OTP Tracker

6 Ways The Killing’s Linden and Holder Prove They’re Soulmates

Reinvestigating Why The Killing Is Must-See TV for Romantic Suspense Fans

Relationship: Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder
Fandom: The Killing (TV Series, 2011-2014)
Where to Watch: Hulu
Time Investment: 44 (hour-long) episodes
Recommended for: Police procedural and true crime junkies who appreciate a good love story; Linden/Holder may remind you of Mulder/Scully, Chenford, Phryne/Jack, and/or Benson/Stabler

In Real Life, I have little doubt The Killing‘s Seattle homicide detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) would be very bad bad for each other indeed. Over the course of the serialized murder-mystery show’s four seasons, the partners grow so close as to be codependent, enabling each other’s cigarette and junk food addictions, trusting no one but the other, and more.

In TV Land, however, I am totally into the idea of a Linden/Holder romance. I’d even go so far as to say that they’re soulmates who were MFEO, and here’s why:

#1: They call each other out on their bullshit.

Holder’s probably the only person aside from Sarah’s social worker and friend Regi to ever confront her directly about, among other things, her habit of running away as soon as things start to get too comfortable.

“It’s like a pattern with you, you know that? You’re always leaving, running, never stay. ‘Cause if you did? Then you’d want it, you’d need it. And then you could get hurt. And left. Or not left.”

In return, Linden shakes Holder none-too-kindly out of his fog of self-pity when he relapses into drug use. She also refuses to let him feel responsible for his confidential informant Bullet’s death.

At the end of the day, this tough love is the best way they know how to show each other they care and are there for support.

#2: Holder is fantastic with Linden’s son.

No one matters more to Linden than her son, despite some poor decisions on her part, and from the first, Holder and Jack click. Jack even goes to Holder a couple times when he can’t get through to Sarah and needs help. There’s no better indication that Jack trusts, respects, and just plain likes his mom’s partner. A kid’s blessing goes a long way toward endorsing a relationship.

#3: That height difference.

Just look at them. Yin and yang, am I right?

#4: They’re both married to the job.

Two of Sarah’s relationships—with psychiatrist Rick and ferry co-worker Cody—implode in the course of the series. And even before we learn of Stephen and Caroline’s divorce in the last minutes of the series, we can plainly see that relationship is doomed too. Neither Sarah nor Stephen does a good job maintaining a healthy work/life balance, partly because they don’t truly want to. They love solving cases more than anything else in the world, and that’s tough, if not impossible, for partners and spouses to accept. When Sarah and Stephen are together, though, they’re doing what they love most in the world, with the person they trust and respect most in the world. Who’s to say that’s not happiness?

#5: Linden’s only ever stayed for Holder.

As we learn from Regi and later from Linden herself, Linden ran away from every foster home she ever lived in. She never felt she belonged anywhere as a kid. It’s why, even as an adult, Linden uses the Rosie Larsen case as a reason she can’t move with Rick to California as planned. Working the Pied Piper case in Season 3 helps her realize she was only pretending to be happy working at the ferry dock with Cody like a “normal” person. She takes off again after closing the military school case, but when she comes back, Holder asks her to stay. Linden resists and prepares to head out again, but then something unusual happens—she comes back.

Linden realizes in the last episode that Holder is “the one person who always stays.” She has finally found someone she trusts enough to be vulnerable with, someone she doesn’t have to hide parts of herself from, someone she doesn’t feel she’ll have to leave before he leaves her.

#6: Their jagged edges fit together perfectly.

Linden and Holder are two incredibly damaged people who spend the series working hard to find some semblance of peace and happiness in a world of murder and betrayal. Turns out, they find it together.


Did you ship Linden and Holder together? Were you content with how The Killing concluded, with a “happy for now” for the detectives? Do you think they’d make a good couple, at least in fiction?


P.S. Don’t blame me if these lovely fan vids make you want to rewatch the show (again).

This article has been updated and revised since its original publication on September 27, 2015, at HeroesandHeartbreakers.com.

Jonesing for another addictive partners-to-lovers story? Allow me to recommend the Ellery Hathaway romantic suspense book series by Joanna Schaffhausen. You won’t be able to get enough of Ellery and Reed.


  1. Great article. I totally saw them together but Linden kept me guessing until the end. I was really happy to see it turn out that she came back, I don’t know what their lives would look like together, and Linden will always have her fears, but there’s an incredible sequel in there somewhere.

    1. Thank you so much! Wonderful to hear from a fellow fan. I agree, I was nervous about how their story would end, because I thought Holder was perfect for Linden but that she may never been in a place to see that & reciprocate. I really loved how the show left it, with her returning to him but not telling us exactly what happened to them next. Lets us imagine whatever we want. 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: