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Famous Love Triangles in Books and Movies

“You love her, but she loves him. And he loves somebody else … And so it goes until the day you die. This thing they call love, it’s gonna make you cry.” The J. Geils Band was right on the money with their ’80s hit—love stinks. The unrequited kind sure does, anyway. Then again, as countless movies and books have demonstrated, that’s also the kind we find most compelling. Just look at the mania surrounding The Hunger Games and the Gale, Katniss, Peeta love triangle. But long before the most talked-about love triangle of the last few years even entered the public consciousness, these famous on-and-off couples of film and literature captured everyone’s attention.

The Great Gatsby: Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan

The Great Gatsby: Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan

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Gatsby’s love for Daisy drives him to an obsession with wealth and the lifestyle associated with it—all to improve his standing in her eyes and win over her heart. She and Gatsby fell in love before he left for the war, but after his departure, she married the rich and influential Tom Buchanan instead. The book and film adaptation chronicle Daisy and Gatsby’s reunion and the nasty triangle that ensues.

The Princess Bride: Westley, Buttercup, and Prince Humperdinck

The Princess Bride: Westley, Buttercup, and Prince Humperdinck

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Westley and Buttercup only have eyes for each other, but Prince Humperdinck is determined to marry Buttercup—not because he loves her that much, but because he wants to call the most beautiful woman in the land his own. The movie tells the story of Buttercup’s unhappiness, Westley’s determination to save her, and Humperdinck’s vengeance against him. A giant, a miracle worker, and some excellent fight scenes are involved as well.

Twilight: Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, and Jacob Black

Twilight: Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, and Jacob Black

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You know the story. Girl loves vampire; vampire loves girl, but also wants to kill her a little bit. Werewolf loves girl; girl loves werewolf, but not in that way. Werewolf eventually gets over it, then falls head over heels for girl-vampire baby. Then, there's a war. Classic. But whatever your opinion on the Twilight saga, this love triangle set the standard for a crashing wave of love triangles, vampire and otherwise. I'm looking at you, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries.

Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet, George Wickham, and Fitzwilliam Darcy

Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet, George Wickham, and Fitzwilliam Darcy

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Elizabeth initially writes off Mr. Darcy, and perhaps not unfairly—after all, he does turn his nose up at what he considers inferior to him, including some of the other characters. Instead, she’s charmed by Mr. Wickham. Then she finds out some unsettling news about his past and finds herself liking Darcy more and more, especially as he learns to let go of his snobbery and reveal his kinder side.

Bridget Jones’s Diary: Bridget Jones, Daniel Cleaver, and Mark Darcy

Bridget Jones’s Diary: Bridget Jones, Daniel Cleaver, and Mark Darcy

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Is there a heart in the audience that doesn’t swell with happiness when Mark quietly says to Bridget, “I don’t think you’re an idiot at all. I mean, there are elements of the ridiculous about you … But in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you. Very much. Just as you are”? Oh, Mark. How Bridget doesn’t jump into his arms right then and there, we’ll never know. Daniel, despite being a total scoundrel, apparently still has a hold on her at that point. The fight between the two men ends up being a draw, but everyone knew who the real winner was all along.

Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Gale Hawthorne

Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, and Gale Hawthorne

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When Katniss and Peeta are selected to represent District 12 in the deadly Hunger Games, Katniss is torn away from her family and best friend Gale. But she finds a new friend in Peeta and eventually they pretend to fall in love with each other to earn the favor of Capitol sponsors. (Pssst. Peeta wasn't pretending.) After surviving the Games together, Peeta and Katniss are forced to continue their relationship ruse, upsetting Gale and further confusing Katniss's emotions.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo

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Even if you haven’t seen the entire Star Wars saga unfold over the years, you probably know that Luke and Leia find out along the way that they’re siblings. But in the first installment of the series, Luke has a big crush on Leia, who’s both drawn to and repelled by Han Solo. The love triangle ends up fizzling quickly (finding out you’re related will do that sometimes), but it’s intriguing while it lasts.

Gone with the Wind: Scarlett O’Hara, Ashley Wilkes, and Rhett Butler

Gone with the Wind: Scarlett O’Hara, Ashley Wilkes, and Rhett Butler

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Scarlett spends the majority of Gone with the Wind pining after Ashley, a man she idealizes as her perfect match, but he ultimately rejects her for his cousin Melanie. Sexy and scandal-inducing Rhett Butler is much more her equal, although Scarlett doesn’t realize it until quite late in the story. But fortunately for her, “quite late” doesn’t mean “too late”—after all, tomorrow is another day.

True Blood: Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman, and Bill Compton

True Blood: Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman, and Bill Compton

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Vampires and werewolves and faeries, oh my! After Sookie, a telepath and local waitress, saves vampire Bill Compton from certain death, the two begin a heated relationship. Things intensify when Bill introduces Sookie to Eric Northman, an older and more powerful vampire who is intrigued by Sookie and her powers. That intrigue turns into something more as the show progresses, but Bill isn't about to give Sookie up without a fight. If Bill and Eric aren't your style, don't worry. True Blood is full of smaller triangles; see Jason Stackhouse, Hoyt Fortenberry, and Jessica Hamby.

Pretty in Pink: Andie Walsh, Blane McDonough, and Duckie (Phil Dale)

Pretty in Pink: Andie Walsh, Blane McDonough, and Duckie (Phil Dale)

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Andie and Blane have a rocky start to their relationship, what with her being from the wrong side of the tracks and his being too wimpy to stand up to his snobby friends. Plus, her best friend, Duckie, doesn’t make their courtship any easier. The poor guy’s been in love with Andie for years, but she sees him as only a friend. Will true love help Andie and Blane move past their differences? Will Duckie get ditched at the end, only to catch the eye of an attractive blond girl at the prom? Watch the movie to find out!

Archie: Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper

Archie: Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper

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He may not look like a heartbreaker, but Archie Andrews has famously kept best friends Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge in an ongoing love triangle for more than 50 years. (You'd think one of them would have thrown in the towel.) While we don't recommend getting tangled up in a never-ending love triangle with your best friend, we do recommend Archie. He and his friends have entertained generations of readers with teenage antics, friendship, and love.

The Graduate: Ben Braddock, Elaine Robinson, Mrs. Robinson

The Graduate: Ben Braddock, Elaine Robinson, Mrs. Robinson

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“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me,” Ben realizes in the book and the movie. And how! But their secret affair comes to a screeching halt when Ben falls for Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine. The mother threatens to tell Elaine everything, so Ben tells her first—and naturally, Elaine is grossed out beyond belief and flees back to college. Ben follows her there and tries to patch things up, but a justifiably angry Mr. Robinson intervenes and arranges for Elaine to marry a classmate she dated, named Carl. Ben rushes to the church to stop the marriage and the whole story ends … well, not happily, per se. More like pensively.

The Age of Innocence: Newland Archer, May Welland, and Ellen Olenska

The Age of Innocence: Newland Archer, May Welland, and Ellen Olenska

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After his engagement to May, Newland sees nothing but blue skies and a blissful future ahead of him—that is, until May’s cousin Ellen comes to town on the heels of a scandalous separation from her husband. At first, he finds the whole situation distasteful, but the more he gets to know her, the more he understands her decision. They fall in love, but Ellen insists that Newland forget about her and marry May. As is the case with most love triangles, it’s a very painful experience for everyone involved.

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