and Satan from 'South Park'
One of the most evil TV couples ever comes to us from the twisted minds of the creators of South Park. As it turns out, Saddam is actually the abusive, domineering one in the relationship, and his bad behavior eventually leads to the demise of the match made in Hell. To keep Saddam from breaking his heart again, Satan ultimately banishes the deceased dictator to Heaven. Their relationship might not be the most aspirational on this list, but they deserve a mention simply for being such an unexpected, downright insane pairing.
Cosmo and Wanda from 'Fairly Odd Parents'
The wand-wielding stars of The Fairly Odd Parents are yet another of the cartoon couples here that pair a more intelligent woman with an idiotic guy. Unfortunately for Wanda, her dimwitted partner is capable of performing magic, which makes husband-sitting all that much harder. If she's not constantly vigilant, her man just might just blow up another dwarf planet or destroy the lost city of Atlantis (again).
Brittany and Kevin from 'Daria'
Well, not all animated women are smarter than their guys after all. These two Daria characters might have the lowest combined I.Q. out of all the cartoon couples here, but everyone knows that the dumb jock and ditzy cheerleader are simply meant to be.
Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne from 'Batman: The Animated Series'
Like Romeo and Juliet, what draws fans to this superhero and supervillain couple is their star-crossed relationship. The civilized pair might run in the same social circles when their black masks are off, but they find themselves on opposite sides of the law when darkness falls. The Dark Knight’s insistence on being a do-gooder and Catwoman’s compulsion to steal expensive objects might mean that they can never be together long-term, but the bat and the cat will always be the purrfect pair to those who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series.
Cleveland Brown and Donna Tubbs from 'The Cleveland Show'
Cleveland Brown deserved the love of a good woman after what he went through with his first philandering wife, and he got it when he reconnected with his high school crush and moved back to his hometown of Stoolbend. While Cleveland is a softhearted and easy-going guy who obviously cares about his stepchildren, his hands-off parenting style isn't always effective when it comes to dealing with his wife's three kids from her previous marriage. Luckily, Donna is a no-nonsense woman who works hard at keeping her family in line -- even if it means occasionally treating her somewhat lazy manchild of a husband like he's one of their kids.
It's unfortunate that The Cleveland Show got cancelled, especially since it is one of the very few animated series ever produced that centers on a black family. However, fans of Cleveland and his clan occasionally get the chance to catch up with them on Family Guy.
Sterling Archer and Lana Kane from 'Archer'
This on-again, off-again couple composed of two secret agents is like 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' on steroids. It's difficult for sex-obsessed Archer to have a conversation with Lana without getting distracted by her "phrasing," and it drives Lana crazy that her playboy partner hardly ever takes anything seriously. It probably also doesn't help that Sterling is totally obsessed with himself and sloshed most of the time. Plus, his fake-out voicemail recordings are super annoying.
Aisha Tyler, the woman who voices the smart spy with a sexy sense of style (no, not Sterling), isn't sure that a monogamous relationship is in the cards for Archer and Lana. However, she thinks that the two might always be a part of each other's lives. Becoming a parent did seem to make Archer finally take something seriously, but who knows what the currently-comatose manchild will be like when he finally concludes his fantastic voyage through multiple dream worlds?
Ruby and Sapphire from 'Steven Universe'
When it comes to longevity, this couple has everyone beat -- Ruby and Sapphire have been together over 5,750 years.
Before the wholesome animated series Arthur was getting banned in Alabama for featuring a same-sex marriage, Steven Universe was making cartoon history with its sweet lesbian wedding. The Cartoon Network show has long been celebrated by the LGBTQ community for its message of acceptance and inclusion, but the series isn't just aimed at LGBTQ kids who desperately need more representation on TV; it appeals to all viewers with its dynamic characters and intriguing storylines.
Just try watching the sweet love story of unfused Garnet's too-cute two halves, Ruby and Sapphire, without tearing up and smiling like Steven does whenever he gets to embark on a new adventure with the rest of the Crystal Gems.
Nick and Diane Birch from 'Big Mouth'
These parents from Netflix's raunchy series about puberty are so supportive that they often go way overboard trying to make their kids feel loved and accepted for who they are. However, poor Nick Birch needs all that he can get; the teen is "going through chaaanges," and the only other "people" he can turn to for advice on surviving puberty are his inexperienced baby hormone monster and the promiscuous ghost of Duke Ellington that haunts his attic.
Unfortunately, Nick's parents sometimes have the opposite effect when they try to make their son feel more comfortable in his own skin. One example of this is the time Elliot Birch pantsed himself in front of Nick's classmates in an effort to make his mortified son feel better about being exposed on a zip line.
Elliot and Diane also have a tendency to share TMI about their sex lives in front of their kids, but raising their children in a household full of so much love and positivity ultimately pays off. Even though Nick isn't the best looking or most popular guy, his parents have made him so confident that he's immune from the unbearable self-loathing that the Shame Wizard so enjoys inflicting insecure teens with.
If I've missed any of your favorite cartoon couples on this list, be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why is miraculous not here?
Answer: Sorry, I haven't watched that one out yet. It sounds like it should be on here, and I might have to update after I've had a chance to check it out.
© 2019 Treva Leigh