She turned back, lightly tapping the brim of his white fedora with the edges of the envelopes. “I can’t see your eyes with that hat’s shadow falling over them,” she complained. “You always did have very nice eyes.” With that and a last smile she turned away, sashaying very deliberately up the hill.
---from The Macabre Mansion, chapter one
One of the most surprising, and dare I say amusing, factors of the series is that none of the main characters appear to be in a romantic relationship with anyone. In a world so seemingly obsessed with romance, this seems quite a unique thing. Of course, Perry and Della have their lovely scenes together, and it’s clear that they care about each other deeply, but even for them it’s never canonically established that they’re in a relationship.
Personally, I feel it’s better that way. It changes shows so much whenever long-time characters pair off, and usually for the worse. Perry and Della’s interaction is quite perfect as it is. Let the shipper fans imagine things going further if they wish, but don’t inflict it on everyone by making it canon.
Hamilton Burger and Lieutenant Tragg only rarely appear to have any inclination towards romance. In season 1’s The Baited Hook, Tragg shows interest in asking a woman on a date. This is a bit of a surprise. If any of the main cast were to be already married, I would most suspect him. But the scene in The Baited Hook convinces me that he is single, at least by the time of the series. It is of course possible that Tragg was married prior to the series and his wife either died or they were divorced.
To my knowledge, the only time Hamilton is ever seen on any semblance of a date is in season 9’s The Golfer’s Gambit. At the country club, he is shown dancing with a woman. They later observe part of the fight between Hamilton’s acquaintance Chick and another man. But it is most unclear whether Hamilton actually brought the woman to the club for a date or if they just met there by accident and did not know each other. I kind of think they were on a real date, however. This entire scene is silent on their parts; we don’t even know what the woman sounds like. And Hamilton never speaks of romance throughout the series, that I’m aware of.
There is at least one woman who is regularly in Hamilton’s life. But Mignon Germaine, from my favorite episode The Fatal Fetish, appears to be a close friend and nothing else. In Hamilton's words, they “have been good friends for a long time.” I never picked up on any hint that there was or had been a romance between them; neither seemed interested in such a thing.
We don’t even really know who Hamilton’s secretary is, to determine what his relationship might be with that person. There is an older Miss Miller in an early episode, but she might be a stenographer. In The Fatal Fetish there is an unseen girl whom Hamilton speaks with over his intercom, but she might be a receptionist. In many episodes Hamilton speaks with someone named Leon. This person seems the most likely candidate to be his secretary. He could be an assistant, but whenever Hamilton is in court a different person is with him. Hence, I don’t think he relies on any one assistant more than another. It’s more likely that Leon is a secretary.
In any case, I would really prefer that Hamilton not have any romantic relations with anyone who works for him. That would just be paralleling Perry and Della too much. One suspected office romance is enough for the series.
Paul is the ladies’ man. Even a show like Perry Mason felt it needed one, and it does add spice and amusing comments to many episodes. Paul often shows interest in various women passing through the cases. Occasionally he is depicted on dates, which usually seem to get interrupted by assignments from Perry. He certainly doesn’t have a steady girl, but I wouldn’t think it of him. He doesn’t seem ready to settle down, although when Perry described a girl he was looking for Paul quipped, “I’ve been looking for one like that for years.” Perhaps, if Paul found that right one, he would indeed settle down.
(I will refrain from even venturing into the territory of the television movies, where it not only is obvious that Paul settled down, but that he died. Too, too depressing. Those movies are not out-and-out canon as far as I’m concerned, but instead just one possibility of the future. I prefer to picture the characters on the original television series, largely unchanged, still having their adventures now as they had then.)
While Paul appears to actively be looking, the other main men seem to be quite content to stay bachelors. When Della makes remarks that sound as though she may want things to get more serious between herself and Perry, Perry worms his way out of it. Once he comments that Della is asking a leading question!
Andy’s feelings on staying single versus getting married are uncertain, although he oogles a pretty girl along with Paul in The Golden Oranges. And for Lieutenant Drumm, I doubt the subject was ever broached.
Of course, it was common for the characters in early crime shows to be devoted to their work and for that to be their life. However, even shows such as Dragnet had characters who were married, and they would sometimes talk about it even if the wives were never seen. Perry doesn’t even feature that. And that says to me that either these guys really like the single life . . . or Erle Stanley Gardner just didn’t want them bogged down with anything else. And either or both could very well be true.
I myself have no intention of straying from the show’s formula on that point. Perry and Della will continue their very close and deep friendship in my stories, and the readers are free to imagine that they’re romantically involved if they wish. Paul will continue to be a ladies’ man and will probably occasionally crush on various girls. Tragg is unmarried, but while I kind of think he probably was married at one time I don’t believe I’ll venture into an explanation of what happened. (Of course, that could change as time goes on. I do have a vague idea that I might expound on if I write a Christmas story.) And Hamilton will not be romantically attached to anyone. He may occasionally take a girl out, as he likely did in The Golfer’s Gambit, but I will likely not depict it, as I prefer to keep the focus on the mystery and the friendships.
The quote I chose to place at the beginning of this entry is in reference to my own character Vivalene, who appears at some point in stories for every one of my major fandoms. Here she is making her Perry Mason debut. As always, she is a criminal. In the story, Hamilton hopes to get her arrested and convicted. She flirts with him, despite the fact that he prosecuted her three years before. He means nothing to her, and since he knows that as well as what she is, he is unmoved by her attempt to soften him.