Jun 8 2011 2:22pm

Chemistry 101: Top 10 Romantic Onscreen Moments

Westley and Buttercup in The Princess BrideI hate to admit it, but underneath this cynical, no-nonsense shell lies a sappy marshmallow core. This confession is going to put a serious dent in my street cred. Okay, maybe not. But just as I’m reluctant to let on that it bothers me to break a nail, I’d also rather not go public with the knowledge that I swoon a little when Westley comes back from the dead to rescue Buttercup from slimy Prince Humperdinck. I already have to contend with friends and loved ones thinking I’m overly emotional because of my Greek communication style (I’m not yelling—that’s just how we talk!)

Now that they know I get all mushy when things work out for Julia and Robbie in The Wedding Singer they’ll start asking me if I’m okay every time I witness an onscreen kiss. But for the sake of my fellow romantics I had to come out with it. How else could I share some of my favorite onscreen romantic moments? Just cut me some slack, okay? The sniffling really is because of allergies. Usually.

Buffy and Angel in Buffy the Vampire SlayerBuffy and Angel

The original (and arguably best) vampire-teen girl love story. These two had plenty of romantic moments, but the one that stands out for me is one of the earliest. Buffy has just found out that the mysterious Angel is actually a vampire. After a lot of sturm und drang she finally accepts that he’s one of the good guys, but as the Slayer she knows she has to quell her feelings for him. And then she finds him waiting for her at The Bronze. They both agree it can’t work between them, but they can’t resist a last, intense kiss. As Buffy finally walks away, Angel has a pained expression on his face. The camera slides over to him and we get to see the horrific burn on his sternum from the cross Buffy was wearing. Obviously during the kiss he didn’t notice or care about the pain—he was just lost in the moment. I’ll take Spike over Angel any day, but even I have to admit that Buffy and Angel have the lock on romance.

You can see a montage of Buffy and Angel moments here (the scene I just described comes in around the one-minute mark):

Or you can watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 1 episode 7 “Angel” (time 41:59).

Buffy and Spike in Buffy the Vampire SlayerBuffy and Spike

Just because Buffy and Angel have the big love story doesn’t mean Buffy and Spike don’t have their own romantic moments. Well, they’re mostly on Spike’s end, but that doesn’t stop them still being damn romantic. Like when he endures deadly trials to regain his soul for her. Or, the one that makes me melt every time, Spike’s reaction when Buffy sacrifices herself at the end of season 5. The scene is brief but beautiful and heart rending. Injured, he stumbles over to her body. As soon as he sees her he crumples to the ground looking stunned. A moment later he covers his face with his hands as he sobs. A soulless vampire weeping for a Slayer. If that’s not love I don’t know what is. See Spike’s reaction:

(from BtVS season 5 episode 22 “The Gift,” 43:50).


Amelie and Nino in AmelieAmelie and Nino

Amelie and Nino’s love is as odd (in the best way) and quirky as the movie Amelie itself, albeit in a rather un-North American fashion (for one thing, Nino works part-time in a sex shop). The movie is all about the circuitous path that real love takes, and when Amelie and Nino finally meet, having already fallen in love, the sweet culmination proves to have been worth the wait. The final scene gives us a glimpse of the kind of romance anyone would dream of, riding into the proverbial sunset together as they snuggle on Nino’s motorbike. In another movie this might have been sappy. In Amelie it’s perfect. If you don’t mind spoilers you can watch Amelie and Nino’s happily ever after:


Chuck and Ned in Pushing DaisiesChuck and Ned

Speaking of quirky and sweet, Pushing Daisies’ Chuck and Ned and their relationship personify these traits. Childhood sweethearts who get separated, only to be reunited years later when Chuck is murdered—you’d think that would have been the end of it. Luckily Ned can bring the dead back to life with a touch. Not so lucky is what happens if he ever touches her again: she dies permanently. Imagine not being able to touch the one you love. But the relationship is anything but bleak; in fact, the romance quotient is higher than usual amid all the romantic tension and the creative solutions they come up with. I love it when Chuck decides to throw caution to the wind and use a piece of plastic wrap (which may or may not protect her from instant death) to kiss Ned:


Clarence and Alabama in True RomanceAlabama and Clarence

True Romance is aptly named, although the relationship between call girl Alabama and geek Clarence is not exactly conventional (not that you were expecting otherwise at this point). Underlying the (at times brutal) violence and general nastiness (hey, it was written by Quentin Tarantino) is one of the most romantic love stories ever. No, really. These two could set an example for anyone when it comes to love conquering all. Even though Alabama starts as his paid date for the night (unbeknownst to Clarence) you can see the emotion she starts feeling for him. And it’s mutual—the way Clarence sits next to her holding her hand after they sleep together, and then when he tells her he’ll “fucking die” if she’s lying to him about how she feels when she later confesses all…you’d have to be made of stone not to moved by the two of them. You can see what I’m talking about here (fair warning: not safe for work or sensitive ears):


Sam and Annie in Life on Mars (U.S.)Annie and Sam

Life on Mars (the U.S. version) is one strange and compelling show, and actually got me thinking the 1970s weren’t completely horrible after all (Sam, a cop, is hit by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973). Although the mutual attraction between Sam and fellow cop Annie is evident from the beginning, the build-up over the course of the season is agonizingly slow as Sam holds back for a variety of reasons. When he finally accepts 1973 as home and stops Annie on the street to tell her she’s the reason for him being there, and then kisses her for the first time…well, this scene actually made me go “awww.” How embarrassing. Watch the clip (from season 1, episode 17, “Life Is a Rock”):


Sookie and Bill in True BloodSookie and Bill

By the end of True Blood’s third season I was rooting for Sookie to end up with Eric, but back at the beginning of the series I was a Bill girl all the way. And nothing said love to me like the look of relief on Bill’s face when he realizes that Sookie, who he’d sensed was being attacked, is all right. It wasn’t just that look, of course—it was the way he rushed to her as soon as he could, the panic in his voice as he tried to wake her, and then the softening of his eyes and slow smile as he realized she was fine. Now that is romance. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip, but you can find the scene in season 1, episode 6, “Cold Ground” (time: 24:44). 

Multi-Tasking Never Looked So CuteBo and Dyson

The chemistry between Lost Girl’s werewolf Dyson and succubus Bo is amazing from the start (I have to wonder if the actors have something going in real life), and you can see from this montage that they’re not short on romantic moments:

My personal favorite, though (and sadly not represented in the clip), comes in the season one finale when Dyson makes a deal with a powerful elder to give up what he prizes most (his wolf) in order to help Bo. He’d tried to make another offer with the same elder decades before but he’d decided at that time that the cost was too high. Now, however, he doesn’t even hesitate to make the sacrifice for the woman he loves above all else. Sigh.


Jack and Sally in The Nightmare Before ChristmasSally and Jack

Maybe it’s strange to find romance between an animated skeleton and a sentient rag doll but in The Nightmare Before Christmas, it somehow makes sense. Like so many men Jack is too wrapped up in his work to notice the quiet devotion of Sally, but in the end he figures out his priorities and finally realizes (in song!) that they’re simply meant to be:


Han and Leia in Star WarsLeia and Han

When people think of the Star Wars trilogy (and there are only three movies that count) the last thing they tend to think of is romance (although everyone seems to remember that incestuous kiss between Luke and Leia before they realized they were related). But creepy brother-sister moments aside, there was a great romance brewing all along between Han and Leia; one that wasn’t openly acknowledged until The Empire Strikes Back and Han’s imminent (and potentially fatal) freezing in carbonite. Even with a wookie bellowing you can’t deny the emotion as Han and Leia kiss, followed by one of the best romantic lines ever, Han’s response to Leia’s “I love you”: “I know.” Watch it here:

And lest we think Leia is the only one expressing her feelings, the lines are echoed and transposed in Return of the Jedi:

The scoundrel and the space princess show the rest of us how it’s done.


Aspasia Bissas is the author of three blogs, including the all-vampire Blood Lines; was featured in Truly, Madly Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion; and is currently working on a vampire novel of her own. Although she’s occasionally been known to read minds, she has yet to solve any mysteries. Follow her on Twitter @bloodandpoppies.

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Myretta Robens
1. Myretta
I would include the boathouse scene from Merchant Ivory's Maurice. It's not your standard romance fare, but the emotion is authentic, the connection tender, and the scene sizzles.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
I think I need to check out Lost Girl... Dyson/Bo seem to have a lot in common with my favorite couples (namely that they're surely doomed, heh).
3. brontëgirl
Also cf. the garden proposal scene in the '83 BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre, and particularly this scene in the BBC's adaptation of The Barretts of Wimpole Street, starring Jeremy Brett as Robert Browning and Jane Lapotaire as Elizabeth Barrett: ELIZABETH. Suppose I were to -- to die on your hands? BROWNING (softly, after slight pause). Are you afraid, Ba? ELIZABETH (proudly, indignantly). Afraid? I? You know that I am not afraid! You know that I would sooner die with you beside me than live a hundred lives without you . . . . But--but how would you feel if I were to die like that? And what would the world say of you? BROWNING (quietly). I should be branded as little better than a murderer. And what I should feel I--I leave you to imagine. ELIZABETH. And yet you ask me to come with you? BROWNING. Yes. I am prepared to risk your life--and much more than mine--to get you out of this dreadful house into the sunshine, and to have you for my wife. ELIZABETH. You love me like that? BROWNING. I love you like that. Unfortunately, the Brett/Lapotaire adaptation of isn't on dvd yet, as far as I know; I looked at my copy of the play for the lines. I hope that adaptation is on dvd some day!
4. brontëgirl
Sorry about everything in the previous comment being squished into one paragraph! I can't figure out how to go back and edit it.
5. JillSlattery
Love this! I would also have to add in when Pacey bought Joey a wall. Totally swoonworthy on all levels. ;-)
Louise Partain
6. Louise321
Well, I think I have a lot of watching to do. Doomed love! Ah me!
Marie Choi
7. MarieC
I love this list! I recognize most of the scenes (I'll have to rent the others!), but I can't believe Richard Armitage/Daniela Denby-Ashe's in North and South was left out... I just thought of another; Francis O'Conner/Johnny Lee Miller in Mansfield Park ...*sigh*
Rakisha Kearns-White
8. BrooklynShoeBabe
@JillSlattery, the romantic chemistry that had me swoon the most was at the antiprom where Pacey is dancing with Joey and he tells her the story of when she found the bracelet she's wearing. Astonished, Joey says "You remember that?" and Pacey whispers "I remember anything." OMG, I almost fell off the couch. About once or twice a year, I rewatch that scene on YouTube.

Also, I though Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker had tons of romantic chemistry in the movie "Someone Like You." There's a scene where after making love, Sanna's character tells Simon's character all about her childhood. While relaying his sympathy to her, you can just real the sincerity and how much he cares for her by the way touches--little things like twirling her hair or stroking her cheek. Sigh, I love that movie.
9. Aspasia
I love everyone's comments and suggestions! I've got to say making a list of only ten romantic scenes was no easy task ;) My only guidelines were to choose "offbeat" movies/shows so that's why some that may have been more obvious were omitted. But this was truly a fun post to put together. Keep those suggestions coming...
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