Television's 20 greatest dynamic duos of all time (2024)

I don't think I'm blowing anyone's mind by saying that two is better than one. It takes two to make a thing go right, just as it takes two to tango. And it takes at least two people to play "Frog baseball," to have a proper roast of music videos, and of course, it takes two to work the drive-thru. Everything is just better with a friend – even if all they do is talking about "scoring."

In celebration of this underlying truth of friendship in honor of the 25th anniversary of "Beavis and Butt-head," here are television's 20 greatest duos.

1 of 20

Fox Mulder & Dana Scully

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Opposites attract, and if you don't believe me just ask FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). One believes the truth is out there, while the other is a skeptic. Despite their differences, or perhaps because of them, Mulder and Scully are one of TV's most beloved pair.

2 of 20

Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz

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In "I Love Lucy," Lucy Ricardo's (Lucille Ball) best friend is former vaudevillian Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance), which is just about perfect because their hijinks on the show were nothing short of vaudevillian. Lucy and Ethel were synchronized in their slapstick – the chocolate factory bit is still a famous classic – and part of the reason why the show was so great was because of their dynamic.

3 of 20

Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson

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There have been many iterations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in film and television, but no pair has done a better job at those roles than Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, respectively, in the BBC series "Sherlock." Cumberbatch's Holmes is arrogant but not completely insufferable, while Freeman's Watson is permissive and warm without being a pushover.

4 of 20

Felix Unger & Oscar Madison

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Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

"The Odd Couple" has been a staple of American pop culture ever since 1965, when Neil Simon first completed the play. Since then, it has been made into movies ("The Odd Couple" and "The Odd Couple II," starring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau) and into multiple TV series – most recently in 2014. But the best portrayal of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison came in 1970, when ABC premiered the show with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman playing the roles, respectively.

Television's 20 greatest dynamic duos of all time (5)

Talk about an odd couple! For five seasons of "Breaking Bad," chemistry-teacher-turned-narco Walter White slowly but surely became best friends with Jesse Pinkman, a low-level meth dealer with a heart of gold. Jesse Pinkman (played by the wonderful Aaron Paul) not only became Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) partner, but also weirdly his moral compass.

6 of 20

J.D. & Turk

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Drs. John Michael Dorian (Zach Braff) and Christopher Turk (Donald Faison) might not have invented the concept of "bromance," but they certainly took it to the next level on "Scrubs." So much so, in fact, that the sitcom even featured a musical number called "Guy Love" in which J.D. and Turk explain the exact nature of their friendship.

7 of 20

Ren & Stimpy

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To this day, no one knows how creator John Kricfalusi got Nickelodeon to sign off on a show about a psychotic and mostly very angry chihuahua (Ren) and his companion, a sweet as can be but not that bright cat (Stimpy). "The Ren & Stimpy" show aired during the mid-1990s, and it managed to hit that sweet spot where the humor was for kids and for adults.

8 of 20

Beavis & Butt-head

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It's hard to believe but America was first introduced to underachieving high school slackers Beavis and Butt-head 25 years ago. The show not only defined MTV – it even showed music videos! – but it perfectly captured the youthful nihilism that became a key trait of Gen-Xers.

9 of 20

Batman & Robin

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Yes it was campy, but "Batman" was a cultural phenomenon when it first aired in 1966. The show was so popular, it aired two episodes a week for the first two seasons. Suffice it to say, Batman (Adam West) couldn't have made it without his trusty sidekick, Robin (Burt Ward).

10 of 20

Key & Peele

It's truly a travesty that Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele called it quits after five seasons. During that time, "Key & Peele" delivered episode after episode of hilarity, hard-biting social commentary, and sketches that instantly went viral (to this day, Bruce Willie and Liam Neesons will forever be those actors' names).

11 of 20

Edina Monsoon & Patsy Stone

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While perhaps not the most famous duo on the list, Edina Monsoon (show creator Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) put the "fun" in "dysfunctional" in "Absolutely Fabulous,"the cult classic BBC sitcom that first premiered in 1992. The show centered around Edina & Patsy bouncing between trying to stay young and relevant and engaging in self-destructive behavior.

12 of 20

Tom & Jerry

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The famous cat and mouse duo have been a staple of children's television since the 1940s. Often replicated – they served as inspiration for "The Itchy & Scratchy Show" on "The Simpsons" – but never replicated.

13 of 20

Pinky & The Brain

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They're Pinky and the brain. One is a genius, and the other's... well, not insane, per se, but more goofy and definitely nowhere near as smart. "Pinky & The Brain," which premiered in 1995, was a spin-off of "Animaniacs," and followed these two sentient lab rats in their perpetual quest for world domination. Those plans, of course, were never successful. Narf!

14 of 20

Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar

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Though much of their popularity came from "Wayne's World" and "Wayne's World 2", Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) earned their place on this list thanks to the "Saturday Night Live" sketches. To this day, the Madonna sex dream sequence is one of the funniest things SNL has ever done.

15 of 20

Abbi Abrams & Ilana Wexler

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"Broad City" was one of the funniest shows on TV, and has been ever since it first premiered in 2014. A huge reason why is because you can just tell that co-creators and stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are basically being themselves in front of the camera.

16 of 20

Norm Peterson & Cliff Claven

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Norm and Cliff weren't the main characters, but any "Cheers" fan would tell you that without them, the show would not be what it was. Played by George Wendt and John Ratzenberg, respectively, this famous duo more often than not served as the audience's proxies, sitting around and drinking beer while chaos ensured around them.

17 of 20

Niles & Frasier Crane

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Every Craniac knows that the world can be easily divided into two categories: are you a Miles or a Frasier Crane? Did you go to Yale or Harvard? LOL, just kidding. Both are essentially the same character: intellectuals whose insecurities are masked by their sense of superiority. That, however, doesn't mean that people didn't love to watch them – "Frasier" was on the air for 11 seasons.

18 of 20

"True Detective"

Television's 20 greatest dynamic duos of all time (18)

If time truly is a flat circle, as Detective Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) surmised, and life is nothing more than just a constant struggle between light and darkness, then who better to help you solve a decades-long cult killing spree than Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), a man who's detective skills are overshadowed by his uncanny ability to ruin his own happiness?

19 of 20

Maddie Hayes & David Addison

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There are many reasons why "Moonlighting" is one of the best TV shows of all time: it essentially created the dramedy genre, it broke the fourth wall decades before it became a TV trope, Orson Welles died shortly after recording the disclaimer alerting audiences that the episode they were about to watch was in black and white (that in itself was a big milestone in television), take your pick. But what made "Moonlighting" the show it was were Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis, who played Maddie Hayes and David Addison, partners in a private detective agency. Shepherd and Willis had such on-camera chemistry, Maddie Hayes and David Addison are considered to be one of TV's greatest couples.

20 of 20

Laverne DeFazio & Shirley Feeney

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Before there was Abbi and Ilana, and before there was Tina and Amy, TV's favorite gal pals were Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), two roommates who live in Milwaukee and work for a brewery capping bottles. "Laverne & Shirley" was a massive ratings success for ABC, airing for eight seasons.

Television's 20 greatest dynamic duos of all time (2024)


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