Broadway musicals are full of lovey-dovey couples whose happiness is adorable, infectious, and—on occasion—disgusting. Sandy and Danny, Tracy and Link, Maria and Captain Von Trapp: Plenty of our favorite shows are filled with romantic couplings that just make us sick. What about those of us without a Valentine? Nothing says “You’ll never find love” like crying into your Snuggie listening to the cast recording of Beauty and the Beast and realizing you’ll never find a human half as dreamy. That’s why we’re pausing to offer a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Broadway’s doomed lovers, the romances that are less “wedded bliss” and more “apocalyptic nightmare.” Because that’s how Valentine’s Day should be celebrated: with complete bitterness toward every happy couple.
ELPHABA & FIYERO (Wicked)
Doom-o-Meter: 1 out of 5 melting witches
Between his brainlessness and her status as Oz's Most Wanted, Fiyero and Elphie are part of a college tryst that probably doesn't have much staying power past senior year. Plus, romantic walks in the rain are pretty much a dealbreaker for both parties.
MRS. LOVETT & SWEENEY (Sweeney Todd)
Doom-o-Meter: 1 out of 5 pie ovens
There’s something less than desirable about spending your final moments with a lover when one of you is burning to death in a furnace. Then again, there was always something a little off-putting about a serial killer who shacks up with a cannibal baker.
SHEILA & BERGER (Hair)
Doom-o-Meter: 2 out of 5 protest arrests
Everything looks swell for NYU student Sheila and high school dropout Berger when the gang is high in Central Park, but flash forward a few decades: Sheila's a successful businesswoman and Berger's a burnout who can’t keep a job in the shipping department. This couple “ain’t got no” chance.
MIMI & ROGER (Rent)
Doom-o-Meter: 2 out of 5 shared needles
She asked him to light her candle. He asked her to stop using drugs. They may wind up together at the end, but nothing about Mimi and Roger’s courtship ever really screamed “functional couple.”
DOT & GEORGE (Sunday in the Park With George)
Doom-o-Meter: 3 out of 5 finished hats
A work-obsessed artist and an insecure, illiterate model/actress/dancer are never a good combo. The song titles alone—“We Do Not Belong Together,” “Move On”—indicate a recipe for disaster. (Hey, no one should idly stand by as her lover puts the hat first.)
BESS & PORGY (Porgy and Bess)
Doom-o-Meter: 3 out of 5 bags of happy dust
What can go wrong when Catfish Row’s coked-up floozy shacks up with the "cripple"? [Gershwin's word!] She gets deathly ill? He murders her common-law husband? Her pimp lures her to NYC with the promise of hot jazz and pure cocaine? Well, they’ll always have summertime.
BONNIE & CLYDE (Bonnie & Clyde)
Doom-o-Meter: 3 out of 5 police ambushes
Even if you didn’t see the 2011 musical, you know how this gorgeous, tragic couple ended their days: in a bloody spray of bullets on a back-country road (a.k.a. the most romantic date ever).
MARIA & TONY (West Side Story)
Doom-o-Meter: 4 out of 5 gang rumbles
Things looked bleak for Tony and Maria after he murdered her brother. It was only after he died in a horrible gang fight that we really started to believe their star-crossed romance wasn’t going to work out.
WENDLA & MELCHIOR (Spring Awakening)
Doom-o-Meter: 4 out of 5 hayloft trysts
He may be the dreamiest boy in school, and she's the most innocent gal in town, but add in forbidden lovemaking, a botched abortion and reform school, and this teenage dream turns into a nightmare. Totally f**ked, indeed.
AIDA & RADAMES (Aida)
Doom-o-Meter: 5 out of 5 death sentences
Arguably the most depressing thing to come out of Egypt since slavery, the unfortunate romance of Aida and Radames is nevertheless a beautiful one that leaves us breathless. Same goes for them when they’re buried alive.