Actors Whose Divorces & Breakups Affected Storylines

Everyone has their favorite on-screen romance, whether it's the "will they or won't they" of Jack and Diane, the missed timing of Jim and Pam, or the pure love of Leslie and Ben. But what if the actors playing those characters were also together in real life? Sometimes, the best TV couples are ruined by real life drama. 

While you may want your favorite TV romance to make the leap from fiction to reality, oftentimes it ends in heartbreak for everyone involved. Also, it can lead to massive changes within the show. Sometimes, actors' divorces and breakups can become a part of the storyline. These 15 off-screen relationships with on-screen co-stars led to some major changes in their TV shows.

  • Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter - Dexter

    Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter - Dexter
    Photo: Genevieve / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    In one of the most famous (and most scandalous) on-set romances, soon after meeting on the set of the TV show Dexter, Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter fell in love and eloped. They stayed together through Hall's treatment for lymphoma, but later divorced after just two years together.

    After the split, it was revealed that after a false cancer diagnosis, Hall had multiple affairs, which led to the divorce. Throughout all this, the actors had to play siblings that had their own brief (and weird) dalliance.

  • Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco - The Big Bang Theory

    Big Bang Theory leads Galecki and Cuoco were involved in a secret romance for two years, while their characters were engaging in an on-again, off-again fling of their own. According to Galecki, their real-life relationship was kept secret because of the strain of their on-screen one.

    This eventually led to their breakup on and off the show - though their characters would later get married.

  • Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush - One Tree Hill

    Like their characters on the show One Tree Hill, Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush could not stay together for the long haul. After meeting on the show and getting married soon after, Murray and Bush divorced two years later.

    Unfortunately for all of the fans of the supposedly perfect high school couple, this divorce contributed to Murray leaving the show after just three seasons.

  • Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner - Alias

    Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner - Alias
    Photo: flickr / CC0
    Alias co-stars Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner got together while playing love interests on the show, but their fling eventually ended. Recently, after her split with husband Ben Affleck, Garner and Vartan were rumored to be back together again.
  • Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson - The O.C.

    Teen heartthrobs Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson seemed to demonstrate chemistry when they met on set of The O.C., but neither their on-screen nor real-life relationships would work out. Later, Bilson would say dating her on-screen beau would cause stress on and off the set, and said the relationship wound up being "invasive."
  • Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes - Dawson's Creek

    Kaite Holmes and Joshua Jackson met on the set of the teen drama Dawson's Creek, and soon fell in love. Shortly thereafter, their characters got together on the show, but it was not until after they split in real life.

    Holmes would later say: "I guess if Pacey [Jackson's character] and Joey [Holmes's character] dated the first season, there would be more of a clear indication of what's going on between us. But it's just so far from that."