romantic comedy The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Romantic Comedies  

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List Rules Vote up the rom-coms that define the genre and should be required viewing for beginners in an Intro to Romantic Comedy class.

For those with an aversion to anything too sappy, the romantic comedy is the perfect bridge between romance and humor. Romantic comedies often allow people to enjoy love stories that are a little more down to earth and realistic, or at least somewhat more self aware about the ridiculous nature of cinematic romantic gestures. These romantic comedies for beginners are all films that helped establish the conventions of the rom-com as a genre. From classics like When Harry Met Sally to more modern films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, all the below movies had a major impact when they were released. 

While romance films tend to idealize romantic relationships, romantic comedies tend to show us average people navigating average relationships. Characters go through normal ups and downs where nothing is perfect, things are often funny, and people fall in love the same way we all do. These essential rom-coms often feature highly imperfect romantic leads who are just as awkward about romance as the average viewer. This is part of the reason romantic comedies tend to be so popular - people love seeing relatable characters. While most of us will never have the brooding intrigue of Casablanca's Rick Blaine, we may be as klutzy as Bridget Jones or as cynical and surly as Phil Connors of Groundhog Day

It's highly unlikely you are completely new to the genre, but this list will serve as an intro to romantic comedies just in case you're not well versed. These must-see romantic comedies often made their stars famous and gave us scenes and jokes widely recognized today. These are truly movies everyone should watch, if only to understand the many references to films like Pretty Women and Sleepless in Seattle that dot popular culture. 

Find your favorite and vote it up below! 

list ordered by

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When Harry Met Sally... Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 American romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally. The story follows the ...more

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Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Hank Azaria Pretty Woman is a 1990 American romantic comedy film set in Los Angeles. Written by J. F. Lawton and directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, and features Hector ...more

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Notting Hill Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Mischa Barton Notting Hill is a 1999 British romantic comedy film set in Notting Hill, London, released on 21 May 1999. The screenplay was by Richard Curtis, who had written Four Weddings and a Funeral, and ...more

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Bridget Jones's Diary Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth Bridget Jones's Diary is a 2001 British romantic comedy film directed by Sharon Maguire. It is based on Helen Fielding's novel of the same name which is a reinterpretation of Austen's Pride and ...more

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Annie Hall Woody Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Walken Annie Hall is a 1977 American romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen from a screenplay he co-wrote with Marshall Brickman. Produced by Allen's manager, Charles H. Joffe, the film stars Allen as ...more

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Sleepless in Seattle Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Rosie O'Donnell Sleepless in Seattle is a 1993 American romantic comedy-drama film directed and co-written by Nora Ephron. Based on a story by Jeff Arch, it stars Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin and Meg Ryan as Annie

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10 Things I Hate About You Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gabrielle Union, Heath Ledger 10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 American teen romantic comedy-drama film. It is directed by Gil Junger and stars Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The romantic comedy ...more

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It Happened One Night Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Ward Bond It Happened One Night is a 1934 American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father's ...more

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The Philadelphia Story Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

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Clueless Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd Clueless is a 1995 American comedy film loosely based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma. It stars Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd, and Brittany Murphy. The film is set in Beverly Hills ...more

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The 40-Year-Old Virgin Elizabeth Banks, Kat Dennings, Steve Carell The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a 2005 American romantic comedy film written, produced and directed by Judd Apatow, about a middle-aged man's journey to finally have sex. It was co-written by its ...more

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Manhattan Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, Diane Keaton Manhattan is a 1979 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen and produced by Charles H. Joffe. The screenplay was written by Allen and Marshall Brickman. Allen co-stars as a ...more

The Best R-Rated Romantic Comedies

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What's Up, Doc? Barbra Streisand, Randy Quaid, Madeline Kahn What's Up, Doc? is a 1972 screwball comedy film released by Warner Bros., directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn in her first feature film ...more

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Chasing Amy Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Kevin Smith Chasing Amy is a 1997 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith. The central tension revolves around sexuality, sexual history, and evolving friendships. It is the third ...more

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Bringing Up Baby Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Barry Fitzgerald Bringing Up Baby is a 1938 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film tells the story of a ...more

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The Apartment Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray The Apartment is a 1960 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Billy Wilder, which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was Wilder's next movie after Some ...more

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The Lady Eve Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn The Lady Eve is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges which stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. The film is based on a story by Monckton Hoffe about a ...more

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Four Weddings and a Funeral Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Rowan Atkinson Four Weddings and a Funeral is a 1994 British romantic comedy film directed by Mike Newell. It was the first of several films by screenwriter Richard Curtis to feature Hugh Grant. It was made in ...more

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Moonstruck Nicolas Cage, Cher, Danny Aiello Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and written by John Patrick Shanley. It stars Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia ...more

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Groundhog Day Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Michael Shannon Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story ...more

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Breakfast at Tiffany's Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film ...more

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Some Like It Hot Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American comedy film set in 1929, directed by Billy Wilder, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The film is about two musicians who dress in drag in ...more

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High Fidelity Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Black High Fidelity is a 2000 American comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears and starring John Cusack and Iben Hjejle. The film is based on the 1995 British novel of the same name by Nick ...more

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Splash Tom Hanks, John Candy, Daryl Hannah Splash is a 1984 American fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Ron Howard, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Dody ...more

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Sabrina Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder, adapted for the screen by Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, and Ernest Lehman from Taylor's play Sabrina Fair. It stars Humphrey ...more