Triangles are formed by connecting three different points. While all angles must add up to 180 degrees, they need not be equal. While three humans must be present, in mainstream Hollywood, it seems that one of them must be a woman and two must be men. With the possibility of a ménage a trois hanging in front of the viewer’s snout like a carrot on a stick, these romantic constructs have been the bread and butter of romance narratives around the world. They’re just so dang topical: ladies get tickled by the prospect of two shirtless guys getting sweaty and duking it out in the mud pit to win her hand—guys love any excuse to get shirtless and duke it out in the mud pit for some deferred and unimportant payoff. Because this narrative still appeals to wide audiences, writers and actors can just mail it in. Check out our list of the best (worst) love triangles.
The Twilight Saga: Edward X Bella X Jacob
In his apocalyptic scripture, the prophet Daniel writes: When vampires and werewolves make peace, so the world will know destruction; the end times are nigh.
There will always be scruffy tramps and refined, hip vamps, and women will always be attracted to both for different reasons. The whole identity rivalry that this triangle inspired represents everything wrong with millennial romance. You’re either on team Edward or team Jacob. Cat or dog, Democrat or Republican, peanut butter or jelly... “only a Sith deals in absolutes” (Obi-Wan). Dudes: grow a pair of confidence oranges in your psychic orchard. Ladies: let them fight it out—natural selection will prevail.
The Hunger Games: Gale X Katniss X Peeta
Ah, there’s no aphrodisiac like bloodsport. This triangle is a little more in the isosceles department, and these young folks are just trying to survive in a screwed up world. External forces—like destiny, or gravity, or bureaucracy—brought Peeta, Katniss, and Gale together. But it can be so hard to decide between a cool hunter revolutionary dude and the beta male baker. In Mockingjay, Katniss reflects: "What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again."
Keep looking, sister—Mr. Right probably died at the hands of government injustice.
The Mortal Instruments: Jace X Clary X Simon
Clary Fay is a seemingly ordinary teenager in New York. She finds out she numbers among a long line of Shadowhunters, and then shit gets licentious. Come on, Clary! Choosing between your best friend and your... brother? Simon's the predictably attractive but lovable nerd, and Jace is the lanky hunk with good hair. Early in the book series, Jace is referred to as Clary’s brother, but his biological background remains a mystery throughout (including the time when one guy falsely claims that he’s his father). If this love triangle involves sibling intrigue, I’m on board. Also, Clare might be the latest Stephanie Meyer/J. K. Rowling, but the film adaptation for City of Bones (2013) flopped—hard.
Harry Potter: Ron X Hermione X Harry
Ron Weasley might be summed up as the youngest and least competent of six wizard brothers. He’s also a friend of the most famous wizard in history. "Inferiority complex" does not begin to cover it. Despite this, he and Hermione have got it going on! What? I mean, Harry might have botched the whole Cho Chang operation, but it’s fine. She was Rowling’s expendable minority. Alas, Granger’s muggle-born heart wants what the heart wants. Interestingly, this particular love triangle is often listed by fans as "Harry, Ron, and Hermione." Harry and Ron are the nerdy world's golden boys. Not even Hermione can come between them.
X-Men: Cyclops X Jean X Wolverine
I feel like we’re back at Twilight. Jean Gray’s mutant power is that she has a woman’s intuition, but it doesn’t take telekinetic abilities to know that the two men she loves bear incredibly dangerous physical attributes. I sense character nuance. What if Jean Gray is just addicted to danger? Find a safer alternative for those urges, girl. Take up base-jumping or something. Keeping up with the X-Men series over the past twenty years or so has been exhausting.
Teen Wolf: Lydia X Stiles X Malia
Marty McFly is a werewolf and it’s awesome. He becomes amazing at basketball and surfs on top of cars.
Oh wait, never mind. Team Jacob is back, and they have their own TV show now! We had to sift through literal wagon-loads of film reel to find a two-girl-one-guy love triangle. Come on, Hollywood! What year is it? Lydia is a brainy beauty with the power to sense when someone dies. Stiles in the goofy but attractive (normal) human best friend of the bunch. Malia is a were-coyote. We don't really know how to explain this one. Either way, Stiles had been in love with Lydia since grade school, but the predictably popular girl has blown him off all his life. Meanwhile, Malia is fiercely protective of Stiles. Who will win? Who knows. We just want to see some car surfing.
The Vampire Diaries: Damon X Elena X Stefan
The cheap pop-country playing behind both kisses gives this love triangle away as the fourth-worst immediately. When that dastardly Silas and Amara drank Qetsiyah’s immortal elixir, Nature found a balance by creating amorous mortal shadow selves, or dopplegangers! Stefan Salvatore is a vampire doppleganger, Damon Salvatore is his older, regular vampire brother (still not sure how that works), and Elena Gilbert, a cured vampire/human doppleganger (seriously), completes this oblique three-way love plot. Who cares how it works? This love triangle has found harmony. Elena chose Damon, and I guess Stefan is cool with it. What? A resolved love triangle? No thanks.
True Blood: Bill X Sookie X Eric
The whole Bill-Sookie-Eric thing certainly begins as a love triangle "yes." But then TV drama goes down. Our third most loathed love triangle only exists because Sookie can never make up her mind! By the end of Season 4, she gets with Alcide. Later, she tells Bill that they’re never getting back together, and that she’s not interested in Eric. Then there are Sam and Ben/Macklyn. This is almost as tiresome as the whole X-Men thing.
Lost: Jack X Kate X Sawyer
When lost on a desert island, dodging polar bears, dealing with a manipulative cult-esque leader, and pondering a mysterious sequence of numbers, someone’s bound to find love. Clocking in at number two, the main love triangle in Lost is the one that we love to hate. Jack, an emotionally vulnerable surgeon with inferiority/Daddy issues wants to turn his gang of mangy plane crash survivors into a well-oiled, operation-room-savvy group of team players. Kate’s got a fever; Jack’s got the cure. Sawyer, a smooth-talking, cigarette smoking, lone wolf of a con artist with a sexy paunch will survive no matter what it takes. With the right tools and booze supply, he and Kate could survive indefinitely together. Kate, a self-reliant vagabond who prefers to burn down her troubles rather than face them, wants to turn her life around. We still don’t quite understand what happened, but we suspect they’re dead. Remember when they made the raft? That was never going to work.
Game of Thrones: Tyrion X Shae X Tywin
Lannister family drama could only claim our number one worst love triangle. In classic mythology, when a jilted lover takes revenge on her man, she usually prays to the gods, who then transform her into some plant or animal. In the world of Game of Thrones, it leads to courtroom drama!
Tywin puts his dwarf son on trial for never being good enough, even though he’s got a great resume. It goes back to the fact that his mother, Tywin’s wife, died while giving birth. All Tyrion did to thank her for it was run off and get drunk until duty called. He served his family in an administrative role with great diligence. Shae saw through the alcoholic tendencies and grew to love Tyrion during their time together at King’s Landing. Tyrion soon feared for both their lives and sent Shae away to safety. Shae is a strong, independent woman. She hates that chivalric dude shit. As revenge, she agrees to testify against Tyrion. Tyrion kills both of them. The end!
Seriously though, why do all fantasy movies have love triangles?