Memorable Onscreen Couples Who Define Relationship Goals
No doubt about it — everyone loves a good romance story. Whether those awesome characters are in movies or on television, we can’t seem to get enough of watching our favorites fall in love. They have undeniable onscreen chemistry that sizzles, creating the perfect illusion that the romances are real.
From The Notebook to I Love Lucy, many movies and TV shows have featured memorable relationships that inspired us to set similar relationship goals in the real world. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic onscreen relationships of all time. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy
We’re starting our list with perhaps the most iconic romantic TV couple of all time: Lucy and Ricky Ricardo from the 1950’s sitcom I Love Lucy. Just say the names "Lucy" and "Ricky," and people will know exactly who you’re talking about.
Nathan and Haley, One Tree Hill
More affectionately known as "Naley," the relationship between Nathan Scott (James Lafferty) and Haley James (Bethany Joy Lenz) was undeniably one of the best things about the 2000’s teen drama One Tree Hill. How many high school relationships (and marriages) end well these days?
Seth and Summer, The O.C.
They say opposites attract, and that’s exactly what happened to Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) and Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) in the 2000’s teen drama The O.C. Summer was popular and lively, and every teenage boy was attracted to her. On the other hand, Seth was dorky and anxious.
Ennis and Jack, Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain was a breakthrough film for LGBTQ representation. The 2005 drama focused on the tragic, forbidden romance between Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). The two cowboys were clearly in love with each other, but they believed they couldn’t be together.
Joe and Kathleen, You’ve Got Mail
Is there anything better than watching Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in a love story? In the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail, Joe Fox (Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) hated each other because they were bookstore rivals. Even though they had wonderful chemistry, they refused to acknowledge it.
Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’s Diary
Who doesn’t love Bridget Jones? A modern-day version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, 2001’s Bridget Jones's Diary tells the story of a single Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) and her dating trials. She repeatedly encountered Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who she believed to be the most tightly wound, arrogant man in England.
Han Solo and Princess Leia, Star Wars
You normally don’t think of the Star Wars franchise as being a love story, but the force was strong between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). They were from very different social backgrounds. Han was rough and engaged in illegal activities, while Princess Leia was a royal who was honest and caring.
Rob and Laura Petrie, The Dick Van Dyke Show
Rob and Laura Petrie from the 1960’s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show were a couple that inspired the ultimate marriage goals. Rob (Dick Van Dyke) had a great sense of humor, and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) was just as fun and sweet. They complemented each other beautifully.
Chuck and Blair, Gossip Girl
The relationship between Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) and Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) is often fans’ favorite thing about the 2000’s high school drama Gossip Girl. Chuck and Blair were manipulative and unpleasant at times, but they also brought out each other’s soft side.
Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big, Sex and the City
It’s hard to keep up with Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big’s relationship on the 2000’s drama Sex and the City. Their relationship was definitely rocky. Would they end up together or not? That was the question, but Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) ultimately realized Mr. Big (Chris Noth) was the man for her.
Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, Twilight
From 2008 to 2012, nearly every teenage girl was obsessed with Twilight. Vampire love stories were the most popular genre for quite some time. People couldn’t get enough of the tales, including the romance between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
Cory and Topanga, Boy Meets World
Everyone dreamed of having a childhood sweetheart relationship like Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) in the 1990’s comedy Boy Meets World. From the beginning of the show, Cory and Topanga were destined to end up together.
Joanie and Chachi, Happy Days
Joanie loves Chachi in the 1970’s comedy Happy Days — so much so that they had their own spinoff for a while. Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio) loved his "blue eyes," Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran), even though she ignored his advances at first. However, he didn’t give up on her, and Joanie eventually realized Chachi was the best man for her.
Luke and Lorelai, Gilmore Girls
From the beginning of the 2000’s comedy-drama Gilmore Girls, viewers knew Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) was destined to end up with Luke Danes (Scott Patterson). Lorelai was quirky and fun, while Luke was tough and serious. Somehow, these personality traits worked together in the most wonderful way possible.
Jim and Pam, The Office
To this day, fans still love and binge-watch the 2000’s sitcom The Office. One of the most memorable aspects of the show was the budding, flirtatious romance between office worker Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer). Would they ever admit their true feelings? Fans couldn’t wait to see!
Danny and Sandy, Grease
Some people say every good girl needs to date at least one bad boy in her life. In the 1978 movie musical Grease, Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) was an Australian exchange student who fell in love with the legendary bad boy in the flick, Danny Zuko (John Travolta).
Westley and Buttercup, The Princess Bride
It would be hard to resist farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes) in the 1987 fantasy-romance film The Princess Bride. He loved Buttercup (Robin Wright) and would do anything for her. All he had to say was, "As you wish," and women swooned.
Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak, Breakfast at Tiffany's
Starring Audrey Hepburn, the 1961 drama Breakfast at Tiffany’s shouldn’t really be a love story. It focused on Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, as she navigated her life in New York City. The character actually popularized the little black dress and oversized sunglasses.
Oliver and Jenny, Love Story
The 1970 drama Love Story was obviously always intended to be a love story. The movie focused on wealthy Harvard University law student Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) and Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw), a middle-class music student at Radcliffe College. Of course, it was love at first sight.
Ross and Rachel, Friends
The on-and-off-again romance between Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) and Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) might just be one of the most memorable things about the popular sitcom Friends. From the beginning of the show, fans wondered if they would ever end up together.
Harry and Sally, When Harry Met Sally
Don’t you love a good love story about two friends who fall in love? In the 1989 classic romantic drama When Harry Met Sally, Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) first meet as bickering travel companions who are continuously drawn back together throughout the movie.
Vivian and Edward, Pretty Woman
The 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman was billed as a modern twist on Cinderella. Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) was a hooker with a heart of gold, which was pretty far removed from a fairy tale. It didn’t take long for her to leave an impression on wealthy businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere).
Noah and Allie, The Notebook
One of the most beloved love stories of the 21st century, the 2004 film The Notebook focused on the intense romance between Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams). What started as a summer fling in the 1940s turned into a lifetime love story and relationship.
Baby and Johnny, Dirty Dancing
There’s nothing better than a movie about forbidden love. In the 1987 romantic drama Dirty Dancing, Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) was staying with her parents at a summer resort when she met the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).
Katie and Hubbell, The Way We Were
There couldn’t be anything more perfect than Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in the 1973 drama The Way We Were. Opposites attracted in a huge way when Katie Morosky (Streisand) and Hubbell Gardner (Redford) met in college. They had different life goals, but they were passionate about each other.
Rick and Ilsa, Casablanca
Casablanca is one of the most famous films in cinematic history. The 1942 romantic drama featured nightclub owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who discovered his old flame, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), was in town with her husband. Rick and Ilsa were forbidden to be together, but they still loved each other.
Jack and Rose, Titanic
"You jump, I jump, Jack." Titanic is one of the most famous love stories ever told. The 1997 classic drama predominantly fictionalized the story of the sinking of the RMS Titanic — with some real facts thrown in. Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) was forbidden from seeing poor Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), but that didn’t stop her from falling in love with him.
Maria and Tony, West Side Story
We could never grow tired of watching the love story between Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) in the classic 1961 musical West Side Story. A modern musical based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the movie told the story of star-crossed lovers who belonged to rival gangs — the Jets and the Sharks — in New York City.
Maria and The Captain, The Sound of Music
1965’s The Sound of Music was truly a heartwarming story about unexpected love. Based on the real-life story of the Von Trapp family during World War II, the movie told the story of Maria (Julie Andrews), who became a governess for the seven children of the widowed Austrian naval captain, Baron von Trapp (Christopher Plummer).
Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind
Frankly, my dear, how could Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara not be No. 1 on our list? The memorable 1939 romantic drama Gone with the Wind featured a romance that was definitely uneasy during the Civil War. Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) was a tough southern belle, while Rhett (Clark Gable) was a charming ladies’ man.