During the Simpsons’ marriage, countless TV couples have parted ways. As Marge and Homer’s legal separation nears, here are 12 TV breakups — from the funny and light to the more serious — that have stuck with us longer than some of the relationships lasted.
1. Jess and Nick, “New Girl”
They don’t have anything in common except for the fact that they love each other? Um, isn’t that the most important thing? Here’s hoping that this one won’t stick, a la Ross and Rachel in “Friends.”
2. Jerry and Marlene, “Seinfeld”
Nearly every episode of “Seinfeld” involved a breakup. “They’re real and they’re spectacular!” is a classic, of course. But my personal favorite is when a woman breaks up with Jerry after watching his act. She is not impressed: “I can’t be with someone if I don’t respect what they do.” You and me both, sister.
3. Robin and Barney, “How I Met Your Mother”
Love or hate the series finale, this was the breakup that finally made it possible for Robin and Ted to end up together.
4. Ross and Rachel, “Friends”
How many times did Ross and Rachel break up? Seriously, how many times? It’s hard to tell. Near the beginning of their relationship, Ross tells Rachel: “You going to have to understand that you’re with a guy who’s not going to stop planning his future with you. Because he knows we’re going to end up together. And if that scares you, tough.” That set the tone for one of the most iconic on-again, off-again relationships in sitcom history.
5. Carrie and Berger, “Sex and the City”
There were bigger breakups on the show, of course, but the Post-It note has outlived the show. There was a time when e-mail breakups seemed so crass they could be synonymous with the Post-It split. Now that text-message breakups are common, what is the new Post-It — a SnapChat see-ya?
6. Felicity and Ben, “Felicity”
The most lasting scene from this breakup isn’t the actual parting of ways, but Felicity’s drastic haircut that follows. “When I walked into the hair-cutting place, I was taking a leap,” the Keri Russell voice-over goes. “But I wasn’t doing it for some guy, or because of some list. I was doing it for me.” Cheers to Felicity, for being solo-ish in style rather than wallowing. Little did we know this would foreshadow Russell’s current big role — as Elizabeth Jennings in “The Americans” — where there’s a new hairdo almost every episode, although for much weightier reasons than “some guy.”
7. Cory and Topanga, “Boy Meets World”
Not that we’re a fan of relationship games, but Cory failed this one. Big time. Similar to Felicity’s split, there’s a lot of growing up in this one. Even though these childhood sweethearts eventually make it, this one stung.
6. Luke and Lorelai, “Gilmore Girls”
In a role reversal for a show that’s all about the banter, Luke is the wordy one here. He goes on for more than two minutes — saying he’s how he’s finally ready to marry Lorelai Gilmore and listing off places they can go to get hitched: Maryland, Vermont, Maine, Atlantic City, Las Vegas. When Lorelai is finally able to get four words in edgewise — “I slept with Christopher” — it levels a relationship that took years to build. Sleeping with the father of your only child will do that.
9. Cristina Yang and Preston Burke
Leaving without saying a word? So much for being a doctor of the heart, Burke. In a single breath, Yang’s “he’s gone” devastation melts quickly into relief. “I’m free” is as pure Yang as that choker and wedding dress are not.
10. Buffy and Angel, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
Buffy: “I want my life to be with you.”
Angel: “I don’t.”
Way harsh. These star-crossed lovers didn’t last, but the vampire obsession lives on. As Buffy and Angel warned us, vampire-human relationship never work out.
11. Tyrion and Shae, “Game of Thrones”
Next time you’re breaking up with someone — even if it’s to save your lover’s life — say anything but this: “You’re a whore. … I can’t be in love with a whore. ” Tyrion goes on to kill her several episodes later. So a lot of good that did them.
12. Ryan and Marissa, “The O.C.”
After Ryan and Marissa’s breakup, conducted on a flip-phone (so 2006!), Marissa goes into a tailspin and starts drinking and doing cocaine. Season three ends with Marissa dying in Ryan’s arms after a car crash, reminding us that death is the ultimate breakup.