Why can’t they just be happy? TV’s most tragic couples

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Some TV couples have a long road to happiness. Along the way, they have to overcome many hurdles in order to be with the one person they truly love. But even when they get together, these TV couples often don't stay together. Forget Romeo and Juliet: These TV lovebirds have tragic, heart-wrenching relationships that TV fans are heavily invested in. Despite all the drama and the pain, series devotees wouldn't have it any other way. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

Anna and Bates, "Downton Abbey"

Anna's relationship trajectory with Mr. Bates has been a real roller coaster ride. She likes him immediately, but he is nearly dismissed because of his injured leg. She tries to get closer to him, but he pushes her away because of his injury, age, and dark past. He leaves Downton, and Anna tracks down his mother to learn the real reason Bates was convicted of stealing; it was to protect his wife.

Bates wants nothing more than to be with Anna, but the return of his wife, Vera, means that Bates must return home in order to keep Vera from mouthing off about Lady Mary's scandal. Eventually, Vera commits suicide, and Anna and Bates can finally be wed. They have one night together, and then Bates is arrested for Vera's "murder."

Anna eventually proves that Bates was innocent, though it takes her the better part of a year. He is finally released from prison, and the two are living as man and wife. Anna and Bates have definitely earned their happy ending, but how long will it last? Given how Sybil and Mary's marriages have turned out by the end of Season 3, it seems unlikely that Anna is destined for a happy marriage.

Elena and Damon, "The Vampire Diaries"

In Season 3, fans heard Elena utter the famous words, "Maybe if I had met you first…" to Damon Salvatore. For the past three seasons, Elena had been in love with Stefan, Damon's brother (though she was secretly nursing feelings for Damon as well).

Fans learned through a flashback sequence that Elena actually had met Damon first, but he had compelled her to forget him. After three seasons of "will they or won't they" peppered with violent outbursts from Damon and declarations of hatred from Elena, it seemed like the two would finally get together in Season 4.

When Elena became a vampire, she found herself less attracted to Stefan and more attracted to Damon. Elena and Damon slept together, only for Damon to learn the next day that Elena's feelings for Damon might not be real, but rather the result of a "sire bond" between Elena and Damon (it was his blood that saved her life and turned her into a vampire).

The drama between these two is ongoing, with Damon ordering Elena to avoid him in a recent episode. He loves her so much that he only wants to be with her if she is in full control of her emotions. That commitment to do right by Elena may just result in him losing her for good.

Starbuck and Apollo, "Battlestar Galactica"

Bringing new meaning to the term "star-crossed lovers," the complicated affair between Apollo and Starbuck was one of the best things about the reimagined "Battlestar." They fall for each other instantly, but there's a major stumbling block in their way: Starbuck is already dating Apollo's younger brother. Later, Starbuck inadvertently causes the death of this younger brother when she clears him for flight training, despite the fact that he wasn't really qualified.

The brother dies while flying, forcing a wedge between Apollo and Starbuck. Every time they come close to getting together, one of them chickens out and gets involved with someone else. When both are married to other people, they try to rekindle their romance, but stop before things go too far. Just when it seems like they will finally get together for good, Starbuck dies. She reappears later in a miraculous, death-defying moment, but then disappears into thin air right in front of Apollo.

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