Sometimes, in the world of fiction, the best man or woman doesn’t win. There’s no happily ever after, no riding off into the sunset – so, just like real life, then! But never fear, these losers have given us some of the all-time great characters and moments of books and movies. There’s an old saying that goes, ‘It’s better to have loved and lost…’ Really?
1. Vicar of Dibley
As Yvonne Fair sang, ‘It should have been me’
See Dawn French, as vicar Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley, sing the loser classic…
2. Severus Snape and Lily Evans in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
‘After all this time?’ Dumbledore
Magically gifted, beautiful and compassionate, Lily Potter, nee Evans, chose Hogwart’s smart-arse James, instead of the grungy, darkly disturbed Snape – who was, nevertheless, her very best friend. Even death couldn’t stop Snape loving Lily.
3. Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights
‘I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind!’ Catherine
Cathy’s the only person who violent, moody Heathcliff truly loves but he fails to understand how deeply Catherine loves him – that she sees him as an extension of her very soul. She marries sickly wuss Edgar Linton.
4. Newland Archer and Countess Ellen Olenska in The Age of Innocence
‘Don’t you see? I can’t love you unless I give you up.’ Ellen.
This is a tale of 19th-century New York high society in which lawyer Newland falls in love with glamorous Ellen – scandalously separated from her husband – while he’s engaged to innocent May, Ellen’s cousin. Newland plans to leave May for the love of his life Ellen, but May does the old ‘pregnancy’ number and, ultimately honourable, Newland marries her.
5. Julianne and Michael in My Best Friend’s Wedding
‘This is my one chance at happiness. I have to be ruthless!’ Julianne
When Julianne’s (Julia Roberts) long-time straight BFF Michael (Dermot Mulroney) reveals he’s engaged, she realises she loves him herself and sets out to make him hers, with the reluctant help of her gay BFF (Rupert Everett) – with only days before the wedding. Best-ever comedy rendition of I Say A Little Prayer
6. Charles and Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral
‘The truth is, I have met the right person, and he’s not in love with me, and until I stop loving him, no one else really has a chance.’ Fiona
The cool, witty, well-dressed Fiona can only watch as the love of her life is embroiled in one romance after another. Fiona (Kristin Scott-Thomas) has adored shambolic Charles (Hugh Grant) FOREVER. And while Charlie considers her one of his best pals, he’s totally unaware of her feelings for him… being totally head-over-heels with US model Carrie.
7. Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund in Casablanca
‘If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.’ Rick
Set during the Second World War, this is the story of American expat nightclub owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart), who must choose between his love for his former squeeze Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and helping her now-husband, Resistance leader Victor escape German occupied Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.