Rumors and scandals have surrounded the breakup of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart since before the beginning of this year. But it was only in January 2019 that the world really learned the truth about their relationship – at least, as far as the pop culture universe is concerned.

A Year Of Unfinished Business

Pattinson and Stewart had their on-and-off again romance for the better part of a year before their breakup in January 2020. But their on-again relationship had more off-agains than on-and-fills, and it was far from being a fairytale.

The ‘Twilight’ stars had a tumultuous year of their own making. Both admitted to cheating on the other. They also broke up and got back together a number of times, with a ‘reconciliation’ even happening toward the end of 2019. And, depending on who you’re talking to, either Pattinson or Stewart is said to have initiated the breakup. So it was, in a way, an unfinished business situation all along.

The Most Iconic Movie Of The Decade

Let’s be honest – the decade of the 2010s was essentially made for ‘Twilight.’ Hollywood was hit with a rash of paranormal covens and werewolf attacks, and it made for incredible box office. The series became the highest grossing of all time, pulling in nearly $12 billion at the box office worldwide. It spawned several successful sequels (including a prequel series that is set to premiere in 2021) and a Broadway play. And it all began with these two quirky yet beautiful characters: Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Although the series is set in the present day, the two lead characters are very much a product of their times, living and loving as though the world were still 1999 and the Millennial generation were just coming into their own as consumers.

The movie adaptation of ‘Twilight’ is, in fact, the highest grossing of all time, having made over $350 million in the U.S alone (as of October 2019). It also holds the record for the biggest Valentine’s Day weekend in history, pulling in $132 million over the 4-day holiday in 2018.

A Love Like Never Before

While ‘Twilight’ was becoming a global phenomenon, the behind-the-scenes drama was just as interesting as the on-screen excitement. The tabloids soon got ahold of the story, and it wasn’t long before fans and gossipers were involved. Stewart later revealed that she had, in fact, cheated on Pattinson with director Niall MacLeman while promoting the movie. Their affair began several years before and was supposedly still going on during the making of ‘Twilight.’

But it wasn’t just Stewart. Several of her ‘Twilight’ costars have been accused of sexual assault and/or harassment, including Nicholas Hoult, Wyatt Russell, and, most famously, Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. The latter is, in fact, one of the characters promoted and endorsed by the famous Republican family in the movie. While this scandal won’t have a direct impact on the Twilight universe, it will certainly cast a shadow over Stewart’s public image. For her part, Stewart has since spoken out against these men and said that she would not be afraid to work with them again, despite the alleged incident.

A Break That Could’ve Been Worse

If the year 2020 was worse for ‘Twilight’ fans than the year 2019, then it was worse for Pattinson and Stewart themselves. In January, the ‘On the Road’ star was forced to deny a rape allegation made by a former girlfriend. The allegation, which was initially made in a 2015 handwritten letter, claimed that Pattinson raped her when they were both under the influence of alcohol. He eventually pleaded not guilty to the charge. In May, Stewart was accused of hitting and kicking her boyfriend, the musician Drake, throughout their intimate encounter. Although the two eventually reconciled, the incident shed a negative light on their already troubled relationship. In December, it was reported that Stewart had cheated on Drake with her ‘BFF’ (best friend forever) Hailey Baldwin. For his part, Pattinson has been open about his struggles with addiction. The allegations against him were eventually dropped. And in January 2021, it was reported that Stewart had cheated on Baldwin with her assistant, Stephen Campbell. That same year, she was also accused of being overly sympathetic to her co-star, Emilia Clarke, during a feud between the two actresses. Stewart denied the allegations, and Campbell was later exonerated.

But it wasn’t just Stewart’s personal life that got complicated in 2020. The year was also filled with drama for the Twilight franchise. In August, it was reported that ‘Twilight’ director Chris Weitz, who had previously worked with Stewart on ‘Varsity Blues’ and ‘Campbell’, had been accused of sexual misconduct and harassing several of his female co-workers. In October, it was revealed that Stewart had been offered a leading role in Weitz’s next project but had turned it down. In order to protect herself and her fellow actresses, she reportedly demanded higher pay than expected for the part.

The Final Twilight Chapter

In the end, it was all rather sad. In August, Stewart announced that she and Pattinson had called it quits. “After spending far too long in the spotlight, it’s time for us to leave. We’ve really enjoyed this time apart and look forward to spending more time with our families, friends, and dogs,” the 37-year-old actress said in a statement. “After breaking up with Robert last year, I learned a lot about myself and about love. I feel completely confident that this is the right decision for me and that my path forward will lead me to happiness. I love you, Robert.”

Pattinson, for his part, wasn’t having it. He had long suspected that Stewart was playing him for a chump and had even expressed his discomfort with her public displays of affection towards other men. Last year, he issued a statement decrying the ‘vanity’ and ‘insecurity’ that had come to define Stewart’s behavior and had slammed her for “taking advantage” of him. He went on to say: “Ultimately it was always going to come down to one thing: Is she cheating on me? Because that’s what this is all about. That’s what it’s always been about. From the moment that I first laid eyes on her, I have never seen her look at another man the way she looks at me. She’ll always choose me.” The backlash from Stewart’s decision was swift and brutal. Many ‘Twilight’ fans accused Pattinson of being a coward, while others – mostly older women – bashed Stewart for being “uppity.” The actress, for her part, took to Instagram to defend herself and to slam her ex for being a “silly boy” who “has always been very immature.”

What made all of this particularly sad is that, for as complicated and messy as their relationship was, it almost certainly had the potential to be so much more. They were, in fact, perfect for one another. Stewart is, by all accounts, a brilliant actress who is also, as her critics have pointed out, incredibly ambitious. She has, throughout her career, demonstrated a knack for knowing just what audiences want and need, whether it’s playing a young Jane Austen or a sexually frustrated woman. And, unlike so many of her peers, Stewart has remained loyal to her actors ever since her debut in the 1994 TV movie ‘The Magistrate.’ She has often credited them for helping her to find her voice as an actress and for pushing her to be the best possible version of herself.

Pattinson, for his part, is an extremely talented artist who also happens to be the son of a famous Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Taylor. He was reportedly upset that Stewart had turned down his offer to star in Weitz’s project, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. He began creating concept art for ‘Twilight,’ including the most iconic images of Bella Swan’s transformation into a vampire and of Edward Cullen’s descent into a state of semi-waking sleep. The behind-the-scenes artwork is, in fact, considered by many to be some of the most intricate and breathtaking pieces of movie magic ever accomplished. One could argue that, without these visual aids, ‘Twilight’ might never had gone public.