Ranking the 12 amazing Stardew Valley marriage candidates

One of the many aspects plenty of us have come to love and cherish about Stardew Valley is in its diverse and appealing marriage candidates.

After sinking so many hours into my stay at Pelican Town, I’ve ended up romancing, marrying and divorcing the whole town instead of improving my farm. It’s been a worthwhile endeavour if I do say so myself.

And with a cast of potential lovers as strong as we have here, it’s clear why so many players’ preferences and personal rankings of Stardew Valley’s characters are always so different.

Here’s my personal take on the least appealing to the very best lovers in the Stardew Valley, and my suggestions as to who you should spend the majority of your time, income and foraging efforts on in order to woo. I’ll be looking into their character arcs during their heart events and their reasons for joining you on the farm to determine their ranking.

And maybe shallow reasons will shift a few candidates around – Elliott is just too damn pretty.

Spoilers for character arcs are discussed.

12. Maru

Stardew Valley

There has to be someone at the bottom of the list, and unfortunately it’s Maru. Maru is the adorable, brainy child of proud parents Robin and Demetrius. Her tenth heart event in Stardew Valley is one of the most entertaining ones, ending with her creation of a robot taking flight to be free.

Despite the fun creativity of such a moment, and the heartwarming stargazing scene just before in her eighth heart event, Maru’s storyline in Stardew Valley fails to show any real struggles or problems for her character to overcome. She’s perfect despite her youth, which prevents me from feeling anything more than being slightly impressed by her intelligence, creativity and ambition. She does not need little old me by her side!

Maru never falters on her creations, and most importantly, has no issues in her family unit — unlike her half-brother. This dynamic makes it all the more appealing to give Sebastian our attention over her. Maru is a terrific character, but with no growth or obstacles presented throughout her heart events — and with no reason to relocate to your farm, since she keeps herself busy working in the clinic and making more tech in her room — she takes my bottom spot.

11. Emily

Stardew Valley

Emily is the resident oddball of Stardew Valley, whose vibrant personality and exuberance is severely dampened by her having one of the least appealing, if not the worst storyline within the game. She’s talented with a flair for creating clothes; she has a kind heart, as she’s shown to save and keep an injured bird; and is endearingly oblivious to any kind of affection towards her.

You see, Clint has an obvious crush on the unassuming young lady, which is explored further in his own heart events. This one-sided affection deters me from ever pursuing and keeping Emily to myself — but the biggest detriment to Emily is her heart events being the most lacking and forgettable of the lot in Stardew Valley.

It is truly a shame when you’ve got a personality that awesome, but with no character growth or reason to indicate her being deserving enough to become a part of your farm, every other candidate feels much more appropriate to move onto your land. After all, Emily seems to love what she already does; why should we intervene?

10. Sam

Stardew Valley

Much like the likability of Emily, Sam has not got one bad bone in his body. He’s one of two bachelors in Stardew Valley who are instantly warm and welcoming to the farmer, making him stand out immediately as an endearing and approachable person.

His only downside is the fact his heart events aren’t all that interesting. While it is established that his father is away on duty, he’s hopeful in seeing him in the future, which does actually happen after reaching over an in-game year. His arc is most definitely lacking compared to others due to this reason, since his father missing out on spending time with his family is clearly the only major issue revolving around Sam, and this is explored and concluded outside of his heart events.

His heart events are overall very sweet and endearing, however, just as you would expect from his character. He seems to be quite a klutz and prone to causing accidents; we see him dropping an egg on his mother’s kitchen floor and hitting Emily and Haley’s flower pot while skating.

His eighth heart event is one of the most memorable, taking place outside of Pelican Town and featuring his band. Abigail on guitar, Sebastian on drums, and Sam on vocals showcase their musical flair in a genre of the player’s choosing. While it’s nothing too interesting, it does warm the heart and makes me love him even more as one of my favourite moments in the game.

9. Elliott

On initial view, Elliott had my full-on attention from the very beginning of Stardew Valley. He beats everyone else already mentioned simply due to his design; that lush, long head of hair deserves every single compliment it can get and I won’t care how ego filled Elliott may become hearing them!

It’s unfortunate that his heart events do not sustain the attention he deserves though, since he falls to the wayside because his storyline is quite bare-bones. While he also has adorable scenes exclusive to his heart events where he attempts to romance us, such as the cute boat trip out in the lake, there’s not much substance to his character or arc.

He hits a writers block on his book, and while it is sweet that our character inspires him to finish it, once married he carries on with his writing and would have no need to be on your farm. He’s got a lovely, cosy shack just outside the town, and his age indicates his independence well enough.

It does not change the fact that I want to keep him all to myself however, so I’m restraining my bias from affecting me too much here. It’s hard to resist when he has the most romantic dialogue once married though. Otome games have ruined me for life when I expect every line uttered from my 2D boyfriends to be as sappy as Elliott’s.

8. Leah

Stardew Valley

Coming just after Elliott is his canon romantic interest, Leah. She is of course on the older scale as a marriage candidate, and it’s evident in her demeanour, experience and confidence. But luckily her being so well put together is still challenged in her character arc. Yes, from here on out, we’ve got the interesting storylines that flesh out Stardew Valley’s 2D partners! Hooray!

She struggles in approaching her artistic work as her main source of income, and our player character helps her during her heart events. Beyond this, though, her heart events are not all that memorable. Sure, her confronting and standing up to her ex is incredibly gratifying and does show growth, but it’s one, if not her only defining feature in her arc.

She is also extremely independent, needing very little reason to relocate to your home and farm since she has her aspirations and wants all sorted out and is living her best life as is. What a woman.

7. Sebastian

Stardew Valley

Out of all the bachelors, Sebastian may very well be the most loved in the Stardew Valley fanbase. It’s no mystery as to why, from his eye-catching emo appearance and sympathetic yet driven character arc — and his heart events are some of the very best in the game overall.

While he is highly appreciated by players, the same cannot be said for his in-game family. His half-sister, Maru, is highly regarded by her parents and the other villagers, while Sebastian’s bedroom is located in the basement. This divide is even more evident when comparing the two siblings’ heart events: Sebastian is never seen with his family, unlike Maru, and his parents often speak well only of Maru.

Additionally, while Maru is the brainy inventor, Sebastian’s freelancer programming work goes unappreciated and misunderstood by others. But there’s a few catches to Sebastian that cause him to rank in the middle of the pack for me.

Stardew Valley’s bachelors and bachelorettes have a romantic interest in people other than the player character in Pelican Town. Never is this more evident than with Sebastian and Abigail.

I have mentioned this element before when covering my favourite Harvest Moon bachelors, and it being a factor in Stardew Valley deters me from intervening in a blossoming romance. Additionally, his treatment at home and in the valley has made it abundantly clear that he aims to leave for the City at some point; it feels counterproductive to have him settle down with the player character on the farm.

6. Alex

Stardew Valley

Alex is the typical “don’t judge a book by its cover” type of character in Stardew Valley, which I greatly appreciate for a guy who looks as handsome as he does; he has a surprising amount of depth and vulnerability.

Alex may be very welcoming to the player on initial meeting, but his bragging and overconfidence can be an understandable turn-off for many pursuers. But this self-defensive mask slips the closer you get to him. His aspirations and drive to become an athlete shows his dedication and hard working nature. It’s a very impressive trait, but the best is yet to come.

We see much more going on underneath this tough and sturdy exterior as early as his third heart event. He shares his vulnerabilities, whereby we learn of his abusive and alcoholic father, and his mother who passed away from illness shortly after his father walked out on them. This put him in the care of his grandfather and grandmother, Evelyn, who he especially dotes on.

Alex keeps a positive attitude despite his tough childhood, even if he stumbles along the way. One such case is in his fifth heart event where he is concerned for never having read a book, or doubting his ability to make it as a professional Gridball player. His emotional growth and vulnerabilities are explored with every heart event, with one even depicting him crying during his mother’s anniversary of her passing.

His journey of coming out of his shell and being comfortable enough to put his barriers down makes him an incredible character, but by marrying him it puts the brakes on his ambition of making it into the athletic world. I simply will not accept this.

5. Abigail

Stardew Valley

Abigail is yet another popular marriage candidate in Stardew Valley, and her appeal is understandable. Rocking an awesome dark punk aesthetic but with a charming, head-strong and energetic personality, Abigail is easy to gravitate towards and adore.

She’s got quite a rebellious storyline that really highlights her spunky attitude. It is established that Abigail wants to break out of the constraints of her family’s hold and explore outside of the valley. But the most we see of this adventurous side to her is exploring the mines with her during her heart events.

It is possible that she can start reaching her goal of independence by marrying the player character and relocating to live on your farm. But this does have a downside — the fact that she may very well fit better as Sebastian’s partner. If the player character upsets Abigail during married life, she can even mutter a line that indicates she may have been happier living with Sebastian instead. Ouch.

4. Haley

Stardew Valley

Haley may be a very surprising selection as the fourth spot in the Stardew Valley bachelor rankings, but her character growth should not be dismissed. She is one of the few villagers who is rude and dismissive towards the player as soon as they meet, and she does not warm up to us until the sixth heart event after locating a lost keepsake of hers. Much like Alex, this moment reveals a very emotional and relatable core to a character who could have been so easily intolerable.

In fact the slow development of bonding with Haley reinforces how natural the relationship with her is. She takes a while to open up and show her carefree spirit and attitude, making it an absolute surprise and joy to see be revealed. Her eighth heart event is extremely adorable as we see her fondness for capturing photos as keepsakes and her playfulness coming out as she laughs after getting her fashionable clothes in a mess and interacting with the farm animals. This actually indicates how suitable she would be on your farm!

She is very much a late bloomer, but by the time we get to here, she’s showing you that she is as beautiful on the inside as the outside.

3. Harvey

Stardew Valley

Harvey may surprise many for appearing so high on the list, or maybe not so much if you already know of my taste in older men. He’s got his life figured out, holding down a full-time job as Stardew Valley’s resident doctor, but at the same time shows a mighty appealing amount of realism and relatability in his vulnerabilities. He is very self-loathing and looks back on his past career aspiration of becoming a pilot, but these issues are confronted in his heart events.

He confronts not only his fear of heights by riding a hot air balloon — which happens to be one of the most romantic and sweet heart event moments in the game — but he also comes to terms with where he is in life and enjoys the moment. If there’s one caveat it is the fact that a few other marriageable candidates perhaps deserve a place on your farm much more. Harvey has his life sorted, and just deserves to know he’s a great bloke and he’s doing a good job in life.

2. Shane

Stardew Valley

Shane just misses out on the number one spot in the Stardew Valley rankings. Before marriage, he lives with his goddaughter, Jas, and aunt, Marnie, who rents out his bedroom to him. To pay for it and other expenses, he works as a stock clerk at JojaMart, leaving him feeling empty. To fill the void, he drinks frequently, and is evidently depressed. He speaks of how he feels like a failure, mentions how he hopes he will not live much longer, and even attempts suicide in his fifth and sixth heart events.

His turning point comes from this moment, as the following event shows Shane going to therapy, gifting Jas a present, Marnie mentioning he appears to be the happiest he has been in a while, and the fact he seems to have been improving his drinking habits. He’s even been breeding blue chickens as a way to give back to the world, and has been teaching Jas how to look after them.

This is undoubtedly the most impressive and heartwarming character growth of any marriage candidate in Stardew Valley, but this can unravel during married life. Depending on if Shane is having a good day or a bad day, he can revert back into his old habits — and it sometimes makes me question if he would have been happier and healthier improving himself first before marrying. He deserves to be happy no matter what after all!

1. Penny

Stardew Valley

Penny takes my number one spot without much debate and I’m sure most Stardew Valley fans will agree. She is a sweet, caring and patient person who feels so genuinely wholesome that she is a ray of sunshine just to be around. She has no aspiration or goal in life other than to marry and raise a family of her own, making her a perfect fit for marriage and moving in to help you on your farm. This is also ideal considering her hard and harsh living conditions with her mother, Pam.

Despite Pam’s problematic relationship with Penny, she remains sympathetic when it comes to others, such as by providing support to the older town resident of George in her second heart event, even when not asked to. Pam fails to appreciate Penny’s house cleaning efforts, and is unbothered by the messy and stuffy state of their home. Penny, meanwhile, works hard to provide for them both and make the house habitable, and never utters a word of complaint or condemnation towards Pam.

She is, thankfully, not perfect, as evident by her less than ideal cooking skills, and her honesty when it comes to struggling with teaching. And yet she puts her best foot forward no matter the situation, and is deserving of having a good and prosperous life due to her hard work and kind nature.

Do you agree on the ranking of the Stardew Valley lovelies, or are we agreeing to disagree? Let us know in the comments or via the usual social media channels!

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Lilia Hellal
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