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A woman in a harlequin costume and makeup smiles at a man in a tux in this image from Atlas Entertainment.
Harley Quinn is better off with Poison Ivy anyway. (Image: Atlas Entertainment)

The prevalence of toxic relationships in cinema holds up a mirror to the complexities and challenges of real-life connections. Usually, we see these unhealthy relationships involving the antagonist of the story, showcasing situations that we tell ourselves we would never tolerate, but some of the most famous toxic relationships in film are a little more difficult to spot. Some of them are so romanticized, we might get tricked into believing they’re a healthy example of true love.

While all of these famous film couples have their share of red flags, some are definitely worse than others. Here’s a ranked list of unhealthy movie relationships, ranked from most to least toxic.

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Amy and Nick — ‘Gone Girl’ (2014)

A man flirts with a woman in a library in this image from 20th Century Fox.
The movie is based on the 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn. (Image: 20th Century Fox)

As far as toxic relationships go, there are few that are worse than Amy (Rosamund Pike) and Nick (Ben Affleck) from “Gone Girl.” Both characters are ruthless, manipulative, compulsive liars, and as the movie progresses, we see that both are the antagonists of this film. Amy shows anti-social traits, and Nick is certainly no stranger to narcissism. In a way, they deserve each other — too bad it’s a match made in hell.

Rent or buy “Gone Girl” on Apple TV.

Harley Quinn and The Joker — ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016)

A blonde woman looks at a man with green hair and face tattoos in this image from Atlas Entertainment.
Harley Quinn first appeared in the ’90s show, “Batman: The Animated Series.” (Image: Atlas Entertainment)

Harley Quinn’s relationship with The Joker in “Suicide Squad” isn’t just horrifically abusive and codependent — it’s canon. Ever since “Batman: The Animated Series” creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm decided to make Harley the Joker’s love interest, that relationship has been as chaotic and nightmarish as they come. The characters’ portrayals in “Suicide Squad” follow suit, offering a focus on Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie) villain origin story, and it’s no surprise to see that the Joker (Jared Leto) (literally) pushed her there.

Stream “Suicide Squad” on Netflix.

J.D. and Veronica — ‘Heathers’ (1988)

A teenage boy chats with a teenage girl in a convenience store in this image from New World Pictures.
John Hughes wanted “Heathers” to be “a Carson McCullers-style novel of a girl who meets the Antichrist as a teenager.” (Image: New World Pictures)

The pairing of J.D. (Christian Slater) and Veronica (Winona Ryder) is less of a teenage dream and more of a teenage nightmare. What begins as an intoxicated and exciting whirlwind relationship quickly heads down a sociopathic road, where J.D. convinces Veronica to participate in a string of murders to get rid of peers that they deem as their enemies. Her relationship with J.D. eventually becomes strained — unfortunately, she only knows one way to deal with her problems now.

Stream “Heathers” on tubiTV.

Romeo and Juliet — ‘Romeo + Juliet’ (1996)

A teen boy in armor kisses the hand of a girl with angel wings in this image from Bazmark Films.
Natalie Portman was almost cast as Juliet, but it was decided that she was too young to be paired romantically with Leonardo DiCaprio at the time. (Image: Bazmark Films)

An iteration of William Shakespeare’s classic drama, Baz Luhrmann’s modernized version of “Romeo + Juliet” follows an ill-fated pair of teens whose relationship tragically ends as quickly as it began. While the couple is a go-to example for ultraromantic, star-crossed lovers, Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) are misguided, impulsive, codependent, and fatally uncommunicative — you know, classic teenage behavior.

Buy or rent “Romeo + Juliet” on Apple TV.

Bella and Edward — ‘Twilight’ (2008)

A young woman looks closely at a pale vampire in this image from Summit Entertainment.
Unfortunately, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s real-life relationship wasn’t much healthier than that of their characters. (Image: Summit Entertainment)

As romantic as it may seem on the surface, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) share a connection that’s intense, all-encompassing, and a prime example of codependency. Bella’s life and sense of identity revolve entirely around Edward, reinforcing the idea that their relationship is the ultimate purpose of her life (and afterlife). On the other hand, Edward is a 104-year-old stalker with control issues and no concept of boundaries. Still, it’s a better love story than Jacob and Renesmee.

Stream “Twilight” on Hulu.

Allie and Noah — ‘The Notebook’ (2004)

A man embraces a woman in a blue dress while standing in the rain in this image from New Line Cinema.
Out of all the Nicholas Sparks adaptations, “The Notebook” is the most successful. (Image: New Line Cinema)

Although it’s probably one of the most famous relationships in 21st-century film, the love story between Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) in “The Notebook” exhibits plenty of toxic elements. Their initial connection is passionate and intense, but their on-again, off-again dynamic is exhausting. The couple is plagued by emotional volatility and frequent breakups and makeups. They also tend to navigate their conflicts through extreme emotional acts, putting more of an emphasis on romanticizing persistence rather than mutual respect.

Stream “The Notebook” on Hulu.

Tom and Summer — ‘500 Days of Summer’ (2009)

A young man and young woman joke around on a bed in this image from Searchlight Pictures.
If the story feels real, it’s because it’s based on a mostly true story. (Image: Searchlight Pictures)

“500 Days of Summer” was the indie darling of the early 2000s for turning rom-com tropes on their heads (even though our lead love interest is a hallmark example of a manic pixie dream girl). Rather than the typical “guy-gets-the-girl” storyline, the film portrays the raw, realistic, and at times painful relationship between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Despite clear communication of her expectations for the relationship, Tom seemingly ignores her, only to become angry and bitter when he wants something he knows she isn’t willing to give.

Stream “500 Days of Summer” on Hulu.

Andy and Nate — ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (2006)

A woman and man confront each other in front of a restaurant in this image from Fox 2000 Pictures.
The wardrobe for “The Devil Wears Prada” is one of the most expensive in film history. (Image: Fox 2000 Pictures)

In “The Devil Wears Prada,” the relationship between Andy (Anne Hathaway) and Nate (​​Adrian Grenier) becomes strained when Andy starts working for a successful fashion magazine. Nate feels neglected and resentful of Andy’s success, and Andy feels unappreciated and alone. Ultimately, neither of them is in a place to support each other’s ambitions. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily toxic — adult relationships end due to conflicting life paths all the time — but their treatment of each other is.

Stream “The Devil Wears Prada” on Amazon Prime Video.

Danny and Sandy — ‘Grease’ (1978)

A teenage girl and teenage boy dancing in a high school gym in this image from Paramount Pictures.
Director Ralph Bakshi pitched the movie as an X-rated cartoon. (Image: Paramount Pictures)

The sparks flew at the start of their relationship, but Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) face some unexpected difficulties — most of them stemming from Danny’s reluctance to acknowledge his feelings and his need to conform to social expectations. Although this pair has earned a permanent place in our hearts, the overall message behind their relationship is essentially that you too can find love if you give in to peer pressure and change everything about yourself.

Stream “Grease” on Hulu.

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