Whether great friendships between lifelong pals or contentious partnerships characterized by friction as much as affection, the history of Television is full of perennially appealing teams of two. Here are some of our favorite iconic TV duos.
Lucy and Ethel – I Love Lucy
In many ways, I Love Lucy helped invent iconic television, creating moments and characters that have endured in the popular imagination for over 70 years. And while the situational center of the series was ostensibly the TV duo of Lucy and her husband, Ricky Ricardo, it was Lucy’s friendship with Ethel Mertz that produced the most consistent laughs, the wildest gags, and the greatest memories.
This pair of friends were there for each other through zany adventures, such as their ill-fated stint at a chocolate factory, madcap cover-ups, as when Lucy lost her wedding ring, and so much more.
As great friends do, they certainly fought and got on each other’s nerves, but their ability to reconcile and their steadfast commitment to one another made them absolute friendship goals.
Batman and Robin – Batman (1966 series)
This dynamic TV duo is synonymous with the idea of a pair of partners and friends. Even though they existed in the comics before they made the leap to the small screen, the classic live-action Batman TV series cemented them in popular culture at a level they had never quite reached before.
Sure, the series is quite silly, but it’s also self-aware and pokes fun at its own campy ridiculousness, while staying anchored in the crime-fighting friendship between Batman and the Boy Wonder.
It is the series’ blend of earnestness and zaniness, underscored with a humor and wordplay that was often lost on younger viewers, that has, as the series’ narrator might say, kept this powerful pair perennially popular.
Bert and Ernie – Sesame Street
Though named after the cop and taxi driver from It’s a Wonderful Life, this educational TV duo has a lot in common with another iconic television pair who deserve a mention on this list—Felix Unger and Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple.
Ernie’s rambunctious energy and messy ways frequently clash with his best friend Bert’s proclivity for cleanliness and generally uptight demeanor, but these two stick by each other through everything, always working out their differences. Originally performed by the legendary team of Jim Henson and Frank Oz, Bert and Ernie taught us from our earliest years what it means to be friends, along with giving us great songs about rubber duckies and pigeons.
Laverne and Shirley – Laverne & Shirley
Though their goofy upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy probably also deserve a spot on this list, the TV duo of Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, played by Penny Marshall and Carol Williams, came to rule the airwaves during the run of this Happy Days spinoff.
Working unenviable jobs as bottle cappers in a brewery, the friends and roommates had each other to lean on as they struggled through life in their basement apartment, trying to make their dreams come true. Their deep friendship got them through the trials of dating, working woes, and even a move to Burbank, California, where they really moved up in the world and became gift wrappers.
Mork and Mindy – Mork & Mindy
We’d be hard-pressed to think of a more lovable and zany alien/human TV duo than this one. The incomparable comedic talents of Robin Williams as the wacky Mork character he had originated on Happy Days was a constant source of chaos, irritation, and pure joy in the life of Mindy McConnell, a patient and kind journalism graduate played by Pam Dawber.
Living together in Boulder, Colorado, and trying to keep Mork’s identity as a refugee from the planet Ork out of the limelight as much as possible, the two work together through the travails of ordinary life, or as ordinary as it gets when your best friend is from another planet.
Jerry and George – Seinfeld
For the best conversations about nothing, count on this TV duo of the fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld, played by himself, and his best friend George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander. There was no bit of trivia, no part of the minutiae of life, no discussion of dating, soup, or dry cleaning that these two New Yorkers couldn’t hash out over a table at their local diner.
Their passionate, contentious, infuriating, and hilarious conversations are the stuff of comedy legend, images of which have been some of the most widespread meme fuel on the internet.
When it comes to making hilarious mountains out of everyday mole hills, these two are masters of their domain.
Mulder and Skully – The X Files
Is there any TV duo more indicative of the struggle between faith and doubt, wonder and skepticism than Fox Mulder and Dana Scully? These secretive FBI paranormal investigators stuck together through everything from a cancer diagnosis to a retelling of Frankenstein and black and white with the music of Cher.
No matter the monster or mystery of the week, or their profound philosophical differences, Scully and Mulder are always there for each other, offering partnership, support, and no shortage of verbal barbs and romantic tension.
Signified by Mulder’s office wall poster of a flying saucer and the words “I Want to Believe” juxtaposed with Scully’s constant refusal to do just that, the push and pull between this pair of brilliant detectives kept audiences coming back for more every episode, for both the original run and its revival.
SpongeBob and Patrick – SpongeBob Squarepants
One of the most ubiquitous pop culture forces to come out of the late ’90s and early 2000s, SpongeBob SquarePants was anchored by this TV duo of the titular yellow sponge and his big, pink starfish friend. Through countless ridiculous scenarios, this pair has been through enough together for multiple ordinary lifetimes.
Where they’re laughing at each other from their cribs to their graves, dressing up as Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man, or diving to the seafloor from a fishing lure they used as a playground toy, SpongeBob and Patrick are always reveling in the simple joys of life together with a bond we can’t help but envy.