- Platonic friendships are rare in popular media, but shows like BoJack Horseman and Parks and Recreation showcase solid examples.
- Even in shows with romantic elements, like Friends and Stranger Things, some characters maintain strictly platonic relationships.
- Big Mouth and Buffy the Vampire Slayer also highlight the power of friendship, showing how it can support personal growth and even save the world.
Film and television have long been loaded with stories of romantic connections. Even if romance isn’t the central focus, the genre seems to pervade others frequently. Romance can be found in anything from action movies to horror flicks, and while today’s popular media has made room for more overt LGBTQ+ representation, most romances are exclusively heteronormative: being between a man and a woman. Amorous connections between those of different genders is seen as a forgone conclusion so often that platonic relationships are rare.
Popular queer ships, even those utilizing common romance tropes, are either framed as one-sided, wholly reliant on subtext, or relegated to the realms of fanfiction: the pairing of Supernatural’s Dean Winchester and Castiel being one infamous example. However, it seems that whenever the slightest connection is made between male and female characters, the two will inevitably begin dating, regardless of their compatibility, suitability for other people, or the complete lack of romantic tension between them. Some shows manage to break the mold, showcasing solid, sweet, and very much needed examples of male and female friendships.
10 BoJack & Diane
Were it not for BoJack Horseman’s unique and subversive take on the classic sitcom formula, BoJack Horseman and Diane Nguyen would’ve ruined their friendship. BoJack’s prevalent issues with women were a major theme for much of the series, with Diane remaining one of the few female characters to have not joined his list of ex-lovers. While the two’s friendship was every bit as unhealthy as it was loving and painfully realistic, a tremendous amount of dignity was demonstrated in not allowing them to cross that line.
9 Phoebe & Joey
In a series all about break-ups, make-ups, and self-discovery, it isn’t any wonder that of Friends’ six main characters, four of them end up together. While the friendship between Phoebe and Joey remains one of the strongest in the series, it was not without the flirtation, near-hookups, and obvious attraction that would ordinarily lead characters down the aisle. While this has led many to theorize that Phoebe and Joey may have had a secret relationship, the idea of such a solid friendship devolving into a clandestine affair is just that: an idea. Nothing beyond a genuine platonic love ever developed between them, with Joey even introducing Phoebe to Mike Hannigan (Paul Rudd): her future husband.
8 Leslie & Ron
Parks and Recreation
The relationship between Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson is unique in that, unlike many of its predecessors — and the friendships that came after it — these two are defined by their chemistry as an iconic duo, al a Batman and Robin, with absolutely zero romantic tension between them. While many other on-screen friendships often allude to sexual attraction, flirtation, or experimentation with the idea, Ron and Leslie remain both warm and unshakably platonic. The pair’s ups-and-downs, their compatible eccentricities, and their undeniable love for each other is what makes their friendship one of the greatest ever depicted.
7 Steve & Robin
Though Scoops Ahoy co-workers Steve and Robin began on an antagonistic foot, the two quickly formed a bond, stumbling into an evil conspiracy and saving the world from malevolent forces. When Steve reveals he has feelings for her, Robin comes out as a lesbian, prompting immediate understanding and acceptance. While Steve does question Robin’s taste in women, he supports her without question: an especially sweet development considering that Stranger Things’ small-town setting in the 1980s.
6 Audrey & Noah
Scream: The TV Series
While Scream: The TV Series never quite found its footing with audiences, one consistently enjoyable element is the immediate platonic chemistry between best friends Audrey Jensen and Noah Foster. Dubbing themselves “the world’s saddest crime-fighting duo: Bi-curious and The Virgin,” Audrey and Noah’s in-jokes, compatible personalities, and unwavering mutual support made them a wonderful example of a loving and unshakable friendship. Though the two share an ill-conceived kiss at the start of season 2, the short-lived series was quick to return them to an already perfect status quo.
5 Jessie & Matthew
While often maligned for its gross-out humor and unflinching look at the horrors of puberty, Big Mouth has quite a lot of heart, none more so than in its depictions of friendship. A notable example of this is the bond between future activist Jessie Glazer and the out-and-proud Matthew McDowel. Jessie has served as a support system for Matthew multiple times throughout the series, even inadvertently pushing his once bigoted parents toward more progressive views.
4 Sokka & Toph
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Toph and Sokka share an understated, yet strong bond. The acclaimed animated series has been praised for its depictions of found family, with Toph and Sokka serving as a shining example. Sokka is often most likely to melt the hardened Earth Bender’s tough exterior, offering uncharacteristically sage advice, and always providing support and protection when needed. While some fans speculate that Sokka may be the father of at least one of Toph’s daughters in the spin-off series Legend of Korra, the theory has been largely disproven.
3 Marceline & Finn
While not the most prominent relationship in Adventure Time, the friendship between Marceline and Finn is both subtle and solid. A painfully brief and horribly misguided crush, evolved into a loving, yet understated bond like that of a brother and sister. As did Finn’s relationship with Marceline’s actual love interest, the beautiful Bonnibel Bubblegum.
2 Xander & Willow
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In a series chockful of meaningful relationships, Xander and Willow have earned a spotlight. Friends since early childhood, their bond culminates in a love that is literally world-saving. Late in season 6, Willow is twisted into an unrecognizable force for evil after being overcome by grief. Xander is the one to break her barriers, sharing a touching story about a broken yellow crayon, and allowing his love to change her back. The scene is sweet, heart-breaking, and an overwhelming example of the power of amicable bonds.
1 Lucifer & Mazikeen
While the affable devil and his savvy right hand are technically ex-lovers, Lucifer’s six-season run proves that their friendship is stronger than hellfire. Mazikeen, while hot-headed, is exceptionally loyal and surprisingly loving. Lucifer, for his part, displays an overwhelming amount of care for his “best fiend,” specifically when at fault for rifts in their relationship. After successfully reuniting Mazikeen with her bride-to-be, Eve, Lucifer proudly serves as best man.