When it comes to good television, it usually takes two to tango. Two is the magic number of innumerable television classics, whether you’re talking about fantastic comedy teams, passionate romance pairings, unshakable crimefighting combinations, or unforgettable hero-villain confrontations. In light of this, we’ve put up the list of the all time best tele series duos ever. They all show the power of the most basic equation of all: one on one. Husbands and wives, cops and robbers, and closest friends for life are all present.
#1 Arya Stark and the Hound, “Game of Thrones”
Yes, their relationship only lasted for 10 episodes and started with a kidnapping. It also ended with one of them abandoning the other for dead. Then what? The unlikely pairing of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, a much older mentor in murder, and feral Arya Stark made them the Bonnie and Clyde of Westeros for the duration of the fourth season of Game of Thrones. They were both ultraviolent tough guys and posed a challenge to the idea of extremely violent tough guys in the very first place.
#2 Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, “Portlandia”
He is the king of Saturday Night Live. She is an alum of Sleater-Kinney? On paper, it might seem strange, but this chameleonic pairing of a punk-rock legend and a musician/sketch comic is somehow the ideal tool for mocking the pretenses of Pacific Northwest hipster dom. Their performance of Toni and Candace, the argumentative couple who run the philosophically unproblematic feminist bookstore in the most well-known recurring comedy of the program, is sufficient to guarantee their legacy on its own.
#3 Kenan Rockmore and Kel Kimble, “Kenan & Kel”
Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the generation’s answer to Abbot and Costello, rode their combination of good-natured and idealistic dry humor to the pinnacle of preadolescent comedy superstardom, first on the Nickelodeon sketch show All That, then in its spinoff movie Good Burger, and their two-man showcase Kenan and Kel. Thompson has enjoyed a long and well-regarded stint on Saturday Night Live but getting there was aided by his comic connection with Mitchell’s hysteria.
#4 Mulder and Scully, “The X-Files”
Can intellectual conflict, unwavering loyalty, platonic companionship, and raw sexual tension all coexist with professional ethics? I wish to think so. Simply put, Dana Scully and Fox “Spooky” Mulder were and still are the most interesting and complex female and male pairings to ever appear on television.
Chris Carter, the creator of the X-Files, could not have created a better pair of FBI agents to represent the pre-millennium paranoia in his series than Mulder and Scully, nor could he have cast two better actors to play them. Mulder’s fanaticism and Scully’s skepticism, her cool and his heat, David Duchovny’s and, uh, Gillian Anderson’s irresistible sex appeal, they are every great TV duo at once – friends, foes, partners, lovers — which makes them the best of all.
#5 Lucy and Ethel, “I love Lucy”
Regardless of whether the engine is sputtering out of control, a great comedic pair is comparable to a well-oiled machine. Therefore, the renowned I Love Lucy episode when Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance transform into employees on a chocolate factory assembly line and use all means necessary to keep the candy moving is the best source of proof of their factory-precision collaboration. The secret to Lucy and Ethel’s friendship was that they actually felt like friends who would go above and beyond to help each other out of any situation.
#6 Bert and Ernie, “Sesame Street”
Generations of kids learned the meaning of friendship from these two characters. Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, was such a unique brilliance that the personalities of the BFFs from Sesame Street could be identified solely through phrenology: While Bert with a pointy skull was buttoned-up and serious, Ernie with a round head was vivacious and comical.
The orange and yellow housemates at the center of Henson’s long-running program were his yin and yang par excellence. Henson’s TV inventions did not lack famous pairs, including Big Bird and Mister Snuffleupagus, Statler and Waldorf, Kermit, and Piggy, Statler and Waldorf, and Statler and Waldorf.
#7 Captain James T Kirt and Mr. Spock, “star Terk”
The fraternity that spanned personalities, cultures, and even species was between the hot-headed, hot-blooded human and the frigid, emotionless Vulcan. In Gene Roddenberry’s ground-breaking science fiction series, Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Mister Spock (son of Sarek) represented the opposing impulses of Cold War liberalism: One was impulsive and passionate, and the other was scientific and analytical.
The characters made actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy into legends, and you can still find traces of their relationship in characters like Obi-Wan and Anakin as well as Iron Man and Captain America in modern times.
#8 Benson and Stabler, “Law and Order; SVU”
Unless you saw the collaboration at the heart of the venerable Law & Order spin-off develop in real-time, we’re not sure it’s possible to capture it on paper. Then, as their competitive professional dynamic gradually gave way to something much deeper, you saw Mariska Hargitay’s delicate but tough colleague and Christopher Meloni’s gun-toting Irish Catholic detective lock horns and break hearts (and sexier). To put it simply, it takes black magic to transform a program with such unsettling subject matter into a setting for an unspoken, forbidden love.
#9 Don Draper and Peggy Olsen’s “Mad Men”
The story of the mysterious tall, dark, and gorgeous guy whose silhouette featured in the credits first appeared to be the focus of Matthew Weiner’s instant classic prestige-drama period piece.
But as time went on, Don Draper and Peggy Olson, his protege, became co-protagonists, with more or less equal attention being paid to both of their arduous ascents past the glass ceiling and downward spirals. When you watch “The Suitcase,” the best episode of the series, you realize there was a wonderful two-hander embedded in Mad Men simply dying to get out. Their final phone call is the most moving moment of the show.
#10 Batman and Robin “Batman”
Glorious pop culture excellence! On this pop-art-inspired rendition of DC Comics’ Dynamic Duo, actors Adam West and Burt Ward won a lifetime pass as the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder, respectively. If you were an adult, that is, you couldn’t help but giggle as they performed their clean-cut, square-jawed heroics. They battled the Joker, the Riddler, Cat woman, the Penguin, and the rest of the rogues’ gallery, and their biff-bam-pow daring was the stuff of heroic fantasies for young readers.