The Best Love Triangles In Movie History

From Gone With the Wind to Mean Girls, these are cinema's most fraught love triangles.

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What will make a love story even more dramatic? Add another person. Love triangles have been a cinematic go-to since the days of silent films. These three-way love connections have the power to turn casual viewers into full-on stans and transform movie watching into a competitive experience. From the classic good guy versus bad boy dynamic of movies like Titanic to modern-day vampire lust in Twilight, we've rounded up some of cinema's most fraught love stories.

los angeles   april 30 the movie mean girls, directed by mark waters seen here from left, lindsay lohan as cady heron and amanda seyfried as karen smith initial theatrical release april 30, 2004 screen capture paramount pictures photo by cbs via getty images
CBS Photo ArchiveGetty Images
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Mean Girls

Released: 2004

Triangle: Cady, Aaron, and Regina

Mean Girls is a case study in girl-on-girl bullying—and proof that Aaron Samuels' hair looks sexy pushed back. In Tina Fey's high school comedy classic, frenemies Cady (Lindsay Lohan) and Regina (Rachel McAdams) compete over, among other things, the affection of Aaron "Terrible at Math" Samuels (Jonathan Bennett).

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Newline Cinema
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The Notebook

Released: 2004

Triangle: Noah, Allie, and Lon

The Notebook is a story of love-almost-lost. And no complicated and winding path to happily ever after is complete without a detour down Triangle Lane. Before Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) end up together, she comes *this close* to marrying nice guy Lon (James Marsden).

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beauty and the beast, poster art, 1991
 © buena vista courtesy everett collection
©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
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Beauty and the Beast

Released: 1991

Triangle: Gaston, Belle, and the Beast

You know that feeling when the popular jerk wants to marry you, but you would rather be the prisoner/eventually wife of a literal monster? Belle does. The Disney princess was pursued romantically by two very different suitors in this Disney favorite.

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20th Century Fox
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Fight Club

Released: 1991

Triangle: The Narrator, Marla Singer, and Tyler Durden

Like everything else about the movie, Fight Club's twist on the love triangle between Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Brad Pitt's characters is definitely unique.

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Sony Pictures
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Spider-Man

Released: 2002

Triangle: Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry

Before Sony and Marvel were battling it out over Spidey's future, before Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone fell for each other IRL while filming their own version of the story, there was the OG Spider-Man movie, which came complete with a love triangle between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), his OTP Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and his BFF/future nemesis Harry Osbourn (James Franco).

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Columbia Pictures
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Center Stage

Released: 2000

Triangle: Cooper, Jody, and Charlie

Lots of movies include love triangles (clearly), but how many turn them into epic ballet/hip-hop/interpretative dance hybrids for their finale? At least one. In Center Stage, unlikely ballerina Jody (Amanda Schull) is torn between professional dancer/bad boy Cooper (Ethan Stiefel) and nice guy (and also a fellow dancer) Charlie (Sascha Radetsky).

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©Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection
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The Hunger Games

Released: 2012

Triangle: Peeta, Katniss, and Gale

The Hunger Games is proof that, even when characters are literally fighting for their lives, fans also want to see them fight for each other's hearts. In the Hunger Games series, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is caught between sweet, always-loyal Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and brooding, strong Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

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Paramount
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Titanic

Released: 1997

Triangle: Jack, Rose, and Cal

Titanic is one of the most epic love stories ever committed to film, so it's easy to forget sometimes that the movie is also a member of the love triangle society. Even though Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) are clearly tragic soulmates, we can't forget that Jack is, technically speaking, a sidepiece, since Rose is officially with Cal (Billy Zane) when they meet.

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something borrowed
Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy of 2011 Alcon Film Fund, LLC
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Something Borrowed

Released: 2011

Triangle: Rachel, Dex, and Darcy

Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) loves Dex (Colin Egglesfield), who happens to be engaged to her best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson). Talk about inconvenient. But when Rachel and Dex realize their feelings for each other can't be ignored, Rachel wavers between playing the role of supportive friend and backstabbing temptress. While we don't condone actively ruining relationships, this is one instance where we're rooting for the other woman.

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Rick's Café Americain

Released: 1942

Triangle: Rick, Ilsa, and Victor

After roaming around Europe, expat Rick (Humphrey Bogart) has made himself a new life in Casablanca. Rick obtains some valuable war documents, which leads him to meet Czech resistance leader Victor (Paul Henreid). Accompanying Victor is his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), who just happens to be Rick's former lover who abandoned him in Paris. Victor needs the documents Rick is entrusted with to escape Morocco, but Rick refuses to hand them over. We don't blame him—what kind of guy gives up both the girl and the goods?

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my best friend's wedding
Sony Pictures Entertainment/Photofest
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My Best Friend's Wedding

Released: 1997

Triangle: Julianne, Michael, and Kimberly

Best friends Michael (Dermot Mulroney) and Julianne (Julia Roberts) promise to wed if neither are attached by the time they're 28. Days before her fateful birthday, Julianne receives the news that Michael is set to marry a young, hot blonde. If that's not enough of a letdown, Michael's fiancée, Kimberly (Cameron Diaz), is, well, perfect. Chaos ensues, including Julianne's futile attempt to explain that while Michael is Jell-O, Kimberly will always be crème brûlée. Who knew dessert could be so enlightening?

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the graduate
Embassy Pictures Corporation/Photofest
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The Graduate

Released: 1967

Triangle: Mrs. Robinson, Benjamin, and Elaine

Long before the term "cougar" entered the lexicon, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) was setting the standard for MILFs everywhere. College grad Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) finds himself in a sticky situation when he begins an affair with the much-older wife of his father's business partner. To make matters worse, he finds himself dating—and falling for—her age-appropriate daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross). Talk about keeping it in the family. We're just glad Grandma wasn't thrown into the equation.

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match point
Dreamworks LLC/Photofest
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Match Point

Released: 2005

Triangle: Nola, Chris, and Chloe

Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a former tennis pro turned instructor, is introduced to friend Tom's little sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer). She sparks Chris' interest but doesn't catch his eye quite like Tom's girlfriend Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Proving he's as skilled at juggling women as tennis balls, Chris carries on an affair with Nola soon after marrying naive Chloe. Nola then throws a curveball at her lover, resulting in a catastrophic ending for both. Put simply, this Woody Allen thriller makes us thankful for background checks.

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Jason Bell/Miramax Films/Universal Pictures
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Bridget Jones's Diary

Released: 2001

Triangle: Mark, Bridget, and Daniel

Finally, a damsel in distress with real-life woes we can relate to. Insecure with her weight, career, and imperfections, Bridget (Renée Zellweger) makes a resolution to journal the truth and nothing but the truth. Things soon get complicated when she must juggle the affections of her seedy boss Daniel (Hugh Grant) and the much-too-uptight Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). All ends well with Bridget's story, reassuring us that you don't have to be perfectly poised to find Mr. Right.

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vicky cristina barcelona
The Weinstein Company/Photofest
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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Released: 2008

Triangle: Cristina, Juan Antonio, and Maria Elena

Surprise! Yet another movie where ScarJo finds herself mixed up in a romantic trio. Risk-taker Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and modest Vicky (Rebecca Hall) travel to Spain and meet artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). He boldly asks them to spend a weekend together, and the women agree. Juan's serious baggage—in the form of his psychotic, knife-wielding ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz)—joins the bunch and, naturally, complicates things further.

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sabrina
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Sabrina

Released: 1954

Triangle: Linus, Sabrina, and David

Ultimate bachelor David (William Holden) has ignored the affections of young, shy Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) for years. After a brief stint in Paris, Sabrina returns a new woman, catching the eye of her womanizing former crush. David's brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart), recognizes the relationship's threat to David's upcoming wedding and business deals, so he decides to split up the two by making Sabrina fall in love with him. Easier said than done, especially in the case of bad boy versus Mr. (Kind Of) Nice Guy.

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©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection
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Reality Bites

Released: 1994

Triangle: Troy, Lelaina, and Michael

Ah, the '90s: Lelaina (Winona Ryder) is an aspiring filmmaker documenting the lives of her roommates, including long time friend Troy (Ethan Hawke). Although the unspoken attraction between the two once led to a drunken night together, Lelaina begins dating TV exec Michael (Ben Stiller) after he crashes into her car. The two soon fizzle, and Lelaina finds herself in the unassuming arms of Troy yet again. But things get dramatic when Troy doesn't return her calls, proving to us even angsty, artsy types are guilty of bad-boy behavior.

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gone with the wind
Getty Images
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Gone With the Wind

Released: 1939

Triangle: Rhett, Scarlett, and Ashley

In the midst of the Civil War, Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) is desperate (and may we add, a little selfish?) for the affections of two different men: new suitor Rhett (Clark Gable) and longtime love Ashley (Leslie Howard). Several years, marriages, children, and (sheesh!) deaths later, Rhett becomes fed up with Scarlett's indecisiveness and chooses to leave her with one of the most famous lines in movie history: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"

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