2021 has been a great year for animation and even brought to the fore some interesting romantic subplots. Adding a little romance is one of the oldest tricks in fiction, but love triangles are a fun spin on a normal romance story that can spice things up and have fans reaching for their favorites.
Love triangles can be used for comedic effect or to heighten the plot. Often the best cartoon love triangles involve the protagonist, but there are also some fantastic ones with supporting characters. Either way, each adds a bit of fun excitement to the story.
Danny Ghost was one of the most beloved cartoons of the 2000s. The main trio of Danny, Sam, and Tucker formed a fantastic and fun cast of characters that kids can relate to.
Danny and Sam’s relationship has grown throughout the series to become romantic, but Sam has had a few competitors throughout the series. At first it was Paulina, but part-time Ghostbusters Valerie and Danny developed something of a romance over the course of the series. This love triangle could have been a little more fleshed out, but it was intense while it lasted.
While they’re best known as one of the best comic book love triangles, this X-Men trio also got plenty of drama on TV screens and silver screens.
The trio appeared in several iterations of x-men cartoons, including X Men, Wolverine and the x-menand X-Men: Evolution. The actual romance between Wolverine and Jean varied between versions, and luckily it was completely eliminated in the versions where Jean and Cyclops were portrayed as teenagers.
Butch Hartman’s cartoons have always done a solid job of including fun depictions of childhood crushes without making those crushes too much of a part of the show.
my godparents are magic featured two admittedly somewhat one-sided crushes: Timmy’s crush on Trixie and Tootie’s crush on Timmy. The two crushes have rarely crossed paths in the plot, but both play important roles in Timmy’s adventures. He would often make crazy wishes or go out of his way to pursue Trixie and avoid Tootie.
adventure time is a lively show with such a rich history and lore that it deserves a adventure time film. For now, however, fans will have to make do with the original series and Obsidian.
The Bubblegum/Finn/Marceline love triangle had intrusions from a few different characters, namely Flame Princess. The love triangle is somewhat hampered by Finn and Bubblegum’s only real two-sided romantic elements that occur when Bubblegum is in his younger form. Once she returns to normal, things become exclusively Bubblegum/Marceline focused.
Total Drama Island and the following series in the Total drama The franchise had a fun cast of characters, but the originals had some of the best relationships around.
Duncan and Courtney were the primary relationship in the triangle, with Duncan and Gwen being a frequent “are they okay or not” question throughout the series. The love triangle ends in a fairly common way for love triangles to end: Gwen and Courtney as close friends with Duncan out of the equation for both of them.
Diana / Peanut Butter / Cavalier Bojack
Bojack Rider is arguably one of the best cartoons of all time, and Season 1 revolves heavily around the love triangle between the titular characters and his working associates: Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane.
The first season’s love triangle is relatively one-sided. Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane are in love and got engaged mid-season. On the other hand, Bojack quickly falls in love with Diana and eventually falls completely in love with her despite her lack of interest in him. Bojack’s actions have negative consequences throughout the series, and his feelings for Diane are one of them.
Jimmy Neutron follows the titular boy genius as well as his friends Carl and Sheen. Among the main characters is also Jimmy’s main academic rival and friend: Cindy.
Cindy and Jimmy begin the series as feuding enemies and rivals, with Cindy having a crush on the stereotypical “popular cool kid” Nick. As the show progresses, Cindy’s feelings for Nick fade as it becomes quite clear that she and Jimmy have a crush on each other. The series ends with Jimmy and Cindy holding hands.
Code Lyoko had a surprising number of couples in the series, Jeremy and Aelita being the most common couple and the center of interest throughout the story.
William Dunbar was one of the best cartoon villains of the 2000s, but he was also a member of the Lyoko team and one of Yumi’s main love interests. He constantly clashed with Ulrich, who had had a crush on Yumi since Season 1. Their feelings became more open later in the series, with Yumi thinking of William more platonically as the series progressed.
It’s always interesting to see love triangles where the protagonist isn’t at the center of the action. Even more interesting is a complete love triangle, where all the members have had a romantic involvement.
Korra/Mako/Asami is one of the only truly “complete” love triangles in popular fiction. Mako and Korra had a lot of “will they or not” early in the series, with Mako initially serving as the center point of the triangle. Eventually, all members of the three had been romantically involved at some point, with Korra and Asami being the final couple.
The King of Nowhere / General / Woman
Centaurworld is a Netflix cartoon series featuring a world of “half-animal, half-man things”. Centaurworld has a cast of mostly likable characters, but Woman and the King of Nowhere doesn’t belong on this list.
The King of Nowhere started out as a young Elktaur who thought he could never be with the woman he loved, so he split into a human and an elk. Half human married the princess while half Elk grew resentful and became the monstrous Nowhere King. Unfortunately, neither had a happily ever after in the end.
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