Literature is full of beautiful friendships, sweeping romances, and messy break ups. Every once in a while, though, we come across a literary friendship that could have—should have—been something more. Perhaps even something romantic? These literary couples are great as friends, don't get me wrong, but we can't help but wonder if they missed a huge romantic opportunity. So prepare your wildest shipping theories, break out the fanfiction, and join me on this tour of literary "friendships" that always felt like something more.
To be clear, I don't want to look down on friendships as somehow inferior to romantic relationships — both are important and valid and fulfilling. We already get far too much media declaring that sexual love is the only real form of love. But if you think those two hobbits weren't hardcore making out with each other in between chapters, you are simply mistaken. From ancient Greek warriors to Jazz Age bachelors, a lot of these characters might have been much happier if they just admitted that they were falling for their best friend (but not Harry and Hermione, you monsters, leave Ron alone).
So here are the bookish friendships that we always thought/hoped were secretly something more:
1Frodo and Sam
Oh, COME ON. Frodo and Sam are so clearly in love with each other. The whole series is a romance between these two brave little hobbits. And we're supposed to believe that Sam goes and marries someone else when he gets back to the Shire? No wonder Frodo skipped town with all those elves.
2Seamus and Dean
Honestly, Harry is so obtuse that Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas could have easily been dating for years without him really noticing. And even if they weren't canonically dating, their friendship always felt like it had the potential to teeter into romance at any moment.
3Jo and Laurie
OK, so Little Women is pretty explicit about setting Jo and Laurie up as a perfect couple, before suddenly swerving and marrying Jo off to some old professor guy. I'm sorry...what? She and Laurie are adorable best friends who were clearly in love with each other, why would you do this, Louisa May Alcott??
4Jaime and Brienne
This one could technically still happen, if Winds of Winter comes out sometime in the next century. But even if Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth never actually hook up, their friendship has some serious sexual tension to it. Brienne makes Jaime want to be a better person, Jaime makes Brienne think more realistically about her ideals, and the two of them are, y'know, not siblings.
5Sherlock Holmes and John Watson
Look, Dr. Watson's whole life is pretty much dedicated to writing about how Sherlock is an annoying genius. Sure, he has a wife at some point, but he seems way more invested in his "friendship" with Sherlock than in any of his romantic entanglements.
6Nick and Gatsby
Nick has a big ol' crush on Gatsby, and not just in a friendly way. We know that Nick is attracted to men because of that scene where he has sex with a man. Gatsby may not necessarily return Nick's affections but... basically anyone would be better than Daisy, dude, she's just not that into you.
7Gimli and Legolas
I feel like everyone focuses on all the orcs and whatnot in The Lord of the Rings, and not on the plethora of homoerotic friendships, which is just too bad. Especially because Gimli and Legolas are the ultimate will-they, won't-they couple.
8Betty and Veronica
Forget about Archie! You two make a way better couple. Archie comics have been going strong for a long, long time, and all those forced romantic plot lines with Archie are starting to get old. We know that Betty and Veronica are the real love story here. All that fighting over boys is just to cover up their real feelings.
9Hamlet and Horatio
Sorry, but Hamlet doesn't seem to really... like Ophelia. At all. We see him yell at her and sexually harass her and murder her dad, and that's about it. Horatio, on the other hand, is Hamlet's only friend through the whole play, and Hamlet dies while lovingly cradled in his arms.
10Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca
OK, I don't know if you can really call the relationship between Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca from Rebecca a "friendship." It's more like a friendly employer-employee relationship, and then Mrs. Danvers became obsessed with Rebecca and then Rebecca died. Regardless, though, it seems like there was a whole lot of (unhealthy) romantic love going on under the surface. Maybe try dating people you don't work for, Mrs. Danvers? ...and stop trying to bully young women?
11Sal and Dean
Here's the plot of On the Road, if you've never read it: two annoying philosophy bros go on a road trip and sleep with lots of girls, but mostly just kind of bum around impressing each other with how deep they are. Also they're probably in love and the prose is beautiful.
12Gene and Finny
Gene and Finny are a classic love story: opposites attract, they become inseparable friends, one friend knocks the other friend out of a tree, that friend becomes horrifically injured and later dies and it's a metaphor for World War II. Gene and Finny don't exactly have the healthiest friendship, but they do have a very romantic friendship.
13Achilles and Patroclus
Scholars have long debated whether Achilles and Patroclus were romantically involved or "just friends" who loved each deeply (and had sex). The Iliad never clarifies their relationship either way, but I think it's safe to say that they're almost certainly *more* than friends.
14Johanna and Katniss
Never mind Peeta and Gale. There is a shocking amount of Johanna/Katniss shipping out there on the world wide web, and looking back at The Hunger Games... I get it. Johanna is hot, fierce, and not a total bummer, which puts her lightyears ahead of Katniss's other romantic interests.
15Enjolras and Grantaire
There are a lot of characters in Les Misérables, but out of all of them, Enjolras and Grantaire might have the most romantic friendship. They're both revolutionaries who only have eyes for the cause (and each other), and they die tragically while holding hands.
16Sally and Mrs. Dalloway
This one is... pretty much explicitly romantic, since Clarissa and Sally do actually kiss in Mrs. Dalloway. But they are still officially "just friends" throughout the novel, despite their obvious romantic attraction and deep emotional bond.
17Scorpius and Albus
J.K. Rowling loves to announce after the fact that there were secret gay characters in her books, but she completely missed the opportunity to have Scorpius and Albus fall in love in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We can all agree, though, that their friendship will one day blossom into a beautiful romance, probably enraging both of their fathers.