Top 10 TV Odd Couples
VOICE OVER: Lisa Yang
WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Some relationships just make you go: huh? For this list, we'll be looking at 10 of the best duos on TV whose personalities clash for the better. Despite the term “odd couple,” only a few of them are in relationships.
We've included couples like Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson, Shawn Spencer & Burton “Gus” Guster, Sam & Dean Winchester and more!
Top 10 TV Odd Couples
Sometimes conflict makes for the best of friends. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Odd Couples.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the best duos on TV whose personalities clash for the better. Despite the term “odd couple,” they don’t actually have to be in relationships to qualify.
#10: Shawn Spencer & Burton “Gus” Guster
“You know that’s right.” These two lifelong friends bounce off one another in the best of ways. Shawn is a hyper observant fake psychic, while Gus is his partner in fighting crime, who also works as a pharmaceutical rep. Shawn’s incorrigible goofiness often causes Gus to act as his “straight man,” as he’s often exasperated by his buddy’s antics; though he’s not above getting in on the fun on many occasions. Their unorthodox and frequently silly attempts at crime fighting are enormously entertaining and as varied as Shawn’s many nicknames for Gus.
#9: Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson
A timely update of the original crime fighting odd couple, Sherlock Holmes is an anti-social, brilliant consulting detective and Dr. John Watson is his flatmate and partner. Sherlock is incredibly abrasive, condescending, and rude to just about everyone, including John, which gives his friend no end of headaches. While they frequently get on each other’s nerves, and they even come to blows on several occasions, there’s a genuine respect between them that’s very touching and they’re some of the best detectives on our list - though not the last.
#8: Sam & Dean Winchester
Hunting monsters is family business. The Winchester brothers carry on the tradition in grandiose style year after year, all the while contending with each other. Sam is the more sensitive and emotional of the duo, and Dean is more closed off, hiding behind his macho, sarcastic attitude. These two siblings frequently disagree with each other, whether it’s on family issues or how to stop the end of the world. When they’re of like mind, though, they’re a legendary pair of hunters whose exploits make even God take notice.
#7: Charlie & Alan Harper
“Two and a Half Men” (2003-15)
While we’re on the subject of brothers, these two dysfunctional siblings are another great fraternal odd couple. Charlie is a hard-drinking, rich, womanizing jerk, while his brother Alan is neurotic, nervous, and unlucky in the extreme. Whether it’s Charlie’s latest promiscuous escapade or Alan’s newest run of bad fortune, these two always find a way to argue or make things worse for the other, whether intentionally or not. Despite getting along like wet cats and rabid dogs, Charlie and Alan do love each other… deep down. Really, really deep. Like, core of the Earth deep.
#6: Temperance “Bones” Brennan & Seeley Booth
Initially all these two have in common is first names that they’re not overly fond of. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, whose education and temperament have isolated her from much of society and its accompanying graces and popular references, while Booth is the more down-to-earth FBI agent she consults with. “Bones” and Booth frequently disagree over everything, from their investigations to religion, but out of that conflict comes a great work dynamic (and sizzling sexual tension) that eventually turns into a romance and a family.
#5: Rustin "Rust" Cohle & Martin "Marty" Hart
“True Detective” (2014-)
The detectives that act as the focus for the first season of this anthology series, Rust Cohle is an intense, cynical, and brilliant detective, while his partner Marty is a more grounded family man, albeit a philandering one. Through the season’s flashback structure, the audience gets to see the development of their partnership, which starts because Marty is the only one who can stand Rust, though they’re not without frequent disagreements. Although they do have a violent falling out, they’re actually more alike than either is willing to admit and they ultimately reunite to solve an old case.
#4: Richard Castle & Katherine “Kate” Beckett
In yet another police-oriented duo who are opposites, Richard Castle is a successful, manchild of a novelist whose new inspiration, Detective Kate Beckett, is much more serious. Castle’s goofy, literary approach to crime often clashes with Beckett’s evidence-based one, though their personalities spark wonderfully off of each other. This leads to a fantastic relationship, both working and romantic; though the latter takes them a while. They may have their differences, but when they’re on the same wavelength, usually when they’re talking about a case, they can practically finish each other’s sentences.
#3: Bert & Ernie
“Sesame Street” (1969-)
These two Muppet roommates are definitely a mismatched pair, both in terms of personality and appearance. Bert is skinnier, has a unibrow, and the stripes on his sweater are vertical, while Ernie is wider, has no eyebrows, and the stripes on his sweater are horizontal. As far as their personalities go, Bert is introverted, responsible, and grumpy, even preferring bland foods. This contrasts with the more extroverted Ernie, whose naïve curiosity often gets him into trouble. Despite how different they are, these two have remained best friends for around half a century. Who says that bananas and oranges can’t get along?
#2: Fox Mulder & Dana Scully
“The X-Files” (1993-2002; 2016-)
We’ve had plenty of odd couple police partners on our list, but we’d argue that the best example is that of these two FBI investigators of the paranormal. Mulder is the believer, whose belief in aliens and other unproven phenomena is legendary, while Scully is a consummate skeptic. However, the many bizarre cases they deal with do lead Scully to be more open-minded as the series goes on. Their opposing approaches make for entertaining investigations and their excellent chemistry also leads to a romance, though it’s not quite as overt as with some of our other entries.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
Eleanor Shellstrop & Chidi Anagonye
“The Good Place” (2016-)
Gregory House & James Wilson
Spock & Leonard "Bones" McCoy (& James T. Kirk)
“Star Trek” (1966-69)
#1: Felix Unger & Oscar Madison
“The Odd Couple” (1970-75)
Who else could we choose for our top pick but the original odd couple? Felix and Oscar are both divorced men who share an apartment, but their similarities end there. Felix is a finicky and neurotic man who seems to find fault in everyone, including himself. Meanwhile, Oscar is a careless, short-tempered slob. The dichotomy between their personalities, and the conflicts that result from it, as well as their unconventional friendship, essentially created the modern odd couple archetype; finding a place onstage, in film, and on TV, multiple times -though the first TV series is one of the better iterations.