Great movie romances have swept audiences away since the dawn of cinema. Nothing quite captures a moviegoer’s heart like an enthralling love affair, and a few scenes across film history have left indelible marks on the genre. From Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, this is our list of the most influential romance movie scenes of all time.
“You Complete Me” – Jerry Maguire (1996)
Few movies in the history of film have had so many lines of dialogue embed themselves into the culture as Jerry Maguire.
This romance movie stars Tom Cruise as the titular character, a sports agent at the top of his game who spirals into an identity crisis after the child of one of his injured clients blames him for what happened.
Jerry writes a manifesto, a new vision of balance and compassion for his agency. It gets him fired. The only woman to go with him on his new mission is a secretary and single mother, played by Renee Zellweger. The two fall in love and get married, but even still, Jerry struggles to commit.
His wife eventually tells him to go be free, but he returns in a triumph of love, passionately delivering to his wife the iconic words, “You complete me.”
The line completes Jerry Maguire’s arc as a character and offers a satisfying conclusion to this classic romance movie.
“I’ll Never Let Go” – Titanic (1997)
James Cameron’s Titanic was a mega-hit for several reasons. Not only was it a nerve-shredding survival adventure, it was a sweeping romance movie.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star as Jack and Rose, a poor boy and a wealthy debutante who spark a forbidden romance aboard the maiden voyage of the Titanic. When the boat sinks, they fight with all they have to stay together.
They escape the wreckage, but Jack freezes to death in the water as Rose clutches his hand from aboard a piece of debris. When a rescue boat comes by, she has to let Jack go. She kisses his hand and tells Jack she will never let go of him in her heart.
The moment never let go of audiences, and the iconic scene remains one of the greatest in a romance movie to this day.
The Rain Kiss – The Notebook (2004)
Movie kisses are a dime a dozen, but some are truly memorable. The rain kiss in The Notebook was good enough to be the film’s poster.
The Notebook chronicles the roller-coaster romance of Allie and Noah, brought to life in this indispensable romance movie by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Just before her wedding, Allie goes to visit Noah years after their romance fizzled.
She believes that he never wrote her after she moved away, but Noah tells her he wrote her every day for a year. He then embraces her in a passionate kiss underneath a downpour of rain.
It is a tense scene that finally pays off a kiss the audience is dying for, and it is one of the very best in a romance movie.
The Dancing Scene – Dirty Dancing (1987)
Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
The climactic dance in Dirty Dancing is a classic moment, and a perfect cap to a romance movie that helped define an entire decade of the genre. It tells the story of Baby, played by Jennifer Gray, a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious dancer, played by Patrick Swayze, during her summer at the Catskills.
Their romance is thwarted by Baby’s parents, but Swayze makes a grand gesture when he interrupts the summer’s talent show to do his dance with Baby. The couple have the time of their lives as they perform the dance and win the hearts of the crowd and the audience.
Dirty Dancing contends for the best romance movie of the 1980s, and this scene goes down as one of the most influential in the genre’s history.
“I’ll Have What She’s Having” – When Harry Met Sally (1989)
When Harry met Sally, neither had any idea what kind of journey they were in for. Written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, this romance movie asks whether or not men and women can really be friends without sex getting in the way. The answer is… complicated.
When Harry Met Sally stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. It is a romance movie filled to the brim with charm and iconic performances, but no scene quite matches the cultural influence of Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the middle of a restaurant.
If reading that makes you blush, wait until you see the scene. Meg Ryan owns this hilarious and bold moment, and the whole thing is punctuated by a line from an extra played Rob Reiner’s mother Estelle: “I’ll have what she’s having.”
The Boombox – Say Anything… (1989)
You can tell how influential a movie scene is by how often it gets copied, and the boombox scene from Say Anything is perhaps one of the referenced and emulated moments in all of movies.
Say Anything regales the romance of Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court, a lovable but average teen played by John Cusack, and a prim valedictorian played by Ione Skye. The unlikely pair fall in love the summer before Diane goes to college, but pressure from her father and impending future tear them apart.
In Lloyd’s quest to win her back, he holds a boombox over his head outside Diane’s window to get her attention. Eventually, his efforts pay off and the two embark on the journey of life together.
John Cusack was almost too old to be doing the teen romance movie gig, but he pulled it off for Say Anything, and we are all glad he did.
“I’m Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy” – Notting Hill (1999)
When Julia Roberts told Hugh Grant, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her,” in Notting Hill, time stopped. It is a brilliant romance movie scene between two of the genre’s all-stars, and the exchange has stuck.
This is another line that is constantly referenced in other media because it is just that good. Seriously, what more could you ask for?
Notting Hill follows Hugh Grant as a humble bookshop owner whose life changes when he meets Roberts’ character, one of the world’s biggest film stars. Their disparate backgrounds complicate an otherwise perfect romance, leading to Roberts pouring her heart out in a last attempt to win over the man she loves.
Notting Hill is in the romance movie pantheon, and this iconic scene rises above the rest as one of the most influential of all time.