As far as I can tell, there are five types of sexual tension in television shows–either intended by showrunners or entirely constructed by viewers.

  1. Sexual tension that is never actualized
  2. Sexual tension that is actualized in the final episode
  3. Sexual tension that is actualized and then that “ruins” something
  4. Sexual tension that is actualized and then characters develop
  5. Sexual tension that is actualized and then thrown out the window

(Spoilers below)

1) Sexual tension that is never actualized.

I just finished the first disc of Season 3 of Battlestar Galatica. This is relevant to what I am going to say next–if I am wrong, don’t correct me, please. This is my own case of sexual tension–perhaps even something I desire to see! (Among Fans, this is called “shipping.”)

Roslin and Adama. I believe that they want each other. I never expect to see them get together. This would have major effects on the plot, and maybe never be actualized. In fact, that’s probably for the best.

2) Sexual tension that is actualized in the final episode.

This can also just be in the final story arc or at the end of the series in general. I’m going to go with Kaylee and Simon from Firefly. In the series they are on and off in how explicit their tension is–how often they interact with each other, when Kaylee’s own way of dealing with it ebbs and flows, and when Simon decides how to indulge his desire for Kaylee and his idea that he cannot have her while taking care of his sister.

Their relationship comes to fruition in the conversation where Simon, effectively, tells Kaylee that there are things to fight for and she utters the special line, which I believe was designed for fanboys: You mean like sex? I’m going to live!

3) Sexual tension that is actualized and then ruins everything.

Buffy and Angel.

That is an independent sentence.

When we were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer during undergrad, AG made the comment that when Buffy and Angel finally have sex, it depicted the fear of every teenage girl: when they have sex with their boyfriend, he will change forever into a jerk and cruel monster that she then has to slay in order to save the world from the Hellmouth.

Or something like that.

Buffy and Angel are totally into each other and even kind of together. They go on dates and everything. However, in this particular case, their sexual tension is not actualized right away.

When Buffy and Angel finally do get together (“bang” in the vernacular), he actually becomes a monster–losing his soul and humanity after his moment of “true happiness”–and this ruins their relationship forever.

4) Sexual tension that is actualized and then characters develop.

In “Bones,” Booth and Brennan have their sexual tension throughout most of the series thus far. This is approached explicitly at various points during the series, including conversations between Booth and his doctor/friend, Brennan and her best friend, and Booth and Brennan themselves. There is no actualization, of the tension or their relationship, until recently when they banged, she got pregnant, and now they’re together. They’re getting a house, they’re going to raise a baby, and they’re in love. They are developing as characters and changing both in their relationship with each other and those around them. It’s pretty cool.

5) Sexual tension that is actualized and then thrown out the window.

I really want to write about the X-files. I really want to write about the X-files. Unfortunately, I have not seen that new movie, but did read the Wikipedia article which says that Fox and Mulder are not living together and aren’t together. I reject this canon and instead am going to talk about Fringe.

I will sum up my thoughts on this in a simple letter to the show’s producer.

Dear J.J. Abrams,

What the fuck?


In order to not have to develop characters in Fringe, and perhaps even keep things interesting, the show resets after each major story arc (more or less season). First, Peter and Olivia get together, but then Olivia is kidnapped and replaced with Fauxlivia. Then when Olivia comes back she is too damaged to deal with it. After some time, they get together, but shortly thereafter Peter disappears from time and space but somehow comes back (due to his love for Olivia?). However, she no longer remembers him (see “disappears from time and space”).