The 15 Most Romantic Moments in Pop Culture

Across the stars and throughout the Multiverse, love exists in every corner of pop culture. But when it comes to romance, everyone has their flavor of choice. Maybe you fancy a tearjerker, like Moonlight or Titanic, or a classic rom-com like Sleepless in Seattle. Perhaps you look for stories that highlight queer joy like Heartstopper or silver-screen legends like Casablanca. Don’t even get us started on that opening montage from Up.

For all the geeks out there, nerdy pop culture is also full of love. Who could forget Spidey and MJ’s upside-down kiss? Or when Leia™ admits her love for Han Solo™ and he simply replied with, “I know” — that set the bar high for nerf herders™ everywhere.

Love might not be all you need, but it’s certainly a wonderful place to start. Here are some of the most romantic moments in nerdy pop culture.

(Take heart! This article contains important plot points and possible spoilers for each relationship!)

Padmé confesses her love to Anakin in Attack of the Clones

These two star-cross’d lovers really give Romeo and Juliet a run for their money. Against the laws of the Jedi™ and proper protocol, Anakin Skywalker™ and Padmé Amidala™ fall deeply in love. Their doomed romance condemns the entire galaxy but watching them embark on their journey is still enough to make a carbonite-statue™ cry.

As John Williams’ “Across the Stars” swells in the background, Padmé confesses her love to Anakin during Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones™. Both believe this moment may be their last so they waste no time in sharing how they feel.

Waymond talks about taxes in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Ah, yes, taxes. One of our most romantic modern inventions! Somehow, amid hot dog hands and swirling bagel vortexes, taxes became a stand in for the simplicity of love.

The concept of the multiverse has taken hold of our collective pop cultural scene, creating stories that are complex and layered. Everything Everywhere All at Once is the perfect example of our current love for multiversal mayhem. But Waymond brings it all back to the root of things when he tells Evelyn, “In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.” Could it be any simpler, or more beautiful, than that?

Bill & Frank’s Wedding Ceremony in The Last of Us

As far as apocalypses go, fungal zombies really seem to bring out the worst in people. However, even in the most dire of circumstances, love can find a way to grow. Episode 3 of The Last of Us brought us Bill and Frank — characters who were featured in the original game but now have a fully developed backstory.

Their devotion to each other is the type of love that transforms. Though they were cautious at first, over time their relationship brings out the best in each other. That’s a rare gift, especially in a world overrun by Clickers, raiders, and disease. Bill and Frank’s marriage ceremony is especially poignant considering it happened when marriage equality didn’t widely exist. Life might be full of flaws, but if you can find someone who will plant strawberries for you during a zombie apocalypse … that’s a love that will last a long, long time.

“As youuu wiiiiiish” from The Princess Bride

Buttercup loses her one true love, Wesley, so she does her best to move on. Unfortunately, years later she’s abducted by the Dread Pirate Roberts — the same villain who took her beloved Wesley. In the clutches of this evil man, she struggles to escape with all her might and eventually manages to push him down a hill.

However, as Roberts tumbles away, he cries out, “As you wish!” Suddenly, Buttercup realizes that Roberts is in fact Wesley! He would always say this to her as proof of his devotion. In return, Buttercup tumbles after Wesley and their adventure truly begins.

Jack and Sally sing “We’re Simply Meant to Be”

C’mon, the Disney song says it all. Certain couples are simply meant to be no matter how disastrous the journey. Despite the ruined holidays and macabre mayhem of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington and Sally still find their way to each other atop the Spiral Hill.

Spock knows Uhura’s name in Star Trek

What’s in a name? Well, a name is deeply personal. It can be the first thing we share with someone new, or the first question we ask someone who’s caught our eye. It’s also something we repeat to the ones we love.

When they first crossed paths, Uhura didn’t let Kirk know her first name. But with Spock, her partner, Uhura trusts him to know her first name. These two Star Trek leaders provide a safe space for each other, during tender goodbyes and moments of mourning.

Poison Ivy recalls her first Valentine’s with Harley Quinn

In the DC universe, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have undergone major transformations. Harley is now a reluctant sort-of member of the Bat-Family and Ivy has embraced her full potential as a super-villain. There’s tension between these sides of their identities as they also cultivate their relationship.

Recently, Harlivy enjoyed a spectacular Valentine’s Day date. Harley pulled out all the stops (and maybe even a few she should have kept in her back pocket). But the most romantic moment from A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special is when Ivy finally tells Harley about her best V-Day ever. As it turned out, it was simply a visit Harley had made to Ivy’s Arkham cell when Ivy was at her lowest point. A little kindness goes a long way.

Angel & Lil Papi get engaged on Pose

We love a proposal moment, and when Angel finally pops the question to Lil Papi in episode 10 of the second season of Pose, fans let out a collective cheer. Their love certainly took its time, growing from light flirtation to being each other’s source of support.

For those of us who have questioned our worth or believed we weren’t meant for love, this moment tells us that doesn’t have to be true.

Nakia talks about T’Challa in Wakanda Forever

The love between Marvel’s Nakia and T’Challa isn’t showy or dramatic. In fact, it mostly takes place off screen. However, their love is genuine and enduring, as shown by Nakia’s heartfelt speech to Okoye. The world mourns T’Challa as King of Wakanda and Black Panther, but she mourns T’Challa as her everything.

To others, it seemed like Nakia avoided grieving T’Challa when she moved to Haiti. Instead, she just needed her own space to mourn losing the love of a lifetime. Sometimes love leaves a hole in our heart that can’t be filled, but it can be supported by other loves that remain.

Arwen’s sacrifice for Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings

Doomed love is romantic because it lets audiences cling to the hope that all will be right in the end. And in Middle-earth, few loves are more doomed than those between Elves and Men.

Despite all the odds stacked against them, Arwen chooses to give up her immortality so she can be with Aragorn, telling him, “I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.” She entrusts him with the Evenstar necklace as a beacon for their enduring love.

Yorkie and Kelly get vulnerable in “San Junipero”

In many ways, love is all about vulnerability. Even if it’s scary you have to let others in so they can love all of you — not just what you want them to see.

“San Junipero,” the fourth episode of season 3 of Black Mirror, showcases Yorkie and Kelly’s budding romance in an idyllic party town. Throughout the episode, they gradually reveal their secrets to each other. When Kelly reassures Yorkie, she tells her, “Whatever you are can’t scare me.” The foundation they build is the epitome of loving trust.

Manolo serenades María in The Book of Life

Produced by Guillermo del Toro, The Book of Life is a visually stunning tale of fighting for love even in the face of death. Manolo is a bullfighter who dreams of being a musician and Joaquín is a beloved town hero — and both are in love with María.

In their race to win her over, Manolo visits María to serenade her under the moonlight. Diego Luna’s voice is enchanting as he croons about what he knows to be right. It’s obvious who María will pick in the end, but Zoe Saldaña’s well-placed teasing adds a light touch to this swoon-worthy scene.

Yuta’s cursed love in Jujutsu Kaisen

Time is one of the greatest gifts you can give love, especially when that love is cut short. With time, heartbreak can find a way to heal even through tragedy. Yuta Okkotsu learned this lesson of love on Jujutsu Kaisen when he was finally able to set the Queen of Curses free. By unraveling the curse that bound Rika Orimoto to her spirit form, both Rika and Yuta were able to move on and let their love rest in peace.

Janai’s fiery proposal in The Dragon Prince

Sometimes when two fierce warriors from two very different worlds come together, love finds a way to wrestle itself into existence.

The Dragon Prince presents General Amaya, a deaf army commander, and Janai, a Sunfire Elf. Though they start off not understanding each other, Janai eventually uses sign language to propose to Amaya in a beautiful surprise (featuring flame ribbons, vibrant flowers, and a slight but adorable misunderstanding).

True love’s kiss brings true love’s form in Shrek

We’ve all heard the fairytales. We know the beginnings and the endings and even the clichéd middles. But what if True Love’s Kiss actually did what it’s supposed to do?

Shrek is a story that challenges what we consider to be beautiful, and reinforces the power of a love that’s accepting. When that kind of love offers a kiss, the results are more potent than a swampy ogre onion.

Honorable Mentions

  • Right as she’s headed back to her plane seat at the end of Crazy Rich Asians, Rachel is stopped by Nick, who proves that it doesn’t matter where you propose as much as how.
  • When Sophie tells Howl that “a heart’s a heavy burden” in the classic Studio Ghibli love story Howl’s Moving Castle, we all felt that.
  • Family can often get in the way of love but Critical Role’s Percy de Rolo valiantly stands up to Vex’s father and grants her a title of nobility.
  • Try avoiding the tears when Vision asks Wanda what he is during “The Series Finale” of WandaVision and she tells him that he’s her love.
  • In Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, Batman and Catwoman provide the blueprint for the sizzling slow burn of enemies to lovers, especially as they discover each other’s secret identity at the masquerade.

Who said love can’t be nerdy? For many of our favorite characters, love is their driving motivation. With others, it’s a character-defining experience. But in the end, love perseveres.

Tell us your favorite romantic moments from nerdy pop culture over in our Atomic Misfits Facebook Group, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!