There’s no story quite like a love story. We all want to find that special someone, and we all know how hard it can be to make that happen, and also how long it can take. But when it does happen, and when both sides realize they’re in love, it’s truly magical.
However, while the ultimate sensation is that warm and fuzzy feeling, there is so much about love that makes us laugh. The things we do to make someone like us, and the situations we get in hoping to make that connection, can be anywhere from cringe-worthy to downright hilarious.
It’s no wonder, then, that Hollywood has been pumping out romantic comedies since the early days of film, and is likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. These real-life love stories are relatable, funny, and often beautiful, and everyone loves them.
But among romantic comedies, some stand out, and among those, there are specific scenes that remain frozen in our collective memories.
If you need some help remembering these iconic scenes, here are 18 of the best.
While any love story can capture our hearts, there’s something about young love that stands out. Maybe it’s the innocence, or maybe it’s the enthusiasm, or the stupidity, or the nostalgia, or a combination of it all, but there’s something special about watching two people find the love of their life and embrace it early on in life.
In Say Anything, a 1999 film starring John Cusak and Ione Skye, this classic tale is brought to life.
The story itself is fairly straightforward. Cusak plays an underachiever, Lloyd Dobler, and Skye plays the class valedictorian, Diane Court.
After going to the end-of-the-year party together, the two slowly fall in love. However, Court’s father strongly discourages his daughter from pursuing the relationship as she thinks Cusak’s Dobler is a slacker who is not worthy of her love.
Unsure of herself, Court listens to her father and calls off the relationship. But Dobler is undeterred. He parks himself outside Court’s bedroom window at dawn, with a boombox up over his head, which is playing In Your Eyes, the Peter Gabriel song that was playing the first time the couple became intimate.
It’s cheesy as heck, but it will still tug at anyone’s heartstrings, and it was also enough to make Court realize she didn’t care what her father thought.
To this day, this scene is parodied and repeated, and even those who have never seen the film know this iconic moment.
Written by Nora Ephron, perhaps the queen of romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. It’s a tale of the serendipitous nature of love, and also plays on the idea that we are fated to be with the one we love.
The story begins when Harry and Sally graduate from the University of Chicago, as friends, and share the drive to New York City where they both plan to continue living.
After the ride, in which they have their famous, “can men and women really just be friends” debate, they part ways on bad terms after Sally accuses Harry of making a move on her; at the time, Harry was dating Sally’s friend.
The rest of the movie takes place over the course of ten years and centers around the chance encounters between the two. They meet on an airplane, in the hallway of their apartment buildings, and in several other places.
In reality, there are many iconic scenes from this movie. But the one that really stands out is Harry’s speech to Sally on New Year’s Eve. He explains “it had to be you,” telling her that he always loved her but had just never realized it, a classic theme in love stories. The scene is a tear-jerking end to a fun-loving film that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.
A slightly underrated romantic comedy — at least as far as we’re concerned — Hitch is a fun and somewhat poignant portrait of modern dating.
In the film, Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) makes his living as a “dating consultant.” As he describes it, he helps people get out of their own way so that they can find love. Aware of the many games people play in modern dating, his goal is to help people win over those who have won their hearts.
When we tune in, we see him try to help Albert Brenneman (Kevin James), a regular guy with all sorts of anxieties, win over Alexa Cole, a fictitious celebrity. In the meantime, Hitchens meets Sarah Melas, a gossip reporter (Eva Mendes), and she sets out to expose him and how he makes a living.
The entire movie will have you laughing and cringing. But towards the end, when Hitchens and Melas realize they have genuine feelings for each other, the cast goes through a series of epiphanies that reveal how messed up and confusing love can really be.
Another cheesy one, for sure. But that’s kind of the point. And after you watch this one once, you’ll want to watch it over and over again.
While it contains one of the most iconic scenes from romantic comedies, The Graduate, starring Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman, could also be considered one of the most iconic films of all time.
Released in 1967, it was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards. It didn’t win either, but few romantic comedies receive this type of attention.
The film’s plot follows Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate who returns home to Pasadena, California without any real idea of what he is going to do. At his graduation party, all of his parents’ friends are keen to give him advice and guidance, but he’s not interested.
Later, another family friend, Mrs. Robinson, seduces him and the two have an affair.
After some time, Braddock realizes he is in love with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, and he tries to win her over. This love triangle gets quite messy, as you might imagine, with Braddock having to tell Elaine that he’d had an affair with his mother.
The iconic scene comes towards the end, when Braddock barges into Elaine’s wedding, which was forced upon her by her father, banging on the glass and shouting “Elaine! Elaine! Elaine!”
It’s a moment that speaks, once again, to the messiness of love, but also to its madness, as well as the uncertainty it can produce. In other words, it’s nearly perfect.
Considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time, Bridget Jones’s Diary, which was based on a book of the same name that was also based on Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, reminds us of just how timeless love stories are.
The main character, Jones (Renee Zelwegger), is a 32-year-old woman working at a publishing company and slightly obsessed with her boss. She keeps a journal that documents her views on life, and that helps make her one of the funny, most-relatable rom-com characters in all of film.
After being introduced to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and finding him repulsive, Jones begins seeing her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). However, throughout the film, she continually runs into Darcy, until the two eventually realize they have feelings for each other. They resist and resist, but eventually have no choice but to accept that they’re in love.
Their first kiss, which comes in the snow, and is accompanied by the famous line “Nice boys don’t kiss like that,” is one of the most well-known in history and has helped make this movie as beloved as it is.
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t think of a sports movie as having one of the most iconic rom-com scenes. But the lines uttered towards the end of Jerry Maguire have gone down as some of the most famous in all of film history.
Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renee Zelwegger, the movie follows the story of Maguire (Cruise), a sports agent who gets fired from his firm for wanting to take a more personal approach to representing athletes. He decides to start his own agency, but only one of his clients, Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr.) joins him, and only his secretary, Dorothy Boyd (Zelwegger) decides to go along to help.
Needing to secure a big contract for Tidwell in order to keep his agency afloat, Maguire watches his client’s season with bated breath. But as he moves forward with his career, his engagement falls apart and he realizes his feelings for Boyd. Then when things go well for Bidwell, he rides that high to confess his feelings for Boyd, who tells him to “shut up” because “you had me at hello.”
These words, and this scene, have gone down in rom-com history as some of the most iconic.
Although the lot of this movie is rooted in sadness, it’s this very premise that allows it to remind us that love conquers all and can always be found.
Another Nora Ephron classic, the film follows Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) and his son Jonah as they move to Seattle after the death of Sam’s wife, Maggie. After nearly a year of grieving, Sam goes on a nationally-syndicated radio show and talks about how much he misses his wife. Hundreds of women call in to share their sympathy, and one, Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) writes him a letter, in which she suggests Sam meet her at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
Sam doesn’t think much of this gesture and begins dating someone else. But his son Jonah begins hatching a plan to get Annie and Sam together.
The final scene of the movie takes place on, you guessed it, the top of the Empire State Building, and will melt any heart. It’s one of the few romantic comedies that can pull off delaying the meeting between the two leads until the very end, and this feature is part of what makes this scene so special.
Nothing says “I love you” quite like serenading someone in front of a large group of people, which is exactly what Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) does to Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) in Ten Things I Hate About You.
His rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” which he sings with the help of the school marching band, stands out as one of the more iconic scenes from a romantic comedy, mostly because of the pretense, and also because of Ledger’s hair.
In the movie, Verona is only pursuing Stratford because Cameron James (Jason Gordon-Levitt) pays him to, which he does so that he can date Kat’s sister, Bianca (Larisa Olenyik).
This is a somewhat dishonest move, but Verona winds up falling for Kat throughout the film, a nice reminder that love is often found when we least expect it.
The film is a modern rendition of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, but it’s a classic in its own right that is defined by one of the most iconic scenes in romantic movie history.
One of the most iconic scenes from a romantic comedy comes from one of Hollywood’s most iconic actresses: Audrey Hepburn. Her character, the high-society cafe girl Holly Golightly, is living in an apartment in New York and scheming to marry someone rich. Along the way, she meets Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a struggling writer who lives in her building and who hasn’t had anything published in years.
They become friends, sharing details about their lives with one another, but not going so far as to admit they have romantic feelings for one another.
The iconic scene comes towards the end of the movie after Holly is released from a night in jail (there’s a subplot here in which Holly is connected with several mobsters) and is reunited with Paul. They embrace while the song “Moon River” plays, which was written for the film and went on to win a Grammy.
On its own, the scene is iconic. But the look that Hepburn gives Peppard has also gone down as one of the most romantic glances in Hollywood history.
Featuring the dynamic duo of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, The Wedding Singer is one of the most well-known romantic comedies of all time, in large part because of the iconic song scene. But it’s also a powerful reminder that we should seek people who love us for who we are and not who we might one day become.
The film's two main characters, Robbie Hart (Sandler) and Glenn Gulia (Barrymore) work at the same wedding reception hall in Ridgefield, New Jersey, Hart as a wedding singer and Gulia as a waitress. At the beginning of the movie, both are engaged. But to the wrong people. Hart is set to marry a woman who fell in love with him when it looked like he might become a rockstar, and Hart is marrying a man mainly for his money.
Throughout the film, both relationships fall apart, and the two realize they have feelings for each other.
Eventually, on an airplane and as the result of pure coincidence, Hart begins singing a song that is for Gulia, though she doesn’t realize it at first. But when she does, your heart melts. It’s the perfect romantic cap to a movie defined by fantastic chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore, as well as all the laughs you would expect from such a duo.
Released in 2003, Love Actually is a film inspired by the tragedy of 9/11. But instead of focusing on the sadness that this event produced, the movie tells us many different love stories from all different kinds of people, reminding us this is the reason we live.
One of the most famous scenes, and the one that stands nearly equal with any other romantic comedy scene, comes from Mark (Andrew Lincoln), Juliet (Kiera Knightenly), and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) storyline. In short, Juliet is married to Peter, but neither is happy. Mark is Peter’s best friend and was the best man at their wedding, but he’s in love with Juliet.
Knowing that confessing his feelings would cause problems, he sneaks up to Juliet’s house at night and displays large cue cards telling her how he feels, showing her an unconditional love missing from her marriage.
While we can question if this is the “right” thing to do, it’s a powerful scene that reminds us how love is rarely if ever neat and organized but that it’s also the most powerful force we know.
A 1999 film starring Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, and Molly Shannon, Never Been Kissed is a fun portrayal of the long, winding journeys we often take to find love.
As a 25-year-old who's never been in a real relationship, Jose Geller (Barrymore) is working for the Chicago Sun-Times when she gets sent to a suburban high school to cover a story. She goes undercover as a student and eventually falls in love with one of her teachers. Along the way, she gets caught up in all the drama you would expect from being a teenager in high school.
Eventually, she publishes her story and uses it to confess her love for her teacher, telling him she’ll wait for him to come kiss her on the baseball field. You can guess what happens, and their encounter has turned into one of the most well-known scenes of any romantic comedy.
Adapted from the Nicholas Sparks bestseller of the same name, The Notebook is both a heartwarming romantic comedy and a heartbreaking romantic tragedy, something rather indicative of love itself.
The film is set in a nursing home in which a man named Duke is reading the love story of two people, Allie and Noah, from his notebook to a fellow patient. The story is a passionate love story, filled with all the gush you might imagine. We won’t ruin the ending, but the iconic scene pulls on a classic model: an intense kiss in the rain.
Unfortunately, the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from this scene does not last long. But it just makes this scene all that much more powerful.
Most guys dream of falling in love with a famous movie star. But few ever dream that one will walk into their store and fall in love with them. However, that’s exactly the plot of Notting Hill, another Hugh Grant rom-com from the 1990s that keeps entertaining to this day.
In the film, William Thacker (Grant) owns a bookstore in the Notting Hill district of London. One day, Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), a famous Hollywood star, walks in, tying their fates together forever. But instead of Thacker being the one to fall for the movie star, it’s the other way around. Throughout the film, Scott tries to win Thacker’s affection, which she does But when she leaves to return to the United States, he is left hurt and alone.
Once she returns, she tries to reignite the relationship, walking into his store and delivering the now-famous, “I’m just a girl” speech, which has been repeated and parodied countless times throughout pop culture history.
It’s a classic Grant/Roberts moment, and one of the most iconic rom-com scenes of all time.
A somewhat untraditional romantic comedy and film in general, 500 Days of Summer tells the story of a relationship gone wrong. It follows Tom Hansen and his romance with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). Interestingly, the story begins at the end of their relationship and tells how it went through a non-linear flashback that details the ups and downs of their romance.
In the end, Tom finds the love he seeks, though not quite in the way you might expect.
The scene that stands out from this movie and that has become one of the more iconic in the world of romantic comedies is when they go to Ikea. Before they go, Tom talks about how all couple fights start at Ikea. But when they go, they have a wonderful time testing out furniture and pretending their domestic life.
It’s so cute it hurts, and it speaks perfectly to some of those ideal moments we all covet in new relationships. Not to mention the premise is hysterical.
Richard Geer and Julia Roberts have to be in the conversation as one of the most iconic couples in movie history, which is why it should come as no surprise that they made one of the most well-known scenes in the history of romantic comedies. The scene in question is known as “The Fire Escape” and comes towards the end of Pretty Women.
In the movie, Richard Geer plays Edward Lewis, a New York businessman on a trip to Los Angeles. While there, he meets Vivian Ward when he accidentally ends up in Los Angeles’ red-light district. That’s right...Ward is a prostitute.
He winds up paying her to pretend to be his girlfriend, but the two end up hitting it off for real.
The crowning scene, in which Edwards, who has a strong fear of heights, climbs up the fire escape to kiss Ward and declare his feelings for her, is tantamount to the ending of a fairy tale and is far and away one of the most well-known rom-com scenes of all time.
Another movie that mixes sports and romance, though, in a much less direct way than some of the other films on this list, Silver Linings Playbook is an intense film that flip flops between serious and hilarious moments.
The plot of this movie focuses on Pat Solitano Jr (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence). After spending eight months in a mental health treatment facility for his violent outbursts caused by bipolar disorder, Pat returns to his childhood home. His ex-wife has filed a restraining order on him because of his violence, and while at home, Pat remains unstable.
Eventually, he meets Maxwell, who also struggles with her mental health, and the two connect. They begin training for a dance competition together, and eventually, Pat’s dad, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) places a bet on him and also the Philadelphia Eagles to try and win money back that he lost that he hopes to someday use to open his now-closed restaurant.
The iconic scene comes when Maxwell and Pat finally admit their feelings for one another, and it comes after a fair amount of drama that shows just how perfect they are for each other. In other words, it’s the final twist of an already thrilling roller coaster.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan return with their romantic magic in You’ve Got Mail, a 1999 classic that was the third film featuring this famous duo.
The premise of the movie is that Kathleen Kelley, the owner of a small bookstore, (Ryan), and Joe Fox, an executive at a large bookstore chain, begin talking online after meeting in an over-30s chat room. They exchange long emails and enjoy talking with one another, but they have no idea of each other’s true identities.
In real life, the two meet but are at odds. Fox wants to open a new branch of his stories right near where Kelley has hers, which will almost assuredly put her out of business. The two seem to be adversaries, but there is also obvious chemistry.
The iconic scene comes when the two finally figure out who their online admirer is, and it’s a reminder of just how weird love can be. Sometimes someone who seems to be your complete opposite is who you were looking for all along.
Romantic comedies are all about love. But they are also there to make you laugh. The many iconic scenes that have contributed to this genre have become some of the most well-known in the history of film. And while new movies come out all the time, you can be sure that these scenes, and movies, will remain relevant for many, many more years to come.