Top 25 TV Family Dynamics

They are in a very very vague order of preference.  Very vague because I love them all for different sorts of reasons and obviously they jump up the list, if I happen to be marathoning that particular show.  I mean the Top 10, especially, are all real favourites.

25. Michael Scofield/Lincoln Burrows
(Prison Break)

When I think about Prison Break, I like to pretend that the show consists of one seriously awesome first season and the rest doesn’t exist but either way what Michael did for Lincoln is more than enough to justify their place on this list, I think.

24. Jack Donaghy/Colleen Donaghy
(30 Rock)

Jack: Mother, there are terrorist cells that are more nurturing than you are.


Colleen: Tell him that his mother loves him but not in a queer way!

You’re always a guaranteed a laugh with these two!

23. Cal Lightman/Emily Lightman
(Lie To Me)

Emily: I have a question ….
Lightman: Uh oh, what does that look mean?
Emily: Gillian …. do you love her?
Lightman: Of course I do darling, of course I love her.
Emily: No I mean really love her.
Lightman: Yeah.
Emily: Then what are you waiting for?
Lightman: I don’t have an answer for that one love.

I sometimes think that the writers write unnecessary scenes for them when the screentime could better be spent exploring other areas (Lightman/Foster and Loker/Torrez) but their relationship is an important part of the show and she ships Lightman/Foster, so yeah, I had to include them on the list despite my misgivings.

22. Michael Westen/Madeline Westen
(Burn Notice)

Madeline: You know you missed your father’s funeral… by eight years.
Michael: Well, last time I talked to him he said, “I’ll see you in hell, boy,” so I figured we had something on the books.

In the scheme of things, the relationship between these two probably isn’t the most important thing about the show but the show wouldn’t be the same without it. Whilst Madeleine started out as being the annoying over-sensitive, hypochondriac mother in the Pilot, she has become so much more than that recently. She can muck in with the others in order to help Michael complete a mission and she’s willing to give her life to protect her son if need be.

21. Richard Castle/Alexis Castle

Alexis: Take me with you!
Castle: To a crime scene?
Alexis: It’d be educational. Please?
Castle: Find your own hiding place.

I love how Alexis is the grown up in the relationship!  I find Castle’s child-like personality quite irritating sometimes but he’s usually at his most adorable in scenes with Alexis.

20. Tim Riggins/Billy Riggins
(Friday Night Lights)

Tim: Hey Billy can you pass me that violin please?
Billy: Shut up.
Tim: You’re hoggin’ it.

Gosh these two! Fancy being raised by Billy Riggins! You might as well have been born with a beer bottle permanently glued to your hand. However, his heart is in the right place and he has always wanted Tim to do better than him and have a better life …… and then Tim ended up going to prison for him. And yet, even though you understand why Tim is so angry at his brother, you can’t help but like Billy. He’s been a great part of the show and I am sad for the actor that he never got made a regular.

19. Chin Ho Kelly/Kono Kalakaua
(Hawaii Five-0)

Kono: Come on, you’re going to make it to my graduation, right?
Chin: I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Between our family and HPD.
Kono: I don’t care what they think. You’re the reason I became a cop.

They’re cousins, they would do anything to protect each other. Erm, not much more to say at this point? I kind of like how Kono dislikes Chin’s ex-wife so much, more than Chin himself!

18. Danny Williams/Grace Williams
(Hawaii Five-0)

Danno: You ready to see your Uncle Mattie, or what? He’s what?
Grace: The coolest ever.
Danno: You know a less secure father might take that personally. I always considered myself the coolest ever.

My favourite episodes of the series so far have all been the ones with the Danny/Gracie/Rachel dynamic.  It has also made me like Danny a hell of a lot more.  Take note show.

17. Ross Geller/Monica Geller

Monica: Man, this sucks. If mom and dad don’t see us on T.V. after we made them so jealous, who’s going to be the losers then?
Ross: Hey, I know what will get us up on a platform.
Monica: What?
Ross: The routine.
Monica: Ross, we haven’t done the routine since middle school.
Ross: Hey, when the snippy guy sees the routine he’ll want to build us our own platform.
Monica: Was it really that good?
Ross: We got honorable mention in the brother/sister dance category. Look, it’s almost fake midnight. Do we really have any other choice?
Monica: Okay, let’s do it. Mom and dad are going to be so faced.


Ross: Hey I married a lesbian to make you look good!

Self-explanatory. I don’t think any other siblings on here have their own ~dance~.

16. Jack Bristow/Sydney Bristow/Irina Derevko

Will: “Laura, all my love, forever and a day. Jack.” That’s not, like, your dad Jack, is it?
Sydney: Yeah.
Will: Wow. That’s uncharacteristically sweet of him.
Sydney: I know. He actually has a heart, which I’m learning little by little.

These three definitely have one of the most complex relationships on the list, especially since they all have a very difficult time trusting each other and at various times believe that they’re working for the enemy etc. etc. However, there is no doubt that although he sometimes finds it hard to express his feelings, Jack loves Sydney and one of my favourite story arcs of the show is in Season 2 when Irina appears and she, Jack and Sydney go on a couple of missions together. Then everything got so complex, everything is just a blur. Still, what was clear was that Jack would do anything to protect his daughter, even if Sydney didn’t always understand that.

15. Vince Howard/Regina Howard
(Friday Night Lights)

With most of the pairs/relationships mentioned on the list, the family dynamic is at the very heart of the show but arguably Vince/Mum played a backseat to everything else happening in Dillon and yet it’s just so beautiful. It is through their relationship that we got to see what a good guy Vince really was and even though he tried to play the tough guy at the start, he really had a heart of gold. There he is, a young teenage boy with his father in prison, living in a crappy neighbourhood, looking after his mother who is always passed out from drink and he never stops looking after her.

14. John Casey/Alex McHugh

Casey: You were named after your dad, Alex. You were named after me. My real name’s Alex Coburn. Please you have to trust me. You have to get to your mom and disappear. Go Alex. Run!

The extent of their relationship used to be that he would go to the restaurant where she worked and order apple pie and coffee from her but that all changed when he kidnapped her and told her that he was her father as she ran away from him. And now that she’s dating Morgan!!!!!  LMAO!  I can’t wait to see more exploration of their relationship.

13. Meredith Grey/Lexie Grey
(Grey’s Anatomy)

Meredith: You’re the guy who used to pour my cereal in the morning. That’s it. That’s all I remember about you. You’re not my father. You’re just the guy that used to pour my cereal, and if you die, it probably won’t change my life that much, but it will change hers. If you die, it will break her, and I’m not gonna let you do that. I don’t know what it’s like to have a father, but I do know what it’s like to have a sister, and it’s good.

Good or bad, the one thing Grey’s Anatomy is good at doing is exploring relationships. I really wish they’d explore the Meredith/Lexie dynamic more than they have. I know that Meredith doesn’t –do- the whole warm, cuddly sisterly dynamic but I just wish they reminded us that they are sisters a tad more than they have.  The only reason I like having Thatcher show up is so we can have some Meredith/Lexie scenes.

12. Keith Mars/Veronica Mars
(Veronica Mars)

Veronica: Man, you get everyone to confess.
Keith: I think it’s the uniform. Do you have anything to confess?
Veronica: Yes. You embarrass me.

If Lorelai/Rory win the award for “cool Mum/daughter” relationship then I think Keith/Veronica would win it for “cool Dad/daughter” relationship. I love their banter.

11. Lorelai Gilmore/Rory Gilmore
(Gilmore Girls)

Rory: I think you’re acting a little immature.
Lorelai: I’m not acting!

Again the relationship between these two is well and truly chronicled in picspams and posts far more eloquently worded than anything I could write. Lorelai is the coolest Mum ever. However, although Lauren Graham keeps saying how different Lorelai and Sarah (Parenthood) are, I can actually see similarities – Lorelai might have been cool and awesome but she wasn’t perfect and Sarah tries so so hard that she should get make-up points for that.

10. Nate “Baze” Bazile/Lux/Cate Cassidy
(Life Unexpected)

Lux: How long has it been?
Baze: How long, how long has what been?
Lux: Since you’ve had feelings for Cate.
Baze: I just…I thought that if I gave it time, the feelings would go away. But after the last two days, I don’t know if I want the feelings to go way. We felt like a family, the three of us, for the first time. It felt really good.

Oh these three! None of them knows how to be a good father, good mother or good daughter but at least in two of the cases, they get full points for effort. This three-way dynamic was my favourite thing about the show and am sad that it was so blatantly absent from the second season.

9. Coach Eric Taylor/Julie Taylor/Tami Taylor
(Friday Night Lights)

Julie: I love you guys and you’re the best parents in the world.
Tami: Something terrible must have happened.

I love the relationship between Coach/Julie too (their pingpong sessions!) but nothing can beat Tami/Julie. Whether it’s Tami trying to talk to Julie about sex (twice!) or that absolutely beautiful scene in the finale where she takes her hand and instead of giving her a lecture says “it’s just you’re so young”, there is never any doubt as to how much Tami loves her daughter.

8. Matt Saracen/Grandma Saracen
(Friday Night Lights)

Grandma Saracen: I saw that game tonight. You played great, you just played great.
Matt: Thanks.
Grandma Saracen: You’ve always loved football, Matty. I remember when you were two years old, you were trying to throw a football and it was bigger than you were. And you were such a sweet baby, such a sweet, sweet baby. But here you are all grown up taking care of everything. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I don’t know. Matthew? I love you.
Matt: I know. I, I love you, too, grandma. Grandma, hey.
Grandma Saracen: You are such a good boy.
Matt: That’s because I was raised by you.

No one else has a relationship like these two. Although presumably when Matt was younger his Grandma looked after him, now their relationship is very much based around the fact Matt looks after her instead of the other way round. Some of the scenes where Grandma is going through a very bad dementia spell are heartbreaking. No matter what else Matt is going through in his life, he always puts his Grandma first and would do anything for her.  That scene early in the first season where he pretends to be his dead grandfather and sings to his grandma to calm her down with Landry and Julie watching?  HEARTBREAKING.

7. Coach Eric Taylor/Vince Howard
(Friday Night Lights)

Vince: Before football I was going nowhere fast, straight to juvie. Playing for the East Dillon Lions probably saved my life. I got a bond with my teammates that will never be broken. I got a Coach that’s been like a father to me. He shows up and gives a hundred percent every game, every practice.

I am cheating with this one in that Coach is NOT Vince’s father but for most of the two seasons that we see Vince, Coach acts like his substitute father and even when Vince’s real Dad does come back into the picture, Coach is still the one looking out for Vince and has his best interests at heart. Towards the end of Season 5, we finally see Vince appreciate Coach and all that he has done for him.
I know that Coach/Matt also had a little bit of the father/son dynamic going on but I think that was countered by the fact that Matt was always going to be the guy dating his daughter. At various points Coach as played that father-figure role to Riggins, Smash and even Jason  ❤ ❤

6. Rusty Cartwright / Casey Cartwright

Casey: Do you like him?
Ashleigh: I don’t know, he’s Rusty, he’s your brother ….
Casey: Yeah he’s my little brother and even though he frequently annoys the crap out of me, I have to protect him. You can’t go messing with him unless you’re sure.


Casey: You don’t need me or anyone to protect you any more.  You can handle yourself.
Rusty: Well, I get that from you.

I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THIS SHOW IS OVER. Remember when the series first started and Casey was the popular sorority girl who wanted to deny all existence of her little geeky brother and was mortified they actually had to be seen in public together? They’ve come a long way from that. They’ve both grown up such a lot, been there for each other and stood up for each other in that adorkable brotherly/sisterly defensive way.  And let’s not forget all Rusty did in the Pilot to defend Casey’s honour, even if she didn’t appreciate it at the time.

5. Nora Walker/Kitty, Sarah, Justin, Kevin, Tommy
(Brothers & Sisters)

Nora: Ladies, I am walking away.
Kitty: My God I think she’s breaking up with us!


Nora: Stop mothering? What the hell does that mean?!?!

Yes, this list would not be complete without Nora’s interaction with all of her kids. I’d say that the dynamics that get explored the most is Nora/Kitty’s failure to see eye-to-eye at the start of the series and Nora mothering Justin but her relationship with all of her children is a key component of the show.

4. Amber Holt/Sarah Braverman/Drew Holt

Drew: If he was a real Dad nothing you did could have made him leave. I know it’s not your fault.
Amber: We’ll always have Mum.
Drew: Yeah.
Amber: And we’ll always have each other.
Drew: Yeah.

In a show titled Parenthood, there are a lot of different family dynamics that could have made this list. However, this segment of the Braverman family are really the only ones deserving of their place on this list (though I do love Joel/Julia/Sydney too and always love Julia/Sarah scenes …)
Whether it’s Drew being completely adorable and worried when his mother doesn’t come home at night, Sarah and Amber fighting at the start of the series or Amber being an adorable older sister to Drew and taking him to their father’s gig although she doesn’t want to, these three have the most interesting family relationship on the show.  They are also different from many of the others on this list: most of these are the fluffy, ideal TV show relationships.  With Sarah/Amber/Drew, it’s very realistic.  There are several times where there’s been scenes with the characters just screaming at each other …… and yet due to what they went through as kids, Amber/Drew have a closer relationship than most teenage siblings do.  Plus, hello, Lauren Graham.

3. Justin Walker/Kitty McCallister
(Brothers & Sisters)

Kitty: What? What, Justin, go ahead. Go ahead, say it. Say it, what is it? What is it, because I’m here. I’m bleeding and I’m aching because I’ve just had a miscarriage, but I’m here, and I’m dealing with you, and I’m dealing with your addiction. So what is it, what is it, tell me? Tell me, come on. Tell me, what is that I’m doing that isn’t all about how much I love you.

I have spent my entire fandom life forgetting the absolute beauty that is the Justin/Kitty relationship. As much as I love Sarah/Kitty, I actually think J/K is the most important sibling relationship in the whole show. At least that was the key one in the Pilot from when he picks her up from the airport and she interrogates him about his life and I think that at all important moments in Justin’s life, he has always come to Kitty for advice. Plus the fact that she supported him joining the Army after 9/11 is the reason why Kitty/Nora didn’t get on for years (which is kind of the whole storyline behind the first season).

The intervention scene that the quote is from? No matter how many times I watch that scene, when we get to the bit where Kitty says that, it makes me cry every time. This scene/episode is the one scene I would use to prove that this show was so completely awesome and worth watching in the first couple seasons. It gives me chills.
And the Justin/Kitty scene later on in the same episode too ❤ ❤ ❤ <3. It’s only when I was compiling this list that I realised how adorable these two are and went and rewatched this episode.
This is why although I probably love Sarah the most, Kitty is the most interesting character and I am always emotionally invested in her storylines. This show cannot survive without Callista Flockhart and Sally Field and I have been missing Kitty in the episodes she hasn’t been in this season.

2. Chuck Bartowski/Ellie Woodcomb

Chuck: We’re going after them, and we’re gonna take ’em down. The Ring. Shaw. For what they did to dad, they’re not gonna get away with this.
Ellie: Okay… And then you’re done.
Chuck: What?
Ellie: As a spy. This – this life, this job. Chuck, I made a promise to keep you safe, and I can’t do it. Not from this. So you finish it – and then you’re done.
Chuck: Ellie, I…
Ellie: We’re all that we have left, Chuck. And I’m not going to lose you, too.

These two are the model of the perfect brother/sister relationship. Ellie practically raised Chuck and I love that they still lived together (at the beginning of the show). She is so motherly and protective and they care about each other so much that it was practically torturous the way she didn’t know Chuck’s secret for 3 whole seasons and he had to lie and keep so much from her.  Of course he’s still doing that to a certain extent but at least she knows much more than she did for most of the series.

1. Sarah Walker/Kitty McCallister
(Brothers & Sisters)

Sarah: My face feels funny.
Kitty: It looks funny.

These two ❤ ❤ ❤ <3. They’re just so funny together. Even when they’re bickering, they’re hilarious and I love them both as individual characters so when they share a scene together, the awesomeness just multiplies. The very first scene of the Pilot is of these two on the phone to each other. I especially love these two during Kitty’s cancer storyline. At the end of 4×03 when Kitty opens the door and Sarah’s standing there and they hug and throughout the whole of 4×04 when Sarah goes with her to chemo and tells her about what happened in France. I especially love the part where Sarah changes her story and tells Kitty the reason it didn’t work out with Luc was because she caught him with another woman when actually the real reason was because she got a call from their Mum telling her about Kitty’s cancer and she had to rush back to America.


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