Call me a simple gay, but I sure am a sucker for a really good love triangle. Who isn’t? It’s a classic trope for a reason. And the queer ones are always the best ones, so I figured I’d revisit some standout examples from television through the years.
As tends to happen when I write lists like this, I started way overthinking the definitions of “love triangle” and “queer love triangle.” Initially, I set out to only include love triangles that didn’t involve cis men at all, but that didn’t feel right — or fair to bisexuals! So in the instances of queer love triangles that feature cis and (ostensibly?) straight men, I stuck to ones in which the two women involved have a romance together at some point. You would think this would be obvious, but it meant ruling out a love triangle like Riverdale‘s Jughead/Betty/Toni, because even though Betty and Toni are both bisexual (Toni, explicitly so, and Betty a little more nebulously but in a manner I’d still consider canon), they never have a thing together, thus sparking my realization that perhaps the definition of “queer love triangle” is not simply “a love triangle featuring queer characters” but a love triangle in which queerness is acted upon within that triangle and fully at the surface. Meanwhile, I also couldn’t bring myself to include Cheryl/Toni/Jughead, because while Cheryl/Toni happens and Toni/Jughead happens, there is never really tension between who Toni might choose. It was more like Toni/Jughead naturally ended and then Toni/Cheryl got together. There’s queerness there, but it doesn’t have the trajectory of a love triangle! Few shows do love triangles (which at this point have so thoroughly transcended that particular geometry to look something more like love…helixes?) as well as Riverdale, which is also full of lesbian and bisexual characters, but I just couldn’t quite pinpoint a combination that worked for the purposes of this list!
After spending probably too much time crafting my own definition of and “rules” for this queer love triangle list, I inevitably will deviate at some point, because I’ve never been particularly good at sticking to definitions, even the ones I construct myself. If you’d like to argue with me over what “counts” and doesn’t count as a love triangle, by all means, do so! I’m highlighting the character combinations that feel like queer love triangles to me. And that’s my longwinded disclaimer!!!!
I meeeean, three witches of color in a love triangle together? This is my catnip, this is my religion, this is my anthem.
Lauren/Bo/Dyson, Lost Girl
Most of the time, I’m like GET OUTTA HERE DYSON! But truth be told, I do like the tension of this triangle, even if broody Dyson has to be involved. I’m now fondly recalling a simpler time on tumblr when my friends and I would photoshop his face onto vacuums. Take me back!
I know this is controversial, and I’m sorry!!! Sometimes love triangles are long drawn-out things, and other times, they are…let’s call them isosceles love triangles? What Sophie and Montoya had was brief, but it was real, and it intercepted Ryan/Sophie in a dramatic way!
Villanelle/Eve/Hélène, Killing Eve
Yes, they COUNT! Wives who stab each other belong together, I’m always saying. Both of these deadly women are obsessed with Eve! It is a fact.
Rose/Luisa/Susanna, Jane the Virgin
This is not REALLY a love triangle for reasons that are extreme spoilers, but I’m counting it since it still plays out like one! Because I am Me, I was always rooting for the ill-advised ship of Luisa/Rose and in fact have lost many precious hours (days?) of my life to consuming fan-made literature and art about them, but it sure was fun when the show explicitly about love triangles started introducing lesbian ones (again…sorta…there’s definitely a soap opera twist to this one). Also, I kept trying to figure out a way to get Petra and JR on this list, but they never felt like they were in a love triangle really! Jane was so done with Rafael by then.
Dani/Sophie/Finley, The L Word: Generation Q
So, even though this particular love triangle was not my cup of tea (I don’t get Sinley, I’m sorry!), I’d be remiss not to include them on this list. Although, I do think it should have been a rule on Generation Q that if you were in a love triangle, you also had to have a threesome. Which brings me to…
Alice/Nat/Gigi, The L Word: Generation Q
A love triangle that had a threesome together is a love triangle I enthusiastically endorse. That’s my political platform!
Tina/Bette/Jodi, The L Word
Sure, there were probably a lot of love triangles I could have selected for the original The L Word, but this remains a favorite! Sorry to her haters and to mine, but Jodi’s introduction into season four of The L Word remains one of my favorite arcs, and the Bette/Jodi sex scene IN Jodi’s art installation is top tier — emphasis on top since I do believe the only reason these two didn’t work out is because they’re top4top.
Tasha/Alice/Jamie, The L Word
Okay, yes, one more L Word universe entry. This love triangle was a doozy! What can I say, I’m addicted to emotional pain in my queer romantic storylines. 🥰
Idina/Hattie/Ida B., Twenties
One of the many love triangles on this list that screams MESS!!! And it’s no surprise Hattie is at the center of this particularly steamy three-sided polygon. Autostraddle EIC Carmen aptly pointed out that once upon a time there were TWO television shows airing on THE SAME NIGHT that featured love triangles comprising three queer Black women (Twenties and the aforementioned Batwoman) and WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!!!!!!
Here’s another show where “triangle” doesn’t really geometrically cut it when considering the shape of all the various intersecting and complex relationships, but this particular combo does count as a love triangle imo!
Lana/Kalinda/Cary, The Good Wife
Now, did this love triangle actually go anywhere? Not really! But Kalinda Sharma remains one of my favorite queer characters of all time, and I was equally invested in both of these relationships.
I am a big fan of this hyperspecific trope: a brother and sister who are both in love with the same woman, who loves them each (in different ways) as well. I mean, hello, I am marrying the author of Mostly Dead Things.
Forrest/Billie/Ivy, The Lake
Here we have another, albeit narratively distinct, iteration of the queer love triangle that involves siblings!
Spencer/Ashley/Aiden, South of Nowhere
Throwing it way back with this particular triangle! In the five years later special webisode for this series, it is revealed that this love triangle makes a baby together?! Ashley is pregnant as a result of Spencer donating an egg and Aiden donating sperm! That’s a beautiful love triangle development right there!
Amy/Karma/Liam, Faking It
Whewwwww this love triangle was MESSY! In a good way! It had so many twists and turns that I genuinely didn’t see coming!
Kat/Adena/Coco, The Bold Type
Adena has to decide between Kat and Coco on more than one occasion, and it’s DRAMA every time!
I will be a Brittana shipper til the day I die, but I’ll take a little drama in the form of a love triangle even when it comes to them. Also, “Trouty Mouth” lives in infamy.
What are your favorite love triangles from television?