Missing the Magic: 25 On-Screen Couples Whose Chemistry Left Audiences Cold

paul rudd chemistry

When there's a spark between two characters, it can make us swoon and root for their happily ever after. However, when the chemistry falls flat, it can be cringe-worthy and awkward to watch. These are 25 of the worst on-screen couples in movies and TV series whose lack of chemistry made their romantic relationships unbelievable, unconvincing, and sometimes downright unbearable.

1. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter Franchise (2009-2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II Bonnie Wright, Daniel Radcliff
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Fans of the Harry Potter franchise often criticized the lack of chemistry between Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and Bonnie Wright's Ginny Weasley. Despite being a significant part of the book series, the romance between the two characters felt underdeveloped and random in the films, leaving audiences feeling that their relationship lacked emotional depth and believability.

2. Thor and Jane Foster, Thor Franchise (2011-2017)

Thor Love and Thunder Natalie Portman
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

While Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster had good chemistry in the first Thor movie, their romance became less believable in the sequel. Portman's character was largely absent from Thor: Ragnarok, and when she did return in Avengers: Endgame, the spark between the two characters was mostly missing.

3. Aurora Lane and Jim Preston, Passengers (2016)

Passengers
Image Credit: Jaimie Trueblood/Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures.

The romantic relationship between Chris Pratt's Jim Preston and Jennifer Lawrence's Aurora Lane in Passengers was criticized for being based on deception and manipulation. Many viewers found it difficult to root for the couple's happiness, given their relationship was founded on a severe breach of trust.

This, and the seriously nonexistent chemistry between the two actors, made the film a dud.

4. Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, Game of Thrones (2017-2019)

Game of Thrones
Image Credit: HBO.

Despite being one of the most talked-about couples on TV during the seventh season of Game of Thrones, many fans felt the romantic relationship between Emilia Clarke's Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington's Jon Snow was rushed and underdeveloped. The revelation that the two characters were related made the romance even less palatable for most viewers.

5. Belle and the Beast, Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast 2017
Image Credit: Walt Disney Motion Pictures.

The live-action adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast received criticism for the lack of chemistry between Emma Watson's Belle and Dan Stevens' Beast. Not only did their romantic scenes feel stiff and lack the emotional resonance of the animated original, but audiences were torn apart by Watson's poor vocal performance and flat emotions. This movie could have been greatly improved with some better casting choices.

6. Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, Jurassic World Franchise (2015-2022)

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The romantic relationship between Chris Pratt's Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire Dearing was ridiculed for being formulaic and predictable. Many viewers felt the two characters needed more romantic spark to make their relationship believable, leading to lackluster performances in subsequent films.

7. Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne, the Hunger Games Franchise (2012-2015)

The Hunger Games 2012
Image Credit: Lionsgate Films.

The romantic tension between Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen and Liam Hemsworth's Gale Hawthorne was a significant part of The Hunger Games franchise, as he was her first love interest before she entered the Hunger Games. As Peeta vied for her attention, even though it was for practical reasons to survive, fans immediately saw no competition between Peeta and Gale. Katniss had an instantaneous connection with Peeta that never existed with Gale.

8. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, Fifty Shades of Grey Franchise (2015-2018)

Fifty Shades of Grey Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey
Image Credit: Charles Ziotnick, Universal Pictures.

The romance between Jamie Dornan's Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele was widely criticized for being abusive and lacking in chemistry. Many viewers felt that the two actors lacked the necessary spark to make their characters' relationships believable or compelling. This essentially boils down to poor casting and a goofy depiction of their relationship.

9. Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne, Ant-Man Franchise (2015-2023)

Ant Man and the Wasp 2018 scaled
Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

While Paul Rudd's Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne had great chemistry in the first Ant-Man movie, their romantic relationship felt forced and predictable in the sequel. The watering down of the chemistry affected viewers' investment in the sequels, as it felt less authentic.

10. Frank Tupelo and Elise Clifton-Ward, the Tourist (2010)

The Tourist 2010
Image Credit: Sony Pictures.

Despite featuring two of Hollywood's biggest stars, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, they couldn't have had less romantic chemistry if they tried. Jolie and Depp usually have solid performances and undeniable chemistry with their co-stars (so much so that Jolie ended up falling in love with one of them and marrying him).

However, when you put them together, it's like watching paint dry. This is why the chemistry between actors is so important — you can have two amazing actors with proven track records of striking chemistry with other actors, but that doesn't mean it will consistently be replicated with any other co-star. It would have been better to cast lesser-known actors with chemistry.

11. Lauren Scott and FDR Foster/Tuck Hansen, This Means War (2012)

This Means War
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Films.

In this romantic comedy, two CIA agents and best friends, FDR Foster and Tuck Hansen, fall for the same woman, Lauren Scott. However, the love triangle between the three never creates a spark. The love triangle feels forced and unconvincing, and the lead role should have gone to someone other than Reese Witherspoon, who rarely has chemistry with her male co-stars (save for Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Lucas).

12. Mabel Mora and Alice Banks, Only Murders in the Building (2022)

Only Murders in the Building
Image Credit: Hulu.

In this comedic murder mystery series, Mabel Mora and Alice Banks share an on-and-off-again romance, but it's entirely unbelievable. The two give off major platonic relationship vibes, and both actresses have been criticized for their acting performances.

13. Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley, Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

This one may be controversial because I know there are a lot of “Romione” shippers out there. Throughout the Harry Potter franchise, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley's relationship is built up as an inevitable romance, but their chemistry never seems to click. Despite years of teasing and banter, their on-screen romance never feels genuine or anything more than platonic.

Sure, Hermione and Ron were written as inevitable love interests in the books, but in the movies, Hermione always had more on-screen chemistry with Harry, so make of that what you will.

14. Debbie Dunn and Peter Coleman, Your Place or Mine (2023)

Your Place or Mine
Image Credit: Netflix.

In this romantic comedy, Debbie Dunn (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter Coleman (Ashton Kutcher) are coworkers who get locked in an office overnight and develop a romantic connection. However, the chemistry between the two actors feels forced and unconvincing, making their interactions more awkward than romantic.

The movie has zero charm, and the performances from Witherspoon and Kutcher are pretty offputting. I am begging filmmakers to stop casting Reese Witherspoon in romantic comedies.

15. Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes, Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2008)

katie holmes batman begins
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In Christopher Nolan's iconic Batman films, Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes share a romantic history. Still, their on-screen chemistry is questionable, with not one but two different actresses playing Rachel. In Batman Begins, Rachel is played by Katie Holmes. The chemistry is nonexistent, which I would largely blame on Holmes, who is not a compelling actress.

However, some onus is on Bale here as well because when Rachel was recast with Maggie Gyllenhaal, who gave a tremendous performance in The Dark Knight, their long-lost lovers' connection felt contrived. There was no attraction between the two — instead, they felt like old friends.

16. James Bond and Madeleine Swann, No Time To Die (2021)

No Time to Die
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.

In the 24th James Bond film and fifth film with Daniel Craig playing the titular character, 007 becomes involved with Madeleine Swann, a psychologist and the daughter of one of his enemies. However, their romantic chemistry feels flat, and their relationship seems to exist solely to serve the plot rather than to develop genuine feelings between the two characters. Some viewers even think they had more of a father-daughter dynamic than a couple.

17. Jacob Jankowski and Marlena Rosenbluth, Water for Elephants (2011)

Water for Elephants Reese Witherspoon, Tim Guinee, Robert Pattinson, Tai, Uggie
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

In this romantic drama, Jacob Jankowski, a veterinary student, falls in love with Marlena Rosenbluth, a circus performer. Despite the film's efforts to create a passionate romance, the chemistry between the two leads falls short, making their romantic scenes stiff and contrived.

Viewers complain this felt like a miscasting mishap and that Witherspoon, 11 years older than Robert Pattinson, came off like his mother rather than his romantic interest.

18. Valerian and Laureline, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

valerian-city-of-a-thousand-planets
Image Credit: EuropaCorp Distribution.

In this sci-fi adventure film, Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are special operatives tasked with maintaining order throughout the galaxy. Despite their partnership, the characters' romantic chemistry feels like watching cardboard flirt. They could play convincing siblings or friends, but casting them as a couple took a lot of work.

19. Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul, the Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

In the third film of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Bruce Wayne becomes involved with Talia al Ghul, the daughter of one of his enemies, as he believes her to be someone going by the name Miranda Tate. Despite their shared history, the chemistry between the two characters is unconvincing and feels like a plot device.

Interestingly, Bale has a fiery connection with Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway in the same movie, but she is ultimately not his love interest.

20. Aquaman and Mera, Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman Amber Heard
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

In this superhero film, Aquaman and Mera are tasked with protecting the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. Despite their shared mission, the chemistry between the two characters never quite clicks, with their romantic interactions feeling more awkward than genuine.

Behind the scenes, there were even discussions about recasting the role of Mera because Jason Momoa and Amber Heard were not believable love interests.

21. Jupiter Jones and Caine, Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter Ascending
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a young woman who discovers she is the heir to a powerful intergalactic dynasty. Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) is a genetically engineered hunter sent to protect Jupiter from those who would harm her. While the two leads share plenty of screen time, their on-screen chemistry feels forced and lackluster. The audience is never given enough time to see the connection between the two characters develop, leaving their romance feeling rushed and lacking chemistry.

22. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, Iron Man (2008-2019)

Iron Man
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a genius inventor and billionaire industrialist who created a high-tech armor suit to become the superhero Iron Man. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is his long-time assistant and eventual love interest.

Their on-screen chemistry often feels flat and uninspired despite appearing in multiple films together. Robert Downey Jr. carried most of the burden in making what little connection they had seem half believable simply because he's an incredibly charismatic actor. I have no idea how Paltrow got this role.

23. Lily Houghton and Frank Wolff, Jungle Cruise (2021)

Dwayne Johnson as Frank and Emily Blunt as Lily in Jungle Cruise
Image Credit: Frank Masi, Disney Enterprises.

In Jungle Cruise, Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) embark on a wild adventure through the Amazon jungle to find a magical tree with healing powers. Despite their constant bickering and banter, their chemistry as a romantic couple falls flat and feels forced.

The two actors fail to create a believable romantic connection, which is a shame considering their individual star power and the potential for a great on-screen duo.

24. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, Star Wars Prequels (2002-2005)

padme attack of the clones
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) are two of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars franchise. However, their on-screen chemistry falls flat in the prequels, leaving audiences feeling cold about their relationship.

The forced dialogue and wooden acting fail to convince viewers of their love story, leaving them wondering why Padmé would ever fall for Anakin despite his obvious flaws and dark tendencies.

25. Ezra and Amira, You People (2022)

You People
Image Credit: Netflix.

A young couple and their families navigate the complexities of modern romance amidst societal pressures, cultural divides, and generational differences. Amira, played by Lauren London, is the Black love interest of her Jewish boyfriend Ezra, played by Jonah Hill. The lack of chemistry was so bad that they only kissed once in the entire movie, and even that kiss was done via CGI. 

Author: Jaimee Marshall

Title: Freelance Writer

Expertise: Politics, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Pop Culture

Bio:

Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.