The 10 Best Gal Pals In TV History

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Welcome to Gal Pal Week on Autostraddle.com! Usually, our queer identities are discussed in three contexts: relationships, family, and politics. But our queerness plays a role in our friendships, too, and this week is all about that. We’re celebrating gals who are genuinely pals (not girlfriends labeled “gal pals” by weirdo mass media.) We’ve got lots of fun content lined up — most notably a set of Queer BFF interviews — as well as new “gal pal” merch you’re gonna love!

Real, organic friendships between two women on television aren’t easy to find; those kinds of friendships between two queer women are as rare as unicorns. So to kick off this week, we’re counting down ten of our favorite TV gal pals.


Shane and Alice, The L Word

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Neither Shane nor Alice were great at love, but they were the best at being best friends. Whether they were comforting each other’s heartbreaks, dropping tough-to-take truth bombs, forgiving each other for their fuck-ups, or baking gay brownies, they always showed up for each other when it counted. They were the only relationship on The L Word that was sure to last forever.


Santana and Quinn, Glee

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Sometimes gal pals never cross the friendship line; sometimes they do. Forever gal pals bounce back from their scissoring shenanigans and fall back into being best friends again. So it was with Santana and Quinn, who enjoyed a drunken hook-up at Mr. Schuester’s (non-)wedding, but had no trouble returning to their former status quo: tough love and performing in their high school cheerleading uniforms far beyond an acceptable age.


Willow and Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Buffy revealed herself as bisexual in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s season eight comic books, did you know? Which means she and Willow are two of the greatest queer gal pals in history. Not only did they constantly bring out the best in each other; they literally saved the world over and over and over again. You can call a real gal pal in the middle of the night if you need to talk about your feelings. You can call the best gal pal at any time to help you thwart the Apocalypse.


Big Boo and Nicky, Orange Is the New Black

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Big Boo and Nicky’s competitive gal palship keeps them on their toes. When Nicky comes back from max (and she’d better!), we assume they’ll pick right up where they left off.


Madam Vastra and River Song, Doctor Who

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Oh, you know, just a lesbian lizard woman from the dawn of time and her bisexual half-Time Lord gal pal. Sometimes they do things like make dinner plans via wibbly-wobbly time-traveling communication devices; sometimes they do things like save each other’s spouses. Either way, it’s always an adventure.


Tasha and Papi, The L Word

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A no-chemistry, one-night hook-up in college led Papi and Tasha to being two of the most relatable, least insufferable people in all of The L Word history. With all the entitled hijinks going on in WeHo, it’s no wonder two of the most down-to-earth, loyal women gravitated toward each other. It’s too bad Tasha couldn’t save Papi from falling off at the earth at end of season five, the way Jenny and Sounder II drifted out to sea.


Bo and Tamsin, Lost Girl

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The best gal pals can survive universe-shattering disasters and an occasional bout of unrequited love — as with Bo and Tamsin, who sometimes make out to power up Bo’s succubus energy reserves and sometimes make out because Tamsin’s heart gets tangled up, but mostly don’t make out and instead spend their time fighting humans and fae to keep the earth safe from the hell beasts that are constantly trying to blow it up. They always put the other person’s best interests first and they’re the only ones who can consistently make each other belly laugh. It’s a gal pal-ship made in Valhalla (literally).


Max and Anne, Black Sails

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It started when Anne tried to keep Max from getting abused aboard her boyfriend, Jack’s, ship. Anne stood guard outside Max’s door and threatened to do a lot of gruesome things to the sailors if they stepped out of line while they were in with Max, who was a sex worker repaying a debt to Jack at the time. It progressed to Anne and Max sleeping together and confusing Anne’s cynical heart a whole lot. And it ended with Anne returning to her boyfriend, but tag-teaming with Max to bring home a whole lot of treasure. Just a couple of queer pirates sailing the high seas, hand-in-hand.


Alison and Emily, Pretty Little Liars

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Before Alison was buried alive by her mother and pulled from her would-be grave by an elderly seer, Emily was her favorite Pretty Little Liar. Posing as a ghost, she pulled Emily from a lodge fire and a carbon monoxide-filled barn, where Emily had driven at the behest of a talking doll. As for Emily, she never really believed Alison was dead; she knew she had to be hiding under one of those masks of her own face, somewhere out there. Yeah, they kissed and kissed and hooked up at least once, and maybe what they feel for each other will one day evolve into something more, but while they’re on the run from the omniscient cyberterrorist ninja who is trying to ruin their lives, they lean on each other in gal pal-ship. Emily staying friends with an ex is a big deal. Almost as big a deal as one of Emily’s ex-girlfriends being alive.


Poussey and Soso, Orange Is the New Black

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Poussey wanted a girlfriend. Soso wanted a prison family. They ran into each other occasionally, enjoyed some time in the same cult, but it wasn’t until Poussey saved Soso’s life that either of them realized they might have something special together. Are they friends? Are they more? For the moment, they’re gal pal sea otters, floating in a pond, hand-in-hand. And that’s just enough.


Did I miss your favorite TV gal pals? Notify me immediately in these comments!

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 865 articles for us.

48 Comments

  1. You know, I’m tired of The Doctor lately, especially with the current show runners. But I just imagined a show that’s female focused where River, Vastra and Jenny travel around the universe kicking butt and being awesome and now I really want that!

    Very excited for Gal Pal week! 😀

    • I mean, I’m all about the Buffy/Faith relationship, but they did try to literally murder each other. Multiple times.

      Personally, I think the f/f friendship on that show that deserves more attention than it gets is the one between Buffy and Tara.

  2. Wait, I feel like an idiot for sayin this but so gal pals just means queer girls that are best friends? I always assumed it mean girls that were friends with benefits but not girlfriends. Oops?

  3. I re-watched the L word last year in a prolonged state of underemployment and my biggest takeaway was from that picture of Shane and Alice, being,”I HAVE BEEN TO THAT PARTY. I WANT TO GO TO THAT PARTY AGAIN. I WANT TO EAT GAY BROWNIES WITH BESTIES AND DANCE TO THE JACKSON 5. THAT IS ALL I WANT IN MY SHORT WEIRD LIFE.”

    • tho also yes to tasha and papi being buds. all of these remind me of friend who I have had a beautifully cultivated bromance for a long time (tho they are genderqueer and I am femme but I didn’t have better language to be like this is a queer bestie deal) but like queer besties, there is nothing better. One of my best old gal pals who I would storm around with until she moved to Berlin- she was the greatest-and we also had this running deal for several months where we would go on dates with the same people and compare notes later.


  4. Rizzoli and Isles ! best gal pals ever. I honestly think these two leading ladies have more chemistry going on then half the lesbian pair ups I’ve seen. It’s in the eyes, the flirty conversations and the friendship love.
    This must be one of the most lesbian shows on Tv right now. They basically live together, they eat together, they share their mother, they run interference if any other love interests come on the scene and they are both hot!

    • I totally agree! The show’s getting gayer every week and I’m getting a lil bit frustrated but no, I will never give up on Rizzles haha this gif is from the end of S01E01 where it all started, right? I said to myself “Oh so they’re together? I didn’t know this was a queer show” but gosh I was wrong. Or maybe after 6 seasons they will finally profess their undying love to each other LOL

      • Yes! I said to my lady, how good will it be (and ultimately sad as well) when the show *has* to finish and they decide in the last episode to allow the lesbian love to reign supreme. All that tension, released. Rainbow flags and glitter all over Boston.

  5. So excited for Gal Pals week!

    In addition to Emily and Alison, I would put in Emily and Hanna’s galpalship. Hanna’s line to Emily in season 1 “Ben, Maya, we don’t care who you’re with, we love Emily” can still make me tear up. I would also add Alex and Nicky on OITNB. I hate that they never had a single scene together this year. What a waste.

    Finally, just a smaaaaaaall nitpick. Does Buffy’s one night stand with Satsu in season 8 really make her bisexual? After it’s over, she basically says “yeaaaah that was new and interesting, but I will probably never do it again.” And she doesn’t. I thought it was made pretty clear that that one-night stand just confirmed for her that she’s straight? Obviously, something could happen in the future and prove me wrong, but as of where things stand now, in season 10, I thought it was made pretty clear that she tried it, and wasn’t into it.

  6. Where are Xena and Gabrielle on this list!? That’s a glaring omission considering their early and important contribution to lesbian tv fandom. Aren’t they the original OTP/Femslash couple?

    From what I can tell, only one of the shows (Buffy) aired before 2000. There may be other omissions from the 90’s or earlier ‘history’. I’m shocked that Xena didn’t make this list!

    • @midnightmartini + @aphrodykee Gabrielle and Xena didn’t make the list because if you consider them canonically queer — and I do — they were married, not gal pals. Even Lucy Lawless said so. If you don’t consider them canonically queer, they can’t be on this list, because they’re not queer.

  7. Whoa whoa whoa… Poussey and Soso? 10 Best? Have they ever even had a full conversation?

    I don’t care how straight Taystee is, Poussey and Taystee’s friendship is one of the best on TV, period.

  8. Though they never actually had any actual on-screen hookups/romance/galpal relations on screen, Cara and Kahlan from the short-lived Legend of the Seeker were quite the galpals, as I recall.

  9. Ugh, queue very intense, fond nostalgia over that episode of the L word with shane and alice sitting on the kitchen counter eating brownies. The whole “I Want You Back” table top dancing scene is like a dream to me now.

    actually i just remembered dawn denbo and her lover cindy and now i have nothing else to say

  10. I love this! Alice and Shane make excellent sense but also Alice and Helena (although Helena probably counts as like, 3 different characters given her regular personality transplants).

    I mean, the show was ridiculous but I adored the little relatable moments between platonic gal pals – like when Alice called Helena about Jenny and Shane or when they all sit on Alice’s bed and talk about stuff or when Alice and Shane burst out laughing over the brownies.

  11. Callie and Mariana! They’re technically step-sisters, but also such great friends and I love them so much! Or even Mariana and Emma, equally as great: they’re both hugely intelligent young women and super different and I love them both so much <3

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