Valentine’s day is just around the corner, and you know what that means! No, not chocolate or fancy dates or anything like that. Nope, around here, we celebrate Valentine’s day a little differently – and by that, I mean I make lists about my favorite fictional couples and try to sound like an actual adult while writing about them.
In all seriousness, I do have my fair share of favorite couples (or “ships,” as the fanpeople would say). Whether it’s books, TV shows, movies, or video games, there are some really strong, healthy relationships in fiction. Even as someone who isn’t much of a romantic, I do love seeing happy and supportive couples, and so in celebration of Valentine’s day, here are a few of my favorites and why I love them so much.
There may be a few vague spoilers ahead, so tread carefully!
Percy & Annabeth (Percy Jackson & The Olympians series)
If you grew up reading middle-grade fiction like I did, chances are, you probably love Percy and Annabeth too. Over the course of the five books in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, we see them grow from being tense acquaintances to close friends to one of fiction’s most beloved couples. As a reader, it’s a joy to get to watch that unfold.
Unlike many other YA couples, there isn’t much that changes after Percy and Annabeth start dating. There’s still the sassy banter, the selfless supportiveness, and the genuine respect and care they have for each other. Because of that, not only are they one of my favorite fictional couples in general, but they’re also a great writing inspiration for me.
Zach & Cammie (Gallagher Girls series)
So yeah, I might be a bit biased because of all the super awesome and hardcore spy stuff (like breaking into secure government facilities, kidnapping/rescuing an ambassador’s son, stopping terrorists…), but these two are an amazing couple. They each know the other is more than capable taking care of his/herself, but they always have each other’s backs. Even for spies in training, it’s hard to know who to trust, but they can always rely on each other.
Day & June (Legend trilogy)
June meets Day while she’s undercover, searching for the person who allegedly killed her older brother. She and Day hit it off, but things get complicated when she realizes he’s the supposed criminal she’s looking for. Later, however, the two join forces to fight against their corrupted government (as you do in any dystopian novel, really).
What makes Day and June special to me is the dedication in their relationship. They go through a lot of hard spots in their relationship, like when June believes Day’s the murderer, or when she isn’t as committed as Day is. There are times of strain, but when it comes down to it, they still care deeply about each other.
Ruby & Sapphire (Pokémon Adventures manga)
I’m a sucker for intense rivalries between characters, and that’s exactly what the dynamic between Ruby and Sapphire is like. Sapphire is a brash, wild girl who loves the thrill of Pokémon battles, while Ruby is a rather prideful guy who prefers aesthetic Pokémon contests. As you can imagine, when they first meet, they don’t get along. After trading a few snappy comebacks, Sapphire proposes a bet where they each must reach their personal goal within the next eighty days.
From there, it’s a frantic competition, and while Ruby and Sapphire’s rivalry is certainly entertaining, what I like most about them is their character growth through this “arc” of the manga. Ruby becomes more selfless, largely in part because he sees how willing Sapphire is to help when a crisis threatens their homeland. Sapphire, on the other hand, becomes less abrasive and confrontational. I love how these characters challenge each other (sometimes inadvertently), which makes them one of my favorite couples.
Kai & Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles series)
Cinder is a cyborg and skilled mechanic living in the Eastern Commonwealth, a place where, unfortunately, cyborgs are treated as second-class citizens. When the prince of the Commonwealth, Kai, visits Cinder’s machine shop to get his android repaired, Cinder hides the fact that she’s a cyborg. They become acquaintances, but when Cinder nearly kills the villain in order to save Kai’s life, her identity as both a Lunar and a cyborg is revealed, and she’s arrested.
What I think is most interesting about Kai and Cinder is that for much of the series, they spend time apart – Kai is busy ruling his kingdom after his father’s death, and Cinder is a fugitive. Despite this, they still have a strong connection. Although Marissa Meyer has a lot of strong couples in her Lunar Chronicles series, I love the way she works with Kai and Cinder through the four books, and watching their relationship grow through the series is enjoyable.
Alek & Deryn (Leviathan trilogy)
Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy takes place in an alternate version of World War I, with the two sides using different technologies. Alek is the son of Archduke Ferdinand, and when his parents are assassinated, he flees Austria. Deryn, on the other hand, has disguised herself as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service (historical fiction, remember). Though they’re on opposite sides of the war, the two of them meet when Deryn’s airship, the Leviathan, crashes in Switzerland, where Alek is hiding.
Because of the whole secret-identities and being on opposing sides thing, Alek and Deryn (called “Dylan” by the other crewmembers) start off as tense acquaintances. However, because Deryn’s real identity isn’t revealed to the other characters until the final book in the trilogy, it gives them the chance to become close, platonic friends, something I love to see in fictional relationships. Their personalities also play well off of each other, and like with many other entries on this list, they help each other grow.
Link & Zelda (The Legend of Zelda franchise)
Although perhaps not an “official” couple, the relationship between Link and Zelda is still one of my favorites. It’s reminiscent of old fairy tales, with the princess being saved by the knight in shining (or in this case, green) armor, but there’s so much more to it than that.
Despite Link being a silent protagonist, he does actually have a fascinating character, and it’s hard not to admire the courage and determination he shows in fighting for Hyrule. And Princess Zelda is more than just a damsel in distress – especially in more recent games, she’s been directly involved, sometimes even fighting alongside Link in his quests. Though their dynamic may not always be clear, it still holds a special place in my heart.
- Thorne & Cress (The Lunar Chronicles)
- Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
- Apollo Justice & Athena Cykes (Ace Attorney franchise)
- Joe Solomon & Rachel Morgan (Gallagher Girls)