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50 Best TV Duos of All Time

From Arya and the Hound to Mulder and Scully, the greatest small-screen teams

50 Best TV Duos

(L-R) Everett Collection, HBO (2), Comedy Central

When it comes to good TV, it takes two to make a thing go right. Whether you're talking about great comedy teams, hot romantic couples, unbreakable crimefighting partnerships, or unforgettable hero-villain rivalries, two is the magic number of countless television classics. With that in mind, we've compiled the following list of the 50 greatest duos ever to grace the small screen. Husbands and wives, cops and robbers, best friends forever — they're all here, and they all demonstrate the power of the most elemental equation of all: one on one.

50 Best TV Duos

38. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, ‘Gilmore Girls’

Take the rapid-fire dry-humor patter of an old-school screwball comedy, transfer it to the mouths of a single mom and her teenage kid, and you're on your way to conjuring the magic of the parent-child partnership that made Gilmore Girls run. Lorelai and Rory showed that when it comes to mother-daughter dynamics, learning from and leaning on each other need not be mutually exclusive. We can't wait for the Netflix reboot.

The Wire; Best Duos

HBO

37. Jimmy McNulty and ‘Bunk’ Moreland, ‘The Wire’

Despite being partners, Baltimore Detectives Jimmy McNulty and William "The Bunk" Moreland spent more time apart than together over the course of The Wire's five seasons, thanks to the Irish wildman's time in the special investigative detail (and the harbor unit). But their near-telepathic connection was unforgettably depicted in what’s colloquially known as "the fuck scene," in which the duo travels to a murder scene and cracks a homicide while communicating with nothing but variations of the f-bomb. Genius.

50 Best TV Duos

36. Patsy and Edina, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’

Name-dropping, pill-popping, coke-snorting, booze-swilling, chain-smoking, status-obsessing, high-spending, child-neglecting, personal-assistant-insulting nightmares? Yes, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Spinning out of their sketch-comedy show, Jennfier Saunders and Dawn French's failure-prone fashionistas Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone brutalized English bohemian excess in the early Nineties even as Britpop made it cool again. A reunion movie is on the way this year, to which we can only say cheers, thanks a lot.

50 Best TV Duos

35. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, ‘Sherlock’

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's deductive detectives got a compellingly contemporary makeover in the BBC/PBS series co-created by Doctor Who veteran Steven Moffat and League of Gentlemen member Mark Gatiss. Set in the modern day (with the exception of one Victorian Era special) and featuring freshly minted Hollywood stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the show updates the eccentric crime-solver as an anti-social, OCD misanthrope and his loyal chronicler as an ex-soldier/enabler. The chemistry, however, is as old-fashioned as it comes.

50 Best TV Duos

34. Jerry and George Costanza, ‘Seinfeld’

The all-time great sitcom is best known for its four-person ensemble of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, a comedy quadrilateral that may never be topped. But Seinfeld and his still-inseparable childhood friend, played by Jason Alexander, are where the show's observational obsessions and New York neuroses can be found in their purest form — perhaps because the pair are based on the star stand-up comedian and his series co-creator Larry David.

50 Best TV Duos

33. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, ‘The Americans’

Everyone knows misery loves company; misery's lust for company, however, receives comparatively little airtime. That's where the deep-cover KGB agents who pose as the couple next door in this riveting Cold War thriller come in: Their job of lying, killing, and potentially dying for their secret Soviet backers is made bearable only by their intense sexual connection. Actors Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, who kindled an IRL relationship while playing the roles, have given TV one of its saddest and sexiest couples of all time.

50 Best TV Duos

32. Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brian, ’24’

Where would the combustible counterterrorist Jack Bauer be without the cool-headed computer genius who's his closest ally and best friend? Dead, that's where. Actor Mary Lynn Rajskub's background as a comedian made her the perfect foil for Kiefer Sutherland's dead-serious man of action, ensuring that the emblematic War on Terror–era thriller always had a surprising and entertaining platonic partnership at its heart.

50 Best TV Duos

31. Hawkeye Pierce and BJ Hunnicut, ‘M*A*S*H’

When merry prankster Trapper John McIntyre left the 4077th behind due to creative differences — sorry, a transfer back to the States — his longtime partner Hawkeye Pierce needed a new foil. Along came B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), a laid-back Californian who made an even better partner for Alan Alda's iconic Army surgeon. Their friendship formed the backbone of eight of the long-running Korean War comedy's 11 seasons, and their comedic and dramatic interplay was unmatched on the show.

50 Best TV Duos

30. Coach and Tami Taylor, ‘Friday Night Lights’

The platonic ideal of a committed, happily married couple right in the middle of a complex and nuanced New Golden Age drama? How the hell did that happen? Don't second-guess it — just treasure every minute of shared screentime with Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton's incredible couple, who proved that "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose" was a life-changing mantra both on and off the football field.

50 Best TV Duos

29. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, ‘Key & Peele’

Remember the endlessly quotable interplay of Monty Python's John Cleese and Michael Palin? Now mix it with the biting sociopolitical satire of Chapelle's Show. Boom: You have Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, the greatest sketch-comedy duo since Bob Odenkirk met David Cross. Whether they're playing dozens of different ridiculous college athletes in their sketch-comedy show's highly viral East-West Bowl bits or celebrating the cinematic achievements of "Liam Neesons" and "the Batmans" as excitable hotel valets, the duo are just mercilessly funny to watch.

50 Best TV Duos

28. Sheriff Truman and Agent Cooper, ‘Twin Peaks’

Okay, so perhaps the idea of lawmen as upstanding and self-sacrificing as Twin Peaks' central pair is as much of a fantasy as backward-speaking dwarves and demonic owls. But that's what made Kyle MacLachlan's zen FBI agent and Michael Ontkean's soft-spoken small-town sheriff so important. Both dogged and decent, their characters loved and respected one another and the people of the town they patrolled, providing David Lynch and Mark Frost's frequently frightening, occasionally devastating supernatural soap with a much-needed sliver of opt