Romantic Comedy The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Romantic Comedies  

Ranker Film
129 votes 39 voters 25 items

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! 

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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 title characters from the time they meet just before sharing a cross-country drive, through twelve years or so of chance encounters in New York City. The film raises the question "Can men and women ever just be friends?" and advances many ideas about relationships that became household concepts, such as those of the "high-maintenance" girlfriend and the "transitional person". The origins of the film came from Reiner's return to single life after a divorce. An interview Ephron conducted with Reiner ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher, Harley Jane Kozak, Bruno Kirby, + more

Initial Release: 1989

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Also Ranked

#56 on The Funniest '80s Movies

#58 on 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

#58 on Movies That Should Never Be Remade

#64 on The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

13 0
Is this a must-see?
see more on When Harry Met Sally...
2 10 VOTES

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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 Elizondo, Ralph Bellamy, Laura San Giacomo and Jason Alexander in supporting roles. Its story centers on the down-on-her-luck Hollywood prostitute Vivian Ward who is hired by Edward Lewis, a wealthy businessman, to be his escort for several business and social functions, and their developing relationship over the course of her week-long stay with him. Originally intended to be a dark cautionary tale about class and prostitution in Los Angeles, the film was reconceived as romantic comedy with a large ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Hank Azaria, Jason Alexander, Amy Yasbeck, + more

Initial Release: 1990

Directed by: Garry Marshall

Also Ranked

#27 on 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

#88 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#69 on The Funniest '90s Movies

#57 on Movies That Should Never Be Remade

10 0
Is this a must-see?
see more on Pretty Woman
3 10 VOTES

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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 the film was produced by Duncan Kenworthy and directed by Roger Michell. The film stars Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Rhys Ifans, Emma Chambers, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, and Hugh Bonneville. Notting Hill was well received by critics and became the highest grossing British film released that year. The film won a BAFTA, was nominated in two other categories, and won other awards, including a British Comedy Award and a Brit Award for the soundtrack. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Mischa Barton, Hugh Grant, Emily Mortimer, + more

Initial Release: 1999

Directed by: Roger Michell

Also Ranked

#3 on The Greatest Date Movies of All Time

#22 on The Best Movies of 1999

#86 on The Best Rainy Day Movies

#27 on The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

10 0
Is this a must-see?
see more on Notting Hill
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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 Prejudice. The adaptation stars Renée Zellweger as Bridget, Hugh Grant as the caddish Daniel Cleaver and Colin Firth as Bridget's "true love", Mark Darcy. Production began in May 2000 and ended in August 2000, and took place largely on location in London and the Home Counties. Bridget Jones's Diary premiered on 4 April 2001 in the UK and was released to theaters on 13 April 2001 simultaneously in the UK and in the US. The film received positive reviews and was a commercial success. Zellweger was ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Honor Blackman, Jim Broadbent, + more

Initial Release: 2001

Directed by: Sharon Maguire

Also Ranked

#46 on The Greatest Date Movies of All Time

#88 on The Best Rainy Day Movies

#50 on The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

#11 on The Best Movies for Women

6 0
Is this a must-see?
see more on Bridget Jones's Diary