For a romance between characters to be believable, the actors must have tenable on-screen chemistry. If they don't click behind the scenes, this shows when the cameras are rolling. When the chemistry works, it can make us swoon and root for the characters' 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 & Ginny Weasley – Harry Potter Franchise (2009-2011)
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 & Jane Foster – Thor Franchise (2011-2017)
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 largely missing.
3. Aurora Lane & Jim Foster – Passengers (2016)
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 serious breach of trust.
This, and the seriously nonexistent chemistry between the two actors, made the film a dud.
4. Daenerys Targaryen & Jon Snow – Game of Thrones (2017-2019)
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 & The Beast – Beauty and the Beast (2017)
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 tore apart Watson's performance because of her poor vocal performances and flat emotions. This movie could have greatly improved with some better casting choices.
6. Owen Grady & Claire Dearing – Jurassic World Franchise (2015-2022)
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 lacked the romantic spark to make their relationship believable, leading to lackluster performances in subsequent films.
7. Katniss Everdeen & Gale Hawthorne – The Hunger Games Franchise (2012-2015)
The romantic tension between Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen and Liam Hemsworth's Gale Hawthorne was a major 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 could immediately see there was no competition between Peeta and Gale. Katniss had an instantaneous connection with Peeta that never existed with Gale.
8. Christian Gray & Anastasia Steele – Fifty Shades of Grey Franchise (2015-2018)
The romance between Jamie Dornan's Christian Gray 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' relationship believable or compelling. This largely boils down to poor casting and a goofy depiction of their relationship.
9. Scott Lang & Hope Van Dyne – Ant-Man Franchise (2015-2023)
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 the investment viewers had in the sequels, as it felt less authentic.
10. Frank Tupelo & Elise Clifton-Ward – The Tourist (2010)
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 always be replicated with any other co-star. It would have been better to cast lesser-known actors with chemistry than to cast two A-list celebrities randomly.
11. Lauren Scott & FDR Foster/Tuck Hansen – This Means War (2012)
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 manages to create 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 & Alice Banks – Only Murders in the Building (2022)
In this comedic murder mystery series, Mabel Mora and Alice Banks are two of the three amateur detectives trying to solve a murder in their Upper West Side apartment building. The two women 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 & Ronald Weasley – Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)
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.
Even in the behind-the-scenes footage, you hear Emma Watson and Rupert Grint talk about how painfully awkward it was to kiss each other and how they don't see each other that way, which followed them into their performances.
14. Debbie Dunn & Peter Coleman – Your Place or Mine (2023)
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, with their interactions feeling 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 & Rachel Dawes (2005-2008)
In Christopher Nolan's iconic Batman films, Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes share a romantic history, but 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 as 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 that lurked in the air. Instead, they felt like old friends.
16. James Bond & Madeleine Swann – No Time to Die (2021)
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 & Marlena Rosenbluth – Water for Elephants (2011)
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. This is what happens when you tell Reese Witherspoon to play a love interest.
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 & Laureline – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
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 was a huge misstep.
19. Bruce Wayne & Talia al Ghul – The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
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 & Mera – Aquaman (2018)
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 & Caine – Jupiter Ascending (2015)
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 in chemistry.
22. Tony Stark & Pepper Potts – Iron Man (2008-2019)
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a genius inventor and billionaire industrialist who creates a high-tech suit of armor to become the superhero Iron Man. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is his long-time assistant and eventual love interest.
Despite appearing in multiple films together, their on-screen chemistry often feels flat and uninspired. 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 & Frank Wolff – Jungle Cruise (2021)
In Jungle Cruise, Lily Houghton (played by Emily Blunt) and Frank Wolff (played by 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.
I personally am never impressed by Dwayne Johnson's performances or films, so I had low expectations but even with those rock-bottom expectations, this one missed the mark.
24. Anakin Skywalker & Padmé Amidala – Star Wars Prequels (2002-2005)
Anakin Skywalker (played by Hayden Christensen) and Padmé Amidala (played by 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 & Amira – You People (2022)
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, plays 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. To complicate things, Lauren London is still grieving the loss of her partner Nipsey Hussle, who was killed in 2019. One of his songs is featured in a scene between the two of them, so that may have played a role in the awkward chemistry.
This thread inspired this post.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.