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A young man and woman intimately close in for a kiss in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Some couples in “Outer Banks” are better than others. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

We already love “Outer Banks” for its adventure, mystery, and lovable characters, but this steamy teen drama has plenty of romance to keep the spark alive. We’ve seen a few pairings and unpairings in the show’s three seasons. Some of the couples are long-term commitments, some are flings, and some are trainwrecks.

Let’s look at every couple we’ve seen on the show so far. We’ve ranked them based on how good we think their relationship is, regardless of the amount of screen time or plot attached to the couple. This may be a controversial list with plenty of spoilers ahead, so be sure you’ve watched all three seasons of “Outer Banks,” which is available on Netflix, before you read on.

9. Pope and Kiara

A teen boy and girl sitting in front of the bonfire in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Pope (Jonathan Pierce Daviss) and Kiara (Madison Bailey) didn’t have the chemistry to create or maintain a relationship. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

Kiara (Madison Bailey) and Pope (Jonathan Pierce Daviss) were never a great match. They spent lots of time together as friends, so it’s natural that feelings would arise, but they're just too different. Kiara never took the relationship seriously, casually asking, “You wanna hook up?” whereas Pope hoped for something more. He’s also a much more cautious person who ends up making her feel held back or judged for her wilder side. It was worth them exploring their connection, but it was never meant to be.

8. Ward Cameron and Rose

A man and a woman gaze at each other in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Ward Cameron (Charles Esten) and Rose (Caroline Arapoglou) aren’t the best people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find romance. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

They say that sometimes two narcissists find each other and end up very happy together; hey, we all deserve love. Ward (Charles Esten) and Rose (Caroline Arapoglou) are both self-obsessed, conniving, and severely lacking conscience, but they seem to love each other in whatever capacity they can. Rose stood by him through his criminal investigations, faking his own death, and fleeing the country. Rose never seems to question her commitment to Ward, even when he’s strangling his own daughter. It’s certainly one interpretation of “through thick and thin.”

7. Sarah and Topper

A young woman and man stare at something off-camera in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Sarah (Madelyn Cline) and Topper (Austin North) were okay for each other. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

Although they didn’t make it for the long haul, Sarah (Madelyn Cline) and Topper (Austin North) didn’t have a bad relationship. He consistently treats her with respect, even going along with some of her crazier plans that push him way outside his comfort zone. He was there to emotionally support her through a tough time when she felt abandoned by John B (Chase Stokes). Sarah wasn’t fair to Topper, often changing her mind, and appearing to lead him on. However, his arson scene shows a much darker side of him that may have ended up insidiously making its way into their relationship had it lasted.

6. Sofia and Rafe Cameron

A young woman looks at a man whose back is turned to the camera in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Sofia (Fiona Paloma) and Rafe (Drew Starkey) walk on a tightrope between a good relationship and a toxic one. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

Rafe (Drew Starkey) isn’t a very nice guy, but we know there’s some good in him when we see him battling with his conscience. In all fairness, he’s gotten a pretty rotten deal, being the scapegoat of his dysfunctional family. Rafe meets Sofia (Fiona Paloma) at one of his house parties and lets her stay for the next several days. It may seem like a fling, but Sofia offers him the support and validation he’s been craving from his family for so long. She seems honest and down to earth, so she’s unlikely to turn a blind eye to his worst behaviors. It’s confirmed that we’ll see her again in Season 4, so maybe she’ll stick it out and be a good influence on him.

5. John B. and Sarah

A young man looks at a young woman in the rain in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
As the leads of the show, John B (Chase Stokes) and Sarah (Madelyn Cline) are the definition of a relationship that needs a lot of work. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

John B and Sarah are the lead characters and romantic focus for much of the show, with plenty of hype spurred on by the actors’ off-screen romance. In reality, however, their relationship is just okay. John B has a hero complex that makes him self-absorbed and emotionally unavailable. Sarah is still figuring out what she wants in life, leading to indecisive communication. They clearly love each other and will stand by each other’s side, but each has some growing up to do if their hot-and-cold relationship will make it in the long term.

4. Cleo and Pope

A young woman leans in toward a young man sitting on a boat in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
If there’s one pairing that’s a slow burn, it’s Cleo (Carlacia Grant) and Pope (Jonathan Pierce Daviss). (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

Cleo (Carlacia Grant) is a much better match for Pope than Kiara ever was. He doesn’t have a lot or come from money, but he can still offer Cleo a life she never imagined. He convinced his family to take her in, and she was grateful and amazed simply to have her own bedroom. Cleo offers a worldly perspective and different life experiences that give Pope’s active mind plenty of exciting stimulation. They don’t have a fiery, passionate relationship like others on the show, but they offer each other stability and meet one another's needs. This looks like a slow-burn romance that can weather the craziness of several more “Outer Banks” seasons.

3. Kiara and JJ

A teen couple standing close to each other in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
One of the best romances among the younger crew is between Kiara (Madison Bailey) and JJ (Rudy Pankow). (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

The long build-up to Kiara and JJ’s (Rudy Pankow) eventual relationship was probably the best-paced romance on the show. It's clear that Kiara is far more serious about JJ than she ever was about Pope, as evidenced by her willingness to be more real and emotional in her conversations with him. Kiara and JJ each have their own demons and wild sides that sometimes make them bad influences for each other. However, their strong foundation of friendship and willingness to give each other space to grow is very promising. JJ demonstrates that he’s willing to go to the ends of the earth for Kiara when he breaks her out of reform camp, despite his hesitation to love from having been hurt by his father. They might not have an easy time with their tumultuous personalities, but we’re rooting for these two to stick it out.

2. Heyward and Cara Heyward

 A man and a woman look skeptically at someone off-screen in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Heyward (E. Roger Mitchell) and Cara Heyward (Tonia Jackson) show what an ideal relationship looks like. (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

Pope’s parents have such a nice vibe that we would love to head down with them to Heyward’s Seafood for a dinner of shrimp fry and fish stew. They always seem to keep it positive, even when chewing Pope out for another of his crazy schemes. They have a joking, easygoing manner with one another and show that they trust each other by consulting one another, working together, and deferring to the other’s decisions. They’ve built and run a successful business together, showing how functional their relationship is. They perhaps overvalue hard work, which sometimes saps away their passion, but Heyward (E. Roger Mitchell) and Cara (Tonia Jackson) are truly a team. Pope’s family seems like the most solid and committed on the show.

1. Mike Carrera and Anna Carrera

A man smiles at a woman who turns away with a smile in this image from Red Canoe Productions.
Mike Carrera (Marland Burke) and Anna Carrera (Samantha Soule) are what we call One True Pairing (OTP). (Image: Red Canoe Productions)

Mike (Marland Burke) and Anna’s (Samantha Soule) Romeo-and-Juliet romance predated John B and Sarah’s cross-class love affair by a generation. They also prove that such a relationship can work long-term. Anna came from money, and after getting together with her, Mike built himself a very successful restaurant, despite coming from the poor side of the island. It seems like being with Anna inspired him to better himself, and Anna’s being with Mike opened her mind. They struggle to understand their wild child daughter and have become a little conservative in their not-so-old age, but it's clear they’re in it together through whatever happens. We see them celebrate a big anniversary on the show, where they express their love for each other and their daughter, despite their challenges. These two are truly #relationshipgoals.

One thought on “Every ‘Outer Banks’ Couple Ranked

  1. Trisha71 says:

    I liked seeing the adult couples more than the teen ones.

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