Jack and Ianto
In a Doctor Who Magazine interview, Barrowman described Jack's love for Ianto as "lustful", and explained "I don't think he'd settle down with Ianto. He might do, but he'd let Ianto know that he [Jack] has to play around on the side". The Torchwood Series Two premiere sees Jack ask Ianto out on a date, after finding out Gwen is engaged. John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd opined in an interview at Comic-Con to fan questions that Jack's relationship with Ianto has however brought out Jack's empathy, and helped to ground him. John Barrowman said in an interview that Ianto "brings out the "human" in [Jack]" and "brings out more ... empathy because he’s actually fallen for someone and he really cares about somebody ... [which] makes him warm to other people ... [and] makes him more approachable." In the same interview, Gareth David-Lloyd said of the relationship and his character that "I think Ianto’s always made him care and that is really the heart of the show." However, Stephen James Walker feels that Jack's relationship with Ianto is one-sided; Ianto seems to feel the relationship is "serious and committed", but while dancing with Gwen in "Something Borrowed", Walker believes that Jack appears to equate his relationship with Ianto to nothing more than a "recreational activity", and considers it "obvious Jack only has eyes and thoughts for Gwen". The novel The House that Jack Built includes a scene where Ianto confides in Gwen that he knows that to Jack he is "just a shag", though discloses that the relationship means more to him. In the same novel, however, he also refers to himself in front of Jack as his "boyfriend". When Ianto expounds these same insecurities to Jack in the radio play "The Dead Line" (just prior to Children of Earth), however, Jack insists "You will never be just a blip in time, Ianto Jones."
Just as Jack and Ianto's relationship is developing, Ianto dies, in Children of Earth (2009). While some fans felt "cheated" at not seeing the relationship develop further, Davies explains his intention was to heighten the tragedy by it also being a loss of potential, stating "You grieve over everything they could have been. Everything you hoped for them." For dramatic purposes within the story, Davies explains that Ianto's death was necessary so that Jack would be damaged enough to sacrifice his own grandson. Gareth David-Lloyd feels that the lack of resolution for the love story is "part of the tragedy". Lynnette Porter feels that Ianto's demise is intended as a watershed moment where Jack loses his effectiveness as a hero. At least for a time, a grieving Jack loses his focus and gives up; within a few months, Jack flees Earth and his role as the expected hero. Some fans were displeased by Ianto's death scene and the end of the relationship, and some even accused one the writers of "deliberately egging on the shippers'". Subsequent to Ianto's death, in The End of Time (2010), the Doctor sets up Jack with a new romantic interest, Alonso Frame (Tovey). Fans of Ianto, who felt cheated by the character's death, disliked this development. GayNZ.com compared the situation to Buffy fans' reaction to Willow's relationship with Kennedy (Iyari Limon) in Buffy's seventh season, following Tara's death in the show's sixth.