You know those shows that you watch pretty much just so you can see the titular characters hook up?
I love a lot of shows for a lot of reasons, but if I’m not actively shipping two characters in said show, I start to lose interest, which explains why I hated Season 4 of Buffy so very, very much. (I mean, seriously, who was I supposed to root for? Harmony and Spike? Giles and Olivia?)
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not crazy. I love Doctor Who for the Slitheen and Star Trek: TNG for Wesley, and Battlestar Galactica for Saul Tigh and Caprica Six’s love child (I mean, who doesn’t love Liam?) But I need more.
There’s a lot of good stuff in my favorite shows, but as a culture I think we appreciate a good romance alongside our adventure, not one that waits in the wings. Which is why as long as you give two protagonists good chemistry, even our homophobic society will ship couples like Sherlock and Watson. Even without any noticeable romance, fans will project their own desires for makeouts onto main characters.
So here’s my point: if you want to get into a show because there’s a good, slow buildup to a first kiss that blows you the fuck away, welcome to my life. Let’s be friends. Here are shows that got a great balance of buildup, unexpectedness and either sweetness or hotness. If you’ve never wanted to end a comfortable relationship so you could go have another first kiss like these, don’t watch these shows. Also, congratulations, you’re a much better person than I am.
I have every single type of first kiss you could ask for listed below; choose your favorite and get watching. These are all based on romance, passion and expectation, and they range from “Tender and Sweet” to “Welp, Time For a Cold Shower.”
The “D’awww” Pushing Daisies, Ned and Chuck
“Fun in Funeral” Season 1, Episode 3
This entry, by definition, has to go in last place because I’m a liar who lies to you. Fans of the show may realize that:
a) Ned and Chuck never ACTUALLY kiss because they can’t touch (you know, the way it’s totally not sex if you’re using a condom, right?)
b) The incident listed above isn’t their first “kiss”. Their first happens when they think they’re going to die and then don’t.
c) “B” isn’t their first kiss either. Their first kiss happens when they’re like eight years old and I’m not going to include that because I’M NOT A PEDOPHILE, JEEZ.
Okay, but this is a great scene. There’s already tension because even though Ned and Chuck like each other and are open and honest about that fact, they can’t touch or she’ll die. This is a lot like being a teenager. But at one point, Ned is baking a pie and he looks up and Chuck rushes at him with plastic wrap over her mouth and then they have a surprisingly long and tender kiss with lots of lip action.
And we all know that lip action = sexy time.
Passion: /5 There’s really more of a childish glee to this kiss than anything else, but the enthusiasm certainly passes for passion.
Tenderness: /5 They haven’t really known each other long enough for this to be a really weighty kiss, but goodness they put a lot of feeling into it from the get-go.
Unexpectedness: /5 When Ned’s lips are literally capable of giving her the Kiss of Death, you totally don’t expect this sort of reckless face mashing.
The “Is It the First Kiss?” X-Files, Mulder and Scully
“Millennium”, Season 7, Episode 4
If you want a show with two characters who love and trust each other 100%, go ahead and watch the crap out of X-Files. Unfortunately, it skimps a bit on showing the romance, not giving our heroes an overt relationship until 8 seasons and a freaking baby into the show. However, that makes the occasional touch or kiss that much more exciting.
Mulder and Scully’s first real-life, not-just-the-tip, onscreen kiss is in Season 7 on New Year’s Eve at midnight. You’d think that’d be cliche, but it’s kind of sweet how you get to watch him decide to do it, watch her accept it, and then see the “Really?” look on her face afterwards. It’s a sort of shrugging “Yeah, you know they’re fucking” kind of acknowledgement from the producers, but I like to think that by this point Scully had just assumed Mulder was gay.
I have no video for this kiss that isn’t part of a whiny teenage montage, so here’s a picture of Gillian licking David’s face.
Passion: 0/5 There’s absolutely no passion in this kiss, but that’s okay. These people spend all day slathered in adrenaline, just let them relax.
Tenderness: /5 It’s a very slow, very sweet kiss, with a whole lot of “Consent?” “Consent!” conversation happening in our participants’ eyes.
Unexpectedness: /5 Frankly, we’d all been impatiently anticipating this for about twelve years, although by this point I’d almost given up, so there was a little element of surprise.
The “No Nonsense” Farscape, Crichton and Aeryn
“The Flax” Season 1, Episode 12
This certainly isn’t the best John and Aeryn moment, but it starts us off with a bang. At this point in Farscape, Aeryn Sun still thinks of John Crichton as a brain-dead simpleton from “Erp” and, frankly, I’m inclined to agree with her (Crichton’s character gets exponentially better as the show goes on.)
With the belief that they’re about to die in short order, Aeryn basically succumbs to the hormones she apparently shares with her intellectual inferior and gets right to it. This isn’t a “Should we kiss? Nah” kind of bullshit move. They make out for a minute and in that minute she’s already started tearing off her spacesuit, which is something most astronauts won’t even do if they have to go to the bathroom.
Passion: /5 Passion isn’t just fervor, it’s also lead-up that makes you see how much these characters want each other. John and Aeryn nuzzle long enough to show you they mean it, and that they may be part dog or something.
Tenderness: 0/5 Don’t kid yourself. At this point, Crichton is just Aeryn’s blue-eyed, willing vibrator. Try not to picture that when you watch this scene.
Unexpectedness: /5 C’mon. You knew they were going to happen as soon as they were in close quarters together.
The “Fuck Censorship” Buffy, Tara and Willow
“The Body” Season 5, Episode 16
Tara and Willow obviously kissed before this glorious, perfect moment, but that’s what makes it one of the best kisses on television. I know it isn’t their “first” but I’m including it anyway because it packs in all the love, support, emotional sustenance and absolute trust that exemplifies their bond. Best of all, it does not exploit the fact that they’re in a lesbian relationship, nor does it create a creepy, voyeuristic tension for the viewer.
So, too bad, boys. If you want some hot girl-on-girl, watch “Seeing Red” (but probably not the end of it, unless you’re a terrible person slash necrophiliac.)
Joss Whedon fought long and hard for this kiss, and in the end it achieved everything this relationship stood for.
Passion: 0/5 This is about emotional support, not sex.
Tenderness: /5 Just watch that clip and try to argue with this rating.
Unexpectedness: /5 Only unexpected because TV networks are cockbites who tried their best to never let this happen.
The “No Lead-up” How I Met Your Mother, Barney and Robin
“Sandcastles in the Sand” Season 3, Episode 16
Robin is almost certainly the least interesting/funny/consistent character in the sad train wreck that HIMYM has ultimately become, but they played this first card right. It was clear that Barney and Robin belonged together from the Season 1 episode “Zip, Zip, Zip” where they drank scotch, smoked cigars, and played laser tag together. That is absolutely the barometer for true love.
In this scene (clip below is heavily and hilariously edited), Barney’s trying to cheer Robin up by watching an old music video she made. After four stupid, cheesy minutes of the song, it cuts away to her and Barney just…just goin’ at it on the couch.
I like that their hookup is based on the idea of supporting each other as platonic friends…before remembering that they’re two deathly hot single people who can cure heartbreak with each other’s tongues.
Passion: /5 It’s fairly passionate, considering she’d been crying about James Vanderbeek like, two minutes before jumping Barney’s bones.
Tenderness: /5 Barney is every feminist’s worst nightmare when it comes to the way he treats women, but I guess it’s okay if you’re friends first.
Unexpectedness: /5 This was only a little bit unexpected. I mean, I expected the kiss, but I thought I’d see the slow lead-up. Instead, we basically smash cut from a “sixteen” year old Robin singing about birth control and sand (?) to her desperately searching the inside of Neil Patrick Harris’ mouth for some part of him that isn’t in love with Lily’s ex-boyfriend, Scooter.
The “You Go, Girl” Buffy, Buffy and Spike
“Intervention” Season 5, Episode 19
Spike and Buffy kiss a whole buttload of times before this episode, but it’s never for real, so I’m not counting them. I like two things about this episode. One is that Spike and Buffy kiss because he got beaten to a pulp rather than betray her and therefore proved himself selfless and redeemable, not because he’s really, really hot. See, Buffy is such a paragon of virtue that she wouldn’t just do Spike for his six pack, which is why she doesn’t deserve him, because seriously.
Second reason is that I like it when the girl initiates a first kiss! It has just the same capability of being cute/sweet/hot. This doesn’t happen enough in television.
Passion: 0/5 No passion to speak of, but you can watch the entirety of Season 6 if that’s what you’re looking for.
Tenderness: /5 This kiss starts out as a simple “Hey, thanks for not being a total dick and selling my sister down the river” but you get to watch it become more than that. And I like how gentle Buffy is with Spike’s totally reshaped face.
Unexpectedness: /5 You knew she’d kiss him, but you weren’t sure it was going to be the real her (and I’m always okay with Buffy not being Buffy.)
The “Shipper” Doctor Who, Doctor and Rose
“Journey’s End” Season 4, Episode 14
A good “shipper” kiss is one that has meaning, preferably in the form of some repeated or concluded action/line from earlier in the series. Like where a character was about to say “Rose Tyler, I wanna show you my Who-mungous TARDIS” (I can only assume that was how that sentence was going to end) and was cut off mid-sentence. This kiss brings everything that was set up full-circle without ruining the characters. The Doctor gets a happy ending and a sad ending at exactly the same time.
An even better shipper kiss is one where we get to see two David Tennants stare lustfully at each other through the medium of Rose Tyler.
Passion: /5 Rose Tyler has been waiting just as long as we had to kiss that pretty, Scottish mouth. It’s a good kiss.
Tenderness: /5 Sadly, we don’t get to see too much of the kiss itself because we have to focus on Tennant’s sad panda face, but let’s just assume tenderness is present for the sake of my fan-girl crush.
Unexpectedness: 0/5 You could see this one coming since the episode “Turn Left.”
The “Sex = Violence” Battlestar Galactica, Apollo and Starbuck
“Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Part 1” Season 1, Episode 14
Fans of Battlestar Galactica will recognize my entry here as being a full season too early for the Kara/Lee kiss, which doesn’t happen until “Home” in Season 2. The scene I’m talking about is actually when Apollo finds out Starbuck “frakked” (spacespeak for “cuddled”, I think) Gaius Baltar. He’s so hurt by this behavior that he berates her for it until she’s so hurt that she punches him in the mouth. Having enjoyed the fruit of that union, he immediately punches her right back.
I included this because a) Their actual first kiss is kind of lame and b) Let’s face it: violence is the surrogate for romance in this relationship. If you don’t believe me, just watch “Unfinished Business,” where a boxing match is a stand-in for their sexual activities. They’re wonderfully broken characters, and that is literally the only way they know how to connect or express their feelings.
I couldn’t find this scene on YouTube, but hilariously enough, I found a shitty CGI reenactment, so, y’know, enjoy that.
Passion: /5 (Not the CGI version, sorry)
Tenderness: /5 Surprisingly tender, if you think of this as a kiss instead of a punch, and one that expresses how they really feel about each other instead of one that busts open the other’s lip.
Unexpectedness: /5 I didn’t expect him to punch her back. I don’t know why.
The “You Go, Bro” Parks and Rec, Ben and Leslie
“Road Trip” Season 3, Episode 13
In the Ben/Leslie dynamic, Leslie is the dynamic go-getter and Ben is the awkward, sweaty nerd that I really want to make out with anyway.
The tension and desire in this relationship was perfect. I expected Leslie to kiss Ben, mostly because she said she was going to, like, a lot. He’s a lot more reserved. So there’s no better way to see how he really feels than his complete inability to not kiss her the second an opportunity arises. It’s sudden, unquestioning and super cute.
Passion: /5 She’s trying to talk about the most boring shit, and he just DGAF.
Tenderness: /5 I think her little “Uh-oh” at the end says it all.
Unexpectedness: /5 Da na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BENMAN! No? BatBen? I’ll just let myself out.
The “Fuckin’ Finally” The Office, Jim and Pam
“Casino Night” Season 2, Episode 22
For a show where I was expecting this kiss around every corner, I was almost surprised when it finally happened. And when it did, it happened exactly as it needed to. See, Jim was never going to kiss Pam because Pam was engaged and Jim very clearly wanted to ride the weird equilibrium that comes from two people knowing that they’re into each other but not admitting it out loud, ever.
I like that the kiss comes after Pam rejects Jim’s tearful, heartfelt confession of love. I like that we get to see her admit that she feels the same way about him to her mother, and I like that they kiss because frankly, if they keep talking they’re going to realize it can’t happen. So, no talking. Only makeouts.
I’m really sorry about the video below, but it has some good clips and also I think it might be about Pam’s weird descent into madness or something.
Passion: /5 There’s something about the way he doesn’t stop or even slow down that says more than being fast or aggressive.
Tenderness: /5 Probably the tenderest kiss on this list, actually. Don’t act like you don’t want this.
Unexpectedness: /5 I really thought that after being rejected so totally, he would extra not have the guts for this.
The “I Didn’t Know I Wanted This and Now I Want Nothing Else” Veronica Mars, Veronica and Logan
“Weapons of Class Destruction” Season 1, Episode 18
Even Veronica Mars thought that Veronica was going to end up with Duncan “Meatface” Kane, and they certainly played Season 1 as though he was the big, unattainable lost love, rather than the one audiences didn’t give a shit about.
So when Veronica and Logan finally start tongue fencing, I feel like it was as much as a shock to the characters as it was to me. As soon as it happened, though, it felt like the show could never have gone anywhere else. They were enemies, then they were bantering frenemies, then she helped him look for his dead mom, then she comforted him in a hotel, then he punched an FBI agent in the face to save her, then, oops, they were making out.
Somehow, and I don’t know how, that is the perfect, insidious buildup to a kiss this amazing. It’s a great kiss. She initiates, but he responds with all the passion. We have the grab-and-pull, an enthusiastic makeout, and then he can’t seem to let go of her hip for a minute. They’re both so damn beautiful.
The only thing that marks this kiss down is the obnoxious song killing my boner with its early-aughts earnestness, and the bizarrely swooping camera angles that keep me from seeing the goods.
Passion: /5 Logan half-asses nothing, unless it involves school. This kid knows how to look at a lady like he wants to do beautifully vile things to her.
Tenderness: /5 Veronica’s little kiss at the beginning is sweet, and Logan is the tenderest bad boy in the world, but they almost look too shell-shocked at the end of this to be 100% tender.
Unexpectedness: /5 I didn’t expect it at all, and now I want to watch nothing else (well, on mute, but still.)
The “Just Do It” New Girl, Jess and Nick
“Cooler” Season 2, Episode 15
By no stretch of the imagination is this the best show on the list. Not even close. It’s cheesy and weird and occasionally anti-consent, which I find a little disturbing.
But holy god, is this kiss the sexiest first kiss ever.
Let me walk you through the reasons. First, there is no cheesy music to “help” you realize how aroused you should be. They’re about to part ways, he hooks her arm, pulls her to him and just goes for it. That is unimpeachably hot. She responds enthusiastically, also hot. Now here are the two big ones:
1) He can’t seem to stop kissing her. At the end of their oral debate, he just kind of desperately sucks on her upper lip, which would think would be gross but isn’t, because passion.
2) He wants to keep kissing her. While this is a big “kiss her and go to bed” kind of WTF moment, after the fireworks, he slows down enough for two very soft kisses.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how you perform a first kiss. Please take note.
You have to watch an annoying talk show host freak out for about 15 seconds before the kiss in the clip below, but if you watch that scene fewer than four times, you are dead inside.
Passion: /5 For the big kiss
Tenderness: /5 For the two little kisses
Unexpectedness: /5 For the way the whole episode was about you thinking they will, thinking they won’t, and then HOLY SHIT IT’S HAPPENING, like a horror movie for your sex drive.