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The Best Animated TV Kisses

Love is a many-splendored, frequently animated thing. Though we don't tend to think of animated TV when we think of l'amour, romance can indeed be found on every sort of small-screen cartoon. Sardonic comedies aimed at adults, wacky gag-fests the whole family can enjoy, and elegant anime series all include the mushy stuff now and then. Many people's first experience with being swept away by a great love story comes from TV animation, in fact. Take a moment to think back, and you might just find yourself remembering a time when the prospect of Ash and Misty holding hands on "Pokemon" blew your little mind. 

As every romantic knows, there's nothing more satisfying than watching the couple you've been rooting for through countless episodes finally, blessedly, exhilaratingly kiss. And, as many cartoon nerds know, animation is uniquely able to capture how something feels, as well as how it looks. As a result, animation's greatest small-screen smooches pack a seriously potent punch. We're here to take a look at the very best animated TV kisses, one swoon-worthy smack at a time.

Ruby and Sapphire - Steven Universe

Ruby and Sapphire kiss plenty of times before their big wedding smooch. All of these previous kisses are sweet, beautifully animated, and culturally groundbreaking. The very first peck Sapphire lays upon Ruby's tear-stained cheek in Season 1's "Jail Break" is especially memorable, as it reveals Garnet's nature as a fusion, sets up the killer jam that is "Stronger Than You," and cemented "Steven Universe" as a trailblazing LGBTQ+ cartoon.

But it's Ruby and Sapphire's first married kiss in Season 5's "Reunited" that takes the (wedding) cake. The bond between these two gems epitomizes the central message of "Steven Universe" — love is the only thing that matters. Before they kiss, they detail the ways they've changed each others' lives. Ruby, who was born to be just one foot soldier among many, describes how Sapphire makes her feel like a complete person unto herself. Sapphire, who can glimpse the future, rhapsodizes about the endless galaxy of possibilities Ruby's love has introduced her to. When they seal their bond with a gorgeously animated kiss, it's a tribute to the many marvelous ways love makes us better people. Or, in Ruby and Sapphire's case, a better Garnet, who sports a ludicrously cool tux-gown combo once she's been re-formed.

Marceline and Princess Bubblegum - Adventure Time

Before Ruby and Sapphire, Korra and Asami, or Adora and Catra, there was Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen. Back in 2011, "Adventure Time" set a certain segment of the internet on fire with Season 3's "What Was Missing." Many fans interpreted the episode as alluding to a romantic past between Marceline and Bubblegum, especially Marceline's now-famous song "I'm Just Your Problem." Canon confirmation was a long way off, however — a fact made clear when the powers that be pulled an episode of an "Adventure Time" recap series that openly addressed the possibility of "Bubbline."

Though later episodes hinted at a connection between the pair, the series stopped short of portraying the pink scientist and the vampire rocker as having definitively more-than-friendly feelings for each other ... until "Come Along With Me," the "Adventure Time" finale. Finally, in the midst of the saga's complex climax, Marceline and Bubblegum kiss. It's a goofy, tender kiss — the kind of kiss that happens between people who know each other so well that there's no need for words any longer. In conversation with TVLine following the finale, executive producer Adam Muto credited one-time "Adventure Time" writer and storyboard artist Rebecca Sugar with laying the foundation for this memorable lip-lock. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Sugar went on to create "Steven Universe." That's right — one person is responsible for two smooches on this list.

Aang and Katara - Avatar: The Last Airbender

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" excels on many fronts, but it's especially distinguished by its vibrant lead characters. Aang, the titular Avatar, stands alone among all-ages animated heroes as a stalwart pacifist who's forced to consider the use of violence. Katara, the last waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe, balances extraordinary talent with the grave responsibilities thrust upon her by war. In each other, they find deep friendship — and eventually, something more. As the series marches on, however, the time is never quite right for Aang and Katara to act on their feelings. Other people get in the way, plans go awry, and adolescent feathers get ruffled. Above all, there is the broken world, which they must find a way to heal. 

At last, the war is won in the series finale, "Avatar Aang." Having dethroned Fire Lord Ozai, taken down Princess Azula, and affirmed that everyone's still alive, Aang and Katara finally get a chance to be alone together outside the Jasmine Dragon. Wordlessly, they embrace and finally — finally! — kiss. This kiss might happen at the end of the series, but it symbolizes all that's joyfully beginning: Aang and Katara's relationship, the post-war era, and the renewed cycle of the Avatar. No wonder the end of "Avatar: The Legend of Korra" pays homage to this kiss with Korra and Asami's tender departure to the Spirit World — it's a kiss that contains volumes.

BoJack and Charlotte - BoJack Horseman

Unlike most of the kisses celebrated on this list, the one Charlotte and BoJack share is anything but triumphant. In Season 2's "Escape from L.A.," BoJack travels to New Mexico to visit his old friend, Charlotte. His tendency to idealize her only intensifies after he meets her husband and children. Things crescendo when BoJack escorts eldest daughter Penny and her friends to the prom: After one of the teens exhibits signs of alcohol poisoning (from booze BoJack bought her), BoJack ditches her and her date at the ER, takes Penny home, and fends off the girl's naïve advances.

BoJack then finds Charlotte relaxing in the backyard. They talk like old friends do, then kiss — but Charlotte breaks it off. BoJack, nakedly desperate, reveals how deeply he romanticizes her — a woman, as Charlotte puts it, he knew "for five minutes, 30 years ago." Their kiss is a potent symbol of BoJack's most destructive quality: He believes some perfect, singular thing can fix him. Often, that "thing" is a woman, who he piles fantasies of peace, maturity, and joy onto. But as Charlotte points out, Los Angeles, which he thinks has corrupted him, isn't "the tar pit" she once called it — the tar pit is him. Only BoJack can fix BoJack, and that's a truth he will do anything to ignore. Kissing Charlotte crams an entire show's worth of dysfunction into one vividly needy moment.

Robin and Starfire - Teen Titans

In the 2000s, kids everywhere rejoiced when Robin and Starfire finally locked lips in "Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo." They were more than justified. It takes these goofy kids five long seasons and most of a TV movie to finally admit they're into each other. Well, not Starfire so much — the vivacious Tamaranean is considerably more in touch with her feelings than the emotionally stunted boy wonder. But still, the road to this smooch is a long one.

Really, though, would "Teen Titans" fans have it any other way? A big part of what makes Robin and Starfire's kiss so memorable is their drawn-out courtship. Over the course of the series, they help each other through everything from confusing lessons in Earth slang to the actual apocalypse. When an arranged marriage threatens to condemn Starfire to a life of misery in Season 3's "Betrothed," Robin is there to disrupt the wedding. When a chemical agent plunges Robin into life-threatening hallucinations a few episodes later in "Haunted," Starfire is there to save him. By the time they lock lips in the Tokyo rain after taking down a manga-themed monster, they've already spent years acting on their feelings. And of course, when it comes to love, actions speak louder than words — a truism Starfire endorses when she tells Robin to "stop talking" so they can, at long last, kiss. Cyborg speaks for us all when he quips, "Well, it's about time."

Adora and Catra - She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Adora and Catra's relationship undergoes many shifts over the course of "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power." They begin as Horde soldiers who've been close since childhood. After Adora joins the Rebellion, they become fierce enemies. Once the war escalates to a point neither of them could have imagined, they're reunited in the fight against Horde Prime. Through magical disaster, contortions of the space-time continuum, and bouts of outright mind control, Catra and Adora never stop mattering to each other. Neither girl is always happy about this, with Catra being especially ashamed of her inability to let Adora go. But still, they keep caring, for a very simple fact: Catra and Adora are in love. 

When Horde Prime threatens to destroy Etheria forever in the "She-Ra" series finale, "Heart," Catra breaks the spell Adora's under by admitting she loves her. As they kiss, a luminous wave of energy engulfs them. Then She-Ra proceeds to save the day like never before: Everything corruptive is dissolved by her presence, ending the war that twisted Adora and Catra's feelings for each other into enmity. Their kiss is a homecoming, a relief, and a profoundly brave act of truth. They love each other, and they can no longer be made to believe that's a problem. In fact, it makes them powerful enough to destroy Horde Prime's hivemind, restore the blighted landscape, and turn a massive spaceship into a floating forest. Now that's what we call true love's kiss.

Daria and Tom - Daria

Daria and Jane's relationship is the foundation upon which "Daria" is built. Sure, Quinn and the Fashion Club's antics are hilarious, and yeah, we all enjoy watching Mr. DeMartino's eye twitch. But the series marches to the beat of Daria and Jane's acerbic jokes, insightful observations, and occasionally intense arguments. No matter what comes between them, they always find their way back to the pizza parlor ... until Daria and Tom, Jane's witty boyfriend, kiss in Season 4's "Dye! Dye! My Darling."

The kiss is preceded by Daria's insistence that she'd be "stabbing [Jane] in the back" if she even considered dating Tom. Tom agrees. Then, like the foolish teenagers they are, they kiss. The kiss is a perfectly captured moment of adolescent confusion. Daria and Tom both know what a bad idea it is, but that rational voice doesn't drown out the one urging them to go for it. What's more, the crisis encapsulated by this kiss is the most potent one Daria could possibly face, as it forces her entirely out of her rational comfort zone. Jane is the most important person in her life. Hurting Jane is a terrible idea. She knows these things. But in the moment, they — and logic in general — don't matter. This is an entirely new experience for Daria on multiple levels, as exhilarating as it is excruciating — so, adolescence in a nutshell. This kiss might not be entirely happy, but it's unquestionably poignant.

Yuri and Viktor - Yuri on Ice

Yuri and Victor's romance unfolds within the high-octane world of competitive figure skating. Everything is under scrutiny here, from the minutiae of diet to Instagram photos. Yuri Katsuki might be one of the top skaters in the world, but he's still intensely affected by the extremity of life on the ice. As the pressure mounts before he's set to compete in Episode 7, "The Cup of China Free Skate," it seems like he might crumble. As he and Victor are both crushingly aware, it wouldn't be the first time.

But Yuri doesn't crumble — he dazzles. As he approaches the end of his performance, he even risks Victor's signature move, the quadruple flip. Flushed with victory, he and Victor rush towards each other. To everyone's surprise, Victor leaps, closes his eyes, and kisses Yuri with as much passion as Yuri just displayed on the ice. "That was the only thing I could think of," Victor says, eyes sparkling, "to surprise you more than you've surprised me." 

"Yuri on Ice" is a story about risk-taking. Yuri risks miserable defeat, Victor risks the loss of his own spectacular career, and both of them risk their hearts. Though failure does arrive in various forms over the course of the series' 12 episodes, so does victory, most potently in the form of this kiss. The love they've found in each other is worth taking a chance on everything else, even a quadruple flip.

Hawkgirl and Green Lantern - Justice League

Season 2's "Wild Cards Part I and II" are among the most tense episodes of "Justice League." The Joker has planted a number of bombs all over the Las Vegas Strip, and he promises to detonate them if anyone but the Justice League attempts to locate and defuse them. When one goes off, Green Lantern (aka John) blasts Hawkgirl (aka Shayera) to safety while taking the brunt of the explosion. As rubble rains down, Shayera, who's been doing her best to ignore the love growing between them, makes her true feelings clear as she screams his name.

Once the day is saved and they're back on the Watchtower, Shayera pays John a visit. She insists they're too different to be together, but her protests are silenced when he replies that all he sees is a man and a woman. Tenderly, he removes her helmet, revealing her face for the first time in the series. They kiss, witnessed only by the Earth spinning beyond the ship's window. The hushed gravity of this moment is breathtaking, but as fans know, Shayera is revealed as a spy just two episodes later. That knowledge only makes the kiss weightier: Shayera is both lying to John in this moment and being more honest with him than ever before. This kiss is one of pure love, unimpeded by outside forces — but soon enough, that will change forever.

Jack and Ashi - Samurai Jack

A shocking 13 years passed between "Samurai Jack" Season 4 and Season 5. When the series returned in 2017, it did so with a timeslot on Adult Swim. While Season 5 is principally aimed at the grown-ups who first encountered the cartoon as children, this iteration of "Samurai Jack" doesn't prove its maturity through an upped violence factor alone. In examining love, loneliness, and growth through the relationship that blossoms between Jack and Ashi, Season 5 goes most prominently where it couldn't have gone before.

Ashi is initially out to kill Jack, having been raised in an Aku-worshipping cult. But with time, she comes to respect him, a feeling Jack reciprocates. Respect melts into attraction in Episode 8, "XCIX," which comes to a boiling point as Jack and Ashi battle a swarm of mechanical leeches. After a miserable death is abruptly averted, they pause to catch their breath. Then, via the smash cut to end all smash cuts, Jack and Ashi smooch like their lives depend on it, to the smooth sound of Dean Martin crooning "Everybody Loves Somebody." Watching these two find each other in the blighted landscape is a joy, and this fabulously over-the-top kiss is their crowning moment. Though their time together is brief, it lights up the screen — and the viewer's heart.

Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd - Looney Tunes

Released in 1940, "A Wild Hare" is the first true Bugs Bunny cartoon. Many of his trademark lines, mannerisms, and gags are established in this wacky installment, including his tendency to discombobulate Elmer Fudd with big, smacking kisses. Fudd, as always, is attempting to hunt Bugs, and Bugs, as always, is having a great time making a fool of him. Bugs plants his hands over Fudd's eyes and says, "Guess who?" Fudd proceeds to name gorgeous actresses of the era, including Hedy Lamarr and Olivia de Havilland (Bugs claims the latter is "getting warmer"). When Fudd realizes it's that "scwewy wabbit," Bugs congratulates him with a smooch, then swan dives back into his burrow.

This very first kiss epitomizes Bugs Bunny's timeless appeal. Stodgy Elmer Fudd is the picture of authority at its most absurd, convinced famous screen sirens might be interested in him. Bugs is the brilliant trickster, transforming the oh-so-serious hunter into a clown with a comical smackeroo. As film scholar J.P. Telotte writes in "The Kiss of the Rabbit Woman," Bugs' kiss (and animation in general) "[reveals] a freedom from power in our ability to accept and violate conventions." A kiss is the last thing Fudd expects because he's an uptight square. Bugs leaps to it because he's irreverence personified. No wonder "A Wild Hare" proved to be the first Bugs Bunny cartoon of many. You might even say Bugs sealed his own fate with a kiss.

Utena and Anthy - Revolutionary Girl Utena

Though Utena and Anthy enjoy a much more lavishly animated kiss in 1999's "Adolescence of Utena," the one they share in the TV anime's second ending sequence carries the weight of their world. By this point in the series, it's become clear that nothing is exactly as it seems at Ohtori Academy. Anthy's smiling docility conceals complex anger, Utena's path to princeliness is a lot more twisted than it first appeared, and the duels that govern their lives might not have winners at all. This isn't a story where Utena saves Anthy from a vicious world, as it turns out — it's about the viciousness that threatens to consume them from within.

Then, like the sure thrust of Utena's sword through the rose on her opponent's lapel, the second ending debuts. A series of still shots appear in time to the beat: Utena and Anthy dressing for a duel, drawing closer to each other, and finally, losing themselves in a passionate kiss. This kiss is a war cry. Though things have never looked darker, their love will save the day. The final shot, depicting Utena dipping Anthy dramatically low, is a particularly flagrant act of defiance. At this highly metaphorical point of "Revolutionary Girl Utena," the fight is basically against the force of misogyny itself. But Utena and Anthy can't be driven apart, turned against each other, or forced to submit. This kiss captures all of that in two vibrantly rendered, utterly unforgettable frames.

Sailor Moon and Sailor Uranus - Sailor Moon

Sailor Uranus is one of the coolest anime characters ever. A champion racecar driver, she takes a helicopter to school, dates an internationally famous violinist, lives in a palatial apartment, and regularly defends the galaxy from the forces of darkness. Pretty much everyone in "Sailor Moon Crystal" is at least a little in love with her — including Sailor Moon herself. This is never more clear than in Season 3's "New Soldiers," when Usagi dreams about the kiss Uranus planted on her one episode earlier.

That previous kiss is pretty spectacular in its own right. But in dreaming of it, Usagi cements the attraction between the two as reciprocal. "Sailor Moon" is a beloved franchise for lots of reasons, but one of the most prominent is its status an almost entirely female-dominated fantasy saga. This allows "Sailor Moon" to present visions of female-centric cool that almost never make it to the mainstream, like, say, Uranus, a lesbian who wears gorgeously-cut tuxedos as often as her sailor uniform. Usagi dreaming of her kiss foregrounds Uranus' gender-nonconforming allure, and it also makes it clear that the series' heroine is super into it — something that remains groundbreaking today, let alone when Naoko Takeuchi first drew this scene in the '90s. With one kiss, "Sailor Moon Crystal" shows why the "Sailor Moon" franchise has captured the imaginations of so many viewers across the world.

Haruko Haruhara and Naota Nandaba - FLCL

Like many twerpy kids, Naota is obsessed with appearing grown-up. This manifests as an affectedly blasé attitude and a tendency to insist that "nothing amazing happens" in his hometown. Haruko, an alien lunatic with obscure aims and a sweet Vespa, puts the lie to this immediately by whacking him in the head with her Rickenbacker bass. This establishes an interdimensional portal in Naota's head, from which a TV-headed robot emerges by the end of Episode 1, "Fooly Cooly."

Clearly, "FLCL" is a surreal series, and Naota's coming-of-age is its tether to reality. To him, Haruko and all her craziness represent exactly the sort of adult he's afraid of becoming ... yet also the maturity he's still lightyears away from. After gaining the immense power of Atomsk — the enigmatic being Haruko wants for herself in the final episode, "FLCLimax" — Naota finally lets his surly guard down by planting a kiss on Haruko's lips. "I love you," he says shyly, before Atomsk emerges from his head. 

In letting himself be honest and vulnerable, he accepts that he might end up becoming a ridiculous adult like Haruko (who he's nevertheless developed a crush on), and that her grown-up world is still beyond him. It's his first moment of actual maturity. Before Haruko leaves his planet, she asks if he wants to come with her. Then she rescinds her offer, noting that he can't because he's "still a kid." For the very first time, Naota might be okay with that.

Yukari and George - Paradise Kiss

"Paradise Kiss" distinguishes itself from similar coming-of-age shoujo anime by refusing to sand down the jagged edges of adolescence. Yukari, a tightly wound high school senior, is reluctant to be drawn into the world of Paradise Kiss, a quartet of fashion students who want her to model their capstone gown. She is, in fact, a bit of a brat about it — but so is George, the group's leader. In Episode 3, "Kiss," they bicker so intensely on the stairs to their basement studio that Yukari seems close to quitting the entire project. Then, abruptly, they kiss. The kiss is as ardent as their fight, until, without warning, it's cut short by George's ringing phone. He answers it as casually as if he were in the middle of clipping his toenails.

This kiss is awkward, combative, and passionate. In its imperfection, it brings the posturing, cruelty, and flightiness of being 18 to life, to the point that you almost want to look away. Yet it also captures the dreamlike ecstasy of those years, when so much is still unwritten. In kissing George, Yukari discovers an entirely new side of herself. For years, her life has been a stagnant grey, but Paradise Kiss and George drench everything in color. All this living comes with a price, of course, but it's one she might be willing to pay as she begins to discover on the studio stairs one temperamental afternoon.