The girl next door is a popular archetype, but not that frequently used in television. The girl next door often grew up in the neighborhood and she’s usually a very sweet, wholesome girl. She’s all-American and so unassuming that it sometimes takes a while for an attraction to avail itself. She’s not interested in social status, and in the end, she becomes the favored choice over the likes of the flashy, provocative, or overly sexualized love interest.
Here are television’s all-time best Girls Next Doors.
10. Maggie Wilks, How I Met Your Mother — Maggie was only in one episode of HIMYM, but she was specifically described as the Girl Next Door. The problem with Maggie, however, is that she was always in a long-term relationship, and there was only a brief window in between relationships with which Ted could exploit. Ted was too late, and Maggie found her future husband before Ted could climb in that window.
9. Lana Lang, Smallville — Lang very much began this way on Smallville, as the sweet, unassuming woman with whom Clark Kent would develop an attraction, but eventually, Lang grew out of that role, Clark got over his fascination with her, and Lana transformed out of the trope.
8. Julie Taylor, Friday Night Lights — The interesting thing about Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen is that they fit practically the same archetype. He’s as much a boy next door as she is a girl next door, which not only made them perfect for each other, but kind of made each other their only options. What? Julie is gonna end up with Riggins? I don’t think so.
7. Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Willow was to Xander a girl next door, although she, too, would grow out of it, when Willow and Xander realize (after Willow moves on to Oz and then Tara) that they were meant to be platonic life partners.
6. Amy Pond, Doctor Who — Amy was the girl next door to Rory, with whom she grew up with. They were childhood friends, and Amy was often Rory’s only friend, until that eventually blossomed into something greater. Of course, then Rory went back to the beginning of time and waited thousands of years to find Amy again. That is love, man. EPIC love.
5. Joey Potter, Dawson’s Creek — Joey’s girl next door status actually kept her from ending up with Dawson, because her love for him was always going to be tied up in the innocent, idealization of their childhood. She’d always be the girl next door to Dawson, but to Pacey she was something else, more real and less idealized.
4. Pam Beasley, The Office — Though she doesn’t exactly live next door to Jim, Pam Beasley is otherwise the epitome of unassuming and cute, wholesome, friendly, and down-to-Earth.
3. Donna Pinciotti, That 70’s Show — Another literal girl-next-door, Donna is somewhat less unassuming and more argumentative than most that fit this character trope, but she and Eric eventually fulfill the formula most typically associated with the archetype. They end up together.
2. Topanga Matthews, Boy Meets World — Straight up, in every sense of the archetype, except that she’s only unassuming in the context of the series (and not in reality).
1. Winnie Cooper, The Wonder Years — Winnie Cooper, to an entire generation of men, fits the same idealized romantic vision of a perfect woman that Lloyd Dobler represents to an entire generation of women: She is the ultimate classic girl next door, although that Maxim photoshoot a few years ago kind of ruined the illusion of unassuming.