Buffy and Willow looking confused

There are countless stories of couples who met on the set of a movie or television show and fell in love, duos who went on to pursue decades of collaboration together, and on-screen friends who became besties in real life. When you play a certain character day in and day out, the lines between roles and real life can become blurred. And when you work for years on a piece of art together, it can create a pretty unique bond.

But in some cases, the lines between reality and fiction — and between two people — only become more starkly defined. Often, the camaraderie and chemistry between two characters ends when the director calls "cut," and sometimes, it even swings to the opposite extreme off-camera. As it turns out, the actors who portrayed some of TV’s most beloved friends, to the dismay of fans, actually despised each other.

If anything, though, the real-life tension between these pairs, who not only had to perform together but act like they truly liked and trusted each other, created a proving ground that testified to their acting ability.

Ethel and Lucy didn’t always have a ‘ball’

Lucy and Ethel look confused

The landmark sitcom from the 1950s, "I Love Lucy" starred Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance as best friends and co-conspirators Lucy and Ethel, respectively. However, the two actors had a fair amount of animosity between them, even though they were supposed to play besties on the show. This tension started the moment that Vance walked onto the set.

There was an unspoken rule in "old-school" television that no one should compete with the leading lady in terms of looks. Ethel’s character was supposed to be slightly older, with a more middle-aged vibe, and Ball was devastated to see that Vance was young and attractive instead — so much so that she wanted the new girl fired!

Over time, however, Vance really began to embody her character, and her acting skill won Ball over professionally — just as her friendship eventually won her over in real life. Their rivalry ended up turning into an actual bond, but their relationship was quite rocky at the start.

Rose McGowan wasn’t exactly charmed by Alyssa Milano

Paige and Phoebe talking

On the 1998 supernatural drama "Charmed," Phoebe and Paige were played by Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan. Unfortunately, the two had a "toxic AF" relationship, as McGowan later revealed in a Twitter feud in 2020. She accused Milano of creating a hostile environment on set with "appalling behavior on the daily," and McGowan even went so far as to say she "cried every time [the show] got renewed" because of how difficult her experience was with her co-star.

On the show, Paige and Phoebe have their fair share of differences, but at the end of the day, they save each other’s lives and have each other’s backs as true friends and sisters would. But on Twitter, the pair really laid into each other. What started as a dispute about politics escalated into McGowan taking on Milano for everything from being a fraud and co-opting McGowan’s "Cultural Reset" movement to her salary on "Charmed."

Allegedly, despite what McGowan saw as a high salary, Milano threw a fit on set, saying that she wasn’t paid "enough to do this s***!" And McGowan’s opposition to Milano’s behavior is just one of a few tense relationships that Milano was involved in on the show.

The doctor is in(furiated)

Dr. Preston Burke listening

Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey, who played Dr. Preston Burke and Dr. Derek Shepherd, apparently had a huge fight on the set of "Grey’s Anatomy." The tension between the two never really quite dissipated between them, even years later, if Twitter rants are any indication.

On the show, their characters grew to be friends and found their personal lives intertwining on countless occasions, most notably because of the friendship between Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), each of whom, at one time, dated Dr. Burke and Dr. Shepherd, respectively. In fact, Shepherd even performed surgery on Burke’s gunshot wound. (It left Burke’s hand with a tremor, but this slight blow to his confidence allowed Shepherd to grow as a surgeon.)

Apparently, though, Isaiah Washington’s hand was in fine shape when he grabbed Dempsey’s shirt on set during a violent 2006 confrontation over a co-worker who showed up late to set. During the fight, multiple onlookers reported that Washington also shouted a homophobic slur at his fellow actor.

Taking to Twitter in 2020, Washington appeared not to have gotten over the conflict, even over a decade later. This time, he directed his rage at another co-star, Katherine Heigl, who, in response to Washington’s use of the slur and subsequent denial, once said that he should "just not speak in public, period."

These close TV friends were actually light-years apart

Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine together

In 1995, the fifth series in the "Star Trek" franchise hit American TVs, becoming a success for seven seasons — especially in the realm of gender-balanced casting and the representation of strong female characters. Two of those characters ended up becoming extremely close on "Star Trek: Voyager" — Seven of Nine, played by Jeri Ryan, and Captain Kathryn Janeway, portrayed by Kate Mulgrew.

Seven of Nine arrived on the scene as a foil to Captain Janeway, much as Spock was to Captain Kirk in the original series. From the beginning, their relationship was meant to be a close one in which the two characters played off each other. As the series progressed, the two became confidantes and friends.

In real life, however, the tensions that arose from the arrival of newcomer Ryan in Season 4 incited a tumultuous relationship between the two stars. With the addition of Ryan, the ratings went through the roof, painfully leaving Mulgrew in the (star)dust, according to executive producer Rick Berman. Speaking with Woman’s World, he recalled someone from the press literally pushing past Mulgrew to get to Ryan.

It hurt, and it resulted in an antagonism that persisted through the end of the show. At one point, citing complaints about Seven’s notorious skintight costume (which was another element that drew attention from Janeway in favor of the newcomer), Mulgrew tried to prohibit Ryan from going to the bathroom during work hours, saying it took her too long to get out of the costume. Yikes.

Spock irked, then shirked Kirk

Spock and Captain Kirk talking

In the original "Star Trek" series, William Shatner, known to fans as the famous Captain Kirk, apparently had some significant beef with Leonard Nimoy, who played his character foil and first officer, Spock. This was allegedly because Nimoy got more fan letters, despite his intended status as a secondary character to Kirk. The Enterprise captain was supposed to be the obvious protagonist and fan favorite, but audiences developed a keen affinity for the pointy-eared science officer. Of course, much of this claim comes from George Takei, who played Sulu and had an even bigger beef with Shatner (who says this fan mail story is made-up).

But even if the conflict over fan letters wasn’t part of it, Nimoy and Shatner started off on tense terms, clashing often in the beginning of their professional career in part because Nimoy was so singularly focused on making the most of his moment. Though Shatner went on to describe Nimoy as perhaps his only true friend, this relationship ended shortly before Nimoy’s life did. The man who played Spock suddenly cut Shatner out of his life without explanation, and he died before he or Shatner could make amends.

All that glitters is not gold

Dorothy and Rose fight

Things aren’t always as golden as they may seem, and all of the characters on "Golden Girls" weren’t as chummy in real life as they may have appeared on TV. This was particularly true of Bea Arthur and Betty White, who portrayed Dorothy and Rose, respectively. It was a distaste primarily on Arthur’s part that stemmed from her views on White’s work ethic (she loved to chat with the audience between scenes versus remaining stoic and focused), as well as her attitude.

The actress who played the cynical Dorothy was a bit cynical of White’s persona in real life. According to those who’ve worked with her, White is a pleasant, sunshine-y soul, and that made her pretty popular. Arthur, however, was convinced that her upbeat attitude was all an act. "Sometimes if I was happy, she’d be furious," White recalled in an HLN interview.

While Arthur apparently wouldn’t "give Betty the time of day," White, true to her established image, has mostly kind words to say about her former co-star. "You didn’t mess with Bea!" she remarked. "Bea was very strong. But you loved her." Even, apparently, if she didn’t love you.

Things got catty on the set of Sam & Cat

Sam and Cat together

Though it seemed like a match made in heaven, the friendship between Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande on "Sam & Cat" (where they each played a titular character) had a lot more ups and downs than the relationship between the two on TV screens. Rife with rumors of conflict from the start, on issues ranging from pay to personality, the show only lasted one season despite attracting a large initial audience.

Following the cancelation of the show after a lengthy production hiatus, McCurdy not only left the production but Nickelodeon itself. She notably skipped an appearance at the 2014 Kids’ Choice Awards alongside Grande. And when Grande posted an emotional farewell letter to the cast and crew, it was shocking when she didn’t mention McCurdy at all.

Ultimately, the issue that McCurdy took was more with the production and her pay than with Grande herself — though she revealed to E! News that they would "butt heads" on set. But according to McCurdy (Grande hasn’t commented publicly), these squabbles were more sisterly than anything else. Still, combined with disputes between McCurdy and the showrunners, the extra tension didn’t make for a winning formula.

Anger Management could’ve used some

Charlie and Dr. Wales talk

In "Anger Management," Charlie Sheen and Selma Blair played great friends (occasionally with benefits) Charlie Goodson and Dr. Kate Wales. But off-screen, it was quite a different story. Their tense relationship ended with Blair getting fired from the show … via text message. Yep. It’s widely agreed that it’s inappropriate to deliver bad news or break up via text but firing someone? That’s a whole different ball game.

Leading up to the unceremonious ousting was quite a lot of anger. It started when Blair voiced concerns to series executives about Sheen’s work ethic. The notoriously volatile star was quite unhappy to see these remarks leaked to the press, giving a decisive ultimatum to the producers: They had to choose between him and Blair.

Of course, as an executive producer and star of the show, it was obvious that Sheen wasn’t going to get fired. Blair was supposed to have a pretty significant role on the show too, but obviously nothing that could compete with Sheen’s role — or his anger. Not only did he tell her via text that her days on "Anger Management" were over, he sprinkled in a few tasteless four-letter words to boot.

Worst of both worlds

Miley and Lilly together

The relationship between Emily Osment and Miley Cyrus (Lilly and Miley/Hannah on "Hannah Montana," respectively) started out strong, in what Cyrus described as a sisterly bond. In fact, on the screen, they played adoptive sisters, and there are plenty of photos of them palling around off-screen as well. By all accounts, they were as close off-camera as they were on the show.

However, in reality, the relationship between Osment and Cyrus was something of a roller coaster, as we saw more clearly when Miley published her autobiography, "Miles to Go," in 2009, a mere year after the comments describing Osment as a sister. In the book, Cyrus reflected on how unfortunate it was that the two of them "used to be friends" but couldn’t get along the way their characters did on set.

Years later, it seems the roller coaster hit another peak, as the two caught up with each other virtually during the pandemic and reminisced about their friendship. They’re certainly not as close as they once were, but hey, things aren’t quite as contentious either.

A battle of wills without much grace

Karen and Grace angry

Grace and Karen are close friends on "Will and Grace," but the actors who portray them, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally, were apparently anything but. While the last few episodes were filming in 2019, Mullally missed two episodes, reportedly due to on-set tension. Mullally later opened up on her husband Nick Offerman’s podcast about the fact that she was being "bullied" at work. Were the two incidents connected?

Well, the description of the "bullying" situation aligns suspiciously with the alleged feud between herself and Messing — one involving a "work situation" in which she stood up for herself and made things "a thousand times worse." She also noted that it was an ongoing and current situation in January 2020, and "Will & Grace" was her only regular engagement at that time.

Mullally also ditched a cast interview with Messing in 2020, ahead of the series finale. Her leave of absence from the show suspiciously coincided with her unfollowing both Messing and fellow "Will and Grace" actor Sean Hayes on social media, the latter of whom Mullally has always publicly gotten along well with.

On Offerman’s podcast, she hinted at the drama behind this choice and her minimal interaction with the cast. "I’m pretty much on my own," she revealed, explaining that the alleged bully had recruited many of her former allies to their side, leaving Mullally without the supports she once had.

These two were anything but gleeful

Rachel and Santana glaring

Like the on-again, off-again friends they portrayed on "Glee," Naya Rivera and Lea Michele had a bit of a rocky relationship. Rivera played Cheerios cheerleading captain and Glee Club member Santana Lopez, while Michele appeared in the role of the ambitious and talented Glee Club captain Rachel Berry.

On the show, Rachel and Santana began as bitter rivals. But over multiple periods of tension and reconciliation, they developed a reputation for their on-and-off friendship, with the two living together in New York City and demonstrating genuine care for one another.

Things couldn’t have been further from the truth in real life. In 2014, a fight on the set resulted in one of them getting thrown off set or storming out, according to varying reports. Either way, Rivera’s character ended up being written out of the "Glee" finale. Later, she revealed that their relationship got so bad that they didn’t speak for the whole of Season 6. Their personalities, she said, were "not a good mixture." However, after Rivera’s tragic death, Michele paid tribute to her co-star by posting a photo of her to Instagram, alongside a pic of her late partner and fellow "Glee" co-star Cory Monteith.

The X-friends

Mulder and Scully look shocked

The names "Mulder and Scully" are synonymous with the idea of an iconic duo, but by the time "The X-Files" finished airing, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny reportedly couldn’t stand the sight of each other. While Duchovny initially had positive things to say about his co-star, the relationship deteriorated over the course of a series of public comments by the two actors.

At one point, Duchovny admitted that not only did he and Anderson not socialize regularly, but sometimes the attitude on set amounted to, as he put it, "I’d rather be anywhere else but here, and I’m going to make you suffer for it!" That’s a pretty dismal revelation, and it wasn’t the only one. After the show ended, Duchovny confirmed to Metro that the two were sick of each other by the time the series ended, saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt."

The two actors had an undeniable spark from the start, but sometimes a spark can turn into a difficult-to-control fire. Anderson described long periods of their intense relationship in which the two refused to speak to each other, and often when they were speaking, Duchovny revealed, the two would just "argue about nothing."

Working on Castle was a royal pain

Kate Beckett and Richard Castle smiling

Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) were great friends and star-crossed lovers on ABC’s "Castle," but in real life, the conflict between them grew so tense that eventually Katic left the show — a show where their characters actually got married in the sixth season!

It must’ve been a nightmare to work so closely together while harboring such animosity, particularly for Stana Katic. Allegedly, she would go into her dressing room and cry when filming was done because of nastiness from Fillion. For multiple seasons leading up to Katic’s departure and the show’s subsequent cancelation, the actors reportedly "despised" each other and didn’t speak to each other outside of filming.

According to Us Weekly, the actors actually had to go to couples counseling together at the behest of the show — despite the fact that they were the furthest thing from a couple, unlike their characters. Apparently, though, it wasn’t enough to save Katic’s spot on the series, and she was subjected to a "harsh" exit without, according to her, any insight into the thought process behind her expulsion.

Vampire slayers and secret-sayers

Buffy and Willow together

Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan), best friends and Slayer-sidekick combo on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," reportedly had a lot of tension between them off-camera, especially in 2003 when Gellar supposedly shocked her co-stars by announcing she was leaving the series. Comments made by Hannigan over the years have only served to exacerbate things. Seriously, if there wasn’t an issue before, Hannigan’s interview on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" sure changed all that.

It started with a question about who was the most annoyed to be on the show by the time it reached its end. Without a second thought, Hannigan responded, "Sarah." When the crowd began to murmur in response, the "How I Met Your Mother" actress quickly added that she had a big career going and the stunt-heavy "Buffy" series was a lot of work.

As if that wasn’t enough, in another segment, Hannigan said that Gellar lost her patience for the show long before it even ended. When asked by which specific season the show’s star grew to hate (yes, hate) doing "Buffy," Hannigan said Season 3. So it looks like rumors of behind-the-scenes tension were true after all … and went further back than anyone knew.