You’re Not Fooling Anyone: Book Bromances That Should Totally Just be Romances

Ever read a book and wonder why the main characters who are best of friends aren’t just dating each other? Sometimes, if they’re lucky, they will fall in love by the end of the story. However, in many cases, friendship doesn’t always lead to love; which is why we simply call it a bromance. However, let’s step outside of the heterosexual box and take a look at a few literary friendships that, let’s face it, would totally work better as just plain romances.

Here, Matt and Katie from the BookTrib staff pick their top three bromances they pretty much consider a relationship:

Matt’s Top 3:

Frodo and Sam: The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein (Mariner Books, 2005)

frodo-sam
New Line Cinema

Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are a couple of stand-up dudes, all they want to do is chill out, eat and throw the occasional party. But like many great heroes, these two the ones we’d least expect to go out and save the land. The Shirelings set out to destroy an evil ring with the power to destroy Middle-Earth. Why would they have made such a great couple? Their trip to Mordor takes them over a year and they go through every struggle imaginable. Goblins, trolls, dragons, giant spiders, they’ve been through it. Many couples can’t stand each other when they go to the beach for a weekend. But Frodo and Sam are committed to their mission and to each other –- shouldn’t that be what every couple aspires to?

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza: Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (Harper Perennial, 2005)

don-quixote-sancho-panza
Illustration by Gustave Doré

Have you ever run into a couple where one partner is always bailing on the other? You scratch your head, perplexed, asking why they even stay together. They’ve either been on the receiving end of that 3 a.m. call or were the one calling their significant other moaning, “I really messed up this time…” But for some reason we stick by that couple. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are one of the original odd couples. Quixote reads so many knight’s tales and chivalric romances that he loses his mind and sets out on a quest to restore justice to the world. Tagging along on his imaginary journey is farmer Sancho Panza, who really is just there to deal with Quixote’s antics. At one point the delusional Don thinks windmills are giants. That’d send me running for the hills. But he stays by his friend’s side despite his insanity. I’m not saying that’s a perfect couple or even a healthy couple, but I admire the loyalty.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (Dover Thrift Editions, 1998)

huck-finn-tom-saywer
The Adventures of Huck Finn

You might think I’m ruining this but hear me out. I understand Tom and Huck are young, male children when they meet, but that shouldn’t matter. Tom and Huck’s romance would be totally innocent like any childhood ‘romance.’ I remember my first ‘girlfriend’ in first grade, which lasted an eternal two weeks and ended after she took my juice box for the last time. These guys are two peas in a pod. Huck is the adventurous wilding with Tom as his partner, who already has a streak of mischief. In some alternate universe, I could totally see these guys growing up and being the coolest couple, telling the neighborhood kids about all their childhood adventures like running away from Injun Joe and traversing the Mississippi River.

Katie’s Top 3:

Sherlock and Watson: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Bantam Classics, 1986)

sherlock-watson
BBC One

While recent television and film adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective twosome have fanned the fires of fanfiction, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have some serious bromance-romance tension. First of all, Sherlock and Watson were roommates for just about 17 years. Sherlock makes it clear numerous times that he has nothing but disdain for women (with one notable exception), and while Watson does eventually get married, he moves back in with Sherlock (spoiler alert!) after his wife’s untimely demise. They make a great team, with Sherlock taking care of the mysteries and Watson taking care of Sherlock, and their dialogue sometimes reads like they’re an old married couple because, essentially, that’s exactly what they are.

Ishmael and Queequeg: Moby-Dick, Herman Melville (Wordsworth Editions, 1999)

ishmael-queequeg-2011
STARZ ENCORE

Ishmael and Queequeg from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick are quietly the most adorable and/or homoerotic bromance in literary history. I mean, their literal first meeting is in bed together, where they smoke from a pipe and then decide to become inseparable best friends. When it comes to this story, everyone is always Ahab, Ahab, Ahab, but the beautiful relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg is my favorite part of this nautical tale. Plus, Moby-Dick is already rife with quite homoerotic language, so it’s not too far of a hop, skip and jump to get to the conclusion that Ishmael and Queequeg are one of the most charming couples in book history.

Sansa Stark and Margaery Tyrell: A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin (Bantam, 2003)

Sansa-Stark-Margaery-Tyrell
HBO

Another literary couple that’s plucked right out of the deepest annals of fanfiction is the relationship between Sansa Stark and Margaery Tyrell from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. While they get along better in the HBO show Game of Thrones than they really do in the books, emotionally traumatized teen Sansa looks up to Margaery, the only person for almost three books who treats her with unconditional compassion. In a world as cold and mean as Westeros, girlfriends gotta stick together, and there’s certainly some light romantic tension there.

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