Hollywood has given fans a multitude of iconic duos who have shared the stage with compelling lead performances that came to light with the addition of a trusted companion. After all, it is a friendship that drives so much of the emotional core of a TV show. Exploring these iconic duos listed here will help you experience the central relationship between the two lead characters – and it might remind you of you and your best friend.
40 Iconic Duos To Have Ever Graced TV
40. Cheech & Chong
This award-winning comedy pair is one of the most iconic duos of all time consisting of Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong who first found a following in the 1970s through their stand-up routines and stage skits. This iconic duo went on to release several albums throughout the 70s and won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for 1974’s Los Cochinos.
39. Han Solo and Chewbacca
Star Wars is one of the most beloved franchises of all-time and features iconic duos of Han Solo and Chewbacca who have been an inseparable duo ever since they debuted in 1977. The two first met when Chewbacca was freed from slavery by Han Solo, swearing a life debt to the smuggler and eventually becoming the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon and a trusted companion to Han as they explored the galaxy in search of intergalactic adventure.
38. Woody & Buzz
The kindhearted Sheriff Woody and the eager-to-please Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear began life as enemies in their owner Andy’s bedroom before uniting to fight a common cause in the original Toy Story. Voiced by the icon Tom Hanks (Woody) and another icon Tim Allen (Buzz) they faced fresh challenges in each of the three sequels, spread out over two decades.
37. Sonny and Cher
One of the most popular and famous singing duos of all time began in the swinging 60s. In 1962, songwriter Salvatore “Sonny” Bono, 27, was working for “wall of sound” producer Phil Spector when he met 16-year-old Cherilyn Sarkisian in a café.
Bonny got her to work in the studio as a backing vocalist before they became the duo Sonny & Cher and had enormous success with songs like 1965’s “I Got You Babe”.
One of the most iconic duos in Hollywood history, the couple married in 1969 and had a daughter Chastity Bono, who later transitioned to male and became known as Chaz Bono. In the 70s, the couple became TV stars in the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and kept making the show even after they split up. Sonny died in 1998 from a skiing accident. “I never expected him not to be there,” said Cher, now 73, who forged an Oscar-winning movie career as well as becoming a hugely successful solo artist.
36. Kermit & Miss Piggy
Can you think of a more iconic duo than these muppets? Long before the Ross and Rachel on again and off again story, The Muppets was cashing in on unrequited romantic tension between a charming frog and a brash sow. We were first introduced to the pair in the first season of The Muppet Show (1976) and Miss Piggy (Frank Oz) was already in pursuit of Kermit The Frog (Jim Henson). But it was a one-way love affair – the amphibian was far too busy running the show. But then things heat up in the movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, where this iconic duo got married. But that was arguably just part of the story. In any case, by 2015 it was over (see below). Yes, it’s not easy being green. Or pink.
35. Ren & Stimpy
Who would have thought a violently psychotic Chihuahua and a stupid, fat cat would have made such a terrific duo? The pair (The Ren & Stimpy Show from Nickelodeon) made children laugh at jokes they didn’t truly understand and adults sometimes wish their young ones weren’t watching. By today’s standards their toilet humor is tame, but in a weird way, Ren and Stimpy brought families closer together.
34. Avon Barksdale & Stringer Bell
A drug dealer and his second-in-command aren’t great role models, but they do make for great television from The Wire, HBO. Avon Barksdale and Russell “Stringer” Bell (played by Wood Harris & Idris Elba) were friends since childhood and remained that way to the end…well almost.
33. Will Smith and Carlton Banks
One is the freshest of them all. The other…not so much. These cousins (played by Will Smith &Alfonso Ribeiro) butted heads, but became a dynamic duo. They didn’t mix all of the time, but when they did, they almost became one person. Both had blind spots to their own flaws but were willing to point them out to each other in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, NBC.
32. Olivia Benson & Elliot Stabler
Though a lot of the focus in Law & Order is on the case at hand, the detectives’ ( played by Mariska Hargitay & Christopher Meloni) relationship gets explored in subtle ways. The platonic relationship had plenty of underlying sexual tension on Law & Order: SVU, NBC.
31. The Spartan Cheerleaders
Arianna and Craig (played by Will Ferrell & Cheri O’Teri) first appeared in 1995 and stole our hearts with their awkward, self-absorbed cheerleading routines on Saturday Night Live, NBC. Their “perfect cheer” to cap off their routines never went as smoothly or well-received as planned, but they only cared if they pleased each other.
30. Zack Morris & Screech Powers
The cool kid/nerd combo (played by (Mark-Paul Gosselaar & Dustin Diamond) rarely happens in reality, but it seemed so natural with them. Though Screech seemingly just tagged along, did Zack’s homework and was roped into Zack’s schemes, they were equal on more levels than not on Saved By the Bell, NBC.
29. Beavis and Butt-head
These guys were MTV—part of the revolution that accepted socially-awkward, rock-loving teens. Though they were best friends, they riffed on each other harder than most enemies. It wasn’t necessarily a love/hate relationship, but did have its share of hate.
28. Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson
The friendship of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson (played by Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman) predates all of the iconic duos on this list, but BBC breathed fresh air back into it by adding a contemporary twist to the classic detective story.
27. Kevin Arnold & Paul Pfeiffer
The nostalgia these two popularity-striving teens (played by Fred Savage & Josh Saviano)provided helped catapult them into the hearts of millions. As we watched Kevin and Paul grow up on The Wonder Years, ABC, not even Winnie Cooper could pull them apart.
26. Laverne De Fazio & Shirley Feeney
Laverne & Shirley on CBS were just a couple of gals trying to make it in the 1960s. The cynic tomboy and the perky, perfect lady ( played by Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams) lived together harmoniously in a basement apartment. Through thick and thin, they bottled beer and played hopscotch and did it their way to make all their dreams a reality.
25. Michael Scott & Dwight Shrute
If Michael didn’t hate Dwight so much (played by Steve Carrell & Rainn Wilson), they’d be one of the greatest pairs of best friends of all time. Unfortunately Michael spent so much time trying to befriend Jim and Ryan that Dwight’s desperate attempts to be more than assistant to the manager of the Scranton branch went unnoticed on The Office, NBC.
24. Karen Walker & Jack McFarland
That’s right: the better pairing in this show wasn’t the titular one. Karen and Jack (played by Megan Mullally & Sean Hayes) were one of the last slapstick iconic duos who were larger than life without ever bringing the other down to earth on Will & Grace, CBS.
23. Tom & Jerry
Originally created to be shown before films, the cat-and-mouse chase was promoted to its own series thanks to ABC in 1975. They’re not friends, but when it comes down to it, they’re much closer than enemies. In some ways The Tom & Jerry Show were the archetype for many sitcom relationships—and, of course, that other famous duo, Itchy and Scratchy.
22. Sam Weir & Neal Schweiber
These two geeks (played by John Francis Daley & Samm Levine)never really got their chance to become classic characters, but they stole our hearts in just one season of Freaks and Geeks, NBC.
There was nothing cool about Sam or Neal, and they knew it, too. But they’d have never made it out of their freshman year alive without the other in the early 2000s dealing with first crushes, parental infidelity and sibling betrayal right beside each other.
21. J.D. Dorian & Christopher Turk
A lot of these iconic duos could fall under the title of “bromance,” but none quite defined the word as much as J.D. and Turk (played by Zach Braff & Donald Faison). Their love for each often surpassed that of Turk’s marriage and made for some of the show’s funniest gags on Scrubs, NBC/ABC.
20. Liz Lemon & Jack Donaghy
Though he never wanted to be her friend, Jack’s role as a mentor to Liz (played by Tina Fey & Alec Baldwin) on 30 Rock from NBC morphed into an off-beat friendship that relies on his unwillingness to admit they’re friends. Eventually Jack admits, “Lemon, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.”
19. Cory Matthews & Shawn Hunter
Unlike a lot of these iconic duos, Cory and Shawn’s relationship (played by Ben Savage & Rider Strong)was documented from the time they were in sixth grade until the time they left college. Every adolescent in the 1990s wanted to have a friend like Cory or Shawn from Boy Meets World on ABC. We saw them at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and they always were real to us.
18. Lorelai Gilmore & Rory Gilmore
A good mother/daughter pairing from Gilmore Girls on TV is a rarity, especially one of the most iconic duos (played by Lauren Graham & Alexis Bledel) that is poignant and heartwarming.
17. Buster Bluth & Lucille Bluth
Where Gilmore Girls touched the heart, Fox’s Arrested Development chose to go for comic gold. The overprotective relationship forced this mother/son pairing (played Tony Hale & Jessica Walter) awkwardly into the spotlight, but for some reason none of us could look away.
16. Wayne & Garth
Who didn’t want to be these two characters (played by Mike Myers & Dana Carvey) ? Hanging out all day in your basement and listening to music sure does sound like a terrific way to live according to their performance on Saturday Night Live from NBC. Their sketch became so popular that it spawned two films, one of which is Wayne’s World – a classic!
15. Andy Taylor and Barney Fife
Forced together through blood (they’re cousins played by Andy Griffith & Don Knotts) and work, these two didn’t have to like each other. But on The Andy Griffith Show they were a very successful team. Andy was the composed professional, while Barney was the blowhard.
14. Chandler Bing & Joey Tribbiani
Though they were part of an ensemble group, one of the best iconic duos (played by Matthew Perry & Matt Le Blanc) transcended the level of friendship among their peers. Labeling their relationship a “bromance” would not do it justice; they were far more than that. They had the ability to play off of each other so well because they were the perfect mixture of opposite and the same.
13. Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble
Mr. Flintstone and Mr. Rubble: neighbors, co-workers, best friends (voiced by (Alan Reed & Mel Blanc) and members of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. Fred and Barney from ABC’s The Flintstones prove that men were always hotheads with a soft spot dating all the way back to the Stone Age.
12. Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz
Surprised that we didn’t add Lucy and Ricky here? Well, the fact that Ethel was Lucy’s landlady and there was a significant age gap didn’t stop these two neighbors (played by Lucille Ball & Vivian Vance)from becoming the best friends. Their friendship was groundbreaking and was the first time two female leads were such a focal point of a sitcom on CBS’s I Love Lucy.
11. Jerry Seinfeld & George Costanza
Being part of an inseparable (and perhaps the greatest iconic duos) in TV history Seinfeld and George (played by Jerry Seinfeld & Jason Alexander)were lifelong friends who often made fun of each other’s weaker qualities. Jerry and George’s ability to go back and forth on a topic that didn’t matter to anyone for hours on end created some of the greatest conversations on TV between 1989 and 1998 when they literally had to stop writing scripts for these two to go off on a high note.
10. Walter White & Jesse Pinkman
This is the heartwarming and slightly controversial tale of a dying teacher who starts dealing meth and a former slacker student (played by Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul)he enlists to help him with the business side of the trade. Their relationship was forged over a simple bond that has been woven into something bigger—and darker—than either of them ever could have imagined on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Even in the last episode, there is something touching about these two who became iconic duos through the worst of times.
9. Norm Peterson & Cliff Clavin
Who wouldn’t want to sit around, drink beer and discuss trivia all day? In a bar where everybody knows your name, Norm and Cliff (played George Wendt & John Ratzenberger) were inseparable on those stools while Sam and the rest of the ensemble ran every which way on NBC’s Cheers.
8. Fred Sanford & Lamont Sanford
Fred raised Lamont by himself after his wife died, which is probably why the two’s relationship (played by Redd Foxx & Demond Wilson) eventually transformed into friends/business partners. Fred’s hardnosed personality rubbed off on Lamont over time and eventually the son became greedier and more of a schemer than his father. “Like father, like son” was never more fitting than with these two on NBC’s Sanford & Son!
7. Troy Barnes & Abed Nadir
As if having a (fictitious) morning talk show wasn’t enough, these two odd-ball best friends (played by Donald Glover & Danny Pudi)gave us a treat and moved in together. Their childlike characteristics remind us all about what it was like to be a kid again and that it’s okay to dedicate a room to play make-believe. Out of all the iconic duos on the list, they’re the only ones to have a signature handshake on NBC’s Community which debuted in 2009.
6. Bud Abbott & Lou Costello
The Abbott & Costello Show, syndicated from 1952-1954 were best known for their “Who’s On First?” bit, but had much more in their arsenal. They (Bud Abbott & Lou Costello) perfected the combination of straight man and comic foil, setting the bar for everyone who followed.
5. Bert & Ernie
Bert and Ernie (voiced by Frank Oz & Jim Henson) were created to show children that people could be friends regardless of their differences. What’s even better is that the Muppets’ relationship mirrored that of Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Their comedy is aimed at kids, but you’re never too grown up to enjoy PBS’s Sesame Street which ran from 1969.
4. Tony Soprano & Dr. Melfi
The entire premise of HBO’s The Sopranos relied on Tony seeking therapy from Dr. Melfi (played flawlessly by James Gandolfini & Lorraine Bracco). So many of the plots that were presented were a direct result from their professional relationship. Even though he revealed so much to her, she never questioned his actions and always trusted his motives.
3. Hawkeye Pierce & B.J. Hunnicutt
When Trapper McIntyre left the show, he left a huge whole in Hawkeye’s world. But then came B.J. Hunnicutt in the fourth season. Where Hawkeye was aggressive, Hunnicutt was calmer. Their relationship (played by Aland Alda & Mike Farrell) resulted in the greatest finale of all time on M*A*S*H: Hawkeye watching from a helicopter as Hunnicutt rode his motorcycle down the mountain, then Hawkeye seeing the message his friend had left using painted white stones. “GOODBYE.”
2. Fox Mulder & Dana Scully
If the combination of skeptic and believer feels like an archetype, it’s because Scully and Mulder (played by David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson)made it so.
The (mostly) platonic friendship existed between 1993 and 2003 when Scully was sent in to debunk Mulder’s work on Fox’s The X-Files, but she grew close to her partner and came to trust him—and no one else.
1. Felix Unger & Oscar Madison
Last but certainly not least, this is one of those iconic duos who are (like the 39 others) an “odd couple.” Of course, so many TV duos owe everything they have to Felix and Oscar. One is neat and compulsive while the other is messy and leads an unscheduled life. Their differences made them great, but their relationship could never be duplicated on ABC’s The Odd Couple which ran from 1970-1975.