21 pairs of TV co-stars who had to keep working together after breaking up in real life
There have been plenty of celebrity love stories that began on set and ended happily ever after.
But for every successful relationship, there are co-stars that couldn't make it work off-screen.
However, instead of being able to avoid their ex, they had to keep working together on-set.
Madelyn Cline and Chase Stokes broke up in between filming seasons two and three of "Outer Banks."
Cline and Stokes, who play star-crossed teen lovers Sarah Cameron and John B on "Outer Banks," began dating in 2020 after meeting on set. They dated for over a year before breaking up in November 2021, according to People.
However, they had to begin filming season three a few months later, in February 2022 — and their characters, unlike the actors, were still very much in love.
The former couple spoke to Entertainment Weekly in February 2023 about what it was like to work with an ex.
"We made a promise to each other before we even started dating that the work was always going to come first," said Stokes. "And that no matter what happens in our personal lives, and the ways that life sometimes takes you in different directions, that we're always going to honor the work. That stayed 100% truthful this season."
Cline said, "We had a working relationship before we had a personal relationship, and our job from day one has always been to leave the show better than we found it."
Camila Mendes and Charles Melton broke up in December 2019 after a year of dating, and they had to continue filming "Riverdale."
Mendes and Melton aren't the first couple to start dating on "Riverdale," but they were the first to break up, after a year of dating. The two play Veronica Lodge and Reggie Mantle on the hit teen soap, though their characters mainly had just a physical relationship — as Veronica would say, she and Archie (played by KJ Apa) are "endgame."
In real life, the two began dating in August 2018, while they were filming season three. One Met Gala, multiple Instagram posts, and one year later, the two broke up officially in December 2019, and briefly got back together in 2021. The only issue? They've had to continue seeing each other while filming seasons four, five, six, and now seven.
For now, both Veronica and Reggie are on the show, though who knows how things will shake out when the show reverts back to the classic '50s "Archie Comics" vibes.
Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse dated both on and off screen for years on "Riverdale," but they broke up in March 2020 after three years.
Betty and Jughead, aka "Bughead," are arguably one of the most popular and beloved couples from "Riverdale."
However, the same might not be true for the actors who play them. While Reinhart and Sprouse took years to confirm that they were dating, their social media posts made it pretty clear before that. In May 2020, People reported that the two co-stars had called it quits after three years.
It took months for either party to confirm the split, but in August 2020, Sprouse finally addressed their split on Instagram. "Lili and I initially separated in January of this year, deciding to more permanently split in March," he wrote. "What an incredible experience I had, I'll always feel lucky and cherish that I had the chance to fall in love. I wish her nothing but the utmost love and happiness moving forward."
Their characters, similarly, have broken up on the show, with Betty dating Archie and Jughead dating a new character, Tabitha.
Penn Badgley and Blake Lively dated for three years before they broke up in 2010. Their characters on "Gossip Girl" got married in the show's finale two years later.
Lively and Badgley co-starred in "Gossip Girl" as Serena van der Woodsen and Dan Humphrey, respectively. Their characters dated on and off throughout the show's six seasons, from 2007 through 2012. The show's finale ended with a time jump showing the two getting married inside a chic NYC apartment.
In real life, however, it wasn't meant to be. Badgley and Lively were first linked in 2007, and went public with their relationship in 2008. They announced their breakup in October 2010.
During an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live" in 2015, Badgley called Lively both his best and worst on-screen kiss. He told host Andy Cohen that Lively was "best because we actually had a relationship at the time," but also worst "after we broke up."
Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody broke up a few months before their characters on "The OC" got married.
Seth and Summer, played by Brody and Bilson respectively, were one of the most iconic fictional couples of the aughts. Fans were delighted when it became clear that Brody and Bilson were together off-screen as well, beginning in 2003.
People reported their breakup in December 2006, smack in the middle of the show's fourth and final season. "It was a typical romance and they just grew apart," a source told People at the time. Two months later, during "The OC's" February 2007 series finale, Seth and Summer got married, a bittersweet occasion for fans of the actors.
However, Brody and Bilson seem to be on good terms — every "OC" fan was taken for a trip down memory lane in August 2019 when Bilson shared a selfie on Instagram of the two, having run into each other at the airport on a flight back to California.
They reunited again during an episode of Bilson's "OC" rewatch podcast, "Welcome to the OC, Bitches," in October 2021.
"He was just such an important person in my life at such a crazy time that it just felt like I'm seeing someone super dear to me, and it's been so long. It was just catching up with like an old family member," Bilson told People when speaking about the episode.
Few knew at the time, but "The Big Bang Theory" stars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco dated for two years of the show's 13-season run, from 2007 to 2009.
Yes, Penny and Leonard actually dated in real life, too. Except, their relationship was a secret that almost nobody knew about until a year after their breakup, when Cuoco dropped the bomb during a 2010 interview.
"It was such a huge part of my life and no one knew about it. It was a wonderful relationship but we never spoke a word about it and never went anywhere together," Cuoco said during the CBS Watch! interview.
Their IRL relationship, which spanned the show's first two seasons, must have ended on good terms as they continued to work together on the show for another 11 seasons. During this time, their characters got together, got married, and revealed in the finale that they were having a baby.
Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray were married and divorced a full four years before Murray's character Lucas left "One Tree Hill."
Bush and Murray played Brooke Davis and Lucas Scott, respectively, on long-running teen drama "One Tree Hill." Their characters made up two-thirds of the show's most iconic love triangle — with Hilarie Burton's Peyton Sawyer being the third prong (and eventual endgame relationship).
But in real life, Bush and Murray appeared to be the winning couple. According to People, they began dating during season one of the show, in 2003, and were married in April 2005. But they split in September, just five months later.
The show's third season began airing the next month, and Murray starred on it until season six. Bush stuck around for all nine seasons.
In 2018, Bush told Andy Cohen on his SiriusXM show that getting married "was not a thing I actually really wanted to do."
Bush then dated her "Chicago P.D." co-star Jesse Lee Soffer from 2014 to 2015. She stayed on the show until 2017.
Bush and Soffer began dating in 2014, the same year the show premiered. In addition to their off-screen relationship, their characters Erin Lindsay and Jay Halstead (known to fans as Halstead), were also in a relationship on the show.
Their relationship lasted about a year, before their breakup was reported in June 2015. Bush then left the show after season four in 2017. She'd later go on to call the set "intolerable" and cited "abusive working conditions" in 2018.
Soffer told TV Line in November 2017 that it was "sad" Bush left. "You know, it's always sad when a cast member leaves a show. We're a huge family, and she's a huge part of making the show what it was. We all created something together, and so that's always difficult," he said.
Soffer then dated another member of the "One Chicago" family, Torrey DeVitto, for eight months until 2019. They each stayed on their shows for years afterwards.
Soffer stars on "Chicago P.D." as Jay Halstead, while DeVitto is a regular on "Chicago Med" as Dr. Natalie Manning. However, due to the integrated nature of the "Chicago" shows, sooner or later the two will probably have to share the screen — their shows recently crossed over in October 2019, but they didn't interact.
While the two never dated on-screen, Natalie was once engaged to Jay's brother, Will, another main character on "Chicago Med."
They first began dating in August 2018, and their split was reported in May 2019. DeVitto left "Chicago Med" in 2021 after seven seasons, while Soffer left "Chicago P.D." in 2022.
Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan starred on "Alias" together for all five seasons, but they broke up in real life two years before the show ended.
While "Alias" was ostensibly a spy thriller, the heart of the show was the relationship between Sydney and Vaughn, played by Garner and Vartan respectively. Their on-screen chemistry translated to real life, and the two started dating in 2003, right around the time their characters confessed their feelings for each other as well.
However, they broke up a year later — shortly after, Garner would begin dating future ex-husband Ben Affleck. But the saga of Sydney and Vaughn continued until the show's 2006 finale, where they lived happily ever after.
In November 2018, Garner wished Vartan a happy 50th birthday on Instagram, proving that these exes have remained friendly.
Alexis Bledel and Milo Ventimiglia reunited for "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" in 2016, 10 years after their breakup.
Bledel and Ventimiglia broke up in July 2006, after more than three years together, and a few months after Ventimiglia made his last "Gilmore Girls" appearance (on the original series) as resident Stars Hollow bad boy, Jess. His character didn't return for the show's final season.
But, when the "Gilmore Girls" revival was announced, fans were excited that Rory, Bledel's character, could potentially reunite with Jess. While the revival didn't go exactly as one might have hoped, Jess and Rory had plenty of adorable scenes for fans to obsess over.
Milo Ventimiglia dated another one of his co-stars, Hayden Panettiere, during their time on "Heroes."
Ventimiglia and Panettiere broke up in 2009, a year before "Heroes" ended its four-season run. They had been together since 2007.
While their two characters, Peter and Claire, did enjoy a close relationship, it was entirely platonic — they were actually revealed to be related, as Claire's father was Peter's brother Nathan.
Ventimiglia told menswear magazine Mr. Porter in 2017 that he learned one lesson from dating a co-star: "Never do it again."
Dominic Monaghan returned to "Lost" after his character's death in season three, which meant reuniting with his ex, Evangeline Lilly.
Monaghan and Lilly both starred on "Lost," which aired from 2004 to 2010. While their characters, Charlie and Kate, never entered into a romantic relationship, the two actors did from 2004 to 2009.
Charlie died during the show's third season in 2007, but returned for three episodes of the show's final run in 2010. In 2013, Monaghan implied that Lilly cheated on him in a cryptic tweet.
During a September 2022 appearance on Anna Faris' podcast "Unqualified," Monaghan delved a little deeper into their breakup. "I think I've only really got my heart broken once in my life. I was dating an actress on 'Lost' called Evangeline Lilly, who, you know, has gone on to have a name all of her own," he said.
"And yeah, you know, I don't really know how she would explain the narrative, but from my point of view, it was probably the first time in my life that I was just kind of all in," he continued. He also doubled down on Lilly's alleged infidelity.
Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder dated for three years while co-starring on "The Vampire Diaries." Dobrev remained on the show for two more years after the 2013 breakup.
Dobrev and Somerhalder began dating in 2010, long before their characters Elena and Damon began their turbulent relationship on "The Vampire Diaries." In fact, their 2013 break-up came right at the beginning of their character's love story — awkward.
Dobrev left the show in 2015, at the end of the show's sixth season, though she returned for the show's series finale in 2017, which showed Damon and Elena living a long and happy human life together.
The "Fam" star explained on "Watch What Happens Live" in January 2019 that she's friends with Somerhalder, and his wife Nikki Reed. "Why can't everyone be friends? I think they have a beautiful baby, and they are happy and so am I. What's bad about that? I don't see any problem with that," she said.
Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer called off their engagement in 2007. Two years later, their characters on "House" got divorced.
Morrison and Spencer met in 2004 on the way to shoot the "House" pilot, and eventually got engaged over the holidays in 2006. However, they called off their engagement in August 2007, with a joint statement to People saying, "After much consideration, we have decided not to get married. We are still very close, and we look forward to continuing to work together on 'House.'"
Their characters, Cameron and Chase (first names Alison and Robert), were also unlucky in love. Their on-again/off-again relationship began in season two, while the two actors were still together in real life. But their subsequent on-screen wedding — and divorce — happened two years after their real-life breakup.
Morrison ended up leaving the show in 2009, but returned for a cameo appearance in the 2012 series finale.
Katharine McPhee and Elyes Gabel worked together on "Scorpion" for two more years after they broke up.
The two co-starred in CBS' crime procedural "Scorpion" from 2014 to 2018, while McPhee and Gabel dated from 2014 to 2016 — they were spotted kissing in between takes during the first season of the show. Us Weekly reported their breakup in 2016, with a source telling the publication, "It's amicable and they remain friends."
On "Scorpion," their characters Paige and Walter had a long-standing will-they-won't-they relationship, but the show ended on a relative cliffhanger, so fans never had closure.
Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter played siblings on "Dexter," but off-screen they were married and then divorced.
This off-screen relationship is a little different — these two played brother and sister Dexter and Deb Morgan on "Dexter," as opposed to hooking up on-screen.
Hall and Carpenter eloped on New Year's Eve in 2008, after secretly dating for over a year. However, they filed for divorce two years later, in 2010. The two would continue to play siblings for the next three years until the show's finale in 2013.
"Our marriage didn't look like anyone else's. And our divorce didn't either. So, I've said it before and we've said it before. Just because the marriage ended doesn't mean the love did. It's an awkward thing to talk about your personal life in front of a bunch of strangers, but there's nothing but love and respect. Nothing," said Carpenter in 2013.
When "Dexter" was revived in 2021 as "Dexter: New Blood," both Hall and Carpenter returned to their roles, 11 years after their split.
Charlie Weber and Liza Weil worked together on the final season of "How to Get Away With Murder" after breaking up in February 2019. They got back together in 2022.
The two co-starred on "HTGAWM" from its first season in 2014 through its sixth and final season, and their characters, Frank and Bonnie, have been involved in an on-again/off-again relationship. A rep for Weber confirmed to People that the two began dating in 2016.
Unfortunately, the two announced their breakup in February 2019. "We will continue to support each other and will always love working together," said Weber in a statement to People.
The show aired its finale on May 14, 2020, and throughout the final season, the two continued to interact and even — spoiler alert — died together, Romeo and Juliet-style.
In June 2022, Weber confirmed the two were back together in an Instagram post for Weil's birthday, although he's since deleted it, leaving their relationship status unknown.
While Jessica Szohr's and Ed Westwick's characters on "Gossip Girl" very briefly explored a relationship, they dated for two years in real life before breaking up in 2010.
Szohr, who played Vanessa, and Westwick, who played Chuck, dated from 2008 until 2010, smack in the middle of the series' run. "Gossip Girl" aired from 2007 to 2012.
Perhaps coincidentally, Szohr's character left the main cast during season four in 2010, though she did reappear for a cameo in the series finale.
The two kept in touch after the breakup, though. After Westwick was accused by multiple women of sexual assault in November 2017, Szohr explained how she was in a complicated situation by being his ex.
"I have known Ed for years and know how lovely he is, and don't think he would ever put someone in a position like that," she told Cosmopolitan in 2017. She also added that she had spoken to him since the news broke.
Westwick appeared on Szohr's "Gossip Girl" rewatch podcast "XOXO" in February 2022.
BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling had a long, complicated relationship during "The Office," but remain best friends to this day, and worked together on "The Mindy Project."
Novak and Kaling played Ryan and Kelly, respectively, for all nine seasons of "The Office," as well as working behind-the-scenes as writers.
"We were never really dating, we were never really not dating," Novak said in an interview with Vulture in 2012.
"We kind of fell in love through [writing for the show], and then dated on and off for a couple of years, and now we are just, like, best friends," Kaling also told Vulture.
After their tenure on "The Office," the two continued to work together, with Novak executive producing the pilot of Kaling's sitcom, and eventually appearing throughout the show as one of her character's suitors.
Kaling also revealed in May 2019 that Novak is her daughter's godfather.
Neither Crystal Reed nor Daniel Sharman lasted long on "Teen Wolf" after their 2013 breakup.
Both Reed and Sharman left during season three of "Teen Wolf" in 2014, with Reed's character Alison dying in the penultimate episode, and Isaac, portrayed by Sharman, leaving in the finale to grieve his girlfriend's death.
Reed revealed their breakup in June 2013, telling Us Weekly that she took a solo trip to Paris to help mend her broken heart. They were both gone from the show in 2014.
Reed returned to the "Teen Wolf" universe in 2023 as part of "Teen Wolf: The Movie." Sharman skipped the film.
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